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Christmas onslaught on commercial farmers


26 December 2009

For Zimbabwean commercial farmer Ray Finaughty and his wife Lorraine,
Christmas Eve should have been an opportunity to enjoy a family reunion on
their farm in the Rusape area with their three teenage sons, the eldest of
whom had just returned home from Australia.

Instead, it was a day of high drama as they were initially barricaded in
their home by a group of drunken thugs then allowed to pack up a few
possessions before being forced to flee for their lives.

The harassment started four days previously when a group of intoxicated
thugs arrived and began threatening the family and interrupting farming

Initially they gave Finaughty just 10 minutes to get off the farm.
However, after he managed to reason with them, they extended the time limit
to three hours, warning the family that their lives were in danger if they
did not meet the deadline.

As Finaughty and his wife attempted to drive off the farm having packed at
a frenetic pace under dangerously volatile conditions, one of the thugs
leapt onto Mrs Finaughty's car.

This caused a fight to break out within the drunken group, creating a
fortuitous diversion which enabled the family to escape unscathed.

Speaking later from Harare, Finaughty said his family was safe but he was
anxious about the welfare of his workers, the 9 300 broilers which he'd been
barred from feeding and watering for three days, and about his cattle.

The deliberate starvation of livestock is frequently used as a bargaining
tool to force commercial farmers off their land.

Prior to his most recent downscaling, Finaughty's farming operation
comprised 195 Brahman cattle, 11 000 chickens and 40ha of tobacco.

For Finaughty, it has been a decade of trauma.  In 2001, he agreed to
co-operate with the land reform programme in the hope that chaos and
national starvation could be avoided.

To his credit, he managed to coexist with the new farmers, who received no
help from the government, and assisted them with fertilizer as well as
helping them to plough their lands.

Then, in 2007, a top Reserve Bank employee, Winnie Mushipe initiated her
first attempt at seizing Finaughty's remaining portion of Manda farm.  As a
result, he has been in court on numerous occasions to try to retain his
land, while Mushipe has accused him of refusing to leave what she terms
"state owned" property.

Mushipe, who is not an experienced farmer, has been described as "growing
nothing but weeds".  She falls into the category of "cell phone farmers" -
people who hold high-powered, well-paid city jobs and have no interest in
farming the land.
Many "cell phone farmers" make significant short-term money from asset
stripping or from forcing commercial farmers off their land just as their
crops are ready to reap.

When this latest group of paid thugs moved onto the farm - believed to have
been sent by Zanu PF's Secretary for Administration and former Lands
Minister Didymus Mutasa, they fell out with the new farmers who had still
received no support from the government and resented the intrusion.

As is the case with farm invasions across the country, the police once again
refused to assist Finaughty, describing his situation as "political".

Finaughty is one of 79 commercial farmers who took their case to the
Southern African Development Community (SADC) Tribunal in Windhoek, Namibia,
a highly respected international court.

On November 28 last year, the Tribunal ruled that the land grab was unlawful
and ordered the Zimbabwean government to protect commercial farmers and
their workers - and allow them to continue farming their land.

Regrettably the Mugabe government has refused to respect the SADC Tribunal
judgement and the ruling has been continuously flouted.  The farmers
involved in the case have been deliberately targeted for retribution, most
notably Chegutu farmer Mike Campbell who, together with his son-in-law Ben
Freeth, initiated the case.

Elderly partner under siege

For Finaughty, although he and his family are now off Manda farm, the
nightmare continues.  He is deeply concerned about his elderly partner,
Richard Harland, who remained on the farm with his wife Brita, a chronic
asthmatic and now very frail.

Initially the thugs forced Harland to sign a document stating he would be
off the farm by January 2 but today the Harlands were under siege and being
harassed relentlessly in their home.

Finaughty is also worried about their tobacco crop, which is ready to reap.

Deon Theron, president of the Commercial Farmers' Union, has continued to
raise with government the issue of the ongoing farm invasions and their
impact on the dangerously diminished commercial farming community, food
security and the country's already sullied reputation.

"Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has been calling for Zimbabweans to come
home and for international investors to reinvest, but this is totally
unrealistic," said Theron.  "Mr Tsvangirai cannot expect people to return
under these conditions, or for the international community to invest in a
country which continues to flout the rule of law."

On December 24, Pretoria-based civil rights initiative AfriForum sent an
appeal to the South African Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr Rob Davies,
requesting that he intervene urgently to protect the life and property of

The South African government is bound by the North Gauteng High Court ruling
of November 26 to honour the terms of the landmark property rights ruling by
the SADC Tribunal on November 28 last year that the Zimbabwean land
invasions were illegal.
The North Gauteng High Court ruling paved the way for the signing of a
historic bilateral investment promotion and protection agreement (BIPPA)
between Zimbabwe and South Africa.
The ruling confirmed a settlement reached between the South African
Department of Trade and Industry and Zimbabwean farmer Louis Fick, who is a
South African citizen.
This week at least two other Zimbabwean commercial farmers have come under
attack, with Minister Mutasa believed to be involved clandestinely in one of

Tragedy has also once again struck the beleaguered Chegutu farming
community. Sandy Wilde, whose husband was killed in a car accident a few
days before Christmas, was given just 24 hours to vacate the family farm.

Although the commercial farmers continue to suffer, the plight of farm
workers is even worse, the majority having been left destitute by the land
grab.  Many have faced horrific beatings and torture at the hands of the
land invaders, often under instruction from the Zanu PF elite who have taken
over the farms illegally.


For further information:

Deon Theron - President
Commercial Farmers Union of Zimbabwe
Tel:  +263 4 309 800
Zim cell:  +263 912 246 233
Zim cell:  +263-11 606 783

Ray Finaughty
Commercial Farmer - Rusape
Tel:  +263 913 263 670
Tel:  +263 11 412 555

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Need for power coal threatens Zimbabwe national park

By Godfrey Marawanyika (AFP) - 3 hours ago

HWANGE, Zimbabwe - Zimbabwe's already dim electricity supply faces a new
threat, as the country's main power plant says it needs to dig for new coal
reserves under a river inside a national park to keep running.

Hwange Colliery says it only has enough coal to power its 940 megawatt plant
for three more years.

Shortages of coal and working capital, as well as ageing and broken
equipment, have already forced the shutdown of three smaller power stations
across Zimbabwe, causing daily blackouts that have plagued the country for

The company says its only viable new deposits of coal suitable for power
generation lie in the heart of the Hwange national park, under a river that
supplies nearby towns -- including the world-famous Victoria Falls -- as
well as thousands of endangered animals.

Accessing the new coal would mean strip mining one of the environmentally
delicate region's few water supplies.

"The coal is submerged under water, so we have to find ways of de-watering
the adjacent rivers in the area," Fred Moyo, the company's managing
director, told AFP.

"We only have three years left of power coal although initial indications
were that we have power coal that would take us at least another 15 years."

De-watering would shift the flow of rivers to allow access to the coal, but
in the process will create huge pools of polluted water.

Hwange national park covers an area half the size of Switzerland on the edge
of the Kalahari, where every drop of water is valuable. It's also home to
all of Zimbabwe's endangered species, including 45,000 elephants.

Existing mines still have plenty of industrial-grade coal, but that variety
burns so hot that it would overheat the generators, Moyo said.

Lovemore Mungwashu, operations coordinator for WWF, said mining the new coal
reserves would pose huge problems for the region.

"Our greatest concern is how Hwange will put in place measures that will
affect not only the wildlife, but communities within town," he told AFP.

"Hwange Colliery should first address how it going to handle the issue of
contaminated water before it starts any underground mining and de-watering
plans," he said.

Zimbabwe also has the 750 megawatt Kariba hydro-power dam, but it suffers
chronic breakdowns due to a lack of spare parts and expertise, adding to
pressure on Hwange.

"Hwange Colliery's role in the economy of Zimbabwe is of great strategic
importance, as coal is a vital source of energy in a country where
hydro-electrical power generation has perennially broken down," Moyo said.

Since President Robert Mugabe and his rival Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai
formed a unity government in February, the economy has slowly started to
mend after a decade of collapse.

Industrial activity has been rising since the local currency was abandoned
in January, but growth is limited by the scant power supply, and many
industries are operating at only 10 percent of their capacity.

Zimbabwe spends millions of dollars importing electricity from its
neighbours, just to keep the lights on some of the time in parts of the
country, which at times goes for 15 to 20 hours without electricity.

Hwange Colliery is looking at other options, including setting up a methane
gas plant that would burn fewer carbon emissions than coal and prevent the
need for more mining, Moyo said.

But that would require a 10 million dollar investment, money which Zimbabwe
doesn't have. Moyo said the company has lined up possible partners, but is
still waiting for government approval for the project.

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Remittances From Zimbabwean Expatriates Total Some US$159M During 2009

Finance Minister Tendai Biti told VOA Studio reporter Sandra Nyaira that the
Zimbabwean diaspora has a duty to come the aid of the country - though he
said he does not agree with a recent proposal to levy a tax on expatriates

Sandra Nyaira | Washington 25 December 2009

With 2009 shortly to close, the Zimbabwean Finance Ministry said Friday that
expatriate nationals had remitted some US$159 million dollars to the country
as a unity government struggled to fund a difficult economic turnaround.

An estimated three million Zimbabweans joined the so-called diaspora during
the decade-long political and economic crisis. Most live in South Africa,
Botswana, the United Kingdom with others scattered around the globe.

Remittances from the diaspora to family members to pay rent, buy food and
cover school tuitions contributed significantly to keeping the country going
for years as the formal economy withered and unemployment soared.

Finance Minister Tendai Biti told VOA Studio reporter Sandra Nyaira that the
Zimbabwean diaspora has a duty to come the aid of the country - though he
said he does not agree with a recent proposal to levy a tax on expatriates.

He said the country made notable economic progress during 2009, and that
such gains must be consolidated and extended during 2010.

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Nestlé Saga - Deal Reached

Harare, 12/27 - Nestlé Zimbabwe has been asked to reopen its factory after
assurances were given by the Government over the safety of staff and
agreement was reached over how milk from Gushungo Dairies will be processed.

In a statement yesterday, Industry and Commerce Minister Professor Welshman
Ncube said he had held consultations with Nestlé Zimbabwe, Gushungo Dairies
and other "key stakeholders in the dairy sector".

"As a result of those consultations, the parties have collectively reached
an understanding to work together in ensuring that milk produced at Gushungo
Dairies is absorbed by the local dairy processors.

"For its part, Government has given its assurance on the safety of staff and
management at both Nestlé Zimbabwe and Gushungo Dairies," said the

While no details of the "understanding" were made public, it appears that
milk from Gushungo, which is owned by the First Family, will go into the
general pool of milk processed by Dairibord and others and that Nestlé will
buy its requirements from that pool.

Minister Ncube said he had been asked to intervene in the dispute by both
President Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai after Nestlé's Zurich
head office said it was temporarily closing its Zimbabwe factory after two
managers were questioned by police and the factory was forced to buy a
tanker of milk from a "non-contracted" source.

On Wednesday during a Press conference by the three principals to the Global
Political Agreement to review the operations of the inclusive Government
since its formation early this year, PM Tsvangirai said: "Shutting down the
plant is an overreaction that is totally unnecessary," he said.

Nestlé head office in Zurich had issued a statement saying that it was
temporarily closing its Zimbabwe factory "since . . . normal operations and
the safety of employees are no longer guaranteed".

The company said, in its statement through AFP, that on Saturday the factory
was visited by Zimbabwean "officials" and police, and forced to accept a
tanker of non-contracted milk.

Two managers were questioned by police but were released without charge
after questioning the same day.

The company said its Zimbabwe subsidiary stopped buying milk from
non-contracted farmers in October when normal supplies resumed from

It had started buying direct in February this year as a temporary measure to
ensure food supplies when Dairibord could no longer pay farmers but had then
returned to its normal system.

However, Nestlé had been under pressure from Western activists to stop
buying milk from Gushungo Dairy Estates, a business owned by the First
Family and which was supplying up to 15 percent of the factory's milk, and
from at least seven other new farmers.

The reason of switching back to Dairibord was not accepted by Zimbabwean
pressure groups, who saw the move as an imposition of sanctions on the eight
new farmers.

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Jewellers boycott Zimbabwe ‘blood diamonds’

By John Chimunhu

Published: December 26, 2009

Harare:  The Zimbabwe government’s plan to offload a huge amount of ‘blood
diamonds’ from the killing fields of Marange onto the international market
next week have hit a new brick wall, local officials have said.

The new uncertainty was triggered by the unprecedented decision last week by
the American-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) to appeal directly to the world’s
top jewellers warning them not to buy Zimbabwean diamonds. Head of HRW’s
business and human rights division, Arvind Ganesan last week warned that
diamonds from Zimbabwe were being produced through “the use of forced labor
of adults and children, killings, and severe beatings”.

“By any reasonable assessment, diamonds from Marange are “blood diamonds,”
and we are publicly calling upon retailers and interested consumers to
boycott Zimbabwe diamonds unless and until the abuses that we uncovered come
to an end,” Ganesan said in a letter addressed to ‘Tiffany & Co, Zale,
Cartier and Major Diamond Retailers’.

A member of the Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe (MMCZ) that
oversees international mineral sales (who spoke on condition of anonymity)
said the letter had come as a major blow to Harare.

“What this means simply is that we have to hold on to these diamonds until
the air clears. The diamond industry is a close-knit family. None of the
retailers can afford a public outcry and boycott of their products, so even
the major buyers do not want to be publicly associated with stones that are
surrounded by controversy,” the official told ZimEye on Saturday.

Ganesan called on the World Diamond Council and member nations of the
regulatory Kimberly Process (diamond) Certification System to broaden the
definition of conflict diamonds to include those that are acquired by
governments in situations of conflict. The current United Nations definition
refers to ‘blood diamonds’ as those acquired by rebel groups fighting
‘internationally recognized governments’.

Ganesan asked the jewellers to publicly state that they would not buy
diamonds from Zimbabwe, a move that will also affect production from Rio
Tinto plc’s Murowa mine and River Ranch Mine which was acquired at gunpoint
from its owners by retired army general Solomon Mujuru and is believed to be
a conduit for selling Marange diamonds. Mujuru now runs River Ranch with a
Saudi businessman amid legal action from the original owners.
Below is the full text of Ganesan’s letter, described by the MMCZ official
as ‘devastating’:
Major diamond retailers: Act now to stop Zimbabwe blood diamonds

Source: Human Rights Watch (HRW)

Date: 17 Dec 2009

Letter to Tiffany & Co, Zale, Cartier and Major Diamond Retailers

Dear Sir:

I am writing to urge your company to publicly commit to not purchase or sell
diamonds from Zimbabwe.

Throughout 2009, Human Rights Watch conducted field-based research in the
diamond fields of Marange, in eastern Zimbabwe. We found that mining under
the supervision of the police and then the military resulted in the use of
forced labor of adults and children, killings, and severe beatings. By any
reasonable assessment, diamonds from Marange are “blood diamonds,” and we
are publicly calling upon retailers and interested consumers to boycott
Zimbabwe diamonds unless and until the abuses that we uncovered come to an

We are also asking the diamond industry to pressure the Kimberley Process
Certification Scheme (KPCS), the global group monitoring the diamond trade,
to suspend Zimbabwe until diamond mining at Marange meets its minimum
standards for membership. The KPCS sent its own review mission to Zimbabwe
and confirmed our findings. We believe that it can no longer certify that
diamonds from Zimbabwe are mined in compliance with the rules of the KPCS.

Human rights abuses in Marange

In June 2009, Human Rights Watch published a report documenting horrific
human rights abuses in the Marange diamond fields by the Zimbabwean
military, including forced labor, child labor, the killing of more than 200
people, beatings, smuggling, and corruption.

As recently as late October, 2009, these abuses were ongoing. Human Rights
Watch’s latest information suggests that the situation in Marange remains
largely unchanged. Despite claims that the army was withdrawing, for the
most part, the diamond fields remain under firm military control, with
smuggling, human rights abuses, and corruption unchecked.

The role of the Kimberley Process

In July 2009, a Kimberley Process investigative mission also found serious
human rights abuses and rampant smuggling at the Marange diamond fields.
However, the states that make up the Kimberley Process decided not to
suspend Zimbabwe from participation, nor ban the export of its diamonds,
despite those findings. The weak excuse given was that its mandate only
addresses “conflict diamonds,” those mined by rebel groups, but not by
abusive governments. In this case, the abuses at Marange were committed by
Zimbabwe’s police and army, rather than rebel groups.

But these abuses are as serious as those that the Kimberley Process was
designed to address; relying on a technicality is no comfort for the victims
of the abuses. Instead of ignoring human rights abuses, KPCS members, as
well as retailers, should classify Marange diamonds as “conflict diamonds.”

What the diamond industry can do

Because of the prevalence of smuggling, the lack of transparency within
Zimbabwe’s diamond industry, insufficient controls at the country’s borders
with neighboring countries, and weak certification mechanisms, there is no
way to guarantee that Marange stones are not being mixed with those produced
at Zimbabwe’s other two mines. Moreover, once the Marange diamonds leave
Zimbabwe, they are intermingled with diamonds from other countries, creating
a serious risk that Zimbabwean diamonds extracted in an abusive human rights
environment may be sold in the US and elsewhere.

The US diamond industry, including retailers, therefore has an important
responsibility to ensure that they do not sell these gems to unwitting
customers. As I am sure you’re aware, consumers are increasingly concerned
about this problem and might be reticent to buy any diamonds unless
suppliers guarantee they are not sourcing from Zimbabwe and can demonstrate
that they are in full compliance with the requirements of the Kimberley

Some diamond suppliers like Rapaport and Leber Jewelers have told consumers
that they will not acquire or sell Marange diamonds. Other retailers should
be able to take similar steps, and we urge you to do so as well. In
particular we ask you to:

1) Publicly state that you will not buy or sell Zimbabwe diamonds as long as
human rights violations continue at the Marange diamonds fields;

2) Urge your national representatives and the World Diamond Council, which
take part in the Kimberley Process, to broaden the definition of conflict
diamonds to include diamonds procured by governments as well as rebel groups
that commit human rights abuses

3) Ensure that your supply chain does not include any Zimbabwe diamonds and
ask your suppliers to certify that diamonds are not from Zimbabwe by
specifying the controls in place.

4) Respond with evidence-based information to consumers who ask about the
origin of the diamonds they wish to purchase.

For your reference, I have enclosed a Human Rights Watch report, “Diamonds
in the Rough: Human Rights Abuses in the Marange Diamond Fields of
 Zimbabwe,” which provides information about human rights abuses committed
at the Marange diamond fields. I have also enclosed the recent comment by
Nicky Oppenheimer, chairperson of De Beers, about the situation in Marange.
Other materials about Zimbabwe are available on our website at Finally, for more information, we are
pleased to refer you to the website of the Kimberley Process,

Thank you for your consideration. I would be most eager to meet with you to
discuss these concerns. I look forward to speaking with you.


Arvind Ganesan
Director, Business and Human Rights Division
Human Rights Watch


Francesco Trapani, Chief Executive Officer, Bulgari S.p.A.
Emmanuel Perrin, President and Chief Executive Officer, Cartier North
Arthur E. Reiner, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, Finlay
Enterprises, Inc.
Efraim Grinberg, President and Chief Executive Officer; Chairman of the
Board of Directors, Movado Group Inc.
Michael J. Kowalski, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Tiffany & Co.
Daniel H. Marks, Founder, President, and Chief Executive Officer, Ultra
Stores, Inc.
Neal Goldberg, President and Chief Executive Officer, Zale Corporation

© Copyright, Human Rights Watch 350 Fifth Avenue, 34th Floor New York, NY
10118-3299 USA.

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ZANU (PF) businessman accused of vandalising schools

Saturday, 26 December 2009 10:52 RSA

By Editor, Johannesburg

A ZANU (PF)-aligned businessman has been accused of vandalising schools in
Zimbabwe's rural Tsholotsho district, Matabeleland North, where he operates

Villagers from the district, who are working in South Africa, accused the
businessman - Vuka Sibanda (42), a staunch supporter of President Robert
Mugabe's party, of having stolen more than 10 generators meant to facilitate
electricity supply to rural schools.

Sibanda, who has previously been stopped by senior government officials from
his bid to illegally wrestle communal land from villagers in the Jibhi area,
which lies on the Tsholotsho-Plumtree boundary, operates Vukuzenzele stores
in the Somnene area of Tsholotsho.

The business comprises a general dealer and grinding mill and Sibanda is
said to be using the generators in those business premises at the expense of
local children's education.

The generators were supplied by the government and meant to power computers
that are being used in pupils' computer lessons.

Villagers from the area this week told ZimDiaspora that Sibanda has so far
removed generators from each of Tshabanda primary and secondary, Bhalule
Primary, Bhubhude primary and secondary, Dikili primary and secondary,
Tshefunye primary and Mbalibalibali primary, among other schools.

"He seems to be well-connected at ZESA (power utility firm - Zimbabwe
Electricity Supply Authority), which is in charge of the generators," said
Samson Nkezo, one of the Johannesburg-based villagers whose family lives in
Jibhi, and is involved in a tug-of-war with Sibanda over the land.

Somnene-based Sibanda, who owns Vukuzenzele trading stores - a general
dealer, butchery and a grinding mill, is said to be using the generators in
his business centre.

The information is already said to have reached the ears of ZANU (PF) Vice
President John Nkomo, who recently ordered the businessman to return the
generators, but he has still not complied, according to the villagers.

"Nkomo ordered Vuka to return those generators about three months ago, but
he is still holding on to them," added Nkezo.

"We cannot take this any longer because our children are no longer learning
computers at the school, meaning that their future is being destroyed by one
selfish individual who does not want to share public resources with other
members of the community."

No comment could be obtained from the businessman, whose mobile phone could
not get through, at the time of going to print.

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Health issues skittle tour to Zimbabwe

By RICHARD BOOCK - Sunday Star Times
Last updated 05:00 27/12/2009

The New Zealand cricket team is preparing to pull stumps on the rescheduled
tour of Zimbabwe - the only question is whether dumping the June tour will
be blamed on the government, or on the Black Caps' security concerns.

The collapse of Zimbabwe's public health system means major Western
governments are advising against non-essential travel to the troubled
African state.

New Zealand Cricket chief executive Justin Vaughan and New Zealand Cricket
Players' Association boss Heath Mills yesterday flagged major concerns about
the proposed trip, which has already been delayed once.

The foreign ministries of Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom have
warned that all public hospitals were experiencing shortages of staff,
water, power, medicines and equipment.

Hospitals were unlikely to offer treatment for certain illnesses or
assistance in an emergency, some basic prescription medicines (including
insulin) were not available, and in the event of a serious accident, a
medical evacuation to South Africa would be necessary.

"The pragmatist in me suggests that there's still another two years to go in
the current international playing programme and we could look to postpone
again," Vaughan told the Sunday Star-Times.

"Medical facilities are a concern. You can go to countries and protect
yourself against infectious diseases and the like as long as you've got a
decent standard of hygiene and healthcare services available to you.

"We're not in possession of all the facts quite yet, but it appears that
[health] could be quite a significant concern. Certainly, NZC is
non-negotiable on the matter of putting our team at risk at any time."

Mills said he would be fearful for player safety if the medical situation
didn't improve in Zimbabwe. "I'd be very concerned about them going in the
existing circumstances," he said. "I fail to see how you can put the team
into a country which is effectively third world, and when there's so little
confidence in the health infrastructure.

"We need to be confident our players can get the appropriate standard of
medical care. If you can't get those assurances, I'd be very uncomfortable
about the team going."

New Zealand originally postponed the tour for a year when the government
vetoed the trip on political grounds, a decision which protected NZC from
being fined for breaching a touring contract.

Under International Cricket Council rules, a team may only withdraw from a
sanctioned tour for health and safety reasons, but is immune from penalty if
prevented from touring by a government order.
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Despite Zimbabwe's still-shaky political situation, a spokesman for Foreign
Minister Murray McCully said no decision had yet been made about the tour.

"We're keeping a watching brief on the situation in Zimbabwe as things are
still relatively fluid, politically and security-wise, and the situation
could easily change significantly before the tour is scheduled to begin," he

Vaughan said a government decree against touring Zimbabwe would make things
easier but accepted such decisions couldn't be made lightly. "They stepped
in to cause the postponement of this year's visit ... so we pushed the tour
forward 12 months. And that's what we might do again."

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Motorists park their cars

Sunday, December 27, 2009

By Kuda Bwititi

THE following message should be broadcast to everyone throughout the

"Motorists please be careful on the roads. Because of the on-going rains the
potholes scattered all over the country's tarred roads are set to become
deeper, steeper and wider, so precautionary measures are needed when
navigating the roads."
For most motorists, driving on Zimbabwe's roads has become a perpetual
nightmare because of the potholes, which have virtually become death traps.
With the rainy season now in full swing, fears are abound that the potholes
could be a major cause of fatal accidents on the tarred roads.
Mr Marko Mavurime of Harare's Belvedere suburb, whose vehicle has been badly
damaged several times by potholes, said he had since resorted to using his
car only for emergencies.
"I believe I have made a wise decision," he said. "I will only use my car
for selected journeys because the roads have become unbearable.
"Recently, I spent a lot of money fixing the car after it was damaged when I
hit a pothole. Now, with the rainy season, the potholes will only get
deeper, which means more damage to my vehicle and more risk to my life."
Mr Mavurime said the potholes had now made driving "a strenuous exercise,
which is a major challenge to even the most experienced drivers".
Another motorist, Mr Tawanda Tsimba of Warren Park, Harare, reckons that
Zimbabwe's driving manual should be altered to incorporate a section on how
to navigate potholes.
Tsimba doubted whether the country's roads would ever improve and suggested
that road authorities should resort to emergency measures only.
"They should just put white signals on all the big potholes.
"Motorists have lived with the potholes for many years now and I think with
so much rain falling, erecting signs could be the only solution."
Many people are wondering why the problem of potholes has become perennial,
with those responsible appearing to let the situation continue unabated.
Zimbabwe National Road Authority (Zinara) chief executive Mr Frank
Chitukutuku said the authority was trying its best to bring the situation
under control.
Zinara is mandated with maintaining the country's major roads.
Mr Chitukutuku said the tone had been set for the refurbishment of the
country's highways after Zinara recently received funds that were generated
from toll fees.
"It is a matter of time," he said. "The situation will soon be under
"To date we have disbursed US$1,5 million to the department of roads for the
maintenance of the country's highways."
He said the money had been used for the production of premix, which is used
to patch up the potholes.
So far, Zinara has managed to produce 3 000 tonnes of cold premix, which is
enough to patch up most of the potholes in highways and suburbs.
The premix mixture, which is a blend of bitumen, quarry stone and quarry
dust, is being produced at Zinara's plants in Skyline in Harare and at
another factory in Bulawayo.
Mr Chitukutuku said the programme to patch up the country's roads had begun
in earnest and was going to benefit all local authorities countrywide.
"We have decentralised the programme and ensured that all districts across
the country will get the premix," he said. "The distribution is already
underway and all the districts will be receiving quantities that match the
size of the tarred roads."
As at November 25, Manicaland had received 455 tonnes, Mashonaland Central
370, Mashonaland East 510, Mashonaland West 455, Masvingo 360, Matabeleland
North 460, Matabeleland South 345, while Midlands has received 615 tonnes of
the cold premix.
But most districts face transport challenges to ferry the heavy loads of
Harare City Council Deputy Mayor Mr Emmanuel Chiroto said the city had
identified road maintenance as one of its top priorities.
"We realise the urgency that is needed to service the roads, given that the
rains are falling," he said.
"We are working with Zinara and my message to motorists is that the
situation will improve soon."
The laying of pipes in the city, which has caused wide ditches on the
streets, has exacerbated the situation in Harare. This has resulted in
several vehicles getting stuck in the ditches.
Mr Chitukutuku said Zinara had virtually become dormant in the past few
years because of lack of funding.
"In the past three years, it was very difficult for the organisation to
operate," he said.
"This was mostly due to the economic situation because during the era of
rapid inflation, we did not have any substantive funds to carry out the
process of repairing the roads."
He acknowledged that patching up of potholes was only a stopgap measure
because the country's roads were in urgent need of repair.
"The patching up of roads is only a temporary solution because you can patch
one pothole at one site, but another will appear on a new site."
He said that the long-term solution to addressing the issue of potholes
rested on the complete resurfacing of the tarred roads.
"Some of the roads on our highways have not been resurfaced for close to 40
years," said Mr Chitukutuku.
"The proper procedure is that the roads should be resurfaced after every
five to seven years. It's a Herculean task because the amount that we would
need for the complete resurfacing of all the country's highways and roads in
the suburbs could run into billions of dollars."
In the meantime, motorists continue to struggle to get their way past the
yawning potholes.

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Zimbabwe Vigil Diary – 26th December 2009

A small Vigil. Although we had a break from the snow in London, transport was restricted because of the Christmas holidays and street life was subdued, despite the Christmas sales. Many supporters had contacted us to say because of a lack of trains they were unable to join us.  But being fewer in number gave us an opportunity to get to know each other better.  


Among our first visitors were a Cameroonian lady and her husband who said things were even worse in her country. We agreed this may well be so but said that as Zimbabweans we had to fight for our own country. Also Zimbabwe had shown that it could be a productive, prosperous country – unlike most African states – but had been wantonly destroyed. From being one of the richest countries in Africa it was now one of the poorest. She saw our point.


The messages put out by Morgan Tsvangirai do not give us much reason to cheer.  What worries us is that no sooner does the MDC leadership demand that the GPA negotiations be wrapped up by 15th January than Tsvangirai joins hands with Mugabe and agrees that the deadline can be postponed.  The negotiators are apparently ‘fatigued’. Their occasional meetings must be exhausting given the jet-lag from their travels abroad and the demands of their farming activities etc. Asked about the closedown of Swiss-owned Nestle because of bullying by Zanu PF, Tsvangirai described it as ‘an overreaction’ – just as he had earlier dismissed farm invasions as ‘isolated incidents’.


Tsvangirai’s difficulties with reality give us little confidence that the MDC – which so many of us have supported since the beginning – is any longer the party people at the Vigil campaigned for.  Especially when Speaker Moyo throws a tantrum because he doesn’t like the official photograph he commissioned and wants a new one taken to display around the country.  To cheer him up we have a set of his portraits on our Flickr photo website (see link below) – only 20 not the 200 pictures he wants Parliament to pay for. We in the UK think that Moyo should pay for them himself. From our dealings with him we are well aware that he has been assiduous in securing his own financial position . . . .


Well we at the Vigil find it difficult to believe that the MDC is not being progressively swallowed by the Mugabe corruption and that perhaps Zimbabwe’s fate is that of benighted Cameroon.  Flickering in the Embassy windows night and day, taunting us, is a television display of life at home: the Victoria Falls, the game parks, smiling photos of Tsvangirai shaking hands with his friends Mugabe and Mutambara. We could say that it doesn’t do Mugabe’s climate-change credentials any good having this television on 24 /7. But the main point is does Tsvangirai want to be the public voice of the fascist Zanu-PF regime?


We stood in the cold, flanked by our banners: ‘No to Mugabe, no to starvation’ and ‘End murder, rape and torture in Zimbabwe’ as we have done ever since we started more than 7 years ago. We see no reason to change these banners.  We could only agree with the latest commentary by the Botswana-based Zimbabwean journalist Tanonoka Joseph Whande: ‘Nothing on the ground indicates that there is any change, in real terms, because the horrors and nightmares that existed before still exist only that this time they are legitimized by the MDC’s presence in this so-called government of national unity’. (see:


Thanks to Lungile Ncube and Godfrey Madzunga who arrived early and helped set up the Vigil and took charge of the merchandise and register.  Lungile also made his own poster. We were interested to be joined by Dora Mbuwayesango, a Zimbabwean living in North Carolina who is visiting the UK. The Pedzeni family from Bedford were all with us again and special thanks to June Pedzeni who helped look after the front table. June tells us that they arrived at their local station to find there were no trains so all piled into their car and drove to the Vigil.  They were relieved to find parking was free because it was a public holiday (you may be interested to know that parking local to the Vigil is £4.40 an hour!)  The music was particularly good thanks to the drumming and singing of Primrose Ratohwa. She and the rest of us were filmed by Mathias Makozhombwe and Nasiso Kashiri of Motherland ENT, a Zimbabwean music production outfit based in Coventry


For latest Vigil pictures check:


FOR THE RECORD:   45 signed the register.



·           ROHR Woking Food Hamper Raffle Draw. Saturday 9th January from 2 – 5 pm. Venue: The Church House, Oriental Road, Woking GU22 7BD. Tickets: £5. 3 prizes: 1st prize £50 Zimbabwean food hamper, 2nd prize £25 of Zimbabwean groceries, 3rd prize ROHR T-Shirt worth £10. Prizes to be presented by Rodah Kuhlengisa (ROHR Hayes & National Fundraiser).   For info contact Isaac Mudzamiri 07774044873, Sithokozile Hlokana 07886203113, Thandiwe Mabodoko 07552402416 or P Mapfumo 07932216070 / 07915926323.

·           ROHR West Bromwich general meeting. Saturday 30th January from 1.30 – 5.30 pm. Venue: St Peters Church Hall, Whitehall Road, West Bromwich B70 0HF.  Contact: Pamela Dunduru 07958386718, Diana Mtendereki 07768682961, Peter Nkomo 07817096594 or P Mapfumo 07915926323 / 07932216070.

·           ROHR Brighton general meeting.  Saturday 30th January from 1 – 5.30 pm. Venue: Community Base, 113 Queens Road, Brighton BN13XG. ROHR Executive representative present. Contact Sinikiwe Dube 07824668763, Wellington Mamvura 07949595506 or P Mapfumo 07915926323 / 07932216070. Future meetings to be held on Saturdays 27th February and 27th March – same time and venue. 

·           Zimbabwe Association’s Women’s Weekly Drop-in Centre. Fridays 10.30 am – 4 pm. Venue: The Fire Station Community and ICT Centre, 84 Mayton Street, London N7 6QT, Tel: 020 7607 9764. Nearest underground: Finsbury Park. For more information contact the Zimbabwe Association 020 7549 0355 (open Tuesdays and Thursdays).

·           Strategic Internship for Zimbabweans organised by Citizens for Sanctuary which is trying to secure work placements for qualified Zimbabweans with refugee status or asylum seekers. For information: or contact:


Vigil Co-ordinators


The Vigil, outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, 429 Strand, London, takes place every Saturday from 14.00 to 18.00 to protest against gross violations of human rights in Zimbabwe. The Vigil which started in October 2002 will continue until internationally-monitored, free and fair elections are held in Zimbabwe.



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