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Bennett to get bail

Moses Mudzwiti Published:Feb 24, 2009

ROY Bennett, the Movement for Democratic Change treasurer, is expected to be
freed on bail today, and remains eligible to take up his new job as deputy
agriculture minister.

President Robert Mugabe has been under immense pressure to release Bennett
and all other political prisoners.

The MDC said yesterday: "Roy Bennett and all political prisoners must be
released immediately, unconditionally and unharmed. Their continued
detention is provocation of the highest order."

Other prominent political detainees include human rights activist Jestina

The director of the Zimbabwe Peace Project has been in solitary confinement
since December. Her poor health has been a matter of serious concern.

The MDC has appointed human rights lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa to assist Bennett
with his bail application.

Bennett has been charged with illegal possession of arms for purposes of
committing banditry, terrorism and insurgency.

The high court in Harare is expected to free him on bail pending his
appearance next month in the Mutare magistrate's court.

Legal experts say there are no laws preventing Bennett - once he is freed on
bail - from taking up his new position as deputy agriculture minister.

So far, Mugabe has appointed 41 cabinet ministers and 19 deputies.

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Gono the man in charge of JOC

February 23, 2009

By James Makuwire

LAST week "Your Governor" Gideon Gono was publicly lecturing the new Finance
Minister, Tendai Biti on the laws that determine the responsibilities and
powers of the minister and those if the Governor of the Reserve Bank. He
shouldn't have wasted his breath.

Biti is a brilliant lawyer with a distinquished record in the business. More
importantly, he burned the midnight oil for his degrees and, for good
measure, at a once credible institution of higher learning.

Gono's concerns are perfectly understandable. He has ruled the roost for the
past five years, answering only to one "principal", President Robert Mugabe
who has given him such powers no other reserve bank governor in the history
of money has ever enjoyed. This man bought cars without going to tender,
dished out plasma television sets and salaries to judges, he paid senior
military, police and intelligence officers ex-gratia salaries in foreign
currency and did not have to answer or account to anyone.

Gideon Gono has been everything. If the nation needed (or wanted) tractors,
trucks, or combine harvesters Gono knew where to get them from. Water
chemicals and minibuses for Zanu-PF campaigns, indelible ink and security
paper for elections, aircraft spare parts, medicines, food, fertilisers
(even fake ones), you name I, Gono provided. The standard answer for all
Zimbabwe's needs was "Endayi kuna Gavena" (Go and see the Governor).

The entire nation's very being depended on just one person, Gideon Gono.

The Joint Operations Command might sound very militaristic as indeed it

But Gono was the central figure around whom it revolved. It held its
meetings at the Reserve Bank. It was at the Reserve Bank that manufacturers
and traders were summoned by the JOC to be questioned, harangued and
threatened about their "sabotage" and "regime change" activities of hoarding
or over-pricing goods.

Some were eventually arrested, their businesses ruined.

The Reserve Bank inspectors, like the Gestapo and the KGB, soon became the
most feared entity in our country. They knocked on your door at night to
turn your house upside down in the name of investigating "tip-offs" that one
was hoarding foreign currency or gold or whatever. They hit pizza shops and
ruined business by setting arbitrary prices for goods. But first they tipped
off friends and relatives about where they were going to hit first. They
lucky ones would then buy plasma TVs, DVD players and refrigerators for
ridiculously low amounts. Some people  openly flaunted foreign currency as
long as they worked for Gono.

Vakomana and Vasikana vemaBag (the Boys and the Girls of the Bags) were
known for their lavish lifestyles, driving expensive cars, buying property
and living in good in hotels. They made their money as runners for the
Reserve Bank. The worst kept secret was that the Reserve Bank was the No.1
illegal forex dealer in Harare, Bulawayo and Beitbridge.

Its activities on the "Mangoda Market" were legendary.

Our family friend Herbert Murerwa was so pissed off with Gideon Gono he
almost punched him once. "Don't fool around with me, young man," the gentle
Murerwa raged as he was held back. He soon was out of a job as Finance

Between Gono and Murerwa, the choice to President Mugabe was obvious.

This is the man Biti has to deal with today. Biti has one trump card which
Mr. Nice Guy Murerwa didn't have. Two, actually. Firstly, Biti does not owe
his position to Robert Mugabe.

Secondly, donors will not route their money through the Reserve Bank anyway
if Gono remains in his position. Bye bye, Gono. But before he goes, as
indeed he will have to, whether he growls, hisses, scratches, screams or
kicks, here are but just a few questions Biti should rightly ask:

- Where are the tender documents for the hundreds of cars that Gono bought?
- Where are the cars, anyway? To whom were they allocated and the reasons
- A list of all the properties that the Reserve Bank has bought, including
in Dubai, Mauritius and Malaysia?
- The technical justification, tender and financing of the bio-diesel plant
- The exact account of the number and disbursement of banknotes that have
been printed by the Reserve Bank over the past five years.
- The technical justification and deposit payment for Russian planes (where
are they, anyway?)
- The exact list of Reserve Bank employees and their positions?
- The exact list of non-Reserve Bank employees whose salaries and perks are
paid by the Reserve Bank.
- The exact list of Zanu-PF employees at Jongwe House whose salaries are
paid by the Reserve Bank.
- The exact amount of foreign currency that is being paid to children of
senior Reserve Bank employees outside the country and the number of children
- The whereabouts of the cars the Reserve Bank imported during the March
general elections for distribution to provinces at President Mugabe's
- The whereabouts of cars that the Reserve Bank imported for doctors

Oh, there is so much more. Here's a proposal for Biti to deal with the
collection of the massive data I know is out there. Set up a couple of
web-based e-mail addresses to which people can send tips and documents about
all the funny business that's been going on behind the nation's back.

Gono has been acting with sheer contempt of rules, even determining who goes
to jail and who doesn't. He has driven many a man into ruin, into exile and
the military, the police and the CIO had become his personal tools.

People do not respect Gono. They fear him. They loathe him for his abuse of
power. He probably knows it. Why else would he be the second most protected
person in Zimbabwe? The busiest equipment in the Reserve Bank system has NOT
been the printing presses at Fidelity Printers. It's the photocopier.
Everybody has an incriminating document that he or she has copied as
insurance. The auditors, new and independent, Biti, Cabinet and the nation
need to know what these documents contain.

This is not a witch hunt. It's a necessity. The Reserve Bank, like NASSA,
another thoroughly abused institution, belongs to us Zimbabweans.

It's time to take stock.

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Zimbabwe steps up white-owned farm grabs

Published: Feb. 23, 2009 at 4:22 PM

HARARE, Zimbabwe, Feb. 23 (UPI) -- Zimbabwe is stepping up the confiscation
of white-owned farms before a new power-sharing unity government can begin
to take the reins, critics say.
Agricultural officials, soldiers and police loyal to President Robert
Mugabe's ZANU-PF party have seized 77 white-owned farms within the last few
weeks as opposition Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, who opposes the
confiscations, settles into his job, the BBC reported Monday.

Commercial Farmers

Union President Trevor Gifford told the broadcaster that the invasions are
being carried out by a clique of ZANU-PF loyalists who were "using their
offices to ensure ethnic cleansing can take place before the prime minister
is able to stabilize the country.

"This is being led by members of the old regime in ZANU-PF who are not
willing to see the transition take place to a new unity government," Gifford
told the BBC.

Zimbabwe, which is already facing a severe food crisis, will likely see the
situation worsen since the farms were seized in the middle of the growing
season, he said.

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Ncube explains altering of document

February 23, 2009

By Our Correspondent

HARARE - A senior official representing one of the Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) parties during the power-sharing negotiations has now shed more
light on the circumstances leading to the signing of a doctored version of
the agreement reached.

Negotiators representing Zanu-PF, the mainstream MDC led by Morgan
Tsvangirai and the smaller MDC party of Arthur Mutambara reached agreement
on Thursday, September 11, 2008 on the deal leading to the signing of the
Global Political Agreement. The actual signing was, however, deferred to
Monday, September 15.

Welshman Ncube, the secretary general of the breakaway MDC party led by
Mutambara explained to The Zimbabwe Times at the weekend how Justice
Minister Patrick Chinamasa had, during the period between Friday, September
12 and the official signing of the document on Monday, September 15, amended
the official document and presented the altered version for signing.

Chinamasa and Ncube were the chief negotiators for Zanu-PF and the Mutambara
faction of the MDC, respectively. The mainstream MDC was represented by
Tendai Biti, the party's secretary general who is now the Minister of

Ncube who has since been appointed the Minister of Industry and Commerce
said that the negotiators were shocked when they discovered on the day of
signing that there were now two versions to the agreement.

"Actually it was Chinamasa who changed the agreement," said Ncube on Sunday.
"He only alerted me during the luncheon on September 15. He told me that he
had looked for me in vain. I had actually flown to Botswana on the Friday;
that is soon after the agreement was reached at on the 11th."

Ncube said the three principals, President Robert Mugabe and MDC leaders
Tsvangirai and Mutambara, now Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister,
respectively, had agreed that the document should be printed by officials at
the South African Embassy. This arrangement had apparently been changed over
the weekend before the signing in ceremony.

"Chinamasa told us that after failing to get in touch with either myself or
Tendai Biti he just took it upon himself and made the changes. We all sat
there during the signing ceremony believing that the document being signed
had been prepared by the South African Embassy officials. I don't know how
Chinamasa managed to convince them to have the document prepared by the
(Zimbabwe) government," he added.

Ncube said Chinamasa had made three major changes to the document and they
were now incorporated in the Global Political Agreement.

"I had the electronic version of the original document signed on September
11 after (former South African) President Thabo Mbeki had denied the three
principals any opportunity to get out of the talks room and talk to the
negotiators about the deal. He then told the embassy staff to print the
document while the leaders waited in the room that is why there were some
typing mistakes on it," said Ncube.

He said there were two different documents at the September 15 signing
ceremony - the one that was signed finally by the principals of the three
parties and the official version which was prepared by the South African

He said the changes had led to an instant uproar by the two MDC parties but
their protests had fallen on deaf ears as Mbeki the Southern African
Development Community (SADC) appointed mediator, refused to have the
document corrected.

Initially there were accusations that Ncube himself had connived with
Chinamasa to doctor the document.

At the time the SADC secretary general, Tomaz Salomao, admitted that the
controversial document signed on September 15 had been fraudulently altered.

The mainstream MDC initially protested and raised serious concerns about the
authenticity of the document, complaining that Zanu-PF had doctored the
agreement but that Salamao had done nothing about it.

At that time Tsvangirai accused Chinamasa, Ncube and Mbeki's representative,
Mojanku Gumbi, of tampering with the document by way of making certain
changes to it, without the knowledge of the representatives of the
mainstream MDC.

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Mugabe's Home Away from Zimbabwe: Hong Kong?
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and the three-story villa inside Hong Kong's JC Castle that he reportedly bought
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and the three-story villa inside Hong Kong's JC Castle that he reportedly bought
L. to R.: Alexander Joe / AFP / Getty; Bobby Yip / REuters

JC Castle is an unlikely home for a world dictator. Although posh and secluded, the compound's pale pink boxlike villas look altogether drab in this city of tycoons and high rollers. On Saturday, a few shirtless residents smoked cigarettes on balconies, clotheslines suspended from the railings. Potted plants unevenly line the estate's walls — behind them, perhaps, lies a vital part of the exit strategy of Robert Mugabe, the President of impoverished Zimbabwe.

In recent months, Zimbabwe's octogenarian autocrat has watched as his country was ravaged, first by chronic food shortages, hyperinflation and political turmoil, and then by a cholera epidemic that continues unabated. Although Mugabe still locks up political opponents, most recently a deputy minister slated to be sworn into the new unity government, his rule has been weakened by a power-sharing agreement with an emboldened and entrenched opposition. His position is as insecure as it has ever been, and, if press reports this month are to believed, he and his confidantes are looking to Asia and to property at JC Castle — named for the action star Jackie Chan by the real estate group behind the residential development — for solace and safety.

An exposé published last week in the London-based Sunday Times alleges that Mugabe and his wife Grace have amassed a string of investments through a shadowy network of partners in Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore, most likely with funds funneled out of Zimbabwe's coffers. Mugabe is reviled by many of his countrymen and much of the world for the corruption and cronyism of his regime, and extensive U.S. and European Union economic sanctions bar him and his associates from visiting or conducting financial affairs in the West. So the former champion of anticolonial revolution has over the years turned toward the wealthier climes of Southeast Asia, where he once could count on significant support and still does among private circles of businessmen and politicos.

Chief among his alleged Asian possessions is the $5.7 million house purchased last year in this remote development, perched beneath a hilly copse of trees in Hong Kong's verdant New Territories. An agitated guard stationed by JC Castle's iron-gated entrance told TIME there was no such house; she was contradicted by a superior who said its occupants had left strict instructions not to be disturbed by visitors. When two Sunday Times journalists approached the compound to photograph the villa last week, they were reportedly assaulted by three African guards and had to receive medical treatment. This attack followed another encounter last month, when Grace Mugabe and a bodyguard allegedly slapped and bruised a photographer tailing her around a ritzy Hong Kong mall. She left the city, a special administrative region of China, before investigators could make inquiries.

Grace Mugabe, four decades the President's junior, is accused by critics of extravagant spending sprees, with funds supposedly siphoned from Zimbabwe's state bank. According to the Sunday Times, she has spent tens of thousands of dollars on designer handbags and Vietnamese marble statues, and is supposedly speculating in a lucrative China-based diamond business. During stays in Hong Kong, according to local reports, Grace's entourage occupies two whole floors of some of the fanciest hotels. She was photographed in 2003 with 15 trolley loads of luxury goods while sitting in a first-class lounge in Singapore's airport. The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe reportedly funded her latest holiday, which began in Malaysia last month, where the Mugabes are reputed to own a $92,000 vacation home. An article in the Zimbabwe Times claims that the bank's governor, Gideon Gono, accompanied Grace on the trip.

While Hong Kong maintains strict rules against money laundering, the Mugabes, it appears, have established themselves here with little trouble. Bona Mugabe, the dictator's 20-year-old daughter, is allegedly enrolled at Hong Kong's City University. (Mugabe's relatives have been barred entry at schools in the West and Australia.) The Zimbabwe National Students Union, based in Harare, issued a petition on Feb. 15 demanding Bona's deportation back to Zimbabwe, so that she could resume her studies alongside her people. "The state of our education system is so deplorable," reads their statement, "that [Robert Mugabe] has seen it fit to trust the Chinese for the education of his daughter."

Pro-democracy legislators and human-rights activists are reviewing whether the Mugabe presence in Hong Kong can be challenged, but it remains unclear how much can be done to thwart a head of state who remains close to Beijing. "At the end of the day, Hong Kong has no power over its foreign dealings," says Law Yuk-Kai of Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor. A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman told the Hong Kong–based South China Morning Post on Feb. 17 that Mugabe had the right to invest in Hong Kong real estate. "Hong Kong is a free port ... even Falun Gong practitioners can buy a property there," said the unnamed official. The connection between a marginalized religious sect and a tyrant in power for three decades may be tenuous, but, for Zimbabweans, half of whom face malnutrition, it must elicit the most cynical, if fleeting, of smiles.

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UN humanitarian team meets Zim leaders

February 23 2009 at 09:56PM

Harare - A United Nations team currently in Zimbabwe to assess the
country's humanitarian crisis met on Monday with President Robert Mugabe and
the new premier, Morgan Tsvangirai, a government official said.

"The UN team met with the prime minister in the morning and then the
president later in the afternoon; they discussed humanitarian issues," the
official said.

"The UN wants a collaborative effort with the government on how to
address the humanitarian issues," said the official, adding that more
details of the meeting would be released on Tuesday.

The team which is led by Catherine Bragg, UN assistant secretary
general for humanitarian affairs, is on a five-day visit to the crisis torn
country, emerging from almost a decade of economic ruin.

Bragg said on Sunday "the aim of the mission is to understand the
reality of the situation in Zimbabwe".

The team includes representatives from the World Health Organisation
(WHO), World Food Programme (WFP) and the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF).

Zimbabwe is currently battling a cholera epidemic which has killed
almost 4 000 and severe food shortages, with an economy in freefall.

South African President Kgalema Motlanthe, chairman of the Southern
African Development Community (SADC), has convened the body's finance
ministers this week to devise a plan to help the country out of the crisis.

Two week ago Tsvangirai was sworn in as premier, joining his long-time
rival Mugabe in a unity government. - Sapa-AFP

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8 MDC supporters denied bail: Party official

by Clara Smith Tuesday 24 February 2009

HARARE - A senior official of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's MDC party
said eight members of the party from Harare's Mbare low-income suburb were
on Monday denied bail by a court following clashes with supporters of
President Robert Mugabe's ZANU PF party.

The eight were part of a group of MDC supporters disposed of their homes by
ZANU PF members in the run-up to last June's controversial presidential

The MDC supporters last week attempted to regain their properties from the
ZANU PF supporters resulting in violent clashes between the two groups and
the arrest of the Tsvangirai supporters.

MDC legislator for Mbare Pineal Denga said the MDC supporters were arrested
and later released before being summonsed to appear in court on Monday.

"All of them willingly presented themselves to the court when they were
later summed to do so and I don't see the reason for denying them bail,"
said Denga.

Meanwhile MDC treasurer Roy Bennett is expected to make an application for
bail at the High Court on Tuesday.

Bennett, picked by Tsvangirai to be deputy minister of agriculture in the
unity government, was arrested hours before ministers were sworn in more
than a week ago.

He was last Wednesday remanded to early March on charges of illegally
possessing firearms to commit acts of insurgency, banditry and terrorism as
it emerged - charges he denies and which his party says are trumped up.

Tsvangirai has said the arrest of Bennett was an attempt by individuals
opposed to the unity government to derail the administration and has called
on prison authorities to release the MDC treasurer, as well as other
activists of the party and human rights campaigners from jail. His calls
have been ignored. - ZimOnline

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Zim to feature in talks between Motlanthe, UN chief

by Nokuthula Sibanda Tuesday 24 February 2009

HARARE - Zimbabwe will feature prominently during discussions on Wednesday
between South African President Kgalema Motlanthe and UN Secretary General
Ban Ki-moon in Pretoria.

South Africa, the region's biggest economy, mediated in negotiations that
saw President Robert Mugabe and longtime rival Morgan Tsvangirai agree to
form a government of national unity sworn into office two weeks ago.

The unity government has appealed for help from neighbours and from UN
agencies to tackle Zimbabwe's unprecedented economic and humanitarian

South Africa's Foreign Affairs Department said Motlanthe would also discuss
with Ban, who is on his first visit to southern Africa, other crises on the
continent including strife-torn Somalia and the Democratic Republic of Congo

"During his visit to Union Buildings Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and
President Motlanthe are expected to discuss among others African
developments including developments in Zimbabwe, DRC, Sudan, Somalia,
Madagascar and DRC," Foreign Affairs spokesman Ronnie Mamoepa said.

Ban's visit to the region comes days after he dispatched a team of aid
experts on a five-day mission to Zimbabwe to assess the country's
humanitarian needs.

The UN team that arrived in Harare at the weekend includes representatives
from the World Health Organisation, World Food Programme and the United
Nations Children's Fund. It is expected to meet Mugabe and Prime Minister
Tsvangirai during its stay in the country.

Once a model African economy Zimbabwe is grappling with one of the worst
economic and humanitarian catastrophes outside a war zone, seen in the world's
highest inflation of more than 200 million percent, acute food shortages and
a cholera epidemic that has infected more than 80 000 people and killed
nearly 4 000 others.

A unity government between Tsvangirai and Mugabe has raised hopes that
Zimbabwe could finally emerge from its crisis but analysts say the
international community would have to provide substantial aid if the
southern African country is to recover from nearly a decade of acute

Tsvangirai, who last week visited South Africa la Friday to discuss a
possible rescue package for his country, said long-term recovery would
require at least US$5 billion - money Zimbabwe or its neighbours do not

The United States, Britain and other Western powers with the resources to
bankroll Zimbabwe's recovery have said they want to see evidence the unity
government is committed to implementing genuine political and economic
reform before they can provide aid. - ZimOnline

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Zimbabwe will take time to rebuild: UK

by Own Correspondent Tuesday 24 February 2009

JOHANNESBURG - Britain does not expect quick recovery in Zimbabwe despite
the southern African country's political leaders forming a unity government
two weeks ago, local government minister John Healey said on Monday.

Addressing the British Parliament, Healey said Zimbabwe's economic crisis
had paralysed the country "and we cannot expect this to be put right

The collapse of the infrastructure had exposed British nationals living
there to severe difficulties of getting food and medical care, making it
necessary for the UK to intervene and assist them, said Healey, London's
decision to evacuate elderly Britons from Zimbabwe.

Once a model African economy Zimbabwe is in the grip of an unprecedented
economic and humanitarian crisis marked by the world's highest inflation of
231 million percent as of last July, acute shortages of food and deepening
poverty amid a cholera epidemic that has infected about 80 000 people and
killed more than 4 000 others.

Critics blame Zimbabwe's troubles on repression and wrong polices by
President Robert Mugabe such as his land reforms that displaced established
white commercial farmers and replaced them with either incompetent or
inadequately funded black farmers, leading to a massive drop in farm

But Mugabe blames Western sanctions he says are meant to push him out of

Mugabe and his long time rival and now Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai
formed a new government two weeks ago after agreeing to share power last
year, raising hopes among Zimbabweans of an end to widespread hardship.

But skepticism remains high whether the unity government that under a
September power-sharing agreement should last for about two years would
survive the deep-seated acrimony between the political rivals and rescue the
country from complete economic collapse.

Healey said Britain would repatriate "older and vulnerable British people
who may be increasingly unable to support themselves in Zimbabwe and who are
unable to return to the UK without assistance."

The programme will target British nationals aged 70 or over in need of care
or medical treatment and up to 750 elderly Britons are expected to take up
the offer over the next 18 months, the British minister said.

Healey stressed that Britain was not advising the 12 500 British nationals
registered with the British Embassy in Zimbabwe to leave the country.

Meanwhile New Zealand said on Monday it might stop the country's cricket
team touring Zimbabwe later this year because of security risks.

Prime Minister John Key told Television New Zealand: "I'm pretty reluctant
for the Black Caps to travel," adding; "There are very real, genuine
security risks for our players."

The Black Caps are scheduled to tour the southern African country for three
one-day internationals in July as part of the International Cricket
Council's (ICC) future tours programme.

New Zealand risks an ICC-imposed fine if it opted against touring, unless
ordered by the government. - ZimOnline

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Zimbabwe's inflation rate at 89.7 sextillion percent
Monday, 23 February 2009
Colleague Manraag Singh brings us up to date on what's going in the monetary
experiment known as Zimbabwe:

"The Cato Institute estimates Zimbabwe's inflation rate at 89.7 sextillion
percent. That is 89.7 million million million, or twenty-one zeroes behind
the number.

"Putting that into perspective, the official count of stars in the universe
is about 70 sextillion, apparently.

"On the plus side, Zimbabwe's share index is expected to double this year
now that are re-opening it with trading in US dollars.

"Gideon Gono had shut it down about three months ago after accusing some
traders of using fraudulent cheques worth '60 hexillion' Zimbabwe dollars to
buy shares. I haven't been able to find out how much a hexillion is."

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Suspect swallows notes

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

THERE was drama at a beer outlet in Mutorashanga when a former policeman
swallowed some fake US$5 notes in an attempt to conceal the exhibit after
being arrested for possessing counterfeit US$190 at the weekend.

Mark Nhira, formerly based at Police General Headquarters in Harare, had
used a fake US$50 note to buy beer at Marimo Bottle Store before proprietor
Mr Robson Marimo discovered the offence and caused his arrest. Mashonaland
West provincial police spokesperson Inspector Denford Maingire yesterday
confirmed the arrest of Nhira.

Insp Maingire said Nhira was found in possession of fake three US$50, two
US$10 and US$20 notes with the same serial numbers.

"In an effort to cover up for the offence he grabbed an undisclosed amount
of US$5 notes which he chewed and swallowed," said Insp Maingire.

Nhira appeared at Chinhoyi magistrates' court facing fraud charges.

He was not asked to plead when he appeared before magistrate Ms Tendayi
Muchina, who remanded him in custody to March 9.

The State, led by Mr Douglas Shumbayaonda, opposed bail. - HR.

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Govt, teachers reach deal

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

GOVERNMENT yesterday struck a deal with teacher organisations - the
Prog-ressive Teachers' Union of Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe Teachers'
Association - for their members to return to work by March 2 to allow the
resumption of normal classes for the 2009 education calendar.

The development came as the Gover-nment presented a US$458 million budget to
the donor community for the education sector.

Addressing a Press conference in Harare yesterday, the Minister of
Education, Sport, Arts and Culture, David Coltart, said the money was for
six months.

"The budget we presented to Unicef and the donor community is US$458 million
for March 1 up to the end of August," he said.

Minister Coltart also agreed on a number of key issues with the teachers'

He said the ministry and the unions agreed that all teachers should report
for duty by March 2 and that "all schools would be fully functional by March

It was also agreed to grant amnesty to teachers who left the service over
the past two years for economic reasons.

Minister Coltart said he had fruitful discussions with Unicef, United
Nations agencies and other donors with interest in the education sector.

It was agreed that the amount of the March salaries would be reached through

The long run, the intention is to match their salaries with those paid to
teachers in the region.

The Government admitted that the February salaries for teachers were
inadequate and agreed to improve their conditions of service.

The ministry and the unions agreed that the 2008 educational year would not
be revisited.

There were calls from some quarters to consider 2008 a wasted year and to
have it revisited.

Instead, the ministry and the unions agreed to slight adjustments to the
2009 school calendar.

The second term will begin earlier on May 5 (Tuesday) instead of May 12.

The third term will begin on September 2 (Wednesday) instead of September 8.
There would be no changes to the first term.

The meeting between Minister Coltart, his deputy Lazarus Dokora and
representatives of the unions was held in a warm atmosphere.

PTUZ was represented by Mr Raymond Majongwe while Ms Tendai Chikowore
represented Zimta.

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It is criminal to refuse Zim dollar

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

EDITOR - This is an open letter to the City of Harare, Zesa Holdings,
TelOne, Zinwa and other service providers and retailers who are trying to
trick customers into believing that payments can only be made in US dollars.

You are indeed allowed to charge in foreign currency, but you are also
obliged to accept Zimbabwe dollars from those who choose to pay in that
currency (Statutory Instrument 175 of 2008 and 5 of 2009 refers).

It is a criminal offence punishable by prosecution or a fine to contravene
these instruments.

You know this because you will have consulted your lawyers and if not, then
you have been grossly negligent.

Consumers should exercise their legal right to pay for goods and services in
Zimbabwe dollars if they so wish.

N. March.



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Zimbabwe's Tsvangirai, Seeking Funds, Must Overcome Western Skepticism

By Jonga Kandemiiri
23 February 2009

Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has called on the international
community to back his national unity government with funding not only for
economic reconstruction as well as humanitarian assistance, but the United
States and Europe have made clear they want to see reform in areas ranging
from human rights to governance to economic policy.

Addressing thousands of supporters on Sunday in Gweru, the capital of
Midlands province, Tsvangirai said the national unity government he has
formed with President Robert Mugabe is the only way out of the crisis for
the country, but Zimbabwe will need help.

Tsvangirai was also marking the tenth anniversary of the founding of his
Movement for Democratic Change, which in 2006 splintered into two formations
but nonetheless claimed a parliamentary majority in the March 2008 general

South African President Kgalema Motlanthe has signaled Pretoria is ready to
fund Zimbabwe's turnaround, but such help could be slow coming from Western
donors, said Roger Bate, a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute for
Public Policy Research in Washington.

Bate told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that it
is unrealistic to think Zimbabwe's new government could be funded with no
strings attached.

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PEACE WATCH of 23rd February [Update on Abductees]


[23rd February 2009]

Hospitalised Abductees Put in Leg Irons and Shackles

Jestina Mukoko, Fidelis Chiramba, Gandhi Mudzingwa, Zachariah Nkomo and Chinoto Zulu are still receiving treatment in the Avenues Clinic.  They are all gaining strength but will need prolonged treatment.  They are in wards being strictly guarded by prison warders and police – at least some of whom are armed.  It is totally unnecessary and shocking that today they were put into leg-irons and shackled to their beds.  This is very alarming for the patients as they are worried that it may signal an intention to try and return them to Chikurubi.

Summary of the Situation on Abductees

Group 1. [The 9 accused of recruiting persons to undergo training for insurgency, banditry, sabotage or terrorism, the “recruiter group”]  Of this group, 2 are in hospital – Jestina Mukoko, Zimbabwe, Peace Project [ZPP] Director, and Fidelis Chiramba.  The other 7 – Broderick Takawira, ZPP, Concillia Chinanzvavana, Emmanuel Chinanzvavana, Pieta Kaseke, Violet Mupfuranhehwe, Collen Mutemagau and Audrey Zimbudzana – are still in Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison. 

Group 2. [The 7 accused of sabotage, the bomber group”].  Of this group, 3 are in hospital – Gandhi Mudzingwa, Zacharia Nkomo and Chinoto Zulu.  The other 4 – Chris Dhlamini, Mapfumo Garutsa, Andrison Manyere and Regis Mujeyi, are still in Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison, despite an order issued by Justice Karwi and a more recent magistrates court order issued on Friday morning for their immediate transfer to the Avenues Clinic for medical treatment.  The medical condition of Chris Dhlamini, in particular, was highlighted by Zimbabwe Doctors for Human Rights as needing hospitalisation as long ago as 6th February.

Court case are continuing for all the abductees who have not yet been admitted to hospital [all have been tortured and their lawyers and doctors insist they should all be where they can receive appropriate treatment which they cannot get in Chikurubi] and also for the State to drop charges and release them. 

[See end for summary of court proceedings since last Peace Watch]

Some Abductees still Missing

Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights [ZLHR] are dealing with 30 cases of reported abductees.  So far only 23 abductees have been accounted for – 5 in hospital, 11 in Chikurubi, 3 released, 1 escaped to South Africa and 3 located but being held in police protective custody as State witnesses.  ZLHR lawyers are taking a habeas corpus case asking the State to produce the remaining 7 on their list, who have not yet been located.  The 7 are Gwenzi Kahiya, Ephraim Mabeka, Lovemore Machokota, Graham Matehwa, Peter Munyanyi, Charles Muza and Edmore Vangirayi.  [Note Mr Tsvangirai when he threatened to withdraw from negotiations last year unless all the abductees were produced, mentioned that there were more than 42, so it could be that there are others, names unknown, missing.]

Abductees being used as Political Pawns?

The circumstances of the abductees’ “disappearances”, their illegal detention and torture by State agents, the refusal of the State to comply with numerous court orders and the delay in getting a Supreme Court hearing on the Constitutional violations involved, point to deliberate stalling pending a political decision. 

Coming up in Court

Tuesday 24th February:  High Court - defence appeal against the provincial magistrate’s decision refusing to release Fidelis Chiramba and others of the “recruiter group’

Friday 27th February:  Magistrates court - further remand proceedings for Concillia et al [the “recruiter group”]. 

Friday 6th March: Magistrates court - further remand hearing for Dhlamini et al [the “bomber group”].  The prosecutor has been ordered to name a trial date at this hearing. 

Date not fixed for Supreme Court - Constitutional Test Cases  In these cases lawyers for Jestina Mukoko, Broderick Takawira and Audrey Zimbudzana will argue that the infringements of constitutional rights involved in their abduction and unlawful detention [including allegations of torture] mean that the State cannot prosecute them.

Abductees Court Proceedings since 16th February

[for full details see ZLHR reports available from]

Wednesday 18th February:  Members of the Dhlamini et al group were due back in court, and the much-delayed police report on their allegations of torture at the hands of State Security personnel was expected to be filed.  However, once again the report was not available and the magistrate postponed the proceedings to 20th February, ordering the prosecutor to provide the defence with a copy of the report by 19th February.

Thursday 19th February:  Justice Omerjee granted bail to four members of the Dhlamini et al group: Chinoto Zulu, Zachariah Nkomo, Mapfumo Garutsa and Regis Mujeyi.  They have not, however, been released, because the State immediately notified the court of its intention to appeal, resulting in the suspension of the judge’s order granting bail.  [Justice Omerjee turned down applications for bail from the other members of the group – Chris Dhlamini, Gandhi Mudzingwa and Andrison Manyere.]

Friday 20th February:  Four members of the Dhlamini group appeared in the magistrates court.  The magistrate directed the prosecutor to set a trial date and ordered that the four be taken immediately to the Avenues Clinic for examination and treatment [an order not yet complied with].

Veritas makes every effort to ensure reliable information, but cannot take legal responsibility

 for information supplied.

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