Jan Raath in Harare
When Nomatter Tagarira, a spirit medium, claimed that she could conjure refined diesel out of a rock by striking it with her staff, ministers in Robert Mugabe’s Government believed that they might have found the solution to Zimbabwe’s perennial fuel shortage.
After witnessing her apparently miraculous gift they gave her five billion Zimbabwean dollars in cash (worth £1.7 million at the start of the year but now worth one seven-hundredth of that) in return for the fuel. Ms Tagarira was also given a farm, said to have been seized from its white owner during Mr Mugabe’s lawless land grab, as well as food and services that included a round-the-clock armed guard on the rock in the district of Chinhoyi 60 miles (100km) from Harare, the capital.
More than a year later officials realised they had been duped. Ms Tagarira is now in custody, awaiting trial on charges of fraud or, alternatively, of being “a criminal nuisance”. Details from court papers published this week said that over 15 months, until July this year, Ms Tagarira convinced Cabinet ministers, ruling party heavy-weights and top army and police officers that by striking the rock with her staff she could produce enough fuel to supply the country for 100 years.
The legal firm representing her told The Times that she had been refused bail and no trial date had been set yet.
“It’s an outlandish story but the people in government who believed this are the same ones who believe that Mugabe’s official policy of printing money will end inflation,” said an economist, who requested anonymity.
After 27 years of economic misrule, what was once one of Africa’s most prosperous countries is in a nightmare of hyperinflation, famine and infra-structural collapse.
According to the police docket at the court, Ms Tagarira, 35, discovered a large bowser of diesel last year, suspected to have been abandoned in the hills of Chinhoyi during the country’s civil war in the 1970s.
She laid pipes from the bowser to a point at the bottom of the hill. Whenever she assembled an audience, she would strike a rock and an assistant at the top of the hill would open the tap and lo, fuel would pour out. The bowser eventually ran dry but that didn’t stop Ms Tagarira. “They would buy diesel from lorry drivers and keep it in the pipe on the pretext it was coming from a rock,” the docket said.
By June the Government had decided the claims were plausible enough to warrant an official investigation. However, where a single geologist would have sufficed, they dispatched a large “task force” of politicians and members of the security forces, led by the deputy commissioner of police.
The task force duly reported to Mr Mugabe’s politburo, the most powerful body in the country, that the liquid appearing at the rock had been siphoned into lorries and that they had driven off without problem.
However, it was when a second “task force” of ministers was sent by the politburo a month later that Ms Tagarira’s ruse ended. She “failed to prove the existence of the fuel”, it said. She disappeared and was arrested this month. “It is not the woman who ought to be arrested, it is the idiots who authorised this criminal waste of public money,” said a lawyer, asking not to be named.
Monsters and Critics
Oct 26, 2007, 19:53 GMT
Harare/Johannesburg - Thousands of supporters of Zimbabwe's President Robert
Mugabe gathered at his party's headquarters in Harare Friday in what may
have been a failed attempt to stage a million-man march, reports said.
War veterans said earlier this month they were planning to hold a
million-man march in support of the veteran leader, who plans to stand for a
fourth term in office in elections next year.
Although no date for the march was publicly announced, reports on
independent Zimbabwe news websites suggested it had been set for Friday.
In a late-night news bulletin, official state television said the number of
people gathered for Friday's march by far outnumbered those who had gathered
for previous demonstrations in solidarity with the 83-year-old president.
The sheer number of people who turned up forced organizers to abandon the
plan to march through the central business district because it would have
disrupted traffic and brought business to a standstill, the report said.
Footage of the gathering showed crowds, but nowhere near a million people.
© 2007 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur
Saturday 27 October 2007
By Simplisio Chirinda
HARARE - Zimbabwe's ruling ZANU PF party will endorse President Robert
Mugabe as candidate in next year's presidential election at an extraordinary
congress in December, party legal affairs secretary Emmerson Mnangagwa said
Briefing journalists in Harare after a meeting of ZANU PF's central
committee held to adopt the agenda for the extraordinary congress, Mnangagwa
said party rules required that Mugabe - elected party leader by the last
ordinary congress in 2004 - remains candidate for next year's presidential
"The party elected the leader of the party in 2004 who essentially was going
to be the candidate for president and that position is still binding," said
Mnangagwa, in response to a journalist's question whether the December
conference would choose a new presidential candidate for ZANU PF.
"Essentially the December congress is going to endorse this candidate,"
added Mnangagwa, among senior ZANU PF politicians eyeing Mugabe's job in the
event he decides to step down.
Zimbabwe holds joint presidential and parliamentary elections next year.
Mugabe, who earlier this year said there was no vacancy for his position,
has said he will stand for re-election next year and no one in ZANU PF has
openly challenged him.
But there has been speculation that a faction led by powerful retired army
general Solomon Mujuru - that has been pushing for a new leader to be
chosen - could nominate a surprise challenger to Mugabe at the December
The Mujuru faction last December successfully blocked Mugabe's bid to extend
his rule to 2010 without going to the ballot but the veteran leader made an
about turn and offered himself to stand in next year's elections.
Under Mugabe's charge, Zimbabwe has declined from being one of Africa's most
vibrant economies to being a classical African basket case surviving on food
handouts from international relief agencies.
In confirming Mugabe's candidature the ZANU PF December congress will also
discuss the government's agricultural mechanisation programme aimed at
boosting farm production and end hunger stalking the southern African
country since Mugabe's controversial seizure of white-owned land for
redistribution to blacks.
The conference will also ratify the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment Bill
Number 18 passed by Parliament in August with support from the main
opposition Movement for Democratic Change party.
The Bill, awaiting Mugabe's signature to become effective law, paves the way
for the veteran President to pick a successor should he decides to step
down. - ZimOnline
Saturday 27 October 2007
By Thulani Munda
HARARE - Half of Zimbabwe's 17 000 hotel rooms need refurbishment ahead of
the 2010 World Cup soccer tournament in neighbouring South Africa that is
expected to boost tourist arrivals in the region, a senior hospitality
industry official has said.
Cornelius Nyahunda, the newly elected Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe
(HAZ) president said yesterday that the industry was poised for growth but
there was need to revamp the product to attract global tourists.
"Of the 17 000 rooms available, half of these rooms need refurbishment,"
said Nyahunda, adding that there was hope for the development of an
additional 10 000 rooms.
Nyahunda said that according to international standards, it takes 18 months
to build a 100-room hotel but was optimistic that investors will show an
interest in building hotels and lodges.
Outgoing HAZ president Fungai Mutseyekwa said there was potential in meeting
the target "as there are a number of underground operators who are still to
register with Zimbabwe Tourism Authority".
Nyahunda said the success of the just ended Travel Expo signifies the level
of interest created in the hospitality industry.
Zimbabwe's tourism industry is picking up after suffering a downturn in the
aftermath of President Robert Mugabe's chaotic and often violent land
redistribution exercise that attracted negative publicity for the country to
scare away foreign tourists.
The tourism industry, among the fastest growing sectors before the beginning
of land reforms in 2000, is employing an estimated 100 000 workers directly
and indirectly from a peak of 200 000 in 1999.
The industry has also been beset by fuel problems which have made resort
places inaccessible. In addition, the skewed exchange rate has made Zimbabwe
an expensive destination in the region.
Efforts by hospitality industry players to persuade the Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe to create a special exchange rate for the industry are yet to yield
positive result. - ZimOnline
Saturday 27 October 2007
By Hendricks Chizhanje
HARARE - The Zimbabwean government has secured 500 000 doses of vaccines
from the Botswana Vaccine Institute (BVI) for use in the control of the
deadly foot-and-mouth cattle disease, hampering revival of the country's
once lucrative beef export industry.
A senior official at the state-run Department of Veterinary Services,
Josphat Nyika, told ZimOnline that Harare received the vaccines after
clearing a US$700 000 debt owed to the Botswana institute.
"We have received some doses from BVI for the eradication of foot-and-mouth
(disease)," Nyika said.
Zimbabwe, in its eight straight year of economic recession, has been
battling to contain the spread of the deadly disease since 2001 because of
severe shortage of foreign currency to import vaccines.
The shortage of vaccines has had far reaching repercussions on Zimbabwe's
struggling economy with, for example, the European Union (EU) banning beef
imports from the southern African country.
The EU, which imported about 9 100 tonnes of top-quality Zimbabwean beef
annually worth about US$50 million, suspended beef orders in 2001 demanding
the African nation first eradicate foot-and-mouth.
Buyers from Asia have also cancelled beef imports from Zimbabwe, starving
the crisis-hit country of badly needed foreign currency. - ZimOnline
Afrol News, Norway
afrol News, 26 October - Once again, the SADC mediator of the Zimbabwean
crisis [President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa] has missed his deadline to
secure a deal between the ruling Zanu-PF and the main opposition Democratic
Mbeki had set aside the end of October as the deadline for concluding a
peace deal between Zanu-PF and MDC.
But according to 'The Zimbabwean', continued state-sponsored repression has
been one of the major obstacles to Mbeki's efforts.
In the face of mounting state-sponsored violence, the MDC has questioned the
sincerity of Zanu-PF and has threatened to pull out of the talks if Mbeki
fails to urgently address the problem.
Lask week South African leader scolded Mugabe over his failure to act
against the anti-MDC violence by his supporters, police, green bombers and
other state security agents. But the situation is yet to improve.
The Zimbabwean government's failure to repeal or amend the draconian
security and media laws has infuriated the MDC, which had been baffled to
support the 18th constitutional [controversial] amendment in return for the
scrapping of the laws. The amendments were unanimously passed by parliament
The MDC's agreement to support the controversial amendment caused a crisis
in the relationship between the opposition and civil society.
Mbeki has always been accused of maintaining secret diplomacy in tackling
the looming political and economic crisis in neighbouring Zimbabwe.
By Ndimyake Mwakalyelye
26 October 2007
With the end-October deadline set by South African President Thabo Mbeki for
the conclusion of crisis resolution talks between Zimbabwe's ruling and
opposition parties at hand, observers are voicing optimism and skepticism as
to the outcome.
Taken at face value, the fruits of the South African mediated negotiations
seem to be substantial: a bipartisan compromise in parliament on a
constitutional amendment that at first seemed drafted to maximize the 2008
election chances of President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party; the draft of a
fully overhauled constitution; tentative talks on the political violence the
opposition alleges on the part of the ruling party; and tentative
commitments by ZANU-PF to repeal certain repressive laws.
Besides tossing out the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act,
used by the government to intimidate and in some cases silence media
outlets, and the Public Order and Security Act, an all-purpose measure for
repressing political opposition, the ruling party is also talking about
amending electoral laws in time for the presidential, general and local
elections that are tentatively slated for March of next year.
The fruits of the Pretoria discussions mediated by Mr. Mbeki under the aegis
of the Southern African Development Community are still heavily overshadowed
by charges that the government and ruling party, particularly in provincial
cities and rural areas that are longtime ZANU-PF fiefs, continue to use
violence as a political tool.
Encouragingly, Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi this week met with a
delegation from the Movement for Democratic Change faction led by Morgan
Tsvangirai, which had held a news conference earlier in the week to allege
that MDC supporters were still being beaten and in some cases killed for
belonging to the opposition.
Mohadi's promise to investigate the alleged violence was seen by some as a
gesture of good faith, but by the more cynical as a public relations move
aimed at Mbeki and his Southern African peers leaders who want to see the
crisis resolved before it causes further damage to the region as well as
suffering for Zimbabweans.
Now the question in many minds is whether the agreements coming out of the
Pretoria talks will translate into a better and more peaceful life for those
To examine these issues, VOA turned to Advocacy Coordinator Abel Chikomo of
the Media Monitoring Project of Zimbabwe, and Senior Researcher Chris
Maroleng of the Institute for Security Studies in South Africa.
Maroleng told reporter Ndimyake Mwakalyelye of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe
that developments led him to believe things were looking up for Zimbabwe.
Sir – As an indication of the sort of stance taken by the European Union in
its foreign policy, we need look no further than Zimbabwe. Targeted
sanctions were imposed in 2005 after pressure from MEPs, but even now the EU
lacks the political will needed to enforce them.
Among the measures, Mugabe and 125 of his henchmen were supposedly banned
from all travel to European countries. But the EU has invited him to its own
Africa summit at Lisbon in December.
In a recent letter to me, the EU Commissioner Louis Michel maintains that
"isolating President Mugabe would only reinforce his image as a leader who
can stand up against the West… If the EU really wants to be a global
strategic player it is essential that the summit takes place".
And there you have it: abandon our principles, break our own rules, ignore
our own sanctions – and all to promote the EU's ambitions.
On Monday, I urged the European Parliament's president to reflect the wishes
of the parliament and refuse participation in any summit attended by Mugabe.
Of course, the empty chair should be Zimbabwe's.
If the Africa diplomacy of Britain and the EU is of any use, we can surely
ask African governments to show that their attitude to Europe is no longer
dictated from Harare.
Geoffrey Van Orden MEP, Conservative Defence and Security Spokesman,
By Emily Dugan
Published: 27 October 2007
The Zimbabwean asylum-seeker whose flight was due to leave for Malawi
yesterday has had her passage cancelled. Following The Independent's article
on Zimbabwean asylum-seekers being wrongly removed to Malawi, Maude Lennard
was told she did not have to board a flight to Lilongwe.
A judge ruled yesterday that Ms Lennard, who has now been on hunger strike
for 45 days, was unfit to fly. Ms Lennard, who was persecuted for being an
activist for Zimbabwe's opposition party, the MDC, paid to get a Malawian
passport to escape the country.
Since then the Home Office have treated her as a Malawian, and were
scheduled to be sending her there, despite the risk of her falling victim to
Sarah Harland, co-ordinator at the Zimbabwe Association, said: "We're so
relieved to hear that her flight has been stopped, and perhaps now these
cases will be looked at with some compassion. It seems that The Independent
has helped hugely to bring the matter out in the open."
The judgement on Ms Lennard's flight came after a doctor at Yarl's Wood
detention centre had approved her as well enough to travel. Her lawyer said:
"The doctors who have taken an interest in her case believed that to remove
her without medical attention would prove a serious risk to her health. The
in-house doctors did not agree with that, but the Immigration Service were
presented with cogent evidence that she was not fit to fly."
Dr Frank Arnold of Medical Justice, who provided evidence that Ms Lennard
was too unwell to fly, said: "This is a dangerous situation. Doctors in
detention centres appear to be putting the interests of their employers
ahead of the interests of their patients. If true, this is a violation of
the duties of a doctor, and should be investigated."
The overwhelming affirmative response to the call for a pragmatic, people
driven campaign to starve the regime of forex for the next thirty days
compels me to further illuminate this principled stratagem.
Indeed the Diaspora resistance has provoked vibrant, intelligent debate
which has allowed audacious Zimbabweans to interrogate with maturity,
civility and restraint, the case for a viable passive resistance campaign.
A triumphant strategy originates with an attainable objective. Effectively
denying the enablers of tyranny their economic ability to function thereby
successfully dismantling the very pillars that buttress the brutal regime
are the solitary goals.
"Musa pedzere miseve kumakunguwo hanga dzichiuya"
Pseudo-revolutionaries and political opportunists whose incendiary articles
take a different trajectory to the fundamental subject matter have no place
in this national endeavor. Democratic parties need to be ready to occupy the
vacuum created by this bold undertaking which shall hasten the dictator to
"Tsuro nenungu mumwena mumwechete abayiwa ngaabude".
The Moratorium Campaign is a lawful, non-violent, effectual embargo which
shall cement our rightful place as significant players in our country's
This moratorium is a shot across the bow at an intransigent regime. We
demand our fundamental rights. Economic might is the weapon of choice from
the available vast arsenal. This is not mere saber rattling but a formidable
patriotic duty supported by battered recipients of diaspora charity.
The docility and inaction of Zimbabweans is legendary. "The ruin of a nation
begins in the homes of its people."
Our relatives are jovial when they receive funds from an exiled relation. On
the other hand Diaspora Zimbabweans are perpetuating a culture of dependency
and enabling complacency amongst their kith and kin. Why should a well fed,
able bodied Zimbabwean youth participate in a politically feasible protest
for the shortage of basic commodities?
The very recipients of our charity need to contribute to this campaign by
tightening their belts and denying the purveyors of tyranny critical
funding. Let us instruct our relatives in tandem with our thirty day
moratorium, to abstain from utilizing services and buying essential goods
from known regime establishments .e.g. buses, trains, stores, garages etc.
Boycott the banks, doctors, lawyers, pharmacists and other professionals who
now rely on Diaspora funds for payment of services rendered and yet
blatantly support the regime.
Thirty days of collective pain and we define our destiny
Asesabi Lutho – Hapana Chatinotya – We fear Nothing
Phil Matibe – email@example.com
By Nkanyiso Moyo
Last updated: 10/24/2007 22:17:27
CRICKET is not quite a gentlemen’s sport after all!
That myth was busted in an intrigue of fists, journalists and cricket at
Bulawayo’s Queens Sports Ground on Tuesday.
Conant Masocha, an intern reporter at the Sunday News was left with a broken
tooth after being floored by fellow journalist, Leslie Nunu, from The
Standard. Nunu, it was alleged, was acting at the behest of Sunday News
cricket correspondent, Mehluli Sibanda.
Police are now investigating after Masocha filed a report.
The journalists were watching Zimbabwe Select who are playing Sri Lanka A in
a four-day match at the Queens Sports Ground.
Sources said Sibanda, who works for the Sunday News, mainly as a cricket
specialist, on Monday accosted Masocha, an aspiring cricket writer at the
same paper, and asked what he was doing with players in the dressing rooms.
Sources said Masocha wanted to some interviews with some players and the
coach Robin Brown.
“This did not go down well with Sibanda, who believes he is the cricket
authority in the region and he poured water over Masocha in full view of
other journalists,” a source revealed.
The sources revealed problems between the two started when Masocha
interviewed former Zimbabwe Cricket team skipper Heath Streak, who is a
close friend of Sibanda, and the story was published in the Sunday News
magazine last week.
“He (Sibanda) thinks Masocha is challenging him,” said a source at the
Then on Tuesday at around 3pm, Sibanda is alleged to have “hired” Nunu to
“silence the young man”.
“Nunu pulled Masocha to the swimming pool at the sports club and beat him up
there while Sibanda and Lee Mangena of Newsnet watched,” a witness said.
Masocha sustained a broken tooth and a swollen cheek. He reported the matter
to the police, who are said to have visited the Standard offices in search
of Nunu on several occasions Tuesday. He was not found.
Masocha confirmed the attack.
“I have reported the matter to the police because next time, these guys will
injure me seriously and I really do not know what is the problem,” he said.
Both Nunu and Sibanda denied the allegations.
Ironically, Nunu and Masocha are classmates at BES College, where they are
both studying journalism.
Sources at The Sunday News said the paper’s editor, Paul Mambo, had
intervened and was making “concerted efforts to pull the case from the
police and deal with it as an internal issue.”
October 26, 2007
A senior member of the West Indies Cricket Board is in Zimbabwe assessing
the security situation in the country ahead of a scheduled tour next month.
There is particular interest in the arrangements as the West Indies were
forced to cancel a proposed A-team tour in July after a number of players
refused to travel to the country after receiving information from contacts
within and close to the country.
Originally the November tour was to involve Test and ODIs, but Zimbabwe's
continuing self-imposed suspension from Test cricket means that only one-day
matches are now on the itinerary. If the WICB fails to honour its
commitments under the ICC's Future Tours Programme then it faces a fine in
excess of US$2 million.
Tony Howard, the cricket operations manager of the WICB, downplayed the
security concerns when questioned by the Zimbabwe Independent, saying his
visit was only a "normal pre-tour" assessment. He accompanied by a
Canadian-based security expert, ex-Zimbabwean Darren Maughan. The pair have
met with home affairs minister Kembo Mohadi and are due to Augustine
Chihuri,the commissioner of police.
"We are not here to assess the security situation in Zimbabwe as such, but
on a normal pre-tour assessment," Howard told the newspaper. "Security is
only one aspect of our mission here and that's why I have a security expert
travelling with me."
A teams from India, South Africa and Sri Lanka have all toured Zimbabwe
recently, and while none have had any security issues, there have been
problems with accommodation and the availability of food. Zimbabwe continues
to suffer from major shortages.
If the tour is to go ahead then it will need a major about-turn from the
West Indies Players' Association. Ahead of the scrapped A-team tour, WIPA
was very much against the tour taking place on both security and moral
But since then Dinanath Ramnarine, WIPA's chief executive, has been invited
onto the WICB board and so he would have to change his views or oppose the
rest of the executive. If he went down the latter route then he would
possibly be in a situation where he was wearing a WIPA hat to advise his
players not to tour while being part of a board that was insisting they
If it does proceed then it is likely that the revised tour will include two
four-day matches against a full-strength Zimbabwe side as well as five ODIs.
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