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'Disgruntled security chiefs blocking Bennett's release'

by Clara Smith Tuesday 17 February 2009

MUTARE - Police and military chiefs disgruntled by the new unity
government have blocked the release of Roy Bennett, a top ally of Prime
Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, sources told ZimOnline.

Bennett was arrested as President Robert Mugabe swore in the new unity
Cabinet, immediately raising fresh doubts whether the government could
withstand pressure from hardliners in the security establishment opposed to
it for fear it will corrode their power and privilege.

A stalwart of the MDC and its treasurer, Bennett was first charged
with leaving the country illegally which was changed to treason before being
changed once more to conspiring to acquire arms of war with a view to
disrupting essential services.

He was due to appear in court on Monday but did not after police
apparently obtained permission from the court to detain him for another 48

The MDC and his lawyers say the changing of charges against Bennett
and delays to bring him to court were because the state knew it had no case
against the politician but just wanted to keep him in jail.

"Clearly they are on a fishing expedition, clutching at straws and
know fully well that there is no basis, even suspicion, at law to charge Roy
Bennett," the MDC said a statement on Monday.

One of Bennett's lawyers, Chris Ndlovu, told reporters in the eastern
border city of Mutare where Bennett is being held: "We are disappointed. The
police should have brought him to court today (Monday) but they now want to
keep him in detention for another 48 hours."

Our sources said co-Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi - who shares
the post with the MDC's Giles Mutseyekwa in the unity government - had in
fact instructed police to release Bennett immediately after his arrest last

Mohadi and other senior leaders in Mugabe's ZANU PF party apparently
know that Bennett has no case to answer and wanted him freed for fear his
continued incarceration would undermine the unity government.

A white man and former farmer Bennett is the MDC's nominee for deputy
agriculture minister in the unity government.

According to a senior police officer, who spoke on condition he was
not named, police and military generals - who have been the backbone of
Mugabe and ZANU PF's more than two decades hold on power - rejected Mohadi's
order to free Bennett.

The security chiefs, who our source said had taken a "keen and active
interest" in Bennett's case, told Mohadi that the case against the MDC
politician was serious because it involved terrorism, banditry and sabotage
and they needed time to scrutinise the evidence before releasing him.

"The dockets have been referred back to Harare. It is just a delaying
tactic as the security chiefs flex their muscles. They are saying if the MDC
respects the rule of law, then it should allow the due process of the law to
take place without invoking political influence," said the police officer.

Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena denied that security chiefs had
blocked Bennett's release, adding that the police had wanted to question the
MDC politician well before formation of the unity government in 2006 but he
had left the country.

"He will appear in court when we are ready. This is purely a police
case and we don't understand where the political connotations are coming
from," Bvudzijena told ZimOnline by phone.

There were suggestions that Tsvangirai planned to raise the issue of
Bennett with Mugabe yesterday while other reports suggested he would raise
the matter when the power-sharing Cabinet meets for the first time today.

Tsvangirai has described Bennett's arrest and detention as political,
adding that he suspected that some senior officials from ZANU PF and
security chiefs were using the case to try to scuttle the unity government.

The MDC and its leader have sounded unwilling to quit the unity
government despite the arrest of Bennett, saying the power-sharing
government was the only viable option to pluck Zimbabwe out of economic
crisis and misery.

"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," Tendai Biti, the MDC's secretary general and
finance minister in the new government told journalists on Monday.

Bennett has fought bruising battles with ZANU PF during his days as a
prominent and popular white farmer and senior opposition politician in

According to sources, the decision by Tsvangirai to choose Bennett for
deputy minister of agriculture particularly irked security chiefs who had in
the past authorised their juniors to harass the MDC politician.

The army violently took over Bennett's lucrative Charleswood coffee
estates in the Chimanimani farming region along Zimbabwe's border with
Mozambique. Army officers shared the farm among themselves and other ZANU PF

Bennett spent eight months in jail for pushing down Justice Minister
Patrick Chinamasa in Parliament in 2004.

Bennett, who fled Zimbabwe three years ago fearing arrest by the
police, only returned to Harare a few days ahead of last week's inauguration
of Tsvangirai as Prime Minister. - ZimOnline

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Court orders authorities to bring MDC activists to court

by Hendricks Chizhanje Tuesday 17 February 2009

HARARE - A Harare magistrate on Monday ordered prison authorities to bring
detained MDC party activists to court for remand hearing on Wednesday.

Magistrate Gloria Takundwa issued the directive after prison authorities
failed for the second time on Monday to bring the activists to court, a mere
procedural event for the activists to be placed on further remand.

There was no immediate explanation why the activists were not brought to
court. The seven activists - who include Gandhi Mudzingwa, a former senior
aide to Prime Minister and MDC leader Morgan Tsvangira - are accused of
planning acts of banditry and terrorism to topple President Robert Mugabe's

Defence lawyer Alec Muchadehama protested against the failure by prison
officials to bring his client to court, telling Takundwa that the accused
needed to attend the court so that they could follow proceedings in their

In addition to demanding that the MDC activists be brought to court
tomorrow, Takundwa also ordered the state to submit copies of police reports
about investigations into allegations by the accused that they were severely
tortured by the police and other state security agents.

About 30 opposition MDC activists, including 72-year-old Fidelis Chiramba
and Mudzingwa, are languishing in jail for more than three months after they
were abducted from their homes or work places on terrorism-related charges.

The activists' continued detention coupled with that of MDC treasurer Roy
Bennett, who was arrested as the Zimbabwe's new unity government was being
sworn in, is seen as undermining the new administration which analysts say
is the only viable option to rescue Zimbabweans from an unprecedented
economic and humanitarian crisis. - ZimOnline

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Mugabe to chair crucial cabinet meeting

February 16, 2009

By Our Correspondent

HARARE - President Robert Mugabe is expected to chair the first inclusive
government's Cabinet meeting Tuesday as pressure increases on him to release
political prisoners and deal with Zanu-PF hardliners said to be determined
to scupper the new coalition.

A government source said Tuesday's meeting would discuss the "state of the

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has already openly claimed the
power-sharing agreement is being sabotaged citing the kidnapping of Roy
Bennett, MDC nominee for deputy agriculture ministry after the authorities
allegedly dusted up a long-discredited plot to kill Mugabe.
Tsvangirai and the two Deputy Prime Ministers Thokozani Khupe and Arthur
Mutambara, sworn in at State House on February 11, will also attend the
crucial inaugural cabinet meeting.

Mugabe administered the oath of office to Tsvangirai during a well-attended
ceremony in Harare last Wednesday.

It is believed Mugabe was yielding to international pressure, runaway
inflation and a devastating cholera pandemic to include his arch-rival in
the government.

Although the power-sharing deal was sealed five months ago, Mugabe
procrastinated implementing it and, rather, hurled invectives at his

Tsvangirai's appointment, it is hoped, may end a political crisis that
erupted after disputed elections last March.

One minister confirmed that Mugabe would chair a cabinet meeting at
Munhumutapa Building but did not reveal the agenda citing the Official
Secrets Act.

But The Zimbabwe Times was told by authoritative sources that the meeting is
expected to discuss the political differences between Mugabe and Tsvangirai
over plans to incorporate five more Zanu-PF ministers into the cabinet.

Mugabe was forced to drop five ministers at the official swearing-in
ceremony of cabinet ministers at State House last Friday. He was forced to
drop his loyal ministers John Nkomo, David Parirenyatwa, Flora Buka, Paul
Mangwana and Sylvester Nguni because the official Zanu-PF line exceeded
Zanu-PF's official allocation of ministries by five.

In terms of the political agreement reached September, Mugabe was entitled
to appoint 15 cabinet ministers and two additional ministers of state, not
the 23 he brought to the ceremony on Friday.

Mugabe appeared embarrassed by the incident while Zanu-PF officials seemed

After much deliberation, SA President Kgalema Motlanthe suggested Mugabe and
Tsvangirai hold talks this week to decide whether they could both increase
the number of their ministers to accommodate the extra five Zanu-PF

The Zimbabwe Times was informed that the issue of political detainees was
also a top priority.

As early as Thursday last week, prison authorities took the political
prisoners to the Avenues Clinic in line with a fifth court order to send
them to hospital for treatment.

Zimbabwe Prisons Service Commissioner, General Paradzai Zimondi sent orders
they be taken back to their cells instead of being admitted.

The condition of three of is said to be life-threatening. They are Fidelis
Charamba, who is 72 and has a cardiac problem, Gandhi Mudzingwa who is in
his 50s and reportedly has a dangerously high level of blood pressure, and
human rights worker Jestina Mukoko, who is so frail she now looks a shadow
of her former self.

A court in Harare on Monday further remanded the political prisoners in
Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison where they have been held for 106 days now
to February 18.

Tsvangirai had said several times he would not be sworn in until they were
freed. He was sworn in last Wednesday.

Tsvangirai had a hectic day on Monday. From 9am he was locked up in meetings
with his two deputies, Mutambara and Khupe at his Munhumutapa offices. Then
he met with representatives of donor organisations.

He then met with Webster Shamu, the new Minister of Information and
Publicity with Nelson Chamisa, Minister of Information Communication
Technology next.

He then met with the leaders of both the Zimbabwe Teachers Association
(ZIMTA) and the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ).

After that he met with justice and legal affairs minister Patrick Chinamasa
and Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Advocate, Eric
Matinenga together.

Afterwards, Tsvangirai met the rest of the ministers in pairs.

The ministers were later appraised about their conditions of service and
structure of government by secretary to President and Cabinet Ray Ndlukula
and from Public Service Commission chairman, Mariyanda Nzuwa.

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Zim cholera tip of massive medical emergency: MSF

by James Mombe Tuesday 17 February 2009

HARARE - Zimbabwe's cholera outbreak that has killed more than 3 000
people since last August is the tip of a "massive medical emergency" that is
spiralling out of control on the back of a collapsed public health system,
Médecins Sans Frontičres (MSF) said Tuesday.

MSF, which has treated almost 45 000 people or about 75 percent of
total cholera cases to date, urged Zimbabwe's fledgling unity government to
lift barriers on aid workers helping combat cholera and called on the
international community to put aside differences with Harare and support
efforts to stem the epidemic.

The group that provides emergency medical assistance to populations in
danger across the world said Zimbabwe's once-lauded health system had
imploded over the past decade of political and economic turmoil.

The collapse of public health was not just affecting cholera patients
but all the sick in Zimbabwe, which is also grappling with acute food
shortages, hyperinflation and a burgeoning HIV/AIDS epidemic, amid deepening
poverty, according to MSF.

Manuel Lopez, MSF head of mission in Zimbabwe, said: "We know that
public hospitals are turning people away, health centres are running out of
supplies and equipment, there is an acute lack of medical staff, patients
can't afford to travel to pick up their HIV medication or to receive
treatment and many of our own clinics are overflowing.

"From what we see each day it couldn't be clearer - this is a massive
medical emergency, spiralling out of control."

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) Zimbabwe's cholera
epidemic that has infected more than 69 000 people to date is the deadliest
outbreak of the disease in Africa in 15 years.

A unity government formed last week by President Robert Mugabe and his
long time rival Morgan Tsvangirai is expected to move urgently to tackle
cholera and a deepening humanitarian crisis.

But the unity administration in which Tsvangirai's Prime Minister had
its first day in the office on Monday overshadowed by the continued
imprisonment of a top ally of Tsvangirai, Roy Bennett.

Bennett, who is treasurer of Tsvangirai's MDC party and its choice of
deputy agriculture minister in the unity government, was arrested as Mugabe
swore in the new unity Cabinet.

The state accuses him of attempting to commit terrorism, banditry and
sabotage. He denies the charges, while analysts said his arrest undermined
the unity government and would only heighten fears by Western governments
that Mugabe was not committed to genuine power sharing with Tsvangirai.

Western governments, whose support is key to any programme to revive
Zimbabwe's comatose economy, have said they would not provide aid to the
southern African country until there is evidence the unity government is
committed to implementing genuine political and economic reform.

But MSF international president Christophe Fournier urged the
international community to provide humanitarian support to Zimbabwe saying
the lives of children and other vulnerable groups could not be held ransom
to politics.

Fournier said: "Governments and international agencies must recognise
the severity of this crisis and ensure that the provision of humanitarian
aid remains distinct from political processes.

"Their policies towards Zimbabwe must not come at the expense of the
humanitarian imperative to ensure that malnourished children, victims of
violence and people with HIV/AIDS or other illnesses have unhindered access
to the assistance they need to survive." - ZimOnline

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ZSE fails to resume trading

By Joseph Madzimure

THE Zimbabwe Stock Exchange failed to resume trading for the umpteenth time
yesterday despite assurances by the Securities Commission last week that the
bourse would commence business.

ZSE chief executive Mr Emmanuel Munyukwi said regulatory authorities were
still working out pricing modalities and he was not sure as to when trading
would resume.

"In the meantime, we cannot give you the actual date, but only say we have
not yet started trading. It is not yet clear when trading will resume.

"We have sent our proposal of the share price per unit in foreign currency
to the regulatory authorities and are awaiting their response," he said.

"We cannot open the market before being granted permission by the commission
and it is not practical to buy and sell shares in local currency," he said.

He added that it was in the public interest for trade to be conducted in
hard currency.

"Investors' money is locked up, so there is need to open the market soon,"
said Mr Munyukwi.

Trade on the local bourse was suspended last year when it emerged that
"wild" share price movements had become the order of the day, with unfunded
bank cheques driving the prices up.

It was then that the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe introduced a requirement that
all funding for the purchase of shares be formally guaranteed by the bank at
the highest level as a prerequisite to accepting and processing orders.

A lot of underhand deals were unearthed in the latter part of the year,
forcing the closure of trading to "clean up the mess".

The dealings involved some individuals, bank officials and stockbrokers
using unsupported cheques to buy shares in the morning call-over, for
instance, which would be offloaded at a premium in the afternoon trading on
the same day.

The practice had resulted in artificial pricing of shares as stockbrokers
were doing all they could to push up prices for their benefit.

Since November, the Securities Commission has been working on more stringent
regulations to "sober up" trading but investors had hoped by now trading
would have resumed.

The ZSE plays an integral part in the development of the economy and many
anticipate that trading will resume soon.

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Zim security brass terrified that unity means retribution

The Editor, The Times Newspaper Published:Feb 17, 2009

Democracy would cost them vast personal wealth and they'd risk prosecution

ZIMBABWE, stumbling its way into power-sharing, faces a new and dangerous
threat - the possibility of a military coup by disgruntled security bosses.

The British website has reported that the arrest of Roy
Bennet, minutes before he was due to be sworn in as a member of the 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 President Robert Mugabe to swear in
opposition MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai as prime minister.

Another 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
bolstering 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 by a

The country's security brass are believed to control extensive mining rights
and operations in the D R C , and some of them have been involved in the
torture and killing of opposition activists .

If Zimbabwe returns to democracy, they will lose massive personal wealth and
face prosecution for war crimes.

They have managed to contain Mugabe, but they will have far less luck with a
government in which he 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 is responsible for other actions aimed at destabilising the
new power-sharing government.

Zimbabwe can still make the power-sharing arrangement work, but only if its
security cartel is broken up.

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Cricket-New Zealand PM against team's proposed tour of Zimbabwe

Mon Feb 16, 2009 11:41pm GMT

WELLINGTON, Feb 17 (Reuters) - New Zealand's proposed tour of Zimbabwe has
been condemned by the country's prime minister, who believes a visit to the
African nation would be neither safe nor healthy for the players.

The Black Caps are due to play three one-day internationals in July under
the International Cricket Council's (ICC) programme, but Prime Minister John
Key said on Tuesday that as well as moral objections, there were other
reasons not to tour.

"There are security risks for our players, there is the risk of cholera and
quite frankly we don't support that regime and we've made that quite clear,"
Key said on TV3.

The centre-right National-led government, like the Labour-led administration
it ousted last year, has said it does not favour the tour and would consider
ordering the team not to go.

Labour opposed a tour in 2005 but did not prevent it going ahead, but
Australia's government did step in and veto a tour two years later.

New Zealand Cricket could face an ICC-imposed fine if it opted against
touring, unless ordered by the government, but Key believes the sport's
governing body needed to be realistic.

"You have to ask the question, "Why would the ICC be fining New Zealand for
not sending their cricket team to a country which is so dysfunctional that
it is a high risk if our players go there?'," he said.

New Zealand Cricket has said it wanted to meet the government on the issue.

Zimbabwe has agreed to skip this year's Twenty20 World Cup in England to end
a deadlock over demands for its suspension from international cricket
because of Robert Mugabe's government.

Last month, the ICC said Zimbabwe needed more time before they could hope to
return to test cricket.

The troubled African nation has not played tests since Jan. 2006 after the
side was left depleted following disputes between senior players and the
administration. (Reporting by Gyles Beckford; Editing by John O'Brien)

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Gono, Tomana Face the axe

Monday, 16 February 2009 12:48
PRIME MINISTER Morgan Tsvangirai yesterday said the fate of Reserve
Bank Governor Gideon Gono and Attorney General Johannes Tomana would be
"first on the agenda" of the new government.

In his first interview after being sworn-in as Prime Minister,
Tsvangirai told The Standard the new government would have to "sit down" and
objectively evaluate the work of the two officials.

Gono, who has been considered by many as the de facto Prime Minister
of Zimbabwe, has attracted widespread criticism for the way he has stoked
inflation by printing high denomination bank notes. He has also
controversially funded Zanu PF campaign programmes.

On the other hand, Tomana's suitability as an AG was brought into
question after he publicly announced that he was a member of Zanu PF.

The PM would however not be drawn into commenting whether he, or any
of his ministers would push for the dismissal of the two officials.

Tsvangirai said it was up to cabinet to decide whether these officials
were doing a good job or not.
Commenting on calls made by MDC-T supporters for Gono to be fired,
Tsvangirai said government followed laid down processes and would not act on

"Yes, there is general opinion that has been expressed but it's not
going to be a subjective declaration. You have to sit down as government and
evaluate their work," said Tsvangirai.

The position of the MDC-T on the two officials is however not a
secret. In the case of Gono, the party which controls the Ministry of
Finance, says no economic recovery can take place as long as he is in charge
of the central bank which of late has been failing to pay its workers.

Party insiders say MDC-T is considering how Gono can be dismissed, a
difficult task considering that only Mugabe can fire the Governor, according
to constitutional law expert Lovemore Madhuku.

MDC-T believes that with Tomana at the helm at the AG's office, its
supporters arrested on trumped up charges could rot in jail. More like Roy
Bennett, who was arrested last week, could be in for serious legal troubles.

Turning to the arrest Bennett, who is set to be deputy Minister of
Agriculture, Tsvangirai said he was disturbed by the turn of events and
would soon engage President Robert Mugabe over the matter. He said even Sadc
must have been dismayed by the move which he said was against the spirit of
the power sharing agreement.

"It's a political not a legal issue," Tsvangirai said. "I believe the
President and myself can solve this issue."
Tsvangirai said he was aware of the "residual resistance" in many
structures of the state and blamed these for Bennett's arrest.

He said he had no reason to doubt that Mugabe was committed to power
sharing, adding he did not think he would want anything that would tarnish
the new administration.

"I am assured by the President's public and private comments on his
commitment to the new government," said Tsvangirai.

"I see this (Bennett' arrest) as an attempt by some arms of the state
to derail the unity government."

Asked to comment on the absence of the security chiefs at his
inauguration, Tsvangirai said he did not know why they failed to turn up. He
would not speculate whether this had anything to do with their pledge never
to salute him.

"It's not a matter of being saluted. I can work without being saluted;
I am not concerned about power politics."

"What I am worried about is whether this government has the capacity
to immediately solve pressing issues: schools being re-opened, food being
made available to the hungry. We want to be able to immediately respond to
these issues."

On his promise that civil servants would be paid end of this month,
Tsvangirai said he had not made the statement just out of the blue.

"It was a well considered statement. Of course the ordinary person
cannot see a box of money somewhere but we cannot ask civil servants to go
to work without making commitments that they will be paid.

Tsvangirai said starting tomorrow he would start serious consultations
with union leaders in order to address their immediate concerns.

"Of course we might differ on how much government is going to pay, but
I can assure you we are going to source the resources."

Turning to the urgent need to secure the release of several party
activists who are in jails, Tsvangirai who toured Harare prisons where they
are being held said their release would be made possible, now that there was
a minister responsible.

"Remember we didn't have a government. From Monday (tomorrow) the
ministers would have to be answerable why the people are being held."
Tsvangirai expressed optimism that the unity government would work despite
the challenges facing it.


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'Dropped' Minister Says Colleagues to Blame

Monday, 16 February 2009 12:12
BULAWAYO - Arthur Mutambara, the leader of the small formation of the
Movement for Democratic Change approved Abedinico Bhebhe's appointment into
cabinet by Morgan Tsvangirai but was "overruled by powerful people" in his

Speaking for the first time since his surprise nomination as Minister
of Water Resources and Infrastructure Development by the rival MDC-T faction
and his subsequent withdrawal a day later, Bhebhe said the embarrassing
episode was part of a personal vendetta against him by senior party

He accused the senior officials of trying to destroy his political

The Nkayi South legislator said after Tsvangirai informed him about
the cabinet appointment, he consulted Mutambara who gave him an assurance
that this would not be blocked.

Bhebhe said Mutambara only changed his stance after meeting his
national executive. The formation immediately warned that the MP would be
removed from parliament if he accepted the appointment from the Tsvangirai

The outspoken legislator accused members of the party's executive of
deliberately misinterpreting the Global Political Agreement (GPA) by
claiming that Tsvangirai could not appoint people from outside his party. He
said there was no such "explicit provision", a claim that could not be
verified late last night.

Bhebhe has had an uneasy relationship with his party bosses for a long
time and last year was threatened with expulsion after leading the faction's
MPs in defying a directive to support Paul Themba Nyathi's bid to become
Speaker of Parliament.

MDC-T chairman Lovemore Moyo beat Nyathi to the post after MPs from
Mutambara's faction supported his candidature. Many believed Tsvangirai was
repaying Bhebhe for the favour.

But Bhebhe said Tsvangirai felt that he should be rewarded for the
role he played since the formation of the MDC in 1999 and as a
representative of Nkayi.

"If someone is thinking that by having my name dropped from Tsvangirai's
list they are fixing me, they should forget and smile as this is an
encouraging development that gives me the urge to work harder and develop
myself as a politician.

"Anyone who thinks I will chicken out is fooling themselves as I am
here to stay and for as long as the people of Nkayi want me, I will remain
there to serve them as well as serving Zimbabwe."

Edwin Mushoriwa, the faction's spokesman said the party wanted to
protect Bhebhe because Tsvangirai had appointed him without following proper


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Villagers Block Rautenbach Project

Monday, 16 February 2009 11:52
MASVINGO - About 2 000 families, mainly made up of war veterans, have
refused to make way for controversial businessman, Billy Rautenbach's
ambitious bio-diesel project setting them on a collision course with Zanu PF

The families were ordered to vacate the expansive ranch now earmarked
for a proposed bio-diesel project on the over 1 500 hectare property.

But the militant farmers have vowed to stay put arguing that they were
allocated plots during the chaotic land reform programme in 2 000.

Rautenbach who has close links with Zanu PF big wigs has since last
year embarked on vast sugar cane production, through his company Zimbabwe
Bio Energy (ZBE) and is clearing more land after deploying heavy-duty earth
moving equipment to the site.

The business mogul who is on the European Union sanctions list is
giving party officials in Masvingo sleepless nights trying to seek ways of
convincing the settlers to relocate.

Farmers who spoke to The Standard said they would not move off the
ranch as they were in possession of offer letters from government.

"We are not going anywhere, we were legally resettled here by the
provincial land committee eight years ago and we got our offer letters,"
said a settler who refused to be named.

"We don't understand why they would want us out for someone else now."

Other farmers said they felt used by Zanu PF after they were rewarded
with pieces of land on the ranch for their role in the violent land

"These guys are not sincere with us," said a war veteran who
identified himself as Cde Speed.
"We feel used because we were on the forefront of removing white
farmers from their farms.They are taking the land from us to give another
white person."

Zanu PF provincial chairman, Lovemore Matuke, said he could not
comment on the developments because the project started before his executive
came into office.

"I cannot comment about the project and on what is going on there
because when it started we were not yet in office," Matuke told a recent
press conference.

"We are yet to be consulted about it by responsible authorities, maybe
the previous executive will be in a better position to comment."

Matuke's executive replaced the Rtd Major Mudavanhu-led executive that
lost elections during the party's restructuring exercise late last year.

Rautenbach has already put half the land under tillage, while about 1
000 villagers from Chitate, Lundi and Mutilikwi sections had already been
forced out by armed police.

Some are reportedly living in the open, as they have nowhere to go
after biding farewell to their traditional leaders in the rural areas where
they have already been replaced.

But the remaining settlers said they will stay put on the farm and
defend what they claim was rightfully theirs after they followed the correct
procedures to get their small plots on the enormous ranch.
Rautenbach was not immediately available for comment.


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AG Orders Police to Evict Farmers from Gazetted Land

Monday, 16 February 2009 11:49
THE Attorney General has instructed land officers and the police to
evict all commercial farmers refusing to vacate gazetted farms by the end of
this week in defiance of a recent ruling by the Southern African Development
Community tribunal.

Justice Luis Mondlane, the president of the Sadc tribunal in November
ruled that commercial farmers, who had sought the intervention of the
regional court after exhausting legal channels available locally, had a
right to remain on their properties until they received compensation.

But the AG, Johannes Tomana, told a recent meeting in Chegutu attended
by officials from the ministries of Lands, Land Reform and Resettlement and
Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs as well public prosecutors and
police, the ruling by the regional court should not be respected.

The directive, lawyers said highlighted the difficulties the new
government inaugurated on Friday was likely to face in correcting skewed
land policies.

Tomana, himself a beneficiary of the land reform programme in Banket,
took a swipe at public prosecutors for their alleged failure to interpret
the provisions of the Gazetted Land (Consequentional Provisions) Act.

He said this had caused unnecessary delays in the prosecution of
farmers protected by the Sadc ruling.

The meeting, which came amid complaints by the farmers that police had
renewed their crackdown on those refusing to vacate their properties, sought
to find ways of fast-tracking the evictions.

It was agreed that all cases pending at the courts should be finalised
by February 29 or must have been referred to the Supreme Court by that date.

Chief magistrate Herbert Mandeya, who also made a presentation at the
meeting, told his colleagues to be guided by the recent Supreme Court ruling
in the case between Mike Campbell and the Minister of Lands, Land Reform and
Resettlement. He told the magistrates to refer land cases to the Supreme
Court, as was the case with Campbell.

However, Mike Mutsvairo who represents nine former commercial farmers,
said the deadline set by the government was unrealistic.

He said although the argument that the Sadc ruling could not override
local statutes was correct, "the government was frustrating the process of
domesticating the law."

Mutsvairo said directives to magistrates on how to handle cases would
only serve to compromise their decisions.


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'New Thinking' Needed to Save Zim Economy

Monday, 16 February 2009 10:34
THERE is a need for a major paradigm shift if the new administration
installed on Friday is to succeed in tackling the country's multifaceted
economic problems, analysts said last week.

The unity government made up of Zanu PF and the two Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) formations has the immediate task of reversing the
worsening humanitarian crisis in the country.

But tackling the economy would be the most daunting of the priorities.

 Industry is operating at below capacity after years of foreign
currency shortages and price controls and to restore production executives
say there is need for a new thinking.

"There is need for a mental shift," said Kumbirai Katsande, the
President of the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI), "People may
still think from their corners and if they do this it is going to be
difficult (to move forward)."

Katsande said the country had to address concerns raised by donors,
which included the need to respect property rights and the creation of an
enabling environment to attract investors.

The CZI boss said bodies such as the National Incomes and Pricing
Commission (NIPC) must be disbanded, as they were retrogressive instruments.

In his budget presentation, the Acting Minister of Finance, Patrick
Chinamasa reduced the role of the NIPC to monitoring prices only.

Despite the issuing out of foreign currency licences to some retailers
and wholesalers, industry believes there is need for a review of the daily
remittances to the central bank.

Every day licence holders pay 5% of their proceeds to the Reserve Bank
of Zimbabwe (RBZ).

"It is an unnecessary tax," Katsande said. "Taxes must be collected
through the fiscus and there is no forward looking economy which behaves
like that."

Independent economist, John Robertson, said controversial legislation
such as the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act "must be scrapped
completely because you won't get new investors".

Robertson said respect for existing agreements was also paramount in
attracting new investors.

The old government became notorious for trampling on important
investment pacts such as the Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection
Agreements (BIPPAs) with regional and international partners.

Zimbabwe has been struggling to attract loans from multilateral
institutions because of its poor track record in repaying loans.

As at December 31, 2008, the country's external debt stood at a
staggering US$4.6 billion. Of that debt the government and parastatals owe

Due to the absence of lines of credit from multilateral institutions
as well as a dip in revenue collected, the country has resorted to borrowing
from the domestic market.

As at December 31, 2008, Zimbabwe's domestic debt stood at $56.9
sextillion, a significant increase from the $390.5 million recorded in mid
August 2008.

Robertson said there was need for stability in both education and
health sectors.

He said water and electricity supplies improvements in relation to
industries were vital in attracting foreign investors.

Zimbabwe's economy has been contracting by an average of 5% every year
for the past 10 years and analysts say rebuilding the economy would need
more than 5% growth every year.

"How much energy does it take to build something? And how much energy
would you need to destroy it," questioned Robertson.

Zimbabwe's economic decline, unprecedented even in a country ravaged
by war, has been attributed to bad policies.

Daniel Ndlela, an economist with Zimconsult said repairing broken down
infrastructure such as roads requires support from multilateral development
institutions notably the African Development Bank and World Bank to provide
the funding.

He said the financial services sector had to start functioning to
provide the financial intermediation.

By acting as a middleman between cash surplus units in the economy
(savers) and deficit spending units (borrowers), a financial intermediary
makes it possible for borrowers to tap into the vast pool of wealth in
deposits in banks and other depository financial institutions.

"The financial services sector is in shambles," Ndlela said. "As long
as you don't have the financial services sector there is no financial


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AfDB Officials Take Sneak Peek at Ailing Economy

Monday, 16 February 2009 10:32
THREE senior economists from the African Development Bank were in the
country last week on a fact-finding mission as regional financial
institutions begin mobilising resources to help rebuild Zimbabwe's battered

"They were sent quietly to do a little groundwork," a source told

They met United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) officials and
some members from the financial services sector.

But the bankers did not meet political leaders as their visit was
informal and the team would present its findings in a report,
Standardbusiness was told.

The visit by a team from AfDB comes amid revelations that the regional
bank had availed US$1 million to Zimbabwe as part of its efforts to rebuild
the country.

Sources said the funds were availed to a representative to the AfDB
based at its headquarters, Andrew Bvumbe.

An official announcement will be made in the coming weeks.

The mission by the three officials from AfDB comes barely a week after
a delegation from the Eastern and Southern Africa Trade and Development
(PTA) Bank visited the country to prepare the groundwork for a planned
investors' conference by April.

Michael Gondwe, the bank's president led the six-member delegation.

Zimbabwe, once one of the trendsetters in economic growth has been in
the news for the wrong reasons following 10 successive years of economic
decline, an unprecedented development in a country not at war.

The country wrote a new chapter last week after the three major
political parties joined forces for an inclusive government sworn in on

On Wednesday, MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai was sworn in as the
country's Prime Minister while his deputy in the party Thokozani Khupe and
MDC leader Professor Arthur Mutambara took oath of office as the two deputy
Prime Minister.

An investors' conference modelled along the 1981 Zimbabwe Conference
on Reconstruction and Development (Zimcord) would market the country as an
investment destination.

ZIMCORD mobilised over US$2.3 billion in external assistance to help
repair the country's infrastructure destroyed during the country's
liberation war.

Analysts say the interest by regional and international banks signals
the enthusiasm by investors to pour money into the country.

But they are wary that without proper planning and the setting up of a
friendly environment, international investors will give Zimbabwe a wide


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Review tax Thresholds, CCZ Urges Govt

Monday, 16 February 2009 10:28
BULAWAYO - The Consumer Council of Zimbabwe has called on the newly
installed government to review upwards the tax-free threshold in its first
month in office to alleviate the plight of overburdened workers.

Patrick Chinamasa, then Acting Finance Minister, in his 2009 budget
presentation, put the tax-free threshold at about US$125 or 1 250 rand per

Tax bands starting from 20% would be applied to all workers earning
above the set tax-free threshold.

Comfort Muchekeza, the CCZ spokesperson, said US$125 was inadequate
for an average family in light of high electricity tariffs, rentals, and
phone bills - now payable in foreign currency.

Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor, Gideon Gono in his recent
Monetary Policy allowed all companies, state and private, to charge for
their goods and services in foreign currency.

But Muchekeza said the move would see workers earning less than US$250
failing to feed their families since the bulk of the salaries will go
towards meeting monthly rentals and electricity bills.

"What this means is that a worker, earning less than US$250 and
staying in a high-density area, will fail to feed his or her family or buy
food basics since the whole salary would be chewed by the monthly bills.

"The tax free threshold should at least be lifted to US$300 so that
workers can afford to go to work, get their pay, pay monthly bills, afford
to put food on their tables and to send their children to school," Muchekeza

A calculation of the monthly bills for each family renting a full
house in a high-density suburb in the country's second largest city shows
that each household will from this month part with about 1 500 rand before
buying basics.

The Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) demands about 700
rand for 15 amps, while the Bulawayo City council requires about 300 rand
per household in the high-density areas.

If the family has a landline phone, this adds close to over 1 200 rand
since Tel-One has set its fixed charge at 200 rand.

Meanwhile, Bulawayo also bemoaned the high tariffs charged by public
utilities and called on the inclusive government to reverse them.

"The figures are not realistic," said Brian Moyo. "They do not have to
operate at a loss but the jump from the local dollar component and foreign
currency component was just too high.

"The new government should address this and alleviate our plight."

Though cautious, residents have expressed hope that the new inclusive
government will put on reverse gear their decade long suffering.


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Fresh Problems dog ZSE

Monday, 16 February 2009 10:26
FRESH problems have surfaced to haunt the resumption of trade on the
Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE) following reports that there are still
"sticking" issues that need to be ironed out.

Emmanuel Munyukwi, the ZSE chief executive officer told
Standardbusiness that although the bourse had ensured that all outstanding
settlements had been cleared, fresh hurdles had emerged after the Reserve
Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) allowed the trade of shares in foreign currency.

Under the new set up, one cannot transfer payment from one Foreign
Currency Account to another at a different bank. "When you want to transfer
money from one Foreign Currency account in one bank to another bank, it has
to go through New York and London and this attracts additional charges and
these are issues that needed to be sorted out," Munyukwi said.

He said negotiations with banks are ongoing to resolve the payment

But the ZSE boss said the bourse had made progress in ensuring that
outstanding payments were cleared.

Trade on the bourse was stopped in November last year following
concerns that there were underhand dealings where unsupported cheques were
used to buy shares to be sold at a premium pushing prices up.

The RBZ then ordered that  banks, at the highest level as a
pre-requisite to accepting and processing orders, formally guarantee all
funding for the purchase of shares.

The directive, which took effect on November 20 last year was in
response to RBZ's concerns that there were a lot of underhand dealings on
the local bourse involving some individuals, bank officials and

But Standardbusiness learnt that even if trade were to resume on ZSE
there would be an additional burden on the bourse, stockbrokers and sellers
of shares in the the form of new levies that will impact on the trading of

There will be a 1.5% Financial Sector Stabilisation Levy to be paid to
the RBZ by the ZSE and stockbrokers from their earnings. In addition, each
seller of shares in foreign exchange shall liquidate 3.5% of the proceeds at
the going interbank market rate.


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Alex Magaisa: Memo to the new Prime Minister of Zimbabwe

Monday, 16 February 2009 11:39
DEAR Mr Tsvangirai,
I'm sure there is a lot in your in-tray, during these, your first few
days in office and that, therefore, you will hardly have time to read this

However, I write hoping that it might have the good fortune of
catching your attention in the rare spare moments of your busy schedule. Or
that, at the very least, one of your aides might stumble upon it.

Unlike much of the correspondence that you will receive at this time,
this one offers no congratulations.

I do not believe that a person should be congratulated for being given
a job. Rather, congratulations must, indeed, be showered when a man produces
results in the course of performing his job. So I will withhold the
platitudes for now.

I salute you though, Sir, for accepting what must surely be one of the
worst jobs in the world at present. You have become a co-skipper of a vessel
that for years has been stuck in icy waters, most of the crew and passengers
surviving only by the grace of the Merciful Hand.

No doubt, you are aware that the road ahead will be rugged and bumpy.
Also, it will soon dawn on you that the honeymoon with supporters and
followers will subside.

That's because of the natural perception that you are now on the other
side; the side of those who hold power. Indeed, some of your comrades have
already cast doubt on the wisdom of your decision to partner Mr Mugabe in
government. There will be a lot waiting in the sidelines only to say, if
this undertaking fails, "we told you so".

Perhaps the greatest challenge at this point is to harness the will
and commitment of the doubtful so that they, too, can play their part in
this new arrangement.

You are going to have to deploy your political acumen, Sir, to play
some diplomatic gymnastics to bring them on board because the last thing
that Zimbabwe needs in this transitional phase is another power struggle.

That means showing them that you understand their concerns - they are
like the parent whose daughter marries the village scoundrel -the parent may
disapprove of the union, but eventually they will have to accept their child's

The reality, Sir, as you know, is that resolving Zimbabwe's problems
will take hard work, honesty, skill and patience. It is important to
reassure supporters that you will do all you can but also to be honest that
these changes will not happen overnight.

The Zimbabwean currency will not suddenly stabilise, inflation will
not drop immediately, jobs will not emerge in the short-term. Indeed, there
will be more power-cuts, more water shortages in the short-term.

I mention this, Sir, because all too often I have seen politicians
promise beautiful heaven when the practical reality is that hell will take
time to fade away. The 'we will do this' type of talk is alright for
opposition politicians because it is their currency for purchasing public

Once in government, they face the harsh realities of searching for
resources, satisfying the many, often colliding demands of the different
interest groups and balancing the books. Where employers and employees
previously sang from the same hymn sheet in your favour, there is likely to
be some discord as each struggle to catch your attention.

But you know well that our greatest failing lies in not producing
enough and living beyond our means. The demands of political expediency mean
that you are carrying a heavy cabinet and an even weightier Parliament.

Both will gobble up scarce resources. It would be prudent to avoid the
all-too-familiar picture of conspicuous consumption. I read with interest
and approval your denunciation of a 'culture of entitlement'.

I have never understood why politicians and indeed ordinary people,
think that getting a government post is a matter of entitlement. It is not
unusual for people to say so and so should get such a ministerial post
because he deserves it. I do not think public service should ever be a
matter of 'deserving' a job but one should be judged on competence and
commitment to deliver.

It is because of this culture of entitlement that Zimbabwe has been
weighed down by the same recycled personnel who quite plainly have nothing
new to offer but everything to gain personally from retaining their status.

These men and women that you have appointed to cabinet must know that
their positions are no different from any other job and that if they do not
deliver, they will get the sack.

It helps no one to keep a non-performing employee simply because he or
she is a party cadre. This is their chance to show they can live up to their
promises. They should also have the decency to resign should they be caught
up in scandalous affairs.

I have noticed how political expediency caused the National Security
Council Bill to be passed in unprecedented fashion last Tuesday. Whilst one
wants to understand the practical demands that had to be met by those
extraordinary measures, it is also hoped that it does not become the norm.

It is to be hoped that political expediency will be routinely deployed
as an excuse for overriding rules and principles as that would lead to an
unpleasant legislative culture.

Your inauguration speech touched on the key priorities -
implementation of the democratic agenda, dealing with the humanitarian
crisis, economic stabilisation.

The latter two require the deployment of resources and skill and can
be overcome. Both however, are victims of the failure of the first one - the
politics. The way I see it, Sir, is that the political structures can be
constructed through the constitutional reform process and legislative
changes but that there is another, more latent aspect that requires due care
and attention.

It is, Sir, the matter of political culture. I have in my previous
work written about it as the influence of the 'human factor' - the idea that
no matter how beautiful our laws and structures may be, things will never
work unless the human agents, i.e. the people working within those
structures are prepared to do the right thing.

The new Finance Minister, Mr Tendai Biti, said as much in Parliament
in a speech during the recent passage of the National Security Council law.
He said, "Mr Speaker, I want to make one thing very clear, we may create all
these institutions in the law . we can create all these beautiful bodies but
between us and Zanu PF, if there is no love, if there is no respect and if
there is no paradigm shift that we are now equal share holders, then all
these institutions will come to nought ." (Hansard, Tuesday 10 February

One hopes that the human factor will be a positive force but much
depends on the human agents from all parties. You, Sir, as leader will have
to nurture this very fragile baby.

This is something that will take time; something that will require, as
you said in your speech, the separation between the state and the party. No
doubt there will be many obstacles in the path, given the manner in which
the state has been so intimately wedded to the party for the last 30 years.

There will be resistance from those used to certain ways; those who
see the world through the lens they have known all their adult lives. But
the key lies in the civil service; in the state institutions and even the
state media - there are many decent men and women in there whom, if given
their independence, will do the right thing and perform their professional
duties with honesty and competence.

On the economy, I think first and foremost we simply need to enhance
our productive capacity. We must eschew the politics of race, tribe, party
affiliation and all other indices that divide us and deploy our best talent
to do what they do best.

I must add that it does pains me to see a man like Roy Bennett being
wasted in the corridors of government.

From what I hear, the man is an excellent farmer; why not give him
space to do what he does best? Let us identify our core strengths and focus
our energies on them...

You know, Sir, that your position brings a temptation to become all
things to all people. It can only be a recipe for disaster because, sooner
or later, you will annoy everyone.

Nevertheless, critical assessment of your performance (and your team's)
comes with the territory. True, there may be those who are waiting for you
to fail and then claim some dubious credit for predicting it.

But there are also many who are critical because they are genuine
about wanting to see change and delivery. I hope you will listen to them,
Sir and not characterise them as enemies of the state. I hope there will
never be a time when you will get so paranoid as to think that everyone is
out to get you.

I hope it will never be an offence to criticise you, Sir. Indeed, open
up a forum, where you can interact with your people; here their concerns
directly and respond to them, just as you will hopefully have a vibrant,
televised Prime Minister's Question Time in Parliament. I know there is no
opposition but that platform could be useful to other interest groups.

Speaking of which, Sir, I trust that, if offered, will you politely
decline the use of that long, wailing motorcade. With the fuel shortages,
transport blues, poverty, etc, surely, you know all those cars will not be

And I trust also that when you arrive from an international trip you
will let all those traders in Mbare get on with the business of making a
living and not ask them to come to the airport to sing and ululate for you.
Even your ministers, Sir, surely, you will let them get on with their jobs -
they don't really need to stand in a long line to greet you at the airport
each time you arrive.

And I hope that when you celebrate your birthday, you will do it
happily in the comfort of your home and family, being the personal affair it
is and even if your most loyal fans seek to make it a national event, you
will resist the temptation with the strength of Samson.

Most likely, they are not really doing it for you; they are doing it
for themselves because they want to be seen to be the best and biggest of
them all and for that they will await a reward.

There will be hiccups, some big, others small, but do keep an eye on
the bigger picture. If the electric switch fails to work, it does not mean
we should bring down the whole house - we can fix the electricals, whilst
working on other parts of then house, even if it means using the faint light
of the mobile phone.

I said I would offer no platitudes at this stage but what I will
certainly do is to wish you, your team and my fellow Zimbabweans the very
best of good fortune.

I will share with you the wisdom of a favourite song, which the late
master of song, Simon Chimbetu entitled Vana Vaye (the children). In it, the
singer pleads with his elder brother to mention the plight of the children
when he goes to attend the grand conferences; he asks the brother not to
forget the about the children.

I might also add, that other one, Pane Asipo (those we lost on the
way) in which Chimbetu reminds us that even in our joy and celebration of a
new era, we must never forget those whose lives and limbs were broken and
lost on the way.

Best wishes, Sir

Alex T Magaisa, University of Kent.  Contact address: at or

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Ban all Political Party Slogans, Urges Mutambara

Monday, 16 February 2009 11:32
This is the text of the speech delivered by Deputy Prime Minister,
Arthur GO Mutambara  after being sworn-in on Thursday.

LADIES and Gentlemen, I rise to speak on three related issues. The
first matter is explaining why we are here today, that is the meaning and
significance of today.

The second issue involves outlining the challenges to be tackled by
this new government. The last subject deals with what has to be done to
ensure that the new government can successfully execute its mandate, what we
call the critical success factors.

Fellow citizens, we are here to celebrate the coming together of
Zimbabweans in pursuit of their collective national interest. This is a new
era of peace and unity in our country. We are here to celebrate the dignity
of difference. Three different generations of Zimbabweans have come together
to salvage their country.

Three different political parties have joined hands in an inclusive
government to serve their people. Different social classes and different
ethnic groups have come together as members of one family, the Zimbabwean

This is the dignity of difference, the divinity of diversity.
Embracing diversity and differences is a reservoir of strength. It is a
source of creativity, innovation, and stability. Leveraging inclusiveness,
and the creative tension thereof, will lead to the effective and sustainable
resolution of our national socio-political-economic challenges.

The tasks of the inclusive government we seek to establish are
immense, but not insurmountable. The first area is the resolution of the
humanitarian crisis, in particular the cholera epidemic, food supply,
education, and healthcare.

The second area is stabilization and recovery of our economy. Our
country and people have gone through traumatic and polarizing experiences.
We need a national healing process, as the third area of concern. The next
matter revolves around the crafting and adoption of a new people driven
democratic constitution.

This must be a national consensus document supported by all political
parties, with total buy in and ownership by the entirety of civic society,
and the generality of the people of Zimbabwe.

The last area of concentration is going to be the economic
transformation of Zimbabwe into a globally competitive economy.

As Zimbabweans we seek to collectively develop a 30-year economic
vision, shared and adopted by all political parties, the business community,
and all relevant stakeholders.

This vision will be buttressed by a national economic strategy rooted
in industry sector plans. The growth pillars will be 15-20 major impact
industrial projects. We might not do much in terms of execution and results
on this fifth item.

What we seek to do in this transitional authority is to lay the
foundation by completing the inclusive envisioning process, strategy
development, identification and valuation of the projects, and
implementation planning.

In order for us to be able to execute the mandate of this government,
an enabling environment characterized by certain behaviours must be in
place. We must work as one team, Team Zimbabwe.

We must have unity of purpose and action. We must work together and be
seen to be working together.

We must speak the language of unity, the language of working together.
We seek to establish one government, with one cabinet, to serve one nation.

Hence we must be prepared to take joint responsibility for both
failures and successes. We must re-establish trust and respect among
ourselves, as leaders and as Zimbabweans. As a nation we must regain
confidence from those external to us.

This can be achieved by clearly working in harmony, and establishing
both a credible cabinet and a credible plan of action.

To our developmental, cooperating, and strategic partners in the
region, Africa, and the international community, we say we are grateful for
the role you have played in our struggle to establish a peaceful, prosperous
and democratic nation.

Your role before 1980 and in the last 10 years is greatly appreciated.
Now that Zimbabweans have spoken with unprecedented unanimity and have come
together to fix their country, we call upon you to give this inclusive
government a fighting chance.

This is a new era of peace and unity in Zimbabwe. For those who have
imposed whatever measures against Zimbabwe, be they targeted sanctions, call
them what you may; those measures must be removed immediately. . . .

In conclusion, with your permission President Mugabe, can I take this
opportunity to ban all party political slogans during the period of this
inclusive government.

Let us give up party politics until the next elections. Going forward,
there will be only two slogans permissible. Delivery, delivery, delivery.
Results, results, results...

I thank you, tatenda, siyabonga.

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Comment: Mugabe is Living in the Past

Monday, 16 February 2009 11:29
NO-ONE would have predicted there would be drama at the swearing in
ceremony for ministers held on Friday, especially after things went so
moothly on Wednesday.

Judging from how Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and deputy Prime
Ministers Arthur Mutambara and Thokozani Khupe were sworn in, we naturally
assumed the event would be plain sailing.

But we were wrong.

President Robert Mugabe, being the political schemer he is, had other
ideas. In broad daylight he hoped to smuggle in more ministers than he was
allocated in blatant breach of the power-sharing agreement signed with the
two factions of the MDC.

The likes of Florence Buka, Paul Mangwana, John Nkomo, Sylvester Nguni
and David Parirenyatwa stood in line to rehearse the swearing in ceremony.

They must have been mortified when they realised that Mugabe would not
be getting his way, as he has done for the past 29 years.

The development which delayed the swearing in ceremony of the new
Cabinet for nearly five hours, is a pertinent reminder that Mugabe still
lives in the past.

Though a new government is in place, Mugabe remains the same old
president who is ready to surround himself with trusted loyalists however
dismal their record. He still treats the MDC with deep suscipion and would
be happy to have more of the likes of Didymus Mutasa and Emmerson Mnangagwa
surrounding him in the new cabinet.

While there is nothing wrong with working with people you trust, the
problem arises when Zimbabwe is supposed to be starting afresh.

How can Mugabe be ready to start afresh when he appoints Joseph Made,
whose tenure at the agriculture ministry in the past was an unmitigated
disaster, back to the same ministry.

How do you start afresh when Stan Mudenge remains the Minister of
Higher and Tertiary Education. And also when the meddling Ignatious Chombo
remains Minister of Local Government, Urban and Rural Development.

The three are emblematic of what has gone wrong with Zanu PF.

Made has simply watched, sometimes from a helicopter, when agriculture
which was the mainstay of the ecomomy collapsed.

Mudenge, who was a distinguished scholar, did the same at Higher
Education, while Chombo actually fast-tracked the collapse of local

And when Mugabe chooses to surround himself with these people, it
shows he believes the status quo should remain.

More worryingly, at a time when he should be seen extending a hand of
friendship to the MDC, Roy Bennett gets arrested under Mugabe's watch.

Bennett has been designated as deputy Minister of Agriculture. He
deserves to be treated with respect by the government in which he is due to
serve. Instead he is the victim of hardliners who don't want to see
reconciliation with the MDC-T.

They don't want to see agricultural recovery and donors will draw the
appropriate conclusion.

Mugabe is sending signals that he has not yet embraced the new spirit:
that of burying the past and working towards a new Zimbabwe where both Zanu
PF and the MDC formations can co-exist.

This is what all Zimbabweans, Sadc leaders and AU have been yearning
for all these years. It remains to be seen for how long Mugabe can pretend
to be ready to work with Tsvangirai while sabotaging his prospects.

By arresting Bennett, the old guard has disgraced Zimbabwe and
demonstrated that it doesn't really want to see things improve. That is the
message now circulating around the world. The sceptics are being proved
right we are sorry to say.

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Harare residents under siege from contaminated water

16 February 2009


Harare has a long way to go in combating its water woes which have been the major cause of the cholera pandemic. According to the report that was released by the World Health Organization (WHO) on the state of water in Harare, the city’s water has been found to have feacal contaminations. Samples that were taken from both protected and unprotected water sources were found to be contaminated with total and feacal coliforms. This is a worrying situation considering the fact that Harare is still battling to combat the cholera outbreak that has claimed more than 4 000 lives since August last year.


The Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) blames ZINWA for the water woes that are bedeviling the city. The raw sewerage that has been flowing unabated in the streets of almost all high density areas (Budiriro, Glenview, Glen Norah, Mabvuku-Tafara, Highfield, Kuwadzana and Dzivarasekwa being the most affected) has compromised the quality of water that residents are getting. Even the boreholes that have been sunk in areas like Budiriro have been affected due to the raw sewer that has seeped into the water table. Residents made numerous calls to ZINWA to fix the burst sewer pipes but the water utility completely failed to deal with this problem.


CHRA appeals to the government to look into the water situation in Harare as a matter of urgency. The first port of call would be to inject capital into the restructuring and renovation of the water infrastructure (especially the sewer system) so as to ensure that sewer bursts become a thing of the past. Most high-density suburbs in Harare are still experiencing sewer bursts and the water of the city will continue to be contaminated if this situation is not dealt with immediately and combating the cholera pandemic would even be more difficult.



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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Residents say no to forex charges

16 February 2009


The Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) is deeply concerned by the reports that it has received to the effect that there are some residents in high density areas who are being forced to pay rates in foreign currency. CHRA is reliably informed that council offices in Mabvuku, Glenview and Highfield are rejecting payments in the local currency and they are demanding payments in either the South African Rand or US$. Residents reject such impositions as it is reflective of daylight robbery on residents who are already struggling under the harsh economic environment.


Residents have complained that the City of Harare is already effecting the forex charges that are outlined in the budget that is still yet to be announced. Moreover, residents were shocked to discover that the City of Harare actually intends to announce the budget which was drafted without even consulting residents. This is in direct conflict with the Urban Councils’ Act (Chapter 29:15) which states that the Council should consult residents on its proposed city budget to get their contributions. The Council is then supposed to draft the budget (inclusive of the residents’ contributions) and flight the budget in the daily local newspaper twice after which residents will be given thirty days to either approve the budget or lodge their objections. This process has not been followed and that means the budget that the City of Harare intends to announce is just a proposal to residents; a proposal that Council is supposed to present to residents for consultation purposes first before they can even think of implementation.


In addition to that, CHRA has information to the effect that there was some confusion last week at Town House when the full Council held a meeting to deliberate on the issue of charging residents in foreign currency. Most Councilors were against the idea of the budget being announced because they had not yet approved it as Councilors. The Councilors questioned their relevance in Council if they were being excluded from important processes like the budget formulation process. A few of the Councilors supported the idea of charging all residents in foreign currency but were not clear on how much residents should be charged. Questions were also raised by the Councilors on the issue of residents who had already been forced to pay their bills in exorbitant foreign currency amounts that are up to US$34. The City Treasurer is said to have defended this position saying that Council would credit the money to the accounts of these residents. This was an indirect admission by the Treasurer that residents are already being charged in foreign currency and that they are being overcharged.


CHRA is not happy with the irregularities that are being reflected by the City of Harare in terms of the yet to be announced budget. Firstly, the then defacto Acting Minister of Finance, Patrick Chinamasa, had pointed out that residents in high density areas would have the option of paying their rates in ZW$ and yet Council is said to be rejecting the local currency. Secondly, the City of Harare has an explanation to make to residents as to how they are getting the exorbitant figures that they demanding from residents in foreign currency; not to mention the fact that Town House has not been serving residents with bill statements for almost 12 months now and municipal service delivery has not improved. Most residents do not have access to foreign currency since they get their income in ZW$. Moreover, there are indications that the budget is just being imposed without the approval of most of the Councilors. It is against this background that residents are rejecting the dollarisation of municipal services. Residents demand extensive consultations before the budget can be effected.


CHRA remains committed to the residents’ cause and advocating for good, transparent and accountable local governance as well as quality and affordable municipal services.



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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REPS - Sad News

From: "Reps Theatre" <>
Subject: REPS - Sad News
Date: Mon, 16 Feb 2009 11:01:56 +0200

It is with great sadness that we must impart the news to everyone that John
Keeling passed away on Friday, 13 February 2009 in the United Kingdom.

John was a very active member of Reps, both on stage and off in the 1960s
and 1970s, as well as being a television presenter on RTV in the 1970s.  His
portrait hangs in the Reps Theatre foyer and one of our trophies, The John
Keeling Award for Best Actor in a lead role, is named after him.

He will be sorely missed by all who knew him.  We will keep you updated as
regards any form of memorial service or tribute.

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$$$ for Doctors Without Borders Relief Efforts in Zimbabwe

My name is Mick Star and I am Pop Star with no record label.
Instead of making someone else rich, I am going to contribute half of my net download proceeds to Doctors Without Borders to assist with humanitarian relief efforts in Zimbabwe.

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