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Interview with Stanley Kwenda, journalist & founder of Zimbabwe Artists for Democracy Trust
Upenyu Makoni-Muchemwa, Kubatana.net
January 19, 2011

Read Inside/Out with Stanley Kwenda

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Stanley KwendaIn January of 2010 Stanley Kwenda was forced to flee Zimbabwe after receiving death threats from a senior police officer. He has since returned to Zimbabwe and is the founder of the Zimbabwe Artists for Democracy Trust.

You fled Zimbabwe a year ago after receiving death threats from a police officer. Do you feel safe now?
I would say that the situation hasn't changed. It's just that I watch my path. Wherever I go I try to watch my back. The threats are still there and the issue hasn't really been resolved. I have been given guarantees by my lawyers, but I still don't feel safe. Ultimately I know it's my responsibility to look after myself.

What, in your opinion, prompted the threats?
I think it was because of an article I had written in one of the local papers. Basically it was a story which was talking about a dispute, which I thought would have led us to be able to uncover the person behind some of these violent acts that have been happening in this country. I tried to show it in a much more personal way by looking at some of the incidents of domestic violence that had happened at this individual's place.

What do you feel is the situation of journalists in Zimbabwe?
They are at risk. I have heard of people talking about a change in circumstances because of the coming in of the inclusive government but in my view it hasn't changed anything. The laws that are used to clamp down on the work of journalists are still intact. We haven't heard of any law which has been either watered down or changed. We still have the same laws; I'd say this is just a lull in repression. Even when you look at licensing, last year was not as severe as this year. Just last week the Zimbabwe Media Commission warned journalists not to work without licenses, but if you look at the fees, they are quite prohibitive. Listen

As an observer of Zimbabwean politics what is your opinion of the current constitutional process?
I disagree with the way it has been done so far. People were not expressing their views freely for a number of reasons like intimidation and the bussing in of people. So I'm sceptical of the kind of document we are going to have. There are others who are now advocating for a compromise document, negotiated by the parties in the Inclusive government, but again it goes back to the fact that when we started this process we wanted a constitution that responds to the needs of the people. It's a catch-22 situation. I'd say lets wait and see. Listen

What is your opinion of Prime Minister Tsvangirai remaining in his position as President of MDC-T?
We have been having conflicting reports on whether the MDC-T is going to have a congress or not. I think it's up to the members of the MDC-T party to decide.

What is your opinion of Welshman Ncube and the shake-ups in that party?
I had the opportunity of meeting him at their congress when all this drama was unfolding. There were people there who decided to have a change of leadership. We will wait and see what Welshman Ncube has to offer the people of Zimbabwe.

It has been argued from some quarters that Zimbabwe is experiencing a crisis of leadership, so there will be no leadership renewal for a very long time. Do you agree or disagree?
This is my personal view; if you look at even civic society itself we have a problem of over-stayers. I'm not advocating that people must be changed for the sake of change, but overstaying tends to corrupt. It comes with a lot of excesses. We really need to have a culture of passing on the baton. It brings in fresh ideas; it brings in variety in terms of tackling issues. Listen

What are your feeling regarding elections?
As the citizens of Zimbabwe we have been made to understand that there was a Global Political Agreement that was signed by the three foremost political parties in this country. One of the things on which they agreed was a framework for them to try and bring back democracy before going to another election. All I can say is that if we implement all the things that were meant to be done I think the best man will win the election. The people of Zimbabwe will get the leader that they want. Listen

What kind of Zimbabwe would you like to see?
I would like to see a Zimbabwe where people's rights are respected and their security is guaranteed. Where our children are guaranteed an education and the right to health and the ability to prosper in life.

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Audio File

  • Journalists are at risk
    Summary:
    Language: English
    Duration: 52sec
    Date: January 19, 2011
    File Type: MP3
    Size: 816KB

  • Constitutional process
    Summary:
    Language: English
    Duration: 46sec
    Date: January 19, 2011
    File Type: MP3
    Size: 732KB

  • Don't overstay - Pass the baton
    Summary:
    Language: English
    Duration: 33sec
    Date: January 19, 2011
    File Type: MP3
    Size: 525KB

  • Elections
    Summary:
    Language: English
    Duration: 40sec
    Date: January 19, 2011
    File Type: MP3
    Size: 630KB

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