Call for Probe Into Death of Mujuru

By Chief K.Masimba Biriwasha

Harare, Zimbabwe – As the nation mourns the passing on of one of its most illustrious and gallant sons, we firmly call for a thorough, independent investigation into his death. His untimely death has indeed shocked and stirred the emotions of many Zimbabweans.

An inquiry should be undertaken without delay to shed light on the circumstances and those responsible, if any, for the death.

Given that Zimbabwe has a bloody history of political assassinations; one cannot blame some people from rushing to unfounded conclusions, and nothing less than a transparent inquiry will put the matter to rest.

There must be no stone left unturned and no sacred cows left untouched, and that probe must meet international standards. The investigation must be conducted with absolute impartiality and professionalism. While we acknowledge the emotional reactions to Mujuru’s death has aroused, the investigation must be conducted with proper planning, transparency and level-headedness.

Forensic specialists must be brought in to investigate the factors surrounding his death. To clear any suspicion of foul play, we propose that expertise from a “neutral country” could be brought to unravel all aspects that led to his death. For example, was he alone at the time that his house caught fire? Where were his security guards? What caused the fire?

Put bluntly, the probe must establish the circumstances, causes and consequences of the assassination. The appointed investigators must collect information and evidence and interview any persons that are deemed relevant to the inquiry.

All the information must be collected and made public in a timely manner in order to allay any fears that our beloved land is sliding into a new era of internecine feud within the highest echelons of power.

It’s in the interests of the Zimbabwean state that the truth comes out. Unmasking the circumstances behind Mujuru’s death is not only a national duty; it will help to calm people’s spirits and put a stop to the accusations being bandied about in the public sphere.

Retired General Solomon Mujuru Dies

Harare, Zimbabwe – One of the leading icons of Zimbabwe’s struggle for freedom from British colonial rule and husband of the vice president, Retired General Solomon Mujuru has died. He was 62.

According to media reports, Mujuru died last night at his Beatrice farm, Harare  South, where he is said to have burnt to death at his home.

Regarded as one of Zimbabwe’s main political power brokers, Mujuru, also known as Rex Nhongo (c.1949 – 2011), led incumbent President Robert Gabriel Mugabe’s guerrilla forces during the independence war.

In post-independence Zimbabwe, he went on to become army chief before leaving government service in 1995. Mujuru is the former MP for Chikomba. He is generally regarded as one of the most feared men in Zimbabwe. His wife, Joyce Mujuru, is the Vice President and a former Water Affairs Minister in the Zimbabwe Cabinet.

During the liberation war, Mujuru led the ZANLA forces when Mugabe languished in jail for 10 years from 1964 to 1974.

He took over the command of the Zimbabwe National Army  at independence in 1980, retiring 10 years later to go into business.

Popular speculation is that he owns anywhere between six and sixteen farms, including Alamein farm, a productive and high-value operation illegally requisitioned as part of a “landgrab” from Guy Watson-Smith in 2001, as found by the Zimbabwe High Court and international courts. However, he remained an influential member of the ruling ZANU-PF politburo and central committees.

“Vice President Joice Mujuru leads a powerful faction in Mugabe’s party backed by her husband, who commanded loyalty in the military. The general, a leader of the guerrilla war that swept Mugabe to power, commanded the military for more than a decade after Zimbabwe’s independence in 1980,” reported the Washington Post.

“Mujuru’s death was likely to intensify turmoil in Mugabe’s party over the question of who will succeed the 87-year-old president. Joice Mujuru and her supporters in the party are chief rivals to Defense Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa and his followers, who have been vying for supremacy in the party should Mugabe, in ailing health, die or retire,” added the newspaper.

Analysts said that Mujuru’s death is likely to intensify turmoil in President Robert Mugabe’s party over the question of who will succeed the 87-year-old president.

Retired General Mujuru’s Career

Zimbabwe African People’s Revolutionary Army (ZIPRA), 1960s; Zimbabwe National Liberation Army (ZANLA), 1971; Acting commander-in-chief of ZANLA, 1975; Joint leader of Zimbabwe People’ Army (ZIPA) a united force of ZIPRA and ZANLA, 1976; Deputy Secretary of Defence for Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU), 1977; Commander, Zimbabwe National Army, 1981; promoted to full General 1992; Member of Parliament for Chikomba, 1994-2000.

Land Reform in Zimbabwe: Why An Introspection Matters?

By Chief K.Masimba Biriwasha

Harare, Zimbabwe – The land reform process in Zimbabwe which ensued in year 2000 characterized by violence against white farmers continues to hang over the nation like a famished viper. A radical introspection into that botched process is urgently required to allow the country to define a new future.

The model adopted by President Robert Mugabe’s ZANU-PF government largely premised on violence had a lot of loopholes that have not been addressed. In the absence of a rethink, colonial history will come back to haunt the nation.

A situation in which a small number of white farmers owned a large part of a country’s most productive agricultural land was clearly unacceptable and was itself a powder.

In spite of the fact that white farmers were chased off the land, there has not yet been closure on this chapter of our history. In retrospect, it is clear that a racialised approach to land reform – while politically justifiable – was not sufficient enough to resolve the unfair land ownership that existed in the country.

Judging from what happened in 2000, it is apparent that the government lacked a long-term strategic approach to redress the inequality in land ownership as well as make it profitable.

Analysts have already pointed out that many of the beneficiaries of the land redistribution process were the powerful and politically connected.  The elites awarded themselves with prime agricultural land. Many new black owners have become landlords rather than farmers.

The absence of a transparent land audit has also served to strengthen the idea that the process was largely unfair..

Furthermore, some of the beneficiaries had little to no farming knowledge, skills or experience, and regard the large tracts of land that they own as some ceremonial object.

To make matter worse, the Robert Mugabe-led government has not adequately availed capital to support the so-called new farmers. Consequently, the new farmers are not able to meet the financial obligations of farming, and their land merely lies fallow, overgrown with grass. Put simply, they are unable to utilize the land profitably.

In the pursuit of an end goal to address a valid case of stilted land ownership, the government overlooked how to ensure that new land owners would make their land profitable.

What Zimbabwe needs going forward is to re-conceptualize the issue of land ownership taking into account that the whole context. A land audit that determined who owns land in the country is fundamental to putting closure to the land issue. Fixing the land problem may lay the foundation for fixing so many others, from poverty to famine to ethnic conflict to the country’s economic recovery.

Zimbabwe: Queues of Despair

If a Martian landed in Harare, Zimbabwe’s capital today, he would certainly be taken aback by the length and number of human queues.

Like garden worms, the human queues twist and turn throughout the city, blocking traffic as people wait to get a chance to get money from their bank accounts.

The queues start early in the morning and last well into the night. As long as people think there is a faint chance to get a hold of their cash, they remain huddled in the queue.

If anything, human queues have become an additional indicator of the collapse of the Zimbabwean nation state, in particular, the financial system.

Due to a multi-billion percent inflation, the Zimbabwean government is no longer able to meet the paper money needs of its citizenry. Continue reading

Zimbabwe’s Hungry Stomach Politics

In the run-up to the June presidential run-off elections in Zimbabwe, President Robert Mugabe’s government banned the distribution of food to poor people by NGOs. The government accused NGOs of using food to campaign on behalf of the political opposition.

More than anything else the government ban on food distribution is a revelation of how much the stomach has influenced political developments in the country.

Zimbabwe is a nation-state that has been increasingly built on the politics of empty stomachs since it attained independence from British rule in 1980.

A combination of widespread rural poverty and a legacy of the liberation war have in many ways nourished President Robert Mugabe’s rule since 1980.

Mugabe’s Zimbabwe African National Unity-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) has mastered the art of handing out Lazaric crumbs to the majority of the people, particularly in the rural areas, in exchange for political gain and control.

Continue reading

Mugabe’s Wrath of the State

President Robert Mugabe’s ruling Zimbabwe African National Union has, in recent days, embarked on a warpath against civil society organizations.

 Robert Mugabe

 President Robert Mugabe: Africa’s strongman

Ordinary citizens with political views that favor the opposition political party, Movement for Democratic Change, have also not escaped the wrath of the state.

 Mugabe’s government accuses civil society organizations of both working in cahoots with the MDC and being funded by Western countries.

In Zimbabwe today, the venom of the state machinery, including the military, the police and the state-owned media, is being unleashed against anyone perceived to be connected to the opposition, which won the parliamentary elections in March — a first in Zimbabwe since it attained independence from British rule in 1980.

Since 1980, ZANU-PF has won all the parliamentary and presidential elections by any means possible — fair, foul or murderous.

Incumbent President Mugabe, who narrowly lost to opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai 43.2 percent to 47.9 percent in the March election, blames Western forces (as he has glibly done for the past eight years) for his loss of popularity.

Ahead of a runoff election scheduled for June 27, Mugabe has invoked all the state machinery’s hell against his people, and is determined to win by any means necessary.

Throughout the country, opposition supporters have been abducted and discovered with limbs, private parts, ears and tongues chopped off in scenes reminiscent of ritual killings.

“It’s a desperate situation,” said Keith Mazonde, a Harare-based nongovernmental organization worker in a Skype interview, “But the old man [Mugabe] is going nowhere.”

“I think he will win, but if you get me right, it’s a different kind from the win we know,” added Mazonde.

The clampdown of civil society organizations by Mugabe’s government comes in the wake of an order barring humanitarian aid organizations from distributing food and agricultural aid to impoverished Zimbabweans.

Mugabe has accused humanitarian aid organizations of using food handouts to campaign in favor of the opposition. NGOs have been ordered to re-apply for operating licenses.

According to Zimbabwe’s National Association of Nongovernmental Organizations, HIV patients will likely die as a result of the ban on food aid because they rely on NGOs for home-based care and antiretroviral medical assistance.

“The country has become a bedlam for people seeking an honest means of living. It looks like it will get better if only Mugabe goes, and a government of national unity is the way forward,” said Obert Sherera, an NGO worker.

UNICEF estimates that a total of 185,000 children are likely to miss the essential support they need, including healthcare and nutrition, and labels the government ban against NGOs a “human rights violation.”

“One day it will all come to an end but for now people are living in fear,” said Nornia Dumare, a political activist in Harare, Zimbabwe’s capital city.

Already, political analysts are saying that under the current circumstances it will be impossible for Zimbabwe to hold a free and fair presidential election.

According to a Human Rights Watch report, the Zimbabwean government’s campaign of violence and intimidation against the opposition MDC has extinguished any chance of a free and fair presidential runoff on June 27.

The report titled “‘Bullets for Each of You’: State-Sponsored Violence Since Zimbabwe’s March 29 Elections,” said that 36 politically motivated deaths and 2,000 victims of violence have been recorded in the run-up to the June runoff election.

“Since the runoff was announced the violence in Zimbabwe has gotten even worse,” said Georgette Gagnon, Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “Zimbabweans can’t vote freely if they fear their vote may get them killed.”