Zimbabwe will join other Southern African Development Community (SADC)
military forces in a mission to bring peace to the Democratic Republic of
Congo, where rebels of the M23 movement are fighting against the Congolese
SADC Executive Secretary Tomaz Salomao told the VOA that the decision was
made after the regional bloc agreed at a summit in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania,
on Saturday to activate the organization’s stand-by force to the border
between the DRC and Rwanda to try and neutralize the rebels.
The DRC is part of SADC and there are fears that the security crisis there
may spill over to its neighbours in the region.
This will be the second time Zimbabwe is sending troops to the DRC. It first
deployed soldiers in 1998 to support the Congolese government, which was
then fighting rebels backed by Rwanda and Uganda.
This was a costly war that some economic analysts say played a huge part in
the decline of the Zimbabwean economy.
But this time around will be different, according to the Permanent Secretary
in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Joey Bimha, who said Zimbabwean troops
will only be deployed for peacekeeping and the cash-strapped Zimbabwean
government will not foot the bill.
Interview with Joey Bimha
Bimha said this is a SADC initiative composed of soldiers from all member
states and not an initiative by individual countries.
The regional bloc is said to be working on the modalities and the troops are
expected to be dispatched in a matter of weeks.
“This is what is called a neutral international force and SADC will have to
source out funding for it… Zimbabwe will contribute troops and of course at
some expense to it but most of the expenses are going to be sourced from
outside from the African Union and even the United Nations.”
Bimha said the mission, which is not likely to take more than a year, will
aim to keep the rival sides apart and achieve some level of stability in the
eastern side of the Congo, while the Joseph Kabila government can extend its
control of the area.
Independent political commentator Rejoice Ngwenya, said the Zimbabwean
parliament should not be ignored in making the decision to send troops to
the DRC even if they are part of the SADC peace keeping force.
He said: “Even if we are part of the SADC family that has helped broker a
lot of misunderstandings in Zimbabwe, the case of déjà vu and our experience
in the DRC – a war that has no cause, and even considering our national
resources there is nothing that justifies our intervention in the DRC.
“We were there before. We lost millions of dollars every day and that war
was responsible for taking our economy down.”
Ngwenya said even though the current constitution does not necessarily
require parliament to approve the deployment of troops to foreign countries,
the legislators should at least be able to “sit down and look at the facts,
look at the financial implications and also look at the political
WEDNESDAY, 12 DECEMBER 2012 08:41
AT LEAST 70 000 trained teachers fled Zimbabwe to neighbouring countries due
to political violence that rocked the country between 2000-2008 resulting in
permanent closure of about 82% of farm schools, a think-tank has said.
According to a research by the Research and Advocacy Unit (RAU), most of the
teachers who fled the country’s political upheavals were now based in
neighbouring South Africa.
The report – titled Fragility And Education In Zimbabwe: Assessing The
Impact Of Violence On Education by Lloyd Pswarayi and Tony Reeler – showed
that the education sector was under siege as violence was rearing its ugly
head again ahead of possible elections sometime next year.
“The reasons for the attacks, it has been established, have been politically
motivated, and research has revealed that violence is State-sponsored, or at
least State-condoned. Hence children not only had their education disrupted,
but also experienced politically-motivated intimidation and witnessed
political violence. However, violence in schools and against teachers was
not confined to commercial farms, but was widespread,” the RAU report said.
“Since 2000, Zimbabwe has lost nearly 70 000 trained teachers mainly to
neighbouring South Africa; the reasons were associated with the state of the
economy, but politically-motivated violence against teachers was also an
As a result, Zimbabwe was now among 31 countries in the world – including
Iraq, Palestine, Ivory Coast, and Burma/Myanmar – where attacks on educators
had been documented.
“Many commercial farms had primary schools for the children of their
workforces, and these schools (and especially their teachers) became foci
for political violence and intimidation. One study estimated that 82% of
the schools on farms had been closed or downsized.”
The report also claimed that three-quarters of farm workers and
schoolchildren were forced to attend political meetings.
Teachers were targeted because they were perceived to be educated and
influential members of local communities.
Their involvement as polling officers during elections was also cited as
another factor that contributed to their victimisation.
Education minister David Coltart has repeatedly urged political parties to
stop conducting rallies at schools to safeguard teachers - Newsday.
By Tichaona Sibanda
12 December 2012
Police in KweKwe have promised to turn the heat up on the activities of the
terror group Alshabab, by keeping a close eye on its operations, an MDC-T MP
said on Wednesday.
The group calls itself Alshabab (the boys or youth in Arabic) after the
notoriously bloodthirsty Somali based Islamic terror group and claims to
promote ZANU PF’s controversial indigenization drive in the Midlands based
But Settlement Chikwinya, the Mbizo legislator, said they had a meeting with
the police on Monday and the three Midlands JOMIC co-chairpersons
representing political parties in the GPA. It was decided to pursue all
cases perpetrated by the rogue militants until violence is weeded out in the
areas they operate.
In the last few months the terror outfit has induced fear in the general
public in KweKwe with the primary objective of ensuring people vote ZANU PF
in next year’s elections.
The MP told SW Radio Africa that following a spate of attacks on innocent
civilians in his constituency orchestrated by the Alshabab, he had written a
letter of complaint to JOMIC about the lethargy of the police in failing to
arrest members of the deadly group.
‘I wrote this letter in October and it has taken two months for JOMIC and
the senior leadership of the police in KweKwe to convene a meeting and
deliberate on the constituency’s concerns on the activities of Alshabab,
especially around Section 4 shopping centre,’ Chikwinya said.
He emphasized that it is on record the group has been on a spree of
terrorizing patrons and shoppers at the shopping complex.
‘ The long and short of the meeting is that we agreed to alert members of
the community to report to the police these cases of harassment and forward
the crime report or RRB number to my constituency office. People can also
text the constituency hotline.
‘The intention is to pursue all reported cases and see to it that the police
have acted on them as they promised on Monday. All cases will be forwarded
to JOMIC until we weed out any form of violence in our community.
‘I appreciate the lack of confidence which people have in our police, given
how they handled previous cases, but let’s ride on this new page and give
the police a chance to execute this new commitment. Police argue that while
they got to know of the cases of violence, victims were reluctant to report
thereby making the cases difficult to prosecute,’ the MP added.
Chikwinya said it was a disturbing fact that nothing had been done to
perpetrators of the violence in his constituency.
‘The police have shown no enthusiasm to deal robustly with violence by ZANU
PF linked individuals or groups and one wonders the reason for this
reluctance,’ he asked.
He called on the police to show courage and be proactive in prosecuting
violence offences brought to them, to serve as a deterrent to others,
especially in the run-up to crucial elections set for next year.
The number for the constituency hotline, to report cases of harassment, is
By Alex Bell
12 December 2012
Zimbabwe’s coalition government is being urged to immediately declare all
schools across the country ‘peace zones’ before the next election, with
warnings that teachers will once again be targets of political violence.
This recommendation was made in a new report on the affect violence in
Zimbabwe over the past decade has had on the education system, particularly
on teachers. The report, compiled by the Research and Advocacy Unit (RAU) is
titled: “‘Fragility’ and education in Zimbabwe: Assessing the impact of
violence on education.”
The report explains that in post-independence Zimbabwe, education has been
both “politicized and militarised by the setting up of militia bases in
schools, attacking teachers, and exposing pupils to violence.”
“The impact of the attacks can have serious long-term consequences.
Politically motivated violence against teachers does not only affect the
teachers in person, but affects the prospects of better communities in
general and the nation at large,” the RAU report states.
The report also explains that the long term impact of years of targeted
violence is now being experienced, and the result is a compromised education
system. For example, schools in the rural areas that have experienced high
levels of violence “have continuously failed to attract qualified teachers
and are increasingly manned by temporary teachers.” The report adds that
pass rates have also been very disappointing, “with some schools recording
zero percent pass rates in public examinations.”
“Some of the more direct effect of attacks on teachers include closure of
schools, as happened in 2008 when 94% of all rural schools were reported to
have closed as teachers fled attacks. Even when schools don’t close,
attendance is affected, with the impact felt more by girl children. When
militia bases are set up in schools or within the proximity of schools, they
pose a real and potential danger for pupils of abuse, especially rape or
sexual abuse of girls,” the RAU report warns.
The report also details how 70,000 teachers fled the country between 2000
and 2008 after being directly targeted in campaigns of violence, mainly over
election periods. The RAU report now says that the unity government, set up
in 2008, must immediately declare all schools ‘peace zones’ and enact
legislation that criminalises all education based violence.
This and other recommendations have been drawn from numerous reports by the
Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ), who warned on Wednesday that
teachers are once again set to be singled out in politically motivated
incidents of violence. PTUZ President Takavafira Zhou told SW Radio Africa
that the real problem lies in the unity government’s failure make any real
changes since 2008.
“The government has not made any attempts to improve the lives of teachers
or keep them safe. The government has also failed to reconcile and heal
Zimbabwe and there are no attempts to prepare or educate people,
particularly on the role of teachers. So obviously in the next elections,
teachers will be targeted again,” Zhou warned.
By Tererai Karimakwenda
12 December 2012
A group of 14 gold panners were set free from Hwange Remand Prison last
Friday, following a major outcry from residents in Binga district who
accused the police of targeting only those without ZANU PF cards.
A total of 16 had initially been arrested following accusations that they
were “picking up pebbles” along the Shangani River, where many local
unemployed villagers pan for gold and sell to ZANU PF contacts.
But according to SW Radio Africa correspondent Lionel Saungweme, two of them
had already been convicted. Jabulani Tshuma and Tymon Munenge of Lubimbi in
Binga District are now serving a two year sentence after conviction by a
Saungweme said the local community, led by MDC-T Councillor Temba Toonse
Kunjulu, accused the police of making partisan arrests and targeting only
those gold panners without ZANU PF cards. With no jobs in the area, panning
has become the only means of survival for many.
The community also insists that Councillor Siphiwe Mafuwe be arrested for
buying gold from illegal panners. Mafuwe is well known as a gold dealer in
Saungweme said: “The argument from residents is that the gold is a national
resource that should not be used on a partisan basis. The release of the 14
was a strategic move by the police and ZANU PF, seeing that there is an
election just around the corner.”
Our correspondent also pointed to a resolution made by ZANU PF at their
recent annual conference in Gweru, which said gold panners should not be
arrested as they are only exploiting a national resource that belongs to
“In Zimbabwe areas with minerals are now secured like military barracks.
Only people with ZANU PF cards are allowed access to these areas. People
without ZANU PF cards are arrested and imprisoned,” Saungweme said.
ZANU PF has also been distributing maize seed under a presidential programme
meant for all Zimbabweans. But reports from around the country indicate that
only those with ZANU PF cards are being chosen to receive the much needed
A techinical team assembled by the World Bank has produced a report aimed at
turning around zimbabwe’s troubled economy.
The report which focuses on agriculture, manufacturing and mining was
released in harare today.
However, the world bank’s lending program in zimbabwe is inactive due to
arrears and the role is now limited to technical assistance and analytical
work focusing on macroeconomic policy, food security issues, social sector
expenditures, social service delivery mechanisms and hiv/aids.
The country’s external debt currently stands at 11 billion dollars, making
it difficult for Zimbabwe to secure foreign direct investment.
Permanent secretary in the ministry of economic planning, desire sibanda,
told VOA that the world bank report is key in reviving economic growth which
has remained stagnant.
Meanwhile, Biti also cut his growth forecast to 5.6 % from the 9.4%
projected earlier blaming a poor harvest, lack of donor funding and policy
Zimbabwe registered expansion of 9.3 per cent in 2011, the third straight
year of growth after a decade of economic decline that peaked in 2008 when
inflation hit 500 billion per cent.
Biti said government revenues had stopped growing, a sign that the economy
now needed foreign investment to expand production and boost jobs,
especially in the manufacturing and mining industries.
Wednesday, 12 December 2012 10:43
MASVINGO - He is a fugitive from justice in the United States of America
where he is wanted on a $10 million tax fraud charge.
But Zimbabwean-born Julius Marimbire is living large in his homeland’s
oldest urban settlement, Masvingo, an idyllic town 300 kilometres south of
the capital Harare.
Marimbire, 32, his brothers Kudzaishe and Tawanda and four other Zimbabweans
were indicted for using stolen identities to obtain $10 million in
fraudulent income tax returns in Cincinnati, Ohio in the US.
The other accused are Hlomera Mabhande, 30, Johannes Tagarisa, 37, Kudzaishe
R. Bungu, 26, and Andrew T. Bere, 22.
Yet Julius is spotted everyday cruising in top-of-the range vehicles,
including Range Rovers, the latest Mercedes Benz, a Chrysler, and a Toyota
The flashy Julius is believed to own a fleet of luxury buses which service
the Harare-Johannesburg route as well as haulage trucks.
Julius, often seen sipping expensive single-malt whiskies, loves keeping the
company of the “hottest chicks in town” even though he was married to an
African-American woman when he fled from the US.
He patronises an up-market watering hole Club Liquids, owned by Zanu PF
councilor, Namatirai Chivhanga.
Marimbire, who also owns a mansion in the plush low density suburb of
Rhodene, declined to talk to the Daily News and instead became hostile when
approached for comment.
The crime allegedly dates back to 2007, when the Zimbabweans filed Internal
Revenue Service refund claims totalling as much as $10 million.
“The indictment alleges that the defendants stole personal identifying
information for thousands of actual people,” said Carter Stewart, US
attorney for the Southern District of Ohio.
“They allegedly used this information to file false federal income tax
returns to obtain refunds, often before the actual taxpayers filed
legitimate tax returns. The defendants usually received the fraudulent
refunds on debit cards tied to the returns.”
It is alleged that the seven would deposit false income tax refunds on the
prepaid debit cards working on their behalf, cashing them in at ATM machines
or by purchasing money orders.
They would then allegedly wire the money though African banks to friends and
relatives for purchase of expensive vehicles and buildings in Zimbabwe.
The indictment alleges that Julius, a former Gokomere High School student,
together with one of his brothers who are in federal custody, commenced the
tax scam in 2007 through their dubious company Express Refund Centre,
Marimbire Consultants, and HBM Management.
The conspiracy charges he is facing attracts not less than a 20-year jail
term in the US.
Masvingo provincial police spokesperson Inspector Peter Zhanero declined to
However, Julius, who is popularly known as “Jimba” in the lavish circles he
inhabits in Masvingo, has become a major talking point in this city since
his name emerged in the international media suggesting that he is on the US
wanted list. - Godfrey Mtimba
When the African Union (AU) meets next year in Addis Ababa for its annual
summit, it is expected to put further pressure on President Robert Mugabe to
institute reforms before elections, which the president says he wants held
The AU and Southern African Development Community (SADC) sources told VOA
that President Jacob Zuma, the SADC appointed mediator in Harare, is
expected to table a report on Zimbabwe, which recommends that Harare
At the Zanu PF party annual people’s conference that ended Sunday, Mr.
Mugabe threatened to dissolve parliament and call for elections if the
cabinet committee dealing with the new constitution does not agree to a
final draft before the end of December.
Mr. Mugabe said if the new constitution is not ready, the country must
revert to the revised Lancaster House constitution.
Meeting on Saturday, SADC leaders pushed back, telling Mr. Mugabe to
complete the constitution-making process and implement other reforms agreed
to in the global political agreement.
Sources in SADC and the AU said the bodies are also putting pressure on
President Mugabe, as well as Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki, to ensure that
their next elections are peaceful.
Both countries saw violence leading up to and in the wake of controversial
elections that led to the formation of unity governments.
Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition coordinator Phillan Zamchiya told VOA that Mr.
Mugabe risks being isolated if he remains opposed to pre-electoral reforms.
Wednesday, 12 December 2012 00:00
Isdore Guvamombe Features Editor
National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority rangers have killed two
elephant poachers in the Dande Safari Area in Mbire north of Guruve and
recovered weapons, among them mortar bombs.
Motor bombs are weapons of war and it is yet to be established why the
poachers had such dangerous arms of war.
Items recovered include three mortar-bombs, one 3008 calibre hunting rifle,
one 3008 spent cartridge, three live 3008 rounds of ammunition and six pairs
of elephant tusks weighing 51,4 kg valued at US$12 850.
Parks public relations manager Ms Caroline Washaya Moyo on Monday said the
two poachers killed were from Mashumbi Pools.
The other three poachers ran away.
“Our rangers had a contact with poachers which resulted in the death of two
armed poachers from Mashumbi Pools in the Usanga Usanga hunting camp area of
Dande Safari Area.
“Rangers observed a human spoor of five suspected poachers in the park and
quickly made a follow up and it was during a contact that the two armed
poachers were killed.
“The killed poachers are Andrew Mapfumo and Last Stephanie from Mazambara
Village in Chief Chitsungo’s area.
“In a bid to cover their tracks the poachers started a veldfire as they left
the park,” she said.
One of the deceased Andrew Mapfumo is a known poacher who has been involved
in elephant poaching since 2005 and was convicted and served a custodial
sentence at Guruve and Bindura prisons.
Meanwhile, another suspected Zambian poacher was shot and killed in
Katombola, Hwange National Park last Saturday. Four others escaped through
the Zambezi River. Parks rangers also recovered two rifles, 14 rounds of
ammunition and food with Zambian labels.
“Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority continues to warn would be
poachers that their efforts will be thwarted and the above cases should
serve as a warning to those who are financing poachers that they are
engaging in risky business,’’ Ms Washaya-Moyo said.
on December 12, 2012 at 9:42 am
By Lance Guma
Bulawayo provincial governor Cain Mathema refused to meet the United States
ambassador to Zimbabwe Bruce Wharton because his government slapped targeted
travel and financial restrictions on members of the Mugabe regime.
Wharton was on a maiden tour of Bulawayo and wanted to pay a courtesy call
on the governor. The Zanu PF controlled state media quotes Mathema saying “I
am aware that Wharton is here, but I have not met him.”
“I do not have him in my schedule and I do not want to meet him because his
government imposed sanctions on us. If he comes to my office he will have to
explain why there are sanctions on Zimbabwe,” Mathema is quoted saying.
The U.S. government first applied targeted sanctions in 2003 and targeted
fewer than 120 individuals accused of aiding and abetting the gross human
rights abuses committed by the Zanu PF regime. This saw key members in the
regime being slapped with travel and financial restrictions.
The US ambassador meanwhile took to social networking site Twitter and wrote
on his @BruceWharton account “Shame that governor Mathema (was) not willing
to meet. I would have benefited from his views and progress requires
respectful sharing of ideas.”
Ambassador Wharton would not have benefited much from meeting the
controversially appointed Mathema. A court case brought about by his wife in
2009 exposed the governor as a sex-mad abusive alcoholic.
In September that year Mathema hit the headlines after being extremely
offensive to his wife about her private parts, saying they were ‘too wide’
and that he wanted to marry a virgin to satisfy his ravenous sexual
The Governor at the time was reported to be having an affair with ZBC
reporter Jocelyn Muguya. Mathema’s wife sought to divorce him, arguing in
court that he was an alcoholic and was very abusive every time he arrived
She said the abuse also took place in front of the children.
by Staff Reporter
AIR ZIMBABWE is bracing for a high-stakes safety audit next week that will
determine its readiness to resume international flights.
The struggling national carrier was suspended from the International Air
Transport Association (IATA) sometime ago for failing to meet global safety
Authorities say they are hoping to pass the test and start exploring
international markets ahead of a scheduled re-launch next year.
“With IATA, we are being assessed next week and this will be a step in the
right direction towards acquiring the airline’s market share,” said acting
chief executive Innocent Mavhunga.
Air Zimbabwe’s afflictions came to a head last year when creditors
impounding one of its aircraft at London’s Gatwick Airport, forcing
officials to pull out of the company’s lucrative London route. Another plane
was briefly seized in South Africa.
The government has since intervened and taken over the company’s crippling
debt burden, ordering it to slash its oversized workforce and implement
viable revival strategies.
Mavhunga says since resuming its regional flights three weeks ago, Air
Zimbabwe has seized 70 percent of the Harare-Johannesburg route market
“We started at 10 percent market share three weeks ago and we are now at 70
percent,” he said. “We hope this will continue as we are running a promotion
that will also shrug off competition from other airlines in the region.”
The company is reeling from a massive debt of more than US$140 million and
it is under pressure to get its act together ahead of the United Nations
World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) showcase to be co-hosted by Zimbabwe and
Zambia next year.
Economist Prosper Chitambara commented that if properly restructured, Air
Zimbabwe could reclaim its lost shine.
“There is consensus among the various stakeholders about need for
restructuring,” Chitambara said, “and the manner of that restructuring is a
matter of negotiation between the shareholders which are principally the
government and company employees.”
The government is currently looking for a strategic partner for the
Chitambara said while he agreed that Air Zimbabwe has had better moments
since its return, he had reservations about its 70 percent claims.
“Yes, I think they have regained some of their lost market share owing to
their competitive fares, I understand they are charging $317 return fare
from Harare to Johannesburg. And because of that, I think they have captured
a significant share, but am not sure about the percentage they are touting,”
By Tererai Karimakwenda
12 December 2012
Christian groups in Matabeleland and Bulawayo province have organised a
symbolic march on Thursday to highlight the problem of corruption in
Zimbabwe, which they say has become part of our culture.
Reverend Useni Sibanda from the Zimbabwe Christian Alliance (ZCA) told SW
Radio Africa that the march is part of a broader church mission to influence
specific key issues in the new Constitution, being drafted by the unity
He said the churches will later deal with other issues in the Constitution,
including national healing, devolution of powers and religious freedoms. But
corruption is central to all the other issues, and must be dealt with first.
“All Zimbabweans are concerned about corruption and we as the church,
because we are standing on moral ground and we are the light, we really want
to see it eradicated,” Reverend Sibanda explained.
He added that after the march there will be discussions with representatives
from the select committee drafting the new charter (COPAC), the Organ on
National Healing, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) and other
The event was organised to coincide with International Anti-Corruption Day,
which was observed on December 9th this year. It also comes just a week
after the global watchdog, Transparency International, released their latest
report on corruption, ranking Zimbabwe as the most corrupt country in
The report included Transparency’s 2012 Corruption Perception Index, which
ranked Zimbabwe 163 out of 176 nations that were assessed. Somalia and North
Korea were ranked the world’s most corrupt countries, with Denmark and
Finland ranking the least corrupt.
Reverend Sibanda said the march on Thursday will be symbolic and will start
at the Bulawayo City Hall and proceed to the Brothers in Christ Church in
Bulawayo central. The church groups expect at least 1,000 people, that were
invited to take part in the march. But it is also open to the general
The Zimbabwe Christian Alliance, the Evangelical Fellowship of
Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe Council of Churches and several other apostolic faith
denominations are taking part in the march. Reverend Sibanda said the police
cleared the event and are scheduled to escort them all the way.
By Alex Bell
12 December 2012
A diamond centre that has been under construction in Mt Hampden outside
Harare for more than two years, is now expected to be open ‘soon’, promising
about 40, 000 new jobs.
The chairman of the Zimbabwe Diamond Technology Centre, Lovemore Kurotwi, is
quoted as saying recently that the centre is expected to be fully
operational by mid-2013. Kurotwi used to be part of the now disbanded
Canadile mining venture that was operating at the Chiadzwa diamond fields.
He is still being investigated for allegedly ‘misrepresenting’ Canadile’s
Kurotwi, a retired army colonel, is reportedly a nephew of the late General
Vitalis Zvinavashe, a member of the ZANU PF politburo who was named in a
United Nations report as one of the main figures to profit from the plunder
of the Congo’s diamond riches.
SW Radio Africa also understands that Canadile was one of two companies
working closely with Thankful Musukutwa, who was a permanent secretary in
the Mines Ministry in 2010. The Ministry went on to set up offices at the Mt
Hampden diamond hub, which is in easy reach of a private jet facility
airport, Charles Prince, where diamond buyers can fly in and out of the
country with little fuss.
The project manager for the diamond centre is reportedly Retired Colonel
Charles Mugari and accountants at the centre have been seconded from the
Reserve Bank, on orders from Governor Gideon Gono.
Once fully completed the US$20 million centre will have, among other things,
banks, a diamond processing college and even insurance firms. On the surface
the Centre has the chance to create massive employment opportunities and
lead the way in indigenisation and economic empowerment. But critics are
warning that the involvement of the affirmative action group, the military
and other top ZANU PF officials, will merely see more corruption take root
in the diamond sector.
by Staff Reporter
THE UNITED States will accept a win by President Robert Mugabe in the
forthcoming elections – provided the polls are held in a free and fair
environment, U.S. Ambassador to Zimbabwe Bruce Wharton has said.
The US has isolated Mugabe over the past ten years accusing him of rights
violations and fixing successive polls.
“Yes, we will embrace President Robert Mugabe if he wins free and fair
polls,” Ambassador Wharton told reporters during a visit in the second
capital of Bulawayo on Wednesday.
He said Washington had no interest taking political sides in Zimbabwe,
adding that if Zanu PF wins a credible vote, the US will respect the
”Our aim is to see the will of the people respected,” he added.
Zimbabwe is currently working on constitutional reforms ahead of next year’s
Mugabe last week vowed to “fight like a wounded beast” to win the elections
and avoid a repeat of 2008 where he was defeated by MDC-T leader Morgan
Tsvangirai in the first round.
He went on to deploy violence that forced Tsvangirai to withdraw from the
second round vote.
Although the soon-to-be 89-year-old leader has repeatedly denounced
political violence since the formation of the unity government in 2009,
critics have questioned his sincerity and ability to win a vote without
Ambassador Wharton met with Mugabe last month as he assumed office as new US
envoy pledging to “engage in a dialogue that is respectful”.
And so far, the ambassador says, his interactions with Zanu PF have been
“We have established smooth communication, and we even attended Zanu PF’s
conference last week and we were treated with respect,” he added.
Wharton also refuted charges by Mugabe at the conference that the US
government was orchestrating a plot to take him out.
He said Washington will continue working closely with the Zimbabwean
government especially on the humanitarian front.
“Overall in Zimbabwe, we provide ongoing support to the Zimbabwean
parliament and constitution making process and we have invested more than 1
billion dollars in health and humanitarian assistance in the last ten years.
“The US also promotes business linkages, encouraging American investors to
look closely at Zimbabwe’s educated labour force and long term growth
potential,” he said.
by Gladys Ncube
Following the publication of a story recently by The Zimbabwean on the
killing of two boys by a grenade at Vutete Village in Shurugwi adjacent to
an army training camp, a group of soldiers from the camp on Friday cleared
over 50 landlines and grenades in villages near the camp.
Shadreck Venganayi, an uncle to Prince Venganayi (12) and Mabutho Bhekwa
(16) who were killed by a grenade they picked while looking after the
cattle, said soldiers from Lazy Nine army training camp visited all villages
adjacent to the camp and cleared more than 50 landmines and grenades that
had been left lying idle after army training sessions.
“They came and called for a meeting with all villagers, school children and
teachers at Old Gatu primary school. At the meeting they requested those who
had an idea where other grenades and landlines were to accompany them and
show them. I am very happy that most villagers cooperated and more than 50
landmines and grenades were cleared,” said Venganayi.
“On the issue of compensation over the death of our sons the soldiers
advised us to visit their seniors at Lazy Nine Camp and discuss the matter,
so we are going to do that.”
by Mxolisi Ncube
South Africa said recently that it had made plans to deal with the expected
high volumes of cross-border travellers during the festive season.
Over the past decade Beitbridge border post has become a nightmare to
cross – especially during the Christmas and New Year’s holidays. Some
Zimbabweans have opted for the Lebombo border post, which goes via
Mozambique, while others have gone via Botswana to avoid the congestion.
Mkuseli Apleni, the Department of Home Affairs’ Director-general, said new
measures to handle the pressure would begin on December 15 and remain till
February next year.
“The plans include additional capacity, deployment of over 300 staff members
and extension of working hours, with some borders operating for 24 hours and
others increasing their operation hours to midnight,” said Apleni. “Special
arrangements will be made to process trucks and buses some few kilometers
away from the Lebombo border, which sees over 3, 000 migrant workers
crossing, especially just before Christmas and after the New Year.”
The plans would be carried out jointly with the South Africa Police
Services, the South African Revenue Services and in collaboration with
counterparts from countries that share borders with South Africa.
Kunonga loses Anglican case
The Supreme Court ruling that renegade Anglican Bishop Nolbert Kunonga and his followers were no longer part of the Church Province of Central Africa and should hand over control of church properties to a rival faction led by Bishop Chad Gandiya made the headlines in the media towards the end of the month.
The ruling finally brought to an end a five-year battle for control of Anglican Church property in the Harare Diocese after Kunonga left the CPCA in 2007 to form the breakaway Anglican Church of the Province of Zimbabwe, ostensibly over the CPCA’s alleged support for homosexuality.
While the state media and most of the private media’s reports of the latest ruling and the subsequent eviction of Kunonga and his priests were generally balanced, the Daily News’ reportage was largely sensational. The private daily repeatedly prefixed Kunonga with adjectives such as “disgraced”, “defrocked”, “deposed”, “rogue” and “ex-communicated”, apart from describing the Supreme Court ruling as a “deadly” and “devastating blow” to the “ZANU PF-aligned” clergyman (20, 21, 22, 23, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29 & 30/11).
The Daily News’ headlines, most of which were front-page leads, were also sensational based on unsubstantiated claims: Kunonga in a mess (21/11), Children raped at Kunonga churches, and Kunonga faction poisons food (23/11).
The Daily News also failed to report that the ACPZ, led by Kunonga, had filed two separate High Court applications, the first seeking to stop the eviction of its clergy and the second seeking to reclaim possession of the Anglican Church properties (The Herald, 28/11). They only made brief reference to the eviction application at the end of their story, Kunonga runs amok (29/11).
Although NewsDay (28/11) reported Kunonga’s appeal, it mostly identified one aspect: that ACPZ wanted the High Court to “stop their eviction from Anglican properties across the country” on the grounds that their eviction would render at least 150 priests destitute.
Only The Herald (28/11) provided clear details of Kunonga’s application. Apart from filing an urgent chamber application “to stay execution of the eviction order”, the state-owned daily also reported Kunonga as having sought an order declaring the ACPZ “the legitimate owners of the church properties, including the Anglican Cathedral in Harare” (The Herald, 28/11).
The two court proceedings were instituted on the basis that ACPZ was never part of the proceedings that gave rise to the recent Supreme Court judgment. Kunonga, according to the court papers filed on November 27th, was a separate legal entity from the ACPZ. He argued that the outcome of the Supreme Court case had no bearing on the church and that the Gandiya-led CPCA’s Diocese of Harare had no right to control the churches, schools and colleges.
Media report mixed reaction to national budget
For the second year running, the official state media’s news reports did not contain the usual propaganda against Finance Minister Tendai Biti and his MDC-T party following Biti’s presentation of the 2013 National Budget on November 15th. These media gave both Biti and those opposed to his $3,8 billion budget the opportunity to express their opinions.
Highlights of the budget included setting aside just $50 million for the constitutional referendum and general elections expected early next year; the increase of a tax-free bonus from $700 to $1,000; a directive for banks to exempt deposits below $800 from bank charges; and the award of an inflation-linked salary increment for civil servants next January.
But the major talking points in both the government and private media were the allocation of $50 million for elections; the proposed banking reforms; and an increase in the military budget. Apart from agreeing that the money allocated for the polls was entirely inadequate considering that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) had submitted a budget of $220 million, these media also quoted a wide crosssection of Zimbabwean society expressing mixed sentiments over other issues.
The Herald (16/11), for instance, reported Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries president Kumbirai Katsande saying the budget “covered almost every aspect of the economy” and “was created in consultation with many stakeholders and the Cabinet”, while economist Christopher Mugaga argued that the budget was “ambitious” and “discordant”.
Mugaga singled out government’s proposed 15-point plan, which Biti said would increase economic performance next year, arguing that the plan cannot “be achieved in an economy set to grow 5,4 percent with a few players involved”. Mugaga also criticized Biti for inadequately funding the health sector and the scrapping of bank interest charges on deposits below $800, arguing that the move “was set to suffocate” bank operations (The Herald, 16/11).
But another economist, Rongi Chizema, said the budget was “realistic”. Chizema defended measures imposed on banks, arguing that they would “boost confidence in the banking sector”, as they were meant to discourage banks from imposing high charges on depositors and using that same money to make more. He also argued that the 15-point plan, which includes macro-economic stability, expenditure control and attraction of foreign-direct investment, was “a good basis to plan for next year” and “shows that the minister had done some prioritization and is focusing on growing the economy”.
Although the state newspapers’ news reports were balanced, their editorial pages were biased.
For instance, a comment in The Herald (19/11) criticized Biti for setting aside insufficient funds for elections, a move it claimed “…leaves one to speculate that he has a plan to get external funding…a development that threatens the efficacy of our electoral democracy”.
The comment also took strong exception to Biti showing “very little commitment to enhance” Zimbabwe’s agricultural sector since he took over as Finance Minister four years ago. The private media’s coverage of the budget was balanced.
Not only did they carry stories criticizing Biti for increasing the military budget from $318 to $356 million, in what they claimed to be an attempt to placate the army, but they also reported various individuals and organizations commending Biti for allocating more funds to the health and education sectors (Daily News and Daily News On Sunday, 16 & 18/11).
Media report council corruption
REPORTS exposing widespread corruption and incompetence by many local government authorities, particularly Harare City Council, dominated the media’s coverage of poor service delivery this month.
The media’s interest in local government affairs was stoked by Harare City Council’s decision to attach property from defaulting residents; a demonstration by the Harare Residents Trust against City Fathers over exorbitant rates and poor service delivery; and council’s resolution to buy new top-of-the-range vehicles for two senior managers, amid reports of a fresh outbreak of typhoid in Harare’s Glen View suburb, which reportedly left four people dead.
These developments coincided with the release of a damning report by a team set up by Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo to investigate allegations of corruption and inefficiency in council. The report allegedly confirmed the existence of “rampant corruption, lethargy and underhand dealings” at Town House (NewsDay, 13/11).
The recent expulsion by the MDC-T of 12 of its councillors countrywide, including Harare Deputy Mayor Emmanuel Chiroto, on corruption allegations, and complaints by Harare Mayor Muchadeyi Masunda about the calibre of councillors he was working with, appeared to give some credibility to this (The Herald, NewsDay & NewZimbabwe.com, 25/8 and ZTV, 24/10, 8pm).
All the media reported a demonstration by the HRT, demanding Harare City Council “cancel all debts accrued by residents before 2010, arguing the bills were based on estimates” (ZTV, 6/11, 8pm). Led by its coordinator, Precious Shumba, the residents’ association handed over a petition to Chiroto, arguing that services from council before 2010 “were not commensurate with the money charged” and demanding the ouster of Masunda.
In response, Harare City Council, through Councillor Herbert Gomba, accused the HRT of “singing loud for their supper” by “unnecessarily” criticizing the local authority (NewsDay, 12/11). Gomba labeled the residents’ association “mercenaries”. He declared: “We should know that there are incentives for them (HRT) from donors and we should know that it’s difficult to knock sense into their heads. If you do well, they will criticize because if they clap hands for you, nothing will come out from their donors…”
Matters came to a head again when Harare City Council announced that it was buying expensive vehicles for Town Clerk Tendai Mahachi and chamber secretary Josephine Ncube. To rub salt into the residents’ wounds, Daily News (24/11) reported that the vehicles, worth $350,000, would be bought “without going to tender” – a possible violation of Section 211 of the Urban Councils Act, which states that any procurement by a local authority valued at more than $11,000 should go for public tender.
The HRT reportedly responded by questioning Masunda’s leadership qualities describing him as being “detached from reality”, adding that the move had demonstrated that the City Fathers “have misdirected priorities” (The Sunday Mail, 18/11).
The Daily News’ editorials expressed similar anger.
One of them viewed the City Fathers’ decision to buy vehicles as not only “horrifying”, but also an indictment for Prime Minister Tsvangirai’s MDC party, which had touted itself as “a government in waiting” (Daily News, 17/11).
The other, titled: Mayor Masunda a disgrace to Harare, emphasized that Masunda, like his predecessors, “has done little to serve Harare and belongs to a hall of shame!” These problems were not limited to Harare, as other councils such as Mutare, Chitungwiza, Chinhoyi, Chipinge and Rusape were reported to be facing similar problems (ZTV, 12/11, 8pm and NewsDay & The Herald, 14, 19, 22, 27 & 28/11).
Soldiers accused of rights violations
The media recorded 33 incidents of rights abuses, 25 (76%) of which appeared in the private media.
The remaining seven featured in the state media.
Here is a selection of some of them:
• Reports that soldiers went on a rampage at Samambwa business centre in Zhombe, attacking MDC-T supporters. Forty people were injured, two of them seriously. The MDC-T chairman for Midlands North, Constain Muguti, told SW Radio Africa (30/11) that soldiers guarding farming inputs under President Mugabe’s inputs distribution scheme, felt ‘insulted’ by the MDC-T for organizing a rally near where they were based, even though they had police clearance.
• Allegations that soldiers deployed in Hurungwe were reportedly campaigning for ZANU PF by forcing villagers to divulge their political affiliations and threatening to evict them from the area if they refused. (SW Radio Africa, 21/11).
• Reports of soldiers and police officials in remote areas of Binga threatening to cut off the arms of MDC-T supporters and forcing villagers to pay fines for failing to attend ZANU PF rallies (SW Radio Africa, 20/11), and
• The arrest of three workers from the Counselling Services Unit in Harare on November 5th after police raided CSU offices and confiscated its computers and files. The police, who were reportedly armed with a search warrant to recover “offensive and subversive material”, charged Fidelis Mudimu, Zachariah Godi and Tafadzwa Gesade with defacing property in Bulawayo using spray paint in contravention of section 46 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act. (SW Radio Africa, NewsDay and Daily News, 5, 6, 7, 8 & 9/11).
What they said…
“The court agrees with (Advocate Adrian de Bourbon) that the evidence proved that Dr Kunonga and his followers created the schism. The schism in the circumstances of this case is clear evidence of withdrawal of membership by Dr Kunonga and his followers from the appellant church. They left the Church and then formed the new Church. It was the court’s finding that anyone who leaves a church for some reason should leave the property with the remnants no matter how few they are” - Deputy Chief Justice Luke Malaba giving the Supreme Court’s ruling quashing an earlier High Court decision granting Nolbert Kunonga and his followers power to control the mainstream Anglican Church property in the name of the Diocesan Trustees of the Diocese of Harare (The Herald, 20/11).
“When one leaves a club, he or she does not take its property with him or her. It has long been established as a salutary principle of law in this area of property ownership that when one or more people secede from an existing Church they have no right to claim church property even if those remaining members of the congregation are in the minority. The learned judge (High Court) was wrong in giving Dr Kunonga and his followers the right to possess and control the property of the church without its consent” – Justice Malaba (The Herald, 20/11).
“They are not important. What do they have? Can they shoot us with guns? No, they can’t” –renegade Anglican Bishop Nolbert Kunonga dismissing an eviction order the CPCA obtained from the High Court, ordering Kunonga and his followers to vacate all Anglican Church properties by 4pm on November 27th (Daily News, 27/11).
“I do not belong to that church” – Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri said this when NewsDay (21/11) asked him if the police would assist in enforcing the Supreme Court order.
“Councillors lack depth in what is required of them. They seem to be drowning and their decisions are based on personal benefits. Service delivery is not the driving force behind the business at Town House. It’s more of personal benefits. There is no powerful management system and this is leading to gross mishandling of the financial register” – Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo-appointed probe team chairperson Ellen Chivaviro speaking to journalists during the handover of their findings to the minister (NewsDay, 13/11).
“I accept these donations and hand them over to you chief so that when we leave you can then give your people, but you have to work with the party structures who will help you donate these inputs. We are deliberately bringing this programme to the ward level after realizing that in the past government programmes were not getting to the ward level and they had to survive with the help of NGOs who bring with them their own agendas to destabilize our country” – Acting President Joice Mujuru ordering Chief Njelele to work closely with ZANU PF members in distributing farming inputs donated by various local companies to villagers in Njelele, Gokwe (NewsDay, 27/11).
“With the MDC, we no longer have a relationship, at all. This must be stressed. Our relationship with the MDC was simply on the basis that the NCA helped to form the MDC, that the MDC would become a political wing of the broad project of trying to make the country more democratic. They have since abandoned that. I think from 2008 after the elections” – NCA Lovemore Madhuku speaking in an interview with the Daily News (29/11).
“Politically, on the constitution-making process, I do not see us ever coming back together. They should not even expect us to support them even when they go into the next government. We think they do not have any principles…” – Madhuku (Daily News (29/11).
“He (PM Tsvangirai) allowed them (ZANU PF) to reach the next election without any reform. The purpose of the inclusive government was to create a transitional arrangement at the end of which we would be able to have a stable country that can run free and fair elections. Tsvangirai spent the last three-and-half-years in an arrangement where he extracted no fundamental reforms. He will still agree to go to an election where there are no fundamental reforms. I do not see him winning without fundamental reforms. What has been reformed? The security sector is quite intact, Mugabe is still having the levers of all” - Madhuku (Daily News, 29/11).
The Election Watch was produced and circulated by Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe, 9 Knightbruce Close, Milton Park, Harare, Tel: 263 4 741816/778115 Email: email@example.com
Posted on Wednesday, 12 December 2012 16:06
The inhabitants of Marange believe their village would be a better place to
live in had it not been for the discovery of enormous deposits of alluvial
diamonds in 2006, believed to constitute approximately 25% of the world's
The Marange diamond story has been one sad episode after another and the
trend continues. The first major challenge was the unannounced invasion of
Marange by tens of thousands of artisanal miners, merchants and dealers who
did not submit to the local traditional leaders, culture and lifestyle. The
diamond rush was soon followed by reports of widespread violence among the
panners and the dealers. Rape, murder and armed robberies became the order
of the day, as they violently dispossessed each other of the precious stones
and anything of monetary value. The level of lawlessness and violence
brought by the diamond rush had never been experienced before in Marange.
November 2008 added another twist to the unfolding drama in Marange when the
Zimbabwe National Army was deployed to drive out the artisanal miners and
dealers as the state moved in to take full control of the lucrative diamond
fields. There was a massacre of artisanal miners and villagers and hundreds
of villagers fled their traditional homes to take refuge in cities. Over 200
miners were gunned down within a spate of 5 weeks and the exact figure of
those killed will never be known. Traditional leaders were helpless as their
authority was overridden by the state.
Having secured the diamond fields government moved a gear up in 2009 when it
announced that it was going to forcibly relocate over 4 000 families from
Marange to Arda Transau, a government farm located about 40KM north of
Whilst decent houses have been constructed for some of the relocated
families, concern has been raised over the lack of adequate land for
cultivation and pastures, given that the relocated families are subsistence
farmers. Currently the families have been allocated plots measuring the size
of a football pitch where they both live and cultivate crops for
subsistence. Over 2000 people have so far been relocated to Arda Transau and
over 25 000 thousand await their fate.
In 2009 it was estimated that diamond fields stretch for 70 000 hectares.
However the area believed to be rich in diamond deposits has now exceeded
120 000 hectares and more explorations are still taking place, suggesting
that more villagers will be earmarked for relocation to pave way for diamond
However, apart from worrying about an uncertain future, remaining Marange
residents are now more concerned about their health amidst increasing
pollution of the environment by the diamond mining companies.
Save or Sabi River used to be the source of life for several villages
starting from Marange and stretching several kilometers downstream. The
river provided fish, drinking water for both humans and livestock and
domestic chores such as laundry. Villagers also bathed in the Save river
which also acted as one of the few recreational facilities for young boys
and girls who flocked the mighty river for swimming escapades. In some parts
food was also grown alongside the river, more so due to the fact that
Marange is a semi-arid region which experiences perennial droughts.
Renowned and highly successful Irrigation schemes at Nyanyadzi and
Birchnough Bridge also drew water from the Save River.
However, since the commencement of commercial diamond mining activities in
Marange in September 2009, villagers have watched in agony as life is
rapidly being squeezed out of this once Might River by mining companies. A
scientific study commissioned by the Zimbabwe Environmental law Association
and carried out by The University of Zimbabwe confirmed the fears of
villagers and nongovernmental organizations who have long suspected that
companies were polluting Save River. The report concluded that the water in
Save River is heavily contaminated 'to such an extent that communities
cannot use the water for drinking purposes anymore whilst coming into
contact with the water and mud cause an itching of the skin'. The report
also noted that water in Save River was turbid or muddy due to discharge
from the Anjin plant, thereby making it unsuitable for domestic consumption.
The researchers also concluded that Villagers could develop cancer due to a
heavy presence of chromium and nickel in the river.
Villagers interviewed by Center for Natural Resource Governance said they
are now digging in the sand to fetch water for laundry as the water in the
river is too muddy. Several boreholes have dried up in recent years with
locals pointing accusing fingers to diamond mining companies whose
activities, they suspect, have affected the water table. Their argument is
supported by Prof. N.C Saxena of the Center of Mining Environment in India
who observed that 'mining either by opencast or by underground methods
damages the water regime and thus causes a reduction in the overall
availability of water in and around the mining areas', adding that 'in the
sedimentary deposit mining areas the water table and aquifers are damaged
and thus the availability of water from these sources reduces'. Given that
all the companies are into alluvial diamond mining using the open cast
system, there is massive clearance of forests and the top soil in Marange,
thereby affected both the water table and the quality of water. The
clearance of land and forests in preference to diamond mining also means
loss of wildlife habitat.
Air and Noise Pollution
Apart from water pollution, Marange is also experiencing serious air
pollution. Villagers told CNRG how caterpillar motor graders are raising
dust as they regularly grade the road surfaces which need regular
maintenance due to the weight of dumpers. Villagers fear a rise in cases of
diseases such as Tuberculosis due to dust inhalation. During the visit to
Marange by the KP representatives in Zimbabwe in March 2012, this writer
observed there were families living inside the premises of diamond mining
companies. We saw huge earth movers making their way through homesteads,
raising clouds of dust and impairing our vision momentarily.
Marange has also experienced noise pollution. At least four companies in
Marange have been certified by the Kimberly Process Certification scheme
whilst a few more are doing exploration in preparation for active mining.
The combined effects of the mining activities of these companies have
resulted in noise pollution to villagers near the diamond fields. The use of
heavy trucks and equipment during the mining and processing of diamonds has
transformed the once serene Marange into a heavy industrial site unsuitable
for human habitation. Anjin Investments, by far the biggest mine in Marange,
operates for 24 hours a day with its trucks and heavy machinery roaring
throughout the night.
The noise also causes distress to wildlife in addition to loss of the
natural habitat which has been their preferred territory since time
immemorial. No plans were put in place to transfer wildlife from the mining
concessions to areas that are wildlife friendly, let alone to study the area
and identify animal species found there. Today there is no sign of wildlife
in the area measuring over 120 000 hectares and no one dares to inquire what
has happened to animal life in Marange. Wildlife could also succumb to the
poisonous water in Save River where fish is now a rare species.
Reporting and writing about the true story of Marange is one of the most
difficult jobs in Zimbabwe. The author of this article was arrested in 2010
and charged for publishing falsehoods that were deemed to be prejudicial to
the economic interests of Zimbabwe after researching and documenting
horrific human rights abuses committed by the army in Marange since 2008. He
is constantly under surveillance by state security agents. Several
journalists have been arrested in the course of their work of researching
and informing the public about the goings on in Marange. Several journalists
have been arrested and detained in the course of doing their legitimate work
Politicization of Diamonds: How villagers lost their voice
Others argue that the unfortunate events unfolding in Marange are a mirror
of the political turmoil and collapse of governance systems in Zimbabwe
which can be traced back to 2000 when President Mugabe's ZANU PF turned to
land grab and other self destructive policies for political survival.
Politics has dominated everything happening in Marange since the discovery
of diamonds in 2006. Three of the four companies mining diamonds in Marange
are joint ventures between some private companies and the Zimbabwe Mining
Development Corporation (ZMDC) whilst the fourth, Marange Resources, is
wholly owned by the Zimbabwe government through ZMDC. The companies were
awarded special grants by President Mugabe to shield them from normal tender
procedures and scrutiny. None of the four diamond mining companies has any
prior history in diamond mining elsewhere in the world.
At one point the diamond fields were heavily guarded by several hundred
soldiers and police who committed all types of human rights abuses, thereby
creating an aura of terror in the surrounding communities.
After securing the diamond fields in 2009, government announced that
families living inside and near the diamond fields would be relocated.
Several meetings had been held between government officials and the
villagers but all this came to nothing, with villagers demanding
compensation before relocation. However, in December 2010 government
abandoned negotiations and turned to state security agents in order to force
Marange villagers to relocate to Arda Transau, about 40KM north of Marange.
The forced relocation exercise was well timed.
In December 2010 ZANU PF held its 11th National People's Conference in
Mutare and seized the opportunity to break the resistance of the villagers.
A group of state security agents and ZANU PF officials descended on Marange
and threatened villagers with unspecified action if they did not comply with
the order to relocate. This brought back memories of November 2008 when
members of the Zimbabwe National Army gunned down over 200 artisanal miners
and villagers as government moved in to take control of the lucrative
Villagers were given a few hours to load their belongings and livestock onto
waiting trucks. Their homesteads were razed to the ground by bulldozers as
they watched helplessly before being taken to their new homes at Arda
Transau. After the December 2010 forced relocations and home demolitions,
few dared resist orders to vacate their premises. Diamond mining was
politicized such that the rights of villagers were violated with impunity.
Homes were destroyed without any valuation, making it difficult for the
villagers to claim reasonable compensations in the future. No agreements
were signed between the relocated families and the mining companies or
government regarding compensation. The exercise was overseen and implemented
by the office of the Resident Minister and Provincial Governor of
Manicaland, Chris Mushohwe, who was also the ZANU PF losing candidate for
Mutare West in the 2008 harmonized elections.
Politics also reared its ugly head during the launch of the Zimunya Marange
Community Share Ownership Trust by President Mugabe in July 2012. Political
analysts suspect the community share ownership trusts, a product of the
controversial economic empowerment and indigenization law, are being used by
ZANU PF to woo voters ahead of a general election expected in 2013. The
launch of the Zimunya Marange community share trust was marred by
controversy as the Member of Parliament for the constituency Hon Shua Mudiwa
was not invited to the event, which looked more like a ZANU PF political
Militarization of Marange Diamonds
There has been growing concern about the increased involvement of the
Zimbabwe National Army in diamond mining activities. Finance Minister Tendai
Biti revealed at a conference hosted by Center for Natural Resource
Governance in May 2012 that Anjin Investments was in partnership with the
Zimbabwe National Army and not with the Zimbabwe Mining Development
Corporation (ZMDC) as is the case with other joint ventures in Marange. ZMDC
was formed by an Act of parliament to oversee the development of mining in
Zimbabwe. The Anjin – ZNA relations came to light through a $98 million loan
extended by China to Zimbabwe for the construction of a Defense Academy. The
loan was to be repaid with diamonds mined at Anjin.
Two reports released by the UK based NGO Global Witness revealed that
several current and retired military and other security personnel were board
members and shareholders in all the companies mining diamonds in Marange.
Commenting on Anjin the report concluded that 'half of a large diamond
mining company is likely part-owned and part-controlled by the Zimbabwean
Ministry of Defense, military and police.' Global Witness also noted that a
senior lawyer in the Zimbabwe National Army held 50% of shares in Anjin
whilst the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Defense was also a member
of Anjin's executive board. The report concluded that diamonds from Marange
could be funding a parallel government, thereby undermining democracy and
the work of the Inclusive Government in Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe National Army officers have been guarding the diamond mines since
November 2008 and are greatly feared by the local community due to the
horrific abuses they committed since their entry into Marange. Although the
scale and intensity of violence has gone down significantly, isolated cases
of human rights abuses by the army continue to be reported by the locals.
The army and fellow state security agents have been involved in illegal
digging with artisanal miners whom they charge 'protection fees' in the form
of both money and diamonds. The unregulated artisanal diamond mining
activities have contributed to deforestation, land degradation and water
pollution. Artisanal miners dig randomly, usually operating under the cover
of darkness at night and leave behind large open pits which are contributing
to soil erosion and river siltation. Early in the morning artisanal miners
and their military 'escorts' take their diamond rich alluvial soil to a
nearby dam where they select gems. This is also contributing to the
depreciation of water quality in Marange as the water in the dam is now
muddy and unfit for domestic use.
Artisanal diamond mining is criminalized in Zimbabwe. The country lost the
opportunity to regulate artisanal diamond mining when it backtracked on the
Swakopmund agreement it reached with the Kimberly Process Certification
Scheme in Namibia in November 2009. The Joint Work Plan, also known as the
Swakopmund Agreement that was developed by Zimbabwe and the KPCS stipulated
that Zimbabwe would create a legal framework for artisanal miners to operate
legally in Marange and sell their diamonds to government.
If implemented, the Joint Work Plan had several advantages for Zimbabwe.
First it would ensure that artisanal miners were protected by the law whilst
also contributing to the economic growth of Zimbabwe. Further, it would
ensure that the 'blood diamonds' tag on Marange diamonds would be exorcised
since artisanal miners would be mining in a violence free environment. The
agreement would also benefit the environment since government was going to
regulate and monitor the activities of artisanal miners. In other words
artisanal miners would be held to account for their actions. Failure by
government to implement the Joint Work plan has ensured that illicit digging
continues at a great cost to the environment and to the nation.
Conflict and Environmental Degradation
The impacts of conflict are usually measured in terms of body count, number
of refugees and casualties. Little is said about the impacts of conflict on
the environment and how environmental degradation will affect human life.
Nevertheless, the negative impacts of conflict on the environment will in
the long run impact the body count as more people will succumb to the
effects of pollution. This is true in the case of Marange where the various
forms of conflict are undermining the capacity of the environment to sustain
The combined effects of bad politics and militarization of Marange makes
environmental management impossible. Some of the mining companies in
Marange, armed with the special grant issued by the President, defied local
environmental laws by starting mining before environmental impact
assessments were carried out. The Environmental Management Agency (EMA)
admitted that it has no powers to arrest perpetrators of environmental
crimes. Director General of EMA, Mutsa Chasi told the Parliamentary
Portfolio Committee on Mines in February 2012 that there is need to amend
the Environmental Management Agency Act to establish an environmental crimes
court, arguing that the formal judicial system has a limited appreciation of
gravity of environmental crimes.
But the major challenge facing EMA is political. EMA is crippled when it
comes to dealing with companies aligned to political heavyweights, more so
companies granted special grants by the President. Bringing perpetrators of
environmental crimes in Marange to justice will set EMA on collision course
with ZANU PF.
The other challenge with EMA is how it uses the fines collected from
environmental crime perpetrators. EMA is the beneficiary of the fines yet
communities are the victims of the environmental crimes. There appear to be
no correlation between the environmental crimes for which fines are charged
and the end use of the fines collected. Fines must help communities
mitigate the effects of pollution.
Even if the fines are paid directly to the affected communities, they are
too paltry to deter companies from polluting. Grandwell Holdings, a
subsidiary of the South African scrap metal company Reclam, owns 50% shares
in Mbada diamonds. In its annual report of 2011 Grandwell holdings reported
that in Marange it is better and cheaper to pay environmental fines than to
avoid pollution. The company argued: "Fees are assessed for exceeding agreed
limits on emissions and effluents.
Cheaper to pollute and pay a fine
Currently these fees are generally small in relation to the cost of
environmental protection equipment and it is generally less expensive to pay
the fees than to install anti-pollution devices. Further, the applicable
laws do not generally require clean-up of environmental pollutants, and when
clean-up is required, the applicable laws provide no guidance as to the
extent to which the clean-up must be carried out."
Early 2012 Anjin was fined $14 000 by EMA for causing water pollution in
Marange and ordered to rehabilitate the affected area. However a $14 000
fine is too insignificant for a company dealing in billions of dollars
annually, making it cheaper to pollute and pay a fine than to prevent
pollution, as argued by Grandwell.
Marange is a restricted area and those entering the area should obtain
Police clearance. The parliamentary portfolio committee on mines and energy
was denied entry to Marange a record three times. At one time even Prime
Minister Morgan Tsvangirai was also denied access to Marange. Some
trespassers have met the most severe forms of punishments which include
murder, torture and rape.
Whilst restricting movement in Marange is understandable due to the ease
with which alluvial diamonds can be extracted, the restriction has served to
cover up many unpleasant things unfolding in Marange such as pollution and
human rights abuses. The parliamentary portfolio committees on mines and
energy and the environment must demand that they play their legitimate role
of ensuring that mining activities in Marange comply with domestic laws and
do not jeopardize the lives of villagers.
This article was produced with the support of the Environmental Justice
Trade and Liabilities project (EJOLT) research project