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NEWS FROM ZIMBABWE

Ben Freeth’s Column

Executive Director

In this latest column I have summarised the legal steps that we have taken from 2005 to 2020 to bring back legality and achieve compensation/restitution for the resolution of the land issue and the rebuilding of Zimbabwe and its crucial agricultural sector on sound legal ground. 

With respect to the Global Compensation Deed (GCD), which was signed by two farming organizations with the government, and which remains a very contentious issue, there are currently two roads for dispossessed farmers: 

 

  1. One is to go with the GCD and hope that some money is found, that laws are changed, that the Zimbabwe Government is honourable and that there are not too many leakages on the way.

  2. The second is to hang onto your title deeds and join us on the legal road that continues to open up and which will continue to bring significant pressure through legislation such as the US’s Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (ZDERA), on those stopping you from re-establishing your fundamental legal rights to your inheritance and your life’s work.  

OUR WORK

THE SADC TRIBUNAL CAMPBELL CASE

Mike Campbell (Pvt) Ltd et al. v. Republic of Zimbabwe is a landmark test case decided by the SADC Tribunal. It held that the government violated the SADC treaty by denying court access and engaging in racial discrimination in the confiscation of land.

SADC

TRIBUNAL

TIMELINE 

The SADC Tribunal was set up as a regional court to hear disputes between SADC member states and between individuals and states. The Tribunal was a court of last resort for those who had been denied access to justice in their own countries.

COURT CASE: 

COMPENSATION CLAIM 

The Mike Campbell Foundation has initiated a court case which involves a group of dispossessed Zimbabwean farmers taking former South African President Zuma and the SA government to court for participating in the closure of the SADC Tribunal regional court.

COURT CASES JUSTICE & LEGAL ACCOUNTABILITY

The MCF took the courageous decision to use the law to focus on justice and legal accountability and to establish a workable legal foundation for property rights in Zimbabwe in the future. This has included a number of ground-breaking court cases

CONSERVATION  AGRICULTURE TRAINING

We provide practical conservation agriculture training to an average of 144 destitute farm workers and others in their communities each year, teaching them how to feed their families on just 1/16th of a hectare using our free open-pollinated seed.

CONSERVATION AGRICULTURE FIELD DAY

The objective of our latest, well-attended conservation agriculture field day was to showcase our conservation agriculture activities and achievements – despite the ongoing drought conditions - in Harare and the Chegutu district of Zimbabwe. 

OPEN-POLLINATED SEED PROJECT

Our open-pollinated seed project provides free high quality seed that can be replanted each year to destitute farm workers and other needy people in Zimbabwe. In 2017, we distributed more than 4,500 seed packs followed by 8,000 in 2018.

SCHOOL FEES PROJECT

In 2018, we paid school fees for 262 children of destitute farm workers and pastors, as well as tertiary fees for two students. For the first two terms of 2019, we paid school fees for 256 children and two tertiary students.

FOOD CRISIS SOLUTION

Faced with yet another food crisis and economic collapse due to the demise of agriculture, the solution is simple – and this is what the MCF is working towards: Title deeds must be allocated for all agricultural land and title to the commercial farmland must be restored.

FEATURED ARTICLES

Zim informal/shadow economy: study

In a recent study carried out by economists working for the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Johannes Kepler University of Linz, the phrase “Shadow Economy” is used to describe the extent of informal activities in 158 countries. To assess their importance, estimates were made of the contributions made to each separate country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Regionally, the lowest is an average of 16,77% for East Asian countries, and the highest average is 35% for Sub-Saharan African countries. At 65.1%, Zimbabwe’s figure is the highest in Africa and highest of all the 158 countries included in the study.

Music legend appeals for international intervention

US-based Zimbabwean music legend Thomas Mapfumo has written a stinging letter to the US Congressional Black Caucus, African Union, Amnesty International, US State Department, European Union, United Nations, the Southern African Development Community (SADC), Black Lives Matter, and the African National Congress (ANC) in South Africa appealing for intervention in the Zimbabwean crisis. The outspoken singer also warned President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government to “reform or it will perish in big-headed arrogance.” Following his election, the economy and the political environment started deteriorating.

No teachers, lesson notes or books

In Cathy Buckle’s latest newsletter from Zimbabwe, she writes that “the faces of the children give life to the story I’ve been hearing from people desperate after a year without education for their children. One Dad from a rural area told me that his nine-year-old son had been in school for six weeks and three days in the whole of 2020 and not for a single day yet this year. Desperate to educate his boy they went to the rural school where the child is enrolled but the Headmaster sent them away: there were no provisions for COVID protection, no piped water and there were no teachers. The school had no lesson notes or books.

Zimbabwean becomes a successful US pilot

This is the remarkable story of a Zimbabwean, Felix Chiota, who grew up in a humble home in Harare and whose dream of becoming a pilot was realised with a great deal of courage and dedication. Today, he is the proud owner of Chiota Aviation, a flight school based in Waco, a city in central Texas in the United States, and employs six flight instructors on both full-time and part-time basis. Chiota is not just a commercial pilot, he is also a captain at NetJets, the world’s largest private jet charter company, which owns and operates a fleet of about 700 private jets.

Advocate Fadzayi Mahere inspires hope

In the struggles of 2021 all over the world, the Mike Campbell Foundation’s executive director, Ben Freeth,  shares the story of a friend and very brave young lawyer in Zimbabwe, Fadzayi Mahere. “I have known Fadzayi for the last decade and more, when she took her first tentative steps as a lawyer defending human rights in the dark world of the Zimbabwe justice system,” writes Ben. “I visited her when she went on and worked at the International Criminal Court in The Hague - but then came home to Zimbabwe to face the horrors of being at the receiving end of the abuse herself.  Please take a moment to read this….”  

Lack of property rights scaring away private sector

The Zimbabwean government should commit itself to a comprehensive relook of policies around agriculture financing and value chain if it is serious about achieving inclusive private sector-led growth in the sector, writes African News. Agricultural policies are scaring away the private sector. For years, the country has struggled to produce its own food such as maize, soyabean and wheat to name but a few, and has resorted to imports running into millions of dollars annually. For the 11 months to November 2020, the country imported maize worth (US$284 million), crude soyabean (US$115 million) and wheat US$89 million. 

UK investors shun Zim over property rights

UK Minister for Africa James Duddridge warns that investors from the United Kingdom are shunning Zimbabwe mainly because of concerns over property rights and a compromised judiciary. He writes: “UK investors repeatedly tell us that three things prevent them from investing in Zimbabwe: concerns about the poorly managed currency, concerns about the arbitrary property rights, and concerns about the legal system.” He says far-reaching political and economic reforms are needed for Harare to attract overseas capital. His comments have been published on the ZimLive website and in News24 South Africa.

Notorious Maj-Gen Douglas Nyikayaramba, dies of Covid-19

Zimbabwe’s ambassador to Mozambique, retired Maj-Gen Douglas Nyikayaramba, has died of Covid-19. He is the fourth military general leading the 2017 de facto coup against Mugabe to succumb to the virus. When he was promoted by Mugabe to Major-General in 2011, he had already been implicated in rhino poaching, partisan food distribution, election rigging, strategising election violence and even the murder of an army captain. In June 2008 Nyikayaramba was one of the over 200 senior army officers deployed around the country to co-ordinate the brutal ‘Operation Mavhotera Papi’ (where did you vote?).

Cartels cost Zimbabwe billions

An exclusive report detailing the rot that killed the Zimbabwean dream of freedom and independence identifies President Emmerson Mnangagwa as one of the cartel bosses. The 64-page report which details the scale of the theft among others illicit cross-border financial transactions, has been published in South Africa by the Daily Maverick. Titled “A Study of Cartel Dynamics”, it notes that underhand dealings cost Zimbabwe up to a staggering US$3-billion a year and billions in gold and diamonds smuggled out of the country. The report focuses on business cartels because these are the vehicles used for state capture.

Mnangagwa: Empty promises and lies

It has been three years and two months since Emmerson Mnangagwa took over from Robert Mugabe [as President following the November 2017 de facto coup], writes Thandekile Moyo in South Africa’s Daily Maverick of 9 February 2021]. “It has been a horrible time for Zimbabweans. Promised jobs have not materialised, the economy has collapsed and hundreds of citizens are in prison, in exile or in hiding. Not only did the jobs he promised not materialise, the economy has collapsed and hundreds of Zimbabweans are either in prison, in exile or in hiding…. everything Mnangagwa said during and after his exile was a blatant lie….”

UK sanctions four Zim officials

The UK has announced the first set of designations of individuals under its Zimbabwe sanctions regime for human rights violations. The new targeted sanctions, which include a travel ban and asset freeze on four officials, are to hold to account those responsible for the worst human rights violations since November 2017: Owen Ncube, Minister for State Security; Isaac Moyo, Director General of the Central Intelligence Organisation; Godwin Matanga, Commissioner General of the Police; and Anselem Sanyatwe, former Brigadier General, Commander of the Presidential Guard and Tactical Commander of the National Reaction Force.

UK sanctions on 4 Zim security chiefs

The UK has announced a travel ban and asset freeze on four Zimbabwean officials: Owen Ncube, Minister for State Security; Isaac Moyo, Director General of the Central Intelligence Organisation; Godwin Matanga, Commissioner General of the Zimbabwe Republic Police; and Anselem Sanyatwe, former Brigadier General, Commander of the Presidential Guard and Tactical Commander of the National Reaction Force. They cannot now freely travel to the UK or channel money through UK banks. These restrictive measures are not targeted at, nor intended to impact, the wider economy and the people of Zimbabwe.

Chin’ono released on bail

Zimbabwean journalist Hopewell Chin’ono was granted bail yesterday (27 January 2021) after spending three weeks in prison. The award-winning journalist and filmmaker was arrested on charges of “publishing or communicating falsehoods”. During an interview, Chin’ono said a state-owned newspaper had confirmed the country was losing US$100 million worth of gold every month through smuggling - US$1.2 billion a year. He also discussed high-level Covid corruption worth US$60 million. Tune into NewZroom Afrika, DSTV channel 405 to watch the 19 minute interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PXHBsEUZ3GM

Sternford Moyo new IBA President

Zimbabwean lawyer Sternford Moyo has been elected as President of the International Bar Association (IBA). Moyo, who is one of the senior members of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, is the Chairman and Senior Partner at Scanlen and Holderness Legal Practitioners. He is the first IBA President of African descent in the history of the 74 year-old organization. Established in 1947, IBA is the world’s leading organisation of international legal practitioners, bar associations and law societies and its membership includes over 80 000 lawyers and 190 bar associations and law societies spanning more than 170 countries. 

Foreign minister Sibusiso Moyo dies

Zimbabwe’s minister of foreign affairs and international trade, Sibusiso Moyo, has died. Moyo, 58, became famous as the face of the military coup that ended former President Robert Mugabe’s nearly-four decade rule in 2017. He was at the time a major general in the Zimbabwean armed forces. The cause of his death on Wednesday 20 January was complications related to Covid-19. Moyo became the fourth high-ranking official in Zimbabwe to succumb to the virus. After the election of Mnangagwa in 2018, Mr. Moyo retired as a lieutenant general and joined Mnangagwa’s cabinet alongside other military leaders.

US/EU demand justice for Jan 2019 victims

The European Union  and the United States have both expressed concern over the Zimbabwean government’s failure to probe the disproportionate use of force by security personnel against civilians in January 2019 during the fuel price hike stayaway. In a Twitter statement, the EU in Zimbabwe demanded an end to impunity and the prosecution of human rights violators. The U.S. Embassy in Harare queried why Zimbabwe has not yet prosecuted and convicted the security forces accused of rape, torture, and killing civilians in January 2019. It added that “two years is too long to seek justice/answers/accountability.”

Covid-19 second wave ravages southern Africa

Over the past few weeks, authorities in southern Africa have systematically reintroduced lockdown measures amid the second wave of Covid-19. This is after a worrying resurgence of cases in several countries including Zimbabwe, Zambia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, eSwatini (Swaziland), Malawi, Namibia and South Africa. Infections and deaths have skyrocketed in a region where authorities thought they had escaped lightly from the world’s worst outbreaks. Worryingly, the numbers of infections and fatalities seem to be worse than the first wave. This comes as no surprise, writes South Africa’s Daily Maverick.

South Africa’s ruling ANC party is fed up with ZANU PF

The relationship between Zimbabwe’s ruling Zanu PF party and its sister liberation movement — South Africa’s African National Congress (ANC)— is on a cliffhanger after SA revealed that it had had enough of the Harare regime’s antics characterised by “threats and blackmail”. “You can’t have a neighbour that is always blackmailing you,” ANC national chairman Gwede Mantashe tweeted following threats by Zanu PF director of information Tafadzwa Mugwadi to ‘expose’ ANC’s alleged sinister agenda which necessitated its two visits to Harare last year. This is indeed a change from SA’s traditional support for the regime.

Author Tsitsi Dangarembga to receive PEN Award

The PEN Award for Freedom of Expression will honour renowned Zimbabwean author Tsitsi Dangarembga for her work in fighting for freedom of expression.  With the active participation of Netherlands PEN and the PEN Emergency Fund, the award honours writers who have been persecuted for their work but continue with it. In her book, This Mournable Body, which is longlisted for the Booker prize, Dangarembga depicts post-independence Zimbabwe in a narrative of gathering darkness, a wretched comparison with the hope she felt 40 years ago after returning from studying medicine at Cambridge.

Beitbridge Border Crisis Crime Against Humanity

Opposition ActionSA leader Herman Mashaba has called on South Africa to help fix Zimbabwe’s economic and political crisis as cure to the continued influx of Zimbabweans into his country. He was commenting on the Beitbridge border crisis in which thousands of Zimbabweans stranded at the border were forced to sleep in the open while trying to cross into SA. I fully appreciate the reasons for Zimbabweans fleeing their country after the destruction caused by Zanu PF and enabled by the ANC. We must fix this problem by ensuring free and fair elections in Zimbabwe and putting an end to human rights abuses…” he said.”

Journalist Hopewell Chin’ono jailed again

High profile freelance journalist Hopewell Chin’ono, who has been targeted relentlessly by the Mnangagwa government, was arrested for the third time on Friday 8 January 2021 for alleging that a baby had been had been killed by a police officer after law enforcement agents indiscriminately assaulted the mother of the child in Harare while the baby was on her back. It seems that despite court orders and wide international condemnation of the attacks on freedom of media and expression, the Zimbabwean government is intent on silencing journalists. The police also arrested opposition legislator Job Sikhala.

The MCF’s Christmas Newsletter

In the MCF’s Christmas newsletter, we report that there is great relief across Zimbabwe because good rains have been falling and water levels in our dams are rising steadily, with more rain predicted countrywide. The condition of pastures and livestock has improved considerably across most of the country and the bush is slowly coming back to life with a myriad of insects, birds and delicate wetland flowers. Our long awaited and very critical farm compensation case: Luke Tembani and 24 others v the President of South Africa and others, was finally heard in Pretoria on 5 November and went very well. 

Millions go hungry in Zimbabwe

What began with Ms Murozoki, 35, making supper for a few extra mouths in her suburb of Harare a few months ago quickly snowballed into a twice-daily feeding scheme on which 3,000 now rely. Years of economic bungling and corruption, compounded by drought and the coronavirus pandemic, have left half of Zimbabwe’s 15 million population condemned to hunger. According to new research from Zimvac, a committee of government and humanitarian experts, a third of children in Africa’s one-time breadbasket now suffer from chronic malnutrition. Rates of stunting, and maternal and child mortality, have soared.

Over 10 000 teachers resigned in 2020

THE Progressive Teachers Union in Zimbabwe (PTUZ) yesterday claimed that more than 10 000 teachers around the country resigned from the profession in the months of September to December 2020. PTUZ president Takavafira Zhou in a statement said that the number of resignations was expected to double by January 2021. Currently, Zimbabwe has around 136 000 teachers and around 4,6 million learners. Zhou said the mass exodus of teachers was due to government’s failure to address their salary issues after they demanded to be paid US$520 per month or the equivalent.

Children pan for gold to pay school fees

In Zimbabwe, with the public education system collapsing and the Covid-19 pandemic destroying parents’ economic opportunities, children spend whole days in rivers, panning for elusive gold or trying to fish. They do this because they barely have anything to eat at home - many parents struggle to find enough food for just one meal a day. Dressed in tattered, muddy clothing, children carry buckets full of river sand and sift from it any precious grits of gold. This is not only dangerous but destructive work because it destroys the river systems and causes rampant siltation which results in flooding downstream and siltation of dams.

Tusk Wildlife Ranger Award goes to Zim

Meet the conservation hero who is helping to save Zimbabwe’s wildlife:  Amos Gwema, principle intelligence officer at ZimParks, is the winner of this year’s Tusk Wildlife Ranger Award, sponsored by the Nick Maughan Foundation. During the past 12 years, Mr Gwema has intercepted poachers stashing ivory in a guest house, arrested a teacher selling tusks in exchange for cooking oil, and confiscated cyanide from gangs plotting mass poisonings. Since 2013, he’s orchestrated 135 arrests, each sentenced to a minimum term of nine years. “This work is not for the faint-hearted,” he told the Telegraph (UK) in this interview.

Gonarezhou – the Movie: trailer

Gonarezhou -The Movie is a fictional film to raise awareness of deadly poaching and the human-wildlife conflict. Written and directed by Sydney Taivavashe, the film has been produced in conjunction with the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management. It is set in the magnificent Gonarezhou National Park which covers more than 5 000 km² of spectacular scenery incorporating the iconic Chilojo Cliffs. Widely known for its unique wilderness character, the Park is a premier destination for quality wildlife sightings. Home to about 11 000 elephants, the Gonarezhou truly deserves its vernacular name as ‘Place of Elephants’.

BIPPA and indigenous farmers land back offer 

The government has announced that it will offer land back to two categories of farmers who were dispossessed under land reform. NewZWire details the facts regarding the announcement and regulations around compensation for these two categories: “indigenous” farmers  and BIPPA-protected farmers. The GOZ claims it’s doing this because it suddenly respects the rule of law, property rights and the Constitution. The law demands that compensation be paid for BIPPA farms and farms owned by blacks. However, the GOZ is likely more worried by the financial bill of not compensating foreign-protected farmers. 

RBZ has siphoned billions from economy

This is a report compiled by Southern African Resource Watch of how the Zimbabwe Reserve Bank siphoned billions from the economy through the exploitation of artisanal and small-scale miners. The report shows how the ruling elite in cahoots with the Reserve Bank and security establishment have been sucked into illicit gold trade practices robbing artisanal miners of billions of dollars of hard-earned gold, leaving them in poverty. This State-staged robbery is undermining attempts to formalize the artisanal and small-scale gold mining sector. State institutions in Zimbabwe have been used to serve private interests.

Turmoil in Zimbabwe’s gold mining sector

Violence has spiked in Zimbabwe’s gold mining sector, costing hundreds of people their lives and triggering a police operation that led to the arrest of thousands. Media and government blame artisanal miners, who dig using little mechanisation and often without licences but are the country’s main gold producers. Yet the bloodshed is better seen as a symptom of Zimbabwe’s flawed centralised gold buying scheme, patronage-based economy and obsolete legal and regulatory system, writes the International Crisis Group in their latest report: “All that glitters is not gold: Turmoil in Zimbabwe’s mining sector.”

Plan to criminalise ecosystem destruction

International lawyers are drafting plans for a legally enforceable crime of ecocide – criminalising destruction of the world’s ecosystems – that is already attracting support from European countries and island nations at risk from rising sea levels. The panel coordinating the initiative is chaired by Prof Philippe Sands QC, of University College London, and Florence Mumba, a former judge at the International Criminal Court (ICC). The aim is to draw up a legal definition of “ecocide” that would complement other existing international offences such as crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide.

Property rights, prosperity and democracy

In Zimbabwean economist Eddie Cross’s latest opinion piece on property rights, prosperity and democracy, he writes that democracy is made up of people, the majority of whom own property and live independent lives where they can hold an opinion that might or might not resonate with their neighbours.  In feudal states and in all dictatorships, the ownership of property is almost always limited to those in power, who can then control the views and even activities of those who depend on them for shelter and sustenance. In such societies, democracy in any form is not only alien but unwanted, even impossible. 

Journalists under siege and traumatised

Journalist Rumbidzai  Chizarura, who was severely attacked by suspected State agents while covering  a Zimbabwe National Students’ Union (Zinasu) press conference on Impala Car Rental’s involvement in the abduction of university student Tawanda Muchehiwa, has been suffering from severe trauma, depression and physical pain. She has told The NewsHawks that she is in danger as some people have trailing and watching her since the incident occurred on 18 September. Chizarura has been having neck problems, migraine headaches, poor eyesight and a loose jawbone. Journalists continue to be under siege in Zimbabwe.

RBZ forex auction a charade

Former Finance Minister and legislator Tendai Biti, who was appointed finance minister in the coalition government from 2009-2013, has dismissed the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) foreign currency auction system as a charade that is set implode once all economic fundamentals begin to kick in. “There has been a claim by this regime that the Dutch auction system has worked and has stabilised the prices… [but] the Dutch auction system is not an auction system. An auction system is a free market, with free entry on both on supply side and on demand side, but only the RBZ has been supplying foreign currency.

Farmers leasing from beneficiaries

MDC-Alliance co-vice president Tendai Biti says a growing number of white commercial farmers are quietly returning back to their farms and leasing the land from non-productive black beneficiaries who have failed to utilise it. He added the development was a joke and a negation of Zimbabwe’s much-touted land reform programme, which has been marred by lack of competence among the resettled farmers, land disputes, illegal occupation and lack of resources. Biti went on to call for an urgent land audit to flush out unproductive farmers while also demanding that landowners should be issued with offer letters.

New TV licences awarded, here’s the catch!

The Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe has at last awarded television licences to six companies. This is the first time that the country has licensed commercial television stations, reports MISA-Z, the Media Institute of Southern Africa – Zimbabwean chapter. This licensing process effectively ends the ZBC’s 40-year-old monopoly as the only television station. However, the new TV licence holders either already hold print or broadcasting licences or are linked to the government or the governing party. And one of the licences has been granted to Rusununguko Media Pvt Ltd, which is owned by the Ministry of Defence.

Further hunger feared: restore property rights

Zimbabwe will suffer further food insecurity as long as property rights remain elusive and the landmark SADC Tribunal judgment in the Campbell case is treated with contempt by the Zimbabwe Government and the Global Compensation Deed, warns Ben Freeth, spokesperson for SADC Tribunal Rights Watch. The warning came as the organisation held a property rights update meeting with farm title holders in Bulawayo. 
He said the signing of the Global Compensation Deed brought bring into sharp focus the fundamental reason as to why Zimbabwe was food insecure, lacking in agricultural production and financially bankrupt.

Zim farmers hearing in Pretoria High Court

Former Zimbabwean farmers who lost their farms have asked the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria to give them the go-ahead to claim compensation against the South African government. The farmers intend to cumulatively claim about R2 billion after SA’s then-president Jacob Zuma signed a SADC resolution in 2014 that removed its tribunal’s powers over member states. This came in the wake of Zimbabwe’s land dispute, and after the farmers had turned to the tribunal to be compensated for losing their farms. The then Law Society of South Africa earlier challenged the role Zuma and the government played in the closure. 

Zimbabwean teaches organic farming in SA

A Zimbabwean man with organic farming skills has taught a group of homeless men in South Africa to transform a plot of land behind Durban’s iconic Elangeni Hotel into a “booming” organic farm in just a few months. It all began at the start of Covid-19 lockdown when some men at the municipality’s homeless shelter were a little bored. Now people are buying fresh organic vegetables straight of the ground! Journalist Sue Derwent commends their achievements with no chemical sprays, a couple of spades and “the assistance of the most delightfully unassuming homeless guy who just happens to have an agricultural diploma.”

Journalist Hopewell Chin’ono rearrested

Two months after his release on bail, Hopewell Chin’ono, a high profile award-winning journalist and filmmaker, and a prominent critic of President Emmerson Mnangagwa, was rearrested on 3 November, causing protestation from media rights groups. Chin’ono was released on bail in September after spending close to two months in remand prison in appalling conditions on charges of inciting Zimbabweans to revolt against Mnangagwa. The Media Institute of Southern Africa says Chin’ono is being targeted by the authorities for exposing corruption at the highest level in the acquisition Covid-19 medical supplies.

Land rights are central to ending poverty

Strengthening land rights is central to ending extreme poverty and promoting resilient societies, confirms USAID. Clear, secure land rights create incentives that enhance food security, economic growth, and sustainable development. Understanding, clarifying and enforcing land rights has a powerful impact on all member of society, especially women. In Uganda, plots without risk of eviction had 63% higher productivity. The global impact of USAID’s land tenure programs since 2013 has been very extensive, resulting in more than 182 million people benefitting from laws/policies adopted that strengthen land rights.

Farm title deed owners’ meeting

A meeting of farm title deed owners was held on 14 October 2020 in Bulawayo to update them on legal issues relating to property rights, or the lack of them, in Zimbabwe. What the signing of the Global Compensation Deed has done is bring into sharp focus the fundamental reason as to why Zimbabwe is so food insecure, so lacking in agricultural production, and so financially bankrupt. As long as property rights remain elusive and the SADC Judgment in the Campbell case is treated with contempt by the Government and the Global Compensation Deed, the dire situation that Zimbabweans face will continue to persist.

Army will crush anti-govt protests

Members of the Zimbabwe National Army are not trained to ruthlessly crush any public protests whether peaceful or not, deputy defence minister Victor Matemadanda has warned. The senior government official who also doubles as Zanu PF national political commissar said the army and other state security agencies will descend heavily on protestors scheduled to take to the streets in January 2021 over the country’s worsening socio-economic and political crisis, and grand corruption allegedly perpetrated by President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s acolytes. I urge you to run home when you see them coming,” he said.

Coltart: Govt not capable of reform

In an in-depth interview with human rights lawyer and former senator, David Coltart, Zimbabwe’s new investigative and breaking news platform, NewsHawks, asks if he thinks that President Mnangagwa’s government is capable of reforming. Coltart says he does not believe that this is possible. He says that “they have spoken about reform, but it’s clear that that’s been a tactic to pull the wool over the eyes of the international community. They had every opportunity and so much goodwill was extended to Mnangagwa in the beginning… but they have just become even more corrupt … and are taking the country down.”

ZDF’s preparations for the 2017 military coup

Investigations by The NewsHawks into Zimbabwe’s de facto coup in November 2017 show that the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, then led by General Constantino Chiwenga, who is now vice-president and Health minister, bought and refurbished military hardware behind President Mugabe’s back to execute their mission. Documents show that as part of the coup preparations, the Ministry of Defence signed a US$20 million deal with a South Africa military contractor, Boomslang Logistics (Pty) Ltd, to refurbish their dilapidated armoured personnel carriers that were to be later rolled out onto the streets to push out Mugabe.

Govt intensifies opposition activists surveillance

Zimbabwe’s state intelligence services have intensified surveillance on opposition leaders, civil society activists and Western embassies in a well-calculated strategy to advance the hard-sell narrative that Western countries are fomenting dissent and instability in the country, sources say. Cabinet this week approved a law that will make it illegal for citizens to meet foreign embassy officials without government approval. The move—which brazenly infringes on entrenched constitutional rights—will create a new Orwellian environment in Zimbabwe where secret and thought police seek to suppress democratic rights.

Gold and riches being pillaged

Judges in Zimbabwe have written a letter to President Emmerson Mnangagwa in which they accuse Chief Justice Luke Malaba of capture of the judiciary, promoting senior personnel without interviews, and demanding that all Supreme Court rulings pass through his office. The judges pointed out that “It is an open secret that right across the judicial structures, the Chief Justice now rules without fetter. Where magistrates used to be subject to administrative supervision by their superiors, the Chief Justice now routinely interferes with magistrates and their decisions through the Chief Magistrates’ office.

Judges accuse Chief Justice of capture of judiciary

Judges in Zimbabwe have written a letter to President Emmerson Mnangagwa in which they accuse Chief Justice Luke Malaba of capture of the judiciary, promoting senior personnel without interviews, and demanding that all Supreme Court rulings pass through his office. The judges pointed out that “It is an open secret that right across the judicial structures, the Chief Justice now rules without fetter. Where magistrates used to be subject to administrative supervision by their superiors, the Chief Justice now routinely interferes with magistrates and their decisions through the Chief Magistrates’ office.

Increase targeted sanctions: poll

Seventy-four percent of ZimLive readers would like to see tougher targeted sanctions on President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s regime, according to an online poll. Over 6,000 people voted in the poll, timed to gauge the national mood ahead of Sunday’s “anti-sanctions day” declared by President Mnangagwa. Mnangagwa claims that Western sanctions “have been devastating in every sector of our economy” – but this is denied by the EU, the US, Britain, Australia and Canada which all say they have only imposed targeted measures against individual perpetrators of human rights abuses and also imposed an arms embargo.

How Zim’s missing US$7bn could have been spent

The United States has reiterated that Zimbabwe is in a sorry state because of corruption and not sanctions, as claimed by President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s ruling ZANU PF government. The US Embassy in Harare cited Zimbabwe’s Speaker of Parliament, Advocate Jacob Mudenda, who recently claimed that the country had lost about US$7 billion through underhand dealings. The Embassy said the missing money could have paid workers for the next ten years, gone a long way in reviving the economy and refurbishing infrastructure in the country, as well as paying nurses and doctors. Watch the video for more information.

Property rights update meeting with farm title holders

A meeting of farm title deed owners was held in Bulawayo to update them on legal issues relating to the property rights crisis in Zimbabwe. The state-owned Herald published an article concerning the meeting, part of which read: “The new dispensation [the Mnangagwa government] has put the land reform programme to bed by honouring the new (2013) constitution.” This is the crux of the issue: Section 72 is an exact reconstruct of Amendment 17 of 2005 from the old constitution, which was struck down in the Campbell case judgment by the regional court, the SADC Tribunal in 2008. Photo credit: Craig Richardson

Zimbabwe in league of most oppressive regimes

Zimbabwe Peace Project’s September report warns that Zimbabwe has joined the dark list of the world’s most repressive regimes, where citizens are nothing but subjects, in contrast to the tenets of democracy. The government continues to use Covid-19 as an excuse to stifle rights and freedoms guaranteed by the supreme law, and as evidenced by the nature of the human rights abuses, the violations went another notch up and were, more than ever before, systematic and methodical. No more attempts to present a false face of democracy! The instruments of repression remain well-oiled, vigilant and ready to strike.

US conditions for assisting Zim

USA ambassador to Zimbabwe Brian Nichols said Washington remained ready to assist Zimbabwe - provided Mnangagwa adheres to the promises he made in 2017. The Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Amendment Act (ZDERA) of 2018 outlines the steps Zimbabwe needs to take to gain the support of US government for new lending through international financial institutions. The key conditions the US requires Zimbabwe to satisfy are: the restoration of the rule of law, free and fair elections, equitable, legal and transparent land reform … military and national police subordinate to a civilian-led government.

Chin’ono jailed for exposing corruption

In our series of letters from African journalists, Zimbabwe’s Hopewell Chin’ono explains how he came face-to-face with the consequences of an alleged corruption scandal he helped highlight earlier this year.


I had been expecting trouble – so when eight men, some with AK-47s, arrived at my gate in an unmarked vehicle on the morning of 20 July, I was not surprised.

 

Successful land reform requires ownership

Land reform will only be successful if it changes patterns of land ownership. “The key word in [this] quote is ‘own’”, writes the Democratic Alliance party’s interim leader, John Steenhuizen. He notes that his party has consistently called on the South African government to release unused or underused state land for land reform. Although there is a stated option for lease beneficiaries to buy the land, government has in fact displayed a marked reluctance in the past to transfer ownership,” he says.  “Successful land reform ….promotes economic prosperity and food security.” 

Striking teachers’ pathetic salaries

A Zimbabwean lawyer, Doug Coltart, has claimed that it would take 542 years for teachers to earn money equivalent to what was looted by President Mnangagwa’s controversial spokesperson, George Charamba, who was also spokesperson for the late Robert Mugabe. Coltart who is the son of the former Minister of Primary and Secondary Education during the Government of National Unity, David Coltart, was basing his argument on a 2015 article by Zimbabwe Independent which claimed that Charamba pocketed US$228,000 from medical aid society PSMAS between 2009 and 2013 in board fees and allowances.

High Court orders release of MP Joanna Mamombe

In a surprising turn of events, High Court Judge Justice Esther Muremba on 7 October ordered the release from prison of Harare West constituency legislator Hon. Joanah Mamombe, where she had been incarcerated for close to two weeks on the orders of Magistrate Bianca Makwande. This was in response to an application for review and an urgent chamber application at the High Court filed by Mamombe’s lawyers on 25 September seeking a review of Magistrate Makwande’s decision to imprison Mamomb. They argued that her detention was unlawful and infringed her right to liberty provided in the Constitution.

Torture of MP Joanna Mamombe

Tony Reeler, a leading psychologist in Zimbabwe with more than 40 years’ clinical experience, including 30 years of working with the victims of organised violence and torture, reports on the secondary torture of the country’s youngest MP, Joanna Mamombe (27), in a moving article in the Daily Maverick titled “Who breaks a butterfly upon a wheel?” He notes that “abductees find themselves not only victims of terrible abuse, but charged themselves for offences (holding an illegal protest during Covid-19) … and, worse than this, charged with making false accusations about their abduction, torture and sexual assault.

Newsletter: Ben Freeth’s update on court cases and the crackdown

en Freeth reports from the Magistrate’s Court in Harare which he describes as the nerve centre for the labyrinth of darkness that has enveloped and overwhelmed Zimbabwe.  One of the accused is Joanna Mamombe, the youngest opposition MP who was abducted, severely tortured and is now deeply traumatised. She is accused of faking her own abduction. Ben describes driving through more than 60 road blocks manned by army and police bristling with guns. “Each rural town and community is now controlled by the army. Each police camp has perhaps 60 soldiers living in tents. The soldiers are very much in charge.”

Newsletter: Ben Freeth reports on crackdown

Ben Freeth arrived back in Zimbabwe six months after getting locked down in the UK and was immediately plunged into a time of crackdown - and curfew. He went directly to meet up with the award-winning international journalist, Hopewell Chin’ono, and to show him some solidarity in the Magistrate’s Court after 45 days in the most unimaginable jail conditions. He also met with Tsitsi Dangarembga, an acclaimed novelist and on the Booker prize long-list this year, who had just been in prison for demonstrating peacefully. He also spent time with Advocate Fadzayi Mahere, the main opposition MDC-Alliance spokesperson.

AfriForum registers with UN

The civil rights organisation AfriForum, which has assisted the Mike Campbell Foundation with a number of court cases, has just received confirmation that this South African organisation is now officially registered with the United Nations (UN) as a non-governmental organisation with special consultative status. This status offers AfriForum various opportunities and privileges to continue its work on a much larger scale in the UN’s conference rooms. The breakthrough was made despite the South African government working actively for many years to deprive AfriForum of these opportunities.

Mnangagwa’s vision: a totalitarian state

In the three years since Mnangagwa usurped power from Mugabe, he has demonstrated an unrelenting willingness and zeal to achieve his vision of a controlled and pliable opposition. This much is evident in how he has shut down democratic space by using the military to kill protestors in cold blood and detaining political opponents and activists on spurious charges, writes Dr Alex Magaisa, a prominent Zimbabwean lawyer and constitutional expert. Dr Magaisa notes that Mnangagwa’s vision is a typically totalitarian state in which the ruling party controls virtually everything and the opposition plays a meaningless role. 

Militarisation of State has worsened

A Zimbabwe Democracy Institute study has found that militarisation has worsened in the post-Mugabe era. Citizens have been made to fear the military and the increasing  brutality of state security agents, thus being deterred from excising their constitutionally-given rights. The post-Mugabe dispensation government, led by President Emmerson Mnangagwa, has put much military pressure on the electoral process, freedom of protest and the media as key areas of military blockade to transition. It has also revealed that the military is the supreme power-bloc in transition politics as it has been a decisive player.

Ncube: Zim created fake US dollars

Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube has admitted in the High Court that the government created fake US dollars to cover indebtedness to local institutions. In his opposing affidavit in the matter between Duncan Hugh Cocksedge and CABS, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe and the Minister of Finance, dated 20 July 2020, Ncube explained how and why the Government of Zimbabwe created fake US dollars. He said the banking sector was directed to separate customer accounts holding actual dollars of the United States of America from accounts holding created money which was not the currency of the United States of America.

Understanding ED’s political doctrine

Realistically, with Mnangagwa’s chequered past, he was never going to open and expand the democratic space, writes Zimbabwean political scientist Simukai Tinhu in Alex Magaisa’s Big Saturday Read. This is because freedoms not only meant that he had to deal with investigative journalists who disturbed his redistribution of state resources, or opposition leaders shouting, ‘’you are illegitimate in parliament’’, but more importantly, they risked knocking away a critical strut to the system that had brought him to, and was going to maintain him in power; his entente with senior military figures and ZANU-PF elites. 

50,000 job losses predicted

Zimbabwe’s formal sector is expected to shed over 50,000 jobs by year end amid a contracting economy as companies take a knock from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, reports Business Times. The projected job losses come after various local firms have been trimming workers, and laying off temporary workers, to contain costs in the wake of suppressed revenue inflows. Prior to the lockdown, the economy was grappling with foreign currency shortages, power outages and El Nino-induced drought amid indications by a UN agency that over eight million Zimbabweans would be food insecure this year.

Advocate Thuli concerned re Zim crackdowns

South Africa’s highly respected former Public Protector and founder of The Thuma Foundation, Advocate Thuli Madonsela, says the Zimbabwean government needs to be called to account for the recent arrests of activists following anti-corruption protests in the country on 31 July 2020. Madonsela says President Emmerson Mnangagwa needs to explain his government’s actions to regional leaders. Zimbabwe’s ruling Zanu-PF party lashed out at anti-government protests which led to the arrests of some prominent figures in the country. There has been widespread anger at the arrests and the numerous reports of torture.

Second SA envoy fails to meet opposition

A special delegation of the African National Congress (ANC), South Africa’s ruling party, met with Zimbabwe’s ZANU PF party in Harare on Wednesday 9 September 2020. Both parties like to refer to themselves as “liberation parties” although this is a clear irony in some cases where the parties have turned into oppressors of the people, writes respected commentator Dr Alex Magaisa. He points out that it made little sense for the high-powered delegation to travel all the way to Harare, just to meet with ZANU PF, the principal author of Zimbabwe’s problems, as was the case with an earlier SA envoy deployed in August. 

SA’s second mission to crisis-torn Zim

South Africa’s ruling ANC party is taking flak for not meeting anyone but the ruling Zanu-PF party during a second mission to Zimbabwe on 10 September 2020, but Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu, who also heads the ANC NEC’s international relations subcommittee, is adamant that the party will go back to meet other stakeholders, notably opposition parties, civil society activists, NGOs and key diplomats. She said the ‘no holds barred’ meeting with Zanu-PF had been very worthwhile and brutally honest. The Platform of Concerned Citizens (PCC) is calling for a transitional authority to lead Zimbabwe out of its crisis.

Global Compensation Deed confusion

Zimbabwe’s ministers of land and finance issued a joint statement on the farm compensation issue on 31 August 2020, a month after the controversial signing of the Global Compensation Deed between the government and two farming organisations on 29 July 2020. The statement’s purported objective was to clarify the situation with regards to land tenure and compensation since there is a high degree of confusion, both locally and internationally, with regards to the agreement and the actual legality of the “deed”. However, the arrangements continue to remain opaque and are cause for mounting concern.

Another farmer, Martin Grobler, is evicted

A Zimbabwean commercial farmer has been evicted from his land  six weeks after the government announced a “compensation” deal with dispossessed white landowner organisations. Martin Grobler and his wife Debbie were given just hours to vacate their home by the new “owner”, Ivy Rupindi, an official from the lands ministry, who arrived with a sheriff, a court order and a lorry full of police. The fate of their 120 employees, planted fields and 250 head of cattle was thrown into doubt by the eviction which came as a “total shock”, Mr Grobler said. This is yet another example of the flouting of the rule of law in Zimbabwe.

Torture, death claims without evidence

President Mnangagwa has accused civic society and the opposition of staging abductions to paint a bad picture of his government. Speaking during a virtual presentation on Covid-19 on 27 August 2020, Mnangagwa said: “The arbitrary arrests, death, torture in the country, all that is being stated without evidence.” However, human rights lawyer Kennedy Masiye said there was serious mistrust in government, hence people fear reporting abuses. “In January 2019 [when there were fuel riots], women were raped and the government said people should report. We all know what happens when people report.

Journalist Hopewell Chin’ono on bail

Hopewell Chin’ono, the award-winning journalist and filmmaker held in a high-security prison for almost six weeks pending trial on charges of inciting violence, has been freed on bail. Chin’ono was arrested at his home in Harare in July after publishing a series of investigations into corruption in Zimbabwe. He has since been held in an overcrowded cell in Chikurubi jail on the outskirts of the capital, Harare. International concern has grown over the recent crackdown in Zimbabwe, during which between 50 and 100 opposition party officials, writers, labour activists and others have been arrested and often detained.

Renowned Advocate George Bizos tribute

Tributes are pouring in for renowned South African human rights lawyer, George Bizos, who passed away on 9 September 2020. Advocate Bizos was part of the team of lawyers who defended Rivonia trialists Nelson Mandela, Govan Mbeki and Walter Sisulu (1963-1964). Advocate Bizos also defended Zimbabwe’s opposition Movement for Democratic founder and leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, who was acquitted of high treason in October 2004 for allegedly plotting to kill President Robert Mugabe, ahead of the country's presidential elections in 2002. The prosecution relied on evidence from a highly suspect witness.

Hwange mining:  heartfelt appeal

Blessing Munyenyiwa sends out a heartfelt appeal to President Mnangagwa on behalf of the Hwange stakeholders and all children of the soil of Zimbabwe to prevent mining of any form taking place in Hwange National Park and all national parks in Zimbabwe. The iconic Hwange National Park is the largest in Zimbabwe, boasting one of the most diverse arrays of flora and fauna in the world. It is not only a natural heritage for all Zimbabweans, but a natural heritage for the world.  It is one of the top tourist destinations in Zimbabwe and is located in close proximity to the world-renowned Victoria Falls.

Zim cancels mining contracts in Hwange

Bowing to intense pressure, the Zimbabwean government has cancelled mining concessions in the iconic Hwange National Park with immediate effect. This follows a public outcry and the threat of a court battle after President Mnangagwa’s government granted exploratory rights for coal to two Chinese companies, Afrochine Energy and the Zimabwe Zhongxin Coal Mining Group. One of the concessions incorporated two crucial dams, Deteema and Masuma, placing animals’ already strained ability to access water under threat due to ongoing drought conditions, including the parks impressive elephant herds.

The brutal legacy of Perrance Shiri and Gukurahundi– 19 August 2020 

The govt has issued a joint statement by the Ministers of Lands and Finance following the signing on 29 July 2020 of the Global Compensation Deed between the govt, two farming organizations and the Valuation Consortium. It notes that “those former farm owners who are indigenous Zimbabweans or citizens of countries which had ratified Bilateral Investment Protection and Promotion Agreements (BIPPAs) or BITs with Zimbabwe at the time their land was compulsorily acquired for resettlement are entitled to compensation for both land and improvements. (The balance are only entitled to compensation for improvements).

Chinese miners put Hwange National park wildlife at risk

Conservationists in Zimbabwe are racing against time to prevent the government from allowing Chinese companies to start mining for coal in the pristine Hwange National Park, which hosts one of Africa’s biggest elephant populations. Lawyers lodged an urgent application in the High Court on 7 September to thwart exploratory drilling. Two Chinese companies have quietly been given special grants to operate, at the discretion of President Mnangagwa. Workers’ accommodation and roads to serve the mining areas are planned to be built close to the range of Hwange’s last remaining endangered black rhinos.

GOZ statement following signing of Global Compensation Deed

The govt has issued a joint statement by the Ministers of Lands and Finance following the signing on 29 July 2020 of the Global Compensation Deed between the govt, two farming organizations and the Valuation Consortium. It notes that “those former farm owners who are indigenous Zimbabweans or citizens of countries which had ratified Bilateral Investment Protection and Promotion Agreements (BIPPAs) or BITs with Zimbabwe at the time their land was compulsorily acquired for resettlement are entitled to compensation for both land and improvements. (The balance are only entitled to compensation for improvements).

Perils of economic nationalism across Africa

Nigerian journalist Uddin Ifeanyi  writes that: “Almost without fail, what is advertised as an attempt to transfer resources from foreigners to nationals, as part of an economic empowerment programme, collapses into a programme of political patronage. In Uganda, Amin’s inner circle ― more fawning than competent ― got the pick of the newly liberated assets. In Zimbabwe, ZANU-PF hacks ― again, more brutal than competent ― took over the farms after their white owners had been forced out….. the white Zimbabwean farmers’ continued success across the border in Zambia mirrors the failure of the Zimbabwean economy. Read More 

Jailed journalist Hopewell Chin’ono is ill

Incarcerated award-winning international journalist, filmmaker and whistle-blower, Hopewell Chin’ono, whose ongoing detention in Harare’s notorious Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison has sparked international outrage and concern, is reported to be ill with Covid-19 symptoms. After spending six weeks in remand prison applying for bail a record three times, Chin’ono on Monday 31 August sent a distress call to his lawyers that he was “seriously ill” and in need of urgent medical attention. His illness sparked fears that he may have been poisoned, a well-documented modus operandi of the brutal ruling party.

Abductee: “I felt the gun on the back of my head”

University student Tawanda Muchehiwa recounts his 3 days of hell at hands of Mnangagwa's shock troops. “I often wake up in the middle of the night sweating profusely with a pulsating headache. At that moment, I can feel intense pain on the right side of my jaw. I never get back to sleep. I have two incisions in my chest area, and two pipes – one inlet and an outlet. They are there for my next trip to a kidney dialysis facility…. I was threatened with death if I recounted that experience to anyone, but evil thrives on fear and my silence at this moment in the troubled life of our nation would be an act of complicity….”

Brave activist Dr Patson Dzamara dies

The Mike Campbell Foundation is devastated to learn of the death of a very brave Zimbabwean activist and opposition leader, Dr Patson Dzamara (34). Thrust into anti-government activism while searching for his missing journalist brother, Itai Dzamara, Patson succumbed to colon cancer just as well-wishers had raised money to get him into surgery. Itai, who was abducted from a barbershop in 2015, is still missing. Patson famously walked up to Mugabe at an Independence Day event in 2016 holding a placard that said “Independent but not free. Where is my brother Itai?” Patson a was whisked away by security guards and beaten.