The harassment of justice: A tale of a tale


A couple of months ago, I published “The Story of Beatrice Mtetwa-A Red Herring’ in which I posed a number of theories pertaining to Beatrice’s arrest. One of them was that Beatrice’s arrest was an intimidation tactic by state agents of all citizens who would wish to take the same stand as Beatrice; i.e. the stand to fight against any injustice visited upon individuals who are fighting for human rights and fundamental freedoms of citizens. I emphasised that Beatrice’s persecution and vilification was meant as an example calculated to ensure that sufficient fear was planted in all of us so that whoever doesn’t toe the correct political line, will face the full wrath of those in power, under the guise of the law.

This theory seems the most relevant given the continued onslaught that the state has launched against Beatrice. This blog however seeks not to over-analyse the reasons behind the onslaught but rather to give an update of how this case has proceeded.

  •  17 March: Beatrice Mtetwa was arrested in Avondale. On arrest she was charged with obstructing or defeating the course of justice in contravention of Section 184 (1) (g) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.
  • 18 March: at exactly 0151 a.m.  High Court Judge Charles Hungwe, from his home, ordered Beatrice’s immediate release. He argued that there was no basis for her continued detention since the allegations laid against Beatrice did not reveal a criminal offence.
  • 18 March: around 0230 a.m. Beatrice’s lawyers served Justice Hungwe’s order on officers at Rhodesville police station. The police officers refused to release Beatrice.
  • 18 March: Beatrice’s lawyers lodged an application in the High Court stating that the refusal by the police to enforce Justice Hungwe’s order was in contempt of court.
  • 18 March: Beatrice was told that she would appear in court on 19 March and based on this information her lawyers withdrew their application.
  • 18 March: Justice Hlatshwayo dealt with the withdrawn application and dismissed it with no reasons given.
  • 19 March: Beatrice appeared before Magistrate, Marehwanazvo Gofa, at Rotten Row Magistrates Court represented by Advocate Thabani Mpofu to determine her remand conditions. Advocate Mpofu argued that this hearing should not have been done in the Magistrates Court since an order of the High Court a more superior court had already granted Beatrice’s release.
  • 19 March: Advocate Mpofu argued that Beatrice had not been treated well in police custody because in the dead of the night, on 18 March two male police officers entered Beatrice’s detention cell at Rhodesville Police Station and attempted to uncover her from her blankets. Beatrice feared that she might be raped.  Further, she had not been allowed to bath since her arrest.
  • 19 March: the Magistrate ruled that the case was rightly before the Magistrates Court because the issue of her placement on remand was separate from the issue of her detention in police custody.
  • 19 March: Beatrice’s lawyers proceeded to request that she be remanded out of custody and gave reasons why she should be granted bail including that she is a highly reputable and established lawyer, with no criminal record.
  • 19 March: the Prosecution requested an adjournment to respond to Beatrice’s lawyers’ argument and the Magistrate adjourned the case to 20 March 2013.
  • 20 March: the State argued that Beatrice should not be granted bail because the charges she was facing were very serious, that she would likely abscond because she had a foreign passport, or that she would interfere with investigations if released and that her release would set a dangerous precedent. “Anarchy would prevail”, they argued.
  • 20 March: Magistrate Gofa bought into the prosecutor’s argument and dismissed Beatrice’s bail application and remanded her in custody to 3 April.
  • 21 March: Beatrice’s lawyers appealed this decision in High Court.
  • 22 March: Justice Joseph Musakwa heard the appeal.
  • 22 March: State requested adjournment of the appeal to ‘allow time to submit their response.’ Justice Musakwa agreed to the adjournment and set down the appeal hearing for 25 March.
  • 25 March: Justice Musakwa granted Beatrice $500 bail setting aside the Magistrate’s on the basis that Beatrice’s reputation was too great to be ignored and that the police had not shown how much of the investigation was left to be “interfered with.”
  • 3 April: Beatrice appeared before Donald Ndirowei for a routine remand hearing. Magistrate Ndirowei postponed the matter to 8 April to allow the State to determine a trial date and her lawyers to challenge her being remanded.
  • 5 April: the prosecution served Beatrice with papers setting out their case against her.  The prosecutors added fresh allegations against Beatrice.  The fresh allegations stated that on top of saying “Stop whatever you are doing, it’s unconstitutional, illegal and undemocratic,” as was the case in the initial charge, Beatrice had also said “You confused cockroaches”  “Murimbwa dzaMugabe” i.e. “You are Mugabe’s dogs” and that she had conducted herself in an ‘indecent’ manner when she threatened to relieve herself in a public place.The case named nine witnesses set to testify. These were:
  • Chief Superintendent-Luckson Mukazhi
  • Detective Assistant Inspector-Wilfred Chibage
  • Detective Constable-Ngatirwe Mamizi
  • Detective Sergeant-Taizivei Tembo
  • Assistant Inspector-Thabani Nkomo
  • Chido Chawanikwa-a police officer
  • Stembiwe Vera-a caretaker at Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s research and development office
  • Brian Mutusva-a computer technician in the Prime Minister’s Office and
  • Zororai Mudariki-a driver.
  • 8 April: Beatrice appeared in the magistrates’ court. The state’s case was led by Tawanda Zvekare, Acting Director of Public Prosecutions in the Attorney General’s Office, assisted by Michael Mugabe, a chief law officer.
  • 8 April: Beatrice was remanded on bail and the case was adjourned to 27 May when the trial was expected to begin.
  • 27 May: Beatrice’s case was set to start at Rotten Row Magistrates Court presided over by Magistrate Tendai Mahwe. The trial failed to start on time because Tawanda Zvekare, the Acting Director of Public Prosecutions in the Attorney General’s Office and Michael Mugabe, the chief law officer who were leading the prosecution did not arrive at the court on time. The trial was also delayed because the designated courtroom did not have the necessary equipment to record the proceedings. Then when eventually a courtroom with equipment was found, power went off.
  • 27 May: Magistrate Tendai Mahwe postponed Beatrice’ trial to 8 June 2013.
  • 8 June: Magistrate Tendai Mahwe recused himself from presiding over Beatrice’s trial after she had filed an application for such recusal stating that Magistrate Mahwe had already heard the testimony that her witness would give in another case.
  • 10 June: Beatrice’s trial kicked off at Rotten Row Magistrates Court presided over by Magistrate Rumbidzai Mugwagwa. She was represented by her lawyer, Harrison Nkomo. Beatrice pleaded not guilty to charges of defeating or obstructing the course of justice.
  • 10 June: Magistrate Rumbidzai Mugwagwa postponed Beatrice’s trial to Saturday 15 June 2013 to allow her lawyer to attend to some other matters in the High Court.
  • Meanwhile the trial continues with hearings held each Saturday and we wait to hear what the final verdict will be.

Anomalies with this case

  • Arrest of a legal practitioner while conducting her duties;
  • Contempt of court by police officers ignoring a High Court order;
  • Retrial by the Magistrates Court of an issue that had already been decided by a higher court;
  • Harassment of a High Court Judge for ordering the release of an upright human rights defender;
  • Display of political intolerance and disregard for constitutional and legal guarantees of freedom and rights of citizens.

**** If convicted, Beatrice stands to serve a maximum penalty of either a fine of $400 or 2 years’ imprisonment, or both fine and imprisonment. ****

 Acknowledgement goes to Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, Sokwanele, Veritas, Kubatana and a few other independent sources of information for the information resources used to compile this update.

Justice in Action


The trial of Thabani Mpofu, a researcher in MDC Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s office, on charges of failing to renew a firearm licence and failure to keep the firearm in a secure place, are an eye opener for anyone who has not seen Zimbabwe’s criminal justice system at work at first hand.

The State prosecutors, the police and the presiding magistrate sitting at a Harare court have shown an alarming ignorance as to the requirements for the issuance of a valid search warrant and an equal ignorance as to the requirements for the lawful execution of the same.

During the proceedings, the State witnesses all claimed that the search they conducted of Thabani Mpofu’s premises and which led to the charges, was one for documentation Mr. Mpofu is alleged to have gathered relating to corruption by senior government officials. These witnesses, all police officers, were unable to tell the court what offence arises from the possession of such documentation. Furthermore, the search warrant that the police issued to themselves and which purported to authorise the search, makes no mention of any documents of this nature and thus could not justify their seizure.

However, undeterred by these legal niceties, the police proceeded to search Mr. Mpofu’s premises in the hope, it was stated in court, of being able to uncover an offence. They thought that hope was realised when they discovered a firearm, for which the licence had allegedly expired, in a built-in wall cupboard. The police proceeded to arrest Mr. Mpofu on the basis that the firearm was not kept in a safe weighing at least 50kgs or in a gun cabinet. These two places, the police claimed, are the only safe places in which a firearm might be kept securely in terms of the law. In fact, the Firearms Regulations (of which the police seemed to be unaware) specifically define a wall cupboard as one of several possible secure places, provided the cupboard has doors and a strong lock. The police made no attempt to ascertain whether the wall cupboard met these specifications. Two police detectives claimed not to be able to remember whether the cupboard had doors at all. Mr. Mpofu thus appears to have been arrested on a charge which had not even been investigated.

This leaves the alleged failure to renew a firearm licence – a trivial, technical offence which, according to a Schedule of Fines maintained by the police themselves, attracts a $5.00 fine.

Despite the minor nature of this alleged infringement of the Act, not one, but three Public Prosecutors have been lined up to try to secure Mr. Mpofu’s conviction. Seven police officers have spent over a week milling around the court to be available to give evidence and observe the proceedings when it is hoped that they have better things to do. Members of the public attending the trial were questioned by the ZRP at the police post within the magistrates court as to who they were and why they were at the court. Personal details were carefully and pointedly recorded. The police officers were genuinely confused when asked what right they had to question those attending the trial. The response was that as police officers they could question whoever they want whenever and wherever they want. All other matters that were pending or in progress before the court have been swept aside to make way for this trial.

So why has so much of the State’s human and financial resources (and we need to add to that mentioned already, the salaries of the magistrate, the court orderly, the prison officer and interpreter in attendance) been mobilised to secure a conviction in a $5.00 offence – one which is usually dealt with by way of an “admission of guilt fine” at the local police station?

Early in the proceedings, Defence Counsel argued that the chief prosecutor in the case had a grave conflict of interest. He had been named as one of the people who is a subject of the documentation pertaining to corruption complied by Mr. Mpofu and which inspired the search of Mr. Mpofu’s premises during which the firearm was discovered. This, apparently, is not the motivation for the massive deployment of State resources against Mr. Mpofu. The magistrate ruled that no such conflict of interest exists.

So what then, is the reason for this huge drain on the tax payer’s pocket? Only those who do not believe that policing, the workings of the Attorney-General’s Office and the criminal justice system are in dire need of reform, are left scratching their heads for an answer.

Can’t say No?


The constitution making process has revealed the utter contempt with which Zimbabwe’s politicians treat the electorate, from Operation Chimumumu of the outreach programme, to insulting our intelligence by constantly claiming that the document they have presented as the proposed new constitution reflects the people views, rather than being the result of inter-party negotiation, and then allowing insufficient time for most people to consider the substance of the draft.

 

Should, however, one reject the draft simply to punish the politicians for this arrogance and to demonstrate that the electorate refuses to be treated so shoddily? On the other hand, if, regardless of the process which produced it, a brilliant document has been prepared is one not being churlish and shooting one’s self in the foot by rejecting the draft? Hardly. Even the proponents of a “yes” vote concede that the document is a poor thing (but their own), the best they could do under the circumstances. It is, we are told, nonetheless “incremental progress” and we should thus vote “yes”.

 

We have heard this argument before. We were told that the Constitutional Commission’s draft of 2000 was progress and we should thus vote “yes”. But the people voted “no” because the draft did not achieve that which they had set as their objective, to reduce the vast powers of the President.

 

We were also told to support the GPA because, although the accord left Mugabe’s vast powers intact, it was the best that could be obtained under the circumstances, was incremental progress and was the means by which the integrity of the electoral process could be restored. A new constitution was presented as one of the instruments by which this would be accomplished.

 

This being the stated intention behind the constitution making process, the draft should be rejected on this ground alone. Its provisions will do nothing to restore the integrity of the electoral process. Certainly it contains hopeful clauses stipulating that elections “must be peaceful, free and fair, free from violence and other electoral malpractices” and that “neither the security services nor any of their members may, in the exercise of their functions act in a partisan manner; further the interests of any political party or cause; prejudice the lawful interests of any political party or cause; or violate the fundamental rights and freedoms of any person.” But the constitution very deliberately fails to include any remedy or steps that can be taken if there is no compliance with these provisions. They are thus little more than pretty window dressing designed to allow politicians to tell the naïve that the draft is not all bad.

 

If the new constitution was to address the issue of electoral integrity, then this was the moment to attend to institutional reform, particularly the partisan nature of the criminal justice process and security sector which has played a key role in subverting democratic choice in the past. The MDC politicians proudly tell those who have felt or fear the double whammy of the combined operations of the Commissioner-General of Police and Attorney-General, that this problem has now been addressed. The Attorney-General will no longer be in charge of prosecutions. This will now be done by a Prosecutor-General. They fail to mention that the draft specifically provides that the current Attorney-General, Johannes Tomana, will be the new Prosecutor-General, that the President has the ultimate power to determine his successor in any event and that Chihuri will remain in his post. Hence, rather than addressing partisanship in the application of the criminal justice system, the draft is carefully drawn to ensure that it continues. Similar criticism can be directed at the problem of security sector governance. To make the point, one need only take note of one of many adverse provisions: while in democracies the operations of the intelligence services are governed and regulated by statute, the draft again specifically includes a clause to ensure that this does not happen and allows the intelligence services to remain the unregulated plaything of the President and to be used for party political purposes.

 

The “yes” proponents either obfuscate these issues or ask us to focus on the “incremental gains” reflected in the draft. The incremental gains appear predominantly in the unquestionably greatly improved Declaration of Rights. Its provisions are better for women. Gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, transgender and inter-sex rights are also given strong support, albeit not by name. There is improved freedom of expression in the media, etc.

 

These “incremental gains” in the Declaration of Rights do nothing to encourage a “yes” vote. They require an uncompromised and uncompromising judiciary and legislative reform to be realised. Contrary to the basic principle of the separation of powers, the draft ensures that the head of the executive retains control over both the judiciary and the legislature. Although there is an improved system of advertising for positions and the public interview of candidates for judicial office, if the President does not like the nominees that emerge from the process, he can by-pass this process and select candidates he finds more amenable. Similarly, the draft retains the President’s power over the legislature. Egregiously, under the present constitution the legislature consists of Parliament and the President who has the power to veto legislation. This is retained under the draft. Certainly, a two-thirds majority in Parliament can override the Presidential veto. But this is highly unlikely to happen in practice. The President is elected at the same time as the Members of Parliament. It is thus improbable that Parliament will comprise enough members opposed to the President, or of a different party, to counter his or her veto.

 

The “yes” and “incremental gain” proponents also disingenuously claim that once they win the elections they will amend the constitution to attend to these problems. But any constitutional amendment will require a two-thirds majority in favour in both Houses of Parliament. The current political configuration suggests that neither party is likely to be able to muster this majority. Hence, once the draft is accepted, the constitution making chapter will be closed and we will be stuck with a document that none regard as satisfactory for the foreseeable future. Politicians from the winning party, which ever that may be, are likely to be comfortable with the overweening powers of the President, even if the electorate is not. A “no” vote will keep the constitution making process alive, which might then continue under more favourable conditions, with a different balance of political power, at a later date. The GPA only requires that there be a referendum on the constitution before the elections – not that a new constitution be in place by then. So why the rush to bring the constitution making process to an end?

 

The rush is because the draft constitution provides a convenient fig leaf for SADC’s ineffectiveness and anaemic responses in the face of ZANU PF’s refusal to affect the reforms necessary for a credible election. None of the essential reforms necessary for the integrity of the electoral process have been implemented during the course of the GNU.  It also provides a convenient escape route for SADC, facing yet another flawed election in Zimbabwe. SADC has already started preparing the claim that although “not all” the reforms provided for by the GPA were implemented at least the election was conducted under a new constitution – an approach which delights ZANU PF. From there will follow the non-sequitur, (based on the off key refrain that a new constitution will protect the integrity of the electoral process) that the vote substantially reflects the will of the people and the poll is thus acceptable. A “no” vote will strip away this fig leaf and close this escape route for SADC. The narrow democratic space in which the elections will undoubtedly be conducted will thus be there for all to see.

 

The advantages of a “no” vote are thus readily apparent. It requires one to peer very closely at the draft through thick rose tinted glasses to discern any advantages accruing from a “yes” vote.

 

Derek Matyszak 05.03.13

 

 

5 Reasons why this woman is voting “Yes” in the Constitutional Referendum


Today we are using a piece by Teresa Mugadza which she wants disseminated widely. Leading up to the referendum on 16 March we will continue to put both our researcher’s views on the new Constitution and any others we feel may be interesting.

I want to start with a disclaimer. First, I do not represent anyone but myself and therefore my views are myopic to the extent that I represent my selfish interests. Second, I am a functionary of the inclusive government as a Commissioner, so I am sure there are some that will perceive me to be compromised just by that station. I, however, believe that this does not and should not preclude me from voicing my position as a Zimbabwean woman. Further, I am persuaded that after having read the Draft Constitution I owe it to fellow women, to state why I have chosen to vote “YES”.

Now having dispensed with the disclaimer, I must also hasten to add, that my decision to vote “YES” is not in any way to suggest that I do not have any issues related to the formulation of the Draft Constitution or the processes related to the forthcoming Referendum. I do… starting with the fact that I honestly do not believe that the process leading to the Draft Constitution itself was as participatory as it could have been. I am of the firm view that women were not heard to the extent they should have been. There is ample evidence of this from the COPAC reports. In terms of the forthcoming Constitutional Referendum itself, I am of the view that the time given for dissemination and analysis of the Draft Constitution to Zimbabweans is too short. I am not persuaded that exactly 30 days is adequate time for the kind of reading of the Draft Constitution that citizens need in order to make informed decisions on the day of the Referendum itself.  Finally I am not persuaded that the Draft Constitution will be circulated as widely as it should be before the Referendum. This could very well mean that people may end up voting for a Draft Constitution they have neither seen nor read and sadly in some instances, for a document whose contents they do not understand.

Now having dispensed with the preliminary issues, I want to go into why I am voting “Yes”.

  1. I am a firm believer in participation. One of my good friends likes to say “decisions are made by those that participate”, and I totally subscribe to that idea. I have voted in every election and referendum since I became eligible to vote, and this Referendum is going to be no exception. I will vote because I want to participate in what I believe is a very important and historic process in Zimbabwe’s democracy. Especially given that this process that will lead to the winding up of the inclusive government; something that everyone knows is long overdue!
  2. I do not want my rights to continue being determined by the Lancaster House Constitution. Voting “NO” would mean continuing under the current constitution. Never mind that my interests [even minimally] were never represented at its crafting; the current constitution limits my rights as woman, provides for my discrimination in certain instances and does not guarantee my right to participate in public life. Remember the notorious Section 23(3)? Given what I know is possible from the Draft Constitution; I have no reason to support the continuance of a constitution that discriminates against me!
  3. I am convinced that the Draft Constitution presents an opportunity for greater accountability in the exercise of power, something that is absent in the current Constitution.  Thus I will vote “YES” to ensure that the opportunity to encourage accountability is not lost.
  4. As stated earlier, I have had the privilege of reading the Draft Constitution. While indeed there are areas that could and should be improved in the future, I think the Draft Constitution has some very good provisions for women viz;
  • The Draft Constitution provides for the supremacy of the constitution over all other laws and policies, which means guarantee of women’s rights at the highest level.
  • The Draft Constitution is very clear that any law, policy, custom or tradition in violation of the guaranteed rights of women is unconstitutional.
  • The objectives of the Draft Constitution state that the provisions of the constitution will among other things promote the full participation of women in all spheres of life, recognizing women’s right to work and the fact that the work women do in raising a family is work. Importantly, the objectives also stress the importance of prevention of domestic violence and promotion of the girl child’s right to education.
  • The right to citizenship now applies on similar and equal criteria to women and men.
  • The bill of rights under the Draft Constitution is protected by law, comprehensive and even provides for expansion of those rights to include rights protected under international law.
  • The Draft Constitution provides for enhanced access to information and increases the grounds upon which one can claim access to information held by the State.
  • The Draft Constitution provides for equality in the guardianship and custody of children.
  • The Draft Constitution guarantees the right to equal pay and maternity leave.
  • The Draft Constitution provides for guaranteed “affirmative action” seats for women in Parliament, in addition to the ones those women wishing to contest will also have.
  • The Draft Constitution provides that the executive power is exercised through Cabinet subject to the Constitution, again reaffirming the supremacy of the Constitution over any law or policy.
  1. Finally, I am a woman so I don’t forget easily. There are two things I learnt in a similar process many years ago… also known as the 2000 Referendum.  First, I voted “NO” then, and the situation in my personal space and our nation worsened. I believe this is an opportunity to redeem myself. Second, as a woman, I think it is criminal for any nation to spend the amount and extent of resources [financial, human and time] as has been the case in the Constitutional Reform processes in Zimbabwe, twice in 12 years!, and still have nothing to show for it.

So for the above reasons, plus the many other positive and progressive provisions in the Draft Constitution that I have not addressed here, I am voting “YES”! I also hope my reasons for voting “YES” can inspire conversations on this Draft Constitution and encourage more women to participate in the Referendum.

Teresa Mugadza is the Deputy Chairperson of the Zimbabwe Anti-corruption Commission. She is writing in her in personal capacity and the views expressed in this article are her own.

 

Displacements: Old Wine in New Bottles


Over the decades, forced displacement has been frequently used in Zimbabwe as a political weapon. During the Liberation War, hundreds of thousands of rural Zimbabweans were forced from their homes and into “keeps”, so-called “protected villages”, in order to prevent their support for the freedom fighters. It is a tactic that has been repeatedly used subsequently since 2000, with Operation Murambatsvina the most notorious of the many examples.

However, it is not so evident to many that there has massive displacement, probably exceeding that of Operation Murambatsvina [OM], under the land reform process begun in 2000. This displacement has not been as overtly dramatic as OM, but has permanently displaced many more than under OM.

It is certainly the case that the displacement of the white commercial farmers has received huge media coverage whilst that of the black commercial farmworkers has not received anything like the same attention.

RAU has been examining the effects of displacement over the past 5 years, and issued a number of reports on this, as well as a documentary that has received critical appreciation. The report and the film on the effects of displacement on the commercial farm workers can be found by following the links below:

GAPWUZ (2009), If something wrong…The invisible suffering of commercial farm workers and their families due to “land reform”. Report prepared by the Research & Advocacy Unit and the Justice for Agriculture Trust. November 2009. HARARE: GENERAL AGRICULTURAL AND PLANTATION WORKERS UNION OF ZIMBABWE.

 

[http://www.researchandadvocacyunit.org/index.php?option=com_docman&task=doc_download&gid=142&Itemid=90]

 

RAU (2009), “House of Justice”. 26 minute documentary on the SADC Tribunal and current farm invasions in contempt of the ruling. HARARE: RESEARCH & ADVOCACY UNIT.

[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AqOjiq19rHk].

 

JAG/GAPWUZ (2007), DESTRUCTION OF ZIMBABWE’S BACKBONE INDUSTRY IN PURSUIT OF POLITICAL POWER. A qualitative report on events in Zimbabwe’s commercial farming sector since the year 2000. Report prepared by the Justice for Agriculture Trust [JAG] & the General Agricultural and Plantation Workers Union of Zimbabwe [GAPWUZ]. April 2008. HARARE: JUSTICE FOR AGRICULTURE TRUST.

 

[http://www.researchandadvocacyunit.org/index.php?option=com_docman&task=doc_download&gid=142&Itemid=90]

 

Women, Stand up for your rights!


On Saturday the 24th of November the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, Gender and Community Development officially launched the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence. The 16 days kicked off with a three day fair at which different organisations that offer services to victims of gender-based violence show-cased their work. The aura at the launch was inspiring. Men and women who understand the destructive nature of gender-based violence gathered to demand “Peace in the Home and Peace in the Community.”  Artists such as  Sniper ‘gweta remabhebhi, ’Albert Nyati, Tererai Mugwadi and others also graced the occasion to add their voices to the demand for an end to gender-based violence. The MC, a lively man, kept the crowd roaring with laughter but underneath all the humour his message stood out loud and clear that people should love their partners and not abuse them.

Often, around the 16 days, many comments are raised about how women are not the only victims yet all the attention is on them, why women do not leave if they are in abusive relationships, and about what women may have done to deserve a beating from their partners. These comments are condescending  because one can never know what it feels like to be beaten senseless or to be genuinely petrified of the man you said ‘I do’ to. Many women are caught in a web of violence and do not know where or how to get help.

The fair gave some women access to legal services to get protection orders and others knowledge about the location of safe houses when the need arises. The fair provided a space for all citizens to understand that violence is unacceptable as well as to know where to go to seek help.

We often hear arguments that the women’s movement in Zimbabwe died a natural death. However whether that is an altogether accurate assertion cannot be proved more wrong  than by the woman who was chased out of her house and had some lawyers fight for her or by the woman who was beaten every day and didn’t have anywhere to go but found an organisation that gave her shelter and counselling to enable her to be alive today.

Although these efforts may not be as comprehensive as is required, they are significant to the thousands of women without which there would have been no assistance at all.So when we talk of the 16 days of activism, it is not a time for ‘bitter women to rut against men’ as some may perceive it to be. It is a time to stand up against violence that has affected our society, because be it a sister, a neighbour or a friend of a friend we must say no to  gender-based violence!

Policing and the Zimbabwean Constitution.


In a recent report issued by our sister organisation IDASA in conjunction with RAU, the reforms needed to implement an effective police force in Zimbabwe are outlined. Here is an extract from this report:

Policing that is guided by appropriate and democratic principles enables people to live with a sense of physical security and in the absence of fear. Such policing is:
– Subject to the rule of law and to principles of accountability and transparency.
– Non-partisan politically and supportive of democratic political processes and institutions.
– Focused above all on providing policing services to, and upholding the safety of, ordinary
people.
– Carried out in terms of standards of integrity and respect for human rights.
– Integrates the recognition that police officers themselves are also citizens – though this
is subject to limitations related to their status as an “essential service” and intended to
ensure their political non-partisanship.

To read the full report follow this link:

http://www.idasa.org/media/uploads/outputs/files/policing_and_constitutional_reform_in_zimbabwe.pdf