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Mugabe in Singapore on private visit

01/04/2012 00:00:00
††† by AFP I Staff Reporter

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe is in Singapore on a private visit to arrange
post-graduate studies for his daughter, state media reported Sunday.

"President Mugabe left the country yesterday (Saturday) evening on a private
visit to Singapore," the state-owned Sunday Mail newspaper said.

The paper said that Mugabe would oversee arrangements for his daughter Bona
to begin post-graduate work, after she received her accounting degree last

Mugabe, 88, who has ruled Zimbabwe since independence from Britain in 1980,
visited Singapore several times last year. His spokesman said the president
had gone for cataract surgery amid repeated media reports that he was
suffering from cancer.

His health has been the subject of much speculation, especially since
WikiLeaks last year released a 2008 US diplomatic cable saying central bank
chief Gideon Gono had told then-US ambassador James McGee that Mugabe had
prostate cancer and had been advised by doctors he had less than five years
to live.

Mugabe's health has been cited as one reason that a faction of his Zanu PF
party has pushed to rush new elections.
But Mugabe, who has already been named as his party's candidate for the next
elections, has shot down rumours that he is sick.

The veteran leader told a party meeting Friday that work on a new
constitution must be concluded by May or Zimbabwe holds new elections under
the Lancaster House constitution.

“Let’s conclude the new constitution, whether we agree or disagree. The
dance we have had for the past four years is over. Let us have an elec≠tion
and end this animal called inclusive government,” Mugabe said.

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Industry Minister Welshman Ncube,
leaders of the MDC factions in the ruling coalition are demanding a raft of
media, security and electoral reforms before a new vote.

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Embattled Air Zim Generating Revenue Through Chartered Flights

Harare, April 01, 2012-The country’s troubled state-run airline, Air
Zimbabwe is generating some revenue through the operation of chartered
flights, which are also keeping its flight crew in shape.

Air Zimbabwe grounded all its aircraft in January owing to poor management
and lack of funding and also due to fears that its planes might be impounded
by impatient creditors.

Insiders at the ailing national airline told Radio VOP that although Air
Zimbabwe had suspended domestic, regional and international flights, it is
currently operating charter flight services which are generating some
revenue for the grounded national carrier.

The insiders disclosed that on Friday, Air Zimbabwe operated a presidential
charter service to Equatorial Guinea to collect some officials from
President Robert Mugabe’s office reportedly offering some undisclosed
training service to some people in the West African country. The plane is
scheduled to return on Tuesday.

A fortnight ago Air Zimbabwe also flew to the resort town of Victoria Falls
on charter ferrying Al Amal Atbara, a Sudanese soccer team that played
Hwange Football Club in one of the Caf Confederations Cup matches.

Insiders said the charters, which are operated on Air Zimbabwe’s Boeing 737
aircraft also offer Air Zimbabwe an opportunity to keep its flight crew in
shape for resumption of service scheduled for May.

Last week, Air Zimbabwe summoned all of its flight crew to attend refresher
training courses so as to keep them in shape ahead of planned resumption of

The refresher courses, which are being held at the airline’s headquarters at
Harare International Airport, are also meant to enable pilots to keep their
licenses current and fly at short notice.

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Chiefs Must Be Taught Corporate Governance Issues: Kasukuwere

Harare, April 01, 2012 – The controversial Minister of Youth Development,
Indigenisation and Employment Creation, Saviour Kasukuwere, says chiefs must
be taught Corporate Governance issues so that they can handle Employee Share
Ownership Trust Funds.

"They are the custodians of our culture and they must know how to run
companies so that they can do this on behalf of their communities," the
minister said in Harare.

Kasukuwere was addressing a one-day conference on Corporate Social
Responsibility (CSR).

CSR is being carried out by firms that have been told by the minister to
indigenise and give locals a shareholding in their companies.

The minister had been asked whether chiefs would be able to deal with issues
of corporate governance if they arose in their communities.

"We must not take away the role of the chiefs because they are traditional,"
Kasukuwere said.

"What we must do is to teach them. In fact we have about six chiefs who have
gone through studies on corporate governance and they know how it is done."

He said lessons would be held in every province in Zimbabwe and top lawyers
would be invited to inform the chiefs.

The conference participants had said that they felt chiefs did not
understand corporate governance issues and, therefore, should not be allowed
to take control of learned citizens living in their communities.

Top Corporate Governance lawyer, Canaan Dube, a Senior Partner of Dube,
Manikai and Hwacha (DMH) also attended the conference.

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Politburo in turmoil

JAMA MAJOLA | 01 April, 2012 00:42

Zanu-PF will convene an extraordinary politburo meeting this Wednesday to
deal with the increasingly contentious constitution-making process amid
growing calls from its hardliners for the party to quit the exercise and
call for elections.

The meeting will be critical in determining whether President Robert
Mugabe - who wants elections this year with or without a new constitution -
will pull his anxious party from the constitution-making process.

Jonathan Moyo, the Zanu-PF strategist, last Sunday said it was time to
delink the constitution-making process, "park it" and go for elections.

In terms of the Global Political Agreement (GPA), if one of the three
parties withdraws, the agreement collapses, giving Mugabe room to
unilaterally call for fresh elections. Under the GPA, Mugabe must consult
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai before announcing the election date.
However, Mugabe has been threatening to go it alone.

Zanu-PF insiders say the politburo on Wednesday will decide whether Mugabe
pulls out of the GPA or not to free himself to call elections without

"The next politburo meeting will be very critical because this past
Wednesday we received an update on the constitution-making process from Paul
Mangwana (Zanu-PF's co-chairman of the constitutional exercise) and it was
clear there is not much progress and the president is getting impatient," a
senior politburo member said.

"So we resolved to task our negotiators, Patrick Chinamasa and Nicholas
Goche, to come up with proposals on how we should proceed on this issue.
They are submitting the report today (Friday) and it will be discussed at
the politburo this coming Wednesday."

Zanu-PF spokesman Rugare Gumbo confirmed these developments, including the
scheduled extraordinary meeting.

Mugabe is on a warpath against the GPA and associated processes as he tries
to raise the stakes to build a case for his party to pull out of the
agreement and force elections.

He has even launched attacks on the Southern African Development Community
(SADC) facilitator in Zimbabwe, SA President Jacob Zuma, threatening to
remove him "any time in broad daylight and we have warned him of that".

Zanu-PF's anger over the proposed draft constitution has been growing in
recent months, fuelled by the inordinate delays and its failure to control
the process. The situation was worsened by proposals by MDC parties - with
the support of some Zanu-PF officials - to come up with presidential term
and age limits which would have barred Mugabe from contesting the next
elections. Mugabe and his loyalists angrily rejected these proposals and
removed them.

Now Zanu-PF is at war over other proposals in the draft constitution, which
it claims constitute "subversive material" designed to "weaken the state"
and reverse empowerment programmes.

The party also says the draft constitution seeks to whittle down Mugabe's
powers and "undermine the country's territorial integrity, provide absolute
rights to foreigners, substantially alter the supervision of
non-governmental organisations and downplay the significance of the
liberation struggle".

The constitution-making process is also currently deadlocked over issues
which include dual citizenship; powers of the attorney-general and the
National Prosecuting Authority; system of government; the number of deputy
presidents; the position of the prime minister and devolution of power.
Agreement seems to have been reached to minimise the death penalty and ban
gay rights.

However, devolution is the most explosive problem facing parties in the GPA.

In a bid to disrupt the constitution-making process and rush to elections,
Zanu-PF is now coming up with all sorts of proposals, including revisiting
the exercise without stopping elections this year.

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Zim in gems warfare

MARK SCOFIELD | 01 April, 2012 00:42

The discovery of diamonds in June 2006 by villagers in the Marange area in
rural Chiadzwa, 90km southwest of Mutare, has been a mixed blessing for

The Marange diamond fields - hailed as "the greatest find of the century"
and said to hold 25% of global rough diamonds by Israeli diamond watchdog,
Tacy Ltd - have courted both controversy and fame.

The diamonds, which were banned in October 2008 for being "blood diamonds"
following allegations of human rights abuses by the military, have drawn in
big Chinese and South African mining companies.

These have transformed the diamond fields into a large-scale commercial
production centre, ending the primitive artisanal mining (using shovels and
picks) once used by diamond panners. Estimates suggest that Zimbabwe can
earn up to $2-billion a year from the Marange diamonds, but coalition
partners in the fragile unity government find themselves nowhere close to
realising that revenue, and instead have been sucked into an endless fight
to control diamond revenue.

As Zanu-PF and the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) prepare to square
off in a new election, there is tacit agreement among observers that unlike
the March 2008 poll when the diamonds had not yet taken centre-stage, this
time the gems will be at the heart of the election.

The Sunday Times this week takes a look at the political drama sparked by
the Marange diamonds involving Tendai Biti and Obert Mpofu - the faces of
the MDC-T and Zanu-PF, respectively. Both realise that the diamonds are
Zimbabwe's best hope to lift the country out of the economic doldrums.


The MDC-T's greatest undoing is that it jumped onto the Marange diamonds
gravy train late, and has continued to pay dearly for its mistake.

Biti presides over Treasury, but pays nearly 70% of monthly revenue to civil
servants in salaries. Treasury is left with very little to finance anything
else - something observers see as a vicious cycle.

Political analyst Charles Mangongera said: "It is unheard of in public
administration that you can have a finance minister who has no control over
revenue from such a key sector of the economy as mining. It is an awkward

Promised $600-million from diamonds for this year's $4-billion budget, Biti
has so far only received $19-million. Biti said: "Diamonds have to deliver
... we are being crippled by their underperformance."

Biti has accused Zanu-PF of running a parallel government that is financed
by Marange diamonds, blaming Mpofu for being behind the clandestine move to
sideline Treasury.

When MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai entered into the unity government in
February 2009, he promised to overhaul the economy - and seek funds from the
international community to kick-start the economy.

But he paid little attention to the Marange diamonds' potential. His
insistence on donor funding was mocked by Zanu-PF hawks who accused him of
carrying a "begging bowl" to source funds. In the meantime, Zanu-PF
strengthened its grip on the Marange diamond fields where it has the sole
discretion on who comes and goes. Tsvangirai was only "authorised" to visit
Marange last month.


Mpofu has been the face of resistance to Western sanctions imposed on local
diamonds, boasting that Zimbabwe "will never beg again". Yet diamond revenue
continues to be shrouded in secrecy, with Mpofu revealing that the low
revenue ($19-million) submitted to Treasury in February was because there
have been no diamond auctions this year.

This was his mildest response to Biti. Mpofu has been involved in a string
of public spats with the MDC-T strongman, whom he has accused of "lying" and
"playing cheap politics". He has insisted his ministry's dealings with
Treasury on diamond revenue were above board.

Clifford Mashiri, a London-based political analyst, said: "If Treasury
received only $122-million last year, what has convinced it that it will get
$600-million in 2012? Does it mean the loopholes in the diamond mining
sector have ended and the country can now expect more revenue? I foresee the
MDC being taken for yet another ride by Zanu-PF."

Meanwhile, Mpofu is likely to continue being the de facto finance minister,
pulling the purse strings by virtue of control of the mining companies in
Marange . Reports suggest Mpofu gave the green light last year for
$300-million to be paid to civil servants as bonuses , despite the MDC-T' s

A Harare-based political commentator said: "Some Zanu-PF barons have become
extremely wealthy over the last few years. I am convinced they will pull out
all the stops to ensure Zanu-PF wins the next election. Never mind the
factions in the party.

"Their group interests will force them to unite and put together a bloody
campaign that will be funded from diamond money."

Mpofu's personal wealth has also attracted intense speculation. He boasts of
being the "single largest cattle rancher in the country" and owns buildings
and a supermarket chain in Bulawayo and safari operations in Victoria Falls.

Last year Lovemore Kurotwi, the disgraced former executive at Canadile
Miners ejected from Marange, accused Mpofu of soliciting a $10-million bribe
in order to get a mining licence.

A Harare judge recently ruled that Mpofu had to respond to the allegations
as his "name was being dragged through the mud".

In their own words . . .


"We are not and we will not be shaken by his [Biti's] sentiments for we now
know his double-dealing. We have been remitting all the diamond proceeds
accordingly and we have records to prove it. He is trying to play cheap
politics. Remember, these are the same guys who have been calling the
diamonds body to block the certification process. He and his party are
agents of imperialists who thrive on the people's poverty and never wished
the country well." - In response to Tendai Biti's allegations in the
Mid-Term Fiscal Policy Review on August 1 2011 of diamond revenue not
reaching Treasury.

"With the [Kimberley Process Certification Scheme] certification, the
country is going to realise substantial income. Zimbabwe will not beg for
anything from anybody again. We're actually going to be a world market
leader in terms of diamonds. There is huge demand for our diamonds." -
November 1 2011 after Zimbabwe is given permission to sell its diamonds by
the KPCS.

"That is the most idiotic statement that an organisation like De Beers would
make. I mean, they were here for 15 years so when did they realise that our
diamonds are not of any quality?" - On November 14 2011 in response to De
Beers's statement that it would shun Zimbabwe's Marange diamonds.

"The country's mining companies are on the sanctions list. Marange
Resources, Mbada and ZMDC are all under sanctions. We will do business with
friendly countries but if we start telling people who we have sold the
diamonds to and at how much, then what do you expect to happen to our
companies? They [the West] will freeze their money and as I speak, ZMDC has
its money frozen by the US." - On March 15 2012 in an interview with CNN.


"The reality of Zimbabwe's situation is that there is no connection between
Zimbabwe's income from diamonds, its output and international prices." - On
July 29 2011, presenting the Mid-Term Fiscal Policy Review.

"There is a parallel government being run by Zanu-PF and as finance minister
I am also in the dark." - On November 20 2011 while addressing a Movement
for Democratic Change rally in Chitungwiza.

"Your decision will not stop the mining. That is a sovereign issue covered
by international law. More importantly, it will not stop the sale of
diamonds. All it does is encourage more opaqueness and underwriting of the
diamond industry." - In a letter to the US treasury on December 19 2011
slamming the diamond sanctions imposed on two Zimbabwe companies.

"Revenue from proceeds from diamonds has not been received by Treasury for
the months of January and February 2012. Diamonds have to deliver... We are
being crippled by their underperformance." - On March 15 2012 in a state of
the economy address press briefing.

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Marange minefields open to media 'scrutiny'

MARK SCOFIELD | 01 April, 2012 00:42

Likely caving in to increased pressure to provide transparency on Zimbabwe's
diamond fields, President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party has been on a
concerted charm offensive to gain publicity on the operations at Marange.

Observers have, however, dismissed the overtures to provide a glimpse into
operations at Marange as a "publicity stunt" and "last-ditch effort" to
clean up the image of Zimbabwe's battered diamond industry, long associated
with "blood diamonds".

The efforts come at a time when persistent speculation prevails in political
circles that Zanu-PF is piling up a war chest with which to fund the next

Since the beginning of the year, Obert Mpofu, the Mines and Mining
Development Minister, has given the green light to tours of Marange by the
media and civic society organisations.

There, journalists and civic society leaders, among them Farai Maguwu, who
was arrested by police in 2010, have been taken on the tour to gain
"enlightenment" and to see what really happens at Marange.

According to Mpofu, the tours are meant to ensure that the scribes write the
"correct things" about the Marange diamonds and stop demonising it.

However a journalist, Moses Matenga, last month was detained for allegedly
picking up a stone during one of the tours, although Matenga insists the
stone in question is a lucky charm he got from church.

A separate trip was also organised for Morgan Tsvangirai last month, his
first trip to the diamond minefields.

Even CNN, a sworn "enemy of the state" identified in the run-up to the 2002
elections by political turncoat Jonathan Moyo and banned from the country,
was allowed in to document the operations at Marange.

In February, CNN's Robyn Curnow was allowed to film a documentary shot over
a week. It is understood that international media houses encouraged by the
CNN coverage are now scrambling to get their applications in to also have a

Political analyst Dumisani Nkomo said, "It's a calculated move by Zanu-PF to
clean itself up ahead of the elections."

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Mugabe fears Chiyangwa could spy on him

By Staff Reporter 7 hours 10 minutes ago

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe personally blocked Philip Chiyangwa’s ascendancy to
the post of vice-chairman in Mashonaland West province during the party’s
politburo meeting recently, authoritative sources said.

The sources said Mugabe queried why the business mogul was suddenly elevated
when the party had resolved that he be re-admitted as an ordinary
card-carrying member.

They said Mugabe, who was visibly angry during last Wednesday’s meeting,
took a swipe at Zanu PF Mashonaland West politburo members, for failing to
stamp their authority in the province.

“Mugabe felt that Chiyangwa could have used his vast influence to fast track
his ascendancy while other party cadres were being denied the opportunity,”
said one source. “He has also spoke against imposition of candidates.”

Chiyangwa, said sources in Zanu PF, could have managed to work his way back
into provincial leadership by exploiting factionalism rocking the province.
But other sources said Mugabe has never liked Chiyangwa following his arrest
and acquittal on allegations of selling state secrets to foreign agents.

Zanu PF spokesperson, Rugare Gumbo, played down the issue yesterday saying
the position taken on Chiyangwa was by consensus.

“We sat as a politburo late last year and admitted Chiyangwa back into the
party only as an ordinary card-carrying member and then we discussed the
issue on Wednesday after hearing that he was elected vice-chairman in the
province,” said Gumbo.

“We agreed as a party that he will remain a party’s card-carrying member
only until the party thinks otherwise, meaning that his election is null and

In 2009,† Chiyangwa appeared in court charged with selling official State
secrets to South African intelligence agents.

At the time, the state-run Herald newspaper broke the story on the former
Chinhoyi legislator's whereabouts with a banner headline 'Spy ring smashed'.

The paper said; "A spy ring allegedly involving flamboyant businessman and
Chinhoyi legislator Phillip Chiyangwa and three others has been smashed,"
the paper said.

Chiyangwa appeared before a Harare magistrates court amid rumours that he
had suffered a stroke, was in a coma or dead after being tortured by
Zimbabwe's secret agents.

President Robert Mugabe's nephew, Chiyangwa, and the other men appeared
separately before magistrate Peter Kumbawa.

The then Zimbabwe's ambassador-designate to Mozambique Godfrey Dzvairo,
Metropolitan Bank company secretary Tendai Matambanadzo (Tich Mataz's
brother), and Zanu-PF external affairs director Itai Marchi were brought to
court in leg irons before Kumbawa asked the guards to unshackle them.

The four were charged under Section 4 of the Official Secrets Act.

Chiyangwa’s bid to run for MP in Chinhoyi suffered a major reversal this
week after the Zanu PF politburo and central committee nullified his
election as the party’s vice chairman in Mashonaland West.

The property tycoon beat Reuben Marumahoko on March 16 in an internal Zanu
PF vote, and many thought that marked the end of his rehabilitation after
his expulsion in 2006.

Zanu PF spokesman Rugare Gumbo said: “There were reports recently that
Comrade Chiyangwa was elected as the vice chairman for Mashonaland West

“The politburo on Wednesday reviewed that case and nullified the election.
The decision was endorsed by the Central Committee on Friday.
“Comrade Chiyangwa will remain as an ordinary member of the party until
further notice.”

Zanu PF expelled Chiyangwa on March 20, 2006, exactly two years after he was
charged with espionage, although he was acquitted by a High Court judge in

The Zanu PF constitution says a member cannot be re-admitted into the party
until after five years have lapsed since their expulsion.

Chiyangwa’s expired last year and he was re-admitted into the party last
November as an ordinary member, but it appears Zanu PF is determined to
extend his pain by blocking him from holding office.

After his purported election, Chiyangwa had set his eyes on the Chinhoyi
parliamentary seat, but those plans now appear in jeopardy.

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Stop weddings, says Zimbabwe in fraud check

Posted† Sunday, April 1† 2012 at† 20:51

HARARE, Sunday

Zimbabwe has indefinitely suspended weddings because it is working on a new
certificate to curb marriages of convenience.

The suspension saw scores of couples intending to tie the knot being turned
away by magistrates’ courts over the weekend.

In the second city of Bulawayo, officials on Friday said 20 couples were
turned away by the courts.

The magistrates in various parts of the country said they had received
circulars advising them to stop solemnising marriages.

The marriages at the courts usually take place on Tuesday and Fridays. Last
week the Registrar General Mr Tobaiwa Mudede unveiled a new marriage
certificate saying foreigners were now abusing the system to settle in the

He said the new document had security features that made counterfeiting

“We are fighting this nuisance of marriages of convenience. Marriage
officers will have to comply with this and if you don’t, the jail is waiting
for you,” Mr Mudede said.
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He had said the new certificates were ready and would be dispatched to
provincial offices countrywide.

Of late several Nigerians have been dragged to court for faking marriages
with Zimbabwean women so that they can obtain residence permits.

Last month a Nigerian businessman based in Harare was charged for marrying
two Zimbabwean women using different names. He reportedly married one of the
women without her knowledge.

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Who is Tsvangirai working for? – Zimbabwe Vigil Diary: 31st March 2012

†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† picture from

Description: mugabe-tsvangira-joke-550

‘Yes boss I told them off about the illegal sanctions’

Three years into the coalition government and Morgan Tsvangirai is a well-travelled man. He has nothing else to keep him busy as he has no power to do anything except Mugabe’s bidding and Mugabe wants the Prime Minister to go around grinding out the sanctions tune.

He could, of course, do some housekeeping work for the MDC, but he must be tired of his meetings being disrupted by Zanu PF and cancelled by the police. And party business is not as much fun as slapping the well-suited back of a real Prime Minister.

After his talks with David Cameron in London, the Vigil began to wonder who exactly Tsvangirai is working for. His message explained in Parliament on Wednesday by Tsvangirai himself was: remove sanctions and give us lots of money. Never mind that there have been no reforms and that Zimbabweans are now world-renowned for never paying their debts. Ask Mugabe why he has not paid his electricity bill of $350,000 . . . .

What we at the Vigil want from Tsvangirai is a strategy to secure free and fair elections in the face of total obstruction from Mugabe’s cronies – the people he wants to legitimize. We have heard of no such strategy and time is fast running out. Unfortunately there are still a few countries he hasn’t visited and some backs he hasn’t slapped. After all he is now Premier Class.

So the Vigil is stepping into the vacuum by sending the following letter to the British Prime Minister:

Dear Mr Cameron

The Zimbabwe Vigil is pleased to hear that you gave the Zimbabwean Prime Minister, Morgan Tsvangirai, your commitment to help achieve free and fair elections in Zimbabwe.

The Vigil has been demonstrating outside the Zimbabwe Embassy in London every Saturday for ten years in support of this cause.†

President Mugabe has insisted on elections this year even though a new constitution has not yet been adopted or reforms made as required by the Global Political Agreement he signed after the violent elections of 2008.

President Mugabe’s supporters have made it clear that they will again employ the methods that sabotaged those elections, including violence and ballot rigging.

The Vigil believes the international community has a duty of care to Zimbabweans to prevent bloodshed and ensure a fair poll. The contribution of regional observers during previous elections has been questionable and the Vigil calls for UN involvement this time.

We are grateful for the UK government’s financial assistance for suffering Zimbabweans and ask that you go further and, as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, transmit the Vigil’s petition for UN help: ‘We call on the Security Council to ensure that the next elections in Zimbabwe are free and fair. We look to the United Nations to supervise the electoral process and the handover of power to a new government and believe peace-keeping troops will need to be in place before, during and after the polling.’

As you will see the petition has been signed by more than 10,000 people from all over the world who have stopped by the Vigil.

We ask for an opportunity to present this petition to you or your representative in the near future as time for Zimbabwe is running short.

Yours sincerely

Vigil Co-ordinators

Other points

††††††† A reminder that the Zimbabwe Action Forum is to meet after the Vigil next week.† See ‘Events and Notices’ below for details. The Forum provides an opportunity for people to offer suggestions for the way forward to free Zimbabwe.

††††††† Vigil supporters may be interested in the observations of former student leader Freeman Chari, who writes of the need for an international peacekeeping force to monitor elections ( – Only force can remove Mugabe and Zanu PF).

††††††† We were pleased to see an article about the Vigil written by a Zimbabwean writer Hasani Hasani (The vigil eye on Mugabe’s abuses The Vigil diary last year published a poem he read out at the service in support of Zimbabwean victims of torture – 26th June 2011 (

††††††† The plight of Zimbabwe moves many generous spirits. One gentleman who regularly makes a donation to our work stopped by today and gave us £60. We are very grateful.

††††††† Another gentleman asked us whether we had read Ben Freeth’s book. Josie on the front desk told him we had just received an email from Ben supporting our plans for the petition to the UN.† The passer-by promptly signed the petition.

††††††† Thanks to Thabani Nyathi who brought soft drinks and Lorrein Gumise who brought biscuits for Vigil supporters. Thanks also to Georgina Makaza who has been coming at the start to help set up.

For latest Vigil pictures check: Please note: Vigil photos can only be downloaded from our Flickr website – they cannot be downloaded from the slideshow on the front page of the Zimvigil website.

FOR THE RECORD: 67 signed the register.


††††††† Zimbabwe Action Forum. Saturday 7th April from 6.30 – 9.30 pm. Venue: Strand Continental Hotel (first floor lounge), 143 Strand, London WC2R 1JA. Directions: The Strand is the same road as the Vigil. From the Vigil it’s about a 10 minute walk, in the direction away from Trafalgar Square. The Strand Continental is situated on the south side of the Strand between Somerset House and the turn off onto Waterloo Bridge. The entrance is marked by a big sign high above and a sign for its famous Indian restaurant at street level. It's next to a newsagent.† Nearest underground: Temple (District and Circle lines) and Holborn.

††††††† Next Swaziland Vigil. Saturday 7th April from 10 am – 1 pm. Venue: Swazi High Commission, 20 Buckingham Gate, London SW1E 6LB.† Please support our Swazi friends. Nearest stations: St James’s Park and Victoria.

††††††† ROHR North East general meeting. Saturday 14th April from 3 - 6 pm. Venue: Windmill Centre, Chester Place, Gateshead, Tyne and Wear NE8 1QB. For directions please contact Susan Ndlovu 07767024586, Tapiwa Merrymore Semwayo 07722060246 or Colin Matongo 07865691347.

††††††† Fourth 21st Movement Free Zimbabwe Global Protest organized by the MDC diaspora. Saturday 21st April. On this day the Vigil will also mark Zimbabwe’s 32nd Independence anniversary.

††††††† Two Gentlemen of Verona Shona Production at the Globe Theatre, 21 New Globe Walk, Bankside, London SE1 9DT. Dates / Times: Wednesday 9 May, 2.30pm. Thursday 10 May, 7.30pm. Tickets £5 - £35 (700 £5 tickets available) from 020 7401 9919 and A two-man Zimbabwean riot of love, friendship and betrayal. From Verona to Milan, via Harare and Bulawayo, two great friends, Valentine and Proteus, vie for the love of the same woman. In a triumphantly energetic ‘township’ style, Denton Chikura and Tonderai Munyevu slip into all of the play’s fifteen characters – from amorous suitors to sullen daughters, depressed servants and even a dog – in this new, specially commissioned translation.

††††††† Zimbabwe Vigil Highlights 2011 can be viewed on this link:† Links to previous years’ highlights are listed on 2011 Highlights page.

††††††† The Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe (ROHR) is the Vigil’s partner organisation based in Zimbabwe. ROHR grew out of the need for the Vigil to have an organisation on the ground in Zimbabwe which reflected the Vigil’s mission statement in a practical way. ROHR in the UK actively fundraises through membership subscriptions, events, sales etc to support the activities of ROHR in Zimbabwe. Please note that the official website of ROHR Zimbabwe is Any other website claiming to be the official website of ROHR in no way represents the views and opinions of ROHR.

††††††† ZBN News. The Vigil management team wishes to make it clear that the Zimbabwe Vigil is not responsible for Zimbabwe Broadcasting Network News (ZBN News). We are happy that they attend our activities and provide television coverage but we have no control over them. All enquiries about ZBN News should be addressed to ZBN News.

††††††† The Zim Vigil band (Farai Marema and Dumi Tutani) has launched its theme song ‘Vigil Yedu (our Vigil)’ to raise awareness through music. To download this single, visit: and to watch the video check: To watch other Zim Vigil band protest songs, check: and

††††††† Vigil Facebook page:

††††††† Vigil Myspace page:

Vigil co-ordinators

The Vigil, outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, 429 Strand, London, takes place every Saturday from 14.00 to 18.00 to protest against gross violations of human rights in Zimbabwe. The Vigil which started in October 2002 will continue until internationally-monitored, free and fair elections are held in Zimbabwe.

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Zimbabwe: The high costs paid for ‘normality’

In photography, time-lapse exposures are a useful mechanism to make
imperceptible changes unreel with new clarity before the eye. Similarly, for
a journalist, a series of sequential exposures to a situation can make
gradual social changes suddenly obvious in a way that microscopic study does

After a long absence from Zimbabwe, where I used to spend a significant
amount time on business, I returned last week for the first time since 2006.
It was instantly to renew a love affair with a country that I find endlessly
beguiling, but whose political and economic meltdown had made it at turns
frustrating, depressing and, on occasion, dangerous.

The most glaring change is how the switch three years ago to the United
States greenback has brought economic stability. Inflation had reached a
million percent a year; billion Zim dollar notes were being issued; the
stores were mostly empty; and economic activity had been reduced to barter
and hunt-and-peck shopping that consumed hours of everyone’s day.

A wry joke of the time was that the daily 27-fold average increase in prices
meant that by the time a minibus taxi had travelled from Harare to
Chitungwize on its outskirts, passengers had to cough up the same fare
again, and a bit more, to adjust for inflation.

Now, in contrast, inflation is under control and the shelves are groaning
with imported goods. Anything and everything is available at a price — but a
whacking price, two to three times that of South Africa.

The air of prosperity in the spruced up northern suburbs of Harare is
somewhat illusory. For the 90% who are unemployed the daily survival
threshold is higher than ever, while the employed poor are pounded by the
trade-off that has had to be made between stability and high prices.

Structural economic damage has been considerable, with manufacturing almost
extinct and agricultural exporters crippled by the cost of dollarised
inputs. The real grease in the economic wheel has been a consumer-spending
boom of grey money sourced from the massive diamond finds in the east of the

And most of that grease comes from what has adhered to the sticky fingers of
the Zanu-PF elite. They corruptly pocket astronomical sums from the Chinese,
who fly out the diamonds by the planeload. Little accrues as revenue to the
exchequer and there is consequently minuscule benefit to the average
Zimbabwean in a nation still run as a feudal fiefdom by President Robert

The other stark contrast is how the Government of National Unity (GNU),
brokered by former SA president Thabo Mbeki shortly before he was
unceremoniously dumped by his own party, has reduced political tensions.

The inclusion in government of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change
as junior partners has reduced, although not stopped, the deployment of the
state security apparatus in its long campaign of detention, beatings,
torture and murder of MDC supporters.

The GNU is not, however, the triumph that the Mbeki-ites proclaimed. In the
same way that monetary stability has come at a price, so too with political
stability. Here the trade-off has been at the cost of democracy, as the MDC
is subtly absorbed into the existing machinery of government and inevitably
begins to take on some of the tainted complexion of Zanu-PF.

The constitutional mechanisms supposedly fundamental to Mbeki’s ‘road map to
democracy’ have mostly not been implemented. In their absence, the election
that Mugabe wants to take place soon cannot be free and fair. And after such
an election the popular will is likely, again, to be subsumed into an uneasy
GNU compromise that no one — neither Zanu-PF nor MDC supporter — has
actually ever voted for.

The real costs of these economic and political trade-offs will not be known
for a while yet. On the other hand, after the past dozen years of trauma and
uncertainty, for now it’s probably for most ordinary Zimbabweans an
acceptable price to pay for peace and normality, however precarious.

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