Immediately Disclose Whereabouts of 11 Others Who Were 'Disappeared'
January 15, 2009
(Johannesburg) - The Zimbabwe authorities should immediately free 32
opposition party members and rights activists unlawfully detained and
disclose the whereabouts of 11 others, Human Rights Watch said today. Many
among those whose status has been revealed by the government have reported
being tortured in detention.
From October through December 2008, state security forces throughout
Zimbabwe arbitrarily arrested 43 members of the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) and human rights activists, including the prominent
activist Jestina Mukoko.
"Zimbabwe authorities are putting lives at risk by secretly detaining MDC
members and rights activists," said Georgette Gagnon, Africa director at
Human Rights Watch. "Those unlawfully held should be freed immediately."
The police initially denied holding the activists, but on December 22 their
lawyers were tipped off that 32 of them were being held in various police
stations in the capital, Harare. The activists had been unlawfully held by
security forces for periods ranging from two weeks to eight in secret
detention centers. None had been brought before a court within 48 hours, as
required by law.
Zimbabwe authorities have accused the activists of various acts of banditry
and of trying to recruit individuals for training in banditry and
insurgency. However, the authorities have formally charged only seven
The detained activists told their lawyers that during their secret
detention, state security agents had subjected them to beatings and other
torture. They were forced to make false confessions to acts of sabotage,
banditry and terrorism and to recruiting others to do the same. For example,
Mukoko told her lawyers that, during her 19-day secret detention, Central
Intelligence Organization agents and police officers repeatedly beat the
soles of her feet with rubber truncheons, forced her to kneel on gravel for
hours under interrogation and threatened her with death. Mukoko also said
that she was forced to make videotaped statements falsely indicating that
she had been recruiting people to overthrow the government.
"The continuing detention of the 32 MDC members and rights activists appears
to be a clumsy pretext to clamp down on government critics," said Gagnon.
"The credible reports of duress and torture to obtain 'confessions' raise
grave doubts that any trials of these detainees could be fair. No court
should admit evidence extracted by torture."
Lawyers for the detainees told Human Rights Watch that they have not been
able to communicate and consult confidentially with their clients as police
and prison officials insist on being present during all interviews. The
detainees have also been denied access to medical treatment despite a High
Court order directing that they should have access to medical examination
and treatment and to doctors of their choice. Lawyers also report that there
have been numerous and inexplicable delays in hearing the cases of the
detainees in court.
The authorities are also refusing to disclose the whereabouts of 11 other
MDC members. On December 31, Acting Minister of State for National Security
Didymus Mutasa submitted an affidavit in court proceedings stating that
state security agents had taken the men into custody.
Human Rights Watch called on the Zimbabwe authorities to disclose their
whereabouts immediately and to free all arbitrarily detained persons. The
authorities should ensure that those in custody have full access to their
lawyers and are able to communicate confidentially with them. Further, the
authorities should ensure that all those in custody who require medical
examination and treatment are able to get this assistance without hindrance.
"Zimbabwe authorities admit to abducting the 11 political activists and yet
continue to profess ignorance as to their whereabouts," said Gagnon. "Those
responsible are committing a crime, and they should produce the men
These arbitrary arrests and enforced disappearances began on October 29,
when 15 MDC members - including a woman and her 2-year-old child - were
abducted from their homes in Banket, Mashonaland West. The whereabouts of 11
members of this group remain undisclosed, effectively making them
On December 3, Jestina Mukoko, a leading human rights activist and director
of the Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP), was taken from her home in Norton at
around 5 a.m. by at least 15 men who identified themselves as working for
the Law and Order section of the Zimbabwe Republic Police Force. Zachariah
Nkomo, the brother of Harrison Nkomo, a human rights lawyer working for
Mukoko's release, was abducted at his home in Rujeko, Masvingo province,
around midnight on December 5 by four unidentified men in civilian clothes.
On December 8, two colleagues of Mukoko, Pascal Gonzo, a ZPP driver and
Broderick Takawira, ZPP's provincial coordinator, were abducted by five
unidentified men who forcibly entered the ZPP premises in Mount Pleasant,
Harare. Another MDC activist, Ghandi Mudzingwa, was abducted by unidentified
men in Harare on the same day.
The other 24 people were all MDC activists detained in various locations
since December 8, 2008.
January 14, 2009
By Raymond Maingire
HARARE - Zimbabwe's newly appointed Attorney General, Johannes Tomana, says
he will proceed with the prosecution of all commercial farmers who have
acted in breach of government's order to vacate gazetted land.
This is in spite of a November 2008 ruling by the SADC Tribunal barring
government from continuing with its eviction of the farmers in question.
In passing the judgement, the President of the tribunal, Judge Mondale said
the Zimbabwe government had violated the treaty governing the 15-nation
regional block by compulsorily acquiring their land.
Justice Mondale ordered government to take all measures to protect the
possession and ownership of the 75 farmers still on their land.
But in a letter written to lawyers representing the farmers, Tomana, an
ardent supporter of President Robert Mugabe, is adamant that he will go
ahead with the prosecutions.
"We wish to advise that the policy position taken by the government pursuant
to the judgement handed down by the SADC tribunal on the 28th of November,
2008, is that of prosecutions of defaulting farmers under the provisions of
the Gazetted Lands (Consequential Provisions) Act, and should now be
resumed," Tomana said in a letter to Gollop and Blank law firm, dated
December 18, 2008.
This is despite the assurance by Prince Machaya, the Deputy Attorney General
(Civil Division) who represented the Zimbabwean government during the high
profile case that the State would abide by the Tribunal's ruling.
Commenting on the ruling, the Minister of State for National Security,
Lands, Land Reform and Resettlement in the President's Office, Didymus
Mutasa said government would continue to appropriate more land from the
"There is nothing special about the 75 farmers and we will take more farms,"
said Mutasa. "It's not discrimination against the farmers, but it's
correcting land imbalances."
President Mugabe also described the ruling as "an exercise in futility",
saying it was in contrast with the Zimbabwean Constitution that empowers
government to seize gazetted land for redistribution.
Following these statements, Gollop and Blank, the main legal firm that won
the Windhoek ruling, wrote to the Attorney General requesting to know if the
statements by Mugabe and Mutasa constituted government's position.
Six commercial farmers have since been called before the courts for
prosecution under the Gazetted Lands (Consequential Provisions) Act.
This is despite being among the interveners who benefited from the SADC
Commercial Farmers Union director, Hendrik Olivier said his organization was
disappointed by the Attorney General's position.
"This is serious if it comes from the Attorney General who is saying they
are still going to haul farmers to the courts.
"I just hope some sanity prevails in the situation we are in right now. Our
country is in a desperate stage. The economy is collapsing.
"There is a serious food shortage in our country. The few remaining farmers
have committed themselves and have done everything that is required of
Olivier said they had complied with the law through applying for land to the
responsible ministry but they were still being prosecuted.
"What crimes have they committed? To produce food for this nation?" he said.
Government last month made a dramatic policy u-turn by declaring it would
put to a stop, its chaotic eight year seizure of white owned farmland which
has seen more than 6 000 white farmers evicted from their land while
destroying agriculture, Zimbabwe's main source of foreign currency.
Government agreed to allow 341 white farmers to continue farming throughout
the country and was drafting their land offer letters and lease agreements
to give them security of tenure.
Government said it would further spare some 278 farms covering over 522 000
hectares which are protected under Bilateral Investment Protection
Agreements (BIPAs) with Austria, Belgium, the United States, France,
Germany, Italy, Denmark, the Netherlands, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland,
Mauritius and Indonesia.
But it has emerged that the government has broken the pledge by targeting
the protected land.
15 January 2009
Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe has been promised a massive financial
rescue package by 'friendly countries', among them Russia and India, and is
now confident to forge ahead and form a new government excluding the
opposition, top government officials said.
The government has already struck a deal with Indian investors to pour
billions into the diamond sector while Mugabe is expected to visit Russia on
January 17th to negotiate an economic rescue package underwritten by diamond
rights, inthenews.co.uk was told.
A government delegation that visited India last month managed to strike a
deal with New Delhi's investors to pour billions into the country, mainly in
the diamond-cutting and processing business.
"Indian investors are expected in country anytime to chart away forward on
joint venture projects with the government in the diamond sector and others.
A government delegation was in that country last month," industry and trade
minister Obert Mpofu confirmed.
As a result, presidential spokesperson George Charamba noted that the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), which he said was banking
on an anticipated collapse of the economy, "will get a rude awakening when
the rescue financial package arrives".
"Zanu-PF [Mugabe's party] is confident and the president will forge ahead
and form a new government.
"The tables are turning and it won't be long before we get a massive
economic package from friendly countries to revitalise the economy.
"If the MDC believed they could bank on a decaying economy, the carpet will
soon be swept from under their feet as an economic package to revive the
economy is on the way."
Zimbabwe has rich diamond reserves in the Chiadzwa, Mutare in Manicaland,
about 260km from Harare. In November the government launched a military
style operation to flush out illegal diamond dealers, in preparation for the
Indian and Russian investors.
The army-led operation turned Chiadzwa into a war zone as soldiers, aided by
helicopter gunships, cracked down on the illegal diamond dealers, leaving
almost 200 dead.
Diamonds were discovered in the area in 2006 and, according to the central
bank, the country is losing almost $200 million a month through illegal
Mr Charamba said Mugabe would visit Russia to negotiate a financial package
that sources put at over $10 billion (£6.84 billion) to lift the comatose
"The package is a way of bursting the demonic western sanctions," he said.
"The way forward is that come February, the new government will be formed
with or without the MDC. The country now cannot be held hostage by the MDC."
Zimbabwe has had no government since June despite a power-sharing agreement
signed between Mugabe's Zanu-PF and the MDC led by Morgan Tsvangirai.
Mr Tsvangirai has refused to join a unity government with Mugabe in protest
over the latter's refusal to share executive powers and key cabinet
portfolios with the opposition.
Analysts say the unity government is the first key step to lift Zimbabwe out
of its current economic crisis. It has had no access to foreign currency
from the west and international finance institutions like the International
Monetary Fund (IMF) since lines of credit to the country were cut because of
© Adfero Ltd
By Lebo Nkatazo
Posted to the web: 15/01/2009 00:36:41
ZIMBABWEAN prosecutors have charged two officials of Zimbabwe's opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) over death threats issued against
police officers investigating an alleged assassination attempt on Air
Marshal Perence Shiri, the commander of the Airforce of Zimbabwe.
Dumiso Wakatama, the opposition mayor in the town of Bindura and Tongai
Jack, described as a senior MDC security officer, were brought before a
Bindura magistrate on Wednesday charged with making death threats against
the Officer in Charge of Bindura Central Police Station and two other
detectives. Prosecutors say the threats were left on the investigators'
The men's lawyer Aleck Muchadehama said prosecutors had no case, and applied
for them to be freed without charge.
A magistrate remanded the two men in custody to January 26 on $50 billion
bail each pending trial after ruling that there was a prima facie case
Shiri was reportedly shot in the hand after he was ambushed by gunmen while
driving to his farm. No arrests have been made.
Prosecutors say Wakatama, Jack and another man sought by police, Shakespeare
Kamutoro, made several calls between December 10 last year and January this
year to the detectives, using threatening language. Prosecutors say the men
wanted police to drop their investigation.
Links for signing the petition appear below
January 15, 2009 03:35pm
TV personality Andrew Urban is urging the man-on-the-street to back a
worldwide online petition set up to oust Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe.
He launched the website petition today, arguing there was "no central
focus'' for people to vent their frustrations with the ongoing crisis in the
southern African nation.
Mr Urban, who fronts a movie review show on Foxtel's World Movies channel,
says he aims to present at least one million signatures to the African
Union's Peace and Security Commission.
"I wanted to try and do something in the obvious absence of anyone doing
anything,'' he said.
"I felt that a man-on-the-street movement, which had a very specific target,
would really be the only way I could think of to try and effect some change
in Zimbabwe which is a crisis dangling - even forgotten - in the current
dispute in Gaza.
"People are very concerned, but there's no central focus and I hope this
will provide an outlet for all those people who want to try and do
something,'' he added.
President Mugabe, who has headed Zimbabwe as a virtual dictator since 1987,
has provoked widespread domestic and global condemnation for his harassment
of political opponents, disastrous economic policies and the massive
internal displacement and emigration of his people.
Once the bread basket of Africa, Zimbabwe's population now mostly lives in
poverty, with a current cholera outbreak having killed more than 2100
Mr Urban said he felt frustrated at the inaction of world leaders and
international organisations, which were impeded by diplomacy.
"Not having any affiliations, I felt free of those constraints,'' he said.
He has no idea how much support the petition will receive, but hopes to gain
a million signature before he delivers the petition.
"We need people aware of it around the world so it becomes a force,'' he
"I hope that everyone in my network will tell everyone in their networks
then this can grow quite exponentially. It's 10 seconds and you can make a
You can sign the petition at
It is addressed to the Chairperson of the Peace and Security Commission of
the African Union and aims at having Mugabe removed peacefully.
There is background information on this at http://www.mugabegone.com/
January 14, 2009
The late Prof Walter Kamba.
By Our Correspondent
HARARE - Zimbabwe's most experienced Supreme Court judge, Justice Wilson
Sandura on Wednesday night became the first person to receive the just
inaugurated Professor Walter Joseph Kamba - Rule of Law Award.
Sandura immediately pledged amid applause to "truly serve Zimbabwe as a
judge without fear or favour".
The prestigious award was launched to pay tribute to the late Prof Kamba, a
law professor of note, a brilliant scholar and one of the most professional
and dedicated educationists in Zimbabwe. He was the driving force behind the
expansion and transformation of the University of Rhodesia into the
University of Zimbabwe (UZ) of the post-independence era.
His unparalleled legal expertise and enormous organizational skills helped
to transform the UZ from a relatively small colonial university into a vast
institution providing better opportunities to Zimbabwe's knowledge-hungry
Kamba died on May 18, 2008 after a long battle with diabetes. He was 75.
The Prof Walter Joseph Kamba - Rule of Law award, the brainchild of the Law
Society of Zimbabwe, was bestowed on Justice Sandura at a prestigious
function attended by leading figures in the legal profession in Zimbabwe.
Speaker after speaker lavished praise on Justice Sandura for standing firm
in support of liberty and justice in the face of oppression. Lawyers said it
was a mark of distinction for exemplary, honest and creative fulfillment of
duty in the development of the judiciary, strengthening of democracy and the
rule of law in Zimbabwe.
"I am thrilled that this inugural award goes to someone that Walter and
myself would have totally agreed was a deserving recipient of this inaugural
award," Angeline Kamba, the eloquent widow of the late Professor Kamba said.
Mrs Kamba said Justice Sandura was someone who took his obligations to
uphold the rule of law very seriously.
Law Society of Zimbabwe president, Beatrice Mtetwa said it was unanimously
agreed by counsellors that Sandura was the embodiment of all that Prof Kamba
"He is absolutely committed to the rule of law and the independence of the
judiciary," Mtetwa said. "He has been a lone voice. He stands for everything
we believe in. He was the best suited to receive this award."
Sandura, who has served on the High Court and Supreme Court benches for a
total of 26 years is Zimbabwe's most experienced judge. He has been
sidelined in promotions mainly because of his professional independence,
breaking ranks with other judges and handing down dissenting judgements that
have been frowned on by the authorities.
Justice Sandura was sidelined after President Mugabe overhauled the
judiciary in 2000, appointing his associates to key positions in the
There was an outcry when Mugabe appointed Godfrey Chidyausiku as Chief
Justice ahead of Sandura. Ironically, as High Court judge, Chidyausiku had,
in comparison to other judges, handed down the highest number of judgments
that were overturned by the Supreme Court for their defectiveness.
Receiving his medal of honour from Harare Mayor Muchadei Masunda, himself a
lawyer by profession, Sandura paid tribute to Prof Kamba, describing him as
a distinguished character, a leading lawyer, an educationist, an
intellectual and a man with a good sense of honour.
"I have discharged my duties in accordance with judicial laws I pledged to
uphold 26 years ago to well and truly serve Zimbabwe as a judge without fear
or favour. That's what I have done for the past 26 years and that's what I
intend to continue to do until I retire," Justice Sandura said to a standing
"I extend my gratitude to the Law Society of Zimbabwe for honouring me in
this fashion. I say thank you very much. God bless you."
Lawyers said Sandura's contribution to the rule of law was inestimable.
Masunda said there was still a long road ahead as the people fight to turn
the wheels of history toward constitutional order in Zimbabwe.
"The rule of law has been in the intensive care," said Masunda. "Cases of
human rights abuses have reached endemic proportions."
Another lawyer, speaking on the sidelines of the awards ceremony said: "The
struggle now is about separation of power, the role of the judiciary, rule
of law and ridding the judiciary of enslavement to the executive."
He said Sandura has shown courage in defending the rule of law far back as
the 80s. He became a household name as the chairman of the Sandura
Commission which was appointed to probe top level corruption in government
at the height of the Willowgate Scandal.
The scandal, which rocked Zimbabwe's political establishment, involved the
corrupt purchase and resale at substantial profit of new vehicles by top
government officials, and was investigated and exposed by Bulawayo's daily
newspaper, The Chronicle. The then editor of the Chronicle, Geoffrey
Nyarota, and his deputy Davison Maruziva were both immediately removed from
their positions on the government paper. Nyarota is now the managing editor
of The Zimbabwe Times, while Maruziva is editor of the Zimbabwe Standard.
Sandura headed the team appointed by President Robert Mugabe - Zimbabwe's
first judicial commission of inquiry - to probe the allegations of
corruption among ministers and other top government officials who were
fingered by The Chronicle.
When the Sandura Commission, named for its chairman, completed its own
hearings, five senior government ministers and a provincial governor, were
forced to resign. They included two of Mugabe's three most senior
One of them, Maurice Nyagumbo, immediately committed suicide. The other, his
close friend, Enos Nkala, who was minister of defense, was defiant to the
end. Before the appointment of the commission he had appeared on state
television and threatened the Chronicle editors with dire consequences,
including arrest, if they dared to publish the story.
One of Sandura's recommendations was that Zanu-PF's trading company ZIDCO
should be investigated for corruption. Sandura's call went unheeded until 15
years later, when Zanu-PF commissioned an internal investigation of
widespread corruption within its business empire.
No sooner had the probe started than three ZIDCO directors, brothers Jayant
Chunilal and Maniharlal Chunibal Joshi, as well as, Dipak Pandya, fled to
the United Kingdom, never to return.
Sandura has on several occasions handed down dissenting judgements in cases
where the rule of law clearly had been subverted.
In 2002 Sandura distanced himself from Chidyausiku over the issue of
compulsory accreditation and punishment of journalists under the Access to
Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA).
In a powerful dissenting judgement which followed Chidyausiku's ruling that
it was constitutional for journalists to be forced to accredit with the
Media and Information Commission (MIC), Sandura said compelling journalists
to register was clearly ultra vires the Constitution. He said mandatory
accreditation was unconstitutional because it violated Section 20 of the
Constitution of Zimbabwe.
In 2005 Justice Sandura broke ranks with four other judges in a high-profile
case involving misconduct by another judge. He said President Robert Mugabe
had erred when he used his power to select members of a tribunal set up to
probe alleged misconduct by High Court judge Benjamin Paradza.
Sandura has on numerous occasions handed down dissenting judgements, in
almost all instances remaining the lone voice on a bench that has been
stuffed with presidential appointments.
Wednesday, 14 January 2009
Although Zimbabwe appears to be out of the world's spotlight now with
the current crisis in Gaza, Zimbabwe's cholera epidemic is gathering speed,
with a total of 1,732 deaths out of 34,306 cases. These figures were given
by the World Health Organisation (WHO) last week.
The United Nations and SDAC have dispatched health experts to Zimbabwe
to help its government deal with the outbreak but it is not just the cholera
that the country needs to worry about.
With the ever-increasing deterioration in the public service sector in
the country resulting in the vast piles of trash and sewage building up in
the cities, the next thing to fear, experts say, is Bubonic Plague.
Cases of the Plague have been reported in Zimbabwe in the past, and a
visit to the city alleys in Bulawayo is testament to the perfect breeding
grounds for plague-carrying rodents.
For many months the Municipalities in Zimbabwe have simply been unable
to cope with the removal of rubbish. Great piles of trash, rotting
vegetables, putrid entrails, piles of waste paper, have been seen growing in
alleys and sanitary lanes.
Bulawayo residents are forced to either burn their own garbage, or to
take it to the landfill sites, where hundreds of starving beggars dig
frantically for scraps in the piles of stench and detritis.
On the Khami Road in Bulawayo is a municipal facility where trash can
be dumped. Here, on bricks, without tyres and without engine parts, lies
the majority of the city's dump trucks. The city is in such economic ruin,
that even the most essential services are unable to be completed.
Our correspondent went on a tour of alleys and back views from high
rise buildings and came up with these pictures - the perfect habitat and
ideal breeding grounds for thousands of rodents.
Pest control companies are doing roaring sales in pesticides for rats
and mice and say that there could be another serious health problem in
Zimbabwe apart from the Cholera epidemic and the anthrax scare.
By Blessing Zulu & Jonga Kandemiiri
14 January 2009
Zimbabwean human rights activists and lawyers expressed dismay Wednesday at
comments by Attorney General Johannes Tomana published in the state-run
Herald newspaper this week saying rights activist Jestina Mukoko, abducted
in December by state agents and now held on charges she plotted rebellion,
is a threat to national security and must stay in jail.
Prominent members of the democratic opposition said however that they were
not surprised by Tomana's comments, noting he is a political appointee with
clear loyalties to the ZANU-PF party of President Robert Mugabe.
Political analyst and rights advocate Pedzisayi Ruhanya called the comments
unfortunate in an interview with reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7
Elsewhere, authorities have released a two-year-old child who was jailed
with his parents for 76 days. The Tsvangirai formation of the opposition
Movement for Democratic Chagne said Nigel Mutemagawo spent more than two
months in custody despite a ruling from the high court that he and his
parents should be released.
The MDC said the child was physically assaulted and denied food and medical
attention while in jail. His parents, Collen Mutemagawo and Violet
Mupfuranhehwe, were still held on what the MDC called trumped-up charges of
training and recruiting bandits or insurgents.
MDC Information Officer Luke Tamborinyoka told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri
that the party has made arrangements for the welfare of the child while his
parents are in custody.
Meanwhile, a Tsvangirai MDC activist who was abducted by state security
agents around the same time as Mukoko but later escaped said he was tortured
and sexually abused by alleged Central Intelligence Organization agents
trying to force him to confess to coup-plotting.
Bothwell Pasipamire, a member of the city council of Kadoma, Mashonaland
West, said he was held at a torture base along with Mukoko near Goromonzi,
Mashonaland East province.
He said 23 soldiers were also being held there and tortured - apparently
some of those who rioted in Harare just before Christmas over their
inability to withdraw cash from banks.
Pasipamire, who later escaped to South Africa, told reporter Blessing Zulu
of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that his experiences in extra-legal detention
By Patience Rusere & Fazila Mahomed
14 January 2009
The town of Binga, Matabeleland North province, is the latest hot spot in
the cholera epidemic that has claimed more than 2,100 lives and shows little
sign of being mastered despite the influx of international medical relief
since December, sources said Wednesday.
The latest statistical update on the epidemic by the World Health
Organization indicated that Binga had the largest number of new cases at 200
on the Tuesday reporting date, followed by Harare, the capital, with 126,
and Gokwe North, Midlands, with 94.
Total fatalities climbed to 2,106, according to the WHO report. The
cumulative deat rate was stubbornly high at 5.2% compared with a 1% rate
considered the norm internationally.
Harare Deputy Mayor Emmanuel Chiroto told reporter Patience Rusere of VOA's
Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the high number of new cases in the capital was
attributable to a continued shortage of safe drinking water in the
high-density suburb or township of Budiriro, which was an epicenter of the
epidemic in late November and early December.
Chiroto also reported a new outbreak of cholera in in the suburb of Mount
Hampden that was spreading to Dzivarasekwa and Kuwadzana, also Harare
Meanwhile, animal protection groups and pet owners were voicing concern
about the number of dogs, cats and other animals foraging in garbage heaps
and walking in raw sewage.
Some have been infected with diseases and animal control officials are
concerned this may spread cholera further, as Fazila Mahomed reported from
Moses Mudzwiti, additional reporting by Sapa
Published:Jan 15, 2009
ZIMBABWE Peace Project director Jestina Mukoko is being held in solitary
confinement in Harare's Chikurubi maximum security prison.
a.. Mukoko and several other members of the main opposition MDC are accused
of recruiting people for an armed insurgency to topple President Robert
Prison sources said this week that Mukoko was being held in a section
reserved for hardcore criminals.
"We have a women's section, but she has been placed in the tougher section
that normally houses men," said a warder.
Mukoko, who has asked the Supreme Court to release her from "unlawful
detention", is said to be depressed.
The Zimbabwean attorney-general, Johannes Tomana, said earlier this week
that Mukoko was a threat to Zimbabwe and her continued detention was
Tomana said the evidence against her persuaded him that "she is a threat to
society and she should not be released now".
Mukoko, a former television news anchor on state television, is waiting for
a ruling by the Supreme Court on her application to have her detention
Under heavy police guard, she has been allowed a few visits to the Avenues
Clinic, in Harare. She has alleged that she was tortured while being
On Tuesday, a two-year-old boy was released from jail after being held for
weeks with his parents in what the Zimbabwean opposition calls "a crackdown
Nigel Mutemagau was released into the care of relatives after a judge said
there was no reason to hold him, defence lawyer Charles Kwaramba said.
The boy's parents, opposition party members Collen Mutemagau and Violet
Mupfuranhehwe, are accused of complicity in a plot to overthrow President
Robert Mugabe. They appeared in court yesterday without Nigel in their arms
for the first time since being detained.
The MDC said the charges against the boy's parents and others were "trumped
up" and that those detained - including the child - were abused by security
Wednesday, 14 January 2009
By own correspondent, Johanessburg - Hours of television footage have
been compiled by the Zimbabwe government, in which young MDC members confess
they have been trained at guerrilla camps in Botswana.
the claim was made in Johannesburg on tuesday by one of the few kidnap
victims to have escaped after the past six weeks of state-sponsored
abductions across the country.
Bothwell Pasipamire, an MDC town councillor from Kadoma, says he was
held at a camp near
Goromonzi. During his threeday detention, he was tortured and forced
to take part in a question-and-answer session on video.
He and others were also made to beat a uniformed soldier while ZBC
cameramen filmed the action.
"the sheer scale of deception being carried out by Zanu (PF) is hard
to believe," Pasipamire told The Zimbabwean.
"they are manufacturing a library of so-called evidence against the
MDC, Botswana, the British and all the imagined enemies of Zanu (PF)," he
On Saturday, December 13, Pasipamire's abduction was reported to the
MDC and to police at Kadoma. He was snatched from his home shortly after
In an affidavit, the councillor said he was kidnapped by four men in a
white toyota twin-cab and driven to a deserted farm near Goromonzi where
other victims were being held.
"a man who introduced himself as army Warrant Officer Mabhunu forced
me to strip naked and abused me in a personal and obscene way, so vile that
I can only recount it to a doctor or in evidence at the trial of my
kidnappers," he said.
"This interrogation was not in search of information, but to break my
will to resist, and it worked."
After the ordeal, he and others were held in separate rooms and,
during the night, they were
sprayed with water to ensure they could not sleep.
The next day, a group of prisoners were filmed while acting out the
mock assault of a soldier
who had been arrested after Christmas riots in Harare.
"I remember that this poor young soldier looked even more scared than
me," Pasipamire said.
"Later, I was separated from the group and given a hand-written set of
questions and answers
and a smartly dressed men who looked like a ZBC presenter ran through
the list and I was made to answer exactly as it was laid out on the paper."
In this filmed interview, Pasipamire was forced to admit that he had
been trained at a guerrilla camp in Botswana; taken part in the assault on a
soldier before be captured by police; received uS$1,000 from Morgan
Tsvangirai, and seen thousands of other MDC combatants ready to invade the
"I had never been to Botswana and I wouldn't know how to even hold a
gun. It was all so ridiculous," he said.
"Every night I could hear other men screaming while they were tortured
and one of the officers
fold me that there was also a female detention area nearby and I
wondered if that was where
they held Jestina Mukoko. I also heard women crying in pain."
He later escaped from custody and was taken to South africa by the MDC
where, on tuesday, he addressed a press conference in Johannesburg.
Wednesday, 14 January 2009
We take issue with Judge President Rita Makarau's outburst in
the High Court this week, where she warned lawyers not to
criticise the judiciary.
We find her utterances ridiculous and despicable. She is directing her
anger at the wrong people. She cannot demand that lawyers stop criticising
the bench when those responsible for upholding the law fail to do so. Not
only are Zimbabwe's judges inconsistent intheir judgements, they are
actually complicit in state-sponsored criminal activity.
For example, in the case of Jestina Mukoko and the other MDC and human
rights activists who were kidnapped by the police, the judiciary has behaved
with despicable, lily-livered, craven partiality - and deserves our
When Jestina was initially kidnapped the police told the High Court
that they were treating the matter as a criminal offence as they had no idea
who had kidnapped her or where she was being held. This was an outright
lie - as was subsequently proved in the same High Court.
Yet the judiciary has done nothing to bring that policeman to book for
perjury. Rita Makarau has said nothing about the criminal behaviour of the
Then, the judiciary ordered that the kidnapped activist, who had been
severely tortured in police custody, should be taken to hospital for
The police simply ignored this order. This is not the first time they
have openly defied judgements handed down by the High Court, and other
courts in Zimbabwe.
Rita Makarau has said nothing about the contemptuous manner in which
the police force has repeatedly treated the orders of her colleagues.
We recall the judgement issued by Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku in
the Supreme Court when The Daily News sought an order to compel the Media
and Information Commission to grant it a licence to publish. This was an
open and shut case.
The court refused to entertain the newspaper's petition on the grounds
that the publisher had not complied with the law, which required it to
register, and therefore could not approach the court "with dirty hands".
In the case of the kidnapped activists, the police dragged their
victims to court with extremely dirty hands.
We would have thought that, in the light of the precedent set by
Chidyausiku's judgement, the court would have thrown out the case on the
Instead, Makarau has used her position to upbraid those lawyers who
are simply pointing out the inconsistencies, misdeeds and outright aiding
and abetting of criminal activity of which the bench in Zimbabwe is now
Judges who invade farms and then sit in judgement over farm invasions
cannot expect people to respect them. Judges who accept the gift of luxury
vehicles, plasma tv sets and satellite dishes from Gideon Gono cannot demand
our respect. They should earn it.
Print this page
Last Modified: 14 Jan 2009
By: Guest blogger
Our Zimbabwe blogger looks at the disintegration of this troubled nation.
Nothing tells the story of the collapse of Zimbabwe better than the images
on the side of the road which are there for all to see.
Approaching one of the numerous police road blocks a few kilometres outside
of Harare an assortment of armed security personnel stand around waiting to
stop, question and search motorists and their vehicles.
Sometimes they stop you and the next time they wave you through and it all
seems a very hit and miss affair. There are police in khaki uniform wearing
fluorescent green waistcoats; police in navy blue trousers and grey shirts;
soldiers in army camouflage; army "paras" (para-troopers) the elite soldiers
who wear red berets and youth brigade members in olive green uniforms.
No one knows why there are so many forces or so many road blocks, or what
they are looking for, and no one asks. In the tall, uncut grass a tatty
green tent offers protection for all these security men from the rain as
well as a place to cook, eat and rest.
In the rank weeds along the roadside a scattering of one million and fifty
thousand dollar bank notes lie abandoned in the vegetation. No one bothers
to collect the money or even give it a second glance as the local currency
has become virtually worthless.
On Friday one US dollar bought 20 billion Zimbabwe dollars; by Monday one US
dollar raised 40 billion Zimbabwe dollars. To put these vast amounts into
perspective, one single cucumber was selling for $18bn on Friday and for
$38bn on Monday.
At most road intersections in Harare city the traffic lights are not working
and the junctions are covered in potholes. They are vast, cavernous affairs
which make drivers weave and zig-zag dangerously in order to avoid bursting
tyres and damaging wheels.
Everywhere you look there are police: patrolling in pairs, cycling in
groups, driving around on four-wheel quad bikes or simply standing in
groups. Some are in full riot gear and most are visibly armed. They seem to
be on alert for something but none do anything to control the traffic flow
at intersections and driving is an experience of deadly hazard.
Despite parts of Harare not having had water for as long as a year and with
taps disabled, broken water pipes continue to flood roads and scour away
tarmac in other parts of the capital. In industrial areas some roads have
become virtually impassable to all except for four-wheel drive vehicles.
In urban areas every spare piece of land has been planted with maize: next
to railway lines, outside houses, under electricity pylons, surrounding
cemeteries, on anthills and even along some residential streets.
The shortage of seed maize left most people planting pips left over from
last year's harvest and this, together with the countrywide shortage of
fertilizer has produced pathetic results. Maize plants which by now should
be shoulder high, deep green and flowering are in the minority. Stunted,
yellow maize plants with thin stems are less than a foot high and it is
unlikely they will produce any cobs at all.
In farming areas the best description of the view is that of dense African
bush. There is widespread bush encroachment everywhere and mile after mile
of deserted farms. Boundary and paddock fences have almost all been removed,
fields are neither ploughed nor planted, there is no sign of men or machines
at work in the land and there is a dramatic reduction in the number of
It's not hard to understand why we are a country riddled with disease,
crippled with hunger and whose economy is non existent except in US dollars.
Wednesday, 14 January 2009
It's value may have dwindled to virtually nothing, but now it seems
the Zimbabwean dollar could disappear altogether.
Despite government denials that economy has been 'dollarised' - US
dollar, that is - local currency is virtually unacceptable as legal tender.
Grocery purchases, public hospital bills, property sales, rent, legal
fees, vegetables and even mobile phone recharge cards are now paid for in
However, the Mugabe regime seems too ashamed to admit that it has
officially dollarised the economy, so the Zimbabwean dollar remains the
legal tender of the country, leading to a situation economists term 'partial
Full or official dollarisation is the adoption by one country of
another's currency as legal tender. In the case of Zimbabwe, the US dollar
and the South African rand are widely accepted. The adopted currencies have
taken over all the functions of domestic currency.
In order to attract foreign currency into the official market,
Zimbabwe's central bank has, since September, licensed at least 1,000 shops
to sell goods in foreign currency. The authorities have also recently
licensed mobile phone service providers to accept foreign exchange for
airtime and other services, and permits public hospitals to receive payment
in other currencies.
Other shops and service providers have followed suit, despite warnings
that those who flout the country's foreign exchange regulations will be
Political analysts and economists say the main reason for the
government's failure to admit to dollarisation or partial dollarisation is
that the situation is difficult to reconcile with Mugabe's oft-repeated
declaration of his country's sovereignty and frequent anti-imperialist
"Such a declaration would be an embarrassment to a government which
professes hatred of the US government," Lance Mambondiani, an investment
"At a symbolic level, one of the most important national symbols is
money, which serves to enhance a unique sense of national identity. The
currency underscores the fact that everyone is part of the same social
entity," he said.
"These effects are lost when money of a foreign state is adopted.
Dollarisation is therefore a greater threat to national sovereignty than any
perceived threat of recolonisation by the British."
There is another problem. Full dollarisation would require the
approval of the US Federal Reserve, which is unlikely to be forthcoming,
given the animosity between Washington and Harare.
Diplomatic sources say America has asked the Mugabe regime to come
clean on whether it has officially dollarised.
Sizani Weza, a spokesperson at the US embassy in Harare, maintains,
however, that, although he is "aware of public interest in US government
approval or disapproval of the use of the US dollar in Zimbabwe" the US
government has not "expressed an opinion" on the issue.
A senior government official said Zimbabwe had approached South
African Finance Minister Trevor Manuel and South African Reserve Bank
Governor Tito Mboweni with a proposal that they rescue the Zimbabwean
economy by extending the common monetary area of rand into Zimbabwe. It
currently encompasses South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho and Swaziland.
Similar proposals have been made by Steve Hanke, Cato Institute Senior
Fellow and Professor of Applied Economics at Johns Hopkins University, who
advocates the creation of a currency board to end Zimbabwe's spiralling
inflation, and by Tomaz Salamao, executive secretary of the Southern African
Tomaz has reportedly suggested that Zimbabwe's depleted foreign
reserves be topped up with the South African currency and that Zimbabwe be
allowed to join the rand monetary area.
The Zimbabwe government, invoking its sovereignty mantra, initially
rejected the suggestion, but has backed down under the pressure of the
imploding economy and proposes issuing Zimbabwean dollars that are fully
backed by and convertible into rands at a fixed rate.
Under this plan, the currency board will initially be capitalised by
South Africa and the rand will be allowed to circulate legally in Zimbabwe.
The ultimate aim would be to stabilise the exchange rate of the
Zimbabwe dollar and curb hyperinflation, enabling the country to buy foreign
exchange and continue to import essential goods.
According to diplomatic sources, the price of South Africa's help will
be Mugabe's commitment to a genuine power-sharing arrangement in terms of
the agreement signed on September 15, 2008, and to far-reaching political
and economic reforms.
Thursday, January 15, 2009
By Oliver Kazunga
THE National Railways of Zimbabwe has increased fares on its inter-city
trains with effect from Monday with sleeper class travel to Harare now
costing more than $500 billion, an official confirmed yesterday.
The NRZ public relations manager, Mr Fanuel Masikati, said the increases
were effected to allow the parastatal to meet operational costs.
"We have reviewed our fares upwards for international and inter-city trains
in order to meet operational costs and continue offering our services as the
country's major alternative mode of transport.
"Despite the increases, our fares still remain cheapest considering the
state of the economy right now. We have the interests of people at heart and
this is why NRZ does not hike fares frequently like what other operators
do," Mr Masikati said.
Travelling from Bulawayo to Harare now costs $540 billion for the most
expensive ticket while the economy class is now pegged at $270 billion.
The same fares apply on the Bulawayo-Victoria Falls route.
A first class ticket to Chiredzi now costs $585 billion while the economy is
Travelling in the first class from Harare to Mutare is now $315 billion
while in the lower classes passengers have to part with $160 billion. Fares
from Bulawayo to Beitbridge are now between $190 billion and $385 billion.
For international trips, it now costs between $350 and $630 billion from
Bulawayo to Chicualacuala while on the Francistown route, cross-border
traders will have to fork out $300 billion.
As of yesterday some bus operators plying the Bulawayo-Harare route were
charging $2,5 trillion or 150 rand.
Mr Masikati said NRZ was committed to efficient service delivery and
appealed to members of the public to buy tickets from designated ticket
offices in advance.
"Of late, we have realised that people have resorted to travelling by train
as an alternative mode of transport and I appeal to the passengers to buy
their tickets well in advance."
Mr Masikati also appealed to members of the public to use proper walkways as
a safety measure when at the stations.
"The public must use platforms otherwise they may risk being run over by our
trains as there is a lot of shunting at the stations.
He also encouraged the public to report acts of vandalism on NRZ equipment.
"People must report vandalism that they see in order for NRZ to remain
effective and efficient in service delivery," said Mr Masikati.
Photo: WHO/Paul Garwood
cases continue to climb
As the number of deaths in the outbreak shot past 2,000 and notched up another 1,000 cases within days, the UN World Health Organisation (WHO) attributed the surge to the spread of the disease deeper into the countryside.
"The outbreak has spread to the rural areas during the Christmas break – there has been a lot of movement of healthy carriers [of cholera bacteria] back and forth," said Oladapo Walker, the WHO Inter-Country Support Team coordinator in Zimbabwe.
He added that the Zimbabwe Health Cluster was concentrating on launching an awareness campaign that included distributing information leaflets, water treatment tablets, oral rehydration salts, and washing soap and buckets.
Cholera-related deaths in communities have continued to climb, but in treatment care centres the incidence has fallen, showing that "there is a need to step up awareness", said Amanda Weisbaum, the emergency manager of Save the Children, UK, in Zimbabwe.
Poor communications between Zimbabwe's 10 provinces and the WHO head office in the capital, Harare, which is responsible for collating the figures, had seen sudden spurts in numbers as new figures were added whenever lines were operational.
Communications improved after a cellphone provider, Econet, offered them a toll-free line. "We have also provided 23 free SIM cards to all the provincial medical directors [in the 10 provinces] and the data managers," said Walker, but added glumly that things were "not perfect yet – none of the lines were working yesterday."
Aid agencies have been struggling to control the epidemic in a country where the health system has collapsed, the government is broke, and the inflation rate is unofficially in the trillions of percent. They are hoping the cholera prevention and information campaign will bring down the numbers.
The response to the cholera outbreak has also been affected by an ongoing strike by medical personnel, who had not received their salaries in months. The Health Cluster has managed to convince some of the doctors and nurses to resume work in the Cholera Treatment Centres (CTCs) by offering them additional money.
"We paid them during the Christmas break till 1 January. They are still working, as we are still trying to negotiate more money and help them get their arrears," Walker said.
Food was the other incentive that had drawn medical personnel back to work. The World Food Programme (WFP) stepped in to feed 12,600 people in the 22 CTCs, said Richard Lee, the agency spokesman. WFP has also chipped in with logistical support by putting their vehicles at the cluster's disposal.
The government, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe and UN agencies have also donated enough fuel to keep the aid effort on the road, said Walker.
But what the effort really needs, according to Weisbaum, is to ensure that every household has access to water purification tablets, and realises "the importance of keeping their drinking water clean – otherwise nothing is going to help."
Wednesday, 14 January 2009
Some sects of Apostles have turned down an invitation by the Johanne
Masowe sect, led by the Zanu (PF) Provincial Security Officer Lawrence
Katsiru, to conduct a joint prayer session in Marondera.
The sects, which had been requested to assemble at the Katsiru Shrine
in Yellow City, said Zanu (PF) wanted to use the event to spread propaganda
against the MDC. Sources say Zanu has failed to mobilise people for its
rallies in Marondera, hence the change of strategy.
Fist-fights have broken out at the shrine as Katsiru politicised
Prophets from sects that snubbed Katsiru's offer have said the holy
spirit told them that, in March 2009, milk and honey would fall in Zimbabwe
but a bespectacled baboon could immediately cut short the joy.
FROM THE ZIMBABWE VIGIL
Please help Luka by doing the following:
Fax or call Kenyan Airlines at Heathrow airport on phone 020 8759 7366, Fax 020 8745 5027.
Tell them Luka Phiri is due to be deported to Malawi on Thursday 15th January 2009 on KQ101 Kenya Airlines leaving at 7pm. Luka is a Zimbabwean national who will be sent back to Zimbabwe by the Malawian authorities where he is likely to face serious abuse by the Zimbabwean authorities because he is a high profile activist. He is being forced on this flight against his will and will be very distressed and likely to cause distress to other passengers.
If you can fax the airline you could also send the Daily Mirror story on the following link. Print it out and mark the section on Luka:
According to the group London Without Borders “Past experience tells us that it is possible to stop someone being sent on a particular flight by contacting the airline they're due to be flying with. Airlines often say that they are not aware that asylum seekers are being deported on their flights. The airlines say they only know that the Home Office has booked a seat. If Kenya Airlines think they're going to lose business by getting negative public attention they may well not send Luka on Tuesday's flight.”
London Without Borders also suggest
you call the Home Office Press Office. Ask them if it is true that a Zimbabwean
national is being sent to Malawi against his
will. The Home Office Press Office aims to maintain a positive image for the
Home Office. They will not want bad publicity. You could also tell them that you
heard about the case on the radio / internet or wherever.
Immigration, International &
Community Assistant Director: 020 7035 3829
Wendy Fielder: 020 7035 3815
Jan Kemal: 020 7035 3821
Helen Bower: 020 7035 3816
Rachel Shaw 020 7035 3817
The London without Borders info is from a posting in 2006 so some of the numbers / names may no longer be current. However start at the top and if they don't answer, work your way down the list. http://noborderslondon.blogspot.com/2006/11/stop-deportation-from-heathrow-today.html
The Vigil, outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, 429 Strand, London, takes place every Saturday from 14.00 to 18.00 to protest against gross violations of human rights by the current regime in Zimbabwe. The Vigil which started in October 2002 will continue until internationally-monitored, free and fair elections are held in Zimbabwe. http://www.zimvigil.co.uk
Wednesday, 14 January 2009
LONDON - "We are hungry" - is the phrase that reaches in to your soul
everywhere you travel through strife-torn Zimbabwe. That's the report from
Michael Alemu of Christian Horizons to Feed The Children UK's chief
executive Brian Main, who has been so moved by the report that he has issued
a personal plea for funds.
"The food and essential clothing we have shipped out to the country is
making a difference but money is needed to send more to save more lives. It's
a desperate situation," says Brian.
"As we travelled from house to house delivering a bag of rice and
cooking oil and some soap and words of prayers they breakout in songs of
praise to God," adds Michael. "The spirit of God is sustaining people. The
food may last only for a few days, but we are sustaining hope, keeping the
human spirit alive.
"We need to send out more containers of essential supplies urgently
and to do this we need money and we need it now," adds Brian. "We have the
capability to get the supplies to where they are really needed - it does
work. All that is holding us back is money. We think things are getting
tight in the UK, but over there people are literally starving."
In another extract from his report, Michael says, "The people walk in
silence, eyes red, bones hanging by skins. They are silent in quiet streets,
no laughter, just walking on the side of the road, peering through empty
stores, empty shelves, closed doors. Children do not play; schools have been
closed for the most part since May. The teachers are not on strike, they
just cannot afford the fare to get to schools, and parents could not afford
the school fees, and transportation costs.
"If you can spare just a few pounds, please go to our website
(www.feedthechildren.co.uk) and donate on-line or call us 0118 932 0095 to
make a telephone donation," says Brian.
Feed The Children works worldwide, as well as within the UK, to
develop sustainable communities and provide food and other necessities for
those in great need. The charity concentrates aid on children suffering the
affects of poverty, especially those orphaned or abandoned. The charity
believes that wherever there is famine, conflict, disease or poverty, it is
always the children who are most vulnerable.
Feed The Children UK registered in 1994 and over the years the charity
has helped millions of children and their families both at home and abroad.
The charity relies on gifts from generous companies, individuals and
organisations to donate the goods and financial assistance needed in order
to support the various humanitarian and relief projects.
by Nqobizitha Khumalo Thursday 15 January 2009
BULAWAYO - Strife-torn Zimbabwe is one of the world's worst economies for
business to operate in with blatant government interference restricting free
enterprise, an international public policy research institute said on
United States based Heritage Foundation's 2009 Index of Economic Freedom
(IEF) report released in New York slotted Zimbabwe on position 182 out of
183 countries surveyed, confirming the terrible state of the southern
African country's economy.
Heritage Foundation - a public policy research institute that champions free
enterprise and limited government intervention - said North Korea was the
world's most restricted economy, followed by Zimbabwe, Cuba, Myanmar and
The IEF is a practical reference guide to the world's economies that
includes country-by-country analyses and the most up-to-date data available
on foreign investment codes, taxes, tariffs, banking regulations, monetary
policy and black markets.
The ratings are based on data collected between July 2007 and June 2008 and
the countries are rated on a score of zero to 100.
The top slot went to Hong Kong for the 15th consecutive year with 90 points,
followed by Singapore, Australia, Ireland and New Zealand.
South Africa with 63,8 points is the highly rated African economy.
Zimbabwe scored 22,7 points, 6,7 points less from the 29,4 tally it managed
in 2008 when it sat on position 155.
Zimbabwe's rankings fell in the last year following new restrictions on
business and fiscal freedom and the world's highest inflation now at over
231 million percent.
State interference in the monetary policies of the country saw the Reserve
Bank of Zimbabwe printing money at the instigation of the government,
resulting in inflation shooting to record levels.
President Robert Mugabe's government also interferes in the pricing of goods
and services, a situation that has forced many companies to close shop
leaving people jobless and facing starvation due to an acute shortage of
Heritage Foundation said in a statement accompanying the report that the top
placed countries exhibited the highest form of economic freedom and realised
state protection of business.
"The highest form of economic freedom provides an absolute right of property
ownership, fully realised freedoms of movement for labour, capital and
goods," said Heritage Foundation.
"In other words, individuals are free to work, produce, consume and invest
in any way they please, and that freedom is both protected by the state and
unconstrained by the state." - ZimOnline