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1-13 February 2016

Media Monitoring Report for Zimbabwe
Posted on February 15, 2016


Compiled by MIGS Desk Officer for Zimbabwe

  1. Human Rights
  2. Economic problems 
  3. Summary

1. Human Rights
State-Owned Media

"Zimbabwe: Chiefs Are Non-Partisan, Says VP Mnangagwa" The Herald, February 8, 2016

  • Vice president Mnangagwa Emerson denied any partisanship in country’s top deputies, saying chiefs do not vote to advance the interests of a party, but to fulfill their constitutional obligations
  • This statement comes amidst a wall of accusations of nepotism and favoritism by those loyal to the ruling ZANU party
  • VP Mnangagwa said the government had invested heavily in the Zimbabwe’s Human Rights Commission and that to date, all accusations of human rights violations had been dealt with an appropriate response. 
Independent Media
  • IOL, Millions flee’ Zimbabwe conflit, February 12, 2016, Mini Iol
  • A new report released by the National Transitional Justice Working Group in Zimbabwe (NTJWG) sais more than three million Zimbabwean have fled the country as a result of ‘structural violence’
  • Speaking at a conference in Harare last Wedesnday, Reverend Ray Mossi, who heads the NTJWG’s Memorialisation Thematic Committee said systematic violence has been the rule for the past three decades in the country
  • Reverend Mossi further added that the narrow independence narrative upheld by the government couldn’t be further apart from the majority of the population.
  • The huge public impact of domestic violence, The Japan Times, February 12, 2016
  • According to a U.N report, domestic violence in Zimbabwe accounts for more than 60 percent of the total number of murder cases in courts

"No meaningful human rights reforms in Zim" Newsday, February 1, 2016

  • A recent Human Rights Watch (HRW) report concluded that Zimbabwean had seen no major human rights reforms despite the government’s promises, with President Robert Mugabe further strengthening its ‘rule of terror’ instead
  • HRW accused President Mugabe of having kicked out major reformist figures in his government to replace them with hardliners, citing the replacement of former Vice-president Joice Mujuru by Emmerson Mnangagwa, who was implicated in major human rights abuses
  • Another accusation HWR has made against the current government was deliberately abandoning the 20,000 villagers displaced by the Tokwe-Mukosi Dam flooding in February 2014. Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) has claimed the flooding was not natural and was a man-made incident.
Foreign Media

"Lawyers, Opposition Parties Protest Arrest of Zimbabwe Prosecutor General" Voice of America, February 3, 2016

  • Earlier this month, prosecutor general Johannes Tomana was arrested in what The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights calls a major assault against the rule of law
  • Johannes Tomana was arrested for allegedly obstructing the course of justice, but many observers fear the charges are politically motivated
  • Since Zimbabwean law does not permit the arrest of a sitting judge, many of the country’s legal experts agree that the arrest was in fact unconstitutional



2. Economic Problems
Independent Media

"Zimbabwe seeks $ 1.5 b in drought aid", The Guardian, February 10, 2016

  • Vice President Emmerson has said Zimbabwe was in dire need of immediate assistance to prevent massive starvation and fix damaged irrigation equipment
  • For the past four months, Zimbabwe’s had hit a record low in rainfall, with one of the lowest levels ever recorded at the Kariba dam. This phenomenon is thought to be further affected by El Nino, also responsible for major weather disruptions in Malawi and Zambia.
  • Zimbabwe, where more than 80% of the population rely on farming, is facing one of its greatest agricultural challenges
  • Zimbabwe, once known as the breadbasket of Africa, has faced continuous grain shortages during the past years. Although President Robert Mugabe has blamed the situation purely as a consequence of climate change, many critics link the decay of Zimbabwe’s agricultural sector to the 2000 eviction of white farmers

3. Summary

As drought intensifies in Zimbabwe, efforts by the government to mobilize international funds have so far fallen flat, leaving most of the country’s population in a dire situation. Lack of rainfall and exceptional heat have produced increasingly low yields in the last years in a country where more than 80% relies on farming.

But this is yet one of the symptom of Zimbabwe’s agricultural problems. Many observers date back the sector’s demise to the early 2000s, when Robert Mugabe evicted another round of white farmers, the effect of which was to further disorganize the country’s agricultural output. This is a dramatic loss for a country that used to be known as Africa’s breadbasket. Mugabe has dismissed any connection with the eviction of white farmers, arguing the present crisis was purely the effect of climate change. This year’s particular drought, however, has been linked by scientists to the El Nino phenomenon; known to alter temperatures around the world.

Last month, official newspapers reported up to 500,000 cattle faced immediate danger due to water scarcity. With a falling currency, dwindling exportations and ever more expensive imports, raw material keep missing.  Manufactures keep closing down and smuggling to South Africa is improving. But this is largely goes unreported in official media, which are increasingly preoccupied with ruling party Zanu-PF’s political infighting. Because the government has been reported to give food aid to communities favoring the Zanu-PF, the government has been accused to use funds by international organizations to effectively root out opposition.

A surge in activity by the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission has also shed new light on the party’s responsibility in atrocities held by the actual regime in the eastern regions of Zimbabwe, historically more hostile to the central government. What many opposition activists in Zimbabwe claim the ‘Gukurahundi massacres’ in the Matabeleland in the 1980s was perpetrated by a North Korea trained brigade loyal to the Zanu-PF faction.

Reverend Ray Mossi, head of the Memorialisation Thematic Committee with the Transitional Justice Working Group in Zimbabwe has said the Zanu-PF’s failure in establishing functioning government institutions has led the ruling party to rely exclusively on violence to carry out its official functions, resulting in 3 millions fleeing the country in the past 30 years.

If 2016 does not see a rapid flow of maize to the country and a fast changing climatic setting, lack of agricultural output, combined with a general sense of fatigue against the current regime may see a powerful common front rising against Mugabe. 

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