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Officials denied visas, Mugabe cancels UN trip

http://af.reuters.com/

Wed Oct 26, 2011 3:24pm GMT

* Mugabe's wife, senior officials denied visas

* Zimbabwe lodges protest with UN, Swiss government

* Mugabe's party in anti-sanctions drive

By Cris Chinaka

HARARE, Oct 26 (Reuters) - Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has been
forced to cancel a trip to Geneva for a United Nations meeting this week
after his wife and some of his aides were denied visas, state media said on
Wednesday.

Western countries, including the United States and the European Union,
imposed travel and financial sanctions on Mugabe and senior officials of his
ZANU-PF party almost a decade ago over charges of rights abuses and vote
rigging.

But the sanctions, which Mugabe argues are punishment for his seizure and
redistribution of white-owned commercial farms to black Zimbabweans, have
traditionally not been applied for U.N. meetings.

On Wednesday, the official Herald newspaper said Mugabe, 87, had scrapped a
trip to Switzerland for an International Telecommunications Union summit
after his wife Grace, Foreign Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, chief
spokesman George Charamba and three other senior officials were refused
travel permits.

Private media in Zimbabwe reported that Mugabe had planned to travel with a
62-member delegation.

Harare had lodged a protest with both the Swiss government and the United
Nations, the Herald said.

"This was a highly regrettable decision which was a clear violation of the
United Nations headquarters' host agreement and Zimbabwe's sovereign right
to determine the composition of its delegation," a foreign affairs official
was quoted as saying.

An ITU spokesman said invitations had been sent to all members but questions
of border control were left to host countries. Mugabe officials were not
immediately available for comment.

The Swiss embassy in Harare confirmed some visa applications had been turned
down but declined to comment on charges that Switzerland had adopted the
European Union's position on ZANU-PF although it is not a member of the
bloc.

State media quoted Charamba as saying Zimbabwe had noted the Swiss position
as a sign of changing times, and, without giving any details, promised an
appropriate diplomatic response.

ZANU-PF has in the past threatened to target for seizure foreign-owned firms
from countries supporting sanctions against Zimbabwe, and is now trying to
force mining firms to transfer majority shareholdings to black Zimbabweans.

Early this year ZANU-PF launched an anti-sanctions campaign, collecting
signatures countrywide, and officials say it will soon approach
international courts to challenge the legality of the sanctions.

Mugabe, who was forced into a power-sharing government with his rival Morgan
Tsvangirai as prime minister, says sanctions against his party are illegal
and have hit state-owned companies and Zimbabwe's ability to borrow money
abroad.

Critics say Zimbabwe's economic recovery from a decade-long crisis caused
largely by ZANU-PF policies will be slow and hard for as long as Mugabe
pursues his controversial black empowerment programmes.


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Interesting comments by Herald readers...

http://www.herald.co.zw/

President's delegation denied UN visas...
Wednesday, 26 October 2011 00:00

Herald Reporter

THE Zimbabwean Government has lodged a protest with the United Nations and
the Swiss government after the latter denied visas to six members of
President Mugabe's delegation to the International Telecommunications Union
summit on information communication technologies underway in Geneva.

President Mugabe was leading the delegation, but cancelled the trip after
the First Lady Amai Grace Mugabe, Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe
Mumbengegwi, Transport, Communications and Infrastructure Development
Minister Nicholas Goche, Director General in the President's Department
Retired Major General Happyton Bonyongwe, Secretary for Media, Information
and Publicity Mr George Charamba, and his aide de camp Senior Assistant
Commissioner Martin Kwainona were denied visas.
Information Communication Technology Minister Nelson Chamisa, who was part
of the delegation, was granted a visa.

A senior official in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed yesterday
that Zimbabwe had lodged a protest with the UN and the Swiss authorities.
"We noted that this was a highly regrettable decision which was a clear
violation of the United Nations headquarters host agreement and Zimbabwe's
sovereign right to determine the composition of its delegation," the
official said.

According to the official, Zimbabwe lodged its protest through the Swiss
embassies in Harare and Geneva, the UN in New York as well as to the UN
secretary-general, his representative at the ITU and the secretary-general
of the ITU, which is headquartered in Geneva.
The ITU is a UN specialised agency for telecommunications.

"Our ambassadors (to the UN in Geneva and the UN in New York) were told that
the Swiss had made their decision and not violated the host agreement. They
(Swiss authorities) argued that they had given visas to the Zimbabwean
delegation and those given were adequate to represent Zimbabwe at the
summit," said the official.
Section 11 of the host agreement says authorities of the host nation shall
not impose any impediments to transit to or from the headquarters (of a UN
body) on persons invited by the UN or by such specialised agency on official
business.

In this case, the President was invited by the ITU secretary-general and had
the right to determine the composition of his delegation. The Foreign
Affairs official said the Swiss embassy in Harare wrote to the Government
that they made the decision based on current Swiss law and obligations as a
host country (to a UN body).

The Swiss embassy also said it had done its part by issuing "exceptionally a
visa to President Mugabe" and taking into consideration that those denied
visas were on the European Union sanctions list.
Switzerland is not a member of the EU, but asserts to be an associate member
which is neutral in world politics.

However, President Mugabe, who was given a visa and the six who were denied
the visas, are all on the EU sanctions list, which bars them from travelling
to EU member countries.
But the travel restrictions do not apply to UN meetings because the world
body has not imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe and host countries of UN bodies
are therefore required to grant visas for such meetings.
Contacted for comment yesterday, Mr Charamba said: "These are changed times
and nowadays you become neutral from one side, in this case the western
side. Switzerland has called itself neutral in terms of international
politics, anyway the Zimbabwe Government knows what recourse it takes in
terms of international law."

Mr Charamba said it was surprising that a country which calls itself neutral
had taken a decision to divide a government of national unity, a family (the
First Family)and a delegation by issuing visas to some members and denying
others.
Minister Chamisa yesterday said he was no longer attending the summit.

"I am no longer going. I was supposed to go with the President but we are no
longer going," he said.
Minister Goche said this was the second time after 2009 that he had been
denied a visa to attend a world ICT summit.
He said the Swiss authorities' arguments were flimsy given that in April
this year he was granted a visa to attend a World Meteorological meeting in
Geneva and for five years when he was Labour Minister he attended
International Labour Organisation meetings in Geneva.

Justice and Legal Affairs Minister Patrick Chinamasa was also recently in
Geneva attending a UN Human Rights Council meeting.
Mr Charamba said despite the Zimbabwe delegation not attending the summit,
the country will forge ahead with promotion of ICTs.

Comments
Monya - Wednesday, October 26, 2011 at 12:14 AMThank you to the Swiss
government for help us save some money from these blood sucking travelers

Newton - Wednesday, October 26, 2011 at 12:18 AMwhat international law is
charamba talking about? Garai kuzimbabwe ikoko. Inga munotuka Europe every
day...why not go kuBuhera munokohwa chibage vanaCHARAMBA. Handiti mune
mafarm. What business do you have in switzerland...well done swiss
government....President always goes to europe with 200 people....why????
....zimbabwe can be represented by the ambassadors...we don't need a big
crowd......there is a reason why it has gone like this. It didn't happen in
1988. As yourself what have we done wrong and you know what u did. Mhondi
dzevanhu!!

Homegirl - Wednesday, October 26, 2011 at 12:35 AMGet over it, please! The
rest of us mortals jump through hoops all the time to get visas. It's not an
easy ride for anyone, ad this is not a life-and-death summit. Just one less
shopping trip for some people. Stay home to clean house and do some DIY
repairs. Not worth moaning about going to other people's countries. As if we
don't give foreigners a hard time ourselves. Even I, a Zim citizen
travelling on a Zim passport, was 'given' 3 months to stay by an idiot
immigration officer last time I landed at Harare airport. Where was I going
to be deported to if I 'overstayed'?! So we have a lot of work to do on our
home territory, instead of adopting this victim mentality over silly things.

baRuva - Wednesday, October 26, 2011 at 12:42 AMwhy come kunotonhora kudai,
garai kumusha murime mvura yoda kunaya
Mr. Jinx - Wednesday, October 26, 2011 at 12:52 AMRegardless of what we
think about the sanction list and visa problems, we really have to ask: What
was such a bloated delegation including the First Lady doing at this
conference?

Timi - Wednesday, October 26, 2011 at 01:01 AMGood. You have to be made to
feel you are real pariahs in the international community. You cannot
continue to oppress your own people and expect to gallivant around the
world. Very good.

Watching - Wednesday, October 26, 2011 at 01:06 AMAnd Chamisa refuses to go
without Mugabe....and in that linked story he is described as "supersonic"
by the President....something is going on here...


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Mugabe rumoured to be back in Singapore

http://www.swradioafrica.com/

By Alex Bell
26 October 2011

Robert Mugabe is rumored to have once again flown to Singapore this week,
after quietly leaving Zimbabwe and giving no indication as to his travel
plans.

Mugabe reportedly snuck out of the country earlier this week, leaving
Cabinet in a state of confusion because he was not there to chair the
Tuesday meeting. It was then reported on Wednesday that he had cancelled a
planned trip to Switzerland for a UN conference, and that he left for
Singapore instead.

Reports as early as Monday had said that Mugabe was due to travel to
Johannesburg for a connecting flight to Singapore. If true, this would be
the ageing ZANU PF leader’s eighth trip to Asia this year alone, amid
ongoing speculation that he is receiving treatment for prostate cancer.

This is the second time this month that Mugabe is said to have traveled to
Asia for medical treatment, and after returning from his last trip, Mugabe
claimed he had gone there on a private visit to see his daughter Bona. She
is studying in Hong Kong.

But it is widely believed, and fiercely denied by ZANU PF, that Mugabe is
getting serious treatment. The party has insisted that Mugabe’s only health
concerns are related to his eyes. But his repeated trips, courtesy of the
taxpayer, have hinted at something more serious.

Leaked diplomatic cables by the whistle blowing group WikiLeaks have added
more fuel to the fire. In one of the leaked cables, a US diplomat is said to
have seen Mugabe checking in at a cancer clinic in Singapore in May and
August in 2008. Gideon Gono was then quoted by a different leaked cable as
confirming that Mugabe is being treated for prostate cancer.

Meanwhile, other members of the government have also started questioning the
details of Mugabe health. Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai was quoted in an
interview with the UK’s Guardian newspaper of UK this week as saying:

“President Mugabe’s health is a national question, a national concern. Why?
Because when you have a partner whose state of health is unpredictable, and
that partner holds the key to the unity of the opponent, what is likely to
be the outcome should he die is instability in the party, which leads to
instability in the country.”


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State case against Gwisai and others crumbling

http://www.swradioafrica.com/

By Tichaona Sibanda
26 October 2011

The state case against former MDC-T legislator Munyaradzi Gwisai seems to be
crumbling, following serious questions about the credibility of the
prosecution’s ‘star’ witness who failed to show up in court on Wednesday.

Gwisai is being accused of plotting against the government. The University
of Zimbabwe law lecturer is jointly charged with Antoneta Choto, Tatenda
Mombeyarara, Edson Chakuma, Hopewell Gumbo and Welcome Zimuto.

The group was arrested in February after watching videos of the Arab spring
uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia. They were initially charged with treason and
plotting to overthrow Robert Mugabe but that was downgraded to ‘conspiracy
to commit public violence’.
The defence team, led by leading human rights lawyer Alec Muchadehama, was
on Wednesday disappointed Jonathan Shoko did not turn up for cross
examination. Police brought a sick report dated 25 October in which he was
given three days bed rest by a doctor.

Muchadehama applied for discharge, but the magistrate granted the
postponement application by the state to the 1st November. This is the fifth
time the trial has been adjourned due absence or excuses.

Under oath Shoko told the court he is a police sergeant, while
investigations by the defence team allege that he might be on the payroll of
the CIO and was testifying falsely. If this turns out to be true Shoko could
find himself in serious trouble for committing perjury, for wilfully telling
an untruth in a court.

Muchadehama was non-committal about their planned approach to discredit
Shoko’s testimony.

‘We get this feeling the police are no longer keen to have this matter
finalised. Previous indications showed that police were in a hurry to get a
conviction but suddenly they’re dragging their feet,’ Muchadehama said.

In February Shoko infiltrated the meeting attended by civic and human rights
activists. But infiltration is the job of the intelligence services, not the
police.

‘I think it is clear Shoko knows he has been cornered and that his lies are
to be exposed, hence his attempt to absent himself in court for several
times on flimsy excuses,’ a source close to the case said.


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Chogm to debate Zim political woes

http://www.dailynews.co.zw

By Tonderai Kwenda in Australia
Wednesday, 26 October 2011 09:01

PERTH - Although Zimbabwe is not officially part of proceedings here, the
troubled southern African country’s economic and political woes are firmly
on the discussion table.

The country is set to feature in many discussions taking place here at the
Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (Chogm) taking place throughout the
week.

Several activities from public marches, panel discussion and reports
presentations on Zimbabwe will take place during the week.

Today, the Commonwealth Organisations Committee on Zimbabwe will launch a
report taking stock of the political progress in the country.

The report titled “Zimbabwe: Routes to Progress” takes a look at progress
made so far in political and economic reforms in Zimbabwe since the
formation of the coalition government in 2009.

It also looks at whether the conditions prevailing in the country are good
enough for the readmission of the country to the commonwealth family of
nations as well as the holding of free and fair elections in the country.

On Friday, at the Commonwealth Round Table and Murdoch University will host
a discussion titled, “The Commonwealth — a force for global good?”

The event will feature two presentations on Zimbabwe. One, titled, “The
Commonwealth & Democracy Challenges, flashpoints and responses” which will
feature presentations by Matthew Neuhaus the Australian Ambassador to
Zimbabwe and Moses Chamboko of the Zimbabwe Information Centre.

On Thursday, the Commonwealth Advisory Bureau will launch the Commonwealth
Heads of Government Meeting 2011 Policy brief at the University of Western
Australia where the future of Zimbabwe within the commonwealth will be
discussed.

On Friday, a loose coalition of Zimbabwe organisations based in Australia
called the Democracy for Zimbabwe Contingent will lead a public march for
Zimbabwe in central Perth.

The organisation’s convenor, Paul Kaplan, said: “The march will be able to
call on the Chogm and Sadc leaders in Perth to end the daily incidents of
political violence in Zimbabwe, secure the dropping of charges against
Munyaradzi Gwisai and all political prisoners, uphold human rights of the
Zimbabwean people and ensure the holding of fair and free elections in
Zimbabwe.”

Although the Daily News could not get the Chogm official agenda of a meeting
to be officially opened by Queen Elizabeth II on Friday, diplomatic sources
said the issue of Zimbabwe will feature prominently during the discussions.

There are countries in the grouping of former British colonies who want
Zimbabwe readmitted into commonwealth unconditionally as an incentive to
encourage the coalition government to speed up democratic reforms.

Others particularly African countries want their western counterparts to
remove targeted sanctions on President Robert Mugabe and his inner circle as
a way of pushing him to embrace reforms required before the country can be
readmitted into the Commonwealth family of nations.

“There is more we can do as the Commonwealth to help Zimbabwe recover from a
terrible political and economic situation and our friends in the West can
assist us by tactically reviewing the sanctions position while we put
pressure on the Harare government to effect necessary reforms,” said a
diplomat from Botswana who is here to attend the festivities held every two
years.

Chogm, is a biennial summit meeting of the heads of government from all
Commonwealth nations.

Every two years the meeting is held in a different member state, and is
chaired by that nation’s respective leader.

It has often been criticised of failing to decisively deal with problems in
member countries and put too much emphasis on dealing only with member
countries which is why it was easy for Mugabe to simply pull out of the
grouping when he was confronted with tough questions on electoral violence
and fraud in 2002.

As a result, Mugabe dragged the country out of the grouping in 2003 before
it could be booted out.

But the incoming chairperson of the grouping, Australian Prime Minister,
Julia Gillard yesterday said it was time for the grouping to size up to its
challenges if it is to remain relevant.


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Zim plant generates controversy

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

October 26 2011 at 12:58pm

Zimbabwe's first green power plant produces ethanol from sugarcane and could
help the country achieve energy independence. But its detractors say it has
one big drawback: it has displaced local cotton farmers.

The Green Fuel Private Limited ethanol plant sits about 500 kilometres south
of Harare near the Mozambique border, amidst 11 500 hectares of sugarcane.

About 500 families lived near the plant until construction began in 2010.
These farmers now say they were booted by government and company officials
who promised them compensation, but never delivered.

“I was chucked out by government,” says Sam Rugare, a 78-year-old farmer who
told dpa that he worked on the land for 35

years. Ruramai Garwe, a widowed mother of seven, said that she can no longer
afford to pay her kids' tuition fees.

“We used to raise school fees from proceeds of cotton sales. Then we were
promised new jobs, but we've been waiting three years now for those jobs,”
Garwe said.

Officials from Green Fuel did not respond to a request for comment, but a
local government official countered the villagers' claim that they were not
fairly compensated.

“People genuinely displaced by the ethanol project received land and
irrigation facilities to improve their livelihoods,” said James Mundoma, a
local government official.

Member of parliament Meki Makuyana disagrees, and recently asked the federal
government to look into the compensation program.

But that's not enough for displaced farmers like Matthew Karikoga, who say
they heard promises of thousands of new jobs associated with the green
plant.

“It is not a development but a destruction project,” Karikoga said. “We are
not employed. They give employment to other people.”

General Manager Graeme Smith told The Zimbabwean newspaper in 2010 that the
project would generate 6000 jobs and assist 3000

small-scale farmers. But the actual number of jobs generated seems to have
been considerably less, critics said.

The farmers have threatened to invade the sugar cane irrigation plantation
and replant their cotton.

Yet the plant itself could bring significant benefits to Zimbabweans. Green
Fuel says it has already generated 2 million litres of ethanol that it can
sell as soon as tax authorities give them a licence to do so. The facility
generates 160 000 litres of ethanol fuel daily.

According to the government, the Chisumbanje ethanol plant is set to be the
biggest in sub-Saharan Africa with an expected output of over 40 million
litres a month when fully operational.

This would potentially allow Zimbabwe - which consumes about 2 million
litres of imported fuel every day - to achieve energy self sufficiency.

Despite its promised societal benefits, however, the 600-million-dollar
joint venture between state-run ARDA and a group of white private investors
led by Muller Conrad Rautenbach and Graeme Smith has been controversial.

Rautenbach, or Billy as he is known, was dubbed a “Mugabe regime crony” by
the United States and the European Union, and added to their travel ban
lists in 2009.

Rautenbach's involvement in the project raised concerns because he has, in
the past, “enabled Robert Mugabe to pursue policies that seriously undermine
democratic processes and institutions in Zimbabwe,” the British newspaper
The Guardian reported. - Sapa-dpa


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Registrar General faces court action after refusing Zim man passport

http://www.swradioafrica.com

By Alex Bell
26 October 2011

A Canadian based Zimbabwean man has taken ZANU PF’s Registrar General,
Tobaiwa Mudede, to court over Mudede’s refusal to grant him a passport.

Mudede’s office has refused to renew Sebastian Piroro’s Zimbabwean passport
which expired last year, after the office discovered that his late father
was born in Mozambique. According to the RG’s office although Piroro was
born in Zimbabwe more than 40 years ago, the fact that his father was born
in Mozambique meant he now had dual citizenship which is illegal in
Zimbabwe.

The registry argued that the law required Piroro to renounce his Mozambican
citizenship before he applies for a passport in Zimbabwe.

Piroro then took his fight to the High Court, which in March declared him a
Zimbabwean citizen. The same court ordered Mudede’s office to issue him with
a passport, but this has still not happened. Mudede could now find himself
in contempt of court when the matter is heard on Thursday.

Piroro’s case has highlighted the ongoing and outstanding dual citizenship
issue, which prevents tens of thousands of Zimbabweans from registering to
vote. ZANU PF has also actively campaigned for the dual citizenship law not
to be allowed in Zimbabwe, with Mudede last year telling party MPs that it
was “unpatriotic.”

Gabriel Shumba from the Zimbabwe Exiles Forum told SW Radio Africa on
Wednesday that the issue should be prioritised, explaining that it affects
many Zimbabweans in the Diaspora.

“It is a huge problem that does not start with people holding dual
citizenship. That is not the issue. The issue is that they are now being
punished selectively, and in many cases it is because they had to leave the
country,” Shumba said.

He added: “It is an immoral argument to deny people citizenship from their
country just because they were forced to leave and become unwilling citizens
of another country.”


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Broadcasting Authority Of Zimbabwe Board To Be Reconstituted - Tsvangirai

http://www.radiovop.com

Harare, October 26, 2011 – President Robert Mugabe and his two principals in
the inclusive government have agreed to the reconstitution of the Tafataona
Mahoso led Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) which is currently
superintending over the licencing of new broadcasters.

This was revealed in Parliament Wednesday by Prime Minister Morgan
Tsvangirai who was responding to questions by legislators during the
inaugural session of the Prime Minister Question Time.

“I want to assure you that myself, his Excellency the President and
Honourable Mutambara (Arthur), one of the critical interventions that we are
looking at and that we have directed the Minister of Information to do
is...that the broadcasting authority must be rectified, the board must be
reconstituted,” he said.

Tsvangirai was responding a question by MDC-T MP for Mutare Central
legislator Innocent Gonese who wanted to know what government was doing to
end the state broadcaster's (ZBC) monopoly on the airwaves.

The MDC leader also lashed at the ZimPapers stable for its current attempts
to extend its media empire to the airwaves. Currently there is no law in
Zimbabwe which prohibits cross ownership in the media.

“We cannot have a situation in which the same people who are controlling the
print media want again to go into radio,” he said.

The Zimpapers Talk Radio is one of the four prospective broadcasters that
include Radio VOP, AB Communications and KISS FM that were invited for
public hearings by BAZ currently chaired by Tafataona Mahoso who is also the
chief executive of the print regulatory authority, the Zimbabwe Media
Commission (ZMC). Radio VOP's hearing, which is the last of the four, is
expected to be heard on Friday.

BAZ intends to give two radio licenses and it is not yet clear what would
happen if the current BAZ is disbanded.

Tsvangirai also defended his position in the wake of state media reports he
was fighting for gay rights.

“My personal view does not matter,” he said, “The people of Zimbabwe are
writing a constitution in which they want to define their society and who am
I to question their wisdom if they want to put the issue of gay rights into
the constitution,” he said in response to a question by MDC-T legislator for
Bulawayo Central Dorcas Sibanda, who asked Tsvangirai to respond to press
reports he was advocating for the inclusion of gay rights in the
constitution.

“This is an elitist debate when people have no food, when people have no
jobs, when people have so many problems. Diverting the real issue and put
this issue at the focus of the nation is a real diversionary.”

Tsvangirai drew wild laughter from the house when he suggested, “perhaps I
am speaking here kuda mumwe musi mungangodai muringochani panapa (we may be
talking while some of you may be gays here). What you do in your private
sphere is your private problem.”

Tsvangirai also said Zimbabwe should abandon its intransigent stance towards
the new Libyan government which overthrew long serving leader Muammar
Gaddafi in a fierce war.

“Circumstances dictate behaviour,” he said, “The situation in Libya has
changed. I am sure that Zimbabwe is bound by AU position in spite of our own
personal or party positions. I think it’s very clear that we ago with the AU
position.”

Tsvangirai was responding to a question posed by MDC-T legislator for
Nkulumane Thamsanqa Mahlangu who wanted to know what government’s position
was in terms of accepting the new Libyan rulers.

Meanwhile, there was a lively atmosphere during the inaugural Prime Minister’s
Question Time where legislators from both Zanu (PF) and MDC were given equal
opportunity to throw questions at Tsvangirai.

In his opening remarks, Tsvangirai pleaded with MPs not to misconstrue the
session as an “a war situation” among the rival parties.


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‘Chombo’s dismissal of councillors irrational’

http://www.dailynews.co.zw

By Richard Chidza
Wednesday, 26 October 2011 09:37

HARARE - Harare city councillors fired by Local Government and Urban
Development Minister Ignatius Chombo last year, have won their jobs back.

Chombo suspended and subsequently fired the four MDC councillors, Maxwell
Katsande ward 26, Johnson Zaranyika ward 39, Paul Gorekore ward 3 and Silas
Machetu ward 25, over allegations of irregularly acquiring stands and
forcing themselves into council houses.

In a humiliating turn of events, a High Court judge ruled that Chombo’s
dismissal of the four councillors using evidence that could not be
substantiated was “irrational.”

Justice Barat Patel delivered a scathing attack over the way Chombo
disregarded the evidence of his own officials in order to fire the four, who
are members of the Elected Councillors Association of Zimbabwe (Ecaz) headed
by Warship Dumba.

“The town clerk and deputy director of housing were not called to testify at
the inquiry and moreover the commission totally ignored the evidence of the
director of housing (Chivavaya) and that of chief housing officer (Mandizha)
which evidence clearly exculpated the applicants of any wrongdoing,” said
Justice Patel in his ruling.

“In short the findings of guilt in relation to all four applicants were so
grossly irrational in their defiance of logic that no reasonable person
applying his mind to the matter could possibly have arrived at those
decisions,” Patel said.

He said Chombo acted on the findings and recommendations of his commission
but disregarded the detailed record of proceedings of the inquiry and the
evidence contained therein.

“If he (Chombo) had done so he would not have simply adopted the commission’s
findings and recommendations of dismissal,” said Justice Patel.

Two of the four councillors who were at the High Court said justice had
prevailed.

“We are all ready to serve the people who elected us beginning now, it was
only political and we knew it was a minor setback,” Katsande said.

Katsande told the Daily News the councillors had all along known they were
victims of Zanu PF political machinations.

He claimed that at one time Chombo had sent an emissary in the form of MDC
councillor Herbert Gomba of ward 27 in Glen Norah to ask the four to
apologise to the minister for the case to wash off.

“Gomba approached us saying he had links with the minister and what we only
needed to do was apologise to Chombo,” said Katsande.

“We all refused. Gomba actually told us we were going to be fired and it
happened as he had said. Gomba also said PM Tsvangirai had less power than
Chombo,” Katsande said.

Councillor Gomba could not be contacted for comment.


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‘Hired thugs’ attack Anglicans in Mutare

http://www.dailynews.co.zw

By Editor
Wednesday, 26 October 2011 08:59

MUTARE - Scores of worshippers from the Anglican Church at St Peter’s
Nyamandwe in Watsomba, 40km north of Mutare, sustained injuries as violent
clashes over the ownership of properties continue.

At least five members from the church were hospitalised on Monday at Mutasa
clinic with cuts in the head, bruises and swollen faces.

Others did not seek medical treatment as their injuries were said to be
“minimal.”

Some were referred to Nyanga district hospital yesterday.

Albertina Chikanya, a worshipper and treasurer at St Peter’s Nyamandwe
parish, told the Daily News that “worshippers” loyal to Bishop Nolbert
Kunonga and Elson Jakazi attacked her and several others during Sunday
service.

Both Kunonga and Jakazi have been expelled from the church but are demanding
control of properties after forming a breakaway outfit.

“Hired thugs beat me up and other people who were in church on Sunday,” said
Chikanya.

She said the attack on members loyal to the mother church was in
contravention of a High Court order granting the mother church access to the
property.

A church warden Chenai Mparutsa sustained a cut over his left eye and a
swollen lip.

Mparutsa said he was beaten until he lost consciousness.

“I only managed to wake up after several minutes. I was beaten with clenched
fists and had to be rescued out of the church building,” he said.

He said police at Mutasa’s Watsomba police station were yet to make arrests
despite the culprits being well known in the area.


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MDC Cries Foul Over Youth Member Arrests

http://www.voanews.com

25 October 2011

Local MDC official Jacob Gwature said two members were arrested Sunday and
three others were picked up Monday on allegations they chanted the slogan
“Mugabe mudenga, rovera pasi” at a youth forum

Jonga Kandemiiri | Washington

Officials of the Movement for Democratic Change formation of Zimbabwean
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai in Mashonaland Central province said five
youth members were arrested on charges of undermining President Robert
Mugabe's authority.

Local MDC official Jacob Gwature said two members were arrested Sunday and
three others were picked up Monday on allegations they chanted the slogan
“Mugabe mudenga, rovera pasi” at a youth forum in Glendale, Mashonaland
Central.

The Shona slogan means, “Mugabe up, then on the ground.”

Gwature said the five were being held at Bindura Central Police Station, and
that officers of the Zimbabwe Republic Police's law and order section were
seeking three others.

Bindura Central police officers would neither confirm nor deny the arrests.

Gwature told VOA reporter Jonga Kandemiiri that the arrests were intended to
intimidate the MDC ahead of elections generally expected to be held in 2012,
as Mashonaland Central province has traditionally been a ZANU-PF stronghold.

Meanwhile, MDC Member of Parliament for Mkoba Amos Chibaya, arrested Sunday
on allegations of public violence at Guinea-Fowl shopping center in
Mberengwa, Midlands province, was freed on US$50 bail by a Gweru magistrate.

Chibaya was charged along with Midlands South MDC Treasurer Livingstone
Chiminya after they went to the police station at the shopping center to
file a complaint after their vehicle was stoned by alleged ZANU-PF
supporters on Saturday.

Lawyer Reginald Chidawanyika, representing the two, said his clients, who
are denying the charges, were expected back in court on November 8.


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Air Zimbabwe trying to secure French planes amid sanctions

http://www.theafricareport.com

Wednesday, 26 October 2011 15:23

By The Africa Report

Air Zimbabwe is reportedly struggling to register two airbus planes it
bought from France because of European Union sanctions imposed on the
southern African country.

Details emerging from several Air Zimbabwe sources reveal that the planes
were bought through China Sonangol, a Chinese controlled oil company based
in Angola.

Sonangol was reportedly roped in to circumvent the sanctions slapped on
Zimbabwe in 2002.

Aviation sources said Eads, the French aircraft manufacturer was the
supplier of the planes.

The sources said the Ministry of Transport, Communications and
Infrastructural Development entered into the deal with Sonangol.

Sonangol would then advance payment to Reliance Aerospace Solutions, an
aviation consulting firm which would transfer the funds to Airbus.

In 2009, five deals worth US$8 billion were signed between the Zimbabwean
government and Sonangol.

The deals were signed amid promises that they would help the country attract
direct foreign investment into key sectors of the economy.

′Air Zimbabwe seems to have been one of the beneficiaries with the purchase
of the Airbus planes to replenish an ageing fleet.

With the procurement of the planes in place, several pilots and staff have
been sent to various European countries for training but registration of the
planes is now a stumbling block.

In July and August a team of pilots and stewards was dispatched to Toulouse
in France and Madrid in Spain for training on the new aircraft.

The new aircraft will service Air Zimbabwe's long-haul routes – mainly to
China and the United Kingdom.

Air Zimbabwe sources said the latest team sent to France to iron-out the
deal came back empty handed.

"The first delivery was expected before September 20.

"What I see as the biggest challenge is the issue of ownership of the planes
because the management of Air Zimbabwe have no idea where the money to buy
the planes is coming from," said the source.

As if to collaborate the details, last week Air Zimbabwe acting chief
executive officer Innocent Mavhunga told a parliamentary committee that 16
pilots had been sent for a 45-day course in preparation for delivery of new
equipment.′

Mavhunga, however, failed to say when the government would bring the new
equipment, prompting MPs to conclude that the government, which is the
majority shareholder was the one running Air Zimbabwe and not management.

Mavhunga said the airline was saddled with a $137, 7 million debt, $112, 7
million of it being internal debt.

Transport, Communications and Infrastructural Development Minister Nicholas
Goche recently announced that government will soon take over Air Zimbabwe's
debts.


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Tsvangirai says Zimbabweans will decide on gay rights

http://www.swradioafrica.com

By Lance Guma
26 October 2011

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has told Parliament that the issue of gay
rights “is an elitist debate meant to divert attention from the problems
affecting poor people in Zimbabwe.”

Fielding questions from MP’s in the first ever Prime Minister’s Question
Time since 1988, Tsvangirai said the people were writing a new constitution
and they would define what sort of society they wanted to live in.

The historic session saw both MP’s from the three political parties in
parliament get an opportunity to ask the Prime Minister questions on what
the government was doing. Tsvangirai got the ball rolling by telling the MP’s
the session was not a ‘war situation’ were party rivalries would be settled.

The debate over gay rights surprisingly came from Tsvangirai’s own party
with MDC-T MP for Bulawayo Central Dorcas Sibanda, asking whether the PM was
advocating for gay rights in the constitution. There was wild laughter when
Tsvangirai said “perhaps I am speaking here kuda mumwe musi mungangodai
muringochani panapa- we may be talking while some of you may be gays here.
What you do in your private sphere is your private problem.”

Tsvangirai also addressed issues on empowerment, political violence, media
reforms and developments in Libya. The session was poorly attended by ZANU
PF MP’s.

Responding to questions on the controversial manner in which the empowerment
agenda was being pushed through Tsvangirai said there was a need “to
promote, not damage investment in the country” adding that the idea was “not
to share a small cake but to grow the cake that people are able to share. We
need to create wealth through the creation of funds so that the people are
able to benefit,” he said.

Tsvangirai also had a dig at Zimpapers Talk Radio for trying to muscle into
the broadcasting field by applying for a commercial radio licence when they
were already dominating the print media. Responding to a question from
Mutare Central MP and the MDC-T chief whip in Parliamen, Innocent Gonese,
who wanted clarification on the government’s position on media reforms,
Tsvangirai said:

“One would be forgiven to think that there are two governments in Zimbabwe.
There is need for multiple media space not a situation where newspapers want
to go into radio broadcasting. Without media space, you cannot speak on
democracy.”

He also said the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) board needed to be
reconstituted, as had already been agreed.

The Prime Minister also touched on the continuing political violence
countrywide, saying the police needed to be unbiased and weed it out. He
gave the example of the violence which rocked Parliament a few months ago
and said the perpetrators have still not been arrested. Tsvangirai urged the
three main political parties to play a leading role in stamping out
political violence.

He bemoaned the poor performance of parastatals like Air Zimbabwe, arguing
they were a drain on state resources. Government recently committed itself
to taking on Air Zimbabwe’s US$140 million debt and Tsvangirai said: “There
is no sense of responsibility among the board members because they feel it
belongs to the government and they don’t care if they make a loss.”

Turning to Libya, he said there was now a need to recognise the National
Transitional Council which deposed long time dictator Muammar Gaddafi, a
position that was in line with that taken by the African Union.


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Zim Foreign Minister Blasts UN Over Gaddafi Killing

http://www.radiovop.com

By Garikai Chaunza, Harare, October 26, 2011- Foreign Affairs Minister
Simbarashe Mumbengegwi has blamed the United Nations for the killing of
Libyan leader Muammer Gaddafi last week.

Mumbengegwi said the killing of Gaddafi by the western sponsored National
Transitional Council (NTC), was no cause for celebration.

“...The past nine months have demonstrated how a few countries with their
air force in the air and their special forces on the ground can easily treat
the Security Council and its resolutions with utter contempt and render that
important organ of the UN totally impotent. This is no cause for
celebration. Yet leaders of the western world are celebrating,” Mbengegwi
told delegates attending the UN's 66th celebrations in Harare on Tuesday
evening.

He called for an urgent reform of the UN Security Council to make it more
democratic and accountable to 194 member countries that constitute the UN
General Assembly. He also said the UN General Assembly needed to be
strengthened so that under given circumstances it could override the
Security Council.

"It does not make sense that only 9 countries out of the 194 can take a
decision that leads to the kind of carnage and destruction that we have
witnessed in Libya over the past 9 months. What is Libya’s crime? It is that
God gave it Oil?"

"Remember Iraq. What has happened in Libya must stand as an example to all
members of the UN that ...resolutions should never be loosely worded to
allow a group of greedy countries to destroy a member state for their
selfish ends,” he added.

On Friday Zanu (PF) political commissar and the country’s Information
Minister Webster Shamu condemned the killing of Libyan leader Muammar
Gaddafi by the country’s transitional authorities saying the country was not
going to accept the move to be a legitimate way of solving political
disputes.

“Muammar Gaddafi was on last Thursday killed in crossfire between his
loyalists and fighters from the country’s transitional authorities. In
August the Zimbabwean government through the Foreign Affairs Ministry headed
by Mumbengegwi expelled the Libyan ambassador, Taher El Magrahi to Zimbabwe
after he defected to the National Transitional Council.

The Zanu (PF) side of government accused the Libyan envoy of hoisting the
North African state’s new flag before forcing him to later pull down the NTC’s
flag.

Gaddafi was President Robert Mugabe’s close ally.

But the Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) says slain Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s fall from grace is a lesson
to African dictators who continue to cling to power against the wishes of
their people.


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Zimbabwe rejects calls to ratify ICC treaty

http://www.newzimbabwe.com

25/10/2011 00:00:00
by Staff Reporter

ZIMBABWE has ruled out ratifying the Rome Statute establishing the
International Criminal Court (ICC), accusing the body of targeting Africans.

Ratifying the Statute was one of the 179 recommendations made at the end of
the 12th Session of the United Nations’ Universal Periodic Review of Human
Rights, held in Geneva earlier this month.

But the Zimbabwe government, which fears becoming a full member of the ICC
could precipitate the indictment of President Robert Mugabe and other senior
officials for alleged crimes against humanity, has chosen to stay out of the
treaty.

Chinamasa told the ZBC: "One of the recommendations was that we should
ratify the Rome Statutes on the International Criminal Court.

“That we rejected for the sole reason that the ICC is completely
discredited, it has tarnished its own image by selective application of
international law.”

The minister told the state broadcaster that former British Prime Minister
Tony Blair and the former United States President George Bush had “committed
serious crimes against humanity in Afghanistan, Iraq and other parts of the
world, but they had been left free.”

Zimbabwe also rejected 97 other recommendations, including calls to
recognise gay rights, reform its security sector, and amend the Access to
Information and Protection of Privacy Act and the Public Order and Security
Act.

The fact that a disproportionately large number of cases investigated by the
ICC have so far been on the African continent has created resentment towards
the body, even in countries which are state parties to the Court.
Zimbabwe is one of 32 countries, including Russia and China, which signed
but did not ratify the Rome Statute.

As of October 2011, 116 states were parties to the Statute of the Court,
including all of South America, nearly all of Europe and roughly half the
countries in Africa.

The United States and Israel are among countries which “unsigned” from the
Statute. On August, 3, 2002, President Bush signed into law the American
Servicemembers Protection Act (ASPA) which authorises the use of military
force to liberate any American or citizen of a US-allied country being held
by the court, which is located in The Hague.


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Security forces intensify violence against MDC

http://www.thezimbabwean.co.uk/

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's MDC says police and security forces in
Mbare are intensifying a campaign of violence and intimidation against MDC
leaders in advance of elections Zanu (PF) wants next year.
26.10.1112:58pm
by The Zimbabwean Harare

Piniel Denga, the Mbare MDC MP said that President Robert Mugabe's party had
created a climate of intimidation and political violence that could prevent
free and fair voting. "Right now we are observing a level of fear that I
have not seen before," said Denga, speaking of meetings he held over two
weeks inside Mbare with party organisers and supporters of the MDC.

"Everybody wants all this to stop. They want help." Denga accused Zanu (PF)
of waging a "war by proxy" against its own people and appealed the 14-nation
Southern African Development Community to apply pressure on ruling Zanu (PF)
party officials to rein-in the marauding Chipangano militia. Denga said MDC
victims that have sought police protection have been arrested themselves. It
is understood the police stations in Mbare have been stuffed by pro-regime
officials.

"Zimbabwe is using the legal system to undermine the MDC," said Denga,
explaining that Zanu (PF) was using security forces and groups of ruling
party militants to attack, arrest and intimidate MDC officials and
supporters. Critics say President Robert Mugabe's Zanu (PF) has packed
courts, undermining the once independent judiciary and giving legal cover to
acts of repression.

Political violence has convulsed Mbare where the Chipangano militants,
encouraged by Amos Midzi and Tendai Savanhu, began cracking down on MDC
structures.

Denga said the Chipangano militants have randomly attacked MDC supporters,
attacked vendors selling independent newspapers and anyone regarded as
members of the opposition. He said they also looted the party offices in
Mbare while police escorts watched passively. The whole retail and wholesale
Mbare Musika market has been purged of MDC supporters and their stalls doled
out to Zanu (PF) loyalists.

The have even stalled the refurbishment of the Matapi flats saying the
project will give the MDC political advantage.

The crackdown on the MDC in Mbare is increasing as the country moves closer
to elections. Mugabe, 87, who has ruled since independence in 1980, wants
another five-year term. He is facing the toughest electoral challenge of his
rule. In an effort to gain greater control, his militants have literally
forced everyone in Mbare to support the party. Under the watchful eye of the
Zanu (PF) goon leader Jim Kunaka, the Chipangano militia has unleashed
unspeakable acts of atrocities, including scalding an MDC supporter with
boiling oil.

Despite all this provocation, Denga says the party still believes in
peaceful transition. But he says party members were getting agitated and
baying for revenge. Its a matter of time before the whole situation
explodes.


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Zimbabwean Lydia Werrit granted three more years in UK

http://www.bbc.co.uk

26 October 2011 Last updated at 13:49 GMT

An 88-year-old Zimbabwean woman living in Kent who was facing deportation
has won a three-year reprieve.

Lydia Werrit has been living in Hythe with her family since supporters of
Robert Mugabe seized her farm in 2003.

A UK Border Agency spokesperson said: "Given the special circumstances, we
have decided to grant three years' discretionary leave to remain."

Ms Werrit's daughter Sophie Laubscher had said she feared her mother would
not survive the flight to Zimbabwe.

She added if her mother did return, she would be questioned by the Mugabe
regime as to why she had been out of the country for so long and what she
had been doing.

Ms Werrit had been told by the UK Border Agency she had no basis to remain
in the UK and must leave immediately or face removal with force.

On Monday, Ms Werrit received a letter from the UK Border Agency giving her
permission to stay in Britain for the next three years. After that time, she
can apply to stay in the UK on a permanent basis.
'Grateful for support'

Ms Werrit attends the Age UK centre in Hythe twice a week, where a campaign
against her deportation was mounted.

Jacqui Mupratt from the centre said: "Her husband had fought alongside our
men in the war, he was very brave and she classes herself as a UK resident.

"She doesn't claim a state pension, the family look after her financially."

Ms Werrit said: "I want you all to know how grateful myself and my family
are for the way you all supported and stood by me. I wish to thank you all
from the bottom of my heart."

The UK stopped deporting people to Zimbabwe in 2006, because of the
escalating political violence there. But removals by the UK Border Agency
resumed earlier this year.


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MSF, Red Cross brace for cholera in jails

http://www.thezimbabwean.co.uk

Zimbabwean prison authorities and NGOs working in jails are braced for yet
another cholera outbreak following the on-going strike by municipal workers,
which has caused serious water shortages in the capital city.
26.10.1107:23am
by Fungi Kwaramba

Medicines Sans Frontiers says it is working with the Zimbabwe Prison
Services to install emergency cholera kits in all the country’s jails.

MSF has also appealed to the International Community of the Red Cross to
intervene and address widespread water and sanitation challenges by drilling
boreholes and installing water tanks at prisons around the country. Other
towns suffering a severe water shortage are Hurungwe and Bindura.

ZPS Deputy Commissioner Fadzai Mapure said although there had not been any
outbreak of commutable diseases such as cholera in recent months, the
spectre of yet another outbreak similar to that of 2009 was possible because
clean water supplies and sanitation were still issues of concern in the
prisons.

“The challenge we are facing is that of water and sanitation because of the
number of prisoners we keep,” said Mapure. Packed prisons are ideal breeding
places for commutable diseases.

He urged Zimbabweans to regard prisoners as a joint responsibility of both
the community and the ZPS.


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Will of people will prevail: ZEC warns securocrats

http://www.thezimbabwean.co.uk

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commissioner, Professor Geoff Feltoe, has warned
securocrats against disregarding the will of the electorate in choosing a
president of their choice.
25.10.1104:44pm
by Seven Nematiyere

ZEC has vowed to declare the winner of the next presidential election within
five days. Feltoe said ZEC would not be intimidated by certain individuals
like Brigadier General Douglas Nyikayaramba, Prison Services Chief Paradzai
Zimondi and Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri, who have said they would
only recognize a leader with liberation war credentials.

Feltoe has urged the security chiefs to be professional in carrying out
their duties. “The security sector comprises professional institutions and
we expect them to operate professionally, without any resistance, as
enshrined in our constitution,” he said.

The commissioner also called on everyone to respect the outcome of the
presidential elections and take a leaf from Zambia, where there was a recent
smooth transfer of power from Rupiah Banda to Michael Sata without any
incidents.

ZEC has promised to accord equal campaigning opportunities to political
parties in the run-up to elections and urged them to address violence as a
matter of urgency.

Among the envisaged electoral reforms are special courts to deal with any
violence during elections, and liaison officers to be based at polling
stations. Election results will be announced at polling station level to
avoid delays and tampering with the ballots during transportation to command
centres.


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High Court ruling litmus test

http://www.thezimbabwean.co.uk

Electoral watchdogs have described the recent High Court ruling on
by-elections in Lupane East, Nkayi South and Bulilima East as a litmus test
on whether the executive will respect the courts.
25.10.1105:09pm
by Fungi Kwaramba

Nine senatorial and14 parliamentary seats are vacant. Ousted MPs for the
three constituencies, Njabuliso Mguni, Abdenico Bhebhe and Norman Mpofu
respectively, are hopeful.

Matshobana Ncube of Phulu and Ncube Legal Practitioners, who represented the
legislators, says they are waiting for a certified copy in order to hand the
court ruling to the President.

Legal experts say the 14 days given for the President’s Office to respond
will start to count the day this is done. But the Attorney’s General has
already accused its Chief Law Officer, Fortune Chimbaru, of having erred by
filing counter-arguments and wants the ruling to be reserved.

As the legal battle rages on, the government says it does not have money to
hold by-elections. Seven of the 14 vacant constituencies did not receive the
$50,000 Constitutional Development Funds given to sitting MPs.

The Parliamentary Monitoring Trust Zimbabwe said the ruling was long overdue
and should be honoured.

“What we have seen since 2008 has been a wanton disregard of the supreme law
of the country,” it said in a statement.

“Politicians seem to think that the constitution-making process is important
and have been complementing donor funds. But the same government has been
very lethargic when it comes to by-elections, arguing that there is no
money. We should be prepared to pay the price of a democracy.”

Zimbabwe Election Support Network is also concerned about the moratorium on
by-elections.


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Army recruitment drive

http://www.thezimbabwean.co.uk

Members of the public have expressed their concern about a massive army
recruitment exercise being carried out countrywide, as children of grade
seven age have been conscripted.
25.10.1104:39pm
by Jane Makoni

At Nehanda Hall, youth mainly from surrounding farms and rural areas
converged for a two day recruitment programme. Potential recruits holding
grade seven certificates and above went through an oral selection on
Saturday and then ran a 10 km race on Sunday.

“It is suspicious for the army to recruit potential soldiers in such a
desperate way given that the country is awash with jobless Ordinary and
Advanced Level school leavers,” said a resident, Joseph Musonza.

While the young people from the surrounding farms were enthusiastic about
the recruitment, those who lived in town had reservations.

“Let Mugabe recruit his body guards. We would join the army in a new
Zimbabwe after MDC gets into power next year. I would be proud to be a
member of the defence forces in a democratic state, not under the current
dictatorship. It would be against my conscience to prop up a dictatorship at
the expense of the will of the people,” said a youth in his early 20s.

Soldiers spearheading the recruitment told potential recruits that the
recruitment was routine and there was nothing suspicious about it.

“This is a people’s army and every youth should be proud of being a member
of the defence forces. It is also normal that the army would conscript young
blood into its ranks as old soldiers retire,” said a physical training
soldier.

In the past, there were reports that soldiers and other defence force
members were forced to vote Mugabe and Zanu (PF) under the watchful eye of
their partisan superiors.


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Small-scale farmers choose tobacco over maize

http://www.irinnews.org/
Photo: Universal Pops/Flickr
Tobacco cultivation is providing prompt cash payments for small scale farmers
HARARE, 26 October 2011 (IRIN) - Zimbabwe’s small-scale farmers are favouring tobacco over maize because they are paid immediately on delivery, while the Grain Marketing Board (GMB), the state-run cereal distribution monopoly, often takes months to pay for the staple, say some small-scale farmers.

The country has suffered consistent bouts of food insecurity since 2000 after President Robert Mugabe’s ZANU-PF implemented its fast track land reform which saw thousands of white farmers displaced, often violently, to make way for landless black Zimbabweans.

Tobacco production - a major foreign currency earner - plummeted from 237 million kg in 2000 to 49 million kilograms in 2008. Production has since recovered and the Zimbabwe Tobacco Association (ZTA) said 132 million kg was auctioned in 2011.

The profile of tobacco farmers has changed in the last decade. Prior to 2000, 1,500 of the then about 4,500 commercial farmers produced 97 percent of the tobacco delivered to sales floors, while other commercial farmers generally shunned maize production because of price controls - which remain - and opted for cash crops such as paprika, cut flowers and cotton, while growing yellow maize for stock feed.

Cereal production for
food security before 2000 was largely the domain of small farmers who benefited from the sophisticated agricultural input system which supported commercial farmers and were able to easily source cheap fertiliser and seeds. The disruption of commercial farming activities also saw the collapse of Zimbabwe’s agricultural input industries.

ZTA's chief executive officer, Rodney Ambrose, told IRIN 67,000 tobacco growers - resettled on former white farmland - registered in 2011, of which only about 17,000 were considered large growers, including 300 white farmers still active in the sector, and that by and large the quality of tobacco delivered to the auction floors was “very good”.

Samuel Chizemo, a new tobacco farmer in Karoi about 150km north of Harare, told IRIN more farmers were opting to grow tobacco in place of maize, because of GMB delays in payment, although some was grown for personal consumption.


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“Tobacco is a cash crop and unlike other crops which are delivered to the GMB we get paid cash on delivery,” he said and estimated he earned about US$8,000 from his tobacco crop this year and was paid promptly.

Some farmers, he said, were forced to sell the maize to third parties at a lower price than the controlled price of US$285 a ton, so it was the middlemen that profited from the grain, who could afford to wait for payment from the marketing board.

The USAID-funded Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) said in its
September 2011 factsheet that about 1.68 million people would require emergency food assistance during the lean season, from January to April 2012. This was a 12 percent decline from the previous year for the same period.

Chizemo is one of 36 small-scale farmers working six hectare divisions of formerly white-owned farmland which was redistributed in 2001. They are all cultivating tobacco as contract farmers.

This year the average price of tobacco per kg was $2.73, slightly lower than the previous year of US$2.89.

Hard beginnings

Initially, Zimbabwe’s hyperinflationary environment - which was effectively ended through the scrapping of the local currency and its replacement in 2009 with the US dollar, Botswana pula and South African rand - financial difficulties, and the farmers’ inexperience of growing and curing tobacco hamstrung their first attempts in 2003.

“Besides us not having the know-how, it is a very expensive crop to grow,” Chizemo said.

Irrigation systems were also removed by the evicted farmer, which limited the area under cultivation, as the new farmers had to carry drums of water from a nearby river to ensure the crops did not wither in the early stages.

The refusal of banks to grant loans to the new farmers because of concerns over the security of land ownership saw the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) petition President Robert Mugabe’s ZANU-PF government in 2004 to permit tobacco companies to offer farmers contracts whereby the necessary inputs, such as fertilizer and chemicals, were provided ahead of the planting season.

Under the contract agreement the farmers must sell to an agreed auctioneer until they have paid the loan for the inputs and are then free to sell the surplus to whoever they choose.

New farmers were also offered advice, assisted in the paying of wage bills and in some cases supplied with food.

However, it was the scrapping of the local currency, which saw tobacco’s renaissance.


''Tobacco growing is making a big difference to our lives''
“Tobacco growing is making a big difference to our lives,” Thomas Gwata, 28, from the Nyazura area east of Harare, who started tobacco farming in 2006 on a formerly white-owned farm that was subdivided among 65 small farmers, who made thousands of dollars from this year’s crop.

The farmers also lack access to a curing facility.

“The farmer who took over the farm infrastructure does not allow us to use the [curing] barn as he says it’s on his land,” he told IRIN. “He is a cellphone farmer,” a term describing new farmers who received land, but are employed elsewhere and conduct their farming activities by calling their workers on cellphones.

Gwata and his fellow small-scale farmers built their own curing barn, but it was not as efficient as the barn constructed by the former white farmer.

Tree-felling

Without a coal supplier the tobacco farmers have resorted to tree-felling to get fuel for tobacco curing. “This is causing serious deforestation but we really do not have a choice,” he said.

“We have the land but we are not benefiting enough; agriculture is the driver of our economy so government should seriously look into putting money into the sector,” said Gwata. That may not happen any time soon though as the government remains cash-strapped.

TIMB chief executive officer Andrew Matibiri said the new farmers had also yet to come to grips with the tobacco industry systems, including notification of how much of the product they intended to grow.

“Some farmers are not aware of this and just bring their crop to the already overcrowded three auction floors in Harare which were designed for 4,000 growers,” he said.

However, Matibiri said the sector was being rejuvenated. “Besides earning the country much needed foreign currency, tobacco is now benefiting thousands of families rather than the small minority who grew it before.”

He forecast that tobacco production could grow to 350 million kg annually in three to four years - provided there was adequate financial support - thanks to demand from the European Union and China, which each purchase about 40 percent of the country’s tobacco crop.

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


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ZESA robs clients: ratepayers

http://www.thezimbabwean.co.uk

Ratepayers here are up in arms against the Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission
and Distribution Company whose subsidiary arm, ZESA, has been haphazardly
cutting off power supplies to defaulting residents.
25.10.1105:08pm
by Jane Makoni

Ratepayers described the practice as day light robbery, after they were
forced to fork-out a $10 reconnection fee.

“This month alone ZESA has disconnected my homestead in Nyameni a record
three times. Each time they cut me off, I am forced to pay at least half of
what I owed them. They would restore the power supply after I paid an
additional $10 reconnection fee. This robbed me of no less than $30 in
connection fees alone in a single month.

The practice was both unjustified and unscrupulous behaviour by the sole
power supplier in the country. Just imagine the power utility randomly
switching off homesteads whenever it feels like lining its pocket,”
complained a resident, Sheila Ndudzo, of Nyameni. The plight of defaulting
bill payers has been worsened by unscrupulous ZESA employees who solicit
bribes in return for not cutting the power.

A ZESA official who said he was the organisation’s Public Relations Officer
claimed:

“The new area manager based in Chinhoyi has resolved to collect all revenue
owed the organisation by defaulting clients before the end of the year. He
wants to capacitate ZESA’s ability to afford the rehabilitation of run down
power generating plants and provide enough power to ratepayers. He was given
the authority, without the approval of an Act of parliament, to make
whatever decision he wanted.”

He referred any further questions to the organisation’s national
spokesperson, Gwasira, who could not be reached for comment.

Vulnerable and abused ratepayers called on the government to investigate the
conduct of ZESA.


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Makone blasts GNU

http://www.dailynews.co.zw

By Own Correspondent
Wednesday, 26 October 2011 09:03

HARARE - Coalition government partners have ruined the country because of
their obsession with election preparations and petty party politics, Home
Affairs co-minister Theresa Makone has confessed.

President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai have been in
power for 30 months, but most Zimbabweans have complained of continued poor
service delivery and slow paced political and economic reforms.

Makone, a close confidante of Tsvangirai, let the cat out of the bag while
addressing delegates to a Medium Term Plan (MTP) meeting in Mutare.

“We have ruined the country because of being heavily involved in petty
political issues. We need to have a mind shift and put the country first
ahead of party politics. The country has been destroyed because of people
who first question which party one belongs to before they can engage each
other,” said Makone.

The meeting was organised by the Ministry of Economic Planning and
Investment Promotion.

“Such behaviour does not bring food at your table. It neither brings the
drugs into hospitals, and neither does it afford an opportunity to send your
child to school. We have to first focus on things that are good for our
country,” Makone said.

She said as a result of party politicking Zimbabwe has remained a basket
case.

“In Zimbabwe we are always talking of elections to an extent that we no
longer have time for the development of the country."

We should leave the issue of elections for now and focus on development. We
are always in a political mode for elections seriously letting key
developmental issues aside.

“We are always holding political rallies gearing ourselves for elections.
This is bad for the country,” said Makone, dismissing travel and financial
sanctions imposed on Mugabe by the West as inconsequential to economic
problems facing the country.

“Sanctions are bad I know and I also have to admit that the country is under
sanctions and we do not want them. But I have to be open to everyone here
that when Rhodesia was under sanctions the past regime managed to burst the
sanctions when it promoted its local industries. At that particular time
that is when many factories flourished,” said Makone.

She said colonial ruler Ian Smith managed to bust those sanctions yet the
current leadership is crying foul and doing little to promote local
industries.

Speaking earlier on Economic Planning and Investment Promotion Minister,
Tapiwa Mashakada said the MTP would run from 2011 to 2015 by which time the
country’s annual economic growth rate should have reached 7,1 percent.

He said at least $9,2 billion is required to finance the MTP in order to
meet the growth and development targets.

Mashakada said the MTP was a government programme and that any political
party that would form the next government would continue with it.

“This programme, the MTP programme is a government programme and not a party
project. Whichever government that comes into power after the next election
will simply continue with it as it is a programme for the people of
Zimbabwe. That government will have to implement this MTP programme,” said
Mashakada.

The MTP programme among other issues it seeks to ensure infrastructural
development, employment creation, human centred development, poverty
reduction, entrepreneurship development, macro-economic stability good
governance.


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Indigenisation should not be political rhetoric



Wednesday, 26 October 2011*

The government’s position on indigenisation is to create wealth so that the
people of Zimbabwe are able to benefit from the process in a non-partisan
and apolitical manner, President Tsvangirai and Zimbabwe’s Prime Minister
has said.

Responding to questions from parliamentarians at the inaugural Prime
Minister’s Question Time in Parliament today, President Tsvangirai said the
issue of indigenisation should not be based on political rhetoric, but
should be based on one clear government policy.

“The issue of indigenisation is of national concern. We need to promote not
damage investment in the country,” President Tsvangirai said.

“The idea is not to share a small cake but to grow the cake that people are
able to share. We need to create wealth through the creation of funds so
that the people are able to benefit,” he said.

The PM’s Question Time gives the MPs an opportunity to question the Prime
Minister on key government policies.

President Tsvangirai said one of key issues that the inclusive government
was tackling was for the public media to desist from using hate speech when
reporting.

He was responding to a question from Mutare Central MP and the MDC’s chief
whip in Parliament, Hon. Innocent Gonese on the government’s position in
terms of continued repression on freedom of expression and communication.

“One would be forgiven to think that there are two governments in Zimbabwe.
There is need for multiple media space not a situation when newspapers want
to go into radio broadcasting,” said President Tsvangirai, referring to
Zimpapers which has applied for radio licence.

“Without media space, you cannot speak on democracy,” he said.

President Tsvangirai said the government was worried by lack of zeal shown
by some board members in most parastatals, a situation which had led most of
the government companies to operate below standard.

“The greatest weakness in the parastatals is that there is no sense of
responsibility among the board members because they feel it belongs to the
government and they don’t care if they make a loss.

“These parastatals are a very serious drain to our resources,” he said
calling for heads to roll in non-performing parastatals like the Air
Zimbabwe.

On developing the country’s infrastructure especially major roads, President
Tsvangirai said the government was encouraging investors to participate in
the Build Operate Transfer (BOT) projects as the government had no
sufficient resources to improve the country’s infrastructure.

Turning to state sponsored political violence that is on the increase across
the country ahead of the coming elections, he said the responsibility of
curbing violence in the country was the duty of the police and implored the
co-ministers of Home Affairs to see that this was done.

“The three principals in the inclusive government have made commitments that
there should be no violence in the country. Those who commit violence
should be arrested,” he said adding that the national leaders for all the
three political parties in the inclusive government were going to hold a
meeting on how best they could curb political violence in the country.

He said the government’s position on the situation in Libya was that it
stood by the Africa Union decision that the people of Libya should have a
choice to choose their leaders after the fall of Muammar Gaddafi’s regime.

*The people’s struggle for real change: Let’s finish it!!!*


MDC Information & Publicity Department
Harvest House


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Bill Watch 45/2011 of 26th October [Prime Minister's Question Time to Start Today]

BILL WATCH 45/2011

Apology: the last Bill Watch should have been 44 not 43

[26th October 2011]

Prime Minister’s Question Time

Prime Minister’s Question Time Starts Today

The Speaker of the House of Assembly and the President of the Senate yesterday announced the inauguration of the Prime Minister’s Question Time as follows:

House of Assembly – today, Wednesday 26th October, from 2.15 pm to 3.15 pm

Senate – tomorrow, Thursday 27th October, from 2.30 pm to 3.30 pm.

Form of the Proceedings

The guidelines given to MPs and Senators by the Speaker and the President of the Senate are:

1. Only policy questions will be permissible;

2. Supplementary questions should be restricted to the policy questions;

3. Only 3 supplementary questions per policy question will be admitted;

4. Questions should be generally be on national issues;

5. Questions that can properly be addressed by line Ministers should be avoided.

Background

The Standing Orders of both Houses were amended during the last Session to provide for the holding of Prime Minister’s Question Time on the last Wednesday of each month in the House of Assembly and the last Thursday of each month in the Senate. This week, for the first time, both Houses will be sitting on those days.

Public Attendance

Members of the public wishing to attend should contact Parliament’s Public Relations department for tickets admitting them to the public gallery. Telephone 700181, 252936.

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

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