December 05 2009 at 09:48PM
Chirundu, Zambia - Zambian president Rupiah Banda and Zimbabwean counterpart
Robert Mugabe inaugurated a "one-stop" border post near Lake Kariba Saturday
to enhance trade between the countries.
Presidents Robert Mugabe and Rupiah Banda cut ribbons on both sides of the
border, watched by diplomats, aid officials and local dignitaries.
"This will reduce the cost of business by reducing the time one spends at
the border," Banda said.
By reducing the crossing time for trucks from three days to three hours, the
Chirundu border post will save about a year in man-hours every day at what
is the busiest transit post in the region. It deals with 270 trucks every 24
December 6, 2009
RW Johnson in Cape Town
Zimbabwe's finance minister, Tendai Biti, divided the population into three
distinct groups when he introduced his budget last week: the 2% who are well
off; 13% who are "the floating or dog-paddling middle class"; and 85% who
are "the submerged and drowning".
But Biti, who belongs to the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), which
joined a coalition government in February, was able to predict that economic
growth this year would reach 4.7% and next year he hoped for 7%. Inflation,
which was running madly out of control at more than 2m%, is now under 3%.
This rebound is attributed to the power-sharing agreement between President
Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF and Morgan Tsvangirai's MDC, which has given at
least some hope of a democratic future.
The Zimbabwean economist John Robertson said: "The MDC's entry to government
has been crucial. It persuaded Britain, the EU and the IMF to help with aid.
Over a third of government expenditure next year will be funded by donor
However, Mugabe has refused to observe the terms of the coalition agreement
that would allow the MDC to help choose a central bank governor to replace
Gideon Gono, a Mugabe henchman who has called for a return of the
Zim-dollar, the country's discredited currency. Such a move would result in
aid being cut off again.
Gono simply printed Zimbabwean dollars whenever the government needed money,
resulting in hyper-inflation. Ultimately, the Zim-dollar was abandoned and
sterling, the US dollar, South African rand and Botswana pula were all
declared acceptable currencies.
While some foreign currency flows in from Zimbabweans working abroad, the
vast mass of the poor have no access to it and live in a barter economy. A
villager wanting a bus ride to Harare, for example, will pay his fare with a
It is little comfort to such people to know there is again food in the shops
when they cannot buy it. Smuggling remains a big source of profit for some
and efforts to revive the agricultural industry are hampered by a shortage
of seeds and fertiliser.
December 6, 2009
April 15, 1984: Peter Godwin finds evidence of brutality as troops lay siege
The heavily armed soldiers at the roadblock, five miles south of the city of
Bulawayo, seemed unsure. They checked my identification thoroughly and after
a brief discussion waved me through - the first journalist to enter southern
Matabeleland after nine weeks of strict curfew.
I talked to dozens of residents about their experiences at the hands of
Zimbabwe's armed forces. It quickly became clear that the siege of
Matabeleland was imposed with great brutality. What I observed with my own
eyes reinforced their testimony.
Last week I followed the first buses and goods trucks in. At each village
their arrival was greeted with jubilation, though when the maize lorries
arrived, many people were crestfallen at being unable to pay for the
provisions. A drought, which has lasted three years - with only the odd
shower - has left them penniless.
Near the town of Kezi, I watched as villagers drove their emaciated cattle
to a sale to raise money for the food now starting to appear in the shops.
It goes against these people's tradition to sell their cattle - symbols of
wealth and status. An old man herded his nine cows along the road and told
me: "The grass should be almost waist-high at this time of year, but as you
can see here there is only sand. The maize crop has failed again. I need the
money to buy food. So the cows must go."
As we drove over dry riverbeds, my guide blamed the government for the
failure of the rains. His resentment is shared by many. The behaviour of the
army, particularly the Fifth Brigade, has permanently damaged these people's
attitude to the ruling Zanu-PF party of Robert Mugabe, in whose name the
soldiers say they act.
To try to document this behaviour is a painstaking task. Most people are
still too frightened to talk openly, but some are past caring.
Bongali Dube, a thin young man I met by chance at a village store, took me
five miles up a rough track into the hills above the thatched huts that are
his home. On the hill, between two rocks, he pointed to some charred bones.
They were all that remained of his father.
"The soldiers gathered all the people of the area together for a compulsory
rally," he said in a quiet monotone. "They made us shout government slogans
and they beat many people with rifle butts, screaming at us the whole time
'Where are the dissidents?'
"Then they selected three men at random, including my father, and took them
behind the hill. We heard three shots and the soldiers returned alone. They
wanted us not to report the matter or collect the bodies. They were left
there for weeks and their rotting remains were eaten by dogs." Bongali
placed some stones over his father's bones and we left.
In my two days in southern Matabeleland, accounts of such incidents crowded
in on me. In one case six victims were ordered to dig a pit latrine that
then became their grave.
Another incident occurred on the morning I arrived. I had stopped at a small
store and got into a conversation with a man who had with him three young
girls who were tearful and dishevelled. Just a few hours earlier soldiers
had raped them at gunpoint.
It was not until I penetrated further into the curfew area that the enormity
of what has happened in the past nine weeks sank in.
Antelope Mine is a mere 500 yards from the main road between Kezi and the
village of Antelope. To reach it you turn through a farm gate. The workings
belong to Attica Mines, which is owned by the giant multinational Lonrho.
They are disused because the gold seam has run out.
I came to an old shaft. Its opening was about three yards by five yards and
it plunged vertically, the yellowing sheer rock disappearing into the
Every night for "many weeks", I was told by local people, army trucks were
seen driving to and from this shaft. Bodies were unloaded and thrown down
the rectangular hole. Sometimes, the locals said, the corpses would snag on
supporting iron girders across the shaft's interior.
On some nights the trucks made only one trip, on others, several.
I leant over the open shaft and peered into the darkness. It was too far to
the bottom for me to see anything. But the stench hit me like a
Up to 20,000 were killed in Matabeleland between 1983 and 1987 as Robert
Mugabe crushed resistance to his rule.
He became president in 1987, a title he still holds
by Own Correspondent Saturday 05 December 2009
HARARE - ZANU PF chief negotiator in the ongoing power-sharing talks Patrick
Chinamasa has protested to the Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee
(JOMIC) over what he said was politicisation of food aid by Prime Minister
Morgan Tsvangirai's MDC-T party, ZimOnline has learnt.
MDC-T sources said Chinamasa, who is also Zimbabwe's Justice Minister, last
month wrote to JOMIC to complain about alleged politicisation of
non-governmental organisation (NGO) food distribution programmes in
Manicaland province by Tsvangirai's party.
"But after investigating the alleged politicisation, JOMIC discovered that
there was no substance to Chinamasa's claims other than pure paranoia on the
part of ZANU PF. What they called politicisation of the NGO food assistance
programme was in fact the presence of MDC newsletters at the distribution
points in one of the areas," an MDC official said.
JOMIC is special multi-party taskforce mandated with supervising the
implementation of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) signed by ZANU PF and
the two MDC formations last year.
It handles all complaints, grievances, concerns and issues relating to
compliance with the GPA.
Chinamasa's protest came as President Robert Mugabe also protested about the
alleged politicisation of assistance to World Food Programme (WFP) executive
director Josette Sheeran on the sidelines of the World Food summit held in
Italy last month.
The WFP is the lead United Nations agency that coordinates the distribution
of food to hungry people in Zimbabwe.
It however works through a network of non-governmental organisations that
operate at district level.
ZANU PF is understood to be pushing for all WFP handouts to be channelled
through government structures to enable it to have control over the
Human rights groups have accused ZANU PF of using food aid as a political
weapon with which it punishes known MDC supporters.
The Zimbabwe Peace Project last month accused Mugabe's party of falsifying
records to deny known opponents assistance from the Department of Social
Welfare and NGOs.
The group said public access to food and humanitarian assistance was being
denied through well-coordinated webs of partisan structures such as ward
coordinators, volunteers, village heads, councillors and chairpersons linked
to ZANU PF. - ZimOnline
December 5, 2009
By Our Correspondent
HARARE - The Attorney General's Office has lodged an application in the High
Court seeking leave to challenge in the Supreme Court the release on bail of
Pasco Gwezere, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) transport manager.
Gwezere was abducted and jailed for allegedly stealing 20 AK-47 rifles from
Pomona Army Barracks.
Chief law officer Michael Mugabe lodged the application this week seeking to
quash a bail order granted by High Court judge, Justice Charles Hungwe two
weeks ago in the Supreme Court.
The High Court granted Gwezere US$500 bail and a string of stringent
conditions a fortnight ago, but the State immediately invoked the draconian
Section 121 subsection 3 of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act, which
meant he had to stay in remand for a further seven days.
The seven days elapsed last week on Friday but Gwezere remains jailed.
The Supreme Court is now expected to sit as a Constitutional Court to make a
determination in the matter, after Justice Hungwe granted the State leave to
appeal to the highest court in the land against his order to release Gwezere
The State contends he faces very serious charges.
Gwezere is charged with stealing firearms from Pomona Barracks and receiving
military training in Uganda a decade ago. The military training charge has
already been thrown out by the magistrates' court.
Gwezere remains jailed with no access to medical attention. Zimbabwe Prison
Service (ZPS) officials are defying a court order directing that he gets
medical attention for injuries sustained when he was tortured following his
Gwezere has been transferred from Harare Remand Prison to Chikurubi Maximum
Security Prison. Gwezere's lawyer, Alec Muchadehama has protested that his
client was still not receiving proper and adequate attention from the prison
doctors, despite a ruling by Magistrate Archie Wochiunga three weeks ago
ordering prison doctors to treat him.
In an affidavit filed with the court, Chief Superintendent Charles Ngirishi,
the Officer Commanding Criminal Investigations Department Law and Order at
Harare Central police station, alleges that Gwezere broke into Pomona Army
Barracks One Engineers Support Regiment Armoury on October 20 2009 together
with a lady only identified as Getrude and several army officers and stole
20 AK 47 rifles and a shot gun, which they took to an unknown destination.
In another affidavit tendered in court, Last Ngwenya, a security officer in
the President's Office claimed that Gwezere held meetings with unidentified
army officers in the Harare Gardens to strategise on how they would break in
and steal firearms from the armoury at Pomona Army Barracks. Ngwenya accused
Gwezere of pledging to organize vehicles to ferry the stolen weapons from
Pomona to an unknown destination.
The State says five of those security officials have been apprehended and
would face court martial. Another one of Gwezere's alleged co-accused has
been slapped with a lengthy jail term of 15 years.
The MDC transport manager was abducted in October and forced into an Isuzu
KB 250 twin cab and driven to Marimba Police Station before being taken to
various places where he was interrogated about MDC leader and Prime Minister
Morgan Tsvangirai's strategy in disengaging from Cabinet and Council of
The MDC worker was denied food and legal representation during his
Gwezere accused his abductors of torturing him since his abduction.
Muchadehama said Gwezere sustained serious injuries on his head, wrist,
mouth, ear, feet, leg, buttocks, back and genitals during the torture
The human rights lawyer said Gwezere is having difficulties in walking as
his left leg is deteriorating and is also having difficulties in sleeping.
Gwezere told Muchadehama that the torture sessions also included being
blindfolded, beaten under the feet (falanga style), and being beaten about
the head, body and buttocks with truncheons and clenched fists.
December 4, 2009
By Our Correspondent
HARARE - Eric Matinenga, the Minister of Constitutional and Parliamentary
Affairs, says Zimbabwe will have a new constitution protecting fundamental
rights next year.
Matinenga told a meeting organised by civic society organisations in Harare
this week that this time next year, the new constitution would be in place.
"If we cannot have a new constitution now then we can never have it," said
Matinenga. "I can tell you that by this time next year we will be
celebrating a new constitution."
Matinenga said the assault of people's human rights that currently prevails
in the country should be a thing of the past. He said this could only be
stopped through the crafting of a democratic and people-driven constitution.
"This is not the Zimbabwe we want," he said. "There is selective arrest and
prosecution of citizens but this is not an issue that we can leave to the
security agents. All Zimbabweans must make sure that this comes to an end by
participating in the making of a new constitution."
Asked how the current wave of arrests could be ended, Matinenga said, "The
second round of political talks by political party negotiators is to get to
a stage where these issues shall be dealt with, and make sure that we are
going to have relative peace and equality before the law."
Paul Mangwana, one of the co-chairpersons of a parliamentary committee
leading the constitutional reform process, says national healing should
havetaken precedence before outreach teams are sent out to collate people's
views on the new constitution.
"Civic education and national healing should have been ahead of this process
but unfortunately we have no mandate to address these issues though we hope
to deal with the political tensions before we roll out the process of
Mangwana, of Zanu-PF, said it was important to address this issue of
violence in order for members of the public to be able to freely and
effectively participate in the process.
He also said Zimbabweans would participate in the process.
"We are not going to impose any constitutional document on the people of
Zimbabwe," he said, "you shall write your own constitution."
He also said members of the civic society should stop threatening the
constitutional committee with campaigning for a "No' vote."
"Don't threaten the select committee with a 'No' vote' please because doing
so means you will only be denying yourself a constitution," said Mangwana.
He was responding to a civic society leader who said civic groups would
campaign against the draft constitution if it did not reflect their views.
Despite Matinenga's optimistic view, the ongoing constitution making process
has stalled at several occasions due to a myriad of problems, including an
ill-fated All Stakeholders Conference which was disrupted by President
Robert Mugabe's supporters.
A special parliamentary committee set up to lead the process has also been
complaining about lack of funds until recently when the government and donor
agents chipped in with funds. The process requires US$ 9, 4 million up to
stage referendum stage.
According to a time table set up under the Global Political Agreement (GPA)
signed by the country's three main political parties, the process should
have now been at the public consultation stage.
The committee is, however, yet to deploy the outreach teams.
The committee has since postponed to next year the deployment of outreach
teams to consult citizens on the proposed new constitution.
In addition to funding shortages, sharp differences have also emerged
between the political parties over the writing of the new constitution,
threatening to derail the reform process.
Zanu-PF has said any new constitution should be based on a draft
constitution secretly authored by the main political parties on Lake Kariba
and known as the Kariba Draft.
However, civic organisations and the MDC led by Prime Minister Morgan
Tsvangirai are opposed to it, saying the document leaves largely untouched
the sweeping powers that Mugabe continues to enjoy even after formation of a
power-sharing government with Tsvangirai and Deputy Premier Arthur
Under last year's power-sharing deal the country is supposed to have a new
constitution in the next two years to pave way for new elections.
The draft constitution will be put before the electorate in a referendum
expected in July next year and if approved by Zimbabweans will then be
brought before Parliament for enactment.
Once a new constitution is in place, the power-sharing government is
expected to call fresh parliamentary, presidential and local government
Zimbabweans hope a new constitution will guarantee basic freedoms,
strengthen Parliament and limit the President's immense powers.
Friday, 04 December 2009
Botswana has said it no longer listens to complaints from Zimbabwe over the
Voice of America broadcasts relayed through its territory.
Zimbabwe government newspaper - The Herald - published a story this week
acussing Botswana of hosting what it called 'pirate radio station' from
Voice of America (VOA). The paper said that Zimbabwe will make a formal
complaint to Botswana over VOA. Zimbabwe accuses VOA of beaming hate
messages to its people, in violation of the power-sharing agreement.
Zimbabwe says this threatens the survival of its coalition government. The
Herald accused the Botswana government of lobbying for regime change in
However, the coordinator of Botswana government Communications and
Information Services (BGCIS), Dr Jeff Ramsay said yesterday that they are
used to the threats but they can do little because nothing illegal is going
on. He said that VOA does its broadcasting from Washington in the United
States and Botswana is only hosting its relay station in Selebi-Phikwe. He
said that there are many European, American, French, and Chinese Short Wave
and Medium Wave radio stations with relays in Africa. "For instance, South
Africa is hosting a relay for BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation)," he
said. He said that he is aware that the VOA programme (Studio 7) that
Zimbabwe is complaining about is produced in Washington by Zimbabweans and
it touches on the situation in that country and to some extent it is
critical. He stated that Botswana will not just terminate the agreement it
has with VOA for as long as it is in the best interest of the country. The
VOA has had a relay station in Botswana since the early 1970s but Zimbabwe
started complaining about it in 2003.
The Herald reported that Zimbabwe made a formal complaint about the VOA
broadcasts last year through the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and
Security Co-operation and it would soon raise the matter with Gaborone. "We
made a complaint and the Organ said the issues should be addressed
bilaterally through the Committee on Defence and Security and the Joint
Permanent Commission," the paper quoted a Zimbabwe Foreign Affairs official
as saying. The Herald reported that the matter is set to be discussed at the
next meeting of the committee on Defence and Security and the
Botswana-Zimbabwe Joint Permanent Commission on a date yet to be announced.
Attempts to get a comment from newly appointed High Commissioner of Botswana
to Zimbabwe, Gladys Kokorwe did not bear fruit as her mobile phone was off.
Published: December 4, 2009
Harare The controversial and loudmouthed war veterans' leader Joseph
Chinotimba has refused to vacate Harare city council's house.
The council terminated Chinotimba's lease for occupation of the property
last year after the expiry of the lease as agreed by the two parties in the
lease agreement. However, the council was stunned when the war veteran
refused to budge from the property. The council is seeking court
intervention and has already filed a case at the courts.
The self-styled war cadre has been renting the council's property at House
Number 56 Cardiff Avenue, Belvedere since 2006.
Chinotimba argued that the council must sell him the house as ordered by the
Minister of Local Government Dr Chombo.
"The Minister of Local Government had recommended that the city should sell
the property to the defendant as the sitting tenant, which recommendation,
has not been acted upon, despite the defendant's requests," boasted
Published on: 5th December, 2009
He was ridiculed in the media following allegations that he had stolen a cell phone belonging to self styled war veteran’s leader Joseph Chinotimba. But Deputy Youth Minister Thamsanqa Mahlangu was eventually acquitted and says he is now focused on his job.
On Behind the Headlines SW Radio Africa journalist Lance Guma speaks to Mahlangu about that case and his speech in parliament that over 80 000 youths have passed through the controversial ‘Border Gezi’ youth service training programme. Lance also asks him what is being done to halt the continuous deployment of these youths to harass, intimidate and torture perceived ZANU PF opponents.
Interview broadcast 26/11/09
Lance Guma: Hello Zimbabwe and welcome to Behind the Headlines. My guest this week is the Deputy Minister for Youth Affairs Mr Thamsanqa Mahlangu. Mr Mahlangu thank you for joining us on the programme.
Thamsanqa Mahlangu: Thank you Lance.
Guma: Right, now first things first – you revealed recently in parliament that over 80 000 young Zimbabweans have passed through the controversial Youth Service programme. Tell our listeners a bit more about this – what were you talking about in parliament?
Mahlangu: In parliament I was actually responding to a question that was asked by the member of parliament for Mazowe East, Mr Mushonga who wanted to know how many youths had been trained so far by the Youth Service and also he wanted to know the number of Ward Officers on the ground as up to now so I was actually responding to the question.
Guma: OK, so this figure of 80 000, is this the total number of youth who have been trained since the programme was started?
Mahlangu: Yah since the inception of the programme, the former ruling party led programme of national service. As you know that after the formation of the inclusive government there’s no national service that has been started here, we are just trying here to make some reforms around it.
Guma: OK we’ve got 13 950 of these recruits currently employed as Youth Ward Officers as you said so yourself. What’s going to be done about them? Surely they can’t keep drawing on salaries as civil servants given their notorious history?
Mahlangu: Yah what I said was that the Public Service has given my ministry a number of 13 950 youths that are supposed to be employed officially by my ministry but so far after the vigorous auditing that was done by my ministry we have actually led to the official number of about 6 600 youths and I think that some of these people are being transferred to other ministries, I can only say that because when we started the research there are no people that are not yet off the payroll but still the number’s gone down so we suspect that there are other young people, other people, the old people that have been employed by my ministry that have actually been taken to other departments of the government.
Guma: OK even those who are still employed under your ministry, what exactly are they supposed to be doing?
Mahlangu: The Ward Officers actually they, you know before that their role had not been clearly defined as far as I’m concerned but what we’ve done now is actually redefine the role of Ward Officers, all Officers are supposed to be employees of the ministry, they’re supposed to be on the ground actually pursuing the youth agenda on the ground in terms of youth empowerment achieved on the ground, the communities working with the youth in the communities and ensuring that the programmes of the youth, the programmes of the youth on the ground are actually being done properly, that would be the job.
But now the crisis that had emerged was that these young citizens had been turned into individual youth officers, you find that the politicians have been abusing these young people on the ground. Certain political parties treat these young as an extension of their own youth league.
Guma: But is it practical Mr Mahlangu to modify the behaviour of these youths who in the past had been used to harass, intimidate and even torture opposition activists? I mean how are you going to modify their behaviour?
Yah it is a challenge, it is actually a challenge my friend, I think we are facing a big challenge as far as I’m concerned whether we must allow these young people to remain employed by my Ministry or actually cut their contracts so that we reemploy. We are looking at the two avenues whether, can we allow them to continue working because as far as I’m concerned as things are standing now, these youths in the communities are known for their actions, are known for their past actions before the GPA, this year some elections in June so we find that even the people they are not in a position to work with them, they are not getting any cooperation from the community, they are not getting any cooperation from the youth from my own party, they are being seen as the tools of Zanu-PF so it’s very, very difficult for them to work with communities so it’s actually a challenge that we need to overcome in the ministry.
Guma: Now you also said the Youth Ministry has this year used over 80 000 US dollars to try and reform the Youth Training programme, what sort of reforms are involved here, what are you going to be trying to do?
Mahlangu: Yah looking at the past, the past youth training programme, it was a violent one. The youth had been taught to, the National Service had actually been abused as I said before by a political party for their own political interest and so on, so now what we are trying to do, we want a national service that is youth friendly, a National Service that can accommodate across the political divide, we want an inclusive youth service whereby the youth service is used as a vehicle of national unity in our country.
Gone are the days when the youth service will be used to pursue a certain political party’s agenda. Gone are the days when youths will be abused by certain individuals, certain individuals who think the political party to actually take own parents, actually kill their own brothers and sisters, gone are those days so what we are saying is that we want to see a National Service that will serve young people, a National Service that will actually create a democratic Zimbabwe, a National Service that would be viewed as youth friendly, will be viewed as a place to be.
Guma: You also revealed in parliament that the programme has used about six million US dollars from the taxpayers, now this week I spoke to the spokesperson of the Zimbabwe National Students Union, Blessing Vava and he was arguing that instead of prioritising this National Youth Service, the resources are better spent revamping the education sector. What do you make of his argument?
Mahlangu: Yah whilst I agree with him but he has to know that the National Service has been acknowledged by the GPA in the agenda so we are in a Catch 22 situation because the negotiators say that National Service in itself is a noble idea but how it was done is the issue that actually was not seen to be good but now what we are trying to do is that we need to ensure that when we start the National Service scheme the country is ready to run such a scheme, the country is financially stable to run such a scheme but I don’t think at the present moment right in time we can actually afford such a programme.
But now what we actually do, we have started working on the formalities not implementation but how we can actually come out. It can actually take us another two years to have the service but what we are saying is that what is on the ground now is actually looking for reforms. As I’m talking to you now, we have got a trip that we are taking to, we are going to Kigali, the minister and other certain members of the team from across the political divide, we are going on a fact finding mission, on a study trip to see how the Rwandan’s resolved their own differences after the genocide that took place there. We are going to learn a lot to see how we can overcome our own challenges here in Zimbabwe again.
Guma: Are you confident that that is something that can be pulled off? I mean because there was a lot of talk about national healing and reconciliation and we even had National Healing Ministers appointed but nothing seems to be coming out of that. All we heard was a National Healing Day.
Mahlangu: I agree with you, I agree with you 100% my friend that the National Healing that we are having now, the people that have been appointed, they are just paid to just sit there and watch things happening, there’s violence that is actually currently taking place in Zimbabwe. There’s nothing that has been seen in that office I don’t know why we have a National Healing Ministry, those people involved in that office because as far as I’m concerned they are toothless bulldogs.
So as far as I’m concerned what we are trying to do, we the Youth are the most affected part, so we are taking the lead as the youth to make sure that we the youth take the lead in the National Healing process in our country than waiting for those three, the three people, the three ministers, that have already seen better to actually do the healing for us because first of all they are trying to heal themselves before they heal the nation of Zimbabwe.
Guma: Newsreel has been reporting on the deployment of youth militia in areas like Zaka North, Murehwa, Gokwe and Bindura and even last week, the MDC’s Changing Times newsletter actually talked about Zanu-PF youth militia trying to influence people to vote for the Kariba Draft. As the Deputy Youth Minister is there anything that you can do about these reports?
Mahlangu: No we are doing our own investigation, we have heard about those cases. But I assure you that we are investigating, on top of, we are on top of the situation, we are very concerned about that, we cannot allow the same situation that was happening before the inclusive government to happen again so I want to promise you 100% that we are doing a lot to ensure that such things will never happen again. We cannot have secret youth militia camps that are not known by the inclusive government.
We should know where the young people are, the parents should know where their children are. It’s very, very important, we cannot abuse young kids anymore. The days of abusing young people have gone past. As far as I’m concerned we are looking forward in a democratic Zimbabwe which at the end of the day the young people will actually voluntarily join this National Service, no-one will push them, to force them. So as far as I’m concerned we are on top of the situation in terms of investigating these allegations.
Guma: And how would you characterise your working relationship with the Youth Minister Saviour Kasukuwere who is from Zanu-PF? Are there any differences, are you working well, how are things going?
Mahlangu: Yah we are working well. We have got a cordial relationship with my Minister, we are working well, we agree where we are supposed to agree and we disagree sometimes where we are supposed to disagree and we are agree to disagree sometimes with other issues so we are working very well and we know that we are coming from, I have said to him that we are coming from different backgrounds, as I have said to him that we are coming from parties with a different ideology altogether, so we have accepted that, I’m MDC, he is ZANU PF but we are working together for the sake of Zimbabweans.
Guma: We are clearly running out of time but my final question obviously would have to congratulate you on being acquitted in the trial with Joseph Chinotimba, stealing a mobile phone. Just your comments on that, how did you feel about it?
Mahlangu: (laughing)……Can you imagine my friend, me stealing a phone? It was the joke of the year to me but it was actually unfortunate that he took my time instead of him focussing on the real issues to make sure that, we are working very hard to empower our own people but I found myself being dragged into the courts, my time was wasted, I don’t have a problem about the case but it was about my time that was wasted. Instead of serving my people in Nkulumane constituency I was seen to be always in court all the time. I’m just hoping that my brother, Bennett is going to be acquitted also, that’s my prayer.
Guma: But how was it like for you in terms of trying to convince people that, look I didn’t do this? Obviously you’d have people who had doubts…
Mahlangu: It was a difficult time. I think I didn’t have any big problem about the case itself, I just believed that anyone has got a right to take someone to court and it’s up to me to prove myself, to prove my innocence but the problem that I heard about things that were being, the lies that were being carried by the State media, things that were being told to the nation of Zimbabwe, lies after lies so it was very, very difficult time when I read Herald every time, to hear my name, to hear things that were being said – lies only you know. So I’m happy that we now have professional magistrates in our court, people that are seeing the light of the day, they are just seeing that Zimbabwe is no longer going to be Zanu-PF for ever, we are happy about that as far as I’m concerned.
Guma: But without going into too much detail, can you maybe for the sake of our listeners, SW Radio Africa listeners, just briefly summarise what happened on that day? When Chinotimba alleged that you stole his cell phone?
Mahlangu: Yah I think just a story was created, it was created to implicate me and you have to understand that there are a lot of issues in the government, you are talking about these youth militias and so on, it’s a problem whereby people will be trying to put you in the corner so that you can actually lose focus on the real issues so it was something that was actually planned, it was a plot on myself. Someone wanted to implicate me in that thing.
I was nowhere near that thing, that issue, I was not part of it, I didn’t know what happened I just heard people talking about that I had stolen a phone so it’s unfortunate that, it’s fortunate that when I went to the courts, the courts, you know when you are in the courts it is different from only talking and again the character of person that I was dealing with is someone that can pretend, is someone that can be a clown sometimes. I understood him very well that he is actually like that and everyone, even the people, in the court of public opinion didn’t even believe in him, that was my luck now because people never believed that Mahlangu could do that because of my political history, because of my past I was actually been in front, in the eyes of the Zimbabwe society they’ve been seeing me as someone, a progressive leader and being a member of parliament elected by the people of Nkulumane, being the National youth chairman in the MDC, no one could believe that I can go so low.
Guma: My colleague Violet Gonda actually interviewed Joseph Chinotimba and he told us he had filed a 19 million US dollar law suit against you. Is the law suit still going on or has it since been dropped?
Mahlangu: I don’t know what he is planning but as far as I’m concerned, I haven’t asked my lawyers about that but as far as I’m concerned I don’t think that it will actually see the light of the day anymore because he was actually taking from the allegation that he actually put on me and this allegation has been cleared by the courts so I don’t know, it is up to him he has got his own right but I will always be there to defend myself again as far as I’m concerned.
Guma: That’s Deputy Youth Minister Thamsanqa Mahlangu, he is currently on his way to Rwanda. Thank you very much for spending time to talk to us on Behind the Headlines.
Mahlangu: Thank you very much.
APA-Harare (Zimbabwe) Zimbabweans living in the Diaspora have drafted an
action plan detailing how they propose to support the country’s economic
reconstruction programme, APA learns here Saturday.
The action plan was one of the main outcomes of meetings held in South
Africa this week by Zimbabwean professionals living abroad and
representatives of the country’s coalition government.
The Zimbabwe government delegation was led by Prime Minister Morgan
Tsvangirai who is trying to garner support for the 10-month-old Harare
The discussions culminated in a draft programme of action which would be
submitted for consideration to Zimbabwe’s coalition government.
Details of the programme of action were however not made public.
A statement from Tsvangirai’s office said the Prime Minister undertook to
give serious consideration to the proposals by the expatriate Zimbabweans
and pledged his government’s commitment to remove impediments to investment
by nationals living abroad.
Relative political stability in the wake of the signing of a power-sharing
agreement by the main parties and the resultant stabilisation of the economy
have provided impetus for strategic discussions on the way forward in
rebuilding the country’s economic infrastructure and the improvement of the
lives of the Zimbabwean people.
Representatives of the Zimbabwean Diaspora, who included business leaders,
media owners, principals of continental development finance institutions and
civil society leaders, pointed out that they were encouraged by ongoing
efforts to ensure that the power-sharing agreement was implemented but
warned that failure in this regard would be catastrophic.
The dialogue was hosted by South Africa’s Institute for Justice and
More than three million Zimbabweans have left the country since its
political and economic crisis started in 2000.
Saturday 5 December 2009 / by Rejoice Ngwenya
I am not a street activist, but more from the irritable pool of intellectual
key-punchers who hope that Robert Mugabe and his cronies are literate enough
to notice how collective resentment and hatred for shameless, fascist
dictatorship is better expressed in the written word. This I say because
there is a fallacy pervading Zimbabwean society that the number of times and
period that one is beaten and arrested is the only means of verifying
serious political activism. And perhaps there is precedence to this
malnourished viewpoint, given that the icons of Africa's liberation struggle
have, at one time or other, had a bruising encounter with local justice
The tragedy is that nationalists, like Mugabe, have used this as a basis for
extended stay in power, arguing that long periods spent in colonial gaol
gives them the right to oppress their countrymen. Critics of Professor
Arthur Mutambara have raised the same argument that he never received as
much political bashing and detention as Morgan Tsvangirayi, thus his claim
to political fame is flimsy and frivolous. The good news is that this
viewpoint is devoid of good judgement and destined for extinction.
In awarding Magodonga Mahlangu the coveted Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights
Award, United States President Barack Obama mentioned that the firebrand
Zimbabwean activist has been arrested more than thirty times. No doubt all
progressive cadres of the struggle against Mugabe's 'scientific' tyranny
will and should applaud Mahlangu's recognition, but I am one of the few who
do not particularly subscribe to the theory that the number of times one is
convicted for a good cause emits a force equal to or equivalent to the
motion towards liberation. Moreover, the struggle takes a further mortal
knock when one, like Mahlangu does, goes further to justify activism purely
on the basis that his or her parents, friends, neighbours and relatives were
at one time or another, victims of Mugabe's Gukurahundi genocide.
More often than not, we Zimbabwean activists exaggerate our encounters in
the struggle. ZANU-PF has always been reminded that everyone fought against
colonialism, thus heroism is not only a preserve of former Mozambican and
Zambian exiles, members of the Central Committee or victims of
post-independence detention and genocide.
Girl child activist Betty Makoni is currently exiled in England, advancing,
like many of those Zimbabweans who inhabit that land, another case of
persecution by the ZANU-PF government for exposing alleged ministerial
girl-child abuse. No doubt she is in line for another award of recognition
for her 'struggle' against tyranny. There is no doubt that other cadres like
former political hostage Jestina Mukoko, human rights lawyer Otto Saki and
constitutional activist Dr Lovemore Madhuku deserve all the accolades they
get from the world movement for democracy. A crucial part of the struggle
against oppression is confronting and defeating ZANU-PF it in its natural
habitat - in the streets, but to limit recognition of this struggle only to
the number of times one is arrested from the trenches belittles greater
My point is that the struggle to unseat tyranny is not about 'rented'
college students doing street push-ups, old women and lactating mothers
sacrificed on the altar of fiery fury of the dragon, merely to score
political points. More often than not, strategic partners of governance and
democracy have been accused of supporting only institutions that 'raise hell
and dust' in running battles with Mugabe's uniformed sympathisers in the
alleys. This is a narrow view of resistance, for there is more like us who
find pride in pounding tyranny from the keyboard. It may not be glamorous,
elicit blood or swollen foreheads, but the message spreads far and wide.
Street activists accuse us of 'conference room activism' because there is no
glitz and glamour accrued from making interviews for CNN from hospital beds.
The moral of my argument is that when seminar attendance registers and
police charge sheets become the only genuine evidence of political activism,
strategic partners have taken the eyes off the ball. 'Anniversary' day
activism manifested in protest handbills and posters, glossy advertisement,
angry press statements and red roses handed out at street corners are part
of the continuum of the struggle against ZANU-PF dictatorship.
However, the demands of modern day transformative revolution require that we
shift the gear from mere defiance to a higher pedestal of popular
resistance. The answer lies in paralysing the business supply systems that
keep the ZANU-PF dragon bite venomous. Restrictive and targeted sanctions
are part of this exciting high-yield strategy; the other is embedded in
Mr. Rejoice Ngwenya writes for African Liberty. He is founder of Coalition
for Liberal Market Reforms, a Zimbabawean think tank.
The demand for the mineral coltan, 80 per cent of which is in the Democratic
Republic of Congo (DRC), continues to fuel the conflict in the DRC. Various
rebel groups control the mines and according to a recent article (an excellent detailed
resource and who's who in the country by Robert Miller in Znet), many of the
multinationals operating in the region are British. The one country missing at
present is China, but not for long as Friends of Congo explain.
Friends of the Congo reports on a 'deal' sanctioned by the IMF between the DRC and Chinese governments. FOC believe the deal - which is a swap of minerals for infrastructure - will keep the DRC 'impoverished for a generation or more to come:
'Stated Benefit to Congo:
4,000 KM road network
3,200 KM Rail system
31 Hospitals with 135 beds each
145 Health Centers with 50 beds each
49 clean water distribution centers
4 large universities
A Parliament building
Stated Benefit to China:
10.6 million tons of copper and 626,619 tons of cobalt
Year concessions expected to come into production: 2013.'
The 'deal' runs alongside a debt relief plan by the 'Paris Club' (the DRC are not even present at the meetings), which would cancel between US$5 and $7 billion debt. This might seem a positive move until you unpack the small print ,which hopes the debt cancellation will enable the DRC to undertake even more loans and attract more foreign investment - with the continued exploitation of the country's resources in the interest of foreign multinationals rather than the Congolese people.
Sokwanele reports on corruption in high places as rumours of a scam around the production of Zimbabwe dollars are circulating the country. The scam is that huge amounts of old Zimbabwe dollars are being produced and deposited in bank accounts waiting for the announcement of reimbursements which will then exchange the old Zimbabwean currency for the US dollar.
'Currency manipulation wouldn't be a new trick in their books and their past antics explain why Zimbabweans are so suspicious of them. Prior to dollarisation Gono and Co. had access to lots and lots of Zimbabwe dollars (while ordinary people had to queue for days and days at the banks to get their hands on a few notes at a time) and they also had access to foreign currency at a very favourable government rate. What they did was buy up foreign currency at a low rate, and then sell it on the streets at a much higher rate for a lot more Zim dollars, and then roll those Zim dollars into buying more currency which they would sell again, rapidly (and I mean rapidly!) enriching themselves.'
Thy Glory O Nigeria is presently without a leader as President Yar'adua is once again off sick in Saudi Arabia. It seems that Yar'adu forgot or refused to hand over power to his deputy Vice President Goodluck Jonathan who appears to be asleep amidst calls for his resignation. Glory wonders why the people of Nigeria are not out on the street in massive protests over this state of affairs for a leader who was not even elected in the first place:
'The men and women who pretend to be in the national assembly are too busy with personal interests and political survival that they do not see or realise how USELESS they have become in their own existence. If they are not useless what are they still doing when Nigeria with a population of over 140m has no legal president? Their own personal individual emergence continues to haunt them and they know that trying to do anything 'right' will jeopardise their political future. I dare any member of the Nigeria Senate or House of Rep to sanely move for the removal of Yar Adua! They are all birds of the same feather-wicked and evil in colour.'
It gets worse. The imperial north demands a president from the North and since the VP is from the South - worse the Niger Delta - the calls for a northerner to take over the government is tantamount to 'sowing seeds of secession'. I very much doubt this would happen unless there are some secret reserves of oil, coltan or some other mineral needed desperately by the West.
The Voice of the Oppressed reports on thousands of Albinos who have gone into hiding after a spate of killings for their body parts. Gruesome ugly stuff and one wonders why these stories of murder and selling body parts are just appearing in the past six months. What was happening two, four, 20 years ago? Is this something new or was it previously hidden?
'The surge in the use of albino body parts as good luck charms is a result of 'a kind of marketing exercise by witch doctors,' the International Federation for the Red Cross and Crescent societies said.
'The report says the market for albino parts exists mainly in Tanzania, where a complete set of body parts - including all limbs, genitals, ears, tongue and nose - can sell for $75,000. Wealthy buyers use the parts as talismans to bring them wealth and good fortune.
'Albinism is one of the most unfortunate vulnerabilities,' said International Federation for the Red Cross and Crescent societies Secretary General Bekele Geleta. 'And it needs to be addressed immediately at an international level.'
The chairman of the Albino Association of Kenya, Isaac Mwaura, called the murders deplorable but said the killings have given albinos a platform to raise awareness. Almost 90 percent of albinos living in the region were raised by single mothers, Mwaura said, because the fathers believed their wives were having affairs with white men.'
HIV Kenya. December 1st is World Aids Day and HIV Kenya takes the opportunity to call for the dismantling of UNAIDS.
Ultimately a self-serving and very expensive organisation, UNAIDS needs to be reabsorbed back into the overall agenda of public health, or some agenda that encompasses the health of everyone, not the sickness of a few. This is not to say that HIV positive people should not be entitled to treatment or care. Rather, they and all other sick people should be entitled to treatment and care. But people who are not sick should be enabled to stay that way. UNAIDS is good at diverting a lot of money for people once they are HIV positive but this is denying the right of HIV negative people to stay that way.
16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence continues and Zimbo Jam reports on a speech by Zimbabwean writer Tsitsi Dangarembga on domestic violence in the country, at the International Images Film Festival for Women (IIFF).
'I know a country where women get beaten up till they abort their twins,' said IIFF founder Tsitsi Dangarembga, just before the presentation of an award that honours a man who has understood the vision of IIFF and worked hard to assist the festival achieve its goals.
'A country where the man who beats her up is arrested and then overnight, makes a deal with a police officer, and is set free. I know a country where distinguished gentlemen who sit on the boards of academic institutions make and break contracts with women at will- but still remain distinguished gentlemen.
'A country where daily women get beaten up because the sadza was too hard, or not hard enough,' Tsitsi went on in an impassioned impromptu speech that got the room pin-drop silent.
'Does anyone know which country this is?'
'Zimbabwe,' members of the audience responded in unison.
'Yes,' Tsitsi continued, 'I think we should be ashamed. I think we should be so ashamed that we resolve to make a change. We need to face it. We cannot pretend that these things are not happening. That is why this next award is very important. It goes to a man who has come out and said I will work with you. I will honour you.'
Black Looks comments on the recent consultation meeting in Port Harcourt which saw 117 organisations and individuals come together to discuss a post-oil Nigeria. The event, Envisioning a post petroleum Nigeria, published a communique which was highly critical of Nigeria's policy in the Niger Delta.
'The communiqué is scathing in its criticism of the present government which rather than address the issues raised has in fact exacerbated them in so many ways culminating in the recent amnesty deal with militants. Rather than tackle the cause of the militancy and criminal activities such as the huge environmental damage and lack of development, the government simply made a financial deal with a group of militants in exchange for their silence. The cost of doing so could well have been put towards building health centres, schools and other infrastructure for the communities and begin to erode the reasons behind the militancy in the first place.
'Never before have so many people and organisations come together as one to condemn the Nigerian government's actions from the continued deferral and failure to end gas flaring; failure to insist and regulate the oil industry according to international standards; contributing and being part of the land grab by oil companies and the promotion of agri-imperialism; fueling the corruption in the region which has itself contributed to the violence and the policy of militarisation and abuse instead of development and support.'
Finally a couple of new blogs I will be following: Zimbablog and Franco Techno Gap which aims to 'monitor the Berlin Wall between French and English speaking Africa'.
BROUGHT TO YOU BY PAMBAZUKA NEWS
* Sokari Ekine blogs at Black Looks.
* Please send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or comment online at Pambazuka News.