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MDC Mourns Lawmaker's Sudden Death

http://www.voanews.com

26 December 2011

Senator Gombami-Dube died on Monday after complaining of disorientation and
dizziness when she was on her way home to Bulawayo from a funeral in Gokwe.

Violet Gonda | Washington

The Movement for Democratic Change formation of Zimbabwe Prime Minister
Morgan Tsvangirai is mourning the sudden death Monday of Mpopoma senator
Gladys Gombami-Dube, an outspoken critic of President Robert Mugabe's
ZANU-PF.

Gombami-Dube died early Monday after complaining of disorientation and
dizziness when she was on her way home to Bulawayo from a funeral in Gokwe.
She was rushed to a hospital in Kadoma where she died.

The senator was the deputy chairperson for the parliamentary select
committee in charge of revising the constitution. She was also the
Tsvangirai MDC's deputy chief whip in the Senate.

The late senator appeared regularly on Voice of America's news bulletins.
Just last week she spoke on the crisis affecting the select committee amid
reports that ZANU-PF had unilaterally instructed drafters to halt the
constitution-writing process.

Deputy spokeswoman Thabitha Khumalo of the MDC formation led by Mr.
Tsvangirai told Voice of America her party has lost “a very strong pillar of
strength."

ZANU-PF chief whip Joram Gumbo worked with the late Gombami-Dube on the
select committee. He said the committee and the MDC have lost a loyal and
level headed member.

The senator, who was in her late 40s, is survived by her husband and five
children.

Funeral arrangements are still to be announced.


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Air Zimbabwe Flights to South Africa Still Grounded Over Debt Crisis

http://www.voanews.com

26 December 2011

Innocent Mavhunga, the airline’s general manager told Studio 7 Monday that
Air Zimbabwe will resume flights anytime soon though indications are that it
has failed to reach a debt payment agreement with its creditor, Bid Air
Services

Gibbs Dube

Air Zimbabwe has not yet resumed flights to South Africa a week after
suspending operations to that country fearing that a creditor may impound
its aircraft over unpaid bills.

Innocent Mavhunga, the airline’s general manager told Studio 7 Monday that
the airline will resume flights anytime soon though indications are that it
has failed to reach a debt payment agreement with its creditor, Bid Air
Services.

The South African ground handling firm has threatened to seize Air Zimbabwe
planes over a US$500,000 debt. The company grounded an Air Zimbabwe aircraft
three weeks ago and released it after negotiating terms of payment with the
national airline.

In another embarrassing incident, one of the airline's Boeing 767 200
aircraft was seized in London two weeks ago by an American aviation company
over a US$1.5 million debt and released last Tuesday when it settled the
bill. The plane was then crippled by technical problems and lack of spares,
only managing to fly home on Saturday.

Mavhunga said all is being done to ensure that Air Zimbabwe becomes viable.
"Shareholders are working on the privatization of the national airline and
we hope this will be done diligently," said Mavhunga.

Economic commentator Rejoice Ngwenya said government should now push for the
privatization of the airline which has become a national embarrassment.


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Chief Chundu Villagers Miss Christmas Due To Roadblocks

http://www.radiovop.com

Chundu, December 27, 2011-Hundreds of Chief Chundu villagers missed the joy
of meeting their relatives on the Christmas day after most of the visitors
failed to get to their homes owing to heavy police road block which
impounded vehicles which ply the area which has no busses.

The vehicles impounded were considered not road worthy.

The area which situated 80 kilometers north east of Karoi town has no public
buses which ply the route despite having one of the best roads in a rural
setting.

As a result of that thousands of villagers who reside there depend on open
trucks bought by locals with tobacco funds to travel to town for any
business.

This was not the same during the Christmas when the police mounted a heavy
road block at Nyangau Bridge and impounded more than ten of such trucks and
arrested their unlicensed drivers, while leaving travelers stranded.

The police at the heavy road block were ordering car operators to refund
their passengers before impounding the vehicles which they took to Karoi
police station.

It now attracts a custodial sentence for one to drive public transport
without a valid Zimbabwean drivers’ license.

Travelers on Christmas day after being dropped they had to walk for up to 30
kilometers on foot to as far as Kabidza and Manyenzi.

Some of them ended up seeking accommodation along the road thereby failing
to reach their destination on the great day (Christmas day).

“Impounding these vehicles for road worthiness purposes is a good idea, but
it’s unfair for us because we have no other source of transport. Yes these
drivers must have drivers licenses so that accidents occurrences are reduced
but it’s also important that the authorities should bear in mind the fact
that these trucks are our mode of transport, “said one such stranded
passenger who was met by Radio VOP at Gon’a turn off while walking to
Kabidza some 25 kilometers from where the road block was.

Some lucky truck operators said they will resume business after the end of
the Christmas holiday.

“I was fortunate to get a phone call from my colleague urging me to make
u-turn after his vehicle was impounded. It is sad to note that this is the
time we were going to make big cash because of huge volumes of people coming
from Karoi but staying home till the end of the holiday will serve my
vehicle from being impounded, “said one operator Nelson Chihota.

The last time when the area had a bus plying the route was 10 years ago when
the late Zanu-PF Member of Parliament for the area Shumba Yaonda
Chandengenda was alive.

Radio VOP could not get a comment from the area’s Member of Parliament Peter
Chanetsa of Zanu-PF.


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Zanu-PF Bigwigs Sell Free Maize Seed on Parallel Market

http://www.radiovop.com

Magunje, December 27, 2011 - President Robert Mugabe’s continued support of
land reform through free seed is backfiring as Zanu-PF delegates who
attended the Bulawayo conference are allegedly selling it on the
black-market here.

Nearly 6000 delegates attended the conference early in December from
district and provincial committees, Central Committee to politburo members.

Some regional and international liberation party movements also attended.

''Every delegate was given a 10kg of maize and another of cotton seed from
President Mugabe as a move to motivate us during farming season" said a
delegate who attended the conference but declined to be named.

He is a District Coordinating Committee (DCC) member from Hurungwe.

Vendors at Chikangwe bus terminus in Karoi confirmed that there is an influx
of cotton and maize seed from Zanu-PF supporters who attended the
conference.

"They are desperate for cash and are not concerned about farming. A maize
seed bag is being sold at US $8 instead of US $15" said a vendor who
identified himself as Moses Makara.

However Radio VOP reporter witnessed that they have since removed President
Mugabe sticker on seed packs.

"They remove the stickers in case police pounce on us as Central
Intelligence Organisation monitors this. If police pounce on us we know our
suppliers" he added.

Shop owners at Magunje growth point said they are being offered 10 kilograms
of maize seed for as little as $8 when in shops the actual price is between
$15 and $20 depending on variety.

"We got maize seed from the delegates who were in Bulawayo. They do not want
to utilise the free seed offered by President Mugabe to boost agriculture
sector" said shop keeper who identified herself as Molly.

Magunje, situated about 35 kilometers north of Karoi is part of Zanu-PF
strongholds.

Villagers here complained that they did not look forward to see local party
leaders selling free seed.

"Why did they accept the seed if they are not eager to utilise it? It is
unfortunate we blame others when our local leadership is corrupt" said
Dereck Matenga of Karengesha village.

Hurungwe senator and party acting provincial chairman Reuben Marumahoko
denounced the abuse of free seed by some Zanu-PF members.

"It is against President Mugabe and the party that the free seed he gave out
can be abused by those in local leadership. We are not happy at all. They
are sabotaging land reform" Marumahoko did not commit himself on what action
the party will take against the culprits.


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Police: Chivero tragedy boat overloaded

http://www.newzimbabwe.com

27/12/2011 00:00:00
by Staff Reporter

POLICE have said preliminary investigations indicate that the boat which
capsized at Lake Chivero on Christmas Day, killing eleven children aged
between six and sixteen years was overloaded.

“We are still trying to establish what caused the boat to capsize, but
preliminaries show that there were too many people in the boat,” Harare
Province ZRP chief, Clement Munoriarwa told state media.
“We urge those in charge to always ensure that boats do not exceed their
carrying capacity to avoid such losses.”

Survivors said the boat, which has a capacity of five people, was carrying
16 children and three adults when tragedy struck at around 6:30 pm on
Sunday.
Eight people - including the three adults and skipper – survived.

Several parents who had taken their families to the lake – located some 20
kilometres outside Harare – for a Christmas Day outing spoke of their
devastation following the tragedy.

“I was in the boat with my brother's two sons and my landlord's son.
Unfortunately, I only managed to save my landlord's son and one of my
brother's sons,” Timothy Joramu said in an interview with The Herald
newspaper.

"Many people were clinging onto me as I was the one able to swim. It might
be an accident, but I am hurt by the way the crew reacted.”

Tobias Kaseke from Dzivaresekwa said he lost two sons: “My sons Sprenner,
12, and Anesu, 10, begged me to bring them here because I am a driver with
Zimbulk and I am hardly at home.

“I also came with my friend Douglas Ruzvidzo who lost his only two children
Tanaka, 10, and Tatenda, 6. Douglas also lost his sister-in-law Nunurai
Chitungo (16) and his niece Angeline Kasito, 16.”
National parks spokesperson, Caroline Washaya-Moyo said cruises were not
allowed on the lake after 6pm.

"We are shocked to see some people going against the law. Just a general
look at the boat will show that it is too small to carry more than five
people," she said.
Police said investigations into the incident were continuing.


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Holiday death toll tops 72

http://www.newzimbabwe.com/

27/12/2011 00:00:00
by Staff Reporter

THE holiday death increased to 72 after 24 people were killed over the
Christmas and Boxing days with police attributing most road accidents to
speeding and drink driving.

Police spokesman, Andrew Phiri said some 505 people had been injured in
almost 800 road accidents recorded across the country since December 15.

“Since December 15 to December 26 the number of deaths recorded was 72,
which resulted from 799 accidents recorded across the country,” Phiri told
state media.

“We also impounded 1 777 unroad-worthy vehicles and issued a total of 64 966
tickets so far.”
He attributed most of the accidents to poor judgement, drink-driving and
speeding.

Last year, 98 people were killed while 1 090 were injured in 1 119 road
accidents recorded during the Christmas and New Year's holidays.

Phiri said police would continue their crackdown against unroad-worthy
vehicles and maintain a presence on the ground across the country to help
reduce the carnage.


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WFP buy local scheme helps farmers

http://www.irinnews.org
Photo: IITA
The scheme aims to boost cereal production
HARARE, 27 December 2011 (IRIN) - Veteran small-scale farmer Trynos Mamombe has returned to maize farming after two years, thanks to a multi-partner initiative which is helping him to market his crop and get paid for it promptly.

Mamombe, 60, has been growing maize for 30 years in the Karoi District of Mashonaland West Province, about 200km northwest of Harare. In the 2008-9 farming season he produced 10 tons of it from his 15 hectare smallholding and opted to sell to the Grain Marketing Board (GMB). However, the high transport costs involved in delivering his grain to the closest GMB depot, and then the GMB's failure to pay him on time, put Mamombe and his family in a difficult situation.

“I hardly planted anything in 2009," said Mamombe, who resorted to growing tobacco for the past two seasons but with limited success due to his lack of knowledge about the crop and difficulty finding curing facilities.

The GMB had a long-standing monopoly on cereal purchases until March 2009 when private traders were allowed into the market to encourage competition and boost production. The move to
liberalize the grain market was also a response to GMB's inability to make adequate and timely payments to farmers.

However, other farmers in Mamombe's area who sold to private buyers complained that their maize was still not fetching enough money to cover their costs, let alone make a profit. "Most farmers from our area used to be conned by grain buyers who either gave them fake notes as payment or failed to pay them," said Mamombe’s neighbour, Johnson Manyere, 54.

The World Food Programme (WFP) initiative which is prompting Mamombe's return to maize farming involves technical support to smallholder farmers and the identification of local traders who can guarantee them prompt cash payments and low transport costs as a result of a more efficient marketing policy. WFP then buys the grain from the traders to distribute in its food assistance programmes.

It is part of a global pilot project called the Purchase for Progress Initiative (P4P) which aims to use WFP’s purchasing power and demand for staple food commodities to help smallholder farmers and small traders. By March 2011, P4P had purchased over 160,000 tons of food, mostly maize, from local suppliers in 20 countries, according to a recently published mid-term
review
of the programme.

In Zimbabwe, the local purchasing initiative is currently operating in Mashonaland West and Mashonaland Central provinces and involves hundreds of local smallholder farmers and several international NGOs including Goal International as well as SNV Netherlands Development Organisation and International Relief and Development. Its aim is to boost cereal production at a time when many farmers are opting for cash crops such as tobacco.

Proximity

WFP Country Director Felix Bamezon told IRIN that the local traders selected to participate in the scheme operate in grain surplus areas located as close as possible to the food insecure districts to which the grain will be transported for distribution. This minimized transportation costs, provided the farmers with ready markets and "should positively impact on future productivity”, said Bamezon, who hopes that the initiative will also stabilize the price of maize, especially immediately after harvest time when prices are low due to poor demand.

Bamezon added that paying farmers on time had “a positive bearing on [their] cash flows and ability to prepare for the coming season”. Some of the traders also sell inputs such as seed and fertilizer offering farmers a one-stop-shop.

In southwestern parts of the country perennially affected by drought, the scheme involves the buying of not only maize but small grains such as sorghum and millet as a way of encouraging communities to consider such grains as cash crops, instead of last-resort production crops in cases where maize fails.

Denford Chimbwanda, president of the Grain and Cereals Producers Association (GCPA), is upbeat about the WFP initiative and confident it will offset a potential rapid increase in the number of farmers producing maize.

Renewed confidence in cereals

“It is not possible to say how many farmers will positively respond to the initiative, but what is clear is that hundreds of them will have renewed confidence in maize and cereal production. The initiative provides farmers with guarantees that their produce will have a ready market and that is very essential in stimulating production,” Chimbwanda told IRIN.


Since June 2011, WFP has purchased 1,944 tons of grain from local traders for distribution in food insecure areas, adding to the 11,100 tons the agency has bought from traders in Malawi, Zambia and South Africa as part of its regional grain purchasing scheme.

The initiative has not been without its teething problems. According to Bamezon, small local traders tend to have problems getting assistance from banks, lack experience, and are sometimes unwilling to establish themselves in remote areas with poor infrastructure.

A worker with a Harare-based grain supplier participating in the scheme who declined to be named said his company planned to increase its buying stations in Mashonaland West and Central provinces, despite such difficulties.

“From our experience this year, a lot of farmers are willing to sell to us because they feel we can be depended on,” he said.

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]


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Mbeki’s concoction: candy from poison ivy



Brian Mangwende | 2011-12-27 16:33:00

NEWSDAY

There was pomp and fanfare, cheers, jeers and chides, some cried tears of
joy and cautious optimism while others sobbed with foreboding and
trepidation as the three political gladiators entered the arena at the plush
Sheraton Hotel to sign the Global Political Agreement.

The document was intended to end yet another time of madness.

Many thought that common sense had finally prevailed, in a land whose name
had become synonymous with human rights abuses, selective application of the
law, violence and extra-judicial murders.

Zimbabwe appeared to have turned a corner and well on the path to its
rightful place in the league of civilised African nations.

But that was a desert mirage !

The political landscape is complex . . . too complex, almost in a National
Geographic sense! It’s a land of astonishing political contrast, where
repression has become profession and culture.

Those with extra-sensory perception and good psycho-analysis saw the whole
pageantry for what it really was, from day one - just another hoax.

There was never a serious and sincere intention to consummate the agreement.

Not that the GPA, in spite of its imperfections, is dysfunctional, no . . .
! It’s just that some among the players in the mix are just simply that . .
. players — and never meant to commit to the “agreement” from day one.

Any agreement is as good as the players. Had the same GPA been signed
between men of honour and goodwill — men who put the interests of their
people ahead of their own selfish interests, and men who respect covenants
to which they append their signatures, Zimbabwe would have turned the
corner.

The essence of any agreement is utmost good faith, but exactly the
antithesis pervades the GPA.

I think it’s fair to say it’s advisable to count one’s fingers each time one
shakes hands with some of the characters in the GPA.

Resultantly, the coalition is nothing, but a farce.

It has failed to stop the sausages rolling off the barbecue. It was never
meant to, in the minds of the culprits . . . but just to buy time for them
to regroup.

It’s easier to mix oil and water, than get this coalition to work.

What national unity . . ? Between who and who . . ? Not in a . . . years!

For years now, Sadc has been sparing no effort to get the parties to
consummate the agreement. In Zimbabwe, South Africa, Zambia, Mozambique and
Namibia among others, they have pushed, pulled, cudgelled . . . but to no
avail.

Even the most basic and rudimentary items, like freeing of the airwaves and
appointment of governors has not been done.

There are no real substantive or ideological issues between the parties to
forestall progress, but an inherent determination to ensure that the
coalition fails and the country reverts to the status quo.

Far too much has happened since independence in 1980, and there are too many
skeletons in the cupboards, so there is fear a shift in power may leave some
exposed.

Zanu PF believes anyone else will hand back the country to the former
colonisers while the MDC-T, thinks Zanu PF‘s take is simply self-serving
pagan mythology.

Zanu PF also claims to be anti-West, long after the death of the bi-polar
world and accuses MDC-T of being aligned to the West, yet it wants sanctions
or restrictive measures removed so that it embraces the same West it
despises.

The strange thing is that when the world was clearly bi-polar, and the need
for alignment, one way or the other, existed, Zanu PF decidedly chose to be
non-aligned. We know they were forever in Western capitals and seldom in the
East.

So, how genuine and sincere is this anti-West rhetoric?

This lends credence to the notion that Zanu PF’s disaffection with the West
is not ideological, but simply stems from the fact that the West rapped it
over the knuckles for its excesses and embraced its avowed enemy in the
MDC-T.

With the benefit of hindsight now, South Africa’s Mbeki’s coalition was not
sufficiently anticipatory.

In short, it was a forlorn attempt to make candy from poison ivy.


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A beacon of light for Africa

http://www.thisiswiltshire.co.uk

1:04pm Tuesday 27th December 2011 in News

By Scott D'Arcy

IN A small outhouse in the corner of Purton farmyard, a man sits quietly
tinkering with electrical components.

He draws a design, drills the holes in the boxes, cuts the cable to length
and solders the attachments – each box of light made by hand and identical
to the next.

Thousands of miles away, a small child sits in the classroom of a school in
Zambia lit solely by solar-powered lights, while a nurse in rural Zimbabwe
helps deliver a baby safely under the same white glow.

The man is Roger Mugridge and his creations are life savers.

A former engineer for a British Formula One team until illness meant he had
to give it up, the 60-year-old now devotes his life to making solar powered
light boxes to replace dangerous kerosene lamps in schools and clinics in
Africa.

It was a place he and his wife Jean had visited many times before on
holiday, and it was there that he saw how the kerosene lamps are also used
to heat water.

“We went to Kenya a lot on holiday and while we were over there we
befriended a young lad,” he said.

“He took us to his village to meet his family and showed us one of the
little babies who had fallen into a pot of scalding water – it was awful.

“At the time that kind of accident was the second biggest killer of children
after malaria – most under fives did not survive the injuries.

“I was not working and had started playing around with designs of
light-emitting diodes so I decided to make one for the boy and his family –
I honestly thought that would be it.”

It was just the beginning – to date the charity he set up, called Lights for
Learning, has made more than 3,000 light boxes for 15 schools, three clinics
and two training centres across two countries.

In 2002 Roger was struck down with a debilitating illness, non-neurological
gait disorder, which means he has trouble balancing and needs sticks to help
him walk.

It forced him out of a job he loved – most recently he had a hand in
designing the Kinetic Energy Recovery System used in F1 – but it’s not
something he is bitter about.

“When I became ill with a balancing problem I had to give up work,” he said.
“It’s just one of those things. I don’t miss it because I have done it and I
was lucky. A virus destroyed the part of my brain that maintains balance and
I keep falling over all the time. I don’t even know I’m falling until I hit
the ground and on a bad day I can’t do anything.

“But you can adapt your mind to anything and I’m lucky I’ve been able to use
my skills still. I’ve never said no to a project even if I don’t know how to
do it. I see it as a challenge.”

It is some challenge, as it’s not just the schools where his lights are
making a difference, allowing children to access education, but also birth
clinics.

The benefits of Roger’s light source have led to high demand, with the
ambassadors and ministers of African countries coming to visit him in
Cricklade.

“I cannot believe it – it’s just gone worldwide. I think the governments of
these countries are starting to realise education is the key. We’ve just had
the results from a school in Zambia come through and there was a 540 per
cent increase in pass rates in the first year.”

While the charity has been making real headway on the continent and hopes to
expand into countries like Uganda, Lesoto and even India, Roger admitted the
costs involved have meant they have had to take a pause.

“We have had to stop ordering bits for the moment,” he said. “The last
project in Zimbabwe this year cost 35,000. The government over there have
promised us some money in the next budget and I believe them, but as a
non-profit making organisation we have run out of money to buy the stuff.

“A farmer has let me use his outhouse and never wants any money and some
companies have donated parts. I just wish we could get some businesses that
would donate some money towards it. My next aim would be to set up a
workshop in the countries.

“When you see the smiles on those kids faces, it just makes it worth it.”

The website for the charity is http://lightsforlearning.org/

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