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Zanu PF’s Fight Over Diamonds

Saturday, 09 January 2010 19:16

INTENSE infighting within Zanu PF over control of the Marange diamonds
stalled the planned sale of diamonds on Thursday and is frustrating proper
mining operations of the precious mineral, sources told The Standard last

This was compounded by the fact that Mbada Diamonds, a joint operation
between government and Grandwell Holdings of South Africa, failed to meet
conditions stipulated by the Kimberley Certification Process, the global
diamond regulatory body, before the planned sale.

The sources said the battle for control of the Marange diamonds pits
factions aligned to retired Army General Solomon Mujuru and Emmerson
Mnangagwa, the Minister of Defence.

The two camps are already embroiled in a bitter decade-long battle to
succeed ageing President Robert Mugabe (85) as leader of the party and the

Last week Mbada announced the proposed auction of the first 300 000 carats
of the precious Marange mineral but this flopped spectacularly after it
turned out proper procedures had not been followed.

Although government, which is also a shareholder in Mbada, had been informed
about the auction, Secretary for Mines and Mining Development Thankful
Musukutwa said the auction had been stopped until the correct laid-down
process was followed.

He said Mbada should have involved the Minerals Marketing Corporation of
Zimbabwe, ZRP Minerals Unit and the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development
in the process.

But announcing the diamond auction on Wednesday, Mbada chairman Robert
Mhlanga claimed government was involved in the whole process.

“The entire process from mining, transportation to marketing is being done
in compliance to the requirements of the Kimberley Process,” he said.

“The sales and marketing offices are jointly manned and controlled by teams
from both government and Mbada Diamonds,” he said.

Mhlanga, a former air vice-marshal, has close links with Mugabe. He was one
of the first black pilots to fly Zimbabwe’s only ruler since Independence.

Sources said the auction was stopped after officials from the faction
aligned to Mujuru took advantage of the failure by Mbada to follow laid down

The Mujuru faction, said one of the sources, wants to wrest control of the
Marange diamonds from the faction aligned to Mnangagwa whose key figures are
associated with the companies mining in the controversial area.  Mnangagwa
is acting Minister of Mines.

The Mujuru faction, said another source, is also querying how Mbada – a
company hurriedly registered late last year - got the tender to mine
diamonds in Chiadzwa ahead of already “existing and reputable” mining firms.

The source said Mnangagwa’s faction is said to be sympathetic to Mbada’s
mission to ensure proper mining operations at Chiadzwa, where diamonds worth
millions of dollars were looted by senior politicians before ordinary
Zimbabweans invaded the area.

Mhlanga dismissed allegations that he was aligned to any politician saying:
“I am not aligned to politicians, MDC, Zanu PF or Mavambo. I am my own man.”

He said it was time the diamonds benefited the country and the people of
Marange instead of politicians.

However, sources said, some politicians loyal to the Mujuru faction – who
had been in control of mining operations at Chiadzwa before the
normalisation of mining in the area-- were determined to derail the project.

“It is the fight for political control of Zanu PF that has spilled over to
the control of the diamonds,” said one of the sources. “Each faction knows
that the diamonds are the country’s lifeblood so they both want to control
the precious stones.

“Mbada officials made the mistake of not going by the book and their
adversaries took advantage of that to throw spanners in the works.”

A Mbada official last week said their controversial reallocation of the
mining claims owned by a British company, African Consolidated Resources
(ACR) had saved the situation as politicians were plundering the resources.

This is not the first time that Mbada has been stopped in its tracks.

Last month, the Environment Management Authority (EMA) ordered the company
to stop mining operations saying Mbada had contravened the Environmental
Management Act [20:27].

Mines Minister Obert Mpofu declined to comment saying: “I am on leave.”

Efforts to get comments from Mujuru, Mnangagwa and the Deputy Minister of
Mines Murisi Zwizwai were unsuccessful yesterday.

As the fight for the control of diamond rages on, ACR has warned
international diamond traders against buying germs from the Marange diamond
field, saying they were “stolen”.

ACR holds right of title to claims on the Marange diamond field that was
seized by the government in October 2006 and reallocated to ZMDC.

“Those are our diamonds. Anyone buying them must know that they are trading
in stolen diamonds. We are placing an advert in the press to that effect,”
ACR lawyer Jonathan Samkange said after Mbada announced it would be
auctioning the first 300 000 carats of Marange diamonds.

The government also seized considerable quantities of diamonds from ACR but
was last year ordered by the High Court to return the diamonds to the
British company.

The court also upheld ACR’s right of title to Marange - in a judgment
government is contesting.

Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) has demanded the
immediate establishment of an independent investigating committee that would
report to Parliament to undertake an audit of the firms currently mining at

ZLHR said Zimbabwe has not met the standards set up by the KCP for it to
start mining the diamonds.


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Mutasa, Muchinguri Lock Horns Over Farm Seizure

Saturday, 09 January 2010 19:06

ZANU PF's women's league leader, Oppah Muchinguri, tried to block  Minister
of State for Presidential Affairs, Didymus Mutasa from violently taking over
one of the most productive farms in Manicaland in what is seen as widening
divisions in the party over the continuing land invasions.

Mutasa allegedly threatened Rusape tobacco farmer Gavin Woest with death if
he tried to resist the takeover of his Masasa Farm by Agatha Mugomba on
January 2, according to the Commercial Farmers' Union (CFU).

The CFU yesterday said Woest who has been at the farm for the past 50 years
had initially tried to resist eviction and wrote a letter to the Joint
Monitoring and Implementation Committee (Jomic) seeking protection.

But after continued threats by Mutasa and Zanu PF militia camped at the
farm, the farmer and his family eventually left, abandoning his farm
equipment and unharvested tobacco crop.

The CFU said Woest was first tipped off about the impending takeover on
Christmas Eve while helping another farmer Ray Finaughty of nearby Manda
Farm to pack up his belongings after he was given three hours to vacate his

On December 29 three youths arrived at the farm and informed them they were
taking over the property. The youths then ordered all workers to stop work.

The following day a Jomic team that included Muchinguri arrived at the farm
and tried to intervene.

"During the talks, Ms Oppah Muchinguri was harassed by the three youths,"
the CFU said.

"A silver Toyota Prado approached the scene. Mr Didymus Mutasa got out of
the vehicle and greeted everyone present.

"Talks between him, the Jomic delegation and us continued for a while.

"The talks became heated, at which stage Mr Mutasa proceeded towards his
vehicle to leave," reads the letter written to CFU by Woest.

"Ms Muchinguri had a long discussion with Mr Mutasa after which he left.

"The delegation voiced their disappointment towards Mr Mutasa's way of
addressing the situation. They returned to Harare shortly after that. The
youths remained on the farm."

Yesterday Muchinguri confirmed visiting the farm but said she did not clash
with Mutasa who is also Zanu PF secretary for administration.

But she spoke against the ongoing takeover of productive farms by Zanu PF
militants across the country.
"As Jomic it is our role to investigate cases such as these and our role is
to ensure that economic activities at farms are not disrupted," she said.

"I went to the farm under Jomic to see how best the situation could be
resolved because we were informed there was a lot of activity on the farm.

"So as Jomic we do not support any disruptions that cause economic

She said she called Mutasa to the farm to discuss the situation which was
getting out of hand.

Muchinguri has been at loggerheads with the Zanu PF leadership in the
province following her audacious bid to topple Vice-President Joice Mujuru
ahead of the party's congress last month.

The women's league boss embarrassed Mujuru in polls in Masvingo but failed
to garner the same support in nine other provinces.

Mutasa was not available for comment yesterday.

Meanwhile, CFU president Deon Theron said white commercial farmers had grown
weary of the unending farm disruptions despite the new political

He said the invasions were also militating against Zimbabwe's efforts to
attract foreign investors.

"The disrespect of property rights, court rulings and signed Bilateral
Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements and the selective application
of the rule of law also contribute to the unwillingness by investors to get
involved in Zimbabwe, thereby hindering the recovery process," he said.

"As much as 80% of former prime land now lies uncultivated and thousands of
farms are derelict.

"Up to 60 000 workers and their families have been displaced, many of whom
were assaulted or tortured by militants."


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Sadc Wants GNU Talks Concluded Soon

Saturday, 09 January 2010 19:01

SOUTHERN African Development Community (Sadc) ministers have expressed
disquiet over the slow pace at which Zanu PF and the MDC formations are
moving to resolve issues threatening their 11-month-old unity government.
The three governing parties have been engaged in Sadc-brokered talks since
March 2007 to tackle a litany of disputes centred on Zimbabwe's decade-old
economic and political crisis.

The talks led to the successful formation of a unity government last
February, but divisive issues came to the fore after a couple of months, and
subsequently led to Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's MDC-T partially
disengaging from Zanu PF government ministers last October.

The party rejoined its partners in November after Sadc leaders intervened
and called for another round of talks to resolve what the party called
"outstanding issues".

Instead of resolving the few items referred to them by Sadc, the negotiators
kept on adding new items, enlarging the list to the extent that the talks
could not be concluded before the end of the year.

Mozambican Foreign Affairs Minister Oldemiro Baloi, who last year led a team
of foreign affairs ministers from the countries that make up the Sadc organ
on politics, defence and security, on Friday said they were unhappy with the
pace of the talks.

Baloi spoke to journalists in Maputo after ministers from Angola, Mozambique
and Zambia received a report from South African President Jacob Zuma's
facilitation team on the Zimbabwe negotiations at their meeting on Thursday.

The meeting had also been convened to prepare for the African Union summit
and to discuss the situation in the region's hotspots, namely the DRC,
Zimbabwe and Madagascar.

"With regards to the pace of negotiations (in Zimbabwe) and the pace of
events, nobody is happy," reports quoted Baloi saying. "We want the talks to
conclude as soon as possible."

The talks are set to resume on Saturday in Harare after a three-week break
for the festive season.

Zanu PF negotiator Nicholas Goche said he was not sure of the exact date of
the resumption of the talks, as he was on leave.

He referred questions to his colleague Patrick Chinamasa, who was not
immediately available.

It is understood that the parties are still poles apart on such issues as
the appointment of Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono and Attorney-General
Johannes Tomana, equitable sharing of provincial governorships, cabinet
roles and sanctions.

Sources said there had been no movement on these issues.

Yesterday, the MDC-T secretary-general Tendai Biti confirmed there were
still "major outstanding issues" which had to be resolved if there was to be
"genuine power-sharing".

"The position is still as it was expressed by the principals at the end of
last year," said Biti.



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Senior Court Official Nabbed for Helping Criminals Escape

Saturday, 09 January 2010 18:31

A senior clerk of court at the Harare magistrates' courts has been arrested
for allegedly assisting dangerous criminals escape from custody using fake
bail orders. Shylet Tafirenyika was arrested on Christmas' Eve and will
appear in court on January 14.

It is alleged that Tafirenyika was involved in the bail scam in which eight
notorious armed robbers were released using fraudulent bail orders.

The suspects were arrested for robbing banks, stealing cars and other
related offences.

The scam was discovered after repeat offenders Clever Nengomasha, Emmerson
Mutevera, Arnold Kwarira, Shepherd Mhizha, Fanuel Muchineripi, Ernest
Chikate, Tawanda Mandudzo and Brighton Chagara were released on bail.

Although denied bail by the High Court, all the suspects somehow obtained
what appeared to be authentic release documents with a stamp from the High
Court and a signature of the criminal registrar.

But the plot unravelled when a relative of another suspected robber, Caesar
Chandakada Garapo who was still in custody, took a fake bail order to the
magistrates' court to try and secure Garapo's release.

Apparently a prosecutor from the Attorney-General (AG)'s office who was
present when Garapo was denied bail at the High Court was at the magistrates'
courts when the relative tried to secure Garapo's release.

He became suspicious and called the Director of Public Prosecution, Florence
Ziyambi, asking whether Garapo was granted bail.

Garapo's relatives were allegedly tipped off that their plot had been
discovered and they vanished from the courts.

Police have also arrested two ex-convicts who are suspected to have been
part of the scam.

Magistrate Lazarus Simbi remanded David Mwanjeya and George Simbi in custody
to January 12.

The court heard that Murendo and Mwanjeya obtained a High Court bail release
order lawfully issued to Cainmore Ngorima and used it as a specimen copy.

They also used a stolen High Court stamp.

The two would demand US$300 to process the fake bail orders.

So far two robbers, Arnold Kwarira and Ernest Chikate, have been arrested.

They were remanded in custody to January 13 but their six accomplices are
still on the run.

Ziyambi told The Standard soon after the scandal came to light last month
that they feared more criminals could have escaped from custody using the
same trick.

"We recently discovered that there are fake bail orders circulating, we are
investigating the issue and we believe that there are some people at the
High Court who were conniving with the criminals to issue those fake bail
orders," she said.

"The AG's office is now taking measures to ensure that nothing like that
ever happens again."


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Kaseke, Promoter in row Over 2010 Project

Saturday, 09 January 2010 18:24

THE Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) is embroiled in a row with a local
music promoter over an HIV and Aids awareness project that was proposed to
tap into the excitement created by the Fifa World Cup soccer finals in South
Africa in June. The project would involve a musical gala pitting regional
musicians to be held at a major local tourist attraction with the aim of
spreading HIV and Aids awareness messages ahead of the global soccer
showcase expected to attract more than one million people to the region.

But the project has become a bone of contention between Hillary Chitapi, who
proposed it, and the tourism authority.

Chitapi is accusing ZTA boss Karikoga Kaseke of trying to elbow him out of
the programme so that he can benefit from the spin-offs.

According to various documents to hand, ZTA and other associates such as the
National Aids Council and the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe had approved
the idea and expressed willingness to work towards the success of the

Chitapi says his sources had informed him that ZTA intended to hijack his
project while a former official with the authority had openly told him that
he was not qualified to handle such a major project.

"After numerous futile efforts to discuss the progress of the project with
ZTA, I met Paul Matamisa (then ZTA's 2010 projects co-ordinator) and he told
me not to come back to the offices because I was not fit to spearhead such a
major project," Chitapi said.

Matamisa has since left ZTA but an official at the 2010 projects office said
she knew about the project.
She refused to give further information since she is not allowed to speak to
the press.

ZTA public relations manager Sugar Chagonda professed ignorance about the
project, referring questions to his bosses.

Kaseke was said to be in South Africa on business while chief operations
officer Givemore Chidzidzi was not answering calls to his mobile phone

But documents to hand indicate that there had been communication between
Chitapi, NAC, NACZ and ZTA over the project until around November last year.

Minutes of a meeting between NAC, ZTA and the Swedish International
Development Agency (Sida) on 2010 World Cup and Cosafa tournaments held on
September 10, 2009 indicate that Chitapi's project was on the agenda.

Chitapi says ZTA had been co-operating until he submitted the final project

"I suspect they want to hijack my project.

"They appeared so nice before I handed the project proposal.

"Now that they have it, they have become evasive and I have lost a lot of
money travelling from my home in Shurugwi on numerous occasions yet there is
no progress."

He claims that he spoke to Tourism minister Walter Mzembi and Environment
minister Francis Nhema about the issue to no avail.

The ministers were not immediately available for comment yesterday. Kaseke
has been sucked into countless controversial projects ostensibly meant to
spruce up Zimbabwe's battered image.

They include the discredited Miss Rural that was run by Sipho Mazibuko, the
Miss Tourism finals and the invitation of top artistes from the United
States to visit Zimbabwe at great expense to the taxpayer.


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Holiday Makers Stranded

Saturday, 09 January 2010 18:22

JOHANNESBURG - It never rains but pours for hundreds of Zimbabweans who work
in South Africa. After all the partying and excessive spending during the
Christmas and New Year holidays at home, hundreds of the Zimbabweans known
as Injiva are still stranded at Beitbridge border post after South African
immigration officers confiscated and destroyed their travel documents.

On New Year's Eve, South African immigration officers with the help of state
police launched a crackdown against foreign nationals in possession of
fraudulently acquired SA passports.

While at the border on the way to Johannesburg this reporter witnessed
immigration officers and police confiscating passports from Zimbabweans who
were in possession of South African passports.

Those whose passports were confiscated were told to return to Zimbabwe. But
on arrival at the Zimbabwe side of the border, officers there refused to
accept them.

Zimbabwean immigration officials said they could not accept their own people
because they were holders of South African passports. They in turn sent them
back to the South African side, effectively rendering them stateless. Some
of the Zimbabweans whose passports were confiscated were seen milling around
the no man's land.

Others tried unsuccessfully to negotiate with the South African immigration
officers to return their passports. This reporter also watched the
immigration officers tearing what they called "fake passports" they seized
from the Zimbabweans.

Some Zimbabweans who were being transported by Omalayitsha - human
smugglers, managed to pass through official check points at Beitbridge only
to be stopped and arrested at a roadblock manned by both immigration and
police officers at Mkhomeni near Musina town.

Mkhomeni has become notorious as a place where border jumpers on their way
into South Africa are intercepted and arrested

"We have so far confiscated fake passports from 200 Zimbabweans," said one
immigration officer. He told this journalist that the operation against
foreigners in possession of South African passports would continue for
several weeks until "all bogus south African citizens were flushed out".


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Residents Outraged by Shocking Zesa Bills Rile Kuwadzana Residents

Saturday, 09 January 2010 17:10

AFTER spending the greater part of last year without electricity, residents
of Kuwadzana were last week incensed by the power utility's audacity to
serve them bills for a service not rendered. Residents of Kuwadzana 5 last
week said they last received uninterrupted power in June last year before a
transformer in the area developed a fault.

Since then, the residents have been forced to part with their hard-earned
cash buying firewood, paraffin and candles.

It was only in mid-December, that Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority
(Zesa) employees were spotted in the area attending to the transformer.
Their efforts did not bring any joy because just after a day, the area was
again plunged into darkness, ostensibly because the transformer did not have

The residents said they again saw Zesa workers on New Year's Eve. Power was
restored for only 10 minutes.

One of the affected residents, Viola Mafukidze, was excited when supplies
were reconnected. She hoped that they could now prepare food for New Year's

"Our joy was shortlived," she said on Thursday.

"We did not even boil water for a cup of tea. This time they (Zesa workers)
said the problem was with the cables."

After the New Year power heartbreak, Mafukidze and other residents were last
week shocked when they began receiving astronomical Zesa bills for
electricity they did not consume.

"I received a bill of US$300 for a service not delivered," Mafukidze said.

"On lodging a complaint with Zesa, I was advised to bring my own meter

"But I found that a bit mischievous considering that Zesa employees are
always here reading meters that I have on several occasions asked them why
they bother to read meters for a non - existent service."

Other residents in Kuwadzana got bills ranging from US$500 to US$800.

Bills sent to the residents show that the amounts are based on estimates,
something Zesa promised to stop last year as it claimed it now had the
capacity to charge customers according to actual consumption.

Another Kuwadzana resident, Joshua Bvumbura, said he regrets paying for
electricity in advance as all the money was used when no service was
rendered for his family.

"I paid $100 to Zesa sometime in June and I feel I wasted my hard-earned
money," he said.
"This month, they sent me a bill amounting to $26 showing all that money has
been exhausted and they  want more yet I am not receiving any service."

The residents initially thought that the power cuts were part of Zesa's
load-shedding exercise, but now say they are worried that this seemed to be
taking longer than in other areas.

They are also concerned that with the rains they are forced to make fire

Alternative sources of energy were also expensive especially for households
which do not generate much income, they said.

"We do not understand why it is taking them so long to fix the problem,"
Tendai Cheza said.

"They once asked us to dig trenches for poles for overhead cables along
Bulawayo road but nothing has been done despite us having dug the trenches
long back."

Some landlords said they were meeting payment for the bills as they could
not justify the expense to their tenants.
Responding to the outcry over bills, acting Zesa spokesman, Shepherd
Mandizvidza said: "In the event that some amounts reflected on the bills are
erroneous, adjustments are done accordingly.

"Customers should also be aware that ZETDC (the Zimbabwe Electricity
Transmission and Distribution Company) does not charge them for electricity
that has not been consumed and to that effect, when a meter is not moving, a
customer is not charged except for fixed costs."

He acknowledged that electricity supplies to Kuwadzana had been adversely
affected "by vandalism and theft, which resulted in the drainage of oil from
a transformer and they had been without service for about four months".

He said a new transformer had been secured and "will shortly be connected".


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Furore Over Awarding of US Scholarships

Saturday, 09 January 2010 17:07

THE United States Embassy in Harare last week moved swiftly to calm a storm
that has been brewing for months over the embassy's alleged discriminatory
award of scholarships. Over the last few months, activists mostly from
Matabeleland have been exchanging emails over the alleged discrimination of
students from the region in the awarding of scholarships for less privileged
students to study in the US.

Some of the activists even wrote to Rebecca Zeigler-Mano, the Education
Advisor at the US Embassy in Harare.

In one of the emails, Faith Dube reiterated the need to redefine the
selection of students so that it benefits "under privileged brilliant
students" from the region.

UK-based Zimbabwean academic and activist Brilliant Mhlanga said there was
"a clear case of marginalisation" in the awarding of scholarships.

"While I wholly accept that people from Matabeleland also have a duty to
ensure that they come up with development focused programmes to assist
disadvantaged children in the region, it is my contention that last year's
process of awarding those 17 scholarships was flawed, and I personally could
not pretend everything had been down above board and correctly, when the
truth spoke for itself," wrote Mhlanga.

The activists cited last year's awarding of 17 scholarships to American
colleges and universities, which they said excluded students from

The students were sponsored through the United States Student Achievers'
Programme (USAP), an educational initiative of the US Embassy to assist
highly-talented, economically-disadvantaged high school students to access
higher education opportunities in the United States offered by top colleges
and universities.

On Friday, the US Embassy's Public Affairs Officer Tim Gerhardson dismissed
the complaints, saying they did not have any quotas for ethnic distribution
of scholarships.

"Each year, the Embassy receives more than 450 applications from Upper Sixth
'A' level students for the 30 places available on the programme from
throughout Zimbabwe," Gerhardson said.

He said selection of students was strictly on the basis of academic
excellence, demonstrated leadership potential, ethos of giving back to their
community and economic disadvantage, regardless of one's tribal background.

"We do not set quotas for geographic or ethnic distribution but seek the
students who meet all four of our criteria.

"Neither do we discriminate on the basis of race, ethnicity, ancestry, sex,
religion, age or disability nor use these criteria in our selection."

In an earlier response to Ndabezinhle Ndlovu on the same subject last
Thursday, Zeigler-Mano said: "Despite doing lots of outreach to schools in
Matabeleland, we simply do not get very many applicants that can compete
with those from other regions."

But Mhlanga insisted the criteria had to be revised so that the selection
process has special considerations for students from rural Matabeleland,
than to lump them together with their counterparts from Bulawayo.

Last week, some of the beneficiaries of the programme who are currently in
the country on vacation took time to share their experiences studying in the

In a Food for Thought session, "Tell it Like it is", which was organized by
the Embassy, the students shared how the scholarships had transformed them
into people of excellence.

"The education system builds a person of excellence in and outside the
classroom," said Mutsa Mutembwa (20), a Mathematics and Economics major at
Indiana University.

The same sentiments were shared by Tawanda Tasikani (20), who is studying at
Amherst College, who said they are "built to be someone who is curious about
the world and wants to know more".


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Another Poor Farming Season Looms

Saturday, 09 January 2010 17:04

FROM the edge of her sorghum field, a dejected Beatrice Munazvo surveys the
wilting crop, her eyes welling with tears. The 52-year-old communal farmer
from Gudyanga area in Chimanimani district has neither the energy nor the
zeal to tour the whole field where the crop has virtually collapsed in the
early morning heat.

"I don't know what to do," she laments. "I used all I had hoping for a
bumper harvest. I don't have any more money to buy seed to replant."

In the past five years Munazvo, who takes care of her three orphaned
grandchildren, has been able to harvest barely enough to feed the whole

Currently she receives supplementary food from Christian Care Zimbabwe, a
charitable organisation that assists disadvantaged families in drought-prone
areas in the country.

"If we don't get seed now it would mean more and more families might need
food aid here and it would also mean we would get reduced rations," she

Councillor for Ward 20 in Chimanimani Zekias Nhachi said most households in
the area had not been able to plant any crops because there was no rain.

Apart from that most villagers did not have access to farming inputs in

"Unfortunately, crops of those who managed to get seed and were able to
plant have wilted because of the scorching heat.

"There has not been any rain for the past month," Nhachi said, adding that
more people in the area would soon need food aid.

Agricultural experts said the crop situation remains precarious countrywide
although after a prolonged dry spell most parts of the country received
rains last week.

Former Grain Marketing Board (GMB) general manager Renson Gasela said
Zimbabwe is facing another disastrous agricultural season because of erratic
rains and poor planning by government.

Most communal farmers have not been able to plant because there is no seed
and fertiliser in the shops.

In areas where inputs are available, they are beyond the reach of the
ordinary communal farmers who are still battling to access foreign currency
following the dollarisation of the economy early last year.

Gasela, a renowned farmer, said in some parts of Manicaland, Masvingo, the
Midlands as well as Matabeleland North and South seed failed to germinate
because of poor rains.

Those farmers that were lucky to see their seed germinate now have to watch
helplessly as their crops wilt in the scorching heat.

"We are faced with another disastrous agricultural season," says Gasela.
"But it's a combination of human and climatic factors that are causing this

His assessment was corroborated by a senior Agricultural Research and
Extension Services (Agritex) officer in Harare who said that the situation
was "extremely bad" because the crops were exposed to a prolonged dry spell
soon after germination in most parts of the country.

"Manicaland is hardest hit but the situation is equally bad in Masvingo and
Matabeleland provinces although rains are falling now.

"For some crops, it's a little too late, the only way out is for farmers to
replant," said the officer.

The officer said in some parts of the Midlands the maize crop that was at
fertilisation stage was destroyed by a cold spell that hit the province.

Gasela claims that some of the fertiliser that GMB distributed to farmers
was of "inferior quality" and would result in reduced yields.

The fertiliser was imported from South Africa, he said.

"Compound D that was distributed by GMB was of inferior quality and many
farmers are complaining about it," says Gasela. "I bought that fertiliser
myself and my crops are not looking good while those of my neighbour who
bought locally manufactured fertiliser are looking fantastic."

Farmers who spoke to The Standard last week also complained that the US$210
million government loan facility that was availed to them came late.

As a result, they said, they failed to buy seed and fertiliser on time.

"Most of us will not be able to pay back the money because this is another
bad season.

"Remember the loan must be repaid by June this year," said one farmer who
requested anonymity.

GMB public relations officer Joseph Katete had not responded to questions by
the time of going to print.

Head of forecasting at the Meteorological Services Department, Tich
Zinyemba, said unfavourable atmospheric conditions had been largely
responsible for reduced rainfall activity across the country.

"Against this backdrop, the chances of meaningful rains were diminished
especially in Masvingo, Manicaland and parts of Matabeleland South during
this period," said Zinyemba.

"However, Mashonaland provinces, parts of Midlands and Matabeleland North
had some good rains up to date."

He said projections suggest that rainfall activity will continue in much of
northern Zimbabwe.

However, he said, for southern Zimbabwe weather conditions were likely to be
dominated by reduced rainfall activity.

"From the meteorological angle, we have begun the second half of the season,
thus all things being equal the season ends in March/April.

"Farmers are encouraged to work hand in hand with Agritex and plan their
activities," Zinyemba said.

Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers' Union (ZCFU) president Wilson Nyabonda said it
was too early to forecast whether there would be a food deficit or not.

But if farmers heeded the union's advice to grow crops suitable to their
regions the country would not experience food shortages, he said.

"We know the southern parts of the country might have a deficit but they can
be covered by food from the northern region, which is the food-producing
region in the country," Nyabonda said.

The Commercial Farmers' Union (CFU) has already forecast a poor agricultural
season, citing continued invasion of white-owned commercial farms, shortages
of seed and fertiliser.

For the past decade Zimbabwe has been experiencing serious food shortages
precipitated mainly by the violent seizures of commercial farms which began
in 2000.

During the last agricultural season, Zimbabwe - once the breadbasket of
southern Africa - only managed to produce a paltry 500 000 tonnes of maize
down from more than two million tonnes before the invasions.

As a result an estimated five million people were said to be surviving on
donor food for the greater part of this year.

The figures are likely to increase.


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Upsurge in Demand for Passports After SA clampdown

Saturday, 09 January 2010 16:56

WHILE long queues have always been the order of the day at the
Registrar-General's offices at Makombe Building in Harare, this year one
thing is striking about the queues: the unusually large number of people
speaking in South African street lingo. From their conversations it is clear
most of the youngsters queuing for passports and emergency travel documents
have at some point lived in South Africa.

Last Wednesday one would have mistakenly assumed that someone had grouped
the applicants according to where they lived in South Africa.

While most of them spoke in broken Zulu mixed with a whole lot of other
South African dialects - there were some who sounded fluent in such
languages as Xhosa, Sotho and Tswana.

But why are they applying for passports in such large numbers?

"When I arrived in South Africa, I bought an identity document from a
certain lady, Nelisiwe Mabuza from Umlazi (in KwaZulu Natal province)," said
Melody Ndlovu, who says she has lived in South Africa since 2003.

Ndlovu used the ID to write her Matric examinations, which she passed and
proceeded to college.

Since then she has lived and worked in South Africa as Nelisiwe Mabuza,
without any problems.

Her luck ran out when she tried to return to South Africa after the
Christmas holidays.

"When I arrived at the South African side of the border, one of the
officials asked where exactly in Umlazi I had done my primary school and who
the head was.

"I mentioned a certain school, and provided a name for a head. He apparently
called the province to check with their records, and the information did not

"Within moments, they had impounded my passport and I was deported."

She was not alone in that predicament. It was double trouble for those with
Zimbabwean passports.
After surviving the rigorous searches on the SA side, a number of them lost
it when they got to the Zimbabwean side.

After travelling close to 2 000km by road from Cape Town to Beitbridge, en
route to Harare, and after successfully completing the procedures on the
South African side of the border, Victor Tichapondwa had every reason to
celebrate that he was now home.

That excitement was short-lived.

Immigration authorities on the Zimbabwean side immediately suspected that he
was using a forged passport, and impounded it. "They told me that I was a
South African masquerading as a Zimbabwean," said Tichapondwa.

"They took my passport and demanded that I pay R200, which I did but still
did not get my passport back."

Ndlovu and Tichapondwa are among hundreds of Zimbabweans who were deported
from South Africa over the past two weeks following that country's clampdown
on foreigners using suspected fake documents.

An unusually large number of suspect South African passports were allegedly
detected at the border.

Those with ETDs acquired from Gweru and Bindura also got into trouble as
officials said documents obtained from the two cities were "fraudulent." It
is suspected that the documents were issued clandestinely by officials from
the RG's office.

Statistics on the number of people who have been applying for new travel
documents since the festive season were not immediately available from the
RG's office.

In the past failing to get a Zimbabwean travel document did not matter for
thousands of desperate job seekers who risked their lives by swimming across
the crocodile-infested Limpopo River to join the great trek.

But since South Africa scrapped visas for Zimbabwean visitors, many are now
choosing the legal route to cross the border.

Also a number of Zimbabweans who had migrated to South Africa illegally over
the years had also returned for the festive season and are now trying to
return with valid papers.

Officials at the Principal Immigration Office requested questions in
writing, but they had not responded at the time of going to press.

Co-Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi said he did "not want to speculate" on
the situation, and would only give details this week.

But his counterpart from the MDC-T, Giles Mutsekwa said they had since
resolved the issue of the Gweru and Bindura-issued ETDs, and had since
engaged the South African authorities on the inconvenience faced by many

"We are still talking to our South African counterparts," Mutsekwa said.

"I am not sure if the situation at Makombe is a result of what happened
during the festive season.

"But it is a normal trend that at the beginning of the year there is an
increase in the numbers of people applying for passports."

Mutsekwa said they had set up temporary offices to process ETDs at
Beitbridge. He however would not confirm how many ETDs were processed at the
port, the busiest in Southern Africa.

Despite the new steep fees for passports and ETDs, getting the documents
remains a nightmare for most Zimbabweans.

Many impatient ones end up crossing illegally into South Africa, and
obtaining fraudulent documents.

This comes amid reports that the RG's office is still struggling to clear a
backlog of 78 355 passports.

SA Home Affairs spokesperson Siobhan McCarthy was recently quoted saying
they were coming across about 80 suspicious passports a day at the
Beitbridge  border post alone.


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ZMC: Still too Early to pop Champagne Corks

Saturday, 09 January 2010 16:49

JOURNALISTS and media organisations have cautiously welcomed the
announcement last month of members of the Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC),
saying "diametrically opposed viewpoints" could cause friction in the
commission, rendering it difficult for it to make any impact.

However, hopes are high in the media fraternity that the new commission will
expedite the registration of new media houses, and the return of newspapers
banned by its predecessor, the Media and Information Commission (MIC).

When the eight commissioners approved by President Robert Mugabe, Prime
Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara after
almost a year of haggling finally begin their work they will be confronted
by a long wish list from Zimbabwe's battered media community.

Zimbabwe National Editors' Forum chairperson Iden Wetherell said the ZMC
urgently needs to reform the public media.

"We have a scandalous situation where a so-called 'public media' misleads
the public about many crucial issues, including those currently under
discussion in the inter-party talks," he said.

"There is an element of dishonesty and deception in the public media; it's

"There is need to restore genuine public ownership so they play a useful
role in nation-building.

"For people to make informed choices at the polls," Wetherell said, "there
has to be not only media freedom but also media diversity."

He said the ZMC should also address the GPA provision requiring external
radio stations to return home and register. That would require the
government, he said, to give undertakings as to the safety of those
journalists returning from the Diaspora who have in the past been subject to

Andrew Moyse, the co-ordinator of the Media Monitoring Project of Zimbabwe
said the ZMC has to overcome the commissioners' different viewpoints.

"It is a bit of a mixed bag, but we understand because this is a product of
heavy compromises everywhere," he said.

"The commission might be paralysed by the diametrically opposing viewpoints
of the commissioners.
"The Zanu PF elements in the commission will resist reform."

Media Institute of Southern Africa Zimbabwe chapter chairperson Loughty Dube
said while they expected the commission to urgently implement media reforms,
they would continue with their push for self-regulation.

"We would have preferred a self-regulatory body which is not run by
politicians," Dube said.

"But of course we expect the ZMC to move henceforth and register new players
in the media.

"There are some questionable characters in the ZMC, but we view it as a
window of opportunity for the coming in of new media players."

Many journalists share the same expectation. They said the registration of
new media houses, likely to be among the milestones of the ZMC, will give
them more options and open new opportunities.

"We cannot expect much from the commission unless relevant changes are made
to Aippa, the law that provides its terms of reference," said former Daily
News staffer Oscar Nkala, now a free-lancer.

"As long as that guideline remains unaltered, the ZMC won't be any different
from the MIC. It will just be another rubberstamp organisation. They should
prioritise the registration of new media houses and create more choices for

ZMC commissioners were named last month, but it is still not clear when the
commission will start operating.

Last week, commission chairperson Godfrey Majonga would not give details
about their plans, or how they would address the concerns from different
media players saying he needed time.

But Deputy Minister of Media, Information and Publicity, Jameson Timba said
there were still a few issues that had to be addressed before the commission
is operationalised.

However, he could not say when this would take place.

For any commission to start operating there has to be enabling legislation
that defines its operations.
"The ZMC has a slight advantage because it is already defined in the Access
to Information and Protection of Privacy Act," Timba said.

"The only problem is that they do not have a chief executive officer to head
the secretariat.

"Their first task will be to sit down and work out the appointment of the

"It is now upon the commission to come up with criteria for the employment
of a CEO, advertise the position and hold interviews to choose the most
suitable person."

As head of the MIC, Tafataona Mahoso worked as executive chairman,
effectively making him a de facto CEO.

Timba said the ZMC would inherit the same secretariat that was being used by
the discredited MIC.

Japhet Mathanda Ncube, a Zimbabwean journalist now working in South Africa,
said Zimbabwe should have taken the self-regulation route. He said
government regulation would "take Zimbabwe back to the dark ages".

"We must be seen to move with the rest of the world in guaranteeing freedom
of speech and freedom of the press. A media commission has no place in a

The media must police itself, like we do here in South Africa where
government officials, politicians and the public can go to the Press
Ombudsman if they feel aggrieved by an article."


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Bank Official Sues Employer

Saturday, 09 January 2010 16:46

A FORMER Barclays Bank senior official who was recently acquitted of fraud
charges levelled against her by the multinational financial institution two
years ago is now claiming US$245 000 in damages following her incarceration.
Sibongile Mapungwana, who was the bank's communications and community
projects manager, was arrested in February 2008 for allegedly swindling the
bank of 2 500 British pounds and US$60 000.

It was the State's case that Mapungwana, who was based at the bank's head
office in Harare, received donations from Barclays Bank, United Kingdom, for
development projects, which she allegedly converted to her own use.

However, last month the Harare Magistrates' courts acquitted her of the

On Wednesday her lawyers wrote to the bank with a damages' claim totalling
US$245 000.

"In December, our client as you may by now know was acquitted after a full
trial as a consequence of the bank's action," reads part of the lawyers'

"Our client suffered emotional trauma, reputational damage and financial
loss over the past 21 months as a result of her unlawful detention and

Mapungwana wants US$50 000 as compensation for unlawful arrest and
detention, US$100 000 for defamation, US$70 000 for loss of income and US$25
000 for legal fees.

The lawyers advised that failure to respond to the demand within seven days
may see the parties going back to court.

Barclays' head of corporate affairs Valeta Mthimkhulu said: "Barclays
confirms that it has received correspondence from Sibongile Mapungwana's
lawyers in relation to the above-mentioned claim and we have responded
directly to them. Should they decide to proceed with the action, the matter
will be decided by the courts as is the case with all legal proceedings."

Meanwhile, Mapungwana has started writing a book detailing her experiences
during the 21 months of her fall from holding a prestigious position in the
bank to a "criminal".

Titled Barefoot, the emotionally-charged account starts with a simple line -
"How things can change so quickly and so drastically".

She details how one morning she "had a job, hope for the future, security
and all the luxuries that a management position in a bank could give", and
how quickly that changed with the criminal charges she faced.

Mapungwana also describes the poor conditions she and fellow inmates were
subjected to in the police cells, among them an unhygienic environment and
police brutality.


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ZRP, AG liabilities to GNU: MDC-T

Saturday, 09 January 2010 16:37

THE Movement for Democratic Change led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai
fears the refusal by the security forces and the Attorney-General's Office
to reform might torpedo the fledgling unity government, a confidential
annual report by the party has revealed. The secret report, which covers the
period between January and November 2009, says the MDC-T last year had to
deal with various "challenges" emanating from Zanu PF using the police,
military, the AG's office and the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO)
for partisan political purposes.

The Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP), says the report, teamed up with Zanu PF
loyalists in the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA), Zimbabwe Prison Services
(ZPS) and the CIO and created several hit squads that resulted in the
disappearance of MDC-T activists and human rights defenders.

In the report the police and the AG's office are named as being at the
forefront of the persecution of MDC-T supporters thereby threatening the
survival of the coalition government.

"These two government arms, the ZRP and AG's office are liabilities to this
GNU since it is clear that they withhold their services when some sections
of the community call for them," says the report.

Both Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri and Attorney-General
Johannes Tomana are self-confessed Zanu PF supporters.

The deliberate withdrawal of services by the police against such people as
farmers, human rights defenders and MDC-T activists caused an escalation in
violation of human rights across the country, notes the report seen by The

President Robert Mugabe's Zanu PF and the two MDC formations signed the
Global Political Agreement (GPA) in 2008 leading to the formation a unity
government in February last year.

However, operations of the GNU have been bogged down by endless disputes
that include the appointment of Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono, Tomana,
provincial governors and the swearing in of Roy Bennett as Deputy Minister
of Agriculture.

The rehabilitation of the partisan security sector would be among the top
issues on the agenda when the ongoing inter-party talks on outstanding
issues of the GPA resume next week, sources close to the negotiations said
last week.

The report says several MDC members were "arrested" by Zanu PF which was
"using the services of the police or rather the ZRP was acting as its

Most of those who were arrested were charged with violations of the Criminal
Law (Codification and Reform) Act, the draconian Access to Information and
Protection of Privacy Act, Public Order and Security Act, and Miscellaneous
Offences Act.

Among those who were arrested and kept in secret locations for a long time
are human rights activist and Zimbabwe Peace Project director Jestina
Mukoko, MDC-T director of security Chris Dhlamini and Tsvangirai's advisor
Gandhi Mudzingwa.

The MDC-T does not see a thawing of the tense working relations with Zanu PF
in the near future as hardliners in the liberation war party appear
determined to wreck the unity government.

"There are no indications to exhibit a shift from that kind of behaviour by
Zanu PF as will be seen in the manner Gwezere's case was handled and the
attempted kidnapping of Edith Mashaire in October," says the report.

Mashaire works in the party's administration department.

The MDC-T says Pascal Gwezere, the party's transport manager, who is on
trial for allegedly stealing 20 AK 47 rifles from Pomona Army Barracks in
Harare, is facing trumped up charges.

It also adds that the AG's office openly supported Zanu PF last year.

It says those detained were treated as guilty from the time of arrest,
remained so until proven innocent but still faced Section 21 of the Criminal
Procedure and Evidence Act which the state invoked whenever the courts
granted bail to MDC-T members.

"The actions of the AG's offices complemented the effects put in place by
Zanu PF via ZRP, ZNA, CIO and ZPS.

"Zanu PF had lost the harmonised elections in March 2008 and embarked on a
killing spree which left more than 200 MDC members dead, scores displaced in
the process."

In the whole political strategy to destroy the MDC-T, the report says, the
ZPS provided prison cells at places like the notorious Goromonzi Prison
where people were held without having gone to court as required by law.

Reacting to the report, police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Wayne
Bvudzijena said the force remained apolitical and only arrested people who
had committed crimes. "This is not the first time that this accusation has
been raised," he said.

"It's not the police who direct people to commit crimes and if people commit
crimes it's inevitable that they will be arrested.

"We arrested people who committed crimes, whether it was people from MDC -T,
Zanu PF or Mavambo is neither here nor there."

Efforts to get a comment from Tomana were fruitless but he is on record
saying his political affiliation does not affect his official duties.


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Crisis-hit ZUJ Opts for Fresh Polls

Saturday, 09 January 2010 16:35

THE Zimbabwe Union of Journalists' dirty linen will not be washed in the
courts after an executive controversially elected in December opted to stand
down, allowing for fresh elections to be held in February. The battle for
control of the ZUJ spilled into the courts in December after some members
who were prevented from taking part in the December 4 elections filed a High
Court application seeking nullification of the polls.

In court papers, the applicants said the elections were not only a sham, but
an affront to democracy.

"If journalists are to steal elections, then who will protect the public
when politicians then repeat the same feat?" wondered Godwin Mangudya in his
founding affidavit.

Mangudya, Frank Chikowore, Conrad Mwanawashe and Guthrie Munyuki were
represented by human rights lawyer Harrison Nkomo in the court action that
would have thrown the spotlight on serious allegations of vote-rigging and
cronyism that marred the ZUJ elections held outside Bulawayo.

The applicants said the elections, held at Entabeni Lodge near How Mine
outside Bulawayo, were fraudulent because the venue was kept secret to the
extent that some of the aspiring candidates only became aware of it after
the results had been announced.

Dumisani Sibanda of The Sunday News was voted the new president, taking over
from the long-serving Matthew Takaona, who landed a new position as

In his founding affidavit Mangudya, who was vying for the presidency cited,
among many irregularities, that the list of delegates (voters' roll) was
kept a closely guarded secret by Takaona who was the second respondent and
secretary-general Foster Dongozi (third respondent).

Chikowore who only got to the venue after following a vehicle that picked up
Takaona, said the congress that was scheduled to take three days, lasted
less than 30 minutes.

Third applicant, Mwanawashe who wanted to  become treasurer said Dongozi
told him that the congress would be held at Dandaro Lodge, which does not

Munyuki, the fourth applicant said he was keen to contest the ZUJ election
because he wanted to stop "rampant looting in the union and those that were
running it did not answer to my idea of professionalism".

The entire new ZUJ executive that includes Sibanda, Dongozi, Mercy Pote,
Michael Padera Chideme, Evince Mugumbate, Jennifer Dube, Valentine Maponga,
Godfrey Mutimba and Grail Kupakuwana were cited as respondents.

They were given 10 days to respond. On behalf of the new executive, Dongozi
filed a consenting affidavit in the High Court on December 29 that
effectively stopped the battle for the control of ZUJ from being fought in
the courts.

Dongozi however noted that by consenting, this did not mean that the
executive, whose tenure is the shortest in the history of the union, "had
stolen the election".

He said some of the allegations raised by the applicants were not only
"criminal" but "meant to cause alarm and despondency".

"The consent is being given in order to protect the image of the first
respondent (ZUJ). The first respondent has been able to survive on its good
image. Negative publicity will only scare away potential partners," he said.

He said ZUJ could not survive on member contributions but survived on

Contributing to the debate on the outcome of the December 4 elections,
Zimbabwe Independent Group Projects Editor Iden Wetherell said journalists
should not allow their squabbles to overshadow their need to be accountable
to the public.

"We have a more serious issue of accountability. It seems there has been a
departure from the norms that we expect of ourselves. We have to be
accountable to each other within our own ranks, and to the public," said
Wetherell, who is also the chairperson of the Zimbabwe National Editors'


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NAC Procures ARVs, CD4 Count Machines

Saturday, 09 January 2010 16:02

THE National Aids Council, under fire for holding onto funds collected
through the Aids Levy while hundreds of people in need of life-prolonging
drugs die prematurely, has bought Antiretroviral Drugs (ARVs) worth US$1,8
million to increase access to treatment, an official has said. NAC also
bought four CD4 cell count machines that will be given to Harare,
Parirenyatwa, Mpilo and United Bulawayo central hospitals using proceeds
from the Aids Levy.

In addition, the council procured about 150 000 HIV test kits which it
handed over to the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare on Wednesday.

NAC has also handed over about 9 000 test kits, 54 000 condoms and various
other support materials to the ministry that were sourced from the Aids
Health Care Foundation.

The organisation extended its support to Zimbabwe as part of its global
"Test Millions" campaign.

Handing over the drugs and other support materials to government last week,
NAC board vice-chairman, Dr Phineas Makurira said since the country switched
to multiple currencies, the levy had started making a "significant
contribution to the lives of people living with HIV".

"As you are all aware, the years 2007 and 2008 were punctuated by an
unfriendly economic environment with very high levels of inflation,"
Makurira said.

"As a result the Aids Levy although very high in figurative terms, was
virtually of no value and as such the NAC was unable to procure commodities
in support of the health delivery system."

However, Makurira said the levy collections remained very low because not
many people were gainfully employed.

Health and Child Welfare minister, Dr Henry Madzorera said the move by NAC
would quell persistent rumours about the misuse of the levy.

"This allocation and the subsequent arrival of some of the items is
testimony that the Aids Levy is reaching the people of Zimbabwe," Madzorera
said in a speech read on his behalf by his permanent secretary, Dr Gerald

"This will hopefully engender public confidence in the National Aids Council
and how it is administered particularly in view of recent negative press
reports that cast doubt on the amount of ARVs bought."
The World Aids Day campaign theme for 2009-2010 is Universal Access to
treatment, care and prevention: a human right.

In Zimbabwe the treatment gap is huge with only 180 000 of the 600 000
people in need of ARVs accessing the life-saving drugs.


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Unicef Moves to Contain Measles Outbreak

Saturday, 09 January 2010 15:59

AT least 14 046 children between the ages of six months and 14 years have
been vaccinated in Makoni South in Manicaland in a mop up campaign following
a measles outbreak that has claimed at least 22 children, according to the
United Nations Children's Fund. Unicef had set a target 16 000 children at
risk of contracting the killer disease in the district during the emergency
immunisation campaign.

Since the outbreak began in December, at least 18 districts have been
affected and 869 cases reported countrywide, according to the World Health
Organisation (WHO).

Government and Unicef deployed medical teams to Makoni South, which has the
highest number of cases and accounted for the 10 community deaths because of
the low immunisation levels among members of an Apostolic Faith sect.

Unicef communications officer, Tsitsi Singizi said the 16 000 children
reached during the emergency immunisation programme in Makoni South
represent 94% coverage.

She described the rate of coverage as a huge success which will contribute
in the prevention of future outbreaks in the area.

However, she said that Unicef was still concerned by some resistance to the
mop up campaign from members of the Apostolic Faith sect.

"We are very pleased with the immunisation coverage so far during this
campaign but the large numbers of members of the sect who are refusing to
have their children vaccinated is still a major cause for concern to us,"
Singizi said.

However, medical teams on the ground are continuously working with local
leadership to persuade some of the households to allow their children to be

This has been successful in some instances but in some cases the medical
teams have managed to reach the households and they continue to dialogue
with them.

Medical teams on the ground, are targeting areas such as Nyamidzi (the area
that reported the fatalities) and surrounding areas of Chikogore, Rukweza,
Mukamba and Nyazura.

Unicef says that at least 99% of the affected children were members of the
religious sect who do not believe in seeking medical care.

So far 18 districts have reported measles outbreaks and they are Bindura,
Bubi, Buhera, Bulawayo, Chegutu, Chirumhanzu, Chipinge, Chitungwiza, Gokwe
South, Gutu, Harare, Insiza,  Kwekwe, Makoni, Makonde, Marondera, Mutare and
Zvishavane, according to the World Health Organisation.

Efforts to get a comment from the Minister of Health and Child Welfare, Dr
Henry Madzorera were not immediately successful last week as he was said to
be out of the office.


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Geneva-based ZimHealth donates to Pelandaba Clinic

Saturday, 09 January 2010 15:58

BULAWAYO - A Geneva-based Non-Governmental Organization has given Pelandaba
Clinic equipment and materials worth US$19 000 as efforts to revive the city's
health delivery system gathers pace. Council was forced to close down most
of its 19 clinics mostly in high- density suburbs at the height of the
country's debilitating economic and political crises.

But following the formation of the unity government between Zanu PF and the
two MDC formations in February last year, the situation has improved.

According to a report of the Health, Education and Housing Committee tabled
at a full council meeting on Wednesday, the donation by ZimHealth came at a
time when the local authority was battling with a liquidity crisis.

Council said it was unable to buy essential medical supplies as a result of
the financial problems.

In an interview from Geneva, ZimHealth member, Shiva Murugasmpillay said
they were driven by the quest to play a part in the rehabilitation of the
city's health provision.

He said they had made individual contributions within the organisation after
engagements with council officials.

"We had discussions with officials from the Health Services department at
the Bulawayo City Council who appraised us on the situation at Pelandaba.

"They told us that there were shortages at the clinic, which we understand
is a busy clinic and thus we decided we would make this donation,"
Murugasmpillay said.

He said his organisation had also made several donations to other health

"As a group of doctors and friends of Zimbabwe, we have helped quite a
number of health centres in the country.

"Our quest is to see to it that there is an improvement in the delivery of
health in Zimbabwe," Murugasmpillay added.

The consignment for Pelandaba Clinic is already in the country and is set to
be officially handed over to council on Wednesday.

The equipment includes syringes, thermometers, surgical gloves, bed sheets
and hospital clothing for expecting mothers as well as their babies.

It also includes wheelchairs, bandages, cotton wool, and other operating


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New Book Focuses on Media Coverage of 2008 Election Violence

Saturday, 09 January 2010 17:02

THE Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe (MMPZ) has launched a new book on the
local media's coverage of political violence in the run up to the disputed
presidential election run-off held on June 27, 2008. The book, titled:
Propaganda War on Electoral Democracy: A Report on the Media's coverage of
Zimbabwe's 2008 Elections, assesses the public and independent media's
coverage of the March 29 harmonised elections, and the subsequent
presidential run-off election.

MMPZ head Andrew Moyse said the new publication seeks to generate debate on
the media's role in national politics.

"I hope this book will provide a valuable contribution to the national
debate on free media,"  Moyse said.

A foreword to the publication says the "book attempts to address the
political climate prevailing in the year leading up to the historic
elections, and particularly the media environment at the time".

Political commentator and University of Zimbabwe lecturer, Professor John
Makumbe said the book will play a key role in influencing reform in the
media sector.

"If there is a sector that needs urgent reform, it is the media," said

"Of course, there are some state media organisations where reform would
entail firing everyone and leave only desks and chairs.

"A lot of people in the media need to be retrained, to be reoriented."

Makumbe described the book as "refreshing" and giving a balanced account of
what transpired in 2008.

"This is a readable book, presented in simple language. The reading public
will love this book because it documents reality. The analysis is really
accurate," he added.

In addition to the main book, there is also a publication accompanying the
research, which focuses on the details of the use of hate language, naming
the perpetrators and citing incidents where inflammatory language was used.


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Ambitious Power Plan

Saturday, 09 January 2010 15:25

ZIMBABWE will be embarking on power generation projects worth billions of
United States dollars to end crippling electricity outages by 2015, a
five-year economic blueprint to be unveiled in February reveals. The Medium
Term Development Plan (MTDP) will succeed the Short Term Emergency Recovery
Programme (Sterp) that was credited with stabilising the economy after
almost a decade of decline.

Under MTDP, government aims to unlock investment worth US$10 billion for
reconstruction and growth.

On power generation, the unity government plans to build new power stations
and revive old ones rendered idle by years of neglect.

Last week, Zimbabwe sealed a US$8 million deal with Botswana that will see
that neighbouring country refurbishing the idle Bulawayo thermal power
station to increase electricity generation.

Under the MTDP the government will enter into such deals to push its
earmarked power generation projects. In the next five years the country will
also be exporting electricity to countries in the region after completion of
planned power generating projects.

"In a move to increase power generation to meet national demand and for
export in the region, the following will be developed by 2015. . .

"Development of Greenfield projects: Batoka Gorge (1600MW), Gokwe North
(1400MW), Lupane Coal Methane (330MW) and Condo Hydro Power (100MW)

"Expansion of Hwange Thermal Station (600MW) and Kariba South Hydro Power
Station (300MW)

"Development of mini-hydro power plants to supplement supply to mini-grids
in rural communities with total projected capacity of 50MW," reads the MTDP
document in part.

The plan also adds that government will "promote use of renewable energy
including installation of mini-solar grids systems (450 units)" to increase
power generation.

Zimbabwe has over the years grappled with constant power outages resulting
in some companies downsizing operations, closing or relocating altogether to
neighbouring countries.

Electricity shortages are blamed on either broken down or ageing power
generation equipment and lack of foreign currency to refurbish power

Most of the power stations were shut down due to lack of foreign currency to
buy space, forcing the country to rely on imports from South Africa, Zambia,
DR Congo and Mozambique.


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Spotlight on Banking Sector

Saturday, 09 January 2010 15:23

THE spotlight this year will be on the financial services sector ahead of
the March 30 minimum requirement deadline while executives of listed
companies will be hard-pressed to deliver the first meaningful dividend to
shareholders in three years. The banking sector has to meet the second phase
of minimum capital requirement deadline of US$12.5 million for commercial
banks, building societies and merchant banks (US$10 million), and US$500 000
for asset managers.

A number of locally owned indigenous banks struggled to meet the first phase
of the deadline in September and analysts forecast hectic boardroom meetings
as they battle to reach the last hurdle.

Last year, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor Gideon Gono announced the
minimum capital requirement deadline for banks in a bid to bolster the
sector ravaged by record-breaking hyperinflation.

He has said the central bank no longer had the appetite for curatorships and
institutions that fail to be capital-compliant will be allowed to go under.

But while RBZ has been on the forefront of calls to strengthen the financial
sector, the regulator itself is limping because of undercapitalisation.

The audit of the central bank by the Ministry of Finance is yet to be
completed while RBZ has run for a year without a board for policy direction,
which analysts say is an assault on corporate governance.

RBZ has also failed to play its lender of last resorts function an
indication that the financial sector is living on borrowed times as the
central bank cannot bail out any institution faced with a crisis.

The insurance industry has its prescribed minimum capital deadline of March
30 for confidence building in the sector and underwriting of meaningful

On March 30, life assurance firms are supposed to have US$500 000, US$300
000 for short term insurance, and US$800 000 for a company with both life
assurance and short term insurance.

Life reinsurance and short term should have US$400 000 with funeral
assurance expected to have US$350 000 as minimum capital.

Insurance and Pension Funds will also be required to publish their annual
reports including information on their performance.

The companies will also be required to make public announcements on key
appointments as their investment and fund managers.

In addition, the insurance sector will also have to contend with the
reintroduction of prescribed asset requirements effective this month.

The prescribed assets were suspended in July to give the industry more
breathing space after its underwriting capacity was ravaged by
hyperinflation of 2008.

This year the prescribed asset ratio will see pension funds investing 10% of
their portfolio in government bonds.

Long term and short term insurance are supposed to set aside 7.5% and 5%
respectively in government bonds.

The Kingdom Meikles Limited demerger will be fully implemented in 2010 after
the feuding parties agreed last year that the marriage could not work.

Executives of Zimbabwe Stock Exchange listed companies have to deliver a
dividend to shareholders, the first time since the use of multiple
currencies last year.

In 2009, only Econet managed to pay out a dividend of US$0.08 per share.

The soccer extravaganza next door in South Africa is set to increase
interest in Zimbabwe's tourism products.

The country can benefit directly by hosting visiting fans as South Africa
alone cannot amid indications that 50 000 rooms would  be required for the
World Cup.


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Positive Response to Rural Business Funding Initiative

Saturday, 09 January 2010 15:18

RESPONSE to a new international funding initiative for Zimbabwe's rural
business sector has been strong and positive, reflecting an upsurge in
confidence in rural development potential, according to the initiators of
the project. Growth and development in the rural areas are the objectives of
the funding initiative, which was unveiled in December. Known as the Africa
Enterprise Challenge Fund Zimbabwe Window, it was officially launched at a
ceremony in Harare attended by the Minister of Economic Planning and
Development, Elton Mangoma, the Australian Ambassador, John Courtney, and
more than 150 other invited guests from embassies and from across the
business spectrum.
The AECF Zimbabwe Window has been created to stimulate private sector
business in the country's rural areas, leading to increased incomes and jobs
in those areas. It is focused on agro-business and rural financial services.
A call for responses from the business sector has been made and applications
must be received by the deadline of January 31.
The AECF is a fund created to support private sector investment that
benefits the rural poor of Africa. It was created by the Alliance for a
Green Revolution in Africa, the brainchild of former United Nations
Secretary-General Kofi Annan and funded by various donor agencies. Based in
Nairobi, the fund is active in 16 countries across Africa and has decided to
create the Zimbabwe Window to foster rural-led economic recovery
Speaking at the launch and standing in for Finance Minister Tendai Biti,
Minister  Mangoma commended the developers and donor agencies behind AECF
for their inclusion of Zimbabwe in the initiative.
"The Government of Zimbabwe is delighted with the launch, especially as it
is specifically aimed at helping the rural poor and also because it provides
a much-needed cash injection into the economy," he said.
"This initiative resonates with the 2010 National Budget, which is designed
to foster economic recovery."
Also speaking at the ceremony, the Australian Ambassador said the Australian
Government had provided US$4.5 million seed capital for the Zimbabwe Window
and he felt the initiative would stimulate investment that would in turn
have a direct impact on Zimbabwe's economic revival.
He also felt the AECF Zimbabwe Window would be successful because the timing
of the launch was ideal and also because the skills and energy of Zimbabwe's
private sector would contribute enormously to private sector-led revival.
"This will help lift small scale farmers out of poverty," he said.
AECF Director Hugh Scott told guests that the AECF Zimbabwe Window would
start operating immediately and was calling for responses from the private
sector by the deadline of January 31.
"Applicants must be private, for-profit organisations and funds requested as
grants and repayable grants must be between US$250 000 and US$1.5 million,"
he said.
"Applicant companies had to provide matching funds equal or greater than 40
percent of the total cost of the project and requests must be for specific,
new and innovative business ideas in Zimbabwe, in one of the two areas
supported by AECF's Zimbabwe Window - agribusiness or rural financial
"The purpose of the Window, which is specific to Zimbabwe, is to contribute
to the rehabilitation and regeneration of business and finance market
systems linked to rural Zimbabweans. This will be achieved by selecting and
co-financing private sector-led projects that will have a direct, positive
impact on large numbers of people living in rural areas. Indirectly, it will
have a wider and more strategic impact on the way business and financial
systems operate, particularly in relation to poor people."
Funding for the projects will eventually come from multiple donors, as in
other AECF activities across Africa, but the initial $4.5 million from the
Australian government will ensure operational capacity.
Scott said all requests had to be channelled through the website A Southern African manager, based in South Africa, is in
charge of the sub region, while an AECF representative in Zimbabwe has been
appointed - Harvey Leared of Acumen Africa.


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The Pros and Cons of Voter-registration Methodologies

Saturday, 09 January 2010 16:28

VOTER Registration remains one of the most political and highly sensitive
aspects of the pre-electoral phases hence the need to ensure that its
conduct is informed by best practices of efficiency and transparency. Those
eligible to vote by virtue of age still have to pass the voter registration
eligibility test in order to consummate their basic political right to vote.

Voter registration thus determines who can vote or not vote and on this
basis has the potential to enfranchise or de-franchise potential voters
especially where it is not openly run.

Election literature is replete with stories of eligible voters who have been
robbed of their basic right to vote because voter registration requirements
were not clearly spelt out.

Debates on when and what specific time frames should be accorded for
registration, which identity particulars should be produced, whether
potential voters should only register in their constituencies or outside
their constituencies continue to be contested terrains in  the pre-election

By determining who can vote or not vote, voter registration ultimately
determines who wins and by extension shapes the political future of every
citizen in the country.

This explains why genuine logistical and administrative constraints may be
perceived as politically motivated. In highly polarised election contexts,
decisions about who to register and who not to register determine the
legitimacy of electoral processes. Underscored here is the need to ensure
that voter registrations are accurate, up to date, impartial and

In the 2008 Elections in Zimbabwe, voter registration was generally
constrained by an interplay of factors, among which was that Zimbabwe
Electoral Commission was not in charge of the voter register, problematic
ward-based voter registration, lack of transparency, limited access to the
electronic copy of the voter register by political parties, lack of figures
on how many have been registered, contradicting numbers in the delimitation
report and voter register, lack of notification of deleted entries,
deliberate exclusion of resident status, inclusion of names of deceased
voters, deliberate rural over-representation and politicised farm tent voter
registration points.

These allegations should not be allowed to resurface in the 2011 Elections.

Voter registrations assume various forms. They may be in the form of active
registration in which registration is initiated by the voter when he or she
applies for inclusion on the voters' register.

They can also be in the form of passive registration in which the
compilation of the voter register is initiated by state authorities, a
process which is often done using records of residence or citizenship.

Thus conceptually, voter registrations can be in the form of stand alone ad
hoc/ periodic processes or in the form of stand alone continuous/permanent
processes. The third set is a form of voter registration which is based on
the civil register.

Maintenance of voters' rolls can be done either as an on-going process or at
fixed regular periods, or only when there is an election.

These updates are done to ensure that all eligible voters are included in
the register.

However, it is instructive to note that voter registration processes are
very expensive and require use of huge human resources and technology. In
practice, there is always a limited supply funds, time and trained personnel
with IT expertise.

Where supplier-driven voter registration models with heavy doses of IT and
special material from external suppliers are adopted, issues of
sustainability have to be considered.  In addition, most of the proposed
technology and methodologies are often entirely replaced in the next
election cycle.

Three levels of technological approaches are usually used namely:
Low Technology Approaches. These are manual and paper-based. Challenges
associated with these are how to perform duplicate searches which are
mandated by several electoral laws as well as ensuring enabling conditions
including civil identification of citizens.

Mid Technology Approaches. This approach is OCR/ Optimal March
Recognition/ICR based. The main challenges in this approach relate to
replacement solutions for Polaroid, photographic equipment problem versus
review of total solution. It was in use in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1997.

High technology Approaches. These involve digital registration kits where
specialised devices such as digital photographs, fingerprint scanning,
facial recognition and fingerprint matching.

Points to ponder include use of technological upgrades, biometrics (facial
recognition versus fingerprint matching for duplicate search),
standardisation, sharing experiences, sustainability and relation to voter
education and domestic observation.

Given the strong political dimension of voter registration, the exercise
must be inclusive, transparent and fair.  There should be sufficient time
for inspection of the roll to effect changes.

The process should be accessible to all potential voters, whilst copies of
the roll are available to interested parties. Sustainability issues must be
considered fully, and technology and methodologies must be relevant in the
next election cycle. There should be an independent audit of voters' roll.

These recommendations are based on international standards. There should be
consistent legal provisions for the method of registration, registration
timetable, eligibility documentation, registration forms and the format of
the register.

The voter register is sufficiently recent to allow for newly eligible voters
to be included and recently deceased persons to have been removed. Where
there is active registration, there should be effective voter education. The
method of registration should be simple and accessible.

Voter registration should be intensified for groups less likely to be
registered, e.g. first time voters, minorities, etc.

A preliminary voter register should be made available for public inspection
to ensure voters can confirm their inclusion and its accuracy can be
assessed before assessed before it is finalised.

Relevant extracts from the preliminary voter register should be posted at
polling stations or other convenient locations. The voter register should be
computerised to avoid duplicate entries.

Political parties should be able to access copies of the voter register.

The number of registered voters is published in advance of the election and
that number is broken down into different levels, including by polling

There should be a right to challenge any inaccuracies or omissions in the
voter register. Corrections should be made through a simple but secure

For any comments and suggestions write to:  or

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Sundayopinion: Charmed Life of ‘Mugabe’s servants’

Saturday, 09 January 2010 16:22

THEY loiter about aimlessly throughout the month but when pay day comes,
they are the first in the bank queues. They then draw a salary equivalent to
that of a university professor, yet many of them did not pass their “O”
Levels and can hardly read or write.

Meet Zimbabwe’s do-nothing-but-get-paid civil servants: the youth officers.

At Mhandamahwe Growth Point in Chivi, you would easily recognize them over
the just ended festive season.

I was probably the only person who did not know them.

However that changed when chart buster Maggie Mukaranga started blaring out
of a rickety home theatre system. Two of these youths, who appeared
inebriated, jumped onto the stage and started displaying their fancy

They went down in synchronized paces approximating a well-rehearsed dance
routine. One would mistake them for stray band members of a renowned sungura
outfit. They must have been doing this for a long time. I stood there
mesmerized by the way they danced, until somebody tapped my shoulder.

“Hey my friend, nobody cares to look at these people anymore. They are
always dancing. They have nothing else to do,” a colleague who was waiting
for me to buy a round of the brown bottles said.
I soon realised there was no malice in what he meant.

“Vasevenzi vaMugabe” (Mugabe’s servants), as they call themselves in this
part of the country, are well-known for leading charmed lives.

They do not go to work, yet when it’s the civil servants’ pay day, they are
the first in the bank queues.

And because they do not work, they have become notorious for drinking beer
and when they exhaust their US$150 a month pay, they simply loiter, waiting
for the next pay day.

Many of these more than 10 000 youths were recruited last year when Zanu PF
needed foot soldiers to stop the then opposition MDC from penetrating the
rural areas.

But those operations ceased a long time ago after the signing of the Global
Political Agreement (GPA) leaving the youths, whose names were illegally
added to civil service payroll, redundant.

However many of them are hardly the kind of people who would qualify to be
called civil servants by any stretch of imagination.

Their demeanor and the educational qualifications fall far short of what is
required for one to get into the civil service.

They were also not subjected to the mandatory medical examination, which was
only conducted late last year when questions started being asked about the
illegal recruitment of the 10 000 youths.

What is worrying progressive government officials is the fact that these
youths openly boast that they get money for doing nothing.

“They are quick to tell you that they were hired by the President, so they
are not answerable to anyone,” said a senior government official in Masvingo
based at Benjamin Burombo building.

And if you talk to these youths, you realise theirs is a charmed life.

“What exactly do you do?” I asked one of these youths on Christmas Day.

“Tino mobilizer musangano (we mobilize Zanu PF supporters).”

“And you get paid for that by the government?”

“Eh! nekuti hurumende ndeye Zanu PF” (Yes, because it’s a Zanu PF
government),” he quipped.

I did not ask any further questions because I had been told many stories
about how these “civil servants” fared when they were hauled before the
civil service auditors late last year.

One of the youth officers from Zaka was asked if he knew anything about the
Public Service Commission (PSC).

No, he didn’t.

“So who is your employer?” he was asked.

“Musangano” (the party).

“When and where were you recruited?

“Pamuchakata tave kuda kuinda kumaPresidential. (I was recruited under the
tree just before we headed for the Presidential run-off election).”

Another youth, a 27-year-old-man, was asked about his immediate supervisor.
He said it was the Zanu PF district chairperson.

And his certificates: Akarasika kuhondo (They were lost during the
liberation war) — a war that ended 30 years ago, three years before he was

And then his job description: to ensure that the opposition and its stooges
do not penetrate his area.

As I surveyed the two youths dancing to Maggie Mukaranga, I realised the
importance and timeliness of the civil service audit.

These dancing characters certainly don’t deserve to be anywhere near a civil
service office. Maybe they could do well as hired dancers on musician
Josphat Somanje’s payroll.


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Comment: Getting the Model on its Feet Again

Saturday, 09 January 2010 16:19

THE government needs to move swiftly even at this eleventh hour and engage
civil servants on concerns over salaries so that there are no further
disruptions to the educational sector. Last week teachers and the rest of
government workers threatened mass job action this week accusing the state
of insensitivity to their plight. Presently civil servants draw an average
salary of US$155 a month.

They want the least paid of their colleagues to be paid between US$500 -
US$600 or they will - in the case of teachers - down tools effective Tuesday
this week.

The government workers want the issue treated as a matter of urgency.

That is why the Ministers of Finance, Public Service, Education as well as
Higher and Tertiary Education must meet so that they can engage the
government workers and agree on what is possible and avoid the chaos that
has characterised the education sector since 2007.

Last year was fraught with wild cat strikes but many understood it to be a
transitional phase as Zimbabwe's education system, once a model in Africa,
starts to get on its feet.

Civil servants have endured distressed working conditions. One of the
realities they confront this week as schools open for the New Year is that
many will not be able to afford school fees for their children.

It is unrealistic to expect them to render efficient service. The government
might live in a different world but civil servants are only putting in an
effort they believe is equivalent to how the government values their work.

But it is not just the failure to engage and communicate with workers that
irks civil servants.

There is an irony the workers see in the government: While the state says it
does not have the resources to pay its workers salaries above the Poverty
Datum Line, government ministers drive not only the latest but the most
expensive top-of-the-range vehicles that few chief executives heading blue
chip companies can afford. One can understand why government workers have
difficulties in digesting government's doublespeak.

But this is a point that even well-meaning international donor supporters
must point out - cut your coat according to your cloth.

It is imperative that almost a year after the Government of National Unity
came into being we demonstrate that we have the capacity to overcome
problems we encountered during the past 12 months - strikes in the education
sector, for example.

But critically, there is need to build on the modest successes of the past

As a direct response to the deteriorating situation, particularly in the
education sector, Unicef working with the Ministry of Education Sport, Arts
and Culture and supported by Australia, Denmark, the European Commission,
the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, UK and USAid, established a US$50 million
transitional fund to support the sector and bring back quality to the
education sector.

The transitional support mechanism - known as the Zimbabwe Education
Transition Fund (ETF) - provides co-ordinated, coherent donor support for
key education priorities. The fund assists in the purchase of critical text
books, supports schools with learning materials and provides technical
assistance to the Ministry of Education.

These measures are meant to result in improved quality and service delivery
in the education sector while making available adequate text books and
critical learning materials for Zimbabwe's 5 300 primary schools.

There is need to complement these measures by ensuring government workers'
concerns are addressed so that teachers are back in the classroom when the
first term of the school year begins this week.

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Zim Standard Letters

RBZ Official's 'medical clinic' Mystery Deepens  PDF  Print  E-mail
Saturday, 09 January 2010 16:08

I was intrigued to read the article, "RBZ official denies turning residence
into medical clinic" in last issue of The Standard of December 20, 2009. As
one of neighbours affected by this development, I was astonished to read Dr
Munyaradzi Kereke's statements to the effect that he did not plan to develop
his property at 92 Norfolk Road into a medical facility. On 14 October 2009,
a notice appeared in The Herald (reproduced right) of an application for a
Permit in terms of Section 26(3) of the Regional, Town and Country Planning
Act, Chapter 29:12, Revised Edition 1996, which stated as follows: "Notice
is hereby given of an application to carry out the following  development on
Stand 284 Mt Pleasant Township 11 of Lot 35A Mt Pleasant (92 Norfolk Road)
Mount Pleasant, Harare.
1. It is proposed to establish a health facility on the above mentioned
The notice said that, because the stand is in a residential area and
requires the "Special Consent" of the Local Planning Authority, the
application and plans could be inspected at the offices of the Department of
Urban Planning Services, and anyone wishing to make objections or
representations was invited to do so within one month of the notice
I duly inspected the application, which was made in the name of the Rock
Foundation Family Trust, whose family, it said, had resided at 92 Norfolk
Road for many years. It was signed by Dr M Kereke as their representative,
and was accompanied by a copy of the title deed in his name.
The application said that it was for "special permission to be granted by
special consent to convert the current domestic residential property to a
health facility, i.e. a modern, state-of-the-art emergency facility". The
drawings I saw showed areas in the proposed buildings that were labelled "CT
scan", "haematology", "eye unit", "pharmacy sales", "paediatric unit",
"ambulance bay", "nurse's station", and the like.
Although Dr Kereke may well have "stamped papers from the Harare City
Council" to prove that the buildings presently being constructed are simply
an extension to the residence, I wonder why he should say that he has no
intention of converting it into a clinic, when public documents clearly
indicate that he does, or at least that he did. Was he misquoted? Perhaps he
just changed his mind? Or could there be some other reason?

One of the neighbours
Mount Pleasant
Kudos for the Police, Brick-bats for Zimra  PDF  Print  E-mail
Saturday, 09 January 2010 16:15

BRAVO to ZRP for breaking through the recent bank robbery case and arresting
the suspects. Evidence seems to point out that the right culprits were
apprehended. It is a source of pride for the nation when criminals realise
that they cannot get away with murder, and in this respect hats-off to
Police Commissioner General Augustine Chihuri for the professionalism
exhibited by the force.
It is a pleasure to note that the ZRP is rising to the occasion. I am also
reminded of the recent murder cases where ZRP has made inroads and arrests.
I am proud to be a Zimbabwean. I know that not all may be well with the ZRP,
but fellow Zimbabweans, we must give credit where it is due. Would other
public institutions please take a cue from ZRP and in this instance let me
take a swipe at the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra), also headed by a
Commissioner General, but running as a parastatal.
I am a clearing agent and I recently passed through Beitbridge Border Post
at a time when the press revealed the arrests of the bank robbery suspects.
We can surely not blame the South African Revenue Services (SARS) for our
inefficiency, corruption and dirty offices.
In South Africa, you can use the public toilets but on our side you cannot.
I find it inappropriate that blame for delays on the Zimbabwe side was being
heaped on SARS. Heavens forbid! May the other Commissioner General please
attend to the delays and inefficiencies at Customs on the Zimbabwe side?
Immigration and Limpopo Bridge appeared organised with simple procedures. I
found Zimra to have complicated systems with as many sub-queues as officers
on duty e.g. TIPs, duty paying, searches, assessments etc.
It was not even clear as to when a traveller must join a particular queue.
It is only the officers who know and will tell you that you were in the
wrong queue when you have already wasted a lot of time.
In addition to collecting taxes, I surely expect Customs to assist with the
movement of people and goods at our borders. Beitbridge, Chirundu and
Plumtree are points of delay. So many searches with no discernible outcome
are the order of the day!
In the buses we are forced to pay money for facilitation. I don't  know why
and where the money goes but to me this is open corruption. Zimra knows
about this extra money but does nothing about it.
Service standards within Zimra have deteriorated at the Customs offices.
This has been the trend over the past nine years. The drawing board must be
revisited where commercialization has resulted in worsening of standards.
Perhaps the ship has the wrong captains.
May the two commissioner generals (CGs) share notes? The above compares how
two public institutions, both run by CGs fared during the festive season.
The one which is a government department did its best during a national
crisis. The other is blaming South Africa for failing to perform during its
busiest time. The ship requires a new captain and new managers.

Job Mari

Exposing the Real Enemies  PDF  Print  E-mail
Saturday, 09 January 2010 16:11

IMPRESSED by the 10 000-strong crowd at the last Zanu PF Congress, President
Robert Mugabe probably thought the large crowd was the entire population of
Zimbabwe, and found it appropriate to buy their votes in the next election
by denigrating Finance Minister Tendai Biti and the western donor countries
over agricultural inputs for the current season. As it turns out, the United
Kingdom and European Union may in fact be some of the "well-wishers" behind
an input scheme unveiled at the party's congress. According to recent press
reports, the UK proved the Zimbabwean leader wrong by revealing that London
had, in partnership with the EU, recently donated millions of dollars worth
of seed and fertilisers to communal farmers.
According to the reports, 685 000 householders across Zimbabwe will be
provided with substantial support from the donor community, including
fertiliser, seeds and other inputs. The donor community in total has this
year provided agriculture support to cover 50% of all smallholder farmers.
To clear the confusion, and to expose Mugabe, the donors should circulate
widely details of the assistance they have given to deserving Zimbabweans.
We all know that Mugabe's statement is part of the strategy by Jonathan Moyo
to confuse Zimbabweans into believing that the western world and the MDC-T
are the enemies of the people of Zimbabwe, when it is Moyo, Mugabe and Zanu
PF at large who have caused the suffering which the MDC-T and the western
donors are trying to alleviate.
Moyo, Mugabe and Zanu PF in general should know that lies will never carry
the day for them. The people of Zimbabwe have woken up and now know very
well who is for them and who is against them.
The Minister of Finance, who has been berated by Mugabe, may also want to
compile statistics of donor assistance for the agricultural sector for the
2008/09 and 2009/10 seasons to prove Mugabe wrong.

Benjamin Chitate
New Zealand.
Bibi Ignorant About Primary Objective of Liberation Struggle - Chinotimba
PDF  Print  E-mail
Saturday, 09 January 2010 16:07

DOES (sic) most Zimbabweans know the main reason why we took up arms and
waged a protracted war of liberation against the white oppressing (sic) and
racist minority? Are people aware that the primary objective of the
liberation struggle was none other than the land, which for over a century
was in the hands of the white minority?
Is it known by the majority that this vital resource - the land was forcibly
grabbed from our forefathers by the whites and that the black majority was
deprived of its ownership and exploitation resulting them (sic) to reel in
abject poverty for quite a long time?
Does repossessing what is rightfully yours an offence? What proper or legal
method was used by the racist white minority in grabbing our land from our
All these questions have come to mind following publication by your
newsletter (sic) of an insulting article by one Bibi under the readers'
views and comments headlined, Losers, weepers - December 13 to 19 issue. In
the article, the author alleged that only Zanu PF officials including myself
benefited from the land reform programme and he mischievously described the
noble programme as "chaotic".
The author ignorantly went on to allege that I am used to get (sic)
fertilisers and other farming inputs leaving other farmers with nothing. The
article does not only reveal how misinformed the author is, but how
treacherous he/she is. Even stranger is the fact that the allegations and
accusations brought on (sic) the fore carries (sic) no weight and substance.
It is no doubt that the author dismally failed to substantiate his/her
allegations and accusations. Can the author of the article explain when and
where I got fertiliser and other inputs at the expense of other farmers? To
me the allegations and accusations shows (sic) nothing else other than a
chorus of hatred to me as a war veteran and to Zanu PF as a party. Further
the accusation shows a very desperate attempt by some wayward elements to
discredit and denigrate the historic land reform programme.
With the obvious answers to the questions raised in the first paragraph of
my article, I feel Bibi and other lost and misguided individuals (sic) needs
to be taught one or two lessons regarding the historic land reform
programme, which he/she irreverently described as chaotic. As a war veteran
and proud Zimbabwean, my heart bleeds profusely to realise that at (sic)
this age and era we still have amongst us elements with treacherous and
short memories.
Let the author - Bibi - be reminded that the land reform programme was not
and still is not a Zanu PF programme, but a national programme meant to
correct land imbalances to empower the people.
In future, I urge people like Bibi to make reasonable research before
committing pen to paper.

Joseph Chinotimba
Vice-National chairman, Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans'
SMS The Standard  PDF  Print  E-mail
Saturday, 09 January 2010 16:05

Squandered chance
WHY is it we want to lure teams for the 2010 World Cup when we don't even
have one world-class stadium even by African standards? Of course, our
hotels are good as well as the country in general but these are not
tourists. They are here to win the World Cup not to see the Victoria Falls.
Don't tell me our government didn't know that when we had four years to
prepare. - Soko.

IF the present parliament building appears small it is because there are too
many MPs and Senators. - Makudo Ngeamwe.

WE are still puzzled to hear someone in this day and age saying: "Down with
Tsvangirai!" while Zanu PF officials, traditional leaders and councillors
enlist the help of the police to bar MDC-T rallies/meetings. Is this
permissible under the Global Political Agreement? - Councillor,
Mhondoro-Mubaira, Mashonaland West.
I too, have a dream

I AM not Dr Martin Luther King Jnr, but I too have a dream. I dream that one
day giants like Jairos Jiri will be recognised as heroes; that Zimbabwe
will, like a mature mother be able to look after all her children well; that
all these idle vast tracts of land will be put to productive use; that
Zimbabwe will be the world commercial hub; that one day Zimbabweans in exile
will bring their expertise home. - Herbert Mugwagwa, Chitungwiza.
HOW gratifying it was to hear Colonel Clive Sheppard of the South African
Air Force state that their "role is to defend the country and the
Constitution" and not the ANC. (SABC News International, December 3,
2009). - Cleka weDowasuro.

COULD the responsible authorities do something about the Patchway-Sanyati
road? It's in a frightful condition. - Reggie Zvidza, Hatfield, Harare.
Clinic welcome

I AM extremely amused by the article (The Standard, December 13, 2009) about
Dr Munyaradzi Kereke's extensions to his property at 92 Norfolk Road, Mount
Pleasant. If it's true that he is building a clinic, we should be glad that
there is a state-of-the-art Emergency Clinic coming up. Personally, I don't
care who owns a facility as long as they follow the Council
by-laws. -Amused.

CHARLIE Jones must be voted the new Zimbabwe Football Association boss at
the forthcoming elections. - Conilious Toga, Old Highfield, Harare.

Is rugby dead?
IS the Zimbabwe Rugby Union still functional, because I see that people are
no longer interested in rugby? - Disappointed, Harare.

A few years back, you had to pay through the nose to have a cell phone line.
Right now it costs US$5 but in South Africa it's R2 or R0.5. I guess lines
for Zimbabwe were being made on planet Jupiter but now they are being made
on the moon, hence the change and the discrepancy. Are we that desperate as
a country that we should allow crooks and charlatans masquerading as
entrepreneurs and businesspeople to operate? Are we short of honest people
with good business ethics to the extent we have to rely on dealers and allow
ourselves to be ripped off or short-changed? - Herbert Mugwagwa,
Lead by example
I read with interest an article on male circumcision. I am of the opinion
that all politicians should lead by example and I am waiting for the day I
will share a hospital ward with some of them, talking about how they will be
recovering from the circumcision. We are waiting for you Mashefu. - Tshaka.
ECONET is not different from Zanu PF. It boasts that it has three million
subscribers, but what about its service? - Bad Medicine, Victoria Falls.
New Year resolutions

LET our New Year resolutions be: holding of free and fair elections under
the auspices of an independent body; allowing a free and unfettered vibrant
media; the revival of our defunct industries; ensuring that the wealth
generated through the exploitation of our resources cascades down to the
poor among us; writing a new constitution that will stand the test of time;
tapping the expertise of Zimbabweans in the Diaspora in order to fast-track
recovery; allowing business to operate without the interference of
politicians; paying workers decent salaries; and re-orienting the police so
that they operate more professionally. - Herbert Mugwagwa, Chitungwiza.

THE dragging constitution-making process is a drawback to our rights as
citizens to speak out. - N Moyo, Athlone.
Probe secret payroll
CAN Parliament establish a Commission of Inquiry into why Harare City
Council has a secret payroll for those in Grade I to IV? Their packages
should be made public. Also why is Council operating with two Directors of
Health and two Treasurers? Someone needs to be investigated for such
bungling because this is a burden to the ratepayers. We demand the truth and
an immediate redress. - S Mugidiza.

DID you know that when pressure is coming out of your taps and there is no
water the City Council meter records usage of water? Check how fast your
meter runs. - Fleeced.
I AM a passionate Caps United fan and I propose that the Kepekepe bosses
release Ashley Rambanepasi and let him go to Dynamos because that's where
his mind is. -Agripa Ngwazi.

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