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Mugabe’s absence creates anxiety

Sunday, 08 April 2012 12:07

Our Staff

President Robert Mugabe’s week-long absence has added to speculation about
his health, but his party maintains he is in good health. Mugabe reportedly
went to Singapore to oversee university postgraduate studies arrangements
for his daughter Bona, but this has not helped quell speculation that the
president had health issues to contend with.

Questions have been raised as to whether it was necessary for Mugabe to
personally oversee Bona’s registration or aides could have done that on his

That Mugabe favours South-East Asia for his medical treatments has also
heightened speculation, with some saying the registration story was a ruse,
with the president actually visiting Singapore for health reasons.

Mugabe’s spokesman, George Charamba, said the nation would know when the
president returned, as his itinerary could not be made public for security

But MDC-T youth assembly secretary general, Promise Mkwananzi said Mugabe’s
lengthy absence was cause for concern.

“His absence is causing great uncertainty in the country,” he said.

“Zimbabweans need to know what is happening with their president.”

His counterpart in the MDC, Discent Bajila, said Mugabe’s visit to Singapore
was obviously going to raise speculation about his health, as this was a
carefully kept secret.

“His absence, because of his health, is a concern for the country, as the
Cabinet does not sit when he is away,” he said.

Bajila said if indeed Mugabe had gone for treatment, then maybe it was time
for the veteran leader to step aside.

Gabriel Chaibva, a political analyst linked to Zanu PF, said he was loath to
discuss the president’s health with The Standard, claiming the paper had a
sinister agenda.

“This is getting monotonous,” he charged. “I am reluctant to talk to you
because I feel you have an agenda. each time the president leaves the
country, you raise speculation.”

Zanu PF was last week due to hold a special politburo meeting to discuss
what they deemed to be a deliberate slowing-down of the constitution-making

The party was also supposed to make a definitive stand on when it wants
elections held, but the meeting had to be postponed as Mugabe was away.

Mugabe’s trips to the Far East have often raised speculation. Just over a
year ago, it was rumoured that Mugabe was unwell and had gone to Singapore,
only for it to emerge that it was actually his wife Grace, who needed
medical attention.

Mugabe also frequented Singapore last year, with his party maintaining that
he had gone there for a cataract operation and there was no need to fear for
his health.

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Chefs behind looting of Marange diamonds?

Sunday, 08 April 2012 11:29

WHILE Zimbabwe prepares to bask in the sparkle of diamonds, leakages remain
a headache for the sector, with allegations that people in positions of
power may be benefitting from the illicit trade. Recently, an Israeli pilot
was caught with US$2 million worth of diamonds, while last year diamonds
worth a similar amount were found in India.

This has raised questions on the security of the gemstones.

Farai Maguwu of the Centre for Research and Development, reckons the problem
lies in the transportation and storage of the gemstones.

He said diamonds are usually stored in packages of about US$2 million and it
was a striking coincidence that in both high-profile smuggling cases,
minerals of a related value were recovered.

“The volume of diamonds that were found in India last year is similar to
this one that was allegedly being smuggled out of the country by the Israeli
and this raises suspicion,” Maguwu said.

He said it was highly unlikely that the diamonds could have been smuggled
out of the Marange diamond fields, as the security was “water-tight”, but
instead pointed a wagging finger at the storage facilities in Harare.

“There is no way 1 300 pieces could have been picked up from Marange,”
Maguwu said. “Such volumes can only be taken from where there are stored.”

He alleged that a hidden hand, with access to the diamonds and with both
political and financial muscle, was stoking the illicit trade in the

Moses Mare, who chairs a parliamentary portfolio committee on mines, echoed
the same sentiments, saying there were some shenanigans he did not

“There is an anomaly in the transportation of diamonds from Marange to
Harare, because for instance, you hear that a company sorts 20 000 carats in
an hour yet only 4 000 carats are delivered in Harare,” he said. “There is a
black hole somewhere.”

Mare, who recently led the portfolio committee tour to Marange, said there
was something sinister happening at the diamond fields, particularly with
one of the mining companies.

“When we got there, they told everyone to leave and only the chief security
officer who could not answer our questions remained,” he said.

“Something is not right. I believe the Anti Corruption Commission should
descend on Chiadzwa. They will discover no less US$1 billion worth of

Mare believes the diamonds uncovered at the airport were only the tip of the
iceberg, as some gemstones could have been smuggled through borders,
particularly those that are reportedly found in Mozambique.

Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena would not be drawn to comment on the
leakages, saying security at the mines and during transportation was the
duty of the respective mining houses.

“It is the responsibility of the companies, we work with them when it comes
to tracing the leakages but it is their duty,” he said. “Already they work
with our minerals unit.”

Zimbabwe has pinned its hopes of economic growth on Marange diamonds, but
Finance minister, Tendai Biti says the gemstones are not performing.

He has often clashed with the Minister if Mines and Mining Development,
Obert Mpofu, on the little revenue that Treasury gets from diamonds.

Recently Mpofu said the arrest of the Israeli showed that the government was
committed to plugging leakages.

“The fact that we are arresting these people shows how diligent and strict
we are with such people, because of the strictness government puts into
diamond movement,” he said.

Masimirembwa suspects De Beer is behind leakages

Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation boss, Goodwills Masimirembwa said
they were working on cutting on leakages, but suggested that the leaked
diamonds could have been taken out of the country by De Beers, which was
exploring in Marange before the government came in.

“If you look closely at both these cases, the diamonds emanated from South
Africa and we cannot rule out the involvement of De Beers,” he said.

Masimirembwa said De Beers had been removing diamonds over a long period and
questioned whether these were not the gemstones on the market. De Beers has
in the past disputed allegations raised by government that it was looting

The company said its operations in Marange were above board.

Masimirembwa disputed that leakages could have emanated from the
transportation of the gemstones, as the police and the Zimbabwe Revenue
Authority (Zimra) were also involved.

But Masimirembwa conceded that the mining fields were vast and it was
difficult for the companies to police the whole area. This, he said, could
result in some gemstones finding their way onto the parallel market.

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Final draft of constitution expected this week

Sunday, 08 April 2012 11:35

THE Constitution Select Committee (Copac) says the completion of the draft
constitution is well on course, with a final revision of all the chapters
expected to be completed by Tuesday this week. Copac co-chairperson, Douglas
Mwo-nzora, said the revision of 12 out of the 17 chapters was completed last
Thursday, while the remaining chapters would be concluded by mid-week, in
time for the publication of the final draft by the end of the month. He said
Chapter 5, which deals with the principles of devolution, was merged with
Chapter 14, which outlines the structures of devolution, and sets out the
criteria for selecting provincial governments and their jurisdiction.

“We have unpacked devolution. It will be in the constitution in accordance
with the wishes of the people,” said Mwonzora.

President Robert Mugabe told the annual meeting of traditional chiefs in
Bulawayo last month that the country was too small to be divided into
“pieces”, while describing devolution as divisive. His spokesperson, George
Charamba, has also questioned some clauses in the draft constitution saying
they sought to relegate Zimbabwe from its sovereign status to a non-State
government by foreign laws. Charamba said the devolution being pushed in the
draft constitution was impossible in a unitary state and suggested that its
proponents were advocating for future secession.

Meanwhile Mwonzora, who is also the MDC-T spokesperson, said his party was
dismayed by the upsurge in cases of violence across the country being
targeted at mostly the poor and supporters of his party.

Cases of violence in the last month have been reported in Mbare,
Sunningdale, Zaka, Bikita and Sanyati. Mwonzora said a senior Zanu PF
official linked to the Mbare militia outfit, Chipangano, recently uttered
statements ostensibly threatening Marondera Central MP, Ian Kay and “the
whites in Marondera” with death.

He said the MDC takes such threats seriously as more than 200 of its members
were murdered in 2008 in the run up to the bloody June Presidential election

“We call on the Police to arrest the official and charge him with
threatening the peace of Marondera residents, threatening a person with
death, and for promoting terrorism,” said Mwonzora.

He said suspected Zanu PF supporters who torched centenarian headman Zimunya
Muonde’s homestead and farming equipment in Bikita recently should also be
arrested as the culprits were well-known in the area.

The MDC-T spokesperson said the coalition government should deal with the
issue of violence before elections are held. Zanu PF has insisted that
elections will be held this year, with or without a new constitution.

“The issue for the MDC has never been when an election will be held but the
conditions under which those elections must be held,” said Mwonzora.

“The MDC’s position is that elections can only be done in terms of the
Global Political Agreement. Importantly, the President must agree with the
Prime Minister on the date of an election.”

Election roadmap must be respected: Mwonzora

Mwonzora reiterated his party’s position that the election must follow the
roadmap adopted by the negotiators and Sadc facilitator, President Jacob
Zuma of South Africa.

He also said political parties in the inclusive government must allow the
constitution-making process to be completed and called for an end to all
forms of state sponsored violence while legislative reforms, including media
and security sector reforms, must be made.

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Zela blames govt over poor mining contracts

Sunday, 08 April 2012 11:33

GWERU — The Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (Zela) has accused
government of failing to negotiate contracts that benefit local communities
when awarding foreign-owned co-mpanies mining rights. Zela is a local
organisation that promotes rights of poor communities to drive economic
benefits from natural resources found in their areas and fights against
exploitation by multinational and domestic companies involved in the
extraction of such resources.

Mutuso Dhliwayo, director of Zela, said the poorly negotiated contracts have
failed to unlock value to the country and thereby failing to add value to
the communities.

“The contracts are poorly negotiated and do not benefit the country and the
communities, yet the mining companies are looting the resources.”

He attributed the problem to the old and archaic legal framework governing
the mining sector.

“The Mines and Mineral Act of 1961 is an old colonial act which can no
longer address socio-cultural, environmental and economic issues associated
with mining in the modern day. We need a new act and the 1961 Act has to go
as of yesterday.”

He said negotiations ofthe contracts must be done with input from
parliament, communities and other stakeholders.

Zela projects coordinator Gilbert Makore applauded the Community Ownership
Scheme Trusts but was quick to add that a lot more still needed to be done
for communities to benefit from such projects.

The scheme is a government initiative to empower rural communities by giving
them a 10% stake in companies that exploit natural resources in their areas.
— By  Rutendo  Mawere

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Lupane gas project fails to lure investors

Sunday, 08 April 2012 11:22

FIVE years after the government declared Lupane coal-bed methane gas a
priority project, an investor is yet to be found. Mines minister, Obert
Mpofu, conceded that Zimbabwe stood to benefit if the gas was exploited, but
would not explain the delay in finding an investor.

“The main challenge has been securing investors for the deposits and it is a
large area from Lupane to Botswana so serious investments are to be made. We
stand to benefit in a lot of areas, estimated revenue of up to a billion
dollars and commodities like fertiliser, petrol and power generation,” he

Industry experts say the Hwange area holds vast deposits of coal-bed methane
gas — some of it estimated to be 95% pure methane — hidden between Hwange
and neighbouring Botswana.

In 2007, the government declared the exploration of the gas project a
priority area, but to date no meaningful development has taken place in the

Critics blame policy instability and indigenisation laws for driving out
investors, leaving the Lupane project in limbo.

“One of the country’s biggest challenges has been the Indigenisation and
Economic Empowerment Act, which is deterring potential investors in such
projects. This case could also be one whereby the government is lax since it’s
not as lucrative as the diamond industry,” said one economist who requested

But Mpofu chose to differ, arguing that he was not aware of any investor who
had been driven out because of the indigenisation programme.

“It’s just a myth that the Indigenisation Act discouraged investors from
investing in mining activities. Countries around us all have indigenisation
clauses one way or another in their economies. Even America has an
indigenisation policy. This is clearly the work of people who hate the way
we run our country,” he added.

Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor, Gideon Gono, has warned the country
might lose out on its rich coal-bed methane gas reserves as Botswana has
already started tapping into the shared resource.

Last October, Energy and Power Development deputy minister, Hubert
Nyanhongo, also hinted that the gas was escaping through holes drilled by an
unnamed French firm, which abandoned exploration five years ago.

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Hunger ravages Zimbabwe’s dry regions

Sunday, 08 April 2012 11:19


Nendanga shakes his head as he watches his wilting crop from the shade of
his hut.

The 45-year-old man cannot stomach another year of drought as it entails
starvation for his family, unless donor organisations come to his rescue. He
has already lost hope of harvesting any crops from his sandy field.

“I have decided to have my cattle and goats feed on the wilting crops so
that at least they can gain weight for the meantime,” said Nendanga.

He is one of the thousands of villagers in Buhera district in Manicaland
province who have resigned to fate and have driven their livestock to graze
on the wilting crops.

Some of the villagers are stocking the crops to feed their livestock later
when all the grass is gone.

“If we don’t do that all our livestock would die this year,” said Amos
Chiteke, another villager.

When The Standard toured the area recently, the temperatures were
unbearable, forcing most villagers to seek shelter under shades of trees and
huts.Even the usually energetic and playful children could not dare brave
the sweltering heat.

A local Arex official Robson Masaiti said even drought resistant crops that
have been recommended for the areas also wilted this year.

“For the past three years we have been experiencing food shortages,” said
Masaiti. “But this time it is serious because even some crops like sorghum
and millet also failed.”

He said the district was also likely to experience serious water and
pastures shortage.

“From the look of things, our water sources are not full and the pastures
are not enough and very soon livestock will be in danger in this district,”
said Masaiti.

MP for Buhera South, Naison Nemadziva said he has started working with the
district administrator to source food for the people in the constituency.

“There is no need to hire agriculture experts to tell us that this is
another year of drought and I have already talked to the district
administrator about that,” said Nemadziva. He said most villagers were
travelling as far as Chivhu and Wedza to  fetch maize or to do piece jobs
for food.

Councillor of ward 20 in Chimanimani district, Zekias Nhachi, said food that
is being provided by government has been hijacked by Zanu PF militia, who
are distributing it only to their party supporters.

“We have people here who are going to bed without eating anything these
days,” said Nhachi. “The situation is really serious. We need food aid here
as a matter of urgency.”

Food shortages is Masvingo could further be worsened by the recent ban of 29
non-governmental organisations that were operating in the province.

Already, villagers are feeling the pinch of the ban as some families are
surviving on one meal a day.

The United Nations estimates 1,5 million people need food aid in the
country. The number of people who need food assistance may increase as most
parts of the country received poor rains.

Crop assessment statistics

A crop assessment carried by the Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanisation and
Irrigation Development in February this year showed that about 498 144 ha,
which represented 30% of the total area planted to maize, was a write off.

“The maize crop in the southern parts of the country such as Masvingo,
Matabeleland South and some parts of Matabeleland North were showing signs
of temporary and permanent wilting,” says the report. “Stunted growth was
evident in Masvingo and Matabeleland South due to lack of rainfall.”

The assessment report says a total of 1 689 608 ha had been planted to maize
compared to 2 096 034 ha during the 2010-11 planting season. This is a
decrease of 19%.

“This decrease is attributed mainly to the late onset of the season in most
parts and dry conditions which prevailed on the southern provinces in
January 2012,” says the report.

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Political violence cases on the increase

Sunday, 08 April 2012 11:11

JUST for receiving a donation of a 10kg bag of seed from the MDC-T, an
80-year-old grandfather is living in fear for his life and that of his
family. Village headman Muranganwa, whose real name is Zimunya Muonde, of
Bikita district in Masvingo province recently survived two arson attacks
from suspected Zanu PF militia and war veterans after they accused him of
accepting a donation from “sellouts”.

A third attack, which was carried out within a space of days, was directed
at his son Vikirayi’s homestead.

“We rue why the night falls because that is when our troubles begin,”
Muranganwa’s wife Nyevero, said a fortnight ago.

“We are living in fear because the assailants have been repeating the arson
attacks, from Wednesday when my son’s huts were torched, then Thursday at my
homestead, before they struck  again Saturday.”

She added: “We have not slept for the past five days.”

Such is the fear that has gripped most parts of the country as
politically-motivated violence increases with Zanu PF pushing for polls with
or without a new constitution that sets minimum conditions for free and fair

President Robert Mugabe appears to have raised political emotions when he
declared recently that elections would be held this year. Talk of elections
reminds Zimbabweans of the bloody violence that engulfed the country during
the 2008 polls, in which the MDC-T claims 200 of its supporters were
murdered by Zanu PF militia and state security agents.

The Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP), a local human rights organisation,
confirmed the surge in cases of politically-motivated human rights
violations in the past two months. It recorded about 800  such cases.

In its latest report, ZPP said 89 cases were recorded in Manicaland, down
from 94 in January, with one death registered after Zanu PF supporters
assaulted one of their own.

The bulk of cases in the province occurred during the week of Mugabe’s 88th
birthday celebrations. Commuter omnibus operators were forced to divert from
their usual routes to ferry people to Mugabe’s bash venue, without payment.

“The increase can be directly linked to rising political tensions as a
result of the move to push for elections this year,” ZPP wrote. “Cases of
politically-motivated violations remain high and the atmosphere has remained
volatile in the Midlands, Manicaland and Masvingo provinces with a
significant rise in Mashonaland West Province.”

An MDC-T activist, Rhinos Musareva from Zaka West, was abducted and
assaulted by suspected Zanu PF militia and war veterans last month before
being handed over to the police where he was charged for theft.

Zaka West MP Festus Dumbu confirmed the abduction of Musareva, who is the
constituency’s secretary for defence and security.

“He was taken in handcuffs to a homestead of Mr Tsvana, a Zanu PF activist,
where he was severely assaulted and dragged around the yard. They also used
burning firewood with which they tortured him during the assault,” Dumbu

In Chipinge South, MDC-T supporters were threatened with death by suspected
Zanu PF youth militia after they wore party regalia and chanted slogans at a
colleague’s funeral.

MDC-T spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora expressed dismay at the upsurge of
violence across the country. He said most of the cases recorded were at the
instigation of Zanu PF, adding that perpetrators of violence should be

“We have received reports of politically-motivated murders in Zaka, cases of
arson and also psychological violence whereby Zanu PF militia constantly
instill fear in citizens, especially the poor, like vegetable vendors, by
reminding them of what they did to them in 2008,” said Mwonzora. “We urge
the police to investigate all cases related to violence and human rights
abuses in order to bring the culprits to book.”

Mwonzora said MDC-T supporters in drought-hit regions such as Manicaland and
Masvingo provinces, were also being denied food assistance.

“We have also received reports of deprivation of food to some citizens in
rural areas and this is a form of violence,” said Mwonzora.

Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo said he could not comment on cases of
violence and human rights abuses as they were handled by Jomic.

Police spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena said it was difficult to comment on the
issue as police “cases are just treated as cases and not classified as
political or human rights abuses”.

MDC representative in Jomic, Qhubani Moyo, said violence and human rights
abuses had declined since the formation of the coalition government. He
however added that sporadic cases were being reported from various parts of
the country.

“There are remnants of Zanu PF militia and militants who remain resistant to
the new order but we hope they will start respecting the law soon,” said

Chipanagano terror in Sunningdale

Political violence has also engulfed urban areas, the MDC-T’s political
stronghold. A Zanu PF-aligned militia group, Chipangano, continues to
terrorise people who do not support the former liberation war party in Mbare
and Sunningdale suburbs.

The group recently extended its political influence to Mashonaland East
province where it issued death threats to Iain Kay “and the whites in
Marondera” querying why a white person was elected legislator in a largely
black community.

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Petroleum companies duping motorists

Sunday, 08 April 2012 11:41

THOUSANDS of unsuspecting motorists in the country are coughing up more for
a product which costs less on the market as some petroleum companies and
service stations in the country are clandestinely importing blended fuel,
but selling it as unleaded petrol. Tests done by the University of Zimbabwe’s
Chemistry department  recently show that some of the fuel which has found
itself at the country’s service stations was already blended, yet motorists
are made to believe it is unleaded petrol which costs more.

“From the respective peak retention times and chromato-graphric profiles
(laboratory technique to separate mixtures), it was evident that the samples
provided were a petrol blend, whose constituents were typical of that
material,” reads findings of the analysis.

The tests show that some of the so-called unleaded petrol carries between 3
to 10% ethanol.

Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (Zera) chief executive officer, Gloria
Magombo said if there were companies purporting to be selling unleaded
petrol, this would be in contravention of the fuel specifications as
stipulated in the Government Gazette, General Notice 430 of 2011 published
on October 14 last year.

Although oil companies contacted by The Standard were not eager to comment
on the issue referring questions to the National Oil Company of Zimbabwe
(Noczim), sources in the industry said the trend has been going on for many

A Noczim official who spoke on condition of anonymity said some of the
companies were buying cheap and sometimes poor quality blended fuel from
“pirate” ships docked at Beira port in Mozambique and transporting the
product by road instead of using the pipeline which is subjected to tests by

He said the country could be losing millions of dollars in customs duty
every month as some of the fuel tankers coming into the country were falsely
declaring that they were bringing in paraffin or diesel which attracts less
duty, yet they would be carrying petrol.

“This is why some fuel importers are resisting using the oil pipeline
preferring to use the road because they  connive with corrupt customs
officials in order to  beat the system and maximise their profits,” said the

“At the end of the day, it is the country which suffers because millions of
dollars in potential revenue which should otherwise be used to buy food or
medicine end up being pocketed by a few individuals who are

Minister of Energy and Power Development, Elton Mangoma said although he was
not yet aware of the tests done by the UZ,  Zera was now handling all the
issues to do with the quality of fuel coming into the country.

He said regular tests were being carried out on fuel coming through the
pipeline, but it was difficult to monitor tankers  bringing the product by

“That is why we have put a levy to penalise importers bringing fuel using
tankers. It becomes difficult to know what they are up to and determine
whether their product is good or sub-standard,” said Mangoma. He said it was
much cheaper to use the pipeline than tankers which damage the country’s

Nothing wrong with Green fuel

An industry source said some fuel companies were not eager to promote E10,
the locally blended ethanol produced by the US$600 million Green Fuel’s
Chisumbanje plant because they knew that their fuel was already blended.

E10 currently costs about US$1,39 while unleaded costs around US$1,44.

An engineer with one oil company said the current resistance to E10 stemmed
from lack of knowledge by motorists who believe that the product would
damage their vehicles.

“In reality the market has been awash with ethanol blended fuel which
motorists have been unknowingly using for the past 20 years,” he said. “Fuel
marketers do not want to tell motorists that E10 is safe and a good
alternative because they want people to continue paying more.”

But the Zera boss said the fuel body was working closely with National Oil
Infrastructure Company (Noic), a subsidiary of Noczim, which carries out
quality checks on fuel which is largely being imported through the pipeline
from Beira.

“The fuel is tested before injection into the pipeline and Nioc approves or
rejects any fuel that does not meet the minimum specifications,” Magombo
said, adding that random tests were also taken at service stations.

She said the proposed mandatory blending of petrol with ethanol was a policy
issue which was currently being addressed by the government, with Zera’s
role being to ensure that all stakeholder interests and concerns are

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‘Diesel n’anga’ released from prison

Sunday, 08 April 2012 11:47

NOMATTER Tagarira alias Rotina Mavhunga, who made headlines in 2007 after
misleading President Robert Mugabe and other prominent Zanu (PF) politicians
that she had powers to extract diesel from a rock, was recently released
from prison and is now a Christian. An official at Chinhoyi Prison
identified as Chaplain Ngulube confirmed Mavhunga’s release on March 29 this

“Indeed she is now a converted believer and is attending AFM church after
our preaching sessions at the prison,” said Ngulube. “She has asked for
prayers to strengthen her as she doesn’t want to be associated with other
witchdoctors who may want to harm her.”

Mavhunga was sentenced in 2010 to 27 months in prison for defrauding the
state and misrepresenting to government officials that petroleum was oozing
from a rock at Maningwa Hills in Chinhoyi.

High-ranking Cabinet ministers at the time formed a special committee tasked
by President Robert Mugabe to look into the diesel find. These were the
Minister of Defence, Sydney Sekeramayi, Minister of Home Affairs, Kembo
Mohadi and Security minister, Didymus Mutasa.

However, Mavhunga at the time told the enthralled ministers that she was
under instruction from the spirit of one “Sekuru Dombo” to discover more
wealth that could help the country out of the economic challenges at the

Mavhunga’s aides duped the ministers by using a pipe lodged between rocks at
the summit of Maningwa Hills to pour diesel down where the ministers were
gathered to witness the “spectacular” event.

The committee reported back that she was indeed able to produce fuel out of
a granite rock. A second mission sent by Mugabe expressed doubts about the
miraculous diesel flowing from the rocks, and she subsequently went on the
run before she was arrested.

The Zanu PF government planned to use the diesel and gold findings to boost
the country’s national wealth.

Mavhunga received several presents, including a farm and a farm house valued
at ZW$5 billion.

In court, the state argued that she committed an offence by saying there was
diesel in Maningwa, when in actual fact she knew this was false.

The state pointed out that Mavhunga’s acts interfered with the ordinary
comfort, convenience and peace of the public.

Mavhunga was also charged on another fraud charge in which she allegedly
sold a stone weighing about 18kg, which she claimed was gold, in return for
a cow.

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Makandiwa sermon steals the thunder

Sunday, 08 April 2012 12:21


United Family International Church (UFIC) leader, Emmanuel Makandiwa, on
Friday night restricted his sermon at the highly publicised Judgment Night
at the National Sports Stadium to spiritual matters, contrary to
expectations that he would predict a perilous future for the country. Ahead
of the day, there was widespread speculation that Makandiwa, like Temitope
Balogun Joshua of the Synagogue Church of All Nations, who predicted the
death of Malawian President Bingu wa Mutharika, would foretell a near
doomsday scenario for Zimbabwe in the days to come.

Makandiwa set tongues wagging when it was revealed his followers’ enemies
would be destroyed on “the day of the Judgement”.

In what may have been aimed at people who were speculating about his
statements, Makandiwa said: “It is difficult to prophesy Zimbabweans. They
misinterpret the prophecy. If you cannot interpret prophecy, do other
things. There are many other things one can do.”

However, the only time he mentioned politicians directly was in his
greetings when he acknowledged the presence of leaders from “the political

Among those present, were Media, Information and Publicity minister, Webster
Shamu, Zanu PF central committee member, Nyasha Chikwinya, Tourism minister,
Walter Mzembi and Shurugwi South MP, Anastasia Ndlovu.

Businessman Philip Chiyangwa was also among the congregants.

Makandiwa’s preaching was based on three bible readings — Exodus 12 and 2
Kings 23 verses 21-24, which talk about the Passover, and 1 Peter 1 verses
9-12 which centres on salvation.

He also preached about prosperity and healing, among other things.

Clad in a light grey suit, a black shirt, cream waistcoat and tie, and black
shoes, Makandiwa walked into the stadium a few minutes before 11pm, to be
greeted with a standing ovation and thunderous cheers.

A few minutes into his preaching, Makandiwa called out the name of a young
boy who was sitting at one of the bays with his parents.

He prophesied about the boy and his family, telling them his mother’s mobile
number and his sister’s name without asking for clues.

This was the first of the many prophecies he made, including one where he
called for the attention of a woman called Christine from the crowd. Several
women ran to the altar before he told them he was smelling paraffin and was
wondering if the person he wanted worked at a filling station, although he
was not “seeing” petrol.

Another woman emerged from the crowd and told him her name was Christine

Makandiwa called many people from the crowd by their names and would make
them confirm they had never met him before.

Thereafter he would describe the way leading to their homes and giving
descriptions of property in their houses. He would then make his prophecies

He told one woman to be alert at 3:09am on Thursday as thieves would break
into her house. He said if they managed to steal anything, he would give her
their names and the serial numbers of all stolen property.

One man was told the type of car he drives and its number plates before
being advised to sell it and buy another as he risked an accident if he
continued using it.

The man was given the address to a building project he is working on and
directions to the stand.

Together with his spiritual friend, Uebert Angel, Makandiwa walked around
the stadium laying his hands on people who were desperate for his touch.

Winding up his sermon just before 6am, he reiterated that all evil which was
afflicting some of the attendees had been destroyed,  but only if they
believed in Jesus.
“We are not saying your enemies must die,” he said. “But they must repent.

“Why should the person who is bewitching you live? They must die and this is

Makandiwa said the event was a different type of football that had never
been played at the stadium.

As if to agree with him, some people blew vuvuzelas throughout the night and
when there was sound loss during a Mahendere performance, the whole stadium
was thrown into wild shouts of disapproval, typical of soccer fans.

Tight security which included UFIC personnel and police ensured there was no

People started arriving at the 60 000 seater stadium as early as 8am
although the advertisements were clear the event would start in the evening.

Commuter omnibuses recorded good business, ferrying people to the stadium
throughout the day.

Some people walked from nearby suburbs such as Warren Park, Westlea,
Kambuzuma, Kuwadzana and Meyrick Park.

By 8pm on Friday, most bays were already full and security personnel were at
a loss as to how to accommodate the rest of the crowd. Even the chairs
arranged in the playground for VVIPs and VIPs were all occupied.

Makandiwa’s wife’s purple outfit too turned many heads.

The curious crowd joined the UFIC praise team in song and dance well before

Also present were pastors from the region, including three from Angola who
said they were seeking Makandiwa’s anointing so they could be able to heal
their fellow citizens who were dying of curable diseases.

Lost: Shamu praises Jesus with fist

More excited was the crowd when Shamu joined Mahendere Brothers on stage and
belted out ther song they had practiced for the night.

The crowd seemed to enjoy Shamu's energetic dancing, which some youths said
reminded them of of the group, The Coopl Crooners, complete with a matching
white suit.

Shamu however drew laughter from the crowd when, instead of lifting an open
palm when saying praise Jesus in greetingg the crowd per usual church
practice, lifted a fist before realising his mistake and changing to a palm.

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Activist ruling set for Tuesday

Sunday, 08 April 2012 15:40

RULING in the case in which human rights activist Sten Zvorwadza is facing a
charge of “posing a threat of future violence” has been postponed to
Tuesday. Presiding Magistrate Victoria Mashamba postponed the ruling last
week noting she had not yet received an application for discharge papers
filed by the defence.

According to the defence led by Jeremiah Bamu from the Zimbabwe Lawyers for
Human Rights, Zvorwadza was approached by Zanu PF youths while installing
underground paraffin tanks at the Harare Municipality pump house near Matapi
in Mbare.

The youths ordered Zvorwadza to stop his work claiming that Mbare was a Zanu
PF territory and threatened him with unspecified action. Zvorwadza made a
report at Mbare Police station, but was instead incarnated at Matapi cells.

He was then accused of threatening to murder Zanu PF officials Clifford
Mazarura, chairperson of Mbare district and Clever Ntabande, secretary of
the same district.

Zvorwadza, who is the Restoration of Human Rights vice-president and
spokesperson, is facing the charge under Section 186 of the Criminal Law
(Codification and Reform) Act.

Under cross examination, one of the witnesses made a startling revelation
that Zanu PF sent as many as 200 youths to disrupt businesses in the same
area where businessman Alex Mashamhanda was barred from constructing a
service station and a food court.

Zvorwadza, who was abused at Matapi by policemen, is planning to lobby for
the closure of the holding cells arguing that they were not fit for human

“After the ruling we will advocate for renovations to be done on remand
prisons especially Matapi which was declared unfit for human habitation in
2004 but is still operational to date,” he said.

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Easter holidays: 11 dead

Sunday, 08 April 2012 15:42

AT least 11 people had died in road accidents across the country by
yesterday, the second day of the Easter holiday, police have said. The
Easter holiday started on Friday and runs up until tomorrow.

Statistics from police show that there were 152 accidents across the country
and 120 people were injured by yesterday.

Inspector Blessmore Chishaka, Officer-in-Charge of Press and Public
Relations yesterday said the police had impounded 265 vehicles for various
offences such as being defective or being unregistered.

He said police had issued a total of 8 014 tickets for various offences.

Chishaka attributed the accidents to human error — speeding or misjudgement
while overtaking.

He however said the death toll had gone down as compared to the same period
last year, but police “will continue imploring our drivers to follow the
rules of the roads”.
During the same period last year 25 lives were lost in accidents.

Last week, police announced that officers woAAAuld be deployed on the
country’s major roads to ensure an accident-free Easter Holiday.

The operation, code-named “Safe Easter Holiday”, was meant to ensure sanity
prevailed on the roads.

Holidays in Zimbabwe have become synonymous with a high number of accidents
and some people believe they are linked to the country’s poor road network
and speeding.
—By Our Staff

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Nationalisation of mines out of step with Govt policy: Biti

Sunday, 08 April 2012 15:44

ATTEMPTS by the Minister of Youth Development, Indigenisation and
Empowerment, Saviour Kasukuwere, to compulsorily acquire mines are
unconstitutional and Cabinet has never approved a nationalisation policy,
Finance minister Tendai Biti has said. Biti’s comments came after Kasukuwere
issued a notice last week declaring that all mining companies that had not
regularised their shareholding must note that 51% of their shares were now
owned by the state.

He said any business transacted in respect of the 51% shall have been
conducted on behalf of government with effect from September last year.

“Companies are hereby advised that they are now dealing with assets of the
state in respect to the 51% indigenised portion and any attempts to defraud
the state will result in prosecution,” said the notice.

But Biti, a lawyer, said Kasukuwere had no mandate to implement
nationalisation as the country had no such a policy on mines.

“Government of Zimbabwe has no policy of nationalisation, in any event, this
is unconstitutional, save for the land issue but there has to be fair and
immediate compensation,” said Biti. “Nationalisation of mines is outside his

“This is unlawful,” said Biti.

“The Indigenisation and Empowerment Act of March 2010 makes it clear that
where shares are ceded money has to change hands. He is breaching his own

The Finance minister said a lot of Zanu PF ministers, including those in
Cabinet, were against Kasukuwere’s attempts to forcibly acquire mines.

He said government acted as a collective entity and “none of us can run amok
like a mad dog. He is clearly running amok.”

Biti said the publication of the notice would not have effect on business or
investment as it was clear that Kasukuwere was just grandstanding.

“It is unfortunate that someone is trying to use government programmes to
further political ambitions,” said Biti.

Economic planning minister, Tapiwa Mashakada said Kasukuwere’s announcement
had created a lot of anxiety among investors and the general public who were
now worried about the possible economic impact of such threats.

He said investors must be given adequate time to comply, instead of rushing
them at a time government and individuals in the country had no money to pay
for the shares as required by the law.

“That decision is null and void because it is arbitrary, unilateral and not
a collective position of cabinet,” said the minister. “I want to assure
investors that Zimbabwe is open for business as government is not going to
expropriate or nationalise their companies.”

Mashakada said although over US$6 billion investment projects were approved
last year, none of them had been implemented up to date because of the
overtones of expropriation and nationalisation coming from the likes of

“Investors want predictability and consistency,” he said.

Mashakada said Zimbabwe was last year rated third in Africa in terms of
preferred investment destination, but the risks brought by the
indigenisation regulations were a threat to foreign direct investment which
was necessary to achieve growth and generate employment as outlined in the
Medium Term Plan.

Deputy minister of Youth Development, Tongai Matutu also said Kasukuwere’s
statement was not supported by law and meant to create chaos and

“Perhaps he (Kasukuwere) made the statement out of frustration,” he said.
“He knows that the law provides for penalties, but unfortunately it does not
say what happens when a company refuses to comply with the indigenisation

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai on Thursday threatened to take action
against Kasukuwere claiming that he does not have authority to unilaterally
seize private companies. He said the government had not yet come up with a
position over the issue.

Repeated attempts to get a comment from Kasukuwere yesterday were fruitless.

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Ministers clash over mayor’s suspension

Sunday, 08 April 2012 15:46

BULAWAYO — The Deputy Minister of Local Government, Rural and Urban
Development, Sesil Zwidzai, has dismissed as “a non-event” the suspension of
Gwanda Mayor Lionel De Necker by his boss, Minister Ignatius Chombo. Zvidzai
called for the amendment of the Urban Council’s Act, which he said was being
abused by the Local Government minister.

Chombo last week fired De Necker after he refused to appoint an alleged
Zanu-PF functionary, a Mrs P Nkala, as a Gwanda Municipality Chamber

The minister accused De Necker of insubordination and defying his orders,
but Zvidzai on Friday told The Standard that the mayor could still go to

“Chombo is going wild shooting at everybody using the Act. The guy still can’t
face the reality that his Zanu-PF party is no longer running the country’s
urban councils,” Zvidzai said in an interview.

Zvidzai said the decision to fire the Gwanda mayor was done without

“The dismissal is a nullity and the mayor should go back to work,” he said.

In a letter in our possession dated April 4 and addressed to De Necker,
Chombo suspended the mayor for alleged insubordination.

“Following your deliberate defiance of my directive of 30 November 2011
issued in terms of Section 314 of the Urban Councils Act (Chapter29: 15),
directing council to appoint Mrs P Nkala as the substantive Chamber
Secretary for Gwanda Municipality as approved by the Local Government Board,
I hereby, in terms of Section 114 of the afore-cited Act, suspend you from
being a councillor for Gwanda Municipality with immediate effect,” said

“After you received my directive, you proceeded to challenge the activities
of the Local Government Board appointed to carry out its responsibilities as
specified in the Urban Councils Act. Furthermore, you even questioned the
credibility of the Local Government Board which was setup in terms of the
law thus undermining the powers of both the Minister and Board.”

De Necker, who was suspended without pay, is not supposed to conduct any
business within or outside council premises.

Chombo copied De Necker’s suspension letter to Matabeleland South Zanu PF
governor, Angeline Masuku, provincial administrator, David Mpofu and town
clerk George Mlilo.

Early this year, Chombo suspended Mutare mayor, Brian James on allegations
of misconduct. Chombo claimed the suspension of James was in the interest of
ensuring sound local governance for effective and efficient service delivery
in Mutare City.

MDC to challenge De Necker’s dismissal

Yesterday, the Welshman Ncube-led MDC said it would challenge the dismissal
of De Necker.

“We will use every avenue available, politically and legally, to make sure
that this unjust act is overturned,” MDC organising secretary, Qhubani Moyo,

He accused Chombo of trying to destabilise the Gwanda council, dominated by
the former opposition. Chombo could not be reached for comment yesterday.

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Storm brews over hunting concessions

Sunday, 08 April 2012 15:30

A storm is brewing after the National Parks and Wildlife Management
Authority said it would not renew leases for six licence holders awarded to
operate hunting concessions 10 years ago. The authority’s board resolved
last year not to renew expired leases saying the concessions should revert
back to its management so that it would “sweat” the asset.

According to the board resolution of a meeting held in April 2011 “all
expired leases must revert to the authority where they will be managed under
a different business model”.
The authority wants to auction the concessions to raise money for its
operations after it was weaned off Treasury funds.

This paper was told last week that six operators with expired leases —
Charara Safaris, Doma, Tuli, Sengwa, Matetsi and Makuti — were told to pack
and go after their leases expired on December 31.

The authority has appointed KM Auctions to conduct an auction on the three
concessions — Charara, Makuti and Tuli — at Pandhari Lodge on April 27. The
fate of the other three could not be ascertained yesterday. Standardbusiness
understands that a court  injunction would be filed on Tuesday to stop the

This has riled the affected players who are now alleging that the authority
is selectively applying the rules after it recently extended the leases for
some operators.

According to the players, National Parks should give them a leeway so that
they pay in installments arguing that there is a precedent.

“Last year, when Chirisa’s licence expired, it was renewed after it was
agreed that the safari operator would pay US$180 000 in installments,” said
an operator.

“Chiwure North paid US$300 000 under installments. Unit 6 in Victoria Falls
paid US$100 000 in renewal fees. We are saying why is it that some leases
which expired were renewed but they refuse to renew ours.”

Chirisa, Chiwure North and Unit 6 are owned by senior politicians and

Thandiwe Nkomo-Ebrahim, who owns Tuli, said last week that they were trying
to appeal for renewal “but so far we are not succeeding”.

She said they were almost chucked out after five years but managed to
convince the authority to extend the lease.

According to her, the process is not uniform as some players had their
leases extended.

Retired Major-General Paradzai Zimondi, who owns Charara Safaris, told
Standardbusiness on Tuesday that he was not aware of problems his company
was facing with its licensing.

Vitalis Chadenga, the authority’s director-general, said he is constrained
by ethics not to discuss the authority’s business with clients in the press.

He however added that leases are given for a specific period and once they
expire, the concessions revert to the authority.

Chadenga said he was not aware of any discussions underway for the extension
of the leases.

When he was told that the affected operators were alleging favouritism in
the extension of the leases, Chadenga said players with concerns were “free
to talk to me, the board or ministry (Environment and Natural Resources

The operators got into the industry when Mugabe instructed the then Tourism
minister, Victoria Chitepo, to ensure that blacks venture into the then
white-dominated business.
There are now fears that the latest move by the authority would reverse the

Nkomo-Ebrahim said if the concessions go for tender, there were chances that
the indigenous players would not win.

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Fresh attempt to ease RBZ debt

Sunday, 08 April 2012 15:26

THE ministry of Finance is working on crafting a central bank debt
assumption bill in a move aimed at assisting to clear the bank’s balance
sheet. The proposed Debt Assumption Bill would be the last leg in the
reforms by the ministry at the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) to enable the
institution to concentrate on its core business.

The RBZ debt presently stands at over US$1,5 billion, accrued when
government directed the bank to perform duties normally done by Treasury.

Finance minister Tendai Biti told delegates at a farewell function for
departing RBZ deputy governors, Edward Mashiringwani and Nick Ncube, that
his ministry was pursuing a raft of measures as part of its mandate.

“We are aiming to liberate the balance sheet of the bank of the debt so that
they are free, there are no legacy issues,” Biti said on Thursday.

RBZ governor, Gideon Gono said the bill would be expedited “to make sure
that hopefully in the shortest possible time it sees light at the end of the

“We are very keen to make sure that bifurcation (splitting) of the RBZ
balance sheet is concluded under separate management,” he said.

He said the move was not sinister and a witch-hunting exercise but a concept
that has been done before notably at CBZ.

But a dossier alleged to have been written by Gono’s former advisor,
Munyaradzi Kereke, lambasted the move saying it would spin the country into
civil war.

The letter alleges that bill propose to investigate all government’s
transactions over the pre-GPA era of between 2004 and 2008 be investigated
through an appointed court.

Such a move would also be expected to help improve private sector confidence
in the country at a time when the central bank is incapacitated to function
as a lender of last resort.

The central bank owes US$300 million in funds taken from foreign currency
accounts and another US$200 million owed in quasi-fiscal activities carried
out at the height of the country’s economic problems.

The introduction of the multi-currency regime in February 2009 rendered the
central bank’s key role of regulating monetary policy void as the RBZ could
not print foreign currency notes and was debt-ridden.

RBZ debt has in the news after some creditors obtained writs of execution to
attach the central bank’s assets.

In 2010, government then moved swiftly to protect the assets by invoking the
Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures) Act to protect the RBZ’s assets
from being attached by various creditors as the bank was incapacitated to
repay the outstanding amounts.

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New govt policy seeks to reverse industrial woes

Sunday, 08 April 2012 15:12

HORDES of unemployed youths mill around the gates of company premises daily,
hoping to secure a day’s earnings in the form of contractual work.

Derelict industrial buildings house obsolete machinery while a few trucks
move out of various yards, ferrying the limited locally produced goods to
the city centre.

Such has become Zimbabwe’s once vibrant industrial scene, following years of
political and economic problems that led to widespread closure of companies
and massive capital flight.

The inception of the inclusive government in 2009 resulted in a relatively
stable economic environment but investment has not been as forthcoming owing
to policy inconsistencies that have deterred foreign capital inflows.

But analysts say a policy document, the Industrial Development Policy (IDP)
2012-2016, launched recently, could reverse that trend if implemented
religiously. It aims to encourage the development and growth of the country’s
manufacturing sector.

Significantly, the policy seeks to anchor on the economic gains made since
the inception of the coalition government.

Zimbabwe’s manufacturing sector’s contribution to the Gross Domestic Product
(GDP) declined to below 10% by 2008 from an average of 20% in 2000.
The sector’s contribution presently stands at 12%.

The document realises that the principle of policy certainty which avoids
sudden changes to investment regimes will greatly contribute towards the
successful implementation of the IDP.

“This principle will embody the existing legal instruments which protect the
value and ownership rights of the investors as well as on the principle of
local ownership of the means of production as per the existing
indigenisation laws,” reads the document.

Capacity utilisation currently stands at 57% but the policy targets at
increasing the figure to 80% by the end of the planning period.

In a presentation at the launch of the IDP, co-chair of the National
Economic Consultative Forum, Robbie Mupawose, noted that policy
effectiveness related to the extent to which the public has confidence in
policy announcements.

“There is need to ensure congruency of policy where business can make medium
and long-term plans without any (policy) inconsistencies,” he said, adding
that the elimination of a culture of rent seeking and arbitrage would
consequently see the economy growing.

Mupawose said the industrial basic supply chain which relates to efficient
provision of electricity and water has to be dealt with urgently, in order
for the policy to be implemented successfully.

“Emphasis should be placed on value addition in industry which will
contribute towards employment creation,” he said.

The policy envisages transforming the country from a producer of primary
goods into a producer of processed value- added goods for both the domestic
and export markets.

Economic analyst, Eric Bloch, said the policy document was a step in the
right direction but two key issues would need to be addressed for successful
implementation of the policy.

“Firstly, recapitalisation of industry will certainly be essential for the
recovery of the country’s industry,” said Bloch. “Secondly, the country will
need to restructure its customs tariffs.”

The policy proposes that Zimbabwe’s industry be offered temporary protection
through an upward raise in tariffs during the three-year period of the IDP’s

However, an upward revision in tariffs would be inconsistent with Zimbabwe’s
obligations under the World Trade Organisation, Sadc and the Common Market
for Eastern and Southern Africa treaties.

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Re-defining the independence epoch

Sunday, 08 April 2012 13:09

By Takura Zhangazha

As has been the practice since 1981 the Zimbabwean government shall play the
lead-role in choreographing the meeting of our contemporary politics with
memories of our liberation struggle. This will be done on April 18, 2012,
the country’s Independence Day. In so doing leaders in government will seek
to use the occasion of these commemorations to demonstrate what they
perceive to be their “democratic” commitment to the historically definitive
values of our national liberation struggle. Some more than others, but all
the same, they will all insist on having played or intending to play a role
relevant to the purposes and values of our national independence. It is
however necessary to point out it is not the sole prerogative of our
national leaders to remember and commemorate our national independence.
Indeed they may lead official state functions to remember the same, but
recognising the significance of our freedom from minority rule is the task
of every Zimbabwean. This recognition is not, however; a call to joining the
party-led messaging  political egos for propagandistic or electioneering
purposes. Instead, we should recognise the national significance of
independence on the basis of the initial fact that it was a historical and
nation-defining occurrence. This especially after a drawn out and painful
liberation war.

In the second instance, we must all celebrate our national independence with
the intention of insisting that “never again!” shall we or our children bear
witness to such repression either by way of racism (of any kind), social and
economic injustice or the wanton killing of innocent civilians and
deprivation of human rights to all. This is regardless of whatever
government is in charge at any given time in present or the future.

Thirdly, we must recognise our national independence in order to understand
the historical and progressive democratic reasons why the Zimbabwean state
was established. While the political parties may give their own politicised
reasons, our collective understanding should be pre-disposed to
understanding that we raised our national flag in April 1980 with the
explicit intention of ensuring a democratic and better life for all
Zimbabweans regardless of race, colour or class. It is from such a premise
that we must measure, even 32 years afterwards, to see if our country and
its successive governments (even if dominated by one party)  have adhered to
this key noble intention of our independence.

This would include taking into account the policies that have been
implemented since 1980. These would include the expansion of social service
provision by the state, the establishment of a justiciable bill of rights
(however flawed), the tragic conflict that was Gukurahundi, economic
structural adjustment, the continually repressive political environment as
well as the continually disputed and historically politicised land
re-distribution and indigenisation programmes.

Some would argue that the verdict is easy, meaning that perhaps 32 years on,
we are yet to realise the objectives of our national independence and
liberation struggle. That, however, would be to potentially fall into the
trap of continually politicising our collective history just as some
political parties have consistently sought to do.

Many mistakes were made and continue to be made across political lines since
1980 to present day. Indeed it is the liberation parties that took and
remain in power that are most culpable for real and perceived failures that
are associated with our post independence society. But it must now become
increasingly clear that the country should no longer be viewed as being the
responsibility of these movements alone. It belongs to all who live in it,
and therefore we all have a responsibility to ensure that it pursues the
path of making progressive and democratic history. It is no longer adequate
to merely claim political party membership  as the reason for seeking
recognition as an  active citizen with claim to the legacy of the liberation
struggle.  This is particularly so for the younger generations of adult
Zimbabweans who may not have seen or participated either in the liberation
war or the independence celebrations at Rufaro stadium in 1980.

As a fourth and final point, it must be emphasised that the path that
Zimbabwe must now pursue is one that, while being conscious of our history,
must not be imprisoned by it. In celebrating or commemorating 32 years of
our national independence, we must think more of the future than the past.

We must grasp that our existence as a country is based on what were
essentially struggles for the freedom of all and not the few. In so doing,
we must carry forward the burden of the mistakes made more honestly and with
the clear intentions of ensuring that these mistakes never occur again of
our own volition.

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Senegal polls: Learning points for Zim

Sunday, 01 April 2012 11:37

The Senegalese electoral outcome gives fresh impetus to the numerous and
predominantly African struggles and an active expression of the “people’’
aspiration for a life without arbitrary restrictions on their liberty. Even
the African Union praised the peaceful handover of power following the
presidential elections in Senegal, after Abdoulaye Wade’s acceptance of
defeat.  The   chairman of the Commission of the African Union, Jean Ping,
said Wade’s stepping down showed the “maturity” of democracy in West Africa
and is a “great victory for democracy in Africa”.

In genuine democracies elections are treated as a “human rights event”,
which gives voice to the free political will of the people. The key lesson
from Senegal is that for elections to be considered free and fair, they must
be conducted in an environment which respects human rights and fundamental

As a result, elections have become the first step to fulfilling people’s
dreams as they give them their full right to elect their representatives in
genuinely free and fair elections, a clear milestone for measuring the
progress Africa is making towards respecting the will of its citizens and
safeguarding their rights to take part in government; right to vote and be
voted for and their right to equal access to public service.

While there seems to be an awakening with regards these issues in some
African countries, the Zimbabwean government, in its inclusive form or at
least a section of it, still totally rejects these values of civil
liberties. Zanu PF’s calls for early elections are a clear indication that
the will of the people is not the basis for the authority of a government.
In Zimbabwe’s current political culture, it is the authority of the
government that is the will of the people!  The number of court cases
pitting the state against the citizens of Zimbabwe on allegations of treason
or undermining, or denigrating, or insulting the President is sufficient
evidence that President Robert Mugabe lost his legitimacy a long time ago.

It’s testimony of a government that fears the will of its citizens taking
shape; a government willing to thrive on fear and inaction as opposed to
hope and action. Whenever organised and empowered citizens challenge this
arrangement, an Orwellian agenda of denial and dismissal is rendered. Civic
groups and opposition political parties are dismissed and threatened as
“enemies”, “sell outs” and imperial “agents” of Western regime change

In Senegal, the fact that democracy is a culture and a way of life is
self-evident. Wade’s decision to phone Macky Sall and congratulate him
before definitive results were out was a precedent. In the  2000 elections,
Wade received the same congratulatory message from the then Senegalese
president Abdou Diouf. These are simple and seemingly mundane, and yet
powerful democratic gestures of handing over power. In the build up to the
Senegalese elections, there had been fears that the president would go the
“Putin way”, to extend his stay in power.  The fact that Wade won the legal
battle for a third term but lost  the political battle is a clear
demonstration that democratic processes must build sufficient political
level infrastructure such as powerful political parties, independent media,
a strong and vibrant civil society. These institutions help to establish,
maintain and defend the ideals from any political interests and
authoritarian tendencies.

With the recent electoral events in Senegal, the people of Zimbabwe have
been gifted with a more democratic and human rights-friendly African
continent. Even the somewhat conservative Sadc Troika has been forced to
give serious consideration to these developments as they mediate in the
Zimbabwean situation.

There is also an increasing influence of social media such as Facebook,
Twitter as well as the telecommunications industry on the African political
landscape. These technological changes mean that authoritarian regimes are
increasingly finding it difficult to monopolise propaganda or conceal issues
of human rights abuses.  Citizens now have more power to create and spread
or access their own news at an insignificant cost in terms of real time and
money. The influence this has had on the demand for human rights and
democratic governance is at an unprecedented rate, pace and scale.

This is promising, particularly when Zimbabweans have to deal with a weak
but authoritarian government that is not able to deliver adequate and
quality public goods to the citizens. It is no wonder that despite the fact
that Zimbabwe is a country endowed with vast minral resources, it still  is
unable to repair roads, provide clean running water, provide education and
health to its citizens and most of all create employment for its productive

In such as scenario, even a Stone Age epidemic like typhoid has emerged as a
major public health threat in the year 2011 to 2012. This should not be
surprising at all.

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From the Editor's desk:Doomsday prophecies threat to African stability

Charlatans such as TB Joshua should keep their prophecies to themselves. His
followers always protest when he is referred to as a charlatan, but they
should stop to assess the potential he has of destabilising whole societies
and even countries. Biblical prophecies were never used to destabilise,
instead they were used to give communities guidelines on how to move
forward. They gave the societies a clear vision of how to deal with the
problems affecting them. But just look at the anxiety TB Joshua has caused
not only among all the ailing African leaders and their families, but also
among citizens who fear turmoil in the aftermath of improper succession.
This simply cannot be God’s work. The talk around Zimbabwe — I think around
Africa, if not the whole world — today is the coincidence between TB Joshua’s
prophecy of the death of a president and the death of Malawian President
Bingu wa Mutharika. Announcing the prophecy last February, Joshua said an
African dictator would die suddenly within 60 days and as recently as a week
ago he narrowed the demography of his prediction by excluding dictators from
West Africa, leaving eastern and southern Africa.

Talk was intense in Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi in recent weeks concerning
the prediction because they are the three countries in southern Africa which
had the oldest and not-so-well presidents. Could it be a coincidence then
that Zambian President Michael Sata, was within the predicted 60 days flown
to India for medical attention? Could it also be a coincidence that
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe is in Singapore where he usually receives
medical attention? And that Mutharika died?

TB Joshua’s predictions can be explained: they are called self-fulfilling
prophecies. A self-fulfilling prophecy is a prediction that directly or
indirectly causes itself to become true, by the very terms of the prophecy
itself, due to positive feedback between belief and behaviour. (Wikipedia)

Sociologist Robert K Merton who coined the expression “self-fulfilling
prophecy” defined it simply as: “when Roxanna falsely believes her marriage
will fail, her fears of such failure actually cause the marriage to fail.”

A more involved definition is: “The self-fulfilling prophecy is, in the
beginning, a false definition of the situation evoking a new behaviour which
makes the original false conception come ‘true’. This specious validity of
the self-fulfilling prophecy perpetuates a reign of error. For the prophet
will cite the actual course of events as proof that he was right from the
very beginning.” (Wikipedia)

Let us look first at Michael Sata. Voted into office recently, he has been a
kind of disaster; some of the decisions he has been making in his short
reign have been nothing but grotesque. From a champion of democracy he
managed in a very short period to turn himself into a veritable dictator.
Besides general uncertainty about the direction in which he is steering the
country, Zambians are concerned about the whimsical manner in which he makes
decisions. An important part of the country, Barotseland, is seeking

There is immense pressure on him to stop the breakup of the country.
Worsening the whole scenario is the fact that he is old and not too well; he
has a urological ailment. He begins to see himself as the subject of TB
Joshua’s prophecy; he is convinced he will die within two months. So what
does he do? He wants to give himself a fighting chance, so he flies to what
he thinks are the best urologists in the world.

The same applies to Robert Mugabe. There is immense pressure on him because
the country is not running well under the government of national unity. He
is trying to push an unworkable indigenisation programme. Hawks in his party
want him to contest an election this year in spite of his old age and poor
health. The situation is tense in his party as his lieutenants machinate to
succeed him. In the past year he has sought medical attention several times,
meaning his health is deteriorating. And then in comes TB Joshua. Almost
everyone in the country thinks Mugabe is the subject of the prophecy; those
closest to him must surely also think so. There is plenty of speculation in
the media. Several articles are already looking at the “post-Mugabe era”. So
to get a fighting chance he wants to get as close as possible to his
doctors; those who have all along been monitoring his health. He flies to

That is how the self-fulfilling prophecy works.

Now to Bingu wa Mutharika!

Poor Bingu had led his country very well in his first few years as president
from 2004-8. The country achieved high agricultural productivity and food
security. Malawi, considered one of the poorest countries in the world, for
the first time saw poverty decline from 60% to 40% mainly due to his
agricultural subsidy programme which, though expensive, became a model for
the African Union. For many years during his first term Malawi achieved a
food surplus. In the 2008/9 season the food surplus reached 1,3 million
metric tons.

Then hubris — the excessive pride and ambition that usually leads to the
downfall of a hero in classical tragedy — came in.

In April 2011, a leaked diplomatic cable from British High Commissioner to
Malawi, Fergus Cochrane-Dyet in which he said Mutharika  was “becoming ever
more autocratic and intolerant of criticism” was published. Mutharika
expelled him from the country. The UK government expelled Malawi’s acting
high commissioner in retaliation.

Things went into a spiral; Western donors, primarily the UK, withheld aid,
particularly financial support which constituted 40% of the country’s
budget. Worsening fuel shortages, rising prices and high unemployment
sparked protests last year. Mutharika responded high-handedly; 19 people
were confirmed dead after the police used live ammunition. He was
unapologetic and unleashed a crack-down on Malawian journalists, human
rights activists, and lawyers.

Then this year tobacco sales flopped. Malawi is the world’s biggest exporter
of burley tobacco earning 60% of all foreign currency from the crop. In 2007
Mutharika began to peg the auction floor price of the crop at US$2 per kg.
This year about a week before the close of sales the average price of
tobacco dropped 24% below the government-set price.
This is arguably the straw that broke the camel’s back, or was it TB Joshua?
Mutharika, thanks to TB Joshua, must have in the past few weeks been seeing
himself increasingly as the subject of the prophecy; his heart couldn’t
withstand the pressure. But who did the doomsday prophecy serve besides TB
Joshua himself?

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Independence Day: A betrayal of Lookout Masuku’s vision

“We wanted to vote and choose our own destiny” was the comment the late
Lieutenant General Lookout Masuku made in an interview with Time magazine in
1980. A couple of weeks before the 32nd anniversary of our Independence this
dream is still elusive. Lookout Mafela Khalisabantu Vumindaba Masuku died on
April 7 1986, two days after his birthday and 11 days before the country’s
sixth anniversary of independence. He died after spending four years in
prison even after the Supreme Court ruled in 1983 that he and Dumiso
Dabengwa were innocent of charges of plotting to overthrow the government of
Robert Mugabe. It would be most fitting to commemorate Zimbabwe’s 32nd
anniversary of Independence by celebrating the life of one of Zimbabwe’s
finest soldiers and commander of Zapu’s Zimbabwe People’s Revolutionary Army
from 1978 to 1980.

Masuku then become deputy commander of the Zimbabwean National Army at
independence but died literally at the hands of a government he had helped
to construct.Masuku was released together with veteran Zapu nationalist Vote
Moyo in March 1986 when he was seriously ill and Judith Todd, in her book
Through The Darkness, expressed doubts whether the “specialist who attended
to him was “indeed a specialist or even  a registered doctor at all”. On
April 7 he succumbed to cryptocococal meningitis at Parirenyatwa Hospital
and this after the government had refused to grant him one of his dying
wishes, to see his comrade Dumiso Dabengwa who was still languishing in

General Lookout Masuku  will go down in history as the first martyr of
post-independent Zimbabwe.

Perhaps it would be critical to reflect on Masuku’s comments to Time
magazine when he told the publication just after independence that  “we have
been fighting so people could express their will”.Yet 32 years after
independence, what Mafela  fought for is still a mirage.

Lookout Masuku was one of the first victims of Zanu PF’s flagrant disregard
of the rule of law and he paid the ultimate price and as such we should not
be fooled to think trampling on and of the rule of law and impunity only
began in 2000; it has been with us since independence and Lookout Masuku, 26
years afterwards, is a  sad reminder of an aborted revolution.

Joshua Nkomo summarised Masuku’s supreme contribution to the struggle on
April 12 1986 at the funeral of the Zipra commander when he said “Mafela,
Lookout after all his sacrifices, died a pauper in our own hands, we cannot
blame colonialism and imperialism for this tragedy”. Up to today there is no
major street or building in the country which is named after Masuku, what a

Masuku’s life and death is a sharp rebuke of the very notion of independence
when the country still boasts of an array of repressive legislation which
infringe on fundamental liberties of speech, association, assembly, freedom
of the press and expression. If Lookout Masuku, Jason Moyo, Nikita Mangena,
Lazarus Nkala, Josiah Tongogara and Herbert Chitepo were to rise from the
dead, I am sure they would not be sure whether they were in Rhodesia or the
Zimbabwe they fought so hard and so long for.

Independence Day should not be a time of celebration but rather of moaning
the betrayed liberation values of the likes of Lookout Masuku who literally
died in chains in the same way that Steve Biko died in prison. Independence
Day should remind us that we are yet to enjoy a new Zimbabwe where people
can “vote “freely and choose their own destiny”.

As we tread cautiously towards Independence Day commemorations, it should be
a time of reflection and indeed mourning for the betrayed ideals of the
liberation struggle which Lookout Vumindaba Mafela Khalisabantu envisaged.

Dumisani is the Chief Executive Officer of Habakkuk Trust and political
analyst. He can be contacted on

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Standard Comment:Surge in political violence worries

The past two weeks have seen a disturbing escalation of political violence
across the country. Starting with the torching of huts belonging to Zimunya
Muonde, a Bikita village headman who was punished for receiving a 10kg maize
seed pack from MDC-T, Zanu PF militias are back at work and are hounding
suspected supporters of the MDC.

Their activities appear to have been galvanised by President Robert Mugabe’s
relentless push for elections this year in the absence of genuine electorate
reforms that level the playing field.

Suddenly the Zanu PF youths are beating up people for chanting MDC-T slogans
and for wearing party regalia. These illegal practices had been consigned to
politics of the past.

With the MDC formations being part of the inclusive government, there is
hardly any justification for anyone to think that these political parties
are outlawed in Zimbabwe.
However, statistics released by the Zimbabwe Peace Project paint a
disturbing picture of the resurging problem.

In January and February alone, 800 cases of political violence were

The bulk of these cases were recorded in Manicaland where Mugabe celebrated
his 88th birthday. Alarmingly, in Chipinge, a man was threatened with death
for chanting an MDC-T slogan.

The effect of this escalation of violence means that the gains recorded
since the signing of the GPA three years ago are in danger of being
reversed. The peace that had started to characterise communities is slowly
being replaced by political violence. This is unacceptable.

In past elections, political violence claimed the lives of many people and
villagers now fear the repeat of the violence if Mugabe forces an election
this year. Political parties must restrain their followers if peace is to be
given a chance.

Both Sadc and the AU have to step up efforts to ensure that Mugabe is
stopped from imposing an election when conditions are not yet ripe.

The activities of the militias are a wake-up call to those who believe that
Zimbabwe can hold free and fair elections in the absence of genuine reforms
that will make the polls indisputable.

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