Please see our Action Alert
January 30th, 2010
Please see our Action Alert
by Andrew Moyo Saturday 30 January 2010
HARARE - A group of British law makers is expected in Zimbabwe next week, in
the clearest sign yet of thawing relations between London and its former
The group, from the UK Parliament's International Development Committee
(IDC), will spend four days in Zimbabwe during which they will tour various
humanitarian projects funded by British taxpayers through the Department for
International Development (DFID).
DFID head in Zimbabwe Dave Fish said the visit by the parliamentarians will
help ensure continued support for the humanitarian projects in Zimbabwe.
"The UK government is committed to helping the poorest and most vulnerable
people in Zimbabwe," said Fish.
"Progress on halting the spread of HIV/AIDS, caring for orphans, widows and
disabled as well as access to safe water supply and agriculture inputs are
vital for Zimbabwe's recovery. The parliamentary visit will ensure that our
support continues to deliver life-changing results for those most in need of
It was not immediately clear whether the UK parliamentarians plan to hold
talks with President Robert Mugabe or any other leaders or officials of
Zimbabwe's unity government that came into office last February and has
promised to restore relations with Western nations.
While the visit is officially being touted as a parliamentary mission to
inspect UK-funded aid projects, it is likely to be viewed in political
circles as indication that London could be toying with the idea of renewing
contact with Mugabe, who still controls Zimbabwe despite agreeing to cede
some of his powers under the power-sharing agreement with Tsvangirai.
Relations between Britain and Zimbabwe soured after London and its Western
allies imposed visa and financial sanctions on Mugabe and his top
lieutenants as punishment for violating human rights, stealing elections and
failure to uphold the rule of law.
Mugabe denies the charges and instead accuses Britain of reneging on
promises to fund land reform in Zimbabwe and charges that London and its
Western allies have funded his opponents in a bid to oust him from power as
punishment for seizing white land for redistribution to blacks. - ZimOnline
by Own Correspondent Saturday 30 January 2010
HARARE - South African President Jacob Zuma is expected to present a report
on Zimbabwe's power-sharing agreement between President Robert Mugabe and
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai to the African Union (AU) Heads of States
meeting in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, officials said on Friday.
Zimbabwean strongman Mugabe is expected to attend the meeting which starts
on Sunday ending on Tuesday .
Saul Molobi, spokesman for South Africa's International Relations Department
said Zuma, who is Southern African Development Community (SADC) mediator in
the talks between Mugabe's ZANU PF and Tsvangirai's MDC parties, will also
brief the AU leadership of the meeting which was held in Maputo earlier this
month to discuss the Zimbabwe's power-sharing deal.
"As the mediator in Zimbabwe President Jacob Zuma is expected give a report
on the latest political developments in Zimbabwe and the outcomes of the
SADC Summit held in Maputo on January 7 2010," Molobi said.
The Maputo meeting urged the parties to the country's power sharing deal to
solve the outstanding issues and also discussed the problems rocking the
Indian Ocean island of Madagascar and the problems in Lesotho.
The talks to resolve outstanding issues between ZANU PF and the MDC have
dragged on since the former foes agreed to join hands last February in a
coalition government that has been credited with stabilising the country's
economy to improve the lives of Zimbabweans.
The coalition partners last week called off negotiations, with the
negotiators hinting that there was little prospect of the parties resolving
anytime soon the outstanding issues holding back the unity government and
threatening to render it ineffective.
Mugabe's party insists it has played its part to uphold the 2008
power-sharing deal that gave birth to the coalition government. ZANU PF
instead accuses its main rival MDC-T of reneging on promises to campaign for
lifting of Western sanctions on Mugabe and his top allies.
On Wednesday ZANU PF ruled out making further concessions in the
power-sharing talks until Western nations lift the sanctions, following
disclosure by British foreign secretary David Miliband last week that London
would lift the travel and financial sanctions on guidance from the MDC.
On its part the MDC-T - which has rejected suggestions by Zuma that it
shelves some of its demands - accuses Mugabe of flouting the power-sharing
pact after the veteran leader refused to rescind his unilateral appointment
of two of his allies to the key posts of central bank governor and attorney
The former opposition is also unhappy that Mugabe is refusing to swear into
government its treasurer Roy Bennett, while the veteran President has also
refused to appoint MDC members as provincial governors.
The AU Summit convenes under the theme "Information and Communication
Technologies in Africa: Challenges and Prospects for the Future". -
By Gerald Chateta
Published: January 29, 2010
Midlands,Zimbabwe - Police in the Midlands province have been instructed
to monitor and arrest members of the Movement for Democratic Change, Civic
Organizations, and Non Governmental Organizations holding public meetings.
According to a Radio signal sent to all police stations in the Midlands
province last week, police commanders were being directed to closely monitor
all meetings to be held by the 'opposition', NGOs and the civic society.
"If the commander of such an area under which a meeting by the opposition,
civic society or NGO is being held hesitates to give authority, or handle
the situation, he or she should consult Police General Headquarters(PGHQ).
In case of any meeting being held by the above stated, the commander must
monitor, record the whole proceedings and submit the details to PGHQ.
"If any member of the opposition, NGOs and Civic society is arrested, the
commander should immediately advise PGHQ the circumstances and details, and
if such information has not been forwarded to PGHQ in time, an improvement
is being called for", reads the directive.
A senior MDC official who requested anonymity complained about the directive
saying it is discriminatory.
"We are worried by the continued discriminatory application of the law in
this country. Why is it that the directive is aimed at disrupting meetings
held by the civic society and not ZANU-PF members? Why are only the MDC
members being affected by these repressive laws? We thought that the
Inclusive Government was going to treat everyone equally, but this has not
been happening one year since it was formed.
"This directive is meant to discourage us from carrying out constitutional
meetings with the people in the communities," said the official.
The former ZANU-PF led government used the Public Order and Security Act to
arrest members of the MDC when they held meetings.
POSA empowers the police to arrest any gathering made up of two or more
people without its clearance. The law had been used discriminately by ZANU
Pf to disrupt any meetings made by members of the opposition party.
Saturday, January 30, 2010
A new diamond rush has hit Chipinge, Chimanimani and unsecured parts of
Chiadzwa with illegal panners and foreign dealers once again descending on
Most of the diamonds are also believed to be finding their way to Mozambique's
Manica Province where a ready market is reportedly available.
Buyers from Harare have invaded the area though Lebanese citizens are said
to be the biggest wheelers and dealers in the area.
Manicaland provincial police spokesperson Inspector Brian Makomeke yesterday
said they had received a report of illegal diamond mining and investigations
Police officers, who are among those deployed to Chipinge, Chimanamani and
the unsecured parts of the Chiadzwa diamond fields said hundreds of panners
had besieged the areas in question.
They said there was an area about 2km from the Chiadzwa diamond fields where
the panners were carrying out illegal mining.
The panners have built temporary settlements and police sources said a
full-scale blitz on them would soon be launched.
Two companies have been given the green light to exploit part of the
Chiadzwa reserves and they have secured their claims with the latest hi-tech
surveillance and security equipment.
In Chipinge, panners have been digging for diamonds in the Chasiyamwa
Most of the diamonds there are reported to be of industrial quality, meaning
they are not as lucrative as those used in jewellery.
The Herald understands that panning in this area has been going on for weeks
There are about 60 diamond claims in Chikwizi Mountain, Muusha communal
lands under Chief Willie Muusha in Chimanimani, where diamond panners have
In an interview on Tuesday, Chief Muusha said the claims in the mountain had
been exploited by illegal panners after a South African-based company that
had been issued with the mining rights did not return to begin operations.
He said police had been carrying out periodic raids at the sites following
reports of violence among the panners.
"The area has become a battlefield and there are reports everyday of miners
fighting each other over control of mining claims.
"We hear that some people have even killed each other there," said Chief
He said some of the illegal miners were equipped with modern mining
"It is surprising that some of these panners have this equipment and we now
suspect that they are being sponsored by powerful people.
"More people are getting to know about these diamonds as some even come from
distant places, causing a rise in the clashes at the site and more deaths,"
Chief Muusha expressed concern over the increase in crime in his area,
saying armed criminals were on the prowl, and there was need for the
authorities to move in quickly.
"They use the guns against each other at the diamond fields or on dealers
Recently, a suspected panner, Kudakwashe Jiri, was shot in the backside and
had his hand broken during a fight over a claim.
The matter was reported to the police.
Secretary for Mines and Mining Development Mr Thankful Musukutwa had not
responded to questions sent to his office at the time of writing.
A diamond rush in Chiadzwa in 2006 led to a spike in criminal activities in
the Eastern Highlands district of Marange as well as widespread
State security agents subsequently moved in to secure the area leading to
legitimate mining operations being established last year.
At the peak of looting in Chiadzwa, Reserve Bank Governor Dr Gideon Gono
said Zimbabwe was losing millions of dollars monthly to mineral leakages.
by Chenai Maramba Saturday 30 January 2010
KAROI - Baton-wielding police officers this week drove out 60 children from
a nursery school at Karoi Anglican church because their parents do not
support excommunicated bishop Nolbert Kunonga's bid to seize control of the
In a bizarre twist to the ongoing battle for control of the Harare Anglican
church diocese on Wednesday parents who had accompanied their children to
the church where they attend their lessons until mid-day were surprised when
eight police officers armed with batons arrived and drove out the
unsuspecting children, locking them out of the church.
''It was dramatic for us as we watched baton-wielding police officers
driving out shell-shocked children under five years of age from the church
premises. The junior officers got the order from their seniors,'' said one
parent who is also a church member.
The Anglican Church's Harare diocese is divided into two factions - led by
Kunonga and Archbishop Chad Gandiya - who are involved in a tense and
sometimes violent struggle to control the church. Karoi farming town, about
203km north-west of the capital, falls under the diocese of Harare.
Last Sunday, the priest in charge of Karoi parish, Peter Balicholo who is
suspected of being a Kunonga sympathiser locked out worshippers, forcing
them to hold their service under the trees in the open space outside the
Balicholo who was transferred to Karoi from Harare last October, confirmed
that the children were locked out of the church because their parents
support the Gandiya - the legitimate leader of the Anglican church in Harare
after he was appointed by the Church of the Province of Central Africa
(CPCA) to head the diocese.
"The church council committee and other followers are against bishop Kunonga
and they are acting against him that's why I had these children driven out
of the church premises," Balicholo told ZimOnline.
Parishioners said they were dismayed at the ongoing turf war between Kunonga
and Gandiya saying it was unbecoming for Christians.
"We are surprised that the divisions are affecting children who were
enrolled here. We never thought that these battles could affect children as
young as four years. The community has to assist to end this madness," said
one worshipper speaking on condition that his name was not published.
''It's unfortunate that the dirty politics is affecting our children'' said
another parishioner Dainos Mutara of Chiedza suburb in Karoi.
Police chief superintendent David Mandizha in charge of police in Hurungwe
district that covers Karoi, refused to comment on the issue although he was
seen at the church premises with Balicholo last Wednesday afternoon.
Kunonga - who as Bishop of Harare tried to use the pulpit to defended
President Robert Mugabe's controversial policies - was dismissed by the CPCA
after he attempted to withdraw the diocese of Harare from the synod. The
CPCA is the supreme authority of Anglican Church in the region.
But Kunonga has defied its orders to surrender church property, while
Gandiya and his followers say the police have sided with the renegade bishop
and assisted him to seize control of church prayer halls and buildings in
violation of several court orders.
Meanwhile Gandiya's followers are tomorrow expected to hold prayers at
Africa Unity Square in central Harare to press the police to allow the
church access to its halls and buildings across the capital.
Mugabe - who is Catholic - will not attend despite being invited by the
Anglican Church registrar Michael Chingore confirmed that the prayer meeting
will go ahead as planned.
"We do have a police clearance, we are going ahead with the gathering as
planned," Chingore said, adding; "The President hasn't confirmed, I don't
believe he will be coming as we did not receive any confirmation if he would
be coming. We want to drive a point and I hope nothing happens." --
January 30, 2010
By Owen Chikari
MASVINGO - Three war veterans including former Masvingo provincial war
veterans association chairman Isaiah Muzenda yesterday took Masvingo
governor Titus Maluleke hostage for hours demanding money from him to bury
bodies of former freedom fighters who did not get decent burial in the
Muzenda , Ishmael Chatikobo who was former Masvingo remand prison officer in
charge and a war veteran only identified as Western were arrested and
charged with disorderly conduct likely to disturb public peace.
Muzenda and Western paid admissions of guilt fines and were released from
police cells yesterday while Chatikobo remained in custody since he had a
warrant of arrest.
According to the police Muzenda and his colleagues went to the governor's
offices and camped there for almost five hours.
The three denied the governor his liberty for the six hours as they
locked his office from outside claiming that they would not leave the
premise unless they were given money by the governor to carry out decent
burials for former freedom fighters who did not get decent burial in
Maluleke was forced to remain in his office for the entire six hours,
fearing for his life.
The governor later phoned the police and the three were arrested.
"We went and arrested the three and charged them with disorderly conduct
likely to disturb public peace", said a police spokesman who refused to be
"They told us that they wanted to get money from the governor in order for
them to rebury their colleagues who did not get decent burial since
independence", said the spokesman.
Maluleke yesterday confirmed the incident adding that he did not know why
the three behaved like that.
"I made a report to the police after the three came and held me hostage for
six hours and they were later arrested ", said Maluleke.
"It sounds strange to me for people to behave like what they did", was all
Maluleke could say.
This is not the first time that war veterans in Masvingo have clashed with
the governor who is also the resident minister of the province.
Last year war veterans led by Muzenda attacked the governor accusing him of
milking the Cold Storage Company dry by grabbing the little herd that the
company has been left with .
They also accused him of being a sell-out and of lacking the requisite
credentials to be resident minister of the province.
Maluleke has however denied the allegations accusing the war veterans of
being used by Zanu-PF politicians.
By SANDY MacINTYRE, Associated Press Writer Sandy Macintyre, Associated
Press Writer - 1 hr 23 mins ago
Zimbabwe's Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai looks on during a panel
discussion AP - Zimbabwe's Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai looks on during
a panel discussion on 'Meeting the Millennium .
By SANDY MacINTYRE, Associated Press Writer Sandy Macintyre, Associated
Press Writer - 1 hr 23 mins ago
DAVOS, Switzerland - Zimbabwean officials have sharply criticized Britain's
foreign minister for what one called his "very patronizing" remarks on
sanctions, saying those comments could hurt the African nation's
British Foreign Secretary David Miliband incurred the wrath of Arthur
Mutambara, Zimbabwe's deputy prime minister, when he told the British
Parliament earlier this month that sanctions should continue against
Zimbabwe until Morgan Tsvangirai, the country's prime minister, personally
advocated for them to be lifted.
"With friends like those, who needs enemies?" Mutambara asked on the
sidelines of the World Economic Forum late Friday. "What he has done is
completely unstrategic, is very ignorant and very patronizing. Why? Because
he is completely undermining Mr. Tsvangirai's power in the negotiations
Tsvangirai told AP Television News on Saturday that he found Miliband's
remarks unhelpful, particularly as Zimbabwe's coalition government tries to
agree on the specifics of a power-sharing pact with his rival, President
Tsvangirai's moderate MDC party is holding negotiations next month with
Mugabe's hard-line ZANU-PF party.
Tsvangirai met Miliband in Davos and said while he didn't support
Mutambara's strong language, he told the British envoy his comments could
complicate the political battle over how Zimbabwe should be governed.
"I did draw to his attention that his comment was unfortunate, it was
uncalled for, because what it literally meant was that the MDC has to accept
liability for any restrictions that have been placed on the country, rather
than that it is the misgovernance and the failed policies that caused the
European Union and the rest of the world to take those punitive measures,"
Tsvangirai told APTN.
Tsvangirai told APTN that a general political agreement must be reached at
the power-sharing talks before he could call for western nations to lift
their sanctions, which include travel bans on top officials and some curbs
on Zimbabwean companies.
"What we want is to re-engage the European Union and normalize our
relations," Tsvangirai said. "That is the objective."
Mugabe's government has been widely blamed for violence against his
political opponents and their supporters, including Tsvangirai. Western
nations accuse Mugabe of being responsible for an economic collapse that
turned Zimbabwe from prosperity to poverty and left tens of thousands of its
citizens struggling to survive.
Britain's Foreign Office issued a statement Saturday saying that it, and not
Zimbabwean officials, will decide when to lift the sanctions.
"The most important factor influencing the U.K.'s views on lifting EU
restrictive measures will be evidence of actual change and reform on the
ground in Zimbabwe," it said. "We will make our own judgments as to when
they should be reinforced or eased."
HARARE, Friday, January 29, 2010 - ZIMBABWE has very poor investment
protection policies says a report published by the Washington-DC-based World
The report, which compared 181 economies worldwide, said out of the total
number surveyed Zimbabwe stood at a poor 119 in the pack.
In the Southern African region the country came way behind such nations as
South Africa, Botswana, Angola, and Namibia.
It, however, beat regional neighbours Lesotho and Swaziland.
South Africa stood at number 10, Botswana at number 41, Angola (57) and
Namibia at number 73.
Lesotho, on the other hand, stood at number 147 in the survey while
Swaziland stood at180.
The survey studies investor protection policies compared to best practice in
selected economies who make information available to the World Bank.
The higher the score, the greater the investor protection, according to the
survey for 2010.
"Zimbabwe is ranked 119 overall for protecting investors," the World Bank
said in the report.
It describes three dimensions of investor protection such as transparency of
transactions, liability for self dealing as well as shareholders' ability to
due sue officers and directors for misconduct, the World Bank said.
The Indexes vary between o and 10, with higher values indicting greater
disclosure, greater liability of directors, greater powers of shareholders
to challenge the transaction, and better investor protection.
Last year Zimbabwe stood at number 114 in the survey.
It, therefore, has moved five places down the ladder as far as investor
protection is concerned.
APA-Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) The Executive Council of the African Union (AU)
Commission on Saturday elected15 new member states to the AU Peace and
Security Council for two and three years periods.
The Council elected five countries for three years and the other 10 member
states for a three-year period, as members at the Peace and Security Council
(PSC) of the commission, which was established five years ago to deal with
peace and security affairs in the continent.
Ben Kioko, the director of the Legal Council at the African Union (AU)
Commission told journalists that Equatorial Guinea, Kenya, Libya, Zimbabwe,
and Nigeria have been elected for a three-year term in the council.
The executive council also elected ten member states from the five regional
zones of Africa for a two-year period.
Burundi, Chad, Djibouti, Rwanda, Mauritania, Namibia,, South Africa,
Benin,Cote d'Ivoire and Mali have been elected for two years.
It is to be recalled that five member states were elected in 2007 for a
three-year term and ten countries were elected in 2008 for a three-year
The member states are elected in the council on a regional basis ; three
representatives from Central Africa, three from East Africa, two from North
Africa, three from Southern Africa and four from West Africa.
Council members meet and discuss and pass various resolutions regarding
peace and security affairs, including imposing sanctions against member
states where there is an unconstitutional change of government.
The 14th Ordinary Session of the AU Summit is being held under the theme :
"Information and Communication Technologies in Africa : Challenges and
Prospects for Development", which will officially be opened at the head of
state level on Sunday in the presence of African leaders and invited guests,
including the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
By LUNGA MASUKU on January 30,2010
MBABANE - Swazi motorists driving to South Africa are warned of a syndicate
of bogus police officers who stop Swazi drivers around the Johannesburg
International Airport road.
Deputy Police PRO Wendy Hleta said they learnt from their South African
counterparts that the syndicate operates as police officers and their main
target are vehicles with registration plates from Swaziland, Zimbabwe and
the Republic of Botswana.
"Yes it true that there is a syndicate that operates as police officers
around the Johannesburg airport and they stop people and demand to see the
currencies they are carrying. As police we would like to warn the public to
be on the look-out for such people. The public is urged to make sure that
they do not stop for unknown people. We have been told of an incident where
some were robbed of their money and car. The bogus police fled in their car
and South African police could not help them recover their car and money,"
Just recently a diplomat from one of foreign missions accredited to the
kingdom was stopped by the bogus police. The incident happened on January
15, 2010 as they were driving to Swaziland from a hotel next to the
Johannesburg International Airport where they slept the night before.
"Hardly after driving a few minutes from the hotel as we were about to get
to the road leading to Nelspruit a sedan came with South African
registration plates. It came from behind us and flicked to us to stop and my
driver just pulled off as instructed.
While still shocked, one gentleman dressed in a black suit looking like an
Asian national came out from the passenger seat and demanded to know where
we were coming from and going to. He asked if we were from Zimbabwe and we
told him that we were going to Swaziland and we were a holiday from
abroad," said the diplomat.
She said what struck her the most was the way the man was talking because he
then demanded to see the currency they were using. He wanted to know if they
were not carrying any drugs in their car.
"Efforts of asking them to show us their IDs were futile because the guy did
not entertain any questions from us and he kept on bombarding us with his. I
had a few notes of US dollars and he asked to have a look at them and I gave
him and fortunately he returned them to me and I still wonder what the
purpose of stopping us was," added the source.
Dear Family and Friends,
There are some things in Zimbabwe that are so shameful that it's
almost easier to turn away than to witness the reality of some
Recently I went to pay my telephone account on the same day as
pension cheques were supposed to have arrived at the local Post
Office Savings Bank. The two services operate side by side, in the
same building, on the ground floor and on opposite sides of a common
entrance door. The view in front of me was of mayhem. Literally
hundreds of people were crowded around the entrance to the building
and were clearly trying to get into the savings bank.
A security guard was leaning out of the window of the telephone
accounts hall watching the growing crowd. I held up my telephone bill
to indicate what I wanted and he shouted to me: 'Just push in!'
Reluctantly I stepped into the mass of people, apologising, excusing,
requesting passage and all the time showing the crumpled phone bill so
they knew I wasn't trying to get to the Savings Bank.
It took some time to squeeze, push and squash my way through the
crowd and then I realised that there seemed to be a lot of people
with crutches, walking sticks and even two people in wheelchairs.
When I finally got into the telephone accounts hall, very crushed,
battered and dishevelled I asked the security guard what was going
on. He told me that government pension cheques had not been deposited
into peoples accounts and that all these people were refusing to go
away until they got their money. They weren't waiting for a fortune
but for miniscule amounts that they can barely live on for one week,
let alone a month.
The doors of the savings bank were locked, the employees sat inside
chatting while hundreds of near destitute pensioners waited outside.
Word got around that there was no pension money and they should come
back after the weekend. Men and women in their seventies and
eighties, some as old as Zimbabwe's President, roared and surged
forward; glass doors looked in danger of collapsing, a disaster
seemed very close.
With such shame I looked at the men and women who gave a lifetime to
building our country and who were being rewarded like this. There was
nowhere for them to sit, no cups of tea or glasses of water, no polite
explanation, no apology, no respect for age, not even any empathy -
just a locked door. Grey haired, hunched over and so very thin, our
elders waited in vain. Many carried home made walking sticks,
knobbled, knotted and hand carved. Others wore glasses with one lens
missing or frames stuck together with putty; faces were hollow and
mouths shrunken, most with only a few teeth left, none with the
luxury of dentures.One man sat bent over in a wheelchair whose wheels
had been patched up with strips of bicycle tyre, sewn on with big
brown stitches. Almost all of them wore clothes that were long past
their best: suits with frayed cuffs and hems, threadbare dresses with
collars falling apart.
The state that pensioners find themselves in here, through no fault
of their own, is absolutely tragic. Life savings have been wiped out
with hyper inflation and repeated devaluation; assets have been sold
for miniscule amounts in exchange for food and medicines and
children, who could help, are either struggling somewhere in the
diaspora or unemployed and barely surviving themselves. A woman told
me her pension is 62 US dollars a month but her rent is 74 dollars.
Another told me her NSSA pension (social security) is 38 US dollars a
month but her medical aid is 48 US dollars a month, increased from 8
US dollars in December.
Perhaps hardest of all is the knowledge that if you have a fall,
break a bone or get sick, you're done for. Its a very common sight to
see elderly people being pushed in wheelbarrows or lying on the ground
in the dirt outside hospitals waiting for assistance. At our local
government hospital which is a provincial centre, there is now only
one government doctor serving the whole establishment.
As Zanu PF leaders continue to bleat about targeted sanctions that
only affect 203 individuals and 44 companies and say "no more
concessions" until "sanctions' are lifted, the madness goes on. Farms
continue to be grabbed, ever more people lose their homes, jobs and
life's work and more people are made destitute because of the greed
of a handful.
Zimbabwe's pensioners, like so many others in our population are in a
diabolical state which has nothing whatever to do with sanctions and
everything to do with a decade of mis-governance.
I end this week with a request for memories and anecdotes of Imire
Game Park in Wedza between the years 1950 and 2000. So much history
from the countryside has got lost in this dark decade and so many
people who were eye witnesses and could remember have gone. Please
contact me at the email address below if you have any stories you
would be prepared to share of this very special place. Until next
time, thanks for reading, love cathy. � Copyright cathy buckle 30
January 29, 2010
By Geoffrey Nyarota
THE ominous air of pervasive silence in which Zimbabwe has been shrouded
over the past many weeks was broken last week by the equally ominous, if
somewhat misplaced, declarations of one of the members of the recently
announced Zimbabwe Media Commission.
Chris Mutsvangwa, self-proclaimed academic, successful businessman, diplomat
and much else, made dramatic pronouncements at a time when Zimbabweans were
dying for some declaration, any proclamation from the country's political
establishment on the now inordinately prolonged process of negotiation by
the country's ruling parties on the future wellbeing of a nation in anguish.
Addressing journalists in their own lair, the Quill Club, the national press
club and a location which has lost much of its former eminence while
degenerating into a venue for political iniquity and the expression of all
manner of profanity, Mutsvangwa poured scorn on his long-suffering alleged
"You are so shortsighted that you think history only starts when a white
journalist starts commenting about your own country on behalf of Britain,"
Mutsvangwa mocked. "You are like a Pavlonian dog which is told that you must
do this because a certain signal has been given. Zimbabwean journalists are
failing to realise Africa's potential and failing to celebrate their
achievements just like what the Americans do."
It is certainly not my intention to defend my colleagues in the journalistic
profession. Indeed, the performance of some of them cannot be easily
defended. But Mutsvangwa's scornful remarks must be placed in the proper
context of current journalism in Zimbabwe.
To start with, there is absolutely no truth in the preposterous claim by
Mutsvangwa that every Zimbabwean journalist is a beneficiary of Zanu-PF's
early "Free education for all by the Year 2000" policy. It is also pertinent
to point out that the standard of journalism has deteriorated since
independence as a result of the deliberate policies of the very Zanu-PF that
he so vehemently defends.
The decline in the quality of training at the Harare Polytechnic, the
enhanced control of the country's major newspapers and electronic media
outlets by government have effectively conspired to kill journalism in
Mutsvangwa is a former chief executive of the Zimbabwe Broadcasting
There was no discernible improvement in the performance of the corporation's
journalist's during his tenure, which can be cited, even remotely, as
indisputable evidence of his claimed excellent qualities as a journalist.
If anything the steady decline in the standard of journalism at the ZBC
continued relentlessly during the Mutsvangwa era.
This decline was in keeping with the general strategy of President Mugabe
and Zanu-PF to facilitate political control through engendering journalistic
mediocrity. Mutsvangwa now adds insult to injury by denigrating the victims,
while seeking to continuously ingratiate himself with the perpetrators of
Zimbabwe's media sector has not escaped the ravages of the professional
brain drain over the past decade. A large number of practitioners occupying
senior positions in the South African media today, for instance, are of
Zimbabwean origin. Meanwhile, if Mutsvangwa has evidence that American
journalists celebrate in the absence of tangible proof of achievement, then
that is their prerogative,
Mutsvangwa vaingloriously attacks journalists at the very time when they
genuinely expect him to play a leading role as one of the few members of the
Zimbabwe Media Commission with some background, however tenuous, in the
media sector. He should be spearheading a very necessary process of media
reform for the benefit of both his colleagues, assuming he takes his
journalism seriously, and of his long-suffering compatriots.
The slow pace at which the process to formally appoint and establish the
Zimbabwe Media Commission is moving has become a matter of serious national
But then, notwithstanding the aspersions cast on the performance at the
Quill Club last Friday, the practice of journalism in Zimbabwe is currently
not the major cause of concern among the ordinary citizens of Zimbabwe,
although, if the truth be told, the performance of the government-controlled
media outlets has generally left much to be desired.
For instance, the MDC led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has constantly
complained about the sustained belligerence that characterizes the coverage
of its affairs by The Herald and the national broadcaster, the ZBC. Of more
serious concern has been the general media environment which has rendered
the practice of journalism a hazardous pursuit, while genuine press freedom
and the attendant free flow of information remain a mere pipe dream.
Contrary to Mutsvangwa's assertions, a matter that has been of more serious
public concern is the deadly silence emanating from the government of
national unity over the very issues considered by the general public to be
matters of priority and great public interest.
Such issues include the revived commercial farm invasions, the ongoing
breakdown in law and order, continuing persecution of Zanu-PF's major
political rival, the MDC, the urgent need for constitutional and media
reform - the list prescribed by the Global Political agreement in September
2008 and reinforced by the formation of the government of national unity in
February 2009, a year ago, is long.
Even more alarming is the apparent involvement of the very party in which
the majority of the citizens of Zimbabwe had bestowed their faith, the MDC,
in what now appears to be a veritable conspiracy of silence. The firebrands
of yesterday appear to have been effectively and shamelessly silenced by
their proximity to the centre of Zanu-PF's over-riding power.
The lethargy that is now clearly visible, for instance, in the process of
making the ZMC fully functional should, therefore, be viewed against a
background of a demonstrably diminishing commitment on the part of the
parties to the government of national unity to fully implementing the GPA.
In that regard the MDC, especially the party led by Prime Minister
Tsvangirai is more culpable than President Mugabe's Zanu-PF in abandoning
its once lofty political ideals for personal expedience and interest.