The ZIMBABWE Situation
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Sandura To Hear MDC Fire Arms Case

Harare, December 20, 2009 - Supreme Court Judge Justice Wilson Sandura will
on Monday hear an appeal filed by the Attorney General (AG) Office opposing
bail granted to incarcerated Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) transport
manager, Pasco Gwezere.

AG law officer Tawanda Zvekare invoked Section 121 of the Criminal Procedure
and Evidence Act (CPEA) to suspend Gwezere's bail order granted by High
Court Judge, Justice Charles Hungwe in November.

In a notice of hearing addressed to Alec Muchadehama, who is representing
Gwezere and the AG's Office, the Supreme Court Registrar advised that the
State's appeal against the granting of bail to Gwezere would be heard in
Justice Sandura's chambers on Monday morning.

"Take notice that the above application will be heard in chambers before
Sandura JA on Monday the 21st day of December 2009 at 9:30 am or so soon
thereafter as counsel may be heard," read part of the notice of hearing sent
to both counsel on Thursday.

Gwezere,  who is facing charges of stealing firearms from Pomona Army
Barracks One Engineers Support Regiment Armoury respectively, on 20 October
2009 together with a lady only identified as Getrude and several army
officers to steal 20 AK-47 rifles and a shotgun, which they took to an
unknown destination was abducted by state security agents from his home in
Mufakose in October.

The second charge of undergoing military training at Soroti Camp in Uganda
as part of a plot to topple President Robert Mugabe's government was
dismissed by a Harare Magistrate court for lack of evidence.

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Crime and disease are fallout from farm destruction

Written by Staff Reporter
Friday, 18 December 2009 16:36
MARONDERA -- The world-renowned Mitchell and Mitchell horticulture project,
which once made daily deliveries of produce to London, is no more.
Zanu (PF) hardliners invaded part of Rakodzi farm and grabbed a 51 percent
stake in the flourishing project. And the fall-out from the collapse of the
business has touched thousands of people in the area.  The company had to
lay off 90 per cent of the workforce to worsen joblessness in a Mashonaland
East province.
Mitchell drew its workers from Marondera town, Murehwa, Svosve, Seke,
Goromonzi and Macheke communal lands, and their redundancy has affected all
these communities. Children have dropped out of school, opportunistic
illnesses such as tuberculosis and Kwashiorkor have taken their toll on
vulnerable families and vices such as prositution and robbery are on the
Settlers surrounding the farm and new farmers have looted the horticulture
infrastructure. Irrigation pipes, sprinklers, green- house nets and other
items have been stolen - some of them reappearing for sale in Mozambique.
During the past decade of economic disaster, Mitchell and Mitchell was one
of the few surviving foreign currency earners in the failed state.
High-ranking Zanu (PF) politicians, including some in the presidium, have
been accused of grabbing shares in the business, which employed more than 4
000 workers at its peak.
After threatening the farm owner, a Zanu (PF) supporter believed to be a
manager at the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) in Harare, allegedly grabbed
part of the Mitchell project after invading Sanzara farm. He then seized 51
percent shares in the remaining portion of the enterprise.
Following the ceding of majority shareholding to the central bank worker,
the export business began to run at a loss and a partnership with Rolex
South Africa began to crumble. Rolex had transported some of the produce to
South Africa for packaging and labelling before exporting to Western
The horticulture venture based on the growing and exporting of runner beans,
tender-stem peas, carrots and other vegetables was forced to close down. The
red and white articulated Rolex trucks that used to arrive daily are nowhere
to be seen.
It seems Zanu (PF) has killed the goose that laid the golden egg. Mitchell
has had no option but to quit horticulture and venture into tobacco growing,
which requires less labour. The hijacked farm, now operating as Mitchell and
Dhiziri, has prepared 80 hectares for the golden leaf. The project is funded
by a loan from Northern Tobacco Company.
One of the workers who was there at the start of the original horticulture
project, Susan Mbarame (85), looks back in sorrow. "It pains me  to learn
that the Mitchells' efforts are going to waste," she said.
"What will become of the parents and schoolchildren whose lives depended on
the generosity and hard work of the Mitchells. We do not have anywhere to
go." Most farm children have dropped out of school.

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Zimbabwe-Lawyers demand government protection

By John-Chimunhu

Published: December 20, 2009

Harare   Zimbabwean lawyers have demanded government protection in the face
of increased attacks by state officials linked to President Robert Mugabe,
including Attorney-General Johannes Tomana and his nephew Michael Mugabe.

Their petition was presented to Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, the
Supreme Court, Parliament Speaker Lovemore Moyo and Senate President Edna

"Lawyers in private practice have been victimized after being identified
with the causes of their clients. They have, during the last year (as in
previous years), frequently been arbitrarily arrested, detained and
maliciously prosecuted on allegations of 'obstructing or defeating the
course of justice'. No such prosecution has resulted in a conviction,
reinforcing the perception that lawyers are being persecuted rather than
being prosecuted," the petition said.

The lawyers said the continued attacks had impacted negatively on the rights
of their clients, including access to legal representatives of their choice.

Other complaints included:

* Denial of access to clients;

* Verbal and physical attacks on lawyers at police stations, in their

through the state-controlled media and in the courtroom;

·        Human rights lawyers in particular often endured physical and
psychological attacks such as assaults, death threats, stalking and
attempted abductions;

·        Being denied prompt and unrestricted access to clients by law
enforcement and intelligence agents and judicial officers;

·        Criminal charges being brought against lawyers in the public sector
and judicial support staff who exhibited impartiality in their work.

The lawyers complained that denial of access rights to their clients placed
the individuals at risk of  'disappearances, torture and other cruel,
inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment'.

The lawyers called on the executive to uphold the rule of law, observe and
respect court orders, fight against impunity, ensure the constitutional
guarantee of an independent judiciary, respect the principle of separation
of powers and guarantee freedom from interference in the work of lawyers.

They also called for the amendment of the Rules of Procedure to ensure
unhindered access  to all courts , the speedy handling of chamber
applications  and speedy determination of contempt of court proceedings of
defiance of court orders by members of the executive and other errant

To the legislature, they appealed for the establishment of an independent
parliamentary committee to investigate attacks on the legal profession and
continued use of the controversial Criminal Law (Codification and Reform)
Act to continue holding successful bail applicants. Pic:Lawyers gather in
protest of government enginnered persecution {Credits-Privilege Musvanhiri]

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Mugabe orphanage looted by war vets

By John-Chimunhu

Published: December 20, 2009

Goromonzi   Auxillia Chonyera breaks down in tears as she relates the dire
state of affairs at Mbuya Nehanda orphanage, set up by the late Sally Mugabe
in 1997.

Chonyera, the assistant matron of the orphanage, relates vividly the horrors
she and more than 100 children faced in 2008 after the government failed to
provide assistance as expected. The orphanage degenerated into a
Dickens-style homeless centre where the children would go for days without
food and many died due to nutrition-related complications and other

"There was no food and we used to fight a lot. Some of the bigger boys would
beat you and take the little food that you were given and you would go to
bed hungry," said one of the children.

Chonyera said, "Sometimes a well-wisher would provide some vegetables but
there was no mealie meal and the children would go to bed on that. It was

She said many of the children coming to Nehanda had already been weakened by
living on the streets, which is why they succumbed to diseases. Many were
emotionally unstable after suffering sexual and other forms of abuse on the
streets. A lot of them did not trust or respect authority and were sure they
had been brought here to be starved to death as punishment for their crime
of 'vagrancy' and begging on the streets of Harare. Nehanda became a
prison - no less than a concentration camp - and many of the children fled
back onto the dirty streets to scavenge for scraps of food, even if that
meant losing a roof over their heads.

Controversy and Condemnation

Hastily set up as a children's home some 35 kilometres east of Harare in
1997 by President Mugabe's late wife Sally and former Harare mayor Solomon
Tawengwa to rid the streets of homeless children ahead of an international
conference, the orphanage initially received widespread condemnation from
rights groups.

Many suspected the children were being taken to a labour farm similar to
those set up in the Soviet Union during the days of communism. A lot of the
children rounded up in December 1996 fled soon after being deposited at the
farm previously used by demobilized female combatants of the 1970s
independence war.

The official version of events, still touted to this day, is that out of
compassion, the then First Lady decided to host a 'Christmas Party' for the
children. It is claimed that many of the children who attended the 'party'
decided to stay on at the farm as they had nowhere else to go.

That is far from the truth. The correct version, verified by experts at the
time, is that the government was nervous about the 'ugly' state of Harare as
it prepared to host an international conference. Officials were worried that
foreign dignitaries would be exposed to beggars, thieves and vagrants,
giving a 'bad' impression of the Mugabe government. Tawengwa then
master-minded a 'clean-up' of the capital's streets. This resulted in dozens
of children being arrested in a joint city council-police operation.

However, following protests that the children's rights had been violated as
they had been removed to a place far from their original location, churches
were allowed to take part in running the institution. They provided food,
counseling and education, but most of that is gone now.

Twenty-five children were the first to be admitted when the centre was
registered as a children's home in 1997.


According to a recent UN World Food Programme report, the orphanage was able
then to sustain itself through farming operations.

In a section entitled, "Justification for WFP Intervention" the UN report
says, "From the time the institution started operating as a children's home
in 1997, it was self-sufficient, operating lucrative piggery, poultry and

"Crop production was also a major source of food and income since the
institution is sitting on a 12-hectare farm that was donated to the First
Lady at the time by a white commercial farmer. Proceeds from the farm's
diversified activities were enough to cover all the requirements for the
institution, from salaries for employees to food, fees and clothes for the
inmates amongst other costs," adds the report.

The situation changed drastically in 2000 after the government initiated its
controversial land reform programme.

"Activities took a downturn after the departure of the British-born farm
manager during 2000 land seizures made by war veterans under Joseph
Chinotimba, (pictured). Production ceased, farming equipment and animals
were stolen and vandalized and considerable donations stopped since the farm
manager was also instrumental in sourcing funding from donors. On the other
hand, contributions from central government were eroded by inflation," the
report says.

WFP adds that unfavourable weather conditions in combination with lack of
technical farming skills, shortage of agricultural inputs worsened the
situation as crop yields were drastically reduced.

The home had to rely on a market riddled with shortages for supplies. When
the food supply situation improved they still faced shortages of hard
currency to buy food.

"The home survived on begging from local farmers, churches and well-wishers
but donations were not enough to feed over 100 people housed in the home
whilst employees went for months without salaries. As a result, food
security at the home continued to deteriorate, justifying the intervention
by WFP through its co-operating partner Help Age Zimbabwe," the report said.

WFP says institutions in need of assistance are now identified through Help
Age, which used to cater for the elderly but has widened the scope of its
work to include orphans and vulnerable children. Each of the 115 children at
Nehanda receives a monthly ration of cereals, pulses, vegetable oil and corn
soya blend, an enriched flour used to make nutritious porridge.

Although food shortages now appear to be a thing of the past at the centre,
the home is still saddled with numerous problems. Deaths and illness remain
the biggest concern. On October 9 a child died and another was taken out in
a critical condition.

"Many of the children are sick when they come here. You know how it is on
the street. Some are living with HIV/AIDS. Two boys who died here had been
sodomized and they were very sick when they came," Chonyera said.

Only 49 of the centre's residents are registered with the Department of
Social Welfare due to bureaucratic inefficiencies. Those who attend
secondary school have to walk 26 kilometres a day to and from school.

"We'd like to help but we can't. Some boys return to the streets to guard
cars. Many kids just disappear. We can't even track them," said the
assistant matron.

Help Age's Adonis Faifi said the children, especially girls, lacked things
that could make their lives more comfortable, such as clothes and sanitary
pads which food donors could not provide, but which were essential for life.

Rodwell Chitewe, a worker at the farm for 19 years and now employed by the
orphanage showed this correspondent the horrific carnage caused by war
veterans and senior Zanu PF officials. He would not name them but sources
said they were to blame for the deterioration of what had become a model
children's home.

"We used to grow maize, beans and vegetables for our own consumption and for
sale. In 2002 we used to have 38 cattle, mostly dairy cows. We could sell
the milk and buy vaccines and other supplies. Today we are left with four
cows producing only 10 litres a day. Many of our calves die because we can't
afford vaccines," Chitewe said.

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Massive passport backlog

Friday, 18 December 2009 11:13
HARARE - Zimbabwe's registry office is sitting on a backlog of more than 200
000 unissued passports as an acute shortage of foreign currency continues to
cripple vital state departments and enterprises, The Zimbabwean On Sunday
learnt last week.
The backlog was contributing to the problem of irregular migration by
undocumented Zimbabweans who are deported each month from South Africa and
Botswana, according to a document circulated among potential donors by the
International Organisation for Migration (IOM). "Due to inadequate capacity,
the Registrar General's Office has a backlog of over 200 000 travel
documents in its issuance system," said the IOM which is at the forefront of
efforts to stem illegal travel across the country's borders by undocumented
The RGl's Office has faced severe financial constraints over the past few
years which have seen it at one time stopping the issuing of identification
cards, passports and other crucial documents to citizens because there was
no hard cash to pay foreign suppliers of the special ink and films used to
produce the documents. Zimbabwe has grappled with a severe foreign currency
crisis since 1999 and itself the result of an unprecedented economic
meltdown described by the World Bank as the worst in the world outside a war
zone. Registrar-General Tobaiwa Mudede could not be reached for comment last
The department is the government's documentation nerve centre and also
provides materials such as ballot papers during elections. IOM said a survey
it conducted in 2007 had revealed that on six percent of Zimbabwean youths
had valid passports yet these were among the largest groups of people trying
to leave the country in search greener pastures across the Limpopo or in
Botswana. An estimated two million Zimbabweans are living in South Africa
the majority of them illegally, after fleeing their home country because of
hunger, political violence and economic hardships. The South African
Department of Home Affairs introduced a new visa system in April under which
it undertook to allow Zimbabweans to stay for up to 90 days without a visa.
"However, even with the new visa dispensation, without proper documentation,
irregular Zimbabwean migrants are vulnerable to exploitation, physical,
sexual abuse, and gender based violence during their journey and in host
countries, with little or no access to medical care or legal assistance,"
observed the migration organisation. Human rights groups say thousands of
Zimbabwean asylum seekers are routinely denied medical treatment by South
African health officials. Zimbabweans are subjected to harsh treatment by
South African health staff in the public services and often told to go back
home for medical treatment or alternatively charged exorbitant fees to
access public facilities despite policies to the contrary.
Thousands of Zimbabweans cross the border into South Africa daily, many
risking their lives to flee economic meltdown, political turmoil and a
critical lack of access to health care in their homeland.
In the past several years, the crisis in Zimbabwe has given rise to food
insecurity, an unprecedented cholera epidemic, political violence, rampant
unemployment, an escalating HIV crisis and the near-total collapse of the
health system. Upon arrival, many Zimbabweans endure further suffering in
South Africa, without access to proper health care, shelter or safety.
During their journey to and within South Africa, they are subjected to
violence, physical and verbal abuse, police harassment, inhumane living
conditions and xenophobic attacks.
According to the IOM documents, the organisation plans to assist the RG's
Office through a technical assessment of the travel document and identity
document issuing system, support to department's planned decentralization of
document issuance including identification of critical gaps, IT upgrades,
trainings and support in provision of documents.
The aid agency also plans to offer assistance to the RG's ongoing mobile
birth registration efforts in rural areas and mobile and vulnerable
population communities. It would also facilitate the creation of document
application desks at the reception and support centres it runs in Beitbridge
and Plumtree to enable illegal immigrants to immediately apply for documents
their return to Zimbabwe.

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Pressure mounts on new ZUJ leadership

December 20, 2009

By Our Correspondent

Harare - Pressure continues to mount on the new Zimbabwe Union of
Journalists (ZUJ) leadership to resign immediately and make way for new
elections to usher in a new executive more acceptable to the majority of

Disgruntled journalists in Harare have instituted plans to call for a
stakeholders' conference that shall seek to pronounce the death of the new
executive elected early this month and garner support for the installation
of an interim one that shall lead to the holding of fresh elections.

Meanwhile, dozens of journalists converged at Quill Club on Friday to review
the ZUJ congress with some calling for a radical approach to oust the new
executive, headed by Dumisani Sibanda, news editor for the state-controlled
Chronicle newspaper in Bulawayo.

Journalists feel a court process that has just been instituted by four
independent journalists will take long to resolve the impasse while the
rights of journalists continue to be trampled upon by the state and

"We are planning a stakeholders' conference of ZUJ members where we expect
more than 200 delegates to attend," said Stanley Gama, chairperson of the
national Press Club (Quill) who has taken the initiative to steer the

"This conference will pass a vote of no confidence in the new executive as
well as garner the necessary support for the making of amendments to the ZUJ
constitution to make it more democratic and user friendly."

Gama says there were multiple inconsistencies in the ZUJ elections in an
alleged plot by the former executive led by Matthew Takaona who allegedly
handpicked his own people and indirectly retains control of the union.

According to Gama, the stakeholders' conference to be held soon is expected
to reflect on the state of both the union and the general media environment,
amend the constitution and pass a vote of no confidence in the new

Journalists feel Takaona wants the troubled union to remain in the hands of
people he can easily manipulate and benefit from non-action amid an
envisaged probe into the affairs of his former executive which they claim
was no longer accountable to members.

During Friday's discussions, two senior journalists called for a more
aggressive approach to the ZUJ crisis.

Former ZUJ secretary general Luke Tamborinyoka and Dumisani Muleya,
secretary general of the Zimbabwe Journalists for Human Rights called on
journalists to pull the rug from under the feet of Sibanda and his executive
if it continues to refuse to step down in pave way for fresh and more
transparent elections.

Muleya is the news editor of the Zimbabwe Independent. He said journalists
risked losing the moral high ground to discharge their duties in monitoring
the operations of the state and other organisations if they do not
decisively confront issues relating to their own union.

"We are not going to do it if journalists are going to be disinterested," he
said. "Journalists must take this fight into their own hands and push it

"Journalists should strangle the executive financially or otherwise. Talking
to them does not help.

"We have got to undercut them. We have got to outflank them in this fight to
reclaim the union. Don't talk to them if they are not interested."

Muleya said the former executive headed by Takaona concentrated on spending
the finances of the union at the expense of the affairs of journalists.

"If George Charamba was here he would laugh his lungs out that we are
hopeless and not able to ensure there is a proper election in our own union
and yet we are calling for a proper election at a Zanu-PF congress and a
proper national election.

"We need ZUJ radically reformed as an organization that represents the
interest of journalists and deals with the welfare issues of journalists."

Tamborinyoka is the former secretary general of ZUJ. He also called for
journalists to confront the new executive. Tamborinyoka is now the director
for information in the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) led by Prime
Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, while

"The How Mine debacle that can now be referred to as journalism's June 27
emanates from the privatization of the constitution, venue and the electoral

"We now have the president and the two vice presidents from state media at a
time when we need vocal people who will advocate for media freedom. We can't
expect a (ZUJ) president from ,The Chronicle a vice president from the ZBC
and from the Herald to advocate for media plurality. They will be fired the
following day.

"So what those people who went to How Mine did was to gag their own union at
a time when we should be calling out for vocal people, strong people who
should be advocating for media freedom.

"The solution does not lie in the courts we are going to encounter appeal
and counter appeals and this union and this fraternity are going to be
moribund for a year or two. What is now needed is to call the owners of this
union who are journalists to call for an extra-ordinary meeting so that they
make a statement vis-à-vis the future of my beloved profession."

Also among the panelists were Zimbabwe National Editors' Forum chairman Iden
Wetherall and Andy Moyse, director of the Media Monitoring Project of
Zimbabwe (MMPAZ).

Controversy marred the ZUJ elections this month with some candidates
aspiring for positions in the new executive being allegedly denied an
opportunity to stand for election.

Questions were also raised as to the venue of the congress which, after
remaining secret until the day of the election, was switched to How Mine, a
remote location outside the city of Bulawayo.

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Public media promoted hate

Written by Staff Reporter
Friday, 18 December 2009 18:10
HARARE - Zimbabwe's public media acted as "active accomplices" in the theft
of the nation's democratic rights by cheering electoral malpractices and
hate speech by Zanu (PF), says a new report launched last week by a media
rights watchdog.
The report by Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe (MMPZ) said the state media,
comprising the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation and newspaper titles under
the Zimbabwe Newspaper Group (ZIMPAPERS) banner, were the backbone of Zanu
(PF)'s campaign in the 2008 elections.
MMPZ said the public media has been abused to become the arena of maligning
and vilifying Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's MDC-T, its leadership and
members at the expense of covering pertinent issues affecting the ordinary
man and woman.
The report said the ZBC and ZIMPAPERS were used - and continue to be used -
to exploit the myth propagated by President Robert Mugabe's party that
Zimbabwe is a victim of neo-Western imperialist interests to recolonise the
country and reverse the "gains of the liberation struggle" using the MDC-T.
"These media wholly instrumental in marketing the (former) ruling party's
campaign rhetoric branding the MDC as Western puppets plotting to unseat
President Mugabe's government outside the democratic framework," said the
152-page report, titled "The Propaganda War on Electoral Democracy".
This successfully fed an assertion that members of the MDC-T did not deserve
to have their democratic rights protected under the law. This was
exemplified by the Zanu (PF) leadership's accusations against the MDC-T
leadership and its threats of a return to war if Tsvangirai won the second
round of the presidential poll against Mugabe.
Public media publications such as The Herald and The Sunday Mail allegedly
played a major role in creating the hostile environment that characterised
the June 2008 presidential run-off between Mugabe and Tsvangirai, the report
"These media also played a crucial role in fanning the flames of hatred and
intolerance against the MDC, a legitimate political movement, at a time when
mobs of mostly Zanu (PF) militia under military instruction roamed the
countryside conducting a campaign of violent retribution against suspected
opposition supporters," said the report, which was launched by political
scientist John Makumbe in Harare last Thursday.
The ZBC was initially conceived as a public broadcaster but has been tightly
controlled by Mugabe's Zanu (PF) administration, which has the final say on
senior editorial and managerial appointments.
In addition to controlling the airwaves, Mugabe's party also runs the
country's largest newspaper empire after closing down four independent
papers including the Daily News that was Zimbabwe's largest circulating
paper when it was shut down in 2003.
Zimbabwe's power-sharing government early this year undertook to open up the
media to more players, agreeing to reform the country's restrictive media
regulatory environment so as to ensure press freedom.
Article 19 of a power-sharing agreement signed in September by Zimbabwe's
major political parties acknowledges the need for a free and diverse media

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GNU wants 40 companies off EU sanctions list

Saturday, 19 December 2009 16:16

BULAWAYO - The inclusive government is trying to persuade the European Union
(EU) to suspend sanctions on some of the 40 companies that were linked to
President Robert Mugabe's regime, a cabinet minister said last week. The EU
imposed restrictive measures on more than 240 individuals closely associated
with President Robert Mugabe as part of efforts to push for democratic
reforms in Zimbabwe and end the abuse of human rights.

Companies that were targeted include some parastatals such as the Zimbabwe
Iron and Steel Company (Zisco), the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation
(ZMDC) and the Zimbabwe Defence Industries.

Other affected companies were those controlled by Zanu PF and its

But Gorden Moyo, the Minister of State in the Prime Minister's office said
it was time the sanctions were reviewed in line with the new political

Moyo said one of the reasons some of the parastatals were included on the
list was because they were used by the previous administration to fund
repression but their operations had changed with the formation of the unity

"We are engaging the European Union as the government of Zimbabwe. Our
engagements are in many facets including that of the lifting of sanctions
imposed on about 40 companies prior to the establishment of this
 government," Moyo told a meeting organised by Bulawayo Agenda to review the
performance of the coalition formed in February.

"All we are saying is that while we appreciate that these companies played a
bigger role in sustaining Mugabe's government, there is need now to review
the situation and see what can be done to help save these companies from
imminent collapse."

Zisco is courting foreign investors to resuscitate its operations weighed
down by years of economic collapse, while ZMDC is overseeing diamond mining
in the Chiadzwa area of Manicaland.

Moyo said they were trying to impress upon the EU bloc to understand that
some of the companies were simply taking orders from the government of the

He said if the campaign succeeds, the government will put in place measures
to ensure that state-owned enterprises were not abused by politicians again.

"We have in place various strategies that we want to put in place to ensure
that these companies play a leading role in the resuscitation of the
economy," Moyo said.

"We are advocating for the lifting of the sanctions so that these companies
can play that role that we all expect them to play in the development of the

However, the minister bemoaned the slow pace of economic reforms saying it
was affecting the revival of Zimbabwe's once vibrant economy.

Moyo said despite a promising start during the first half of the year the
economic turnaround had slowed down due to unending disputes in the unity


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Zim business 2009: Annus Mirabilis!

Saturday, 19 December 2009 16:11

WHO would have imagined last year that by the end of 2009, shops would be
brimming with all kinds of consumer goods? Or that cars would fill tanks at
service stations and queues would indeed be "a thing of the past"?

Probably only those endowed with supernatural powers knew that. For the
majority of Zimbabweans, 2009 looked likely to be yet another agonizing year
characterised by unprecedented economic hardships and political violence.

But thanks to the efforts of the Southern African Development Community
(Sadc) early this year it seemed like a miracle when sworn political
enemies - President Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai, and Arthur
Mutambara - formed an inclusive government.

The political marriage, which has its fair share of problems, was all that
was needed to ensure a change in the fortunes of Zimbabweans.

Boosted by the use of multiple currencies or dollarisation there was price

In a short space of time, the so-called Zimbabwe's number one enemy -
inflation was tamed.

Even economists were left with egg on their faces as their forecasts that
the economy will shape up after 23 years, proved way off the mark.

It meant that the Central Statistical Office, overwhelmed by last year's
hyperinflation, could provide data which is useful to investors. With
month-on-month inflation at 0.8% as of October, it means that the 5.1%
target set in the 2010 national budget is within reach.

Indeed it was a year of wonders for businesses, moreso when the notorious
National Incomes and Pricing Commission was confined to comparing local
prices with those that obtain in the region.

The Goodwills Masimirembwa outfit had become the face of Mugabe's previous
administration's futile attempts to police prices.

The use of foreign currency meant that companies had the hard currencies
needed to import raw materials.

It was a relief, but for some they need recapitalisation to replace ageing
and obsolete equipment, which had driven production costs upwards meaning
that products were not competitive in the region.

Econet became the first and only company to declare an eight cents per share
dividend in a dollarised economy.

It was a near miracle that subscribers could in 2009 migrate from one
operator to another as sim cards were readily available, thanks to the use
of multiple currencies. The Sim cards' price went down from a US$150 to less
than US$10.

This was a departure from the past five years when sim cards became the most
prized possession to the extent that owning one became an investment.

The use of multiple currencies gave operators the much needed foreign
currency for expansion and they expanded in style: "fighting" each other
through advertising.

And for the first time in more than 10 years, the Postal and
Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe availed US$5 million
from the operators' contribution to cater for expansion in undeveloped

The Zimbabwe Stock Exchange reopened on February 19 after it closed for
three months.

Interest on the bourse by locals is picking up despite the liquidity

However, foreign investors' are snapping up shares at will as they are

There was also something to cheer about for the tourism sector. The
stabilisation of the political environment is a positive itself to an
industry driven by perceptions.

Government offered some fiscal incentives to revive the tourism industry
that has suffered from under investment during the past decade.

Under Statutory Instrument 46 of 2009 government allowed registered
operators to import specified motor vehicles, duty free.

Statutory Instrument 60 gave the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority mandate to grant
registered operators rebate on new capital equipment.

The fiscal incentives began on March 1 and run up to February 28, 2011.

Last month, Zimbabwe signed the Bilateral Investment Promotion and
Protection Agreement with South Africa signaling government's intentions to
attract investors.

In another plus, government said it had covered more ground in the creation
of a One- Stop Shop to simplify investment procedures.

Premier Finance Group (PFG), the parent company of Premier Banking
Corporation and Premier Asset Management lured African Development
Corporation with a 54% sweetener for US$6 million.

The new shareholder together with a consortium of local investors led by
George Manyere and Doug Mamvura now has an unassailable 82% shareholding in

Yet 2009 had its moments of madness: there were fights.

If it was not Tendai Biti against Gideon Gono, it was Nigel Chanakira and
John Moxon at each other's throats.

Gono and Biti are two individuals with big egoes and when they fight, it won't
be a small fight.

In the run up to last year's election, Biti equated Gono to an Al Qaeda who
should face the firing squad.

And so when Biti embarked on his proposed reforms of the central bank, Gono
saw this as a personal attack.

Biti won round one after the House of Assembly approved the amendments to
the Reserve Bank Act. The Bill now awaits approval from the Zanu
PF-dominated Senate.

Biti and Gono also squared off over the US$510 million "windfall" from the
International Monetary Fund meant to bolster reserves of Fund members.

The Chanakira-Moxon bout started last year but got uglier in 2009 as
irreconcilable differences between the two led to the demerger of KML.

It got nastier in January when Moxon was specified alongside TM Supermarkets
and five other investment vehicles.

TM was let off the hook in September, the same month government struck again
by specifying KML, Tanganda and Thomas Meikles Centre.

An EGM in June resolved that KML should demerge as it was clear that the
Moxon-Chanakira fight had eroded the reputation of the conglomerate.

As part of the demerger Moxon's appointees on the KFHL board were to resign
while Chanakira, Callisto Jokonya and Sibusisiwe Bango were to resign from
the KML board.

Moxon's appointees quit the KFHL board but the trio of Chanakira, Jokonya
and Bango dug in their heels.
An EGM was called in September to expel the trio. Chanakira obtained a High
Court order stopping the EGM on the grounds that he was ill. Another EGM to
evict the trio was set for October 16.

On the eve of the EGM, Chanakira and Moxon reached a landmark deal in which
Chanakira, Jokonya and Bango agreed to leave the KML board.

It was the intervention of brokers that ensured that the parties would talk


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€110m Boost for STERP

Saturday, 12 December 2009 15:47

THE European Union (EU) is in the process of implementing a 110 million euro
commitment to support Zimbabwe’s Short Term Emergency Recovery Programme
(STERP), a top diplomat said on Thursday.

Xavier Marchal, the EU head of delegation to Zimbabwe told participants at
the two-day seminar on Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) that Brussels
has been supportive of the county despite the 2002 suspension of government
to government cooperation.

“The EU has also committed to implement a 110 million euros Short Term
Strategy, in line with government priorities of the STERP. This commitment
is now being fulfilled,” he said.

STERP was launched in March as a stabilisation measure and will be succeeded
by a medium term plan.

Under STERP, government targeted to lift industry’s capacity utilisation to
60% from as low as 10%. Some industries such as beverages are operating at
80% capacity while others are below the forecast, according to Finance
Minister Tendai Biti.

Brussels’ move to honour the commitment on STERP is expected to speed up the
normalisation of relations with Harare based on Article 8 of the Cotonou

The EU has also thrown its weight behind the inclusive government but says
Zimbabwe has to fully implement the Global Political Agreement (GPA).

This will see the 27-member bloc responding by its own roadmap of
progressive normalisation of ties with Zimbabwe, Marchal said.

Zimbabwe’s bid to normalise relations with Brussels culminated in the
launching of a dialogue in June between a delegation led by Prime Minister
Morgan Tsvangirai and the EU ministerial troika.

Marchal said trade relations were not a subject of restrictions from the EU.
Zimbabwe has benefited from preferences under the African Caribbean and
Pacific (ACP) and EU relations under the Cotonou Partnership agreement,
Marchal said.

“She (Zimbabwe) can meet the existing beef export quota, and if she has not
met it, it is due to the Foot and Mouth Disease and not sanctions.

“As a sugar protocol country, she is significantly benefiting from financial
support for an adaptation strategy for the sugar industry,” he said.

Zimbabwe is a member of the Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) that is
negotiating for EPAs with the EU.

The government signed an interim EPA with the EU to secure the continuation
of free access to EU markets for the country as a non-least developed ACP

ACP countries used to enjoy unilateral trade preferences from the EU but
that honeymoon ended in December 2007 as the two blocs complied with the
world trading rules that allow for reciprocity in trade agreements.

The full EPA provides for duty and quota free market access on 100% ESA
exportable products into the EU.

It also provides for duty free and quota free market access on 80% of EU
exportable products into the ESA region by 2022.

Goods excluded from liberalisation include products of animal origin.

Cereals, beverages, paper, plastics and rubber and textiles and clothing.

Footwear, glass and ceramics, consumer electronics and vehicles are also
excluded from liberalisation.

But analysts say the level of development in ESA countries is different and
the opening up should also cater for the stages of development.

“If non-LDC countries are doing it in 15 years, LDCs are looking for a
longer period.

“The one-size-fits-all ends up being a problem,” said Moses Tekere, a trade
expert with the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa.

Statistics show that in 2007, total EU imports from the 11-member ESA bloc
were a mere 0.38% (Euro 3.17 billion) of all imports.

He says some countries are prepared to open up their markets up to 75%.

If Zimbabwe had not signed the interim EPA, it would have paid 14.9% duty on
tobacco to the EU.

However, EU exports to ESA raked in 3.96 billion euros.

Figures show that 61% of exports to the EU covered only eight products and
only 10 contributed provided the bulk of the exports.


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Working out a constitution for Zimbabwe …. how to do it and how NOT to do it

Thursday, 17 December 2009 17:26
In a chiefdom or kingdom of old there was no constitution. The ruler and his
‘house’ (dynasty) gave stability to the country. If he (in rare cases: she!)
was wise and just, the community lived a good life. If he was selfish and
foolish all people suffered.
But even in those days there were certain rules which the chief/king had to
be aware of and respect: “Ishe vanhu” (The chief/king is the people). He
depended on the goodwill and support of the community. The collective memory
told chief and people what their respective duties were.
Wise chiefs/kings did not strive for unlimited power and authority. Wise
rulers accepted advice and warnings from their councillors and any wise
Much of this wisdom has been lost. Our society today is much bigger than the
communities of those days. We face more difficult questions. We need more
brains, more dialogue and consultation to run a modern industrial,
technological society. It is wise today to agree on a body of basic rules
and laws written down. Just one ruler or one little group cannot cope with a
complex modern society.

Rules for our Rulers
Power left in the hands of only one man is a bad idea. One-man states and
one-party states end in disaster. The experience of fifty years of
Independent Africa has shown this. We need many people for running the
country, playing their different roles and complementing each other and also
respecting each other, men and women.
But these people – lawmakers, administrators, ministers, judges and
magistrates – do not own the country, and we are not their property. Quite
the opposite: we are the owners of the land and we give them their
Since they work for us, the people, we, the people, also have to work out
these rules and laws for them (“Rules for our Rulers”). ?These basic rules
and laws together are called our Fundamental Law or our Constitution. We all
of us have to agree on this basic law. If people do not respect it there
will be chaos and confusion.
You can compare it to playing sports. The players on a soccer field know the
rules. They accept the decisions of the referee. If they don’t there is no
play. If we have no rules for running the country there will be war and
violence. All will suffer.

The common good
The people working on the Constitution must have the good of the whole
nation, the ‘common good’, in mind. ?That is missing at the moment. Many
groups and individuals involved in the process think only of themselves how
they can frame a constitution that will favour them and their party: how can
we retain power and influence and continue enjoying the ‘fat of the land’?
They want power and they want all of it.
Wise people do not give all power to one man or one party, not even to their
own party. ?Wise people know that too much power is like eating too much
good food: you get sick, very sick; you vomit and lose all your energy and
strength. No one is to have limitless power and to rule forever.
Power must be shared among different players: a football team has eleven
players, no one does everything, but the ball must be passed from player to
player. A selfish player who keeps the ball to himself all the time is a bad
player. His team will lose.
It is foolish to give all power to just one person and his friends and
supporters. Powerful people will look down upon the majority, despise them
and treat them like dirt. The leaders must respect you, the people, who have
voted them into power and can also vote them again out of power.
That is why ordinary people – organised in trade unions, associations,
churches, parties, movements – must play their part in making these basic
rules which form the Constitution. These rules limit the power of the
leaders. If the people are not interested in these rules and do not craft
them carefully, they must not be surprised if leaders come to power who
abuse and oppress them.
Look what happened when all the power was given to the Executive President,
and Parliament was left powerless. If you do not want that to happen again
raise your voice, speak up!
Make sure they include a Bill of Rights: respect for the people must be
guaranteed, their life and dignity recognized in the Constitution.

Human dignity
As Christians we say that we were “created in the image of God”. That is the
root cause of our dignity, our importance, our value as human persons, men,
women and children, ‘from the moment of conception until natural death’. We
must make sure that this human dignity is recognised as the corner stone and
foundation of our Constitution. Laws that harm people must be thrown out. ?
We want leaders who respect us at all times, not just at election time when
they compete for our votes, while despising us at all other times as the
“masses”. If we give them too much power we no longer have any control over
them. We need, for instance, free media to tell them what we do not like
about them. Even on radio or TV we must be able to say: ‘Our children have
no schools, our sick no medicines, what are you going to do about it, Mr.
Christians must not say: “We do not care about this constitution-making
business; that is politics we do not want to get our hands dirty with. We
are happy as long as the Church is respected and can run good schools for
our children, and we can sing and pray. We leave politics to the
Talking like that is very foolish. You are handing the country and its
people over to people who hunger for wealth and luxury, but do not care
about you. You are handing the country over to wild dogs and hyenas. They
will eat you. Especially the poor will suffer.
But even the not so poor will have the little they have destroyed if they
tolerate leaders without respect for the people they rule. ?You must get
involved. You must accept responsibility and leadership if chosen to do so.
Not for your own advantage and profit, but for the good and the benefit of
your brothers and sisters, your children and grandchildren.

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Functional Institutions key in the recovery of Zimbabwe

Thursday, 17 December 2009 17:34
The current Minister of Finance in Zimbabwe, Tendai Biti (pictured), has
projected the economy of Zimbabwe to grow by a least 7 per cent. Also, the
IMF predicted a positive economic growth with a GDP of around 3 per cent to
3, 5 per cent.
Whatever the case, economists have predicted that the Zimbabwean economy is
poised to change for the better especially in the coming year (2010),
provided that the Government of National Unity (GNU) remains intact. An
increase in agricultural production and a good harvest for the 2009/2010
season will boost the economy. It is a well known fact that Agriculture in
Zimbabwe is the pillar/engine that drives the economy.
Furthermore, the agricultural sector is a multi-agent sector with a complex
chain of inputs, intermediates, outputs and markets that are highly
regulated. It is important, therefore, that we have working agricultural
institutions in place to support agricultural production. The central issue
of economic  history  and  development  is to account  for the evolution of
political and economic  institutions which create an economic  environment
that induces increasing  productivity.

Functional institutions
Institutions are defined as a set of constraints which govern the
behavioural relations among individuals or groups. Formal organisations such
as labour unions and employers organisations are institutions because they
provide sets of rules governing relationships both among their members and
between members and non members.
If the country does not have functional institutions which act as glue
within the state, then even the formation of the government of national
unity will not stabilize the economy, but instead create more complex
problems. For instance, the issue of the Reserve bank of Zimbabwe dealing
with the governor. What is more important is the strengthening of the
It is critical to assess the quality of institutions within the agricultural
sector; that is the relationship between farmers, input suppliers, creditors
and the market, and other institutions be they legal, social or political,
existing in Zimbabwe. Needless to say institutions play a vital role in
agriculture economic development.
With the introduction of new players in the sugar cane industry, the newly
resettled farmers have signed purchase and milling agreements with Hippo and
Triangle. Through these agreements the farmers are supplied with inputs
(fertilizers, seeds and chemicals), transportation of their produce to the
millers who will deduct money for these services rendered from the total
income earned from their produce.

Banks make life hard
Despite the clear rules set out perceptions of unfairness exist with regard
to this exchange relationship between cane growers' and millers. This kind
of negative perception that exists between the newly resettled farmers and
the millers may be a result of the political perceptions. Banks which are
suppose to provide credit to the newly resettled farmers make life difficult
for them as they do not poses the title deeds which are essential for
collateral purposes. The issue of land invasions and displacements of
commercial farmers coupled with lack of the judicial system to enforce
property rights also show the importance of functional institutions.
The Zimbabwean agricultural sector in the past 10 years has been
characterized by opportunistic buyers of produce. This has led to higher
transaction costs and poor coordination, hence the justification of properly
placed institution for agricultural economic development. As far as the
importance and effect of institutions on Agriculture is concerned they are
important for collecting, analyzing and disseminating information to small
scale farmers which will enable farmers to make a difference regarding what
to produce, when to harvest and where to sell their produce.
I would like to recommend that for institutions to work there is need to for
developmental societies to promote research and development and the need to
translate research into action. Lack of properly installed institutions has
weakened the ability to provide clear and consistent policies also limiting
the capacity to mobilize resources in pursuit of agriculture development.

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Break free from the prison of fear

Written by Editor
Friday, 18 December 2009 17:41
A refreshingly new sense of hope pervades Zimbabwe. After a long spell
characterised by empty shelves, shops are fully stocked with basic
commodities, from salt to cooking oil.
This time last year one would have had to travel several hundreds of
kilometers to South Africa or Botswana just to buy something as simple as a
packet of salt. Alternatively, one could buy from the black-market where
goods were readily available but at extortionate prices.
There is little doubt that the economic situation and the general living
conditions have improved following last February's formation of a
power-sharing government by President Robert Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan
Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara. Indeed Christmas is
back, after so many years!
Yet scratch the surface a little bit and you will find that this hour of
optimism masks a nation under siege, wrecked to the core by a horrible
anxiety over what tomorrow might yield.
A collective fear of the future grips a nation that knows only too well that
the authors of its economic ruin and humiliation still wield the real
power - notwithstanding whatever is written in the global political
agreement (GPA).
The gangs of farm invaders, torturers and rapists still roam the
countryside. And the modest progress of the past 11 months cannot be
sustained until and unless all outstanding issues arising from the GPA have
been resolved.
And if there be any among us too excited about the peace and quite of today
then Mugabe's words to his Zanu (PF) party's congress a few weeks ago should
be a reminder of how fragile the gains of the past months remain.
"Let's begin to work for the party and to organise it strongly. Elections
are not very far off," Mugabe told the Zanu (PF) congress. We presume no
Zimbabwean needs reminding about Zanu (PF)'s methods and tactics of fighting
an election.
Yet future generations will spit on our graves in disgust should we allow
our fear of Zanu (PF)'s forces of violence to extinguish the optimism of
today and to deny us the right to hope for a better tomorrow.
Dear Zimbabweans, as the New Year beckons so must a new era of hope and
freedom. The time has come to break free from the prison of fear. Zimbabwe
does not belong to Zanu (PF), the CIO, army or police. It belongs to you the
people. Stand up and reclaim your country -- now!

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Living up to diamonds

Friday, 18 December 2009 15:41
The world's largest diamond producer, De Beers, would have preferred
Zimbabwe's suspension from the Kimberley Process (KP) at the diamond
industry regulator's Namibia meeting last November writes influential
chairman Nick Oppenheimer:
In November 2002, a unique alliance of 50 countries, the United Nations, a
number of leading NGOs and the diamond industry came together to tackle the
scourge of conflict diamonds.
The clear focus and determination of these players led to the creation of
the Kimberley Process -- an agreement of unparalleled scope in the natural
resources sector.
Importers, exporters and the diamond industry accomplished something many
thought impossible -- we virtually eliminated conflict diamonds from the
global supply chain, and to this day, 99,8% of all diamonds come from
conflict-free sources.
Whether you personally like diamonds or not, few would dispute that they
hold special meaning for millions of people around the world. Unlike the
latest flat-screen TV or designer handbag, the diamond has an enduring value
that transcends generations and geographies.
In uncertain times, diamonds not only hold their financial value, but they
also hold an emotional relevance to those that give and receive them -- 
often marking new love or old memories. Providing confidence about where
these special symbols that mark moments in our lives come from is integral
to their enduring value.

Deeply concerned
For those that recover, cut, polish and sell them, our ability to live up to
diamonds is an inherent part of their value, which is why we are deeply
concerned by the situation at the Marange diamond fields in Zimbabwe.
Over the past year, a number of reports from courageous journalists, NGOs
and the Kimberley Process itself have detailed a distressing situation in
which the diamond deposits in the Marange region were commandeered by the
Zimbabwe military.
While this occurred before the new government of national unity was formed,
it has nonetheless drawn the attention of the international community. The
Kimberley Process ensures that every diamond exported from a
diamond-producing country and imported into a diamond-manufacturing country
is accompanied by a certificate verifying that the diamond hasn't been used
by a rebel force to fund conflict, and that it is fully compliant with the
Kimberley Process's requirements.
While the details about the situation in Zimbabwe may be less than clear,
the country's responsibility to live up to diamonds is perfectly clear. De
Beers supports the Kimberley Process's recent decision to place diamonds
from Marange under an intensive 12-month monitoring and auditing programme.
While De Beers would have preferred more decisive action -- including
temporary suspension from the Kimberley Process, which would have
effectively halted the country's export of diamonds until the issues in
question were fully addressed -- we also recognise the unique framework of
governments, civil society and industry that the Kimberley Process
represents, and the commitment by Zimbabwe not to export any diamonds from
Marange until the monitoring programme is in place.

De Beers watching
While we do no business in Zimbabwe, and while it is true that the diamonds
originating from Marange represent only a tiny fraction of global supply, De
Beers, along with the rest of the world, will nevertheless be watching the
monitoring programme closely.
We will provide any expertise that is asked of us, and we fully expect the
Kimberley Process to take the further action it itself stipulated should no
change in the situation on the ground be forthcoming by the end of the
12-month programme.
In the end, diamonds, or any natural resource for that matter, can be a
country's greatest source of prosperity or paucity. It is the leaders who
must choose the path, which is why good governance is a key factor in
turning natural resources into shared national wealth.
For example, just next door to Zimbabwe is Botswana. Since its independence
from Britain in 1966, Botswana has enjoyed good, democratic leadership and
has prudently managed its diamond resources -- Botswana is the world's
leading diamond producer -- to move from one of the world's poorest
countries to a middle-income country with consistent economic growth, sound
infrastructure and little corruption.
Diamonds are the lifeblood of Botswana's economy and this Christmas
consumers will buy more diamonds from Botswana than from any other source on
Earth. In today's diamond industry, Botswana is not the exception, Zimbabwe
is. We hope, for the people of Zimbabwe, that its leaders embrace this
chance to live up to diamonds.
Editor's Note: Nicky Oppenheimer is the chairman of De Beers which is the
world's largest diamond producer.

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Sunday Opinion: Unity Accord and the First Peoples’s Congress

Saturday, 19 December 2009 16:03

AFTER months and years of brutal pressure from Robert Mugabe and Zanu (PF),
Joshua Nkomo and PF Zapu were at last forced into an Agreement of Unity,
signed on 22 December 1987. It consisted of ten points that left no
breathing space for any democratic values in Zimbabwe.

1. Zanu (PF) and PF Zapu were irrevocably united under one political party.
2. Unity was to be achieved under the name Zimbabwe African National Union
(Patriotic Front) in short, Zanu (PF).
3. Comrade Robert Gabriel Mugabe would be the first secretary and president
of Zanu (PF).
4. Zanu (PF) would have two second secretaries and vice-presidents, who
would be appointed by the first secretary and president.
5. Zanu (PF) would seek to establish a socialist society in Zimbabwe on the
guidance of Marxist-Leninist principles.
6. Zanu (PF) would seek to establish a one-party state.
7. Zanu (PF) would abide by the leadership code.
8. The present leadership of PF Zapu would take immediate steps to end
insecurity and violence prevalent in Matabeleland.
9. Zanu (PF) and PF Zapu would convene respective conferences to give effect
to the agreement.
10. Comrade Robert Gabriel Mugabe was vested with full powers to prepare for
the implementation of the agreement and to act in the name and authority of
Zanu (PF).

The signing took place at State House, one of the last occasions hosted by
the joyful midwife, President Canaan Banana. Amendments were then presented
to and accepted by parliament under which Mugabe became executive president.
The office of prime minister was abolished.

Mugabe appointed Nkomo chief minister in the president’s office, ranked in
status just behind Mugabe’s deputy, Simon Muzenda, and gave him the task of
overseeing local government and rural and urban development.

The Unity Congress was held in Harare from 18 to 22 December. All Zimbabwe’s
high commissioners and ambassadors and their wives had been summoned back
for the occasion including Stan Mudenge, known by his subordinates as
“Jehovah”, from the United Nations, and Arthur Chadzingwa from Algeria.
Arthur was rapidly making arrangements to get married to a lady from
Lesotho. When, a few months earlier, he was appointed an ambassador by
Mugabe as one of the few fruits of unity offered to PF Zapu, Mugabe asked if
Arthur was married.

“Not yet,” replied Arthur.

Mugabe said this situation would have to be remedied as it was difficult to
be a diplomat without a spouse.

“Remind me to do something about this,” Mugabe said to an aide as Arthur was
When Arthur, an esteemed friend, told me, I laughed and said that Mugabe
might be thinking of the large and boisterous Shuvai Mahofa who was
currently available for marriage.  Arthur, appalled, could see I was only
half joking.

Mrs Mahofa, Deputy Minister of State for Political Affairs had, despite her
office, been charged with ordering two men, one a former bodyguard, to burn
down the house of Abigail Huni, who had been vying with Mrs Mahofa for the
favours of Phillip Chatikobo.

While she was acquitted, members of her Gutu constituency made their
disaffection with her very vocal indeed, and Mugabe had little choice but to
ask for her resignation from government although, to assuage her patron
Simon Muzenda, she was permitted to keep her parliamentary seat.

Other Zimbabweans passionate about local politics, such as Edgar Moyo from
London, managed to make their own way back to be in Harare at this time.
Dumiso Dabengwa was one of the organisers of the conference, and I asked him
to get me a ticket to what was being hailed as a “historic occasion”, but he
hadn’t managed.

In the nick of time, before the climax of unity on the morning of Friday
December 22, the high commissioner to Nigeria and Ghana, Dr Isaac Nyathi,
telephoned to say he had a ticket for me.

I sped to the Sheraton Hotel, part of the international conference centre
complex, and met him and others in his room.

As he, like Arthur Chadzingwa, didn’t have a wife with him, he had acquired
a ticket with the obligatory security name tag for a friend, Elizabeth
Siziba. But she hadn’t been able to get off work, so I took her place. I put
the bold name tag on my lapel and was rushing past security into the
conference centre with Dumiso and Isaac when Edgar Moyo stepped forward and
said loudly “You aren’t Elizabeth Siziba!”

“How can you tell?” I responded and proceeded apace while, thankfully,
security scrutinised Edgar rather than me.

Edgar, on leave from his job in London, had managed to plant himself
temporarily in the Kumalo Zanu (PF) Bulawayo branch, from where he had
helped despatch himself to Harare as a delegate.

You would have had to be a very small human being to enjoy being squashed
into the tiny purple seats of the vaulting conference centre, and I left as
soon as decently possible after President Mugabe’s address.

He was spilling over with excitement and pleasure, welcoming all present
but, most especially, the fraternal delegation from Romania. He said how
sorry he was that “our good friends” Nicolae and Elena Ceausescu had not
been able to attend this conference, but that a state visit to Zimbabwe was
being planned for them early the next year. I sensed a tiny shock throughout
the assembly.

“Doesn’t he listen to the news?” I murmured sideways to Isaac Nyathi. That
very morning it had been reported on the BBC that Romania’s President
Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife Elena, the esteemed friends of Robert Mugabe,
were attempting to flee their country by helicopter. Later we learned that
they had been captured by their own armed forces that had belatedly turned
against them and whom they were trying to escape.

I wasn’t there when the deputy Chinese prime minister made a speech in
support of unity between PF Zapu and Zanu (PF) but Edgar Moyo was and
reported later that throughout the speech delegates, despite themselves, had
laughed uncontrollably and increasingly loudly.  Edgar thought that this was
not necessarily because of the content, relayed by an interpreter with a
broad American accent, but because the language patterns were so unfamiliar.

Edgar was also present at another outburst of hilarity. It seemed as though
that whole conference had verged on hysteria throughout. Edgar was chatting
to a member of President Quett Masire’s delegation from Botswana outside the
conference centre, when the limousine carrying the president and Mrs Sally
Mugabe pulled up.

As they got out, surrounding members of the Zanu PF Women’s League fell on
their knees. The President of Botswana then turned to the man Edgar was
talking to and said “M’na, if you boys ever want a revolution in Botswana,
just ask the basadi (women) of Botswana to do this every time I turn up at a
meeting!” At which, said Edgar, the whole delegation from Botswana teetered
on the verge of collapse with helpless laughter.

*Excerpt from Through the Darkness...A Life in Zimbabwe by Judith Todd
published by Zebra Press 2007.


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Comment: MDC-T Needs to Show the Difference

Saturday, 19 December 2009 16:01

THE government should not be spending money on building an official
residence for Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai because it would be too
expensive for an arrangement that is only temporary. The Minister of
National Housing and Social Amenities, Fidelis Mhashu, said recently that
President Robert Mugabe had refused to vacate one of the two state
residences so Tsvangirai could move in.

When the late Canaan Banana was President and Mugabe Prime Minister, Banana
lived at State House while Mugabe occupied Zimbabwe House across the road.
But nearly a year after being sworn in, Tsvangirai still occupies his modest
family home in Strathaven.

There are several choices: The first is that Tsvangirai can continue to live
where he is; (the neighbours have not complained about being
inconvenienced): secondly the government could ask for the unoccupied
mayoral mansion in Gunhill; and thirdly he could bide his time because the
next elections could see the MDC-T registering a convincing victory and
therefore Tsvangirai marching triumphantly into State House.

The mayoral mansion is a less expensive option, which would be helpful for
the Harare City Council as it would receive a rental from the government.
Ideally the property should have been disposed of to embassies or
international organisations operating in the country because it is ideal for
a head office.

The reported refusal by President Mugabe to relinquish one of the two state
properties to Tsvangirai demonstrates the grudging chasm between what
President Mugabe says and what he does in how he relates to the Prime
Minister and the MDC-T.

The disconnect underlies the fragile nature of the coalition government. The
state properties are maintained by state resources - meaning by taxpayers.
Zanu PF should not behave as if these were built by President Mugabe's

But the outcome of the next elections could render irrelevant the current
inclusive arrangement and President Mugabe would have no legitimate claim to
remaining in the properties along Borrowdale Road because the people would
have spoken unequivocally.

The Prime Minister has already spent nearly a year at his family residence,
a similar period could only raise his standing among the voters as someone
who is mindful of overburdening the electorate and is desirous of living
among those he leads.

Zanu PF has never allowed anything to get in the way of its lavish spending.
That is how the mayoral mansion came to be constructed even though
ratepayers opposed the decision. Allowing the Prime Minister to use the
mansion might be acceptable, if there are still genuine security

But it is a major source of concern that the Ministry of National Housing
and Social Amenities could entertain requesting land from the Harare City
Council to construct a new residence for the Prime Minister when the
property is only likely to be ready by the time the next elections are held.

It is important that ministers from the MDC formations demonstrate that
their presence in government has made a difference and that their decisions
are in the greater interests of the people.

We can't see how construction of a new residence for the Prime Minister is
going to impact positively on the condition of the majority of the people
who are struggling to make ends meet at a time when essential services such
as health and education are under-funded.

There are also government projects that have gone for years uncompleted. The
abandoned Harare Polytechnic building along Samora Machel Avenue is an

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Sundayview: Of Signatures and Honour Among ‘gentlemen’

Saturday, 19 December 2009 15:57

AFTER watching the signing ceremony during the tripartite agreement now
known as the Global Political Agreement, it might be worth our while to
reflect on the importance or non-importance of signatures in Zimbabwean
society. The whole world witnessed the pomp and ceremony of the whole affair
while the immaculately-dressed signatories smiled and shook hands. Fine and
good for our country, and promises of ‘security’ for the people. Gentlemen
of honour, some of us thought hesitantly.

As I watched the drama, I could not resist thinking of how Zimbabweans deal
with signatures and official documents. At the back of my mind, I was
worried about issues of trust and confidence.

Many years ago, quite a sizeable number of my relatives would fail Standard
VI or Grade VII examinations.

When parents realised the disaster of their children, especially the first
born, not going to the next ladder of education, they simply went and took a
new birth certificate, with a new name for the candidate.

Back to class, the student came for another year, with a new name somewhat
unrelated to the original one except for the surname. If you were James
Hove, you reappeared in front of the same teachers as Peter Hove. Or if you
were Michael Mudzingi, you sometimes re-incarnated yourself as Misheck

No problem! Many such stories thrive in Zimbabwe, all over the country in
its storyscape.

One of my relatives had his son failing dismally the Grade VII examinations.
He changed name and went back to school in the capital, Harare.

At the second attempt, he did slightly better but not good enough to qualify
to enter secondary school. When he went to personally apply for a place, the
headmaster asked him for his birth certificate.

The boy, not knowing the implications, asked the headmaster: “Which one?”
while showing the school head both the current one and the previous one. The
boy had two birth certificates and he did not think it was legally binding
to have been born only once. To be born twice had its joys, and not too many

For those who were born under the careful hands of a traditional midwife in
a traditional hut, no records were ever made. You got your birth certificate
to suit your school age requirements.

All you knew was that you were born the year the railway line construction
passed through your village. You had to figure out whether it was 1954 or
1956 since the railway construction took quite some time. For me, 1956
suited the age requirements of the school papers.

So, on paper I was born in 1956, and in reality, somewhere around 1954, in
the late summer season, at the time when groundnuts were beginning to
mature. Oh, this obsession with proper documentation in Europe makes a
mockery of things back home.

I know many senior government officials and managers of state-owned
companies who would change their names in order to avoid being reduced to a

They still desired to enjoy their huge salaries and perks which would end
once they go home to spend their pension. I suspect they simply went and
paid a few dollars to registrar-general, Tobaiwa Mudede’s officials and
walked out with a new birth certificate.

On many occasions, I travelled with some of my friends to their home areas.
My shock was that the name they are known by in the city is not the same
they have at their birthplace. I know some men who actually confiscated
their friends’ papers, went on to study for higher education under the dead
friends’ names. Many such stories exist in many parts of our country.

A birth certificate is a legal document and should not be altered
willy-nilly just like that. I stick to my officially documented date of
birth, to avoid confusion.

Now, the issue is: do Zimbabweans really believe in the signatures they put
on paper? Or, indeed, do Africans respect their signatures in all these
international organisations which our governments join for various reasons?
I think not.

Sometimes I have a feeling that the president, of whatever African country,
only signs the papers for the sake of the glamour that is involved. The
obligations of his signature are far beyond his imagination, and he does not

Zimbabwe is a signatory to many international conventions: the Sadc , the
universal human rights convention, the children’s rights convention, the
women’s rights convention, the African People’s Rights Charter, everything.

The children’s rights convention is clear about one thing: children must all
go to school, at least for basic education (primary school).  But then when
we see “street kids” all over our cities, someone must remind the government
that it is in breach of its signature.

The same with human rights abuses like political violence and all that.
Someone must have the legal muscle to take the government to court as a
matter of breach of international law.

I have come to think that signatures, especially those of African
politicians, are meaningless.  President Robert Mugabe, as president of his
party, signed an extremely important agreement called the Global Political

The same man stands recently at his party congress to denounce the same
things he publicly signed for. Mugabe and his party do not seem to care a
hoot about respecting the things they signed for. The pomp and ceremony were
good for the cameras, nothing else.

The saga has been repeated all over the place on our over-trusting
continent. The people clap hands and celebrate, in absolute trust, but the
leaders go home and flush away the signed papers down the toilet.

Was it not justice minister, Patrick Chinamasa, who was busy with papers
regarding the GPA as well as the constitutional amendment which brought
about the Government of National Unity?  Chinamasa did not feel anything
scratching his conscience when he argued that the mishap was simply a “typo”.

Chinamasa did not have anything pricking his conscience when he sent the
constitutional amendment to the President with incomplete pages. That
probably invalidates the whole document since all legal documents have to be
penciled on every page.

In other parts of the world, an agreement, even a verbal one, is a contract
between those who agree. It does not always have to be written down. It is a
question of honour for one to respect their word.

What are Zimbabweans to make of President Mugabe’s signatures all over the
place? I, for one, do not believe that he and his officials really bother to
read the contents of the agreements they sign.

In our present and messy political situation, President Mugabe does not
believe a word of what he signed for. I think the Prime Minister still
believes in his signature. But President Mugabe went in more for the glory
of the pomp than a national commitment to a peaceful democracy.

The big question is: Are we people of honour or not? Are we proud to steal
other people’s passports and certificates, call them our own, travel the
whole way to the UK or elsewhere and claim to be what we are not? Are we so
desperate that we can just shift our identities as if they were
under-clothes? Does anyone dare to trust a Zimbabwean’s signature or word?

Maybe deep in our hearts as Zimbabweans, we are just an untrustworthy nation
which does not respect its own signatures all over the place. Maybe our
political system has imbued in us this belief of dishonesty and social
chicanery at every corner.

Our current identity is that we are known for mischievous ways of doing
things, at every level, business and politics. Anybody who trusts us does so
at their own risk. That is our new identity, in this time of crises of


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