"There is nothing in the GPA that has not been done by ZANU PF, nothing at all. We have fulfilled everything that the GPA wanted us to fulfill": Robert Mugabe, 24 October 2009
October has been a month characterised by violence, lawlessness, corruption and the complete abuse of power for partisan and personal objectives. Despite Robert Mugabe's outrageous claim to the contrary, Sokwanele has logged an incredible 3850 breaches of the GPA by Zanu PF since the start of the ZIG Watch project, making this party responsible for 88.8% of all breaches logged up until the end of October.
October began in the wake of a international public campaign demanding that Nestle stop buying milk from Gushungo Dairy Estate which is owned by Grace Mugabe. Recognising the public's disgust, Nestle quickly capitulated and in so doing exposed itself to ruthless elements that serve to protect and defend the Zanu PF elite business interests. Nestle bank accounts were frozen by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe who also ordered a forensic audit into its dealings. (The Reserve Bank Governor, Gideon Gono, is staunchly loyal to the Mugabe's and Zanu PF.) Zanu PF Youths cryptically threatened to "lose it" if the company did not resume buying milk from Gushengo, and the so-called Affirmative Action Group - loyal to the Zanu PF party - threatened to take over Nestle Zimbabwe if the company did not resume its purchases. Actions like these arguably have a far more damaging impact on any prospects for investment in the country than the targeted sanctions Zanu PF is so anxious to have removed.
October will be remembered as the month the MDC-T party disengaged from the Zanu PF party in the power-sharing government, a decision brought about by the vindictive and partisan handling of the Roy Bennett case. In mid-October Roy Bennett's bail conditions were rendered void when Mutare Provincial Magistrate Lucy Mungwari sent him back to jail pending trial in the High Court. This was despite the fact the State's papers were not in order, and that they had not furnished the defence with the indictment papers they were required to do so by law. The Attorney General had it in his gift to show leniency and allow bail conditions to remain, but chose not to.
The MDC-T disengagement seemed to remove the last vestiges of Zanu PF restraint brought about by the GPA, and the month of October spiralled into Zanu PF sponsored lawlessness. Reports have emerged this month of hundreds of opposition supporting rural villagers being denied food unless they denounce the MDC parties; Zanu PF militants have been moving around the Mudzi area forcibly recruiting youths to join the 'green bomber' militia - Zanu PF MP Newten Kachepa is reportedly playing a lead role in the recruitment. And two Zimbabwe Election Support Network officials were arrested in Hwange's Dete area, for allegedly conducting a public outreach workshop without police clearance.
Partisan corruption was prevalent in the education sector in October. MDC-T supporting students who were awarded scholarships to study at Fort Hare, in South Africa, have had their funding withdrawn because of their political beliefs. The Presidential Scholarship programme, using taxpayers money, is meant to help disadvantaged students but is widely believed to favour students aligned to the Zanu PF party. The Basic Education Assistance Module (BEAM) another government fund established to help children from poorer backgrounds has also been contaminated by Zanu PF partisanship. Selection forms for the BEAM programme were being distributed by the Zanu PF local ward chairperson, David Mpala, and MDC supporting parents were having difficulty accessing the forms. The Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) has reported that teachers in rural schools are being intimidated and forced to pay money to the Zanu PF leadership in their areas - they have been told that this is to go towards funding Zanu PF members who want to attend the party's December conference.
But it is the upsurge in violence that is the most alarming. The PTUZ reported that youth militia loyal to Zanu PF have once again gone on a rampage against rural school teachers. In Chiweshe, fifty homes of known MDC supporters were burned down by the youth militia, the residents were forced to leave their homes and have sought refuge in neighbouring areas. A losing MDC candidate during last year's elections was severely assaulted with logs, sticks and stones by youth militia in the Makoni South area. He was left for dead.
Abductions, unlawful arrests and torture have taken place again, a frightening reminder of the State-sanctioned abductions last year. Suspected armed CIO agents tried to abduct Edith Mashayire, the MDC-T's security administrator, in broad daylight. She fought off her attackers but Pascal Gwezere, the MDC-T Transport Manager was less fortunate: he was abducted outside his home by military intelligence officers, Central Intelligence Organisation operatives, detectives from Law and Order, Police Internal Security Intelligence (PISI) and 15 police officers who were in anti-riot gear. Gwezere was tortured and later denied medical treatment despite clear signs of injuries.
Atrocities in the farming area continue unabated. There is no rule of law. The rural areas are subjected to Zanu PF loyalists, including the political elite, shamelessly scrabbling to grab what they can in an orgy of greed, using whatever means possible. Brigadier General Mujaji has stolen maize from Charles Lock's farm in Karoi. There was nothing subtle about his theft: the Brigadier used an estimated seven 30 tonne trucks to transport crops he did not own and played no part in growing. Mujaji is also accused of deploying soldiers under his command to forcibly displace workers from their homes: three women were raped and property was looted.
Jacob Chiripanyanga, a self styled 'war veteran' used an iron bar to viciously assault three people at Foothills farm in Bindura - he too was using violence in an attempt to forcibly displace all farm workers that he considered loyal to the MDC parties. Pinsi Tauro sustained serious head injuries and was unconscious for one and a half hours.
Five people were shot with rubber bullets on Friedewal Farm, Chinhoyi, leaving two of them hospitalised and seriously injured. Reports also emerged of workers on the farm being blasted with shot-gun pellets and assaulted with wire and sticks by thugs loyal to Edward Mashiringwani, the Deputy Governor of the Reserve Bank - he is the man ultimately responsible for coordinating the atrocities on the farm in his attempt to take over the remaining piggeries. The police response was a farce: six of the Friedewal farm workers were arrested and charged with inciting public violence.
The last vestiges of pretence that the 'land reform' programme is about 'equity' and 'addressing historical wrong doings' dissolves in the light of the case of Luke Tembani. Rather than showcase Mr Tembani as a pioneering black commercial farmer who started farming in the early 1980s and went on to build a school for people living in the area, elements in the Zanu PF government have ignored a SADC Tribunal ruling protecting Mr Tembani and his family, and evicted him from his farm.
The month of October culminated in a major diplomatic incident, with the deportation of Manfred Nowak, the UN special rapporteur on torture. Mr Nowak, who had been officially invited to come to the country, had his invitation cancelled at the last minute while he was mid-journey in Johannesburg. He was subsequently refused entry into Zimbabwe and deported. He said: "I have never been treated as rudely by any government as the government of Zimbabwe". This shameful action will only serve to confirm the pariah status of a country still held hostage by lawless corrupt thugs, a perception that yet again undermines investor confidence and with it Zimbabwean citizens' hope for economic recovery.
These incidents are a small sample of some of the breaches of the GPA that have taken place in October. Robert Mugabe's declaration that Zanu PF has "fulfilled everything that the GPA wanted us to fulfil" must be called what it is: an outrageous and bare-faced lie.