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

Talks resume Wednesday evening

By Violet Gonda
20 January 2010

The negotiators in the power sharing government finally met on Wednesday,
for the first time this year, after a number of delays caused by ZANU PF.
Welshman Ncube, a negotiator from the MDC-M, told SW Radio Africa that the
talks failed to restart at the weekend because ZANU PF negotiator Nicholas
Goche was out of the country, even though it had been agreed that the talks
would start again.

The talks were rescheduled to Monday, but Ncube said: "The agreement was
that the other ZANU PF negotiator, Patrick Chinamasa, was going to see if
their alternative negotiator, Emmerson Mnangagwa, was around so that they
would meet on Monday at 5pm. But Chinamasa phoned at around 4pm to tell us
he had not been able to get him. This meant there was no point to go to the
venue of the meeting."

Mnangagwa is said to have been in the rural areas attending the funeral of a
relative. Ncube said the earliest meeting that could therefore be arranged
was for late Wednesday. He refused to divulge the progress of the talks,
saying the negotiators had agreed not to talk to the media.

While it is understandable that the actual detail of the negotiations may
need to remain confidential, it is essential for the government to issue
regular press statement to keep people informed about the basics - where the
meeting was held, who attended etc. This is the least that would be expected
in a democracy.  But so far the government has failed to release any
official statements on these latest delaying tactics or even what the
contentious issues are and what the parties have so far agreed on.

MDC-T spokesperson Nelson Chamisa said: "The delays are a frustrating
business. We are coming to the end of our magnanimity and patience."

The three main political parties have been wrangling over the implementation
of the Global Political Agreement since they signed it in September 2008.
The MDC-T says ZANU PF has consistently violated the terms of the agreement
and they want, among other issues, the appointments of the Central Bank
Governor and the Attorney General reversed. ZANU PF is calling for the
removal of targeted sanctions and the closing down of external radio

At the time of the signing of the GPA it was widely hoped the formation of
the coalition government would come with fundamental democratic reforms -
but a year on nothing has changed and the talks appear to be stalled.

In the meantime, a delegation from the National Constitutional Assembly
(NCA), including Lovemore Madhuku the group's chairperson, met with MDC
President Morgan Tsvangirai on Wednesday to try and sort out their
differences in the constitutional reform process, which is underway.

The NCA said that that both they and the MDC-T agreed that they have major
differences over the process. The pressure group totally dismisses the
government led process, saying it is controlled by the politicians rather
than by the people.

The NCA said the MDC-T acknowledged their concerns, but appealed to them to
be objective about the content of the draft that will be produced.

In a statement the NCA said: "The NCA maintains that a defective process
will definitely lead to a defective document and will remain sceptical of
the current constitution making process. It will however continue to engage
and work closely with the MDC on other issues that will result in good
governance and democracy."

Currently the Constitutional Parliamentary Committee has delayed the
deployment of outreach teams, because they discovered that some people had
fraudulently been accredited and trained. It is reported the majority of
people who sought to fraudulently get onto the outreach teams were from the
ZANU PF Women's League.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zimbabwe PM calls for unity of purpose as constitution-drafting process stalls

APA-Harare (Zimbabwe) As the country prepared to launch public consultations
on a new constitution, Zimbabwe Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai on
Wednesday called for unity of purpose, warning that partisan politics could
torpedo the process towards the drafting of the much-awaited supreme law for
the country.

Tsvangirai castigated attempts by some "political operatives" to advance
partisan agendas but said a committee tasked to draw up the new constitution
had instituted enough checks and balances to ensure a smooth process.

"This is a national project which is about defining the destiny of the
country, about defining the values of our Government. It is not about ZANU
PF, it's not about MDC," Tsvangirai said.

Zimbabwe's constitution-making process has been rocked by differences on
procedures between Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and
ZANU PF led by President Robert Mugabe.

A major difference between the political parties has until now been on
whether to adopt as the basis of the new constitution a draft document
secretly drawn up by their officials in 2007 during South African-brokered
negotiations held in the resort town of Kariba to end Zimbabwe's crisis.

ZANU PF has been pushing for the so-called Kariba Draft to be adopted as the
country's new constitution while the MDC wanted a "people-driven" process.

These squabbles have delayed the constitution-making process which was
expected to be completed by July 2010.

The proposed new constitution is part of the requirements of a September
2008 power-sharing deal between Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister
Arthur Mutambara that gave birth to the Harare coalition government last

Once a new constitution is in place, the power-sharing government is
expected to call fresh parliamentary, presidential and local government
elections although there is no specific date when the unity government
should call for new elections.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Armed soldiers and militias force villagers to adopt Kariba draft

By Tichaona Sibanda
20 January 2010

Gun-totting soldiers are reported to be roaming villages in Masvingo and
Manicaland provinces, threatening people with reprisal if they do not
support the Kariba draft during the forthcoming constitution outreach

SW Radio Africa received reports on Wednesday that ZANU PF militias and some
headman were helping the soldiers terrorise villagers, by issuing
instructions that only submissions contained in the Kariba draft are the
ones to be forwarded to outreach teams.

In Masvingo province, villagers in Gutu West, Zaka and Chivi central have
been told to support submissions from ZANU PF, as have villagers in Makoni,
Manicaland province. In Makoni, notorious traditional chief John Lukweza, a
known ZANU PF supporter, has gone as far as threatening to eject people from
the district if they support or put forward submissions favoured by the MDC.

The constitution making process has virtually turned into a turf war between
ZANU PF and the MDC. Wilstaff Sitimere, the MDC provincial chairman of
Masvingo province, was arrested on Monday evening at his Rhodene house in
Masvingo, for allegedly telling people to ignore threats from the soldiers.

According to John Mawere, a close aide of Sitimere, the MDC chairman has
been fearless in telling people to be be free to air their views. The MDC
and his family speculate that it was this, plus the statements at a rally he
addressed over the weekend, which caused the authorities to arrest him. At
the rally he told supporters that Robert Mugabe must not be allowed to cheat
the people again.

'His arrest becomes all too suspicious because of the nature of his position
and the messages he has been spreading all across the province that people
should feel free to contribute their views to the outreach programme,'
Mawere said.

Mawere said Sitimere was transferred from Masvingo to Harare on Wednesday.
Sitimere' son, Raphael, talked about his father and what he had said at the
'He was urging villagers to stand firm and refuse to be abused by ZANU PF in
any manner. Soon after the rally last weekend, he continuously received
messages that he was going too far in insulting the president and his
office. Besides that I do not know why he was arrested.'

There were more MDC detentions in Banket in Mashonaland West province, when
two MDC councilors were detained for more than eight hours, accused of
kidnapping a former ZANU-PF local council candidate, Lancerot Zvirongwe.

Sources in the MDC said police from Chinhoyi picked up Fanni Tembo and
Emmanuel Chinanzvavana, councilors for Ward 22 and 23, after a complaint was
lodged alleging the kidnapping, which they have denied.

The ZimDiaspora website also reports ongoing MDC repression and attacks.
They report that in Gokwe in the Midlands province, MDC activist Peter
Magombedza  was on Christmas day last year beaten to death, by members of
police from Gokwe-Nembudziya.

Witnesses to the murder said that Magombedza, who was a well-known MDC
activist, was clubbed to death in broad daylight by six police officers
wielding AK 47's and baton sticks. Two of those allegedly involved in the
killing have been identified as Zvinavashe and Nzori, both Sergeants and
based at Nembudziya police station.

It has not been possible to confirm this murder and no official statement
has been received from the MDC.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Women Hold Urgent Talks As Petition on Constitution Is Dismissed

Harare, January 20, 2010 -Zimbabwean women will hold urgent talks to decide
their participation in the constitution writing process in which they are
seeking equal representation.

This follows the dismissal by the Parliament Constitution Select Committee
of their petition in which they were demanding a gender balance in the
managing of the constitution process.

Women's Coalition of Zimbabwe chairperson Emilia Muchawa told Radio VOP that
her organization was going to hold an urgent women stakeholder meeting to
consult the members' opinion.

"Our  participation in this  process  is  important because  we are  the
most  beneficiaries, but however we  are  going to convene  an urgent
meeting to  deliberate on the decision which  has been made by the
Parliament Select Committee(COPAC). It's  unfortunate  that  they have  not
yet formally communicated to us their decision to reject our petition.

"As a  membership driven organization we  need  to meet and find a common
ground, it  is  only after the meeting  when we  are  going to reach  a
decision on whether we  should participate  or  not.

"What  we are  saying is that women  representation in all  the  thematic
committees is  very  low, and  we  have  been saying  that since the  onset
of the  process, but  no one seem to bother about  our  request. Yes we
were  given the chance  to  submit names of female  members  whom we  wanted
represent us in the process but they  were  not selected. We  do  not
understand  the  criteria  they used  in selecting people to represent
organizations and that are where our query lies.

"We are not sabotaging the process but crying for gender equality," said

The Parliamentary select committee on Monday said the petition by women
organizations was not valid.

"The petition by  women organsation last week was  a political posturing on
behalf  of political  actors who  do not  seem to have the  guts to
confront  their  political parties and  organizations. As  we  see  it  the
demand is  illegitimate and driven by selfish  political motives, "said one
of the select  co-chair Douglas Mwonzora.

The consultation was  supposed  to start  this  week and has  been postponed
indefinitely following  irregularities  which emerged  in the  accreditation
of delegates to spearhead  the  outreach process last  week.

 The Women's Coalition is a coordinated network for the empowerment of women
and girls through lobbying and advocacy, capacity building, information
dissemination and resource mobilization and has  a membership  of  more than
35 women organizations in Zimbabwe.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Opponents of Zimbabwe Constitutional Revision Process Allege Bonanza for Politicians

The NCA charged that members of Parliament are getting up to $US350 dollars
a day for the use of their cars in the revision effort, which the civic
group estimates could add up to US$20,000 for each lawmaker involved

Patience Rusere and Brenda Moyo | Washington 19 January 2010

The National Constitutional Assembly has issued another broadside against
the country's ongoing process of constitutional revision, calling it a
scheme to serve financial and other interests of the political class.

The NCA charged that members of Parliament are getting up to $US350 dollars
a day for the use of their cars in the revision effort, which the civic
group estimates could add up to US$20,000 for each lawmaker involved.

The civic organization said some non-governmental organizations are backing
the process led by a parliamentary select committee to curry favor with
their Western backers in violation of their principles and values.

Long an advocate of a "people-driven" constitution for Zimbabwe, the NCA has
opposed the leadership of the constitutional revision process by Parliament,
saying a nonpolitical civic commission should direct the rewrite.

The NCA accused the co-chairmen of the constitutional select committee of
"hypocrisy" in allegedly giving the public to believe that the cars offered
by the members of parliament would be made available free of charge.

NCA Chairman Lovemore Madhuku reiterated in an interview with VOA Studio 7
reporter Patience Rusere that the process should not be led by government
officials, as politicians serve their own interests, not the people's.

VOA was unable to obtain a response from any of the three co-chairmen of the
select parliamentary committee running the revision process, which is moving
into the stage of public outreach to solicit comments and suggestions.

But Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Eric Matinenga said he
is "aware of such sentiments" and has asked the committee to look into those
allegations, adding that transparency is critical to the process.

Earlier, Select Parliamentary Committee Co-Chairman Douglas Mwonzora
dismissed reports that public consultations have been postponed.

He said that a Monday training session for facilitators was canceled, but
that the constitutional revision management committee would meet as
scheduled on Wednesday to map the next steps forward in the process.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zimbabwe PM Tsvangirai to Focus on Farm Takeovers in Review of Portfolios

Minister of State Gorden Moyo said Prime Minister Tsvangirai will consult
this week with all ministers about their portfolios, but the continuing and
often violent farm takeovers are of particular concern to him

Studio 7 Staff | Washington 19 January 2010

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai of Zimbabwe will take up the issue of farm
seizures this week with the two co-ministers of home affairs ahead of the
year's first meeting of the council of ministers, political sources said

Sources said Mr. Tsvangirai would also take up the politically charged
question with Lands Resettlement Minister Herbert Murerwa in addition to
Co-Ministers of Home Affairs Kembo Mohadi of President Robert Mugabe's
ZANU-PF and Giles Mutsekwa of his own Movement for Democratic Change

The Commercial Farmers Union has reported that soldiers have been deployed
across the country to ramp up seizures of land belonging to Zimbabwe's few
hundred remaining white commercial farmers. There were more than 4,000 white
commercial farmers when land reform began in 2000.

Minister of State Gorden Moyo, attached to the office of the prime minister,
told VOA Studio 7 reporter Ntungamili Nkomo that Mr. Tsvangirai is having
consultations with all ministers about their portfolios, but that the
continuing and often violent farm takeovers are of particular concern to

Meanwhile, Mr. Tsvangirai's MDC formation has again protested delays in the
intra-governmental negotiations intended to resolve a broad range of issues
that have troubled the power-sharing Harare government from its inception.

Political sources said ZANU-PF negotiators will put off resumption of the
talks until closer to the end of the month when President Mugabe will be
back from his annual leave and can be consulted on the most divisive issues.

The ZANU-PF negotiators are said to intend to leave all the major decisions
to Mr. Mugabe because of dissent within the former ruling party over the
extent to which the party should compromise with Mr. Tsvangirai's MDC.

ZANU-PF hardliners at the party's December congress ruled out concessions
until there is progress on lifting sanctions imposed on top ZANU-PF
officials by the European Union, the United States and other Western

Tsvangirai MDC negotiator Elton Mangoma said talks did not resume Tuesday
as hoped after the negotiations failed to restart Saturday.

VOA was unable to reach ZANU-PF negotiators Patrick Chinamasa, minister of
justice, or Nicholas Goche, Zimbabwe's transport minister, for comment.

Tsvangirai MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa told reporter Blessing Zulu that the
long slated of outstanding issues may have to be referred to the Southern
African Development Community and the African Union for arbitration.

Elsewhere, two Tsvangirai MDC local councilors were detained for more than
eight hours Tuesday in Banket, Mashonaland West province, on suspicion of
kidnapping former ZANU-PF local council candidate Lancerot Zvirongwe.

MDC sources said Chinhoyi police picked up Fanni Tembo and Emmanuel
Chinanzvavana, councilors for Ward 22 and 23, respectively, after a
complaint was lodged alleging the kidnapping, which they have denied

Police fingerprinted, took statements and warned and cautioned the two men,
who were released after MDC Mashonaland West officials located them - they
had been taken from Banket to Chinhoyi during the day.

Tembo told VOA Studio 7 reporter Sandra Nyaira that ZANU-PF was trumping up
the charges in a bid to frustrate MDC members of the Banket Council.

In another incident, police in Masvingo arrested the chairman of the
province's branch of the Tsvangirai MDC formation based on a complaint from
a man who said party official Wilstaff Sitimere owed him US$4,000.

Masvingo Urban Member of Parliament Tongai Matutu said he was shocked that a
civil dispute was politicized, leading to the arrest. The provincial party
chairman was later released, Masvingo MDC sources said.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

MDC activists arrested yet again

January 20, 2010

By Our Correspondent

HARARE - Two MDC activists, Fani Tembo and Emmanuel Chinanzvavana, were
Tuesday arrested and detained at a Banket police station in Mashonaland West
province for allegedly kidnapping a Zanu=PF supporter.MDC national
spokesperson Nelson Chamisa confirmed the incident which he said could be
part of a Zanu=PF's intimidation tactics on MDC activists.

"I can confirm that we received information pertaining to their arrest," he
said, "We have dispatched our personnel to go and ascertain the veracity of
that report."

Tembo and Chinanzvavana are MDC councilors in the farming area.

The two were also part of over 40 MDC and civic society activists including
two year-old Nigel Mutemagawu who were abducted between October and December
in 2008 only to be released in February last year.

The others including Zimbabwe Peace Project director, Jestina Mukoko and the
MDC Mashonaland West provincial Women's Assembly chairperson, Concilia
Chinanzvavana were later taken to court on charges of banditry and
recruiting MDC youths for terrorism training in neighbouring Botswana.

Said Chamisa, "Although we are yet to ascertain the substance and the
motivation behind Tembo and Chinanzvavana's arrest, one is tempted to
believe this could be part of the harassment that our members have been
subjected to over the years.

"Harassment is a weapon that has been used for quite some time. Our friends
in Zanu-PF have found utility in that unfortunate weapon."

This week alone has seen the arrest of three former abductees following the
arrest Monday of freelance photo-journalist Shadreck Andrison Manyere.

Manyere was arrested in Harare on Monday after police broke up a peaceful
demonstration organized by the pressure group Women of Zimbabwe Arise.

Manyere is currently out on bail together with six other co-accused,
including MDC officials Ghandi Mudzingwa and Chris Dhlamini.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

More alleged plotters appearing in court

January 20, 2010

By Our Correspondent

HARARE - The High Court will today hear a fresh appeal for bail by six
accused men who have been languishing in remand prison for the past three
years on allegations that they too plotted to overthrow President Robert
Mugabe through a coup. More than a dozen Zimbabweans have been arrested over
the years and charged on alleged they plotted to overthrow President Mugabe.
the accused have included mainstream MDC leader, now the Prime Minister of
Zimbabwe in the government of national unity and the late Reverend
Ndabaningi Sithole, the founding president of ZANU back in 1963. None of the
prosections has been successful so far.

The six men appearing in court today, Wednesday, who  include former army
officer Albert Matapo, filed a High Court application seeking their release
from jail. Justice Chinembiri Bhunu is expected to preside over the case
after the accused appeared before him last Thursday.

They are also challenging the constitutionality of the Criminal Law
(Codification and Reform) Act, the law which is being applied in charging
them for allegedly plotting to stage a coup against Mugabe. The Supreme
Court has reserved judgement in the matter.

The six, Matapo, Nyasha Zivuku, Oncemore Mudzurahowa, Emmanuel Marara,
Patson Mupfure and Shingirai Mutemachani were rounded up in stages beginning
May 29, 2007, in central Harare while allegedly discussing the plot to oust
President Mugabe and replace him with then Rural Housing Minister Emmerson
Mnangagwa, now Defence minister.

The State is alleging Matapo planned to become Prime Minister.

The six are represented by defence lawyer Charles Warara. One of the
founding affidavits by the alleged coup plotters states that the accused
have stayed in remand prison for an inordinately long period of time and the
presumption of innocence principle has been contemptuously undermined in the

"In observing the referred constitutional presumption, justice has failed to
prevail on me, an innocent person," says the bail application.

The alleged coup plotters are all denying the charges being preferred
against them and insist that on the day of their arrest they were discussing
plans to launch a new political party.

Prosecutors accuse Matapo, 43 now, of recruiting six others "who conspired
to plot a coup to overthrow the Zimbabwe government", according to court

Matapo, it is alleged, wanted to "recruit as many soldiers as possible to
take over the government and all camps and be in control of the nation after
which he will announce to the nation that he was in control of government
and would invite Minister Mnangagwa and service chiefs to form a government".

Another former army officer, Albert Rugowe, is accused of conspiring with
his co-accused and recruiting members of the army, the air force and the
police "to whom he gave some tasks in preparation of a coup".

Others named are serving officers, among them Capt Shepherd Maromo and
Olivine Morale, whose rank and age have not yet been established.

But defence lawyer Warara insists the State has an embarrassingly weak case.

Political commentators have expressed skepticism over the alleged coup plot,
saying it was an attempt to besmirch the reputation of Mnangagwa in a
high-stakes political game back then.

Mnangagwa, who has dismissed claims he is involved in any coup plot as
"stupid," heads one powerful faction within Zanu-PF, and is touted as a
possible successor to Mugabe.

President Mugabe has typically crushed opposition to his rule with force.
Leading opposition officials have been jailed and tortured in police
custody, sparking international outrage, condemnation and isolation of his
previous exclusive administration.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zimbabwe’s Tsvangirai Frustrated But Hopeful

Harare, January 20, 2010 - Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai says there have
been frustrations in the unity government but he is hopeful that 2010 is a
year of delivery.

He told Radio VOP in an interview: “It is eleven months after the formation
of the transitional Government and probably about 16 months after the
signing of the GPA. I am sure that it is a fact that it was not anticipated
that we go into 2010 still talking about the implementation of the
Agreement. I think that’s where the frustrating part is.”

“There are problems that we face on a daily basis, on top of the GPA. Yes,
it is maybe frustrating, but what we are saying is that in 2010 our
negotiators must clear these issues and give a final report which we can
then deal with as the Principals and then invite President Zuma to come and
adjudicate on those disputed areas so that we put a finality to the issues
of the implementation of the Global Political Agreement.”

His interview comes at a time when the mediator, South African President
Jacob Zuma has asked Tsvangirai to be flexible and “park” some issues. Zuma
is said to be currently pushing for an early election in Zimbabwe in 2011 as
a way of solving the political disputes between Zanu PF and the two Movement
for Democratic Change parties.

Progress of the unity government has stalled due to lack of agreement on
fundamental issues such as appointment of governors, the replacement of the
current Attorney General Johannes Tomana and Reserve Bank Governor Gideon

 “As far as we are concerned, we want to put all efforts in ensuring that we
deliver real change to the people,” said Tsvangirai who returned to work
this week after spending a quiet holiday with his family in Dubai. “And real
change will be in social, economic and political terms. That means
stability, progress, and development for everyone. That’s what we want to
achieve in 2010. And if we begin in those areas that should be an indication
of real change to come".

Tsvangirai, whose MDC party formed a government of national unity with
president Robert Mugabe’s ZANU PF in February last year, said the latest
spate of farm invasions was being motivated by “theft” of other people’s

“Well in this Global Political Agreement (GPA) we have always budgeted for
resistance elements that will do something that is not within the core
values of the inclusive Government and this is one of the examples. It must
be condemned. The land reform programme has been agreed to, that an audit
has to take place, that a commission will be set, that above all even the
remaining white farmers should be protected within the law, including those
covered by the BIPPA agreement with South Africa, so they should not
actually be interfered with,” said Tsvangirai.

He added: “Above all unless you are motivated by theft, how do you go in the
middle of the season to start replacing farmers, disrupting their
operations, at the end of the day you may be thinking you are disrupting the
farmer but you are actually disrupting the capacity of the country to earn
the much required income. Any right-thinking person must condemn this action
as it is totally out of sync with the thrust of Government, with the thrust
of the land reform programme, and with the thrust of the BIPPA with SA.”

His interview came at a time when one of Mugabe’s aide, Ignatius Chombo, has
been fingered amongst the top Zanu PF officials owning more than five farms
in Mashonaland West province.

This has deeply divided the party in the province after a land audit exposed
how senior politicians in the province owned more than one farm.

Sources in Zanu PF told Radio VOP that a damning land audit report prepared
by the Mashonaland provincial Lands secretary, Themba Mliswa had exposed how
the senior Zanu PF officials in the province owned more than one farm.

" A land report has exposed how senior officials in the province have been
exposed for owning more than one farm. The audit report has shown that
minister Chombo owns more than five farms in the province," the source told
Radio VOP.  "This has divided the party into two. On one side the provincial
executive led by John Mafa is pushing for the audit to be released while
Chombo and his followers are fighting to stop the report from being made

This has resulted in a group of Chombo followers expressing a vote of no
confidence on the current provincial leadership led by Mafa. Chombo is being
supported by senior Zanu PF Mashonaland province that includes Nathan
Shamhuyarira. However, Mafa has since dismissed the vote of no confidence
that was passed in the province as a "non-event and unconstitutional" adding
that he was still in charge.

Chombo was in the news last year after his estranged wife, Marian went to
the courts to demand her share of  several properties that the Local
government minister has amassed over the years. The properties include
several houses in the low and high density residential areas, stands, heavy
trucks, cars, flats, farms and tractors.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

US confirms it could end block on Zimbabwe at IMF

Jan 20, 2010, 10:30 GMT

Harare - The US embassy in Zimbabwe on Wednesday confirmed a report in the
state-run Herald newspaper that the US would not oppose the restoration of
Zimbabwe's voting rights in the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The US has since 2001 blocked funding from the IMF and World Bank to censure
the regime of President Robert Mugabe for violent suppression of political
opponents and reckless economic policies that turned the once prosperous
nation into a failed state.

The Herald quoted US Ambassador Charles Ray saying: 'We would want to assure
Zimbabwe that once the issue of restoring Zimbabwe's voting rights is put
forward for debate at the next IMF sitting, America will fully support the

Those comments signal a major shift in Washington's tough stance towards
Harare, according to diplomats.

US embassy spokesman Tim Gerhardson said that Ray, who took up his post late
last year, had added in his brief interview with the Herald that the US
would not, however, table or initiate a motion for the restoration of
Harare's voting rights in the IMF.

Diplomats said it was clear that the concession announced by Ray did not
stretch to targeted sanctions against Mugabe's inner circle, which forbids
them from entering the United States and from investing there. Most Western
governments have similar bans against top officials from Mugabe's ruling
Zanu-PF party.

The move follows repeated appeals from pro-democracy Prime Minister Morgan
Tsvangirai, partner in a unity government with Mugabe since February 2009.

Zimbabwe's economy has showed significant improvement since Mugabe's
policies were ditched but economists say Zimbabweans will remain mired in
poverty without major international assistance.

Zimbabwe lost its rights to borrow money from the IMF and the World Bank in
the late 1990s when the government fell seriously into arrears on loan

Diplomats say, however, that the US has never had to exercise its veto
against Zimbabwe borrowing, because the regime was already disqualified by
its combined arrears of 1.1 billion US dollars to the IMF, the World Bank
and subsidiary the African Development Bank.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zimbabwe's Marginalized Central Bank Said Near Collapse as Creditors Press

Financial sector sources said the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe faces bankruptcy
as it cannot meet obligations to creditors including companies and NGOs
whose funds it diverted in years past and never reimbursed.

Gibbs Dube | Washington 19 January 2010

Media reports and financial sector sources say the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe
faces bankruptcy as it cannot meet obligations to creditors who include
private companies and non-governmental organizations whose funds it diverted
under the former government of President Robert Mugabe, and never

The RBZ is said to be underfunded and to lack a substantial board of
directors to manage an acute internal crisis, a situation that has also
resulted in staggered monthly payments for its staff, sources close to the
institution said.

The terms of RBZ board members Grace Chella, Clever Mumbengegwi, Mike
Ndubiwa and Phineas Chiota ended in 2008 and they have not been replaced.

"The bank is bankrupt as its credit worthiness and credibility was once
based on a false currency that was fueled by a system of political
patronage," Harare economist Rejoice Ngwenya told VOA.

Ngwenya said that with the replacement of the debased Zimbabwe dollar by a
multiple-hard-currency monetary regimen, and with patronage curbed by the
installation of a national unity government, "we are not surprised that our
noble bank and lender of last resort is facing serious problems."

He said private companies and NGOs reportedly taking the RBZ to court were
free to sue the central bank, which diverted billions of U.S. dollars in
funds from their accounts to fund quasi-fiscal activities over the past
eight years.

The RBZ financed a broad range of government programs by printing money,
including the Productive Sector Facility Scheme, the Basic Commodity Supply
Side Intervention program, the Local Authorities Re-Orientation Program and
the Farm Mechanization and Agricultural Support Enhancement Facility.

But for other purposes such as purchasing fuel, electric power and food from
abroad, the RBZ dipped into customer accounts to tap hard currency, Reserve
Bank Governor Gideon Gono has publicly acknowledged.

The former opposition Movement for Democratic Change formation headed by
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has been pressing for Gono to be removed,
but President Robert Mugabe, who reappointed him in late 2008 without
consulting his future governing partners, has adamantly refused.

Financial sector sources said the RBZ continues to hold monetary reserves
from commercial banks as mandated by the country's Banking Act. It was not
clear to what extent this function has been constrained by its mounting

Despite the bleak picture emerging from the RBZ, Ngwenya told VOA Studio 7
reporter Gibbs Dube that Zimbabwe could function without its central bank.
He said the Ministry of Finance, which currently exercises far more
financial power than the diminished central bank, would name an interim

"As far as Zimbabwe is concerned, this is the kind of institution that we
can do without as it is an institution that symbolizes all the negatives and
all the trials and tribulations that this country has gone through," he
said, adding that "we are not going to have any weeping and mourning if it

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Maize crop under threat

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Herald Reporters

Zimbabwe faces another poor agricultural season if significant rains do not
fall over the next few days, farmers said yesterday.

Over the past few weeks, the condition of the staple maize crop across the
country has deteriorated without signs of the current dry spell ending any
time soon.

Farmers have also expressed uncertainty over how their banks will treat them
after they accessed inputs under Government's loan facility, but can now not
pay these back.

Such provinces as Midlands, Matabeleland North and South, Manicaland, and
parts of Mashonaland East and Central, and Masvingo have have been
experiencing long dry spells with some areas having last received rains
before Christmas.

Yesterday, Agriculture Minister Joseph Made said the situation "was not
rosy" due to the dry spell and the fact that farmers had experienced
problems in accessing inputs at the start of the season.

"This year farmers planted one million hectares (of maize) compared to
around 900 000 the last time.

"We are looking at how we can save this hectarage. In the northern parts of
the country moisture will continue, but it's unfortunate that we cannot say
the same about the southern parts of the country.

"A1 and A2 farmers had done very well and indeed the standards were very
high. The provinces that are of major concern are our southern provinces . .
. (including) strangely some parts of Mashonaland Central."

He said erratic electricity supplies had compounded the situation adding
that fertilizer producers had faced challenges owing to energy and water

In an earlier interview on Monday, he warned farmers against applying top
dressing fertilizer during the current dry spell as this would further
damage the maize crop.

In a normal season, most farmers would now be applying top dressing.

He urged farmers to be patient and to work closely with extension officers.

"As we approach another week of the dry spell, farmers are urged to wait a
little bit before applying top dressing. The ministry is therefore urging
farmers to work closely with their extension officers who will provide
guidance to them on what to do and when.

"Some crops might get worse if they are top dressed so farmers, especially
commercial farmers should be cautious and be patient because it is better to
delay applying fertilizer than to kill their crops."

He said farmers should avoid unnecessary further cultivation of crops as
this exposed soil to moisture loss.

The minister said they were preparing the first crop assessment covering all
the country's regions.

In some areas, farmers are reportedly thinking of replanting while others
had already done so as their first crops were now a complete write-off.

Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers' Union acting president Mr Isaiah Marapira said
replanting was not advisable as the season was too far advanced.

"The situation is bad countrywide. The season is already out in terms of
planting and there could be a disaster if it does not rain this weekend," Mr
Marapira said.

He, however, said farmers could plant sunflower and sugar beans.

Zimbabwe Farmers' Union director Mr Paul Zakariya said replanting depended
on whether significant rains would fall during the remainder of the season.

Mashonaland West farmer Mr Claudio Musina said he was already counting his
losses as he watched his crop wilt under the

dry conditions.

"Unfortunately, some of us do not have irrigation facilities and we depend
on rains. Hopefully, financial institutions will be lenient when dealing
with those who applied for input loans," he said.

Those who are beneficiaries of the input loans said they were afraid of
losing their property to financial institutions because they were not in a
position to pay back their loans.

Some observers have pointed out that the farmers could have abetted the
disaster by taking heed of the weather forecasts made last year and planned
their activities accordingly.

In July 2009, experts predicted a dry season attributable to the El Nino
weather phenomenon and advised farmers to invest in irrigation and
short-season varieties.

The Meteorological Services Department forecast normal rains for Harare,
much of Mashonaland East, Mashonaland West, Mashonaland Central,
north-eastern parts of Midlands and most of Manicaland for the first three
months of the rainy season.

Below normal to normal rains were forecast for Matabeleland North and South,
Masvingo, the greater of the Midlands and the extreme southern parts of
Manicaland and Mashonaland East.

For the period January to March normal rains were expected in Mashonaland
provinces, north-eastern parts of Matabeleland North, most of Manicaland,
northern parts of Masvingo and northern parts of Midlands.

The department predicted below normal to normal rains for most of Masvingo
and Matabeleland North, the extreme southern parts of Manicaland,
Matabeleland South and the southern parts of Midlands

Dry planting from mid-October was encouraged.

Zimbabwe has for several years experienced debilitating droughts leading to
poor harvests and food shortages.

Zimbabweans consume about 1,8 million tonnes of maize a year.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zimbabwe faces mass starvation

By KITSEPILE NYATHI NATION Correspondent  Posted Tuesday, January 19 2010 at

HARARE, Tuesday

Zimbabwe is facing massive food shortages again this year with crops already
wilting in many parts of the country due to a prolonged dry spell.

The United States funded Famine Early Warning System Network (FEWSNET), in
its latest forecast predicts that as a result of the poor rainfall and the
severe shortage of agriculture inputs, 2.2 million Zimbabweans would need
food aid.

This means that people who will need urgent food aid between January and
March has increased from the 1.7 million projected at the end of last year.

Close to half of Zimbabwe's population has depended on donors for food in
the last nine years.

But hopes were heightened following the formation of a unity government
between President Robert Mugabe and his former archrivals in February last
year that the situation would improve.

In November last year, the United Nations reduced by almost 50 percent its
request for donations to assist Zimbabwe's poor following positive changes
in the economic situation.

Aid agencies now fear the cuts in funding will see more people going without
food this year.

FEWSNET said the below average rainfall and high temperatures in  the
southern half of the country  over the past three weeks had seen most crops
wilting due to moisture stress.

"Since December, below average precipitation and above average temperatures
continue to help strengthen seasonal moisture deficits across central
Mozambique, southern Malawi, southern Madagascar and southern Zimbabwe,"
FEWSNET said in the report covering Southern Africa.

The traditional food producing areas of Mashonaland have also received below
average rainfall.

Mr Mugabe's government has already come under attack for poor planning as
farmers are still battling to access fertliser, a couple of months before
the summer cropping season comes to an end in April.

The unity government has also failed to stop the renewed attacks on white
commercial farmers by Zanu PF militants trying to push the remaining few
land owners under the previous administration's controversial land reforms.

Mr Renson Gasela, the spokesperson of the smaller faction of the Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC) said the poor season would be as a result of
poor planning and climatic factors.

"We are faced with another disastrous agricultural season," says Gasela.

"But it's a combination of human and climatic factors that are causing this

The Commercial Farmers Union (CFU), which  represents mainly the white
farmers has already forecast a poor agricultural season citing continued
invasion of white owned commercial farms as well as shortages of seed and

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

MDC slams journos’ harassment

by Hendicks Chizhanje Wednesday 20 January 2010

HARARE – Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC party on Tuesday
spoke out against harassment of journalists and said reports that a senior
police officer had threatened a reporter with death – if true – were a
violation of the 2008 power-sharing agreement that brought about the Harare
unity government.

Freelance journalist Stanley Kwenda fled the country after he was threatened
with death allegedly by a senior police officer on Friday over a story
reportedly published in The Zimbabwean newspaper.

The police officer allegedly told Kwenda on his mobile phone that he would
not survive the weekend.

MDC deputy spokesperson Tabitha Khumalo told ZimOnline that any threats and
harassment of journalists is in contravention of the Global Political
Agreement (GPA) signed in September 2008 by President Robert Mugabe,
Tsvangirai and his deputy Arthur Mutambara to establish the unity

“As a party it (threatening journalists) is unacceptable. It is in violation
of the GPA. The media must be given the latitude as long as the stories are
verified. As the MDC we believe in freedom of the press,” said Khumalo.

The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA-Zimbabwe), which described
Kwenda’s incident as a serious threat to media freedom has urged Police
Commissioner General Augustine Chihuri and the coalition government to
investigate the threat against the journalist and to guarantee his safety
before he can return to Zimbabwe.

News of Kwenda’s flight to South Africa came as police in Harare on Monday
briefly detained photo-journalist Andrison Manyere for allegedly taking a
picture of an anti-government demonstration, highlighting the hazards
confronting journalists in Zimbabwe despite formation of the coalition

Mugabe and Tsvangirai undertook in the power-sharing agreement to restore
democracy in Zimbabwe and to ensure respect for human rights including press

The former foes also undertook to reform the police and other security arms
of government to ensure they respect and uphold the rights of citizens.

But the troubled unity government is yet to move on security sector reforms
while the army and police continue to exhibit repressive tendencies. –


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Nestlé happy with Zim operations

by Hendricks Chizhanje Wednesday 20 January 2010

HARARE - Swiss multinational firm, Nestlé said at the weekend that it is
happy with progress at its Zimbabwe factory after resuming operations
following a two-week shutdown last year.

Nestlé, which has operated in Zimbabwe for the past 50 years, shut its
Harare factory last month complaining of harassment by authorities after it
stopped receiving milk supplies from Gushungo Dairy Estates owned by Grace
Mugabe, the wife of President Robert Mugabe.

But the food manufacturer resumed operations on December 31 after a top
government official reassured the firm on the safety of its staff and

In a statement Nestlé said all its operations were functioning without any

"The factory, distribution centre and head office are working under normal
conditions. We take this opportunity to thank you for your unfailing support
as we celebrate our 50 years anniversary in Zimbabwe and wish you a happy
New Year," read part of the statement.

The factory shutdown was seen by many as a setback to efforts by the
coalition government of Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai to
attract foreign investors, desperately needed to help resuscitate Zimbabwe's
battered economy.

Nestlé, which until October had bought between 10 and 15 percent of milk
processed at its Harare plant from Gushungo, stopped accepting milk from the
farm after international media coverage of the milk purchases put the firm
under the spotlight.

Some human rights groups, incensed at what they perceived as Nestlé's
support for Mugabe's controversial farm seizure programme also threatened to
call on consumers to boycott the company's products if it did not stop
buying Gushungo milk.

Grace was allocated Gushungo under her husband's chaotic and often violent
land reforms that also saw senior members of the military and Mugabe's ZANU
PF party, their friends and allies handed some of the best farms seized from

Critics say Mugabe's farm seizure programme has ruined Zimbabwe's
once-prosperous economy. The veteran President, in power since independence
from Britain in 1980, denies the charge and instead says Zimbabwe's economic
crisis was due to sanctions imposed by Western nations in response to his
land reforms. - ZimOnline.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

No power for a month, no bill: Mudzuri

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Herald Reporters

Government has directed Zesa Holdings to charge residents bills ranging from
US$30 to US$40 per month in high and low-density suburbs respectively, while
the power utility has exempted customers from paying bills if they go for a
month without electricity.

Energy and Power Development Minister Elias Mudzuri said in an interview on
Monday that he had instructed the power utility to charge US$30 and US$40
until proper bills were in place.

"I have instructed Zesa to take corrective measures to ensure that customers
get actual bills on a regular basis and the utility to charge US$30 and
US$40 for high and low-density consumers respectively until they are issued
with actual bills," said Minister Mudzuri.

He said customers were supposed to calculate the amounts they owed Zesa from
February to December last year using the US$30 and US$40 figures depending
on their areas of residence.

In a statement yesterday, Zesa said customers should not pay if they go for
a month without power.

A number of residential areas countrywide have gone for long periods - some
for six months - without electricity due to vandalism of the power utility's
distribution infrastructure.

"Zesa charges a monthly fixed charge for providing electricity to customers.
However, when customers go for prolonged periods spanning over a calendar
month for whatever reason, they should not pay for service that has not been
rendered. Where this happens, the charges will be reversed," reads part of
the statement.

Thieves have targeted Zesa copper cables and transformers, plunging many
places into darkness.

It emerged that the power utility had failed to pay a US$100 million debt to
external power suppliers due to limited revenue inflows as customers
protested against the exorbitant bills.

Zesa imports power from Eskom (South Africa), SNEL (Democratic Republic of
Congo) and Hidroelecrtica de Cabora Bassa (Mozambique).

However, the company is owed over US$200 million by its customers and
Minister Mudzuri urged people to pay their bills.

"While we might sympathise with Zesa customers, we still need the money to
run the utility and to maintain our equipment," he said.

Minister Mudzuri said all customers who fail to settle their bills in the
next three months, risked being switched off.

"If you fail to pay in two to three months, we will discontinue the
service," said Minister Mudzuri.

He admitted that some of the bills, which were being received by customers
were not correct and measures were being taken to rectify this.

Zesa said some customers refused to co-operate with meter readers, leading
to the issuance of estimated bills. Zimbabwe requires approximately 2 000
megawatts of electricity, but the country's two main power plants - Hwange
(thermal) and Kariba (hydro) - are producing an average of 1 100MW.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Measles Kills Ten In Masvingo

20/01/2010 11:53:00

Bikita - Ten infants have died of measles in the past five days, health
authorities here told Radio VOP on Wednesday.

Provincial Medical Director (PMD), Dr Robert Mudyiradima said the 10
included mostly children from the Apostolic Sect religion who are against

"A suspected Measles outbreak has killed 10 people in the Murwira area in
Bikita, about ten kilometers out of Nyika growth point. They are believed to
belong to an Apostolic Sect," Dr Mudyiradima said.

He said The Ministry of Health deployed a team of assessors Tuesday to try
and contain the disease. The disease is suspected to have spread to children
following a religious gathering by the apostolic sect members' days before.

The measles outbreak comes hard on the heels of another one in Manicaland
last December which claimed the lives of 22 infants.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zimbabwe Vigil Highlights 2009

Zimbabwe Vigil Highlights 2009

(mostly taken from the weekly diaries)

Monday 12th January

From our Press Release: “A leading Zimbabwean political activist in the UK campaigning for human rights in Zimbabwe has been taken into detention and told he is to be deported. Luka Phiri was helping organise a demonstration in London for Tuesday 13th January calling for Zimbabwean failed asylum seekers to be allowed to work in the UK.  Phiri is on the management team of the Zimbabwe Vigil. He is also a leading member of the Zimbabwe Association, a charity looking after Zimbabwean asylum seekers in the UK. Phiri entered the UK in 2003 on a Malawian passport and it is apparently for this reason that the Home Office wishes to expel him. Vigil Co-ordinator Rose Benton said “There is no doubt that Luka is a Zimbabwean but the Home Office wants to send him back to Malawi, a firm supporter of Mugabe. Malawi will send him on to Harare where he will face retribution from the Mugabe regime.”   


Tuesday 13th January

Vigil supporters joined Citizens for Sanctuary in their demonstration for Zimbabwean failed asylum seekers to be allowed to work.  A dossier of CVs collected from Zimbabweans in the UK who have skills that are going to waste was delivered to Downing Street.


Saturday 24th January

We phoned Luka who is still in detention in Dover.  The phone was passed to Jenatry at the centre of the Vigil who led a song for him. The phone was then passed around to many of his friends so he could talk to them all. Apparently the Archbishop of York’s Office contacted the Zimbabwe Association and wrote to Phil Woolas, MP, Minister of State (Borders & Immigration) Home Office, on behalf of Luka. Luka’s bail hearing is on Wednesday and we hope he will be released then.


Saturday 31st January

The Vigil bought a cake to celebrate the return of Luka who was released this week. He joked that at least he was warmer in detention.  Luka said he was deeply touched at the support he had received from the Zimbabwean community at large.  


Patson introduced the dance troupe ‘Umbane’ who, despite the icy weather, donned traditional tribal costumes and entranced us with their close harmony Zimbabwean songs and athletic dances. 


Saturday 14th February       

‘Free Roy Bennett’ (and other political prisoners) was the theme of the Vigil.  Roy was one of the people who inspired the launch of the Vigil back in 2002 and visited us when he was last released from prison, when we clothed him and Heather in our Vigil t-shirts. ‘If they can arrest Bennett, they can arrest any of us if we return’ said Patson Muzuwa of the Vigil management team. 


Saturday 21st February       

A big crowd turned out for our mock 85th birthday celebrations for Mugabe. The Vigil worked on the basis of a report in the Times saying that Mugabe’s party organisers had ordered 8,000 lobsters and 4,000 portions of caviar to be washed down by 2,000 bottles of champagne and 500 bottles of whisky. We had Vigil management team member Fungayi Mabhunu wearing our Mugabe mask and waving a Methuselah of champagne. He stood in the doorway of the Embassy with his consort Grumpy Grace (brilliantly played by Emily Gurupira), dripping with diamonds and perched on designer shoes as she scowled at the TV cameramen covering the Vigil. Afterwards she headed off to Harrods to do some shopping armed with a fat cheque from the UN.  Supporters held up posters saying ‘Mugabe spends US$200,000 dollars while his people starve’ and ‘Zimbabwean life expectancy: men 37, women 34, Mugabe 85+’. 


Saturday 7th March

Some wearing black bandanas or armbands, Vigil supporters mourned the death of Susan Tsvangirai in Friday’s road crash. Carrying placards saying “The Vigil mourns with Tsvangirai” and “More death in Zimbabwe”, we expressed our shock at the death of a much admired lady.  We were at a loss to understand how this could be an accident. There was an electric feeling of outrage, suspicion and anger.  The feelings were summed up by two big banners brought to the Vigil: “Sleeping with the enemy one was bound to be bludgeoned to death in one’s sleep. Mugabe is a murderer” and “The plot thickens in Zimbabwe. An attempt on Tsvangirai’s life and he loses his wife in a highly suspicious road accident”.


Wednesday 11th March

Several Vigil supporters attended a meeting chaired by Kate Hoey MP, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Zimbabwe, at Westminster. The speaker was Thabitha Khumalo, MDC-T MP for the Bulawayo constituency Mkokoba. She talked about how she and her constituents were trying to repair damage: filling in potholes, unblocking sewers.  She had gone into a sewer, braving the unbelievable stench, to try and unblock it. She was more successful than she expected and was suddenly drenched by a fountain of sewage! She had to travel 5 kilometres to find water to bathe in.  


Friday 20th March

Fungayi Mabhunu spoke about conditions in Zimbabwe during a visit to the Dolphin School in Battersea, south London, at the invitation of teacher Steve Garvey who had visited the Vigil.  The Year 4s have decided to take part in a sponsored event next month with all the proceeds going directly to one or two schools in Zimbabwe who desperately need it. The Year 4 teacher Mr Garvey has also decided to raise money by running the London Marathon next month on behalf of the Vigil.


Saturday 18th April   

There was considerable media interest in our Independence Day protest about the conditions in Zimbabwean prisons. Public attention was grabbed by graphic pictures of starving prisoners and bodies piled high in Mugabe’s hell-holes. Many passers-by stopped to add their names to a special petition to SADC: “A petition to Zimbabwe’s neighbours: We call upon the Southern African Development Community – as guarantors of the Zimbabwe power-sharing agreement – to put pressure on the new Zimbabwean government of national unity to stop the blatant abuse of human rights of prisoners in Zimbabwe who are dying of starvation, disease and torture.” Our protest was given added urgency by a report that cholera has begun to spread in prison.


Patson Muzuwa explained the Vigil’s demand that the prison population be reduced to a level where those incarcerated could be properly fed and housed. Otherwise we were looking at a genocide. Patson, who has been imprisoned several times for his activism, described the abuses of a gulag system in which innocent people could be completely lost to the outside world.  (Some months later the Zimbabwe government agreed to our demand for an amnesty.)


Sunday 26th April

Steve Garvey, teacher at the Dolphin School, Battersea, ran the London Marathon to raise money on behalf of the Vigil.


Saturday 23rd May

At a Vigil forum after the Vigil, supporters discussed our way forward. The overwhelming message was: we will continue until there is real change.


Saturday 6th June

The Vigil gave a great pom pom to a man who ran 26.2 miles for us.  He is Steve Garvey who ran the London Marathon in 3 hours 26 minutes to raise funds for the Vigil. Steve came to the Vigil some months ago with some of his pupils (8 – 9 year olds). Steve invited the Vigil to send someone to speak to his class and Fungayi Mabhunu took up the challenge. He spoke of the conditions in Zimbabwe and the struggles of school children there. The response was a fundraising effort which is set to raise £1100.


Saturday 13th June

There was talk that Tsvangirai would be accompanied to the UK by two Zanu-PF ministers, Foreign Minister Simbarashe Mumbengengwi and the Minister of Mines Obert Mpofu. Both of them are on the targeted sanctions list and the Vigil approached the Foreign Office to protest at granting visas to these two Mugabe cronies.


The Vigil has been assured that Mr Mpofu will not be part of the delegation.  Our assumption is that Mumbengengwi will be allowed in under a dispensation allowing for ‘dialogue’.  The Vigil does not accept the case for relaxing targeted sanctions against Mumbengengwi. But we think he makes a better companion for the Prime Minister than Tsvangirai’s niece Dr Arikana Chihombori who accompanied him to the inauguration of President Zuma.  As you may know she is an American citizen and has a large medical practice in the US where she has lived for 30 years. Nevertheless, she has seen fit to try to dispossess a Zimbabwean farmer for her holiday home.


Saturday 20th June

An extraordinary day which saw Morgan Tsvangirai stomping out of a diaspora assembly in Southwark Cathedral in south London when his speech was booed.


The Vigil was there to greet his convoy when it arrived. Displaying our banners ‘No to Mugabe, No to Starvation’ and ‘End Murder, Rape and Torture in Zimbabwe’, we danced and drummed and sang ‘To save Zimbabwe, Mugabe must go’.  The Prime Minister could not have failed to see our posters ‘Protect Human Rights Activists’, ‘Restore the Rule of Law’ and ‘End Farm Invasions’.


Our purpose was to welcome Tsvangirai but also to remind him of what people in the diaspora think needs to be done if Zimbabwe is to win the confidence of donors and investors and be a welcoming place for returning exiles. 


Tsvangirai was given a big ovation when he emerged in the cathedral after prayers and a reading from the Acts of the Apostles by Vigil management team member Gugu Tutani – ‘I have surely seen the mistreatment of my people’.


But he was jeered by the audience when he called on them to return home.  As far as they were concerned he was telling them to go back to a place with no jobs or rule of law and continuing human rights abuses.  There were chants of ‘Mugabe must go’. The much-heralded meeting ended abruptly. Despite this distraction, the Vigil outside the Embassy took place as normal. We were not surprised that Tsvangirai did not stop by on his way to a £75 a head dinner for exiled Zimbabweans.


Saturday 27th June

Vigil supporters were fired up about silly allegations on some loud-mouthed Zimbabwean exile websites that the Vigil and ROHR were behind the booing of Morgan Tsvangirai when he spoke to the UK diaspora in Southwark Cathedral last week. Anyone looking at videos of the occasion will see that the angry response was prompted by Mr Tsvangirai’s remarks and was spontaneous and could not possibly have been planned.


The meeting’s organizers, the MDC UK Executive (since suspended pending corruption investigations), also sought to blame asylum seekers, accusing them of being selfish and not being up to date with the situation on the ground in Zimbabwe – the “progress” that has been made. Well, frankly, with the abundant access to information that we have in the UK we sometimes feel that we have to tell people at home what is going on – that, for instance, the MDC Deputy Minister for Mines, Murisi Zwizwai, seems to have been co-opted by Zanu-PF in claiming that there is no evidence of killings in the Marange diamond fields.


The Vigil was followed by a well-attended Forum at which the role of the Vigil and ROHR was discussed.


Saturday 25th July

The Vigil gathered in the middle of three days of National Hypocrisy. The so-called ‘healing’ exercise announced by Mugabe failed to convince our supporters that he has any intention of reining in his thugs or allowing the rule of law.


Our supporters wanted to know when there will be justice for the oppressed and an acknowledgement of the evil perpetrated by Zanu PF. As one supporter (Brian Sibanda) said ‘what happens on day 4  . . . . back to torture?’ He was questioning Ephraim Tapa, President of our partner organisation Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe (ROHR), who told the Vigil that 15 ROHR members had been arrested in Harare today during a demonstration against Mugabe’s hypocrisy. 


After the Vigil we had a Forum at which there was a wide-ranging discussion covering the situation in Zimbabwe and the difficulties faced by Zimbabweans in the UK.


Saturday 15th August

A spectacular performance by our friends the Afro Drum Generation was the highlight of the Vigil. Dressed in traditional animal skins, their high-stepping dancing, supported by marimba and drums, entranced many passers-by. The group hopes to take part in Zim Idol, a TV talent contest to discover Zimbabwe's music stars of tomorrow.


Saturday 22nd August

An alarming picture of life under the ‘unity’ government has emerged in the wake of a mention in the Vigil diary about ‘people’s poet’ Brian Sibanda. We reported how he had brought along a banner expressing skepticism about the ‘3 days of national healing’. His take was ‘3 days peace. On day 4 bullet sent via post’ – a reference to the bullet sent to Tendai Biti.  Brian says that within days of our report (accompanied by a picture of him) appearing in the Zimbabwean, his family home in Zimbabwe was raided by 3 policemen. They compared photographs of him there with his picture in the newspaper and spoke angrily about Zimbabweans in the UK. 


Today we launched a new petition aimed at the SADC meeting in Kinshasha next month which is due to review the Global Political Agreement: ‘A petition to Zimbabwe’s neighbours: We call upon the Southern African Development Community – as guarantors of the Zimbabwe power-sharing government – to put pressure on President Mugabe to honour the agreement.  More than six months into the unity government, Mugabe is still resisting a return to the rule of law, deterring essential foreign development aid and investment.’


Saturday 26th September

A triumphant cheer with exuberant ululating greeted two members of the Vigil management team, Dumi Tutani and Luka Phiri, when they arrived at the Vigil after completing a 55-mile sponsored walk from Brighton on the south coast. Despite their exhaustion, they immediately joined in the celebratory dancing. 


The walk was to raise funds to help a Zimbabwean girl with a severe facial tumour who is coming to the UK for urgent medical treatment. The girl, Taremeredzwa Nomatter Mapungwana, is supported by the Zimbabwean charity Girl Child Network.


Dumi and Luka were greeted at the Vigil by Betty Makoni, founder of Girl Child Network, who was warm in her praise. “Because of your walk people here have now heard of our work”.


Betty addressed the Vigil about her experience as an activist on women’s issues. She said she had been forced to flee Zimbabwe because of her role in helping women victims of political violence.   Betty said rape had been used as a weapon of war since 2002 and women and their families were still being harassed and intimidated. Husbands would be taunted by the perpetrators, who believed they could act with impunity


Zimbabwe Vigil’s 7th Anniversary, Saturday 10th October

President Mugabe and first lady ‘Shopwell’ Grace were not at all happy with their Harrods experience. Two members of the Vigil (Fungayi Mabhunu and Gugu Tutani) impersonating the presidential couple went to this puffed-up shop to illustrate what will happen if the targeted sanctions against Mugabe and his cronies are lifted as demanded by Zimbabwe’s neighbours. After learning about our proposed shopping spree, a pompous Harrods PR flunky phoned us and threatened to put Attorney-General Tomana on our case. ‘You can’t come in’, she said. ‘Can we take pictures outside?’ we asked. ‘No it’s out of the question’ Harrods replied, sensitive as always to the susceptibilities of their kleptocratic clients.  Well, despite Harrods’ hoity-toity response, Mugabe and Shopwell marched boldly into the bazaar. 


One of Zimbabwe’s celebrated 15-digit  bank notes was given to Geoffrey Van Orden, Member of the European Parliament for Eastern England, who came to the Vigil to support us on our 7th anniversary. Mr Van Orden accepted our petition to hand over to the European Union calling for punitive action against SADC because of its failure to honour its commitment to ensure that the global political agreement is implemented. The petition was handed to him by President Mugabe who arrived with Shopwell by rickshaw after their Harrods expedition.


Saturday 14th November

The Vigil’s petition to the EU calling for punitive action against SADC countries was presented in Brussels this week to the EU's Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, Karel De Gucht.  It was handed over by Geoffrey Van Orden who received it at a ceremony last month to mark the Vigil’s seventh anniversary. 


Wednesday 25th November

Vigil supporters attended a meeting in London attended by Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlungu of WOZA, fresh from their wonderful reception by President Obama in Washington. Our supporters repported there was deep concern about the human rights situation in rural Zimbabwe. There was criticism that the MDC were not reaching these areas.


Saturday 28th November

The Vigil is not surprised that the MDC UK and Ireland Province has been suspended by the party’s leadership in Harare. A letter from MDC Secretary General Tendai Biti spoke of financial irregularities, poor performance and ‘disfunctionality’. The Vigil could add many other reasons. Since former Assistant Police Commissioner Jonathan Chawora was foisted on the membership going on 2 years ago, the MDC in the UK has gone steadily downhill. All its efforts have gone into fundraising but it seems Harare has seen none of the funds. Where has the money gone?  The Vigil has a good idea.  Well, the party leaders in Harare are to send an investigating committee to find out.  The Vigil can tell the committee that the disgraced UK Executive has done nothing to publicise the plight of Zimbabwe or promote the party to the British public. Instead it has devoted its energy to trying to undermine the Vigil – sometimes with veiled threats of violence


Gertrude Hambara, General Secretary of the General Agricultural and Plant Workers Union of Zimbabwe dropped in at the Vigil. Earlier in the week she had addressed the All-Party Parliamentary Committee on Zimbabwe and said the MDC needed to move into rural communities before they became ‘no-go areas’. 


Tuesday 15th December

Vigil supporters spoke to Ben Freeth at a private screening at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office of a documentary about his persecution ‘Mugabe and the White African’.  He also expressed thanks to the Vigil for our work in continuing to expose the absence of the rule of law in Zimbabwe. This award-winning film will be shown all over the world and will do much to puncture the Zanu-MDC propaganda that things are returning to normal in Zimbabwe.


Friday 18th December

Several Vigil members attended a meeting addressed by Jestina Mukoko. She expressed gratitude to the Vigil for our support when she was in prison being tortured and spoke of ‘unsung heroes’. Jestina warned that the Mugabe regime had learned nothing from her case and were continuing to perpetrate atrocities.


For Zimbabwe Vigil highlights of 2008 see link in the right hand column on the home page of our website.


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.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

2011 too early for Zim polls: analysts

by Edith Kaseke Wednesday 20 January 2010

HARARE - Zimbabwe is likely to miss a 2011 deadline to hold fresh elections
with the country's main political rivals haggling over power-sharing,
analysts said, adding that despite regional pressure for a breakthrough,
slow progress on key democratic reforms would stifle a free and fair vote.

President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai have had little
success in ending a stalemate on outstanding issues of September 2008
political deal, including the appointment of provincial governors, the
review of posts of central bank governor and attorney general and sanctions.

South African President Jacob Zuma has sought to inject a sense of urgency
in the negotiations between ZANU-PF and the Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) in a bid to end the impasse while the Southern African Development
Community (SADC) is growing weary over Zimbabwe's crisis.

"The Zimbabweans have set themselves a deadline of 2011 (for a vote). On our
side, that is a reasonable deadline," Vincent Magwenya said, Zuma's
spokesman said recently. "That's why President Zuma is quite keen to see
them implementing those agreements. They now need to move quickly."

Analysts said the self imposed deadline already faced hurdles as the
ingredients for free elections were still to be put in place.

The political analysts pointed to the on-going constitutional reform
process, which is well behind its schedule mainly because of political
differences between ZANU-PF and MDC, which are all trying to influence the
outcome of the process.

Under the original time-table, countrywide consultations over the new
constitution should ended in November last year but have yet to start,
casting doubt on whether the process would even end before the expected
elections in 2011.

Throwing spanners

"I have no doubt in my mind that this so called deadline would not be met
and the MDC will come to realise that ZANU-PF will throw spanners in the
works because it does not want to hold elections anytime soon," John
Makumbe, a University of Zimbabwe political commentator said.

ZANU-PF is deeply divided over the succession of Mugabe, who turns 86 next
month and in the sunset of a long political career, and talk of an election
will only bring the succession issue to the fore.

The political analysts said ZANU-PF's strategy was to simply stall on
reforms and make it difficult for the holding of free and fair elections or
frustrate the MDC into quitting the unity government, with the hope of
running the full five-year term.

"Forget about Mugabe's noise about early elections, that is propaganda
because he knows ZANU-PF is not ready and would lose heavily," Makumbe said.

Some of the key conditions for a fair ballot include reforming the police
and army, machinery that Mugabe has effectively used in the past to check
his opponents.

Last month Mugabe told supporters at a ZANU-PF congress that there would be
no reforms o the military, which is headed by war veterans and Mugabe
loyalists who have all but sworn never to recognise Tsvangirai as Zimbabwe's

Pillars of violence

The MDC accused the military of coordinating a violent campaign against the
opposition in June 2008 to ensure the veteran leader's grip on power
continued after a first round defeat by Tsvangirai, who has called for
urgent security reforms to depoliticise the military.

Political commentators said the pillars of violence, which Mugabe has relied
on in the past have remained firmly in place.

The former ruling party has used war veterans of the 1970s liberation war
and youth militia in the past decade to terrorise opposition members,
including killing, accusing them of being puppets of former colonial master

"When you look at it really, the structures of violence that have delivered
electoral victory for ZANU-PF have not been neutralised but have rather been
shelved for use in future so you can not say that we are on track for a free
and fair election," Eldred Masunungure, a leading political analyst said.

"The national healing process has not moved at the speed that was originally
envisaged and so you will have a situation where the culture of violence and
fear will for a long time remain pervasive and does not aid free elections,"
said Masunungure.

SADC pressure

Pressure from SADC and especially South Africa is yet to yield a conclusion
of outstanding political issues and Pretoria is growing impatient with the
Zimbabwe crisis ahead of the soccer World Cup that will be held for the
first time in Africa in June.

Zuma has also appealed on the MDC to be flexible on the issue of central
bank governor Gideon Gono and attorney general Johannes Tomana whom they
want fired because their appointments flouted provisions of the unity deal.

The South African leader also wants issues that have been agreed to be
implemented immediately, which is at odds with ZANU-PF which says
implementation should be done when all outstanding issues have been

Observers have read this as a delaying tactic by Mugabe, whom they say is
desperate to keep power to himself.

"For the sake of the people of Zimbabwe who have suffered a great deal, as
well as for the sake of stability in the region, Zimbabwe cannot be in a
permanent state of crisis," Magwenya said, echoing the mood in South Africa's
government. "The region cannot be consumed by one country for such a long

But Masunungure said the region seemed to lack the resolve to pressure
Zimbabwe's squabbling parties to end the crisis. He said: "SADC is well
positioned to break this impasse and speed up the democratisation pace but
they seem incapable and obviously the deadline for elections is very much in
doubt." - ZimOnline.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zuma playing a careful hand – Miliband

January 20, 2010

House of Commons
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Oral Answers to Questions
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
The Secretary of State was asked questions on Zimbabwe

Mr. Henry Bellingham (North-West Norfolk) (Con): When he next expects to
meet his EU counterparts to discuss EU relations with Zimbabwe.

The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (David
Miliband): Zimbabwe will be considered by EU Foreign Ministers during the
course of February, and I look forward to having discussions then. The UK
and the EU are strong supporters of the global political agreement—the
GPA—and we will continue to press for progress. We welcome the recent
agreement of the GPA signatories to establish key commissions, and we urge
implementation of that agreement.

Mr. Bellingham: I am grateful to the Foreign Secretary for that reply. Does
he agree that, although the economic news coming out of Zimbabwe is now more
promising, there are still huge concerns about human rights abuses and about
the detention of Movement for Democratic Change MPs such as Roy Bennett?
Does he also agree that the existing sanctions should not be lifted until
those issues have been dealt with?

David Miliband: Yes, I agree that numerous aspects of the situation in
Zimbabwe are of deep concern. It is right to say that, over the past year,
the economic situation has changed in a quite fundamental way, although it
is not quite right to refer to the detention of Roy Bennett as a continued
threat to him through a legal case.

In respect of sanctions, we have made it clear that they can be lifted only
in a calibrated way, as progress is made. That is something that we will
discuss. I do not think that it is right to say that the choice is between
lifting all sanctions and lifting none at all. We have to calibrate our
response to the progress on the ground, and, above all, to be guided by what
the MDC says to us about the conditions under which it is working and
leading the country.

Kate Hoey (Vauxhall) (Lab): Does the Foreign Secretary share my concern that
President Zuma of South Africa has not challenged Mugabe and the MDC fully
to carry out the terms of the global political agreement? He seems
continually to be urging compromise on the MDC.

David Miliband: President Zuma is playing a careful hand, and he is playing
it rather skilfully. The Prime Minister was able to discuss Zimbabwe, among
other things, with him at the Commonwealth conference in November. President
Zuma will be making a state visit to the UK in early March, and I have had
discussions with my South African opposite number. The position of the South
Africans has certainly been to urge adherence to the global political
agreement, which requires compromise on all sides, and I do not think that
they have been less than even-handed in the way in which they have done

Sir Malcolm Rifkind (Kensington and Chelsea) (Con): Should not all European
Union Governments recognise that Morgan Tsvangirai was right to enter into a
coalition with Robert Mugabe, if there was to be a prospect of peaceful
change? Is it not worth remembering that even Nelson Mandela entered into a
coalition with the white South African National party, and that Solidarity
in Poland entered into a coalition with the communists? They all recognised
that change has to be gradual if it is to have any chance of producing
peaceful stability.

David Miliband: No European country, to my knowledge, has condemned Mr.
Tsvangirai for the move that he made. I am not sure what the implication of
the right honourable and learned gentleman’s question was, but I hope that
it was not to question the fact that this is a transitional agreement whose
conclusion will be a proper democratic election that respects the will of
the Zimbabwean people. There was a hint in what he was saying that there is
perhaps—to echo the term used by my hon. Friend the Member for Vauxhall
(Kate Hoey)—rather more compromise with Robert Mugabe than the mood of the
House would wish. Mr. Tsvangirai’s position has been well established,
however: he has shown himself to be a man not only of principle but of
competence, and we should support him strongly.

Fiona Mactaggart (Slough) (Lab): There is one EU member country that has a
very direct effect on Zimbabwe, through the Kimberley diamond certification
process. Belgium is a member of that process. Will the Foreign Secretary
speak to his Belgian counterpart about the human rights abuses in the
diamond mines in Zimbabwe, and discuss whether it would be right to threaten
suspension of the Kimberley process in order to ensure that the human rights
of people working in the diamond mines are protected?

David Miliband: As it happens, I now have another new Belgian opposite
number in the new Belgian Government. I spoke to him at the end of last
week. I will be happy to talk to him about a range of issues, including
Zimbabwe, when I next meet him.

Mr. Keith Simpson (Mid-Norfolk) (Con): The Foreign Secretary has talked
about specific EU targeted sanctions, and said that they should be
calibrated. Will he explain which of the current EU sanctions are really
having an effect and encouraging Zanu-PF to move towards removing the human
rights abuses that have been in place for so long?

David Miliband: The honourable gentleman will know that a range of EU
sanctions is in place. Some of them refer to individuals, others to
so-called parastatal organisations. Different sanctions have been brought in
at different points, and different sanctions are the responsibility of
different ministries in the Zimbabwean system.

Some are controlled by the MDC. I would be happy to give the honourable
gentleman a more detailed answer, but I think that it might detain the House
beyond the time available for the question. I believe that EU sanctions have
helped to send a strong message, and that they have had a practical effect
without hurting the Zimbabwean people, which would have been a sanction too

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

The Tenacity of Zimbabwe's Rape Survivors

January 19, 2010 - 3:10pm

In the new documentary titled "Tapestries of Hope" the rape survivors of
Zimbabwe come across the screen showing their fortitude and strong spirits.
The creators of the website, The WIP, hosted a special screening of the
documentary last year with director/producer Michaelene Cristini Risley in
attendance, along with the documentary's main subject Betty Makoni, founder
of the Girl Child Network (GCN).

WIP writer Jessica Mosby spoke with Risley about the film. All of the rape
survivors - some as young as three years old - are victims of sexual abuse,
motivated in great part by the belief that having sex with a virgin will
cure a man of HIV/AIDS. Zimbabwe's traditional healers propagate the myth
about the healing powers of virgin blood, common throughout Africa.

Young rape survivors in Zimbabwe are ostracized by their families.
Tragically many get AIDS and become pregnant by their rapists.
According to Mosby, life for women in Zimbabwe "is a constant barrage of
abuse and obstacles." Female circumcision is "socially accepted and
widespread. Basic necessities like new underwear and menstruation supplies
are considered luxuries; monthly menstruation is so debilitating that it
keeps many girls out of school because they lack necessary provisions."
Mosby goes on to say that Makoni and the girls at GCN are representative of
the power of hope and perseverance.
Director Risley sees a bright future for these girls. She is working on two
pieces of legislation: the first is The International Violence Against Women
Act, and the second involves legislation that will put money in NGO hands,
as opposed to the government. That money would provide support that can help
women and children.
Risley wants viewers of the movie to walk away from it feeling that they can
do something positive , such as calling their representatives to demand that
the Violence Against Women Act be passed by the U.S. (It has not been
ratified.) But she definitely wants viewers to witness the girls' tenacity
and their strength.

On another note, the UN Population Front (UNFPA) is prioritizing assistance
to pregnant women in Haiti in all areas affected by that horrendous
earthquake (that's a pretty large area). Haiti has one of the highest rates
of maternal deaths in the region. According to the UNFPA, one-quarter of the
impacted population are women of childbearing age. The maternal death rate
in this small country is 670 deaths per 100,000 live births.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

ZCTF Report - January 2010

14th January 2010
We would like to wish everyone a happy and prosperous 2010.
On the 21st of December, we went to Kariba and stayed at Nzou Lodges, close to the NAU Charara site where the infamous party takes place. We never take a radio or a TV there because it seems almost sacrilegious to disturb the peacefulness and natural silence of the bush with music. Until the 29th of December, there were very few people there and it was wonderful to sit quietly listening to the beautiful sounds of nature. We were very lucky because there was a herd of 11 bull elephants in the vicinity for the duration of our stay and every night, we were treated to a visit from one or two of these majestic beasts, walking right past our cottage.
Then on the 30th of December, the peacefulness was abruptly shattered. The disco was set up in Charara and the party-goers starting arriving. Cars, motor bikes and quad bikes were screaming up and down the dirt roads and the silence was replaced with the continuous thump-thumping of music emmanating from the disco, the cottages and the cars. Pick-ups loaded to the hilt with teenagers, waving drinks in the air, shouting and cheering, drove recklessly past the elephants and the hippos.
 On New Year's Eve, we arranged for a young ZCTF member to  attend the party. He reported that the ages of the party-goers ranged from about 13 to 18 and children who were obviously much younger than 18 were buying alcohol from the bar. He could smell the unmistakable aroma of marujana and in the early hours of the 1st of January, many of these young people were sprawled all over the ground in a semi-comatose state. He saw one young couple copulating in the dirt behind a car, in full view of people walking by. At midnight, fireworks were set off, in blatant disregard of the signs at the entrance of Charara "Strictly no fireworks." We were deeply saddened by this total lack of respect for the wildlife.
According to our member, a police detail was present but they did practically nothing. They sprang into action once when a fight broke out but otherwise remained inconspicuously in the background. They were not in the least concerned about the ages of the children buying alcohol or about the setting off of fireworks.
We noticed a change in the behaviour of the 11 elephants. They seemed to be aggravated and confused, flapping their ears and trumpeting. We watched anxiously from a distance as one bull mock-charged a car full of youngsters, knowing that if he had carried out the charge, somebody could have been hurt or killed and then the elephant would have been classified as a problem animal and shot.
We have tried to put a stop to this party or at least to have it moved to a location closer to Kariba town, away from the main wildlife preserve and we will carry on trying. The problem is, the party is a money spinner for the organizers, the National Anglers' Union who obviously feel that making money takes priority over everything else. It may surprise them to know that some things are more important than money.
We have received a report from a disgusted South Africa tourist who spent 3 weeks in Charara just before Christmas. He was fishing in Charara watching 2 buffalo grazing contentedly when suddenly, a contingent of National Parks staff members appeared in a landrover and shot them, in full view of the tourist.
He reported the matter to the Charara National Parks officials who nervously told him that they had instructions from officials in Harare "to get meat to the fat cats there."
On his way back to Harare, he stopped behind a National Parks landrover at a road block. The landrover was full of fresh meat, some of which was given to the police manning the road block.
According to Charara residents, last year there were 96 buffalo in the Charara area and at the last count 2 weeks ago, there are only 65 left.
We are trying to raise funds to buy a 250cc off-road motor bike for Steve Kok to help with his anti poaching patrols in Charara. If anyone is selling a bike, please contact us.
Over the past 10 years, we have been circulating reports about the decimation of the wildlife in Zimbabwe and in so doing, we have been accused of sensationalism, alarmism, exaggeration, being an "enemy of the state" and even downright lying. We have stated several times in the past that once most of the animals on the private game ranches had been slaughtered, the poachers and illegal hunters would turn to the "protected" National Parks for their ill-gotten gains. 
The increasing number of reports we are receiving with regard to illegal hunting and poaching within the National Parks is cause for grave concern. Several incidences have been reported to the Director General of National Parks who, to date, has failed to respond. 
The problem with illegal hunting within a National Park is that it cannot take place without the assistance of  National Parks officials and there are many cases where they are involved, either for personal gain or because they are following orders from more senior officials or politicians. We have a list of people, some very high profile, whose names regularly appear in reports received. If anyone would like to see the names, please contact us.
In July 2009, 5 Romanian hunters, a professional hunter and a National Parks official were arrested for illegally hunting elephant in Robins Camp. The case was never finalized. The culprits were released and their equipment returned, it is believed upon instructions from the Minister of Tourism and Natural Resources. 
In October 2009, a South African professional hunter admitted that his French client had bow hunted an elephant in the Robins area and that he had paid USD5 000 , which went into the pocket of the head warden to enable his client to hunt within the National Park.
In August 2009, an American hunter illegally shot an elephant with a bow and arrow in Sikumi Forest, using watermelons as bait to lure the elephant out of Hwange National Park. The hunt was conducted by a South African professional hunter in collaboration with a Zimbabwean professional hunter and the American was apparently unaware that the hunt was illegal. The hunting party was guilty of hunting without permission in Sikumi Forest, bow hunting without the necessary permit and using bait to attract the elephant.
The South African professional hunter paid USD2 000 to the Zimbabwean professional hunter and USD2 000 to the concession holder to facilitate the hunt and the American client was assured that everything was legal and above board.
These reports are just a small percentage of the reports we have received and all names are available upon request.
War veterans near Humani Estates in Chiredzi have resorted to poisoning rhinos since they have failed to make a success out of the farm lands they were allocated in 2000. A spokesman said that the war vets are placing poisoned cabbages at animal drinking points so that the animals will eat them when they come to drink. He said that most of them are working as agents for South African based rhino horn dealers who have flooded the area with firearms. He claimed that they are even poisoning some small dams in the area in the hope that the rhinos will drink from them.
Our heartfelt appreciation to three fourteen year old girls, Sophie Kelly, Natascha and Amy who raised 50 pounds for us whilst Carol singing in the UK. It means so much to us when such young people make an effort to preserve our wildlife.
Thank you also to the following people who have assisted with donations:
John and Helen Buckle
Charlie Thompson
Rita Nichols.
Johnny Rodrigues
Chairman for Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force
Landline:        263 4 336710
Landline/Fax: 263 4 339065
Mobile:           263 11 603 213

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

A New Day For Zimbabwe

The Following is an Editorial Reflecting the Views of the US Government

17 January 2010

Zimbabwe is taking another important step in the hoped-for transition to a
free and open democracy with the drafting of a new national constitution. It
is a key element of the Global Political Agreement signed in September 2008
to bring peace and stability to the country, and the United States supports
the process and very much hopes it succeeds.

About 700 people, among them members of civil society, traditional leaders,
parliamentarians, church representatives and special interest groups, have
received training and been organized into outreach teams to collect citizen
input on the new constitution to replace a document in place since
independence in 1980. The people's views will help determine voting rights,
political rights such as freedom of speech and assembly, how much power the
central government will have and how citizens are represented in it.

The teams will report their findings to a group of special commissions,
which then will draft the new constitution and submit it for public approval
in a referendum. While not stipulated in the Global Political Agreement, it
is hoped that national elections would follow within 2 years, to enable the
people of Zimbabwe to freely and openly select their leader.

The importance of moving forward on a new document of government is
underscored by the problems that continue to dog the transitional government
created by the GPA last year. While progress has been made in addressing the
nation's grave economic problems and political violence toward opposition
parties and civic activists, others remain due to bitter disputes over

It is clear, however, that Zimbabweans are ready for change. A recent Gallup
poll found that nearly 3 in 4 citizens disapprove of long-time President
Robert Mugabe. This was even higher among those living in the nation's
cities. An inclusive and open constitutional outreach program gives citizens
the chance to put those concerns into action, shaping a new government and
more stable, secure nation.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

The Christmas to end them all

Posted By Lenox Mhlanga on 20 Jan, 2010 at 3:30 pm

IT WAS a Christmas like no other, in fact, it was the best in more than ten
years and I was there.

I went home to Zimbabwe for the festive season, and boy did the freaks come
out! Like most 'returnees' (read injiva and other diasporians) from across
the globe, we set out with trepidation expecting the worst.

A fellow traveller thought that the road from Plumtree onwards would be
non-existent. Forgive him for sounding naïve, but when he left, things had
sunk to unprecedented depths.

We sure did encounter potholes here and there, some so huge one could plant
a baobab tree in them. Call them drum-holes if you like. I am convinced the
city fathers could solicit some funds just by circulating the photographs of
commuter buses disappearing into the drum-holes to the World Bank.

Come to think of it, they could possibly be touted as a tourist attraction,
an African version of the Bermuda Triangle! But then again, I digress too

Nevertheless, I wasn't naive enough to think that the Zimbabwe Republic
Police could have been disbanded for lack of bribes. They were out there in
all their glory, manning the dreaded barriers in the interests of safety and

I got the shock of my life when a very courteous police officer later
apologised for the inconvenience of stopping and searching my vehicle. I
nearly fell out of the car!

Never mind the fact that the top traffic cop in the southern region is a
friend, this traffic cop did not once during the encounter ask for
"something" for a drink! I found myself responding, "Don't worry Sir; you
are just doing your job."

I almost burst into tears. The experience made me feel so good for the rest
of the trip. Things really have changed in Zimbabwe even if Zanu PF hates
the word. Before you say that could we could have been the exception, I came
across the same treatment though in various degrees at the fifteen road
blocks that I encountered.

The one on the Esigodini road even had members of the army who did not even
brandish their mandatory AK47s! I am yet to see such a cheerful bunch of
officers hard at work. Or was it a coincidence that these were stationed at
the turn-off leading to the new Vice President John Nkomo's residence?

Naah! Talk about new brooms sweeping clean. Anyway, I should caution here
that I do not speak for the rest of those driving from Ndaminya (the South)
who had to folk out fistfuls of rands to get past over excited cops along
the Beitbridge road. At least a couple got their just desserts when one
injivana asserted his rights, and had the imps arrested for corruption.

But crooked cops aside, the people of my Bulawayo forgot their past, present
and future troubles to party. They swarmed the shops and cleaned them out as
if there was no tomorrow.

The Christmas we fantasised about on these pages was being acted out in 3D!
The booze flowed, cows were slaughtered and those well decked out bangena
estikini, prancing to their favourite tunes and such as the inimitable Soul
Brazozo. The excitement was so palpable.

One thing was certain though: no grumpy politician was going to spoil the
festive mood. In fact, not once did I hear talk about the "political
situation". If at all, it was because of mina ovela kude who had to
frequently extricate my foot from my mouth and clean it with blue soap.

I guess that sums up the mood in the country, that a lot can be achieved
without meddlesome pundits whose interests are so often self-serving. Not
once did I meet one, a politician I mean. Or was it that the gravy train was
yet to dock at Bulawayo main station from Bambazonke?

I may have been hanging out at the wrong places. I did venture into Stunts
Sports bar to watch the Chelsea match, the one that they lost. It is here
that I put my being a 'born-again teetotaller' to the acid test.

I must have downed more than ten bottles of Coke which flew in left, right
and centre from shocked patrons. The drinks must have been cheap or was it
because they were just happy to see me sober?

I was horrified that the Highlanders Club House was closed at the most
lucrative time of the year. Never mind all those returnees who wanted to
relive those exciting moments, let alone reconnect with long lost chommies!
And it was just because someone failed to do his job to renew the liquor

That was unforgivable, but then this is Zimbabwe, where mediocrity is
celebrated and the prospect of heads rolling is only reserved for the

I even had the opportunity to brave the roadblocks to drive to Mbembesi and
Esigodini. I must say that the former has been allowed to deteriorate to
unacceptable levels. Where were the Mfengus who are so proud about their
heritage? What do they have to say about the sorry state of their area?

The newly-resettled who included my in-laws have managed to make the area
productive again at least. Gadade was much livelier, with freshly painted
shops and loud radios to boot.

Esigodini Council would do a lot to fix the roads and attract investment. It
has the potential of supporting a vibrant technology or light manufacturing
industry. The labour is there and some of the infrastructure is still

The thriving market gardening and small scale mining activities in the
vicinity, along the line of rail linking Bulawayo to South Africa, could be
put to good use. I am sure there are investors from the South and beyond who
can be persuaded to go for this scenic town, if only the politicians could
stop playing hide and seek and allow the people to do what they know best.

There are so many Zimbabweans who have made it all over the world who are
prepared to invest in their homeland as long as the security of their tenure
is assured. What guarantee is there that their properties will not be

It's just that politicians are known for, as the American Indians say,
speaking with a "forked" tongue. That is promising one thing, and yet doing
the opposite. That is the reality we all have to contemplate.

Well, I did not have the time to visit some of the more popular places. I
managed to have a sneak preview of 'Redwood'. The toll gate there must have
raked in record income.

I imagined what it would have been like if Windermere had been open! One
remembers with fondness the New Year bashes and the spectacular fireworks
display at that exotic location. Regrettably, I was informed that the owners
of the place took over from Omega Sibanda and just ran it down, so sad.

By the dawn of 2010, I had left the motherland though I am sure they
welcomed umnyaka omutsha with a bang. They might not have been so
overexcited as to chuck old TV sets and refrigerators over the balconies
like they do in Hillbrow, Gauteng, but I am sure they celebrated the turning
of a new leaf of hope and prosperity in Zi-Zim-Zimbabwe, politicians
allowing of course. God bless Zimbabwe.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Haiti Tragedy-Mugabe and Africa where are you?

Gilbert Bere

man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the
hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beating him and
went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down
the same road, and he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite,
when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.
But a Samaritan, as he travelled, came where the man was; and he saw
him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds,
pouring on oil and wine...look after him, he said and when I return, I
will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have. Which of these
three do you think was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands
of robbers?"

Luke 10 vs 30-36

The question on neighbourhood embodies humanity and separates us from
other creatures and disasters or tragic events usually brings the most
out of mankind sharing grief and suffering."A problem shared is a
problem half solved." The events of last Tuesday in Haiti have seen
the world coming together to help these victims of the earthquake but
the disquiet by many African Leaders with the exception of the
Senegalese President is a cause for concern, especially if one puts
the history of the Haitian people into perspective. Imagine the
ominous disquiet by Robert Mugabe, Gadhafi and many African Leaders
who over the years have fashioned themselves as defenders of
Africans/blacks worldwide, attracting many followers in the process,
especially against former colonial powers or simply the west must be
wondering where their evergreen "true" African champions are during
this time of need.Is it not fitting to then ask this simple
question-who is your neighbour?

The late Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa once famously declared;
"SADC can no longer continue to stand by and do nothing when one of
its members is experiencing political and economic difficulties," and
true to his words, the honourable Mwanawasa stood by the suffering
people of Zimbabwe up to his death. However, the same could not be
said about the likes of Mugabe, who in the time of the Haitian
people's hour of need, he has  nicodemously disappeared. Compare this
with Mugabe's address to the United Nations just after Hurricane
Katrina. The veteran Zimbabwean leader took great exceptions on how
President Bush handled the catastrophe positioning himself as the
voice of the voiceless when he said: "They (west) have remained silent
about the shocking circumstances of obvious state neglect surrounding
the tragic Gulf Coast disaster. A whole community of mainly non-whites
was deliberately abandoned to the ravages of Hurricane Katrina as
sacrificial lambs." Although equally at the sametime,the veteran
African politicians was creating his own "Katrina" through operation
Murambatsvina.Mugabe is even on record persuading the United Nations
housing agency to help Hurricane Katrina victims  at the expense of
millions  of Zimbabweans left homeless by "Murambatsuma" his
government's slum demolitions. Is it double standards or sheer
political oppoturnism?The point is Mugabe has warmed many
Africans/blacks worldwide by openly criticising the west most and I am
convinced the Haitians are no exception.

The excuse usually given by African leaders for not helping their
Kith-and-Kin is the pretext of affordability. Ironically Africa has
some of the richest people in the world. Gadhafi could afford to part
away with millions for aid without stretching his bank balance, so is
Mugabe, Mnangagwa, Chiyangwa, Mujurus and many others who have
enriched themselves at the expense of impoverished millions.Thus this
argument does not hold water. The point here is while many African
governments are bankrupt and depend on aid from the west, the majority
of individuals running these governments are filthy rich beyond
imagination,in the majority of cases these government individuals are
far more richer than their countries. Even if they could not provide
financial aid, Africa could have supported the Haitian people by
providing personnel to maintain law and order. The Zimbabwe Support
Unit or even the army or the "war veterans" could have done a great
job, only a word of caution on the three's excessive use of force
against unarmed civilians, because in Zimbabwe or many African
countries, demonstrations are synonymous to armed revolt which is
quashed by the full wrath of the state.

Juxtaposing our opening quotation with tragic events in Haiti, exposes
the nacked double standards practised by many African leaders who
perport to come to our rescue on their terms but dissolve into thin
air in our time of need,just like the current tragic disaster in
Haiti.Therefore, your brother, sister or neighbour is one who is there
for you in your time of need. Mwanawasa once said: "If you see your
neighbour's house on fire, you do not wait for people to shout for
help but it is your obligations in the spirit of good neighbourhood to
help." Thus, our African leaders who have not matched their words with
action in your people's time of need-SHAME ON YOU.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Bill Watch Special of 19thJanuary 2010 [Statutory Instrument fixing Deadline for Vehicle Number Plates Changeover]


[19th January 2010]

Statutory Instrument on Change-Over to New Motor Vehicle Number Plates

Statutory Instrument SI 9/2010 [gazetted 8th January] gives legal effect to the 31st December 2010 deadline for the final changeover from the old to the new vehicle registration number plates. This statutory instrument amends section 37 of the Vehicle Registration and Licensing Regulations [SI 427/1999].  Veritas has received many inquires about this, as some confusion was caused when press reports and an official advertisement about the change-over appeared before the necessary legislation was gazetted.  [Electronic version of SI 9/2010 available.]

The “new” number plates have three letters of the alphabet at the beginning of the registration number and include the “third plate” which must be affixed to the vehicle’s windscreen.  These new number plates have been compulsory for several years for new vehicles and on transfer of ownership of vehicles carrying the old plates.  But until now they have been optional for vehicles registered under the old number plate system that have not changed hands since the new number plate system was introduced.  

The 31st December deadline therefore affects only those vehicle owners who have not previously taken steps to re-register their vehicles under the new number plate system.  The “old” number plates that must be changed before the end of the year have a single letter of the alphabet at the end of the registration number.  

Minister’s Announcement Now in Force

On 6th January the press reported an interview with Transport, Communications and Infrastructural Development Minister Nicholas Goche in which the Minister announced:

·         that 31st December 2010 would be the deadline for those vehicle owners whose vehicles still bear the old number plates to change over to the new number plates [this is what is provided for by SI 9/2010]

·         that vehicles with the old number plates would not be allowed to leave the country from 31st January 2010 onwards [this is a separate security requirement, not specified in SI 9/2010 or in the Vehicle Registration and Licensing Regulations].

An official advertisement on the subject was published in the press on 7th January over the name of the Minister.  This gives details of the places where the new plates can be obtained, the cost and the procedure to be followed.  The full text of the advertisement is set out below.

[Note: only plates obtained from the officially authorised selling outlets listed in the advertisement are legally acceptable.]

Minister’s Advertisement Published on 7th January


I, as the Minister of Transport, Communications and Infrastructural Development, in terms of Statutory Instrument 427 of 1999 as amended to date, would like to formally advise the general motoring public, road traffic safety law enforcement agencies and registering offices that with effect from 1st January, 2010, the Ministry shall start implementing the compulsory conversion of number plates in compliance with the new number plate system.  

To this end, all vehicles still displaying the old number plates are expected to convert to the new registration plates between 1st January and 31st December 2010.

It should be noted that notwithstanding the foregoing, with effect from 31st January, 2010, no vehicle shall be allowed to leave Zimbabwe through any of the country's exit points unless it has complied with the requirements of Statutory Instrument 427 of 1999 and is, therefore, displaying new vehicle security registration plates.  Motorists intending to drive Zimbabwean registered vehicles out of the country must thus ensure that they obtain and display the new vehicle security registration plates prior to their trips.

All Government, local authority and diplomatic vehicles still displaying the outgoing number plates must also comply.  This category of vehicles shall be attended to exclusively at the Central Vehicle Registry Offices at No. 29 Robson Manyika Avenue, Harare.


Motorists are advised to visit any one of the following designated number plate selling outlets where the transactions are being handled:

·         The Central Vehicle Registry

·         ZIMPOST’S Causeway Post Office

·         ZIMPOST’S Bulawayo Main Post Office

·         Municipality of Bulawayo

·         Mutare Main Post Office

·         Gweru Main Post Office

·         Masvingo Main Post Office

·         Chinhoyi Main Post Office

·         Bindura Main Post Office, and

·         Marondera Main Post Office

With effect from 11th January, 2010, in addition to the foregoing centres, number plates shall be obtained from the following stations:

·         Municipality of Harare

·         Chitungwiza Main Post Office

·         Mt Darwin Post Office

·         Chivhu Post Office

·         Kadoma Main Post Office

·         Kariba Post Office

·         Gokwe Post Office

·         Zvishavane Post Office

·         Kwekwe Main Post Office

·         Hwange Post Office

·         Victoria Falls Post Office

·         Beitbridge Post Office

·         Gwanda Post Office

·         Chiredzi Post Office, and

·         Chipinge Post Office


Motorists are strongly discouraged from hiring undesignated agents for the purpose of transacting the change-over of the old to the new vehicle registration number plates.  Only those applications that are submitted by the vehicle registered owner shall be accepted for processing by number plate selling outlets.  Applications that are tendered by persons other than those shown on application documents shall not be entertained and are liable to confiscation.  

Registered owners designating third parties for genuine reasons are advised to direct their representatives to the Central Vehicle Registry offices for processing.  This arrangement is meant to allow for proper vetting of the said applications.  


All applicants should submit the following original and photocopies of documents for verification to the processing officials:

1)          copy of the vehicle’s registration book (clearly bearing the correct full names and address of the bearer)

2)          a set of the old registration number plates

3)          positive identification document in the form of a national identity card / valid Zimbabwe drivers licence / passport

4)          current (i.e. up to 3 months old) acceptable proof of one’s residence in the form of an electricity or water bill, credit store statement and/or a bank statement

5)          processing and issue fee of US$160,00 (in the case of a motor vehicle) or US$140,00 (for a trailer or motor cycle)

6)          Zimbabwe Republic Police’s C.I.D. vehicle clearance or police endorsement on Form CVR4

7)          A valid copy of the vehicle’s certificate of fitness (RT38) in the case of a Public Service Vehicle (PSV).  

Finally, but not least, the success of this exercise is wholly dependent upon the co-operation of all stakeholders (i.e. Government Ministries or Departments, local authorities, foreign missions, private companies, individual motorists and the Zimbabwean community as a whole).  I, therefore, urge all of us to work together to complete the change-over exercise with relative ease.  

Motorists whose vehicles fail to comply with the legislation on vehicle security registration number plates within the stipulated period run the risk of being prosecuted.



Veritas makes every effort to ensure reliable information, but cannot take legal responsibility for information supplied.


Back to the Top
Back to Index