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MDC threatens to pull out of GNU

February 24, 2009

By Our Correspondent

HARARE - The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) will hold emergency
meetings today to consider pulling out of the government of national unity
after learning that President Robert Mugabe had reassigned all the permanent
secretaries' posts to members of his own party.
The MDC has described this latest development in the short life of the
troubled new government as a serious breach.

MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa said last night what made the latest episode
unfortunate was the fact that that it came on the back of a series of acts
of bad faith by their partners in the GNU.

"Half the permanent secretaries appointed should be taken out of Zanu-PF's
hands, otherwise the MDC will walk away from the GNU," Chamisa said.

A meeting of the MDC standing committee was scheduled for this Wednesday
morning  to discuss the appointment of permanent secretaries and coordinate
a response.

State television announced that the Chief Secretary to the President and
Cabinet Dr Misheck Sibanda had reassigned some permanent secretaries and
appointed new ones.

However, all the 34 permanent secretaries, including the so-called new ones,
are all members of President Mugabe's Zanu-PF party. Zimbabwe now has 41
Cabinet ministers. This means that seven vacancies are still outstanding.

Sibanda told ZTV in a statement that appointments in the remaining
ministries and departments in the Office of the President and Cabinet, the
offices of the Vice Presidents, the Office of the Prime Minister and the
offices of the Deputy Prime Ministers will be made in due course.

He also announced senior appointments in the President's office.

Dr Ray Ndhlukula has been re-assigned as deputy chief secretary for Policy
Co-ordination and Administration in the Office of the President and Cabinet
while Retired Colonel Christian Katsande has been promoted to deputy chief
secretary in the department of Economic Research and Policy Analysis in the
Office of the President and Cabinet.

Chamisa said Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai was not consulted about the
appointments of permanent secretaries as the global political agreement
clearly prescribes. He said the lack of good faith and the absence of a
paradigm shift by Zanu-PF and, more importantly, the lack of trust and
respect Zanu-PF had exhibited towards the other parties to the GNU
threatened the inclusive government.

"This is not a stand alone issue," Chamisa told The Zimbabwe Times. "It's
coming on the back of other serious violations. We have always known we are
dealing with a dishonest partner. But their dishonesty is now becoming
encyclopaedic. It's a serious breach."

SADC chairman and South African President, Kgalema Motlanthe, who helped
mediate the power-sharing deal between the MDC and President Mugabe's Zanu
(PF) party last month and leads a body that is a guarantor of the GNU, was
due to be alerted of this latest breach and will be called in to try and
salvage the agreement, which was meant to break the country's long political

Chamisa said the latest episode echoes the ministerial grab by Mugabe in
October. Mugabe allocated to Zanu-PF every important ministry, including
defence, home affairs, justice, foreign affairs and local government, and
only surrendered the finance ministry to the MDC. Mugabe refused to
equitably share the ministries until the MDC backed down and accepted his
unilateral appointments.

He also attempted to grab all the 10 gubernatorial posts for his party but
regional leaders persuaded him to relent and share. Eventually MDC got five
governors, Zanu-PF four with one post reserved for the breakaway MDC faction
led by Prof Arthur Mutambara.

Chamisa said Mugabe and Zanu-PF had continued to undermine the agreement by
kidnapping and arresting party supporters, senior officials and civil
society allies. He said the arrest of the MDC treasurer, Roy Bennett, just
as he was set to join government as deputy Minister of Agriculture and the
latest grab of all permanent secretary posts was the last straw to break the
camel's back.

"Zanu-PF is pushing its luck too far," he said. "Also they are taking the
MDC for granted. It's not supposed to be a Zanu-PF government. It's supposed
to be an inclusive government."

Ideally, said Chamisa, the appointments of permanent secretaries and all
senior civil servants should have been handled by the Prime Minister working
with Mugabe, "not this appalling unilateralism".

"It's the same with what they did with governors, same thing with ministers
of State," Chamisa said. "It was unilateral action without the input of the
MDC. Just like what they are doing, continuing to invade farms, arresting
Bennett, keeping (Reserve Bank governor Gideon) Gono and Attorney General
Johannes Tomana in their jobs."

The MDC, which won the parliamentary elections and the most votes in the
first presidential ballot in March last year, said the issue of permanent
secretaries was not negotiable.

The permanent secretaries appointed are:

Judith Kateera  - Department of Economic Research and Policy Analysis in the
Office of the President and Cabinet

Ngoni Masoka - Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development

Margaret Chiduku - Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs

Martin Rushwaya -Defence

Dr Desire Sibanda - Economic Planning and Investment Promotion

Dr Stephen Mahere - Education, Sport, Arts and Culture

Justin Mupamhanga - Energy and Power Development

Florence Nhekairo - Environment and Natural Resources

Willard Manungo - Finance

Joey Bimha - Foreign Affairs

Dr Gerald Gwinji - Health and Child Welfare

Dr Washington Mbizvo - Higher and Tertiary Education

Melusi Matshiya - Home Affairs

Abigail Shonhiwa - Industry and Commerce

Dr Samuel Kundishora - Information Communication Technology

David Mangota - Justice and Legal Affairs

Lancaster Museka - Labour and Social Services

Sylvia Tsvakwi - Land and Land Resettlement

Killian Mupingo - Local Government, Rural and Urban Development.

George Charamba - Media, Information and Publicity.

Thankful Musukutwa - Mines and Mining Development.

David Munyoro - National Housing and Social Amenities.

Constance Chigwamba - Public Service.

Engineer George Mlilo - Public Works.

Tadeous Chifamba - Regional Integration and International Trade.

Prof Francis Gudyanga - Science and Technology.

Elizabeth Ndlovu - Small and Medium Scale Enterprises and Co-operatives.

Partson Mbiriri - Transport and Infrastructural Development.

Ringson Chitsiko - Water Resources Development and Management.

Dr Sylvia Utete-Masango - Women's Affairs, Gender and Community Development.

Prince Mupazviriho - Youth Development, Indigenisation and Empowerment

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With new farm invasions, recovery impossible

February 24, 2009

By Jakaya Goremusandu

ZIMBABWE'S 19 million hectare communal lands, the former tribal trust lands,
have all but been a source of food security, but because of land tenure
limitations and policy flip flops, never a source of inspiration for

So desolate are those lands today and so used up are soils that it is shame
to Zanu-PF which invaded formerly white commercial farms under the guise of
de-congesting these dust bowls of poverty and uncertainty through farm

Land is a thorny issue in Zimbabwe, partly because of lack of
industrialisation (another indictment on Zanu-PF's nearly three decades of
rule) which assures the nation of a viable social security system.

Land would cease to be factor, almost immediately, if the current and new
generations know that Zimbabwe can still look after them in case of
unemployment, retirement and after death. The fact that this is not
possible, and has never been, pushes nearly all black people to think of
land as a form of security - much to the detriment of rationale debate and

To illustrate the gravity of this issue, black Zimbabweans have never
regarded land as a potential source of business. The tin houses littered in
the rural areas were built from remittances from industry, from the urban

A few, especially teachers, agriculture extension officers and migrant
workers in the case of Matabeleland, parts of lower Masvingo and Chipinge
used their savings to put together asbestos or tin roofed dwellings, usually
tiny three or four roomed houses. Some from Seke, Chihota and Domboshava, so
goes the urban legend, managed to put together brick under tile homes from
resources acquired through dubious means in Harare and the surrounding

The point remains that none of what one could call better housing in
Zimbabwe's rural areas today arose from agriculture proceeds or savings.

Since 2000, nobody seems to have a proper record of the numbers that moved
into the former white-owned commercial farms. But what is clear is that
none, absolutely none, to this day has put up a permanent structure in the
form of a home. They say they were advised by the government to wait.

None of these new farmers, especially those who came in on the strength of a
Zanu-PF party card from the rural areas, has any semblance of food security.

They are failing to make ends meet, despite good soils and abundant water.
All they could do was to vandalise farmhouses, rip off irrigation
infrastructure, cut down firewood for sale and hunt down game for food. You
hear farmers newly resettled on productive land complain that they are being
sidelined by donors for food aid!

Against this background, recent reports that close to 100 farms were invaded
recently makes interesting, but ridiculous reading. The urge to acquire and
to sit on capital is a Zimbabwean disease. All land today is dead capital
because of these farm invasions which respect no international property
rights and disregard agriculture as a business enterprise.

Let us face it; Zimbabwe needs to industrialise to absorb the aspirations of
millions of young people who queue daily at Internet cafes in urban areas in
order to connect with the world. Zimbabwe needs a paradigm shift to deal
with a society that has no connection to peasant, subsistence farming - a
society that has long joined the global computer society through mobile
phones and Internet connections.

This generation makes up nearly 60 percent of our population and is
currently confused about the future as they migrate from country to country
in search for food and economic security.

Nearly half of Zimbabwe's young adult population, the prime intellectual
minds of the nation, are in exile. If land was an attractive business
option, they could all have come back a long time ago to try it out. But
this was not so, and will never be. Instead they are leaving the land behind
to venture into the Diaspora.

Zimbabwe needs to de-emotionalise land ownership. The starting point is a
review of the situation of the communal lands. What are the tenure issues
there that require investment to pour in and turn these potentially
productive constituencies - with millions of hard working people with
support or markets for their produce - into viable entities?

The current invasions will serve no purpose other than to turn these farms
into barren lands, like what happened to the rest of the country. Unless the
interim government deals with this thorny issue in the broader scheme of
stabilising Zimbabwe in the short term, no attempts at attaining food
security would bear fruit. All the money coming into the country would go to
food imports.

The new government was so lucky. The economic collapse meant that no
Zimbabwean owed anybody anything, either for their homes in urban areas,
vehicles or household furniture. For all his faults, Robert Mugabe and
Zanu-PF turned nearly everybody into a businessperson. This could turn out
to be our advantage in future.

In the past, Zimbabweans were cushioned by a healthy economy, hated dirty
jobs and still could live in relative comfort. One could quite competently
argue that by importing labour from Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia into the
agricultural sector, Zimbabwe enjoyed full employment status for its

When the situation turned sour, and overnight, fools became Pharaohs as they
turned to gold panning, sold foreign money, fuel, trinkets, and tyres,
literally anything of value.

What this means is that all the money likely to get into Zimbabwe today
could easily be channelled into the productive sector as the people have had
an experience with business ventures of different kinds during the past 10
years. Such local investment could cause an economic turn-around which could
be much faster than originally anticipated.

But issues of food security are central to this resolve. Without food,
without an economic recovery anchored on agriculture, there is no way this
economy can be turned around.

The new invasions of the remaining white owned farms simply dent the image
of the interim government in the eyes of reasonable international investors
and political watchers. It makes the recovery process impossible as nobody
would understand the new direction the regime is going.

If one considers the waste in the rural areas because of poor farming
methods and techniques, there is no land problem - according to need and not
greed - in Zimbabwe today. We live in interesting times, and it is up to the
new government to work out a way out of the current chaos, which seems to
have blessings from Robert Mugabe - one of the signatories to the peace

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Zimbabwe farmer: 'I'm not giving up'
Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Dozens of white-owned farms in Zimbabwe have reportedly been invaded by supporters of President Robert Mugabe this month as the long-time opposition joined a national unity government.

Some suspect this is part of an attempt by hardline Mugabe supporters to scuttle the agreement. Catherine Meredith, 40, tells the BBC what happened to her farm.

Catherine Meredith
On February 6, a crowd of 30 men showed up on our land. Most of them were young, many of them wearing [President Mugabe's] Zanu-PF T-shirts.

I was away in South Africa visiting my son at university but my husband had stayed behind. We had a feeling that something could happen so we decided one of us should stay.

They told my husband that our farm was now being taken over by a local businessman. Their manner was boastful and arrogant.

When I came back from South Africa a few days later, I was advised by the French embassy not to return to the farm (I'm originally from France).

This is because in 2008 there were similar invasions of white-owned farms and it got quite violent. Back then, there were people threatening to kill us and we had to leave our farm for some time.

This time, there was less violence, but I was in touch with my staff on the mobile from Harare. They told me the invaders had been menacing towards them and stopped them from working.

This made my staff very angry, but they were under strict instructions from me not to lose it.


After a week, my husband and I returned to the farm. In the meantime we had obtained a court order in Harare saying the squatters had no right to our land.

The crowd was still there. The atmosphere was very tense, very unpleasant.

We calmly handed the eviction papers to the leader of the pack. We want to follow the law by the letter. The local sheriff was with us. He explained to them that they had no right to be there.

File pic of a farm owner walking through the shell of his tobacco barn, torched by war veterans, near Harare
Past farm occupations by so-called war veterans have turned violent
They kept saying they hadn't been violent. But that isn't true. Last week they seized a member of my staff and pushed his face to the ground to get him to hand over the keys to our garden gate.

Then, 17 of them broke into our garden. Luckily, the police for once stuck up for us and prevented them from breaking into our house.

These squatters are arbitrary people who have been paid to squat on our farm. We call them 'rent-a-crowd'.

But generally the local police haven't been very helpful. Despite the eviction order, they haven't tried to force the squatters off our land. They claim they haven't got the manpower to help us.

'Change is coming'

Financially this has cost us a great deal. The man who ordered the crowd to seize our land has allowed his cattle to walk through our maize fields. This has partly destroyed our crops.

Emotionally, it's absolutely draining. You think you are protected by the law and then this happens.

All of our children are grown up and have moved away and thank goodness for that. Otherwise we would have to worry about their safety as well.

On the surface, this invasion seems more peaceful than the one last year. But there are still about 12 of them on our land and you never know what they are capable of.

They drink and smoke pot quite a bit, and it worries me.

I have lived here since I was 23. Zimbabwe is my home now, I wouldn't know where else to go.

My husband was born in this area and he speaks Shona. We belong here.

We are not giving up. We strongly believe that change is coming to Zimbabwe.

My feeling is that we are very near the end of these troubles. We have a new prime minister now.

I'm 100% confident that in five years' time, I'll still be living on this farm.

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Summit could make or break fragile coalition

Posted to the web on: 25 February 2009

Dumisani Muleya

Harare Correspondent

SOUTHERN African Development Community (SADC) finance ministers, including
SA's Finance Minister Trevor Manuel, will meet in Cape Town today to discuss
Zimbabwe's economic recovery plan amid news the country needs $1bn to pay
vital obligations.

The summit, which comes a day ahead of the SADC council of ministers
conference - also to be held in Cape Town tomorrow - is critical as it could
inspire or undermine confidence in Zimbabwe's new unity government.

Western countries and donors have said that they would wait to see if the
new government was serious about tackling the country' s economic malaise
before providing aid. Some are sceptical the arrangement can work while
President Robert Mugabe remains at the helm.

Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has said the country needs at
least $5bn to ensure recovery. Economic experts, however, suggest $10bn is
needed for reconstruction.

Zimbabwe's economy collapsed under Mugabe's leadership, and policy failures
have reduced the country to a failed state.

The economy, its agricultural base destroyed by violent land seizures, has
experienced 10 years of negative growth. Its inflation rate is the world's
highest . Compounding efforts to rebuild the country, its infrastructure -
roads, airports, railway networks, schools, hospitals and clinics,
waterworks, power stations and bridges - is collapsing.

Official documents show that Zimbabwe needs more than $1bn to cover
essential imports and overdue debts. Payments outstanding include bills for
food, fuel, electricity, as well as debt to Equatorial Guinea for oil and
financial aid.

Education Minister David Coltart said yesterday $438m was needed to
stabilise the education sector.

"The ideal amount of money we need is $438m, and that is just for the first
six months.

"Now in the current economic climate - and in the context of world
recession - that is a completely unattainable figure. So we have to cut it.
We are hoping to raise $80m."

Coltart held marathon meetings with teachers' union representatives in a bid
to persuade teachers to end their strike and return to work by next month.
Teachers, who were paid R1000 last week, have been on strike since last

Zimbabwe used to have the highest literacy rate in Africa, but literacy has
plummeted throughout the drawn-out political and economic crisis.

Besides the SADC finance ministers' summit and the SADC council of ministers
conference, there is another crucial meeting today in which Zimbabwe will
feature prominently. That meeting is between SA's President Kgalema
Motlanthe and United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who arrived
in SA yesterday.

Motlanthe and Ban are expected to discuss the situation in Zimbabwe among
other issues. They will also discuss the Democratic Republic of Congo,
Sudan, Somalia, Madagascar and the Middle East situation.

Other issues on their agenda include the Durban Review Conference on Racism,
Xenophobia and Related Intolerance , the global crisis, climate change and
the reform of the UN .

The UN on Monday pledged to help Zimbabwe tackle its critical humanitarian
crisis . The country faces chronic food shortages and a cholera epidemic.

The World Health Organisation last week said that 3759 people who had
contracted the disease had died.

A total of 80250 cases had so far been reported.

A visiting UN team promised to deal with the humanitarian situation gripping
the country after meeting Mugabe on Monday.

UN assistant secretary-general for humanitarian affairs and deputy emergency
relief co-ordinator Catherine Bragg said the world body would step up
efforts to help Zimbabwe.

"We are focusing on cholera and any form of humanitarian assistance the UN
can offer," she said.

Bragg visited cholera treatment facilities to assess the situation.

She also met the ministers of labour, education, health, agriculture and
foreign affairs.

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MDC Still Denied Media Coverage

HARARE, February 25 2009 - The Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings (ZBH)
continues to shun covering Movement for Democratic Change activities despite
a directive given by the newly appointed Minister of Information Media and
Publicity, Webster Shamu, last week at a meeting held at Munhumuutapa

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and ministers from his party have not
been given much airtime on both radio and television compared to the old
ZANU PF members since the formation of the inclusive government on February

Last  week Shamu and his deputy Jameson Timba (MDC), summoned ZBH
Chief Executive Happison Muchechetere and his News Editor-In-Chief Tarzen
Mandizvidza, both ZANU PF propagandists, to a meeting where they were
ordered to address all members of the inclusive  government as Comrades and
give them equal media coverage.

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Pretoria crocodiles ready to feast on ordinary Zimbabweans

25 February 2009


ZIMBABWE's rancid political deal may be doubted for the detentions of
Jestina Mukoko, Roy Bennett and dozens of others, or for the 77 farms newly
redistributed to Zanu (PF) elites, or for the bloated cabinet. But yet more
pain threatens the country's future.

President Robert Mugabe's more than $5bn foreign debt has not been serviced
since 1999, and paying arrears now will mean belt-tightening for ordinary
Zimbabweans, who must by now be the world's thinnest people.

South African Finance Minister Trevor Manuel and the African Development
Bank (AfDB) are the main diet advocates, with a troubling precedent: the
Democratic Republic of the Congo. In June 2002, the South African cabinet
lent R760m to the (unelected) government of Joseph Kabila, saying it was "to
help clear (the Congo's) ... obligations with the International Monetary
Fund (IMF)" to pave the way for new IMF loans. Pretoria thus sanitised loans
made to Mobutu Sese Seko.

The people of the Congo were previously victims of SA's apartheid-era
allegiance with Mobutu. Thanks to unwitting postapartheid taxpayers, the
Mobutu loans would be neither repudiated nor forgiven, but instead honoured
and serviced. IMF staff were allowed back into Kinshasa with new loans plus
fierce neoliberal condition s.

In a just world, Mobutu's and Mugabe's debts should be repudiated by any
democrat. Mugabe's arrears stand at more than $1,2bn merely to the AfDB,
World Bank and IMF.

Don't repay Mugabe-era debt, says the director of the Zimbabwe Coalition on
Debt and Development, Dakarayi Matanga: "There is danger that any new loans
will add to the already huge debt stock. We therefore called on the
political leadership to reveal the nature of these pledges, and for donor
countries to cancel existing debts unconditionally instead of creating more
debt in order for a new beginning to take place." He advocates "repudiation
of any odious and illegitimate debts".

Repayment is impossible based on current internal resources. Estimates of
flight capital over the past few weeks run to $45m in the wake of reserve
bank governor Gideon Gono's liberalisation of the currency and capital
controls, as the local unit utterly collapsed.

The flood of crony capital to Sandton banks is not new: a study last year on
capital flight by economists Leonce Ndikumana and James Boyce found Zimbabwe
to be Africa's third-most victimised country in relative terms, after
Nigeria and Angola.

Establishing a respectable currency under conditions of continuous
government delegitimacy will be a heroic task, especially if new loans are
mainly meant to repay old loans, or if they facilitate more flight capital.

Worse is the potential conditionality. The biggest hit to the democratic
credentials of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Finance Minister Tendai
Biti will be creditor instructions to further impoverish the "povo".

Advice from IMF country staff hasn't changed: pure Washington Consensus. The
United Nations Development Programme has joined the neoliberal chorus, with
its Zimbabwe report, so reminiscent of the early 1990s Economic Structural
Adjustment Programme (Esap ). Matanga says: "The problems of access to clean
water, skills flight in local medical and health institutions, and poor
infrastructure vividly illustrate the current poor state of social services.
The genesis of this social decline can be located in the implementation of
neoliberal policies linked to Esap ."

Other South African vultures are examining the dying corpse . Consider a
suggestion to Tsvangirai last September from Investec's Roelof Horne:
"Austerity from within".

Yet as Zimbabwean activist Elinor Sisulu said last week: "I have seen the
(SA-led) mediation process as undemocratic and manipulative. I have warned
the MDC that they are lambs going into crocodile-infested waters."

If repaying the $1,2bn is priority one for the AfDB and the Treasury, then
greedy crocodiles are also resident in Tunis and Pretoria. How diabolical
would it be for SA to belt-tighten Zimbabweans, following years of
belt-whipping sponsored by former president Thabo Mbeki financed by the

a.. Bond directs the University of KwaZulu-Natal Centre for Civil Society
and co-authored the UKZN Press book Zimbabwe's Plunge.

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Zimbabwe National army recruitment drive of rural teenagers is of great concerns

Wednesday, 25 February 2009 04:08

Zimbabwean army starts recruitment drive among rural youths after one-third
of soldiers deserted Printer friendly version Zimbabwe has embarked on a
mass recruitment exercise of rural youths to be trained as soldiers against
the backdrop of massive desertions of exasperated junior and middle ranking
officers over low pay.
Soldiers in the country have been forced to turn to crime, looting shops and
supermarkets and confiscating money and food from civilians; sparking fears
of full-blown mutiny.

Runaway inflation estimated at sextillion per cent meant that the buying
power of soldiers who were being paid in local currency until this month had
been eroded, forcing many to desert the armed forces.

The army employs about 30,000 soldiers but was told that
only about 20,000 soldiers or less are left in Zimbabwe as a result of the

"The last two months witnessed a high number of desertions without any
official notice," a senior army officer said.

Another army officer added: "Most of the junior soldiers deserted jobs after
having received no response from the authorities about their submitted
letters of resignation."

The army's top brass, who have strong links with president Robert Mugabe,
bar junior and middle level soldiers from quitting on suspicions that they
are leaving national service to work with enemies of Zimbabwe to push for
regime change.

Most of the senior military leaders participated in Zimbabwe's 1970s war of
independence and have vowed unwavering loyalty to Mugabe, who at 85 years is
one of Africa's oldest leaders.

In a bid to protect against the massive resignations, army officials said
they will up to the end of March embark on a mass recruitment exercise of
youths in rural areas for training as soldiers.

Strict requirements, like a basic educational qualification, that have been
synonymous with past recruitment exercises have been waived to woo jobless
rural youths to the army, was told.

Zimbabwe army Spokesperson Major Alphios Makotore said: "The mass
recruitment started this week and will run through to the end of March.

"There are no specific or strict requirements. What is only needed is that
the youths should be fit and weighing about 50 to 60kgs and with a height of
between 1.68m and 1.7m. Holders of the national youth certificate have an

President Mugabe introduced national youth service in 2000, saying the
programme is aimed at instilling patriotism, discipline and appreciation of
Zimbabwean culture.

Entrepreneurial skills were supposed to be part of the national service

However, military training, denouncement of the opposition and ruling party
slogan chanting took up most of the training time. The graduates were
nicknamed the Green Bombers because of their green military type attire.

According to army sources, sparking massive resignations of junior soldiers
is the huge salary gap between them and the top brass that Mugabe relies on
to maintain grip on power.

Senior members of the army earn about $2,000, are well looked after and
regularly diverted scarce army resources for private use on huge tracts of
land they had been allocated.

Junior soldiers were being paid in the hyper-inflated local currency until
this month when prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai paid them $100 vouchers

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ConCourt to hear argument on diplomatic protection,1,22

Published: 2/24/2009 17:45:59


Legal counsel for South African farmer Crawford von Abo will return to the
Constitutional Court on Thursday in an application to confirm a lower court

The bid is in the hope that the highest court will confirm a Pretoria High
Court finding that the South African president and the 2007 government had
violated his constitutional rights by not protecting him when he asked for
diplomatic help.

In November the Constitutional Court postponed to February what was to be
the final leg of the Free State farmer's legal battle to make the government
help him protect his property and investments in Zimbabwe.

Von Abo maintains that farms he owned and built up since the 1950s were
confiscated without compensation during the Zimbabwe government's land
restitution programme, equipment was destroyed, game and cattle slaughtered
and at one point he was arrested for being on one of his farms.

In March 2002 he turned to then president Thabo Mbeki and wrote to him
asking for diplomatic assistance after effort to resolve the matter,
according to him, were ignored.

During Thabo Mbeki's tenure the South African government pursued a policy of
"quiet diplomacy" in its relations with Zimbabwe, which was facing mounting
criticism over the way it was carrying out its land restitution policy,
including land invasions by "war veterans".

Von Abo also tried various other departments including foreign affairs and

Von Abo, reportedly, also discovered that international agreements that may
have helped him had not been signed into force by the South African
government, and court documents were filed late.

The high court declared that Mbeki and the other ministers cited had failed
to consider properly the request for diplomatic protection.

It further declared that he had the right to diplomatic protection from the
government and ordered that the government must within 60 days file a report
in which it detailed what steps it had taken to have the Zimbabwean
government's violation of Von Abo's rights remedied.

In the Constitutional Court, Von Abo seeks confirmation of the declaration
that the conduct of the president in respect of his request for diplomatic
protection was unconstitutional.

The Constitution requires that an order of constitutional invalidity
regarding the conduct of the president must be confirmed by the
Constitutional Court.

The application is opposed on three main grounds.

That the application cannot be brought in terms of section 172(2)(a) of the
Constitution, as the conduct complained of is attributable to the government
as a whole and not just to the president.

Secondly, the application is premature because the order of the high court
is a supervisory order and the high court is still seized with the matter.

Lastly, it has been submitted that the president (then Mbeki) and the
government (of 2007) had given proper consideration to, and had properly
acted on Von Abo's request for diplomatic protection.

The matter was initially due to be heard on November 11, 2008.

However at the hearing the respondent requested that the matter be postponed
in order to file a formal application to tender new evidence, a portion of
which they would request the Court to keep confidential.

The Court postponed the hearing, ordering the respondents to file the
application no later than the November 28.

This was filed, however later than the due date.

For this reason at the hearing the respondent will ask the court to condone
the late filing of the application to tender further evidence.

- Sapa

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Minister moves to pacify phone users

February 24, 2009

By Our Correspondent

HARARE - Zimbabwe's new Information Communication Technology minister on
Tuesday moved to calm a turbulent phone market after a huge public outcry
that followed the dollarisation of telecoms and a ten-fold hike in mobile
phone tariffs.

Minister Nelson Chamisa on Tuesday met with leaders of the Posts and
Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ), leaders of
State-owned fixed line network, TelOne as well as bosses of Net*One, the
cellular phone operator at the minister's office along Samora Machel Avenue.

Chamisa's new office is next to Hardwicke House, the Central Intelligence
headquarters in central Harare, just next to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe
building. Net*One managing director, Reward Kangai, who is the new chairman
of the Telecommunications Association of Zimbabwe, attended the meeting
together with acting managing director for TelOne, Humpton Mhlanga.

The Zimbabwe Times heard that there was delicate balancing of two competing
interests, the need for the parastatals to break even and the basic right of
citizens to access communication and free expression.

The meeting, was held amid a consumer storm, in the wake of intensifying
public outrage over the prohibitive foreign currency-pegged tariffs being
charged by telecommunications operators and the sky-high bills.

Chamisa said he had asked the phone operators to review the tariffs.

"I advised them to revisit the billing tariffs to address concerns being
raised by the majority of consumers," Chamisa told The Zimbabwe Times. "We
are supposed to be responding positively to the consumers."

The operators were in December granted permission by the government to
charge tariffs in foreign currency which has seen subscribers across the
three networks Telecel, Econet Wireless and Net*One paying USD0, 29 cents
per minute and USD0,30 cents per 3 minute on a landline.

Previously bills were payable in Zimbabwe dollars, at a nominal rate.

Net*One contract line subscribers were shocked with recent massive cellphone
bills ranging between US$50 and US$20,000 for two weeks. The statements also
contained threats that payments were overdue and warnings of disconnection
if payment was not made immediately.

Because of late notification of change in payment terms for users, Net*One
subscribers picked up astronomical bills that could take some of them up to
10 years to pay settle.

At least 20 000 Net One contract line subscribers reportedly face the threat
of losing their lines over failure to meet the current foreign currency
billing system.

The sharp hike has seriously disrupted the business structure of e-commerce,
e-banking, e-business and ordinary phone users.

Demand for payment in foreign currency for mobile telephone use has made
phoning unaffordable in Zimbabwe as the majority has no access to foreign
currency. About 94 percent of the population is unemployed, and the few who
still work are paid in Zimbabwean dollars. Under the present circumstances,
the majority of Zimbabweans have no hope of using a mobile phone at such

Press freedom group, MISA Zimbabwe, has also made representations to the
minister, arguing that access to tools such as the Internet, fixed and
cellular telephony networks have become a privilege for a few in Zimbabwe.
This goes against the emphasis of the World Summit on Information Societies
(WSIS) summit held in Tunisia in 2005 to which Zimbabwe was a signatory.

"This deprivation of the people of Zimbabwe's right to communicate is, in
MISA-Zimbabwe's view, an impediment to accessing a basic right to
communication and free expression, as guaranteed in Article 9 of the African
Charter on Human and People's Rights," said MISA chairman Loughty Dube.
"Zimbabweans find themselves increasingly silenced by a plethora of laws
that suppress dissent and now added to that, the prohibitive cost of simply

Although subscribers argue that the tariffs are too high, mobile phone
companies such as Econet Wireless and NetOne still maintain that the charges
are within regional levels.

Captains in the industry say despite the public outcry, the tariffs are in
tandem with regional levels.

"It's just that Zimbabweans love talking," said one.

A senior telecoms industry official told The Zimbabwe Times that the
reduction in value added tax on airtime from 22,5 percent to 15 percent had
seen a slight reduction in tariffs bringing them to the regional average of
US$0,30 per minute.

"Migration from cheap Zimbabwe dollar-based calls to realistic tariffs has
been a challenge," he said.

Dube urged the operators to take into serious consideration the fact that
telecommunications remain key pillars of freedom of expression and access to
information as articulated under Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of
Human Rights.

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Outcry over bills

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

By Brian Chitemba

THE Bulawayo business community yesterday attacked ZESA and TelOne over high
bills, saying they were threatening to cripple their operations.

Speaking at a meeting in the city yesterday members of the Zimbabwe National
Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) said they were enraged by the "unrealistic bills
charged by the parastatals".
The businesspeople challenged the companies to reduce the rates immediately.
Mr Oswald Nyakunika of Knight Frank, said his company received a shocking
US$4 600 bill from TelOne.
He asked whether the parastatals appreciated the real value of either the
United States dollar or the rand.
"We got a huge bill last month and we were wondering whether it was
realistic or not. Where in the world can anyone pay a US$4 600 telephone
bill," asked Mr Nyakunika.
"Zimbabweans should start appreciating the real value of foreign currency.
We don't produce US dollars in Zimbabwe and thus they are scarce. We can't
pay such high bills."
Another businessperson who preferred anonymity said she received a telephone
bill of as much as US$1 100.
"I can't pay the bill because it's just too much. Where can I get 10 000
rand to pay a telephone bill. It's outrageous," she said.
The businesswoman urged TelOne and ZESA to slash their rates to enable
businesses and domestic consumers to pay the bills.
A businessman also lashed out at ZESA after receiving a US$1 200 bill for
He said his company was not operating at 100 percent capacity and was
worried how his bill hit US$1 200.
ZNCC past vice-president, Mr Charles Chiponda, also expressed concern over
the high bills charged by the parastatals.
He said the companies should charge rates that would allow businesses to
remain afloat.
However, managers from the parastatals defended the high bills saying they
were realistic.
They said the bills represented the real economic situation in Zimbabwe.
In response, ZESA Western Region general manager, Mr Lovemore Chinaka, said
their bills were even lower than those charged in neighbouring countries.
"We will maintain the tariff for the whole year because we believe it covers
costs to generate and import electricity. The idea is to make sure that we
provide power daily without load shedding. Load shedding for the whole day
is madness. We don't like it," he said.
Mr Chinaka admitted that his office was inundated with phone calls from
angry consumers.
"We import power and equipment to use on our network and that requires a lot
of foreign currency. Therefore what we are charging now are cost reflective
tariffs," he added.
The TelOne Matabeleland Regional Customs Manager, Mr Tielo Ncube, said the
bills were realistic and could not be reduced now because they also
reflected operational costs.
He said TelOne was charging a fixed monthly rental of US$15 for commercial
while domestic customers pay US$5.
"We don't estimate our bills, they are actual bills, therefore people must
pay. However, we are not going to disconnect if customers fail to pay," said
Mr Ncube.
The Government has liberalised the economy by allowing businesses and
parastatals to charge market rates.
Meanwhile, our Harare Bureau reports that the Government has ordered Zesa
Holdings to stop disconnecting power supplies to consumers who have failed
to settle their bills until appropriate tariff regimes have been set.
Addressing journalists in Harare yesterday, the Minister of Energy and Power
Development, Engineer Elias Mudzuri, urged the power utility to reconnect
all consumers that have been recently disconnected.
"One of the major areas of concern for the Government and my ministry are
the current electricity bills and disconnection that have brought about an
outcry from consumers.
"In the spirit of getting industry working to optimum levels and helping the
ordinary people, Zesa has been asked to reconnect all the customers that
have been disconnected of late and put all disconnections on hold until 15
March, by which time an agreeable tariff charge will have been worked out,"
he said.
Eng Mudzuri said domestic consumers would pay a minimum of US$10 of their
bills with industry and other consumers paying at least a third of their
"This will at least enable the utility provide service without undue
interruption of service," he said.
Eng Mudzuri said his ministry was conscious of the need to do all within its
means to ensure provision of adequate, reliable and affordable electricity
supplies to the nation.
Eng Mudzuri said the ministry also recognises that electricity should be an
input to raising the capacity utilisation in industries and mines as well as
agriculture hence it would cautiously consider the appropriate tariffs
required for this development.
He said the ministry was also working with the petroleum industry to come up
with prices that are consummate to the industry.
Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Walter Mzembi commended Eng
Mudzuri for his swift response to industry's concerns over power cuts.
"We raised the issue this afternoon at the Cabinet meeting and the ministry
has swiftly moved to redress the situation.
"Some of the bills being sent to companies, let's say for water and
electricity, are not recoverable by the companies and this move would be
essential for the companies," Minister Mzembi said.
He urged consumers not to hesitate to approach the Government when they had
queries over utility services.
"We should never get to any situation where such institutions are taken off
the grid. If there are any disputes, the ministers are the last ports of
call for solutions," he said.
In a related development, the Minister of Media, Information and Publicity,
Cde Webster Shamu yesterday met chief executives of cellphone and telephone
service providers.
In a statement, Secretary for Media, Information and Publicity Cde George
Charamba said Minister Shamu had a meeting with executives of NetOne, TelOne
and Potraz to discuss the current tariff regime with a view to charging
reasonable tariffs.
"The ministry has been inundated with calls by the public who feel the
recent hikes in telephone charges, both fixed and mobile, are making
communication difficult for users," he said.
TelOne and NetOne were last month granted licences to charge tariffs in
foreign currency.
The meeting came at a time when the phone service providers are working out
a transition from the use of local currency to foreign currency.

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Lupepe loses coal project to Rautenbach

February 24, 2009

By Our Correspondent

BULAWAYO - Government has scuttled two multi-million dollar coal-mining and
electricity generating projects planned by a consortium of indigenous
business people in partnership with an Indian company and awarded the
project to one of Zanu-PF's major financiers.

Under the proposals, Fumana Energy Private Limited led by Bulawayo
businessman, Delma Lupepe says it would have partnered an investor from
India to inject capital into the power station upgrade in partnership with a
consortium comprising the Matabeleland Development Association and
individual business people.

The two projects estimated to cost US$600 million and US$400 million
respectively to implement would have broken Hwange Colliery Company long
held monopoly in coal mining and Zimbabwe Power Corporation (ZPC) in power

According to the Fumana proposal, both entities lack the capacity to
mobilise funds needed to invest in upgrading power and coal supplies for
increased generation and initiate other downstream industries from coal

It is claimed that the proposed Fumana project would have witnessed the
opening up of coalfield in Hwange district and coal-bed methane in the
Lupane Halfway area of Sinamatella where geological surveys have indicated
96 million tons of coal deposits await exploitation.

The Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) chief executive officer,
Engineer Benjamin Rafemoyo announced the power utility had entered into a
US$ 800 million deal with Conrad Bill Rautenbach a known Zanu-PF financier
on an identical project which Fumana had earlier proposed.

The Zimbabwe Times incorrectly reported that ZESA's partner was John
Bredenkamp, also a known Zanu PF financier.

South African-born Muller Conrad Rautenbach, otherwise known as Billy
Rautenbach, who was identified by the EU as financially supporting President
Robert Mugabe's government, fled in 1999 from South Africa, where he faced
charges of theft, bribery and fraud.

He has enjoyed the patronage of Mugabe since the 1990s. His company,
Ridgepoint Overseas Developments, which is registered in the British Virgin
Islands, has also been blacklisted by the EU.

Rautenbach was appointed by DRC President Laurent-Desire Kabila as the chief
executive of the state-owned mining company, Gecamines after Mobuto Sese
Seko, was ousted. His position at Gecamines was reportedly secured in direct
negotiations between Kabila and Zimbabwean political strongman, Emmerson
Mnangagwa, now the Minister of Defence, as payback for Zimbabwe's military

A UN Panel of Experts on the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources and
Other Forms of Wealth of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, reported
Rautenbach's  involvement in "a network of  Congolese and Zimbabwean
political, military and commercial interests [that] seeks to maintain its
grip on the main mineral resources - diamonds, cobalt, copper, germanium -
of the [DRC] Government-controlled area.

The report said the network had "transferred ownership of at least US$ 5
billion of assets from the state mining sector to private companies under
its control in the past three years, with no compensation or benefit for the
State treasury of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Among the Zimbabwean military-political elite allegedly involved in
plundering DRC resources the report named Rautenbach, Mnangagwa, Zimbabwe
Defence Force Commander, Retired  Gen Vitalis Zvinavashe, as well as his
family members, Air Marshal Perrence Shiri, Brig-Gen Sibusiso Moyo, and
Sidney Sekeramayi now State Security Minister. The names of all appear on
the EU sanctions list.

Sources close to the consortium of indigenous businesspeople in Bulawayo say
Fumana had applied for a concession which falls under the Ministry of Lands
and Land Resettlement, but Minister Didymus Mutasa  had given preference to
a belated application by Rautenbach because of his Zanu-PF connections.

The Western Area Coalfields was allocated to ZPC, but the stipulated period
to develop the coalfields has since elapsed before the power utility
undertook any tangible work on the concession. It is highly unlikely that
ZPC would make any meaningful development of a mine in five to seven years.

On the other hand Hwange Colliery Company (HCC), which is also vying for the
same coalfield has neither the production capacity nor the financial
resources to develop a mine in the short term.

The project envisages providing thermal coal to Hwange Power Station Stage 3
which Hwange Colliery Company is unlikely able to support under its current
performances that has resulted in coal shortages both for industrial and
agricultural as well as for domestic use. Fumana Energy also envisioned
mining coking for internal markets such as the Zimbabwe Iron and Steel
Company (ZISCO), Zimbabwe Alloys and Zimasco as well as for export while
providing general purpose coal to support agricultural and domestic needs.

According to the project blueprint, mining coal-bed methane which has a
myriad of other applications such as petrochemicals and fertilizers would
buttress foreign currency generation through exports. Fumana CEO, Lupepe in
June last year said in a letter to President Mugabe the project would bring
economic development to the Matabeleland region, increase foreign currency
inflows through the export of coking coal and increase employment.

"We think that this is a unique opportunity for Zimbabwe to demonstrate its
ability to address the current challenges being faced, through a joint
venture partnership 'that empowers the people of Zimbabwe, retains national
ownership while increasing the country's electricity generation capacity"
part of the letter says.

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Soldiers Meet Journalists

MASVINGO, February 25 2009 - The Zimbabwe National Army has invited
journalists working for both the public and independent media to a one day
familiarisation workshop.

The invitations were extended by Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA)
headquarters, 4 Brigade's commander, Brigadier Albios Mtisi.

Of late the army has been in the media for wrong reasons. There have
been numerous stories about soldiers vandalising, looting property and
terrorising the public as a result of delayed or inadequate salaries. A
number of soldiers have deserted the army and fled to neighbouring countries
citing poor salaries and hunger in the barracks.

In the past two weeks, soldiers have been accused of carrying out a
spate of robberies in and around Masvingo. Some of the soldiersreportedly
robbed patrons USd 1 000 at Chigudu and Sarudzai nightclubs in the city last
week, and tried to resist arrest. They were only arrested after the police
set their vicious dogs upon them.

In another incident, two absentee soldiers who had stolen a rifle with
several rounds of ammunition, were arrested in Chiredzi after a series of
carjackings and rampant Rhino poaching.

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Holding to account

Like Leonard Matsa, I have my misgivings about this deal and its new
government. One of the challenges will be how to measure the success or
failure of a government where so much decision making may be based on
mistrust and rivalry.

For example, last week Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai started asking for
donor support to rebuild Zimbabwe. He estimates it may take USD 5 billion.
On Monday, donors pledged USD 100 million / month for 6 months - largely to
pay civil servants and to rebuild Zimbabwe's sewage system.  On Tuesday,
this story the same donor called this story as a fabrication.

So USD 600 million may or may not be pouring into Zimbabwe any time soon.
But either way, this possibility alone raised several questions for me and
my colleague when we were talking about accountability yesterday, such as:

  1.. What about the other USD 4.4 billion? Where will that come from?
  2.. If it doesn't come, how do we judge the performance of ministries?
  3.. If a ministry is in part responsible for its own fundraising, will
those whose Ministers are members of Zanu PF be penalised by some donors? If
so, who is to blame if that Ministry performs poorly?
  4.. Into what accounts would that USD 600 million go? How would these
accounts be monitored, and that spending tracked?
  5.. Will the new Finance Minister submit a new 2009 Budget to Parliament?
  6.. If a Minister fundraises for her own Ministry, is this money added to
that Ministry's budget allocation, or will the money budgeted to that
Ministry instead be diverted to ministries that didn't fund raise for
In Zimbabwe, we've become very used to a polarised analysis of "regime" and
"opposition," in which the two separate entities can be analysed and judged.
Now that the two are working together, the task of monitoring government,
and measuring its successes and failures in delivering on its promises to us
is no less important - and even more challenging.

This entry was posted on February 25th, 2009 at 8:55 am by Amanda Atwood

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