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Have Zimbabwe's generals sidelined Mugabe?

February 17, 2009

Roy Bennett's arrest illustrates the military's opposition to a unity
government, and leads to the question: Who is in charge of Zimbabwe?

Martin Fletcher
Zimbabwe's generals gave plenty of notice. Before last year's elections they
declared that they would refuse to salute Morgan Tsvangirai if he was
elected President. When Mr Mugabe lost the first round of those elections
they unleashed such a wave of violence and intimidation that Mr Tsvangirai
withdrew days before the run-off to avoid more bloodshed. Last week they
pointedly boycotted Mr Tsvangirai's inauguration as Prime Minister.

The likes of Constantine Chiwenga, commander of the defence forces,
Paradzayi Zimondi, the prisons commissioner, Augustine Chihuri, the police
commissioner, Phillip Sibanda, head of the army, Perrence Shiri, the air
force chief, and Happyton Bonyongwe, the Central Intelligence Organisation
director, abhor the idea of sharing power with Mr Tsvangirai's Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC).

Their objection is not just that Mr Tsvangirai "sat out" Zimbabwe's war of
liberation. If the MDC has its way they would also lose all the perks of
their jobs - the farms, mansions and luxury cars, the ability to siphons
millions of US dollars into foreign bank accounts - and face possible
prosecution for a litany of crimes including the massacre of thousands of
opponents over the past three decades.

These men - whom Mr Tsvangirai blithely describes as "residual resistance" -
are bent on derailing the new unity government by making it impossible for
the MDC to stay in without looking weak. Thus they refused Mr Tsvangirai's
demand that 30 prominent political activists be released before his
inauguration. When Mr Tsvangirai was sworn in anyway, they promptly arrested
Roy Bennett, the man he had appointed to be deputy agriculture minister, and
charged him with plotting an insurgency against Mr Mugabe. It was a move
calculated to strengthen the hand of those MDC officals who had argued
against forming a unity goverment with Zanu-PF, and one which will force the
MDC to review its participation unless Mr Bennett is released.

The big unknown is whether the generals are acting with the tacit approval
of Mr Mugabe, or are defying the President.

The former cannot be discounted, despite Mr Mugabe's public protestations of
support for the new government: he is a man of cunning and scarcely
disguises his contempt for Mr Tsvangirai.

The latter scenario is more alarming, and is lent credence by reports that
the generals have ignored repeated orders that Mr Bennett and the detainees
be released. It would suggest that Zimbabwe is either in the throes of a de
facto palace coup, or will shortly witness the real thing.

However awful Mr Mugabe's rule has been, his removal by the hardliners who
have sustained him in power all these years would be worse. It would lead to
a new wave of repression against the MDC, Zimbabwe's total isolation and
collapse, and an end to the Western humanitarian efforts that keep millions
of Zimbabweans alive.

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'You want Bennet, give us immunity' security chiefs demand

17 February 2009

By Never Kadungure

Zimbabwe's security chiefs fearing prosecution for crimes against humanity
are trying to use the arrest and detention of Deputy Agriculture Minister
designate Roy Bennet, former television anchor Jestina Mukoko and 30 other
political prisoners as bargaining chips to secure their own immunity from

The former white farmer who lost his Chimanimani farm in violent land
seizures several years ago is facing charges drawn from draconian
legislation relating to terrorism, illegally possessing firearms, and
attempting to leave the country illegally. The MDC have already dismissed
the charges as politically motivated.

Authoritative sources within the MDC have told us that Bennet is aware of
the ZANU PF conditions for his release and has refused to be used in the
bargaining. He insists he is innocent of all charges placed on him. By
Tuesday the police had changed the charges for a record equaling fifth time
after realizing they would not stick.

Last year the notorious and brutal Joint Operations Command (JOC)
spearheaded the murder of over 180 opposition activists to secure Mugabe's
violent re-election in June. It is suspected the service chiefs behind the
operation and their cohorts lower down the ranks have been unwilling to
allow Mugabe to share power with Morgan Tsvangirai.

Bennet's arrest has already triggered speculation Mugabe may not be in
complete control of the country. The other side of the coin is that he may
fully approve of the strategy given his own reluctance to share power
genuinely. It was always felt Mugabe did not think the MDC would join his
government and when Tsvangirai said yes, Mugabe was shocked into confusion.

Meanwhile on Tuesday Tsvangirai held his first ever meetings with the
ministers of Home Affairs (Kembo Mohadi), Defence (Emerson Mnangagwa) and
National Security (Sidney Sekeremayi). MDC MP and co-Home Affairs Minister
Giles Mutsekwa is still outside the country on party business and was absent
from the meetings.

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140 farmers face prosecution, eviction

February 17, 2009

By Our Correspondent

HARARE - At least 140 commercial farmers face both prosecution and eviction
from their land over the next two weeks as government tries to push the few
remaining white farmers off their farms.

Police have also been told to "assist" in the eviction of the embattled
farmers even if they had court orders protecting them from the seizure of
their land by government.

Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) president, Hendriek Olivier told The Zimbabwe
Times Monday that over a hundred commercial farmers had been summoned to
various courts countrywide over the next two weeks allegedly for defying
government directives to vacate their land.

"We have some incidents still occurring of farmers being evicted and often
given 24 hour notices to vacate their farms," said Olivier.

"We still have some other disturbances of farm managers being locked up and
some farm owners forced to make accommodation available for Zanu-PF youths."

The move to grab the few remaining farms follows recommendations of a
workshop convened in Chegutu more than a week ago and attended by officials
from the Ministries of Lands, Justice and the police.

According to a memo (12/09), dated February 9, 2009 which was written by the
Police Provincial Intelligence Officer for Mashonaland West and sent to the
Officer Commanding Police Mashonaland West Province, the Chief Magistrate,
Herbert Mandeya ordered the courts to ignore the dictates of a November 2008
SADC Tribunal ruling that barred government from further expropriating white
owned land.

The ruling was made after 75 white Zimbabwean farmers approached the
Windhoek-based tribunal to seek an order to prevent government from
repossessing their farms under its controversial land reform programme.

According to the ruling, the applicants were found to have been
discriminated against on the grounds of race.

Government was also ordered to protect the possession, occupation and
ownership of the land by the applicants.

The tribunal also ordered that a handful of farmers whose land has already
been confiscated should receive compensation by June 30, 2009.

But Mandeya said the ruling by the tribunal "must be disregarded as it did
not form part of our law".

"He sighted (sic) Sec 111 (b) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe that provides
that treaties entered into by government cannot form part of our laws unless
they go through parliament," read the memo, which was copied to the Staff
Officer PISI, Police General Headquarters.

"In this regard SADC Tribunal ruling is not law binding."

The Attorney General, Johannes Tomana who was one of the facilitators of the
workshop, is also said to have scolded public prosecutors for "failing to
interpret correctly" the provisions of the Gazetted land (Consequential
Provisions) Act which he said had caused unnecessary delays in the trial of
the commercial farmers.

During the workshop, the Permanent Secretary in the Justice ministry, David
Mangota is reported to have assured the participants that High Court
interdicts against new beneficiaries "will be dealt with by a different
forum in the near future".

At the end of the meeting, reads the memo, the following were agreed by all
the participants; "that the recent SADC tribunal ruling shall not have any
bearing in the courts on matters to do with land.

"That lands officers together with law enforcement agents must do everything
in their power to assist in the eviction of former commercial farmers who
are refusing to vacate gazetted farms and whose cut off dates have elapsed.

"That cases pending trial at the courts should be finalized by the 21st of
February 2009."

It was however not stated whether the 21 February (President Robert Mugabe's
birthday) deadline was a mere coincidence or was chosen as a tribute to
Zimbabwe's 85 year old ruler.

The recent stance by government has brought apprehension among the largely
white commercial farmers who are at a loss as to how to proceed as the
winter cropping season approaches.

The farmers were also anticipating a shift in government's aggressive land
policy as the new all inclusive government between Zanu-PF and the two MDC
factions is being formed.

Government all but demonstrated its unwillingness to change attitude through
last week's arrest of Roy Bennett, a top MDC official, who is deputy
minister-designate for agriculture.

The commercial farm of Bennett, a successful farmer in his own right in
Manicaland Province was repossessed by government.

Since government's vindictive land grab in 2000, Zimbabweans have been
forced to depend on food imports for daily subsistence.

"We wish this would come to an end now," said Olivier.

"We are trying to feed the nation. We are farmers that are ready and able to
assist the government. It is unfortunate that we are not being given the

"We are being prosecuted for planting maize to feed the nation that
desperately needs food. The bigger picture is that let's now find a way
forward for Zimbabwean agriculture. There is enough room in this country for
every farmer. Every single farmer in this country who is qualified must be
allowed a farm."

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Account of farm dispute on Wakefield Farm, Chegutu

One of the very last white zimbabwe farmers who are about to lose their farm,even though they are productively farming & feeding people.....these are personal friends who I have known for nearly 50 yrs,farm was handed down from father to son......
You cannot take any farm equipment OR reap your crops before you leave with only your personal household effects
(IF you're lucky & they aren't stolen while/before you leave............)

To whom it may concern

Herewith account of farm invasion on Wakefield Farm, Chegutu.


Mid November 2008 – Mr Felix Pambukani arrived at Wakefield Farm with an offer letter.

December 12th 2008 – a notice to appear in court was delivered

December 19th 2008 -  appeared in Chegutu magistrates court – remanded until 5th January.

January 5th 2009 – remanded until 11th January

January 11th 2009 – remanded until 21st January

January 21st 2009 -  the magistrate was asked to refer case to Supreme Court due to the personal charges

January 24th 2009 – Kadoma magistrate reffered case to Supreme Court on basis that the personal charges were a direct contravention of the Zimbabwe constitution.

Tuesday 3rd February 2009 – at approximately  3.30pm, Mr Kunonga arrived at Wakefield Farm with a relative of Mr. Felix Pambukani and several youth, with the intention of taking over the farm and erecting housing/tents for the youth to stay in.  At the time of their arrival, the farm manager, Charles Bizabani was giving out food rations to the labour and there were about 300 men, women and children in our workshop area. Mr. Kunonga demanded that Charles stop giving out food and attend to him – to which our labour was not happy. Mr. Kunonga stated that he “is the law” and that he wanted to either gain access to the house and garden or the workshop area with the intent to leave several youth there and to take over the farm. The labour then grew angry and “pushed” Mr. Kunonga and the other men out from the workshop to the gate where Mr. Kunonga had left their vehicles. At that stage there was much shouting, whistling and general unrest, but no violence. There was no violence at all – even though the labour have been charged with assault.

Mr. Kunonga and his men left the farm and Charles our manager quickly left too, in order to go to Selous Police Station to report the incident. Only to find Mr Kunonga already there and filing charges against Charles and our labour for assault and alledgedly vandalizing the vehicles. Mr Charles Bizabani, along with 6 other foremen and workers were arrested and detained overnight. Food was made and taken to them, but was only given to them at about mid night that night, ice cold.

They were released on Wed morning and appeared in Chegutu magistrate’s court on Thursday 5th February 2009 – and that case has been remanded until 5th March.

Kenneth also had a peace order against Mr Kunonga and Mr Pambukani placed on the 5th February – this was delivered to them on Friday 6th February. This was revoked by Mr Kunonga in the following days.

Tuesday 10th February 2009 -  At approximately 4.00pm, Mr. Kunonga arrived again at  Wakefield Farm, with the same relative of Mr Pambukani’s, and Mr Pambukani and about 30 “miltia” type youth and 5 armed “guards”. As we were not present at the farm, our manager Charles phoned us to tell us to come home. We arrived back at about 4.30pm to find that Mr. Kunonga and his men were still at the gate which had been locked by our guards. We did not attempt to speak to them, but instead, had Mr. Richard Arlett-Johnson go to Selous Police station on our behalf to report the incident and to ask the police to respond and come to the farm with him. The police refused stating that as their commanding officer was away, they were unable to respond to our distress call. This was at about 5.00pm. Mr. Richard Arlett-Johnson and Mr. Colin Cloete remained at the police station whilst in comms with us and Mr. Barry Lenton at all times.

Mr. Kunonga had himself revoked the peace order against them.

At approximately 6.15pm – Mr Kunonga and his men broke through the locks on our gate and drove two vehicles into the workshop/barn area. Again, the police were notified and they refused to respond.

At this stage Kenneth decided to go and talk to them and as he walked towards them he noted that several (5 in fact) men were in fact armed with shot guns. The guns were in fact pointed at him and again. the police were notified, as was Mr. Lenton that there were armed men involved. Again, the police refused to respond.

Kenneth talked to them and they demanded rooms or housing as they wanted to leave several youth on the farm. Kenneth walked around the workshop and barns area with them and so they could see for themselves that there was no available space – 4 of the armed men walked next to Kenneth.

Our labour at this stage was getting very angry and wanted to do something  - Kenneth managed to talk them out of doing anything.

Eventually at about 9.30pm that night, police arrived as well as Mr. Lenton. The police verbally warned the youth and armed men to refrain from violence and promptly left.

The men – 15 in total, 5 of whom are armed have erected a tent within our fenced area.

Thursday 12th February 2009 – whilst in Harare an inderdict was delivered to the farm. Our manager Charles, our main mechanic, Jaffari and 5 other guys and others have been given eviction notices, from the Chegutu Magistrates court, who had refused to do our peace order as he had reclused himself from our case.

Monday 16th February 2009 –  At 2.00pm in the afternoon a letter, signed by Kunonga, was delivered to Kenneth stating that all cropping and farming procedures were to stop with immediate effect. Kenneth went to police station in Selous, they told me to go to Dispol in Norton. Dispol in Norton told me it is a civil case and therefore cannot do anything.

At about 4.30pm it was reported that the lock on our main gate had been removed and replaced with a new lock – one of theirs! They have refused our labour entry into our workshop and barn area and have stated that all farming activities are to stop immediately. All locks on all our gates have been changed and replaced with their locks.

The armed men and the youth are patrolling around the workshop and barn area and around the main homestead to ensure that this is adhered to. It was explained to them that the tobacco curing is a long and involved process requiring constant monitoring and would need 24r hr work requiring shift work by the labour. Mr. Pambukani’s relative refused but has allowed 5 curing guys to stay within the workshop/barn area for tonight only. Kenneth is to meet with Mr. Felix Pambukani in Harare tomorrow as well as Mr David Drury.

I still have a citrus crop to be reaped and a maize crop to be harvested and have reaped 100 000kg’s of tobacco and have still got another +/- 90 000 to be reaped.

It would appear that the intimidation of ourselves and the labour are a direct instigation to get s to react so that we would be arrested.

On the matter of a room for them – a room was found next to the maize shed, the maize shed had in fact been recently fumigated and so, they refused to use the room, saying that it had been poisoned on purpose.

I have 400 labour currently employed and they are very angry about this and they are wanting to take matters into their own hands. I have managed to, so far, talk them around but it is getting harder each day to control them.


Kenneth Bartholomew

KHB Estates (PVT) Ltd

Wakefield Farm

Box 250



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>Return to rule of law, Tsvangirai tells cabinet
Chris McGreal, Africa correspondent
The Guardian, Wednesday 18 February 2009

Prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai yesterday forced an early showdown with
supporters of president Robert Mugabe by calling in ministers responsible
for security and demanding from them an immediate return to the rule of law.

The move came as one of Tsvangirai's own deputy ministers, Roy Bennett,
finally appeared in court charged with plotting terrorism, insurgency and
banditry, and trying to leave Zimbabwe illegally.

Bennett had been custody since being arrested hours before the new
government was sworn in on Friday. The Movement for Democratic Change
described the charges as "trumped up, scandalous and politically motivated",
part of "a deeper political agenda" aimed at derailing the powersharing
administration agreed between the MDC and the president's Zanu-PF. The court
is expected to rule today on whether Bennett has a case to answer.

The unity government held its first cabinet meeting yesterday, chaired by

According to MDC sources, the encounter was "fairly cordial" but
insubstantive; Tsvangirai raised the issue of Bennett and the collapse of
the rule of law more generally, but Mugabe did not address it seriously.

Afterwards, the prime minister summoned the defence minister, Emmerson
Mnangagwa, the state security minister, Sydney Sekeramayi, and the home
affairs minister, Kembo Mohadi, to demand they observe legality.

Tsvangirai meant Bennett's arrest and the actions of some Mugabe loyalists
in blocking the release of 30 political detainees. But he also demanded an
end to extra-legal moves to seize Zimbabwe's few remaining white-owned

On Monday, the attorney general, Johannes Tomana, who the prime minister
wants to remove for locking up opposition activists, ordered the police to
evict white farmers despite a binding ruling by a regional tribunal that the
farm confiscations are illegal.

Whether the ministers act on the prime minister's demands is an early test
of his ability to assert control. An MDC official took it as a good sign
that the ministers met Tsvangirai and did not question his authority. The
source said the meeting was also in part a confidence-building measure aimed
at establishing a personal relationship with some of the members of the
cabinet most hostile to Tsvangirai.

The MDC leadership says it believes that once there is a return to orderly
administration and the rule of law, power will seep away from the narrow
band of military and senior Zanu-PF officials who have abused their
positions to retain a grip on government.

However, an important step in realising that also lies in winning the
confidence, or at least damping the hostility, of the military service
chiefs who refused to attend the prime minister's inauguration and who have
previously threatened to take up arms against him.

Analysts say that Tsvangirai needs to assert his authority not only to
ensure he can control Mugabe's ministers, but to reassure foreign donors who
have laid down rule of law and respect for property rights as a precondition
for funding to revive Zimbabwe's wrecked economy.

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Zimbabwe Court to Decide Fate of Opposition Minister-Designate Wednesday

By Peter Clottey
Washington, D.C
18 February 2009

A Zimbabwe court is expected to rule Wednesday on the charges against an
opposition Movement for Democratic Change minister-designate in the new
unity government. Roy Bennett is charged with illegal possession of arms for
purposes of committing banditry, insurgency and terrorism, and violating the
Immigration Act. Wednesday's court ruling would focus on whether there is
basis in the charges, and it comes after Bennett's defense described the
charges as a political witch-hunt and asked for the charges to be thrown
out. Some political analysts say the charges against Bennett are a ploy by
agents of President Robert Mugabe to frustrate the opposition out of the new
unity government. Trust Maanda is the attorney for Roy Bennett. He tells
reporter Peter Clottey that the charges against his client have no legal

"Today the court is going to make a ruling on our application. The
application we made before the court was that Mr. Roy Bennett did not have
any case to answer because there was no reasonable basis to objectively come
to a conclusion that there was an offense. So, we are arguing that the case
must be thrown out without him being placed on remand as we have it. So, the
court today will make a ruling whether he has a case to answer or no case at
all and if the court says there is no case to answer then it will dismiss
the charges," Maanda pointed out.

He said the charges against his client undermine the new unity government.

"I may have a wrong opinion, but as a Zimbabwean, I think what is happening
now does not bode well for the government of national unity because it does
not introduce the trust that should exist. And I think it is not good for
government of national unity," he said.

Maanda said there are speculations that the charges against his client are
meant to thwart the full implementation of the power-sharing deal recently
signed between the ZANU-PF party and the opposition.

"Some people in some quarter's say this is meant to scuttle the (power
sharing) deal because they think that will pull out to say we are not going
to proceed with this deal because to begin with there is no good faith from
the other side," Maanda noted.

He differed from supporters of the ruling ZANU-PF that Bennett should face
the full rigors of the law because what they described as breaking the law
of the land.

"It would be only ZANU-PF supporters who say that, but if you look legally
in terms of the law there is no basis to come to a conclusion that there is
a case for Roy Bennett to answer because the view has always been that these
are political charges. And these are political persecution and therefore
there is no basis in law," he said.

Maanda said Bennett's defense team would call a former Zimbabwean police
officer to testify.

"We are calling for Hischmann (Peter Michael) to come and testify because
the weapons that are in the present case with Mr. Roy Bennett are weapons
that are at issue are the same weapons found in the possession of Mr.
Michael Hischmann in 2006. And he (Hischmann) was convicted but not
necessarily for the offense of possession of weapons to say for purposes of
insurgency, banditry or terrorism. He was convicted for merely not having
license, but he was never convicted for possession for purposes of banditry.
So, he was found of a technical offense of mere possession, but without an
intention to commit sabotage. So, we want Mr. Hischmann to say yes I posses
these and I already gave my explanation on board and the court acquitted me
on the charge of banditry etc," Maanda said.

He said his client feels the charges against him are pure political

"Roy Bennett reaction is that he is not surprised at all about these charges
because he says this is an ongoing persecution that has been taking place
since about a decade ago. And he knew that he is just a target of the state
and he would braced for it and so he is not surprised at all," he said.

Roy Bennett is the MDC's treasurer and the pick of opposition leader Morgan
Tsvangirai was sworn in as the prime minister to become deputy agriculture
minister in the new coalition government.

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Rights group names and shames police officers

Wednesday, 18th February 2009. 5:47am

By: Kumbirai Mafunda.

The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) on Tuesday named and
shamed police officers and magistrates who it accuses of facilitating the
unlawful detention of Roy Bennett, a Deputy Minister-designate in the newly
formed but fragile coalition government.

In a blow-by-blow account released late Tuesday ZLHR named four senior
police officers for masterminding the arrest, detention and harassment of
Bennett (pictured), the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)'s national

ZLHR identified the four police officers as Detective Inspector Eliot
Muchada, Chief Superintendent Nhau, Assistant Commissioner Mabunda and
Detective Chief Superintendent Makone.

Muchada, ZLHR said, was the driver of the vehicle that drove Bennett
from Harare to Mutare in the company of three other members of the Zimbabwe
Republic Police (ZRP).

The rights group, which has provided legal aid to human rights
defenders and opposition leaders and activists for more than 10 years now
said Muchada, who purports to act as the Officer in Charge of the Law and
Order section at Harare Central Police Station, was intimately involved in
the abduction cases involving detained MDC members Chris Dhlamini and Prime
Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's former aide Gandi Mudzingwa and the recent
persecution of two ZLHR lawyers Roselyn Hanzi and Tawanda Zhuwarara and
Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) members.

ZLHR said Muchada was accompanied by Chief Superintendent Nhau and
another officer whose identity is still being confirmed.

"Muchada gave regular telephone updates to, and received further
instructions from, his superior, the Officer Commanding law and Order
Harare, Assistant Commissioner Mabunda during the course of the trip to
Mutare," ZLHR said in a statement released late Tuesday and seen by Radio

ZLHR named Detective Chief Superintendent Makone as the investigating
officer, who the group alleges travelled from Bindura to Mutare to handle
the case.

The rights lawyers also shamed Manicaland Provincial Magistrate
Billiard Musakwa who issued a Warrant of Further Detention for Bennett
without notice to Bennett's lawyers in Mutare and identified another
Manicaland Provincial Magistrate, Livingstone Chibadza, who presided over
Bennett's court proceedings in Mutare on Tuesday when he was finally

Originally, Bennett's case was due to be heard before Musakwa, but
Bennett's lawyers sought and obtained his recusal, as the Warrant of Further
Detention which he issued without the knowledge of Bennett's lawyers will be
challenged in court.

ZLHR said Bennett, who by Tuesday was in his fifth day of detention,
is detained in conditions which amount to cruel, inhuman and degrading
treatment and punishment while the constant altering of his charges is a
clear sign that the original "arrest" was not in compliance with the
constitutional requirement that police may only arrest a person where there
is evidence and a reasonable suspicion based on such evidence that an
offence has been committed.

"This farcical behaviour on the part of the ZRP and representatives of
the Attorney General Office clearly indicate that the arrests and detention
of Roy Bennett was carried out and is being perpetuated maliciously, and in
an attempt to harass, intimidate and frustrate not only Bennett, but also
his lawyers and his fellow MDC members who are now part of the inclusive
government," ZLHR said.

Bennett was arrested last week at Charles Prince Airport in Harare
when he was about to leave the country to go and spend his birthday with his
family, who now reside in South Africa as a result of the severe and
relentless persecution of the Bennett family in Zimbabwe by state security
agents over the last 10 years. The MDC national treasurer was due to return
to Zimbabwe this week to be sworn into office and commence his duties in the
fragile coalition government.

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MDC MP Roy Bennett in court as joint Cabinet told to halt the repression

February 18, 2009

Jan Raath in Harare
The Zimbabwean unity Cabinet met for the first time yesterday, the session
overshadowed by the court appearance of the deputy Agriculture
Minister-designate on firearms, terrorism and banditry charges.

Morgan Tsvangirai, the Prime Minister, instructed security ministers at the
meeting to follow the rule of law and end decades of violent repression.

Even as he spoke, President Mugabe's secret police and state lawyers were
trying to ensure that Roy Bennett would remain behind bars.Mr Bennett, 52,
appeared before a magistrate in Mutare and was charged with "possession of
prohibited weapons for the purpose of banditry, terrorism and sabotage". His
arrest on Friday has come to symbolise the risk that the MDC party has taken
in entering into a power-sharing agreement with Mr Mugabe, who retains
almost total control over the security services.

Mr Bennett - a white farmer who was driven off his coffee plantation in
2003 - is popular among black Zimbabweans whose votes in three previous
parliamentary elections crushed his Zanu (PF) opponent. For this Mr Bennett
is loathed by the hardliners in Mr Mugabe's establishment.

Hundreds of MDC supporters watched quietly around the court in Mutare
yesterday. The magistrate said that he would rule today on an application
for the charge to be thrown out.

The allegations stem from the arrest four years ago of a white former police
reservist who was charged with the same allegations of weapons possession
for terrorism, although they were dismissed by a magistrate.

The reservist was convicted finally of the statutory offence of possession
of unlicensed firearms.

Mr Bennett fled Zimbabwe in 2005 when he learnt that secret police were
about to pounce on him in connection with the terrorist weapons allegations.
He returned on January 30 this year.

"There is absolutely no logic to these charges," said Tinoziva Bere, of the
legal team for Mr Bennett.

The MDC indicated that it was reluctant to withdraw from the agreement in
protest at the arrest of Mr Bennett and the continued detention and torture
of 16 pro-democracy activists. Mr Tsvangirai is said to have raised the
issue with Mr Mugabe in private.

The Prime Minister spoke of "the issue of credibility of the Government and
the need for freedom of expression and information without fear of

An independent Zimbabwean web-site this week quoted from orders circulated
to police stations that all murder cases from the bloody run-off
presidential elections in June last year were to be closed. About 180 MDC
supporters were reported murdered.

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The Prof. Ncube promises to revive Zimbabwe's comatose industry

Tuesday, 17 February 2009 20:15

The newly-appointed Zimbabwean Industry and Commerce Minister, the
Prof. Welshman Ncube, who led a faction that broke away from the true MDC,
has said his top priority in the inclusive Government will be to revive the
economy and restore local production.

Prof. Ncube told reporters that the inclusive Cabinet would create a
conducive business environment that promotes viability and attract foreign
investment, although he didn't explain how the continued invasions of
private farms by ZANU-PF supporters, the military and the RBZ will
contribute to a secure economic environment.

He said local companies that were operating below capacity would be
helped to boost production for them to participate in national development.

"Our challenge is that we must get back our manufacturing sector going
again," he said. "Local companies must have unlimited access to foreign
currency while all the necessary equipment and inputs would be available,"
he said.

As Minister of Commerce, the Prof. Ncube will have to work closely
with Finance Minister Tendai Biti, who replaced him as MDC Secretary General
after he led his faction from the MDC in 2005.

The Prof. Ncube, who is said to own multiple farms courtesy of the
Third Chimurenga, said the two MDC formations must support the economic
revival program to ensure its success. "We should implement what we set out
in the global agreement," he said.

Ncube is one of the three ministers from the Professor Arthur
Mutambara-led MDC formation.

Others are David Coltart for Education, Sports and Culture and
Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga for Regional Integration.

The inclusive Government has 15 Zanu-PF ministers, 13 from MDC-T and
three from MDC

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War Vets "educating" members about the GNU

Tuesday, 17 February 2009 20:01

The Zimbabwe national liberation war veterans' leadership has embarked
on a nationwide tour to educate its membership of what the inclusive
government entails, ZBC News reported on Tuesday.

Addressing members from Harare province at the Zanu-PF headquarters on
Monday, War Veterans Association National Commissar Victor Matemadanda said
it is imperative for the war vets who are the vanguards of the revolution to
fully understand their role in the inclusive government.

He noted that while the association was disappointed that they were
not included in the negotiating process, they accept the position taken by
President Robert Mugabe who is the patron of their association as they are
confident that he will maintain the core values of the revolution.

Speaking at the same gathering, Vice Chairman Of The War Veterans
Association Joseph Chinotimba, who once said MDC supporters were enemies of
the state, called on the MDC formations to educate their supporters about
the inclusive government so that the nation progresses.

The leadership also stressed that those from the MDC formations who
have been given positions to lead various ministries must desist from
victimizing or infringing the rights of war veterans employed in the
security forces, the civil service or parastatals because of their political

The war veterans also urged the leaders to unite and call with one
voice for the lifting of sanctions

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Bennett to be moved from police station to prison: MDC

by Own Correspondent Wednesday 18 February 2009

JOHANNESBURG - Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's MDC party said on Tuesday
that it expected its detained treasurer Roy Bennett to be moved from a
police station in Mutare to a prison in the eastern border city.

Bennett, who is the MDC's nominee for deputy agriculture minister in the
unity government, will appear in court on Wednesday for a hearing on whether
he should be placed on remand.

"Roy Bennett will be moved from Mutare police station to Mutare prison," the
MDC said in a statement late Tuesday afternoon.

ZimOnline was not able to verify with police and prison authorities whether
Bennett - who the MDC said was in good spirits - had indeed been moved from
police holding cells to prison.

A hugely popular figure among MDC supporters Bennett appeared in court in
Mutare as Zimbabwe's new unity Cabinet met for the first time in Harare

The 52-year-old Bennett, who is white and a former farmer, faces charges of
possessing weapons for the purposes of insurgency and banditry arising from
the discovery in 2006 of arms of war near Mutare.

He is also accused of violating the Immigration Act by allegedly leaving and
entering the country illegally - charges which the MDC says are trumped up.

The arrest of Bennett, who was seized by state agents from a Harare airport
on the same day Mugabe was swearing in the new Cabinet, has intensified
doubts on whether the unity government between the MDC and Mugabe's ZANU PF
party will last. - ZimOnline

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Should I stay or should I go: what every white Zimbabwean asks

February 18, 2009

Martin Fletcher in Harare
At one point or another every white Zimbabwean family has had the same
debate: whether to stay in the country they love, as it steadily
deteriorates, or whether to cut their losses and move elsewhere.

The young, those concerned about their futures, have mostly chosen to go.
One of the many sadnesses of Zimbabwe is that it is a land of broken
families, with children and grandchildren scattered across the world, having
left to start new lives in South Africa, Britain, North America, Australia
or New Zealand.

Some middle-aged white Zimbabweans, including former farmers whose land was
seized, have stayed, learnt to play the system and run reasonably successful
businesses. A lot of older and retired Zimbabweans, however, chose to stay
in the land where they have lived all their lives because they reasoned that
genteel poverty would be easier to endure in a warm climate than in the
damp, grey cold of England. What they probably underestimated was the extent
of Zimbabwe's collapse.

Astronomical inflation has rendered their pensions, lifetime savings and
insurance policies utterly worthless. Their last remaining wealth is tied up
in their properties, and they now live off remittances from their children
or whatever they have managed to stash away in foreign bank accounts.

That was fine until US dollar inflation also began to soar a few years ago.
Provided Zimbabweans have foreign currency they can still buy most of the
commodities they need, but at silly prices and many now make two- or
three-day journeys to Botswana or South Africa to buy pallet-loads of
cheaper food. The collapse of the health system means they now have to pay
for expensive private health care in foreign currency if they fall ill. The
breakdown of water and electrical supplies means they have had to sink
boreholes in their gardens and invest in generators. Even The Herald, the
miserable, state-controlled newspaper, now costs $1.
Most muddle through, somehow, though they live in constant fear of serious
illness or major house repairs. They long ago stopped using their swimming
pools. They have turned lawns into vegetable patches. They gave up whisky,
then meat, and take their ageing cars out less and less. In extremis there
are a couple of charities that offer discreet help to indigent whites.

The Times was told of one elderly man who committed suicide recently so that
his wife would have only one mouth to feed. The only problem is that even
the most modest funeral costs around $300 - which makes the cost of dying
almost as prohibitive as the cost of living.

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UK resettlement scheme offers elderly whites a way out of Zimbabwe

February 18, 2009

Jan Raath in Harare
The 70-year-old woman was surrounded in her little garden by brilliant red
bougainvillea next to her cottage in the grounds of a Harare home for the
elderly. Born in Widnes, near Liverpool, she came here aged 12, has never
been anything but British and would not be able to support herself and her
ailing husband in Britain, so she qualifies for a UK resettlement scheme.
She doesn't really want to go back, but they may have to.

She had the document, "Resettling in the UK: Information for Potential
Applicants," delivered by the British Embassy last week after she and
friends from the home were told about the scheme at a tea for its residents
at the home of the British Ambassador, Andrew Pocock.

She didn't want to be named because she fears her reluctance to leave may
prejudice her application for resettlement, if she goes ahead with it. "I am
extremely happy here. We have a beautiful cottage, an outlook we will never
have again and our neighbours are all total friends," she said. She worries
about the volatile political situation, but, she says, "I feel confident we
could live here and no harm would come to us personally."

Rather, it is anxiety over the possibility of political unrest flaring into
open conflict and bringing the country's already crippled infrastructure to
a total halt that bothers her. "We may be faced with the situation where we
have to go."

It will be lack of money and medical care that will make them return to the
UK. "My husband's pension wouldn't buy a slice of bread, so we have been
supported by our daughter and son-in-law in Australia. He is 60 now, and
getting close to retirement, and we cannot expect them to keep on supporting
us. They have their own situation to look after."
Her 82-year-old husband is in an advanced stage of a degenerative disease.
The neurosurgeon who used to treat him was killed in an aircrash last year.
They have an "excellent" general practitioner, but he does not have the
specialist's skills.

"He is going to need more and more care. He's very vulnerable to falling,
and if he hurts himself and needs surgical attention, the hospitals are
insisting on $1,000 up front," she said. "The medical aid wouldn't pay the
charge and we couldn't possibly afford that. It's also very stressful for
me, as his only carer. I am constantly anxious," she said. "When the
resettlement scheme came into focus, we began to think that we would be
needing more help in our older age."

There are eight British nationals in the home, which has a total of 60
residents. Welfare workers say that severe penury amongs elderly whites in
Zimbabwe has been eliminated almost completely after a major effort by local
and international charities to provide them with food and cash.

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Zimbabwe PM Tsvangirai Meets Teacher Unions, Seeks To Revive Schools

By Jonga Kandemiiri
17 February 2009

Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai took first steps this week
toward getting the country's teachers, on strike for months, back to work,
education sources said.

Mr. Tsvangirai met on Monday with organizations representing teachers and
followed that up with a meeting with Education Minister David Coltart, a
member of the rival formation of the Movement for Democratic Change which
Mr. Tsvangirai founded in 1999.

Meeting leaders of the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe and the
Zimbabwe Teachers Association, Mr. Tsvangirai was reported to have
reiterated his inaugural commitment to paying teachers, like other civil
servants, in hard currency so they can get back to work. Mr. Tsvangirai has
since disclosed that he has not yet lined up a source for the estimated
US$40 to US$50 million a month that would be needed to make good his

The meeting with teachers also focused on political violence, frequently
directed at teachers in the 2008 post-election period, and the 2009 academic
calendar, education sources said.

Zimbabwe Teachers Association President Tendai Chikowore said the
representatives would meet Wednesday with Coltart after he has been briefed
by Mr. Tsvangirai.

PTUZ General Secretary Raymond Majongwe told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri of
VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that as matters stand, most state schools remain

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Mugabe's Birthday Binge at the Zimbabwe Vigil 21/2/09



PRESS NOTICE – 18th February 2009


Mugabe’s Birthday Binge


Zimbabwean exiles in the UK are to mark Mugabe’s 85th birthday on Saturday 21st February by gathering outside the Zimbabwe Embassy in London to mirror the birthday party being arranged for him while our country starves.


Zimbabwean human rights activist Fungayi Mabhunu, wearing a Mugabe mask, will play the role of the octogenarian tyrant as he tucks into a banquet of 8,000 lobsters and 4,000 portions of caviar washed down by 2,000 bottles of champagne (’61 Bollinger preferred) and 500 bottles of whisky.


The demonstration is organised by the Zimbabwe Vigil which has been protesting outside the Embassy every Saturday for more than 6 years in support of free and fair elections.


Vigil Co-ordinator Rose Benton said ‘We are appalled at the extravagance at a time when most of our people are relying on international food aid to survive. What signal does this give to the outside world to whom we look for help?’ 


Event: Mugabe’s birthday celebrations.

Venue: outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, 429 Strand, London WC2.

Date: Saturday, 21st February 2009


2 – 6 pm Zimbabwean protest including singing, drumming, dancing.

4 pm – Tableau of Mugabe and his consort (Amazing) Grace tucking into champagne, lobsters and caviar while thousands of Zimbabweans die of starvation and cholera.


Health and Safety Notice: cameramen watch out for Grace and her diamond knuckledusters.


Contact: Rose Benton (07970 996 003, 07932 193 467) and Fungayi Mabhunu (07743 662 046)


Vigil Co-ordinators


The Vigil, outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, 429 Strand, London, takes place every Saturday from 14.00 to 18.00 to protest against gross violations of human rights by the current regime in Zimbabwe. The Vigil which started in October 2002 will continue until internationally-monitored, free and fair elections are held in Zimbabwe.


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Britons in Zimbabwe are offered cash to flee Mugabe's regime

By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 10:27 PM on 17th February 2009

Hundreds of British families living in Zimbabwe are to get financial help to
escape Robert Mugabe's regime in a repatriation programme ordered by Gordon

The Government expects around 750 households deemed particularly vulnerable
to take up the offer of assistance to resettle in the UK.

Those over 70 or who have medical conditions or care needs, or are unable to
afford resettlement themselves will be targeted, sources say.

Local government minister John Healey will co-ordinate the 18-month

'The situation in Zimbabwe continues to make it hard to access food and
medical care,' he said.

'That's why we are offering help to older and vulnerable British people who
are unable to support themselves in Zimbabwe and want to resettle in the

There are an estimated 40,000 British passport-holders living in Zimbabwe,
of whom about 25,000 are registered with the British High Commission.

The initiative comes amid mounting concern about the deteriorating situation
in the country.

Elderly people have been reduced to penury either because Zimbabwe's
bankrupt regime has stopped paying their pensions or because hyperinflation
has wiped out their meagre entitlement.

Yesterday, an international doctors' group warned the country's entire
health system has collapsed, overwhelmed by cholera, a worsening AIDS crisis
and the effects of widespread malnutrition.

A cholera epidemic - blamed on collapsed water, sanitation and health
services - has killed over 3,600 people and infected 60,000 since August.

Dr Christophe Fournier, of Medecins Sans Frontieres, said: 'However
catastrophic this epidemic is, it is only the most visible manifestation of
a much broader crisis in the whole country. Actually the whole public health
system in Zimbabwe is down, it has collapsed.'

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As I sit here in the gathering dusk I can hear the Heuglins Robin chattering
away merrily,
oh look .... there they are ..... Mr and Mrs Robin hopping around on the
lawn chasing some
juicy worm or other.

Anyone who has lived in Zimbabwe will have an endearing affinity with the
Heuglins. They
are always at their melodious best first thing in the morning and last thing
at night.

The garden is green and verdant, it is in fact like a story book, a fairy
tale of roses, vast
expanses of lawn, swaying palms and always present is the giant fig tree
which I am sure
is so big it can be seen as a google earth landmark !

The fig has played a big part in our lives, it loses mountains of leaves and
figs twice a
year, and drives Sebastian to distraction, but it houses colonies of bats,
warrens of birds,
paradise fly catchers, doves, bronze mannikins, toppies, even a giant
gymnogene, and of
course those two giant Hammekop Homes that keep us entertained for hours and

"Why do you still stay in Zimbabwe ?" is a frequently asked question and as
I sit here, on
the eve of what should have been a momentous week in Zimbabwe, but somehow
wheels are already falling off, I try and justify to myself exactly "Why do
we stay in

It was under this very gigantic fig tree that HeeHoo and I got married so
many years ago.
It was under this tree that my children played, where prams were parked in
the dappled
shade, mosquito net firmly tucked in, where Robyn slept and JoJo practised
her gymnastic
Beam Routine on the vast branch that swung out parallel to the ground and
low as a
perfect beam. Gary loved to climb this giant tree ... how many young people
have climbed
this Enchanted Faraway tree looking in vain for Mr Saucepan Man and Dame
Washalot !!

It was over there where the hole was dug for the trampoline, where countless
stars were born, where many bones were nearly broken !

Here on this vast expanse of lawn, I have purposely left space for the
weddings of my two
daughters, the giant Iversens tent has always fitted here perfectly. First
for our own
wedding, then for the countless childhood birthday parties. Remember the
party ? The Grecian Event ? The Fairies and Elves party ? The Barbie Party ?
Then there were
the twenty first birthday parties, and the milestone birthday parties, the
charity fashion
shows and fund raisers.

On this same green lawn, beside the sparkling blue pool, we have held
countless braais,
parties, staff parties, with endless children in the pool, playing
badminton, sliding on the
slippery slide, playing bolle, cricket and rugby.

Sadly there is no longer the happy sound of children laughing, I pray one
day to have our
grandchildren playing here, there are no computer games here, just healthy
games that have built Zimbabwean children strong, honest and proud of their
heritage. The family cot in which our children slept, is still in the top
cupboard waiting
for our first grandchildren !!

Why do we stay here ? I ask myself again as I feel the last rays of the
sunlight caress my
cheeks, Bulawayo has a climate that is quite fascinating, we never have real
"weather" like
they have in Texas, no hurricanes, no tornadoes.

We only have two real seasons - hot and cold !! But although the days can
get hot, the
nights are always balmy, the winters are sublime with nice crisp nights and
warm winter
days. The rain ? Well we are lucky this year but too many years have been
spent with
aching heart watching the clouds gather and then dissipate again and again.

Of course our staff should get many cudos too for making life in Zimbabwe so
No being stuck to the laundrey basket, tied to the washing machine, hung by
the iron
cord, instead we have wonderful loyal people who are part of our lives, who
live with us,
eat with us, share with us, our dreams and disappointments.

Here live my four new daughters, Charles Angels, four daughters he left
behind for us to
take care of. He gave his whole life to our family and now it is time to pay
him back for 38
years of loyal friendship.

Here are my three dogs and four cats, romping in the garden beside me,
Vickie the Great
Dave gently taking my arm in her giant mouth leading me around in her usual
hyper mode. Baxter the ancient Jack Russell staggering along, any other dog
would have
given up years ago after he suffered a stroke, blind as a bat, deaf as a
door post, but not a
Jack Russell !! He even looks like a puppy tonight as he gambols awkwardly
around looking
in vain for the other dogs.

The four cats all have a their own unique personalities too, and how
fortunate are we to be
able to leave them, at the drop of a hat with fine people who will care for
them as if they
were their own, until we wander back home from our travels.

Outside the garden, the world and his wife wanders by, the domestic chores
finished for
the day, folk gather on street corners to talk about the cost of living, the
favourite topic,
the political stalemate which is haunting us, eating away at our very souls
like a big

In the distance the most poignant of all Zimbabwe sounds, the clank of the
rubbish bin lid
as the last remains of the sunlight dies down like a golden orb on the

Is it worth it ? Living away from every single member of our family, a kind
of Zim exile that
we have chosen for ourselves. Are we stupid ? Are we brave ? Or are we just
plain ornery
that this "thing" will never get us down !!

My heart goes out to Heather Bennett , the brave WOZA and MOZA men and women
have been in jail so many countless times, and to the families of Justina
Mukoko and the
other brave activists who are in prison right now for standing up for
democracy, I hope
and pray that all this sacrifice will be worth it in the end.

There are so many wonderfully brave people who have worked tirelessly for
this country of
hours for so many years, through so much anguish, pain and suffering, please
God let it
not be for nought.

How I wish so much that I could find a crystal ball and see into the future,
and see if we
should still be here right now .....

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Military coups come in different forms

February 16, 2009
Chenjerai Hove

AS FAR back as the 2002 elections, Zimbabwe's uniformed forces declared they
were not going so salute anyone who did not have liberation war credentials.
The armed men had realized that President Robert Mugabe was going to lose
the elections then.

In March 2008 they sang the same song. President Mugabe sang the chorus:
"Even if I lose, I will not leave."

And his young wife, Grace,  was quick to join the chorus. The message was
clear: nobody else was coming to State House to take away the presidency
from Mugabe.

Military coups and dictatorships happen in different ways, some of them
funny but others tragic. People always think of military coups in terms of
the army shooting its way into State House. That is only one way, but there
are many other ways.

Zimbabwe is a military state in which everything has been converted to be an
arm of the military: national parks, railways, grain distribution, the
national airline, elections, the national oil company, ministries, tourism,
beauty contests, land, the economy, everything.

By refusing to salute any other leader except Mugabe and his old guard, the
service chiefs had, indeed, declared a military coup which was organized in
order to deny the democratic will of the people.

The Joint Operations Command, made up of all services chiefs, has been
running the country since the days of Ian Smith who invented it together
with former intelligence boss, Ken Flower, author of  "Serving Secretly".
It was established in order to coordinate all military operations against
the communist-inspired "terrorists". It would seem Mugabe was only too happy
to inherit it instead of dismantling the outfit since the war had ended.

Zimbabwe's military coup is one of the most interesting in the world. The
JOC were, in their younger  years, instrumental in committing all sorts of
crimes per order. Now they say to President Mugabe, 'You cannot leave us
alone if you negotiate your exit package without including us.'

So they hold him at gunpoint and say, "Comrade, you are not leaving State

And of course to make them happy, the senior service chiefs have been
allowed to do whatever they want: grab farms and properties, loot in the
Matebeleland genocide, loot in Mozambique and then finally loot in the
Democratic Republic of the Congo, where trading companies were run by army
officers. The ordinary Zimbabwean benefitted nothing from the war in the
DRC. Army officers were having a field day, exporting Congolese gold,
timber, diamonds, copper, everything which they could lay their hands on,
including selling books and pens to schools in the DRC.

There were night flights transporting their loot into Zimbabwe.

But Mugabe had no power to ask the army men what they were doing. They had
done his dirty work and he was prepared to protect them when their chance
came to do their own dirty work.

Zimbabwe has lived under a 'silent coup' for many years, all hidden from the
public. And Mugabe has never known the language of persuading the voters to
elect him. The service chiefs seem to have assured him that it is not
necessary to persuade the voters. And the June 2008 so-called elections were
simply an example of what has been happening for years.

"Zimbabwe is he mine. . The pen cannot be mightier than the gun," Mugabe
declared during the election campaign in 2008.

And the Zanu-PF militia is above the law. Members are paid as per amount of
damage they inflict on the people.

Military coups always thrive on the services of both the army and personal
militias. The police become some kind of personalized militia armed in order
to destroy society's cultural fabric to keep "the leader" in power.

The rule of law is thrown away and the state institutions are transformed to
the  "I".

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Shared power brings shared accountability

South African president Motlanthe has shown SADC’s true colours in his statement that the fate of Roy Bennett and the other abductees is in the hands of the new all inclusive government. This statement follows information we have received that at yesterday’s JOMIC meeting Chinamasa laid his cards on the table: blanket amnesty for all political crimes since 1980 in return for the release of the abductees.

Now is the true litmus test for the newly sworn in Prime Minister. The new power-sharing government needs to realise that with shared power comes shared responsibility and shared public accountability.

Bennett has now been moved to Mutare prison and has apparently declared that his party must not give in to this heinous form of horse-trading.  I received the following sms’s from someone who got them from someone else who was there. They chronicle the court proceedings. (For background on Peter Hitschmann, go to the BBC.)

3:00 - Defence lawyer Trust Maanza is saying that the very charges brought against Roy are the ones brought against Peter Hitschmann and were thrown out of court then!

3:15 - Only evidence State has is an email supposedly from Hitschmann to Roy. Defence says it can be written by anyone and therefore is inadmissable.

3:25 - Onto the second charge of contravening the immigration act…. Defence is saying that Roy presented himself to the immigration officer and has a copy of the manifesto as well as the immigration officers list to prove it.

3:36 - The state is saying that from the beginning Hitschmann implicated Roy as supplying the funds. Defence is reiterating that the evidence has already been discredited in the Hitschmann trial as the confession was extracted from Hitschmann by torture.

3:45 - The state is back onto the email and clutching at straws. Defence says ‘bring Hitschmann to the court to testify’. The prosecutor says it is not necessary and not proper but will call him at the appropriate  time

4:03 - Defence is saying Hitschmann did not implicate Roy as he (the Defence) was there and the Prosecutor was not! But bring Hitschmann now!  State is fumbling with their papers!

4:47 - The magistrate says no one is allowed to access Hitschmann.  He will rule at 12 tomorrow whether Bennett is allowed bail. Defence has asked that Bennett be kept at the police station and not the prison. Magistrate says Prison. Court dismissed.

So Roy Bennett won”t be sworn in tomorrow with the rest of the Deputy Ministers. It is very clear that the hawks in Zanu PF are determined to do what they can to de-rail the new government and are also showing their true fears with their offer for the release of these innocent victims.  There is also strong rumour that these same hawks are angry at the information that Mugabe has established an exit package for himself, with no concern for the rest of those in the party that have blood on their hands.

We await the MDC statement and what lies ahead in Zimbabwe’s courts tomorrow with the next episode in Bennett’s case and the appearance of seven abductees who should have been in court on Monday.

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Zimbabwe Debate

5th to 8th March 2009

Discussing Zimbabwe’s humanitarian crisis

Venue: Hope Centre, 2-3 Albert Street, Harrogate, HG1 1JG, North Yorkshire, England.

Date: Thursday, 5th March 2009

Time: 06:30pm to 08:30pm

(The H.O.P.E. Centre is on the first floor and does not have disability access).

Admission is free and open to the public.

Liberal Democrat Spring Conference, Harrogate 6th to 8th March 2009

Harrogate International Centre, Kings Road, Harrogate, HG1 5LA

Ø Zimbabwe Debate, Friday, 6th March from 08:00pm to 09:15pm (Fringe Event)

Ø Zimbabwe Debate, Saturday, 7th March from 1:00pm to 2:00pm (Fringe Event)

Ø Zimbabwe Prayer, Sunday, 8th March from 07:30am to 09:00am (Fringe Event)

The Zimbabwe Debates and prayers shall all be held within the conference under “Fringe Events” in Queens Suite 8.

Attendees to the Liberal Democrat Spring Conference must be registered. Please check the Liberal Democrat website for full details.  


Please contact: Albert Weidemann, Mahoney's Cottage, 1 Ambrose Road, Ripon, North Yorkshire, HG4 1SH, England. Telephone/ fax (01765) 607900 (UK Mobile) 079 171 56093 (Email)


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Roy Bennett's Court Appearance

The reason why Roy Bennett's failed to appear in Court was the delayed
arrival of the prosecutor. The Prosecutor is NOT from Harare but from
Bindura. His name is Emmanuel Muchenga and is the Mashonaland Central
Regional Court Prosecutor who was awarded the Best Prosecutor for 2008. He
is a serious Bindura ZANU (P.F) activist who is well known for prosecuting
several MDC activists in the province - Mashonaland Central. His recent case
(Bindura Mayor denied Bail over Perence Shiri's shooting) was when invoked
the powers to deny an innocent Major over allegation of trying to
assassinate the Airforce Commander. Several innocent MDC supporters are
languishing in prisons and several ZANU (P.F) perpetrators of violence were
released scotch-free.

Emmanuel Muchenga is a Member of the Methodist Church In Zimbabwe and an MCU
(Men Christian Union), Preacher, Bindura Church steward (Gosa) and,
Inter-denominational Chairperson (Mubatanidzwa). Despite all these posts, he
is evil and prescribes to ZANU (P.F) formula of killing, kidnapping and
looting. He is known for accepting bribes and is building a Mansion in
Chiwaridzo, Bindura despite the meager salary.

He was awarded handsomely for being their protégé by: -

Getting a low-density house whilst his boss Mr Manhiri - Area Public
Prosecutor is staying in the high density
He is now driving a Govt Cream Mistibushu whilst his boss walks to work.
He was awarded a Farm near Avonda
He draws fuel from CMED, Prison tanks and ZANU (P.F) tanks
His wife was appointed Head of Catering at Bindura University in preparation
of the hosting of the ZANU (P.F) congress
He was awarded handsomely for being their protégé by: -

Getting a low-density house whilst his boss Mr Manhiri - Area Public
Prosecutor is staying in the high density
He is now driving a Govt Cream Mistibushu whilst his boss walks to work.
He was awarded a Farm near Avonda
He draws fuel from CMED, Prison tanks and ZANU (P.F) tanks
His wife was appointed Head of Catering at Bindura University in preparation
of the hosting of the ZANU (P.F) congress
He has an assignment to prosecute MDC activists  in Gweru next week or so

He should be added on the list of people on Sanctions and all Activists can
call him on 0912 758195 or 071 6195 and his wife's number is 011 531 626


The Bindura Community At Large

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MSF Nurse's Story: The Cruelty of Cholera
February 17, 2009

Zimbabwe 2009 © MSF

In Kadoma, a child brought in a cart to an MSF cholera treatment center is given an IV by medical staff before he is moved to a bed.

Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) nurse Pia Engebrigtsen worked for two months as a nurse in Zimbabwe's Masvingo province during the country's ongoing massive cholera outbreak. This was the Norwegian nurse’s fourth mission with MSF; here she describes the experience.

Cholera can kill within hours

Dealing with cholera is different than other emergencies I have worked on. It was the speed of it that made it so different. When you enter an area with many people sick from cholera or a clinic completely overloaded with cholera patients, you know lives will soon be lost. Cholera can kill within hours as a result of dehydration, so you have to make very quick decisions. Tomorrow might be too late. This was a different way of thinking from my previous emergency experience. At the same time, we had to make wise decisions. Cholera was literally all over the country and we needed to be consistent in the support we gave.

Cholera patients lie completely still on their beds, while the intravenous (IV) drips that rehydrate them are running quickly. You see they are exhausted. You can often tell just by looking at them how dehydrated they are. Their eyes are sunken and the whites of their eyes will still show even though their eyes are closed.

Finding the needs in rural areas

Zimbabwe 2009 © Joanna Stavropoulou/MSF

MSF is implementing a program in communities around Harare where they directly chlorinate people's water in their buckets and jerry cans.

We used different strategies to help as many people as possible in the large, mostly rural province where we worked. I was part of an exploratory team that visited rural areas affected by cholera to decide whether or not MSF needed to intervene. Sometimes we also went to areas where we didn't know if cholera was present, just to see the situation for ourselves. We had to travel long distances and sometimes slept in the villages. The roads in the countryside were really bad; we sometimes had to struggle even with a four-wheel drive. I would imagine how hard it was for people who only have a donkey cart to transport the sick to a health center.

The people in the villages were very calm when we arrived. The children were different, of course. They laughed and pointed, and giggled when they touched us.

If there was no health facility in the area, we would sometimes set up our own cholera treatment unit (CTU), which was often the case in the old farm lands that covered huge areas in the bush. We carried the essential equipment in the car – set up supplies such as plastic sheeting, buckets of various sizes, chlorine, cleaning equipment and protective clothing, such as aprons and boots, as well as medical supplies including ringer lactate, oral rehydration salts, IV sets, antibiotics, gloves and first aid kits.

If there was a health center, we made improvements so they could properly isolate the cholera patients. We trained staff to identify cholera patients from those with another diarrheal disease and to evaluate who needed urgent attention.

We found many patients in a very severe state; many were unconscious without palpable pulses. Then, after a few hours with intravenous fluid therapy, they were able to sit up and talk. Most patients stay in the center for 2 or 3 days, then go home completely cured.

Even so, it was very sad to be there. There were many people we were not able to save as cholera was all over the provinces, many little villages were affected. Sometimes we came too late – the cholera had already burnt its way through the village by the time we got there. This was the biggest problem – the distances are huge and we were not able to reach everyone in time.

The days were long; we normally worked every day until after midnight. Every day was unpredictable so you had to get as much work out of the way as possible each day.

We felt very much welcomed in the communities. The people have been suffering for a long time without receiving much help from the international community, so I think any type of support would have been welcomed. They were very open and realized the need for help to fight the disease. We drove to isolated villages where we were always met by very hospitable villagers who willingly shared information and their concerns.

The nurses who worked in the local health centers were usually very grateful for our support. Most of them lacked equipment and had not been supplied with essential drugs for a long time, so our trainings and donations made a big difference in their daily work.

Spreading information about cholera

Zimbabwe 2009 © Joanna Stavropoulou/MSF

MSF trains teams of community outreach workers around Harare to spread the word about prevention and treatment of cholera.

The importance of educating people about how to prevent cholera became increasingly clear to me when I realized that people were dying just because they lacked basic information. They did not know how cholera was transmitted so they could not take preventative measures.

I used every opportunity to talk to community leaders about cholera and make them understand how they could help stop the spread of the disease in their own villages. If we had time, we would also ask the leader to gather the whole community so we could explain what cholera was, how to prevent it and what to do when a person became ill. We also asked them to agree on who would provide a donkey cart ambulance for the village, since most people did not have any means of transportation.

In the beginning, many people would die in the community without having gone to the health center; many others would arrive at the center in a very severe state. After health education, patients would come much earlier. People rarely died in the community. The funerals of people who died from cholera were monitored by health staff to help ensure that cholera was not spread there – cholera funerals are a main source of infection in the countryside as people touch the body and then eat together.

The experience has definitely changed me. Before I came to Zimbabwe, I had not imagined how cruel cholera was. For me it was just an infectious diarrheal disease. Now I know what damage it brings with it. All the suffering made a strong impression on me. So many more lives would have been spared if more international aid had been present.

I think what made the strongest impression on me was meeting parents who had lost their whole families. They could be completely silent, but their eyes spoke of their pain and their hopelessness. I think many of them felt guilty for not having brought their sick family members earlier to the health facilities. But the barriers are so many: lack of money, lack of transportation means, lack of knowledge, huge distances. It is so easy to be the judge afterwards.

I will remember all the people, they were so friendly and good humoured and wise. I cannot imagine how it is possible to keep your spirit up under such hopeless conditions, but somehow they managed. They were strong minded and were not willing to give up.

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Zimbabwe's new unity government is doomed


From Wednesday's Globe and Mail

February 17, 2009 at 10:04 PM EST

After almost a year of dithering like a reluctant bride, Zimbabwean
opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai finally relented to pressure from
African leaders to consummate his forced marriage with President Robert
Mugabe last week.

Like most arranged marriages, Zimbabwe's government of national unity
between Mr. Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change and Mr. Mugabe's
ZANU-PF party had a bumpy start and is doomed to end quickly and in

True to his character, Mr. Mugabe did not waste time to inflate his
allocation of cabinet ministers, arrest an opposition cabinet nominee and
refuse to release opposition officials from unlawful detention. It was a
baptism of fire, Mugabe-style - and a warning to Mr. Tsvangirai that,
although he may have been allowed into the inner sanctum, he will suffer the
consequences if he doesn't play along.

Mr. Tsvangirai and his officials have tried to convince the world that the
coalition government will work. But why is there no stampede by returning
refugees at Zimbabwe's border points with South Africa, Botswana, Zambia and
Mozambique? Why are there no spontaneous celebrations in Harare or Mutare?

The answer is simple. Zimbabweans wanted a non-partisan or neutral
transitional authority, not a unity government. Common sense based on
history would've been enough to dissuade the MDC from falling into Mr.
Mugabe's trap.

This government is the same as the one that ZANU-PF entered into with the
now defunct Zimbabwe African People's Union of the late Joshua Nkomo after
Mr. Mugabe pulverized Mr. Nkomo's power base of Matabeleland in a military
campaign dubbed Gukurahundi (washing away the chaff) that resulted in the
deaths of more than 20,000 people.

The ZANU/ZAPU government began in 1987 as a union of equals but soon turned
out to be a consolidation of Mr. Mugabe's rule. ZAPU officials opposed to
the set-up were harassed into exile or simply bought off. In no time, ZAPU
leaders were defending Mr. Mugabe's atrocious human-rights record and
joining in the plundering of the economy.

Mr. Tsvangirai's meteoric rise as a trade-union organizer and his subsequent
transformation into a political leader is a direct result of misrule by the
ZANU/ZAPU government.

Much is made out of Mr. Mugabe's loss to Mr. Tsvangirai in the presidential
election last March. Some argue that this loss forced Mr. Mugabe into a
union with Mr. Tsvangirai. The truth is, Mr. Mugabe only relented to
"persuasion" from fellow southern African leaders, especially those
concerned with the regional ripple effects of Zimbabwe's instability.

These leaders may recognize the broad-based support that Mr. Tsvangirai and
his party enjoy, but they have no respect for him as a political leader.
They consider his ideology alien to an Africa still dominated by the
anti-colonial ethos of freedom fighter movements.

In that respect, they advised Mr. Mugabe to make a show of accommodating Mr.
Tsvangirai and relieve them of the pressure from Western donors threatening
to punish them for associating with Zimbabwe's rogue regime. But therein
lies another problem for Mr. Tsvangirai. For this government to work, it
needs the financial backing of the international community. And that means
Western democracies would have to recognize Mr. Mugabe, the man they have
tried to push out for years. Such recognition, of course, would be
embarrassing for them and an invaluable victory for Mr. Mugabe. Can the West
afford that?

The new government is supposed to come up with a new constitution in about
18 months. This constitution is supposed to curtail most of Mr. Mugabe's
power and punish him and his officials for the atrocities they have
committed over the years. But who's going to draw up this constitution? A
unity government led by Mr. Mugabe. Go figure.

Meantime, the two parties are supposed to be campaigning for a new election.
How on earth are they going to work together when they are both eyeing the
ultimate prize? In any case, the country's electoral machinery is still in
the hands of the army and the intelligence agencies - the real power behind
Mr. Mugabe. Ultimately, then, the coalition arrangement will simply allow
Mr. Mugabe to continue to misrule the country.

Zimbabweans will have to survive from the scraps falling off the
Mugabe/Tsvangirai dinner table, and those who live to tell the story might
face another farcical election in about five years. It has happened before,
and there are no reasons to doubt it will happen again.

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Hunger striker falls critically ill

February 17, 2009

By Mxolisi Ncube

JOHANNESBURG - Nomboniso Gasa, a South African civic leader fasting in
solidarity with the people of Zimbabwe, has been admitted to a Johannesburg
hospital after falling critically ill.

Her condition has been described as "alarmingly low levels of iron" in her

According to a statement released Tuesday by the organisers of the fast, the
outspoken Gasa fell ill only six days into her planned 21-day hunger strike
but would continue taking only water during her treatment programme.

The fast was launched at the Central Methodist Mission in central
Johannesburg last month.

Gasa, who also heads the Gender Equity Commission (GCE), embarked on her
fast on February 11, and was set to fast for 21 days.

"Her first six days of the hunger-strike have passed without incident, but
she is currently undergoing emergency medical intervention today (Tuesday),"
reads the short statement in part.

"A regular doctor's appointment two days ago included a battery of blood
tests. One test came back with results of alarmingly low iron levels."

On Tuesday, Gasa went through a seven-hour long intravenous drip, meant to
administer iron into her system but in a method that did not break her
hunger-strike, said the statement.

Gasa would not endanger her health to the point of permanent damage but
remained committed to the fasting process, according to the organisers.

"Under strict medical supervision she will continue on the hunger-strike for
the full 21 days consuming only water.

"Nomboniso Gasa has taken the next leg of this relay fast and hunger in
solidarity with the people of Zimbabwe, in an attempt to keep the issues
surrounding Zimbabwe on the table and in the spotlight," said the statement.

Meanwhile, another volunteer in the fast, Kumi Naidoo, honorary president of
a Johannesburg-based human rights coalition, CIVICUS, completed his 21-day
hunger-strike on February 11, without any health problems, said the

The organisers said: "If the demands of the Save Zimbabwe Now! Campaign are
not met, Dumisa Ntsebeza, head of the Investigative Unit within the Truth
and Reconciliation Commission and current  Advocate in the High Court of
South Africa, will take the third leg of the relay fast and hunger-strike on
March 4, 2009 for 21 days."

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How China Could Help Zimbabwe
FEBRUARY 18, 2009

Welcome the Mugabes to Hong Kong.

From today's Wall Street Journal Asia.
Robert Mugabe made headlines last week for swearing in a new "unity"
government with the main opposition party only then to arrest one of the
party's leaders on charges of treason. An ocean away in Hong Kong, the
Zimbabwean President is attracting a different type of attention over
reports that he recently bought a $5.8 million house in the city, where his
daughter is attending university.

This isn't the first time the Mugabes have been in the news in Hong Kong.
Last month Mugabe's wife Grace was reported to have punched a photographer
while on a shopping trip in Hong Kong. The First Lady left town before
police could investigate. The photographer said later that her diamond rings
acted like "knuckle dusters."

Hong Kong's foreign policy is handled by Beijing, whose reaction has been a
big shrug. "Hong Kong is a free port, and even Falun Gong practitioners can
buy a property there, am I right?" a Foreign Ministry spokesman told the
South China Morning Post. It's an offensive comparison. Falun Gong is a
peaceful quasi-Buddhist sect banned in China. Mugabe and his thugs have run
the Zimbabwean economy into the ground and forced thousands to flee or die
of starvation. Unemployment is at 90% and inflation is so insanely high that
prices double every day. A cholera epidemic has claimed at least 3,500
China has backed Mugabe's regime with aid and investment for decades,
continuing its support long after other countries withdrew. Last year South
African port workers refused to unload a Chinese ship laden with arms headed
for landlocked Zimbabwe.

It's easy to understand why the Mugabe family likes Hong Kong. It's a
gleaming, modern city with all the amenities that Zimbabwe lacks, thanks to
Mugabe's misrule. U.S. and European travel bans prevent them from visiting
many of the world's other big cities.

Perhaps Mugabe's friends in China could do him one last favor: Encourage him
to move to Hong Kong. He'd do a lot less damage there than in Harare.

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Contracting cholera from an unwashed mango

17 Feb 2009 10:28:00 GMT

Written by: Save the Children

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

Today I visited a cholera treatment clinic in Harare where staff have been
working non-stop since mid November.

I met a nurse who was now being treated as a patient. She told me the
community has no toilets and repeated water cuts have made access to clean
water extremely challenging.

Many patients spoke of open sewage around their homes and others spoke of
only having one well within walking distance which is so shallow it can
easily get infected.

One young mother I spoke to was so weakened by cholera that, as she spoke,
her eyes rolled back and she had to lie down. She complained of cramps and
when she showed me her feet they were contorted in pain. Cramping is a
symptom of the severe dehydration brought on by cholera.

Seeing her pain, I tried to end the interview, but she insisted we continue.
She said she had contracted cholera by eating an unwashed mango - a
confession that lifted the atmosphere, as it made her and the ward laugh at
the misfortune.

While we spoke, I found out that she had a two-week-old baby at home who, in
the rush to get the mother to the clinic, had been left at home without
anyone to feed her.

This was also news to the staff, as the lady had hardly been able to speak
when she was admitted.


They said they would speak with her family when they came to deliver her
meal (in Africa, there's no food in the hospital so patients rely on friends
and family to bring food).

They would tell the family to bring the child to the clinic each a day to
receive expressed milk. The mother was visibly relieved at this suggestion.

We asked the staff what they would do if the family couldn't bring the baby
in each day for her feeds, for example if they lived too far away. They ran
through many options, including the last resort of quarantining the mother
and baby together to minimise the risk of infecting the baby.

Despite the obvious exhaustion of the dedicated staff, the hygiene standards
in the clinic were impeccable - control is paramount in cholera treatment
centres. I can't tell you how many times I washed my hands and feet. I
dropped a paper from my notepad and it was quickly whisked off the floor by
the nurse and destroyed for fear of infection.

It was clear that this clinic is very well run and the staff are on top of
keeping cholera under control. This is evidenced by the fact that cholera in
this suburb is on the decline.

However, I hear this is often not the case in the rural clinics and I'm keen
to find out more.

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Undiplomatic dispatches from Zimbabwe

The Foreign Secretary has one. British ambassadors have one. But it is the
bloggers of the British embassy in Harare who have set the blogosphere
alight. Here are their tales from a year at the diplomatic front line...

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Posted 12:45, 25 March 2008

by Philip Barclay

Dinner with a (Zanu-PF) MP standing for re-election. While I'm catching up
on my calorie deficit, he's in philosophical mood. "Our time may be up. I
don't think I can hold on to my seat. We have to admit that people are tired
and hungry and some of them are angry. Of course, our problems date back to
what the IMF did to us in the 1980s and that nasty letter your Clare Short
wrote to our President in 1997. It might be time to move to the UK and join
my family..."

We carry on into the evening. We don't agree about the causes of Zimbabwe's
problems, but he's an honest man and he knows that his party is facing the
lash of a furious electorate.

Posted 11:13, 18 April 2008

by Philip Barclay

There's a right way and a wrong way to approach a cordon of Zimbabwean riot
police. I usually try and carry it off with a self-confident swagger, as if
a line of big cops in crash helmets and heavy boots carrying nasty sticks is
an everyday hurdle. I try to look like a man who has proper business in
Zimbabwe's High Court, rather than what the state media portrays me as: a
colonialist who is sabotaging Zimbabwe's economy because he wants to restore
white supremacism. As I reach the thick blue line I manage a cheerful "Good
morning! How are you sirs?", in the Zimbabwean style. This usually elicits
some tentatively cheery responses and a gap in the cordon big enough to walk
through. And the technique works today.

I note that there are no officers in the line, which is good as it means
there's nobody to order the cops to start hitting me. But then again if they
do start hitting me there's no one to tell them to stop.

Posted 11:46, 11 April 2008

by Grace Mutandwa

The counting of the presidential votes seems to have hit a major snag. It
seems the figures are not adding up or where they do, they are not what they
are supposed to be. We the voters of course have no right to know what has
happened to our votes. All we are being told is to be patient and remain

Zimbabweans are an amazing people. They ought to be in the Guinness Book of
Records for their patience and great sense of humour even in times of
hardships and adversity.

Posted 10:32, 10 June 2008

by Philip Barclay

I am making yet another election monitoring trip in Masvingo this week,
along with our human rights officer. We get a call saying there has been a
bomb attack on the MDC in Zaka and that people are dead. By the time we
reach the MDC office, two policemen are standing some distance from it,
instructing us to leave the area. I must admit I lose my temper a little. I
ask the more senior policeman why he is obstructing international observers
going about their proper business. I ask him if he had arrested anyone for
murder. I ask him if he, in fact, knows exactly who has done this. The
policeman says he had orders to obey. I ask him if he's heard of the
international tribunals where war criminals are put on trial, and the
Nuremberg defence.

We hear that a man injured in the attack has been taken to a hospital in
Masvingo. We zoom over there and find the man - bandaged hands and feet and
burnt hair. His story of what happened is horrible. Six MDC officials,
sleeping in their office, were woken by an armed gang at 4am. The armed men
forced the officials to lie down and shot three people immediately. (I pray
to any available God that they were killed outright). Petrol was poured over
them all and they were set alight. The man I am talking to managed to tear
off his clothes, beat out the flames burning his body and escape.

If you are one of the few people in this world who believe there is not a
ghastly crisis in Zimbabwe; if you believe the brazen official lies that the
MDC is responsible for the violence; or if you believe that a fair election
is possible when opposition party workers are being burnt alive, I urge you
to reflect on what you have just read, and think again.

Posted at 10:22, 27 October 2008

by Philip Barclay

Cleanliness is an aptly-named cleaner at the embassy. I bump into her on my
way out of the building, dressed in a very smart, black outfit. She tells me
that her sister Godliness has just passed. Zimbabweans like euphemisms:
people don't die, they pass, they became late or they go to be with God.
Cleanliness is composed. I say she must be upset. "Ah, it's all right." She's
not unfeeling, death is just so much more everyday here and her sister's was

Godliness had HIV, I suppose? "Sure. But we don't mention about that. It's
our African taboo. Nobody says that anyone has HIV."

Posted 08:59, 24 December 2008

by Grace Mutandwa

At 23:38hrs on the last Saturday before Christmas I finally walked out of
the Spar supermarket in my neighbourhood. The shop had looked like a
bombsite. Trolleys laden with people's wishlists (goods that never made it
to the checkout) littered the shop. Bags of sugar, packets of salt, exotic
ciders, cans of imported beer, defrosting chickens and a turkey or two, all
left because money had run out. I am trudging along buying this or that,
ticking the boxes to ensure that those few relatives I can help will at
least have one decent meal on the day Jesus Christ was born. I am not sure I
am still a believer. Too much pain has passed through the country this year.

Posted 16:17, 19 January 2009

by Philip Barclay

Monday morning. It's been a weekend of doughnuts and I'm drinking too much
again. A can of Namibian beer seems easier and tastier than water flavoured
with the sulphuric tang of purification tablets. In Zimbabwe, alcoholism is
a prophylactic for cholera. For some reason Harare's powers that be cut off
the British embassy's water supply in December. It's not clear if this was
another sign of Zim's water system failure or a protest at our policy of
saying that Mr Mugabe's government is not altogether the best thing since
sliced bread.

Posted at 13:27, 16 February 2009

by Grace Mutandwa

Tsvangirai's inauguration speech was a far cry from the man who took the
first steps towards change in September 1999. He was confident and spoke
eloquently about the challenges ahead. As prime minister, he promised to
help restore the rule of law, respect of human rights. In the heat of the
moment apart from promising an independent media, the new prime minister
promised foreign currency-denominated salaries. Unless he has his own
foreign currency printing press, I do not know where he will get the money.

My sincere hope is that he will deliver for his own sake and more
importantly for the sake of all Zimbabweans who stood by the MDC through
thick and thin. Political |prisoners still locked behind bars |will also
hold him to his promise. Wherever this new road takes him, may the force be
with him.

Who are the bloggers?

Philip Barclay has worked for the Foreign Office since 1999, when he made a
career change that took him from London Transport to international
diplomacy. Before working in Zimbabwe where he is Second Secretary, he held
posts in London and Poland.

Grace Mutandwa is a Zimbabwean former journalist who joined the British
Foreign Office as a press officer in 2002.

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Charges against WOZA must be dropped

Dear Editor,

I write out of grave concern for the safety and personal security of members of Women of Zimbabwe Arise. On 10 February, Zimbabwean police arrested two lawyers and eight members of WOZA for holding a peaceful protest outside of Parliament in Harare. Four days later, the police arrested over one hundred demonstrators in Bulawayo. WOZA's leaders, including Jenni Williams, face criminal charges on 26 February of disturbing the peace for staging a non-violent demonstration in October 2008 against the government's economic policies. It is my sincere hope that the new unity government will demonstrate a renewed commitment to human rights by dropping all charges against WOZA's leaders and allowing WOZA to hold peaceful protests without harassment.

Dr. Rowland Brucken
Zimbabwe Specialist
Amnesty International USA
(802) 485-2362
(802) 485-2252 (fax)

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Apology to Mr John Bredenkamp

February 17, 2009

ON February 2 we published an article under the headline "Lupepe loses
contract to Bredenkamp" in which an allegation was made that Bulawayo
businessman Delma Lupepe and his consortium had a lost a mining contract to
another businessman, John Bredenkamp.

It has now been brought to our attention, and we do accept, that the
reference to Mr Bredenkamp was erroneous. Mr Lupepe, in fact lost the
contract, not to Mr Bredenkamp, as reported, but to businessman Mr Billy
Rautenbach of Clidder Minerals Company. The confusion in names was entirely
our reporter's fault.

The error is sincerely regretted and we hereby tender our sincere apologies
to Mr Bredenkamp for any inconvenience or embarrassment this mistake may
have caused him.


The Zimbabwe Times

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Comment from a correspondent

I would very much love to make a donation to help the Zimbabweans but not
all the time that madman Mugabe still lives.

I cannot believe this Dictator has been allowed to get away with this for
all these years!

These people need much more than financial help, they need to be rid of that
evil madman as well.  There is no guarantee that any financial aid will
reach these people, not if the food that was sent, is anything to go by.

First things first, is what I say!!!

My family lived there for 50 years and have told me what goes on in
Zimbabwe; it is absolutely terrible and inhuman.

It makes me so angry, if there was Oil over there, this behaviour of Mugabe,
if not Mugabe himself, would have finished years ago!  Look what happened to
Sadam Hussein!


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