HARARE (AFP) - Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe insisted Monday that the
farming sector could help bring about an economic revival as he handed
equipment over to beneficiaries of his controversial land reforms.
The programme of land reforms, which saw white farmers kicked off their land
which was then handed over to landless blacks, has been widely blamed for
the economic woes in a country formerly regarded as the region's bread
Many new landowners had little experience in farming and production has
nosedived since the launch of the programme in 2000.
Inflation is also now running at more than 3,700 percent but Mugabe told
farmers who were now in place that they could execute an "an important step
towards disinflation" by increasing food production.
"As we celebrate today's remarkable achievement (land redistribution) we
need to commit ourselves to a singleness of purpose and resist attempts by
our detractors to tempt us into losing sight of our national programmes," he
Mugabe's speech, which included a new broadside against former colonial
power Britain, came as hundreds of farmers were handed equipment including
tractors, combine harvesters and even 1,500 ox-drawn ploughs bought with
funds from the central bank.
Some of the beneficiaries included youths groups, tribal chiefs, civil
servants groups, senate and war verterans.
Central bank chief Gideon Gono said the mechanisation project was designed
to enhance food production, adding that 33 percent of Zimbabwe's
hyperinflation was induced by food.
Mugabe welcomed some members of the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) who attended the function by saying that "no politics can make
the alien, we eat together don't we?
"When we engage in our political fights, it's because our tummies will be
Zimbabwe's relations with Britain were strained when the southern African
country launched controversial land reforms six years ago calling the
project a reversal of historical imbalances that favoured white farmers.
Critics often blame the land reforms for compromising production in the
former regional breadbasket saying the beneficiaries lack the means and
skills to farm.
HARARE (AFP) - Lawyers are being arrested, beaten and harassed as part of a
systematic campaign of vilification by Zimbabwe's government, the
International Commission of Jurists said Monday.
"There is a systematic campaign to vilify lawyers in Zimbabwe," ICJ mission
chief Claire L'Heureux-Dube told reporters following a five-day visit to the
troubled southern African nation by the Geneva-based legal rights group.
"The mission is disturbed that the unjustifiable harassment, detention and
beating of lawyers has only increased the tension between the Law Society
and the government.
"Such treatment is interfering with the proper functioning of the
administration of justice, the role of lawyers and their independence," she
told a briefing in neighbouring South Africa.
The team reported back that two prominent defence lawyers, Alec Muchadehama
and Andrew Makoni, had been arrested and assaulted at the beginning of last
The pair, who have often represented members of the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC), were then held incommunicado, without medication
and food, denied access to their families and denied court bail, said
L'Heureux-Dube, a retired Canadian supreme court justice.
Their treatment was "clearly an escalation in the harassment and
intimidation of the legal profession and other persons perceived to be
unpopular with the government", she said.
When some of the men's colleagues tried to hold a peaceful protest against
their treatment, they were baton-charged and herded onto police trucks. The
protesters, including the president of the Law Society, were later dumped by
the trucks on the side of the road.
When the ICJ mission met with the permanent secretary of the justice
ministry, David Mangota, to raise their concerns he had accused the lawyers
of lying in court affidavits on behalf of their clients.
"The permanent secretary said he had not and would not investigate the
matter," said the ICJ team's report.
Mon 11 Jun 2007, 15:09 GMT
By MacDonald Dzirutwe
HARARE, June 11 (Reuters) - President Robert Mugabe on Monday made a rare
gesture of acknowledgement to the opposition, saying despite political
differences with his government they remained Zimbabweans.
Mugabe frequently uses public occasions to lambaste the opposition Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC), which he calls a puppet of former colonial
power Britain, and has vowed its leader Morgan Tsvangirai will never rule
On Monday, Mugabe -- who presided over the distribution of agriculture
machinery to farmers as part of a drive to mechanise the agricultural
sector -- departed from criticising his local opponents, urging them to help
develop the country.
"We are happy they are here ... and they are part of us in the entity we
call the nation and no politics can ever make them alien," Mugabe said to
applause from the gathering during a speech broadcast on state television.
"And therefore that realisation is very important that there must be
occasions we must be together. And after all we eat together, don't we?"
said Mugabe, sounding jovial.
It was not immediately clear which opposition members were present at the
Mugabe defended his government's land reforms, a major point of difference
with the MDC, which says top government and ruling ZANU-PF officials have
benefited from the land seizures.
The veteran Zimbabwean leader accuses the MDC of seeking to topple him from
power with the help of funding from the West and says the opposition is
prepared to give back the land to whites.
Critics say the land reforms have decimated commercial agriculture and
contributed to food shortages. International aid groups last week said a
third of Zimbabwe's population would need food aid by early 2008 after a
countrywide crop failure.
Mugabe again accused Britain of leading a Western campaign to sabotage the
economy as punishment for the land seizures but said the land reform was
"It was wrong for Britain to organise the world into tarnishing us,
completely disregarding the area of our difference which was the land
issue," Mugabe said.
"But we knew we were right in what we were doing, we knew we were right in
our politics, we knew we were right in taking our land, and indeed right is
becoming our might."
Mugabe -- in power since independence in 1980 -- on Monday said London had
no right to debate Zimbabwe's internal issues in its parliament.
"Debating Zimbabwe as who? Sometimes I wonder whether they are still sane,"
he said, taking issue with British foreign office minister David Triesman
who last week said Mugabe risked a trial on rights abuses if he did not
change his policies.
"He is a madman," Mugabe said.
11 Jun 2007 16:09:39 GMT
FILABUSI, 11 June 2007 (IRIN) - Zimbabwean police arrested more than 150
people on Monday in rural Matabeleland South during a protest march against
the ongoing economic hardships.
About 500 demonstrators carrying placards and chanting anti-government
slogans at Filabusi, about 100km southeast of Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second
city, were confronted by heavily armed police officers. Kossam Ncube, the
lawyer acting on behalf of those detained, told IRIN the marchers had been
arrested and assaulted.
The protest march, organised by the women's movement, Women of Zimbabwe
Arise (WOZA), said its members were demanding "social justice, and that
government rein in corruption and act on the crumbling economy, which has
reduced millions of our people to virtual beggars."
"Some of those arrested have little children with them and they [the
children] are currently [also] in custody. The crowd that had gathered
comprised our members in this rural area [Filabusi] and ordinary villagers
who are disenchanted with the [President Robert] Mugabe regime," WOZA
spokesperson Jennifer Williams told IRIN.
"They are demanding affordable foodstuffs - a lot of people are hungry and
this is a paramount issue that government should address. Also, we wanted to
launch a People's Charter in this area which outlines the change that people
across the country are yearning for ... Basically, this is the paperwork
about people's demands that we have compiled over the last eleven months."
Ncube said some of the activists had been beaten while being arrested and he
would contest both their arrest and assault in court, as it was every
citizen's right to demonstrate peacefully.
"I am currently seeking clarification with the police about this, but
indications are that they [the detainees] are being charged for
demonstrating without police clearance," Ncube said.
Demonstrators told IRIN the protest had been against the government's
failure to deal with the more than 3,700 pecent annual inflation rate, the
highest in the world.
Nomalanga Sibanda, a protester who evaded arrest, said, "We are starving
here. Food is expensive in shops, and maize that is cheap, which is meant to
be sold to everyone by the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) [the state-controlled
sole distributor], is being sold only to ruling party supporters. Those
suspected of being dissidents, like myself, are left out. It's just not
Police arrested the protesters for contravening the Public Order and
Security Act (POSA), which prohibits all demonstrations not sanctioned by
the police, although analysts said the tough security legislation was being
used to crack down on any dissent directed against Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF
Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena confirmed the arrests and said police
would not tolerate any activities threatening national security.
Lawyers representing those arrested told IRIN that 100 activists were
arrested in similar demonstrations held by WOZA last week, some of whom had
allegedly been tortured while in custody.
Monday 11th June - 6pm
The WOZA members arrested and detained at Filabusi Police Station today were
released without charge just after noon. Police returned all the t-shirts
and scarves that they had confiscated but kept all the placards and copies
of the People's Charter to submit to provincial leaders.
Minutes before the peaceful protest was about to begin, a police vehicle
arrived at the Post Office, the starting point of the demonstration. An
officer armed with an AK 47 assault rifle alighted and approached two
members. He said to them - "you are always talking about rights, but why don't
you say what rights you are talking about." He then ordered them into the
vehicle and drove them to the police station. Approximately 150 other
members decided to follow and hand themselves in. Police stopped recording
down their names after an hour, saying they were tired.
When the female officer in charge asked them why they were there, the women
briefed her on the hunger in their homes, their inability to pay school fees
and the fact that they were no longer allowed to dig for gold to help
themselves. She apparently sympathised with them saying she also found it
hard to make ends meet in her home. She then called the District
Administrator to attend the 'meeting'. He listened to the complaints;
telling them food aid would soon be coming and that they should set more
affordable fees, as parents. He accepted the People's Charter and placards,
saying that he would pass them on to his seniors and that a reply would come
to them soon. They were then told to go home.
When lawyers attended shortly after their release, police denied that any
women had been arrested - they had merely had a meeting with them. The
lawyer did overhear some police officers planning to locate the whereabouts
of Jenni Williams who was in the area to monitor proceedings however.
Fortunately Williams was able to leave in the company of the lawyers before
they could make good their plan.
WOZA declare a victory for non-violent protest and acknowledge the
'sisterhood' from the officer in charge who treated the WOZA activists with
respect. We look forward to the promised food aid, hopefully without any
political strings attached, from the District Administrator to be fulfilled.
Over 100 rural WOZA members arrested in Filabusi today
Following on from the demonstrations and arrests in Bulawayo last week, over
100 members of Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) were arrested in Filabusi
The exact numbers are not clear as activists are still entering the police
station to hand themselves in.
Rural members of WOZA had gathered today in Filabusi, the administrative
centre for Insiza District, to launch the People's Charter in that area. The
Charter is the result of an eleven-month process of consulting ordinary
Zimbabweans on what they want in a socially just future. The people of
Insiza were widely consulted on their vision of a new Zimbabwe and endorsed
the People's Charter fully in return visits to the district.
Several hundred women had gathered in Filabusi this morning but before they
could begin to march, police began arresting them. Those not arrested then
marched to the police station to hand themselves in, in solidarity.
This demonstration today follows on from People's Charter launch
demonstrations in Bulawayo, Harare, Masvingo, Gweru and Mutare. It also
follows on from demonstrations last week in Bulawayo to press for the
inclusion of voices at the negotiating table that will raise the social
justice issues contained in the People's Charter - issues at the heart of
ordinary Zimbabweans. For a copy of the People's Charter, please visit our
website at www.wozazimbabwe.org
More news will be made available as details emerge.
11 June 2007
For more information, please contact Jenni Williams on
+263 912 898 110 or 011 213 885, Magodonga Mahlangu on
+263 362 668, firstname.lastname@example.org or
By Tererai Karimakwenda
June 11, 2007
The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN), which had 33 accredited
observers in the Zaka East House of Assembly by-election held on Saturday,
has expressed deep concern over the electoral process and called for several
reforms to increase voter confidence and participation. The by-election was
for the seat left vacant by the death of ZANU-PF's Tinos Rusere in March
this year, and it went ahead without participation by the main opposition
parties, who have insisted on a new Constitution and an electoral framework
that does not favour the ruling party. They are also demanding this during
the ongoing talks being mediated by South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki.
The ruling party candidate, Retired Brigadier General Livingstone Chineka,
won the poll by 11,152 votes, with Nicholas Shanga of the United People's
Party polling 1,117 votes and Lameck Batirai of the Zimbabwe People's
Democratic Party receiving 622 votes. This is the second election conducted
without candidates from both factions of the Movement for Democratic Change.
Rindai Chipfunde from ZESN said their observers noted a low turnout and
reported that by mid-day, most polling stations were deserted. The state
paper The Herald agreed and reported that only 13,480 villagers or 27,1
percent of the constituency cast their ballots. Chipfunde said many youth
had not voted because they are not registered due to a lack of resources at
the Registrar General's office. There was also no mobile registration units
reaching the rural areas where villagers are too poor to travel designated
ZESN also expressed concern over the unusually high number of assisted
voters at some polling stations. Chipfunde pointed to Chigwagwa Primary
School, where 68 out of 451 voters were assisted to vote by a presiding
officer in the presence of the police. She called for reforms to allow
voters to bring a trusted friend or relative in order to safeguard the
secrecy of their vote.
The election support group has been calling for a new revised voters' roll.
Chipfunde said this would build confidence in the electoral process because
many people who have voted before were turned away, even though they had
proper identification. The current voters' roll also contains the names of
people who are deceased or have left their constituencies.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
June 11, 2007
Jan Raath in Harare
Less than two years after it became the world's newest diamond producer
Zimbabwe is in danger of being placed on the list of rogue diamond producers
accused of using the gems to fund wars and crime.
A five-strong delegation from the world's diamond trading watchdog is in
Zimbabwe to examine what mining company executives say is a smuggling
operation that is enriching the elite of President Mugabe's ruling Zanu (PF)
The inquiry is focused on the Marange communal land in the east of the
country, where in June last year African Consolidated Resources (ACR), a
British listed company, began sampling a diamond claim after tribesmen with
hoes began turning up gems.
By August it had turned into a chaotic swarm of up to 14,000 men, women and
children who had turned the virgin bush into a seething, red dust-choked
landscape of vast craters.
Industry experts believe that since then $150 million (£75 million) of
diamonds have been smuggled out of Marange.
In September the Zimbabwe Government stepped in. Soldiers and police drove
out the illegal diggers. But the digging didn't stop. Reporters able to
penetrate the cordon found underpaid policemen and soldiers digging diamonds
themselves, or forcing illegal diggers to do it for them. At the same time
ACR was summarily ordered off the site. The mines ministry cancelled the
company's claim and gave it to a state-owned company, despite being told by
the attorney-general's office that it was illegal to do so.
Since then a blanket of secrecy has been thrown over the diamond field. But
Zimbabwe is a member of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, which
was founded in 2002 to halt the flow of illegal gems that fuelled the civil
wars of Sierra Leone and Liberia.
Diamond exports must be accompanied by a certificate affirming that they
come from a legitimate source. The country must also publish details of its
output. "We don't know who is mining there," said Jack Murehwa, president of
the Zimbabwe Chamber of Mines.
Last week Dominic Mubayiwa, chief executive of the state-owned Zimbabwe
Mining Development Corporation ZMDC), said that it had been extracting
diamonds at Marange since April. Simultaneously, a report by a parliamentary
committee investigating the Marange controversy "noted with concern that the
ZMDC does not have the capacity to carry out feasibility studies, to mine,
or put in a security fence around the area." Mr Mubayiwa said that the
corporation was managing to excavate only 25 tonnes of ore a month.
He refused to give any details of the diamonds produced.
Last year mining companies reported that the Government was buying diamonds
from illegal diggers at Marange. In February the state minerals marketing
agency secretly auctioned 50kg of diamonds, with no apparent reference to
Kimberley Process requirements. In March William Nhara, the director of Mr
Mugabe's office, was arrested at Harare airport trying to smuggle out 11,000
carats of uncut diamonds.
The Government's handling of Marange was "legalising the illegal," said
Cameron McRae, Murowa mine managing director, cautioning that Zimbabwe
risked being expelled from the Kimberley Process.
CRISIS COALITION INFORMATION
The Student Christian Movement of Zimbabwe (SCMZ) has learnt that its
National Vice Chairperson, Lawrence Mashungu, has been under the
surveillance of state security agents the whole of last week. On Wednesday
6th June seven state security agents raided his brothers' home in Rugare,
Harare in the early hours of the morning. Four of them armed to the teeth,
ransacked the whole house and harassed everyone who was there, demanding to
know the whereabouts of Lawrence. The state agents did not tell Lawrence's
brother why they were looking for him.
SCMZ is disturbed by these developments and the continued harassment of
Zimbabwean citizens fighting to restore peace and justice in the country.
Zimbabweans are now living in perpetual fear from their own government.
Repressive State action has gone on for a long time with impunity. This
unfortunate status quo can not be allowed to prevail for long.
SCMZ believes that governments exist to protect rather than persecute its
citizens. God's desire for governments is for them to defend the cause of
the weak and fatherless, maintain the rights of the weak and oppressed,
rescue the needy and deliver them from the hand of the wicked (Psalm 82
verses 1-4). The State cannot lightly abdicate these obligations. They
derive their authority from God, and if they go against the Lord's wishes,
they cease to be legitimate governments.
SCMZ urges the Zimbabwean Government to revisit its social contract with its
citizens. Particularly, it should commit itself once again to the genuine
concerns of advancing social, economic and political rights of its citizens
and not sell the needy for pair of shoes. Justice must roll like a
thunderstorm in Zimbabwe, and only then, God's purpose and destiny for
Zimbabwe will be revealed, for He knows the plans that He has for Zimbabwe,
plans to build, not to destroy, plans that will prosper Zimbabwe.
Psalms 72: 4 "May he defends the cause of the poor of the people, give
deliverance to the needy, and crush the oppressor!"
By Tichaona Sibanda
11 June 2007
MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai is scheduled to address a rally in central
London on the 23rd June and will be accompanied by a number of senior party
officials, Newsreel learned on Monday.
Initially Tsvangirai was due to have held the rally on the 12th May but it
was postponed at the last minute due to the death of national party chairman
Jaison Matewu, the MDC-UK's organising secretary, told us it has now been
confirmed that Tsvangirai will be in London next week for a number of
engagements and will cap off his tour with a star rally in Camden, central
London on a Saturday.
Leaders of the Christian Alliance will also be travelling with Tsvangirai
and it is believed they will also meet with Zimbabweans living in exile in
'We are urging all Zimbabweans in the UK to attend the rally. This is their
opportunity to interact and exchange views and ideas with the leadership of
the party. The Christian Alliance delegation is also expected to be in
attendance and this will give many people the chance to hear the church's
role in trying to resolve the crisis back home,' Matewu said.
In the last three months there has been an increased crackdown on the
opposition. Over 600 opposition supporters have been abducted and tortured
by government agents since March this year.
As the level of repression and violence against MDC supporters escalated the
Southern African Development Community (SADC) appointed South African
President Thabo Mbeki to mediate in the crisis. But an overwhelming number
of Zimbabweans have indicated they have no faith in the process.
'As I have said, if people want the latest update on the mediation talks
they should come to the rally and hear the President because he will be
having the latest news on the talks and the crackdown on fellow colleagues
in Zimbabwe,' Matewu said.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
June 11 2007 at 09:24AM
A drastic new law compelling foreign firms operating across all
sectors in Zimbabwe to sell half their shareholdings to Zimbabweans or risk
losing their licences and registrations was being finalised for presentation
in parliament next month, officials said.
The new Empowerment Bill, which critics say is reminiscent of land
confiscation laws that have ground Zimbabwe's mainstay farming sector to a
halt, will see the government using its economic leverage to force
businesses to comply with the law.
Apart from risking losing their licences, offending businesses will
not benefit from any government contracts.
The law sets tough conditions for government departments, to force
them to do most of their banking with banks that are wholly locally-owned
This would disadvantage banks like Standard Chartered Bank, Stanbic
Bank and Barclays Bank, as half their equity is controlled from abroad.
Government departments would have to procure goods and services from
locally owned companies, and companies listed on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange
would be expected to restructure to meet new local ownership requirements or
be stopped from trading on the bourse.
Economists say the Bill would further undermine the Zimbabwean
economy. "If this is the course they want to take, it represents another
monumental step in economic lunacy," said Lovemore Mujari, a
Johannesburg-based Zimbabwean economist.
Indigenisation and Empowerment Minister Paul Mangwana described the
Bill in a media interview as "irreversible".
After its land seizures, the Zimbabwean government has been preparing
legislation to force foreign mining companies to cede at least 51 percent
majority equity to the state.
The difference between the law envisaged for the mining sector and the
latest Empowerment Bill is that the latter does not make it a requirement to
sell equity to the state, but to black Zimbabweans in general.
The new bill is wider in its quest for empowerment and is now meant to
ensure "total local control" of the economy, said one ruling party
legislator, who asked not to be named.
Officials privy to the bill said the law would also require Zimbabwean
private companies to source services like accounting and auditing from local
firms. Imports would also have to be facilitated by locally owned companies.
The government also plans for at least half the equity in state-owned
enterprises to go to Zimbabwean citizens after they have been privatised.
All foreign companies seeking to invest in Zimbabwe would have to have
50 percent local shareholding.
This article was originally published on page 2 of The Mercury on June
By Peta Thornycroft
11 June 2007
Zimbabwe's justice minister Patrick Chinamasa has taken the first legal step
to change Zimbabwe's constitution for the 18th time since independence in
1980. The new amendment that was published in the Government Gazette last
week will expand the size of the parliament and senate, and allow
presidential and parliamentary elections to be held simultaneously. Peta
Thornycroft reports for VOA from southern Africa.
President Robert Mugabe postponed the first proposed meeting between his
ruling ZANU-PF party and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change that
had been arranged by the South African government.
South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki was appointed by the Southern African
Development Community to mediate, so that next year's Zimbabwe national
elections can take place without disputes about electoral rules or
But Zimbabwe justice minister Patrick Chinamasa has published a proposed
constitutional amendment for changes to electoral laws. Zimbabwe's
state-controlled Herald newspaper said Saturday parliament is expected to
begin debating the proposed amendment next month.
Independent political commentators say the proposal undermines President
Mbeki's efforts to mediate between ZANU-PF and the MDC.
Information minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu told the Herald that the propsed
constitutional amendment had nothing to do with the mediation.
The amendment expands parliament from 150 members to 210, but slightly
reduces the number of non-elected legislators.
The amendment also shortens the six-year term of the next elected president
by a year. Elections for the legislature, senate, and the president will be
held simultaneously when President Robert Mugabe's term ends next March,
when he will be 83 years old.
The changes amend the rules for electing a new president should the post
become vacant during the presidential term. At present, if President Mugabe
dies presidential elections have to be held in 90 days. In the future, if
the presidential post becomes vacant, for whatever reason, the legislature,
not the people, will appoint the president.
The new constitutional amendment would also establish a human-rights
commission that opposition groups say will be packed by ruling-party
loyalists and will provide cover for the Mugabe administration's ongoing
Opposition groups have been pushing for a complete overhaul of the
constitution, including reform of all electoral laws, before next year's
But there are only six months left before the election machinery gets into
place for the next national polls, too short a time, many critics say, to
change Zimbabwe's political climate and laws to allow free and fair
More people die every month in Zimbabwe than in either Darfur or Iraq.
According to Unicef statistics life expectancy is 37, and rape, torture and
killing by government agents is commonplace. But the real tragedy is that nearly
three decades ago, when Robert Mugabe came to power, Zimbabwe was the
agricultural powerhouse of Africa, feeding not only its own population but
exporting food to surrounding nations. It is a country of rich natural resources
that the people are banned from farming, forced to watch prime land run to seed
while their children go hungry. The international community has been paralysed
with uncertainty and so has largely stood by as President Mugabe has commited
genocide. His term in office is due to end in March 2008, but after rigging the
last set of elections he is now planning constitutional reform to continue his
presidency beyond the legal time frame. However, to do this will require the
backing of those in his own party. While the president is for all practical
purposes a dictator, he cannot survive without a power base, and the personal
sanctions imposed on a list of leading figures in the Zanu-PF ruling party by
the EU in 2002 are finally beginning to bite. In order to protect their business
assets, government officials are being forced to look overseas for sleeping
partners to bypass sanctions on their behalf. International watchers are
increasingly convinced that Mugabe's backers will desert him if it is clearly in
their own financial interests to do so. This means that decisive action on the
part of the EU right now could make a huge difference to the course of
Zimbabwean history. The highly regarded International Crisis Group is calling
for the 2002 sanctions to be extended to the family members and business
associates of those on the EU list, so they cannot be used to shelter assets.
Many analysts believe that politically Mugabe would not survive the subsequent
in-fighting in his party and effective pressure could be brought to bear for
reform. At long last there is something concrete that European governments and
individuals can do, and every single one of us has a responsibility to make sure
this opportunity is not missed. Please visit The
Difference blog to sign our online petition and get full details, including
a draft letter, of how you can write to your MP requesting that the
recommendations of the International Crisis Group. Life after death Robert MacDonald describes his torture, the brutal murder of his farm workers
and his campaign for his homeland. It takes a few minutes for Robert MacDonald to answer his doorbell, but the
effusive Zimbabwean welcome is worth the wait. "Hello!" he booms, "Good to see
you. I trust you are having a truly blessed day!" and with a warm smile he
ushers me inside. It is not until he ambles off that I see how much his progress
is slowed by injury, the legacy of the beating and torture he received at the
hands of a Mugabe hit squad two years ago. Far from the stereotyped white farmer
living in a colonial past, MacDonald is not easily pigeon-holed. His wife,
Sihle, is black, and his farm was operated on a co-operative basis. Each worker
had his or her own field but used the farm's machinery to work the land. At
accounting time the workers received 40% of the profits into their own bank
account and MacDonald provided investment advice and helped labourers to buy
their own properties, as well as setting up a pension fund. This obvious recipe
for commercial success was part of what made the farm attractive to Mugabe's
land-grab henchmen. "They invaded the farms that were highly profitable,"
MacDonald says simply. His manner is matter-of-fact as he recounts the details
of that 'invasion'. "I was dragged out of the farmhouse and tied to a tree. I
was tortured and beaten for three days until they thought I was dead; then they
took me to a river and threw me out on the banks. I had a broken leg, broken
arm, massive lacerations to my head, my nose was broken, my kidneys were
severely damaged. Because of the trauma I still have a swollen heart." It is not
until I ask what became of the farm workers that the tears begin to fall. "They
were rounded up and put into a hut. The door was locked and it was burnt down
while they were inside. There were 28 people. They were my colleagues, my dear
friends," he pauses for a moment and then says, more quietly, "eight of them
were children." He is keen to stress the point that Mugabe's violence is colour
blind. "The white farmers that have perished are in the minority," he says. "The
majority of people Mugabe has killed are black people, his own people."
MacDonald himself, still tentatively clinging on to life after the beatings,
managed to crawl three miles to the nearest village. There some local people
went to find friends who could help him. "They patched me up as best they could.
We then travelled to the border, partly by vehicle, partly by donkey cart,
partly on foot. I eventually managed to swim across the Limpopo River to South
Africa. I spent six months in hospital, then I borrowed some money and got the
first direct flight I could to the UK." The one thin silver lining to the cloud
was that a few weeks earlier MacDonald, sensing the Mugabe threat closing in,
had managed to make arrangements for his wife to go back to Bulawayo where her
tribe originates from. They bought a house and she moved in with their
eight-year-old daughter. "We adopted her," he explains, "when my wife's brother
and his wife were burned alive in their home. Their six-week-old baby was found
in the ashes, miraculously still alive. We called her Thuble Shia Shelter, which
means sheltered from the storms of life. So the political situation has touched
every aspect of our life not just some aspects." With MacDonald largely out of
their grasp, the CIO (Mugabe's secret services) turned their attention to Sihle
and her daughter. "She was told she wasn't allowed to leave the suburb she
stayed in, so that she was available to the authorities whenever they needed
her," MacDonald recalls. "She was arrested and beaten eight or nine times then
released, but we knew that she was no longer safe. I managed to raise some funds
so her friends could smuggle her the 400 miles to the border; it nearly took a
month before she reached the Limpopo River. When they got there, because of the
crocodiles they decided to cross very early in the morning; they're warm-blooded
creatures so they don't move when it's cold. Her friends blew up a tractor tube
and they pulled my wife and daughter across then swam back. They had God's
protection; there was another group also trying to cross further down the river
and some of those were eaten by crocodiles. The crocodiles there, that's what
they live on. They feed on refugees." Now safe in the UK, MacDonald has two purposes in life. One is to raise the
£3,000 it will take to get his wife and daughter from the relative safety of
South Africa to be with him here, the second is to build awareness of the
situation back home, to try to keep Zimbabwe on the political agenda. In
particular he works to raise the profile of Bishop Pius Ncube who was recently
nominated for a Nobel peace prize for his selfless and uncompromising opposition
to Mugabe. "I first met him eight or nine years ago. Anybody who was propagating
a message of Christ I used to visit and speak to. I went to the abbey and I said
I would like to meet the bishop. At first they said 'Who are you?', but I was
persistent and came back the following week and they took me through to meet
him. After that he came to visit me on quite a few occasions and we sat and
talked for hours. I am a Pentecostal and he is a Catholic so we disagreed on a
doctrinal level but you don't judge a man on that, you judge a man on what comes
out of his heart, and out of the bishop's heart there is a deep concern for the
disaster that is happening to his people." Like many who are aware of the
situation in Zimbabwe, MacDonald finds it hard to stomach that the rest of the
world is turning a blind eye to the horrendous death toll. "More people die in
Zimbabwe per week than anywhere else in the world, but there is no oil. Today
oil is the currency for action." He continues: "The UN has done nothing besides
wag its finger. In years past, many people in Zimbabwe regarded Britain as their
motherland, and tens of thousands gave their lives in the two world wars, but
now they feel abandoned. It could be so different if Britain was willing to take
a formal, positive role in spearheading international condemnation and driving
the EU's response. Extending the EU's economic sanctions could make all the
difference." The ball, it seems, is firmly in our court. For more details on Robert
MacDonald's campaign to raise awareness of the plight of the Zimbabwean people,
visit www.lionandspear.com Interview by Kay Carter. Photographs by Serena Atkins
More people die every month in Zimbabwe than in either Darfur or Iraq. According to Unicef statistics life expectancy is 37, and rape, torture and killing by government agents is commonplace. But the real tragedy is that nearly three decades ago, when Robert Mugabe came to power, Zimbabwe was the agricultural powerhouse of Africa, feeding not only its own population but exporting food to surrounding nations. It is a country of rich natural resources that the people are banned from farming, forced to watch prime land run to seed while their children go hungry. The international community has been paralysed with uncertainty and so has largely stood by as President Mugabe has commited genocide. His term in office is due to end in March 2008, but after rigging the last set of elections he is now planning constitutional reform to continue his presidency beyond the legal time frame. However, to do this will require the backing of those in his own party. While the president is for all practical purposes a dictator, he cannot survive without a power base, and the personal sanctions imposed on a list of leading figures in the Zanu-PF ruling party by the EU in 2002 are finally beginning to bite. In order to protect their business assets, government officials are being forced to look overseas for sleeping partners to bypass sanctions on their behalf. International watchers are increasingly convinced that Mugabe's backers will desert him if it is clearly in their own financial interests to do so. This means that decisive action on the part of the EU right now could make a huge difference to the course of Zimbabwean history. The highly regarded International Crisis Group is calling for the 2002 sanctions to be extended to the family members and business associates of those on the EU list, so they cannot be used to shelter assets. Many analysts believe that politically Mugabe would not survive the subsequent in-fighting in his party and effective pressure could be brought to bear for reform. At long last there is something concrete that European governments and individuals can do, and every single one of us has a responsibility to make sure this opportunity is not missed. Please visit The Difference blog to sign our online petition and get full details, including a draft letter, of how you can write to your MP requesting that the recommendations of the International Crisis Group.
Life after death
Robert MacDonald describes his torture, the brutal murder of his farm workers and his campaign for his homeland.
It takes a few minutes for Robert MacDonald to answer his doorbell, but the effusive Zimbabwean welcome is worth the wait. "Hello!" he booms, "Good to see you. I trust you are having a truly blessed day!" and with a warm smile he ushers me inside. It is not until he ambles off that I see how much his progress is slowed by injury, the legacy of the beating and torture he received at the hands of a Mugabe hit squad two years ago. Far from the stereotyped white farmer living in a colonial past, MacDonald is not easily pigeon-holed. His wife, Sihle, is black, and his farm was operated on a co-operative basis. Each worker had his or her own field but used the farm's machinery to work the land. At accounting time the workers received 40% of the profits into their own bank account and MacDonald provided investment advice and helped labourers to buy their own properties, as well as setting up a pension fund. This obvious recipe for commercial success was part of what made the farm attractive to Mugabe's land-grab henchmen. "They invaded the farms that were highly profitable," MacDonald says simply. His manner is matter-of-fact as he recounts the details of that 'invasion'. "I was dragged out of the farmhouse and tied to a tree. I was tortured and beaten for three days until they thought I was dead; then they took me to a river and threw me out on the banks. I had a broken leg, broken arm, massive lacerations to my head, my nose was broken, my kidneys were severely damaged. Because of the trauma I still have a swollen heart." It is not until I ask what became of the farm workers that the tears begin to fall. "They were rounded up and put into a hut. The door was locked and it was burnt down while they were inside. There were 28 people. They were my colleagues, my dear friends," he pauses for a moment and then says, more quietly, "eight of them were children." He is keen to stress the point that Mugabe's violence is colour blind. "The white farmers that have perished are in the minority," he says. "The majority of people Mugabe has killed are black people, his own people." MacDonald himself, still tentatively clinging on to life after the beatings, managed to crawl three miles to the nearest village. There some local people went to find friends who could help him. "They patched me up as best they could. We then travelled to the border, partly by vehicle, partly by donkey cart, partly on foot. I eventually managed to swim across the Limpopo River to South Africa. I spent six months in hospital, then I borrowed some money and got the first direct flight I could to the UK." The one thin silver lining to the cloud was that a few weeks earlier MacDonald, sensing the Mugabe threat closing in, had managed to make arrangements for his wife to go back to Bulawayo where her tribe originates from. They bought a house and she moved in with their eight-year-old daughter. "We adopted her," he explains, "when my wife's brother and his wife were burned alive in their home. Their six-week-old baby was found in the ashes, miraculously still alive. We called her Thuble Shia Shelter, which means sheltered from the storms of life. So the political situation has touched every aspect of our life not just some aspects." With MacDonald largely out of their grasp, the CIO (Mugabe's secret services) turned their attention to Sihle and her daughter. "She was told she wasn't allowed to leave the suburb she stayed in, so that she was available to the authorities whenever they needed her," MacDonald recalls. "She was arrested and beaten eight or nine times then released, but we knew that she was no longer safe. I managed to raise some funds so her friends could smuggle her the 400 miles to the border; it nearly took a month before she reached the Limpopo River. When they got there, because of the crocodiles they decided to cross very early in the morning; they're warm-blooded creatures so they don't move when it's cold. Her friends blew up a tractor tube and they pulled my wife and daughter across then swam back. They had God's protection; there was another group also trying to cross further down the river and some of those were eaten by crocodiles. The crocodiles there, that's what they live on. They feed on refugees."
Now safe in the UK, MacDonald has two purposes in life. One is to raise the £3,000 it will take to get his wife and daughter from the relative safety of South Africa to be with him here, the second is to build awareness of the situation back home, to try to keep Zimbabwe on the political agenda. In particular he works to raise the profile of Bishop Pius Ncube who was recently nominated for a Nobel peace prize for his selfless and uncompromising opposition to Mugabe. "I first met him eight or nine years ago. Anybody who was propagating a message of Christ I used to visit and speak to. I went to the abbey and I said I would like to meet the bishop. At first they said 'Who are you?', but I was persistent and came back the following week and they took me through to meet him. After that he came to visit me on quite a few occasions and we sat and talked for hours. I am a Pentecostal and he is a Catholic so we disagreed on a doctrinal level but you don't judge a man on that, you judge a man on what comes out of his heart, and out of the bishop's heart there is a deep concern for the disaster that is happening to his people." Like many who are aware of the situation in Zimbabwe, MacDonald finds it hard to stomach that the rest of the world is turning a blind eye to the horrendous death toll. "More people die in Zimbabwe per week than anywhere else in the world, but there is no oil. Today oil is the currency for action." He continues: "The UN has done nothing besides wag its finger. In years past, many people in Zimbabwe regarded Britain as their motherland, and tens of thousands gave their lives in the two world wars, but now they feel abandoned. It could be so different if Britain was willing to take a formal, positive role in spearheading international condemnation and driving the EU's response. Extending the EU's economic sanctions could make all the difference."
The ball, it seems, is firmly in our court. For more details on Robert MacDonald's campaign to raise awareness of the plight of the Zimbabwean people, visit www.lionandspear.com
Interview by Kay Carter. Photographs by Serena Atkins
Monday 11 June 2007
By Own Correspondent
JOHANNESBURG - Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe could attend a forthcoming
summit between African leaders and the European Union (EU) after Germany -
current EU president - reportedly agreed that strained relations between
Brussels and Harare should not hinder the meeting.
The EU-Africa summit has been postponed several times because of objections
by some European leaders to the attendance of Mugabe who they accuse of
tyranny and gross human rights violations.
But South African President Thabo Mbeki, who met German Chancellor Angela
Merkel on the sidelines of the just-ended G8 summit, said she had agreed
that relations between Europe and Africa could not solely depend on events
in one country - a clear reference to Mugabe's Zimbabwe.
Mbeki, appointed by southern African leaders to mediate in Zimbabwe's
political crisis and who has promised a breakthrough, said he was hopeful
after his meeting with Merkel that the EU/Africa summit would go ahead
The South African leader said: "She (Merkel) told me that . the relationship
between the EU and Africa is very important and ought not to be blocked by a
view about a particular country, and I think that's quite correct ..
Hopefully, that summit will take place without any obstacles being
The EU and the United States of America five years ago imposed visa and
financial sanctions against Mugabe and his top officials who they accuse of
ruining Zimbabwe through misrule and of stealing elections, failure to
uphold the rule of law, violating human and property rights.
The Western governments have cut direct aid to the Harare administration but
still give humanitarian aid and HIV/AIDS support mostly through
Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe since its 1980 independence from Britain,
denies the charges by the West and instead accuses Washington and Brussels
of ganging up to sabotage Zimbabwe's economy to punish his government for
seizing white-owned land to give to landless blacks.
Zimbabwe has since 1999 been grappling with an agonising political and
economic meltdown, that has seen inflation shooting to more than 3 700
percent, while the country is short of food, essential medicines, fuel,
electricity, hard cash and just about every basic survival commodity.
Southern African Development Community leaders fearing Zimbabwe's fast
deteriorating crisis could spill over into neighbouring countries last March
appointed Mbeki to lead efforts to resolve the crisis by facilitating
dialogue between Mugabe's government and the main opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) party.
Mbeki has said preliminary talks between Mugabe and the MDC were going on
very well but has not shed more details saying doing so would prejudice the
negotiations that were still at a delicate stage. -- ZimOnline.
Monday 11 June 2007
By Justin Muponda
HARARE --The failure by the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
to close ranks ahead of national elections in 2008 could prove to be the
biggest obstacle to a democratic dispensation as President Robert Mugabe
consolidates power unhindered and looks set to defeat the fractured
opposition at the polls, analysts said.
Once a formidable party that came close to ousting Mugabe's ZANU-PF party in
the 2000 parliamentary elections, the MDC is now a shadow of itself when it
was formed in 1999, largely due to internal squabbles on tactics to confront
the ruling party and a government crackdown on its structures.
Political analysts said the MDC had worsened its predicament by failing to
patch up differences following its split in 2005 mainly over positions in a
"The problem is that the MDC is behaving like a party in government
especially when you look at demands by the two factions on who should get
what post," leading political commentator Eldred Masunungure told ZimOnline.
"This is compounding the MDC's problems as it were and in the process they
are missing the bigger picture, which is confronting ZANU-PF. That is the
main reason why they are in opposition, to fight the government of the day,
not among themselves," he added.
The analysts said most Zimbabweans, while angry with Mugabe's policies that
are blamed for plunging the country into a deep recession, felt more
betrayed by the MDC's failure to present a united front to challenge
Zimbabwe, which was once a model economy for other African states, is
grappling with a serious economic crisis that has seen real domestic gross
product contracting by nearly 40 percent since 1999 while inflation has
zoomed past 3,700 percent is seen rising further, leaving more people in
John Makumbe, a University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer said the
opposition was making a strategic mistake by concentrating on its internal
squabbles while a rejuvenated ZANU-PF continued to galvanise its supporters
for the presidential, parliamentary and municipal elections next year.
"I think they are making a huge strategic mistake and the sad thing is that
ZANU-PF is becoming more vicious in order to destroy the MDC," Makumbe, a
frequent Mugabe critic said.
"At the rate at which they are going, the MDC is likely to enter next year's
elections more divided than before. They are wasting energy on differences
that they can easily resolve, it is an issue of egos," he added.
The smaller faction of the MDC led by Arthur Mutambara is reportedly
pressing with a lawsuit against main MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai over
remarks the former trade unionist allegedly made against his former
The two factions are reportedly imposing conditions for unity, such as who
will get which post after the reunification process.
Political analysts said in its fractured state, the MDC would lose an
election which the international community could deem relatively free and
fair and therefore restore limited or full relations with a re-elected ZANU
PF government, especially if Mugabe shows preparedness to install a
reformist successor after the polls.
The analysts noted that ZANU PF was itself divided over the still unresolved
question of Mugabe's succession but said the ruling party was still better
organised than the opposition and many times more vicious in its push to
The ruling party has already started campaigning for the 2008 elections and
is already closing out the MDC from its traditional rural strongholds where
it has continued to command mass support and score big victories against the
"It is not wrong to assume that ZANU-PF under the current circumstances will
win an election which the international community could deem somewhat free
and fair. ZANU-PF is much better prepared and organised and still has a
large support base in the country," Masunungure said.
Mugabe's government has intensified repression against the opposition and
civil society and the veteran leader said early this month security forces
were maintaining a high level of vigilance to quell planned opposition and
labour unions' protests he says are meant to remove him from power.
Analysts say the 83-year-old leader -- who has been in power since
independence in 1980 -- has used tough policing, including the arrest of
activists on trumped-up charges and the use of heavily armed police and army
to intimidate and quell protests.
Mugabe rejects allegations of running down the economy and points to a
Western conspiracy led by Britain to sabotage the economy as punishment for
his government's seizure of white-owned commercial farms for blacks. --
Monday 11 June 2007
By Regerai Marwezu
MASVINGO - President Robert Mugabe's ruling ZANU PF party retained the Zaka
East parliamentary seat in a by-election marred by chaotic preparations,
poor voter turnout and accusations of intimidation against the opposition.
ZANU PF's Livingstone Chineka polled 11 162 votes to clinch the House of
Assembly seat while the two small opposition parties, the United People's
Party's (UPP) and the Zimbabwe People's Democratic Party polled 2 376 votes
between them. Turnout was about 10 percent of total registered voters in the
The main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party expected to
give ZANU PF a tougher contest in next year's combined presidential and
parliamentary elections opted out of the Zaka ballot because the winner of
the poll would have to step down in a few months when new nationwide
elections are held.
Jubilant ZANU PF supporters lifted Chineka shoulder high, as they sang and
chanted slogans in celebration soon after the results were announced at the
Zaka district council offices.
But a disappointed election officer for the UPP, Mussolini Ngwenya, said his
party would challenge the result in court, charging the vote was not free
and fair and that his party did not have election agents to monitor voting
at all the polls because they were chased away or intimidated by war
veterans and militant ZANU PF supporters.
"We failed to deploy election monitors and agents because there were being
intimidated by ruling party supporters. The elections was not free and fair
and we are going to challenge the outcome," said Ngwenya.
Veterans of Zimbabwe's 1970s independence war are the main cog of Mugabe and
ZANU PF's campaign machine, waging violence and terror against the
opposition to secure victory in every major election since 2000.
Constituency registrar Nyashadzaishe Zindove, who on Friday afternoon
admitted a shortage of vehicles and fuel had crippled efforts to timeously
move voting material and personnel to polling stations ahead of voting on
Saturday, said the ballot had taken place in a peaceful and orderly fashion.
Political violence and charges of vote rigging have marred every ballot
since the emergency of the MDC in 1999 as the first truly potent electoral
challenge to Mugabe and ZANU PF's decades old stranglehold on power.
Southern African Development Community leaders, eager to resolve Zimbabwe's
long-running political and economic crisis, last March appointed South
Africa's President Thabo Mbeki to broker talks between ZANU PF and the MDC.
The talks should among other things achieve agreement on conditions and
rules for the holding of free and fair elections next year. - ZimOnline.
The Vigil celebrated the news that two supporters have been given their
papers this week to stay in the UK. They are Co-ordinator Dumi Tutani and
Fungayi Vincent Mabhumu. Dumi has been at the forefront of the Vigil's
activities since it started five years ago and has been a great source of
strength and determination. It is a scandal that it took so long for his
asylum claim to be accepted by the authorities but now like Fungayi he will
be able to work legitimately. One of our campaigns is to end the sad state
of affairs that people awaiting a final determination of their status in
this country are not allowed to work. This is a corrosive state of affairs
for anyone. Refugees by and large desperately want to work and help their
families back home.
While we were celebrating there was a lot happening in our area of London.
Believe it or not some streets were closed to enable nude cyclists to ride
past. We were disappointed that their route did not pass directly by the
Vigil but we sent out some spies who reported many of them were wearing
underclothes. However we did witness a big march past by demonstrators
protesting on behalf of Palestinians. Our supporters plied them with fliers
and many of them came to sign our petitions. Interestingly several
passers-by commented on the massive support for this fashionable cause and
wondered why we did not get the same support for our protest against
horrific human rights abuse and lack of democracy in Zimbabwe.
Among our visitors was a lady from the Congo who told us of her suffering
through her arrest and imprisonment in the Congo. It was apparent she found
it difficult to speak of her experiences and she will send us an email
account of what she went through. We agreed that it was important for the
suffering people of Africa to unite in protest.
The MDC UK Chair, Ephraim Tapa, came to the Vigil to let us know that the
party leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, is coming to London. The MDC is arranging
a rally for him on Saturday, 23rd June. June looks very busy - see "For
Your Diary" below for events.
On a lovely summer day, the music was fantastic with Ancilla, Agnes, Doubt,
Dumi and Mercy prominent in leading the singing and dancing with great
drumming from Moses and Arnold.
For this week's Vigil pictures: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/
FOR THE RECORD: 83 signed the register.
FOR YOUR DIARY:
- Monday, 11th June 2007, 7.30 pm. Central London Zimbabwe Forum.
This week the forum holds an action meeting to plan how the Zimbabwean
diaspora can ensure they have a vote. Upstairs at the Theodore Bullfrog pub,
28 John Adam Street, London WC2 (cross the Strand from the Zimbabwe Embassy,
go down a passageway to John Adam Street, turn right and you will see the
- Saturday, 16th June, 11.30 - 5 pm. All African Youth Forum on
Soweto Day / Africa Youth Day. Venue: School of Oriental&African Studies
(SOAS), Vernon Square,, London WC1. Participants: Free-Zim Youth, MDC Youth
Chair (Tsvangirai), MDC Youth Chair( Mutambara), Young Communist League
South Africa(YCLSA), SWAYOCO (Swaziland Youth Congress), Ajamu, Somali Civil
Liberties and Human Rights Organisation, ALISC Network, Nigeria Pan-African
Youth& Student Link, Pan-African Youth Organisation (PAYO), Fraternite
Guineene, Jamaican Youth and African Unity Movement. Refreshments available.
For more information, contact: Free-Zim Youth - email@example.com,
Marceline Mutikori - 07769 850 058, firstname.lastname@example.org,
Bridgette Maphosa - 07784 111 755, Anesu - 07786 320 993, Chipo Chaya -
07904 395 496, Yeukai Taruvinga - 07940 437 496.
- Saturday 23rd June - London rally for MDC President Morgan
Tsvangirai. Venue and time to be advised as soon as possible.
- Saturday, 23rd June, 7 pm - 2 am (no admission after midnight).
ZIMARTS 2007, a charity music event organised by WEZIMBABWE featuring: Paul
Lunga, Thabani, Hohodza, Tha Tha Ensemble, Harare, Henry Olonga and Ryan
Koriya. Venue: University of London Union, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HY (to
find the venue, check: http://www.ulu.co.uk/content/index.php?page=1302).
For information on tickets: www.wezimbabwe.org.
- Tuesday, 26th June, 6 - 7 pm. SERVICE OF SOLIDARITY WITH TORTURE
SURVIVORS OF ZIMBABWE on UN International Day in Support of Victims of
Torture organised by Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum, Amnesty International,
Redress, International Bar Association, International Rehabilitation Council
for Victims of Torture, Zimbabwe Association. Venue: St Paul's Church,
Bedford Street, Covent Garden WC2E 9ED. Main speakers: Chenjerai Hove, John
Makumbe. All welcome to join the service and post-service procession to lay
flowers on the steps of the Zimbabwe Embassy. The service will mirror
similar services in Zimbabwe and South Africa. Between January and March
this year the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum documented 254 cases of
torture in Zimbabwe.
- Saturday, 28th July, 2 - 10 pm. Fourth World Music presents "GET
UP STAND UP". Venue: Union Chapel, Compton Avenue, London N1 2XD. Benefit
festival to help raise funds for charities working with women and children
in Zimbabwe affected by the economic crisis. Performers: Coco Mbassi,
Celloman, Thabani, Anna Mudeka, Claudia Massera, London City Groove, Dudu
Saar, Begotten Sun, DKR, The Wells, Tha Tha Ensemble, DJ Dece, Boogie
Brothers. Tickets: £10.00 from Ticketweb (Tel: 08700 600 100 or book online
at www.ticketweb.co.uk). Nearest station: Highbury and Islington. Bus
routes: 4, 19, 30, 43, 271, 277and 279. For more information, contact:
07914 697 694 or email email@example.com.
The Vigil, outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, 429 Strand, London, takes place
every Saturday from 14.00 to 18.00 to protest against gross violations of
human rights by the current regime in Zimbabwe. The Vigil which started in
October 2002 will continue until internationally-monitored, free and fair
elections are held in Zimbabwe. http://www.zimvigil.co.uk
Bulawayo June 10th 2007
Sometimes I feel sorry for people who do not live in the drier regions of
the world. In a place like Bulawayo we have zero humidity at this time of
the year and it can get pretty chilly at night, with wonderful clear blue
skies and mild temperatures during the day. In weather like this there is
also the temptation to stay indoors after dusk. If you have a fire of real
mopani wood, even more so! It is a mistake.
Last night for example, at about 19.30 hours my wife and I walked home under
a sky that was ablaze with stars. Venus was near setting in the western sky
and what a sight. It was so bright you could mistake it for a light in a
passing aircraft only it flashed and sparkled like a 100-carat space
diamond. Absolutely beautiful and free to all of us who occupy planet earth.
Right overhead was the Milky Way - spiraling across the night sky like a
splash of diamonds. No moon, no clouds, no moisture, just the black African
sky and the diamonds of space.
Sometimes I think of Africa in those same terms - beautiful, exotic but with
a backdrop of darkness that sometimes overwhelms us. I have often pondered
what it would mean to mankind if there were no stars, just black, empty
space going on into infinity. I am sure it would have profound psychological
implications - let alone the philosophical questions it would pose! We would
then be quite justified in asking how did we get here? Who was responsible?
The possibility that there might be life somewhere "out there" is always a
consolation in a universe crowded with millions of planets, suns and stars.
But we do have Venus and a plethora of other stars to keep us company and to
force us out into space in an attempt to find life elsewhere. When he was
President, Ronald Reagan had a programme under which he recognised
outstanding human achievement in the USA. He called those who were
recognised and rewarded under this programme Stars in the night sky of
America. I have always thought this was a great idea.
In any dark situation there are always stars that light up the sky and give
us hope that we are not alone. Stars that illumine their universe in a
unique way and in the process light up our world. Here in Zimbabwe we are no
exception. Last week I attended a small community meeting of 20 or so
individuals who have just taken a lease on 96 hectares surrounding two small
dams known as the "Hillside Dams". There they are intending to build a
restaurant, establish a botanical garden and aloe collection. They are also
going to put in fences and security and create a small game park. All work
carried out by volunteers and all costs met by donation.
In my sons church there is a remarkable woman who has taken it upon herself
to help the children's wards in the local hospital. With over 3 500 beds,
the hospital is a giant medical facility but being State owned and operated
is just about on its knees. The children's wards are freshly painted and
clean and every child gets a toy when they are checked in. Drugs are fully
available and supplied free of charge and nursing staff are assisted. All
wards have television and visitors from the Church pay regular visits to
children in the wards.
Another remarkable women in the same Church runs a massive programme for the
absolute poor and destitute in Harare. She helps thousands in camps at
various rubbish dumps on the periphery of the City, has pastors ministering
to their spiritual needs as well as food and clothing. Whole families are
selected and sent out to a training farm where they are taught farm skills
and then settled on vacant land as small-scale farmers.
Driving into Harare after 400 kilometers of empty farms and abandoned
homesteads you suddenly find yourself looking at a string of three farms
where the fences are repaired, cattle graze the land and superb crops grown
on well-prepared lands. All three have housed their staff well and produce
milk on a large scale for the nearby City. How they have been able to remain
on their farms and keep going is a mystery to me - one day I will stop and
pull in to ask, but I already know that behind these islands of sanity and
prosperity are individuals who have just stuck it out and have shown every
determination not to give in and quit.
Of course there are many who do not contribute, many who in fact like the
dark because it suits their purpose. But those who do struggle against the
odds, who still plant trees and flowers and tend their lawns, they are
heroes in every way, bright stars in the night of our time. The marvel of
this process, is that in becoming stars in our universe, we discover light
always wins and that gives us hope.
It is really tough right now to give people hope and faith in the future
because things look so grim. We now know that Tendai Biti and Welshman Ncube
were actually in South Africa waiting for the Zanu PF representatives to
pitch up for the meeting. They did not arrive and gave no apologies. On
Monday Zanu PF submitted their response to the request that they set out
their basic position. We have now had sight of that and I am told it
resembles the ramblings of a lunatic - I am not surprised, we have long
known this was an asylum with the inmates in charge.
The Zanu document in fact does not deal with any of the issues that are on
the table. They ramble on about "recognition of Mr. Mugabe as President" and
the suspension of "sanctions" as well as the well-known diatribe about the
MDC as a "violent Party". As if it would make one iota of difference to
anything if we did do those things! We do not control the standing of Mr.
Mugabe in international circles - he does. We do not control the imposition
of personal travel and financial restrictions on the 100 or so worst
offenders in terms of human and political rights abuse - those who control
visa regulations and money markets do. I think we have shown quite clearly
who sponsors political violence and intimidation in Zimbabwe - it is Zanu
who holds degrees in violence!
I really do feel sorry for these Zanu PF types - they know now that they are
really up against impossible odds. Their only way of avoiding the dip tank
is to stay outside the holding pens. Once they are in, the only way out is
either over the fence or through the dip. On the other side we wait with
expectation - we have all the ingredients for a national braai and
celebration that will make the record books. I already have picked out a
couple of fat, corrupt, lazy oxen to provide the nyama for my braai - I am
sure everyone else is equally ready.
I am waiting to see just what Mbeki is going to do next. He has no choice
now but to exercise leadership and get this process underway. The deadline
for the SADC leadership is the end of June and this time I am sure we are
going to see that cattle prod in action - all 10 000 volts applied in the
But for all of you who are in my universe and are little spots of light
against the night sky, hang in there, you give hope to all of us and you
make this dark place a place of beauty.
I have just got back from a walk in the Botanic Gardens . Whilst there I
noticed ,firstly ,a soldier with an axe eying up a nice Msasa near the
tarmac road where a number of trees have recently been chopped down.
Later on , in the Australian section adjacent to the Borrowdale Road I saw a
national parks Land Rover and about five uniformed National Parks guys
loading up the Land Rover with freshly chopped up Msasa logs that were still
fresh and moist. Nobody looked concerned with being observed so I assume the
Parks Authorities have sanctioned this activity.
Makes you realize just how bad things are getting when the Botanic DNA
reservoir is being chopped down tree by tree by government types don't you
-- Warm Regards
11 Jun 2007 18:46:28 GMT
HARARE, 11 June 2007 (IRIN) - Jane, 12, was left in the care of a long-time
family friend by her mother when she left for England to work as a maid
seven years ago.
Jane has not seen her mother since, but in that time the child has tried to
commit suicide twice and has been raped eight times by her adopted mother's
She is one of thousands of children left in the care of family or friends by
parents going in search of work in other countries as a consequence of
Zimbabwe's seven year recession, which has created an unemployment rate of
80 percent and an annual inflation rate of more than 3,700 percent - the
highest in the world.
More than a quarter of the population are believed to have left in the past
few years for neighbouring countries like South Africa and Botswana, or
further afield for the United States, England, Europe and Australia.
"Jane's mother preferred me ahead of her own poor parents or sisters because
she felt that since I have a well-paying job and live in an affluent suburb
her child's welfare would be guaranteed. Sadly, that was not to be, because
my former lover took advantage of my trust in him and raped the girl from a
tender age," the family friend, who declined to be named, told IRIN.
"What is even more painful is that I am finding it difficult to inform her
mother because I know, having been granted asylum there, she cannot return
to see her only child," said Jane's caregiver, who works for a local
nongovernmental organisation (NGO) and often travels out of the country.
"On the other hand, Jane cannot join her mother because there is no-one to
process the papers, since the father is denying paternity."
"Obviously, when parents leave their children behind, particularly in these
difficult times where there is need to cushion families against poverty,
that increases the offspring's vulnerability," James Elder, the Zimbabwe
spokesman for the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), told IRIN.
"But the issue of parents trekking to the diaspora [a term used to describe
the large-scale emigration from Zimbabwe] without their children is part of
the bigger problem," Elder said, "where millions of children are vulnerable
because they don't have food, clothing, shelter, or fail to attend school.
Our challenge is to ensure that those things are availed to them."
Betty Makoni, director of Girl Child Network (GCN), a NGO advocating the
protection of girls from abuse, said the "horrific trend" of parents leaving
their children, in some cases newborn babies, to search for employment in
other countries had increased the vulnerability of children to such a degree
that one in every ten cases of reported child abuse concerned a child whose
parents had left the country.
"Thousands of children are now vulnerable because of the economic crisis
that hit the country from 2000, when parents, anxious to make things better,
did not have a choice but to surrender custody of their offspring to all
sorts of people, ranging from old grandparents, sisters and brothers to
untrustworthy friends and abusive spouses," Makoni told IRIN.
A report by the Global Poverty Research Group in 2006, 'Remittances, Poverty
Reduction and the Informalisation of Household Well-being in Zimbabwe',
revealed that 50 percent of migrants to South Africa and Botswana were most
likely to return home once a year, but only 22 percent of those in England
would do so, while 21 percent of Zimbabwean migrants to England had yet to
visit their homeland.
While long absences tended to worsen the children's plight, Makoni said even
short periods away did not guarantee their welfare "because abuse,
especially of a sexual or physical nature, can take place in a matter of
The absence of parents had negative psychological effects on children,
manifested in the loss of concentration at school, particularly among elder
siblings given the responsibility of heading the family.
Makoni said GCN had dealt with many cases in which fathers had sexually
abused their children or failed to adequately fend for them, choosing
instead to squander money remitted by their wives on beer and women, which
also increased the risk that they would contract HIV/AIDS.
The separation of children from their parents was also creating a window of
opportunity for child traffickers, who offered assistance to parents
attempting to bring their children to the country they had settled in.
In one such case, the GCN told IRIN, parents living in England had advised
their daughter, Kirsty, 17, (not her real name), to travel to Malawi and
contact a male citizen who had told the parents he would be able to organise
a Malawian passport for her. Malawian passports are viewed as better travel
documents for England, as the visa requirements are less stringent than for
On arrival in Malawi, with no accommodation and little money, Kirsty was
taken to a brothel and immediately put to work as a sex worker. She was told
that "sleeping with his influential clients" was a precondition for securing
a fraudulent travel document. The man also took the money Kirsty earned.
Abuse of remittances
Money remitted to family members at home by the mass exodus of more than
three million people has become a lynchpin of Zimbabwe's rapidly declining
"Evidence from household surveying in 2005 and 2006 in Harare and Bulawayo
[Zimbabwe's second city] indicates that a network of international migrant
remitters are ameliorating the economic crisis in Zimbabwe by sending
monetary and in-kind transfers to over 50 percent of urban households", said
a research paper authored by Lloyd Sachikonye, of the University of
Zimbabwe, and Sarah Bracking, of Manchester University, presented at the
'Living on Margins' conference earlier this year in Stellenbosch, South
"In a situation of hyperinflation and of parallel exchange rates that are
[far higher] than the official rates, and a very stressed economy,
remittances have become even more crucial" and there are few, "if any,
similar contemporary examples of a country whose quarter of its population
has left in order to fend for its living."
While the majority of parents remit as much money as they can to their
children's caregivers, there are no guarantees the money will be used to the
"The mistake the parents make is to think that sending back money and making
the occasional phone call is all they have to do. Little do they know that
they are introducing the children to a life of immorality and criminality,"
"These children, when they receive the money, go to change it on the black
market, thereby learning the dynamics of illegal transactions at an early
age. In addition, teenage boys, because they have lots of cash, splash it on
prostitutes and lovers old enough to be their mothers," she said.
The official exchange rate for the Zimbabwean dollar is US$1 to Z$250, while
on the parallel market US$1 costs Z$60,000.
In other instances, Makoni said, remittances were received by caregivers,
who diverted the money for their own ends instead of using it on food,
accommodation, clothes and education for the children, who then had to stop
attending school or starve.
From BBC News, 10 June
By Richard Black, Environment correspondent
"It's a statement that's very easy to make, but much more difficult to
The Hague - At the opening news conference for the Convention on
International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) meeting, Willem
Wijnstekers gave more answers on ivory than anything else - in particular,
on the question of whether even a very limited legal ivory trade would
stimulate elephant poaching. Some animal welfare groups believe there is a
link. "Whenever CITES even talks about ivory sales, poaching goes up," Peter
Pueschel of the International Fund for Animal Welfare (Ifaw) had said at a
pre-meeting briefing. The argument is that poachers will spot an opportunity
to introduce illegal ivory into the market if a network for legal trade is
operating. Others, including CITES secretary-general Mr Wijnstekers, are not
so sure. "The data we have from Etis [the Elephant Trade Information System]
is that there is no correlation between decisions made at CITES and the
illegal trade," he said.
Two things had sparked this debate. Just before the meeting opened, a CITES
technical committee had decided that a one-off sale of stockpiled ivory from
Botswana, Namibia and South Africa, approved in principle in 2002, could go
ahead. And the same three countries plus Zimbabwe are asking for annual
ivory export quotas, opposed by another African bloc under the informal
leadership of Kenya and Mali. Getting some firm answers would seem to be a
key requirement for the conservation community. Etis is a database of all
seizures of illegal ivory made by customs officers, police or anyone else in
authority globally. It documents where, when, how much, who, and as much
information as possible about the route involved, including countries of
origin, transit and destination. CITES formally established Etis under the
management of Traffic, the wildlife monitoring network run by the World
Conservation Union (IUCN) and WWF, in 1997, eight years after Traffic began
gathering data independently.
"We have something like 12,378 seizure records in the database now," says
Tom Milliken, the organisation's director for eastern and southern Africa.
Seizures can only give an indication of the amount of poaching, because
authorities vary widely in their competence and inclination to intercept
valuable shipments. Nevertheless, he maintains: "It captures the general
trend, and if we see that the trend is going down for example, it really is
going down." A graph shows no apparent relationship between CITES meetings
where ivory sales have regularly been discussed, and seizures. Even the only
previous one-off sale, approved in 1997 and enacted in the years following,
made no visible bump on the graph. "After the one-off sale, we had six years
of a decreasing trend," says Mr Milliken, "so the data does not support the
But maybe Etis is the wrong database. Ideally, perhaps, you would use
records of poaching, not of seizures. That was the case which the Kenyan
government made to CITES in 2002. "There have been numerous reports by
wildlife officials suggesting a rise in elephant poaching since CoP10 (the
CITES meeting where the one-off sale was approved)," its submission read.
"Though many of these are of necessity anecdotal, they are nonetheless of
concern not only because of the numbers involved, but because they indicate
apparent resurgence of poaching in areas that had been relatively quiet." It
is an argument that the Kenyan authorities stand by today. "Any legal trade
is an incentive to the illegal trade," says Patrick Omondi, head of species
conservation and management at Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS). "That's why we
are pushing for a 20-year total moratorium on any legal sales."
The problem for Kenya's case lies in that word "anecdotal", which is to
scientists what a rabbit is to a hungry dog. Anecdotal evidence presents no
problems for NGOs such as Ifaw whose positions are based largely on ethical
conviction. It is a problem for CITES itself, and for organisations such WWF
and Traffic, which all recognise that animal trade can bring money to needy
communities, even generate funds for conservation, and demand hard evidence
that trade is doing damage before they will back a ban. In an attempt to get
some firm numbers, CITES has set up another monitoring system called Mike -
Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants - which does exactly what its
name suggests. It is gathering data from more than 70 sources in Africa and
Asia, and aims to provide a comprehensive picture of how many elephants are
being poached, and where and when.
"There wasn't really any hard data before the year 2000, and that's why Mike
was set up," says Mike's data analyst Julian Blanc. "We're really
concentrating on getting baseline data, and there haven't been any sales
since Mike began. We're pretty confident that we will be able to pick up any
upsurges in poaching." But it will take Mike six years to build up an
accurate picture. In the meantime, CITES has some decisions to make. Ifaw
urges a precautionary approach. "They (Etis) don't believe poaching is
caused by the legal trade - we say it is," says the organisation's
international advisor for Africa, Michael Wamithi, a former KWS officer. "In
1997, we did not change our law enforcement procedures at all, so there
could be no other reason for the upsurge we saw in poaching other than
poachers were anticipating that the legal trade would be permitted."
One of the ironies, Tom Milliken points out, is that many of the countries
backing the 20-year moratorium bid have an appalling record on making
illegal ivory seizures. "Mali, for example, has reported one seizure in 18
years, but has been implicated in a further 42 [incidents of illegal
trading]," he says. And the welfare groups, he says, may not be helping. "I
think a lot of people act as they do because it's a vehicle for
fundraising," he says, "and if you can stimulate a sense of urgency, you'll
get people motivated and donating money. Some groups with lots of money have
not contributed anything to closing down unregulated markets in Africa." It
is an argument which is likely to run through the second week of this CITES
conference, as southern African states with abundant elephant populations,
generally good records on poaching and a small but well-regulated usage of
elephant products, seek further liberalisation, while others seek to shut
the whole trade down.
June 10 2007 at 03:20PM
By Peta Thornycroft
Zimbabwe's split Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has been unable
to unite its two factions in an election coalition. This will probably hand
2008's presidential and parliamentary polls to President Robert Mugabe on a
Contrary to what is being put out by the leader of one MDC faction,
Morgan Tsvangirai, negotiations for a co-operation agreement between his
faction and that of Arthur Mutambara collapsed at the fourth attempt in
South Africa in May.
The reason is that the two sides cannot decide how many election
candidates each will put forward.
Unless founding party president Tsvangirai changes his mind, each
faction will contest the poll as individual parties, splitting the
opposition vote and ensuring Mugabe and Zanu-PF cruise to easy victories
without having to cheat much or even beat up too many people.
Tsvangirai has publicly claimed, most recently in an interview on the
news channel, CNBC last week, that the fight between the two factions was
"water under the bridge." But that is not true, according to informed
Tsvangirai's faction is determined that not only should he be the
candidate for the presidential poll - which the Mutambara faction has
readily agreed to - but that there should be a complicated, logistically and
financially impossible round of national primary elections to choose
candidates for the parliamentary polls.
Analysts in the Mutambara faction calculate it would take until the
eve of the nomination court for the elections, expected next March, to
select candidates according to Tsvangirai's formula.
Insiders say the process would intensify rivalry within the MDC.
"There will be jockeying and fighting until the moment we get to the
nomination courts, and so there will be no campaigning for votes for the
opposition in rural areas where we have little support," said one insider.
"It would allow anyone claiming to be an MDC member, who might also be
working for the Central Intelligence Organisation, to participate in this
complicated process they have designed. There is no time left for this. We
have effectively only five months and we are full on into elections."
A strategic part of the problem is that Tsvangirai appears to have
virtually no support in Zimbabwe's second city Bula-wayo and Mutambara has
little support in Harare.
So each faction would have to give way if a coalition was to have a
Both factions have almost equal numbers of MPs in parliament, while
the Mutambara faction last year became the first opposition party to wrest
control of a rural council district from Zanu-PF in a rural council
So the Mutambara faction proposed a more or less equal division of
constituencies between the two factions.
Tsvangirai's secretary- general Tendai Biti agreed to that formula in
April, but his decision was overturned by his national council when he
The MDC split after several years of tensions, which increased after a
group of thugs, loyal to Tsvangirai, beat up MDC members they believed
supported Welshman Ncube, who is an ally of Mutambara. - Tribune Foreign
This article was originally published on page 14 of Tribune on June
June 10 2007 at 03:26PM
In spite of President Thabo Mbeki's continuing mediation efforts,
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe has gazetted major constitutional
amendments aimed at securing his party an easy victory in 2008's general
The move has infuriated the main opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC), which has been banking on Mbeki's mediation to achieve a level
playing field for the elections.
"By going ahead to unilaterally implement changes on issues subject to
the mediation effort, Mugabe has not only shown his disdain for President
Mbeki, he has in fact denigrated SADC as a whole," said Nelson Chamisa, the
spokesperson for the main faction of the MDC led by Morgan Tsvangirai.
Leaders of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) mandated
Mbeki to mediate in Zimbabwe and ensure conditions for free and fair
elections at an extraordinary summit called in March.
The Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment Bill (No 18), gazetted late on
Friday, seeks to increase the size of parliament from 150 members to 210. It
is believed that the expansion would be achieved by splitting rural
constituencies, Mugabe's strong support bases, to ensure that he will
achieve an easy victory.
The recently introduced senate will have its seats increased from 60
to 84, of which about 30 will be Mugabe's own direct or indirect appointees.
This means that parliamentary elections due to have been held in 2010 will
be brought forward to coincide with presidential elections in 2008.
The decision to cut the life of the current parliament by two years
came after Mugabe faced serious internal resistance from his own party on a
plan to extend his term.
Another major change is the abolition of the requirement to hold a
presidential election within 90 days of the death of an incumbent president
or of his leaving office for any other reason. The new amendment bill will
empower parliament and the senate to elect a new president at a single
seating until the next election is held.
Zanu-PF insiders say this amendment is intended to facilitate any
designs by Mugabe to appoint a successor without facing a popular
presidential election if he decides to leave office.
Apparently, Mugabe has been trying to mollify internal dissidents
opposed to his decision to stand as Zanu-PF's candidate in 2008 by promising
them that he would step down once he has won next year's elections.
Included in the amendment bill are proposals to create a human rights
commission and the renaming of the office of the ombudsman to that of public
Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, the minister of information and publicity, said the
gazetted amendment bill had no relation to Mbeki's mediation efforts. He
told state media that Mbeki's initiative should not cloud Zimbabwe's state
But the clearest indication that Mbeki's mediation efforts could be
stillborn came from Didymus Mutasa, the minister of state security, who said
the Zimbabwean government had accepted the SADC resolution mandating Mbeki
as mediator simply because it did not want to be discourteous to African
Mbeki's mediation effort ran into serious problems when Mugabe's
representatives, Patrick Chinamasa and Nicholas Goche, the ministers of
justice and labour respectively, did not turn up for the Mbeki-brokered
direct talks with MDC representatives in Pretoria last week.
Frantic last-minute efforts by South African officials, led by Sydney
Mufamadi, South Africa's minister of local government, to get Chinamasa and
Goche to attend last week's planned direct talks failed.
Welshman Ncube and Tendai Biti, the two representatives of the divided
MDC, ended up leaving Pretoria empty-handed.
Zimbabwean civic society and the MDC want any constitutional agenda to
be determined through an all-inclusive process instead of being dictated to
That now seems most unlikely and as respected political scientist John
Makumbe has already said, "only the greatest optimist believes Mbeki's
softly, softly intervention will yield results".
Chamisa said what was now needed was a robust response from the SADC
to ensure that Mugabe's excesses are curbed. - Foreign Service
This article was originally published on page 3 of Sunday Independent
on June 10, 2007
10th Jun 2007 18:31 GMT
By Thabang Mathebula
BULAWAYO - Scores of Bulawayo residents in the western suburbs
have taken advantage of the plight of neighbours who have been struck off
the electricity grid for failure to pay bills by connecting those to their
own supply for a daily fee.
Thousands of households have been disconnected since the Zimbabwe
Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) resorted to disconnecting everyone from
those who have defaulted by one day to avoid the accumulation of debts.
The power authority's workers can be seen every day disconnecting or
reconnecting defaulting customers. However, many residents have resorted to
reconnecting themselves through direct connections to the bulk electricity
supply lines despite the high risk of electrocution and the Z$15 million
dollar fine ZESA imposes for illegal reconnections.
"Everyone has become an expert at illegal reconnections. Little children
also know how to do it. It has become necessary because everyone realizes
that while they cannot pay the bills they owe to ZESA, there are every day
uses of electricity which we cannot miss. Firewood has become scarce and
expensive. It's a gamble, some are lucky but many others are not," said one
resident in Pumula North.
Although many people have been caught in the act and slapped with hefty
fines for tampering with ZESA equipment, illegal reconnections were
happening daily, often as soon as the power utility's inspectors leave.
"Illegal reconnections will never stop, especially now with the onset of
winter. That's how we hit back at ZESA for all the disservice it does the
country. Most of the households that reconnect themselves belong to poor and
old people who can neither raise the fine nor face the imprisonment option.
That's how safe most of them are," said a resident in New Magwegwe.
The power authority's tough stance on defaulters has also given rise to a
black market for electricity as connected neighbours resort to selling power
to anyone willing to pay a fee.
"It started off with sympathetic neighbours connecting a mains cable and
extending it to a disconnected neighbour, but people soon realized the
commercial value. Now every third house is a mini-power station catering for
the needs of disconnected neighbours at Z$20 000 per day. Some people who
were previously known for not paying their bills are now the first to pay in
order to ensure that they gain more from selling power to the disconnected,"
said a resident in Njube, one of the city's oldest surbubs.
In response, ZESA has sent out hundreds of inspectors to check on households
and ensure compliance with its regulations. In the process, hundreds of
residents have been slapped with fines ranging between Z$5 million and Z$15
A ZESA inspector who spoke to zimjournalists.com said consumers had resorted
to destroying the power authority's property in order to reconnect
"We tie special seals to disconnected power boxes to ensure that
they cannot be opened, but the people just break them and reconnect. There
are many cases of illegal power sales and we are dealing with too many
repeat offenders in that category. Some households are now known as power
centres in the neighbourhood. It is getting worse, everyone says they need
power but they don't have the money to pay for it," he said.
Efforts to get a comment from ZESA were fruitless. The current load shedding
regime has forced residents in all urban centres to resort to the use of
firewood, which has since pushed up wood prices to Z$20 per log.
The cold spell which descended on the country last week has also increased
demand for firewood, leading to a prevailing general scarcity of wood energy
across the city.
10th Jun 2007 17:50 GMT
By a Correspondent
JOHANNESBURG - President Robert Mugabe's government should learn to agree
with facts, Zimbabwean journalists said last week following the Harare's
dismissal of resolutions by the World Association of Newspapers (WAN)
condemning press violations calling for an end to the arrests and detentions
WAN is a Paris-based organization represents almost 18 000 publications
across five continents.
George Charamba, the permanent secretary in the ministry of information and
Mugabe's spokesperson described WAN as a bogus organization giving a bogus
"It is only a political arrogant individual who can discharge the recent
motion made by WAN bearing in mind the media mayhem and aggravation on
journalists by the government in Zimbabwe and Zanu-PF officials are
well-known for that.
"Currently there is no media freedom space in the country the government is
politicising every move made by independent journalists and media
organizations representing the rights of journalists.
"Independent journalists are being arrested doing their work. Tsvangirayi
Mukwazhi was arrested for covering the save Zimbabwe campaign in Harare in
March and many independent newspapers have been closed while those operating
face possible closure and its journalists are under very day harassment from
police and members of the central intelligence organization," former The
Daily News reporter Ntandoyenkosi Ncube said.
Mukwazhi, a local photojournalist and his colleague were arrested and
severely assaulted by police covering a save Zimbabwe campaign in Harare on
The WAN board on Monday accused the Zimbabwean government of violating
journalists' rights by detaining them and stripping them of licenses
required to work.
The board called on Mugabe to put an end to the arbitrary and violent arrest
and detention of journalists, and to firmly commit to uphold international
standards of freedom of expression and freedom of the press
WAN said it was also aghast by the brutal murder of Edward Chikomba, a
former cameraman of the state-owned Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings who was
abducted and murdered by suspected state agents last March.
Chikomba, who had left the state broadcaster and was a freelancer for
international news networks, was accused of leaking to the international
media video footage of a bruised main opposition Movement for Democratic
Change party leader Morgan Tsvangirai following his brutal torture by state
agents while in police custody.
Tafataona Mahoso, the chairperson of the state-appointed Media and
Information Commission (MIC) in charge of licensing journalists, suggested
the cameraman was in fact a spy.
He said the former state journalist, who is reported to have filmed footage
of opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai after his torture by police, did not
appear on the MICs list of accredited journalists.
The MIC, which Mahoso has chaired since its inception in 2002, has forced
four independent newspapers to close in the past five years, including the
best-selling Daily News.
The commission has also consistently denied press cards to independent and
In its statement on Tuesday WAN accused the MIC of working with Mugabe's
government to suppress press freedom and to asphyxiate the very last private
media in Zimbabwe.
From Bulawayo Morning Mirror
BULAWAYO CITY COUNCIL YESTERDAY DE=COMMISSIONED THE SECOND OF THE CITY'S
DAMS - UMZIMNGWANE DAM. THIS WILL SEE THE INTRODUCTION OF EIGHT HOUR WATER
CUTS IN RESIDENTIAL AREAS, EASTERN AND SOUTHERN SUBURBS WILL GO WITHOUT
WATER FOR EIGHT HOURS ON SCHEDULED DAYS, WHILE WESTERN SUBURBS WILL GO
WITHOUT WATER FOR UP TO FOUR HOURS DAILY.
LOWER NCEMA IS EXPECTED TO BE DE-COMMISSIONED IN AUGUST AND INYANKUNI IN
OCTOBER. INZISA IS EXPECTED TO PROVIDE WATER UNTIL THE NEXT RAINY SEASON,
THE CAPACITY IS CERTAINLY NOT ENOUGH TO SERVE THE NEEDS OF THE CITY.
A WATER SHEDDING SCHEDULE HAS BEEN PROVIDED BY THE CITY COUNCIL...... IN
SUBURBS, BURNSIDE, HILLSIDE, ASCOT, BRADFIELD, FAMONA, GREENHILLS,
MANNINGDALE, RIVERSIDE, LOCHVIEW, SELBORNE PARK, MONTROSE, MORNINGSIDE,
WATERFORD, MALINDELA, WOODLANDS, MATSHEUMHLOPE, FORTUNES GATE, WILL HAVE
NO WATER ON MONDAYS, WEDNESDAYS, AND FRIDAYS FROM 7.30 A.M. TO 3.30 P.M.