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Mugabe flies back to Asia, as health woes continue

http://www.dailynews.co.zw/

By Staff Writer
Wednesday, 02 March 2011 18:11

HARARE - President Robert Mugabe is travelling back to Singapore on Thursday
for further medical attention, a clear sign that the 87 year-old leader has
not fully recovered.

Mugabe’s health problems have swelled in the past few months and two weeks
ago, his spokesperson George Charamba announced through the state media that
the veteran leader had gone to the Asian country for a cataract review after
an operation early this year.

But sources in government insisted yesterday that Mugabe is having serious
problems with prostate cancer which needs attention.

At his birthday function last week, Mugabe admitted that his body was now
getting tired but his brains remain sharp.

A top government official said: “Mugabe is travelling back to Singapore
tomorrow (Thursday) to seek medical attention. He has not disclosed what
exactly the problem is. The last time he went there George Charamba told us
that he had gone for review after an operation on one of his eyes.

“But we believe that there is more to it than a mere cataract. There is
something wrong because after a cataract operation a person should
recuperate after a few days. But this is the third time Mugabe is going to
Asia in two months," he said.

“Remember the international media last time speculated that the old man is
having problems with prostate cancer. I think he should just come out in the
open about his health and we move on with life.”

Mugabe has in the past week been trying hard to prove that he is still fit
to continue ruling the country and was seen on national television
struggling to go up the stairs on a visit to the Chiadzwa diamond fields.

While addressing his supporters in Harare during Zanu PF’s anti sanctions
function, Mugabe spent most of the time leaning on the podium.


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ZANU PF shuts down Harare for ‘sanctions’ rally

http://www.swradioafrica.com/

By Alex Bell
02 March 2011

Robert Mugabe’s ZANU PF on Wednesday shut down Harare for the party’s
‘anti-sanctions’ rally, with thousands of people bussed into the capital to
demonstrate against the targeted measures.

Hundreds more people were forced to attend the rally, where Mugabe launched
the party’s campaign against targeted restrictive measures in place against
him and his cronies. SW Radio Africa correspondent Simon Muchemwa explained
how market stalls and shops in and around the city were forced to close,
with patrons and shop owners frog-marched to the rally.

The MDC’s information department on Wednesday said it was “overwhelmed by a
number of calls from Harare motorists and residents reporting acts of
harassment and intimidation for their reluctance to join the ZANU PF
side-show and non-event.” The party said that shop-owners in Avondale were
forced to temporarily lock up their doors after truckloads of reportedly
drunken ZANU PF youths stormed the shopping centre and ordered people to
attend the rally.

Newspaper vendors in the city centre were also forced to flee for safety
following an attack by ZANU PF gangs, who ordered them to attend the rally.
According to the MDC, one of the vendors was said to have been assaulted and
“could be seen bleeding profusely.” Another vendor had to seek refuge at the
NewsDay newspaper offices.

In Budiriro a resident, Abednico Munda, was assaulted by ZANU PF youths who
accused him of not following orders to attend the rally. In Epworth, schools
were closed and families were forced to wait for transport to the rally. At
the same time, most public transport in the capital was diverted from their
normal routes by ZANU PF thugs who, with the assistance of the police,
blocked roads and directed people to the rally. Dozens of open lorries and
buses were also seen heading to the venue, filled with ZANU PF youths
wearing party regalia and chanting the party’s slogans.

An eyewitness from Marondera, who was in Harare on Wednesday morning,
reported seeing about 10 trucks heading to the city from Marondera, loaded
with people being taken to the rally. The eyewitness said one truck was
filled with about 60 Vapostori church members, while about 40 ZANU PF youths
were seen sitting on the luggage rack of a crammed bus. The eyewitness added
that everyone else had their eyes averted, “trying to look inconspicuous.”

ZANU PF has for several weeks been forcing people to sign a petition,
calling for the targeted measures to be lifted. Mugabe on Wednesday
officially launched the campaign, and added his name to the petition along
with other top ZANU PF officials on the Western sanctions lists. The 87 year
old dictator told the rally that action should be taken against the
countries that have imposed the measures, once again blaming the ‘sanctions’
for Zimbabwe’s economic downfall. Mugabe said Zimbabwe is going to boycott
American and European products and take action against those British and
American companies operating in Zimbabwe.

“Standard Chartered (a UK based banking group) has been doing badly in
Europe, but doing best in Zimbabwe’s capital, Harare. Stanchart in Harare
has thus been externalising funds for the benefit of the branches in Europe.
We are going to make sure we take action against these European and American
banks operating in Zimbabwe, Stanchart and Barclays,” Mugabe said.

SW Radio Africa’s Muchemwa pointed out the irony of these statements,
explaining that the only British or American products in Zimbabwe are a
result of aid packages. These packages are still necessary in Zimbabwe
because of ZANU PF’s and Mugabe’s destructive policies. All other foreign
produce in Zimbabwe is there to fill the massive gap in the market that used
to be filled by local produce. Local production however has all but
disappeared as a result of Mugabe’s land grab campaign.

The MDC meanwhile has distanced itself from the rally, where ZANU PF
included Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and his deputy Thokozani Khupe on
the line-up of top figures set to sign the petition. Neither of the MDC
officials arrived at the rally, and the state media has been using this as a
reason to blast the party’s commitment to the unity government. The state
owned Herald reported that their no-show at the rally “will put under
further scrutiny the party's commitment to the Global Political Agreement in
which they pledged to oppose sanctions.”

But the MDC’s spokesman Nelson Chamisa insisted that the rally was merely a
ZANU PF project and platform, which was not supported by the MDC. He avoided
talking about the Global Political Agreement, and the fact that the MDC
signed off on the fact of targeted measures to be lifted. But he did slam
the ‘sanctions’ debate as “misbegotten and misguided.” He said that the
“targeted restrictive measures are symptoms of a bigger problem. That bigger
problem still exists.”

“ZANU PF is desperate to lend credence to its work after realising that the
majority of Zimbabweans will not support them. They used our party President
to try and lure people to an event, because on their own, they know no one
will turn up,” Chamisa said.

Meanwhile, another eyewitness at the rally said that it “gave a clear
indication of how people at present respond to the demand to attend a rally,
but are not prepared to remain or listen to the main speaker.” They said
that by 11:30 on Wednesday morning, groups of people started leaving, and
the numbers leaving continued to grow and reached a peak during Mugabe’s
speech, with people saying: "he has nothing new to say", "the fact that
there is some rain is not a problem, if he had something to say we would
stay", and "we are hungry and this does not interest us".


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Zimbabweans Promised Loans If They Sign Anti-Sanctions Petition

http://www.radiovop.com

02/03/2011 08:55:00

Harare, March 02, 2011 - President Robert Mugabe's Zanu (PF) party is
dangling loans ranging from US$ 100 dollars to more than US$ 1000 for
projects to unemployed ordinary Zimbabweans to mobilise people to sign a
petition to have sanctions on President Robert Mugabe and his inner circle
removed, Radio VOP has learnt.

Some party youths at the Siyaso market stalls in Mbare on Tuesday confirmed
that Zanu (PF) is promising to dish out thousands of dollars to Zanu PF
youths and ordinary people in return to have the sanctions petition signed
and to rally their support for the party.

"People are being promised loans for projects. Some people, we heard got
their loans approved. It depends on what you want to do, you need to write a
business project proposal and we hear some people already got their loans,"
one Mbare youth told Radio VOP on condition of anonymity.

"Some people want to have stands or a market stall stand at Mupedzanhamo and
we are being promised that we will have such things."

Zanu PF spokesperson, Rugare Gumbo denied the reports that people are being
forced to attend the anti-sanctions campaign and being paid to sign on the
petition describing the reports as 'nonsense'. He said preparations for the
anti-sanctions campaign were on course.

"That is nonsense. It is the usual propaganda that media and people say.
This is a voluntary programme and no-one is being forced to attend. I hope
when you cover the event tomorrow as media you will not say we forced you to
attend (referring to this correspondent)," Gumbo said.

Mugabe and his Zanu PF party will on Wednesday launch the 'anti-sanctions'
campaign in the capital Harare amid fears that people will be forced to
attend the meeting while business fears their shops will closed.

The European Union (EU) and its Western allies imposed sanctions on Mugabe
and his close associates for trampling on human rights of Zimbabweans and
electoral fraud among other reasons in 2002 after the presidential polls
which were condemned worldwide.

In 2008 Zanu PF supporters embarked on a 'million man' march in the capital,
forced businesses to close while people were forced to attend Mugabe's key
address. Trucks and lorries were hijacked to ferry people to Highfield after
Zanu PF supporters blocked cars and forced drivers to ferry people to
Highfield where Mugabe addressed the marchers.

The party which has been ruling the country since independence in 1980 is
already in an election campaign mood after declaring that elections must be
held this year.


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Mugabe’s propaganda petition, with the usual diet of thuggery and lies thrown in for good measure

http://www.sokwanele.com/thisiszimbabwe/archives/6406

Mugabe has launched an ‘anti-sanctions’ petition called the ‘National Anti-Sanctions Petition’ today. The Herald carries a lengthy piece citing numerous individuals apparently supporting this campaign, referring to it as a “step further in fighting the illegal Western sanctions on the country”. Mugabe would like the nation to believe that the sanctions applied by the West are not ‘targeted sanctions’ against a select number of corrupt human rights abusing individuals, but broad and sweeping against the whole country. According to some adverts appearing in the media, the Zanu PF claim is that the sanctions are not personalized or targeted but an attack on all Zimbabweans. It says that sanctions are an illegal measure by foreigners aimed at a sovereign people. In addition, it says that sanctions are an outsider’s policy set against an independent country and people with its own legislature.

The Herald, as usual, does its best to support it’s master’s message. (We, the people still waiting for the much needed media reforms to come out of the inclusive government!).

Assuming for a brief moment that Zanu PF have a point, and that these targeted sanctions (sorry Zanu PF, they are targeted) do have a terrible affect on the whole country, it leaves me with questions that nobody ever really seems to ask in the context of this claim: exactly how rich are these selected individuals against whom sanctions have been targeted? Is it possible that all the wealth and assets of our nation are concentrated in the hands of a tiny tiny few? Is it possible that by applying sanctions against these few it devastates the country? Is this the real truth (if there is any) in Zanu PF’s assertion that sanctions damage the country?

If my questions have any substance, it seems to me that the answers say less about the great ‘evil’ of the West, and a great deal more about the grand scale corruption and theft of national assets by a few.

Nevertheless, propaganda prevails and state-supported campaign goes on. New Zimbabwe reports that:

Trucks and buses carrying President Robert Mugabe’s supporters arrived Wednesday at the Glamis stadium field on the edge of the city center as a volatile mood mounted.

The supporters sang slogans and raised Mugabe’s trademark clenched fist salute; there were no immediate reports of violence.

The streets of the Harare CBD are business as usual, but the areas surrounding the Harare show grounds have been cordoned off, with an estimated 15 000 people gathering at the showgrounds to sign the sanctions petition. This morning’s ZBC showcased one story only, the anti sanctions campaign. The newscaster quoted the Head of State and Government and commander in chief as claiming the land reform has failed because British importers refuse to purchase Zimbabwe’s produce and insurance western insurance companies have orchestrated the downfall of tourism as they refuse to insure any travellers visiting our peaceful country.

It is very important to any dictator launching a public show of protest, that the TV screens and news photographs show thousands of supporters apparently supporting this message. A swell of numbers apparently lending truth and credibility to what we all really know is a pile of dung. It doesn’t really matter whether we do or do not want to support the campaign, and Zanu PF doesn’t really care either; the ‘appearance’ that we do is all important.

So the next step in any propaganda campaign is to bring on the thugs and brutes.

The word on the street is that businesses were visited by uniformed police this morning demanding that business owners and their staff attend the rally. Buses are forcing people to attend and several people going to work this morning were surrounded by unruly mobs, who rocked their vehicles, demanding they turn around and attend the Zanu PF launch.

The MDC announced this morning that

Most Harare public transporters have today been diverted from their normal routes by Zanu PF thugs who blocked roads with the help of the police to direct people towards their so-called anti-restrictive measures campaign. Dozens of open Lorries and rickety buses commandeered from the rural areas with youths donning Zanu PF outfits and chanting the party’s slogans could be seen heading towards the venue. In Mbare, the city’s oldest suburb, major public markets are closed. All vendors were forced to attend the so-called ceremony.

In addition to this, the MDC said:

Newspaper vendors in Harare city centre have been forced to flee for safety following an attack by Zanu PF terror gangs instructing them to attend the Zanu PF’s anti- restrictive measures campaign. One of the vendors was said to have been assaulted and could seen bleeding profusely. Another had to seek refuge at the Newsday newspaper offices.

And in this MDC alert:

In Budiriro, Zanu PF thugs have assaulted one Abednico Munda of Budiriro 3 accusing him of not following orders to attend the Zanu PF’s anti-restrictive measures campaign. He was then bundled into one of the vehicles diverted for Zanu PF campaign purpose. He managed to escape after a while to seek medical attention.

In Epworth, families have been gathered at an open space in Epworth to wait for transport to the show grounds in town. Schools were disrupted and reports from Epworth are that children fainted as they waited, in the sun, for public transport. They have been waiting for transport since 6am and could not get help as buses were diverted to the Zanu PF’s event.

Abednico Munda will have painfully learned that when it comes to propaganda and Zanu PF’s version of ‘truth’, the old adage that “the truth hurts” applies in the most literal sense of the phrase.

This morning’s ZBC news categorically stated that PM Tsvangirai and DPM Mutambara will publically sign the petition at the Harare showgrounds following the Head of State and Governent and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces puts down his signature. This appears to be another blatant lie. The MDC has been issuing press releases – alerts – doing all it can to distance itself from drivel issued by the state propaganda machine. They couldn’t be clearer than this:

Contrary to incessant ZBC broadcasts that President Tsvangirai is set to be on the line up of signatories to the Zanu PF violence petition, the MDC wishes to distance itself from such blatant lies. Neither President Tsvangirai nor any MDC officials and members are associated with this Zanu PF project. Zanu PF is desperate to lend credence to its work after realising that the majority of Zimbabweans, who support the MDC, have no business with a discredited party that lost the March 2008 general elections. The MDC dissociates itself from an unpopular and bloodthirsty Zanu PF – party responsible for mass terror, mass abuse and wholesale deaths of thousands of innocent Zimbabweans during the past 30 years.

One of our colleagues pointed to the irony of the so-called petition ‘protest’, pointing out that there were two protests this week. One was the rumoured ‘million citizen’ march (inspired by events in Tunisai, Egypt and Libya) and the other is this, the Zanu PF propaganda petition protest. He commented in an email:

The major difference between these two calls for “action” is that the anti-sanctions campaign will be “officially” launched by the Head of State and Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe defense forces. Therefore it will be deemed legal, and will be held at the Harare Agriculture Showground’s open car park. The other campaign was planned to be held at the Africa Unity square, just in front of the parliament of Zimbabwe. Clearly, this one will be illegal.

Another colleague believes that the hasty organisation of the propaganda petition launch highlights the ruling party’s paranoia of a Jasmine style of revolution, with both the streets of Harare and Bulawayo seeing a marked presence of police and military this week. The problem is, Zanu PF can force people to attend rallies, make them wave their fists in the air and chant their songs, but until they discover the magic tool that all politicians yearn for – controlling private thought – we will still always form our own quiet opinions and know what is really going on. It’s all smoke and mirrors.


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CZI, Bishops, Farmers Join Anti-sanctions Campaign

http://www.radiovop.com

02/03/2011 21:20:00

Harare, March 02, 2011 - The powerful Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries
(CZI), Bishops, and the Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union (ZCFU) have joined
President Robert Mugabe, in his anti-sanctions campaign which began on
Wednesday.

President Mugabe, leader of the former ruling party, Zanu (PF), reiterated
that "sanctions must go now" while addressing more than 3 000 Zanu (PF)
members in Harare.

President Mugabe said he would continue his crusade against the West despite
the fact that Zimbabwe was being isolated and not receiving balance of
support from international organisations. He said Zimbabwe was no longer a
colony and would go it alone if it demands that.

CZI President, Joseph Kanyekanye, Bishop Trevor Manhanga and Josiah Hungwe,
addressed the rowdy party youths telling them that they supported the
President in his vicious campaign.

CZI revealed that it would be supported by more than 300 members from the
organisation.

"I came here as a member of the CZI," Kanyekanye said."There is no such
thing as targeted sanctions. Sanctions have nothing to do with democracy and
they are affecting all of us. We must all say they must go and join
President Mugabe."

Kanyekanye said CZI members had signed a resolution at one of their meetings
to strongly support the anti-sanctions campaign.

He then signed the petition asking the West to lift international sanctions
against President Mugabe and Zimbabwe.

The sanctions were slapped on President Mugabe and his cronies because they
are alleged by the West of having abused human rights in Zimbabwe. The
leaders are also accused of bringing down Zimbabwe's economy resulting in
people becoming poor and unemployment soaring to more than 80 percent.

However, President Mugabe, maintains that the sanctions are affecting
virtually everyone in the country and it is not only him and his family who
are facing a torrid time with them.

The United States of America (USA), the United Kingdom (UK) recently renewed
the sanctions. They said they were still not convinced that things are
normal in Zimbabwe right now.

Bishops also supported President Mugabe as they were led by Zanu PF
functionary, Bishop Trevor Manhanga at the rally in Harare.

Manhanga said Zimbabweans cannot operate in a vacuum and "business must not
be business as usual".
"It is high time that we open up and free the challenge," he said.

Members from the Apostolic sect also attended the rally in droves and
dressed in their white regalia waving Zanu (PF) flags. They sang songs
praising President Mugabe.

Joseph Hungwe, President of the Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union (ZCFU)
also added his weight in the anti-sanctions campaign.

The ZCFU is the largest organisation for indigenous farmers headed by Hungwe
who has been at the helm for more than 30 years.

"We want 100 percent total empowerment," Hungwe told the audience dressed in
Zanu (PF) regalia. Before the rally began there was tight police presence in
Harare especially in the Central Business district (CBD) where it was
expected that some MDC would take to the streets to demand the removal of
President Mugabe who turned 87 last week.

He has been at the helm of Zimbabwe since April 18, 1980.

A senior member from the Government of Namibia said his government will also
sign a petition calling for the removal of sanctions against President
Robert Mugabe and his cronies.

The official who represented the South West African People's Organisation
(SWAPO) said: "Namibia will start a solidarity campaign in support of
President Mugabe and his government."

"We supported Zimbabwe and Zimbabwe supported us even during the days of the
struggle."

The official then signed the petition in Harare after the four hour rally
making him the first official from neighbouring countries to do so


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Mugabe Says Zimbabwe Should Seize U.K Companies, Boycott Their Products

http://www.bloomberg.com/

By Nelson Gore Banya and Brian Latham - Mar 3, 2011 4:50 AM GMT+1000

President Robert Mugabe said Zimbabwe should move quickly to take over
British companies operating in the southern African nation and called on
people to boycott their products.

Mugabe was speaking at a rally to demand the European Union and U.S. lift
sanctions against him and senior members of his Zimbabwe African National
Union-Patriotic Front party. Mugabe says the sanctions were responsible for
a decade-long recession that ended last year.

“It is not enough to speak against sanctions,” Mugabe told the rally in the
capital, Harare, today. “We can’t keep hosting more than 400 British firms
here, including mines.” It is “now time to take measures against them.”

Barclays Plc and Standard Chartered Plc are among the British companies
operating in Zimbabwe, alongside miners Anglo American Plc and Rio Tinto
Plc. A new Indigenization and Empowerment Act, which has been approved by
lawmakers, will compel foreign and white-owned businesses to cede 51 percent
of their shares to black Zimbabweans.

“I have said the indigenization and empowerment process should start with
those firms,” Mugabe said, referring to British companies. “We must take
them over. We can also boycott their products.”

The U.K.’s Foreign Office described the move as “irresponsible,” and said in
an e-mailed statement that it will “deter much needed foreign investment.”
The comments were echoed by Prime Minister David Cameron.

“We have made clear to the Zimbabwean authorities on a number of occasions
that they shouldn’t do anything to undermine investor confidence or Zimbabwe’s
fragile economic recovery,” Cameron’s spokesman Steve Field said today. “The
biggest losers would be the Zimbabwean people themselves.”

Mugabe’s Zanu-PF has shared power with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s
Movement for Democratic Change since Feb. 2009 after violence-marred
elections failed to give either leader an outright victory.


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UK announces 15% increase in aid to Zim

http://www.thezimbabwean.co.uk

Written by Own correspondent
Wednesday, 02 March 2011 12:53

LONDON - On 1 March, Andrew Mitchell MP, Britain’s Secretary of State for
International Development, announced a 15% increase in the British
Government’s bilateral aid programme in Zimbabwe, from just over $110
million (70 million) in 2010/11 to almost $130 million (80 million) this
coming year. The news was part of Mitchell’s announcement on the future of
the United Kingdom’s global aid programme over the next four years.
According to forecasts from the UK’s Department for International
Development (DFID), the aid programme in Zimbabwe is set to increase to over
$150 million (95 million) by 2014/15. Mitchell also made clear that
Britain stands ready to offer more help if the Inclusive Government
implements the reforms promised in the Global Political Agreement and holds
credible elections.
Ambassador Mark Canning said: “This is great news for ordinary Zimbabweans.
We have a proven track record of delivering benefits to Zimbabwe and now we
will be able to do even more. We will, for example, be able to improve food
security for an additional 500,000 people; support 420,000 children to
complete five years of primary school; create jobs for 125,000 people (two
thirds of whom will be women) and help provide one million people with
access to clean drinking water. Amidst so much political propaganda around
the issue of so-called sanctions, this demonstrates yet again that the
United Kingdom is firmly committed to supporting Zimbabwe and improving the
lives of the most disadvantaged.”
Over the next four years the UK’s development programme in Zimbabwe will
focus on health, particularly maternal and child health, on education, on
increasing access to safe water and sanitation and on continuing to build
livelihoods for the most vulnerable.
Mitchell’s announcement was part of a major shake-up of the UK’s aid
programme, designed to ensure that UK aid was focused more tightly on the
countries where British assistance can have a significant long-term impact
on poverty. The UK’s contributions to multilateral development
organisations were also scrutinised.
By 2016, DFID will have bilateral programmes in the following countries
only – Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Burma, Democratic Republic of Congo,
Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Liberia, Malawi, Mozambique,
Nepal, Nigeria, Occupied Palestinian Territories, Pakistan, Rwanda, Sierra
Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Uganda, Yemen,
Zambia and Zimbabwe.
DFID’s bilateral programmes in the following countries will come to an end –
Angola, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Burundi, Cameroon, Cambodia, China, Gambia,
Indonesia, Iraq, Kosovo, Lesotho, Moldova, Niger, Russia, Serbia and
Vietnam.
Following the review, the following four organisations have been rated as
providing poor value for money and will no longer receive DFID core
funding – the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the UN International
Strategy for Disaster Reduction, UN-HABITAT and the UN Industrial
Development Organisation (UNIDO).
The following organisations will be placed in ‘special measures’ – the
International Organisation for Migration (IOM), the Food and Agriculture
Organisation (FAO), the development programmes of the Commonwealth
Secretariat, and UNESCO.
For more information on the UK’s new aid priorities, please go to:
http://www.dfid.gov.uk/barmar .


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Nationalization not government policy

http://www.swradioafrica.com/

Wednesday, 02 March 2011

The MDC dismisses, as false, the latest threats by Zanu PF indicating that
the inclusive government plans to nationalize foreign businesses and hand
them over to a minority section of Zimbabweans. For the record, it is not
government policy to forcibly seize foreign owned businesses under the guise
of indigenization.

At a party marking his 87th birthday, Robert Mugabe said the government
would target South African backed platinum giant, Zimplats, and the Swiss
milk processor ,Nestle, for nationalization because, in his view, they were
looting the nation’s prime resources.

With respect to the latter (Nestle) the specific reason he gave was that
they refused to purchase milk products from Gushungo Dairies- an entity
owned by his family. We find this not only strange but also disturbing.
Strange because normal business practice is that a consumer is free to
exercise their choice relating to which product to purchase. In making such
choices, consumers normally take into account a variety of factors
especially the quality of the product within the context of their own
specifications, and of course, the price.

Could these be the critical factors that informed Nestle’s decision we
wonder? Disturbing because he is clearly using his position as President to
threaten Nestle with that type of action simply for exercising their right
to choose?

With respect to the former (Zimplats), Robert Mugabe’s accusations that
“Zimplats has never given us any substantial money…they are taking all the
money to South Africa”, are not only based on inaccurate information but are
also disingenuous.

Available information suggests that Zimplats have always operated within the
framework of Zimbabwe’s tax legislation, and more importantly, have recently
announced a US$500 million investment and expansion plan for this country.
This, in our view, is clearly not “…taking all the money to South Africa”
especially as their reported profits for the half year to December 2010 were
US$85 million. Disingenuous, because we are aware of their commendable
social responsibility policy whereby they have constructed various
community-related projects such as hospitals, Clinics and Schools in their
areas of operation. The donation of a mortuary to the Zvishavane government
hospital and the construction of a School in that area by their subsidiary,
Mimosa Platinum mine, are cases in point.

We wish to advise the people of Zimbabwe that the legal and policy position
of the Inclusive Government has no provision for this kind of disruptive
behavior by Robert Mugabe. One of the key political drivers underpinning the
Inclusive Government is the need for economic stabilization and growth.
Clearly his utterances are inimical to this. Economic growth is only
possible where more investors, both local and foreign, are encouraged to set
up shop in Zimbabwe rather than being driven away through statements which
cause uncertainty and raise risk perceptions in their minds.

An MDC government will encourage foreign direct investment in this country
subject to the investors’ commitments to: operating within acceptable
corporate governance practices, maintaining healthy and safe working
environments, ensuring the sustainable use of natural resources,
guaranteeing fair returns to all stakeholders and cultivating a high moral
and social conscience consistent with acceptable labour relations and social
justice.

The MDC finds Mugabe’s statements confused and contradictory. Recently when
he opened the “One Stop Shop” at the Zimbabwe Investment Authority, he
appealed for increased foreign direct investment. Today, he has shifted his
position calling for the wholesale takeover of existing business entities.

We in the MDC are for the creation of an enabling environment for greater
investment, respect for private business initiatives, encouraging
Zimbabweans to lawfully expand the economic cake, rather than shrink it
further by plundering the few existing companies struggling to take off
after years of politically induced economic stagnation, hyperinflation,
economic mismanagement and endemic corruption.

Mr. Mfandaidza Hove
MDC Secretary for Industry and Commerce

--
MDC Information & Publicity Department


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Zimbabwe says UN rights chief biased, insulting

http://af.reuters.com

Wed Mar 2, 2011 3:53pm GMT

* Justice minister dismisses Pillay criticism

* Suggests she "pawn" of West

By Robert Evans

GENEVA, March 2 (Reuters) - Zimbabwe on Wednesday accused United Nations
human rights chief Navi Pillay of being biased against the country and
suggested she was a pawn of Western efforts to undermine President Robert
Mugabe.

Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa, a longtime Mugabe loyalist, launched the
attack against Pillay, a South African former judge at the international
criminal court, after she criticised arrests in Zimbabwe last week.

"We take great exception to the biased, mischievous and partisan stance that
the person of the High Commissioner has taken over the years with respect to
our country," Chinamasa told the U.N. Human Rights Council.

Zimbabwe was determined "to ensure that the (Pillay) office is immunised
from being used as a pawn in the wider political game," he declared.

Like many other African and Asian countries, many of them members of the
47-member rights council, Zimbabwe has been increasingly angered at Pillay's
outspoken defence of the right to free speech around the world.

But the long-ruling Mugabe and close aides are also believed to be alarmed
at the decision last Friday by the rights body, of which Zimbabwe is not
currently a member, to ask the U.N. General Assembly to suspend Libya's
membership.

The dominant non-aligned movement (NAM) bloc in the council normally shields
other developing countries from any serious criticism and only three months
ago hailed Colonel Muammar Gaddafi's Libya as a model of human rights
observance.

Zimbabwe itself comes up for a review of its rights record in the body later
this year.

Diplomats from less authoritarian members of the bloc say Zimbabwe and some
other NAM members fear the action against Libya -- confirmed in the General
Assembly on Tuesday -- could be a precedent for action against them.

In a statement on Monday, Pillay said the arrests last week of 46 people
attending a discussion meeting in Harare on recent events in Egypt and
Tunisia -- where popular protests have led to the ousting of presidents --
were illegal.

"These arrests appear to be part of a growing crackdown on civil society and
members of the political opposition, and are a clear sign that the
establishment of a consolidated democracy in Zimbabwe is still very far from
assured," she said.

Chinamasa said the detainees were held for "organising activities aimed at
subverting a lawful government." Pillay's comments were "tantamount to
interference in the judicial process and demonstrate a contempt for our
institutions."


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Political Doubt Hits Zimbabwe Investors

http://online.wsj.com/

By FARAI MUTSAKA in Harare, Zimbabwe and PETER WONACOTT in Johannesburg

A daily stream of multinational executives ask Zimbabwe's Industry and
Commerce minister the same question: Does President Robert Mugabe plan to
seize my company?

"I can't give them any firm assurance," said the minister, Welshman Ncube,
who belongs to the Movement for Democratic Change, one of three political
parties that form Zimbabwe's fragile coalition government. "That is always
going to be difficult when we have people in government who are speaking
strongly in favor of takeovers."

Indigenization Minister Saviour Kasukuwere, who works a few floors above in
the same building, had a different answer. He said companies from Western
nations targeting Mr. Mugabe and his allies with sanctions are likely
candidates for a majority local acquisition, or "indigenization," as it's
known under an embryonic Zimbabwean law. That stance is sowing doubt among
investors.

"Hostile Western countries are not showing any signs of relenting, and the
only way to protect ourselves against that hostility is by making sure those
companies are in the hands of local people," said Mr. Kasukuwere, who
belongs to Mr. Mugabe's Zanu-PF party.

On Tuesday, Mr. Mugabe, who has ruled the country since 1987, faced not only
external pressure but the threat of protests by local opposition groups. A
heavy police and military presence that included armored cars, trucks of
riot police and water-cannon vehicles appeared to be effective in deterring
the planned antigovernment protests in Harare, the capital. Activists who
tried to organize via Facebook and mobile phones said they were inspired by
the ongoing Middle-East protests.

Mr. Mugabe doesn't tolerate gatherings of political opponents. Zimbabwe's
security forces recently arrested 45 political activists for allegedly
plotting to end his rule. The U.S. embassy called on Zimbabwe's government
to investigate allegations the activists were tortured.

On Wednesday, Mr. Mugabe will continue efforts to halt the Western sanctions
with a mass rally in Harare. His party aims to get two million people—or
about one-sixth the country's population—to sign a petition to protest the
measures.

Zimbabwe's president has resorted to draconian economic measures before to
drum up political support. In 2000, he allowed his supporters to seize
white-owned farms ahead of elections.Amid the war of words over foreign
investment in Zimbabwe, the economy is suffering collateral damage. Foreign
companies have been considering exit strategies, scaling back or not
investing in the south ern African country renowned for its mineral riches,
fertile farmland and educated workforce.

Following violent elections in 2008, Mr. Mugabe and his political rival,
Morgan Tsvangirai, were forced into a coalition government, with Mr.
Tsvangirai becoming prime minister. Mr. Mugabe has argued for elections this
year, while Mr. Tsvangirai has said constitutional reforms must be tackled
first. The two are also butting heads over the indigenization law, with Mr.
Tsvangirai warning that expropriation of assets will scare away investors.

The prospect that the fractious "unity government" could break up and lead
to elections this year is heightening uncertainty among investors.

South Africa's Massmart Holdings, a company Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is in talks
to buy to pave its way into the Africa's billion-person market, said it was
in the process of selling two of its stores in Zimbabwe to a local retailer.
A Massmart spokesperson cited uncertainty over the indigenization law.

"Zimbabwe is not ready for prime time," said R. Michael Jones, CEO of
Platinum Group Metals, a group that has invested heavily in South Africa but
is steering clear of its neighbor despite its massive platinum reserves.
"Until there's a change in the business environment, we won't be investing
there."

Aside from depriving a weak economy of capital and jobs, the investor
caution also means Zimbabwe's factory and mines often aren't getting
technical upgrades needed to stay competitive, analyts say.

The Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries says factories on average are
operating at 30% capacity because of lack of lending and the reluctance of
foreign firms to invest in their Zimbabwe subsidiaries.

Zimbabwe's economy grew 8.1 % in 2010 compared to 5.1% the prior year thanks
to a confidence-building political settlement and the introduction of the
U.S. dollar as an official currency. Officials and economists say the figure
would have been far higher without the controversy around the indigenization
law.

"Industry is suffocating," said the confederation's president, Joseph
Kanyekanye.

Write to Peter Wonacott at peter.wonacott@wsj.com


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Tsvangirai urges SADC & AU to act on violence in Zimbabwe

http://www.swradioafrica.com/

By Tichaona Sibanda
2 March 2011

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai on Wednesday expressed serious concern at
the ongoing crackdown against MDC MPs, supporters and pro-democracy
activists.

Scores of activists, including the co-chairman of COPAC Douglas Mwonzora and
the leader of the International Socialist Organisation of Zimbabwe
Munyaradzi Gwisai (a former MP for the MDC in the Highfield constituency in
Harare) have been arrested as a result of nationwide police raids.

‘State security agents such as the police, the army and the Central
Intelligence Organisation have become part of a cabal that is at the centre
of a well-orchestrated partisan operation to instil fear in the people of
Zimbabwe.

‘The arrest of Munyaradzi Gwisai and 45 others, Douglas Mwonzora and 23
others in Nyanga and many other innocent villagers and activists across the
country is at the centre of impunity, violence and the selective application
of the law which has conspired to poison the political atmosphere in the
country,’ Tsvangirai said in statement.

The Prime Minister said the MDC side of government does not believe that the
government is under threat from its citizens to the extent of detaining
people for watching a video.

‘We urge SADC, the African Union and the international community at large to
keep an eye on Zimbabwe. The country risks sliding over the precipice if the
guarantors of the GPA do not take immediate action to come up with a binding
roadmap as a precondition ahead of the next election,’ he said.

Tsvangirai’s plea to SADC and the AU comes as pro-democracy groups expressed
fears that the former ruling ZANU PF party is now grossly interfering with
the criminal justice system, to tackle its political adversaries.

With Robert Mugabe firmly in control of all the security and military
services in Zimbabwe, the ZANU PF leader is being accused of overseeing a
broad crackdown on pro-democracy activists, including several legislators
from the MDC-T.

At least 71 political detainees are currently in custody, charged with
offenses including treason, violence and organising political gatherings
without police authority.

On Tuesday police in Harare also summoned National Constitutional Assembly
(NCA) chairperson Lovemore Madhuku to stand trial for allegedly organising a
demonstration in 2006.

Women and Men of Zimbabwe Arise reported Wednesday that seven of their
activists arrested on Tuesday appeared in court and were granted bail with
reporting conditions. Fourteen other activists arrested Tuesday afternoon
were released the same day without charge.

The crackdown started in Nyanga North two weeks ago when police arrested
Mwonzora plus 23 villagers aligned to his party. The cooked-up charges
related to public violence, but even though all 24 were granted bail the
Mugabe regime invoked controversial legislation to suspend the bail order.

Last week Friday MDC-99 faction leader Job Sikhala was arrested by heavily
armed police who initially claimed they wanted to question him over
statements made on his Facebook page.

The former MP for St Mary’s was then accused of being behind planned street
protests set for 1st March. Police later charged Sikhala with kidnapping,
alleging this is linked to a diamond deal that went wrong.

On the 19th February police units broke into a meeting in Harare and
arrested Gwisai and 45 activists who were watching video footage of protests
in the Middle East and North Africa.

A discussion on the protests was later held before police disrupted the
meeting. The regime charged them with treason last week and promptly
tortured the alleged ring leaders, including Gwisai.

A number of other people currently in detention have also been tortured.

Harare Magistrate Munamato Mutevedzi on Tuesday ordered prison authorities
to allow private medical practitioners to examine and treat the 45 social
and human rights activists who were subjected to torture while in police
custody and those whose health has been compromised as a result of
disruption to the administration of their medication.
A fuming defence Lawyer, Alec Muchadehama told us that none of his clients
had been allowed to be examined by their doctors by Wednesday.

‘As I’m speaking to you now, I’m coming from the prison complex were my
clients have all been locked up into their cells without been seen by their
doctors. The excuse that I got from prison officers is that they’ve not yet
seen the directive from the magistrate to allow them to let our clients be
medically examined.

‘So we have gone back to the Attorney-General’s office to register our
displeasure at this delaying tactic, so we hope they will transmit that
directive as soon as possible to allow our clients to be examined urgently,
including those that have existing medical conditions,’ Muchadehama said.

Political analyst Promise Mkwananzi told SW Radio Africa on Wednesday that
Mugabe and ZANU PF’s repression went far wider than just arrests of
activists countrywide.

‘We are now seeing a political party in government that lost the mandate of
the people two years ago waging a systematic and brutal crackdown to try and
regain lost ground. Security forces have arrested, tortured and detained
peaceful citizens of this country.

‘The crackdown has frightened Zimbabwe and it has exposed ZANU PF’s real
face, and has proved that it is out to muzzle all the voices crying out for
freedom,’ Mkwananzi said.

Mkwananzi claimed ZANU PF was creating thuggish provincial ‘hit squads’
around the country as a kind of private militia, adding they (ZANU PF) are
using their militia as a strike force against Mugabe’s enemies and
opponents.


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Women of Zimbabwe Arise Hunted by Police

http://blog.amnestyusa.org
Posted by: Sarah Hager, March 1, 2011 at 3:28 PM

Women of Zimbabwe Arise marching in Harare, Zimbabwe

In the last two days, members of civil rights organization WOZA have been targeted and arrested by police in Zimbabwe. Seven members of WOZA and MOZA (Men of Zimbabwe Arise) were arrested yesterday at private homes. They were not engaging in any activity in violation of the law, although three are accused of smoking marijuana based on having “black hands.”

One of the women arrested yesterday is a nursing mother who has been denied access to her child. When visited today by family, several of those arrested indicated they were subjected to beatings on the soles of their feet. This is a torture method called falanga and is a common instrument in the torture arsenal of Zimbabwe police.

Today, 14 more women were arrested. Four are WOZA members, the other 10 are not. They were merely in the wrong place at the wrong time. The wrong place was a meeting to contribute $1 to a burial society fund. At this time, not all of these women are accounted for as they have been taken to several different police stations. According to WOZA “police officers, some in full riot gear, visited the homes of another 6 members but they were not home.”

This is clear evidence of the increasing harassment and intimidation of civil society. I also believe the Zimbabwe police are actively hunting for WOZA leadership (but this is my personal opinion so please take it as such). At this time, we are not instituting any action until we have further information but please continue to press President Zuma of South Africa to ensure anticipated voting in Zimbabwe is free, fair and without further violence. I will update with more information when available.


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WOZA leader says protests need proper planning

http://www.swradioafrica.com/

By Lance Guma
03 March 2011

Zimbabwean activists are “not as committed to the hard underground work that
needs to be done” in order to organize successful protests against the
Mugabe regime. This was the damning verdict of Jenni Williams, the leader of
the pressure group Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA).
On Wednesday Williams was taking questions from SW Radio Africa listeners on
the Question Time programme and said those who attempted to organise the
protest marches that flopped on Tuesday were not ‘genuine’ in their efforts.
In response to the internet campaigns that called for Mugabe to be forced
out of office, hordes of heavily armed soldiers and riot police were
deployed in the cities.

“They think if you just send an e-mail saying ‘Million Citizen March’ people
will suddenly be millions in the street. It doesn’t work like that, it did
not work like that in Tunisia, Egypt and other African countries.” Williams
said protest marches on such a scale needed “years of mobilization,
workshopping, meetings, educating people and setting up forums to discuss
how they will be executed”.

“I really question whether the person behind it (Million Citizen March) was
genuine. If they were genuine they would have started mobilizing on the
ground, which there was no evidence of,” Williams said. She added that apart
from everyone in the country not having access to the internet and facebook,
“Zimbabweans are extremely stressed and focused on surviving on a day to day
basis.”

Responding to a question that WOZA were not ‘team players’ and did not
engage other pressure groups, Williams said they have in fact engaged many
other groups but serious infighting in civil society put paid to such
efforts. She gave the example of how various groups went their separate ways
over whether to take part in, or resist, a government backed
constitution-making exercise.
NB: You can listen to the full interview with Jenni Williams on Question
Time.


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Magistrate too busy to deal with case of detained activists

http://www.swradioafrica.com

By Lance Guma
02 March 2011

A Harare magistrate says he is too busy to attend to a case involving 45
trade union and student activists, arrested on the 19th February and charged
with treason for watching video footage of protests in Egypt and Tunisia.

On Monday the same magistrate failed to turn up for a scheduled hearing
claiming he was attending a meeting. It was later revealed that the Monday
meeting, cited as an excuse, was in fact held with Chief Justice Godfrey
Chidyausiku, who allegedly ‘summoned’ the magistrate for unexplained
reasons.

The delaying tactics continued on Tuesday as Mutevedzi said he will only
deliver a ruling on the 7th March because he will be not be available in
court due to some ‘prior commitments.’
Defence lawyer Alec Muchadehama told SW Radio Africa that they were
wondering what was more important; the welfare of their clients, some who
are on anti-retroviral medication and some badly tortured, or the ‘prior
commitments’ of the magistrate.

Gwisai, a former MP in Prime Minister Tsvangirai’s MDC party, was arrested
alongside 45 other student and trade union activists for holding a meeting
at which footage of protests in the Middle East and North Africa was shown
and later discussed. One of the activists arrested was released on Thursday
after apparently ‘defecting’ and deciding to write an affidavit as a state
witness.


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MDC MP Harassed Over "Million March"

http://www.radiovop.com/

02/03/2011 11:59:00

Bulawayo, March 02, 2011 - The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T)
legislator for Bulawayo Central Dorcas Sibanda was on Tuesday arrested on
allegations of organising a meeting to support an anti-government million
march.

Since last week online campaigns had been circulated by email and on the
social networking website Facebook, calling on Zimbabweans to take part in a
‘Million Citizens March’ on Tuesday. The aim of the protest was to call for
Robert Mugabe to step down from power, just like similar civil uprisings in
Tunisia, Egypt and Libya.

However some overzealous police officers in Bulawayo arrested Sibanda at
Holiday Inn hotel in the city where she was having a meeting with Mpilo
hospital staff and Ministry of Health officials. The meeting was meant to
organise a fundraising event for the dilapidated government hospital.

“It was just a small meeting to organise a fundraising event for the
hospital but were surprised when police in riot gear stormed the hotel
before arresting me and officials from Health Ministry,” Sibanda who was
detained for more than five hours at Bulawayo Central police station told
Radio VOP after release.

Sibanda and five Ministry of Health officials who were accused of support
the anti-government march and were also charged with holding a meeting
without police clearance. They were only released after the intervention of
their lawyers.

On Monday heavily armed police in riot gear also went on rampage in Bulawayo
central business district beating up people for standing in groups over the
one million march.

Last week former MDC legislator for Highfield Munyaradzi Gwisai and 44 other
human rights activists were arrested and charged with trying to oust
President Robert Mugabe after being found watching videos of the Egyptian
and Tunisian revolution in Harare. There are still languishing in remand
prison after denied bail by a Harare Magistrate.


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Keep an eye on Zimbabwe: Tsvangirai appeals

http://www.newzimbabwe.com/

02/03/2011 00:00:00
by Staff Reporter

PRIME Minister Morgan Tsvangirai appealed to world leaders to “keep an eye
on Zimbabwe” as he warned the country “risks sliding over the precipice” if
elections were called without “a binding roadmap”.

Tsvangirai said Zimbabwe’s security services -- the police, the army and the
Central Intelligence Organisation – “have become part of a cabal that is at
the centre of a well-orchestrated partisan operation to instill fear in the
people of Zimbabwe” as President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF party beats the
election drum.

“Those who have been in power here for decades, and have repressed and
stolen from the Zimbabwean people, have committed to change and have signed
up to specific reforms and principles,” Tsvangirai said in Harare on
Wednesday.

“Sadly, they continue to flout those obligations, and renege on those
undertakings. They continue to use their more familiar tools of violence and
intimidation.”

But the MDC leader, who entered a coalition with President Robert Mugabe and
a smaller MDC splinter group in 2009, insisted he was “not advocating giving
up" on the unity government.

Tsvangirai spoke as dozens of opposition supporters and rights activists
remained in prison after being arrested across the country on allegations of
plotting to destabilise the government.

“The MDC side of government does not believe that this government is under
threat from its citizens to the extent of detaining people for watching a
video,” Tsvangirai said in reference to the former MDC MP Munyaradzi Gwisai,
and 44 others, who are held on treason charges after police stormed a
February 18 meeting where they were watching videos of north African
uprisings which forced a change of government in Egypt and Tunisia.

The Prime Minister added: “We do not believe that ordinary Zimbabweans
should be victimised because others in government have an inherent fear of
the people.

“The arrest of Gwisai and 45 others, Hon Douglas Mwonzora and 23 others in
Nyanga and many other innocent villagers and activists across the country is
at the centre of impunity, violence and the selective application of the law
which has conspired to poison the political atmosphere in the country.”

Tsvangirai once again appealed to the Southern African Development
Community, guarantors of the power sharing pact, to lean on President Robert
Mugabe to reign in his shock troops and sign up to a cross-party “roadmap”
to guarantee the credibility of elections which Zanu PF says will be held
this year.

But Mugabe says he has given enough concessions to the MDC without
reciprocal action, demanding that Tsvangirai does more to campaign for
western sanctions on the country to be lifted -- a key Zanu PF demand in the
coalition agreement.


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Chinese spy centre taps diplomats?

http://www.thezimbabwean.co.uk

Written by Chief Reporter
Wednesday, 02 March 2011 14:55

The Chinese are building a multimillion dollar military base at Chitamba
Farm in Mazowe Valley. Touted as an intelligence academy, the new facility
is the largest investment in a military base here in a decade, and the
biggest spend on military infrastructure in decades.

The so-called Robert Mugabe National School of Intelligence, named after the
veteran President, is being bankrolled by the Chinese.

"The important role of defending our country cannot be left to mediocre
officers incapable of comprehending and analytically evaluating the
operational environment to ensure that the sovereignty of our state is not
only preserved, but enhanced," Mugabe said at the launch of the building of
the academy in October 2007.

Military sources described it as "a techno-spy and communication base". The
imposing intelligence facility is conspicuous from the Mazowe Road and is
adjacent to a massive farming operation.

The facility is the largest such complex in the country, and will be
operated by the Chinese and its foreign intelligence service in conjunction
with Zimbabwe's spy organ, the CIO and local military intelligence.

The facility covers several square miles. Chinese engineers, technicians,
and military personnel are working at the base. Our source claimed the base
has multiple groups of tracking dishes and its own satellite system, with
some groups used to intercept telephone calls, faxes, and computer
communications in general, and other groups used to cover targeted
telephones and devices.

He said the facility will also monitor diplomatic, domestic, commercial and
military communications, but we could not independently verify these claims.
However, China does have a strong presence in many sectors in Zimbabwe, and
Chinese companies ZTE and Huawei have supplied most of the country’s
internet equipment.

The academy is expected to train members of the Zimbabwean army, CIO and
police, as well as operatives from other southern African countries. A local
farmer said: "It’s scary to have your area just taken over by the military.
It’s a game changer in this place."

Ties between the two countries date back to the 1960s - when the Chinese
supported Zanla, the military wing of Zanu, with training and equipment -
have deepened since Zimbabwe's political isolation from the West more than a
decade ago.

China has been described as the "only major international supporter" of
Zimbabwe, due to its willingness to turn a blind eye to human rights abuses.
Zimbabwe's "Look East" policy has expanded bilateral and trade relations and
China is now the biggest buyer of Zimbabwean tobacco. It is also especially
interested in our platinum and diamond deposits.

The government has used military hardware from China to wage war against its
own people. It has purchased massive amounts of military hardware from
China, including a $13 million radar system, six Hongdu JL-8 jet aircraft,
12 JF-17 Thunder fighter aircraft, and more than 200 military vehicles since
June 2004 – reportedly using the new-found diamond wealth.


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Statement by Rt Hon Morgan R Tsvangirai,President of the Movement for Democratic Change and Prime Minister of the Republic of Zimbabwe

Wednesday, 02 March 2011

ZIMBABWE'S MARCH TO REAL CHANGE

We meet today against the backdrop of significant happenings elsewhere in Africa. However, in Zimbabwe we are experiencing a new wave of repression against the people’s universal right to free choice and free expression.

The past five months have seen a significant rise in the culture of impunity and violence against the people of this country all in the name of an election. Suffice to say that we have not even begun to implement the Global Political Agreement and all the parties to the inclusive government have yet to adopt a roadmap as a precondition to a free and fair election in Zimbabwe.

It is in the context of the on-going culture of impunity and violence that we have seen people being frog-marched across the country and in the urban centres to attend a Zanu PF function in Harare today. Businesses have been forced to close while motorists and commuter omnibus operators have been diverted from their routes to make the numbers at this function, in clear violation of the GPA where the rights of citizens are supposed to be respected in light of the new inclusive dispensation.

Indeed, no section of the GPA is more important than the other. It is in recognition of the people’s basic rights and freedoms that I and the party I lead find it despicable that people would be arrested for watching videos of happenings elsewhere in the world, videos of events that are already in the public domain. We shudder at the culture of impunity and the renewed wave of arrests of MDC MPs and political and civic activists detained in our prisons while Zanu PF perpetrators of violence roam free.

State security agents such as the police, the army and the Central Intelligence Organisation have become part of a cabal that is at the centre of a well-orchestrated partisan operation to instil fear in the people of Zimbabwe. The arrest of Munyaradzi Gwisai and 45 others, Hon Douglas Mwonzora and 23 others in Nyanga and many other innocent villagers and activists across the country is at the centre of impunity, violence and the selective application of the law which has conspired to poison the political atmosphere in the country.

The MDC side of government does not believe that this government is under threat from its citizens to the extent of detaining people for watching a video. We do not believe that ordinary Zimbabweans should be victimised because others in government have an inherent fear of the people.

We urge SADC, the African Union and the international community at large to keep an eye on Zimbabwe. The country risks sliding over the precipice if the guarantors of the GPA do not take immediate action to come up with a binding roadmap as a precondition ahead of the next election.

People across the world, including Zimbabwe, yearn for their right to make political choices with neither fear nor coercion. They reserve their rights of expression, movement and assembly. The people are the real government and they have the universal authority and mandate to make a statement to any government.

As president of the MDC, the people’s party of freedom and real change in Zimbabwe, I would like to state that violence against the people must stop. Events elsewhere on the continent provide the fundamental lesson that repression has its lifespan.. And there is only one right result: freedom.

All people, Africans, Asians, Arabs, Americans, Europeans alike… desire and deserve freedom. They do not deserve dictatorship and repression, nor violence and abuse at the hands of the State and the leaders who should serve them. I have no doubt that, eventually, all repressed people will gain the freedom which they deserve. The inexorable march of liberation can be seen and felt today, stronger and louder than for many years.

The courage and dignity of repressed peoples can be seen and felt on the streets of this continent. And this is why I also wish to applaud the determination of the United Nations and the leaders of the world to support those people who suffer at the hands of tyrants and dictators.

The people of Africa have created this march to freedom and it will succeed. We have a process in place here, which is supposed to be guaranteed and supported by other countries of this region.

Those who have been in power here for decades, and have repressed and stolen from the Zimbabwean people, have committed to change and have signed up to specific reforms and principles. Sadly, they continue to flout those obligations, and renege on those undertakings. They continue to use their more familiar tools of violence and intimidation. But I am not advocating giving up on that process.

I still believe that, if SADC, fellow African countries and the international community show the right will and the right commitment to Zimbabwe, we can secure freedom here too, and do so peacefully.

What is needed is no more and no less than the full respect and the full implementation of the Global Political Agreement.

In other words,:

Across this continent, whether in Libya, in the Ivory Coast or in Zimbabwe or elsewhere, what is at stake is freedom and dignity. Let us stand by our brothers and sisters as they fight for their freedom and dignity.

We in the MDC want peace to return in Zimbabwe, the land of our birth.
God bless Africa. God bless Zimbabwe.

I thank you


--
MDC Information & Publicity Department


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WILF MBANGA: We need to keep telling Zimbabwe’s stories

http://www.businessday.co.za

‘Zimbabwe is like a tinderbox. Everybody is afraid. Mugabe and his generals
are particularly terrified’
Published: 2011/03/02 06:59:27 AM

LAST weekend, 46 individuals met in Harare to discuss lessons to be learnt
from the developments in North Africa. Suffering under the oppressive
31-year yoke of President Robert Mugabe, the participants felt particularly
keenly the victories of the masses over long- time dictators Hosni Mubarak
in Egypt and Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali in Tunisia.

Those 46 people, who include 11 women, are now bloodied and beaten in Mugabe’s
jails. Ten have been tortured in an attempt to extract confessions that they
were planning Egypt-style uprisings to end Mugabe’s rule. All were initially
denied access to their lawyers and medical help. They have now been charged
with treason and face death by hanging if found guilty.

This iron-fisted overreaction by Mugabe shows the level of his panic. Ever
since the North African protests gathered momentum, the state-controlled
radio, television and newspapers that dominate the media landscape in
Zimbabwe have downplayed the news. Sycophantic Zanu (PF) columnists have
been given hundreds of column centimetres to pontificate that such things
could never happen in Zimbabwe — and if anyone dared try, the army was ready
and willing to use maximum force to crush them.

Desperate for information, Zimbabweans are watching satellite television and
reading whatever independent news they can get hold of. Newspaper readership
is much higher than circulation figures suggest — week-old newspapers are
passed on and read avidly, eventually making their way to the remotest rural
areas. The good news is that 4- million Zimbabweans have cellphones and
SMSes are a key form of communication.

Fighting for the right to inform the people about what is happening in their
own and other countries are a few independent newspapers and foreign-based
radio stations.

A key player in this David vs Goliath scenario is The Zimbabwean, which
since 2005 has battled to keep open a modicum of democratic space in the
media. The newspaper has just launched a new campaign to highlight the
continued denial of freedom of speech in Zimbabwe — even under the
Government of National Unity (GNU) formed in 2009 between Zanu (PF) and the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

Freedom of the press remains shackled by the draconian Access to Information
and Protection of Privacy Act, which demands that all media organisations
and journalists have to be licensed by a government-appointed commission.
Despite the GNU, this secretariat is still headed by Mugabe apologist
Tafataona Mahoso — the man responsible for the closure of five newspapers in
2003.

With the world transfixed by the tumultuous changes and protests in North
Africa and the Middle East, The Zimbabwean is redoubling its efforts to
protect freedom of speech for Zimbabweans. It is vital that the world’s
media does not forget the daily struggles taking place in our country.

Known for his incendiary hate speech, Mugabe is on record as saying that the
bullet is more powerful than the ballot. The cabal of generals keeping him
in power are a battle- hardened bunch who would not think twice about
shooting down Zimbabweans in cold blood — as Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s
armed forces have done in his country over the past week.

Zimbabweans themselves are under no illusions as to the fate that awaits
them should they dare to rise up. Websites are awash with opinion pieces
about their chances — many say they are cowards, tired, browbeaten. One
thing is certain — the armed forces are firmly in Mugabe’s pocket, and are
unlikely to behave the way the Egyptian army did.

But people forget that in the 1970s, against all odds, the masses rose up
against then prime minister Ian Smith’s powerful arsenal. They were
arrested, some were hanged and thousands left the country to fight. The same
thing happened in 1997. Spontaneous, leaderless food riots broke out in one
suburb of Harare and spread throughout the country. They were ruthlessly
crushed — but the riots happened. I believe it could happen again.

Zimbabwe is like a tinderbox. You can smell the fear. Everybody is afraid.
Mugabe and his generals are particularly terrified.

One lone activist called for a million citizens to march yesterday,
circulating the call on the internet. But by midday there was no sign of any
gathering in the large park in Harare named as the protest venue.

Police have threatened to crush any "Egypt-style" protests.

The GNU — which was supposed to herald the end of Mugabe’s regime — has
proved to be its saviour. The relative economic stability that resulted from
the MDC being brought into government, with the end of ridiculous
hyper-inflation and the return of goods to the shelves, has blunted the
desperate anger that could have fuelled an Egypt conflagration in Harare.
The hatred of the Zanu (PF) government has been diluted by the presence of
MDC MPs in parliament. And of course the discovery of eye-watering deposits
of diamonds has upped the stakes all round.

Mugabe says he wants elections this year. His thugs have been intimidating
and beating people, forcing them to attend Zanu (PF) meetings and burn their
MDC membership cards, since before Christmas last year. He is determined to
win another five-year term as President and to keep Prime Minister Morgan
Tsvangirai from ever taking over.

So now, more than ever, we must continue to fight for freedom of speech and
to tell the stories coming out of Zimbabwe.

Incredibly brave, ordinary people’s personal stories illustrate their battle
against oppression and injustice and the huge price they have paid as a
result. Their voices deserve to be heard.

- Mbanga is editor of The Zimbabwean.


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Open letter to David Cameron

02 March 2011

Dear Mr. Cameron,

I am a 25 year old former Zimbabwean citizen living in England, and have
been for almost 8 years now. It has long been a source of frustration that
the British government has done so little to help ease the situation in
Zimbabwe, but this frustration has increased a thousand fold of late.

We have seen uprisings and protests across many nations where dictators
existed, and this was purely down to the courage of the people of these
respective countries. Throughout the Egyptian and Tunisian protests, very
little support was offered by the British government to the brave people
fighting for basic human rights. However the Libyan situation has provoked
an entirely different reaction. You have threatened to impose military force
through the imposition of a no-fly zone over Libya, following reports that
military aircraft were being used to bomb protestors. I have included the
following news extracts and their sources for your reference:

“We must not tolerate this regime using military force against its own
people,” David Cameron, UK prime minister, said. “In that context I have
asked the Ministry of Defence and the Chief of the Defence Staff to work
with our allies on plans for a military no-fly zone.”
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/e588cd5c-4338-11e0-aef2-00144feabdc0.html#axzz1FMs4ZMeU

This is a commendable statement, and one which I fully support. It is
completely unacceptable for any government to use force of any kind to
oppress the people’s rights to protest that which they feel is unjust,
particularly where those protests are peaceful and undisruptive. The burning
question in my mind, is why then has nothing been done about Mugabe’s
regime? Mugabe has used military force on the people of Zimbabwe since the
early 80’s, when he ordered the Gukuruhundi massacres, not long after the
British government facilitated his rise to presidency. He has also
sanctioned the forceful removal of hundreds of farmers from their own lands,
which resulted in several farmers dying horrible deaths at the hands of so
called “war veterans”; many of whom were no older than I, and not even born
during the war. I am sure you are already fully aware of all of this though,
and do not require a history lesson from me. To get to my point, I came
across the following statement in a Reuters article:
“ZANU-PF has deployed massive shows of force, including using helicopter
gunships, against previous protests.”
http://af.reuters.com/article/topNews/idAFJOE7200B320110301?pageNumber=2&virtualBrandChannel=0
The use of helicopter gunships has also been widely reported in the Marange
diamond fields, where he has gunned down hundreds of people desperately
trying to find a mere handful of stones in order to feed themselves and
their starving families. Meanwhile, these diamonds are being sold onto the
open market, making Mugabe and his cronies wealthier by the day while the
majority of his people cannot even afford to feed themselves.
Over the last few years, there has been a lot of talk that the Iraq invasion
only took place because of the oil reserves there. I was reluctant to
believe that, and hoped that the British government at least, was better
than that, and cared more about human lives than about natural resources.
Now, faced with dictatorial leaders falling left and right, the only
situation that has sparked any interest from the British government is that
in Libya, the richest of them all in terms of oil.
So the question I wish for you to answer is why, if not for oil, has Britain
condemned Gaddafi’s actions, but is quite happily ignoring the exact same
behaviors in many other countries, including Zimbabwe? Why is military
action against the Libyan people unacceptable, yet against Zimbabweans it is
ignored and brushed under the carpet? Are the people of Zimbabwe any less
human?
I have circulated copies of this letter to a number of newspapers including
the BBC, a number of independent Zimbabwean news sources and Human Rights
Activists in South Africa, and I know we are all eager to hear your
response.

Faithfully,
Charlotte Reid-Rowland


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Bill Watch Special of 2nd March 2011 [Parliamentary Committee to hear ZRP Commissioner-General Thursday 3rd March]

BILL WATCH SPECIAL

[2nd March 2011]

This bulletin updates Bill Watch Special of 26th February listing committee meetings open to the public this week

Parliamentary Committee Meetings: Thursday 3rd March

Hearing on Violence Rescheduled to Thursday The meeting of the Portfolio Committee on Defence and Home Affairs to hear evidence from the Commissioner-General of Police on recent violence has been rescheduled to Thursday 3rd March because the Commissioner-General had other commitments on both Monday and Wednesday. At time of writing [3.30 pm Wednesday] Parliament had still not received confirmation that Commissioner-General Chihuri would attend tomorrow’s meeting. If Mr Chihuri does attend, the meeting will be open to members of the public, but as observers only, not as participants.

Portfolio Committee: Defence and Home Affairs

Oral evidence from Commissioner-General of Police on the recent upsurge in violence and police handling of the situation

Senate Chamber

10 am

Chairperson: Hon Madzore Clerk: Mr Daniel

Note: It is recommended that members of the public wishing to attend the meeting avoid possible disappointment by checking beforehand with the committee clerk that the meeting is still on and still open to the public. Parliament’s telephone numbers are Harare 700181 or 252936-55.

If attending, please use the Kwame Nkrumah Ave entrance to Parliament. IDs must be produced.

Note: Zimbabweans in the Diaspora can send in written submissions by email to clerk@parlzim.gov.zw

Briefing on Indigenous Mines Postponed

The briefing on indigenous mines that was to have been given to the Thematic Committee on Indigenisation and Empowerment at an open meeting on Thursday has been called off because the Permanent Secretary for Mines is unavailable. Instead the committee will hold private deliberations on its draft report on another issue. Not open to the public.

Veritas makes every effort to ensure reliable information, but cannot take legal responsibility for information supplied.

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