Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Zim Diamonds High on KP Windhoek Meeting Agenda

ZIMBABWE'S diamond trade will no doubt feature high on the agenda of the three-day Intersessional Meeting of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS), which began yesterday, with the opening remarks of chairperson Bernard Esau setting the tone for this.

The Kimberley Process is a joint government, industry and civil society initiative to stem the flow of and prevent trade in conflict diamonds, and is this year being chaired by Namibia.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Crucial Test For Judiciary

Published in: Legalbrief Africa
Date: Mon 22 June 2009
Category: Zimbabwe
Issue No: 336

A crucial test for Zimbabwe's judiciary comes before the country's Supreme Court, sitting as a constitutional court, when it is asked this week to consider the case of human rights activist Jestina Mukoko, who was taken from her home in the early hours of the morning last December by six armed men and a woman.

They did not produce a warrant and they refused to say on what authority they acted or indeed who they were. She was held in solitary confinement, interrogated and tortured. Leading legal commentator Carmel Rickard, writing in The Weekender, says Minister of State Security, Didymus Mutasa, confirmed what anyone could have guessed - that Mukoko's kidnapping, detention and torture had been carried out by 'state security agents'. Rickard says the facts are so stark that members of the court cannot avoid seeing the dispute as one in which they must make a choice. Either they decide to uphold Mukoko's rights under the Constitution of Zimbabwe or they permit the executive to act unconstitutionally (and by extension condone the view of the Attorney-General who told the court in so many words, that he is not subject to court orders). It will be argued before the court that the state has not only failed to investigate and prosecute those who so fundamentally violated Mukoko's rights, but the state is in fact the very authority which authorised the violations in the first place. The argument to be put to the judges is that the court 'cannot be seen to facilitate this executive defiance of the rule of law'.
Full article in The Weekender

Friday, June 19, 2009

Without justice there can be no real healing in Zimbabwe

18 June 2009,

Amnesty International has a long and consistent record of campaigning on human rights issues in Zimbabwe, going back more than 40 years.

This Amnesty International mission comes at a critical juncture in Zimbabwe's history, nine months after the adoption of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) and four months after the setting up of the inclusive government, following a decade of political crisis marked by high levels of human rights violations. The purpose of the Amnesty International mission has been to assess the human rights situation and the commitment of the government to end human rights abuses and bring about reforms in line with the GPA, and to make recommendations to the government and to the international community on the way forward.
Read More

Zimbabwe's progress on human rights 'woefully slow'

18 June 2009

"The human rights situation in Zimbabwe is precarious, and the socio-economic conditions are desperate for the vast majority of Zimbabweans," said Irene Khan, Amnesty International Secretary General, ending a six-day high level mission to Zimbabwe, during which she met with senior government ministers, human rights activists and victims of human rights violations.

“Persistent and serious human rights violations, combined with the failure to introduce reform of the police, army and security forces or address impunity and the lack of clear commitment on some parts of the government are real obstacles that need to be confronted by the top leadership of Zimbabwe.”
Read More

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Breaking news from WOZA 18th June 2009 WOZA members beaten and arrested in Harare today

Following peaceful protests in Bulawayo yesterday, hundreds of members
of Women and Men of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA/MOZA) marched through the
streets of Harare today to mark International Refugee Day. 700 members
were expected to have taken part. Six simultaneous protests began at
12pm under the theme – real people, real needs. As in Bulawayo, the
protests were violently dispersed by police who beat protestors with
baton sticks.

It is unclear at this stage how many members have been arrested but we
are deeply concerned for the welfare of two members, Maria Majoni and
Clara Manjengwa, who were seen to be arrested and brutally beaten by
police. Clara was followed by a police vehicle after the protests had
dispersed and arrested. Four police officers threw her into the back
of the vehicle and began to jump on her with their booted feet and
beat her with their baton sticks. When she began to scream in pain,
the driver and passenger in the front seat got out the vehicle and
joined their colleagues in jumping up and down on Clara. Maria Majoni
was also brutally beaten with baton sticks at one of the starting
points before being arrested. It is unclear where either woman has
been taken. A journalist who was recording the beating of Maria Majoni
was also arrested.

Three of the six simultaneous protests were immediately stopped by
police who had been patrolling the streets of central Harare. Those
that had gathered were beaten with baton sticks and dispersed. Riot
police intercepted the fourth protest outside the offices of The
Herald, violently beating the peaceful protestors. As the last two
protests were nearing their target, Parliament, riot police again
descended and began to brutally beat the group. The demonstrators were
followed by police as they dispersed who continued to beat them as
they moved away.

As they beat the peaceful protestors, police told them “you wanted
lower rates, here are the lower rates you wanted” before hitting them
with their baton sticks.

Meanwhile seven of the eight activists arrested yesterday in Bulawayo
remain in police custody. Lawyers secured the release of one of the
group as he is on antiretroviral medication. All eight are expected to
appear in court tomorrow facing charges of disturbing the peace.

More details will be given as they become available.

18th June 2009

For more information, please call Jenni Williams on +263 912 898 110 /
+263 11 213 885, Magodonga Mahlangu on +263 912 362 668 or Annie
Sibanda on +27 79 188 1560. Email or visit

Zimbabwe: Obama boosts Tsvangirai, but cold-shoulders unity government - June 15, 2009.
Washington DC (USA) - President Barack Obama has welcomed Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai to the Oval Office in Washington, DC, with a U.S. $73 million aid package for Zimbabwe. But he refused to give it directly to the unity government "because we continue to be concerned about consolidating democracy, human rights, and rule of law," he said.

For his part, Tsvangirai told reporters at the end of his Friday meeting with Obama that he recognized that "even by the standard of our own benchmarks, there are gaps that still exist..."

He said he told Obama that his participation in the the unity government with President Robert Mugabe was "a journey".

"This is a transitional arrangement," Tsvangirai said. "We want to institute those reforms that will ensure that in 18 months' time the people of Zimbabwe are given an opportunity to elect their own government.... We continue to engage in ensuring that [external humanitarian]... support consolidates the process towards democratic change."

A transcript of their remarks, as released by the White House and amended on the basis of a live recording of PM Tsvangirai's remarks, follows:

Watch President Obama and PM Tsvangirai address journalists in the Oval Office.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, I want to welcome Prime Minister Tsvangirai to the Oval Office. He and his delegation have been meeting with my team throughout the day. I obviously have extraordinary admiration for the courage and the tenacity that the Prime Minister has shown in navigating through some very difficult political times in Zimbabwe.

There was a time when Zimbabwe was the bread basket of Africa and continues to have enormous potential. It has gone through a very dark and difficult period politically. The President -- President Mugabe -- I think I've made my views clear, has not acted oftentimes in the best interest of the Zimbabwean people and has been resistant to the kinds of democratic changes that need to take place.

We now have a power-sharing agreement that shows promise, and we want to do everything we can to encourage the kinds of improvement not only on human rights and rule of law, freedom of the press and democracy that is so necessary, but also on the economic front.

The people of Zimbabwe need very concrete things -- schools that are reopened, a health care delivery system that can deal with issues like cholera or HIV/AIDS, an agricultural system that is able to feed its people. And on all these fronts, I think the Prime Minister is committed to significant concrete improvement in the day-to-day lives of the people of Zimbabwe.

I congratulate him -- they've been able to bring inflation under control after hyperinflation that was really tearing at the fabric of the economy. We're starting to see slowly some improvements in capacity -- industrial capacity there. So, overall, in a very difficult circumstance, we've seen progress from the Prime Minister.

We are grateful to him. We want to encourage him to continue to make progress. The United States is a friend to the people of Zimbabwe. I've committed $73 million in assistance to Zimbabwe. It will not be going through the government directly because we continue to be concerned about consolidating democracy, human rights, and rule of law, but it will be going directly to the people in Zimbabwe and I think can be of assistance to the Prime Minister in his efforts.

He's going to continue to provide us with direction in ways that he thinks we can be helpful. And I'm grateful to him for his leadership, for his courage, and I'm looking forward to being a partner with him in the years to come.

PRIME MINISTER TSVANGIRAI: Thank you. Thank you very much, Mr. President. I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for receiving us. I'm sure that -- I want to take the opportunity of congratulating you, although belatedly, for being elected the President. And I think it's a profound experience for some of us who are committed to change, and hopefully that -- the Prime Minister, who is committed to change, and the President, who is committed to change, find common convergence position.

I've been explaining to the President that Zimbabwe is coming out of a political conflict and economic collapse or decay, and that the new political dispensation we have crafted is an attempt to arrest this decay, but also mindful of the fact that it is a journey. This is a transitional arrangement. We want to institute those reforms that will ensure that in 18 months' time the people of Zimbabwe are given an opportunity to elect their own government.

Yes, there has been a lot of progress made by the transitional government, but there are also problems. It is the problems of implementation, and I do recognize that even by the standard of our own benchmarks, there are gaps that still exist and that we will strive. And I want to show my -- to express my commitment that we will strive to implement those benchmarks, not because they are for the international community but because for ourselves it gives people of Zimbabwe freedom and opportunity to grow.

I want to say, lastly, I want to thank you for that demonstrable leadership in assisting the people of Zimbabwe and I want to take this opportunity to thank the humanitarian support that the West -- we have experienced over the years and the continued expression of support. And of course we continue to engage in ensuring that that support consolidates the process towards democratic change, rather than strengthens a reverse and defense of the status quo.

Thank you very much, Mr. President.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Thank you so much. Thank you, everybody. Have a great weekend.

Zimbabwe: Civic groups express disquiet over pace of reforms

The Standard (Zimbabwe) - June 15, 2009.
Harare (Zimbabwe) — Delays in resolving outstanding issues from the Global Political Agreement (GPA) and mounting evidence that some of President Robert Mugabe's close lieutenants are determined to slow down the pace of democratic reforms continue to undermine the credibility of the hybrid government, civic groups have warned.

The recent controversy over President Mugabe's unilateral appointments of Attorney- General, Johannes Tomana and Reserve Bank governor, Gideon Gono has exposed serious fault lines in the fledgling coalition.

MDC-T and Zanu PF officials have also clashed over media reforms that were guaranteed in the GPA.

The MDC-T recently referred the dispute over Gono and Tomana to Sadc for arbitration, while differences over media reform are now playing out in the courts after four freelance journalists challenged the continued existence of the Media and Information Commission (MIC).

High Court judge Justice Bharat Patel ruled recently that the MIC was a legal nullity but the Minister of Media, Information and Publicity, Webster Shamu and his permanent secretary George Charamba are contesting the ruling.

In a new publication reflecting on the inclusive government's first 100 days compiled by the Crisis Zimbabwe Coalition (CZC), 14 civic organisations say all the hope they had in the coalition was "dying a slow death."

The publication is titled 100 days into the inclusive government: A compendium of reflections from civil society organisations.

"As we reflect on the recent past we have to admit that nothing much has changed," the Ecumenical Support Services said in its assessment.

"Many negative things are still happening around the country which we do not expect to happen under a government which the MDC is part and parcel of."

The faith-based organisation said human rights violations still persisted to an extent that the international donor community has refused to extend financial assistance to the inclusive government.

Arbitrary arrests of journalists and human rights defenders have marred the unity government's first three months in office, fuelling fears residual elements from Mugabe's previous administration were working hard to torpedo the coalition.

CZC describes the first three months as a period of extended negotiation mainly because of an apparent tug of war around roles and responsibilities between Zanu PF and the MDC.

"In addition, prolonged inaction on issues that were outstanding on the day the government went into business, an unrepentant bureaucracy that is still largely manned by Zanu PF apologists at its apex, residual antagonistic elements who still want to see the death of the marriage of convenience and normal dynamics of group cohesion and formation represent the major stumbling blocks," the group said.

Organisations representing students, churches, people with disabilities and human rights defenders felt that the battle to control government in the first three months had shifted the focus away from the country's worsening humanitarian situation.

Aid agencies say three quarters of Zimbabweans need food assistance while the situation in education and health sectors still remains critical.

"Although the inclusive government is rightly focusing attention on economic stabilization and recovery and political allocation of power it should not lose sight of the people's needs and aspirations," the Students Christian Movement of Zimbabwe said in its submission.

However, the groups were unanimous that the transitional government remains the only way out of the country's long running economic and political problems.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Amnesty International Leader Heads for High Level Mission to Zimbabwe


Amnesty International Secretary General to visit Zimbabwe
From 13 to 18 June 2009, Amnesty International Secretary General Irene Khan
will lead a high level mission to Zimbabwe, during which she plans to meet
human rights activists, victims of human rights violations and senior
government officials, including President Robert Mugabe.
The mission will conclude with a press conference in Harare on 18 June,
during which she will present preliminary findings from the mission, and be
available to answer questions and conduct individual interviews.
All media are welcome to attend.
Refreshments will be served.
Amnesty International Secretary General Irene Khan
Press conference on findings of mission to Zimbabwe
10.00 am local time (08.00 GMT), Thursday, 18 June 2009
Mirabelle Drawing Room (Ground Floor), Meikles Hotel, Jason
Moyo Avenue, Harare
On 19 June, Secretary General Irene Khan will be available for interviews
from London, including in-studio appearances, to discuss the findings of the
mission and the results of her meetings with government officials.
For further information or to arrange an interview, please contact Amnesty
International's Africa Press Officer, Eliane Drakopoulos, on Zimbabwe
mobile: 023 842 322 or UK +44 7778 472 109. For London interviews, please
call Judit Arenas on mobile: +44 7778 472 188.
Working to protect human rights worldwide