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Archive for July, 2012

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Tuesday, July 31st, 2012 by Bev Clark

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Consultancy: Zimbabwean Community Based Child Care Project

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Tuesday, July 31st, 2012 by Bev Clark

External Evaluation – Community Based Child Care Project – Children First Project: The Child Protection Society
Deadline: 10 August 2012

Child Protection Society seeks to engage a qualified consultant(s) to conduct an end of project evaluation for the Children First – World Education funded project. The main objective of the project was to strengthen the capacity of communities to care for, support their families and to uphold children’s rights, specifically through ensuring access to essential services and facilities for orphan and other vulnerable children.

Qualifications and experience
-Advanced University Degree, preferably a Masters in any Social Science discipline or other relevant field
-10 years of relevant experience in child welfare and community based programmes
-Experience in undertaking similar evaluations in Zimbabwe
-Demonstrated ability to undertake both qualitative and quantitative research
-Excellent communication, analytical and report writing skills
-Knowledge of the Zimbabwe context is desirable

Terms of References can be obtained on request from pmpofu@cps.org.zw or physically from Child Protection Society Harare offices, Cnr H.Chitepo & Snowdon, Belvedere, Harare.

All applications should be hand delivered addressed to Administration Assistant in sealed envelopes or/and emailed to pmpofu@cps.org.zw with a clear Proposal and Budget, clearly marked: External Evaluation – Consultant.

GNU the Sequel

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Tuesday, July 31st, 2012 by Bev Clark

Will the constitution in the making help bring about free and fair elections in Zimbabwe? Will it help restore democracy? Will it provide the political checks and balances that are crucial for real democracy? Many think not. There’s already talk that the next election in Zimbabwe will bring about GNU the Sequel. What is waiting in the wings is yet another elite political deal made between two parties too attached to power and position, than honouring the democratic process.

Here is an article by Dale Dore. Worth a read I think.

What is David Coltart saying?

In his reply to Ben Freeth’s letter, David Coltart said that the land provisions are “racially discriminatory and should never be in any modern democratic constitution.” He also said that even worse than these land provisions was that “far too much power is still vested in the executive.” In other words, the constitution abrogates fundamental human rights and does not contain the necessary checks and balances to constrain Presidential powers. Yet, Coltart argues that we cannot “pick and choose” which elements we like, and urges us to accept the constitution in its entirety or risk subverting the whole process. His argument is baseless on a number of counts.

The first is that human rights and the separation of powers, amongst others, are not minor elements but the core pillars upon which a democratic constitution stands or falls. Remove one of those pillars and the whole edifice of the constitution crumbles. Equally worrying, is that the constitution specifically contradicts the rulings of the SADC Tribunal which were based on international customary law and the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties. As ZANU(PF) systematically discredited and dismantled the Tribunal, the MDC did nothing but maintain a shameful silence. Now Coltart is asking the people to do that same: turn a blind eye to grievous flaws inserted into the constitution at the behest of those who militate against the Tribunal and international law.

The second argument Coltart uses is that if we do not accept this deeply flawed document we will play into the hands of ZANU(PF) hardliners. But, hold on a minute …  are the people of Zimbabwe being asked to judge the draft constitution on its own merits or to make a political decision? Is Coltart asking us to blindly accept the founding law by which we are to be governed, and to vote along party lines for a document conceived through an elite political pact? Just because Jonathan Moyo is rejecting it for political reasons, do the people of Zimbabwe also have to accept it for political reasons? But there is more. By my reading of the constitution, the MDC has already played into the hands of the hardliners by capitulating on human rights, executive powers, and the question of justice.

The third argument on which Coltart can be challenged is his notion that the draft constitution will lead to more accountability, more democracy, and the loss of power by hardliners. This is an odd claim given that, by Coltart’s own admission, the new constitution makes “the fundamental error of thinking that men can be trusted with power.” Indeed, it is possible that such unconscionable executive powers could remain in the hands on Robert Mugabe or his successor. If so, this is hardly likely to lead to a loss of power by hardliners. But even this misses a central point. The constitution (whether it is the new or old) and the rule of law are irrelevant to hardliners. If Robert Mugabe blatantly disregarded the last constitution, why should he abide by the new one? By what constitutional authority, for example, does the President instruct the police to defy court orders and ignore their constitutional duty to protect the people from atrocities committed by his party supporters? The truth of the matter is that they subverted the old constitution and then inserted the offending clauses in the new draft constitution. Is this what Coltart’s is trying to sell us as “an all out bid to protect people”?

The fourth argument Coltart advances is his now infamous line that “we just do not have any other options.” This is his ‘killer quote’ to convince any doubters that unless we, like the MDC, compromise with a regime that has brought nothing but poverty, humiliation and misery – and which created a Diaspora that has conveniently been denied the vote – matters will only get worse. The MDC won elections and ceded power because ‘they had no other option’; they legitimised the seizure of farms based on race because ‘they had no other option’. When Mugabe refused on budge on any GPA reforms, they joined him by calling for the removal of sanctions because ‘they had no other option’. Although the MDC has given in on almost every major political decision, including principles of natural justice, Coltart denies the charge of appeasement. Instead, he claims there is no non-violent “practical alternative”. Perhaps this is because he mistakes non-violence for pacifism and collusion rather than as a mode of struggle and resistance against tyranny.

But now, we the people do have an option to decide upon whether or not to adopt the draft constitution. We must deliberate and discuss the merits and flaws of the draft constitution rigorously and openly. We must decide whether any president should be trusted with such sweeping constitutional powers. If necessary, we should sink this rickety and leaky ferry and start afresh with a sturdy and seaworthy vessel of state that can confidently withstand the constitutional gales and storms that lie ahead. But, above all, we must not be blackmailed into accepting the unacceptable.

Dale Doré
Harare, 28 July 2012

Democracy must be driven from below

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Tuesday, July 31st, 2012 by Bev Clark

New from Freedom House.

In Zimbabwe, democracy must be driven from below

With a constitutional referendum and subsequent national elections drawing near, Zimbabwe is poised to enter an exciting and highly uncertain period. However, if left in the hands of the current political elites, the creation of a democratic Zimbabwe remains unlikely at best.

Once an inspiring example for the African continent, Zimbabwe under independence fighter Robert Mugabe and his Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) has become the epitome of a dysfunctional, corrupt, despotic country. Stability during the first years of independence was followed by violent suppression of the Ndebele ethnic minority in the 1980s, increasing authoritarianism and economic decline in the 1990s, and outright dictatorship in the past decade—characterized by political violence, land grabbing, electoral fraud, and the abuse of state resources. The climax of this process came in 2008, when Mugabe’s regime, having lost parliamentary elections and facing the loss of the presidency as well, embarked on a campaign of violence against the opposition and its supporters. The crackdown killed scores of people and led opposition presidential candidate Morgan Tsvangirai to drop out of a runoff vote against Mugabe. Facing intense brutality and regional diplomatic pressure, Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) was forced to accept a power-sharing government of national unity, with Mugabe remaining in place as president.

The MDC, ZANU-PF, and the country’s security apparatus have many more interdependent interests now than in 2008. What binds these three unlikely and reluctant partners together is a shared commitment to preserving their participation in a power-sharing agreement at the expense of any true political and social reforms. And the more uncertain the political situation becomes, the more they will need and rely on one other.

ZANU-PF is in many ways a perfect reflection of its longtime leader: old, rigid, authoritarian, and desperately clinging to the trappings of power as its founding ideology fades into history. It can no longer rely on its traditional bases of support, whether within Zimbabwe or among its liberation-era comrades in the region. The suspicious death last year of former army chief Solomon Mujuru, the husband of Vice President Joice Mujuru and a reputed “kingmaker” in the party, put the spotlight on bitter rivalries within the ZANU-PF leadership. Years of mutual distrust, personal avarice, and criminal interests are ripping the party apart. After the most recent Politburo meeting, ZANU-PF had to publicly threaten its own officials in the hopes of consolidating the party structure for one last run at national glory.

The MDC also seems to have lost its coherence and sense of direction. For all the initial optimism it inspired, the party is afflicted by the weaknesses of a typical junior coalition partner, ceding ground on an endless series of important issues. These have included an increase in the number of ZANU-PF ministers, the replacement of the attorney general and the reserve bank governor, and targeted sanctions against ZANU-PF leaders. The political and economic reforms championed by the MDC, including work on upholding freedoms of expression and association, have stalled. Even when nominal progress is made, it is followed by prolonged delays in implementation and compromise solutions, as with the process for drafting a new constitution, the centerpiece of the MDC political program. The MDC and its leadership are at times openly resentful of their support base, including human rights groups and civil society, wrongly interpreting constructive criticism and insistence on reforms as evidence of insufficient loyalty and support. The MDC is also terrified of the security forces’ potentially brutal response if it were to opt out of the present power configuration, meaning much of the party’s effort is devoted to preserving its participation in the unity government and its relationship with ZANU-PF.

Unlike the two main parties, the security apparatus appears to be organized and focused. Brimming with confidence as a result of ill-gotten diamond wealth, it is ready to kill with impunity, burn down homes, and torture opponents as needed. It is also motivated by fear, however, with the overriding objective of avoiding investigation by the International Criminal Court. The “securocrats” have undeniable influence over ZANU-PF and the MDC alike. Amid the near-collapse of Mugabe’s regime in 2008, the military wrested control of the state structure from ZANU-PF, infiltrated the party in alarming numbers, and assumed key positions of power, all while encouraging predictions of an outright military coup. Indeed, the only thing averting a coup is the fact that average Zimbabweans—including traditional ZANU-PF stalwarts and lower-ranking military and police personnel—truly despise the army and police commanders. Thus the securocrats remain dependent on ZANU-PF’s civilian facade and the MDC’s enduring veneer of credibility.

So what is next for Zimbabwe? The MDC could once again win a nationwide election, though recent rumors suggest that it would endorse another unity government to preserve “stability” and mitigate the risk of potential conflict with the securocrats. ZANU-PF could again attempt to hijack the elections through fraud and violence, but would likely back off if faced with hostility from regional leaders. For their part, the security chiefs could kill and torture scores of opponents and attempt an armed coup, but this would jeopardize their personal, long-term economic interests, making support for another government of national unity an attractive alternative.

Sadly, the current political stalemate and lack of reforms could go on indefinitely. If the dream of a democratic Zimbabwe is ever to come true, the country’s citizens, whether they sympathize with the MDC or ZANU-PF, will have to start pushing their representatives to actually represent them, to be accountable and socially responsive, and to build a legitimate political system founded on free and fair elections and the rule of law.

Vukasin Petrovic, Director of Africa Programs, Freedom House

Human rights should also be applied online

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Tuesday, July 31st, 2012 by Lenard Kamwendo

UN Human Rights Council Resolution (A/HRC/20/L.13, July 5, 2012)  “affirms the same rights that people have offline must also be protected online, in particular freedom of expression, which is applicable regardless of frontiers and through any media of one’s choice, in accordance with articles 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. “

Most governments and private companies are increasingly violating this resolution by perpetrating human rights violations online, either through content censoring, intimidation, denying access to information and selling individual’s private data. The reason why the Internet grew so fast is based on the fact that the libertarian engineers who created it thought governments were not going to control it. Currently Africa has an Internet penetration rate of 57 percent and it is predicted that by the year 2020 every African will have a mobile phone.

The recent Arab spring really caught most governments off guard in terms of realizing the power of Internet. As technology moves fast authoritarian governments are now investing a lot in trying to control the Internet rather than making the service available to every citizen. Governments are now using all methods of censorship in trying to limit freedom of expression on the Internet. The recent story of an Ethiopian blogger who was sentenced to 18 years in prison is just one example of how governments are working to suppress independent voices. The rise in Internet censorship calls for urgent action to broaden the constituencies involved in the promotion of human rights including media, communication, and human rights actors.

Civil society has a role to play through engaging governments to ensure that the same rights that people have offline are also protected online, in particular freedom of expression, which is being constantly violated. Liberalized telecommunications markets also play an important role through the provision of affordable Internet to people. Competition, independent ownership of infrastructure and liberalized telecommunications markets should be promoted to ensure an open, affordable and net neutrality.

Who Controls the Internet?

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Tuesday, July 31st, 2012 by Lenard Kamwendo

Members of civil society, donor agencies and government representatives from various countries converged in Nairobi, Kenya to discuss ways to make the Internet free under the discussion topic “Who Controls the Internet.” Civil society representatives were mainly from African countries and the Kubatana Trust of Zimbabwe was part of the workshop. Global Partners and Associates organized the workshop with support from the Kenya Human Rights Commission, Ford Foundation and Association for Progressive Communication (APC).

Internet as a tool to democratize free speech has come under attack and surveillance especially from authoritarian governments. The race to control the Internet by governments under the disguise of protecting public interest and national security has made civil society realize the need to shape the Internet environment nationally, regionally and globally.

In order to shape the Internet environment delegates at the workshop shared ideas on how to engage governments in policy formulation, which addresses human rights online. The need to sensitize Parliaments was also seen as an effective in making policy makers aware of the changing and demanding environment of the Internet thereby helping them when crafting Internet friendly policies.

The launching of the Freedom Online Coalition in December last year was seen as positive step towards the direction of protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms online. The Netherlands government representative at the workshop explained briefly about how the Freedom Online Coalition works by highlighting that the Coalition is made up of 17 countries across the world committed to promoting Internet freedom. At the launch last year the Coalition also pledged to provide greater support for cyber activists and bloggers under threat. As part of this effort, the United States and the Netherlands committed funds to a new Digital Defenders partnership. Currently the Netherlands government is working in Kenya on a program to make Internet free in that country.

Civil society representatives collaborated on a shared statement covering issues discussed in the three-day workshop covering effective strategies to use across the continent and what other stakeholders can do in the shaping of the Internet environment.