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DAVOS-UPDATE 1-Zimbabwe's PM asks investors, donors to return

Thu Jan 28, 2010 9:06pm GMT

*Zimbabwe PM sees unity gov't process as irreversible

*Tsvangirai sees referendum in October, elections in 2011

*Calls on foreign donors, investors to return to Zimbabwe

By Martin Howell

DAVOS, Switzerland, Jan 28 (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's Prime Minister Morgan
Tsvangirai said he believed the process that led to creation of a unity
government last February is irreversible and that it is time for Western
donors and investors to return to the country.

Speaking to a small group of journalists at the World Economic Forum in
Davos, Tsvangirai said he expects a referendum on a new constitution around
October of this year, leading to elections in 2011.

"I believe that the inclusive government process is a process which is
irreversible," he said.

He stressed that foreign investors should be reassured that the country was
not sliding backward. "Certainly the country is moving forward, and this is
a time to look at the country in a more positive light."

His optimistic comments were in contrast to news last week that Zimbabwe had
suspended moves to draw up a new constitution due to political bickering
over funding. That was seen as dealing a blow to hopes for free and fair
elections next year after the intended adoption of the charter.

 Tsvangirai and his arch rival President Robert Mugabe signed a
power-sharing agreement in September 2008, which led to formation of the
unity government last February and an agreement to write a new constitution
within 18 months.

Western donors, expected to provide the bulk of what Zimbabwe needs to
revive its severely distressed economy, are reluctant to release aid without
broad political reforms.

Tsvangirai said he had been told by Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper
in a bilateral meeting at the WEF that the perception will remain "very
negative" as long as Mugabe remains in power. Canadian government officials
traveling with Harper were not immediately available for comment.

Many donors initially suspended aid over policy differences with Mugabe.

But Tsvangirai called on the West to be practical rather than theoretical.

"Come and make an assessment on the ground. Come and talk to Zimbabweans.
How do they feel about the current political and economic situation in the
country? And you'll be convinced that 85 percent support the inclusive
government and its efforts," he said.

Despite his optimism, Tsvangirai acknowledged that he could not predict how
Mugabe would behave. "Personally, I don't know what his intentions are."

Asked if Mugabe could seize full control of the country once again,
Tsvangirai said: "I can't sit and predict that a coup will happen and that
there will be a derailment of the project. All I am positive about is that
so far this process is irreversible."

He said he meets with Mugabe once a week before Monday cabinet meetings, and
that they walk into the meetings together.

Tsvangirai said it was difficult for him to deal with Mugabe given past

He said he felt the veteran leader had in the past tried to "destroy" him
but that was no longer the question.

"It is not that I will stand on top of the mountain and defend Mugabe's
past, but I am talking about the country's future and this is the delicate
moment to support the process that is taking place in Zimbabwe."

Tsvangirai said it may be as long as five years before the country can
return to using the Zimbabwe dollar because it needs to rebuild its levels
of industrial and agricultural production and its gold and foreign currency

The Zimbabwe dollar was destroyed by hyperinflation and replaced with
multiple foreign currencies last year.

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Court issues arrest warrants for white farmers

by Own Correspondent Friday 29 January 2010

HARARE - Four Zimbabwean white farmers who were ordered to leave their
properties within 24 hours last Tuesday have been issued with warrants of
arrest by a magistrate in the southeastern farming town of Chipinge, the
Commercial Framers Union (CFU) said on Thursday.

Magistrate Samuel Zuze convicted Algernon Taffs of Chirega Farm, Dawie
Joubert of Stilfontein, Mike Odendaal of Hillcrest and Mike Jahme of
Silverton Farm for refusing to vacate their properties and sentenced them to
a US$800 fine each. He ordered that they immediately move out of their homes
and vacate their farms by Wednesday evening.

But the farmers filed an urgent appeal in the High Court in Harare Wednesday
evening, a move that under court procedures means the ruling of the lower
court is automatically put on hold, allowing the farmers to remain on their
properties until conclusion of their appeal against both conviction and

CFU director Hendrik Olivier said: "It has just been reported that
Magistrate Samuel Zuze has refused to recognise the High Court (appeal) and
has issued a warrant of arrest for all the farmers who were in court on
Tuesday and to whom he issued eviction orders. The first farmer to be
arrested has been Mr Dawie Joubert."

In terms of the eviction orders the farmers should have vacated their
properties by 5pm on Wednesday.

"However, the 24-hour period given to them to vacate their homes and
properties of up to 50 years proved to be an almost impossible task to
complete in such a short time," Olivier said.

The mainly white CFU last has criticised the power-sharing government
between President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai for
failing to end chaos in the farming sector.

The government has watched helplessly as members of the security forces and
hardliner activists of Mugabe's ZANU PF party intensified in recent weeks a
drive to seize all land still in white hands, causing deep frustration among
the farmers.

The beleaguered white farmers, in a strongly worded statement last week
labelled the ongoing farm seizures a "crime against humanity" and called on
the coalition government to act to end lawlessness on farms in keeping with
the 2008 power-sharing agreement that gave birth to the administration.

Under the power-sharing agreement Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime
Minister Arthur Mutambara, who is third signatory to the pact, promised to
restore the rule of law in the farming sector, including carrying out a land
audit to weed out multiple farm owners - nearly all of them senior ZANU PF
officials who have hoarded most of the best farms seized from whites.

The coalition government is yet to act to fulfil the promise to restore law
and order in the key agricultural sector, while more farms - including some
owned by foreigners and protected under bilateral investment protection
agreements between Zimbabwe and other nations - have been seized over the
past few months.
And to make matters worse, according to the CFU, police and judicial
officers who are supposed to enforce the rule of law were also among the
beneficiaries of the free-for-all land grab. - ZimOnline

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‘Zim cholera fatality rate still too high’

by Own Correspondent Friday 29 January 2010

HARARE – Zimbabwe's cholera fatality rate of 1.8 percent is still higher
than the recommended international threshold although overall infections of
the deadly water borne disease are declining, according to a report by the
Ministry of Health and the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The epidemiological report released Wednesday said 10 out of the country’s
62 districts have been affected by the cholera outbreak that started on
September 7 2009, compared to 51 districts at the same period last year.

According to the report, 49 cumulative cholera cases and five deaths were
reported by January 24 2010 to the WHO through the Health Ministry’s
National Health Information Unit.

"The crude case fatality rate since the outbreak started stands at 3.4
percent. By week three last year, 43 672 cumulative cases and 2 290 deaths
had been reported, with a crude case fatality rate of 5.2 percent.

"For the same reporting period the cases reported this year are 0.3 percent
of last year’s cases, whilst the deaths are 0.2 percent of last year’s

"This year’s case fatality rate is lower than last year’s by 1.8 percent
although it is still higher than the recommended 1 percent threshold."

The epidemiological bulletin compiled by the Health Ministry and the WHO
provides a weekly overview of the outbreaks and other important public
health events occurring in Zimbabwe.

It includes disaggregated data to inform and improve the continuing public
health response by the various partners. It also provides guidance to
agencies on issues relating to data collection, analysis and interpretation,
and suggests operational strategies on the basis of epidemiological patterns
so far.

The cases reported so far came from Bindura, Chegutu, Chipinge, Gokwe North,
Gokwe South, Harare, Kadoma, Makonde, Rushinga and Seke.

The affected districts are in the following six provinces namely: Harare,
Manicaland, Midlands, Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland East and Mashonaland

Fifty-eight (38.9 percent) of the cumulative cases were reported by
Manicaland, followed by Midlands with 57 cases (38.3percent) and Mashonaland
West which had 22 cases (14.8percent). Mashonaland West province has the
highest number of districts affected by cholera.

The report said 82 percent of the cumulative cases were from rural areas and
the remaining 18 percent from urban areas compared to the corresponding week
last year when urban areas had 66 percent of the cases and rural areas had
34 percent.

The report said by week ending January 24, 253 cumulative probable cases of
the deadly pandemic H1N1 (2009) had been reported in Zimbabwe, 41 of which
were confirmed to be the pandemic.

A cholera epidemic that coincided with a doctors strike killed 4 288 people
out of 98 592 infections between August 2008 and July 2009.

Health experts have warned that Zimbabwe’s humanitarian situation remains
precarious and that the same problems that helped drive the last cholera
epidemic remained unresolved, with six million people or half of the country’s
total population of 12 million people with little or no access to safe water
and sanitation.

Aid agencies say they were on standby to respond to an expected surge in
cholera cases this year with the cash-strapped power-sharing government of
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and President Robert Mugabe seen struggling
to cope in the event of a major outbreak.

The new Harare government has promised to rebuild the economy and restore
basic services such as water supplies, health and education that had
virtually collapsed after years of neglect and under-funding.
But the administration has found it hard to undertake any meaningful
reconstruction work after failing to get financial support from rich Western
nations that insist they want to see more political reforms before they can
loosen the purse strings. – ZimOnline

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Breakthrough Reported in Zimbabwe Constitution Making Process

Ish Mafundikwa | Harare 28 January 2010

The Zimbabwe constitution process is set to resume after the parties to the
unity government agreed on the issue of official reporters that had stalled
the process.

The Co-chairman of the parliamentary committee in charge of the Zimbabwe
constitution process, Douglas Mwonzora, told VOA the parties to the unity
government have reached a compromise position.  Two members of each of the
70 outreach teams will now verify the official reports of the consultation
meetings the outreach teams will hold.

Mwonzora said the outreach teams would be deployed soon to gather what
Zimbabweans want in the country's new charter.

In a related matter, three Zimbabwean organizations close to Prime Minister
Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change Party say they will
campaign for the rejection of any constitution resulting from the current
outreach program.

The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, the Zimbabwe National Students Union
and the National Constitutional Assembly say they maintain their stance
against the ongoing constitution making process.

National Constitutional Assembly Chairman Lovemore Madhuku insists the
exercise should have been carried out by an independent body and not by

"We have struggled for over 12 years as NCA to push the position that we
need an independent commission," he said. "That is the position that we
still stand by."

Madhuku added that this does not mean the end of the NCA alliance with the
Movement for Democratic Change.  But he cautioned the situation would be
reviewed should the unity government continue with what he called its
neo-liberal policies.

ZCTU president Lovemore Matombo also dismissed the current constitutional
exercise saying he sees nothing acceptable coming out of the process.

"How do you expect people who are fighting every day to come up with a
reliable constitution?  So we said you are still fighting.  Until you cease
fighting we need to agree to disagree that the process is wrong," he said.

The infighting in the unity government once again made headlines when
President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF Party said there would be no progress on
implementing the agreement that brought about the unity government unless
the MDC calls for a lifting of the travel bans and other measures imposed on
Mr. Mugabe, some ranking members of his party and companies close to Zanu-PF
for alleged human rights abuses.

But MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa said Zanu-PF brought the sanctions upon
themselves by being undemocratic and perpetrating acts of violence on the
people of Zimbabwe.

"We do appreciate that Zanu-PF have sinned by way of omission and commission
in the past, and these issues are the ones that have brought about that
bi-lateral issues between them and those that imposed those measures," he

Chamisa said the MDC would only call for the lifting of the measures once
Zanu-PF sticks to the agreement that brought about the government.  He said
then the parties could speak with one voice.

The British ambassador in Harare, Michael Canning, issued a statement saying
the sanctions were not MDC measures, rather they were European Union
measures.  He said the key to having restrictive measures eased or lifted is
for those in Zimbabwe who are resisting progress to implement the
commitments to reform they agreed to in the so-called Global Political

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Zimbabwe plans to open railways to private participants

By: Oscar Nkala
29th January 2010

The Zimbabwe government says it will soon open up the rail sector to private
players, ending the monopoly the ailing National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ)
has enjoyed for decades.

This comes on the heels of a World Bank recommendation that the NRZ close
down two-thirds of its railway network to allow for rehabilitation because
of the high potential for disaster it poses.

According to the 2010 to 2015 Medium-Term Plan presented by Finance Minister
Tendai Biti recently, government is considering the creation of a separate
body "to own and operate railway infrastructure while the rail (passenger
and bulk) freight services are opened up to a number of sector players for a

If approved, the plan will mark the end of the NRZ's reign in managing the
country's 3 077 km of railway infrastructure, which includes signalling and
telecommunications systems, leaving it to compete against other players in
providing rail transport services.

The plan proposes a massive rehabilitation of all railway infrastructure,
which has been paralysed by obsolete communication systems, worn-out rail
lines and the theft of more than three-quarters of copper wire lines, which
has effectively paralysed the signal and communication systems across the

Biti tells Engineering News that the Zimbabwe railway system is on the brink
of collapse, owing to many factors, among them mismanagement and failure by
the parastatal to update its systems over the past 20 years.

"The railway system has collapsed - and I mean it has collapsed entirely.
Following a study by a team of experts from the World Bank, we have been
given recommendations to shut down at least two-thirds of the network
because it is a disaster waiting to happen," Biti says.

The NRZ, which needs at least $274-million to conduct a detailed
infrastructure update, was allocated only $16,7-milion for the mammoth task,
which is expected to take nearly a decade to complete. However, NRZ
spokesperson Fanuel Masikati tells Engineering News that the parastatal is
not taking the advice of the World Bank.

"Suggestions that we should close the greater part of our network are
unfounded; there will be nothing of that sort. There are evident challenges
that we are battling against but rehabilitation efforts are under way to
bring NRZ back on track."

He says the NRZ is a key operator in the national economy and any suspension
of ser-vices, even partly, would amount to "national economic sabotage".

"[The NRZ] supports various industrial activities and is key to the economic
revival strategies that government is pursuing. Maintenance activities
should continue without stopping industrial activity. However slow, the
public utility should continue operations," Masikati says.

A senior engineman with the NRZ tells Engineering News that only 12 diesel
engines are in operation across the country, of which only six are still
usable for long-distance passenger and goods freight transportation.

"The rest are down and in need of replacement. Presently, any engine that
breaks down is cannibalised for spare parts; that is why we are now using
old steam locomotives for shunting around the marshalling yards in Bulawayo,
Gweru and Harare. For exmaple, we have a situation where an engine that
brings the overnight passenger train from Harare is immediately sent to
Hwange to collect coal or down to Beitbridge to pull up fuel tankers."

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ZAPU set to elect substantive leadership

January 29, 2010

By Mxolisi Ncube

JOHANNESBURG - The re-launched opposition ZAPU party says that it will elect
a substantive leadership at a congress to be held in four months' time.

ZAPU, which officially ended its 22-year-old unity pact with President
Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party and re-launched last year, is currently under
the leadership of former Home Affairs Minister - Dumiso Dabengwa, who is its
interim chairman.

However, Methuseli Moyo, the party's director of information and publicity,
said in a statement released Thursday that the party was scheduled to hold
its national congress in May at a "venue and specific date to be decided".

"The party congress will debate and endorse the amended ZAPU constitution,
party policy and manifesto," said Moyo.

"Also, the congress will elect a substantive National Executive Committee
and Council of Elders Committee. The party will emerge from congress with a
substantive leadership and commonly adopted policies and manifesto to lead
us to victory in the forthcoming national elections."

Moyo said that ZAPU had already initiated the process of holding elections
to choose substantive branch committees, after which district leadership
would be elected.

"We expect structures to elect provincial committees by March," he said.

"Provincial chairpersons have been instructed through a circular on the
procedures to be followed on conducting elections.

"Only registered or card-carrying members of ZAPU are allowed to contest
elections which should be conducted jointly by the interim provincial
committee and council of elders."

The ZAPU spokesman said that a committee headed by the party's interim
secretary for finance, Stylish Magida, and with members drawn from all the
country's 10 provinces, had been tasked to mobilize resources and logistics
such as conference venue, transport, accommodation, food and materials for
the congress.

"We expect around 5 000 delegates from all over Zimbabwe, and ZAPU's
Diaspora provinces of South Africa, the United Kingdom and Europe to attend
the congress."

The re-launched opposition party, originally founded by the late Vice
President Joshua Nkomo, is currently involved in an internal fight which
late last year led to the suspension of six of its executive members on
allegations that they deliberately flouted the party's rules and

The six are Evans Ndebele, Retired Colonel Ray Ncube, and Smile Dube, former
Bulawayo councilor Alderman Charles Mpofu, Nhlanhla Ncube and Charles

Some of the suspended members have since accused Dabengwa of trying to run
the party using "the same dictatorial methods as those employed by President
Robert Mugabe in Zanu-PF.

Dabengwa has pleaded innocence, saying that the suspensions were the
decision of ZAPU's Bulawayo Province, to which the six belong. Some of the
party's South African executive members this week complained that the former
Home Affairs Minister had not consulted on any of the decisions he has taken
in the party since his election into his current position last May.

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General elections in 2011: Tsvangirai

29/01/2010 00:00:00

PRIME Minister Morgan Tsvangirai says he expects a constitutional referendum
to be conducted in October allowing general elections, which will end the
life of the coalition government, to be held in 2011.

Early this month, the MDC-T leader appeared to resist pressure by SADC
facilitator President Jacob Zuma that the country speeds up implementation
of GPA reforms in order to hold elections next year.

However, speaking to reporters in Switzerland, where he is attending the
World Economic Forum meetings, Tsvangirai endorsed Zuma's time-line.

He said he expects the ongoing exercise to draft a new constitution to be
completed in time for a referendum over its adoption in October this year.

The Prime Minister told the small group of reporters he was addressing that
the country would then hold elections in 2011.

Still, Tsvangirai conceded that he could not be certain about the intentions
of his coalition partner, President Robert Mugabe.

"Personally, I don't know what his intentions are," Tsvangirai said adding
he was also not sure whether the Zanu PF leader, who has ruled Zimbabwe
since independence in 1980, would seek to take full control of the country

"I can't sit and predict that a coup will happen and that there will be a
derailment of the project. All I am positive about is that so far this
process is irreversible," he said.

The MDC-T leader said he found it difficult to relate with Mugabe given past
bad feelings adding he felt the Zanu PF leader had tried to "destroy" him.

Tsvangirai however insisted that the acrimony was now gone adding he meets
Mugabe once every week before cabinet gatherings adding they then walk into
the meetings together.

"It is not that I will stand on top of the mountain and defend Mugabe's
past, but I am talking about the country's future and this is the delicate
moment to support the process that is taking place in Zimbabwe.

The MDC-T leader said he was optimistic about Zimbabwe's future and urged
prospective investors to visit the country and find out how ordinary people
feel about the transition which is underway.

"(Investors should) come and make an assessment on the ground. Come and talk
to Zimbabweans. How do they feel about the current political and economic
situation in the country? And you'll be convinced that 85 percent support
the inclusive government and its efforts," he said.

Tsvangirai is attending the annual Davos meetings where he hopes to persuade
investors to take another look at Zimbabwe insisting the country has turned
the corner.

On Wednesday he met his Canadian counterpart Stephen Harper who however,
said international perception about Zimbabwe would remain "very negative" as
long as Mugabe was still in power.

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MDC Masvingo boss charged with fraud

January 28, 2010

By Owen Chikari

MASVINGO - Police in Masvingo have arrested MDC Masvingo provincial chairman
Wilstaf Sitemere on allegations of fraud involving $4 000.

Sitemere will appear in court in Harare on February 4. The police here say
the alleged offence was committed in the capital city.

According to the police, the MDC provincial chairman defrauded a fellow
party member of US$4 000 sometime last year and has since failed to pay back
the money.

A fellow MDC member, only identified as Muchimwe, is the complainant who is
claiming to have been defrauded of the money by Sitemere.

After his arrest in Masvingo, Sitemere spent three days in police cells and
was later transferred to Harare where the police say the case was

"We have finished our investigations and the case has been set for February
4 the capital," said a police spokesperson.

"We have forwarded all the papers to Harare because, according to
information we have, the case was committed in Harare."

MDC-T party's provincial spokesman Tongai Matutu confirmed the arrest.

"There has been a misunderstanding between the chairman and one of our party
members over  $4 000," said Matutu.

"I would not call it fraud but I think they just have to sit down and agree
on certain issues".

However, sources within the party said that Sitemere had allegedly failed to
pay back $4 000 to the fellow party member resulting in a report being made
to the police.

"The chairman was asked to pay back the money as an out-of-court settlement
but he failed, resulting in this case," said a reliable source within the

Meanwhile, the MDC Masvingo provincial executive will on Friday deliberate
on the fate of Masvingo mayor Alderman   together with his deputy councillor
Selina Maridza.

The party's Masvingo district executive this week resolved that Chakabuda
and his deputy be fired from the party over allegations of corruption and
misappropriation of council funds.

The district executive has since forwarded its recommendations to the party's
provincial executive for deliberations.

"We are going to meet as a party and deliberate on the fate of the mayor and
his deputy," said a member of the provincial executive who refused to be

Chakabuda is accused of misappropriating funds, resulting in late payment of
salaries to council employees. Service delivery in Masvingo is at its worst;
some areas have gone for months without consistent water supply.

The mayor is also accused of failing to toe the MDC party line.

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Zimbabwe High Court Issues Stay of Magistrate Eviction Orders Against Farmers

Lawyer David Drury, representing the three farmers, said Kudya's ruling
gives a temporary reprieve to the farmers, although their land has been
occupied by unruly crowds of hundreds believed to be ZANU-PF militia members

Gibbs Dube | Washington 28 January 2010

A Zimbabwean High Court judge has ruled that three white commercial farmers
who were given 24 hours to leave their property by a magistrate in Chipinge,
Manicaland province, should stay put until their cases are adjudicated.

Justice Samuel Kudya issued the order late Wednesday following the issuance
of eviction orders on Tuesday by Magistrate Samuel Zuze.

Lawyer David Drury, representing the three farmers, said Kudya's ruling
gives a temporary reprieve to the farmers, although their land has been
occupied by unruly crowds of hundreds believed to be ZANU-PF militia

Drury told VOA Studio 7 reporter Gibbs Dube that although the Office of the
Attorney General has 10 days to appeal the High Court order staying the
lower court order, the farmers now have a legal right to stay on their land.

Algernon Taffs of Chirega Farm, Dawie Joubert of Stilfontein and Mike
Odendaal of Hillcrest Farm were supposed to have moved out of their farms on
Wednesday. Mike Jahme of Silverton Farm was ordered by the Chipinge court to
vacate his farm within 30 days.

In a related development, former Commercial Farmers Union President Trevor
Gifford said he and one of the farmers facing eviction now face jail because
they tried to serve Zuze with the High Court order. Gifford said Zuze
refused to sign the papers and accused the two of failing to obey his
eviction orders.

Zuze, who could not be reached for comment, allegedly reported the matter to
police in Chipinge, who charged the farmers with contempt of court.

"The magistrate was very upset when we served the papers and as a result
farmer Joubert was immediately arrested and I was ordered by the police to
report to the nearest police station," Gifford said.

White commercial farms have been subject to seizure in Zimbabwe for a decade
since President Robert Mugabe launched a land-redistribution program. There
are now only a few hundred farms remaining in white hands, but loyalists of
Mr. Mugabe's ZANU-PF party has been pressing ahead with takeovers in
disregard of objections from Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.

Mr. Tsvangirai's former opposition Movement for Democratic Change party says
such land seizures are counterproductive because they signal to potential
foreign investors that the rule of law has not been restored despite the
installation of a national unity government in February 2008

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Zimbabwe's Constitutional Revision Process Beset by Multiple Controversies

The parliamentary committee in charge of revision has come under pressure
from the main parties to have their own rapporteurs in the outreach process,
which some say defeats the purpose of having neutral record-keepers

Patience Rusere | Washington 28 January 2010

Zimbabwe's constitutional revision exercise hit another bump in the road
this week, though its organizers insisted that it was back on track again.

This week the negotiators for the three parties in government met with
donors to address questions about the soaring costs of the exercise.

The parliamentary committee in charge of revision, meanwhile, has come under
pressure from the parties to have their own rapporteurs in the outreach
process, which some say defeats the purpose of having neutral

Critics such as the National Constitutional Assembly, a civic group, say
that the exercise has become a gravy train for participants and politicians.

For perspective on the controversies and the process, VOA Studio 7 reporter
Patience Rusere turned to Edward Mkhosi, a co-chairman of the parliamentary
select committee on revision, and Irene Petras, director of Zimbabwe Lawyers
for Human Rights, which has undertaken to monitor the process with the
Zimbabwe Electoral Support Network and the Zimbabwe Peace Project.

Mkhosi said the controversy has mainly had to do with funding. Petras was
critical of pressure for parties to have their own rapporteurs.

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Violence hits Tsvangirai's district

Jan 28, 2010 11:13 PM | By Moses Mudzwiti

Political violence has resurfaced in Zimbabwe, where up to 10 families have
been left homeless after their huts were burned down.

The violence in Buhera district - the home district of Prime Minister Morgan
Tsvangirai - has been low-key until now.

But police admitted it was getting out of hand, saying a local chief had
sounded the alarm about increased political tensions in his area.

Local Zanu-PF officals claimed that MDC members had attacked their
supporters' homes. However, the MDC said its supporters were targeted.

The disturbing reports coincided with a hardening of attitudes between
President Robert Mugabe and Tsvangirai.

Mugabe announced on Wednesday that his party will not make any more
concessions until Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change "calls off

    * The British government has announced that eight members of the UK
parliament will visit Zimbabwe shortly. Dave Fish, the head of the British
delegation, said they would be reviewing the "effectiveness" of the aid the
UK was giving to Zimbabwe.

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World Diamond Council calls on buyers to shun Zim gems ″until human rights concerns have been dealt with

By: Jonathan Faurie
29th January 2010

For more than a year, the World Diamond Council (WDC) has voiced concerns
regarding allegations of human rights abuses in Zimbabwe and significant
noncompliance with the Kimberley Process.

When taken to task over the matter at the inaugural Zimbabwe Mining Indaba,
held in Harare last year, President Robert Mugabe denied any human rights
abuses had occurred ′at the country’s Chiadzwa diamondfields, while Prime
Minister Morgan Tsvangirai admitted that reports of reported human rights
abuses were being investigated.

In November, the Zimbabwe authorities ′agreed with other member States of
the Kim-berley Process to implement a detailed working plan to bring
Zimbabwe into full compliance and to end human rights abuses ′around diamond
digging at Chidzwa, in Marange, in the east of the country.

Following this agreement, the WDC said the world would be watching closely
and urged the Zimbabwe government not to squander this opportunity.

Diamond-mining major De Beers MD Gareth Penny reports that, to date, it
would appear that some progress has been made.

“While De Beers welcomes this, the com′pany continues to regard these
efforts as ′ongoing and calls for both the Zimbabwe ′government and the
Kimberley Process to increase their efforts to show demonstrable progress,”
says Penny.

A key feature of the working plan is the placement of a special monitor
appointed by the Kimberley Process and mandated to oversee the export of
rough diamonds from the Marange region.

WDC director Abbey Chikane says that ′exports from Zimbabwe have been
suspended ′since November 2009 and will not resume until the monitor is

“The WDC reaffirms its guidance to indus′try members to exercise extreme
caution when buying rough diamonds on the market to ensure that, for the
time being, they do not originate from Marange,” he says.

Chikane adds that issues requiring urgent ′attention include an end to the
apparent delay in appointing a credible, independent monitor to oversee
exports from Zimbabwe; demonstration that efforts to end human rights abuses
have been successful, and ensuring that those responsible for abuses will be
brought to justice; and that visible action is being taken to combat
corruption and smuggling.

“Should the Zimbabwe auth-′orities fail to take advantage of the opportunity
the working plan presents, the WDC will call for the immediate suspension of
Zimbabwe from the Kimberley Process,” says Chikane.

The WDC has also called upon all participating governments to adopt the
proposal, forwarded by civil society and supported by the diamond industry,
to include wording related to human rights in and around diamond-mining
activity, as part of the minimum requirements of the Kimberley Process
Certification Scheme.

Finally, as an effective and credible Kimberley Process is in the interests
of all stakeholders, from mining communities to the consumer, the WDC has
called on government participants of the Kimberley Process to increase their
efforts in enforcing its ′systems and standards, thus ′ensuring that all
diamonds are lawfully mined, documented and exported.

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SA cleric gets workers’ support

by Norest Musvaba Friday 29 January 2010

JOHANNESBURG -- The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa)
on Thursday condemned what it described as “broader agenda to discredit”
popular Johannesburg Central Methodist church Bishop Paul Verryn who was
suspended by his church more than week ago.

The Methodist Church in South Africa (MCSA) last week suspended Verryn, who
is well known across South Africa and beyond after turning his church into a
sanctuary for refugees from across Africa, from his position in the church
on allegations of breaching church rules pending. The church has said the
bishop will appear before an internal disciplinary committee on February 8.

Numsa which vowed to continue working with Verryn to, “make sure our
brothers and sisters who have been displaced through xenophobic attacks and
forced migration to South Africa enjoy equal rights with their South African
counterparts,” accused groups it did not name of launching personal and
venomous attacks against the cleric.

The union claimed that sections of the media had been co-opted into the
campaign against Verryn.

“Numsa notes with serious concern the personal and venomous offensive
targeted and directed towards Bishop Paul Verryn,” Numsa national
spokesperson Castro Ngobese said in a statement.

He added: “We are suspicious that this offensive is being lurched against
Bishop Verryn forms part of the broader agenda to discredit his person and
social standing in society. The bourgeois media has been co-opted
consciously or unconsciously to prosecute Bishop Verryn through public

The Johannesburg church offers refuge to more than 3 000 immigrants from
across Africa with the bulk of them Zimbabweans who continue to flock to the
sanctuary, fleeing their home country because of hunger and economic

Numsa described Verryn as a hero and champion for social justice, peace,
solidarity and equality for all underpinned by his long voluntary work and
outstanding efforts of assisting and accommodating the daughters and sons of
‘garden boys’ and ‘kitchen girls’ from across our borders speaks volume.

The Johannesburg church receives up to 200 new arrivals from Zimbabwe per
week with the formation of a unity government between President Robert
Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai last February appearing to have
done little to stem the tide of Zimbabweans crossing the border to seek food
and better opportunities in their more prosperous southern neighbour

“He is a Bishop that is not detached from the broader struggles and
sufferings of the working class and the poor as permeated by capitalism and
dictatorship regimes across our boarders. Bishop Verryn’s actions personify
the rich contribution made by others like Father Trevor Huddleston as guided
by liberation theology during the struggle for freedom and liberation,” the
metalworker’s union said. –ZimOnline.

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Bridging the knowledge divide: Trade unions

by Mutumwa Mawere Friday 29 January 2010

OPNION: The role of working men and women in nation building cannot be

The story of the decolonisation of Africa cannot be complete without mention
of the influential role of the trade union movement in determining labour
and industrial relations and more importantly in shaping the political and
economic agenda of the time.

South Africa, Africa's economic powerhouse, has the largest trade union
movement on the continent. It is part of the tripartite alliance that has
governed the country for the past 16 years.

As we look back at the journey travelled so far, what can we say about our
collective knowledge of the concept of trade unionism? What are its origins?
How effective is trade unionism as an instrument for economic and social

In pre-colonial Africa, we can safely say that trade unions did not exist as
they would have served no purpose.

The origins of unions can be traced from the 18th century that saw the rapid
expansion in Europe of industrial society with its appetite for human
capital in the work places.

A trade union is a body corporate organised to promote and protect the
interests of members.

A trade is defined as the exchange of products and/or services with the use
of money. The change of labour time for cash is a trade.

The emergence of corporate civilisation brought with it challenges and
opportunities. The challenge was how to convert feudal labour not a
commodity that can be purchased in the marketplace.

Unlike slavery, the labour exchange market involved free agents who could
contract voluntarily.

With respect to slavery, a new ideology was crafted which classified human
beings deemed as uncivilised to be treated as any asset class that could be
owned and controlled for the duration of its life by the purchaser.

Instead of exchanging a certain portion of one's day for cash, a slave was
paid for in advance to the owner and henceforth became the property of the

Although an enterprise is a juristic person, it is not normally easy to
alienate its interests from those of its founders notwithstanding the
provisions of the Companies Act which provides for the separation of rights
and obligations between the company and the shareholders.

Employers are contracted to the company and not to the shareholder and yet
most employees believe that they work for the shareholder.

The shareholder only has a residual claim on the company and is only
entitled to the income that the company does not want for itself. Before any
profit is declared, all the service providers need to be paid including the
tax authorities.

This being the case, it means that a salary or wage has to be negotiated in
arrears i.e. a worker has to agree to the cost of his time to the company
prior to getting the salary.

The first month of work, a worker has to self-provide in anticipation of
payment at the end. In the case of capital assets, the company has to make
the arrangements to secure the full amount required for the asset. The same
was true for slave labour.

In terms of power relationships, it was recognised that employers on behalf
of companies had a stronger bargaining position against workers at the
retail level hence the need to organise wholesale platforms to represent the
interest of the workers.

However, it must be recognised that each workers has a contract with the
company but the conditions of work, benefits and related issues require a
collective voice.

The concept of mutuality is not unique to the labour movement. What is a
challenge in Africa is that the number of working people compared to
non-working people is so small and yet the voice of the labour movement on
political, social and economic issues is strong.

The nature and context of the struggle for independence necessitated that
the working people whose rights in the labour market were not respected on
account of their race taking a leading and active role.

The argument advanced by proponents of race-based policies was that the
European way of life did not interfere with the native African worldview
and, therefore, the introduction of a market system underpinned by an unjust
constitutional order could not be blamed for the poverty in Africa.

It was argued that even if settlers had not visited Africa, the relationship
between native African and poverty would have been the same as it is in
Haiti or Liberia, for instance.

The working people did present a challenge. You had black and white
employees on the same shop floor. One would get paid more for the same work
than the other just on the basis of skin colour. One would be treated as a
second class citizen than another. One would never be allowed to be a
shareholder of a company than the other. The list goes on and then came a
generation of Africans who refused to accept the world as they were exposed
to it.

They formed clubs representing the coalition of the willing. These were
political parties whose mission was to change the constitutional order. At
work places where employees felt that their voices could only be heard if
they pooled their grievances together, it also became a theatre for

The ideology that informed most of the struggles in the workplace was based
on Karl Marx's conception of a capitalist system and the purported dialectic
relationship between workers and capitalists.

Notwithstanding the fact that, for example, when I work for company like
Microsoft, it would be wrong to say that I work for the shareholders.

The company's management are also contractors to the company and, therefore,
any struggle that may take place at the work place has to be described as a
consequence of human interaction.

The attitude of employees cannot also determine their altitude. In any
organisation it is healthy to have order. When a product is produced by a
company and invoiced out it becomes indivisible.

One cannot disaggregate the product and split it into pieces in order to
recognise the contribution of the various input providers. This being the
case, the only rational basis of rewarding labour becomes a market linked

If the worker is underpaid then he/she knows what to do. In an expanding
economy good employers rarely have difficulty in recruitment.

Unions benefit more bad employees and become more relevant in stagnant
economies. In rigid labour markets, unions can be counterproductive.

The fact that the ruling class in post-colonial Africa is largely drawn from
political unions makes it difficult to discourage the labour movement from
wanting to have a say in politics.

The competition for state jobs invariably ends between one class of working
people and another.

Some end up working for the state as representatives of the working people
and yet behave no differently from the employers they used to despise before
assuming state functions.

Is there democracy in Africa's trade unions? The answer is simple. Democracy
is difficult to achieve when most of the workers would rather focus on
advancing their personal welfare than worry about the bigger picture.

Unions tend to be more effective in public institutions than private ones
where employers would be foolhardy to underpay hard working employees.

Union leadership in Africa tends to self perpetuate itself with no or little
accountability to the rank and file members. This situation is no different
from that obtaining in political clubs. Whoever assumes a leadership
position ends up believing in indispensability.

The interests of workers are best advanced in a free and dynamic economy
rather than in an economy where workers believe that they can use their
muscle to extract more from a company that cannot speak for itself about the
dangers of extracting value or taking blood from it for short-term
expediency than long-term growth and security.

Even the Catholic Church towards the end of the 19th Century endorsed unions
when Pope Leo XIII in his 'Magna Carta': Rerum Novarum against the
atrocities workers faced and demanded that workers should be granted certain
rights and safety regulations.

No one can doubt that unions can make a difference to a civilisation but
what is needed is for the beneficiaries to assume ownership of their own
project. Although we all need to see, for example, a well functioning state
very few of us want to be involved in making it happen.

After all, Africa Heritage Society an organisation
that I am a member of is a mutual benefit association. Old Mutual was a
mutual benefit association so is FIFA. What makes organisations effective is
the contribution of the members that comprise it.

The imbalance in the rights of workers in regards to "masters/owners" is no
different to what the 18th century economist, Adam Smith noted when he wrote
in the Wealth of Nations that: "We rarely hear, it has been said, of the
combination of masters, though frequently of those of workmen. But whoever
imagines, upon this account that masters rarely combine, is as ignorant of
the world as of the subject. Masters are always and everywhere in a sort of
tacit, but constant and uniform combination, not to raise the wages of
labour above their actual rate.

When workers combine, masters . . . never cease to call aloud for the
assistance of the civil magistrate, and the rigorous execution of those laws
which have been enacted with so much severity against the combination of
servants, labourers, and journeymen."

It is the trade unions who often assume leadership positions in political
contestations and yet their worldview would suggest that fixing prices of
goods and services sold in the market place from which they draw an income
is a progressive step forgetting that such actions have been shown time
after time to have unintended consequences.

A labour market that is not flexible ultimately undermines the interests of
the purported beneficiaries. We all want a better and progressive world but
this comes with obligations.

The human spirit is difficult to manage and manipulate. A society that
allows, for instance, an angry worker to organise his affairs and use the
market system to revenge is better than a system in which employers are
forced to accept an administrative regime in which the price of labour is
fixed in smoking rooms.

There is nothing to stop African trade unions from forming mutual aid
benefit association to provide least cost financial, supply chain and other

If working people are angry with a bank there should be no impediment for
them to set up an alternative financial platform to serve them rather than
force the banks that serve them to look at profit as a sin. - ZimOnline

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