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300 Zimbabweans arrested in Johannesburg

http://www.thezimbabwetimes.com/?p=19329

July 4, 2009

By Ntando Ncube

More than 300 Zimbabweans staying at the Central Methodist Church were
arrested in the Johannesburg inner city for loitering and sleeping on the
pavements, metro police said on Saturday.

The church accommodates 4 500 Zimbabwean refugees and asylum seekers with an
estimated average of 100 to 200 new arrivals per week.

Senior Superintendent Wayne Minnaar said the raid followed numerous
complaints from the high court and business owners in the city.

"The vagrants were making it impossible for anyone to walk on the pavement
on Prichard, Kruis and Von Brandis streets. Some pedestrians had been
attacked and robbed by some of the vagrants," superintendent Minnaar said

Bishop Paul Verryn - whose church in provides shelter and food to homeless
immigrants - said the church had seen an increase in the number of children
of school-going age from Zimbabwe arriving to seek shelter after entering
South Africa on their own.

Minnaar said all women and children were being released on a warning. Men
were being released after paying a R300 admission of guilt fine.

"Those who do not have the money to pay the fine will have to appear in the
Johannesburg Magistrate's Court on Monday."

Doctors Without Borders in South Africa said a total of 344 Zimbabweans were
arrested outside the Central Methodist Church and the South Gauteng High
Court.

"Nursing staff from the MSF (Medecins Sans Frontieres or Doctors Without
Borders) clinic, operating at the church - where more than two thousand
Zimbabwean men, women and children seek refuge - witnessed police
manhandling some of the homeless Zimbabweans.

"When police officers rounded the Zimbabweans up they were pushed to the
ground and some were threatened with electric stun guns," said MSF
spokesperson Borrie La Grange said.

Minnaar said those arrested were not ill-treated: "We can't assault innocent
people, that's not true."

La Grange said most people were still being detained late on Saturday for
not paying the R300 fine.

"These people have not paid the fine, not that they don't want to, but
because they do not have it".

Adult male Zimbabweans have since time immemorial crossed into South Africa
in search of employment on the country's extensive farms, mines and
factories but an unprecedented economic crisis and political violence have
over the past decade seen nearly every other able bodied adult joining the
trek down south in search of better paying jobs.

Gauteng local government MEC Qedani Dorothy Mahlangu said Zimbabwean
refugees should not be allowed to stay at the Central Methodist Church.

"I think (Methodist Bishop Paul) Verryn is exposing them to more danger. We
are not condoning what he is doing. We condemn it," she said.

Mahlangu said government was negotiating with NGOs to provide accommodation
for the thousands of Zimbabwean refugees living in the church and on the
streets around the church.

"We are staying here above-board, all what these police are doing is out of
ruling made last few months. Last month the Johannesburg high court ruled
out that we must not be dispossessed or harassed. Government official
especially police are failing to respect the court ruling" Simbarashe
Muneguwo said.

"I cant tell what is going to happen any time from now otherwise we can see
police coming back to arrest those of us who remained but we have nowhere to
go" he said.


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S.African human rights bodies slam arrest of homeless Zimbabweans


1 hour ago

JOHANNESBURG (AFP) - South African human rights organisations on Saturday
condemned the arrest of about 300 destitute Zimbabwean nationals.

"We have been informed by the SAPS (South African Police Service) that the
purpose of the raid was to clear the streets and enforce municipal bylaws,"
the Lawyers for Human Rights and Legal Resources Centre said in a joint
statement.

"Large numbers of SAPS and metro police swooped on 344 people seeking
shelter from cold, shortly after midnight," the statement added.

Bishop Paul Verryn of the Central Methodist Church said among those arrested
were women and children.

The church is situated in central Johannesburg and provides shelter to
several hundred refugees, who sleep in the building, most of whom had fled
the economic meltdown in Zimbabwe.

"This is definitely a political decision, we've had people living on the
street all over the country for many years and they are not arrested. They
are targeting specifically this area, they are trying to intimidate these
people whose only crime is being poor," he said.

Verryn said there were more than 2,500 Zimbabweans inside the church. "They
(police) want to get rid of these people without offering any alternative,
where are they suppose go?"

Police spokesman Wayne Minnaar said more than 300 people were arrested
between Friday night and early hours of Saturday. He said the people were
arrested for loitering and sleeping on the pavements, following numerous
complaints from the high court and business owners in the city.

"They have been arrested for loitering, they will have to pay a R300 fine or
appear in court Monday."

However Lawyers for Human Rights spokesman Jacob Van Garderen said "the only
crime they committed is to be destitute without shelter".

Minnaar said the raids were going to continue. "This is part of an ongoing
programme, we will definitely continue with the raids."

The lawyers said they were refused access to the arrested people.

"In spite of our requests, we have not been permitted to consult with those
in detention.


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NOCZIM shortcomings trigger fuel price hike

http://www.zimonline.co.za/

by Nokuthula Sibanda Saturday 04 July 2009

HARARE - The state-run National Oil Company of Zimbabwe (NOCZIM) has failed
to procure enough fuel to meet the country's requirements which has resulted
in service stations increasing the price of the commodity to US$1,50 per
litre while diesel will be sold at US$1,09 with effect from next Tuesday.

The increment comes barely a month after the price of the commodity
increased from levels of US$1 per litre for petrol and US$0,80 for diesel to
US$1,30 and US$1 respectively.

Energy Minister Elias Mudzuri said the current fuel shortages are as a
result of problems being experienced by NOCZIM.

"NOCZIM is not procuring enough fuel as they are experiencing problems,"
Mudzuri said.

"There is pricing trigger mechanism which takes into account the issues of
costs, duties and levies which is used to arrive a cost effective pricing
module. The price of fuel is also going up internationally. The shortages
are as a result of government not putting enough money into the sector."

When functioning normally Zimbabwe consumes 100-120 million litres of fuel a
month, while the average consumption over the past months was 40-60 million
due to depressed economic environment. Currently, Zimbabwe is consuming
20-30 million litres of fuel per month.

Mudzuri also attributed the fuel shortage service on providers who he
accused of not releasing the commodity to the market in a bid to push up
prices.

Fuel resellers noted that the recent spate of increases have been largely a
result of increases in fuel duty and government levies of which at the
current price of US$1,30 government was taking US$0,59.

Global oil prices on the other hand have remained depressed with a barrel of
oil trading at an average of US$70 per barrel and is seen remaining below
US$90 per barrel by end of year. - ZimOnline


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ZANU PF official's farm guard commits suicide

http://www.zimonline.co.za/

by Tendai Maronga Saturday 04 July 2009

CHEGUTU - A guard, who was being accused of killing a man at Senate
President Edna Madzongwe's newly acquired Stockdale Farm, this week shot and
killed himself in a toilet at the farm.

Madzongwe - a top official in President Robert Mugabe's ZANU PF
party - has controversially acquired Stockdale Farm after muscling out its
original owner Peter Etheredge.

Nineteen-year-old Innocent Mbofana on Monday used a
12-ball-double-barrel shoot gun to shoot himself in the head and died on the
spot.

Sources from in the south western farming town of Chegutu said Mbofana's
body was taken to Chegutu hospital mortuary a few hours after he committed
suicide.

"He had initially run away after the death of the man they accused of
stealing oranges in May and he only returned last week. The police officers
at the farm tried to detain him but he escaped and went ahead to shot
himself," said a source who declined to be named.

A mortuary attendant at Chegutu hospital only identified as Ngwenya
confirmed receiving Mbofana's body on Monday afternoon before it was
released to the relatives on Wednesday for burial in rural Chakari near
Kadoma.

"The postmortem that was done was just external as the gun shot wound
was there for everyone to see. The relatives also did not have money for the
more expensive autopsy. Eyes popped out of the eyeholes. It seemed as if he
had shot himself from under the chin and the bullet came out through the
forehead," said the mortuary attendant.

No comment could be obtained from the police last night.

The sources said the family only managed to get US$30 from the Senate
President in order for them to buy fuel for the truck that was to be used to
carry the body for burial.

Violence erupted at Stockdale Farm in April resulting in the death of
the unidentified man at the hands of Madzongwe's farm guards.

A Justice for Agriculture spokesperson alleges that the man was taken
to the citrus pack shed where he was tortured for most of the night.

The following morning the man was released by the guards (no police
report was made of the theft), and the body was found near the entrance to
the farm.

A report was made to Chegutu police and three of Madzongwe's guards,
plus two Stockdale former employees, were picked up by the police. No
arrests have so far been made.

Efforts to get a comment from Madzongwe proved fruitless as she was
not answering her mobile phone.

Zimbabwe, also grappling with its worst ever economic crisis, has
since 2000 when land reforms began, relied on food imports and handouts from
international food agencies mainly due to failure by resettled black
peasants to maintain production on former white farms.

Poor performance in the mainstay agricultural sector has also had far
reaching consequences as hundreds of thousands of people have lost jobs
while the manufacturing sector, starved of inputs from the sector, is
operating at around 10 percent of capacity.

International donors and Western governments have - on top of other
conditions - made it clear that hey would not consider giving aid to
President Robert Mugabe's unity government with Prime Minister Morgan
Tsvangirai while farm invasions continue. - ZimOnline


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Leaders agree to strengthen AU

http://www.zimonline.co.za/
by Own Correspondent Saturday 04 July 2009

JOHANNESBURG – African leaders on Friday agreed to enhance the powers of the 53-member African Union (AU) and give it a role in coordinating defence policy and trade negotiations, a participant in the talks said.

Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, who is hosting a summit of African heads of state this week, wants to turn the AU into a bloc along the lines of the European Union and had pushed hard for the leaders to adopt the plan.

The AU and the regional Southern African Development Community are the guarantors of Zimbabwe’s power-sharing agreement between President Robert Mugabe’s ZANU PF party and the Movement for Democratic Change formations led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Deputy Premier Arthur Mutambara.

Deliberations on enhancing the powers of the African Union's executive body at the summit in the Libyan resort of Sirte stretched from Thursday to the early morning hours of Friday before leaders agreed on the document, Benin's Foreign Minister Jean-Marie Ehouzou, told the media.

"We have given agreement for the co-ordination of foreign affairs and defence," he said, adding; "The states are ready to cede a little bit a part of their sovereignty for the benefit of the Union."

The document has to be ratified by member states' parliaments before it comes into force.

According to a copy of the document shown to reporters, the AU's executive body will:

  • "Co-ordinate the positions of the member states of the AU during international negotiations."
  • "Co-ordinate the implementation of a common African policy on defence and security as well as strategy and the mobilisation of the necessary resources for the defence of the continent."
  • "Represent the common interests of the member states of the Union and speak in their name in international forums on international trade."
  • Stronger political role

The AU was born in 1999, succeeding the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), and was designed to fight poverty and instability by removing barriers to trade and allowing African states to speak with a single voice.

It issues political declarations and oversees peacekeeping missions on some of the continent’s hot spots such as Somalia and Sudan's Darfur region but it has fallen short of the ambitions of some of its founders who wanted it to develop along the lines of the EU.

While African leaders largely agree on economic integration some are sceptical about a stronger political role for the AU. – ZimOnline


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Deputy PM Mutambara Promotes Country as 2010 Destination

http://www.voanews.com

By Marvellous Mhlanga-Nyahuye
Washington
03 July 2009

Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara of Zimbabwe has invited the president
of the International Federation Of Football Associations, Sepp Blatter, to
visit Zimbabwe ahead of the World Cup of Soccer to take place in neighboring
South Africa in 2010.
Mutambara told reporter Marvellous Mhlanga-Nyahuye of VOA's Studio 7 for
Zimbabwe that a FIFA delegation will travel to Harare next week to prepare
Blatter's visit, which it is hoped will bolster confidence in Zimbabwe as a
secure side destination for players and tourists.

In tennis, Zimbabwean Cara Black and partner Liezel Huber were thrashed in
the Wimbledon womens doubles by defending champions Serena and Venus
Williams, 6-1, 6-2.

The Williams sisters will face either Australians Samantha Stosur and Rennae
Stubbs, or the Spanish pair of Anabel Medina Garrigues and Virginia Ruano
Pascual, in the finals.


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Low-Paid Zimbabwean Public Workers Hoping For a Raise This Month

http://www.voanews.com



By Patience Rusere
Washington
03 July 2009

The Zimbabwean government will increase salaries for state workers at the
end of July to put them closer to normal levels than the current US$100
monthly allowance, reports said.

Executive Secretary Emmanuel Tichareva of the Public Service Association
said his union has heard from a senior Treasury official that salaries of
civil servants are under review.

But he said there has not yet been any official notice of an increase.

The Zimbabwe Independent newspaper quoted Finance Minister Tendai Biti as
saying new salaries for public servants will be announced on July 16 in his
quarterly review.

Tichareva told reporter Patience Rusere of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that
the move by the government is probably intended to avert a looming strike.


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Experts probe Masvingo gold rush reports

http://www.herald.co.zw

Saturday, July 04, 2009

From George Maponga in Masvingo

Police here have dispatched a specialised team from the minerals section to
assess reports of a gold rush at Zouma resettlement area in Gutu, as
authorities move in to plug the resurgence of illegal mining activities in
the country.

It has also emerged that a number of individuals have been jostling to get
hold of licenses and claims so that they can legally exploit the potentially
lucrative gold fields in the area.

Plans are reportedly underway by a consortium of licensed small-scale miners
at Zouma to establish a milling plant to process the ore that is being
extracted from reefs. Masvingo police spokesman Inspector Phibion Nyambo
yesterday said they had dispatched a team of specialised security officers
to investigate reports of a gold rush, and, if necessary, flush out any
illegal miners.

Insp Nyambo reiterated that police were on a constant alert to deal with any
illegal mining activities in the country. "We have sent a team to assess the
situation at Zouma following reports that there is a gold rush in the
resettlement area.

"We will always be on the lookout for those who venture into illegal mining
activities, and if the illegal miners are indeed there we will definitely
flush them out.

"As police we are always on the ground to make sure that there is no
resurgence of illegal mining activities anywhere in the country and we have
since constituted a minerals' section here in Masvingo that will deal with
issues to to with illegal mining and exploitation of minerals," said
Inspector Nyambo. Fears abound that the rush caused by reports of the
discovery of gold in abandoned mining claims in Gutu could spark scenes
reminiscent of the chaos that was witnessed in Chiadzwa after the discovery
of near-surface diamonds in the eastern district in 2006.

Zimbabwe reportedly lost diamonds worth over US$1,2 billion from illegal
mining activities at Chiadzwa with the mineral being smuggled out of the
country through well-constructed syndicates, many of which were never
brought to book.

Illegal mining activities have also caused immense environmental degradation
in Manicaland and gold-rich parts of Midlands.


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Brutality continues

Be advised that the attached pictures may offend sensitive viewers.

On Thursday 25th June, 2009 J was walking back from the shops to his home in Macha ward, Muzarabani, when he was attacked by two well known Zanu PF men carrying an axe. J was an MDC election agent in that areaduring last years elections. Not long after the March 29th 2008 elections he was attacked by the very same two men who broke his left arm and two fingers on his right hand.His home was also destroyed. This time their intention was to chop off his right hand.

The reason for this attack on J, was that he reported his assault last year to a Human Rights organisation, who has recently served summons on the attackers.

He managed to get away and ran to his home where his wife bandaged up the shattered arm. He caught a bus a few hours later at 9pm, reported the case to the Muzarabani Police and then travelled to Harare, arriving at 6 am the next day.

Medical experts requested that he sign a consent for an amputation before he went to the operating theatre, as they saw little hope of saving his hand. Thank God, that was not the case. The surgeon did a wonderful job andJ not only has his hand but also has movement and feeling. He is still visibly traumatised by the second attack on him by these Zanu PF thugs.

I would like to quote Zanu PF's provincial Chairman of Masvingo province, Mr. Lovemore Matuke, when interviewed by Radio VOP. He said "ZANU PF does not promote violence or lawlessness. He added that those who were overzealous during the elections, in the name of the party, should now face the consequences. If anyone committed a crime, then the law shall catch up with him. If someone sent them, then let that person be answerable and pay for them, not the party".

One wonders if the man is plain stupid or totally "brain"washed? Over 7000 victims of violence reported for medical treatment between March and September 2008, all victims of Zanu PF, militia, and the military brutality. Many hundreds more were prevented from seeking treatment as their home areas were closed off by the militia. Over 200 were brutally murdered, an estimated 200 are still missing (now presumed dead)? Women and girls were gang raped. MDC owned livestock was either stolen, killed and eaten, or burned alive by Zanu PF. MDC homes were destroyed and looted.

The Ministry for National Healing and Integration, headed by 1 MDC T Minister, 1 MDC M, and 1 Zanu PF Minister need to get their act together.Have they purposely left out the word JUSTICE?

If we are to learn from other countries in the world, there cannot be healing and integration until the perpetrators have been brought to book. How can that process begin -

While the state sponsored thugs continue to act with total impunity, while the perpetrators of last yearsvicious brutality walk free (and all those who orchestrated Gukuruhundi in the 1980's), there is little or no chance of any healing and integration!

Zanu PF has to admit to its brutal campaigns of violence and start compensating the victims.

     


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Zimbabwe's law of the land

http://www.irishtimes.com/
Saturday, July 4, 2009
  • Fighting in the fields: Deon Theron feeding one of his remaining cows, which he has had to move onto to his mother's farm, as his three farms have been taken over
  • farmer Manie Grove, who was attacked last year on his farm.
  • Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai insists the attacks are isolated incidents. Photographs: Bill Corcoran
  • The ruins of buildings at the Masapas Ranch in Mashonland
BILL CORCORAN

Despite a court ruling in their favour, white farmers in Zimbabwe are still being forced from their land, and the new political coalition appears deaf to their appeals

THE THERON family home on Friedenthal farm outside of Beatrice, a rural village 70km north of Harare, resembles a military enclosure as much as it does a farmhouse at the heart of a sprawling cattle ranch.

Even though the brutal bush war between black rebel groups and the white Rhodesian government, which led to Zimbabwe’s formation in 1980, is long past, the property built by Deon Theron’s parents gives the impression that this is a family still under siege.

Inside the almost five-metre-high fence that surrounds the property, the front of the farmhouse is encased by a heavy steel mesh that wraps around the veranda. Just to the left of the building, the roof of an old underground bunker can be seen protruding half a metre above ground level.

As we enter the home where he and his six siblings grew up, Theron explains that the security measures were introduced by his parents in the early 1970s to frustrate rebel groups bent on attacking white-owned farms.

Despite the formation of Zimbabwe’s unity government just over four months ago, in a powersharing pact between the country’s rival parties that was supposed to mark the start of a new beginning, Theron believes that the need for protection remains.

“The bunker was built to protect us from the mortar attacks they carried out, and the mesh was put up to stop hand grenades . . . The bush war was a bad time for farmers; you were on your own and exposed out here. We thought those days were passed, but given the attacks that have occurred over the past few months, some of these safety measures are still needed,” Theron says.

Under President Robert Mugabe’s controversial 2000 land-reform programme, which was hailed as a way to redistribute land to the previously disadvantaged black population, thousands of white farmers have been dispossessed of their property.

Despite the 85-year-old’s claim that he has been righting the wrongs inflicted by British colonialism, some people who follow Zimbabwe’s fortunes see the programme as something else entirely. They claim Mugabe has used the initiative to reward his cronies with land, while simultaneously punishing white farmers, the majority of whom support the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), which was formed in 1999.

While primarily affecting whites, the impact of the programme has also been negative for most black Zimbabweans, as those who get the land rarely farm it, which has left hundreds of thousands of farm workers unemployed and the population reliant on food aid.

Theron, who has had to go into hiding for a six-week stretch from the police, has lost his three commercial farms in Beatrice through a combination of violence, intimidation and rulings from a biased judiciary.

Initially, his properties were invaded by so-called war veterans and youth militias loyal to Mugabe, but more recently the process has entered the courts, following moves by farmers around the country to seek a legal remedy outside of Zimbabwe.

Landless by 2005, Theron moved his livestock to his parents’ Friedenthal farm. However, his 79-year-old widowed mother recently received a letter from the land ministry ordering her to vacate her property as the government was giving it to someone else. The pair will face eviction in court later this month.

Over the past nine years about 4,000 white commercial farmers have suffered the same fate as Deon Theron, with the scale of violent invasions and evictions rising and falling in unison with the violence Mugabe’s political opponents have faced in the run-up to general elections. Of those removed from their properties, only 197 have received compensation of between 3 to 8 per cent from the government, according to the Commercial Farmers Union (CFU). However, the formation of Zimbabwe’s unity government last February between the MDC parties and Mugabe’s Zanu-PF was supposed to bring an end to the violence that has left the country economically crippled.

But according to Theron, a senior member of the CFU, little has changed for the estimated 500 remaining white farmers who have managed to hang on to their farms. Only last week Theron found the seven dogs on his mother’s farm poisoned, and “settlers” who have been continuously stealing from his dwindling cattle remain camped at the edge of the property, waiting to move in once the eviction has occurred.

CFU CHIEF executive Hendrik Olivier told The Irish Times that since April 17th, when Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara was dispatched to investigate claims that farm invasions and intimidation were alive and well, the organisation has received hundreds of reports of violent incidents. “What is clear is that some of these attacks and intimidations are being carried out by high-level individuals [in Zanu-PF] and despite us reporting them to the necessary authorities no action has been taken. We have been in consultation with both sides of the unity government informing them of the incidents on a weekly basis but little has been done to stop them. In many cases we are told the police are at the forefront of efforts to intimidate our members,” he says.

What has been particularly upsetting for the farmers has been the reaction of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, who despite being shown evidence of the attacks said recently that the incidents were isolated and represented no threat to the unity government’s stability. The fight by the farmers to hang on to their land through the courts has been a complicated and arduous process, given that much of the judiciary at magistrate level has been forced or bribed to rule in favour of the state.

Each time a farmer finds a loophole in the law covering land acquisition that supports their case, the government has introduced a constitutional amendment to close the door. According to Olivier, the CFU’s lawyers were so effective the government decided to introduce constitutional Amendment 17, which “stops us from being able to argue any matter concerning land in the courts”.

This prompted farmer Mike Campbell and 77 others to take their illegal eviction case to a newly established Southern African Development Community (SADC) tribunal in May 2008, and on November 28th it ruled in their favour.

The tribunal found that Mugabe’s land-reform programme was a racist policy and ordered the Zimbabwean government to allow the farmers to live in their homes undisturbed and allow them continue farming. Rather than complying, the justice department is now trying to speed up the state-initiated eviction process and has circulated documentation to magistrates effectively ordering them to pre-judge land cases involving white farmers.

The documents, titled “Handling Land Cases”, have been seen by The Irish Times, and are signed by the country’s then chief magistrate, Herbert Mandeya (who is now president of the labour court). They are dated January 30th, 2009, and instruct magistrates to ignore the SADC ruling. The guidelines for the judges say that in cases where farm beneficiaries have official-letter offers from the land-reform department, white farmers should be evicted from their farms as a matter of urgency.

Last month, on June 5th, the SADC tribunal found the Zimbabwean government to be in contempt of its previous ruling and again ordered it to comply. However, the Mugabe-loyal justice department has stated the government will not recognise the body’s ruling.

WHY MUGABE’S regime is playing out its land-reform programme through the courts, rather than simply forcibly removing every white farmer from the land, is not an easy question to answer, but MDC secretary for welfare Kerry Kay believes it is a tactical move.

“He could have taken every farmer off the land between 2000 and 2004, but by doing it this way he can keep the land issue alive and use it as a political weapon as and when he needs to,” she says.

Another fundamental question is why Zimbabwe’s remaining white farmers have stubbornly remained when opportunities to farm in other African countries have arisen. Theron says in many cases it is a matter of principle.

“No matter where you go in life there are problems, so what do you do? Move to greener pastures? People should not have pity on us – we have chosen to stay. This is about standing up for what you believe in. We live in a country that is not violent outside of the political sphere. The people, black and white, are the best I have encountered. The problem is with good governance,” he concludes.

Theron’s view is not an isolated one. Hendrik says even after all that has occurred, large numbers of dispossessed farmers want to return to Zimbabwe and work the land if the conditions are right.

“We have constantly said we are not against land reform, but it needs to be done in a fair way, and compensation for those who have lost is needed. Most of the farmers who lost their land bought it after independence with the blessing of the government. “Let’s call a moratorium on all prosecutions and evictions and conduct a land audit. We should give all farmers access to the land who want to farm,” he says.

Bill Corcoran continues his reports from inside Zimbabwe from Monday


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Frightening residents meetings


http://www.channel4.com/

4 July 2009

Updated on 04 July 2009

By Guest blogger

As ridiculous as it might sound, doing something as simple as going to a
residents association meeting is something that takes considerable courage
here in Zimbabwe, writes Helen.

Completely dominated by zanu PF, CIO (secret police) and spies, it's long
been dangerous to go to a residents meeting and looking for trouble to say
anything, criticise or try and lodge a protest for non-existent service.
Everything was watched, men in dark glasses sat in corners and took notes
and the meetings were suffocated with politics. Zanu PF politics.

I'd like to say all this has changed under Zimbabwe's new government but it
hasn't really and now we've gone from the frightening to the ridiculous.

For the third month in a row I went to what was being called a residents
association meeting in my home town this week. I expected to be able to
address grievances to the new ward and town councillors and was ready to do
some serious table banging about the river of sewage that is flowing behind
a local school. Green, slimy and stinking the effluent is coming from a
blocked pipe and it runs for at least half a mile in a residential area
before diverting off into a wetland and ending up in a stream. The other
matter I wanted to raise with the councillor for my area was when
residential garbage collection was going to resume. It's been over two years
since dustbins have been cleared and everyone is downing under a mountain of
tins, bottles and other garbage that is un-burnable.

Seeing as our town is now completely run by the MDC: Mayor, all the ward and
town councillors and even the member of parliament, we really expected
things to have started improving by now.

The meeting started 15 minutes late with obvious confusion as to who was in
control and no one knew what matters were on the agenda or if there was even
an agenda. Not one of the town's councillors turned up, or sent apologies.
In fact, the people that did arrive and sit at the top table were all
strangers. One by one they scraped their chairs back and in tiny, inaudible
voices, they introduced themselves as the chairman, vice chairman,
treasurer, secretary and council members of the residents association.

What! We all asked. Who on earth were these people?

Whispering, questioning and confusion was rampant amongst the dozen or so
residents who had been brave enough to attend the meeting. (The fear of
intimidation, harassment and being marked as an MDC activist is still
widespread and so even getting a dozen people to attend is a major
achievement.)

It took about 20 minutes of heated argument, raised voices, accusations and
finger pointing for the truth to out. Or a sort of truth floating in a sea
of chaos and suspicion.

It turns out that there are two residents associations apparently
representing the people of the town. The people who sat at the top table at
last month's meeting are apparently impostors, zanu PF infiltrators.

The people at the top table this month say they are the 'real' residents
association and when we asked them who they were, where they'd been for the
last 10 years and who elected them to represent the residents, the excuses
would have been hysterically funny - if it wasn't all so tragic. They said
they'd formed 12 years ago but had been unable to hold meetings since 1997
due to what they called 'political mishaps.' They said that the person who
had all their registration papers was not around and they couldn't answer
the question as to whether they were a legally constituted group or not.

The few residents who had come to the meeting soon made the obvious decision
that it was utterly pointless to carry on having what had turned into a non-
meeting. We left and met informally outside in the car park. It was hastily
decided a lawyer would have to be engaged, a town meeting called and an
entirely new residents association would be elected.

In the meantime the garbage piles up and sewage flows unchecked because as
fast as we take a single step forward ,we just as quickly take two steps
back.


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ROHR Zimbabwe comes of age


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ROHR ZIMBABWE COMES OF AGE

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In August 2009, ROHR Zimbabwe will celebrate its second anniversary since its Formation in 2007.

ROHR Zimbabwe has positioned itself as a human rights organization that places special emphasis on grassroots based activism, radicalism, creative mobilization and outreach methodology. The organization focuses on a broad spectrum of rights- civil, social, economic and political. The organization derives its uniqueness from its radical approach and strength from a physical presence in every province, leadership in the overseas – that assist in resource mobilization, grassroots oriented programs as well as inherent activism and promptness of action

Although ROHR Zimbabwe started operations a mere two years ago, it has made considerable strides within its short life span in challenging and speaking out against human rights violations. In 2007 and 2008, ROHR Zimbabwe appointed focal persons in each province, who have been acting as catalysts and link persons in identifying and taking action against violations. An office has since been established in Harare. Some provinces such as Masvingo, Midlands and Bulawayo have already put in place frameworks to document cases of human rights violations. Already, ROHR Zimbabwe has registered a strong presence in national and international independent media, as several of its press statements have been covered in these different media. In order to register discontent on the human rights situation in the country, ROHR Zimbabwe staged several demonstrations in various parts of the country. There was however spirited efforts by the government to thwart these demonstrations.

ROHR Zimbabwe is a non party – political, grassroots and membership based organization passionate and committed to bringing about positive change in Zimbabwe through advocating for a Zimbabwe where rights and freedoms of every human being are respected and promoted. The organization is inspired by the founding mission of returning Zimbabwe to normalcy and higher standards of respect for human rights after years of violations of unimaginable proportions with the aim of achieving justice and peace in Zimbabwe. The organization was formed by a coalition of Zimbabwean in exile abroad and others who fell victim to the human rights violations that rocked Zimbabwe since Independence in 1980, whose forms and magnitudes became horrendous during election times, particularly after the emergence of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). The founding members believe in the conceivability and practicality of the realization of human rights.

ROHR Zimbabwe activities

The centrality of ROHR Zimbabwe programming is hinged upon the three basic mandates stemming from its mission statement. Our mission is to promote a culture of human rights in Zimbabwe through community mobilization, capacity building and active responses to human rights challenges.

COMMUNITY MOBILISATION

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The strategic objective for this theme is to mobilize, empower and inspire people in Zimbabwe to defend and claim their rights. Noting that Zimbabwe is currently reeling from the effects of gross violation of human rights, polarized environment, de-mobilized communities, discrimination and docility at community level, ROHR Zimbabwe would like to ensure that individuals, acting collectively, gain greater influence and control over their lives. The objective is to ensure that efforts are directed to re-mobilizing communities, giving them cutting edge information and knowledge that enable them to individually and collectively promote and protect their rights.

As ROHR Zimbabwe we believe that empowered citizens, who are networked and speaking with one voice, have the potential to serve as powerful change agents who have an impact on policy making and the enforcement of existing policies. Community empowerment would facilitate paradigm shift by communities from passive community life to intensive action oriented responses to human rights challenges.

In pursuit of this goal and consistent with our unique values of bravery, action, responsiveness and assertiveness, ROHR Zimbabwe mobilized communities from day one in protests against human rights. In 2007 demonstrations were held to put pressure on the ZANU PF regime to stop human rights abuses in its quest to maintain a stranglehold grip on power and create a one-party state.

In 2008, ROHR Zimbabwe was in the headlines on its principled stance that people needed to be accorded a chance to choose a Government of their choice through a free and fair ballot held in peaceful environment and monitored and observed by international bodies. More than 8 demonstrations were held countrywide in Harare, Matebeleland, Masvingo, Manicaland, Midlands and Mashonaland central. Even though some of the protest marches were met with the full force of police brutality and violently cracked down, the strong desire to seek real change that subsisted in the people of Zimbabwe never died, and still exists in them now that an inclusive government is in place.

CAPACITY BUILDING

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From left to right: ROHR Zimbabwe workshop in Harare 26 June 2009; ROHR workshop in Gweru 15 May 2009

ROHR Zimbabwe is conscious of the good intentions the political parties in Zimbabwe had that led to the formation of the inclusive government although we are still worried that no tangible steps have been taken to address human rights violations as human rights defenders and political activists are constantly being harassed, detained and tortured.

Due to the harsh environment that characterized the development landscape over the past few years, particularly attacks on human rights defenders, most activists have fled the country; have been disabled, killed, maimed, demobilized, and cowed into submission. In addition, structures and networks of activists have been infiltrated and weakened by the ruling ZANU PF, hence there is weak positive activism due to fear, targeted harassment and all manner of violations.

Leadership development and capacity building workshops

So far this year, ROHR Zimbabwe carried out five workshops in Harare, Mutare, Bindura, Gweru and Bulawayo, in order to strengthen the provincial structures and to inspire, empower and motivate local activists to champion the cause of promoting and defending human rights in their communities.

The main motivation behind these workshops is to develop a pool of radical activists, able to champion human rights issues and to keep the state parties in check. These activists should be resident at grassroots level to not only monitor the violations but also mobilize communities to timely act on issues that threaten the enjoyment of rights and fundamental freedoms.

Under capacity building, other specific interventions by ROHR Zimbabwe include developing a human rights activists’ handbook, intensive training on human rights promotion and defense strategies and organizing activists at local level for more effective responses.

ACTIVE RESPONSES TO HUMAN RIGHTS CHALLENGES

ROHR Zimbabwe’s founding mandate is to actively engage citizens in timely and quick interventions that seek to mitigate on specific human rights degenerations in the country. This thematic area is not totally divorced from the objectives under community mobilization whose overall objective is to hold Government and its institutions accountable and responsive to peoples’ needs.

Mindful of the suffering of the people of Zimbabwe in 2008 caused by the quasi-fiscal activities of the central bank Governor, ROHR Zimbabwe sponsored a lawsuit against Gideon Gono in September 2008.

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ROHR Zimbabwe shamed perpetrators of rights violations through naming and shaming such as in the case of Selina Mumbengegwi, the former finance Minister’s wife Samuel Mumbengegwi when she was implicated in the brutal murder of her farm worker and brutal assault of MDC supporters in her farm.

The naming and shaming strategy was planted into the seeds of the communities so much so that ownership of the action in the communities worked to deter a comfortable habitation for peddlers of violence in the 2008 inter-elections violence. In Masvingo, some political criminals fled their houses to other countries after they were named and shamed using the local communication channels aimed at disgracing such appalling behavior from fellow Zimbabweans.

Acknowledgements

ROHR Zimbabwe wishes to acknowledge the following for their immeasurable contributions towards the activities and programmes carried out since 2007. It would be unfair if their contributions are not awarded the due respect they deserve:

ROHR Zimbabwe leadership in the United Kingdom and Zimbabwe, especially the president Mr. Ephraim Tapa for his dedication towards the Zimbabwean plight. Mr. Tapa has been at the centre of mobilizing resources and funds for programmes and activities back in Zimbabwe.

The United Kingdom structures for supporting ROHR Zimbabwe activities in Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe Vigil and the coordinator Rose Benton for their unwavering support and a strong partnership with ROHR Zimbabwe.

ROHR Zimbabwe secretariat and members, the struggle could not have been easy had it not been the support they rendered to the organization.

Way forward

ROHR Zimbabwe guided by the vision to see a society conscious of human rights, is still committed and will continue to fight for the full realization of rights in Zimbabwe. The coming of inclusive government gave an impression that reforms were underway but the situation has not changed much; rights violations are still going on. The human rights environment remains volatile and this demands that we continue to engage and put pressure on the government to ensure reforms that prioritise respect of human rights are put in place. We also intend to intensify civic education and community engagement to nurture a society that is human rights conscious, particular attention given to rural communities. A campaign for the incorporation of human rights curriculum in schools to educate the school children on human rights issues is also on the cards as we feel human rights violations were mainly due to a lack of proper knowledge on the subject of human rights (catch them young).

ROHR Zimbabwe is also keen to establish and reach out to people of Zimbabwe in their communities and set up structures from provincial to ward level, this has the potential of influencing policy reforms from bottom up the ladder to top and to facilitate the coordination of human rights activities or programs at grassroots level.

From the information Department of Restoration of Human Rights (ROHR) Zimbabwe

www.rohrzimbabwe.org

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Zimbabwe’s economy shows signs of life

http://www.thezimbabwetimes.com/?p=19323

July 4, 2009

By Sasha Planting

THE moribund Zimbabwean economy, in particular its battered stock exchange, is showing signs of life. And though Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s foreign trip – where he met with US and European heads of states, lobbying them for aid – was only a limited success, there are indications that now might be the time to invest.

Changes in the political landscape, the reopening of the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE) in February and, in particular, the dollarisation of the economy have moved a number of Zimbabwean companies from survival and into growth mode. Investor interest has sharpened.

“In mid-1997, the ZSE had a market capitalization of a little over US$9bn,” says Peter Townshend, co-manager of Coronation Fund Managers’ Africa Frontier Fund. “When the market was shut down in November last year, it had fallen to $1bn. It opened again on February 25 this year [post-dollarisation] and the market capitalization has since quadrupled to $4bn.”

Pale Green Shots

Dollarisation of the economy put an end to hyperinflation, unrealistic exchange rates, artificial interest rates and other distortions – such as price controls – in the market.

“At least now companies are able to sell their goods at realistic prices and earn some profits,” says AMB Capital analyst Zenzo Lusengo. It also gives local companies stability and transparency and provides investors with a measure of safety, he says. “There are not many markets in the world where there is no currency risk.”

It is by no means risk free: “The coalition government is fragile and there is a lot of uncertainty around the general direction of the politics,” says Lusengo.
For those who got in early, there have been quick wins. Econet (Zimbabwe’s mobile phone operator), for example, had a market cap of $200m. “This doesn’t even buy an operating licence elsewhere in Africa and Econet has infrastructure installed across Zimbabwe and dominates the cellphone market,” says Townshend. Econet now has a market cap of $500m.

Delta Corp was similarly valued and controls over 90% of the brewing and soft drink market in Zimbabwe. Today, Delta is valued at $425m.

However this growth has been off a low base and the value traded on a daily basis remains low at $1m.

Shares are also no longer trading at fire-sale prices.

Whether to invest in Zimbabwe is a difficult decision to make, says Townshend. Economic recovery will not occur overnight.

But, with a complete political transformation and substantial assistance from the West, Zimbabwe could still deliver decent returns.

This is what Imara Capital, the pan-African financial services group, is betting on. The company this week organised Zimbabwe’s first in-country international investor conference since the formation of the inclusive government.

“Dollarisation decimated corporate capital reserves denominated in Zimbabwe currency,” says Imara Capital MD Sean Gammon.

“International investment via the ZSE is vital to the growth and development of the country’s biggest employers.”

“Until recently, international owners had significant constraints on repatriating their Zimbabwe profits and did not consolidate these assets on their balance sheets,” says Imara Holdings CE Mark Tunmer. “This all changes in a dollarised economy.”

According to Imara, with a market cap of roughly $3,8bn, the Zimbabwean exchange is the seventh-largest market in sub-Saharan Africa – in other words it is tiny. But with 80 listed companies it has more depth and diversity than some other regional markets.

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