The ZIMBABWE Situation
An extensive and up-to-date website containing news, views and links related to ZIMBABWE - a country in crisis
Return to INDEX page
Please note: You need to have 'Active content' enabled in your IE browser in order to see the index of articles on this webpage

Zimbabwe's attorney general says activist a threat

Wed Jan 14, 2009 10:56am GMT

By MacDonald Dzirutwe

HARARE, Jan 14 (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's attorney general branded detained
human rights campaigner Jestina Mukoko a threat to society and said he would
oppose her release, in comments published on Wednesday.

Mukoko has been charged with attempting to topple President Robert Mugabe
alongside two other activists and dozens of opposition members in cases that
have deepened Zimbabwe's political deadlock.

Attorney General Johannes Tomana, appointed by Mugabe last month, told the
state-owned Herald newspaper in an interview that there was enough evidence
to suggest Mukoko committed a crime and should not be released.

"Any attorney general in the world would do what I am doing given a case
like the one involving Mukoko," Tomana said. "Evidence gathered proves that
she is a threat to society and she should not be released now."

Mukoko and other activists accuse state security agents of torturing them to
extract confessions and deny the charges against them. The government says
it does not use torture.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change accuses Mugabe of using the
arrests to exert pressure to force it into joining a unity government from a
position of weakness and without the posts it seeks.

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has said the cases could wreck his
September power-sharing agreement with Mugabe, seen as a chance to rescue
the once relatively prosperous country that is now ruined.

A cholera epidemic has added to Zimbabwe's misery. Latest figures from the
World Health Organisation showed 2,196 people dead from 40,448 cases.
Neighbouring Mozambique said the epidemic had spread there too, killing 40

Tomana, who sits in cabinet as a non-voting member, but is meant to
prosecute cases independent from government influence, denied that the case
against Mukoko was political. However, he said he was proud to be a
supporter of Mugabe's ZANU-PF party.

The ruling party lost its parliamentary majority to the MDC in March last
year, the first time since independence in 1980. But the Herald said the
opposition might lose its slim majority after one of its legislators was
convicted for forgery.

Legislator Lynette Karenyi was convicted of forging the signatures to secure
nomination for the vote. She denies the charges but it is not clear whether
she is appealing against the conviction. (Additional reporting by Charles
Mangwiro in Maputo)

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zimbabwe's Supreme Court orders clinic treatment for rights activist

Posted : Wed, 14 Jan 2009 15:53:56 GMT
Author : DPA

Harare/Johannesburg - Zimbabwe's Supreme Court on Wednesday
ruled that a prominent human rights activist being held on charges of
recruiting people for insurgency training and terrorist bombings be taken to
a private clinic. Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku also deemed urgent the
case, in which Jestina Mukoko of the Zimbabwe Peace Project was challenging
her detention and the charges brought against her.

"The applicant must be afforded medical attention as a matter of
urgency," Chidyausiku said.

Mukoko and 30 other activists - mainly from the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party were being detained following
their arrests between October and December.

The group had applied to the Supreme Court for the right to
medical treatment, claiming they had been kidnapped by state agents and
tortured in detention and forced to admit to having trained or recruited
people for a plot to topple the government of President Robert Mugabe.

The state had challenged a High Court ordering that she and her
fellow defendants be taken to a private clinic for treatment, saying that
the prison clinic had facilities to treat them.

Mukoko was taken from her home in Norton, some 40 kilometres
south-west of the capital Harare, in a dawn raid on December 3. Her
whereabouts remained unknown, with police saying they were investigating a
kidnapping, until December 24, when she was brought before court.

The same day, the 30 activists - who alleged they were abducted
by state agents in October - also appeared in court. A two-year-old child of
two of the detainees was on Wednesday released after 76 days in the custody
of police and prison authorities.

MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa said the child had been "assaulted
and denied food and medical attention by his captors."

MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai has threatened to pull out of a
power-sharing signed with Mugabe's government in September over its
treatment of the activists.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Abducted baby released to strangers

By Violet Gonda
14 January 2009

The youngest political detainee, two year old Nigel Mutemagawo who has spent
nearly three months in prison, was finally released on Tuesday afternoon.
Nigel was released from Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison, but not with his
mother Violet Mupfuranhehwe.

The two year old was abducted by state agents last October, together with
his mother and father Collen Mutemagawo, who is the MDC Zvimba South youth
chairperson. Both his parents remain in prison on allegations of trying to
overthrow the ZANU PF regime. They are still being held despite a High Court
ruling that they should be released.

Rights lawyers said although its good news that the child has finally been
freed following a lengthy and unlawful incarceration, it is feared that
Nigel will be further traumatised as he was taken away from his mother and
given to MDC officials, who are total strangers.

One of the lawyers, Andrew Makoni, believes Nigel was at some stage suckling
during the period he was in detention and it is not known if the mother had
stopped breastfeeding. Makoni said it is disheartening that a child that
young is separated from his parents over spurious charges.

He said: "It is not in the best interest of minor children for them to be in
custody of third parties in such circumstances and it is not in the best
interest of minor children for them to be in detention for a period of about
78 days.'

The MDC information department released a statement which said: "Medical
reports show that during his abduction and continued detention for charges
of banditry and terrorism, two year-old Nigel was assaulted and denied food
and medical attention by his captors."

 His mother also said in an affidavit that at times she was not allowed to
feed her child and that he was beaten up using a fan belt when he cried for
It is reported that the MDC officials who were handed the child on Tuesday
were now frantically trying to locate his parents' relatives so that they
can hand the baby over to them.
Scores of political and civic activists face different charges on issues
linked to the alleged attempts to overthrow the Mugabe government.
One group, which includes Jestina Mukoko the director of the Zimbabwe Peace
Project, is accused of facilitating the training of MDC activists as
bandits. This group of 8 appeared in court on Wednesday and the matter is
expected to continue on Thursday.
Another group, that includes MDC director of Security Chris Dhlamini and
Ghandi Mudzingwa, former aide to Morgan Tsvangirai, is facing allegations of
bombing trains and police stations. They are expected in the High Court also
on Thursday for a bail hearing.
And another group, including Pascal Gonzo from the ZPP, is facing
allegations of assisting some of the detainees to escape, or to evade arrest
by the police.
The activists deny all the charges and say they were tortured into making
confessions. The state has continued to defy court rulings to release the
individuals for medical treatment.
Meanwhile, the new Attorney General, Johannes Tomana, is quoted in the state
media saying he will oppose the release of Mukoko as she is a threat to
18 individuals including Mukoko are being held at Chikurubi, while at least
11 others are still missing.
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights were making an urgent high court
application before Judge Alphas Chitakunye, seeking the immediate
production, and release of those still missing.
Meanwhile the Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered that former ZBC newsreader
Jestina Mukoko be taken to a private clinic for treatment. Chief Justice
Godfrey Chidyausiku ordered that, 'the applicant must be afforded medical
attention as a matter of urgency.' Several other judgments ordering the same
have all been ignored by the authorities.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

No more passports for 'ordinary' Zimbabweans

Tuesday, 13 January 2009 21:32 Chronicle/ RVOP Nation

The ZANU-PF government will only issue urgent or emergency travel documents,
according to a notice at the Passport offices in Bulawayo on Monday.

The changes were effected on January 08. An urgent passport for an adult
will cost USd 650 while that of a child under 12 years of age will cost USd
400. An emergency travel document has been pegged at USd 50 while forms will
cost Zd four million.

Those who wish to apply for emergency travel documents (ETDs) will now be
asked to book in advance. The next booking day for ETDs in Bulawayo will be
January 26, while for that urgent passports will be January 30. To replace a
passport, one will have to pay USd 400.

An ordinary passport is charged in both US dollars and local currency and
the last increase was in the beginning of December. A normal adult passport
costs USd 120 and that of a child below 12 years has been pegged at USd 60,
with a passport form going for USd 20.

In local currency, an adult ordinary passport costs Zd 200 million, from the
previous Zd 500 000, while that of a child has been raised from Zd 350 000
to Zd 160 million.

An official at the passport office said the suspension in issuing of
ordinary passports was due to shortage of material needed to make passports.

"There is no paper to print passports so we can only entertain emergency
cases which give us foreign currency. The only way to give everyone
passports would be to charge a flat fee in forex, but that would embarass
the government," he said.

The passport offices in Gweru that are normally besieged by large crowds
have since last week been unusually deserted as a result of the new fees.

Analysts said the move will encourage illegal border crossing as Zimbabweans
were determined to run away from the current economic hardships to seek
food, medicines and other basic necessities from neighbouring countires.

Fungai Ndava said:  "The government is only endangering its people. Hundreds
of Zimbabweans are crossing neighbouring borders illegaly and at times using
dangerous points."

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Cholera deaths rise as UN bails out health department

By Alex Bell
14 January 2009

The United Nations Global Fund to fight Aids, TB and malaria, as well as
other UN agencies, have agreed to bail out Zimbabwe's failed health
ministry, by funding the payment of health workers in foreign currency.

The move, which is set to end the ongoing nurses and doctors' strike, will
see the government being handed foreign currency to pay it's health force,
and will effectively bolster the same government whose actions have led to
the collapse of the health system. The dire state of Zimbabwe's hospitals
and clinics saw many staff members join a strike over salaries and working
conditions and, soon after, saw medical institutions closing because of a
critical lack of staff and supplies. The government has since blamed the
strike for hampering the treatment of the deadly cholera crisis that has
officially claimed more than 2000 lives.

Health Minster David Parirenyatwa this week said US$1.5 million had been set
aside for monthly salaries from the US$7 million already donated by aid
groups responding to the government's December appeal for help. The appeal
came after the government finally declared the cholera outbreak a national
emergency, but while aid groups had offered to send in their own teams to
tackle the epidemic, Parirenyatwa this week told the Herald newspaper that
the ministry had rejected this form of aid.

"Following our December 4 request for assistance in the health sector, a
number of well wishers have pledged to give us their health workers to work
in our public institutions, but we have said give us the money so that our
own staff return to work," he said.

It's understood striking health staff have so far rejected the proposed
salaries by the government, but state health workers are already being urged
to open FCA's (foreign currency accounts) to facilitate the payments of
salaries by the end of January.

Meanwhile, as the official death toll as a result of the cholera epidemic
continues to soar, UK based aid organisation, Save the Children has
expressed fears about the number of child deaths going unreported across
Zimbabwe. The organisation on Wednesday echoed widely held fears that the
unofficial death toll is in reality very much higher than the official
figures released by the World Health Organisation, and said in a statement
that the health system is so bad that "under-fives frequently die from

The group's country director in Zimbabwe, Rachel Pounds, said on Wednesday
that "we have a situation where babies are falling sick with watery
diarrhoea, but parents don't realise its cholera so don't get treatment."
She said this lack of awareness and reporting mean the cholera death toll
could be significantly higher than official figures. Pounds also expressed
fears that the situation was helping to spread the disease, explaining that
funerals "can be a breeding ground for cholera if bodies aren't buried

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Under-five cholera deaths in Zimbabwe going unrecorded, fears Save the Children

Wednesday, 14, Jan 2009 12:00

The real cholera death toll is being hidden by a lack of awareness and
under-reporting of under-five deaths from the disease, fears Save the

The number of people killed by cholera in Zimbabwe topped 2000 on Tuesday,
according to the UN. However the children's aid organisation suspects that
many babies and young children - those most vulnerable to cholera - are
dying without the disease being identified or recorded.

Rachel Pounds, Save the Children's country director in Zimbabwe, said:

"Save the Children believes that cholera may have become a silent killer of
young children in Zimbabwe. The health system is now so bad here that
under-fives frequently die from diarrhoea. Now we have a situation where
babies are falling sick with watery diarrhoea, but parents don't realise it's
cholera so don't get treatment. Young children are the quickest to recover
if they get proper care, but they are also the quickest to die if they do

"This lack of awareness and reporting mean the cholera death toll could be
significantly higher than official figures. More dangerously, it also could
be helping to spread the disease. Funerals can be a breeding ground for
cholera if bodies aren't buried safely. If parents don't know why their
young babies have died, it's likely they're not protecting themselves and
their other children properly, which means they too could become a cholera

Save the Children, which is running a major emergency appeal for children in
Zimbabwe, has so far helped to treat over 60,000 cholera victims in
Zimbabwe, including 37,000 children, and is working to raise awareness of
the disease among thousands more. However more resources are needed in the
face of the continuing crisis.

Ms Pounds said: "We urgently need more money so we can do even more
prevention to stop the cholera from spreading. In the face of potential
flooding, everything has to be done to educate families how to stay safe.
There's a huge awareness-raising job still to do, particularly of the
dangers facing young children, and we need to distribute more soap and water
purification tablets before the infection rate can again increase."

To donate to Save the Children's Zimbabwe appeal, please go to or call +44 207 012 6400


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zimbabwe cholera surges as neighbours report rising cases

HARARE (AFP) - Zimbabwe's cholera outbreak had killed more than 2,100 people
on Wednesday, as neighbouring countries sounded the alarm over rising
infections of the treatable, water-borne disease.

Latest figures from the World Health Organisation show that the death toll
in Zimbabwe has now reached 2,106 since August while 1,642 new cases were
added on in a single day. The total number of people infected has surged
past 40,000.

Aid agencies have long warned of the threat of a regional spill-over from
Zimbabwe from where scores of people migrate daily to neighbouring

Northern neighbour Zambia has recorded 28 cholera deaths, government
spokesman Canisius Banda told AFP.

"Since September, we have seen 2,108 cholera patients and we lost 28 of
them," he said.

Still, Zimbabwe's impoverished northern neighbour has sent 404,000 dollars
(307,910 euros) to Harare to support efforts to fight the epidemic there, he

In South Africa, the death toll climbed to 15 on Wednesday, with more than
2,100 cases recorded.

But both Zambia and South Africa distanced themselves from blaming
Zimbabwe's runaway epidemic for their own rising cholera infections.

"What is happening in Zambia has no connection with the Zimbabwe situation.
Cholera in Zambia is from Zambia, and not from Zimbabwe," Banda told AFP.

However at least 10 Zimbabwean cholera patients who crossed into Zambia had
been treated free of charge as "an act of Godliness and a humanitarian
gesture," he added.

South African health spokesman Fidel Hadebe said the country had a long
history of the disease before the latest outbreak in Zimbabwe.

"We are not saying that there is no cholera problem from Zimbabwe," he told
AFP, but adding that Zimbabweans should not stigmatised over cholera.

"Cholera is a disease we have had to cope with in South Africa over the

Cholera regularly breaks out in many African countries that lack basic
sanitation, but regional powerhouse South Africa had not suffered such a
dramatic caseload until the crisis in Zimbabwe.

Many of the cholera cases in South Africa have been Zimbabwean migrants or
others who recently left the country.

The outbreak is the latest disaster to hit Zimbabwe where hyper-inflation,
chronic shortages of food, and collapsed infrastructure and social services
have added to the woes of ordinary people.

Zimbabweans have long been forced to travel to neighbouring countries to
shop for basic goods, while hundreds of thousands more have fled President
Robert Mugabe's rule and worsening conditions at home.

Human Rights Watch last week estimated that some 25,000 to 30,000
Zimbabweans had applied for asylum in South Africa's border town of Musina
during the last five months of 2008.

The desperate humanitarian crisis has come on the back of a political
stand-off between Mugabe and chief rival Morgan Tsvangirai over the share of
powers in a unity government.

Tsvangirai won a first-round presidential vote over Mugabe in March, when
the opposition also seized a majority in parliament for the first time since
Zimbabwe's independence from Britain in 1980.

Tsvangirai pulled out of a run-off in June, accusing Mugabe's government of
orchestrating violence which targeted his supporters.

The two signed a deal to form a unity government in September, but the pact
has stalled despite repeated regional efforts to revive it.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

MDC MP convicted for 'forging signatures on nomination paper'

By Tichaona Sibanda
14 January 2009

The MDC MP for Chimanimani West in Manicaland province, Lynette Karenyi, has
pledged to fight tooth and nail to clear her name over a conviction that she
'forged signatures on her nomination papers.'
The conviction means Karenyi loses her parliamentary seat and most
significantly removes the MDC's simple majority in Parliament. The MDC-T won
100 parliamentary seats during last year's elections with ZANU PF garnering
99, the MDC-M 10 and an independent winning one seat.
However, Pishai Muchauraya the MDC spokesman in Manicaland, said they have
challenged the court judgement and filed an appeal at the High court, which
was accepted. The appeal automatically quashes the conviction and the notion
peddled by the state media that Karenyi ceases to be a member of parliament.
In simple terms, the MDC still enjoys its parliamentary majority, until the
case is heard at the High court.
Speaking publicly for the first time since her conviction on Monday, the 33
year-old legislator vigorously denied any wrong doing and maintained the
procedure in her case was full of legal irregularities.
Mutare magistrate Billard Musakwa, described by Karenyi as a ZANU PF zealot,
convicted the MP of contravening a part of the electoral law which deals
with nominations for election candidates. The legislator is alleged to have
forged the signatures of four of her nominees, from a list of 20.  She was
sentenced to 20 days in custody suspended on condition of her payment of a
Z$20 billion fine.
Karenyi insists there are 'mountains' of evidence that state security agents
helped plan and direct the course of the investigation. She says the
accusations rely heavily on testimonies gathered under duress, which makes
them inadmissible in a court of law.
The first hint of trouble began when members of the feared CIO started
visiting Karenyi's nominees door-to-door, in a bid to frighten them to lay
charges of forgery against the MP. This happened just two days after she
filed her nomination papers last year. How the state agents got hold of her
nomination paper from the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) in Mutare
remains a mystery.
'I duly filed my nomination paper which was accepted by ZEC in Mutare. That
is a private and confidential document that should never have been used by
anyone outside ZEC. So ZEC broke the law by leaking the documents to ZANU PF
because their agents were able to visit all my 20 nominees, which is
illegal,' Karenyi said.
She added; 'ZEC requires that an aspiring MP must have 10 nominees, but I
had 20 on my papers, meaning I had a bonus of 10 in case the other 10 were
not acceptable. If they had a query with the four, they still could have
reverted to the extra six who were still eligible to stand as my nominees.'
 'I'm still the MP for Chimanimani West until otherwise. I am confident
that, at the end of the day, I will be properly exonerated. And for ZANU PF
to say the MDC has lost its majority in parliament because of the conviction
is pure fallacy. If I were to die or lose the appeal, the MDC will nominate
a candidate from the party to take over as MP. This is what was agreed by
all parties and they know it,' the MP said.
Karenyi believes her rival, the former minister for water development,
Munacho Mutezo, is still a bitter man since she defeated him in the
harmonized elections last year. After the elections Mutezo demanded a
recount, which was done but changed nothing.
When this plot failed, Mutezo filed further charges that Karenyi bribed
polling officers, a charge that was investigated and found to be false. When
all else failed, Mutezo went with the forgery allegations.
'He obviously got help from the prosecutor Malvin Musarurwa, a man who goes
to work wearing a ZANU PF t-shirt under his shirt. The magistrate Billard
Musakwa never misses ZANU PF functions in the province and I wonder to
myself if I've not suffered a miscarriage of justice at the hands of the
state. You also wonder why my bid to get my case heard at the High Court was
blocked by magistrates. This leaves big question marks,' Karenyi said.
As the government continues to subvert any rule of law, Judge President Rita
Makarau has recently made some extraordinary statements. Despite her
criticism of the government last year, where she pointed out the lack of any
justice and the collapsing judiciary in the country, Makarau made a surprise
u-turn Monday during the official opening of the 2009 legal year. She
slammed lawyers who had said the rule of law had completely broken down in
the country. The lawyers had criticized the High Court for it's refusal to
investigate the kidnapping of activist Jestina Mukoko and the other
abductees. The High Court had also refused them medical treatment, despite
clear proof of torture.

The Judge President and members of the High Court bench have all been
beneficiaries over the past year of new Mercedes Benz sedans and four wheel
drive vehicles, along with 42 inch plasma TV sets and other perks. It is
difficult not to see this as mass bribery by Mugabe and ZANU PF.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

MDC Appeals Disqualification of Chimanimani West MP

Wednesday, 14 January 2009 14:42 administrator News

The Morgan Tsvangirai led Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), which has
lost its simple majority in parliament, after a Mutare magistrate
disqualified its Chimanimani West legislator allegedly for forgery, is
appealing the decision.

Mutare magistrate Billiard Musakwa disqualified Lynette Karenyi as Member of
Parliament on the grounds that she forged four signatures of people that
allegedly nominated her to stand in the constituency.

But Tendai Biti, the MDC T secretary general, told RadioVOP that the party
was appealing the decision to disqualify Karenyi, one of the few female
legislators in the current parliament in which the MDC T won 100 seats, ZANU
PF 99 and the MDC M 10.

"I have just read the judgment. We are appealing this decisions which we
think is political motivate," said Biti.

Musakwa, sitting in the eastern city of Mutare on Monday ruled that Karenyi
be disqualified in terms of Section 46 (20) (a) of the Electoral Act.

The section states that: "any person as a candidate or otherwise who forges
any signature purporting to be that of a nominator shall be guilty of an
offence not exceeding level 14 or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding
two years or both such fine and such imprisonment.

"And, in the case of a candidate, shall be disqualified from being nominated
as a candidate, or from election as, a Member of Parliament for a period of
five years from the date of conviction."

Karenyi, who was not immediately available for comment on the matter, had
pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Other MDC T officials alleged that it was part of ZANU PF strategy to weaken
the party, which is refusing to endorse a shaky power-sharing deal brokered
by former South African president Thabo Mbeki last September.  radiovop

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

SADC shielding Mugabe, say international lawyers

by Cuthbert Nzou Thursday 15 January 2009

HARARE - The International Bar Association (IBA) on Wednesday accused
southern African leaders of blocking attempts by the international community
to hold Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's government accountable for
violating human rights.

The IBA, a grouping of leading international legal practitioners, bar
associations and law societies, implored Southern African Development
Community (SADC) leaders to act to ensure that Zimbabwean opposition and
civic activists jailed since last year and allegedly tortured by police were

"SADC has an obligation to act on the crimes of Robert Mugabe's government,"
said IBA executive director Mark Ellis in a statement.

"To date SADC has blocked outside initiatives to hold Mugabe's regime
accountable for its abuses and has been silent while international law is
violated with impunity."

At least 40 activists, including prominent human rights campaigner Jestina
Mukoko are being held by police on charges of plotting to overthrow Mugabe
and his ruling ZANU PF party - charges the opposition MDC party says are
trumped up and part of a fresh crackdown against its members and structures.

The detainees - who included a two-year old toddler who was only released
yesterday - were abducted in November and December from various locations
and held incommunicado for weeks.

"The IBA deplores the inaction of SADC leaders on the unlawful actions of
the Zimbabwean government," IBA's Human Rights Institute co-chair Justice
Richard Goldstone said.

"Regional leaders cannot stand by while these unlawful detentions continue
in Zimbabwe and still ask the rest of the international community to wait on
them to solve the crisis. A key term of the power-sharing deal was that
rights violations would stop."

Mugabe, MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai and the leader of a faction of the
opposition, Arthur Mutambara, signed an agreement last September to share
power in a government of national unity to tackle Zimbabwe's decade-long
political and economic crisis.

However, the pact appears to be unravelling over a dispute between Mugabe
and Tsvangirai over control of key ministerial and other top government
posts and over the composition and powers of a new national security

The abduction and torture of MDC and civic society activists has cast
further doubt on the power-sharing pact with Tsvangirai threatening to
suspend talks with Mugabe over what he says is the persecution of his

"The Mugabe regime is clearly failing to protect the fundamental rights of
the citizens of Zimbabwe. This places a responsibility on other governments,
and especially those of the SADC, to intervene," Goldstone added.

Zimbabwe security minister Didymus Mutasa admitted in court a fortnight ago
that state security agents had seized and detained a scores of opposition
and civic activists on his orders.

While the majority of the activists have appeared in court, 12 remain
unaccounted for and the police will not say whether holding them.

A doctor who examined some of the detainees testified in court that they had
been tortured and needed medical treatment.

A High Court judge ruled that their detention was unlawful and ordered that
they be taken to a hospital for medical treatment, but government lawyers
are challenging his ruling and police have refused to obey the court order.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered the state to ensure Mukoko received
urgent medical attention but Zimbabwe's highest court declined to rule on an
appeal by the human rights campaigner's lawyers challenging the
constitutionality of her continued detention.

The Supreme Court said Mukoko's application was unprocedural because it had
not been referred to the court by a magistrate. A magistrate's court will
rule today whether to refer Mukoko's application to the Supreme Court.

However Attorney General Johannes Tomana was quoted by state media on
Wednesday as saying the human rights defender will not be released from jail
anytime soon because she was "a security threat".

Mutasa yesterday said IBA "must go to hell" and stop interfering with
Zimbabwe's internal affairs.

"Who are they to tell SADC what to do? They must go to hell. SADC
understands what is happening in the country better than them," he said.

IBA, in partnership with the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa,
created the Southern Africa Litigation Centre, based in Johannesburg, South
Africa, to promote human rights and the Rule of Law in Angola, Botswana, the
Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia,
Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe. - ZimOnline

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

S Africa still backs Zimbabwe power-sharing deal: foreign ministry


South Africa still believes Zimbabwe's unity accord can pull the country
from crisis, despite a four-month stalemate in implementing the deal, a top
foreign ministry official said Wednesday.

Ayande Ntsaluba, director general of the foreign ministry, told reporters
that a unity government was the only way for President Robert Mugabe and
opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai to settle their differences.

"Every possible analysis that we make as the South African government
clearly shows us that we cannot see any route thathas immediate prospects of
success that bypasses the stage of some variant of an inclusive government
in Zimbabwe," Ntsaluba said.

"We continue to hold the view that whatever the levels of discomfort among
the various parties, every otherconceivable option is an option that would
lead Zimbabwe down a more dangerous path," he said.

"Our continuous focus and our continuous hope is that the leaders of
Zimbabwe will find a way around the difficulties they continue to have on

Mugabe and Tsvangirai signed a power-sharing deal four months ago, after
disputed elections last year, but the deal has hit the rocks over disputes
about who will control the most powerful ministries.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Amnesty International - African leadership's inaction is prolonging human rights crisis in Zimbabwe

Posted: 14 January 2009

Amnesty International harshly criticised the African Union's (AU) lack of action on Zimbabwe, as detained Zimbabwean human rights activist Jestina Mukoko appeared in a court in Harare today after having been tortured. 
Amnesty International's Deputy Africa Programme Director, Veronique Aubert, said:
'Ongoing arrests of human rights and political activists appear to be part of a wider strategy to silence critics of the government, and the AU needs to make a strong statement that this is unacceptable to African leadership. '
Amnesty International called on the Zimbabwean authorities to immediately and unconditionally release prisoners of conscience Jestina Mukoko, Broderick Takawira and Pascal Gonzo, and to initiate a prompt, independent and effective investigation into their arbitrary arrest, unlawful detention and claims they were tortured by members of the security forces.
The three members of the Zimbabwe Peace Project have spent more than a month in custody since their abduction in early December. 
Veronique Aubert said:
'We are concerned about the role being played by various authorities, including the office of the Attorney General, to protect the alleged abductors from being identified and held accountable for the abduction and reported torture of the detainees.'
Amnesty International also called for the dozens of Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) activists who have been held in custody since the end of October 2008 to either be charged and promptly tried in a fair trial or be released immediately. Lawyers of the detainees have repeatedly been denied access to their clients. 
Veronique Aubert continued:
'African leaders have squandered numerous opportunities to end the persecution of government critics in Zimbabwe.
'They continue to be deaf to cries for help and have chosen to be unmoved by ongoing evidence of human suffering in the country - including the appearance in court today of one of the country's strongest voices for human rights.'
'The silence of African leaders and their failure to condemn the government's blatant disregard for human rights has significantly contributed to the prolonging the Zimbabwean human rights crisis.'
In the run up to the AU summit, scheduled to take place later this month in Addis Ababa, Amnesty International called for the AU and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to publicly denounce the persecution of government critics by Zimbabwe's state security agents. 
The organisation also called on the AU to deploy human rights monitors in Zimbabwe to investigate all allegations of human rights abuses.
Veronique Aubert said:
'The Zimbabwean authorities are clearly committing grave human rights violations in an attempt to silence critics and political opponents. The AU should immediately call for an end to human rights violations by the security forces and decide to deploy human rights monitors.
'Such a measure will go a long way towards preventing further human rights violations and investigatingst abuses.'
Notes to editors:
At least 27 people are believed to be in custody following a wave of abductions that started at the end of October 2008. Most of the detainees have been denied access to their lawyers, family and medical treatment for prolonged periods. Zimbabwean authorities have repeatedly failed to comply with court orders to release the detainees and initially denied having taken the detainees.
Jestina Mukoko is the director of the Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) a leading human rights organisation responsible for monitoring and documenting human rights violations in Zimbabwe. She was abducted by state security agents from her home early on 3 December 2008. Her whereabouts were unknown until 23 December.
Ms Mukoko was held and interrogated at various unidentified detention facilities following her abduction. Every time she was moved from one facility to another she was blindfolded. Throughout her detention she was in solitary confinement.
During interrogations she was forced to place her feet on the table and was beaten on the soles of her feet with a rubber object. On one occasion, the interrogators spread gravel on the floor, on which she was forced to kneel while the interrogation continued. Throughout her torture, Ms Mukoko vehemently denied interrogators' allegations that she and others were involved in the recruitment of youths to undergo military training to take up arms against the state.
The interrogators also demanded information about her meeting with the Elders - Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, human rights activist Graca Machel and former US President Jimmy Carter. They accused her of being 'too influential'.
Broderick Takawira and Pascal Gonzo were abducted from the ZPP offices in the suburb of Mt Pleasant in Harare on 8 December. They were abducted by about six men who forced entry into the organisation's premises. 
Others still detained by the Zimbabwean authorities include:
MDC activists, including 14 adults and a two-year-old baby who were abducted late October and early November 2008 in Mashonaland West and Chitungwiza.
Mr Gandhi Mudzingwa, former personal assistant to Morgan Tsvangirai, who was abducted in Harare on 8 December.
Mr Andrison Shadreck Manyere, who was abducted on 13 December in Norton. Mr Manyere is a freelance journalist and a former MDC-T activist.
Other detainees may be held various detention facilities in Harare including police stations.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

International group seeks case against Zimbabwean president, Mugabe, for genocide

A U.S.-based international group on Tuesday called on the UN Security
Council to refer President of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe, to the International
Criminal Court (ICC) for prosecution. The group, the International
Association of Genocide Scholars (ISG), which made the call in a statement
it circulated at the UN headquarters in New York, described Mugabe's
activities in Zimbabwe as "genocide". "Mugabe is now committing genocide by
attrition," the scholars said, adding that this fell under the provision of
the UN Genocide Convention outlawing acts that "deliberately inflict on the
group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction,
in whole or in part". "Mugabe's apparent intention is to destroy his
political and ethnic enemies in Zimbabwe,'' it stated. Founded in 1994, ISG
is an international interdisciplinary scholarly organizatio n that seeks to
further research and teach about the nature, causes and consequences of
genocide and to advance studies on how to prevent it. A cholera epidemic has
claimed as many as 2,000 lives since August. (Wednesday 14 January - 11:44)

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

MDC MP arrested by police in Chiredzi

By Tichaona Sibanda
14 January 2009

Arrests and threats against the MDC continue and the latest case is the
arrest of the MDC MP for Chipinge South in Manicaland province, Meke
Makuyana. He was picked up by the police on Wednesday from his Chiredzi home
by several officers from the Law and Order section based in Chipinge and

The MDC MP for Makoni South, Pishai Muchauraya, said Makuyana informed then
of his predicament just after he was taken into custody.

'He informed us that he had been arrested and that he was being taken to
either Chisumbanje or Chipinge for questioning. Why he was arrested he doesn't
know,' Muchauraya said.

Makuyana defeated the notorious former MP for ZANU PF Enock Porusingazi, a
man whose name is synonymous with terror and violence. At one time during
the campaign period last year Porusingazi and his thugs kidnapped Makuyana
and held him incommunicado for several days and Porusingazi personally
tortured him.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Telone, Zesa Charge In Foreign Currency

HARARE, January 14 2009 - The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe has granted
Telone, Zimbabwe's state run fixed line operator a foreign currency license
with effect from the first of February.

"Please be advised that Telone will be accepting payment in local
currency until January. We have been granted a Foliwars licence by the
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe," Telone said.

Telone said its telephone charges would be set at USd0,10 per unit,
while the rental has been pegged at USd20. The rental is a fixed charge paid
by all subscribers.

Telone which also reeling under severe financial stress also advised
subscribers that they would be accepting cheques on condition that the
subscribers pay Zd10 billion in cash as part payment of their bills.

The country's cellular service providers, Econet Wireless, Telecel and
NetOne led the pack, in switching to the foreign payment regime on 1

Econet Wireless charge USd 30 for a Buddie Access Simpack, sim card
replacement, disabled line connection fee and retired line connection.
Subscribers pay US0,32 per minute for a local call to other network
providers while an Econet to Econet call cost USd0,29. A short text messages
cost USd0,15.

The company has introduced recharge cards in the following
denominations: US$5, USd10, USd 20 and USd 50.

Econet said the decision to charge in foreign currency was prompted by
the need to settle foreign currency obligations and to acquire new

However the fixed line run Telone remains the cheapest form of

Meanwhile the cash-strapped power utility ZESA Holdings has also
started billing in foreign currency embassies, non-governmental
organisations and other institutions that deal in hard currency.

ZESA is reportedly reeling from a severe financial squeeze blamed on
the prevailing harsh economic climate and owes more than USd40 million for
imported power.

Fullard Gwasirai, a spokesman, for the Zimbabwe Electricity and
Transmission and Distribution Company, said the policy to bill in foreign
currency started at the beginning of January 2009.

Gwasirai revealed that the average bill for the foreign currency
paying customers would be US$4,5 cents per unit while domestic customers
would continue to be billed in the local currency.

He said billing in foreign currency would help the troubled power
utility company to be viability as well as improve electricity supply in the
short term through the purchase of critical spares and settle power import

The power company is currently battling to finish refurbishing the
Hwange Power Thermal Station.

For the past few years Zimbabweans have been experiencing frequent
load-shedding or power shortages due to erratic power supplies by ZESA. In
July last year, South Africa's ESKOM, a major exporter of power to Zimbabwe,
stopped supplying ZESA with electricity after the local power utility
stopped making orders presumably due to the crippling shortage of foreign

In a similar development, the country's soccer journalists will now
have to fork out USd10 in cash to receive privilege cards to cover soccer
matches. A senior Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA) manager confirmed
this saying journalists needed a letter from their employer to be
accredited. It was however not clear if the RBZ had sanctioned this.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

War Vets Against Use Of American Dollar

BULAWAYO, January 13 2009 - The Zimbabwe National Liberation War
Veterans Association (ZNLWA) has warned its members not to trade in United
States of America dollars saying the practice undermines the country's
sovereignty which the liberation fighters fought for during the liberation

In a telephone interview with RadioVOP, the association's national
vice chairperson Joseph Chinotimba said his association was strongly against
the use of US dollars in the country, describing those professionals like
teachers who were demanding payments in foreign currency as 'silly '.

"The war veterans are soldiers and they are not silly like Raymond
Majongwe, the president of the Zimbabwe Progressive Teachers Union, who is
advocating for the payment of unrealistic US dollars for teachers. We fought
for this country for among other things, to have our own currency not to use
the currency of our former colonisers ,' said Chinotimba.

Chinotimba, who is popularly known for his "I died for this country"
statement, said his association was aware of the plight of most war veterans
as a result of the prevailing harsh economic hardships. Recently the
government pegged the monthly pensions for war veterans at Zd 20 billion
(less than 1 USD).

The war veterans boss said instead of allowing people to trade in
foregin currency the governmnent should address the current cash shortages.

Meanwhile, Andrew Ndlovu, an executive member of the recently formed
Zimbabwe People's Revolution Army War Veterans Association (ZIPRA) said his
association was focusing on the empowerment of war veterans and was less
concerned about the multiplicity of currencies now in circulation in the
country as a result of the economic crisis.

"A lot of our comrades are struggling to survive because the monthly
pensions they are getting are not only very little but they cannot access
the cash from banks as they are not issued with pay advice-slips, a new
requirement from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe. Under these circumstances, we
are appealing to the governmnent to release all our properties that were
seized in the 1980s so that we can embark on income generating projects,' he

In 1983 government seized properties belonging to the Zimbabwe African
People's Union  PF ZAPU, accusing the organisation of sponsoring banditry in
the Matabeleland and Midlands Provinces. The government has since handed
over few of the properties while the rest are still to be surrendered to
their former owners.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Your money - or your life

Why going to hospital means entering a financial mine field

The Zimbabwean government's apparently far-sighted decision to allow
hospitals and clinics to charge patients in foreign currency has proved,
predictably, to be another disaster. While the hospitals may still be
functioning, thanks to finance from non-government organisations and others,
the prognosis for the average would-be patient remains grim.

It was our old friend Health minister David Parirenyatwa who decided that
patients were to be given the option of paying in foreign currency if they
wished. But, given the choice, the hospitals obviously prefer payment in
good solid US dollars, rather than the Zimbabwe dollar, which shrivels into
meaningless paper in your hand.

The result has been that now to get treatment you need the hard stuff. The
hospitals simply aren't interested in local currency. And this has faced
Steve Banda, a young petrol attendant friend of mine, with severe problems.

Steve is an expectant father. His wife Promise is due at the end of
February. And Steve is currently scurrying around town in a desperate bid to
find enough dollars to pay for her confinement.

He first approached a private clinic in the Avenues, Harare, where Promise
could expect the best and safest treatment. He was asked to produce a
signing-in fee of US$500 - an impossibly large sum for someone like Steve.

He then went to the recently re-opened Parirenyatwa Hospital, which wanted
US$300 in advance. Other charges would include US$70 per additional night in
hospital, US$150 if a caesarian is required, and US$5 per day for the use of
an incubator.

Steve is still hunting the necessary dollars. He has little more than a
month to find them.

Meanwhile the doctors and nurses who still remain in Zimbabwe are now being
paid in very welcome hard currency. But, once again, there's a snag. Isn't
there always?

The government has indicated that it will pay the foreign currency salaries
only into the recipient's Foreign Currency bank account. Our doctors and
nurses have therefore gone to the banks to open such accounts. But to do so,
the banks are demanding an up-front fee of US$200 - an amount which the
average health worker just doesn't have.

The Health Ministry has given staff waiver letters. But these have been
largely ignored by the banks, which of course need hard dollars as much as
anyone else. Result- stalemate. And continued deprivation and suffering.

In international publications and on websites we here in Zimbabwe read that
the rest of the world is struggling in the grip of a financial crisis.
Believe me, foreign readers all, compared to us here in Zimbabwe you haven't
even started.

Posted on Wednesday, 14 January 2009 at 08:22

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

War Vets Loot Goods And Forex

CHIVI, January 14 2009 - Some overzealous war veterans teamed up and
raided shops at Ngundu shopping centre along Masvingo- Beitbridge highway
and other several outlets surrounding Ngundu on Tuesday, getting away with
goods and forex.

Sources said a well known war veteran positively identified by the
people at Ngundu as Enock Shindi and is also a councilor (Zanu PF) of ward
26, was part of the group.

This comes after the War Vets leader in Harare Joseph Chinotimba on
Wednesday criticised the use of United States dollars, saying it undermined
the country's sovereignity.

"They started to raid shops at around 1600 hours.

"The group of well known war veterans and some neighbourhood watch
police, was led by Councilor Shindi. They accused us of illegally selling
our commodities so they took away all the money which we had made for the
day. They took R 630 from me which I had managed to get after selling canned
beer and soft drinks to people going to Beitbridge," said a source.

It is also reported that the war veterans spent the whole day looking
for well known Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) supporters in Chivi who
operate the business. They took the chance to loot some of the basic
commodities such as mealie meal as part of punishing people who were selling
their wares in forex.

"They (war veterans) are targeting MDC sympathizers who are selling in
forex without licences and they are openly telling them that as war
veterans, they need no directive to arrest criminals but if ever they feel
the laws of the nation are threatened, they timely respond. What irked us is
that they were not only taking money but they could take sugar, mealie meal
or cooking oil," said another eye-witness.

The war veterans were seen sharing the looted forex at Ngundu around
1900 hours on Monday and spending it on alcohol.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Lawyers seek injunction to stop UK deporting Zimbabwe activist

By Lance Guma
14 January 2009

Lawyers representing Zimbabwean activist Luka Phiri, who was detained by UK
immigration Monday with a view to deporting him Thursday, were frantically
applying for a judicial review to stop the move. Speaking to Newsreel from
the Colnbrook Immigration Removal Centre Phiri said legal aid for his
judicial review was approved Wednesday and all that was left was for the
lawyers to go ahead and file the papers. He told us he had received
tremendous support from organizations like Amnesty International, the
Zimbabwe Association, the Zimbabwe Vigil and Action for Southern Africa
(ACTSA) among others.

Phiri says he has also been informed that MDC Vice President Thokozani
Khupe, for whom he worked as an aide in Zimbabwe, held consultative meetings
with party officials Wednesday. The meeting apparently looked at possible
contingency plans for his security in the event he is deported.
It is the second time in 3 years that the UK Home Office have sought to
deport Phiri. In 2006 he spent nearly 12 weeks in detention at the Dover
Removal Centre, before he was moved to Campsfield in Oxford. The Zimbabwe
Association pressure group, for which he now works as a volunteer, proved
instrumental in blocking his deportation then.
Phiri, a regular at the Zimbabwe Vigil, Free Zim Youths and MDC
demonstrations in the UK, sought asylum after entering the country on a
Malawian passport in 2003. He says he acquired the Malawian passport to
avoid the tight visa restrictions put in place for Zimbabweans wishing to
travel to the UK. Despite a temporary ban on the deportation of unsuccessful
Zimbabwean asylum seekers, the UK Home Office is using the technicality that
he is a Malawian citizen, based on his passport of entry. Meanwhile the
Malawian High Commission in London has already warned Phiri he will be
prosecuted on arrival for fraudulently obtaining that country's passport.
The Zimbabwean UK community has moved quickly to rally behind Phiri and his
case has been picked up by many influential people in the UK. His MP,
Stephen Timms from the UK Labour Party and another MP from Colnbrook, where
Phiri is being held, have been lobbying on his behalf. Hugh Bayley an MP and
Chair of the Africa All Parliamentary Group is also actively involved, as
are many other MP's, trade unionists and human rights activists who are now
lobbying the UK Immigration Minister to intervene in the case. A court
injunction by Phiri's lawyers stopping the deportation will be a last resort
if all else fails, an immigration lawyer told us.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Lucia Nkomo, "Already we have sold the refrigerator"

Sacrificing to keep children in class
BULAWAYO, 14 January 2009 (IRIN) - Lucia Nkomo is in a panic. The schools her three children attend in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, are demanding a total of US$1,900 in fees for the first term of the school year, which starts at the end of January. This is an enormous amount of money for a couple whose salaries are denominated in the local currency, the virtually worthless Zimbabwean dollar.

The Nkomos are a solid middle-class family: Lucia is employed as a nurse and her husband is a salaries clerk at a newspaper. They expected to educate their children at private schools, but because of hyperinflation their combined income is just US$25 a month when converted into US dollars, which have almost become the country's official currency.

"Since schools closed [for the Christmas holidays] I have been saving some money, which I had hoped would cover the school fees. My expectation was that the fees would be far less than US$200 for each child, but what the schools are now demanding is just too much.

"Last year the schools my daughters attend were demanding fees paid in fuel coupons. Each school was demanding between 100 and 200 litres of petrol a term, and this was quite reasonable at the time. But with the current foreign currency craze the schools are demanding huge amounts.

"Already I am spending sleepless nights on the computer sending e-mails to all my relatives in the diaspora [many Zimbabweans have migrated to neighbouring and overseas countries in search of work] asking for donations to enable me to pay the schools fees, otherwise all three of the children will stop going to school.

"In the last week I have been going through my diary and have been randomly sending messages to friends I last spoke to many years ago, asking for donations of varying amounts.

"My husband has been going through the same process, asking for donations from his relatives and friends in the diaspora. We understand that money does not come easily, especially for those in the diaspora, but we have no choice but to beg.

"Already we have sold the refrigerator, but we only managed to raise US$250. We are still deciding on what else to sell. My husband over the weekends crosses over to Botswana to purchase goods for resale in Zimbabwe, but the profits are not much as we have to pay bribes to the police.

"If it all fails then I will have no choice but to move my children to government schools, even though there are no teachers and study materials at the government schools. I will have no choice but to compromise my children's education." 


[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Maize Seed Diverted To Black Market

MASVINGO, January 14 2009 -  Masvingo District administrator, Felix
Mazvidza is suspected to have diverted 30 tonnes of maize seed meant for
ZANU PF supporters to the black market, although he has denied the

Disgruntled ZANU PF members said Mazvidza, 50, received the
consignment two weeks ago but he did not distribute it to beneficiaries.

"Mazvidza got the seed to distribute in Masvingo rural district, but
he kept holding on to it...saying he still wanted to get the lists of
beneficieries. Now, the seed has disappeared and it is said that it has been
sold on the parallel market," a top ZANU PF member said.

The sources added that poor ZANU PF supporters from the rural areas
thronged the DA's offices on Tuesday demanding their seed and wanted to mete
instatnt justice on the DA, before senior party members restrained them.

However Mazvidza said "As you know, I work closely with ZANU PF
officials, and take intsructions from them. Charumbira is my senior, even
the District Co-ordinating Committee (DCC) chairpersons. They tell me when
and how to distribute the seed, and I will do so."

"I am in Gutu and I am not aware of that. Phone the Masvingo District
Co-ordinating Committee chairman," said provincial chairman, Lovemore

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Workers Set Sugarcane Ablaze

CHIREDZI, January 14 2009 - Hippo Valley Estate's sugarcane cutters,
on strike for two months now, ran riot on Tuesday and set ablaze more than
11 hectares of sugarcane at farm number 51 of Section nine (9).

Masvingo Provincial Police Spokesperson Inspector Phibion Nyambo said
he had received the report but police investigations were still underway.

"I received a report today that at least 11,5 hectares of sugarcane
were burnt by workers. We are suspecting that workers burnt sugarcane as a
way of fixing their employers but police investigations are still underway
to find out the exact reason," said Inspector Nyambo.

Workers are demanding to be paid in form of groceries or foreign
currency which will be above R2000 per month. The employers have told the
workers that according to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe regulations they can
not pay workers in foreign currency. They said  Hippo Valley Estate has no
license to sell its produce in forex.

It has almost become a tradition for workers at Hippo valley and
Mkwasine Estates to burn sugarcane if they want their problems to be quickly

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Laying our hands on the problem

Every day, along the road I live on in Harare, there are groups of people waiting outside houses that have bore holes. They wait, sitting and standing, next to different shapes and sizes of containers. They wait for water. People carry the containers of water on their heads. They roll drums of water down the road. They use shopping trolley’s from the nearby TM Supermarket to push the water home.

In Greendale we haven’t had a consistent supply of municipal water for over two years.

I drove past a sign on Enterprise Road recently. It caught my eye because in big red letters the word BEWARE jumped out at me. The sign advised that most bore hole water in Harare, and the rest of Zimbabwe, isn’t as clean as we need it to be.

So while reading the December issue of The New York Times Magazine recently, a story on a man called Ron Rivera, by writer Sara Corbett, caught my eye. His story is about getting clean water to people.

Have a read.

Early on, Ron Rivera was a left-leaning, power-to-the-people sort of young man, full of vague ideas about social justice and eradicating poverty. Fresh out of college in Puerto Rico, he joined the Peace Corps and spent six years moving between the poorest parts of Ecuador and Panama, engaged in noble but sometimes futile-seeming community-development work. But then, during a stay in Cuernavaca, Mexico, in 1972, he met an older male potter who took him in as an apprentice. And as if by magic, the vagueness and futility dissipated, replaced by possibility. Why? Because Ron Rivera was now a left-leaning, power-to-the-people potter.

Pottery became Rivera’s way of laying his hands on the world’s problems. He moved to Nicaragua during the Contra war and worked to start a program to help injured veterans make ceramic insulators for electrical lines. He later joined the staff of a small organization called Potters for Peace, seeking out indigenous potters across Latin America and helping them refine the way they mixed glazes and built kilns in order to increase their profits and therefore their power.

Working with rural women who made clay piggy banks and sold them to exploitative middle-men, Rivera encouraged them to create something similar but new-ceramic armadillos, say - and then triple the price. When the middlemen grew indignant, demanding to know why this nearly identical type of ware cost more, he counseled the women to respond with a whiff of their own indignation, “Because it is an armadillo and not a pig.”

Then one day in October 1998, Hurricane Mitch hit Central America, flooding roads and triggering mudslides, killing an estimated 11,000 people. At home in Managua, knowing how readily bacterial disease follows on the heels of disaster, Rivera remembered an object he encountered years earlier in Ecuador, a simple terra cotta pot that looked like the sort of thing in which the rest of us-the earth’s less vulnerable-might plant our springtime geraniums. Made of clay mixed with some grist-usually sawdust or ground rice husk that would burn off later in the kiln-and then shaped carefully, this pot had thousands of micropores. And those pores, along with a coating of antibacterial silver solution, allowed it to perform a small but significant miracle: removing 98 to 100 percent of the bacteria from contaminated water, making it safe to drink.

Convinced that he could help indigenous potters mass-produce clay-pot water filters for their own communities if the process for making them could be standardized, Rivera began to experiment, calculating the optimal size and clay composition. He then designed a mold for the filter and a special clay press that was operated with a tire jack, which he figured was one of earth’s more universally available bits of technology. Rather than applying for a patent, Rivera posted his work, in painstaking detail, on the Internet. The filter, which costs roughly $15 to make, rests inside a lidded five-gallon plastic bucket with a spigot. It purifies enough daily water for a family of six.

Collaborating with health organizations and relief groups, Rivera helped native potters build filter factories in Colombia, Honduras and El Salvador. He did it in Kenya, Cambodia, Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Darfur. He often traveled in the wake of water-related disasters-following floods in Ghana or a Tsunami Sri Lanka-capitalizing on the rush of aid money to establish a locally owned enterprise that would sustain itself long after he left.

According to the United Nations, more than five million people die each year from diseases related to unclean drinking water. Most live in developing countries and, overwhelmingly, they are children under the age of 5. Rivera liked to say that he wouldn’t rest until he “put a dent” in the problem, which by his calculation meant setting up 100 water-filter factories, creating enough pottery to provide safe water to at least four million people. His friends nicknamed him “Ron Rapido” for his velocity and vigor and for the impatient way he suffered through meetings.

In August, standing in a village in rural Nigeria, having just finished his 30th filter factory, Rivera expressed a larger impatience. “How is it”, he mused to an engineering student with whom he was traveling, “that scientists can work so hard on improving TVs and cell phones when so many people don’t even have clean water to drink?”

He didn’t yet know that a mosquito, presumably bred in a nearby swamp, would infect him with a particularly virulent form of malaria, nor that he would die-back in Managua, his wife at his side-only two weeks later. But surely he knew by then that solutions, like problems, are capable of crossing borders, of pollinating like seeds on the wind. Since his death, Rivera’s protégés at Potters for Peace have fanned out to continue the work. There are filter factories planned for Bolivia, Rwanda, Somaliland and Mozambique-a global legion of local potters, as Rivera would have it, poised to lay their hands on the problem.

Ron Rivera born 1948, died 2008

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Lawyers for human rights update on abductees

Abductees Daily Update

14 January 2009



Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zimbabwe's Justice system has been perverted


Published: Wednesday 14 January 2009

ZIMBABWE - HARARE - The judiciary is one of the three pillars of the
State.The others are the legislature and the executive.

The doctrine of separation of powers critically entails that each of the
three pillars of the State should be independent from the others in order to
curtail the hazards consequent upon the concentration of powers in any one
arm of the State.

Thus, the doctrine of separation of powers is the primary constitutional
guard against the mutation of the State into a dictatorship; such as the
case presently obtaining in Zimbabwe.

An independent judiciary is the cornerstone of a democratic nation.

A judiciary that is fearless, impartial and independent is the rallying
point for any democratic dispensation.

On the contrary, a judiciary that is biased, lazy, corrupt and inefficient
is the very foundation for the decay of democratic values and the emergence
of tyrany and totalitarianism.

Chapter 8 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe provides for the judicature.

The head of the judiciary in Zimbabwe is the Chief Justice. The judiciary is
a pillar of the State whose primary function is to ensure that the rule of
law is upheld and maintained.

The absence of an independent judiciary would most certainly entail the
supremacy of the law of the jungle; where might is right!

It is beyond debate that the world's most politically stable and
economically vibrant nations are invariably those that have a fearless and
independent judiciary.

Over the past decade or so, the justice delivery system in Zimbawe has taken
a major knock as is proved by the blatant bias and partiality displayed by
our judicial officers; particularly in cases involving issues of human
rights and other politically-sensitive cases.

With very few exceptions, the majority of our judicial officers have shown
open bias in favour of the executive arm of the State in matters that are
politically sensitive.

For example, the case involving Jestina Mukoko and other MDC activists has
clearly proved that some of our judges would fare better as ZANU (PF)
political activists and not as judges!

After the Honourable Justice Omerjee had granted an order for the immediate
release from custody of Jestina Mukoko and others, the learned magistrate at
the Harare Magistates' Court saw it fit and proper to remand those same
people in custody in the absence of written proof that the
Attorney-General's Office had indeed noted an appeal to the Supreme Court
against Justice Omerjee's order.

If this is not a classic example of the bastardisation of the justice
delivery system, then what is it? As if this was not enough, you have
another High Court judge ordering that the Police have no case to answer in
the manner in which Jestina Mukoko and her collegues were abducted from
their homes by unknown State operatives; kept in unlawful custody for more
than three weeks and then somehow finding themselves in Police custody
before being brought to court to answer to some ridiculous trumped-up

With the greatest of respect to some of these judges, such conduct on their
part clearly shows that they have abrogated their primary constitutional
mandate of protecting citizens against arbitrary arrest and unlawful
detention by the State.

These judges make a mockery of the rule of law and they, infact, act as
willing agents and tools in the subjugation of ordinary citizens' basic and
fundamental human rights such as the right to liberty and also the right not
to be subjected to inhuman and degrading punishment; even before a person
has been convicted by a competent court of law.

The judiciary is there to maintain and uphold the dispensation of justice
and the rule of law without fear and favour. The judiciary should be the
main champion of justice and fairness.

Thus, if some High Court judges and magistrates actively and unashamedly aid
and abett the nefarious and unlawful actions of the executive arm of the
State, then we have a really serious problem on our hands. This is the
tragedy of the justice delivery system in Zimbabwe.

We have a Police force that is generally corrupt and severely politically
compromised coupled with some very '' compliant '' judges and magistrates
who will go out of their way to ensure that the rule of law is bastardised
and that people who are perceived not to be politically '' correct '' are
subjected to unlawful detention and cruel,degrading and unlawful treatment
whilst in illegal custody.

The judiciary should be the ultimate authority for the enforcement and
observance of human rights and the rule of law. Because Zimbabwe's judiciary
is generally no longer fair,impartial and independent, we are experiencing a
near total breakdown of law and order. In Zimbabwe today, might is right.

You have State operatives who can come to your house in the small hours of
the night,kidnap you and beat the hell out of you....walking the streets as
free men today! These people are a law unto themselves.

They know that as long as the Mugabe dictatorship remains intact,they remain
untouchable.But surely,the day of reckoning is nigh!

Judicial officers should shun corruption. A corrupt judiciary is extremely
dangerous for it can be abused and manipulated by powerful and influential
people including the politically well-connected and also the rich and

It was alarming to hear that the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe recently ''
donated '' some trinkets to judges of the High Court. These trinkets
included luxury SUV motor vehicles,generators,plasma and LCD television sets

Back to the Top
Back to Index