Zimbabwe report : Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition

Originally published


Foreword by Archbishop Pius A. Ncube
Executive summary
NEPAD's Commitment to Democracy and Good Governance
  • The pledge
  • Steps to achieve objectives
  • Democracy and Political Governance Initiative
  • Censure of deviation from democratic ideals in other countries
  • Application of NEPAD standards to Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe: A Test Case for NEPAD
  • Introduction
  • Political Violence and Intimidation
    2000 to 2001
    Violence before and during Presidential election
    Violence and intimidation after Presidential election
  • Presidential Election
    Confiscation and Destruction of Identity Cards
    Interference with Political Campaigning
    Pre-Election Pressure from Service Chiefs
    State-controlled Media
    Manipulating Electoral Processes
  • Independence of the Judiciary
    Intimidation of the Judiciary and Packing of the Supreme Court
    The High Court
    Magistrates Courts
  • Attacks on Press Freedom
  • The Land Crisis
  • Economic Consequences
    Gross Domestic Product and Incomes
    Other Macro-economic Figures
    Agricultural Production and the Food Crisis
  • Social Consequences
  • Annexure 1: Extract from NEPAD Document
  • Annexure 2: Extract from Election Petition: Mutoko South
  • Annexure 3: Cases of Violence: March - May 2002
  • Annexure 4: Cases of Post-election Torture
  • Annexure 5: Section 158 of the Electoral Act
  • Annexure 6: Vote-rigging in the Presidential Election
  • Annexure 7: Allocation of Seized Farms
  • Annexure 8: Politicisation of Food Programme

Zimbabwe is suffering a very painful time. I commend the organizations that have put together this report, which accurately describes life in Zimbabwe at present.

In the past two years, I have been greatly disheartened to watch the people of Zimbabwe suffer hunger, violence, and pain, and ultimately to watch this swell into anger as their hopes for peace and basic democratic freedoms have been frustrated.

I have witnessed these realities. Over the last two years I have seen a steady deterioration of respect for human dignity and rights in Zimbabwe. In the past two months, I have known of a number of persons who have died of hunger right here in my city. We have seen police and militia threaten, intimidate, and sometimes attack unarmed civilian protesters. We have spoken out, only to be threatened and attacked ourselves.

Writing a report such as this one, by the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, carries great risks. Those risks must be borne by us all if we are to find a more peaceful path into the future.

I pray that readers of this report will do their utmost to assist in stopping the unnecessary suffering that has been brought on this fine land. May God move you to act quickly and decisively.

Pius A. Ncube
Archbishop of Bulawayo, Zimbabwe
June 2002


Joint responsibility of NEPAD participants for good governance in Africa

African leaders who participate in the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) accept that democracy, good governance, human rights and sound economic management are essential for sustainable development. They therefore undertake joint responsibility for promoting and protecting democracy and human rights in their countries and regions.

NEPAD will succeed only if participating leaders are ready to monitor fellow-participants and ensure the restoration of good governance in any African country that has departed from international norms of democracy and state legitimacy.

Zimbabwe, whose government has departed from most of those norms, is a test case for NEPAD.

Political violence and intimidation in Zimbabwe

Serious political violence and intimidation in Zimbabwe began in early 2000 and has reached unacceptable levels.

The violence began with invasions of commercial farms and has become widespread, particularly in the rural areas. Since January 2002, 57 people have been killed, 26 "disappeared" and more than 450 tortured. Thousands have been forced to flee their homes areas.

Ninety per cent of the violence has been perpetrated by ZANU (PF) supporters or State security agents, with encouragement from leading members of the government.

The Presidential election

The Presidential election was neither free nor fair, and met none of the standards set by the SADC Parliamentary Forum.

There were many reasons why the election was vitiated, apart from the prevailing violence. The police prevented the opposition MDC from holding rallies; the heads of the security forces made it clear they would not accept the opposition candidate if he won the election; the State-controlled media ran a propaganda campaign in favour of Mr Mugabe; and the government manipulated the electoral law extensively in Mr Mugabe's favour. In addition, the voters' roll was a shambles and many voters were effectively disenfranchised; urban dwellers, most of whom supported the opposition candidate, were discouraged from voting through restrictions in the number of polling stations; and the number of independent observers allowed to monitor the election was severely limited. Finally, there were indications of vote-rigging on a large scale.

All this calls into question the legitimacy of the government.

Attacks on the judicial independence

The composition of Zimbabwe's Supreme Court, which had come into conflict with the government through its championing of human rights, has been changed to favour the government. Pressure was placed on judges to resign and the Chief Justice was made to retire early. New judges have been appointed, giving the court a pro-government aspect. This is reflected in several of its judgments, in particular a judgment that upheld the legality of the government's land reform programme, which the previous court had held to be unconstitutional.

In the High Court several independent judges have resigned and have been replaced with appointees viewed as sympathetic to the government.

Attacks on press freedom

A new law, the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, requires journalists to be accredited with a government-appointed commission; foreign journalists may be accredited only for short periods.

The Act also makes it a criminal offence for a journalist to "falsify or fabricate information" or to "publish falsehoods" intentionally or otherwise. At least 11 journalists have been arrested for this crime. The stories which have given rise to their arrest range from one that alleged the Presidential election was rigged to one that purported to describe conditions in the police holding cells where the journalist concerned was kept during a previous arrest.

The Act also requires all media organisations to be registered with a government-appointed commission which has power to revoke their registration on relatively trivial grounds. This poses an additional threat to the independent press in Zimbabwe.

The land crisis

Farm invasions, which began in 2000, have continued and have been accompanied by the compulsory acquisition of commercial farms under an Act of Parliament which has been amended to render the acquisition process increasingly unfair and arbitrary. The land programme itself has been anarchic and accompanied by considerable violence, leading to the unlawful eviction of farmers and their workers. Approximately 95 per cent of commercial farms have been seized or are in the process of being seized.

Many beneficaries of the land programme are not landless peasants but Ministers and other senior government officials and prominent supporters of the ruling party.

The economic and social consequences

The violence and anarchy, together with reckless economic policies and widespread corruption, have devastated the Zimbabwean economy. Gross domestic product has declined 14 per cent in real terms in four years and is forecast to fall by 12 per cent this year. Unemployment is estimated at up to 60 per cent and inflation is over 100 per cent.

Agricultural production has decreased to such an extent that Zimbabwe faces a severe and unprecedented food crisis, with nearly half the population needing emergency food aid. Destitution is widespread, with over 74 per cent of the population living below the poverty-datum line.

There has been a serious exodus of skilled people seeking better lives elsewhere.


The violence, lawlessness and repression in Zimbabwe represent a disaster for the whole southern African region. Despite this, neighbouring countries appear reluctant even to express open criticisism of the Zimbabwean government.

They have the means to influence events in Zimbabwe; whether they do so will be an indication of the seriousness of their commitments in NEPAD to good governance, democracy and state legitimacy.

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The CRISIS IN ZIMBABWE COALITION consists of the eight major civil society coalitions in Zimbabwe, namely the National Constitutional Assembly, the Zimbabwe Election Support Network, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, the Women's Coalition, Media Institute of Southern Africa - Zimbabwe Chapter, Transparency International - Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe National Students Union, and the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum. These coalitions collectively represent over five hundred civil society groups. Two hundred and fifty of these individual organizations are also directly affiliated to the Crisis Coalition. The aim of the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition is to amplify the collective voice of civil society in Zimbabwe