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EU offers to help Zimbabwe clean up diamond sector

28 June 2012, 17:06 CET

(HARARE) - The European Union offered Thursday to help Zimbabwe address
mounting concerns over graft in its diamond sector, only months after the
industry watchdog lifted a ban on sales.

The EU head of mission in Harare told AFP after leading the first visit by a
group of Western diplomats to the eastern Marange mines that the bloc could
help Zimbabwe set up inspection mechanisms that meet international

"We note that there is a problem of transparency in the diamond mining
sector's revenues, which is reflected in the positions that the Zimbabwe
minister of finance has expressed publicly," Aldo Dell'Ariccia said.

Concern over Zimbabwe's diamond mines has swung from a global outcry over a
state-sponsored purge of artisanal diggers to questions about the trail of
profits from the deposits which are now formally mined for the global gem

Finance Minister Tendai Biti has complained about lack of information on
revenue from the diamond sector, raising suspicions that some of the funds
are bypassing central government coffers.

"Transparency is a political issue but it is also a technical issue, that
demands proper capacity to carry out due inspections," said Dell'Ariccia.

"Therefore, if so requested by the government of Zimbabwe, the EU could
provide the necessary technical assistance to update, upgrade, complete the
national installed capacity to carry out proper inspections," he said.

The EU envoy led a team of ambassadors from Australia, Belgium, Canada,
Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany and Spain on the diamond mines tour
which he said was a fact-finding mission at the invitation of the Zimbabwe

He described management at one of the firms Western diplomats visited as
"excellent, really international standards" and said that the security
standards of the anti-conflict body, the Kimberley Process, were

Zimbabwe had expected to rake in $600 million (480 million euros) from
diamond sales this year, after the global watchdog in November lifted a ban
that was imposed over military abuses in the fields, including Marange.

But in the first quarter of 2012, only about a quarter of the projected
diamond revenue for that period was received, according to Biti.

Anjin, a company jointly owned by the Zimbabwe government and a Chinese
firm, and also the largest of the four diamond mining companies in the
country, had failed to remit its revenue to the central government, Biti

But an Anjin director told the diplomats on Tuesday that a payment of $30
million had been made to government in royalties.

London-based Global Witness in its latest report suggested Zimbabwe's feared
Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) may have received some $100 million
and a fleet of 200 cars from a Hong Kong-based businessman in exchange for
diamonds outside formal government channels.

Biti, who is a member of the former opposition party of Prime Minister
Morgan Tsvangirai, has suggested that "there might be a parallel government
somewhere in respect of where these revenues are going."

The Marange fields are one of Africa's biggest diamond finds in recent

The army cleared small-scale miners from the area in 2008 in an operation
that Human Rights Watch says killed more than 200 people.

The EU chief said there had been no major rights incidents there lately.

A policeman is on trial for the kidnapping of four villagers, one of whom
later died.

The fact a trial is under way "is something that demonstrates that there is
a certain change in the reality."

"The fight against impunity is extremely important for the confidence that
the people have in the system," said Dell'Ariccia.

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Envoys misled during tour of Marange diamond fields

By Tichaona Sibanda
28 June 2012

Western diplomats who toured the Marange diamond fields on Tuesday were
misled on the revenue generated from the fields, a pro-democracy activist
said on Thursday.

Dewa Mavhinga, a lawyer and regional director for the Crisis in Zimbabwe
Coalition, told SW Radio Africa that as long as the issue of accountability
is not addressed at the diamonds fields, the truth will never be known.

‘There hasn’t been any proper information on the revenue flows and no one
knows of the shareholding structure at Marange because of lack of
transparency and accountability,’ Mavhinga said.

When the Ambassadors from Australia, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic,
Denmark, France, Germany and Spain visited the fields this week, they were
told Anjin has yet to break even and recover the $400 million invested by
the Chinese into the operation.

Munyaradzi Machacha, a director at Anjin who doubles up as ZANU PF’s
director for publications, told the envoys that the projection by the
Finance Minister that earnings from diamond fields would contribute $600
million to state coffers was incorrect.

Finance Minister Tendai Biti also said recently that the government is not
receiving any money from the joint venture at Anjin between Zimbabwe’s army
generals and the Chinese, which was meant to be a cash-cow for the state.

The 2009 agreement between Anjin and the government was meant to ensure that
a sizeable portion of profits from the lucrative alluvial mine went to the
Finance Ministry, but most of the revenue is going direct to the country’s
military elite.

Finance Minister Tendai Biti last year pegged the national budget on
potential remittances of $600 from diamond sales by the Mines Ministry.
But half-way through the financial year, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai
was forced to admit that only US$25 million of diamond money has been
remitted to treasury.

Contrary to what Machacha told diplomats that Anjin is yet to break even and
recover it’s investment, a Mutare based MDC-T MP said there’s clear evidence
of mass corruption and theft of diamond money.

‘To be honest, money generated from the diamond fields from 2009 up to date
can easily surpass the $2 billion mark which is a conservative figure. We
have ministers from ZANU PF on a property buying spree all over the country.

‘Recently the Minister of Mines Obert Mpofu gained control of the Zimbabwe
Allied Banking Group after injecting $22.8 million into the bank. This is an
individual who earns less than $1,000 a month. Tendai Biti is also on record
telling us that some people in government were now buying private executive
jets. This is all money from diamonds fields,’ the MP said.

The Mines Minister has admitted that Zimbabwe can earn as much as $2 billion
from diamonds annually. However events unfolding on the ground suggest that
a sizable percentage of diamonds coming out of Marange is also smuggled out
of the country by syndicates.

Two months ago, Indian authorities arrested two men for smuggling $2 million
worth of diamonds from the Marange field into the city of Surat. Zohra Desai
and Prema Desai smuggled the diamonds from Zimbabwe through Kenya to Mumbai
and were caught trying to sell the stones.

Surat is a world diamond trading and cutting center and was the scene of a
similar arrest in 2008 when Robai Hussain and Yusuf Ossely were apprehended
with $1 million worth of smuggled Marange diamonds. The two were sentenced
to four years in prison.

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Zimbabwe 'witches' to have medical tests

Associated Press

Jun 28, 7:35 AM EDT

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) -- Court officials in Zimbabwe say two self-confessed
witches who claim to have flown on a magical grain threshing basket are to
undergo medical and psychiatric examinations.

Prosecutors said Thursday two women were arrested earlier this month after
they were found naked in the yard of a home in the town of Chinhoyi, 110
kilometers (70 miles) northeast of Harare. The women are charged under
witchcraft laws carrying the penalty of a fine.

In local belief, the flat, traditional hand-held winnowing basket is
equivalent to a witch's broomstick in Western fable.

Officials said a Chinhoyi court on Wednesday set another hearing for July 11
to hear medical reports and testimony from tribal healers.

The middle aged women claimed the basket `'ditched" them in the yard after a
naked night ritual nearby.

Belief in witchcraft and tribal superstition is common in Zimbabwe.

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More delays for Zuma mediation

By Tererai Karimakwenda
27 June, 2012

The political parties negotiating a roadmap towards elections have
reportedly said President Jacob Zuma’s next visit to Harare as chief
mediator should wait until a final draft of the new constitution is given to
the principal leaders.

ZANU PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo reportedly said: “It will be useless for
him to come now when parties in the inclusive government have not yet
agreed.” He also said the delay would not have any effect on the holding of
general elections.

On Wednesday it was reported the management committee of COPAC, working on a
final draft of Zimbabwe’s new charter, had reached agreement on the
remaining contentious issues. The management committee consists of the same
party representatives who are negotiators to the GPA.

With pressure groups like the Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) holding street
protests calling for release of the charter, it appears Zimbabweans are
getting impatient with what WOZA described as the “bickering” and
negotiating by the political parties.

Eddie Cross, the MDC-T Secretary for Research and Policy, said: “Zuma’s
mediation is not necessary as long as ZANU PF is willing to play ball. The
mediator wants the parties to do as much as possible by ourselves before his

Cross said there had been a “dramatic turn of events” this week and
agreement had been reached on the problematic issues faced by COPAC. He
credited SADC leaders for the development, saying their resolve at the last
summit in Luanda was responsible.

Cross said ZANU PF does not inspire any confidence when it comes to doing
what they agree to, and pointed to the continued violence and arrests of
MDC-T officials. “But we now have a more sophisticated system of dealing
with them. We publicise incidents immediately, document them, press charges
and inform the region and the world. Things have changed,” Cross said.

Regional leaders resolved last year to send a team to Zimbabwe to assist the
Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee (JOMIC) in moving forward
towards an election, after it was decided progress had been too slow. That
team finally arrived in Zimbabwe just last month, but there has been no word

Rugare Gumbo said ZANU PF’s Politburo and Central Committee will meet
Thursday and Friday to come up with “a definitive position” regarding the
elections. Gumbo accused other parties in the coalition of trying to delay
the next election.

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Residents in Masvingo go for three days without water

By Lance Guma
28 June 2012

An estimated 100,000 residents in Masvingo are reported to have gone for
three days without water following a burst water pipe. Supplies were only
reconnected on Thursday.

Press reports quote the Mayor Femius Chakabuda saying: “One of the pipes
that feed into our tanks burst and we are rectifying the situation. We
needed four days to repair it and I am sure by tomorrow (Thursday)
everything will be alright.”

Residents feared a deadly cholera outbreak because they were using
unprotected water sources along the Mucheke River. It was reported in May
that Masvingo needs US$45 million to build a new water system to avert
looming shortages.

A growing population in the city has meant that the City Council has to
build a completely new water pumping, conveyance and storage infrastructure
with a capacity to pump and transport 30 megalitres per day. Chakabuda said
they would be approaching the government to borrow the money required.

But it doesn’t look like they will get that money, given remarks by Finance
Minister Tendai Biti, who last week made it clear that the government was
cash strapped. He gave the example of the largest diamond mining firm in
Marange, Anjin, who have not remitted a single cent to the Treasury.

Revenues from diamond mines in the country are allegedly being siphoned off
by companies run by the military. To make matters worse the ZANU PF side of
the coalition government is more focussed on projects like the building of a
US$100 million ‘spy’ college and the purchase of military helicopter
gunships from Russia.

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Arrested WOZA protesters released without charge

By Tererai Karimakwenda
27 June, 2011

The Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) pressure group have reported that 101
members arrested during peaceful protests on Wednesday were released without
charge by Bulawayo police later the same evening. WOZA said many members
were handcuffed while in custody.

The WOZA members had been held since their arrest Wednesday morning, along
with three breastfeeding women and three minors who are not WOZA members. A
WOZA statement said the women were released in groups of 5, as the police
feared another protest would begin if all were freed at once.

WOZA coordinator Magodonga Mahlangu was the last to be freed and is believed
to have been used by the police to try and trace the whereabouts of leader
Jenni Williams, who they wanted to arrest.

The WOZA members were arrested in Bulawayo as they conducted a sit-in
protest, calling for the immediate release of the draft Constitution.

SW Radio Africa correspondent Lionel Saungweme said riot police appear to
have been tipped off about the protests because there had been a heavy
police presence in Bulawayo Central. The police were also guarding the
location where a memorial statue of the late Joshua Nkomo is to be erected.
The site had been designated as the venue for the WOZA sit-in protest.

WOZA’s sit-in or occupation style protests started on Monday in Harare,
where WOZA members marched to the parliament building in two separate
groups, just as they were trying to do in Bulawayo on Wednesday. Police in
Harare did not disrupt the peaceful protest.

WOZA said Bulawayo police were “overzealous” and need to be investigated.

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Tribunal Concludes Hearing On Rwanda Genocide Fugitive

Harare, June 28, 2012 - The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda
(ICTR), has, concluded its special evidence hearings in the case of Potrais
Mpiranya, the Rwandan genocide fugitive believed to be holed up in Zimbabwe.

Mpiranya, a former presidential commander during the genocide in Rwanda, is
charged among others with conspiracy to commit genocide.

The special hearings were conducted to preserve evidence for future use if
the fugitive is to be finally arrested.

The ICTR, based in Arusha, Tanzania, has pleaded with Zimbabwe to apprehend
the fugitive of the genocide that claimed close to a million lives in 1994.

Last year the tribunal trying suspects of the Rwandan genocide complained to
the United Nations (UN) Security Council that it was encountering
difficulties in tracking a top fugitive believed to be in Zimbabwe.

But Zimbabwe has denied harbouring Mpiranya.

Mpiranya is said to enjoy the sanctuary of top Zimbabwe army officials who
appear to be paying back for the role the Rwandan of Hutu origin played in
assisting the Zimbabwe Defence Forces and its allies during the war in the
Democratic Republic of Congo.

Mpiranya reportedly recruited Rwandans, who fled their country after the end
of the genocide, to fight on the side of the Allied forces.

After the war, Mpiranya reportedly accompanied Zimbabweans troops and was
given sanctuary in the southern African country.

The Allied forces comprising Zimbabwe, Angola and Namibia fought a brutal
war against Congolese rebels who were supported by Rwanda, Burundi and

Proceedings for alleged top genocide financier, Felicien Kabuga, former
Minister of Defence, Augustin Bizimana who are also still on the run, were
also conducted and concluded.

During the hearings, both the prosecution and defence produced their
witnesses and testimonies were recorded.

Once arrested, the Rwandan government wants the three top suspects, who lead
the ICTR list of the most wanted fugitives to be transferred to Kigali.

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Chihuri vows to ensure peaceful elections

28/06/2012 00:00:00
by Patience Nyangowe

THE ZRP will pull all the stops to ensure the planned constitutional
referendum and new general elections are held in a peaceful environment,
Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri vowed Thursday.

Addressing a pass out parade for some 441 police recruits at Morris Depot,
Chihuri said foreign “detractors” were closely monitoring the on-going
constitutional reforms and would use any disturbances in the next elections
to declare the country a police state and maintain economic sanctions.

Zimbabwe is currently writing a new constitution as part of a raft of
reforms agreed under the Global Political Agreement (GPA). Once completed,
the charter would be put to a referendum, leading to new elections.

Chihuri said the ZRP would ensure the referendum and the elections are held
in a peaceful environment to “prove the country’s detractors wrong”.

The GPA parties agree the coalition government is no longer workable but
continue to bicker over the timing of new elections. President Robert Mugabe
has been pushing for the elections to be held this year but his rivals
insist political reforms must be completed to ensure a credible ballot.

The coalition government was formed after violent but inconclusive elections
in 2008. MDC-T leader and current Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai pulled
out of the presidential run-off, accusing elements in the security services
of unleashing violence against his supporters in a bid to help Mugabe retain

Meanwhile, in a speech full of references to the Bible, the ZRP chief also
insisted that senior police officers were right to back government policies
such as indigenisation and the land reform programme.

“I am aware that the Zimbabwe Republic Police is being vilified for
supporting people oriented policies by the government such as the
indigenisation and the land reform programme,” he said.

“However, as an organisation, we shall continue to support these policies
despite the unwarranted smear campaign.

“Even the Holy Bible, in the book of Jeremiah Chapter 3 verse 19, enjoins us
to support our leaders who jealously fight and safe guard out heritage.”

Chihuri urged the police graduates to shun corruption.

“The society considers you, and rightly so, to be reservoirs of honesty,
uprightness and austerity. To this extent, you should uphold the virtues of
morality by guarding against being corrupted by unruly members of the
society,” he said.

“The book of Titus Chapter 1 verses 7-8 is instructive in this regard when
it says, and I quote, ‘since an overseer is entrusted with God’s work, he
must be blameless not overbearing, not quick tempered, not given to
drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. Rather he must be
hospitable, one who loves what is good, and who is self-controlled, upright,
holy and disciplined’.”

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Chihuri turned police event into political rally

Thursday 28th June 2012

The ZANU PF political commissar who is currently acting as the chief of
police recently turned a police event into a ZANU PF rally where he made a
link between a failed politician and a professional police force.

In his comments he seemed to suggest that the ZRP under his leadership was
doing its best to maintain peace in the country and only those who had
failed to win elective office were against him and his organisation.

It is a bad sign in itself that the head of what should be a non partisan
state organisation concedes that there are people who are unhappy with the
way the police are working. Instead of quiet introspection Chihuri takes to
a public podium and makes false statements about the police.

Chihuri of all people in the country knows who the real failed politician
is. After all Robert Mugabe reports to Chihuri and his gang members in army

A failed politician is one who relies on the abuse of state power to stay in
elected office. He cannot stomach a scenario where voters are allowed to
make their choice of leader in an environment that is free from violence,
intimidation, threats, partisan food distribution and coercion.

Chihuri has managed to turn a once exemplary police force into one of the
most corrupt, violent and partisan police entities in the world. He is one
of the biggest failures in the country.

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Stop politicising food aid - PM

Written by Pindai Dube
Thursday, 28 June 2012 12:37

TSHOLOTSHO - Cabinet has set up a committee to investigate cases of
politicisation of food aid in rural areas.

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said this yesterday during a tour of
Matabeleland where pro-Zanu PF government officials and militants are
accused of blocking food aid to starving MDC supporters.

“The Cabinet has already set up a taskforce to investigate and deal with the
issue of food politicisation,” said Tsvangirai.

“This food is for every Zimbabwean and we want to make sure that deserving
people in rural areas benefit regardless of the parties which they support,”
Tsvangirai told journalists in Tsholotsho after commissioning a United
Nations Children’s Emergency Fund-funded water sanitation and hygiene

Tsvangirai said the poor state of roads in rural areas made it difficult for
government and aid agencies to transport food to starving villagers.

Government recently announced an extension of a state-funded grain loan
scheme to March next year to cushion villagers whose crops were affected by

Under the scheme, households facing food shortages are supposed to access
grain from state-owned Grain Marketing Board. Areas facing food shortages
include parts of Manicaland, Masvingo, Matabeleland South and North and some
parts of Midlands province.

Recently, human rights group Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) claimed hundreds
of Zimbabwean villagers were going hungry after being denied food aid.

Some were forced to denounce their political parties in return for
assistance as Zanu PF militants continue to wage a war of attrition against
perceived political enemies, according to ZPP.

Tsvangirai’s MDC also accuses Zanu PF of using local councillors, village
heads and traditional chiefs to scratch the party’s supporters in rural
areas from government food lists that are used when distributing aid.

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Zimbabwe Formulates Blueprint to Court IMF, Reduce Ballooning Debt

27 June 2012

Blessing Zulu | Washington

Zimbabwean Finance Minister Tendai Biti has formulated a plan dubbed the
Zimbabwe Accelerated Re-Engagement Economic Program in an attempt to
convince the International Monetary Fund to provide the much-needed
financial assistance to Harare.

The IMF Article Four team that ended its 14-day mission in Zimbabwe this
week indicated that it will not restore funding to the country until it
clears its outstanding debts.

Zimbabwe owes the IMF about US$200 million.

The country’s external debt has also ballooned to US$9 billion dollars. Biti
told VOA that the Article Four meetings are routine and carried out to
assess Harare’s economic performance.

The IMF has estimated that returning Zimbabwe to the economic level where it
stood in the mid-1990s could take as mush as US$45 billion over the next 5

The inclusive government in Harare has been struggling to raise funds for

Western donors and multilateral institutions like the IMF and World Bank
have been holding back aid, waiting for more reforms, especially on respect
for human rights, restoration of the rule of law and governance in general.

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Murehwa farmers resort to barter trade

Farmers here have resorted to selling their maize at a pathetic price of $2
a bucket amid concerns that the Grain Marketing Board is giving them a raw
by Sofia Mapuranga

They told The Zimbabwean it was better to sell their maize at $2 rather than
have their money tied up by the GMB “who take forever to pay.

“Last season, GMB paid us very late and also a pathetic amount for our
maize. We ended up regretting taking our maize there,” said Gogo Sheila
Matake (62).

She said traders, mostly from Harare, offered food and clothes in exchange
for maize.

Fibeon Mwayera from Ward 13 in Murehwa said he decided to sell his maize
after realising that failure to do so would see his crop destroyed by pests.

“Storing the maize is a challenge since I cannot afford the chemicals that
safeguard my crop from being eaten by pests. It is wiser for me to sell my
maize now,” he said.

Maria Ruchima (32) from Budiriro 5 said she had acquired almost two tonnes
of maize from barter trade with the Murehwa farmers.

“I take clothes and sometimes foodstuff to the farmers and they give me
maize. For example, I give a farmer an empty 20 litre bucket and they give
me one and half buckets of maize,” said Ruchima.

“I then transport the maize to Harare at night because to do this during the
day is very expensive as the police harass us and we end up paying them
bribes at every roadblock,” she said. “I sell the maize at $4 a bucket and
that is how I make my living.”

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Millers in ferment over wheat imports

28/06/2012 00:00:00
by NewZiana

THE Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ) has slammed the government
for spending US$27 million dollars on wheat imports while failing to fund
local production of the crop.

In April this year, Agriculture Minister Joseph Made and his Finance
counterpart Tendai Biti pledged to release US$20 million to help farmers
acquire inputs for the winter wheat crop but the facility was never made

GMAZ chairman Tafadzwa Musarara said the country had imported 45.1 million
tonnes of wheat in the first five months of the year.

"This means that of the US$27 million remitted outside the country, US$18
million benefited respective foreign wheat farmers," he said.

"This flies in the face of government's failure to raise US$20 million for
the 2012 winter wheat season," he said.

The government is importing wheat from Asian countries, Russia, Turkey and

Wheat production is at its lowest as the government and agriculture
stakeholders continue to fail to put in place effective plans to boost
production of the cereal.

High production costs coupled with failure by farmers to access agricultural
inputs and shortage of power for irrigation continue to present obstacles
for wheat producers.

The government had set a target of 26,000 hectares for wheat this season but
this has most likely not been met, with estimates that land planted might be
around 10,000 hectares.

Last season only 14,100 hectares were planted against a target of 70,000
hectares, with only 41,000 tonnes of the crop being harvested when the
country requires 400,000 tonnes annually.

The government is still allowing duty free importation of wheat to address
shortages due to failure to produce adequate quantities.

GMAZ argues that continued free importation is stifling local production of
the crop as there was no incentive for farmers when imports were coming in

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Government scraps maternity fees

28/06/2012 00:00:00
by Staff Reporter

MARTERNITY fees will be scrapped at all government hospitals beginning next
week as the government moves to improve maternal and child health care and
end the detention of new mums at some across the country for failing to pay
the fees.

Charging of maternity fees has also been blamed for the country’s relatively
high maternal and child mortality rates, prompting a campaign for their
removal by Deputy Prime Minister Thokozani Khupe and other senior government

The director of preventive services in the Ministry of Health, Gibson
Mhlanga, told reporters in Harare Wednesday that all government provincial
and central hospitals would stop charging the fees beginning next week.

“Provincial and central hospitals in big cities Harare and Bulawayo are
expected to scrap off maternal user fees starting July 1 though we have not
yet received the $10 million from the Ministry of Finance,” he said.

“We hope that the money comes quickly to our ministry such that we run the
service quickly as well. We have to avoid cases of mothers giving birth at
home because of failure to pay maternal user fees. We are patiently waiting
for the Ministry of Finance to issue out the funds as soon as possible.”

Zimbabwe’s health sector suffered a dramatic decline because of
under-investment over the last decade as the country battled a serious
economic crisis made worse by the withdrawal of key donor support.

Worst hit by the crisis were people in rural areas, particularly women and
children, who struggled to access life-saving maternal and child health

According to Unicef, the collapse of health care meant that a woman’s
lifetime risk of dying of pregnancy complications stands at 1 in 42, and of
every 1,000 live births, 80 children die before reaching age 5.

“There is no doubt that the poorest women and children have borne the brunt
of the decline in health service delivery over the past decade,” UNICEF
Representative in Zimbabwe Dr. Peter Salama said early this year.

“However, significant progress has been made in recent years. Abolishing
user fees for pregnant women and children under 5 and strengthening the
quality and reach of services will save even more lives.”

Meanwhile, scrapping of user-fees was one of the key aspects of the Health
Transition Fund established by the government and international development
partners last year.

The Fund is expected to raise US$400 million which would be used to
re-strengthen the country’s health delivery system and ultimately save the
lives of more than 30,000 children under age 5 and pregnant women.

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Disgruntled National Railways of Zimbabwe employees demand compensation

Harare Residents Trust
26 June 2012, Harare: AT least 47 emergency workers, essentially security
guards employed by the National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) are living in
fear of being evicted from their houses following the failure by the NRZ to
honour an agreement with the employees in 1998, in which they had
promised to offer alternative accommodation to employees following its resolution that it was no
longer offering accommodation to employees. These 47 families are currently residing in NRZ houses
at NRZ security camp situated at corner Kenneth Kaunda and Seke Road.
The problem that they are facing stems from a weekly notice in which the NRZ promised to buy
them out of the houses they occupied having paid the occupants a fee of Z$40 000 in 1998 when the
NRZ resolved to sell off their properties because it no longer wanted to offer accommodation to its
employees. The 47 families being affected by this non compliance reside. The NRZ entered into an
agreement with the workers’ unions namely the Zimbabwe Amalgamated Railways Union (ZURA),
Railway Artisan Union (RAU) and the Railway Association of Engineman (RAE).
The agreement states that the NRZ would dispose off all the houses which NRZ employees stayed in
especially houses they said were outside the reserved properties. Some of the reserved properties is
in Eastlea, Rugare and Lochnivar. The option that was given was that the houses in the reserved
properties would be disposed off to the sitting tenants who were also the emergency employees of
NRZ. When this agreement was made with the identified workers unions, there were different
classes of employees.
The agreement had different implications on the following groups of people:
1. Those who were admitted automatically into employment soon after getting employed with
the NRZ.
2. Those who had houses rented for them by the NRZ.
3. Those who were staying in reserved land and were given accommodation facilities upon
being confirmed for employment.
Group One- These employees were offered to buy the houses in which they lived. The prices that
the NRZ required varied according to the location as well as the size of the structure.
Class Two- The employees rented the houses from NRZ and were offered a stand each by their
employer, plus Z$40 000 each. They successfully constructed their houses. The NRZ had and still has
land in Rugare and Lochnivar.
Class Three- They were advised not to stay in NRZ reserved land. This was the land that was reserved
for railway business and emergency workers. These residents were classified in the same category
as class two. These were also promised stands by NRZ and $40 000 Zimbabwean dollars so that they
are able to construct houses for occupation. They were supposed to have stands in areas where the
NRZ owned land.
From the report received, these were given Z$10 000 in 1999. This was in the words of the
interviewees, a violation of the 1998 agreement. They received the money in anticipation of the fact
that the remainder of the money and the stand would be processed. These sitting tenants continued
to stay in the reserved land as initially agreed. The NRZ is reported to have now classified them as
private tenants, requiring them to pay monthly rentals to the NRZ. Previously, they paid for water,
sewerage and electricity rates. They received informal communication from the NRZ management
that the NRZ had allocated all employees housing stands on their records but these employees did
not get them.
From the report received, it is now 10 years following the agreement and the NRZ has yet to fulfil its
promises to the disgruntled employees. While the agreement has been violated, the conditions
under which they live are appalling, with some of the employees reaching pensionable age. At
pension age they are evicted from their houses while others are dying, leaving their families exposed
to evictions by NRZ management. Given the unresolved issues, the beneficiaries find no recourse to
their crisis. The vacated houses are then allocated to new NRZ employees, confirming the
abandonment of workers who toiled for years to make the NRZ generate revenue.
Of the 47 families, 15 to 20 have now relocated to their rural communities while others acquired
properties elsewhere. Three employees are due to go for pension end of July 2012 and they are
likely to be evicted from their homes.
The disgruntled workers are desperate for help to force the NRZ management to be accountable and
end their misery at the hands of their employers. The want their housing stands and compensation
as promised a decade ago. The interviewees said that their union leaders have remained silent on
this issue meaning they have no representation. They suspect that their union leadership was either
bribed or threatened by the NRZ management.
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Website: Twitter: @InfoHRT/ @HarareResidents

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