|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
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- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
Moyo's accuser goes missing
By Our own Staff
*Woman who claimed affair with Information Minister vanishes A WEEK after she was arrested by police for claiming Jonathan Moyo was the father of her 22-year-old son, the whereabouts of 41-year-old Irene Ali of Kadoma, remains unknown.
Her son, Isaac Ntuthuko Mwedini, whom she alleged was the product of an affair with Jonathan Moyo, the Minister of State for Information and Publicity in the President's Office has also gone underground, investigations by The Standard have revealed.A news-crew from The Standard went to Kadoma hoping to interview Ali on her claims but found a funereal atmosphere at her house in the dirt-poor Rimuka high-density suburb. After spending the best part of the day searching for Ali's house, the news-crew finally arrived at about 5 PM at the ramshackle that is home to the woman who made the startling claim on Moyo. Ali's fear stricken family lives in a run-down house which it shares with other families in the residential area and poverty is in stark evidence everywhere with their few belongings piled in one of the two rooms they occupy. Police picked Ali on Sunday after the story concerning Moyo's alleged son, born out of wedlock, surfaced last week, her family told The Standard. Isaac Ntuthuko Mwedini, who is said to have been assisted by a "senior government official" to track down Moyo at his rural home in Tsholotsho, is also missing. Mwedini's story was corroborated by his mother Irene who told the Bulawayo based Chronicle newspaper that she fell pregnant two months after dating Moyo in 1981, then living at Gobo Army Barracks in Silobela, near Kwekwe. Moyo has rejected the claims, saying he was in the US at the time. After the story appeared, police picked up Irene Ali on criminal defamation charges. Assistant Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena was quoted by The Herald saying: "We picked up Ali who is now facing criminal defamation charges but we are still questioning her. We are also looking for her son whom we want to question as part of our investigations into the matter." That was the last time her family knew of the whereabouts of their mother. With tears welling in their eyes, Ali's eldest child - Silisiwe, 26 - and 12-year-old son Polite appealed to the authorities to return their mother. "I don't understand what is going on but I just wish my mother would be returned to us. All I can say to those who know where my mother is, is that please bring her back," said the 12-year-old boy. Silisiwe, who seemed not keen to talk about the issue, refused to say anything on the paternity row that has rocked the family. "I don't know anything; the best person to talk to is my mother. All I can say is I hope she is safe where-ever she is," said Silisiwe. On the whereabouts of their brother, Isaac Ntuthuko Mwedini, the two said they did not know where he was. When asked if she knew her father and that of her siblings, Silisiwe refused to talk. "I have never asked my mother who our father is the best person to ask is my mother," she said. The interview was conducted in one of the two rooms that the family is renting. Silisiwe, a worker at a nearby farm, said she did not have adequate financial resources to assist her mother to fight the case. "We can hardly survive and we do not have any money to spare to help free her," said a visibly distraught Silisiwe. The complexity of the case appears to have affected her so much that she was only prepared to speak to The Standard for a few minutes. Meanwhile, women's rights' organisations have expressed outrage over the manner Irene was treated after claiming that Moyo had fathered her son. The co-ordinator of the Federation of African Media Women Zimbabwe, Qonda Moyo said: "The police had no right to arrest the woman and the question that needs to be answered is: would this woman have been arrested if the man involved was not a Minister?" Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights Executive Director Arnold Tsunga said the police "jumped the gun". "What the police have done means you cannot make such claims against ministers and powerful politicians and we are saying that is wrong," said Tsunga. Contacted for comment, police spokesman Inspector Andrew Phiri said: "I don't know anything about that case. Why don't you check with Bvudzijena." Bvudzijena was not reachable on his cellphone.
Government scuttles Easter treat for suspected mercenaries
By our own Staff
A PLANNED treat for the 70 suspected mercenaries being held at Harare's Chikurubi maximum prison was thwarted when the government abruptly announced that it would no longer allow inmates to receive food from their families.
Chikurubi prison officials on Good Friday turned away sumptuous food worth about $4 million which had been brought by the suspected mercenaries' lawyer, Jonathan Samkange.The move by the prison officials followed a recent and controversial government ban prohibiting Chikurubi inmates from receiving food from outside the highly secured complex. The ban is only restricted to Chikurubi where the suspected mercenaries are being held and does not apply to any other prison in Zimbabwe. Samkange, who is representing all the 70 suspected mercenaries, said he was baffled by the government's ban because his clients have not yet been convicted. "They (clients) have been complaining that they are not getting adequate food and on a daily basis we have been bringing them food to supplement what they are getting at Chikurubi," said Samkange. "But on Friday it was different - we wanted them to enjoy a treat in view of the Easter holiday. I had brought apples, grapes, a half chicken and chips for each of them. "I was told at the gate that inmates were no longer allowed to get food from outside for security reasons. I do not even know what security they are talking about," said the lawyer. Assistant Police Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena would not disclose to The Standard the nature of the security concerns the government was worried about.
Chief accused of stock theft
By our own Staff
FREDDY Sami, a prominent Midlands chief known as Chief Gambiza is facing allegations of stock theft after selling two oxen and a steer - under his custody - to a local butchery.
Provincial Magistrate Auxillia Chipo Chiumburu remanded Sami (50) - who is facing allegations of stocktheft worth $2 million - out of custody to June 3.According to the State case, the Chief allegedly told three of his subordinates, who were looking after a herd of stray oxen to drive them to his homestead. Chief Gambiza allegedly sold two oxen and one steer to a local butchery. The Chief, represented by Tinovinga Maputsenyika of Maputsenyika and Associates, is denying the charges.
Liberators' body calls for 2005 poll boycott
By our own Staff
BULAWAYO - The Zimbabwe Liberators' Peace Initiative (ZLPI) says Zimbabweans should boycott next year's general election because of the uneven playing field. In an interview, ZLPI President, Max Mkandla said Zanu PF was increasingly becoming a threat not only to the opposition MDC but also to the entire African continent.
"I am appealing to all genuine freedom fighters including ex-Zimbabwe's People Revolutionary Army (ZIPRA), war collaborators and Zimbabweans in general to join hands and block ZANU PF from stealing next year's elections," said Mkandla."The level of contest is not even because the opposition in this country is not allowed to campaign under the draconian law of POSA, so the best way of shaming the devil Zanu PF is to boycott the so-called elections," said the ZLPI leader. Mkandla said even the Election Supervisory Commission (ESC) headed by lawyer Sobuza Gula Ndebele was not transparent, making the whole electoral process "absolutely nonsense". "Surely, the must not be any form of election to take place come 2005. We urgently need a home-grown Constitution that gives everybody an equal platform in terms of campaigning," he said.
No business like Zanu PF business
Shavings from The Woodpecker
State of Palestine business DID you know that many Palestinians are born, live and die without setting foot outside an area the size of Highfield?
Their movements from one area to another are regulated and they have to carry an Israeli pass to travel out of their homes in the West Bank and Gaza, both about the size of Highfield.On this page we carry a letter from Leslie Vollenhoven complaining that Woodpecker's story on slain Hamas leader Sheik Ahmed Hassan was biased against Israel. Leslie says the story leaves him with no doubt of where Woodpecker's sympathies lie - he is entitled to his views. Where we differ is the assumption that Jews have been very magnanimous to Palestinians - far from it. We do not question the right of Israel to exist, what we question is the status quo where Israelis continue to squeeze Palestinians out of the little area they call home and insist that Israeli military is the solution to the problem. Far from what some religious zealots want us to believe, this is not a problem created by God or Allah. The Arab-Israeli conflict is a man-made problem. Only man will solve the problem and whatever little effort can be made to do that, should be welcome to both Jew and Gentle. Or to Jews and Arabs. More monkey business WE said it before, this is the Chinese Year of the Monkey, so expect a lot of monkey business to happen, even here in Uncle Bob's land of milk and honey. What more can one say considering the unfolding saga of the Kadoma woman who claims the motor-mouth minister fathered her illegitimate son. Whether one would want to believe Jonathan Nathaniel Manheru-Moyo that he never sowed his wild oats in Silobela (but anywhere else near Disneyland!), the question still remains: Why would Irene Ali pick on Moyo in a nation of more than seven million males. Our junior minister of information is not exactly pin-up material, is he, eh ladies? And if this is a simple matter of paternity - as we believe it would have been had Moyo not abused State newspapers - then why does Nathaniel not demand a partenity test? His argument that a sibling of his should surely look like him is amateurish and can only be from someone who failed biology at secondary school. Millions of children on this earth do not look like their fathers and mothers but scientifically their DNAs would match, wouldn't they. In any case if the 22-year-old Isaac Mwedini does indeed not look like Manheru-Moyo, then we should count our blessings. One Manheru-Moyo is enough for this country. No business like Zanu PF business SOME of the things done by the governing Zanu PF party are just too hard to contemplate. For instance, did it have to take 24 years after independence for the ruling party to know that you have to audit company accounts? Are we to believe - were we to analyise why the party has suddenly appointed a team to investigate its own companies - that the Joshi brothers (and others of Asian descent who seemed to have the monopoly on party businesses) were over the years left largely to themselves to manage Zanu PF companies? We hope this committee will be transparent and say how much the Zanu PF companies made in their two-decade old of existence and what has happened to that money. It would also be interesting, while we are at it, to find out what special relationship did the Joshis and others have with senior Zanu PF officials such as the unnamed top politician who is supposed to have escorted them to the airport on their hurried journey out of Zimbabwe. We know we are now treading on dangerous territory but let the truth be said: this so-called probe smells to high heaven. Like the flurry of accusations of torture by people who say the police forced them to nail Speaker of Assembly Emmerson Mnangagwa, one is left with the impression that there is more to the probe than meets the eye. Is it not safe to say - unlike what Jonathan Moyo wanted us to believe - that the knives are out for Mngangagwa who for years headed Zanu PF's treasury? This investigation and some of the stories that have recently appeared in the media appear as part of the serious jockeying for positions for the ultimate prize: the chance to succeed Uncle Bob Mugabe. Were Zanu PF not such a secretive organisation, it would have been very interesting to wait for the findings of the team probing its businesses. But then - with all things Zanu PF - that report is likely to end up FUYO (for Uncle Bob's eyes only) and never see the light of the day. Whether this probe is genuine or not, what is clear is that someone is after the man known in Zanu PF circles as "Ngwena" - the crocodile. Or State House business THERE is no doubt that when the First Lady Grace Mugabe speaks, many Zimbabweans are stopped on their tracks. So Woodpecker was one of those riveted when Cde Grace chose the occasion of the launch of the wordy National Community Home-based Care Standards Document to impart her wisdom on a whole lot of issues, more so on the HIV/Aids pandemic. The reason why many Zimbabweans stop and listen when the ever-elegantly dressed Cde Grace speaks is because such occasions are as rare as the audited accounts of Zanu PF companies. Compared to her spouse, though, Cde Grace is far from the polished public orator that she obviously strives to become. Where she lacks in oratory skills, though, she makes up with some astonishing statements that make many wonder what sort of dinner talk goes on at State House. Once again the First Lady had fawning government ministers and Zanu PF supporters eating out of her hand by telling the nation HIV/Aids awareness initiatives would be greatly enhanced if government ministers submitted themselves for voluntary Aids tests. All very well, but one would say if she really meant what she said and that "it is high time we started at the top", why doesn't Cde Grace and Uncle Bob go for a public HIV/Aids test? If we are talking of starting at the top, surely Cde Grace knows her own husband President Robert Mugabe is the topmost government official in this country. As the motor mouth minister would say - were his opionion sought - it hardly needs the brains of a rocket scientist to calculate who is at the top of the pile in this country's affairs.
Thousands of kilometres away in the sweaty humidity of Equatorial Guinea's island capital, Malabo, a group of South Africans slaked their thirst and braaied at a house in the suburb of Caraculas.
A number of them who had been watching CNN "chuckled cynically" that the "poor bastards in Zim are going to get their tails reamed in Uncle Bob's jails", said a man who attended the braai, speaking on insistence of anonymity.
Hours later, these men too were behind bars, accused by the Equatorial Guinea government of taking part in a plot to overthrow the country's dictatorial ruler, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo.
Days later, authorities linked them to the 70 men in Zimbabwe and said they had been an advance group laying the ground for a coup d'état. One of them, businessman Nick du Toit, was hauled out on national television where he "confessed" his role in the plot, saying: "It wasn't a question of taking the life of the head of state, but of spiriting him away, taking him to Spain and forcing him into exile."
The anonymous source said: "All the South Africans now in jail were there [at the braai]. They were chuckling cynically about the arrests. They didn't seem at all perturbed. They didn't behave in any way like the advance party for a force of mercenaries. They ended the evening watching a couple of movies on TV.
"If these guys are mercenaries then I'm a rocket scientist. Nick du Toit is about as fit as a fiddler on a roof. The German guy [Gerhard Eugen Nershz, who died less than 10 days later as a result of cerebral malaria or torture] smoked huge Cuban cigars and had to take deep breaths when he walked a few paces.
" 'Bones' Boonzaaier has got such arthritis his one arm is almost folded over. I'll put my head on a block that there is a story behind the story."
As they stood around the fire that Sunday afternoon in the shadow of the cloud-capped 3 100m Pico Malabo - a dormant volcano overlooking the town - there was another subject of discussion: early morning raids on hotels across the capital.
A South African who had been working in Malabo said: " It was about 2.30am. I was woken up and plucked out of my hotel room by a bunch of cops. They were going to put me in a paddy wagon and take me off to the clink. Fortunately a guy at reception had the presence of mind to call my boss.
"They were ranting and raving at me in Spanish. There must have been about 30 of them. They were rounding up everything that walked. The street was fully covered. They pulled all the South Africans out of their hotels. It was chaos."
One woman was assaulted. "A friend of mine and his girlfriend were visiting. The police demanded her documents. They were shouting at her but she didn't understand. She was saying, 'No comprendo, no comprendo,' and they whacked her on the head with a rifle."
In the days that followed, South Africans were routinely harassed. Some moved from their hotels to the safer confines of the sites where they worked. Many left. "There were roadblocks aplenty. Every time the troops or cops saw a South African passport there was groot kak."
The South African said he had also been robbed at gunpoint by members of the presidential guard. "They were in their blue camouflage uniforms. They stopped the car and were demanding money from me. They had two AK-47s pointed at me and they wanted to take my documents but I refused to let them.
"I had my money in a roll and as I tried to peel one note off they grabbed the whole lot. I think it was about R120. They basically hate South Africans, yet they go to South Africa and thank us for our assistance in stopping this supposed coup."
A local resident with links to the opposition said indications that something was afoot first became evident in February. "I went to Bata, a coastal town on the mainland, and they were saying on radio that people were not allowed to take photographs of anything. On about February 21 there was news that a tribunal of judges had been set up and that security forces were rounding up people close to the president and putting them on trial.
"After that, if you looked different, if you were a foreigner, you were quickly rounded up. It started coming out that a coup was being planned."
There have been six coup attempts in Equatorial Guinea since 1996. "It used to be that there was a coup attempt every four years. Now there is one every time there is an election. The president wants to create fear in the population so that they vote for him."
Equatorial Guinea goes to the polls on April 25 for local elections.
However, some see the men in custody as "terrorists". Said a government clerk: "These people wanted to kill us. They came like terrorists. Before doing any of the things they had planned, like deposing the president, many people would have died. They should be killed."
A nervous calm has settled over the capital, but security remains high and incidents of violence against foreigners continue. On Tuesday, police demanding money savagely beat a Spanish shipping agent. His back and buttocks were left bloody and raw from at least 15 blows with a stick.
Locals remain paranoid of South Africans. When two construction workers were injured in accidents, they had to be helicoptered to Cameroon because a South African medical rescue aircraft was apparently refused landing rights.
And shipping industry sources said a vessel, the Baltimar Venus - carrying equipment from Durban bound for US oil company Marathon and Lebanese construction firm CCC - could not discharge its cargo until a security team had been assembled to inspect it.
The Port Control boss allegedly accepted a $5 000 bribe, but then refused to allow the cargo in saying only the president could approve it since it came from South Africa.
At the airport, South Africans are routinely plucked from queues and quizzed by police about their intentions.
Yet Information Minister Agustin Nse-Nfumu claimed in an interview this week: "You know the good relationship between South Africa and Equatorial Guinea. I don't know how a South African cannot be welcome in Equatorial Guinea."
On the streets, amid decaying buildings dating from when the country was a Spanish colony, armed soldiers, police, palace guards and the occasional member of the president's Moroccan security team keep a wary eye on strangers.
Movement around the orange presidential palace in the heart of Malabo is strictly controlled. Despite claims to the contrary by Nse-Nfumu, taking photographs of the town's spectacular cathedral are prohibited by police determined to dish out fines and extort bribes.
Information is scarce. The few newspapers that exist are government-controlled, as are radio and television stations. Rumours in the streets, bars and expatriate nightclubs are filled with increasingly wild tales of murder, rape, disappearances and even cannibalism - all of them hotly denied by the authorities.
Australia tour still on
Board monitors Zimbabwe situation
April 10, 2004
Cricket Australia has said that it is monitoring the deteriorating situation affecting cricket in Zimbabwe extremely closely, but added that May's tour was not in doubt.
Up to a dozen of Zimbabwe's leading players are reported to have been sacked by the Zimbabwe Cricket Union after talks with the board over the recent dismissal of Heath Streak ended in deadlock on Friday. The players gave the board until next Wednesday to come up with a solution, but on Saturday it emerged that Ozias Bvute - the ZCU board member in charge of racial quotas sent them all messages saying that that he had dismissed them for not turning up to play in the weekend's domestic matches.
Even Zimbabwe's best side would be fodder for the Australians at the moment, so great has been their decline in the last year, but without most of the current side, the games would almost certainly be close to being farces.
But Cricket Australia maintained its line that the tour would proceed. "It's not for another six weeks or so," said Peter Young, its general manager of public affairs. "We are, as we always do with overseas tours, monitoring the domestic situation in relation to safety and security and we're clearly also interested in what's going on with the team itself."
© Wisden Cricinfo Ltd
Zimbabwe in crisis over
By Neil Manthorp
Zimbabwe's national cricket team may very soon contain no white players at all. Radical, anti-white invective is running more deeply than ever before in a sport that has become poisoned beyond antidote by politics, and the politics of fear.
English sportsmen take free speech and personal freedom for granted. Most Englishmen of any disposition do. In Zimbabwe, however, one of the national selectors comes from a Harare club that survives through the terror it creates. He has never played cricket, but is an active supporter of Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party. His name is Steve Mangongo.
At his Takashinga club, players wear Zanu-PF t-shirts at nets. It was this club that instantly banned Henry Olonga for life after his World Cup protest with Andy Flower last year.
The convenor of the national selectors is Max Ebrahim, son of Justice Ahmed Ebrahim, who has voiced his disapproval of the government's ways, and has served the ICC as a match referee and judicial representative. Max, however, has inherited none of his father's values and is happy to be led down the road of racial division by Mangongo and the man who appears to hold more power than anyone at the moment, Ozias Bvute.
Bvute was appointed to the executive board as a result of racial power 'balancing' yet his mission appears to rid Zimbabwean cricket of anybody and everybody white, hence the removal of Streak last week in a classic 'ambush' and the sacking of 10 white, nationally contracted players on Friday. The players were given permission to skip this weekend's first-class Logan Cup matches but Bvute overruled that decision and declared the players fired when they failed to play.
Bvute is in charge of implementing Zimbabwe's annually increasing quota system. This year there have to be six black players on the field at both Test and one-day level. In a move that would not have been out of place in apartheid South Africa, Bvute has declared that Deon Ebrahim, of Asian decent and previously included in quota numbers, would now be regarded as white.
In Zimbabwe the national selectors' powers do not stop with the national team. They also select squads for the provincial teams, Mashonaland, Matabeleland, Manicaland and Midlands, so they can effectively boost and terminate the careers of every player in the country - and frequently do so on politically motivated whims. It has resulted in the creation of a non-merit culture. No wonder Streak asked for a review of the selection processes.
Financial irregularities have long been a part of the game in Zimbabwe with the players suffering more and more. Personal allowances during tours, as prescribed by the ICC, have been paid in largely worthless local currency while the major funds are spirited away to pay for extravagances that would shame any country in the world.
The entire board, with partners, travelled to Australia last year during the triangular series that, happily, coincided with the Rugby World Cup. Many players, meanwhile, were struggling to get by and those at home were told there was no money for the national league.
No wonder Streak, the sacked former captain, also asked for full accountability from the ZCU's administrators.
And how frustrating for the ICC's chief executive, Malcolm Speed, that he could not say anything during or after his visit to the country last week. The Zimbabwe issue is simply too sensitive in world cricket and if Speed were to admit there were problems within cricket, as well as the rest of the country, he could be seen as giving England the choice not to tour in November. The ramifications of that could be catastrophic. Lowly Kenya, however, can be happily rapped over the knuckles and told to put their house in order.
The corruption that has characterised the Zimbabwean nation for so long has been spreading as surely as unchecked cancer, and now cricket, which cleverly disguised its condition for so long with brave and wholehearted performances on the field, is sick to the core too.
11 April 2004
The agonising by England over their tour to Zimbabwe comes, with cruel timing, at a moment when the game itself in the African country is in genuine crisis.
Reports yesterday indicated that up to 10 white players had been sacked by the Zimbabwe Cricket Union board member responsible for racial quotas in the continuing furore following the removal of Heath Streak as captain. The move could eliminate any white presence from the national team. Streak has called for the International Cricket Council to "come here and investigate the grave situation at all levels of the game".
According to the ZCU, Streak gave them an ultimatum last week to restructure the national selection panel or he would quit. The board rejected his demands and said Streak had resigned from playing at all levels in the country. Streak wanted all selectors to have had personal experience of first-class cricket and said that none should hold conflicting interests, such as being commentators or ZCU directors. That would have meant the removal of a black selector with no first-class experience and an Asian TV commentator.
The state-run Herald newspaper responded by labelling Streak a racist. Wicketkeeper Tatenda Taibu was appointed to replace him, and at 20 is due to become the youngest captain in Test history against Sri Lanka next week. A number of Streak's team-mates gave the board an ultimatum after a marathon meeting last week to reinstate Streak by Wednesday or they would resign en masse.
The ICC had no official comment to make yesterday, apart from emphasising that it was an internal issue. However, they may be disconcerted by the turn of events in Harare.
|Road accidents so far kill 21 people in Zimbabwe|
|www.chinaview.cn 2004-04-11 04:21:51|
HARARE, 10 (Xinhuanet) -- A total of 21 people have been killed sofar during the Easter Holidays while 155 were injured from 163 road accidents occurring across Zimbabwe, police here said Saturday.
Police spokesman Andrew Phiri said that the capital Harare and Mashonaland East provinces both recorded four deaths each, the highest figure in the country.
The death toll from road accidents was only five on Friday, butrose rapidly in Saturday, standing at 21.
Phiri said a startling 163 accidents occurred from Friday up tomid-morning on Saturday, while police issued a total of 3,074 tickets to motorist offenses, ranging from speeding, reckless driving and drink-and-driving. The total fine amounts to 86 million Zimbabwean dollars (about 20,000 US dollars).
Phiri urged road users to exercise extreme caution as unwarranted deaths continue to rise due to road accidents.
He said police have maintained enough patrols aiming at reducing road accidents and other criminal activities.
Bulawayo residents face water cuts
By Savious Kwinika
BULAWAYO City Council has resolved to cut off water supplies to more than a thousand residents in a bid to recover about $500 million the local authority is being owed, The Standard has learnt.
City Treasurer Middleton Nyoni told a full council meeting here last week that there was need to beef up cash resources by intensifying urgent water disconnections with a view to force the residents to comply with council orders."The disconnection plan of action had envisaged that teams be placed in all suburbs at once so that the impact of the disconnections would be felt throughout the city. "The City Treasurer therefore recommends that the cut off team be given top priority by all and in the meantime, the disconnection exercise be continued," said Nyoni. Last month the Bulawayo Executive Mayor Japhet Ndabeni-Ncube threatened to cut all water supplies to the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) barracks, Zimbabwe Republic Po-lice (ZRP) camps in Bulawayo and to many government offices for an accrued debt hovering above $3 billion. After Ndebeni-Ncube's statement, the ZNA, police and several other government departments rushed to settle their debts to avoid water cuts. To date, the residents owe the council a whopping $419 898 840,82 in water arrears.
Army defies court order over farm
By Caiphas Chimhete
THE Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA), the police and some members of the State security service on Friday sealed off Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) MP Roy Bennet's Charleswood Estate in Chimanimani despite a recent High Court provisional order barring them from interfering with operations at the farm.
Bennet's lawyer Arnold Tsunga told The Standard that the security agents had cordoned off the estate and were stopping people - including farm workers - from entering or leaving the coffee-producing farm.Tsunga said the presence of the army and police had thrown farming operations at the once prosperous farm into total disarray. "They came in trucks this morning (Friday) and sealed off the farm. At the moment no one is leaving or entering. Surprisingly, there is a provisional order granted by Justice Karwi barring them from interfering with the operations at the farm," said Tsunga, who is also the executive director of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR). The provisional order, which was granted by Justice Karwi in February, was served on the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Zimbabwe Republic Police, the ZNA and the Agriculture and Rural Development Authority (Arda). According to Tsunga the order was granted by consent when all the parties were represented. "Such conduct undermines the independence of the judiciary and the administration of justice. It also fosters a culture of lawlessness in the country," noted Tsunga. He added: "We are getting increasingly worried by the wanton disregard of court orders by the authorities who have the responsibility to enforce them. There is no way we can revive the economy in the current environment of extreme anarchy." Police spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena would not be reached for a comment.
War veteran aquitted as police fail to appear in court
By our own Staff
BULAWAYO - War veterans leader Lucky Ndlovu (55) last week walked out of the Western Commonage courts here a free man after police failed to give evidence against the former freedom fighter accused of torching a house belonging to an MDC activist during the run up to the 2002 presidential election.
Police officers who were supposed to testify against the war veteran did not turn up on numerous occasions resulting in Magistrate Jeniffer Chikata discharging the accused because of lack of police evidence.The State's case by Tony Nyamudyariwa was that on March 3 2002, the Bulawayo war veterans' leader was in the company of some Zanu PF youths who clashed with MDC supporters in Pumula high-density suburb. During the fight, it is alleged, some rogue Zanu PF supporters led by Ndlovu went and burnt down Regina Ndlovu's house and destroyed property worth millions of dollars. Ndlovu is a single mother, who was staying alone at the time.
MIC licences new daily
By our own Staff
THE Media and Information Commission (MIC) is understood to have granted a licence for a new daily newspaper that should be launched within months, it was learnt last week.
MIC chairman Tafataona Mahoso granted the licence for The Daily Times last week but could not be reached for comment.In spite of the secrecy shrouding the project, The Standard understands that veteran journalist and former editor-in-chief of The Financial Gazette Francis Mdlongwa is one of the project promoters. A former ZBC staffer Taona Rusere is the project's co-promoter. Approached on Friday, Mdlongwa said he could not commit himself to the project. "What I can say is that I am involved largely in an advisory capacity in a newspaper project owned by a Zimbabwean consortium. At this stage I cannot give much although I can say that some marked progress had been made in this regard," he said. Rusere said he would only make an announcement when "time is ripe" for him to do so.
Gono policy scuttles Bulawayo council's bid to raise $2,3bn
By Loughty Dube
BULAWAYO - The cash strapped Bulawayo City Council's attempts to raise over $2,3 billion on the open market for its capital projects has hit a brick wall after financial institutions that were awarded tenders to raise the funds were hard hit by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe's new monetary policy.
The four financial institutions that were awarded tenders last year to source the money for the council are currently facing constraints that range from viability to liquidity problems and have indicated that they would not be able to raise the money.The council in August awarded Century Advisory Services, Kingdom Bank, Intermarket and Scotfin tenders to raise $2,309 billion to finance its capital projects that have been in limbo for the last six months. Up to date none of the four financial institutions has managed to raise a single cent for the council at a time when it is facing a cash flow crisis worsened by residents' resistance to new rate increases. Intermarket Building Society, which was tasked to raise $423 million for the council, is now under a curatorship, while Kingdom Bank - mandated to raise $ 683 million - has been hauled before the courts on allegations of externalising foreign currency. Century Advisory Services, which was supposed to raise more than $1 billion, is currently in discussions with CFX Bank which might take it over. The financial institutions have however said they would want to review the agreement they made with council. The institutions now want council to raise the funds through short-term methods. Century Advisory Services in February this year wrote to council advising it on its change of heart. "Since the announcement of the monetary policy statement by the Governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe on December 18 2003 some significant changes have taken place in the financial markets," says Century's letter to Bulawayo City Council. "As such these will have to be taken into account in effecting future financing arrangements the pricing structure of financing of the proposal has to be reviewed in line with the current market conditions and dictates." The Council's Finance and Development Committee has however resolved that it would float fresh tenders inviting interested parties in its bid to raise instant cash. According to council minutes, Treasurer Middleton Nyoni has been authorised to raise the cash without following normal council procedures but should only provide information to councillors on his progress. Bulawayo was granted borrowing powers by the government last year when it applied for cash to complete capital projects and to purchase ambulances and to repair the city's roads.
Zesa tariff hike threatens companies
By Richard Musazulwa
GWERU - Manufacturing firms in the Midlands are threatened with closure if the massive hike in electricity tariffs by Zesa is not urgently reviewed. This emerged during an industrial tour of Gweru companies last week by Samuel Mumbengegwi, the Minister of Industry and International Trade.
Two giant companies in the city - glass and shoe manufacturing, Zimglass and Bata Shoe Company - raised concern over the high tariffs that they said affected the smooth operation of their companies as well as those of other smaller manufacturers in the province.They said the impact and effect of this massive tariff hike would result in employee lay-offs or the total collapse of the manufacturing sector in the province. Jacob Dube, Zimglass managing director, said his company paid $6 million in electricity bills in February alone and was shocked to receive another $26 million bill for March. An official from Bata told the minister that the shoe maker might be forced to close its Kwekwe plant and transfer critical staff to the main plant in Gweru should the electricity hikes keep going up. In response, Mumbengegwi promised to take up the matter to higher authorities. Zimbabwe's poor economic environment has made the country unable to generate enough power and now it relies heavily on electricity imports at much higher costs. The poorly managed Wankie Colliery is also not operating at full capacity thereby failing to produce adequate coal to feed the three thermal stations in Harare, Munyati and Bulawayo. National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) has also compounded the problems through its failure to repair more than 100 wagons and locomotives to help transport, at cheaper cost, the little available coal to the thermal stations
Fare hikes anger Mutare commuters
By Our Own Correspondent
MUTARE - Urban commuter operators here last week hiked commuter fares by 50 percent raising the ire of the already over-burdened residents.
Fares from city to Dangamvura, which is about 12km from the city centre - were raised from $1 000 for a single trip to $1 500.Residents of Saku-bva and Chikanga suburbs, both which are less than 5 kms from the city centre, will now have to fork out $1 200 for a journey that used to cost only $800. Isau Mupfumi, President of the Zimbabwe Stage Carriage Association, (ZSCA) Manicaland region, last week defended the fare increases saying the cost of running their business was under threat if they did not hike fares. ZSCA is an association of public transport operators. "Long distance bus operators have increased their fares and we had no choice but to follow suit as we are in the same industry," said Mupfumi. But commuters last week lashed out at the operators accusing them of robbing them of their hard-earned money. "These new fares were never officially announced before being effected. It is my belief that these fares were never gazetted by the government as is the usual practice, hence they are illegal," fumed Emily Munyoro of Sakubva in Mutare. Munyoro said the operators should have at least informed the commuters in advance of the impending increment. Another Mutare resident, Ronald Muuya said the fare increment would lead to many residents resorting to walking to and from town to cut down on transport costs. "Most of us can no longer cope with the cost of living in the city. We will have to walk some of the days if our salaries are to last the whole month," Muuya said. He said he was also contemplating buying a second hand bicycle to use for travelling to and from town. Mupfumi - who operates probably the largest fleet of commuter buses in Manicaland - said spares for buses were too expensive. He told The Standard for the public transport sector to remain viable increments had to be effected when necessary.
SA businessmen interrogated over mercenary connection
By Rangarirai Mberi
NINE South African businessmen were recently held by police in Kariba and interrogated for 24 hours on suspected links to the mercenary group captured in Harare last month.
The South Africans, among whom was Old Mutual Properties (South Africa) Chairman Tim Cumming, were stopped by police while cruising on the Zambezi River two weeks ago. The nine were part of the Old Mutual Wakka tour, which is travelling across the region to raise funds for an anti-malaria campaign.The nine were only released after the intervention of officials from the Ministry of Health, with whom they had been working on the anti-malaria campaign. Interventions from officials of Old Mutual's Harare office and an unidentified Harare lawyer also helped secure the nine's release. Cumming and one colleague were held at the Mana Pools tourist resort, while seven others, including Andrew Weinberg and Brent Wiltshire, also of Old Mutual Properties, were taken in for questioning. Businessmen Mark di Nicola George and Groote Schuur, lawyer Bob Groeneveld, neurosurgeon Patrick Semple and photographer Athol Moult were also among those taken in by police. Reports last week suggested the police suspected the group, which was travelling on two motorised inflatable boats, was linked to the 70 suspected mercenaries captured by security forces last month. The suspected mercenaries are mostly South Africans and Angolans and are accused of having been part of a larger group seeking the ouster of Equatorial Guinea President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasiga. A senior Old Mutual official confirmed the bizarre incident last week, but insisted the matter had been resolved amicably and the nine were now "safely in Mozambique". "What they said is they were interrogated throughout the night. They were asked about their mission in Zimbabwe and questions like where they had received military training," the Old Mutual official, who would not be named, said. The group was only carrying ordinary camping equipment and was not in possession of any weapons, the official said. The seven were interrogated for at least 24 hours and deprived of sleep, food and water but according to Cumming, they were not physically hurt. "It's appalling this should happen. There was a long list of basic rights that were abused, however, no-one was physically harmed," Cumming was quoted as saying last week. National Parks officers told the group that motorised boats were not allowed in the Mana Pools area, and the parks agents reportedly expressed doubts on the authenticity of their permits. "Initially we thought we would have to pay a fine or paddle out but it became clear that it wasn't just an issue of permits. They took our passports. Later, a police inspector arrived saying they wanted us to go down to the police station," Cumming said. The government, which has in recent years become deeply sensitive to matters regarding security, has reportedly placed sections of the country's security forces on alert following the arrest of alleged mercenaries.