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Political elite looting gems: TI-Z

January 27, 2013 in Local, Politics

THERE is an urgent need to enact a Diamond Act to curb massive looting of
gems by the country’s political elite, Transparency International-Zimbabwe
(TI-Z) has said.


Preliminary findings of the study by TI-Z titled, State of Corruption in the
Mining Sector — The Case of Gold, Diamond and Platinum Mining in Kwekwe,
Gwanda, Marange and Mhondoro-Ngezi, noted that some areas where there is
illegal gold or diamond mining were not raided by the police because they
were “protected” by influential politicians.

“The absence of a Diamond Act has promoted a free-for-all scenario in
diamond trade where the power elites have literally acted in a liassez faire
fashion to enrich themselves from diamond mining,” the study said.

The findings have been released at a time when there has been a lot of
acrimony within the inclusive government and protest by civil society over
the lack of transparency on how the country’s diamond revenues were being

Finance minister Tendai Biti has in the past accused senior Zanu PF
officials and members of the security forces of looting diamonds from
Marange fields with little sale proceeds trickling into Treasury.

However, Minister of Mines and Mining Development, Obert Mpofu has
previously attributed the lack of transparency to attempts by the European
Union and United States to stifle the trading of Zimbabwe’s diamonds.

The study said politicians were influencing the awarding of diamond mining
contracts for companies extracting gems in Marange.

“Currently there is no transparent and accountable process in which
concessions to mine diamonds in Zimbabwe are awarded,” reads the study.
“Basing on evidence prevailing on the ground, the study found out that all
the companies that have been given mining rights to mine diamonds in
Zimbabwe are those with close links to senior politicians in government and
the military.”

It says failure by diamonds mining firms to remit their contributions
directly to the Ministry of Finance further created a veil of secrecy
already shrouding diamond mining in the country.

The study said while there has been little remittances to Treasury, “the
unexplained accumulation of wealth by senior government ministers and the
top military brass with close links to diamond mining in Marange is a clear
indication of abuse of position, authority and influence for self-enrichment
at the expense of the majority who have to make with poorly equipped
hospitals, clinics and schools”.

The paper notes that power elites prejudiced the country of revenues that
were supposed to ensure that schools, hospitals and clinics and roads were

The TI-Z study says senior politicians had formed syndicates with police
officers and illegal gold panners to engage in organised corruption at
Sherwood Block in Kwekwe.

As a result, the gold that is mined there was not sold to the central bank.

“So entrenched is the corruption that whenever there are impending raids,
the gold panners seem to be well-informed of the raids, their timing and how
they will be carried out,” says the study. “This clearly shows that the
politicians in cohort with the police as well as the illegal miners are
working to deprive the country of gold and attendant revenues which should
contribute to the national fiscus.”

The TI-Z study recommends the broadening of players involved in the granting
of mining rights and mining deals to ensure transparency and accountability.


The study also recommended that all government officials including
politicians and bureaucrats should be made to compulsorily declare their
wealth upon taking office.

“Such a measure can be buttressed by a name and shame policy where those
public officials who acquire wealth through the abuse of office are named
and shamed in public without fear or favour,” says the study.

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Fear grips Zanu PF chefs

January 27, 2013 in Local, Politics

ZANU PF bigwigs, fearing losing primary elections to their juniors, are
pushing for the party to reserve certain constituencies for them to elbow
out rivals, it has emerged.


But as the jostling for seats ahead of national polls intensifies, some of
the bigwigs themselves may fall by the wayside as they are now under
investigation for corruption.

This also comes at a time when reports have emerged that jostling for the
late Vice-President John Nkomo’s post has begun.
Sources in the party said bigwigs among the politburo members and Cabinet
ministers, feared embarrassment at the hands of much junior members.

They were now lobbying President Robert Mugabe, through Zanu PF secretary
for administration Didymus Mutasa, to reserve six seats in each province for
the veterans.

“Many politburo members are afraid of losing primary elections and thus do
not want to be contested,” said a politburo member. “They have asked the
party to reserve a certain number of House of Assembly and senatorial seats
for them. It appears they are getting a sympathetic ear from Mutasa.”

Another politburo member said Mugabe, who turns 89 next month, has so far
indicated that all officials should be contested.

However, the official said Mugabe could shift his position as there were
prospects that he would be surrounded by mostly new faces unless he shielded
some of his top lieutenants from competition.

Mugabe himself has already been endorsed as Zanu PF’s presidential candidate
in elections which are expected later this year.

But the official said although some party bigwigs could be shielded from
competition, others would not be spared and would face arrest before the

“All those linked to corruption have automatically disqualified themselves
from the primary elections. Judging from Mugabe’s tone at the Wednesday
politburo meeting, we are going to see a few arrests including that of one
or two cabinet ministers,” said the politburo member.

The Standard understands a crack police investigating team from Harare
yesterday swooped on Manicaland to investigate five top officials alleged to
have extorted nearly US$1 million from diamond mining companies in the
province. A senior Zanu PF official confirmed the development.

The official said arrests of suspects were now imminent after Mugabe
referred the case to the police. Police spokesperson, Assistant Commissioner
Charity Charamba yesterday said she was yet to be furnished with information
about the investigations.

The suspects include provincial chairman, Mike Madiro, ousted youth
chairperson Tawanda Mukodza and three others.
Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo could not be reached for comment

Meanwhile, all is not well in Zanu PF after the death of Nkomo amid reports
that jostling for his position has already begun hardly a week after he was

It has emerged two different factions would today hold conflicting events in
Bulawayo. Some politburo, national council and other senior party members
were saying they would be at Nkomo’s Worringham home in honour of the late

Zanu PF secretary for Education, Sikhanyiso Ndlovu yesterday confirmed that
the political leadership in Bulawayo had heard that some senior party
members would be holding a rally at Stanley Square which was organised
without their knowledge and approval.

He said Zanu PF leadership would boycott the rally.
“We are however shocked to hear that the rally is going ahead, something we
feel is disrespectful and is an insult to us and our culture which prohibits
merry-making soon after a burial. We are not attending that rally,” he said.
Ndlovu said the Zanu PF national commissar Webster Shamu had been requested
to cancel the rally.
“We heard that Shamu, Obert Mpofu [Mines minister] and Saviour Kasukuwere
[Indigenisation minster] are coming to the rally,” said Ndlovu.”
“We feel this is an early campaign for the succession of Nkomo while the
whole of Bulawayo is still mourning,” he said.
“We are wondering what they are rushing for? We just buried our VP and
people are already running around with rallies. They are coming all the way
to rule here in Bulawayo when we the local leadership are here.”
Kasukuwere yesterday said the fact that Nkomo was recently buried should not
be a problem.
“Who did you speak to from Bulawayo? I do not know anything about the
cancellation,” he said.

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Former MDC-T mayor joins Zanu PF

January 27, 2013 in Local, Politics

VICTORIA FALLS Mayor Nkosilathi Jiyane yesterday said he was joining Zanu
PF, as he felt disrespected in the MDC-T.


Speaking at a rally organised by Mines and Mining Development minister,
Obert Mpofu at Sizinda Secondary School in Victoria Falls, Jiyane said he
felt “warm” among Zanu PF leaders as they were orderly and respectful.

“I got into council as a young man and worked with Enoch Sibanda and Josphat
Spulila Mpofu [both Zanu PF] who taught me good leadership qualities,” said

“I was voted into council three times because people saw something good in
me. The leadership in Zanu PF is organised, they taught me good leadership.
The future is in Zanu PF. When I was at MDC-T they did not respect or show
any pride that they had a mayor in Victoria Falls, they did not respect me
maybe because of my young age.

“I told them to remain with their party. I feel at home in Zanu PF and warm
because of the love given to me,” said Jiyane who was appointed into the
Hwange Colliery Company Limited Board by Mpofu in 2011.

Jiyane was immediately welcomed and given a scarf by Matabeleland North Zanu
PF vice-chairman, Reeds Dube and a cap by central committee member Fati

Jiyane quit the MDC-T citing persecution by party leaders and interference
in his job.

Since quitting the party, Jiyane had found an ally in Local Government
minister, Ignatius Chombo, fuelling speculation that he would join soon Zanu

Last June seven MDC-T youths were jailed on allegations of assaulting the

MDC-T spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora could not be reached for comment
yesterday as he was not answering his mobile phone.

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Zimbabweans enslaved by superstition

January 27, 2013 in Local

THE mysterious blast in Chitungwiza last week once again raised the question
whether Zimbabweans are enslaved by superstition and witchcraft.


Five people, including a traditional healer and a businessman, died in the

Before the police had made any headway in their investigations, several
theories were already gaining traction.

The most popular being that the blast was caused by “lightning” created by
the traditional healer.

The other theory was that the slain businessman was trying to get rid of a
goblin, while another said he wanted a potion to make him more successful.

But while the full story is still to be told, the way Zimbabweans were quick
to blame the blast on a supernatural act is cause for concern.

There are indications that the blast could have been caused by an anti-tank

Catholic priest Oskar Wermter argues that superstitions and witchcraft are a
form of “escapism” for people who cannot explain their circumstances.

“It is a matter of looking for a scapegoat and blaming other people for one’s
failures,” the clergyman said.
There are several such cases where people fall back on superstition.

Another story that caught the imagination of many was the underwear-raiding
goblin of Gokwe. The goblin was reported to have been stealing women’s
underwear while they slept and dumped the garments at a secluded area near
the village.

But the most popular superstition should be “ngozi” known as avenging
spirits, particularly for a person who dies in unclear circumstances.

Traditionalists believe that to appease the avenging spirits one should pay
restitution or sacrifice a beast otherwise they will never know peace.

The most high-profile case was probably that of Midlands Governor Jason
Machaya, where he had to pay a hefty penalty to appease a man whose son had
been beaten to death by the governor’s son and three others.

Tavenga Chokuda, the father of the dead man demanded a young woman, US$15
000 in cash and 70 head of cattle before he could bury his son.

The son’s remains spent two years in the mortuary.

Chokuda warned that if his demands were not met, his son’s vengeful spirit
would haunt his killers and their families.
Fearing the supernatural ve-ngeance, Machaya coughed-up.

Strangely, most of those convicted for the murder died in prison in bizarre

But opinion is divided among ordinary Zimbabweans on superstition and

A number said their Christian beliefs meant that the only supernatural
things they believed were miracles from God.

“There is nothing like witchcraft,” said Memory Shumba, who described
herself as a devout Pentecostal. “People just make up stories and only God
can have such powers.”

Zibusiso Moyo, a student at the National University of Science and
Technology said witchcraft could not be explained scientifically, making it
hardly plausible.

Cultural activists back spiritual beliefs

Another high-profile case of superstition was that of mermaids that were
said to be “blocking” the pumping of water at a dam in Gokwe and Mutare last

Water Resources Development and Management minister, Samuel Sipepa-Nkomo
later told a parliamentary committee that workers had abandoned their
stations vowing not to return unless the mermaids were appeased.

Sipepa-Nkomo suggested that a troupe of traditional healers and leaders
should be dispatched to the dam to perform rituals to appease the edgy

The minister’s theory seemed to have the backing of several cultural
activists including Peter Zwide Khumalo, a descendant of King Lobengula, who
said mermaids played a central role in spiritual beliefs.

“As a custodian of the tradition I have no doubt,” traditional leader chief
Edison Chihota said of mermaids. “For anyone to dispute this is also
disputing him or herself.”

But were the engineers not just blaming it on mermaids after having failed
to do a job they were trained to do?

‘Witchcraft real cannot be wished away’

Tinotenda Shumba said witchcraft was real and could not be wished away.

“Even those who believe in God cannot explain miracles, in the same way that
witchcraft is inexplicable,” she said. “But witchcraft and superstition are
part of us and we cannot wish them away.”

People from all walks of life are trooping to Emmanuel Makandiwa’s United
Family International and Uebert Angel’s Spirit Embassy where the two claim
to have supernatural powers to heal the seek and create instant wealth for
the poor.

Surprisingly, they still ask the poor to contribute tithes to their

Wermter said witchcraft and superstition were an easy refrain, once one has
a problem he or she blames it on the most unpopular person in the community.

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Council, illegal vendors set on collision course

January 27, 2013 in Community News

INFORMAL traders have reacted angrily to plans by the Harare City Council to
get rid of vendors and illegal structures in the city saying the move would
destroy the livelihoods of several thousands of people.


The Harare City Council recently announced that it was going to get rid of
vendors and pull down illegal structures to keep the city clean and prevent
the outbreak of diseases.

Vendors who sell wares and food almost everywhere in the city have in the
past been blamed for the outbreak of diseases such as typhoid and cholera.

But vendors who spoke to Standardcommunity last week said banning vending in
the city would condemn them into destitution as it would destroy their
source of livelihood, making them incapable of sustaining their families.

A vendor, who only identified herself as Mai Lorraine and operates in Harare’s
central business district, said council was not being considerate as vending
was sustaining a number of families in the city.

She said apart from vending being a source of livelihood to many people,
vendors also contributed significantly to council revenue in the form of

“Most of the people who rent houses in Harare are in the informal sector and
are therefore, contributing the bulk of the revenue to the city, yet they
want to harass us,” she said. “They are not only driving us into poverty,
but they are also negatively affecting their revenue collection.”

The council collects rentals from vendors who operate in designated places
both in the CBD and suburban areas.
Another vendor, Albert Mukwati said council was starting a “war” it would
never win as a lot of people in Harare were surviving on informal trading.

With an 80% unemployment rate in the country, the majority of Zimbabweans
have resorted to informal trading for a living.

“Council must not try to start a war by harassing us and preventing us from
fending for our families because they will not win it,” he said. “People
will have nowhere to go and will obviously react; and authorities would then
think that people are pushing a political agenda, when in fact, it is a
bread and butter issue.”

Zimbabwe Chamber of Informal Economy Association (ZCIEA) secretary general
Lisborn Malaya said the city fathers were being inconsiderate to the plight
of the traders.

He said most of people were forced into illegal vending because of the
scarcity of jobs in the country.

Malaya said the move was not different from the 2005 Operation
Murambatsvina, which left over 250 000 people’s homes and property destroyed
while over 700 000 people were internally displaced.

“It is quite a strong declaration whose effects will be the same as that of
Murambatsvina,” said Malaya. “We are actually on our way to engage council
on the matter. We want to find out what their problem is. If it is about
littering and the environment, then they must provide designated areas where
there will be enough facilities.”

He added: “The effect is that they will increase poverty instead of reducing
it. If they go ahead, they will be taking away the vendors’ only source of
livelihood. Most of these people are widows and single mothers and this will
have ripple effects as they have children to look after.”

Malaya said the council should stop harassing vendors and other informal
traders if they did not have a fallback plan.

“They should give them [vendors] jobs or create an environment where they
[informal traders] will be regularised. They [council officials] are doing
this because they have jobs; they have houses and food on their table,” he

Council is the regulating authority—Mutizwa

Harare City’s environment committee chairman, Stewart Mutizwa said the
decision was reached because of genuine fear of an outbreak of diseases
associated with rain such as cholera and typhoid.

“We would not want council to be in the same predicament as in 2008 where we
lost nearly 4 000 lives because of cholera,” he said. “All the food handlers
must be properly certified.

“We are encouraging people to use our offices and apply for whatever they
want to do and our offices will allocate designated places to those people.”

Mutizwa said there was need to limit and regulate the number of vendors
operating in the city.

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Clean-up victims get decent shelter

January 27, 2013 in Community News

MUTARE — At least 25 families that were displaced from their homes by
government’s Operation Murambatsvina over eight years ago were offered
decent accommodation by a charitable organisation last week.


The families that have been staying in a run-down bar since the displacement
were rescued by the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) which constructed
2-roomed houses for each family.

Following the demolition of their houses in 2005, Mutare City Council
accommodated the families in one of its properties, Mushando Bar in Sakubva
high-density suburb.

But there had been fears of an outbreak of diseases as the families were
sharing a single toilet which also doubled as a bathroom.

City Town Clerk, Obert Muzawazi said the council availed land for
residential stands for the displaced persons while the NRC funded the
constructing of the houses.

Muzawazi said the families went through untold hardships for nearly nine
years that they had been living in the dilapidated bar.

“The residents of Mushando bar have been living in squatter-like, refugee
conditions,” he said. “Vulnerable groups, such as women and children, were
exposed to abuse and poor health and social conditions.”

He added: “As council, we are indebted to NRC for a clear show of kindness
towards less fortunate members of the society.”

NRC has been active in Zimbabwe since 2010, providing protection and
humanitarian assistance to refugees, internally displaced persons (IDPs) and

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DAPP student invents easy-to-use solar cooker

January 27, 2013 in Community News

An innovative Shamva student has invented a solar cooker made from cardboard
boxes and aluminium.


Noel Mubaina (30), who graduated with a diploma in advanced project
management at DAPP Frontline Institute in Shamva last week, said the idea
was motivated by the desire to help people in the face of regular power

Mubaina, who exhibited the solar cooker at the graduation ceremony, said the
cooker was environmentally-friendly and did not contribute to global

“This country has serious electricity problems and there is need for
alternative solutions like the solar cooker,” he said. “Again the other
thing is the world is under fire from global warming and the cooker can do
much to curb the phenomenon since it does not emit gases into the

Mubaina said the solar cooker can produce heat of between 82 and 121 degrees

The cardboard box is covered by an aluminium foil which absorbs and reflects
sun rays to a black pot.

“The pot is covered in plastic to prevent the heat from escaping,” he said.

When cooking, one is not allowed to stir as heat would escape.

“The cooker can only be used to cook meat, beans, eggs and other types of
relish, but it’s not for sadza as one is not allowed to open the lid for
heat will escape,” he said. “Most food cooks at or below 82 degrees Celsius.
It takes an average of two hours to cook meat or rice.

The time taken to cook varies depending on the amount of sun, wind,
thickness of pot and quantity of water or food.
Speaking at the ceremony, Indian Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Jeitendra Tripathi
hailed the institution for producing graduates concerned with tackling
global warming.

“Man-made global warming and climate change is one of the major issues that
we need to face, adapt and mitigate,” he said. “As evidenced by the
exhibition, it is crystal clear that the graduating students that have
acquired the much-needed skills that will enable them to fight global

More than 30 students drawn from different countries obtained diplomas in
advanced project management at Frontline Institute, a college run by the
Development Aid from People to People (DAPP), a subsidiary of Humana People
to People.

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Tobacco farmers warned

January 27, 2013 in Business

TOBACCO Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) says tobacco growers should
comply with the legislated planting dates to prevent the spread of diseases.


The caution comes amid indication that some growers, especially new farmers,
were failing to destroy their stocks after harvesting.

TIMB chief executive officer, Andrew Matibiri said according to the Plant
Pests and Diseases (Tobacco) regulations 1979, tobacco plants in the land
should be destroyed before May 15 each year.

Apart from that, tobacco seed may not be sown before June 1 each year and it
may not be planted into the land before September 1 annually.

Farmers are encouraged to end transplanting by the first week of December
and destruction of seedbeds must be achieved by December 31.

Matibiri said farmers that are not conforming to the legislated dates risked
being fined.

“Farmers that are not complying will be charged a fine of US$100 per every
hectare of stalks not destroyed. We are educating farmers on the importance
of abiding by the legislated dates,” he said.

Gibson Mhaka, an experienced tobacco grower at Hunter’s Lodge in Karoi, said
action must be taken against tobacco growers that failed to abide by the
regulated dates.

“TIMB must punish farmers that are failing to respect these dates. We are
now encountering an outbreak of diseases which we can avoid. It is the duty
of every farmer to protect our industry. I want to encourage all the farmers
to report to TIMB farmers that are not following the dates,” Mhaka said.

According to experts, aphids are the main transmitter of diseases,
especially bushy-top and the potato virus Y (PVY).

Early planting, adherence to legislated dates for sowing tobacco seed,
planting seedlings out in the land, destroying used seedbeds and tobacco
stalks are recommended as the most effective management options farmers can
adopt against the aphid and diseases.

Tobacco is one of Zimbabwe’s largest exports accounting for a third of all
foreign currency earnings, along with gold and minerals.

Almost 99% of the crop was exported to 69 different countries.

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Safari operators appeal for Kasukuwere’s intervention

January 27, 2013 in Business

SAFARI operators have sought the help of Youth Development, Indigenisation
and Empowerment minister Saviour Kasukuwere after the Zimbabwe Parks and
Wildlife Management Authority (ZPWMA) withdrew hunting rights from
indigenous operators and gave them to South African agents.


On December 31 2011, ZPWMA withdrew licences for concessions that were being
run by indigenous operators after the expiry of the licences saying they had
a new strategy of sweating the assets.

According to a Parks board resolution of a meeting held in April 2011 “all
expired leases must revert to the authority where they will be managed under
a different business model”.

“We have since received corroborated evidence that ZPWMA, which falls under
the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources Management, has handed
over the three concession Area namely Matetsi Unit 2, Charara Safari Area
and Makuti Safari Area to South Africa operators, Katzke Safaris and John
Nel,” Safari Operators Association of Zimbabwe (SOAZ) chairman Emmanuel
Fundira wrote to Kasukuwere in a January 10 letter.

“If ZPWMA required an agent rather than a concession holder, I am sure a
pool of existing operators could have been able to facilitate such a role
and also that a tendering process should have taken place, other than opting
to use foreign operators.”

The letter was copied to Environment and Natural Resources Management
minister Francis Nhema and chief secretary to President and Cabinet, Misheck

Charara Safari Area is now being run by Edmond Mkaratigwa’s Bauna Safaris
effective January 1. The company was allocated the concession by ZPWMA.

Chararara, Matetsi Unit 2 and Makuti Safari Area were previously run by
Paradzai Zimondi, Mike Chidziva and Emmanuel Fundira respectively.

SOAZ said the actions by ZPWMA were not only deplorable “but in fact lack
transparency and are against the ethos ofindigenisation and economic
empowerment” adding that the move had weakened the economic base of
indigenous people, enriching foreigners with local resources.

SOAZ said it was “very concer-ned about this type of behaviour and believe
that your office needs to investigate the issue and apply corrective
measures accordingly”.

Nhema referred all questions to the authority’s acting director-general,
Edson Chidziya.

In written responses, the authority said the three concessions in question
were not run by South African operators as alleged, but were being operated
by the Zimbabwe Parks and Management Authority as strategic business units.

“The Authority appointed a marketing agent for the three (3) concessions as
is the norm in the tourism industry. The marketing side is being done by
foreign agents which is also the norm in the tourism industry,” it said.

It said, to be competitive in the industry, one had to depend on marketing
agents in source markets “for the purposes of marketing and selling tourism

“For hunting safaris, these are sold two or three years in advance by agents
in source markets that have direct access and command the respect of the
client base. Foreign clients want to deal with reputable agents whom they
have interacted with before as they entrust their hardearned money as
deposits for the hunts with these people,” it said.

The authority said that tourism entities or companies did not work with one
agent but several agents who were willing to bring business and under the
arrangements the marketing sales agent did not have any control or rights to
the business of the company except to market and bring in clients for which
they are paid a commission.

“In the selection process, both local and foreign agents are considered and
at present, we have applications from both local and international
companies,” the authority said, adding that the South Africa, agent was
appointed because of their reputation in the hunting industry and because
they had already been doing business with Zimbabwe hunting operators.

The authority said the wildlife industry was one of the most indigenised
sectors and Parks had no intention of reversing the Indigenisation Policy.

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Zimbabwe ready for meaningful elections

January 27, 2013 in Opinion

All indications point to a possible general election this year, especially
with the coalition government principals finding common ground on the
constitutional draft. The stage has thus been set for possibly the most
important general election in the life of independent Zimbabwe. The poll, if
its outcome is conclusive and accepted, is set to liberate this promising
country from more than a decade-long period of political and socio-economic

Sunday Opinion by Mziwandile Ndlovu

This poll will be different from recent polls in a number of ways. First,
because the dominant players in the politics of the country are all
currently in a unity government. None of them has the luxury of blaming the
current state of affairs on a governing party. This is particularly true for
the MDC formations whose major campaign fodder has been the ruinous manner
in which Zanu PF has governed the country.

The former opposition movements have not come out unscathed in the court of
public opinion regarding how they have fared in the inclusive government.
The sentiment that they have leaped onto and have become comfortable on the
gravy train is fast gaining traction on the streets, buses and bottle
stores. The MDC-T, in particular, has taken serious flak from the corrupt
exploits of their local government functionaries. Both MDCs need to work
overtime to convince Zimbabweans why they should form the next government.

Of note also, has been the pleasing shift of national debate to policy
issues, especially signified by the MDC-T’s ambitious JUICE economic
blueprint. The last couple of months have seen this policy being extensively
critiqued, particularly in comparison with Zanu PF’s empowerment and
indigenisation policy. It has been a while, particularly at election time,
since parties have gone at each other on policy issues. It appears that we
are on the verge of a positive shift in our political culture. The MDC
formation led by Welshman Ncube, that has yet to produce an economic plan of
its own, is hard-pressed to do so.

Zanu PF, which over the years has endured plummeting popularity ratings, is
enjoying sharing some of this bad publicity with their MDC counterparts. The
party has also ensured that it does not go to sleep but has been using its
time in the inclusive government to redeem itself. They have consistently
pushed their indigenisation drive and have won significant victories that
include forcing some huge corporates to cede 51% ownership to locals.

Though faced with considerable opposition, Zanu PF’s redistributive agenda
has been gaining some currency in the circles of some young ambitious
entrepreneurs and professionals who are building fortunes and this is likely
to influence how they vote.

Candidate selection is also set to be very interesting this time around.
MDC-T, who have the highest number of parliamentary seats, have particularly
been accused of having poor MPs. This is largely expected to change as the
party has been recruiting highly respected individuals to beef up the party
ahead of elections. It is rumoured that many civil society leaders will
formally join the party’s ranks and contest for seats.

Not to be outdone, Zanu PF has its own crop of Young Turks and professionals
agitating for constituencies and an opportunity to lead the party’s renewal

Of note, has also been the energy and zeal with which Welshman Ncube’s MDC
has been campaigning. The party, largely viewed as smaller and less popular
than the MDC-T, has been in the villages and towns across the country almost
every week canvassing for support. Ncube also scored a significant victory
in getting Sadc to recognise him as a principal. He has also been breathing
fire chasing other principals around Harare in a bold attempt to include
himself in the principals’ meetings. While some analysts have said the party
will get a few more seats as a reward for their campaigns and also
capitalise on the electorate’s disillusionment with both MDC-T and Zanu PF,
it remains to be seen how the “party of villagers” will fare.

Perhaps most significant is the fact that people are unlikely to vote with
their stomachs this time around. With something in their tummies, people are
likely to be more discerning of who they entrust with fulfilling their
aspirations. Sanctions/restrictive measures are also unlikely to have any
noticeable effect on the polls as their usefulness has largely dissipated
and are largely compounded by Zanu PF’s new surge of confidence driven by
their new found wealth in the Chiadzwa diamonds, which they largely view as
their prime sanctions-busting tool. Even MDC leaders with foresight like
MDC-T’s Tendai Biti have begun to publicly lobby for the removal of
sanctions as they are not having their desired effect. Whichever way you
look at the impending polls, they make for a mouth-watering, soapie-style
plot. Let the games begin.

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Corrupt officials demean the value of land redistribution

January 27, 2013 in Opinion

Years since its inception, the Land Reform and Resettlement Programme (LRRP)
has been fraught with irregularities, inconsistencies and mired so deep in
corrupt practices, many have simply forgotten why it was ever implemented.
Sadly, its very essence has been diminished as greedy individuals mostly in
high offices jostle to acquire as many chunks of land as they can grab for
no good reason except to flex their puny political or economic muscle.

Opinion by Phyllis Mbanje

It is not only the administration of the process that is at fault, but the
state of the acquired farms is an embarrassment to all who know the real
purpose of land reform. Most of the farms that have been taken over are in a
pathetic state.

The LRRP has exposed several weaknesses in the actual administration of the
programme and as Justice Bharat Patel rightly pointed out early this week,
the Ministry of Lands and Rural Resettlement has a mammoth task of putting
its house in order. As the custodian of the programme, the ministry is
supposed to set up transparent structures that will ensure that the process
is orderly and fair.

Justice Patel was handing a landmark ruling in which he ordered Zanu PF MP
for Seke, Phineas Chihota, to give back a farm he had unprocedurally grabbed
from one Florence Sigudu. The latter had been allocated part of Denby Farm
in Seke by the minister in 2005 but a Provincial Lands Committee chaired by
Chihota took a decision to dispossess Sigudu of her farm on very flimsy
grounds. In a wanton display of abuse of office, the MP took the farm to
consolidate it with his own adjoining one.

In his hard-hitting ruling, Justice Patel noted with concern how the
minister was flouting procedures with no legal ground at all. He explained
that although the popularised offer letters stated that the offer may be
cancelled or withdrawn, the minister could only exercise powers stipulated
by the statute. He cannot withdraw the offer in the absence of an explicit
statutory power to that effect. Justice Patel also said the Agricultural
Land Resettlement Act which the offer letter is said to be based on does not
contemplate the allocation of land for settlement through offer letters,
either on their own or as precursors to formal leases. The Act does not
entitle the minister or any other authority to cancel offer letters or
terminate rights conferred.

It is those weaknesses in the current administration of the land reform
programme that are being fronted as excuses to grab land from the weak.

A clear, transparent, accountable allocation process that is also open to
judicial scrutiny is one way of bringing normality to the chaotic situation.
It will also protect the poor and defenceless section of the community who
obviously are not privileged to seek pricy legal advice in the event that
their farms are taken by the powerful. The rampant land grabbing has ceased
to be about black people taking from the white “colonialists” but about
powerful black people taking from their weaker brethren.

While administrative issues remain key in addressing the current stand-off,
those who have land should really put it to good use instead of turning
farms into wastelands

It is however, not all doom and gloom because a few of these farmers have
actually maintained the flourishing farms and in some cases superseded the
previous owners. There is a new breed of upcoming young black farmers who
know exactly what to do with the pieces of land. This breed just might
redeem an otherwise aimless exercise that smacks of agendas other than their
intended purpose.

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‘Conservation farming is the answer’

January 27, 2013 in Opinion

If most of those that have stuck to conventional farming methods are to be
honest, they will tell you that, for some time now, things have not been
going so well.

Column by Chipo Masara

Some farmers I talked to recently were on the brink of giving up farming
altogether, dismissing it as a trade that’s no longer viable.

It would seem only tobacco farmers can claim to have been fully rewarded for
their efforts, but that is mainly because tobacco is one crop which can
thrive even under the most unfavourable of conditions.

This is unlike crops such as maize, which will only thrive when all the
necessary components are favourable. But because the conditions necessary
for most crops to grow, such as sufficient rainfall and fertile soils, are
no longer in place, that makes production of some crops futile.

In spite of much effort by farmers, the government and other stakeholders to
revive the agricultural sector, there has been a continuous trend of reaping
very low yields.

The downward trend farming in Zimbabwe has taken has left many households
facing acute hunger. Many people now depend on the government and donors for
food aid and in the instances when the help does not come forth, many

But agriculture, which once thrived in Zimbabwe and ensured every household’s
food security status, remains the primary answer to the starvation.

That’s why it is about time farmers adapted new tried and tested farming
methods that are guaranteed to bring favourable results.

The answer is in conservation farming!

Conservation farming is any system of farming that helps in soil and water
conservation by reducing erosion, runoff and overall improving conditions
for plant growth.

New methods of farming will increase yields

Conservation farming includes a number of components and practices such as
zero tillage, contour and stubble farming, alley cropping, crop rotation and
trap cropping, among many others.

Zero tillage (no tillage) involves planting crops directly into land which
is protected by a mulch using minimum or no tillage techniques. The mulch,
which many ignorant farmers still go to pains to clear off, has been proven
to offer many an advantage, among them preventing the rate of soil erosion
and water runoff, and improving the soil’s fertility.

Contour farming and strip cropping involves planting across the slope,
following the contours of the land, breaking the field into alternating
bands of row crops or small grains.

Farming in the contours has been observed to create small ridges that help
slow runoff water.

Stubble mulching is the type of farming that involves placing the stubble or
crop residue on the land as surface cover during a fallow period. Stubble
mulching helps prevent erosion from wind and water and helps conserve the
soil’s moisture.
Alley cropping is one type of farming I would personally vouch for as I saw
first-hand during a media tour hosted by the Forestry Commission late last
year how it is doing wonders for one farmer in the Chivhu district, which is
often characterised by very little rainfall and very high temperatures.

The method involves planting rows of trees at wide spacing with a companion
crop grown in the alleyway, between the rows of trees. It is a good method
used to enhance and diversify farm products, reduce surface water runoff and
erosion, improve nutrient utilisation, reduce wind erosion as well as
improving wildlife habitat.

Crop rotation is a practice of growing a series of dissimilar types of crops
in the same area in sequential seasons. A good rotation plan has been seen
to largely reduce pests and diseases on crops.

Because planting the same type of crop at the same piece of land on a
continual basis has been proven to serve only to tire the soils and render
them less productive, crop rotation is ideal.

Integrated pest management (IPM) involves the gathering of comprehensive
information on pest traits, the information of which is used to manage pest
damage in a manner friendly to people and to the environment.

And lastly is trap cropping, which involves planting a trap crop which
attracts agricultural pests away from nearby crops. Trap crops can be
planted around the circumference of the field.

I believe in order for agriculture to once again play a pivotal role in the
country’s economy and to ensure food security for every household, every
farmer needs to let go of conventional farming methods and take on
conservation farming.
For feedback, email

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Fight for wetlands ongoing

January 27, 2013 in Opinion

On January 22, a historic meeting organised by the Humanitarian Information
Facilitation Centre (HIFC) which drew together 50 brave and true gladiators
for wetland conservation, comprising representatives from humanitarian,
water security and environmental organisations, wetland experts,
hydrologists and geologists, journalists and concerned citizens, has
resulted in the immediate formation of the Wetlands Survival Forum. The
delegates resolved to educate the public as a matter of dire urgency on the
wetlands crisis and its extremely serious implications for all of us, and to
put pressure on policy and law makers at highest levels, to put an end, once
and for all, to all proposed and actual development and other destructive
human activities on the wetlands that remain.

Column by Rosie Mitchell

Last year, the issue of the on-going and rapidly escalating loss of wetlands
nationwide, and especially, in the capital, to illegal human activities in
the form of cultivation, dumping and construction, received greater media
attention. More and more people are waking up to the real facts of the
matter: The wetlands are our lifeline to water. They are right at the head
of the hydrological sequence through which ultimately water comes out of our
taps, boreholes or wells, and we capital dwellers are right at the top of
this natural, and if left well alone, perfectly functioning water system,
because of the position of our city at the top of the watershed. As a
result, almost 7 million people depend on the conservation of the wetlands
found in and around Harare. But these are systemically and rapidly being
destroyed by unscrupulous developers whose motivation is money and who do
not care about the longer term consequences for everyone!

The meeting on January 22 which started with informative presentations by Dr
Chris Magadza, expert hydrologist and pre-eminent wetlands champion, and
Alleta Nyahuye, representing the Environmental Management Agency, led to
fruitful discussions around the many issues, which at heart, are
humanitarian. While wetland conservation obviously has importance
environmentally, beyond the hydrological processes they support to
sustaining biodiversity and preventing the extinction of species which
survive only in such areas, fundamentally, the wetlands crisis from the
human perspective is about water supply. Already, water security is a
burning concern across our country, especially in Harare and Bulawayo, in
both of which cities, there simply is no longer enough water for the
populations now living there. This shortage can be laid in no small part at
the door of wetland destruction, the wetlands underpinning the very
foundation of our ultimate water supply.

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Corruption at the core of Zanu PF

January 27, 2013 in Editorial

It is very unlikely that the five people that President Robert Mugabe said
should be investigated by the police over extorting money from diamond
miners in the name of Zanu PF and converting the money to their own use are
the only ones in the party to have used the practice to enrich themselves.

Editorial Comment

The practice has been known since Independence with individuals in the party
approaching businesspeople in different locations for “donations” to the
party whenever there has been a Zanu PF function. This widespread use of
blackmail has targeted not only white and Asian businesspeople and generally
foreigners but also successful black entrepreneurs who have had to part with
huge amounts of money because of the vulnerability of their business
operations, be it farming, mining, retail or whatever sector.

Zanu PF functionaries have sought “protection fees” from these entrepreneurs
promising they would not be affected by party policies such as
indigenisation. The extortion has thrived because there has not been an
accounting system in place to curtail it. Anyone can claim to be an emissary
of the party and bigwigs in the party are known to have “mujibhas” all over
the places running their errands. This explains their newly acquired wealth.

As recently as last year questions were raised as to the source of the money
used to build the folly that was used for the party’s annual people’s
conference in Gweru. Many suspected the money could have been extorted from
foreign businesspeople on the pretext of protection or the award of mining
contracts. Much of it may never have been accounted for.

Whatever the case may be, the Manicaland episode is just a tip of the
iceberg. Provincial chairman Mike Madiro is hardly a “big fish” in Zanu PF.
He might have a case to answer and might even be sacrificed for the sake of
scoring a political point, but this kind of corruption goes to the very core
of the former ruling party.

When push comes to shove, Madiro might choose to go alone but the nation won’t
be fooled by Zanu PF’s political chicanery.

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Superstition entraps Zimbabwean minds

January 27, 2013 in Editorial

Very few people in Zimbabwe have come across the term penis captivus, but
almost everyone has come across the word runyoka. The two expressions
describe the same condition namely, “a rare occurrence in heterosexual
intercourse when the muscles in the vagina clamp down on the penis much more
firmly than usual, making it impossible for the penis to withdraw from the
vagina.” (Wikipedia)

From the Editor’s desk by Nevanji Madanhire

The condition was reported in the British Medical Journal in 1979 by Dr F
Kräupl Taylor. He concluded that the condition existed but “almost all the
cases mentioned in medical publications and in textbooks are based on
hearsay and rumour”. His conclusion of the existence of the condition was
however based on two papers published by two 19th century German
gynaecologists who had personally dealt with cases of the condition.

Kräupl Taylor concluded the cases by two gynaecologists left in him “no
doubt about the reality of this unusual symptom” but continued to say the
condition however, “is so rare that it is often regarded nowadays as no more
than a prurient myth”.

One of the gynaecologists described how his patient who had always had
intercourse normally with his partner narrated the experience:

“He reported that just at the moment when he thought intercourse, which had
been quite normal till then, had come to an end, he suddenly felt that he,
or rather his glans [organ], was held back deep in the vagina, tightly
gripped and imprisoned, while his whole penis was in the vagina. All
attempts at withdrawal failed. When he forced the attempts, he caused severe
pain to himself and his wife. Bathed in perspiration through agitation,
alarm and his failure to free himself, he was finally forced to resign
himself to waiting in patience. He could not say how many minutes this
lasted, his imprisonment seemed endless. Then — the hindrance vanished on
its own; he was free.”

Perhaps it is the rarity of the condition that has spurned all the myths
around penis captivus in Zimbabwe linking it to black magic. What is very
interesting is Dr Kräupl Taylor’s observation that most reports are based on
hearsay and rumour. We have head a handful cases reported in Harare but no
one has ever confirmed that he or she personally witnessed the occurrence.
News about it is almost always second hand as in, “My neighbour told me he
had been told by a friend who had personally seen it.”

Zimbabweans believe that a husband can lock his wife using black magic in
such a way that if she has sexual intercourse with another man they won’t be
able to separate. Street lingo in Zimbabwe calls this “durawalling”.
Durawall was originally a trade name for a locally-made precast concrete
wall but now has become a generic name for all perimeter walls. Almost
everyone in Zimbabwe believes in “durawalling” which scares the daylights
out of all men inclined towards adultery, yet it may in fact be “no more
than a prurient myth”.

Zimbabweans are such a superstitious lot that any rare occurrence is quickly
explained as black magic. That black magic exists cannot be dismissed
entirely; it is practised right across the globe whether it’s in western
capitals, in the jungles of the Barbados (voodoo) or in sangoma dens in
South Africa, but it has not had the same petrifying effect on the whole
national psyche as it has in Zimbabwe.

In a world of nanotechnology; in which science has gone so far to explain
all sorts of phenomena, in an information age in which people communicate in
real time like magic across impossible distances, Zimbabweans think that
snakes can rob banks. Any successful businessman is looked at with suspicion
as someone who owns some supernatural object he uses to steal money from
banks. Not only that, but some people go about masquerading as prophets who
can make automated teller machines spew wads of notes of the greenback at
the command of a prayer! Recently we have had rumours about buses and vans
that talk and grinding mills that ask their operators to give them a rest.
This means the omnibus that brought you to church today may not have been
running on an engine but on the back of some superhuman life called a

Last week the country was bound in a spell by a bomb that went off in
Chitungwiza. The story was too juicy to attribute it to a simple bomb: the
scene of the incident was the residence of a n’anga/sangoma/witchdoctor, the
dramatis personae were the n’anga himself and a businessman in the transport
sector, the climax was the demise of both and a few others who constituted
collateral damage. The conclusion was that the businessman was consulting
the n’anga so he could either, through black magic, enhance his business or
was trying to dispose of a troublesome charm or was trying to destroy a
rival. The explosion was the result of either the charm refusing to be
destroyed, or the rival was too powerful magic-wise to be destroyed, etc.

The complication of the whole episode was a supine authority (the police)
that would not release a preliminary report of findings; and a complicity
Press that fed the speculation, rumour and hearsay that reigned supreme for
a whole week.
Even when the 24-year-old man at the centre of the whole episode turned out
to be a simple crook who masqueraded as a prophet at night and sorcerer
during the day conning people of their hard-earned money, people remained
enthralled by the power of the explosion which they concluded was unnatural.

But why is the Zimbabwean mind so superstitious? A simple explanation would
be the all-pervasive poverty engulfing the nation. Why is this explanation
valid? Most, if not all the stories fuelling the belief in supernatural
phenomena are to do with hunting for money. People follow churches in
pursuit of riches; they also consult n’angas in pursuit of the same. This
proves true the adage, “Money is the root of all evil.”

What has happened to good old-fashioned hard work? Money can only be
acquired through an individual’s enterprise and hard work. There cannot be
shortcuts; any attempts to acquire wealth through magic or criminality
usually have a bad ending as happened in the Chitungwiza case where it is
now known with certainty the victims were handling a bomb, trying to extract
something from it.

But at what point in time is Zimbabwe going to make the transition from the
belief in witchcraft to science, which switch most of the world has already

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