Finance Minister suspends British branch as Zimbabweans in exile are accused
of 'bleeding movement dry'
By Alex Duval Smith in Harare and Archie Bland
Thursday, 31 December 2009
The overseas offices of Zimbabwe's opposition face a "huge" corruption
problem, with £57,000 missing from the British branch of the Movement for
Democratic Change alone, according to a senior official of the cash-strapped
In February the MDC joined an inclusive government with Robert Mugabe's
Zanu-PF, and is dependent on the activism and support of up to 4 million
Zimbabweans who have left the country in the past 10 years.
The MDC's treasurer-general, Roy Bennett, said yesterday that the British
branch - second only to the South African office of the party in
importance - had been suspended in the wake of what Mr Bennett describes as
a problem the party faced "everywhere".
Mr Bennett, 52, said that although a formal instruction had yet to be given,
all other overseas branches would be disbanded. He said that MDC branches
across the world faced rogue elements. "They are bleeding us," he said. "I
would hate to know the amount of money that has been raised by Zimbabweans
in exile purporting to represent the MDC. They have used the MDC name and
pocketed the money."
The UK and Ireland provincial executive has been suspended pending an
investigation into what the MDC Finance Minister, Tendai Biti, described as
"shocking" financial irregularities in a November letter announcing the
But UK-based MDC officials yesterday played down the claims, insisting that
any financial irregularities under its supervision were not the result of
corruption. "It's more to do with the way the money was remitted to Harare,"
said Jeff Sango, chairman of the MDC in the South-east of England. "The
people who were supposed to make the investigation should come here and do
that investigation. There is no evidence right now. It is only an
The MDC has about 800 active members in the UK. According to UK-based
officials, about 70 per cent of funds raised from members - including via
the sale of £70 membership cards - are sent back to Zimbabwe, with the rest
used to cover administrative costs. But the MDC in Harare says that the
British branch failed to submit adequate financial reports.
Mr Biti also noted "extensive bickering" in the UK and Ireland branches of
the party. His younger brother Stanford, a vehement critic of the British
party organisation, is alleged to have pelted members of the executive
committee with eggs.
The former opposition party is trying to convince highly educated
Zimbabweans abroad to return home. According to Zimbabwe's finance ministry,
the diaspora sent home £100m in remittances to relatives in 2009 - about the
same amount as the European Union gave in aid. But repeated calls by the
Prime Minister, the MDC's leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, for the return of
teachers, nurses, doctors and business people have met with reluctance, amid
scepticism over the progress of the inclusive government. Earlier this year,
Mr Tsvangirai was booed when he addressed hundreds of Zimbabweans at
Southwark Cathedral in London.
The MDC was established 10 years ago. In March 2008, it won a slim majority
in the parliamentary election, but Mr Mugabe, who has held power since 1980,
disputed the outcome of the presidential poll. Zanu-PF launched a campaign
of violence, and Mr Tsvangirai pulled out of the June 2008 presidential
run-off. Mr Tsvangirai became Prime Minister under an agreement brokered by
South Africa that has yet to be fully implemented.
Nevertheless, the economy has improved and supermarkets this Christmas were
well stocked with goods. Soon after the MDC entered government, Tendai Biti
halted inflation by abolishing the Zimbabwe dollar, previously printed at
will to fuel Mr Mugabe's patronage system. Now the South African rand and US
dollar are used.
A new round of negotiations is under way between Mr Tsvangirai's MDC,
another faction of the party, and Zanu-PF. Sticking points include key jobs
and Mr Mugabe's refusal to swear in Mr Bennett, a white farmer, as deputy
agriculture minister. But European diplomats said yesterday that the MDC has
begun lobbying them to lift some of the targeted sanctions against companies
close to Mr Mugabe's regime.
The MDC's surprise move is likely to be greeted by expatriates with
particular scepticism, as the removal of sanctions tops Mr Mugabe's agenda.
Some 40 companies and 172 individuals are barred from trading with and
travelling in the European Union.
Most European diplomats say their minimum requirements for the lifting of
sanctions would be progress on the drafting of a new constitution,
ultimately leading to free and fair elections.
Moves to advance the constitutional process top the MDC wishlist and an
election campaign will require funding. Mr Bennett said: "Raising that money
is going to be a priority. In all my time as treasurer, I have only ever
managed to mobilise 12 vehicles for party canvassing work. Zanu-PF has 12
vehicles in every district, at least."
He said accusations that the MDC is funded by the British Government are
unfair. "I have never seen a single penny from Britain to fight the
democratic struggle. Politics is about money, and we are down to relying on
a poverty-stricken people to try to replace a government that has taken full
control of everything."
The MDC is tight-lipped about its funding, which is believed to come largely
from members of the business community who do not wish to be identified
while Mr Mugabe is in power. European embassies admit only to providing the
MDC with trainers and bursaries for courses in subjects such as
The sum the MDC alleges has gone missing from its British branch.
December 30, 2009
By Owen Chikari
MASVINGO - Tourism and Hospitality Minister Walter Mzembi's survival in the
Cabinet hangs in the balance after war veterans and Zanu-PF supporters here
resolved to recall him because there are more senior Zanu-PF politicians in
the province to replace him.
Mzembi is the only Zanu-PF cabinet minister who was excluded from the party's
central committee during the party Congress held in Harare in December after
the Masvingo provincial executive dropped him for allegedly being the sole
supporter of the candidature of Vice President Joyce Mujuru while the rest
of the provincial executive supported former Manicaland governor Oppah
At a Zanu-PF meeting held here Tuesday, December 29, some war veterans and
Zanu-PF supporters proposed that Mzembi be recalled from cabinet "through
proper party procedures".
"We are going to recall him back because we feel he is too junior to be in
cabinet", said Ezera Muchiya a war veteran.
"There are several senior party cadres who deserve to be in cabinet more
than Mzembi. If as a party here we have decided to put other people in the
central committee ahead of him it shows that he is too junior."
The meeting which was hurriedly convened by some party supporters opposed to
Mzembi also resolved to whip into line all legislators who do not support
the Lovemore Matuke led Provincial executive.
"All party MPs from this province should know that they are from Masvingo
hence they should respect the resolutions of the provincial executive," read
the resolution in part.
The Masvingo Zanu-PF provincial executive clashed head on with Mzembi after
the legislator opposed the candidature of Muchinguri during the nomination
of candidates to be appointed into the presidium.
The Masvingo party provincial executive later rescinded its earlier decision
to endorse Muchinguri and replaced her with Mujuru after pressure was
exerted by the national leadership of the party.
Mzembi is also accused within Zanu-PF of accompanying MDC president Morgan
Tsvangirai to Europe early this year. Tsvangirai is Prime Minister in the
government of national unity.
War veterans and some Zanu-PF party supporters accuse Mzembi generally of
being a sellout and specifically an MDC-T supporter.
Mzembi has no kind words for those who are seeking to recall him.
"I was appointed by the President and after all if there is anyone who wants
to recall me he should come from Masvingo South where I was elected," he
"It is unfortunate that I am responding to this because some of those people
are misguided and have nothing to do besides walking on the street.
"Tsvangirayi is the Prime Minister of this country and no one should label
me an MDC-T supporter for accompanying him to Europe. I was on government
business and even the President knows that."
If Zanu-PF supporters here manage to recall the minister from cabinet it
will be the first action of its kind to take place in the country.
Zanu-PF Masvingo provincial chairman Matuke yesterday refused to comment on
"If people decide to recall someone from a high office then we know
democracy is prevailing in the country," was all he said.
By Tonderai Garisayi
Published: December 31, 2009
Eight farmers in Zimbabwe's Rusape area are now under a list of commercial
farmers targeted for violence, ZimEye has learnt.
".all hell is loose in Rusape they have kicked off 2 farmers AND already
(the) first guy, about 3 weeks ago." a farmer sent a message Wednesday at
Another farmer by the name of Ray Finaughty was violently forced off his
farm on Christmas day by a Reserve Bank female official who made first
verbal threats before forcing the farmer off his land within 3 hours. The
farmer had for years assisted the Rusape peasant community giving them free
fertilizer and professional services at no cost. The source revealed that
Finaughty was targeted because of his political beliefs.
At the time of writing, the police had not acted against the illegal
removal. In Zimbabwe, a High Court order is required to permit a removal and
in such cases, reasonable ample time is given to allow for the farmer to
leave in an orderly and respectable way. However, Finaughty was told to
leave within 10 minutes.
Countrywide, a total 152 are now under imminent threat of losing their
properties to politicians belonging to President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF
party. The attackers have also included high profile civil servants who are
members of ZANU PF.
The state-run Herald newspaper reported that Industry Minister Welshman
Ncube said international media pressured Nestlé to terminate a supplier
relationship with a dairy company controlled by the family of President
Patience Rusere & Sandra Nyaira | Washington 30 December 2009
A South African activist group has taken aim at Industry Minister Welshman
Ncube for reportedly blaming the decision by multinational food maker Nestlé
to suspend operations in Zimbabwe on the international media.
The state-controlled Herald newspaper on Tuesday reported that Ncube said
South African, British and U.S. media had campaigned to pressure Nestlé to
terminate a supplier relationship between its Harare processing unit and a
dairy company controlled by President Robert Mugabe's family. Gushungo Dairy
Estate is controlled by Grace Mugabe, the president's wife.
People Against Suffering, Suppression, Oppression and Poverty, or Passop,
said Nestlé has the right to choose the companies with which it does
business. The company terminated the relationship with Gushungo in October
after coming under fire from human rights activists in South Africa and
That drew a backlash from ministers of Mr. Mugabe's ZANU-PF party who tried
to force Nestle to buy milk from Gushungo, leading Nestlé last week to
announce that it was suspending operations in the country. Ncube said late
last week that a solution had been reached for Nestlé to purchase Gushungo
milk through a cooperative, but Nestlé said it had not reached a decision as
to resuming operations and was "examining conditions" in Zimbabwe.
VOA was unable to reach Ncube on Tuesday or Wednesday to confirm his
reported comments and seek a response to Passop's criticism.
Ncube is the secretary general of the Movement for Democratic Change wing
headed by Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara.
Passop Chairman Braam Hanekom told VOA Studio 7 reporter Patience Rusere
that boycotting goods of companies doing business with ZANU-PF is the most
effective way to promote democratic change in Zimbabwe.
The government meanwhile said it will hold a second international investment
conference in February hoping to attract scarce capital to the country.
Finance Minister Tendai Biti said the so-called Friends of Zimbabwe Summit,
as the event is being described, falls under Harare's effort to step up
re-engagement with the international community.
Biti said the unity government involving Mr. Mugabe's ZANU-PF and the MDC
formations led by Mutambara and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai is seeking
partnerships, in particular to rebuild or expand the country's worn-out
infrastructure, notably water and sewage systems and roadways. The electric
power grid is also in need of a major overhaul and modernization.
Economist Prosper Chitambara of the Labor and Economic Research Institute
told VOA Studio 7 reporter Sandra Nyaira that the February conference, like
one held in October, may not yield much in the way of investment as the
government has yet to win the confidence of global investors.
The MDC year-end statement said the party was disheartened that victims of
political violence and other crimes committed during the 2008 elections have
not yet been compensated
Jonga Kandemiiri | Washington 30 December 2009
Zimbabwe's Movement for Democratic Change formation headed by Prime Minister
Morgan Tsvangirai issued a year-end statement Wednesday saying it hoped all
the so-called outstanding issues troubling its power-sharing with the
ZANU-PF party of President Robert Mugabe could be resolved in the opening
days of 2010 - but a ZANU-PF response was not encouraging.
The MDC statement said the party was disheartened that victims of political
violence and other crimes committed during the 2008 elections, which gave
the Tsvangirai MDC formation and a rival grouping led by Deputy Prime
Minister Arthur Mutambara a parliamentary majority, had not been
compensated. The statement said such compensation should be addressed in
The former opposition party said it will focus on the proposed
constitutional revision in 2010 to make sure the new basic document is
MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa said his party also wants to work hard to weed
out corruption in local authorities as well as the central government.
Responding, ZANU-PF Deputy Spokesman Ephraim Masawi said that as far as the
former ruling party is concerned there are no remaining outstanding issues
other than Western targeted sanctions, which he said the MDC must work to
have lifted. Masawi said the question of replacing Reserve Bank Governor
Gideon Gono and Attorney General Johannes Tomana, as demanded by the
Tsvangirai MDC, is not on the table.
A gang of six armed robbers hit a Stanbic Bank branch in Chegutu, outside
Harare, on Tuesday, making offf with $US,266000, 150,000 South Africa rand
and 34,000 Botswana pula in cash
Ntungamili Nkomo | Washington 30 December 2009
Zimbabwe police say the festive season has been marred by armed robberies
across the country, the latest being a heist at a Stanbic Bank branch
Tuesday in Chegutu, a satellite town outside Harare, the capital, where
gunmen made off with hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of hard
Officials said the six robbers took $US266, 000, 150,000 South Africa rand
and some 34,000 Botswana pula for an equivalent total of about $US285,000.
They said on Wednesday that the perpetrators remained at large.
Co-Minister of Home Affairs Giles Mutsekwa of the Movement for Democratic
Change formation of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai told VOA that armed
robberies have surged since the holiday season began.
He said police have mobilized in search of the gang of six men which looted
the Chegutu bank, whose manager sustained a gunshot wound. Mutsekwa said the
mixed hard currency monetary regimen adopted by the government early this
year has helped to encourage such stepped-up criminal activity.
The Matebeleland region in the west of the country has been one of the
hardest hit. Police sources said gunmen hit a supermarket and a nightclub in
Gwanda last week, making off with hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash.
Mutsekwa told VOA Studio 7 reporter Ntungamili Nkomo that the police will
crack down hard on crime, but the Home Affairs minister warned banks and
businesses to take steps themselves to bolster their internal security.
"There has been a surge recently in robberies, where banks and individual
businesses have been targetted," he said. "Police are out in full force ...
but businesses should also be careful in handling their own cash."
Though bank robberies are not as common in Zimbabwe as in neighboring South
Africa, their frequency has increased in recent years. A Kingdom Bank branch
in Harare lost US$200,000 to gunmen in February, though the bank robbers
were later apprehended by the authorities.
Another armed gang stormed a Barclays Bank branch in Bulawayo in July and
seized more than US$100,000.
December 31, 2009 Edition 1
Stanley Gama Foreign Service
HARARE: Police in Zimbabwe have launched a massive manhunt for four South
Africans believed to be behind a bank robbery 100km from Harare in which
about R2 million was stolen on Tuesday.
Six heavily armed men stormed a Stanbic Bank, in the farming town of Chegutu
and shot and injured the branch manager. They then forced him to open the
bank's vault, stole over US$270 000 (about R2m). and sped away towards
Harare in two vehicles.
But the "mastermind" of the robbery, a Zimbabwean, who is, ironically, a
branch manager of a rival bank, made one dumb mistake.
He used his own car in the robbery and was traced through its number plates.
He was arrested by a crack team of detectives from the country's Criminal
Investigations Department (CID) Homicide section. That led to the arrest of
a second Zimbabwean involved in the robbery and put police on the trail of
the four South Africans.
They are believed to have immediately boarded buses to South Africa with
their share of the loot. Only about R444 000 is believed to have been
recovered from the Zimbabweans.
Police said the mastermind of the robbery had revealed that he hired the
four South Africans. They added that all police stations up to Beitbridge
had been alerted but so far the South Africans not been caught. Police in
Zimbabwe have yet to explain how the robbers went through at least three
police checkpoints on their way to Harare after the robbery.
Thursday, December 31, 2009
POLICE have arrested two suspects believed to be part of the six-man armed
gang that raided Stanbic Bank's Chegutu branch on Tuesday morning.
The gang made off with US$266 000, R150 000 and 34 690 pula in a heist in
which the bank's assistant manager was shot and injured.
Deputy chief police spokesperson Chief Superintendent Oliver Mandipaka
yesterday confirmed the arrest of two members of the gang on Tuesday night
The arrest comes amid calls by Bankers' Association of Zimbabwe president Mr
John Mangudya to its members to tighten security in order to secure
depositors' hard-earned money.
An undisclosed amount of money believed to be part of the cash stolen from
the bank and one of the getaway cars has been recovered.
"Barely a few hours after the robbery, detectives have successfully pursued
the case with limited and constrained resources leading to the arrest of two
suspects last night (Tuesday)," said Chief Supt Mandipaka.
He said soon after the robbery, detectives launched a manhunt for the
Chief Supt Mandipaka said the owner of the recovered vehicle had since been
identified as investigations continue.
Preliminary investigations had established that the vehicle had been stolen
for purposes of committing the offence.
"At the moment, we cannot disclose the amount of money recovered and the
type of vehicle as investigations are still continuing," said Chief Supt
He said the net would soon close in on the other suspects still on the run.
"Full-scale investigations are in progress and just like our 2010 theme, it
is in the spirit of the police that we will strive to ensure that our
citizens and visitors are protected, secure and safe," he said.
The police's theme for 2010 is "Your safety and security is our concern".
The gang, which used two get away cars - an Isuzu KB twin-cab truck and a
Peugeot 406 - also looted cash, cellphones and other valuables from clients
in the banking hall.
BAZ president Mr Mangudya yesterday stressed the need to secure depositors'
hard-earned cash from such criminals.
"All that is required is to ensure that the public work well with the police
to ensure that the criminals are brought to book. We also need the law
enforcement agencies to ensure that we do not lose depositors' hard-earned
money," he said.
"We are encouraging banks to improve on our security. It is their
responsibility to secure depositors' hard-earned deposits," Mr Mangudya
A number of banks have fallen victim to armed robbers this year among them
Barclays and Kingdom.
Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri is on record as urging
financial institutions to intensify their security to thwart and reduce
cases of armed robbery.
In May this year, he urged business and the banking sector to install
adequate security at their premises.
"Armed robberies are quite rife especially these days. I feel that the
business community should do more in terms of security.
"They should try by all means to ensure that their premises are quite secure
. . . We want robbers to fail especially in the banks," he said then.
He made the comments after a five-man armed gang hit Kingdom Bank's
Graniteside branch in Harare.
Sokwanele is pleased to announce that we have launched a
constitution resource on our website. We hope that this online information
system will provide users in Zimbabwe and in the diaspora with an simple way to
familiarise themselves with the details of the current constitution, and with
forthcoming drafts towards a proposed future constitution. Zimbabwe's new constitution, when it is finally enacted into law, will shape
all of our futures, define our fundamental human rights, provide limits on
political powers, outline rules shaping the police, defence forces, prisons and
public services ... and more. The constitution-making process encompasses all Zimbabweans. We encourage all
Zimbabweans, no matter where they are in the wo rld, to take part in the
critical task of interrogating and thinking about the laws that will define all
of our futures and establish the rights of Zimbabweans everywhere. Zimbabweans will be asked to vote on a new draft constitution when it is
finally ready. The public outreach programme, intended to gather the views of
the people, is scheduled to start early in the new year. The outreach timeframe
below comes via a recent Veritas mailing: We all have a right to add our voices to this process, and we have a right to
reject any document that fails to live up to our expectations. So it is
important that Zimbabweans are informed about what the documents and drafts say,
and that we all think carefully about the rights and standards we want enshrined
in our future constitutional law. Sokwanele's online constitution resource aims to help Zimbabweans become more
informed, and it offers a platform for comment and debate as well. The tool
currently draws information from three key documents: the Constitution of
Zimbabwe (at 13th Feb, 2009), Amendment 19, and the Kariba Draf! t Constitution.
This is just the start: the information system will be developed to include more
voices, more drafts proposing future changes, and a wider selection of thoughts
on the constitution as we go forwards. We hope that the comments system will
gather the views of Zimbabweans everywhere and help to develop a rich source of
information and insightful opinion. The resource provides audiences with a variety of ways to explore critical
documents. We have simplified the process of accessing information from long
legal documents by breaking the nitty-gritty detail into maneagable relevant
chunks. Visitors to our site can explore the content of these documents by
filtering through clearly defined sections, or by finding areas of interest
flagged by 'key phrases', or by using a special predictive search tool. The system enables users to compare and contrast the different approaches to
constitutional law - as they appear in different texts - by filtering on and
displaying entries on related topics right next to each other on the sc! reen.
In other words, users can easily and quickly see exactly how the Kariba Draft
Constitution differs from the current Constitution of Zimbabwe (for example) on
a section by section basis. We invite people to give an anonymous personal 'approval rating' to sections
of the law by awarding stars to entries (1 star reflects a damning public
approval rating of "rubbish", while 5 stars is a high scoring "excellent"). The
final average score for each entry will give an approval rating for the way the
law has been dealt with in each document. Our online system has a section that
highlights which entries have the highest ratings and it also flags those that
score low in our audiences opinion. Visit www.sokwanele.com/zimbabweconstitution
to explore the constitutional law as it currently is today, and to see what the
Kariba Draft Constitution has to say about the shape of our future. Be informed
of both the st! rengths and weaknesses accross different texts; look carefully
at the detail and consider the implications that detail has for all of us as we
go forward; think about what's missing and what you would like to be
included. Be involved and be aware. Get ready to discuss and debate. Above all, prepare
to vote in the referendum from an informed perspective.
Sokwanele : 30 December 2009
Sokwanele is pleased to announce that we have launched a constitution resource on our website. We hope that this online information system will provide users in Zimbabwe and in the diaspora with an simple way to familiarise themselves with the details of the current constitution, and with forthcoming drafts towards a proposed future constitution.
Zimbabwe's new constitution, when it is finally enacted into law, will shape all of our futures, define our fundamental human rights, provide limits on political powers, outline rules shaping the police, defence forces, prisons and public services ... and more. The constitution-making process encompasses all Zimbabweans. We encourage all Zimbabweans, no matter where they are in the wo rld, to take part in the critical task of interrogating and thinking about the laws that will define all of our futures and establish the rights of Zimbabweans everywhere.
Zimbabweans will be asked to vote on a new draft constitution when it is finally ready. The public outreach programme, intended to gather the views of the people, is scheduled to start early in the new year. The outreach timeframe below comes via a recent Veritas mailing:
We all have a right to add our voices to this process, and we have a right to reject any document that fails to live up to our expectations. So it is important that Zimbabweans are informed about what the documents and drafts say, and that we all think carefully about the rights and standards we want enshrined in our future constitutional law.
Sokwanele's online constitution resource aims to help Zimbabweans become more informed, and it offers a platform for comment and debate as well. The tool currently draws information from three key documents: the Constitution of Zimbabwe (at 13th Feb, 2009), Amendment 19, and the Kariba Draf! t Constitution. This is just the start: the information system will be developed to include more voices, more drafts proposing future changes, and a wider selection of thoughts on the constitution as we go forwards. We hope that the comments system will gather the views of Zimbabweans everywhere and help to develop a rich source of information and insightful opinion.
The resource provides audiences with a variety of ways to explore critical documents. We have simplified the process of accessing information from long legal documents by breaking the nitty-gritty detail into maneagable relevant chunks. Visitors to our site can explore the content of these documents by filtering through clearly defined sections, or by finding areas of interest flagged by 'key phrases', or by using a special predictive search tool.
The system enables users to compare and contrast the different approaches to constitutional law - as they appear in different texts - by filtering on and displaying entries on related topics right next to each other on the sc! reen. In other words, users can easily and quickly see exactly how the Kariba Draft Constitution differs from the current Constitution of Zimbabwe (for example) on a section by section basis.
We invite people to give an anonymous personal 'approval rating' to sections of the law by awarding stars to entries (1 star reflects a damning public approval rating of "rubbish", while 5 stars is a high scoring "excellent"). The final average score for each entry will give an approval rating for the way the law has been dealt with in each document. Our online system has a section that highlights which entries have the highest ratings and it also flags those that score low in our audiences opinion.
Visit www.sokwanele.com/zimbabweconstitution to explore the constitutional law as it currently is today, and to see what the Kariba Draft Constitution has to say about the shape of our future. Be informed of both the st! rengths and weaknesses accross different texts; look carefully at the detail and consider the implications that detail has for all of us as we go forward; think about what's missing and what you would like to be included.
Be involved and be aware. Get ready to discuss and debate. Above all, prepare to vote in the referendum from an informed perspective.
Comment from Foreign Policy (US), 24 December
Why the U.N.-sanctioned system that's supposed to ensure that gemstones
aren't mined at gunpoint is backfiring
By Greg Campbell
It's a safe bet that most of those surprised with diamond jewellery over the
holidays did not pause long, if at all, to consider where their new
gemstones came from. "Santa's elves" is a good enough answer for most
people, and even those who are aware that some diamonds have been known to
come from African war zones may not have given the matter much thought this
year. "Conflict diamonds," also known as "blood diamonds," are rough stones
mined at gunpoint by slaves and prisoners for the enrichment of those
holding the weapons. They were a cause celebre at the beginning of the
decade, when human rights groups exposed the role of diamonds in conflicts
in Sierra Leone and Angola, but in recent years the issue has largely fallen
off the radar of socially conscious western consumers. That's not because
the situation has improved.
The sordid business of blood diamonds was believed to have ended with the
adoption in 2003 of the Kimberley Process, a UN-sanctioned agreement between
75 countries that import and export diamonds, diamond industry leaders and
nongovernmental organizations. Its mission is to certify that diamonds on
sale at the corner jeweler did not arrive there at the expense of murdered
and mutilated Africans. When controversy was stoked anew in 2006 with the
Leonardo DiCaprio movie Blood Diamond, the industry simply pointed to the
existence of the Kimberley Process to convince moviegoers that conflict
diamonds were an old problem that had already been solved.
Unfortunately, that's not the case. In theory, all countries that are
signatory to the Kimberley Process agree not to import or export conflict
diamonds; the origins of the diamonds are "verified" through a set of
simple-sounding procedures. Producing countries export their diamonds in
tamper-proof packages accompanied by a certificate guaranteeing that the
stones did not come from conflict zones (this assumes that robust internal
controls exist in producing countries). The Kimberley Process monitors
compliance through peer reviews, statistical analysis and site visits;
countries found to be in violation of the agreement can be expelled or
suspended, meaning they can no longer export their diamonds to any of the
agreement's member countries.
The reality is different. According to recent reports by NGOs, including
Global Witness, Partnership Africa Canada and Human Rights Watch, blood
diamonds are still circulating freely and smuggling remains rampant. Some of
the worst countries in the diamond business, such as Sierra Leone, Angola
and the Democratic Republic of Congo, can't account for where as many as 50
percent of the diamonds they export originate, making their status as clean
gems highly questionable. Meanwhile, Cote d'Ivoire, the only country
considered to be the source of "official" conflict diamonds due to rebel
control of its northern diamond mines, has expanded its production since it
was placed under UN sanction in 2004, meaning the rebels are finding willing
markets for them somewhere.
Not only does the Kimberley Process in its present form seem powerless to
stop conflict diamonds, but its policies may even be encouraging the illegal
trade to flourish. "A lot of governments have been happy to use the
Kimberley Process as a fig leaf of respectability, so they can say, 'OK,
look we're doing something,'" says Elly Harrowell of Global Witness, one of
the NGOs that first raised the issue of conflict diamonds a decade ago. "A
lot of people, especially in the public, seem to think it's case closed."
Zimbabwe provides the perfect illustration of the problem the Kimberley
Process was created to address, as well as the difficulties in fulfilling
that mandate. Since 2006, when diamonds were discovered in Zimbabwe's
eastern Marange fields, the country's police and military have engaged in
systematic human rights abuses for their personal enrichment. According to
an investigation earlier this year by Human Rights Watch, rotating garrisons
of soldiers order civilians to dig diamonds at gunpoint. Miners are beaten,
women are raped, and children are forced into labor. To secure the diamond
fields and clear them of unlicensed independent diggers (who, according to
the report, were initially encouraged by President Robert Mugabe's
government to help themselves to the stones), the military conducted a
scorched earth operation that resulted in the deaths of hundreds of
civilians. The diamonds are smuggled into neighboring Mozambique and onward
to other countries where they can be exported under the cover of a Kimberley
Process certificate, meaning they are then perfectly clean in the eyes of
Both Human Rights Watch and a Kimberley Process investigative team that
visited Zimbabwe in July considered the situation a clear violation of the
agreement. Both recommended the country be suspended. Instead, it was given
a grace period to clean up its act. Rather than addressing a serious
problem, this response from Kimberley Process administrators laid bare the
system's weaknesses. Primary among them is a lack of political will to
punish a country that condones violence and smuggling within its diamond
industry. Such a failure is not only a massive blow to its credibility, but
puts the entire process in jeopardy. If there are no consequences to
violating the Kimberley Process, what incentives do other nations have to
Nicky Oppenheimer, the chairman of De Beers, the world's largest diamond
company, wrote diplomatically in a Bloomberg op-ed last week that he would
have preferred more "decisive action" on Zimbabwe from the Kimberley
Process: "Providing confidence about where these special symbols that mark
moments in our lives come from, is integral to their enduring value." Even
former supporters of the Kimberley Process have become critics. "The whole
point of the Kimberley Process was to make sure that diamonds were clean,
that they're not hurting people," says Ian Smillie, the former director of
the NGO Partnership Africa Canada, which is credited as one of the driving
forces behind the establishment of the Kimberley Process. "When you see
serious human rights abuses taking place in diamond fields then surely it's
a no-brainer [that something is wrong]."
Despite the criticism, there is widespread agreement that Kimberley can -
and must - be fixed. NGOs are calling for the inclusion of a human rights
provision to address problems like those in Zimbabwe. They want to do away
with the consensus decision-making process in which it's possible for a
single vote to veto important changes. And they've suggested the creation of
a secretariat to provide independent oversight of reports and statistical
analysis. All eyes are on the incoming Kimberley Process chairman from
Israel to tackle these challenges. Meanwhile, other groups, including Human
Rights Watch, are focusing on the one group that has so far been capable of
spurring change: consumers. Last month the organization called for a boycott
of Zimbabwean diamonds. It was the threat of a boycott that inspired
Kimberley's creation in the first place, and such threats still strike fear
into the heart of the diamond industry.
As Jon Elliott, Human Rights Watch's Africa advocacy director, explains:
"We're not naÃ¯ve enough to think we're going to solve the problem overnight
but we do think that unless there is pressure from consumers through the
industry supply channels, we're not going to make significant progress. For
his part, Smillie seem less hopeful. He resigned from the Kimberley Process
in May in frustration over what he called the system's "collective
impotence." In his letter of resignation, he wrote: "There is a basic truth:
when regulators fail to regulate, the systems they were designed to protect
collapse ... In this case, the diamond industry, which means so much to so
many, is being ill served by what has become a complacent and almost
completely ineffectual Kimberley Process." Until changes are made, holiday
by Gilbert Bere
“I do not like heroes; they make too much noise in the world” acknowledges
one street vendor.
Almost three years after the Anglo-Ndebele war of 1893, the Zimbabwean
people rose again to fight the white settlers in 1896.
The causes of the Shona and Ndebele wars of liberation were many and varied
but language was one of them, especially on the part of the Ndebele who
objected to the deployment of Shona-speaking police officers in
Understandably the language issue was a crucial cause on the part of the
Ndebele but unfortunately the white-settlers either, did get it, or chose to
play it down.
The people of Matebeleland’s objection of Shona-speaking police officers in
the region was based on a founded principle as pointed by Weedon who sums
thus: “Language is the place whose actual and possible forms of social
organisation and their likely social and political consequences are defined
As such, the Ndebele people understood that language is the vehicle for
socialisation and that, through it, the individual becomes self-aware and
learns the culture of his/her society.
For the next 90 years of colonial rule language was used to divide the
people of Zimbabwe.
Colonial education did not try to bring social cohesion by teaching Ndebele
and Shona at national rather than regional level.
Thus socialisation between the major two tribes in Zimbabwe was only limited
to quite rudimental level, leaving the English language to play the unifying
It is sad for me to always turn to the English language whenever I want to
speak to my kith-and-kin from Matebeleland.
Ironically, I am not a product of the settler regime but of President Robert
Mugabe’s post-independence government.
If only the regime in Harare had demonstrated leadership on this pivotal
issue, a new Zimbabwe could have been created with a united populace as
opposed to the current situation where everything has to be seen within a
Shona and Ndebele perspective.
This is why I take great exception to President Mugabe and his Zanu PF
lieutenants. Thirty years after independence, the Government has done very
little to bring the country’s main ethnic tribes (the Shona and the Ndebele)
In fact the two main indigenous languages are still being taught on a
tribal/regional basis and no-one in Zanu PF has realised how divided the
people of Zimbabwe remain; nor do they understand how language can actually
bring us closer together as Zimbabweans.
December 30, 2009
By Takarinda Gomo
AS the curtain falls on the year 2009, and people, the world over, embrace
2010, Zimbabwe had its fair share of trials and tribulations.
At the end of 2009, a damning Report chronicling an orgy of violence and
rape perpetrated on a large scale and targeting MDC-T supporters has been
published by an Aids lobby group called Aids Free World.
Entitled "Election to Rape", the report makes sad reading. It provides a
rendition of testimonies by 70 survivors of a campaign of rape perpetrated
by youth militia and war veterans working exclusively for Zanu-PF for a
period of five months in 2008.
Women affiliated to MDC were abducted, beaten and gang-raped. They were also
told exactly why it was happening to them, the report says, adding "These
were not random acts of rape and violence."
Rape qualifies under "Crimes against Humanity" when committed as part of a
The report acknowledges that Zimbabwean authorities were unlikely to do
anything about the rapes, and further criticizes South Africa for failing to
reign in President Robert Mugabe.
South Africa is the only country in the southern African region that is a
signatory to the United Nations War Crimes Court Treaty and passed
"universal jurisdiction" laws that permit prosecution of war crimes
Numerous other findings by local and international Non-Governmental
Organizations (NGO's) bear testimony to these crimes. The perpetrators are
basking in the succor of Zanu-PF. However, as true as the sun will rise
tomorrow, the following historical narrative will show that the long arm of
the law will certainly catch up with them.
The same invincibility, bravado and impunity exhibited by Nazi leaders,
during the holocaust of the Second World War are being witnessed in
Adolf Hitler, the German Chancellor, better known as the "Fuhrer" together
with his top Nazi lieutenants, never dreamt that their power would come to
History seems to be repeating itself as Zanu-PF in general, and President
Robert Mugabe in particular, actually believe they will rule forever.
Perhaps it is high time to remind perpetrators of these heinous crimes of
murder, mayhem and gang-rapes of what happened to Nazi war criminals that
committed Crimes against Humanity during the Holocaust and were brought
before the International Military Tribunal (IMT).
Soon after the end of the Second World War (1939 - 1945), on August 8, 1945,
Britain, USA, Russia and the provisional government of France entered into
an agreement establishing the IMT, to put on trial Nazi war criminals.
The Tribunal was invested with powers to try and punish persons who had
committed Crimes against Humanity; War Crimes; and Crimes against Peace.
The indictment charged defendants with Crimes against Peace by planning,
initiating and waging of Wars of Aggression, which were in violation of
international treaty agreements and assurances.
Thus the judgements passed by the Nuremberg Tribunal introduced into
international law, and into practical life, a new and extremely grave
criminal act - Crimes against Humanity.
The principles adopted at the Nuremberg Trial, later became the cornerstone
of further development of international law, as the youngest law discipline.
The Nazi leaders who went on trial at Nuremberg had carried out orders from
Adolf Hitler, who exercised a strong domination on close associates, partly
because of his persuasive, if not hypnotic powers, and partly by reason of
Hitler's amiability in high office.
No saint or statesman lost his life or freedom at Nuremberg. All the men who
went to prison, or mounted the gallows, were willing, knowing and energetic
accomplices, in a vast malignant enterprise. They were all there for valid
moral and technically perfect legal reasons.
Punishment is said to be effective if, and when, the one being punished
accepts that indeed he/she has done something wrong, and expresses remorse.
In the case of Nuremberg, the 21Nazi tried had their own perceptions varying
from acceptance and repentance, to total defiance and hostility.
Albert Speer, who was the Reich Minister of Munitions and Armaments, served
20 years without remission. He walked out of Spandau Prison, Berlin at one
minute past midnight on a Friday, 30 September 1966.
Speer confided to his lawyer:
"About the Jews, my conscience is troubled, deeply troubled. This is a
burden for which nothing can ever free me. I was not a hater of the Jews.
But when I joined the party, it means, of cause, that I was in fact,
subscribing to Hitler's anti-Semitic ideas. I have deep feelings of guilt
because of what was done, although I was not personally involved in the
extermination, nor did I know of them. But, after all, I was part of the
leadership.. I ought to have known, to have made it my business to find
out." (Albert Speer - Victim of Nuremberg by William Hamsher 1970 p274)
On the eve of the Nuremberg executions, the ever-cunning Herman Goring,
founder of Gestapo, escaped justice by committing suicide. He left a defiant
suicidal note for the Allied Control Council:
"I would have no objection to being shot. However, I will not facilitate
execution of Germany's Reichmarshall by hanging. For the sake of Germany, I
cannot permit this. Moreover, I feel no moral obligation to submit to my
enemies' punishment. For this reason, I have chosen to die like the Great
Hannibal." (Balwin Aleck 1994)
Equally defiant was Field Marshal Keitel who was sentenced to death.
Mounting the gallows, his famous last words were:
"More than two million soldiers went to their death for the fatherland
before me. I now join my sons."
But Joachim von Ribbentrop, Reich Foreign Minister was more remorseful and
these are his last words:
"My last wish is that German realizes its destiny and that an understanding
be reached between East and West. I wish peace to the world."
Fritz Sauchel, Hitler's Plenipotentiary for Labour Mobilization who also
mounted the gallows, only thought of himself right to the very end. These
were his last words:
"I am dying an innocent man."
Hitler himself, his chief propagandist Dr Joseph Goebbels and Heinrich
Himmler all escaped justice by committing suicide. According to Albert
Speer, in the end, Adolf Hitler was certainly mad, because he did not want
Germany to survive defeat. Hitler wanted to destroy Germany's basis of life.
Those sentenced to death at Nuremberg were executed in the early hours of 16
October 1946 in the old gymnasium of Nuremberg. Their bodies were
subsequently cremated in Munich and ashes thrown into an estuary of the Tsar
Those sentenced to imprisonment were transferred to Spandau Prison in
Berlin. The last of the prisoners, Rudolf Hess committed suicide in August
That justice was served at Nuremberg is beyond doubt, although there can be
valid arguments pertaining to the severity of the sentences.
In fact, Nuremberg has become the genesis of a totally new legal order that
no longer permits gross violations of human rights.
Nuremberg has sent signals to rogue leaders who abuse their citizens with
In Zimbabwe Gukurahundi (the Storm), Murambatsvina (clearing the trash), the
rape cases against mainstream MDC women and the murder of over 200 MDC
supporters in the election violence of 2008, are all Crimes against
The perpetrators should know that, one way or the other, they have to face
The ghost of Nuremberg is coming to Zimbabwe.