Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Diplomacy Can Triumph In Zimbabwe

Rashweat Mukundu

On 28 January South Africa’s e-TV showed pictures of emaciated Zimbabwean prisoners and rural families, many sick and dying from lack of food and medication. The pictures and accompanying news story were a stark reminder of the dire situation in Zimbabwe at the time that Southern Africa leaders had completed a meeting on finding a lasting solution to the crisis in Zimbabwe.
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Monday, January 26, 2009

EU tightens Zimbabwe sanctions

See full article on ...

FACTBOX-Sanctions on Zimbabwe
Mon Jan 26, 2009
The European Union added individuals and firms to a sanctions list on Zimbabwe on Monday and called for a probe into Harare's diamond industry.Below are details of sanctions and restrictions in place against Zimbabwe.
* VISA BANS AND ASSET FREEZES:-- The United States first imposed sanctions in March 2003 and later widened them to apply to about 250 people accused of undermining democracy. The U.S. sanctions also bar Americans from engaging in any transactions or dealings with them. -- In July, the Treasury Department said it would seek to freeze assets of 17 Zimbabwean enterprises. The United States also threatened in September to impose new sanctions against President Robert Mugabe if he reneged on a power-sharing deal.-- The European Union imposed a visa ban on Mugabe and 19 top officials in 2002 because of Zimbabwe's treatment of observers sent to monitor presidential elections.-- The number was later expanded and last month, the EU added 11 more names to the list of 160 Zimbabweans, including Mugabe, who are banned from visiting the bloc.-- On Monday, the EU added a further 27 individuals and 36 companies to the list of banned allies of Mugabe because of their links to suspected human rights abuses, EU officials said.-- The sanctions list now includes for the first time companies registered in the EU, including in Britain, diplomats have said, without naming the firms.-- Australia said in December it would impose financial and visa restrictions on four extra companies and 75 more people who are known supporters of Mugabe's government. The move means 258 Mugabe supporters face bans on travel to or through Australia, and restrictions on financial transactions involving Australia.
* ARMS EMBARGOES:-- The United States has a ban on transfers of defence items and services, and a suspension of non-humanitarian government-to-government assistance.-- The European Union has an embargo on the sale and supply of arms and technical advice and of equipment which could be used for internal repression in Zimbabwe.-- The embargo also prohibits technical and financial assistance related to military activities.-- In September, Canada banned arms exports, freezing the assets of top Zimbabwean officials and banning its aircraft from flying over or landing in Canada.
* DIPLOMATIC ISOLATION:-- The Commonwealth group of mainly former British colonies suspended Zimbabwe in early 2002 on the grounds that Mugabe had rigged his re-election and persecuted his opponents. Zimbabwe formally withdrew from the 54-nation group in 2003 after the suspension was extended indefinitely.-- The International Monetary Fund suspended technical assistance to Zimbabwe in 2002 over its failure to clear arrears and address its dire economic and social crisis.-- It has averted expulsion by making small payments towards clearing arrears.-- Britain's Queen Elizabeth has stripped Mugabe of an honorary knighthood awarded in 1994.
* SPORT:-- A 2007 cricket tour of Zimbabwe by Australia was cancelled on the orders of Australia's government.-- Cricket South Africa, which had been one of Zimbabwe's strongest backers, suspended domestic agreements with the Zimbabwe Cricket Union last June.-- Days later, the England and Wales Cricket Board cancelled Zimbabwe's 2009 tour of England under instructions from the British government. The ECB said it had suspended all bilateral arrangements with Zimbabwe Cricket.-- The International Cricket Council said on July 4 that Zimbabwe had agreed to skip the 2009 World Twenty20 in England to end a deadlock over demands that the African nation be suspended.
Sources: Reuters/EU//

Friday, January 23, 2009

Zimbabweans in Switzerland in Second Emergency Meeting on the Health Crisis

We would like to invite you all to the second meeting being convened jointly by the Zimbabwe Health Access Trust (ZiHAT) and the Zimbabwe Advocacy Office in Geneva.

ZiHAT is a non-governmental, non-partisan and non-profit Trust whose mission is to support health services in Zimbabwe. Its objectives are to raise funds and other materials from Zimbabweans and friends of Zimbabwe in the Diaspora and to provide assistance through coordinating capacity to develop, maintain and enhance the public health delivery system. The ultimate aim is to contribute towards an equitable distribution of materials and commodities to health facilities in Zimbabwe.

The Zimbabwe Advocacy Office in Geneva is a special human rights and humanitarian advocacy project of the World Student Christian Federation and Swiss relief agency, FEPA.

We would like to invite all Zimbabweans and friends of Zimbabwe to the second gathering on Saturday 24 January from 1400 - 1730 hrs at the Maison des Associations, Rue de Savoises 15 in Plainpalais, Geneva.

Resolution on Zimbabwe by CSOs attending the NGO Forum preceding the AU Summit January 2009:

Deeply concerned about the needless deaths arising from cholera due to failing public health service delivery arising from the unresolved political crisis;

Concerned further about the prevailing climate of impunity including the rampant and escalating politically motivated and organized violence, the abductions of civil society activists and legitimate political opponents;

NOTING WITH CONCERN that the SADC led mediation process was not done in full conformity with the AU resolution on Zimbabwe adopted at Sham El Sheikh and has further failed to bring an end to the political stalemate or to alleviate the deteriorating and worsening humanitarian crisis;

Deeply disturbed that despite 5.1 million Zimbabweans requiring humanitarian assistance, the government continues to frustrate the efforts of NGOs to work freely in areas of need;

Gravely concerned that the Zimbabwean crisis has assumed regional dimensions and now poses a real threat to regional security;

Taking note that in the face of serious human rights violations in member states, the AU has increasingly applied the principle of non-indifference over the principle of non-interference;
Recommends that:
1. African Union publicly condemns and calls for an end to the violations/abuses taking place in Zimbabwe and a full restoration of basic economic, social, political and civil rights of Zimbabwean people;
2. African Union formally recognizes that the SADC mediation has failed and that the resolution of the Zimbabwean crisis be done under the direct authority of the AU
3. African Union invokes the responsibility to protect Zimbabweans from the serious violations and the humanitarian catastrophe currently unfolding in Zimbabwe.
4. African Union decisively deals with Zimbabwe government's failure to respect African institutions and their decisions such as those of the SADC Tribunal and the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights.
Courtesy of the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum

Women of Zimbabwe Arise - Leaders on Trial

WOZA leaders, Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu, appeared in Bulawayo Magistrate’s Court this morning on trial for two charges, one relating to an arrest in October 2008 and the other to an arrest in June 2004.

The 2008 charge is C/S 37 (1) (a) (i) of the Criminal Law Codification and Reform Act Chapter 9:23: "Acting together with one or more other persons with him/her in any place realizing that there is a real risk or possibility of disturbing peace, security or order of the public". The 2004 charge is under C/S 7(c) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act chapter 9:15 "acting in a manner which is likely to lead to a breach of the peace or to create a nuisance or obstruction".
The State was represented by Lovemore Chifamba with a senior magistrate, Msipa, presiding.

When the proceedings finally started after several delays, the defence lawyer, Kossam Ncube, applied for the charges to be dismissed on the basis of a Supreme Court precedent (Munhumeso and others 1994 (1) – Zimbabwe Law Reports (Supreme Court) p49) that ruled that by their nature, demonstrations are public and are held in public places and therefore will cause some form of public disturbance. It cannot be called a demonstration if the activity is held in private. The ruling decreed that as peaceful demonstrations are allowed under the Constitution, those participating in peaceful demonstrations cannot be charged with disturbing the peace.

Prosecutor Chifamba tried to argue that charges against Williams and Mahlangu were correct as by demonstrating they intended to disturb the peace. Magistrate Msipa will give her ruling at 8.30am on Tuesday 27th January as to whether to proceed with the trial under the current charges or to dismiss charges.

In the most recent case, Williams and Mahlangu were arrested on 16th October 2008 at Mhlahlandlela Government Complex and were held in custody for three weeks; first at Bulawayo Central Police Station, then at Bulawayo Remand Prison before spending the remainder of the time at Mlondolozi Prison. The protest was to demand that the food situation in Zimbabwe be declared a national disaster and all Zimbabweans be able to access food aid whilst protracted political negotiations are more speedily concluded.

Their trial was due to start on 2nd December 2008, but the state, represented by Mr. Shawarira, was not ready for trial and so Magistrate Msipa postponed the trial until 22 January 2009. All bail conditions, which included reporting to police twice a week and not being allowed to travel outside a 40-kilometer radius of Bulawayo without written permission, were lifted.

Their arrest, detention and trial is in continuing violation of the 15th September 2008 Global Political Agreement between Zanu PF and the two Movement for Democratic Change parties.

22nd January 2009

Soldiers are the new illegal diamond miners

From IRIN (UN), 20 January

The vast Chiadzwa diamond fields, about 90km southwest of Zimbabwe's eastern city of Mutare, have come to resemble a military garrison since soldiers evicted scores of illegal miners. President Robert Mugabe's government sent troops into the area in late 2008 to flush out the diamond miners, after repeated attempts by the police over the past two years had failed. The miners have left, but the soldiers remain, their tents dotting a moonscape of pits, and the search for diamonds has not ceased. "These soldiers who were deployed to remove the makorokoza [illegal miners] are now looting the diamonds, but they are doing so in such a way that it is difficult for outsiders to notice it," a resident of Marange village, where the mine is situated, told IRIN. "They have a duty roster of villagers from Marange, who are supposed to report to them early in the morning to dig for the diamonds from Chiadzwa," said the villager, who identified himself only as Simon. "When we get to the diamond field, we are always reminded that if anyone asks what we are doing there, we should tell that person that we are filling the pits that were left by the makorokoza," Simon said. The villagers are forced to dig for diamonds in the numerous existing pits and also to excavate new ones. "We are too scared to report this form of forced labour because the soldiers who are camped at Chiadzwa have warned us that top army officers are involved and if we leak the information, soldiers will be sent to beat us up."

The forced labour lasts from dawn to dusk, so Simon cannot tend his fields. "We experienced famine and untold hunger last year [when the harvest failed in the 2007/08 season]. The rains are better this year [2008/09], but some people have decided to turn us into cheap labour for their own gain," he said. After the day's work, the soldiers search the villagers to ensure that they do not have any hidden diamonds. Bright Tigere, 24, a Mutare resident originally from Marange village, voluntarily offered his services. "I heard that the soldiers were forcing people to pan for the diamonds and decided to return to my village so that I would be one of the people participating," he told IRIN. "Once in a while the soldiers give us some diamonds to bribe us and I am selling them for my upkeep," said Tigere, whose livelihood had depended on working in the diamond fields before he was evicted. The fruits of diamond mining had afforded him a luxurious lifestyle and he used to cross regularly to Musina, a large town in neighbouring South Africa, to sell the diamonds and go shopping. But the effects of the military crackdown on diamond mining in Mutare, which had helped the city weather Zimbabwe's economic malaise, are seeing it sink back into the poverty that has become the norm for almost all Zimbabweans. The expensive cars of diamond dealers that once teemed in Mutare's streets have disappeared, shops have become deserted and there are few currency dealers.

"It was from rags to riches and back to rags again, and that is painful. That is why I am more than ready to return and be used by the soldiers because, at least, I am guaranteed food on the table," Tigere said. The soldiers, easily identified in the shebeens and taverns by their uniforms and the assault rifles slung across their backs, see their tour of duty in the diamond fields as a privilege. "I am happy to be among the soldiers who were chosen to come here to Chiadzwa even though, initially, I resented the assignment because we were not given a chance to even say goodbye to our families," one soldier, who declined to be identified, told IRIN at a shopping centre. "As a soldier, just like most people in this country, I am poorly paid and my salary can hardly see me through three days of a month. When I get a chance to loot, I grab it without hesitation. I am sick and tired of the top guys being the only ones with all the riches, even though it's us who do the dirty work," he said. The soldier said he frequently applied for leave and would go to the capital, Harare, to sell the diamonds. "Our superiors back in the barracks are fully aware of what we are doing, and they let us continue because they benefit from this illegal mining of the diamonds," he said. "Every week, we surrender a substantial amount of the mineral to them."

One of his commanders, he said, had good connections with dealers in India and often travelled to the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, to meet with middlemen. "Word coming from Harare is that it is easy to sell the diamonds in India, where they are polished and used in making ornaments." There have been reports that Chiadzwa's diamonds have also turned up in Lebanon, Russia and South Africa. A Bulawayo-based economist, Erich Bloch, said the alleged involvement of soldiers in Chiadzwa would increase the chances of the country being struck off the Kimberley Process register of diamond exporting countries. The Kimberley Process is an international certification scheme designed to prevent diamonds mined in conflict areas from entering the multibillion-dollar market. "If the troops are actually looting the diamonds, and given the adverse reports of their presence at Chiadzwa, Zimbabwe could soon be blacklisted by Kimberly Process," Bloch told IRIN. In late 2008, international civil society, led by Global Witness, a non-governmental organisation that orchestrated the campaign to set up the Kimberley Process, began lobbying for an urgent inquiry into Zimbabwe's diamond industry. "Soldiers have no business at a diamond field. The government should just act quickly to ensure that a reputable company moves in to do the mining," a Harare-based economic consultant, John Robertson, told IRIN. "It is reasonable to suspect that the government is using the illicit mining of diamonds to fund an already disgruntled army," he said. "It is highly possible that government officials are fattening their pockets using the Chiadzwa diamonds."

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Zimbabwe Talks Collapse

Outline of What Took Place
Veritas Zimbabwe: Bill Watch Special

The meeting with the SADC delegation was preceded by a meeting of Mr Mugabe and Mr Tsvangirai, in which it was reported off the record that Mr Tsvangirai raised the issues of abductions and the detention of members of the MDC and civil society. The principals then met with the SADC delegation. The question of the violence against MDC was again raised. There was no response from SADC on this issue.

SADC Proposed Agreement: The SADC delegation brought with them a proposed agreement for signature by the three principals [Below] based on the decision of the SADC meeting of 9th November 2008 – in spite of the fact that MDC had said it did not accept this decision and that SADC had not at this meeting facilitated a mutually acceptable position.
It should be noted that the SADC proposal in no way takes on board the MDC-T position which they have maintained since September that outstanding matters must be settled before the formation of the Inclusive Government. It has taken on board Mr Mugabe’s position that outstanding issues be settled after the Inclusive Government is formed.
The SADC proposal would make provision for Mr Tsvangirai to be sworn in by 24th January, before the Government has been formed. The suggestion of leaving provincial governors in place until a vacancy occurs is against what was agreed in the MoU and gives ZANU-PF a majority in the Senate. To leave conflict resolution to the
Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee which according the IPA would only meet “from time to time” and has no effective power, in the face of outstanding differences, is of dubious practical value.
Mr Mugabe and Mr Mutambara according to the state press and ‘leaked” reports indicated that they were happy with the proposal and prepared to sign it. Mr Mugabe blamed Mr Tsvangirai for the breakdown in the talks, but did concede that the talks would continue.
Mr Tsvangirai did not agree to the SADC proposals, but put forward proposals of his own [Attached] which Mr Salomao said the SADC summit would consider. Mr Tsvangirai went on to say "For us as the MDC, this is probably the darkest day of our lives.” He reiterated that the MDC was committed to the deal, but only if Mr Mugabe cedes control of powerful ministries, such as home affairs, finance and information.

After consultations held in Harare, Zimbabwe, on 19 January 2009, the Principals hereby agree to the following:
1. Proceed immediately with the formation of the Inclusive Government as prescribed in the Agreement
2. To support the adoption of the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment 19 at the sitting of Parliament on Tuesday 20 January 2009
3. To swear-in the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Ministers by 24 January 2009 and thereafter proceed to appoint ministers
4. The MDC-T shall submit a draft Bill on the National Security Council for consideration by the Parties by 24 January 2009
5. At the end of the contract of the incumbent Governors or should vacancies arise, the posts will be shared amongst the Parties, according to agreed formula
6. The allocation of ministerial portfolios shall be reviewed six (6) months after the inauguration of the Cabinet as per the decision of the Sadc Extraordinary Summit held in Sandton, South Africa, on 9 November 2008.
7. Outstanding issues raised by MDC-T shall be dealt with:
a. In terms of Article XXII, Paragraph 22.4 of the Agreement, which states:
"Joint Monitoring

S. African church leaders want new facilitator for Zimbabwe talks

By Munyaradzi Makoni
Cape Town, 21 January (ENI)--
A forum of South African church leaders has said former president Thabo Mbeki must step down as mediator of the process to solve the political crisis in Zimbabwe after years of failure."We respectfully call for the intervention of the African Union and the appointment of a new facilitator of the talks in Zimbabwe," said the National Church Leaders Consultation after a two-day meeting in Stellenbosch. "Zimbabwe has collapsed … Former president Thabo Mbeki is compromised and no longer suitable for the mediation process."The group of more than 30 church leaders included Roman Catholic, Methodist, Anglican, Dutch Reformed, Lutheran and Rhema officials. They met in Stellenbosch near Cape Town for two days and issued their statement on 20 January.Catholic Cardinal Wilfrid Napier, Bishop Ivan Abrahams of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa, Anglican Archbishop Thabo Makgoba, Rhema Ministries Pastor Ray McCauley and Eddie Makue, general secretary of the South African Council of Churches, were among those who endorsed the statement. The church leaders said that the Southern African Development Community, which groups 15 nations in the region, and the South African government had failed the Zimbabwean people and Africa "through their so-called quiet diplomacy".They added, "We believe that Robert Mugabe is holding on to illegitimate power. The people of Zimbabwe spoke on March 31, 2008 by electing a new leadership; we therefore call upon Mugabe to resign in order to give democracy a new chance."The forum called on the churches, civil society groups and political leaders in southern Africa to urgently address the humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe, saying they would work towards the end of the Mugabe regime.

The church leaders said they would "seek and facilitate the unity of the church in Zimbabwe", assist in providing food aid through church structures and "actively work for the downfall of unjust rule in Zimbabwe".The church leaders' call came after the failure of 12 hours of talks in Harare, when Mugabe and his Zanu-PF party failed to agree on the sharing of government ministries with Morgan Tsvangirai and his Movement for Democratic Change, which won the 2008 elections.Separately, the forum expressed its "absolute horror at the appalling violence, destruction and killing inflicted on more than 1.5 million people in the Gaza strip and surrounding areas" in the recent war between Israel and Hamas. The leaders said, "We condemn in the strongest terms the senseless shelling of civilians, but especially the disproportionate retaliation which has reaped a grim harvest of death and inestimable damage to homes, property and infrastructure."
Ecumenical News International

Monday, January 19, 2009

Recent NGO Statements on Zimbabwe

Courtesy of the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum
On 14 January 2009, Amnesty International (AI) released a statement in which it harshly criticised the African Union’s inaction on Zimbabwe. AI said the African Leaders had squandered numerous opportunities to end the persecution of government critics.“They (the African Leaders) continue to be deaf to cries for help and have chosen to be unmoved by ongoing evidence of human suffering in the country,” said AI. The full statement is available via the following link;

Recently, the World Alliance for Citizen Participation (CIVICUS) released a report on of a visit CIVICUS undertook to Zimbabwe from 19-26 December 2008. The report details the worsening crisis in the country. Kumi Naidoo the Honorary President of CIVICUS who was part of the delegation to Zimbabwe noted that “/the situation in //Zimbabwe// is much worse than what is believed by Africans and citizens around the world alike//. //It has been a bleak Christmas, characterised by despair, desperation and destitution with a particularly devastating impact for women and children"//./ The full report is available on the following link;

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Mugabe 'to hold talks with rival'

Zimbabwe's opposition leader said he is due to hold talks with President Robert Mugabe "within this coming week" to try to resolve the political crisis. Morgan Tsvangirai said he was returning to Zimbabwe for the first time in two months, and said he was still committed to an "inclusive" government.
He described Mr Mugabe as "part of the problem but also part of the solution".

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Health in Ruins - Man Made Disaster in Zimbabwe

Physicians for Human Rights

What happens when a government presides over the dramatic reversal of its population's access to food, clean water, basic sanitation, and healthcare? When government policies lead directly to the shuttering of hospitals and clinics, the closing of its medical school, and the beatings of health workers, are we to consider the attendant deaths and injuries as any different from those resulting from a massacre of similar proportions?
See full report on

Clinton hints at Obama’s policy on Africa in confirmation statement

Hillary Clinton’s statement to the senators at her confirmation hearing, required for appointment as the next Secretary of State in the Barack Obama presidency, gives a sneak preview at the direction that US foreign policy will take over the next four years.....
What becomes clear from the outset is that in respect of this continent, three trouble spots have become front and centre in the minds of the incoming administration; Zimbabwe, Democratic Republic of Congo and Somalia; cholera, rape and piracy run amok.
More on ....

Zimbabwe judge warns legal profession against criticisms

By: Kumbirai Mafunda.Harare:

Zimbabwe’s Judge President Rita Makarau on Monday threatened legal practitioners for allegedly criticizing decisions and judgments made by High Court judges.
Speaking at a function to mark the official opening of the 2009 legal year in Harare on Monday Makarau hit out at unnamed lawyers for publicly speaking out against judges’ judgments.

Zimbabwe: Appoint Neutral Interim Govt, Urges Ex-Clinton Aide

Zimbabwe’s Parliament, its only legitimately-elected body, should take the lead in resolving the country’s crisis by legislating for a non-partisan transitional government to rule for 18 months and plan new elections, writes Donald Steinberg, a former aide to President Bill Clinton of the United States.

More on ....

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Clerics join Tutu in fasting for 'suffering people of Zimbabwe'

By Hans Pienaar Johannesburg,
12 January (ENI)--

Two clerics have joined Nobel Peace Prize laureate Desmond Tutu, the former Anglican archbishop of Cape Town, fasting in solidarity with the people of Zimbabwe, which faces a collapsing economic and political order and reports of a military alert amid fears of a coup.Tutu made a call for support for the fast on South Africa's Radio 702 on 11 January. Bishop Paul Verryn, who runs a refugee operation at the Central Methodist Church in downtown Johannesburg, South Africa, to which up to 4 million Zimbabweans have fled, announced he would also fast. They were joined by Pastor Raymond Motsi of the Bulawayo Baptist Church in Zimbabwe.Tutu said he was now fasting once a week. "If we would [only] have more people saying 'I will fast', maybe one day a week - just to identify myself with my sisters and brothers in Zimbabwe," said Tutu in his interview.
In Geneva on 12 January, the church-backed Zimbabwe Advocacy Office said it was investigating a report by SW Radio that the daughter of Zimbabwe's vice-president, Joice Mujuru, had been implicated in illegal gold and diamond deals woven in different countries including Switzerland. The report said the vice-president herself was financing the deals.The fasting by Tutu and the other clerics is intended to continue fostering awareness of Zimbabwe's plight under the rule of Robert Mugabe that is not internationally recognised. Civicus, a global civil society alliance, is planning civil action that will focus on South Africa's role in support of Mugabe."We need to up the ante a bit in terms of the types of activities that put pressure on the government," said Civicus acting chair Kumi Naidoo, a South African who is also co-chair of the Global Call to Action Against Poverty.In a letter of support to Naidoo, Tutu said, "As the world's eye turns to the mass killings in Gaza, we must not ignore the ongoing deaths in Zimbabwe – [which are happening] not with bombs, but with starvation, disease and apathy. These deaths are no less deliberate than those perpetuated with arms.":: Full SW Radio transcript

Monday, January 12, 2009

Vice President's Daughter Implicated in Illegal Swiss Gold Deals

The daughter of Zimbabwe's Vice President, Joice Mujuru has been implicated in illegal gold and diamond deals woven in different countries including Switzerland!

FE 'OK this special case, the gold from Africa is brought to Switzerland by aeroplane and then it is brought to the refineries and after the refinery you have the result how much is the value of the gold and then the transaction, the bank transaction, the payment transaction is directly done between the seller and the buyer in Zurich. In this case in Zurich because the refinery is in Zurich . So both parties have to be at this place to organise payment, to organise the completion of the transaction.'

Read full story on SW Radio Africa

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Voices from Zimbabwe at Today's White House Lunch

A young Zimbabwean woman
who was tortured and raped during the
violent June election campaigns.

Dear President Jimmy Carter,

Warm greetings from the World Student Christian Federation and its Zimbabwe Advocacy Office in Geneva. We trust that you have had a bright start to the New Year despite continuing global turmoil and human suffering.

We write to thank you for your consistent and inspiring commitment to the protection of human rights and the rule of law the world over, but in particular your support for the people of Zimbabwe throughout 2008. Your November 2008 mission to our country as part of the Group of Elders opened the eyes of the world to the gravity of the humanitarian disaster. At the same time the Elders’ mission also exposed the great lengths to which the regime of Robert Mugabe and his security chiefs are prepared to go to sacrifice thousands of innocent lives for the sake of remaining in power, maintaining their privileged lifestyles and evading justice.

President Carter, as you meet today for the historic lunch with President-elect Barack Obama, President George W. Bush and former Presidents George H.W Bush and Bill Clinton we ask that the long-suffering people of Zimbabwe speak through you to your fellow presidents. When you will be meeting we hope you will let the presidents know that Robert Mugabe has just flown to Malaysia for his vacation leaving almost 2,000 Zimbabweans dying from a rampant cholera epidemic. Over 5 million Zimbabweans (almost half of the population) are still facing starvation according to the UN World Food Program. Schools have failed to re-open this January and there has been no learning for months now. Hospitals are shutting down throughout Zimbabwe and expecting mothers and their new born babies are dying needlessly because the public maternity care facilities have collapsed. Since Mugabe’s ZANU PF party lost the March 2008 elections Zimbabwe has not had a legitimate and functional government and erstwhile hopes for change are dying.

The response of the Mugabe regime to all this suffering and civil society protests has been to return to use of violence and abuse of police powers and the judiciary. Forty-three human rights defenders, including a 2-year old baby were abducted early December and were only produced in court on Christmas eve. As you meet with Presidents Obama, Bush and Clinton, these activists are still languishing in inhumane conditions in police cells throughout Harare despite the best efforts of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights.

We are aware of the pressures on the President-elect on the international affairs front, especially with the situation in the Middle-East, but we pray that with your help Zimbabwe will not be forgotten. African diplomacy has done its best but still thousands of lives continue to be lost and the death of the soul of a nation continues. Calls for a retun to sanity from respected African religious leaders such as Archbishops Desmond Tutu and John Sentamu have, among many others, been ignored. The Obama presidency can help deter the dictatorship from causing further suffering by showing from the outset that the US and the international community are not too distracted to care and will exercise the international responsibility to protect the sovereignty of a population whose illegitimate government continues to violate its own people and bring all perpetrators of these violations to account.

May God bless you. And may God bless Zimbabwe.

Yours sincerely,
Zimbabwe Advocacy Office
World Student Christian Federation

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Zimbabweans in Switzerland Respond to the Emergency Health Crisis

By Marlon Zakeyo

A group of ordinary Zimbabweans and Friends of Zimbabwe living in Switzerland gathered in Geneva towards the end of 2008 to discuss how they can address the plight of fellow Zimbabweans, hard-pressed by the collapse of the public health system and the rampant cholera outbreak. The emergency meeting jointly convened by the Europe Chapter of the Zimbabwe Health Access Trust (ZiHAT) and the Zimbabwe Advocacy Office was a direct response to a sobering report from the Zimbabwe Doctors for Human Rights concerning the dangers facing pregnant women in Zimbabwe as well as the rising cholera-related death toll. According to the ZADHR report the closure of the two remaining public maternity hospitals left the lives of thousands of expecting mothers in grave danger since most were not able to afford the exorbitant fees charged by private clinics. Some press reports are already citing cases of women delivering in open spaces or at home without proper medical care and otherwise healthy mothers or babies dying because of lack of the most basic obstetric care.

Dr Francis Ndowa, a Zimbabwean medical expert, informed the meeting of reports of church-run rural hospitals being virtually the only remaining option for ordinary people seeking to access health care since the mainstream public health system which was once the envy of Africa has collapsed. However it is also reported that many of these rural mission hospitals are becoming overwhelmed by patients flooding in from urban areas and are now turning away growing nunbers of such patients. The majority of nurses, doctors and other health workers cannot afford to raise enough money to get to work and even if they do most public health facilities do not have the basic drugs or medical supplies. Several participants spoke of the agony of being far away from home and seeing fellow Zimbabweans either suffering or dying from diseases or conditions that should not normally pose a danger to life. Others expressed the inadequacy of helping only their immediate families in Zimbabwe and the urgent need to address the broader failures of the collapse of the public essential services delivery system.

After impassioned discussions and testimonies from family and friends in Zimbabwe and partners working in the health sector on the ground, the meeting decided to mobilise additional funds and medical supplies to those already gathered by ZiHAT and channel them to public maternity care clinics that serve expecting mothers in high density townships and particular church-related rural clinics. Participants also agreed that all resources will be channeled through independent humanitarian agencies on the ground and be used for the direct benefit of women seeking care and treatment. ZiHAT and ZAO have now began engaging relevant Zimbabwean church agencies pursuant to these calls.

A follow up meeting will now be held in Geneva on January 24, 2009 to mobilise more Zimbabweans and friends of Zimbabwe throughout Switzerland into action and ensure that many more Zimbabweans abroad play their part in alleviating the suffering at home.

Those who would like to contribute to this initiative can do so through the account below.

Account Name: E- ZIHAT (European Chapter of Zimbabwe Health Access Trust)
Account No 0279-295834.40E (Please note full stop between 4 and 4)
IBAN: CH900027927929583440E
Bank name and Branch
Avenue Appia 20
1020 Geneva
Tel: +41 (0) 848 848 051


(AS AT 09:00HRS ON 6 JANUARY 2009)
For detailed accounts of the events of 23 and 24 December 2008, please consult ZLHR press releases of the same dates.

25 December 2008:
State representatives purport to file a Notice of Appeal against the High Court Order granted by Justice Yunus Omerjee on 24 December 2008 (ref: HC 7166/08). Instead of complying with the Rules of the Supreme Court, the Notice is filed in the High Court and bears no stamp or case number from the Supreme Court, therefore being defective and of no force and effect. It is also unclear why the appeal has been noted, apart from a reasonable perception of an attempt in bad faith to prevent the Order being implemented, as the Respondents had agreed on record to all provisions contained in the Order in Omerjee J’s Chambers during the hearing.
On the strength of this defective Notice, Chief Superintendent Magwenzi advises the abductees’ legal team that he and others will not be complying with Omerjee J’s Order on the advice and instructions of Florence Ziyambi, from the office of the Attorney General, who told him not to comply as "an appeal has been filed and has suspended the High Court Order".
In the meantime, Jestina Mukoko, Broderick Takawira, Fidelis Chiramba, Collen Mutemagau, Concillia Chinanzvavana, Manuel Chinanzvavana, Pieta Kaseke, Violet Mupfuranhehwe and two-year-old Nigel Mutemagau (hereinafter referred to as "Mukoko and 8 others") are removed from Harare Remand Prison (to which they had been ordered to be taken by Magistrate Guvamombe) to Chikurubi Prison, with the men being held at Chikurubi Maximum Security, and the women and the 2-year-old child being held at Chikurubi Female Prison.
The remainder of the confirmed abductees, namely Chris Dhlamini, Gandi Mudzingwa, Chinoto Zulu, Zacharia Nkomo, Mapfumo Garutsa, Andrison Manyere and Regis Mujeye (hereinafter referred to "Dhlamini and 6 others") remain in police custody at various police stations throughout Harare on the strength of Warrants of Further Detention issued by Magistrate Cathrine Chimanda.
The remaining two confirmed abductees, Pascal Gonzo and Tawanda Bvumo, are also returned to Rhodesville police station despite the fact that the police and Florence Ziyambi and Tawanda Zvekare from the Attorney General’s Office previously made submissions on record in the Magistrates’ Court that these individuals were not in police custody.

26 – 27 December 2008:
Lawyers attend at various police stations in attempts to access Dhalmini and 6 others, as well as Gonzo and Bvumo. They are all advised that a directive has been issued that morning (unclear from which authority) that no lawyers are to have access to any of the abductees, and neither are they to be allowed any food or visits whatsoever from lawyers and/or relatives. All police at all involved police stations refuse to comply with Omerjee J’s Order, despite service upon them, to urgently remove them to Avenues Clinic, and to release Gonzo and Bvumo forthwith, again citing superior orders.
Lawyers confirm that Mukoko and 8 others have been moved from Harare Remand Prison to Chikurubi. Upon attendance at Chikurubi Maximum Security, they are denied access to all their male clients. Lawyers however manage to have access to the women and minor child at Chikurubi Female Prison, although they are prevented from consulting their clients in privacy, as is required in terms of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, to take proper instructions.

28 December 2008:
Lawyers return to Chikurubi Female Prison in attempts to take instructions for the hearing the following day. They are advised that all save for Violet Mupfuranhehwe and her two-year-old child have been removed to Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison, although they refuse to disclose the reasons and who gave the instructions for their removal.

29 December 2008:
Virginia Mabiza from the Attorney General’s Office files a second Notice of Appeal in the Supreme Court, confirming that the previous Notice was defective and that the Order of Omerjee J has effectively been flouted with impunity for the past 6 days.
Lawyers are finally allowed access to Mukoko and others held at Chikurubi Maximum Security for a brief time before they are taken to the Magistrates’ Court. They are produced from solitary confinement, in handcuffs and leg irons, with the majority of the men wearing torn shorts exposing their upper thighs, buttocks and genital region. Prison officers are requested to ensure that they are provided with suitable clothing for their appearance in court.
Again, lawyers are unable to obtain comprehensive instructions due to lack of time before the court appearance, and the fact that prison officers refuse to allow privacy for consultations as provided for in the Constitution of Zimbabwe.
Dhlamini and 6 others, Gonzo and Bvumo, are finally brought to court in batches, and confined to the cells at the Magistrates’ Court. Lawyers are able to have access to them for the first time in order to take very brief preliminary instructions.
Lawyers are advised for the first time that Mukoko and 8 others are to be charged with contravening section 24(a) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act for allegedly recruiting or attempt to recruit individuals for training in banditry, insurgency, sabotage or terrorism, which carries a potential sentence of life imprisonment in the event of conviction.
Lawyers are advised for the first time that Dhlamini and 6 others are to be charged with the bombings of various police stations, railway lines etc and engaging in acts of banditry, insurgency, sabotage or terrorism under section 23 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act, which carries a potential death sentence in the event of conviction.
Lawyers are advised for the first time that Gonzo and Bvumo are to be charged with assisting perpetrators of crimes after commission of the crimes under section 206(a) and (b) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act. The sentence upon conviction is the same as that of actual perpetrators of the alleged crimes, therefore meaning a potential life imprisonment sentence.
Lawyers for the defence place on record the hurdles they have faced in accessing their clients, the torture to which they have been subjected, and insist on compliance with the Order of Omerjee J – for either the immediate release of various individuals, or the urgent removal of others to Avenues Clinic for medical examination and treatment. Magistrate Mishrod Givamombe postpones the various matters to the following day for rulings.

30 December 2008:
Magistrate Guvamombe hears further arguments in relation to various individuals and rules that all abductees before the court are to be held over in custody at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison Hospital, and that they are to be medically examined there by medical practitioners of their choice. In the meantime, the matter is postponed to Monday 5 January 2009 pending the outcome of the medical examinations.
In relation to the cases of Gonzo and Bvumo, he advises that he will rule the following day.
All individuals are returned to Chikurubi.
In the afternoon, lawyers attend at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison with the medical team. They find that their clients are not being held as ordered in the Prison Hospital, but are being kept in solitary confinement in the Maximum Security Prison. They have now been joined by the final confirmed abductee, Violet Mupfuranhehwe and her son, two-year-old Nigel Mutemagau, who are now also to be held in solitary confinement at the Maximum Security Prison.
Doctors examine all individuals, who are led to the Prison Hospital in handcuffs and leg irons. Doctors are refused permission to examine the patients without the presence of prison officers, in breach of patient-doctor confidentiality.
Medical affidavits are produced for all individuals, which confirm their statements of varying levels of torture during their abduction and incarceration at various detention centres in Harare. The affidavits further confirm that the facilities at the Prison Hospital are basic and unsuitable for comprehensive examination and treatment, and that such medical examinations and treatment need to be carried out at a well-equipped hospital.

31 December 2008:
The Magistrate orders that Pascal Gonzo and Tawanda Bvumo should be released as per Omerjee J’s order of 24 December 2008.
Whilst the Clerk of the Magistrates’ Court is signing the Warrant of Liberation for Gonzo and Bvumo, Florence Ziyambi communicates with Magistrate Guvamombe and advises him orally that the state will be appealing against their release. The Magistrate calls for the Clerk of Court and advises him not to issue the Warrants of Liberation, despite the fact that no proper appeal has been filed as required in terms of the law. [In such instances, the State must make an application to the High Court for permission to appeal the ruling, and this has not been done to date.] As a result, Gonzo and Bvumo are unlawfully and unprocedurally returned to Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison.
A further Urgent Chamber Application is filed in the High Court (ref: HC 7169/08) on behalf of Jestina Mukoko and argued before Justice Alphas Chitakunye.
The first argument made on Mukoko’s behalf is that the police should disclose who handed her over to the police, explain their failure to arrest and prosecute such individuals for kidnapping (as police had confirmed on record through Chief Superintendent Nzombe, the police legal adviser that they were treating her disappearance as a criminal case of kidnapping), and ensure that the Attorney General’s office not prosecute Mukoko on the current charges and/or until such time as the kidnapping case is completed. The Minister of State Security, Didymus Mutasa, files an affidavit in the matter in which he confirms that the abductions were carried out by state security agents. He further argues that the identities of the abductors (who are under his authority and control) cannot and should not be disclosed, as investigations are still ongoing and that disclosure would prejudice national security.
The second argument centres on the request of Mukoko’s lawyers that, on the basis of the medical affidavits, she be taken forthwith to Avenues Clinic for further medical examination and treatment.
All individuals remain incarcerated in solitary confinement at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison and not the Prison Hospital.

2 January 2009:
Chitankunye J makes a ruling in Mukoko’s Urgent Chamber Application which was argued on 31 December 2008. The judge is convinced that Minister Mutasa filed his affidavit in good faith and refuses to order the disclosure of the identities of the perpetrators of the abductions or their investigation and prosecution. He however orders that Mukoko be taken to Avenues Clinic for further medical examination and returned from there to Chikurubi. He is not convinced that she cannot be treated at the Prison Hospital and refuses to make an order that she be allowed medical treatment at Avenues Clinic despite the fact that the State has not contested the fact that she was tortured during the course of her abduction and interrogation at the hands of security agents.

3 January 2009:
Lawyers attend at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison to have Chitakunye J’s Order enforced. They are advised that they need to liaise with the Officer in Charge, Chikurubi Female Prison, one Chifodya (female), under whose authority Mukoko falls, despite the fact that she is being detained at Maximum Security.
Upon attendance at the Female Prison, Chifodya is served with the Order. She telephones Deputy Commissioner of Prisons, Chikwature who instructs her not to comply with the order until such time as the Prison Hospital doctor, one Dr Makadza, has authorized Mukoko’s removal. The Officer in Charge is asked whether the doctor has superior powers to those of a High Court judge, and responds, "I don’t know about that. All I know is that I am very junior, and I am acting on instructions I have received’".
Mukoko therefore is effectively refused further medical examination and remains in solitary confinement as this High Court Order continues to be defied.
On the same day, prison officials at Chikurubi and the Matron at the Prison Hospital seek urgent contact with the abductees’ medical practitioners, as they need drugs and other treatment for them which are unavailable at the Prison Hospital.
Lawyers file a further Urgent Chamber Application at the High Court seeking the removal of all 18 detainees to Avenues Clinic for further examination and treatment in line with the medical affidavits received from the medical team which examined them (ref: HC 03/09). Initially, a number of judges seem reluctant to handle the matter; it is however eventually set down for hearing before Justice Anne-Marie Gowora at 12:00hrs the following day.

4 January 2009:
Lawyers attend at the High Court to argue the Urgent Chamber Application before Gowora J just before 12:00hrs. Although the application clearly makes reference to the fact that the individuals have been tortured (a crime prohibited in terms of the Constitution of Zimbabwe and international law and which should move judicial and prosecutorial authorities to order treatment and investigate the crime and the perpetrators) and have suffered severe injuries which require urgent further examination and treatment at a well-equipped hospital, lawyers are advised that she has refused to hear the matter on the basis that the medical affidavits filed together with the application are ones used in criminal cases, and not civil, so the papers are not in order. [This appears to be incorrect at law, as legislation clearly indicates that such evidence can be used in both criminal and civil proceedings; in any event, the doctors were present at the High Court to give oral testimony, but the judge was not moved by this.]
Upon being further contacted, Gowora J instructs lawyers to file fresh medical affidavits and advise her when the affidavits have been brought to the High Court. This is done in less than an hour; however when the Clerk attempts to contact the judge, Gowora J has switched her telephone off and remains unreachable for the rest of the day.

5 January 2009:
Defence lawyers attend at the High Court at 09:00hrs in attempts to establish when Gowora J will hear the Urgent Application now that the medical affidavits are "in order". They are advised that Gowora J considers that she has finalized the matter. She indicates that the lawyers should refer back to Judge President Rita Makarau.
The Judge President is approached to allocate the matter to another judge.
On this basis, lawyers attend the Magistrates’ Court and make applications for all the detainees to have their matters in that Court postponed pending the outcome of the Urgent High Court Application. Mukoko and Broderick Takawira have their matter postponed to 6 January 2009, while the rest of the detainees have their matters postponed to 7 January 2009 in the Magistrates’ Court.
In relation to Pascal Gonzo and Tawanda Bvumo, it is clear that the state has not filed a proper appeal, and they have remained in custody in defiance of the previous Order of Guvamombe since 31 December 2008 (as described previously). Their lawyer attempts to make an application to have them released immediately. Magistrate Olivia Mariga refuses to entertain any application in this regard, and they remain in custody, held over in solitary confinement, until 7 January 2009 where they are to appear again in the Magistrates’ Court.
At around 17:00hrs, lawyers are advised that the Urgent Application in the High Court is now before Justice Lavender Makoni. She indicates that she is still perusing the papers, and will advise the lawyers when the matter will be heard. At the time of this information release the matter, although filed as an Urgent Chamber Application on 3 January 2009, has yet to be set down for hearing.

Points of Information:
None of the abductees have yet been formally charged and/or placed on remand in the Magistrates’ Court. They are merely being held over in custody and this has continued since they were first brought before a magistrate on 24 December 2008 (Mukoko and 8 others) and 29 December 2008 (Dhlamini and 6 others, Gonzo and Bvumo).
Their lawyers still intend to challenge any attempts made by the State to place the abductees on remand on various grounds, which will become public as the matters progress.

For further information, contact Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights:
Landline: (+263-4) 708118 or 251468
Mobile: (+263-11) 619747 or 619749


Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights
24 December 2008

At around 14:00hrs on Tuesday 23 December 2008, Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) began to receive piecemeal information that various individuals, including civil society activists and members of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) who had been abducted over the last 7 weeks, were believed to be held in various police stations around Harare.
Lawyers responded with a comprehensive but non-exhaustive search of a number of police stations, including Mabelreign, Marlborough, Avondale, Borrowdale, Mbare, Stodart, Matapi, Harare Central, Braeside, Rhodesville and Highlands police stations. By speaking to various police officials, examining Detention Books and requesting cell head counts, it was established that at least fourteen (14) individuals of the total number subjected to enforced disappearances, twelve (12) of whom appeared on the list of confirmed abductees, were being detained in custody at Mabelreign, Marlborough, Mbare, Stodart, Matapi, Braeside, Rhodesville and Highlands police stations. These individuals include Jestina Mukoko and her two (2) colleagues from the Zimbabwe Peace Project, who are being held at different police stations.
It is our strong belief that more individuals than those disclosed to lawyers are being held in those police stations, as well as others which have not yet been visited. It is also our belief that there may be more abducted persons than those currently confirmed and on the full list with which lawyers are currently working, as confirmed by the discovery of two (2) individuals in custody who had not been previously known to have been abducted.
In contravention of constitutional protective provisions relating to detained persons, lawyers were, in all cases, denied access to their clients. They were not permitted to establish the well-being of the individuals, in all but one case they were not permitted to provide food to their clients, they were not permitted to provide medical assistance and treatment to the individuals, and were advised that a directive had been circulated to ensure that all individuals were not to have access to their lawyers, or to food and medication.
Most of these individuals, including those whose whereabouts are yet to be confirmed, are subjects of High Court orders which enjoin the police, including the Commissioner-General of Police and his subordinates, to do "all things necessary to determine [their] whereabouts" and to "dispatch a team of detectives to work closely and in conjunction with lawyers appointed by Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, to search [for all people] at such places as may be within their jurisdiction in terms of the Police Act [Chapter 11:10] and the Constitution of Zimbabwe".
It has transpired from investigations made by lawyers yesterday at various police stations that at least some of these individuals now confirmed to be in police custody have been held at police stations, have been booked in and out, moved from one police station to another, and made to carry out indications and other actions, for at least the past two to three days. There has also been at least one search of a private property (the home of Jestina Mukoko) on the night of Tuesday 23 December 2008, in the absence of her lawyers, and during which some items were removed by the police. It is yet to be established whether police were acting in terms of a lawful and specific search warrant. The operation has been led by Chief Superintendent Magwenzi, together with other known individuals from the Law and Order section. Chief Superintendent Magwenzi himself confirmed to senior lawyers who spoke with him yesterday that he is the investigating officer in these cases, and has all the missing persons in his custody in direct contravention of the various court orders.
ZLHR is extremely concerned by the following:-
The continuing trend, as experienced in previous cases, of separating out detained and accused persons in various police stations around the city to ensure that lawyers face challenges in accessing their clients and providing legal support and other protective services;
The contempt by the police of at least six (6) High Court orders by failing or refusing to work with lawyers, as ordered by the judiciary, to ensure that the missing persons are urgently located and brought before a court of law or released forthwith;
The unlawful search and seizure of property without search warrants;
The now commonplace feature of denying lawyers access to their clients, as well as denying the detained persons food and medical attention, which puts them at physical and psychological risk despite clear constitutional protective provisions and in contravention of regional and international protective provisions which the state has willingly ratified and is expected to implement;
The failure or refusal by the investigating officer and other police officials to disclose the charges against the individuals and barring lawyers from taking proper instructions before individuals are brought to court to be charged, especially where the charges are believed to be extremely serious and bear heavy penalties upon conviction;
The continued breach of various provisions of the Global Political Agreement signed on 15 September 2008, in which all political parties undertook to protect the security of persons and to ensure that fundamental rights and freedoms would be respected.
These individuals, both those located and those still unaccounted for, have fundamental rights and freedoms which are being violated with complete impunity. They have been detained in unknown locations at which they may or may not have been subjected to torture and other forms of inhuman and degrading treatment in order to unlawfully extract false confessions. It is our strong belief that any charges preferred against any of these individuals will be unlawful as a result of the treatment to which they have been subjected.
Today lawyers will be filing an urgent High Court application to have all detained persons produced before a court of law, seeking access to the individuals by their lawyers and medical practitioners, and to have them released as a result of the unlawful treatment to which they have been subjected. We hope that the courts will act with the urgency these cases deserve, and that law enforcement agents will comply with orders and act professionally in order to restore the rule of law immediately.

PIETA KASEKE Marlborough
PASCAL GONZO Rhodesville
NIGEL MUTEMAGAWU (2 Year Old minor) Mabelreign