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Officials issue cautious denials over Mugabe health reports

Jan 18, 2011, 13:01 GMT

Harare - Officials in Zimbabwe have refused to confirm reports that
President Robert Mugabe has undergone emergency prostate cancer surgery in

'As far as I am concerned, the president is on his annual leave. He will be
back soon,' presidential spokesman George Charamba was quoted as saying in
Tuesday's edition of the independent daily Newsday.

The paper also quoted a spokesman for Mugabe's ZANU (PF) party as saying:
'As a party, what we know is that he is on annual leave.'

A report earlier this week in British daily The Telegraph said the
86-year-old leader had undergone examinations on the condition of his
prostate gland while on vacation in Malaysia and then returned home.

He was then forced to fly back to Kuala Lumpur for surgery after his gland
condition suddenly worsened, the paper said.

Speculation about the president's health has been growing over the past year
amid signs of increased frailty.

In February, Zimbabwean diplomats said he repeatedly nodded off while
meeting them.

Mugabe was said to have collapsed with exhaustion at last year's United
Nations general assembly in New York, while members of his cabinet have at
times complained about his lapses in concentration.

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Zanu PF anger over Mugabe health report

18/01/2011 00:00:00
    by Staff Reporters

NEW claims of President Robert Mugabe’s ill-health drew an angry response
from his Zanu PF party and spokesman on Tuesday, as Malaysia denied he had
undergone an operation on his prostate in Kuala Lumpur.

Malaysia’s Foreign Ministry reacted after a report in Britain’s Daily
Telegraph newspaper on Monday claimed Mugabe “is in hospital in Malaysia
after an operation on his prostate”.

Citing diplomatic sources, the Telegraph said Mugabe, 87 on February 21, had
undergone a "serious" operation after his prostate flared up, adding that
“within his Zanu PF party, there is confidence he will return home within a
week and recover fully.”

A Malaysian Foreign Ministry spokesman told the Malaysia Star newspaper:
“There is no indication that Mugabe is here for an operation.”
The spokesman said the Zimbabwe High Commission had also confirmed Mugabe
was not in Malaysia.

In Harare, the President’s spokesman George Charamba refused to answer
questions on his whereabouts.

“You seem to know more about the President than I do,” said Charamba. “As
far as I am concerned, the President is on his annual leave and we made this
public. He will be back soon.”

Zanu PF politburo member and Tsholotsho North MP Jonathan Moyo claimed
reports on President Mugabe’s health were an “annual ritual” for foreign
correspondents, particularly when he goes on his yearly leave.

Moyo stormed: “Who are these people, are they witches or are they Good
Samaritans genuinely concerned about the President’s health? What is it
about this time every year that they peddle this tired story?

“As much as they are interested in his health, we are interested in their
interest because it seems to be underwritten by malice. Just look back, the
record will show this happens every year.

“The President cannot have a vacation and he cannot even have an annual
medical check-up. If the President has flu, and he goes to see his doctor,
they start sneezing everywhere.

“We are sick and tired of this annual ritual. These people who have become
specialists at peddling this story must prove their lies and leave us alone.
They start a rumour and when they realise they can’t give substance to it,
they start calling us for comments, asking us to deny or confirm their
rubbish as if that is our responsibility.”

Moyo said Zanu PF’s view was that the President’s whereabouts during his
official leave was not in the public interest.

He added: “He is on leave, and where he is is not anyone’s business. The
essence of private leave is that these people who are looking for him
everywhere must not know where he is.

“They are interested in things that he is doing and things that he is not
doing. He can’t see a dentist, he can’t see a doctor and when they see him
shopping it’s a big deal as if they would rather have him without clothes.”

Mugabe has previously laughed off reports of ill-health. In secret
diplomatic cables sent from Harare in 2009, and leaked recently by
WikiLeaks, American diplomats who met with Mugabe said he “appeared to be a
vigorous 85-year-old in superb health”.

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Conclusion of constitution exercise key to holding fresh elections

By Tichaona Sibanda
18 January 2011

South African President Jacob Zuma’s roadmap towards free and fair elections
in Zimbabwe will be guided by the completion of the constitution making
process, SW Radio Africa has learned.

President Zuma’s facilitation team jetted into Harare on Monday and
immediately went into a meeting with the three co-chairpersons of Parliament’s
Constitution Select Committee (COPAC) that is spearheading the drafting of a
new constitution.

Douglas Mwonzora, the COPAC co-chair representing the MDC led by Prime
Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, told SW Radio Africa on Tuesday that the
facilitation team wanted to be updated on the process of the exercise.
President Zuma’s team comprises Charles Nqakula, Mac Maharaj and Lindiwe

“We met them yesterday (Monday) and briefed them in detail on the exercise.
We also gave them a rough time-table of when we think the program would be
done, which is 30 September 2011. We told them of the problems troubling
COPAC, including lack of resources which we said could slow down the
exercise,” Mwonzora said.

Mwonzora, who is also the MDC-T MP for Nyanga, said talk of an early
election by political leaders was placing undue pressure and influence on
people working on the draft constitution, adding that political rhetoric was
contaminating the whole exercise.

“The more leaders talk of an early election the less committed people
working on the document become. Election talk poisons the process and we
told that to the facilitation team,” he said.

Asked if Zuma’s team had set any timelines for them to complete the
exercise, Mwonzora said the team were more interested in seeing the
completion of the program.

“What they did highlight to us was that the conclusion of the constitution
exercise is key to when elections will be held in Zimbabwe,” Mwonzora added.

Zimbabwe is expected to call for fresh elections soon after the adoption or
rejection of a new constitution.

The ZANU PF party, led by the 86 year old Robert Mugabe has been calling for
early elections this year, despite confirmation that the redrafting of the
constitution will only be completed in September. The constitutional reforms
are seen by many as critical to a free and fair vote.

Mugabe’s party however endorsed his drive for early elections during its
December conference in Mutare. Political analyst Promise Mkwananzi told SW
Radio Africa that a rushed election without political reforms, including a
new constitution guaranteeing basic rights, would only favour Mugabe and
ZANU PF. Mugabe has held power since independence from Britain in 1980.

“If President Zuma is a genuine mediator he should insist on the full
implementation of the Global Political Agreement and see to it that the
constitution program is not rushed just to suit one political party,”
Mkwananzi said.

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Civil servants & government set to try avert crippling strike

By Lance Guma
18 January 2011

Disgruntled civil servants will this week Thursday meet government
representatives to see if a planned strike over salaries can be averted. SW
Radio Africa’s Harare correspondent Simon Muchemwa reported on Tuesday that
the meeting might not achieve much, after Public Service Minister Eliphas
Mukonoweshuro said the government does not have the money to satisfy union

Last week the unions flatly rejected an 18 to 26 percent salary hike as
‘paltry’ and gave the cash-strapped government one week to improve the offer
or face crippling strike action. Tendai Chikowore who chairs the Apex
Council that represents civil servants, said they were concerned about the
lack of sincerity being showed by the government towards their ‘perennial’
salary demands.

Under the government offer, the lowest paid civil servant would have been
paid US$160, up from US$128, while the highest paid would have received
US$241 per month. Union leaders however want the lowest paid worker to
receive US$500, which is roughly on par with the requirements of an average

“Our analysis is that the remuneration levels as proposed by government
constitute only 30 percent of the bread basket. This is a far cry, it is not
at par with the high expectations held by workers across the country,”
Chikowore said. According to the council the average bread basket for a
family to survive on costs is around US$505.

Meanwhile SWRA’s Muchemwa reported that the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe
released a report on Tuesday confirming a two percent increase in the bread
basket from December’s US$500 figure. Although SWRA had received no official
confirmation at the time of broadcast, the new Poverty Datum Line (PDL)
could be as high as US$510, giving unions more ammunition for their cause.

Although the government says it is cash strapped and already diverting 60
percent of its revenue to salaries, the Secretary General of the Progressive
Teachers Union of Zimbabwe Raymond Majongwe said the government should use
revenue from the sale of diamonds.
“We have diamonds in this country and revenue is rising daily. Where is that
money going?” Majongwe queried.

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Civil servants will not budge

By Chengetai Zvauya
Tuesday, 18 January 2011 17:26

HARARE - Civil servants are  digging in their heels and are determined to
down their tools if the government fails to meet their salary increase
demand within the seven day ultimatum that ends on Thursday.

Tendai Chikowore, the Apex Council chairperson, the mother body representing
civil servants said the council is eagerly waiting for the government to
give them feed back on their demand.

Government offices are still opened and fully operational with workers
attending to their duties, but expressing their disapproval of the meagre
increment they were offered.

"We are waiting for Thursday for the deadline we have given them and then we
will react depending on what could have happened. We are not going to
pre-empt to the Press what course of action we will take," said Chikowore.

''We stated our position last week and we have not changed on that and as of
now we are still waiting  to see what is going to happen to the grievance we
forwarded to government," she added.

Public Service and Social Welfare Minister Eliphas Mukonoweshuro is
scheduled to meet the civil servants leadership on Thursday to discuss the
issues of their salary increases.

Mukonoweshuro said government had no money to pay the increment that the
workers are demanding.

Last  Friday the civil servants gave government a seven day ultimatum of
their intention to strike, rejecting the paltry increases in salary they
have been awarded this month.

The trouble started when the uniformed forces went to the banks to collect
their monthly payments and realised that they had not been awarded the
increment they had been promised by Finance Minister Tendai Biti last

Civil servants housing and transport allowances were increased by between $6
and  $13, while  the uniformed forces basic salaries went up  by  between $
8 and $10 and  their housing allowances increased to $45 from $9 and
transport allowance rose to $42 from $8.

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Zim and SA authorities meet over passport confusion

By Alex Bell
18 January 2011

Zimbabwean government authorities have been meeting with officials in South
Africa this week, to try and clarify the ongoing confusion surrounding the
issuing of passports for Zim nationals trying to regularise their stay in
the country.

South African Home Affairs officials are in the process of adjudicating more
than 270 000 applications made by Zimbabweans for permits, which will allow
them to stay in the country legally. But there is lingering confusion over
how many of those applicants still need passports from the Zim government,
with figures supplied by both countries not adding up.

According to Zimbabwean authorities the country has received 58, 100
applications for passports, of which 16, 427 have been issued. In contrast,
South Africa’s Home Affairs Director General Mkuseli Apleni said on Tuesday
that, with more than 270 000 applications, “you can see the difference is

“There is therefore the assumption that if 58, 100 have applied for
passports and we in South African have received 275, 622 applications for
documentation, then the remaining applications do not have passports,”
Apleni said.

Apleni added that it was not clear if these remaining applications already
had passports before the documentation process was launched last year. But
he said that about 350 of the applications currently being processed per day
did not have passports.

The Zimbabwean government was set to give South Africa feedback on Tuesday
on a strategy to ensure people get passports.

“They will also have to tell us how those who have not yet applied for
passports can be assisted,” Apleni said.

The South African authorities last week extended its moratorium on Zim
deportations until August, setting a June deadline for the permit
applications to be processed. Apleni said on Tuesday that they were on track
to meeting that deadline, but again emphasised that “we are co-dependent
upon the Zimbabwean government to meet our deadline of 30 June 2011 to
conclude this process – this pertains to the issue of the production of

The Zim government has been fiercely criticised for its failure to issue
enough passports to its citizens in South Africa, and for refusing the
repeated offers of assistance to get enough documents printed. The situation
reached crisis point last year when thousands of Zim nationals looked set to
miss the December 31 deadline to make their permit applications, simply
because they didn’t have passports.

South African authorities were eventually forced to make some concessions in
an attempt to give as many Zimbabweans as possible a chance to regularise
their stay in the country. These included receiving applications without
passports, with Home Affairs officials accepting proof of passport
applications, in the form of receipts.

Gabriel Shumba from the Zimbabwe Exiles Forum told SW Radio Africa on
Tuesday that the Zim authorities had let people down, saying their actions
“indicate to people in the Diaspora that they (the government) don’t care
about their citizens.”

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Mnangangwa's Threats On Foreign Owned Companies Unlawful - Ncube

18/01/2011 09:38:00

Harare, January 18, 2011 - Industry and Trade Minister Welshman Ncube has
described as unlawful comments by Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa at the
weekend in which he warned foreign- owned companies that they will be forced
to reveal their stance on sanctions on Zimbabwe or risk losing 90' 'per
cent' of their shares.

Mnangangwa told a Zanu (PF) gathering at the weekend in Gweru that the CEOs
will have to be arraigned live on radio and declare their allegiance or risk
losing 90 percent of their shares which will be subsequently sold and used
to fight sanctions on Zimbabwe.

“If he said that, it’s an unlawful statement contrary to the constitution of
Zimbabwe. It’s an unfortunate statement, I hope he didn’t say it, the
inclusive government will not allow this,” said Ncube who is also the newly
elected president of the smaller faction of the Movement of Democratic
Change (MDC).

“If it was Zanu (PF) alone in government then it will have happened but it
is an inclusive government and we will not agree to personal opinions.”

He added that the statements are suggesting that, “we are an unlawful
government that accepts unlawful things. It is self evident that the
statements will undermine the efforts to create a stable economic
environment and attract investors.”

Mnangawa, a presidential aspirant, said his Zanu (PF) party will be rounding
up CEOs of foreign companies and parade them on national media to state
their positions on sanctions.

Zimbabwe has in the past meddled in the running of foreign businesses. In
2009 international beverages giant Nestle was forced to buy milk produced at
President Robert Mugabe’s Gushungo farm despite raising concerns on its

Ncube was forced to mediate in the matter after the company had closed down
operations for a few weeks. The government is currently in the process of
fine tuning an indigenisation legislation which seeks to compel all foreign
owned firms with a capital outlay of $ 500 000 and above to cede 51 percent
of its shares to foreign owned businesses.

There are about 500 foreign owned companies still operating in Zimbabwe
despite threats of takeover.

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Chinese trade facility for Zimbabwe

by Tobias Manyuchi     Tuesday 18 January 2011

HARARE – China has extended an 80 million yuan (approximately US$12 million)
facility to Zimbabwe to boost trade and economic cooperation between the
struggling southern African economy and the world’s second largest economy.

Zimbabwean Industry Minister Welshman Ncube told journalists that the
facility would be extended under three broad based economic agreements that
representatives of the two countries signed on Monday.

Visiting Chinese commerce deputy minister Zhong Shan signed on behalf of his
government while Finance Minister Tendai Biti signed for Zimbabwe.

“We had a bilateral meeting with the Chinese deputy minister of commerce in
the morning,” Ncube said. “We signed three broad based agreements through
the Minister of Finance, we received an 80 million yen grant and China has
agreed to second agricultural experts to the country.”

Ncube told journalists that the three areas of interest covered by the
agreements included increasing trade volumes between Beijing and Zimbabwe,
deepening economic and technical cooperation and agricultural exchange

Last year, cumulative trade volumes between Zimbabwe and China stood at
US$520 million.

He added that the two countries also resolved to increase trade volumes.
“Our trade with China last year amounted to US$520 million. Our objective is
to push trade to a billion dollars.”

Ncube said the Chinese delegation also expressed keen interest towards
investing in the local diamond sector.

It is estimated that Zimbabwe has potential to satisfy about 25 percent of
the world diamond demand.

“We also discussed the possibility of Chinese investment in our diamond
sector,” Ncube said, noting that investment would be centred on value
addition and new mining projects.

China has emerged as one of Zimbabwe’s most important political allies and
trading partners since 2000 when President Robert Mugabe adopted his ‘Look
East’ policy.

The policy is premised on the need to find new trading partners and markets
after traditional investors from Western nations turned against Harare in
protest over Mugabe’s human rights abuses, repression against political
opponents and violent land-grab programme.

The “Look East” policy specifically targets investors from Muslim and Asian
nations and in exchange Zimbabwe has promised minerals – including diamonds
and gold – and prime land to the investors, resulting in Harare penning
several agreements mainly with China, Russia and Iran.

But critics say there have been little results because the policy failed to
attract serious and meaningful investments to shore up Zimbabwe’s struggling
economy chiefly because the crisis-hit nation had failed to meet its side of
the deal. – ZimOnline

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Furor Over Free Presidential Farming Inputs Continues

18/01/2011 09:29:00

Hurungwe, January 18, 2011 - Police were at the weekend called here to
defuse commotion between Zanu (PF) and Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
supporters over distribution of free fertiliser and maize seed under a
Presidential farming inputs scheme.

Village sources said Zanu (PF) supporters led by one local headmaster who is
an activist called Muzenda and Clever Chambwe mobilised their supporters to
get the free fertilizer on Saturday afternoon.

"Some MDC supporters attended the function and urged that if the free inputs
scheme was from the President it should not be discriminatory. This did not
go down well with Zanu (PF) supporters who wanted it all for their
supporters," said a villager from Govera village near the growth point who
refused to be named for fear of victimisation.

It is alleged that Zanu (PF) supporters barred suspected MDC supporters and
demanded that those who wanted to benefit must produce the party cards.

However, MDC supporters did not take lightly to that resulting in a war of
words between youths of the two parties which went on for nearly two hours
before police were called in to mediate and diffuse tensions.

A junior police officer source at Chitindiva said, ’’It was highly political
and we said they must resolve their differences and share it equally among
those who were present. We could not take sides on this issue and there was
nothing criminal.’’

However another source added that Zanu (PF) card holding members were
outnumbered by those from MDC. Nearly 200 villagers eventually got a 5
kilogramme bag of Ammonium Nitrate fertilizer each.

In Karoi hospital staff abandoned patients in a rush to receive the free
farming inputs while in Sanyati it was reported that soldiers and officers
from the central intelligence office were manning distribution centres and
involved in the distribution of the free seed and fertiliser. They were
demanding Zanu (PF) membership cards.

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Cost Of Living On The Rise

18/01/2011 17:38:00

Harare, January 18, 2011—The cost of living for an urban low income family
of six has risen to US$503,40 in mid January from US$499,95 in December, the
Consumer Council of Zimbabwe said Tuesday.

The increase comes at a time salaries of workers have remained low and is
set to fuel showdown between workers and employers.

The average salary ranges between US$150 to US$200.

According to CCZ the food basket increased by 3% to US$146, 64 from US$144,
19 in December 2010. The detergents increased to US$12, 76 from US$11, 76.

“Generally, all products in the food basket have remained the same compared
to the previous month. However, there were increases in the following items:
mealie meal by 10c, cooking oil by 25c, tomatoes by 31c, onions by 30c,
cabbage by 20c, washing bars by 10c and washing powder by 20c,” CCZ said.

CCZ said it is concerned that the increase in the food basket may be
attributed to the traditional behaviour of supermarkets to increasing prices
towards the beginning of a new year with the anticipation that workers will
receive salary increments.

CCZ said the problem of change needed to be addressed urgently so as not to
inconvenience consumers who needed every cent they can have for transport
and other needs.

It said although locally manufactured products had increased on the market,
they were still not at competitive prices and levels as compared to imported

The consumer rights body said there was still a challenge in the area of
water supply where a number of households were still running dry.

“Consumers are still concerned about high utility bills which are being
received in most areas, moreso as Harare City Council has announced its
intention to increase water charges by 40% in its 2011 Budget,” it said.

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Fresh Cholera Outbreak In Bikita

18/01/2011 17:37:00

Bikita, January 18, 2011 - A fresh cholera outbreak which has seen 60 people
infected with the disease and four people dead have been reported here.

Masvingo Provincial Medical Director Dr Robert Mudyiradima said tests had
confirmed that the deaths of two children, one man and a woman from Nyika
Growth Point were caused by cholera.

"We have dispatched our health teams to assess the situation and raise more
awareness on the disease,” Dr Mudyiradima said.

He said the recent rains and a recent meeting of the Apostolic Faith members
could have contributed to the resurgent outbreak.

“I am told there was an apostolic sect meeting held near Nyika growth point.
The church gathering went for three days. The people there had no toilets
and a clean source of water.”

Dr Mudyiradima said any gathering in the district had been suspended to curb
the spread of the disease.

In 2008, 4 000 people countrywide died of cholera according to the World
Health Organization.

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Activist arrested as youth clash over ‘spies’ in Bulawayo

by Irene Madongo
18 January 2011

An MDC-T activist has been arrested in Bulawayo after a clash with a
suspected ZANU PF spy, who was apparently trying to infiltrate the party
ahead of its Congress. On Friday a different MDC-T activist was reportedly
arrested after a suspected ZANU PF infiltrator was beaten up when he was

The MDC-T in the Bulawayo province claims there is an increasing number of
people joining the party, with some new members being sent by ZANU PF to
join the party and spy on its activities, in order to cause destabilisation.

On Tuesday, SW Radio Africa correspondent Lionel Saungweme reported that a
MDC-T activist, Tsepiso Mpofu, was arrested after an alleged ZANU PF member
was beaten up for trying to infiltrate the MDC-T.

“The man approached the MDC structures, claiming he has been sent by Tsepiso
to join the party,” Saungweme explained. “Upon discovering that he was lying
and misrepresenting his statements, the MDC Youth also discovered that he
was an established ZANU PF cadre, and that did not go down with the MDC
Youth who were present, and it looked like he got a thorough clubbing.”

Saungweme said the suspected ZANU PF member then told the police that he had
been beaten by Tsepiso Mpofu, which resulted in her arrest. According to
Saungweme, another MDC activist was also arrested in Saurstown, Bulawayo,
following a similar incident last Friday.

“A ZANU PF cadre had tried to enter the structures but was detected by
members. In fact this person bought a card and went about bragging that they
managed to get an MDC card and when the MDC cadres realized they made a
mistake, they went to try to convince the ZANU PF activist to return the
card,” Saungweme said, adding that the MDC members proceeded to apprehend
him, which led to the arrest of the cadre.

Last year, there were reports that the MDC’s Harvest House sacked a number
of employees, who were alleged to be actually spying for ZANU PF. Similarly,
there is concern that the latest developments in the Bulawayo structure are
part of ZANU PF’s strategy to infiltrate the party and cause problems, ahead
of the MDC-T Congress, likely to be held before the end of May.

MP Felix ‘Mafa’ Sibanda, the MDC-T’s spokesman for the Bulawayo Province,
said on Tuesday: “We are now going to have a Congress. They are buying our
(party) cards en masse, they are sending their people, buying our cards so
that whenever there is going to be an election at district level or
provincial level, they want to be elected there. We are cognisant that ZANU
PF has sent their spies to infiltrate.”

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Zanu (PF) Militia Threatens Gokwe Council Members

18/01/2011 17:35:00

Gokwe, January 18, 2011 - Zanu (PF) militia has given the Movement
Democratic Change run Gokwe town council up to February 11 to leave office
and pave way for Zanu (PF) members or risk violent evictions.

Gokwe town council Chair Darlington Mudondo told Radio VOP on Tuesday that
Gokwe councillors were leaving in fear as Zanu (PF) militia, led by a local
notorious party leader Mike Gwasha, were visiting each councillor’s
homestead with the threatening notices.

“Gwasha and his team are saying the inclusive government is expiring on 11
February and that’s when the MDC council should also end. They are saying
that their party has been lenient to us for the past two years and come 11
February we should hand over power to them. Besides threatening the council
they are also intimidating the ordinary people warning them that terror was

“What we have realised is that they want to intimidate the electorate
starting from the MDC leadership here, and we have since told them that we
are as well prepared for anything, “he said.

MDC-T Midlands provincial Chair Cephas Zimuti confirmed that he had received
reports of Gokwe councillors being intimidated.

Zimuti said they had however not reported the case to the police as it was a
mere waste of time.

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Gweru Legislator Protests Assault Charges

18/01/2011 09:30:00

Gweru, January 18, 2011 - A Mkoba Member of Parliament here, Amos Chibaya
has applied to the Supreme Court to look into the violation of his
constitutional rights when he was detained for three days without being
taken to court after being accused of assaulting a soldier last December.

Chibaya who appeared before Magistrate Douglas Chikwekwe on Monday was
represented by Reginald Chidawanyika of Chitere and Chidawanyika law firm.
He is out on US$50 bail.

“We have applied under section 24:1 of the Zimbabwe Constitution that before
his alleged assault case goes for trial we want the Supreme Court to look
into how Chibaya was handled by the police as we believe that some of his
constitutional rights were violated,” Chidawanyika told Radio VOP.

However the state, through prosecutor Bonface Bwalamanje, told the court
that they needed time to respond.

Chibaya allegedly assaulted Lovemore Hungwe, a soldier at Mkoba 18 shopping
centre in Gweru. Chibaya was arrested together with his driver, Douglas
Mutusva who has become a state witness. The two were detained at Gweru’s
most filthy cells at Mtapa Central Police station.

Chibaya’s Lawyer had to apply to the high court to facilitate the Mp’s
appearance in court after Chibaya’s spent three days in police cells.

Chidawanyika said his client was coming from a youth forum in Mkoba 20 when
they passed through Mkoba 18 shopping centre and Hungwe provoked the MDC
youths who were in the Parliamentarian's car. He said Hungwe
was allegedly assaulted but his client was not aware who had assaulted

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Bennett’s old farm used to grow marijuana - MDC

Eyewitness News | 4 Hours Ago

Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) politician Roy Bennett’s invaded farm
in Zimbabwe’s eastern Chimanimani district was used to grow marijuana, the
party said on Tuesday.

According to the MDC Bennett’s old farm was being used to grow the illegal
substance by a war veteran who invaded it.

Bennett is no longer allowed to go back to his Pachedu farm and when he
tried to return in 2010, he was detained by police.

According to the MDC’s Givemore Muusha, the marijuana plants were hidden
between coffee bushes and in the man’s hut. He was allegedly providing the
plants to other war veterans and workers on nearby timber plantations.

The MDC paper, The Real Change Times claimed the weed-growing war veteran
was also implicated in violence against party supporters.

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Zimbabwe’s MDC Says Military Deployed in Rural Areas

January 18, 2011, 11:28 AM EST

By Brian Latham

Jan. 18 (Bloomberg) -- Zimbabwe’s Movement for Democratic Change, led by
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, said armed security services have been
deployed in rural areas around the country, calling it “a plot to inculcate
a culture of fear.”

“The MDC urges the Southern African Development Community, the African Union
and the international community to take note of the crackdown on the people
of Zimbabwe by lawless allies” of President Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe African
National Union- Patriotic Front, the MDC said in an e-mailed response to
questions from Harare today.

Mugabe is currently in Malaysia where he is recovering after an operation on
his prostate gland, the London-based Telegraph newspaper reported yesterday,
citing unidentified diplomats in Harare and South Africa. Elections are
scheduled to take place in the southern African country later this year.

Tsvangirai and Mugabe formed a unity government in February 2009 under an
agreement brokered by the SADC. It joined the MDC with Zanu-PF after a 2008
parliamentary election was won narrowly by the MDC. Tsvangirai pulled out of
the subsequent presidential election, citing violence against his

Dozens of people were injured last week when soldiers loyal to Mugabe
assaulted villagers in Gutu, a district in the southern Zimbabwean province
of Masvingo, the MDC said today. In addition, more than 30 people were
injured and shops forced to close when troops beat people in Jenjera in the
province, according to the party.

Defense Ministry

Zimbabwe’s Defense Ministry, which is controlled by Zanu-PF veteran Emmerson
Mnangagwa, didn’t answer calls to its switchboard when Bloomberg sought
comment today.

Last month, Mugabe said his party should end Zimbabwe’s coalition government
because “some are dragging their feet on elections.” Tsvangirai wants a
referendum on a new constitution before elections are held.

Mugabe also said Zimbabwe’s leadership would speak out against violence in
any forthcoming vote.

“We want to get to people that our word, our command, says no to violence,”
he told reporters in Harare on Dec. 20. “That doesn’t mean everyone will
listen to us.”

New York-based Human Rights Watch African spokesman Tiseke Kasambala said
his organization had not yet investigated the mobilization of troops in

“Naturally we are concerned, given Zanu-PF’s history of violence and the
events of 2008,” Kasambala said in a phone interview from Johannesburg

Political violence in Zimbabwe peaked in March and April 2008, immediately
before and after the disputed elections.

Zimbabwe has the world’s second-biggest reserves of platinum, after
neighboring South Africa. Rio Tinto Plc, based in London and
Johannesburg-based Anglo Platinum Ltd. operate mines in the country.

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Soldiers ‘ban’ Masvingo weekly newspaper in Gutu

By Alex Bell
18 January 2011

Media watchdog group MISA-Zimbabwe on Tuesday expressed concern that
soldiers banned vendors from selling an independent newspaper last week,
amid growing concerns that the media is once again facing a strict clamp

MISA-Zimbabwe said in a statement that soldiers from 42 lnfantry Battalion
in Gutu last Friday banned vendors from selling Masvingo province weekly
independent newspaper, The Mirror. This was apparently in connection with a
story the paper published alleging that army personnel had beaten up people
at Mupandawana growth point on Christmas Eve.

The story, which was published in the January 7 – 13, 2011 edition, was
headlined ‘Soldiers run amok’. It alleged that one soldier, Nxolise Ncube,
was arrested for beating up a policeman during the incident. According to
the article, Ncube was sentenced to one year in prison but the soldiers
claim that Ncube’s case was an ‘isolated bar brawl’.

According to The Mirror’s editor, Golden Maunganidze, vendors and news
agents were threatened by soldiers at the Mupandawana growth point on
Friday, after about 500 newspapers were delivered for circulation.
Maunganidze told MISA-Zimbabwe that the papers were immediately returned to
The Mirror’s offices. He said that the occurrence was ‘unfortunate’ as the
story was based on facts confirmed by the spokesperson for the army in the
Province, Officer Kingston Chivave.

Maunganidze said that army officials have since been in contact with the
paper to apologise for the incident and that The Mirror was back in
circulation in Gutu on Monday.

According to MISA-Zimbabwe’s State of the media report of 2010 the latter
half of last year saw an increase in the number of cases involving arrests,
assault and harassment of journalists. This has been in the wake of calls by
Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai that the nation should
prepare for elections in 2011. The group added that the “upsurge in such
cases appeared targeted at journalists working for the privately owned

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Deciphering Jonathan Moyo’s second coming

LASHIAS NCUBE - Jan 18 2011 09:34

When Jonathan Moyo was relieved of his cabinet post and booted out of
Zanu-PF in 2005, the news was greeted with a cacophony of mirth and
political schadenfreude. Understandably, the opposition and civic society
were parsimonious with their sympathy. The dictator’s most notorious
henchman had finally got his comeuppance and Moyo’s detractors savoured
their poetic revenge.

Moyo was the architect of his own downfall. His growing stature within the
party imbued him with delusions of grandeur that he started to think of
himself as a kingmaker. He was fingered as the convenor of a clandestine
rendezvous in his hometown of Tsholotsho where delegates dared to discuss
the taboo subject of succession.

If the principles outlined in the Tsholotsho Declaration adopted at that
abortive meeting had seen the light of day, Emmerson Mnangagwa would have
been elevated to the vice-presidency with a view to eventually taking over
the presidential reins from Mugabe unmolested.

Mugabe, whose preferred choice of deputy was Joyce Mujuru, the incumbent,
was positively apoplectic. Moyo paid with his Zanu-PF career while his
‘core-conspirators’ copped bans deemed commensurate with their

In a bid to prove that those involved had done nothing wrong, Moyo set about
demystifying the ‘Tsholotsho revolt’, systematically stripping it of its
cloak-and-dagger veneer. The Tsholotsho Declaration was not the spawn of a
one-off surreptitious encounter, but a series of meetings by Zanu-PF
provincial chairmen and other party functionaries, he argued. The meeting
were all above board, ergo there was no conspiracy, the erstwhile
Information and Publicity Minister said.

Moyo harboured a deep sense of aggrievement and believed that he had
unfairly carried the can for the alleged plot to oust Mugabe. As soon as his
fate was sealed, and before the ink was even dry on his letter of dismissal,
he turned on his former master and the party he used to call home with the
fury of a vengeful scorned lover. With a series of articles, Moyo launched a
vicious and sustained bare-knuckle attack on the regime, his sharpest tongue
reserved for His Excellency.

In one article, making the case for the ‘Third Way’ as a viable option for
dragging the country out of the morass it found itself in, Moyo opined that,
“that Mugabe must now go is thus no longer a dismissible opposition slogan
but a strategic necessity that desperately needs urgent legal and
constitutional action...”. He decried the president’s dictatorial
propensities, noting that Mugabe was “a rhetorical nationalist who does not
want to see democracy anywhere near him”. Another withering appraisal of the
president and his minions was prefaced with the question: “Is Robert Mugabe
an ethnic bigot masquerading as a nationalist?” Moyo’s answer to that
question was, ‘yes’.

Here was a man who was systematically incinerating his bridges. Surely there
was no way back for him now, was there? At least that’s what most of us

Back in Zanu-PF fold
Five years on Moyo was back in the Zanu-PF fold. A little over a year later,
late in December 2010, he was restored to the party’s inner sanctum, the
politburo. It is a remarkable turnaround in the political fortunes of a man,
who while wallowing in his banishment, had lamented that, “Mugabe is now
leader of a shelf political party that exists only in name”. Moyo is now
back, firmly ensconced in the party he routinely pilloried.

So, what can we glean from Moyo’s political metamorphosis and his return to
the big time?

Perhaps the most obvious observation is that Mugabe has taken the pragmatic
decision that he would rather have Moyo inside the Zanu-PF tent pissing out,
than outside the tent pissing in.

However, a vital clue to deciphering Mugabe’s motives for taking Moyo to his
bosom again is in the timing of the gesture. Bringing Moyo back in the
reckoning is a statement of intent. The Commander-in-Chief is assembling his
juggernaut for the battles on the horizon. Combining streetwise pugnacious
instincts with the intellectual wherewithal to thrive in a political
pressure cauldron, Moyo is the identikit henchman Mugabe needs to champion
his bid to reclaim swathes of political turf ceded to the opposition.

Mugabe expunging Moyo’s record is therefore not the unprecedented act of
magnanimity it has been simplistically portrayed as in some quarters.
Zimbabwe’s Dear Leader did not pluck Moyo from political ignominy out of the
goodness of his heart. He is happy to tolerate Moyo’s maverick instincts and
fast-track him back into key party structures because he is keenly aware of
the special talents the professor brings to the table.

One of Mugabe’s eureka moments as he pondered fight-back strategies in the
immediate aftermath of the chastening constitutional referendum defeat in
2000 was the appointment of Moyo as the party’s chief propagandist. Moyo
came in, blew the ashes off the dying embers before loading fresh coals into
the Zanu-PF furnace. Zanu-PF dusted itself down and Moyo would go on to
preside over the seismic shift in the country’s media landscape, ushering in
a repressive regime.

Moyo deserves grudging respect from his detractors for his part in helping
Zanu-PF reinvent itself, by means fair and foul. The suggestion that either
of the MDC factions could have done worse than try to lure him to their
ranks while he was out in the cold is not as absurd as it sounds.
Notwithstanding his well-documented vices, Moyo is a useful tool. His
Zanu-PF record speaks for itself. He is loathed for a reason.

What is clear is that Zanu-PF and Moyo need each other. By my reckoning the
party was poorer for the expulsion of arguably its most effective cadre of
the last decade. Moyo’s ruthless streak and his deviously brilliant mind
make him a perfect fit for Zanu-PF’s preferred modus operandi. Reciprocally,
a party of Zanu-PF’s historical stature, although ravaged by the
vicissitudes of time and the nefarious propensities of its leaders, is the
sort of high profile stage Moyo’s rapacious political ambitions crave.

The MDC will do well to heed the warning signs and start forging strategies
to mitigate the inevitable. A cursory survey of the lie of the Zimbabwe
political landscape suggests that Moyo is primed to reprise his role as the
regime’s enforcer-in-chief, a task he took to with some alacrity and
performed with remorseless efficiency from the day he was hired up until the
day he was fired. There will be a sense of unfinished business.

We can therefore expect, among other things, the voices of those who have
been calling for an early election -- and Moyo is one of them -- to be
amplified and the position to gain purchase within Zanu-PF. To that end, we
can also reasonably expect that there will be deliberate stirring of the
pot, with the likes of Moyo accentuating the fissures in the power-sharing
government in a bid to prove that an already uneasy coexistence has become
untenable. Talk of renewal of the power-sharing deal when it expires in
February is unlikely to gain any traction in the Mugabe camp.

The Greek philosopher Plato, pondering ways of winning the minds of the
people (propaganda), wondered “if we could contrive…some magnificent myth
that would in itself carry conviction to our whole community".

Plato’s poser above speaks to the challenge facing Moyo and Zanu-PF at the
minute. I wonder what myth they will contrive, what nationalist agenda they
will manufacture this time, around which to rally the masses ahead of the

# Ncube is the managing editor of TEAMtalk Media Group SA and writers here
in his personal capacity

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Zimbabwe in international compensation dispute

According to a report in Global Arbitration Review, Zimbabwe is facing its third claim at the Washington-based International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) arising from President Robert Mugabe’s controversial land reform program.

Swiss-controlled forestry company Border Timbers and its subsidiaries, which have operated in Zimbabwe since 1945, are bringing their claims under the Switzerland-Zimbabwe bilateral investment treaty.

The companies have as their majority shareholders members of the Swiss-German von Pezold family, who have been fighting their own claims against the state over the alleged expropriation of their commercial farms and forestry plantations.

This new case, like the cases that have gone before, focuses on the alleged expropriation of land. It also includes claims that foreign exchange was expropriated from the claimants' bank accounts, and that Zimbabwe failed to take adequate action to prevent illegal squatters from invading the forestry plantations in the east Manicaland province in 2009 and setting fire to some 7,000 hectares of land.

In a report to shareholders in 2009, Border Timbers’ chairman P W T Chipudhla said the fires that broke out on the Charter and Imbeza forestry estates were the worst “to have ever affected the timber industry in Zimbabwe” and had caused “enormous damage”. Before the arbitration notice was served, he said that efforts to remove those who caused the fires are still going on: “We continue to actively work with both the legal system, as well as the relevant authorities to urgently remove illegal squatters.”

Zimbabwe’s treatment of the von Pezolds’ investments has given rise to diplomatic tensions. In June 2010 the German embassy in Harare wrote to the government warning that Germany could withhold foreign aid contributions if the situation got worse.

ICSID registered Border Timbers’ claim on 20 December.

Like previous ICSID claimants against Zimbabwe, Border Timbers has taken counsel from the London office of Steptoe & Johnson, and Wiley Rein in Washington, DC. Zimbabwe has yet to appoint external counsel.

Border Timbers, Border Timbers International, and Hangani Development v Republic of Zimbabwe (ICSID Case No. ARB/10/25)

Counsel to Border Timbers and others

  • Steptoe & Johnson LLP

Partner Matthew Coleman and associates Helen Aldridge, Anthony Rapa and Kevin Williams in London

  • Wiley Rein LLP

Partner Charles Verrill in Washington, DC

 Counsel to Zimbabwe

  • Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General Johannes Tomana in Harare

Zimbabwe has not yet appointed external counsel.



PS: Zimbabwe became a signatory to the ICSID convention in 1991.

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