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Charles Taylor’s conviction for war crimes is a lesson to all tyrants

The Liberian dictator thought himself to be above the law – Bashar al-Assad
and Robert Mugabe, take note.

By Con Coughlin

8:55PM BST 26 Apr 2012

It seems such a long time ago that our television screens were filled every
night with the latest atrocities committed in Sierra Leone’s brutal civil
war. Yet even by the standards of the Dark Continent’s recent violent
history, the conflict in Sierra Leone generated some of the most barbaric
images of cruelty we have seen in modern times.

The signature atrocity of the rebel forces that first overran Sierra Leone
in the 1990s was to chop off the limbs of their opponents with a machete or
an axe. There were stories of truckloads of victims who had recently been
maimed being taken to a UN compound still bearing their severed limbs in the
forlorn hope that they might be saved. Other survivors, who had already lost
one limb, told how they begged the rebels to cut off another rather than
have the same gruesome punishment inflicted on their children.

On other occasions, human intestines were strung across roads, foetuses
removed from women’s wombs and cannibalism openly practised. And when the
rebels needed new recruits, they forced thousands of children under 15 to
fight for their cause. The child soldiers were press-ganged into the Small
Boys Unit and fed a diet of drugs to give them the courage to keep their
positions on the front line.

But, as so often happens with so many of the world’s minor conflicts, the
horrors of Sierra Leone soon passed from our consciousness, particularly
after Britain’s short military intervention in 2000 – commanded in
swashbuckling style by Brigadier David Richards, the future head of Britain’s
Armed Forces – succeeded in routing the rebel forces.

So the fact that, all these years later, the man responsible for these
horrors has been convicted of war crimes should be seen as a major
breakthrough in the global effort to bring war criminals to justice.

According to the verdict passed yesterday by the Special Court for Sierra
Leone, Charles Taylor, the former president of neighbouring Liberia, was
responsible for helping to “design” the strategy of vicious repression that
was implemented against innocent civilians in Sierra Leone.

Like Adolf Eichmann and the Holocaust, Taylor did not soil his own hands
with the disagreeable business of committing atrocities: he left to that to
the henchmen of Sierra Leone’s Revolutionary United Front, the main rebel
body. The only dirty business Taylor himself undertook was to receive
hundreds of millions of pounds worth of “blood diamonds” as payment for the
arms he helped to ship across the Liberian border to the Sierra Leonean

One of the more intriguing aspects of the trial – one that has lasted for
nearly five years – was the appearance of the British supermodel Naomi
Campbell, whose evidence was critical in proving the prosecution’s case.

Miss Campbell, who is not unaccustomed to receiving gifts from her many
admirers, was surprised to be given three “small, dirty-looking stones” as a
present by a member of Taylor’s staff while visiting Nelson Mandela in South
Africa in 1997. Miss Campbell, who memorably told the court, “I’m used to
seeing diamonds shiny and in a box”, gave them to a fund-raiser, not
realising their potential value. Prosecutors were eventually able to use the
gift as proof that Taylor traded illegally mined diamonds to arm the rebels
in a war that ultimately caused the deaths of an estimated 120,000 people,
and earned Taylor £950 million in blood diamonds.

Given his status as Liberia’s former president, Taylor probably believed he
was immune from prosecution for his involvement in this grisly trade. But a
significant change in the international approach to war crimes – made after
the Rwandan genocide in 1994 – together with Taylor’s misfortune of falling
out with his protectors in Nigeria, meant that he was eventually made to
face justice. He now contemplates the prospect of spending the rest of his
life locked up in a high-security British prison cell.

And hopefully Taylor’s conviction will set a precedent for the world’s other
leading tyrants, who deserve to be brought to justice. He is the first head
of state convicted by an international court since the post-Second World War
Nuremberg tribunals.

For too long the UN’s convention that nations do not meddle in each other’s
internal affairs has meant that tyrants are left to terrorise their
long-suffering people at will. During the 1990s, for example, the West was
impotent to act as Saddam Hussein launched savage attacks against large
sections of Iraq’s Shia and Kurdish communities. For much of the past
decade, Robert Mugabe has committed similar atrocities against opponents of
his dictatorial regime in Zimbabwe, but attempts to hold him to account have
foundered because many countries feel awkward about interfering.

More recently, the Syrian president Bashar al-Assad has been caught
red-handed, thanks to the release of a cache of his private emails,
orchestrating the brutal repression of anti-government protesters, which has
so far resulted in the deaths of more than 7,000 Syrian civilians.

No doubt the likes of Assad and Mugabe still believe, as Taylor once did,
that they will always be immune from prosecution because of their elevated
status. But times change, as Taylor found to his cost. After yesterday’s
conviction, it is not beyond the bounds of possibility that they, too, may
one day be forced to pay for their crimes.

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Minister says draft of new constitution not completed yet

By Tererai Karimakwenda
26 April 2012

The Minister for Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs, Eric Matinenga,
has said no complete draft of Zimbabwe’s new charter is available yet
because differences on two key issues still remained between ZANU PF and the
MDC formations.

Local reports had recently suggested that a draft was ready for the
principals to review, and they would try to resolve the outstanding issues
that the negotiators had failed to sort out.

But according to Minister Matinenga the Management Committee is due to meet
on Monday afternoon to go over the remaining issues blocking progress. When
they are “satisfied”, they will then present a draft to the three principals
in the coalition government.

“As I advised cabinet on Tuesday, we have an unfinished draft for the
principals, which covers all the issues agreed to,” Matinenga told SW Radio
Africa on Thursday, adding that only two issues remain unresolved, and they
are dual citizenship and the structure of the executive.

“The position of the MDC formations is that nothing should take away a
person’s right to Zimbabwean citizenship, regardless of what else they may
do with citizenship in another country. But ZANU PF insists this should not
be allowed,” Matinenga explained.

Regarding the structure of the executive, Matinenga said the parties do not
agree on the number of Vice Presidents Zimbabwe should have. ZANU PF is
insisting on two, which is the current system. They also want some
provincial governors to be appointed while the MDC formations insist they
should be elected.

Luke Zunga from the Global Zim Forum in South Africa explained that ZANU PF
opposes dual citizenship because it involves Zimbabweans in the diaspora,
who are likely to vote ZANU PF out of power.

The lack of information and conflicting statements from officials in the
coalition government have kept Zimbabweans guessing as to the status of the
country’s new constitution, which is a key issue that must be resolved
before any election can be held.

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Mnangagwa Camp Fights To Regain Lost Ground

Mutare, April 26, 2012 - Angry supporters of Defence Minister Emmerson
Mnangagwa’s faction were on Wednesday camped at the party offices protesting
results of key internal elections won by the camp last week but were
overturned by the party’s secretary for the commissariat Webster Shamu.

Close to 200 angry Zanu (PF) supporters denounced Shamu’s actions.

“Elections were held and there were winners and losers. Why is it that Shamu
is taking sides and sympathising with the losers?” asked a Zanu (PF)
supporter from Chimanimani.

“We respect him as the national political commissar, but we want him to be
straight in dealing with these elections.”

The Zanu (PF) provincial chairperson, Mike Madiro, was allegedly said to be
behind the demonstrations. Madiro denied the allegations.

The demonstrators threatened to turn violent if Shamu's decision was not

The demonstrations were being viewed as a counter to similar protests held
at the party offices last week by members opposed to the victory of the
Mnangagwa faction.

Shamu nullified the elections for district coordinating committees in
Mutare, Nyanga, Chipinge, Makoni and Buhera. Indications were that the
Mnangagwa camp was poised to seize control of the other remaining districts,
Zimunya-Marange, Mutasa and Chimanimani and complete their stranglehold of
Manicaland Province.

“These chefs are destroying the party,” said a senior Zanu (PF) official
from the province. “They are frustrating popular candidates. But even if
they have the elections every day I can bet you that those who won will
still emerge victorious because they are more popular.”

The sources said while some top Zanu (PF) officials in the province were
supporting the faction led by Vice President Joice Mujuru the entry of
Didymus Mutasa, national secretary for administration, into the fray, had
somewhat confused the already fluid situation in this politically volatile

An insider said Mutasa, regarded as the “Godfather” of Zanu (PF) politics in
Manicaland, was also eyeing the top post and was reportedly mobilising his
fellow comrades from Manicaland province in a bid to mount a strong
challenge for the presidency.

“Of course anyone has ambitions of becoming president and it is his
democratic right to do so, but in terms of the power dynamics in Zanu (PF)
so far Mutasa is out, considering that there are two vice presidents so
 far,” said Blessing Vava, a political commentator in Harare.

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Voter registration plagued by malpractice

By Alex Bell
26 April 2012

A new report on continuous voter registration in Zimbabwe has raised
warnings about the levels of malpractice discovered, raising even more doubt
that a credible election can be held any time soon.

The Election Resource Centre (ERC) has found what they called a “disturbing
pattern” in the voter registration process in Harare, after a survey at
registration offices there. The survey was prompted by increasing reports of
administration problems, ongoing partisan registration in favour of ZANU PF
and the closure of a number of registration offices countrywide.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Act provides for voter registration to be on a
continuous basis “so as to keep the voters roll up to date.” But the ERC
found that this was not being respected in Harare, and this pattern is
likely being repeated across the country.

The ERC’s Director Tawanda Chimhini told SW Radio Africa on Thursday that
the survey’s findings are of “huge concern,” particularly with talk of a
fresh election some time in the near future. He warned that until issues
relating to voter registration are completely sorted out, a credible
election was unlikely.

Chimhini explained that a number of registration offices have been closed,
while in other cases, officials have refused to register people, saying they
have not been ‘informed’. Administration issues, like inadequate materials
to conduct proper registrations, were also preventing the process from being
a transparent, credible one.

Chimhini added that one of the main concerns is the “partisanship” displayed
at some of the offices, saying the registration process “is happening in a
dodgy kind of manner that reflects the partisanship of the registration

“For example, preference is given to potential registrants who have letters
from housing schemes that are being fronted by known political activists
from ZANU PF,” Chimhini said.

He added: “We need an environment where desperate people who need housing
are not being bought by ZANU PF.”
The ERC has called on the country’s various election management bodies to
tackle these issues and ensure that voter registration is transparent,
freely available and free of partisan preference.

Chimhini said that it is critical for the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission
(ZEC) to take control of the registration process, explaining that the
registrar of voters was incapable of ensuring a credible voters roll before
the next election.

“ZEC needs to ensure that the environment is created where people can freely
register to vote without either being bought or intimidated. They also need
an environment where they can easily be registered,” Chimhini said.

He added: “As long as we do not see this, then we cannot have an election.”

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ZANU PF supporters come to blows in Nyanga

By Tichaona Sibanda
26 April 2012

A ZANU PF meeting to discuss the District Coordinating Committee (DCC)
elections disintegrated into an all out brawl on Thursday, as tensions
between rival factions came to a head in Nyanga.

Scores of people sustained minor injuries. Police in riot gear intervened
and managed to separate the warring factions. No one was arrested.

While skirmishes are common in ZANU PF’s messy politics, Thursday morning’s
incident at the Nyanga Country Club appeared to be particularly violent and
marks an escalation in the showdown between the political camps of Joice
Mujuru and Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Mujuru is the Vice-President while Mnangagwa is the Defence Minister. The
fight came a day after the former ruling party postponed a crucial politburo
meeting to look into the crisis that has flared in seven of the party’s ten
provinces following the controversial DCC elections.

A journalist in Mutare told SW Radio Africa that the scuffles erupted after
rival supporters converged on the country club for a scheduled meeting with
political commissar Webster Shamu.

One group supports Moses Gutu, who won the DCC elections and is linked to
Mnangagwa, while the other is behind Teddy Chipfumba, the loser in the
district chairmanship poll. Chipfumba is believed to be from the Mujuru

‘There has been a lot of tension in Manicaland following accusations that
the Mnangagwa camp has been imposing candidates, as well as intimidating and
rigging the elections. So the gathering in Nyanga brought together the
feuding parties and before Shamu arrived for the fact finding mission an
argument developed into a fist fight.

‘The reason was differences of opinion regarding the conduct of the DCC
elections. In the midst of the rowdy arguments, punches were suddenly
raining on people and it was at this juncture when things broke loose. The
party members went for each other free-for-all which lasted for close to 10
minutes,’ the journalist who asked not to be identified said.

Other terrified members took to their heels and scampered to safety as
senior party officials could only watch in disbelief. Order was eventually
restored when the police riot squad moved in to quell the violence, allowing
the meeting to go ahead when Shamu eventually arrived.

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Soldiers at spy centre break up workers demo

By Lance Guma
26 April 2012

Armed soldiers on Wednesday moved in to break up a peaceful demonstration by
about 30 construction workers who were fired by a Chinese company building
the controversial National Defence College, outside Harare.

According to a report by the NewsDay newspaper, the former workers gathered
at the construction site to protest against the ‘illegal termination’ of
their contracts by the Anhui Foreign Economic Construction Group (AFEC-G).
But soldiers guarding the complex intervened and chased the workers away.

Workers who spoke to the newspaper said their contracts were terminated on
Tuesday without notice and they had not been paid their wages and benefits
for the last month. Several said they were made to work long hours and
regularly went home around midnight. Those who complained were fired on the

The Chinese employers are also said to have been making dubious deductions
from the workers payslips. One worker said they were being paid US$1.27 per
hour but their pay slips later reflected that at least US$100 would have
been deducted from what was due. The company claimed these were NSSA and
pension contributions.

Last year parliament ratified a US$98 million loan from China to build the
defence college which was described by many observers as nothing more than a
giant spy centre. Several reports said the “facility will also monitor
diplomatic, domestic, commercial and military communications.”

Despite the MDC-T objecting to the deal and having a majority of MP’s in
parliament to block it, the party said its hands were tied as they were now
part of the government. The decision exposed skewed priorities in a
government struggling to raise money to finance key sectors like health and

Chinese companies are now a dominant player in the construction industry in
Zimbabwe. SW Radio Africa spoke to Muchapiwa Mazarura, the Secretary General
of the Zimbabwe Construction and Allied Trades Workers’ Union, and he
confirmed the growing problem of Chinese companies violating labour laws.

Mazarura complained that Chinese companies who are getting most of the
contracts in the country are failing to provide protective clothing such as
hard hats, overalls and hard boots. He told us the AFEC group building the
defence college are also involved in another project near the National
Sports Stadium in Harare.

Mazarura said workers at the site are working long hours, finishing and are
not being paid any overtime. This week he visited managers on the site and
they bluntly told him the company could not meet all the requirements of the
labour laws “because we are donating our investment in this country.”

Chinese companies like Anjin Investments, involved in controversial diamond
mining in Chiadzwa, have also been accused of paying their workers peanuts
and not providing them with protective clothing. Last year 600 workers went
on strike there demanding improved working conditions and a review of their

The strike ended after management agreed to a 25 percent wage hike.

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Hungry villagers urged to report corruption to JOMIC

By Tererai Karimakwenda
26 April 2012

Reports that officials from ZANU PF and the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) are
looting grain from a government scheme and only distributing it to their
supporters have intensified and the MDC-T is advising villagers to report
them to the Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee (JOMIC).

The coalition government established a grain loan scheme that was intended
to help villagers facing starvation in the rural areas, regardless of what
political party they support. But the MDC-T says supplies are being diverted
to ZANU PF supporters, with some ending up on sale on the black market.

The MDC-T provincial spokesman, Pishai Muchauraya, told SW Radio Africa that
villagers should report to their local JOMIC officials because they have
lost faith in the police, who respond to politically motivated cases in
favour of ZANU PF.

“We have lost confidence in them from the lowest man to (Police Chief)
Augustine Chihuri and up to (co-Home Affairs Minister) Kembo Mohadi,”
Muchauraya explained.

He added that the partisan distribution of food is politically motivated and
JOMIC was established to monitor political progress under the coalition
government, so they should deal with corrupt officials who divert food.

JOMIC has been criticized for doing little to stop political violence around
the country, and some observers have said reporting corruption to them would
make no difference. But Muchauraya explained that the reports would be a way
to document acts of corrupt officials and can be used as evidence in the

“We have also started compiling records and evidence of what is happening at
the distribution centers here in Manicaland. I think by the end of day
Friday we will have submitted the list to JOMIC at their provincial offices
in Manicaland,” Muchauraya said.

Looting of grain stocks has become critical in Manicaland where Muchauraya
said several ZANU PF officials connived with a GMB official and created two
“ghost villages” in Mutare Ward 29.

The party said former ZANU PF councillor Jealous Makaza and party supporters
Eric Batsirai Betera and Josphat Kusena were in charge of grain distribution
in the ward. The trio allegedly looted the maize with the help of an
unidentified GMB official.

“Villagers were this week shocked when names of non-existent people,
purported to be from villages Chikara B and Kusena B, were called to collect
their allocation,” the MDC-T statement said.

Partisan distribution of the government’s grain loan scheme has also been
reported by villagers in Matabeleland and Midlands provinces, according to
the Daily News newspaper.

The report said: “The GMB has been hit by serious corruption allegations of
late, with company officials being arrested or fired at some of its

The Mugabe regime has used food as a political weapon for many years,
especially during periods leading to elections. The MDC-T wants the mandate
of distributing grain to be given to councillors at the ward level, since
they represent the people at a local level.

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Zanu PF thugs pounce on traumatised victims

Written by Gift Phiri, Chief Writer
Thursday, 26 April 2012 14:59

HARARE - Zanu PF thugs are back in action as talk of an early election

On April 5 this year, they left their mark in the dusty village of Chirinda
area in Maramba-Pfungwe where they burnt down a kitchen hut belonging to
Florence Kavhayi, the MDC women’s assembly secretary for security and
defence in Mashonaland East province.

After destroying the property, they carried off any loot they could find.
Kavhayi, twice targeted by the thugs during the 2008 election violence,
described how they descended on her home around 12:45 midday on April 5.

“I have still not yet swept off the ash, and it pains me so much because it
was my only remaining shelter,” she told the Daily News.

She said she reported the suspects, Cleopas Kufuka, the Zanu PF district
coordinating committee (DCC) chairperson, Khumbula Kurarama, a village
neighbourhood watch committee member, David Dizha, the local village head,
Forbes Nhongo, the Zanu PF branch chairperson and Miriro Zisengwe, the Zanu
PF youth chairperson to police. Police at Mtawatawa opened a file under the
record RRB No. 074048.

She said the Zanu PF militia descended on her homestead in broad daylight
while her husband and eight-year-old daughter were sleeping. They were both
down with malaria.

She said the thugs were identified by a child who was playing outside when
they arrived.

“They said we should leave and go to Gokwe,” said the teary Kavhayi. “They
said Gokwe is where the MDC people are wanted not in Maramba-Pfungwe.”

Asked if she was going to capitulate to the intimidation, she retorted:
“Handibvi muno (I will not leave), they will have to kill me.”

Kavhayi said the suspects were summoned to the police station but have
contemptuously defied the directive.

A distraught Kavhayi said the pole and dagga hut was her only remaining
shelter after her entire homestead was burnt down by Zanu PF arsonists
during the run up to the sham June 27, 2008 presidential election.

She said the threats were intensifying as the country hurtles towards
another election.

The arson attack marks a return to the tactics used to terrorise Zimbabweans
in the bloodiest stages of the election-related violence surrounding the
June 2008 run-off presidential poll.

Such brutal attacks — involving arson in Zanu PF strongholds — have rarely
been seen in the past three years, when the violence became more episodic
and fractured.

Aid workers, diplomats and analysts say the return of such attacks is an
ominous sign that intimidation is entering a new and deadly phase — one in
which Zanu PF is planning a scorched-earth campaign against rivals.

The offensive is aimed at retaking ground gained by the MDC, which has been
gathering strength, Kavhiya said.

“Zvinorwadza (It is painful),” she said, adding the incident reminded her of
the 45 goats she lost in the 2008 vote and “tonnes” of ground nuts
confiscated by the militia.

The mother-of-six recalled how she was viciously assaulted together with her
husband and their 15-year-old son in the run-up to the blood-soaked 2008
run-off vote.

She said the latest attack has been carefully planned and aimed at evicting
them from the area. She said the local leadership has already repossessed a
farm from her first son, and this was just the latest episode in an
escalating crackdown on MDC structures.

MDC spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora said: “Cases of politically motivated
violence have been on the increase across the country with the police
failing to apprehend the known Zanu PF perpetrators, while detaining and
persecuting innocent MDC members despite calls by their leader to end

Reports of the arson attack come as Mugabe is preaching peace and saying
violence must be “buried in the past”.

It also comes as Zimbabwe is trying to improve relations with the European
Union bloc and last week, head of the European Union Southern Africa
Division, Claudia Wiedey-Nippold visited Harare to meet the permanent
secretary in the ministry of Foreign Affairs, Joey Bimha.

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Sata praises Mugabe over liberation war

Posted  Thursday, April 26  2012 at  19:08

Zambian President Michael Sata praised Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe as
an architect of the liberation struggle as he began a three day state visit
to the neighbouring country.

President Sata told journalists on arrival at the Harare International
Airport late on Wednesday that “it is good to be back home.”

He told a state banquet held in his honour by President Mugabe at State
House that Zimbabwe and Zambia shared common traditions and cultural values
dating back to the pre-independence era.

“It is for that reason Zambia fought tirelessly to ensure that our brothers
and sisters in Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) and indeed the rest of the
region, attained their independence,” President Sata said.

“Today we can stand here and say that their sacrifice was not in vain as
Zimbabwe, Zambia and all other countries in the region enjoy a vibrant
spirit of nationhood that is admirable on the continent.”

He repeatedly referred to President Mugabe as the Chief of Chimurenga (black
Zimbabwe’s uprising against colonial rule).

President Sata unlike his predecessor Zimbabwean born Mr Ruppiah Banda has
been a vocal supporter of the 88 year-old who has been in the past
criticised by regional leaders frustrated by his refusal to implement

“I am certain that this visit will afford our two countries yet another
opportunity to interact and further consolidate the excellent relations that
we enjoy,” President Sata said.

The Zambian leader will on Friday officially open the 53rd edition of the
Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) on Friday in the second city of

The two countries on Wednesday signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to
jointly construct a $4 billion 1 650 megawatt hydro-power station at the
Batoka Gorge.

They also signed an MoU on youth and tourism. Zimbabwe and Zambia will
co-host the 20th Assembly of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation
next year.

President Mugabe said the two countries were like siamese twins as they were
once joined by a colonial federation.

He said Zimbabwe would not have gained independence without her northern
neighbour’s support.

“You suffered reprisals by the Smith regime (colonial leader Ian Smith’s
government) because of the support you gave us,” President Mugabe said.

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Pensioners languish in poverty

    Posted on Thursday 26 April 2012 - 11:57
    Problem Masau, AfricaNews reporter in Harare, Zimbabwe

    A visit to some local savings banks where pensioners come to collect
their monthly pension funds showed that many pensioners are languishing in
poverty in Zimbabwe. Their lifetime savings were eroded by inflation. Most
pensioners had sad stories to tell ranging from how they served their
employers diligently yet they do not have anything to show for it.

    Norman Chihota (71) said he usually make trip to Harare to collect his
$23 pension fund from Seke Communal lands each month. Chihota, a lively
senior citizen suddenly becomes pale when he narrates his ordeal.

    “I worked for a construction company for more than thirty five years, I
built some of the magnificent structures in the country, I know one wealthy
man who is using the building that we constructed and yet I have nothing to
show for it. The monthly funds that I am getting are an insult to me, I
served the nation with pride but here I am with nothing to brag about.

    “A lifetime spend remitting tax to cater for my old age had amounted to
nothing, the only thing that remind me of being a professional builder are
the scars and the back- ache that I am suffering from, it’s so painful,”
said Chihota.

    Some of the pensioners who were lucky enough to own houses in urban
areas said they have resorted to put tenants in their urban houses so that
they will cater for their expenses.

    “My Kuwadzana house is my major form of income since the funds I am
getting are just a mockery to humanity, what on earth I can do with money
that cannot last a month just buying bread,” said one disgruntled pensioner.

    It is government’s policy that people above the age of 60 should have
free access to government’s health care facilities but the senior citizens
said there are no drugs in the hospitals making their life difficult.

    “After working for many years, our bodies start to complain and with the
money that we are getting, we cannot even afford to visit private clinics,
we are only waiting to die,” said Chihota.

    The decade long economic meltdown affected the pensioners since their
life savings were swallowed by inflation and the Zimbabwean dollar faced its
natural death, many pensioners were left with nothing, with some going for
months or years without getting any funds.

    When the funds were re- introduced, the amount was so low that some are
reportedly getting as little as $19 per month.

    Economic analyst Floyd Kadete said the government and the former
employers should spare a thought for pensioners since their conditions are

    “The nation and the relevant authorities should at least be sincere in
addressing the plight of pensioners, they paid tax and as such they should
access reasonable pension funds. They did their part in oiling the country’s
economy; they should be rewarded for that,” said Kadete.

    Recent media reports showed that many pensioners expressed
disgruntlement over the loan facility NSSA availed to two local banks. The
pensioners said the conditions to be applicable for the loans was
discriminatory since it only targeted people between the age 18 and 54 years

    Most pensioners are on the twilight of their lives.

    Some pensioners said they have been given a lifeline by Zimbabwe Pension
Support Fund (ZPSF), a non profit organization which is delivering basic
food parcels to 1650 pensioners.

    ZPSF said that they have been driven by the plight of the pensioners in
the country.

    “Most have somewhere to live but even so it is difficult to survive on
$19 a month, a typical pension. Some did not get anything at all. So the
ZPSF team source, collate then every 6 to 8 weeks deliver two truckloads
carrying about 20 tons of non perishable from Malelane in South Africa to 28
old age homes, private homes and feeding Kitchens, “ said ZPSF official.

    Analysts said the initiative by ZPSF is a noble idea but they can’t
reach out to all pensioners who are languishing in poverty.

    “ZPSF is just a small fish in a large pool, they cannot reach out to
every pensioner, and the bill which was introduced in parliament for old
people should be quickly enacted into law. Many companies and pension fund
organizations are abusing the funds for the elderly, buying cars for
themselves yet the pensioners are struggling,” said one analyst.

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The MDC Today - Issue 344

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Juliet Mafarachisi, the MDC Mutare North Ward 12 deputy organising secretary and Bumbira Gwinyai, the ward youth chairperson were on Monday abducted and assaulted by Zanu PF youths at Zarawa school during the distribution of grain under the government grain loan scheme.

The two were abducted from the venue by Zanu PF youths led by Tendai Kuhudzai.  Among the Zanu PF thugs were; Darlington Chadambuka, Farai Manzinde, Shepherd Saujeni, Penta Kuhudzai, Pride Chadambuka and Onias Masaka. After assaulting the two, the Zanu PF youths then stole Mafarachi’s 50kg maize

The incident took place in full view of the police and a Grain Marketing Board official.

Only one of the assailants, Chadambuka was arrested and taken to Bazil Bridge Police Station but was released on the same day following the intervention of
Zanu PF Manicaland provincial chairperson, Mike Madiro.

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

MDC Information & Publicity Department

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Accused Israeli diamond ‘smuggler’ acquitted

By Alex Bell
26 April 2012

An Israeli man accused of trying to smuggle diamonds out of Zimbabwe has
been acquitted, more than a month after his arrest in Harare.

Shmuel Kainan Klein was arrested at the Harare International Airport last
month, shortly before boarding a flight to Johannesburg. Security officials
at the airport allegedly found more than 1,400 diamonds, weighing 1.7
kilograms, in his hand luggage.

The diamonds are said to be worth an estimated US$2 million.

Klein was charged with ‘unlawful possession’ of the stones as well as
immigration offences, before being granted bail.

Klein denied he was guilty of the charges against him, insisting he was
legally transporting the diamonds because he was acting as an agent for an
Israeli diamond company. He went on to produce a trading licence and an
affidavit from the owner of the diamonds, which gave him authority to be in
possession of the stones.

Magistrate Clever Tsikwa has now acquitted him of all the charges saying
that the evidence presented by the state had failed to prove that Klein was
‘illegally’ possessing diamonds. The magistrate also indicated that the
state had failed to prove its case ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ and it would
be unfair to put Klein on trial.

“(The) Accused’s defence remained intact and unshaken. To place the accused
to his defence is to ask the accused to prosecute himself and fill the
yawning gap left by the state,” Tsikwa said in his ruling.

Earlier this month, Klein had stated his intentions to sue the local police
for ‘theft’, accusing them of stealing ‘his’ stones. His lawyer Jonathan
Samkange had told the court that his client will sue the police for stealing
some of the diamonds confiscated last month.

It is not yet clear if this case will be pursued.

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No end in sight for Bulawayo Council workers strike

By Tichaona Sibanda
26 April 2012

The Bulawayo City Council (BCC) and its workers have failed to end a
paralyzing strike over non-payment of salaries.

Council employees have not been paid their salaries since January, with the
City fathers claiming the local authority is broke and saddled with a huge
debt of over US$3 million. The BCC owes its employees over $700,000.

The council has pleaded for a return to work but the workers have vowed to
continue the industrial action until the council ‘sees sense.’ The workers
downed tools on Monday causing colossal disruption to service delivery in
the city.

There has been no refuse collection since the weekend, burst water pipes are
not being attended to, grave diggers, and nurses and ambulance staff are
part of thousands of workers involved in the industrial action.

Our Bulawayo correspondent Lionel Saungweme told us the workers again failed
to reach an agreement with management on Wednesday.

‘The workers representatives have pledged that they are going to seek three
things from negotiations with management. They want a payment plan for all
outstanding monies, with the March and April salaries paid before the end of
this month.

‘The workers are seeking guarantees that there would be no victimisation of
staff, if and when management complies with their demands. On the other
hand, management is arguing that council is broke as it is owed close to
$1.5 million in ratepayers arrears,’ Saungweme said.

The strike has also coincided with the presence of local and international
exhibitors to the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) that kicked off
in the city on Tuesday. The 53rd annual exhibition is to be officially
opened by Zambian President Michael Sata on Friday.

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MDC is fully committed to devolution

Thursday, 26 April 2012

By Solo Musaigwa

One of the MDC’s principal objects is to change the face of governance in
Zimbabwe based on, among others, the following fundamental principles:

• checks and balances on the exercise of power;

• active participation of the people in governance;

• transparency and

• accountability of government to the people.

A critical aspect of the governance model that the MDC believes in for
purposes of ensuring that these foundational principles are given full
effect is the concept of devolution of power and functions.

The MDC believes that this concept and underlying principles of devolution
must be recognised in the constitution, that being the founding document
that governs the allocation of power within the nation-state.

From the outset, the MDC has, therefore, been the foremost advocate for the
constitutional recognition of devolution. Whereas Zanu PF has half-heartedly
approached the principle of devolution acknowledging devolution of functions
only, the MDC has been forthright and stood firm in its advocacy for the
devolution of both powers and functions.

The MDC believes that only a party and government that believe in the
ideology and principles of devolution can be trusted to effectively and
faithfully support and implement devolution.

Devolution of power and functions has always been a critical part of the MDC’s
governance model and the party is committed to ensuring that devolution is a
key part of the constitutional framework for the country.

However, it is important to note that having the principles of devolution
set out in the constitution and the implementation of devolution are two
different things. A country might have beautiful constitutional clauses that
describe the devolution of power and functions but without the requisite
human agents that believe in and are committed to implementing devolution,
the constitution-making exercise will remain an exercise in futility.

It is clear that of the political parties with a national reach only the MDC
has the combination of the will, ideological foundation and human agents to
make devolution a reality. Zanu PF has shown itself to be seriously
uncomfortable with the concept of devolution.

Some of its agents writing on its behalf have stridently opposed the
constitutional recognition of devolution. They are more interested in
decentralisation, which is a different model of governance and the last 32
years of poor governance and underdevelopment in the regions has
demonstrated that decentralisation is not the appropriate governance model.

On the other end of the scale there are those who seem to be advocating for
federalism, which is also not the same as devolution. However, failure to
give effect to devolution and failure to implement it in a manner that
delivers results will only give rise to increased clamour for federalism and
possibly secession, which the MDC does not believe in.

The MDC is keen to ensure that the three governance models are distinguished
so that devolution is properly understood, supported and implemented without
causing discomfort to anyone. Some of the opposition to devolution is based
not on substance but on sheer ignorance and failure to distinguish it from
federalism or secession.

Whilst devolution, decentralisation and federalism all involve the idea of
central government giving up some of its powers and functions to other
entities within the state, they are nevertheless different.

Decentralisation, which is the model that has been used in Zimbabwe until
now, entails the retention of power and functions in central government.
Central government makes key appointments, such as the Governor of the
province and the Minister for local government retains legal and effective
control over the provinces and local authorities.

There are no checks and balances on the President and Minister and powers
have been routinely abused by appointing political cronies and
unceremoniously removing elected local councils – particularly those local
councils led by opposition parties.

Devolution entails the distribution of powers and functions, usually
exercised at the national level, to entities at the provincial or local
level. Devolution must be clearly distinguished from federalism wherein
supreme power is divided between national government and state or provincial

Federalism would entail that Zimbabwe is composed of different and distinct
states, which is not the same as devolution where the unitary state is
retained with certain powers and functions being devolved to the provinces.

Whilst the provinces are part of the unitary state, the MDC nevertheless
believes that they must be given independence to handle provincial and local
affairs. In terms of structure, the provinces will have their own elected
assemblies (called Provincial Assemblies) and a governor. Critically, to
distinguish it from decentralisation, the governor must not be appointed by
the President but must be elected directly or indirectly by the people in
the provinces.

The governor will have the power subject to approval by the provincial
assembly to appoint an executive that will carry out the devolved functions.
The provincial assembly itself will have the power to make legislation in
certain areas that are not reserved for the national legislature.

The MDC recognises the importance of the principle of mutual cooperation
which eliminates antagonism between the national Parliament and provincial
assemblies. The party appreciates that through devolution, the national
Parliament is legally and effectively exercising its authority through, and
not losing, authority to devolved provincial assemblies.

The latter are not distinct and separate entities competing with the
national Parliament but are agents through which the national Parliament has
agreed to exercise its powers.

However, the higher authority of the national Parliament must be qualified
by the principle, which may be expressed through law or by convention, which
the national Parliament would not normally legislate on devolved matters
without the consent of the devolved legislature. Therefore, the MDC will
seek to engender cooperation rather than competition between the national
Parliament or government and the provincial assembly or executive.

The MDC will endeavour to cover everything through legal instruments but it
also recognises that where appropriate, particularly to regulate the
relationship between the national and provincial government, this can be
regulated by other arrangements such as memoranda of understanding (MOUs).

As has already been highlighted, devolution on paper is of no use unless it
is effectively implemented. Such implementation cannot be properly effected
without resources.

Therefore, the MDC strongly believes that the principle of devolution must
be supported by the fair, efficient and equitable allocation of resources.
One of the principal drivers of devolution is the inequitable allocation of
resources and development from the centre. Some provinces have suffered from
underdevelopment and it is important to ensure that resources are
efficiently and equitably allocated to promote development.

The MDC is pushing for constitution bodies, such as the fiscal commission
and the equalisation fund to ensure that regions receive equitable funding
for development projects. The MDC is very clear that devolution can only
make sense with adequate funding.

In conclusion, devolution is a principle whose time is long overdue.
Development has been uneven across Zimbabwe. Power has been too centralised
and there have been no effective checks and balances. The people have been
remotely involved in governance, if at all. Devolution will facilitate
people participation in governance at a local level.

But as we have said, devolution can only be implemented by a party that
believes in that ideology. It can only be successful if it has human agents
who are committed to giving effect to its principles.

Finally, it can only work out if the provinces are given adequate resources
for implementation of their development projects. The MDC stands for all of
the above and is committed to ensuring that devolution becomes a reality.

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

MDC Information & Publicity Department

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Crisis in local governance grips Harare

By Simbarashe Majamanda, HRT Membership Officer

25 April 2012: As a residents’ movement that seeks to address problems that
residents face in interacting with service providers and elected
councillors, we have always maintained that the crisis of governance by
elected councillors and local authorities can only be addressed if residents
take an active interest in issues affecting their localities as a
If residents resist the oppression and incompetence that characterises our
leadership at Town House and offices which collect revenue for unconsumed or
poor services surely there will be institutional change. The culture in our
society has been that of ignorance, disinterest and inaction on issues
affecting us. Due to fear of victimization on political lines, residents’
attitude is also understandable. Imagine instead of confronting your
councillor, council or ZESA on a high bill that you do not understand, you
prefer being silent and struggle with the same account.
Recent developments in Mabvuku are shocking. Residents in this community
have always been on the record for raising concerns with council on the
billing system, unaffordability of council rates and lack of community
service while council was billing them. Council also acknowledges that this
community was not getting adequate service as evidenced by lack of refuse
collection, water supplies and sewerage reticulation in this community for a
solid five years that is from the period 2005 to 2010. Now services have
started stickling in with the inception of the multicurrency system in
February 2009 which has aided council to make some improvements in the water
and sewerage reticulation system.
The greater picture is that residents of Harare are in debt. The debts range
from $500.00 to just below $2000.00. The policy of HRT is that residents
should only pay for services rendered. The flawed billing system which is
characterised by high unmanageable rates and interests on overdue accounts
to the poorest segments of our society and inaccessibility of the United
States dollar following the confusing 2009 transition to the ordinary
members of our society, largely resulted in these debts. Of course, there
are cases of residents who have deliberately failed to pay their rates but
these are limited and council should realize that the blame is with them.
By nature human beings have a conscience and every citizen appreciates that
he or she has an obligation to pay for a service rendered. Failing to meet
rates payment is not by choice and not a crime. It is the wish of every
citizen to have his or her accounts up to date. It is astonishing that after
engaging the City Treasury Department based at Rowan Martin Offices on the
issue of debts that residents are drowned in, there are reports that
officials from the messengers’ court have started attaching properties from
households in Mabvuku.
The Town Clerk of Harare City council Mr Tendai Mahachi, Mayor of Harare,
Muchadeyi Masunda and the City Treasurer Mr Misheck Mubvumbi have stated
that it is false that council is attaching residents’ properties over
outstanding debts. From information received by the HRT, the Mayor of Harare
and the Deputy Minister of Local Government, Mr Sisel Zvidzai visited some
households which were reported to have lost properties to some debt
collectors last week. The findings of this team have not been clearly
Information received by the HRT on Tuesday 20 February 2012 by the Deputy
Mayor of Harare, Councillor Emmanuel Chiroto Ward 42 Hatcliffe also revealed
that the City Treasury Department had attached residents’ properties in some
suburbs. He said that officials from the credit control section at Cleveland
House had sent messengers’ of court to attach properties over outstanding
debts without the approval of the City Treasurer. He said that an order had
been given that the properties are returned but there has been no compliance
to this effect.
The HRT also visited three households on Thursday 26 February following
reports that residents had their properties attached. HRT officers realized
that the community was gripped with so much fear. After clarifying the
purpose of the visit, residents found confidence in HRT officers, gathered
around them and indicated that debt collectors are patrolling the community
daily telling residents with outstanding debts that they will lose their
properties soon. A visit by at Mabvuku District Office on Wednesday 22
February 2012 where interviews with officers were held revealed that
residents had their properties attached due to default judgements in court.
This is in conflict with what the City Treasury management and council
management officials had initially said.
On 17 February 2012, the HRT team discovered the following at the following
At Number 43 Mazari Street Mabvuku, residents had an outstanding debt of
$1606.63. They lost a four piece black lounge suit and an upright Defy
refrigerator, at number 16 Kurudzi there is a debt of $724.00 they lost four
kitchen chairs, one table, one Phillips television set, a DVD, three piece
kitchen unit and a fridge Defy upright and at another house at which the
resident preferred to be anonymous, they have a debt of $1001.00 they lost
an upright fridge, a Philips television set, DVD, radio and a microwave,
What is clear is that there is hide and seek on this subject. This cannot be
tolerated and must stop. Let us examine the background information to this
subject, in November 2011, the Mayor of Harare appeared in the print and
electronic media stating that council would soon start attaching properties
in a bid to recover outstanding debts which is what is reported to be
happening now.
Concurrently, there is also an organization named Welfare Trust going around
in the communities claiming that if residents pay $20.00 to them outside the
$1.00 as membership fees at the District Offices and other council premises,
the organization will be able to negotiate slashing of their debts. As
argued earlier, residents have been overwhelmed by the high rates and debts
and with the recent developments of some defaulting rate payers losing their
properties, there is a temptation to fall prey to such thuggish behaviour.
Residents of Harare are urged to desist from confiding and becoming part of
such arrangements and instead resist attachment of properties by council.
The Minister of Local Government Rural and Urban Development Crde Ignatius
Chombo has also remained silent on this issue and yet he claims to be head
of local authorities in Zimbabwe. We need an urgent response from his office
as well. If council is not attaching properties then criminals are robbing
residents in the communities. It then becomes strategic to deploy municipal
police officers in the identified communities to deal with this situation.
What is also surprising and may serve as testimony to that fact that council
is attaching residents’ properties is that debt collectors are visiting
specifically households which have council debts. So if they are not send by
council, how could they be so accurate?.
The relationship between council and rate payers is sour, is becoming worse
thus there is need to restore it for the sake of service delivery. The chief
reasons for such bitterness between the two are poor service delivery in the
communities over a long period, the flawed billing system which has not been
corrected over the years and poor policy formulation when it comes to the
budget making process year in and out in which meaningful community
participation is always undermined.
The City of Harare Public Relations Department is also silent on this issue.
The Public Relations Officer, Mr Lesley Gwindi has acknowledged on several
occasions that the City billing system has many problems and hence needs to
be revised. After the HRT had mobilized residents with billing problems to
Rowan Martin as a sign of protest, Mr Lesley Gwindi in December 2011, urged
residents to visit council offices seeking payment plans. In a full council
meeting of November 2011, it was resolved that residents with outstanding
debts can be accommodated through payment plans with the City Treasury. The
issue of the billing system has always been on the cards for some time with
reports that in 2011 council invited international officials to analyse the
system but this information was never made public. We need the findings
published in public interest.
In an engagement meeting with representatives of the City Treasury and
council, Mr Makwembere from the City Treasury encouraged that residents who
had their property attached over unpaid bills should visit his office so as
to agree on a manageable payment plans as according to each individual’s
financial status. He argued that most of the residents who had their
property confiscated are living lavish lives as indicated by their
properties they have in their homes. The properties as he said cannot be
owned by residents who do not have the capacity to pay rates as they claim.
Residents who are well up and who can afford to pay monthly bills but are
just not willing to pay service they receive from council, he said.
Council has to come out clean on allegations of attachment of property over
outstanding and unjustified bills. As an organization we will remain guided
by principle of social justice and we are determined to see a free and
prosperous citizenry and an environment where individuals, groups and
communities enjoy their fundamental rights. The HRT will not hesitate to
condemn injustice and incompetence by public officials. Transparency and
Accountability should be the core of any conduct of any employee of local or
central government who holds a particular office.
To the HRT, a bitter relationship between the residents and council will
inhibit the city from moving forward. Restoration of the relationship
between council and the rate payers is critical for service delivery and
must start now. The million dollar question may be how? Council could write
off all the outstanding debts then involve the greater public in determining
the cost of services such as water, refuse collection and sewerage
reticulation in a legitimate budget making process, revise the billing
system by computerising the district offices where the majority finds it
easy to pay their rates and network them to Rowan Martin offices.
Having done all this, council can then open its revenue offices to the
greater public, issues of non-payment and limited revenue generation will
become a thing of the past. Service delivery will be inevitably revamped and
there will be citizen satisfaction.

Mobile: 0772 249 039

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Zimbabwe To Send Small Olympics Team

Harare, April 26, 2012 - Zimbabwe is most likely to send 12 athletes only to
the 2012 London Olympic Games as most of the athletes in the country do not
meet the Olympic qualifying standards.

This was revealed by the Chief Executive Officer of the Zimbabwe Olympic
Committee (ZOC), Anna Mguni, who said only those with potential, would go to
the international games.

So far, ZOC had picked five athletes including swimmer Kirsty Coventry who
won seven medals at the past two Olympic Games in Athens in 2004 and in
Beijing in 2008.

The others include long jumper Ngoni Makusha who missed out of a medal by
just a centimetre at the last Olympic Games. Rowers Michelle Thorncroft and
Jennier MacKenzie as well as marathon runner Cuthbert Nyasango, had also
qualified for the London Games.

Mguni said ZOC had given the remaining athletes up to the end of May to
qualify for the games or risk not being selected.

Sprinters Gabriel Mvumvure and Brian Dzingayi as well as female middle
distance runner Sharon Tawengwa and a few others were told to improve their
times if they were to make it into the Olympic team.

In addition, ZOC was waiting to finalise its team once it knows the fate of
the associations that had applied for wildcard entry to the games. Tennis
Zimbabwe had applied for Takanyi Garan’anga to be accorded a wildcard entry
by the International Tennis Federation.

Top triathlete Chris Felgate was reported to have left for China on Tuesday
to participate in a number of international competitions to garner enough
points to enable him to qualify for the Olympics.

Zimbabwe boasts of eight medals at past Olympic Games, seven of them by
Coventry while the other, gold, was won by the women’s hockey team at the
1980 Games in Moscow.

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Zanu PF elites in land dogfight

Written by Everson Mushava, Staff Writer
Thursday, 26 April 2012 12:20

HARARE - None of his contemporaries took the import of a statement by the
late Edison Zvobgo seriously when he warned: “Unless care is taken,
revolutions may eat their children. But when they begin to eat their
fathers, then fate has doomed their nation’s dreams.”

A land re-distribution programme that once united President Robert Mugabe’s
faithful supporters has turned into a dog-eat-dog fight.

War veterans and a rag-tag group of party members who led the invasion of
thousands of white-owned farmland more than a decade ago under the pretext
of correcting colonial imbalances are wilting under the rot of fresh
takeovers by more powerful politicians and government officials.

The new dispossessions, victims say, are fraught with corruption and human
rights abuses perpetrated from the top, particularly by ministers and
well-heeled individuals who regard pioneering settlers as criminals.

Once regarded as the forerunners of the often violent takeovers of
white-owned farms, the independence war participants were allowed to parcel
out to each other the rich farmlands they had taken over and settled on.

But they seem to have clapped their hands too early as the honeymoon is
gradually coming to an end.

As the Daily News shows today, plum properties have always been for the
political elites and the wealthy.

With only a few white-owned farms to grab remaining, powerful politicians
and senior government officials as well as the wealthy are turning onto
their kith and kin, leaving pioneering beneficiaries fighting evictions by
top chefs.

The black-on-black land war has become so vicious that violence and looting
is the order of the day, as was the case when former
journalist-turned-businessman Edwin Moyo was pushed out of Kondozi
horticultural farm by five Zanu PF heavy weights.

Didymus Mutasa, Joseph Made, Christopher Mushowe, Munacho Mutezo and Mike
Nyambuya ran tongues over their lips for the thriving horticultural property
joining the looting spree and throwing more than 5 000 workers out of work.

Acquisitive instinct and open greed among the ruling elite prompted Zvobgo
to bemoan that as government, Zanu PF had “turned a noble agrarian
revolution into a racist enterprise.”

Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) statistics show that by 2010, President
Robert Mugabe and his top allies controlled close to 40 percent of the 14
million hectares of land seized from about 4 500 white farmers since 2000.

With only 250 white farmers remaining, according to CFU, the focus has
turned on the less powerful blacks.

Critics of the “land redistribution programme say it has been an act of
transferring land to high-profile people and not the landless — a political
programme meant to institutionalise looting.

Government used to claim that it has resettled over 250 000 families to date
but on Independence Day, Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo revealed
that a mere 147 000 families were resettled on A1 farms while only 16 000
got land countrywide under the A2 farming scheme.

A1 farms are less than 15 hectares while A2 farms are anything more than

The eviction of groups of independence war fighters and other participants
to make way for either the rich or the politically-connected exposes the rot
that has beset “offer letters” used to confirm allocation of land to

Some farms are “officially” offered to multiple owners, resulting in
wrangles some of which have spilled into the courts when politicians have
resorted to brawn and political muscle than reason to eject occupiers.

For instance the First Lady Grace Mugabe pushed out High Court judge Ben
Hlatshwayo from Gwina Farm in Banket, using crude revanchism.

Hlatshwayo had seized the farm from an old white couple.

But, like the white farmer he had dispossessed, he was evicted in similar
fashion as are a number of other beneficiaries.

Independence war fighters with the help of pro-Zanu PF poor peasants were
used by the big chefs to violently invade white-owned farms on the pretext
that they were the beneficiaries.

Their lack of access to higher offices compounds their problems.

This black-on-black land war comes just as many of the war veterans and the
poor peasants were starting to enjoy a modicum of success as evidenced by
the increase in the number of small-scale tobacco farmers and the boom in
tobacco production over the past years.

Despite the government’s claim that the land reform was a success, the Daily
News can expose that it was indeed a partisan and chaotic programme laced
with political expediency.

A land wrangle at Selby farm in Mashonaland Central Province demonstrates
how the weak are being plucked out of farms. It also points to potential
abuse of offer letters now often issued with reckless abandon.
Ten resettled farmers with A1 offer letters issued by Mazowe District
Council have been chased away from their plots to make way for a single
owner Elasto Mugwadi.

Mugwadi sits in the Human Rights Commission established in 2010 to
investigate human rights abuses in Zimbabwe. He is also a former chief
immigrations officer.

He is brandishing a 2006 offer letter for the farm signed by the then lands
minister Didymus Mutasa.

Mugwadi’s offer letter dated December 20, 2006 shows that he owns Shamwari
of Kinvara Farm, an A2 farm in Mugabe’s home district of Zvimba in
Mashonaland West.

The same offer letter gives him occupancy to part of Selby Farm, Mazowe
District in Mashonaland Central is an A1 farm.

A lands officer who asked for anonymity because he is not authorised to
speak to the media said A2 farms were administered by the Lands ministry
while A1 farms fall under district administrators, making Mugwadi’s offer
letter that straddles across boundaries and farm designations suspicious.

An investigation conducted at the Surveyor General (SG)’s office by the
Daily News and a study of maps possessed by this paper show that Selby Farm
indeed falls under Mazowe District in cadastral survey terms.

“This letter serves to confirm that in cadastral survey terms, the above
farms fall under (Salisbury) Harare District.

“Administratively, it falls within the boundaries of Mashonaland Central
Province (Mazoe District)” read  part of the letter from the SG dated
November 2, 2010, concerning Selby Farm.

“It is not possible for one to get a farm that cuts across provinces,” said
an officer in the ministry of Lands.

*Read Part 2 of the special report in tomorrow’s issue.

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Land power struggle through white eyes

It is interesting to note that the surrender of Rhodesia and the end of
Apartheid in South Africa closed down the last bastions of white supremacy
in Africa.
by Mike Rook

In the newly independent Zimbabwe it is a matter of fact that the large
scale commercial farmers under the banner and leadership of the newly formed
Commercial Farmers’ Union continued to represent white power.

The Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries and the Zimbabwe National chamber
of Commerce never posed such a threat.

Pilossof’s focus on the white farming community and its desperate efforts to
adjust to the new order without loss of privileges provides a riveting read,
an invaluable legacy and a fascinating and pertinent historical record.

In a nutshell The Unbearable Whiteness of Being: Farmers’ Voices from
Zimbabwe vividly documents the ensuing post-independence power struggle
between two powerful and obdurate protagonists.

In the red corner is the power hungry ruling Zanu (PF) party, and in the
blue corner the wealthy white farmers owning “70%”of the best arable land
and producing most of the food. As the saying goes, when two elephants
fight, the grass that suffers.

The resulting rumble in the jungle created economic chaos and confusion: and
Zimbabwe reversed with a dash of speed, losing its ability to feed itself as
well as its currency and credibility.

“The position and security of white farmers was totally undermined by the
land occupations.” They no longer owned the land (and all that was on it)
and this fundamentally undermined their paternalistic relationship with
their labour.

Many blamed labour for its part in the deteriorating situation, unable to
see that the farm workers had no way to resist the wave of violence
unleashed by Zanu (PF) and its supporters. Some white farmers even blamed
the farm labourers for the situation by voting for Mugabe as far back as

“Within the white farming community, the paternalistic attitudes that were
so prevalent during the colonial era, remained intact at the turn of, and
beyond, the new millennium.”

“There was an overwhelming failure to redefine labour relations in the
post-colonial setting. As the quote used for the subheading above attests,
Farmer 32 viewed the labour on his farm as ‘his’; his blacks, his workers.”
About the author

Rory Pilossof is a Post-Doctoral Fellow at the University of Pretoria, South
Africa. His research interests include cultural and social history,
colonial/pos t-colonial transitions, land and current politics in Zimbabwe.


Title: The Unbearable Whiteness of Being: Farmers’ Voices from Zimbabwe

Author: Rory Pilossof

Publisher: University of Cape Town Press

Pages: 266, paperback

Buy it:

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Of compromised governments and constitutions

By Blessing Vava
Principals in the shacky coalition government
Zimbabwe’s  political crisis has been a hot subject in the region and beyond. In finding a solution to the unending  crisis, it  resulted in a compromised negotiated ‘Global Political Agreement’ of September 2008, that formed the inclusive government. Of great worry however was the fact that we ended up having a compromise document, a compromised government and all the processes that followed were compromises. All the parties had their own interpretation of the Agreement and up until now it is yet to be fulfilled.   Always remember that Zimbabweans spoke on the 29th of March  2008, and the clear message from that electoral result was that ZANU PF was no longer the majority party in Zimbabwe’s political arena. As a result the election that Mr Mugabe wanted to conduct in June 2008 was illegal and should be dismissed with contempt. It is foolhardy for any normal person  to claim victory in such a charade that did not have any semblance of legitimacy. Simply putting it, the June 27 ‘thing’ was not an election but a drama, meant to legitimise and confuse the world that indeed Robert Mugabe was the people’s choice.  What is surprising is that despite losing the only credible election in March, Mugabe is still wielding a lot of power ahead of his rival Tsvangirai who was undoubtedly the people’s favourite.   
With the people NCA Chairperson Prof Lovemore Madhuku
addressing villagers in Gokwe South

The greatest political suicide committed was allowing the three parties to negotiate on behalf of all Zimbabweans thereby forming an unelected government that had no legitimacy from the people. The negotiations even excluded people like Simba Makoni, who had polled 8% in the March elections and various other sections of society including the civic society. Shockingly, people like Mutambara, Ncube, and other electoral rejects at constituency level ended up occupying high positions in the governments and one wonders if the people’s wishes will ever be respected.   One of the many lessons we learnt when this illegal government was formulated is that politicians are selfish and their interest is power, luxuries at the expense of the people .  This government is illegal and it has no mandate from the people. It was only supposed to play a transitional role to pave way for a democratically elected regime. We are tired of compromises. But what worries me is the quietness of Zimbabweans when such scandals continue to hog our political environment. Compromised  governments which are not elected through democratic processes should be removed and never be allowed to continue operating especially when they lack direction, and take people for granted.
This takes me  to the question of the constitutional reform exercise being spearheaded by COPAC. COPAC has compromised the interests of Zimbabweans for political convenience and for their thirst of donor funds. Since inception  everything they touched turned to rust. Their first stakeholders meeting at Rainbow Towers was a big disaster which marked the beginning of a chaotic process that was nevertheless heavily funded. Surprisingly up until today COPAC is yet to come up with a consolidated draft constitution, three years after its inception, a draft that was supposed to be produced in 18 months.  And those who continue funding such dubious  processes need to be questioned since the reality on the ground   proved beyond any reasonable doubt that COPAC has failed to produce a constitution.  What are their motives to keep funding such a bogus, illegal and undemocratic process that undermines the aspirations of the people of Zimbabwe and our national interests? The nation asks? COPAC is a threat to democracy and the sooner they are stopped the better.  Zimbabweans should not continue watching without  demanding  accountability from bodies like COPAC. Why did they waste our precious time gathering people in community halls at growth points under the guise of collecting our views to be included in the new charter whilst they knew they were not going to include them? I have always argued that the framework as articulated in Article 6 will never produce a good constitution for the country.  COPAC never wanted the views of Zimbabweans full stop, but rather they wasted our time and fundamentally they only wanted to enjoy donor funds poured in reckless abundance.
Tactfully smuggled the words 'people driven' to COPAC
former NCA vice Chairperson and now COPAC co-chairperson
Douglas Mwonzora  
Ironically  president Mugabe had indicated that there was no need to consult the people because the parties had already crafted the Kariba draft. At least he was honest, he clearly re-affirmed his party's policy of imposing unpopular policies without the input of the citizens. I know for a fact that it was the MDC that incorporated the words, ‘people driven’ to COPAC, the words were the main messages  at the formation of the MDC at the National Working Peoples Conventions in 1999. Such words were alien to ZANU PF and they were the core message in the struggle for a new constitution for Zimbabwe spearheaded by the civic society.  Those who opposed Article 6 like the National Constitutional Assembly, were not fools; they knew that the words ‘people driven’ were meant to mislead Zimbabweans  into believing that indeed the process would be indeed people driven. The time is now for  those leading COPAC to be ashamed of themselves, swallow their pride and admit that they failed Zimbabweans. In doing so they should publicly apologise for taking the whole nation for a ride. Whatever draft they will eventually come out with,  it will certainly not contain the wishes and aspirations of the people but those of the negotiators and not even the membership of their respective parties.   

They have made it clear that they have agreed on the content and rectified some sections dumping what the views they collected during the outreach meetings. How scandalous was such a move!  The people stated clearly what they wanted and who then gave COPAC the right to change those views? Not that I supported the process, but why did they even allowed for the outreach. The time for Zimbabweans to demand accountability is now, COPAC should not be allowed again to continue operating; they should be disbanded as a matter of urgency to pave way for a truly independent body with no political inclinations to start a fresh process otherwise we keep wasting more money and resources to a process which will yield a nothing. The referendum should never be allowed to take place because the product of COPAC is not ours but that of the parties in government. However if they insist Zimbabweans will unite and reject the compromised document produced through a compromised and undemocratic process.  COPAC has scandalously and fraudulently compromised the interests of the nation for political expediency and hence they should be disbanded. Zvazviri!

Blessing Vava is from Chipinge, he writes in his personal capacity and can be contacted on

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