Alex T Magaisa 🇿🇼 Profile picture
Lawyer, Kent Law School academic, former adviser to a PM of Zimbabwe & to the constitution-making team. Author of the @BigSaturdayRead. wamagaisa@yahoo.co.uk
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17 Jul
1. Ndaba doesn’t get it most of the time. However, his confession that the man he is defending has never won a government tender is gold. Let me explain because what it reveals is worse than you can imagine. I see a lot of people have a misunderstanding of a “government tender”
2. When government wants ta service or product, it floats a tender. It’s a call to contractors to make their bids. At law it’s called an invitation to treat. The idea of floating a tender is to have fair competition among contractors. The government chooses the most competitive
3. Therefore, when a contractor “wins a tender” it means it has gone through a competitive process where it’s offer has been accepted. This is legitimate. Ndaba has just told us that his client has never won a government tender. But note, he has not said he never got a contract.
Read 10 tweets
9 Jul
1. Efforts to vaccinate the nation are commendable. But we must also be vigilant re: the other pandemic - corruption. The government’s numbers don’t add up. Let’s start with Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube in January 2021 saying government had set aside US$100 million for vaccines
2. Two weeks later, the Minister of Health & VP Constantino Chiwenga said the cost of the national vaccination program was going to be US$6,7 million. Both Ncube & Chiwenga’s figures are based on the same numbers to be vaccinated: 10 million people.
3. The gulf is so wide that a reasonable person has a duty to raise serious questions. The man in charge of the national purse says US$100 million while the man in charge of health says US$6,7 million. The difference is a whooping US$93,3 million! We’re also getting donations
Read 8 tweets
7 Jul
Trust, Leaders & COVID-19

1. According to the Afrobarometer Survey 2021, Zimbabweans have more trust in NGOs (79%) & religious leaders (78%) than the President (48%), MPs (44%) & councillors (38%). These figures are critically important in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
2. The unelected wield enormous power over citizens. They are trusted. In a contest between the president & a priest (or prophet to use Zim’s favoured vocabulary) regarding COVID-19 vaccines, citizens are more likely to trust the priest/prophet’s word than the president’s.
3. It’s bad enough that citizens already have doubts over vaccine safety. Afrobarometer says 51% of Zimbabweans do not trust that the government will ensure that vaccines are safe while 51% said they were unlikely to try to get vaccinated. Vaccine skepticism is itself a pandemic.
Read 9 tweets
6 Jul
1. Someone sent me a copy of this public statement by Kuvimba Mining House which is named in The Sentry’s report on egregious corruption in Zimbabwe. Methinks the company doth protest too much. The only thing that the statement has achieved is to raise more questions & suspicions Image
2. Kuvimba says it has nothing to do with Kuda Tagwirei but it lists Ziwa (Pvt) Ltd among its shareholders. But we already know that one shareholder of Ziwa is Pfimbi Resources whose shareholders are Kuda Tagwirei and his wife. The denial is vacuous and less than honest. Image
3. Kuvimba confirms that the assets it holds were originally owned by Sotic International and says it acquired them as part of “restructuring”. Tagwirei has/had interests Sotic so the attempt to distance itself from him are futile, disingenuous and embarrassing. Image
Read 4 tweets
5 Jul
How to loot in Zimbabwe

1. Looting methods in Zimbabwe are so simple it’s like a thief stealing from your home while you’re all watching. You think no, it can’t be, but it is! I have written this several times but let me use this thread to describe one of the simplest methods.
2. A Government department or parastatal wants to procure goods worth US$5 million. There are legitimate vendors who can supply the goods but they don’t get the contract. Instead, the contract goes to Peter who is a PEP (politically exposed person). That’s his only qualification.
3. Peter doesn’t have the money, but even if he has it, he won’t put his money at risk. So the government pays him the US$5 million as “advance payment”. Peter then goes to the vendor & orders the goods. The goods will actually be worth US$4 million so Peter will pocket a million
Read 13 tweets
4 Jul
1. While most MDC Alliance supporters were excited by the findings of @afrobarometer showing the marginal presence of MDC-T, they shouldn’t ignore the less palatable findings. For example, perceptions of how the government has handled the pandemic shouldn’t be underestimated.
2. Afrobarometer found that 81% agreed with the lockdown measures. This may confound some people but remember this survey considered lockdowns last year when most of the world was unsure and scared of the new virus. 81% felt the government had done well in the circumstances.
3. The findings also show that more people were tolerant of the restrictions of democratic rights and freedoms. Again this may be explained by the fear of what seemed to be an existential threat to the nation & humanity. But the regime has & may continue to exploit this tolerance
Read 8 tweets
15 Jun
1. The RBZ tells us it had a problem with 18 entities. To “solve” the problem the regime issued a decree (SI127) affecting 16 million people. In their wisdom, our elders would refer to this as the behaviour of a foolish man who burns the family home in order to kill a rat.
2. This purported clarification by the RBZ means the regime fired the gun into the crowd before asking questions. Why did it not carry out these so-called consultations before issuing the ridiculous decree? The damage has already been done. But that’s typical of this regime.
3. However, if people in the business community take the RBZ statement seriously, then they need their heads examined. A press statement does not amend a law. SI127 is a law of general application. It affects everyone, therefore, unless it’s amended it’s still applicable to all.
Read 4 tweets
14 Jun
1. Fidelity Printers & Refinery (FPR) is Zimbabwe’s gold refiner & for a long time the holder of a monopoly in the purchase & export of gold. It is also the printer of currency and security documents. This is a story of how at its peak, FPR was punching well above its weight.
2. I was fascinated to learn that at one point FPR had overspill contracts to print US$ notes for the Federal Reserve. It also used to print currency & other securities for several countries in Africa. For example, FPR printed cheques for the Central Bank of Angola among others.
3. FPR had contracts to produce passports for SADC officials & Certificates of Origin for the Comesa Region. FPR produced phone recharge cards for Egyptian, Tunisian & Moroccan telecoms companies. It also serviced the local telecoms companies Econet NetOne, Telecel, TelOne, etc
Read 10 tweets
13 Jun
1. Corporations are affected by bad governance but the corporate sector would rather comply than resist. We don’t do politics, they say. But if the ruling party makes demands, they silently comply. Yet they want someone to do something about bad governance bigsr.africa/good-governanc…
2. There are big companies that are known to donate to the ruling party’s political & election campaigns. By doing so, they are investing in repression; enabling bad governance. If you lie down with a dog, you cannot complain that fleas are bothering you.
3. But here’s the thing: despite knowing some of these businesses, we continue to patronise them. The profits they make are donated to the ruling party. When you consider the vicious cycle, we are also indirectly funding and enabling our own repression!
Read 4 tweets
9 Jun
1. I have been reading the judgment by Senior Magistrate R. Mukanga at Bulawayo in the matter involving New York Times journalist Jeffrey Moyo. I’m horrified by the mutilation of the Constitution. Let me explain the horror show step by step.
2. Moyo argued for release because he was detained for more than 48 hours before he was brought to court. Section 50(3) states that if this happens the person “must be released immediately” unless a competent court has earlier extended it. There was no such earlier extension.
3. The Magistrate accepted that Moyo was over-detained. The state did not dispute it. But, incredibly, the Magistrate had a strange interpretation of section 50(3). He said it does not entitle an over-detained person to immediate release, the opposite of what the provision says.
Read 7 tweets
8 Jun
1. This is Hon. Gwaunza’s response to the request by Beatrice Mtetwa for investigations into the conduct of the @JSCZim Secretary which led to a judge recusing himself from the contempt case against Hon. Malaba. How can he be involved in a matter in which he has so much interest?
2. Malaba should be nowhere near this case. He is the man at the centre of this crisis, but he has the audacity to “instruct” the JSC to carry out investigations! As a judge, he should know better than to be involved because it taints the entire process.
3. Also, as Mtetwa requested, this investigation must be INDEPENDENT. The JSC is not in a position to carry out an independent investigation in this matter. After all, the man under investigation is its top executive. The JSC should outsource this to an independent investigator.
Read 4 tweets
30 May
1. One general rule that I have learnt purely by experience as a Zimbabwean is that there is a positive correlation between more decrees to control the foreign currency (forex) market and the expansion of the parallel (black) market.
2. In other words, the more the government tries to command & control the formal market by decree, the more the informal/parallel market grows. This is partly because economic actors seek to avoid the debilitating & punitive impact of the formal market decrees.
3. It also grows because formal market controls create opportunities for arbitrage. This happens because the formal market, access of which is restricted to a few, offers cheap forex which can be sold at higher rates either directly on the parallel market or as goods for sale.
Read 9 tweets
19 May
1. The letter announcing the appointment of judges to the Constitutional Court is odd & vague so that it is not possible to determine the law under which they are being appointed. It says the President has “approved” the appointments “at the instance” of the Acting Chief Justice.
2. The letter is coming from the Judicial Service Commission. The “approval” bit is perplexing. It’s either the President appoints or he doesn’t. Whether before or after Amendment No. 2, he is the appointing authority. If they are acting judges, his approval is irrelevant.
3. True the judges take their oath before the Chief Justice but it is unclear whether they are being appointed under the old procedure when they were interviewed last September or as amended by Amendment No. 2. But does it make any difference to the contentious cases? None.
Read 4 tweets
18 May
1. Regarding the constitutional matter, I fear people are missing the forest for the trees. I have said that we have a constitutional crisis & it emanates from both amendments. It is that a Real Madrid or Barca player cannot choose the referee for El Classico. Let me explain.
2. All the judges of the superior courts are parties to the proceedings. They cannot properly sit as referees in a matter in which they are involved & they have an interest. In short, they are all conflicted. This is the forest. All the other technicalities converge here.
3. Now, some may argue that a special panel can be chosen to do it. Fine. But someone has to choose that panel. That cannot be done by players in the game because they have an interest. The JSC unnecessarily dragged itself into the matter when it could have stayed neutral.
Read 7 tweets
18 May
1. 34 years ago, Zimbabwe’s first democratic Constitution was drastically amended via the infamous Amendment No. 7. It introduced the Executive Presidency dumping the Westminster model. I was in Grade 7, barely aware of what was happening. Zvaitonzi Long Live President RG Mugabe!
2. It was only when I was in law school 7 years later that I began to fully appreciate what it meant. Back then, debates were in newspapers & magazines like Moto & Parade often weeks or months after the event. It took a while to build constitutional consciousness.
3. Today, we have multiple spaces where debate is taking place, people getting views from different voices as events happen. This is not a bad thing. On the contrary, it is healthy for society to be exposed to multiple views; to be part of the discourse. It should be celebrated.
Read 4 tweets
16 May
1. I have immersed myself in studying the US Civil Rights Movement in the 50s & 60s. The legal strategy is part of the fight for rights & democratic space. It is not the only one but it is important. Knocking down the edifice of dictatorship is not a one day event but a process.
2. I remember one of the doyens of that struggle saying every struggle requires moments of victory, no matter how small. They provide a glimpse of hope; that it’s possible. We knew the regime would fight back & it is. Still, we pursue; focused & tenacious. Nothing lasts forever.
3. They want you to believe it’s all meaningless; to not have hope and to be fatalistic. This case has them at sixes and sevens as evidenced by the tantrums & vitriol. You don’t dwell on what has happened but focus on what may happen & be prepared for it.
Read 4 tweets
12 May
1. Each step they take defines the CONSTITUTIONAL CRISIS. The @JSCZim wants to be involved because in its mistaken view the judges cited in the lawsuit are its “employees”. It forgets that on that reasoning the judges presiding over the dispute also qualify as its “employees”.
2. This leaves the applicants facing an opponent that purports to be the employer of the presiding judges! The @JSCZim wants to have its cake and eat it at the same time. It wants to represent judges who are being sued while distancing itself from judges presiding over the case!
3. The @JSCZim cannot be both things at the same time. It could have applied for joinder on other grounds, such as that it is required to defend judicial independence & the constitution, in which it would be challenging the illegal amendment, not defending it.
Read 4 tweets
11 May
1. Left is the late former Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku. On the right is his successor Chief Justice Luke Malaba. Months before CJ Chidyausiku reached his 70th birthday he started the process of choosing his successor. 4 days before he is 70, CJ Malaba has no successor.
2. In fact, everything points to CJ Malaba succeeding himself. This is ironic. CJ Malaba was the beneficiary of CJ Chidyausiku’s respect of constitutional limits to his judicial term. He had his faults but on this occasion, he did what a professional judge & leader would do.
3. 4 years later, it’s CJ Malaba’s turn to give way to a fellow judge. There are there, judges awaiting their turn. But, it seems, he doesn’t want to go. Zimbabwe has had the misfortune of leaders who don’t want to give up power. But you would have thought judges were different
Read 6 tweets
8 May
1. Chimbetu was a musical genius & this song is one of his absolute beauties. I would love to hear from fellow Dendera aficionados what he meant. For me it’s a lament over the poverty and great inequalities in our society. Let me explain:
2. He says urombo huri munyika, ndaona mbudzi ichikuya mamera (there’s poverty in the land but I saw a goat grinding malt). A goat doesn’t normally grind malt. It eats it. If it’s grinding malt it’s because it has too much of it. Metaphor for the rich playing around with wealth.
3. The wealthy spend & play around with wealth while the rest are wallowing in poverty. He says if I had money, you would pray at my altar: it’s a mockery of those who have wealth & make everyone jump. Chimbetu’s message was powerful. What’s your interpretation?
Read 4 tweets
2 May
1. Clash of generations: there’s a generation that remembers a Zimbabwe of high standards; a country that worked & had promise. There’s a generation of young adults with no such memory. Their universe was shaped by falling standards; a Zimbabwe that doesn’t work; without promise
2. One generation remembers a Zimbabwe where buses had a time-table & ran on time; cities where running water & electricity were the norm; a Zimbabwe where the milkman left milk bottles at the gate & the postman delivered letters in the box & the Zimbabwe Dollar was proper money.
3. For the other generation, queuing for water at the borehole is normal. For the bucket generation, the bathtub & shower are exceptions. Mushikashika. Kungwavhangwavha. Potholed roads. Dark streets. It’s the norm. It came into a world without things that others take for granted
Read 10 tweets
30 Apr
Lobola: Katekwe v Muchabaiwa

1. This thread is in honour of one of the iconic cases in Zimbabwean Family Law, reported in 1984. The father of a woman had sued for seduction damages from the man. The lower courts had ruled in his favour but the man appealed to the Supreme Court
2. The Supreme Court ruled that the Legal Age of Majority Act, passed in 1982 (LAMA) had liberated black women from their old status as perpetual minors under customary law. A father no longer had a right to claim seduction damages for a daughter who had reached 18 years.
3. It’s probably hard to imagine it now but LAMA & the judgment were pretty revolutionary for black women. Before, a black woman was a minor under the guardianship of her father or husband. She could not enter into any contracts, including marriage without her guardian’s consent.
Read 14 tweets