By ANGUS SHAW
HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) - Zimbabwe has promised to withdraw its soldiers from
diamond fields in the east, an official newspaper reported Sunday - a week
after a rights group alleged the military was committing killings and abuses
in the area.
The move appeared to be an attempt to diffuse criticism over the military's
takeover of the Marange diamond fields and ensure that Zimbabwe's precious
stones won't be tainted with the "blood diamond" label by activists, which
would reduce their value.
The Ministry of Mines denied last month's report by Human Rights Watch that
said troops had killed more than 200 people at the Marange diamond fields
while forcing children to search for diamonds and beating villagers who got
in the way.
Instead, Zimbabwe's coalition government said the military was there to
secure the area, about 150 miles (250 kilometers) east of Harare, where
mining is managed by the state's Mining Development Corp.
The 60,000-hectare (140,000-acre) Marange diamond fields were discovered in
2006 - at the height of Zimbabwe's political, economic and humanitarian
crisis. Villagers rushed to the area and began finding diamonds close to the
The army took over the Marange diamond fields in late October 2008. Before
that, the police were in control and Human Rights Watch said there were less
Officials of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme - the world's
diamond control body - recently visited the fields following allegations
that security chiefs and loyalists of President Robert Mugabe were either
perpetrating or tolerating rights abuses and illegal diamond exports.
"There cannot be effective security where diamonds are concerned with the
involvement of the military," the Kimberley delegation said in a report to
the Zimbabwean government, quoted by the state-run Sunday Mail.
The Kimberley report also noted illegal digging and processing of diamonds
in Marange and called for stricter controls to stop diamond smuggling across
the porous eastern border with Mozambique.
Mines Minister Obert Mpofu on Saturday told Kimberley inspectors that the
troops would be withdrawn from the diamond fields and the country would meet
international mining standards, the Sunday Mail reported.
"We are going to work toward getting in line with the standards proposed,"
the paper quoted Mpofu as saying during the meeting.
Mpofu reportedly also told the Kimberley delegation that the coalition
government, formed between Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai in
February, planned to relocate villagers away from the diamond fields and
find investors to help provide security.
Deputy Mines Minister Murisi Zwizwai - a member of Tsvangirai's former
opposition party - said the coalition government had "agreed to remove the
soldiers, but it will be done in phases while proper security settings would
be put in place," the Sunday Mail reported.
It is estimated the diamonds could be worth $200 million a month to the
cash-strapped southern African nation, which is desperately trying to raise
international aid to kickstart the economy. But the unity government has
also been under foreign pressure to show signs of reform.
Withdrawing troops from the diamond fields would deflect further negative
publicity, show the government's commitment to meeting international
obligations and ensure greater revenue from the diamonds that are sold.
On June 26, the New York-based Human Rights Watch cited accounts from more
than 100 witnesses, miners, police officers, soldiers and children alleging
human rights abuses by troops.
It said its researchers had gathered evidence of mass graves and accounts of
an incident last year when military helicopters fired on miners, while armed
soldiers on the ground chased villagers away.
It said many victims were unwilling to come forward out of fear of the
Human Rights Watch also alleged that some of the income from the diamond
fields went to officials of Mugabe's ZANU-PF party, long accused of
trampling on human rights and democracy in Zimbabwe.
From The Sunday Independent (SA), 5 July
Long before Human Rights Watch shone a light on the murky side of Zimbabwe's
diamond trade, Partnership African Canada (PAC) produced a footprint of
fraud in the country's diamond exports. Matching production over a four-year
period against official export figures, the Canadian NGO claimed in a March
report that either Zimbabwe was sitting on a stockpile of 1.33 million
carats or the diamonds had been laundered into the international system to
prop up the kleptocratic regime. Like Human Rights Watch, PAC painted a
picture of forced labour, loss of life and human rights abuses on the
military- controlled mines. Yet, because the area is not classified as a
conflict zone, the Zimbabwean authorities cannot be held accountable by the
Kimberley Process (KP), the industry's so-called watchdog. "We have made the
case that when governments take control of diamond fields and then force
miners to work as slaves to prop up an anti-democratic regime, these are
also blood diamonds," or gems that are mined in conflict zones or used to
fund rebel groups, PAC researcher Shawn Blore explains. "That's the case in
Zimbabwe and which we would have liked the KP to take a strong stand on.
That's what a serious regulatory agency would do." Instead, it took half a
year of deliberations and a second report on the matter before the KP
decided to act and agree to send in an investigative team.
Meanwhile, the diamond trade continues unabated. This is not the first time
a flaw in the KP has come to light. Not quite a watchdog, and not a
regulatory body either, comprised as it is of governments of
diamond-producing countries, members of industry and civil society, it begs
the question why the KP was established at all. It was largely in response
to the rapid rise of blood diamonds, an African phenomenon of the 1990s,
Blore explains. Angola was one of the first countries to look to the gems as
a means to fund their conflict when the end of the Cold War killed their
endless supply of weapons. Jonas Savimbi's Unita, long supported by the
United States to fight the then Soviet-backed MPLA, immediately took over
the country's diamond fields to help fuel the feud. Whether Sierra Leone's
rebel leader Foday Sankoh was watching Savimbi's moves or Charles Taylor was
watching out for him from Liberia is unclear, but it was around that time
that the war broke out in the West African country for control of their own
diamond fields, the tenth largest producer in the world. It was the precious
stones that also exacerbated the civil war in the Democratic Republic of
Congo, and according to PAC "provided funds for rebel armies and a financial
incentive for foreign governments such as Rwanda and Zimbabwe to prolong
There were many other countries that also fell prey to the curse of the
conflict stones to the extent that in the 1990s African blood diamonds
accounted for 15% to 20% of global production. "It all coincided with the
dot.com boom in the US," the world's largest consumer of diamonds, Blore
explains, and demand for the precious stones was never so high and
consequently there were never so many folk walking the world with so much
blood on their hands and adorning their necks. The illicit stones would be
ferried to the nearest border and before long would glisten on the world's
main markets alongside legally obtained diamonds. Many years would pass
before the international community began to address the malaise and in 2003
the KP was finally started, to curb the flow of war diamonds. In many
respects, the successes of the KP have not gone unnoticed. According to the
Diamond Council, blood diamonds now account for only 1% of the global trade.
According to Blore, Congo Brazzaville was forced to shut down its operations
when it was discovered that exports outweighed local production by a long
shot, with the balance believed to be coming from the DRC. Sierra Leone and
Liberia now have rigorous systems in place to oversee diamond exports, "and
we would hope we will not see a war of pillage there again". However, many
NGOs are now beginning to realise that the process doesn't go far enough.
They argue that the focus of the body's work is too narrowly fixed on
conflict diamonds, while millions of carats are still extracted in inhumane
conditions, as the Zimbabwe case showed. Blore also cites the case of
Angola - the world's sixth-largest producer - where the official structure
is ridden with problems. Two-thirds of the country's diamonds are extracted
by companies, in each of which the government holds a golden stake. The
remaining third is extracted by artisanal diggers whose work is officially
classed as illegal in Angola, yet who sell their stones to a
government-sanctioned buying agency. Because it is below the radar, prices
are also below the going rate.
"I would regard that as being a misappropriation of state resources," Blore
argues, "but the Angolan government doesn't see it that way." And neither
does the KP, it would seem. "Lebanon is exporting more diamonds than it
imports, which we all find a little suspicious," while "Guinea has had this
500 percent increase in diamond exports in the past few years", Blore
continues. The global recession is not helping matters, as it has impacted
heavily on demand and forced prices downward and many official producers to
scale back until the prices return, something which is drawing the casual
buyers and smugglers back into business. Itinerant buyers are now busy
roaming this continent buying up hot diamonds, rather than blood diamonds,
for hard cash and at very reduced prices. Africa accounts for 65 percent of
the $12 billion (R93 billion) rough diamond trade, according to the Rapaport
Group. Of the top 10 producers, seven are African. The abundance of the
stones here has attracted hordes of artisanal diggers into the ring to try
and make a living. Because it is so unregulated, however, they more often
than not sell themselves short, allowing a concentration of the wealth to
build up at the end of the supply chain, far away from the source.
A digger who happens upon a two-and-a-half carat diamond can expect to sell
it on to a causal buyer for about $500 on a good day. When times are tough,
he is likely to sell it for much, much less. A typical stone only yields 40
percent of its weight after polishing, reducing the chunk to a one carat
piece by the time it reaches the high street store and where it will sell
for around $10 000, according to Blore. From when it leaves the digger to
when it is placed in that shop window, the diamond will change hands several
times. The illegal buyer will smuggle it out of the continent and on to a
polishing destination, where the diamond is instantly classed as legal,
regardless of its source. This highlights another flaw in the KP chain. The
KP certification of conflict-free diamonds only controls export as far as a
country's borders. Diamonds are notoriously easy to smuggle and a fistful of
the stones, which are not easily detected and which can be stowed away
neatly in a piece of carry-on luggage, could fetch half a million dollars
once they reach the polishing houses. It is odd, therefore, that the KP does
not concern itself with smuggling, considering how much is surely lost in
potential earnings. It is also strange that the KP has allowed these cracks
to rip the whole system apart? Or is it that the KP is more of a PR exercise
and less of a body bent on putting right a very corrupt industry?
From The Cape Argus, 5 July
Donors and potential investors are trying to avoid channelling their money
through the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, the architect of hyperinflation and
politically motivated exchange rates. A multi-donor trust fund is being set
up according to World Bank procedures and will be the future route for most
cash provided by foreign donors. This will be for future humanitarian aid
and funds raised to oil the creaking transitional period. The fund will
allow donors to circumvent the tainted central bank. Prime Minister Morgan
Tsvangirai told a press conference about the fund on Tuesday on his return
from a three-week trip to the US and Europe, where he raised considerable
political goodwill and support for Zimbabwe, but little hard cash. A
financial source, who did not want to be named, said the R300 million given
to Zimbabwe by South Africa in January had "disappeared". The source said no
one was sure how the money had been spent. An International Monetary Fund
technical team investigating Zimbabwe's revenue collection and tax regimen
last month, found that while Zimbabwe's monthly revenue had leapt from about
R160m in February to about R640m, the central bank had failed basic
"transparency" tests, and was still involved in "quasi-fiscal" activities.
Central bank governor Gideon Gono had practically taken over the economy in
the past two years, bypassing the finance ministry. The "quasi-fiscal"
activities included printing massive amounts of money, fuelling
hyperinflation, and skewing exchange rates to benefit President Robert
Mugabe and his cronies. This fuelled the savage contraction of productive
sectors. The central bank has also failed to produce an audit for the past
five years. Gono handed out billions of rands for many Zanu PF-aligned
businesses and individuals in unsecured loans, which were then wiped out by
inflation and for which there are few records. "There is no way any serious
investor or any donor, whether giving money for reconstruction, transitional
or humanitarian aid, will go near the central bank," said an informed source
last week. Economist John Robertson said the central bank could not be
trusted. As the inclusive government emerged in February, Gono finally
admitted the bank had helped itself to many companies' export earnings and
even dipped into funds belonging to NGOs. "It has rendered itself
irrelevant," Robertson said. A political source in Harare said last week:
"Gono still has access to export money, and other undetected revenue
streams, but he is being a bit more circumspect these days, and keeping a
lower profile, as (Finance Minister Tendai) Biti is watching him." There was
no one available at the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe last week to comment on the
plans by donors to marginalise it.
by Own Correspondent Monday 06 July 2009
HARARE - Mobile airtime services providers NetOne and Zellco have switched
off more than 1 000 contract lines that had been leased to Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe employees as a result of failure to settle bills.
The failure to settle bills to the state-run NetOne and Zellco is a result
of the adoption of multiple foreign currencies by the government which has
seen the central bank abandoning all money printing activities, resulting in
the Zimbabwe dollar being shelved until next year.
Central bank officials said first to be affected were employees that were
using Zellco contract lines.
"People who were first affected were the ones that use lines from Zellco as
our bills have not been paid for some time," an official said.
"Initially we thought this was only affecting middle and junior managers but
to our surprise most lines belonging even to divisional chiefs have also
been disconnected. NetOne started disconnecting some of the lines at the
start of this month and there seems to be no solution in sight."
As a result of failure to settle the bills most central bank employees have
acquired lines from Econet and Telecel.
"What can we do?" a senior manager whose line was also disconnected said.
"We just have to adjust to the fact that our lines were switched off and
look for other service providers. First they tried to take our cars and now
we are being told nobody can resign."
Central bank spokesman Kumbirai Nhongo was continuously said not to be in
the office whilst his mobile phone was not reachable.
Although NetOne has put a facility of 30 percent discount for all payments
done on time, the central bank has failed to capitalise on this offer.
"Although the bank would have wanted to pay these bills, there is no money
everybody is being paid US$100 every month." - ZimOnline
by Own Correspondent Monday 06 July 2009
HARARE - President Robert Mugabe will be able to serve another two terms -
and probably die in office to avoid prosecution for rights abuses - if his
ZANU PF party gets its way in sneaking the disputed Kariba draft
constitution, analysts have warned.
Mugabe and his party are campaigning for the adoption of the constitution
drafted by negotiators from ZANU PF and the two MDC formations on Lake
Kariba in September 2007.
According to the Kariba draft, the president would be limited to two
five-year terms but the proposed supreme law is silent on the tenure already
served by Mugabe who has led Zimbabwe since the southern African country's
independence from Britain in 1980.
The tenure of the incumbent as president prior to the proposed new
constitution would not be counted.
"So Mr Mugabe will be eligible to continue in office for another 10 years,"
observed law group Veritas.
Constitutional lawyer and chairman National Constitutional Assembly (NCA)
chairman Lovemore Madhuku said the Kariba draft was a mere extension of the
current constitution and would further entrench Mugabe's stranglehold on
"There are no major differences between what is proposed in the so-called
Kariba draft and what the current constitution says. In fact, it will do
nothing to limit his powers and ensure fairness in the laws of the country,"
said the NCA boss.
University of Zimbabwe political scientist John Makumbe said Mugabe was
unlikely to call for fresh elections in 2011 as agreed in a power-sharing
agreement with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai but would run the full
five-year term to 2013, after which he would stand for re-election for an
additional two terms.
Under the September 2008 global political agreement between ZANU PF, the MDC
and a breakaway MDC faction led by Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara,
Zimbabwe is supposed to hold new elections in early 2011 after the passing
of the new constitution.
"He is not planning on having fresh elections after the new constitution is
in place. He will most probably shelve plans for new elections so that he
serves his current term which runs until 2013, after which he will start
afresh by applying the new constitution," Makumbe said.
While ZANU PF secretary for administration and a close Mugabe confidante,
Didymus Mutasa, would not say whether Mugabe intended hanging onto power, he
insisted there was nothing that could stop the veteran leader if he wanted
to run for president one more time.
Mutasa said: "President Mugabe has not committed any crime, if he did why
can't he be taken to court now. There is nothing wrong for him to continue
The ZANU PF official also insisted that the two MDC formations had agreed
during power-sharing negotiations to have the Kariba draft as the foundation
of a new constitution for Zimbabwe.
"Those who are opposed to the Kariba draft are lost, the MDC signed all the
pages of the GPA including the ones talking about the Kariba draft, if they
now want to change then they are not supposed to be in power," he said.
But MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa insisted the party had not agreed to impose
the Kariba draft on Zimbabweans.
Chamisa said: "Let the people write their own constitution, certain
politicians would literally want to hold the process to ransom but it should
be extricated from their jaws by a people driven process."
Analysts said events of the past three weeks may have hardened ZANU PF's
resolve to push through the Kariba draft which supports their continued
clinging to powers.
The recent Western tour by Tsvangirai has alerted Mugabe and his ZANU PF
sidekicks of the lurking danger of prosecution for human rights abuses once
they are out of power.
Western countries led by the United States and Britain have demanded
far-reaching political reforms in Harare before releasing economic aid.
Analysts say Mugabe is aware that his political survival is at risk once he
agrees to a new democratic constitution that would drastically clip his
powers. -- ZimOnline
July 5, 2009
By Our Correspondent
MARONDERA - Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai on Sunday dismissed claims he
was assigned by President Robert Mugabe to undertake his recent
international tour in order to canvass for international aid or to negotiate
for the removal of any sanctions on Zimbabwe.
Tsvangirai said he had instead undertaken the eight nation trip to redefine
Zimbabwe's foreign policy, following a decade of isolation caused by Mugabe's
policies of confrontation.
"I did not go to look for money but to build relations which were lost in
the last 10 years," said Tsvangirai of his tour of the United States, the
Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Sweden, Norway the United Kingdom and France.
"You can't just go and say, 'Give me money' without first building
Tsvangirai was addressing hundreds of his party supporters who braved the
chilly weather to attend the MDC party's 10th anniversary celebrations held
at Rudhaka Stadium in Marondera on Sunday afternoon.
Tsvangirai said he found it disconcerting that the state media was reporting
that he had been sent Mugabe to beg for money in Europe.
"We wanted to redefine the foreign policy of this country, and we achieved
that successfully," he said. "I was not sent by Mugabe."
He drew thunderous applause when he said: "I, as the Prime Minister, have to
make sure that what we decide as cabinet is implemented."
Tsvangirai said the message from the Western countries whose money the
government required to run government business was very clear.
The Western leaders were not interested in rhetoric but want to see real
change on the ground before they can commit themselves to giving the country
any financial assistance, he said.
"The leaders of the countries I visited told me that they are not interested
in what we say but what we do," the MDC leader said. "It's up to us to make
reforms and get help."
According to the Ministry of Finance, Zimbabwe requires a total US$ 8,5
billion to fund crucial reforms.
Western donors, key to the revival of the battered economy, have demanded
substantial democratic change before they can provide aid to Zimbabwe.
During his trip to Europe and the United States, Tsvangirai managed to raise
up to US$500 million but the bulk of the money will be channelled through
Tsvangirai said since there was a unity government between his party, the
MDC faction led by Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara and President
Mugabe's Zanu-PF, it was important for the leaders to speak with one voice.
"There is confusion but we should speak with one voice," he said. "We cannot
have discord; we have to communicate a uniform message."
He admitted, without elaborating, that there were still a lot of problems
facing the all-inclusive government.
"There are issues that we are still facing but these can be solved
politically," said Tsvangirai. "Conditions of the GPA must be fulfilled in
full and we will do that.
"Eighty percent of the GPA is about giving Zimbabweans the necessary
Tsvangirai blamed the state media for publishing falsehoods about his trip.
"There are some who are still resisting this change but only the will of the
people will prevail not even that of individuals or an army," he said.
"There is no greater enemy of Zimbabwe other than those who don't want the
will of the people to prevail.
"The MDC has never had any media. And we have been scolded over the past 10
years. The media might lie but the people know the truth.
"If we are in a government together, then why should we separate and compare
who is doing the best? If we are in a national soccer team can you tell
which team is the better between Dynamos and Highlanders?
"We want change in the media."
Monday, July 06, 2009
PRESIDENT Mugabe has described US Assistant Secretary of State for African
Affairs Johnnie Carson as an idiotic little fellow for trying to lecture
Zimbabwe on how to conduct affairs of State.
The President, who met Carson on the sidelines of the just-ended African
Union Summit in Sirte, Libya, at the request of the US diplomat, said he had
been angered by Carson's condescending attitude.
Responding to a question on whether anything had come out of the meeting,
the first such interaction between the President and a US government
official in years, President Mugabe said he hoped Carson was speaking in his
individual capacity and not for US President Barack Obama.
''No, you wouldn't speak to an idiot of that nature. I was very angry with
him, and he thinks he could dictate to us what to do and what not to do in
the inclusive Government.
''We have the whole of Sadc working with us, and you have the likes of
little fellows like Carson, you see, wanting to say: 'You do this, you do
''Who is he?
''I hope he was not speaking for Obama. I told him he was a shame, a great
shame, being an African-American, an Afro-American for that matter.''
Sources who attended the meeting said Carson, who succeeded the abrasive
Jendayi Frazer of the George W. Bush era, was briefed on the process leading
to the inclusive Government, the current state of the coalition Government
and working relations between the three parties to the inclusive Government.
The meeting came in the wake of recent attempts by the US and its
allies to trash the inclusive Government by claiming that it was failing to
meet set ''benchmarks'' even though all the parties to the inclusive
Government have given the Government a clean bill of health.
Zanu-PF, MDC-T and MDC leaders have pledged their commitment to resolving
any problems arising from the implementation of the Global Political
Agreement among themselves, saying there was no need to refer issues to the
guarantor of the GPA, Sadc.
During Prime Minister Tsvangirai's recent tour of Western capitals, where he
also met Carson, among other US officials, the ''benchmarks'' were cited as
an excuse to maintain the illegal sanctions regime on Zimbabwe and to deny
the country development support.
Carson, a career African-American diplomat, served as US ambassador to
Zimbabwe from 1995 to 1997, and ended his tenure just before the bilateral
dispute with Britain flared up.
Published: 2009/07/06 06:56:06 AM
ZIMBABWEAN Finance Minister Tendai Biti shocked the markets on Friday when
he announced that Zimbabwe would re- evaluate all mining contracts and
introduce a "use it or lose it" policy for its mining industry under a
The vetting of mining contracts by Zimbabwe's unity government of President
Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai is surprising, coming at
a time when Harare is wooing investors to help repair a battered economy.
However, Biti was at pains to explain that the new approach would help
revive the country's battered economy, hit by political turmoil and the
introduction of laws limiting foreign ownership of businesses.
Mining has become the leading source of foreign exchange, with gold
accounting for a third of exports, but political turmoil, lack of energy and
unfavourable regulatory rules have led to several mines closing.
The unity government has prioritised policy stability to encourage
international investors to unlock funds to revive business.
Biti also denied newspaper reports on Friday that Zimbabwe - battling to
raise $10bn it says is required to rescue the economy - will receive $5bn in
loans from China in return for platinum concessions.
He also denied a claim by Tsvangirai that Zimbabwe had won a $950m credit
line from China. "There's no foundation at all in reports that we have
received $950m from China."
Biti said Zimbabwe was seeking an $80m credit facility from the Development
Bank of Southern Africa to revamp its Hwange thermal power station and
increase coal output at a nearby mine that supplies coal to the plant.
Giving reasons for amending mining laws, Biti said Zimbabwe would be
complying with the new standards for extractive industries the World Bank
was insisting on.
The law would introduce the concept of "use it or lose it" for mining
"It will also introduce the re-evaluation of every mining contract that has
been signed in Zimbabwe."
Not all experts see the law negatively. Absa gold trader Byron Woods said
yesterday the policy would give miners "an opportunity to grow and invest in
their own mines without mediators. They no longer have to sell to the
central bank, which is a good thing. And now miners can do what they have to
do - mine."
Woods said doing away with stringent laws that had crippled the industry
over the years would mean that in common with other countries, Zimbabwean
miners would now be expected to report to the central bank on their trading
Big mining groups with interests in Zimbabwe include Impala Platinum
Holdings ( Implats ), Anglo Platinum ( Angloplat ) and Rio Tinto.
Implats and Angloplat officials said they were not aware of Zimbabwe's plan
to recheck mining contracts, and would wait for more details before
"We are not aware of that, and that's all we are going to say," said Implats
spokesman Rob Gilmour.
July 6, 2009
By SLINDILE KHANYILE
At least two big, South African, health-related firms are considering new
investments or the increase of existing ones in Zimbabwe.
Netcare is assessing possible partnerships in Zimbabwe, according to Jerry
Vilakazi, the chief executive of Business Unity SA (Busa) and the
non-executive chairman at Netcare.
Another firm that has confirmed its interest in investing more in Zimbabwe
is Aspen Pharmacare. Stavros Nicolaou, a senior executive at the
pharmaceutical group, said that while the company had not yet increased its
export volumes, it was in discussions with potential distributors.
Nicolaou said the current distributors had not been consistent buyers, but a
decision had not been taken on whether to continue with them as well as the
Vilakazi, together with Patrice Motsepe, led the business delegation to
Zimbabwe two months ago to start looking for investment opportunities in
Vilakazi said the other firms that were keen to move to Zimbabwe were in the
financial sector, but he would not identify them.
He said details would be announced during the investment conference to be
held soon in Johannesburg.
"I am aware of tangible projects that are going to take place there," said
Vilakazi. "The issue of capital remains a critical one and there are
discussions with institutions in the financial sector.
"We would not want South African companies to be seen as just moving into
Zimbabwe; we are looking at partnering with the inclusive government."
Massmart, another company that had travelled to Zimbabwe, referred queries
Vilakazi said Busa was also working with Nir, a Swedish private sector
organisation, to build capacity with the private sector in Zimbabwe.
"The private sector is a vital voice in Zimbabwe to ensure that things that
are important to attract investment are in place. There are individual
companies who are flying in and out of Zimbabwe to assist," said Vilakazi.
After the April trip, it was agreed that an investment protection deal would
be signed, but this had been delayed due to administrative reasons. Vilakazi
stressed that the principle had not changed.
"Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies met (Zimbabwe Finance Minister)
Tendai Biti, who confirmed that they were working towards finalising the
investment protection agreement. This agreement is very vital in this
process," said Vilakazi.
The agreement will be an undertaking from the Zimbabwe government that the
rules that business will have to comply with will not change.
Meanwhile, Imara, the Pan-African financial services group, organised an
international investment conference in Zimbabwe last week that attracted 40
international fund managers to Harare and presentations from 14 of the
country's largest listed companies.
According to a statement by Imara, the conference was opened by Biti, who
gave in-depth assessments to visiting analysts.
"This level of detail, the openness and the obvious intention to create a
more investor friendly environment were just what was needed to kick-start
real engagement with new investors," said Sean Gammon, the managing director
at Imara Capital Zimbabwe.
July 6, 2009
Journalist Violet Gonda of SW Radio Africa’s Hot Seat programme interviews Michael Peter Hitschmann soon after his release from jail on Thursday, July 2, 2009).
Broadcast: July 3, 2009
Violet Gonda: My guest on the programme Hot Seat is Michael Peter Hitschmann who was released from jail on Thursday. The former police constable was initially arrested for allegedly plotting to assassinate President Robert Mugabe at his birthday celebration in Manicaland in 2006. He served a total of 40 months for possessing dangerous firearms without a licence. I spoke with the firearms dealer on the day he was released and first asked him how he was feeling.
Michael Hitschmann: I’m fine, very happy to be out as you can imagine.
Gonda: Can you tell us the events that led to your arrest in 2006?
Hitschmann: Yes, I was arrested on 6th March 2006 following a tip off that was given to the intelligence agencies by an army major called Major Phiri, Major Israel Phiri. Major Israel Phiri alleged that I was the commander, or one of the deputy commanders of the Zimbabwe Freedom Movement, a military organisation operating from within the armed forces of Zimbabwe and aiming to topple Mugabe.
Gonda: And did you have anything to do with this Zimbabwe Freedom Movement?
Hitschmann: I’m not aware that the movement exists, those were the allegations that were brought against me and in the trial they failed to prove that (a) the Movement exists, (b) that I was a part of that Movement or (c) that I had ever planned or plotted anything to do with either the demise of the President or any other member of his party.
Gonda: And you had spent about a year on remand and the assassination charges were dropped but you went on to serve two years in jail for possessing arms without a licence.
Hitschmann: No, what happened is I spent 16 months on remand, a year and four months. I was denied bail I think at least five or six times with a claim that I was a danger to national security – based on the original charge which was the second most serious charge that can be brought to anyone in this country. The first is treason as the one that was brought against Morgan Tsvangirai and Tendai Biti. At the time, when these charges were brought, the only sentence that was available was a life sentence in prison. By the time we reached July 2006, there had been an amendment to that law which allowed for any lesser sentence for a life sentence. In any case I spent 16 months in remand before the trial even kicked off.
Then the trial kicked off, the State knew from the onset they had no basis for the trial so they played dirty tricks from the beginning by first of all delaying the trial. So I ended up waiting another, I think it was about eight or nine months before we completed the trial in July 2007. The original charge which was the intention to commit acts of terrorism, banditry etc totally flopped and I was acquitted on that one and I was convicted under the Public Order and Security Act for possession, possession of dangerous weapons. At the time, you’ll probably remember, I was a registered firearms dealer and from the beginning I always admitted having in my possession certain arms of war for which I should have had special authority from the Minister, and that’s what they convicted me on.
But that charge had the option of a fine, I think it was 22 million dollars at the time. I was never given that option and instead I was given a four year sentence, one year was suspended either by the courts and then I went to prison for a three year spell. On good behaviour they removed one year so I actually served two years in jail. So totally I’ve been 40 months in prison between the conviction and the remand.
Gonda: You were actually appealing against the conviction and sentence in the Supreme Court, is this the reason why you’ve been released now?
Hitschmann: If you can believe the system of justice in this country, you’ll now be aware that my appeal has never been heard. The last time we went the legal route was in December 2008 when my lawyers applied for bail pending appeal because the previous application for bail pending appeal had been denied by Justice Chitakunye citing there would be time, ample time for my appeal to be heard. That was in September 2007. December 2008, the appeal still hadn’t been heard and we went back to the judge and said ‘listen our client is left with a little more than 6 months to serve and the appeal hasn’t been heard, we’re requesting bail pending appeal.’ His answer was there was yet time for the appeal to be heard. Today is the 2nd of July, two years after the conviction and my appeal still hasn’t been heard.
Gonda: Now let’s go back a bit and talk a bit more about the firearms. You said you are a registered firearms dealer but you were still charged with possessing arms without a licence and the police said that they found an arms cache at your house which included AK47 rifles, four FN rifles, 19 pistols and revolvers, 11 shotguns and an assortment of other ammunition. Why did you have such weapons?
Hitschmann: First of all, as a registered firearms dealer, most of the firearms that were recovered here at my premises were in gun safes, there was never any question of an arms cache. If you look at the word cache – it comes from the word cachet in French which is hidden. An arms cache implies something that is hidden, either hidden underground or hidden in some other manner.
The weaponry that was taken from my house was not hidden. All the registered firearms which had licences and for which I had answered to the police on the three monthly basis as per the normal routine for a firearms dealer, those firearms I told them they were all in order and shouldn’t have left these premises in the first place since they were here legally. That covers the pistols, the shotguns, hunting rifles and a variety of other rifles.
The ones that were not covered were six firearms and they were one FN not four as they said, there was one AK, there were some Uzi sub-machine guns and another H&K sub-machine gun. And over the years that I’ve been operating as a firearms dealer, since these farm invasions started, I ended up being a conduit to the police including for arms of war. Because what was happening is as these farmers were leaving their farms under pressure, some of them were discovering firearms that were not even theirs, they may have been from relatives who were deceased, who were alive during the so-called Rhodesian war and they ended up finding firearms hidden under clothes or whatever and didn’t know what to do with them.
The police know that I have been a conduit for those firearms, in fact doing the duty of the State in handing those firearms back to the police. But when they came to my house and conducted the search, they refused for my lawyers to be present and removed all our papers from here and in that process they conveniently made some of the issue vouchers that pertain to handing in of weapons to the police armoury, they made them disappear.
So by the time we were ready to submit our defence, we were left with only two issue vouchers, one for 40 weapons from July 2005 and I think another for four weapons, but they made sure that all the issue vouchers for arms of war that I had handed in, they had made disappear because they knew that would strengthen my case even more – because while it’s correct that you have to have a special permit above and beyond that of a firearms dealer in order to handle arms of war, nevertheless I was doing a duty that the State was failing to do because the Central Firearms Registry is in chaos. So as a result I was actually doing a job that they were supposed to do.
Gonda: So you were actually collecting these arms of war or these weapons and you were handing them over to the police – some of these weapons you were getting from the commercial farmers who were leaving the country.
Hitschmann: Yes, you see I can give you a scenario. Let’s say you are the daughter of a guy who was alive during that particular war and he’s late now and you happen to be on that commercial farm with your husband and the kids etc. You are told to vacate the farm within 24 hours. You end up sticking all the belongings that you can find in the house, including the trunk, trunks or other property from your late father which you never tampered with because you didn’t want to deal with that issue out of grief or whatever. You throw it onto the truck, you rush into town to escape, including not only from the farm invaders but even from the police who are forcing you to get off your premises.
Once you’re in town, you now have to downsize as you have too much stuff so you start selecting what you want to get rid of and what you don’t want to get rid of. Lo and behold, you open the trunk which you thought had clothes in it, and at the bottom of it there’s an AK47 with four magazines. What are you going to do with it? Are you going to go to the police station? Not likely because you know what the police are like because you’ve dealt with them on the farm invasion.
So the next thing that happens, is through the grapevine since I was the only dealer around here and as an ex-police officer as the commander of border patrol, I had a good connection with police officers here, so what would happen is these people would give me the firearms and I would bring them to the armoury myself. No questions asked, they would be handed in and secured. That way the weapons would be correctly disposed of so I acted as a conduit for these firearms to get to where they were supposed to go.
Gonda: How did that conduit arrangement come about? Were you actually sent by the police to collect the firearms from the farmers?
Hitschmann: No. What happened is the people were forced to leave the farms in a very short period of time. If you recall, some of them were only given a matter of hours to leave the farm or days or whatever but whatever the period of time that was given it was not a period of time that was conducive to doing a careful check of everything that was being moved. So the farmers generally would just pile everything onto a seven ton truck and just ship it into town, the nearest town being here in Mutare. Then once they were in town, as I said, they usually had to downsize because a farmhouse would be big compared to these town houses.
So in that process, especially the younger people they would have trunks and other belongings from people from way back that they hadn’t actually touched, they just forgot them and in going through those belongings, wanting to dispose of them or whatever, on more than one occasion, firearms were discovered that they didn’t even know existed and assumed that uncle so-and-so had had them during the Rhodesian war but uncle or grandpa or whoever was long dead.
The firearms did not come with me from the farms, they came with the actual people who were abandoning the farm, they come into town, they discover that they have got arms of war and they don’t know what to do with them. I was the registered firearms dealer here and people know me because it is a small community, also because I was in law enforcement so they come to me and say right, we’ve got this, what do we do with it? So the conduit was that I would take those firearms, hold them and in due course, I would move them to the police provincial armoury at Main Camp here in Mutare. Upon arrival at the armoury, I knew all the officers because we’d served together, I’d been 15 years in the force so everyone knew me. So I would say these are firearms that have come from this particular area whatever, they didn’t care about where they had come from, all they wanted to know is that they were safe. In other words, they were unlicensed firearms, firearms of war that needed to be safe, they needed to be in their armoury and subsequently moved to national armoury in Harare.
When I handed those firearms over I would get a police issue voucher which is like a receipt which would give you the serial number or any relevant information. Those issue vouchers were among papers, a lot of papers that were removed from my office here and when my lawyers went to prepare the defence looking for the relevant papers to prove the existence of a conduit where arms of war had passed through me to the police, those papers were conveniently missing. The hard copies will still be on the issue voucher books of the police but chances of getting those I think are pretty slim especially with these guys, the way they handled the case.
Gonda: Right, you said that some of the farmers who came to you had arms of war like sub-machine guns and AK47 with magazines, so does this suggest that there may be more of these arms of war on the farms?
Hitschmann: Well, at the moment, most of the farms have been invaded so I shudder to think in the rest of the country what happened to firearms that may have been left behind. Because the thing is, it’s not unusual in countries, especially Third World countries where there has been a form of struggle or civil war and it’s quite common to have problems with these types of weapons hanging around. If you look at Mozambique for example, today it’s a disaster because on top of it they had absolutely no order or law and order or control of firearms during the Machel regime. So I mean weapons are all over the place, no-one has a clue where they are, who had them and who’s responsible for them.
Gonda: I was going to ask that after the war, since you are a firearms dealer and you are also, I don’t know were you also a soldier in the war?
Hitschmann: No, I was not a soldier in the war.
Gonda: OK, but I was going to ask that after the war was there a provision perhaps where people had to go and hand in their firearms?
Hitschmann: Yes. Yes there was. There were various provisions. For the guerrillas there were the assembly points and for the Rhodesian forces and civilians and whatever, there were other systems that were put in place but you have to remember that in the context of these struggles what often happened is both parties don’t hand in everything.
Gonda: So the firearms that you were receiving, were they disabled?
Hitschmann: No, they were not.
Gonda: Can you imagine if people were able to get hold of those things?
Hitschmann: Well if you look at the pattern of violence, particularly last year before the June re-run there were many reports from around the country of armed gangs moving around, I think you remember that. Right, so we don’t know who armed those people. Were they armed from official armouries or were they using firearms that perhaps might have come from somewhere else? We don’t know. The key issue when it comes to any type of firearms, specifically firearms and never mind whether they be arms of war or otherwise, is there has to be strict control.
And unfortunately, as a reflection of the breakdown in other systems in this country, Central Firearms Registry for some time now has not been functioning correctly. So the Central Firearms Registry was the controlling body that had a system of records on every legal owner of a firearm in the country and that system is not working properly. It hasn’t been working properly for some time now, although that does not necessarily cover arms that are not legally held that was at least the first step in control.
As far as weapons that may have been stashed either by guerrillas or kept by people whether they be farmers or whatever because if you remember during the post-80s there were some problems along some of the border areas particularly in the east of the country and also in Matabeleland where the new government had actually allowed farmers to be armed for their own protection.
So the issue of firearms or arms of war as we call them, is not something that only emanates from the liberation struggle, it goes even post-independence. It was only in around about 2004, 2005 in compliance with SADC legislature that Zimbabwe decided to withdraw certain types of firearms that had been sold to the members of the public, which included arms of war. But the way that that recall was done was again not very well organised. There were adverts in the press but the follow-up now to actually get those firearms into where they were supposed to go was poor.
You see there’s a standard problem in Zimbabwe which we’ve been living with for some time and it’s just got worse, where there’s a problem of resources, there’s a problem of poor management and there’s a problem of corruption. You mix the three together and whether we‘re talking about firearms or any other area where control is needed, those controls are not being put in place or they’re not being monitored correctly.
Gonda: Right and of course several MDC officials, including Giles Mutsekwa who’s now the co-Home Affairs minister and Roy Bennett the MDC deputy minister of Agriculture designate were arrested in connection with your case and Roy Bennett is still facing charges of attempting to commit acts of banditry and terrorism. First of all, how were you connected to these MDC officials?
Hitschmann: What you need to understand is when I was arrested and others were arrested with me, what the State seemed to be trying to do, the State intelligence agents seemed to be trying to do, was to construct a conspiracy. It’s important to remember that because these people tried to build something which was not there because their agenda was to neutralise as many people as possible from the opposition.
So first of all, when they publicised the so-called arms cache, I understand that it was run on ZTV, they claimed that the arms cache was found in the back of two pickup vehicles near the Holiday Inn in Mutare. Now that’s very strange because they filmed, the intelligence agents filmed the operation here at my house and yet ZBC filmed another so-called operation where I didn’t even appear on this film of vehicles where they claimed the firearms had been recovered.
And when we were tortured at Adams Barracks, because we were taken to a military barracks for torture during the night in 2006, we were told that we had to confess and all of us having to confess to about five or six different scenarios which were dictated to me. So the connection between myself and Giles Mutsekwa and myself and Roy Bennett and whatever exists in the imagination of these people, that’s where it exists.
Gonda: You know there were reports saying that you were tortured to sign prepared confessions and you’ve just mentioned that you were tortured at Adams Barracks, that’s the army barracks. Now can you tell us more about these confessions? What were you told to say?
Hitschmann: Well the events of the night of 6th of March 2006 are not very pleasant and I try not to dwell on them too much, but in the broad sense the confessions that they were looking for was (1) that I personally was planning to assassinate the President on the 2nd of February 2006 which is allegedly why they changed the venue of his birthday celebrations at the last minute from the Showgrounds to Sakubva Stadium. The second supposed confession was that I was intending to assassinate key Zanu-PF officials here (Mutare) and in Matabeleland, white farmers who allegedly supported Zanu-PF, some other white people whose names I didn’t even recognise. The third alleged conspiracy was in some bomb attacks which had taken place in Mutare some time prior to this incident. The fourth one, because (Esau) Mupfumi and (Enoch) Porusingazi at the time were out of favour with the party…
Gonda: These are Zanu-PF officials?
Hitschmann: Yes, the Zanu-PF officials Mupfumi and Porusingazi were out of favour at the time. They were both in the police cells at the same time when I was arrested, but they were arrested under charges of misappropriation and some other issues, I think you might have remembered that case. So the fifth or sixth confession that I was forced to write involved me conspiring with them to somehow unseat Mugabe and others from the older members of the Zanu-PF. So there were a variety of conspiracies which they wanted us to confess to.
Gonda: So how did they force you to do that? Can you describe to us what they did to you?
Hitschmann: Well personally I was kicked in the testicles a few times and then they resorted to using cigarettes on my buttocks but although that was obviously a terrible experience I was lucky enough to pass out quite early when they started with the cigarette burns. But more effective was the fact they had arrested my wife and my son and were detaining them at the police because in the morning, I cooperated with the confessions because as a seasoned police officer I knew that the confessions were totally worthless.
What worried me more was the following morning when they wanted me to sign a Warned and Cautioned Statement at a police station out of town and at that point I wanted a lawyer to be present, that’s when I was threatened again and added to that threat was they said that my wife and my son could join me at Adams Barracks.
So I had no choice but to sign the Warned and Cautioned Statement. But the Warned and Cautioned Statement and the confessions were not presented in court because the court accepted as absolute truth the fact that I had been tortured. Where torture is part of the procedure of the so-called investigations, none of the papers whether they be confessions or Warned and Cautioned Statements can be presented as evidence in court. So at the end of the day it was a pointless exercise for the investigators, so-called investigators.
Gonda: And now I understand that State prosecutors have said that they want you to be their key witness in the trial against Roy Bennett?
Hitschmann: They’ve never interviewed me or discussed that with me, I’ve only heard that through the lawyer that apparently the State claimed in front of the magistrate that I am the State’s witness. So I’m fascinated to hear from them how they would see me being the State witness.
Gonda: So will you testify as a State witness if they approach you?
Hitschmann: I have nothing to testify about. I think the State will have to clarify what it is exactly how they see the connection between my being a witness and Roy Bennett. The thing doesn’t make any sense because they’re charging him with exactly the same charge that they charged me with for which I’ve been acquitted. Roy was nowhere near my premises, he hasn’t been to my premises, he doesn’t have anything at all to do with my business, he was not found in any possession of firearms on the 6th of March 2006 so I fail to see any connection that can be inferred between myself and him in that particular incident.
Gonda: So why do you think he would be targeted in particular, especially when all the other MDC officials who were implicated like Minister Giles Mutsekwa have all been acquitted?
Hitschmann: Well it’s pretty obvious. I think they’re terrified that Roy Bennett will get into his post as the deputy minister of agriculture but obviously the main thing on their mind is to avoid at all costs that he gets into that post.
Gonda: You have said you were unfairly treated, you were tortured but that you are innocent and that you were a seasoned policed officer, so do you hold any grudges against your colleagues in the uniformed forces?
Hitschmann: Well first of all, the team that came down to deal with this issue was from, as far as I’m aware, they were from the Special Forces, military intelligence and central intelligence organisation and they were all from out of Mutare because according to what they testified in court, they claimed that they couldn’t trust Mutare-based people because they may be loyal or otherwise linked to me. So this was a team that was totally out of this area. I don’t know any of those people that were involved in the actual torture. I don’t hold any grudges against my colleagues or others from the uniformed forces because first of all the number of people who tortured me was probably around four or five and that’s hardly a representation of our uniformed forces. Basically you’re talking about a minority that act outside the law. So I don’t hold grudges against my colleagues and others who are within the uniformed forces.
Gonda: In you view, they were acting on whose orders?
Hitschmann: I don’t know that.
Gonda: Right. And what about conditions of prisons – we’ve heard how appalling the situation is in prison but I understand that in interviews that you’ve done today you said that prison conditions are now better especially in the last few months?
Hitschmann: That’s correct. Prison conditions in the last few months have improved but that doesn’t mean to say that they are up to humane standards but compared to the conditions that we had before which were basically death camp situation, there’s been a marked improvement.
Gonda: So are you going to take any action against the State?
Hitschmann: If I sue somebody, I’m suing the State. If I sue the State it means that Zimbabweans end up paying for my suffering. I don’t think that that’s actually relevant. My suffering is something that has happened, it’s taken place, it’s now over, it’s now behind me. I’m not interested in suing a bankrupt State and then end up with every day Zimbabweans have to pay for my damages or whatever out of their taxes. We’ve got better things to do with our money because the country’s broke. So no, I’m not suing.
Gonda: So what’s next for you?
Hitschmann: I don’t know. At the moment I’m unemployed, thanks to this State conviction I can’t work because I used to work in security related field. So with this conviction it’s impossible for me to do so again because all security work falls under the authority of Home Affairs. So I think for the moment I’m happy to be with my family, with my friends, we’re going to relax together, try and catch up on lost time and then I’ll plan my future from there, but I’m here in Zimbabwe, I’m not going anywhere.
Gonda: OK, now that was Michael Hitschmann speaking to us on the day that he was released from Mutare Prison. Thank you very much Michael.
Hitschmann: Thank you Violet, keep well.
Feedback can be sent to email@example.com
July 05 2009 at 01:42PM
Maputo - Zimbabwe's electricity utility owes Mozambique's
hydro-electric power company Hidroelectrica de Cahora Bassa (HCB) at least
US50-million, according to media reports on Sunday.
Mozambique's national news agency AIM quoted Mozambican Energy
minister Salvador Namburete as saying that while its neighbour was failing
to pay its bill, there were no immediate plans to switch power off, as the
supply constituted Mozambique's helping its neighbour recover from its
"The Zimbabwean inclusive government needs our help at the level of
the Southern African Development Community in order to recover from its
economic crisis, and later it can pay its credits."
This was not the first time that Zimbabwe Electrical Supply Authority
(ZESA) failed to pay for power from Cahora Bassa. Last year Mozambique
pulled the plug for 10 days to force ZESA pay an accumulated debt of US10
Namburete told the Maputo-based news agency that in April, Zimbabwe's
minister of energy visited Maputo to negotiate for more time to pay until
the country was "organised".
"Naturally this is a political agreement, but the parties to the
agreement, HCB and ZESA need to sit down and set out specific dates for the
repayment of the credit," said Namburete.
The Cahora Bassa dam's hydro-electric project on the Zambezi River
supplies Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana, South Africa and Malawi. - Sapa
Another baking hot Vigil, this time enlivened by a passing parade of drag queens from the annual Gay Pride march. Despite Mugabe’s close interest in gays, they were more interested in their gorgeous plumage than Zimbabwean human rights abuses.
As always, there were many newcomers to the Vigil and much discussion of the situation back home. Supporters are worried at suggestions that the timescale for new elections may be pushed back. This comes not only from Zanu-PF. The rationale is that the country is not ready and there may be violence etc. The Vigil insists that the timescale envisaged in the GPA be honoured. This provided for a new constitution within 18 months followed by elections.
During his visit to London Morgan Tsvangirai appealed to the diaspora to return home. The Vigil believes there is little prospect of this until an MDC government is in power. We think that the longer it takes to get rid of Mugabe the less likely it is that Zimbabweans will return home in any numbers. The reason is that people are putting down roots in their new countries: children are at school etc.
The Vigil has received a letter from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in response to our request to the Foreign Secretary not to grant visas to Zimbabwe ministers on the EU travel ban list. The letter says the EU allowed exemptions to attend intergovernmental meetings for political dialogue which promotes democracy, human rights and the rule of law in Zimbabwe. The Vigil believes this must include free and fair elections – our one and only demand.
Attendance was a bit down this week but we notice that our partner organisation ROHR was having no less than six meetings today around the UK: Bedford, Wolverhampton, Woking, Bournemouth, Liverpool and Manchester. In the first half of this year 2,040 people came to the Vigil at least once. This approaches the figure for the whole of last year (2,421).
You will be pleased to hear that Sue Toft’s eye operation seems to have been a success though she has been unable to rejoin us as yet. Thanks to her daughter Francesca for standing in for her and also to Caroline who comes all the way from Exeter to help us out. Thanks also to Cleopas Tapambwa, a faithful supporter, who lends a hand everywhere and lends two hands to the drumming.
For latest Vigil pictures check: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/
FOR THE RECORD: 137 signed the register.
FOR YOUR DIARY:
· ROHR Hatfield general meeting. Saturday 11th July from 1.30 – 6 pm. Venue: Lord William Cecil Memorial Hall, 1 French Horn Lane, Hatfield, Herts AL10 8AQ. Present ROHR President, Executiveand a well- known lawyer: Special guests Hatfield & Welwyn MP Mr Grant Shapp and Mr Geoffrey Van Orden Europe MP. A substantive committee to be elected. Contact: Paradzai Mapfumo on 07915926323 / 07932216070, Clarkson Shumbanhete 07958550506, Mary Muradzikwa 07920170620, Rewai Chikungwa 07862246960 or Emilia Muradzikwa 07861712566
· ROHR Coventry general meeting. Saturday 11th July from 3 – 5.30 pm. Venue: Paynes Lane, Coventry CV1 5LJ. Contact: E Nyakudya 07876796129, M Sibanda(Nashe) 07788560068, P Makuwerere 07599401559 or V J Mujeyi 07534034594
· ROHR West Bromwich general meeting. Saturday, 18th July from 1.30 – 5.30 pm. Venue: St Peters Church Hall, Whitehall Road, West Bromwich B70 0HF. ROHR President, Executive and a well known lawyer present, Invited guest Cllr Simon Hackett. Contact Pamela Dunduru 07958386718, Diana Mtendereki 07768682961, Peter Nkomo 07817096594 or P Mapfumo 07915926323 / 07932216070.
· ROHR Hayes and Northolt launch meeting. Saturday 25th July from 1.30 – 5.30 pm. Venue: Brookside Community Centre, Hayes UB4 0PL. ROHR President and a well- known lawyer present. Contact Snodia Chihowa 07852921523, Juliet Musandiriri 07551319522 or P Mapfumo 07915926323 / 07932216070.
· Zimbabwe Vigil Forum. Saturday 25th July at 6.30 pm. Upstairs at the Theodore Bullfrog, John Adam Street, London WC2N 6HL.
· Zimbabwe Association’s Women’s Weekly Drop-in Centre. Fridays 10.30 am – 4 pm. Venue: The Fire Station Community and ICT Centre, 84 Mayton Street, London N7 6QT, Tel: 020 7607 9764. Nearest underground: Finsbury Park. For more information contact the Zimbabwe Association 020 7549 0355 (open Tuesdays and Thursdays).
The Vigil, outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, 429 Strand, London, takes place every Saturday from 14.00 to 18.00 to protest against gross violations of human rights in Zimbabwe. The Vigil which started in October 2002 will continue until internationally-monitored, free and fair elections are held in Zimbabwe. http://www.zimvigil.co.uk.
By PHYLLIS KACHERE
Posted Monday, July 6 2009 at 00:00
With half her body immersed in muddy red water, Esther Nyarambi closely
inspects the contents of her wooden panning dish, locally known as zamba.
Having spent the entire day pounding gold-bearing rock, she hopes her
efforts will be rewarded with even the smallest nugget of gold.
As most other artisanal gold miners in the Nyamahumbe and Chishapa areas of
the gold-rich Shamva district in Zimbabwe's Mashonaland Central province,
Nyarambi carelessly adds a cap of mercury to the zamba to extract the
She knows little of the toxicity of mercury and the huge health risks she
exposes herself to.
With her bare hands, the 26-year-old mixes the contents of the wooden dish
until the fluid mercury wraps itself around tiny particles of gold dust,
making a nugget.
Dr Cleopas Sibanda, an occupational health expert, says mercury destroys a
person's nerve endings and causes mood swings.
"People exposed to it show signs of irritability, mood swings, a nervous
body system and bleeding gums.
"Failure to concentrate has also been reported on those exposed to the
metal," he said. Mercury is a particular threat to pregnant women and their
Desperate to find gold and a way out of poverty, Nyarambi and her fellow
illegal miners are not bothered by potential health risks.
"Mercury is easy and fast to use when extracting gold dust from the ore.
After crushing the stones that hold the gold ore, mercury makes the job
easier and removes all impurities from the gold," explains Nyarambi.
"I have heard it causes ill health if you inhale it, but I don't do that. I
only use it to gather tiny gold specks. I have been using mercury for the
past five years and never had any problems," she adds.
Thousands of poor and unemployed youths and adults have trekked to Shamva
district, which is reported to have rich deposits of alluvial gold, hoping
to strike it rich.
INSIDE ZIMBABWE: BILL CORCORAN revisits a township outside Harare to see what has happened since the cholera epidemic ravaged the country and the opposition joined an inclusive government in February
THE FILTH surrounding the Highfield home where Kezener Katoma and her family lived last September has changed little in the nine months since The Irish Times unexpectedly called.
Raw sewage still bubbles up from the broken drainage system which runs next to her modest two-room house on the corner of 121st street in the Harare township, while across the road mounds of decaying refuse remain piled as high as your knees.
When Zimbabwe’s rival political parties signed the powersharing deal last year – which eventually led to the formation in February of a transitional government – hopes were high that the city’s basic infrastructure and services, which had collapsed through neglect, could be revived.
But the only noticeable changes to the depressing scene encountered nine months ago is the absence of the elderly Katoma and her children, who no longer occupy the house.
The 66-year-old and her young charges have been replaced by another woman who has two snot-nosed kids in tattered clothes, both of whom eye me suspiciously from inside their half-open front door.
Happy Munemo and her brood are the house’s new occupants, and she says that by the time she arrived at the premises a few months ago it had stood empty for some time.
A neighbour had warned her though that her predecessor Katoma, who had appeared sickly when interviewed in September, had gone to the hospital early this year with what people thought was cholera.
“I do not know what happened to her [Katoma], but she never came back to this place. I have been living here for a few months now,” said Munemo as she stoked a small fire on which a pot of water was boiling; most high-density townships have no electricity for 18 hours a day.
According to the most recent report from the United Nations Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs, 98,522 suspected cases and 4,282 deaths from cholera have been reported in the country since the outbreak of the water-borne disease last August.
While new cholera cases and deaths in Zimbabwe have been declining steadily since the onset of the dry season a few months ago, the overall infection rate has been far higher than the UN body first predicted due to the collapse of the healthcare and local government systems early last year.
When asked if many people had become sick from cholera, Munemo replied that after the disease first took hold there were many deaths.
“Many people here got sick and died and people just buried them. They were not seen by the NGOs. They are supposed to be spraying disinfectant to kill disease now, but that has not happened. It is better here than in many other areas though.
“The authorities [the unity government] have new cars, but they are not coming here to fix the sewage system. There is no change. People are not getting so sick at the moment because it is dry, but we are afraid of what will happen when the rains come again [in November],” she said.
Down the street at a scrap yard Charles Dzawanda (38) and his friends are burning clean old metal sheeting collected from around Highfield as a means to make a living. With 95 per cent of the population unemployed, Zimbabweans do whatever they can to earn cash.
The idea is to cut lengths of metal from the sheeting and sell them as doors to shack dwellers. Dzawanda said he makes about $50 (€36) a month from his endeavours, which helps to feed his wife and children.
“It’s not enough,” he says, “but it is all I can do to make an income. Customers come to us because we are much cheaper than the companies that sell metal from shops”.
Prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), has just returned from a tour of western nations where he has been asking for aid to the tune of $9 billion (€6.5 billion) to help kick start the country’s crippled economy and create employment.
However, because of lack of progress in implementing the details of the powersharing pact between the MDC and President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party – the latter is being accused of reneging on elements he agreed to – donor aid has been withheld.
Tsvangirai only secured about $500 million in increased aid, and even that is to be channelled through non-governmental organisations for fear of Zanu-PF trying to use it for its own benefit.
The only country to come up with significant donor aid to date has been China, which has promised to loan Zimbabwe $950 million.
The owner of the local bus company, M Mandera, says he hopes some of the money would be made available to the cash-strapped banks, as local companies need loans if they are to get businesses going again. “The banks need to provide loans. I need money to fix the buses which have fallen into disrepair. Petrol is expensive, at $1.50 per litre, and it takes 500 litres to fill the bus. It’s hard to keep the company running as I have 52 employees. My business will only survive if we get cheaper petrol.”
Despite the difficult environment in which Zimbabweans still find themselves, Dzawanda says many people are still cautiously optimistic regarding the unity government.
Since it came into existence, he says he has seen a positive change in the townships’ atmosphere. “It was so tense, as there were MDC and Zanu-PF in the same areas but now it is better and we can relax more.”
Written by Etim Anim
Sunday, 05 July 2009
Mugabe says only God can remove him from office. Of course, God will
in the fullness of time...
Omar Bongo, the perennial ruler of Gabon, finally died in office a few
weeks ago and brought rudely home the story of Africa. Its woes are tied
directly to despots who treat the continent's nation-states as personal
There seems also to be a larger problem; the people of the continent
don't care. I had a shocking encounter with some senior university officials
a few months ago. As Mugabe was unleashing mayhem on the opposition in the
stalemated aftermath of Zimbabwe's last election, the world stood aghast as
the 85-year-old maximum leader swore that only God could remove him from the
"throne." Meanwhile he had clearly lost the presidential election as well as
the parliamentary election. The question on the minds of rational people
was, "Why is he doing this to a country he fought so hard to establish?"
Shock when the university people - highly placed bureaucrats and academics -
said there was nothing wrong with what Mugabe was doing.
In other words, there must be something in the African heritage that
causes Africans to cling to positions of authority at all costs. The
university used to be an institution where the minds of people naturally
turned in the direction of analysis and query of the status quo. But these
university people were so convinced about the rightness of Mugabe's cause
that the massive suffering and frequent blood-letting afflicting the
Zimbabwean people, the real owners of the land and the power that
politicians and military men exercise, did not matter to them.
They were content to resort to the time-worn whipping boy of
neo-colonialism as being responsible for the collapse of the Zimbabwean
nation-state. It is true that colonialism has left some indelible scars on
the peoples of Africa. But does it ever occur to those who blame every
African fault on colonialism that Africans were not the only colonised
people in the world? Many others, especially in the Asian continent, have
shaken off the vestiges and psychology of colonialism and taken the fate of
their peoples in their hands.
Is it not time to wonder whether something other than colonialism and
its spin-off, neo-colonialism, is responsible for Africa's virtual
standstill? Might that something not be associated with the African's love
for power and position even if the power grabber has little or nothing to
offer? The African leaders who claim a monopoly of knowledge of how to
solve their countries' problems are nothing but liars and cheats. Can't the
people who support them in that mindless contention see what is happening
elsewhere in the world with spectacular results? Can't they see what regular
change in leadership does for the other peoples of the world? Can't the
young people of Africa, in particular, see that the future lies with the
young everywhere in the world and that youthful leaders - from Jack Kennedy
to Rajiv Ghandi, from Bill Clinton to Tony Blair and Barack Obama - have
shown what a combination of youth and change can do, if the youths are
properly groomed and given the chance? How can it be an admirable cultural
thing for leaders to stay in power until they are removed by death from old
Take a look at Africa. Bongo died after 42 years in power. Muammar
Gaddafi of Libya has stayed for 39 years in the saddle. Teodoro Obiang
Mbasogo has held the people of Equatorial Guinea in a bear-hug for 30 years.
Like Mbasogo, President Eduardo dos Santos has been at the helm in Angola
for 30 years. Hot on his heels is Mugabe at 29; at the number 5 slot is
Egypt's Hosni Mubarak, who succeeded his assassinated compatriot, Anwar
Sadat, 27 years ago. Paul Biya has ruled Cameroon for 26, as Yoweri Museveni
has in Uganda for 23; tied with Museveni is the absolute monarch of
Swaziland, King Mswati III. Blaise Compraore, who murdered his friend and
leader, Thomas Sankara, has hung on to power in Burkina Faso for 21 years.
On the other side of North Africa is President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, who
as the only second leader of Tunisia since independence, has been in power
for 21 years. In the Horn, Meles Zenawi has held sway in Addis Ababa for 18
years; his former comrade-in-arms to the north, Isaias Afewerki of Eritrea,
has "sat on the throne" for 16 years.
Mugabe is 85; Mubarak is 81; Biya is 76; Ben Ali is 73.Obiang, dos
Santos, and Gaddafi are 67; Museveni is 65; Compraore is 58, while Mswati
III is 41. The Swazi monarch came to power at the age 18; based on current
African form, if he lives to be as old as Mugabe, he will be in power for 67
years! Can anybody explain to me what these people have to offer to their
countries which they could not have shown all these decades? Before them
were Mobutu Sese Seko, Gnassingbe Eyadema, Lansana Conte, Kenneth Kaunda,
and Kamazu Banda, to mention just some. What spectacular things did they
really do for their countries? The infamous Nigerian Third Term Agenda was
all in line with the African tradition of perennial rule.
Can't the people of Africa see that these perennial rulers love not
the country but the power and the glory and the control they have over the
till? Bongo's family is said to own at least 33 luxury properties worth $190
million in France. A 1999 US Senate investigation into Citibank estimated
that Bongo had $130 million in the bank.
Mugabe says only God can remove him from office. Of course, God will
in the fullness of time. Then will he join fellow Africans like Sese Seko,
Eyadema, Lansa Conte, and Bongo - and all mortals, who came naked into this
world and it is certain they will take nothing away. They will mainly be
remembered for what they did not do.
A Gabonese woman said in a radio interview that the day Omar Bongo
died was a good day for Gabon. How sad!
BILL WATCH 23/2009
[5th July 2009]
The House of Assembly has adjourned until Tuesday 14th July,
and the Senate until Tuesday 21st July
Update on Constitutional Commissions Nominations
The short-listing of candidates from among the large number of applicants has not been completed.
Minister of Finance’s Mid-Term Policy Statement
Minister Biti has said this will be presented to Parliament on 16th July. “This will be a report card basically explaining how we have done so far”. He also said that he will be making serious policy pronouncements aimed at boosting the country’s economy and reviewing taxes.
Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill?
This Bill has a long history: following closely on the passage of the Indigenisation and Empowerment Act, it was actually tabled in Parliament in October 2007 as part of the ZANU-PF Government’s indigenisation and empowerment drive. But the Bill was not taken any further – it was not even debated – and it automatically fell away when Parliament was dissolved in January 2008 ahead of the harmonised elections. The Bill was in two parts – one providing for the indigenisation of the mining industry [including stipulating 51% “indigenous” ownership of mining companies], the other for the modernisation of the Mines and Minerals Act. It was listed for re-introduction as part of the ZANU-PF Government’s legislative programme for the current Parliamentary session in President Mugabe’s speech opening Parliament in August last year. At the moment the 2007 Bill is being considered by Minister of Mines Obert Mpofu for resuscitation with possible changes. A new draft would have to be approved by Cabinet before it can go any further. The Prime Minister has said that the 51% is too high and must be lowered to encourage foreign investment, raising hopes that any replacement Bill will be more investor-friendly. [Electronic 2007 Bill available]
Most of the Legislative Agenda seems to consist of announcements in the press of impending Bills. Neither the Cabinet Office nor the Prime Minister’s Office has issued a statement on what Bills have been approved by Cabinet. The first step in drafting a Bill is to get a policy go-ahead from Cabinet, then the Bill is drafted by the relevant Ministry in conjunction with the drafting section of the Attorney Generals Office. The final draft of the Bill then has to go back to Cabinet for final approval. If it is approved, Cabinet authorises the responsible Minister to send it to Parliament. Parliament then has it gazetted. It must be gazetted two weeks before it is tabled in Parliament.
Audit Office and Reserve Bank of
Information Communication Technology Bill – Minister Nelson Chamisa said he will be seeking Cabinet’s policy approval for this Bill on the 14th July – which means that if approval is granted, the Bill still has to be drafted and go back to Cabinet for final approval. The Bill is intended to cover licensing and regulation of telecommunications, broadcasting and postal services and the facilitation and regulation of electronic communications and transactions; it will involve the repeal of the Postal and Telecommunications Act and the Broadcasting Services Act.
Bills to replace AIPPA – the Ministry of Information, Media and Publicity is working on two Bills to replace AIPPA – one to regulate access to information, the other to provide for “administrative” registration of media and journalists. But neither Bill has been taken to Cabinet yet.
Other Bills listed in the Short Term Emergency Recovery Programme [STERP], e.g., Bills amending POSA, the Criminal Law Code, Urban Councils Act, etc. would have to go through the same process and therefore it is unlikely that any of these Bills will be ready soon.
Parliamentary Committee Meetings Open to Public
[Note: although these meetings are listed as open to public attendance – if you wish to attend, it is advisable to clear attendance with Parliament beforehand by telephoning 700181and asking for the relevant committee clerk.]
House of Assembly Portfolio Committees
Agriculture, Water, Lands and Resettlement – oral evidence from the Ministry of Finance [Monday 6th July at 10 am, Committee Room No. 1]
Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare – oral evidence from the Ministry of Finance [Monday 6th July at 2 pm, Committee Room No. 1]
Portfolio Committee on Education, Sports and Culture – oral evidence from the Minister of Education, Sport, Arts and Culture [Thursday 9th July at 10 am, Committee Room No. 4]
Public Accounts Committee – oral evidence from the Ministry of Local Government, Rural and Urban and Development and the Ministry of Transport, Communications and Infrastructure Development [Monday 6th July at 10 am Committee Room No. 4]
More Parliamentary News
Select Committee on the New Constitution – is busy organising the First All Stakeholders Conference which will go ahead as scheduled from Friday 10th to Sunday 12th July at the Harare International Conference Centre. Invitations will be faxed or delivered to organisations and delegates on Monday 6th July.
Senate thematic committees – no meetings scheduled
Senator Roy Bennett – Deputy Minister of Agriculture designate Bennett has been remanded to 13th October despite his lawyer’s protests against the failure to bring the matter to trial four months after Mr Bennett’s arrest. Mr Bennett is still not sworn in as Deputy Minister.
Overdue by-elections – no notices have been gazetted calling these by-elections [see Bill Watch Special of 17th May for details] and no explanation has been forthcoming from the government for its failure to comply with the law.
Update on Inclusive Government
Referral to SADC
The Prime Minister has endorsed his deputy Thokozane Khupe’s statement expressing MDC-T frustration with the slow pace of implementation of the IPA and the MDC-T Cabinet boycott, but said that MDC-T would not pull out of the inclusive government.
Mugabe gave the keynote address on “Food
Security” at the 13th AU Summit which opened on Wednesday in
SADC Report on IPA to the AU
Summit – The AU Summit communiqué
commended steps SADC had taken, welcomed progress made in the implementation of
the IPA and appealed for the immediate lifting of sanctions and for provision of
financial assistance to
International Monetary Fund [IMF] concluded, after their staff visited Zimbabwe, 22nd to 30th June, that there were signs of a “nascent economic recovery”, but although its staff will continue to provide policy advice and targeted technical assistance, “access to IMF financing would require donor financial support for arrears clearance to official creditors and a sustained track record of sound policies”. [Full text of statement available on request.]
Re-engagement with the
Commonwealth – this week there will be a
roundtable discussion in
It is reported that the
Government is considering setting up provincial councils for the two
metropolitan provinces of
Launch of Makoni Party
Former Finance Minister Simba Makoni
launched his Mavambo-Kusile-Dawn party on Wednesday morning in
At the end of its mission to Zimbabwe the Kimberley Process review team presented its provisional report, pointing out that lack of security had led to illegal digging and processing activities, recommending immediate demilitarisation of the Chiadzwa diamond field [“There cannot be effective security where diamonds are concerned with the involvement of the military”], stricter border controls to prevent diamond smuggling and better control from place of production to point of export. A final report will follow later. There were accusations in some press reports that there was an army “clean up” of the diamond fields before the inspection by the Kimberley Process team.
Update on Legislation
Bills – no Bills being are being printed by the Government Printer for gazetting and presentation in Parliament.
Acts – the new Census and Statistics Act [Act 1/2007] came into operation on 1st July [date fixed by SI 101A/2009 gazetted on 1st July]. This Act was gazetted on 20th July 2007. It transforms the Central Statistical Office into the National Statistics Agency, a fully-fledged parastatal. It also provides for the formulation of professional standards and ethics to be adhered to by all organisations that produce statistics for public information. Regulations made under the old Act will continue in force. [Electronic version of Act available on request.]
Statutory Instruments – SI 103/2009 [amendment of Exchange Control (General) Order of 1996] increases to US$10 000 the amount of foreign currency that may be taken out of the country by travellers [up from US$ 1 000].
Note: There is a statutory instrument expected on extending the suspension of customs duty on groceries and other basic commodities [the last SI to this effect expired on 30th June.] It is possible this SI was gazetted late on 3rd July or over the weekend..
Veritas makes every effort to ensure reliable information, but cannot take legal responsibility for information supplied.