Spell of the albino

Posted: December 13, 2011 in Uncategorized

Investigating the sinister trade in the body parts of murdered albinos in Tanzania.

Al-Jazeera-Albinism is a non-contagious, genetically inherited disorder, affecting about 1 in 20,000 men and women around the world, regardless of ethnicity and geographical location. Sufferers are afflicted by a congenital absence of melanin, a pigmentation defect in the hair, skin and eyes that causes vulnerability to sun exposure and bright light. Many have very poor vision as a consequence and in tropical countries especially they can be vulnerable to skin cancers if unprotected from the sun.

What albinism is absolutely not, is an indication that the afflicted person is any way invested with magical powers.

Though it might seem absurdly obvious, the point is worth stating so starkly because in parts of sub-Saharan Africa especially, albinos have traditionally faced discrimination and prejudice – innocent victims of a still widespread belief that the condition is in some way associated with the supernatural. To some, a white-skinned African person is seen as a kind of phantom or ghost, who rather than die will dissolve or disappear with the wind and rain. As a result, in some communities, albinos have been feared, shunned and socially marginalised.

Over the last five years in Tanzania, however, the situation has become much, much worse, with albinos increasingly subjected to murder and mutilation because of a completely spurious myth that albino body parts are effective in witchcraft rituals. Despite international outrage and repeated attempts by the Tanzanian government to stamp out this truly appalling practice, since it first came to light many albinos have been hunted down and attacked purely for their limbs and organs. Indeed the incidents seem to be increasing. Since 2008, at least 62 albinos have been killed in Tanzania, 16 have been violently assaulted and had their limbs amputated and the bodies of 12 albinos have been exhumed from graves and dismembered.

Against this background, it is perhaps not surprising that estimates of the numbers of albinos in Tanzania vary significantly. Officially there are around 5,000 registered, but the country’s Albino Association says the real number is in excess of 150,000. They say that many albinos are still kept hidden by their families because of the stigma some associate with the condition or because of fear that they might be attacked.

In this remarkable episode of Africa Investigates, Tanzanian journalist Richard Mgamba, albino community representative Isaack Timothy and Ghanaian investigative journalist Anas Aremeyaw Anas set out to discover what lies behind these sickening attacks and to uncover and confront some of those behind the grotesque trade in body parts for witchcraft rituals.

In the process they meet two albino children, victims of vicious assaults that occurred in the weeks the film was being made. One of them is a 12-year-old boy who had part of his hand cut off, allegedly with the connivance of his father who is now in police custody and awaiting trial. The other is a 16-year-old girl whose left arm was hacked off by a stranger with a machete.

But Anas, who goes undercover in the guise of a businessman seeking to get rich, also comes face to face with a witchdoctor who tries to sell him a potion containing ground up albino body parts. Not surprisingly, when the offer is made, Anas makes his abhorrence very plain.

Right from the start of this film, viewers may find some of the images disturbing.




PRIME Minister Morgan Tsvangirai says he was horrified by 2005 proposals discussed between Zanu PF and MDC MPs to push through constitutional amendments requiring presidential candidates to have university degrees.

Mr Morgan Tsvangirai

The modestly-educated MDC leader fears that the plan was designed to exclude him from running for President.

In a new book, ‘At the Deep End’, Tsvangirai points an accusing finger at Welshman Ncube, who was the party’s secretary general at the time.

He writes: “In June 2005, … as Zanu PF factions jostled for turf and supremacy, they kept reaching out to Ncube, our weak provinces and some of our members of parliament.

“Other events inside Zanu PF, emanating from parliament, concerned me. For instance, when Joice Mujuru became vice-president, the Women’s University conferred a degree on her in some dubious discipline, claiming she had done a course on a part-time basis and qualified. There was a clear reason for this.

“Soon enough, I was informed of attempts to push through a constitutional amendment requiring any future presidential aspirant to have earned an academic university degree, not merely to be in possession of an honorary one. At the time of Mujuru’s controversial selection, Mugabe had hinted that for her political advancement the sky was now the limit.”

Tsvangirai says the “proposed university degree requirement… was clearly designed to disqualify me from standing in future elections”.

He adds: “To my horror, I was told that the proposal originated from the MDC. I called in [Gibson] Sibanda to enquire about the development and what it meant. He was non-committal, advising me to check with David Coltart, our secretary for legal affairs, but he too was evasive, telling me that details of the Bill were on a compact disk somewhere.”

The degree requirement was later taken out before the Amendment reached parliament, but Tsvangirai says it was one of a chain of events leading up to a split in the party in October 2005.

Coltart has explained how the degree proposal came about.

He said: “A first draft of proposed constitutional amendments was produced by independent lawyers to reflect the views expressed by the people of Zimbabwe during the Constitutional Commission’s work. They were tasked with redrafting the Constitutional Commission constitution so that it reflected what the people wanted, as disclosed to commissioners during their ‘outreach’ programme in 2000.

The people’s views were detailed in the Commission’s report but many of them were ignored in the draft constitution which the Commission ultimately produced. One of the most widespread and strongly-held views was that there should not be an executive President: the executive arm of government should be under the control of a Prime Minister, while the President should have only ceremonial duties — smiling at people, patting children on the head, greeting foreign dignitaries, and so on.

At the same time, and rather inconsistently, the people felt that the President should have a university degree (see volume 1 of the Commission’s report, page 561). So when these lawyers redrafted the Commission’s constitution, they gave the President minimal powers, just enough to ensure the continuation of government from one administration to the next. They also put in the provision requiring the President to have a university degree.

They recognised that it was not entirely logical to impose academic qualifications on a person whose only real function was to be nice to people, but the qualifications were not completely incompatible with the post and putting them in would not make the constitution unworkable — and anyway it was what the people said they wanted. Hence that provision was put in.

Sheila Jarvis, a board member of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, was already working with others on Constitutional proposals in the lead up to Constitutional Amendment 17. Arnold Tsunga, the Director of ZLHR, and Sheila will confirm that they produced a very detailed package based on the original “What the people want” document – produced in the course of the Constitutional Commission’s work but ignored by it.

ZLHR produced this package for Parliamentarians based on that document. The lawyers’ work in redrafting was therefore not their own – it was based on the “What the people want document” and as far as I understand was part of the ZLHR initiative to stir debate on the issue and to seek some common ground between the NCA draft and the Constitutional Commission’s rejected draft.

To that extent, the constitutional proposal document produced was not an MDC document per se but something that broadly agreed with the MDC’s general constitutional principles but, more to the point, was part of a wider initiative by civil society and lawyers interested in the Constitutional debate to provoke debate.

When I received the first draft from the civic society lawyers, it was on a computer disk. I gave electronic copies to Tendai Biti and Welshman Ncube for them to have a look at a week before Amendment 17 was due to be debated. We agreed that in principle, it would be a good idea for us to table the amendments to stimulate debate, knowing that there was no chance of Zanu PF ever accepting the amendments. The same has been done since 2000 – we have consistently tabled amendments to legislation.

When I read the computer version of the document I saw it had the clause referred to above, namely the requirement that the President have a university degree. As that conformed to neither the MDC policy nor my own personal views, I took that clause OUT. The paper version of the amendments tabled in Parliament and handed to each MP clearly has that clause taken OUT by me on MY OWN INITIATIVE.

Furthermore, and in any event, the original offending clause, as clearly demonstrated above, referred to a NON EXECUTIVE PRESIDENT, not an executive President. So it would never have affected Morgan Tsvangirai. Ironically had it not been taken out the person it would most likely have affected within the MDC would have been Vice President Gibson Sibanda! But in any event it was taken out by me as it clearly did not represent MDC policy.”


Image  —  Posted: October 20, 2011 in Uncategorized

NGOs in Africa-flashy cars aside–do they perform?

Posted: October 17, 2011 in Uncategorized

I find this argument by Jackson Muneza M’vunganyi of the Voice of America (VOA) very interesting and precisely reflective of NGOs in most parts of the continent. In countries where there is bad governance and poor economic performance, NGOs sprout all over the place, some purpoting to be advocating for good governance, others as think tanks trying to parallely fix everything that has gone wrong in the country. What’s your assessment of NGOs in your area, does M’vunganyi’s argument reflect some NGOs on the African continent?


Posted by Muneza, J M’vunganyi

Regardless of their persuasion or modus operandi, all NGO’s are top heavy with entrenched, well-remunerated, extravagantly-perked bureaucracies.–Sam Vaknin

There are hundreds of Non-governmental organizations working on the African continent. In many cases their presence is felt less in the work they do or the impact they have on a particular community,and more in the amount of fancy SUVs driving down the dirt roads. On the show today we talked about the role and impact of NGO’s in Africa. We also loved the piece by Sam Vaknin who sums it thus “Their arrival portends rising local prices and a culture shock. Many of them live in plush apartments, or five star hotels, drive SUV’s, sport $3000 laptops and PDA’s. They earn a two figure multiple of the local average wage. They are busybodies, preachers, critics, do-gooders, and professional altruists. Always self-appointed, they answer to no constituency. Though unelected and ignorant of local realities, they confront the democratically chosen and those who voted them into office. A few of them are enmeshed in crime and corruption. They are the non-governmental organizations, or NGO’s. Some NGO’s – like Oxfam, Human Rights Watch, Medecins Sans Frontieres, or Amnesty – genuinely contribute to enhancing welfare, to the mitigation of hunger, the furtherance of human and civil rights, or the curbing of disease. Others – usually in the guise of think tanks and lobby groups – are sometimes ideologically biased, or religiously-committed and, often, at the service of special interests. Regardless of their persuasion or modus operandi, all NGO’s are top heavy with entrenched, well-remunerated, extravagantly-perked bureaucracies. Opacity is typical of NGO’s. Amnesty’s rules prevent its officials from publicly discussing the inner workings of the organization – proposals, debates, opinions – until they have become officially voted into its Mandate.

Road carnage, who doesn’t know the issues behind the accidents?

Posted: October 16, 2011 in Uncategorized

One person died in this accident along Gwanda-Bulawayo highway

The issue of road safety or safety on the roads in Zimbabwe has been a subject in a number of platforms. It is usually brought up when there is a major accident and everyone is trying to identify the problem or cause of the accident. A few days after the disaster, everyone forgets about it.

Whether there has been a disaster or no disaster, there are several causes of an accident that are known and preventable. The poor state of roads in Zimbabwe is there for all to see because we all use roads. Most of the roads in the country need overhaul (resurfacing). Some vehicles are unroadworthy or unfit to be used. These cars pass through roadblocks.

I have witnessed the drivers of such cars negotiating with the police but I have never heard how exactly they negotiate but what I have seen is that at times they exchange notes without anything being documented or without the police issuing a ticket as we usually say it.

For whatever reasons politicians pop up at road disaster scenes and some have pointed fingers at second hand Japanese vehicles and the recent debate confirms this. Others have pointed fingers at the drivers, suggesting that they have to be re-tested, drivers of a certain age should be behind the wheel of a public transport vehicle and other seemingly populistic and less sensible proposals. All these do not deal with the poor state of roads and ineffective highway patrols that let unlicensed drivers, unroadworthy and overloaded vehicles filter through. And most importantly an accident happens whether your car is roadworthy or a driver is unlicensed, thats why its an accident.

“Local firms ready for test”

Posted: October 11, 2011 in Uncategorized

Dr Ruth Labode

The re-introduction of duty on finished goods like footwear and blankets in Zimbabwe has caused a stir as most small to medium traders have been affected. The rationale behind the duty is to protect local manufacturers from unfair competition and try to give them breathing space within the local market.

Cheap Chinese products dominating the market are blamed for worsening the plummeting production levels of industries in the country. The Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) welcomed the move with open arms saying locals would be deterred to cross the border to buy finished foreign goods.

For Dr Ruth Labode, president of the CZI Matebeleland chapter, it has to go with strengthening monitoring systems at Zimbabwe’s porous borders. As long there is rampant corruption in the entry points, Labode believes there is no reason for the local manufacturers to be hopeful.

Addressing the finance minister in Bulawayo, Labode said effective control of industries has to be implemented so that local manufacturers should be tested.

“Give us a chance and if we fail its all under your control, you can re-introduce the duty,” she said.

Zanu-PF wants elections for ritual killings – Ncube

Posted: October 11, 2011 in Uncategorized

MDC President Professor Welshman Ncube says Zanu-PF wants elections next year to conduct its ritual killings by unleashing terror campaigns on supporters of the opposition parties in the country.

Prof Welshman Ncube

“Mugabe and Zanu-PF say they want elections next year in order to kill our supporters, an act they have been practising for over 30 years while in power,” said Ncube. “In the past years, the country has failed to hold peaceful free and fair polls because of violent tactics of Zanu-PF forcing people to vote for Mugabe when they have said he must go.”

Ncube reiterated that his party was ready for elections but only on a peaceful and fair level field.

He said: “We want elections even today but only when we are guaranteed that the wishes of the people will be respected. As a party we have been saying lets finalise the election road map and complete all processes such as media reforms that will enable all political parties to communicate with their supporters whether in Binga, Mutare Plumtree or Beitbridge but our colleagues are saying no.”

Ncube also said the refusal by Zanu-PF to finish security sector reforms was a sign that the party wanted to use state agents to harass and intimidate opposition supporters during elections.

Government salary increment forsaked.

Posted: January 15, 2011 in Uncategorized
PTUZ president Takavafira Zhou

PTUZ president Takavafira Zhou


The teachers’ unions are set for an industrial action after dismissing
a salary increment offered by government. The employer has been given
a seven day ultimatum by the workers unions to resolve the demands of
the workers before a strike ensues.

The government’ s joint negotiating council proposed a salary scale of
a 24% increment for the civil servants.

Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe president Takavafira Zhou
accused the all inclusive government of arrogance when dealing with
remuneration packages for workers saying it does not prioritise such
sectors as the education but it gives much attention to sharing power.

“Government has shown that civil servants are enemies rather than
employees,” Zhou charged, “This calls for civil servants to say enough
is enough this far and no further.”

The workers also rejected a $32 housing allowance and $24 transport
allowance increment saying the allowances do not add up to the $500
poverty datum line (PDL).

Last year teachers failed to sustain a strike after union leaders
carried a nationwide campaign urging their members to engage in a
crippling industrial action. Teachers could not resist incentives
offered by parents at schools. Teacher unions’ leaders are opposing
the payment of incentives saying a full package should come from

Teachers have remained divided over the issue as those serving
underprivileged communities especially in most rural areas cannot
benefit from such an arrangement.

“Teachers must realise that the so called incentives that keep them at
schools are nothing but its like salivating at a poisoned carrot,”
Zhou told Zimbabwe Community Radio, “ They don’t go a long way in
terms of contributing to the pensions of teachers and we are creating
a gulf between us and the parents who are also poor.”

Education, arts, sport and culture minister David Coltart last year
revealed that teachers’ incentives will not be scrapped off as they
complement government remuneration.

MDC-T should join ZANU PF: Prof Ncube

Posted: November 17, 2010 in Uncategorized

Posted by Clayton Moyo

Following reports of defections in the MDC led by Professor Mutambara, Zimbabwe Community Radio finally had a one-to-one interview with the secretary general of the party Professor Welshman Ncube where he gave his insight on the issue. Professor Ncube also responded to some of the accusations against him on the alleged tempering of the MDC constitution to include limitations on the presidential terms.

Q: Of late we have heard a number of councillors claiming to have defected to the other formation of the MDC-T, what do you say about that?

Prof Ncube: Well let’s just start with the latest round of the Bulawayo councillors we understood defected, we spoke to Dr Ferguson for instance, he says he didn’t defect he was invited to a meeting by the Prime Minister he went and he read a statement which expressed his opinion which was that he thinks that there must be a united MDC supposedly to fight Mugabe. That’s his opinion he says, that’s what he read so as far as we know what he indicated to us is that he did not defect but really that’s not the core of the issue. The core of the issue is that you have a political party which basically during the day condemns corruption, bribery and the vices we have seen in ZANU PF but at night does virtually the same thing, they go to Bulilima, they go to Lupane carrying bicycles, they bribe the councillors, give them $100 and get them to join their party. If that is not corruption, I don’t what it is. We do not believe that we should have members who belong to us on the basis of being paid, people must share with us the same values, same principles and the same vision for Zimbabwe to save the people of Zimbabwe but the strategy of defections just shows to you how the MDC-T has transformed to become the virtual mirror image of ZANU PF. Over the last thirty years we have seen this tactic, year in year out being used by ZANU PF, “so and so has defected,”  humiliating people, embarrassing them, getting them to burn cards and that’s what we are seeing once again. It’s disgusting to say the least.

Q: There has been an article in the Zimbabwe Independent where you and the late Learnmore Jongwe are alleged to have tempered with the constitution of MDC at its formation to include the limitations on the terms of office for the president, what really happened?

Prof Ncube

Professor Welshman Ncube

Prof Ncube: Again if you wanted an example of a party which has become so hypocritical and so drunk with its supposed popularity that it has no respect for people and it has no respect for itself, it’s almost like we are seeing a rerun of the Hitler politics. If you are going to tell a lie, tell a big one and repeat it as often as you can and people will eventually believe that big lie. You might ask why has it taken ten years to discover that the constitution made in 2000 was tempered with, we have never had this explanation before, we are hearing it for the first time. But everybody in there knows the truth. The constitution which was drafted for the first congress, the inaugural congress correct was drafted by Dr Madhuku and others, it was presented to the interim national executive of the MDC and we debated it twice, at St Lucia Park and at Mandel Training Centre, the final meeting before congress was at Mandel by the interim executive. At that meeting, all of us who were in that interim executive were unanimous in agreeing that we must limit the terms of office of the president, the vice president, the national chairman, the secretary general, the deputy secretary general and the treasurer general so the terms of office of those six by the unanimous decision of the interim national executive at Mandel was decided upon and we inserted those clauses in that draft which was adopted at Mandel as the interim executive committee. We took it to congress with those term limits, I and Learmore Jongwe it’s correct presented it at the congress and we presented it with those term limits, it was adopted at Chitungwiza at congress with exactly those term limits and everybody in the party from 2000 accepted that that was our constitution. There was no issue. Up to the time of the split again it was accepted that it was our constitution. Indeed the fact that at their congress in 2006, they were now starting to attempt to change it, they should not have attempted to change if they believed that it was a fair constitution; they should just have produced the original constitution. So clearly it’s a lie, it’s hypocritical, its dishonest, they should just own up and say we no longer like this clause, we didn’t believe in it or we no longer believe in it because that’s the truth but to pretend that there was a fake constitution, it’s a lie, it’s a big lie that they are telling. But some of us we are not surprised because you have a political party which over the years has transformed itself into being a mirror image of ZANU PF, the lies, the hypocrisy, the dishonesty. Some of us are not interested in a party which thinks they can replace ZANU PF and they think they are clever ngesiNdebele kuthiwa akulaqili elazikhoth ‘emhlane and that’s what they are trying to do. They can fool some of the people sometime but they can’t fool all the people all the time.

Q: What is your view on the MDC-T leadership renewal and the issue of their constitution having no limitations on the presidential terms; do you share the view that Tsvangirai is the brand of MDC-T?

Prof Ncube: So why are you then opposed to ZANU PF?  Mugabe is the brand of ZANU PF, he has always been, so they want him to be president for life? Join them, if you believe in that philosophy just join ZANU PF.

Q: You have been consistent that Zimbabwe is not ready for an election, in the event that Mugabe calls for an election next year, are you going to participate?

Prof Ncube: As a party we have always believed that we will give the people of Zimbabwe a chance to fight the Mugabe rule through elections. We would prefer to fight in a free and fair election so that people can decide freely and fairly but we have fought elections since 2000 under an environment which was not free and fair, maybe the best election was in March 2008, that was the freest since the MDC started participating but we participated in those elections and we believe that we should continue to give the people of Zimbabwe a chance for a peaceful change of government otherwise to run away from an election means that you have another alternative other than an election and the alternative can only be the resort to violence and we don’t believe that we should the people of Zimbabwe through the process of violence.

Q: One of the reforms remaining in the GPA is the issue of media freedom and George Charamba has expressed that the issue of media freedom is a pie in the sky, what’s your comment on that?

First of all Charamba is not a minister in any government, he doesn’t determine policy he is supposed to implement policy. What we know is that as the three political parties, we agreed first in the GPA on the nature of the media freedom which had to take place. We agreed in the second round of talks what needed to be done and we do not believe that Charamba speaks for ZANU PF, if ZANU PF wants to officially repudiate its obligation, it must say so and speak through its ministers and its representatives and not through a civil servant.

MDC-T succession scare.

Posted: October 2, 2010 in Uncategorized

Posted by Clayton Moyo

The MDC formation of Morgan Tsvangirai has issued a harsh response to an article by the weekly Financial Gazette on a report that its leader has to step down.
The report claims that Tsvangirai has to step down as the president of his faction as the constitutional guidelines of the party require him to do so.
MDC-T released a press statement scoffing at the paper saying it is nothing but the imaginations of the reporter.

It is nothing but a creation of the reporter’s fertile imagination designed to boost the newspaper’s sales while seeking to sow the seeds of confusion, despondency and uncertainty in the country.

It is clear that the party is not comfortable at all with the succession issue being brought to the public arena for scrutiny. Such a scornful response comes at a time when the party seems to have managed a power crisis between the secretary general and those behind the president.
Deputy spokesperson of the formation Tabitha Khumalo says the constitution of the party does not have any provisions limiting the president’s stay in office.
Reports say the party struck out clauses with limitations for terms of office of the president but the officials says the constitution drafted by National Constitutional Assembly leader Lovemore Matombo has never had such a clause.
The rival formation led by Professor Mutambara has revealed that its constitution does not allow the president, vice-president, secretary general and treasurer general’ s positions to be held by an individual for over two five year terms. The next congress of the party will be held early next year.
The MDC-T therefore resembles the ZANU PF constitutional tradition on the unlimited presidential terms of office.
Tsvangirai has been at the helm of the party since its formation. Speculations have indicated that the party’s secretary general Tendai Biti and organising secretary Elias Mudzuri have an interest in leading the formation.
The next congress is also expected in 2011. Read the rest of this entry »

“Mugabe unlikely to face justice”

Posted: September 22, 2010 in Uncategorized

Posted by Fidelis Ndimande

President Robert Mugabe and his co-perpetrators are not likely to face indictment and trial on the crimes against humanity during the Gukurahundi massacres that left over 20 000 civilians in Matebeleland and Midlands provinces dead.

A recent probe into the Gukurahundi killings with an intention of qualifying the state’s excesses as genocide by an international human rights watchdog Genocide Watch has left a debate over the eligibility of Robert Mugabe and his henchmen to face an international hearing.

Legal experts say the International Criminal Court (ICC) does not have a legal jurisdiction to try Mugabe as Zimbabwe is not a signatory to the 2002 Rome treaty which is a statute that established the ICC.
Human rights defender and legal practitioner Matshobana Ncube said he doubts if there is any chance of Mugabe facing trial on an international level.

“Besides that Zimbabwe is not a treaty party, some of these treaties do not have retrospectivity, that is, when they come into force they do not apply backwards or the period prior to their coming into force,” Ncube said, “It’s really difficult to say he can come under that treaty for prosecution.”

However, the United Nations can instigate an investigation on the crimes committed by state militants against civilians through setting up a special tribunal.

President of Genocide Watch, Gregory Stanton says establishment of a UN-Zimbabwe tribunal can probe the matter and bring Mugabe to justice.

“We call upon the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to conduct a full investigation of the Gukurahundi, with the aim of establishing a mixed UN – Zimbabwean Tribunal to put Mugabe and his co-perpetrators on trial for their crimes.” Stanton said in a statement.

Lawyer Matshobana Ncube said it is possible for the UN to institute an investigation.

“You will recall that the president of Sudan which is not a signatory to the ICC had a warrant of arrest issued against him.” Ncube said.

However, Ncube took a swipe at Genocide Watch and the first world countries for failing to speak against organised mass killings of civilians in the early 1980s when it was happening.

“There has been a very worrying concern that when these things were happening, these western countries were very much aware of the happenings and they kept quiet.” Ncube said, “Ordinarily, we are seeing a situation whereby they are having a fallout with Mr Mugabe and as such that’s why they are coming up with these things.”