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Zimbabwe scrambles for plane seized over $1.2 mln

Tue Dec 13, 2011 8:39am GMT

HARARE Dec 13 (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's state-owned airline was scrambling for
cash on Tuesday to secure the release of a plane seized in London by a U.S
firm over a $1.2 million debt, a senior airline official told state media.

Air Zimbabwe acting chief executive Innocent Mavhunga confirmed that his
firm's Boeing 767-200 had been impounded on landing at Gatwick Airport on
Monday after American General Supplies got a court order for money owed for
aircraft spares.

"The plane has been attached by one of our spares suppliers over an
outstanding debt which we are negotiating to settle," he was reported as

Mavhunga said government's treasury department had told the airline it could
not help with the required cash. Another official said Air Zimbabwe was
still scrambling to get back the aircraft in time for a scheduled return
flight to Harare on Tuesday evening.

"The management and the shareholder (government) have to work to a common
cause because we stand to lose more by losing the plane and missing
flights," the official said, declining to be named.

Economic analysts say Air Zimbabwe is struggling to survive due to mounting
debts, currently put at $40 million, and many see it as a victim of
mismanagement by President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party and poor funding by
government since independence from Britain in 1980.

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Arrests and chaos at Gatwick over seized Air Zim plane

By Tererai Karimakwenda
13 December, 2011

There was chaos at Gatwick airport beginning Monday night, after Air
Zimbabwe cancelled a flight from London at the very last minute, saying the
plane had been seized for lack of payment of a $1.2 million debt.

Frustrated passengers who spent Monday night in hotels around the airport
demanded answers from Air Zim officials on Tuesday, but were told no money
had been found to settle the debt. Frustration turned to anger and several
travelers were reportedly detained by riot police.

Passengers travelling to Zimbabwe for the holidays said they had been
allowed to check in on Monday by officials, who already knew there would be
no flight to Zimbabwe. The overbooked flight had at least 40 people on

SW Radio Africa presenter Ezra Sibanda was one of the unlucky ones stuck in
London. He said his luggage was checked in, then brought back out and
passengers were told to find their bags on trolleys. He said the lack of
professionalism by Air Zim was appalling.

“What makes it worse is that they checked people in knowing very well that
the plane was seized. The reason is they don’t want to refund people money.
They don’t have the money,” Sibanda fumed.

Police were called in to intervene as furious travelers with tired and
hungry children demanded their money back from officials, who said they only
represented Air Zim. The operations manager David Mwenga reportedly ran from
Zimbabweans who recognized him.

By Tuesday evening all passengers had been told to contact the airline on
Wednesday for an update. They had been given only £10 for food for the two
days and those from outside London had no place to go, as they were not
given any vouchers for hotels for Tuesday night.

Sibanda said: “I feel sorry for these four ladies I spoke to who are
tourists from Australia. They booked their holiday, paid their money and
were supposed to be picked up at Harare airport Tuesday morning to take them
to Kariba and Vic Falls.”

Sources working for the airline in London told SW Radio Africa that once a
customer checks in, Harare has control of the account and no-one in London
can facilitate a refund.

Air Zim officials were reportedly scrambling to find enough funds to get
their plane released by American General Supplies, an American firm that
supplies aircraft spares. The company got a court order after failing to
collect the $1.2 million owed by Zimbabwe’s national airline.

This is not the first time a Zim plane has been seized over money owed. The
airline has been riddled with corruption and mismanagement for decades and
the Mugabe regime has not invested in maintenance and spares.

Robert Mugabe also uses Air Zim as his own private airline, commandeering
planes at will to travel on personal business. The airline is reported to be
in debt to the tune of over $40 million.

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Job Sikhala arrested for leading protest march against Mugabe

By Tichaona Sibanda
13 December 2011

MDC-99 leader Job Sikhala was arrested on Tuesday by Harare police. The day
before he had led a small protest march of about 10 people, calling on
Zimbabweans to stage Egyptian or Tunisian style revolutions against Robert

The Egyptian and Tunisian uprisings drove long term dictators Ben Ali and
Hosni Mubarak out of office.

The militant and outspoken former University of Zimbabwe student leader led
a group of his party followers in marching to Munhumutapa building (Mugabe’s
office) waving placards that denounced Mugabe.

Some of the placards described the ageing Mugabe as a tyrant and a dictator.
Our correspondent Simon Muchemwa told us Sikhala and his group marched from
the nearby first street to Mugabe’s offices without any police interference.

‘I think they took the authorities by surprise. But when they got to
Munhumutapa the group, including Sikhala just dropped their placards and
fled. Many of them are still in hiding.

‘Police followed up on Sikhala at his Chitungwiza home on Monday night and
failed to locate him. However they left a clear message they meant business
when they assaulted his teenage son and harassed his wife and family,’
Muchemwa said.

It is believed Sikhala was only arrested after police received a tip-off of
about where he was hiding. Muchemwa said police indicated they want to
charge him with treason, which carries the death sentence in Zimbabwe.

He was being held at the Harare Central Police station, but was released on
Tuesday evening after being made to sign a police ‘warned and cautioned’

The MDC-99 has since last week been using social media forums to urge
Zimbabweans to demonstrate against the unity government, saying it was being
abused by ZANU PF to gain legitimacy.

‘The mass demonstrations were set for Wednesday but with Sikhala arrested it’s
not clear if there are people out there who will lead the protests,’
Muchemwa said.

In February this year, the history graduate from the UZ was severely beaten
and tortured in police custody as part of a wider plan to prevent him and
others from participating in planned anti-government at the start of the
north Africa revolts. Word had reached the police that Sikhala was planning
to stage similar protests to remove Mugabe from power through force. The
state case against him was dismissed by a magistrate for lack of evidence.

Before that in 2000, when he was still an MDC MP for St Mary’s, Sikhala
endured severe torture together with friend and human rights lawyer, Gabriel
Shumba, now living in exile. Both men were accused of undermining Mugabe and
planning to oust him from power.

They were severely and cruelly tortured for long periods by state agents. It
appears these beatings have hardened Sikhala’s stance against Mugabe.

In a September 2009 interview with SW Radio Africa, Sikhala urged the
international community not to lift targeted sanctions against Mugabe until
‘the day he dies.’

‘Only when he is buried in Kutama (Mugabe’s rural home) can the western
world consider removing sanctions against him. Mugabe must die isolated if
he doesn’t want to reform.

‘People can reform – even the evil Satan had the capacity to reform. So the
ball is in Mugabe’s court, if he fails to change he must be ostracized until
his very last day on this universe,’ said Sikhala.

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Joshua Sacco promoting ZPF violence in Manicaland

By Tererai Karimakwenda
13 December, 2011

A white farmer known to support ZANU PF and its policies has been accused of
promoting political violence against the MDC-T in Manicaland, recently
financing a group of thugs that severely assaulted elderly villagers.

Joshua Sacco allegedly paid for a lawyer and provided transportation and
money for food for a group of ZANU PF thugs, who were in court in
Chimanimani on November 9th, according to SW Radio Africa’s contact, Peter.

“The thugs ambushed MDC-T supporters on their way home from a rally at
Mutambu bus stop in Ward 7 Cashel Valley. They beat up four victims,
including an old man and woman. The case was reported in Chimanimani because
the thugs waited near the police station,” Peter explained.

However no arrests were made until the victims told a team from the Joint
Monitoring and Implementation Committee (JOMIC) who were in the province.
“JOMIC were told the police had not acted and then arrests were made and the
case went into the courts,” Peter said.

Our contact described Sacco as a staunch ZANU PF supporter who makes no
secret of it in public. “He doesn’t hide it. Different from other people in
ZANU PF he says publicly MDC supporters are sellouts who are paid by the
British and Americans and should be assaulted,” Peter explained.

In August the MDC-T lodged a police report after Sacco and a group of
drunken ZANU PF supporters defaced the party’s logos and slogans at offices
in Chimanimani. Although the incident was witnessed by dozens of locals,
police made no arrests.

Sacco was elected deputy secretary for production in the ZANU PF youth
league in 2009, becoming the first white to hold such a position. In June
this year he travelled to Johannesburg, South Africa as part of a ZANU PF
propaganda team led by Jonathan Moyo, and made headlines at the SADC summit

According to Peter, Sacco was promoted this year to the national executive
in the party’s youth league. He is known to have close ties with the ZANU PF
provincial governor Mike Madiro and operates with impunity.

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Gono, Zanu PF push Zim-dollar return

12/12/2011 00:00:00
    by Staff Reporter

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF party, supported by central bank chief,
Gideon Gono have initiated moves to bring back the Zimbabwe dollar which was
ditched in 2009 after being rendered worthless by hyperinflation.

Among the resolutions to come out of the Zanu PF national conference held in
Bulawayo was a demand for the introduction of a domestic currency to operate
alongside the current foreign currencies.

The party said the coalition government would be instructed to “work out
modalities for the reintroduction of domestic currency alongside the
multi-currency system in order to address the current liquidity crisis and
to enable our people to carry out their transactions".

And Gono, whose polices critics blame for stocking inflation, said Zanu PF’s
demand was feasible.

"The form and manner as well as the resumption of the proposed new Zimbabwe
dollar or whatever it will be called will obviously take into account our
national reserves in terms of strategic and precious metals such as gold
reserves for back up," Gono told the state-run Herald newspaper.

He said the country needs to review its use of the United States dollar in
view of the current debt crisis in the US and the Euro Zone.

"We must guard against putting all our eggs in one basket," he said.

“(Zimbabwe) cannot remain blind to the fact that when the US and the
Eurozone catch a cold as is currently the case, those that depend on these
currencies for their national accounting will also get a cold."

However, bankers and economic analysts have urged caution, warning the
country’s economy was not ready for the return of the Zim dollar.

"We are not yet there. The only possible time we can have the local currency
is when we have adequate import cover,” Bankers Association of Zimbabwe
president, John Mushayavanhu said.

“We should work to generate adequate exports because figures presented by
the Minister of Finance recently showed that we are importing more than what
we are exporting, so we cannot have our own currency now."

Economist, Takunda Mugaga added: "If we reintroduce the Zimdollar at the
moment, it is bound to be unpopular not because people do not like their
local currency, but it will be competing against strong currencies such as
the US dollar.

"The US dollar is a strong currency and this is why is it demanded
worldwide. Our capacity utilisation as a country currently stands at 57
percent and it is still not practical to introduce the Zimdollar."

During his 2011 national budget announcement, Finance Minister Tendai Biti
ruled out a return of the Zimbabwe dollar insisting the current multiple
currency regime would remain in place until 2013, at the earliest.
But Zanu PF spokesperson, Rugare Gumbo said the party would reintroduce the
Zim dollar after elections expected next year.

"Reintroduction of the Zim-dollar is not possible under the inclusive
Government. It is only possible after we have elections when we will have
control of the finance portfolio," Gumbo said.

"Once we are in control, we will then go to Parliament and make sure that it
is ratified. At the moment we can make a proposal, but (Minister) Biti does
whatever he wants and this is why we are saying we should have elections."

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Mining Activity in and near to Hwange National Park

December 12th, 2011

chawato mine road

[Full report can be downloaded here]

Last year on 10th & 11th September 2010 a fly over of Hwange National Park (HNP)  revealed increased mining activity inand around the Sinamatella area.  In addition to the mining carried out by Hwange Colliery Company Limited there are now at least 3 other coal mining developments, two adjoining HNP and one actually within the Park.

This mining activity is of grave concern.  The associated building of roads and increased human activity is bound to lead to an increase in poaching as the area is opened up, access becomes easier, and there are more people in the area to carry out the poaching and to buy the poached meat.

Further Sinamatella is a rhino intensive protection zone (IPZ). The survival of rhino throughout southern Africa is in doubt due to the ongoing slaughter of these animals for their horn.  The IPZs have proved successful but it will be extremely difficult for the Parks & Wildlife Management Authority (PWMA) to monitor and protect the rhino in the Sinamatella IPZ with all the additional traffic and activity resulting from these various mining operations both within the IPZ and on its boundaries.

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Grave Mistake To Endorse Mugabe – MDC-T

Harare, December 13, 2011 – Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai faction of the
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) said on Tuesday the just-ended Zanu
(PF) conference made a grave mistake by endorsing President Robert Mugabe as
its presidential candidate for next elections.

“There was grave silence from these politicians who are one day hoping to
lead Zimbabwe. These Zanu (PF) politicians have been working very hard
behind the scenes to replace Mugabe but when the opportunity to challenge
him arose at the conference, they did not have the courage to challenge him.
As the MDC, we are shocked by the silence that came from Zanu (PF) on this
issue. The Zanu (PF) delegates committed political suicide by endorsing
Mugabe, soon to be 88 years old, to stand in the next elections against the
people’s leader, President Morgan Tsvangirai,” said the MDC in a statement.

“The resolutions passed in Bulawayo are the same resolutions that were made
at the Zanu (PF) Congress held in Mutare last year.  So what else was new
that a whole party assembled to talk about? Nothing new came up from this
conference except the usual regurgitation of populist mantras of past
meetings,” it said, adding that the Bulawayo resolutions showed a clear lack
of depth in Zanu (PF) and a deficit of brave leaders within that party as
they cannot stand up to Mugabe and challenge him, and yet they were quick to
speak their minds behind closed doors.

“Courage seems to have deserted Emmerson Mnangagwa, Joice Mujuru and other
like minded people at the eleventh hour.  The two have shown ambitions to
take over from Mugabe as Zanu (PF) First Secretary and President but they
could not take up the challenge in Bulawayo.

The MDC said failure to debate Mugabe’s succession showed that the Bulawayo
indaba was a big yawn where party members allegedly managed to wine and dine
at the expense of millions of suffering Zimbabweans. The MDC-T said the
US$1,5 million reportedly spent on food and drink was obscene at a time when
the World Food Programme has warned that over 1 million vulnerable
Zimbabweans are faced with starvation between now and the next harvest in
March 2012.

“The deliberations at the conference did not bring anything new to both Zanu
PF and the country except for Robert Mugabe to dictatorially declare that he
will stand as Zanu PF’s presidential candidate in the next election and for
him to illegally declare that the elections will be held next year,” reads
part of the statement.

The MDC T said it was ready for elections once a roadmap to free and fair
elections is completed.  “This will give the MDC an opportunity to defeat
Zanu PF at the ballot box, form the next government and bring real change to
the people of Zimbabwe. The people of Zimbabwe are ready to vote for real
change, and defend it against evil machinations of Zanu PF,” read part of
the statement.

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Zanu PF in leadership crisis - Analysts

KHOLWANI NYATHI 11 hours 9 minutes ago

President Robert Mugabe’s decision to hang on to power despite failing
health and advanced age is an indication of a leadership crisis in Zanu PF
rather than a desire to fight imperialism as he claims, analysts have said.

Zanu PF at the weekend endorsed the octogenarian to seek re-election at
polls expected in 2012 even after he made at least six trips this year to
seek medical treatment in Singapore.

Explosive United States diplomatic cables released by whistleblower website
WikiLeaks this year also showed President Mugabe’s lieutenants were
desperate for leadership renewal in Zanu PF.

At the age of 88 next year, Zimbabwe’s only leader since independence will
be seeking to extend his 32 years in power.

He told the Zanu PF annual conference in Bulawayo that he was not willing to
rest while the country was still under Western sanctions.
But analysts said this was just an excuse to cover up for Zanu PF’s problems
in finding a successor for a leader who has controlled the party like an

“The endorsement of President Mugabe is against a background of an
intensifying political environment both within and outside of Zanu PF,” said
Trevor Maisiri, a political analyst.

“Given the very evasive and sensitive succession issue in the party, I think
it will be a strategic dilemma to endorse a new candidate who would need to
acclimatise and also find acceptance in the short time given that elections
maybe anytime within the next two years.”

President Mugabe is set to meet the 59-year-old Prime Minister Morgan
Tsvangirai in the polls, which would be a replay of the 2002 and 2008
contests, which were a close shave for him.

Industry and Commerce minister Welshman Ncube (MDC) and former Zanu PF
politburo member Dumiso Dabengwa (Zapu) have also promised to enter the
ring, meaning that the campaign will not be a stroll in the park for the
veteran ruler.

Tsvangirai has actually welcomed President Mugabe’s endorsement, saying his
rival is too old to give him a decent challenge.

Maisiri believes Zanu PF had no choice but to stick to President Mugabe
because it does not have an alternative leader with mass appeal.
The party is also riddled with factionalism and trying to find a new leader
at this stage would worsen the fissures, he said.

“Endorsing a new candidate would have also meant having to deal with
internal tensions as the succession battle would obviously leave others
bruised and wounded,” Maisiri said.

“Those dynamics are further complicated by the stiff competition that the
MDC parties are likely to give to Zanu PF in the next elections.”

Jack Zaba, a Harare-based political commentator, believes the veteran ruler
has always wanted a life presidency.

“President Mugabe’s clinging to power is invariably motivated by his own
unbridled hunger for power and an astonishing superiority complex, which
makes him think he is the best brains ever to enter Zimbabwean politics,” he

“Sadly many in Zanu PF have grown to believe him with a divine loyalty.”

MDC founding youth assembly secretary-general Bekithemba Mpofu said
President Mugabe could have created the factions in Zanu PF to perpetuate
his rule.

“Individually, those in Zanu PF know Mugabe is a liability and the WikiLeaks
disclosures confirm that, but he has built a system of patronage, a
(President) Mugabe-bootlicking culture, a Zanu PF culture of corruption and
blackmail that makes it difficult for anyone to organise against him,” Mpofu

In 2005, several Zanu PF chairpersons who met in Tsholotsho to try and
influence a shake-up in the Zanu PF presidium were shown the door.

One of the victims was former Information and Publicity minister Jonathan
Moyo, who has since been readmitted into the party and has turned into a
fierce loyalist of President Mugabe. - NewsDay

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CIO infighting escalates

By 11 hours 25 minutes ago

HARARE - Infighting in Robert Mugabe's State spy agency CIO continues as the
trial of former central intelligence boss, Lovemore Mukandi, who is facing
charges of fraud, has been set for Wednesday this week amid reports that the
highly sensitive issue deeply enmeshed in the Zanu PF succession has all but
paralysed the organisation.

Mukandi, who was arrested at the Harare International Airport in September
this year when he returned from Canada, was released after successfully
challenging his arrest, arguing that the warrant of arrest was not issued
according to the law.

However, Mukandi was later summoned to appear at the Harare Magistrate Court
for trial this week and State security analysts believe the highly sensitive
dog-fight is linked to Zanu PF succession battle.

Mukandi is said to be backed by Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa who
wants him to prop-up his faction in the succession battle, but Mugabe and
the current CIO Chief, Happyton Bonyongwe are not having any of it.

It is the state case that in 1996, Mukandi was tasked to supervise the
construction of houses for the organisation but allegedly flouted tender

He is alleged to have misrepresented to his organisation and defrauded the
Central Intelligence Organisation of more than Z$1, 6 million.

It is further alleged that Mukandi converted the money to his own use and
bought properties and vehicles.

In a spell-binding case, two suspended senior Central Intelligence
Organisation (CIO) operatives have dragged the dreaded spy agency to court,
demanding re-instatement on the basis that there is no law in Zimbabwe
governing the operations of the organisation.

The extremely rare case is likely to re-ignite national debate around the
security sector, as well as the desperate need for reforms in these shadowy
and much abused structures.

CIO chief administration officer David Nyabando and chief transport officer
Ricky Manwere were suspended in 1998 from the spy agency over a Z$17 million
fraud that they allegedly committed.

The CIO alleges that Nyabando and Manwere defrauded the state of cash that
was supposed to be used for building “safe houses”.

On their part, the two officers insist that they built the safe houses but
were pushed out of the spy agency in controversial circumstances.

Nyabando and Manwere were jointly charged with Lovemore Mukandi, the former
deputy director-general of the CIO — who was arrested at the airport in
September this year after his deportation from Canada.

Mukandi has since been freed by the courts.

Mukandi and his boss, Shadreck Chipanga, former Zanu PF MP for Makoni East,
were dismissed from the spy agency in 1999.

They were replaced by the current director-general Happyton Bonyongwe and
Retired Brigadier Elisha Muzonzini, respectively.

Bonyongwe is the first respondent in this case.

Following their suspension on October 6, 1998, the spy agency failed to call
the officers for a hearing.

The two officers approached the High Court in 2005 seeking a declaratory
order that their suspension from duty was unlawful, null and void and that
the inordinately long time it had taken authorities to hear their case
breached provisions of section 18(9) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe which
states that: “Every person is entitled to be afforded a fair hearing within
a reasonable time.”

They also want to be re-instated to their posts and be paid all salaries and
benefits due to them with effect from the date of suspension.

The CIO served the two officers with a convening order on December 25, 2005
stating that a board of inquiry had been set up to look into their

The two officers turned up with their lawyer Albert Nyikadzino of Musunga
and Associates.

But the hearing never took place.

The two officers’ lawyer subsequently wrote to the CIO bosses again on June
9, 2006 to seek clarity on the matter and was advised that the disciplinary
hearing would now take place on July 6, 2006.

At that hearing, Nyikadzino stated that it was unconstitutional for the two
to be charged for misconduct in terms of the Public Service (Disciplinary)
Regulations “because Section 14(e) of the Public Service Act, Chapter 16:04
specifically excludes members of the CIO from the Public Service,” the High
Court papers say.

The papers also state that Section 113 (10) of the Act clearly states that
members of the CIO are not part of the Public Service and cannot be
disciplined under any law in Zimbabwe.

The CIO board of inquiry, headed by the director of administration,
disagreed and postponed the hearing so that the two officers could make an
application to the Supreme Court to ascertain if that was the correct
position at law.

The Supreme Court, sitting as a constitutional court, concurred that the CIO
was not regulated by any Zimbabwean law.

“It is, therefore, clear beyond any doubt that the applicants, being members
of the CIO, were not part of the Public Service and were not governed by the
Act and the Regulations,” says the October 15, 2007 Supreme Court ruling.

“Accordingly, the disciplinary procedure set out in the regulations did not
apply to them. Consequently, the board set up by the CIO, purportedly in
terms of the regulations was not covered by the expression ‘other
adjudicating authority established by law’ in Section 18(9) of the
Constitution, as it was not set up in terms of any law governing the members
of the CIO.”

The officers’ lawyer then wrote to the Civil Division of the Attorney
General’s Office stating that the effect of the Supreme Court ruling was
that the operatives were still in the employ of the spy agency and were
supposed to be paid all their salaries and allowances from the date of the

Despite the unequivocal position at law, the CIO again advised on January
12, 2009 that there was to be another disciplinary board of inquiry that had
been scheduled for Chaminuka Building on February 5, 2009.

The CIO officers’ lawyer wrote back stating it was practically impossible
for Nyabando and Manwere to be dragged before a disciplinary board of
inquiry which is illegally constituted.

The two CIO officers then simultaneously turned to the courts again seeking
to interdict the spy agency from convening the board of inquiry.

On October 26, 2010, the two officers approached the High Court seeking a
final draft order to be re-instated, saying their suspension was null and
void and that the CIO was not entitled to hold any inquiry into the alleged
acts of misconduct.

The CIO director-general, Bonyongwe, delegated his deputy Mernard Muzariri,
now late, to sign the opposing affidavit.

The officers’ lawyers then threatened in a letter to the Civil Division of
the AG’s Office that the CIO affidavit created a basis for filing criminal
charges against what they said was “forging or misrepresentation of the

The AG’s office wrote to the CIO on 13 December, 2010, to pursue an out of
court settlement.

Instead of pursuing an out of court settlement as advised by the government
lawyers, the CIO filed a second set of opposing papers in the High Court,
this time the deponent being Muzariri.

But again the papers did not bear Muzariri’s signature.

The CIO was again advised on January 27 this year, that the papers they had
lodged had “forged signatures” as well.

The CIO waited until Muzariri died.

After Muzariri died, they filed an application to say they were seeking
condonation to allow them time to file a third set of opposing papers.

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Cash strapped Bulawayo council rejects private waste removal proposal

By Alex Bell
13 December 2011

The Bulawayo City Council has rejected a proposal to hire a private waste
removal company to deal with mounting piles of rubbish across the city,
because of a serious lack of money.

The council was reported to be going ahead with plans to hire the private
firm on a short term basis, to help deal with the removal of waste in the
eastern part of the city. According to an article published on Sunday by The
Standard newspaper, which quoted a council report, Waste Management Services
was awarded a 12-month contract.

“Waste Management Services would be given eastern areas to collect refuse
and council will concentrate on high-density suburbs and all commercial and
industrial areas including the central business district (CBD),” The
Standard reported, quoting the council report.

But SW Radio Africa’s Bulawayo correspondent Lionel Saungweme spoke to
members of the council this week, who said that the proposal to use the
private company has been rejected.

“It emerged that just two payments to the private company would equal the
cost of a new rubbish compactor for the city. So basically the proposal was
shot down during an open council meeting,” Saungweme said.

Saungweme explained that the council is in deep financial trouble and was
forced to borrow over US$2 million from Kingdom Bank for salary advances. He
added that the council owes millions of dollars in unpaid wages and bonuses
to staff, who protested outside the council’s offices last week.

“This is a problem that started long before the Global Political Agreement
was even signed, because of the general economic meltdown. The previous
government didn’t ratify the council budgets for a number of years and now
they are trying to recover,” Saungweme said.

On the waste collection issues, Saungweme explained that the council’s
proposal to have a private firm involved was an attempt “to deal with a
crisis situation.”

“We are now at a point where it’s a health hazard because of all the rubbish
everywhere. So it is quite urgent that the council gets on top of it. They’ve
indicated that they plan to deal with it internally,” Saungweme said.

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MDC Youth Call For Advertisers Boycott For Zim's New Radio Stations

Bulawayo, December 13, 2011- The Movement for Democratic (MDC T) youth
assembly has called on advertisers to boycott AB Communications and
Zimpapers once they start broadcasting to protest against the licensing of
the Zanu (PF) linked radio stations by the Broadcasting Authority of
Zimbabwe (BAZ).

“The youth assembly is disappointed and our position is clear that we
condemn the whole process. Condemning BAZ is not enough and as the youth
assembly we have started lobbying and discrediting these radio stations.

“We want to make sure that they do not see the light of the day and we want
to make sure advertisers and those that we and influence not to advertise in
these radio stations until Mahoso and company see the light,” Bekithemba
Nyathi, the youth chairperson of the MDC T youth assembly told journalists
at a press conference on Tuesday.

The BAZ last month came under heavy criticism after it granted radio
operating licences to AB Communications, a company owned by Supa
Mandiwanzira, a supporter of Zanu (PF), and to state run media group
regarded as Zanu PF’s and President Robert Mugabe’s mouthpiece, Zimpapers.

BAZ said other applicants to operate independent radio licences, Radio VOP
and Kiss FM did not meet the criteria to be granted the licences, in what
the Prime Minister, Morgan Tsvangirai’s office said "is a farce that flies
in the face of true media reforms and media plurality in Zimbabwe."

The way it was done, Nyahti added, “is a slap on the face of issues of media
reforms and everything which is a topical issue of the Global Political

Zimpapers are set to operate Zimpapers Talk Radio while AB Communications
will open Zi Radio in the next six months.

Critics say the two will never be able to operate independently because of
their close ties to Zanu-PF and the state which has a majority stake at
Zimpapers. But Mandiwanzira, who has a controlling stake at AB
Communications,has denied the charge and called on Zimbabweans to ‘give him
a chance to broadcast and then judge him later.’

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Fall of ‘Nehanda tree’ bad omen for ZANU PF

By Lance Guma
13 December 2011

A council truck backed into and damaged the famous Nehanda ‘Hanging Tree’ in
Harare a day before ZANU PF opened their party conference in Bulawayo.

Although historians says its an ‘urban myth’ that spirit mediums Mbuya
Nehanda and Sekuru Kaguvi were hanged on that tree in the late 1890’s,
superstitious Zimbabweans nevertheless believe the tree has a powerful
spiritual force and its fall signals that something significant is about to
happen in the country.

Writing in her weekly letter from Zimbabwe, author Cathy Buckle said: “On
the same day as the ‘Hanging Tree’ collapsed in Harare, Mr Mugabe was in
Bulawayo, planting a tree on National Tree Day. All eyes were on him and
Bulawayo as ZANU PF held their annul congress.”

ZANU PF delegates arrived for the conference with the party at its weakest
politically. Despite controlling the state security apparatus and still able
to harass and intimidate its opponents, ZANU PF itself is heavily divided
into factions. To make matters worse the suspicious death in a farm house
fire of one of the faction leaders, General Solomon Mujuru, has added to the
vicious battles.

The WikiLeaks saga also exposed that many in the party are secretly plotting
Mugabe’s ouster. The acrimony was captured by war vets leader Jabulani
Sibanda who described the plotters as ‘worse than dogs.’

Sibanda said: “Those people are serious sellouts, who pretend to like the
President in his presence but go to the enemy behind him and criticise him.
Dogs are even better than these people. A dog is not educated but it can
understand better and defend its home than these people. Some of these
people are even educated and some of them are even holding degrees. These
people are also the ones who are causing divisions in the party.”

US diplomatic cables leaked on the WikiLeaks website showed that several
senior ZANU PF officials, including Jonathan Moyo, Vice Presidents Joice
Mujuru and John Nkomo, Saviour Kasukuwere, Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, Dzikamai
Mavhaire and Cephas Msipa, either plotted or were associated with attempts
to remove Mugabe.

On Monday the MDC-T commented on the ZANU PF conference and said it had
been, “another big yawn as party bigwigs failed to tackle Mugabe.”

They described the conference by their rivals as nothing more than a ‘talk
shop’ which, “blew away US$1,5 million on food and drink at a time when the
World Food Programme has warned that over 1 million vulnerable Zimbabweans
are faced with starvation between now and the next harvest in March 2012.”

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s party said the conference in Bulawayo
showed that there was “a deficit of brave leaders within that party (ZANU
PF) as they cannot stand up to Mugabe and challenge him, and yet they are
quick to speak their minds behind closed doors.” This was a reference to
WikiLeaks revelations that ZANU PF leaders told US diplomats of their plans
to oust Mugabe.

Meanwhile political commentator Nkululeko Sibanda told SW Radio Africa that
while everyone talks about ZANU PF having two factions, the party in fact
had three. In addition to the Emmerson Mnangagwa and Solomon Mujuru
factions, he said there were some party activists who were still rallying
around Mugabe and this was a faction on its own, fighting to keep Mugabe in

It is believed Sikhala was only arrested after police received a tip-off of
about where he was hiding. Muchemwa said police indicated they want to
charge him with treason, which carries the death sentence inZimbabwe.

He is being held at the Harare Central Police station. Human rights lawyers
are dealing with his case. TheMDC-99 has since last week been using social
media forums to urge Zimbabweans to demonstrate against the unity
government, saying it was being abused by ZANU PF to gain legitimacy.

‘The mass demonstrations were set for Wednesday but with Sikhala arrested it’s
not clear if there are people out there who will lead the protests,’
Muchemwa said.

In February this year, the history graduate from the UZ was severely beaten
and tortured in police custody as part of a wider plan to prevent him and
others from participating in planned anti-government at the start of the
north Africa revolts. Word had reached the police that Sikhala was planning
to stage similar protests to remove Mugabe from power through force. The
state case against him was dismissed by a magistrate for lack of evidence.

Before that in 2000, when he was still anMDCMP for St Mary’s, Sikhala
endured severe torture together with friend and human rights lawyer, Gabriel
Shumba, now living in exile. Both men were accused of undermining Mugabe and
planning to oust him from power.

They were severely and cruelly tortured for long periods by state agents. It
appears these beatings have hardened Sikhala’s stance against Mugabe.

In a September 2009 interview with SW Radio Africa, Sikhala urged the
international community not to lift targeted sanctions against Mugabe until
‘the day he dies.’

‘Only when he is buried in Kutama (Mugabe’s rural home) can the western
world consider removing sanctions against him. Mugabe must die isolated if
he doesn’t want to reform.

‘People can reform – even the evil Satan had the capacity to reform. So the
ball is in Mugabe’s court, if he fails to change he must be ostracized until
his very last day on this universe,’ said Sikhala.

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Mugabe’s Seized Farms Boost Profits at British American Tobacco

December 13, 2011, 12:34 PM EST

By Brian Latham

Dec. 1 (Bloomberg) -- Robert Mugabe devastated Zimbabwe’s tobacco industry
in 2000 by driving white farmers off their land and giving it to his allies.
Now British American Tobacco Plc is profiting from tobacco grown on those

BAT, through its partner Northern Tobacco Ltd., is among processors that buy
from farms taken by backers of the 87-year- old president. In addition to
purchasing the leaf, the companies lend to finance crops, even as the ousted
white farmers retain title deeds. First-half net income at BAT’s Zimbabwe
unit rose more than tenfold to $2 million while revenue increased 88
percent, the company said on Aug. 29.

Income generated from the farms may help extend Mugabe’s 31 years as
president by shoring up support within his Zimbabwe African National
Union-Patriotic Front party before elections next year, said Anne Fruhauf,
an Africa analyst for political risk company Eurasia Group in New York.
While the travel bans and asset freezes imposed by the European Union and
the U.S. on Mugabe and his close allies have reduced their wealth, many
still profit from farming and diamond mining, she said.

Farming the seized tobacco land is “vital for the patronage network,”
Fruhauf said on Nov. 21 from Bogota. Mugabe needs the system “to keep
individual Zanu-PF members happy and to bolster party coffers ahead of the

BAT is not taking sides, Patrick Rose, head of the leaf division of British
American Tobacco Holdings Zimbabwe Ltd., said in an interview at the company’s
headquarters in Harare. BAT-Zimbabwe is listed on the Zimbabwe Stock

Not Judging

“Land and who is farming it here is always going to be an issue,” he said.
“We recognize that, but we’re not judging anyone on any side of the farm
argument. We’re a business and we need quality tobacco.”

In the seven years following the start of the violent seizures in 2000,
Zimbabwe’s world rank as an exporter of top- grade, or flue-cured, tobacco
slipped to sixth from second. The country experienced years of famine. The
economy shrank 40 percent between 2000 and 2007, according to the
International Monetary Fund.

The involvement of overseas companies has helped Zimbabwe’s tobacco industry
recover. Revenue from tobacco sales was about $357 million in 2010,
according to calculations based on production and price figures on the
website of the Zimbabwe Tobacco Association. That compares with $400 million
in 2000 and a low of $155 million in 2008.

White farmers have sought the return of their properties in courts around
southern Africa. The campaign forced more than 3,000 of them off their land
and displaced 1 million farm workers and their dependents, according to a
2008 estimate by the United Nations Development Programme.

Killings, Displacements

At least 30 people died during the invasions and thousands were beaten,
tortured or raped, John Worsley-Worswick, director of Harare-based Justice
for Agriculture, said in an interview on Sept. 27.

“The thought that these companies are making a profit on what is legally my
land at the expense of my family and the 300 workers we employed is
sickening,” said David Marais, who farmed in northern Zimbabwe until
gun-wielding police and self- styled militias forced him off his land 2002.

BAT plans to boost the amount of tobacco it buys in Zimbabwe by contract
from farmers to 25.5 million kilograms next season, a 70 percent rise from
the 15 million kilograms in the 2004-2005 season when it began the program,
Rose said in an August interview that he confirmed on Oct. 20.

Rising Production

Kate Matrunola, a spokeswoman for BAT in London, said in an e-mailed
response to questions that the Zimbabwean unit would speak for the company.
BAT owns 57 percent of the unit.

The amount of tobacco-growing land in Zimbabwe has surged to an estimated
84,000 hectares (207,568 acres) this year from 41,000 in 2004, according to
the website of the tobacco association, which represents growers. That’s
about the same as the 84,893 hectares in 2000, the year the country reaped a
record crop of 236.7 million kilograms and Mugabe’s land invasions began.

BAT Zimbabwe plans to boost production of cigarettes to 1.4 billion this
year from 1.2 billion last year, Gaborone, Botswana-based Imara Africa
Securities said in an August report on the sub-Saharan Africa tobacco
industry. Imara forecast a more than doubling of BAT Zimbabwe’s revenue
between fiscal 2010 and fiscal 2012, to $54.7 million.

Rodney Ambrose, the director of the tobacco association, declined to comment
when called and didn’t respond to e-mailed questions that he had invited a
reporter to send.

No Farmer Mandate

“Our mandate doesn’t cover farmers,” said Andrew Matibiri, chief executive
officer of the government’s Tobacco Industry Marketing Board, which
regulates the industry, in an Oct. 5 interview. “We are concerned with
tobacco quality and environmental laws and the volumes produced.”

Zimbabwe’s tobacco in the past rivaled that grown in the U.S. as the world’s
best quality. It is used to flavor BAT-made brands such as Dunhill, Lucky
Strike, Vogue and Kent.

Tobacco is grown on contract for BAT’s partner, Northern Tobacco, and for
the Zimbabwean businesses of Richmond, Virginia-based Universal Corp. and
Morrisville, North Carolina- based Alliance One International Inc., as well
as for a number of other companies, according to the marketing board.

BAT Zimbabwe accounts for about 19 percent of Zimbabwe’s annual tobacco
through its purchases via Northern Tobacco, according to calculations using
BAT and marketing-board figures.

‘Scrutiny and Approval’

“We do have a scrutiny and approval process for and prior to contracting
with growers, but one that must also work within the laws that we find
ourselves operating under,” Karen Whelan, a spokeswoman for Universal, said
in an e-mailed response to questions.

She declined to say how much tobacco her company buys in Zimbabwe. William
L. O’Quinn, a spokesman for Alliance One, didn’t respond to e-mailed queries
and wasn’t available when his office was called.

In Zimbabwe Universal operates through its Zimbabwe Leaf Tobacco Ltd. unit
while Alliance One runs Mashonaland Tobacco Co.

“There’s nothing even vaguely moral about it and they’re doing it openly on
the farm I bought and paid for,” Patrick Newton, who farmed about 50
hectares of tobacco in northern Zimbabwe on a 2,000-hectare property in
which he invested $10 million, said in a Sept. 12 interview. “In 2000 I was
beaten by farm invaders while the police stood by and watched.” A “major
company” buys the tobacco from his land, he said.

Mugabe’s Support

Mugabe’s land seizures helped him gain enough support to narrowly win
re-election in 2000 by securing the backing of voters in poor rural areas,
where subsistence farmers had been pushed into crowded areas during white
rule. While he has won two presidential elections since then, his party has
since 2009 governed in a coalition with the Movement for Democratic Change,
which opposes his land policies.

Mugabe says the seizures were necessary because the U.K., Zimbabwe’s former
colonial power, didn’t honor pledges to pay for more orderly land reform.

The president has visited Singapore at least seven times this year for
medical treatment, the Zimbabwe Standard newspaper reported in October,
citing Webster Shamu, the country’s information minister. While Shamu said
doctors are reviewing an eye operation, leaked U.S. cables exposed by
Wikileaks cite central bank governor Gideon Gono saying Mugabe has cancer.

BAT Zimbabwe doesn’t contract with farmers directly but “causes the growing
of tobacco through local partners like Northern” with which it has an
“arms-length” relationship, the company said in an e-mailed response to
questions. Northern Tobacco and BAT Zimbabwe’s offices share an address on
Paisley Road in Harare’s Southerton industrial area.

No Contest

Northern contracts with 120 large-scale farmers and 4,000 small-scale
farmers to supply the crop, Northern director Heinrich Von Pezold said in an
interview in Harare. Von Pezold oversees tobacco production on a farm he
once owned.

“We’ve long expected that what we’re doing here will be questioned, but I
have to say that we are not farming on any land that is being contested by
the original owners,” he said.

One farm owner lodged a dispute and the complaint was settled, Rose said.
Northern and BAT Zimbabwe define contested land as a property whose
ownership is being challenged legally, he added.

The current system may work against the companies in future should Mugabe
lose power to Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change, Fruhauf

“Investors that are seen as lining the pockets of Zanu members could receive
unfavorable treatment from a future MDC administration,” she said in a
separate e-mailed response to questions.

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Nurturing Mugabe, one of the ANC’s last dictator friends

John Scott

December 13 2011 at 11:29

Gwede Mantashe's offer to help President Robert Mugabe win the next election
should come as no surprise.

The ANC secretary-general made the offer at a Zanu-PF conference in

Mantashe has since tried to explain it was not Mugabe to whom the ANC was
offering assistance but his party, but everybody knows that Mugabe is the
party, and that anyone who challenges him for the leadership is likely to be
locked up and never seen again.

This is why he was unanimously elected as the party’s presidential candidate
for next year’s election. Those in Zanu-PF with presidential aspirations are
saying to themselves: “The old bugger’s about to turn 88. Surely he will
kick the bucket sooner than later.”

The ANC clearly hopes later.  Mugabe is one of the last dictator friends it
still has.

What with the Arab Spring, the demise of Muammar Gaddafi and a gaga Fidel
Castro, dictators are getting thin on the ground. The ANC has to nurture the
few who remain.

At one stage, when Thabo Mbeki was still president, the ANC government
allegedly sought to persuade Mugabe to stand down, by way of quiet
diplomacy. But there are no flies on old Muggers. He saw through quiet
diplomacy in a flash, and told Mbeki he would outlast him, which he did. Now
the ANC has switched from quiet diplomacy to loud friendship.

It’s the only way to stay in a dictator’s good books.

Poor old Morgan Tsvangarai has hit the diplomatic skids. It turns out he has
had girlfriends and/or mistresses all over the place, seriously distracting
him from his few duties as prime minister that Mugabe still allows him to
perform. At least our President Jacob Zuma marries most of his girlfriends,
and the one he hasn’t yet he calls his fiancée.

They are thus nearly all honourable distractions, and can’t be blamed for
his recent poor appointments including a white former judge who once said
Mbeki was justified in firing Zuma and has now defamed Mbeki himself.

The question arises what sort of electoral assistance the ANC has to offer.
One thing the ANC won’t have to do is beat up opposition voters and
organisers. Mugabe’s men have that side of the election all sewn up. They
also very good at remaining in power even after they have lost an election.

Instead, Mantashe said: “We can teach them to send out party messages
efficiently and how to handle a hostile media.”

How about: “Vote Zanu-PF or we’ll turn off your water. Also your lights and
any chance of getting a free farm or your own mine.”

As for handling a hostile media, Mugabe has already got that down to a fine
art. He only allows Zanu-PF newspapers to exist in Zimbabwe, and deports
foreign journalists whose stories annoy him. In fact he could teach Mantashe
a thing or two. He would find him a ready learner.

Mugabe still blames Zimbabwe’s dire economic woes on the Brits who left him
a country in good running order 31 years ago.

This should encourage Mantashe in his belief that after a mere 17 years,
apartheid is still the fault of every ANC government misdemeanour.

In fact, Mugabe and his henchmen should be invited to assist the ANC in its
election next year.

So much easier if you can dispense with the niceties of democracy.

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ZBC sinks to the bottom of the pile

12th Dec 2011 22:13 GMT

By Chenjerai Chitsaru

THERE are not many African government radio and television stations which
carry out their assigned mission of “informing and educating the public” -
in the sense of being truthful, intelligent and entirely non-partisan in
their news coverage.

Every time I hear a South African government radio network say “Africa, Rise
and Shine!” I cringe.

It’s so paternalistic. It suggests Africa needs someone to remind it to “to
rise and shine”. A more appropriate slogan ought to call for an end to
poverty and corruption.

Most of these so-called national broadcasters – such as our own ZBC – are so
partisan they make no apologies for peddling Zanu PF propaganda dressed up,
unconvincing, as bona fide news.

South Africa’s “the voice of the African renaissance” is equally handicapped
when it comes to honest and unadulterated news.

With the ZBC, there is the odd occasion when they throw in a short item of
news on the MDC and its leadership. But mostly it is negative news of the
opposition – of its leaders committing a number of faux pas, or apparently
sounding supportive of the West’s campaigns of sanctions on “the Mugabe
regime” that they highlight.

But ZBC has achieved a new “low”: the mutilation of the English language is
now almost routine.
There is a surfeit of what people call “Shonglish” – English apparently
translated directly from Shona, with disastrous results.

A recent news broadcast had a reporter using the word “started” twice in the
same sentence. She could easily have avoided this. If it was a quotation
from a speech, this might be excused. But it was not.

You could normally ascribe this to a paltry English vocabulary, which can be
a curse for any journalist writing in English, particularly on radio or TV.
Unfortunately, it could be caused by a lazy application of Shonglish,
without due care to what a humdinger it might turn out to be when heard by

Most people have stopped listening to ZBC, not only because its avowed
function is now to spew out propaganda for Zanu PF, but also to display such
a disregard for grammar a number of parents are said to be considering
barring their school-going children from listening to any of their news
broadcasts on radio and television.

It’s the equivalent of barring them from watching X-rated movies.

Others are incensed that the state network is not being faithful to the
letter and spirit of the Global Political Agreement – the inclusive
government is “inclusive” only because it includes the opposition MDC

They ought to have a fair shake at the national broadcaster’s time – as much
as Zanu PF has.
Those who can afford it, have short-wave radios on which they can listen to
foreign broadcasts, some of them operated by Zimbabweans – Studio 7 on the
Voice of America, Radio Voice of the People (VOP) and SWRadio.

There is always DSTV which has a variety of radio and TV channels, now
including even ZTV.

ZBC now seems to stand for Zanu PF Broadcasting Corporation. Why Zanu PF
believes this arrangement is perfectly within the modalities of the GPA can
only be explained thus: the party doesn’t care a fig.

It used to be able to win any election, given its propensity for bringing
out the kitchen sink at the appropriate time. But since 2000, all this has
changed: even as they dodged the kitchen sinks being hurled at them from
every direction, many people still voted for the opposition MDC.

Election campaigns have always featured violence, most of it apparently
initiated by Zanu PF. Yet the opposition has continued to score heavily
against the former ruling party, particularly in the heavily populated urban

A display of how contemptuous Zanu PF is of the idea of true political
pluralism is the recent licensing of two “private” radio stations – one for
the government publishing conglomerate, Zimbabwe Newspapers, and another for
something in which Supa Mandiwanzira has a huge stake.

For years, Mandiwanzira worked for ZBC, before buying up a company called
Mighty Movies. He remains a very faithful supporter of the government and
Zanu PF.

To imagine him and Zimpapers providing their listeners with anything
remotely representing “balance” would be to be inanely optimistic.

The licences were granted after the two companies “scored the most points”
in a contest whose rules seem obscure or loaded in favour of applicants
who – for lack of the proper terminology – suck up to Zanu PF.

Zimpapers is the government conglomerate which publishes The Herald, The
Sunday Mail and a number of other newspapers in Bulawayo and the smaller
towns. Competing with them are the independent NewsDay, the Standard, the
Zimbabwe Independent, the Daily News and The Daily News On Sunday.

At the time of writing, no independent or privately-owned radio or TV
station had been granted a licence. It is known that a number of such
applications have been submitted to the licensing authority.

One of them is said to belong to a newspaper company based in Harare.

The man associated with the licensing is one Tafataona Mahoso, a United
States-trained journalist whose regular columns in the State newspapers
fairly throb with a feverish loyalty to Zanu PF.

His language can be acerbic and his opinions of most people writing ill of
Zanu PF has used adjectives that recall the language of Nazi propaganda.

Mahoso is unapologetic in his tirades against critics of his party and
government. His ideal scenario would be one in which the independent media
did not exist – or existed only when it promoted Zanu PF and its government.

His view is almost that any media promoting pluralism is an enemy of the
State and ought to be shut down.

What Zanu PF must view as a nightmare period occurred in the heady 1990s
when a firestorm of political assertiveness seems to sweep across the
country. There were newly-licensed TV stations whose robust challenge to the
state channels almost robbed them of their viewers.

The new players used ZBC-TV channels, which seemed to signal a new
dispensation among the usually Stalinist propaganda chefs at Shake-Shake
house, the headquarters of the then ruling party.

But it was all too good to last: a talkshow featuring Morgan Tsvangirai in
his element as the leading light of the opposition ranks appeared to upset
Zanu PF bigwigs so dramatically that they literally pulled the plug on the

The man who interviewed Tsvangirai for the breath-takingly frank discussion
seemed to incur the wrath of the party, to which he belonged. Soon, he had
fallen out with his former comrades. After a awhile, he had left the country
under a cloud of some sort. He fled into exile.

In the wake of the closure of the independent channels, Zanu PF seemed to
raise the stakes – all independent newspapers disappeared from the scene, as
the devilish Access to Information and Protection of Privacy (AIPPA) was
applied ruthlessly to silence dissent.

There were many casualties among journalists. In fact, some observers of the
media scenario rate the extent of the strife to which journalists were
subjected to a “tsunami”. Most of them were highly experienced people who
had attained very senior positions in the profession.

Mostly, the government seemed to act so ruthlessly because the freer the
media, the more nationwide support the MDC enjoyed. The fear of being
swamped out of power by the MDC has driven Zanu PF to extremes: the story of
Tsvangirai’s “marriage” circus had all the elements of a half-baked
cloak-and-dagger caper.

It reminded many of how the government’s Central Intelligence Organisation,
accused since independence of killing a number of opposition supporters, set
out to film the then Archbishop Pius Ncube as he made love to a married
woman in his house. He was subsequently defrocked. Ncube had been a strong
critic of Zanu PF. The result of his exposure as a less-than-saintly man of
the cloth eliminated him, effectively, as a Zanu PF critic.

But Mugabe was quick to appeal to his supporters not to make too much fuss
over the Tsvangirai “marriage” fiasco. This was understandable. In the early
1990s, his affair with the then government secretary Grace Marufu was nearly
as “seedy” a story as the British scandal involving the war minister John
Profumo and Christine Keeler.

Compared with the Tsvangiari affair, the “Marufu” story was dynamite. This
was the president of the republic having an affair while The First Lady lay
dying on a bed a few doors away. There were calls for the Catholic Church to
excommunicate Mugabe over the affair.

The most recent campaign against Tsvangirai was an attempt to arrest him
over two obscure incidents. All this is related to the impending general
election which might decide, once and for all, if Mugabe will continue to
run this country into his 90s. The odds are heavily in favour of Tsvangirai.

The truth is no longer do most people in Zimbabwe believe most of the
propaganda churned out by the ZBC in support of Mugabe and Zanu PF. A lot of
it has much to do with recent events in North Africa.

Muammar Gaddafi’s death convinced many Zimbabweans that there is a power
more potent than the propaganda of a State-manipulated media.

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