Feb 16, 2009, 14:45 GMT
Harare - The planned court appearance of detained Zimbabwean opposition
politician Roy Bennett failed to happen Monday because of prosecution
delays, his lawyer said.
Bennett, who was due to be sworn in later this week as deputy agriculture
minister in the country's new unity government, had been expected to appear
in court in the north-eastern city of Mutare to be formally charged with
But the prosecutor failed to arrive from Harare, where the investigating
police officer had taken the docket, Bennett's lawyer said.
It was not clear whether the hearing would take place Tuesday. The
magistrate granted police a request to detain him for a further 48 hours,
the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) said.
Bennett, who turned 52 Monday, was charged on Sunday in connection with an
alleged plot to topple President Robert Mugabe in 2006. Police had earlier
said he was being charged with treason but the charge was later reduced.
The former farmer, whose coffee plantation was seized in 2003 during the
country's lawless land reform campaign, was arrested outside Harare on
Friday, minutes before the inauguration of the country's new unity
He had returned to Zimbabwe only last month after nearly three years in
South Africa, where he fled arrest over the insurgency allegations, which
were later discredited during the trial of one of his co-accused.
Bennett's arrest marred the start of the difficult union of convenience
between Mugabe's Zanu-PF and the MDC.
The MDC has accused hardliners within Mugabe's party of trying to scupper
the interim power-sharing deal by continuing to crack down on party members
Besides Bennett, police are holding more than 30 other MDC members and
human-rights activists, mainly on charges of conspiring to topple Mugabe or
of banditry. The MDC dismisses these charges as politically motivated.
'As these charges have no basis in law, and are driven by a vindictive and
malicious political vendetta against Roy Bennett, we demand that they be
dropped and we seriously embark on national healing,' the MDC said in a
Report on the events of Friday 13 2009; the arrest and detention of Roy Bennett
The arrest of Roy Bennett was ordered by Assistant Commissioner Mabunda and Assistant Commissioner Nhau of Harare Police General Headquarters. Assistant Commissioner Mabunda is an Elder member of the ZAOGA Church in Harare.
Following the arrest of Mr. Bennett, at Charles Prince Airport in Harare, he was first taken to Goromonzi Police Station where he was charged with treason. He was then taken to Mutare Central. During the journey the accompanying personnel, who Mr. Bennett does not know the identity of, communicated regularly with Assistant Commissioners Mabunda and Nhau to keep them appraised of the situation along the way. It is not known whether they were aware that they were being followed throughout the journey. They stopped to refuel the vehicle in Marondera but were travelling at high speed and a witness described the driver as appearing to be nervous. The vehicle had been tracked from Harare and stopped to refuel in Marondera enabling the spotter vehicles to catch up and follow for the remainder of the journey to Mutare. Along the way communicating with a chain of activists at the ready to relay reports.
When the vehicle arrived at Mutare Central a crowd of peaceful MDC supporters gathered to show solidarity with Mr. Bennett. Word passed through the swelling crowd, that grew to approximately two hundred people, that the police were preparing to remove Mr. Bennett to a secret location. The registration plates had been removed from the Toyota Hilux 4 by 4 that brought Mr. Bennett to Mutare. The old registration plate, underneath the civilian registration plate since removed, registered GML.
The vehicle started to move so the crowd reacted by attempting to block the exit to prevent Mr. Bennett being taken to an unknown location. The crowd was singing and dancing peacefully. The police then started to try and move the crowd back and away from the exit. The crowd resisted vocally insisting that they did not want Mr. Bennett moved and were not moving. They were forced to retreat when the dogs appeared and the Police started threatening strong action and with truncheons forced the crowd back. The vehicle moved out of the police station with only one person in the vehicle. The crowd were permitted to inspect that it did not contain Mr. Bennett.
The crowd was not satisfied and wanted to hold an all night vigil to show solidarity. The police initially passively resisted the crowd but when the atmosphere became charged the riot police were brought in. Then the crowd was dispersed with police dogs and truncheons. They dispersed but slowly returned. The final disbursement was with indiscriminate firing of tear gas, dogs, rubber bullets and live rounds fired in the air. Two people were badly beaten by the police and several witness accounts indicated that the police brutality with the unlucky victims was vicious. The victims names are known and one was taken to hospital. The other could not be found. Some windows of shops were broken but nothing appeared to have been looted. Some people tried to defend themselves by picking up rocks from broken pavements and anything readily accessible to resist the violent actions of the police. The windows probably broke during these scuffles but the crowd showed no indication that there was any criminal intent in their behaviour.
MDC activists roamed the area throughout the night to communicate any attempt to remove Mr. Bennett.
At seven thirty on Saturday morning food was taken to the Police Station but the Police details manning the entrance refused access to not only the people with food for Mr. Bennett but all prisoners whose families were bringing meagre food portions for their relatives in detention. Inspector Florence Marume was most unpleasant and harsh and ordered that no feeding would occur that day. The Police Station was then blocked off and heavily armed police details then roamed the streets and forced the pedestrian and motor traffic away from the area. Eventually Mr. Bennett's lawyers were allowed access to him and food was taken in. Initially not even the lawyers were allowed access. Inspector Marume was advised that she would be held personally responsible for denying Mr. Bennett and other detainees food and legal counsel for Mr. Bennett. She was unmoved and could be seen directing operations from within the fence for several hours there after. Inspector Marume is an active member of the United Methodist Church in Mutare but whilst being of large healthy proportions herself denied food to detainees and Mr. Bennett's access to his lawyer.
In the afternoon Mr. Bennett was seen by MDC executives from the Province. He was in good spirits and was unharmed.
On Saturday, during the night, eight activists were apprehended by riot police. The roads surrounding the Mutare Central Police Station remain barricaded and manned by police details.
On Sunday morning Mr Bennett was allowed food and access to two lawyers and the Provincial executive. The Charging Officer was Superintendent Makoni from Bindura. He was courteous and Mr. Bennett was allowed private time with his lawyer. He was still unharmed. He has not been charged with treason but with a lesser charge. He will appear in court tomorrow, Monday. He has a strong support base monitoring the situation and maintaining a presence around the police station reporting on any events that unfold.
Issued by the Movement for Democratic Change, February 16 2009
Account Name : F Friends of
Account Name :Friends of Roy Bennett
|Acct No : 1589406079|
|Sort Code : 158952|
|Bank : Nedbank|
|Swift code: NEDSZAJJ|
February 16, 2009
From Our Correspondent
MUTARE - Lawyers representing incarcerated top MDC official Roy Bennett want
the High Court to order the police to immediately present him to court.
Chris Ndlovu one of Bennett's lawyers said they would petition the High
Court on Tuesday to force the police to release Bennett to court. This was
after the police had successfully sought a warrant to further detain the MDC
treasurer and Deputy Minister of Agriculture-designate for a further 48
hours. Bennett who was arrested in Harare on Friday was rushed to Mutare 270
km away where he was detained over the weekend.
He was initially charged with attempting to leave the country illegally.
This charge was subsequently changed to one of treason. Finally, Bennett was
expected to appear in court on Monday to face charges under Section 61 of
the notorious Public Order and Security Act (POSA) for allegedly conspiring
to acquire arms with a view to committing acts of sabotage, banditry and
The warrant to further detain the Deputy Minister-Designate was signed by
regional magistrate Billiard Musakwa.
Meanwhile, there was tension among MDC supporters who gathered outside the
On Friday hundreds of MDC supporters besieged the Mutare Central Police
Station and prevented the transfer of Bennett to another police station.
They held a vigil outside the police station throughout the weekend.
About 10 MDC activists were arrested and are still being held at Mutare
Central Police Station.
Bennett was expected to appear in court today (Monday) but police did not
bring him to court. His docket was reportedly taken to police headquarters
in Harare. The investigating officer, a Superintendent Makoni, was
reportedly summoned to Harare to update his superiors on the case.
By Peta Thornycroft
16 February 2009
Zimbabwe's newly-nominated deputy agricultural minister, Movement for
Democratic Change party treasurer Roy Bennett, is being held on charges of
attempting to acquire weapons. Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai says
Bennett's arrest was politically motivated and the MDC has asked for his
Senior policemen were sent from Harare to Mutare to deal with the
high-profile case that has cast a pall of gloom over Zimbabwe's new
government of national unity.
State media said Bennett is accused of a plot in connection with a weapons
case heard three years ago in which Peter Hitschman was cleared, but then
convicted and sentenced to a jail term for possession of unlicensed weapons
and ammunition. All of the other people arrested in the Hitschman case were
later released without charge.
New MDC Minister For Constitutional Affairs Eric Matinenga is an advocate
for Hitschmann. He said Bennett's name did not come up in that trial.
Hitschmann, a gunsmith, is due to be released from prison in June.
According to the MDC, Bennett was improperly arrested when he was dragged
off an aircraft Friday, by people who did not identify themselves. He was
then driven at high speed to Mutare where he was locked up without an arrest
warrant and denied lawyers for several hours.
As news spread of Bennett's detention, hundreds of youths swarmed into the
Mutare city center shouting his name. Police fired live bullets to disperse
them and sealed off streets around the police station.
At least 10 people were arrested in connection with the spontaneous
demonstration of support for Bennett, a legendary political personality in
Prime Minister Tsvangirai blamed Zanu PF party hardliners for Bennett's
arrest, saying it undermined the spirit of the political agreement which led
to the unity government.
Education Minister Senator David Coltart, a lawyer who was like Bennett a
founding member of the MDC, said Roy Bennett had returned to Zimbabwe openly
from exile in South Africa and that he could be trusted to attend court if
he were put on trial.
He said the manner of Bennett's arrest smacked of vindictiveness and was
possibly a move by hawks in the Zanu PF party to cause the unity government
When Bennett is charged the MDC will be trying to arrange bail for him.
Zimbabwe lawyers for human rights are still struggling to secure the release
on bail of at least 13 other MDC members taken from their homes last
MUTARE, Zimbabwe, Feb 16 - Zimbabwe's MDC may be reluctant to quit the new
unity government formed to lead the country out of economic crisis, despite
the arrest of one of its senior officials, a top party official said on
"You have to sympathise with people that have no other hope other than this
experiment. That alone is a force that will make you take a lot of nonsense
for their sake," Finance Minister Tendai Biti of the MDC told South Africa's
Talk Radio 702.
He had been asked whether the MDC would pull out of the government if MDC
Treasurer General Roy Bennett and other political prisoners were not
"We will have to call an (emergency) meeting of our national council and
decide," Biti said.
Bennett was expected to appear in court on Monday in the eastern city of
Mutare to face charges of planning terrorism and insurgency, just days after
a cabinet was sworn in, his lawyer, Trust Maanda, said.
The development threatens the credibility of the new administration with
President Robert Mugabe, whose formation after long negotiations was aimed
at leading Zimbabwe out of a political and economic crisis.
Foreign investors and Western donors want concrete signs of stability in
Zimbabwe. They have made it clear that funds will not flow until a
democratic government is created and economic reforms are made.
Bennett, who was meant to be deputy agriculture minister in the new
administration, was arrested before new ministers were sworn in on Friday.
Dozens of heavily armed police were deployed outside the Mutare courthouse.
About 100 MDC supporters held "Free Roy!" placards.
Bennett had 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.
He is accused of being involved in funding for arms and explosives to be
used to sabotage essential services, Maanda said. Bennett has denied the
charges and believes they are politically motivated, he said.
The MDC said treason charges against him had been dropped. Police have not
been available to comment on the case. As finance minister, Biti faces the
enormous task of figuring out a way to rescue Zimbabwe's ruined economy.
"It's a million-dollar question," he said. "You are dealing with a battered
economy. And the challenge is to panel beat it into some semblance of an
economy in a very short period of time. The honeymoon is going to be very
Zimbabweans face unemployment above 90 percent and prices that double every
day. Half the 12 million population need food aid and a cholera epidemic has
killed more than 3,500 people.
© Reuters Limited
By Violet Gonda
16 February 2009
Roy Bennett is no stranger to Zimbabwe's prisons. In 2004 he spent eight
months in jail for pushing Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa in parliament,
after being provoked and verbally abused. Now the MDC Treasurer General and
Deputy Minister of Agriculture designate has just spent his 52nd birthday in
a Mutare police cell, facing charges of plotting to destabilise the Mugabe
His lawyer Trust Maanda, said the MDC official who was arrested last Friday,
is being accused of 'funding the acquisition of firearms for purposes of
committing insurgency, banditry, terrorism and sabotage'. It is alleged he
conspired with Peter Hitschmann to use the firearms to damage essential
services, in order to destabilise the government.
Bennett completely denies the charges, saying they are motivated purely by
The MDC official was supposed to appear in court on Monday but the Attorney
General's office said it was sending a prosecutor from Harare, despite the
fact that the State could have provided a prosecutor from Mutare. Maanda
believes this is in order to have someone who is politically savvy.
It is not clear when the MDC official will be released and the lawyer said
the State does not appear to be in a hurry. The police applied, and were
granted, a warrant of further detention on Monday.
As a Deputy Minister Bennett is supposed to be sworn into the new inclusive
government this week.
Ironically, while Bennett is facing these 'insurgency' charges, several MDC
officials, including the new Home Affairs Minister Giles Mutsekwa, were
acquitted of the same charges when the allegations were made in 2006.
And although Hitschmann was found guilty and jailed for three years for
possessing unregistered firearms, he was also acquitted of being in
possession of firearms to threaten the Mugabe regime.
Maanda said: "It boggles the mind how the same weapons which were involved
in that case can now be said to be having been for purposes of banditry by
Roy Bennett, especially as those who were alleged to have taken part were
The lawyer said Bennett's incarceration does not bode well for the unity
government and that it shows that ZANU PF did not enter into the unity
government agreement with sincerity.
As usual the regional body SADC, who are guarantors of the power sharing
deal, have been completely silent, in spite of the fact that Bennett was
arrested on the day the head of SADC and South African President Kgalema
Motlanthe was in Harare. Furthermore scores of political detainees, all
facing spurious charges, are still in jail despite numerous appeals by the
new Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai for their release.
Seven detainees were supposed to be brought to court on Monday for their
repeal remand and to get a trial date set, but they did not appear as once
again prison authorities claimed they had no fuel to take them to court.
The State did however have fuel to transport Bennett from one police station
after another on Friday. In the course of the day Bennett was moved from
Charles Prince airport just outside Harare, to Goromonzi, then to Marondera
police station and finally to Mutare. Perhaps that is where all the fuel
But the State could not transport freelance photojournalist Anderson
Shadreck Manyere and six MDC activists, the short distance from Chikurubi
prison to the Magistrates' court in Harare.
The magistrate postponed the remand proceedings of the seven to Wednesday.
They are facing allegations of banditry, sabotage and terrorism.
Meanwhile, the Director of the Zimbabwe Peace Project, Jestina Mukoko,
Tsvangirai's former aide Ghandi Mudzingwa and 72 year old MDC activist
Fidelis Chiramba were finally hospitalised on Friday night after a Harare
Magistrate ruled they should be 'detained' in hospital, following doctors'
One of their lawyers, Charles Kwaramba, said the three are in a critical
condition. Despite their physical weakness they are under armed guard at the
He said ideally all political detainees should be receiving treatment as a
result of the torture they were subjected to by members of the Central
Intelligence Organisation, but the State continues to block attempts to have
them all hospitalised.
February 16, 2009
By Mxolisi Ncube
JOHANNESBURG - Ten people, who include members of a Zimbabwean pressure
group and a privately-owned radio station, were still detained at a police
station in Bulawayo Monday afternoon, after they were arrested in the city
during a Valentine's Day march Saturday.
Allegations were made that members of staff at the Chronicle newspapers in
Bulawayo had pointed out WOZA members to the police who immediately arrested
The 10, who include seven members of the Bulawayo-based pressure group -
Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) and three members of Radio Dialogue, a
privately-owned radio station also based in the same city, had still not
been charged Monday afternoon, more than 48 hours after their arrest,
according to a statement released by WOZA Monday afternoon.
WOZA said that the 10 were still being denied legal representation, as
police have, since Saturday, turned away their defence lawyer, Kossam Ncube,
who had since launched a High Court Appeal to be granted access to his
"The defence lawyer, Kossam Ncube, has tried to gain access since their
arrest but has been unable to secure an audience with his clients," said
"An urgent application to the High Court for the group to be allowed access
to their legal representation has been drafted and is due for submission
immediately after lunch."
The organization said that after some "interactions" with the police at the
station, it had learnt that dockets were still not complete, amid
allegations of a disagreement as to the way to proceed on what charges
should be laid against the 10.
"Charges being discussed are Section 37 1 b of the Criminal Law
(Codification and Reform) Act - 'participating in gathering with intent to
promote public violence, breaches of the peace or bigotry' and displaying
placards with obscene messages. Most of the messages on placards mentioned
the need for quality education and for children to go to school," said WOZA.
"One of the members had left her baby at home and as the family did not have
foreign currency to buy milk for the child, they brought the baby to the
police station to be breast-fed. A police officer asked the support team to
make sure the baby did not spend the night in the cells and detention room
are 'very dirty even for us'."
They were arrested Saturday, as police violently broke up a peaceful march
they were holding to commemorate Valentine's Day.
According to an earlier statement released by the Bulawayo-based
organization Saturday evening, the 10, who were part of about 800 marchers
that took to the streets Saturday morning, were still held by the police at
about 5pm that day, and were being denied legal representation, as lawyers
from the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) were allegedly turned away
four times by the police.
WOZA identified some of those arrested as Praise Mlangeni, Barbara Bepe,
Patience Mpofu, Shingirai Mupani and Gladys Dube.
The militant organization also accused the police of having randomly beaten
up people in their bid to stop the demonstrations, during which the marchers
were distributing fliers and roses, while also singing love songs.
WOZA also accused staff from a Bulawayo-based, government-controlled daily
newspaper - The Chronicle, of assisting the police to identify some of its
members for the arrests.
"Chronicle staff members were also seen to be pointing out WOZA members who
had delivered Valentine's cards and roses to their offices to the police,
leading to their arrest," said WOZA.
"The demonstrations and the chaotic and violent dispersal were witnessed by
three South African observers from civic society - Precious Myeza from South
African National NGO Coalition (SANGOCO), Sakina Mohamed from the South
African Council of Churches and Bunie Matlanyane Sexwale from Khulumani
Support Group as part of the Save Zimbabwe Now Coalition.
"All were present to provide solidarity with WOZA members today as it was
strongly suspected that police would react oppressively as there is little
doubt in the minds of ordinary Zimbabweans that the unity government has not
changed anything on the ground."
According to WOZA, the marchers' aim was to urge Zimbabweans to "let love
light the way" on Valentines Day.
"Today's (Saturday) demonstration also marks the first public action in
Bulawayo of the new WOZA campaign - Take the Step, which is designed to
encourage Zimbabweans to continue with the civic participation that they
demonstrated in March 2008."
Coming at the dawn of a new unity government between President Robert Mugabe's
ZANU (PF) and the opposition MDC, WOZA described the arrests of its members
between Tuesday and Saturday, that of opposition official Roy Bennett, and
the continued incarceration of civil rights workers and other opposition
officials, as an indication that the new unity government would fail.
"The events in Bulawayo today (Saturday), together with the arrest of the 10
people after Tuesday's protest, the arrest of MDC Treasurer Roy Bennett on
the day of the swearing in of Ministers and the continued incarceration of
Jestina Mukoko and other abductees despite court orders instructing their
release, are further evidence however that nothing has changed in Zimbabwe.
"More than ever Zimbabweans need to remain vigilant and participate in
defending their rights and freedoms against a regime determined to cling to
power despite the platitudes they mouth that they are prepared to share
By Lance Guma
16 February 2009
While the rest of the world was celebrating the spirit of love during
Valentines Day on Saturday, police in Bulawayo were busy arresting
protesting members of the group Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA). A total of
100 activists were initially arrested, but because only 4 policemen were
carrying out the screening process, the vast majority managed to slip away
from the City Hall where they had been taken. This left 10 activists,
including 2 members from Radio Dialogue, under arrest.
A press statement from the group says at least 800 WOZA members, including
their male colleagues in Men of Zimbabwe Arise (MOZA), demonstrated on the
city streets urging Zimbabweans 'to let love light the way'. The arrested
were later taken to Bulawayo Central Police Station.
On Monday they were still in custody with their lawyers being denied access
to them. WOZA leader Jenni Williams told Newsreel they had planned an urgent
application at the High Court to insist on access to their legal
representation. The courts however closed early on Monday, for as yet
On Saturday WOZA had planned the demonstration using 4 groups of protesters,
each starting from a different point in the city. All 4 groups were to meet
at 9th Avenue in the city centre before marching to the offices of the state
owned Chronicle newspaper. Although 3 groups did meet up, the 4th one was
blocked by riot police. The combined procession to the Chronicle never
materialized after police cornered the group and arrested scores, including
someone who was taking pictures of the demonstration. Despite the crackdown
several WOZA members slipped away and converged at the newspaper offices to
deliver Valentine's cards, roses and flyers.
WOZA has always used Valentines Day to urge Zimbabweans to 'choose love over
hate' and Saturday's march marked the 7th anniversary of the group's birth.
Last week Tuesday WOZA demonstrated at the parliament building in Harare
resulting in the arrest of 8 of its members including 2 lawyers. All 10 were
only released on Thursday. WOZA say the continued crackdown on pro-democracy
activists, some of who have been in custody for close to 5 months, show that
nothing has changed in Zimbabwe.
16 February 2009
Amnesty International has called on the African Union and the United Nations
to send monitors to investigate human rights violations committed by
Zimbabwe's security forces during the current transitional period. This
follows the arrest of human rights activists and Roy Bennett, a prominent
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) politician.
"A number of events that have taken place since the swearing in of a new
government in Zimbabwe suggest that there is a force within the Zimbabwean
security forces, that continues ordering violations of human rights as a
method of dealing with people they do not like," said Simeon Mawanza Amnesty
International's Zimbabwe expert.
On 14 February police in Bulawayo arrested 10 activists after they
participated in a peaceful protest. Seven women from the activist
organisation Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) and three men from Radio
Dialogue are being held at Bulawayo Central police station.
One of the women in custody is a breast-feeding mother and has been
separated from her child which is now in the care of relatives. They have
not been charged and their lawyer has been denied access.
The organization's call also follows the arrest of MDC politician, Roy
Bennett, on Friday 13 February at an airport in Harare by police officers
from the Law and Order Section of the Zimbabwe Republic Police. Roy Bennett
is being held at Mutare Central police station and is being charged under
section 61 of the repressive Public Order and Security Act: conspiring to
acquire arms with a view to disrupting essential services.
Police are reported to have applied and obtained an order to detain him for
another 48 hours. Roy Bennett is meant to be sworn in as Deputy Agriculture
Minister some time this week.
"The arrest of Roy Bennett, a high profile figure, on what appear to be
politically motivated charges reveals the level of challenges facing the
unity government and demonstrates the urgent need to have an international
presence to oversee the transitional process," said Simeon Mawanza.
Police have failed to take Roy Bennett and the Bulawayo activists to court
today. The detainees are likely to spend more time in custody.
"Amnesty International considers all those arrested for exercising their
internationally guaranteed rights to peaceful protest and freedom of
association to be prisoners of conscience and therefore calls for their
immediate and unconditional release," said Simeon Mawanza.
The names of the women activists from WOZA who are being held at Bulawayo
Central police station are: Barbara Bepe, Patience Mpofu, Praise Mlangeni,
Gladys Dube, Shingirai Mupani, Virginia Sithole, and Peace Mthethwa. Three
men from Radio Dialogue, Thandazani Nkomo, Zenzele Ndebele and Oscar Hungwe,
were also arrested at the same time.
Radio Dialogue is a non-profit making community radio station aspiring to
broadcast to the community of Bulawayo and surrounding areas. It aims to
provide a channel for debate and information sharing on economic, political,
social, cultural and developmental issues. Radio Dialogue has been denied a
licence by the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe. While it awaits the time
that community broadcasters such as Radio Dialogue are granted licences, it
functions as a recording and production studio so that when such a time
comes it is immediately ready to go on air.
Monday, 16 February 2009
HARARE - The Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), has
dispatched a team of experts to investigate the distribution of farming
inputs availed by the regional bloc to help Zimbabwe prepare for the
planting season last year.
SADC Executive Secretary Tomaz SalomaoSADC provided the country with
farming inputs, which included fertilisers and maize seed, under a USD30
million facility, under-written by the South Africangovernment, but it
emerged that the facility was abused by politicians, among them seven
Movement Democratic Change (MDC) legislators who allegedly sold the inputs
on the parallel market.
Tomaz Augusto Salomao, the executive secretary of SADC Secretariat,
said his officials would conduct a fact-finding mission to establish the
extent to which fertiliser and seed had been distributed as well as the
number of farmers who benefited from the programme.
In a statement, Salamao said the programme would kick off on Monday up
to Wednesday, following the launch of the Zimbabwe Human and Development
Assistance Framework, aimed at managing the assistance that SADC has
provided to Zimbabwe.
An All Stakeholders Working Committee was drawn from the Zimbabwe
Government, the private sector, farmers union organisations, United Nations
agencies, churches and donors, to oversee the non-partisan, transparent and
efficient distribution of the aid.
The agricultural inputs distributed under the programme include
Compound D & top dressing fertiliszer, early-maturing maize seed, sorghum,
sugar beans, cowpeas and groundnuts, all sourced from South Africa.
The Ministry of Agriculture is responsible for distribution while the
Grain Marketing Board, is responsible for storing the inputs.
February 16, 2009
By Owen Chikari
MASVINGO - Striking teachers will not go back to work despite a promise by
prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai that they will be paid in foreign currency
this month, union officials said Monday.
The teachers say they will only resume duty if they are given a clear
breakdown of how much each will get a month.
Soon after being sworn in as Prime Minister, Tsvangirai addressed a rally
where he urged all striking teachers to report for work on Monday promising
them salaries in foreign currency this month.
An official with the Zimbabwe Teachers Association (ZIMTA) said while they
welcomed the announcement by Tsvangirai, the teachers wanted to receive
detailed accounts of their proposed hard currency packages.
"We really appreciate the move to pay us in foreign currency because that is
what we have been calling for," said a ZIMTA official.
"What is now left is to clearly state the amount every teacher will get and
we will weigh, as a union, whether to resume duty or not.
"As teachers we are really committed to going back to the classroom once
financial resources have been made available.
"We want a situation where every teacher is properly dressed, gets a decent
lunch and has money to buy basics and also send his children to school."
The Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) also said teachers would
not go back to work unless their demands were addressed.
PTUZ president Takavafira Zhou said: "Our demands are still the same.
Telling us that we will be paid in forex is not enough.
"We want the issue of remuneration to be resolved once and for all".
Nearly all schools visited by The Zimbabwe Times Monday were still closed as
most appeared deserted.
Zimbabwean teachers have been on strike since September 2008 arguing that
there salaries are now totally inadequate.
Sources within the inclusive government on Monday revealed that union
officials and government would meet Wednesday to discuss the final details
of teachers' packages.
Last week, the government threatened to fire all striking teachers saying
they would be replaced by temporary staff.
Stephen Mahere, the permanent in the ministry of education, said those who
fail to report for duty by February 9 would be fired. The teachers ignored
From The Cape Argus (SA), 16 February
President bids for more ministers
By Stanley Gama
Zimbabwean deputy ministerial nominee Roy Bennett, who was arrested last
Friday on treason charges, could be used as a bargaining chip by President
Robert Mugabe to try to get more of his own ministers into the unity
cabinet. Mugabe seems desperate to appoint more ministers to the already
bloated cabinet as he seeks to appease disgruntled loyalists, according to
Zanu PF sources. A planned meeting between Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan
Tsvangirai to resolve the Bennett arrest failed to materialise on Saturday.
Tsvangirai's spokesman, James Maridadi, said both Tsvangirai and Mugabe had
other commitments, but would meet "to resolve the matter in due course".
Bennett, who is nominated to become the deputy minister of agriculture this
week, was arrested just before the swearing in of ministers on Friday. He
was first charged with treason, but the charges have since been replaced
with at-tempting to commit terrorism, banditry and sabotage. He was arrested
despite reports at the weekend that the SADC and the government had struck a
deal not to arrest him.
Zanu PF sources said yesterday that Mugabe could use Bennett to bargain for
the inclusion of more ministers in government, as the 84-year-old faces a
major revolt over his controversial appointment of cabinet ministers. Many
loyal Zanu PF officials are livid at being left out, as Mugabe could appoint
only 15 ministers, when he usually had more than 30. He left out many who
thought they were guaranteed cabinet posts. Five of those came to Friday's
ceremony with their families, expecting to be sworn in, only to be ditched
at the altar in the full public gaze. "Bennett's arrest has presented
President Mugabe with a good opportunity to put more ministers in the
cabinet to silence them," the source said. "There have been suggestions
within our circles that if Bennett is to be freed, the MDC should agree to
appoint more ministers in the already unnecessarily huge cabinet," said a
top Zanu PF official. Bennett's arrest is a crucial test of the fragile
power-sharing deal between Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change and
Zanu PF. Both Tsvangirai and MDC secretary-general Tendai Biti, now Minister
of Finance, blasted Zanu PF after Bennett's arrest, saying it showed that
some people in Mugabe's party were not ready for the power-sharing deal.
Bennett is a coffee farmer from Chimanimani, a lush region near Mozambique.
He had returned last month from three years of self-imposed exile in South
Africa, where he fled to escape charges of plotting to kill Mugabe.
From The Cape Argus (SA), 15 February
Final push for land before Mugabe's birthday
Zimbabwean farmer Michael Mackersie goes to court tomorrow for the 63rd time
in three years. "If I lose this one, I think that will be it," he said last
week. He has been acquitted of all charges he has faced so far, including
trespassing on his farm, Chipangu, the northern-most commercial farm in
Zimbabwe. He is one of the many victims of a sudden rush to evict the few
hundred remaining white farmers. The new campaign has a deadline: the day
before President Robert Mugabe's birthday on Sunday. It seems as though
obsequious Zanu PF officials want to present him with a birthday gift - the
completion of his nine-year old landgrab - before the unity government
launched on Friday stops it. The SADC-negotiated unity government sworn in
last week prohibits further disruptions on farms. On Tuesday, in at least
two districts, and in contravention of justice laws, groups of magistrates,
prosecutors and selected police met to plan their final assault. In Mutare,
250km east of Harare, such a group planned the strategy of mass summons to
farmers, putting them on trial a day or two later, and convicting and
jailing them for up to two years to prevent them returning home and to allow
new occupants, mostly military men, to move in. The Law Society of Zimbabwe
says if it can prove any of the government judicial officers were members of
these groups they would be expelled.
The new land grab has two elements. One is violent harassment, as in the
case of Mike Odendaal, one of the last three dairy farmers in eastern
Zimbabwe who is surrounded by militia, locked in his house near Chipinge,
about 60km south of Mutare. "We have advised him to stay inside. If he moves
outside he may be attacked and they will take his house and then he is gone"
said Deon Theron, vice president of the Commercial Farmers' Union. "This is
the biggest push against us in the last few years, worse than the violent
weeks after the MDC won last year's election." Mackersie, a single father of
three teenagers, in the last three years has had his house trashed twice,
his personal and farming equipment stolen by assailants, has been beaten to
a pulp twice and seen many of his 80 workers assaulted. The man who wants
his farm - and Mackersie has already given two-thirds to the state - is
Nyasha Nyangani, from the feared Central Intelligence Organisation. "I am
pretty lonely here, no friends for miles around. I must be mad, but I am not
sure I can keep going any longer. But I keep on thinking I am too old to
start doing something else now." His charge is trespassing on his land, as
it now belongs to the state.
Charles Lock was not home in eastern Zimbabwe last week when police
delivered a summons for him to appear in court on Wednesday, the day MDC
leader Morgan Tsvangirai was sworn in as prime minister. In court 24 hours
after the strategy meeting between judicial officers and the police at the
barracks of 3 Brigade in Mutare, was one of Lock's workers on whom the
summons had been served. Also in court was Brigadier-General Justin Mujaji,
who has been trying to get onto Lock's farm Karori for several years. Lock
has the largest maize crop in eastern Zimbabwe even though he too has given
the state two-thirds of his land. But he responded to calls by the community
to grow food as three-quarters of the population needs emergency food aid
according to the UN. "I have been told by sympathisers in the system, that I
was to be charged, found guilty and immediately jailed so that I could not
get back to the farm. I am in hiding." Last July Lock was locked into his
house by General Mujaji, but crawled out under the security fence at night
and walked a long journey to the main road and escaped. The remaining
white-owned commercial farms are also havens from cholera as it spreads into
rural areas, as there is clean water and safe sewage disposal on these farms
At least 3 500 have died from cholera and the World Health Organisation says
at least 100 000 will shortly have been infected, pushing the death toll to
about 5 700. Tens of thousands of farm worker families will have no work if
the hardliners in the security services succeed in delivering Mugabe his
By Alex Bell
16 February 2009
As the cholera crisis continues to rage on, unabated across the county,
health experts in Harare have called for urgent intervention into the city's
water sources - this after recent tests in the Budiriro suburb found all
water sources there to be contaminated with the cholera causing bacteria.
A team of experts from Bangladesh, working under the auspices of the World
Health Organisation (WHO) in Zimbabwe, have said in a recently released
report that water samples from taps, dug out wells, drain water and even
boreholes in the cholera-prone suburb, were found to be heavily contaminated
with the cholera causing coliform bacteria. The report has said the results
of the water samples collected from wells, used for both drinking and
household purposes, were 'alarming' given that according to WHO standards,
drinking water should not contain a single coliform.
The team of experts has said that the focus by medical teams and the country's
health department should be placed on the promotion of home use of oral
rehydration therapy, early reporting to health centres and further training
of health providers in case management. But in a country where WHO officials
themselves have admitted the spread of the disease is not under control, and
where the health system has collapsed, it remains to be seen how such
recommendations can be used in practice.
The epidemic has spread like wild fire through Zimbabwe, where the total
collapse of critical infrastructure such as water and sewerage systems has
provided the ideal scenario for the disease to flourish. The onset of the
rainy season has seen cholera spread further into isolated rural areas,
where treatment as well as clean water is all but nonexistent, and the
infection rate has climbed well beyond the 'worst-case-scenario' of 60 000
According to the latest figures released by the WHO last week, more than 73
000 cases have been reported since the outbreak last year, with nearly 4,000
official deaths. But with limited treatment centres available where cases
and deaths can be properly recorded, the official figures are feared to be a
small indication of the real extent of the outbreak. Last week, WHO
officials said the fatality rate as a result of cholera would need to be
below one percent in order to say the outbreak is under control - but with
current fatality rate as high as 4.8 percent and the infection rate
continuing to climb, the organisation has expressed fears that the worst is
yet to come.
Meanwhile, less than a week after Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai vowed to
fight the cholera epidemic as a priority of the new unity government, the
Australian government has committed a further US$5 million to fight the
disease. Foreign Affairs Minister Stephen Smith reportedly made the offer
directly to Tsvangirai during a telephone conversation last Friday. At the
same time, medical charity Merlin and a German NGO, GAA, have banded
together to provide vital health care for up to 500,000 people affected by
the epidemic in Zimbabwe. Merlin has established oral rehydration points
(ORPs) in the most severely affected areas in the country, including Harare,
to administer this simple, cheap and effective treatment.
ORPs are critical to stop the development of severe dehydration which is the
main cause of death from cholera. In partnership with GAA, Merlin is
establishing up to 55 ORPs where patients will be assessed. Priority cases
will then be referred to cholera treatment centres. Each ORP will treat up
to 50 patients a day, as well as provide health education sessions for
communities to reduce the risk of further contamination.
Any change will then be explained. ** Daily information on new deaths should not imply that these deaths
occurred in cases reported that day. Therefore daily CFRs >100% may
occasionally result A. Highlights of the day: - 855 cases and 34 deaths added today (in comparison 1549 cases and 51 deaths
yesterday) - 44.1 % of the districts affected have reported today (26 out of 59 affected
districts) - 90.3 % of districts reported to be affected (56 districts/62) - Cumulative Institutional Case Fatality Rate 1.9% - Daily Institutional Case Fatality Rate 3.3% - No reports from Matebeleland North
full_report (pdf* format - 191.9 Kbytes)
* Please note that daily information collection is a challenge due to communication and staff constraints. On-going data cleaning may result in an increase or decrease in the numbers.
Any change will then be explained.
** Daily information on new deaths should not imply that these deaths occurred in cases reported that day. Therefore daily CFRs >100% may occasionally result
A. Highlights of the day:
- 855 cases and 34 deaths added today (in comparison 1549 cases and 51 deaths yesterday)
- 44.1 % of the districts affected have reported today (26 out of 59 affected districts)
- 90.3 % of districts reported to be affected (56 districts/62)
- Cumulative Institutional Case Fatality Rate 1.9%
- Daily Institutional Case Fatality Rate 3.3%
- No reports from Matebeleland North
APA-Harare (Zimbabwe) Zimbabwe\'s state media said Monday that health
experts have condemned drinking water sources in the capital Harare amid
fears that a five-month cholera outbreak was not yet under control.
The official Herald daily said tests by a team of Bangladeshi health experts
revealed that most water bodies in the capital contained bacteria from human
\"It was found that all the water sources that have been sampled were
heavily contaminated with total coliforms and some of them were also
contaminated with faecal coliforms,\" the newspaper quoted from a report
produced by the health experts.
Coliform bacteria are a commonly-used bacterial indicator of sanitary
quality of foods and water and refer to rod-shaped organisms abundant in the
faeces of warm-blooded animals.
According to the health experts, the amount of total coliform in 100 ml of
water in Harare was too numerous to count, while that of faecal coliform was
26/100ml, which is many times higher than the World Health Organisation
(WHO) recommended levels.
According to WHO standards, drinking water should not contain a single
Tap water, according to the report, was free from faecal coliform, but
contained several coliforms and chlorine contents were far below the range
recommended by WHO.
The damning health report comes against the backdrop of Zimbabwe\'s
deadliest cholera outbreak which has killed about 3,500 people and infected
more than 73,000 others since August 2008.
Editorial comment - Gerry Jackson
The new government contains the names of many ZANU PF hardliners who have
absolutely no right to be there.
The incompetent and unpopular Joseph Made heads Agriculture, while one of
the key masterminds of the repression, the human rights abuses and the
plunder of the nation, Emmerson Mnangagwa, gets to continue repressing
Zimbabweans as Minister of Defence.
Those of us in the media watched with interest to see who would be put in
charge of the Ministry of Information. When the name of Webster Shamu was
announced, we howled in disbelief. This is a clear indication that the
regime has absolutely no intention of relinquishing it's media stranglehold.
Shamu not only helped to destroy Central Film Laboratories, once the most
successful film lab in Africa, but he was also instrumental in helping to
turn the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation into a centre of hate speech and
He also played a pivotal role in the establishment of the Zimbabwe National
Liberation War Veteran's Association - those guys who have so successfully
given real war vets such a bad name - and he's also linked to scandals too
numerous to mention.
Just one of those little scandals involved HHK safaris, a hunting operation
also linked to Charles Davy, whose daughter was until recently the
girlfriend of the UK's Prince Harry.
HHK Safaris is perhaps the largest hunting operator in Zimbabwe, and has
exclusive rights to 4 million acres of prime wildlife areas - unusual for a
bunch of white guys in Zimbabwe today. If you go to their website you will
see that in 2005 the company had some 'structural' changes and that Davy is
no longer a shareholder or director. There is no mention of Mr. Shamu.
Shamu has also been suspected of murder and one Zimbabwean activist said:
'He's a political thug of the first order and a savage individual. I would
not even shake hands with him.'
When he was editor of The People's Voice, the ZANU PF mouthpiece, the paper
said that white farmers were 'mean and greedy like Jews'.
Our new Minister of Information - oh dear.
By Tichaona Sibanda
16 February 2009
Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri has ordered the
police to drop all cases relating to murders committed during the run-up to
last year's June 27 presidential election.
The Zimbabwe Times reported that the beneficiaries of this 'amnesty wish',
if granted, will be ZANU PF supporters, among them youths, top war veterans
and government officials who unleashed a reign of terror in the country
during the election period last year.
The online news site added that names of some government ministers at the
time, notably that of David Parirenyatwa then Minister of Health, were
linked to acts of violence. Parirenyatwa was accused of violence in Murehwa
District in Mashonaland East. War veteran leader Joseph Chinotimba's name
was linked to at least one murder in Buhera District in Manicaland.
A police circular, apparently seen by the Zimbabwe Times and addressed to
all provincial commanders, dated 10th February, ordered that they drop all
murder cases committed during the run-up to the controversial 27th June
election, which MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai pulled out of, citing violence
against his supporters.
To ensure the order is followed, Chihuri has since dispatched deputy
Commissioner-General Godwin Matanga to visit all provinces and explain to
senior officers the implication of the directive.
The instruction has however been met with resistance from law officers in
government who have made it known that it's impossible to just drop the
A court official who spoke to the Zimbabwe Times said that Matanga had
unsuccessfully tried to convince officials to drop the murder charges.
'We told him that we will not be pushed and that the law has to take its
course, unless President Mugabe pardons them,' the court official said.
Zimbabwe's Movement for Democratic Change is facing an early test of its
Last Updated: 12:20PM GMT 16 Feb 2009
The appearance of Roy Bennett in court in Mutare in eastern Zimbabwe today
on trumped up insurgency and terrorism charges exposes the cynicism with
which Robert Mugabe's Zanu PF has entered a power-sharing agreement with the
Movement for Democratic Change.
Mr Bennett is the MDC's treasurer and was due to take up the post of deputy
agriculture minister. He was a coffee farmer whose property was seized
during the land grab ordered by Mugabe five years ago.
His arrest shortly after returning to Zimbabwe from South Africa reveals two
things. First, Mugabe will use his security apparatus ruthlessly to
intimidate his new "partners" in government. Second, the fact that Mr
Bennett is white allows Mugabe to rehearse his familiar, deluded, rhetoric
about white colonialists constantly plotting to undermine Zimbabwe.
For the MDC's Morgan Tsvangirai, the arrest of one of his most senior party
colleagues represents an early test of his mettle. This newspaper was among
the many who warned of the danger of entering a power-sharing agreement with
Mugabe. We argued that it would give a spurious legitimacy to a regime where
the power, far from being shared, would remain firmly in Mugabe's hands.
But even the most sceptical could hardly have imagined Mugabe showing his
true colours before the new cabinet was even sworn in.
Mr Tsvangirai cannot afford to allow the MDC to be intimidated in this way.
He must make clear that unless Mr Bennett is released and the outlandish
charges against him dropped, the MDC will not cooperate with Zanu PF.
Mr Tsvangirai has some leverage here. Foreign aid to shore up Zimbabwe's
collapsed economy will not start to flow unless the MDC is seen to be
playing a full role in government. Even Mugabe must recognise this. He
should call off his thugs now.
16 February 2009, 17:25 GMT + 2
ZIMBABWE, stumbling its way into power-sharing, faces a new and dangerous
threat - a possible military coup by disgruntled security bosses.
The British web site timesonline.co.uk has reported that the arrest of Roy
Bennet just minutes before he was due to be sworn in to a unity government
is "seen widely as an attempt to sabotage the coalition" by those close to
Zimbabwe's power elites.
They are angry with the decision by Robert Mugabe to swear in opposition MDC
leader, Morgan Tsvangirai as Prime Minister.
Fellow MDC leader, Tendai Biti, has been sworn in as Zimbabwe's Finance
Minister, signalling that Mugabe has finally acknowledged that he is
incapable of rescuing his country's finances from hyper-inflation and the
world's weakest currency.
Mugabe has been a very reluctant partner in the unity government - but not
reluctant enough for Zimbabwe's hawks who have much to lose.
Zimbabwe's security brass have much to hide. They are believed to control
extensive mining rights and operations in the south eastern corner of the
Democratic Republic of the Congo and have been involved in the brutal
torture and death of opposition activists at home.
Should Zimbabwe return to democracy, they will lose massive personal wealth
as well as prosecution for war crimes.
They have managed to contain Mugabe, but they will have far less luck with a
government in which Mugabe has to share power with the victims of their
That is why many believe that the powerful Joint Operational Command,
consisting of military, police and intelligence bosses, is behind the arrest
of Bennett and other actions aimed to destabilising the new power-sharing
Zimbabwe can still make this power-sharing arrangement work, but only if
Zimbabwe's security cartel is broken up.
The people of
Even more intriguing
and worrisome is President Robert Mugabe's silence. The people of
Dr Maxwell Z. Shumba
Tel: 513 571 1041