Lawyers to examine PM's comments on sanctions after WikiLeaks reveals talks
with US diplomats
* David Smith in Johannesburg
* guardian.co.uk, Monday 27 December 2010 16.46 GMT
Zimbabwe is to investigate bringing treason charges against Prime Minister
Morgan Tsvangirai and other individuals over confidential talks with US
diplomats revealed by WikiLeaks.
Johannes Tomana, the attorney general, said he would appoint a commission of
five lawyers to examine whether recent disclosures in leaked American
embassy cables amount to a breach of the constitution. High treason in
Zimbabwe can result in the death penalty. Tomana told the state-owned Herald
newspaper: "With immediate effect, I am going to instruct a team of
practising lawyers to look into the issues that arise from the WikiLeaks.
"The WikiLeaks appear to show a treasonous collusion between local
Zimbabweans and the aggressive international world, particularly the United
State media reports have said hardline supporters of the president, Robert
Mugabe, want an official inquiry into Tsvangirai's discussion of
international sanctions with the US ambassador in Harare.
Mugabe's Zanu-PF party said last week the government should draft a law that
makes it a treasonable offence to call for sanctions. A US embassy cable
dated 24 December 2009 suggests Tsvangirai privately insisted sanctions
"must be kept in place". The Movement for Democratic Change leader
"acknowledged that his public statements calling for easing of sanctions
versus his private conversations saying they must be kept in place have
caused problems," the memo states.
It says: "If necessary, he said, he and [deputy prime minister Arthur]
Mutambara can quietly meet with western leadership to develop a plan on the
issue of sanctions. He said that he and Mutambara have decided to take this
issue out of the hands of the negotiators and handle it personally."
Defenders of Tsvangirai might note that, in the same cable, he asked for
some "flexibility" in sanctions. It says: "Zanu-PF has implemented a
strategy of reciprocity in the negotiations, using western sanctions as a
cudgel against MDC. He [Tsvangirai] would like to see some quiet moves,
provided there are acceptable benchmarks, to 'give' some modest reward for
Tsvangirai's aides say he is not guilty and describe the controversy as
personal attacks on the prime minister. Beatrice Mtetwa, a leading human
rights lawyer, said it would be very difficult to mount a legal case on the
basis of WikiLeaks.
"If there is a commission to look into WikiLeaks, it will have to
investigate everything WikiLeaks has discussed, including officials from
Zanu-PF," she said. "It cannot be selective. When it comes to witnesses, are
they going to call back the former US ambassadors? The cables are based on
opinion, not fact. There are a host of legal problems."
Asked if she could rule out treason charges against Tsvangirai, Mtetwa
replied: "From a legal perspective it would be folly. But I'm not going to
say it's unlikely because the attorney general has been known to chase
rainbows against us. He was put in the position for that particular reason."
Last week, the US treasury department imposed restrictive measures on the
attorney general, saying his actions undermined the country's democratic
institutions. Tomana condemned the move as an attack on his office and the
constitution of Zimbabwe.
Even the term "sanctions" is hotly disputed in Zimbabwe. Opponents of Mugabe
argue that they are no such thing, but rather targeted "restrictive
measures", such as asset freezes and travel bans, imposed by the EU and US
on around 200 people and 40 firms linked to Zanu-PF.
Mugabe's wife, Grace, has filed a $15m (£9.5m) lawsuit against a newspaper
that reproduced a WikiLeaks report saying she had been involved in underhand
sales of diamonds from the controversial Marange mines.
The MDC has called for the government to investigate charges against
Mugabe's wife and other senior officials implicated in the US cables.
The WikiLeaks reports have added to tensions within Zimbabwe's inclusive
government, with Zanu-PF charging that the US cables vindicate its claim
that the MDC is working with the west to oust Mugabe.
by Staff Reporter
HUMAN Rights Lawyers have insisted that the proposed WikiLeaks Commission
should be impartial also target Zanu PF officials named in the secret US
documents made public by the whistle-blower website.
"If there is a commission to look into WikiLeaks, it will have to
investigate everything WikiLeaks has discussed, including officials from
Zanu-PF. It cannot be selective," human rights lawyer, Beatrice Mtetwa told
a British newspaper.
Attorney General, Johannes Tomana, announced last week that a commission
would be appointed to investigate the alleged "treasonous collusion" between
former opposition leaders and Western governments.
"With immediate effect, I am going to instruct a team of practising lawyers
to look into the issues that arise from the WikiLeaks.
“The (leaks) appear to show a treasonous collusion between local Zimbabweans
and the aggressive international world, particularly the United States,"
Tomana told the state-owned Herald newspaper.
The development followed calls by Zanu PF officials for Prime Minister
Morgan Tsvangirai to quit public office and face prosecution for possible
treason in the wake of allegations he privately urged the West to maintain
sanctions against the country.
Communications from the US embassy in Harare released by WikiLeaks suggested
Tsvangirai had privately urged the US and the European Union to keep
sanctions in place while publicly calling for their removal.
Another senior MDC official and cabinet minister, Elton Mangoma, was also
alleged to have asked the West to contribute to a trust fund that would be
used to buy-off senior security service chiefs who are seen as fiercely
local to President Robert Mugabe.
But Mtetwa warned that a successful prosection of Tsvangirai for treason
would be legally problematic.
"From a legal perspective it would be folly. When it comes to witnesses, are
they going to call back the former US ambassadors? The cables are based on
opinion, not fact. There are a host of legal problems.
“But I'm not going to say it's unlikely because the attorney general has
been known to chase rainbows against us. He was put in the position for that
particular reason," she said.
Tomana was himself slapped with US sanctions this month for allegedly
undermining democracy and the rule of law in the country by “presiding over
the selective prosecution of President Mugabe’s political opponents”.
December 27 2010 ,
Thulasizwe Simelane; Zimbabwe
Residents of one village in Zimbabwe's Mashonaland East province are excited
about the gold rush that has hit the area. Panning and prospecting for gold
is happening on a large scale in Makaha village, with some residents even
digging trenches in their backyard, in search of the yellow metal.
The village is believed to have large untapped gold deposits, with potential
for major mining development. Zimbabwe has seen little geological surveying
work in the last few years, with the result that only forty of the over 60
minerals believed to be available, have been tapped into.
In Makaha village, a thriving informal gold mining sector has created a buzz
among villagers. From prospecting on the banks of local streams to digging
trenches in their backyards, villagers have struck it rich. Not
surprisingly, local gold panners flee at the mere sight of any stranger
approaching the local streams of fortune.
Many villagers are said to fear that prospectors from outside will overrun
the village, as it happened in the Chiadzwa diamond fields, leading to a
possible crackdown by authorities. At the same time, government is
encouraging the panners to sell to state agencies.
Zimbabwe mines Minister, Obert Mpofu, says it is incumbent on government to
assist people who are trying to earn a living in a legal way. But, for as
little as 30 dollars a gram, anyone can buy gold in the area.
Informal panning is just as common in other areas where gold has been
discovered, but not mined commercially. A state exploration company is only
being set up now to assess the nation's mineral wealth.
26 December, 2010 05:20:00 KHANYILE MLOTSHWA |
A new political party, Mthwakazi Liberation Front (MLF), will be launched on
Tuesday at Bulawayo’s cradle of politics, Stanley Hall in Makokoba.
The party has fired a salvo dismissing other parties in the region as not
representative of the Matabeleland region.
In an interview with NewsDay, the spokesperson of the new party, David
Magagula, said the launch would be attended by the party’s membership which
he claimed runs into “millions” and other political players.
“Our membership runs into millions. Some are in both factions of the
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), Zapu and Zanu PF.
They are members of those parties but we know that deep in their hearts, and
according to what they tell us about those parties, they are our members. We
also represent a wide range of people from Matabeleland.
“We have invited some political organisations, churches, media houses and
anybody interested. It is the launch of a political party and all political
organisations we have invited have promised to attend but we will see if
they will keep their promises,” Magagula said.
Magagula said MLF was formed on June 6 2006 in South Africa by Zimbabweans
from Matabeleland who are based in that country.
The party has been active in South Africa and has actively used the
Internet, especially Facebook, to mobilise Zimbabweans “The major objective
is to liberate the people of Umthwakazi. It is because of the
marginalisation of the people of Matabeleland who are seen as part of
Zimbabwe yet they are not, even in treatment,” he said.
The MLF spokesperson dismissed Zapu, MDC-M, MDC-T and Zanu PF as one and the
same thing that only had representation in the region.
“I don’t think there are many political parties in Matabeleland because what
you are talking about parties like Zapu, Zanu PF and the MDCs they are
Zimbabwean parties found in Matabeleland. Zapu and the MDCs are nothing but
extensions of Zanu PF. MLF is the only political party for and by the people
of Matabeleland,” he said.
Magagula said his party was yet to decide if it would contest in the next
“I cannot say for now. If we will be contesting in the next elections will
be decided in a pre-launch meeting tomorrow (Monday),” he said.
The spokesperson said the leadership of the party was already there and
would be unveiled at the launch. - NewsDay
by Lunga Sibanda
THE Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) has launched a blitz against
suspected tax dodgers in the tourism sector amid reports the country is
losing millions of dollars through under-invoicing and non-remittance value
added tax (VAT).
The tax authority seized computers and related documents from several
operators last week while a team visited the tourism haven of Vitoria Falls
to look into the operations of tour and adventure operators.
The Ministry of Tourism’s permanent secretary said the blitz was aimed at
ensuring that tour operators and the authorities were working on Dr
Sylvester Maunganidze, his
ministry had sanctioned the blitz on the sector “on the same wave length”.
“The operators said they are not cheating, that they are playing ball and
that they are not evading the two percent tourism levy.
“As a ministry we want proper recordings so that proper tax is paid to the
Government,” he said.
Zimra officers insist that some operators were not remitting VAT on services
booked by Zimbabwean agents while some companies were not redeeming tax from
commissions to agents.
“We unearthed a trend in which the operators were not redeeming (some forms
of) VAT and that is criminal and (the practice) attracts a penalty and
“Some operators have gone for close to three years without paying VAT which
is puzzling because it is refundable,” said a Zimra officer who did not want
to be named.
by Staff Reporter
INDUSTRY and Commerce Minister, Welshman Ncube, has dismissed President
Robert Mugabe’s recent threats to seize US and European companies operating
in Zimbabwe if sanctions imposed against the country were not removed.
Ncube, who is also the Secretary General of the MDC party, said Mugabe’s
threats were not government policy.
“First of all, that is not government policy and that is also not the policy
of the inclusive government and that is not a way for the support to the
revival and growth of the economy,” Ncube told the NewsDay on Monday.
“We have to normalise relations with the Western countries for better trade
and revival of the economy.”
Mugabe made the threat during a national conference of his Zanu PF party
which was held in the eastern border city of Mutare a fortnight ago.
“We need to read the riot act to the British and others and say ‘unless you
remove the sanctions, we will go 100 percent’,” Mugabe said referring to the
government’s policy requiring all foreign-owned firms to localise at least
51 percent of their shareholdings.
Ncube said revenge would reverse ongoing efforts to revive the country’s
economy adding there were better ways to have the sanctions removed.
“Two wrongs cannot make a right, we cannot correct a wrong by doing another
wrong, that is certainly not modern policy,” Ncube said.
He added that the inclusive government was keen to engage the United States
and the European Union (EU) to ensure the sanctions were removed.
The sanctions were imposed in the last decade after Western countries
accused Mugabe of electoral fraud and human rights abuses.
The veteran Zimbabwean leader however argues he is being punished for his
land reform which he insists have benefitted the country’s previously
He blames the sanctions for the country's near-economic collapse over the
Published: 12/27/10, 12:38 PM
by Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
Alert customs authorities at Ben Gurion Airport have foiled an attempt to
smuggle $140,000 worth of non-certified diamonds from the rich Marange field
One of the suspected smugglers, David Vardi, is a trader on the Israeli
Diamond Exchange, whose president Avi Paz said that he will be expelled if
the charges are proven. Police said Vardi has confessed to having obtained
the diamonds from intermediaries in Lebanon.
The second suspect was identified as Gilad HaLachmi, who told officials he
works as a water consultant in Zimbabwe and was asked by Vardi to carry the
diamonds. They were arrested after a customs official stopped HaLachmi, who
was attempting to pass through the “nothing to declare” lane at the airport.
The rough diamonds were found in his clothing pockets.
The valuable stones do not have the official Kimberly Process certification
and are therefore banned by international treaties. The Kimberley Process is
the governing body that certifies diamond exporters, in order to keep the
industry clear of illegal practices,
The rich Marange diamond field has been the center of controversy and crime,
and virtually none of its diamonds are certified. The recent WikiLeaks
cables divulge part of the complex operations between the government in
Zimbabwe and the mine.
The Zimbabwe army has been accused of forced labor and widespread smuggling
at Marange. The government forced out a British company that had claimed the
field and began large-scale mining operations. After nationalization, a gang
of independent prospectors moved in, resulting in the army’s gunning down
illegal miners from helicopters. Thousands of homicides have been reported
The Kimberley Process has charged the Zimbabwe government with abusing human
rights, and stopped certifying the Marange diamonds. Despite this, the
government has continued to process and sell them to buyers in China and
India, who sell them, usually to Lebanese but also to Russians, law-breaking
Israelis and Belgians, according to Foreign Policy.com.
27.12.10, 10:16 /
African Consolidated Resources, a British diamond mining company, has
accused Zimbabwe's Mines Minister Obert Mpofu of misrepresenting the status
of its mining operations in Zimbabwe and has reiterated that there was no
irregularity in the acquisition of its mining claims, The Zimbabwean
"The board of ACR wishes to confirm categorically that none of [the mining
licenses] were acquired fraudulently," ACR CEO Andrew Cranswick said last
Cranswick also stated that ACR had received no notification from Mpofu that
the minister was cancelling its license to mine rough diamonds.
In September of this year, Zimbabwe's Ministry of Mines withdrew its appeal
against a September 9 court ruling that upheld the claim by the African
Consolidated Resources (ACR) mining company to the country's Marange diamond
fields, the company announced.
The decision was handed down by Zimbabwe's High Court on September 7, 2010,
based on the judge's finding that ACR's original claim had been made
"fraudulently and with intent to mislead."
26 December, 2010 09:44:00 AFP
Ivory Coast strongman Laurent Gbagbo warned West African leaders Sunday that
any attempt to oust him by force could ruin the regional economy and trigger
a bloody war.
On Tuesday, three West African presidents will visit Abidjan in a bid to
convince the defiant 65-year-old leader to step down, a last-ditch plea that
comes backed by a threat of regional military intervention.
Gbagbo said he took the threat "seriously" but would never back down, and
his lieutenants warned that any intervention could put the millions of West
African migrants living in Ivory Coast in danger.
"If there is internal disorder, a civil war, there will be dangers, because
we will not let our law, our constitution, be trampled on. People should get
that idea out of their heads," Gbagbo told the French daily Le Figaro.
"We're not afraid. We are the ones who are attacked. We have the law on our
side. How far are those attacking us prepared to go?" he demanded.
Both Gbagbo and his long-time rival Alassane Ouattara claim to have won last
month's presidential election, but only the latter has been recognised as
the president by UN vote monitors and world powers.
Several international leaders, including UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon,
have warned Gbagbo's stubbornness could plunge Ivory Coast back into civil
But Gbagbo's supporters turned the warning around, claiming instead that the
threat of military action by the West African bloc ECOWAS poses a greater
risk of mass civilian casualties and a regional conflagration.
Gbagbo said the West African move was the result of a Western plot directed
by France and the United States, whose ambassadors he accuses of undermining
Ivorian electoral procedures in order to propel Ouattara into power.
"When you go through what I've been through, you tell yourself: 'Perhaps
Mugabe wasn't completely wrong after all'," he said, referring to Zimbabwe's
President Robert Mugabe, who clung to power after losing elections.
The strongman's spokesman Ahouda Don Mello had earlier made what some saw as
a tacit threat against West Africans living in Ivory Coast.
"All these countries have citizens in Ivory Coast and they know if they
attack Ivory Coast from the exterior it would become an interior civil war,"
Don Mello warned, when asked about the ECOWAS threat.
Despite a decade of crisis, Ivory Coast remains a significant economy. It
exports more than a third of the world's supply of cocoa, has a small but
promising oil production sector and operates two major ports.
Millions of immigrants from poorer West African countries have come looking
for jobs, and in previous crises such as the riots of 2004 they have found
themselves targeted for attack by mobs of Ivorian "patriot" youths.
Gbagbo has brushed off sanctions on its members by the United States and the
European Union, but the tough stance taken by its neighbours has touched a
raw nerve, and undermined his claim to be fighting Western colonialism.
On Friday, ECOWAS members said if Gbagbo does not go "the community will be
left with no alternative but to take other measures, including the use of
legitimate force, to achieve the goals of the Ivorian people."
This followed an earlier vote by the finance ministers of the West African
Monetary Union single-currency bloc to block the regime's access to Ivory
Coast's accounts in the Central Banks of West African States.
The African Union has also called on Gbagbo to go, leaving him almost
totally isolated, with only Angola publicly backing its ally.
Meanwhile, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees said Saturday that 14,000
Ivorians have fled to neighbouring Liberia amid the post-election violence.
On Sunday, both camps accused the other of forcing the refugees, who come
from a divided are in the west of the country, to flee.
Gbagbo's forces remain firmly in charge in Abidjan, where they have been
accused of carrying out scores of killings in pro-Ouattara areas.
Ouattara's shadow government is under siege in an Abidjan resort, protected
by 800 UN peacekeepers, but unable to move beyond the grounds of the Golf
Hotel nor take charge of the levers of state power.
France, meanwhile, struck another blow for Ouattara's camp, seizing control
of Gbagbo's official plane at an airport on the Swiss border on behalf of
what Paris calls the "legitimate authorities" of the Ivory Coast.
ABIDJAN, December 25, 2010-The Economic Community of West African States
(ECOWAS) official website on Friday urged incumbent Ivory Coast president
Laurent Gbagbo to step down, threatening the use of force if he attempts to
Gbagbo has to refuse to cede power to president-elect Alassance Ouattara who
won the November 28 runoff election according to international observers.
Gbagbo's supporters have allegedly been engaging in violence and
intimidation against opponents, which has resulted in more that 170 deaths
hundreds of arrests and the use of torture, ill treatment and forced
disappearances according to UN human rights officials.
Gbagbo has faced multiple threats and sanctions levied by both the regional
and international communities, including travel bans and freezes on
financial assets, in addition to personal pleas from neighboring heads of
state. Despite this, Gbagbo has refused to step down and rejecting the
possibility of a power sharing agreement modeled on those created after the
disputed elections in Kenya and Zimbabwe.ECOWAS is also expected to send a
delegation of the presidents of Benin, Sierra Leone and Cape Verde to meet
with Gbagbo hoping to convince him to make a peaceful exit so as not to have
to depend on forced removal.
On Thursday, the UN Human Rights Council adopted a resolution condemning the
post-election violence. Also Thursday, Ouattara's prime minister called on
the International Criminal Court (ICC) to launch an investigation into
possible crimes being committed by Gbagbo's supporters.
Earlier this month, the Council of the EU adopted a decision instituting
sanctions against the Ivory Coast. There has been unrest in the country
since elections were held at the beginning of this month. The UN certified
Ouattrara's victory, despite a ruling by the Ivorian Constitutional Council
in Gbagbo's favor. Both have taken oaths of office.
Approximately $340 million in aid from the EU could also be withheld if
Gbagbo does not concede victory to Ouattrara.
26 December, 2010 05:30:00 VENERANDA LANGA
Embattled Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara, who faces a possible
revolt at his party’s next congress, says the armed forces should act
professionally, be non-partisan and serve the interests of all Zimbabweans
amid reports some could have been deployed to rural areas ahead of pending
elections next year.
Mutambara warned soldiers not to be used as spent forces by politicians who
view them as cannon fodder.
The DPM was responding to an inquiry by Chipinge East Member of Parliament
Mathias Mlambo on why the government had deployed soldiers in different
parts of the country including in his constituency.
Mlambo asked him during a question and answer session in Parliament as to
whether it was government policy to deploy soldiers to harass villagers.
The MP alleged soldiers were camped at a place called Green Valley in
Chipinge East harassing and beating them up villagers on spurious grounds.
Mutambara responded saying soldiers should not be used to serve the
interests of political parties, but of all Zimbabweans.
“The government of Zimbabwe has a policy that believes in a professional
armed force in the country,” said Mutambara. “Our soldiers are supposed to
be non-partisan and defend the Zimbabwean national interest.”
Mutambara said as a matter of policy the government did not believe in
deploying soldiers or any of the armed forces to pursue partisan
“We want to make sure that in Zimbabwe our police force, intelligence
officers and army are defending the Zimbabwean national interest and do not
pursue partisan aspirations,” he said.
In an interview with NewsDay, Mlambo said most villagers in Chipinge were
living in constant fear after soldiers were deployed in 2009 at Dazey Hill
and were allegedly harassing them.
An MDC-T activist, Garakadzai Mhlanga, told NewsDay in a telephone interview
from Chipinge East that their area had become a no-go area as gun-toting
soldiers were moving around and beating up people.
He alleged two months ago a 36-year-old man, Solomon Mazvokwati, was taken
by Zanu PF youths with the help of four soldiers and assaulted.
Zanu PF has since refuted the allegations saying they were mere fabrications
of regime change agenda stalwarts.
“They are moving around the villages with guns,” said Mhlanga. “In the
evening they then go back to their camp.”
Mlambo confirmed the assaults and said he suspected that the terror campaign
was aimed at discouraging villagers from voting for the MDC-T as the country
geared up for elections. He said a young man, Thomas Sithole, had his
national identity card taken away from him by the soldiers.
Another MDC-T activist in Chipinge, Misheck Mazanga, went into hiding after
Zanu PF activists and soldiers threatened him with death for contributing
immensely during constitution-making outreach meetings.
“These soldiers came to Dazey Hill in 2009. All these cases have been
reported to the local police but they just die a natural death,” said
He said he was disappointed when Minister of Defence Emmerson Mnangagwa
defended the position in Parliament and said the deployment of soldiers
around the country was normal and only increased visibility of the defence
MPs recently quizzed Mnangagwa in Parliament over allegations that army
majors and soldiers were being used to further Zanu PF agendas in
preparation for the forthcoming elections.
Mnangagwa, however, denied the allegations and said soldiers like any
citizen in the country were allowed to be in any part of the country and
that their deployment everywhere increased visibility of the Zimbabwe
Defence Forces (ZDF).
He said this was desirable for any organisation.
“The resounding and successful recruitment policy of the ZDF focuses on
achieving regional balanced representation with the armed forces. Through
this policy there is equitable distribution of serving members throughout
the country’s districts,” said Mnangagwa.
Mnangagwa said it was their visibility throughout the country that led to
unfounded allegations that their deployment was political. -NewsDay
JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA Dec 27 2010 18:09
Illegal Zimbabweans living in South Africa have four days left to register
for legal documents, the Home Affairs department said on Monday.
"The final bells for the registration of illegal Zimbabweans living in South
Africa are tolling with only four days left before the deadline of 31
December 2010 as set out by Cabinet," Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana
Dlamini-Zuma said in a statement.
She warned that government would not extend the deadline.
"Accordingly, and even at this late hour, we take this opportunity to make
the final appeal to those who have not applied for their regularisation or
those with fraudulently acquired South African documents to apply or submit
such documents now and not wait for the deadline."
Dlamini-Zuma said senior managers in the department, including the
director-general Mkuseli Apleni, deputy directors-general and acting deputy
directors-general, would be deployed to various centres across the country
to assist in the process.
To register those who have not yet applied, Home Affairs offices across the
country will be open between 8am and 5pm in the days leading up to the
"The government is aware of the challenges faced by the Zimbabwean
authorities in issuing valid travel documents to those seeking to apply for
their regularisation in South Africa.
"In this context, the South African government will accept receipts issued
by the Zimbabwean authorities as proof of their applications for such travel
documents." -- Sapa