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Four farmers evicted by courts as land takeover continues

By Alex Bell
26 January 2010

Four Chipinge commercial farmers have all been ordered to immediately vacate
their properties or face a possible jail term, as the state's takeover of
farms under so-called land 'reform' continues.

Magistrate Samuel Dzuze on Tuesday found all four farmers guilty of refusing
to leave their properties, charges brought against them under the Gazetted
Land (Consequential Provisions) Act. These same charges have been laid
against more than 150 of the remaining commercial farmers who have tried to
hang on to their properties. In separate judgements on Tuesday, the
Magistrate sentenced the four farmers to pay US$800 fines and vacate their
properties. Only one farmer, Mike Odendaal from Hillcrest farm, has been
given more than 24 hour to pack up his belongings. The others all have to be
off their properties by Wednesday evening.

The magistrate ruled that the farmers would be jailed for two years each if
they did not comply with the ruling. The four were also denied the right to
appeal against the judgement, saying there was 'no doubt' in his ruling.
Urgent applications are now set to be filed in Harare on behalf of the

The Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) reported that the situation in court was
very tense, with a heavy police presence. One of the farmers convicted was
Algernon Taffs, who was jailed for two hours after the ruling, with police
also warning him that he would be jailed for five years if he ignored the
court ruling. The CFU also reported that the farmers were desperately moving
their possessions into the local Dutch Reform Church for safety.

The convicted farmers are:

Algernon Taffs of Chirega Farm, Chipinge
Dawie Joubert of Stilfontein, Chipinge
Mike Odendaal of Hillcrest farm, Chipinge
Mike Jahme of Silverton Farm, Chipinge

The court's decision to force the farmers off their land comes just days
after the CFU called on the unity government to intervene to stop the
ongoing seizure of land. In the past year, the renewed campaign to drive
commercial farmers off their properties has intensified, with violent
evictions of farmers, their families and their workers, and the fast-track
prosecution of farmers in court. The CFU has said that more than 150 farmers
are still facing prosecution by the Attorney General's office, while more
than 80 farms have been seized since last February.

CFU president Deon Theron told SW Radio Africa that his organisation
'deplores' the government's failure to stop what he called 'a few extremists'
from violently threatening, harassing and forcibly evicting farmers and
their workers. These ongoing acts of lawlessness have been epitomised by
violence against farmers and their workers, with complete impunity. Local
police have refused to assist farmers, labelling the land attacks a
'political' issue. Theron explained that the attacks "violate the basic
principles enunciated in the Global Political Agreement (GPA)."

"What commercial farmers and their workers are being subjected to constitute
crimes against humanity.  It is time for the GNU to take a principled stand
in this regard," Theron said.

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Hitschmann denies dealings with Bennett

January 26, 2010

By Our Correspondent

HARARE - Peter Michael Hitschmann, key State witness in the ongoing trial of
MDC treasurer general Roy Bennett, has denied any dealings with the MDC
treasurer general Roy Bennett, who stands accused of possessing weapons for
terrorism, banditry and insurgence.

Hitschmann also denied being disrespectful of Justice Minister Patrick
Chinamasa when he told the court early this month that he found an incident
in which Bennett floored  Chinamasa in Parliament  entertaining.

The firearms dealer told court the Tuesday during cross examination which
lasted four hours that his Mozambican bank account which the State alleges
was used by Bennett to deposit cash to acquire arms of war was in fact used
for normal business transactions with his Mozambican clients.

The court declared Hitschmann a hostile state witness Monday for departing
from his earlier statement in which he allegedly implicated Bennett in the
matter. Bennett is the Deputy Minister of Agriculture designate.

"I put it to you that the process of acquiring these arms of war is
expensive and was only possible through funding from the accused," said
Attorney General Johannes Tomana, to which Hitschmann responded, "I deny
that, Your Honour."

Hitschmann said he opened the bank account to facilitate his business
dealings in the neighbouring country where he says he used he supplied goods
and also offered transport services when the country was recovering from the
effects of its civil war.

"I worked with Mozambique since 1985 during their struggle," he said.

"From 1985 to 1994, Zimbabwe was in a key position to supply Mozambique with
a variety of materials during its reconstruction programme."

Hitschmann also said the detonators and grenades which are part of the
weaponry recovered from him were not for combat purposes saying he used them
to scare away elephants which strayed from a game reserve in Manicaland

The former policeman said this was a joint operation with the army and
police who supplied him with the detonators. He denies Bennett was involved.

"I put it to you that you actually view the accused person as a hero and
nothing else," said Tomana, who was referring to earlier statements by
Hitschmann that he found television footage of Bennett's fight with
Chinamasa "entertaining".

Hitschmann had the court in stitches when he responded, "I do so now."

Asked why he would admire someone who was involved in such an incident,

Hitschmann said there was nothing unusual about an "impromptu wrestling" by
parliamentarians which he said was common in countries such as Taiwan,
Greece and South Korea.

"Fighting in Parliament is human," he said, "If it can happen elsewhere, why
can it not happen here?"

Bennett served a jail term following his brawl with Chinamasa in Parliament.

Hitschmann, who said he "did not mean to disrespect Chinamasa" through his
comments, said his first contact with Bennett was at a Mutare club where the
former Chimanimani legislator had been addressing a report back MDC

He disassociated himself from any MDC business when he was asked to explain
why he would find himself at a partisan gathering.

Hitschmann also denied any communication with Bennett through email which
the State alleges was used for purposes of destabilizing the country.

The case continues Wednesday.

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MDC denies suspending Eddie Cross

By Violet Gonda
26 January 2010

The MDC has denied a story that appeared in the Herald newspaper on Tuesday
which said Bulawayo South Member of Parliament, Eddie Cross, had been
suspended from the party over allegations of indiscipline.

The State mouthpiece said the MDC Standing Committee made the decision to
suspend the national executive member at a meeting held in Harare last

But a statement from the MDC said: "For the record neither the MDC Standing
Committee nor the National Executive met to make such a decision.
Furthermore, no official has been affected by the decision as claimed by The
Herald. We note with concern desperate attempts engineered by the detractors
of the people's movement who continue to churn out falsehoods."
The Herald said: "He (Cross) is accused of disseminating information on the
internet and in the press without clearance from the party and some of the
statements were against party policies. Among the statements the party is
using to nail Mr. Cross was his declaration last year that the land reform
programme was unacceptable and reversible."
The paper added: "His remarks went against Article V of the Global Political
Agreement, which upholds the irreversibility of the land reform programme."
Speaking on SW Radio Africa, Cross admitted he has said and written things
that his party has not been happy with. "Even Morgan (Tsvangirai) himself
has spoken to me on occasion and said I've got to be more circumspect, I can't
just speak my own mind'."

On the land issue, Cross said the whole land reform exercises is 'illegal'
and being conducted purely for political reasons and that the current wave
of invasions of white commercial farms  is 'tantamount to ethnic cleansing'.

He said a decision was taken by the party at the National Council level that
the land reform programme was unacceptable and should be reviewed. He added:
"They wouldn't be as outspoken as I am, but that is the party position. The
party position is more cautious because the leadership of the MDC has to
deal with ZANU PF on a daily basis. I don't."

The legislator blasted ZANU PF for destroying agriculture and warned that in
2010 Zimbabwe is going to be dependent again on the international community
for basic food supplies, as a result of the chaotic land policies.

Cross pointed out that the GPA clearly says land reform would be 'unpacked'
in the form of a transparent land audit but said ZANU PF 'won't even allow
us to look at who's got what in the outcome of the land reform exercise'.

Meanwhile, it's reported that Cross may be being targeted by some of his
colleagues in the MDC because he is one of those demanding a full
investigation into corruption, at the highest level in the party.

The Zimbabwe Independent reported that the MDC was investigating three
government officials: Home Affairs co-Minister Giles Mutsekwa,  Energy
Minister Elias Mudzuri and Mines Deputy Minister Murisi Zwizwai for
corruption, although the party issued a statement denying this.

Cross refused to comment on this. However he said: "We mustn't think we are
angels. We have people in our midst who have not behaved themselves and I
think we should sort it out. I am one of the ones who is a bit outspoken on
this issue."

"We are required by party regulations to declare our assets and I have done
so to the Secretary General (Tendai Biti). But I don't think anybody else
has and I think that is something which the party is going to have to pay
attention to. We've got people accumulating assets and I think we need to
know where they are getting them from."

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SA, Australia join hands to help Zimbabwe

January 26, 2010

By Munyaradzi Mutizwa

South Africa and Australia have agreed on projects to help rebuild Zimbabwe,
Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said in Pretoria on Tuesday.

"We have agreed on projects to help Zimbabwe with taxation laws as well as
water and sanitation technical expertise," he told a press briefing.

He said Zimbabwe needed technical expertise to reform its tax laws and
rebuild the economy.

Smith said Australia's long-standing view about Zimbabwe's President Robert
Mugabe was to see the veteran leader vacating office.

He said political developments in that country were encouraging.

"South African government efforts to see progress in Zimbabwe have
encouraged the Australian government to partner it," Smith said.

He was speaking after meeting his South African counterpart Maite
Nkoana-Mashabane in a bid to strengthen relations between the two countries.

Nkoana-Mashabane said Australia's Labour Party and the ANC had relations
dating back to the fight against apartheid.

"We have a good relationship and need to strengthen the political ties, as
well as economic ties between our governments."

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Human rights group says MDC ‘shielding’ ZANU PF

By Lance Guma
26 January 2010

International rights group Human Rights Watch (HRW) has accused the MDC of
shielding the abuses being committed by ZANU PF, in an attempt to sustain
the shaky coalition government. The New York based group released a report
over the weekend noting that the advent of the power sharing government had
failed to stop human rights abuses in Zimbabwe. HRW said the new government
had failed to repeal or amend repressive laws, such as the Public Order and
Security Act and the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

The HRW annual report summarizes human rights conditions in more than 90
countries and territories worldwide and reflects the extensive investigative
work undertaken by their staff in close partnership with rights activists.
Their assessment is that; ‘The MDC lacks real power and does not
consistently speak out against the continued abuses, possibly seeking to
save the fledgling power-sharing government.’ It also said ZANU PF continues
to use its control of the security forces and the judiciary to harass,
abduct, torture and kill those it considers opponents, including senior MDC
The HRW report cited examples of ongoing army abuses in the Marange diamond
fields and the violent invasions of white-owned commercial farms in the
country. It said human rights defenders also remained under attack from the
security forces. Newsreel spoke to Tiseke Kasambala, the group’s Senior
Researcher on Africa, and she said given the prevailing conditions it was
unlikely any elections held in Zimbabwe will be free and fair. She described
the agreement that created the coalition as ‘precarious’ and said it could
break up at any time.

Meanwhile economic analyst John Robertson has said the quick economic
recovery hoped for by many under the coalition government will not become a
reality until fundamental political changes are made. Robertson said the
government needed to fix infrastructure, update manufacturing plants, win
back lost markets, overcome dependence on imports and rebuild government’s
tax base. He said; ‘Every step of the way calls for people. But the people
concerned are not on their way either, and won’t be until the needed
political changes have restored their confidence.’

Political analyst Msekiwa Makwanya however believes the coalition
government, despite the problems dogging it, should be given credit for
stabilizing things in the country. He said Zimbabwe was coming from a
debilitating humanitarian and economic crisis under the ZANU PF regime and
to expect all the problems to disappear within one year was rather too

He also took issue with the HRW report for accusing the MDC of not doing
anything about abuses saying it was ‘selective amnesia’. He said the MDC
have already made Johannes Tomana, the Attorney General one of the
outstanding issues in the talks and continue to make noises about ongoing


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Civil service strike looms as talks postponed

By Alex Bell
26 January 2010

A potentially crippling civil service strike is still set to continue next
week, after make-or-break talks between civil servants unions and the Public
Service Ministry were postponed this week.

Zimbabwe's civil servants have given the government until next Tuesday to
address their wage demands, or face a strike which will likely cripple the
civil service industry, including the education sector. Three unions
representing the bulk of the country's civil servants have rejected a
government offer of US$236 per month saying this was a 'paltry offer', and
have been holding onto their minimum wage demand of US$630 per month. The
Public Service Association, an umbrella body for all civil servants, the
Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ), and the Zimbabwe Teachers
Association (ZIMTA) called the government offer "inadequate, ridiculous and
out of sync with the cost of living."

Public Service Minister Professor Eliphas Mukonoweshuro was set to hold
talks with union representatives on Tuesday to try and avert the strike. But
that meeting was postponed until next week, apparently because of
'outstanding' issues'. PTUZ Secretary General Raymond Majongwe told SW Radio
Africa that other trade unions, not included under the Public Service
Association or the teachers' unions, want to be included in the
negotiations. Majongwe said the talks will continue when all interested
unions are involved in the process. New talks to avert the strike are now
set to go ahead, on the day the strike is meant to begin.
The PTUZ has already vowed that their members would go on strike if their
wage demands were not met. The union's President, Takavafira Zhou, said that
ever since Finance Minister Tendai Biti presented his budget in December
last year, there had been no word on how much the teachers would earn. Zhou
said they had given the inclusive government enough time to work on their
remuneration and expected their salaries to at least match the poverty datum
line, which he said was US$600.

Although schools opened earlier this month and most teachers have been
reporting for duty, there have been widespread reports say they were not
teaching, in protest at the slow salary negotiations. The government
meanwhile says it does not have the resources to meet the salary demands
coming from the civil servants. Finance Minister Biti has said that 60
percent of government revenue is taken up by the wage bill alone.


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LonZim back in full-year profit as Zimbabwe’s economy begins to recover

 Tuesday, January 26, 2010

LonZim (AIM: LZM) said it is delivering strong growth as the general
Zimbabwe market begins to recover, as it reported a return to profit for the
full year ended 31 August 2009. LonZim reported £2.6 million in turnover, up
from 188,000 a year earlier, and a pretax profit of £1.08 million, compared
with a £1.09 million loss in the preceding year. Shares were buoyed by the
positive results, climbing nearly 9% following the announcement.

Fundamental changes in the Zimbabwe economy in early 2009 brought the end of
hyperinflation and slowly helped the country’s employment recover. The
changes were largely the result of two key events, the establishment of the
Government of National Unity (GNU) in February and the US dollarization of
the currency.

Most of its operating businesses have become cash generative and are
delivering strong growth in the current year, LonZim said. Net assets rose
to £32.6 million at the year-end, following a share buy back of £1.3
million. Cash held at the end of the year was £2.4 million and the company’s
net assets per share were 101.6p.

During Zimbabwe’s economic turmoil, the company paid its partner’s debts and
wages, consequently they retained skilled a workforce and are ready to
trade. Importantly LonZim's subsidiaries had access to funds and liquidity,
at a time when finding liquidity was very challenging in the market. Through
the support and acquisition of distressed businesses, which were forced to
operate on a barter system, the company’s subsidiaries have successfully
positioned themselves to be 'first back to market'.

During the financial year, LonZim acquired several businesses, which fell in
line with its investment criteria. In October 2008, the company bought 100%
of electronic money transfer (ETF) business Paynet Ltd for US$3.19 million.
Paynet’s newly built commercial property in Harare which is valued at
US$0.95 million, was included in the acquisition.

Paynet provides an EFT platform for 19 of the 21 Zimbabwean banks and more
than 1,000 Zimbabwean corporate clients. The Paynet business collapsed under
hyperinflation, but LonZim maintained the business's staff, retaining
systems in place ready for recovery. In February 2009, the business started
to make progress and monthly transactions increased steadily as the economy

In April 2009, LonZim acquired Zimbabwe's iconic Leopard Rock Hotel for
US$8.5 million, the property includes a PGA rated golf course and 400
hectare game farm. The company said that the hotel has already seen a
significant increase in occupancy with growth in bookings and revenues for
conferences and meetings as well as from leisure orientated visitors. As the
market recovers, the hotel will expand its accommodation and facilities and
plans to attract the PGA to hold a tournament at the hotel in due course.

Also during the year, LonZim bought controlling 51% stakes in the
ForgetMeNot Africa (FMNA) and Panafmed Ltd. FMNA is a telecommunications
software developer, providing a 'message optimiser' application for basic
non-3G mobile phones which provide two-way SMS - SMS, instant messaging and
email technology platform without the need for sophisticated infrastructure.
Panafmed provides a refrigerated distribution logistics for pharmaceuticals
and medical product delivery and distribution into and around Zimbabwe.

The company also bought a 6,600 square metres industrial site, including
2,650 square metres of offices and factory space, for US$0.95 million.
LonZim acquired the property from the Zimbabwean banking group Kingdom Bank.

LonZim also announced it intends to launch oparations of African low-cost
airline Fly540 in Zimbabwe.  The company has allocated funds from existing
resources for the deployment and establishment of the airline. Operations
will be based at Harare airport to serve as a regional freight and passenger
operation as and when the market develops.

LonZim said it continues to undertake detailed due diligence on a range of
potential acquisitions, where it can identify real opportunities for growth
in value in a normalised economic environment.

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MISA: Dark cloud hangs over Zim media reforms

Zimbabwe Communiqué

26 January 2010

Doubts abound over envisaged media reforms

Skepticism and reservations abound among Zimbabwean journalists on whether
the statutory Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC) media regulatory body will be
able to institute fundamental media reforms that will usher the envisaged
free, independent and diverse media environment.

Doubts on the ZMC's capability to unleash a democratic media environment
came to the fore during a press club discussion held at the Quill Club in
Harare on 22 January 2010 organised by MISA-Zimbabwe Harare Advocacy
Committee. The ZMC is the statutory successor regulatory body to the Media
and Information Commission which came into being following amendments to the
repressive Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA).

Senior journalists Dumisani Muleya and Loughty Dube as well as ZMC
commissioner-designate Christopher Mutsvangwa were drawn in as panelists to
tackle the topic: Does the Zimbabwe Media Commission have the capacity to
reform the media in Zimbabwe?

"What is most poisonous about it is that it (ZMC) did not come out of
sector-wide consultations. It is clear the ZMC was set up as a tool for
politicians to control the media," said Muleya the assistant editor of the
Zimbabwe Independent and spokesperson of the Zimbabwe Journalists for Human
Rights (ZJHR).

Loughty Dube, MISA-Zimbabwe Chairperson, reiterated that the media should
self-regulate hence the establishment of the Voluntary Media Council of
Zimbabwe (VMCZ) in compliance with regional and international declarations
to which Zimbabwe a state party to. Dube concurred with Muleya saying
journalist were not consulted but that political parties imposed the ZMC
through the signing of the Global Political Agreement by the two Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC) formations hence its questionable capacity to
institute media reforms.

The MISA-Zimbabwe chairperson called for the repealing of AIPPA, Public
Order and Security Act (POSA) and the Broadcasting Services Act (BSA) as
part of the concrete steps that should be taken towards meaningful media
reforms in Zimbabwe. Ambassador Mutsvangwa was non-committal on the issue of
the repealing of AIPPA and his role as ZMC commissioner-designate saying he
would "try and do as honest a job as I can based on my intelligence".

In his contribution to the debate, Iden Wetherell, Chairperson of the
Zimbabwe National Editors Forum (Zinef), said the "arrogance which bordered
on ignorance" (on media reforms) displayed by the commissioner-designate had
dampened his previous position that the ZMC should be given a chance to
undertake the envisaged media reforms.

The debating session was chaired by MISA-Zimbabwe Harare Advocacy Committee
chairperson, Kumbirai Mafunda.


For any questions, queries or comments, please contact:

Nyasha Nyakunu

Senior Programmes Officer


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Watchdog urges Zimbabwe gov’t to divest from publishing house

APA-Harare (Zimbabwe) A media watchdog on Tuesday called on the Zimbabwean
government to divest from the country’s largest newspaper group, saying the
state’s continued stranglehold on the print and electronic media was
compromising diversity and independence in the sector.

The Zimbabwe chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) said
the print media should be allowed to operate independently “without undue
influence from the state or government of the day”.

“Where the state has had direct control in the media, we recommend that it
disinvests in these print media houses and allow for independent control of
the same,” the body said in a report detailing the state of Zimbabwe’s media
in 2009.

The Zimbabwe government, through the Ministry of Media and Information, is
the majority shareholder in the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange-listed Zimbabwe
Newspapers (ZIMPAPERS) group.

ZIMPAPERS publishes the official government daily The Herald as well as
several other titles in English and the vernacular Shona and Ndebele

The government has used its control of the ZIMPAPERS empire to launch a
propaganda campaign against opponents.


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Youth militia and CIO in constitution making process

By Gerald Chateta

Published: January 26, 2010

Harare  - Movement for Democratic Change(MDC) Deputy Organizing Secretary
Morgan Komichi has blasted ZANU-PF for trying to use its militia and state
security agents(CIO operatives) as rapportuors responsible for recording the
views of the public in the country's controversial constitution making

There are strong rumours that ZANU-PF wants the notorious youth militias and
the dreaded CIO to be recruited as rapportuors in the constitution
consultation process.

In an exclusive interview with ZimEye in Harare on Tuesday MDC deputy
organizing Secretary Morgan Komichi said that the move to recruit civil
servants as rapportuors was meant to put ZANU-PF loyalists who would
manipulate the outcome of the process.

"We have heard that ZANU-PF wants the militia and state security agents to
be deployed for the recording of people's views. We strongly blame that move
because the history we have is that the militia and state security agents
had been beating, abducting and torturing MDC supporters. These people are
the liberation party loyalists and how are they going to produce fair and
independent results in the process which we all know is not wanted by their

"As the MDC we are oversubscribed in as far as providing COPAC with names of
people is concerned. We have a lot of qualified people ready for the job,
"said Komichi

Last week the Herald Newspaper reported that one of the political parties
had called for the recording of the public's views to be carried out by
civil servants who are well versed with the Official Secrecy Act.

"We are worried by the disturbances being caused by our partner and we are
not surprised by the move. Who does not know that ZANU-Pf never wanted an
inclusive government? They never wanted us to be included in the government.
They have resisted accepting our party president as the country's prime
minister. We want to tell Zimbabweans that the constitution making process
is a battle like any other battles we have been fighting. People should not
be trapped in ZANU-Pf trap and ignore this process through frustration. This
is the time to act because it is the only chance we have been given to
democratize the nation, and ZANU-Pf is against that, "said Komichi.

The Parliamentary Constitution Select Committee said it will announce the
names of the delegates to spearhead the constitution making process on
Wednesday whether the management committee has met or not.

The writing of the new constitution is going to determine the next country's
election date. MDC is accusing ZANU-PF of trying to disturb the process
saying it(Zanu pf) is afraid of standing fresh election.

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Botswana officers still detained in Zimbabwe

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Staff Writer

Three officers from the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP) are
still detained in Zimbabwe after they crossed into the country by mistake
last week.

The armed Botswana officers, travelling in a government vehicle, were
tracking lions that had killed two cows in Lesoma village along the border
between the two countries. The Botswana High Commissioner in Zimbabwe,
Gladys Kokorwe said yesterday that the matter has been reported to her
office and that the officers were supposed to appear in court for mention
yesterday afternoon.

She was not sure whether they appeared in court because of poor
communications between her office in Harare and the police station that
detained the three in Victoria Falls.

Kokorwe said that she will send an officer to the town today to get more
information.The two towns are over 800 kilometers apart and the officer will
have to fly to Victoria Falls, as it would take more days by road, the High
Commissioner said.

She stated that they plan to engage a defence lawyer to represent the
officers.President Ian Khama is not aware of the detention as he just
resumed duty yesterday after a long holiday, his spokesman Sipho Madisa

The detention of the three officers follows another incident mid last year
when several Batswana women and children were detained in Zimbabwe for
entering the country illegally.

The group was collecting thatching grass when they found themselves in a
foreign land.The borderline between the two countries is difficult to
identify because there is no fence or markings.  In 2006, former Botswana
Television reporter Beauty Mokoba and a cameraman were arrested in Zimbabwe
on charges of illegally entering the country. The two were fined and
released after a day in police custody.

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Robert Mugabe is Indeed a ‘Goblin’

 Monday, January 25th, 2010 | written by Ahmed M Kamara

Who said Robert Mugabe is a Goblin? That person is quite right. According to
the dictionary, ‘ Goblins are demons of any size, usually in human or animal
form, that are supposed to assail, afflict, and even torture human beings:
“Be thou a spirit of health or goblin damn’d, …” (Shak. Hamlet I, iv).
Gnomes are small beings, like ugly little old men, who live in the earth,
guarding mines, treasures, etc. They are mysteriously malevolent and terrify
human beings by causing dreadful mishaps to occur.’

It is an indefensible description of a man who has raped the political and
economic infrastructure of his people. He has deprived the Zimbabwean people
of a decent way of life. He has strangled the economy of his country. Not
only has he stolen millions to lavish on himself and his wife and cohorts,
he has prevented his country from enjoying the economic wealth its citizens
have worked so hard for. Robert Mugabe is an old man, far over the retiring
age of most men in Africa. But his greed for power has displaced any
semblance of common sense in him. He has lost his sanity. It seems his
capacity to invoke a second-thought process has been severely disrupted by
an undefined mental illness.

At 85, one would expect this old man of politics to have resigned from the
thought of leadership and hand over power peacefully to the duly elected
President Morgan Tsvangirai. He shamelessly rigged the elections and use his
Zanu-PF thugs to intimidate opposition elements.  Mugabe’s actions against
his people can only be viewed with pity for a man who has lost his pride,
has no shame, determined to use brutal force on his opponents just for him
to cling on to power. MP Douglas Mwonzora’s description of Mugabe as a
Goblin is absolutely correct. In fact it is a lesser form of what this cruel
animal of a man deserves to be called.  Douglas Mwonzora must be commended
for coming up with a single word that offers a completeness in description
of this brutal dictator. This MP has indeed made it to the shortlist of
Africa’s Man of the Year 2010. He has coined a phrase for the media world
and has helped save a huge amount of space on our print media when we make
attempt to define the character of Robert Gabriel Mugabe. The charges
brought against Douglas Mwonzora must be dropped. It is laughable. It is an
embarassment to the presidency of Zimbabwe.

In my last installment on Mugabe I said, the people of Zimbabwe will
continue to suffer if they don’t stand up and stop this man. He is not
prepared to hand over power with benignity and respect. He is a dictator,
and dictators have a tendency to cling on to power come what may. Dictators
only look after their own interests and the interests of those who support
their maniacal political agenda. The people of Zimbabwe must rise up
peacefully and reclaim their country!

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Industry Coalition Meets with State Dep’t Over Zimbabwe

(January 26, '10, 11:40 IDEX Online Staff Reporter)

Representatives from the world’s leading diamond associations convened in
Washington Monday for a meeting with U.S. State Department officials to
discuss the ongoing situation in Zimbabwe.

The declared intention for the meeting was to call for more action by the
Kimberley Process (KP) in implementing the previously agreed upon joint work
plan and bring Zimbabwe into full KP compliance.

The working plan was developed at the last KP meeting in Namibia. It was
formed to address allegations of non-compliance and human rights violations
by Zimbabwe in the Marange diamond fields. The plans states that diamond
exports from the Marange area need be examined by a KP-designated monitor
and that no exports from that region are permitted until a monitor is in
place. So far, a successful monitor is still yet to be appointed.

The statement did not detail who the group met with at the State Department.
While a number of U.S.-based industry organizations attended the meeting -
including representatives from the Diamond Manufacturers and Importers of
America (DMIA), the Diamond Dealers Club of New York (DDC), the United
States Kimberley Process Authority (USKPA) and the Jewelers Vigilance
Committee (JVC), KP Chair Boaz Hirsch who is currently in the U.S. for a
number of meetings did not attend, IDEX Online has learned

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Hope and crops scorched again

Photo: IRIN
Weather turns against farmers
HARARE, 26 January 2010 (IRIN) - Garai Hokonya, 53, a smallholder farmer in Chivhu district, about 120km southwest of Zimbabwe's capital, Harare, has resigned himself to the unpalatable truth that the 12 hectares of maize he planted by hand are being devastated by an unseasonal and prolonged dry spell.

"I have written off the crop and am driving the cattle and goats to graze in the fields," Hokonya told IRIN. "This is painful, because my family used zero tillage [no ploughing] to prepare part of the land due to a shortage of draught-power," he said.

A decade of food insecurity - which reached its zenith in the first quarter of 2009 when nearly 7 million people, or well over half the population, needed emergency food assistance - has taken a heavy toll on livestock. Working animals were sacrificed for food in the lean times, decimating the draught-power that small-scale farmers need to plough their fields.

In response to the shortage of animals, "and on the advice of agricultural extension workers who told us that [manual planting] was going to boost our yields", small-scale farmers dug shallow holes and planted seeds manually as a substitute for ploughing. This method was seen as ideal, as fields that have lain fallow retain nutrients and so do not require large amounts of fertilizer.

Hokonya was filled with optimism. "When we started planting, the weather was good because the rains were coming steadily [in October 2009] and there was no reason to think the situation could turn as bad as it has done." But by late December he and the neighbouring farmers were anxiously scanning the blue skies for clouds, and hope turned sour.

Zimbabwe's Meteorological Services Department has forecast the chance of good rains in the coming weeks, but Hokonya is sceptical about replanting because "these forecasts are mostly wrong, and it is now too late to think about planting a new crop."
''When we started planting, the weather was good because the rains were coming steadily [in October 2009] and there was no reason to think the situation could turn as bad as it has done''

However, even before the adverse weather, relief agencies were forecasting that about 2.2 million Zimbabweans would require food aid between January and March 2011.

The latest weather hazards assessment for Africa by USAID/Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) indicated that Zimbabwe was among several other southern African countries experiencing poor rainfall.

"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," FEWS NET said in its assessment.

Renson Gasela, a farming specialist and the former agriculture secretary of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), told IRIN: "The crop situation across the country is very bad and food security is under great threat." The provinces of Manicaland, Masvingo, Matabeleland South and Midlands are also being affected by adverse weather patterns.

"We had hoped that food imports this year would be minimal, but the weather has dealt the country a big blow and yields are going to be worse than the last main farming season," Gasela predicted.

A depleted harvest expected  

"We would say we have lost about half of what we could have harvested, even though there is need to wait a little longer to get a fuller picture of the damage done."

The Crop and Food Assessment Mission of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization and UN World Food Programme projected a cereal harvest of 1.3 million tons in 2009, compared to 690,000 tons in 2008.

It was too late to replant in most parts of the country, "and even in areas where it is possible, there is no guarantee that the rains will last for long," Gasela said.

Denford Chimbwanda, president of the Grain and Cereal Producers Association (GCPA) told IRIN: "We are heading for disaster if we don't start receiving rains within a week. It is very unfortunate, because most farmers had done their best to prepare their farms and plots."

He said most farmers got fertilizers too late, at a stage when they could not apply it because of low soil moisture. "Because of the little rain that has fallen so far, farmers cannot top-dress their crops, yet this is vital."

Food inflation

Innocent Makwiramiti, a Harare-based economist, said the spectre of another poor harvest was already being seen in the maize price. "Traders have already started speculating and are responding to the looming drought by increasing the price of maize [the staple food]."

He told IRIN: "A 50kg bag ... that used to cost around US$9 is now selling for US$15; this could also push up the price of mealie-meal [maize-meal] in shops, regardless of whether it is locally produced or imported."


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

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