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Malema raps Zanu PF

http://www.thestandard.co.zw/

Saturday, 03 April 2010 22:19

ZANU PF youths yesterday got more than they bargained for from the visiting
African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) President Julius Malema,
after he strongly denounced the party's violent tendencies during elections.

The firebrand ANCYL leader said it was possible for Zanu PF youths to be
militant without being violent. Addressing a Zanu PF youth rally in Mbare
yesterday afternoon, the controversial Malema appeared to be singing from
the same hymn sheet with the Zanu PF supporters, urging them to be militant
in "defence of the revolution".

"You must be militant, you must be radical; you must be resolute in defence
of your own organisation," said Malema.

But while they were still applauding, he changed the tune, and told them
what they least expected to hear: denouncing violence.

"But militancy does not mean cutting people hands, militancy does not mean
violent politics, militancy means you must be vigilant, you must be on the
ground, you must be in each and every corner of Zimbabwe."

The silence among the youths - who for all along had been applauding even
the smallest of greetings - was enough evidence that they did not expect
that from Malema.

And he didn't stop there. He warned them that violence could attract an
international invasion.

"Once we engage in violent means of politics, we run the risk of giving
imperialists the reason why they must invade Zimbabwe. If you fight people
physically, you are giving them an opportunity to slaughter everybody,
because theirs is to slaughter those who disagree with them," added Malema.

Malema added that while they supported President Jacob Zuma's mediation
efforts in Zimbabwe, a lasting solution would only come from Zimbabweans. He
however stressed his warning against using violence, saying politicians
should be able to negotiate and resolve their differences peacefully.

"We want you to hold peaceful elections because we know that under peaceful
elections, Zanu PF will win," added Malema.

"We are critical thinkers, we believe in sitting down and negotiating. We do
not opt for violence. Those who think violence is a means for solutions,
they cannot think, that is why they introduce violent politics in the
politics of Zimbabwe."

As widely expected, Malema however showered praise on the land reform
programme and the current indigenisation law.

"In South Africa we are just starting, but we hear that here at home in
Zimbabwe you are very far. The land question you have addressed it.

"We hear you are going straight to the mines; that is what we are going to
start doing in South Africa. We want the mines. They have exploited our
minerals for a long time, now it is our turn to also enjoy from these
minerals," he said.

And in Malema's view, the future of indigenisation is so bright even people's
skin colours may change.

"Today they are so bright, they are colourful, we refer to them as white
people. Maybe this colour came as a result of exploiting these minerals.
Maybe some of us if we get an opportunity to exploit these minerals, we can
also develop some nice colour and look like them."

In a spirited defiance of a recent court ruling banning the song Dubula
Ibhunu (Kill the Boer), Malema vowed never to stop singing the song. And he
did sing it, with sufficient backing from the entire Zanu PF youth
leadership and other senior officials.

"They are today burning liberation songs in South Africa because the
untransformed judiciary is still controlled by the whites who are resistant
to change. anything they do not like they decide to go to court and bury
 it," he added.

"It is a sad day that in our own country during democracy we can't sing
liberation songs, you will be arrested for undermining a judgement by the
court. What is the difference between what they are doing now with what they
did during apartheid?"

He said he was prepared to be jailed for singing the song.

"They must know we will never retreat. If it means singing this song in
South Africa is a straight way into jail, we are prepared to go to jail and
sing this song, we are prepared to be arrested, we are prepared to be
exiled. they will never tell us which songs to sing, which leader to
worship."

Malema also attacked his country's predominantly white media for demonising
him and President Jacob Zuma.

"We do not need the so called independent newspapers to tell us who Zuma is.
we are not products of newspapers, we are products of the struggle. We are
products of the poor people in the townships and in the rural areas."

Earlier in the day, Malema visited a former ANC house in Avondale and the
National Heroes Acre "to reconnect with our struggle".

BY VUSUMUZI SIFILE
 


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Massive cover-up at Chiadzwa

http://www.thestandard.co.zw/

Saturday, 03 April 2010 22:06

PARLIAMENT is now pushing for a special investigation into Mines and Mining
Development Minister Obert Mpofu's interest in the companies that were
controversially given licences to mine the Chiadzwa diamonds after MPs were
barred from touring the fields last week.

Mpofu reportedly refused to give members of the parliamentary portfolio
committee on Mines and Energy the go-ahead to visit the Canadile diamond
storage facilities in Mutare as well as the Mbada Diamonds and Canadile
Mining operations in Chiadzwa.

Yesterday the minister became abusive when he was asked to comment on the
latest developments saying: "Don't call me, you are an idiot."

The committee led by Guruve South legislator Edward Chindori-Chininga had
travelled to Mutare on Tuesday after getting approval from the Home Affairs
co-ministers but were told that they could not proceed with the tour without
Mpofu's clearance.

Mpofu recently told the same committee that he could not rule out the fact
that some of the directors behind the diamond companies were crooks.

He said it was difficult to find a clean diamond investor the world over and
there are indications that the MPs already have plans to investigate him for
an alleged property-buying spree that began in November last year. The
minister has reportedly bought in cash over 27 properties in his hometown of
Victoria Falls and in Bulawayo.

The committee was also scheduled to meet the Marange council and families to
be relocated from the diamond fields. The team was expected to counsel the
affected families.

Meetings scheduled with Manicaland governor Christopher Mushowe also hit a
snag after he snubbed the team.

Attempts to get a comment from Chindori-Chininga and the parliament public
relations department were futile.

Parliament officials said they had prepared a statement that would be
released once approved by Clerk of Parliament Austin Zvoma.

But sources told The Standard that the police and Ministry of Home Affairs
had agreed to the visit, but Mpofu and Mushohwe refused to issue the
clearance.

"The Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) prepared all the
required letters to request clearance for the committee to visit Chiadzwa
responding to a request by the Office of the Clerk of Parliament," said a
member of the committee.

"The police could not go ahead without the approval of the Minister of Mines
since the reservation of the area was declared in terms of Mines and
Minerals act.

"The Minister of Mines refused to give authority for the police to give
clearance, yet the Ministry of Home Affairs had agreed."

Parliament officials reportedly spent the whole of Tuesday and Wednesday
trying to secure the clearance.
"All the MPs in the committee did not take that lightly, and they are
determined to dig the matter to establish what Mpofu could have been trying
to hide," said a member of the committee.

"The best way forward is for the full house of Parliament to set up a
special committee to investigate the minister, who is also a Member of
Parliament.

"This creates unnecessary conflict between parliament and the executive
which seems to shield him in the current probe by the committee."

A committee of parliament can only play an oversight role to keep checks on
ministers and officials, but cannot investigate an MP for corruption.

Where there are allegations of corruption, parliament sets up a special
committee selected and set up by the full House of Assembly to investigate a
member.

"The Minister is already making accusations that the committee is on a
witchhunt,
"These are just tactics to delay and derail the oversight probe by the
committee on Mines and Energy and hopefully continue to create unnecessary
friction and conflict between institutions of governance," said the member.

"If you will recall Hon Mpofu created the same conflict and friction between
parliament and the executive when he lied before a parliamentary committee
on International Trade about Zisco and was found in contempt of parliament
and sentenced to a suspended sentence."

The current probe has already established some irregularities in the
exploitation of the Chiadzwa diamonds by Mbada Diamonds and Canadile Mining.

Some of the senior officials involved in the project have dubious
backgrounds, with some of them having once been prosecuted in Angola and
South Africa.

BY VUSUMUZI SIFILE


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Violent Easter weekend as Zanu PF youths burn churches

http://www.thestandard.co.zw/

Saturday, 03 April 2010 22:04

INSTEAD of commemorating the Biblical suffering, death and resurrection of
Jesus Christ during Easter, some Christian families in Muzarabani and Shamva
had to endure their own suffering - but for political reasons. Reports from
rights organisations, Victims Action Committee (VAC), Crisis in Zimbabwe
Coalition and the Restoration of Human Rights (Rohr) Zimbabwe said some
churches were last week persecuted for political reasons.

VAC said 28 people, including 10 children under the age of 12 and two
teenagers, were on Wednesday forced to flee their homes after being
threatened with violence.

A Zanu PF supporter, Ishmael Jeni is alleged to have threatened the victims
at a prayer meeting held at Zhanda village of Chishapa area in Shamva.

"Jeni threatened to descend on them with a group of Zanu PF youths at night
to destroy their houses to drive them from the village for being supporters
of the MDC," VAC said.

"The families faced a similar fate during the round of violence in March
2008 and now they are squatting in the nearby bushes with no access to food,
water and shelter."

Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition and Rohr Zimbabwe reported that Zanu PF
supporters burnt down an Apostolic Faith Mission church building in
Muzarabani before threatening villagers there with violence.

"The church premises are near MDC-T losing council candidate for ward 17 in
Charunda Village, Wirimayi Gono," MDC chairman for Muzarabani South Freddie
Matonhodze said.

"The youths who burnt down the building said they were doing so because Gono
and his supporters attended that church."

Matonhodze said the building suffered the same fate during the June 2008
run-off period and its owners had just completed rebuilding it.

He said attempts to also burn a homestead belonging to one MDC supporter
were thwarted by villagers who manhandled the leader of the rowdy youths,
Paradzai Chabayanzara and handed him over to the police.

He was however later released without charge.

"Zanu PF district chairman Tapara Diamond then called a meeting where he
told the villagers that he was launching what he called Operation Hapana
Anotaura for the constitution-making process," Matonhodze said.

"He said chiefs and other people had already been appointed to talk on
behalf of the community when the outreach teams arrive and he does not
expect to hear anyone else making any contribution during the
 consultations."

Matonhodze said MDC supporters were then informed that Zanu PF youths from
other constituencies had been invited into the village to spearhead
violence.

About 55 people then fled their homes at night to seek refuge at St Albert
business centre, Matonhodze said.

MDC-T provincial treasurer Gilbert Kagodora yesterday said the people, who
spent close to a week in the open without food and water, have returned to
their homesteads after police assured them of protection.

Several attempts to get a comment from police spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena
were futile as he was unreachable after promising to gather facts relating
to the matter which he said he was not aware of.

MDC spokesperson Nelson Chamisa confirmed receiving the reports and said the
party's security teams were already investigating the attacks.

He said the violence was very unfortunate and promised that his party would
assist the displaced families.
Matonhodze said his community took its case to the Organ on National Healing
and Reconciliation which is reported to have failed to resolve the raging
control for the Anglican Church in Harare.

Sources within the Anglican Church said officials from the government arm
last week conducted a string of meetings with excommunicated Anglican Bishop
Nolbert Kunonga and Bishop Chad Gandiya with the hope of reconciling the two
factions.

"The officials suggested that we operationalise Judge President Rita Makarau's
order on sharing premises but Kunonga refused saying that the only option
will be for the other faction to join him," a source said.

BY JENNIFER DUBE


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Suspended Zapu officials take Dabengwa to court

http://www.thestandard.co.zw/

Saturday, 03 April 2010 22:03

BULAWAYO - Five suspended Zapu officials say they are taking the party's
interim leader Dumiso Dabengwa to court to force him to set up a
disciplinary body to hear their case. Smile Dube, a former Bulawayo police
spokesman, former  airline boss Evans Ndebele, former Bulawayo councillor
Charles Mpofu, Ray Ncube, Charles Makhuya and Nhlanhla Ncube were slapped
with the suspensions last year for allegedly holding illegal meetings.

The officials are now accusing Dabengwa, a former Zanu PF politburo member
of deliberately delaying the hearings to keep them away from seeking
positions at the party's congress later this year.

Mpofu who said he was speaking on behalf of the group accused Dabengwa of
flouting the party's constitution by delaying the hearings.

"It's been months now since we were suspended and there has not been any
talk of a hearing," Mpofu said.

"It's a violation of our constitution. It's a deliberate move not to call a
hearing over our case so as to frustrate us into quitting the party."

"We have resolved that the only option is via the courts.

"We are going to court to seek recourse on the matter because it is our most
sincere conviction that the suspensions were unjustified and both
unprocedural and unconstitutional and that this could be the major cause for
their failure to execute the matter to its logical conclusion."

Dabengwa could not be reached for comment on the matter.

But the party's Bulawayo chairman, Canaan Ncube denied charges that there
were deliberate attempts to frustrate the officials into quitting the party.

Ncube said Zapu did not have a disciplinary committee to preside over the
case. "We have not yet set up a disciplinary committee.we were still working
on it. The party has no real intention to bar them from the party," Ncube
said in a telephone interview.

Divisions rocked Zapu last year over infighting by various factions bidding
to take control of the party at its congress, which has since been
suspended.

Zapu's congress, originally scheduled for May, has been pushed forward to
August.

The Congress is expected to debate and endorse the amended Zapu
constitution, party policy and manifesto.

Also, the congress will elect a substantive national executive committee and
the Council of Elders.

BY NQOBANI NDLOVU
 


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Harare council adopts explosive land-grab report

http://www.thestandard.co.zw/

Saturday, 03 April 2010 20:09

A special Harare City Council meeting last week adopted a report exposing
alleged illicit land deals involving flamboyant businessman, Phillip
Chiyangwa and Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo.

The report which covers the period between October 2004 and December 2009
shows that irregular acquisitions, mainly by prominent Zanu PF officials,
were rampant during the period under investigation.

The report recommends that Chiyangwa be arrested for allegedly using
underhand means to acquire land, some of it in the plush Borrowdale
neighbourhood.

It also recommends that disciplinary action be taken against some council
officials including director of urban planning services Psychology Chiwanga
and finance director Cosmas Zvikaramba who allegedly aided the corrupt
acquisitions.

However Mayor Muchadeyi Masunda and some councillors differed sharply on the
way forward amid fears that the report could be swept under the carpet like
previous reports raising issues of corruption in the local authority.

At a meeting on Thursday where the 54-page report was presented, Ward 28
Councillor Wellington Chikombo appealed to Masunda to ensure that the report's
recommendations were implemented.

Chikombo has genuine fears given that he, together with other councillors
were last year appointed into a special committee that investigated alleged
theft of meat from Jameson Hotel.

The meat was supposed to be consumed at the inauguration of Masunda as the
Mayor but mysteriously disappeared only to be found in the freezers of the
Harare hotel.

Council instituted a probe and a subsequent report on the matter is yet to
be implemented months after being endorsed by council.

At the special meeting last week, some special-interest councillors
unsuccessfully tried to block discussions on the land acquisition report but
MDC-T councillors who dominate council successfully pushed for the
discussions.

Led by Thembinkosi Magwaliba, special-interest councillors said they were
named in the report and felt they should have been given an opportunity to
defend themselves while others said they had not been given enough time to
read through the document.

Masunda's attempt to protect the named officials by discussing the document
in committee without the media and other non-councillors or through avoiding
mentioning names was also rejected by MDC-T councillors.

Led by Panganai Charumbira, the MDC-T councillors threatened to walk out of
the meeting should the mayor protect the named officials, as that would be
equal to discrimination since he (Masunda) never protected MDC-T councillors
from attack by the state media.

It was MDC-T's voice that carried the day as the report was discussed and
endorsed by the majority.

"We are done," Dumba said in an interview. "The report has been adopted by
council and it is now an official document.

"The next step is for the mayor to implement the recommendations as you
heard him being delegated by council to do so.

"The issues the special interest councillors were raising do not hold any
water.

"All information in that document is factual as we only extracted it from
the files thus eliminating any need for us to interview anyone regarding
 it."

But Masunda said the report cannot be immediately implemented as it had some
loopholes, among them failure to give named people a right to reply.

"The committee has to attend to some matters left hanging in the air and
then present me with a complete report," Masunda said. "I will then sit down
with the Chamber Secretary and discuss the way forward.

"In all fairness, I will have to give all the people cited in that report,
especially council functionaries, an opportunity to give their side of the
story.

"I have a moral and professional obligation to ensure that nobody is treated
unfairly and thus I cannot jump the gun the same way the media has been
reporting on the report saying some people should be arrested.

"Each and every one of the named people should be allowed to present his or
her own side of the story and that is what we call fairness and
transparency."

Presenting the report, Dumba said some pages which could contain evidence to
some allegations raised in the report were missing from council files and
Masunda said that was another flaw which needed to be addressed.

Dumba said some people had taken advantage of the fact that council files
are public documents and plucked out pages which could contain some of the
evidence.

Masunda said some form of evidence should be availed for him to assess
whether the city had been prejudiced in any way.

BY JENNIFER DUBE


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No respite in harassment of journalists

http://www.thestandard.co.zw/

Saturday, 03 April 2010 20:05

THE harassment of Zimbabwean journalists continued last week when detectives
descended on the offices of a weekly newspaper that exposed a massive land
scandal involving a controversial businessman and a Zanu PF government
minister.

The Standard revealed last week that a special council committee
investigating the allocation of land by previous administrations had
recommended that businessman Phillip Chiyangwa be arrested for alleged
corruption.

Titled "Special Investigations Committees report on City of Harare's Land
Sales, Leases and Exchanges from the period October 2004 to December 2009",
the 54-page report also names Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo,
former Harare mayoress Sekesai Makwavarara among other senior Zanu PF
officials who were involved in clandestine dealings involving prime land in
Harare.

But in a bizarre twist, two officers from the notorious Law and Order
section on Wednesday descended on The Standard offices in Harare where they
demanded to interview two reporters who co-authored the story, Feluna Nleya
and Jennifer Dube.

The two identified only as Detective Inspector Muchada and a Kutiwa said
they were investigating a case of criminal defamation in which Chiyangwa,
the flamboyant businessman with close links to President Mugabe, was the
complainant.

Nleya and Dube were asked to reveal their sources in an interrogation that
lasted close to an hour.

The detectives also talked to The Standard Editor Nevanji Madanhire and the
group Editor-in-Chief Vincent Kahiya. The police action is seen as an
attempt to gag the council report which has opened a can of worms.

Earlier in the week, police had summoned freelance journalist Stanley Gama
over a related story published by The Sunday Times.

"Gama was asked to reveal the source of the document, something we find
ridiculous given the fact that this is a widely publicised report whose
contents are also available on the internet,"  his lawyer Selby Hwacha said
on Thursday. "In the absence of a charge, we regret to say that we feel this
is harassment."
Hwacha made the comments after Gama was summoned for the second time to sign
typed copies of his statement.

The police however did not turn up again at The Standard although they had
promised to return for the signing of typed statements. Coordinator of the
Media Monitoring Project of Zimbabwe (MMPZ), Andrew Moyse said the
questioning of journalists was a sign that Zimbabwe was now behaving like a
police state.

He said given the fact that the reports were based on a legal council
investigation, there was no basis for harassing the journalists.

"The papers have a duty to publicise the findings of that investigation
which was genuinely carried out by the city council," said Moyse.

"The questioning of journalists merely illustrates the fact that there is
still no media freedom in Zimbabwe.
"That story was based on an authentic report of an investigation by the
council. The media have a duty to inform the public about such findings."

The national director of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA)
Zimbabwe, Nhlanhla Ngwenya said this was yet another betrayal of the
inclusive government's insincerity on media reforms.

"That incident shows that there is lack of political will to promote and
protect media freedom," said Ngwenya.

"For us, when we look at this vis-ŕ-vis the Zimbabwe Media Commission, it
shows that no matter how many new papers are registered, we will continue to
have these problems.

"It vindicates our position that the only way out is an overhaul of the
media legislation."

Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena said there was nothing wrong with the
police action as the detectives were verifying information they "came
across."

"You people (journalists) seem to have a very wrong impression that you
should not have any contact with the police," he said.

"You seem to think that there should not be any contact with any law
enforcement agents whatsoever which is a very wrong impression altogether."

But the incidents fly in the face of recent claims by President Robert
Mugabe and Information Minister Webster Shamu that the harassment of
journalists would now be a thing of the past.

In a rare meeting with editors of all media houses last month, Mugabe
stressed his government's commitment to media reforms, saying the ZMC "must
be operating now".

Last week, Shamu told a meeting of African journalists in Harare that
"journalists should not be arrested for telling the truth and being
constructively critical".

"Harassment of journalists should stop to enable them to deliver their
duties smoothly," said Shamu.

BY OUR STAFF


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Harare’s ‘killing fields’ spark debate

http://www.thestandard.co.zw/

Saturday, 03 April 2010 20:02

The upsurge in the number of people being killed in maize fields and open
spaces with overgrown grass has sparked debate in the Harare City Council.

Councillors contributing to a debate on grass cutting at a full council
meeting last week said the killings, which mainly occur at night were now a
major challenge, especially in high-density areas.

“People are being massacred (sic) day in and day out in an open space near
Mereki,” said Councillor Julius Musevenzi of Warren Park.

“Now, if the open space is being a risk to the same people it is supposed to
benefit, then it is serving no purpose.

“Some residents applied to build their church and some recreational
facilities in that area and I see no reason why that project cannot be
approved given the risk associated with that area in its current state.”

Herbert Gomba, the chairperson of Council’s Environment Management committee
said they could not approve the  application because the proposed project
was not in line with council’s Master Plan.

“That Warren Park space and many other open spaces are reserved for
environmental and climate change purposes,” Gomba said. “We do not want to
end up being like Chitungwiza which does not have any open spaces.

“The fact that people are being mugged is not enough reason why we can
convert the use of any open space. The responsible committee should see to
it that residents are mobilised to cut the grass.

“The environmental aspect outweighs any reason being given.”

Gomba said there have been some proposals to convert a number of open spaces
including some wetlands.

Environmentally conscious residents in Ballantyne Park and Borrowdale have
in the past objected to big construction projects on wetlands by property
mogul Phillip Chiyangwa.

“The major reason why we should preserve wetlands is that our water sources
start from them and by disturbing them, we are making it possible for the
water table to go deeper,” Gomba said.

Chairperson of the Education, Health, Housing and Community Services and
Licensing committee Charles Nyatsuro said depending on circumstances, both
cutting grass and changing the use of open spaces would suffice as solutions
to problems being faced by residents.

He said residents in his Ward Six, which covers Milton Park were taking the
initiative to cut grass while it has been observed that open spaces
encourage residents in such areas as Kuwadzana to plant maize during the
rainy season. This, he said, provided criminals with hiding places.

“Funding for cutting grass during this season was inadequate as only $1 200
was allocated per ward, with groups of 20 people each expected to cut grass
on an area covering 40 hectares,” Nyatsuro said.

“Some areas are bigger than others and after each group co

vered its 40 hectares, some areas remained unkempt and we are looking for
money to address that.”
Police could not provide statistics of people murdered in the hotspots this
season but councilors said the numbers were already too high.

Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena said some criminals waylay people in
unkempt areas, those with tall grass and also in maize fields especially
during the rainy season.

Crimes usually committed in these areas include theft, harassment, assault,
rape and murder.

He said it is not always possible for the police to protect everyone hence
the force always encourages residents to shun these areas especially at
night.

“The force cannot recommend what should be done about these areas since they
are council property but as a resident, I would encourage council to cut the
grass instead of opening them up because we need these open spaces for
breathing purposes for example,” Bvudzijena said.

BY JENNIFER DUBE


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Factory closure worsens drug shortage

http://www.thestandard.co.zw/

Saturday, 03 April 2010 19:58

ZIMBABWE has been hit by a serious shortage of drugs after the country's
leading pharmaceuticals manufacturer, Caps Holdings (Pvt) Limited closed one
of its factories late last year.

The move by the Caps Holdings subsidiary followed a directive from the
medicines regulatory authority which questioned the company's decision to
produce drugs from its newly-refurbished plant before it had been inspected.

The closure has resulted in patients failing to access both over-the-counter
(OTC) and prescribed drugs.
Pharmacists who spoke to The Standard in Harare last week said the situation
could worsen if immediate remedial measures were not taken.

They said children and patients with diseases such as high blood pressure
and asthma were the most affected.

"It's a situation which can degenerate into a crisis if nothing is done
urgently," said a pharmacist who requested anonymity.

"The alternative drugs, mostly imports, are beyond the reach of ordinary
people."

Drugs regulatory body, the Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe (Mcaz),
last November ordered Caps to recall some of its drugs from wholesalers as
the regulator had not yet inspected the pharmaceutical company's new
state-of the-art manufacturing plant.

An inquiry by The Standard last week established that Caps products that are
not readily available on the market include Flumel, 4Cs for colds and flu,
Status for asthmatic patients as well as Urazide for high blood pressure
patients.

Also not available on the market are vitamin supplements such as 12 + 12,
Medox BCO and Neodexone eye drops for eye infection as well as paracetamol
syrup, said the pharmacists.

One pharmacist said they are now relying on generic drugs to cover up for
the unavailable medicines.

Dr Billy Rigava of the Private Hospitals Association said he had not
received complaints from members but knew that patients were struggling to
get drugs.

"It might not be very critical but the closure will affect the supply of
drugs in the long run," said Rigava.

Mcaz director-general Mafios Dauramanzi could not be reached for comment as
he was said to be out of the office for the greater part of last week.

Two months ago, Dauramanzi said the regulator had not carried out an
analysis on the recalled drugs and had not compiled any report .

Health and Child Welfare Minister, Henry Madzorera refused to comment
referring all questions to his permanent secretary Gerald Gwinji who was
unavailable.

Caps officials were also not immediately available for comment.

BY CAIPHAS CHIMHETE


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War veterans’ leader probed for fraud

http://www.thestandard.co.zw/

Saturday, 03 April 2010 19:57

BULAWAYO — War veterans’ leader, Andrew Ndlovu is being investigated for
fraud following complaints that he forged documents that convinced the High
Court to liquidate Zexcom Foundation Investment Fund Limited. Zexcom, a
company formed by war veterans with their 1997 windfall, was put under
liquidation in December last year after allegations surfaced that the
directors were embezzling funds.

Bulawayo Judge Nicholas Ndou appointed Victor Muzenda as the provisional
liquidator following an application by Ndlovu and two other war veterans
Robert Mlalazi and John Ngwenya.

However it has since emerged that the police’s Serious Fraud Squad has been
investigating complaints that Ndlovu forged signatures of the respondents in
the case and also lied that he had served them with the court papers.

The allegations against Ndlovu (55) are contained in documents on the case
filed under CR114/ 02/ 10 at Bulawayo Central.

The police say Ndlovu submitted a forged certificate of service, which he
also claimed to have served to Zexcom.

“As a result of the accused person’s actions, a provisional order to
liquidate Zexcom Foundation was granted by the High Court — a default
judgement was granted (by the same court).

“As a result of the accused person’s actions, Zexcom Foundation was
prejudiced.

“The accused person had no right to act in the manner he did.”

An affidavit signed by Sibusiso Bhebhe, a Zexcom employee claims that Ndlovu
and his colleagues forged signatures of the respondents and the foundation’s
date stamp.

He said he only got to know about the case when he saw a story in the
Chronicle newspaper that he had been served with the papers through a
messenger from Sansole and Senda law firm.

One of the officers handling the case only identified as N Zondo comfirmed
in a letter that Ndlovu was being investigated for fraud but refused to
comment further saying the case had been handed over to prosecutors.

BY NKULULEKO SIBANDA


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Zanu PF officials’ rags-to-riches story

http://www.thestandard.co.zw/

Saturday, 03 April 2010 19:15

THE Zanu PF Leadership Code, which sought to define the party as a socialist
movement forbids its officials from owning more than one house for purposes
of earning rentals. This is but one condition that seeks to prevent party
officials from taking advantage of their positions in government to amass
wealth. The code was adopted at Zanu PF’s second people’s congress in 1984.

But how many still abide by the code?

In the past few months there have been stunning revelations about how Zanu
PF leaders have been amassing wealth while the rest of Zimbabweans wallow in
poverty.

Last month, President Robert Mugabe told journalists he owned Higfield Farm
in Norton and Gushungo dairy farm in Mazowe, which he wants to turn into “a
centre of excellence.”

This is at variance with a provision in the Zanu PF code that says a leader
is prohibited from owning “a business, a share or an interest in a business
organised for profit, provided that this shall not be interpreted as
prohibiting such petty side-line activities as chicken runs, small plots and
gardens on one’s residential property.”

Zanu PF believes that a leader who concentrates on acquiring property
becomes an enemy of the masses.
But a cursory look at the profiles of selected Zanu PF ministers and
officials who have been in the news in the last few months for their
appetite for acquiring property would make Mugabe a saint.

Ignatious Chombo, Minister of Local Government, Urban and Rural Development.

In a maintenance application filed at the High Court by his estranged wife,
Marian, it is revealed that Chombo, a university lecturer for most of his
professional life, has suddenly become one of Zimbabwe’s richest land owners
with 100 residential stands and dozens of houses around the country.

He allegedly owns a staggering 13 companies, 15 vehicles, a bus, a 3 098ha
farm in Raffingora and properties in South Africa. About 30 of the listed
residential stands are in the plush Harare neighbourhood of Borrowdale.
Marian wants half of Chombo’s wealth.

A recent investigation by the Harare City Council implicates Chombo in
massive scams involving the acquisition of urban land.

The report says: “It remains disturbing to note that minister Chombo would
identify pieces of land in the city, influence council officials to apply to
him for change of land use and then sit over the same applications and
approve the changes.

“He would then write to council officials asking to buy the same stands and
obviously get them.
“Land reserved for recreational activities would end up having title deeds
in his company’s name.”

Obert Mpofu, Minister of Mines and Mining Development
Mpofu who is currently in the eye of a storm has attracted unwanted
publicity following reports that he has bought at least 27 properties in
Bulawayo and Victoria Falls in the last few months.

He is also believed to be behind the construction of a state-of-the-art
shopping mall between Fourth Avenue and Fife Street in Bulawayo.

Already an owner of one of the tallest buildings in Bulawayo — York
House —Mpofu is probably the richest politician in Matabeleland.

Mpofu also owns a farm just outside Bulawayo and some pieces of land within
the city.

He rose from humble beginnings as a line manager at the Zimpapers
headquarters in Harare before he moved to Zimbabwe Grain Bag (Pvt) Ltd as
general manager.

It was during that time that he became a whistle blower leading to what is
now known as the Willowgate scandal, which claimed the scalps of several top
Zanu PF officials.

He was first appointed Zanu PF non-constituency MP in 1987 and was elected
MP for Bubi-Umguza in 1990. In 1995, he lost the constituency to the late
Jacob Thabani of MDC only to regain it in 2005 in an election marred by
massive violence against Zanu PF opponents.

In 2007, as Minister of Industry and International Trade, Mpofu spearheaded
the price freeze, which analysts say quickened the collapse of Zimbabwe’s
already battered economy.

The price freeze spawned the shortage of basic commodities that only eased
with the formation of the inclusive government last year.

As Minister of Mines, Mpofu has come under scrutiny for licencing companies
owned by “crooks” to exploit the Chiadzwa diamonds.

A staunch Mugabe loyalist, he is seen as one of the few politicians from
Matabeleland from the liberation war movement who still give Mugabe an ear
and in turn enjoys the unflinching support of the ageing leader.

He was also one of the people who foiled the so-called Tsholotsho coup,
which sought to replace Zanu PF’s ageing presidium with Young Turks.

Phillip Chiyangwa, Former Zanu PF Mashonaland West Chairman

Chiyangwa has never attempted to hide his opulent lifestyle.

When The Standard contacted him seeking a comment on an investigation by the
Harare council exposing how he irregularly acquired vast tracts of land, he
showed up in his R4 million Bentley GTC Continental convertible. The Bentley
is just one of the several expensive vehicles found in his garage.

His is also a rags-to-riches story, having started off as a mine worker at
Chakari before he was called up as a member of the BSAP African Reserve. Now
Chiyangwa is counted among the richest people in Zimbabwe.


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Lab boosts capacity to deal with infectious diseases

http://www.thestandard.co.zw/

Saturday, 03 April 2010 18:33

THE health delivery system received a major boost recently after the United
States donated a new and upgraded bio-safety, level-two-plus laboratory at
Harare hospital. The new facility - equipped with state-of-the-art
equipment -will enhance the capacity of the Ministry of Health and Child
Welfare to offer clinical and diagnostic testing as well as research on
indigenous and exotic agents which may cause serious diseases after
inhalation.
These diseases include mycobacterium tuberculosis (TB), typhoid, anthrax and
the H1N1 virus.
The US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the US President's
Emergency Plan for Aids Relief provided US$120 000 for the renovation of the
laboratory and procurement of supplies.
In addition, CDC trained laboratory personnel on how to conduct tests and
quality assurance.
The facility will be administered through a partnership between government's
National Microbiology Reference Laboratory (NMRL) and the privately-run
Biomedical Research and Training Institute (BRTI).
Health and Child Welfare Minister, Henry Madzorera, speaking at the hand
over ceremony said there was no longer a need to send samples to South
Africa for testing.
"This is a huge boost to our health sector," he said. "The launch of this
laboratory means we are no longer going to export testing samples to South
Africa or Zambia for H1N1 and many other diseases.
"We now have the capacity to test our own samples."
He said the ministry now also had the capacity to determine the extent of
the problem of Multi- Drug Resistant TB (MDR-TB) in the country.
Madzorera said many Zimbabweans continued to succumb to MDR-TB because the
public health sector did not have sufficient capacity to detect and treat
such cases.
TB remains a major problem in the country because of the low detection rate
of 42% compared to the World Health Organisation's (WHO) target of 70%.
Zimbabwe has a treatment success rate of 68%, which is also less than the
WHO target of 85%, a sign that the drug resistant TB strain is prevalent.
But the only available data on MDR-TB is from a survey that was conducted in
1995. The study showed that 1,9% of TB cases involved drug-resistant
strains.
One of the first projects of the facility at Harare hospital is to conduct a
survey on MDR-TB.
US Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Charles Ray said the co-operation between the
government, the private sector and the international community was
"historic."
The new laboratory also has the capacity to test for HIV in infants, a plus
for the success of the Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission programme.
Children born to HIV positive mothers had to wait up to  one and a half
years before they could be tested as most laboratories in the country had no
capacity to carry out the tests earlier.
"I was particularly pleased by the fact that we can now diagnose HIV early
in infants at the rate of 70 samples an hour, which is a great enhancement
of our service delivery," Madzorera said.
"Previous testing methods only allowed Zimbabwe to determine HIV status in
100 samples a day."

 


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Kombi drivers rebel against ‘tollgate fees’ revolt

http://www.thestandard.co.zw/

Saturday, 03 April 2010 18:19

FED-UP of being fleeced by the police, most commuter omnibus drivers who ply
the Mufakose-City route recently openly defied the officers who man a
roadblock at Harare’s Rugare suburb refusing to pay them a daily “tollgate
fee.” The officers set up the roadblock where they openly demanded US$3 from
every commuter omnibus that passed through the checkpoint without issuing
out any tickets.
The drivers pay “tollgate fees” once a day so that the officers would not
issue them with a ticket for any offence they may commit during the day.
The daring officers accept the money in full view of passengers.
But recently, the police officers got a rude shockwhen disgruntled drivers
refused to pay the bribes after the fee was unilaterally raised to US$5 per
kombi.
The officers were seen taking down the vehicle registration numbers of the
defiant drivers and threatening to take unspecified action.
“This is now too much,” complained one driver, who requested anonymity. “I
can’t give him half the money I make for a trip for him just to pocket.”
Clayton Machumi (30), who plies the Kambuzuma-City route, said they had now
code-named the Rugare roadblock “the tollgate” because no commuter driver
passes through the checkpoint without paying the daily passage fee.
“We go through this every day,” said Machumi. “If you refuse to pay them,
they just order you to park your vehicle on the road side and ignore you
while they attend to those willing to pay.
“After that they will issue you with a ticket with a huge fine.”
Blessing Sitiya (24), who plies the same route, said the officers were
making a killing because scores of commuter omnibuses use the same road
every day.
“Considering the number of kombis that ply this route, it will not surprise
me if each officer pockets over US$50 in the three or four hours they would
be at the roadblock,” said Sitiya.
Those that ply Kuwadzana-Mbare and Warren Park routes also pay the tollgate
fees each morning.
For several days, this reporter observed the police officers pocketing the
money from the drivers.
One of the officers would be collecting the money from touts (mahwindi)
while others would be making sure that no kombi passes through without
“greasing” (paying a bribe).
At times, they stash their loot in a container hidden in the tall grass
where no one is allowed to go.
What makes this roadblock peculiar is that the officers come in their
private cars, which they use to block all roads that drivers might use to
escape payment.
This scenario is not unique to those who ply the Mufakose-City route but has
become prevalent all over the country, particularly along the highways.
Drivers who ply the Harare-Norton route also complained that they fork out
as much as US$15 per day to bribe traffic police.
“They set up at least three roadblocks along the way and at each point we
pay US$5.
“This is happening everywhere,” said one driver, who requested anonymity for
fear of victimisation.
Other drivers last week said corruption among traffic police officers has
become uncontrollable as they demand bribes openly.
They urged Police Commissioner General Augustine Chihuri to establish a
commission of inquiry into the operations of the police, particularly those
in traffic and criminal investigations departments.
Many of them have become rich overnight following the dollarisation of the
economy in February last year.
“If Chihuri fails to stamp out this now, he will never be able to
effectively control  or instill discipline in his charges.
“The whole police force is rotten to the core,” said one Dread, who plies
the Harare-Chitungwiza route.
Police chief spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena
urged motorists to report all officers who demand bribes.
“We urge all those affected motorists to report to us so that we deal with
the culprits,” said Bvudzijena. “We won’t hesitate to dismiss them once we
find them guilty.”
Bvudzijena, however, added that the commuter omnibus drivers were equally
guilty because they were paying bribes to the police.
“They are equally guilty because they are partners in crime.
“They should be issued with tickets,” he said.
He said the police have their own internal systems of dealing with rogue and
corrupt elements.
As if demanding bribes is not enough, some police officers recently went on
the rampage as they used truncheons to smash window panes of buses that
picked passengers on undesignated points along Chinhoyi Street in Harare.
Several passengers were left bleeding profusely after they were injured by
fragments of shattered glass.
One young man was thrown into a waiting vehicle by the officers with blood
oozing from his forehead.
His sin was that he had demanded to know why one of the officers had smashed
the window panes that injured him.
But the officer shouted, “We are going to deal with you at Central Police
Station. Tisu mutemo wacho mufana (We are the law young man) You think you
can win against us? You will see. ”
Surely, they took the law into their hands.
But Bvudzijena said, “That is criminal. That’s not the way police operate.
People affected must report to the police straight away. Police have a civil
way of handling such cases.”
Corruption has worsened in the past two decades following the breakdown of
the rule of law and the general economic collapse blamed on President Robert
Mugabe’s scotched-earth policies.
Zimbabwe was ranked 146 on the Transparency International (TI) perceptions
of corruption index for 2009 alongside countries such as Kenya, Ukraine,
Cameroon, Russia, Ecuador and Sierra Leone.
Nigeria, once ranked as Africa’s most corrupt nation, fared better than
Zimbabwe on 130.

BY CAIPHAS CHIMHETE

 


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Govt ban of NGO school fees’ help leaves scores stranded

http://www.thestandard.co.zw/

Saturday, 03 April 2010 18:17

GOVERNMENT’S decision to bar non-governmental organisations from offering
direct assistance with fees to orphaned and vulnerable children has seen
thousands of children dropping out of school.

NGOs were disbursing fees under the National Action Plan for Orphans and
Vulnerable Children but following the policy shift, the funds are now being
channelled to the Basic Education Assistance Module (Beam) run by the
government’s department of social welfare.
Under the Programme of Support (POS), NGOs were able to identify
beneficiaries both in urban and rural areas.
POS is a basket funding mechanism where various international organisations
provided over US$80 million to support orphans and vulnerable children in
different interventions.
“Everything was running smoothly under the POS programme,” said an official
in one of the NGOs based in Mashonaland East who preferred to remain
anonymous.
“We had mechanisms to identify needy children and funds were flowing
smoothly.”
“However following the policy shift on Beam we have experienced problems and
most of the children who were benefiting have not been taken on board.
“There are new people involved and we do not know what’s happening despite
having handed over the lists of children who were being supported.”
Godwin Phiri, the board Secretary of National Association for
Non-Governmental Organisations  also confirmed that there was concern among
donors that a lot of children had been left out during the transition.
Phiri said there was also a need for more transparency in the selection of
beneficiaries as most deserving cases were left out.
“Unicef helped to restore Beam after the programme was suspended for a
number of years due to lack of funding but the programme still faces a
myriad of challenges.
The director of social services in the Ministry of Labour and Social
Welfare, Sydney Mhishi said the possibility that thousands of children were
left out of BEAM “cannot be ruled out.”
“The donor community has pledged US$15 million for assistance at primary
school level for 2010 to assist 625 000 beneficiaries and the government
budgeted US$15 225 000 for secondary to assist 140 200 beneficiaries,”
Mhishi said.
“This gives a total of 765 200 pupils to be assisted in 2010.
“However our projections are that up to one million children both primary
and secondary may require assistance.”
He said the programme would be expanded if efforts to mobilise more funds
bear fruit.
According to recent studies nearly a quarter of all children in Zimbabwe are
orphans and this has been blamed on the effects of the HIV/Aids virus.

BY PERPERTUA CHIKOLOLERE

 


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Coltart tackles Zimsec crisis

http://www.thestandard.co.zw/

Monday, 29 March 2010 09:47

ZIMBABWE School Examinations (Zimsec) directors have allegedly launched a
witch-hunt targeting employees after information was leaked that the exams
body is bleeding because of mismanagement, corruption and nepotism. This
comes amid indications Education, Sport and Culture Minister David Coltart
has brought in independent experts to clean up the rot.

A joint audit report by the Comptroller and Auditor General and Ernst &
Young leaked to The Standard a fortnight ago titled Zimsec Capacity
Assessment: November 2009 said the institution's management systems were
weak and its credibility severely diminished.

The report said Zimsec director Happy Ndanga could be making "errant
decisions" because the institution has been running without a board for a
long time.

"A day after the story was published the directorate immediately stopped
salary negotiations with managers accusing them of taking sensitive
information to the press," said a source.

"But the rot is just getting worse, just last week a former temporary worker
was arrested for selling fake exam slips.

"Zimsec has also bought 13 BT 50 trucks for regional managers and the
directors would be taking delivery of the vehicles yet it is said there is
no money for the smooth running of examinations."

The audit raised concerns about the lack of security and the employment of
under-qualified clerks on a temporary basis, which it said impacted on the
credibility of the examination system.

Coltart yesterday said although he had not seen the report he had secured
the services of an independent accounting firm and an expert who is not
attached to Zimsec to address management weaknesses that were already known
before the audit.

He said GTZ, a German organisation, had provided "generous" funding to help
the independent experts who will soon come from the Cambridge University
Overseas Examination Board, which administered the examinations before they
were fully localised in 2002, to investigate how the localisation of the "O"
and "A" examinations could have gone wrong.

"I want to stress the fact that I am not neglecting the problems at Zimsec,"
Coltart said.  "We are doing everything possible to rectify the problems
that have been outlined in the report."

Zimsec employees had raised concern that Coltart appeared to be siding with
the directors who have reportedly dismissed the audit report as biased.
Current and former workers at the exams body said the findings by the audit
team were only a tip of the iceberg.

Tobias Moyo, a former human resources officer who retired on medical grounds
in 2008 and has been battling to get his pension, made stunning revelations
about record keeping at Zimsec.

"The human resources office does not keep records of people who are leaving
and those who are being hired," Moyo said.

Moyo said he was told that the processing of his pension was not a priority
and that thousands of other former employees were also in the same boat.

BY KHOLWANI NYATHI


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Finland gives Zim guarded support

http://www.thestandard.co.zw/

Saturday, 03 April 2010 18:04

FINNFUND, Finland’s development financial institution, says it will offer
lines of credit but is most unlikely to do equity investments in Zimbabwe
until the risks associated with the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment
Regulations are removed. The development comes a week after another Nordic
institution, Norfund, said it was withholding its proposed US$,5 million
investment and would raise pressure on the government to amend the
regulations.
Jaakko Kangasniemi, Finnfund MD told Standardbusiness: “We are mostly
unlikely to do equity investments before the risk of confiscatory policies
under the banner of empowerment has been reduced.”
Kangasniemi said Finnfund is concerned about the indigenisation regulations
which scare away investors.
“We are very concerned. Badly implemented empowerment policies can  easily
be confiscatory   and non-transparent, discouraging foreign investments,
damaging economic growth and employment creation as well as creating
unwarranted transfer of resources to persons with the right political
connections,” he said.
Kangasniemi said Finnfund is preparing “a small line of credit to a
financial institution in Zimbabwe to be used for on-lending to SMEs”.
Finnfund’s lines of credit range from € 1 million to € 10 million (about
US$1.3 million to US$13 million).
He said the fund was still waiting for a business plan from a Zimbabwean
company it was holding negotiations with.
“Various difficulties in the operating environment are holding things up,”
he said.
Analysts are unanimous that the reluctance by Nordic countries to invest in
Zimbabwe will scare away potential investors sitting on the fence, waiting
to take a cue from the Nordic development financial institutions.
“If gold rusts what will iron do? These [Nordic institutions] are the most
sympathetic investors unlike the British and Americans,” said an analyst who
has been tracking Nordic investments across the continent.
Nordic countries are seen to be sympathetic to developing countries and were
the first to send delegations to Zimbabwe when the inclusive government was
formed last year.
Norfund’s Kjartan Stigen led a delegation of four Nordic development
financial institutions that came to Zimbabwe last year to scout for
investment opportunities.
The mission was made up of representatives from Swedfund (Sweden); Norfund
(Norway); Finnfund (Finland); and Industrialisation Fund for Developing
Countries (IFU) from Denmark.
Meanwhile, Maria Lannér, director of Communications at Swedfund said they
hoped that the political and economic environment would continue to improve.
She said this would eventually lead to an increased interest from Swedish
companies to invest in Zimbabwe.

BY NDAMU SANDU


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Well that’s our country

http://www.thestandard.co.zw/

Saturday, 03 April 2010 18:36

Just on 11 this morning Voti Thebe, Acting Director of Bulawayo’s National
Gallery, rings to ask me to come straight down to his place although he
wouldn’t be around.  He has accompanied police to the Charge Office and an
exhibition, which had opened at the Gallery Thursday, is being closed.
First I ring Minister David Coltart who thankfully, I find,  already knew
and had spoken to relevant people in the inclusive government. He says he
understands a lawyer, Pulu, had been engaged.  Coltart gives me a hint of
what it was all about by saying there weren’t any specific references in
this exhibition to any particular person, “although the glasses...”
The Gallery receptionist is expecting me and I am taken to the exhibition in
the main ground floor gallery where staff is covering with newspaper the
windows, which give views into the Gallery from the pavement of Leopold
Takawira Avenue.
The whole exhibition area, walls, pillars, paintings is drenched in a sticky
looking red and as you enter you see a sign that directs you to “Place your
ballot here”. “Here” is a toilet stuffed and overflowing with ballot papers
where a sinister black figure wearing spectacles seems about to pull the
chain to flush the toilet.
Telling the truth and reclaiming the past in Zimbabwe...
This acrylic 2010 exhibition is by Owen Maseko, also now at the police
Charge Office with Thebe.  While the atmosphere is one of terror and
bloodshed, it is also oddly elegant with graceful figures of pregnant women
and others fleeing, or trying to flee, along the walls.  Even the friezes of
a sinister black man wearing glasses are elegant.
One of the most haunting depictions is a set of galvanised faces, loud
mouths wide open, imperfect teeth on display, eyes contorted under deeply
etched foreheads ....... they made us sing their songs while they tortured
and killed our brothers and sisters .........
I join the staff who are papering the windows and look at what had been
possible to see from the street, but was now being hidden.
Breaking the silence — through telling the truth.   Two black bodies, also
drenched in a sticky red, hang by the ankles....dissidents or ordinary
civilians? ................The idea was not only to leave bodies but to
leave pieces of bodies, as a warning to others...
... they disappeared are denied a place among the living and also denied a
place among the dead......
In Matabeleland most fundamental is the problem of aggrieved spirits and the
presence of the murdered dead.
Amongst the paintings writing fluidly covers spaces across the walls and
around the pillars.
In our country, perpetrators of violence are still in powerful positions,
and survivors remain silenced and afraid.  The overwhelming residues of
unprocessed pain, anger, suspicion and grief remain in the community as a
negative, silent weight, a dark, even humiliating secret that undermines
shared community activities, causing finger pointing and division....
Destroying the cohesive functioning of communities has been a deliberate
strategic policy by many governments of African countries.
We don’t trust each other any more.
Only the guilty are afraid, only if you know that you are partly
responsible, or you participated in the orchestration of this event.  “I
survived with gunshot wounds, the other 55 died.”
We can still be eliminated at any time ... this wound is huge and deep.
As no one will now be able to see the exhibition; they also won’t be able to
see what was put in place at the exit for departing viewers under the
exhortation  GUKURAHUNDI ..the rain which washes away the trash/chaff before
spring time ....... times fearful, unforgettable and unacknowledged.  A bowl
of pieces of chalk sits at the way out.   Visitors are invited to “pick a
chalk and write something in this ballot room”.  Although the exhibition
opened only the evening before last, Thursday March 25, the sticky red wall
is already full of white, chalky comments.
Leaving the Gallery I call in to say goodbye to an old lady in their little
shop.  “What is going on?” she asked.  I explain.  When I remain silent she
sighs heavily, waves her hand irritably in the air at something unseen and
says “Well, that is our country”.

By Judith Todd

Notes from Bulawayo
Saturday, 27 March 2010

 


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Of the golden leaf, greenback and sex workers

http://www.thestandard.co.zw/

Saturday, 03 April 2010 19:13

TWELVE years ago, war veterans went on a shopping binge after President
Robert Mugabe was forced to dole out Z$50 000 to each of them as
compensation for their role in the liberation struggle. They splashed money
recklessly on all manner of luxuries. Some went to the ridiculous extent of
buying cabbages to feed their cattle.

Predictably, the cash quickly ran out leaving many sinking back into
obscurity and pervasive poverty.

Fast forward to present day, the "war vets" have now reincarnated as
"varimi" (small-scale farmers) after benefiting from President Robert Mugabe's
widely discredited land reform programme.

They have bounced back on the scene as small-scale tobacco farmers who bring
their produce to the auction floors in Harare.

This new breed of "war vets" is loaded with cash and is evidently willing to
buy anything as long as it has got a price tag.

After visiting Boka Tobacco Auction Floors and Burley Marketing Zimbabwe
(BMZ) in Harare last week one gets a sense of de javu all over again.

The farmers have fitted perfectly into this void left by the war vets.

But they are sitting ducks and they are at the mercy of some wily vendors
out to make a fast buck.

The new farmers scramble for Buddie starter packs which cost US$2 each on
the formal market but go for US$17 at the auction floors.

Car traders are also cashing in on the gullibility of the new farmers
outside the floors.

A 1995 Mazda B1800 truck is going for US$5 000 while a 1992 Mercedes Benz
SE320 is listed as a "giveaway" for US$10 000.

To an ordinary man in the street, this is daylight robbery, but the "varimi"
see it as a good bargain.

With vendors invading the place from all over the country, competition for
space has reached its peak.

They are competing for space with graves on the periphery of Granville
Cemetery that is adjacent to the auction floors.

The Harare City Council has moved in to peg vending sheds at the location
for a fee of US$25 (administration) and US$70 monthly rentals. Even
established banks and companies  such as Dore & Pitt, Farm & City Centre
have also set base there.

Farmers who spoke to The Standard last week said delays in the payment of
their tobacco left them at the mercy of vendors.

Veronica Madhume (51) from Rusape said she had been at the auction floors
for some days waiting for her produce to be bought.

"I am hungry and if anyone comes to me with a bottle of Coke and is selling
it for US$5, I will buy it because I do not know how to move around Harare.

"The Easter Holiday is almost here and once I get my money I will hire
transport back to my land no matter what fare they charge me.

"I just want to return home because I am tired of sleeping on concrete
floors and the mosquitoes are just too much."

Tobacco farmer Luke Mugwisi (38) says house owners in the nearby suburb of
Glen Norah were now taking advantage of the situation.

"As you can see there are not enough toilets and bathrooms here so some
farmers go to Glen Norah where they are charged US$2 for a bath," he said.

"The authorities must provide mobile toilets before an outbreak of diseases
here."

Agnes Marowa of Centenary said most farmers do their ablutions in the bushy
area just outside the premises of the auction floors.

Just a few metres away, vendors could be seen serving food to hungry farmers
even though there was no running water.

Chances of the farmers contracting water-borne diseases such as cholera and
typhoid are very high considering the absence of enough running water at a
place where thousands gather every day.

They sleep in the open, or under any available shelter like verandas and in
cars.

But a security guard, who mans the premises, said at least 100 people were
arrested every single day for pick-pocketing, stealing and at times muggings
during the night.

"I think the police should deploy more plainclothes police officers here
because a lot of farmers are going back home empty-handed," said the
security guard.

"The thieves are so daring that they at times challenge us."

Prostitution has also become rampant at the two auction floors.

Even young girls in their teens are commuting from as far as Chitungwiza,
Norton, Hatcliffe and Epworth in search of clients.

They have a unique way of identifying potential clients who can easily
splash out money. "I don't just go for anybody," said a 24-year-old woman
who identified herself as Elleanor.

"I go for those with huge jackets, a bag and usually with hats because I
know they are farmers and have the money to pay me."

They charge an average of US$30 for a "quickie" (short-time) and between
US$100 and US$150 for the whole night.

This, health officials at Hopley said, has resulted in the high incidence of
sexually transmitted infections (STIs) at the compound as most of the
farmers are quite happy to forego the use of condoms on "beautiful city
girls".

Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board chief executive officer Andrew Matibiri
referred all questions regarding the conditions at auction floors to Zitec,
which runs the place.

Efforts to get a comment from Zitec last week were fruitless.

BY CAIPHAS CHIMHETE AND NIGEL MATONGOERE


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Robert Mugabe’s dirty diamonds

http://www.timesonline.co.uk

April 4, 2010

Every day millions of dollars’ worth of diamonds leave Zimbabwe from the
world’s richest diamond field. But none of that money reaches the country's
desperate poor. Who are the men plundering a nation’s future?

Jon Swain

One night in February, eight men armed with AK-47 assault rifles raided the
Zimbabwe headquarters of a British-based diamond company. Overpowering its
four guards, they stole computers, files and a pick-up truck that they
dumped in a nearby hotel car park, its keys still in the ignition. Then they
vanished into the night as swiftly as they had come.

It was a raid carried out by hard men who knew their business and wanted
this to look like an ordinary robbery. They were not regular thieves,
however, but agents of the shadowy Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO),
and this was the latest development in a David-and-Goliath struggle that
pits one man against a cabal of corrupt figures at the summit of the
Zimbabwean state.

The outcome of the battle has international ramifications. At stake is the
unimaginable wealth to be had from the world’s oldest and, it is said,
richest diamond field, with the potential to bring in a billion dollars a
year. “Whoever owns the diamond field controls Zimbabwe and could buy any
country in Africa,” one western diplomat says.

Andrew Cranswick is the “David” whose offices — a modern two-storey building
enclosed by a high wall in an avenue close to the central police
headquarters and State House in Harare — were raided. The operation was
staged by the CIO to intimidate and discourage him from continuing his fight
to operate the diamond field. In 2006 Cranswick’s company, African
Consolidated Resources (ACR), set up by both white and black Zimbabweans,
was looking for new mining opportunities in Zimbabwe. It pegged a claim to
an abandoned, unexploited field, bought for a nominal sum on the chance of
finding diamonds there. Problems arose when diamonds were found.

The field is in southern Marange, a dry, barren, sparsely populated district
in the hills southeast of Harare, close to the Mozambique border. To his
surprise and delight, Cranswick discovered that the diamonds making up the
bulk of the find were not, as might have been expected, low-grade industrial
diamonds. Among them was a large proportion of valuable gem diamonds. But
his euphoria was short-lived. Zimbabwe’s Mines and Minerals Act demands that
those discovering valuable gem diamonds must declare the fact and give the
GPS position to the government. Within hours, CIO agents seized the
diamonds, worth US$6m, and Cranswick has not seen them since.

A white African adventurer — bronzed, rugged, totally at ease in the bush —
Cranswick, 47, does not scare easily. He was born in Zimbabwe and grew up on
a farm in the middle of nowhere during the Rhodesian war, which saw the end
of white minority rule and led to President Robert Mugabe’s rise to power in
1980. As a teenager he slept with a Sten gun under his bed.

Although the Zimbabwe High Court ruled in September that ACR clearly owns
the Marange field, Cranswick, the CEO, has a colossal fight on his hands to
get it back from the government. In February the Supreme Court ordered all
mining to cease pending a final ruling on ownership. Its judgment has been
ignored. Meanwhile, millions of dollars from the diamonds are being siphoned
off by President Mugabe, his diamond-loving wife, Grace, and their greedy
inner circle to enrich and entrench themselves in power a few years longer.
Mugabe’s circle has failed to give any of the profits from Cranswick’s
diamond field to their own impoverished state.

Since early 2009, Zimbabwe has had a unity government. But real power lies
with Mugabe and the security chiefs in control of the armed forces, police
and intelligence services. The government is powerless to stop this inner
circle. A parliamentary committee looking into operations in Marange was
snubbed for months. “The government has not received a cent from the biggest
find of alluvial diamonds in the history of mankind,” Tendai Biti, the
finance minister, has complained.Cranswick’s battle for justice is risky. In
March, the CIO raided his house and offices. He has received death threats.
Last year, a gang of Israeli diamond smugglers put out a contract on him to
make sure he did not get in the way of their supply of diamonds smuggled out
of Marange. Now, impeccable sources told me that beside his name in secret
government files is written the word “Bull-Bar” — CIO code for a person
designated to meet with a “road accident”. Cranswick has made light of it,
but this is no joke. A surprising number of Mugabe’s opponents have died in
strange road crashes in the past 30 years. Cranswick is on guard not to
become another victim. But he also says he is not going to lose sleep over
it. Risk is part and parcel of living and working in Zimbabwe. It goes with
a certain freedom he likes, which he knows he could not have elsewhere.

What extra precautions will he take? “Check my car regularly and drive
faster,” he said. His colleagues raised their eyes to the ceiling. He
already has a legendary appetite for speed.

“Andrew is the classic entrepreneur personality,” said one. “He’s very
bright. His brain is very agile and he’s also a bullish, couldn’t-give-a-shit,
don’t-stand-in-my-way type of person. Andrew is liked in the City [of
London] because he’s an Indiana Jones character. He knows how to drive
through obstacles that crop up in Africa, increasing shareholder value, and
they admire him.”

After training in geology, Cranswick worked for Anglo American in South
Africa, then settled in Mugabe’s independent Zimbabwe, got married and had
two daughters. Exploiting Zimbabwe’s emerging-market status and the tech
boom, he founded a group of IT companies, including the country’s first
commercial internet service provider, which he sold for a couple of million
dollars in 2000 at the height of the dotcom boom. He took his family to
Perth and bought and ran the biggest cattle ranch in Australia. But the lure
of Zimbabwe was too strong. Soon he was back home, involving himself in ACR,
the mineral exploration company he founded in 2003. He has based it in
Britain and listed it on the London Stock Exchange to attract foreign
investment.

Mutual friends in Zimbabwe had told me Cranswick had a fascinating story to
tell, and they were right. It was in a King’s Road coffee shop at the end of
2009 that I first heard his unlikely tale of coming upon the world’s richest
diamond field in an empty corner of Africa. Telling me how he had discovered
the diamonds and how destabilising for Zimbabwe the discovery could be, he
invited me to come and see for myself. In the event, it was not possible to
get into Marange, as security forces blocked our way. But I soon saw how
easy it was to buy diamonds smuggled out of the mine.

In January, within minutes of checking into a hotel at Manica, a seedy town
a few miles over the border inside Mozambique crammed with black-market gem
dealers, I was offered a clear 11.66-carat diamond for $29,000 by one of
scores of Lebanese diamond dealers operating there. The man said smugglers
brought diamonds across the border daily hidden in their mouths. Nobody
cared that they were illegally mined.Cranswick had not initially expected
much to come of his claim at Marange: the mining giant De Beers had pulled
out of Zimbabwe, letting its claim on the field lapse — surely it would not
have turned its back on something big. But once he did a bit of work with
his geologists, Cranswick found precious diamonds scattered all over the
stony ground. To the untrained eye they looked like pebbles. They were so
common that children were using them in their catapults to shoot birds.

Zimbabwe was in the middle of an economic and humanitarian nightmare. Once
the breadbasket of southern Africa, under Mugabe it had descended into
joblessness and hunger. Astrono-mical inflation had destroyed its currency.
Corrupt politics had ruined it. As he drove to Marange in 2006, past vast
tracts of fertile farmland lying fallow as a result of Mugabe’s disastrous
land reforms, Cranswick could not help thinking how the wealth from the
diamonds could be used to turn the country around. Zimbabwe was the country
of his birth; he wanted it to succeed and he wanted to be part of the
success.

Within hours of Cranswick reporting his find, the telephone rang in his
Harare offices. It was someone from the CIO — whose chief, Happyton
Bonyongwe, owns a big farm near Marange taken from a white family —
demanding the surrender of the diamonds. They wrote a receipt, but
Crans-wick has not set eyes on the gems since, despite a Supreme Court order
for them to be returned. Worse was to come: the government cancelled ACR’s
title and banned it from the site, much as it had evicted white farmers from
their farms.

This was the moment Cranswick realised his discovery had opened a Pandora’s
box. He recounted the chaos that some of the most senior figures in the
regime then unleashed on Marange. Having evicted ACR, the government at
first encouraged a diamond rush open to anyone to boost its flagging
popularity: 35,000 people flocked to Marange from all over Zimbabwe and, as
word spread, from as far afield as West Africa, India, Pakistan and China to
mine or buy diamonds. Mining was primitive, involving digging by hand in
mud, sand and gravel, then panning with hand-held sieves. Chaos and violence
ensued as miners trampled over each other in the rush.

Millions of dollars’ worth of diamonds were smuggled out via Mozambique and
South Africa, then shipped to Europe, India and the Middle East for cutting
and polishing. It was an uncontrollable free-for-all. Police operations to
quell the smuggling targeted only the small players, leaving alone the
powerfully connected smugglers and buyers, who operated with impunity.

These so-called diamond barons were working for the personal accounts of a
select wealthy few, the sharks at the top of the military and security
services — people such as General Constantine Chiwenga, the ambitious,
thuggish army chief; Emmerson Mnangagwa, the wealthy defence minister;
Solomon Mujuru, a retired army general who commanded Mugabe’s guerrilla
forces during the war against white rule in the then Rhodesia, and his wife,
Joyce, Mugabe’s vice-president; Gideon Gono, governor of the central bank;
and Augustine Chihuri, the powerful police chief. And, of course, the
Mugabes themselves.

One example: in August 2008, a diamond dealer was caught by an over-zealous
policeman at a road block outside Marange with 262 diamonds valued at $1.3m
in his vehicle’s air cleaner. It was no surprise when he walked out of court
a free man after being cleared of any wrongdoing and with the magistrate
criticising the police for doing a shoddy job; he was operating for Mujuru.

In October 2008, diamond fever hit such a peak that a joint operation of the
army, police and intelligence officers was launched to take over the field.
Its real aim was to give the syndicates operated by the sharks free rein. By
this time the province of Manicaland in which Marange is located was in new
hands. Mugabe had appointed as governor Christopher Mushowe, his former
butler and a relative of his wife. Mushowe is part of the ring profiting
from the diamonds.

Dubbed Operation Hakudzokwi Kamunda (You Won’t Come Back), the crackdown
began on October 27 with military helicopters indiscriminately firing
automatic weapons to drive out the diggers. On the ground, hundreds of
soldiers opened fire without warning. In the panic miners were trapped and
died in the tunnels they had dug. In three weeks, more than 200 perished.

The police caught a girl who had been selling cigarettes to the panners.
Wanting to make an example of people who were helping out, they put her in a
circle and set their dogs on her. She was torn to pieces in front of her
parents, who were left to bury her remains. Some had their stomachs slashed
open by soldiers looking for stones. One man said he knew of 14 panners who
were shot dead in one morning. Survivors were forced to bury the dead in
mass graves.

The killings caused international outrage. Zimbabwe was accused of trading
in “blood diamonds”, which fuel conflict, and a campaign took root to ban
its diamonds from world markets. There were calls for Zimbabwe’s suspension
from the Kimberley Process certification scheme (KP) — a mechanism set up
with UN backing to prohibit the sale of blood diamonds. Angelina Jolie and
Brad Pitt called for a ban on any purchase or sale of Marange diamonds.

Any hope that referring Zimbabwe to the KP would bring about proper, legal
and secure management of the mine has proved unfounded, however. “The
Kimberley Process is well-meaning but toothless. It is easily bypassed if
good stones are on offer, and it can’t be relied on to bring the field into
proper management,” Cranswick said. “First of all it has to make sure there
is no smuggling, and to do that it needs at least 20 or 30 monitors driving
and flying around on a regular basis until the field is secured by a fence,
which it is not. It should be checking to see whether any diamonds are being
smuggled into Mozambique. The British perhaps could bring pressure.
Mozambique is a member of the Commonwealth now. Kimberley should be
monitoring the actual machinery at the mine and counting every single gem
that comes out of that machine at source before it has been fiddled with, so
that it can be accounted for.”

Returning to his own struggle, Cranswick notes that nothing in Zimbabwe is
ever black and white. He avoids getting involved in local politics, wanting
to retain the links he needs with members of Mugabe’s regime in order to
operate in the country. But he has kept going with his own legal battle.
Last September, he scented victory when he won a High Court judgment
declaring that the mineral rights of the diamond fields belonged to ACR and
ordering the state to return the ground and the seized diamonds.

Secret government documents obtained by The Sunday Times show that quite the
reverse happened. Cranswick’s long-drawn-out legal process had given Mugabe’s
lieutenants and their foreign backers — Chinese, Israelis, South Africans —
time to entrench their systems for keeping control of the fabulously rich
field. The old operation in which an ad hoc set of diggers plundered the
diamonds on their behalf amid general lawlessness has expanded into a new,
sophisticated money-making machine largely hidden from the eyes of the
world.

The documents set out the measures that are being taken. The Chinese army is
helping to construct a military airstrip on ACR’s field with a one-mile-long
runway capable of taking the biggest military transport planes. Armed
Chinese soldiers are on the site. There are shipping containers filled with
weapons. This move follows arms-purchasing visits by Chiwenga to China last
year. A tented army camp has been set up under a retired brigadier, and
millions have been invested in state-of-the-art mining machinery capable of
extracting thousands of carats of diamonds an hour. A sophisticated
operation is also in train to get the most valuable stones out of the
country. Stones worth $3m-$7m are smuggled out every day. The Chinese
embassy in Harare is involved in smuggling some out in the diplomatic bag,
according to Zimbabwe intelligence leaks, and one of the key figures is a
Chinese man with links to Grace Mugabe — all in defiance of the Supreme
Court’s order to halt all mining at Marange.

The figure at the centre of the operation comes as little surprise to those
who know him: the minister of mines, Obert Mpofu. His name is on an EU and
US sanctions list of undesirable Zimbabweans, and he loathes Cranswick,
blaming him for stirring up an embarrassing legal storm. “That man will
never mine in this country as long as I am minister. Cranswick has caused
all this chaos. His company is listed in Britain, yet he holds Zimbabwe to
ransom,” Mpofu says.

In July 2009, with top-level backing, Mpofu entered into joint ventures with
two questionable partners to exploit the field. It did not matter that
neither was an established professional mining company like ACR, nor that at
the time legal title to the mine was hotly disputed. “No background checks
and due diligences were allowed, as this was blocked by Honourable Mpofu,”
said a secret report I was shown. The paper also revealed that he had “paid
dividends to many officials to shut their mouths”; one deputy minister was
paid $10m.The first partner Mpofu found was the New Reclamation Group
(Reclam), operating through a subsidiary, Mbada Diamond Mining. South Africa’s
biggest scrap-metal company, Reclam has been prosecuted in South Africa for
illegal price-fixing. Its executive chairman, David Kassel, and Mpofu knew
each other from a fraudulent steel deal in Zimbabwe.

Mbada is chaired by Robert Mhlanga, a former Zimbabwe air vice-marshal. He
is Mpofu’s cousin, was also involved in the steel deal, and insiders say he
is acting as a front for the Mugabes. He has a close relationship with the
86-year-old president going back to when he was the country’s first black
helicopter pilot.

Mhlanga has made a fortune in Africa. He was in the diamond trade in Congo
in the late 1990s, when Zimbabwean troops fought in the war there. He was
also a key witness in an attempt in 2003 to frame the now prime minister
Morgan Tsvangirai, a fierce political opponent of Mugabe and now his
reluctant coalition partner, for treason. Operating from expensive offices
in Johannesburg, Mhlanga has such strong links to Mugabe that he flies his
helicopter in and out of Zimbabwe at will without passing the usual
immigration and customs controls. He parks his helicopter at the mine. He
has diplomatic status and direct access to Mugabe.

The second company Mpofu signed up to mine at Marange is Canadile Miners of
South Africa, which is believed to be smuggling out $1m-$2m of diamonds
every day. “Reclam have to pretend, because of their shareholders, that they
are squeaky clean and complying with the Kimberley Process,” says Cranswick,
“but Canadile are not interested. They are mostly smugglers and crooks who
want their diamonds and money, full stop.”

The registered director of Canadile is a retired Zimbabwean major, Lovemore
Kurotwi. Inside sources said he was primarily working for a military
syndicate that “goes all the way to Chiwenga”, the army chief. He is the
nephew of the late army chief General Vitalis Zvinavashe, a member of the
Zanu-PF politburo named by the UN as one of the main figures to profit from
the plunder of Congo’s diamond riches. He is also linked to Mnangagwa, the
defence minister.

The riches Mhlanga made in Congo are nothing compared with those being made
at Marange. I was told that his company, Mbada, is smuggling out gems worth
$2m-$5m every day. “Diamonds are airlifted to South Africa at unscheduled
times weekly,” said a secret government intelligence report of goings-on at
Marange. “Air Vice Marshal R Mhlanga airlifts the diamonds to South Africa.”

The report also sensationally revealed that Marange diamonds were sometimes
airlifted from Charles Prince Airport in Harare disguised as de-mining
equipment. “The mind boggles why they need a military-style airstrip on our
concession,” said Cranswick. “It must be for dubious purposes. After all,
the world’s entire production of diamonds in a single day can be carried in
one helicopter.” Mpofu has finally admitted to the parliamentary committee
investigating Marange that he was aware some of the directors of the two
companies mining there were involved in shady deals. “He said he had done
his research and this was the trend worldwide. The committee was fooling
itself by thinking it could get a clean diamond investor,” said a source who
attended the briefing by the minister, which was held in camera.

Cranswick claims he has repeatedly tried to negotiate a joint venture with
the government to extract and market the diamonds from Marange, but to no
avail. He has proposed a deal in which ACR would retain 49%; 2% or 3% would
be for the benefit of the local community; and the balance would be held by
whoever the government approves. “What is at stake is not just big profits
but the future of Zimbabwe. If the bad guys keep it, then it is the end of
the country. Now 100% of the gems are going out of the country. They are
selling none of them here in Zimbabwe.”

Zimbabwe is not Sierra Leone, where diamonds brought war, warlords and
terrible atrocities. But unless it can be stopped, the great theft of
diamonds from Marange heralds a darkening future for Zimbabwe, with billions
of dollars lost to the nation’s coffers and potential funding for a future
military coup in place.

Comment

 David Ashton wrote:
How's this for bad luck for Zimbabwe. Mugabe is being brought to his knees
and then he gets hold of this fabulously rich diamond mine. There's no hope
of getting him out now. The world won't do anything. South Africa won't do
anything. He's got free rein, and any sanctions are but a minor annoyance.
As pointed out above, diamonds are easy to sell through dubious channels.
Andrew has no hope of getting his concession back.
April 4, 2010 12:15 AM BST on community.timesonline.co.uk
 


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Malema gets cosy with 'business sharks' in Zim

http://www.timeslive.co.za

Apr 4, 2010 12:00 AM | By Harare Correspondent
ANC Youth League (ANCYL) leader Julius Malema will be roped in to cut deals
in Zimbabwe - mainly in farming and mining - say party insiders of Robert
Mugabe's Zanu-PF.

Malema was received with much fanfare by a group of Zanu-PF-linked
businessmen when he arrived in Harare this weekend. Most of those who
welcomed him are campaigning for the state seizure of foreign-owned
companies.

Zanu-PF insiders believe Malema's visit was motivated as much by business as
by politics.

A Zanu-PF official told the Sunday Times: "Look at the people who were at
the forefront of receiving Malema. They are not in the Zanu-PF Youth
League - some of them are not even in Zanu-PF - but (they) are in business.
This tells you what they are up to and what will be going on behind the
scenes.

"They are like vultures hovering over a cadaver. Malema is going to be
dealing with business sharks, not those party youths who have no money."

When Malema arrived at the airport, Zanu-PF youths sang a variation of the
contentious song Dubul'ibhunu (Shoot the boer).

The welcoming party included the head of Youth Development, Indigenisation
and Empowerment, Saviour Kasukuwere, Mugabe's nephew; business magnate
Philip Chiyangwa; and Themba Mliswa, a tycoon who has been involved in
seizing farms and muscling his way into established businesses.

Kasukuwere and Chiyangwa said Malema was visiting Zimbabwe to exchange notes
on "indigenisation" and economic transformation.

However, the ANCYL said the visit - hosted by the Zanu-PF Youth - was about
"strengthening relations with former liberation movements".

Kasukuwere said: "This visit is about forces with a common history coming
together to ensure that we take control of our resources for the benefit of
the majority.

"Our resources cannot remain under the control of Anglo American, Zimplats
and the Australians."

Malema is set to visit Zimplats - which is majority-owned by South Africa's
Implats - on what Zanu-PF said was "a familiarisation tour".

The company has sought assurances that it will not be grabbed by Mugabe's
cronies.

Malema is expected to meet Mugabe today.
 


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Zimbabwe artist defies Robert Mugabe

http://www.guardian.co.uk
 

Owen Maseko says his paintings of 1980s brutality are an attempt to help the country heal itself

 
Artist Owen Maseko

Artist Owen Maseko is charged in Zimbabwe with 'undermining the authority of' President Robert Mugabe.    

One of Zimbabwe's most prominent artists has defied Robert Mugabe's regime in a hard-hitting interview with the Observer as he awaits trial for "undermining the authority of the president".

Owen Maseko, whose latest exhibition has been closed down by the authorities, said a failure to confront the past is preventing the country from healing itself, after 30 years of brutal rule by President Robert Mugabe.

Speaking after spending four nights in police cells, Maseko, 35, said: "There are mass graves in our country. If people are to move on, they need to rebury their brothers, sisters and mothers in peace."

Maseko was arrested less than 24 hours after his new exhibition opened at the National Gallery in Bulawayo. The move marked the second clampdown in a week on artistic activity in Zimbabwe, suggesting that a new offensive against freedom of expression is under way.

Maseko's works - three installations and 12 paintings, many featuring violent recollections of the murder of up to 20,000 Ndebele people in the south of the country in the 1980s - are now locked out of view. Police have used newspapers to cover windows through which "Two Dissidents" - figures of a man and a woman hanging upside down - could be seen from the street.

Maseko is charged with undermining the president's authority, under the Public Order and Security Act. The eight officers who interrogated him for 12 hours after he was arrested nine days ago wanted to know his political affiliation. "I explained that, as an artist, I have to be relevant to the society I live in," he said. "I do not have political motivations, just inspiration. If I express a burning issue inside myself, I am healing myself and I am helping others to be healed, because I am bringing into the open a topic that people are afraid to talk about."

Maseko's exhibition is called Sibathontisele (Let's Drip On Them), an allusion to blood, but also to the form of torture using burning plastic that was institutionalised during the Gukurahundi military offensive against Ndebele civilians in the 1980s.

The Gukurahundi - a Shona word for the spring rains that sweep away dry season chaff - was Mugabe's response to the rivalry after independence in 1980 between his Zimbabwe African National Union (Zanu) and Joshua Nkomo's Zimbabwe African People's Union (Zapu). Mugabe is a Shona, whereas Nkomo was from the Kalanga, a tribe associated with the Ndebele from Matabeleland, whose capital is Bulawayo. Mugabe destroyed Nkomo's power by terrorising the people of Matabeleland. Eventually Nkomo retired from politics and the two parties merged into the Zanu-Patriotic Front.

"I was eight in 1983, but I remember a plane that flew low over our Bulawayo suburb and army loud-hailers screaming: 'You are surrounded.' Every family in Matabeleland has painful memories from this time and everyone knows people who disappeared," said Masuko. "The soldiers organised mass executions and burned people in their homes. They forced others to watch and made them sing Shona songs. That's the subject of my painting, Babylon Songs."

The artist is due to appear in court on 12 April. He is appealing to the high court for permission to reopen the exhibition. One of his starkest installations is a reflection of the artist's despairing view of elections: "It is called Ballot Room and shows a Perspex ballot box with a toilet inside filled with Ndebele names."

In February 2009, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) joined a unity government, promising to oversee the drafting of a new constitution leading to free elections. Attacks against MDC supporters continue, however. Two days before Maseko's exhibition was due to open, police briefly confiscated 66 photographs from an exhibition organised by the human rights organisation ZimRights, in Harare.

Maseko said: "The climate for artists is difficult, complicated. Many have been tremendously supportive of me, but many are watching to see what happens. We do now have a debate under way around the new constitution and, as a result of what is happening to artists, discussions around the issue of censorship have now been launched.

"Despite what has happened to me, this feels very liberating."


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Future Generations Will 'Inherit Only the Wind'

http://www.ipsnews.net

By Ignatius Banda

BULAWAYO, Apr 3, 2010 (IPS) - The plumes of smoke rising above the dense
working class suburbs of Bulawayo are a sign of the environmental impact of
Zimbabwe's electricity crisis.

In January, the Hwange Thermal Power Station broke down. Zimbabwe
Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) spokeperson Fullard Gwasira announced
that the country's power supply had dropped to just 750 megawatts, barely a
third of Zimbabwe's peak demand for 2,200 MW.

Faced with frequent power cuts, millions of people across the country have
increasingly turned to wood as an alternative energy source, to cook and
heat their homes during the winter.

Deforestation is not a new phenomenon in Zimbabwe. The country lost more
than 20 percent of its forest cover between 1990 and 2005, an average loss
of 312,900 hectares, according to statistics compiled by environment website
Mongabay from a variety of sources including the the United Nation's
Environment Programme and the Food and Agriculture Organisation.

Still more alarming, the rate of forest loss accelerated by 16 percent
between 2000 and 2005 as political and economic crisis gripped the country.

The controversial land reform exercise that began in 2000, which saw
veterans of the 1970s war of liberation occupy many large farms owned by
Zimbabwe's white minority, has contributed to reduced agricultural yields
and environmental degradation.

Two or three times a week, James Chulu hires a donkey-drawn cart to tour the
small farming plots in areas on the outskirts of Bulawayo to buy wood for
sale in the city. Conservationists say the new occupiers of land in areas
like Nyamandlovu and Plumtree are felling trees without replanting anything
for the next generation.

"They have been selling us the firewood for sometime now," Chulu said. "But
after ZESA began cutting electricity for hours (at a time) last year, the
demand has gone up and we have virtually stripped the woodlands."

Thabilise Gumpo, of conservation group Environment Africa, is just one of
many concerned observers.

"We will be left with no forests or trees and one has to imagine the deserts
we are creating in the process all because of the electricity outages," she
told IPS. "But it is difficult (to raise objections) when this is the only
energy source the people have. The environment has been the worst casualty
here."

So severely depleted is the supply of wood, that residents have begun to
sacrifice precious fruit trees. Judith Mwale, a widow and grandmother whose
face and posture betray 60 years of toil, can't afford the wood sold by
vendors like Chulu, one U.S. dollar for a bundle of three small pieces.

"I had no choice but ask some young men in the neighbourhood to chop down
the trees. How else would I prepare my meals and feed these children?" Mwale
asked.

"What can we do?" Chulu says, shrugging his shoulders. He and Mwale both
exemplify a common local attitude that the environment will take care of
itself.

But environment activist Gumpo fears that future generations will "inherit
the wind."

"It is a difficult gospel to preach," she says of conservation, at a time
when a broke government is both failing to maintain its own generating
facilities or to settle huge electricity bills for power imported from
neighbouring South Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia.

Chulu can't wait for another power cut. For him it remains business as
usual.

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