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Accused of Terror Win Appeal To Zimbabwe Supreme Court

By Peta Thornycroft
01 July 2009

Zimbabwe's high court Wednesday handed down a crushing blow to the
government's case against a group of Movement for Democratic Change
supporters and officials.

Seven people who were accused of terrorism will have their complaints
referred to the Supreme Court to decide whether their constitutional rights
were violated when they were allegedly abducted and tortured last year.

High court judge Charles Hungwe on Wednesday reprimanded state prosecutors
for failing to prepare their case adequately, saying he had no alternative
in allowing the seven accused to have their case referred to the Supreme

The seven accused argued that the terrorism charges against them should be
dismissed because their constitutional rights were violated when they were
abducted from their homes, held incommunicado and tortured into making
confessions last year.

The Zimbabwe government claims the seven people - most of them officials or
supporters of the Movement for Democratic Change - were involved in plots
against President Robert Mugabe.

Their lawyer Alex Muchadahama told the court there was no evidence against
any them beyond one confession extracted under torture.

In a related case, a senior official in Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's
party will stand trial in Zimbabwe in October on terrorism charges, his
lawyer said on Wednesday.

Roy Bennett, the MDC's treasurer-general, was arrested in February, accused
of plotting against the Mugabe government. He will go on trial in the
eastern city of Mutare, charged with illegal possession of arms for purposes
of terrorism and banditry. He denies the charges but faces life in jail if

Bennett is also deputy agriculture minister designate in the four month old
government of national unity but Mugabe says he will not be sworn into
office until he is cleared of all charges.

Although defense laywers say the cases against MDC officials and supporters
are slowly crumbling, fear persists.

Freelance journalist Andrisen Manyere, who was in court Wednesday, said he
has been visited late at night by groups of plain clothes state security
agents eight times in the last three weeks.

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Sekeramayi denies CIO involvement in abductions

July 1 2009

By Takesure Bizure

HARARE - State Security Minister, Sydney Sekeramayi has denied the
involvement of State security agents in the abduction last year of six
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) activists and a freelance journalist.
(Pictured: Sydney Sekeramayi State Security Minister)

Meanwhile, the activists - Kisimusi Dhlamini, Gandhi Mudzingwa, Chinoto
Zulu, Zacharia Nkomo, Regis Mujeye, Mapfumo Garutsa and journalist Andrison
Manyere - were granted their application to have their matter referred to
the Supreme Court by the High Court.

The seven were due to stand trial on terrorism charges this week but their
lawyers filed an application for referral to the Supreme Court.

They are seeking a permanent stay of prosecution saying their clients'
rights were violated when they were seized from their different places last
year by State agents and kept in secret detention for weeks.

The activists also allege torture at the hands of the secret agents, who
were trying to force them to admit to committing acts of bombing on two
Harare police stations, a railway line and a bridge near the town of Norton
between August and November last year.

Presiding judge, Charles Hungwe on Wednesday dismissed the State's attempts
to block the case from being referred to the highest court in the land.

He berated State prosecutor, Chris Mutangadura for "wasting the court's
time" by proffering what he found as ridiculous reasons in his attempt to
stop the Supreme Court referral.

Mutangadura contended that the allegations of torture by State security
agents made by the accused persons should not be viewed adequate enough to
stop their prosecution.

He further suggested the court should institute a parallel process to look
into the claims by the accused persons while their trial was in progress.

In an attempt to support his case, Mutangadura produced an uncommissioned
affidavit which he claimed was from Sekeramayi.

"It is denied that the applicants were kidnapped or abducted at all by State
Security Agents," Sekeramayi's affidavit read.

"I therefore cannot be obliged to have the so-called 'kidnappers and
abductors' identified, because there are no kidnappers and abductors to talk
of all."

Sekeramayi, who was defence minister at the time, went further to accuse the
MDC activists of claiming they were abducted and tortured in a bid to
prevent their prosecution in the alleged crimes.

"The applicants are therefore deliberately and desperately referring to
security agents as 'kidnappers' in order to whip up emotions and detract
attention of the court from the substance of criminal charges.

"It is denied that the Ministry of Security ever admitted that any
kidnappings ever took place," he said.

Sekeramayi's was referring to an affidavit filed by his predecessor, Didymus
Mutasa early this year when he ordered the State not to reveal the names of
the said State security agents for fear of compromising the clandestine
operations of the agents.

He said nowhere in Mutasa's affidavit was it mentioned that State security
agents were responsible for the abductions.

Justice Hungwe summarily dismissed the assertion by Sekeramayi.

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Makoni launches new political party

July 1, 2009

Simba Makoni at launchDR Simba Makoni with wife, Chipo, at launch of  party on Wednesday. Behind Mrs Makoni is Fay Chung, education minister from 1988 to 1993.

By Our Correspondent

HARARE – Former Finance Minister and Zanu PF politburo member, Simba Makoni, launched his Mavambo-Kusile-Dawn party on Wednesday morning in Harare.

Makoni’s promised to bring what he called “real change” at the launch ceremony attended by about 300 people at the Stodart Hall in Mbare.

“We promise you real change not the one where people bicker over cars and on what document should be used as the basis for change,” said Makoni.

Makoni was flanked by his wife Chipo and former Mavambo-Kusile-Dawn party spokesperson and now interim chairperson Godfrey Chanetsa.

Makoni said he believed that there is urgent need to open up the democratic space in Zimbabwe.

“We believe it is necessary to open the democratic space some more,” said Makoni drawing applause from a crowd that also included a handful of diplomats from both African and western countries.

“We yearn for truly competitive politics, we want to do away with the era of the de-facto one party state which led to a decade of a two horse race which has not served the people of Zimbabwe well and has not brought the democracy,” said Makoni.

He said the people of Zimbabwe are being starved of political choices following the formation of the all inclusive government.

“We believe that our coming will offer the people of Zimbabwe more democratic choices because there is now a choice of two in one,” said Makoni referring to the formation of a unity government between MDC and Zanu-PF.

He referred to his former party Zanu-PF as the former ruling party while he derided the MDC as the ruling party. He then made a mockery of a party he referred to as MDC-PF.

Makoni paid tribute to Joshua Nkomo whom he described as a “towering visionary” saying he led the struggle for Zimbabwe. He also had kind words for Edgar Tekere, Enock Dumbutshena and Morgan Tsvangirai whom he said paved the way for the Zimbabwe of today where multiple political parties exist.

“They prepared the ground for the contest to further advance the frontiers of democracy,” said Makoni.

“We are committed to the raising of the contest from the contest of power to that of participation and cooperation.”

Makoni said his party’s envisages a Zimbabwe that respects the rights of Zimbabweans.

“Our vision is of a Zimbabwe where rights of every Zimbabwean are respected and protected,” said Makoni.

He added that his party will ensure that property rights and rights of people living in the Diaspora to participate in issues of the country are recognized.

He said he will work to depoliticize the civil and security sectors.

Turning onto the five-month old all inclusive government, Makoni said the two political parties must immediately work towards national healing, restoration of civil liberties and economic and social viability.

“I believe this is the platform for real change for Zimbabwe, we in MKD offer ourselves to work towards the success of this transitional government,” said Makoni.

With the launch, Makoni has set himself on a collision course with his disgruntled colleagues who recently took him to court over accountability issues.

He refused to take questions saying he was to hold a press conference later in the day.

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Roy Bennett remanded to October for trial

By Violet Gonda
1 July 2009

A Mutare magistrate remanded Roy Bennett, the MDC Deputy Agriculture
Minister nominee to 13 October, for the commencement of his trial. Bennett,
who is also the MDC Treasurer General, was arrested in February and spent a
month in a Mutare remand prison. This was following allegations he conspired
with jailed Peter Hitschmann in 2006 to possess dangerous weapons with the
intention of using them for purposes of banditry, insurgency, sabotage and
terrorism. Bennett denies the charge. Ironically Hitschmann gave his own
evidence about this in court, and was acquitted on the firearms charge.

On Wednesday Bennett's lawyer, Trust Maanda told SW Radio Africa he was not
happy with the date given for the commencement of trial. He accused the
State of using delaying tactics by coming up with a date that was too far,
'to keep his client on remand forever.'

The defence team had warned the State it was going to apply for refusal for
further remand if the prosecutor did not come up with a trial date prior to
Wednesday's remand hearing. Maanda said his client should go to trial at a
reasonable time to remove this spectrum of prosecution over his head.
The lawyer said: "The State was not ready for trial and they did not want
him to be removed from remand and so they had to come up with a trial date -
which they know that, if they were to put it so far away they will try to
put their house in order.  But we are not happy with this long period
between now and the trial date."
Meanwhile, the Magistrate agreed to relax Bennett's stringent bail
conditions because of the lengthy period before the commencement of trial.
Maanda said instead of reporting to the police once a week, his client will
now only report twice a month.

Bennett is the MDC's Deputy Minister of Agriculture designate but is yet to
be sworn in. The MDC has said Mugabe is refusing to swear him in saying he
faces serious charges.

The party said in a statement: "The MDC is concerned by the continued
harassment and arrests of its MPs and officials by the State on trumped-up
charges. The fact that his case has been remanded further by almost four
months means this is just political persecution and the State has no
evidence whatsoever linking the Deputy Minister designate to any crime."

The MDC called for the immediate swearing-in of Bennett as the Deputy
Agriculture Minister saying he is innocent until proven guilty.

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MDC says Zwizwai diamond killings denial 'unfortunate and inaccurate'

By Violet Gonda
1 July 2009

Last week Murisi Zwizwai, the MDC Deputy Minister of Mines and Mining
Development, told a meeting of the Kimberley Process in Namibia there were
no killings in the Chiadzwa diamond mining area. In spite of widespread
accounts the official told the international scheme, that tries to curb the
sale of 'blood diamonds,' that claims of massacres that took place in the
diamond fields were a result of 'unsubstantiated reports'.

But on Wednesday his own party distanced itself from the Deputy Minister's
comments. The MDC said in a strongly worded statement that Zwizwai's remarks
were 'unfortunate and inaccurate'.

Zwizwai had told delegates at the Namibian conference: "Contrary to
allegations in the media, nobody was killed by security forces during an
operation at Marange, where about 30,000 people descended onto the alluvial
mining field."

"These people comprised of cunning, die-hard illegal diamond diggers. This
compelled government to conduct a special operation to flush out the illegal
diamond miners and to bring order and sanity to the area."

However, his MDC party said in their statement: "We view the remarks as
premature and inaccurate in the absence of an investigation into the murky
dealings in the Chiadzwa diamond fields where a lot of things happened out
of the public eye. Hon Zwizwai's claims are therefore fact-hostile and

The party called for a thorough investigation by the inclusive government
and Parliament into the goings-on in Chiadzwa. "We believe that a thorough
investigation will enable the inclusive government to come clean on what
really transpired before senior government officials seek refuge in denial,"
the statement said.
Human rights groups have called for Zimbabwe's expulsion from the Kimberley
Process, as a result of gross rights abuses that took place in Marange's
diamond fields.  The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights estimates that 5,000
people were arrested by soldiers, some of them tortured and there were even
claims that scores of people were buried in mass graves 'to hide the regime's
murderous activities.'
Most recently, Human Rights Watch issued a detailed report of ongoing abuses
including hundreds of cases of child labour.
At the same time Marange MDC MP Shuah Mudiwa, who has been jailed for seven
years, was reportedly ready to reveal the location of a mass grave site -
where the victims of the massacre were allegedly buried.
In Wednesday's statement, the MDC said whatever happened at Chiadzwa remains
shrouded in secrecy as there is 'no public information as to how much the
country has accrued from the diamond fields where ordinary Zimbabweans were
displaced to make way for politically-connected fat cats and politicians.'

The party reiterated that there are unconfirmed allegations of mass graves
and massive looting which cannot be easily dismissed in the absence of an

We were not able to reach the Deputy Minister for a comment.

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ZANU PF militias back in action in rural areas

By Tichaona Sibanda
1 July 2009

There are reports suggesting ZANU PF backed militias have been reactivated
to play a pivotal role in mobilising people in rural areas to actively
participate in the constitution making process.

While they might have 'laid down' their weapons, their mere presence has
raised tensions and fears that they might be resuming the type of violence
that plagued the MDC during last year's presidential elections.

Our correspondent Simon Muchemwa told us most militias have been deployed in
areas where the MDC made major inroads in last year's polls. He said ZANU PF
fears if its supporters do not particpate in the reform exercise, the
consequences could be dire for the party.

"Already there have been skirmishes involving these militias and officials
from the MDC in Mutare, Masvingo and some parts of Mashonaland central. The
militias are forcing people to attend local or provincial conferences and
push for the Kariba draft to be used as a reference point in drawing up a
new constitution," Muchemwa said.

Since last month authorities in the country have started the process to draw
up a new constitution under the shaky unity government, amidst a widespread
political climate of fear and mistrust, and a devastated economy.

Since independence the country has followed the Lancaster House
constitution, but since then the ZANU PF led government has added 18
subsequent amendments to the Constitution, strengthening presidential powers
and turning Zimbabwe into an authoritarian country.

In 2001 an attempt to introduce a new constitution was voted off in a
referendum, after a fierce campaign by civil society to oppose the
repressive regime. Yet, even though the opposition successfully led a
NO-vote, important issues such as the unlimited term of the President,
powers of the executive and land reform remain unresolved.

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Tsvangirai under fire for glossing over unity govt problems

By Lance Guma
01 July 2009

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai is facing criticism from his own party MP's
who accuse him of playing down simmering tensions and cracks within the 4
month coalition government. Harrison Mudzuri, the MP for Zaka Central,
complained to journalists in Masvingo that the Prime Minister was ignoring
violations of the unity deal being perpetrated by ZANU PF. Mudzuri claimed
Tsvangirai was not listening to complaints emanating from party members
regarding political violence and harassment in their areas.

"Our Prime Minister and party leader is just pretending that things are
right in the country when nothing has changed. In fact our members are being
harassed and arrested everyday, and when you try to tell the Prime Minister,
he will say that such complaints will undermine the inclusive government,"
Mudzuri claimed. He said party supporters are being beaten up everyday
particularly in areas like Zaka. The remarks come in the wake of the jailing
of Marange MP Shuah Mudiwa, and insurgency and banditry charges against Roy
Bennett and other opposition activists, among other issues.

MDC ministers boycotted a cabinet sitting unilaterally brought forward to
Monday. They argued this was an attempt to prevent Tsvangirai from chairing
the regular Tuesday meeting since Mugabe was traveling to Libya on the day.
Deputy Prime Minister Thokozani Khupe issued a statement on Monday
expressing her party's frustration with ZANU PF's attitude. Khupe warned
that although they were committed to the unity deal they had a
'constitutional right to consider disengagement.' Her statement seemed to
suggest an MDC pull-out from the coalition was imminent.

However, on Tuesday Tsvangirai poured cold water on those threats by telling
journalists the MDC would not pull out of the coalition government. "There
is no pulling out of the agreement. That is why we have to follow-up on our
letter to SADC so that they can come and talk over these matters. There is
no reason to fear that the government will collapse or that the MDC will
pull out of the agreement," he said. Several months ago Tsvangirai made a
similar u-turn after his Secretary General Tendai Biti issued a party
ultimatum over the outstanding issues. A few days later Tsvangirai told the
Financial Times newspaper there was no deadline.

Commentators are haggling over why Tsvangirai has adopted this 'softly
softly' approach to dealing with Mugabe. Some MP's in his party are worried
the strategy will weaken the party's bargaining power and consolidate Mugabe's
grip on power. His advisors however argue that confrontation will not
produce any results. Tsvangirai told a private meeting of MDC structures in
Bulawayo several months ago that he would not adopt 'mega-phone diplomacy'
in his dealings with Mugabe.

Meanwhile the state media has continued its onslaught on the Prime Minister
and his overseas trip. They maintained that Tsvangirai had failed to get
Western countries to remove targeted sanctions placed on the ruling elite
and that this was the 'assignment' given to him by Mugabe. The state media
was particularly peeved that Finance Minister Tendai Biti received US$950
million in aid from the Chinese. They accused the MDC of hijacking ZANU PF's
look east policy after failing to get enough money from Western governments
to fund reconstruction efforts.

Despite several complaints from the MDC about this 'hate speech' from the
state media, nothing has changed. The Prime Minister has meanwhile defended
the publication of a 4-page newsletter from his office saying this was in
line with modern technology.

"What's wrong with that? I have a website, these are communication tools.
Who is complaining? If there are any complaints, they will be raised in
Cabinet and I will respond," he said.

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Relatives to help in prisoners' upkeep

by Simplicious Chirinda Wednesday 01 July 2009

HARARE - Zimbabwe's cash strapped government has asked family and relatives
of inmates in the country's overcrowded jails to help provide for their
upkeep by donating food, blankets, clothes and other essentials.

Deputy Justice Minister Jessie Majome, told ZimOnline yesterday that the
government decided to allow relatives of prisoners to buy essential
necessities to improve their stay behind bars.

"We are trying to do everything humanly possible to take care of our
prisoners but the government has no money and the state of prisons is
disastrous," said Majome in an interview.

She added: "We have since passed a resolution allowing relatives of
prisoners to buy them prison clothes, blankets, jerseys, food and many other
essentials as long as they meet prison requirements."

Zimbabwe's prisons have long been considered virtual death houses with
hundreds of inmates reportedly dying in the jails because of diseases and an
acute shortage of food.

Human rights watchdog, Amnesty International reported two weeks ago that 1
000 prisoners have died since the beginning of the year.

According to local prisoner's rights group Zimbabwe Association for Crime
Prevention and Rehabilitation of the Offender (ZACRO) at least two inmates
die everyday due to hunger and disease at Chikurubi and Harare Central - the
country's two biggest jails.

Harare, which earlier this year allowed the Red Cross access to jails to
help feed and clothe inmates, admits dire conditions in the prisons.

But the government blames the situation in jails on Western sanctions
imposed on President Robert Mugabe and his inner circle that it says have
damaged the economy and crippled the government's ability to carry out its
functions, including providing for prisoners. - ZimOnline

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International Jurist Visits Zimbabwe to Assess Human Rights Situation

By Jonga Kandemiiri
30 June 2009

The deputy secretary general of the International Commission of Jurists this
week launched a three-day mission in the country to assess human rights

Wilder Tayler arrived in Harare late Monday and immediately met with members
of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade
Unions and other non-governmental organizations.

Tayler was also expected to meet with members of the judiciary and
government officials.

Attorney Otto Saki of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights told reporter
Jonga Kandemiiri of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that Taylor's purpose in
Zimbabwe was to directly gather information on the state of human rights.

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Many Zimbabwe Lawmakers of PM Tsvangirai's Party Face Charges; Bias Alleged

30 June 2009

Though Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai reassured the country on Tuesday that the government was not in danger of falling apart over differences among its partners, Monday's broadside from a top official of his Movement for Democratic Change made clear that prosecutions of MDC officials are deeply troubling the partnership.

The list of members of parliament or other senior officials of Mr. Tsvangirai's formation of the MDC is a long one - and could get longer, political and legal sources say.

  • Member of Parliament Shuah Mudiwa for Mutare West, Manicaland province, was convicted last week on a kidnapping charge and sentenced to seven years in prison;
  • Legislator Lynette Karenyi of Chimanimani West, Manicaland province, has appealed her conviction of electoral fraud;
  • Parliamentarian Blessing Chebundo of Kwekwe, Midlands, and House of Assembly Member Trevor Saruwaka of Mutasa Central, Manicaland, both face rape charges;
  • House Member Meki Makuyana of Chipinge South, Manicaland, faces kidnapping charges;
  • And Tsvangirai MDC Treasurer Roy Bennett, designated deputy agriculture minister but never sworn in, is due back court next month on weapons possession charges.

Reports this week said the Office of the Attorney General is ready to charge MDC Finance Minister Tendai Biti, secretary general of the Tsvangirai formation, with treason.

And Economic Planning Minister Elton Mangoma is expected to face kidnapping charges.

The MDC says all of these cases are politically motivated with ZANU-PF officials seeking to chip away at the parliamentary majority the MDC claimed in the 2008 general elections.

Human rights lawyer Tinoziva Bere told reporter Patience Rusere of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that most of the cases target lawmakers in Manicaland, where MDC politicians unseated a number of ZANU-PF incumbents in last year's elections.

Washington-based political analyst Briggs Bomba, acting campaigns manager for Africa Action, said such charges undermine the unity government's capacities as members must expend energy defending themselves - though some need to address the charges.

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Study belies 'myth' Zimbabwe is kept afloat by diaspora cash

WILSON JOHWA  Published: 2009/07/01 06:38:05 AM

AGAINST the general belief that Zimbabweans in exile were keeping their
country afloat, a study in the southern Matabeleland region has found that
most families with members living outside the country received no money and
barely any meaningful food items last year.

Conducted earlier this year, the study by Solidarity Peace Trust (SPT), says
76% of those with family in the diaspora did not get any money sent to them
last year.

The little money sent home failed to alleviate the already dire food
situation, especially among the rural poor.

Many of those who sent any money at all remitted less than R100. "Goodies"
sent home were as little as 2kg of sugar - often only at Christmas time.
Only 18% of the families with a member in the diaspora received the
equivalent of R100 a month last year.

Before the demise of the Zimbabwean dollar, more goods than cash were sent
home, but the research found that 51% of families with a member in the
diaspora did not receive any goods at all last year.

It says the low remittances may have been due to the disruptive effect of
the xenophobic attacks in SA last year, and the saturation of the job market
in SA.

The younger the exiles - who ironically were the largest group among those
who left the country - the less likely they were to send anything home.

"We're not seeing remittances on a grand scale," said SPT director Shari
Eppel at the release of the research findings in Johannesburg yesterday.

She said many in Zimbabwe had a negative perception of "diasporisation".
They associated it with the bodies of relatives coming home to be buried,
and experienced it as lack of labour to till the fields and failed

While, historically, southern Zimbabwe had strong labour ties with SA, the
rate of migration had shot up since the end of 2007.

Among the 142 families in the target group, the study found a 100- fold
increase in diasporisation between 1990 and 2000 - with SA as the main

In another report, the SPT warns that failure by the international community
to engage with the unity government forged in January could threaten the
fragile state, whose collapse would lead to another round of violence and

SPT research director Brian Raftopoulos said a key question was at what
point sanctions - which were preventing major international finance
institutions from supporting Zimbabwe - should be removed.

He said there was a need for Zimbabwe to have its own discussion on the
issue, which to date had been largely externally driven.

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ZESA fails to meet debt deadline

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Business Reporter

The Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority failed to meet yesterday's
deadline to pay more than US$57 million owed to regional power utilities for
electricity imports, ZESA chief executive officer Engineer Ben Rafemoyo
He said the parastatal was yet to raise the US$57 million needed to settle
its regional debts.
Eng Rafemoyo said the power utility had so far managed to raise much less
than the accumulated debt.
"The US$57 million debt is a lot of money to raise locally and the amount we
have raised is far from total debt," he said.
However, Eng Rafemoyo would not be drawn into revealing the amount the
parastatal had raised so far towards settling the debt.
"I am not prepared to give the figures of the amount that we have raised
because it will not be good for our suppliers to see the figures being
discussed in the Press," he said.
Eng Rafemoyo said if the power utility did not get sympathy from its
regional suppliers that would have a negative impact on the country as
supplies might be cut, plunging the country into darkness.
He said ZESA would continue negotiations with its suppliers over payment of
the debt.
"We have been talking with our suppliers over the debt payment and we hope
talks will continue," he said.
Besides the US$57 million debt, ZESA is accumulating between US$6 million
and US$7 million in monthly bills from the regional powerhouses that have
continued to supply power to the country in spite of debts.
Should the utility meet its monthly bills obligation, it is hoped that this
would allow the company to renegotiate for more supplies.
ZESA imports power mainly from Mozambique's Hidroelectricia De Cahora Bassa,
which is owed more than US$40 million.
It also imports power from SNEL in the Democratic Republic of Congo and at
times ESKOM of South Africa.

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Mugabe should know his currency is a stale joke

July 1, 2009

Zimbabwe's "inclusive" government is in two minds whether to reintroduce its
joke currency. President Robert Mugabe said on Friday that he would bring
back the old Zimbabwe dollar, which traded at Z$7.6 billion to the US dollar
before it was phased out at the start of this year.

But a day later, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said no chance.

By the time the currency was declared officially dead, the authorities had
removed 25 zeroes between July last year and February this year.

With the dollarisation of the Zimbabwean economy, hyperinflation disappeared
overnight. When it was last officially measured last July, it was more than
200 million percent, but it was estimated to be in the "quadrillions of
percent by the third quarter", according to a report from the Imara Group,
which hosted an investor conference in Harare over the past two days.

Official access to foreign currency transformed the situation. Once it was
possible for importers to import, goods returned to the shelves. At the same
time, the limited quantities of hard currency made consumers resistant to
high prices.

The result: increased competition, which brought falling prices.

According to the International Monetary Fund, the economy contracted 14
percent last year, following a 40 percent cumulative decline between 2000
and 2007. The current account deficit rose to 28 percent of gross domestic
product last year from 11 percent in 2007.

By the end of the year, Zimbabwe had US$6 million (R46m at yesterday's
exchange rate) in international reserves. External debt was US$6bn.

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Tsvangirai Denies Violating Media Laws

July 1 2009

By Radio VOP

HARARE - Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai on Tuesday dismissed claims by
Media, Information and Publicity permanent secretary George Charamba, that
he could be breaking the country's media laws by publishing his newsletter
without a licence. (Pictured: PM Morgan Tsvangirai)

"There is nothing illegal about a newsletter," Tsvangirai told journalists
during a news conference, 24 hours after returning from a tour of Europe and
America to source for relief aid for Zimbabwe.

"I have a website. This is the modern age. I have to communicate. You cannot
keep things to yourself and still say you are communicating. Let the people
know," he said.

Charamba told the State controlled Sunday Mail newspaper during Tsvangirai's
absence that his ministry was investigating the legality of the weekly

"We have seen the publication, which purports to be from the Prime Minister's
Office, noted its circulation figures and we are looking at what the law
says," he was quoted as saying.

Under the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA),
newsletters are not obliged to register with the country's media regulating

With a print run of "400 000" copies distributed free of charge every week,
government was anxious this surpassed the print run of most newspapers in
Africa and should as such, be subject to the operations of Zimbabwe's strict
media laws as it was "clearly an organ of mass communication".

The bulletin, whose actual circulation is 40 000, was launched during
Tsvangirai's absence to counter claims by the State media that his tour was
intended to raise monies for local Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs).

Government has long accused NGOs of harbouring a regime change agenda
against President Robert Mugabe.

Charamba, who together with his ministry, were last month barred by the High
Court from interfering with the affairs of the media, now faces contempt of
court charges following his refusal to abide by the ruling.

Tsvangirai also challenged government officials accusing him of leaking
government secrets through the newsletter, to officially present their
complaints during cabinet meetings.

This was after the same issue of The Sunday Mail had also quoted unnamed
government officials accusing the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
leader of "undermining cabinet" and violating the "Oaths of Secrecy" by
publishing in the bulletin details of his official trip before briefing

"They know what channel to use," he said, "The only channel where anyone in
government can raise or any minister can lodge a complaint of that nature,
if it exists, is in cabinet and I will answer that. Let them raise it in

Most stories published in the fist issue of the newsletter were already in
the public domain.

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African leaders convene in Libya

By ALFRED de MONTESQUIOU Associated Press Writer
Posted: 07/01/2009 02:12:07 AM PDT
Updated: 07/01/2009 12:08:11 PM PDT

SIRTE, Libya-African leaders and Brazil's president called for greater
cooperation to boost peace and development efforts as the 13th African Union
summit of heads of state opened Wednesday.
The leaders had a host of issues to address, including coups and civil wars
to the backlash of the economic crisis and the challenges of global warming.

Several high-profile guests to the summit stayed home at the last minute,
including Italy's Silvio Berlusconi, Egypt's Hosni Mubarak and Iranian
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

A visit by Ahmadinejad would have been one of his first major public
appearances since his troubled re-election in June, which was marred by
turbulent streets protests, police violence and claims of massive fraud.

The AU summit's host, Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, said his Italian
"friend" had called up to excuse himself. He made no comment on the Egyptian
and Iranian's absence.

African diplomats at the summit in the coastal town of Sirte, east of the
Libyan capital, Tripoli, said several delegates had been frustrated with
Gadhafi for inviting Ahmadinejad without consulting the AU's managing
bodies. Some complained the Iranian leader would have diverted the
conference's attention from Africa's pressing problems.

Though the summit's official theme is agriculture, "unfolding events tend to
catch up with us," AU executive chairman Jean Ping told The Associated

"Our works are taking place amid an unprecedented global economic crisis and
an increase of grave political tensions and persistent conflicts in Africa,"
Ping also said in his speech at the opening session.

Africa's situation is "worrying," Ping said, listing recent coups in
Madagascar and Guinea-Bissau, as well as unrest in Niger, a crisis in
Mauritania, tensions between North Sudan and the South as well as the
western Darfur regions.

On Tuesday, the AU Executive Council announced it was lifting sanctions
against Mauritania despite the coup there 10 months ago. The sanctions could
be enforced again if the presidential election due July 18 isn't considered
fair. Mauritania has been ruled by a military junta since August.

African diplomats also say the AU is considering an increase of the
4,300-strong force it sent to Somalia, where the peacekeepers are struggling
to contain a civil-war, Islamist radicals and increased piracy.

Gadhafi's answer to these challenges has been a drive in recent days to
jump-start African unity and boost the AU's power, aiming at the creation of
a "United States of Africa." Among his other proposals was an offer for
Caribbean island nations with large populations of African descent to join
the AU.

Propped by vast oil reserves, Gadhafi has a history of intervening
throughout the continent. The founding figure of the AU-launched 10 years
ago in Sirte, his native town-and Africa's longest serving head of state,
the Libyan leader was addressed as "king of kings" by the traditional rulers
and tribal chiefs he'd invited to the summit Wednesday.

His proposed creation of an African Defense Council is one of the items on
the summit's official agenda. Other items include fighting desertification,
boosting agriculture, and reaching a common position before the U.N.
negotiations on climate change.

African diplomats say the continent's wealthier states, led by South Africa,
are weary of the large powers Gadhafi wants to give the AU.

Ping, the AU chairman, denied there was any tension. "The United States of
Africa remains an ultimate goal accepted by all; the debate is simply how
fast to reach it," he told The AP.

He also played down another item on the summit's agenda regarding the "abuse
of the principle of universal jurisdiction." This issue is believed to have
been raised by Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir, who faces an arrest warrant
by the International Criminal Court in The Hague on charges of crimes
against humanity in Darfur.

Ping said that the AU summit's final statement would certainly not reach
"dramatic or binding conclusions" for African states who are party to the
ICC. "Though it is true that African heads of state are tired are being the
only ones targeted" by the ICC, Ping said.

The AU chairman also announced during the opening session that Africa would
sign three cooperation agreements with Brazil during the summit, focusing on
agriculture and social development.

President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was among the most high-profile guests,
along with the emir of Qatar and the head of the Arab League, who both
called for enhanced cooperation between Africans and Arabs.

In his speech to delegates, he said Brazil would help deliver a "green
revolution" in African agriculture and drive efforts to boost cooperation
between southern countries.

"This is the only way we (developing nations) will become major players and
not just victims of the changes under way" worldwide, Lula da Silva told the
AU assembly.

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Lord Malloch-Brown discusses African Union Summit on 5 Live

Foreign Office Minister, Lord Malloch-Brown, discussed the objectives of the African Union Summit during an interview with 5 Live. He is attending the Summit from 1-2 July 2009.

Shelagh Fogarty (SF): The Foreign Office Minister Lord Malloch Brown will meet world leaders later at an African Union summit in Libya.

Robert Mugabe and Omar al-Bashir, the indicted President of Sudan, are among the guests, though the Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has just announced that he is cancelling his trip. He was due to be there. Lord Malloch Brown joins us now. Good morning.

Lord Mark Malloch Brown (LMMB): Good morning.

SF: I suppose the difficult question in, when it comes to Africa is, is where do you begin? Is Somalia high on the agenda I imagine?

LMMB: Yes, Somalia’s really high on the agenda. The Government there is under real pressure from rebels. It’s fighting going on as we speak and we’re all racing to do what we can to support it, because if you remember a few years ago the country had really slumped under the control of hard line Islamist elements. And we’re just anxious to see a decent Government there that represents everybody, that protects people’s human rights and just offers a decent living to people. And that hangs in the balance at the moment.

SF: What about the cancellation by President Ahmadinejad? Was that to be expected as things are, are at the moment?

LMMB: Well I’m not sure. I mean I think it would have been typical of him to have shown up here and in a sense flaunted his success to the world, or at least here to an audience where there would have been some sympathy for his position. But I think red faces are saved all round by the fact he’s not coming. I mean I think probably to the majority of people here it’s a relief.

SF: What’s the latest from the Foreign Office on those remaining British Embassy employees? Iranian employees, but of the British Embassy, who were arrested?

LMMB: Well look, as you would expect I’m going to be very careful what I say about them. We’ve still got four who are being held and we just are being very, very sensitive about what we say publicly about them. But we’re making every effort inside Iran to secure their release. We consider they’ve done nothing wrong and this is a terrible breach of normal diplomatic protocols and laws.

SF: Away from that, Robert Mugabe, the President of Zimbabwe, is going to be at this, at this summit meeting. It’s out of the headlines in the UK papers at the moment, but how far has it come down the line since this degree of co-operation between the Mugabe regime and Morgan Tsvangirai of the opposition?

LMMB: Well we had Morgan Tsvangirai in London just recently with people from Robert Mugabe’s party, Zanu PF, in his delegation. We allowed them in, we treated them with full respect. We’re giving an increasing amount of humanitarian assistance to the Government. I’ve been meeting with people on both sides of the Government. I met with Robert Mugabe’s Vice President last week in New York, met with his Foreign Minister in South Africa a week or two before that.

So we’re really trying to increase the tempo of contact while continually saying in every encounter that we’re going to judge them by their deeds and actions. If this Government really can do the reforms it’s promised to do and can secure the reconciliation that it’s committed to, then the amount of support from the UK, Europe and the US will grow to reflect that.

SF: It was interesting and revealing in a way to see you mention that visit by Morgan Tsvangirai to London recently. He was heckled angrily by ex-pat Zimbabweans at an event in the UK wasn’t it who seemed to think that he was no more than a puppet of the Mugabe regime now that he had come from the outside to the inner circle.

LMMB: I think it was a little bit more complicated than it was reported because I think people inside Zimbabwe share some of that frustration and worry, is his good nature getting the better of him, is he being out manoeuvred by Mugabe. But equally they understand that the country was at such a low point that he had to do something, he had to engage, because so many people were going without food, there was the cholera crisis, basic services were breaking down, the schools were closed. And he’s been remarkably successful in turning a lot of that around.

I think the protesters at Southwark Cathedral were also in part motivated by the fact that there are quite a few so called illegal asylum seekers, those who’ve had their asylum seeking requests refused in the UK who once things are normal in Zimbabwe would have to go home. So I think there was a lot going on in that church meeting and it wasn’t just a commentary on Morgan Tsvangirai’s performance in Zimbabwe. It had a lot to do with asylum and refugee issues as well.

SF: Thank you Lord Malloch Brown, Foreign Office Minister, for talking to us this morning.

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No winds of change at the Grain Marketing Board

Photo: IRIN
Maize for sale
HARARE, 1 July 2009 (IRIN) - The Zimbabwean government has announced new measures to boost local cereal purchases through its crisis-ridden Grain Marketing Board (GMB), but farmers are not convinced the plan will work.

In early June the finance ministry said it had secured US$100 million for a revolving fund to support the GMB's procurement of rain through its countrywide depots.

The board had a long-standing monopoly on cereal purchases until March 2009, when private traders were allowed into the market - a response to the GMB's inability pay decent prices to farmers, which fuelled a parallel market.

"The availability of resources to the GMB should facilitate timely payments to farmers for their maize deliveries," said the finance ministry, adding that farmers would, as a result, be shielded from "exploitation by unscrupulous buyers".

Good and bad news

A recent joint crop assessment report by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP) described the liberalization of the grain market as a "very positive development" that would encourage farmers to produce commercially and improve grain reserves.

''They are still not confident that the GMB will pay them adequately, and are still smarting from the failure by the parastatal to pay them in past years''
The GMB has announced a floor price for grain of US$265, while private buyers are offering between US$180 and US$200. But the crop assessment report noted that the move was "largely ineffective at the moment, due to GMB's inability to function with virtually no liquidity". Local farmers are adopting a wait-and-see approach.

Denford Chimbwanda, president of the Grain and Cereal Producers Association (GCPA), told IRIN the GMB needed a far larger financial injection. "The move by the finance ministry to give assistance to the GMB is noble, but it is difficult to see how it will help the country - that money will buy less than 400,000 tons of cereals, a far cry from what we need in grain reserves."

Zimbabwe requires about 1.7 million tons of cereals to adequately feed itself; this year, according to the FAO/WFP report, it harvested just 1.14 million tons, an increase of 130 percent from the previous disastrous season.

"As far as I know, the majority of our members and the subsistence farmers are not surrendering their produce to the GMB ... They are still not confident that the GMB will pay them adequately, and are still smarting from the failure by the parastatal to pay them in past years," said Chimbwanda.

No guarantees

Local television quoted a GMB spokesperson as saying on 30 June that the grain board would only be able to pay cash for the first 40 tons a farmer delivered. "That does not sound as though much has changed," said Chimbwanda.

"There is no guarantee of timely payments for the remainder, so that farmers can be well prepared for the summer farming season that starts in September." Better financing for the GMB was unlikely, he added, as the government was still battling to get funding from donors to run the country.

A coalition government of three rival political parties was formed earlier in 2009 to tackle Zimbabwe's political andhumanitarian crisis, but its efforts to convince the international community to come to the rescue with aid have had mixed results.

Chimbwanda said lack of confidence in the GMB would force farmers to sell to stock feed producers and dairy farmers, reducing the amount of cereals available to the public.

John Robertson, an economic consultant, told IRIN: "It is unclear why the GMB has decided to buy at US$265 when imports can be made at cheaper prices - this will force the grain utility to sell its products at unaffordable prices. In any case, I have spoken to a number of people in the milling industry and they ... favour importing rather than buying locally."

Robertson warned that the GMB might be tempted to use some of the money from government to bankroll its operations and offset its debts.

Initial forecasts by FAO/WFP estimate that about 2.8 million people will require food aid by March 2010, a substantial decrease from the 7 million beneficiaries during the March 2009 "lean season" - the month prior to the main harvest in April.


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

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Redeeming Disaster

July 1 2009

By Eddie Cross

There can be little doubt that the "fast track land reform programme"
launched by Zanu PF in 2000 has been an unmitigated disaster. Not only has
it resulted in agricultural output declining over 70 per cent but all the
industries that were built up to supply agriculture with its many needs and
those companies that depended on farm output for raw materials, have
suffered collapse.

While the target of this unlawful and unjust campaign were 4000 white
Zimbabwean large scale commercial farmers, the impact was felt across the
whole economy - small scale farmers suffering even more than their large
scale counterparts because they were less able to protect themselves from
the side effects. Whatever the protagonists of this campaign might say, this
was just an act of wholesale piracy with the State offering the booty to
their thugs in compensation for doing their will.

Where was God while all this was going on? The Bible teaches that He is the
"defender of the poor" and that He will bring justice to those treated in
this way. But this is little compensation or comfort for the thousands of
families whose lives were torn apart and homes destroyed. Farmers, whose
lives had been invested in their farms and who know no other occupation and
who now live a much diminished existence in towns and foreign lands.

In Genesis we read about how and why God set up the world and then brought
mankind into existence. We read that He put us in charge and made us
collectively responsible for the welfare and management of this tiny globe
He has hung in space to act as our abode. He watches with sadness when we do
crazy things - but He seldom intervenes, that is our business and He leaves
us to create or destroy the creation we are a part of.

However He always acts to protect the interests and lives of those who are
His children and follow His teaching. In addition He often turns a bad
situation to good in unexpected ways. So it is with this particular human
made disaster.

Among the farmers displaced are many fine Christians. Their faith calls on
them to forgive those who did these awful things to them and in most cases
they have done so. However at the same time He has often called them to
devote their skills to helping the small farmers to make a better living for

One farmer has become the largest ostrich producer in the world - using
small growers to produce the birds while he organises all the inputs and
markets their production. Another has taken all he learned farming nearly
4000 hectares of dryland crops employing what he felt were godly principles,
to train farmers how to use their land more effectively. This system now
guides tens of thousands of small farmers in Zimbabwe and the technology and
systems are being adopted in over 20 countries across Africa.

I sat in a meeting this past week where we were looking at how to support
the small scale sector this coming summer. I happen to think that we are
unlikely to get another good season this year, the Indian monsoons are late
and light, Europe and the USA are having a very wet summer. The El Nino off
South America is strengthening, all point to a lousy season. Since it seems
that Zanu PF is intent on destroying what is left of commercial agriculture
this winter, we have no choice but to target our whole effort on small scale

It was quite an experience for me to see those dispossessed farmers sitting
around a table and putting their ideas and vision together. Some have made
remarkable progress and they will reach several hundred thousands small
scale farmers this year. In particular I was impressed by the zero tillage
concepts being taught with mulching and the use of organic forms of

Would this have happened if the farm invasions had not taken place? Perhaps
not but my most immediate thought was that here was God turning another
human disaster into good, almost despite ourselves. Many of the large scale
farmers that I talk to say they would not go back to business as usual on
their farms if they got the chance to go back. They talk about using their
operations as a base for helping out the smaller producers in their

Apart from this, we started the constitutional consultative process this
week when 10 meetings were held at Provincial level to meet stakeholders and
select delegates to attend the stakeholder's conference in Harare in mid
July. Zanu PF is doing all they can to stop the process. They have stated
that there is "no need" for the whole exercise - "after all we have a draft
in the form of the Kariba Constitution" which was signed at Kariba in 2007.
None of us had any say in that draft.  What the negotiators thought they
were doing when they did that I have no idea, but we are never going to
accept a draft that we had no hand in drafting.

Then they said we could not go ahead because there was no money. We went out
and found the money for the first phase and will probably raise the funds
for the whole process. Zanu then said we could not use donor funds for this
process! What claptrap - this is the most important job that the
Transitional Government has to do in its short life. We are going to do it

Morgan is still being criticised on every front for his remarks while on his
recent trip abroad. Just look at these headlines in Fridays Independent
newspaper: "Mugabe dispatches team to counter Tsvangirai trip"; "Tsvangirai
call on exiles ill-thought out"; "In defence of Tsvangirai"; "Tsvangirai
loosing touch with reality"; "Wake up call for naļve Tsvangirai";
"Scepticism dogs Tsvangirai tour"; "Warm welcome but little cash for

The actual facts about this three week tour are in fact quite different.
When he was sworn in, he was urged by Diplomats in Harare to visit their
home capitals. He at first said he would not travel for six months. However
pressure built up for this trip and it was decided to try and do as many
capitals as he could in a short time. Bear in mind that no Zimbabweans
leader has been received in major capitals for over 12 years. The objectives
were quite simple - to re-establish contact with major western leaders and
start the process of reengagement. The issue of additional money was not a
major objective. Donor budgets are set well in advance and we already have
had a doubling of foreign aid in the first half of 2009. We knew well in
advance that new money was unlikely - certainly not in any quantum.

Was the trip a success - by any measure it was. In every capital he visited,
he was seen by the Head of State and given a warm reception. He was able to
brief these leaders on the problems of the Transitional Government and of
the needs we have to get through to a new election in 2010. I am sure there
is a much better understanding of the Zimbabwe situation and that we will
get the strategic support we need to craft a new constitution and
re-establish service delivery to our people. They will also have understood
what we need to do to get free and fair conditions for the next elections.

The tour gave no comfort to the Zanu PF leadership at home. In country after
country, our team was told, in no uncertain terms, what we as a country have
to do to regain their confidence and support. Free up the media, stop
abusing our legal system, respect private property rights, restore
fundamental freedoms. Even the famous booing in that Cathedral in the UK
bore no comfort - what those exiles were saying is "we want no compromise;
Mugabe and his henchmen must go". We agree, but we are locked into a deal by
the region and must simply live with it and try to overcome the obstacles
they will put in our way to a new Zimbabwe.

Morgan is home today - next week he resumes the fight for justice and
freedom in Zimbabwe. Rested and I hope strengthened in his resolve to do the
right thing for all Zimbabweans. Please note that trip to the East by
several Zanu PF heavyweights on a "fund raising tour". I happen to know that
negotiations are well under way for a US$700 million line of credit from
China. Watch the State press when they claim that this facility is the
result of this trip. I just hope that China and Russia are too savvy to be
used in this way.

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First Rights: 'No one feels safe in Zimbabwe. No one.'

By Nat Hentoff

The BBC's Mike Thomson, in a series of reports from Zimbabwe in early June,
spoke to "a Zimbabwean mother and (13-year-old) daughter who are still too
afraid to return home after being abducted and repeatedly raped by
militiamen from President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party a year ago." (Its
symbol is a clenched fist.)

Their fear has not lessened despite the new alleged "power-sharing"
coalition between Mugabe and the Movement for Democratic Change's Morgan

Also still fearful is a woman, Patience, whom Thomson described as carrying
a large book with "the names of people tortured, killed, raped or maimed by
Zanu-PF mobs last year." Mortuary officials, hospital officials and court
clerks covertly helped compile the list.

Thompson asked Patience what would happen if she brought this crimes list to
the police or the Ministry of Justice so that those responsible would be

In this "coalition" government, Mugabe is still in tight personal control of
the police, the spy service, the criminal justice system and the media.)

Looking Thomson straight in the eye, Patience answered his question: "I
would be killed, even torn to pieces. I definitely believe that."

Explaining the sureness of her conviction, Thomson explained: "She believes
they are desperate to destroy evidence like this, which, she says, could put
them in court should President Mugabe eventually be forced from government."

Even Mugabe's rapists and murderers do not feel safe in Zimbabwe.

Thomson, who had reason not to feel safe himself in this police state, spoke
about the incriminating evidence to the Movement for Democratic Change's
Sekai Holland, whose rawly ironic title in this coalition government is:
"Minister of State for National Healing, Reconciliation and Integration."
Ms. Holland has had acute personal experience in the need for healing since
she herself had been beaten so viciously by Mugabe's Zanu-PF surrogates that
she was hospitalized for weeks.

"No one feels safe in Zimbabwe. No one," she said, adding that, "different
members of the MDC are getting phone calls from people who give the names of
people who are going to be assassinated (by clench-fisted Zanu-PF

"I think," the minister of State for National Healing, Reconciliation and
Integration, continues, "there is a department which meets to plan the
survival of Zanu-PF as a ruling party. We are told they do have a list of
people they will kill."

There have been many such fulfilled execution lists in the 29 years of
Robert Mugabe's reign of horror.

Also interviewed by Thomson in his report was Harare University professor of
Politics, John Makumbe.

He predicts:

"If the inclusive government does not work, we are going very close to
Somalia. We are going into the scorched earth policy. That is what Mugabe is
going to do. Destroy everything in the name of ideology, destroy everyone."

Who is going to stop him? The United Nations is as preeningly hollow as

President Obama is concerned. On June 12, meeting with the Zimbabwe's
purported "power-sharing" prime minister, Morgan Tsvangirai at the White
House, Obama -- as described in a June 13 New York Times headline -- 
"chided" Mugabe.

Rather mildly, Obama said of Mugabe that he "has not acted oftentimes in the
best interest of the Zimbabwean people and has been resistant to the kinds
of democratic changes that need to take place."

Obama added that he was expecting Tsvangirai to "continue to provide us with
direction in ways that he thinks we can be helpful."

But, as Robert Rotberg -- president of the World Peace foundation and
director of the Harvard Kennedy School's Program on Intrastate Conflict -- 
says bluntly (Boston Globe, June 13):

"Mugabe, insufferably confident and arrogant at 85, hardly wants to be
upstaged by his much younger prime minister. He seeks to protect himself and
his security cronies from being investigated for corrupt dealings and human
rights abuses.

"The destruction of a prosperous, largely democratic Zimbabwe happened on
their watch. The blood of thousands is on their hands."

Back in Zimbabwe, Thomson is told by a 20-year-old survivor, Tapfuma (who,
with his mother, had been beaten unconscious by the Zanu-Pf and will not go
home under the new coalition government): "Zanu-PF, the people who did this,
are still out there. They are still wearing their T-shirts."

Even Tsvangirai, desperately seeking foreign investors in his broken
country, is so fearful they will reject any aid reaching Mugabe that on
PBS's "NewsHour with Jim Lehrer" (June 11), Tsvangirai said:

"I think that the new political dispensation represents a new Zimbabwe,
which is looking forward to reconstruction, to reconciliation, and economic

How Mugabe must have smiled when told about that painfully false homage.

Nat Hentoff is a nationally renowned authority on the First Amendment and
the Bill of Rights. He is a member of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of
the Press, and the Cato Institute, where he is a senior fellow.

(July 1, 2009)

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When the Truth Becomes a Casualty

Ben Freeth - Mount Carmel farm, Chegutu, Zimbabwe

30 June 2009

The recent utterances by the Prime Minister of Zimbabwe about farm invasions
being "isolated", "blown out of proportion" and most recently, "I can count
them," are a disturbingly false reflection of the reality on farms in
Zimbabwe today.

While I write this at the end of June 2009, I look back a full year to when
I was very badly beaten up and abducted with my parents-in-law.  It was on
Sunday 29 June, the afternoon that President Mugabe was being sworn into
office yet again.  They made my mother-in-law sign a bit of paper, while she
had a gun to her head, saying that we wouldn't go to the SADC Tribunal in
Windhoek, Namibia to try to get justice in the chaotic farm situation.

We went to the Tribunal anyway, hoping that justice would prevail.  We got a
judgement on 28 November 2008; but the Zimbabwe Government was earlier this
month found to be in contempt of it and is doing nothing about putting a
halt to the chaos.

This does not bode well for the future.  And so I would like to invite the
Prime Minister to join me for a drive through my district so that he can see
why this is the case.  Perhaps we could start in the rather dusty, desolate
little town of Chegutu where hundreds of hawkers sell oranges which they
have obtained from people who never planted the orange trees from whence the
oranges came.  We could proceed to Harare past Mount Carmel farm where we
still cling on tenuously.  It is important that our globetrotting Prime
Minister sees first hand the persecution and destruction and feels the fear
and uncertainty on these few remaining commercial farms.  If he did, he
would undoubtedly question his current state of denial.

A short drive out of town on the main Chinhoyi road will immediately bring
him to Senator Madzongwe's latest prime acquisition - Stockdale Citrus
Estate.  Interestingly, before the formation of the Government of National
Unity (GNU), the Senator's best efforts at evicting the Etheredges were
never fully successful.  The ink was barely dry on the GNU papers before the
Etheredge families were hounded from their homes and unequivocally denied
access to their property.  It was a fortunate coincidence that the trees on
this farm were dripping with over 6 000 tons of citrus immediately ready for
harvesting for the important export market. Despite reports to the contrary
in the State media, the Etheredges, after irrigating, spraying and
fertilizing their crop, haven't reaped a single orange and all the state of
the art equipment owned by them has been earmarked by the Senator for her
own use.

As the Prime Minister will come to understand on all the subsequent farms on
our dusty drive, the Zimbabwe Republic Police have been the main players in
the eviction and harassment of the farmers and their workers in these take
overs.  On this, the first farm of the tour, the Etheredges and their
workers have had a homestead broken into by police; they have been arrested
and jailed; and they have even been shot at by police, with some of their
workers being hit.  Despite the SADC Tribunal ruling in the Etheredges'
favour, trigger-happy policemen with AK 47s still guard the property for the
illustrious new "owner."  I would welcome the Prime Minister's thoughts
regarding the loss of investment, jobs and production in the face of such
illegality before we move on.

A book was recently written about Rainbow's End farm which is the next farm
that we would come to on our drive.  It is owned by the Beattie family and
is usually buzzing with farming activity.  Large citrus orchards and
hundreds of hectares of irrigated row crops are the basis for production on
this property.  For the mathematically minded, it would be simple to work
out that from the 800 hectares of irrigated winter cereals which the
Beatties would normally have the capacity to produce, ten million loaves of
bread could be made  This year, well past the wheat planting date, not a
single ton of wheat will be converted into bread as all the lands are lying
fallow.  Mr Beattie is being prosecuted by the State and is undergoing a
lengthy trial for the unique Zimbabwean crime of farming.  He has already
lost tens of thousands of orange trees to Minister Bright Matonga, who,
after reaping the available oranges, left thousands of trees to die
untended.  The Beatties now face a new invasion on Rainbow's End farm and
have to run the daily gauntlet through the rent-a-mob in their yard, and
battle to pass through their homestead gates that the invaders often lock.

Ten kilometres out of Chegutu the melancholic sign post for none other than
"Madzongwe Road" tells a story in itself.   It is the road to our farm.  The
sign is bent and faded and tired looking.  Maybe it looks a bit like us.  If
the Prime Minister were to turn off here, the first white-owned farm he
would come to belongs to Retief Benade.  This farm, like every other, is
also under siege.  There is no chance of police assistance for the farmer
here as the invader is a senior policeman himself.  What else can one expect
in what has become a police state?  Mr Benade realised he would not win. In
desperation, last month, he sold his entire beef and dairy herd of a few
hundred animals, including his breeding cows.  They did not go to another
breeder, they went for slaughter. No one buys breeding herds in countries
where investments are not protected.  Breeding herds are long-term
investments - phenomena that have become obsolete in the Zimbabwe of today.
Mr Benade has taken his expertise to Zambia. To go elsewhere in Zimbabwe
would be asking for trouble.  The farm invasions are wide-spread.  That is
the undeniable truth.

Next door is Northleigh farm belonging to the Bronkhorsts.  The Prime
Minister will learn that this was until recently the biggest dairy farm in
the Chegutu district.  Earlier this year, policemen and the lands officer
assisted invaders who broke into the main house and took possession of the
house and farm.  They had no authority from a court to do so, but who needs
authority from courts in a lawless state?  Mr Bronkhorst eventually moved
off.  What belongings he could salvage, he managed to get off two weeks ago.
Despite the taking over of a dairy farm with its entire infrastructure,
there is no longer a single cow being milked on Northleigh farm.

Next up, this time on the left, is Balclutha farm.  This was a well-run
cropping farm, perhaps one of the most productive in the country, employing
about 300 workers.  It has produced thousands of tons of seed maize, seed
wheat and soya beans each year and did so again this year.  The
brother-in-law of the controversial Reserve Bank Governor, Gideon Gono, has
the offer letter for this farm. The owner managed to reap his crops last
month but hasn't planted a winter crop. Like almost all the other remaining
white farmers he has recently received a notification from the Ministry of
Lands ordering him to "cease cropping."  Like all the other white farmers we
pass on the tour, he is also being prosecuted in the courts.  It's just too
risky for him to take the chance and sow food crops.  If money is invested
into a crop and the new "owner" moves on just before the harvest, the police
will not help and the farmer will stand to lose everything.  Besides which,
he will probably join the other criminals in jail for having the audacity to
commit the dastardly crime of farming.

On the neighbouring farm, Mount Carmel, where we are, the whole harvest has
been looted by the people who represent the offer letter holder. This was
the largest mango producing farm in Zimbabwe until ZANU PF octogenarian
Nathan Shamuyarira moved "Landmine" and his people on in April this year.
It is certainly profitable to move on to a farm at harvest time in a lawless
country if you are a chef.  Farm workers were beaten and bones were broken.
One of our workers was left with a fractured skull and another with a broken
foot.  Some were imprisoned and further beaten by police.  At a court
hearing the magistrate ordered that a medical examination of these police
beatings be done but this was never actioned.  Our workers currently live
without water or electricity at their dwellings as the invaders have cut
them off.  This is part of their unbridled attempt to harass them out of
their houses in the same manner as they have evicted my parents-in-law, Mike
and Angela Campbell, from theirs. Despite two High Court orders in April
this year ordering the invaders off Mount Carmel, the harvesting of all the
Mike Campbell (Pvt Ltd) crops by the invaders continues unabated, even

A drive to the Campbells' house would be as ill advised here as at
Stockdale.  Invaders with guns zealously guard the road to the homestead.
The deputy Prime Minister, Arthur Mutambara, along with both Ministers of
Home Affairs, witnessed this dire situation first hand on a fact-finding
mission back in April but other than a bit of talk, no concrete action was
taken and the situation has been allowed to deteriorate.

Alongside the High Court order we also have the final judgement by the SADC
Tribunal which said that Mike Campbell, his family and his workers should be
allowed to live in their homes undisturbed and be permitted to continue
farming.  Nothing is being done to effect the judgements.  Even when the
Zimbabwe Government was found to be in contempt of the SADC Tribunal on 5
June 2009, nothing was done or even said about rectifying their contempt;
and so police inaction continues.  Losses of export crops due to this
continued state-condoned illegal activity amount to hundreds of thousands of
US dollars.

Past Mount Carmel farm there is a significant absence of white farmers.
They were chased away by police, army and invaders long before the GNU came
into being despite the fact that there were no eviction orders to authorise
these actions.  Both the Reochs' and the Lilfords' homesteads have since
been burnt down and the settlers are frequent recipients of food and other
aid on these derelict farms.

The next white farm on this rather depressing trip will be Reydon farm.
Here the Chegutu lands officer, Clever Kunonga, is trying to take the farm,
this time for himself. This lands officer faces a recent High Court order
barring him from the property.  He has not adhered to it so he is now facing
contempt of court proceedings as well.  His relentless persecution of the
occupants of Reydon still continue. Last week he had eviction notices served
on some of the workers.  One of them had no means to oppose the eviction and
found himself and his belongings transported off the farm. His belongings
were unceremoniously dumped on the roadside while he was thrown into jail
for understandably trying to resist the eviction.  He had nowhere else to
go.  Bolstered by this triumph, the lands officer is trying to evict more
workers from their homes on "his" farm while the white farmer is away.

Over the road from Reydon on the right is Wakefield farm.  Downsized but
still remarkably productive, this was perhaps the biggest tobacco producing
farm in the country this year.  A couple of months ago it was invaded by men
with guns. The owner is again being prosecuted for farming and a number of
his workers have been evicted by the invaders.  He was left with a small
handkerchief-sized piece of land that had not been allocated.  He went to
the Minister of Lands earlier this month to get confirmation that he could
grow his tobacco crop on this unallocated land; but was immediately
afterwards faced with people clutching offer letters for the piece in
question. Another 300 workers there stand to lose their homes and
livelihoods too.

After that the Prime Minister would see no farms still occupied by white
people until we would get to the main Harare-Bulawayo road and turn left to
Harare.  There at Selous we will pass Colin Cloete's farm.  He is yet
another farmer going through a tedious and hugely expensive trial for
committing the crime of farming. The deputy Prime Minister also visited him
in April with the Minister of Lands.  It was then discovered that the
District Administrator, Mr Mariga had part of the farm allocated to his
brother, but that the farm had never been listed.  Just last week, the new
Minister of Lands, Herbert Murerwa, listed the farm and on a signature, it
was acquired.  The laws of a dictator are disturbingly simple. They are not
complicated by a judicial process.  At the stroke of a pen, homes,
livelihoods and often a life time's work can be acquired.  Those are the
laws that the SADC Tribunal have struck down. It is distressing that the
Prime Minister has said nothing about recognising the judgement and has made
no move in parliament to change any of these draconian laws of acquisition -
or any of the other draconian laws for that matter.

In the last 70 km - from Selous to Harare - the ethnic cleansing of the
farms has now been successfully completed.  The Prime Minister will see no
farms still occupied by white people. Although the last white farmer on his
land in this once productive Norton farming area, Richard Price, was swept
away through the condoning activities of the GNU earlier this year, it hasn't
stopped the Unity Government from proceeding with prosecution against him.
This all-consuming passion for prosecutions has reached absurd proportions.
Proceedings were started against the late father of Deon Theron, the vice
President of Commercial Farmers' Union, earlier in the year.  The papers
were drawn up despite the fact that the man in question passed away four
years ago.

There has been only one case of farms actually being paid for in this area.
This was by Gideon Gono.  He had had the 'genius' to understand the
irrefutable importance of title deeds. It is interesting to note that not
one of the many farms that Gono has bought has since been acquired by the

So on this 120 km drive, the Prime Minister will note that the situation is
very bleak indeed. All ten of the farms that were occupied by white people
when the GNU came into being, have since come under siege.  Five of the ten
farmers in question have already been pushed off their farms.  On all ten
farms the farmers are facing prosecution.  On these farms over 500 workers
have become unemployed since the GNU came into place.  There will be
approximately 1400 workers on the ten farms that will be without jobs if the
situation is allowed to carry on.  If their dependants are included, there
will be over 5 000 more hungry mouths to feed in a country which has become
the most food aid dependent in the world.  Millions of US dollars of
productive capacity have already been lost since the GNU began, from these
ten farms alone.  Already orchards that took years to establish are dying.
And all this at the hands of a handful of individuals with offer letters,
and less than a hundred thugs who have been given carte blanche to act with

Are these really "isolated incidents"?  Are they really being blown "out of
proportion"?  And most critically, are the other roads through the
commercial farms in the rest of the country any different?

As the land is wiped "clean", the stage is being set for another violent
election where the people will without exception in the rural areas be under
the control of the Presidents' men. Despite all this there seems to be no
urgent move by the Prime Minister to initiate the much talked about land
audit; no urgent move to recognise property rights and Zimbabwe High Court
orders; and most disturbingly for anyone concerned with justice and human
rights, no urgent move to even mention the SADC Tribunal and its judgement,
let alone call for its implementation.  There is no country in the world
that has ever fed itself and thrived in any way where farmers and their
employees have had to live under such perniciously adverse circumstances.

Was it any wonder that the Prime Minister was booed in Southwark Cathedral
for allowing the truth to become the casualty?  If we do not face the truth
on the farms and in our country and deal with it, the stalking spectre of
fear which casts its long shadow over every farmer and farm worker family in
Zimbabwe, will only become darker.

The Bible says "the truth will set you free;" and so it will as we all
strive to stop the unforgivable compromising of the truth. The alternative -
allowing truth to be swallowed up - is to face more years of bondage,
destruction and fear for our people and our country. Only when we face the
truth and grapple with it, will we see the people of Zimbabwe set free from
the yoke of oppression under which we all groan.

Ben Freeth - Mount Carmel Farm, Chegutu.

For further information:

Ben Freeth

Mount Carmel Farm



Cell:  +263 912 241 477 (on the farm)

Cell:  +263 913 016 880 (off the farm)


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'Ensure full implementation of unity govt pact'

by Ntando Ncube Wednesday 01 July 2009

JOHANNESBURG - The Solidarity Peace Trust (SPT) on Tuesday called on
SADC and the African Union (AU) to ensure that Zimbabwe's power-sharing
agreement is fully implemented to guarantee human rights in the troubled
southern African country.

The South African-based SPT - which brings together churches in
southern Africa and other organisations involved in campaigning for human
rights, freedom and democracy in the region - also called on Zimbabwean
civic groups to discuss the impact of sanctions on the country.

"Strong steps must be taken by the guarantors of the GPA (global
political agreement) - SADC and the AU - to ensure that the democratic and
human rights reforms of the GPA are implemented with greater speed," SPT
research director Brian Raftopolous said at a launch of two reports in

The SPT reports are entitled: "Walking a thin line: The political and
humanitarian challenges facing Zimbabwe's GPA leadership - and its ordinary
citizens"; and "Gone to Egoli: Economic survival strategies in Matabeleland".

"The continued abrogation of the elements of the GPA by the ruling
party must come under censure," Raftopolous said.

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) brokered last
September's power-sharing agreement between Zimbabwean political rivals
President Robert Mugabe of ZANU PF party and Morgan Tsvangirai of the
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) that led to formation of a unity
government in February.

The MDC has said it is unhappy with ZANU PF's refusal to finalise
outstanding issues from the GPA, among them Mugabe's unilateral
reappointment of central bank governor Gideon Gono and appointment of
Attorney General Johannes Tomana.

"They set up an agreement that must be reviewed in six months; they
have a responsibility on this matter. We have to take it back to them as a
body that is responsible. We have to refer the mater back to them . . . to
who else should we refer this issue?" Raftopolous said.

Prime Minister Tsvangirai, who returned on Monday from a three-week
tour of the United States and European capitals appealing for support for
the unity government said early this month that his MDC party is expecting
regional leaders to meet to discuss problems bedeviling the power-sharing

However the SPT director said that sanctions imposed by Western
countries against Mugabe and his ZANU PF party inner circle must be scrapped
for the coalition government in Zimbabwe to work.

Raftopolous urged Zimbabwean civic groups to come together and debate
the impact of sanctions on the country.

"Civic society does not have a clear position when it comes to
sanctions . . . We haven't had a proper debate on sanctions as civic
organisations in Zimbabwe. I am saying let's debate it . . . it's a public
policy issue lets debate it," he said.

"We need to talk about the role sanctions are playing in the country,
will sustained sanctions help to deal with outstanding issues. I can't see
any strategic link between these sanctions and outstanding issues."

The US and its European Union allies have promised more humanitarian
support for Zimbabwe but continue to hold back on direct financial support,
saying Harare must implement more reforms and uphold human rights.

SPT said the international donor community must complement its
humanitarian efforts in Zimbabwe by direct financial assistance to the unity
government, adding that conditions for support needed to be aligned to the
milestones set by Harare deriving from the GPA.

"The current humanitarian interventions must be complemented by key
developmental support in order to assist in developing the material basis
for a national reconciliation process in Zimbabwe," said SPT chairman Bishop
Rubin Phillip, adding: "Conditions for international support must be based
on the benchmarks set by the transitional government itself, which must in
turn be based on the central democratic demands of the GPA." - ZimOnline

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Walking a thin line: The political and humanitarian challenges facing Zimbabwe’s GPA leadership - and its ordinary citizens

Cover of SPT report: Walking a Thin Line

Solidarity Peace Trust released two new reports yesterday. Download ‘Walking a thin line’ from the SPT website, or from Sokwanele’s document archive.

Executive Summary

The Global Political Agreement signed on 15th September 2008 was an uneasy compromise between the two MDCs and Zanu PF, and was the result of a combination of factors: the weakening of both Zanu PF and the opposition, together with the social and civic forces that supported the MDCs; the disastrous economic and humanitarian descent in the country; pressure from SADC; and growing international isolation of the Mugabe regime. Moreover while for Zanu PF the GPA was a modality to claw its way out of the economic crisis and to begin a normalistion of international relations, the MDCs accepted the agreement as their only viable route to power, and a vital opportunity to begin a process of national political and economic revival.

The Transitional Government will continue to manifest the challenges of the Zimbabwe crisis, demonstrating the complexity of the national, regional and international dimensions of the situation. The new government has to face the challenges of dealing with overlapping legacies of colonial inequalities and post-colonial authoritarian rule, while attending to the post Cold War demands of North-South relations. In such a context the wrong forms of international interventions could well encourage divisions in the democratic movement, as well as a new convergence around nationalist questions of sovereignty across party lines, in the face of mounting frustrations caused by limited international support. In the absence of sound alternatives to the current political arrangement, the slow international response to the needs of the new government could strengthen the hand of the more regressive elements of the ruling party in the military and security, while frustrating the democratic forces within the transitional state. This risks around limited engagement with the transitional arrangement are much greater that a more substantive engagement by the international community.

A major obstacle to the GPA has been the continued failure of the new government to create a situation in Zimbabwe where there is total respects for human rights and the rule of law, notwithstanding the fact that the scale of harassment of civic and opposition members has been reduced from the extreme repression of 2008. The international community is unlikely to engage with any meaningful financial assistance until there is a clear return to the rule of law, respect for property rights and the genuine opening up of the media. However, the failure of the international community to engage could well threaten the fragile state of the GPA, which if it were to collapse, would lead to another round of violence and repression.

An uneasy calm prevails in some parts of the country, while in others tensions remain high in the wake of the horrific violence of 2008. This serves to underline the need for healing in Zimbabwe and it is commendable that a Ministry of National Healing has been established. There is need for this organ to allow for the encompassing of a variety of approaches. It is unlikely that the compromised space of the GPA will allow for high level prosecutions or for the establishment of an effective truth commission, but debates about the future possibility of such processes should begin. To facilitate such processes and to deepen democratic debate in the country media reform needs to be speeded up.

Access to Humanitarian resources and coping strategies in Matabeleland.

In focusing on the access to humanitarian resources and the coping strategies in one part of the country, Matabeleland, the following major findings were recorded:

  • In 2008 families were largely excluded from access to both health and education. While over the last six months there has been some improvement in access to education, and some erratic improvement in rural clinic delivery, the situation in rural Zimbabwe in 2009 remains generally dire.
  • The majority of families interviewed (65%) have not harvested more than a few months of grain, and will be in need of donor food relief again by September 2009. This food security is already being undermined by the fact that families in rural Zimbabwe do not have access to foreign exchange, meaning that they are being forced to pay school fees, bus fares and grinding mill fees with their meager harvests. Bartering and the loss of able-bodied people to the Diaspora continue to impoverish rural Zimbabweans, increasing the already heavy burden on female-headed households.
  • Because most rural families have little or no access to foreign exchange, it is not financially viable for small business owners in rural business centres to restock, given the limits of the local market.
  • Political violence is not apparent in rural Matabeleland. Democratic spaces have opened up and people are able to meet more freely and debate contentious issues without interference. However in Bulawayo itself problems persist, with students and members of WOZA arrested and assaulted this year when conducting peaceful demonstrations.


  1. One of the central factors in ensuring the success of the GPA is to put in place economic policies that will provide more security of livelihoods for Zimbabwean citizens. This can only be done though a combination of effective mobilisation of national resources, with support from SADC and the international community.
  2. It is vital for the international donor community to carefully calibrate its interventions with the transitional government. The current humanitarian interventions must be complemented by key developmental support in order to assist in developing the material basis for a national reconciliation process in Zimbabwe.
  3. Conditions for international support must be based on the benchmarks set by the transitional government itself, which must in turn be based on the central democratic demands of the GPA.
  4. There must be a more open debate within the democratic forces in the country over the continued basis for Sanctions in the current context. There are too many mixed messages emerging around this problem.
  5. Continued ways must be found to fund the transitional government without at the same time perpetuating the dual authority in the current state structures, which have the potential to provide the more regressive actors in Zanu PF with basis to derail the GPA.
  6. Strong steps must be taken by the guarantors of the GPA, SADC and the AU, to ensure that the democratic and human rights reforms of the GPA are implemented with greater speed. The continued abrogation of the elements of the GPA by the ruling party must come under censor.
  7. All parties to the agreement must ensure the constitutional review process is not hindered by the obstructive interventions of any party to the agreement, and that, as much as possible within the framework of the GPA, the concerns of civil society are attended to around this process.
  8. From the findings of the Diaspora study it is clear that many families in the rural areas are not being sustained by remittances. This adds urgency to the need for sustainable economic reforms that will provide greater security for the livelihoods of the majority of Zimbabweans.

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“Gone to Egoli”: Economic survival strategies in Matabeleland - a preliminary study

Gone to Egoli - report cover

The second report released yesterday by the Solidarity Peace Trust is titled  ‘Gone to Egoli’. Download the full report from the SPT website, or from Sokwanele’s document archive.

Executive Summary

There is not much likelihood that the formal economy in Zimbabwe will recover any time soon. It is likely to take over a decade before industry begins to recover in any meaningful way, and in the interim, Zimbabwe will continue to lose her youth to the diaspora, and those left behind will struggle to survive. Particularly in rural areas, grinding poverty is likely to be a factor for the indefinite future.

Diasporisation is escalating exponentially, with our sample families reporting a one hundred fold increase in the rate at which family members are leaving, between 1990 and 2009. However, there is not proving to be a corresponding return in remittances for rural families in Matabeleland.

While 59% of Zimbabweans in the diaspora are under the age of 30, only 4% of these send goods or money home on a regular basis – three times a year or more. Goods and money sent home do not lift families out of desperate poverty. 76% of families with members in the diaspora received NO money at all in 2008, and many of the remaining 34% received less than R100 a month. Goods sent home could amount to as little as 2 kg of sugar. When asked to describe the impact of having family members abroad, only 20% spoke of remittances. Most people referred to death, disease, criminal habits, broken marriages and diaspora orphans.

Families have been driven to bartering in the almost total absence of foreign exchange and goods for sale in rural areas. This has been ruthlessly exploited by the unscrupulous and at the end of last year, people in some parts of Matabeleland had to barter cows for 50kg maize meal each. Urban families have also resorted to barter as poverty overwhelms them.

The prospects are bleak for Zimbabwe’s poorest citizens, and for the nation’s youth. The next few years are unlikely to see the massive growth nationally that is needed to create the jobs that could change this reality. What is more likely, is that Zimbabweans will continue to stream across the borders – to be confronted in turn with the hardship of life on the streets in South Africa. Zimbabwe’s poor are getting poorer, and the degree to which remittances from abroad can mitigate against this, has been overestimated when judged against the findings of this study.

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