The ZIMBABWE Situation
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Zimbabwe needs its farmers back - Ben Marais

Ben Marais
21 February 2009

The TAU president says aid to that country will be futile without the
restoration of commercial agriculture

Resettle Zimbabwean farmers, before giving the country money

TAU SA is glad that the South African government has not committed itself to
give financial help to Zimbabwe. "However, we are concerned about the fact
that President Kgalema Motlanthe indicated that South Africa has to take the
lead in the financial rebuilding of Zimbabwe," says Mr Ben Marais, president
of TAU SA.

Mr Marais said to just give financial support of R10 billion to Zimbabwe,
irrespective if it is donated by South Africa or any other country or global
financial institution, will not turn around the economy suddenly.

"The economy of a country can only be repaired and kept healthy, only if
sound economical principles are applied, well-founded on economical reality.
The one economical reality every country in the world realises, is that it
needs a healthy agricultural sector, to provide enough and healthy food for
the population.  For this, every country needs a good commercial
agricultural sector."

Mr Marais says Zimbabwe once had a very healthy agricultural sector, until
the white farmers were chased off their land.  The more farmers who were put
off their farms, the more rapid the economy was going down the gutter.

"If Zimbabwe would be serious about rebuilding their economy, it has to
resettle the banned farmers on their land, and also give them funding to
rebuild their farms, so that agriculture once again can play a key role in
the Zimbabwean economy.  Only on this basis TAU SA could support any funding
to Zimbabwe.  But until such a resettling plan has not been tabled, TAU SA
calls on the South African government, as well as any other government in
the word, and also on global financial institutions, not to give any
financial support to Zimbabwe.  Without rebuilding the agricultural sector,
any funding of Zimbabwe will have no effect at all," Mr Marais said.

Statement issued by Mr Ben Marais, President of the Transvaal Agricultural
Union, February 21 2009

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We need to stabilise the country – David Coltart

Published: February 21, 2009

We need to stabilise the country – David Coltart thumbnail

ZimEye(Harare) Zimbabwe’s Sports minister, David Coltart has defended himself on his recent announcement in which he said that ‘New Zealand has an obligation to tour Zimbabwe and that if needed, he will travel to New Zealand to persuade the government to allow the New Zealand team to tour Zimbabwe’. David was responding to an opinion article published on the ZimEye on Saturday Below is his detailed response.



‘…there has to be a quid pro quo - that is our position. All the sanctions must be lifted only when people like Roy are released and there is complete liberalisation, not before. But there can be interim measures taken to relax pressure which must be seen as part of the process of opening up the country. Likewise the call for NZ is not made in a vacuum - the broader issues have to be addressed and I have stated in the same interview that my intention is to tackle corruption within cricket.



But we desperately need to stabilise the country and to lift morale and that is why the call was made. When FW De Klerk released Mandela the SA team was invited to the West Indies- well before the Kempton Park initiative was finished - all as a confidence building measure - the same applies here. We are working tirelessly to address the fact that Roy and others are rotting in jail and the thugs are still in control of many aspects of our life (not just cricket) but that must not stop us from trying to stabilise the country - as evidenced by Morgan’s appeal to the SA Govt yesterday. Regards, Dave


Coltart is Zimbabwe’s new Minister of Education, Sports and Culture

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UN team visits cholera-hit Zimbabwe

February 22, 2009 - 9:34AM
A UN humanitarian team arrived in Zimbabwe on Saturday to confront deadly
cholera and a food crisis, and meet with President Robert Mugabe, officials

"The mission arrived today. It is led by Catherine Bragg, the UN assistant
secretary general for humanitarian affairs and deputy emergency relief
co-ordinator of OCHA," a spokesman of the team, John Nyaga, told AFP.

The other four members of the team are from the World Health Organisation
(WHO), World Food Program (WFP) and the UN Children's Fund UNICEF, he said.

During the five-day visit, the UN officials will meet Mugabe and Prime
Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, among others, he said.

"The aim of the mission is to understand the reality of the situation in
Zimbabwe," Nyaga said.

The team will visit humanitarian projects in Zimbabwe, mostly in the capital
Harare. On Sunday, it will hold informal meetings with UN officials, said

Mugabe agreed to allow the top-level UN team to visit Zimbabwe to find ways
of curbing the cholera epidemic and food crisis, UN chief Ban Ki-moon said
earlier this month.

"The humanitarian situation, which has reached an almost unbearable point
for the people in Zimbabwe, has been a source of deep, deep concern for the
international community, for the United Nations," Ban told a press
conference in Addis Ababa on the sidelines of an African Union summit.

"He (Mugabe) assured me that he and his country would be fully open to
humanitarian work and activities."

Cholera has killed more than 3,759 people in Zimbabwe, while seven million
people - more than half the population of 12 million - need emergency food
aid, according to UN figures.

The country has also been hit by economic meltdown, characterised by the
world's highest inflation, officially at 231 million per cent in July,
though believed to be much higher.

South African President Kgalema Motlanthe has convened the region's finance
ministers next week to devise a plan to assist their starving and desperate

Reconstructing Zimbabwe may cost as much as $US5 billion ($A7.77 billion),
Tsvangirai said after a meeting with Motlanthe on Friday in Cape Town.

© 2009 AFP

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Amid the hunger, a feast for Mugabe

February 22, 2009

It's spend, spend, spend on his 85th birthday
Sophie Shaw in Harare and Jon Swain
ZIMBABWE began a week of lavish celebrations yesterday to mark the 85th
birthday of President Robert Mugabe, Africa's oldest leader, with a party at
a luxury hotel in the capital.

A crowd of 2,000 was expected to feast on beef in sauce or roast chicken,
rice and vegetables last night, with serenades from a variety of musical
acts at the Rainbow Towers in Harare.

The dinner was in part a fundraiser to make up a short-fall in donations for
further celebrations next weekend. Organisers have complained angrily that
businessmen and farmers have reneged on promised contributions. Mugabe and
his family are used to extravagant birthday parties.

Last year his supporters raised £175,000. This year, with the country
bankrupt, almost half the population needing food aid and unemployment at
94%, donations have failed to meet targets.

So desperate is Zimbabwe's food crisis that seven thieves were recently
beaten to death for raiding neighbours' vegetable patches, according to the
state-run Herald newspaper. In the midst of a cholera epidemic that has
killed about 4,000 people, the health system has collapsed.
The country's bankrupt public sector used tens of thousands of US dollars -
now the currency in Zimbabwe - to place large newspaper advertisements
congratulating the president.

The prison service, which does not provide food or clean water for political
prisoners such as Jestina Mukoko, the human rights monitor who was jailed in
December, spent $2,000 on an advertisement paying tribute to "the resilient
and true Son of the Soil . . . the force that binds us together".

The grain marketing board, which cannot provide even a subsistence diet for
Zimbabwe's people, spent $1,500 praising Mugabe's "sacrificial dedication,
shrewd leadership and vision". The defence ministry described the president,
who has been in power since independence in 1980, as a "mighty crocodile"
who has remained "resilient, focused and resolute" in securing the country.

Even the Zimbabwean parliament, now led by an opposition speaker, splashed
out on a gushing advertisement saluting Mugabe's "unwavering determination
and commitment" to consolidate the gains of independence. The climax of the
week-long celebrations will be in Chinhoyi, 63 miles northwest of Harare.
Its hotels used to be filled with tourists stopping to visit nearby caves.

They are now deserted. Mugabe's party will not provide the town with any
business. His guests will stay in the town's university, conveniently empty
of students who have not been allowed to resume their studies this year.
Mugabe's daughter Bona, 20, is studying for her degree in Hong Kong where
the Mugabes have a £4m house.

"There has not been one piece of maintenance, nothing, for three years at
the university, but now everything is being painted so Mugabe can say it's
all modern," said a student union spokesman. "When he goes the university
will close down again." For days thugs from the 21 February Movement, a body
devoted entirely to the annual birthday celebrations, have visited farms and
businesses in the area demanding contributions. Even hard-pressed
small-holders have been asked for a goat or a bag of maize meal.

One said: "If I don't contribute, I know I'll get a visit from an angry
group of war veterans." A supporter of Mugabe's Zanu-PF party said the
catering at the Chinhoyi party would be generous. "They like plenty of beef,
which is very well cooked, sadza [mealie meal porridge], bread and relish.
And there's always plenty of beer and whisky, too. The whisky must be

Mugabe was defeated in last year's elections and has finally conceded a
share of power to his rival, Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for
Democratic Change, who was sworn in earlier this month as prime minister.
But in other respects it is business as usual for Mugabe and the powerful
military and security figures who pull the strings behind him. More than 100
political prisoners are detained without trial.

One is Roy Bennett, selected by Tsvangirai to be an agriculture minister.
The fact that Bennett is being held in custody, rather than attempting to
restart Zimbabwe's failed farming sector, speaks volumes about Mugabe's
approach to the new unity government, diplomats said.

While Mugabe celebrates, clouds are gathering in Hong Kong over his
investments. Lawmakers called for scrutiny of his financial interests by
local regulators, who are empowered to prevent money laundering by corrupt
foreign leaders and their families. Police have also sent a report to the
director of public prosecutions after an assault by Grace Mugabe, the
president's wife, on a Sunday Times photographer last month.

Additional reporting: Michael Sheridan

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Outrage Over 71 Ministers

Sunday, 22 February 2009 00:42
THE government is still battling to accommodate the 61 new ministers
and deputy ministers  amid revelations the decision to inflate the number of
ministers of state has caused friction in the two Movement for Democratic
Change formations.

Mavambo, an opposition group yesterday launched a scathing attack on
the bloated government saying it reflected "abundantly  that this GNU was
all about convenience for the politicians and not about delivery of service
to the people".

President Robert Mugabe last week swore in five ministers of state and
19 deputy ministers bringing the number of ministers, and deputy ministers
to 61.

 When the 10 governors are sworn in at a date to be announced, this
would bring the size of the government to 71 members.

Sources said government was ill-prepared for costs associated with
such a bloated government
Most of the ministers and deputy ministers were last week shown empty
offices without furniture, while others were reportedly squatting at private

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai also told guests at the MDC-T's 10th
anniversary celebrations on Wednesday that the government was virtually
broke, adding some of the ministers had no "offices and adequate furniture."

The addition of the five ministers of state and deputy ministers who
were not catered for in the Global Political Agreement (GPA) worsened
matters and the role to be played by the new ministers of State remains

Sources said Mugabe pleaded with Tsvangirai and Mutambara to have his
ministers accommodated as part of efforts to ensure "stability" in the
country. Mugabe pointed out the appointments were necessary in order for him
to manage the "dynamics in Zanu PF" in the face of a stiff resistance by
some members of the old guard to the formation of the inclusive government.

But the move has angered members of the two Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) and appalled the Mavambo formation.

Opposition MPs and senators, who feel their parties had gone back on
their campaign promises for a leaner government also expressed anger over
Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara's endorsement of the
bloated government.

They accused their principals of going back on their promises of a
leaner government, which they fear would cost them their seats in the next

"When we were campaigning we were saying we want a cabinet of 15
ministers and during the negotiations the number went up to 26 and
eventually 31 after the agreement," said an MDC-M MP.

"The number has now gone to 71 for the entire government yet we are
beggars, the million dollar question now is how do you convince donors to
rescue you when you have such a bloated government.
 "It is unjustifiable and the people of Zimbabwe deserve an
explanation.  Nonetheless I wish the new government success and good luck."

The MP accused the leaders of the three parties of putting their own
political interests ahead of those of long suffering Zimbabweans.

Job Sikhala, the former St Mary's MP and a senior member of the MDC-M
came out in the open saying party supporters were "confused and dismayed by
the circus."

"This was the most stupid thing to do," he said. "A collapsed economy
like Zimbabwe cannot afford the luxury of 71 ministers, even a country as
big as the United States with 51 states has one president, one vice
president and a cabinet of less than 21 ministers.

Disgruntled officials, from the Tsvangirai camp who preferred
anonymity also voiced their anger at the bloated government.

"This is a hard sell, what do we tell our supporters who have yearned
for a small responsible government. This looks like a gravy train when the
economy is in bad shape," they said.

Tsvangirai on Friday said Zimbabwe needs at least US$5 billion to
kick-start the recovery process.
The priority areas would be to tackle the raging cholera epidemic that
has killed 3 759 people and left 80 000 infected since August.

A staggering seven million people cannot feed themselves and schools
and hospitals remain closed because the government cannot pay teachers and

Mavambo, which is transforming into an opposition party said now there
was no difference between the two MDC formations and Zanu PF.

"At least, we are not surprised by Zanu PF wanting a big government,
because we have lived with it for many years," said the party in a statement
yesterday. "But it's hard to believe that the two MDCs who have, over the
years, used every platform available to promise the people of this country
that they stood for a lean and streamlined government can readily violate
their own principles.

The movement said the parties' principals were concerned about
"containing the in-fighting and ruptures amongst their followers, hence, the
need to embrace everyone who matters as a way of silencing them and stopping
the emergence of opposition within their own parties".

Ernest Mudzengi, a political analyst said Mutambara and Tsvangirai
risked being punished by the electorate for agreeing to be part of an
institution that would drain the already burdened taxpayers.

But the two MDC formations defended themselves saying the transitional
government was temporary.
"We have serious misgivings with the size of the cabinet particularly
at a time when the economy is in such a bad state," said Nelson Chamisa, the
MDC-T spokesperson.

"The MDC-T policy is to have no more than 15 ministers. We believe in
a lean, efficient and accountable administration. "

Chamisa who is the Minister of Information Communication Technology in
the inclusive government added:  "However, we have to appreciate that this
is not an MDC government: it is a transitional and inclusive government.
There are too many players involved. Our party can only have its say, not
its way."
Edwin Mushoriwa of the Mutambara led MDC said the bloated government
was the cost of getting Zimbabwe back to its feet.

"It's a compromise," he said. "If the MDC had formed this government
alone, it would have been learner, it would have been less than a quarter of
what we have but we had to compromise."


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Coltart Seeks US$18m for Teachers

Saturday, 21 February 2009 23:16

BULAWAYO - The government will this week ask donors to provide US$18
million in emergency funds to pay teachers amid indications schools might
finally re-open after one of the longest job boycotts in the country's

Teachers have been on strike since last year demanding payment in
foreign currency.

The United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef) painted a grim picture of
the state of affairs saying about 94% of Zimbabwe's rural schools, where
most children are educated, failed to open this year.

The new Minister of Education, Sport and Culture, David Coltart said
the new government had set the re-opening of schools and the revamping of
the education sector as one of its top priorities.

 Tomorrow, he will meet some donors in a bid to resolve the impasse in
the education sector.

"I have organised a donors' meeting on Monday where I will table an
emergency budget to bring back teachers to our schools," Coltart said.

"The US $18 million emergency budget is for the next four to six
months and it's primarily for salaries of teachers and markers.

"We will at the same meeting table a total budget of the amount of
funding that we require his year. We are still working on the figures."

Zimbabwean requires more than 200 000 teachers to function normally
but most of them have deserted the profession due to poor pay and
deteriorating working conditions.

Representatives from the European Commission and other United Nations
agencies among other major donors with offices in the country would attend
the meeting.

Last month, then acting Minister of Education, Sport and Culture,
Aneas Chigwedere and the Permanent Secretary, Stephen Mahere invited the
wrath of teachers after they boycotted a meeting organised by donors to
address the crisis.

Coltart, who assumed office last week said Unicef had already made a
"huge" donation of exercise books that would be distributed within the next
three weeks.

The Zimbabwe Teachers Union (Zimta) and the Progressive Teachers Union
of Zimbabwe (PTUZ), who appear to have softened their stance after meeting
Coltart last week said they would consult their membership before commenting
on the way forward.

Raymond Majongwe, PTUZ boss had vowed that teachers would not go back
towork until their demands had been addressed.

They said a decision to return work could be taken after tommorow's
meeting. But sources said most teachers were now keen to return to work
after government promised them salaries of US$100.

"At the moment, we can not give an official comment concerning our
position but our leaders in various provinces are currently holding
consultations with our members on the way forward," said Oswald Madziva, the
PTUZ secretary general.

Paul Gundani, the Zimta secretary general Richard Gundani said Coltart
had pleaded with them to give government time to mobilise resource to pay
decent salaries.

The unions also want the government to revise the school calendar,
which officially began on January 27.
 Coltart predicted that the sector once regarded as one of the best in
sub-Saharan Africa but has become a casualty of the country's economic
collapse would take at least two years to recover.

The Senator for Kumalo in Bulawayo and also MDC-M secretary for legal
affairs said one of the measures the government would take to revive the
sector would be to send untrained teachers back to school.

These include graduates from the notorious Border Gezi training
programme who were given preferential access to civil service jobs.

Some of them, critics argue do not even have basic academic
requirements like Ordinary and Advanced Level qualifications.

Zanu-PF defended the programme saying it is meant to instil
patriotism, discipline and appreciation of Zimbabwean culture.

Entrepreneurial skills were supposed to be part of the national
service programme.

However, military training, denouncement of the opposition and ruling
party slogan chanting took up most of their training time.

"We will be reviewing the policy with regard to teachers who came from
Border Gezi training centres," Coltart said.

"Those teachers are not properly trained.  Our goal is that we should
have only qualified teachers at schools.

However, Coltart ruled out radical reforms such as re-introducing the
Cambridge examinations to replace those administered by the Zimbabwe School
Examinations Council (Zimsec).

He said Cambridge examinations would be too expensive to run.

Teacher unions say 2008 was a wasted academic year with final
examinations for primary, secondary, college and university almost failing
to take off because of chaos bedevilling the sector.

In the 1980's to 1990's, the country had the highest literacy rate in
Africa estimated at over 80%.


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HIV Related Education Key in Treatment

Saturday, 21 February 2009 23:05
"Had I not received treatment literacy or education I think I would
have died a long time ago," says Aids activist and active member of the
Zimbabwe Network of Positive Women, Martha Tholanah.

"Treatment literacy or education is a very empowering process as it is
about knowing how Antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) work in the body, the
different types of ARVs, and the importance of adherence to treatment,
adequate and proper nutrition, regular check-ups by qualified health care
workers, and getting psychosocial support through counselling."

Tholanah has been living positively with HIV since 2003 and is one of
the lucky people in Zimbabwe who are on Antiretroviral Therapy (ART).

An estimated 1.7 million people are living with HIV in Zimbabwe.
Of this number, about 100 000 people are on ARVs in the public sector,
according to the United Nations

Joint Programme on HIV/AIDS, while at least 320 000 who are in urgent
need of ARVs cannot access them.

But speaking at a discussion forum organised by the Southern Africa
Aids Information Dissemination Service (SAfAIDS) last week Tholanah said
some of the few people with access to ARVs end up getting frustrated and
quitting the treatment.

She said this was because most of them developed side effects after
defaulting on treatment due to lack of knowledge.

Tholanah said having knowledge about ARVs and how they work and the
side effects should ensure people living with HIV do not panic when problems

She said after going through some challenges while on ARVs she became
hungry for information about treatment.

Tholanah said that is when she began to understand everything that
happened in her body and sought treatment for side effects each time they

Eventually she says her body adapted to the treatment, affording her
better health.
"Treatment literacy was empowering, it gave me confidence, and also
helped me in decision-making around all health issues," said Tholanah.

"After seeing how my life changed for the better due to access to
information, and seeing how many people were dying unnecessarily, I decided
to share my lived experience and the knowledge gained with other people
living with Aids (PLWAs).

It was a big confidence booster when I saw the difference my
disclosure and the treatment literacy made in the lives of other people who
had also given up on life.

"I have also learnt that when I feel down healthwise, it may not
always be due to HIV, as any other person with no HIV infection can get
aches and pains once in a while.

"Treatment literacy is important as one gets to look at health issues
holistically, and the demand for HIV services has led to awareness and
demand for improvement in the general health care delivery system."

PLWAs who are on ARVs need support from their family members and
friends as they cope with the side effects and challenges that come with
ARVs, she said.

Added Tholanah: "There are people who instilled in me the importance
of treatment literacy, and I want to acknowledge them."

Those who supported her include Lynde Francis (director The Centre),
Tapiwanashe Kujinga, Tendayi Kureya, and Keith Goddard who are Aids

"With this support I became encouraged and looked forward to a better

"I read a lot, I asked questions from activists, and health care

"When I went into a health care facility, I would have background
information, and engage the staff in discussions, so that whatever decision
that was made in terms of my health was a consensus decision between me as
the consumer and the healthcare provider.

"With ARVs and knowledge of how to use them correctly I look forward
to seeing my daughter who is Grade one graduating from university.

"I believe that is possible," she said.


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One Killed, Nine Seriously Injured in Kwekwe Blast

Saturday, 21 February 2009 23:00
KWEKWE - One person is feared dead, while nine others were battling
for their lives at Kwekwe and Harare hospitals Saturday following an
explosion at a Sable Chemicals plant.

Although officials at the fertiliser-manufacturing firm refused to
shed light on the incident saying they will issue a statement tomorrow,
sources said the accident happened on Friday.

Outsiders were being barred from entering the plant and details of
what transpired remained sketchy by the time of going to print.

Three people are admitted at Popomasi Clinic in Kwekwe and six were
ferried to Parirenyatwa Hospital in Harare.

Misheck Kachere, a senior company official said: "We are not hiding
anything, we are preparing a statement that we will give to all media houses
on Monday."

Police spokesman, Andrew Phiri said he was also trying to get details
of the accident.

The damage to the plant could also not be ascertained. Sable is the
only manufacturer of ammonium nitrate fertiliser in Zimbabwe.

It employs about 520 people and produces for both export and the
domestic market.


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Court Orders Urgent Medical Treatment for Jailed Activists

Saturday, 21 February 2009 23:00
A HARARE magistrate last week ordered prison authorities to ensure
that three MDC-T officials and a journalist incarcerated for their alleged
involvement in terrorist activities receive treatment immediately.

Gloria Takundwa made the ruling after the defence team led by Alec
Muchadehama had argued that prison officials were violating a High Court
order made on February 16. The order says the activists should be taken, two
at a time, to the Avenues Clinic for medical examination.

The four are Kisimusi Dhlamini, Regis Mujeyi, Garutsa Mapfumo and
Shadreck Manyere, a freelance journalist who are accused of committing acts
of terrorism, banditry and sabotage. According to the defence team, Kisimusi
Dhlamini and Regis Mujeyi should have been taken to the Avenues Clinic on
Monday as per the High Court order but prison officials defied the ruling.

 'We therefore appeal that all the accused be taken to the Avenues
Clinic immediately as the process has been unnecessarily delayed,"
Muchadehama said.

He also argued that Dhlamini needed urgent surgical attention on his
left ear.

Meanwhile, the defence team is also contesting a report by the police
on the alleged torture of the accused, which claimed that no violations of
rights or torture of the detainees were committed.

The accused had submitted affidavits, which showed that they were not
properly arrested as they were abducted.

They also claimed that they were robbed of their foreign currency and
mobile phones, and Manyere's vehicle has not been accounted for up to now.

The defence team said names of the violators were handed over to
police and the court but no attempts were made to refer to any of the
accused persons' affidavit "to get their own side of the story."

"As far as we are concerned, no investigations were carried out in
this case.

What we have here is an attempt by the police to defeat the course of
justice," argued the defence team.

But the state argued that the report was only taking into account
events after December 22 when the accused had been taken into police

The defence team is arguing that the investigations should cover the
period immediately after the disappearance of the detainees.

Initially, the prosecution had submitted an affidavit by Didymus
Mutasa trying to block investigations into the alleged torture.

Takundwa remanded the case to March where she said the state must come
up with a trial date after the prosecution proposed that they should be
tried during the second term of the High Court in May.


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40 Farms Seized in Fresh Land Invasions

Saturday, 21 February 2009 22:50
MORE than 40 farms owned by the country's few remaining white farmers
have been invaded since the beginning of the year, an official with a
farmers' organisation said Saturday.

Specifically targeted are farms belonging to those in whose favour a
Sadc tribunal ruled recently. The Winhoek based tribunal ruled that the
government of Zimbabwe was in breach of the law when it issued eviction
notices on the farmers.

However, the then Minister of State for National Security, Lands, Land
Reform and Resettlement in the President's Office, Didymus Mutasa dismissed
the ruling as "daydreaming" and vowed government would continue to acquire
land from remaining white commercial farmers.

Justice for Agriculture (JAG) chief executive John Worsley-Worswick
said Saturday the new invasions happened in Harare, Chipinge, Kutama and
Mvurwi among other areas.

Analysts say the new wave of farm invasions would be a major test for
the new government, which faces the major challenge of restoring the country's
battered agriculture sector.

"We have found temporary accommodation for the affected families here
in Harare," he said. "The farm workers too have been displaced and we are
seeking ways of bringing them to Harare as well."

Worswick said the farmers intended to challenge the invasions in
court, adding that they have since notified the Joint Monitoring
Implementation Committee (Jomic) about the acts after failing to get
protection from the police.

Jomic monitors the implementation of the Global Political Agreeement
(GPA) that resulted in the formation of the unity government between the
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) formations and Zanu PF.

An official with JOMIC confirmed that the organ received a letter on
the issue early this month. The GPA forbids fresh farm invasions.

The JAG chief executive also expressed concern over what he described
as a fast tracking of the prosecution of about 140 farmers to ensure their
urgent eviction.

"This is in contravention of the ruling of the SADC tribunal," he
said. "It also shows that some parties to the unity agreement negotiated in
bad faith and lack good will.

The former Zanu PF administration started seizing farms under its
controversial land reform programme in 2000.

The programme, which saw more than 3000 white commercial farmers being
forced out of their properties without compensation, has been widely blamed
for the country's collapsed economy.

While the bulk of initial invaders are war veterans, unconfirmed
reports say Zanu PF MPs senators and district administrators as well as
police and officials from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe were carrying out the
latest wave of invasions.


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Mugabe Birthday Bash In Trouble as Donors Shy Away

Saturday, 21 February 2009 22:45
PREPARATIONS for this year's 85th birthday bash for President Robert
Mugabe have reportedly hit a snag amid reports that the fundraising
committee is struggling to raise enough resources for the event.

This year's 21st February Movement celebrations have been slated for
February 28 in Chinhoyi.

However, less than a week before the celebrations are held, the
fundraising committee is still running around for donors who can bankroll
the event which has attracted thousands of people in the past years.

Reports say there is little enthusiasm from traditional party donors
who have been alarmed by the establishment of the inclusive government. Some
of these donors are politicians that have been left out of the new

Also, because of the changing political environment, parastatals which
had donated to the celebrations in the past have been hesitant to do so.

Many of these parastatals now fall under the control of MDC ministers.

To make up for their huge shortfall, the fundraising committee has
arranged a late dinner dance at Rainbow Towers in the capital on Wednesday

Zanu-PF Secretary for Youth Affairs, Absalom Sikhosana confirmed the
event would take place.
"Yes, the event will be held at the Rainbow towers on Wednesday night
and it is going to be a fundraising dinner," he said.

Sikhosana however said that they had been receiving donations from the
country's 10 provinces although he refused to disclose how much the
fundraising committee had managed to raise so far.

The donations are in the form of cash as well as cattle or foodstuffs,
he said.

On reports that the fundraising committee was failing to meet its
target, he said, "We are operating on a shoe string budget. The most
important thing is not about donations.

"Even without a single cent, the celebrations will go on," he said.

He, however, disclosed that they were still expecting some donations
from different parts of the country.

The 21st February movement celebrations have been criticised for
consuming huge sums of money while most Zimbabweans are trapped in poverty.

However, Sikhosana dismissed criticism of the event. "The problem is
that at times, we tend to politicise something that is totally apolitical.
We are just after our noble objectives that we have set for ourselves and
nothing else."

He would not disclose the noble objectives. Currently, about seven
million Zimbabweans are in urgent need of food aid and face a severe threat
of a cholera outbreak that has so far claimed more than 3 700 lives.


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RBZ Fails to Pay Staff

Saturday, 21 February 2009 22:45
MORALE is at its lowest at the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe where workers
once accustomed to huge perks are finding it  difficult to comprehend why
the "goose can no longer lay golden eggs" for them.

Since December, the bank headed by Governor Gideon Gono who is
fighting for his survival, has failed to pay its workers. It is now giving
discredited grocery vouchers to its employees.
The move has however failed to pacify the workers who were used to
living large when the central bank was still printing money.

The workers said their plight began after the central bank licensed
selected businesses to trade in foreign currency. Analysts say the move
quickened the demise of the local currency, which was being  printed willy
nilly by the central bank.

With everyone shunning the Zimbabwe dollar, the RBZ has found itself
in serious financial trouble.

RBZ insiders said the "Goods Purchase Vouchers" scheme had sapped
morale at the bank as workers complained that they needed hard cash to meet
other expenses.

"We haven't been paid since December and on Friday last week we were
given grocery vouchers," said an employee who asked to remain anonymous.

"What am I going to do with it?
"I have to pay my rentals and school fees for my children."

According to an internal memo "The goods purchase vouchers shall be
acceptable only at any of Innscor's participating outlets, stated on the
back of the vouchers.

"They cannot be redeemed at any other shop, except those outlets
printed on the back of the voucher."
The correspondence also stated that the employees can only encash
vouchers up to a maximum of US$40, at any of the CBZ bank branches

"What can I do with US$40, it can not even pay my rent, it won't last
me the whole month. I also need money for transport," said another worker.

The workers claimed that during happier times the central bank used to
print money to buy foreign currency at the black market for "essential
government services."

It would also print some money that was used to pay them huge salaries
and allowances, which they would use to buy foreign currency on the parallel

However, due to the ever-depreciating value of the Zimbabwe dollar,
all transactions are now being done in forex, virtually eliminating the
black market.

Gono's advisor, Munyaradzi Kereke, claimed all workers had received
their salaries in local currency.
He said the RBZ board had discussed the issue of remuneration under
the prevailing environment of multiple currencies but he could not elaborate
on the matter.
"The board met yesterday (Thursday) to try and work out what method
and framework to adopt under a new environment of multiple currencies," he


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Bennett Visitors Barred

Saturday, 21 February 2009 22:40
  MUTARE prison authorities are limiting visits to deputy Agriculture
minister-designate Roy Bennett (pictured) who spent his second week in
custody after he was arrested on terrorism charges.

The MDC-T, which is now part of the inclusive government with Zanu PF
and the Arthur Mutambara-led MDC, said warders at the eastern border city's
main prison said they were instructed to limit the visits.

Bennett is reportedly being held under inhumane conditions. MDC Mutare
Mayor Brian James who was allowed to visit Bennett on Thursday reported to
the party that the minister designate and the other inmates had spent the
whole day with a corpse in their cell.

In a statement the party said:  "The conditions in the prison are so
deplorable that one person in Roy Bennett's cell died yesterday and the body
is still to be removed. Prisoners are literally starving to death. James
will ask the Red Cross to intervene in the desperate situation."

Zimbabwe Prisons Service spokesperson Dranisia Musango was not
available for comment Saturday.

The party said the way Bennett was arrested and the move to limit the
visits was an attempt to punish the MDC-treasurer general whose
incarceration prevented him from being sworn into office last week.

The former coffee farmer who in 2000 won the Chimanimani parliamentary
seat on an MDC ticket is said to have rejected offers of an amnesty by
hardliners in the security forces believed to be behind his detention.

"Bennett has consistently rejected to be horse-traded in any
underlying political deal or negotiation," the MDC-T said.

"His commitment to a just political settlement remains unchanged, and
it is inconceivable that it will change
"He emphasised that there can never be a shortcut to national healing
(and that) the healing process has to be fair, just, democratic and inspired
by the need to create a sustainable foundation for a democratic Zimbabwe."

Bennett, who skipped the country in 2006 to avoid arrest on
allegations of plotting to assassinate President Robert Mugabe, was seized
at Charles Prince Airport, Harare, as he prepared to fly out of the country.

He had been living in exile in South Africa and had returned to the
country for the inauguration of the inclusive government.

He intended to fly back to South Africa after he was informed that
deputy ministers were to be sworn-in at a later date when detectives from
the CID Law and Order section pounced on him.

He is being charged with illegally possessing firearms to commit acts
of insurgency, banditry and terrorism.
 In a bail application lodged with the High Court on Friday, Bennett
cites his commitment to serving the country as one of the reasons why he
will not skip bail.


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MDC-T Prepares to Mark 10th Anniversary

Saturday, 21 February 2009 22:40
THE Movement for Democratic Change MDC-T will today kick off
celebrations to mark its 10th anniversary at Gweru's Mkoba Stadium where its
leaders are expected to brief supporters on the inclusive government.

MDC-T spokesperson, Nelson Chamisa said the party will hold provincial
galas ahead of the major celebration on September 11 at a yet to be
confirmed venue.

"Our model is that we are going to be holding provincial celebrations
before the main event on September 11," he said.

Chamisa said the Gweru event would be followed up by celebrations in
Masvingo, Manicaland, Mashonaland, Matabeleland North and South, Harare,
Chitungwiza and Bulawayo.

"The anniversary is meant to celebrate a decade of commitment, courage
and leadership," he said.

"We are celebrating because as a party, we have excelled in all
dimensions and managed to promote peace and democracy."

He said today's event would afford them the opportunity to reflect on
its "challenges and struggles."
Among the challenges, he said was the continued arrest of MDC
activists and failure to release political detainees. He said  the arrest of
Roy Bennett was also likely to take centre stage on Sunday.


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Corruption at RG's Office

Saturday, 21 February 2009 22:34
BULAWAYO - Officials at the Registrar General's Office are reportedly
turning away people seeking identity documents claiming there is no

Reports say the officials, working with touts, can however issue the
documents for people willing to pay them 500 rand.

Sources said the touts get 200 rand for their efforts and the
officials share the rest of the money among themselves.

This scenario has forced many people to travel all the way to Harare
to get IDs after officials at the RG's office turned them away.

The touts, it is said, mill around the offices as early as 4 AM where
they prey on desperate people.

"I wanted to get identity documents for my two sons and for my late
brother's son," said a man who recently failed to secure IDs for his sons
until he was forced to go to Harare for the documents.

"I discussed my predicament with three officials from the Registrar
General's office in Bulawayo and I was told that I needed to talk nicely to
the touts who would sort the documents for me in liaison with the officials
inside the offices.

"I was warned however, that if I do not part with money I would not
get any of the documents I wanted."

Frustrated, the man went to Harare where he was assisted at Hatfield
District offices, "without parting with a single cent."

"What makes me wonder is why can't the same service be rendered in
Bulawayo with people not being forced to part with extra money," he said.

"What is so peculiar about Bulawayo that people have to part with cash
to have their documents processed?

Jane Peters, the Provincial Registrar said it was not true that the
department had stopped issuing out identity documents.

 "We have not stopped issuing out identity documents," Peters said.
"It is a lie that we have stopped.
"We were advised to wait for new processing fees for some other
documents but as for identity particulars and birth certificates, the
issuance is continuing."

But Peters refused to comment on allegations that officials were
demanding bribes.

Former Acting Minister of Finance, Patrick Chinamasa recently proposed
a budget that would see government departments charging for services in
foreign currency.


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Parent Sues School over 'unjustified' Fees

Saturday, 21 February 2009 22:25
A PARENT with a child attending Harare's Tynwald Primary School has
launched a legal challenge seeking the review of tuition fees in foreign
currency demanded by the school in what could be a test case for Zimbabwe's
troubled education system.

Schools, desperate to lure back teachers who have been on strike since
last year, are now demanding payment in foreign currency and in many cases
the fees are pegged beyond the reach of many parents.

In an application filed at the High Court last week, Vukani Mlambo
argues US$800 per pupil demanded by the school in the medium-density suburb
of Tynwald was unjustified.

He is also challenging a US$50 top-up fee the institution charged for
last year's third term.

Mlambo alleges that the school was withholding his daughter's school
report, insisting that he can only see it after paying the top-up fee.

"During November 2008, I was advised verbally by my daughter that the
school wanted me to pay an additional US$50 to the fees she had already
paid," Mlambo wrote in the founding affidavit.

"I was unable to pay such fees because it was an unlawful demand as
the fees had not been sanctioned by a parents' meeting and also the school
did not have the requisite exchange control regulatory approval to entitle
it to accept payment of fees in United States dollars."

Mlambo also wrote that on January 29 this year, the school, through
its bursar, advised him of this term's US$800 tuition fee.

"I demanded to see the minutes of the parents' meeting or school
development committee at which these fees were agreed but the bursar advised
that she was unaware of any such meeting," he wrote.

He also alleges that his child was being forced to spend the day
sitting outside her classroom where the headmaster, Savious Mujere,
sometimes would come and verbally abuse her for failing to pay the fees.

"The school has no school development committee in violation of the
Education Act. The committee that was selected about six years ago was fired
by the responsible authority of the school," Mlambo wrote.

"In the absence of a school development committee and the parents'
assembly as envisaged in the Education Act, there is no flow of information
between the school and the parents."

Mlambo also argues that there is no justification for a US$800 tuition
fee for a day school like Tynwald Primary saying it was "exorbitant."

 Mujere said he could not comment on the issue as the school had not
yet received the court papers.
 "I cannot give my opinion on it as of now because I have not seen it
yet.besides, we also have our legal advisors as a school and will have to be
guided by them in this case," he said.

In the 2009 budget proposals, then acting Finance minister Patrick
Chinamasa authorised all schools, save for primary schools in rural areas
and high-density suburbs, to collect tuition, levies and examination fees in
both local and foreign currencies.

This saw many schools, including those in the restricted brackets,
charging exorbitant fees quoted in foreign currency, a development that has
strained already burdened parents.


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Defence lawyers Blast State over Delays in Shiri Shooting Case

Saturday, 21 February 2009 22:17
LAWYERS representing Frank Muchirahondo, the United States Agency for
International Development (USAID) driver accused of shooting Air Force
Commander Perence Shiri last week hit out at the State for dragging its feet
in prosecuting the case.

Muchirahondo, arrested on January 22 at Forbes Border Post in Mutare
enroute to Mozambique, is facing attempted murder charges.

He was denied bail by the High Court and last week sought to make an
application for refusal of further remand pending trial.

But his lawyer Chris Mhike of Atherstone and Cook said his client's
application could not be heard and the matter was postponed to February 24
as the resident magistrate for Bindura was not in attendance.
 "We are very disappointed with the manner in which the State is
handling this case," Mhike said.

"It is as if they are not aware that our client's liberty is at
 "He has already spent more than two weeks in custody and it seems as
if he is being punished for the inefficiencies of our justice delivery

The defence has raised a number of complaints against the police,
including allegations that their client was assaulted when he was arrested.

Mhike said Muchirahondo last Thursday complained of health
complications, including severe headaches, loss of appetite and rash and
requested to be allowed to see a doctor.

It is the State's case that Muchirahondo was responsible for the
shooting and injury of Shiri on the night of December 10 last year.

Back then, state media reported that gunmen ambushed and shot the AFZ
chief in the right palm when he was on his way to his farm in Shamva.

The US embassy has since issued a statement condemning Muchirahondo's
arrest and dismissing all allegations against its employee saying he was
among other employees doing humanitarian work for the organisation at the
time of the shooting.

The USAID driver is among more than 50 people who were recently
rounded up by police in suspected politically motivated arrests.

Others include former broadcaster and Zimbabwe Peace Project director
Jestina Mukoko and her colleagues Pascal Gonzo and Broderick Takawira.

Calls by human rights activists and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai
for the immediate release of the political prisoners since the inauguration
of the unity government a fortnight ago appear to have fallen on deaf ears.


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US$23m Loss at Zimplats

Saturday, 21 February 2009 21:39
THE fall in world metal prices resulted in Zimbabwe's platinum
producer, Zimplats recording a US$23 million after tax loss for the half
year ended December 2008 notwithstanding an increase in production, the
company said on Friday.

The loss is against a US$33 million profit recorded in the previous

Prices on the world markets collapsed by more than half last year due
the global financial crisis. Platinum prices peaked at US$ 2 200 per ounce
before dropping to US$800 in October last year.

Alex Mhembere, the Zimplats chief executive officer told a media
briefing the US$23 million loss was inevitable due to the collapse of world
metal prices.

Mhembere was optimistic the recession would come to an end adding the
white metal producer "believes there will be a slow recovery of metal prices
that will see our fortunes improve".

Platinum and palladium are mostly used in the automotive industry and
with the sector on its knees due to the recession in the world's most
powerful economies, the uptake of the products had been slow.

Platinum is used as an auto catalyst, which takes up to 60% of the
platinum produced.

At least 20% of the platinum produced in the world is used by the
jewellery sector mostly in China and Japan.

Mhembere said platinum application is classified in the luxury field
and the stabilisation of the financial services sector would see proceeds
filter through the luxury sectors.

He said in the short to medium term, Zimplats financial performance
will be dependent to a large degree on recovery in the Platinum Group Metal
(PGM) markets.

"Without a meaningful recovery in the automotive industry, PGM price
recovery will be limited," Mhembere said.

Besides losing the revenue due to a slump in metal prices, Zimplats
will have to fork out more in its funding requirements.

Initially the white metal producer had planned US$80 million for its
requirements but will see its needs rise to US$140 million.

An additional US$30 million had been secured of which US$25 million
has been drawn. Zimplats will seek an additional US$30 million.

Mhembere said satisfactory progress has been made on the Ngezi 1
expansion project.

"Portal One underground mine development completed... Portal 4
development on schedule.

 Target completion June 2010," the Zimplats boss said.

But the Zimplats boss said the Ngezi Phase 1 project will improve the
company's cost structure enabling it "to operate profitably even at current
price levels".


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Smart Card for the Unbanked

Saturday, 21 February 2009 21:33
SPINALONG Money and Payment System, a subsidiary of Spinalong Music
Company, has teamed up with a South African company to provide an innovative
smart card targeting the unbanked market.

The initiative that will see participating banks entering into
strategic alliances with Spinalong is set to revolutionarise the industry by
taking it to the previously untapped rural and remote areas.

Spinalong has reportedly signed a joint venture with South African
based technology company, Net 1 that will facilitate the rolling out of the
debit cards.

Officials from Net 1 were in the country a fortnight ago where they
held exploratory meetings with officials from the banking sector.

Follow-up meetings were held between Spinalong and executives in the
banking sector on Wednesday, close sources revealed on Friday.

The smart card, which will be rolled out, acts as the bank account and
can transact even when the account is off-line.

Financial institutions will buy the Point of sale terminals from
Spinalong and the chip cards to be sold to clients.

The card solves the problems of cash constraints and act as a wallet
with 255 compartments.

Charles Nyachowe, Spinalong executive chairman told Standardbusiness
the new technology supports the banking sector's will tap into the "unbanked

He said the banking sector has shown interest in the product and will
devote the whole of next month to sell the idea to its clients.

Net 1 has a market capitalisation of US$861 million and integrated
switching, settlement, clearing Smart Card Payment System is rapidly
attracting central banks and governments worldwide.


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High Hopes for Zim Stocks as Bourse Reopens in US Dollars

Saturday, 21 February 2009 21:22
ZIMBABWE share prices, battered by the world's highest inflation rate
and a decade-long recession, may rebound after the stock exchange reopened
on Thursday from a three-month suspension with listings re-denominated in US

While prices are bound for an initial fall as investors who were
prevented from selling seek an exit, shares will probably more than double
by year-end, according to the Harare-based unit of Renaissance Capital, the
investment bank with brokerages in ex-Soviet and African countries.

Companies are priced at a third of their breakup value on average
after an 86% drop in the two months before the November 21 shutdown, said
BoE Private Clients, South Africa's second-biggest private-client asset

"There is an opportunity purely based on the discount to valuation of
corporate assets," said Thamas Chataika, a Zimbabwe-born fund manager who
helps manage more than $6 billion at BoE in Johannesburg.

Zimbabwe's central bank suspended shares as inflation estimated at
89,7 settillion percent by the Cato Institute, a plunge in the Zimbabwe
dollar to 12.6 trillion per US dollar and international sanctions against
President Robert Mugabe's regime caused the economy to collapse.

Reopening the exchange was one of the first steps by the coalition
government formed last week as part of a power-sharing agreement between
Mugabe, 84, and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

Only US$30 of shares traded in the hour the exchange opened yesterday.
Apex Corporation, an engineering and steel manufacturing company, was the
only stock that traded, with 3,026 shares bought and sold at 1 cent each,
according to price lists e-mailed by Kingdom Stockbrokers Ltd. in Harare.

"It wasn't really communicated that the exchange was going to reopen
and I don't think the general public were aware," said Chataika.

"It will take about a week for the market to trade properly as the
stocks still need to be re-valued in dollars."

Today's trading began at 10 am and lasted for 1 1/2 hours, Kudzai
Gambinga, a trader at Kingdom, said in a telephone interview. The exchange
will move to two trading sessions once there is enough demand, he said.

Chataika, who has about US$3 million in Zimbabwe stocks, said he plans
to buy Econet Wireless Holdings Ltd, the country's biggest mobile-phone
operator, Delta Corp., Zimbabwe's largest beer and beverages maker, and
Kingdom Meikles Africa Ltd the Harare-based owner of TM supermarkets, one of
the the biggest retail chains in the country.

"Everyone there is despondent, and drinking," said Chataika, 31, who
lived in Zimbabwe until 2005. "Even if it takes time for the economy to show
real growth, people still communicate, eat and drink."

Econet and Delta, both based in Harare, are also top picks for Dzika
Danha, a strategist at Renaissance Capital.

"When it comes to phones, penetration is very low at about 13%, and so
there is a lot of room for growth," Danha said in a telephone interview from
Harare yesterday.

Zimbabwe is in the grip of an economic crisis that has left more than
half of the nation's 11 million people in need of emergency food rations,
according to the United Nations World Food Program. A quarter of the
population has fled the country.- Bloomberg

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Alex Magaisa: Citizens and the Accountability of the New Govt of Zimbabwe

Saturday, 21 February 2009 20:21
LAST week's memo to the prime minister attracted a fair amount of

This week, however, my monologue is directed at fellow citizens.
Accountability: that is the key word.

There is not going to be a time when the bell shall ring to command
citizens to hold their leaders accountable. The positive spirit and best
wishes for the new administration must be commended but there is one risk
that must be minimised at all costs.

It is the risk of permitting the abundant goodwill to cloud our
judgment and in the process drop our guard. Zimbabweans cannot afford to
repeat old mistakes, many of which led Zimbabwe to the hell-house it has
become in recent years.

Far from creating negative energy that could derail the new
administration, those who cast a critical eye ought to be tolerated;
embraced even as willing participants in the nascent democracy.

Zimbabweans don't have to look far back into our history in order to
appreciate the significance of generating accountability of government.

Whilst everyone today talks about the Matabeleland atrocities of the
1980s, there was almost a conspiracy of silence at the time that fellow
citizens suffered intolerably.

The local media was either silent or supportive. Citizens in other
parts of the country got on with their business.

Those who raised alarm, such as the Catholic Commission for Justice
and Peace (CCJP) were ignored or dismissed outright.

The cries of the suffering multitudes were drowned in the euphoria of
independence. Indeed, in some cases supporters of opposition parties such as
Muzorewa's UANC had their properties trashed and burnt by fellow citizens.

Some may say these are things of the past but the plight of Jestina
Mukoko, Roy Bennett and the scores of political detainees is a clear and
present signal of our times.

There are worrying similarities with the way the likes of Dumiso
Dabengwa and the late Lookout Masuku were treated in the 1980s.

They stayed in jail for years after independence on charges that
lacked foundation but few outside their circle raised questions.

The trouble is that there is an inherent risk in the new
administration, which if left unchecked could dilute the culture of

It is that Parliament, as presently constituted, could well be no more
than a rubber stamp of Executive decision-making.

It is that Parliament now has no official opposition which would
normally make the institution more effective as a counter-balancing force
that keeps watch over the ruling party, shadowing the ministers and closely
following their every move and each word.

Already, Parliament has passed two key bills without any critical
debate (i.e. Constitutional Amendment No. 19 and the Zimbabwe National
Security Act).

Admittedly, the circumstances were understandably exceptional, there
being the urgent need to set up the new administration.

But one hopes it did not set the tone for the future workings of
parliament. Coalition governments do exist elsewhere in the world but they
do not necessarily descend into de-facto one party states.

Our new scenario contains a deficiency that potentially creates
incentives for excesses. Whilst the united front is a political necessity
during these sensitive times it is critical to note that it also creates too
much power in the hands of the few politicians now in government.

If the respective parties in government were to routinely whip their
legislators into line, stifling critical debate, then clearly Parliament
will be severely hamstrung as an institution of promoting accountability.

So, plainly, given Parliament's handicap, questions will have to be
asked from somewhere. A critical eye must exist to watch over the new
administration and the way it does things.

For example, there is something terminally wrong with a system that
privileges the purchase and allocation of luxury vehicles to government and
parliament when a father in Budiriro has to ferry his cholera-stricken
daughter to the deprived polyclinic in a wheelbarrow.

The payment of salaries to civil servants in foreign currency, however
small, is a step toward the right side of the social compass that must be

Yet the principle of transparency that Zimbabweans have been yearning
for also demands that leaders show not only the source but also the size of

It is about creating the right system - a system that is not hampered
by vagueness; one that does not create the image of the benevolent leader
who hands out goodies to the needy. We have been there before and it does
not work.

How therefore, can citizens ask questions when Parliament is held back
by this Achilles Heel? How can they play a role in engendering

One key principle to note is that citizens must be willing and able to
participate in the process of government.

As Mary Robinson, the former President of the Republic of Ireland and
also former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said years
ago, "Democracy isn't a spectator sport. It's government of the people and
by the people - in other words, a political process that works only to the
extent that we participate".

In other words, citizens cannot be mere spectators - they have to be
active participants.

This can be achieved in at least three ways:

. The first is through the civil society movement which has been
active in the last decade. Civil society now has an even crucial role of
maintaining an eagle eye over the new administration and pointing to its
excesses. Civil society should engage with Parliament to push through legal
reforms and especially fight for a key role in the formulation of the
proposed new Constitution. Citizens cannot allow the so-called Kariba
constitutional draft to be simply endorsed by Parliament. Therefore,
contrary to the thinking that its role would cease once things 'normalised',
civil society has an even more important role especially if the new
environment removes the many unnecessary constraints.

. The second is through the media, what Edmund Burke is reported to
have called the 'Fourth Estate' - 'the most important of them all'. At
present the Zimbabwean media is hamstrung by restrictive media laws such as
the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) and the
broadcasting laws. Here, space needs to be freed up to allow more and
diverse players. This space can be used by citizens to reach out to their
leaders; to question and engage with them on critical questions of the day.
When politicians are subjected to such open debates with citizens it also
provides incentives for them to perform and behave better.

. The third is through opposition parties, even though they are
outside Parliament. There is no point pretending that everyone subscribes to
the parties presently in government. Yet these parties are many, small and
severely divided. These organisations can organise more effectively if they
are to more effectively have a role in checking the new administration.

Finally, whilst the desire for unity is understandable, it cannot
seriously be said that for it to succeed the new administration necessarily
needs an atmosphere of monastic silence among citizens. Citizens cannot
afford to subscribe to a Mafia-type Ormeta - an oath of silence. No one
seriously challenges the assertion that the new administration must be given
a chance.

Yet, giving it a chance does not necessarily mean becoming a flock of
sheep that always follows the command of its shepherd.

We have suffered enough to know that political power, by its very
nature, corrupts otherwise decent individuals.

Those politicians who abuse power are not necessarily born evil.
Often, they have started with very good intentions. Yet during the process
of acquiring, consolidating and using power, the holder has often got away
with excesses simply because citizens have failed or neglected to maintain a
critical eye on him.

Alex Magaisa is based at, Kent Law School, the University of Kent and
can be contacted at  or

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Sunday Opinion: Which Faith Moved the Mountains

Saturday, 21 February 2009 20:13
ONE of the most violent encounters between the government and the
public occurred in Highfield, during which a young National Constitutional
Assembly (NCA) activist was killed.

A student-journalist attached to The Standard watched the gruesome
incident from a vantage point. He reported seeing the police officer take
careful aim and fire at the activist. His description of the incident
contained the word "cold blooded".

It unnerved him to the extent that, after completion of his
attachment, he went into public relations.

That clash, by the way, featured the beating up of Morgan Tsvangirai,
for which he was hospitalized. A photograph of him in hospital, taken by
Edward Chikomba, a former ZTV producer-cameraman, was flashed across the

Chikomba's body was later found dumped at Darwendale Dam.

The Highfield protest was sponsored by a Christian movement
sympathetic to the agitation against the abuse of human rights by the
government of Robert Mugabe.

It was not the same Christian movement which produced a document
described ambitiously as The Zimbabwe We Want.

It's too early to say if the inclusive government will create the
Zimbabwe we want.

During the struggle, leaders encouraged the use of spirit mediums.

There were homages paid to Chaminuka, Mbuya Nehanda and Sekuru Kaguvi.
Perhaps this was not a direct, naked resort to witchcraft or mumbo-jumbo,
but it was most certainly an open display of faith in the Occult.

During the talks on the formation of the inclusive government, no
negotiators recruited spirit mediums - at least, not openly - to aid their
chances of extracting maximum benefits.

We know the Christian groups allied to organisations calling for
change prayed for a deal that would most certainly end Zanu PF's "unholy"

The results may not have pleased everybody.

Certainly, men like David Parirenyatwa, the former Minister of Health
and Child Welfare, would not disguise their unhappiness at the turn of

Although he told The Herald he was leaving his post "a happy man",
many hard-nosed commentators could only conclude that, in this case,
happiness was in the eye of the beholder.

There is no way anybody could share Parirenyatwa's happiness with his
performance. In fact, all the men and women serving under Mugabe should hang
their heads in shame - they were a complete disaster for this country.

Their disgraceful performances should henceforth never be used as a
benchmark for ministerial performance, unless our intention as a nation is
to return to the Stone Age.

Faith in "something" helped Zimbabwe achieve the sound, albeit
slightly limp, unity which culminated in the formation of a cabinet last

But in the future, we need to forge a definite faith in our own
ability to determine who should rule us and how. Incidentally, this question
of faith cropped up in my mind upon reading of an incident at the burial of
a Mugabe relative in Zvimba a few weeks ago.

Mugabe rebuked his relatives for alleged belief in or resort to
witchcraft. At the same time, he accused some of them of joining the MDC, as
if this was as insidious as the practice of witchcraft.

The report spoke of one relative standing up at the burial to respond
to the president's scurrilous accusations.

He was silenced by someone who pointed out the burial was not an
occasion for such public airing of clan differences.

Personally, I was struck by Mugabe's attacks on relatives inclined to
join the MDC and those with faith in traditional medicine and spirit

Statistics tell us that although most Zimbabweans have always embraced
the Christian faith, many of them maintain this schizophrenic faith in
traditional medicine.

They will go straight from the church to the house of a traditional
healer, without feeling an alien sensation of going from God to The Devil.

As for Mugabe's relatives joining the MDC. That is so outrageous an
attack on their freedom of choice, there ought to be a law against a head of
state making such a statement, even at the burial in his village area.

Mugabe has been executive President since 1987 and may be excused for
starting to believe that he is as omnipotent as The Almighty.

But what we have learnt, and surely to our grief, must be that no
person could have so much power vested in him and not feel like a tin god or
a tinpot dictator or something worse.

Our faith should be in our ability to determine how much we can allow
one person to do as he pleases with our country. e-mail address is being protected from
spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


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Comment: At 85, Mugabe Should Retire

Saturday, 21 February 2009 20:12
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe turned 85 yesterday.

Thanks to his disastrous policies, life expectancy in Zimbabwe has
been reduced to around 34 - the lowest in the world - and reaching 85 is
certainly an achievement.

By any standard, the President should be proud that at such an
advanced age, he remains in good shape, fit and agile as ever.

Speaking on radio on Friday evening Mugabe attributed this to a tight
exercise regime he has maintained at home.

He said he still jogs each morning and always makes it a point that he
maintains his weight at between 75 and 80kg.

"This ensures my body is full of muscles not fat", he quipped.

What the excited Mugabe failed to tell the nation though was when he
intends to exit the political stage.

At 85, the octogenarian's plans for retirement should be clear and
should never be a political conundrum.
It's inconceivable that Mugabe plans to keep Zimbabweans guessing
about when he is going to pack his bags and leave State House.

Over the years this has been clearly his game plan in Zanu PF where he
has thrived on keeping contenders for the post at each other's throat.

Any suggestions by Mugabe about retirement have in the past
understandably triggered fierce succession battles in Zanu PF pitting the
Mnangagwa and Mujuru camps against each other.

The two camps failed to read that Mugabe never had any intention of
leaving office but was able to prolong his rule through divide and rule

Mugabe succeeded in checking the late Eddison Zvobgo's ambitions when
he set Vice-President Simon Muzenda on him, triggering hard fought factional
wars that spanned over a decade.

While Mugabe succeeded in the past to divide and rule, what is clear
now is that he can no longer bank on the divisions in Zanu PF to extend his

Times have changed and the political landscape is not what it used to
be. The opposition can no longer be manipulated because it is in government.

With the establishment of the inclusive government, which has left his
former bitter rival Morgan Tsvangirai ensconced in the Prime Minister's
office, Mugabe has to read the writing on the wall.

After presiding over the collapsing economy, and condemned for gross
human violations, Mugabe has become irrelevant and a stumbling block to
efforts to revive the economy.

He remains the single greatest threat to the survival of the unity

Mugabe's continued presence in power is enough to deter donors and
investors who want to come to Zimbabwe.

For 29 years Mugabe has played his part at Munhumutapa building and
the time has come for him to pass the baton to somebody with fresh ideas.

That obviously excludes the forest of dead wood around him.

Mugabe can count himself lucky that the stage for a gracious exit from
power has been set for him.

With his presidency recognised by Sadc, the AU and his former bitter
rivals now in government having embraced him, Mugabe has a perfect
opportunity to leave office in a dignified manner.

It would be sweet music to Zimbabwean ears if Mugabe were to announce
at the 21st February movement celebrations next week that he would head to
Kutama for a much-deserved rest.

He could take the opportunity to apologise for all his misdeeds and
leave to the new team the Herculean task of fixing an economy sabotaged by
29 years of misrule. For many, that would ensure Mugabe secures his legacy.

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Zim Standard Letters

Ditched Bhebhe Should Spare us the Hypocrisy
Saturday, 21 February 2009 19:52
RECENT utterances by the MP for Nkayi South, Hon Abednico Bhebhe
published in The Standard newspaper of 15-20 February 2009, condemning the
MDC Mutambara leadership for allegedly blocking him from assuming the
position of Minister of Water Resources and Development to which he had been
nominated by the MDC-T President, Morgan Tsvangirai, smacks of hypocrisy of
the highest order.

Bhebhe claims that he was being rewarded by Tsvangirai for his
contribution towards the formation of the MDC in 1999.

He however, does not state what exactly it is that he contributed that
he, of all the people that were involved in the formation of the party, has
to be rewarded with a Ministerial appointment.

It should be noted that Tsvangirai's initial list of Ministers from
Matabeleland only had Bhebhe as the Minister representing the whole of
Matabeleland and was only changed to accommodate more ministers when party
members from that region protested.

While it is appreciated that the prerogative of appointing ministers
rests entirely with the President of each party, the rationale of appointing
someone from another political party by Tsvangirai, leaving out in the cold,
those who had stood with him throughout the period of the struggle, boggles
the mind.

One also wonders why Bhebhe, who does not hold any special skills in
any field, was being favoured ahead of everyone else.

 But surely the dual alliance of Tsvangirai and Bhebhe should not take
people of Zimbabwe for granted.  It is inconceivable on their part, to
believe that their explanation of why they tried to reward each other so
handsomely would be accepted on face value. Invariably, people were
conscious of the fact that it was pay-back time.

The two gentlemen were simply rewarding each other for transactions
done under darkness and behind closed doors.

In the past four years, Bhebhe has been involved in several
controversial issues to which he had no satisfactory explanation.

Incidentally, all the issues involved secret and private interactions
with the MDC-T group. For instance, Bhebhe was accused by party cadres in
Nkayi constituency for undermining the party by encouraging party members in
his constituency to join MDC-T group.

When the allegation was put to him, he vehemently denied it. During
the run up to the 2008 elections, he was again accused by members in his
constituency of having misled them into attending an MDC-T rally that was
addressed by Morgan Tsvangirai.

Again Bhebhe's explanation was far from satisfactory. He claimed that
he went to the rally to check on who among the party supporters in the
constituency had attended the MDC-T rally without authority from the party.

Then came the Botswana trip in which he was accused of having
mobilised nine MDC- MPs under the guise of taking them for a retreat in
Botswana. While in that country, the MPs were addressed by Lovemore Moyo of
the MDC-T group, who was canvassing for votes in the impending position of
Zimbabwe Speaker of Parliament.

When Bhebhe was confronted with the evidence, he denied and claimed
that they had gone to Botswana on a retreat and that they had met Moyo by

Even when it was put to him that the evidence had come from some of
the MPs that he had mobilised and had accompanied him on the trip, he still
denied any wrong doing.

The election of the speaker of Parliament from the MDC-T only
confirmed Bhebhe's continued underhand dealings with the other formation.

So, to this extent, no one is fooled by Bhebhe's shameless antics. He
is conscious of the fact that his plan A has collapsed and is now trying to
put plan B into motion. Plan B involves getting back to his constituency and
appear to be a victim of the MDC leadership's irrationality.

This, he thinks might earn him the sympathy of the people in the
constituency thereby allow him to prepare some ground work for a by-election
in the likely event that the party decides to take disciplinary action
against him.

Personally, I have no sympathy for people such as Bhebhe who appear
unable to balance ambitions with intellect.

The man is too ambitious for both his political stature and stamina.
He has engulfed himself in a political flame by trying to be a political
macho man.

For now, his best option is to sober out first and stop fighting those
he perceives to be blocking him from climbing up the political ladder. He
should learn to be honest and trustworthy otherwise he is politically

Andile Nyoni

Biti Must Order RBZ Audit
Saturday, 21 February 2009 19:41
I would like to suggest to the new Minister of Finance to carry out a
comprehensive audit of Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe operations. I am sure the
findings will be very interesting and informative.


To Sup with the Devil, One Needs a Long Spoon
Saturday, 21 February 2009 19:41
HISTORY is littered with comrades who sacrificed themselves to the
struggle for total emancipation of humankind.

From Mbuya Nehanda to Malcolm X, from Herbert Chitepo to Che Guevara
and many more whose names may never be known but whose legacy we bear
witness today.

Unfortunately, history is also littered with many individuals who
sought to dehumanize humanity through oppression, slavery and barbarism.

These have come in different shapes and sizes, yet the lesson we draw
from this history is that; however dynamic the oppressor may be, evil will
never triumph over good!

So, today as we witness the agreement between Mugabe and Tsvangirai we
remain cognizant of the fact that the oppressor can never sympathize with
his subjects.

We are also mindful of the fact that many who at one point championed
this struggle turned to be even worse tyrants.

Faced with these realities, should we place our faith in human beings?
Some may say no, we should place our faith on the constitution.

But laws are made by humans and we still find it hard to trust one
like us.

How can we trust the constitution when we have witnessed one of ours
piercing and shredding this consecrated document and getting away with it?

 How can we have faith in a constitution?

We struggle everyday to make this world a better place to live in, but
the more we fight the more we realise that man just has an unquenchable
affinity for evil.

This has been there since time immemorial. Jews chose Barabbas - a
murderer - over Jesus Christ.

Today, we stand aside and cheer as the good men of our society are
tortured, abused and killed in broad daylight. We also cheer when the
corrupt defile the innocent.

Who killed Josiah Tongogara? Who killed Batanai Hadzizi? Who killed
Learnmore Jongwe, Talent Mabika, Chiminya, Gift Tandare? What will happen to
the murderers?

Yes, shaking hands is not a crime and we know that a hand that drips
of blood can never be cleaned by shaking with a clean one, but vigilance
still remains the only asset that revolutionaries have, for; the devil will
seek day and night to convince us that it is not blood but strawberry juice.
Lest you lick it, beware!
Some say power corrupts.

With all the testimonies scattered in contemporary history, Idi Amin,
Mobutu, Kamuzu Banda, Robert Mugabe are we not compelled to believe so?

How many lifted the fist in jubilation after the hard won independence
only to be hammered by the thud of the same fist? How safe am I?

Today we usher in a new dispensation; we celebrate hoping for a better
future. We celebrated in 1980 but how many of us got what we fought for?

Maybe we need to celebrate with caution because; the poor are known to
get poorer while the rich get richer. Can one of our own change that?

Tim fought for equality, will he be equal? Job fought for jobs, will
he be employed? Susan for peace will she get it? Will the people of
Matebeleland get water, food, roads and electricity that the people of
Zvimba are enjoying today?

What of the child whose priceless year was taken away from her by
idleness. Will she be compensated?

Will that son of a peasant at University of Zimbabwe finally have the
decency of not sleeping under a bridge before attending lectures? Will he?
My hopeless sister who has been lying on the mat of death, will she finally
get medical care? Will she?

They fought for these long before us; we have been fighting, and will
continue to fight for these but the hand of the slave-master is also getting
stronger. We cannot keep watching from the terraces, rather we have to be
there in the thick of action.

When they pull away from us, we pull them back. When they pull towards
us, we complement them. Still, we need constant mistrust, constant mobility
and constant vigilance.

One soldier may falter but from him many more will be born and the
struggle for a peaceful, just and free Zimbabwe continues.

Freeman Chari

Standard SMS
Saturday, 21 February 2009 19:54
Food coupons insult

FOOD coupons, as I understand them, are an insult to the hardworking
civil servants.

The coupons have their history in times of calamities such as
Hurricane Katrina and are designed to help out families that have no other
sources of income.

Our civil servants are in employment and are not indigent! It is the
poor system of remuneration that makes paupers out of hard-working men and
women of this country.

People should be paid their salaries, which they in turn spend as and
where they wish to. In forcing people to go and buy products "X, Y and Z"
already we are setting the scene for corruption.

So companies such as Museyamwa Enterprises for example, that
manufacture a questionable brand of soap will be clamouring to have their
product included on the food coupons, while my favoured brand of soap is "C",
which may not be included in the food coupons.

We are sowing the seeds of corruption. Again if you look closely at
the people who have supplied Bacossi products in the past, they are likely
to be featuring prominently in the food coupons redemption scheme.

We need transparency and my view is that food coupons are the not the
route we should be going. Let's examine carefully the offer by President
Kgalema Motlanthe of South Africa which seeks to help Zimbabwe's recovery by
allowing us to adopt the rand as our currency.

Unless we have something to hide we should take up his offer and use
the rand while, as a nation we have a serious conversation about what should
happen to our currency.

 There will be a lot of benefits right across.

People we see queuing up at the South African High Commission will no
longer need to prove they have the rands to travel to South Africa.

They will just go to their banks and get as much as they want, while
rand credit cards will even be a better form of transacting for many
Zimbabweans with children attending schools and universities in South

Businesses too, will find it much easier to conduct their

 I would suggest that there be serious conversations among members of
the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries, the Zimbabwe National Chamber of
Commerce and Civil Society Organisations in the next month, at the end of
which they will make recommendations to the government on the way forward
and the timeframe for implementation. And for once government should learn
to listen to what the people say and not to assume that they alone have a
monopoly on knowledge.

It should be an interesting test of the new government's commitment to
consulting all stakeholders on critical issues. - Dumisani Mpofu, Waverley,

News reading whore

WHAT'S happening at the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings, ZBH? I think
the national broadcaster needs to pay its employees well. It is disgusting
to see one of its female news hour readers also doubling as a prostitute in
the Avenues areas late at night. Times are hard. Let them have enough to
feed themselves and their families. - Concerned ex-ZBC staffer, Harare

OUR love for things that cost us nothing has impoverished this nation.
People like the Governor of the Reserve Bank, Dr Gideon Gono, have ridden on
this weakness by printing money, through Bacossi and all sorts of hand outs.
These freebies could never turn around a country in a free fall. We have to
change and that includes re-assigning people like Gono from the Reserve
Bank. - Tineyi, Banket.

Only love will do it
THIS country will be turned around with love, not cruelty. When the
leaders free people from fear and let them get on with their legal business.
Our leaders may kick-start us but not make us dependant on that
assistance. - Royal, Harare.

MY analyst friend may have been right about the new political
dispensation - a fly being invited into the spider's web bedecked parlour.
From now time will tell whether it was worth taking the gamble. - Clerka.
BY allowing the MDC to come half in after the March 29 2008 elections,
Zanu PF ought to have moved half out too. - Pythagoras, Harare.

Ditch the generals
MY advice is that we should relieve all the service chiefs, who
demonstrated their unfitness for office and then go after them for
boycotting a national event such as the swearing in of a new government of
national unity.

They demonstrated that they are not with us, so whose interests do
they serve in the new Zimbabwe that we have embarked on?

In case they do not know it, their allegiance is to Zimbabwe. Who the
hell do they think they are? Are they suggesting that they are above the
people of Zimbabwe?

This is one notion that has to be knocked out of their heads so that
we have professional security arms of government. - The Patriot, Harare.

Extortionate fees

FEES at state universities need an urgent review.

I am a parent with three children, but also a university lecturer
earning as of last month $92 trillion. Where do I get the US$3 000 a

The administration at the University of Zimbabwe needs to administer
the institution with a human face, but more importantly put in place an
effective internal communications structure for dialoguing with the student
community. - Gurundoro, Sanyati.

Zanu PF's last hope

SO President Robert Mugabe chooses to re-appoint the same key members
of the "worst Cabinet" he ever had in the history of this country?

What is that supposed to tell us about his commitment to making the
new dispensation work?

Or was this a matter of making sure that he takes care of those he
fears will make trouble for him?

Whatever the case, those he has brought on board need to realise one
key point - they can air brush their dismal performance by ensuring this
thing works.

If they do not, that is the end of Zanu PF.

They will have no chance at the next elections because they will be
seen as having been an obstacle to progress. I hope they still have the
capacity to rebrand themselves.

But for the MDC, they have a foot in the door and a demonstration of
the service delivery shown by the likes of Engineer Alias Mudzuri, Japhet
Ndabeni-Ncube and Misheck Shoko, Misheck Kagurabadza, Cecil Zvidzai and
Dhlakama when they were executive mayors before Ignatious Chombo unleashed
Zanu PF's wrath on them.

For the parties in the unity government this experiment offers
enormous opportunities unprecedented in the history of this region. - New
Beginning, Gweru.

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