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Note: This document is from the archive of the Africa Policy E-Journal, published by the Africa Policy Information Center (APIC) from 1995 to 2001 and by Africa Action from 2001 to 2003. APIC was merged into Africa Action in 2001. Please note that many outdated links in this archived document may not work.

Zimbabwe: Recent Documents

Zimbabwe: Recent Documents
Date distributed (ymd): 000314
Document reposted by APIC

+++++++++++++++++++++Document Profile+++++++++++++++++++++

Region: Southern Africa
Issue Areas: +political/rights+
Summary Contents:
This posting contains several recent documents relating to political developments in Zimbabwe, including a statement from the Centre for Democracy and Development's monitoring team for the February constitutional referendum, in which the draft constitution was rejected by voters; several excerpts concerning Zimbabwe from the debate in the APIC/ECA Electronic Roundtable session on democracy and human rights; and a brief excerpt from the Media Monitoring Project about coverage on recent farm invasions.

A nationwide opinion poll reported in the Zimbabwe Standard on March 12 found that 36% said they wanted the ruling Zanu PF to continue ruling the country, while 63% said it was "time for a change."

For additional news and links, including background on the referendum and news on the parliamentary elections now scheduled for late April, see and

+++++++++++++++++end profile++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Centre for Democracy and Development
12, The Leathermarket {First Floor}, Weston Street
London SE1 3ER UK
Tel: +44 (20) 7407 0772 Fax: +44 (20) 7407 0773

Harare Contacts: +263 91 222 873; Fax: +263 4 300 340.

Interim Statement by Professor Amos Sawyer, Chairperson.

The CDD Observer Group congratulates Zimbabweans on the completion of the national referendum on the draft constitution. The CDD has been involved in evaluating the constitutional reform process in Zimbabwe since September, 1999.

We observed the national referendum over the two-day period, February 12 & 13, 2000. Our Mission, consisting of 9 observers from Liberia, Ghana, Kenya, South Africa, Uganda, Eritrea, and Nigeria was deployed to six of the ten provinces. Prior to this, the groups had held consultative meetings with various stakeholders on arrival in the country on February 8, 2000. The groups visited a total of 75 polling stations across the country.

We commend the efforts of the electoral officials, security teams and local monitors who worked tirelessly to ensure that the referendum was conducted in an atmosphere that was generally free, fair and peaceful. The CDD Observer Group noted in all the provinces visited, a number of technical and logistical problems. In the first category of shortcomings were the following: the delay in releasing the designation of the polling stations across the country; the confusion surrounding the alien voters' list which caused severe delay and, in some cases, inability of eligible permanent residents to vote; and the confusion surrounding the use of the drivers' licence.

We are of the view that whilst the counting procedure at the various counting centres was open and transparent, there is room for improvement in the transmission of results between the centres and the Registrar General's office.

With the Referendum now over, we are of the view that now is the time to revisit the constitution-making process to which all sides in the debate have made substantial contributions thus far. Through their vote, the People of Zimbabwe have challenged their leaders to build a national consensus and to establish an appropriate mechanism for constructive dialogue as the way forward. We urge all stakeholders, regardless of the outcome of the Referendum, not to adopt the attitude of "winner takes all". This should be an opportunity for a very positive re-engagement which is critical not only for Zimbabwe, but also for Africa and the wider international community as a whole.

Finally, we wish to record our thanks to all those Zimbabweans who made our delegation welcome and assisted us in fulfilling our mission. In particular, we thank the Registrar-General and his officials, the Government of Zimbabwe, the Constitutional Commission of Zimbabwe, National Constitution Assembly, the Ford Foundation (Southern Africa) and the Southern African Regional Institute for Policy Studies of the SAPES Trust for their support.

The CDD Observer Group will release its full report as part of the overall evaluation of the constitution-making process in Zimbabwe in due course. That Report will be submitted to the Government of Zimbabwe, the Registrar General's office, political parties, civil society institutions, local and international media and subsequently to all that may have an interest in the document.

Professor Amos Sawyer Chairperson, CDD Observer Mission

15th February, 2000

Members of the CDD Observer Mission

Professor Amos Sawyer, (Chairperson of the Observer Mission) is a distinguished political scientist and former President of Liberia's national unity government between 1990 and 1994. He is currently Chairperson, Board of Directors, Centre for Democratic Empowerment, Liberia.

Dr Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem is the General Secretary of the Global Pan African Movement Secretariat in Kampala, Uganda and Chair of the CDD International Governing Council.

Dr Margaret K.Y. Agama is a Research Associate at the Centre for Conflict Resolution in Accra, Ghana and Medical Doctor with the Ghana's Ministry of Defence.

Mrs Abeba T. Baatai is the Coordinator of the Citizens Referendum Monitoring Group in Eritrea and a former member of the Eritrean Constitutional Commission.

Mr Hassen Ebrahim is the Deputy Director-General at the South Africa's Department of Justice. Mr Ebrahim formerly served as Executive Director of the South Africa's Constitutional Assembly, which produced the country's current constitution. He is the author of Soul of the Nation: The Making of South Africa's Constitution (Oxford University Press, 1998) which received a distinguished mention in the Noma 1999 awards.

Mr Femi Falana is the President of the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights in Nigeria. A distinguished lawyer and human rights activist, Mr Falana was formerly president of the National Association of Democratic Lawyers and has been at the forefront of the campaign against military rule in Nigeria.

Dr Willy Mutunga is the Executive Director of the Kenyan Human Rights Commission. Dr Mutunga was formerly Co-Chair of the Citizens Coalition for Constitutional Change in Kenya. He is also the author of Constitutional Making from the Middle (Mwengo, 1998), an account of the struggle for constitutional reform in Kenya.

Mrs Florence Nkurukenda is a Deputy Chairperson of Uganda's Electoral Commission.

Mr Eze Anaba is a Senior Editor with Nigeria's leading daily, The Vanguard Newspaper.


Dr J. 'Kayode Fayemi, Director, Centre for Democracy & Development

Ms Susan Mbaya, Local Coordinator of the Observer Mission

Excerpts from APIC/ECA Electronic Roundtable

(1) from Panelist Presentation: Dede Amanor-Wilks, Harare, Zimbabwe (Feb. 12, 2000)

(for full text of presentation, including references, see

Zimbabwe's Farm Workers and the New Constitution

...while the international media, together with some local media, have been preoccupied by issues such as last year's arrests of journalists and Mugabe's "gay-bashing", when viewed from the perspective of Zimbabwe's human rights record as a whole, these amount to isolated incidents, which, though serious infringements of civil liberties ... pale into insignificance when compared to the disregard for human rights for an entire segment of Zimbabwe's population, namely agricultural workers, who make up 25% of the formal sector labour force and between 11% and 18% of the total population, working for commercial farmers who contribute about 40% of foreign exchange earnings and 15% of the country's GDP.

Yet, despite the obvious wealth of the commercial agriculture sector, many farm workers live in conditions of squalor and have been relegated to a system of "domestic government" (Rutherford 1996, see also Amanor-Wilks 1995) in which they continue to depend on farmer paternalism for sub-subsistence wages and perhaps food handouts, generally poor and often appalling housing and sanitation, inadequate health care and schooling for their children, and perhaps small patches of land on which to cultivate nutrition gardens. It is therefore not surprising that farm worker communities show among the highest rates of morbidity, malnutrition, mortality, and illiteracy in the country (Mugwetsi and Balleis 1994, Loewenson 1992). Lack of political representation, moreover, places farm workers among the most marginalised of Zimbabwe's populations. Until late 1997, farm workers were barred from voting in local government elections because they are not property-owning ratepayers or rentpayers.

Farm workers have remained outside the normal governance structures available to other Zimbabwean communities largely because they have traditionally been viewed as "aliens", even though many of them are in fact Zimbabweans, and a good number second, third or fourth generation Malawians, Mozambicans and Zambians who have no other home but Zimbabwe, but because of high levels of illiteracy and lack of political representation may not have regularised their status in the country.

The example also suggests a critical role for civil society in bringing to the fore human rights abuses so commonplace within a particular sector as to have assumed the appearance of normalcy. Indeed, in addition to the social welfare issues outlined above, the agricultural sector is guilty also of the more obvious forms of rights abuse, such as physical beatings and otherwise degrading treatment of workers, although the full extent of this is not generally known. Within farm worker communities themselves, women are particulary vulnerable to physical and sexual abuse. ...

In many ways the right of farm workers to be protected under the new constitution is complicated by their unclear citizenship status. The new draft constitution provides for citizenship by birth, descent or registration. But citizenship by birth can only be bestowed if either parent was a citizen at the time of a person's birth. In terms of citizenship by registration, the draft constitution deals only with legal adoption, minor children born of Zimbawean citizens by registration and the acquisition of citizenship through marriage. ... While the new constitution upholds the right of children to "have a nationality from birth", in the case of farm workers, children continue to be born each day to workers who themselves have no legal status and therefore no nationality to bequeath to their children. Many farm workers, even second or third generation workers, carry national idenfication cards bearing the designation "alien". An alarming number of them have no national ID, much less birth certificates for their children. Without a birth certificate, children born on commercial farms cannot obtain a national ID. Nor can they sit Grade 7 examinations qualifying them to enter secondary school, assuming that such facilities exist within walking distance of the farms on which they reside. ...

Though given the franchise at the end of 1997, it has in practical terms been difficult for farm workers to participate meaningfully in the Rural District Councils, not least because the councils are dominated by commercial farmers, unused to sharing power or ideas with their employees. Indeed, until the unprecedented and violent 1997 nationwide stike by farm workers, the agricultural sector had been seen as composed of largely docile workers lacking the means or vision to press for democratic change. Going now beyond the voluntarist welfare approach, based, in the absence of minimum standards governing the sector, on the individual sense of responsibility of each farm employer, and shaped still by a master-servant relationship, farm workers need to be given the means to articulate their own demands and to themselves set the pace for democratic change in their sector.

(2) Selected comments from Roundtable message archive (for full archive see

Steven Friedman, Center for Policy Studies, South Africa,
March 2, 2000

Do constitutional processes, even if they are driven by the existing elites, present opportunities? As long as they entail granting some degree of opportunity for public participation, however grudging, absolutely - and recent events in Zimbabwe are surely an eloquent testimony. It is also worth recalling a previous period in that country's history in which, even under white minority rule, the Pearce Commission process initiated by Britain created opportunities for opposition to the system to crystallise - historians may well conclude that this rather colonial exercise in consultation began the process which ultimately ended white rule. (Outside Africa, to name but one example, the Pinochet junta's role in Chile ended after a referendum which the military government called).

The point, of course, is that any opportunity for open, peaceful, popular mobilisation is important, even if it is limited and initiated by elites to shore up their rule. Most attempts to use the opportunity will not produce the immediate results achieved in Zimbabwe but, at the very least, they will create beachheads of democratic organisation which will not disappear when the constitutional process is over.

Patricia McFadden, SARIPS, Harare, Zimbabwe

I want to use the recent experience of Zimbabwe with `popular' constitutionalism to show how African scholars here and I suspect elsewhere, assumed that the ruling party would win because they had the 'rural vote' in the bag. Most of us seemed resigned to the strong possibility that, although large numbers of urban based Zimbabweans would use the referendum to express their dissatisfaction as citizens, the rural folk (even the terms we use are archaic) would enable the ruling elite to retain the political advantage. We were of course proved wrong - but for me, this strengthens my argument that Africa can only move on if our people have access to those amenities which nurture the development of a modern consciousness. If Africans develop a consciousness of entitlement - the right to vote as they choose, not to 'vote' as prisoners of a state which controls the most critical resource in their lives (land) even as it proclaims that the land belongs to the people, then we will have taken a critical step forward to changing this continent.

The MEDIA UPDATE is published and distributed by Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe (MMPZ), 221 Fife Avenue, Harare, Tel/fax: 263 4 735441/2, 733486, E-mail:, Web:
Feel free to respond to MMPZ. We can not reply to everything but we will look at each message. Please feel free to circulate this message.


Farm Invasions

The coverage of the countrywide invasions of white-owned farms by war veterans illustrated the worst failings of the publicly funded media. Both ZBC and ZIMPAPERS ignored the illegality of the action and largely failed to report the voices of those most affected. The opinions of farmers, farmers' organisations, farm workers and the man/ woman in the street were obliterated by those of War Veterans, the Head of State and other senior government officials. ZBC did not report the Minister of Home Affairs' press conference on March 2nd in which he stated that the invasions were indeed illegal and would be stopped by the police. Instead the main bulletins led with an interview with the President, in which he stated:

No, we will not put a stop to the invasions which are a demonstration, a peaceful demonstration and a lawful demonstration by the ex-combatants. Its just the aspects of law and order that we would want to see observed. If these are observed we will not interfere at all.

ZBC's reporter failed to challenge the President on the obvious anomalies of this statement. That the general public have fewer qualms and a better understanding of the law concerning trespass, was made clear from the live phone-ins during ZBC radio's current affairs programmes Spotlight and the Heart of the Matter. ZBC television's 2 main so-called current affairs programmes avoided any of the critical issues affecting Zimbabwe at the moment and concentrated on CITES. In terms of providing a voice to the public, ZBC radio is performing a service far in advance of ZTV and ZIMPAPERS.

ZIMPAPERS followed the same trend of giving prominence only to the voice of the government, the war veterans and their leader. In a total of 23 ZIMPAPERS' articles on the subject, government officials were quoted 20 times, War Veterans 18 times and the affected farmers and their respective organisations twice and 4 times respectively. Farm workers had no voice at all.

ZIMPAPERS repeatedly quoted war veterans stating that the farm invasions were the result of the rejection of the draft constitution. Whites in general were accused of having vigorously campaigned for a 'NO' vote. The invasions were justified because of the landlessness of the majority. Similar sentiment was expressed in The Zimbabwe Mirror (March 3rd) comment.

None of the publicly funded media examined the lack of a sustainable land redistribution policy as being the root cause of the problem. None challenged the statement from war veterans saying that they would also target Ministers' farms. None pointed out that Clause 57 could have been implemented through an act of parliament at any time over the last 13 years -- nor analysed the announcement that government now plans to do exactly that.

This material is being reposted for wider distribution by the Africa Policy Information Center (APIC). APIC's primary objective is to widen international policy debates around African issues, by concentrating on providing accessible policy-relevant information and analysis usable by a wide range of groups and individuals.

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