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Chinese oil experts jet in

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Emillia Zindi

FOLLOWING the signing of a series of investment co-operation agreements
worth US$8 billion between international oil company China Sonangol
International Limited and Government last month, a high-powered delegation
of Chinese experts is in the country to carry out gas and oil studies in the
Zambezi Valley.

The five-member team, which is accredited under an affiliate company,
China-Sonangol, arrived last week and immediately met officials from the
Ministry of Mines and Mining Development and the National Oil Company of
The experts began work on Tuesday. Head of delegation Dr Steven Yin said a
second team comprising seven experts remained in China to research on
Zimbabwe's oil and gas reserves.
He said they were conducting the feasibility study with a view to entering
oil and gas exploitation projects.
The research will be based on another done by Mobil in the 1980s, which
suggested that the Zambezi Valley had a high potential for gas and oil
The company is expected to make its findings known before real work begins
with a two-phase implementation plan.
Phase one involves the study and evaluation of exploration. The experts are
thereafter expected to hold the first joint meeting of specialists with
locals to communicate the study results.
Investigations into gas utilisation and marketing information in the country
and in Southern Africa will then follow.
The deal represents the single largest foreign direct investment since the
formation of the inclusive Government in February.
It covers investments in sectors such as mining, energy and transport.

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Court bars police from interfering with parishioners

Sunday, December 20, 2009

By Tafadzwa Chiremba

THE High Court has granted a provisional order barring the police from
interfering with activities of parishioners aligned to Bishop Chad Gandiya
of the Anglican Church of the Province of Central Africa (CPCA).

The court said the worshippers should be allowed to use the church's
facilities without interference from the police.
It also ordered police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri and the
co-Ministers of Home Affairs Cde Kembo Mohadi and Mr Giles Mutsekwa to stop
directing the police to interfere with the parishioners.
Cde Chihuri was found in contempt of court for violating an earlier order
granted by Justice Rita Makarau allowing the sharing of church properties
between Archbishop Nolbert Kunonga and his rivals.
The latest ruling brings to an end fights that had been erupting between
followers of Archbishop Kunonga and those of Bishop Gandiya over the use of
church properties.
Justice Tedious Karwi granted the provisional order on Monday last week.
He upheld the earlier judgment by Justice Makarau that called for sharing of
church premises with a 90-minute interval.
Part of the provisional order read: "Subject to the police's constitutional
mandate of maintaining law and order, the respondents (Cde Chihuri, Cde
Mohadi and Mr Mutsekwa) be and are hereby restrained from ordering,
authorising or causing interference by any members of the Zimbabwe Republic
Police with the rights of the applicant and its members, parishioners and
officials to make use of the church facilities of the applicant in
accordance with the order issued by the Honourable Justice Makarau on
December 19 2008 in Case Number HC 345/08."
The police and the Ministry of Home Affairs were also ordered to pay the
cost of the suit.
There had been a spate of clashes between the police and the CPCA members
resulting in church services being disrupted.
Some of the church parishes affected by the interference were the Anglican
Cathedral in the city centre, Kambuzuma, Highfield, Glen View's St Andrew's
and St Martin's in Hatfield.
A spokesperson for the faction led by Archbishop Kunonga, Bishop Alfred
Munyanyi, said they were going to recognise the judgment that was issued by
Justice Ben Hlatshwayo.
"Justice Hlatshwayo made it clear when he said the ownership of the premises
was under a trust headed by Archbishop Kunonga," said Bishop Munyanyi.
The Dean of the Anglican Cathedral, Rev Farai Mutamiri of the CPCA faction,
said they were using the premises based on Justice Makarau's judgment.
"We are co-sharing the premises as was granted by Justice Makarau last year.
It is also mind-boggling why police would enforce a court order when it is
supposed to be the messenger of court aided by the police," said Rev

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Measles Outbreak Claims 10

Saturday, 19 December 2009 19:06

AID agencies are battling to bring under  control a measles outbreak in the
country that has so far killed 10 children in Makoni South. Parents of all
the children who died are members of an Apostolic faith sect that
discourages its members from receiving medical attention.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) at least 292 cases, the
majority of them in Manicaland have been reported since the outbreak was
detected last week.

WHO says the 10 fatalities were "community deaths" that were reported in the
Nyamidzi area of Makoni South.

United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef) communications officer Tsitsi
Singizi yesterday said the agency was working with government on a "mop up
measles" campaign in Nyamidzi and other surrounding areas.

"We have five medical teams already on the ground, administering measles
vaccines in Nyamidzi and other surrounding areas such as Chikogore, Rukweza,
Makamba and Nyazura to children between six months and 14 years," Singizi

She said it was disturbing to note that at least 99% of the affected
children were members of the sect, which is now being targeted in the

"The outbreak is a worrying sign of the low immunisation coverage in the
province because of the huge presence of the Apostolic faith sect.

"The deaths recorded were community deaths, outside a health institution,"
Singizi said.

"There is need for a robust engagement of this group to convince them of the
benefits of immunisation and this is what our medical teams on the ground
are already doing.

"We believe that no child should die of measles because it is preventable
through vaccination.

"Our efforts as Unicef and government are banking on the co-operation of
this sect and the community to save the lives of innocent children."

Dr Henry Madzorera, the Minister of Health and Child Welfare said
encouraging members of the sect to take their children for immunisation
against killer diseases was an ongoing battle.

Madzorera urged leaders of the sect in Manicaland to take part in the
ongoing emergency response by Unicef and the government to prevent further
loss of lives.

Last year's cholera outbreak which claimed more than 4 000 lives also saw a
large number of members of the religious sect dying from the disease because
they did not seek medical treatment.


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VOA not ‘pirate radio station’, Says US Envoy

Saturday, 19 December 2009 19:02

WASHINGTON’S new man in Harare, Ambassador Charles A Ray, says a country is
strengthened when its people are well - informed and have a variety of
sources of information by which they can make informed decisions. In an
interview with The Standard last week the US diplomat said much of the
current debate over so-called pirate radio stations could be eliminated if
there were less draconian efforts to monitor and to control the flow of

In what will come as a surprise to many, Ambassador Ray disclosed that the
Voice of America (VOA), which hosts Studio 7, but which the government
describes as a pirate radio station, had representatives here not so long
ago talking to the government about establishing a presence here.

“I would certainly hope that in the very near future the government would do
that favourably and open up the information landscape because you have a
highly literate, very sophisticated population here that can use that
information wisely and I think that rather than weakening the government,
having better information its role would be strengthened.”

He said having spent days during the recent Zanu PF Fifth Congress at which
there was considerable time devoted to condemnation of the VOA’s Studio 7,
John Nkomo, who was elected second Vice-President, gave an interview to VOA’s
Studio 7 although in public the government describes it as “a pirate radio

“I think it’s a bit strange! We really need to look at whether the efforts
to control people’s access to information are counter-productive or not. In
the meantime if these organisations — VOA radio and others — were allowed to
operate here in Zimbabwe this probably wouldn’t exist.”

The ambassador presented his credentials to President Mugabe at State House
11 days ago. He said the issue of VOA’s Studio 7 “did not even come up at
all” during discussions.

In public Zimbabwe has said it will protest to Botswana for hosting
facilities that are used by VOA’s Studio 7, which is operated by exiled
Zimbabwean journalists.

But Ambassador Ray said the US has VOA relay facilities in countries all
over the world and the legality of their broadcasts is determined by the
laws of the countries in which the relay stations are located, “so the
claims that it’s illegal broadcasts cannot be supported by a reading of
international law”.

The discussions with President Mugabe centred on what the US ambassador’s
focus will be — finding ways that the US and Zimbabwe can work together to
improve the situation in this country for the benefit of its people.

“My comments to him were essentially that I believe in engagement and
dialogue and that we should all commit to working together to restore
Zimbabwe to its position as the jewel in the crown of Africa. This place has
far too much potential to be allowed to languish as it has for so long.”

By Our Staff

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Principals on Status of Talks

Saturday, 19 December 2009 18:52

BULAWAYO - The lid is expected to come off in the ongoing inter-party talks
tomorrow when the three principals to the global political agreement (GPA)
make the long-awaited announcement on deals Zanu PF and the two MDC
formations made during their month-long negotiations.

President Robert Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime
Minister Arthur Mutambara are also likely to refer a number of sticking
issues back to the Southern African Development Community (Sadc).

The talks resumed on Friday evening, and the negotiators will today meet for
the last time this year.
This will be followed by the principals' announcement tomorrow, after which
they will break for two weeks.

Sources confirmed that a number of issues had already been deferred to next

In the meantime, the negotiators will be studying what is understood to be
volumes of proposals on just a few issues.

"We will take a break for two weeks, during which we will study some
proposals that have been presented on the remaining issues," said a source.

"All we are doing with these proposals is to suggest possible compromises on
the outstanding issues.
"The three teams will look at what is being suggested and look at that
within the context of the recommendations of our principals and Sadc."

The sources said there would be no further delays in the announcement as
this would worsen matters among Zimbabweans and the international community
who have grown tired of the unending disputes in the coalition.

But sources have confirmed that although there had been progress on 15 of
the 21 items now on the agenda, there had been no movement on the
contentious issues that led to this new round of talks.

They include Mugabe's unilateral appointments of Reserve Bank governor
Gideon Gono, Attorney-General Johannes Tomana and his refusal to swear-in
MDC-T treasurer-general Roy Bennett as deputy Agriculture minister.

When the talks resumed last month, there were only five outstanding issues,
but the list ballooned every week, and by the time the talks adjourned over
a week ago, there were 21 items on the agenda.

It is understood the on-and-off meetings between the negotiators had seen
"remarkable" progress on mostly peripheral issues, while the contentious
ones remain.

But on Friday Tsvangirai said the principals were expecting to report
progress on the talks after their traditional Monday meeting.

"On Monday next week (tomorrow), we will be in a position to announce to the
nation what has been agreed on and what has not been agreed on," Tsvangirai
said at a New Zimbabwe lecture series reviewing the progress of the unity

Without elaborating on the nature of the problems, Tsvangirai said they
would then approach Sadc on the issues they failed to agree on.

"By the end of this year, we can see the involvement of Sadc, the going back
of our negotiators to now set the timelines and framework on the
implementation of those issues we have agreed on," Tsvangirai said.

He said while there had been positive developments brought about by the
formation of the unity government, there were still teething problems.

The inclusive government is supposed to drive the drafting of a new
constitution that will eventually lead to fresh elections.

But Tsvangirai said there were still challenges in creating a conducive
environment for free and fair elections.

"We have more challenges. These are mainly what I would call transitional
challenges. Remember that we are in a transition.

"And everyone knows that at some stage we have to go for an election, even
Zanu PF knows it, Mugabe has stated it clearly that we have to go for an
election so that we can come up with a democratically elected government,"
he said.

President Robert Mugabe has on a number of occasions suggested that
elections are around the corner.
This is despite the current fissures in his party, which saw him fail to
name his politburo during the Zanu PF congress that ended last weekend.

"For the last two years and most possibly for the next two years, we have
all accepted there are certain reforms that have to take place before an
election can take place.

"We need a new constitution before we can go for an election.

"We need national healing. And we also need to ensure that commissions
running the elections would be independent so that they can deal with the
problem of laying the foundation for a normal society," the Prime Minister

Tsvangirai said Zimbabweans deserved a violence-free election and a peaceful

"We want things to be done in a peaceful way and have a peaceful transfer of
power to the one who would have won that election," he said.

Despite the suffering of his supporters at the hands of Zanu PF militia and
state security agents, Tsvangirai said MDC -T would never seek revenge.


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PM Steps in as Chaos Reigns at Border Post

Saturday, 19 December 2009 18:44

THE Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's Office has moved to contain the
chaotic situation that is now reigning supreme at the Beitbridge Border Post
as the festive season gets into full swing.

On Monday last week, Tsvangirai dispatched a high-powered delegation led by
Gorden Moyo, the Minister of State in the PM's Office to the port - one of
the busiest in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Moyo was accompanied by the Principal Director in Deputy Prime Minister
Mutambara's Office Paul Mavima, principal Chief Immigration Officer,
Clemence Masango and senior officials from the Ministry of Finance and the
Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra).

The purpose of the visit was to assess the level of preparedness in handling
travellers during the festive season as well as to explore possible
solutions to some of the immediate challenges.

Among other things, the delegation established that the border post was now
"porous", which has led to a surge in the number of people crossing without
proper documents.

In a report he compiled after the visit, Moyo said urgent interventions were
needed to prevent the situation from exploding.

"There is congestion at the border post," said Moyo is his report.

"There are lots of imported vehicles that have not been cleared; warehouses
are full of impounded goods; the facility is in disrepair with some ceilings
falling off or cracking, there is no perimeter fence and the city rank is an

"Several beggars have indeed taken residence at the rank and in the open."

The minister said the Immigration and Zimra facilities at the border were
"technologically depleted" making it impossible for them to handle the

"The Department of Immigration is not computerized at Beitbridge and
elsewhere in the country," Moyo said.

"While the Department has the computer hardware, it needs US$600 000 to pay
for the software.

"The software has already been developed by a local ICT consortium.

"This is a national project which will see the Department being computerised
at all important ports of entry.

"At the national level, US$2.9 million will be needed."

Poor connectivity has also slowed down the processes at Zimra, Moyo said.

"Zimra has three internet links with Harare which are usually down," he

"Real time communication with their servers in Harare is a challenge.

"Also due to connectivity problems they cannot utilise the Ascuda World
system for clearing tracks, which would make the process very fast."

Because of the challenges stemming from incessant - and usually
unannounced - load shedding, the agencies end up resorting to manual
processing, causing serious delays.

The report proposes that "it might be necessary to arrange for the Border
post to be connected to the South African side for power".

Delays in the clearance of imported cars has also led to congestion of the
runway meant for travellers.

It also emerged in the report that the staffing levels at both Zimra and
Immigration were poor, mostly due to the shortage of accommodation in

Moyo tabled a proposal to get 30 additional staffers for Zimra and suggested
the use of mobile houses to ease the accommodation challenge.

The depletion of security structures at the border, noted Moyo, was now
causing problems with the authorities on the South African side of the

Beitbridge is also the busiest inland port in Southern Africa.

"The Border post is porous. It leads to people going through the Border Post
without proper travel documents which creates tension with the South African
immigration department," adds the report.

As a result of the security challenges, which have been worsened by the
vandalism to the perimeter fence, Moyo said there has been an increase in
robberies and thefts from travellers.

"Beggars also come to the border post, which does not give a good impression
to tourists visiting the country through this port of entry.

"The recommendation is to have protective perimeter fencing and CCTV."

On Friday, Moyo said the challenges at the border town were a result of the
political neglect of many years.

"To be honest, I think the border post has suffered like all other
institutions in terms of severe economic dislocation in the country. We need
to put in place resources for infrastructure development," Moyo said.

The December festive season has always been among the most challenging for
the port because of the high volumes of travellers.


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Council Probes Chiyangwa Land Deals

Saturday, 19 December 2009 16:47

THE Harare City Council has stopped businessman Phillip Chiyangwa from
developing a stretch of land in Borrowdale pending investigations into how
he acquired it. Minutes tabled by Council's Environment and Management
Committee at a full council meeting on Thursday show that Chiyangwa has been
served with an Enforcement Order and a Prohibition Order to allow for the

The committee said it had observed that a public open space and recreational
area in Borrowdale was being developed into a multipurpose park.

"The committee undertook a visit of inspection to the site on November 26,
2009 and arising from previous minutes, the committee expressed concern that
planning processes had not been followed and also illegal developments had
started on the land," the committee said in its report tabled at the

It also said it had established that Chiyangwa had been developing the land
through his Kilma Investments Company.

In an interview yesterday, Harare Mayor Muchadeyi Masunda said the orders
effectively froze any further developments on the site.

The committee also expressed concern that Council had issued "so many stands
to Chiyangwa" and recommended a suspension on further sale of land to him
and companies associated with him.

An ad hoc committee has since been set up to investigate issues surrounding
all land allocated to the businessman and his companies.

Chiyangwa's Pinnacle Properties has in recent months caused a storm among
some city residents following a flurry of property developments including
shopping malls, hotels and housing estates.

Masunda said in the past three months, Council received complaints
concerning Chiyangwa's land developments, which in some cases flout
environmental laws as they are being carried out on wetlands.

Some of the complainants are residents of Borrowdale and Ballantyne Park.

"On Monday, some residents furnished me with a list of Chiyangwa's land
projects they are not happy about," Masunda said. "This delegation of
residents said it had established that no Environmental Impact Assessment
survey had been done on the pieces of land where these projects were being
carried out."

He said Council has since established that Chiyangwa acquired most of the
land during the days of a caretaker commission which ran the city's affairs
before the current council.

Local Government and Urban Development Minister Ignatious Chombo appointed
the caretaker commission, chaired by Michael Mahachi, which ran the city's
affairs for six months before the new council's assumption of office in July
last year.

In an interview on Friday, a fuming Chiyangwa said he had not been served
with any orders and declared that Council had no right to stop him from
developing any land as he had acquired it through legal means.

He said if Council attempted to block him from developing the areas
suspected to have been corruptly allocated to him, he will influence Chombo
to replace the MDC-T dominated council with a commission.

Chombo has in the past replaced popularly elected MDC-T councils in Harare,
Chitungwiza and Mutare with Zanu PF commissioners after accusing them of
failing to run the local authorities.

"If they attempt to block me, I will unblock their stupidity and ignorance
through a court order," Chiyangwa said. "I will unblock with Chombo who will
fire all of them and appoint a commission to run the city's affairs or have
they forgotten that they do not have the final say in the way the city's
affairs are run?"

The former Zanu PF chairman for Mashonaland West also said he will even go
to Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and President Robert Mugabe if anyone
attempted to stop him from "empowering blacks".

Chiyangwa, who said he had proof that he owned all the land under
investigation said he had been using council as a bank for his land "before
these MDC hoodlums came".

He said Council was in fact indebted to him as it owed him a lot of land,
most of it banked in 2007.

"I own all the land they are talking about," he said. "I never bought any
land from council and those ignorant MDC councillors should check their
records and see how much indebted they are to me.

Chiyangwa accused Masunda of "trying to fight Old Mutual wars in council"
but did not elaborate.

Masunda, who sits on the Old Mutual board, dismissed the claim as cheap talk
and said he will recuse himself from any cases involving companies he has an
interest in.


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Beitbridge Woman Sues Magistrate Over Arrest

Saturday, 19 December 2009 16:45

A Beitbridge businesswoman is suing a senior magistrate in the town for
allegedly ordering her detention after she failed to pay a R50 000 bribe.
Sarah Chauke is claiming US$50 000 from magistrate Jabulani Mzinyathi and
Beitbridge businessman Washington Kanyangu in damages for alleged "unlawful
arrest and malicious prosecution".

According to the summons filed at the Harare High Court, sometime this year
Mzinyathi & Kanyangu tried to extort R50 000 from Chauke.

No reasons were stated on the summons on why the two wanted to extort money
from her.

She said the two men acting in concert caused her arrest, after she failed
to raise the money they wanted. As a result, she said she was arrested and
spent six nights in police cells.

Chauke was arrested in August after she was implicated in the theft of
cables worth US$66 000.

She allegedly connived with John Makusha, Costa Mapolisa and Respect Chauke
to steal from the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa)
installations. They also allegedly stole a further 620kg from the National
Railways of Zimbabwe in Lutumba in Beitbridge.

After Chauke was granted bail she was arrested again for allegedly
interfering with the state witness, Philemon Moyo.

The same month Chauke was caught in another controversy when a senior army
officer she was double-dating was shot by a rival.


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RBZ blames Biti for Cash Shortages

Saturday, 19 December 2009 16:42

THE Reserve Bank has accused Finance Minister Tendai Biti of abetting the
cash shortages threatening to spoil the promising festive season for most
Zimbabweans. But the latest tirade is seen a continuation of the bitter war
between underfire RBZ governor Gideon Gono and Biti who has set in motion
legal mechanisms to reform the central bank, which had become notorious for
oiling the Zanu PF machinery and fuelling hyper-inflation.

Long queues have become the order of the day at most banks as preparations
for the festive season intensify.

However, banks were unable to dispense cash to clients and in most cases
this was a blow to many workers who were hoping to have the first decent
festive season in three years.

The cash crisis brought back bitter memories of the 2007-2008 when clients
slept in queues in a desperate bid to access their money.

The RBZ, despite its penchant for printing money, failed to keep pace with
rampaging inflation that worsened the demand for cash.

But this time the central bank says Biti's delays in appointing the RBZ
board and the underfunding of its activities fuelled the fresh crisis.

"The central bank is being acutely under-funded by Treasury (Ministry of
Finance) leaving the institution with no capacity to independently perform
the lender of last resort function let alone afford to import currency for
banks," RBZ said.

Biti was unavailable for comment yesterday.

RBZ said in 2009 it received US$1.5 million from the Ministry of Finance to
cover all operations, overheads and any other statutory obligations the bank
had to implement.

"Accordingly, therefore, all banking institutions are expected to make their
own arrangements in importing multiple currency cash to meet their customers'
demands," RBZ said.

The statement, which was unsigned, said the RBZ will continue to impress on
government, through the Ministry of Finance "that continuation of the
current acute under-funding of the central bank has pushed the financial
sector to the brink of systemic instabilities that would run counter to the
current positive momentum to stabilise and grow the economy".

Biti and Gono have been engaged in a battle for the control of the country's
financial levers since the formation of the unity government in February.

Despite the duo saying their alleged differences were a creation of the
media, their working relationship has deteriorated over the past six months.

Their wars have also divided politicians as evidenced by the current debate
on the RBZ Amendment Bill.

The Bill was passed by the House of Assembly but is facing resistance in the
Zanu PF-dominated Senate.

In the 2010 budget, RBZ was allocated US$10 million for all its operations
including the "sustenance of the electronic payment system and subscriptions
to SWIFT service providers", a figure monetary authorities say is too

RBZ said the Ministry of Finance was deliberately withholding the
appointment of a board of directors for the central bank that has seen the
apex bank operating without a board the whole of 2009.


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Harare Council to Mount Staff Audit

Saturday, 19 December 2009 16:39

HARARE City Council is to undertake a human resources audit to flush out
ghost workers, in an exercise modelled along the ongoing civil service audit
which has sent shock waves among government employees. Council's Human
Resources and General Purposes Committee met last Tuesday and recommended
that an audit committee be set up to spearhead the exercise expected to
commence next month.

The proposal came at a time when government is also conducting an audit
which is understood to have unearthed several thousand ghost workers in the
civil service.

The audit was instituted after concerns that Zanu PF militias were being
rewarded through the civil service.

Thousands of civil servants who had deserted their jobs at the height of the
economic crisis were also suspected to be still on the payroll.

The Harare council has been run by successive commissioners with Zanu PF
links and there is concern that the same patronage system could have been
extended to its human resources department.

"We want an audit like the one being carried out by the government whereby
people bring their certificates. We want a head count of each and every
employee," Ward 17 Councillor, Warship Dumba said at a full council meeting
on Thursday.

According to minutes of the Human Resources Committee tabled at the meeting,
councillors heard that some workers report for duty in the morning to sign
the attendance register but disappear to pursue their private work.

The committee also felt that some workers were being overpaid as their
salaries did not match the work they were doing.

Councillors at the meeting also expressed concern over what they called
"unbecoming and disrespectful" behaviour from some council employees,
especially those from the water division which was recently handed back to
council by the Zimbabwe National Water Authority.

In the report, the Human Resources Committee said it was concerned that
Harare Water employees were being treated as if they were a special group.

The committee also expressed concern over the employees' "negative attitude"
towards Mayor Muchadeyi Masunda when he recently addressed them on two
different occasions.

"Those people who showed disrespect to His Worship the Mayor of Harare
should be disciplined for their behaviour," Cllr Peter Moyo said.

"We cannot have employees standing up in front of a lot of people and using
abusive language towards His Worship the Mayor of Harare, a man respected by
the international community."

The committee also submitted that some Harare Water union leaders allegedly
pre-occupied themselves with union business during working hours without
permission from the employer.

"These union members are indeed a big problem," Cllr Casper Takura said.

"I know of one union member who has not set foot in his workplace for the
past six or seven months but continues to enjoy the benefits of a good

"We also remember that the Town Clerk was recently dragged from his office
by one of these employees and nothing happened to the culprit.

"We are setting a bad precedent; we need to discipline these people."

Councillors said some workers from the water department arrogantly declare
that they are not council employees.

Others said disciplining the workers remained difficult because the workers'
reporting process differed from other employees as "they do their own thing
and do not report to the District Officer like other employees".

The committee recommended that the Human Resources Director take tougher
steps and ensure that Harare Water employees are treated like all other

However, Masunda called for tolerance, saying the handover of Harare's water
was still an ongoing exercise.


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At Long Last, a Merry Christmas!

Saturday, 19 December 2009 16:23

Many years have passed since Erasmus Marombo  visited his rural home in
Gokwe, in the Midlands for the Christmas and New Year holidays. This year,
however, Marombo will temporarily "shut down" his shoe-making business next
to Harare's Mbare Musika long-distance bus terminus and travel to Gokwe,
together with his family.

"I just want to go and be merry with my people. It has been some time since
we gathered as a family and slaughtered a beast," said Marombo, trying to
stitch a rather worn out safety shoe.

"I have already bought some goodies and new clothes for everyone at home.

"If I sell just one pair of shoes, I make about US$10, which is enough to
buy a few groceries."

From just watching the hustle and bustle at Mbare Musika long-distance bus
terminus, it is clear that this year's festive season things are different -
there is a turn for the better.

"This year it is just fabulous, things are really working. It is easy to
plan now," said Christine Chimbwanda, a vendor.

"Now I can go into a supermarket with all the assurance that I will get the
items I want at a known price,  unlike last year when I would just carry
wads of notes and get into town and let fate decide what I would buy and

"I know that everyday I make US$5 on average."

Last year, Chimbwanda could neither go to her rural home in Murehwa nor
bought clothes for her children.

She is going home this week and has already bought "lots of new clothes" for
her children.

"We last experienced this many years ago. Celebrating Christmas had become
more of a luxury, but this year we are going to celebrate it like never

Over the last few years, the bliss usually associated with Christmas had all
but vanished in Harare, and Zimbabwe as a whole as a result of the
unfavourable economic situation.

But the formation of the inclusive government, and the subsequent scrapping
of the Zimbabwe dollar, has resulted in life for the ordinary person
improving considerably.

Supermarket shelves which were bare last year are brimning with merchandise
and shoppers are spoilt for choice.

On Friday, the Central Statistical Office said Zimbabwe, which had been
plagued by hyper-inflation for nearly a decade had switched to price falls
on a monthly basis.

The CSO said prices in November were 0.1% lower than in October.

Inflation, which peaked at 230 million percent officially, has slowed down
significantly since the country adopted multiple currencies in February.

"Of course, the money is still not enough, but we are far, far better
compared to what was happened last year," said Ignatious Chinembiri, a
school teacher from Wazvaremhaka near Chivhu.

"Last year we had planned to go home, but we failed because the money was
just not enough.

"We had to save the little we had for school fees and basic essentials."

Chinembiri was accompanied by his wife, Jacqueline, and children.

A tout at the terminus, Philip Munyonho believes this year everyone is going
to have a great Christmas.

But it's not everyone who is having a merry Christmas. Simbarashe Nkomana, a
vendor at the makeshift bus terminus at the Harare Show grounds says for him
this will be the worst Christmas in recent memory.
"I don't want to lie to you, gore rino zvakapressa (this year things are
tough)," said Nkomana, who sells soft-drinks and mobile phone airtime
vouchers at the undesignated small rank.

"I have to work extra hours for me to realise any meaningful returns from my

"Last year, I sold a 300ml soft drink for R10, but this year the highest I
can get from that is R5.

"If I sell two drinks for US$1 that translates to slightly more than R3 per
bottle, which means the profit is just a few cents."

While everyone else will be going to their rural homes to spend Christmas
with friends and relatives, Nkomana will have to stick around and try to
raise a little bit more cash.

In Bulawayo residents are reliving the festive seasons of the past
characterised by the influx of Zimbabweans based in South Africa popularly
known as injiva.

But what are the political parties up to this festive season?

The leadership of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) formation led by
Arthur Mutambara has come up with a position that on Christmas Day there
should be no political activity.

Party spokesperson Edwin Mushoriwa said Christmas should be a time for
everyone, including politicians, to spend time with their families.

"We do not have any activities as a party lined up for Christmas," Mushoriwa

"As a party, our belief is that the foundation of a good country is in a
strong family. We believe the festive season is time for people to be with
their families, people should be together. Political activity has to pave
way for the family because for us, that is the foundation for everything."

His party's secretary-general, Welshman Ncube said it was essential that
they take a short break to be with their families, and reflect seriously on
the year.

But Mushoriwa's counterpart in the MDC-T, Nelson Chamisa, said for them
there was no time for family. His party has lined up rallies across the

"The real Christmas present is delivering change to the people of Zimbabwe.
We have no time to retreat into our cocoons, it has to be work all the
 time," said Chamisa, who is scheduled to address a rally in Kuwadzana on

"We cannot enjoy Christmas and forget that there is next year to be dealt
with. Next year we hope to bring real change in terms of issues of the
constitution, national healing and cohesion."

In an attempt to brighten Christmas for ordinary Zimbabweans, Deputy Prime
Minister Thokozani Khupe has embarked on a nationwide tour of hospitals and
prisons, where she interacts mostly with female inmates.

It could not be established whether leadership of the Zanu PF would be hard
at work this time or could be having a break after their recent congress
exposed sharp divisions in the party.


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Grace Mugabe linked to farm evictions

Saturday, 19 December 2009 16:20

THE First Lady Grace Mugabe has been linked to moves to evict 1 200 newly
resettled farmers from a Mazowe Farm to make way for a new game park.
Confused farmers said they were given less than a week to vacate Arnold Farm
a few days after Mrs Mugabe toured the area accompanied by Transport
Minister Nicholas Goche, Zanu PF deputy spokesperson Ephraim Masawi, police
officers and officials from the Ministry of Lands.

But Mashonaland Central governor, Martin Dinha, sought to distance Mugabe
from the farm saying she had never visited the area, which he said had been
set aside for a game park to be developed by Chinese and South African

However, the settlers insisted they were told that orders to evict them had
come from the highest office and their last day on the farm was supposed to
be December 11.

Most of the farmers said they had nowhere to go after arriving at the farm
nine years ago as part of Zanu PF's militant land reform programme.

Claris Chiminya (39) who has five children said she could not just abandon
her thriving maize crop after she paid US$80 for a tractor to plough her
three-hectare plot.

"I have always done my best to ensure that I get a good yield to feed the
family and also sell to the Grain Marketing Board and Cottco," Chiminya

"Last year I harvested six bales of cotton and a lot of maize, some of which
is still in the hut despite us having sold and eaten some.

"This year I wanted to do better than that hence the decision to sacrifice
the little money I had to do dry planting."

Chiminya like most of her neighbours got seed, fertiliser and chemicals from
Cottco through a loan that she must repay after harvest next year.

Zanu PF Mazowe Ward 19 chairman Christopher Mahachi said everyone at the
farm was given four days to vacate despite the need to get clearance to move
livestock among other things.

"Chief Negomo, the paramount chief in this area, came to me on Monday
accompanied by someone he said was a chief officer from the Lands ministry
and told me that we should all vacate this farm the following morning,"
Mahachi said.

Mahachi said he was advised to tell the people that government wanted to
start a project on the farm, which will create employment for 9 000 people.

"We were told that since we were only 1 200 families, we cannot disturb
government in this project as it stood to benefit more people," Mahachi

He said they were told that even if they appealed the order would not be
reversed because it came from "the top".

Mahachi said Elliot Manyika, the late Zanu PF commissar, once warned them
that the farm was not for resettlement but they were assured by government
officials that alternative land for them would be found.

"Why did they not evict us before the elections," said another settler,
Tafara Mudzamiri.

"These people are treating us like a grader, leaving us to clear this land
which was a dense forest and now throwing us out like used tissues.

"Even witches will not do this to us. They should at least allow our crop to
mature so we can have food to feed our families next year."

However, Dinha said the people were illegally settled on the farm and
accused them of degrading the environment.

"They have done a lot of damage in that area ranging from wanton cutting
down of trees, illegal gold panning and game poaching," he said. "You will
remember that the farm is one of the three farms covering Manzou Game Park,
which was designated Nehanda National Monument in 2004.

"Present on that farm is the holiest traditional site called Baradzwana
where Nehanda was captured."

He denied claims by the settlers that they have been given less than a week
to leave and said a meeting to discuss the issue was scheduled for last
Tuesday. But it emerged that he only sent his representative to the farm.

Dinha then warned: "But the bottom line is that everyone is moving,
including both legal and illegal miners that could be found on the farm
because everyone knows that the area is not for people or mines but for
animals," he said. "We will soon fence the area and bring back the animals."

The First Family has been linked to at least five farms that were grabbed
from white commercial farmers during the chaotic land reform programme.

At least 4 000 farmers lost had their land after it was seized during the
often violent occupations.


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Minister Launches Male Circumcision as an HIV Preventive Measure

Saturday, 19 December 2009 15:44

HEALTH and Child Welfare Minister, Henry Madzorera last week launched the
national male circumcision (MC) policy for HIV prevention with a call for
more support from various partners to expand the implementation of the
programme. Madzorera said the introduction and subsequent roll out of MC
services in the country was an additional HIV prevention mechanism that
government was taking seriously.
He said a recent study by government to assess the acceptability of MC in
Zimbabwe showed that 45% of men were interested in the procedure while other
studies have put the figure as high as 62%.
Various studies have shown that male circumcision significantly reduces the
risk of heterosexual HIV infection.
Experts say when done correctly, circumcision could reduce the risk of men
being infected with HIV by 60%.
"The concept of male circumcision requires strong and concerted efforts from
all stakeholders," Madzorera said.
"My ministry is working to ensure that the procedure helps to strengthen
other health services in Zimbabwe and does not interrupt or divert resources
from other primary health care services."
The minister said government had put in place a steering committee that
included the National AIDS Council, Zimbabwe National Family Planning
Council (ZNFPC), Population Services International, the World Health
Organisation and the United Nations Population Fund to "spearhead the
planning, monitoring and implementation of quality MC services."
Among other issues, the policy recommends that male circumcision must be
provided as part of a comprehensive national HIV prevention package and not
offered in isolation as the method is not full proof.
It also says the initiative must not compete or divert resources from other
health programmes and this makes it critical for additional resources to be
mobilized for both MC and the strengthening of health systems.
Madzorera said the MC policy had received backing from local and
international HIV and Aids implementing partners.
Early this year government established a training centre for MC at ZNFPC
offices in Harare and four learning sites in Karanda (Mashonaland Central),
Mutare General Hospital (Manicaland), Manyame Air Base in Harare and a
stand-alone site in Bulawayo.
All four sites are now fully operational.


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Feltoe Wins Kamba Award

Saturday, 19 December 2009 15:39

UNIVERSITY of Zimbabwe (UZ) law lecturer Professor Geoff Feltoe was last
Friday named the winner of this year's edition of the Professor Walter
Joseph Kamba Rule of Law Award. The award was inaugurated this year in
honour of the late first Vice-Chancellor of the UZ who ranked among the best
law scholars to emerge from Zimbabwe and also to make an international
Supreme Court Judge, Justice Wilson Sandura won the inaugural award in
Accepting the award at a ceremony organised by the Law Society of Zimbabwe
(LSZ), Feltoe said he was humbled by the honour as he felt there were many
others who deserved it.
Expressing his thoughts on the state of the legal profession, Feltoe said
there was a worrying trend where a few members were undermining the rule of
"Some of them were taught by me, but I emphatically deny any liability for
their actions," he said.
"Fortunately, the bulk of our practitioners are committed to the struggle to
secure observance of the rule of law."
The guest of honour at the awards ceremony, Justice Pius Langa, who retired
as South Africa's Chief Justice spoke highly of Kamba, whom he described as
a person who " never tired, never faltered" even when circumstances spelt
danger for him.
Delivering a lecture on Human Rights and the Rule of Law, Langa said there
were always bound to be challenges when a country transforms from one regime
to another.
"A major challenge to any transitional government is how to handle those
whose actions caused suffering under the previous regime," he said.
"On the one hand there is the rule of law and the requirement that those who
act contrary to the law are treated accordingly and on the other is the need
to move on, to ensure peaceful transition and to build a future."


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