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Magistrate rules Bennett can face trial for terrorism

By Violet Gonda
18 February 2008

MDC Treasurer General and Deputy Minister of Agriculture designate Roy
Bennett was remanded in custody until 4th March, when he appeared at the
Mutare Magistrate's court on Wednesday. His defence team is expected to make
an urgent bail application in the High Court on Thursday.

The MDC official had been slapped with treason charges, including illegal
arms possession and of trying to leave the country illegally, the previous

Magistrate Livingstone Chipadze ruled that there is enough evidence on the
first charge of banditry and terrorism to face trial, but cleared him on the
immigration offence because the State had no evidence.

But the MDC said this was a political judgement and the charges are not
sustainable, especially when several MDC officials, including the new Home
Affairs Minister Giles Mutsekwa, were acquitted of the same charges when the
allegations against Bennett were first made in 2006.

At that time Bennett's other co-accused Peter Hitschmann, was acquitted of
the same charges of terrorism. However he was found guilty and jailed for
three years for possessing unregistered firearms

Meanwhile about 200 supporters continued with their vigil in solidarity with
the MDC official, at the court house on Wednesday. Soldiers are patrolling
the streets of Mutare and tension in the city is said to be high.

The MDC has on numerous occasions called for the immediate release of
Bennett and the other political detainees saying "there is no basis at law
for charging and incarcerating any of the political prisoners."

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Zimbabwe court throws out one Bennett charge

Wed Feb 18, 2009 7:19pm GMT

By Philimon Bulawayo

MUTARE, Zimbabwe, Feb 18 (Reuters) - A Zimbabwe court threw out one charge
on Wednesday against a senior MDC party official accused of planning
terrorism in a case testing the credibility of a unity government with
President Robert Mugabe.

Roy Bennett, named to be deputy agriculture minister in the new
administration, was arrested before ministers were sworn in last Friday on
charges of illegally possessing firearms for purposes of trying to commit
acts of insurgency, banditry and terrorism.

He was also accused of violating the Immigration Act by trying to leave the
country illegally.

Lawyers for Bennett had asked the court hearing his case in the eastern city
of Mutare to drop the charges. They said a court had thrown out similar
charges in a related case in 2006.

"There is reasonable suspicion that on the first count (of insurgency,
terrorism) he committed the offence. He will be placed on remand,"
magistrate Livingstone Chipadza ruled on Wednesday.

He dismissed the immigration charge, however.

Long-time rivals Mugabe and Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader
Morgan Tsvangirai last week formed a government, with Tsvangirai taking the
post of prime minister.

Tsvangirai said Bennett's arrest undermined the government and efforts to
stabilise the economy.

"We've told Mugabe that by doing this, you are doing everything to undermine
this government. But undermining this government is to undermine the
stabilisation programme," Tsvangirai told MDC supporters at a dinner to mark
the party's 10th anniversary.

"But we're on course. We have committed ourselves to a road-map starting
with negotiations, a transitional government to produce a new people-driven
constitution and then free elections."

Bennett recently returned to Zimbabwe from exile in South Africa after
fleeing nearly three years ago because police wanted to question him over
the discovery of an arms cache.

The former white farmer is a founding MDC party member who was one of
Mugabe's most outspoken critics.


Zimbabwe is a country in crisis because of soaring inflation, food shortages
and a cholera outbreak that has killed more than 3,700 people since August.

On Wednesday, striking teachers rejected foreign currency allowances offered
by the government to state workers, vowing to press on with a boycott that
has meant many schools have failed to open for the new year. Nurses and
doctors have also walked out from state hospitals.

Newly appointed Finance Minister Tendai Biti of the MDC told reporters the
government had revised a plan to give all civil servants grocery vouchers
and would now pay each worker $100.

Biti said government had started paying soldiers in the barracks on Tuesday
and would pay teachers, who make up the bulk of Zimbabwe's estimated 130,000
civil service, on Wednesday.

But Tendai Chikowore, head of the Zimbabwe Teachers' Association, told
Reuters the offer fell below expectations. A smaller teachers' group wants
as much as $2,300 in salaries.

"I don't think a flat allowance for all civil servants will be acceptable
without addressing the salary issue," Chikowore said.

Biti said using multiple currencies would help drive Zimbabwe's inflation
down from around 231 million percent. Figures were last published in July
and he said release of the data would resume in March.

"Now that the country has embraced the use of multiple currencies which are
relatively stable, government expects all businesses to act responsibly on
pricing of goods and services in order to create confidence in the economy,"
Biti said. (Additional reporting by Nelson Banya in Harare)
(; +263 4 799 112)

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Courts postpone ruling on political detainees

By Violet Gonda
18 February 2009

The ZANU PF game on the issue of political detainees continued on Wednesday.
Three activists, including Zimbabwe Peace Project Director, Jestina Mukoko,
have been at the Avenues Clinic since last Friday and a further two were
hospitalised on Monday. But on Wednesday the High Court and the Magistrates
court postponed hearings on some of the activists mainly because a police
report on torture allegations was not brought to the courts on time.

Lawyer Charles Kwaramba said Zacharia Nkomo and Chiroto Zulu had to be taken
to hospital by prison officials when their condition deteriorated in jail.
They join Mukoko, MDC activists Ghandi Mudzingwa and 72 year old Fidelis
Chiramba, who are under armed guard by prison officers at the hospital.

Several other civic and political activists are still incarcerated at the
notorious Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison. They are all accused of charges
relating to a plot to overthrow the Mugabe regime.

One of the groups arrested, which includes Mudzingwa, Nkomo and Zulu, had
two court hearings on Wednesday - one in the High Court for a bail
application and then a remand hearing at the Magistrates' court.  The three
did not appear because they are in hospital but four others in the group
did. They were Chris Dhlamini, Mapfumo Garutsa, Regis Mujeyi and freelance
photojournalist Anderson Shadreck Manyere.

The last time they appeared in court the Magistrate had requested a report
from the police on their torture complaints. But on Wednesday the report was
not made available at the time of the hearing, so the Magistrate postponed
the matter to Friday. Their lawyers said this also affected their bail
application hearing in the High Court, which led to the matter being
deferred to Thursday.

Their lawyer said the police did finally make the report available, but only
after the court appearances. Not surprisingly the report exonerated the
police of any wrongdoing. Kwaramba said this shows how wrong the Zimbabwe
criminal justice system is "because these police are the same perpetrators
of the torture but what the court is basically doing is that it is ordering
the same people to investigate themselves and expect them to bring a
credible report to court. It doesn't make sense at all."

The human rights lawyer said a parliamentary committee should have been set
up to investigate the allegations. The inclusive government did set up a
Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee (JOMIC) to look into
complaints and violations of the global political agreement.  But Kwaramba
said lawyers have not been given an opportunity to make presentations. "It
is a preserve of politicians unfortunately," he said.

Meanwhile, the pressure group the Restoration of Human Rights Zimbabwe
(ROHR) held a peaceful demonstration in Harare on Wednesday, protesting
against the continued detention of the prisoners of conscience at Chikurubi
and other places of detention. ROHR Information Director Edgar Chikuvire
said police came soon after the demonstration at the Rotten Row courts, and
the group was still trying to investigate if anyone was arrested.

The Congress of South African Trade Unions sent out a solidarity message on
Wednesday on behalf of the political detainees, saying: "Their arrest and
detention prove that Robert Mugabe is doing everything he can to destroy the
Government of National Unity. It demonstrates the correctness of the joint
COSATU/ZCTU statement of 29 January 2009 which pointed out then that "the
police are still under the control of ZANU-PF, abducting, detaining and
torturing political opponents of the ruling elite."
"As the federations warned, the GNU will never work while one party -
ZANU-PF - has sole control over the police and judiciary, and uses that
control to frustrate the whole GNU project and retain power in the hands of
the party who lost the elections on 29 March 2009."

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Soldiers and civil servants paid in foreign currency

By Lance Guma
18 February 2009

Just a few days into his job as Finance Minister, Tendai Biti convened a
press conference Wednesday to flesh out the new government's proposal to pay
soldiers and civil servants in foreign currency. An estimated 130 000 civil
servants will now be paid US$100 a month in tax free allowances. When Morgan
Tsvangirai was sworn in as Prime Minister last week, he pledged in his
inauguration speech to pay all civil servants in forex by the end of
February. On Tuesday soldiers received foreign currency vouchers that could
be redeemed at selected banks. Teachers and other civil servants are
expected to receive their salaries on Wednesday and Thursday.
Biti said; 'With effect from March 2009 payment to civil servants will be
done directly into their bank accounts and therefore the voucher payment
scheme will cease. We want to promote a savings culture again, that is why
we have included the bank.' He said the new government had enough foreign
currency reserves to pay February and March salaries, in what is seen as an
attempt to get striking workers back to work. It's estimated the government
will need close to US$13 million a month to keep up the commitment. Asked by
journalists who was in charge of the public funds, Biti said, 'It is a
constitutional provision that the Consolidated Revenue Fund is run by the
Minister of Finance and kept at the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.'
There has been speculation that Tsvangirai secured close to US$200 million
from 4 unnamed donors, who are willing to support the initiative to get
civil servants working again. Crown Financial (UK) Chief Executive Lance
Mambondiani told Newsreel the measures by Biti were necessary as a 'stimulus'
plan to kick start the economy, but warned this had to be a stop- gap
measure only. He argued it would be problematic to pay all civil servants
the same amount of money, irrespective of productivity. Mambondiani said the
previous budget presented by then acting Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa
had set aside US$482 million for salaries. According to Chinamasa's budget
the government also hoped to raise an ambitious US$1,9 billion from
corporate tax, fuel and import duties, among other sources of revenue.
Biti also said the country will revert back to the Zimbabwe dollar in a few
months, when the economy has stabilized, and the forex payments are a
temporary measure. Efforts by Newsreel to get hold of him on Wednesday
proved fruitless as both his phones were switched off.

Zimbabwe has already been classed as a failed state with broken down
infrastructure and almost zero industrial production. It remains to be seen
whether the government can rely on its traditional sources of income to
sustain the ambitious plans of the new finance minister.
Meanwhile striking teachers have vowed not to return to work, saying US$100
fell far short of their demands. Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe,
Secretary General Raymond Majongwe said, 'We have asked for US$2,000 and we
are getting US$100. It's ridiculous. We are still suffering. We will not go
(back to work)." Teachers have been on strike for the best part of 2008
stretching into 2009 demanding better working conditions.

A much sterner test for the workability of the new government is the arrest
of Deputy Agriculture Minister Roy Bennett. Reports say Tsvangirai used
meetings with the Ministers of Home Affairs (Kembo Mohadi), Defence (Emerson
Mnangagwa) and National Security (Sidney Sekeremayi) to demand a return to
the rule of law. He is said to have called for a halting of all farm
seizures and the release of political prisoners, some of whom have been in
prison for nearly 4 months now. Based on the way the state has dealt with
Bennett's case, and the continued incarceration of Jestina Mukoko and 30
other political prisoners, Tsvangirai's plea looks to be falling on deaf

On Tuesday Mugabe chaired the first cabinet meeting of the new coalition
government, but no details were given on the agenda items. Tsvangirai was
reported to have held a separate meeting with Mugabe on that day, in which
he raised concerns about the credibility of the new government and the need
to allow freedom of expression.

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Zimbabwe teachers vow to strike on despite US dollar pay

Africa News
Feb 18, 2009, 14:25 GMT

Harare/Johannesburg - Striking Zimbabwean teachers on Wednesday ruled out
returning to work, despite the country's new finance minister Tendai Biti,
announcing he had begun paying civil servants in hard currency as they had

The Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) said the 100 US dollars
that Biti had begun paying to civil servants fell short of their demands.

'We have asked for 2,000 US and we are getting 100 dollars. It's
ridiculous,' Raymond Majongwe, head of the told Deutsche Presse- Agentur
dpa. 'We are still suffering. We will not go (back to work).'

The PTUZ is usually supportive of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), which joined President Robert Mugabe's
Zanu-PF in a power-sharing government last week.

At his first press conference, Biti said government had begun paying civil
servants in US-dollar food vouchers that could be redeemed for cash at
banks. The army had been paid on Tuesday and teachers were paid on
Wednesday, he said.

A lawyer by training and a fierce Mugabe critic, Biti also said that he, and
not controversial central banker and Mugabe ally Gideon Gono, was now in
control of government coffers and that he would tabling a financial
stabilization plan in cabinet shortly.

Getting striking doctors, nurses and teachers back to work is central to
MDC's attempts to kickstart an economic turnaround in beleaguered Zimbabwe.

Civil servants stopped working when hyperinflation of at least 231 million
per cent made their Zimbabwe-dollar salaries worthless.

While Biti was announcing his first moves as minister, there was bad news
for the MDC on the legal front.

A judge in the eastern city of Mutare remanded the party's candidate for
deputy agriculture minister, Roy Bennett, in custody for a further two weeks
after finding there was enough evidence of his alleged involvement in an
insurgency plot to warrant detaining him further.

The MDC was expected to appeal the ruling to the High Court. No date has
been set for Bennett's trial.

Bennett, a white farmer who has already served time in prison in Zimbabwe
for an altercation with a Zanu-PF member, is accused of possessing weapons
in 2006 for the purpose of insurgency and banditry.

He was arrested on Friday shortly after returning to Zimbabwe after a
nearly-three-year absence in South Africa. He is also accused of trying to
leave Zimbabwe illegally last week.

Bennett denies the charges, which the MDC sees as part of an attempt by
Zanu-PF hardliners to subvert the fragile power-sharing deal. The party is
sticking by him for the agriculture post.

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Farmers accused of coup plot denied bail

    February 18 2009 at 09:56AM

By Stanley Gama

Three white Zimbabwean farmers and businessmen accused of training bandits
to topple President Robert Mugabe's government were yesterday denied bail by
the High Court in Harare.

And stunning details emerged in court that the main witness in the case
against them has been trying for years to seize the property of one of the

Maxwell Mavhunga, a lawyer representing John Vigo Naested, Bryan Michael
Baxter and Angus John Thompson, said after the High Court hearing that
Justice Alfias Chitakunye had ruled that the three should remain
incarcerated at Chikurubi Maximum Prison, as they were likely to interfere
with witnesses if granted bail.

They are now expected to appear in the magistrate's court on March 3, but
the lawyer said they would appeal to the supreme court.

The lawyer also revealed that Naested, who runs a training facility for Boy
Scouts known as Tree of Life Adventures, is seriously ill and is in the
intensive care unit at the Avenues Clinic in Harare.

He is suffering from an undisclosed illness and was said to have been
operated on yesterday to save his life after having spent more than a month
in the notorious Chikurubi prison.

The three, who own three small adjourning plots in the Ruwa area, about 30km
from Harare, are being charged with recruiting or training insurgents,
bandits, saboteurs or terrorists on Naested's plot.

At the time of their arrest on January 5, they were accused of training the
bandits on behalf of the Movement for Democratic Change to topple Mugabe.

But in court documents, the men have described a deadly plan to plant
charges on the three by Joseph Banda, a well- connected former Reserve Bank
of Zimbabwe security boss, who since 1996 has tried, but failed, to invade
Baxter's farm.

Banda invaded the plot after the arrest of the owner.

It has also emerges that before the three were arrested, Baxter's plot,
which is opposite the training camp, had been raided five times by police at
the instigation of Banda.

In the past Banda has even used violence to try to oust Baxter from the farm
but has been barred by the courts.

The three also claim that police have not taken action for his violence
against Baxter because of his connections in the country's top security

According to the court papers, Banda took advantage of the arrest of the
three to invade the plot, where his workers are said to be harassing and
threatening Baxter's wife to vacate the premises.

"It is incisive to note that all the five raids were at the instigation of
Joseph Banda, who intends to take over the second applicant's (Baxter) plot.
He has employed violent means in his bid to take over the plot, but all have

"He has made several death threats to Baxter and his family, and on one
occasion, he assaulted the second applicant (Baxter) and damaged his car,"
reads the defence outline.

The trio's lawyer has dismissed the state's case against his clients as
"false and malicious" and argued that their arrest was initiated only so
that Banda would take one of the farms.

"Right now, Banda's people have invaded Baxter's plot, and it is disturbing
to find out that he is the same guy who is the key witness. He is the one
who reported the matter and he is also acting as an investigating officer.

"There is no evidence whatsoever to link the three old men to banditry," the
lawyer said.

He added that, so far, no other witnesses had been identified.

Neighbours also said it was surprising to hear that the three were training
bandits when they have never heard a single gunshot in the five years the
Tree of Life Adventures has been in existence. - Independent Foreign Service

This article was originally published on page 11 of The Star on February 18,

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Final push to remove white farmers

By Tichaona Sibanda
18 February 2009

There is a well coordinated plan by elements in ZANU PF to push the
remaining white farmers off their land, before this practice is outlawed by
the inclusive government, Newsreel learnt on Wednesday.

Gerry Whitehead, a Chiredzi based farmer, told us police officers and
district administrators have been visiting the remaining white farmers and
serving them with eviction orders.

Whitehead explained that most of these farmers had long stopped farming
operations, after losing their land during the invasions, but had remained
stuck in their houses 'as they had nowhere else to go'.

The Zimbabwe Times reported this week that least 140 commercial farmers face
both prosecution and eviction from their land over the next two weeks, as
government tries to grab the remaining farms.

It said Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) President Hendriek Olivier had told
them that over one hundred commercial farmers had been summoned to various
courts countrywide over the next two weeks, allegedly for defying government
directives to vacate their land.

But it's reported that most police officers tasked with carrying out the
orders are reluctant to do so, now that there is a new unity government in

'Now there is no atmosphere of fear, the farmers are not particularly
worried about it because the police have shown reluctance to push them out
of their houses. The police are actually telling the farmers they are being
pushed by their people in Harare,' Whitehead said.

He added; 'It's clear the orders are coming from the generals. They have
enjoyed the gravy train for a long time and now they know it's coming to an
end. This is why they are throwing spanners in the works.'

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

ZANU PF apologist, Themba Mliswa, addressed the gathering and ordered more
farm evictions then, saying this wouldn't be possible after the formation of
an inclusive government.

On Tuesday Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai held a meeting with the country's
security ministers and demanded from them an immediate return to the rule of
law. Tsvangirai also expressed concern about reports of fresh farm

But the ministers denied any knowledge of new farm invasions, suggesting
rogue elements in ZANU PF are determined to derail the unity government, by
going against the provisions of the Global Political Agreement that calls
for an end to all farm invasions.
Meanwhile the sincerity of ZANU PF' security ministers in the new government
has once again come under test after three white farmers and a businessmen,
accused of training bandits to topple Mugabe, were denied bail by the High
Court in Harare.

John Vigo Naested, Bryan Michael Baxter and Angus John Thompson own three
small adjourning plots in the Ruwa area, about 30km south of Harare. Police
said they were using the area to recruit and train bandits, on Naested's

Naested, who actually runs the facility as an outdoor children's adventure
area, is now seriously ill after spending a month in Chikurubi prison, and
is in the intensive care unit at the Avenues Clinic in Harare. Reports say
he's suffering from an undisclosed illness and was said to have been
operated on Wednesday to save his life.

Court documents revealed a sinister plot by the key prosecution witness,
Joseph Banda, who probably hatched the plan for the three to be arrested.

Since 1996 Banda had tried, but failed, to invade Baxter's farm. But after
Baxter's arrest Banda did invade the plot. His workers are currently
threatening Baxter's wife to try and make her leave.  Before the three were
arrested, Baxter's plot, which is opposite the training camp, had been
raided five times by police, at the instigation of Banda.

No action has been taken against Banda by police because of his connections
with top security structures.

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Minister Accused of Stealing Tractors

Wednesday, 18 February 2009
RUSAPE - The Minister of Agriculture Joseph Made, has been accused of
stealing more than seventy tractors which are reportedly hidden at his
Headlands farm, near Rusape.

When RadioVOP visited the area last week, they were informed by Made's
farm workers that the brand new stolen tractors are hidden in a tent at his
Made was reassigned to lead the agriculture ministry on Friday by
President Robert Mugabe when he swore in cabinet.
He reportedly stole the tractors, which were meant to benefit farmers
under the Reserve bank of Zimbabwe's Mechanisation Programme. The farm
workers said Made also stole other implements that include ox drawm ploghs,
scotchcarts, among other things - which are also hidden at the farm.
Made was the Minister of Agriculture before being moved to the
position of Minister of Agriculture Mechanization, with Rugare Gumbo
replacing him as Minister of Agriculture. Made has been accused of
overseeing the destruction of the agricultural sector in Zimbabwe.
He was nominated as ZANU-PF's candidate for the House of Assembly seat
from Makoni West, a constituency in Manicaland, in the March 2008
parliamentary election. He was defeated by Webber Chinyadza of the Movement
for Democratic Change, receiving 2,585 votes against 6,187 for Chinyadza.

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Reporters Without Borders makes three recommendations in open letter to
Morgan Tsvangirai

Dear Prime Minister,

Reporters Without Borders would like to congratulate you on taking office on
13 February as Prime Minister of Zimbabwe's new government of national

As you know, our organisation is very concerned about the many violations of
human rights and press freedom that have taken place in Zimbabwe in recent

Reporters Without Borders therefore calls on you as Prime Minister to
demonstrate a genuine political will to restore the rule of law. We think
that the Zimbabwean government currently being formed should, as a matter of
urgency, take the following three measures.

Firstly, we urge you to take effective action to obtain the release of all
political prisoners, including journalist and human rights activist Jestina
Mukoko and press photographer Shadreck Manyere. Your government should
guarantee that no journalist is henceforth imprisoned in connection with
their work.

Secondly, we ask you to adopt thorough reforms that guarantee press freedom
and commit Zimbabwe to democratisation. We think that it is essential that
your government should repeal that press law known as the Access to
Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA), which was adopted in
2002. The Interception of Communications Act should also be repealed in
order to guarantee Zimbabweans' civil and political freedoms. Adopted on 3
August 2007, this law allows the government and the police to tap phone
calls and intercept email messages and faxes without requesting permission
from a judge.

Finally, we urge you to do everything possible to ensure that the Daily
News, which was Zimbabwe's leading independent newspaper, is able to resume
publishing. The previous authorities always managed to prevent this, despite
several court rulings in its favour. This newspaper's reappearance on the
newsstands would send a clear signal of the government's determination to
promote media diversity and independence. Reporters Without Borders stands
ready to make its expertise available to the Prime Minister's office in
achieving these goals.

We thank you in advance for giving our requests your careful consideration.


Jean-François Julliard, Secretary-General


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Daily cholera update and alerts, 17 Feb 2009

 full_report (pdf* format - 172.3 Kbytes)

* Please note that daily information collection is a challenge due to communication and staff constraints. On-going data cleaning may result in an increase or decrease in the numbers. Any change will then be explained.

** Daily information on new deaths should not imply that these deaths occurred in cases reported that day. Therefore daily CFRs >100% may occasionally result

A. Highlights of the day:

- 1232 cases and 24 deaths added today (in comparison 1523 cases and 69 deaths yesterday)

- 52.5% of the districts affected have reported today (31 out of 59 affected districts)

- 90.3 % of districts reported to be affected (56 districts/62)

- Cumulative Institutional Case Fatality Rate 1.876%

- Daily Institutional Case Fatality Rate 0.90%

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Q&A: Zimbabwe's Finance Minister, ''The Worst Job In The World''

Stanley Kwenda interviews TENDAI BITI, Zimbabwe's finance minister

HARARE, Feb 18 (IPS) - Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe last week presided
over the formation of a new unity government. Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) secretary general Tendai Biti was appointed to the post of finance

Biti faces the difficult task of transforming a moribund economy riddled
with the following problems: a virtually dead manufacturing sector, a
collapsed agricultural sector, a world-record inflation rate, a soaring rate
of unemployment and mounting poverty levels. But Biti, a firebrand critic of
Mugabe's economic policies, is profoundly aware of the mammoth task that
lies ahead of him.

Though he doesn't possess any qualifications in finance and economics, he
has a reputation for being a voracious reader with a penchant for quoting
from sources ranging from Greek classics, through Shakespeare and Dickens to
popular contemporary books like Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist.

The tough commercial lawyer spoke to IPS reporter Stanley Kwenda following
his appointment and offered some of his thoughts on how he intends to fix
the Zimbabwean economy.

IPS: What are your impressions of your new challenge?

Tendai Biti: The job is the worst in the world but I will have to look it in
the eye and I have no doubt that I will be equal to the task and will

IPS: How are you going to get the country's economy out of the mud?

TB: The first thing is that we have to get the country out of the mess that
Mugabe has got it into by putting in place sound measures to stabilise the
economy and create an investor-friendly climate.

IPS: How do you plan to do this?

TB: We have to fix the supply side of industry. It has to graduate in the
first six months from the near zero percent capacity to at least 60 percent
capacity. This will be done by offering packages and incentives to the
industrial sectors.

We will also need to change the mining policy and come up with an attractive
market structure which will offer local miners international prices for
their production. Mining royalty percentages will also have to be looked
into, as well as creating an investor-friendly environment by removing
various impediments.

IPS: You describe your new job as the worst in the world. There were reports
that you were at some point reluctant to participate in this new government.
What persuaded you to finally take the job?

TB: Just the fact that somebody had to do it.

IPS: Zimbabwe's economy is largely agriculture-based but this sector is far
from its full potential. What measures are you going to put in place to
revive the sector?

TB: We are going to invest a lot in this sector, particularly during the
2009-2010 agriculture season.

The sector forms the basis of the country's manufacturing sector and it
contributes about 90 percent to the country's gross domestic product (GDP).
In short we want to establish a transformation regime in all sectors.

IPS: The country's currency is now equated by many as good as toilet paper
as a result of the hyper inflationary environment. What measures are you
going to take to reverse this tide?

TB: We will introduce participatory democracy to tap into various ideas as
opposed to the centralised command system.

On the micro side of things, we will have to move to save the Zimbabwean
dollar by floating it on the market so that it finds its natural value. In
the interim we will use it side by side with the South African rand but the
solution lies in it retaining its true value rather than the randisation of
the economy.

IPS: What about the accusations that the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has
caused inflation by continually printing notes?

TB: The role of the RBZ in the economy is going to be minimal, returning it
to its core functions of managing the country's monetary policy and
establishing a real interest regime and encouraging savings in the country's
foreign currency reserves.

The printing of money will have to be stopped through the establishment of a
strict fiscal discipline regime. We will only spend what we have.

IPS: What are the prospects of the much needed financial injection from the
West to kick-start the economic revival?

TB: No doubt the country will need financial injections from the west and
there are concrete promises to this effect but these can only be realised
after the satisfaction of certain benchmarks, such as the establishment of
democracy, respect for human rights and for property rights. (END/2009)

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ZIMBABWE: A history of treason

Photo: IRIN
President Robert Mugabe
BULAWAYO, 18 February 2009 (IRIN) - President Robert Mugabe's 29-year rule in Zimbabwe has been punctuated by treason cases involving his political opponents. It is a charge that can carry the death sentence. IRIN looks back at some of the key cases.

March 1982: Dumiso Dabengwa, former intelligence chief of ZIPRA (the armed wing of ZAPU, political rival of Mugabe's ZANU party), and Lookout Masuku, deputy commander of the new integrated Zimbabwe National Army, are arrested and charged with treason. They are cleared by the courts a year later, but are detained under Section 17 of Emergency Powers regulations.

1982: ZAPU leader and veteran nationalist Joshua Nkomo is charged with plotting a coup against Mugabe. Nkomo is sacked as home affairs minister and flees the country in 1983, remaining in exile for four years.

October 1995: Ndabaningi Sithole, leader of the opposition ZANU Ndonga party, is arrested with two others for allegedly plotting to assassinate Mugabe. Sithole is sentenced to two years in prison but dies while appealing the sentence.

February 2002: Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), MDC secretary-general Welshman Ncube, and senior official Tendai Biti are arrested and charged with treason. The state alleges they enlisted the services of a shadowy Israeli "consultant", Ari Ben-Menashe, in plans to "eliminate" Mugabe. Tsvangirai is cleared by the courts in 2004; the charges against the other two men were dropped earlier.

March 2006: Arms dealer Mike Hitschmann and seven others are charged with terrorism and an alleged plot to assassinate Mugabe after an arms cache is discovered. Then MDC treasurer Roy Bennett is implicated in the case. Hitschmann is eventually jailed for firearms offences.

June 2008: MDC secretary-general Tendai Biti is arrested on his return home from South Africa. The state alleges Biti committed treason in a document he authored, outlining his party's post-Mugabe transition strategy. A separate charge of "communicating falsehoods" stems from a statement he made after the controversial 29 March elections. The treason charge is finally dropped in February 2009.

February 2009: Senior MDC official Roy Bennett is arrested and charged with terrorism, on the day he was to have been sworn in as deputy agriculture minister in the new power-sharing government. A terrorism conviction can carry a life sentence.


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

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Johannesburg picket tomorrow will call for the release of all detainees

February 18th, 2009

The Save Zimbabwe Now Campaign and the Revolutionary Youth Movement of
Zimbabwe, along with other civic groups, will be holding a picket outside
Union Buildings in Johnnesburg tomorrow. A petition will be handed over for
President Motlanthe, calling for the release of all political detainees
immediately and unconditionally.

Please spread the word and join in if you're in Johannesburg.

  Date:  Thursday 19 February
  Time:  10h30;  petition to be handed over at 11h30 for President Motlanthe
as chair of SADC
  Venue: Outside Union Buildings
  Co-ordinators:  Save Zimbabwe Now Campaign, Revolutionary Youth Movement
of Zimbabwe, etc.

Posted by Sokwanele

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ROHR protest in Harare on behalf of political detainees

ROHR protest in Harare February 18 2009

ROHR Press Release — The images [on this post] tell the tale of ROHR Zimbabwe members who today demonstrated their anger in a protest against the unresolved crisis of unjust arrests and detentions of human rights and political prisoners in Chikurubi ROHR protestMaximum Prison and other places of detention. The demonstration was also aimed at reminding the new political establishment that the release of the prisoners of conscience should be priority.

ROHR has not been able to get confirmation of the number of arrests that resulted from the action. We needed lawyers accompany ROHR members to the Central Police Station to get the actual details but coordination with lawyers was unsuccessful by end of day today.

ROHR protestClose to fifty of our members gathered at the Rotten Row Courts in Harare where they heeded the call for protests, where the symbolic act itself is a clear statement to the Inclusive government that the detainees should be released unconditionally. Although the act was short, the message is clear and the morality of our call for true justice to prevail over any form of political agenda is legitimate. It is morally incorrect, that the inclusive Government should continue as if it is business as usual when obviously the skeletons of the previous regime have not yet been buried.

ROHR protestROHR Zimbabwe Harare field officer addressed the public. He pointed out that the action should be a clear message for the new Cabinet that convened for the first time on Monday 17 February that the suffering of the detainees is central to the people’s heart and should be one of the priorities that need urgent attention if the positive hype of the inclusive Government is to be sustained.

As ROHR Zimbabwe we reiterate that all human rights and political detainees must be released immediately. We condemn the arrest of Roy Bennett and the 10 WOZA activists who are being denied lawyer access. This kind of orchestration on civilians transmits wrong signals to the world about Zimbabwe’s that cast doubt upon Zimbabwe’s capacity and readiness to practically handle the current human rights and economic challenges of today.

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JOMIC distances self from the circulating flier


18 February 2009




A flier entitled ZIMBABWE IS OUR ZIMBABWE has been circulating in some parts of the country. The flier purports to emanate from the Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee (JOMIC).

We wish to advise the public that, this flier does not emanate from JOMIC. We have no knowledge who the authors and distributors are. We wish to distance ourselves as JOMIC from both the content and the principles behind this flier.

JOMIC will continue to attend to the difficult issues under its mandate to the best of its ability under these difficult times.


We urge Zimbabweans to bear with us.


Professor Welshman Ncube

Chairperson, Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee


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Oversight to power sharing deal undermined by funding shortage

Photo: Flikr/Umsoto
Done deal? President Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai
JOHANNESBURG, 18 February 2009 (IRIN) - An oversight committee - deemed crucial to the success of Zimbabwe's power-sharing deal - is struggling to hold meetings because of a lack of money.

The Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee (JOMIC) was constituted on 30 January 2009 by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Facilitation Team, to ensure that the signatories abided by the terms of Zimbabwe's Global Political agreement, signed on 15 September 2008.

Ronnie Mamoepa, South Africa's foreign affairs spokesman, told IRIN that JOMIC was "up and running". Its guarantors are the African Union and SADC, and its facilitator is former South African President Thabo Mbeki.

Elton Mangoma, a JOMIC co-chairperson, painted a different picture. He told IRIN the oversight body was being stifled by cash shortages, which meant it did not have a permanent office to hold meetings, and had no administrative staff or travel expenses.

The function of JOMIC, according to SADC negotiators, was "to ensure the implementation, in letter and spirit, of the Global Political Agreement", consider steps to ensure "full implementation", act as a conduit for complaints, and serve to promote "an atmosphere of mutual trust and understanding between the parties".

JOMIC was established in the wake of 15 September, when the political rivalries between Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) refused to subside and threatened to scupper the power-sharing deal.

The signatories to the deal - ZANU-PF, the MDC led by Morgan Tsvangirai and a break-away MDC party led by Arthur Mutumbura - each have four representatives in the 12-person oversight forum.

The members

Among each party's representatives there is a "co-chairperson", who chairs the oversight body every three months on a rotating basis.

Mutumbura's representatives are Welshman Ncube (co-chairperson and current JOMIC chair), Frank Chamunorwa, Edward Mkhosi and Priscilla Misihairambi-Mushonga.

Tsvangirai's representatives are Mangoma (co-chairperson), Elias Mudzuri, Tabita Khumalo and Innocent Changonda.

ZANU-PF is represented by Nicholas Goche (co-chairperson) Patrick Chinamasa, Emmerson Mnangagwa and Oppah Muchinguri.

Mangoma said the "three or four meetings we have had" were held in "good spirits", and sought resolutions on "flashpoints" such as the continued detention of MDC activists - including the recent arrest of deputy minister designate Roy Bennett - fresh evictions of white farmers, and hate speech in the media.

He said apart from the cash shortage making it difficult for JOMIC to travel to areas to investigate allegations such as violence, Khumalo and Mkhosi, who live in Bulawayo, had been unable to attend meetings in Harare because of the travel costs, as was the case for Muchinguri, who lives in Mutare.


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

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South Africa Struggles to Cope With Zimbabwe Refugees

By Scott Bobb
Musina, South Africa
18 February 2009

The crisis in Zimbabwe has driven millions of its citizens to seek refuge in
neighboring countries. Many are fleeing political repression, while others
are escaping the effects of the collapse of the economy and public services.
This has created headaches for South African officials who must cope with
the influx.

It is morning at the Musina town showgrounds, a cluster of brick buildings
and sheds on a sprawling field meant to host agricultural fairs. Shelters
made of cardboard and plastic sheeting are scattered across the grounds.
Food in tin cans simmers over cooking fires.

Thousands of people have gathered at a fence behind which stand a group of
vans, a mobile registration center set up by the South African government.

This is the first stop in South Africa for many of those fleeing the crisis
in Zimbabwe.

Mike Dziva, a 23-year-old mechanic, has made it inside the gate and is in
line to register for political asylum.

"I left Zimbabwe because there are some hard conditions," Dziva said. "One
is due to political violence, political instability. And then health care is
very poor. People are dying of cholera. Even education. The schools are
closed until now."

Many refugees arrive with few or no possessions. They often are attacked by
gangs, called gumaguma's, who roam the border area robbing and sometimes
raping refugees.

Seventeen-year-old Ray Shumba is one such victim.

"I was with my brother. So we went through the river and when we were coming
through in Musina, we met some of the gumaguma's," Shumba said. "And they
took all of our clothes and money, everything we had."

Many applicants are desperate to get inside the fence and begin their
registration. People caught without documents are picked up by the roving
police vans and deported.

The manager of the mobile registration center, Sakhile Dlalisa, says his
staff can only handle 300 applications per day.

"We are under pressure because we are having nine officials working here,"
Dlalisa said. "If we had more capacity, having additional staff members and
also resources, trucks and additional computers or work stations, we could
process more."

His staff has registered more than 60,000 people, mostly Zimbabweans, since
the center was set up six months ago. But more than 2,000 applicants are
still waiting to file and more arrive each day.

Dlalisa says 95 percent of the Zimbabwean applicants are rejected because
the South African government considers them to be economic migrants looking
for a better life, rather than political refugees fleeing a repressive

But this does not deter them because they know that the rejection can be

Many people, once they receive their papers, move on to major cities or
farms in the interior. Often they seek relatives or friends who can help

One of the most graphic signs of the Zimbabwean crisis is the epidemic of
cholera, an easily preventable and treatable disease that has killed several
thousand people in Zimbabwe in recent months.

The disease has spread across the border with the refugees, infecting
several thousand people in South Africa and killing more than 50.

The Doctors Without Borders charity this week warned that the epidemic could
spiral out of control in Zimbabwe. One of its physicians in Musina, Fabrizio
Ferli, says cholera is still a threat in South Africa.

"The epidemic is not finished in Zimbabwe and it should not be considered
finished in this area," Ferli said. "We are still seeing cholera cases here.
We are taking samples and considering as cholera patients all the acute
watery diarrhea we are finding here at the moment."

He says cholera is the most visible sign of Zimbabwe's failed health
services. There are also many cases of malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV/AIDS.

Some refugees cross the border looking to further their education because
most of Zimbabwe's schools are closed.

Aid groups have placed 250 school-age children in local schools, but most go
to informal classrooms in the camp with volunteer teachers.

Aid workers say they are worried about 1,500 unaccompanied children with no
family who are considered especially vulnerable to exploitation as child
laborers or sex slaves.

Relief workers say they are surprised by the number of mothers with small
children fleeing Zimbabwe. They care for these tiny refugees in special
drop-in centers that are off-limits to others.

Agnes Moyo has been bringing her six-month-old baby to the center after
crossing the border with her husband and two other children. She says she
left home after supporters of President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF Party badly
beat her father.

"I cannot go back to Zimbabwe because I cannot. I cannot because I have seen
so many consequences, so I cannot go there," Moyo said.

There is little food and most refugees sleep out in the open. It is a tough
existence. But they get by on hope and survival skills. Whatever their
reason for leaving home, virtually no one plans to return.

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ZESA bills -- The lunatics are loose in the asylum

From a correspondent:

Have you seen your latest ZESA bill?  We just got ours -- 698 US dollars for
Dec/Jan!  And this on estimated consumption.

But never mind that the estimates are wildly wrong.  The fixed charge is
US$98 per month!  This alone is far higher than the highest total
electricity bill I have ever had anywhere in the world. In addition to
consumption charges, the development levy is US$31 and the rural
electrification levy is US$38.

And then there is the interest rate on overdue amounts -- 41.67% a month on
US dollars -- the same rate as was charged on the hyperballistic Z$. And
this at a time when the global interest rate for the US dollar is around one
percent -- per annum!

And our meter has not been read since 2006.

These madmen are clearly trying to recoup decades of underinvestment by the
Zanu-PF mismanagement team in a very short time. Either that or generate the
funds to import power (from where?) so they don't look quite so bad.  But
they clearly don't know the value of the US$ ... they just know they want
lots of them.

Ok, I have vented. But is there a strategy for dealing with this repricing
lunacy?  TelOne is doing the same -- our bill from them this month was


More from ZESA

The latest news today is hopeful on one front.  There is a sign on ZESA's
door saying 'Closed -- All accounts are now US$10 until further notice.'

It seems someone has finally realised the idiocy behind their accounts.

Now let's see if the light begins to shine in other dark corners.

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Comment from a correspondent

Mr Tendai Biti you're a wonderful man but walking a very dangerous road to
allow US dollar vouchers! Effectively you are printing money and exactly the
same thing will happen as what happened to the Zim dollar. Only this time,
worse, as we will end up with rampant USD inflation, as opposed to Zim
dollar inflation. To have USD inflation will mean that our labour wages in
real terms will grow to be astronomical levels. This will kill exports
(compounding the shortage of foreign currency), fuel imports (already
relatively high) and destroy mining (costs will be too high) and destroy
tourism totally (too expensive).
Printing money vouchers in hard currencies, not backed by hard currency or
gold, is far, far worse than printing Zim dollar money. Please rethink and
learn from past experience or you will add more devastation ot the
destruction we are facing. While you are busy trying to get some sort of
santity back into the country, including getting those unfairly jailed
released, please spare a thought for us white farmers. We have had our lives
shattered and farms stolen. I have been punished for crimes and events which
took place by unknown parties before I was even born. What justice is there
in this? Please help us.

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