Kubatana.net ~ an online community of Zimbabwean activists

Archive for May, 2009

Show us excellence in action

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Monday, May 18th, 2009 by Amanda Atwood

The more the MDC insists that it is “a party of excellence,” the more sceptical I become about it. Having agreed to this transitional government arrangement with Zanu PF, it is now finding it difficult to actually get anything done. Mugabe flouts the agreement by appointing the Attorney-General and Reserve Bank Governor without consulting with the MDC, and at the same time refuses to swear in the MDC’s Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Roy Bennett.

The MDC’s National Council met on the weekend to decide what to do about some of the problems they’re having in this “power sharing” agreement, like the appointment of permanent secretaries and Provincial Governors.

Their resolution? To ask SADC and the AU for help. Never mind that it was SADC’s mediation that created this imbalanced agreement in the first place. If the MDC can’t solve its problems without looking to outsiders for help, what confidence can we have it its ability to run the country?  It’s time they started demonstrating excellence in action, not just in words.

100 day demands

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Monday, May 18th, 2009 by Bev Clark

I’ve just had sight of a press release from Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) regarding the power sharing agreement and what the priorities of the Government of National Unity (GNU) should be in the first 100 days. WOZA got over 6000 people to share their views. I really hope that WOZA will sit down with the leaders of the GNU and that the GNU will actually listen to what the people want – for a change.

Here are the top 5 priorities put forward by Zimbabweans. For more information please visit www.wozazimbabwe.org

1. Fix the education system:
- We want free or affordable better quality education, with resources for our children and teachers who are motivated by descent salaries.
- Teachers still look at parents as their employer while the real employer, government, looks on helplessly.

2. Urgent reforms to stabilize the economy:
- Reintroduce local currency as soon as possible because not everyone can access foreign currency and afford to use it. Find a way to bring back a stable Zimbabwe dollar currency.
- Audit finances at RBZ and Gono should be investigated for corruption and either be fired or resign.

3. Restore the health care system:
- We need affordable fees for clinics and hospitals and enough affordable medicines.
- Pregnancy no longer means celebrating a birth but pain and suffering due to high costs; demands for bribes and bad service. Nurses and doctors must be told to treat patients with respect. They must also earn a living wage that dignifies them.
- Please allow people a dignified death – buy more storage fridges and clean up mortuaries.

4. Better quality, affordable and efficient service delivery from ZESA, City Councils and Tel One:
- They keep increasing their tariffs but at the same time they decrease their service. Make sure people are getting a clean supply of water. Reduce telephone tariffs and improve service.

5. Create employment and opportunities:
- We want jobs for all and those with jobs require a living wage that enables them to afford to get to work and eat three meals a day.
- Offer civil servants a decent salary.
- Allow people to get trading licenses and tell police to stop treating vendors like criminals.
- Encourage informal and cross-border trading by capacitating ordinary people with self-help projects and training so that they will be able to create more business on a small scale, which will automatically boost industry.

Treating Zimbabwe like a piece of candy

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Monday, May 18th, 2009 by Bev Clark

Mgcini, a Kubatana subscriber, shares his thoughts on the constitution and the Government of National Unity . . .

In 2000 I voted NO to the proposed draft constitution, the one Jonathan Moyo tried diligently to sell to us. If I had known more about the new constitution I would have voted NO anyway, but I did not and I voted NO because the opposition was pushing for a NO vote. It was a stupid and uninformed decision. We were used by the opposition to render useless a noble process known as a referendum. I vowed back then to diligently look at all available facts before blindly following bogus leadership. It is in this kind of spirit that I find myself not belonging to any political party. None of the leadership, especially Morgan Tsvangirai and Robert Mugabe has made it about the country, Zimbabwe as opposed to personal advancement. The so-called Government of National Unity, Transitional government or Inclusive government as some would prefer to call it is an insult to our intelligence and integrity as a people. If it is truly an inclusive government, where is Simba Makoni, Jonathan Moyo, Nkosana Moyo, John Makumbe, Margaret Dongo to name, but a few. Robert Mugabe, Morgan Tsvangirai and one professor of robotics think Zimbabwe is theirs to do as they please with. Why should they behave like children and treat Zimbabwe as a piece of candy they are squabbling over. What does the ordinary Zimbabwean know about the new government and what it’s mandate is? The teachers are on, or have threatened to strike because they are not informed and they do not know what their role is in this circus. Instead of spending money on luxury vehicles and expensive retreats, the new government should  produce information packets and have public forums to inform the people and get the people’s take on things. Are we so feeble minded that three clueless people should do everything for us?

C’mon guys

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Friday, May 15th, 2009 by Bev Clark

The Government of National Unity should stop talking and start acting.

The unity government has the power to remove Aippa, license new broadcasters, reform the ZBC and Zimpapers to make them relevant to the needs of the people. These are the reforms that people are looking for. – Rashweat Mukundu, Programme Specialist: Media Monitoring and Research Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa) Regional Secretariat

Water, Power, Police

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Friday, May 15th, 2009 by Bev Clark

Here are a few burning issues being shared with Kubatana by members of the Zimbabwean public . . .


Hi, I would like to bring to your attention the health time bomb that most Zimbabweans have been exposed to and I am appealing that your organization could make Zimbabweas aware of the danger of consuming poorly treated water a problem caused by Zanu PF misrule. I hope that your organization can help by informing the general public that they should try and take responsibility for their health by ensuring that their water is first purified before consuming it. I would also like to appeal to you to mobilise Zimbabweans to bombard their MPs and senators and parliament by means of email, phone calls, sms’s, personal meetings and letters demanding that they starting implementing the Zambezi pipeline project and the Kunzwi dam project these are the only projects that will long term solutions to the critical clean water crisis,they should be focusing on solving this health crisis instead of fighting over cars. The cholera epidemic was just the tip of the iceberg worse things are still to come. The provision of clean water by a government is a basic human right. - Maryanne


What is the true situation with Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) bills? Here in Mutare we received household bills of up to US$300.00. I don’t always have access to the press but I hear ZESA was directed to slash these astronomical figures by a certain percentage. Is this the true position right now? Efforts to contact ZESA have proved fruitless as one is put on continuous “hold”. - Iris


My experience occurred on 3 May 2009 at 3pm at Christmas Pass roadblock in Mutare in the hands of a police officer with a name I saw on a ticket reading like Sada. I was driving my recently imported Toyota car with temporary card board number plates being issued these days. I had tried by all means to buy ordinary plates but failed since ZIMRA in Harare is said to have no plates. At the road block when the police officer saw my car with this temporary number plate he immediately took it and ordered my car to be parked out of road saying it had been impounded by police and it is only them who will drive it to police camp. I asked the reason for that and they said the number plate was supposed to be written the route which I was supposed to use and hence was not allowed to move from Masvingo to Mutare. I explained that I was informed that these numbers allowed me to travel in all parts of Zimbabwe but not outside the country but the police officer refused and said it is only him who can explain the law. I asked one police officer who was not manning the roadblock and he said there was nothing like that since temporal number plates are allowed in all parts of the country of Zimbabwe. He ordered me to reason with him maybe he wanted me to pay money to him. I said I was not prepared to pay the money as a UN staff and if I had the case I would pay a legal ticket. I even phoned CID Masvingo who had cleared the car and  they told me that there was no case but were supposed to give me back my car. I went back to the police officer and tried to reason with him asking him if he could write a ticket of whichever amount so that I can pay but refused. I requested to take him to Police camp to verify if the car was stolen but he refused saying he will do it at his own time since he was knocking off at 10pm. I informed him that I had little children in the car and was going to Masvingo and would end up driving at night which is unsafe but he refused. During the negotiations he was giving me gestures that he wanted me to pay bribe money but I refused. I waited for an hour and was later given back my number plates warning me not to argue with police. I left the road block at 4pm and had to travel during the night to Masvingo risking cattle and all problems of night driving. I was emotionally disturbed and had to drive to Masvingo in this state together with whole family risking my family’s life. I am still disappointed about this event and should there be a way of making this police person be put to book I will pursue it. His name I am sure is Sada and purports to be coming from Mt Darwin at Dotito.
- Ephraim

Burn the red carpet

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Wednesday, May 13th, 2009 by Bev Clark

On Monday lunchtime I landed at Harare Airport and the South African Airways pilot made an announcement saying that passengers should remain in their seats so that the Korean (North) delegation could leave the plane first. There was a whole lot of rumbling in response to this from passengers up and down the aircraft. Then the pilot spoke again and asked passengers to exit out the back door so that the Korean delegation could skip out the front and along the red carpet all on their own. The rumbling grew louder. Another announcement and we were told that stairs for the back door couldn’t be found so we’d get our turn on the red carpet after all. The pilot apologised, and so he should have. What sort of crap is this? Why should the Korean delegation get any special treatment? Come to think of it they hadn’t even bought business class tickets, so sitting cattle class like me they should have waited their turn like everyone else.

Bollocks I say.

Even bigger bollocks was the fan fare put on by the Government of National Unity . . . they rolled out Everything, not just the red carpet. And I believe that Morgan Tsvangirai and Thoko Kupe were part of the welcome party.

A text message I received on that day read

I would not like to think any member of the MDC whatever group would attend the state banquet tonight for organisers of the fifth brigade.

So who were the fifth brigade and what did they do? Here is an excerpt from a report called Breaking the Silence published by the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace. The report discusses the atrocities in Matabeleland in the early 1980s.

In October 1980, Prime Minister Mugabe signed an agreement with the North Korean President, Kim Il Sung that they would train a brigade for the Zimbabwean army. This was soon after Mugabe had announced the need for a militia to “combat malcontents”. However, there was very little civil unrest in Zimbabwe at this time.

In August 1981, 106 Koreans arrived to train the new brigade, which Mugabe said was to be used to “deal with dissidents and any other trouble in the country”. Even by August 1981, there had been very little internal unrest. Joshua Nkomo, leader of ZAPU, asked why this brigade was necessary, when the country already had a police force to handle internal problems. He suggested Mugabe would use it to build a one party state.

Mugabe replied by saying dissidents should “watch out”, and further announced the brigade would be called “Gukurahundi”, which means the rain which washes away the chaff before the spring rains.

5 Brigade was drawn from 3500 ex-ZANLA troops at Tongogara Assembly Point. There were a few ZIPRA troops in the unit for a start, but they were withdrawn before the end of the training. It seems there were also some foreigners in the unit, possibly Tanzanians. The training of 5 Brigade lasted until September 1982, when Minister Sekeramayi announced training was complete.

The first Commander of 5 Brigade was Colonel Perence Shiri. 5 Brigade was different to all other army units, in that it was not integrated into the army. It was answerable only to the Prime Minister, and not to the normal army command structures. Their codes, uniforms, radios and equipment were not compatible with other army units. Their most distinguishing feature in the field was their red berets. 5 Brigade seemed to be a law unto themselves once in the field.

Deployment of 5 Brigade – Matabeleland North, 1983

In late January 1983, 5 Brigade was deployed in Matabeleland North. Within weeks, they had murdered more than two thousand civilians, beaten thousands more, and destroyed hundreds of homesteads. Their impact on the communities they passed through was shocking.

Most of the dead were shot in public executions, often after being forced to dig their own graves in front of family and fellow villagers. The largest number of dead in a single killing involved the deliberate shooting of 62 young men and women on the banks of the Cewale River, Lupane, on 5 March 1983. Seven survived with gunshot wounds, the other 55 died. Another way 5 Brigade killed large groups of people was to burn them alive in huts. They did this in Tsholotsho and also in Lupane.

At the same time as 5 Brigade was sent into the area, the Government had introduced a strict curfew on the region. This prevented anybody from entering or leaving the area, banned all forms of transport and prevented movement in the region from dusk to dawn. A food curfew was also in force, with stores being closed. People caught using bicycles or donkey carts were shot. No journalists were allowed near the region. This situation meant that it was very hard to get news of events out of the region, and hard to judge the truth of the early accounts. However, as some people managed to flee the area, stories of the atrocities began to spread.

Targeting civilians: during these early weeks, 5 Brigade behaved in a way that shows they had clearly been trained to target civilians. Wherever they went, they would routinely round up dozens, or even hundreds, of civilians and march them at gun point to a central place, like a school or bore-hole. There they would be forced to sing Shona songs praising ZANU-PF, at the same time being beaten with sticks. These gatherings usually ended with public executions. Those killed could be ex-ZIPRAs, ZAPU officials, or anybody chosen at random, including women. Large numbers of soldiers were involved in these events, sometimes as many as two hundred, and often forty or more.

If Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Deputy Thoko Kupe were part of the welcome party at Harare Airport then I’m pretty sure that they attended the state banquet as well. The thought of this made me choke – what about you? A question to ask ourselves is when do we move on and put these national injustices behind us?

After a national inquiry perhaps?