8 July 2009
By Nyasa Times
Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe, who stirs mixed feelings in many
Malawians, received hisses at Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre where he was
attending the country's 45th independence celebrations on Monday.
The celebrations, where he was the only other head of state with his host
Bingu wa Mutharika, appeared to have been studiously shunned by the
16-member Southern African Development Community, SADC. Only two low-ranking
officials from Mozambique and Tanzania attended among locally-based
Government sources said the SADC heads are sending a message to Mugabe that
his failure to cooperate with their recommendations on the way forward for
the Zimbabwe government will not be tolerated.
But a political secretary in one embassy said it has dawned on the leaders
of SADC who are on the verge of going to elections of their last terms of
office, that they do not want to encourage their own successors to dump
their political parties as Mutharika did in Malawi.
Mugabe who is seen by local Malawians as only a titular head following the
formation of a unity government with Movement for Democratic Change, MDC was
hissed at on entry and was openly booed with his host from the over-crammed
25,000- seater stadium in a show of disaffection with his presence in
He was also here in May attending Mutharika's inauguration. Mugabe is the
most frequent visitor and a political buddy of Mutharika.
Some said they were tired with Mugabe while others said the relationship has
become an obsession with Mutharika at the expense of the people in the eyes
of the international community and in particular, Britain which gives Malawi
the second largest chunk of development aid after Bangladesh.
However, there also concerns that Malawi will be seen as comforting the
enemy in the eyes of the emerging new leaders who may not be kind to the
In the madness-filled attacks against so-called white farm settlers, many of
the 3 million Zimbabweans who trace their origins to Malawi were also
victims of the extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrests, rape and torture
from marauding Mugabe thugs in uniform and plain clothes.
Others said attended the celebrations for the love of football which was
played at the end of long-winded political speeches where Mutharika and his
officials took turns to vilify the opposition, in the fashion that his guest
revered until he faced the reality that he cannot survive without the
Mugabe has been a source of mixed reaction in Malawi with protests from
civil society and opposition followers removing his name from road furniture
bearing his name.
However, Mutharika whose foreign policy favours close ties with China and
countries such as Iran as opposed to major bilateral donors like Britain
declared Mugabe his political "hero".
By Lance Guma
08 July 2009
Divisions emerged this week between the two MDC factions, over how to deal
with the controversial appointment of Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono and
Attorney General Johannes Tomana. The main wing of the party led by Prime
Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, is adamant both officials were appointed by
Mugabe without the consent of the other partners in the coalition
government. But Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara, who leads the
smaller MDC faction, has thrown a spanner into the works by saying
Tsvangirai should work with Gono and Tomana 'to ensure the country's
economic prosperity in the spirit of inclusivity.'
Stung by this apparent u-turn the Tsvangirai MDC issued a strongly worded
statement saying they were 'aware of the existence of a small chorus'
calling for Gono and Tomana to remain in office. The party however insisted
these 'minute' and 'inaudible' voices have been 'drowned by the national
chorus for change.' Spokesman Nelson Chamisa told Newsreel the issue was not
motivated by personalities but arose out of the unprocedural appointment of
the two, by only one of the three principals to the unity government. They
want Gono and Tomana to resign in the national interest to help restore the
integrity of their offices, blighted by corruption and rights abuses.
Reports several months ago suggested both Mutambara and Tsvangirai had
written a letter to the Southern African Development Community and South
African President Jacob Zuma urging them to intervene over the remaining
issues. Mutambara is now being quoted as saying both the Gono and Tomana
issue can be dealt with without going to SADC. But Chamisa said they could
not work with Tomana as government's chief law officer when he had publicly
declared his support for ZANU PF and he added that Gono 'kept the printing
press running to fund illegal quasi-fiscal activities and to oil the ZANU PF
While Tsvangirai has continued to play the diplomat in his dealings with
Mugabe, his party has been calling a spade, a spade. This week alone they
have distributed several statements highlighting political violence around
the country. Chamisa also insisted the MDC was not happy with the 'snails
pace' of progress in the unity government. He said almost 6 months after
they entered the coalition, Roy Bennett has still not been sworn in as
deputy Agriculture Minister, governors have not been appointed in line with
the agreed formula, and permanent secretaries and ambassadors have not been
appointed. He also pointed to 'the failure of the National Security Council
to meet, despite a clear constitutional provision to that effect.'
'We are worried that we have remained the polite and subservient upholders
of the GPA against clear evidence of the absence of a reliable and honest
partner,' a party statement said on Wednesday.
Meanwhile Tsvangirai's spokesman, James Maridadi, has said he cannot
corroborate state media reports that the Prime Minister had apologized to
Mugabe over a boycott of cabinet last week by MDC ministers. Mugabe claimed
in an interview with state media journalists that Tsvangirai came to him and
said the MDC ministers were out of line and should have at the very least
attended the meeting to express their frustration. Maridadi however was non
committal telling us 'I don't have information to corroborate the story.'
By Alex Bell
08 July 2009
The commercial farming community has been left reeling after the violent
murder of a Midlands Province farm leader this week.
Bob Vaughan-Evans, a respected conservationist and agriculturalist, was
attacked along with his wife in their Gweru home late Tuesday, by an
intruder wielding an axe. Bob died as a result of serious head wounds, while
his wife Jean, who had just turned 80 years old, has remained in a coma
after being viciously assaulted. The elderly couple has faced three similar
attacks in the last three months, with the last attack leaving Jean
The President of the Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) Trevor Gifford,
expressed his shock and anger to SW Radio Africa on Wednesday, describing
Bob as a 'devoted', 'respected', and 'much admired' man. Bob was a member of
the CFU for almost thirty years after leaving a respected government
position after the country's independence.
"Bob was just about to retire and its just so tragic he didn't even get a
chance to enjoy his retirement," Gifford said.
Gifford dismissed the possibility that the attacks could be related to the
surge in land related violence, which have formed part of the renewed
campaign to remove the remaining commercial farmers from their land. He
explained that the attack on the Vaughan-Evans' is becoming a regular
occurrence in Gweru, where other elderly couples have been targeted in
recent months. Gifford expressed his anger over the situation, saying the
elderly are 'weak targets' for thugs and criminals in Zimbabwe, where
Gifford argued: "There is absolutely no rule of law."
"It is just so regrettable that people in Zimbabwe are resorting to this
level, either to make a living or make money," Gifford said.
The targeting of the elderly is a worrying occurrence in Zimbabwe, where
respect for the aged has always been a cultural norm. But the incident
clearly depicts what has been described as a total breakdown of culture and
law in the country during Robert Mugabe's iron fisted rule - a breakdown
that has continued, despite the formation of the unity government.
By Tichaona Sibanda
8 July 2009
A Muzarabani man, a victim of last year's political violence, is lucky to be
alive after surviving another political motivated attack in which he was
struck with an axe two weeks ago.
The man, who was seriously injured, was walking home after he had served a
summons on a ZANU PF supporter who burnt down his homestead and looted
livestock and household property. SW Radio Africa is withholding the victim's
name to protect him as he is still receiving treatment at a Harare hospital.
But his attackers have been identified as Reason Kadira and Funny Chigogo,
both from Muzarabani. The two well known ZANU PF loyalists set upon the MDC
activist on 26th June near the Musingwa bridge, after he served a summons on
Kadira from the small claims court, for compensation for lost property and
Kadira was reportedly left fuming for being singled out from a group of
other ZANU PF youths who went on a rampage during the pre-election violence
period. Our Harare correspondent Simon Muchemwa told us Kadira proceeded to
arm himself with an axe and asked Chigogo to help him track down the MDC
'They followed the MDC activist and caught up with him near the Musingwa
river bridge. One of the men repeatedly aimed the axe to the unsuspecting
MDC activist's head but he kept blocking the blows with his right arm,'
The screams of the MDC activist attracted the attention of nearby villagers
who immediately rushed to his rescue. The attackers fled the scene but were
easily identified by a number of witnesses.
The MDC activist was first rushed to a local clinic where he was immediately
transferred to Harare. In the capital there were fears he could lose his
hand through amputation, but a surgeon managed to save it.
Muchemwa said there has been an upsurge in the number of MDC activists who
have been attacked in recent weeks for seeking to reclaim their lost
properties and compensation.
He said the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights have embarked on a programme
of helping victims of political violence claim compensation through the High
court and the small claims court. But police have refused to accompany the
victims to deliver their summons, saying they have orders from their
superiors not to do so. Police in Zimbabwe have failed to act against anyone
from ZANU PF who commits a political crime, even murder.
A number of victims have faced threats and intimidation after attempting to
serve a summons on perpetrators of last year's violence. The latest cases of
violence against MDC activists have been reported in Masvingo, Chiredzi,
Mutoko, Mudzi, Bindura and Chegutu.
July 8, 2009
By Owen Chikari
MASVINGO - Hordes of Zanu-PF supporters on Wednesday disrupted mining
operations at Bikita Minerals, a major producer of lithium in Zimbabwe amid
claims bigwigs in President Robert Mugabe's party were angling for a
take-over of the mine.
It emerged yesterday that senior Zanu-PF officials here were bracing to take
over the mine under the new measures stipulating at least 51 percent
ownership by indigenous people in any mining operation.
Last year, the government of President Robert Mugabe crafted the
controversial mining laws saying blacks needed to have the majority stake in
Zimbabwe's mineral resources.
On Wednesday, mining at the lithium-producing mine temporarily came to halt
after the Zanu-PF supporters, among them so-called war veterans, descended
on the mine and harassed workers.
The marauding party youths also demanded the immediate dismissal of a white,
accusing him of racism.
Leading the campaign was Retired Colonel Claudius Makova who, sources say,
was positioning himself for a take-over of the mine.
"We saw a group of Zanu-PF youths coming at our work place and ordered us to
leave saying that we were sell-outs for allowing whites to continue to milk
the country's resources," said a worker at the mine who requested anonymity.
"We ran in different directions and operations stopped. After harassing us
they proceeded to the manager's residence where they demanded that a white
manager be dismissed.
"We only returned to work after an hour after the commotion at the whole
Sources within the Zanu-PF said Makova and former Senator Dzikamai Mavhaire
were preparing to take over the mine.
Ironically, Mavhaire sits on the current board of Bikita Minerals Private
Limited, owners of the mine.
"They are harassing workers and senior managers so that they can take over,"
said a Zanu-PF source.
Although Mavhaire could not be reached for comment Makova said they were
trying to rectify mistakes in the mining sector.
"We want blacks to immediately come into the mining industry," said Makova.
"We also want a white manager there to pack his bags and go."
It is not the first time that war veterans have disrupted operations at the
Last year, a group of so-called war veterans led by retired Captain Francis
Zimuto, alias Black Jesus, invaded the mine and threatened to take over.
The war veterans only vacated the mine premises after the intervention of
Vice- President Joseph Msika.
By Tichaona Sibanda
8 July 2009
The principal director in the Ministry of Economic Planning has told our
correspondent he will not be allowed to cover the International Investment
conference in Harare that begins Thursday, because he is not accredited with
the legally defunct Media Information Commission (MIC).
Our Harare correspondent Simon Muchemwa said the director, who is personally
accrediting the journalists, said that even those with accreditation would
have to be vetted, before being allowed to cover the conference.
Morgan Tsvangirai, Robert Mugabe and Arthur Mutambara will share the stage
at the conference in Harare, which has been publicized as an opportunity to
question the three leaders directly about the unity government.
Elton Mangoma, the Economic Planning Minister, told us on Wednesday those
wanting to invest in the media were welcome. But this latest attempt to
block the media will encourage no investment at all. Muchemwa said
journalists without accreditation would only be allowed in the conference if
they pay $150 to enter as individuals and not as journalists.
This comes just a short time after a High Court judge ruled that the MIC is
a defunct body. Four journalists, Stanley Gama, Valentine Maponga, Stanley
Kwenda and Jealous Mawarire last month successfully challenged in the High
court the government's requirement of accreditation with the MIC, as the
body is no longer operational.
High Court Justice Bharat Patel granted the four an interim order barring
Media, Information and Publicity Minister Webster Shamu and his permanent
secretary George Charamba from interfering with the operations of the four
journalists in their work. But this was ignored when they tried to cover the
COMESA conference in Victoria Falls and their attendance was blocked.
July 8, 2009
Johannesburg - The cost of living for a family of six in Zimbabwe's
low-income urban category rose to $502.22 (R4 078) in June, the Herald
reported on Wednesday.
This was a 15 percent increase from the May figure of $437.62 (R3 553),
according to the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ).
"The CCZ attributed the increase to the high cost of rentals that continue
to rise every month," the Herald said.
There was also an increase in the food basket from $111 06 in May to $138.05
in June, reflecting a 24 percent increase.
Foodstuffs and detergents also increased by 24 percent over the comparable
period, with CCZ blaming the hike on the non-renewal of the scrapping of
duty on all basic foodstuffs.
While commending the improved availability of goods in shops, the CCZ told
the Herald the prices were still "beyond the reach of many".
CCZ director Rosemary Siyachitema said the Rent Board should look into the
problem of high rentals to shield residents from unscrupulous landlords.
She also criticised the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority for charging
high electricity tariffs, the Herald said. - Sapa
ZIMBABWE has been rocked by a sudden fuel shortage that has seen petrol
prices skyrocket to as much as R15/litre.
In the capital Harare, some service stations had run dry while other
operators increased their prices in response to growing demand.
Adding to demand is the erratic electricity supplies, with more Zimbabweans
now relying on fuel powered generators.
The strengthening of the rand against the US dollar is also said to have
exacerbated the problem for small-budget fuel importers.
Zimbabwe's fuel importers prefer doing business in US dollars, which are now
But some economists have pointed to the massive tax on imported fuel as a
contributing factor. About 15percent of the selling price of fuel has to be
handed over to the central bank. Zimbabwe consumes about 1.2-million litres
of fuel [diesel and petrol] a day.
And as a means of raising hard currency fuel importers are now insisting on
trading in coupons rather than cash. The coupon system is favoured by
suppliers because it forces consumers to pay in advance. Rising fuel costs
have immediately translated into higher transport and food prices.
Though shops are well stocked, the price increase of goods is on the rise,
with most unable to afford to buy enough food. This exacerbates a situation
in which two-thirds of Zimbabwe's population is in dire need of food aid.
The ripple effect is that those who cannot afford to feed themselves go to
South Africa. Since May, when visa requirements were removed, more than
250000 Zimbabweans reportedly crossed into South Africa. Only about 30000
(probably cross-border shoppers) returned.
Photo: WHO/Paul Garwood
registered close to 100,000 cholera cases during the last
"There are fears of yet another outbreak," Tsitsi Singizi, information Officer of the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), told IRIN. Since cholera was first reported in August 2008, close to 100,000 people have been infected and over 4,000 have died.
Aid agencies have been gearing up for the eventuality of a serious comeback by drilling 200 new boreholes in cholera hotspots, distributing hygiene kits, and sensitization and education efforts to better equip Zimbabweans to cope.
"The water problems which spurred on the outbreak last year  still persist, so as we draw towards the wet season, we are bracing ourselves for another outbreak," Singizi said.
Zimbabwe often records cholera cases during the rainy season, but the economic implosion has meant that the underlying issues responsible for the epidemic - collapsed sewerage systems, poor access to adequate drinking water and continued failure to collect refuse - have yet to be addressed.
The water problems which
spurred on the outbreak last year still persist, so as we draw towards the wet
season, we are bracing ourselves for another outbreak
Too late and too little
"The government has had to scrounge around in order to give the city of Harare [the capital] the money in order to deal with problems associated with water and sanitation. Harare was the epicentre of the cholera outbreak," Finance minister Tendai Biti told IRIN.
"We want to ensure that does not happen [again] as we approach the rain season, so it is a race against time." Biti said he had allotted some US$17 million to the Harare municipality to address the water reticulation and sewerage system issues.
The money will be spent on rehabilitating the capital's water treatment and distribution network and sewerage system. "We hope the city of Harare will be able once again to provide clean water to all its residents, and that cholera will be a thing of the past," he commented.
Water development minister Sam Sipepa Nkomo said it would take at least US$21 million. "That is the correct amount needed to completely overhaul the Harare water and sewerage network. However, this financial injection is a positive development and a step in the right direction."
When state security agents abducted about twenty MDC activists and four
human rights campaigners from their homes and businesses in October last
year, the victims also lost most of their valuables. Simon Muchemwa, our
Harare correspondent, says they are now struggling to reclaim vehicles,
cellphones, laptops, digital cameras and cash, all 'confiscated' during the
midnight operations. The property has mysteriously disappeared into thin
Photo: Tiggy Ridley/IRIN
interventions could reduce maternal deaths by 46
The first comprehensive assessment of deaths resulting from pregnancy or childbirth revealed that 725 Zimbabwean women out of every 100,000 who deliver, die due to complications.
"The study findings have confirmed our worst fears: that indeed the maternal mortality ratio and the perinatal mortality rate are high, and present the biggest challenge for attainment of MDGs [Millennium Development Goals]," said Hilary Chiguvare of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), which partnered with the University of Zimbabwe and other UN agencies to produce the report.
She noted that the HIV/AIDS responses in maternal health programmes appeared to be "very weak": of the 91 percent of pregnant women who visited antenatal clinics, only 4.7 percent knew their HIV status, and only 1.8 percent of HIV-positive pregnant women received antiretroviral (ARV) drugs to prevent mother-to-child transmission.
The second highest cause of death was postpartum haemorrhaging (excessive bleeding after delivery), followed by hypertension (high blood pressure) and sepsis (infection). Most maternal deaths occurred at home, where women had no expert care when they experienced complications.
Many women could not afford transport to distant health facilities, but even those who could often failed to get drugs or assistance from skilled health professionals. The fees charged by health facilities were another barrier.
Temporary shelters near health facilities, set up for expectant women unable to arrange emergency transport, had improved access to care. The Ministry of Health and Child Welfare, with funding from the Japanese government, recently started a programme to revitalize the "Mothers Waiting Homes", Chiguvare said.
The report also revealed that the 29 percent of pregnant women who belonged to the Apostolic Faith Christian sect were at greater risk of maternal death due to their belief that health problems should be treated only through prayer.
"The major challenge will be to develop a sensitive approach to the sect, which respects their right to religious freedom but also asserts women's right to health."
The study concluded that nearly half the maternal deaths could be avoided by successful prevention and treatment of complications, and that "None of the interventions are complex or beyond the capacity of a functional health system in Zimbabwe."
See also: ZIMBABWE: Responding to the PMTCT challenge
Wednesday, 08 Jul 2009 11:28
Zimbabweans are still the unhappiest people in the world despite the
formation of a unity government that has stabilised the country's economic
situation, a recent report reveals.
The unity government, formed in February, appears to have brought a number
of improvements to Zimbabwe including reducing the country's hyper inflation
but seems to have failed in making local citizens any happier.
Zimbabwe is ranked at the bottom of the table of 143 nations surveyed over
the happiness of its nationals in rankings developed by the UK based think
tank, the New Economics Foundation.
Life expectancy, happiness and the environmental impact were all measured to
develop with the 'Happy Nation Index'.
Low life expectancy in Zimbabwe is cited as one of the reasons bringing
unhappiness to Zimbabweans, the report said.
HIV/Aids has halved the average life expectancy of Zimbabwe's 12.5 million
people - with the consequence that many parents die at an age at which many
in the developed world are just beginning their child-rearing lives.
Zimbabwean men are expected to live just 37 years, while women's average
life expectancy is now 34 years old.
The survey shows the top ten happiest countries are not the richest nations
but middle income countries in Latin America, Asia or the Caribbean where
there is a high level of life satisfaction and low carbon footprint.
Costa Rica is the greenest and happiest country on the planet.
The UK comes in at 74 out of 143 countries behind post-Soviet Georgia at 72,
Burma, ruled by a military junta at 39 and Sri Lanka, which has been scarred
by decades of civil war, at 22.
The highest ranking country in the European Union was the Netherlands at 43
followed by France at 71 and Germany at 51.
The United States was ranked at 114, Canada at 89 and Australia at 102.