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Negotiators break off talks, without breakthrough

By Tichaona Sibanda
8 December 2009

Two weeks of negotiations between ZANU PF and the MDC broke off on Monday
without evident progress, amid signs of increasing frustration over the lack
of success in efforts to resolve outstanding issues in the Global Political
Attempts to reach a deal have repeatedly snagged over whether Robert Mugabe
will agree to rescind the unilateral appointments of Gideon Gono and
Johannes Tomana as Reserve Bank Governor and Attorney General. Analysts say
that doing so ahead of his party' congress that begins in Harare on
Wednesday, would have been viewed by hardliners in ZANU PF as capitulation.
Mugabe appointed the two without consultation with the other two principals
in the inclusive government, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Deputy
Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara.
He extended Gono's term at the RBZ in November last year but the GPA  says
that all senior government appointments are to be made only after agreement
between the three principals. Mugabe has however resolutely rebuffed calls
to dismiss Gono and Tomana and the issue remains the most contentious in the
Our Harare correspondent Simon Muchemwa told us the talks have been
temporarily stopped to allow negotiators from ZANU PF to attend their party
congress. Negotiators from the Mutambara camp will also be traveling outside
the country this week.
'Although Chinamasa was on state television last night (Monday) saying they've
handed over a report to their principals and the South African facilitation
team, I don't think we've seen an end to these talks,' Muchemwa said.
'There are reports the negotiators agreed on a number of issues but these
are less issues compared to the Gono and Tomana demands from the MDC,'
Muchemwa added.

There have been no leaks from the negotiating teams except vague suggestions
that the parties are close to reaching an agreement on some minor issues,
but none of the key ones.

The negotiators also briefed a South African facilitation team that was in
the country on Monday. The team, led by ANC stalwarts Charles Nqakula and
Mac Maharaj, and President Jacob Zuma's international relations advisor
Lindiwe Zulu, were handed a report on the current state of talks by the
negotiators. The team returned to South Africa on Tuesday.

In Pretoria they are expected to brief President Zuma on the talks as well
as present him with a report, which he will forward to President Armando
Guebuza of Mozambique, the current chairman of the SADC Troika. It is
believed Guebuza will then decide whether to call for another Troika summit
or a full SADC summit to discuss the outstanding issues holding back the
inclusive government.


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South African facilitation team assesses progress of Zimbabwe crisis talks

APA-Harare (Zimbabwe) A three-member South African team that President Jacob
Zuma dispatched to Zimbabwe as part of the ongoing Southern African
Development Community (SADC)-mandated facilitation work is in the country,
and on Tuesday it was expected to receive the final report on talks to
resolve Harare's power-sharing dispute.

The team was on a second mediation mission to Harare in a week and was
expected to meet with leaders of Zimbabwe's political parties involved in
the negotiations.

The South African facilitation team was last in Zimbabwe on November 30 and
presented a progress report to President Zuma last Wednesday.

The team's latest mission was to pick up a progress report that Zuma would
be present to the SADC security organ headed by Mozambican President Armando

The facilitation team, which arrived in Harare Monday, is led by former
South African defence minister Charles Nqakula and includes Mac Maharaj and
Zuma's international relations adviser, Lindiwe Zulu.

An emergency SADC summit held on October 29 in Maputo, Mozambique, decided
that signatories to Zimbabwe's Global Political Agreement (GPA) should
engage in dialogue within 15 days but not exceeding 30 days, and that the
dialogue should include all outstanding issues relating to the
implementation of the GPA.

The Troika - comprising Mozambique, Zambia and Swaziland - said the dialogue
should include all the outstanding issues emanating from the implementation
of GPA and SADC Communiqué of 27 January 2009.

Zuma was expected in Harare Sunday but because of pressing engagements in
his country, the three-strong team will now act on his behalf.

Details of the inter-party talks have been kept a closely-guarded secret but
it is understood negotiating teams from President Robert Mugabe's ZANU PF
and rival factions of the former opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) had agreed on 12 of the 15 outstanding issues that have been
deliberated on by last weekend on the 21-item agenda.

The negotiators have been meeting since November 23 and the talks have been
held in complete secrecy at an undisclosed location.

Sources said the major sticking-points remain the failure of the National
Security Council to meet, the unprocedural appointments of central bank
governor Gideon Gono and Attorney General Johannes Tomana, and the refusal
to swear-in MDC treasurer Roy Bennett as deputy minister of agriculture.


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‘Harare to resolve land issue by 2010’

by Own Correspondent Tuesday 08 December 2009

HARARE – Economic Minister Elton Mangoma claims Zimbabwe’s power-sharing
government will resolve the contentious land issue by end of next year, an
overly optimistic projection given disagreements over the issue between
President Robert Mugabe’s ZANU PF and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s
MDC-T parties.
Describing the land issue as “emotive” Mangoma, who is a senior MDC-T
member, said the coalition government had finally come to agreement that the
matter should be resolved by 2010.
"The land issue is an issue, that has to be resolved and we (government) are
all agreed that by end of next year, we would have settled the land issue
once and for all," Mangoma said. "This (land issue) has been an emotive
issue, but government has agreed that the issue has to come an end next
He did not say how exactly the government hoped to achieve this feat over
the next 12 months especially given that the administration has not even
begun auditing Mugabe’s chaotic and often violent land reform programme of
the past nine years – an exercise that is a key requirement to any effort to
resolve Zimbabwe’s long-running land dispute.
The coalition government was supposed to have begun auditing the
controversial land reforms last September to weed out top allies of Mugabe
who grabbed most of the best farms seized from white owners.
It was hoped that the audit that is part of several unfulfilled provisions
from last year’s power-sharing agreement between Mugabe, Tsvangirai and
Deputy Premier Arthur Mutambara would lay the groundwork for a more orderly
and equitable land redistribution programme.
But the administration shelved the land audit because it did not have the
US$31 million that Lands Minister Herbert Murerwa says is required to pay
for the exercise.
Finance Minister Tendai Biti, also a senior MDC-T member, last week
allocated Murerwa’s department the funds required to carry the land audit.
But analysts expect Mugabe – who has hoarded several former white-owned
farms for his family – and the security commanders who still wield much
power in Zimbabwe to resist and block any attempt to expose multi-farm
Mugabe often rejects MDC criticism of the corruption, violence and human
rights abuses that have characterised his land reforms as an excuse by the
former opposition party to try to return land to former white owners.
Mugabe’s land reforms that he says were necessary to correct a colonial land
ownership system that reserved the best land for whites and banished blacks
to poor soils are blamed for plunging Zimbabwe into food shortages after he
failed to support black villagers resettled on former white farms with
inputs to maintain production.
In addition critics say the veteran leader’s cronies – and not ordinary
peasants – benefited the most from farm seizures with some of them ending up
with as many as six farms each against the government’s stated
one-man-one-farm policy. – ZimOnline


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Police and Kunonga renew persecution of Anglicans in Harare

 7th Dec 2009 21:58 GMT

By a Correspondent

HARARE - ANGLICAN parishioners at St Michael's Mbare on Sunday defied a
police order to vacate their church ahead of Sunday service, demanding to
see written court documents that allowed them to block them from conducting
their service.

The police led by Inspector Sibanda, the Officer-in-Charge at Waterfalls
Police Station, said 'they were acting on orders and instructions from above'
but still failed to produce written evidence of their 'from-above

The Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Harare (C.P.C.A), Dr Chad Gandiya, who
was at St Michaels' to confirm 100 people, said some rogue police officers
were abusing their office to protect their partisan interests, instead of
maintaining law and order.

"As Anglicans it seems we have no legal recourse in this country," he said.
"The police are interfering in our church services without restraint, and
continue to defy existing court orders. The police are supposed to be
protecting us but they are ones harassing us."

Bishop Gandiya said the co-ministers of Home Affairs Giles Mutseyekwa and
Kembo Mohadi have both acknowledged the significance of the Makarau
judgement and instructed police not to interfere in the Anglican Church

Justice Makarau ruled last year that until such time the matter has been
resolved by the High Court, the Anglican C.P.C.A and Dr Kunonga's Province
of Zimbabwe shall continue to share church buildings with the former using
the church first, providing a 90 minutes interval. The CPCA service should
have started at 11am.

On Sunday, as usual, the Kunonga group used the church building and left on
time. But when Anglicans gathered outside the church building, waiting to
start their service, some uniformed and plainclothes policemen from
Waterfalls Police Station  arrived and directed priest-in-charge Webster
Mahwindo to advise parishioners to go to an alternative venue of worship.
The priest then ordered people to leave the church premises but everyone
rejected his directive.

Instead parishioners broke into song and dance, denouncing the police and
vowing to remain at their place of worship and insisting on entering the
church for their Sunday worship.

After several minutes of dialogue between the priest and the police,
Mahwindo then asked people to go and wait for the Bishop outside the church
premises but still no one listened and the singing and dancing intensified
with Mothers' Union, Vabvuwi, St Peter's youths and men gathering in
defiance of the police.

Bishop Gandiya arrived at 12.40pm accompanied by Diocesan Registrar Michael
Chingore who confronted the police and demanded to see written court papers
that allowed them to interfere with Sunday worship. The police failed to
produce the papers and left in shame, and Anglicans entered their church
building at 1pm with joy and jubilation.

The Bishop castigated the police for irresponsible behaviour that
perpetuated lawlessness and portrayed the country's police as unprofessional
and partisan. He said this being the Advent, a season of hope; people should
not loose hope because 'our God is able'. As the Anglican faith, let us hold
on to the faith and refuse to be intimidated by the police and other
oppressors, he said.

Gandiya challenged the police to explain how and why they continue to take
instructions from Dr Kunonga who has no authority in the Inclusive
Government and the police.

The Anglican dispute has been raging since November 2007 when Dr Kunonga
resigned from the Anglican Church (CPCA) claiming differences over
homosexuality and the land issue but now claims ownership of CPCA property.


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Fresh Crackdown On Zimbabwe Rights Lawyer

Harare, December 08, 2009 - Zimbabwean police have once again summoned
prominent human rights lawyer and Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR)
member Alec Muchadehama to stand trial on contempt of court charges barely a
month after Harare Magistrate Archie Wochiunga removed him from remand.

Magistrate Wochiunga removed Muchadehama, who is currently representing
several human rights activists and Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
members, who were abducted and tortured by State security agents before
being charged with treason, banditry, sabotage and plotting to topple
President Robert Mugabe's previous government from remand last month for the
second time in five months.

At the time of his removal from remand Magistrate Wochiunga only remanded
Constance Gambara, the Clerk of Justice Chinembiri Bhunu, who is jointly
charged with the human rights lawyer for allegedly causing the unlawful
release from custody of his clients, Kisimusi Dhlamini, Gandhi Mudzingwa and
Andrison Manyere to 9 December 2009 for possible trial.

But Detective Sergeant Mukucha last Friday summoned Muchadehama to stand
trial on the same charges.

This is the third time in five months that the State has arraigned
Muchadehama before the courts to stand trial initially for defeating or
obstructing the course of justice and for contempt of court after the State
altered the charge.

In June Harare Magistrate Catherine Chimanda granted Muchadehama's
application for refusal of further remand after determining that the
State-then represented by Prosecutor Tapiwa Kasema-had failed to show any
reasonable suspicion that he had committed the alleged offence.

The Magistrate also found that the State had failed to show that Muchadehama
had an intention to commit the offence.

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ZANU PF Politburo endorses leadership ahead of congress

By Alex Bell
08 December 2009

ZANU PF's centre of power, the Politburo, has officially endorsed the party's
nominated leadership ahead of the start of the ZANU PF congress on

This includes the endorsement of Robert Mugabe as party leader for the next
five years.
ZANU PF spokesperson Ephraim Masawi, reportedly said after the Politburo
meeting on Monday night that the nominations are still to be confirmed at
the congress.
"We deliberated on the nomination of the Presidium and endorsed the
nomination of President Mugabe as the party's President and First Secretary
and Vice President Joice Mujuru as the second secretary," Masawi is quoted
as saying by the state's mouthpiece Herald newspaper.

The Politburo has also endorsed the nomination of party chairman John Nkomo
to replace former party Vice President Joseph Msika, who died in August.
Masawi is quoted as saying that the decision to nominate Nkomo to the post
was 'unanimously endorsed', despite widespread reports that the battle to
fill Msika's post was threatening to split the party in two.
Speculation that the party was on the brink of a split has been rife, and
the nominations process has revealed deep divisions in the party with a
scramble by different factions to secure top posts. Originally, Masvingo
province refused to nominate Vice President Joyce Mujuru for the post of
party vice president, which she is set to retain after the Politburo's
endorsement. The Masvingo party structure instead backed Manicaland Governor
Oppah Muchinguri, with some analysts arguing the nomination reflected
Masvingo's alignment with Defense Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, whose faction
is vying for dominance with Mujuru's.
At the same time there has been little unity when nominating a replacement
to Nkomo's post when he is officially declared party Vice President.
Nominations for the post have been scattered among Home Affairs Minister
Kembo Mohadi, Mines Minister Obert Mpofu, Ambassador to South Africa Simon
Khaya Moyo and ZANU PF Secretary for Administration Didymus Mutasa. Moyo has
now been nominated to the post, but not by a unanimous agreement.
The ZANU PF congress, which will officially be opened by Mugabe on Friday,
is also set to try and unite the apparent divisions within the party's
structures in Harare. Masawi told the Herald that measures would be taken to
ensure the feuding Harare factions were brought together.
"There are people that have been tasked to start work on uniting the
province as we want to regain the seats that we have lost in Harare," he

Efforts to restructure the party in the capital have also showed more
division in the party after clashes between the supporters of two officials
competing for provincial chairman. Recently, party supporters rooting for
Amos Midzi who has been nominated as Harare provincial chairman, clashed
with others who were backing Hubert Nyanhongo, ZANU PF's sole legislator in
Harare. The two groups have accused each other of 'hijacking' the
restructuring process, staging various demonstrations in the city since


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MDC supporters attacked by ZANU PF militia in Uzumba

By Tichaona Sibanda
8 December 2009

A truck carrying MDC supporters to a rally in Uzumba, Mashonaland East
province, was attacked by stone throwing ZANU PF militias in the area on

The rally was addressed by Senator Morgan Komichi, the deputy organizing
secretary of the MDC, and Jameson Timba the MDC MP for Mt Pleasant and
deputy Minister of Information and Publicity. The attack took place before
the two senior officials arrived at the venue.

Timba described the incident as 'barbaric and primitive' saying such acts
are only pursued by parties that have nothing else to offer to the people of

Several MDC supporters were injured in the skirmish and one of them, Daniel
Makaranga, had to be rushed to hospital for treatment following the
unprovoked attack. At least two people were arrested.

The weekly MDC newsletter, The Changing Times, said their supporters were
travelling in an open truck when it was ambushed at Katiyo shopping centre.

'The mob pelted the T-35 truck with stones, injuring the passengers who were
on their way to Nhakiwa Business Centre where they were going to an MDC
rally,' the newsletter said.

It said Makaranga was rushed to Nhakiwa clinic where he was denied
assistance because the nurses feared victimisation by the ZANU PF militia
who work hand in hand with the police there.

The attack was reportedly engineered by a ZANU PF youth chairman for Uzumba
district, identified as Mbizi. He's reportedly in charge of five bases in
Uzumba, namely at Katiyo, Mashambanhaka, Mtawatawa, Nhakiwa and Rukariro.

'These bases are under the command of Paradzai Zimondi, the commissioner
of Prisons, Douglas Nyikayaramba an army brigadier, Kandemiri Farisi a
war veteran, Agrippa Muromba a war veteran, Joe Katiyo and Playa Katiyo,
ZANU PF district officials,' the newsletter added.

MDC supporters who attended the rally in Uzumba went home in fear of their
lives because ZANU PF youths were waiting for them at their bases.
One of the ZANU PF youths was listing names of MDC.

Meanwhile another MDC activist, Ishmael Mutambara of Mutupo Ward 9 Mutare
North in Manicaland province, fled his home last week after succumbing to
pressure from ZANU PF supporters.

Mutambara had been threatened with death on a number of occasions. He told
The Changing Times that ZANU PF supporters led by Boldman Musademba,
Gwengwe, Gumende and one Mai Ziki, came to his house twice on 17th and 24th
November and threatened him for reclaiming his chickens, which were stolen
during last year's presidential run-off.

'They came to my place twice. On all the two occasions, they warned me
against reclaiming back my chickens, which they looted during last year's
presidential run-off. This is really hurtful considering that I also lost a
daughter, Serina, who was beaten to death by the youth militia during last
year's state sponsored violence and the police took no action against the
culprits,' Mutambara said. He's now based in Mutare.


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MDC suspends entire council and MP for inciting violence

8th Dec 2009 12:03 GMT

By a Correspondent

PRIME Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
party says it has suspended an MP for inciting violence, and banned two
other officials for corruption.

Zengeza East MP Alexio Musundire will be prevented from holding any position
in the party for two years, but remains MP, MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa

The former MDC mayor of Chitungwiza Israel Marange, and a former councillor,
Rangarirai Mutingwende, had their membership suspended for five years
following corruption allegations.

The two were accused of allocating stands to party supporters in exchange
for money. Marange was jailed for a year in August after a court convicted
him of accepting a $1,000 bribe to corruptly-allocate a stand to an aide.

The MDC's national executive also suspended its entire Chitungwiza
provincial executive "to ascertain the complicity and role of the province
in all the shenanigans in council," Chamisa said on Monday.

"We have made decisions as a party after we were concerned about endemic
corruption in general as well as mischief and misconduct in the handling of
council affairs in Chitungwiza," he said.

Chamisa did not release details of the allegations against Musundire, but
the action taken by the party will embolden its critics who say it harbours
violet elements -- one of the reasons cited for the October 2005 MDC split.

In 2001, the MDC's former St Mary's MP Job Sikhala fingered Musundire as one
of the men who led a violent attack on his home in the constituency.

Reacting to Sikhala's claims, Tsvangirai said at the time: "When children
are playing, it is natural  for them to sometimes fight, but you do not make
a big issue out of it. You must expect children to fight. If you don't
expect them to do so, then you are not human." - New Zimbabwe

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Zimbabwe gov’t spends more on foreign travel than healthcare : Ministry

APA-Harare (Zimbabwe) Zimbabwe’s coalition government is spending more on
foreign travel compared to essential services such as medical assistance for
civil servants, according to statistics released by the Ministry of Finance
here on Tuesday.

Foreign travel by President Robert Mugabe and members of his bloated cabinet
chewed up US$28.4 million or 22.5 percent of the US$126.4 million allocated
for ministries’ operational expenses between January and October this year.

This translated to nearly five percent of total expenditure of US$640.8
million incurred by the coalition government up to October and was
equivalent to the amount spent on capital projects during the same period.

A paltry sum of US$8.1 million was spent on health services offered to the
60,000-plus civil servants during the first nine months of 2009, the records

Finance Minister Tendai Biti said last week that he would cut on foreign
travel by government ministers in 2010.

He said with effect from January 2010, business travel for ministers and
their officials would be limited to allocated amounts which would be made
available monthly.

A strong emphasis would be on the key issues of education, health and social
services and the continuation of a strict and disciplined macro-economic
stabilisation programme introduced this year.

Mugabe and his ministers have been known to criss-cross the globe on
supposedly government business although nothing always comes out of the
foreign trips.

The Zimbabwean leader is barred from travelling to Europe, Australia, New
Zealand and the United States under restrictions imposed by these countries
in retaliation for alleged human rights abuses by his government since 2000.


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SADC ends Zimbabwe economic rescue programme

APA-Harare (Zimbabwe) The Southern African Development Community (SADC) has
handed over the activities of the Zimbabwe Humanitarian and Development
Assistance Framework to the Zimbabwean government, formally ending a
year-long economic bailout programme under which the 15-nation regional bloc
came to the aid of its ailing neighbour.

The Zimbabwe Humanitarian and Development Assistance Framework was launched
in Harare in January as a mechanism through which assistance given to the
country could be distributed to the people in a transparent and non-partisan

"The hand-over of the Zimbabwe Humanitarian and Development Assistance
Framework means that all future distribution of the assistance given to
Zimbabwe will be carried out by the Government of Zimbabwe in close
collaboration with key stakeholders in the country," SADC said in a
statement issued Tuesday.

SADC executive secretary Tomaz Salomao said the programme was being handed
over to the Harare authorities since the country now had a functional
government formed in February.

He said that he was confident that Harare's coalition government had the
necessary capacity to continue with the programme which had a unique, yet
effective approach to the distribution of assistance given to the country.

SADC's top civil servant said the hand-over of the programme should not be
interpreted as closure of the programme, noting that Zimbabwe still needed
assistance in agriculture, health and water supply.

He called on SADC member states and the international community to continue
assisting Zimbabwe to stabilize all sectors of the economy.

He thanked the South African government of South Africa for providing 300
million rand (US$40 million) which was used for the supply of agricultural
inputs to Zimbabwe in the past 12 months.

The Zimbabwe Humanitarian and Development Assistance Framework delivered
significant quantities of seed and fertiliser to small-scale farmers in
Zimbabwe during the 2008/09 summer season and the 2009 winter season.

This significantly contributed to an improvement in food production during
the past year.


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Zimbabwe to gain from Chinese tobacco aid

Dec 8, 2009-Two Chinese tobacco firms have pledged to contribute towards
relief aid and community development during their five-year period of
investment in Zimbabwe, according to a story in The Herald.

China Tobacco Yunnan Corp (CTYC) and China Tobacco Zimbabwe Tianze (CTZT)
together donated foodstuffs worth US$3,000 to the Hupenyu Hutsva Children's
Home on Thursday.

Speaking at a handover ceremony, director-general of CTYC, Yu Yundong, said
the industry would commit its efforts towards humanitarian aid in Zimbabwe.

"We are going to make lots of efforts towards social responsibility and
today we have brought gifts for these children," he added.

And Yan Shao, the general manager of CTZT, said his company would plow back
profits from the investments by assisting the community.

"China's tobacco industry has come to Zimbabwe to do business for five years
and we have this principle that what we get from the society we should
return," he added.

"What we are doing here is in line with Chinese policy in Africa and we are
not only assisting this institution, but we will engage in community
development projects like building classrooms in some local schools."

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Concern raised over humanitarian crisis at SA refugee mission

By Alex Bell
08 December 2009

The conditions facing hundreds of mainly Zimbabwean migrants in Johannesburg
is developing into a worsening crisis, with civil society groups urging the
intervention of the South African government.

A coalition of groups, including the Aids Law Project, Amnesty International
and Human Rights Watch, on Tuesday voiced their concern about the
humanitarian crisis at the Central Methodist Church, which hosts more than a
thousand homeless migrants. The Church offers people protection from
xenophobia and from harassment by some members of the police and it gives
people a sense of community when they are far away from home. It has also
been able to provide people with networks that have linked them to health
care services, skills development, educational opportunities, recreation and

But the civil society groups say the situation is unsustainable because of
severe overcrowding and the health and safety risks associated with this.
Already there have been allegations of child abuse, theft and the spread of
TB infections around the premises, while local police have arrested groups
of the refugees indiscriminately and often without reason. The Church has
for several years sought the intervention of the government to humanely
re-house the refugees, but that support has been lacking.

"If the Church were to be closed - as has been threatened -- the people who
need its support would not miraculously evaporate, and neither would the
ongoing crisis in Zimbabwe. Refugees would be dispersed and forced
underground into places where they would be less accessible and in greater
danger of health and human rights violations," a statement by the groups

The groups instead have called on the government, as well as the national
Minister of Social Development, to establish a task team to try to find
suitable alternative accommodation for people taking sanctuary at the
church, prioritising those who are most vulnerable. The groups have also
called on the Minister of Home Affairs to call for tolerance and to lead a
national dialogue about how to best assist Zimbabwean migrants who are in
South Africa.


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Council of Churches apologises for treatment of foreigners

Micel Schnehage | 4 Hours Ago

The South African Council of Churches on Tuesday apologised to foreigners
taking refuge at the Central Methodist Church in downtown Johannesburg for
the way they had been treated.

Around 3 000 people, most of them Zimbabweans, have been living at the
church since a wave of xenophobic attacks last year.

The Gauteng Provincial Government threatened to close the church down as it
posed a health and fire risk.

The council's Eddie Makue said the treatment of people living at the church
was unacceptable.

"I want to say to you how deeply embarrassed we are about the way in which
we have treated you and the way in which we continue to treat you," Makue

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Probe into magistrate’s alleged corruption

December 8, 2009

By Owen Chikari

MASVINGO – The Ministry of Justice Legal and Parliamentary Affairs has
established a four member commission of inquiry to look into allegations of
corruption and abuse of office levelled against Gutu Resident Magistrate
Musaiona Shortgame.

Shortgame is currently on suspension pending investigations into allegations
of bribery in which he is alleged to have received a $400 kick-back from a
convict in return for his freedom.

The commission started gathering evidence from witnesses this week as part
of the ministry’s internal investigations into the case. The commission is
expected to write its findings before the end of this month

Masvingo provincial magistrate Thomas Mandityira yesterday confirmed that
the commission had started investigations.

“The ministry has set up a commission which has started its work”, said
Mandityira. “I am not going to give you any details because investigations
are still going on.”

Although the commission is conducting its investigation in camera sources
who are attending the meeting said the chief witness in the case, Marita Man’ono,
had denied ever giving the magistrate any money.

The officer in charge of Gutu Police Station, Chief Inspector Mhlaba Sibanda
also testified, telling the commission that the magistrate had not received
any kick-back.

Sibanda is the head of prosecution at Gutu magistrate courts

Allegations against Shortgame are that some time this year the magistrate
received a $400 kickback from a convict in return for his freedom.

It is alleged that relatives of the convict met the magistrate and raised
their concern over the continued incarceration of the convict.

It is alleged that the magistrate demanded $400 from the relatives in order
for him to facilitate the convict’s release.

It is alleged that Shortgame was given the $400 and went on to pull his
court record and signed for the convicts release without the knowledge of
the state.

The state prosecutor who was representing the state in the case then raised
the alarm over the intended release of the convict.

The prosecutor then reported the case to the police resulting in the
magistrate’s arrest.

Meanwhile, the trial of Shortgame in the criminal court has been set for
February 1 next year.

“My trial will kick off on February 1 next year”, said Shortgame. “Both my
lawyers and the state have agreed on that date”, he added

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Journalists resolve to challenge election of ZUJ executive in court

By Tichaona Sibanda
8 December 2009

A group of disgruntled journalists met in Harare on Monday night and
resolved to challenge in court last week's election of a new Zimbabwe Union
of Journalists (ZUJ) executive.

Guthrie Munyuki, one of the journalists contesting the process, said scribes
from the independent and state media who met at the Quill club want the
elections annulled, alleging serious flaws.

'We resolved to seek recourse within the courts because the process was
fundamentally flawed. We are seeing our lawyers tomorrow (Wednesday) to
finalize our case and then take it to the High court,' Munyuki said.

There are allegations that interference from officials in the Ministry of
Information and Publicity contributed to the mayhem that characterized the
elections. Questions are still being asked why the venue of the congress was
abruptly switched to a remote place, Howe mine, some 30 km outside Bulawayo.

Many bona fide journalists missed the congress because of the last minute
switch while others boycotted the event because of suspicions there were a
lot of underhand shenanigans taking place.

Observers believe that what lies behind the latest infighting was a clear
attempt by the ministry to control the incoming executive, by ensuring that
their sponsored candidates were voted into office.

Traditionally there is an unwritten law in ZUJ that allows for the president
of the union and the first vice president to come from structures within the
state media. The second vice president and the secretary-general have always
been voted from the independent media.

But that common understanding was 'thrown out the window' last week when the
president and the two vice presidents were chosen from the state media in a
specially chereographed event that left many journalists seething with rage.
Only foster Dongozi, an independent journalist, retained unopposed the post
of secretary-general.

Dumisani Sibanda, news editor of the government-controlled Sunday News, was
elected as new president of the union. He took over from long-time
president, Matthew Takaona. ZBC's Mercy Pote was elected first
vice-president and Michael Padera from the Herald becomes the second
vice-president, with Vince Mugumbate as treasurer.
'We are saying that given previous well documented assaults on journalistic
liberties by the state machinery, we cannot have all these guys occupying
those positions because they will not be able to withstand pressure from
government if it comes to crunch time,' Munyuki said.

He added; 'This is a fight that goes beyond journalism in Zimbabwe. We know
there are residual elements in ZANU PF who are trying to take control of
ZUJ, people they can impose and control.'

Many of the journalists who gathered at the Quill club on Monday believe
there is a good chance their case will get a favourable outcome from the
High court.

'Look, the process was deeply flawed, delegates had no idea where the
congress was to be held. It was never advertised in the national press as it
should happen according to the ZUJ constitution. People were told the
congress was to be held in Bulawayo but where in Bulawayo? Was it going to
be in a hotel, a sports club, a community hall in Luveve or Magwegwe or a
stand at the Trade Fair grounds,' Munyuki added.

There was also an issue raised about the names contained on the delegates'
list. Reports suggest many of the delegates were 'shadow figures' and people
not known in the fraternity.

'That list contained 90% of shadow names, save for a few guys we've come to
know as real media practitioners in the country. There is a lot happening in
ZUJ and the truth will come out one day,' said Munyuki.


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Rail service needs money

Written by Natasha Hove
Monday, 07 December 2009 13:28
BULAWAYO - Zimbabwe's troubled rail parastatal requires US$200 million to
purchase equipment necessary to ensure the return of electric locomotives
that were suspended due to extensive vandalism.

Electric locomotives were suspended early this year after the overhead wires
which are used to transmit power to the locomotives were vandalised.
Thieves also targeted the poles supporting the wires as well as the machines
which are used for control.
"The vandalised cables and components are damaged beyond use and hence the
need to replace them through importing. It will cost about US$200 million to
revive and resuscitate the electrified section to ensure the return of
electric locomotives," a National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) spokesperson
said in a statement.
NRZ is seen as key to the governments' economic turnaround efforts as it is
viewed as the backbone of the country's transport sector.
Finance Minister, Tendai Biti, allocated US$16.7 million to revive the
country's rail network.
NRZ's collapse is blamed on the decade-long economic crisis in the country
and mismanagement as seen by the unrealistic low prices charged by the


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Britain criticized for soft approach

Written by Gift Phiri
Monday, 07 December 2009 19:42
 'Appeasement has failed. Brown must make that clear.'
HARARE - Zimbabwe's agony under President Robert Mugabe, largely caused by
the veteran leader's obstinacy in refusing to implement a September 15, 2008
power-sharing pact, has yet to arouse the anger of Britain's Labour
establishment in the way apartheid did when Gordon Brown  was still climbing
up the slippery pole.

The party line in the mid-1980s was absolute and unequivocal. South Africa's
white regime, which was fiercely opposing the establishment of a government
of national unity with the black majority, was considered so barbarous that
Labour demanded a worldwide economic blockade and the country's diplomatic
isolation. That was also the majority view in the Commonwealth, which fought
battles with Margaret Thatcher over sanctions.
That same Commonwealth takes a rather different view of Mugabe now amid his
outright contempt for SADC's power-sharing agreement. The Commonwealth wants
to welcome back Mugabe to its next conference in two years.
Zimbabwe withdrew from the Commonwealth in 2003 after the organisation
renewed a suspension imposed a year earlier when Mugabe won re-election in a
2002 presidential poll some observers said was rigged.
Analysts say instead of a hard line against his sanctioning of land seizures
and tearing to pieces the global political agreement, it was surprising that
powerful nations were giving only mild rebukes and discreet pressure from
neighbours and the former colonial power.

Mugabe retards progress
"It is clearly not working," said Ronald Shumba, a political commentator.
"Mugabe has retarded progress by refusing to fully implement a power-sharing
agreement that if implemented wholesomely, tilts the balance of power in
favour of Tsvangirai in the government of national unity. This balance of
power represents voting patterns that emerged in the historic March 29
Prime Minister Gordon Brown of Britain said Zimbabwe's power-sharing
government had made some achievements, including raising living standards
and taming hyper-inflation since February. Brown was speaking at the recent
summit of the Commonwealth, which groups 53 countries, mostly former British
"I sincerely hope that by the time of our next meeting in 2011, Zimbabwe
will have made enough progress for us to welcome them back into the
Commonwealth," Brown said.

Appalling Commonwealth invitation
An MDC-M deputy who spoke on condition of anonymity said Brown's attempt to
reward an unreformed dictator by giving him a seat in the Commonwealth was
"appalling and outrageous". But he was defensive about Britain's ability to
act against Mugabe's refusal to equitably share power, lest it be condemned
as neo-colonialist.
Mugabe says the MDC must call for the removal of the restrictive measures
against senior officials in Zanu (PF) before it agrees to implement the
power sharing pact.
"Why the guilt?" said Shumba. "Britain supported economic sanctions against
Ian Smith's Rhodesia for 14 years before Mugabe won power in 1980, bringing
the curtain down on Britain's last African colony. Those sanctions must
remain in place until the pact is fully implemented."

GNU stabilises economy
A unity government formed in February after disputed elections last year has
been credited with stabilising the economy and restoring ties with bilateral
and multilateral partners, ending Mugabe and Zanu (PF)'s isolation policy.
Whitehall's hopes are pinned on Mugabe's neighbours restraining him and the
world desisting from condemning him, what one diplomat called "appeasement
and propitiation."
South Africa's leaders have finally acknowledged the menace. On Monday
another team of high profile facilitators arrived to pick up a progress
report from the negotiators of the three parties after the expiry of a
December 6 deadline set by SADC to fully implement the pact. Zuma has warned
that the continued hold-up in enforcing the pact risks Zimbabwe's
instability, which he said threatens the whole region.
The latest data show that the economy's big end is on tenterhooks and the
Finance minister warned in a national budget last week that politics was
adversely affecting the country's economics.
Maize planting is down and next year's tobacco crop will fall further.
Widespread starvation, especially in the countryside, and a refugee exodus
is expected to burgeon. Mugabe's response is to play on SADC's willingness
to mediate and do anything to stay in power for a fresh term in the next
presidential elections.

A mood of disobedience
A Zanu (PF) oficial said come election time, the party will create what he
calls "a general mood and psychology of obedience" among despairing rural
"If he opts for more terror and rigged elections, he must pay the price,"
warned a senior Western diplomat. "The MDC should be supported and military
intervention should not be ruled out. There is a recent precedent; South
Africa invaded Lesotho to restore order in 1998. Until decisive action is
taken, the whole region is a high-risk area for investors."
The diplomat warned that whatever happens, "Zanu's thugs" will not inherit
Zimbabwe's once fertile earth; the locusts will.
"Chastising Mugabe and massaging his ego with Commonwealth invites will not
do," said Shumba. "Appeasement has failed. Brown must make that clear."


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Zim remains fragile: UN

by Own Correspondent Tuesday 08 December 2009

HARARE - The United Nations (UN) and the Zimbabwean government on Monday
requested US$378 million to provide humanitarian assistance to millions of
people in the country in 2010, with the world body saying the country's
humanitarian situation remains fragile despite some improvement.
"This is a critical moment for the UN and partners to support both
humanitarian and recovery activities in Zimbabwe," said Catherine Bragg, UN
Assistant Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency
Relief Coordinator.
"We hope donors will continue to generously support the people of Zimbabwe.
Although the county's humanitarian situation has improved, it remains
fragile. The improvements are largely attributable to political changes that
positively influenced socio-economic conditions and greater cooperation
between the government of Zimbabwe, humanitarian partners and donors," she
The aid request for 2010 will see agriculture getting US$107 million, health
US$63 million, food aid US$58 million, education US$35 million, water and
sanitation US$46 million and the remainder will cater for nutrition and
other needs.
Despite improvements in food security, the southern African country faces a
substantial national cereal deficit and about 1.9 million people will need
food assistance at the peak of the 2010 hunger season from January to March
According to the UN, almost 343 600 adults and 35 200 children under 15
years urgently need antiretroviral (ARV) treatment out of 1.2 million people
living with HIV/AIDS while child malnutrition remains a challenge, with 33
percent of children under the age of five chronically malnourished and seven
percent suffering from acute malnutrition.
The country's education sector continues to face severe shortages of
essential supplies and a high staff turnover.
Since September 2009, Zimbabwe is facing a cholera outbreak that has spread
to half of its 10 provinces, the UN said.
About six million people remain vulnerable because of the erosion of basic
services and livelihoods following the protracted economic downturn. An
equal number lack access to safe water and sanitation facilities in urban
and rural areas.
The appeal was issued by 76 agencies including UN agencies,
inter-governmental organisations, international and national
non-governmental organisations (NGOs), and community and faith-based
The 2010 Consolidated Appeal Process (CAP) for Zimbabwe remains aligned with
the priorities of the government's Short-Term Economic Recovery Programme
(STERP) and Medium-Term Plan (MTP) and includes early recovery and
"humanitarian plus" interventions.
The 2009 appeal for $719 million received 64 percent of the requested
funding in what some UN diplomats have described as a "very successful
appeal given that most of the major donor nations were affected by the
global financial crisis".
A marked deterioration in existing infrastructure retards meaningful
economic revival, hence the need to combine humanitarian assistance with
support for "humanitarian plus" or early recovery programmes.
"The government, international and national NGOs further highlighted the
improved cooperation between government and the international community, and
also urged donors to support the projects in the appeal.
Zimbabwe is experiencing a gradual shift from humanitarian crisis to
recovery following political changes that positively affected socio-economic
Following the economic downturn and political polarisation that culminated
in the protracted elections of 2008, President Robert Mugabe and Prime
Minister Morgan Tsvangirai finally agreed to form a power-sharing government
last February.
This development led to greater cooperation between the international
humanitarian community and the Zimbabwean authorities, improvement in the
country's socio-economic and humanitarian situation, and improved
humanitarian access to vulnerable populations. - ZimOnline


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Zimbabwe's 'time is coming'

    December 08 2009 at 01:21PM

By Peta Thornycroft

One of President Robert Mugabe's most successful recent propaganda campaigns
is that "sanctions" are responsible for the pitiful state of the economy.

He and his colleagues call the sanctions "illegal" without explaining which
country's laws were broken when the EU and US first decided to punish those
it believes are responsible for extreme political violence, disappearance of
the rule of law and massive looting of public resources.

Every shortage, every dry water tap or every child which goes hungry is
blamed on EU and US "sanctions".

Mugabe's shrill "sanctions" campaign has persuaded some, even loyal
supporters of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), that these sanctions
have in some way destroyed their lives.

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai is repeatedly blamed for imposition of
sanctions. But he had nothing to do with the events that triggered the

Political violence and land invasions started after Mugabe lost a referendum
to the MDC in 2000. The violence roared ahead during the general election in
June that year and continued for the next seven years.

The US moved first.

But it took until December 2001 for Senator Bill Frist to steer a US law,
the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (Zdera), through Congress.

It instructs all US citizens on boards of multilateral lending institutions
to oppose any lines of credit or support to Zimbabwe until the president has
been able to certify that certain conditions pertaining to the rule of law,
democratic elections and legal and transparent land reform have been met.

But at the time of Zdera's passage, Zimbabwe was already ineligible to
receive loans from the IMF and the World Bank's International Development
Association anyway because it was in arrears to those institutions for debt

After it had defaulted to the IMF, few international financial institutions
wanted to lend to or invest in Mugabe's administration, Zdera or no Zdera.

After a visit to the country in March 2009, the IMF noted positive steps
toward fiscal discipline under the unity government and offered to provide
further policy advice.

But it also warned that IMF funding would not be renewed until Zimbabwe
begins to repay its debts.

The initial sanctions, imposed in 2003, ban travel to the United States by
"senior members of the government of Robert Mugabe and others... who
formulate, implement, or benefit from policies that undermine or injure
Zimbabwe's democratic institutions or impede the transition to a multi-party

In 2003, President George Bush also issued an executive order freezing
assets held in the United States by 75 Zimbabwe officials and President
Mugabe's wife, Grace.

Nine companies and commercial farms were added in 2004 and the list was
further expanded in November 2005.

Bush added additional names to the list in 2007 and 2008 and President
Barack Obama renewed the sanctions on March 3, 2009.

The EU also acted against Mugabe's government, imposing targeted sanctions
on 19 members of Zimbabwe's elite and their spouses after pulling the EU
presidential election observer team out of Zimbabwe in February 2002, mainly
because of the political violence.

These "light" sanctions were upgraded by the EU to target 35 Zimbabwean
leaders and have been renewed yearly.

Current EU sanctions include a travel ban on over 160 members and
beneficiaries of the Zanu-PF, an arms embargo and an asset freeze.

In 2002, the British Parliament imposed its own targeted sanctions on
leading members and affiliates of the Zanu-PF regime, as well an arms
embargo and an asset freeze. The UK has imposed travel bans on over 100
members of Zanu-PF and close affiliates of the party.

From September 2002, Australia has implemented targeted autonomous sanctions
against listed Zanu-PF leaders and their close supporters.

These cover restrictions on financial transactions with Zanu-PF leaders,
including senior management officials of state-owned companies.

Australia, like other countries, has also stopped defence links with
Zimbabwe and restricted arms exports and has downgraded
government-to-government links at multilateral forums and cultural links.

In April 2002, the New Zealand government imposed targeted sanctions against
the Mugabe regime.

In July 2005, New Zealand instigated a ban on all sporting teams
representing Zimbabwe, at any level, from entering New Zealand (except those
teams which New Zealand did not have a say in playing here).

Most recently, a ban has been implemented on study in New Zealand by any
Zimbabwean adult children of those individuals subject to a travel ban.

On September 4, 2008, Canada's special economic measures (Zimbabwe)
regulations came into force, banning arms exports to Zimbabwe, freezing
assets of listed Zimbabweans and prohibiting Zimbabwean aircraft from flying
over or landing in Canada.

The largest number of companies affected by all these targeted financial
sanctions are held in the business wing of Zanu-PF, Zidco Holdings.

All the countries and organisations maintaining sanctions continue
humanitarian aid to Zimbabweans and most have increased it as the
humanitarian conditions decline.

In 2002, when these restrictions started being introduced, they were called
"smart " sanctions. Later additions, particularly last year when banks and
parastatals were added, toughened them up significantly.

Among all the economic injuries suffered by Zimbabwe, sanctions became
merely a post-trauma bruise, most economists say, not a blood injury.

How much impact they have had is not quantifiable as even without the
restrictions on loans or trade with listed companies, parastatals or
individuals, economists question what international financier or bank would
have taken the risks of investing in Zimbabwe when it was printing tons of
money, had inflation of more than 200 million percent, and was seizing
white-owned properties and proposing 51 percent "indigenisation" of all

Obama has just renewed restrictions in March. The EU is due to renew them,
alter or lift them when 35 European countries meet to debate them in
Brussels in February.

If ongoing inter party dialogue is jolted into completion of the political
agreement by President Jacob Zuma's team of mediators, some in the MDC will
call for the sanctions to be lifted.

According to German ambassador Albrecht Conze recently, the West's bottom
line to end sanctions and provide government to government donor support is
completion of the constitutional review process.

He pointed to the Friends of Zimbabwe Group of 17 individual western
countries, the EU, the African Development Bank, the UN, and the World Bank
and its declaration in Berlin on October 26 which he said was "calibrated to

The EU and US believe that Zanu-PF leaders on the lists object more to the
visa bans which stop them travelling to Europe and the US than sanctions
against companies and parastatals.

If restrictions are lifted in stages, optimists believe the first to go will
be two significant parastatal companies freed of restrictions, Zimbank and
the parastatal, Agribank.

MDC Finance Minister Tendai Biti wrote to a US congressional staff member
soon after the unity government was established in February, asking him to
assist with lifting restrictions on the two banks.

"If the sanctions are so useless and don't work as so many claim, then why
keep them?" said an MDC leader recently.

"It's the only weapon we have against Zanu-PF," countered another.

"The time is coming when some of the financial restrictions will have to go
so that Zimbabwe can compete for investment, particularly now that the
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe appears to be more under control," said a senior
Western source in Harare.

         This article was originally published on page 11 of Daily News on
December 08, 2009

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Studio 7 is not an outstanding issue

December 8, 2009

By Takarinda Gomo

IT IS not surprising that Zanu-PF negotiators have flagged the issue of
pirate radio stations beaming into Zimbabwe as an outstanding issue. They
are buying time.

What is surprising is that even brilliant lawyers from the MDC formations
continue to waste time negotiating about Studio 7 and SW Radio Africa, which
are lawfully broadcasting from Washington DC and London respectively. The
MDC parties do not even own these stations; neither can they cause them to
be banned because MDC did not set them up.

For all practical purposes, Studio 7 and SW Radio are not pirate stations in
the legal sense of the word. The term "pirate radio" usually refers to
illegal or unregulated radio transmissions. Its etymology can be traced to
the unlicensed nature of the transmission, but historically, there has been
notable use of sea vessels fitting the most common perception of 'pirate' as
broadcasting bases.

In some cases radio stations are deemed legal where the signal originates,
but illegal, where the signal is received. Other broadcasts may be termed
'pirate' due to the nature of their content, its transmission format,
particularly if it fails to transmit its station identification in line with
prescribed regulations.

Studio 7, broadcasts from the Voice of America (VOA), Washington DC, which
is owned by the Government of the United States of America. If the inclusive
government has any issues with content from Studio 7, there are well defined
diplomatic channels that are followed in order to register their complaint.

Under the Vienna Convention, the Zimbabwe Embassy in Washington is free to
write a Note Verbale (the official communication between States that have
established diplomatic relations) to the State Department. In the note the
Zimbabwe Ambassador must give facts and compelling reasons why VOA should
shut Studio 7 down.

The other option is for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Harare, again
through a Note Verbale, summon the US Ambassador to Zimbabwe to their
offices at Munhumutapa Building and make a formal protest.

Both Ambassador Joey Bimha, the Secretary for Foreign Affairs and Minister
of Foreign Affairs, Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, are veterans in Zimbabwe's
foreign services corps. They served as Ambassadors representing Zimbabwe in
Europe. They are aware that the issue of pirate stations cannot be sustained

Small wonder why Bimha hides behind his finger, deluding himself that the
issue will be raised bilaterally at the Zimbabwe Botswana Joint Commission
or at the level of the Sadc Organ on Politics, Defence and Security troika.
It appears, Bimha is simply bluffing or he is just singing for his supper.

Even if a diplomatic note is dispatched, the State Department does not
automatically comply with Zimbabwe's requests, but it will respond, stating
the facts why it will, or will not comply. The Zimbabwe government cannot
dictate to the US Administration and vice versa.

The good lawyers from the MDC and Zanu-PF, who are representing their
respective parties at the current talks, know that relay transmission of
radio signals does not constitute broadcasting. So the Zimbabwe inclusive
government will only be displaying either daftness or intimidation if they
approach the Botswana government to complain about Studio 7.

China and countries in Europe such as Great Britain, France, Germany and,
the Netherlands are running relay transmissions all over Africa and the rest
of the world.

What is illegal under the World Telecommunications Union rules is for any
country to jam frequencies which other stations are transmitting on.
Zimbabwe has been violating this instrument since Studio 7 started
transmitting from VOA in 2003. Zimbabwe has used primitive noise
interference on Medium Wave 909 between 19:00hrs and 20:30hrs every day when
Studio 7 use the VOA frequency to broadcast news, commentary and analysis on

Much to the chagrin of puerile spin doctors at Munhumutapa Building, Harare,
VOA has offered alternative frequencies to which listeners can tune in. And
in its present state of financial dire straits, Zimbabwe cannot jam all
those frequencies at the same time.

Should Zanu-PF and MDC negotiators really waste time negotiating this as an
"outstanding issue"? There is no issue here, neither is it outstanding,
because if they fool themselves and reach an agreement over that issue, it
is not binding to the nation that hosts Studio 7, which is the United States
of America.

Can someone ask the negotiators why the inclusive government has allowed the
British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) to broadcast from Harare, or Cable
News Network (CNN) to report from Zimbabwe and then have the temerity to say
VOA is a pirate station?

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Phony Issues Cloud Zimbabwe Unity Talks

The Following is an Editorial Reflecting the views of the US Government

06 December 2009
Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai addresses a rally east of Harare Sunday, saying President Mugabe should respect the MDC as an equal partner 08 Nov 2009
Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai
South African mediators are meeting with negotiators for Zimbabwe's feuding political parties in a renewed effort to resolve the issues dividing the nation's transitional government and hindering its recovery.

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said the talks will wrap up successfully before the deadline set by the Southern African Development Community, the regional intergovernmental group that brought the parties together in the Global Political agreement, or GPA,  that created the transitional government. But if President Robert Mugabe's negotiating team continues to press issues that Prime Minister Tsvangirai and other opposition party members have no control over, reaching consensus may be impossible. And given Mugabe's track record in dealing with his opponents that unfortunately may be the point.

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe (file photo)
Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe (file photo)
The Mugabe-controlled Herald newspaper in Harare quoted one negotiator as saying the talks have foundered on 4 major points. These are naming a new attorney general and new governor of the country's Reserve Bank; lifting international sanctions imposed on Mugabe and members of his circle; and silencing foreign media outlets broadcasting into Zimbabwe. Of these, only the ministerial posts are within the power of those at the bargaining table, and they are Mugabe's representatives.

Lifting the sanctions is a familiar theme in the Mugabe mantra, proof if anything of their effectiveness in making him and other key members of the ZANU-PF party understand the costs of their destructive policies. The European Union, United States, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and Switzerland, all of whom have targeted sanctions in place, have repeatedly responded that in supporting the GPA they expect actions, not promises toward real reform.

Foreign broadcasters such as the Voice of America's Studio Seven and London-based SW Radio Africa, among others - "pirate radio stations" in the Mugabe lexicon - also are a long-running irritant for Mugabe that he has irresponsibly added to the unity talks. Foreign broadcasters are forced to operate outside of Zimbabwe because there are no free media there. Independent radio is banned in a monopoly of government-sponsored news, information and opinion provided by the ZBC.

If the Mugabe regime really wants foreign-based stations to stop broadcasting into Zimbabwe, let it release its grip on the media there, liberalize the press and broadcasting environment, and domestic radio stations will flourish.

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Survival farming

Photo: Save the Children
Draught-power is a luxury most in Zimbabwe can't afford
CHIVI, 8 December 2009 (IRIN) - Poor farmers in the dusty village of Mandamabwe, in Masvingo Province, southeastern Zimbabwe, have resorted to a groundbreaking activity to salvage what they can of their 2010 harvest.

"We call it chera udye [dig or starve], meaning one must dig the sun-hardened earth with bare hands and then plant the limited seed available. If you fail to do that you will die of hunger," said Evelyn Imbayago, 44, a mother of four.

Every day, on her way to tending a tiny plot of germinating groundnut plants, she walks past a large portion of her land that lies fallow. This year she had no fertilizer and only a small amount of seed; there are no oxen to pull the plough. So, to make what she does have count, she has dug a shallow hole with a hoe for each seed, she told IRIN.

Lack of draught-power and essential inputs are common problems in the drought-prone region, and this year's growing season promises to be a testing one for most farmers in the area.

Sauros Debwe, 52, who also farms in Mandamabwe, told IRIN that the farmers who had oxen now demanded as much as US$25 to till a single acre (0.4 hectare), which was unaffordable.

"In the past we could pay those who had animals for draught-power in kind, but this time there has not been much in the granaries - we had to depend on grain assistance provided by [donors] to survive. Now there is nothing to spare and exchange for tilling."

Debwe said most farmers could not afford to wait until assistance arrived, and had been digging small planting holes in anticipation of the first rains.

Expect a rough season

This year Imbayago decided to switch from maize, the traditional staple, to groundnuts, which thrive in the sandy soil, even without chemical fertilizers. "I can sell the groundnuts or make peanut butter for sale, then use the money to buy mealie-meal [maize-meal]," she said.

She has not received any assistance this year. "Our traditional donors have not been forthcoming, while government has also failed to assist since the rains started falling. I really don't know how I will cope."

Last season, when most subsistence farmers struggled to feed their families and aid agencies had to step in with food assistance, she received support from Care International, a humanitarian aid organization working to enhance food security and alleviate poverty in the area. The seeds and fertilizer they gave her got her and her family through the year.

After months of procrastination, the Zimbabwe government announced a new input subsidy scheme in November. According to the state-run Herald newspaper, the initiative would make seed available at a highly reduced price of US$1 per kilogram of maize or sorghum seed, and US$7 for a 50kg bag of fertilizer through the Grain Marketing Board (GMB), a parastatal monopoly.

"We don't know whether that will help," said Kainos Muponda, the Mandamabwe village head. "Not many of us have that kind of money. Moreover, one has to travel to Masvingo town, where the GMB depot is, incurring additional costs in fares and carriage."

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has estimated that some 1.9 million Zimbabweans will need food assistance during the peak hunger season from January to March 2010.

OCHA launched an international appeal on 7 December 2009 for US$378 million to buy food and medicines, and bolster health, education and sanitation in the economically crippled country. 


[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

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Farmers, business as usual

Written by The Zimbabwean
Monday, 07 December 2009 19:59
CHEGUTU - A group of white farmers southwest of Harare said on Saturday that
they were working as usual, even though most of the white-owned farms around
have been under siege from marauding mobs of farm invaders.
"Keep farming" was how one white farmer described his plans. He discovered
recently that a mob was targeting his farm for seizure, but he said he
planned to file a legal challenge.
"I don't think they'll acquire it this year," he said. "The formalities of
the legal process will take so long, we'll be harvesting tobacco by then."
Several farms here are under siege by marauding land invaders trying to
force the few remaining white farmers off their land. Reports suggest the
thugs are splitting up and re-grouping on different farms, the fact that
they are being 'bussed in' pointing to a higher level of coordination with
access to resources beyond the reach of a typical poverty-stricken
opportunistic 'settler'.
Only one farm in the tobacco-growing region south of Chegutu, about100km
southwest of Harare, has not been listed for seizure, farmers have said.

Tobacco, a major earner
Tobacco is Zimbabwe's largest cash crop. Nationally, the tobacco industry
employs about 200 000 people and is a major earner of desperately needed
foreign currency.
The Zanu (PF) wing of the government's plan to seize the remaining 400 of
the country's formerly 4 500 white-owned commercial farms before November
has thrown a wrench into farmers' plans, leaving them uncertain as to
whether they will be able to plant.
Quickly listing farms for seizure is the Zanu (PF)'s answer to an often
violent squatter movement led by militant veterans of Zimbabwe's liberation
There are allegations that Edna Madzongwe - President of the House of
Senate - is linked to the upsurge in harassment here and possibly
orchestrating the invasions. Mudzongwe has already seized Aitape and
Stockdale Citrus Estate. The rumours are that she is desperate to acquire
another farm close-by before any agreements regarding land are formalised
between South Africa and Zimbabwe.
At Umvovo Farm - the family have been under continuous intimidation. In
addition, Wakefield Farm, owned by Ken Bartholomew and close to Umvovo Farm,
is under siege. The Beatties are vigorously shrugging off the fierce
challenge to their property.

Tensions run high
Tensions are running dangerously high here on Umvovo Farm where the
Beattie's daughter and son-in-law, Simon and Sarah Jane Keagal were being
held hostage - locked in and denied permission to leave the farm - until
such time as they agreed to take all possessions off the farm.
Rainbow's End Farm, owned by Doug and Charmaine Beattie, is also under
At all the farms under siege, Madzongwe's name is featuring prominently
together with Clever Kunonga, former Lands Officer in Chegutu. Sylvester
Hunyani is the head of the goon squad terrorising Chegutu. He is leading the
farm invasions with his wife. Hunyani's brother-in-law, Nicolas, is also
spearheading the farm invasions here.
The marijuana-smoking thugs are reportedly earning US$160 per month for
spearheading the dastardly evictions. They say they are veterans of the
liberation struggle that brought independence to Zimbabwe 29 years ago.
The veterans have led forcible occupations of 4000 white-owned farms since
February 2000, demanding that the government redistribute more white farms
to poor blacks.
Violence stemming from the occupations is intensifying dangerously here.
Many others have been beaten and intimidated in a campaign of terror that
has left all the farmers and farm workers here unwilling to speak on the
record about their experiences.

Land reform done properly
The goon squads say evicting all white farmers from this land before the
close of the year was the motive.
"Logistically, they've got quite a big task ahead of them," one farmer said.
"People have the impression that we are very anti this (land reform)
programme. We are not, we would just like it done properly," the farmer
Both white farm owners and the farm workers here said if the thugs plod
ahead, it will open a Pandora's box of economic and social problems that had
been addressed with the formation of an inclusive government in February
between President Mugabe and his foe, now Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.
One farmer pointed to a 500-hectare wheat farm adjacent to communal
farmland. The property line stuck out as hectares of green wheat - growing
with irrigation and fertilizers - which abruptly ended where the communal
land began.
On communal soil, no one actually owns the land. Regional leaders allocate
property between families, but without a title to the property few have the
collateral to win the bank loans needed to buy fertilizer or to maintain
irrigation systems.
Under the government's current land-reform scheme, highly productive
commercial farm have become communal lands. Economists fear that if the
Prime Minister, who has insisted on a halt of the farm seizures did not
stand firm, it will mean even less domestically grown food, fewer exports
and less foreign currency, which Zimbabwe desperately needs to pay for fuel
and electricity brought in from abroad.
Farm workers here said they didn't want their employers' farms seized
because they preferred the security of employment to the uncertainty of
small-scale independent farming.
Workers on farms here also said the government's land reform programme
ignored their needs.
"I want to stay where there are schools and a clinic," said one farm worker,
adding that his employer paid all his family's school and medical expenses,
benefits the cash-strapped government could not provide.
Despite the fears raised by the land reform scheme, farmers here said they
thought this was the beginning of the end of the land grab.

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Zimbabwe Inclusive Government Watch : Issue 11

Clever KunongaNovember saw news on Zimbabwe dominated by the on-going political differences between the Zimbabwe's three main parties. More than a year after it was signed, the Global Political Agreement (GPA), which was meant to address the many crises facing Zimbabwe, has yet to be fully implemented. In amongst the many media reports discussing the persistent tensions and debates between the parties, there were other reports reflecting the unavoidable reality that Zimbabwe is still a nation in turmoil. These news reports do not speak of failures to implement the process, but point instead to brazen breaches of sections in the agreement.

An overview of the November news items highlighting breaches of the GPA throws up repeated mentions of wide-ranging human rights abuses involving Zimbabwe's soldiers.

At the start of the month, The Zimbabwean newspaper described a horrific incident at the Chiadzwa Diamond Fields, where army personnel took it upon themselves to 'punish' three men who had entered a secure area. The men were taken to the army base where they were severely beaten. The next day they were taken back to the mines where they were reported to have been forced to carry four corpses (the bodies of civilians allegedly killed by the army) from the mines and back to the bases.

Christopher Mushowe, former Zanu PF Minister of Transport who was this year controversially appointed to be the Governor of Manicaland, was accused this month of instructing soldiers to harass and intimidate villagers in Muromo, Mutare West constituency. The soldiers have been active, and villagers have complained and pointed out the partisan nature of the harassment, saying that those citizens who are seen to attend MDC-T functions and rallies have been specifically targeted.

Soldiers have also been accused of targeting villagers in Chivi (Masvingo Province). According to one news report: "Chivi villagers were [...] forced to abandon their day-to-day duties to attend [...] meetings called by soldiers from 4.1 infantry battalion in Masvingo." The meetings were to force villagers in these areas to accept the Kariba Draft constitution as Zimbabwe's new constitution - this being the draft favoured by the Zanu PF party. In another constitution related incident, a man wearing a "No To Kariba Draft" T-shirt was attacked by soldiers who tore off his shirt and beat him using their hands and booted feet.

An orphanage in Bulawayo received an unwelcome and unpleasant visit by soldiers who accused the authorities at the centre of harbouring MDC activists. It was reported that the soldiers were armed with AK-47 rifles, they arrived in an army truck, and they apparently ransacked Thuthuka Orphanage, beating up orphans in the process.

In Banket, Father Wolfgang Thamm, a priest in his late 60s, was viciously assaulted by a soldier at a roadblock:

The armed man ripped off his glasses and gave him a full punch to the right eye [...] He was then hauled out of the bakkie, punched again and shoved into a large muddy puddle, where he was kicked in the stomach twice and beaten again. They then used a container to pour muddy water over him from head to toe, until even his shoes were full of mud. He was then told to get out of there.

The GPA demands that "all state organs and institutions strictly observe the principles of the Rule of Law" and that "laws and regulations governing state organs and institutions are strictly adhered to and those violating them be penalised without fear or favour". The law does not permit Zimbabwean soldiers to beat orphans or attack elderly priests at roadblocks. The GPA also specifically requires state organs and institutions to and "remain non-partisan and impartial" - the use of soldiers by Zanu PF loyalists to campaign for acceptance of the Kariba Draft is a blatant violation of this clause.

There was much made in November news reports about so-called "pirate" radio stations operating outside Zimbabwe, with increasing pressure and calls from the Zanu PF party for them to be 'shut down'. These demands ignore some fundamental points about the media environment in Zimbabwe, and again, the ZIG monitoring project highlighted breaches which illustrate why, even now, the "pirate" stations still provide a service to information starved Zimbabwean citizens.

Percentage share of breachesIn early November the media reported on a potentially serious air accident: one of Zimbabwe's Chinese-made MA60 passenger planes crashed into a warthog on take-off. It took the emergency services five minutes to reach the plane but, in an act which exemplifies the suppression of freedom of expression and denial of news to Zimbabwean citizens, the rescue team were beaten to the scene by a contingent of secret police, "whose first act was to arrest two passengers for taking photographs". The two passengers were interrogated until 1am in the morning and were eventually released, but without their cameras.

If photographing a plane that crashed into a warthog is enough to attract arrest and intense interrogation, it is not difficult to understand why it was reported in November that journalists within Zimbabwe avoid investigative journalism. The Zimbabwe Independent assistant editor Dumisani Muleya was quoted as saying that Zimbabwean journalists should weigh the excitement of publishing a ground breaking story against the cost of exposing the murky activities of powerful individuals and organisations in society [...] because they did not know what would befall them if they wrote controversial but revealing stories.

Journalists who are aware of terrible atrocities and want to honour their mandate to the public only need to look to the experiences of The Zimbabwe Independent Editor, Vincent Kahiya and News Editor, Constantine Chimakure to get a sense of what might befall them. Both men were arrested for publishing a story that exposed the role of named CIO agents and police officers in the highly publicised abductions of human rights activists. It's worth noting that one of the abductees, Jestina Mukoko, has since won a case that acknowledges her human rights were violated and that she was viciously tortured. Despite this, Kahiya and Chimakure's ordeal drags on: in November their case was further remanded to February 2010 pending a constitutional challenge. Journalists have reason to be fearful, and this obviously impacts on the quality and type of information Zimbabwean citizens have access to via the media.

These tensions are not limited to the independent media: employees of the state-controlled media, much maligned for its partisan and biased reporting, have expressed dissatisfaction and concern at the amount of power wielded over their work. An Open Society Institute of South Africa report released in November revealed that journalists, editors, and board members were unhappy with the control that Robert Mugabe's spokesman, George Charamba, had over their affairs and that some were 'afraid of him':

One journalist who refused to be named said that Charamba was running the corporation like his personal fiefdom and this was demoralising staff as they felt that the core business of the broadcaster was no longer taking precedence [...] All this has made journalists believe that whatever they do they have to be answerable to the government or individuals in the ministry rather than the general public.

If it is recognised and understood that the role of the media is to provide impartial, objective and factual information to Zimbabweans citizens, then it is only fair to argue that the role of "pirate" radio stations has to be considered in the light of Zimbabwe's broader media environment. The examples cited above are drawn from reports in November alone, and these are enough to point to a fundamental problem within Zimbabwe. It is reasonable to suggest that external radio stations currently broadcast news into a country where the news circulated is limited or not trusted. One could argue that addressing the media issues within Zimbabwe - issues which impact on the personal security of journalists and the integrity of their broader profession - is of far greater significance to the fundamental rights of Zimbabwean citizens than calls for the dissolution of "pirate" radio stations.

This issue has primarily discussed breaches of the GPA involving soldiers and Zimbabwe's suffocated media environment. The scope of this mailing does not permit extensive discussion of the other breaches that occurred in November. These, plus links to original sources for all cases mentioned above, are available online at Brief examples of other breaches occurring in November have been provided below.

Please note: ZIG Watch Issue 12 will be mailed at the end of January 2010 to accommodate the holiday period

Zanu PF Threatens To Interfere In Relief Food Distribution
RadioVOP: 02/11/2009

The Zanu PF executive in Chimanimani has threatened that no relief food will be distributed in the area without the presence of the party's members. Secretary for External Affairs in the youth league, Joshua Sako, is said to have said this at a Chimanimani rural district council meeting. [...] An official of Save the Children, who spoke to Radio VOP strictly on condition of anonymity, said his organisation will pull out of the area if the directive is enforced. "We will be definitely pull out if politicians are allowed to interfere with our operations. We have our own strict and open way of identifying beneficiaries of aid and we will not succumb to politicians's wishful orders," he said


MDC Living In Fear In Zaka
RadioVOP: 17/11/2009

Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) provincial officials here on Tuesday said they were living in perpetual fear following abductions of their members in recent weeks. [...] "The general membership in the province is now in a state of shock. We are receiving reports that some of our supporters are being persecuted by war veterans, soldiers and Zanu PF youths," he said.


Four men survive planned execution - ROHR
Restoration of Human Rights (ROHR) Zimbabwe: 19/11/2009

Four MDC activists from Muzarabani south have fled their homes after they were tipped of a death threat on their lives following a resolution to wipe out all MDC party position holding activist was passed from a ZANU PF meeting that was held on Friday the 13th of November at Chawarura business centre in Muzarabani. [...] Kiswell Masimbisa, MDC district secretary for Muzarabani South told ROHR Zimbabwe that six men, two of them armed with guns stormed his home the night of the ZANU PF meeting around 12 midnight looking for him. The six men gang is said to have paid a visit to Masimbisa's other three colleagues Jackson Rumero- district vise chairman, Stefan Sado- organizing secretary and Joram Frank- director of elections but could not find them at home.


Tortured MDC employee applies for bail after charges dropped
SW Radio Africa (ZW): 19/11/2009

The MDC transport manager, who was severely tortured after he was abducted by state security agents last month, was finally allowed to apply for bail on Thursday, after serious charges laid against him were dropped this week. [...] Bail could be the only way Gwezere will be able to receive private medical care, care he urgently needs after being severely tortured while in the custody of his abductors. His lawyers have been fighting for Gwezere to be seen by private doctors and transferred to a clinic for treatment. But Gwezere is still being denied the necessary care, in what his lawyers say is a 'calculated' and 'deliberate' act by the state.


Consultation Period on Constitution cut
Zimbabwe Independent, The (ZW): 19/11/2009

Public consultations on the crafting of a new constitution are now expected to start in January, with a referendum pencilled in for September - cutting by nine months the timeframe for the constitution-making process set out in the Global Political Agreement.


State Invokes Act To Keep MDC Transport Manager In Custody
RadioVOP: 20/11/2009

The State has invoked the notorious section 121 of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act (CPEA) to deny Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) transport manager Pascal Gwezere, who is being accused of stealing 20 AK47 riffles and a shotgun from an army barracks, his freedom. High Court Judge Justice Charles Hungwe had granted Gwezere a US$500 bail. Tawanda Zvekare, representing the state, invoked the section , saying to appeal against the judgment. The State is given seven days to appeal against a judgment by invoking section 121 of the CPEA and the suspects will have to remain in custody during the same period.


Lands Officer Kunonga leading a seige on another farm in Chegutu 26/11/2009

26 November 2009: Lands officer Kunonga along with invader Hanyani and other thugs arrived early at the Beattie's home early in the morning to demand that the Beattie's vacate their home. A report was made to police. At time of writing the situation is very threatening and Chegutu police still refuse to stop the harassment. Strategic fires have been lit around the thatched double storey homestead and the threat of being burnt out is very real. The member in charge Chegutu Police Station, Inspector Zengeni, the stood down lands officer Kunonga and Edna Madzongwe are all allegedly involved in this lawless attack.


Mahoso invades Mutare farm
Zimbabwean, The (ZW): 27/11/2009

President Robert Mugabe's former chief media policeman Tafataona Mahoso has invaded a commercial farm near Mutare, giving the white owner only 48 hours to vacate the property that had been his home for years. [...] Earlier Bezuidenhout had accepted a government offer to subdivide his farm between himself and state-appointed "settlers", an arrangement government officials assured the farmer would allow him to continue farming. But that was until Mahoso turned up demanding the piece that Bezuidenhout had kept after subdivision of his farm. Mahoso did not answer his phone when The Zimbabwean on Sunday tried to contact him last Friday for comment on the matter.


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Living in fear and despair

08 December 2009
Emily Mooshoo*

NEW FORM OF EVIL: Zimbabwean women who cross the border into South Africa
face bleak prospects, with the incidents like the sort that has befallen the
writer a common occurrence among black African immigrants.
She left one form of imprisonment in Zim for another

"INTONI ingxaki?" That is what the taxi driver said to me after he had
repeatedly spoken to me in isiXhosa since I had first hopped into the taxi.

I usually just ignore them. I say where I am going, give them the correct
change and keep quiet. But this time, there was no chance of that happening.

As I sat in the taxi my mind flashed back to the day I left Zimbabwe for
South Africa. Coming from the dire situation in my country, South Africa
seemed to be the land of opportunity, and I was desperate for a chance at a
normal life.

I thought I'd just tell the driver I'm a foreigner and he would leave me
alone. But that didn't work. "Uyathetha?" "Uyakhuluma", "Wabulabula?" None
of these languages was my mother tongue; what was I going to say? The
Coloured man next to me, in his heavy Capetonian accent, said, "Driver, can't
you tell she's not from here, man?"

As the taxi stopped to pick up another passenger, the driver turned to me
and asked "Sisi, where are you from?" This was the worst question I could
possibly be asked. I am a born and bred Zimbabwean, and am as proud as can
be - or at least I used to be. But since I left home in 2006, I am not sure
about exactly who I am or where I am from.

When I left, my heart felt like it would stop at any minute for the entire
journey, there was no time to catch my breath. There were so many of us
running away from what had come to seem like a foreign place, not the place
we had grown up in, our home.

We were running away from the torture, poverty, starvation and exploitation,
in search of anything remotely better.

While I have never felt like I belonged here in South Africa, I have always
felt that I was safe. At least that's what I thought, until I heard
screaming in the townships, and I saw the Somalis run for their lives. The
word travelled fast that "they were after us next". What had we done wrong

This was supposed to be our only hope, our chance to have a decent life; but
now we were being blamed for Aids, drugs, crime ... they say the men took
their wives, and now we must all go back to where we came from.

The apprehension I experience here in South Africa is different from what I
felt at home. I do not have to hustle for food or for a job, because such
things are readily available.

Instead, I have to hustle my way out of landing up at the police station or
being deported, or worse, bumping into someone who realises I am a Kwere
Kwere and decides to show me that I do not belong.

Whenever an official of some sort asks for my papers, I always ask in return
if there is anything I can do for him. The issue surrounding my status in
this country disappears after simply performing a few "favours" in a store
room or in a dark alley. The darker the place, the better - that way I don't
have to see his face, and as soon as it is over I can go about my business
until the next time .

I used to have hopes and dreams that I would come to this country and be
welcomed with open arms. I dreamt that we would no longer hustle to survive,
that we would all be able to be free to work and live in this new South
Africa. Instead, I left one form of imprisonment for another.

If I had remained in Zimbabwe, I would have had to worry about what and when
l would eat, I would worry about my home, the son I left with my parents,
and when I would get a decent job so that I could take care of them.

Here, I worry about how I will send them money or when I will see them
again. I dread the next time that I am noticed as a foreigner, and I find
myself using my body to buy my freedom, while losing my dignity bit by bit.

So when taxi drivers ask me, "Intoni ingxaki?", which means "What is wrong
with you?" in isiXhosa, do I say that I am just trying to get to a
destination? Or do I tell him that I am a victim of political violence and
economic turmoil? Do I keep quiet for my own safety and hope that he

Either way, he won't realise and probably will never understand what he is
asking me, and why I find it so difficult to give him an answer.

*Not her real name.

# This story is part of the "I" Stories series produced by the Gender Links
Opinion and Commentary Service for the 16 Days of Activism on Gender

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The Cost of Tyranny

It is now ten years since the collapse of the Zimbabwe economy got under way
in earnest in 1999. It actually started in 1997 but only really began to
slide two years later when the effect of policy changes took root. It is
perhaps time that we looked back on this lost decade and ask ourselves what
sort of price have we paid?

The numbers are astonishing - if you assume an average potential growth of 5
per cent in GDP over this decade then the actual cost in terms of lost GDP
earnings is over $76 billion. In human terms, life expectancies have halved
and over 3 million people have died before they would have died in the
decade before.

For South Africa, the collapse of Zimbabwe has cost over $43 billion or 350
billion Rand and that estimate is a third lower than the cost estimated by
Tony Blair when he visited South Africa three years ago. The crisis has cost
the region perhaps a million jobs - a total that rivals the job losses
attributable to the recent global melt down in financial markets.

In human terms the collapse has been nothing short of a catastrophe - a
third of our population has left the country - nearly 4 million going to
neighbouring States. About half a million people have lost their jobs and
nearly two million people displaced internally. Absolute poverty is now the
norm with average Zimbabweans receiving less that a dollar a day on which to
subsist - the international measure of living below the level required for
essential needs. This is confirmed by the fact that over 70 per cent of the
national population was being supplied with their basic food needs at the
beginning of this year.

On Sunday I attended a meeting where I was told of an incident where a woman
encountered a man who was clearly insane wandering about a shopping centre.
She was told he was a former member of the security forces who had been
involved in torture. I understand there are thousands who are haunted by the
crimes they have committed under State direction.

The consequences of the genocide in 1983/87 in many areas of Matabeleland
have not been addressed and remain as a shadow over many communities. The
effects of Murambatsvina in 1995 when 1,2 million people were displaced by a
State campaign to force people back into the rural areas. Thousands died in
the aftermath and hundreds of thousands are still homeless.

All of these are the consequences of a political tyranny that has sought to
defend its hold on power and privilege. While the country slid into poverty
and collapse accompanied by joblessness, homelessness and despair, a small
minority who came to power in 1980, have become wealthy beyond their
imaginings. They shop in Dubai and Johannesburg and holiday on the ski
slopes of Europe. Their children go to the finest Universities and schools
in the world. Many have homes in Zimbabwe that would do the wealthy in the
west proud.

They conduct a clever and professional campaign to cover up their crimes.
In offices in Toronto, London, Washington and Johannesburg, highly paid
experts counter the attempts by the victims in Zimbabwe to tell their
stories. Dozens of websites spew out their propaganda and people with false
names correspond across the globe. Inside Zimbabwe they are terrified of any
independent sources of news and information. The Prime Ministers news
letter, launched this year in an attempt to counter a savage media campaign
run by State agencies inside Zimbabwe, is feared even though it is by no
means propaganda.

Attempts to reform the media and allow new broadcasting and TV channels have
been met with total resistance even though they agreed to the reforms in the
GPA. Only 12 per cent of the reforms negotiated over two years under the
facilitation of SADC have been implemented in 9 months of political
squabbling. No progress on democratic conditions for elections, no progress
on the rule of law, freedom of assembly and association, no progress on the
enforcement of contract law and respect for property rights, no progress on
media reform.

Instead we are faced with a flood of propaganda about "pirate" radio
stations, "sanctions" (shopping restrictions) and "regime change"; as if
elections are not all about regime change by democratic means. In place of
real reform we continue to see harassment of the political opposition,
illegal arrests and prosecution, the use of the legal system, (not for
justice) as a mean of suppression. Political violence continues across the
country with thousands of militia deployed and active and communities
fearful of a knock on the door at midnight.

We are waiting, like everyone, for some news of the discussions that have
been taking place over the past two weeks. These talks were not about
negotiations - they were about a time table for implementing what all the
Parties have already agreed and signed up to in the GPA. Why they have taken
so long is a mystery to me - what is there to talk about? They signed up to
the deal, all that remains is to get on with the job of implementing the
agreement and in full.

It is obvious that once again we in the MDC are being asked to compromise.
Quite frankly it is difficult to see any reason why we should. We won the
2008 election - hands down, we clearly control two thirds of the country
through local authorities. Everyone knows full well that in a genuine
election with free and fair conditions that the opposition to the MDC would
be miniscule. I cannot see us compromising on any of the more substantive
issues but you can be sure there will be a number of peripheral ones which
they will trumpet.

We have suffered under a tyranny for 30 years. Believe me we are quite
prepared to suffer for a bit longer if at the end we can elect a leadership
that we can trust with our future under a system that will allow us to
dismiss them if they fail us or abuse our trust. After all that is what
democracy is all about.

It is raining and the crop season has started well.  We were able to get a
small quantity of seed and fertilizer into the hands of 700 000 families in
the rural areas - enough for them to feed themselves if we get a decent
season. As Mr. Tsvangirai said last week, pray for a decent Christmas for
all of us - we deserve and need it.

Eddie Cross
8th December 2009


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Readers enquire "Why pick on Mugabe?"

After my editorial was published yesterday, I found that it had been picked
up elsewhere in the world and that it was gaining the attention of various
people scattered all over the globe.

And I received a few (albeit the distinct minority) emails from interested
people demanding that I explain myself. I was asked to explain just why I
should daily write about Mugabe and his destructive rule.

"Sidney" who claimed to be from Harare displayed his lack of schooling by
peppering his email to me with horrendously bad spelling - but he wanted to
know why, if I live in the UK, was Mugabe's rule the focus of my internet
activities? (I am not about to re-publish the second part of his email which
went to task on my heritage and made all manner of threats on me and my
person. Suffice to say, my return email bounced.)

Well, if "Sidney" should ever read this, then he will hopefully understand.

Eleven years ago my family were contributing to the economy in gainful
employment, when the illusion of security was viciously yanked out from
underneath us when my wife was very nearly carjacked outside our house in
Harare in broad daylight.

That was the straw that broke the camel's back - and within six weeks we had
left the country that we called "home". We sold everything that we owned to
purchase the air tickets along with travel documents - and that came to a
grand total of ZW$42000 - not much in the grand scheme of things - but we
were also allowed to take a total of £300 per person with us when we left -
that, and 20 kilograms of luggage each.

How does one work out what to take and what to leave?

I left an awful lot of my life behind when we flew out just before Christmas
of 1998. Just about the only thing that left intact were my memories.

Arriving in the United Kingdom was a great big shock! And eleven years later
we realise that it is a consumer market based upon high-end technology and
very little else.

How I long for the days of Zimbabwe - before Mugabe decided to take the
country to the edge and give it a good push!

Another email from someone signing themselves as "Sangoma" intimated to me
that my motives for writing about Zimbabwe and Mugabe were racist.

My reply email asked him to give me just one example of my racist agenda.
That email remains unanswered.

When I write about Zimbabwe, I am very careful not to be racist, incite
racial or religious hatred, whilst I will not use bad or foul language.
Zimbabwe is an emotive subject, and my continued writings on the subject are
based on just three letters on my Zimbabwean national identity card.

The letters are "CIT" which mean that I am a registered citizen of that
country - regardless of my English birth.

I am reminded of the words of a song that might have been sung by the late
Bob Marley: "No matter where you come from, as long as you are a black man,
you are an African".

Paradoxically, my need to be Zimbabwean is driven by the utter devastation
wrought in that country by one man who is not even a full Zimbabwean

If Mugabe is not a full Zimbabwean, then why can I not consider myself a
Zimbabwean and write about the destruction of the jewel of Africa?

When you point a finger at others, remember that three fingers are pointing
back at yourself.

Robb WJ Ellis
The Bearded Man

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