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AG Tomana urges ZANU-PF to grab white farms

Wednesday, 30 December 2009 12:20

Zimbabwe's Attorney General Johannes Tomana has defended the fresh white
farm invasions that have since scalated during the festive season.

In response, the president of the Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union (CFU)
Deon Theron, said the escalating invasions could be a signal for the return
of violence that blighted Zimbabwe's elections last year.

"This is a new wave of violence," said Theron.

Theron said, last week two white farmers came under siege from the ZANU-PF
sponsored invaders in Manicaland. He said President Mugabe's trusted ally,
Didymus Mutasa was believed to be behind one of the invasions.

Mr Tomana said the invaders were right to repossess their land despite an
international condemnation of Zimbabwe's controversial land reform

"Those farmers are actually guilty of breaking the law and they must leave.
All the land in the country belongs to the government and as such no
individual has the right to disobey a government directive to vacate such.

"There is nobody invading any farms, actually it's the white farms that are
guilty of failing to vacate state property. They must have vacated those
farms a long while ago." he said.

Mr Tomana added: "What is happening right now is that many of those white
farmers were ordered to leave long back, but decided to fight the government
in courts. Now they must leave because the land belongs to Zimbabweans who
want to utilize it to develop the country."

President Mugabe also told reporters onTuesday that there was nothing amiss
in the fresh farm invasions as the people in question had offer letters
dating back to 2004.

What irks many Zimbabweans today is that farm invasions continue unabated
despite the unity government in place.

Commenting on the same issue, MDC-T spokesperson, Nelson Chamisa said his
party condemned the continued harassment of white farmers.

"Our party intelligence has it on record that the fresh farm invasions are
being perpetrated by Zanu pf leaders mainly in Manicaland province and the
country as a whole. We condemn in strongest terms the fresh farm invasions.
We condemn the greedy being displayed by Zanu pf. That is one of the areas
where we are failing to agree with Zanu-PF," said Chamisa.

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Zimbabwe Farmers Union Criticizes Government Over Mounting Land Seizures

The 2008 power-sharing agreement between ZANU-PF and the Movement for
Democratic Change calls land reform irreversible, but the MDC has
unsuccessfully called for an end to farm seizures

Ntungamili Nkomo | Washington 29 December 2009

The Commercial Farmers' Union, which represents Zimbabwe's remaining few
white farmers, said Tuesday that it is disappointed with the unity
government which it says has not halted seizures of white-owned properties.

The CFU said three farmers have been violently driven out of their farms in
the past two weeks in Mashonaland East and Manicaland provinces.

Of the estimated 300 white comercial farmers remaining in Zimbabwe, 152 are
now under imminent threat of losing their properties to politicians
belonging to President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party, the union says.

The 2008 Global Political Agreement for power-sharing between ZANU-PF and
the two Movement for Democratic Change formations says land reform is
irreversible, but the MDC has called for an end farm seizures which it says
further damage the agricultural sector and discourage investment.

The unity agreement also says former colonial power Britain should take full
responsibility for compensating white commercial farmers whose properties
have been expropriated since the land invasions began in 2000.

Commercial Farmers Union President Deon Theron told VOA Studio 7 reporter
Ntungamili Nkomo that his union wants the government to halt disruptions of
farms and related lawlessness.

Theron said government inaction will only worsen food shortages,
particularly of maize meal, the national staple. The government said this
year's crop totaled 1.2 million tonnes - but the country needs some 1.8
million annually.

VOA was unable to reach Lands Resettlement Minister Hebert Murerwa.

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Dramatic US$266 000 bank heist hit Stanbic

Tuesday, 29 December 2009 21:23

Six armed robbers yesterday stormed Stanbic Bank's Chegutu branch, shot and
injured an assistant branch manager before fleeing with US$266 000.

The gang also escaped with 150 000 South African rands and 34 690 Botswana
pula. They used two getaway cars, an Isuzu KB twin-cab truck and a Peugeot
406, both metallic silver in colour.

The robbers also reportedly looted cash, cellphones and other valuables from
clients who were in the banking hall.

Zimbabwean police in Chegutu confirmed the robbery, adding that
investigations were in progress.

"An assistant branch manager has been shot. He has been taken to hospital
and police are on the ground in Chegutu investigating the matter.

"No arrests have been made so far. There were six members of the gang and
four of them went into the banking hall while the other two remained in the
getaway cars," a senior police officer said.

According to witnesses, the six men parked their cars near the bank at
around 9:15 am when clients were queueing to deposit and withdraw cash.

One of the robbers reportedly went straight to the front and caused
commotion after some customers complained that he was jumping the queue.

In the ensuing commotion, three more gang members, who were armed, entered
the banking hall and ordered everyone to lie down. Other customers who came
in later were also ordered to lie down and relieved of their cash and

The robbers reportedly force-marched the assistant branch manager to the
back office before ordering him to open the safe.

The assistant manager allegedly took his time to open the safe as he tried
to switch on a key code, prompting one of the robbers to fire two shots at
his legs, seriously injuring him.

The manager later opened the safe and the gang looted US$266 000, 150 000
rand and 36 000 pula.

Vendors who sell their wares outside the bank said the robbery happened so
quickly that people around barely saw what happened.

A mobile phone airtime vendor, Tichafadzwa Bvute, who was coming out of Food
Chain Supermarket near the bank, said he was terrified when he heard screams
from the bank and people bolting out of the banking hall in confusion.

He said the robbers, who were carrying cardboard boxes and bags of cash,
jumped into their getaway cars that had their doors open and engines

"One of the robbers was covering his face with a woollen hat and they were
speaking in a language I did not understand," he said.

Another vendor, Mr Blessing Mazambara, said it was frightening to see men
carrying boxes and bags of cash, rushing to their vehicles brandishing guns.

"These people had pistols and nobody could stop them. However, someone took
pictures of the robbers getting away in their cars with a mobile phone
camera and I am sure it has been handed over to the police," he said.

This is the first bank robbery in which shots have been fired since the
introduction of the multiple-currency system earlier this year.

In February, four armed men hit the Kingdom Bank branch at Karigamombe and
and got away with US$120 000, R48 930 , £155, 1800 pula and 10 Australian
dollars, without firing a single shot.

The robbery was captured on closed circuit television, which helped in
bringing the gang to book.

In July this year, a six-member gang raided a Barclays Bank branch in
Bulawayo and got away with US$50 000, R126 000 and £500.

Earlier this month, three armed men stormed CBZ Chitungwiza branch and stole
phones from bank staff, but failed to get cash.

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Zimbabwe To Build New Parliament

Harare, December 30, 2009 - The cash-strapped Government of Zimbabwe will
construct a new Parliament in the Kopje area of Harare, Theresa Makone, the
new Minister of Public Works and Housing Construction has revealed.

Makone is from the MDC-T camp which is part of the inclusive government of
President Robert Mugabe.
Makone said the Chinese government had agreed to help fund the project
expected to cost about US$10 million according to conservative estimates.
Zimbabwe's old Parliament has become too small for its  MPs and Senators.
The country introduced the Senate just before the March 2008 harmonised
elections. More MPs are expected after the next election expected once the
constitutional making process has been finalised.

"We will be building a new Parliament for Zimbabwe in the Kopje area of
Harare," Makone said.
The Parliament project had been regularly shelved several times because
government did not have any cash and architects haggled over the many plans.
Zimbabwe's Parliament was built in the 1960s under the colonial regime of
the Federation. It has never been improved or updated.

Makone said the new Parliament building would have state-of-the-art
facilities found in other Parliaments internationally.


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Chinese gov't has nothing to do with business operation of China Intl Fund Ltd: embassy 2009-12-30 21:30:42

    HARARE, Dec. 30 (Xinhua) -- The Chinese embassy in Harare on Wednesday
issued a statement saying that the Chinese government has nothing to do with
the business operations of a company named China International Fund Ltd in

    "The Chinese embassy certifies that China International Fund Ltd is an
international company registered in Hong Kong. Its investment in Zimbabwe is
completely its own corporate behavior. The Chinese government has nothing to
do with its business operations. The embassy doesn't have any knowledge of
the specifics," the embassy said in the statement.

    The Chinese government is always devoted to the trade and economic
co-operation with Zimbabwe in all sectors, the embassy said. "We firmly
believe, with the joint efforts of both Chinese and Zimbabwean governments
and people, the economic co-operation between the two countries is
determined to achieve further development," it added.

    Recently, China International Fund Ltd with its affiliated
China-Sonangol and Sino-Zimbabwe Development Company has reportedly signed a
serious of co-operation agreements involving eight-billion-U.S. dollar
investment deals in mining, energy and transport sectors.

    The Chinese embassy received some enquiries from Zimbabwe government
officials and businesspeople requiring the embassy to confirm the agreements
and activities of the company, the embassy said.

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Engen’s Zimbabwe bid blocked by 20m claim

Published: 2009/12/30 07:11:53 AM

ENGEN Petroleum’s bid for BP and Shell assets in Zimbabwe could be heading
for a snag as a Zimbabwean company seeks to block the deal over an
outstanding 20m claim from BP, the Zimbabwe-based Financial Gazette has

This is the latest hurdle that Engen must overcome in order to realise its
desire to get into the Zimbabwean market.

Engen and Kenyan oil group KenolKobil’s efforts to buy refined petroleum
marketing assets in Zimbabwe gas were met with opposition as various groups
in Zimbabwe have alleged that the transaction was in violation of the
country’s Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act. Engen has denied the

In the latest development , the Financial Gazette reported that Strausse
Logistics, a Zimbabwean indigenous refined petroleum products marketing
company, was standing in the way of the deal. The company has filed a 20m
claim against BP. The newspaper said the liabilities related to fuel supply
deals, negotiated by BP Zimbabwe’s senior management with indigenous
importers after BP International decided to stop importing fuel into

Engen spokeswoman Tania Landsberg said yesterday that the company was aware
of the latest developments.

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Officials rule out suspected anthrax case in Zimbabwe

HARARE, Dec 29, 2009 (Xinhua via COMTEX) -- Zimbabwe's veterinary officials on Tuesday ruled out a suspected anthrax case from a rural growth point about 50 kilometers East of Harare.

Veterinary Field Services director Unesu Ushewokunze-Obatolu told Xinhua results of the suspected case did not confirm anthrax.

"We are ruling it out," she said.

The suspected case had raised fears that the deadly disease could be spreading following its outbreak in two central districts of the country last week where it killed one person and 25 cattle.

The disease killed 18 cattle in Seke, some 40 km South-East of Harare while the person who succumbed to the disease was from Selous, 60 km North-West of the capital. Seven cattle from one farm in the district also died of anthrax.

Department deputy director Chenjerai Njagu said Juru Growth Point (a medium-sized rural service centre) was in one of the few districts which were left out during vaccination carried out at the beginning of the year. The growth point is in Goromonzi district.

"We left out Goromonzi and Seke districts because of shortage of vaccines," said Njagu.

"Now these are the areas giving us problems because we had not vaccinated them at the beginning of the year."

He said the disease was dangerous as one case can kill several people who consume meat from an infected animal, adding that the department would soon move into the affected areas to vaccinate cattle.

The department vaccinated 1, 100 cattle in Seke over the Christmas holiday but Njagu said the turn out was very low.

"The turn out was low and we are going to repeat vaccination after the holiday," he said.

Anthrax is a soil-borne disease which is endemic in Zimbabwe. It is normally recorded during the rainy season when sprouting grass brings out the bacteria from soil.

The department has since ordered butcheries and abattoirs in the affected areas to stop selling beef to the public to prevent transmission of the disease to humans.

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Zimbabwe Industry Minister Blames Western Media for Nestle Imbroglio

Industry and Commerce Minister Welshman Ncube accused media in the West of
mounting a campaign to pressure Nestle to stop doing business with a
Mugabe-controlled dairy firm

Patience Rusere | Washington 29 December 2009

Zimbabwean Industry and Commerce Minister Welshman Ncube has blasted the
international media for what he charges was a pressure campaign against
Swiss-based multinational Nestlé over its now-ended supplier ties with a
dairy company owned by the family of President Robert Mugabe.

Ncube was quoted by the state-controlled Herald newspaper as charging that
South African, British and American media outlets campaigned to pressure
Nestlé to terminate its business relationship with Gushungo Dairy Estate, a
company controlled by Grace Mugabe, the president's wife.

Nestle suspended operations at its Harare processing plant last week
charging that its managers and staff had been pressured to take milk from
Gushungo. Two ministers of Mr. Mugabe's former ruling ZANU-PF party were
said to have intimidated managers while leaving off a tanker truck full of

Industry Minister Ncube organized talks among the parties concerned and came
up with a proposal to resolve the matter with an arrangement under which the
Mugabe-controlled dairy would supply milk to a cooperative organization from
which Nestlé would then purchase raw milk.

In effect, such an arrangement would keep the Mugabe firm at arm's length -
though critics have already said such a deal would be a travesty.

A Nestlé spokeswoman said Monday that the corporation is examining the
conditions in Zimbabwe and had not decided whether to resume operations at
its plant in the Zimbabwean capital, which employs some 200 people.

Supa Mandiwandzira, president of the Affirmative Action Group, which has
taken the side of the Gushungo firm in the matter, insisted in an interview
with VOA Studio 7 reporter Patience Rusere that the Mugabes like any other
Zimbabweans have a right to do business in the country.

Others have argued however that Nestlé should be free to choose its business
partners, as it has an international reputation to defend

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An outside bet for next emerging economy: sub-Saharan Africa

December 30, 2009

Carl Mortished, World business briefing

The past ten years have belonged to China, an emerging superpower in both
economic dollars and political capital. It would be foolish to suggest that
China will not continue to make bigger waves, but a more interesting
question is which region might, over the next few years, catch the baton of
surprise performer, a laggard that suddenly astonishes everyone and begins
to pick up its heels and sprint.

An outside bet is sub-Saharan Africa, a hotch-potch of states ranging from
the corrupt and conflict-torn, such as Zimbabwe, to stable improvers, such
as Ghana, and fast developers, such as Angola. Standard Chartered, the bank,
reckons that the region's economic growth rate will recover from a weak 1
per cent in 2009 to 4.7 per cent next year and 5.7 per cent in 2011.

If the region does thrive, it would not be too unfair to say that growth
will be in spite of graft, tribal conflict and bad government. Africa will
motor because the world's continuing hunger for commodities - oil and metals
and, increasingly, food - requires that it rid itself of the status of
global loser. The promoter, driver and instigator of that transformation
will be China.

Africa has known many resource booms. China's interest in sucking oil from
Angola and scooping copper out of the Democratic Republic of the Congo is
little different from that of antecedent European mining and oil companies.
This time, however, the relationship between "imperial" power and host
country is more straightforward. China is swapping infrastructure - roads,
railroads and ports - for oil and minerals. Whether the deals represent good
or bad money depends on your view of oil and mineral prices. What no one can
deny is that Africa's transport networks are improving and that represents a
huge economic opportunity. A global financial backwater, sub-Saharan Africa
mostly escaped the financial crisis. Its banks were simply too disconnected
from the world to be contaminated by toxic debt - although, in the case of
Nigerian banks, they were able to make their own poison. However, the region
suffered almost as much from the withdrawal of funds by nervous investors,
and the sudden collapse in world trade hurt Africa's mineral exports.

As a result, African stock markets are relatively cheap, despite continued
economic growth throughout the recession and strong commodity prices.
According to Stanlib, the fund management unit of Standard Bank, of South
Africa, Chinese trade with Africa suffered only a marginal slowdown while
its exports to the West collapsed. In terms of investment, China put more
money into Africa in 2009 than in any previous year.

Not surprisingly, Stanlib would like to see other foreign investors follow
China's example but, even for those with nerves of steel, it is not easy
investing in Africa. Few African countries have liquid stock markets. South
Africa is under a cloud, its mining sector suffering from the weak US
dollar, energy shortages and concerns about black empowerment regulations.

The investment focus is farther north, where a geopolitical struggle is
under way between the United States and China over access to oil reserves.
Scouring the world for alternatives to Opec and Russia, the Bush
Administration identified the Gulf of Guinea as a potential oil lifeline.
Washington would like a third of America's oil imports to come from West
Africa by 2015. In its usual blundering way, it established Africa Command,
a military centre, based in Stuttgart, to oversee threats to America's
African interests and it has tried without much success to involve West
African states in security pacts.

China has been more successful. Despite his African connection, President
Obama has largely ignored the continent while Hu Jintao, the Chinese
President, recently completed an eight-nation African tour. China is
offering enormous investments and loan packages in return for access to
minerals. A $9 billion infrastructure-for-mineral-rights deal by China in
Congo was held up after the International Monetary fund worried that the
African state would be overburdened with debt. In November, Wen Jiabao, the
Chinese Premier, dangled the carrot of $10 billion in loans for Africa.

The next competition is for food. The sub-Saharan region has huge water
resources, cheap labour and plentiful land. Lonrho, of Britain, has acquired
25,000 hectares in Angola for food production. Asian and Middle Eastern
companies are scouring the region.

You can hardly blame African states for preferring railroads-for-oil swaps
to Western "aid". If you have oil to sell, why not take payment in a road?
Who cares if it is built by Chinese engineers, probably in half the time it
would take French or Americans with their meddling environmental-impact
assessors. It is better than Western "aid", with its strings and conditions.
And if the Chinese leave, the road remains.

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Frenemies of the State

Once the most outspoken critic of Zimbabwe's government, David Coltart is
now on the inside

by Joshua Hammer

In 1981, in Cape Town, David Coltart was a gangly university student from
newly independent Zimbabwe, where Robert Mugabe had just become prime
minister. Coltart believed that Mugabe's government was sincere about
promoting racial reconciliation in Zimbabwe, and he tried to recruit the
country's ministers to come to Cape Town to address white Zimbabwean
students there. After being hassled for his efforts by South Africa's
apartheid regime, he received a personal telegram from Mugabe. "He wrote, 'I've
heard about the work you are doing, and I want to encourage you,'" Coltart
told me. "'There is a place for all of you [in Zimbabwe], and you have
nothing to fear but fear itself.'"

In recent years, however, Coltart could not have imagined himself standing
in the same room with Mugabe without fear. A still boyish-looking
52-year-old lawyer, Coltart spent the past two decades as one of the most
outspoken opponents of the Zimbabwean ruler. As Mugabe morphed from
independence hero into despot, Coltart helped found the Movement for
Democratic Change, the country's main opposition group; became one of a
handful of whites in the parliament; and defended human-rights activists and
other enemies of the regime. For five years, I've met with him repeatedly on
my clandestine visits to Zimbabwe, as I've reported on the country's spiral
into repression, violence, and economic ruin.

But in February of this year, after a tumultuous concatenation of political
events that eventually saw his party join a unity government with Mugabe,
Coltart found himself serving as minister of education. At weekly cabinet
meetings, he now sits two seats away from Emmerson Mnangagwa, the minister
of defense and a key member of Mugabe's Joint Operations Command, which
orchestrated the torture and killing of countless members of Coltart's party
last year. "It's a bizarre situation," Coltart told me over dinner at the
York Lodge, a leafy retreat in a suburb of Harare, the Zimbabwean capital.
At an awkward swearing-in ceremony at the State House, recalled Coltart, "we
were called one by one into [Mugabe's] office, and it was a bit like naughty
schoolboys going to see the headmaster." When his turn came, he said,
"Mugabe launched into a monologue about how important schooling was, and he
made this strange comment, saying, 'You will appreciate that we've got some
problems in education.'"

That was an understatement. By February 2009, when Coltart took over,
Zimbabwe's education system had collapsed: 20,000 teachers had abandoned
their posts and left the country because they were being paid in worthless
currency, and nearly all of the country's 7,000 schools were shuttered. One
of the first moves of the new unity government was to outlaw the Zimbabwean
dollar and convert to a U.S.-dollar economy. Coltart set salaries at $155 a
month, and he received a flood of applications from teachers wanting their
old jobs back. (Even so, many teachers say they're unsatisfied with the new
salaries, and one teachers union went on strike in early September to
protest their "abject poverty and perpetual debt.") But Coltart has learned
that fixing the system is not so easy when Mugabe-or Mugabe's surrogates-are
looking over his shoulder. The Education Ministry's permanent secretary, a
Mugabe loyalist who "views all the teachers as MDC sympathists," Coltart
says, has thrown up bureaucratic roadblocks such as mandatory police checks;
as a result, only a few hundred teachers have been rehired. "It's not a
pleasant process, and if I wasn't a determined, stubborn type of fellow, it
would be harrowing," he told me.

Coltart would like to start introducing education reforms-adding
human-rights courses to the curriculum and getting Zimbabwean schools to
address such controversial issues as the military's massacre of thousands of
civilians in Matabeleland in southern Zimbabwe in 1983. But Coltart knows
moving too fast could bring everything crashing down. "It's a flawed
agreement, and anyone who thinks that overnight it would yield dramatic
changes is simply being unrealistic," he told me.

As logs crackled in the fireplace, and our waiter brought in a dessert of
pears in white-wine sauce on fine English china, Coltart told me that he was
heading to a fishing lodge in Zimbabwe's eastern highlands, for a weekend
retreat where he would spend three days breaking bread with members of
Mugabe's inner circle. "You meet and get to know these people, and it
becomes less tense," he says. "But you're still very wary." Not without
reason, it seems: at his swearing-in, Coltart reminded Mugabe of that
long-ago telegram sent to him in Cape Town in 1981. "I told him, 'You said
we should all come back and we should have nothing to fear. Well, I'm back.'"
Mugabe just laughed.

Joshua Hammer is a writer based in Berlin.

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Britain's Thatcher blocked talks with 'terrorist' Mugabe: files

  by Katherine Haddon Katherine Haddon   - Tue Dec 29, 7:19 pm ET

LONDON (AFP) - Margaret Thatcher banned her envoy to what was then Rhodesia
from meeting Robert Mugabe in 1979, refusing to talk "with terrorists until
they become prime ministers," files released Wednesday showed.

At the time, Britain was debating whether to recognise the government of
Bishop Abel Muzorewa, the first black-led administration in what
subsequently became Zimbabwe, previously secret documents revealed.

Muzorewa was elected in 1979 after years of white minority rule led by Ian
Smith, against which Mugabe's party and others waged a bloody 15-year
guerilla war.

But the election came after an internal settlement brokered by Smith and he
remained in Muzorewa's government, so its result was bitterly opposed by
other African nations and elsewhere.

As Thatcher became Britain's first female prime minister in May 1979,
officials in Britain, the former colonial power, were considering a quick
recognition of the Muzorewa government and lifting sanctions.

"The people of Rhodesia have the right to decide themselves who shall be
their govt. and whether they approve the internal settlement," Thatcher
wrote on a letter she received from Australian premier Malcolm Fraser that

Former colonial power Britain soon sent an envoy, Lord Harlech, to
Zimbabwe-Rhodesia to hold negotiations with African countries like Nigeria
and Tanzania about the future, as well as developing contacts with Muzorewa.

But Thatcher was forcefully opposed to him meeting Mugabe and Joshua Nkomo,
leaders of the Patriotic Front rebels.

In a letter to Downing Street on May 25, a senior Foreign Office official
wrote that then foreign secretary Lord Peter Carrington "considers that the
emissary should offer to meet the co-leaders of the Patriotic Front."

Thatcher wrote on top, in a heavily underlined note: "No -- please do not
meet leaders of the 'Patriotic Front'. I have never done business with
terrorists until they become Prime Ministers! MT".

Meanwhile, African leaders remained convinced that Britain was about to
recognise Muzorewa's government.

Then Nigerian vice-president Shehu Musa Yar'Adua even suggested that his
country could leave the Commonwealth over the affair during a conversation
with Britain's ambassador to Lagos, according to a diplomatic telegram on
May 29.

The Muzorewa government did not survive, in part due to lack of
international recognition.

Britain called a conference on Zimbabwe-Rhodesia in London later that year
and an agreement was secured, after which the country briefly returned to
British rule before Mugabe was elected in 1980 and the country was renamed

Mugabe has held office ever since, facing widespread international
condemnation in recent years amid unemployment, food shortages and human
rights violations.

In February 2009, he formed a unity government with Morgan Tsvangirai of the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change following disputed elections in

The 1979 documents were released by the National Archives in London under
the 30-year rule. This allows classified government files to be made public
after three decades.

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The slaughter continues



One of Mugabe’s biggest fears must be that someone who knows where all the bodies are hidden will break ranks and spill the beans.


Imagine if someone did do that. They would have to do it at a reasonable age as it would take years to get through the long list of victims and burial places.


One thing that concerns me deeply, having spent so many years living in Zimbabwe and knowing the depth of feeling that surrounds death in Zimbabwe and the need for the deceased to be buried correctly and with dignity, it actually shocks me that Mugabe should wantonly spirit away (excuse the expression) dead bodies without any care for the family, their needs, or the respect that the deceased require.


I should know, as I was a serving police officer in Matabeleland during the Gukurahundi and it was a discovery of discarded bodies that led to my departure from the ZRP.


From my book, “Without Honour”:


“The young teenager who had been showing us the way had disappeared, and his place was taken by a young adult, nowhere near as excited, his face screwed up in concern, his entreaties for us to follow more urgent.


Not more than a kilometre further up a very unused track we broke through some tree lines and immediately we could smell it…


Rotten meat. Badly rotten meat. Putrid, disgusting, horrible, rotten meat…


As a youngster I was renowned for having a very soft stomach and if I smelt something that turned my stomach, I puked. Great fun! But my time in the police, and pulling smashed up bodies out of motor vehicles, or taking down suicide hangings, or bodies that had floated in a river or dam for a few days, had hardened me to the vile smells that life and death brought.


But this was overpowering.


A few metres on, I was shown a track breaking off right and heading downhill - at quite a slope. Carefully, I stepped down a few metres, ever aware that the smell was now palpable, a real thing, not something blown in and away by the wind.


What I was looking down was either the ventilation shaft of an old mine, or the main shaft of an even older mine. Just a hole in the ground, maybe two metres in diameter - and the smell obviously lived down there.


Stepping up to the edge with great care - I didn’t want to fall in there, did I? - I peered down into what I thought would just be blackness - and received a not so pleasant surprise. I could see what looked like tiny bodies!


A hand, a head and what looked like a man’s body without a head… disgusting.


Now I was struggling to keep myself from throwing up. Quickly I back-tracked a few paces and waved the other officers away.


“No! You don’t want to see what’s down there! It’s horrible!” I managed to croak. As I have said before, the blacks in Zimbabwe are rather wary of death and they believed me, probably convinced by the loss of blood in my face, and the accompanying smell of death, moving away back up the steep path to the level track.”


That was in late 1984 - some twenty-five years ago. And nothing happened because no one would listen to me. The powers that be just made my life in uniform unbearable and then applied even more pressure until I had little option but to resign.


And that callous killing style continues.


“The remains of a Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) party activist suspected to have been murdered by ZANU PF militia in 2007 have been found in a mountain, police confirmed on Tuesday.


Manicaland provincial police spokesperson, Inspector Makomeke said the bones of Paul Zimunda, who died at the age of 33, were discovered on Monday by a hunter in Unze Mountain, in Zipeya Village, under Chief Nyashanu.


Zimunda had his metal identification card on him.


His whereabouts remained a mystery after he was abducted by a gang of the notorious militia who were violently drumming up support for ageing President Robert Mugabe while stifling any voices of dissent.”


And Mugabe goes into 2010 with no signs of him or his senior loyalists ever being brought to book.


Welcome to the real Zimbabwe - the one that Mugabe would prefer you don’t know about.


Robb WJ Ellis

The Bearded Man

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African view: Back to the future?
Wednesday, 30 December 2009

A giraffe (left), Islamist militants (top right), the coffin of Guinea-Bissau's leader Joao Bernardo Vieira (right centre) and South African athlete Caster Semenya

In our series of viewpoints from African journalists, Zimbabwean filmmaker and columnist Farai Sevenzo looks back at 2009.

What a difference a year makes - 12 little months. Where there are events we think we can predict, we find we cannot see past one month, never mind 12 - or, as has been the fashion this month, 10 whole years because everyone wants to look back on a decade that doesn't mathematically end until this time next year.

But this time last year, where were we?

Guinea's coup leader Captain Moussa Dadis Camara
History is often so cruel to the history-makers

We Africa-watchers were watching the death of one coup leader in Guinea and marvelling at the wisdom of the French saying that the more things change, the more they stay the same, as Captain Moussa Dadis Camara executed his own coup barely six hours after the death of the old coup-master Lansana Conte.

Twelve months ago as Guinea's beret rouge took over the affairs of state, who would have thought that a year on, the architect of that bloodless coup would have gone into medical exile in Morocco with bullet wounds to the head?

Yes, the 45-year-old captain is no longer at the helm in the troubled West African country and he didn't even make it to the first anniversary of his own coup.

History is often so cruel to the history-makers.

Since there are no soothsayers left of any worth, it is difficult to predict where this coming year will take us.

But in the ancient world of talking animals, it was often said that the giraffe was the soothsayer - her long neck allowed her to look into the past with supernatural ease and peer into the future too and see beyond the clouds of predictability to reveal the true essence of the African.

Zimbabwe's Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai (left) and President Robert Mugabe (rigth)
No wedding presents were forthcoming for Zimbabwe's marriage of convenience

What did she see in Zimbabwe? Old foes becoming friends? The 85-year-old Robert Mugabe indispensable to his party?

Yes, the marriage of convenience stuttered on through many pains and the world was less vocal about the dubious state of this marriage, and could not tell whether the husband was a wife-beater or if the wife was being unfaithful to the cause, and so the wedding gifts were not forthcoming.

But as December comes to a close, there they are in jovial mood, the thin old man and his ample wife, assuring us all that the new year will be a better one because they have nearly resolved their differences.

Sex bans and dogs of war

Meanwhile Kenya's marriage of convenience was given fresh impetus when Kenyan women decided to abstain from sex for a week so the coalition government in Nairobi would know their womenfolk were displeased with their constant squabbling.

Simon Mann
Simon Mann was all smiles after his reprieve from a 34-year jail term

The giraffe tells me this was a laughable gesture, as a week is not a long time in politics and it showed just what part of their bodies made all the decisions.

Then the president of that republic - Mwai Kibaki - and his wife Lucy faced the press to confirm that their own marriage, despite rumours to the contrary, was on far more solid ground and that they were happily married.

Had we bothered to listen to the wise old giraffe, we would have learned that plotting the overthrow of a government does not necessarily mean death and imprisonment - the dog of war Simon Mann was freed on a presidential pardon in Equatorial Guinea.

While in yet another Guinea - this time the volatile little corner that is Bissau - the old dapper dictator Joao Bernardo Vieira was shot dead after being blamed for the killing of an army chief.

Losing footballers

Still, the soothsayer giraffe does not tell us about forthcoming killings because she knows we expect them.

Suspected Somali pirates in a court in Mombasa, Kenya, in January 2009
What we would all give to sleep on a pirate's mattress

Somalia continued to spill blood in its search for sanity, killing cabinet ministers at a graduation ceremony as the Islamists chased after heaven with the odd suicide bomb and a stoning or two of adulterers.

Pirates grabbed our attention too, and I wonder where they are investing their millions in this age of bankrupt banks.

Oh what we would all give to sleep on a pirate's mattress.

Meanwhile another country near the Horn of Africa seems to have been very careless with its citizens for it keeps losing them.

Yes, we are told, thousands of Eritreans continue to leave the country and to leak out of Isaias Afewerki's dubious realm, saying they are escaping tyranny.

It got so bad that the entire Eritrean national football team didn't board their return flight to Asmara following a football match in Nairobi.

As if that wasn't indictment enough on Mr Isaias's rule, the UN want to slap Eritrea with an arms embargo and targeted sanctions for supporting the Islamists in Mogadishu.

You see, said the giraffe, his enemy's enemy is his friend.

Meles Zenewi, Ethiopia's prime minister, talking on a mobile phone in Denmark
The climate change talks did not work out well for Africa or Ethiopia's leader

Mr Isaias's enemy is Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia, who, having fought the Islamists in Somalia, was last seen looking like a jazz trumpeter in the bitter cold of the climate talks in Copenhagen.

The talks to save the planet from outrageous emissions in the name of development proved frosty.

The Africans in Denmark were not happy with the Ethiopian prime minister, nor with the crumbs from the climate negotiating table.

Mr Meles had negotiated a sum of money to help Africa fight the effects of climate change.

We, they cried, will suffer the most from the rich countries' abuse of the planet and no drought and rising seas is worth a measly $10bn.

True sons of Africa

We veered from politics to pop too, as Africa joined the rest of the world in mourning the death of Michael Jackson and claimed him as a true son of Africa despite the apparent change in his pigmentation.

Celebrations in Kenya as Barack Obama was inaugurated as US president in January 2009
Barack Obama's inauguration was celebrated across the continent

And all year long we've been enthralled by the American election of a Kenyan grandson called Barack Obama, a man so mesmerising that even as he fights two wars, he had time to pick up the Nobel peace prize.

Our 2009 has been so full of twists and turns - great athletes like Usain Bolt and Caster Semenya were remembered for different reasons.

Our football stars dazzled premiere clubs all over the world in preparation for the first football World Cup to be held on African soil.

With the Angola hosting the Africa Cup of Nations this coming January, are we in danger of a little sport fatigue in 2010?

Not at all, said the giraffe, every maternity hospital in Africa will see 2010 babies with names like Fabio Capello, Didier Drogba, Michael Essien, Elephant, Super Eagle, Black Star and Why Not Bafana?

What else then, does the future hold? I asked the giraffe.

A giraffe reflected in a watering hole (left, BBC), former South Africa President Nelson Mandela (top right, AFP), red beret soldiers in Guinea (right middle, AFP), Somali pirates (bottom right, AFP)
A predictable look at the coming year for South Africa, Guinea and Somalia?

The more things change, she said, the more they will stay the same.

A soldier will run Guinea, a president will turn 86 in February; South Africa will have her World Cup tournament after all that construction and a little Madiba magic may return to bring their Bafana Bafana football team to the edge of the quarter finals at least.

I am told that in preparation for this unlikely event, all giraffes have been expelled from Ugandan territory

At least that, I say hopefully. What else?

The Somali pirates will continue to operate on the waters around the Horn.

I told the giraffe that what she was predicting was all too predictable - even for a great seer of the future such as herself.

Well, she declared, if you really want an exclusive it is this: After a couple of decades, it is possible that Uganda will have a gay president.

Now that really was a shock, and I am told that in preparation for this unlikely event, all giraffes have been expelled from Ugandan territory.

Compliments of the season - and may your 2010 be full of African victories.