AS the mega-salaries of the bosses of key parastatals that are failing to pay low level workers at times for several months, continue to emerge since January 2014 many questions raised by Zimbabweans have remained unanswered much to public outrage.

 

The questions being flown around in the streets, or in the hide-outs of people’s homes, where they feel safe from some bigotry, and any other public places include whether a crime has been committed, or not by the high earning Chief Executive Officers (CEOs), apart from moral blameworthiness.

 

The citizens of Zimbabwe want to know whether there is any public code that has been violated, or not; or that gives the way forward in case of mega-salaries being unearthed.

 

In search for such a document, the Crisis Report has come across the new Constitution of Zimbabwe (Amendment 20) Act as one such document, which clarifies the basic values and principles of public administration in Section 194.

 

For instance, it has recently been made public that Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) Chief Executive Officer Happison Muchechetere grossed about $40,000.00 and got about US$ 250,000.00 as a housing allowance, while many employees at the public broadcaster were not being paid for months.

 

The Constitution (Section 194) says: “(a) A high standard of professional ethics must be promoted and maintained; [and] (b) efficient and economic use of resources must be promoted.”

 

Could it have been prudent use of financial resources to pay a top official “entertainment allowance” of US$ 3,000.00, while several, demoralised employees of the same public institution went unpaid for several months?

 

The constitutional clause could also be of relevance to the Executive in terms of the funds gobbled in foreign trips by big contingencies of government ministers in terms of “economic use of resources.”

 

Notable is the public admission by Media, Information and Broadcasting Services Permanent Secretary George Charamba that, while ordinary employees continued to go unpaid at the supposed public broadcaster, the information pertaining to the ZBC CEO’s salary was suppressed ahead of harmonised elections in July 2013.

 

No explanation was given by the former minister, Hon. Webster Shamu, for the non-action on the memo send to him by Charamba, regarding the issue when the matter exploded into the limelight last month.

 

There are claims by independent journalists on social networking site Facebook this week that information in the form of public documents, regarding obscene salaries at PMAS, was at one point denied from independent media journalists.

 

Section 194 (h) of the Constitution says: “Transparency must be fostered by providing the public with timely, accessible and accurate information.”

 

In the last few days, concerned residents’ groupings such as the Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) have accused Local Government Minister Dr. Ignatius Chombo of abetting non-disclosure, concealment and lack of transparency on salaries and expenditure at Harare Town House.

 

Dr. Chombo apparently tried to override the authority of Harare Mayor Bernard Manyenyeni and councillors, who resolved to suspend Town Clerk Dr. Tendai Mahachi to pave way for investigations, by reinstating the latter.

 

According to Section 196 (1) (b), “Authority assigned to a public officer is a public trust which must be exercised in a manner which demonstrates respect for the people and a readiness to serve them rather than rule them.”

 

Provisions in Section 203 outline the role of the Civil Service Commission, which shall peg salaries for civil servants, as follows:

“… subject to Section 65 (5), to fix and regulate conditions of civil service, including salaries, allowances and other benefits of members of the civil service.

“In fixing the salaries, allowances and other benefits of members of the Civil Service, the Civil Service Commission must act with the approval of the President given on the recommendation of the Minister responsible for finance and after consultation with the Minister responsible for the Civil Service.”

 

Recent developments apparently revealed that some ministries did not pay attention to the progression of CEOs’ salaries in the parastatals; or, as former Parastatals Minister Gorden Moyo claims, officials suppressed the information for political reasons.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014 08:47

Hunger and death stalk prisoners

Harare – THREE political activists have condemned the conditions in which prison inmates in Zimbabwe endure daily following their release from Chikurubi Maximum Prison last month.

 

The country’s supposed ‘ houses of correction’ have lately been known by their antithetical label as ‘houses of death’ after graphic pictures of prisoners with quite visible skeletal frames in tattered garb were leaked to the public in 2009.

 

The three activists, Yvonne Musarurwa, Last Maengahama and Tungamirai Madzokere expressed dismay that their colleague Rebecca Mafukeni succumbed to the dire prison conditions on August 12, 2013.

 

They also revealed that prisoners had been put on a food ration of one meal a day owing to the country’s food shortages. According to a survey done by the World Food Programme (WFP) in collaboration with the government 2.2 million Zimbabweans are believed to be in need of food aid until March 2014.

“The Zimbabwe Prisons Service needs urgent help as it is facing serious challenges that are gravely affecting prisoners,” Madzokere said.

 

Musarurwa said the situation of prisoners was “just too dire”, adding that “prisoners are dying of hunger”. Maengahama said the one meal being given to prisoners was “a token”, adding that prisoners had no blankets and clothes.

 

Officials from the Ministry of Justice revealed to Parliament in December 2013 that about 100 inmates had died in the country’s 55 prisons last year.

 

Virginia Mabhiza, the permanent secretary revealed while giving oral testimony to the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs that most of these deaths were due to malnutrition and hunger.

 

Agrey Machingauta, deputy commissioner of prisons reportedly confirmed that prison deaths had doubled, risen from 50 to 100 in a space of one year.

Prisoners are dying because of hunger and some related diseases as we have people living in society dying of HIV related diseases, and this is similar to the prison situation although we have some of our prisoners on ARV drugs,” Machingauta said.

“The problem of hunger is compounded by the fact that we can only afford to give prisoners one meal instead of three square meals per day.”

 

Another challenges is over-crowding, as the country’s 46 prisons with a capacity of 7 000 people were said to be holding 18 000 prisoners, more than double their carrying capacities.

 

Meanwhile, a factor contributing to the overcrowding is that the wheels of justice in Zimbabwe move at lackadaisical pace as the three political activists have been held in remand for 33 months, pending completion of their trial on allegations of murdering a police officer in May 2011.

 

Of the people who died in prison last year was Mafukeni, one of the 29 political activists from Glenview charged with murder, and it is believed that the circumstances of her death exposed a poor health care delivery for inmates.

BULAWAYO – THE civil society organisation has said that the recent unearthing of mega-salaries could be “a tip of the iceberg” in terms of financial leakages in commercial entities run by the state, which could only be arrested through sweeping reforms at the public entities.

(Thabani Nyoni)

Bulawayo Agenda (BA) Director Thabani Nyoni noted concerns expressed by Zimbabweans on the recent revelations of what some analysts have described as “obscene salaries”, which were being earned by top staff at the helm of parastatals and some local authorities.

These developments are actually a tip of the iceberg and reflection of the state of public institutions,” Nyoni said.

“It explains why citizens have suffered, failing to access public goods and services from these institutions.

“What we are saying is that the government of Zimbabwe is culpable and abdicated its responsibility as a regulator of such excesses for a long time.

“We even ask the question how long has the chicanery been happening under government supervision; how many billions in terms of revenue have been lost; and how many public institution are affected?"

 

As part of its recommendations, the organisation called upon the government to ensure transparency and sternly censure the officials involved in these activities.

“We call upon the government to turn to relevant institutions such as the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) and Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) to investigate public officials and institutions that have been involved.

“We also demand public disclosure of all salaries being given to officials that are running public institutions, and that those violating procedure should be investigated and prosecuted.

“We recommend that there should be wholesale reform of public institutions such as parastatals and local authorities to the extent that is guided by a clear framework set by parliament and regulated by independent institutions.”

As the Zimbabwean government faces the huge task of bolstering the ailing formal economy and its dominant urban aspect in 2014, after a decade of socio-economic strife, rural development could remain in the blind spot for the foreseeable future.

 

The national statistical agency, ZIMSTATS says in its 2012 National Census Report that above 8.7 million, 67% of Zimbabweans reside in the majority rural districts.

 

Speaking at a public meeting organised by Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiZC) in Harare last month, former Finance Minister Tendai Biti said most rural people were virtually cut off from both the positive and negative effects of the mainstream economy.

 

 

This, in turn, made them detached from important national affairs such as the democratisation question, he said.

 

On the slow pace of rural development in Zimbabwe, Mr George Makoni, Program Officer of the Centre for Community Development in Zimbabwe Trust (CCDZT) which is the Advocacy Committee Chairperson of CiZC , said:

“The rural areas are in a pathetic condition economically because people have no sources of livelihoods.

“The very few initiatives that have been there are politicised such as agricultural inputs scheme.

“Most of the plans to transform these areas have remained on paper. Promises are usually given towards elections. So it’s more political than developmental.”

 

The phenomenon of two national economies in Zimbabwe, one much more backward, bigger in the rural areas and another a little more advanced, leaner in the urban areas, is described in the 2009 book, “Beyond the Enclave” by labour think tank, LEDRIZ, which is led by renowned economist, Dr. Godfrey Kanyenze.

 

The book calls it the “dual enclave” economy, and suggests that it is a colonial legacy of exclusionist politics, which the government should address, if it is to deal with increasing inequality and cause broader development without further exclusion of the rural populace and the most vulnerable.

 

For instance, Hon. Biti suggested that, because of widespread absence of piped water and electricity in the countryside, rural people in Zimbabwe were not politically sensitive to such things as prevalent water and power cuts; further, explaining that because of their enduring backward circumstances, they drank water in the same open wells “with donkeys.”

 

 

The reality is not far-flung from this characterisation as media reports in 2013, with pictorial evidence, revealed that villagers shared water sources with livestock in rural areas such as Buhera in the country’s eastern Manicaland province.

 

It is safe to presume that the 85% of the national road network, which Hon. Biti also said is not paved, is almost entirely in the rural areas, limiting accessibility and thus causing something like a slamming black on the development speedometer.

 

As has been the case over the past 33 years, the government of Zimbabwe dominated by the ruling Zanu-PF party, save for the four years of the Inclusive Government (IG), acknowledges the problems as evidenced by the formulation of the idea of rural Growth Points as early as in 1981.

 

 

However, precious little has been forthcoming in the way of implementation of suggested solutions, with most of the 55 growth points still a pale shadow of their robust plan.

 

CiZC Spokesperson Mfundo Mlilo said: “We have to realise that the government could not deal with rural infrastructure because we have been having a budget deficit for the past decade.

“We also have to realise that the rural economy is agro-based and since 2001 there has disturbances on the central system that supports agriculture.”

 

In its resolutions from the Zanu-PF 14th Annual National People’s Conference held in Chinhoyi in December 2013, the ruling party claimed that it is, “aware of the dilapidated state of the country’s physical infrastructure in …rural areas; in terms of key economic enablers such as energy, roads, dams, irrigation systems,…and the urgent need for the refurbishment and expansion of this infrastructure.”

 

Indeed, a visit to Mutasa District in Manicaland, by Artists for Democracy in Zimbabwe Trust (ADZT) in January 2014, revealed that things such as boreholes were not being repaired, leading to widespread vandalism as communities sought for spare parts.

 

Zanu-PF said in its resolutions, it was “noting the need for new irrigation and water supply systems arising from the reality of climate change and concomitant recurrent drought.”

 

Recurrent drought spells, especially in the dry south of Zimbabwe, have seen millions needing foreign or local food aid yearly for some decades with this year’s figure estimated at 2.2 million. As a solution, the ruling Zanu-PF party proposed to increase water harvesting and irrigation farming.

 

Hon. Biti said that the country’s catchment area releases above 75% of the water straight into the Indian Ocean due to the absence of more reservoirs such as vast in-land dams of the size of the under-construction Tokwe-Mukorsi dam in Masvingo. This could outline Zimbabwe’s huge untapped potential for irrigation.

 

To its credit, on the subsistence agriculture front, the ruling party has tried to support rural farmers’ out-dated methods of farming with seed inputs, although analysts have questioned the politicisation of such projects, which they claim are for political reasons rather that developmental goals.

 

The party also acknowledged in its December 2013 resolutions the need to promote small, drought-resistant grain farming.

 

But huge gaps remain on other important fronts such as health, with Zimbabwe Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR) Board Chair Dr. Rutendo Bonde telling the Crisis Report last year that government needed to improve the working conditions of rural health practitioners so as to remove the disincentive of working at rural health facilities.

“Furthermore, we applaud the move to construct a hospital in each district, but we think that more attention should be given to staff retention. Conditions must be created which make it more tenable for health staff to work in those rural areas,” Dr. Bonde said after the presentation of the hopeful 2013 National Budget.

 

In fact, the budget allocations in percentage terms for health and education in the small 2014 National Budget of U$ 4.4 billion do not meet international developmental requirements as per Abuja Declaration of African nations that prescribes at least 15% and Dakar Declaration which calls for 20% for education respectively. This is apart from the potential difficulty of expansion of current social services programs due to lack of funding.

 

 

In a world that is seeing rapid advancement in technology; rural schools and their graduates in Zimbabwe are increasingly being left behind. Local rural pupils are not getting quality education, especially in relation to computer technology, if they are able to access any education at all.

 

 

Makoni said: “If you look at the rural electrification program you will see that very few areas have been covered and this program was mostly benefiting chiefs.

“In schools there is nothing like that, and ironically you find government donating computers to these schools.”

 

Further, this year alone about 1 million Zimbabwean school kids, including many of those in the rural areas, face the prospect of not going to school after the Basic Education Assistance Module (BEAM) failed to raise funds; notwithstanding the new Constitution’s Section 75 prescribes for free basic education.

Harare – Stakeholders have called on Local Government Minister Dr. Ignatius Chombo to stop interfering in the investigations of possible obscene salaries that are being raked in by top staff at Town House.

 

After Mayor Bernard  Manyenyeni suspended Harare City Council (HCC) clerk, Dr. Tendai Mahachi, to pave way for investigations, Chombo swooped in to reverse the decision this week.

 

 Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition Spokesperson (CiZC) Mfundo Mlilo berated the move by Chombo saying it confirmed suspicions long levelled against him of trying to bend over backwards to save a patronage system in local and central government.

 

“The most important issue is that the reversal by Chombo is confirming our long-held suspicions that there are dirty fingers at Town House hindering service delivery,” Mlilo said.

It is unfortunate that a whole minister has gone out of his way to interfere with a process that is seeking transparency.

“The fact that the Local Government Minister has sought to reverse the decision of a full council flies in the face of devolution and the autonomy given to local councils in the new Constitution.”

 

Combined Harare Resident Association (CHRA) Chairperson Simbarashe Moyo, at a press conference held in central Harare on Tuesday, 4 February 2014 expressed the association’s disapproval of Chombo’s conduct, saying they were “opposed” to the interference shown by the minister.

 

Moyo said Mahachi’s refusal to comply with the resolutions of councillors to submit the salary schedule of staff warranted his suspension because it violated the norms of good governance and transparency.

That is why it came as a welcome relief to CHRA and the residents of Harare that Dr. Mahachi had been suspended and we would like to publicly commend and offer our support to the Mayor of Harare for taking such a bold step,” Moyo said.

The CHRA chairperson said Chombo had unduly interfered with the operations of the local authority for private reasons, adding that his actions and those of his supposed protégés prejudiced service delivery.

 

“We note with concern therefore, that the reversal by Dr. Chombo represents an unwarranted interference into the operations of local authorities and flies in the face of the new Constitution that seeks to promote devolution and autonomy of public bodies,” Moyo said.

“‘Big men’ like Chombo are feeding off the public funds that should otherwise be used to develop the social service delivery system in Harare.

“It is a matter of public record that Dr. Chombo has on several occasions been accused of abusing his authority to acquire large masses of public land from the City of Harare.”

 

CHRA demanded that the City of Harare should release the salary schedules, the Minister of Local Government in liaison with the Mayor should “produce a revised and modest salary bill”, and that these measures should be implemented within seven days.

 

The Association threatened to encourage a boycott by residents from paying bills and that it would file an urgent High Court application to stop the payment of the huge salaries or mobilise community protests in Harare if its demands are not met.

 

Elected Councillors Association of Zimbabwe (ECAL) President Warship Dumba said the Local Government Minister had no jurisdiction to interfere with the matter of salaries as they are approved by the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare in consultation with council.

What is of great surprise is how the Local Government minister would go about announcing the salary schedule for the Town clerk and directors at a press conference,” Dumba said.

“What I don’t understand is where he got the US$ 14 000.00 which he announced as the town clerk’s salary and US$ 2000.00 that he said is the official’s entertainment allowance.”

Harare – THE Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) has come out in defence of civil society, saying the government must respect and facilitate for the sector to carry out its mandate.

 

The HRC recently released a final report of the harmonised elections held more than six months ago, where it calls on the authorities to ensure civil society organisations play their part in public processes such as national elections.

 

“The ZHRC also noted with concern that some civil society organisations conducting civic education and not voter education, were stopped from doing so by ZEC (Zimbabwe Electoral Commission),” the independent body said.

“Given the vagueness in the definition provided in the Electoral Act, we call upon the ZEC and other policymakers to clarify the distinction between voter information, voter education and civic education.”

 

The ZHRC added that in carrying out voter education, ZEC needed to involve civil society.

“In carrying out this broad responsibility, ZEC is implored to work with a broad spectrum of civil society organisations to ensure the widest coverage possible of voter education is achieved,” it said.

 

 The ZHRC added its voice to the concerns raised by civil society in relation to the holding of the harmonised elections such as public media bias, use of fake voter registration slips, assisted voters that were as high as 5.9%, the non-implementation of democratic reforms and huge number of voters that were turned away.

 

Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) in its report of the three council by-elections held on January 22, 2014  indicated that little had changed in terms of the poor manner in which elections are conducted in the country.

 

 

The Rights Commission also said the “security of costs” amount of US$ 10, 000 demanded for each electoral result challenge placed to the Electoral court was too high and prohibitive, demanding the figure to be reduced for future polls.

 

The ZHRC also made sensational revelations about its deprivation of resources by the government, which hindered its operations such as monitoring of the last harmonised elections.

“In some instances, commissioners had to use their personal vehicles to carry out the exercise,” read part of the report’s preface signed by Acting Chairperson Dr. Ellen Sithole.

 

Meanwhile, the government has appointed Elasto Mugwadi, who becomes the third chairperson of the Commission since the resignation of Professor  Renigald Austin on grounds of the independent body’s neglect by government in 2012. Austin’s successor Jacob Mudenda was nominated by the ruling Zanu-PF party and elected Speaker of Parliament in late 2013. 

Tuesday, 21 January 2014 16:55

ADZT discusses water rights with communities

THE Artists for Democracy in Zimbabwe Trust (ADZT) has taken the initiative to help rural communities highlight their challenges in relation to access to clean and safe water.

 

The efforts are part of a broader campaign by the organisation to spread awareness of the new Constitution of Zimbabwe called Artists Constitutional Awareness Raising among Under-served Groups (ACARMUG).

ADZT held two community meetings in Manicaland Province at Terera business centre in Mutasa on January 17, 2013, and in Matebeleland at Matshiya in Lupane on January 18, where villagers mostly women highlighted their challenges in accessing water for domestic use.

 

In Mutasa, women revealed their disappointment with the District Development Fund (DDF) for failing to repair boreholes in time, which has resulted in residents travelling long distances in search of safe and clean water.

 

According to ADZT, the men in the community ended up vandalising other boreholes in an effort to fix boreholes in their neighbourhood.

 

 

One man testified saying, “Takupedzesera takunoba mamwe maparts ezvimwe zvibhorani kuti tigadzire zvedu tega. (We end up stealing borehole parts from other communities to fix our own borehores).”

“The District Development Fund (DDF) is taking long to address the water shortage issue that is why the community has resorted to vandalising other boreholes to fix their own,” AZDT Director Mehluli Dube said.

 

At Matshiya in Lupane, participants especially women called on the government to uphold socio-economic rights such as water rights in line with the new Constitution (Amendment 20) and highlighted how children are affected by the scarcity of water.

 

 

An unidentified woman said, “We cannot access water yet our children have to travel long distances to fetch water and then go to school, which is affecting children as they will be tired when they go to school. This obviously affects their concentration rate in class”

 

Meanwhile, ADZT also distributed 200 copies of the constitution and 30 branded water buckets during the two meetings held in Lupane and Mutasa.

 

ADZT launched the campaign for water rights on  International Human Rights Day on December 10, 2013 in Harare, where 33 women marched with empty water buckets labelled “Water is a Right”, marking 33 years of failure by many communities to access safe and clean water after independence.

 

The march also sought to highlight how the water scarcity weighs heavily on the shoulders of women, who culturally have to bear the brunt of fetching the precious liquid for domestic use.

Harare – THE education sector of Zimbabwe has been deemed among the best in Africa even before independence, and reports say the country continues to have the best literacy rate on the continent, but the challenge of limited access for pupils from poor families persists.

 

Before independence, education in the then Rhodesia was flaunted as the best on the continent especially in the 1960’s though the sector was tainted by racial segregation that limited Africans’ access to education.

 

Three decades later, and with a Zimbabwe National African Union Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF) led government in control, Zimbabwe is still deemed to have the best literacy rate in Africa; at the same time, the challenge of inaccessibility of education continues unabated

 

During the colonial era, local economist, Dr. John Robertson, in a survey report of 1973, aptly captured the exclusive nature of the sector.

 

Robertson revealed that only less than one third of African children in the range of 18 and 19 years of age completed the first three years of primary education.  

 

In 1967, the dropout rate in the first year of secondary education (Form 1) of African children was 94.1% due to lack of government support, fueled by racial segregation.

 

Some of the dropouts included Josiah Tongogara, Mayor Urimbo and George Rutanhire, who became liberation war fighters, putting the inaccessibility of education as one of the African grievances against the government.

 

“So you find most of them (liberation war recruits) came up … because they are deprived of education,” Tongogara, a renowned Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army (ZANLA) commander, once said.

“Those are of some of the reasons that compelled them to come and join the fight.”

 

To its credit, the Zanu-PF government widely expanded the reach of educational infrastructure with more government schools and state universities being built over the past three decades, while gender disparities have been curtailed.

 

The new Constitution of Zimbabwe (Section 27) says that, “The state must take practical steps to promote free and compulsory basic education for children; and higher and tertiary education.

 

Further the Constitution states that girls should be afforded the same opportunities as boys.

 

But the question of accessibility of education still nags for attention, and remains a sore thumb in Zimbabwe.

 

After the presentation of the national budget statement by Finance Minister Hon. Patrick Chinamasa on December 19, 2013, it has emerged that about one million pupils risk dropping out of school due to inadequate funds to finance the Basic Education Assistance Module (BEAM), a government driven support scheme for primary and secondary school children from vulnerable backgrounds.

 

Various analysts have argued that the education sector in Zimbabwe is beset with financial bottlenecks due to unaffordable tuition fees and little government support, putting the attainment of education out of the reach of many.

 

Douglas Tigere, Director of the Student Christian Movement of Zimbabwe (SCMZ), said government was not showing real commitment on supporting vulnerable pupils.

We are not seeing any serious commitment from the government,” Tigere said.

Very soon the ruling party will be holding the expensive 21st February Movement event.

“If they were serious about education they would not even spend millions of dollars on the celebrations, while one million pupils are facing the prospect of dropping out of school.”

 

For his defense, President Robert Mugabe has consistently said the 21st February Movement which celebrates his birthday with lavish parties is funded by well-wishers, not government coffers though the President’s Office has always been awarded big budgetary allocations annually under his rule.

 

The challenges of inadequate funding have also stalked the Cadetship Scheme, which finances the education of tertiary students from vulnerable backgrounds, leading to more dropouts since the government scrapped the Student Grant and Loan Scheme in February 2006.

 

In late 2013, Zimbabwe National Students Union (Zinasu) President Gilbert Mutubuki, speaking to the Crisis Report, reminded the government that: “The right to education was one of the reasons why the liberation struggle was fought.”

 

The lack of adequate funding has also been blamed for poor grades due to low moral among educators at all levels, and poor performance of the Zimbabwe Schools Examination Councils (ZIMSEC), especially over the past decade where the country witnessed serious economic challenges.

 

Further, with the country facing serious food shortages that the World Food Programme (WFP) said will affect about 2, 2 million Zimbabweans mainly in the dry southern provinces, it may be expected that lack of food and malnutrition will either keep more pupils away from schools, or affect their studies.

Harare – THE remaining seven of the 29 Glenview residents who were being accused of murdering a Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) member, continue to languish in remand prison 30 months after their arrest.

 

The drawn out incarceration has been described as a clear violation of their rights as the case waits to resume on Tuesday, January 22 at the High Court of Zimbabwe in Harare.

 

Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiZC) Spokesperson Mfundo Mlilo decried the slow pace in the delivery of justice for the prisoners who have been denied bail, adding that it constituted a denial of fundamental rights of the accused persons by the Zimbabwean State.

 

“Clearly, it is a violation of their right to liberty which is enshrined in the new constitution,” Mlilo said. “This is because the same people who are administering this constitution are the same people who have been presiding over human rights violations.

 

The fact that we have a new Constitution should signal changes, we need a new culture of respect for human rights.”

 

High Court Judge Justice Chinembiri Bhunu ruled that the accused persons had a case to answer, when their 21 colleagues were acquitted on September 19, 2013, following a protracted legal battle triggered by the mysterious death of Inspector Petros Mutedza in May 2011 at a shopping Centre in Harare’s Glenview High Density Suburb.

 

 

Some of the acquitted persons had spent approximately two years in remand prison, prompting Justice Bhunu to condemn the police for failing to release some of the detained persons, although police investigations had confirmed their alibis.

 

One young woman, who was part of the accused persons, Rebecca Mafukeni, later on died under police guard at Parirenyatwa Hospital on August 12, 2013, after suffering some health complications believed to have been aggravated by prison conditions.

 

The group, who belong to the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), was bundled up days after having conducted a social braai in the suburb on the fateful date; although some of them had never stepped their foot on the crime scene, leading to public suspicion of political recrimination.

 

A source from the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) confirmed that the defense counsel led by Beatrice Mtetwa had on Thursday January 16, 2013 met with the presiding judge, Justice Bhunu and Prosecutor Edmore Nyazamba to set the date for the continuation of trial as January 22.

 

Soon after his release last year, MDC Youth Assembly Chairperson Solomon Madzore, who had spent 405 days under incarceration said there was nothing to celebrate as the seven were still living under untenable conditions in remand prison, and some of the acquitted had already endured long terms of solitary confinement, and one death had occurred.

 

“I suppose this was supposed to be a moment of jubilation, moment where we celebrate our acquittal,” Madzore said then. “But there is nothing to celebrate given the fact that seven of us remain charged, they have all been placed on their defence.

 

“It’s a scenario where this thing came a bit too late. I mean we spent in excess of a year and in the case of Simon Mapanzure, he was behind bars for more than two years.”

 

The seven who are being held at Chikurubi Maximum Prison are: Tungamirai Madzokere, Yvonne Musarurwa, and Last Maengahama, Lazarus Maengahama, Phineas Nhatarikwa, and Edwin Muingiri, and Paul Nganeropa Rukanda.

 

 

Due to the fact that the seven people have not been on bail, should the trial continue until May 2014, they will have effectively spent three years behind bars without conviction and sentencing.

Page 8 of 29

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