Civil society complains constitution is not people driven


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Civil society complained before the constitution making process started that the process was not people driven despite assurances from Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Eric Matinenga.

The Movement for Democratic Change had also argued that the Constitutional Select Committee (COPAC) should be chaired by an independent non-parliamentarian.

It was, however, agreed that it would be chaired by a Member of Parliament but ended up having co-chairs from the main political parties to the Global Political Agreement.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 09HARARE310, ZIM NOTES 04-09-2009

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

09HARARE310

2009-04-15 14:18

2011-08-30 01:44

UNCLASSIFIED

Embassy Harare

VZCZCXRO0485

RR RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN

DE RUEHSB #0310/01 1051418

ZNR UUUUU ZZH

R 151418Z APR 09

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4374

RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE

RUEHUJA/AMEMBASSY ABUJA 2266

RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 2772

RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 2894

RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 1339

RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 2159

RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 2524

RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 2942

RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 5383

RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC

RHMFISS/EUCOM POLAD VAIHINGEN GE

RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 2061

RUZEJAA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 HARARE 000310

 

AF/S FOR B. WALCH

ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU

ADDIS ABABA FOR ACSS

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR

STATE PASS TO USAID FOR L.DOBBINS AND J. HARMON

COMMERCE FOR ROBERT TELCHIN

 

SIPDIS

 

E.O.12958: N/A

TAGS: PGOV PREL ASEC PHUM ECON ZI

 

SUBJECT: ZIM NOTES 04-09-2009

 

———–

1. SUMMARY

———–

 

Topics of the week:

 

– Government Concludes Retreat…

– More Media Space?…

– Parliament Adjourns Until May…

– First Constitutional Deadline Approaching…

– Prison Wardens Arrested, Beaten, Released…

– Three Remaining Bombers Denied Bail by Chief Justice…

– National Healing Conference Turns Violent…

– Students Arrested While Protesting High Tuition…

– Bullish Outlook For Gold Though More Reforms Needed…

– Bearish on Nickel…

– Ban on Trade in Marange Diamonds…

– Prices of Basics Continue to Fall…

 

—————————–

On the Political/Social Front

——————————

 

2. Government Concludes Retreat… All but two GOZ ministers

participated in a three-day retreat last weekend in Victoria Falls.

Ministers from both ZANU-PF and MDC told us the exercise had been

highly successful. Ministers divided ministries into five related

clusters and began drawing up 100-day plans.

 

3. More Media Space?… At the Victoria Falls retreat, Minister of

Justice Patrick Chinamasa announced that efforts should be made to

open media space. Separately, plans are being made to begin

publishing an independent daily newspaper and to start an

independent raio station. Members of the Media Commission,

contemplated by Amendment 19, are supposed to be appointed by the

end of the month. Whether any or all of this happens will be an

important benchmark in measuring the progress of the new

government.

 

4. Parliament Adjourns Until May… Parliament announced it would

adjourn until May 12 due primarily to a lack of funds. MPs have not

been receiving their travel and housing allowances since Parliament

came back in session in January, forcing members to pay transport

and housing costs out of pocket. MPs have also not received their

vehicles-a traditional perk to allow MPs to travel between Harare

and their home districts-although Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono

offered MPs secondhand, central bank vehicles, leading Finance

Minister Tendai Biti to demand that Gono cease engaging in

“quasi-fiscal activities.” See Harare 288.

 

5. First Constitutional Deadline Approaching… Under the terms of

last September’s Inter-party Political Agreement, a Constitutional

Select Committee (CSC) must be set up by next week. Minister of

Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs Eric Matinenga told us this

deadline would be met. Although Matinenga and the MDC had argued

that the Committee should be chaired by an independent

non-parliamentarian, it will be chaired by a member of Parliament.

The constitution making process has drawn criticism from civil

society members who argue that, despite assurances from Matinenga

that civil society would have input, the process is not being

“people driven.”

 

6. Prison Wardens Arrested, Beaten, Released… Five prison

wardens were arrested on April 3 on charges of violating the

Official Secrets Act. The arrests appeared to come as retaliation

QOfficial Secrets Act. The arrests appeared to come as retaliation

for facilitating the filming of the damning SABC documentary on

Zimbabwean prisons, “Hell Hole.” Four of the wardens were beaten by

police while in custody. After police searched their homes and

could not find evidence against them, three were released without

charge and two were released on bail on April 7 for unrelated

 

HARARE 00000310 002.2 OF 003

 

 

charges. “Hell Hole” proved so popular that SABC re-aired it this

week.

 

7. Three Remaining Bombers Denied Bail by Chief Justice… On

April 6, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court denied bail to three

men (two MDC activists and a journalist) abducted late last year.

The men were seized and subsequently accused of involvement in the

bombing of police stations in 2008. Their lawyers have filed

another urgent application in the High Court to seek their release.

 

 

8. National Healing Conference Turns Violent… Fighting between

MDC and ZANU-PF youths broke out during a conference organized by

the Ministry of Youth, Development, Indigenization and Empowerment

at the Rainbow Towers Hotel in Harare. Youths in attendance told us

that discussions on jobs, education, and HIV/AIDS were constructive.

However, when the conversation turned to national healing and the

constitution, ZANU-PF youths became defensive, saying that there was

no need to punish perpetrators of violence in 2008. Tensions

escalated between ZANU-PF and MDC youth. ZANU-PF Minister Saviour

Kasukuwere and MDC-T Deputy Minister Thamsanqa Mahlangu tried to

calm the 100-person crowd. Riot police arrived to break up the

fights. Some windows were broken, but no one was seriously

injured.

 

9. Students Arrested While Protesting High Tuition… Seven

students were arrested at the National University of Science and

Technology (NUST) in Bulawayo on Monday, following a demonstration

over fees, and are still being detained at the central police

station. The group was arrested following accusations that they

stoned a car belonging to a visitor on campus during the

demonstration. The students deny the accusation and say they

protested peacefully against exorbitant fees that are beyond the

means of most parents. Last week the University of Zimbabwe failed

to open after over 70 percent of students failed to pay the fees

which are as high as US$800 per term for some courses.

 

———————————–

On the Economic and Business Front

———————————-

 

10. Bullish Outlook For Gold Though More Reforms Needed…

Following liberalization of the gold sector, producers believe that

output will rise substantially from the current level of around 200

kg/month to as high as 1,000 kg/month by the end of 2009. Most

major mines expect to be operational within three to six months

provided government continues to implement market-friendly policies

and amends the Gold Act in line with the recently announced price

and marketing reforms.

 

11. But Bearish on Nickel… The plunge in the world nickel price

forced Bindura Nickel Corporation (BNC) to place its nickel mines on

care and maintenance in late 2008 and its smelter and refinery on

the same regime last month. BNC has also shelved plans for a US$100

million investment in a third nickel mine in Zimbabwe. Nickel had

been one of Zimbabwe’s top exports to the U.S.

Qbeen one of Zimbabwe’s top exports to the U.S.

 

12. Ban on Trade in Marange Diamonds… The World Federation of

Diamond Bourses this week announced a ban by its 28 member countries

on trading in diamonds from Zimbabwe’s disputed Marange/Chiadzwa

deposit. These fairly easily identifiable rough diamonds lack

Kimberley Process Certificates. Discussion is underway within the

Kimberley Process on a full review visit to Zimbabwe in the coming

weeks.

 

13. Prices of Basics Continue to Fall… Prices of most basic

commodities keep falling in Zimbabwe as more players enter the

market. The price of the staple maize meal, for example, fell from

US$5/10kg bag two weeks ago to US$3.80 during the week under review.

Our own calculation of the prices of eight basic food items for a

 

HARARE 00000310 003.2 OF 003

 

 

low-income family of five, using the lowest prices on the market,

show an expenditure of about US$46/month, down from US$58 two weeks

ago. However, when transportation, rent and school fees are

included, the monthly expenditure rises well above the civil

servants’ US$100 allowance, which is being used as a benchmark in

wage and salary negotiations. Declines in non-basic goods have not

been as dramatic. Harare-based economst John Robertson said

figures from the Central Statistical Office sho(&z(44lzf Finance… The

Minister of Finance is my boss.” — RBZ Governor Gideon Gono

speaking at the first joint press conference between him and Finance

Minister Tendai Biti on April 8.

 

 

MCGEE

 

(20 VIEWS)

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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.

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