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Zimbabwe minister arrested as cabinet sworn in
The future of Zimbabwe's power-sharing government was thrown into doubt even before it was sworn in yesterday when a senior MDC leader who was a designated deputy minister was arrested.
Zimbabwe minister arrested as cabinet sworn in
Zimbabwe's opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai (Left), head of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), is sworn in by President Robert Mugabe Photo: AFP/GETTY

After several hours' delay, a ceremony was held for the new cabinet, with members of both the Movement for Democratic Change and Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF taking their oaths of office.

The MDC accused Mr Mugabe of unilaterally trying to give Zanu-PF seven extra ministerial posts, which could destroy the slim one-seat cabinet majority the then opposition had been granted under the power- sharing agreement.

The move, and the arrest of Roy Bennett who was due to become deputy agriculture minister, cast an immediate pall over the prospects of the unity government succeeding and call into question Mr Mugabe's sincerity and that of his party.

Mr Mugabe said: "When I say, I am committed I mean it. When I say I want to work with you sincerely and honestly, I mean it. I want to believe when my colleagues say the same, I should believe it."

Hardliners within Zanu-PF are said to be adamantly opposed to the formation of the coalition government, insisting that the MDC must continue to be excluded from power, amid fears that the former opposition will be sidelined from within the new authority.

Mr Mugabe said he will work "sincerely and honestly" with members of the national unity government, including those of the opposition,

Ever since Mr Mugabe lost the first round of the presidential poll last March the Joint Operations Command, which brings together the heads of all branches of the military, has been said to have taken over Zanu-PF's reins behind the scenes. They will have been infuriated by the sight of Morgan Tsvangirai, the MDC leader, being sworn in as prime minister earlier this week – and were conspicuous by their absence from the ceremony.

"The arrest mirrors divisions among the top brass of the long-ruling party who are not happy about losing power," said Daniel Makina, a Zimbabwe analyst at the University of South Africa. "Some of them are against the change." Mr Bennett, the MDC's treasurer-general and a white Zimbabwean whose coffee farm was seized by a Robert Mugabe loyalist in 2003, had been named as the deputy minister of agriculture.

When he was told that deputy ministers would be sworn in at a later date he decided to return to his home in South Africa, where he has been exiled for the last three years. His aircraft was about to fly out of Prince Charles airport, a small airfield near Harare, when the pilot was ordered to return to the terminal.

"Police from Law and Order [a unit notorious for human rights abuses] Harare took him off the aircraft and have taken him away," said an eyewitness.

He was later said to have been taken to Mutare, in eastern Zimbabwe.

It was not clear what accusations he faced, but there are outstanding charges of illegally leaving the country against him relating to his flight into exile.

"It is very disturbing. I don't understand the rationale," said Innocent Gonese, MDC's chief whip in parliament. "It undermines confidence in the all-inclusive government." Mr Mugabe has had to try to balance the factions in Zanu-PF with his cabinet appointments, in which he was forced to sack or demote several figures. But he put staunch hardliners into the defence, home affairs, and national security ministry, indicating defiance within Zanu-PF.

Emmerson Mnangagwa, the architect of the Gukuruhundi massacres of the 1980s and a putative successor to Mr Mugabe, was given the defence portfolio, which will give him influence with the military.

But Didymus Mutasa, who as lands minister oversaw the thin veneer of legality Mr Mugabe sought to throw over the land seizure programme, was demoted to minister of state.

Today's events suggest that despite the formation of the unity government, alleviating the suffering of ordinary Zimbabweans, who face a shattered economy, a worthless currency, and a cholera epidemic, remains far off.

"The arrest bodes badly for the new order," said Sphamandla Zondi, of the Institute of Global Dialogue in Pretoria.

Mr Tsvangirai, though, was more optimistic before the detention, arguing that Zimbabwe was moving beyond Mr Mugabe.

"Unfortunately people are preoccupied with Mugabe as a person," he told The Guardian. "They need to get over it. This has gone beyond Mugabe.

"People need to stop talking about him as the only issue. Mugabe is part of the problem but he is also part of the solution. He is not the obstacle we are now facing," he said.

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Alert: Roy Bennett Arrested (updated 21:30)

February 13th, 2009

* Latest update at the top:

Update - Media Statement released by the MDC: 21:30

Roy Bennett must be released unconditionally and unharmed immediately. All state institutions must respect the rule of law, human rights, the spirit and letter of the Global Political Agreement and conduct themselves in such a manner that gives confidence to the inclusive government, so that all parties may be able to attend to the real issues of uplifting the lives of the people of Zimbabwe. The restoration of people’s freedoms, human rights and democratisation are some of the basic deliverables of the Inclusive government. This theatre of absurdity must end.

Update from the MDC: 20:44

Hundreds of MDC members and supporters have surrounded Mutare police station, where MDC Treasurer General and Deputy Minister of Agriculture designate is being held. There is heavily armed police. Police have charged Roy Bennett with attempting to leave the country illegally. However they keep back tracking and are incoherently inconsistent on what they intend to do and charge him with.  Clearly desperate and clucthing at straws. Three lawyers are now in attendance to represent Roy Bennett.

A second MDC release that came in soon after the one above said:

Police have started firing live ammunition in the air and have brought dogs in an attempt to disperse hundreds of MDC supporters that had surrounded Mutare police station in support and demanding the release of Roy Bennett. Police intend to remove Roy Bennett from the police station to a place they have refused to disclose. The two vehicles that were used by the police to carry Roy Bennett from Prince Charles airport to Marondera and to Mutare police station are back at Mutare police station, this time without registration plates.

Update from the MDC: 19:05

MDC Treasurer General, and Deputy Minister of Agriculture designate, Roy Bennett is now in Mutare at Mutare police station. Police attempted to take Roy Bennett to an inaccessible rural police station. About 200 MDC Manicaland Provincial Executive and members barricaded the road and demanded the release of Roy Bennett. Lawyer representing Roy Bennett Mr. Trust Maanda negotiated with the MDC members and police returned to Mutare police station. The police station is surrounded by heavily armed police police. Police have denied Mr. Maanda access to Roy Bennett insisting that they want to interrogate him alone. MDC Mayor for Mutare Brian James is also at the police station.

Update: 18:57

Roy Bennett is now in Mutare. Apparently his movements are being monitored by MDC supporters and the general public. We’ve been told that crowd is growing in Mutare - we assume at the police station.

Update: 18:35

The passengers who were travelling on the same plane that Bennett was about to leave on before he was arrested have now been allowed to leave Zimbabwe and are on their way to Lanseria, South Africa. Meanwhile, Reuben Barwe has been on the ZBC (state controlled media) talking about the wonderful new cabinet (essentially the same one Mugabe described as the ‘worst in history’ last year). Not a word mentioned to the people of our country about the fact that a designated Deputy Minister has been arrested and whisked away by state agents.

Update from the MDC: 17:13

Silver Hilax carrying abducted MDC Treasurer General and Deputy Minister of Agriculture designate with registration number ABD3595 is currently refueling at Marondera police station and is about to go to Mutare.

Update on SWRadio Africa: 16:52

MDC Treasurer General and Deputy Minister of Agriculture designate who was abducted just after 1500hr at Prince Charles airport was last seen being transfered from a Toyata truck with registration number AAP4851 which picked him from the airport into a silver Hilax twin cab with registration number ABD3595 and the car is driving towards Goromonzi which is also a notorious base for torture and interogation. (Note: We received this information too but have since been told its not the case. There’s a lot of confusion.)

Update: 16:29

Roy Bennett is being taken to Marondera, not Goromonzi.

Update: 15:51

One of the sources mentioned above just sms’d that he believes that Bennett has been taken to Goromonzi. We assume a police station there. We’re still anticipating he should be released, given the information that orders to that effect have been issued by top-dogs.

Update - unconfirmed: 15:45

Two different sources have told us that they believe the instruction to release Bennett was issued by Robert Mugabe. This is unconfirmed.

Update via SW Radio Africa: 15:23

We believe arrest warrants have been issued for election expert Topper Whitehead and MDC MP for Marondera, Ian Kay. We also believe the leaders of the three political parties are in an emergency meeting and the swearing in of the Cabinet is delayed.

Update: 15:16

We’ve been advised by a reliable source that Manangagwa has issued an order for Bennett’s immediate release.

Update from the MDC : 15:06

Roy Bennett, MDC Treasurer General and Deputy Minister of Agriculture designate has just been abducted up by Police from the Law and Order section at Prince Charles airport just outside Harare. The police were led by one Assistant Commissioner Nyongwe. He was taken in a white Toyota with registration number is AAP 4851. We understand that they are taking him to Marondera, where there is notorious torture and interogation base, the same place MDC Secretary General, Tendai Biti was taken upon his return from South Africa. (Press Release)

This very short Press Release received from the MDC:

Roy Benett, MDC Treasurer General and Deputy Minister of Agriculture designate has just been arrested by state agents - details to follow

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Zimbabwe police fire in air to disperse protest

Senior opposition official arrested

By MacDonald Dzirutwe, ReutersFebruary 13, 2009 2:31 PM

HARARE - Zimbabwean police fired live ammunition in the air to disperse
hundreds of opposition MDC supporters who had surrounded a police station
where a party leader was being held, the MDC said on Friday.

Zimbabwean security agents had earlier arrested Roy Bennett ahead of a
swearing-in ceremony for a new unity cabinet in which he was due to take a
post, the party said. There was no immediate comment from police.

The arrest is likely to increase tensions between President Robert Mugabe
and new Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, from the MDC, after they ended
months of deadlock over a power-sharing deal designed to rescue their ruined

The Movement for Democratic Change said in a statement that Roy Bennett,
nominated by Tsvangirai as deputy minister of agriculture, had been arrested
at the airport and was held at a police station in Mutare in the east of the

"Police have started firing live ammunition in the air and have brought dogs
in an attempt to disperse hundreds of MDC supporters that had surrounded
Mutare police station in support and demanding the release of Roy Bennett,"
said the MDC.

"Police intend to remove Roy Bennett from the police station to a place they
have refused to disclose."

The MDC said police had charged Bennett with trying to leave the country
illegally but later gave conflicting information on his case.

Bennett has been living in exile in South Africa after fleeing the country
about two years ago because police wanted to question him in connection with
the discovery of an arms cache in eastern Zimbabwe.

Foreign investors and Western donors want concrete signs of stability in
Zimbabwe. They have made it clear that funds will not flow to the southern
African country until a democratic government is created and economic
reforms are made.

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Swearing in delayed as Mugabe tries to increase number of ministers

By Tichaona Sibanda
13 February 2009

The swearing in ceremony of cabinet ministers to the inclusive government
was delayed by almost five hours on Friday in Harare, after Robert Mugabe
attempted to increase the number of ministers from his ZANU PF party.
According to the Global Political Agreement, signed by all parties in
September last year, ZANU PF was to have 15 cabinet portfolios, MDC-T 13 and
the MDC three, to reflect the distribution of the popular vote in last year's

But when the ceremony eventually took place an extra minister for ZANU PF
was sworn in. Mugabe had initially tried to have 22 sworn in. 13 from MDC-T
were also sworn in along with three from MDC-M. The co-sharing Home Affairs
Minister from MDC-T, Giles Mutsekwa, will be sworn in next week when he gets
back home from a business trip outside Zimbabwe. 15 deputy ministers will be
sworn in next week, eight from ZANU PF, six from MDC-T and one from MDC-M

MDC spokesman, Nelson Chamisa explained that ZANU PF got an extra minister
of state, in return for the MDC getting 5 governorships, to ZANU PF's 4. The
GPA agreement was modified by the appointment of one minister each from ZANU
PF and MDC-T, to share the running of the Ministry of Home Affairs. In
addition, each party was expected to appoint a minister of state.

The cabinet list released by ZANU PF on Thursday night contained 22 names,
giving Mugabe an extra six ministers. This was when the trouble began. An
MDC MP who was present at the ceremony on Friday.said the process was
completely disorganized and that guests were kept waiting for hours without
being told what was happening.

Joseph Mugnai, Morgan Tsvangirai spokesman, said Mugabe arrived for Friday's
ceremony with plans to swear-in seven ZANU-PF members as junior ministers,
surprising his partners.

Eventually it was agreed that Mugabe drop five ministers from the list.
Those dropped included David Parirenyatwa, former Health minister, Sylvester
Nguni, Paul Mangwana, Flora Bhuka and John Nkomo.

The MDC-M had brought four nominees but only three; Welshman Ncube, David
Coltart and Priscilla Misihairambwi-Mushonga were sworn in. Deputy party
president Gibson Sibanda was not sworn in. No one could explain why.

Another MP told us the situation reflected what was to be expected in the
new government, 'mistrust and confusion.'

'We sat there for hours and we sensed there were disagreements because
officials kept coming and going outside the offices of the State House. This
is a bad start to this government, I pray it works because from what I saw
today, I see disaster ahead,' the MP said.

A report received late in the day said South African President Kgalema
Motlanthe had to get involved and was the one who suggested the compromise
which allowed Mugabe to swear in an extra minister of state.
Professor Welshman Ncube said: "President Motlanthe suggested that the three
parties should use the weekend to resolve the dispute and reach a compromise
before Monday when the deputy ministers are sworn in. The expectation is
that the Ministers of State who were not sworn in today will be sworn in
together with the deputy ministers."

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Dispute mars swearing-in ceremony

February 13, 2009

HARARE (BBC) - The swearing-in of Zimbabwe's new power-sharing cabinet has
been marred by the arrest of one minister and a dispute over several others.

Roy Bennett, the MDC's choice to become deputy agriculture minister, was
reportedly seized near a Harare airport just before the ceremony.

Several extra Zanu-PF ministers of state then turned up to be sworn in.

The issue was only resolved after intense closed-door negotiations - and
nearly a year after disputed polls.

The new cabinet was sworn into office by President Robert Mugabe two and a
half hours behind schedule.

One MDC official was quoted as saying that the additional Zanu-PF officials
were junior ministers, who are due to be sworn in next week.

Under the power-sharing agreement, Mr Mugabe's Zanu-PF is to have 15 posts
and the two factions of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) 16, under
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.

MDC spokesman Ian Makone said Mr Bennett was arrested at the small Charles
Prince airport, north-west of the capital, Harare.

On Thursday, Mr Bennett told the BBC that he was in hiding as the security
services had issued an arrest warrant for him.

The former MP has long been a controversial figure.

A white farmer who lost his property under Mr Mugabe's land reform
programme, he was in prison from October 2004 to June 2005.

The sentence was imposed by other MPs after he pushed a government minister
during an argument in parliament over land reform.

He has only recently returned to Zimbabwe after more than two years in South
Africa, where he fled after police sought his arrest in connection with an
alleged plot against Mr Mugabe.

A western diplomat described his arrest as a deliberate provocation by Mr
Mugabe and a supreme act of bad faith and contempt, reports the BBC's Andrew
Harding, who is in Zimbabwe despite a ban on the BBC reporting there.

Zimbabwe's messy experiment in power sharing is, as expected, getting off to
a bumpy start, our correspondent says.

Before the swearing-in ceremony, MDC leader Mr Tsvangirai told the BBC the
country was "on its knees".

He said the humanitarian situation needed to be tackled, schools re-opened
and the cholera epidemic which has killed some 3,400 people ended.

"We have to find a solution to the country's crisis," he said. "Mugabe may
be part of the problem, but he's also part of the solution. I am sure the
reverse will also apply to me from their side."

Morgan Tsvangirai: 'The country is on its knees, but we cannot solve

The economy is in meltdown, with the local currency virtually worthless and
unemployment of some 90 percent.

Correspondents say Friday's hitches show how difficult it will be for the
coalition to work.

Many of the Zanu-PF ministers have served in cabinet since Mr Mugabe was
first elected in 1980.

Several MDC ministers have been beaten or arrested for their opposition to
Mr Mugabe.

Zanu-PF's Emmerson Mnangagwa, the new defence minister, has long been seen
as a potential successor to Mr Mugabe and was accused of links to the 2008
election violence against the MDC.

Sydney Sekeramayi, a former defence minister, takes the state security
ministry which controls the feared Central Intelligence Organisation.

MDC Secretary General Tendai Biti takes on the enormous challenge of
finance, while as Health Minister Henry Madzorera is now in charge of
tackling the cholera outbreak.

The formation of the government has also gone ahead despite MDC concern
about the fate of imprisoned activists.

The MDC says more than 30 people, including 72-year-old man Fidelis
Charamba, are still being held after being abducted and illegally detained.

They have been accused of subversion and recruiting fighters to overthrow Mr
Mugabe - charges denied by the MDC.

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More evidence of power sharing deal heading for collapse

By Lance Guma
13 February 2009

There was ample evidence Friday that the shaky power sharing deal signed
between ZANU PF and the MDC is headed for collapse. On the day a new cabinet
was sworn in, chaos was the order of the day. Analysts say hardliners within
ZANU PF are determined to torpedo the deal and the arrest of the newly
appointed Deputy Agriculture Minister Roy Bennet was part of those moves.

Mugabe showed the internal pressure he is facing from within his own party
by trying to increase his allocation of ministers. The subsequent heated
debates delayed the swearing in ceremony by about 5 hours, begging the
question of how the political parties will ever work together.

More chaos is also being reported on farms countrywide, as leading army,
police and ZANU PF officials loot and plunder what is left of the few
remaining and thriving farms. The question on everyone's lips is, what has
Tsvangirai got himself into? Under the power share deal ZANU PF secured the
key ministries of defence, state security and information, while the MDC are
saddled with the more complex finance, health and social service ministries.
There can be no doubting the good intentions of the MDC in making life
better for the people, but a growing number of their supporters are
increasingly frustrated by the bullying tactics of ZANU PF.

The failure to release political prisoners, some whom have spent over 3
months in custody, is also not helping matters. Although the new Prime
Minister visited the prisoners on his first day at work on Thursday, many
had wanted the prisoners release to be a pre-condition before joining Mugabe
in a government.

Tsvangirai meanwhile has been forced to re-shuffle his cabinet, two days
after announcing it. Apparently his appointment of Nkayi North MP Abednico
Bhebhe, from the Mutambara MDC as Water Resources Minister, violated the
political agreement between the parties. According to Welshman Ncube, from
Bhebhe's party, the MP would have had to resign his seat in parliament if he
was to take up the appointment. Tsvangirai has now replaced Bhebhe with his
own MP, Joel Gabbuza from Binga.

More pressure was heaped on Tsvangirai after constituents in Matabeleland
felt he had marginalized them in the cabinet appointments. The recently
appointed Minister of State Enterprise and Parastatals, Eddie Cross, was
sacrificed in the changes made to appease them. Former Daily News Chief
Executive Samuel Sipepa Nkomo replaced Cross. The MDC simply said Cross had
been 're-assigned' but some felt it was sad that tribal considerations were
given more prominence than perhaps the abilities of the people chosen into

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New unity government nearly still-born

February 13, 2009

By Our Correspondent

HARARE - Zimbabwe's new unity government suffered a near still-birth when
mainstream Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) ministerial nominees openly
refused to take part in the swearing-in ceremony at State House in Harare on

The MDC members protested after Zanu-PF had apparently attempted to trick
the MDC by swearing into office five more state ministers without reaching
an agreement with their partners in the coalition as agreed in terms of the
Global Political Agreement.

As a result the ceremony was delayed for close to three hours much to the
chagrin  of the hundreds of guests who thronged the State House grounds to
witness the historic ceremony.

The event was supposed to start at about 12 noon but onlly kicked off
sometime after 4 pm after Zanu PF had agreed to remove from the list the
five extra ministers and agreed that MDC appoint one Minister of State while
it admit two.

In the hushed process the leaders of the three political leaders held a
closed-door meeting in the State House dining room with Southern African
Development Community (SADC) Chairman Kgalema Monthlathe and mediator Thabo

President Robert Mugabe's Chief of Protocol, Samuel Kajese was heard while
literally begging MDC MPs to join Zanu-PF MPs in the ceremonial rituals. The
MDC MPs openly refused to barge until the three principals had reached a
workable solution.

"If we have no agreement then we will not go there for the swearing in. We
have counted one by one and why do you have many ministers than the ones
agreed under GPA. Why can't we first agree," said MDC's Tendai Biti who was
later sworn in as the Minister of Finance.

"How many are your Ministers, we will count again if they are more than the
agreed we will not go in there."

But Kajese who was visibly at pains to just have things push through later
responded saying, "Please, please lets get on with the business, there are
state ministers to  be sworn in today."

Mugabe later on swore into office the Zanu PF, mainstream MDC and MDC-M

Notable appointments from Zanu-PF are Minister of Information, Webster
Shamhu, of State Security, Sydney Sekeramayi and Kembo Mohadi who retained
Home Affairs that he will now share with Giles Mutswekwa of the MDC.
Emmerson Mnangangwa, long regarded as having presidential ambitions was
moved up from Rural Housing to Defence.

The five ministers who lost out following the drama that was witnessed at
State House are Former Speaker of Parliament and Zanu PF Chairman, John
Nkomo, Health Minister David Parirenyatwa, Deputy Agriculture Minister
Sylvester Nguni, Acting Minister of Information, Paul Mangwana and Minister
of State, Flora Bhuka.

They had participated in rehearsals for the event, only to be left out at
the last minute.

In an open expression of disappointment, Mangwana stood with his wife in the
State House car park while the event was still taking place.

"I am not a (full) minister for now unless something changes," said Mngwana
when approached for  a comment.

The eventful past 48 hours also saw the mainstream MDC axing two of its
ministerial nominees Eddie Cross and Abednico Bhebhe who had earlier been
announced as part of the party's cabinet line-up.

The two were replaced by Human Rights activist and former Bulawayo Agenda
Executive Director, Gordon Moyo and Binga MP, Joel Gabuza Gabuza.

Speculation was rife that the two could have been sacrificed to pacify the
dissenting voices from Matebeleland region who had complained that the
region had very few representatives in the new government.

The appointment of Shamu to the Ministry of Information put paid to
widespread speculation that a previous encumbent, Prof Jonathan Moyo was, by
his actions and utterances, gearing for re-appointment to the ministry that
he controversially devastatingly managed until he was booted out in 2005.

Moyo is the Member of Parliament for Tsholotsho North and is partly credited
with master-minding Mugabe's controversial re-election in June 2008 in an
electyion in which he was the only candidate.

The swearing-in ceremony revealed the extent to which Mugabe had gone to
retain the Zanu PF old guard. He kept his trusted and hardworking
lieutenant, Patrick Chinamasa, in the crucial ministry of Justice and
Parliamentary Affairs.

The Ministry of State for National Security in the President's Office went
to former Defence Minister, Sydney Sekeramayi while Herbert Murerwa, who was
fired by Mugabe as Finance Minister two years ago, bounced back to take over
the Lands and Rural Resettlement Ministry.

Samuel Mumbengegwi retained the Foreign Affairs Ministry while Joseph Made,
who manages Mugabe's multiple farms, was strategically redeployed in the
Agriculture, Mechanization and Irrigation Development ministry.

Former Minister of Industry and International Trade, Obert Mpofu was
redeployed at Mines and Mining Development while Ignatius Chombo retained
his Local Government, Urban and Rural Development portfolio.

Shurugwi North legislator, Francis Nhema is the Minister of Environment and
Natural Resources Management while Nicholas Goche, one of the two Zanu-PF
negotiators who brokered the power-sharing deal was rewarded with the
Transport and Infrastructural Development ministry.

Saviour Kasukuwere, otherwise the youngest minister in the Zanu PF line up,
is the Youth Development, Indigenization and Empowerment Minister, with the
Women's Affairs, Gender and Community Development ministry for Mutoko
legislator, Olivia Muchena.

Despite her legendary failure to win any parliamentary seat in the
opposition dominated Matebeleland region, Stembiso Nyoni was again allowed
to retain her Small and Medium Enterprises and Cooperative Development

Stan Mudenge, one of the longest serving ministers in Mugabe's cabinet, will
retain his Higher and Tertiary Education Ministry while Masvingo South
legislator, while Walter Muzembi takes over Tourism.

Didymus Mutasa, who retains the State Security Minister, completes the Zanu
PF list of substantive ministers.

Zanu-PF Ministers of State are Paul Mangwana, Sylvester Nguni, Flora Bhuka,
John Nkomo and David Parirenyatwa.

Professor Welshman Ncube, secretary general in the Arthur Mutambara led MDC
is now Industry and Commerce Energy minister while his deputy and partner in
the protracted unity talks, Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga becomes Regional
Integration and International Co-operation minister.

Khumalo Senator David Coltart, the only elected official in the Mutambara
led MDC, is now the new Minister of Education, Sports and Culture.

Tendai Biti, who led the list of ministerial nominees in the Morgan
Tsvangirai-led MDC was sworn is as Finance Minister, while Engineer Elias
Mudzuri was confirmed as Energy and Power Development minister.

Theresa Makone was sworn-in as Public Works minister while former Associated
Newspapers of Zimbabwe CEO, Samuel Sipepa Nkomo took over the Water
Resources and Development ministry which had initially been allocated to
Nkayi West legislator Abednico Bhebhe of the Mutambara party.

Kwekwe senator, Henry Madzorera was confirmed as Health and Child Welfare
minister while Eliphas Mukonoweshuro becomes Public Service minister.

Other confirmed ministers in the mainstream MDC include Elton Mangoma
(Economic Planning and Development), Professor Henry Dzinotyiwei (Science
and Technology), Fidelis Mhashu (Housing and Social Amenities), Advocate
Eric Matinenga (Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs), Nelson Chamisa
(Information Communication Technology), Pauline Mpariwa (Labour and Social
Welfare) and Joel Gabuza (State Enterprises and Parastatals).

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UK sets conditions for lifting Zimbabwe sanctions

Fri Feb 13, 2009 5:20pm GMT

LONDON, Feb 13 (Reuters) - Britain is ready to lift sanctions on Zimbabwe if
the new unity government releases political prisoners and pushes through
economic reforms, Foreign Secretary David Miliband said on Friday.

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai was sworn in as prime minister on
Wednesday by Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe following months of
wrangling since they agreed last September to share power.

But Western governments have taken a cautious approach, waiting to see if
the new government will bring about real change in a country suffering an
economic breakdown.

Asked if Britain was prepared to offer to lift sanctions and end Zimbabwe's
international isolation, Miliband said: "We are prepared to offer that on
the basis that there is clear evidence in the actions of the government in
respect of political prisoners, in respect of economic reform."

"The government needs to be judged by its actions and its deeds ... That's
the basis for the international community to engage," he told BBC World's
"Hard Talk" programme.

Zimbabwean security agents arrested a leader of the opposition MDC on Friday
ahead of a swearing-in ceremony for the new unity cabinet in which he was
due to take a post, the party said.

Britain, together with the rest of the European Union, has imposed a travel
ban on a list of Zimbabweans and frozen the assets of a number of people and

A British government official said last year that Britain, Zimbabwe's former
colonial ruler, was working with the United States, EU, World Bank and
International Monetary Fund on a recovery plan for Zimbabwe, that was
estimated to cost more than $1 billion a year.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown said on Thursday that Britain could not treat
Zimbabwe as an "ordinary country" for now, saying he feared that Mugabe, who
has ruled Zimbabwe since independence in 1980, would stand in the way of

Britain has been a fierce critics of Mugabe, accusing him of destroying the
country's economy and using militias to suppress opposition. Mugabe's
government in turn blames Britain and other Western nations for Zimbabwe's

Zimbabwe is suffering unemployment above 90 percent, prices double every
day, half the 12 million population need food aid and a cholera epidemic has
killed nearly 3,500 people. (Reporting by Adrian Croft)

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Zimbabwe's unchecked cholera carried in rivers: WHO

26 minutes ago

GENEVA (AFP) - Cholera is being carried by rivers and streams in Zimbabwe,
fuelling the uncontrolled outbreak that has now infected 73,585 people and
left 3,525 dead, the World Health Organisation said Friday.

The latest figures for the outbreak that has thrived since August 2008,
especially in the country's impoverished, undernourished and neglected rural
areas, were dated February 12, the UN health agency said.

At the beginning of the week, the WHO and the Zimbabwean Health Ministry had
recorded 69,553 cases including 3,400 deaths.

"Cholera is still not under control," said WHO spokeswoman Fadela Chaib.

However, she revealed that an onsite survey by the central cholera control
team in several districts found that waterways and wells are infected with
the potentially deadly bacteria.

Chaib said they "confirmed that shallow wells, rivers and streams were the
most likely source of infection."

That made it essential to distribute water purification tablets, clean water
supplies, and soap directly to families and households to stop them getting
infected when they washed, cooked or drank water, she added.

The WHO also reiterated fears that floods in the rainy season would hamper
movement of both health workers and of people seeking treatment.

"There's also the lack of transport, the scarcity of food and the fact that
health workers are paid very little if they are at all," Chaib told

However, the WHO spokeswoman said it was unclear to what degree the outbreak
in Zimbabwe was fuelling those in neighbouring countries, where cholera was
often already endemic.

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Rainy season floods may propel Zimbabwe cholera-WHO

Fri Feb 13, 2009 12:46pm GMT

By Laura MacInnis

GENEVA, Feb 13 (Reuters) - Rainy season floods could make it even harder to
stop Zimbabwe's epidemic of cholera that appears to be spreading across
southern Africa, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Friday.

Some 73,385 Zimbabweans have been infected with water-borne diarrhoeal
disease since August and 3,524 have died, in Africa's deadliest cholera
outbreak in 15 years.

WHO spokeswoman Fadela Chaib said that the countries sharing borders with
Zimbabwe have all reported cholera infections that could be related to the
country's ongoing epidemic.

"There is believed to be a link between the Zimbabwe outbreak and South
Africa, and possibly with Mozambique, Botswana and Zambia," she told a news
briefing in Geneva, where the United Nations agency is based. "Movements of
population are likely the source of infection and spread."

The wet season stands to propel cholera-contaminated water in Zimbawbe's
rivers and wells, and floods may keep aid workers from distributing needed
water purification tablets, rehydration salts, and soap in rural areas,
according to the WHO spokswoman.

"Cholera is not yet under control, far from it," she said.

In normal conditions, cholera is preventable and treatable.

The outbreak in Zimbabwe is tied to an economic crisis that has left 8 in 10
people out of work and caused the health system to collapse, with unpaid
doctors and nurses among those reliant on food aid and struggling with an
inflation rate estimated at more than 231 million percent.

To tackle Zimbabwe's cholera crisis and other looming health risks, Chaib
said Harare's new unity government must work to fix critical shortages of
health workers, and improve disease monitoring and immunisation coverage
rates across the country.

"The challenges ahead are enormous," she said.

Outside Zimbawbe's borders, the largest current cholera in the region is in
South Africa, which has reported 4,859 cases and 34 deaths from mid-November
to end-January, Chaib said.

Mozambique has reported 3,592 cases and 25 deaths, Zambia has reported 3,035
cases and 43 deaths, and Angola, to Zambia's west, has had 273 cases and 1

Because cholera is endemic in those countries, which have never fully
stopped the disease, Chaib said: "It is hard to say if all cases are linked
to the Zimbabwe outbreak."

"Botswana is not endemic for cholera and it has only had a small number of
cases, 8 cases that were clearly linked to Zimbabwe," she said.

The WHO is not recommending travel restrictions in the area. Because
Zimbabwe's neighbours have stronger and more functional health systems, they
are expected to be able to prevent and treat cholera much more effectively.

The last time South Africa had a large outbreak of cholera was in 2001 and
2002, when the country's southeastern region had 166,000 cases. The fatality
rate of that outbreak was below 1 percent, compared to the 4.8 percent now
estimated in Zimbabwe.

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Teachers dig their heels in over dollars

Schools out
BULAWAYO, 13 February 2009 (IRIN) - Zimbabwe's striking teachers have rejected an appeal by new Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai that they return to work, demanding negotiations on their salary scales in foreign currency as promised.

"Teachers want money in their pockets, not promises," said Sifiso Ndlovu, acting head of the Zimbabwe Teachers Association. "He [Tsvangirai] should explain how much we are going to be paid, and the mode of payment."

Tsvangirai told a rally on 11 February, the day he was sworn in as part of a new power-sharing government, that public workers would all be paid in foreign currency, and urged those on strike to report for duty on 16 February.

"Tsvangirai has to consult President [Robert] Mugabe and cabinet on the payment of salaries in foreign currency, and once he has done that, then he should table a figure that he will discuss with us teachers," Ndlovu said.

Zimbabwe's teachers, on strike since September last year, are demanding salaries starting at US$2,200 as a result of the semi-official dollarisation of the economy.

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) last week reported that about 94 percent of rural schools failed to open at the start of the 2009 academic year.

A broke Zimbabwe is in the grip of an unprecedented economic and humanitarian crisis marked by the world's highest inflation rate, food shortages, and a cholera epidemic that has infected more than 70,000 people and killed over 3,500.

Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for Democratic Change party, which is now part of a unity government with Mugabe's rival ZANU-PF, has admitted he does not yet know where the foreign exchange will come from to pay public workers at the end of the month.

"But I have made a commitment, and we have to find the money to pay them. But how much, it still hasn't been decided," he said. "We must find something to alleviate the plight of our people who have been receiving worthless currency."

The militant Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe said almost half the country's teachers have crossed the border to South Africa, Botswana or further abroad looking for work, even if they are menial jobs.


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

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Mugabe appoints a war cabinet.......excludes youth

Friday the 13th , Mugabe appoints a war cabinet.......excludes youth.

Mugabe has retained a war cabinet despite his earlier utterance, that it has
been the worst cabinet in his reign, in an interview, on the eve of his
birthday last year. Majority of his ministers have been at war with the
opposition MDC since its birth, hence there is reasonable suspicion that he
wants to continue with his war path with his 'former' rival. Taking new
blood on board would have distorted the rhythm of the struggle which has
been temporarily disturbed as a result of pressure from the international
community to work with MDC, which for the entirety of its existence has been
referred as a Western oriented party. The speed with which the economy was
dwindling equally forced the regime to compromise. The solution was only
left in the hands of MDC, especially the T one. It is therefore crystal
clear that Mugabe and his party were raped into this 'agreement'.

The appointed ministers are cognisant of the fact that they have been
rewarded for their persistence in fighting the 'West in its bid to effect
regime change'. Bearing this in mind the only logical thing to do in terms
of protecting their mercs is to maintain the status core, the main agenda
being to 'pressurise Morgan to call for the lifting of sanctions and work
hard for the party'.

The mammoth task is to revive the party, considering that elections are at
hand. These ministers boast of having wealth experience in tackling their
duties and it is most likely going to be difficult for them to accept new
ideas from the new blood which has been injected on MDC tickets hence
friction is more likely than not. Considering the irreconcilable differences
between the parties in government, it will be the greatest miracle in world
politics for them to just accept or tolerate each other.

Some are basking in the March 29 glory whilst others are convinced that June
27 did the job, whilst others do not give significance to any of the two.
The only common thing to the three parties is to maintain power till the
next election scheduled for two years from now.

From a political point of view if this government thrives, credit will go to
MDC T given the fact that it was their entrance which would have ushered in
the much awaited change; it will therefore be the most difficult thing for
ZANU PF to just watch their power vanish into thin air. That is the reason
why it is normally suggested that a transitional government must not be run
by interested parties.

Further to these anomalies The Youth Forum is greatly concerned with the
seclusion of youths in cabinet. This shows that from the onset the youths
have not been considered to be decision makers, they are some who have the
experience to do so on their behalf. Such thinking is retrogressive,
discouraging and disgracing to youth's meaningful participation and
empowerment. This shows that the youths are only instrumental as
rubberstampers of decisions made on their behalf.

Information and Publicity Department

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Break out the Bollinger

Comment from ZWNEWS, 13 February

They must have broken into the birthday Bollinger at State House on
Wednesday. The Zanu PF bigwigs did not attend the celebrations in Glamis
Stadium, but they must have heard very rapidly from their watchers - the men
in shiny suits and contraband Raybans - after Morgan Tsvangirai committed
the first blunder of his premiership. Tsvangirai, in what appears to have
been unscripted remarks, promised to pay government employees in foreign
currency. What does he know that the rest of us don't?

The problem with the government (apart from the institutionalised
intolerance, violence and theft) is that it is living beyond the ability of
the country to support it. This was the case even in 1999, before Zanu PF
devoted their full attention to really trashing the economy. The state
apparatus is even bigger now than it was then, and the economy is much, much
smaller. The only way this imbalance could be kept going was for the Reserve
Bank to print money on a monumental scale, and the result is the
world-league inflation from which Zimbabwe currently suffers. Whether you
denominate government spending in Z$, US$, rand or conch shells, the problem
remains the same: there are too many ministers and civil servants, and not
enough taxes.

If Tsvangirai intends to pay government employees in foreign currency, he
has a number of options. He could drastically cut the number of ministers
and civil servants, but this is unlikely to have been what he was thinking
yesterday. He could pay salaries in foreign currency, but make the payments
so small as to be derisory. Again, this is unlikely to be the plan. Has
Tsvangirai been told by his new finance minister that there are vast lakes
of foreign currency sloshing around in government bank accounts? It is
doubtful whether Tendai Biti has even put his feet under his new government
desk yet, let alone trawled through the public accounts. Tsvangirai can't
even count on the income from the platinum and diamond mines. That ministry
is controlled by Zanu PF.

His only other option is to bet on enormous inflows of money from abroad to
pay the bills. And those inflows need to arrive very soon: the entire
government workforce will be expecting salary payments in forex by the end
of this month - two weeks away. Has Tsvangirai perhaps received assurances
from the EU, US, or UN promising to foot the bill? The transfer of such vast
amounts of cash would take weeks, if not months, to approve, even if they
were willing to stump up, so this also seems unlikely. His only other option
is that the South Africans have offered to print - and keep printing -
sufficient rands to bankroll the oversized Zimbabwe government. That would,
of course, be suicidal for the South African economy, and it is difficult to
imagine the South African government agreeing to such a plan. (Having said
that, these are the same people who think you can prevent AIDS by eating
beetroot, so anything is possible.)

We stand very willing to be corrected, but, on the face of it, there does
not seem to be any way in which Tsvangirai's can deliver on his promise. By
printing such vast amounts of Z$ over recent years, Gideon Gono was able to
perpetrate a confidence trick on the public, disguising to some extent the
fundamental problem underlying the government's finances. By promising to
pay civil servants in foreign currency, Tsvangirai has left himself with
nowhere to hide. Mugabe's henchmen are probably already hard at work in
State House drawing up plans to exploit this gaffe.

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Lance Guma speaks to Dr Simba Makoni

Broadcast 12 February 2009


This week on Behind the Headlines Lance Guma speaks to former Finance Minister Dr Simba Makoni in a wide-ranging interview. Lance asks Dr Makoni for his views on the unity government currently being put in place and whether he thinks they can deliver. Does he feel bitter that he was excluded from the process despite coming third in presidential elections last year? Does Makoni agree with Dumiso Dabengwa’s claims that he acted as a spoiler in last years elections to create conditions for a run-off? Makoni is also questioned on allegations by his colleagues in the Mavambo Movement who claim he still has links to ZANU PF and that he misused party funds.


Lance: Hello Zimbabwe and welcome to another edition of Behind the Headlines. My guest this week is former finance minister and leader of the Mavambo Movement Dr Simba Makoni. Dr Makoni thank you for joining us on SW Radio Africa.


Makoni: It’s a pleasure, thank you good afternoon.


Lance: Right, starting point is we’ve had a new unity government put in place this week. Morgan Tsvangirai was sworn in on Wednesday and as a prominent leader yourself in Zimbabwe, the starting question has to be what is your view of this recently installed government.


Makoni: Well first we must place the facts on record and say the government is not yet fully installed as you know cabinet ministers have not yet been appointed and taken oath, but yes the leadership of the government in the sense of the Presidency and the Premiership is now in place. We welcome it. We welcomed the Global Political Agreement. It was and still is an imperfect agreement but it’s the best on offer for the people of Zimbabwe at the moment and we wish that they will work well together to serve the people of Zimbabwe.


Lance: Now those who have been very skeptical of this arrangement have pointed to the lack of sincerity which they seem to be picking up from Zanu PF. Do you see this as a major stumbling block? Are Zanu PF sincere in this arrangement?


Makoni: Well I think it is quite clear that all the partners in this arrangement are there for convenience. There is no commitment, there is mistrust, there is suspicion and so people are justified to be skeptical because the motivation is not commitment to service and therefore we also have expressed our reservations about what motivated the three of them to come together. But let’s be generous, let’s be optimistic, let’s be forward looking and wish that they will work well together for the sake of the people and the country.


Lance: If it had been left up to you Dr Makoni, what would you have proposed as a way forward in terms of? I mean you have just pointed out that this agreement is imperfect. How would you have suggested a way forward for the country?


Makoni: Well its not, how would I, you know that I was the first proponent of a government of national unity at the time when I launched my presidential campaign. I maintained that stance up to now. We would have offered a leadership that was motivated to service and committed to serving the people rather than to acquiring and spending power and control. The major misgiving we have about the Global Political Agreement is that it was motivated by power and control and that is why people set out in a country in dire straits as ours to set up a huge administration. Six people in the Presidency and the Premiership, 31 ministers, 11 Deputy Ministers. We cannot afford that. And so we would have sought to set up a compact, technocratic, competent based national authority that was committed to taking Zimbabwe out of the crisis it is in.


Lance: Now do you think then given those hurdles that you are pointing out, can this government deliver?


Makoni: Well it can if they commit themselves. It’s not impossible for people of different political persuasions to work together to a common purpose. A lot of Europe is run by coalition governments from extreme right, extreme left centers. So it’s not a new thing. But it depends on commitment, honesty trustworthiness and those elements are not there in the parties to this Global Agreement.


Lance: Last year in the presidential elections you came third and a lot of people were rather surprised that you did not play a very prominent role in the negotiations that followed those disputed elections. Are you some how disappointed you were somehow excluded from this process?


Makoni: Well I have two feelings and views about that. Yes indeed I was disappointed, not just for myself, but more for the people who are committed to the vision and mission that I set out to promote because we are confident that we would have made a meaningful contribution to those negotiations. We would have influenced the negotiations away from power control and command to service. So from that point of view, we are disappointed. That I am not there personally, I am not disappointed, because participating in this process that has led to this imperfect outcome would have discredited and compromised some of our principles and values.


Lance: Now Dr Makoni, do you see a role for yourself under the current set up, I mean have you been approached about doing anything?


Makoni: No, I haven’t been approached by anyone. I don’t see a role for myself in the so-called inclusive government. But I do see a role for myself and for colleagues in our movement and the population of Zimbabwe that subscribes to the values and principles that we stand for, in that with the creation of MDC T-F, we now become the sole voice of the people. We will be watching this so-called inclusive government step by step. We will be monitoring their every action. And we will be keeping them under close monitor to ensure that what the people yearn for is voiced. And that voice now is ours.


Lance: Some analysts had actually pointed that same fact you are talking about Dr Makoni that the MDC which was the only credible opposition to date has now joined the government and that has now created a vacuum were the likes of Mavambo and maybe the recently re-launched ZAPU can take up space, so I mean this is a bonus for you.


Makoni: Well I wouldn’t say it is a bonus, it is what we created. When I moved in to join the presidential race, we offered the people of Zimbabwe an alternative to Mugabe and Tsvangirai. We offered the people of Zimbabwe an alternative to Zanu PF and MDC. And we are continuing to offer the people of Zimbabwe that alternative, so is not a bonus, it’s our creation.


Lance: Several weeks ago I interviewed former Home Affairs Minister Dumiso Dabengwa and he said the decision and the project to support your presidential candidacy was meant to stop an outright winner developing between Tsvangirai and Mugabe. Do you subscribe to this summarization of the scenario that you basically acted as spoilers?


Makoni: Well I do not subscribe to it and I can tell you that is not what motivated me to stand. I don’t know if Dumiso actually said that. I stood genuinely and honestly to offer Zimbabweans an alternative leadership. I wanted to win in order to serve the country, not to spoil for anyone. I was convinced so were many Zimbabweans in Zanu PF, in MDC and those outside politics that neither Mugabe nor Tsvangirai were the best leader for Zimbabwe at this time and I believe the large majority of Zimbabweans still believe that to date. And I set out to offer to Zimbabweans an alternative to Mugabe and Tsvangirai not to spoil for anyone.


Lance: Going to another issue Dr Makoni, much closer to your own movement. I believe last Wednesday several members of the National Coordinating Committee of the Mavambo Movement led by retired Major Kudzai Mbudzi, convened a press conference at which they announced the decision that they had deposed you as leader of Mavambo and several accusations were made. What is the current position regarding the leadership of the Mavambo Movement?


Makoni: Well I can tell you that I am talking to you from my office at our movement offices. I am functioning normally, so are all the other colleagues who are involved with us in leading the movement towards a political party. We’ve heard of this political development but it has not affected our operation. The people you mention are disaffected by the fact that they failed to achieve material gains they set out to achieve in rallying behind me. Let me say that when I announced my candidacy, all kinds of characters joined the movement with all kinds of agenda’s, objectives and ambitions. Many of them have fallen by the way side because they have realized that we are not mercenaries, we are not wicked, we are not crooked, we are not criminals, we are not greedy, we are not dishonest, and because they cant fit into an honest set up of integrity and service they have decided to take their way and we say goodbye.


Lance: Its interesting Major Kudzai Mbudzi pointed to one issue which a lot of people have raised in various forums. He alleges that you still have strong links with Zanu PF and that you still have clandestine meetings with several senior Zanu PF officials. I don’t know if we can maybe talk about this. Is that a correct representation of the situation?


Makoni: No it is not. Remember that one of my key platforms in the election campaign was I was a unifier. I don’t want to divide the people of Zimbabwe. I can confirm to you that I continue to relate to people who are members of the MDC and some are members of Zanu PF, some are members of other political parties some are not in any political party. I meet with all those Zimbabweans as Zimbabweans not clandestinely but quite openly in broad daylight. It is curious that Mbudzi decides to point to my relations with Zanu PF members and not with MDC members, with members of the labour movement, with the Christian leadership. I relate normally with all Zimbabweans because I quest for unity and commitment to service. I am not a factionalist.


Lance: Let me also touch on another issue. Mbudzi also claimed that you promoted the system of patronage and division and ethnicity and he says out of a total 10 members of the management committee 7 could be traced to your tribal roots and village of origin. Would you maybe want to address those claims?


Makoni: I think that kind of trash is belonging to Mbudzi, I do not discuss those terms, I relate to Zimbabweans of all walks of life. I relate to Zimbabweans from all stations of society, from all regions of the country. I am a national leader; I am not a village leader.


Lance: And maybe before I move on to another subject, one more claim that Mbudzi made were he is saying you withheld donations that were made to the movement and the figures quoted there are from US1,5 million to about US$3 million. The financial issues, how was that laid out in terms of the movement, were these donations that were made towards your presidential bid or to the movement?


Makoni: All I can say is that those who are in the movement, know how we are operating, are not raising those questions and I won’t dignify Mbudzi by answering that kind of question. The movement is functioning normally, openly, transparently and genuine and committed activists of the movement are not asking Mbudzi’s questions. Mbudzi was with us until September, left us of his own volition and therefore it’s no longer of his interest since September when he bade us farewell, to be raising those issues. But movement activists are working normally to create the party that will work for the people of Zimbabwe.


Lance: Dr Makoni when I interviewed Dumiso Dabengwa I asked him why he had in a sense left the Mavambo Movement to reform PF ZAPU and asked whether you two had fallen out. He sort of refused to answer the question. I don’t know if I can pose the same question to you and say how are relations between yourself and Mr. Dabengwa and did the two of you fall out that caused him maybe to leave the movement?


Makoni: Well our relations are normal. The last time I had a discussion with Dumiso it was cordial, it was normal, it was rational. I have followed developments involving him in the media and in public discourse. I haven’t had the opportunity to discuss with him how he went that direction. But again that is the essence of democracy. People choose associations of their own free will and Dumiso is at liberty to do that, I don’t begrudge him and I wish him well.


Lance: My final question to you Dr Makoni, you are obviously former finance minister, Morgan Tsvangirai in his inauguration speech spoke about paying all civil servants in foreign currency. We’ve also seen the appointment of Tendai Biti as the country’s new finance minister, what do you make of those developments? Firstly do you think its practical to pay all civil servants in foreign currency and what do you make of Biti’s appointment as finance minister?


Makoni: Well I would like to say that it is not appropriate to assess an individual, I would like to see the whole government team in place. So I am waiting with bated breadth for the appointment and installation of ministers tomorrow (Friday). When we see that total line up behind 3 Presidents and 3 Prime Ministers, which is such a cumbersome and clumsy arrangement for a country like ours in its current state we will then be able to make a read of whether that set up can deliver or cannot deliver and so I would seek patience on your part, lets have this conversation tomorrow (Friday) or the day after tomorrow when the full government team is in place and we can begin to read the potential of its delivery or non-delivery.


Lance: And what about the issue of paying civil servants in foreign currency, what do you make of that?


Makoni: Well I actually haven’t seen the actual statement to read what the Prime Minister is said to have said. But what it begs at face value is where will the money come from? Because Zimbabwe under current circumstances I don’t believe is in any position to pay all civil servants in foreign currency unless they are being paid a pittance. So it is a very curious question, but Morgan Tsvangirai is now the Prime Minister, probably he has a little pot of gold somewhere that he will reveal to the nation.


Lance: That was Dr Simba Makoni, former finance minister and leader of the Mavambo Movement joining us on Behind the Headlines. Dr Makoni thank you so much for sparing us your time.


To listen to the audio interview click here


Lance Guma
SW Radio
Mobile: +44-777-855-7615
Tel: +44-208-387-1415

Full broadcast on Shortwave: 4880 kHz and
11745 KHz. Also available 24 hours on the internet.

You can also access archives at

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A letter from the diaspora

      Friday, 13 February 2009
      Watching a sour-faced President Robert Mugabe at Prime Minister
Tsvangirai's inauguration, it was difficult to believe that anything good
would come out of this botched up Government of National Unity. But then no
one seemed to be smiling, it was rather like a shotgun wedding where both
sides knew that there was no alternative. They had to go through this sham
of a wedding to give their relationship legitimacy but no one really
believed that the marriage would last.
      It was a different matter at the 'reception' after the ceremony. Lots
of smiling happy MDC faces and shouts of joy from the thousands gathered in
Glamis Stadium to welcome the new Prime Minister. "We used to be dead. Now
we are alive," said one observer." This is the start of change." That's what
we all desperately want to believe that, we all want to hope that Zimbabwe
has turned the corner at last but the signs are not good. Right up to the
very last moment before Tsvangirai's inauguration we were all longing to see
the activists released - but it did not happen. It would have been a sign of
Mugabe's good faith, a sign that perhaps we could place some reliance on him
to do the right thing. The Prime Minister referred specifically to the
plight of the abducted activists but carefully did not say what steps he
would take if they were not released. Then on Thursday, the very day that
Morgan Tsvangiri became Prime Minister, three of the abductees were taken to
the Avenues clinic for medical treatment. Jestina Mukoko, Ghandi Mudzingwa
and Fidelis Chiramba were each seen by two sets of doctors from the state
and private sector. The doctors all agreed that the three were in urgent
need of hospitalization but according to reports they were once again taken
back into custody at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison. So much for hope, so
much for placing any trust at all in Robert Mugabe and his murderous regime.
Hope deferred again!
      There was one sign that Morgan Tsvangirai perhaps had some influence -
if not real power. To his credit, one of his first calls as Prime Minister
was to Chikurubi to visit the detainees. Despite the fact that the service
chiefs, including the head of the Prison Service, have vowed never to salute
Morgan Tsvangirai, the guards on the prison gates apparently gave Tsvangirai
a snappy salute and addressed him as Prime Minister. Perhaps that was a good
sign, I wondered, but if it was, then it was the last one. As I write on
this Friday 13th February the BBC are reporting that Roy Bennet the Deputy
Minister of Agriculture in the new government has been arrested, allegedly
at Charles Prince Airport while attempting to board a flight to South
Africa. The Zimbabwean this morning contained a heart-warming picture of Roy
with his arms round a smiling black man.  There they were, their faces
wreathed in beautiful smiles. It was surely a sign of hope for the new
      Now Roy is again under arrest. I phoned home immediately. 'Was it
true?' I asked and the news was confirmed. 'Pachedu' is indeed in the hands
of the Law and Order department. The ZBC, I was told, is also reporting that
the new government has not yet been sworn in. The ceremony was due to take
place at 10.OO Zim time. It is not hard to understand the reason for the
delay; Roy Bennet was one of the MDC's cabinet nominees and without him the
swearing in cannot take place. or can it?
      It begins to seem that nothing will halt the MDC's progress, if that's
what it is, into government; not the violent abduction and imprisonment of
activists, not the arrest of their own cabinet members and not the wholesale
infringement of human rights. The latest news is that the swearing in is
taking place even now - presumably without Roy Bennet. To those who have
been saying all week that it was all a terrible mistake getting into a
marriage of convenience with Robert Mugabe, I have to admit that it's
beginning to look as if they are right; hope and trust are just not in
Robert Mugabe's vocabulary. For the rest of us at home and in the diaspora,
hope is deferred yet again; none of us will be going home any time soon.

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Profile: Zimbabwe's political farmer
Friday, 13 February 2009

Roy Bennett (left) and Morgan Tsvangirai (right)
Morgan Tsvangirai (r) wants Roy Bennett to be his deputy agriculture minister

Like many of Zimbabwe's former white farmers, Roy Bennett - the opposition's nominee for deputy agricultural minister - is a little rough around the edges.

Since he entered politics nine years ago, winning a parliamentary seat for the newly formed Movement for Democratic Change, he has been a controversial figure.

Now he finds himself under arrest for a second time as the country's new power-sharing cabinet takes office.

I am not proud of what happened. But I am human, I snapped after many years of abuse and taunting
Roy Bennett

The coffee farmer-turned-politician, 51, has only recently returned to Zimbabwe after more than two years in exile in South Africa.

He fled after police sought his arrest in connection with an alleged plot against President Robert Mugabe.

But he is best known for losing his temper with Zanu-PF Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa in 2004 in a row over the land redistribution programme, which saw most of the country's 4,000 white farmers lose their land.

Many were forced from their homes by mobs of Zanu-PF supporters.

Mr Chinamasa called Mr Bennett's forefathers "thieves and murderers", saying he deserved to lose his farm after benefiting from a British colonial system that robbed black Zimbabweans of their land.

In the heat of the argument, Mr Bennett pushed the minister to the ground.

If, Mr Bennett ever takes up his post, he will come face-to-face with Mr Chinamasa again, as he has been named justice minister.

'Living hell'

"I am not proud of what happened. But I am human, I snapped after many years of abuse and taunting," he said afterwards.

Roy Bennett (file photo)
Roy Bennett lost 30kg during his time in prison
He told of how some of his employees had been killed and many were severely assaulted when militants took over his farm during the 2000 election campaign - the stress of which, he said, caused his wife to miscarry.

Zanu-PF MPs, however, were outraged by the assault which they described as "the worst attack on the dignity of the parliament".

They sentenced him to 15 months in prison - an experience he described as a living hell.

"I feel very sad for those that are left behind... because I should imagine if one gets to hell, that is what you experience," he said, after serving eight months.

The former champion polo player lost 30kg during his ordeal.

He said he was made to stand naked in front of prison guards and was then given a prison uniform covered with human excrement when he arrived in jail.


While Zanu-PF have sought to portray him as the embodiment of exploitative colonialism, he has proved a charismatic politician in his Chimanimani constituency - a beautiful mountainous region in eastern Zimbabwe which has long been an opposition stronghold.

Patrick Chinamasa
Patrick Chinamasa said Roy Bennett deserved to lose his farm

Fluent in the local Shona language, he is known by his nickname "Pachedu" which means "between us" - a colloquial reference to childhood secrets.

In South Africa, where his family was granted asylum after he was accused of trying to kill President Mugabe, Mr Bennett continued his role as national treasurer for the MDC.

The alleged plot surrounded the discovery of an arms cache - and eight other people, including another opposition MP, were also implicated.

They were later released and charges dropped, but Mr Bennett - it appears - was still wanted by police.

He went into hiding when he heard police were still after him and was arrested as he tried to fly out of the country from a small airfield north-west of the capital, Harare.

He told the BBC beforehand that he felt it was part of an attempt by Zanu-PF hardliners to scupper the new coalition government.

"They want us to walk away from this deal, he said. We've just got to be smarter than them," he said.

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Highfield clean-up campaign: Residents in action

13 February 2009


The residents in Highfield, in conjunction with the Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) conducted a clean up campaign yesterday (the 12th of February) at Lusaka Social centre in the Highfield. The popular action comes after the residents decided to remove piles of refuse that have accumulated at most community centres in the suburb as a result of the City of Harare’s failure to collect refuse since the beginning of last year.


Highfield is one of the Harare suburbs that have been adversely affected by the emergence of numerous informal dumping sites, a situation that has exposed the health of residents to cholera outbreaks that have been worsened by the onset of the rainy season. The waste management system in Harare deteriorated after the Makwavarara-led Commission failed to collect refuse from Harare’s suburbs during its term of office. The situation has not improved even after the newly elected Council assumed office late last year. However, residents are cognizant of the fact that the Council has a mammoth task to undo the damage that was done by the Commission and restore quality municipal service delivery in Harare, a task that is not an overnight job. Residents have, however, seen it fit to spearhead the restoration process through community-based popular action campaigns.


More than 50 residents participated in the campaign. Mr. Charles Beni, the CHRA Secretary who is also the Coordinator for Highfield Ward 24, said that the residents have also started community gardening where they grow different types of herbs for use by the community. The refuse that was removed from the Lusaka Social Centre where the clean-up campaign was carried out, was deposited in the composts that have been built for the purposes of community gardening. Mr Beni said that it is important for residents to explore ways of developing their communities and act responsibly to tackle the service delivery challenges that are being faced in their areas.


Residents received help from the Highfield Ward 24 Councilor who provided them with one wheelbarrow, brooms, rakes, hoes and shovels. CHRA provided a pick-up truck and some wheelbarrows.


The clean-up campaign is one of a series of other campaigns of the same nature which are lined up for Machembere Community Centre in Old Highfield, Zororo Centre and C J Hall in the same suburb.



Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA)

145 Robert Mugabe Way

Exploration House, Third Floor


 Landline: 00263- 4- 705114

Contacts: Mobile: 0912 653 074, 0913 042 981, 011862012 or email,



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Zimbabweans turn to hitchhiking, guerilla gardening and hopscotch

13 Feb 2009 15:04:00 GMT

Written by: Save the Children

Camilla Jones is visiting Zimbabwe as a child protection trainee for Save
the Children UK.

Venture just 15 minutes out of leafy, downtown Harare and you will find some
of the capital's oldest and most neglected suburbs. Today they are home to
those displaced by Operation Murambatsvina in 2005 and bear living testimony
to the real state the country is in.

On the road out of Harare proper we pass swathes of people walking out the
city. They stick their thumbs up for a lift as we pass. Due to astronomical
inflation, finding local transport in Harare is about as easy as finding a
bus in a London snowdrift. Cars are broken down, fuel is a luxury and if you
catch a local bus the chances are you'll be getting out to push every time
it stops - which from my experience of African buses will be a lot!

Apparently to catch a bus the short ride into town costs $1 for 2 people so
you have to travel with a partner to make it worthwhile - that is if you can
find yourself a dollar in the first place. It's really no wonder then that
people are trying to hitch a ride with us!

As we steam out of town on the highway we enter lush countryside, picked out
with Zimbabwe's famous rock formations. They look familiar and then I
realise that they also grace the face of the 10 trillion dollar bill in my
pocket. We pass clusters of small supermarkets and peering in I can see the
empty white shelves.

Since the government's approval for the use of foreign exchange, everything
is paid for in US dollars or South African rand. These precious notes are
like gold dust and so for the smaller shop owners and poorer consumers the
foreign currency isn't making much difference.

Unexpectedly, my first impressions of the suburb we're visiting are quite
heart-warming: rows of neatly tended gardens, children playing hopscotch in
the street and parents looking on watchfully as they sit together and chat
in the afternoon sun. But things are not what they seem.

The gardens and in fact every spare inch of earth around is crammed with
maize, growing tall and green. Demand for maize (used to make sadza the
nation's staple dish - looks like porridge, tastes like mashed potato) is so
high that people have been trading their only cattle for just a few bags.
This impromptu and unbalanced bartering system is a result of the financial
crisis and constitutes an extreme coping strategy.

The children are playing in the street because most have not returned to
school after their extended Christmas holiday. Without proper wages many
qualified teachers have left the country. Those remaining are mostly too
busy surviving to teach children that cannot afford to pay school fees in
foreign currency.

Many parents I meet are unable to pay these fees or find enough goods to pay
in kind with. As a result their children simply haven't been able to resume
their education. For a nation whose education system was once a shining
example in Africa, with 90 percent primary enrolment rate, this is a heavy

We paid a visit to a local school that we are supporting with education
materials, training and an early-childhood-development programme - something
the government has said should be available in every school, but because of
the recent economic disaster this initiative has received virtually no

The grade zero classroom (as it's known) is characterised by bare walls,
devoid of appropriate furniture or anything resembling toys and games; the
poorly supported teachers making the best of a desperate situation with
charades and songs - a far cry from the nursery education provided back in

I spoke to the head-teacher who is preparing for the best but fearing the
worst. Her dynamic and positive nature is emulated in the school motto -
"It's better to have a target and miss than to have no target at all."

While we discussed our programme she tended to parents enquiring about the
ways that they could pay their child's fees. She told us about the school's
lack of toilets and broken borehole, which have made ensuring proper hygiene
a serious challenge in the face of the cholera epidemic.

The cholera epidemic in Zimbabwe has now killed over 3,000 people and
infected over 60,000. This is the worst outbreak in Africa for 15 years and
is forecast to continue for the whole of 2009.

If schools like this one don't receive support to bring the water and
sanitation system up to scratch soon, serious risk could be posed to
teachers and students; many schools are not even able to raise the funds for
mops, buckets and detergent.

In some areas public gatherings are banned because of cholera fears and one
infected child in school could lead to a devastating outbreak; yet education
is seen as vital by the local communities and so no one wants the schools to

Like this head-teacher, every Zimbabwean I've met has been extremely
determined, dedicated and optimistic about their country. Perhaps people
feel that things can now surely only get better.

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