The ZIMBABWE Situation
An extensive and up-to-date website containing news, views and links related to ZIMBABWE - a country in crisis
Return to INDEX page
Please note: You need to have 'Active content' enabled in your IE browser in order to see the index of articles on this webpage

Scores of WOZA protesters arrested in Harare

By Alex Bell
15 April 2010

Scores of protesters from pressure group Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) were
arrested in Harare on Thursday, after a peaceful demonstration against high
electricity tariffs was disrupted by police.

A group of about 500 people, including some Harare residents, had marched to
the Harare headquarters of Zimbabwe's Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) in
the capital on Thursday afternoon. The group protested outside ZESA's
offices for about half an hour before the demonstration was broken up by
fully armed riot police, who were apparently called in by ZESA authorities.
The police officers insisted that WOZA leaders Jenni Williams and Magodonga
Mahlangu be arrested. But in an amazing display of solidarity, many other
WOZA members handed themselves in to be arrested too, and climbed into
police vans.

More members then marched to Harare Central Police station where the
arrested group was transported to, and tried to hand themselves over for
voluntary arrest. SW Radio Africa's Harare correspondent Simon Muchemwa said
that police turned them away, "because there wasn't enough room to arrest
anyone else." In total, 65 people were held in custody without charge until
the evening, when 61 were eventually released. The four remaining members,
including WOZA leaders Williams and Mahlangu, as well as Clara Manjengwa and
Celina Madukani, were set to spend the night in cells after being charged
with participating in an illegal gathering.

The group was protesting poor service and unrealistically high tariffs by
ZESA, and had attempted to hand over 'yellow cards' as a warning of a future
boycott. A similar protest in Bulawayo on Monday was peacefully allowed to
continue, despite a heavy police presence, with some police officers
commending WOZA's efforts. On Tuesday, two WOZA members were arrested in
Bulawayo and briefly detained while attending a public meeting on ZESA's
service failures. They were released after fellow police officers lambasted
their colleagues for the arrest, saying "power cuts affect us too."

Ironically in Harare, the prison where the arrested WOZA members were being
held was without power on Thursday as a result of yet another blackout. WOZA's
football inspired 'yellow card' serves as a month's notice to ZESA to shape
up or face 'suspension'. WOZA has also threatened to mobilise for a 'ZERO
service ZERO bill' boycott.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

WOZA women arrested after ‘yellow card’ protest in Harare today

Update 18.00:

61 of the 65 Woza activists have now been released, the four who remain in custody are Jenni Williams, Magodonga Mahlangu, Selina Madukane and Clara Manjengwa.  They are being charged with Participating in an Illegal Gathering under Section 37.1c of the Criminal Codification and Reform Act.  They are hoping that the four will go to court tomorrow morning, but it seems unlikely and that the four will have to spend the weekend in the cells.

Update 16.17:

This morning the women and men of WOZA and MOZA congregated and marched on Megawatt House in Harare to present their complaints over the poor delivery of power in Zimbabwe.

At the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority headquarters they were asked to wait outside until a senior member of Zesa staff would come and address them.  It appears that this was a delaying tactic to allow time for the police to come.

Once the police arrived, they were reticent to arrest the activists, however the Zesa security insisted the “ring leaders” be taken into custody.

Initially Jenny Williamns and Magodonga Mahlangu were the only ones detained and placed into the awaiting police vehicles. When the other members realised their leadership had been taken they immediately climbed into the police vans.

Once the detained activists arrived at Harare Central Police Station, even more of the Woza members forced their arrests in solidarity with their fellow activists.

They are yet to be charged, and the lawyers are currently working on the case.

Please phone Harare police station and voice your concern on Harare +263 4 777777

Original post: Approximately five hundred WOZA members embarked on a peaceful action to deliver yellow cards to ZESA in Harare today. This follows their march in Bulawayo on the 12th, blogged here. We’ve just been advised that at least thirty of the members have been arrested, including Jennie Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu. They are being held at Harare Central police station. This is all the information we have on today’s arrests at this moment.

Two members of WOZA, Million and Mavis Sibanda, were arrested yesterday in Bulawayo when WOZA attended a public hearing on ZESA:

As the delegation were due to answer questions, two members, Million and Mavis Sibanda, took the opportunity to go to the toilets, which are in the reception foyer. As soon as they entered the foyer, they were grabbed by two plain clothed police officers who searched their bags. The police officers then insisted the two members accompany them to Central Police Station.


At the police station, Million and Mavis were being interrogated as to their objective in the meeting and a bunch of ‘yellow cards’ found on Million were confiscated. They were mwade to narrate their life history which was noted down on a profile form. Some other police officers then apparently came to their rescue asking why they had been arrested. Upon hearing the explanation, they said they are also suffering from high electricity bills and long cuts and that WOZA should be allowed to protest on this issue. They then insisted the two WOZA members should be released. Upon confirmation of their release, the rest of the WOZA members went back into the meeting.

Read the full details on the WOZA website.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Media release: Invasion of pristine Zim game ranch

MEDIA RELEASE                                                         FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


Thursday 15 April 2010



South African-owned Zim game ranch illegally occupied in defiance of BIPPA



In defiance of a bilateral investment promotion and protection agreement (BIPPA) signed by South Africa and Zimbabwe on November 27 last year, a South African-owned game ranch was taken over yesterday at 17h00 in the Beitbridge area of Matabeleland South.


            This is the first contravention of the BIPPA which protects South African investments in Zimbabwe from the date of signing and includes agricultural land. 


The deal was lauded as being the key to unlocking millions of rands worth of investment from South Africa.


            “It is extremely unfortunate that this is taking place at a stage when South African President Jacob Zuma is engaging with our transitional government to find a peaceful way forward for the country,” said Deon Theron, president of the Commercial Farmers’ Union.


            “April 18 is the 30th anniversary of Zimbabwe’s independence but we have nothing to celebrate.  We are now totally dependent on the international donor community for food aid whereas in 1980 we were recognised as a food secure country and an exporter,” Theron said.


Just 46 km from the South African border, Benlynian Ranch is a highly regarded destination for conservationists, overseas tourists and South African visitors, generating valuable foreign currency for Zimbabwe.


For months the owners and their employees have been subjected to ongoing harassment, hampering operations on the game farm and nearby Benfer citrus estate, also owned by the South African shareholders.


In February, the police were instructed by the National Land Inspectorate to prosecute the son of one of the owners although there was no official case against him. 


During March, a young game guard from the unit was arrested by the police without warning and placed in custody.  He was subsequently taken to the public prosecutor, who admitted there was no legal reason to prosecute, and he was finally released a few days later.


According to commentators who cannot be named for security reasons, the local police are under significant pressure from police headquarters in Harare to force the few remaining commercial farmers off their land.


Benlynian is an ecologically significant game ranch - described by a prominent British botanist as having the finest riverine forest of its type he had seen worldwide.

The land is totally unsuitable for resettlement as it is situated in Zimbabwe’s Ecological Region 6, which is classified as semi-desert, with the lowest rainfall in the country and the highest recorded evaporation.  


Due to the shallow basalt soils, rocky ridges and lack of natural surface water, the land is officially categorised as not fit for human habitation and is also unsuitable for cattle and cropping.


Benlynian Range was purchased in 1984 after receipt of an official letter of no interest from the Zimbabwean government, which had bought a large section of land across the Umzingwane River and required no additional land in the area.


Over 24 years, the owners sank boreholes, installed electricity and transformed the 20 000 ha ranch into a viable wildlife sanctuary protected by 75 km of 16 strand game fencing. 


They stocked it with giraffe, zebra, wildebees, eland, kudu, impala, bushbuck, duiker and steenbok and created a haven for cheetah, leopard and, more recently two breeding packs of the highly endangered wild dog.


With the well-documented slaughter of Zimbabwe’s prized wildlife throughout the conservancies and commercial farms, as well as in the national parks over the past decade, Benlynian Ranch’s importance as a game sanctuary and gene pool is has become increasingly critical.


“The Soccer World Cup is taking place in South Africa less than two months away and Zimbabwe should be doing everything possible to capitalise on this unique tourism opportunity,” said Theron.  “We should also be providing South Africa with support at this critical time.”


“Instead, our actions are driving away potential tourists and impacting negatively on the entire SADC region, both from a tourism and investment perspective,” he concluded.




For further information:


Deon Theron


Commercial Farmers’ Union – Zimbabwe

Tel:  +263 4 309 800 (CFU – Harare)

Zim Cell: +263 912 246 233



Attached are photos from the invaded Zim game ranch. Benlynian Ranch, which as a highly regarded destination for conservationists, overseas tourists and South Africans.
As you can see, a huge amount of work has been done to fence and electrify the property;  boreholes were sunk to provide water, etc since it's such a dry area.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Minister Mohadi believed to be involved in latest farm invasion

By Alex Bell
15 April 2010

Co-Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi is believed to be involved in the
invasion of a South African owned game farm in Beitbridge, in a move that
critics say could threaten trade relations between the two countries.

A lodge on Benlynian Game Ranch, which lies just 46 km from the South
African border, was invaded by eight men on Wednesday, who then gave the
owners of the farm up until Thursday night to vacate. The ranch owner is
said to have already fled the property for his own safety, but his son has
been trying to persuade police to stop the invaders taking over. Police
officials have instead been scouring the property trying to arrest some
employees on the farm, including ranch guards and game rangers.

Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) President Deon Theron told SW Radio Africa on
Thursday that Minister Mohadi, who has control of the police, is suspected
to be involved in the invasion. Theron said that he couldn't confirm these
suspicions but he did express concern about the Minister's possible
involvement, saying: "If this is true, then it's a very sad state of

The game farm is a popular destination for conservationists, overseas
tourists and South African visitors, generating valuable foreign currency
for Zimbabwe. But for months the owners and their employees have been
subjected to ongoing harassment. In February, the police were instructed by
the National Land Inspectorate to prosecute the son of one of the owners
although there was no official case against him. And then in March, a young
guard on the property was arrested without warning and placed in custody.
He was subsequently taken to the public prosecutor, who admitted there was
no legal reason to prosecute, and he was finally released a few days later.

Theron explained that the land invasion is the first contravention of the
newly ratified Bilateral Investment Protection and Promotion Agreement
(BIPPA), signed by Zimbabwe and South Africa last year. The BIPPA is meant
to protect South African owned investments, including land, and was lauded
as key to unlocking millions of rands worth of investment from South Africa.
Theron said the open defiance of this BIPPA is a critical threat to
investment relations with South Africa, which is Zimbabwe's main trading

"It is also extremely unfortunate that this is taking place at a stage when
South African President Jacob Zuma is engaging with our transitional
government to find a peaceful way forward for the country," said Theron,
adding that the impact on the lucrative tourism sector will be significant.

"These actions are driving away potential tourists and impacting negatively
on the entire SADC region, both from a tourism and investment perspective,"
he said.

Theron also explained that the land is totally unsuitable for 'resettlement'
which is usually the excuse used to justify the ongoing seizures of
productive or commercial land. He said the farm is situated in Zimbabwe's
Ecological Region 6, a region classified as semi-desert, with the lowest
rainfall in the country and the highest recorded evaporation.

"Due to the shallow basalt soils, rocky ridges and lack of natural surface
water, the land is officially categorised as not fit for human habitation
and is also unsuitable for cattle and cropping," Theron said, adding the
takeover is nothing more than theft.

"April 18 is the 30th anniversary of Zimbabwe's independence but we have
nothing to celebrate.  We are now totally dependent on the international
donor community for food aid, meaning we are not independent at all" Theron


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

PM spokesman defends statement on ‘suspension’ of indigenisation regulations

By Violet Gonda
15 April 2010

James Maridadi, the Prime Minister’s spokesperson, is standing by his
statement that Cabinet has ‘set aside’ the controversial indigenisation
regulations, pending further consultations. He denied saying the
Indigenisation law had been suspended.

Confusion is rife over the status of the indigenisation regulations as a
result of conflicting statements made by the partners in the inclusive

Robert Mugabe and Saviour Kasukuwere, the Minister in charge of
indigenisation, have both denied that cabinet has ‘suspended’ the

Mugabe is quoted telling reporters at the Tobacco Auction Floors in Harare
on Wednesday: “There is no nullification of the indigenisation and economic
empowerment law, no nullification of the regulations which have been made.”

“What is there is that the regulations are being studied by a committee of
cabinet just to improve them,” he said.

But on Thursday the Prime Minister’s spokesperson explained on SW Radio
Africa that no one in government had disputed the law: “It’s unfortunate
that people are failing to comprehend something which is quite basic and

Maridadi said the partners in government are not disputing the
indigenisation law which aims to correct ‘economic imbalances’, but that
there is dispute over the regulations which will enforce the law.

He said this is what cabinet discussed earlier this week and it was agreed
that there will be further consultations on the regulations before they are

“So basically there is no disagreement on the issue of the indigenisation
law and the only concern was raised on the issue of the regulations. The
concern was in the current state they would not be able to attract
investors. They would criminalise investors and they would not be as broad
based as we would wish them to be.”

“So that was the issue that was raised in cabinet and it was debated and it
was agreed that the indigenisation regulations in their current form would
be set aside until there is further consultation, and after there has been
some addition and/or subtractions only then would they be gazetted and they
will become effective. It’s not the indigenisation law, it’s the

The Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment regulations, which were tabled
by Kasukuwere, seek to ensure ‘indigenous’ Zimbabweans own 51 percent of
companies worth over US$500 000.

A source close to the discussions said: “What was there was just a blanket
51 percent, but proposals for improved regulations will centre on a
scorecard, which will not only look at shares percentage but include looking
at the number of women in the company, investment strategy, training,
procurement, equity and social investment.

It is reported that a cabinet committee chaired by the Prime Minister will
be looking at this process to improve the regulations.

Much concern has surrounded these proposed regulations, with observers
equating them to the land ‘reform’ policy, which primarily benefited Mugabe’s
ruling elite. There have already been reports of senior officials
threatening lucrative companies with imminent takeover and investors have
been running scared.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Saviour Kasukawere admits he lies to the media

Oh, how I laughed when I read SW Radio Africa's account of the confusion surrounding the news that the indigenisation policy has been suspended.

Saviour Kasukawere, one of Zanu PF's loud-mouthed big-headed young guns associated with unpleasant things like racist attitudes and violence against his constituents, has been sending out conflicting messages through the media.

He told the Zimbabwe Guardian yesterday that "The law is still in force and companies have to comply in line with the regulations issued. The first deadline is set for Thursday this week (tomorrow) and is still in force." They went off and wrote an article titled Zimbabwe empowerment law still in force: minister.

But then Kasukuwere was quoted by the Associated Press, in an article titled Black empowerment law delayed in Zimbabwe: "There are consultations which must be made with various sectors and this is why the Act has been set aside."

Both articles with titles sending very different messages were published on the same day.

SW Radio Africa asked Kasukuwere to explain the conflicting reports. Displaying a deft understanding of how to handle the media and best further his standing in the eyes of irritated and confused Zimbabweans, Kasukwere responded:

"Oh well, you have to look at the people you are giving interviews to and you tell them what they want to hear. But this is an irreversible process."

At which point I howled out loud with laughter. What a twit! He admits he LIES, and he admits this to the press.?!?

If I were the international and local media I would start analysing what he says and to which sections of the media. Perhaps Kasukwere lies only to the Zimbabwean press - preferring to mainline misinformation directly to the people? Maybe he lies to the international media in the hope that they will become less critical of his lousy policy? Or perhaps he is indiscriminate and actually lies to everyone.

Whatever it is, the bottom line is, don't believe a word of what comes out of this man's mouth because by his own admission he is not directed by the truth or government policy; instead he decides what to say based on who he is talking to.

(Zanu PF must stop whinging about the coverage they get in the media if they are incapable of given straight truthful answers.)

Saviour Kasukwere's new best friend in South Africa, the foul-mouthed Julius Malema, is once again in Zimbabwean minds but not for the reasons you may think -  and this caused me much amusement too this morning! Zimbabweans have responded to his recent foray into our country with characteristic good humour.

This joke, which says all it needs to say about what the people in our country think of Malema, is circulating fast via sms message:

The Pope and Julius Malema are on a stage in front of a huge crowd. The Pope leans towards Julius and says, "Do you know that with one wave of my hand I can make this crowd go wild with joy? Not a momentary display, like your followers, but deep in their hearts so they forever speak of this day and rejoice!?"

Julius said: "I seriously doubt that! With one wave of your hand? Show me."

So the Pope gave him a moerse klap!

I'm sure it won't be long before we start properly laughing at Saviour Kasukwere too!

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

PM not leading government delegation to Europe

By Violet Gonda
14 April 2010

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai will not be joining a government delegation
to Brussels on a 're-engagement' tour next week, as had been reported by the

The Prime Minister's Office has also denied that Tsvangirai was going to
lobby for the removal of sanctions imposed by the European Union on the
Mugabe regime.

But in the last week's Changing Times newsletter, under the story titled:
Zuma receives talks progress update, the MDC wrote: "The other outstanding
issues on the front burner are targeted sanctions, with a Zimbabwe
delegation led by Prime Minister Tsvangirai poised to travel to Brussels on
April 21 to persuade the 27-bloc to lift the restrictive measures imposed on
ZANU PF officials over electoral theft and rights abuses."
But the Prime Minister's Office told SW Radio Africa on Thursday that
Tsvangirai will be at the opening of the Trade Fair in Bulawayo on April
21st, the day the delegation leaves for Brussels. The delegation is made up
of a cabinet committee on economic affairs, chaired by the Ministry of
Foreign Affairs. This means it will be lead by ZANU PF Minister Simbarashe
ZANU PF has said it will not implement the Global Political Agreement until
targeted sanctions imposed by western countries on Mugabe and other
individuals have been removed.
But MDC spokesperson Nelson Chamisa insisted this week that while there was
a 'government committee' that is going to Europe on issues of 're-engaging'
with the west, the MDC members of the delegation were not going to Europe to
call for the removal of sanctions. He said: "We have no obligation at all to
be accused of being the authors of the misfortunes that have affected people
in ZANU PF."

The political parties in government did agree when they signed the GPA in
2008 to 'commit themselves to working together in re-engaging the
international community with a view to bringing to an end the country's
international isolation'.
Western countries have urged the Zimbabwean government to fully implement
the GPA as a condition for the removal of the restrictive measures.
Although the Prime Minister will not be traveling to Europe he is expected
to travel to Washington DC in mid May to accept a democracy and human rights
award from the National Democratic Institute.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zimbabwe hardships blight freedom celebrations

Thu Apr 15, 2010 10:54am GMT

* Mugabe in power for three decades

* Time to count "lost opportunities"

* Zimbabweans worry about another Mugabe term

By Cris Chinaka

HARARE, April 15 (Reuters) - Zimbabwe celebrates 30 years of independence
this weekend but there is little hope for the future in a country only
slowly recovering from economic collapse after three decades of President
Robert Mugabe's rule.

Mugabe, now 86, spearheaded a guerrilla war against white minority rule in
the then Rhodesia, but critics charge that he has ruined one of Africa's
most promising economies since taking over power from Britain in 1980.

"It should be a landmark anniversary, but unfortunately for many people it
is a time to count lost opportunities, and wasted lives," said Lovemore
Madhuku, a political commentator and head of pressure group National
Constitutional Assembly (NCA).

On Sunday Mugabe will lead freedom celebrations in Harare but many people
are spooked by the prospect of his running for another term in elections
expected in 2013. Mugabe said last month he would stand again if nominated
by his ZANU-PF party.

Mugabe was last year forced into a power-sharing government with arch-rival
Morgan Tsvangirai, now prime minister, after a political crisis sparked by a
disputed general election in 2008.

While the fragile coalition has stabilised the economy and re-opened schools
and hospitals, it is too broke to rebuild collapsed public infrastructure
and provide clean water.

At least eight out of 10 potential workers are unemployed, and organised
crime and corruption are increasing in the wake of a decade-long economic

Despite criticism that the move will damage the economy and discourage
foreign investment, Mugabe is pressing on with plans to turn over control of
foreign firms to locals under a black empowerment drive.

Analysts say ordinary Zimbabweans are frustrated with the slow pace of
economic recovery and reforms towards democracy since the unity government
assumed office 14 months ago.

"Instead of celebrating freedom, a lot of people are preoccupied and are
rightly worried about their lives and the future," Madhuku said. "There is
very little happening around us to give anyone any sense of comfort."


ZANU-PF and Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) are jointly
organising the independence festivities, but analysts say tensions remain
between the two parties and there is no obvious public enthusiasm over the

The two rival parties are still bickering over the appointment of senior
state officials and how to get sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by Western
governments lifted.

A drive to write a new constitution leading to new elections is running
eight months behind and Western donors have withheld aid over the reforms
and implementation of a power-sharing pact.

Zimbabwe says it needs $10 billion to revive the economy.

Critics believe Mugabe's strategy is to hold onto as much power for as long
as possible while re-organising his party for another battle against the
MDC, which his political supporters hope will weaken and split ahead of an

"Mugabe's consistent position is to try build his party and his fortunes on
their history in the liberation struggle even when you think that has run
its course," said Eldred Masunungure, University of Zimbabwe political
science professor.

"It's a hard sale particularly with the younger generation, but then Mugabe
is a hard man who doesn't concede ground easily and you don't count him out
until he is down," Masunungure said.

Analysts say some ZANU-PF structures have been fractured by the near loss of
power in 2008 but the police, army and state security brass -- the imposing
frontline of Mugabe's political machinery -- still largely backs the ageing

Many Zimbabweans now believe that the greatest threat to Mugabe's wish to
continue in power is the economic devastation brought by his controversial

While Mugabe argues that his seizure of white-owned farms for landless
blacks was meant to correct colonial injustices and economically empower
native Zimbabweans, it has left a former bread basket of the region
surviving on food handouts.

Millions of Zimbabweans have fallen into penury over the years while an
elite closely linked to his ZANU-PF has become incredibly rich and is given
to outrageous displays of wealth in collections of limousines and palatial

"Unless the economy is fixed, and fixed quickly, there is little to
celebrate. Our economy is in a very bad shape and it doesn't look like there
is a realisation that modern states rise and fall on their economies," said
Harare-based economist Eric Bloch.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zimbabwean Independence 30th Anniversary - 'Lights for Freedom' Demonstration

Written by Zimbabwe Exiles Forum
Thursday, 15 April 2010 09:27

Zimbabwean exiles are to lay 30 candles outside the South African High
Commission in London on Saturday 17th April to mark the 30th anniversary of
Zimbabwe's Independence.

The demonstrators will carry the candles from the nearby Zimbabwe Embassy to
symbolise their hopes for South African help in achieving true independence.
South Africa's President Zuma is the mediator appointed by the regional
body, the Southern African Development Community (SADC), to try to resolve
the deadlock in Zimbabwe between the two partners in the coalition
government, President Mugabe's Zanu-PF and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
After his last visit to Harare in March President Zuma said that both sides
had agreed on the way forward but it has emerged that President Mugabe has
once again reneged on his promises and there has been no progress.
Leading Zimbabwean activist Ephraim Tapa said it was time to call an end to
the charade and new elections should be held. Mr Tapa said Mugabe would
undoubtedly employ violence again and an international peace-keeping force
was essential to ensure that this was prevented.  He added that all surveys
had shown that Mugabe's Zanu-PF would be roundly defeated in fair elections
and there was no point in delaying them since Mugabe had no intention of
abiding by any agreements he had made.
The demonstration has been organised by the Zimbabwe Vigil which has been
protesting outside the Zimbabwe Embassy in London for the past 8 years in
support of demands for free and fair elections.
The Vigil expects to be joined by Lovemore Matombo - President of the
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, Irene Petras - Executive Director of
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, and Gabriel Shumba - Executive Director
of Zimbabwe Exiles Forum.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zimbabwe likely to cut 2010 growth f'cast-FinMin

Thu Apr 15, 2010 4:29pm GMT

* Zimbabwe may cut 2010 growth forecast to 4.8 pct from 7.7 pct * Failure to
attract foreign donor support hurting growth * Maize harvest to rise but
shortages to continue

By Nelson Banya

HARARE, April 15 (Reuters) - Zimbabwe is likely to cut its 2010 economic
growth forecast from 7.7 percent to 4.8 percent due to political uncertainty
and its failure to attract foreign donor support, Finance Minister Tendai
Biti said on Thursday.

Biti said donors had so far provided only $2.9 million to finance an $810
million budget deficit.

"If this slow off-take persists then we may have to revise our growth target
to about 4.8 percent. We are not doing this now, but will make a definitive
statement in the mid-year budget review," Biti told reporters.

The southern African nation's economy grew by 5.1 percent in 2009 compared
to an earlier projection of 4.7 percent, Biti said.

Zimbabwe's power-sharing government, formed last year by bitter rivals
President Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai, now prime minister, says the
country needs at least $10 billion to fix an economy that shrank by over 40
percent between 2000 and 2008.

But analysts say frequent wrangling over reforms within the coalition and
doubts that Mugabe is ready to genuinely share power have resulted in donors
withholding significant aid, delaying economic recovery.

"The 2010 budget counts on THE significant support of donors, amounting to
$810 million, but the regrettable thing is that donor financing, which we
had earmarked for capital projects has not materialised," Biti said.

"It is our politics that explains why there's multilateral (donor) support
for Zambia and Botswana but none for Zimbabwe."

Although the government has managed to stabilise the economy -- ending ten
years of decline in 2009 and taming hyperinflation which peaked at 500
billion percent in December 2008 -- Zimbabwe still struggles to feed itself.

Aid agencies say over 2 million Zimbabweans will need food aid this year.

Biti said a harvest of 1.5 million tonnes of maize was expected in the
2009-2010 season, above the previous season's 1.2 million tonnes, but there
would still be a 500,000 tonne shortage which would be filled by imports.

Rising food prices threatened to drive inflation above the government's
single-digit target, he said.

"There are strong signals that inflation is on the rise, as shown by the
increase of month-on-month inflation from 0.7 percent in January to 1
percent in February," Biti said.

"One percent month on month inflation compounds to over 10 percent inflation
by year-end, beyond the 5 percent which we have projected."

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Chiminya widow says national healing organ a ‘fake’

By Lance Guma
15 April 2010

The widow of an MDC activist murdered 10 years ago in Buhera in the run up
to the 2000 parliamentary elections, has dismissed the National Healing
Organ set up by the coalition government as a ‘fake’ body. Adella Mutero
Chiminya’s husband, Tichaona Chiminya, and fellow activist Talent Mabika,
were brutally murdered when ZANU PF state agents Joseph Mwale and Kainos
‘Kitsiyatota’ Zimunya petrol bombed their election campaign vehicle during
an ambush.

Speaking to Newsreel from the United Kingdom on the 10th anniversary of the
gruesome murders Mutero told us she felt powerless to do anything about
getting justice for the families. Asked about the creation of the National
Healing Organ to address such issues she angrily told us the body was ‘fake,
fake, fake’ and just a talk shop. ‘Since they were formed they have not
spoken to any of our family members’ she fumed. She said their only hope for
justice was a new government taking over after free and fair elections.

Mutero’s disillusionment was echoed by Sanderson Makombe, a former MDC
National Youth Coordinator, who survived the 15 April 2000 attack. He told
our Behind the Headlines program that the healing organ had displayed its
lack of seriousness in redressing past atrocities and would achieve neither
reconciliation nor justice.

‘The leaders of the Organ continue holding meaningless talk-show type
meetings without any substance. The fact that they chose to operate without
any enabling act of parliament highlights the absurdity of their
assumptions. They don’t have a specific mandate to investigate past
atrocities, to hear and record testimonies, to compel victims and offenders
to own up, neither do they have a package of restitution and compensation as
required by international law.’

Ten years ago Makombe escaped into the bush and watched as Zimunya and Mwale
threw petrol into the car and set it alight. Vastly outnumbered and faced
with thugs armed with AK-47 rifles he watched powerlessly as his colleagues
Mabika and Chiminya got out of the car and ran ‘across the fields burning
like balls of flames.’ When the mob left he ran to Chiminya who was already
dead, but Mabika was still alive and shouting out the names of her
attackers. She was to die later in hospital.

Makombe said reports that the MDC will be part of a delegation heading to
Europe campaigning for the lifting of targeted sanctions were unfortunate.
‘Surely the irony will not be lost here: the victim will be pleading for the
offender,’ he said, adding that nothing had changed in terms of the human
rights situation and this is what had invited the targeted sanctions in the
first place.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Block National Youth Service

15/04/2010 14:23:00

Harare, April 15, 2010 - Zimbabwe's civil society organisations want the
coalition government to temporarily postpone the re-introduction of the
National Youth Service programme amid revelations that the Minister of
Indigenisation and Youth Empowerment Saviour Kasukuwere wants to roll-out
the scheme by June.

Under Article 15.1 (a) of the Global Political Agreement signed between
President Robert Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime
Minister Arthur Mutambara, "all youths regardless of race, ethnicity,
gender, religion and political affiliation are
eligible to participate in the national youth training programme."

 Sydney Chasi, the director of the Youth for Democracy in Zimbabwe (YIDEZ),
told a press conference in Harare on Thursday that Kasukuwere personally
informed him that he would be re-introducing the national youth service as
it was enshrined in the GPA at least by June this year.

But Chasi said YIDEZ and other like-minded organisations were against the
re-introduction of the national youth service, saying Zanu (PF would used it
to achieve its own political ends.

He said in the past youths recruited under the scheme had been prone to
sexual and physical abuse, let alone being used as
political tools to maim or kill Zanu (PF) perceived opponents.

"We are thus calling for the government to temporarily postpone the
re-introduction of the National Youth Service programme and instead
utilise the transition period to put in place all mechanism and frameworks
to ensure that the programme does not carry the negative
perception from the past," said Chasi.

"As young people, we have learnt from other national processes currently
underway and we understand that such a sensitive programme
cannot be effectively implemented by this fragile coalition government but
only after a decisive free and fair election," he said.

Okay Machisa, the director of ZimRights, said wide-sweeping reforms were
needed from the current national youth service before it was
re- introduced.

Meanwhile Tsvangirai said it was saddening that teachers had been on the
frontline of the past decade and half of economic collapse and
political strife.

In the run-up to presidential elections in 2008 scores of teachers were
killed by state security agents and Zanu (PF) militia while
hundreds of others were forced to flee their posts due to political violence
in rural areas. Some are doing menial jobs in neighboring
countries such as South Africa, Botswana and Namibia.

But Tsvangirai said his MDC T would not allow this to happen during the
lifespan of the coalition government.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

At least 10 killed in Zim bus crash

by Chenai Maramba Thursday 15 April 2010

CHINHOYI - At least 10 people mainly foreigners from South Africa and Zambia
were burnt to death while about 33 others were critically injured on Tuesday
night when a South Africa-bound bus caught fire after colliding with a
haulage truck near Chinhoyi town, about 120 kilometers north-west of Harare.

Police were still to finalise the deceased's nationalities by yesterday

The accident occurred around 8pm at the 127-kilometre peg along the
Harare-Chirundu highway. Witnesses said the bus travelling from the Zambian
capital Lusaka to Johannesburg in South Africa encroached into the lane of
an oncoming haulage truck as the bus overtook a Harare-bound lorry laden
with tobacco from Karoi. The haulage truck was carrying fertilizer.

Ian Chidongo who was travelling from Harare to Karoi and arrived at the
scene soon after the accident said some motorists ferried the injured to
Chinhoyi provincial hospital.

"There were glowing fires from both the truck and bus and I was not sure if
people had survived. We could not help but some motorists ferried some
people who had escaped from the bus. It was sad,'' Chidongo said.

When ZimOnline visited the accident scene Wednesday morning, the bus shell
was still smouldering and bags of fertilizers were burning.

Police officers at the accident scene, speaking on condition that they were
not named said details of the deceased were still being finalised.

The police also said the number of dead was likely to rise. Initial reports
indicated that as many as 25 people could have died in the accident.

"There are people with fire burns in hospital wards and we are yet to
finalise details about the nationalities of those who died but we suspect
there are mostly South Africans or Zambians,'' said a hospital source.

Mashonaland West provincial medical director Wencleus Nyamayaro could not be
reached for official comment as his mobile was out of reach.

Accidents are common on Zimbabwe's roads most of which are in poor shape
after years of neglect because of lack of funds to carry out repair and
maintenance work. - ZimOnline

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Gays Will Provoke Ancestors - Chief

15/04/2010 14:22:00

Masvingo, April 15, 2010- Chief Zimuto has warned that he will not support
gays and will ensure that they are evicted from his area.

The chief summoned village heads and headmen in his area to warn people in
the area that gays will not be supported.

He said he will not tolerate any 'nonsense' in the form of gay rights saying
that would provoke the ancestors.

"I am serious with the issue because often people upset their ancestors by
doing some of the things which could be prevented. I will
not back-track on this one; I do not need gays in my area," said the chief.
"Those who love gays or who want to practice that evil culture must never do
it in my land, never."

Headman Chipadza said there was unanimous agreement among all the headmen
who attended the meeting that gay rights will not be supported.

"We stand with our chief because we do not want to invite the wrath of our
ancestors. Homosexuality is abominable, we must never discuss that. Debating
about homosexuality is like debating on whether people must be allowed to
eat one another," fumed headman Chipadza.

Zimbabweans are set to write their new constitution very soon. The process
is now eight months behind but already issues like inclusion
of gay rights and the presidential term limits has since sparked debates in
many circles.

President Robert Mugabe has at one time referred to homosexuals as 'worse
than pigs'.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zimbabwe’s first 30 years - A generation of failure

15 April 2010

30th anniversary of independence is Sunday, April 18

They call them the "born-frees," the generation of Zimbabweans born after
the day 30 years ago when the former British colony of Zimbabwe (formerly
Southern Rhodesia) was declared an independent nation after ninety years of
white minority rule.

The dream had arrived where they were free to vote and choose their own
leaders, to determine their own future. With that came the right to receive
a good education, health care, and housing, and to work and earn a decent
living, instead of being consigned to life as second-class citizens because
of their skin colour.

Thirty years down the line, the reality is rather different. The generation
born in hope still finds itself oppressed and driven into poverty and

"We are not free," said Billy Makamwe, who was born a month after
independence. "If you talk politics on a bus there will be someone
listening, and when you want to get off, they will arrest you. We live in

In the same time, President Robert Mugabe has turned from a middle-aged
Marxist, who invested heavily in education and healthcare, to an 86-year-old
despot showing no sign of being ready to retire gracefully, despite having
been forced into a coalition government with his sworn enemy, pro-democracy
leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

What was Africa’s second-most developed economy, after South Africa, is
struggling to recover from spectacular economic collapse in 2008 that saw
inflation hit 500 billion percent and the currency - at independence on par
with British sterling - plunge to a rate of 4 trillion Zimbabwean dollars to
1 US dollar.

Makamwe grew up in the shantytown of Epworth south of the capital of Harare.
"When I was at primary school, things were normal," he said. "My father was
able to give us money, we ate good food, three meals a day."

But by the time he left school after four years of high school, life was
tough. Money was short and two meals a day had become a luxury.

His ambitions were modest enough. He wanted to become a driver.

But by the mid-90s, the economy under Mugabe’s control was contracting
sharply. The best he could find was a succession of manual labour jobs and
finally a job as a security guard.

At the same time, the first glimmerings of political opposition to Mugabe’s
rule were beginning to show - and were met with fierce resistance by his
ruling Zanu-PF party.

"Now there were Zanu-PF youths on the streets, forcing people to come to
meetings, threatening us."

"We don’t want this," he said. "When we were born, the war was over. Mugabe
had been fighting the whites, and then we got a black government.

"But the war is going on," he continued. "These youths are singing "hondo,
hondo" (Shona for ’war, war’) all the time.

"Mugabe is making war against the people. We don’t understand what war is
for. That is old politics."

By 2008, Zanu-PF had unleashed an offensive to destroy Tsvangirai’s Movement
for Democratic Change.

In Epworth, it took the form of dragging MDC supporters out of their homes
for public "punishment" beatings.

When they came for Makamwe at 1 a.m. one night, he managed to slip out
through a back window and hid in a large avocado tree. The next day he moved
his family out of the area.

Many thousands had the same fate, but Makamwe was lucky - he escaped and
found a job as a gardener.

Independence Day in Zimbabwe is usually celebrated by a rally of Zanu-PF
faithful in a stadium, a military display and a speech by Mugabe, in which
he usually tilts at the West.

Makamwe says he won’t be participating.

His main concern, he says, is for the next generation, and a good education
for his daughter, Annie.

"I want her to be able to grow up to be a teacher, a doctor, even a pilot,"
he said.

"But that can never be while Mugabe is there. We are not independent, we are
dependent on all those Western countries that Mugabe hates. He made it like
that. We have to have change."


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Life in Zimbabwe in the time of measles

A few weeks ago I got a rare opportunity to go on a field trip with an
international humanitarian assistance organization working in Buhera,
Murambinda. This is one place that has hit the headlines because of a
measles outbreak wreaking havoc in that area. A few kilometers off the main
road, health centres are accessible only by travelling along uneven dust
paths that field vehicles have, over time, carved out. Travelling like this
in the back of a 4X4 Landcruiser is a lot like being in an army squad-car;
an experience so jarringly bumpy that by the time you reach your
destination, your insides feel like they have haphazardly re-arranged
themselves along your internal torso. But this is nothing compared to the
kilometers that women and children in Buhera have to walk barefoot in the
parched plains under the baking sun to reach the nearest health facility.

The fields are pitifully without any maize; a few sorghum stalks litter most
of the space.

Day two on an active measles case finding mission, we took to the dust road
on our way to Muzokomba  - one of the villages where several outbreaks had
been reported. We passed an extraordinary figure of an old woman who at a
distance looked like a scarecrow perched precariously on a tree. As we drew
closer, I noticed that the old woman was dressed mostly in rags. She had
made a makeshift shaded seat - something akin to a hammock, only not as
comfortable. The makeshift shelter is called rindiro or watchtower. Her thin
frame was sitting alertly upright, and cross-legged, her eyes blankly
staring into the distance. Pathetic pieces of crockery lay underneath her
seat, and a small pot was cooking something foul smelling a few meters away.
She was watching over her meager sorghum crop, protecting it from baboons.
You could literally count the number of stalks littering her small field.
The field workers explained that this was common practice; villagers just
have to do this or else starve.

And I thought I had problems.

Apart from watermelons, sorghum is about the only crop that thrives in the
harsh Buhera climate. As we drove further, two small boys sat in their own
rindiro, at a time when they should be in school. I wondered if they stood a
real chance of intimidating an adult baboon.

At the end of this tour I came to the conclusion that if for any reason
organizations like MSF, Goal and Red Cross offering various forms of
humanitarian assistance in Buhera decided to cease operations in Murambinda
today, they would be responsible for thousands of deaths in that area. I
also found the devotion and hardwork of the field personnel touchingly
dedicated. Active case findings mean following the grapevine for leads on
where the disease is resident. It is about coaxing the largely indifferent
women at the clinics for more information and leads. It is about driving for
many kilometers following the leads supplied and when you find sick
children, you seek permission from their guardians after which if granted,
means bundling mothers and children in the back of the truck and taking them
back to the nearest measles clinic.

Certain sects of the Vapostori religion are the most uncooperative. As soon
as they spotted the measles medical team vehicles approaching their
homesteads, women literally scurried for the hills to hide their children
therein. Field workers have recently been forced to carry out physical
inspections of huts and under beds as religious parents go out of their way
to avoid 'sinning'.  They have to use a variety of tactics ranging from
coercion and intimidation to begging in order to obtain the cooperation of
guardians to get sick children treated for measles. The team I travelled
with had a directive they moved around with - which had been written by one
of the chiefs, demanding that all villagers get their children immunized and
treated for measles and that those refusing to do so will be committing a
crime prosecutable under the law as a criminal offence. The directive also
highlighted that any parent who denies a child treatment, resulting in that
child's death would be charged for murder and incarcerated.

On average, seeking permission to treat measles patients takes anything
between 30minutes to an hour per household - of first making small talk,
coaxing and sometimes begging. This is the kind of work that is the preserve
for really patient fieldworkers. I kept thinking to myself, damn stupid
people - this disease is claiming the lives of their children in droves, and
yet someone has to drive all the way just make that realization apparent to
them and convince them to seek treatment for their children. The dynamics of
religious hegemony are something we will never understand. At one homestead,
the head was adamant that no child of his would be immunized or receive
'Western' medical treatment. In such cases, field workers have no choice but
to leave medication behind and hope against hope that the parents would
administer it to their sick children. A lot of the times, teams have
returned days later to check on the children and found funerals in progress.
That is just the way it has been.

I managed to speak informally to some of the mothers detained at a clinic in
Muzokomba, and they intimated that sometimes, they really want to seek
treatment for their kids but their husbands just won't have it. One or two
were clearly not happy to be at the clinic because it went against the grain
and spirit of their religion, which believes strongly that if God created
people, only he should then be responsible for treating the sick among
humankind. Moreover, the insurmountable distances villagers have to travel
on foot to reach the nearest clinic greatly contributes to the
disinclination to seek medical attention.

This entry was posted on April 15th, 2010 at 9:25 am by Natasha Msonza

Back to the Top
Back to Index