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Tsvangirai’s visit boosts China ties

Sunday, 17 June 2012 13:50


The visit to China recently by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has
strengthened political relationships between Zimbabwe and China. This was
said by outgoing Chinese ambassador to Zimbabwe Xin Shunkang at his farewell
party in the capital on Friday. The Chinese government, Xin said, extended
his term in Zimbabwe to enable him to complete various tasks including
organising the trip to the Far Eastern country by Prime Minister Morgan

Xin said the extension of his term by 30 days allowed him to not only to
organise an official visit to China by Tsvangirai but to also receive seven
delegations from his country. He said the visit by Tsvangirai has
strengthened the political relations between Zimbabwe and China.

China is traditionally close to Zanu PF which has strong ties with the
Chinese Communist Party dating back to the days of the liberation struggle.

However Tsvangirai’s recent visit to China is being widely viewed as an
attempt by the Far Eastern country to reach out to the MDC-T, the party with
a strong chance to dislodge Zanu PF’s 32-year stranglehold on power.

“When I came here in 2009, the inclusive government was just established.
When I am leaving this weekend (today), the Zimbabwean society is stable,
the economy is on the fast development track,” he said.

There were claims that the Prime Minister was invited by the Beijing
Municipality to participate at the China Beijing International Trade Fair
for Trade in Services.

State media claimed that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China did not
initiate any meetings apart from seconding the Chinese Ambassador designate
to Zimbabwe and a desk officer to the delegation. It was also claimed that
ministry only played a low profile and left the visit to be coordinated by
the Beijing Municipality and the Ministry of Commerce.

However, on arrival in China, PM Tsvangirai was received by Assistant
Minister of Commerce, Madam Qiu Hong and Foreign Ministry officials and
Chinese ambassador designate to Zimbabwe, Lin Lin, signifying the importance
attached to his visit.

Tsvangirai also held separate meetings with the China Railway International
Co Ltd, China Dalian International Economic and Technical Cooperation Group
Co Ltd, Sinohydro, the China Machinery Engineering Corporation and the China
Export and Credit Insurance Corporation.

The Prime Minister also delivered a speech during the Summit of the Forum on
Sino Africa Trade in Services and Investment.

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Mugabe prepares for hiding?

Sunday, 17 June 2012 13:44

from Saturday Star and Our Staff

A close associate of President Robert Mugabe, Robert Mhlanga, has been
ordered to stop work on his R200 million mansion next to the plush Zimbali
golfing estate near Ballito.
According to a South African newspaper, Saturday Star, Mhlanga was building
a luxury mansion with an underground bunker in Ballito, KwaZulu Natal and
was recently ordered to stop work on the property. Mhlanga is Mugabe’s
former personal helicopter pilot and is mentioned in two Global Witness 2010
and 2012 reports on diamonds in Zimbabwe.

Rumoured to be a bolthole for Mugabe, court papers have revealed the R200
million compound is being built by Mhlanga, through his company Formate
(Pty) Ltd.

KwaDukuza Municipality obtained a high court order to stop construction and
occupation of the mansion, next to the plush Zimbali estate, because of the
potential impact on neighbouring properties and the environment.

The interim order was granted on May 16 in the Durban High Court.

But Mugabe’s spokesperson, George Charamba, yesterday dismissed the article.

“There is no substance to that. The only relationship between them (Mugabe
and Mhlanga) is the name Robert and that they are Zimbabweans,” he said.

The heavily guarded development comprises two man-made lakes, a renovated
existing mansion, complete with bullet proof windows and an underground

Municipal building control officer, Njabulo Ngwane, said when the
municipality became aware of the development in April, he had gone to
inspect the site.

“The properties were fenced and guarded but we were denied access.”

Mhlanga was a prosecution witness in the 2003 treason trial of Morgan
Tsvangarai and is reported to have been chief of staff operations at the
National Command Centre, which controlled the announcement of voting results
in the disputed 2002 presidential election, according to Global Witness.

Efforts to get a comment from Mhlanga were fruitless yesterday.

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Pursue your dreams, youths told

Sunday, 17 June 2012 13:43

The 20th session of the Child Parliament was inaugurated in Harare
yesterday, with President Robert Mugabe urging the new junior legislators to
follow their dreams. The inauguration of the new parliament coincided with
the Day of the African Child, which marks the day South African students
were killed by the apartheid regime in 1976, after they protested the
teaching of Afrikaans in schools.

It was a festive occasion, with scores of children gathering at the Harare
International Conference Centre, as early as 8am, and were entertained by
various performers and artists including Heritage School, journalist Nqobile
Malinga, Jah Bless and Jah Prayzah.

Formal proceedings started with the arrival of Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan
Tsvangirai and his deputy Arthur Mutambara, but they did not sit on the high
table, as they are accustomed to, as this was reserved for the child

Tendai Rusere was proclaimed the child president and led a procession by
junior service chiefs.

A mock session of a parliamentary debate was held, and not before long
Tsvangirai and Mutambara were captivated by the arguments and they joined
in, to the amusement of the master of ceremony, who pointed out that there
had been a breach of protocol.

The debate was centred on the theme of protecting, promoting and respecting
the rights of children with disabilities.

The lively debate ended abruptly after the breach of protocol.

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GPA negotiators still hunting for common ground

Sunday, 17 June 2012 13:42

SOUTH AFRICAN President Jacob Zuma’s visit to Zimbabwe, as part of his
facilitation efforts on an impasse in the inclusive government, has been
drawn further back as the negotiators seek to find common ground. The
negotiators of the three parties are meeting today in Nyanga to discuss
what they hoped to table before the South African president.

“Negotiators will be working this weekend, and the facilitation team will
return on 25 or 26 June,” Lindiwe Zulu, Zuma’s special adviser on
international affairs, said.

“When they return to South Africa, they will meet Zuma, depending on the
feedback, then we would have a date when the president (Zuma) will come
there (Zimbabwe).”
Zulu said Zuma would only come to Zimbabwe when there was progress.

The negotiators’ meeting will also zero in on the constitution-making
process, with the hope of giving it an impetus to Copac to conclude its

However, the Sadc troika meeting had suggested that the South African leader
immediately visit Zimbabwe to get the faltering negotiations moving again.
It had been indicated that the negotiators felt they were failing to agree
among themselves and Zuma had been tasked with coming up with a structure
that would ensure that negotiations were back on track.

“We told them that we were failing to agree on anything on our own and the
facilitator should come and kickstart the process for us,” a source who
attended the Luanda meeting said.

As if to indicate the lack of pace in the implementation of the GPA, a Sadc
team that is supposed to join the Joint Monitoring and Implementation
Committee (Jomic), is yet to start work in the country, as they have not
been officially told to start.

The Sadc team was in the country together with the South African mediation
team, but has since returned to their respective countries, as they await an
official invite.

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PM hits out at Zanu PF stalwarts

Sunday, 17 June 2012 13:41

PRIME MINISTER Morgan Tsvangirai has hit out at Zanu PF politicians who he
accuses of using their ill-gotten wealth to fund political violence. “We
have also seen the culture of using the youth in political violence. Some
are using their wealth, most of it ill gotten, to negatively influence young
people into committing heinous crimes,” Tsvangirai said, in an address to
mark the Day of the African Child.

“This must stop if we want our society to live peacefully and to fully
promote children’s rights.”

In a thinly veiled attack on Zanu PF, which is allegedly sponsoring terror
gang, Chipangano, Tsvangirai said many youths had lost “life and limb” after
engaging in political violence at a time when they should be preaching

Chipangano has been accused of unleashing a reign of terror, particularly in
Mbare, where people who do not support Zanu PF are routinely thrown out of
their vending stalls, while some are assaulted.

Tsvangirai continued on the offensive, but again without mentioning anyone
specific, saying some parties were dislodging children from schools for
their own political end, much to the detriment of the youth.

“Another disturbing trend is the abuse of children for political mileage. We
have often seen politicians using school premises for meetings, thereby
dislodging pupils from their classrooms,” he continued.

The prime minister said a number of children had also lost their parents
during the liberation struggle and violent skirmishes after independence.
“This calls for a change in attitude especially among politicians. We must
foster a culture of tolerance that allows people to be free to choose which
football team or political party to support,” he said.

However, in a prepared speech which was made available to the media after
the event, Tsvangirai had pointed out the effects of the Gukurahundi
massacres of the 1980s and the 2008 political violence.

Many believe Tsvangirai backed down from saying that in respect of President
Robert Mugabe, who was the guest of honour at the function, which also saw
the inauguration of the 20th child parliament.

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Motion to probe RBZ dealings still alive

Sunday, 17 June 2012 13:39

A Zanu PF legislator has vowed to defy a party directive barring him from
raising a motion in parliament to investigate the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe
(RBZ). Paddy Zhanda, who is MP for Goromonzi North, said the matter was on
the parliamentary order paper and he will go ahead with the motion.

This is despite reports that the party had whipped its legislators from
bringing motions without approval of the Zanu PF caucus.

“The motion is still on the order paper and the only person who can remove
it is me,” Zhanda said. The motion is likely to cause friction within the
party as some members think it will hurt Zanu PF in elections which the
party insists should be held this year.

Sources revealed that after the motion was moved on June 5, Zanu PF
parliamentarians met at the party headquarters in Harare, where they agreed
that the motion could damage the party.

“It was raised that Zanu PF was calling for elections and the ramifications
Zhanda’s motion would sink the party at the crucial time when we are calling
for elections,” a party insider said.

The source said chief among the concerns was that the central bank literally
ran and funded Zanu PF’s activities during the 2008 election.

“It funded the Zanu PF election campaign by buying vehicles for the 2008
election campaign, the bank literally operated as a branch of Zanu PF,” the
source said. “The farm mechanisation programme was also funded by the
central bank and none of that money was ever paid back. Their investigations
into the RBZ will thus sink Zanu PF deep in the mud.”

Another insider revealed how the party’s parliamentarians were uneasy and
feared RBZ governor, Gideon Gono’s response on the matter.

He said there was a deep-seated feeling that Gono had abandoned the party
and he was on the receiving end of many attacks from within Zanu PF.

“Out of frustration, Gono might say a lot of things that will expose a
number of senior Zanu PF officials,” the insider continued.

Some within the party, the source said, felt that Zhanda was abusing his
privilege as a member of the house of assembly to settle personal scores
with the central bank governor.

“It is wrong that Zhanda takes his personal tiff with Gono to parliament at
the expense of the image of the party,” the insider said.

There is no love lost between Gono and Zhanda, who have been involved in a
protracted personal dispute amid allegations of extortion by the latter.

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Bulawayo Agenda organises peace concert for Lupane

Sunday, 17 June 2012 13:36

BULAWAYO — A peace prayer musical concert has been set for rural Lupane in
Matabeleland North province next week to warn villagers against being used
by political parties to lead violence against rival party supporters,
especially during elections. The concert will be held in Gomoza, an area
that was last year described by civic groups and the MDC formations as
hostile due to harassments, beatings and arrests of their supporters.

Organised by a local civic group, Bulawayo Agenda, the concert aims to seek
God’s intervention ahead of a referendum and elections scheduled for this
year or in 2013.

All political parties, churches and the Joint Monitoring and Implementation
Committee (Jomic) are expected to attend the concert.

Bulawayo Agenda executive director Thabani Nyoni said the concert was a
peace building initiative among villagers and political parties after
noticing that the organ on national healing and reconciliation had failed to
embark on sustainable peace programmes.

“We are targeting mainly the youth who are usually used by political parties
to lead violent activities against their opponents,” said Nyoni. “We are
taking this concert to Gomoza in Lupane out of realisation that most peace
building initiatives, meetings or campaigns were held in towns instead of
rural communities that continue to bear the brunt of political violence.”

Nyoni said the prayers were a follow-up to the Peace Indaba that was held
last year in Harare by the Global Political Agreement (GPA) principals,
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, President Robert Mugabe and Welshman

Bulawayo churches recently held a similar peace prayer meeting early last
month that was graced by South African gospel artists.

But Zanu PF snubbed the event, saying it’s a campaign platform for the MDC
formations raising concerns about its sincerity about its calls for its
supporters to shun violence.

The Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) and the Zimbabwe Elections Support Network
(ZESN) recently said political tolerance was still very low in the country.

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Ex-councillor wants Chombo arrested

Sunday, 17 June 2012 13:35

FORMER Harare City councillor, Warship Dumba, wants Local Government, Rural
and Urban Development minister, Ignatious Chombo arrested on charges of
criminal abuse of office. Dumba last Thursday wrote to the Zimbabwe
Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) inquiring why the anti-graft body had not
acted on a report he filed in March, seeking the investigation of Chombo for
allegedly victimising him for leading a special investigations committee
which implicated the minister in alleged corrupt land deals.

The former councillor said he submitted a report and documentary evidence
allegedly connecting Chombo’s actions that resulted in the minister
suspending and eventually firing him from council.

“With this letter, I have now added a copy of the minutes with the motion
that I moved on the 16th of December 2010, which I believe made the minister
react the way he did,” wrote Dumba to the Zacc.

“But, his reaction was both irrational and illegal. By reference of this
letter, I therefore hereby write to register my complainant about the way
you have handled my case.”

Dumba said he was fired by Chombo with no complaint against him and without
any tangible evidence linking him to an offence, after the courts had
refused to prosecute him.

“I uphold that minister Chombo has a case to answer and justice must be seen
to be exercised in order that innocent civilians like me are protected
against the excesses of the executive,” he said.

Zacc received a comprehensive dossier produced by an ad hoc Harare City
Council land audit committee, which fingered Chombo in alleged corrupt land
deals, mostly during the tenure of the commissions he has appointed to run
the affairs of the city.

The committee made a report to the police two years ago, but it was the City
Fathers themselves who were instead arrested on allegations of criminally
defaming Chombo and businessman, Phillip Chiyangwa.

Although Zacc chairperson, Denford Chirindo could not be reached for comment
yesterday, recently he confirmed to The Standard that his commission
received the comprehensive report and was “responding accordingly”.

Chombo also could not be reached for comment.

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War veterans must shun Zanu PF abuse: Magwizi

Sunday, 17 June 2012 13:33

WAR veterans must not be used by Zanu PF to further the party’s political
ambitions, the Zimbabwe People’s Revolutionary Army (Zipra) Veterans Trust
chairman, Buster Magwizi, said last week. Magwizi was responding to the
former national secretary for projects of Zimbabwe Liberation War Veteran
Association (ZLWVA), Andrew Ndlovu’s call for unity of all war veterans
associations to form a coordinating committee which would look into the
welfare of former freedom fighters.

“War veterans are vulnerable to political abuse,” said Magwizi.

“What Ndlovu is saying is good but must not be politically influenced. I
told him it is good but we must not be aligned to any political party.”

For a long time, war veterans have been used to campaign for President
Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF during election time.

‘War vets’ welfare still pathetic’

Magwizi said the welfare of war veterans had not improved despite their
immense contribution to the country’s liberation.

“It is true that the war veterans are no longer catered for properly by the
national government,” said Magwizi.

“It is even worse with those who did not join the national army. War
veterans’ welfare is currently hanging and needs to be revisited.”

In 1999, war veterans, led by Chenjerai Hunzvi, received Z$50 000 gratuities
and monthly pensions from government.

Ndlovu said most of the promises made by the government to the war veterans
during Hunzvi’s executive were not met.

Among the associations, are the ZLWVA, led by Jabulani Sibanda, Zimbabwe War
Veterans Trust (ZWVT), Zipra Veteran Trust and the Liberators Platform.

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Parties in deadlock ahead of Copac negotiations

Sunday, 17 June 2012 13:32

THE management committee of the Constitutional Select Committee (Copac)
meets in Nyanga today amid indications of a widening rift among the
negotiating parties dashing hopes for an early finalisation of the country’s
new supreme law. This also diminishes chances of holding elections this year
or early in 2013 as the recent Sadc summit in Angola ordered that no polls
would be held without constitutional reforms to enable a level electoral
playing field.

Sources who spoke to The Standard last week said Zanu PF would not
compromise on its new demands in Nyanga because the former ruling party
wants elections under the old constitution, which favours President Robert

“Zanu PF’s position is not to compromise on most of the sticky issues so
that they derail or at least delay the whole constitution-making process,”
said one source. “They will haggle and haggle during the meeting but in the
end nothing substantive will come out of it.”

The source said although there were legal issues that needed to be
addressed, most of the sticky issues were political and centred on power and

MDC-T spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora said some of the contentious issues
included demands by Zanu PF that soldiers must be allowed to participate in
politics as well as attempts to give the President power to declare war
without approval from Parliament.

Zanu PF also wants the President to have powers to unilaterally appoint the
Chief Justice and judges of the Constitutional Court, a move which is being
resisted by the two MDC formations.

The MDC formations are arguing that to avoid outrageous appointments of key
state officials, they must be subject to the approval of parliament, as the
current draft constitutions states.

The former ruling party also wants removed the limit to the number of
ministers the President can appoint. In the current draft constitution, the
president can appoint 25 ministers and 10 deputy ministers.

Mwonzora said Zanu PF was against devolution although all institutional
submissions to Copac and the 10 provinces said they wanted that system of
governance. Zanu PF has already declared that the system would not be
allowed, describing it as divisive.

“These new demands have no relationship whatsoever with what the people of
Zimbabwe said they wanted,” said Mwonzora. “It is doubtful whether these
demands are being made in good faith or whether they are being made for
purposes of delaying the constitution-making process.”

Efforts to get a comment from Zanu PF negotiator and Minister of Justice,
Patrick Chinamasa were fruitless yesterday.

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Minerals act posing accountability problems: Dhliwayo

Sunday, 17 June 2012 13:26

ZANU PF “paranoia” with sanctions should not be used to mask the looting of
minerals, particularly diamonds from Marange, civil society organisations
and analysts have said. Mines and Mining Development ministers, Obert Mpofu
last week shocked participants attending a Centre for Public Accountability
conference in Harare, when he said as long as Western sanctions on Zimbabwe
remain in force, a full disclosure of the goings on in Marange would never

Finance minister Tendai Biti, recently accused a small coterie of powerful
Zimbabweans of looting diamonds from Marange, enabling them to splash
millions of dollars on private jets and other assets.

Biti also disclosed that Chinese firm, Anjin, a joint venture with the army,
had not submitted any revenue to the treasury despite the company being the
largest mining entity in Chiadzwa.

Civil society organisations which are advocating for transparency in the
mining and selling of Marange diamonds under the “Publish What You Pay”
campaign, said as long as the current secrecy in the sector remained, the
country would not meaningfully benefit from the resource.

Political analyst and Sapes Trust executive director, Dr Ibbo Mandaza, said
there was no doubt the country’s minerals, particularly diamonds and gold,
were being looted but the culprits remained untouched.

He claimed that he had it on good authority that two weeks ago, a plane
loaded with diamonds worth US$4 billion left Marange for an undisclosed
destination, warning that lack of accountability and transparency had become
a threat to democracy.

“Those benefiting may want to continue indefinitely and are prepared to go
to war to resist transparency and accountability,” said Mandaza.

“It is anyone’s guess, what may happen if securocrats are stopped from
exploiting resources, including diamonds.”

Mandaza said in the late 1990’s and before the discovery of diamonds and
platinum, the minerals sector used to contribute US$3,8 billion annually,
but by 2009, the figure had gone down to US$1,5 billion.

He said if transparency was restored, Zimbabwe could earn between US$9 to
$12 billion annually from its minerals alone, enabling the country to pay
off its huge external debt in two years.

Minerals act posing accountability problems: Dhliwayo

Zimbabwe Environmental Lawyers Association (Zela) executive director, Mutuso
Dhliwayo, blamed the archaic and colonial Mines and Mineral Act for the
accountability challenges facing the sector.

“Much (revenue) is coming in, but how is this being used?” he asked. “Is
using diamond revenue to build a military academy a priority for our

Dhliwayo said he agreed with Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara, who
recently said foreign companies were getting the country’s vast minerals
resources for a song, as cabinet “was deaf, dumb and blind,” when
negotiating contracts.

Dhliwayo also accused the private sector and foreign mining companies of
corruption and fixing prices.

“They trade with their sister companies in other countries at ridiculously
cheap prices, but the same products are later resold at their true market
value,” said Dhliwayo.

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‘Civil society obsessed with diamonds’

Sunday, 17 June 2012 13:24

But journalist and Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe (MMCZ) board
member, Supa Mandiwanzira, accused the civil society of being obsessed with
diamonds because the sector was dominated by local blacks. “Debate on
transparency and accountability must not focus on one mineral,” he said.
“Why are they not debating gold and platinum mining which is dominated by

Zimbabwe has the second largest platinum reserves in the world, but
according to the Finance minister, the mineral is not contributing anything
significant to Treasury compared to diamonds which were not there five years

Mpofu agreed with Mandiwanzira saying while the diamond mining firms in
Marange last year alone remitted over US$160 million to Treasury, Zimplats
has only contributed US$100 million over the past decade.

He maintained that his ministry would not disclose information regarding the
country’s diamond production and sales, arguing that this was a sanctions
busting strategy.

“Why do you want to know who we are selling our diamonds to and for how
much?” asked Mpofu. “This information may fall in the hands of our
detractors and jeopardise our buyers, who are afraid of getting

But Transparency International Zimbabwe executive director, Mary Jane-Ncube,
said the paranoia with sanctions was not justified as Zimbabweans had a
right to demand accountability.

“Right now we are debating on speculation because the information is not
there” she said. “We have a right to question.”

MDC-T spokesperson, Douglous Mwonzora, also said his party was worried by
the lack of transparency in the mining of diamonds and the remission of the
revenue, notably by Anjin.

“The party fears that some of this revenue is going to be channelled by Zanu
PF towards sponsoring violence in the next elections,” he said.

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Hospital fails to make ARVs order

Sunday, 17 June 2012 13:20

SCORES of people receiving anti-retroviral (ARV) drugs from Harare Central
Hospital were early last week told to buy their own drugs as the hospital
allegedly “forgot” to order the life-prolonging drugs. A beneficiary of the
government-free ARV programme showed The Standard his health card where “out
of stock” had been written against the second line drug alluvia which is
used together with tenolam.

“They said they do not have the drugs,” the beneficiary said. “I was advised
to buy the drugs but I currently do not have the money to do so. This will
affect me as I may take long to get the money for the drugs.”

Vice-president of Zimbabwe HIV and Aids Activists Union, Stanley Takaona
said his organisation had been told the hospital did not make an order for
the month of June.

“We have made a follow-up with the hospital together with the ministry and
we were told the drugs are there at the national pharmacy but the hospital
did not make an order for this month,” Takaona said.

“Those are the most expensive ARV drugs, costing US$120 for a month’s supply
and most people who are on the government programme cannot afford them.”
Takaona said such alleged negligence on the part of the hospital was
disturbing as those on ARVs were supposed to take the tablets consistently,
without skipping any days, for effectiveness.

The hospital’s chief executive Peggy Zvavamwe on Friday said the hospital
had the drugs.

“I just made an inquiry with the relevant department and they told me that
the drugs are in stock,” she said. “We would not want anybody to buy when
these things are available for free.

“But since you say it happened early in the week and today is Friday, maybe
the situation was rectified.”

It is estimated that about 3 500 people die per week in Zimbabwe due to HIV
and Aids alone.

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PM to launch water campaign

Sunday, 17 June 2012 13:15

THE government will soon embark on a campaign to encourage members of the
public to save water and avoid littering to reduce the outbreak of diseases.
The two-year Water Conservation Awareness and Zero Litter Campaign will be
launched by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai during the first week of next
month in Harare’s Budiriro high-density suburb.

The campaign would later be taken to other cities and towns across the

Budiriro is one of the dirtiest suburbs in Harare, where a cholera outbreak
killed scores of people in 2008.

Executive director of the Institute of Water and Sanitation Development,
Noma Neseni, said the campaign was designed to sensitise society about the
importance of cleanliness and water conservation.

“At the end of the day, we want a society which appreciates that littering
is shameful, it is disgusting to urinate in public, using flying toilets and
open defacation is hazardous and there is value in conservation among many
other aims of this campaign,” Neseni said.

The campaign also aims at encouraging residents to use water sparingly by
using smaller toilet cisterns instead of the current 10-litre ones which are
viewed as wasteful.

It also aims to encourage the use of buckets for such things as bathing,
irrigation and washing cars. Residents are encouraged to use bath water for
some of these chores.

The city council is also working on a project to generate methane gas
electricity at Firle, which currently receives power for only eight hours
per day, negatively affecting its operations.

Harare City Council director of waste management Dombo Chibanda said they
were also in the process of buying more equipment including four skip
trucks, pole litter bins and 200 litre bins for use at various places
including shopping malls.

Once renowned for their cleanliness, Harare and other cities in the country
have since lost their glitter as litter continues to pile in alleyways,
roadsides and shopping centres.

Water rationing, too, is rampant in some suburbs as municipalities try to
make do with the little water they have.

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Hard-up currency dealers turn to betting

Sunday, 17 June 2012 13:13

HARD-PRESSED foreign currency dealers, popularly known as money-changers,
have found a new lease of life in the form of betting. Since the country
legalised the use of foreign currency in 2009, business has never been the
same for the once flamboyant group, who would not hesitate to spend money.

But the current economic challenges, which are compounded by a liquidity
crunch, have forced most of them to resort to betting houses in Harare and
Chitungwiza in the hope of making a fortune overnight.

Among the most visited betting houses are AfricaBet, Africa Lotto and the
State Lotteries.

Foreign currency dealers who spoke to Standard Community last week at
Chitungwiza AfricaBet said they had been forced into betting because they
were failing to make a decent living through changing money on the streets
as they used to do.

Foreign currency dealers offer higher exchange rates than commercial banks
to attract holders of hard currency to street corners.

“No money is circulating these days,” said one foreign currency dealer, who
identified himself only as King. “The situation is tough for most of us
because people are holding on to their money.”

King, who has turned to betting added: “We used to make a lot of money a few
years back but now it has changed drastically so we come here to bet with
the hope that we can be lucky one day.”

Jethro, another foreign currency dealer, said changing money was no longer

Like King, Jethro has also resorted to betting.

“We used to be flashy but it’s now a thing of the past,” said Jethro.

Foreign currency dealers were well-known for being flamboyant and
extravagant at the height of the economic downturn as they benefited from
hyper-inflation during the time. They were conspicuous by their
larger-than-life lifestyles moving around with hordes of the Zimdollar and
foreign currency.

They were also noticeable because they used to drive the latest flashy cars
and spent most of their time with beautiful women at expensive food outlets
and hotels for breakfast and lunch, where they squandered their money
without hesitation.

An employee at Betting World in Harare, who refused to be named for
professional reasons, said they were getting brisk business from money

“This place is always full to the brink at dusk with people, most of them
money changers,” said the employee.
For years, betting had been regarded as a “game” for mostly pensioners.

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Turn to the sun for energy needs—Nhema

Sunday, 17 June 2012 13:11

COMMUNITIES should harness solar energy in the face of increased power cuts
which are affecting almost all sectors of the economy, a cabinet minister
has said. Addressing delegates at a three-day national climate change
adaptation symposium in Harare last week, Minister of Environment and
Natural Resource Management, Francis Nhema, said the country was not
adequately utilising the abundant sunshine and water bodies found across the

“With lots of sunshine and water bodies littered across the country, there
is need to harness solar energy to overcome electricity and water challenges
facing the country,” said Nhema.

Nhema challenged delegates, who were mostly academics and researchers “to
think deeply and put a human element in their studies and return to that
little river in their communities and harness the water for the benefit of
the local people”.

Power supply remains erratic in most parts of Harare with the Zimbabwe
Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa) failing to stick to a load-shedding
schedule it published in the media recently, seriously affecting many
business operations.

Despite the long hours of power cuts, residents complain of exorbitant bills
at the end of every month. The cost of electricity is affecting thousands of
households as they have to buy paraffin and firewood at a higher cost, yet
still have to settle their bills.

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Trust demands probe into the pensions commission

Sunday, 17 June 2012 11:20

THE Zimbabwe Pension & Insurance Rights Trust (ZIMPIRT) wants the insurance
and pensions’ regulator, Insurance and Pensions Commission (IPEC) to avail
information pertaining to on-going investigations surrounding policy holder’s
pension and benefits in the post-dollarisation era. The call comes in the
wake of a probe being carried out by IPEC concerning the correctness of the
pensions and insurance benefits entitled or paid out by service providers to
pensioners, pension fund members in general, and to insurance policy

“This (investigation) is a matter of public interest, which must be
conducted in a transparent manner and must publicly be disclosed, and the
IPEC administration is a public office that must not hide anything from the
public,” ZIMPIRT general manager, Martin Tarusenga told Standardbusiness.

Following the adoption of the multiple currency regime in 2009, most people’s
Zimbabwe dollar savings were wiped out overnight, with pensioners and
insurance policy holders being among major casualties of the currency

Thousands of pensioners in Zimbabwe continue to receive pittances averaging
US$20 to US$30 per month, despite having contributed consistently to such
funds since the 1980s and before.

But Tarusenga said insurance firms and pension funds were supposed to
provide cover for such economic risks in line with international best
According to correspondence, IPEC agreed earlier this year at a meeting with
ZIMPIRT to conduct an investigation on improper conduct by pension funds and
insurance companies.

The letter states that service providers did not and (still) do not maintain
accurate comprehensive data which would facilitate accurate calculation of
pension and insurance funds member benefit entitlements.

“Service providers therefore, generally reneged on their fiduciary duty to
maintain this data, for future reference,” reads part of the letter.

It was also noted that in some instances, service providers paid wrong
benefit types, thereby forfeiting some of the members’ rights in the pension
arrangement, such as deliberately paying a withdrawal benefit instead of a
retirement benefit.

“Service providers paid arbitrary pension and insurance benefits and refused
to substantiate how they arrived at the benefit amounts,” the letter said.

IPEC recently admitted that the insurance sector is inadequately regulated
and the former would push for a raft of measures aimed at ensuring more

Tarusenga said IPEC still has to publicly disclose the reasons for which it
de-registered more than 1 000 pension funds in 2011 and why the funds were
registered in the first place and whether this de-registration did not
prejudice pensioners and members.

The pension funds were de-registered after failing to comply with the
requirements of the Pension and Provident Fund Act.

Among the de-registered funds were those of mining companies, churches and
clothing firm sectors.

“When did they realise that they (pension funds) did not comply? All of a
sudden more than a 1 000 pension funds had not complied. Any fund
de-registration is critically dependent on the financial soundness of the
pension fund concerned (section 19 of the Act),” Tarusenga said.

“In this regard it must be taken into cognisance that the value of pension
fund assets and their liabilities are already in dispute, hence the current

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Mobile money transfers: Zim drifts towards cashless economy

Sunday, 17 June 2012 11:14

ZIMBABWE’s financial transacting public has been presented with a plethora
of money transfer options, as the country moves towards a cashless economy.
Mobile money products on the market include; Kingdom CellCard, ZB Bank’s
e-Wallet and e-Mali, Econet’s EcoCash product, as well as CABS’ TextaCash.

FBC has joined the bandwagon with Mobile Moola, a new Automated Teller
Machine (ATM) card from which one can send money to anyone with a mobile
phone on any network.

With the card, one can carry out many other banking transactions within the
bank, as well as on ZimSwitch enabled ATMs and (point of sale) POS devices.

The difference between this mobile service and Econet’s EcoCash is the need
for a customer to open a bank account, specifically with the bank.

FBC Bank Retail Banking and e-Commerce division executive director, Agrippa
Mugwagwa said despite the belief that the product is strictly a mobile
banking product, Mobile Moola is broad-based, tapping into the banked and
unbanked market.

“We have rolled out Mobile Moola in its first phase, in which bank customers
will get the value addition. The next phase, available in a few weeks, will
enable anyone to open a Mobile Moola account using just their ID and mobile
number,” Mugwagwa said.

“Our partnership with the networks gives customers the option of accessing
our service through their preferred carrier. Each carrier is free to
stipulate the cost of accessing their platform, based on their internal cost
structure in providing the channel.”

It is not clear however, whether network service providers would adhere to
the obligation of drawing up charges related to cost structures considering
their profit motive, but competition may inevitably dictate prices.

Presently, under the Mobile Moola product, Econet subscribers pay US$0,07
for each transaction.

However, on the EcoCash platform, a customer faces a 2% charge of the
transaction for sending money to a registered EcoCash user, while sending to
a non-registered user attracts a 7% charge.

Although EcoCash does not charge monthly fixed usage fees, the charges are
based on the amount of money transferred, meaning the bigger the transfer,
the more a customer pays.

the Kingdom Cellcard product however attracts a fixed monthly charge of
US$1,30, making it popular with the bank’s clientele base.

Although depositor confidence is slowly returning to the financial sector
since dollarisation in 2009, most people continue to be averse to the idea
of saving their money with banks. Estimates state that over US$2 billion is
circulating outside the formal system of the economy.

CABS’ TextaCash is in collaboration with Telecel with the distinct advantage
of being linked to one’s mobile phone, in order to do balance enquiries and

Clients using the TextaCash product have commended the absence of monthly
bank charges, as normal bank cards attract a monthly fee.

EcoCash has witnessed a phenomenal uptake ever since its launch last year,
as it registered up to one million subscribers in the first six months.

Econet chief executive officer, Douglas Mboweni, believes there is no reason
why an Econet subscriber should not use EcoCash as this reduces distribution
costs. The company’s distribution costs presently stand at 10%-12%, but
through more increased uptake of EcoCash, these are anticipated to come down
to 3%-4%.

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Cotton sector calls for govt intervention

Sunday, 17 June 2012 11:11

STAKEHOLDERS in Zimbabwe’s cotton sector want government to consider
investing substantially in cotton production amid low prices prevailing on
the market, a move which threatens the viability of the sector. This came up
at a meeting convened in Harare last week to look into problems affecting
cotton growers in the country.

The falling international cotton prices and unfair domestic trade practices
have negatively affected thousands of rural households who depend on
subsistence farming, making the crop one of the most important sources of
livelihoods and national revenue.

Action Aid director, Philemon Jazi, urged government to intervene in the
crisis bedevilling the sector through adding value to cotton production.
“Government should invest in infrastructure. we can process our own cotton,
add value to our crop and sell it at a high cost, so that farmers can
benefit from the whole process,” he said.

Jazi said an estimated 20% of the country’s population is dependent on the
crop while it is also a potential foreign currency earner.

Naison Mutsananguro, a small-scale farmer from Checheche, who quit his job
and ventured into cotton farming, said he was disappointed because of the
volatility of producer prices. “I ventured into cotton farming in 1996 after
I quit my job, hoping that it (cotton farming) would uplift my life. At
first I planted 1,5 hectares of cotton in 1996/97 and got 14 bales, which
motivated me to increase to four hectares in 1997/98,” he said.

“We are simply providing cheap labour for investor companies such as Cotton
Company of Zimbabwe and most of us don’t have anything to show for the many
years of labour we have been involved in cotton farming,” Mutsananguro said.

Despite the minimum selling price in the 2010/11 season being pegged at
US$1,05, this year’s prices are lower, forcing farmers to withhold their
produce anticipating a reasonable price. farmers are rejecting the US$0,30
per kg being offered by buyers, arguing that the price should be pegged
between US$0,85 and US$1,30 per kg.

AMA recently announced a producer price of US$0,50 cents per kg of Grade A
cotton after weeks of price negotiations between ginners and farmers.

Lower prices rile farmers: Chief Nemangwe

Chief Nemangwe from Chipinge said the current prices had angered farmers to
the extent that Agricultural Marketing Authority (AMA) and Cotton Ginners
Association workers were occasionally threatened with assault.

“We came here and listened to them talk but nothing was fruitful. farmers
are still waiting for a positive feedback from us so that they know what to
do with their produce and plan for the future,” said Chief Nemangwe.

“Lack of proper education to farmers on the functions of the two bodies, has
escalated their rage as villagers blame them for the prices and adverse
poverty they are facing,” he said.

Another farmer said that on average, one acre of land produces 600 kg of
cotton at a cost of US$395.

“Compared to last year’s minimum price of US$1,05 cents, the same yield
generated US$900 for the same land,” said the farmer.

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Sanity lacking in banking sector

Sunday, 17 June 2012 11:06

ONCE again, indigenous banks have flattered to deceive.

The closure of Genesis Bank and placement of Interfin Bank under curatorship
has brought back questions about the credibility of local financial
institutions and the effectiveness of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) in
regulating the banking sector.

Genesis surrendered its licence after failing to meet the minimum capital
threshold of US$10 million for merchant banks. It had a negative capital of
US$3,2 million and despite being given extended deadlines by RBZ, no knight
came in shining armour.

It became the second bank after NDH to throw in the towel since the use of
multi-currencies in 2009.

Interfin was placed under curatorship after RBZ found the institution to be
unsafe and unsound.

The latest casualties join over a dozen financial institutions that were
either closed or put under curatorship in the past eight years.

The casualties, which were all locally-owned, include ReNaissance Merchant
Bank, CFX Merchant Bank, First National Building Society, Royal Bank,
Barbican Bank, Rapid Discount House, National Discount House, Century
Discount House, Intermarket Discount House, Trust Bank, Intermarket Banking
Corporation, Intermarket Building Society . . . the list is endless.

Before then, the Roger Boka’s United Merchant and David Chapfika’s Universal
Merchant Bank had closed in 1997 and 2001 respectively.

The ailments have been the same — concentrated shareholding, weak corporate
governance, owner-managed or controlled and insider loans, which all turned
out to be non-performing.

There was also the siphoning of depositors’ funds through related party
loans to the main shareholders and their associates “akin to a declaration
of dividends by shareholders from depositors’ funds”.

All these shenanigans have been associated with local banks and the question
uppermost on most depositors’ minds is; do these failures mean that locals
do not have the capacity to run banks?

“Banking is about systems and controls. Good corporate governance is what
makes banks adhere to policies and procedures, as well as regulatory
requirements. You won’t find these problems in foreign-controlled banks
because compliance to good corporate governance and risk management is
paramount,” an executive said.

In all the bank failures, shareholders have been exerting pressure on
management to dish out loans to related parties. This had raised questions
on what would be a workable model for banks.

Finance minister Tendai Biti proposed in April an amendment to the Banking
Act that would bar shareholders from being in both executive management and
the boards of banks.
“That has to stop. If you are a shareholder, go and play golf and let other
people run the bank for you, both at management and board level,” Biti said.

There is also another school of thought that believes RBZ has been found
wanting as the abuse of depositors funds continue.

“It’s not enough to say that you are putting a bank under curatorship and
that the affected banks had concentrated shareholding, as if the regulator
was not aware of the owners,” a banker said on Friday.

“It’s a matter of closing the stables when the horses have already bolted.
RBZ should continue policing banks to weed out rotten institutions.”

Bankers said last week, local institutions have to embrace foreign partners
if they are to survive in the environment of tight liquidity.

“Gone are the days when someone would say I own a bank. That era is long
done. You either look for a strong institutional investor or a foreign
partner, otherwise your days are numbered.”

Since the use of multi-currencies, a number of local banks have embraced
foreign partners, thereby attaining much needed strengthening of risk
management systems, good governance and strong capitalisation.

Premier Bank attracted African Development Corporation before concluding a
major deal with pan African banking group, Ecobank Transnational
Incorporated, which led to the bank being rebranded to Ecobank Zimbabwe and
locals retaining 30% shareholding, but giving management control to the new

NMB invited African Century while Mauritian banking group AfrAsia bought 35%
into Kingdom Financial Holdings Limited.

It has been reported that Royal Bank is partnering with a Kenyan bank while
Trust Bank is in talks with a foreign investor.

Calls for partnerships on the rise

Despite the banking sector having more indigenous players than international
banks, their performance has not been pleasing, reinforcing calls for

Statistics from RBZ show that as at May 24, the 19 local bank’s deposit base
stood at US$2,4 billion compared to US$1,5 billion for the seven
international banks.

Of the locals’ total deposits, the top three — CBZ, CABS and FBC’s
contribution was more than half, meaning the remaining 16 banks shared the

Based on that contribution, observers are of the view that while there is a
push for locals to have equity in foreign-owned banks, the above statistics
should provide useful guidelines.

“Locals should have shareholding in foreign-owned banks, but this does not
mean that they have been given licence to dole out loans to the whole clan,”
an executive said.

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Poor governance choking progressive thinking

Sunday, 17 June 2012 14:04

By Laiton Mkandawire

The argument that Africa’s greatest handicap, since the advent of political
independence, has been a lack of responsible leadership is very sound. So is
its follow-up argument that Africa needs leadership renewal. Africa’s
emancipation from colonial masters of the past has largely been on a
political front; and not much more. Even on the political front, in most
instances, the colonial masters have been proven to have been better, in
essence, than the native African regimes that took over. This is in no way a
wish for a return to the colonial times. This is a quest for the
circumcision of the African mind so that our heads can work as they should
be without any restricting fetters.

Having helped emancipate the continent, Africa’s founding fathers created a
new elite ruling classes in their countries. These classes have been
untouchable and their appetite for the trappings of power and the
accompanying luxury has been insatiable; even surpassing the colonial
masters. These elite classes mimic the colonisers to a fault and in the
words of the late Sembene Ousmane are “all-ears to Europe”. Along the way,
these classes became ensconced in wealth-accumulation and forgot the masses.

When the rich-poor chasm between them and the povo became too wide and
visible, even for Africa’s uneducated masses to see, the masses wanted them
out. This is part of the struggle we saw in North Africa in the recent past
and which is moving south with relentless speed.

Not wanting to go (they ask daft questions like where do we go?), they have
come up with a ruse of turning themselves into modern-day economic
emancipators. The truth of the matter, as anyone with eyes can see, is that
they have no solutions to our economic problems. All they could do, and have
done well, is to amass massive wealth for themselves, their families and
their close associates which is incongruent with their societies. They
cannot be economic liberators; they can only be economic robbers.

They toy with people’s emotions and lives, talking, in glorious terms, of
revolutions long gone by. They make their people live in the past while they
live in the present and look forward to a brighter future. They create fear
in their countries by conjuring in the imaginations of their fellow
countrymen images of wars beyond reality. They alienate themselves from the
culture of their people and unleash violence on them. They ignore, insult
and generally despise the cultural values of their people. They become the
enemy of the people they purport to have liberated. They become brutal and
murderous in most instances.

I postulate here that the next stage of African independence is not, and
should not be, economic emancipation, but mental cleansing. Africans live in
fear. Fear of a return to colonialism. Fear of some of their political
independence leaders who have turned into murderers. Fear of an elite
middle-class that enjoys a false sense of cultural superiority. This fear is
being exploited by sly old political foxes. This fear needs removing.

Only mentally-emancipated Africans can transform themselves into economic
success stories. Political leaders need not bring this success to their
fellow countrymen on silver platters; they simply need to create enabling
environments. They need to create lasting African institutions of mental
emancipation. The rest will follow.

But the current crop of African political independence leaders, though
dwindling, is weak and unfocused. They send their children to schools and
universities in our former colonisers’ countries. They seek medical
treatment in the Far East and the western world. They invest their wealth
(most of it ill-gotten) in our former colonisers’ countries. In Africa, to
think is a crime. A write-up like this one can invite mortal harm on the
writer. As a result, African professionals who should lead the African
development impetus flee their countries to invest their expertise abroad.
African political independence leaders have failed to lead beyond political
independence. They are actually now reversing the gains of independence by
driving fellow African professionals out of Africa. They are undermining

Our independence political leaders and the elite ruling classes they created
have a major shortcoming. Colonial education inculcated into them “western
values and western individualistic ethos, which have distorted their
identity, destroyed their commitment and accountability to African history,
they are good at mimicry and echoing the lifestyles and outlooks of their
mentors” according to Munashe Furusa.

African political independence leaders should now go to their retirement
homes as a matter of urgency. The need for leadership renewal within their
political parties and nations is compelling.

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Govt must protect children’s rights

Yesterday Zimbabwe joined the rest of Africa in celebrating the
International Day of the African Child. While government has religiously
marked the event held in honour of South African children killed by
apartheid police on June 16 1976, it has failed to show the political
commitment needed to improve the welfare of the children.

Just yesterday, it was reported that 89 000 children in dire need of
life-saving drugs were failing to access ARVs. Other reports revealed that
disabled children were increasingly being neglected in Zimbabwe, with no
legal instruments to protect them.

As Zimbabwe reflects on the rationale of the day, it is an opportune time to
begin a process that will ensure that more resources are channelled towards
programmes that make it possible for children to reach their full potential.

So far the state of affairs is dire.

In the rural areas, many children have no access to critical health care as
babies are still being delivered by untrained midwives, mostly under
unhygienic conditions, making them vulnerable to disability or even death.

Children are also dropping out of schools because the government’s welfare
system to support vulnerable children collapsed a long time ago.

In urban areas, children risk contracting cholera and typhoid as they drink
water from shallow wells due to lack of potable water. While government
officials were wining and dining commemorating the day at a local hotel
yesterday, scores of street children were sniffing glue in the alleys just a
few metres away.

These problems make it imperative that children’s issues take centre stage
in the Government of National Unity which has spent more time and resources
trying to solve their political differences at the expense of these critical

Laws also need to be tightened to ensure those who abuse children receive
stiff sentences.

Both Zanu PF and MDC formations should take advantage of the
constitution-making process to push for a Bill of Rights that will guarantee
the rights of children, including those with disabilities who are the most
prone to abuse.

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Editor 's Desk:Politicians should be sincere about children

Politicians rarely ever miss an opportunity to be photographed with
children. It’s an international craze. In the United States, presidential
candidates cannot miss the child-hugging photo opportunity during their
election campaign trails because they believe their success or failure may
depend on it. This they do even when American fighter jets are bombing
villages and schools in Afghanistan, killing thousands of children every

Some of the cruellest politicians who wish to clean up their images resort
to child-hugging so that onlookers may see their soft side, if they have
any. The famous photograph of former US President George W Bush holding a
hollering child shows this doesn’t always work.

In Zimbabwe — among the Shona at least — it is generally believed that a
child will scream when held by a bad person such as a witch or a murderer.
But that has not stopped politicians holding babies at campaign rallies! But
generally, they avoid doing this and wait for June 16 each year to
pontificate about the African child. The day was declared the Day of the
African Child by the Organisation of African Unity — the predecessor of the
African Union — and has been commemorated on the continent yearly since

It is the day when Africans purport to honour those who participated in the
Soweto Uprising in 1976 and raise awareness of the need to continue to
improve the education provided to African children. Zimbabwe also
commemorates the day with high-sounding speeches by political leaders. In
the year between each June 16th, events on the political front suggest a
complete disregard of the needs of the child, especially regarding
education, let alone its improvement.

In Africa, it would seem the only projects presidents and wives of
presidents ever involve themselves in have to do with orphans; this is meant
to show that the so-called first families care about the lot of children.
Whereas this is very noble, the projects normally disguise something
sinister in the way their governments have treated children.
In Zimbabwe, the story of Nigel Mutemagau has become instructive in
demonstrating the depth to which politicians are prepared to sink in order
to achieve or maintain political power, mostly at the expense of innocent

Nigel was the three-year-old boy in 2009 who was incarcerated together with
parents for more than three months. His parents had been abducted together
with a dozen others by state agents on charges of terrorism. Both his
parents were senior members of the MDC. Nigel himself became famous
internationally as “Zimbabwe’s youngest terrorist”. He and his parents were
held at an undisclosed location for two months from October to December 2009
and when they were produced in court Nigel’s name also appeared on the list
of the “terrorists”.

During his abduction, no politicians in the former ruling party Zanu PF
appealed for the release of the child, at least, even after Nigel and his
parents were sent to Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison. This was the time
when all those politicians and their wives — of whatever political
persuasion — who give speeches on June 16 should have given impassioned
pleas for the boy to be released.

Prison conditions were at their worst during the time. There were no
separate sleeping arrangements for babies so mothers and their children
slept under the same crowded conditions under the lice-infested blankets
offered by the system.

Now Nigel, who was later released into the custody of relatives while his
parents continued their stay in prison, is struggling to adapt to normal
life. Those who visited him five months after gaining his freedom found him
still haunted by his experiences. His mother said he cried whenever he heard
voices of people singing and was terrified by crowds. Sometimes he would
just begin shouting. He had to be withdrawn from nursery school because he
could not integrate with other children.

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

Research has established the adverse effects of keeping children in prison
with their parents even when done to the best interests of the children. “A
child who is with her mother in prison is necessarily separated from her
father and other members of her family. Furthermore, her life inside the
prison leaves her vulnerable to disease, malnutrition and possible abuse by
other prisoners or the guards. While the decision ought to be made on the
basis of the best interests of the child, often it is forced upon the mother
and child because of circumstances outside their control.” (Marlene Alejos,
in her excellent report Babies and Small Children Residing in Prison.

There are hundreds of children in Zimbabwean prisons as we speak.

The Nigel story is very important in that Zimbabwe is still in the grip of
political violence whose main victims are the children. Each time a man or
woman is killed in political violence the people who will suffer the most
are the children. Recently, Zimbabwe was shocked by the death of Cephas
Magura in Mudzi at the hands of Zanu PF apparatchiks at a time we all
thought political violence was on the decline. The story we have heard so
far is that of the direct victim, the father. What about the children?

In all political conflicts the children are the grass that gets hurt when
the proverbial two elephants fight. Zimbabwe has been in a state of
perpetual conflict since independence in 1980. What happened to the
Gukurahundi orphans? Were any orphanages ever built for them? They were, and
some are still struggling to get an identity because there are no parents to
register them!

When homes were bulldozed in 2005 during the cynical Murambatsvina, what
happened to the children of the 700 000 families that were displaced? What
happened to the children of the 200 or so people who were murdered during
the June 2008 presidential election run-off?

Politicians should for once be sincere in what they say and do about
children and not use facile projects to sanitise their images.

by Nevanji Madanhire

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