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Cranswick denies High Court has approved sale of diamonds

By Lance Guma
28 April 2010

African Consolidated Resources (ACR) CEO Andrew Cranswick has denied state
media reports that the High Court has approved the sale of diamonds at the
centre of an ownership dispute between his company and the government. On
Tuesday the state owned Herald claimed the High Court had sanctioned the
sale of 129 thousand carats of diamonds mined from the Marange diamonds
fields where abuses from the army are rife. ACR was kicked off the fields at
gunpoint from their claim in 2006 by the army.

On Wednesday Cranswick told Newsreel, "there has been no green light given
to the sale of the diamonds." The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court ruled
in February that the diamonds should be lodged with the Reserve Bank pending
the outcome of the Ministers appeal to the Supreme Court.' He said they had
made an urgent application to the High Court to stop the sale of the
diamonds and the court had simply ruled on the urgency of the matter and not
the main arguments of the case itself.

ACR had argued any sale of the diamonds would make them suffer prejudice
which would be irreversible but, as Cranswick says, "the judge decided
compensation could be sought in cash if the sale went ahead. He has
effectively instructed us to do a normal application." Cranswick insists the
judgment by the Supreme Court that the diamonds should be kept at the
Reserve bank still stands, and the High Court cannot overturn that.

Only last year the international diamond trade regulator the Kimberly
Process blocked the sale of the gems citing evidence of the country's
failure to comply with strict human rights standards. An investigator from
the group visited the country and concluded that KP standards were not being
met. Their assessment was that while Zimbabwe's procedures looked good on
paper they were not being implemented. The country was then given up to June
of this year to remedy the abuses.

Mines Minister Obert Mpofu is accused of corruptly awarding the mining
rights for the Marange fields and has vowed to defy the Kimberly Process if
necessary. He has stated,, "We are going to benefit from our diamonds
whether with the KP or not." He claimed the West was manipulating the
process to block the country from selling the diamonds and 'these people
have clearly taken their sanctions agenda to another level.' Mpofu also
barred a parliamentary team from undertaking a fact finding mission in the

The Minister has made no secret of his contempt for the owners of the
diamond claim, ACR and its CEO Cranswick. Speaking briefly to reporters in
March this year after his appearance before the Parliamentary Portfolio
Committee on Mines and Energy, Mpofu blamed Cranswick for the failure to
sell the diamonds. "That man will never mine here as long as I am minister,"
he vowed. Mpofu has now threatened a police investigation of ACR alleging
the company bought diamonds on the black market.

Cranswick meanwhile, told us the charges from Mpofu were nothing new and he
had made them in the past in a detailed letter to the Attorney General. He
said even the courts had exonerated his company as they could not be accused
of buying back their own diamonds from the black market. The legal battle
between ACR and the government resulted in two government firms who were
mining on the fields being ordered to stop their operations by the Supreme
Court in February. This came about after ACR approached the court to
re-assert its mining rights. The court rulings are still being defied as the
mining firms continue to mine on the claim.

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Zimbabwe's Controversial Diamonds Not for Sale

Peta Thornycroft 28 April 2010
Photo: AP

Miners dig for diamonds in Marange, eastern Zimbabwe (file photo)

A Zimbabwe judge has denied an urgent appeal by the diamond mining company
African Consolidated Resources to block a controversial sale of diamonds.
Despite initial reports by state-controlled media in Harare that the ruling
lifted a two-month ban on the sale of Zimbabwe's diamonds, a higher court's
original order remains in effect.

Judge Ebrahim Patel ruled last week that there was no urgent need for the
High Court to hear African Consolidated Resources' appeal for an order
halting the sale of diamonds extracted from the Marange area in eastern

The judge had been asked to hear the appeal as a matter of urgency, and he
confined his ruling to that aspect of the case.  He was not asked, and
therefore made no ruling specifically about the sale of the diamonds, which
are currently held for safekeeping at the country's central bank, by order
of the Supreme Court.

African Consolidated Resources said in court filings that urgent
consideration of its appeal was necessary because the company expected the
diamonds would certified for sale this month by a monitor from the Kimberley
Process, which seeks to stop sales of conflict diamonds.

The monitor, South African Abbey Chikane, said in a written report last
month that he intended to return to Zimbabwe in April to see whether
authorities there had remedied a number of  security concerns he had
previously identified, and which were preventing certification of the
gemstones' legal status.

Reports circulated Tuesday from the Harare Herald newspaper and the Ziana
news agency, both long controlled by President Robert Mugabe's Zanu PF
party, indicated sale of the diamonds was now possible.  African
Consolidated Resources said Wednesday those reports were incorrect.

The firm is pursuing its attempt to prevent any sale of the diamonds, but
said its appeal will now be heard through the High Court's normal schedule.

ACR's chief executive, Andrew Cranswick, said Wednesday the firm is relying
on a Supreme Court ruling two months ago that ordered an immediate halt to
all mining in the Marange area, and that any rough stones extracted to date,
should be held by the central bank.  However, ACR and other companies
servicing mining operations in eastern Zimbabwe say two Zimbabwe companies
backed by South African and Mauritian shareholders continue to mine for
diamonds despite the Supreme Court ban.

Zimbabwe's controversial diamond fields made international headlines last
year when human-rights groups including Global Witness, reported gross
human-rights abuses in the Marange area, most of them committed by members
of the Zimbabwe security forces.

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Zimbabwe must scrap sale of 'blood diamonds': rights group


Zimbabwe must scrap sale of 'blood diamonds': rights group AFP/File - Raw
diamonds. A rights group on Wednesday called on Zimbabwe to abandon plans to
sell "blood diamonds" .
30 mins ago

HARARE (AFP) - A rights group on Wednesday called on Zimbabwe to abandon
plans to sell "blood diamonds" from a field plagued by abuses, after a court
gave the green light for the sale to go ahead.

Global Witness made the appeal the day after Zimbabwe's high court approved
the sale of the diamonds from the Marange field in defiance of the Kimberely
Process, which governs the ethical sale of the stones.

"What has been taking place in Marange is unconscionable and there is no way
that exports should restart until the government can prove that it has taken
the necessary action to end the abuses and hold the perpetrators to
account," Global Witness campaigner Elly Harrowell said in a statement.

"If the government goes ahead with its plan to sell diamonds without prior
approval from the Kimberley Process, it will be in breach of its commitments
and should face suspension."

A failure to do so could affect consumer confidence in the international
diamond market, Harrowell said.

The sale of the diamonds owned by British-owned African Consolidated
Resources (ACR) was blocked last year by the international regulator after
it found that Zimbabwe had failed to comply with human rights standards.

The Kimberley Process was set up to prevent the sale of so-called blood
diamonds, which are used to fund rebel movements.

The state-run Herald newspaper reported Tuesday that the high court had
approved the sale of 129,000 carats of diamonds belonging to (ACR).

In February, Zimbabwe's Supreme Court ordered two government firms to stop
operations on the ACR fields. The case was brought to court by ACR in a bid
to win back its mining rights which had been suspended in 2006.

Since the suspension, the Zimbabwean government and the London listed ACR
have been in a legal fight over the ownership of the diamond fields.

In March, a Kimberly Process investigator visited the country to determine
if human rights standards were being met in the country's Marange diamond

The investigator found that while procedures looked good on paper, they were
not being implemented. Zimbabwe was given until June to fix the abuses.

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Teachers leader urges civil servants to go on hunger strike over wages

By Violet Gonda
28 April 2010

The militant Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) has called for
drastic measures, including going on hunger strike, to get the government's
attention over the plight of civil servants in the country.

Finance Minister Tendai Biti recently said salaries for civil servants had
been frozen indefinitely because the government has no money. But the
President of the PTUZ has rejected this claim and is calling civil servants
to adopt new and more extreme protest strategies to ensure a favourable
outcome. The group said there are a lot of resources in the country such as
gold, diamonds and platinum which can be used to pay salaries for state

PTUZ President Takavafira Zhou said: "As far as the PTUZ is concerned the
best way forward for civil servants is for leadership to pursue the road
designed last time in terms of hunger strike at the Public Service
Commission and demonstrations to parliament, so that the issue of salaries
is discussed in parliament. When the government freeze salary increments,
the civil servants should prepare to liberate themselves out of this

Zhou urged civil servants not to just adopt strategies and tactics and then
abandon them on the spur of a moment. He said the workers leadership in the
civil service had agreed on a course of action to tackle their problems but
those same people were now not 'singing from the same hymn book,' and have
abandoned previously agreed forms of action. Zhou said some are afraid of
arrest, and that other workers have been reduced to so much poverty and
misery that they have ended up 'salivating at poisonous carrots.'

He added: "The 'celebrated' unity of civil servants groups under the APEX
Council has up to now failed to achieve much in terms of the improvement of
the plight of civil servants. The employer has remained arrogant and
intransigent, while political parties have prioritised sharing of political
power rather than reconstruction of the education system, the health system
and the provision of water and other services."

"Equity in distribution of resources has remained a pipe dream while high
profile corruption and patronage have remained permanent features even in
the inclusive government."

The union leader said the challenges call for more sophistication in the
leadership of civil servants and said 'mere grouping of associations without
sharing a common ideology and frame of reference may not necessarily be

He said as workers prepare for Workers' Day on May 1st they must be reminded
that they are their own liberators.

The desperate call for strategic planning for mass action comes at the same
time as a shocking report from the Zimbabwe Teachers' Association (ZIMTA)
saying 45,000 teachers have left the profession over the last 10 years
because of the economic and political crisis. ZIMTA said there is a critical
shortage of teachers in state schools and the situation is being made worse
by the current 'demoralising' salary structures. The teachers warned that
the education sector will collapse if urgent action is not made to find a
lasting solution to the ongoing crisis over salaries and working conditions.

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Zuma Facilitators Return To Zimbabwe

28/04/2010 17:16:00

Bulawayo, April 28, 2010 - Facilitators working on behalf of President Jacob
Zuma to end a lengthy deadlock in Zimbabwe's troubled power-sharing
government arrives back in Harare tomorrow (Thursday) for further

Two weeks ago Zuma received a report on the progress of Zimbabwe political
talks aimed at ending a deadlock threatening the shaky  one-year-old
coalition government of President Robert Mugabe and his long-time foe Prime
Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.

The squabbling Zimbabwe parties handed over the report to the facilitation
team which in turn presented it to Zuma at his Union Building offices in
Pretoria on two weeks ago.

Zuma's country brokered Zimbabwe's unity agreement in September 2008 under
the supervision of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the
African Union (AU).

However in an interview with Radio VOP on Wednesday from Johannesburg,
Zuma's International Adviser, Lindiwe Zulu, said  the facilitation team will
be in Harare on Thursday for further engagement with the parties in the
inclusive government.

"We are heading back to Harare tomorrow (Thursday) for further engagement
with the parties in the inclusive government... President Zuma ...wants to
see closure to all the outstanding issues. We believe we are making some
progress," said Zulu.

The Zimbabwean talks have dragged on since the country's three main
political parties agreed to form a power-sharing government in February

Tsvangirai accuses Mugabe and his Zanu (PF) party of delaying democratic
reforms that many western donors say are necessary before they can bail out
the country with funds needed to resuscitate the country's economy. In
addition Tsvangirai also wants Mugabe to reverse the unilateral appointments
of the country's Attorney General and Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ)
governor as well expediting the appointment of senior officials of his party
into government including his choice of deputy agriculture minister Roy
Bennett who is facing terrorism charges.

Zanu (PF) on the other hand, accuses Tsvangirai of campaigning for the
imposing of sanctions and wants the Prime Minister to call on Western
countries to lift the visa and financial sanctions on Mugabe and his inner

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North Korea venue change 'purely a sporting issue'

Wednesday April 28, 2010 1:57 PM

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) -Zimbabwe's tourism minister says North Korea's World
Cup squad has changed its training venue for its upcoming visit but denies
the move is politically motivated.

Walter Mzembi said on Wednesday the North Koreans would now be based in the
capital Harare and not the southern city of Bulawayo, but added the change
was "purely a sporting issue.''

North Korea's visit has caused opposition in Bulawayo's Matabeleland
province after it revived memories of political killings in the 1980s when
an army brigade, trained by North Korean instructors, was responsible for
the deaths of up to 40,000 civilians in Matabeleland.

Mzembi said North Korea switched to Harare's Rufaro Stadium because the turf
was more suitable for its World Cup preparations.


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Freelance Journalist Summoned To Appear In Court

28/04/2010 12:12:00

Harare, April 28, 2010 - Freelance journalist Stanley Gama has been
subpoenaed to appear in court on May 6 together with four journalists from
the weekly Standard newspaper.

The journalists will be state witnesses in the criminal defamation case
against Harare Mayor Muchadeyi Masunda and eight councillors on allegations
of defaming businessman Philip Chiyangwa.

Gama's lawyer, Selby Hwacha, confirmed to MISA-Zimbabwe that the police
recorded a statement from his client at Harare Central Police Station on
Tuesday. The case arises from the publication of a story published in The
Sunday Times of South Africa exposing an alleged massive land scandal
involving the Minister of Local Government Ignatius Chombo and Chiyangwa.

Vincent Kahiya the Zimbabwe Independent editor- in- chief, Standard editor
Nevanji Madanhire and reporters Feluna Nleya and Jennifer Dube will also be
appearing in court following publication of a related story carried in the
weekly's edition of 28 March to 3 April 2010.

The story revealed that a special Harare council committee investigating the
allocation of land had recommended that Chiyangwa should be arrested for
alleged corruption.

The story was based on a 54-page report titled: Special Investigations
Committees report on City of Harare's Land Sales, Leases and Exchanges from
the period October 2004 to December 2009.

The state alleges that the mayor and the councilors defamed Chiyangwa by
leaking the report whose contents were published by the Standard and The
Sunday Times of South Africa before it was debated by the full council.

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MDC demands spy’s arrest

Written by John Chimunhu
Tuesday, 27 April 2010 15:31

HARARE - The MDC has demanded the arrest of rogue CIO spy Joseph Mwale who
is wanted for the double-murder of party officials in 2000.

In an article to commemorate the 'callous' murder of Prime Minister Morgan
Tsvangirai's election agent, Tichaona Chiminya, and activist, Talent Mabika,
the MDC director of information, Luke Tamborinyoka, said Zimbabweans
demanded justice for the two and all other victims of Zanu (PF)'s campaigns
of terror.
"We demand justice to visit all perpetrators of violence so that we create
proper conditions for national healing and reconciliation," Tamborinyoka
said. "The collective spirit of all victims of violence, including
one-year-old Nyasha Mashoko, who was burnt to death with her mother on June
8 2008, will simply not rest until all perpetrators of violence are brought
to book.”
He described the killing of Chiminya and Mabika, who were petrol-bombed at
Murambinda growth point in Buhera on April 15, 2000 as 'a barbaric act of
Zanu (PF) violence' , a 'callous murder' and a 'sordid act of
state-sponsored terror'.
The two people named in the killing, Mwale and Zanu (PF) terror squad leader
Tom Kainos Kitsiyatota Zimunya have not been arrested even after a High
Court judge ordered their incarceration.
Tamborinyoka said: "High Court Judge Justice James Devittie, who nullified
Zanu (PF)'s election 'victory' in Buhera North and called for the
prosecution of Mwale and Zimunya, described the murder of the two activists
as a 'wicked act'. Exactly 10 years later, the two are still walking
scot-free, with one of them still in the employ of the state."

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No movement towards implementing constitutional reform process

By Tichaona Sibanda
28 April 2010

Several MPs from the mainstream MDC on Wednesday said they had little hope
the country would have a new constitution by next year.

The process of drafting a new Zimbabwean constitution has been further
delayed, which means the country's new charter is now running almost 9
months behind schedule.
Under the original agreement signed in September 2008, which formed the
basis for the formation of a coalition government, the country was supposed
to have a new constitution by July 2010.
An MDC MP told SW Radio Africa that despite funding problems, the process
was also facing stiff resistance from ZANU PF legislators who are allegedly
terrified of the repercussions a new constitution will have on the country's
political landscape.

The MP who preferred to remain anonymous said "When you meet them [ZANU PF
MPs] they pretend to like the idea of drawing up a new constitution, but
behind our backs, they don't like it at all."
Recently, Douglas Mwonzora, the MDC co-chairman tasked with spearheading
constitutional reforms, accused some politicians of trying to thwart the
process because they were afraid of losing elections.
He said, "Those who were afraid of losing certain positions were endangering
the constitution-making process, saying the constitution was not about the
next elections, but for posterity."
On Tuesday the European Union donated US$8 million to help fund the drafting
of a new constitution meant to pave the way for fresh elections.

Meanwhile, the Global Zimbabwe Forum (GFZ) has moved a motion to reject
supporting the Global Political Agreement, which it described as 'not a
perfect document.'

The signing of the GPA gave birth to the inclusive government, but power
struggles between the main parties in the unity government has delayed the
full implementation of the GPA.

Luke Zunga, a board member of the GZF told us after giving the GPA a
cautious welcome, most Zimbabweans in South Africa were no longer convinced
the agreement was taking the country forward.
Zunga said, "We are apparently going backwards as a country. Instead of
dealing with key issues of the economy and full implementation of the GPA
the politicians are busy fighting over power. This is why there is a surge
in violence in the country, because people have seen the GPA is not going


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North Korea Fears Soccer Players May Seek Asylum In South Africa

28/04/2010 11:52:00
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Harare, April 28, 2010 - The North Korea national football team will train
in Zimbabwe before heading to South Africa for this year's World Cup in June
because the country fears players and officials could desert camp and seek
asylum in South Africa.

Zimbabwean government sources said there were strong fears some players and
officials from North Korea could take advantage of their stay in South
Africa to break free and seek asylum.

North Korea is notorious for denying its citizens basic freedoms and
citizens from this reclusive country have a record of defecting and seeking
asylum once they step on foreign soil, especially of countries that enjoy
democracy and freedom.

Sources this week said Pyongyang was comfortable with security arrangements
in Zimbabwe which they felt could make it impossible for players or
officials to escape.

"Look, it is very easy for the North Korean players to break away from camp
and seek asylum is South Africa than it is here in Zimbabwe," said an
official from the Ministry of Education, Sport, Art and Culture.

The North Korean team will camp in Bulawayo and use Babourfields Stadium as
their training venue.

Their visit to Bulawayo has attracted serious opposition from human rights
groups who say it evokes memories of the Gukurahundi massacres of the early

The Fifth Brigade, which perpetrated the massacres, were trained and armed
by the North Korean government.

North Korea does not usually send its sporting teams to train and play in
Western Europe because once there, players immediately break away and seek

They, however, usually train in Russia.

Athletes from countries such as Eretria, Sierra Leone, Cuba, Bangladesh and
Afghanistan have in the past defected as soon as they set foot on foreign

During the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne 26 athletes sought asylum in
Australia. They include members of teams from the African countries of
Cameroon, Ghana, Nigeria and Sierra Leone as well as the south-Asian nation
of Bangladesh.

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New election rules leave rigging risk, say experts

Written by Gift Phiri
Wednesday, 28 April 2010 07:01

HARARE - Electoral reforms recently agreed to by the three parties in the
coalition government don't go far enough to stop vote-rigging or to ensure
an uncontestable election outcome, experts have warned.

President Mugabe's Zanu (PF) party, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's MDC
and Arthur Mutambara's breakaway MDC party have agreed on a series of
electoral reforms, giving credence to suggestions that an election is
imminent in 2011.
Among the reforms are changes to the handling of election results, including
posting election results outside polling stations promptly and transmitting
the results to command centres, and limiting postal voting to officers
outside the country on state duty.
The parties also agreed to do away with the clearance certificate for
candidates contesting the election from Zimbabwe Republic Police or local
authorities - a welcome removal of bureaucratic procedures, analysts say.
Voter education will now begin a week after the proclamation dissolving
parliament and calling for elections. Previously this was done within 90
But among all the reforms, the landmark agreement was on presidential
election results. These will be announced no later than five days from the
day after the last day of polling.
Rindai Chipfunde-Vava, director of independent election watchdog body
Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) welcomed the early release of
results, saying that "timely release of results gives credibility and
integrity to the ballot, as late release of results gives room to suspicion
of tampering with the ballot and reduces transparency of the electoral
After the March 2008 vote that saw Mugabe defeated by MDC leader Morgan
Tsvangirai, election results were withheld for five weeks as authorities
tinkered with the results to fix the presidential run-off election.
The Zimbabwean understands the parties agreed that if there were more than
two candidates in a presidential race, there would be a run-off if no one
candidate was able to gather votes greater than the totality of votes cast
for their rivals.
In addition, parties agreed that in the proclamation where parliament is
dissolved, there should also be an allowance made for a run-off and a date
should be set for this eventuality, to avoid the uncertainty that shrouded
the declaration of the June 27, 2008 run-off vote.
Significantly, parties agreed to remove the minister of foreign affairs'
powers of vetoing accreditation of foreign election observers - a move that
dramatically reduces the risk of picking regional and international
observers to suit particular agenda.
However, Chipfunde-Vava noted that the composition of the new accreditation
committee for observers didn't cut the risk of executive interference, as it
was composed of representatives from the Office of the President and
Cabinet, a representative nominated by the minister and a representative
nominated by the minister of foreign affairs.
She slammed the executive monopoly given to President Mugabe to set dates
for elections in which he was a player. She suggested that this role be
assigned to the newly constituted Independent Zimbabwe Electoral Commission,
which would be guided by the constitution.
University of Zimbabwe political science professor Eldred Masunungure said
the reforms were not supposed to concentrate only on the administrative
side, since it was also necessary to create an environment conducive to free
and fair elections.
"The environment must be free of violence, intimidation and fear and there
should be favourable exchange of information," said Masunungure.
Mugabe has said he wants elections next year, a crucial date for Zimbabwean
voters and the most significant election since the country was granted
independence from Britain in 1980. Political analysts say Mugabe cannot
survive an election.
"There is, of course, no doubt that he will try to rig the result of the
2011 poll, as he did the last time presidential elections were held, back in
2008," said a business analyst.
"But even if he succeeds - and he probably will -- it will still not be
enough. This is because something very significant has occurred over the
past few 14 months - Mugabe's own supporters have turned against him and now
back the PM, who has brought economic relief. These reforms will finish him
off, as they install a tamper-proof electoral system."

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Zanu (PF) continues to thwart MDC … political persecution, violence continues

Written by Gift Phiri
Wednesday, 28 April 2010 10:08

HARARE - Despite a year’s worth f meetings by key political leaders,
contentious issues in the full implementation of  the global political
agreement, GPA, still remain.

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC party complained this week that
outstanding issues included the swearing-in of Senator Roy Bennett as the
deputy Agriculture minister and the reversal of the appointments of RBZ
governor, Gideon Gono and AG (Attorney General), Johannes Tomana, which were
made prior to the Other outstanding issues are the ministerial mandates and
the appointments of provincial governors.
Perhaps more dangerous, Zimbabweans politicians have done little to address
the highly charged political polarisation, which fuelled the post-election
violence that killed 253 people in 2008 and displaced 200,000 others.
Senior MDC officials have admitted that the unity government has failed.
“In my view, we have basically failed,” said a senior official on condition
of anonymity. “We may have achieved a certain level of peace in the country,
economic stability, but underneath that, there is nothing.”
“Mbeki’s deal has bought us one year of surface stability, without putting
in structures for implementation,” says political commentator Ronald Shumba.
“There were achievements. The violence stopped. Hyperinflation has ended.
The government was formed.
You have a prime minister and the setup is working, and although sometimes
painful to watch, you see a willingness to make it work. But the
politicians, they need to show that they are making progress.”
Cases of political violence and persecution continued to increase, and
Zimbabwe is far from having a new constitution. The MDC alleges that Zanu
(PF) is re-establishing militia bases, ahead of the writing a people-driven
Constitution. Zimbabweans hope a new charter, replacing one inked in 1979
before independence from Britain, will strengthen the role of parliament and
curtail the president’s powers, as well as guaranteeing civil, political and
media freedoms.
“The MDC’s position is that the people of Zimbabwe must make their own
Constitution. The Kariba draft (which Zanu (PF) wants used as template for a
new Constitution) or any other draft must not be imposed on the people.
Everyone must turn up and contribute when the Constitution-making outreach
programme kicks off,” the MDC statement said.
“In Muzarabani, Epworth, Harare South, Kamativi Mutasa North, Mudzi, Mutoko,
Chiredzi, Zaka and Gutu and most rural Mashonaland, war veterans, Zanu (PF)
youth militia and soldiers have established militia bases.”
The persecution of MDC members and MPs is also on the rise.
“Over 100 members and activists are facing various trumpedup charges across
the country,” the MDC statement said.
The trial of MDC treasurer- general and deputy Agriculture Minister
designate, Roy Bennett resumes at the High Court on May 10.
Bennett faces a possible death sentence if convicted of illegal possession
of arms for purposes of committing terrorism, banditry and sabotage.
The MDC insists the charges are politically motivated. The MDC also slammed
the arrest last week of MDC Bindura district chairperson, Tongai Jack on
what it called “flimsy charges” of disrespecting Mashonaland Central
governor, Martin Dinha. He had raised complaints that Dinha bought the
mayoral house for US$48.
The party condemned the arrest of Harare mayor and eight councillors who are
currently before the courts on US$900million defamation charges after
unearthing corruption by Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo and
businessman Phillip Chiyangwa.
The MDC councillors have also filed a counter report to the police
commissioner-general Augustine Chihuri and to the two Home Affairs minister
on the unlawful acquisition of council land. But no action has been taken by
police, the MDC statement said.

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Tomana In Hot Soup

28/04/2010 12:01:00

Harare, April 28, 2010 - The Attorney General Johannes Tomana has come under
fire following his dropping of fraud charges against Telecel Zimbabwe board
member Jane Mutasa.

On April 23, Tomana's office confirmed through a letter that it had declined
to prosecute Mutasa and her three accomplices in the US$750 000 fraud case -
her personal assistant Caroline Gwinyai, Telecel's regional sales manager
Charles Mapurisa and commercial director Mr Naquib Omar.

But on Wednesday, the Zimbabwe Wealth Creation and Empowerment Council wrote
to Tomana complaining about his handling of Mutasa's case. The council is
among the handful of organisations pushing for the empowerment of indigenous

"We give you seven days to reinstitute the charges, failure to which the
council has no choice but to engage private prosecutor," reads the
complaint. The complaint has also been copied to President Robert Mugabe,
five ministers of the inclusive government, the Posts and Telecommunications
Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ), the police's serious frauds
section and the anti-corruption commission.

"(The) police must investigate other fraudulent matters perpetrated by Jane
Mutasa and others involving fake invoices that were paid by Telecel for
services which were not provided or performed."

The letter added that the conversion of  the Indigenous Business Women's
Organisation (IBWO)'s shares by Jane Mutasa into her personal company,
Selpon Investments (Pvt) Ltd, was without the Zimbabwe Wealth Creation and
Empowerment Council's approval as per its constitution.

Tomana was not available for comment. However, in the letter confirming that
the charges against Mutasa had been dropped, his office said the evidence
contained in witnesses' statements in the police docket "does not establish
a criminal offence against the four suspects".

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Mission to supply Zim pensioners

28 April 2010, 13:53

When Hannes Botha of Malelane, Mpumalanga, heard about a destitute pensioner
in Zimbabwe who had no food or funds, he decided to do something to help.

He filled his car with food hampers and drove the 1 000km to Bulawayo to
deliver it.

Then he was asked to supply food to another needy pensioner in an old age
home. When he handed it over, he noticed how the other residents all stared
at the parcel he had delivered.

"I knew then that they also needed food," Botha said during a visit to

"It took me another eight months to buy enough food to supply the 36
pensioners at the home with food hampers," he added.

And when he eventually handed it all over, many were so overwhelmed that
they broke down and cried.

"It was then that I realised that the pensioners in Zimbabwe were facing a
crisis. Their pensions were fast becoming worthless because inflation was
out of control."

That was eight years ago, and since then Botha has helped thousands more

"There is no doubt that some would have died without help," he said.

Unable to continue financing the operation on his own, Botha formed the
Zimbabwe Pensioners Supporter Fund, a non-profit organisation, with friends
and donors rallying to help.

Together they supplied 400 pensioners with food, clothing and basic
medicines every three months. And when food disappeared from shop shelves in
Zimbabwe, it was decided to supply the hampers every month.

The organisation now has three trucks that can carry 22 tons of food to 1
650 pensioners. Most of them live in old age homes, although some still live
in their own homes.

"Some have no pensions at all, while others are only able to buy a few of
loaves of bread with what is left over after paying their rent," said Botha.

"I have seen people with refrigerators that are not even plugged in. There
is no point: they have nothing to put inside."

Despite their plight, Botha said that most pensioners put on a brave face,
proudly saying that they were "fine" when the opposite was obviously true.

Since the "dollarisation" of the currency, with US dollar and the rand
becoming legal tender in the country, the elderly were in an even worse
situation than in the past, Botha said.

"Now the shops are full with goods again, but the old people cannot afford
to buy anything as they don't have dollars and rands."

The Zimbabwe Pensioners Supporter Fund only supplies 40 percent of the needy
with food, but aims to eventually supply the rest as well.

Botha has been travelling throughout KwaZulu-Natal to explain their plight,
and residents have been opening their hearts and their pockets.

A Durban friend, Peter Wilson, has made a warehouse available where
donations of food and clothing are stored until Botha's next trip to

Those interested in assisting can send an e-mail to Botha at:, or call 013 790 0934, 084 589 3221 or 084 253 4872.

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Zimbabwe’s best arts festival

Yesterday was the first day of HIFA and somehow I managed to squeeze in 5
shows which is impressive seeing as I have a day job.

First up was Kupenga Kwa Hamlet with the really, really fabulous Denton
Chikura and Tonderai Munyevu. Their performance at the Standard Theatre was
electric and the capacity crowd enjoyed every minute of it, especially the
surprising end. Go see it!

Next was The Juggler, Mark Nizer. Mark is a great performer and had the
audience eating out of his hands, both when he had hands full of juggling
balls AND when they were empty! Part of the joy of Mark’s performance was
his humour and friendliness. He said how much he loves coming to Zimbabwe
and praised Zimbabweans for being real can do people. Mark encountered a
host of challenges during his first show mainly brought on by the fact that
his lap top died during his travels and he had to do as well as he could
without it.

Hero at 6pm in the Standard Theatre is a wonderful production performed by
Craig Morris and directed by Andrew Buckland. Last year I saw Blood Orange
and decided that I’ll see Anything that Andrew has been involved in.

From Hero we went on to Carmina Burana, the opening show. On our way in we
bought a bucket of ice and a bottle of chardonnay and found our friends in
the throng of folk who had turned out for what is usually the highlight of
HIFA. I loved the singing which was rousing and beautiful but I was left
disappointed by the performance and the visuals surrounding the singing. I
got a text message from a friend late last night saying that she had gotten
bored by the show. My boredom was kept at bay by the incredibly beautiful
Zimbabwean night sky and the group of people I was with. I have to say
though that we spent a lot of time talking amongst ourselves and listening
to the music rather than watching the show.

It was a case of leaving the very best to last. A friend persuaded me to
drop by Reps Theatre in Avondale to see Jutro, a South Africa production
brought to Zimbabwe by the Embassy of Israel. It’s the story of a singer in
a rundown night club during World War II. HIFA has only been going for a day
but so far, if you see anything, see Jutro!

This entry was posted on April 28th, 2010 at 10:19 am by Bev Clark

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