By Violet Gonda
13 January 2010
High Court Judge Justice Chinembiri Bhunu on Wednesday dismissed an
application by the State to impeach its key witness, Peter Michael
Hitschmann, after he distanced himself from statements implicating Roy
Bennett in a plot to overthrow the ZANU PF government.
Hitschmann was acquitted in 2006 of the same terrorism charges facing
Bennett, although he served time after being convicted of possessing
dangerous weapons, despite being a registered arms dealer.
On Tuesday, prosecutor Johannes Tomana had made an application to impeach
the firearms dealer, after he changed the statement he made in 2006, which
he claims was made while under torture. If Hitschmann had been implicated
his evidence would have been discredited and he would have been declared a
But Justice Bhunu threw out the application saying it was ‘incompetent’ of
the State to challenge the credibility of its own witness without following
Hitschmann, the prosecution's star witness, continued giving evidence after
the ruling on whether or not to impeach him. But as soon as the questioning
started he made a personal application to the judge asking the court to
The firearms dealer said the reason he felt under threat was because he
believed he should not be on the witness stand answering questions that
could be prejudicial against him.
He said after his conviction in 2006 he made an appeal to the Supreme Court
against both his conviction and sentence, but he went on to complete the
sentence (more than two years), before the appeal had been heard in the
constitutional court. The appeal is still in the hands of the Supreme Court.
Hitschmann said the evidence that is being sought by the Attorney General in
Bennett’s trial at the High Court is now likely to be prejudicial to him
during his own appeals hearing at the Supreme Court. Furthermore, the same
people who are actually challenging his appeal in the Supreme Court are the
same people who are leading the State in Bennett’s case.
But our Harare correspondent Simon Muchemwa said Justice Bhunu also
dismissed Hitschmann’s application saying there was no basis for his fears.
It’s reported the Judge said Hitschmann’s appeals case in the Supreme Court
will not be prejudiced because it will only be a constitutional challenge on
the legal matters.
As the proceedings continued, defence lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa, went on to
challenge the production of a video in court showing the statements
purportedly made by Hitschmann when he was in the custody of the military at
Adams Barracks in Mutare during his arrest in 2006. The Judge overruled this
and the video was shown in court. The trial was postponed to Thursday, when
the video recording will continue to be shown.
Observers in the gallery said the proceeding in court where like a ‘boxing
match on legal knowledge’ between Mtetwa and Tomana. Tomana’s conduct was
described as inept. While Mtetwa had references to case histories on matters
of the law at her finger tips, this was in sharp contrast to Tomana’s
conduct, who at times delayed proceedings because he did not know the
references he was quoting from – a move that was seen as either sidetracking
to waste time, or just plain incompetence.
Jan 13, 2010, 12:46 GMT
Harare - The prosecution's star witness in the high profile trial of
Zimbabwe's junior agriculture minister-designate Roy Bennett for terrorism
and insurgency on Wednesday asked the court to allow him time to seek legal
Arms dealer Michael Hitschmman told the High Court in Harare that he did not
want to jeopardize his appeal in the Supreme Court against a 2006 conviction
for possession of arms of war without a licence.
'I ask for adjournment to secure legal counsel to represent my interests,'
Hitschmann said in a submission to Judge Chinembiri Bhunu, after the judge
had ruled that the state did not have a strong enough case to impeach him.
The state had sought to impeach Hitschmann when the trial resumed Tuesday,
saying he was now siding with Bennett despite earlier testimony against him.
Prosecutors allege Hitschmann was paid by Bennett to buy weapons to
assassinate government officials. Bennett, a former white commercial farmer
and opposition activist has been charged with illegal possession of weapons
for purposes of terrorism, banditry and insurgency.
'With respect, the attorney general now requires me to answer questions
pertaining to my trial and I have to request my rights in this matter. I am
prepared to assist the state in whichever manner, but not to the extent of
jeopardizing my appeal,' Hitschmann said.
Attorney General Johannes Tomana who is leading the prosecution, responded
immediately, saying: 'There is no merit in the fear the witness is
Bennett's defence lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa disputed the submission by Tomana
saying there was no law which did not allow anyone in Zimbabwe to have
access to a legal representation.'
Tomana then asked for time to look for a citation, prompting Bhunu to
adjourn the trial until the afternoon.
Charges against Bennett arose in 2006 when Hitschmann was found with an arms
cache, which the prosecution says he acquired after he was given 5,000 US
dollars by Bennett to topple President Robert Mugabe.
According to the prosecution, Bennett was implicated through emails and a
confession that Hitschmann allegedly made. The arms dealer has since
distanced himself from the confession.
When he told the High Court Tuesday denied having written emails produced in
court as evidence of his alleged dealings with Bennett, prompting
prosecutors to declare him a 'hostile and unfriendly witness.'
Hitschmann was acquitted of terrorism in 2006 but served a two- jail
sentence for a lesser charge of possessing weapons without a licence. The
weapons included six sub-machine guns and two machine guns. These have been
produced as exhibits by the prosecution in Bennett's trial.
Harare, January 13, 2009 - Michael Peter Hitschmann, the key state witness
in the trial of Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) treasurer and nominee
for the post of the Deputy Agricultural minister, Roy Bennett, has asked the
court not to allow the use of statements he wrote under duress when he was
arrested in 2006.
Hitschmann, a former arms dealer and former police officer, was arrested and
convicted of possessing dangerous weapons of war without a licence in 2006.
He appealed against the court's ruling but has since served his jail term.
The state led by the Attorney General, Johannes Tomana want to use
statements made by Hitschmann to the police when he was arrested in 2006 to
implicate Bennett in his trial, however Hitschmann said the statements or
confessions were made under duress as he was tortured to write them with his
Hitschmann asked the court to prevent the state from using the statement he
wrote under duress on March 6-7, 2006 when he was in military custody.
"I am placed at somewhat difficult position your honor and I have tried to
co-operate as far as possible in my role as a state witness over which I
have no choice.," Hitschmann told the court.
"Justice Chitakunye did not challenge the fact that I had undergone torture
and he ruled that the confessions statements obtained without the presence
of legal counsel were to be excluded from my trial.With respect your honor
the Attorney General wants me to answer questions to my trial and I have to
ask you your honor to consider my rights."
"I am prepared to assist the state in whichever manner I can but not to the
extent of jeorpadising my appeal.If your honor insist that the Attorney
General to continue I request for an adjournment to secure legal counsel to
present my interests."
Bennett's lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa said the state cannot use statements that
were recorded in Hitschmann's trial as it was not for his client's trial.
Tomana argued that the state has the permission to block a witness from
seeking legal counsel in a case where the witness may not want to answer
questions posed in a court of law.
Judge Chinembiri Bhunu will rule after 2.30 pm today whether Hitschmann can
seek legal counsel as a witness.
PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA Jan 13 2010 16:45
Civil rights group AfriForum on Wednesday won a court bid to sue Zimbabwe's
government over its "cruel" and revengeful" expropriation of South
Speaking outside the high court in Pretoria after a ruling that the
initiative could serve papers on Zimbabwe, legal representative Willie Spies
said it was the first step in recognising the rights of South African
citizens in the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
"I am relieved because to a large extent we played a part in developing our
law. The high court has recognised the rights of parties to the SADC
tribunal processes to enforce those processes within South African
In 2008 the SADC tribunal ruled that Zimbabwe's land reform was illegal and
racist, and that those who had suffered discrimination by having their farms
expropriated had the right to compensation.
Spies said the South African government attempted "to a large extent" to
intervene, but to little avail.
Another court date
AfriForum will on February 23 again approach the court to force Zimbabwe and
South Africa to register and recognise the SADC tribunal's ruling on land
He said about 318 South African farmers had been subjected to human rights
violations which had left many of them in dire straits.
"It was cruelty. Their hard work was destroyed by people who just want to
take revenge. We need to find a way to get compensation for them," Spies
He said if the next court application was successful, first prize for the
organisation would see the return of the farms to their South African
owners, or allow them to demand compensation from the Zimbabwean
government. -- Sapa
Written by The Zimbabwean
Wednesday, 13 January 2010 07:04
Harare - The Zimbabwe Mail can reveal that a contraband of heavy artillery,
bombs and small lightweight weapons and ammunition have been seized in the
backyard of a private security firm linked to Defence Minister Emmerson
Mnangagwa's Zanu PF faction.
Police in Kadoma have seized an assortment of heavy guns, bombs, rifles,
pistols and shotguns in the backyard of Midsec, a private Security Company
after a search warrant was issued on allegations that the company failed to
renew firearm certificates on time. But, we can reveal that the company has
been secretly training and providing high level security bodyguard services
to prominent politicians from the Mnangagwa faction, who, in fear of
elimination by opponents, have replaced members of the CIO who are now all
entangled in the Zanu PF party web of party factions.
Sources said most Zanu PF leaders on both factions are now relying on
private security bodyguards provided by companies linked to party factions.
The guns recovered from Midsec have since been taken away by the army for
further investigations. Investigators want to ascertain whether some of
these firearms were also used in committing crimes, amid reports of links to
the Chegutu cash heist. The security company's Kadoma branch manager Davison
Dube (56) is assisting police with investigations. Officer-in-charge CID
Kadoma Property section Detective Inspector John Dzafunwa, yesterday said
Dube was arrested on January 7 after police received information that he was
in possession of the guns.
He said it was a very serious offence for firearms to be kept without
licences as they would be abused or used in the commission of crime such as
armed robberies. But, our sources said the Midsec incident is part of the
grand plan by the Mujuru Zanu PF faction riding on its ascendance to power
and newly found momentum and desire to disempower the embattled faction led
by Mnangagwa, and they have taken every step necessary to render the faction
powerless. Mnangagwa has been outflanked and decimated by Mujuru in the
battle to succeed the veteran leader, Robert Mugabe in ZANU PF at the last
Fifth National People's Congress. A report in a weekly newspaper The
Standard has pointed to the battle for control of the Marange diamonds
between the two factions as the reasons why the the Chiadzwa diamonds
auction was halted in unexplained circumstances.
The two camps are already embroiled in a bitter decade-long battle to
succeed ageing President Robert Mugabe (85) as leader of the party and the
country. The security company, Midsec is part of the group of companies
seized from exiled Zimbabwean businessman Mutumwa Mawere and it has been
transformed into a key security component of the the Mnangagwa faction. The
Mujuru faction has its own private security company run by former Governor
for Mashonalanda East, Ray Kaukonde. The business empire seized from Mawere
by Mnangagwa comprised of Zimre, the holding company of Nicoz Diamond,
Fidelity Life Assurance, Fidelity Life Asset Management Company, Fidelity
Securities, Fidelity Life Medical Aid Society and Zimbabwe Insurance
Also amongst the loot were AAM, Steelnet, Turnall, General Beltings, Tube
and Pipe Industries, First Bank, Pigott Maskew, FSI, CFI Holdings, with its
subsidiaries, Agrifoods, Victoria Foods, Dore and Pitt, Farm & City,
Suncrest, Crest Breeders and Ross Breeders, among others.
Published on: 13th January, 2010
By Denford Magora
Morgan Tsvangirai should not take it personally, I suppose. Mugabe will not
let him chair Cabinet, despite the Prime Minister's persistent requests. He
has even made it an "outstanding issue." Tsvangirai is, after all, Deputy
Chair of Cabinet, according to the Global Political Disagreement.
It turns out, however, that Mugabe has always run government like personal
property. His property. Even before the MDCs joined him at the national
feeding trough, he would not let anyone else chair cabinet meetings in his
absence. Dr Nkomo knew better than to make an issue of this. As did Simon
Muzenda. Both were vice-Presidents to Mugabe and acted as President in his
With Mugabe currently on leave, cabinet is basically not meeting and
ministers are essentially also on leave. It is like Ancient Rome, isn't it,
where, in the case of the Emperor, wherever he pitched his tent was Rome. He
was Government, as Mugabe is government.
This should tell us very clearly that there is no chance whatosever that
Morgan Tsvangirai will one day be allowed to chair cabinet by Mugabe. The
President will either postpone the meetings or hold them before he leaves
for foreign travel.
It is quite clear, then, that those who blame Mugabe for the demise of
Zimbabwe are right on the money. We assume that the reason he insists on
chairing cabinet is so that he can keep a tight handle on things. Which
means he failed completely to avert the chaos that engulfed Zimbabwe's
economy in the last decade. Although he was in the saddle and holding the
reigns, he appears to have fallen asleep on the job.
But, of course, we all know that Mugabe's insistence on excluding all others
from chairing cabinet is part of his grand strategy to stay in power. The
presidential seat, he has previously said, is sacred (he said this at Heroes
Acre). It must be viewed with awe.
More, there should never be a person who can be looked at by other ministers
and be imagined as president. If anyone was to sit in that chair and preside
over matters of state in the Cabinet Boardroom, Mugabe believes that this
would be the start of the waning of his power.
It is a game being played at a psychological level. Not only does this
shroud the presidency in mystery and awe, but it also ensures that there is
nobody else who can ever be realistically seen by others as capable of
actually being president.
If Mugabe could do with members of his own party, with deputies he professed
to love and adore (Nkomo and Muzenda), what chance is there that he would
actually allow Tsvangirai, whom he still refers to as an enemy, to chair
It will never happen.
At least we now know that Mugabe's nature is authoritarian to the very core.
It is in his nature to be so.
As Morgan Tsvangirai said last year, "Sometimes when we disagree, I find
myself asking whether I am dealing with political differences or
It is no defense, of course, for tyranny can never be mitigated.
But it explains a lot. While Mugabe and Tsvangirai's generation should be
thanked for bringing Zimbabwe out of colonialism and helping put the new
nation on its feet, they can not disappear from the stage soon enough. Their
value system and outlook in life was shaped by the very colonialists that
It is now a brave new world, and much as it may pain them, time has moved on
from the 1960s and 1970s. The new world order requires a new way of thinking
which these gentlemen appear incapable of comprehending.
So, for now, we limp along knowing that the Zimbabwe cabinet is state of
suspended animation until Mugabe returns from leave in February. Only then
will government be seen to be pretending to work again, as they always do.
A condescending Robert Mugabe looks on, smiling benevolently like a proud
father, as Morgan Tsvangirai announces to the press at a Press Conference in
Harare yesterday that he is happy with the crumbs Mugabe has given him. The
press conference was held at Zimbabwe House. Mugabe pointed to the
announcement of various commissions and his signing of mandates for
ambassadors from the two MDCs as evidence that the Global Political
Agreement had been implemented!!
by Joshua Howat Berger Joshua Howat Berger - 1 hr 41 mins ago
MAPUTO (AFP) - Key Southern African leaders will hold a special summit
Thursday in Mozambique's capital Maputo to discuss the crisis in Madagascar
and the power-sharing government in Zimbabwe, officials said.
The security organ of the Southern African Development Community (SADC),
known as the Troika, will meet from 5:00 pm (1500 GMT) on Thursday, a
Mozambican foreign ministry official told AFP.
"There will be Troika meeting tomorrow," he said.
A senior Zimbabwe government official told AFP that President Robert Mugabe
had already left Harare to attend the meeting.
"President Mugabe left this afternoon for Maputo to attend an extra-ordinary
summit of SADC, which is expected to discuss the Zimbabwe situation and
unfolding events in Madagascar," the official said in Harare, speaking on
condition of anonymity.
The summit will take place following the swearing-in of Mozambican President
Armando Guebuza to his second term in office.
Guebuza currently heads the Troika, which also includes Zambia and
Swaziland. Zambian President Rupiah Banda will attend the summit, as will
South African President Jacob Zuma, their offices said.
Last week SADC foreign ministers met in Maputo where they also discussed
Zimbabwe and Madagascar.
The regional bloc has been due to review progress in Zimbabwe's unity
government after a special summit in November broke a deadlock that
threatened to sink the deal.
South African mediators have since held talks in Harare among the rival
Zimbabwe parties to settle a slate of differences between Mugabe and his
partner in the unity government, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.
Tsvangirai's spokesman James Maridadi said that he did not know about the
summit and that the prime minister would not attend.
"The prime minister is currently on leave, and he is not going to the
summit. We are not aware of it," Maridadi said.
It was not immediately clear if Madagascar's leaders would attend the
Disagreements between the island nation's four main political groups have
scuttled repeated efforts to end the impasse, with de facto leader Andry
Rajoelina trampling on previous deals with rivals to form a unity
International mediators last week called for elections in Madagascar to end
the prolonged political crisis, after Rajoelina took power last year with
the army's blessing, following a wave of public protests.
By Alex Bell
13 January 2010
The MDC led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has this week taken a tough
stance on the ongoing land attacks, slamming ZANU PF for allowing the
'anarchy' to continue.
Party spokesperson Nelson Chamisa told SW Radio Africa on Wednesday that the
'divisive' land issue under the guise of so-called 'land reform' could be
added to the party's list of outstanding issues in the Global Political
Agreement (GPA). These issues are at the heart of a political stalemate
stalling the progress of the almost year old unity government with ZANU PF
and the smaller MDC formation led by Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara.
The issues are under discussion in yet another round of political
negotiations that are set to continue on Saturday, after ending with little
progress last year.
"The farm attacks are flying the face of the efforts of the inclusive
government to rebuild the country," Chamisa explained, calling the land
attacks the "single largest threat to the stability and success of the unity
The party official continued that the unity government's well intended
efforts are being blatantly undermined by certain people in ZANU PF using
'evil machinations.' Chamisa said the government's biggest challenge is in
the form of the individuals who, "instead of planning they are plotting, and
instead of strategising, they are scheming."
"One must not forget that the natural default setting for ZANU PF is anarchy
and lawlessness," Chamisa said. He added: "The madness must stop."
Farmers have expressed outrage over the government's refusal to act on the
land attacks, which have been ongoing since the unity structure was formed
last February. Some officials have denied that anything more than
'disturbances' have taken place, while even the Prime Minister has
previously dismissed the attacks as 'blown out of proportion.' When asked
why it has taken this long for the land issue to be highlighted as an
important issue, Chamisa explained the party "tried to minimise the number
of issues it had for the sake of progress and unity."
"We are beginning to see that government structures like JOMIC (the Joint
Monitoring and Implementation Committee tasked with dealing the land
attacks) are overwhelmed by the land attacks," Chamisa explained. "We are
now appealing to ZANU PF to stop the madness."
Chamisa's comments come the day after yet another farming family in Rusape
came under violent, physical attack on Tuesday. Koos Smit and his family are
still in shock, after the twin Smit sons were beaten up by a mob of land
invaders. The President of the Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) Deon Theron
explained that the family was also 'holed up' in their house by the land
thugs, expressing relief that the twin sons were not seriously injured.
Theron added that the mob has since moved onto another farm, belonging to
farmer Tizzy Landos, and it's understood the thugs were intimidating the
Landos family all day Wednesday.
"The thugs seem to be working off some kind of list of who to target and
intimidate next," Theron said, adding that "it seems like they are intent on
cleaning out the entire area of white, commercial farmers."
At least four other farming families in Rusape have been notified that their
farms will be seized in the coming days. Most of the families are of South
African origin and are meant to be protected by a recently signed bilateral
investment pact between South Africa and Zimbabwe. But both governments are
ignoring the plight of the farmers, saying the investment pact is not
binding because it hasn't been ratified in Parliament.
Just last week another South African family was forced to flee their farm in
Rusape. Dolf du Toit and his family left the property after more than a week
of violence and intimidation. Their forced eviction came in the wake of two
other evictions, including that of Mandan Farm's Ray Finaughty, who fled his
home with his family on Christmas Eve after days of intimidation and
increasing violence by land invaders. Finaughty is yet another South African
farmer whose government has done nothing to assist him.
South African civil rights initiative AfriForum is now trying to force its
government to protect its citizens who are facing harassment and possible
eviction by land invaders in Zimbabwe. The group launched an urgent bid at
the North Gauteng Supreme Court on Wednesday to cite the Zimbabwean
government as a respondent in the case, in an attempt to enforce a regional
ruling in 2008 that the land 'reform' exercise was unlawful. The ruling was
handed down by the human rights court of the Southern African Development
Community (SADC), which also ordered the Mugabe government to ensure the
protection of farmers and their rights to their land.
But the ruling has been openly flouted and land invasions, taking place
under the guise of so called land 'reform', have intensified this year,
including violent invasions against South African farmers who were involved
in the case. AfriForum explained that the group is trying to get that ruling
registered and enforced in South Africa, in order to use it against
Zimbabwe, from within South Africa.
The MDC's Chamisa meanwhile explained on Wednesday that SADC could also be
asked to intervene over the farm attacks. This in itself speaks volumes
about SADC's 'toothless' position, as Zimbabwe is directly flouting SADC's
own laws. Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa last year announced Zimbabwe
was 'pulling out' of the SADC Tribunal, saying it no longer recognises its
rulings. This conveniently opened the gates for intensified attacks against
SADC protected farms, and yet SADC is yet to issue a single statement
condemning the land invasions.
Wed Jan 13, 2010 12:11pm GMT
* Unions give government 14 day ultimatum
* Strike would paralyse public schools, hospitals
* Move puts pressure on power-sharing government
By Nelson Banya
HARARE, Jan 13 (Reuters) - Zimbabwean state teachers and health workers
threatened on Wednesday to strike over low pay, in a move that would
paralyse public services and put pressure on a unity government struggling
to reverse a decade of economic collapse.
A power-sharing administration set up last year by President Robert Mugabe
and his bitter rival Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai in a bid to end a
protracted economic and political crisis says it needs at least $10 billion
to fix the economy.
The three major unions representing government workers, who earn an average
of $160 a month, told reporters at a joint news conference in Harare that
they would strike if their demand for a minimum wage of $630 was not met
within two weeks.
The unions said they rejected the government's offer of $236 a month for the
highest paid public servant.
"The civil servants in Zimbabwe ... register their displeasure and utter
dismay at the paltry offer the government has put forward," the unions said
in a statement.
"Civil servants therefore demand an urgent redress of this situation before
it's too late...we are giving the leadership of the country 14 days to
decisively intervene on this issue as a matter of urgency."
Finance Minister Tendai Biti has said the government wage bill takes up 60
percent of total revenue and that limited resources available made it
difficult for the state to award significant wage increases.
But government workers said they had no choice.
"Our members are suffering, we cannot pay our bills, the tariffs are higher
than our wages," said Cecilia Alexander, president of the Public Service
Association (PSA), an umbrella body for all civil servants.
A strike by teachers and health professionals, who make up the bulk of the
civil service, would severely affect efforts to revive core sectors which
collapsed at the height of Zimbabwe's crisis in 2008 when services at public
schools and hospitals ground to a halt.
State media reported on Wednesday that although schools had opened on
schedule for the new term, state-employed teachers were not giving lessons
in protest against the slow pace of wage negotiations with the government.
Zimbabwe's unity government has managed to stabilise the economy, mainly by
dumping a local currency rendered worthless by hyperinflation which peaked
at 500 billion percent in December 2008 and adopting the use of multiple
The country's economy grew for the first time in a decade last year -- by a
better than expected 4.7 percent -- and tamed hyperinflation, but analysts
say the economy will only take off on the back foreign investment and
Investors and Western donors are, however, holding out for signs that the
unity government will last and watching if Mugabe is ready to genuinely
share power with Tsvangirai and institute broad reforms.
The fragile coalition has been rocked by frequent wrangles over the pace of
reforms, senior government appointments such as that of central bank
governor and attorney-general, as well as sanctions imposed on Mugabe and
his inner circle.
Written by WOZA
Wednesday, 13 January 2010 15:04
WOZA and MOZA take to the streets of Bulawayo today to demand real schools
with real teachers for a real education
Over 800 members of Women and Men of Zimbabwe Arise took to the streets of
Bulawayo at midday today to peacefully protest about the state of education
in Zimbabwe. Five groups started separately and converged on Mhlahlandlela
Government complex to hand over the WOZA report on the education system in
Zimbabwe entitled - Looking Back to look Forward. The report covers
recommendations and a list of demands that parents want addressed by the
Minister of Education, Senator David Coltart. Before they could hand over
the report however, the peaceful group was dispersed by at least 12 police
officers, including high-ranking officers. No arrests have been reported to
date but WOZA leaders are still verifying whether everyone returned safely
to their homes.
The theme of the protest was -'real schools with real teachers for a real
education'. Education has been a long-term mobilisation issue for WOZA. As
the new school year begins, many members have reported that their children
were turned away at the gates of schools yesterday on the first day of term.
Reasons given include account arrears and non-payment of the US$5 required
for last year's report card. One school even turned away children for
non-payment of a 'vandalising day', a ZAR 10 contribution.
Given the general unhappiness of parents at the state of education in
Zimbabwe, support for the peaceful march from bystanders was high.
Observers reported that many bystanders joined the group at Mhlahlandlela.
One man who joined the demonstration was overheard saying that he would be
prepared to be arrested because the issue of education is so close to his
heart. Uniformed police officers also asked members as they were dispersing
why they had stopped singing and encouraged them to continue with their
songs of protest. The songs included the words, "our children are crying for
Attempts to hand in the report to the Regional Director for Education were
unsuccessful as apparently the position in Matabeleland has not been filled.
Security guards at the gate of the government complex told the protestors to
go to Harare and speak directly to the Minister of Education. Copies of the
newsletter were left with the guards instead.
The demands included in the report include:
. Teachers must produce quality teaching and show that they are
committed to the learning of all their pupils equally.
. Education authorities must utilise the vehicles that are being
purchased to supervise teachers and demand more discipline in schools.
. Teachers must stop demanding top-ups from parents and the Ministry
must prohibit this practice.
. The Ministry must work to produce a new and relevant curriculum as
. Parents will do their best to pay reasonable fees set by Ministry
and levies set by properly constituted and democratic parents meetings at
the beginning of each year - we will not accept any fee or levy changes in
The full education report and the text of the newsletter can be found on
Gokwe, January 13, 2010 - Zanu PF militia in Gokwe are beating up people who
are not party card carrying members and recording their names ahead of the
constitutional process which starts next week.
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) chairperson in the Gokwe Gumunnyu
constituency Abiel Kufazvinei told Radio VOP: "We have a number of villagers
who were and are being terrorized by the youths who last week launched an
intimidation and brutal campaign in the area. The militia, Hwami Hwami,
George Muchanya, and Martin Rukweza are using a pick up Truck belonging to a
Mrs Ziga for patrolling the entire constituency terrorizing people."
"They are telling them that the President has ordered that there are no
more elections and the country now has a single party which is Zanu PF
and which has since swallowed MDC formations hence the need for everyone
to be loyal to the liberation party. We have reported all the cases to
Chodha and Nembudziya police stations and nothing seems forthcoming," said
MDC provincial chairman Cefas Zimuti said he was worried with the situation.
"Since June 27 2008 our people in Gokwe have never been safe from
political violence and victimization and we wonder why the police are
failing to contain the situation. The most disappointing thing is that
perpetrators of violence are well known people of the same society who spend
the rest of their time roaming the same villages scout free."
Written by Correspondent
Wednesday, 13 January 2010 16:46
HARARE- The Constitution Parliamentary Select Committee, has been forced to
launch an immediate audit of its outreach teams after the number of
commissioners swelled from the initial 530 to close to a thousand.
Co- chairperson of the committee, Paul Mangwana told plenary at the training
of outreach teams in Harare,that after the audit, the final list of
outreach teams would be published in the media.
"If your name is not on the final list which will be published in
newspapers, then please do not embarass yourself by trying to sneak back
inside. We are aware that there are some people who are not supposed to be
here who have joined us."
The swelling of numbers was attributed to reports that outreach team members
would be receiving US$70 a day for the 65 days they will be on duty.
Parliamentarians will be the biggest beneficiaries as they will be paid
US80 per day for the use of their vehicles.
Meanwhile members of parliament attending the outreach training in Harare
were confronted by angry party activists who accused them of practising
nepotism by recommending siblings and children to the constitution making
"It is a very sad development that genuine party activists were left out of
the process because MPs recommended their brothers, sisters, children and
other relatives while living out genuine party activists who were campaign
agents during presidential and parliamentary elections," an angry youth
official said in an interview.
In a bizarre development, an official from Mashonaland East was reported to
have recalled his five children based in South Africa to participate in the
constitution making process as outreach team commissioners.
The training in Harare was chaotic as food rain out constantly and Holiday
Inn based delegates only managed to receive food duringone of the nights
after war vets leader, Joseph Chinotimba jumped on restaurant tables in
Some Harare based delegates claimed fuel allowance while others also based
in Harare claimed transport after alleging they had comefrom remote parts of
Written by Radio VOP
Wednesday, 13 January 2010 14:03
Harare - Some civic society members and MDC supporters on Tuesday took the
bull by its horns and faced rowdy war vets who had attempted to disrupt a
constitutional thematic meeting, (Pictured: War veterans) telling them that
Zimbabwe belonged to everyone including those who did not participate in the
liberation war that brought about Zimbabwe's independence in 1980. War
veterans on Tuesday had attempted to disrupted a constitutional thematic
meeting and threatened to beat up civic society members attending the
meeting at Rainbow Towers Hotel. Major Cairo Mhandu, a war veteran chairing
the meeting, started chanting Zanu PF slogans while raising a clinched fist,
protesting to the idea that the meeting start with a prayer. This situation
did not go well with the other thematic members who fiercely complained
leading to the clash.The war vets began chanting slogans and singing
The war veterans argued that they fought for Zimbabwe and had the right to
dictate what they wanted at the thematic meeting. "We do not want
civilians to contribute to our affairs..." shouted the war veterans. The
civic society and MDC supporters advanced to the top table to face the chair
Mhandu and other three war veterans and told them that Zimbabwe was not
theirs alone. "You are crazy, this country belongs to us all and this time
we are not going to tolerate you. We are in a new Zimbabwe different from
what you used to do in the previous years," said a youthful guy from the
MDC. The havoc was calmed by ZANU-PF chairman for the Parliamentary
constitution select committee, Paul Mangwana who was quickly summoned to
intervene. "Cdes the liberation of Zimbabwe is not about the political
parties, because there were many people who died during the war for this
country who were not Zanu PF only," said Mangwana. "Zimbabwe is not for Zanu
PF but a country for Zimbabweans.
Let us desist from party sloganeering during this process and debate
meaningfully for we are crafting a constitution for the generations to come.
I don't want to hear any noise and let's stick to business. I am ordering
that the meeting should start without either a prayer or anything else,"
said Mangwana before ordering self styled war veteran Joseph Chinotimba to
"shut up" and obey to his directive. Chinotimba was not part of the war
veterans' thematic committee but had jumped in after hearing that his
colleagues were engaged in a dispute. The parliament select committee on the
Constitution formed 17 thematic committees comprising members from different
organizations and back grounds. The members who are being trained will be
responsible for gathering people's views on the new constitution of
Zimbabwe, which will see fresh elections in the country, which has battled
with political and economic stability for the past decade.
Addressing delegates from the civic society who were gathered for the
training programme that will go for consultations on the constitution on
Monday, Justice Ben Sathlayo said there shall be no political party
sloganeering or wearing of political party regalia during the whole
constitution making process by out reach members.
Written by ZLHR
Wednesday, 13 January 2010 16:55
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) wishes to express its grave concern
at attempts by Mbada Diamonds to auction diamonds emanating from Chiadzwa in
the most non-transparent and questionable manner.
It is reported that officials from the Ministry of Mines and Mining
Development on Thursday 7 January 2010 halted the controversial and
much-publicised sale of diamonds from the Chiadzwa fields after Mbada
Diamonds (a joint venture company between the government and some South
African investors) prepared to auction the diamonds. The reason for the
aborted auction was that the international diamond regulatory body, the
Kimberly Process (KP), and other key government departments had not been
informed of the sale.
ZLHR notes that the KP has set up standards for Zimbabwe to meet before
diamonds from Chiadzwa can be traded internationally. These standards
include a suspension on production and exports from Marange until - at a
minimum - effective security, internal control measures and resources are in
place. A further requirement is the creation of an independent,
multi-stakeholder monitoring body involving government, business and civil
society to bring Zimbabwe into full compliance with KP requirements within a
specified period of time.
As yet, this body has not been established, and neither have the other
conditions been met.
Further to that, there has been neither a complete demilitarization of the
Chiadzwa fields, nor a comprehensive investigation into the role of the
Zimbabwe National Army, the Zimbabwe Republic Police, and other officials in
the abuses in Chiadzwa as required by the KP.
With these conditions, among others, remaining woefully unfulfilled, it is
of grave concern that an attempt was made to auction diamonds from Chiadzwa.
Indeed, the failure to ensure KP compliance in sales of diamonds from
Chiadzwa leads one to ponder at the manner in which private sector
participants for the diamond industry as regards Chiadzwa have been sought
by the Government of Zimbabwe.
This is especially so when there remains to date a court order (one which an
appeal does not suspend) to the effect that certain claims in Chiadzwa
should be returned to the lawful company - African Consolidated Resources -
to which they had been granted. This court order has been ignored, if not
Such actions raise legitimate questions about the general lawfulness of
mining in Chiadzwa and leads to the singular conclusion that the rule of law
continues to be deeply undermined in that area.
The entire manner of extraction, distribution and allocation of natural
resources in Zimbabwe by both the government and the private sector raises
concerns, not least because of the aforementioned rule of law issues.
Indeed, the failure to follow open and transparent procedures in terms of
obtaining partners to mine in Chiadzwa brings to the fore the real
possibility of serious plunder of natural resources, to the detriment of
development and poverty reduction initiatives for local populations, the
fundamental right of communities to benefit from the country's natural
resources, and attempts at national economic empowerment and development.
In the circumstances, ZLHR demands that the Government of Zimbabwe does as
. Respect and immediately implement in full all recommendations of the KP
within the stipulated time-frames;
. Respect the basic tenets of the Rule of Law - the most basic starting
point being respect for court orders;
. Immediately establish an independent investigating committee (which
shall report publicly to Parliament) to undertake an audit of the firms
currently mining at Chiadzwa and implement recommendations of such committee
aimed at ensuring that all firms begin mining by a competitive and public
process that is rights compliant and consistent with the rule of law and
. Scrupulously adheres to the tenets of sustainable development in the
management of mineral and other resources, not just in Chiadzwa, but in the
Harare, January 13, 2010 - The Women's Trust of Zimbabwe say President
Robert Mugabe's Executive powers are too much and he must have most of them
removed, Radio VOP can reveal.
The Women's Trust, which operates from Harare, is led by firebrand activist,
In a document stating its views about Zimbabwe's new constitution, the women
say the Executive powers must have "checks and balances" to ensure
accountability by national leaders.
"We want limited terms of office for the Head of State," the women said.
They also said the new Constitution currently being drafted must provide for
the creation of a Gender Commission with specific mandate to promote women's
They said the constitution must recognise that "women are the single largest
marginalised group with special interests in Zimbabwe".
"The current constitution does not clearly provide for social and economic
rights like the right to education, food, shelter and health," the women
said. "Government should provide, protect and secure such and other human
They said that women wanted the right to access and own land and houses, as
single women, when married, as divorcees and as widows.
produce for sale
"As is the case in many rural areas, the foreign currency was hard to come by and we were struggling to get money to buy basic commodities," Chuma, 34, told IRIN.
He decided to turn his yard into a market garden to produce fruit and vegetables to sell directly to consumers in April 2009, soon after the Zimbabwe dollar became obsolete.
Crippling hyperinflation had rendered the local dollar all but worthless and in February 2009 the economy was officially "dollarised". Economists stopped measuring inflation after it hit 6.5 quindecillion novemdecillion percent - 65 followed by 107 zeros.
Using the United States dollar, South African rand and Botswana pula as legal tender has helped rein in inflation, but they are seldom available in remote areas like Seke district, some 50km south of Harare, the capital, where Chuma lives.
A family affair
"I sold two chickens and bought the seed with which I started the garden project. Now the story is different because I make about US$10 a day, enough to buy foodstuffs and save for school fees and uniforms," said Chuma, a father of three.
"Growing vegetables is a hard job, but since I started this project my life has improved." He irrigates the garden with water drawn from a well he dug, but his family sometimes still has fetch extra water from the river a kilometre away.
Growing vegetables is a hard
job, but since I started this project my life has improved
Samson Chanakira, 50, a village elder, said almost every household in the district has started a market garden, all modelled on Chuma's plot.
The bus stops along the nearby highway between Harare with the border city of Mutare, 265km southeast of the capital, are now surrounded by vegetable vendors who try to attract passing motorists and jostle for customers among the waiting passengers.
The more enterprising villagers are finding it more lucrative to avoid local competition and hire trucks to transport their produce to the capital and Chitungwiza, a large town about 30km from Harare.
Chanakira said he had started mobilising people to form a market gardening cooperative. "The idea of growing vegetables for sale is fast gaining momentum in this area, and this is because the villagers have realised that it is a way out of poverty. However, it would be better if we could pool our resources and sell our produce as one group."
Innocent Makwiramiti, a Harare-based economist and former chief executive officer of the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce, also urged villagers to form cooperatives, as this would increase their chances of securing loans from financial institutions. He said the government should improve rural infrastructure, particularly water sources and roads.
"There is a need for the government and local authorities to play an active role in promoting market gardening in rural areas," he suggested. "This is a sure way of ensuring greater circulation of money in such communities, and reducing rural household poverty."
Harare, January 13, 2010: A four month tour of the United States last year has paid off for local musical group, Mbira dze Muninga, after they successfully produced five albums which they launch in Harare on Thursday evening at the Mannenberg in Harare.
Band leader, Tigere Kahamadze said that his group’s tour to the U.S. was facilitated by Matanho Project, a Washington-based non-profit organisation dedicated to improving the lives of Zimbabwean musicians and their communities.
During their stay in the U.S., Kahamadze and fellow group members- Jacob Mafuleni, Micah Munhemo, Tonderai Ndaba and Pitchson Ngoshi- partook in music festivals teaching Mbira and Zimbabwean traditional dance.
“Since the days of Dumisani Maraire, Zimbabwean music has been growing in the U.S.,” said Kahamadze.
“Local musicians have been traveling there, and American musicians have been coming here, it can’t be more exciting than the event we will witness on Thursday at the Mannenberg when we launch our five albums.”
“Besides Zimbabweans playing marimba and Mbira there are also people from other countries that play the same instruments,” he said.
A representative of the Matanho Project said the idea of a multiple CD launch was mooted in December last year and will feature several Americans and a Senegalese who were tutored on the traditional instruments by the Mbira dze Muninga crew.
A representative of the Matanho Project said being in Zimbabwe has always been her organization’s dream, having assisted several local Zimbabwean musicians visit the U.S.
“When Zimbabwean musicians come to the (United) States, they are teaching us. So this is a good example of what they taught us, what we have learned and done together,” said Cathy Crystal who also plays Mbira and Hosho.
Cathy and her colleagues- Karin Tauscher from Oregon and the Washington based trio of Dana Moffat, Rose Orskog and Donita Crosby will partner with their Zimbabwean counterparts in when the group plays songs from the two albums- Tiringeiwo and Shamwari Muninga. Other CDs to be launched are a solo album, Rovambira, by Micah Munhemo, Muninga and Sungano by Mbira dze Muninga.
The Matanho Project has assisted several local groups such as Afro-acoustic group, Bongo Love, Maungira eNharira and Mbira dze Nharira tour the U.S. in the past. During the tours, the groups teach interested Americans how to play local music as well as learn some instruments in the U.S. cementing longstanding cultural ties between the peoples of Zimbabwe and the U.S.
# # #
This report was produced and circulated by the U.S. Embassy Public Affairs Section. Queries and comments should be address to the Public Affairs Officer, Tim Gerhardson. Images can be accessed from our website http://harare.usembassy.gov
Written by The Zimbabwean
Wednesday, 13 January 2010 14:33
MISA-Zimbabwe cautiously welcomes the final appointment by the President of
commissioners that will serve on the statutory Zimbabwe Media Commission
The appointments come at a time of high expectations for a free, diverse and
pluralistic media environment as envisaged under Article 19 of the Global
Political Agreement (GPA) signed by the three major political parties that
constitute the inclusive government. While MISA-Zimbabwe sees the
development as a potential vehicle to democratise the media, long shackled
by political controls, we strongly believe that only a self-regulating media
authority working within a democratic media framework compatible with
international instruments on freedom of expression, is the only obligatory
route to achieving a genuinely free and diverse media environment.
This is particularly so given that the new Commission - whose members are
yet to be sworn in - will still operate under the very same repressive legal
instruments that have decimated the private media and hindered the
proliferation of alternative sources of information. According to
Constitutional Amendment No 19, which creates the commission, ZMC is
mandated among other roles, "to exercise any other functions that may be
conferred or imposed on the Commission by or under an Act of Parliament."
Thus, ZMC could still be used to enforce the repressive provisions of the
Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA). This is
particularly worrying as it will simply perpetuate the systematic assaults
on media freedom and Zimbabweans' basic rights to free expression and
information that characterised the last decade.
For instance, despite the January 2008 amendments to AIPPA, the Act still
contains obnoxious provisions inimical to media freedom and the exercise of
freedom of expression and access to information. Of great concern is the
retention of stringent requirements on the accreditation and registration of
journalists and media houses, which pose serious threats to free
journalistic enterprise and is unjustifiable in a democracy. The continued
existence of AIPPA has seen delays in the return of banned publications such
as The Daily News and Daily News on Sunday as well as the licensing of new
players itching to enter the media sector.
MISA-Zimbabwe urges the government to urgently institute comprehensive media
reforms that will facilitate the establishment of a transparent and
democratic media regulating mechanism to foster and protect diverse media
and the free flow of information and access to alternative sources of
information. This will entail the repealing of AIPPA as well as other
repressive media laws and their replacement with democratic legislation that
is in tandem with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the African
Charter on Human and Peoples Rights and Banjul Declaration on the Principles
of Freedom of Expression in Africa. Otherwise, any other reforms short of
this will only be cosmetic and will not address the root cause of the
problems plaguing the media and the citizens' right to free expression and
In December 2008 a close relative of a colleague of mine skipped the
country - I'll call her Tandy. She told her daughter she was going to town
to do some shopping, but said nothing to her family members. They worried
themselves senseless when they didn't hear from her for days. Eventually
they were told she had gone to South Africa to look for a job - this news
only added to their worries: she didn't have a passport so would be bribing
her way across the border, and being a pretty young women, the thoughts of
what could happen to her were especially frightening.
It was a few weeks before they received a sms message, sent via a borrowed
phone, to say she had arrived and was well. Understandably, anger set in;
her father was especially incensed at her actions.
It emerged some time later that Tandy had been pestering her husband for
some years to leave Zimbabwe, for them to try and start a better life in
South Africa. He had been refusing, and it seems she decided to take matters
into her own hands. We can only speculate on why she didn't say goodbye, but
most assume that her father - a fierce individual - may well have gone nuts
with anger and done all he could to stop her going. As for not saying
goodbye to her daughter: I raised my eyebrows at this, but my colleague
commented that lots and lots of people in Zimbabwe have been forced to leave
their families behind so this in itself was 'normal' - saying goodbye might
have been unbearably hard for her to do.
Phone calls from Tandy to her family through 2009 were rare, and most of the
contact was restricted to sms messages. On one occasion she told her
daughter that when she saw her next she'd be bringing her "lots of things" -
toys and clothes - but she refused to give a contact telephone number saying
her phone had been stolen. This was the first indication that all was
probably not well.
After a full year of sporadic and minimal contact, Tandy returned to spend
Christmas 2009 with her husband and daughter. She was empty handed, had no
money, and was very underweight. There were no Christmas presents and no
money to leave with the family. All the questions we'd had running through
our minds would now be answered, I thought, but Tandy was tight-lipped,
refusing to discuss her life in South Africa with anyone.
My colleague, still annoyed at her behaviour in 2008, has been venting her
frustration. I asked what Tandy was doing for a living, because we all know
life as a refugee is hard. My colleague said, "Well, she SAYS she is working
as a cleaner". There was a tone of disbelief in her voice so I dared to ask
"Is it possible her loss of weight might be because she is sick - do you
think she might be selling her body?"
My friend was careful in her reply, suggesting to me that the thought had
occurred to her too, but she said, no, she didn't think so, because Tandy
was not that sort of girl. And also, she pointed out, Tandy didn't have any
money on her and women with sugar daddies often do! She then hesitated and
said to me that Tandy's brother, who still lives in Zimbabwe, had warned
Tandy's husband that both of them needed to be tested when Tandy eventually
came back. So the element of doubt, and a misery of uncertainty, hangs in
And so Tandy came back for Christmas in 2009. It is important to note that
life in Zimbabwe has changed dramatically since she left. In 2008, Christmas
was bleak: there was no food in the shops and poverty still bit hard. People
were risking police wrath by illicitly trading in forex and Zimbabwe dollar
transactions involved figures too large for calculators to cope with. Today
the shop shelves are full again, openly priced in $US and Rands and the Zim
dollar banished - what would Tandy make of it?
My colleague came back to work today after leave and told me that Tandy had
been subdued throughout her stay but that she had left again. During the
time she was here she'd kept saying she planned to come back to Zimbabwe.
But, as before, she had left the country once again without a word to
anyone. And once again, Tandy left without money, and again braving an awful
illegal journey across the border without a passport.
I was stunned: "Why?!"
My colleague replied that yes, the Zimbabwe shops are full, but the only
money Tandy had to spare was five Rands, which she gave to her daughter for
sweets just before she left. The shops are full again, ".but you need money
to be able to buy the food" said my friend. She noted too that Tandy had
lost her job in Zimbabwe, and that her family would now have to support her
without even the paltry income she had before she left in 2008.
"But surely you'd have found a way" I said, shocked.
"Maybe, but it would have been very, very hard", said my friend. "We're
struggling even now to be able to keep going. Things are very expensive. We
would have helped her, but it would have been hard". The difference between
2008 and 2009, she said, was that poverty and hardhsip is not as obviously
in people's minds (and the minds of media) as it was once before. "People
think because the shops are full, that everyone can afford to buy: but it is
EXPENSIVE!", said my friend.
I asked then if Tandy had left because this had been explained to her. "No
one said anything", said my friend, "but Tandy can see with her own eyes".
It was a raw reminder that shelves bulging with food are just a veneer of
change for many, that poverty still bites hard, that the choices people
make - in the name of survival - still make the mind boggle and the heart
ache. A story so close to home makes me think of the thousands of other
Zimbabweans, struggling just like Tandy. Many of them must feel they've been
lost in the middle of 'change'. This post is riddled with opportunities for
people to judge Tandy, but I feel I must stress is she is a good person, a
really nice girl. She is utterly ordinary, but because she is a Zimbabwean,
her choices have been extraordinary.
My heart ached when my colleague told me that they all felt her main reason
for leaving again, this time in 2010, when things are supposedly 'better',
and again without goodbyes, was "because she is ashamed".
"Why" I asked, immediately thinking the worst and thinking that they had
discovered she DID have a sugar daddy. My friend's answer revealed the
intense pressure on parents to provide: "She is ashamed because she left
thinking she would come back with money for us all, but instead she came
back with nothing. I think she wants to try again. I think she still wants
to return home, but with what we need to improve our lives."
As before, no one has heard from Tandy since she left, and once again we are
worrying that she is safely over the border and that she has made it to
wherever she goes. Tandy told her family that the next time she came back,
it would be for good; we are all hoping to see her home soon, but we don't
know when that will be.
This entry was posted by Hope on Wednesday, January 13th, 2010 at 11:06 am.
Do yourself a favour and visit Poetry International to read some great poetry from around the world. The current featured Zimbabwean poet is Freedom T.V. Nyamubaya. Editor Irene Staunton introduces her as "a rural development activist, farmer, dancer and writer who was born in Uzumba. Cutting short her secondary school education in 1975, she left to join the Zimbabwe National Liberation Army in Mozambique where she achieved the rank of Female Field Operation Commander, later being elected Secretary for Education in the first ZANU Women's League conference in 1979."
Here is one of Freedom T.V. Nyamubaya's poems from 2009.
Coming and Going
In Zimbabwe rain is an event
Like the sighting of a new moon
In the fasting month of Ramadan
The butterflies display a short-lived beauty
Before they become the sparrow's festive dish
Beautiful angels in a distant dream
Of babies in the reeds and life after death.
There are more prophets of doom
Than angels from Heaven
Most rivers are silted
With fertilisers and asbestos powder
From the higher-ranking scientific politicians
Whose power to stop development
Can be measured in kilogrammes of pain
No gatecrashers at Heroes Acre please!
You have to have been mafia to qualify