By Own Correspondent – Twenty three months have now elapsed since the signing of the Zimbabwean Global Political Agreement (GPA) but there is little real progress to show for the effort, the resources and the livelihoods that have been consumed in the ongoing political stalemate in Zimbabwe.
Once again we have looked to find the origins of the chaos by analysis of the facts to hand. Over the month of August, seventy-six news articles from the internet media were captured and catalogued through the month of August. Each article is a unique record of a breach of the terms of the GPA. Categorising these articles according to the nature of breach, allows basic statistics to be drawn from them.
The results clearly show the cause of Zimbabwe’s governmental malaise. This month saw the Constitutional Outreach program in full swing. Consequentially, a huge rise in the number of attempts to derail the national exercise has made this the top breach in our media monitoring exercise with 19 articles (25% of the total). A worrying trend that emerged here is the fact that, of all breaches recorded against the outreach exercise, 68.42% of them involved violence, intimidation, hate speech or abductions. (It should be noted that ZZZICOMP independent monitors have been cataloguing problematic constitution outreach issues specifically, providing far more detail than the ZIG Watch project can hope to achieve). Cases of deliberate non-cooperation with the terms or the spirit of the GPA ranked second in August, with 15 articles (19.7% of the total), while cases of violence, intimidation, hate speech and abductions came in third with 12 articles (15.8% of total).
Summarising just these three most significant categories, Zanu-PF were accountable for 96.7% of breaches of the GPA that were recorded for those three categories alone in the month of August. Overall, Zanu-PF was either responsible for, or involved in, 93.4% of all breaches recorded for the GPA for the month of August. Other significant results were cases of harassment through the courts of MDC supporters and politicians, and cases of corruption, which ranked in as joint fourth with 8 articles each (10.5% of the total, each).
Looking out across the Zimbabwean political landscape, one could be forgiven for being somewhat confused. In the clear light of day, Zanu-PF is waging an unrelenting campaign of intimidation and violence around the Constitutional Outreach exercise, against their perceived “opposition” – their GPA partners. This is being clearly documented on a daily basis through the local and international press. However, the SADC – who have underwritten the implementation of the GPA process, with the lead of South African President Jacob Zuma – are silent on such issues. Indeed, they have even failed – without any official comment – to put into force and effect the clear and unequivocal rulings of their own regional legal tribunal with respect to Zimbabwe’s illegal land seizures. The international community are also worryingly silent over these issues. The ordinary Zimbabwean continues to trudge on, somehow still hoping that there is a brighter tomorrow to look forward to.
As we noted above, attempts to derail the national Constitutional Outreach exercise made it to the top spot this month, with Zanu-PF demonstrating the brazen use of violence and intimidation in Umguza in Matabeleland North. War veterans and a Zanu-PF councillor ordered all MDC supporters to vacate the area before 15 August or their homes would be burnt. This was to make sure that no MDC supporters will be able to attend the meeting of the Constitutional outreach team which is expected to start holding meetings to gather views for a new constitution in that area on that day.
However not all Constitutional outreach news has been bad. In an uncharacteristic, but laudable case of resistance during the exercise, villagers in Nyanga North constituency gave a group of axe-wielding Zanu-PF militants a shock when they stood their ground. The seven militants attempted to disrupt an outreach meeting here, not expecting any opposition. The 500-strong crowd at the meeting easily disarmed and apprehended the men, who were handed over to Nyamaropa Police Station.
In a typical and high profile case of non-cooperation with terms or the spirit of the GPA, President Robert Mugabe cast serious doubt on any hope of the inclusive government implementing the GPA when said he won’t meet any further demands of the MDC until targeted sanctions are repealed. This is a complete U-turn on what Mugabe and his partners agreed to in Windhoek. The SADC Troika on Defence, Security and Politics resolved that agreed issues in the Global Political Agreement should be fully implemented within a month. The MDC remain adamant that they have no power to force the West to remove the targeted
And, in a deliberate move to snub his GPA partners, President Robert Mugabe ignored a request to declare veteran MDC politician Gibson Sibanda a national hero, despite his imprisonment for three years in a Rhodesian prison for transporting weapons for the country’s freedom fighters. Mugabe said the former trade union leader would be “accorded a state assisted funeral” – a far cry from ‘national hero’ status which comes with a burial at the National Heroes’ Acre shrine in Harare.
The scourge of violence continued to haunt Zimbabwe, with war vets leader Jabulani Sibanda threatening Prime Minister Tsvangirai, ‘Tsvangirai is just like a fly in a a bus. The fly can sit on the driver’s seat but that does not make it the one in charge of the bus. He can be eliminated .. ,” Sibanda ranted. Despite police claims that they had not heard the threats, video from a mobile phone showed the war vets leader accompanied by the Officer in Charge from Mashoko Police Station.
In a bizarre case showing the extent of the breakdown of law and order in the country, two state prosecutors based in Matobo in Matabeleland South fled the country after being severely tortured for their role in sending three war vets to prison for stock theft. The three war vets were convicted and given 15 year jail terms for stock theft. Mysteriously, the three were released from prison after barely three weeks, and teamed up with CIO’s in Matobo to take revenge on the prosecutors. The two were picked up and severely beaten by security agents. They were taken to court facing flimsy charges, but were released on bail. They then decided to flee Zimbabwe.
Harassment through the courts of MDC politicians and their perceived supporters is still rife in Zimbabwe, as shown by the Attorney General’s office new appeal against the acquittal of prominent human rights lawyer Alec Muchadehama – eight months after his discharge. In the Notice of Appeal the Attorney General argued that Magistrate Fadzai Mthombeni erred in acquitting Muchadehama. He wants Muchadehama to face a continuation of the trial.
The meaning of corruption sank to a new low in Harare this month as Officers in the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) were being investigated following reports they are demanding bribes from people applying for police clearances. One woman said she had been asked for $10 to have her papers processed the same day. An officer in the Serious Fraud Section said activities of CID at Morris Depot in Harare
were being closely monitored following complaints. He also implied that some wanted criminals were being cleared of charges after giving kickbacks to corrupt detectives.
Sadly, all partners to the GPA, in a serious case of subversion of a legal process, are allowing two batches of diamonds – of contested ownership – to be sold on Wednesday. By their silence, they are either knowingly or unwittingly in contravention of a high court ruling banning their sale. A deal reached between the Mines Ministry and the Kimberley Process last month will allow Zimbabwe to sell two batches of diamonds. ACR has been fighting a legal battle over ownership of the mine site, with the group’s CEO warning that international buyers will be buying stolen goods if they buy the diamonds mined by Mbada and Canadile.
In another clear attempt to subvert a legal process – this time with respect to the Southern African Development Community (SADC) tribunal, Zanu-PF hatched an elaborate plan to try and make the world believe that the SADC regional Tribunal had been suspended, with the ruling against President Robert Mugabe’s violent land reform programme being held in abeyance. Zimbabwe State media rushed to announce Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa’s claim that the tribunal had been suspended for six months. However, the SADC executive secretary Tomaz Salamao revealed Wednesday that the (SADC) Tribunal was not suspended.
“No-one suspended the Tribunal… In the meantime, they can deal with those (cases) they have at hand (including Zanu-PF’s illegal land seizures in Zimbabwe).”