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Zimbabwe update

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Zimbabwe: Draft constitution 'a flawed compromise'

2012-07-24, Issue 595

Analysts critical of Zimbabwe's draft constitution say it is a flawed collection of compromises that is doomed to be 'thrown away by future nations'. The proposed document, which will be subject to a referendum, was crafted by experts from the main political parties to a power-sharing government that has been in place since a violence-marred 2008 election. The draft curtails presidential powers and limits terms to 10 years.

Zimbabwe: Civil servants protest over poor pay

2012-07-25, Issue 595

Zimbabwean government workers held protests 25 July in Harare against poor salaries after the Finance minister Tendai Biti ruled out an increment this year. The workers are demanding a salary of $564 for the least paid worker and 15 per cent of the basic salary as rural allowance for those working outside urban centres. The lowest paid civil servant earns $296.

Zimbabwe: Unity government in turmoil

2012-07-17, Issue 594

The full Supreme Court bench has thrown the coalition government into political turmoil after it ordered President Robert Mugabe to call for a string of by-elections before the end of next month in a shock ruling which could change the current composition of parliament and collapse the Global Political Agreement (GPA).The court’s judgement could lead the country into a mini-general election or leave the main political parties engaged in renewed combat and negotiations over the timing of full general elections. It could also have far-reaching implications, not just for the GPA and inclusive government, but also Sadc facilitation and resolutions.

Zimbabwe: Fears that ZANU PF planning to dismiss new constitution

2012-07-18, Issue 594

There are fresh fears that plans are being laid by ZANU PF to dismiss the proposed new constitution, in a move that will ensure there are no voting rights for the Diaspora. There is still no confirmation about when the draft charter will be released, but ZANU PF has repeatedly shown resistance to the document spearheaded by the COPAC team. Robert Mugabe’s party has been advocating for the ‘Kariba Draft’ constitution, which was a negotiated document made well before COPAC was tasked with setting the laws for a new, democratic Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe: EU to suspend Zimbabwe sanctions 'after referendum'

2012-07-23, Issue 594

The European Union is to suspend most sanctions against Zimbabwe once it has held a credible referendum on a new constitution, EU foreign ministers say. More than a 100 key individuals have been covered under an EU travel ban and assets freeze imposed in 2002. The sanctions were originally imposed a decade ago in response to human rights abuses and political violence. But sanctions would remain against President Robert Mugabe, AFP news agency quotes EU diplomats as saying.

Zimbabwe: Call for wider Zim sanctions aimed at Mugabe

2012-07-16, Issue 593

A new supply of African blood diamonds is threatening to entrench the rule of Zimbabwean despot Robert Mugabe, just as Britain and other European countries plan to lift sanctions against the regime, it has been claimed. Human rights charity Global Witness says money is being siphoned from diamond mines to finance a 'parallel government' and its secret police force in Zimbabwe, helped by a Chinese businessman. It comes as a row brews over plans to lift travel restrictions and partial asset freezes imposed on some of President Mugabe's ministers by the EU.

Zimbabwe: Diamonds fund parallel government

2012-07-09, Issue 592

A new report from Global Witness reveals that Zimbabwe's Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) appears to have received off budget financing from a Hong Kong-based businessman as the CIO and other security agencies continue to prepare to influence elections due to take place sometime in 2013, reports the latest issue of the AfricaFocus Bulletin, which contains a press release on the report from Global Witness, the Executive Summary of the report, and selected additional excerpts.

Zimbabwe: Seven WOZA members briefly detained after Bulawayo demo

2012-06-20, Issue 590

Seven members of the pressure group Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) were arrested and then briefly detained on Tuesday, after a ‘die-in’ protest in Bulawayo. The ‘die-in’, which saw three different groups of WOZA members lying down at main traffic intersections in the city, form part of a WOZA led campaign to pressure for a devolved system of government to be included in the draft constitution.

Zimbabwe: Judge ‘too busy’ to rule on bail for 29 MDC-T activists

2012-06-17, Issue 589

A High Court judge claims he is ‘a bit constrained for time’ to deal with an urgent bail application by 29 MDC-T activists facing charges of killing a policeman. Asked by defence lawyers when he was going to deal with the bail application Justice Bhunu claimed he had a heavy workload and had not got around to dealing with the matter. This is despite the fact that the majority of activists charged in the case have been in custody for more than a year without trial.

Zimbabwe: Thousands illegally recruited into army

2012-06-17, Issue 589

There was a dramatic turn this week in the ongoing row between Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa and Finance Minister Tendai Biti, who revealed that the Public Service Commission had illegally recruited 10,000 new staff members and among them were 4,600 soldiers. The revelation was surprising because the defence ministry had recently demanded $2.5 million from the treasury, insisting the funds were needed to feed soldiers who are going hungry in the barracks and to pay for an additional 5,000 new recruits. Mnangagwa went as far as threatening violence, vowing to send army generals to Biti’s offices.

Zimbabwe: Police target MDC supporters

2012-06-05, Issue 588

Police have fired tear gas to disperse supporters of Zimbabwe Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's MDC party outside a courthouse. About 200 demonstrators gathered outside the high court in downtown Harare on Monday 4 June to protest charges being brought against 29 activists of the former opposition appearing there for a bail hearing. The activists are seeking bail on charges of murdering a police officer a year ago.

Zimbabwe: SADC meeting a game-changer, says Biti

2012-06-05, Issue 588

MDC-T secretary general, Tendai Biti has described the Sadc meeting in Angola as 'probably the most important post-GNU summit' adding the regional body had made it clear that new elections could not be held without political reforms. President Robert Mugabe had hoped Sadc would endorse his push for new elections to go ahead this year even if political reforms that include the writing of a new constitution are not completed in time. But Biti said the troika meeting told coalition parties to implement all agreed electoral, political, security sector and media reforms over the next twelve months. However, Zanu PF spokesman, Rugare Gumbo accused the MDC formations of misinterpreting the Sadc resolutions saying the bloc merely said reforms should be implemented within 12 months. 'We still have seven months before the end of the year. I am confident within the next few months, we will have implemented the reforms in time for elections in 2012,' he said.

Zimbabwe: Fears of military coup mount

2012-06-07, Issue 588

Fears are mounting that Zimbabwe’s military will seize power in the event of President Robert Mugabe’s death or electoral defeat. A top army general said they would not allow anyone who does not share the ideals of the veteran ruler’s Zanu PF party to lead the country. 'As the military, we do not only believe, but act in defence of these values and we will not respect any leader who does not respect the revolution,' Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) chief of staff Major General Trust Mugoba said.

Zimbabwe: SADC says reform must happen before poll

2012-06-04, Issue 587

Regional leaders mediating in Zimbabwe said they want to see democratic and constitutional reforms before fresh elections can be held next year. The Southern African Development Community called on Zimbabwe's coalition government to work on a new constitution and put it to a referendum to adhere to the terms of the power sharing deal brokered by the group in 2009, according to a statement released by the group Saturday.

Zimbabwe: Police arrest six ZANU PF members over MDC-T murder

2012-05-31, Issue 587

At least six ZANU PF activists have reportedly been arrested in connection with the murder of an MDC-T ward official in Mudzi North last Saturday, but already there are concerns that the arrests were simply a ZANU PF ploy to save face, ahead of the SADC summit. Cephas Magura, the MDC-T chairperson for ward 1, Mudzi North, died from injuries sustained during an assault by ZANU PF thugs at Chimukoko Business Centre. The MDC-T had organised a rally there with permission from the police.

Zimbabwe: SA facilitators heading to Zimbabwe for election roadmap talks

2012-05-24, Issue 586

The facilitation team of South African President Jacob Zuma is expected in Zimbabwe to check on progress made by the unity government in fine-tuning the election roadmap the Southern African Development Community says is necessary before the country's next polls. President Robert Mugabe and his Zanu PF party have consistently called for elections this year, even in the absence of a new constitution. But the two MDC formations in the coalition government insist critical democratic reforms are implemented before any fresh polls are called, in particular the writing of a new constitution.

Zimbabwe: UN Rights chief urges agreement on key reforms

2012-05-27, Issue 586

The visiting United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has called on Zimbabwe’s political leaders to quickly find a solution to their differences and implement key reforms, in order to avoid the violence that marred the 2008 elections. Speaking to journalists at the end of her five-day visit to assess human rights, Navi Pillay said unless the parties quickly agree on key reforms, the next election could turn into 'a repeat of the 2008 election which resulted in rampant politically motivated human rights abuses, including killings, torture, rapes, beatings, arbitrary detention, displacements and other violations'.

Zimbabwe: MDC-T mounts diplomatic offensive as SADC summit draws near

2012-05-27, Issue 586

The MDC-T has embarked on a new diplomatic offensive to galvanise support from the region, for the far-reaching legislative reforms needed in Zimbabwe before elections can be held. The country will again be the focus of attention at next week’s SADC summit in Luanda, Angola, at which regional leaders will discuss the ongoing political crisis blocking implementation of the GPA and election roadmap.

Zimbabwe: Police arrest 15 for 'illegal' political activity

2012-04-24, Issue 582

Zimbabwe police on Monday arrested 15 members of the MDC formation headed by Industry Minister Welshman Ncube, including three councilors, in Tsholotsho district accusing them of holding political meetings without clearance. They will be charged under the widely-condemned Public Order and Security Act, the party said. Police were not immediately available for comment.

Zimbabwe: Investigate Zimbabwe’s virginity tests

2012-04-24, Issue 582

The Zimbabwe Unemployed People’s Association (ZUPA) has issued a statement calling for investigations into allegations that girls, some barely teenagers, at a primary school in Zimbabwe were stripped in front of their male counterparts while adults examined their private parts. 'If true, this would be one of the worst cases of abuse of the rights of the girl child which is why the Ministry of Social Services must immediately commission an investigation into the allegations.'

Zimbabwe: ZANU PF elections widens split in the party

2012-04-23, Issue 581

The bitter split between two warring ZANU PF factions has widened following the hotly disputed District Coordinating Committee (DCC) elections in most of the country’s provinces. The elections, that have seen many candidates linked to Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa romp to victory, have however been marred by reports of violence, intimidation and vote-rigging. Signs of growing structural fissures in the ¬former ruling party have emerged with key members belonging to Vice-President Joice Mujuru’s camp openly disputing election results from the restructuring exercise.

South Africa: Activists push SA to try Zimbabwe rights crimes

2012-03-27, Issue 579

Rights activists have begun a legal bid to compel South Africa to investigate and prosecute citizens of neighbouring Zimbabwe suspected of crimes against humanity. The activists argue that South Africa is failing to meet its obligations in international law. A court ruling in their favour would cause a headache for South Africa, which could see its courts clogged with prosecutions and its diplomacy with the power-sharing government in Harare hobbled.

Zimbabwe: Activists’ term is suspended

2012-03-22, Issue 578

A Zimbabwean magistrates’ court has given six activists accused of plotting to oust President Robert Mugabe a two year suspended sentence and fined them $500 each. The six who include a university lecturer and former Member of Parliament Munyaradzi Gwisai were on Monday found guilty of a conspiracy to incite violence by a Harare magistrate.

Zimbabwe: Prosecution case against MFL leaders ‘shaky’

2012-03-26, Issue 578

The prosecution case against three Mthwakazi Liberation Front (MFL) leaders who are facing treason charges is shaky, their lawyer has said. Defence lawyer Sabelo Sibanda said the prosecution team has failed to produce evidence to prove that MFL leaders Charles Thomas, John Gazi and Paul Siwela, distributed flyers calling for the separation of Matebeleland and other parts from the rest of Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe: Mugabe party escalates mediation spat with Zuma

2012-03-14, Issue 576

A Zimbabwean government-run newspaper has accused an expert attached to a parliamentary committee heading the country’s controversial constitution making of spying for South African President Jacob Zuma. The allegations followed a week of heated exchanges between Pretoria and Harare over the timing of Zimbabwe’s next elections. President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party last week accused South Africa of gross interference after its Foreign Affairs minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane insisted her government needed to see full reforms before elections are held.

Zimbabwe: Activists sue over torture

2012-03-15, Issue 576

Former law lecturer and socialist party leader Munyaradzi Gwisai, and five other activists arrested for watching videos of the Egyptian uprisings last year, have filed a $300,000 law suit against the police and both Home Affairs co-Ministers. A total of 46 activists were arrested when police raided Gwisai’s home, where the activists were watching videos of the uprisings in Egypt and North Africa. They were charged with plotting to destabilize the government. The majority were released, but six who remained in custody say they were tortured.

Zimbabwe: Full compensation ‘unlikely’ after Implats indigenisation deal

2012-03-15, Issue 576

An international mining analysis group has warned that platinum mining giant Implats will be unlikely to receive full compensation for its shares, which the group has agreed to hand over as part of Zimbabwe’s indigenisation laws. Implats, which owns the Zimplats mining firm in Zimbabwe and is the country’s largest single foreign investor, has conceded to the ZANU PF led indigenisation campaign, agreeing to a 51 per cent share handover.

South Africa: Bid to force South Africa to follow rights treaty

2012-03-07, Issue 574

The North Gauteng High Court is to hear an application to compel SA to abide by its legal obligations to investigate and prosecute high-level Zimbabwean officials accused of crimes against humanity. The case, which has been set down for hearing from March 26-30, is the first of its kind in SA. The court would have the opportunity to provide guidance on the scope and nature of the obligations placed on SA by signing up to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

Zimbabwe: Leave Zimbabwe alone, Mugabe party tells SA

2012-03-07, Issue 574

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF party has accused South Africa of gross interference in the country’s internal affairs. This comes after President Jacob Zuma’s government insisted that its troubled neighbour must institute serious reforms before holding fresh elections. South Africa’s Foreign Affairs minister, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, told her country’s parliament on Monday that 'our government expects that there would be no deviation from the provisions' of Zimbabwe’s power-sharing agreement. A member of Zanu PF’s top decision-making body, the politburo, Jonathan Moyo, said Nkoana-Mashabane had no mandate to comment on political developments in Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe: Human rights activist goes missing

2012-02-28, Issue 572

A Facebook and Twitter campaign has been started to find Zimbabwean human rights activist Paul Chizuze who went missing on 8 February. According to a press release sent out by his colleagues and friends which has been posted on Facebook: 'Over the last three decades, Paul has been either employed by, or active with, the Legal Resources Foundation, Amani Trust Matabeleland, The Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace, ZimRights, Churches in Bulawayo, CivNet, and Masakhaneni Trust. Paul has worked tirelessly as a paralegal to track activists in jail and offer them support.'

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