The ZIMBABWE Situation
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Zimbabwe army refuses to withdraw from diamond fields

Fri Jul 10, 9:43 am ET
HARARE (AFP) - Zimbabwe's army and police on Friday refused to vacate
diamond fields where security forces are accused of human rights abuses,
despite a pledge last week for their withdrawal.

The announcement came despite a call from the Kimberley Process, which works
to end the sale of "blood diamonds", for the demilitarisation of the Marange
fields, where security forces are accused of torture, killings and other
abuses against civilians.

"The officer commanding Manicaland province, senior assistant commissioner
Munorwei Shava Mathuthu, said security forces will remain in place to deal
with illegal diamond dealers and panners," said the statement read on state

Mines Minister Obert Mpofu "concurred with the security forces", state
television added -- although on Sunday the government had said it would
conduct a phased withdrawal from Marange.

A team from the Kimberley Process on Wednesday accused the military of being
involved in illegal diamond mining in the Marange and of perpetrating
"horrific" violence against civilians.

The team recomended that Zimbabwe remove the army from Marange by July 20.

The team visited Zimbabwe last week on a fact-finding mission, after Human
Rights Watch accused the armed forces of using torture and forced labour to
control the Marange fields, saying 200 people had been killed last year.

Zimbabwe has denied the allegations.

The Kimberley Process was launched in 2003 to stop the flow of conflict
diamonds into the mainstream market following wars in Sierra Leone and
Liberia. Zimbabwe has two other diamond mines, Murowa and River Ranch, which
are Kimberley certified and are not involved the claims of abuses.

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Zimbabwe to review ownership law to seek investment

Friday July 10, 01:27 PM

By MacDonald Dzirutwe HARARE, July 10 (Reuters) - Zimbabwe will review laws
forcing foreign companies to sell stakes in their businesses in a bid to
make sure they do not discourage investment needed for mines and other
industries, the mining minister said on Friday.

Under indigenisation laws, foreign companies cannot hold more than 49
percent of a business and must sell any stake above that to Zimbabweans. The
government is also able to seize 25 percent of shares in some mines without

The laws have led to the withholding of investment badly needed to raise
production as Zimbabwe tries to recover from economic collapse under a unity
government between President Robert Mugabe and old rival Morgan Tsvangirai.

Mines and Mining Development Minister Obert Mpofu told an investment
conference the review would lead to legislation more focused on investment.

'Careful consideration will be taken to ensure that the process of
indigenisation is not at the expense of the much needed direct foreign
investment,' he said.

'We are back to the drawing board at stakeholder consultation stage where
submissions of all the views of interested parties are now being sought
again in order to address all the concerns,' he said.

Mining has become Zimbabwe's leading source of foreign exchange, with gold
accounting for a third of exports, but political turmoil, lack of energy and
unfavourable regulation has forced some mines to close.

Zimbabwe has launched a review of all mining contracts, saying it would
introduce a 'use it or lose it' policy.

'In doing so we want to ensure that all those that are performing will not
be prejudiced,' he said. 'We are doing it in a manner that will not frighten
people away.'

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Zimbabwe Investment Conference Gets Mixed Reviews

      By Ish Mafundikwa
      10 July 2009

A two-day international investment conference ended in Harare Friday with
some potential investors saying that now have a better understanding of the
investment environment in Zimbabwe. But others say the country is still a
risky investment destination because of the political environment.

Over the two days meeting conference attendees heard how Zimbabwe needs
massive investment to get its economy working again. Investment and
government officials were at pains to sell the idea that Zimbabwe is open
for business. Not everyone was convinced it is a safe place to invest their

A representative of a large South African investment bank who spoke on
condition of anonymity told VOA some investors will have problems investing
in Zimbabwe as long as senior officials from President Robert Mugabe's
ZANU-PF party remain in powerful government positions.

"I think one has to be absolutely blunt and accept the fact that while there
are some key people from the previous government, from ZANU-PF, that are in
critical positions in the unity government the investment is not going to
come," the investor said.

He also noted that Zimbabwe has a poor credit rating and that makes
investors wary.

A compatriot of his however sees things differently. Praveen Dwarika, a
representative of agricultural services company AFGRI, said there seems to
be unity of purpose at the highest level in the Zimbabwean government. That,
he said, is encouraging.

"Seeing the president, prime minister and deputy prime minister at one forum
almost speaking with one voice gives us a lot more comfort. We are positive
about what we have heard so far," Dwarika said.

Dwakira added that the presentations at the conference helped clarify a lot
of questions his company had about investing in Zimbabwe. However he said
his company, while eager to invest in Zimbabwe, is not about to take the
plunge. He said there are legal aspects that needed to be looked into before
that happens.

Both investors agreed that Zimbabwe is very competitive and there is great
potential here.

Finance Minister Tendai Biti said that while everything is in place for
investment in Zimbabwe the political situation remains unstable.

"There is a deficit of performance and execution in regard to those things
that do not cost money that are well within our reach but that have got
major fundamental traction," Biti said. "I am referring here to the slow
pace of progress in the democratization of our country. For instance issues
around media reform, issues around reform of our legislation, Public Order
Security Act and so forth."

Observers believe that for Zimbabwe to attract the investment it badly needs
to rebuild its broken economy, the government needs to show the change it
purports to represent. Conference presentations alone, they say, if not
followed by clear change, will not suffice.

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Leaders say farm compensation is Britain's problem

By Alex Bell
10 July 2009

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai on Thursday admitted the government cannot
compensate any farmers for farms acquired in the land 'reform' programme,
echoing Robert Mugabe's sentiments that the British need to foot the bill.

Tsvangirai and Mugabe were both speaking at the opening of the Investment
Conference in Harare on Thursday, where the land issue and property rights
dominated talks. Mugabe passionately defended his land resettlement scheme,
which, since it began in 2000, has resulted in the destruction of the once
prosperous agricultural sector. He was speaking in response to a question on
farmers' compensation posed by the President of the Commercial Farmers Union
(CFU), Trevor Gifford.

With agriculture as the key to getting Zimbabwe's economy working again, the
unity government hoped the investment conference would persuade potential
investors to put their money into agriculture, as well as into other sectors
such as mining, manufacturing and tourism. But Mugabe did not raise investor
confidence by telling Gifford that 'not necessarily' every white farm will
be seized under his ongoing land 'reform' programme. He also insisted that
compensation for land was not the government's responsibility.
"The responsibility of compensation rests on the shoulders of the British
government and its allies," Mugabe said. "We pay compensation for
developments and improvements. That's our obligation and we have honoured

But the fact is that full compensation has not been paid at all and only
about 5% of farmers have received anything at all. No compensation has been
paid for land. The CFU President told SW Radio Africa on Friday that
although he wasn't surprised by Mugabe's comments, he felt disheartened that
there's been so little change in attitude within the unity government. He
explained that critical reform is still a long way off in Zimbabwe, and said
investors at the conference will be disillusioned by this visible lack of
"The reality is that the investors were shocked to hear the truth," Gifford
said. "This government has a lot of work to do to restore property rights
and the rule of law before any investment is forthcoming."

Mugabe has openly supported the ongoing offensive to remove the remaining
commercial farmers off their land, saying in a speech earlier this year that
white farmers were 'not welcome' in Zimbabwe. Despite his clear animosity
towards the white farming community, which has directly resulted in
intensified farm attacks and seizures this year, Mugabe still told the
conference delegates on Thursday; "Above all Zimbabwe upholds the sanctity
of property rights."

His comments come as at least three farmers in Nyamandlovu are set to lose
their farms under the pretence of the land resettlement scheme. SW Radio
Africa understands that war veterans loyal to Minister of Mines Obert Mpofu,
have invaded farms in the area this week. Mpofu was last year also
implicated in land attacks in the area, after more than a hundred war
veterans attacked a farm belong to Wayne Munro. Munro was assaulted in the

Tsvangirai meanwhile echoed Mugabe's comments, telling delegates that the
government could not compensate farmers for lost land, because of a lack of
funds. He said that while there may be disagreement on the way the land
reform was carried out, there was agreement on the need for it. Tsvangirai
himself has also dismissed the ongoing land attacks as a handful of
incidents that have been 'blown out of proportion'.
Discord in the so-called 'unity' formation was further exposed on Thursday
when Arthur Mutambara, the Deputy Prime Minister, contradicted Mugabe on the
land issue. He told the would-be investors that Zimbabwe needed property
rights and security of tenure to be restored and said the "country can't
keep pushing the blame" for its failures on to former colonial powers. He
also called for a moratorium on the ongoing farm attacks, which, despite
bearing witness to, he has done nothing about.

Mutambara, who is already at loggerheads with Tsvangirai over how to deal
with the unilateral appointment of Gideon Gono and Johannes Tomana, on
Thursday also openly differed with Mugabe on other fundamental issues.
Mutambara spoke strongly against the stalling of the implementation of the
Global Political Agreement, attempts to force the Kariba draft constitution
on the people, and the state's failure to halt the breakdown of the rule of
law. In a clear response to Mugabe's recent declaration during his ZANU PF
Central Committee meetings that the Kariba draft would be the only reference
document during the constitution-making process, Mutambara said Zimbabweans
were yearning for a people-driven constitution.

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Mutambara calls for moratorium on land dispute

      July 10 2009 , 6:33:00

      Speaking at a special conference to promote investment and support the
new government's economic rebuilding agenda, Zimbabwe's Deputy Prime
Minister, Arthur Mutambara, has again called for a moratorium on the land
resettlement programme to allow the government to deal with irregularities.

      The country's land reform programme has been widely criticised due to
incidents of violence associated with beneficiaries. Zimbabwean President
Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai faced a barrage of
questions from concerned investors and commercial farmers over the
investment climate. Asked when farmers evicted from their land would be
compensated by the government, the president again pointed the finger at
Britain, saying they have a responsibility to pay in terms of a three decade
old agreement.

      While Tsvangirai backed Mugabe on the compensation question, Mutambara
called on the leadership to accept responsibility for their failures and
stop laying the blame on Britain and the USA.

      With a unity government in place between Mugabe and his old rival
Tsvangirai, Zimbabwe is trying to recover from economic collapse. Mugabe's
critics blame Zimbabwe's economic problems on policies such as his seizures
of white-owned farms.

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Tension rises over remaining white farms

July 10, 2009

By Our Correspondent

HARARE - The murder of a white Zimbabwean farmer by a black mob last weekend
dramatically heightened the tension in a country already thrown into chaos
by a wave of farm occupations.

Most of the remaining 400 white-owned farms across Zimbabwe have been
occupied since February by squatters, many of them claiming to be veterans
of the country's civil war.

The new wave of invasions started as President Robert Mugabe, Prime Minister
Morgan Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara agreed to
establish a new unity government in February following disputed elections
last year.

Although a number of white farmers have been assaulted, last weekend's
murder of Bob Vaughan-Evans, a director of Zimbabwe's Commercial Farmers'
Union, on his farm on the outskirts of Gweru, capital of the Midlands
Province, appears to be the first fatal incident in an increasingly volatile
battle for land provoked by President Mugabe and his Zanu-PF party.

Vaughan-Evans' wife, confined to a wheel-chair following an earlier attack,
was assaulted by her husband's assailants and was being treated in a
hospital in  Gweru, union officials said.

The killing has highlighted the crisis over the new illegal land occupations
in Zimbabwe, which began in February. On Saturday, a group of former
guerrillas in the bush war that led to Zimbabwe's independence vowed to
continue their takeover of white-owned farms, defying a SADC Tribunal ruling
and a government appeal for them to leave the farms.

In this agriculture-dependent country of 13 million where 4 500 white
farmers onced owned one-third of the productive farmland, thousands of
settlers have occupied more than 4 000 white-owned farms. The remaining 400
to 500 farmers are now under siege in a renewed wave of land invasions
sparked by the formation of the inclusive government.

There has been a rush for free pickings.

A regional court, the SADC Tribunal, has backed the farmers and ordered
authorities to remove the invaders. But President Mugabe, who has backed the
settlers, refused to abide by the court rulings to remove them saying the
regional court had no jurisdiction over Zimbabwe and that the land grab was
consistent with the Zimbabwe Constitution.

And police do not appear to be making any headway. There have been sporadic
reports of settlers preparing to leave farms of their own accord, especially
in the Chegutu area.

Mugabe's government has argued that police action against the invaders -
many of whom are armed with anything from knives and spears to guns - could
trigger a civil war.

Politicians of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), formerly the
opposition, say Mugabe instigated the occupations as a distraction from the
unemployment and inflation which have crippled the once prosperous nation
and to shore up his flagging popularity fortunes.

At an investment conference in Harare on Thursday, Mugabe continued to sound
a defiant tone, despite international criticism of his land grab, which is
being cited by rich Western countries as a reason for withholding funding
desperately needed to bankroll the embattled new administration. Mugabe
again threatened to use the constitutional amendment to seize white-owned
land without compensation. he accused white farmers of taking sides with the
British government.

Mugabe told the investment conference that the land grab was going ahead as

"There is a an agreement between us and the British government that there
will be land acquisition in the country and that land acquisition meant that
the commercial farmers, if approached, will have to give up their farms but
true yes, they must get compensation, but they cannot refuse to give up
their land because that is the requirement," Mugabe said.

Some squatters say the land grab in 2000 was a spontaneous uprising as
freedom fighters had become frustrated because government's
post-independence plans to buy white-owned commercial farmland and
redistribute it to landless blacks had floundered. There has been criticism,
however, that the land grab has largely benefitted cronies of the regime
and not the poor peasants the programme was designed for.

"It's been 29 years now since independence, but there is no change,"' Moses
Madariki, a 54-year-old settler laying siege to a portion of Stockdale
Citrus Estates in Chegutu told The Zimbabwe Times on a recent visit to the
besieged farm. "At least I should get something to better myself."

The chaotic land reform programme has so far proved not to be the key to
prosperity for impoverished Zimbabweans. Many of the more than 100 000
families that have been given repossessed land over the past 10 years have
lacked the financial resources necessary to work the land.

They have, therefore, become subsistence farmers on commercial farmland.
Others have simply abandoned the farms.

Inequality in land distribution is not even the real problem, Madariki says.
It is simply a symptom highlighting the economic despair of Zimbabweans.

"We are sufferers, really we are sufferers," he said. "Poverty is our

When squatters began to occupy farms across the country at the end of
February, Stockdale Citrus Estate, 100 km south west of Harare, was
initially spared.

Then a group arrived at the gate in March and demanded that the owner,
Richard Etheredge, sign over his land for President Senate, Edna Madzongwe
to take over.

Etheredge refused, and the squatters set up camp just outside the main gate,
screaming and threatening him until the police forced them to move further
away from the house. But they periodically returned to threaten the family.

"I've been trying to keep it cool, but it's difficult when they are
thrashing at the gate and calling you all sorts of names," he said at the

Etheredge says the property was originally bought by his father from the
government in 1947.  It had been sold by the government of the day as a
mining property, "not suitable for agricultural purposes".

Etheredge and his family had bought the farm from his father in 1977 and
"since that day, every bit of profit we have made has been ploughed back
into the farm, making it one of the most modern, highly mechanized farms in
Southern Africa".

Most of the farm has been taken over by settlers.  Madzongwe was attracted
by the farm-house and the citrus orchards. She has since moved in, her
arrival timed to coincide with the orange-picking season.

There have been two deaths on the farm since her arrival. An alleged
orange-thief died after he was assaulted and tortured overnight by Madzongwe's
security guards.

One of the guards immediately disappeared from the farm. Then he returned to
Stockdale last week. He is alleged to have committed suicide soon after his
return. The President of the Senate was reported to have paid the deceased
guard's family a total of $30 to help meet burial expenses.

One of the accusations levelled against the commercial farmers over the ages
has been their poor treatment of workers. The new farmers do not seem to be
doing better than their predecessors in this regard.

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Zimbabwe to spend $142 mln on small farm support

Fri Jul 10, 2009 3:07pm GMT

HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe will provide $142 million in its next budget to
help small farmers buy the resources needed to boost food production,
Finance Minister Tendai Biti said on Friday.

Millions of Zimbabweans are expected to face food shortages in the coming
year and their impoverished country is seen needing substantial food aid
from abroad.

"We are going to provide $142 million for the provision of inputs for the
2009 summer crop for small-scale farmers," Biti told an investor conference
in Harare.

Biti said the government planned to increase support for subsistence farmers
in the hope of reversing years of decline in its farming activities. The
sector has been in a downward spiral since 2000, when President Robert
Mugabe targeted white-owned commercial farms for seizure to resettle blacks.

Farmer groups say output has also been hit by exorbitant costs of inputs
such as seed and fertiliser.

Biti also said the government intended to reopen its agricultural commodity
market "before the end of the year".

The Zimbabwe Agricultural Commodity Exchange was closed several years ago
after a law was passed making the Grain Marketing Board the sole purchaser
of maize and wheat.

Agriculture minister Joseph Made said in May that Zimbabwe expected to
harvest 1.2 million tonnes of the staple maize this season, more than double
last year's output but still less than annual consumption of about 2.2
million tonnes.

Made's comments contradicted earlier statements by Biti, who said in March
the country needed assistance with around 80 percent of its cereal

A report by the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and
World Food Programme last month said about 2.8 million people in Zimbabwe
will face food shortages in the coming year and will require some 228,000
tonnes of food assistance, including 190,000 of cereals.

FAO forecast production of winter-season wheat of only about 12,000 tonnes,
the lowest ever. That reflected the high cost of fertilisers and quality
seeds, farmers' lack of financial liquidity and uncertain electricity supply
for irrigation.

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Teachers demonstrate in Masvingo

By Lance Guma
10 July 2009

Over 200 teachers under the Progressive Teachers' Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ)
took to the streets of Masvingo Friday morning, demonstrating for a review
of their US$100 allowances. Earlier in the week the PTUZ called for a class
boycott beginning July 10 and this is to be repeated next week on the 17th
July. President Takavafira Zhou said the campaign was code-named Operation
Friday/Chisi/Inzilo and further boycotts would stretch to the 23rd July if
government did not increase their allowances.

On the first day of the campaign Zhou led the group of teachers from the
PTUZ offices into the city centre. They took a petition to the provincial
offices of the Public Service Commission. For a country accustomed to riot
police beating up any protestors it was surprising to see police actually
escorting the demonstrating teachers on the streets. The unions want
teachers salaries raised from US$100 to US$500 saying this was well  in line
with figures released by the Central Statistical Office stating that an
average family required over US$500 to survive.

Newsreel spoke to the Acting chief executive officer of the larger, Zimbabwe
Teachers Association (ZIMTA), Sifiso Ndlovu, and he told us their union
would only call for a strike at the end of July if government ignored their
demands. Ndlovu said they were committed to the process of current
negotiations through the National Joint Negotiating Council. He also said
they intend to make Education Minister David Coltart and Finance Minister
Tendai Biti hold onto their promise that salaries would be reviewed. Ndlovu
denied speculation they would demonstrate in the middle of July, before Biti's
budget presentation, to put pressure on government.

The relationship between the coalition government and teachers has been very
shaky for the past few months. Two months ago government averted a strike by
promising to review teacher's salaries and offered them incentives, like
free education for their children. The slow pace in reviewing the US$100
allowances has however strained relations. PTUZ Secretary General Raymond
Majongwe this week lashed out at Biti saying; 'The minister of Finance is
now behaving like we were not together all along. He is behaving like a
Catholic priest giving pieces of bread to a woman with closed eyes.'
The government has meanwhile sought to assure teachers that they are
engaging the donor community to encourage them to pick up the bill for their
salaries. The unions however say such pledges are 'indefinite and

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Court postpones ruling on editors' case

July 10, 2009

By Our Correspondent

HARARE - Magistrate Moses Murendo on Thursday postponed to July 21 2009 the
ruling in an application for referral to the Supreme Court by Zimbabwe
Independent editors Vincent Kahiya and Constantine Chimakure who stand
accused of publishing or communicating falsehoods.

Their lawyer, Innocent Chagonda, applied for postponement saying he needed
time to peruse the state's opposing application before filing a response.
The magistrate granted the postponement and said the defence should file its
submission in response by July 14, 2009.

Chimakure and Kahiya are being charged of contravening Section 31 of the
Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act following a story published in
the Zimbabwe Independent issue of May 8, 2009 under the heading "Activists'
abductors named". The subtitle "CIO, police role in activists' abduction
revealed" appeared below the heading.

The story alleged that notices of indictment for trial in the High Court,
served on some of the activists revealed that the activists were either in
the custody of the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) or the police
during the period they were reported missing.

However the two have since made an application for referral to the Supreme
Court challenging the constitutionality of Section 31 of the Criminal Law
(Codification and Reform) Act under which they are charged.

Section 31 of the Criminal Code states that any person who, whether inside
or outside Zimbabwe

(a)   publishes or communicates to any other person a statement which is
wholly or materially false with the intention or realising that there is a
real risk or possibility of-
(i)   inciting or promoting public disorder or public violence or
endangering public safety;  or
(ii)   adversely affecting the defence or economic interests of Zimbabwe;
(iii)   undermining public confidence in a law enforcement agency, the
Prison Service or the Defence Forces of Zimbabwe;  or
(iv)   interfering with, disrupting or interrupting any essential service;
shall, whether or not the publication or communication results in a
consequence referred to in subparagraph (i), (ii), (iii) or (iv);  shall be
guilty of publishing or communicating a false statement prejudicial to the
State and liable to a fine up to or exceeding level fourteen or imprisonment
for a period not exceeding twenty years or both.

Lawyers for the two journalists argue that Section 31 of the Criminal
Codification Act is unconstitutional and that the penalty of a 20- year
prison term is so heavy and disproportionate to the offence and infringes
Section 20 of the Bill of Rights.

Section 20 of the constitution of Zimbabwe guarantees the right to freedom
of expression.

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Veteran newspaper publisher Elias Rusike dies

By Tichaona Sibanda
10 July 2009

Elias Rusike, the first man to launch an independent daily newspaper in
Zimbabwe, has died at the age of 68.

The former chief executive of Zimbabwe Newspapers and former publisher of
the Financial Gazette, died on Wednesday at St Anne's Hospital in Avondale,
Harare. Reports say he was suffering from cancer.

During his tenure as publisher of the Financial Gazette, he was famously
told by the late Eddison Zvobgo that 'cabinet was skinning you alive' for
daring to criticize Robert Mugabe and some of his cabinet ministers.

Rusike, who retired to go into farming a decade ago, first became chief
executive of Zimbabwe Newspapers in 1984 after serving on the Public Service
Commission. He resigned from the newspaper group in 1989 in the wake of the
Willowgate Scandal in which one of the company's newspapers, The Chronicle,
exposed widespread corruption in government towards the end of 1988.

Rusike became chief executive and publisher of the weekly Financial Gazette
in 1989. Three years later he launched the first independent
daily, the Daily Gazette. But because of an economic slump the newspaper
ceased to publish in 1994.

In 1995 Mugabe blocked Rusike from entering politics after he had won the
primaries to represent ZANU PF in the 1995 elections. Mugabe instead
recalled the country's High Commissioner to London, Herbert Murerwa, to
stand in Rusike's Goromonzi constituency before appointing him Minister of

Elias Rusike is expected to be buried next week at his Goromonzi farm.

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Zimbabwe's toddler "terrorist" struggles to reintegrate

Africa Features
By Columbus Mavhunga Jul 10, 2009, 5:08 GMT

Harare - A three-year-old Zimbabwean, nicknamed the 'world's youngest
terrorist' after his abduction last year by state security agents and
imprisonment for three months, is struggling to adjust to life as a free

Nigel Mutemagau was two when suspected members of President Robert Mugabe's
secret service seized him and his parents, both senior members of the
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), from their Banket home about 100
kilometres west of Harare last October.

His mother, Violet Mupfuranhewe and his father, Collen Mutemagau, were among
dozens of MDC and human rights activists that were rounded and charged with
terrorism in a crackdown on Mugabe critics a month after the leader of 29
years signed up to share power with the MDC.

For two months, Nigel and his parents were held at undisclosed locations
until the couple were finally brought to court at the end of December and
charged with plotting to topple President Robert Mugabe. Incredibly, Nigel's
name also appeared on the original list of accused.

After charges were laid the family was transferred to the notorious
Chikurubi maximum security prison in Harare.

In January, Nigel was released into the custody of a relative. His parents
were release on bail in February, only to be briefly rearrested in April.

Nigel, who doesn't smile much and hides behind his mother when meeting
strangers, is fortunate to have made it out of prison alive.

In a recent report, Amnesty International said 970 prisoners had died
between January and May and called the conditions behind bars deplorable. A
documentary screened on South African television earlier this year showed
skeletal inmates wasting away from hunger and disease.

At the request of the cash-strapped government, the International Red Cross
has since begun feeding thousands of detainees.

Five months after gaining his freedom, Nigel is still haunted by his

In an interview last month Violet told the German Press Agency dpa: 'Nigel
cries every time he hears voices of people singing. He is really terrified
by crowds. At times he starts shouting.'

The family has taken him out of nursery school because he was having
difficulty reintegrating, she says.

'Nigel was beaten on many occasions during his incarceration - when he
cried, or asked for food, or wanted to go to the toilet. He was also
threatened and watched his mother being tortured, including having boiling
water poured over her followed by iced water and being forced to remain in
her wet clothes,' Frances Lovemore, a spokesperson for the Counselling
Services Unit, an organization that works with the victims of political
violence, told dpa.

'Collen and Violet are very close as a couple, and the separation of the
family unit, since Collen was not in the same cell as Nigel and Violet, also
affected Nigel,' Lovemore added.

Nigel's brother Allan is also finding it tough to be a kid after being
robbed of his parents for three months.

The seven-year-old, who fled to a neighbour's house, when seven armed men in
three unmarked vehicles pulled up outside his parent's home in Kuwadzana
township last October, is now afraid in his home.

'And if he sees big vehicles he runs away,' according to Collen.

Violet and Collen testified about their detention recently in the Supreme
Court, where they are seeking a permanent stay of prosecution on the basis
of gross violations of their rights while in detention, including torture.

In a hearing on their detention in April, High Court Justice Charles Hungwe
remonstrated with the state over its detention of Nigel.

'The Republic of Zimbabwe must be seen, through the acts of its public
officials, to be protective of the rights of the child,' Hungwe said.

Amnesty International lamented the lack of progress by the five-month-old
unity government on human rights as 'woefully slow'.

The United Nations children's agency UNICEF says it has identified 58
children under five who are currently behind bars with their mothers at the
country's eight main penitentiaries. The agency is supplying the mothers
with food, clothes, nappies and other supplies

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When Torture is Dismissed

Bill Fletcher Jr

9 July 2009

The Left finds it hard to condemn torture when it is carried out by 'progressive' governments rather than imperialists, writes Bill Fletcher Jr, and often attempts to deny its existence or downplay its significance. Speaking with reference to acts of torture perpetrated by the Mugabe government - some against people he knows - Fletcher argues that if 'the Left is to hold the moral high ground, it must mean that it is prepared to engage in criticism - including constructive criticism - when crimes are uncovered'.

Many people on the Left have difficulty addressing the issue of torture. Certainly when the torture is carried out by imperialists, there is no problem condemning it. But what happens when torture is carried out by organisations or governments that claim to be progressive, anti-imperialist, or even on the Left? At that moment there is often silence, sort of a freeze-frame.

Most recently I have found myself badgered by emails from an insulting individual who happens to be a fanatic supporter of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe. On one level, this is par for the course. Despite my stand on countless issues, there exists a small collection of individuals who believe that the sun rises and sets based on one's stand on President Mugabe. Thus, due to my criticisms of the Mugabe clique, I have become el Diablo. So be it.

What was interesting, however, was that in both this experience as well as several others, when I have raised that I know people - not just know OF, but know people - who have been tortured by the Mugabe regime, there is complete silence. The statement is not even acknowledged. Then the silence breaks and the polemics continue as if nothing was ever mentioned.

In general, the Left has four main responses to allegations of torture carried out by progressive organisations and/or governments. These include:

Denial: It is all a lie; never happened.

Minimise: It is an aberration, committed by rogue elements.

Silence: Let's pretend that it will all go away.

Relativism: It may have happened, but it is not as bad as what the capitalists do.

We on the Left are so afraid that any acknowledgement of a crime committed by a progressive or so-called progressive will give aid and comfort to the enemy that we respond in such a way as to discredit ourselves and our mission. I understand this. In the 1970s and early 1980s I could not believe allegations that were made against the Khmer Rouge in Kampuchea/Cambodia. I simply could not believe that a political movement that had carried out such a heroic struggle against a US puppet regime (Lon Nol's) and united the country would descend into such fanaticism. Yet they had and each time that criticisms were raised and went unanswered by segments of the Left, our credibility plummeted.

Today we have the case of the Mugabe regime. At this very moment there is an attempt at a unity government between the Mugabe group and the main opposition (Movement for a Democratic Change). Such an effort should be supported, including by the dropping of sanctions that have been instituted by the USA and other countries. This, however, does not clean the slate. Torture, including rape-as-repression, has been too widely documented to dismiss. While the people of Zimbabwe will have to settle their own accounts in a manner that they deem appropriate, that does not mean that those of us on the outside can or should remain agnostic, and it certainly should not mean that we live in a world of denial.

If the Left is to hold the moral high ground, it must mean that it is prepared to engage in criticism - including constructive criticism - when crimes are uncovered. Certainly every action must be put in a context, and there is no doubt that actions are at times carried out by or in political movements and governments that are not sanctioned by the leadership. Yet when there is a pattern, any and every attempt to dismiss it weakens our ability to insist on a practice of consistent democracy. If torture is wrong when carried out by pro-capitalists, for example, both because it is unreliable as well as immoral, how then can we on the Left tolerate it under any circumstances? How can we so quickly dismiss as 'fabricated stories' the reports of rape-as-repression whether they emerge from Zimbabwe or from the Sudan? The fact that these matters are reported by the mainstream white, capitalist press does not mean that they can be rejected out of hand. It should mean, instead, that we take investigation seriously in order to uncover the truth and separate that from pro-imperialist dis-information.

The case for self-determination and sovereignty for Zimbabwe and against any efforts by the USA, Britain or any other country to destabilise the situation is not helped by denial of the often vicious repression (including torture) that has been meted out against the opposition. If anything, denial is met with an unanticipated consequence at the mass level: Democratic-minded people can often naively throw their support for so-called 'humanitarian interventions' by the big powers.

* This article first appeared on

* Bill Fletcher Jr is executive editor of, a senior scholar with the Institute for Policy Studies, the immediate past president of TransAfrica Forum and co-author of Solidarity Divided: The Crisis in Organised Labour and a New Path toward Social Justice.

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Swine flu begins to spread in the region

Photo: Keith Marais/IRIN
Swine flu spreads
HARARE, 10 July 2009 (IRIN) - Zimbabwe and Botswana have reported their first suspected cases of swine flu as the H1N1 virus began to establish a foothold in southern Africa.

Neighbouring South Africa has reported 54 laboratory confirmed cases of swine flu so far, 32 of which have been linked to a squash tournament at a university in Johannesburg. No deaths have been reported in the region as yet.

Dr Lucille Blumberg, head of epidemiology at South Africa's National Institute for Communicable Diseases, told IRIN that most cases of the illness were "mild", and that it was too early to tell whether people living with HIV/AIDS would be affected to a greater degree by the flu.

Most of the world's people living with HIV/AIDS are in southern Africa, where most countries also have severely stretched health services. Blumberg said in other parts of the world swine flu had killed healthy people as well as those suffering from underlying illnesses.


Zimbabwe, which was unable to contain a recent cholera epidemic that killed more than 4,000 people and has a health system close to collapse, said it was prepared to combat swine flu.

One Zimbabwean competing in the Johannesburg squash tournament was confirmed as infected. Henry Madzorera, Zimbabwe's health minister, told IRIN: "At this stage, we don't know if he was infected in Zimbabwe or South Africa."

An Asian man was placed in quarantine after arriving in Zimbabwe from Britain, but has yet to display any symptoms. "The Asian man informed his doctor in Zimbabwe that friends he had stayed with in London had tested positive for the H1N1 virus. As a precautionary measure, he has been quarantined."

Madzorera said the World Health Organization had supplied antiviral drugs to Zimbabwe. "So far, I can say we are prepared to deal with swine influenza to some degree, as we have 21,400 courses of drugs to treat it."

The OCHA monthly humanitarian update for June warned that "Due to the country's vulnerability, hazards can easily translate into disasters if not well managed. Previously, the hazards have resulted in disasters that have caused severe destruction and human suffering, including loss of lives, as in the recent cholera epidemic."


''The Ministry of Health has been working on a prevention, control and mitigation strategy ever since reports of the outbreak were reported in other parts of the world''
In Botswana, Health Permanent Secretary Newman Kahiya said in a statement: "The public is hereby informed of the first confirmed case of Pandemic Influenza A(H1N1) 2009 in Gaborone [the capital], Botswana. Laboratory confirmation was received this morning (10th July 2009)." It is understood that the reported case is a male patient in the capital.

"The Ministry of Health has been working on a prevention, control and mitigation strategy ever since reports of the outbreak were reported in other parts of the world," Kahiya said. "Systems and structures are in place to monitor and address the situation. The public will be continuously updated as and when new developments unfold."

The government has established a toll-free number for reporting any suspected cases of swine flu.


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

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A letter from the diaspora

10th July 2009

Dear Friends.
President Barack Obama is about to pay a visit to Africa but it is not his
first visit to the continent. In his memoir 'Dreams From My Father' Obama
describes his first trip to his Kenyan father's homeland and his reactions
to that momentous visit. It was momentous for so many reasons, not only
because he was at last connecting with his African roots but because, as the
son of a black African father and a white American mother, Barack Obama was
searching for his own identity. Obama's father had left his American family
to complete his Ph.D studies in Kenya when Barack was a very small boy and
the child had grown up never really knowing where he fitted in life. It's an
experience shared by thousands of other people who grow up without a father
but in his case it was further complicated by his bi-racial status and the
state of American race relations at the time. Barack Obama's father had died
before his son finally visited Kenya. Father and son had met only once when
Dr Obama had briefly visited him in the US and that brief visit had created
more questions than it answered for the young Barack Obama. Upon his arrival
at Nairobi Airport, Obama is astonished to find that his name is known. The
African BA air steward asks him, "You wouldn't be related to Dr Obama by any
chance?" and he answers, "Well, yes - he was my father." In the book, Obama
comments, "For the first time in my life, I felt the comfort, the firmness
of identity that a name might provide. no one here in Kenya would ask how to
spell my name, or mangle it with an unfamiliar tongue.My name belonged and
so I belonged, drawn into a web of relationships, alliances and grudges that
I did not yet understand."

And this is the remarkable man who is now president of the United States. He
is remarkable not just because of his experiences but because of the way he
has internalised those experiences and learned from them. When he says as he
did on Thursday just before his trip to Ghana at the weekend, "I'd say I'm
probably as knowledgeable about African history as anybody who's occupied my
office." it is hard not to be convinced by his honesty and undoubted
understanding of Africa. "I can give you chapter and verse," he says, "on
why the colonial maps that were drawn helped to spur on conflict and the
terms of trade that were uneven emerging out of colonialism." And with
direct relevance to Africa today he goes on, "I believe that Africans are
responsible for Africa. I think that part of what's hampered advancement in
Africa is that for many years we've made excuses about corruption or poor
governance, that this was somehow the consequence of neo-colonialism, or the
West has been oppressive or racist.And yet the fact is we're in 2009. The
West and the US has not been responsible for what's happened to Zimbabwe's
economy over the past 15-20 years. It hasn't been responsible for some of
the disastrous policies that we've seen elsewhere in Africa. And I think
it's very important for African leadership to take responsibility and be
held accountable."

It will be interesting to see how, or if, Robert Mugabe reacts to President
Obama's words. Will he dismiss Obama as 'an idiotic little man' as he did
Johnny Carson, the Under Secretary of State for African Affairs in Obama's
government? Mugabe and Carson apparently met on the sidelines of the recent
AU Conference in Libya. The meeting was not a happy one and afterwards
Mugabe told the Herald that he was very angry with Carson who had apparently
told him that he should stick to his side of the bargain according to the
GPA. "Who is he?" Mugabe is alleged to have asked, adding "It is a shame, a
great shame and he an African American." Now, here's another African
American, this time the President of the most powerful country in the world,
telling Africa and its 'Big Men' that it's time to stop blaming the colonial
past for Africa's problems. Is it likely, in the light of what we know about
the man, that Mugabe will heed President Obama's advice? The signs are not
good. Observers have noted that Mugabe's rhetoric has of late become
increasingly paranoid and racist. White farmers are representative of former
colonisers and have supported the British against him, he maintains and, to
quote Mugabe, "Colonisers can never be friends so we turn our backs on them
and face the east." But it is not only whites he takes issue with, in a
direct snub to the outspoken Ambassador, Mugabe failed to agree to an
official farewell visit from the black American Ambassador, James McGee,
thereby breaking with basic diplomatic courtesy. Irene Khan, the head of
Amnesty International was also treated with his usual abusive language, "I
don't know where this little woman came from - always shouting." Mugabe
ranted, but then Khan had just issued an extremely unfavourable - and
honest - report on Zimbabwe's human rights record.

It is incomprehensible that the MDC partners in this Inclusive Government
can continue to maintain, as Morgan Tsvangirai does, that this same Mugabe
is 'part of the solution' to the country's problems. I for one cannot see
any way in which the racism and vitriolic hatred which Mugabe espouses
towards anyone who disagrees with him can have any part in Zimbabwe's
future. President Obama is right to remind African leaders - and that
includes Prime Minister Tsvangirai - that they are accountable for their own
misgovernance. For Kenya, for Zimbabwe and for so many other former
colonised African countries where Big Men continue to rule after patently
rigged elections, it is not yet uhuru.
Yours in the (continuing) struggle, PH

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