The date of Zimbabwe’s next election has still not been set, but the Zanu-PF hierarchy – with President Mugabe (88) still at the helm after 32 years – is already intensifying well-honed strategies to ensure the party retains power. Despite being split by bitter factionalism, greed and an escalating internal power struggle, Zanu-PF is united in its efforts to weaken Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) party and manipulate the electorate.
The threat of violence has always been the strongest weapon in Zanu-PF’s arsenal. The mass-scale violence that characterised the 2008 pre-Presidential run-off poll was described by a team of retired South African generals sent by President Mbeki to Zimbabwe to investigate as a ‘horrifying picture” involving “horrific” cases of “extreme brutality”. One commented it was the worst they had seen outside a war zone. Already in the rural areas, fear levels are growing and there is intense concern that the lives and livelihoods of these vulnerable people in particular will be at risk once again.
Historically, the continued support of the armed forces has been crucial for Zanu-PF’s election strategy and their role in perpetrating violence is well documented. Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa’s demand this month for an additional US$2.5 million from the fiscus to bankroll salaries for 5,000 new recruits therefore came as no surprise. It resulted in a furious altercation between Finance Minister Tendai Biti (MDC) and Mnangagwa (Zanu-PF) after Biti had turned down the additional defence funding. Mnangagwa reportedly threatened to send army generals to Biti’s office but Biti stuck to his guns.
The following week, veteran journalist Jan Raath reported that more than 10,000 people had been hired illegally in Zanu-PF-run ministries, including those responsible for the army and police. Senior military personnel continued to proclaim their support for Zanu-PF, with Chief of Staff Major-General Trust Mugoba declaring at a public parade mid June that they would not even allow the MDC to go into office.
An authoritative report released by Zimbabwe’s Research and Advocacy Unit in July last year, “Zimbabwe’s Security Sector – Who Controls the Shots?”, listed the strength of the armed forces as follows:
As Commander-in-Chief, President Mugabe has supreme command of the Defence Forces and the plenary power to determine their operational use.
The youth militia, a paramilitary force for Zanu-PF, has been responsible since 2000 for acts of torture, rape, arson and murder, as well as the destruction of property and the denial of food aid and health care to opposition members. The number of youth militia currently on the government’s payroll is difficult to substantiate. In November 2009, it was reported that 80,000 youngsters, many of them unemployed, had gone through the controversial “youth service” programme. In March this year, SW Radio Africa reported that nearly 6,000 youths from Zanu-PF’s militia squads, who had been paid for unspecified jobs since 2008, had recently been removed from the government payroll following a government-ordered audit.
On June 27, it was reported that Russian Technologies may supply military helicopters to Zimbabwe in a swap deal to buy the world’s second largest platinum deposit. An external military commentator noted it was possible the helicopters would be used in Zanu-PF’s efforts to retain power. He commented that, unless bought in very large numbers, they would not add much to the internal security capacity. However, if the situation spiralled out of control into something close to insurgency or civil war, they would be a key factor.
Maintaining supremacy is a costly affair for Zanu-PF, so the battle for control of the nation’s resources, notably diamonds and platinum, continues. Zimbabwe is rich in minerals, and the Zanu-PF elite have honed their skills in converting the proceeds into illegitimate funds to both enrich themselves and stock war-chests in preparation for elections.
Despite the ongoing controversy and friction surrounding the draft Constitution, Elton Mangoma, the MDC-T Deputy Treasurer said his party was optimistic of the developments. He said the draft had managed to capture the views of most of the people and that his party would support it in the referendum.
In this issue of ZIG Watch, we have recorded a total of 77 media articles, each representing a unique breach of the terms of the Global Political Agreement (GPA). Representative statistics were generated by categorising the articles according to the nature of the breach.
The category with the highest number of recorded violations was again that of the harassment of perceived ‘opposition’ politicians and supporters through litigation, with 23 cases having been recorded. Second place was taken up by violations in the form of deliberate or consequential economic destabilisation.
Instances of violence, intimidation, hate speech, threats, abductions and brutality came in third, while cases of deliberate non-cooperation with GPA partners came fourth. Zanu-PF was either responsible for, or involved in, 98.7 percent of all breaches recorded.
We have compiled and appended ten articles to represent this month’s media coverage of events in relation to the GPA. This list is neither comprehensive nor exhaustive because of the sheer volume of articles. We invite our readers to review the list of summarised articles, original articles (links provided) and previously captured articles, on the webpage http://www.sokwanele.com/zigwatch and ask you to share this information with your colleagues and other interested parties.
In the area of litigation, our first article reveals the shocking arrogance of the police – this time in Mutare – who, having been forced to follow the dictates of Zanu-PF, have become accustomed to a culture of impunity. Rather than spending time hunting down the MDC-T Senator for Mutare, Keresensia Chabuka, the police used innocent MDC activists as bait to force her to come to them. The Senator and other MDC-T officials had been accused of assaulting the acting Mayor of Mutare, George Jeryson. Senator Chabuka told reporters that she was ashamed of the action of the police action in arresting the 10 party activists as bait to entrap her. “They told the activists they will only be released if I present myself to the police. That is what I’m going to do,” said the Senator and handed herself in.
In the long drawn-out case in which twenty-nine MDC-T activists were accused of murdering a police officer in Glen View last year, the presiding judge dismissed their bail appeal again in the Harare High Court. Justice Bhunu told defence lawyers to focus on the trial and not bail, as it was “highly unlikely they will ever be set free before conclusion of the case”. The judge went on to warn defence lawyer Charles Kwaramba to desist from criticising him in the media or he would file contempt of court.
In another high-profile case, the Siwela treason trial is also being deliberately dragged out. The case involves three Bulawayo men who were arrested for allegedly distributing Mthkwakazi Liberation Front flyers calling for the separation of Matabeleland and other parts from the rest of Zimbabwe. All three men have denied the charges. Witnesses who testified for the state, mostly police officers, appear to have weakened the prosecutors’ case by giving contradicting evidence. If convicted, the three face the death penalty.
Also in the litigation category, the state-owned Sunday Mail reported on 24 June that the police had launched an investigation involving Finance Minister Tendai Biti (MDC-T) over the disappearance of US$20 million in a failed bank. However, Biti explained that the money was part of a 2009 emergency International Monetary Fund (IMF) facility to help distressed manufacturing firms. The paper said Biti had transferred the money from the IMF into local bank Interfin, closed during June due to a liquidity crisis.
In the category of deliberate or consequential economic destabilisation of the country or its economy, Zimbabwe’s indigenisation ministry, in a report dated 5 June, ordered all foreign-owned banks operating in the country to start transferring majority stakes to local people under its controversial empowerment program. Several executives of foreign-owned banks were reported to have met with Indigenisation Minister Saviour Kasukuwere and indicated they would comply with the law. Central Bank Governor Gideon Gono protested the move, saying the banking sector should not be indigenised, and that anyone who wanted to venture into the sector should apply for a license to operate a private bank. The banking sector falls under Gono’s controversial stewardship as Governor of the Reserve Bank.
Biti and Mnangagwa fought bitterly this month over defence funding. Biti reportedly turned down Mnangagwa’s demands for an additional US$2,5million from treasury to bankroll salaries for 5,000 new army recruits. Tensions ran high, with Mnangagwa allegedly threatening Biti, claiming there was a risk of mutiny and that Biti was compromising State security. Biti was said to have refused to fund the recruits until the government got more cash from controversial diamond mining operations. Prior to this, there had been agreement within the severely cash-strapped inclusive government that no additional troops were required.
Zimbabwe’s Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act, passed into law more than three years ago, states that Zimbabweans must be majority shareholders with a minimum of 51 percent in major foreign-owned companies across the economy.
In a statement guaranteed to destabilise the economy further and discourage foreign investment, President Mugabe told his party’s central committee that 100 percent of company shares should remain in the country. He claimed that the 49 percent was “a leakage” and that Zimbabweans must be in control of the economy while foreigners came in as partners.” He did not explain how prospective foreign investors could be persuaded to invest their money in Zimbabwe for minimal returns.
In the category of violence, Zanu-PF secretary for the Women’s League and Politburo member Oppah Muchinguri openly admitted to journalists that her party hires militia regularly to unleash violence on political opponents – a fact previously denied. Chipangano, the notorious, militant Zanu-PF group operating in Harare’s Mbare suburb, has been accused of murder, violence, robbery, intimidation, coercion, looting and the disruption of businesses owned by ‘opposition’ activists, although any connection to Zanu-PF has previously been denied. Ironically, Muchinguri is also co-chairperson of the Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee (JOMIC), tasked with monitoring and documenting violations of the Global GPA.
A female chief in the Mudzi North area of Mashonaland East, Chief Otilia Chimukoko, is allegedly forcing villagers to contribute money for a legal fund to assist seven Zanu-PF members accused of murdering an MDC-T official during May. Each village is required to collect a minimum of US$50 or face violent punitive action.
Our final article highlights the level of non-cooperation between the members of the GPA. At a conference in Harare organised by the Centre for Public Accountability, Mines Minister Obert Mpofu refused to give an account of diamond revenues emanating from the vast and highly controversial Marange fields.
Police use MDC activists as bait to hunt down Mutare senator
SW Radio Africa (ZW): 13/06/2012
Police in Mutare are using innocent MDC activists as bait to hunt down the party’s senator for Mutare, Keresensia Chabuka. The senator and other MDC officials are accused of assaulting acting Mayor of Mutare, George Jeryson. Jeryson was elected as an MDC-T councillor, but is suspected of working closely with Zanu-PF Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo. Senator Chabuka told reporters that she is ashamed and left with no words to describe the police action in arresting 10 party activists as bait to get to her. ‘They told the activists they will only be released if I present myself to the police. That is what I’m going to do this evening (Wednesday).”
29 MDC-T activists denied bail again
SW Radio Africa (ZW): 19/06/2012
Twenty-nine MDC-T activists accused of murdering a police officer in Glen View last year had their bail appeal dismissed again in Harare High Court on Tuesday. Responding, Justice Chinembiri Bhunu said there were no special circumstances to grant bail to any of the activists. Justice Bhunu told defence lawyers to focus on the trial and not bail as it was highly unlikely they will ever be set free before conclusion of the case. The judge warned defence lawyer Charles Kwaramba to desist from criticizing him in the media or he would file contempt of court, whilst giving activist Dewa Mavhinga an earful for penning newspaper articles critical of his previous judgments.
Police deny exhibits in Siwela treason trial
The eighth witness in the treason trial of Mthwakazi Liberation Front (MLF) party secretary general, Paul Siwela, declared ignorance over exhibits collected from Siwela’s offices when the investigations re-started at the trial in Bulawayo. Siwela, together with other MLF leaders Charles Thomas and John Gazi, are facing treason charges which they deny. The witness, police officer Isheunesu Kadziya, told the court that although he was part of the team which searched Siwela’s offices on March 4, 2011, he did not read what was written on flyers, calendars and other documents. He said they recovered 400 flyers, an MLF T-shirt, calendar and MLF membership cards. He declined to be associated with flyers presented in court.
Zimbabwean police investigate finance minister
Police said on Sunday they had launched an investigation involving Finance minister Tendai Biti. The state-owned Sunday Mail said the probe was over the disappearance of US$20 million in a failed bank. Biti explained that the money was part of a 2009 emergency International Monetary Fund (IMF) facility and intended to help distressed manufacturing firms. The paper said Biti had transferred the money from the IMF into local bank Interfin, closed this month due to a liquidity crisis. “Yes the money is missing. The fact that Interfin was appointed the fund manager means it was them who were handling the money and not me,” he said.
Zimbabwe Minister Orders Foreign-Owned Banks to Transfer Majority Stakes to Locals
VOANews (USA): 05/06/2012
Zimbabwe’s indigenization ministry has ordered all foreign-owned banks operating in the country to start transferring majority stakes to local people under its controversial empowerment program. Legal adviser Psychology Maziwisa said several executives of foreign-owned banks who met with Indigenization Minister Saviour Kasukuwere Tuesday indicated that they will comply with the law. Maziwisa said at least two of the banks have already made efforts to offload a 51 percent stake to indigenous people as prescribed by the empowerment law. Central bank governor Gideon Gono protested the move Monday saying the banking sector should not be indigenized, suggesting that anyone who wants to venture into the sector should apply for a license to operate a private bank.
Biti, Mnangagwa clash over army
Daily News (ZW): 10/06/2012
Finance minister Tendai Biti, and defence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, locked horns on Thursday, in front of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, over defence funding. Official sources said Tsvangirai watched in bewilderment as the two fought verbally, with finance minister Biti being threatened by Mnangagwa after he turned down the Zanu-PF minister’s demands for an additional US$2,5million from treasury to bankroll salaries for 5,000 new army recruits. Tensions ran high, with Mnangagwa allegedly threatening to send army generals to Biti’s office, saying there was a risk of mutiny and that Biti was compromising State security. Biti was said to have declared that treasury would not fund the recruits until the government got more cash from diamonds.
Zimbabwe President Mugabe wants 100 percent local control of economy
News Track India: 30/06/2012
Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe on Friday said the country wants 100 percent control over the economy by local people while foreigners come in as partners. Mugabe said Zimbabwe must get the lion’s share from the exploitation of its natural resources, arguing the 51-49 percent ownership model was no longer acceptable. Foreigners benefits must be minimal, around 10 percent, he stressed. He said this when addressing his Zanu-PF party’s central committee. “… we want the 100 percent to remain in the country,” Mugabe said, reiterating that Zimbabweans must be in control of the economy while foreigners come in as partners. “That is why we are talking of ownership and not mere participation,” he said.
Zimbabwe’s Zanu-PF official admits to use of election violence
The Africa Report: 05/06/2012
Zanu-PF secretary for women’s league and Politburo member, Oppah Muchinguri, has admitted her party regularly enlists services militia to unleash violence on political opponents. Chipangano—the notorious militant Zanu-PF group staying in Harare’s Mbare suburb – has been accused of murder, violence, robbery, intimidation, coercion, looting and disruption of businesses owned by opposition activists. Muchinguri on Monday told journalists that her party engages the services of the group. Muchinguri, also co-chairperson of the Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee (Jomic), said Chipangano was being “hired” by politicians from Zanu-PF. Muchinguri said the coalition government must speedily act on the group by “sending a message to other similar groups that might want to set themselves up.
Chief forcing villagers to pay defense for Magura killers
SW Radio Africa (ZW): 14/06/2012
Chief Otilia Chimukoko has allegedly been leading Zanu-PF activists in the Mudzi North area of Mashonaland East, forcing villagers to contribute money for a legal fund to assist the Zanu-PF members accused of murdering an MDC-T official last month. One of the few female chiefs in the country, Otilia Chimukoko, is moving around the Chimukoko area with Never Makita, Dudzai Kamhaka and another activist identified as Nyamuromo. They are demanding that each villager pay US$1 with each village collecting at least US$50 or there will be violent punitive actions. The villagers are being told openly that the money is to provide legal fees for the seven party members accused of murdering Cephas Magura.
Obert Mpofu refuses to account for diamond revenue
Mines Minister Obert Mpofu on Monday failed to give an account for diamond revenue emanating from Marange fields when he answered questions at a conference in Harare organised by the Centre for Public Accountability. “I am minister of mines not minister of revenue … ZIMRA collects revenue. Ask me about mining issues and I will explain. I do not deal with figures but mining development. Anything to do with figures is not my duty,” Mpofu told delegates in Harare Monday. Delegates had asked him where the diamond revenue from Marange was going following Finance Minister Tendai Biti’s recent complaints of non remittance to the treasury revenue by mining companies.