Coltart exposes ZANU-PF’s legal vulnerability

Human rights lawyer and the MDC’s shadow justice minister has posted an exhaustive response explaning how blatantly illegal police conduct was this weekend.

As bad as POSA is, it does not allow the police to issue widespread banning orders as it has sought to do. Notwithstanding the provisions of POSA, the Zimbabwean Constitution is quite clear regarding the right that Zimbabweans have to demonstrate peaceably. POSA is clear that the police are obliged to consider each case on its merits and it cannot lightly disregard the fundamental right contained in the Constitution for people to demonstrate and meet peaceably. What the police have in effect done is issue a general ban reminiscent of the State of Emergency which ended in 1990. There is no declared State of Emergency and to that extent the police have acted completely unlawfully in purporting to issue a general ban as they have done.

Even if the regime is of a mind to argue that it does have this general power it should be reminded that the provisions of POSA used by the ZANU PF regime to deny people fundamental constitutional rights are fascist laws no different to those used by the white minority regime in terms of LOMA. They were bad laws then and are no different now. LOMA did not prevent the legitimate demands of the people from being realised and in the same way POSA will not succeed ultimately in denying the people their rights. The sooner the regime realises that these laws will not solve the Zimbabwean crisis the better. The regime is advised to repeal POSA and then sit down with all Zimbabweans to negotiate a solution to the calamitous situation afflicting our nation. The situation has now been greatly exacerbated by the murder of Gift Tandare, the unlawful arrest of Morgan Tsvangirai, Arthur Mutambara and many other leaders and activists.

Click here to read the entire statement.

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Police murder man; arrest and torture opposition leadership

It has been a rough weekend for the MDC; not only were the two leaders of the party arrested and tortured, the police killed an opposition activist, and the state press blamed the MDC for the violence.

This from Monday’s edition of the state controlled Herald newspapers;

ONE person was shot dead by police and three police officers severely injured during an attack by MDC thugs, while opposition faction leaders Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara were arrested for inciting people to engage in violence.

Other opposition leaders picked up were the Tsvangirai faction secretary general Tendai Biti, organising secretary Elias Mudzuri, Grace Kwinje, Sekai Holland and Job Sikhala, the latter aligned to the Mutambara faction.

National Constitutional Assembly chairman Lovemore Madhuku was also arrested, ZBC News reported last night.

Police said the opposition leaders were observed going around Highfield inciting people to engage in violent activities.

Various opposition groups and civic organisations had planned to hold a political rally at Zimbabwe Grounds disguised as a prayer meeting.

Kubatana observantly notes that

The Herald is correct I think – it wasn’t a prayer meeting) which was disrupted by the ZRP in Highfields in Harare.

The media in Zimbabwe is owned and operated by the Mugabe regime. So Sunday’s aftermath, aka how the events are being portrayed, is in the hands of the State. Zimbabweans, since last night, are being force fed a diet of MDC thuggery, non-attendance and opposition violence.

This makes me wonder when the pro-democracy movement will get its act together in terms of creating its own robust media and information response unit.

Anyone who’s been following developments in Zimbabwe is hardly surprised it came to this for the Tsvangirai and Mutambara. ZANU-PF is scared of the opposition and real possibility they maybe faced with an insurmountable tide of anger. This is part of their fight or flight response to certain danger. Still, that doesn’t excuse the egregious human rights violations.

Here’s how bad things are inside the torture camps

The methods of torture are beating all over the body with baton sticks, falanga (beating the feet), pulling their teeth so they become loose, tying hands and feet together and hanging them up like that while they beat them. As I receive many of them at a medical facility in the city, I see it with my own eyes and hear their stories first hand.

What must be remembered is that severe torture, including the falanga, has long term effects, not just psychologically but also physically. The generally unknown statistics are those torture victims who die a year or two later as a result of the torture.

What the state is doing now is tantamount to another form of Genocide – “systematically dealing with the out group”. But no-one likes to recognise it as such. “It is too strong a word” I was told by the EU representative for Human rights two years ago when I presented them with a photographic record of five years of HR’s abuses in Zimbabwe. And warned them that much worse was still to come! If “that word” is used, then it means the UN and others are obliged to do something.

We know, as does the rest of the world, that the UN only acts “too late, with too little”. Ruwanda is the most horrific and recent example of this. The indications are here for us to see, the utterances by the misruling party make no bones about how they intend to deal with the opposition, and the armed forces (which includes the militia) have explicit instructions. I hope I am mistaken, but I do feel that bloodshed is not far off.

I hope that prediction is wrong.

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ICG Report on Zimbabwe creates buzz

International Crisis Group (ICG), a global political think tank released a report on Zimbabwe that has generated a lot of attention in cyberspace over the past 48 hours. Here’s the important stuff, the recommendations ICG makes in the report,

To the Government of Zimbabwe and ZANU-PF:

1. Abandon plans to extend President Mugabe’s term beyond its expiration in March 2008 and support SADC-led negotiations to implement an exit strategy for him no later than that date.

2. Negotiate with the MDC on a constitutional framework, power-sharing agreement, detailed agenda and benchmarks for a two-year political transition, beginning in March 2008, including:

(a) adoption of a constitutional amendment in the July 2007 parliamentary session providing for nomination in March 2008, by two-thirds majority, of a non-executive president, an executive prime minister and de-linking of government and ZANU-PF party positions;

(b) a power-sharing agreement leading in early 2008 to a transitional government, including ZANU-PF and the MDC, tasked with producing a new draft constitution, repealing repressive laws, drawing up a new voters roll and demilitarising and depoliticising state institutions in accordance with agreed timelines and benchmarks, and leading to internationally supervised elections in 2010; and

(c) implementation of an emergency economic recovery plan to curb inflation, restore donor and foreign investor confidence and boost mining and agricultural production, including establishment of a Land Commission with a strong technocratic base and wide representation of Zimbabwean stakeholders to recommend policies aimed at ending the land crisis.

3. Abandon plans for a new urban displacement program and act to redress the damage done by Operation Murambatsvina by:

(a) providing shelter to its homeless victims; and

(b) implementing the recommendations of the Tibaijuka Report, including compensation for those whose property was destroyed, unhindered access for humanitarian workers and aid and creation of an environment for effective reconstruction and resettlement.

To the Movement for Democratic Change:

4. Proceed with internal efforts to establish minimum unity within the party and a common front for dealing with the government and ZANU-PF and contesting presidential and parliamentary elections, while retaining reunification as the ultimate goal.

5. Hold internal consultations between faction leaders to adopt a joint strategy aiming at:

(a) finalising negotiations with ZANU-PF over constitutional reforms, a power-sharing agreement and formation of a transitional government in March 2008; and

(b) preparing for a March 2008 presidential election if negotiations with ZANU-PF fail, and President Mugabe retains power.

To Zimbabwean and South African Civil Society Organisations:

6. Initiate legal proceedings in South African courts to attach any assets stolen from the Zimbabwean government and transferred to or invested in South Africa and to obtain the arrest and prosecution of egregious Zimbabwean human rights abusers visiting South Africa.

To SADC and South Africa:

7. Engage with the U.S. and the EU to adopt a joint strategy for resolving the crisis that includes:

(a) mediation by SADC of negotiations for an exit deal on expiration of President Mugabe’s term in 2008 and of an agreement between ZANU-PF and the MDC on a power-sharing transitional government to oversee development of a new constitution, repeal repressive laws and hold internationally supervised presidential and parliamentary elections in 2010; and

(b) understandings on the use by the U.S. and EU of incentives and disincentives to support the strategy in regard to targeted sanctions, political relations with the transitional government and resumption of assistance.

8. Engage with the Zimbabwe government to facilitate talks between ZANU-PF and the MDC leading to the above steps.

9. Convene an urgent meeting of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Co-operation to consider the regional consequences of the economic meltdown in Zimbabwe and recommend action by the Heads of State summit to deal with the situation.

To the United States and the European Union:

10. Engage with SADC countries to adopt the above-mentioned joint strategy, including understandings on timelines and benchmarks to be met by the Zimbabwean authorities in restoring and implementing a democratic process.

11. Increase pressure on President Mugabe and other ZANU-PF leaders if they do not cooperate with efforts to begin a transition and restore democracy, including by taking the following measures to close loopholes in targeted personal sanctions:

(a) apply the sanctions also to family members and business associates of those on the lists;

(b) cancel visas and residence permits of those on the lists and their family members; and

(c) add Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono to the EU list.

12. Portugal, holding the EU Presidency in the second half of 2007, should not invite President Mugabe and other members of the Zimbabwe government or ZANU-PF on the EU targeted sanctions list to the EU-AU summit unless significant reforms have already been undertaken.

13. Increase funding for training and other capacity-building assistance to democratic forces in Zimbabwe.

To the United Nations Secretary-General:

14. Assign a senior official – a new Special Envoy to Zimbabwe, the Special Adviser to the Secretary General on Africa or a high-level member of the Department of Political Affairs – responsibility for the Zimbabwe portfolio including to support the SADC-led initiative, and monitor the situation for the Secretary General.

To the United Nations Security Council:

15. Begin discussions aimed at placing the situation in Zimbabwe on the agenda as a threat to international peace and security.

To the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights or in the alternative the Human Rights Council:

16. Initiate a follow-up investigation on the Tibaijuka Report, including plans for a new urban displacement campaign, arrests of informal miners and political repression, and recommend actions to the member states, the Security Council and the Secretariat.

To the Commonwealth Secretariat:

17. Encourage Commonwealth member countries in Southern Africa to help mediate a political settlement for a post-Mugabe Zimbabwe, setting benchmarks for a return of the country to the organisation.

18. Establish a group of Eminent Persons to engage with Zimbabwe, using the good offices of its regional members to facilitate access.

19. Work through Commonwealth civil society organizations to build up civil society capacity in Zimbabwe.

I can’t say the report, recommendations, or all the attention it is getting have me jumping out of my seat. Don’t get me wrong, I am not going to dismiss the report either, there’s clearly been a diligent effort by the group to document the status quo in Zimbabwe today.
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ITV stealth report: fedup in Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe; cracks, fissures and discontent all around.

Zimbabwean President, Robert Mugabe turned 83 a week ago. While he celebrated at a lengthy gala in Gweru which was forced on residents and school children there, police issued a repressive ban on rallies and demonstrations in Harare. The ban, the regime’s latest measure at calming an incessent tide of anger, is evidence that there are deep cracks and fissures in the nation’s foundations as Eddie Cross notes;

The situation in Zimbabwe has deteriorated sharply in the past few days. The government has imposed a ban on public meetings, the strikes are continuing with the State run hospitals now completely paralysed, Doctors and Nurses refuse to go back to work. The Universities are due to open on Monday but staff is on strike and there are no signs of compromise. Students plan to join the strike on Monday in support of their lecturers and demanding attention to the stark conditions under which they are living. The ZCTU has announced a national strike in a month’s time and the State Security Minister has threatened them with dire action.

Now a form of curfew is being imposed on the high-density townships across the country in an effort to bring the situation under control. These are clearly signs of panic in the realms of government.

Tomorrow should be the start of a 4-month freeze on prices and wages – however I understand the proposal has been abandoned as being simply unworkable. No statements are forthcoming from the authorities and to say the least, there is considerable confusion in business and Union circles. The Governor of the Reserve Bank speaks of a ‘Social Contract’ but none exists.

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Chamisa: Zanu PF, police fire teargas, live ammunition at MDC supporters

Highfield resembled a ghost town following running battles between unarmed MDC supporters and armed riot police. The police, who had defied a High Court order, cordoned off the venue of the MDC rally and went on the rampage in the High density suburb of Highfield in Harare.

Despite a High Court order preventing the police from interfering with the MDC rally to launch its Presidential campaign at Zimbabwe grounds in Highfield, Harare, armed riot police sealed off the venue and patrolled the streets of Highfield indiscriminately firing live ammunition, teargas and water cannons in the tranquil environment around Machipisa shopping centre.

When the crowd became agitated, the over 50 000-strong crowd that had turned up for the rally were sent scurrying for cover after armed riot police ordered the shopping center closed, searched people’s homes and indiscriminately assaulted any person seen outside their home. The terror campaign spread to all high density suburbs in Harare where running battles are still being fought between the people and the security forces of an unpopular regime.

Three people are feared dead while 127 people have been arrested and that is the price they have paid for turning up for an ordinary party rally. Two of our disabled supporters, Angeline Masaisai and Clara Muzoda were thoroughly assaulted near the venue of the rally after they had painfully traveled all the way from Mabvuku for the star rally. At least 11 Israeli-imported water cannons patrolled the streets of Highfield and 279 were seriously injured in the clashes with the police and are receiving treatment at various hospitals in Harare.

President Tsvangirai, Vice President Thokozani Khupe and members of the Liberation team attempted to force their way into the stadium only to cause more teargas and chaos from the police.
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With Mugabe’s approval, police quash another demo

In what has been widely condemned as the state’s approval of police cruelty, Mugabe berated Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Union (ZCTU) leaders for crying foul after police brutalized them for their attempted demonstrations last week. Speaking at an official event during a stopover on his way back from Cuba and New York, Mugabed raged at the demonsrators accusing them of putting on a charade for western media to document,

The President said the ZCTU leaders — who were beaten up by police for holding an illegal gathering in Harare — got the treatment they deserved for ignoring warnings to disperse.

“We cannot have a situation where people decide to sit in places not allowed and when the police remove them, they say no. We can’t have that, that is a revolt to the system. Vamwe vaakuchema kuti takarohwa, ehe unodashurwa. When the police say move, move. If you don’t move, you invite the police to use force,” the President said.

And as if they had planned it ahead, the police did it again.

27 people on Monday were left with bruises after police in Harare crushed a protest march by the pressure group National Constitutional Assembly (NCA). Demonstrations, which took part in several cities last Wednesday, had failed to take place in Harare due to heavy police presence.

Dr Lovemore Madhuku, chairperson of the NCA, said the impromptu strike action which was attended by around 300 people was to make the people of Harare go back to the streets and regain their confidence as the police blocked the protests last week. He said; “The objective is to raise awareness and putting pressure on the government.”

Police are said to have started beating the protesters who were not resisting but merely sat on the road. There were no arrests. Madhuku believes it was a well calculated plot by the authorities not to arrest anyone so as to create the impression that there were very few people in the streets. He also said perhaps it was coinciding with the return of Robert Mugabe who was returning home from the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

All this does is instill tremendous amounts of fear in an already fearful lay population in Zimbabwe. One of the things Mugabe’s propaganda has done extremely well is overmagnifying the consequences of opposing them whilst underplaying or downright ignoring the progress made by activists for a better Zimbabwe. Ultimately, as ordinary Zimbabweans engage in the cost-benefit analysis of whether it’s worth the risk of going out on the streets, there are huge disincentives for the people to be involved in street protest. We cannot forget the plain reality here; at just 7 years of age, the MDC has attained heights scaled by no other opposition party in Zimbabwe. And despite Mugabe’s constant belittling, the NCA and ZCTU are still out there for the people. Don’t forget the other civic activists braving assured police torture on a daily basis either.

As for the Bull Conner like government, their time is fast approaching. They too, like their infamous predecessor will realize that just the most violent beatings, the most inhumane punishment, and the most demeaning things they can do and say will not take away from the people of Zimbabwe that which the government didn’t give; our God-given right to freedom and dignity. Pretty soon, the people will have nothing left to fear anymore. In Why we can’t wait, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. describes Mugabe’s impending reality,

When for decades you have been able to make a man compromise his manhood by threatening him with a cruel and unjust punishment, and when suddenly he turns upon you an says: “Punish me. I do accept it so that the world will know that I am right and you are wrong,” you hardly konw what to do. You feel defeated and secretly ashamed. You know that this man is as good a man as you are; that from the some mysterious source he has found te courage and the conviction to meet meet physical force with soul force.” p.16

It’s only a matter of time….

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  • Yesterday, the second day of the second session of Zimbabwe’s sixth parliament, the government presented the dreaded Interception of Communications Bill (ICB) reports Zimbabwe Journalists. This development essentially means the bill only two steps from promulgation. Before it can be voted on in august house, the ICB shall be evaluated for constitutional consistentcy by the Parliamentary Legal Committe. Of course, this the same legal committe that gave the nod to the electoral act which empowered the chief justice to unilaterally appoint judges to the electoral court giving ZANU-PF unchecked access to the electoral legislative process. The Electoral Act has since been struck down because it does not honor the constitutional mandate that judges be appointed (by the president) and confirmed by parliament. See this. Once assented by the legal committe, the bill will go before the main floor where it will be voted on by the legislators. Since ZANU-PF has control of both houses of the legislature, there’s little doubt the bill will pass and be gazetted as law in short order. Details about Communications Monitoring Center, which the bill proposes to establish, still remain unclear. What is clear however, is effect such a proposal has on the freedom of expression of the Zimbabwean people. This is Zimbabwe the prominent blog of the Sokwanele/Zvakwana civic action groups appears to have folded. Many of us involved in Zimbabwean cyber activism are now in limbo as we are unsure how the new law will affect our wellbeing. We’ve always known ZANU has little sympathy for the things we do, now they will have legal sanction to snoop and harass those us working to tell the story as we see it. With little recourse left, all we can do is wait to see how the law will affect our lives. Technorati Tags: , , , , (0)

Weekend Reading

The Muckraker, the Independent’s satirist is juicy this week. The installment lampoons the contradictions of the Mugabe regime highlighting their onesided mentality.

Muckraker also critizes Mugabe’s press secretary George Charamba, who, while writing under the Nathaneil Manheru nom de plum, savagely attacked Jonathan Moyo in a clearly tribalistic and xenophobic outburst.

It was Jonathan Moyo, the former information minister, who outed Charamba as the impetus behind the Manheru’s bitter protests against all government critics almost a year ago. Now, he finds himself, the object such an attack.

Known for his ascerbic two forked tongue, the former minister wasted no time firing back in this article carried by New Zimbabwe, one the Zimbabwean publications with a soft spot for the former minister best known for presiding over the closure of four newspapers deemed unfriendly.

Apparently unsatisfied by the the attention Moyo’s response garnered, New Zimbabwe editorial core decided to spinoff a tabloid style headline, “Charamba tried to kill wife…”

This should making for some fascinating reading for your weekend!

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Information Minister Dead

Both New Zimbabwe and Zimbabwe Journalists are reporting the death of Zimbabwe’s information minister Tichaona Jokonya early Saturday morning.

Jokonya, who took over the controversial ministry from Jonathan Moyo had previously been Zimbabwe’s ambassador to the UN.

There had been longrunning rumors that he had been unwell.

According to New Zimbabwe,

Jokonya’s body was recovered from a bath tub of the Rainbow Towers Hotel, formerly Sheraton Hotel, in Harare.

He had booked a 16th floor room and when he failed to answer the door to his bodyguard, hotel staff forced open the door.

It is not known if there was any other person in the room with Jokonya who has a house in Harare and lived with his wife, Winnie Friede and children.

After taking over the information portfolio, Jokonya had, until last Wednesday, done little to reverse his ministry’s legacy of mantaining ZANU-PF’s absolute monarchy on Zimbabwe’s information outlets, and dealing harshly with independent media. On Wednesday, the formerly mild Jokonya boldly announced he was going recentralize the operational structure of ZBH, a wholly owned parastatal, and Zimbabwe’s sole radio and T.V. broadcaster. The move, which will eradicate the national broadcaster’s “small business units” was Jokonya’s first real challenge to the establishment left by Moyo.
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