The ZIMBABWE Situation
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Flood warnings for southern Africa

Written by The Zimbabwean
Sunday, 16 January 2011 12:21
Kariba flood gates to be opened

JOHANNESBURG - As heavy rains continue to pound parts of South Africa, the
meteorological bureau has warned that there was a "high risk of floods" in
the central and northeastern parts of the country over the next few days.
The government announced that the army was on standby as the water levels
rose to dangerous levels in South Africa's biggest river, the Orange. The
river rises in the Drakensberg Mountains in the eastern part of the country
near Lesotho and flows westwards across the country and along the border
with southern Namibia before emptying into the Atlantic Ocean, covering a
distance of 2,200 km.
"We are expecting above-normal rains," said Cobus Olivier, a scientist at
the South African Weather Services. Vuyelwa Qinga Vika, spokeswoman for the
ministry of cooperative governance and traditional affairs, said 36 people
had been killed in extensive flooding, particularly in the eastern province
of KwaZulu-Natal, parts of which have been inundated by a tributary of the
Orange River.
Across northwestern South Africa, neighbouring Namibia has been on standby,
watching water levels steadily rise in the Orange River, said Japhet Itenge,
the head of the country's disaster management directorate. "We are
monitoring the situation and the village councils have been informed.
The Zambezi River Authority (ZRA), staffed jointly by officials from Zambia
and Zimbabwe, said it would open the flood gates of the Kariba Dam, situated
between northwestern Zimbabwe and southeastern Zambia, on 29 January. This
could cause flooding in the region.

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Zim worries about Wikileaks

2011-01-16 13:55

Harare - Zimbabwe's attorney general has appointed a probe team to assess
whether any of the diplomatic cables in custody of whistle blowing site
Wikileaks reveal breaches of the country's security laws, which may lead to
prosecution of those cited, reports said on Sunday.

"I am seeking a professional legal opinion from registered lawyers to see
whether there is need to prosecute anyone following revelations by the
Wikileaks website," Johannes Tomana, the attorney general told the state-run
Sunday Mail.

"People should understand that this is a serious matter...after their
recommendations, I will then decide whether there is need to open a docket
against anyone.

"This is not a commission of inquiry, but a panel of experts whose
recommendations will inform whether to prosecute anyone or not."

The whistle-blower website is expected to dump more than 250 000 cables onto
the internet and to select media outlets, including more than 3 000 cables
concerning Zimbabwe.

WikiLeaks has not said what will be contained in its upcoming release on

Last month, Tomana was slapped with sanctions and an asset freeze by the
United States, making him the latest ally of long-ruling President Robert
Mugabe to be black-listed by the US government.

A series of US cables by its diplomats released by WikiLeaks last month have
been embarrassing to 86-year-old Mugabe and his inner circle.

One discussed the United Nations' efforts to get Mugabe to stand down by
offering him a retirement package and an exile deal.

Another contained accusations that Mugabe's wife, Grace, and Central Bank
Governor Gideon Gono were earning huge profits from illegal diamonds.

Mugabe's wife has filed a lawsuit claiming $15m in damages from a local
independent weekly that reproduced a WikiLeaks report which said she had
been involved in underhand sales of diamonds from the controversial Marange


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Zimbabwean embassies owe US$24m

16/01/2011 00:00:00
    by Lebo Nkatazo


ZIMBABWE’S embassies doted around the globe are in arrears amounting to
US$24 million carried over from last year for various services rendered,
according to a parliamentary report.

In its report, the parliamentary portfolio committee on Foreign Affairs said
the moneys owed should be paid to “restore the dignity of diplomats as well
as the reputation of the country”.

The Foreign Affairs Ministry has made a proposal for Treasury to release at
least US$2 million a month for the next eight months beginning this January
to pay off some of the most pressing obligations.

But the treasury is yet to make a commitment.

“By factoring in arrears from missions abroad of $24.350 million that have
accrued over the year the ministry will virtually have to maneuver from a
net position.

“This is not a pleasing situation at all and I hope the Finance Minister,
his officials together with the Treasury will do something to address this
pertinent issue,” reads part of the Foreign Affairs committee report.

Legislators also recommended that the Foreign Affairs Ministry should
consider reducing its manpower to cut costs.

Moving to the Ministry of Regional Integration and international
Co-operation, the committee said the former had been forced to cut its
vacancy size from 32 to 20 due to lack of funds.

The Ministry was said to be operating with only two vehicles and had wished
to acquire more in 2011, but their bid for US$145 000 to purchase the
vehicles was thrown out by treasury.

Diaspora engagement meetings were also affected by the cash squeeze.

“Diaspora engagement will also be slashed down from 7 countries to 3. (The
ministry) wanted to cover Australia, Botswana, Canada, New Zealand, South
Africa, United Kingdom and United States of America, but they only managed
to do Botswana, South Africa and United Kingdom,” said the report.

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Mugabe supporters grab university land

Kudzai Mashininga
16 January 2011
Issue: 0069

Three supporters of President Robert Mugabe have moved to grab huge chunks
of land belonging to a state-run university in a matter that has since
spilled into the courts. This comes a decade after the African dictator
launched a ruinous agrarian reform exercise.

The three Mugabe loyalists - Boas Urayayi (a soldier), Elikanah Mtshanga and
Munashe Gurumani - claim the government allocated them up to 950 hectares of
land belonging to Great Zimbabwe University.

The institution is located in the country's oldest town, Masvingo, known as
Fort Victoria before Zimbabwe's independence from Britain in 1980. Each of
the three claimants is demanding slightly more than 300 hectares of the

But the institution of higher learning maintains that legally the disputed
land belongs to it.

In an interview on Tuesday, Great Zimbabwe University Vice-chancellor
Professor Obert Maravanyika told University World News that its case with
Urayayi was the only one due in court this week, but was cancelled when
government averted the take-over by allocating the soldier alternative land.

"We went to court yesterday, but Urayayi signed affidavits to withdraw the
claims after government allocated him alternative land. This is a dynamic
situation. Some of the other people who are coming to claim the land are
saying the land used to belong to them. That is the challenge we have here,"
Maravanyika said.

In a separate interview, Gurumani claimed he would do everything in his
power to take over the land and described the university as an "illegal
settler" on his property. The third claimant, Mtshanga, could not be reached
for comment.

In 2000 Mugabe launched a populist and bloody campaign to take over
white-owned farms in Zimbabwe, at a time when his now 31-year-old
uninterrupted rule faced its fiercest threat - the formation of the (then)
opposition Movement for Democratic Change led by Morgan Tsvangirai.

In the 2008 general elections, which saw Mugabe's agents murdering hundreds
of opposition members, the ZANU-PF leader was defeated by Tsvangirai but
declined to cede power, necessitating the formation of a unity government in
which Mugabe remains a domineering president with Tsvangirai as prime

The land grabs and state-sponsored violence prompted sanctions from the
European Union, the US and Australia, with Sydney going a step further by
deporting the children of those on its sanctions list studying at its
universities. The most notable of these were the children of Police
Commissioner General Augustine Chihuri, and the Governor of the Reserve Bank
of Zimbabwe, Gideon Gono.

Mugabe's party adopted new hardline resolutions at its conference last
December, with a resolution for further land grabs, which may have
influenced a new wave of attempts to take over properties, including the
university property.

The party also resolved that the Zimbabwe government would take
counter-measures against foreign companies, institutions and entities whose
home countries maintain sanctions against Mugabe and his inner cabal - a
move that threatens the operations of international companies operating in
the country including BP, Total, Chevron, Barclays Bank, Standard Chartered
Bank and platinum giant Zimplats.

The party said the government should also expel envoys promoting the "West's
regime change agenda" and interfering in the internal affairs of Zimbabwe,
and should deregister NGOs allegedly acting as "conduits of regime change".

Last week Attorney General Johannes Tomana - who has also been blacklisted
by the EU and US for political persecution of dissenting voices through
prosecution on trumped-up charges - announced the setting up of a six-member
commission of enquiry to look into "suspected constitutional infringement
bordering on conspiracy by several Zimbabweans arising from WikiLeaks

The state-run Herald newspaper, a mouthpiece for Mugabe's party, reported
that the prime minister is among the suspects.

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Ncube’s MDC party broke

16/01/2011 00:00:00
    by Staff Reporter

PROFESSOR Welshman Ncube’s MDC party is said to be battling serious
financial problems which have hampered efforts to hold rallies and other
campaign activities across the country.

So dire is the financial crisis that some delegates had to pay for their
accommodation and other expenses during the party’s recent congress where
Ncube took over as party leader.

“We have no money in the party coffers. It’s not a secret that we were
operating on a shoestring budget during our two-day congress,” deputy
president, Edwin Mushoriwa said.

“You should understand that unlike other political parties which get money
from the West and donors, we do not have vast amounts.”

Provincial officials said rentals for offices had gone unpaid for months
while campaign efforts were being undermined by the lack of transport.

The party is said to have only four vehicles for its 12 administrative

“Information at hand indicates that the party has only four vehicles — one
in Manicaland, another in Masvingo and two in the Matabeleland provinces,”
Masvingo chairman, Robson Mashiri said.

“As we speak, we have not paid rentals for our offices, yet the rent is only
US$200 per month. To further highlight the problem, my province only
received US$4 to cover the expenses it incurred during the congress.

Former national chairman Joubert Mudzumwe said the party did not have any
assets at all.

“Since 2006, as the party national chairperson, I have never known of any
assets belonging to the MDC or even any offices in the 12 provinces.

“The same applies to motor vehicles. The only motor vehicles I am aware of
are a written off Mazda,” he said.

Foreign funding of political parties is banned by law in Zimbabwe.

The government provides an annual grant based on the parties’ representation
in parliament under the Political Parties Finance Act.

However, the paities say the grant is woefully inadequate.

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I Can Beat Ncube Anytime- Says Khuphe

16/01/2011 18:18:00

BULAWAYO, January 16, 2011-Deputy Prime Minister and MDC-T Vice-President
Thokozani Khuphe on Saturday took a swipe at the new leader of the smaller
faction of the MDC, Welshman Ncube saying his election will not have any
impact in Zimbabwean political circles.

Speaking to journalists in Bulawayo on Saturday, Khupe said Ncube should not
be fooled into thinking that by being elected as the MDC-M president he will
win any national elections.

“I beat him in Makokoba in 2008 elections and I can beat him any time if
elections are called.He will never win any national elections and his party
is now in a worse position than when Mutambara was leader, " said Khuphe
whose attack on Ncube revealed the bad blood between the two Matabeleland
Khupe said MDC-M can hold several congresses and change leaders but it will
remain the same and won’t pose a threat to MDC-T.

"The change of leadership in that party will make them even weaker than they
were in 2008, " said Khuphe

Responding to Khupe’s scathing attack on Ncube MDC-N Bulawayo Province
spokesperson, Edwin Ndlovu said Khupe should not be taken seriously as she
was just a useless figure trying to seek attention.

“She is just a village idiot singing wedding songs at a funeral. People
should not take her seriously because she is just a toothless and a useless
figure trying to seek attention.Our advise to her is that she should not
waste time commenting about our party.She should be dealing with divisions
within the MDC-T which is failing to hold a congress,” said Ndlovu.

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Soldiers Ban Vendors From Selling Mirror

16/01/2011 18:19:00

MASVINGO, January 16, 2011 – Members of the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA)
from 4:2 Infantry Battalion in Gutu have banned vendors from selling The
Mirror, an independent newspaper based in the town.

Mirror newspaper agency in Gutu had to run to chief Gutu for protection when
soldiers at Mukute Inn threatened to beat him up on Saturday.
The Mirror editor Golden Maunganidze said volumes of newspapers which were
supposed to be sold in Gutu were returned to Masvingo as vendors there said
they were afraid to be seen selling the paper.

“We have received the newspapers which we had sent to Gutu. Vendors in the
area including agencies there said they were afraid to be seen with copies
of the paper.The soldiers have accused the paper of tarnishing the image of
the army in a number of articles written by the paper early this year,” said

In its recent edition The Mirror published an article headlined ‘ Soldiers
Run Amok at Mpandawana ’ where soldiers beat up people on December 24 and on
Christmas day.They also beat up a police officer and the incident was
confirmed by both the police and the army itself.
One of the soldiers has been sentenced to one year in prison.

“We are shocked with this kind of operation especially at a time when the
government should be seen introducing more newspapers in the media
 industry,” added Maunganidze.Army provincial spokesperson Kingstone Chivave
could not be reached for comment as his mobile was not reachable.Media
Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Zimbabwe, Masvingo provincial chairman
Energy Bara said the actions of the army were highly embarrassing.
“We condemn the actions by overzealous members of ZNA in the strongest
possible terms.  What worries us is that the story was not cooked up, as it
was based on research and facts. If the army feels defamed by the story in
question, they should have taken appropriate action rather than banning
sales of newspapers ,” said Bara.

Meanwhile, Zanu (PF) secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa shocked
villagers at Mutimurefu Prison grounds on Saturday afternoon when he openly
admitted that soldiers were the ones  keeping the party intact.
“Those who say soldiers and war veterans should not meddle in politics are
wrong, such people are our enemies. Soldiers are the ones helping to keep
our party intact,” said Mutasa.He was addressing villagers at a tree
planting ceremony.

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Mudzumwe Is Lying About Assault Claims: MDC-N

16/01/2011 10:38:00

BULAWAYO, January 15, 2011- The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
formation led by Welshman Ncube has denied claims by disgruntled former
national chairman, Joubert Mudzumwe that his wife and children were
assaulted by party drivers who were sent to collect two vehicles from his
house in Runyararo West township on Friday.

Bulawayo Province MDC-N spokesman Edwin Ndlovu told Radio Vop that Mudzumwe
was lying about his family being attacked by the drivers who collected the
vehicles from his house.

“ Yes its true that we sent our drivers to Masvingo to collect the two
vehicles from Mudzumwe because he is no longer with us.But he is lying that
our drivers assaulted members of his family, ” Ndlovu told Radio Vop from
Ndlovu said Mudzumwe was still bitter that Ncube took over the party
leadership last week after Arthur Mutambara stepped down and did not seek
re-election at the congress in Harare.He said Mudzumwe was allocated two
vehicles to use in Masvingo when he was still national chairman of the

“ Why should he use our cars when he is no longer chairman of the party.He
is just a bitter man who is trying to tarnish Ncube,s name and the new
leadership, ” said Ndlovu.

Ndlovu told Radio Vop that Mudzumwe was first allocated a mazda 323 to use
for official  party business.He was later given a pick-up after he
complained that the first one needed to be sent for service.Mudzumwe on
Friday told our correspondent in Masvingo that the drivers whom he described
as thugs, beat up his wife and children before driving off with the two
He claimed that the two vehicles were his personal property and would be
approaching his lawyers to recover them.

“ He is free to go to his lawyers but he is wasting his time because he
knows those cars belong to the party, ” said Ndlovu who accussed Mudzumwe of
playing a tribal card.According to Ndlovu, the Masvingo delegates were
disappointed by Mutambara because they expected the former University of
Zimbabwe student leader to go along with their plans to derail the congress.

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Offering hope to Zimbabwe's most desperate

As Zimbabweans struggle to cope with food shortages and rising prices, Peta
Thornycroft meets one woman trying to help the ever-growing ranks of
suffering citizens.

By Peta Thornycroft, Bulawayo 7:00AM GMT 16 Jan 2011

As the great great granddaughter of one of imperial Britain's greatest
African foes, the irony cannot be lost on Sandra Gumede.

Lobengula, her illustrious ancestor, spent much of the late 19th century
trying to fend off colonial encroachment in his Matabeleland kingdom in what
is now western Zimbabwe.

Ultimately he failed, his tribal warriors cut down by British Maxim guns
during a war that provided Rhodesia's Rorke's Drift moment - when Maj Allan
Wilson and 31 British volunteers were cut down by a vast Matebele force
after a valiant stand by the Shangani River.

But today Mrs Gumede works with the British, or at least with a British
charity in the form of Zane, set up in 2002 by former MP Tom Benyon to help
the ever-swelling ranks of destitute Zimbabweans, black and white.

At another moment of great crisis in her people's history, it seems only
right - like her ancestor before her - to rally to their need.

So, at 3am, Mrs Gumede is up and cooking maize meal in a council hall in
Pelindaba, an overcrowded suburb of Bulawayo, the "City of Kings" that was
once Lobengula's capital.

It is an early start but she has little choice in the matter; Zimbabwe's
daily power cuts mean that a lie-in is all but impossible.

Soon the corridors are thronged with playing children who have come to the
council hall with their grandparents, penniless pensioners for whom Mrs
Gumede is the only hope of a hot meal. The children are mainly orphans,
their parents mostly carried off by the Aids epidemic that has swept
Zimbabwe, where as many as one in six of the adult population are infected
with the HIV virus.

Maize meal, known in Zimbabwe as sadza when it is cooked, is the staple food
of Zimbabwe. But after years of hyper-inflation and misrule that has
consigned a country once prosperous by African standards to mass
impoverishment, it has almost become a luxury for many in Matabeleland.

As one element of its work in Zimbabwe, Zane provides maize meal and soya so
that many of those who suffer the most -- the old and the young -- again
have the opportunity to eat.

One of the beneficiaries of the feeding scheme is Thabani, a former teacher
who lived in rural Matabeleland until 1985 when he was forced to flee
President Robert Mugabe's brutal suppression of Matabele dissidents and
their suspected sympathisers.

It was the height of what became known as the Gukurahundi, and in nearby
villages the dreaded, North Korean trained Fifth Brigade was carrying out
mass executions, forcing villagers to dig their own graves before mowing
them down with machine gun fire.

For Thabani, who thinks he is 69, Mrs Gumede's sadza is, like for so many
others, quite possibly the difference between life and death.

"I would die without this food, which I collect every day of the week," he
said. "It is cooked. I have no money for electricity even when it is on. At
weekends, it is a problem to get food. Often I am very hungry on Monday."

Thabani does not believe there is any immediate prospect for an improvement
in the lives of ordinary Zimbabweans, not while the present government
remains in power, making the role that Zane plays in his life even more

"We know what has happened in Zimbabwe," he said. "We know why we are
hungry. No one here will support Mugabe in any elections now."

He continued: "I don't know this British organisation who send money for the
food for us, but please thank them. We would die without it, so would those
children over there."

The children continue playing happily as the food is handed out to the
pensioners as they queue patiently for their food.

Having one hot meal a day gives them a future, and some hope - a precious
commodity in Zimbabwe.

Others in Zimbabwe, however, do not want to consider what the next few
years, even months, might bring.

Lorna Webb is one of Zimbabwe's white victims. She hasn't been oppressed
politically or singled out for violence. But, like countless others in
modern Zimbabwe, she is penniless.

A distinguished Zimbabwean - her father was Sir Thomas Page, a one-time
pioneering farmer - she lived her life with characteristic prudence. After
her husband died, she sold the family house as a way of supporting herself
into old age.

Instead, she was reduced to penury as her savings were wiped out after Mr
Mugabe's policies of seizing white-owned farms contributed to inflation so
runaway that prices were doubling every day.

It is hardly surprising that Mrs Webb is not relishing the prospect of
turning 100 later this year. In fact, she just wants to die.

"I am 99 now and my body is worn out," she said, speaking from her bed in
the frail-care section of a Harare old age home. "I have lived too long, and
I want to move on to the Lord now."

For Mrs Webb, Zane has been a source of precious comfort since she was taken
under its wing last June when she broke an arm and a leg.

Until then, despite her age, she had lived an active life, walking every day
and enjoying considerable independence at her old people's home.

Being confined to a bed is difficult for a woman who has seen so much. Her
father, whose story she tells in her book Chintali ("tall man" in the
Chinyanja language), was once speaker of the Legislative Council in Zambia,
or Northern Rhodesia as it was known then. Knighted in 1956, he arrived on
the African coast at the age of 19 and walked across the bush for nine weeks
to reach Nyasaland.

In many ways, her life has been just as adventure-filled. Born in then
Northern Rhodesia, she and her sister had long and difficult journeys to
school in Southern Rhodesia and were parted from their parents for a year at
a time, suffering regular bouts of homesickness for their bush home.

Mrs Webb trained as a nursing sister in Southern Rhodesia before spending
the early years of her working life in the forests of eastern Zimbabwe,
where she worked more as a doctor than a nurse, often having to perform
operations when the missionary doctor was away.

She also nursed in Johannesburg, South Africa, for 15 years, and retired as
deputy matron but returned to Zimbabwe to nurse her dying sister.

"I can't hear you, and I can't see you, but I have had a full and wonderful
life and I just want to go, so thank you, but there is no point in living
like this," she said.

As she prepares to make her final journey, Mrs Webb has no family around
her. She has a much loved stepson, but he lives in Cape Town and does not
have the money to see her often.

Zane fills that gap, its carers and volunteers providing attention and
companionship for a dying woman.

In a clear voice, Mrs Webb reaches out her hand, searching for the Zane
carer next to her. "Thank you for coming to see me," she said.

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Zimbabwe Vigil Diary – 15th January 2011

‘Tunisian President forced from power after 23 years’ was the news at the Vigil. It was a tail-between-the-legs exit for Mafia boss Ben Ali after an eruption of street anger over oppression and corruption. The sudden collapse of another African dictatorship cannot be good news for the Mugabe Mafia. If Ivory Coast is the writing on the wall then Tunisia is the wall collapsing.  Who will be next?


The Vigil believes there is a thirst for democracy in Africa. We certainly don’t believe that human rights is a lost cause – the argument advanced in the Times of London by commentator Matthew Parris, who was incidentally educated in Zimbabwe ( He said how shocked he was to hear a group of new wave Chinese students ‘making it plain they simply did not understand talk of democracy’. He concluded ‘our era of Western liberalism is drawing to a close’.


A Times reader replied ‘so young Chinese do not comprehend democracy – well, they have never experienced it’. The writer (David Hope-Robertson) continued ‘The war against human rights abuses, the degradation of women and the oppression of citizens by totalitarian regimes is one of attrition, waged by exposing the injustices over and over, by measured reason and sometimes by ridicule. It will never entirely be won, yet to concede the fight is to empower the abusers. It may sometimes feel that we are waging a pointless battle, that no progress is being made against those who believe they have a right to control their fellows but change can come, and suddenly. Who could imagine how swiftly Ceausescu would fold or the Argentinean generals be stripped of their power?’ Or Ben Ali for that matter . . . .


On another gloomy day with a biting wind, we were out again in support of human rights. Does Matthew Parris suggest we should stop? This is not the message we get from Zimbabwean victims of human rights abuses, some of whom join us on Saturdays.


We at the Vigil are not remote from the struggle and this week had to call for police help for only the second time in our eight years outside the Embassy. This time it was a demented pro-Mugabe Caribbean shouting abuse.  We have tolerated him for years but he is now becoming a serious nuisance. The last time we had to call for police help was when Tsvangirai’s uncle Hebson Makuvise, now Ambassador to Germany, tried to hijack the Vigil.


Other points:   

·       Glad to have with us Ben Semwayo who has written an article ‘Zimbabwean Opposition Unite’ which has been published on Zimbabwean media sites. If you haven’t read it check this link:

·       We were also glad to see Caroline Witts, a long-standing supporter, who comes regularly all the way from Exeter in Devon to help out on the front table explaining the Zimbabwe situation to the passing public.

For latest Vigil pictures check: For the latest ZimVigil TV programme check  


FOR THE RECORD: 79 signed the register.



·       The Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe (ROHR) is the Vigil’s partner organisation based in Zimbabwe. ROHR grew out of the need for the Vigil to have an organisation on the ground in Zimbabwe which reflected the Vigil’s mission statement in a practical way. ROHR in the UK actively fundraises through membership subscriptions, events, sales etc to support the activities of ROHR in Zimbabwe.

·       ROHR Newcastle general meeting. Saturday 22nd January from 2 – 6 pm. Venue: Warwick Court, Warwick Street, Gateshead, Tyne and Wear NE8 1EY. 3 mins walk from the Gateshead Interchange opposite Gateshead Civic Centre and Gateshead Police Station. Free parking available. For directions please contact Susan Ndlovu 07767024586, Allen Chamboko 07500246416, Kuda Derera 07411337933, Rugare Chifungo (Coordinator) 07795070609 or P Chibanguza (Coordinator) 07908406069.

·       ROHR Manchester Branch Demonstration/Vigil. Saturday 22nd January from 2 – 5 pm. Venue: Cathedral Gardens, Manchester City Centre (map: Contact: Delina Tafadzwa Mutyambizi 07775313637, Artwell Pfende 07886839353, Chamunorwa Chihota 07799446404, Panyika Karimanzira 07551062161.

·       ROHR Nottingham general meeting. Saturday 29th January. Venue: St Saviour’s Community Hall, Arkwright Walk, Nottingham NG2 2JU. Contact Allan Nhemhara 07810197576, Mary Chabvamuperu  07412074928 , Christopher Chimbumu 07775888205, P Chibanguza 07908406069 or P Mapfumo 07915926323 / 07932216070.

·       ROHR Ashford general meeting. Saturday 5th February, Venue: the Star Pub, Ashford, Kent TN24 8PA opposite Liquid Night Club off Hythe Road, 5 mins walk from Ashford International Station. ROHR executive members present. Contact Danmore Munyuki 07535213801, Munyaradzi Badze 07709317869, Egbert Mtengwa 07985592931 or P Mapfumo 07915926323/07932216070.

·       ROHR West Bromwich general meeting.  Saturday 5th February from 1 – 5 pm. Venue: St Peter’ Church Hall, Whitehall Road, West Bromwich B70 OHF. For more info contact Pamela Dunduru 07958386718, Peter Nkomo 07817096594, Diana Mtendereki 07771708800, Phylis Chibanguza 07908406069 or P Mapfumo 07915926323/07932216070.

·       Vigil Facebook page:

·       Vigil Myspace page:

·       ‘Through the Darkness’, Judith Todd’s acclaimed account of the rise of Mugabe.  To receive a copy by post in the UK please email confirmation of your order and postal address to and 0send a cheque for £10 payable to “Budiriro Trust” to Emily Chadburn, 15 Burners Close, Burgess Hill, West Sussex RH15 0QA. All proceeds go to the Budiriro Trust which provides bursaries to needy A Level students in Zimbabwe

·       Workshops aiming to engage African men on HIV testing and other sexual health issues. Organised by the Terrence Higgins Trust ( Please contact the co-ordinator Takudzwa Mukiwa ( if you are interested in taking part.


Vigil Co-ordinators

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 in Zimbabwe. The Vigil which started in October 2002 will continue until internationally-monitored, free and fair elections are held in Zimbabwe:

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Pastoral Letter of the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops' Conference 2011

Click here to read Pastoral Letter of the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops' Conference 2011

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Mutasa admits soldiers’ role in politics

Saturday, 15 January 2011 19:51


MASVINGO — Zanu PF secretary for administration, Didymus Mutasa has said
soldiers are keeping the party intact, in a tacit admission that the
security forces are propping up President Robert Mugabe’s rule.

Speaking at a belated tree planting day at Mutimurefu Prison where he was
the guest of honour, Mutasa said there was nothing wrong with soldiers’
involvement with Zanu PF.

“Soldiers are just like war veterans. Our war vets are former soldiers.

“Those who say soldiers and war vets should not meddle in politics are
wrong,” he said.

“Such people are the enemies of our party. They are the ones helping to keep
our party intact.”

MDC has accused soldiers of spearheading the 2008 poll violence that killed
hundreds of its supporters and displaced thousands.

In the past the army has vehemently denied that it is heavily involved in
Zanu PF politics.

Mutasa, who started his address with the slogan, “Pamberi naPresident, pasi
naPrime Minister”, (Forward with the President, down with the Prime
Minister) also emphasised that elections would go ahead despite internal and
external resistance.

He said the party would sign a petition calling on Western countries to lift
sanctions imposed against Mugabe and his inner circle when the polls draw

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Zanu PF chefs refuse to declare assets

Saturday, 15 January 2011 19:49


SOME filthy rich Zanu PF legislators are lobbying their colleagues in the
party to desist from declaring their assets to parliament fearing that
poverty-stricken Zimbabweans would question how they acquired their vast
wealth, The Standard has been told.

Authoritative sources in the former liberation war party said there were
some senior MPs trying to influence, and in some cases threatening others,
not to declare their assets.

Several senior Zanu PF officials accumulated “obscene” wealth in the past
decade amid widespread suspicions that they were using their positions to
acquire the riches.

“They are lobbying others not to declare their assets because they fear that
they would be exposed,” said one source. “Others are registering their
assets in family trusts and in relatives’ names because they are not sure
how this crusade against corruption will end.”

Some known Zanu PF ministers have properties, ranging from multiple
residential to industrial stands, in almost every urban centre in the
country, including growth points.

Others have over five farms, which they violently grabbed from white
commercial farmers although millions of ordinary Zimbabweans remain landless
despite leading the land invasions.

Another source said the issue of asset declaration is slowly dividing Zanu
PF with those with clean hands supporting the idea.

However, those with skeletons in their closets, who constitute the majority,
are resistant to the move and determined to put spanners in the works of the
anti-corruption project.

The only senior and notable Zanu PF official who declared his assets is
Mwenezi East MP Kudakwashe Bhasikiti, who is in the party’s politburo.

Sources said there were also legislators in the MDC-T who are against the
idea of declaring their assets because they cannot explain how they got
their riches when, a decade ago, they were just paupers.

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Govt probes new car number plate tender

Saturday, 15 January 2011 19:45


THE Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), Mildred Chisi is instigating
investigations into alleged irregularities in the award of a tender for the
production of new vehicle number plates amid revelations that the price for
the plates is inflated.

Motorists, forced to pay US$160 to change to the new number plates, are
complaining that they are being fleeced by the government.

Police have also started impounding vehicles with old number plates after
the government said those that failed to meet the changeover deadline should
park their vehicles until they comply with the directive.

Defiant motorists can be fined and their vehicles impounded.

The interest by CAG in the matter is likely to re-ignite debate on the way
the issue of new number plates was handled and expose cases of corruption in
the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development, a document
obtained by The Standard has revealed.

Chisi confirmed last week that she had received reports alleging some
officials in the Ministry of Transport had a hand in ensuring that Southern
Region Trading Company, reportedly run by a South African, received the
tender for producing the number plates.

“I cannot confirm off-hand what is happening, but I received a letter
detailing corruption regarding number plates,” she said, before referring
further questions to the Transport ministry.

Efforts to get a comment from either Nicholas Goche, the Transport minister
or Partson Mbiriri, the permanent secretary, were in vain last week.
However, Mbiriri wrote an article in the state media defending government’s
heavy-handed way of dealing with motorists who missed the deadline but did
not respond to complaints that the number plates were overpriced.

The Standard has it on record that the CAG and the Anti-Corruption
Commission visited the Transport ministry investigating a number of alleged
corruption cases including abuse of funds.

It is alleged that two ministry officials facilitated that Southern Region
Trading Company receive the tender for processing the new number plates.
“The Jewish businessman (Southern Region Trading Company proprietor)
clinched the tender to supply number plates with the help of two ministry
officials,” employees at the ministry said, on the basis of anonymity.

The workers challenged their bosses to reveal how they arrived at US$160 as
the price for the set of new number plates.
An official at Southern Region Trading Company confirmed that they were
processing the new number plates, but immediately cut short the interview
when pressed to reveal more about the tender.

“Yes we are making the new number plates, but where did you get my number,”
she said, abruptly terminating the conversation.

It has since emerged that the company is at the centre of an alleged
corruption scam involving the supply of cars to the same ministry.

According to a dossier that has been sent to the Auditor General’s Office,
Southern Region Trading was in 2007 reportedly awarded a tender to supply 22
Nissan trucks to the Vehicle Inspection Department (VID) and was paid US$500

Chisi could not confirm that it was the same document in the possession of
The Standard.

It is alleged that the company is yet to supply these vehicles.

Officials at the ministry are alleged to have stalled the delivery of the
vehicles and shared the money.

As a token of appreciation, the South African businessman is said to have
employed one of the officials’ daughters at one of his companies in the
neighbouring country.

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Extortionate school fees threaten education gain

Saturday, 15 January 2011 19:37


COLLETA Moyo arrives at Hellenic School in Borrowdale with high hopes.

Her son Ishmael is due for Grade One next year and like any clever parent,
she is already hunting for a place for him.

An information officer by profession, Moyo and her lecturer husband hope
their salaries together with the money they make from running an electrics
shop in Harare will give them enough money to send their son to the elite
school and also cover other daily expenses.

Moyo’s day is however spoilt by a notice pasted on the wall at the reception
area — “Except for current siblings, places are full until 2014”.

“I thought I had missed a big chance until I enquired and they told me that
tuition fees for Grades One to Seven costs
US$1 600 per term above an acceptance fee of US$15 000,” Moyo said.

“Even if they had a million vacancies, where on earth were we going to get
that money from?”

A snap survey done by The Standard showed that education in Zimbabwe could
soon be a preserve for a few, judging from the high amounts of money being
charged by many schools.

Information from the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) indicates
that most mission boarding schools are charging between US$350 and US$400
per term while day schools are charging between US$50 and US$150 depending
on location.

Parents with children attending schools in high-density suburbs said
education was getting too expensive even for them. Some government secondary
schools in the area hiked fees from US$44 last term to US$96 this term.

While efforts to get a comment from the Zimbabwe Trust Schools Association
were fruitless, unionists blamed School Development Associations (SDCs) for
exorbitant fees at schools, saying they were pushing the poor out of the
education system.

“There is no central point where fees are regulated,” Oswald Madziva, the
PTUZ national coordinator said.

“SDCs used to serve on a voluntary basis but now many of them want
allowances for sitting and they get these from the fees.

“We also have information that some of these SDCs refuse monthly and sitting
allowances and are actually on the schools’ payroll.”

Madziva also implicated sch-ool heads, saying some of them were working in
cahoots with SDCs and getting “something”, thus completely eliminating
checks and balances in the fee structuring system.

He called for far-reaching reforms in the education sector to tame “the

Sifiso Ndlovu, the Zimbabwe Teachers Association CEO said most schools
including public institutions were now being run like profit-making
“They want the schools to be exclusive and thus hide behind standards making
it difficult for the poor to access education,” he said.

Ndlovu said government should take up its role of controlling and funding
schools to take away the burden from SDCs

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Zinwa, council bury the hatchet

Saturday, 15 January 2011 19:36


BULAWAYO — The two-year-old dispute between the Zimbabwe National Water
Authority (Zinwa) and Gwanda council has finally ended with the parastatal
restoring its main water meters.

Gwanda was refusing to pay Zinwa bills based on estimates since only two out
of the authority’s six main meters were functional.

Lionel DeNecker, the Gwanda mayor said the Zinwa meters broke down before he
even assumed office in 2008.

Last year, his council refused to settle the bills saying they were

But it seems the two bodies have reached a compromise after Zinwa started
repairing the meters.

“The issue of water meters is now in the past because Zinwa is currently
doing something on the machines,” DeNecker told The Standard last week.
Zinwa’s Umzingwane Catchment Council manager, Tony Rosen said the
restoration of the meters showed that their bills were not unreasonable.

“The council complained that we were over-charging them through estimates,
but it has been a surprise to learn that we were even under-charging them,”
Rosen said.

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Traffic cop in court for fraud

Saturday, 15 January 2011 19:35


BULAWAYO – A traffic police officer who converted fines from three motorists
amounting to US$50 was last week hauled before the courts facing fraud

Petro Shoko (36) who is based at ZRP Kezi in Matabeleland South allegedly
committed the offences in November last year while still stationed in
Lupane, the Matabeleland North capital.

He appeared before Lupane magistrate Richard Ramaboa facing three counts of

Ramaboa granted him US$100 bail and remanded him to February 10 for
continuation of the trial.

Prosecutor Tawanda Tsatsa told the court that Shoko arrested Joel Moyo, Luku
Muchirawondo and Brighton Moyo between November 14 and 28 last year for
speeding along the Bulawayo – Victoria Falls high way.

He made them pay fines of between US$10 and US$20 and used a fake receipt
book. The state would seek to prove that he pocketed the fines.

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Upsurge in Chiadzwa diamond smuggling

Saturday, 15 January 2011 19:33


THERE are reports of massive diamond smuggling in Chiadzwa after the
Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) dumped a company that used to
provide security in favour of a less experienced firm, creating a serious
security glitch at the multi-billion dollar gem fields.

Authoritative sources said after ZMDC took over mining operations from
Canadile in October last year, it subsequently absorbed Allfix Investments
to form an independent security company known as National Eye, which has
seen the appointment of inexperienced personnel to undertake security

Those absorbed from Allfix Security have since been rendered redundant after
they were relieved of their duties by the new employer.

Allfix comprised former soldiers and police officers who were employed to
provide security services at Canadile’s claims.
The sources at the controversial diamond field said the change in the
security set-up has enabled diamond dealers to take advantage of the lax
security to loot the precious gems.

The sources said some senior officials were bulldozing their way into the
fields without going through the normal security checks.

Before the change of the security set-up, they said, it was mandatory that
everyone coming out of the fields would go thorough security checks.

“I can confirm that some of the people now employed with National Eye were
taken from the streets at the passport office, some are ex-money changers
and relatives of top officials who never received security training,” said a
security guard, who has worked at the fields for more than two years.

“A lot of things are happening, security instructions are being tempered
with, no cars are allowed in the washing plant but you find cars of
officials parked inside, supposedly for transportation of diamonds and
security cameras at the sorting house and washing plant are repeatedly
frozen necessitating untraceable smuggling of diamonds.”

Reports say that diamonds worth as much as US$1 billion could have been
illegally mined at the Marange fields between 2006 and 2008.
The new guards, most of whom have no security background, are now being
touted as “Ice Cream Men” by diamond smugglers because of their

“They don’t even know where to search,” said one source. “And, those who
smuggle the diamonds are taking advantage of this security loophole.”
But ZMDC chairperson Godwills Masimirembwa claimed the leaks at the diamond
fields had been reduced after Allfix’s contract was terminated as shown by
the increase in output.

“I can confirm that right now the gem quality production has improved with
an effective 12% since we took over,” he said.

“Statistics are showing that the gem quality is now at 20% opposed to the 8%
that was being obtained before National Eye took over.

“This shows that the gems were being stolen and this explains the security
crisis that was there, reports of diamond looting are merely a conspiracy of
some of the disgruntled guards who were affected by other issues if ever
they are the ones who gave you that information.

“There will always be loopholes linked to operations of a security company
but losses made before National Eye took over were huge. Meanwhile we are
satisfied and there is a development.”

Farai Maguwu, Centre for Research and Development (CRD) director said
although his organisation had not carried out field visits in the past two
months, information reaching him indicated that looting was continuing in

“Smuggling of diamonds is continuing because we have not seen a significant
decline in diamond dealings in Mutare and Mozambique,” Maguwu said.
Research conducted by Human Rights Watch two years ago suggested that the
police and military have benefited greatly from access to Marange’s mineral

Meanwhile, a labour dispute has also erupted after the 243 guards employed
by Allfix who were absorbed by National Eye were dumped by the new employer
under unclear circumstances.

They were not paid their November and December salaries.

Through their lawyers, Machinga & Partners, the dumped guards have since
taken their case to the Labour Court for arbitration.

In the letter dated January 3 2011, the lawyers want the Labour Court to
conciliate on their unlawful termination of contracts, non-payment of
salaries and benefits as well as unfair labour practices.

“Management from Marange Resources (ZMC subsidiary) proceeded to advise our
clients orally that they should submit applications for the jobs they held
when they were still with Allfix which is rather unusual in a takeover of a
business in such circumstances,” the lawyers said.

The guards were later told to leave the fields without their November and
December salaries as well as terminal benefits.

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New radical movements expose tribal fault lines

Saturday, 15 January 2011 19:29


A quiet revolution is sweeping through Zimbabwe’s political landscape and
Matabeleland is once again at the centre of the potentially seismic shift.

If developments over the past year are anything to go by, there is every
reason to expect the region to play a leading role in influencing the
political direction in Zimbabwe.

Within a year, the region has witnessed the revival of Zapu under the
leadership of former Zanu PF politburo member Dumiso Dabengwa and last month’s
launch of the militant Mthwakazi Liberation Front (MLF).

MLF is made up of Zimbabwean exiles who for years have been waging their
struggle on cyberspace and are not making it a secret that it’s their
mission to push for the secession of Matabeleland and Midlands from the

The ascendancy of Welshman Ncube to the presidency of the smaller faction of
the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has seen some quarters claiming
that the party is now a regional project.

The question among most voters now is whether the new political formations
and the re-branded MDC will make an impact in future national politics,
given the history of Zimbabweans voting on regional lines since 1980.

Paul Siwela, who in 2002 unsuccessfully challenged President Robert Mugabe
and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai in the presidential elections, says the
new parties and MDC would never get any seat in the provinces outside
Matabeleland and Midlands.

“They are not going to get anything in Mashonaland, the people there would
not vote for them because they are identified with Matabeleland,” Siwela

“In fact the vitriol that is being directed at Welshman Ncube in the media
after he took over from Arthur Mutambara shows that Zimbabwe is a divided

“It is a colonial legacy that should be addressed.”

Siwela who ran on a federalist programme and gained 4% of the vote said
there was nothing wrong for the new parties to be confined to the region as
Matabeleland politics were unique.

Since independence the region has complained about perceived marginalisation
and the grievances were multiplied by Mugabe’s decision to deploy the North
Korean trained 5 Brigade, which human rights groups say murdered 20 000
civilians for their political affiliation.

PF Zapu led by the late Vice President Joshua Nkomo, which has Matabeleland
and Midlands as its strongholds, was forced to merge with Zanu PF in 1987 to
end the bloodshed.

Dabengwa and his group complained that the Unity Accord did little to change
Matabeleland’s fortunes forcing them to break away from Zanu PF.

“The problem is that the new parties that we have seen coming up except MLF
still talk about taking Matabeleland to Zimbabwe yet people on the ground
are now talking a different language,” Siwela said in apparent reference to
MLF’s secession rhetoric.

Brilliant Mhlanga, a UK-based Zimbabwean media scholar said Ncube’s
elevation and the rise of radical movements in Matabeleland were an
indication of significant changes in the country’s political landscape.

“It is a pointer that Matabeleland has been reawakened,” Mhlanga said.

“Ncube’s election should save as both a warning and safety device.

“Warning in the sense that people have to know that now is the time to
accept the people of Matabeleland as citizens worth considering for any
office in the land including the presidency.

“Failure to do so will further embolden, radicalise and spur the people of
Matabeleland into asking for any reasonable answer why they continue being
part of Zimbabwe when they have nothing to benefit from it.”

A number of organisations have copied the Zanu PF strategy of dealing with
the Matabeleland question by preserving posts below the presidency for
representatives from the region.

Even in MDC-T it is an unwritten rule that the position of deputy president
and either the chairman or secretary general are reserved for a
representative from Matabeleland regardless of their popularity.

This could explain the scepticism surrounding Ncube’s ascendancy and the
assumption that MDC is now a regional party.

Mhlanga believes tribal bigotry has become entrenched in Zimbabwean society
and would take a lot of work for Ncube to change the perceptions.

“What we are seeing so far is that people are now in search of a common
character,” he said. “This explains why Ncube has decided to offer himself
as a candidate even in future for the highest office in the land.

“That should be celebrated but you will note that those who are supposed to
help the society appreciate itself of having come of age are at the
forefront of demonising such a positive development.

“It is now clear that Zimbabwe is a state fully embroiled in an identity

“The major source of our problems is rooted in our fear of unity.”

The new MDC leaders also appear to be aware of the challenges that come with
Ncube’s presidency with its secretary general Priscilla
Misihairabwi-Mushonga writing saying the attack on the party after its
congress “puts a spotlight on the unresolved ethnic issues, the one party
state ideology and the adherence to peaceful and democratic transfer of

“Interestingly, the fact that the MDC-T and Zanu PF have Shona leaders makes
them national,” she said. “Is the verdict, therefore, that a Ndebele cannot
as a matter of fact be considered for president of Zimbabwe?”

Political leaders can only ignore the current agitation in Matabeleland at
their own peril, especially given that it’s taking place at a time when
South Sudan citizens appear to have successfully campaigned for the
secession of their country from North Sudan.

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Dreams come true for domestic workers

Saturday, 15 January 2011 19:27


OWNING a house is one of the most elusive dreams even for Zimbabweans who
are considered well-off.

But a group of Harare domestic workers are proving that dreams can come
true -- they have built at least 53 houses in one of Harare’s middle income
suburbs and another 163 are in the pipeline – from their measly income.

Malbereign Housing Cooperative, which has a membership of 200 people who are
mostly domestic workers has helped Dorcas Mvundura (56) punch above her
weight by building a house with her meagre salary.

Domestic workers are some of the least paid professionals in the country.

The highest paid gets less than US$100 a month and some are given as little
as US$30 by contemptuous employers.
Mavundura, who joined the cooperative in 1998, three years after it was
founded by Israel Magwenzi, a former Malbereign councillor, says she had
never dreamt of owning a house.

“This cooperative has completely changed my life,” she said. “I never dreamt
of having my own house because of the little income I get from my employer.

“I have four children and I faced a lot of challenges whenever I tried
looking for accommodation.

“The landlords would say my children are too many and this house has given
me some relief.”

Unlike other cooperatives where members are often left counting their losses
after leaders had made off with their contributions, Mvundura said theirs
had been a success because they hold regular meetings and closely monitor
how their money is spent.

Seventy four year-old Farai Chikuso who has been a domestic worker since
1980 says completing her house with the assistance of the cooperative was a
culmination of a tortuous journey.

Chikuso, a divorcee remembers times when she would move her children from
one house to another as relatives were reluctant to accommodate them.

She often rented a single room for her family and the rentals would gobble
her entire salary.
“Life can be very tough. At times I would hide some of my children in the
ware house and some of them in the garage,” Chikuso said.

“I would make sure that my boss does not see them because that was going to
be the end of my career.

She joined the cooperative in 1995 and would sacrifice Z$2 in monthly
contributions from her Z$20 salary.

In 2001 she was allocated a house in the cooperative’s Mabelreign phase one

“Although l got the house some 10 years ago at times I have a feeling that
someone might come and kick me out of the house any time,” she said with a

“It’s too good to be true.”

Zivanai Mapeno, the chairperson of the cooperative says although they faced
challenges, the commitment of members had seen them through.

“Every month each of our 215 members pays a total of $20 and that’s the
money we use to purchase building materials as well as to pay our builders,”
Mupeno said.

“At times we face problems that some our members fail to pay the monthly
contributions and the prices of some of the building materials keep going

“For example the price of cement recently went up from $US9, 50 to US$11 for
a 50kg bag and this goes against our budget.”

To ensure transparency, the cooperative audits its books twice a year.

“Ever since we started our operations in 1995 our books of accounts have
been audited,” he said.

“We will continue this because we have seen its effectiveness as we are able
to identify loopholes and it also benefits in the sense that it shows how
money is being used.

“Auditing of books is quite expensive but it’s worth it because for a
cooperative to effectively function there is need for transparency.”

The cooperative has just finished clearing a road and is currently
negotiating with the council to finance the construction of the road.

Phase one the project has 52 complete houses and 163 more would be completed
under phase two.

Harare’s housing backlog stands at a staggering 500 000 and most of the
people without houses are young professionals who for the past 10 years
could not access any mortgages because of the economic collapse.

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Fund brings cheer to Zaka West villagers

Saturday, 15 January 2011 19:24


CHARENGENO — Temperatures were soaring yet community leaders did not
hesitate to walk long distances to Charengeno school, deep in Zaka West

If you looked at the top table, you could see the crème de la crème of the
local leadership.

There was Solomon Muzenda, the reigning headman Vanyoro who led a team of
grey-haired traditional leaders. Festus Dumbu, the Zaka West Member of
Parliament was present and so was Misheck Marava, the Senator for Zaka

For a largely forgotten communal area, such high-powered representation
showed the seriousness attached to the occasion.

It was mid-afternoon on January 5 and the reason for the morale here was a
drill rig, mounted on a heavy truck, which was on its way to the rural
enclave to sink seven boreholes.

The rig, designed to drill into the underground and tap into reservoirs
where clean and safe water is located, carried the hopes of an entire
community in the drought ravaged Zaka West.

The boreholes were financed under the Constituency Development Fund (CDF), a
facility designed to meet the development needs of constituencies reeling
under lack of funding.

While donors have in the past been active in rural areas providing water and
sanitation facilities, a decade-long political crisis scared them away
leaving many development projects in limbo.

In Zaka West, where communal leaders were gathered under a tree at a primary
school, the need for clean water had always been a major cause for headaches
considering that villagers were sharing water with wild animals in Mutirikwi

And nobody here cherished carrying a bucket to the river, especially during
this season when the water is uninvitingly dark, as a result of the dirt
deposited by streams and tributaries connected to Mutirikwi.

“Once the rig arrives, we will witness the drilling of boreholes,” said a
proud MP Dumbu, much to the appreciation of the villagers.

Dumbu said the lack of clean water was a major problem for people living in
this part of Zaka and the arrival of the rig was a cause for celebration.
Though villagers had clamoured for boreholes for years under successive Zanu
PF MPs, their pleas fell on deaf ears.

But the disbursement of US$50 000 to constituencies under the CDF is set to
change their lives for good if the boreholes are properly maintained.
Dumbu announced that the community had decided the best way to utilise the
funds was to sink boreholes in those villages worst-hit by water shortages.
He admitted the boreholes were a “drop in the ocean” and more were needed in
the constituency. The need for more water sources was evident as villagers
openly argued over the location of the boreholes and others that could be
sunk in future.

“We cannot continue to have a situation where people share water from
Mutirikwi with animals. It’s unacceptable,” the MP said to loud cheers.
Because Zaka is a dry area, Dumbu said they had agreed that the boreholes
had to be drilled up to 50 metres deep.

“Nothing short of that is acceptable. We want to see an end to the perennial
problem of water shortages,” he said.
Lack of safe water has spawned many problems in Zaka.

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Zanu PF rape-victims mobilise

Saturday, 15 January 2011 19:22


SOON after the two ladies left The Standard offices, a guard observed that
they looked very smart, “monied” and businesslike.

Had they heard this, members of the Doors of Hope Development Trust would
have been flattered.

Building confidence among members and helping them to stand up and be
counted among other achievers are some of the aims of the organisation.

Formed in December 2009 to bring together victims of politically motivated
rape, the Doors of Hope Development Trust has 50 members drawn from various
parts of the country including Bikita, Zaka, Chivhu, Harare, Epworth and

They are among hundreds of MDC-T supporters violated by marauding Zanu PF
supporters and war veterans who were part of the mean machinery that was
deployed to secure President Robert Mugabe’ s re-election in the June 2008
presidential run-off election.

Mugabe who had trailed Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai in the first round
of the polls in March went on to run unopposed after his opponent withdrew
citing the deadly violence against his supporters.

The majority of the victims of the dehumanising violence are still crying
out for justice two years after a unity government was formed to end the

“We were not like this,” Margaret Mazvarira says of their polished

“There was a time when we neglected ourselves, feeling useless and thinking
the world had ended for us.
“But through interaction and counselling, we learnt of the importance of
doing all we can to look as good as any other person and that is what we are
encouraging all new members to do.

“There are some who are still failing to get out of their sorrow but we are
doing our best to encourage them.”
The organisation, in partnership with the Research and Advocacy Unit has
also come up with a nine minute film to encourage other rape survivors
countrywide to join the organisation or just share their sad experiences.

In the film titled “How About Us”, Mazvarira tells of how two men drove into
her compound in Murambinda just after the burial of her son Talent Mabika
who was petrol-bombed at an MDC rally in the area.

Pretending to be MDC officials, the two lured her into their car saying they
wanted to take her to the party’s Harare offices to discuss her son’s death,
only to turn against her at a farm before reaching the highway.

She tells of how one of the assailants held her hands together while his
colleague raped her before they sped off leaving her humiliated and ashamed
of herself.

Another victim, Rutendo Munengami tells of how uniformed soldiers broke into
her house in Glenview at midnight during the MDC’s 2003 Final Push campaign.

Apart from the group beating her up and battering her with hard objects on
her genitalia, one of the men raped her.
Intense physical abuse left her with fractured arms and another group
prevented her from getting urgent treatment at Parirenyatwa and Avenues

Another victims tells of how 10 men took turns to rape her.

All the women were told that they were being punished for supporting and
“dishing their bodies” to sell-outs. Zanu PF often accuses MDC leaders of
being sellouts.

In the film, they demand assistance, pointing out that politicians have
shared benefits of their struggle leaving them to suffer.

“We are also trying to dymystify the belief that rape victims love men,”
Munengami said.

“The attitudes we have seen in some offices where we have sought help and
also in the community show that there are some people who think that those
who get raped love men too much.

“I also saw this in the community and within the family, with someone even
having the guts to come by night and push a little letter under our door
asking my husband what he will do with a wife who has slept with Zanu PF

“Sometimes I looked at what some family members were doing, forgetting that
I became unfortunate while trying to protect my husband whom they were now
trying to separate me from.”

The organisation also facilitates counselling and treatment for members.

“But lack of funds is limiting our activities because we would like to reach
out to all rape survivors, including those who were raped outside political
spheres,” Munengami said.

“We also want to start a self-help skills training programme for members
because many of them are unemployed and you find that some of these were
infected with HIV or impregnated when they were raped.
“They help so that they can cope with their circumstances.”

Two of the survivors who give testimonies in the film disclose that they
were infected with HIV and are now on anti retroviral therapy.

Membership for the organisation cuts across ages, with some victims as old
as 70 years.
It also includes young men who were forced by political thugs to sleep with
women, some of them far much older than them.

Munengami said they were also open to all girls and women who were abused at
Zanu PF vigils.
But the women make one thing clear – justice has to prevail, all
perpetrators should be brought to book.

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A new breed of techno-savvy politicians

Saturday, 15 January 2011 19:18


WHEN Barack Obama waltzed his way to the American presidency a little more
than two years ago, it was regarded as a victory for internet social
networks, where he had been quite prominent.

Minus the oratory, Obama made extensive use of social networking sites such
as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to get his message across.

At one time, his groundbreaking speech, “A more perfect union”, where he
addressed racial differences in America, was one of the most viewed videos
on video-sharing site YouTube.

Probably taking a cue, but on a lesser scale, a number of Zimbabwean
politicians have taken to social networking in the hope of gaining an extra
edge over their rivals.

With the growth of internet penetration and the advent of mobile internet
access in Zimbabwe, observers maintain that social networking may one day
define the next Zimbabwean leader.

As with the American situation, it is argued that there is a growth in the
number of young voters who have regular access to social networking sites.

The country’s sole mobile service provider, Econet claims to have at least
400 000 subscribers on its broadband platform, while internet penetration,
rated at more than 14% is said to be among the highest in Africa.

MDC politicians like David Coltart, Nelson Chamisa, Obert Gutu, Gorden Moyo,
Welshman Ncube, Tendai Biti and Jameson Timba are among a host of
politicians with Facebook pages, while Prime Minister, Morgan Tsvangirai has
a fan page.
From Zanu PF, Tourism and Hospitality Industry minister Walter Mzembi and
Youth Development, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment minister Saviour
Kasukuwere are the only ones who maintain regular presence on the world’s
largest social networking site.

Ncube and Coltart are the only politicians who regularly post comments on
Twitter, while a number of videos have been posted on YouTube.

Renowned Zimbabwean blogger, Chris Kabwato reckons that social networking is
a great avenue for politicians, considering the number of people who have
access to the internet.

“They are an educated lower to middle class urban population,” he said of
the demographics of people who have access to the internet.

“This is a group who influence the main ideas in society.”

While acknowledging the power of social networks, Kabwato advised that an
online strategy could not supplant the strategy of mobilising people through
rallies and other media.

“You need to use a strategy that uses all forms of media from word-of-mouth
to print,” he said.

But Thamu Dube, a social media trends analyst, begged to differ, arguing
that despite the popularity of social networking sites their worth as an
electoral strategy was still distant.

“The level of internet penetration is not just the issue, there is also the
issue of slow user adoption as most people do not see the benefits of the
use of social networks,” he argued.

“So the dual effect of the lack of a reliable internet infrastructure and a
small user footprint on the greater social networking landscape by
Zimbabweans impacts greatly on the effectiveness of the politicians'
presence on their chosen platform.”

Amanda Atwood, who runs popular website Kubatana concurred, saying any
internet-using communication tactic in Zimbabwe had to be measured within
the context of Zimbabweans' limited internet access.

“It is essential that you look at a communications strategy holistically, so
if you are talking about how Zimbabwean politicians use social networking
tools, you also have to ask how they are using other ICTs, and also
traditional media, to communicate with their constituents,” she said.

On the other hand the analysts observed that the presence of Zimbabweans on
Facebook, for example, may be deceptive in the sense that most of them were
in the Diaspora and when it came to elections might not have a say in the
final result.

But Dube was optimistic, saying that it was not a lost cause and advised
ambitious politicians to continue using the platforms, as this strategy
would bear fruit in the future.

“Used as a part of a well planned strategy of engagement, politicians can
for instance use a social network site like Facebook as a point of contact
by publicising it through traditional methods of information,” he said.

Dube noted that Diaspora was a severely fragmented environment whose
interests were not homogenous, whereas the local population of internet
users could easily be targeted.

Kabwato said Zimbabwe’s internet infrastructure was growing and with people
now being able to access Twitter and Facebook on their mobile phones, social
networking will prove to have a priceless contribution in Zimbabwean

“So social networking by any politician is not in vain as long as that
person has a clear communication strategy,” he said.

Atwood added that it was important for Zimbabwean politicians to recognise
the importance of communication, with the internet audience being a key
constituency, as it was well resourced.

“Politicians could take advantage of these more resourced constituents and
leverage them to be volunteers, influence shapers or opinion makers in their
campaigns,” she said.

“But to do so they first have to stop seeing Zimbabweans as voters and start
seeing them as the people who employ them.

“They need to start valuing individual opinions, energy, contributions,
feedback and time.”

Ever so optimistic about the intrinsic value of the social networking in
Zimbabwe, Dube said the work done by the government and the private sector
in creating a robust telecommunications infrastructure will be telling for
future generations.

“Political strategists will become aware of the need to shift emphasis to
energising and engaging an increasingly younger electorate through these
technologies,” he said.

The social media analyst advised that the secret of the success of social
networking, however, lies in understanding its place in people’s lives and
applying discretion in its use,  especially for politicians where they might
run the risk of appearing to ‘try too hard’.

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Empowerment rhetoric driving away investors

Saturday, 15 January 2011 19:12


ECONOMIC Planning and Investment Promotion minister Tapiwa Mashakada
believes foreign direct investment will flourish this year although some
elements in the inclusive government are determined to frustrate efforts to
rehabilitate the economy.

Mashakada said rhetoric from some ministers pushing for ultra-nationalist
black economic empowerment had emerged as the biggest threat to efforts to
attract investment into the country.

Zanu PF says this year it would push for policies enabling locals to take
over foreign-owned companies despite opposition from its partners in the
inclusive government.

The controversial empowerment laws are set to anchor Zanu PF’s campaign
strategy ahead of elections that might be held this year.

In an interview with Standardbusiness, Masha-kada said there was an urgent
need to reign in some ministers whose utterances threaten to reverse the
economic growth path that Zimbabwe has been pursuing since 2009.

“There is a need to contain radical elements that are partisan,” Mashakada

“They are always pronouncing ultra-nationalist sentiments and
pseudo-socialist lines.

“Moreover, their rhetoric is based on hate speech and empowerment which is
not government policy.

“The year 2011 is a game changer, we have to work harder to improve our
country’s image and sovereign risk rankings,” he said.

Lately, Youth Development, Indigenisation and Empowerment minister, Saviour
Kasukuwere has made headlines advocating for the take-over of foreign
businesses that do not incorporate locals in their shareholding structures.

He recently opposed Canadian firm Whitestone Minerals’ planned listing on
the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange saying it does not comply with the empowerment
laws that stipulate that foreign-owned companies must cede 51% of their
shareholding to locals.

Mashakada said although the law was noble, it was now being abused by
individuals for “self-aggrandisement.”

Zimbabwe’s economy has registered positive growth since the formation of the
unity government two years ago.

But the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank have warned that
the growth can only be sustainable if there were far-reaching political

The economy grew by 5,7% in 2009 and 8,1% last year.  Finance minister
Tendai Biti says he expects the economy to grow by another 9,2 % this year.

Mashakada said to help sustain the growth his ministry was working on an
investor-friendly bill and other private sector initiatives to boost
industry’s productivity levels.

“The programmes, which we are formulating, are aimed at improving and
providing lines of credit to the private sector as well as an industrial
policy that protects their interests in the face of an influx of foreign
commodities’ on the local market,” the minister added.

He said his ministry would work closely with Elton Mangoma’s Energy and
Power Development portfolio to ensure that the country had enough
electricity to power its industries.

“Last year a number of energy sector investors were identified, have been
approved and will be embarking on private-public partnerships,” Mashakada

Industry players say the country’s frequent power cuts are crippling their
efforts to increase capacity utilisation.

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Chinamasa fumes over SMM probe

Saturday, 15 January 2011 19:11


THE Department of Anti-Corruption and Anti-Monopolies (DAA) is investigating
SMM Holdings, a company wrestled from businessman Mutumwa Mawere by the
government in 2004.

But this has drawn the ire of Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa who says he
should have been informed of the investigations, which he feels are

Standardbusiness heard that DAA met SMM administrator, Arafas Gwaradzimba in
November and questioned him on his appointment and past relationship with
SMM, his conduct during which he did not engage the department and the
ownership of SMM.

DAA concluded that SMM and or Mawere had not externalised funds and alleged
that the administrator had not called in members of SMM to the meeting of
creditors and members, as required by law.

In an angry letter to Jacob Gonese of the DAA, Chinamasa accused the DAA of
unnecessarily interfering with the SMM reconstruction process and “playing
the Mawere politics.

He said: “By touching on issues of externalisation and the SMM’s borrowings
from the State, the DAA is interfering with matters before the courts, which
is prejudicial.

“I cannot see why and how the DAA could still be investigating Mr Mawere
after its conclusions that have led to Mr Mawere’s despecification and
cancellation of his warrant of arrest.

“To say the least, this is totally unacceptable behavior, particularly
coming from a senior government official,” Chinamasa wrote.

Gonese’s investigations on SMM was mandated by the chief secretary to the
president and cabinet, Misheck Sibanda who in turn wanted to urgently brief
President Robert Mugabe on the state of affairs at the company.

Gonese was unavailable for comment last week.

The SMM saga has drawn interest, moreso as the closure of the mines has left
the future of hundreds of miners at stake.

The Parliamentary Portfolio on Mines and Energy has taken a keen interest on
the SMM case and on Monday summoned Chinamasa to give an update.
Chinamasa told the committee that Mawere had violated section 58 of the
Companies’ Act Chapter 190 by using export proceeds to finance the purchase
of shares in SMM and THZ Holdings.

He also told the committee that government now owns SMM after converting its
debt into equity and buying the remaining stake from SMM Holdings (UK) for
US$2 million.

He said Mawere’s Africa Resources Limited (ARL) had defaulted on its debts
and government through AMG Global Nominees which had bought the shares in
SMM Holdings (UK) and THZ Holdings (UK), the parent companies of the local

Investigations by Standardbusiness show that whereas section 58 of the
Companies Act prohibits such assistance, section 73 of the same Act does not
prohibit that as long as such assistance is given in accordance with a
special resolution of the company.

That special resolution was passed at SMM’s extraordinary general meeting of
March 15, 1996.

After paying US$2 million, AMG took the matter to the UK court to be
registered as the shareholders. The High Court threw away the case.
An appeal was made at the Supreme Court and in a landmark judgment it was
ruled that ARL alone has title to the bearer share warrants relating to SMM
Holdings Limited and THZ Holdings Limited.

It also ruled the ARL was not in default at the time of the conclusion of
the AMG agreement.

It also ruled that AMG did not, pursuant to the Share Sale Agreement dated
November 5, 2004, obtain any good title to the bearer share warrants.
Edward Chindori Chininga, the chairperson of the committee told
Standardbusiness on Friday that they will comb through the reports and if
there is plain misinformation “then there is a problem and it will be
contempt of parliament.”

Chindori Chininga said what was worrying from the SMM saga is that it has
become a personality instead of being a national issue.

“It’s now Mawere versus Chinamasa and the grass they are fighting on is
Zimbabwe,” he said.

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Commodities Exchange to boost small-scale agriculture

Saturday, 15 January 2011 19:05


THE newly-launched Commodities Exchange in Zimbabwe (Comez) is set to
regularise trading of commodities in line with market fundamentals and
increase financing availability for the agricultural sector, observers said
last week.

The development is anticipated to benefit small-scale farmers in the

Comez is an organised market place where trade, with or without the physical
commodities, is funnelled through a single mechanism thereby allowing
effective competition among buyers and sellers.

Speaking at the launch of the commodities exchange on Friday, Commercial
Bank of Zimbabwe economist, Ngonidzaishe Murota said the exchange would
provide a measure of confidence within the country’s banking sector for more
funds to be loaned to farmers.

“The use of inventory as collateral should lead to ease of access to finance
and this also lowers financing costs,” Murota said.

Murota said the banking sector had in the past been reluctant to provide
long- term loans to farmers not only because of their lack of collateral
security but also due to the country’s liquidity crunch.

“A well functioning financial sector will remain an integral component in
the operations of the commodity exchange,” he said adding that banks will
most likely be inclined to accept warehouse receipts as collateral because
they were negotiable and transferable.

In the case of agricultural commodities, trading will be on the basis of
warehouse receipts issued by the exchange operated or approved warehouses
which guarantee quality and quantity of products.

The use of the warehouse receipt system as the physical storage and delivery
mechanism is in line with global trends, also involving the use of an
electronic trading system.

Murota said that besides financing the exchange system, banks would play the
roles of executing inter-broker settlements, ensuring that strict settlement
time-lines are adhered to as well as marketing and information

National chairman of the Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe, Tafadzwa
Musarara welcomed the introduction of Comez but urged authorities to address
the debilitation of the industry’s operating environment.

“Imports have severely affected the milling industry. From 310 players we
now have only 25 who are still functional plus they are operating at 5%
capacity utilisation,” Musarara said.

He said the influx of South African imported maize meal was choking local
players out of the market as the imports can be sold at cost-recovery prices
owing to South Africa’s recurrent surpluses.

A Zimbabwe Farmers Union representative, Prince Kuipa reiterated the need
for policy consistency in terms of market liberalisation adding that
controls would ‘kill’ the system.

“There is also a need for the adoption of a legal and institutional
environment that is supportive of such a market,” Kuipa said.

The commodities market has come at a time when Zimbabwe expects to gain
economic leverage through the sale of tobacco this coming season.
Comez enables depositors to sell their grain when market conditions and
prices are favourable while eliminating the large number of intermediaries
between the farmer and the market, which had become common practice in

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