The ZIMBABWE Situation
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Tsvangirai Set to Return This Week

Saturday, 10 January 2009 20:11

MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai is expected back in the country this
week for a crucial party meeting that will decide the fate of the stalled
power-sharing talks with Zanu PF.

This follows an MDC consultative meeting in South Africa last week,
which deliberated on the status of the talks, the humanitarian situation in
the country and the assault on the party's structures by state agents.

The news of Tsvangirai's imminent return emerged as pressure piled on
South African President Kgalema Motlanthe to intervene in the Zimbabwean

The South African leader chairs Sadc, which along with the African
Union (AU) are guarantors of the power-sharing deal between Zanu PF and the
two MDC formations.

Authoritative sources confirmed Tsvangirai, who has been in
self-imposed exile in neighbouring Botswana since last November, would meet
his national executive on Sunday.

This would be followed by a yet-to-be confirmed meeting of the party's
national council.

MDC spokesperson Nelson Chamisa could not confirm or deny that
Tsvangirai was about to return.

"There is a security element in the whole issue, so I can't put the
life of the president in danger," said Chamisa, who referred The Standard to
Tsvangirai's spokesperson George Sibotshiwe.

Sibotshiwe could not be reached for comment.

However, sources said the MDC consultative meeting resolved that
Tsvangirai should come back to attend the crucial national executive meeting
that would decide whether the party will continue participating in the

The meeting, sources said, also examined strategies the party would
take in the event that President Robert Mugabe forms a government without
the MDC.

The meeting also endorsed the party's previous position that all
cabinet and senior government posts be shared equitably.

Mugabe has already indicated that he would constitute a government
next month even without the two MDC formations.

Chamisa said Sunday's meeting would review the Global Political
Agreement (GPA) signed on September 15 last year between Zanu PF and the two
MDC formations.

The agreement, brokered by former South African President Thabo Mbeki
on behalf of Sadc, stalled as Mugabe and Tsvangirai wrangled over who should
control key ministries and the allocation of top government posts.

The impasse worsened with the recent abductions of scores of
opposition and human rights activists that started in November.

"We will look at progress, or lack of it, of the political dialogue
and the extent of our success in terms of all the outstanding issues,"
Chamisa said.

The party will also discuss the current humanitarian crisis looking at
such issues as the food crisis and the cholera outbreak which has killed
close to 2000 people, according to latest World Health Organisation figures.

Over half of Zimbabwe's 12,5 million people require food aid.

"It's a helicopter assessment of the food situation, human rights and
security of persons, in particular the abductees and the court processes as
well as the stubborn machinations of Zanu PF," Chamisa said.

State security agents have abducted more than 40 MDC officials and
human rights activists since November last year in what the opposition said
was an attempt to destroy its structures.

Some of the abductees including Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) director
Jestina Mukoko have appeared in court facing allegations of recruiting
people for military training in Botswana to topple Mugabe's administration.
They deny the allegations.

Chamisa said the MDC had written to Mugabe requesting a meeting in an
effort to salvage the power-sharing deal.

"We have written to Mugabe indicating that we want a meeting between
him and president Tsvangirai to bring finality and closure to the dialogue,"
he said. "We can't keep Zimbabweans guessing, we have to close the chapter
on dialogue, whether in success or failure."

Local journalists, worried about the government's assault on the
media in spite of the September 15 power-sharing agreement, petitioned
Motlanthe asking him to ensure that Mugabe respects the pact.

The petition delivered to the South African embassy in Harare was
also copied to the chairman of the Sadc Organ on Politics, Defence and
Security, King Mswati III of Swaziland, the facilitator of the Zimbabwe
talks Thabo Mbeki, MDC leaders Tsvangirai and Professor Arthur Mutambara
,and Sadc executive secretary Tomaz Salamao.

It was also copied to Lovemore Moyo, the Speaker of Parliament, Senate
president Ednah Madzongwe, chief negotiators for the MDC formations Tendai
Biti and Professor Welshman Ncube, and Patrick Chinamasa.


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Govt Rejects Teachers' Rescue Package

Saturday, 10 January 2009 20:00

THE government turned down a lucrative teacher retention scheme
proposed by a coalition of non-governmental organisations and teachers'
unions that might have helped resuscitate the crumbling education sector,
The Standard learnt last week.

The scheme would have stopped disgruntled teachers from leaving the
country in droves and possibly help lure back thousands who left the country
last year.

The Education Working Group (EWG), which comprises the Zimbabwe
Teachers' Association (ZIMTA), Progressive Teachers' Union of Zimbabwe
(PTUZ), and international humanitarian agencies, had pledged to raise funds
for the scheme.

It would have helped retain up to 100 000 teachers who are refusing to
go back to work until their salaries are pegged in foreign currency.

Under the scheme, the group would have mobilised resources "to make
sure that teachers were motivated and return to schools when the first term
resumes on January 27.

The scheme would see teachers getting salaries in foreign currency.
They would also be given food aid.
It is understood the Ministry of Education, Sport and Culture turned
down the offer, saying teachers were civil servants whose payment was the
prerogative of the government.

The ministry's general lines went unanswered on Friday. Another
meeting will be held on Tuesday to convince the ministry to accept the idea,
which the group views as the only way to retain teachers.

ZIMTA acting chief executive officer, Sifiso Ndlovu, who attended some
of the meetings, said the government had dismissed the pledge on flimsy

"It is very unfortunate for the government to reject a helping hand,
and on flimsy grounds," he said. "We want to encourage the government to
reconsider its position on the issue for the good of the nation."

Although not confirming that government had snubbed the initiative,
Tsitsi Singizi, the national spokesperson for the UN Children's Emergency
Fund (Unicef) said they were working with their partners towards raising
US$80 million to assist 130 000 teachers throughout the year.

Unicef is part of the EWG.

"We are seriously concerned that teachers are not in class, and hope
that that the teachers and government will arrive at an agreement of some
sort," Singizi said.

"We are worried that as a result, children who last year had to close
early because there were no teachers continue losing out, and have also
become more vulnerable outside the protective environment in schools.
"The implications on Zimbabwe's children are very immense. Unicef
continues to reach out to provide any form of assistance."

Teachers' unions have already warned their members would not report
for duty unless they were paid in foreign currency.

On Thursday, ZIMTA President Tendai Chikowore said teachers would only
report for duty "as soon as they are capacitated in real terms".

"Teachers wish to state that paying their salaries in foreign currency
is no longer an option but the real and only right thing to do," Chikowore

"Teachers demand living salaries and allowances denominated in foreign
currency that will assist them transact business," she said. "Meanwhile they
continue to fail to go to work, buy food for their families, pay rentals,
fees and bills."

Chikowore said the political impasse between the country's political
protagonists had compounded teachers' woes.

As a result of the shortage of teachers, many students are staying at
home and not reporting for school.
According to Unicef, this resulted in school attendance nose-diving
from more than 85% in 2007 to just 20% by the third term of 2008.

Roeland Monasch, the Unicef acting representative in Zimbabwe, said
they feared the attendance rates at schools might drop further this year as
children would be forced to help their parents look for food or find ways to
earn money to help support their families.


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Abducted MDC-T Activists Allege Brutal Torture

Saturday, 10 January 2009 19:22
MASHONALAND West MDC-T activists have recounted harrowing tales of
torture at the hands of state security agents who abducted them in October.

The activists are still fighting for their freedom in the courts where
they stand accused of recruiting people for military training in Botswana.
They are being charged together with former television personality, Jestina

In their affidavits lodged with the courts, the activists reveal how
the state security agents used torture to extract confessions.

The affidavits, made available to The Standard yesterday expose the
suffering and deprivation they underwent at the hands of their captors.

The activists were held without the knowledge of their family and
friends for a period of up to 51 days, while the MDC-T mounted fruitless
searches for them.

In captivity, they were beaten up, tortured and deprived of food as
the agents sought to extract from them "incriminating evidence" of their
involvement in the training of bandits in Botswana.

Their "confessions" were part of the evidence that was forwarded to
Sadc as "proof" that the MDC-T was planning to topple the government. The
regional body however remained skeptical of the evidence.

The affidavits show that once the MDC-T activists were abducted their
constitutional rights fell away.

They describe how they were constantly blindfolded and transported to
unknown places, where they were beaten up and tortured. They were forced to
admit their involvement in recruiting bandits.

In harrowing detail, 72-year-old Fidelis Mujabuki Chiramba who was
abducted from his Kuwadzana house in Banket, revealed how six heavily armed
men knocked on his door in the early hours of October 31.

They took away the former policeman, who is the MDC-T district
chairperson for Zvimba, in the company of four other MDC activists to Harare
where he was moved from one police station to another.

In a few days, he passed through Marlborough, Highlands and Avondale
and Hatfield police stations.
He says this was clearly a move designed to stop relatives and lawyers
from finding him.

On November 4 a blindfolded Chiramba was taken to a torture chamber
in one of Harare's leafy suburbs, where he found other abducted MDC
activists: Fanny Tembo, Pieta Kaseke, Concillia Chinanzvavana and Colleen

"In order to force a confession out of me, I was put in a deep freeze
for a while," he said. "I have never felt so close to death. I had resigned
to freezing to death, when after what looked like a lifetime I was removed
from a freezer."

Afterwards, he said they poured hot water on his private parts
"causing an excruciating burning sensation".
Chiramba was forced to walk naked in front of women who were also in
captivity, the court documents show.

Among these women was Chinanzvavana (36), a national Council member
of the MDC-T, who is also the chairperson of the Women's Assembly in
Mashonaland West province. Chinanzvavana, who was abducted from Chitungwiza
together with her husband, Manuel, is Councillor for Ward 23 in Zvimba

The two fled their Banket home, leaving a 22-month-old baby, after 20
unknown people raided their home. Their tormentors took away their property.

Chinanzvavana said she was tortured for denying allegations that she
had recommended one Tapera Mupfuranhehwe to attend a youth symposium in

She was also accused of recruiting Ricardo Hwasheni for military
training in Botswana.

She spent 49 days in detention, where she was tortured, beaten up and
threatened with death by her abductors.

Chinanzvavana identified those who detained her as Mararike, Chitate,
alias Chigure, Mhlanga and Ndambakuhwa.

Collen Mutemagau (28) of Banket and his wife, Violet Mupfuranhehwe,
were another MDC couple that was abducted from Banket. They spent 51 days in
police custody.

In her affidavit Violet, who was abducted together with her
two-year-old baby, revealed that the abductors did not have mercy for

"I was given some rules with regard to the child. I was told that the
child was only going to be allowed to go to the toilet. He was not allowed
to cry for food as his father was not buying the food. At times when my
child cried from hunger, one of the officers would beat him up using a fan

At some point she was told if she did not confess like the others, her
child would be taken to an orphanage and she would never see him again.

Violet said one day they were ordered to take part in a quiz. She
refused because she didn't know any.

"I was told to go upstairs to get into the bath tub. He (one of the
interrogators) then began to run very hot water and I was told to bath in
it. I got burnt on my buttocks and for a few days I had blisters on my

One time she and Pieta Kaseke were accused of having spoilt the
toilet. For that, they "spent the whole day having icy cold water poured
down our pants".

The activists want their abductors and those who sanctioned their
abduction to be investigated, charged and prosecuted for crimes against


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Police, Army Roadblocks to Flush Out Banditry

Saturday, 10 January 2009 19:19
BULAWAYO - The police and the army have mounted round the clock
roadblocks across the country on major roads, ostensibly to thwart acts of

This follows the abduction of more than 50 civil society activists and
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) supporters by state agents.

Some of the abductees are currently appearing in Harare courts accused
of recruiting people to undergo military training to topple the government.

President Robert Mugabe's government claims the MDC is preparing for
an insurgency with the help of neighbouring Botswana.

But South Africa and Botswana have laughed off the claims saying they
were hard to believe.

Sources last week said the police and military intelligence officers
were targeting haulage trucks and other heavy vehicles where they check for
weapons of war.

They said the operation started early this month.

"We have been told to search for weapons and other suspicious material
that can be used as weapons," said the source. "It is not very clear when
the operation will end, but we were told that we have to be thorough at
these roadblocks and to arrest any suspicions characters believed to be

Wayne Bvudzijena, the police spokesperson, confirmed roadblocks had
been set up throughout the country but refused to shed more light on their

"We normally have such security roadblocks," Bvudzijena said.

Last week there were reports that heavily armed soldiers and Central
Intelligence Organisation officers raided an outdoor adventure camp in Ruwa
alleging it was an MDC militia training camp.

The MDC says government is using the banditry claims in a deliberate
campaign targeted at destroying its structures.


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Kaseke 'whore' Insult Angers Journalists

Saturday, 10 January 2009 19:06
THE controversial chief executive officer of the Zimbabwe Tourism
Authority (ZTA), Karikoga Kaseke, last week verbally assaulted a female
journalist with The Standard newspaper, calling her a "whore".

The journalist, Sandra Mandizvidza, called Karikoga Kaseke to get his
comment over his alleged altercation with former TV presenter Barney Mpariwa
at the Miss Tourism Zimbabwe finals held in Harare on New Year's Eve.

It is alleged that Mpariwa, who was the Master of Ceremonies at the
event, had been ordered by Kaseke to ask soldiers to sing the national
anthem and salute the winner Vanessa Sibanda.

However, Mpariwa allegedly ignored Kaseke's order, at the instruction
of a government minister who attended the event.

Efforts to get a comment from Mpariwa were fruitless. Kaseke was
however reached for comment.
Instead of responding, Kaseke hurled insults at the young reporter.

"I don't want to talk to you," he said, "write any bullshit you want
to say. Uri hure (you are a whore)."
Mandizvidza asked Kaseke if he had any right to call her a whore, or
if he had any evidence that she was of loose morals.

"I repeat, uri hure," said Kaseke.

Mandizvidza filed a complaint with her superiors and the Zimbabwe
Union of Journalists.

Kaseke told The Standard Editor that he was incensed by an allegation
seeking to link the eventual winner of the pageant to Lieutenant-General
Phillip Sibanda, who attended the December 31 event. He described the
allegation as "disturbing".

Mandizvidza denies making an allegation of the sort to Kaseke.

ZUJ secretary-general Foster Dongozi wrote a letter to Kaseke on
Friday asking him to apologise to the reporter.

He said what Kaseke had done was a clear violation of women's rights.

"We would like to put it to you that we are deeply offended by such
utterances against our member," wrote Dongozi.

"As the face and voice of the country's efforts to revive the tourism
sector, we do not feel using crude language against young journalists is one
way of attracting visitors to the country."

This is not the first time Kaseke has intimidated a Standard
journalist. In 2007, he tried to intimidate Chief Reporter Caiphas Chimhete
for writing a story that Kaseke had beaten up a waiter and sexually harassed
a waitress at the five-star Meikles Hotel.


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Revived PF Zapu Officials Allege Abductions of Members

Saturday, 10 January 2009 19:04
PF Zapu, which recently pulled out of a unity accord with Zanu PF,
says ruling party militias have launched a retribution war targeting its
supporters after three officials were reportedly abducted in Mashonaland

The abductions came hard on the heels of President Robert Mugabe's
declaration of Dumiso Dabengwa's group as dissidents who "should be
castigated and dismissed with the contempt they deserve". Dabengwa leads the
revived PF Zapu.

"On Tuesday three of our off-icials involved in the mobilisation of
supporters in Karoi were kid-napped by Zanu PF militia and held for three
days at bases around the area," said Smile Dube, the PF Zapu interim

"According to the reports that we have received so far the officials
were not harmed but they were traumatised by the ordeal.

"It is clear that Zanu PF bases that were set up in the run up to the
June 27 presidential run-off election are still intact and the party's
leaders are failing to control their supporters."

The three are Gilbert Chikabva, Charles Moyo and Rose Chikede.

The revival of Zapu, which officially severed ties with Zanu PF last
month, has ruffled feathers in the ruling party and sparked an angry
reaction from Mugabe. Dube said they were concerned that the backlash in
Mashonaland West, a PF Zapu stronghold before the unity accord, could be a
precursor to worse things to come.

"We are worried because at the burial of Retired Major Gordon Sibanda
last month, President Mugabe called us dissidents, which invokes memories of
the Gukurahundi massacres," Dube said. "We are afraid that this could have
sent a wrong signal to his supporters."

Dube said the party, which held a convention last month to officially
mark the revival had recorded a number of incidents of intimidation against
its sup-porters throughout the country.

"The vice-chairman, (Canci-well) Nziramasanga, has gone to Karoi to
try and establish what really happened after we got little assistance from
the police," he said. "We hope to establish in the next few days the purpose
of these abductions and what was done to our officials during their illegal
detention. He said relatives of the abductees had confirmed that they had
returned home. Police spokesman, Wayne Bvudzijena was not immediately
available for comment.

The government recently admitted that state security agents were
behind the abduction of several of its opponents it accuses of recruiting
people to undergo military training in Botswana.

Meanwhile, Dube said PF Zapu was pressing ahead with its plans to hold
the party's first congress in 22 years to elect new leaders in the next
three months. Dabengwa, a former Home Affairs Minister is the interim


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Military Dominate Aussie Sanctions List

Saturday, 10 January 2009 18:59
IN a move that confirms the military's role in the current wave of
repression, Australia has slapped sanctions on 25 military and six senior
police officers, three Reserve Bank officials, two provincial governors,
three journalists, and two senior Cricket Zimbabwe officials.

They are part of the 75 Zimbabwean officials added to the list just
before Christmas.

Among the senior military personnel on the latest sanctions list are
Brigadier-General Bussie Sibusiso Moyo, Brigadier-General (retired) Richard
Ruwodo, Major-General Engelbert Rugeje, Air Vice-Marshals Henry Muchena and
Titus Abu Basutu, and Mike Karakadzai.

Among the six senior police officers are Chief Superintendent Toddie
Thomsen Jangara, Assistant Police Commissioners Musarahana Mabunda and
Martin Kwainona, and Senior Assistant Police Commissioners Bothwell Mugariri
and Edmore Veterai.

The three senior officials at the RBZ on the list are Mirirai
Chiremba, Financial Intelligence Unit Chief; Dr Munyaradzi Kereke, Principal
Advisor to RBZ Governor Gideon Gono; and Dr Millicent Mombeshora, Division
Chief, Head of RBZ's Strategic Planning and Special Projects.

The two provincial governors are Faber Chidarikire (Mashonaland West)
and Advocate Martin Dinha (Mashonaland Central).

Cricket Zimbabwe's Peter Chingoka and Ozias Bvute also appear on the
latest list.

The three journalists are Patricia A Made, Senator Joseph Made's
spouse, and the Zimbabwe Newspapers' pair of Caesar Zvayi and Munyaradzi

Surprise inclusions on the list are Professor Lindela Ndlovu,
Vice-Chancellor of the National University of Science and Technology, former
acting Attorney-General Justice Bharat Patel, and Dr Tobias Takavarasha,
chairman of Agricultural and Rural Development Authority.

Four companies with links to Zanu PF have also been added to the list.
They are: Cold Comfort Farm Trust Co-operative, Jongwe Printing and
Publishing Company, Zidco Holdings, and Zimbabwe Defence Industries.

Four individuals have been removed from the sanctions' list: Dumiso
ngwa, Simba Makoni, Charles Mutyambizi, chairman of the Zimbabwe
National Roads Administration, and Elliott Tapfumaneyi, Minister without
Portfolio and Zanu-PF Politburo Secretary for the Commissariat, who died on
December 6 last year.

The full list is reproduced in the box below.

1. ABU BASUTU, Titus MJ, Air Vice Marshal
2. BONYONGWE, Willa or Willia, Chair Securities Commission
3. BVUTE, Ozias, CEO/Managing Director, Zimbabwe Cricket
4. CHAIRUKA, Annie Flora Imagine
5. CHAPFIKA, Abina, DOB 23/07/1961
6. CHARAMBA, Rudo Grace, DOB 20/06/1964
7. CHAWE, McLoud
8. CHIDARIKIRE, Faber, Governor of Mashonaland West
9. CHIHURI, Isobel or Isabel Halima - DOB 14/04/74
10. CHIMEDZA, Paul, Dr
11. CHINAMASA, Monica - DOB 1950
12. CHINGOKA, Peter, Head of Zimbabwe Cricket
13. CHIPWERE, Augustine, Colonial
14. CHIREMBA, Mirirai, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) Financial
Intelligence Unit Chief, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ)
15. CHIVAMBA, Kizito, Zanu-PF Provincial Chair, Midlands
16. CHIWENGA, Jocelyn Mauchaza - DOB 19/05/1955
17. CHOMBO, Ever, DOB 20/09/1956
18. CHOMBO, Marian, DOB 11/09/1960
19. CHURU, Zvinechimwe, CEO, NOCZIM
20. DINHA, Advocate Martin, Governor of Mash Central
21. GONO, Hellin Mushanyuri, DOB 06/05/1962
22. GOWO, Alois, A/g CEO, ZISCO
23. GURIRA, Cephas T, Colonel
24. GWEKWERERE, Stephen, Colonel
26. HUNI, Munyaradzi, journalist, 'Zimbabwe Herald'
27. JANGARA, Thomsen Toddie, ZRP Chief Superintendent for Harare South
28. KACHEPA, Newton, MP elect for Mudzi North
29. KARAKADZI, Mike Tichafa, Air Vice Marshal
30. KEREKE, Munyaradzi, Principal Advisor to RBZ Governor Gideon Gono
31. KHUMALO, Sibangumuzi M (Sixton), Brigadier General
32. KWAINONA, Martin, Assistant Commissioner, Zimbabwe Police
33. KWENDA, R., Major
34. MABUNDA, Musarahana, Assistant Police Commissioner, Officer
Commanding Law and Order division
35. MADE, Patricia A
36. MANDIZHA, Albert, General Manager, Grain Marketing Board
37. MASANGO, Clemence, Chief Immigration Officer
38. MASHAVA, G, Colonel
39. MHANDU, Cairo (or Kairo), Major, Zimbabwe National Army
40. MHONDA, Fidellis, Colonel
41. MOMBESHORA, Millicent, Division Chief, Head of Strategic Planning
and Special Projects, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ)
MOYO, Gilbert
42. MOYO, Sibusio Bussie, Brigadier General, ZNA
43. MPABANGA, S, Lt Col
44. MSIPA, Sharlottie, DOB 6/5/1936
45. MUCHENA, Henry, Air Vice Marshal
46. MUCHONO, C, Lt Col
47. MUDONHI, Columbus, Assistant Inspector, Zimbabwe Police
48. MUDZVOVA, Paul, Sergeant
49. MUGARIRI, Bothwell, Senior Assistant Police commissioner, Officer
Commanding Harare Province
50. MUMBA, Isaac, Superintendent Zimbabwe Police
51. MUTASA, Gertrude, Colonel
52. MUTSVUNGUMA, S, Colonel
53. MZILIKAZI, Morgan, Colonel
54. NDLOVU, Lindela, Professor
55. NDLOVU, Rose Jaele, DOB 27/09/1939
56. NKOMO, Georgina Ngwenya, DOB 04/08/1966
57. NKOMO, Louise S (a.k.a. NHEMA, Louise Sehlule), DOB 25/08/1964
58. NYAWANI, Misheck
59. NYONI, Peter Baka, DOB 10/01/1950
61. PATEL, Bharat, Acting Attorney-General
62. RANGWANI, Dani, Detective Inspector
63. RAUTENBACH, Conrad Muller (aka Billy)
64. RUGEJE, Engelbert Abel, Major General
65. RUNGANI, Victor TC, Colonel
66. RUWODO, Richard, Brigadier General (retired), former acting
Permanent Under Secretary at Ministry of Defence
67. SEKERAMAYI, Tsitsi Chihuri, DOB 1944
68. SIBANDA, Chris, Colonel
69. SIGAUKE, David, Brigadier
70. SHUNGU, Etherton, Brigadier
71. TAKAVARASHA, Tobias, Dr, CEO, Agriculture and Rural Development
72. TARUMBWA, Nathaniel Charles, Brigadier
73. VETERAI, Edmore, Senior Assistant Police Commissioner, Officer
Commanding Harare
74. ZHUWAO, Beauty Lily, DOB 10/01/1965
75. ZVAYI, Caesar, Political and Features Editor, Herald
Total: 75

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Zimbabweans Continue to Flood SA

Saturday, 10 January 2009 18:10
BULAWAYO - An unprecedented number of Zimbabweans entered South Africa
through legal and ungazetted entry points after the festive season,
officials at the Beitbridge border post said last week.

Transport operators, including human traffickers popularly known as
omalayitsha, recorded brisk business as they helped desperate Zimbabweans
without proper travel documents to skip the border.

Immigration officials who spoke to The Standard said the number of
people who crossed into South Africa after Christmas was much higher than
those who entered Zimbabwe for the holidays.

They said although figures were not readily available the period after
Christmas and the first week of this month were unusually busy.

"Those without bus fare made arrangements with relatives in South
Africa to pay on arrival," said an immigration official who requested

The traffickers charge as much as R1 500 to smuggle people without
travel documents.

According to figures released by the South African Home Affairs
department, nearly 70 000 people entered the country using the Beitbridge
border post in December alone.

Thousands others could be unaccounted for as they enter South Africa
by swimming across the crocodile-infested Limpopo, while others bribe
immigration officials to go through.

Unions representing civil servants said they feared most of those who
escaped to South Africa and other neighbouring countries were their members
who have grown tired of Zimbabwe's unending problems.

"The announcement by the South African government that it wants to
recruit 94 000 teachers played a significant role in forcing teachers to
flee the country," said Raymond Majongwe, the Progressive Teachers' Union of
Zimbabwe secretary-general.

"Most of the teachers were hoping that the Zimbabwean political
environment would change with the success of the talks.

"Now that all this has failed, teachers have no other option but to
seek alternative means of survival, which include seeking employment

Zimbabwe Medical Association (ZIMA) secretary-general Tapiwa Bwakura
echoed similar sentiments saying workers in the health sector were also
rushing to leave the country.

"Our professionals, like other Zimbabweans are finding it difficult to
earn a living from their salaries here," he said.

"Nurses, doctors, laboratory technicians, and pharmacists have left
the country to find jobs in the region, mainly in South Africa, Namibia,
Botswana, and Swaziland."

South Africa, according to reports, now deports more than 4 500
Zimbabweans every week, but most of them quickly find their way back.

A number of Zimbabweans are also eyeing job opportunities accompanying
next year's soccer World Cup in the neighbouring country.


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Nkomo Evicts Opponent After Court Ruling in lodge dispute

Saturday, 10 January 2009 18:01
ZANU PF chairman John Nkomo evicted his neighbour and safari operator,
Langton Masunda, from a disputed lodge over the festive season after he won
a summary High Court judgment.

The lodge, Jijima Lodge, left behind by a commercial farmer at the
height of the land reform programme, is in the wildlife rich Gwayi
Conservancy of Matabeleland North. Nkomo has been battling to acquire the
lodge for years on the basis that it is situated within his Lugo Ranch.

Masunda argues that the lodge is within the boundary of his Volunteer
Farms 47, 48 and 49 allocated to him in 2002. He has won several court
challenges against Nkomo, who says he got an offer letter for Lugo Ranch in
2003 from the Ministry of Lands, Land Reform and Resettlement, which he was

But High Court Judge President Rita Makarau on November 13 ordered
Masunda's eviction after his lawyers reportedly arrived late for a hearing
on the case.

A letter by Nkomo's lawyers, Dube-Banda, Nzarayapenga & Partners to
the Hwange Messenger of Court dated December 18 notes the eviction was
carried out despite an application for the rescission of the judgment.
Judgment on the appeal is pending.

"Kindly proceed to serve and evict the defendant without giving any
notice," reads the letter from the lawyers. "What you may remove are
personal belongings that may not be associated with running the business of
a lodge.

"Upon your arrival and in the event that there are any guests booked
there, they should be advised to immediately move out and do not enter into
any understanding with them."

Masunda was not available for comment last week as he was said to be
at the farm and was unreachable.
In 2006, High Court Judge Justice Francis Bere dismissed with costs
Nkomo's application to evict Masunda from the lodge.


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Millions More Join Ranks of the Poor

Saturday, 10 January 2009 16:53
MORE than 75% of Zimbabweans are living in abject poverty while more
than half of the population is in urgent need of food assistance to avert
imminent starvation, international aid agencies said last week.

Save the Children, a United Kingdom-based aid organisation, said the
economic meltdown had left over 10 million of the estimated 12,5 million
people in the country living in "desperate poverty".

Children are the most affected by the economic crisis, which is
characterised by food and foreign currency shortages, the recent outbreak of
cholera and anthrax as well as collapse of the education and health sectors.

Cholera, a preventable and curable disease, has killed more than 1 700
people since August last year, a clear indication of the collapse of the
country's health delivery system.

The aid agency said acute child malnutrition in parts of Zimbabwe had
increased by almost two thirds in 2008, compared with the previous year.
"Children are bearing the brunt of a crushing economic meltdown that has
left 10 million people in desperate poverty," said the aid agency in a
recent report.

Save the Children estimated that 18 000 tonnes of food was needed for
this month.

The World Food Programme (WFP), which mobilises assistance for needy
countries, said about 5,1 million people in Zimbabwe would need food aid
this month.

It said the number of people in need of assistance could increase as
more households exhaust food stocks from the previous harvest.

But the National Association of Non-Governmental Organisations
(Nango), an association of local aid agencies, said the number of people
requiring food aid was now well above the projected 5,1 million because of
the worsening economic crisis.

Nango advocacy and communications manager Fambai Ngirande said the
projected figure of 5,1 million had now been surpassed.

"It's way beyond that figure and the situation is worsening," Ngirande

He said poverty was being fuelled by the dollarisation of the economy,
crop failure in some parts of the country and inability by government to
adequately support farmers with farming inputs.

As a result of hunger, said Ngirande, most people were resorting to
negative coping mechanisms to survive such as prostitution, child labour,
eating poisonous roots as well as leaving the country in search of a better

Save the Children said: "For those left behind, this crisis has left
families living in abject poverty, unable to buy enough food to eat or to
afford healthcare." Some families have resorted to eating one proper meal a

Ngirande called on government to come up with a budget empowering
social ministries to contain the current crisis that has impoverished the
majority of the population.

He said more funding should be channelled to social service sectors
such as health, education and food provision.

"We urge them to come up with a very strong dimension to empower
social services ministries to contain the crisis we are experiencing in the
country," Ngirande said.

This year's national budget could not be presented in November last
year because of the absence of a legally constituted government.

The budget can only be presented after the conclusion of talks between
Zanu PF and the two MDC formations to set up an all-inclusive government.

Last year the government banned aid agencies in the country accusing
them of working with the MDC to topple President Robert Mugabe's

Although they have resumed operations, said Ngirande, there were still
"some structural" hindrances to their work.


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Survival Dilemma as 'dollarisation' 'Takes Root

Saturday, 10 January 2009 16:40
WHEN Masvingo mayor Alderman Femias Chakabuda called for a public
meeting to explain the municipality's proposals to charge for services in
foreign currency, he expected little resistance as everyone seemed to have
abandoned the Zimbabwe dollar.

But Chakabuda and his councillors left the meeting in a hurry after
angry residents heckled them, with some even throwing missiles at the City

Residents of the country's oldest town lashed out at the councillors,
saying the proposed changes would drive them into more misery.

Masvingo Residents' and Ratepayers Association spokesperson, Lydia
Mutungira said: "The move by council is the highest stage of insensitivity
to the plight of the already hard-pressed common man."

The residents' frustration is shared by millions of Zimbabweans left
helpless in the face of the seemingly unstoppable dollarisation of the

Government institutions whose services had remained relatively
affordable in the face of Zimbabwe's world record-breaking inflation levels
are charging in foreign currency, leaving the majority of consumers in a

Although the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) still maintains the
economy has not been dollarised, all essential goods and services - food,
transport, accommodation, healthcare - are priced in either the greenback or
the rand.

In urban areas such as Bulawayo, Beitbridge and Plumtree illegal
foreign currency dealers are fast disappearing as interest in the Zimbabwe
dollar wanes.

Last week, the Goodwills Masimirembwa-led National Incomes and Pricing
Commission (NIPC) embarked on what analysts said was a futile exercise to
arrest businesses and vendors charging in foreign currency.

Independent economist John Robertson said the dollarisation of the
economy was unstoppable because of the damage wrought by the Zimbabwe
government on the economy.

"They (government) have destroyed the value of the Zimbabwean dollar,"
said Robertson. "They now have no choice but to use another currency.

"If they do not want to use another currency, like the United States
dollar, the only other option would be to restore the value of the local

"This is not possible at the moment because the means of production
have collapsed. They don't have a choice but to use another currency."

A country is said to have dollarised its economy when universally all
goods and services are payable in another country's legal tender.

The practice has spread to rural areas where villagers not well versed
in currencies of other countries are at risk of losing their property to
cunning dealers.

Introducing the Foreign Exchange Licensed Wholesalers and Retail
Shops, Foreign Exchange Licence for Oil Companies and Foreign Licensed
Outlet for Petrol and Diesel in September, RBZ governor Gideon Gono said
some basic commodities would not be sold in foreign currency to cushion
vulnerable groups.

However, since the introduction of the scheme, virtually all goods and
services are now being priced in foreign currency.

In most cases, the prices are far above the average amount pegged for
similar products in neighbouring countries. While this has been a slap in
the face for Gono, the latest developments have compounded the suffering of
ordinary low-income earners and the rural folk who are struggling to access
foreign currency.
Even state institutions like universities and hospitals are demanding
fees in foreign currency. Mobile phone tariffs, rentals, and bus fares are
now pegged in foreign currency.

Labour unions have been lobbying for the payment of salaries in
foreign currency, a call that has been rejected by the government and some

The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) will next week hold a
special general council meeting where the issue is expected to dominate

The labour body's acting Secretary-General, Gideon Shoko, said the
only way to cushion workers was to have salaries pegged in foreign currency.

"The General Council of the ZCTU is meeting on 17 January to make a
decision on the way forward concerning the issue of payment in foreign
currency," he said, "although some affiliates have already approached
employers to be paid in foreign currency."

On Thursday, Zimbabwe Teachers' Association (ZIMTA) president Tendai
Chikowore said teachers would only report for duty if their salaries were
pegged in foreign currency.

A ZCTU resolution to push for salaries in foreign currency could spark
a showdown with the Employers' Confederation of Zimbabwe (Emcoz), which is
against the move.

"Our members cannot pay in foreign currency at this moment because
that would be illegal," said Emcoz President David Govere.

"They do realise, however, that the current remuneration practice is
unworkable because they are obliged to pay salaries and wages in Zimbabwe
dollars into bank accounts and are not always able to get the money, and
when they do get it they find that it had largely ceased to be commercial

Govere said they were currently consulting with the RBZ, Ministry of
Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare and the Ministry of Finance over
the issue.

Acting Minister of Finance, Patrick Chinamasa refused to comment on
what government was doing to cushion ordinary people amid the fresh
challenges brought about by dollarisation.

Last week, Health and Child Welfare Minister, David Parirenyatwa
announced that government hospitals would now accept forex payments from
patients. State universities also joined the bandwagon, pegging tuition fees
in forex. Student activists have already denounced the latest move, saying
it would force hundreds of students to drop out of their studies.

A notice published at the Midlands State University (MSU) last week
indicates that students will now be required to pay between US$500 and $710
for undergraduate programmes, while postgraduate programmes cost up to

Zimbabwe National Students' Union (Zinasu) president Clever Bere said
this could only be a stopgap measure that would not solve the real problems
facing the education sector.

Daniel Ndlela, an independent economist, said the tendency to increase
prices pegged in foreign currency could be psychological as Zimbabweans were
living in a hyperinflationary environment.

"People believe that since we are under hyperinflation the US dollar
prices must also increase," said Ndlela, adding that dollarised economies
enjoy stable prices as they only import inflation from the country that uses
the currency they adopt.


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Power-sharing Deadlock Halts Trans-limpopo Development

Saturday, 10 January 2009 16:36
BULAWAYO - Zimbabwe's political stalemate has left ambitious projects
under the Trans-Limpopo Spatial Development Initiative in limbo with almost
all the projects still to take off.

The setback might see Zimbabwe losing out on investment opportunities
associated with the 2010 soccer World Cup in South Africa.

The development corridor targets Zimbabwean and South African
provinces on either side of the Limpopo River.

Matabelelalnd North, Matabeleland South and Bulawayo on the Zimbabwean
side and Limpopo Province in South Africa signed a Memorandum of
Understanding eight years ago to establish the corridor.

Two years ago, the provinces proposed a number of tourism projects
ahead of the tournament to tap into the increase in the number of tourists
visiting the region ahead of the tournament.

Some of the initiatives included attracting reputable airlines to
service the Bulawayo-Victoria Falls-Polokwane routes, upgrading tourism
infrastructure in the provinces and setting a one stop border post in
Beitbridge by last year.

But no tangible project has taken off the ground, almost a year before
the World Cup roars into life.
Bulisani Ncube, the spokesman of the Zimbabwean side of the TLSDI,
said hopes that projects in the corridor would take off in time for the
tournament now hinged on the success of the talks between Zanu PF and the
two MDC formations.

"Government processes move at a slower pace," he said. "The agreement
was signed way back in 2001 and there has been little progress on the whole

"Our hope is that with the conclusion of the talks, we will see the
initiative moving faster as there would be a ministry that will ensure that
the implementation process is made faster."

Ncube said the proposed Ministry of Regional Integration in the unity
government should prioritise the development of the corridor.

"We are encouraged by the fact that Sadc as a body realises the
potential that lies in initiatives such as the TLSDI.

"What Sadc has done is to encourage countries to take a lead role in
these development corridors and then Sadc as a body will provide the
necessary support.

"We are working to ensure that this project moves to another level,
that is to get down to the real task of ensuring the practicability of the
Memorandum of Understanding that was signed by the respective governments,"
he said.

The initiative seeks to help Zimbabwe and South African provinces
establish relations in the areas of tourism, industry, trade and investment
mining, transport, infrastructure development, agriculture and arts and
culture sectors.

Already, a number of cities and towns have entered into twinning
arrangements that are expected to help them jointly promote investment
opportunities in the two countries.

These include Beitbridge-Musina, Bulawayo-Polokwane, Gwanda-Louis
Tritchard/ Makhado, and Victoria Falls-Parabukwa/ Waterburg.

Ncube said meaningful developments had taken place in the arts sector
as Zimbabwean groups had been invited to high profile events across the

"This is part of the initiative's drive to promote integration, not
only in industry and commerce, but also in other sectors which include the
arts sector," he said.


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Cane Cutters Demand Wages Iin Forex

Saturday, 10 January 2009 16:32
MASVINGO - Workers at sugar cane plantations in the Lowveld last week
downed tools demanding payment of their salaries in foreign currency.

The workers say they also want their employers to give them regular
maize-meal allocations in order to save their families from starvation.

Zimbabwe is in the throes of serious food shortages, with aid
agencies putting the number of people needing food assistance at more than
five million, effective this month.

The strike has since spread to the two giant sugar milling companies,
Triangle and Hippo Valley and could paralyse the production of sugar already
hampered by the multi-faceted economic crisis in the country.

Employers across the economy are under increased pressure to pay
workers in foreign currency as the local unit continues to lose value at an
alarming rate.

The plantation workers said salaries paid in Zimbabwean dollars had
become useless as everything in Chiredzi - their nearest town - was being
sold in foreign currency.

"We engaged in this strike to press for our salaries to be paid in
foreign currency since the economy has been dollarised," said one of the
workers who requested to remain anonymous.

"The salaries we are getting in local currency no longer buy anything
since nearly all the shops are selling their products in forex,"

Zimbabwe Sugar Milling Workers' Union (Zismiwu), which represents
workers in the plantations, confirmed the job action.

Admore Hwarare, the secretary-general, said his union was locked in
negotiations with employers over the issue.

"Yes, there is a strike going on and the workers are refusing to go
back to work until they are given maize-meal and forex," he said. "While we
are negotiating for salaries, the union is busy trying to source maize-meal
for workers."

The strike is set to further slash sugar cane production, which fell
over 50% since the start of the chaotic land invasions in 2000.

Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), secretary-general,
Wellington Chibebe said the strike by the workers was justified under the
economic conditions.

"Their action is justified," he said, "everything in the country is
being sold in foreign currency so they must be paid in forex so that they
can afford to buy food stuffs."

Efforts to get a comment from Triangle and Hippo Valley were


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New Rules To Tighten Trading On ZSE

Saturday, 10 January 2009 16:28
THE Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE), in limbo since November last year
following a Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) clampdown on errant traders, is
preparing to resume business before the end of the month, a senior official
has said.

Trading on the ZSE was stopped on November 19 after some traders were
found to be putting buy orders to purchase shares when their accounts were
not adequately funded.

There were also problems with the Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS)
system, which resulted in money transferred to stockbrokers by share buyers
failing to go through.

Seti Shumba, the ZSE chairman told Standardbusiness that "given
goodwill on all sides and if things go according to plan, we should be
looking at resuming trade by end of January."

Shumba said ZSE was working with the Securities Commission to sort
out the settlement risk.

"We are sorting out the compliance matters relating to when should a
stockbroker purchase shares for a client," he said.

"The rule is that stockbrokers should purchase shares once money is
deposited into stockbrokers account."
He said clients were putting in purchase orders when they did not
have adequate funds and the bourse was closing that loophole.

Shumba said ZSE was also mulling dollarisation and is working on how
it will be rolled out.
"For example, if the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange was to dollarise would
that entail every client to open a Foreign Currency Account," Shumba said.

"The ultimate question is whether there is sufficient US$ out there
to sustain the market."
While authorities have taken more than two months to resolve the
problem, the losers' list has been growing by the day.

The hardest hit are the country's 18 stock broking firms who act as
intermediaries in the selling of shares.
They survive solely on commissions paid and with no trade for nearly
two months, the costs are escalating.
"Stockbrokers are in a difficult period, there is no income and the
cost keeps on accumulating.

The bulk of their costs are designated in US$," an executive with a
brokerage firm said. ZSE itself has also lost in income as it gets 5% of
stockbrokers' commission.

Since November, the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) has been
losing revenue from Value Added Tax, which is charged on stockbrokers'

ZIMRA has also lost out in stamp duty and withholding tax, which is
charged at 5% on all sales.

Pension funds and insurance companies are also bleeding. At least 40%
of insurance companies' investment portfolio is held in equities, 50% in
properties and the balance in money markets and government bonds.

"It does not look good for insurance companies. If there is a major
claim, you won't fund it," an executive said.

For Pinnacle Property Holdings the delay means it has to wait longer
before it lists on ZSE.

Phillip Chiyangwa, the owner of Pinnacle said they had deferred their
listing on ZSE as there was no activity on the stock market.

"We have been waiting to list but the stock exchange is not trading,"
Chiyangwa said.

Ordinary investors who have put their money in equities to hedge
against inflation are also in a quandary.
ZSE has become the alternative investment platform, which give
returns above inflation.

Last year there was a hive of activity on ZSE as individuals bought
shares to capitalise on the bull run.


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Alex Magaisa: Looking Back at Pain and Wasted Opportunities

Saturday, 10 January 2009 17:20
THE commencement of the year traditionally carries an abundance of
dreams, promises and resolutions.

The apparent newness of the calendar year coming so soon after the
merriment of the Festive Season always conjures beautiful visions. That is
as it should be. But clearly, it is not so in Zimbabwe and for its people.
For those through whom the Zimbabwean thread runs, the New Year is no more
than a change in numbers.

For my part, I took a decision a week before Christmas, to disengage
completely from most things Zimbabwean, at least for a fortnight. I was
tired. I was tired of the bad news from home.

I was tired of the stories of dissipating hope. I looked back at the
year and noted how fast it had passed us by. How the hope that was so
beautifully sown in March became a nightmare hours after what ought to have
been a momentous election.

I saw how the seeds of violence were sown, nourished and nurtured in
the run up to the June 27 run-off election that became the greatest
non-event of all time. I thought of the embarrassment we all felt at the

I remembered the hopes that were again sown in July and September when
our politicians signed deals after weeks of secret and protracted
negotiations. I looked back and saw the flicker of hope laced with caution;
a cautious optimism that battered Zimbabweans have learned to carry in their
psyche through harsh experience. Then I recalled the dithering; the hassling
over cabinet portfolios; the growing divide between the politicians whilst
the ordinary people sunk deeper in the murky waters.

]And how just a few weeks before Christmas, events took a nasty turn
when political and human rights activists were violently abducted and caused
to disappear, conjuring memories of a bitter past, especially for those of
my colleagues from Matabeleland who in the 1980s had suffered and endured
violations of a similar and grave character.

I was exhausted and for the first time in years, the optimist in me
had begun to give way. I realised that thinking about everything that had
happened and was continuing without fail was becoming a very cruel game
against my faculties.

And so I disengaged. It's difficult to imagine living without the
internet, let alone for someone whose work entails continual presence in
cyberspace. I have often wondered how it was before the internet - how those
far away from home would have to wait for days or weeks before getting the
newspaper from home.

Then again, I sometimes wonder if the internet can be nuisance; if we
all too often permit it to take over our lives. And that sometimes there is
far too much information it's hard to separate fact from fiction, especially
when it comes to my beloved Zimbabwe.

A combination of factors conspired to cause me to experiment a life
without the internet. I have to confess, there were times when the urge to
log in and check email; there were occasions when the temptation to google
news on Zimbabwe was far too much to resist.

For someone who has religiously followed the story of Zimbabwe and
devoutly written about it, the urge to explore cyberspace had a magnetic
effect that I found hard to resist, not least when I saw pictures of Jestina
Mukoko and her fellow abductees being shepherded into Rotten Row Magistrates'
Courts in Harare during what was supposed to be a season of merriment.

My heart suffered and more than once those pictures welled my eyes
with sad tears. How could people be so cruel? Do they really sleep at night?
Where do they come from - those who apply such pain on others? Do they not
have parents, children or siblings? Do they really have families to whom
they go after "work" knowing what they know and knowing the pain their
actions cause to others? I was reminded of the boys who many years ago in my
days of youth made a sport of killing defenceless little birds, little

Back then I had watched helplessly, alongside my friends as the
vicious boys celebrated their sordid acts even whilst the mother eagle
soared above them, crying cries only a mother can cry - cries for her little
babies at the end of a tortuous examination.

I was tired but I have to admit that I became a Robinson Crusoe of
cyberspace with hopes of a possible miracle - that somehow something would
happen to Zimbabwe whilst I was a castaway -something that would bring a
smile upon my return from what was essentially an "internet coma".

I have returned from my hibernation and there is no miracle. Things
are just as they were when I left before Christmas, only worse. I can
understand why those who departed this world five years ago, if they were to
return today, they would find things have not changed much as far as
Zimbabwe is concerned. They might even regret it because things have only
got worse.

At this rate, I quite understand why if time favours us we will be
here again this time next year, saying exactly the same things that we are
saying today. After all, we have said the same things over and over again.
How many times have we heard or said: "Ha-a gore rino hariperi (this year
will, surely, end with a positive outcome)." It has happened year after

I wish to thank you, dear reader, for your company in 2008. When I set
out to write this column it was because I believed in the power of the word;
it was because I felt that no matter where you are, the word can always be
said, read and heard and that on fortunate occasions it can have a desirable

Those of you accustomed to the style and approach in this column will
know that there are no sacred cows - that I regard politicians as a tribe -
and whatever tongues they use, whatever colours they exhibit, we must always
maintain our guard and keep them on their toes. They should never take us
for granted.

When I critique the actions of President Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF, it
is not because I hate them; not even that I prefer Morgan Tsvangirai and
Arthur Mutambara and their respective MDCs. And when I critique Tsvangirai
and Mutambara, it is not because I hate them. It is because they are all
politicians who seek to gain our trust and confidence but in doing so, that
they must never take us for granted.

I believe that our politicians can only grow and learn from their
mistakes and when they stumble citizens must tell them so that in future
they can avoid the pitfalls. I just consider mine to be small voice among
many more intelligent and eloquent ones.

I am just privileged that my voice has space in a national newspaper.
It does not mean I get it right all the time. Not even that people should
believe it, no. Most probably, I get it wrong most of the time. That is why
your comments and correspondence are always welcome because I learn as much
from you and the views that you express.

I don't do praise-singing and I don't expect any, though it's always
warmly received. I would like to thank all those that have read the column
and those who have gone on to write to me.

I have had some of the most wonderful correspondence with many readers
of the column and it is those conversations that fuel the desire to go on
and best of all, give me hope, even during those times when things seem so
desperate, as they do presently.

There are those who will be unhappy that I have on occasions not
responded to their emails. I apologise for the lethargy on my part but I
hope you also understand that sometimes work and other commitments do get in
the way. Do not tire. As they say, "Hope springs Eternal".

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

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Sunday View: 2009, Another Bleak Farming Season

Saturday, 10 January 2009 17:09
SINCE the government embarked on the land reform programme in 2000,
regardless of the amount of rainfall received, food production in Zimbabwe
has been declining annually.

For example, 2006/2007 was a good year in terms of rainfall but very
little food was produced. It is important to look at the prospect of this
season now so that proper planning can be undertaken in time.

Any continued planting of maize now should be discounted in looking at
the incoming season. If such maize was to mature, that should be taken as a
bonus. There will be continued shortage of food this year. It is likely to
be on a much wider scale than last season.

There has been a lot of talk about the Champion Farmer programme,
where we have seen lots of distribution of so-called inputs to supposedly
many farmers across the country. We have been told that 500 000 hectares
were put under the programme and that this would produce 2 000 000 tonnes of

But we know for certain that while the maize seed required for the
season is 50 000 tonnes, there was only 23 000 tonnes available with a
further promised import of 5 000 tonnes. So, seed shortage militated against
putting sufficient land under maize production.

The hectares planted can only be a factor of seed availability. I know
for certain that champion farmers across the country got very small
quantities of maize seed. While there is maize seed now available in shops,
it came in rather late and it is not affordable particularly to small
farmers who happen to be the main producers. But like everything, it is sold
in foreign currency.

There was no diesel for land preparation this season. During previous
seasons, farmers applied and got diesel at very low prices. The system was
abused as some people who were not farmers were getting this diesel and
selling it. Although this was not discontinued, there has been no diesel for
farmers at all throughout this planting season. A few of the champion
farmers were lucky to get a drum or so of diesel right at the beginning of
the planting season.

Those who were able to plant anything had to use coupons. To get
coupons, one had to go to the illegal money market. This shows how less
serious the country is about food requirements of the people. What this
means is that in addition to seed shortage, the land could not be ploughed
since there was no fuel.

Total unavailability of fertilisers was much more acute than seed.
Farmers planted without any basal fertilisers. In those areas where
rainfall came in time, their crops are now in need of top dressing
fertilisers. There is none available.

A combination of unavailability of fuel, insufficient seed and absence
of any form of fertilisers can only mean that the crop will be adversely
affected. There will be massive food shortage this year. This is compounded
by the rainfall pattern.

The situation on the ground at beginning of January is that there have
been good rains in the south of the country. Those who were able to plant
have a good crop. The south in this regard includes Masvingo, the Midlands,
Matabeleland North and South.

If rains continue up to March, many people will have at least some
food to see them past winter. The whole of Manicaland and Mashonaland East,
including districts such as Marondera and Hwedza are disastrous. In these
areas, their first rainfall was during Christmas week. Farmers were still
busy planting.

The early maturing maize varieties take 120 days; by that time it will
be too cool for maize. Only hot districts like Buhera, Chimanimani, Marange
and Mutare in Manicaland can still hope for something if rains continue
support what they planted during Christmas.

The main maize producing districts in Mashonaland West and Central
will be affected by lack of fuel, seed and fertilisers. This can be seen by
the amount of land lying fallow. Manicaland and Mashonaland East are also
big producers but they will have very little.

The sum total of all this is that if rains continue up to the end of
season, I estimate that at best, maize produced will be less than 500 000
tonnes. This means a shortfall of 1.5million tonnes in domestic

Zimbabweans will continue to starve until at least April 2010. Nothing
can be done to change this. The sooner this is realised the better because
plans need to be put in place now. to avoid a perpetuation of the food
shortage and break this chain which has been going on since 2000, there is
need to draw up agricultural production plans for the next season now.

Renson Gasela is the MDC deputy secretary for information and
publicity and the secretary lands and agriculture


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Comment: Drivers of Cholera Epidemic Unchecked

Saturday, 10 January 2009 17:07
WHILE the international community, led by Unicef, the World Health
Organisation, and the International Organisation for Migration have rallied
support in fighting the cholera epidemic, the causes of the disease outbreak
remain largely unattended to.

Burst water pipes and blocked sewers have no one to attend to them,
while mounds of rubbish continue to accumulate in a spectacular illustration
of the complete collapse of service delivery.

Nearly 2 000 people have died so far since the outbreak of cholera in
August last year, while more than 30 000 others have been struck down by the

The extent to which burst water pipes have been left unattended,
especially after the unnecessary loss of so many lives, suggests that
President Robert Mugabe needs to do more than sacking the Minister of Water
Resources and Infrastructural Development.

That there hasn't been a flurry of activity in the wake of the
minister's firing more than a week ago demonstrates the incompetence of the
management at the Zimbabwe National Water Authority and the extent to which
the rot has set in.

What is striking is that while the number of burst pipes multiplies,
it is difficult to understand where Zinwa workers are and why no one comes
across them at work.

More needs to be done and the only way seems to be wholesale sacking
and disbandment of Zinwa and returning the services to local authorities.
The cholera outbreak was a damning indictment of Zinwa's unmitigated

But returning the services back to local authorities will not be
sufficient enough. The partnership with the UN agencies and other
international non-governmental organisations backed by the world community
needs to consider the post-cholera scenario in Zimbabwe.

The crisis suggests that in the post-cholera environment, the
international community will need to come to the assistance of Zimbabwe in
repairing and maintaining infrastructure.

To be able to effectively do this there will be need to put in place a
package that is good enough to lure back the skills, expertise and knowledge
that have migrated to the region.

In the meantime the mountains of uncollected rubbish need to be
removed. One approach would be to let individuals and companies cart off the
refuse to municipal dumpsites without charges because they would be doing
local authorities a favour. In any case residents are paying for refuse
removal but without a service being provided.

Allowing more players to come in would remove one of the causes of
cholera and prevent other health hazards created by unhealthy environments.

Not long ago, several private companies were contracted to remove
refuse. Presumably their equipment is still available. It is imperative that
these be allowed to operate and keep our urban areas clean.

It is criminal that organisations such as Zinwa - given the duties
they are entrusted with - can be allowed to fold their arms and watch when
they should be rolling up their sleeves and getting on with the task of
ensuring they provide services.

The sacking of the Minister of Water and Infrastructural Development
and proposal under the Global Political Agreement to allocate service
ministries to Morgan Tsvangirai's MDC-T provide grounds for believing the
decline in service delivery could be reversed. This assumption is based on
the record of performance and delivery of the MDC-T-led local authorities.

But they will not cope on their own. A massive effort with
international support is needed to correct the collapse of services that is
Zanu PF's legacy.

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Sunday Opinion: How 2008 Crawled to the Door...

Saturday, 10 January 2009 17:00
FOR Zimbabwe, the year 2008 crawled to the Exit door, barely able to
breathe freely. Behind him (or her?), 2009 fretted visibly, quaking with
fear and anxiety.

"Come on, you lazybones," said 2008. "Shake a leg or we'll create
history - a long hiatus before one year is followed by another."

"I'm coming! Keep your shirt on," said 2009, rather sheepishly.
"Sorry, I forgot you don't have a shirt on. You lost everything, didn't

"Yeah - my shirt, my self-respect, my dignity, my.everything! These
people will strip you of everything you hold dear, before they are finished
with you. You can prepare to be humiliated for the next 365 days."

So, that is how we entered the New Year, everybody concerned with our
welfare on the verge of giving up. Would we last another year, in this
man-made hellhole?

I only returned in November, after a period of involuntary exile in
the United Kingdom, where hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans are
sheltering from the death and destruction wrought on their country by Zanu
PF in nearly 30 years of death, torture, corruption and the destruction of
not only their currency, their agriculture, their education, their tourism,
but even their self-respect and dignity.

It's not all paradise for the exiles either. A relative's son in a
remote Hampshire County village reported one afternoon that she ought to
expect the mother of a school mate to complain to her.
"Why?" she asked.

"I ripped off his pants," said the son heartily.
"He called me a nigger."
The mother did not turn up; perhaps she had found out that her son had
asked for the pants to be ripped off.

It's no picnic for the exiles, for Britain, apart from its inclement
weather, has people whose coldness of heart can match the winter chill any

Nearly all of them wish things would return to normal back home. "Why
can't they agree to end this stupid crisis? Can't they see it involves
someone swallowing their pride and being prepared to share this cake with

This cake, if you are keen enough on language, is this country which,
at the start of its independence had been destined - according to almost
everyone's prediction, - for a period of such growth and prosperity it might
soon provide the world with a surefire formula for turning a former colonial
backwater into a thriving, self-respecting independent African model of
success, President Robert Mugabe went on leave, they said, officially.

The suggestion was offered by someone: to show their disgust at this
shameless gesture of lacking a shred of sympathy for the people, they should
lie on the runway and dare the presidential pilot to run them over.
"The soldiers would shoot them first - make no mistake about that!"
said one man. "They are past caring for human life."

So, this is what we are now facing: a heartless regime, a regime so
preoccupied with its own survival in power, life has lost all meaning. How
did we get to this point?

Two politicians have come closest to telling us the grisly history of
Zanu PF - Joshua Nkomo and Edgar Tekere. In their brief autobiographies,
they chronicled for us how a noble ideal - independence after a long, bloody
struggle - was turned into a circus of murder, greed and megalomania.

Yet, so far, nobody has told us the real genesis of the madness that
finally unhinged the collective psyche of Zanu PF. When, precisely, was the
decision taken to kill anyone who evinced the slightest opposition to the
grand plan to subjugate the people as thoroughly as Ian Smith tried to do?

Somehow, I have always thought of Roger Boka as one who would have
chronicled for us how he rose to the peak of financial power, then,
inexplicably, his empire seemed to collapse - and his young life with it.

I first met Boka in 1981 when he ran a stationery shop in Bulawayo.
Tommy Sithole introduced him to me as one of the rising stars of the country's
economic emancipation. I last saw him alive in the mid-1990s, when the late
Farayi Munyuki and I were passengers in his car on our way to the funeral of
Charles Chikerema, editor of The Sunday Mail in Zvimba communal area in
Mashonaland West.

Boka had planned to launch a newspaper, hence Munyuki's presence. The
first black editor of The Herald before others, including Sithole and
Chikerema took over, had introduced me to Boka on the basis of the planned
launch of his newspaper.

There has been, as far as I know, no biography of Boka. I have always
felt that people like Boka could shed much-needed light on what turned Zanu
PF into the monster that it has now become.

Another fascinating biography would be Eddison Zvobgo's. This
brilliant politician and some time poet died before his time. I bet he could
have told us at what stage Zimbabwe became the kind of country a whole year
quakes before being introduced to it.


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Zim Standard Letters
Saturday, 10 January 2009 15:33

ZIMBABWE is in the vortex of a perfect humanitarian storm; an unprecedented convergence of AIDS, poverty, hyperinflation, malnutrition, a regime that does not care and, now, cholera. The humanitarian crisis has its roots in the political crisis.

The political agreement signed in September by Zanu PF and both factions of the Movement for Democratic Change has not been implemented. Both the agreement and the process leading to the agreement have been widely criticised.

There is no doubt that the agreement is seriously flawed. The powers of the Prime Minister are weak and the prospects of securing consensus in a cabinet in which the combined MDC factions have a narrow majority are limited. Scepticism in the West may also result in limited support for the transitional government.

Zanu PF has demonstrated extreme bad faith since the signing of the agreement and is unlikely to change even once the transitional government has been established. There has been a surge in abductions of human rights and political activists. Zanu PF also retains all the coercive ministries, including defence, the secret police and the police.

However, as bad as the agreement is, there is no other viable, non-violent option open to Zimbabweans. An appeal to the African Union or the UN against what the Sadc has arranged and endorsed, namely the September agreement will be fruitless. That was demonstrated graphically through the frustration of the US and Britain’s attempts to raise Zimbabwe’s humanitarian crisis in the Security Council.

While strong statements made by Gordon Brown, George W Bush, Angela Merkel and Desmond Tutu have called for the removal of Robert Mugabe, there is little prospect that their rhetoric will translate into action. There is no stomach in the West for military intervention and many of us opposed to Mugabe would not support such a policy.

A spontaneous uprising is unlikely. Zimbabwe does not have a pressure-cooker environment such as existed in East Germany where young people, usually the vanguard of any uprising, are forced to remain in the country. Zimbabwe has two safety valves — Botswana and South Africa — to which most of the young opponents have escaped. Most people left in the country are physically weakened by the collapse of the economy and the humanitarian crisis.

Some argue that if the MDC waits a while the Mugabe regime will collapse. This is a possibility but a huge gamble. There is every chance that in the event of Mugabe losing power some of the more radical elements within the military may seize power, which in turn could see Zimbabwe degenerate into even worse forms of anarchy than exist at present.

Furthermore, a wait-and-see policy will not address the extreme humanitarian crisis that needs to be resolved immediately if the lives of potentially hundreds of thousands are to be saved.

In short, there is no alternative but to press for the September agreement to be implemented, warts and all. The combined MDC should join the transitional government under protest and reserve its right to withdraw from the government if need be.

Zimbabweans suffer from such a victim mentality that there is a danger that in focusing so much on the negative aspects of the agreement we will ignore the real opportunities that the agreement provides to transform Zimbabwe from an autocracy to a democracy.

First, the office of prime minister will have huge de facto power. The success of the transitional government will depend on the amount of international assistance that can be raised. There is such disdain for Mugabe that there is no prospect of any assistance coming through his door. The International Monetary Fund, World Bank, European Union and other governments and institutions will want to channel all their aid through the office of prime minister.

MDC also will hold the finance ministry, giving Tsvangirai enormous power and an effective veto. If he decides to withdraw from the transitional government, aid will dry up at the same time.

Second, Zanu PF’s fixation with controlling the coercive ministries has resulted in it ceding control to the combined MDC of nearly all the service ministries, such as health and education, likely to have the biggest impact on the lives of Zimbabweans. If the MDC improves services, which should not be too difficult given that most government departments have all but collapsed, it will increase its support.

Third, the agreement obliges the transitional government to liberalise the political environment and to start, immediately, a process of constitutional reform that must culminate in a new democratic constitution being enacted within 18 months. Both Sadc and the AU have guaranteed the agreement including these provisions.

In addition, for all the criticisms levelled against Sadc governments in the past few months, they have demonstrated a commitment to enforce all the terms of the agreement and it will be in regional governments’ self-interest to ensure reform continues.

Fourth, Zanu PF is a shadow of its former self. Mugabe turns 85 in February and is increasingly out of touch with reality. He has retained some of his patronage system, ironically, because the transitional government has not been set up, but once it is he will be even weaker.

Constitutional amendment 19, which gives legal teeth to the September agreement, has just been gazetted. By mid-January 2009 it should be passed into law, making the process of transition almost irreversible.

The wider international community including the IMF, World Bank, UN, EU and the US, is going to have to give the agreement a chance by helping to stabilise Zimbabwe’s economy and address the humanitarian crisis. While there is understandable scepticism about the agreement, it is important that these concerns do not become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

One thing is certain. If the MDC is unable to improve the lives of Zimbabweans, the agreement will fail and the region will be further destabilised.

David Coltart (Senator)

Saturday, 10 January 2009 15:31

I was not surprised when our three mobile service providers announced that they wouldbe charging in foreign currency as I have gone for months without using local currency due to its scarcity.

Even when I purchased airtime for one of my prepaid lines I used foreign currency and would be given the equivalent in recharge cards.

What is shocking is the amounts themobile service providers are now charging in foreign currency.InEngland an international call to Zimbabwe is charged between four pence (six US cents) andeight pence (12 US cents) per minute depending on the network and whether one is using a calling card or dialling direct fromthe mobile phone.

Local calls there range betweentwo pence(three US cents)andfour pence (six US cents).
I am told it isalso cheaper in South Africa to make both local and international calls compared to Zimbabwean mobile networks.

Now, could Econet please explain to us why a local call costs around US 35 cents and Telecel why a local call costs US 40 cents? It isreasonable to charge in foreign currency as 95% of all goods and services are now only available in foreign currency but when a local call costs four times more than an international call from the UK to Zimbabwe something is mostdefinitely wrong.

Is the NIPC still active? Is POTRAZ aware of the new tariffs and did the relevant authorities (ifnot POTRAZ)do any research before giving the go-ahead to the mobile service providers to charge such tariffs?

Christopher Chinamhora

Saturday, 10 January 2009 15:21

THE Arab League and most of the world are beside themselves with anger over the incessant Israeli bombardment of Palestinian held Gaza strip. They are also perplexed by the failure of the UN to come up with a resolution restraining or condemning Israel from continuing the attacks.

From a human rights perspective, all those against the war are right. From a war scenario there’s nothing wrong with Israel’s action as it is Hamas who brought it upon themselves by first refusing to extend the ceasefire and then being the first to fire rockets into Israel for about a week. Besides in a war there are always casualties, be they civilian or military.

The prospect of most deaths being civilian is raised by the fact that Hamas, being a guerrilla organisation, will obviously allege all casualties are civilians because it’s a common strategy for such forces to always shield themselves behind civilians making it difficult for regular forces to distinguish and isolate the two! Who in their right mind doesn’t know what the Israelis are capable of militarily?

My heart bleeds for the Palestinians who are now the victims of their leaders’ lack of sense and vision. I think it is now time the Arab League spares us the mantra of being the occupied and take a leaf from the other non-Hamas faction which tried everything in it’s power to stop Hamas from committing suicide by starting a costly war both in terms of human life and resources.

Now it’s the Gaza infrastructure which is receiving severe battering. How can Hamas celebrate the capture of an Israeli soldier when the casualties on their side — both civilian and militant — run close to a thousand?
As for the UN impasse, I would like to remind the Arab League, Asian nations, Africans and all dictatorships that here’s what happens when the UN needs to act to protect civilians and a few misguided nations with veto powers are left to decide on behalf of their comrades. From the look of things it is the USA and probably Britain which vetoed the resolution.

Not long ago the Asian nations, China, Russia, South Africa and some Latin nations beat their chests when the UN was called upon to act on Zimbabwe and the Sudan and these nations, with questionable democratic credentials themselves, shouted hoarse that they don’t interfere in sovereign nations. Is Israel not as sovereign as Gaza, Zimbabwe, the Sudan and DRC? Instead of consulting the UN, why doesn’t the Arab League prescribe Arab solutions as they intend to do with Sudan’s Al Bashir? Can’t they ask for “African solutions” as these two continents prefer non-interference?

Not that I’m supportive of Israel’s actions. Neither do I support Hamas’ lack of foresight.

Taking the action closer to home, inasmuch as I would like President Robert Mugabe to go, I would be the first to defend him if the opposition calls for an armed struggle against him as the stakes are heavily in favour of him and it is the civilians who will come face-to-face with his fire power because it is us who voted him out so he won’t hesitate to decimate us.

So to all the Palestinians in Gaza and all people who are fighting against oppressive regimes, I urge them to rebuke their leaders when they talk tough as these guys will sacrifice ordinary people while they flee into exile.

It is time that the UN, AU, Arab League, SADC and all other such bodies do away with veto powers but use majority rule to implement drastic resolutions as a few nations will stop progress just to spite other nations’ suggestions. Take Russia and China for instance.

These two will stop at nothing to oppose US solutions in the Security Council regardless of the suffering of Third World countries. Now our very own African “Big Boy” — South Africa — has sadly joined the “Veto League” whenever dictatorships are discussed. Zimbabwe ended up exporting to SA everything from cheap labour to cholera because of this stupid camaraderie!

GlenView, Harare

Saturday, 10 January 2009 15:10

Gono to blame
I agree totally with Noah Nkiwane’s evaluation of Dr Gideon Gono’s Foliwars. Since the introduction of the Foliwars standards of living for most people have deteriorated rapidly. Our suffering is caused by Gono. He does not consult all stakeholders before implementing important policies. If he did, he would have been able to see things from a different perspective. — Suffering, Mutoko.

DR Gideon Gono, does the fact that your locally written and published book is being sold in foreign currency when you force other publishers to accept the local dollar betray your lack of patriotism? Or is what’s good for the goose not good for the gander? Animal Farm all over again. — Economic Observer.
Too late for maize
PEOPLE who have failed to acquire maize seed should realise that it is too late now and must focus on getting seed such as sorghum, millet, soybean, sugar bean and sunflower as they take two months to mature compared to maize which takes three months. — Reality, Harare.
Boozy priorities

HAVE Zimbabweans calculated the cost in precious foreign currency that Zimbabwe is wasting on importing beer at the expense of local brands? Tourists wouldn’t believe that Zimbabweans are suffering when they see us drinking imported and expensive premium beer brands. They would think we have our priorities completely wrong. — Oracle, Harare.

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe’s exit, like his election victory in 1980 will be greeted with popular celebrations both in Zimbabwe and the rest of the world. We will be celebrating a brighter future, just like we did at independence. — Tacky, Harare.

Anger unstoppable
THE anger of the ordinary people (povo) can be unstoppable. There is a train of highly unqualified people in parastatals and government, resulting in misrule. Education is now for the rich, characterising the state of our country. When the povo reaches the end of its tether, their anger will become unstoppable and will roar and rage like the flooded mighty Zambezi. — Dumba, Nyanga North.

Cholera: axe Zinwa
THE Zimbabwe National Water Authority should be given the wooden spoon award for the most redundant company in the world. It seems that its board and management are staffed with deadwood, which doesn’t even have the faintest idea what it is meant to be doing. As for the cholera epidemic, they should have taken responsibility and resigned as it’s the lack of clean running water and unattended burst/blocked sewer pipes that have created breeding ground for the cholera bacteria. It just shows that there are no intelligent forms of life at Zinwa. — Survivor, Harare.

A party with a majority in Parliament must be the ruling party and the one with less must be the opposition. Therefore Zanu PF should be the opposition while the MDC becomes the ruling party because it constitutes the majority. — D E Dzimbahwe.

Mugabe’s atrocities
ROBERT Mugabe ranted and raved about countries that were wanting to attack Zimbabwe because of the cholera outbreak. What these countries are failing to do is to find a credible reason to attack a regime that abducts its citizens alive and returns them as dead corpses. Historians should also chronicle his atrocities so that we can judge for ourselves. — Recorder, Harare.

ALTHOUGH those who are responsible for the pain and suffering in this country live in luxury, one day they will pay for their deeds. God is watching. — Harare.

ZBC should not gloat over President George W Bush’s humiliation in Iraq because there are similarities between President Robert Mugabe and Bush. They both had disputed elections and they both violated people’s rights. They wage wars against defenceless people and are the most disliked by their own people. If we had a trillion shoes we would throw them at our ruler. — Irate, Harare.

Double standards again
THE police should give us a break. How can they start saying they want to impound commuter buses without number plates now and yet vehicles without them were moving freely during the elections? Those vehicles were responsible for abducting MDC supporters. What we know and will want to see is if they are going to impound the CAM and Mitsubishi trucks which are said to belong to the Central Intelligence Organisation and which bear no registration numbers. If the police succeed, then we will know they are serious. They should also make similar strong statements against the abductions taking place and tell us what they intend to do. Otherwise, we will not take them seriously as we already are. — Eyewitness, Harare.

The real enemy
IF there was a referendum asking people who between foreigners and certain locals were responsible for the suffering Zimbabweans are undergoing and political murders, they would be unanimous on the correct answer. Let us, as Zimbabweans accept the correct definition of an enemy of the people. — Wide awake, Harare.

I wish PF Zapu a successful return to mainstream politics. It would be great for this country’s democracy if another strong political party were to enter the landscape. My advice is that they should try and emulate what Terror Lekota and Congress of the People (COPE) have managed to do in South Africa. They should engage all the political parties and canvass for their support so as to challenge the Zanu PF dictatorship, while giving the MDC a good run for their money. We definitely need an alternative to these two and their never-ending squabbles. — Change we trust, Masvingo.

I refuse to read the book by the Governor of the Reserve Bank, Dr Gideon Gono. Why should anyone in his/her right mind read a book on how to fail? I guess the book is full of excuses of his gigantic failures. It must also have 10 reasons to succeed at banking when your non-performing debt has been taken care of by the government. — Teko, Harare.

Is Zupco still operating and has it got any buses on the road or has it collapsed as it has been awhile since I last saw a Zupco bus on the road. – Commuter, Harare.

If Zimbabwe is to succeed in turning around the economy, it is imperative that we start to listen to fresh, innovative and practical ideas. For years we have had numerous turnaround plans that have failed to produce any results. It is time we started thinking outside the box and consider what things can be and not what they are and then give a chance to the younger generation. What we need are results-driven ideas. We need to start looking to those who remember the post-democratic South African soccer team which was judged as the most skilful team in Africa with their own brand of shoeshine football. – Nyabinde’s song, Harare.

The African Union, Sadc and South Africa always ensure that violence in Zimbabwe runs its full course. They hate to disturb it. But when the West calls for Robert Mugabe’s ouster, they jostle over each other in order to protect him. Why? Morgan Tsvangirai was right to describe Sadc as cowards. We the people he represents call them worse things. We support him for telling them the truth. If solutions to Zimbabwe’s crisis come from us then why is Mugabe clinging onto mediation despite calls for him to step down? – Gift.

It does not make any sense for the government to allow Zimbabwe to become the dumping ground for second hand cars from Asian countries at the expense of our own motor industry. At any rate these cars are not built for our roads and climatic conditions, hence they have high maintenance costs, which translate into a drain on the little foreign currency that Zimbabwe has. In addition this is destroying our local motor industry and in the process creating unemployment. Beside the second-hand car sector, a similar trend is happening in the clothing and textile sector, where cheap clothes are also being dumped here at the expense of our local industries. – Sabotage.

MDC-T and Zanu PF cannot work together. They are like water and oil. This evidenced by failure to agree on an all-inclusive government. The only way forward is for fresh elections monitored by Sadc, the African Union and the United Nations as suggested by Botswana President Ian Khama. – Cheated voter, Harare.

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Bill Watch 1 of 10th January 2009 [Update on Inclusive Government]


[10th January 2009]

House of Assembly adjourned until 20 January and Senate until

27 January

Update on Inclusive Government

Dead or Deadlocked?

It is exactly four months since the Inter-party Political Agreement [IPA] to set up an Inclusive Government was signed. The Agreement was hailed by the SADC summit a few days later, but most analysts agreed that it lacked a time-frame and was riddled with contradictory statements. There were far too many issues left undecided, and a whole series of subsequent negotiations have still not settled them. Constitution Amendment No. 19, the key legal instrument which would underpin the structures of a power sharing government, is still not tabled in Parliament. It can be tabled when Parliament reconvenes later in the month, but the MDC-T have threatened to block it unless other key issues are also settled, namely, the continuing violence, the fair allocation of ministries, key government appointments and the functions and composition of the National Security Council.

The prospects for an inclusive government being set up look less and less promising after Mr Mugabe’s rhetoric at the end of last year, Mr Tsvangirai’s holding out for a genuine share of authority, and the recent evidence of the torture of MDC cadres and civil society activists accused of supporting the MDC.

Mr Mugabe at the ZANU-PF Conference told thousands of his party delegates that he would never surrender power. "I will never, never, never, never surrender. Zimbabwe is mine,”…“At conscience, at heart, I will never, never sell my country. I will never, never surrender.” Referring to his rival Mr Tsvangirai, Mr Mugabe called him "a political monster that will oppose all that we fought for." [Note: the state controlled media also continue to denigrate the MDC-T and its leader Mr Tsvangirai.]

Mr Tsvangirai leader of the MDC-T on 19 December said that “the MDC can only enter into an agreement that enables us to participate as an equal partner in order that we can contribute to solving the Zimbabwe crisis. Zanu-PF is insisting on keeping the lion's share of power, including control of the army and shared control of the police that has been used to terrorize MDC members for years. Therefore, this negotiation process must now be confined to a specific timeframe in which all the outstanding issues are addressed, including, the appointment of provincial governors, the composition and constitution of the National Security Council, and equity in the allocation of key ministries. If this cannot be achieved then an internationally supervised presidential election must be conducted in an environment that is conducive to a free and fair poll.” His spokesman put it more graphically “the MDC cannot accept responsibility for the mess without the necessary authority”.

Allegations of Military Training and State Mistreatment of Abductees Lead to Hardening Stances

It is unclear whether ZANU-PF allegations that MDC is training militia in Botswana are the death knell for the IPA. The MDC ultimatum to release or produce the abductees in court by 1st January has only been partially met [so far 17 out of the 40 plus who Mr Tsvangirai mentioned as abducted have been produced in court]. It is likely that MDC will hold out for all to be accounted for, which will cause further delays. Even if the talks then continue, the revelations about the torture of abductees while in unlawful State custody and the part played by police, CIO and army agents in the whole exercise, have led to the MDC-T demanding, not only the Ministry of Home Affairs, but that the police, army and CIO be placed under the effective control of all parties to the inclusive government agreement.

In his letter to President Motlanthe of December 29 Mr Tsvangirai wrote: "Given the fact that our national institutions (police, CIO, army) have been selectively used to target MDC and other activists it is only imperative that these security apparatus be placed under the effective control of parties to the agreement. In effect, the CIO as well as elements of the army such as military intelligence have become actively involved in undermining this agreement [the IPA]." Mr Tsvangirai also stipulated that legislation regarding the operations, control and funding of the security services by the National Security Council must be enacted before the formation of the inclusive government.

Despite the international outrage over the abductions the ZANU-PF stance is unrepentant – their Chief Parliamentary Whip Joram Gumbo accused the MDC of failing to respect the intent of the power-sharing agreement, and of seeking to bypass the judicial process in demanding the release of MDC activists jailed on charges of plotting a coup. Minister of State Security Didymus Mutasa submitted an affidavit to the High Court that the “clandestine” detention of the abductees was part of a legitimate State Security investigation and that the identities of the State Security agents involved, and the details of the “facilities” used by them, should not be disclosed.

Mr Tsvangirai rejects Invitation to be Appointed Prime Minister

MDC president Mr Tsvangirai was designated Prime Minister in the 11 September IPA. A letter from Mr Mugabe inviting him to take up the post was delivered to him on Christmas Day [together with his Passport]. He formally declined the invitation and a party spokesman said “it is not for Mr. Mugabe to invite the MDC formation to join a government as that government is to be jointly constituted under the pact.”

In his reply to Mr Mugabe, Mr Tsvangirai firmly stated the MDC-T position that an Inclusive Government could not be formed until Constitution Amendment No. 19 had been passed into law and that the outstanding issues consistently listed by MDC-T had to be settled first.

Mr Mutambara has not accepted invitation to be Deputy Prime Minister

Mr Mutambara received a written invitation to take up his Deputy Prime Minister post. He responded by suggesting a meeting of all the principals. He and Mr Mugabe [but not Mr Tsvangirai] did meet for discussions, but Mr Mutambara has since reiterated his position that he will not be part of a government that does not include Mr Tsvangirai.

MDC leadership meetings

The leadership of the MDC, including its transition team and party strategists, has been meeting in South Africa this week for consultations on whether to continue or pull out of the talks to join the Inclusive Government. The final decision will be made at an MDC-T National Executive Council meeting to be held on 18 January.

Changes in de facto “Interim” Government

Nine Ministers have had their appointments terminated by Mr Mugabe. They are – Samuel Mumbengegwi (Finance), Sikhanyiso Ndlovu (Information and Publicity), Oppah Muchinguri (Gender, Women’s Affairs and Community Development), Munacho Mutezo (Water Resources and Development), Michael Nyambuya (Energy and Power Development), Amos Midzi (Mines and Mining Development), Chen Chimutengwende (Public and Interactive Affairs), Sithembiso Nyoni (Small and Medium Enterprises Development) and Rugare Gumbo (Agriculture).

Three Deputy Ministers have also lost their posts: Kenneth Mutiwekuziva (Small and Medium Enterprises Development), David Chapfika (Agriculture) and Edwin Muguti (Health and Child Welfare).

None of those dismissed had seats in Parliament. The individuals concerned have actually been ineligible to hold their posts since Parliament met on 26th August [Constitution, Section 31E(2)], so the dismissals are long overdue.

It is reported that Mr Chigwedere (Education) and Mr Mushowe (Transport and Communications) were spared the axe, because, as provincial governors, they hold seats in the Senate and are therefore considered eligible to continue as Ministers. [Note: this is faulty reasoning. They should in fact have vacated office when appointed as governors, because Ministers are prohibited from holding any other "public office" [Constitution, section 31D(4)] and a provincial governor holds public office [Constitution, section 111A].

Filling the Ministerial vacancies: Mr Mugabe has assigned Ministers from the remaining pool of Ministers to act in six of the vacant Ministerial posts on a temporary basis in addition to their other duties [under the Constitution only an existing Minister can be appointed to another Ministry in an acting capacity]. The acting appointments are: Patrick Chinamasa (Finance), Paul Mangwana (Information and Publicity), Sydney Sekeramayi (Mines and Mining Development), Sylvester Nguni (Agriculture), Sithembiso Nyoni (Women’s Affairs, Gender and Community Development), Joseph Made (Water Resources and Infrastructural Development).

Is the Door Still Open for an Inclusive Government

Despite the posturing and rhetoric there does still seem some hope that Mr Mugabe has not closed the door to an inclusive government. It is significant that he made no new substantive Ministerial appointments to replace the dismissed Ministers. Also, according to his spokesman George Charamba, although Mr Mugabe is on his traditional one month’s annual leave, he has not gone abroad as usual, but has remained in Zimbabwe, “in retreat” but “working on structures of an inclusive government”. If the door is still open, however, it does not look as if it will happen very soon. The state press has referred to a inclusive government being formed at the end of February.

Statutory Instruments

SI 186/2008 – extends the current price control regime until the end of June [gazetted 19th December].

SI 187/2008 – increases the weekly cash withdrawal limit for individuals from $500 million to $5 billion [gazetted 31st December]. This refers only to withdrawals made without proof of lawful source – the larger amounts withdrawable with proof of lawful source are not changed.

SI 1/2009 – more new banknotes – $20 billion and $50 billion [gazetted 9th January].

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

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A letter from the diaspora

January 9th 2009

Dear Friends.
It's not exactly an original observation but every week I find myself
thinking, 'If it weren't so tragic, it would be funny!' I'm talking about
events in Zimbabwe, of course. With every day that passes the situation
becomes more surreal as the authorities use ever more nonsensical arguments
to convince the long-suffering population that Mugabe's government is
actually in control of the country and if it were not for pesky outside
influences and foreign-inspired 'banditry' Zimbabwe would be just fine.
Sanity and reason have flown out of the window as the regime clings ever
more desperately to power.
Consider the events of this week alone: magistrates and judges hand down
decisions which are immediately countermanded in other courts; the police
totally ignore all of them and do what they want to do anyway; a Minister
admits in court that the State ordered the detention of Jestina Mukoko and
other MDC activists; Mugabe appoints 'Acting' ministers to his as yet
unannounced cabinet; the 'Minister' of Education, none other than the
hapless and hopeless, Aeneas Chigwedere, announces the postponement of the
beginning of the first school term because last year's exam results are not
available - not surprising really - the papers haven't even been marked yet!
And if you need more evidence that the Zimbabwean ship of state is
floundering on the rocks, you need look no further that the currency. Have
you ever heard of a country where workers threaten to strike if they ARE
paid? Zimbabwe's Mineworkers are threatening to withdraw their labour if
they are paid in local currency! Zim dollars are now so useless that you
can't give them away. Thanks to a friend visiting from home I am now the
proud owner of a 50 billion dollar note. It's called a Special Agro Cheque -
whatever that means - and I use it as book-mark. It makes for some very
interesting conversations! The new 'Minister' of Finance by the way is none
other than Patrick Chinamasa, what his expertise in finance is remains very
unclear but then he didn't know much about justice either in his former post
as 'Minister' of Justice did he? Not that it will make any difference,
Gideon Gono is still there at the Reserve Bank to hand out precious forex
whenever Mugabe tells him to, as for example when the Old Man goes on leave.
For annual leave, read 'retreat'. George Charamba tells us the President
will only spend part of his annual leave out of the country on holiday.
Instead he will be 'on retreat' meditating on the future of his government
we are told and no doubt that includes considering more diabolical ways to
eradicate the MDC from the face of the earth. While Jestina Mukoko and the
other activists rot in gaol and the cholera death rate rises and starvation
looms ever closer, Mr Mugabe cogitates the way forward, or should that be
the way out?
In yet another hysterical sign of the state's paranoid mindset three Boy
Scout trainers are arrested in Ruwa. The three men actually advertise the
training camps for scouts and tourists in the national press but that didn't
stop the army mounting a military style operation on the training centre on
the grounds that the three white men were training terrorists. The men have
not been charged as yet but we hear they are still being held while the
police investigate. "The men were all Selous Scouts," the police inform us,
ergo they must be up to no good. I don't know much about modern scouting but
I do know the Scouts' motto is 'Be prepared' but nothing can prepare you for
the idiocy of Mugabe's henchman. With every day that passes they look more
ridiculous as they seek to defend the indefencible. Compared to this lot,
the antics of the Keystone Cops look like models of common sense!
Meanwhile the Herald does its best to make the MDC into Public Enemy NO.1
and portrays the party as riven by disagreement over the issue of joining
Mugabe's Government of National Unity. 'Intense debate' they report has
rocked the party's leadership as they discuss the way forward, to which I
say 'Well good for them!' Open debate is a clear sign of democracy at work;
only by frank and honest exchange of views can a democratic consensus be
arrived at. Unlike Zanu PF whose party conference is no more than a faithful
echo of His Master's voice, the MDC leadership at least listens to its
membership. The decision they have to make is far-reaching in its
consequences for the whole country, whether they should or should not join
Mugabe's government is a delicate and complex issue and I for one will not
condemn Morgan Tsvangirai on the basis of what the despicable journalists at
the Herald report.
Back to the ridiculous: "Let them eat potatoes' Mugabe was reported as
saying some years back when there was a maize shortage. " We have plenty of
potatoes." Apparently we have plenty of elephants too and the jumbos are
being slaughtered to provide food for Zimbabwe's soldiers. No maize, no
potatoes, no, like the punchline of a very poor joke, Let them eat
Yours in the (continuing) struggle PH

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Hon. Eddie Cross under fire from ZANU-PF

Saturday, 10 January 2009 20:30 Trymore Magomana

The Zimbabwe National Liberation War Collaborators Association (ZNLWCA), an
arm of ZANU-PF and made up of cadres drawn from ZANU-PF's constituencies
across the country, has accused the Hon. Eddie Cross of having a 'colonial
mindset' and of being a 'dangerous' adviser to Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

Hon. Cross, Member of Parliament for Bulawayo South, comes under fire from
the militant ZNLWCA over his recent article, published here on the Harare
Tribune, in which he appeared to agree with Zimbabweans at large that it was
better to let the country crush and burn, following which people would pick
up the pieces and put it together again.

However, the ZNLWCA has interpreted this observation to mean that the Hon.
Cross and the MDC, instead of joining the the inclusive government, were
waiting in the wings, like vultures, for the economy to collapse. The
collapse of the economy would create "an opportunity" for the MDC to take
over power from ZANU-PF, the ZNLWCA alleged.

In a brief statement to ZBC, National Chairman of ZNLWCA Togarepi Pupurai
said, the Hon. Cross was being driven by a colonial hang-over, which has
made him a dangerous adviser to the Morgan Tsvangirai.

"If Cross is waiting for the collapse of the economy, he should think
again," Pupurai said. "Zimbabwe has passed the point at which ZANU-PF, our
party, would be removed from power because the economy has collapsed. Cross
should know that the economy of Zimbabwe will never collapse, never."

Pupurai warned the MDC and the Hon. Cross that any attempt they might make
to cause economic destabilization would be resisted, and then crushed.

"Our members are prepared to pick up arms to resist any attempts by the
likes of Cross and the MDC to destabilize the economy and by extension, the
country," Pupurai warned. "Our duty as the ZNLWCA is to defend the
revolution at any cost, this is our mandate as children of the soil."

The Hon. Cross comes under fire from ZANU-PF days after the Zimbabwe
National Army (ZNA), in a joint operation with the CIO and officers from the
Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP), arrested three white men in Ruwa on
allegations that they were members of the Selous Scouts and they they were
training insurgents with the view of overthrowing Robert Mugabe and his
government from power.

The police said the three white man, who do adventure training for Boy
Scouts, will be charged with contravening Section 23 (1), (2) of the
Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act, which criminalizes acts of
insurgence, banditry, sabotage and/or terrorism.

At the time of going to print, the Hon. Eddie Cross had yet to respond to
written questions forwarded to him by the Harare Tribune.

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Zimbabwe's sick forced to pay with US dollars

January 11, 2009

Sophie Shaw, Harare
A ROMAN CATHOLIC priest called Father Seke sat in Harare last week with
Blessing, a pregnant parishioner, praying for a normal birth. "Her family
has struggled to find money for her birthing," he said. "But if she needs
surgery there is no more and she might pass [away]."

Like millions of other Zimbabweans, Blessing is facing punitive new charges
for basic healthcare that have been imposed by the government of President
Robert Mugabe as the state collapses around him.

David Parirenyatwa, his health minister, announced last week that public
hospitals would be permitted to charge patients in US dollars for essential

State media gave examples of the new prices, including US$70 (50) for an
overnight stay in hospital. A caesarean will cost US$130 and parents of
premature babies will be charged $5 a day for an incubator. Cancer patients
will have to find hundreds of dollars for radiation or chemotherapy.

All the fees are far beyond the means of most people in a country where
fewer than 18% are formally employed. According to the Crisis in Zimbabwe
Coalition, an umbrella group of activists, all but 5% of these are paid in
Zimbabwean dollars rendered almost worthless by inflation estimated at

"The decision to take a patient on a painful journey to hospital is hard," a
Zimbabwean GP said. "There is no guarantee of treatment at the end of the

Those who do not form part of the elite must try to cobble together US
dollars as best they can by selling whatever they have, or from remittances
sent by family members abroad. However, Zimbabweans in other countries are
among the first to be laid off as the global credit crunch bites, and
resentment of the 3m of them in neighbouring South Africa is growing. Two
Zimbabweans were killed in Durban last week when vigilantes searching for
amakwerekwere (foreigners) hurled them from a sixth-floor window.

Parirenyatwa's announcement came as Zimbabwe faced a cholera epidemic that,
according to the World Health Organisation, has claimed at least 1,778 lives
since August. Heavy December rains helped spread the disease so the crisis
is likely to worsen in coming weeks.

The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions reacted with fury to the new health
charges. "The authorities pretend to hate America yet they scramble for the
American dollar," said Gideon Shoko, who leads a railway workers' union.
"This is a display of double standards."

The Zimbabwean dollar has been debased for the past five years by Gideon
Gono, the central banker, who has printed money to fund extravagances such
as the one-month holiday and shopping trip to the Far East on which Mugabe
and his wife Grace have embarked.

The crisis is affecting even private hospitals. Doctors are paid in local
currency worth less than US$10 a month and have stopped coming to work.

Blessing, whose labour may be only days away, is fatalistic. "It is up to
God," she said. "There is nothing I can do."

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Zimbabwe Inches Further Towards Madness
Created: January 10th, 2009 | Written By: Dustin

With everyone’s focus on Gaza right now it’s worth noting that the rest of the world is still just as screwed up as it always was and that there are other trouble-spots worth keeping an eye on. One incident in particular caught my eye and if it weren’t so rediculous it might actually be humorous. It seems the entire combined military of Zimbabwe was use for, wait for it, a joint strike to capture three boy scout leaders.

Zimbabwean air force, military, police and intelligence officials raided a boy-scout camp and arrested three white farmers on charges of training insurgents, the Zimbabwe Independent said, citing people it didn’t identify.

On it’s face this story is patently ridiculous. Mugabe’s regime has single-handedly destroyed his nation. Their inflation is through the roof, they have food shortages, and violence is common. The man’s as bad a dictator as they come short of instituting death camps. So it’s worth taking the “official” take on this incident with a bolder-sized grain of salt.

The adventure camp, known as Kudu Creek, was suspected of being used as a base to train bandits who plan to topple President Robert Mugabe, the Harare-based newspaper reported. The site provides outdoor activities and leadership training for schoolchildren, it said.

There is some backstory worth noting however. The government is claiming that these three men were members of the Selous Scouts, a 1300-man strong elite Rhodesian anti-terrorist and paramilitary organization that, during The Bush War, accounted for 70% of Mugabe forces casualties.

Whether this is true or not is irrelivent. Mugabe has destroyed his country, he’s looking for scapegoats and jumping at shadows.

Just thought you should know, because it’s unlikely you’ll hear about this from anywhere else.

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More madness?...

Beware, a Dr. Hwesa warns Mugabe and ZANU-PF
Saturday, 10 January 2009 20:55 Radio Voice of the People

Barely two years after Rotina Mavhunga misled the ZANU-PF govt. cabinet into
believing that the country had been "blessed by the Umlimo" with years of
unstoppable supply of "pure diesel" from a granite rock in Chinhoyi, another
self-proclaimed spirit medium has emerged.
The spirit medium, Hwesa Dhlamini, who prefers to be addressed as Dr. Hwesa,
is claiming that she has a vision for the whole world and would love to see
President Robert Mugabe end his term honourably.

Ironicaly, Dr. Hwesa is moving around with a former Rhodesian Army soldier,
Robert Fowler and they are based in Victoria Falls, where they run a safari
lodge under the "Be Ngula Project".

Dr. Hwesa claimed that she can speak 150 tongues, and warmed Robert Mugabe
to be careful because he was in danger.

"I can speak more than 150 languages when possessed. President Robert Mugabe
is in danger and I want this message to get to him now before its too late.
He is the only one who can get this country and the whole world out of the
many crises. Talk of global, ice melting, xenophobia, earthquakes, floods
and Cholera," said Hwesa at a meeting which was meant to be a press

Pressed on how she can see these things, and speak all these toungues, Dr.
Hwesa said It would be a toll order to reveal her powers, suffice to say
that the powers of a village witchdoctor work in mysterious yet stupefying

Dr. Hwesa did not what Mugabe was in danger from, but appeared to suggest
that the cholera epidemic, that has left nearly 2000 dead, floods,
xenophobia, were part of God's retribution for Mugabe's rule. The only way
to stop these calamities would be for Mugabe to resign.

After thought provoking questions from journalists, Robert Fowler, who
appeared to be the spokesperson for Dr. Hwesa, went ballistic and called for
anyone who did not buy into their "project" to leave the meeting.

One journalist from the State media walked away at the beginning of the
meeting. Fowler later claimed that their "Be Ngula Project" was based on the
issue of decolonisation of the Zimbabwean culture and the minds of other

"Decolonisation is not about getting all the whites out of Africa, it as
wrong, we are one. I am not white, I am black," said Fowler who said he was
commissioned in the Rhodesian Army in 1978.

"During the liberation war in my perception I was believing that I was right
in killing the blacks. From what I was reading in the Rhodesian Herald, what
I was getting from the Rhodesian Broadcast and what my parents told me, I
believed I was right. Up to until about a week ago my perception about
Mugabe, from what I was watching from DStv, was wrong," he said.

Fowler told journalists that he had already sent a a copy of his apology on
colonialism to President Mugabe via the Malaysian Embassy in Harare.

Mugabe is on holiday and press reports have speculated that he may be in the
Far East with his family.

Dr. Hwesa would not want to be challenged about the behaviour of their
conduct during the meeting, instead she verbally and phisically assaulted
one of the journalists using vulgar and unprintable words.

"I am on a mission and if there is anyone who does not believe in what we
have just told you, they should stop writing the story and destroy the notes
right now. They know me in Bulawayo, I can even hold (president Robert)
Mugabe by his collar," boasted Dr. Hwesa, claiming she was a liberation war

Rotina Mavhunga, who has been in remand prison for more than a year for
misleading the government and the nation, finally got bail this week on
condition that she does not set foot in Chinhoyi until judgment in her case
has been delivered.

Chinhoyi magistrate Ignatius Mugova is set to deliver judgement on January

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