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Concourt rules on Zim election report

http://www.iol.co.za/

November 29 2011 at 12:20pm
By Jenni Evans

The Constitutional Court has sent a Mail&Guardian application for a secret
report on the 2003 Zimbabwe elections back to the Pretoria High Court for
further determination.

This was the essence of a judgment the court handed down on Tuesday.

The judges found that for a court to decide that the State had properly
claimed that a record was exempt from disclosure, it should determine
whether the State had shown that the withheld information fell within the
exemptions claimed.

Because of the nature of proceedings under the Promotion of Access to
Information Act, courts may sometimes not have enough evidence to
responsibly decide whether an exemption from disclosure was correct.

The judges said this could happen because the requester, not having access
to the record, faced difficulties raising genuine disputes of fact as to the
exemptions claimed by the State.

It could also occur when the State was limited, under the act, in its
ability to refer to the contents of the record in justifying the exemptions
it claimed.

Therefore, the court ordered that the High Court in Pretoria be allowed to
invoke its right to see the secret report, so it could decide the case.

The M&G was using the act to see the report by two South African judges.

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe retained his position in that election
over opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

The judges, Sisi Khampepe and Dikgang Moseneke, observed the elections at
the request of former president Thabo Mbeki.

Khampepe is a judge in the Constitutional Court and Moseneke is deputy chief
justice. Both recused themselves when the court heard the matter in May.

The publisher of the M&G asked for the report in June 2008, but the
president would not release it on the grounds it contained information given
by Zimbabwean officials in confidence.

The report was to be used by the president for policy formulation.

The High Court in Pretoria granted an order compelling the president to make
the report public.

The Supreme Court of Appeal rejected an appeal by the presidency against the
High Court order and the presidency approached the Constitutional Court.

M&G editor Nic Dawes voiced disappointment over the ruling.

“I am disappointed,” he said outside the court.

It meant the presidency's appeal was upheld, and the report could not be
released yet.

The newspaper had been trying to get hold of the report for three years.

Dawes said the judgment was important in terms of the controversial
Protection of State Information Bill and the difficulties faced when trying
to get information from the State, and in the context of next year's
elections in Zimbabwe. – Sapa


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Police Pledge Support Ahead Of Zanu-PF Conference

http://www.radiovop.com

Harare, November 29, 2011 --- Zimbabwean police who have in the past forced
President Robert Mugabe’s rivals to cancel scheduled meetings citing lack of
manpower, have pledged to be in “full force” at the Zanu-PF conference set
to be held in Bulawayo from December 6 to 10.

Police on Monday said the Zanu-PF conference was set to be “one of the
largest gatherings this year in Bulawayo.”

“Some rogue elements of society always want to capitalise on the large
gatherings to display how uncouth and unreasonable they may become,”
Bulawayo police said in statement to the media.

“Political gatherings are the best platforms of arraying the critical tenets
of democracy – freedom of association, freedom of expression, freedom of
movement among others.

“Indeed it’s time to give democracy a chance. As ZRP, we will not take a
back seat and watch whilst some unruly elements disturb peace of this
beautiful City of Kings.”

Acting officer commanding police Bulawayo province Assistant Commissioner
Christopher Gora is quoted in the same statement saying: “Police will not
condone any action, which is likely to disturb peace and the smooth running
of the conference and threaten the security of delegates.”

Early this month, police in Matabeleland North blocked Prime Minister Morgan
Tsvangirai from holding rallies in Victoria Falls and Lupane claiming they
had no manpower.

But at the Zanu-PF conference, the Bulawayo police said they had adequately
deployed on every street.

“As such members of the public are urged to desist from carrying firearms,
knobkerries or perform any acts likely to provoke or incite violence in the
run up to and soon after the conference.

“We expect higher level of political maturity to all participants and
maximum cooperation from all delegates.

The Zanu-PF conference will be held at the Zimbabwe International Trade
Fair.

Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change held its congress in April at
the much bigger Barbourfields Stadium and police presence was not that
pronounced.


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Mugabe hangs on

http://www.dailynews.co.zw

By Tonderai Kwenda, Deputy News Editor
Tuesday, 29 November 2011 12:01

HARARE - President Robert Mugabe has all but secured his candidature as the
Zanu PF candidate meaning it is all but confirmed that he is going to be the
party’s life president.

Zanu PF secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa yesterday extinguished
ambitious attempts by elements within the party’s factions to come together
and turn their conference set for next week into an extra-ordinary congress
to try and push out Mugabe.

Mugabe’s candidature has put paid to an interview Justice Minister Patrick
Chinamasa gave to Namibian newspapers about three months ago when he said
Zanu PF has no credible candidate other than Mugabe.

The party’s officials, who by day bootlick Mugabe and were exposed by the
whistle-blower website Wikileaks, as regime change merchants for working
with foreigners to push out the 87-year-old president, are said to be still
hopeful of a Mugabe ouster.

With indications that the earliest Zimbabwe can hold elections is 2013, it
means that Zanu PF will present the frail Mugabe at 89 as its presidential
candidate.

Mutasa, told the Daily News there will not be any succession debates at the
Bulawayo meeting ruling out any chance of surprises.

“Who is succeeding who, there is nothing like that,” said Mutasa responding
to questions on whether the party will discuss any succession plans for
Mugabe.

“We have said again and again but you journalists just won’t listen. New
leaders are elected at congress and this is not a congress.”

Instead, Mutasa said the party will discuss indigenisation, agriculture, the
society, schools and other issues.

Asked if the WikiLeaks issue will be on the table Mutasa said, “We are not
in a hurry about it.”

It was Mugabe himself who had announced that the conference might be turned
into a congress but the party made a U-turn on realising that the Zanu PF
factions were converging and plotting to oust the octogenarian leader.

But despite these telling signs of a tired body due to advanced age, six out
of 10 provinces have so far lined up to endorse him as the former ruling
party’s presidential candidate for any future election.

Mugabe has been to the Far East on several occasions this year on suspected
medical-related trips.

With elections likely to be delayed until 2013 considering the timetable of
democratic reforms that have to be carried out before an election can be
called, Mugabe could find the going tough.

Zimbabwean elections are usually characterised by punishing schedules and
any delay in the polls will work against him.

At 89 in 2013, Zanu PF will find him to be a hard sell as he will be pitted
against youthful candidates in the form of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai,
Simba Makoni, Arthur Mutambara, Welshman Ncube, Dumiso Dabengwa and Job
Sikhala.

But party spokesperson Rugare Gumbo has in the past said “wisdom comes with
age,” when he dismissed talk of putting up the issue of the presidential
candidate up for a vote at the Bulawayo conference.

So far the script of the previous years has largely been reproduced with
Matabeleland South, Midlands, Mashonaland West, Matabeleland North, Masvingo
and Harare having already publicly backed Mugabe with an endorsement after
their provincial conferences.

“We have one candidate only. That is the president,” said Andrew Langa, the
Zanu PF Matabeleland South chairman.

Excitable Zanu PF chairperson Simon Khaya Moyo has also brought a new
dimension to the whole debate telling party supporters that the congress
will not do anything out of the extraordinary except to reaffirm the
decisions of the party’s last congress which was held in Mutare.

“Provinces can only reaffirm the decision of the congress. Our party
constitution provides that whoever is elected presidential candidate becomes
the party’s presidential candidate for any election until our next
 congress,” said Moyo in an interview with the state-owned media recently.

The party’s provinces have been endorsing Mugabe in quick succession and at
the current rate, they are all likely to do so before the start of the
conference.

Midlands province, the home province of Zanu PF legal affairs secretary
Emmerson Mnangagwa has also endorsed the dear leader.

The defence minister, who is believed to be leading one of the factions
fighting to succeed Mugabe personally delivered the message endorsing Mugabe
at a provincial meeting held in Gweru.

He said: “We, as the Midlands, endorse President Robert Gabriel Mugabe as
the party’s candidate in the forthcoming election,” he said adding that he
is a leader “with a clear vision. He knows all our concerns and has the
solution to solve them.”

Zanu PF Harare province is the latest in what has become a predictable path
every year endorsing Mugabe after a provincial meeting.

The province’s chairmen Amos Midzi said Mugabe’s candidature is a foregone
conclusion saying the ailing leader was “the best candidate” to represent
Zanu PF.


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Gono nudges Zimbabwe towards yuan

http://www.newzimbabwe.com

28/11/2011 00:00:00
    by Business Reporter

RESERVE Bank governor Gideon Gono has warned that Zimbabwe’s nascent
economic recovery is at the mercy of the United States dollar, which is
facing new pressures from the Euro-zone debt crisis.

Gono says Zimbabwe should in fact be looking to the Chinese yuan as its main
currency, while urgently seeking to restore its own currency which was
abandoned in 2009 after a dramatic loss of its value.

Speaking in Gweru last Saturday, Gono said: “The extraordinary happenings in
Europe where economic power houses in the Euro-zone have been hit by a debt
crisis deserves extraordinary measures, especially here in Zimbabwe where we
have adopted the U dollar as the major currency in our multi-currency
regime.

"With the continuous firming of the Chinese yuan, the US dollar is fast
ceasing to be the world's reserve currency and the Euro-Zone debt crisis has
made things even worse.

“As a country, we still have the opportunity to avoid being caught napping
by adopting the Chinese yuan as part of consolidating the country's look
East policy.”

China is now Zimbabwe’s biggest trading partner, with the Asian giant
absorbing most of the country’s mineral and agricultural produce.

Vice President Joice Mujuru first raised the possibility of adopting the
yuan in September last year, saying it would be a “logical step” and could
help solve some of the country’s liquidity constraints.

The multiple currency regime announced in January 2009 has been fraught with
difficulties. Retailers are supposed to accept the Euro and the British
pound but those two currencies have never caught on, with most transactions
being conducted in United States dollars, the South African rand and the
Botswana pula.

Finance Minister Biti presented his 2012 budget last week and expects the
multiple currency regime to remain in place at least until the end of 2012
when ministers hope it would be replaced by a single currency for the
Southern Africa Development Community (SADC).

Gono, speaking at theConfederation of Zimbabwe Industries' (CZI) end-of-year
business dinner, said the use of foreign currency was ultimately
unsustainable in the long run.

“As long as we continue to use other people's currencies, where we do not
have control over that currency, we are not going anywhere as a nation,” he
said.

“At the moment the US dollar is going down the tube owing to the Euro-zone
debt crisis and as a country, we are also going down the tube because we do
not have control of that currency.

"The year 2012 should thus see Zimbabwe coming up with its own currency
which we should be using without ruling out the multicurrency system until
the economy stabilises.”

The demise of the Zimbabwe dollar is attributed in no small measure to Gono’s
policy of printing money, but he insists that his actions were in response
to an unprecedented economic crisis which called for “extraordinary
 measures”.


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Zim parents & teachers express growing anger

http://www.swradioafrica.com/

By Alex Bell
29 November 2011

The education sector is witnessing growing anger from both parents of school
learners and Zimbabwe’s teachers, because of rising school fees and stagnant
salaries.

Some parents have expressed their anger to the media about proposed fee
increases, which could be as high as 25%. Reports have said that state
schools want to boost fees for day students from US$160 to US$180, and
increase boarding fees to US$585 from US$560 a term.

SW Radio Africa has been told that some private school boarding fees are set
to rise to about US$13000 for the year. The situation is so serious and the
fees so high that many parents are said to be leaving for South Africa,
where good government schools are still available.

Education Minister David Coltart said on Tuesday that the fee hikes are
unavoidable, because the sector has been underfunded for more than a decade.
He added that it is the government’s fault for not playing its part in
ensuring the sector improves.

“This year we were allocated about US$60 million for education but we only
saw about US$14 million of that to run all the schools. This is woefully
insufficient and we’ve had to turn to parents and this means a fee hike,”
Coltart explained.

He added that he hopes to make the process of fee increases as transparent
as possible, saying nothing is yet set in stone. He said that “even when the
fees are set, I plan to make the accounts for each school available on the
bulletin boards every month so parents can see where their money is going.”

Finance Minister Tendai Biti last week announced more than US$700 million
set aside for education in the national US$4 billion Budget. Coltart
welcomed this commitment, but he was also cautious.

“The challenge is to turn this theoretical budget into a reality,” he said.

SW Radio Africa meanwhile has also been told that private school gardeners
are earning more than government school teachers, who are still only earning
about US$180 a month. PTUZ president Takavafira Zhou told SW Radio Africa
that state teachers are earning “starvation wages.”

“It is unfortunate that the national budget didn’t make any room for salary
increases because teachers are now condemned to perpetual poverty,” Zhou
said.

Biti has previously admitted there is little money for salary increments,
and made no direct reference to a much needed increase during his Budget
speech last week. Instead, he adjusted the tax requirements so civil
servants won’t be paying such high tax. Their ‘allowances’ have also been
declared tax free as on January 1st.

Biti is already facing resistance to his 2012 Budget from within Cabinet,
with MPs reportedly holding back approval of the proposals, until he gives
in to their demands for new cars and outstanding allowances. Legislators
from ZANU PF and the MDC-T have told the Daily News they would not give
their approval until their ‘needs’ are met.


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MDC-T member assaulted

http://www.swradioafrica.com/

By Alex Bell
29 November 2011

An MDC-T member from Mount Darwin North is recovering after he was assaulted
at his home by known ZANU PF members last week.

Try Pfebve the MDC-T district security officer for Mount Darwin North was
last Thursday “severely assaulted,” by three ZANU PF members at his home in
Mukumbura. According to an MDC-T statement, the three ZANU PF members who
attacked Pfebve are Tandirai Chakari, Chiripo Chitoro and Tinashe Chakari.

The MDC-T reported that Pfebve sustained “serious head injuries, his ribs
and left knee cap were also fractured.” He was admitted in hospital for four
days.

Pfebve reported the matter to Mukumbura police station but no arrests have
been made. He said the three ZANU PF members who assaulted him asked him
“why he had played MDC songs earlier in the afternoon. They used logs to
assault him all over the body.”

“ZANU PF thugs have continued to act violently despite calls by their
leader, Robert Mugabe to stop all forms of violence. ZANUPF needs to put in
place mechanisms to control their bullies to refrain from violence,” the
MDC-T said in a statement.


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Scientists 'baffled' by gel results

http://www.news24.com

2011-11-29 12:22

Johannesburg - A vaginal gel researchers had hoped would help prevent HIV
transmission for women is ineffective, according to a report on Tuesday.

Researchers leading the Tenofovir gel study at 15 sites across South Africa,
Uganda and Zimbabwe recommended that 5 000 women who participated in the
trial should stop using it, The Times reported.

The results of this second study shocked scientists when they proved the
gel, developed by researchers at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, could not
save millions of lives.

Last year, the Centre for the Aids Programme of Research in SA found the gel
was 39% successful in preventing HIV infection.

'Baffled'

Director of the Aids research centre Professor Salim Abdool Karim said he
was "baffled" by the results of the new study.

"This was totally unexpected because there was good evidence from laboratory
research, animal studies and human trials, which showed that Tenofovir gel
prevented Aids," he was quoted as saying.

He and his wife, Quarraisha Abdool Karim, were expecting to have the gel in
clinics next year, but the new findings sent them back to the drawing board.

He said it was not clear whether the new result was due to inadequate use of
the gel by women participating in the study, insufficient drug levels in the
women at the time of HIV exposure, or some other reason.

The couple was widely lauded after the gel was presented at the
International Aids Conference in Vienna last year - where the global
microbicide research community agreed a second study was needed to confirm
the protective effects of the gel.

The study saw participants, aged between 18 and 30, using the gel 12 hours
before intercourse and within 12 hours after intercourse.

Funders included amongst others, the science and technology department, the
US government and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

- SAPA


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Zimbabwe militants seek restaurant boycott over ad showing leader as “last dictator standing”

http://www.washingtonpost.com/

By Associated Press, Published: November 29 | Updated: Wednesday, November
30, 1:27 AM

HARARE, Zimbabwe — A militant youth group loyal to Zimbabwe’s president is
calling for a boycott of a restaurant chain whose latest advertisement
depicts the aging, authoritarian president as “the last dictator standing,”
state radio reported Tuesday.

The radio quoted the head of the group calling for South Africa-based Nando’s
to withdraw the ad that depicts President Robert Mugabe or face punitive
action. Jimu Kunaka, the head of group known as Chipangano, said the
restaurant chain risked action including a boycott. Chipangano is a
“brotherhood” of Mugabe loyalists.

The commercial that touts chicken shows Mugabe dining alone at Christmas,
his empty table set for departed dictators including Moammar Gadhafi.

To the soundtrack of Mary Hopkin’s hit song “Those were the days, my
 friend,” the commercial shows an actor playing Mugabe reminiscing about his
times with former dictators. It portrays him and Gadhafi engaging in a
water-pistol fight, with Gadhafi wielding a golden AK-47 water pistol.

The ersatz Mugabe also makes sand angels with Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, sings
karaoke with Chairman Mao, and holds overthrown Ugandan dictator Idi Amin
astride a tank in a scene parodying Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet in
the hit movie “Titanic.”

The head of Nando’s Zimbabwe franchise said it was not informed of the South
African television and press campaign, and is independent of them.

Musekiwa Kumbula, corporate affairs director at Innscor Africa, holders of
the Nando’s franchise in Zimbabwe, said in a statement the 60-second
television commercial widely seen on Zimbabwe websites was generated in
South Africa for its market and clientele.

The Innscor group “strongly feels the advertisement is insensitive and in
poor taste,” he said.

But, he added, “No consultation takes place between different franchises
when they are formulating marketing strategies.”

It is an offense under Zimbabwe law to insult Mugabe or undermine the
authority of his office.

Mugabe once maintained close ties with Gadhafi. But relations became
strained over payments for a gasoline deal during acute fuel shortages and
shortly before the Libyan leader befriended Western leaders such as former
British Prime Minister Tony Blair, whom Mugabe harshly criticized for his
policies toward Zimbabwe.

Chairman Mao’s China helped train Mugabe’s guerrillas to end white rule in
the former British colony of Rhodesia and Mugabe has been a frequent visitor
to China ever since.

Mugabe played host to Saddam Hussein at a world summit of the Non-Aligned
Movement in 1986. And though Mugabe was a sharp critic of apartheid-era
South African President P.W. Botha — depicted in the commercial being pushed
on a swing by Mugabe — apartheid South Africa remained Zimbabwe’s biggest
trading partner.

Business tycoon Ray Kaukonde, a major stockholder in Innscor and a former
provincial governor in Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party, said the advertising
denigrated Mugabe. He called it “a violation of business ethics” and said it
was “in total disregard of African values,” state radio reported Tuesday.

State radio said Chipangano demanded an apology be made to the nation for
the “negative portrayal” of Mugabe, 87, who led Zimbabwe to independence in
1980. Critics, Western governments and rights groups have said he has become
increasingly authoritarian and unleashed a decade of violence, vote-rigging
and intimidation amid a breakdown of the rule of law since he ordered the
seizures of thousands of white-owned farms in 2000.

Human rights activists accuse the Chipangano group of forming violent gangs
that roam Harare’s impoverished townships and seize property from street
vendors and householders seen as supporters of Prime Minister Morgan
Tsvangirai’s former opposition party in the nation’s fragile 30-month
coalition government.

Harare-based officials for the South African-based satellite television
provider DStv said that if the commercial is aired on South African
channels, it cannot be filtered out of programs received by tens of
thousands of Zimbabwean subscribers.


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Tsvangirai’s ‘lover’ slept outside his house for 3 days

http://www.swradioafrica.com/

By Lance Guma
29 November 2011

Locadia Tembo, the woman at the centre of the marriage storm with Prime
Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, is alleged to have slept outside his Harare home
in Strathaven for 3 days, in an apparent attempt to force him into marrying
her.

In line with the Shona custom of ‘kutizira’ a pregnant woman will either go
to the man’s house or his relatives and refuse to leave until she is taken
into the family, or damages are paid. This could explain why Tsvangirai
later sent emissaries to the Tembo homestead last week Monday, to pay a
reported US$10,000 in damages.

SW Radio Africa has now been told by sources close to the Prime Minister
that “he is battling a major sting operation that is being coordinated by
Mugabe’s regime.”

Tembo travelled to Buhera at the weekend to meet Tsvangirai’s mother,
without the knowledge and consent of the PM. Tsvangirai was said to be
seething with anger about this on Sunday.

Herald columnist Nathaniel Manheru, who is believed to be Mugabe’s
spokesperson George Charamba, pre-empted Tembo’s visit to Buhera by writing
about it even before it happened. His article ‘Tsvangirai: Tying the Knot or
Knotty Ties’ was posted on Friday evening at 10:19 pm long before Tembo made
her trip.

To make matters worse, Tembo was allegedly accompanied by journalists from
the state owned media and she posed for pictures outside and inside the
house. “Where on earth have you seen a rich woman like that going into a
rural home, clutching ‘mutsvairo’ (broom) while clearly posing for
 pictures,” our source said.

It was further alleged that Tembo distributed cash ‘like confetti at a
wedding’ while at the Tsvangirai homestead, much to the delight of some of
the PM’s relatives. “This is how the state media journalists were able to do
their job, taking pictures etc. Everyone who was travelling with Tembo on
the day was treated well,” he said.

The confusion surrounding whether Tsvangirai paid for damages or married
Tembo has been covered extensively by the state owned media. “The articles
have tended to be a mixture of the truth and outright lies to try and
tarnish the image of the Prime Minister,” another senior MDC-T official told
SW Radio Africa.

Although Tembo was initially said to be 7 months pregnant, the state owned
Sunday Mail newspaper is now quoting family members claiming she is not
pregnant. A source who spoke to SW Radio Africa however said Tembo is the
one who told the PM she was pregnant and on that basis went to his house in
Strathhaven, Harare, refusing to leave.

Several people in the MDC-T pointed accusing fingers at co-Home Affairs
Minister Theresa Makone, claiming she was trying to influence Tsvangirai
into marrying Tembo, who is her friend. But in an exclusive interview with
SW Radio Africa, Makone denied meddling in the PM’s private affairs.

But Makone’s claims were later contradicted by Tembo’s uncle, Isaiah
Karimatsenga, who told the Sunday Mail that Makone was present during the
entire ‘marriage’ ceremony in Christon Bank last Monday. We also received
information that it was actually Makone who bought the groceries taken to
the Tembo homestead.

Meanwhile several members from the Karimatsenga family are claiming they
will post video footage of the ‘marriage’ ceremony on the video sharing
website You Tube, if Tsvangirai’s aides continue denying that he married.

An official in Tsvangirai’s office however told us “they can go ahead, You
Tube will not marry Locadia. The PM is the only person who can make that
decision.”

Political commentator Pedzisai Ruhanya told SW Radio Africa: “I have
indicated before and I will continue to argue that it’s a sting operation.
The state media seems to be aware of every move this woman takes. If you
look at the details, you can tell there is another hand at play.”

Ruhanya said: “There are those who are naļve, who are saying why are we
blaming this woman and not talking about the Prime Minister. But surely we
cannot ignore the hand of the state. We cannot continue to blame Tsvangirai
because if it was a normal issue, why is the state so interested?”


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Detained MDC Supporters Launches Fresh Freedom Bid

http://www.radiovop.com/

Harare, November 29, 2011- Seven Movement for Democratic Change members who
have been languishing in prison for the past six months have launched a
fresh bid for freedom by seeking the high court to grant them leave to
appeal to the Supreme Court.

The Glenview residents who include two brothers Lazarus Maengahama and
Stanford Maengahama want the high court to authorize them to petition the
Supreme Court to appeal against their denial of bail in July.

Justice Tendai Uchena will hear the matter on Tuesday morning in his
chambers.

The application for leave to appeal against the refusal of bail for the
Glenview residents was necessitated by the pronouncements made by Deputy
Chief Justice Luke Malaba early this month that such leave was necessary in
terms of the bail appeal procedures.

Justice Uchena threw out the residents’ bail application in July after
ruling that they could flee from the country.

The seven Glenview residents including the Maengahama brothers, Glenview
Ward 32 councillor Tungamirai Madzokere, Rebecca Mafikeni, Phenias
Nhatarikwa, Yvonne Musarurwa and Stanford Mangwiro have been detained in
remand prison since the time when they were arrested in May for allegedly
murdering a police officer, Inspector Petros Mutedzi.


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Govt urged to scrap hospital admission fees

http://www.dailynews.co.zw

By Pindai Dube
Tuesday, 29 November 2011 12:12

BULAWAYO - Humanitarian organisation, Medecins Sans Frontieres - Spain (MSF)
has called on the Zimbabwe government to scrap government hospital admission
fees saying there are derailing  free antiretroviral treatment (ART)
programmes, especially in rural areas.

MSF, also known as Doctors Without Borders, is an international humanitarian
organisation heavily involved in providing medicine as part of its
humanitarian work.

Addressing a press conference in Bulawayo yesterday, MSF head of mission in
Zimbabwe, Mari Carmen Vinoles said MSF is providing free ART to over 35000
HIV/AIDS patients countrywide.

The MSF official said most HIV/Aids patients are now failing to get free ART
due to high admission fees charged by government hospitals.

MSF conducts ART programmes at government hospitals and council clinics
around the country.

“Our main problem on giving free ART is admission fees charged at government
hospitals.

“Some hospitals are charging as much as US$30 and most people, especially
those in rural areas, cannot afford these fees. Therefore they end up not
having access to our free ARVs treatment. So we are calling on the Zimbabwe
Government, through the Ministry of Health, to scrap these hospital
admission fees, so that everybody especially pregnant mothers infected with
HIV/Aids can be on free ART treatment,” said Vinoles.

Meanwhile, music superstar Oliver Mtukudzi and Chiwoniso Maraire will today
(Tuesday) collaborate with Tsholotsho and Bulawayo Aids support choir groups
during the launch of an anti-HIV campaign Compact Disk (CD) and a book by
MSF in the city.

In the project titled “Positive Generation: Voices for an HIV-free future”
Mtukudzi will also get backing from  Spanish musician Alejandro Sanz,
Dominican Republic musician Juan Luis Guerra and Carlos Vives from Colombia.

Vinoles said, the project will bestow international visibility on the
reality of HIV/Aids in Sub-Saharan Africa and highlight the people on
treatment.

“The campaign objective is to pay tribute to a generation of children,
adolescents, mothers who are living “positively” with HIV and they are the
best testimonies to fight stigma and transmit positive messages,” said
Vinoles.

Zimbabwe used to be one of the country’s worst affected by HIV/Aids in the
world although transmission rates have been declining in the last few years.

Researchers say fear of infection and mass social change have driven a huge
decline in HIV rates in Zimbabwe, offering important lessons on how to fight
the Aids epidemic to the rest of Africa.


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BAZ invites applicants for radio licenses for urban centres

http://www.swradioafrica.com

By Tichaona Sibanda
29 November 2011

The Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) has invited applications for 14
commercial radio licenses, to be dotted around the country’s major urban
centres.

The 14 local FM licenses will be in addition to the two national commercial
broadcasting licenses that were recently granted to ZiFM, controlled by AB
Communications headed by broadcaster Supa Mandiwanzira, and Talk Radio
channel to be run by Zimpapers, publishers of the Herald.

Givemore Chipere, communication and advocacy officer for Community Radio
Harare (CORAH), told SW Radio Africa on Tuesday they were surprised to see
BAZ inviting application for local commercial licenses.

Chipere said the application fee and radio broadcasting service license cost
of US$2,500 and US$7,500 ‘is too much for would be broadcasters in Zimbabwe.’
The basic license fee is also expensive at US$50,000.

CORAH is an independent radio initiative based in Harare. But its biggest
obstacle remains the fact that the government will not grant it, or any
other community station, a broadcast license.

‘CORAH is one of 10 community radio initiatives operating in Zimbabwe. The
others are in Bulawayo, Gweru, Kwekwe, Hwange, Kariba, Masvingo, Mutare and
Kadoma. All these community radio projects are just waiting to be granted a
license from BAZ and we can start broadcasting by Friday.

‘But this new process will take time, even a year, and its just a gimmick to
hoodwink SADC into believing there are media reforms in Zimbabwe when there
is nothing,’ Chipere said.

The BAZ offer for 14 local broadcasting licenses covers Harare, Bulawayo,
Mutare, Gweru, Masvingo, Chinhoyi, Bindura, Gwanda, Marondera, Lupane,
Plumtree, Kariba, Victoria Falls and Beitbridge. Some of these areas are
regarded as pro-MDC areas and are areas where the ZBC radio and television
signal is very weak.

Veteran and popular radio DJ, Ezra ‘Tshisa’ Sibanda, said the plan to
operate radio stations in the MDC controlled towns is a ZANU PF strategy to
try and penetrate the areas.

‘It’s clear the licenses will be granted to ZANU PF people who will use the
stations to prop up their propaganda. We all know what happened with the two
national commercial radio stations and that will also happen with local
station,’ Sibanda said.

Many observers have also noted that it would be impossible to run a
commercial radio initiative in most of the areas on offer. Commercial radio
depends on advertisers for its revenue and in Lupane or Marondera for
instance, it would be impossible to find enough advertising to fund a radio
station.

Meanwhile, BAZ has also called for applications for licenses for free to air
satellite usage. The wording of the BAZ advert is so complicated that no one
seems to know what it really means: “Meanwhile, the “Content Distribution
Service” applies to service provided by a content distributor comprising
content aggregated within or outside Zimbabwe that is made available in
Zimbabwe with or without payment of a subscription fee and the reception is
through satellite transmission.”

There are radio stations broadcasting on satellite, for which you need a
satellite receive. Many people in Zimbabwe now also have free to air
television satellite reception. You can also receive various radio stations
on this TV satellite transmission.

Analysts are assuming that BAZ is trying to stop any Zimbabwean initiative
from broadcasting a radio service in any form, including on a TV satellite
channel, unless they have a license. This license would be even more costly
than the FM channels at US$100,000.


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MISA concerns over granting of radio licenses

http://www.swradioafrica.com/

By Tichaona Sibanda
29 November 2011

The independent Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Zimbabwe has said
the process to award commercial licenses to two new radio stations recently
was not open and fair.

The awarding of licenses was set to mark a major milestone in media reforms
in Zimbabwe but MISA described it as a ‘sham’ as the two new stations have
strong links with Robert Mugabe’s ZANU PF party.

The two licenses were issued to ZiFM, controlled by AB Communications headed
by broadcaster Supa Mandiwanzira, and Talk Radio channel to be run by
Zimpapers, publishers of the Herald.

The process was overseen by Tafataona Mahoso, the BAZ chairman who is a well
known ZANU PF apologist. Several media groups said the decision to grant the
licenses to ZiFM and Talk Radio channel ‘cruelly’ dashed any hopes for
broadcasting plurality in Zimbabwe.

When BAZ invited applications, 14 organizations applied but 10 were
rejected, with no reasons given. Among the final four were the two winners
announced last week. Others were Kiss FM, which had music superstar Oliver
Mtukudzi among its directors and Radio VOP, which broadcasts into Zimbabwe
from the Netherlands.

MISA has since dispatched a letter to the three Principles in the GPA,
Robert Mugabe, Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara, highlighting the fact
that BAZ is still not procedurally constituted as required in terms of the
law. BAZ board members were unilaterally appointed by the Ministry of Media,
Information and Publicity on 30th September 2009.

This was not done in consultation with other Principals in the GPA and the
parliamentary Standing Rules and Orders Committee, as required by the law
that governs the unity government.

The MISA letter says: “In writing this letter of appeal, MISA-Zimbabwe is
greatly encouraged by the fact that His Excellency and the Right Honourable
Prime Minister are on record confirming and conceding that indeed this legal
procedure was not duly followed and that the matter should be revisited.”

‘The matter has, however remained unresolved up to the time of the issuance
of the two licenses in question. It is MISA-Zimbabwe’s submission this
development, renders the new licenses in question invalid,’ the MISA
statement said.

They went on to appeal to the Principles to correct the illegality of the
situation.


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Hwange disaster averted by rains

 


New life ... Hwange's elephants faced an uncertain future


SA-based Zimbabweans Worried About Lack Of Jobs

http://www.radiovop.com

Louis Trichardt, South Africa, November 29, 2011 - Hundreds of Zimbabweans
working in Louis Trichardt, a low density suburb in South Africa's Limpopo
Province, say they are worried that they will not return home unless
government can guarantee them employment.

In exclusive interviews in South Africa over the weekend, some of the
Zimbabweans who work at the Mountain Inn Hotel in Lousi Trichardt said there
was rampant "unemployment which would make it difficult for them to earn a
living".

"I cannot come home because there are no jobs," said a waitress at the three
star but plush hotel in South Africa.

"Even then I do not have sufficient qualifications to get a good job and
earn cash which I am earning here in South Africa. I want to come home
because I am very home sick."

Another worker, a barman in the same hotel said: "It is expensive in
Zimbabwe when you convert Rands into United States dollars today.

"Here we stay in the hotel, we get free food and we do not have to travel at
all and so our cash is put into the bank.

"I feel safe here because at least I can send some cash back to my family
whom I have not seen for a long time."

Some workers said even if they returned they could not get jobs because
there is a lot of "unemployment in Zimbabwe right now".

Officially the country has published an unemployment rate of about 80
percent, but analysts point out that this cannot be true because some
individuals work in the "informal sector" - buying and selling - such that
they are not counted by the statisticians who compile the "disputed"
figures.

Thousands of Zimbabwean lost jobs during the period of hyperinflation when
the rate stood at 231 million percent, the highest in the world, a record.

The worthless Zimbabwe dollar was used as legal tender forcing citizens to
dash to South Africa for jobs.It is believed that there are more than four
million Zimbabwean in South Africa doing menial jobs.

The workers are in restaurants, on farms, supermarkets, whole some are
employed as house girls and gardeners.

"I really want to return to Zimbabwe but I am worried that I will not get a
job," the barman told Radio VOP.

"President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister, Morgan Tsvangirai, must come up
with a quick solution soon or we will stay here despite being labeled
refugees." There are about 20 Zimbabweans working in the three-star Mountain
Inn Hotel in Louis Trichardt, South Africa.


SOUTH AFRICA: "Harsher regime" for asylum seekers

 
 
Zimbabwean asylum seekers in the border town of Musina line up for pre-registration
JOHANNESBURG, 29 November 2011 (IRIN) - Nearly half a million asylum seekers in South Africa may lose their right to earn a living or study while their refugee status is being determined after indications that the government plans to amend legislation governing those rights.

An announcement on 23 November that Cabinet is "reviewing" the minimum rights of immigrants, including the right to work and study, was followed by a media briefing two days later at which Mkuseli Apleni, Director General of the Department of Home Affairs, suggested that the asylum seeker system was being abused.

"The right [of asylum seekers] to work and study has created a problem," he said. "People by default are going through the asylum seeker process in order to be able to work, but the majority are economic migrants using a back door."

Apleni noted that South Africa has the largest number of asylum seeker applications in the world. The system needed "streamlining", he said, and an amendment to current legislation would likely be passed in the next legislative year.

Refugee rights groups have reacted to the announcement with alarm. A joint statement by several civil society groups, including the Zimbabwe Exiles Forum, and People Against Suffering, Oppression and Poverty (PASSOP), argues that the review is a precursor to the withdrawal of rights that will "force more asylum seekers underground, thus making them liable to exploitation".

"It's going to limit people's employment opportunities, deny children living here a right to education, [and] increase tensions with locals," predicted PASSOP director Braam Hanekom.

South Africa's 1998 Refugees Act is silent on the question of whether someone who has been issued an asylum seeker permit can work or study while awaiting a decision on their refugee status. An attempt by Home Affairs to expressly prohibit work and study was challenged when a case was brought to court in 2003 by the Cape Town-based Legal Resources Centre (LRC) on behalf of a Zimbabwean woman and her disabled son.


28/11/2011 00:00:00
by Staff Reporter

WILDLIFE officials say rainfall over the last week has averted a major disaster at the Hwange National Park where nearly 80 elephants died of thirst between August and October.

Hwange, the country’s largest game reserve, became a wildlife emergency after the National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority sent out an international distress call, seeking pumping equipment for some of the 60 dried-up watering holes.

As animal welfare groups rushed in to help, there was concern that their actions would not be enough to save Hwange’s wide variety of animal species – including a population of 34,300 water-guzzling elephants.

At the height of the drought, temperatures soared to above 104 degrees Fahrenheit (40 C).
 
But rainfall over the last week has transformed the reserve, with a substantial amount of water flowing into the dams.

A Parks official told the Bulawayo Chronicle: “Things look a lot different now. Suddenly we have grass, trees sprouting and water sources all over the park.

“We pray that the rains continue to fall as we are still cautious about everything.”

He said no elephant deaths had been recorded since the start of the rains slightly over a week ago. The rains had cut the elephants’ journeys to the few watering holes which still had water.

Hwange National Park – home to elephants, zebras, lions, giraffes, buffalo, cheetahs, leopards, and antelope species – has no year-round rivers and little natural surface water, making it dependent on wells supplying artificial watering holes known as pans.

An adult elephant needs nearly 50 gallons (200 liters) of water a day.

WILDLIFE officials say rainfall over the last week has averted a major disaster at the Hwange National Park where nearly 80 elephants died of thirst between August and October.

Hwange, the country’s largest game reserve, became a wildlife emergency after the National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority sent out an international distress call, seeking pumping equipment for some of the 60 dried-up watering holes.

As animal welfare groups rushed in to help, there was concern that their actions would not be enough to save Hwange’s wide variety of animal species – including a population of 34,300 water-guzzling elephants.

At the height of the drought, temperatures soared to above 104 degrees Fahrenheit (40 C).
 
But rainfall over the last week has transformed the reserve, with a substantial amount of water flowing into the dams.

A Parks official told the Bulawayo Chronicle: “Things look a lot different now. Suddenly we have grass, trees sprouting and water sources all over the park.

“We pray that the rains continue to fall as we are still cautious about everything.”

He said no elephant deaths had been recorded since the start of the rains slightly over a week ago. The rains had cut the elephants’ journeys to the few watering holes which still had water.

Hwange National Park – home to elephants, zebras, lions, giraffes, buffalo, cheetahs, leopards, and antelope species – has no year-round rivers and little natural surface water, making it dependent on wells supplying artificial watering holes known as pans.

An adult elephant needs nearly 50 gallons (200 liters) of water a day.
''All these things are part of a pattern and it's the wrong way of going about things - it's unconstitutional and it doesn't comply with our refugees act''
The matter went to the Supreme Court of Appeals, where the judge ruled that freedom to work and study were "an important component of human dignity", and guaranteed by the country's Bill of Rights.

"The judgement was a resounding endorsement of asylum seekers' right to work, and they're obviously trying to override that," said William Kerfoot, the LRC attorney who handled the case.

Asylum seekers, who are not eligible for any kind of social support, often wait years for their applications to be processed, and prohibiting them from working "effectively turned them into criminals or beggars", he commented.

More than half of asylum seeker applications in South Africa are made by Zimbabweans fleeing economic hardship and human rights violations. Very few of them are eventually recognized as refugees, but applying for asylum is often their only legal avenue for remaining in the country.

The resulting flood of applications has created a backlog in the asylum system that the Department of Home Affairs attempted to address in 2009 by introducing a special dispensation to lift the threat of deportation from undocumented Zimbabwean migrants.

In the latter half of 2010, Zimbabwean migrants were given the opportunity to apply for work and study permits, and those already in possession of asylum seeker permits were encouraged to trade them in. Only about 275,000 of the up to 1.5 million Zimbabweans that the International Organization for Migration estimates are living in South Africa participated in the
documentation process and many are still waiting for their permits to be issued.

Home Affairs recently resumed the arrest and
deportation
of undocumented Zimbabweans, and according to news reports about 4,000 have been deported via South Africa's Beitbridge border post to Zimbabwe since early October 2011.

"[The government] has been trying to do something about the asylum system for a long time, but the rhetoric is all about stopping economic migrants from coming in," said Roni Amit, a researcher at the African Centre for Migration and Society at Witwatersrand University in Johannesburg.


Read more
 Deportation of Zimbabweans tearing families apart
 New laws mean new hurdles for asylum seekers
 Horn migrants heading south "pushed backwards"
  Police blame "illegal immigrants" for crime
"It is true that there are people who are economic migrants who are applying for asylum because they have no other option. If they provide an alternative system that would be an improvement, but they seem to be more concerned about people who are abusing the system than people who are in need of protection and aren't getting it," she said.

Apleni did not provide details of any planned alternative system, but suggested that the amendments would help deal with the backlog and ensure genuine asylum seeker applications were processed more quickly.

"South Africans must feel safe," he told journalists at the media briefing. "If we're not able to control our illegal immigration, people won't feel safe."

Kerfoot interpreted the latest government announcement as further evidence of "an overall harsher regime towards asylum seekers". He pointed to recent
amendments to the Immigration Act reducing the time asylum seekers have to report to a refugee reception office after entering the country, as well as the closure of two of seven such offices, one in Johannesburg and another in the city of Port Elizabeth on the south coast.

"All these things are part of the same pattern and it's the wrong way of going about things - it's unconstitutional and it doesn't comply with our refugees act," he told IRIN.

The statement from PASSOP and other refugee rights groups expresses similar concerns about "what now appears a campaign against asylum seekers".

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

 


Inspect your Zimbabwe Electricty Supply Authority bill

http://www.kubatanablogs.net/kubatana/?p=7445

Kubatana subscribers have informed us of some fishy accounting on their
bills, where ZESA is over stating the subtotal of a given unit charge
multiplied by number of units. For example, on one customer’s bill, the
first 50 units is charged at 0.02 cents per unit which equals $1.00. The
bill however states $1.20. The next 250 units is charged at 0.11 cents per
unit which equals $27.50 – the bill states $28.00.

Together, those two mis-multiplied figures equal 70 cents – not a lot of
money, but taken across thousands of customers each month, this could really
add up.

Another subscriber reported similar mis-charging on the part of ZESA, with
subtotals not adding up to the unit consumption multiplied by consumption
rate, and also with the consumption not being charged at the correct rate.

According to the tariff schedule of 1 September, unit charges for domestic
metered customers are:

* First 50 kWh: $0.02 per kWh
* 51-300 kWh: $0.11 per kWh
* 301+ kWh: $0.15 per kWh

Be informed. Inspect your ZESA bill carefully, and double check that they
are charging you correctly. Query your bill when necessary, and insist on
regular meter readings.

This entry was posted on November 29th, 2011 at 1:34 pm by Bev Clark


Mugabe - traitor against Africans

http://www.sowetanlive.co.za/

29-Nov-2011 | William Mpofu

FAR from the glossy image of himself as a gallant Pan-Africanist and brave
defender of black economic and political rights that Robert Mugabe has sold
to the world, a close scrutiny of his political record shows how he has
served British economic and political interests in Zimbabwe and Africa at
large with an ear-to-ear smile.

So sad this is, because many young revolutionaries throughout Africa,
including the brave Julius Malema, have exalted the name of Mugabe as a
revolutionary role model of the calibre of Patrice Lumumba, while in reality
he is a wrong model of the likes of Idi Amin and Moise Tshombe - a venal
dictator and conspirator against African interests by night who by day
masquerades as an African liberator of messianic extents.

The violent and chaotic land reform project that has been sold around as
evidence of Mugabe's loyalty to black empowerment principles because it
involved taking land from white farmers and giving it to blacks, was carried
out in panic after Mugabe and his Zanu-PF party were rejected by the people
in a constitutional referendum in 2000.

The seized land became a fat bribe with which Mugabe sought to buy back the
political favour of the peasants who had resoundingly forsaken him and his
party.

When his political position was not threatened Mugabe was happy to protect
British farms, mines and factories in Zimbabwe.

For looking after their economic interests, the whites in Zimbabwe supported
Mugabe and his party financially and politically. In the thickness of the
Gururahundi genocide in 1985, which left 40000 Matebeles dead, Jim Sinclair,
the then president of the white commercial farmers union, said the genocide
was "justified", as the government of Mugabe had a "legitimate right to rule
the country as it saw fit".

At the same time, asked by the BBC Panorama stringers for comment, British
deputy high commissioner Roger Martin defended Mugabe's ethnic cleansing as
"comprehensible, it has a certain rationality other than mere brutishness",
he said.

The symbiotic relationship between Mugabe and the British did not end with
rhetorical support and money changing hands, but it extended to royal
endorsement for Mugabe and his policies.

In 1994 the queen of England invited Mugabe to England's Buckingham Palace
and Knighted him with the Order of Bath when Mugabe's hands were still
dripping with the blood of black civilians slaughtered in the Gukurahundi
genocide.

British mining magnate and media mogul Tiny Roland, whose disused mine in
Bhalagwe, Matabeleland South, was turned by Mugabe into a huge mass grave,
was splashing money on Mugabe and Zanu-PF.

So generous was Roland to Zanu-PF in gratitude for mining rights and other
fat business concessions that he fired a journalist, Donald Trafford, from
his newspaper in England for reporting on Gukurahundi as a crime against
humanity.

Only in the year 2000, when the British turned around to support the new MDC
party and Morgan Tsvangirai, a former Mugabe stalwart, did Mugabe start
seizing white-owned farms, mines, factories and other businesses British
nationals and whites to fix them for turning against him and his party that
had looked after their interests so well. It was for political expediency,
not principle, as we are told.

At about the same time, the war veterans of Zimbabwe's liberation were
clamouring for compensation for their war troubles and injuries and
threatening to align with the ZCTU labour movement to topple Mugabe once and
for all.

Mugabe paid them off and turned them into his private reserve army which he
used to punish the whites and MDC supporters in a storm of political
violence.

It was only then, when whites began to be killed by Mugabe's mobs that the
British began to condemn Mugabe for human rights abuses and to impose travel
and economic sanctions on him and his comrades.

Clearly, both Mugabe and the British are partners in crimes against the
people of Zimbabwe and not the enemies they present themselves.

Even more hypocritical is the pretence by Mugabe that he is a courageous son
of Africa whose life is dedicated to fighting imperialism and defending
black economic and political rights.

It's true he spent 11 years behind the bars of a Rhodesian prison for his
contribution to the liberation struggle in Zimbabwe, but he turned around
and conspired with the British against Zimbabweans and with their support
committed genocide and ethnic cleansing.

When Cecil John Rhodes and his pioneers landed in Zimbabwe, for the mineral
wealth of the land, its scenic beauty, sunshine and fertility, he named it
"the jewel of Africa" and pronounced that "natives must never be allowed to
govern their own affairs because they will finish each other off".

Many decades later Ian Smith was to vow that "never in a thousand years will
black majority rule happen" in Zimbabwe, then Rhodesia.

By committing genocide, turning violence into an arm of government and
terror into a national policy, Mugabe has given truth to Rhodes's
unfortunate and false prophecy about the blacks and primitive resort to
violence and cruelty.

By refusing to leave office after being defeated in elections and ensuring
that his party - which is now an unpopular minority - remains in power by
force, Mugabe fulfils Smith's racist statement that black majority rule will
never in a thousand years happen in Zimbabwe.

In true history, Mugabe will go down the annals of posterity as the man who
reduced a country that was the breadbasket of Africa to a basket case of
poverty, disease and pestilence, whose citizens are now scattered throughout
the globe as political and economic refugees.

Calling Mugabe a gallant Pan-Africanist who is committed to black economic
empowerment is as true as claiming Osama bin Laden was an Anglican bishop.

    Mpofu is a media, journalism and public relations consultant


X Factor star Gamu wins deportation fight

http://www.independent.co.uk/

Cordelia O'Neill

Tuesday 29 November 2011

Former X Factor contestant Gamu Nhengu, her two brothers and her mother have
won their fight to stay in the UK.

The teenager and her family, originally from Zimbabwe, had been refused
leave to remain in the UK in February by the Home Office.

Earlier this year, the family successfully appealed the decision, but the
Home Office then tried to overturn the decision and have the family
deported.

The Home Office confirmed a judge at the Immigration Court in Glasgow
refused the Home Office appeal - meaning that the young singer and her
family have been granted leave to remain in the country.

The family's lawyer, Frances Farrell, said the family were "delighted".

She said: "This has come after such a long ordeal.

"The Home Office has a last resort appeal right to the Court of Session, but
I hope they respect the judgment made today.

"My client has been granted leave to remain in the UK so now she and her
family are able to get on with their lives and put this behind them."

The teenager, who lives in Tillicoultry, Clackmannanshire, shot to fame on
last year's X Factor when she was controversially booted off the show during
the judges' houses round.

Gamu was dropped by judge Cheryl Cole, who took Katie Waissel, Cher Lloyd
and Rebecca Ferguson through to the live finals.

The singer's mother had her visa renewal turned down in August 2010,
sparking a long battle against deportation to Zimbabwe.

But a UK Borders Agency spokesman said they were "disappointed" with the
ruling.

He said: "We are disappointed with the court's decision in this case and
will be looking closely at the judgment.

"The UK Border Agency considers every case carefully and where we do not
believe someone has the right to stay in the country, and they do not
require our protection, we expect them to return home."

PA


Marange Diamond Revenue: A Clueless Jigsaw Puzzle?



By Clifford Chitupa Mashiri, 29/11/11.

The statistics or estimates of proceeds from Marange diamonds are so
mind-boggling in their discrepancies that at the end of the day, one is left
with a clueless jigsaw puzzle, if not a headache.

For instance, following the lifting of the ban on the sale of Marange
diamonds by the Kimberley Process (KP) Zanu-pf Mines Minister Obert Mpofu
announced that the government expects US$2 billion yearly gross from Marange
diamond sales.

Then there was a hint that of that amount, US$300 million was earmarked for
civil servants bonuses, without clarity about what the rest of the greater
portion of the remaining US$1.7 billion would be used for after paying
shareholders and hopefully taxes.

Meanwhile, the US$300million for civil service pay arguably includes an
estimated 75 000 ghost workers when government is spending US$960 million or
more than 60 percent of its revenues per year on recurrent expenditure
without any meaningful investment in infrastructure unlike other SADC
countries.

Just two months ago, a war of words erupted between Finance Minister Tendai
Biti and Mines Minister Obert Mpofu over the remittance of money realised
from the sale of diamonds.

Of concern were the low remittance figures despite the huge production at
Marange in 2011. For example, between January and June 2011, Zimbabwe
exported 716 958.50 carats from Marange diamond fields and during that
period only US$103.9 million of diamond export shipments was accounted for.

Then, in his recent budget speech, Finance Minister Tendai Biti confirmed
diamond dividend receipts of US$ 122 million in 2011 and said he had held
extensive consultations with the Mines Minister and diamond producers who
had assured him of minimum US$600 million additional revenue for 2012.

Now, if during the first half of 2011 only US$103.9 million of diamond
exports were accounted for and by November 2011 the year’s proceeds to
Treasury totalled US$122 million, it means only US$18.1million of diamonds
were exported in the second half of 2011 -  a huge discrepancy that defies
logic and deserves clarification.

In 2010, declared total proceeds from diamond sales amounted to US$313.5
million from which Government received US$48.4 million while US$41.6 million
was belatedly received in February 2011. The rest was reportedly paid to
ZIMRA as royalties, corporate tax, VAT and withholding tax.

How do the ministers account for such wide variances in their estimates in
view of last year’s unconvincing figures and remittances amidst allegations
of smuggling and undervaluing of Zimbabwe’s gems which were then sold on
Asian markets for a song?

For instance, if in 2010, diamond revenue was US$313 million how does
Minister Mpofu account for his estimate of US$2billion annually henceforth?
Does that mean because there are no more loopholes, so we can expect more
revenue? Can Mpofu’s estimate also apply in retrospect?

Similarly, if Treasury received only US$122million in 2011, what has
convinced it that it will get a minimum US$600 million in 2012?

Clifford Chitupa Mashiri, Political Analyst, London,
zimaanalysis2009@gmail.com


Cooking in a Three Legged Pot

http://www.eddiecross.africanherd.com/

I often say to people who have an interest and concern for what is going on
in Zimbabwe that if they are not confused; then they have not been here long
enough. The confusion arises from deliberate misleading information in the
public sphere, and often just because events move fast behind the scenes and
the various players are trying to outmaneuver each other.

Since 2000, three centers of power in Zimbabwe have emerged and are engaged
in a savage struggle for supremacy. Each of these power centers have
subgroups and divisions of their own – but remain today as coherent centers
of power. These are: -
- The JOC, a military structure inherited by Mugabe in 1980 from the
Rhodesian war which has evolved into a form of a military Junta in the past
decade. It is dominated by the military but has a number of senior
hardliners from Zanu PF in its ranks;
- Zanu PF under the leadership of Robert Mugabe, a clever, if reclusive and
aging leader who has maintained an iron grip on the Party and the State
through a mixture of intelligence, hard discipline sometimes involving
targeted assassinations and patronage on a massive scale;
- and the MDC under the leadership of Morgan Tsvangirai, a genuine democrat
who has long association with Zanu PF but who split with the Party in 1997
after concluding that Zanu PF had to be removed from power if Zimbabwe was
to make progress.

The emergence of this third leg in the power structure gave rise to a
massive reaction from both the JOC and Zanu PF which essentially destroyed
the economy and eventually drew in the region in an effort to halt the
carnage and limit collateral damage on Zimbabwe’s neighbors.

While these three centers of power struggled for ascendancy over the past
decade, the intervention of the region gradually metamorphosed into the form
it has today and this is critical to understanding the present situation and
assessing any possible outcome.

In 2000, South Africa, the regional super power, concluded that a MDC
victory in the struggle in Zimbabwe would not be in its interests and over
the following three years they used their diplomatic and regional power to
back Zanu PF and Robert Mugabe, the JOC occupied a supportive role and MDC
was totally outgunned – its only power source being its growing cohesion and
popular support.

In 2004 and 2005, South Africa decided first that Mugabe had become a
liability and sought, with the help of senior Zanu PF leaders and the JOC,
to have him replaced as leader of Zanu PF. In 2005 South Africa concluded
that both Mugabe and Tsvangirai were a hindrance to securing a workable
solution and worked clandestinely to have both men removed from the legs of
the power pot that they represented.

In 2006/7 the South Africans decided that their strategies in Zimbabwe were
not working and they moved to support a process of negotiated change in
Zimbabwe which would bring into being a workable government that would be
able to attract international support and enable recovery in the economic
sphere and stabilize the political situation. This gave rise to the GPA
process and eventually created the present Transitional Government in which
Zanu PF and the MDC share power.

The main problem was that the new nature of the new government was a recipe
for deadlock and did nothing to resolve the underlying power struggle. It
did however give the MDC real power for the first time, for many this was a
burden, not a new opportunity, and spurred efforts to co-opt the MDC and
blur its image as a real agent of change. MDC meetings have become
associated with rows of luxury vehicles where in the past only mini busses
and broken down jalopies attended MDC meetings – all the result of its new
links to the power and patronage structures of government created by Zanu PF
over the past 30 years.

But the new arrangement has halted the decline in the economy and started a
recovery. This has been retarded by deliberate subversion of the economy by
Zanu PF because the recovery is seen as being a sole MDC construct. It has
also complicated the nature of the political struggle. Images of Mugabe and
Tsvangirai working together have muddied the water in which the struggle is
being waged.

The other major change has been in the nature of South African engagement.
This has been driven by ancillary developments in the region – the change in
leadership in South Africa, changes within the ANC and then changes in the
nature and character of SADC support and intervention.

While this situation has metamorphosed into what faces us today, the
situation within the three pillars of power in Zimbabwe has changed. In Zanu
PF the major development has been the decline in the health of its leader,
Mugabe. It is now clear to all associated with our crisis that a leadership
change in Zanu PF is only a question of time. How it will happen depends on
the leadership of Zanu PF itself and the continued ability of Mugabe to
maintain his grip on power within the Party and in Government.

In the MDC leg to the Pot, power has consolidated around Tsvangirai who is
clearly the man of the future. The other factions of the MDC that are
products of the 2005 machinations of South African meddling have faded into
irrelevancy.

The JOC remains intact but has been severely damaged by preemptive strikes
from South Africa. Denied any possibility of an independent attempt at
grasping power using its military and political power, the leadership is
contemplating how they can grasp control of the leadership in Zanu PF, now
their only hope of remaining relevant. The belief that they can take control
and assume the leadership of Zanu PF and thereby the Presidency, is
astonishing and is characterized by supreme unjustified arrogance.

For Zanu PF the Rubicon is approaching in the form of their National
Conference next week. If they stick to Mugabe as their President and
candidate for any coming election they will be the laughing stock of the
country. Mugabe is clearly no longer able to campaign or manage the State
effectively.

Last week we understand the South African Cabinet agreed to a new strategy
for resolving the never ending crisis in Zimbabwe. As the case in the past
this will be pivotal in determining what happens here in the next few weeks
and months. For me, the way is clear; South Africa will force the parties to
the crisis in Zimbabwe to negotiate a compromise. This will bring Tsvangirai
to power as President under a revised constitution and create a reformed
National Unity Government that will dissolve the JOC, normalize the
environment for eventual elections and allow the full recovery on
international relations and the economy.

Eddie Cross
Bulawayo, 27th November 2011


Bill Watch 53/2011 of 28th November [2012 Budget Highlights and Getting Money Bills Through Parliament ]

BILL WATCH 53/2011

[28th November 2011]

The 2012 Budget

Note: Budget for Constitutional and Referendum but No Budget for Elections

The Minister of Finance, Hon Tendai Biti, presented the 2012 Budget Statement in the House of Assembly on 24th November, taking just over two hours to deliver his speech, at the end of which he tabled the Estimates of Expenditure for 2012.  [See Budget Highlights below.]

The Minister of Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs, Hon Eric Matinenga, then moved the adjournment of the debate, explaining that members and especially portfolio committees needed time to look into the Budget Statement and analyse the Estimates. The House of Assembly accordingly adjourned until Thursday 1st December, when debate will continue.  From Monday 28th November to Thursday 1st December portfolio committees will conduct their post-Budget analysis and prepare reports to be presented to the House when debate resumes.

The Budget on the Internet

The full texts of the Budget Statement and the Estimates of Expenditure [the “Blue Book”] can be downloaded from the Ministry of Finance website at http://www.zimtreasury.org/downloads/.  Both documents are in PDF format: the Budget Statement is 4.1MB, and the Blue Book is 1MB.   [If you do not have suitable Internet access, both documents are available on request from veritas@mango.zw] 

Budget Highlights

No funds for elections:  The Minister has not allocated any funds for the holding of the next general election – an indication that at this stage a general election in 2012 is considered highly unlikely by all sides [this is in fact a Government-approved  Budget, not just the Minister of Finance’s budget].  Addressing a Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries post-budget meeting on 25th November the Minister said it would be almost impossible to hold an election next year because of the political situation.  The issue was political than budgetary; if an election was called resources for it would have to be found.  [Note: When listing the themes on which the Budget would focus, the Minister mentioned support toelection preparedness, including the Voters Roll” as a component of “monetizing the GPA provisions”.] 

Budget for Constitution-Making Process and Referendum:  The Minister said that “to facilitate adoption and approval of the new Constitution, which is currently at its finalisation stage” he proposed allocating $30 million towards “completion of the constitution-making process and the Referendum”.  

A pro-Poor Budget:  The Minister emphasised that the intention of the Budget is to focus on “attaining both growth that is pro-poor, broad based across all sectors, and a pattern of growth that moves us towards structural transformation”.  There will be a $20 million Jobs Fund aimed at reducing unemployment.

Cash budgeting to continue:  The watchword will continue to be that the government can only spend what it earns.

Revenue projection boosted by expected diamond revenues:  The Budget Strategy Paper framed in August estimated revenue of $3.4 billion for 2012.  But the decision by the Kimberley Process on 1st November to approve sales of Marange diamonds resulted in an upward adjustment of projected revenue by $600 million to $4 billion, with a corresponding expansion of estimated expenditure.  The Minister said half the additional $600 million would go to infrastructure development, and half to recurrent expenditure, including paying Government arrears to service providers [$17 million], student grants [$25 million] and the constitution-making process and referendum [$30 million].

State wages bill still disproportionate:  The Minister bemoaned the fact that a high and disproportionate share of Budget expenditures has to go to wages [57%]

Expenditure - Selected Figures

 [All figures to nearest million]

Total projected expenditure:  This is $4 billion, made up of:

·      Constitutional and statutory appropriations:  $352 million [see below for details]

·      Vote appropriations:  $3.648 billion [see below for selected individual votes]

Constitutional and statutory appropriations [“cons and stats”]

These amounts must be paid out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund [CRF] by virtue of appropriations already made by the Constitution and Acts of Parliament mandating payments from the CRF for specific purposes.  As such they do not have to be approved by Parliament again during the current Budget exercise, but they must be covered by revenue.  Examples of cons and stats are: the salaries and allowances of the President, the Speaker of the House of Assembly and the President of the Senate, the judges and other constitutional appointees such as the Public Protector and Comptroller and Auditor-General; State service pensions; and war veterans and ex-political prisoners pensions.  Pension-related payments account for the bulk of cons and stats.  Amounts listed under this heading include:

President’s salary and allowances:  $97 000

Speaker’s and Senate President’s salary and allowances:  $150 000

State service pensions:  $178 million

Commutation of State service pensions:  $$51 million

War veterans and ex-political prisoners pensions:  $91 million

Allocations  

[These and all the other “vote appropriations” in the Estimates of Expenditure require the approval of the House of Assembly and enactment into law by the Appropriation Bill.  They include the majority of State employment costs.]

President and Cabinet Office:  $172 million, including:

Foreign travel expenses:  $25 million

State residences:  $14 million

Prime Minister’s Office:  $19 million, including:

Foreign travel expenses:  $7 million

Education and Higher and Tertiary Education:  $1.15 billion all told, covering: 

Education:  $707 million

Higher and Tertiary Education:  $296 million

Health:  $346 million

Defence:  $318 million

Home Affairs [including Police]:  $308 million

Police:  $274 million

Registrar-General:  $18 million

Agriculture:  $227 million

Public Service:  $126 million [mainly employment costs]

Justice and Legal Affairs:  $111 million

This includes the Prison Service [$83 million] and the Attorney-General’s Office [$4 million], but not the Judicial Service, which comes under the separate vote for the Judicial Service Commission.

Youth Development, Indigenisation and Empowerment:  $48 million, of which

Employment costs account for $30 million

Judicial Service Commission:  $23 million [including $9 million for employment costs – salaries and allowances of magistrates and supporting staff]

Parliament:  $18 million

Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs:  $10 million

[he amount allocated for constituency development funds remains the same as for 2011: $800 000.

Taxation Proposals

Income tax-free threshold:  This is to be increased from $225 to $250 per month, effective 1st January 2012.

Income tax bands:   Tax bands will be widened, starting at $250 and going up to $10 000, above which income will be taxed at the highest rate of 45%, effective 1st January 2012.

Bonus tax exempt threshold:  This is to be raised from $500 to $700 with effect from 1st November 2011, i.e., it will be applicable to 2011 end-of-year bonuses.

Civil service allowances to be tax-free: Civil service incentives not already tax-free will be tax exempt, effective 1st November 2011 [allowances constitute nearly half of civil service incomes].

Customs and excise duties:  Various adjustments to duties are proposed, both up [e.g., excise duty on cigarettes and customs duty on some imported finished products, such as selected motor vehicles and electrical goods, and fruit and vegetables in season] and down [e.g. customs duties on some imported raw materials].  There will be a rebate of customs duty on sporting kit and equipment donated to registered sports associations. 

Royalties on precious metals:  There will be an increase in gold [4.5% to 7%] and platinum [5% to 10%] royalties. 

Cooperating Partner/Donor Assistance

The Minister estimated that for 2012 cooperating partner/donor assistance would be about $500 million.  [In 2011 they pledged $618 million for 2011, of which $371 million had been disbursed by September, outside the Budget framework, mainly in humanitarian assistance rather than development assistance.]  He said that the Government would continue to engage cooperating partners to increase and broaden support, “preferably by gradually shifting from humanitarian to development assistance” and “on the need to graduate from off-Budget support”.  Like the 2011 Budget, this Budget does not list donor funding in the Ministry of Finance’s Vote of Credit [this was last done in the 2010 Budget]. 

Getting the Budget through Parliament

When it resumes on 1st December the House of Assembly will debate the Minister’s Budget Statement before considering the Estimates of Expenditure.  The Estimates will be dealt with in a special committee of the whole House called the Committee of Supply.  The Estimates are divided into parts called “Votes”.  Each Vote lists the funds to be allocated to a particular Ministry or other accounting entity [e.g. the Judicial Service Commission or the Audit Office], giving a breakdown of the different classes of expenditure authorised.  The House will consider each of the 38 Votes separately.

If the House approves both Budget and Estimates, it will then move on to consider the two Bills that give effect to the Budget:  the Appropriation Bill, which will authorise Government expenditure for 2012 in accordance with the approved Estimates, and the Finance Bill, to give effect to those aspects of the Minister’s taxation proposals which cannot be implemented by statutory instrument.

Motion passed to “fast-track” Estimates and Bills:  Immediately before the Budget presentation last Thursday afternoon the House approved a Government motion, proposed by Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Eric Matinenga, suspending various certain Standing Orders to enable the House to fast track the consideration and approval of the Estimates, and the two Budget-related Bills.  [This means the House’s ordinary rules about taking only one stage of a Bill on the same day, adjourning at 7 pm, not ordinarily sitting on Friday, adjourning at 1 pm on a Friday and allowing the Parliamentary Legal Committee 26 days to report on a Bill, will not apply.]  It remains to be seen whether allowing fast-tracking will enable Parliament to get through everything that needs to be done on Thursday 1st and Friday 2nd December.  If it does not, there will have to be a break of at least a week to allow ZANU-PF MPs to attend the ZANU-PF conference in Bulawayo from 6th to 9th December.  Depending on progress, therefore, one or both of the Houses may have to sit during the week commencing Tuesday 13th December.  [Note: The fast-tracking resolution does not apply to any other Bills, so there is no prospect of any other Bills, such as the lapsed and controversial Human Rights Commission Bill and Electoral Amendment Bill, being rushed through before the end of the year.] 

Possible Resistance from MPs:  MPs have become increasingly discontented about Parliament being treated as a rubber-stamp institution by the Executive.  What can they do if not happy with aspects of the Budget?  According to Standing Orders MPs cannot vote to increase allocations proposed by the Minister, but they are allowed to show their disapproval by reducing or omitting allocations for purposes not acceptable to them.  Or they could refuse to approve the Estimates and the Bills, thereby forcing a re-think of the Budget.  That would be unusual, but would not necessarily bring the business of government to a grinding halt at the end of the year.  In accordance with the Constitution, there is provision in the Public Finance Management Act for limited temporary financing of government activities for the first four months of 2012 if the Appropriation Bill is not passed.  There are indications from yesterday’s post-Budget workshop that although a motion was passed to fast-track the Budget bills the MP’s will refuse to do so and will want to take their time.

Role of the Senate:  If passed by the House of Assembly, the two Budget Bills will be transmitted to the Senate.  If the Senate does not want any amendments to the Bill and the Bill is passed as it comes from the House, it will go straight to the President to sign.  If the Senate want to amend the Bill, according to the Constitution, as both Bills are “money bills” it cannot do so directly.  It has to recommend its amendments to the House and the House must consider them, but is not obliged to accept them.  If the House accepts the Senate’s suggested amendments, they will be incorporated before the Bill is then submitted to the President for assent. 

 

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