Sunday, 21 June 2009 13:42 UK
Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has defended his support of President Robert Mugabe in an interview with the BBC.
His comments came a day after he was booed off stage at an address for more than 1,000 Zimbabwean exiles in London.
Mr Tsvangirai admitted the widely-criticised land reforms where white farmers were forced from their land had been a "disaster".
He is on a tour of Europe and the US to lobby for relief funds for Zimbabwe.
He joined a unity government with Mr Mugabe in February following disputed elections in the poverty-stricken country.
Mr Tsvangirai, who had in the past been badly beaten by pro-Mugabe forces as leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), said he understood why there was surprise over his co-operation with the president.
"It was the same with me, it was an extraordinary experience. I have a weekly meeting with him, as prime minister and president, we meet in cabinet. We meet whenever I want to meet him.
"We all know of a post-conflict situation. We had a similar experience in 1980, Mugabe declared reconciliation with the very same enemies he was fighting. In South Africa Nelson Mandela did the same."
He said the country's president, who has ruled the landlocked former British colony since 1980, had accepted there need to be changes.
"Mr Mugabe has already moved, he has already accepted that this is a process of transition and after two years we should go for an election.
"It will be a fair election because we are transforming the electoral environment. We are transforming the institutions that were used to abuse people."
Mr Tsvangirai said the last 10 years of land reform - which has included the forced ejection of white farmers from their land - had "not been perfect" before admitting it had in fact been "a disaster".
He said: "It has been a disaster. We all accept that, across the political divide." But he said the government would still work towards a more "equitable" system of land ownership.
Mr Tsvangirai, who was booed by Zimbabweans at an address at Southwark Cathedral where he urged exiles to return to the country, said he understood why people were cautious about returning.
"I understand very well, I understand some of them left under circumstances of involuntary exile for themselves because of the circumstances back then."
He said the reforms, which would include new legislation to free press restriction, were "defining a new destiny for the country".
Ahead of a meeting with Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Mr Tsvangirai said he would ask the British government for financial support to help the country through its transitional phase.
"Let's re-establish normal relations Zimbabwe and the UK, let's have transitional support, because it's important to support this transition in order to strengthen the democratic reforms," he said.
He said US President Obama was "interested to see progress, interested to see we don't slide back".
Mr Tsvangirai's UK visit is the final stage of a tour of Europe and the US.
Morgan Tsvangirai, Zimbabwe's prime minister who is due to meet Gordon Brown
in Downing Street on Monday, will come away almost empty-handed from a
fund-raising tour to Europe and America, diplomats in Harare claimed.
By Peta Thornycroft in Harare and Sebastien Berger
Published: 7:36PM BST 21 Jun 2009
Mr Tsvangirai was jeered by exiles when he addressed them at Southwark
Cathedral in London on Saturday night because they are unhappy that he is
sharing power with President Robert Mugabe.
But more pressingly, he has collected only small pledges on his previous
stops during his tour and diplomats alleged that this is because the West
believes he is all but powerless while having to labour on Zimbabwe's behalf
in the shadow of Mr Mugabe.
In Washington, President Barack Obama offered £45 million for good
governance and fighting HIV-Aids, but the money will go through aid agencies
and not the Zimbabwean government.
Germany said it would contribute £17 million to a World Bank fund promoting
democracy, and Norway increased its aid by £4 million, while Denmark
offering a further £11 million. But Sweden declined to provide any extra
money, saying more progress was needed.
The sums are a tiny fraction of the £5 billion the Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) finance minister Tendai Biti has estimated is needed to rebuild
the country after decades of misrule by President Robert Mugabe. The
government has revenues of £12 million and expenses of £62 million every
month, he said last week.
Senior Western diplomats in Harare said that Mr Tsvangirai was not in a
position to persuade Western leaders that he could ensure Mr Mugabe, who
remains president, would comply with the power-sharing agreement.
"It is not only Mugabe's obstructions but the West is unsure whether
Tsvangirai will challenge him as he seems to make any and every compromise,"
The European Union held its first official talks with Zimbabwe in seven
years yesterday when Mr Tsvangirai visited Brussels. But envoys in Harare
say that Mr Mugabe shows no sign he intends to comply with the political
agreement he signed and the MDC leader and his ministers will not face him
Derek Matyszak, from a non governmental organisation, the Research and
Advocacy Unit, said Mr Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change embraced
"a policy of appeasement because they want to present to the world that the
inclusive government is working, so they are covering up many of the
violations of the rule of law perpetrated by Zanu-PF." The Zanu-PF justice
minister Patrick Chinamasa had changed the constitutional amendment setting
up the coalition government after it passed through parliament, he added,
removing deadlines for agreeing a new constitution.
Analysts now expect Zanu-PF to obstruct the process and ensure that the
present administration endures for a normal five year term.
Farm invasions are still continuing, and Mr Mugabe mapped out a plan last
weekend to deprive all remaining white farmers of their property.
One of Mr Mugabe's closest allies, the information minister Webster Shamu
told diners at a five star Harare hotel last week: "No white person will be
left with any land." Trevor Gifford, president of the Commercial Farmers'
Union, expected even more disruptions on the farms.
"Land officials have been told if they don't take a much harder line they
will be incarcerated," he said. "The government said again today that some
white farmers will get 99-year leases, but that is just a smoke screen. They
are determined to get us all off."
Mr Tsvangirai, who was booed on Saturday when he urged exiles to return to
the country, said he understood why people were cautious about returning.
"I understand very well, I understand some of them left under circumstances
of involuntary exile for themselves because of the circumstances back then."
Ahead of a meeting with Mr Gordon Brown, Mr Tsvangirai said he would ask the
British government for financial support to help the country through its
Jun 21, 10:51 AM EDT
HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) -- Zimbabwe's information ministry says it is
investigating whether a newsletter published by Prime Minister Morgan
Tsvangirai's office is legal.
The state Sunday Mail newspaper, a mouthpiece of President Robert Mugabe's
party, says the four-page publication set Tsvangirai on a "collision course"
with government colleagues.
The newsletter contains details of Tsvangirai's current trip to re-engage
with Western nations after a decade of isolation for Zimbabwe. The Sunday
Mail says Tsvangirai should first have reported to Cabinet colleagues.
Chief information secretary George Charamba is quoted as saying his
department is "looking at what the law says."
Rivals Mugabe and Tsvangirai joined in a coalition government in February.
Sunday, June 21st, 2009
A study by human rights groups in southern Africa say torture and other
abuses in Zimbabwe have been so widespread and systematic that they could be
considered crimes against humanity. And it says these abuses continue,
causing a major blemish on the four month-old power-sharing government.
The director of the Harare-based Research and Advocacy Unit, Tony Reeler,
says a review of investigations by numerous rights groups shows that torture
and gross human rights violations in Zimbabwe have been perpetrated for
decades on what he calls an epidemic scale.
He says the abuses have been widespread and systematic which fulfills a
definition of crimes against humanity.
He adds that victims have identified senior Zimbabwean officials as being
behind the violence. And they have testified that torture centers were set
up in government-owned buildings such as schools and clinics.
He says this indicates that, at the very least, the state condoned the
abuse. "You can be accused of crimes against humanity in two ways. One is
that you are actively involved in the commission of those things. The second
is that you do not take active steps to prevent it. Omission is also very
important," he said.
Reeler's report was based on investigations by more than one dozen human
rights groups which, he says, used different methods but came to the same
His report says human rights abuses occurred for decades in Zimbabwe but
that they worsened after the year 2000 and peaked during the disputed
elections last year.
In these elections, the former-opposition Movement for Democratic Change
defeated President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party in the parliamentary vote.
In the presidential vote, Mr. Mugabe came in second to MDC leader Prime
Minister Morgan Tsvangirai but he won the run-off election after Mr.
Tsvangirai withdrew citing violence against his supporters.
Mr. Mugabe's government vehemently denies the reports of human rights abuses
saying they are lies aimed at de-stabilizing the regime. It notes that some
ZANU-PF supporters have also been victimized.
Reeler says that in addition to torture, beatings and intimidation, a new
form of abuse has emerged. "Some of the reports have made this point, that
there is a new kind of violation floating around. And this is a kind of
psychological torture. What you do is you smash their home. You steal their
goods. You eat their cattle and their goats and you impoverish them. That's
a way of keeping people compliant," he said.
Reeler's report says the abuses have declined since the power sharing
government was installed with Mr. Mugabe as president and Mr. Tsvangirai as
prime minister. But he says the abuses continue and that is a major blot
(stain) on the new government.
Dozens of MDC and human rights activists have been arrested in recent months
on charges of plotting to overthrow the state. Many of them have been
released on bail but others remain missing.
The head of Amnesty International (Irene Khan) Friday was heavily criticized
in the state controlled media after she said, during a visit to the country,
that human rights violations continue in Zimbabwe.
A researcher with South Africa's Center for the Study of Violence and
Reconciliation, Glen Mpani, said a major impediment to peace and
reconciliation is the culture of impunity that has evolved. "Zimbabwe has
gone through processes of announcing national union and reconciliation in
the past and these processes have all been geared towards providing impunity
and allowing perpetrators to go scot-free," he said.
Reeler says peace can only be brought about by placing security structures
under complete civilian control. Reconciliation can only come by creating
mechanisms for healing. And healing can only come about through justice.
By Andrew Leach
Last updated at 10:27 PM on 20th June 2009
Set in the beautiful Eastern Highlands of Zimbabwe and boasting one of Africa's finest golf courses and a private game park, Leopard Rock Hotel has been a refuge for many VIP guests, including Diana, Princess of Wales and the Queen Mother.
But now the tranquillity of the luxury hotel nestling in the Vumba Mountains has been shattered.
Leopard Rock and other assets in Zimbabwe owned by Aim-quoted company LonZim are at the centre of a corporate battle involving allegations of asset-stripping, a High Court legal action and an attempted boardroom coup.
Royal guest: Princess Diana during a visit to Zimbabwe in 1993 - she is one of many VIP guests to have stayed at the Leopard Rock Hotel (top)
On one side is Lonrho - still an iconic name in Africa after the late Tiny Rowland built the London and Rhodesian Mining and Land Company, which he joined in 1962, into a mighty business empire.
Lonrho, chaired by Australian dealmaker David Lenigas, has a 24.25 per cent stake in LonZim, which it floated in 2007 to make investments in Zimbabwe, the former Rhodesia.
Lenigas chairs LonZim and Lonrho chief executive Geoff White sits on the board. Lonrho itself has a contract to manage LonZim worth an annual $500,000 (£304,000) or two per cent of the company's invested funds, whichever is the greater.
The Lonrho of today retains nearly 20,000 small investors, but is an Aim-listed rump of the former pan-African conglomerate. However, under Lenigas it is again expanding across Africa in transport, agribusiness, support services and hotels.
And Zimbabwe is seen as a major prize, now that its Government of National Unity promises a break from its recent past under the control of Robert Mugabe and its associated economic instability and hyper inflation.
That is what is believed to have drawn legendary investor George Soros to take a stake in LonZim, although the value of his holding plummeted as the share price slipped from 100p at its flotation. He sold out earlier this year and two new investors came on to the register --South African bank AMB, which through its Dublin-based arm holds 22.12 per cent acquired at about 16p a share, and Swiss group Damille Partners with 6.46 per cent.
Although the pair, which say they are wholly independent of each other, have seen a big jump in the value of their holdings as LonZim's share price has doubled in recent months to 35p on Friday, they think there is more value and believe that the company's directors cannot deliver it.
AMB, headed by chief executive Andrew Sprague, has called an extraordinary general meeting to oust the LonZim board and put new directors - Sprague and his fellow director Chris Vosloo plus Damille partners Brett Miller and Rhys Davies - in their place.
The EGM resolution also proposes selling LonZim's assets, from Leopard Rock to printing and IT group Celsys and hotel sites in Beira, Mozambique, by the end of next year and returning cash to shareholders.
Lenigas says the proposals are unnecessary since LonZim's directors have only just been re-elected by shareholders at April's annual meeting and that a fire sale of assets proposedby AMB will destroy, not create-value.
Lenigas, along with White and LonZim, are suing Sprague for defamation over remarks made during a break at LonZim's annual meeting in London in April and allegations reported in a business magazine in South Africa.
AMB said last week the action was an attempt by the executive directors of LonZim to silence any bona fide concerns raised by shareholders and to deprive them of their democratic right to speak.
Vosloo said AMB had identified LonZim as a turnround business and the bank believed there was great investment potential in Zimbabwe. 'We believe that we can create value and will review the assets, but there will not be a fire sale,' he said. 'We would also like the EGM to be held as soon as possible and we will consider our options if a date is not fixed soon.'
Lenigas says part of the delay setting the EGM is that the proposed new directors had first to be vetted by LonZim's advisers.
'Once that has been done we will be able to get on with it,' he said, although he questioned the logic of AMB's proposal to sell assets, describing it as a short-sighted strategy that would deprive shareholders of significant value.
HE added: 'As well as being a backward step for the company, to walk away from Zimbabwe as a country at this critical juncture is to abandon the country and its people at the worst possible time.'
Lenigas also suggested that AMB, in contrast to Lonrho, was only after quick returns. 'Lonrho has been around for a hundred years, we have a long-term view of Africa,' he said.
Part of that is a £1 million-plus planned refurbishment of Leopard Rock to help restore it to its former glory and expand the hotel. This is committed money, according to Lenigas - whatever happens with AMB.
June 21, 2009
By Our Correspondent
HARARE - A Mutare magistrate convicted Shuwa Mudiwa, the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) legislator for Mutare West constituency on Saturday
on a 2007 kidnapping charge.
He shall remain in custody pending his sentencing which will be passed next
Mudiwa, who is in his first term as an MP, is said to have kidnapped a 13
year old girl in 2007, a matter which his lawyer Douglas Mwonzora maintains
is unfounded and politically motivated.
Mwonzora says he will on Monday file a High Court application to challenge
"We are launching an appeal against his conviction this coming Monday," said
"Our grounds are that there is evidence that the matter is clearly political
as the complainant is connected to a Zanu-PF candidate he defeated in the
elections, Chris Mushowe."
Mwonzora says Mushowe could be having a hand in the matter saying he had
been using the girl during his campaign rallies for the March 2008
According to Mwonzora, the girl would be asked to stand before crowds
narrating her "ordeal in the hands of Mudiwa", something he claims was
intended to de-campaign Mudiwa.
The parents of the complainant are said to be staunch Zanu-PF supporters.
"This is clearly a political conviction," he said, "It has nothing to do
with the law and all but confirms what the MDC has been saying that Zanu-PF
is determined to decimate its parliamentary majority."
Arrests on MDC activists and officials have not stopped even with the
formation of the all inclusive government.
Since the March 29, 2008 elections, the MDC has witnessed the arrest of
numerous of its officials.
MDC secretary general Tendai Biti was last year arrested on treason charges
while MDC treasurer, Roy Bennett also faces terrorism charges.
Buhera West legislator Eric Matinenga and Chipinge East MP Mathias Mlambo
were also arrested for allegedly inciting political violence while
Highfields East MP Pearson Mungofa and Tichaona Mudzingwa, MDC secretary for
defence were both arrested for causing disaffection among members of the
Similarly, Epworth legislator Eliah Jembere was arrested and later cleared
on charges of rape, while Blessing Chebundo MP for Kwekwe Central has just
been granted bail on rape charges.
Kwekwe Mayor Shadreck Tobaiwa and Tapera Sengweni, both MDC officials were
last month also bundled into the Chebundo case, allegedly for attempting to
defeat the course of justice.
Chimanimani West legislator Lynette Karenyi was early this year convicted
for forging the signatures of four nominees to her candidature.
Lately Toendepi Shonhe, MDC director general was arrested and faces perjury
Thousands more MDC functionaries have been arrested on different allegations
which the MDC continues to describe as trumped up.
Home Affairs co-minister Giles Mutsekwa told Parliament last week
politically motivated arrests would soon be "a thing of the past".
Published: June 20, 2009 at 9:02 PM
HARARE, Zimbabwe, June 20 (UPI) -- An effort is under way to circumvent
Zimbabwe's central bank so certain donor funds can be controlled by Prime
Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, observers say.
The wrangling over the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe began when Zimbabwean
President Robert Mugabe named Gideon Gono governor and another member of his
ZANU-PF party, Johannes Tomana, as attorney general, the IRIN news agency
Gono allegedly has admitted raiding the bank accounts of private individuals
and non-profit organizations for foreign currency.
Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change party argues the Gono and Tomana
appointments were an end-around on a global political agreement in February
that created the unity government. Mugabe has refused to concede the point
and recently got the support of the armed forces, which contends Gono's
position as central bank governor was "non-negotiable."
Finance Minister Tendai Biti of the MDC will have oversight of a Multi-Donor
Trust Fund that will accept donations with a cabinet committee on aid
coordination led by Tsvangirai, responsible for disbursing funds.
Gorden Moyo, an MDC minister of state, told local media the arrangement is
meant to assuage concerns in the donor community about how their money will
"We now have a framework of operation, and it sends a clear message that
Zimbabwe is ready to receive aid and use it effectively for the benefit of
the people of Zimbabwe," Moyo said.
By Moses Muchemwa
Published: June 20, 2009
Nkayi - TROUBLED MDC splinter group leader Arthur Mutambara, has been
lambasted by his party members for allegedly causing divisions and confusion
in the party.
At the weekend, Senior MDC members who attended March 2008 election victory
by the suspended Member of Parliament for Nkayi South, Abednico Ncube
Bhebhe, took turns to castigate the party leadership for failing to make the
The celebrations were attended by Deputy Prime Thokozani Khupe, a
development seen as confirmation of the defection of MDC-M members to MDC-T
led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.
Bhebhe told his Nkayi supporters that: "I am not a coward, I am there to
stay. People are saying they are tired of a divided MDC, they are saying
they want one MDC.
"And if the people have spoken someone out there has to listen. If no one
listens, then the people will only speak louder."
The District chairperson of Nkayi South Jabulani Ncube said the people of
Nkayi had defected to the Tsvangirai party as Mtambara had failed them as a
The Nkayi Rural District Council chairman Kufakwezwe Ncube said all the 23
MDC-M councillors from Nkayi South had defected to Tsvangirai.
Five legislators and officials were summoned to appear before the party's
national disciplinary committee early last month, although no reasons were
given at the time.
The suspended law makers are Tsholotsho South Member of House of Assembly,
Maxwell Dube, Thandeko Mnklandla (Gwanda North) Abednico Bhebhe (Nkayi
South), Njabuliso Mguni (Lupane East) and Norman Mpofu (Bulilima East).
Also suspended were the party's secretary for defence Job Sikhala, national
youth chairperson Gift Nyandoro and Matebeleland South provincial treasurer
Goosen said there was a horrible game happening within the Mtambara faction
and they were going to fight tooth and nail to make sure that sanity
"If they are going to fire MPs it has to go through the national executive
and have legitimate reasons," he noted.
Goosen said the letters announced that the hearing, which will decide the
fate of the suspended MPs, is set for Friday this week.
HARARE, June 21 2009 - Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) senator
Patrick Kombayi has died.
He was the Senator for Gweru - Chirumanzu in the Midlands province.
In a statement, the MDC said Senator Kombayi died at his home in Gweru
after battling with injuries sustained when Zanu PF operatives in Gweru shot
him on March 24, 1990 while he was campaigning against late vice president
Simon Muzenda. He was left permanently disabled.
Kombayi was at the time the National Organising Secretary of the
Zimbabwe Unity Movement (ZUM) led by Edgar Tekere. One of those convicted of
shooting Kombayi, then Gweru CIO chief Elias Kanengoni, was later pardoned
by President Mugabe.
"The MDC feels that Hon Kombayi's contribution to pre and post
Zimbabwe is uncontestable and he deserves a natural place of honour in the
hearts and minds of all Zimbabweans.
"The MDC mourns with the Kombayi family and the people of Zimbabwe at
this time of bereavement," said the party.
Senator Kombayi was born on 2 November 1938 and is survived by his
wife Mavis, six children and several grandchildren.
An extraordinary day which saw Morgan Tsvangirai stomping out of a diaspora assembly in Southwark Cathedral in south London when his speech was booed.
The Vigil was there to greet his convoy when it arrived. Displaying our banners ‘No to Mugabe, No to Starvation’ and ‘End Murder, Rape and Torture in Zimbabwe’, we danced and drummed and sang ‘To save Zimbabwe, Mugabe must go’. The Prime Minister could not have failed to see our posters ‘Protect Human Rights Activists’, ‘Restore the Rule of Law’ and ‘End Farm Invasions’.
Our purpose was to welcome Tsvangirai but also to remind him of what people in the diaspora think needs to be done if Zimbabwe is to win the confidence of donors and investors and be a welcoming place for returning exiles.
Tsvangirai was given a big ovation when he emerged in the cathedral after prayers and a reading from the Acts of the Apostles by Vigil management team member Gugu Tutani – ‘I have surely seen the mistreatment of my people’.
But he was jeered by the audience when he called on them to return home. As far as they were concerned he was telling them to go back to a place with no jobs or rule of law and continuing human rights abuses. There were chants of ‘Mugabe must go’. The much-heralded meeting ended abruptly because of the challenging atmosphere. (see link: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/8110939.stm). Despite this distraction, the Vigil outside the Embassy took place as normal. We were not surprised that Tsvangirai did not stop by on his way to a £75 a head dinner for exiled Zimbabweans.
Some comments from the many disappointed and angry Zimbabweans who came on from the Cathedral to the Vigil, many of them first-timers:
· ‘When Morgan said “the schools have re-opened” everybody cheered. When Morgan said “the hospitals have re-opened” everybody was silent. When he said “there is peace in Zimbabwe” everyone heckled and booed and you could taste the anger in the air. One lady asked the question “if there are goods in the shops and the schools have re-opened where will everyone get money to buy food and send their children to school” – this was not answered.’
· ‘He was speaking like Mugabe. He is saying everything is now ok.’
· ‘The MDC expects everyone to agree or they are treated as an enemy’.
· ‘We have been betrayed by Tsvangirai’.
· ‘Today Tsvangirai was shot down in flames by Zimbabweans in the UK diaspora.’
· ‘How can Tsvangirai encourage people to go home when all his children are in the diaspora,’
· Fungayi Mabhunu for leaving the cathedral meeting early to make sure he was on time to open the Vigil.
· Jenatry Muranganwa for his impassioned leading of the singing and dancing in the Vigil demonstration outside the cathedral.
· Arnold Kuwewa for single-handedly looked after the merchandise and register until joined by others who had attended the Tsvangirai meeting.
It was good to welcome back Geraldine Takundwa who has been seriously ill for a long time.
For latest Vigil pictures check: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/
FOR THE RECORD: about 300 signed the register.
FOR YOUR DIARY:
· Service of solidarity with the torture survivors of Zimbabwe. Friday 26th June from 7 – 8 pm. Venue: Southwark Cathedral. This is the 8th year the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum has marked UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. For more information, visit: http://www.hrforumzim.com.
· Zimbabwe Vigil Forum. Saturday 27th June at 6.30 pm. Upstairs at the Theodore Bullfrog, John Adam Street, London WC2N 6HL.
· ROHR Leeds general meeting. Saturday 27th June from 1.30 – 5.30 pm. Venue: Dock Green Inn, Leeds LS9 7AB. Contact: Wonder M Mubaiwa 07958758568, Donna Mugoni 07533259373 or B Sikosana 07940181761.
· ROHR Chelmsford general meeting. Saturday 27th June from 1.30 – 5.30 pm. Venue: Springfield Parish Hall (centre), Chelmsford, CM1 6GX. Transport from train station to the venue provided. Contact: Faith Benesi 07958650670, Tobokwa Malikongwa 07533660621, Richard Mupunga 07540807347, Christina Zanji 07535791464 or Nyasha Muzambi 07908429361 or Paradzai Mapfumo 07915926323/07932216070
· ROHR Bedford general meeting. Saturday 4th July from 1.30 – 5.30 pm. Venue: 64 Magnolia Close, Kempstone, Bedford, MK42 7NR. ROHR President, executive and a well known Immigration lawyer present. Special Guest the MP for Bedford. Contact: Daniel Manyanga 07939184723, Sifelani Dziva 07936551476, Allen Gapara 07834231749, R Mwandira 07903434431 or Paradzai Mapfumo 07915926323 / 07932216070.
· 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, Executive, a well known lawyer: Special guests Hatfield & Welwyn MP Mr Grant Shapp and Mr Geofrey 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
· 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.
19 June 2009
By STAFF REPORTER
HARARE - Defence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa has asked Cabinet to consider
banning The Zimbabwean newspaper and its sister publication, The Zimbabwean
on Sunday, according impeccable Cabinet sources. (Pictured: The truck that
was ferrying copies of The Zimbabwean on Sunday that was hijacked by a gang
of gun-totting men who set it on fire)
Mnangagwa, who last year accused The Zimbabwean of causing President Robert
Mugabe history-drawing defeat in last year's presidential vote, told Cabinet
last Tuesday that the publications were undermining the inclusive government
and fomenting hatred against security forces.
The Zimbabwean on Sunday heard that Mnangagwa's assertions were swiftly
rejected by his colleagues in Cabinet, who scoffed at the suggestion of
banning newspapers at a time the new government was supposed to be
considering opening up media space.
The Defence minister was reportedly told that if there was any newspaper
that should be banned, it should be the Herald, as it was the chief culprit
in undermining the inclusive government, not The Zimbabwean or its Sunday
Just last week Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's MDC party wrote to Herald
editor-in-chief Pikirayi Deketeke and ZBC chief executive officer Happison
Muchechetere taking issue with the biased coverage, black-outs of the Prime
Minister's activities and what the party described as "gutter journalism"
practiced at the state-owned media houses.
The Zimbabwean heard that a livid Mnangagwa is said to have also taken issue
with Voice of America's Studio 7 radio station, which beams into Zimbabwe
from Washington and SW Radio Africa that broadcasts from London.
Mnangagwa is said to have accused some of members of Cabinet of letting down
the unity government by accepting interviews with the two titles - a charge
his colleagues vehemently rejected, sources said.
Our source, who we cannot name because the Official Secrets Act bars
disclosure of Cabinet deliberations, said Mnangagwa later suggested that The
Zimbabwean should change its editorial policy for it to be allowed to
circulating in the country.
"It was an ominous threat," said a source who expressed alarm at Mnangagwa's
Efforts to obtain independent comment from Mnangagwa since last Thursday
were futile while Information Minister Webster Shamu who like Mnangagwa is
also a member of Zanu (PF) declined to take questions on the matter when
contacted by phone.
But a senior member of MD-T, Gif Chimanikire, said the party was committed
to freeing the media and would not back the closure of newspapers.
Chimanikire, who is chairperson of the parliamentary portfolio committee on
media, information and communication technologies, said: "The MDC is
committed to ushering in a new era of media freedom in Zimbabwe."
Edwin Mushoriwa, spokesman for Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara's MDC
formation said the party was pushing for plural media environment and would
oppose closure newspapers.
"We cannot support such a thing," said Mushoriwa. He added: "How can we
support the banning of newspapers when in actual fact we feel we should have
a multiplicity of voices. We do not quibble over that position that there
should be media pluralism. In fact we want the Press to self-regulate."
Wilf Mbanga publisher and editor of the two titles said trying to silence
the papers by banning them would be futile given the fact that circulated
widely in southern Africa and many parts of the world.
Mnangagwa's call was only important as an example of Zanu (PF)'s views on
media freedom, according to Mbanga.
He said: "This just goes to show the Zanu (PF) mindset. When everybody in
Zimbabwe is talking about opening up the media space they are talking of
closing down newspapers.
"Banning The Zimbabwean and its sister Sunday paper inside the country will
do immeasurable damage to the inclusive government internationally. And
banning the newspapers is a pointless exercise in this age of technological
"The newspapers will continue to be published outside Zimbabwe, to be freely
available on the streets of South Africa, Botswana and Mozambique as well as
other SADC countries. They are also available in 52 countries via print on
demand. In addition, the full text of all issues are available on the
internet for anyone with a computer."
Mnangagwa, who was Mugabe's chief election agent last year, blamed The
Zimbabwean newspaper for Zanu (PF)'s electoral defeat in a report tabled
before the Zanu (PF) Central Committee and presidium in April last year.
Prior to his appointment as Defence minister in February following the
formation of the inclusive government between President Mugabe, Prime
Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara,
Mnangagwa headed the Joint Operations Command which was responsible for
gross human rights violations that were committed in Zimbabwe after Mugabe
lost elections to Tsvangirai. ?
The Zimbabwean was established in February 2005 to give Zimbabweans an
alternative source of information especially in view of the tight controls
exercised by Mugabe's government on public-owned media.
The paper and its stable mate are printed in South Africa and trucked into
the country but the government imposed a punitive 70 percent duty on the
papers which was later reduced to 55 percent - but still unjustifiably too
On May 25 last year, at the height of presidential run-off campaigns, an
armed gang hijacked a 14-tonne truck containing 60,000 copies of The
Zimbabwean on Sunday and set it on fire.
To date no one has been arrested in connection with the incident.
The Zimbabwean on Sunday, launched in February last year, was forced to
temporarily suspend publication after the hijacking but was re-launched this
The Zimbabwean has become the largest selling newspaper in Zimbabwe -
selling 230,000 copies a week at its peak during the run-up to the landmark
2008 elections, eclipsing the government titles that had previously
dominated the print media.