The ZIMBABWE Situation
An extensive and up-to-date website containing news, views and links related to ZIMBABWE - a country in crisis
Return to INDEX page
Please note: You need to have 'Active content' enabled in your IE browser in order to see the index of articles on this webpage

SADC Tribunal Judgement: Zimbabwean commercial farmers Mike Campbell and Richard Etheredge


5 June 2009

Campbell & Another vs Government of Zimbabwe

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) Tribunal today dismissed a
last-minute application by the Government of Zimbabwe to postpone a contempt
application against it by Zimbabwe commercial farmers.

The Tribunal then proceeded immediately to hear the farmers' application for
a ruling that Zimbabwe is in contempt of the Tribunal's November 2008

In the earlier decision the Tribunal, now presided over by former Chief
Justice Pillay of Mauritius, and with senior judges from Angola, Botswana,
Malawi and Mozambique - held Zimbabwe's land seizure programme in breach of
the SADC Treaty's human rights provisions.

After hearing argument today, the Tribunal adjourned to consider its ruling.
On reconvening, the Tribunal delivered a unanimous decision.

Chief Justice Pillay stressed that Zimbabwe had not only breached the
November order, but was in contempt.

He singled out public statements by President Mugabe and by the Deputy Chief
Justice of Zimbabwe, Justice Malaba, earlier this year, as well as a
statement by the Deputy Attorney-General that Zimbabwe would continue to
prosecute farmers protected by the Tribunal's order.

He added that the applicants had also submitted "ample proof" of violations
on the farms in recent months, either investigated by Zimbabwe Government
police officials or permitted by them.

In an unusual move, the Tribunal also ordered the Government of Zimbabwe to
pay the farmers' costs.  Costs orders are only made by the Tribunal in
"exceptional circumstances".

The Tribunal concluded its ruling by referring Zimbabwe's contempt to the
SADC Summit for consideration of measures to be taken under the Treaty
against it.  These measures could include sanctions or expulsion of Zimbabwe
from SADC.

SADC Tribunal Watch - 5 June 2009

Contact persons (currently in Namibia):

Deon Theron - Vice President of the Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers' Union or

Ben Freeth    - Mount Carmel Farm, Chegutu

Tel:  +264 81 448 4536 or +27 82 418 1723


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Another farming family evicted as invasions continue

By Alex Bell
05 June 2009

Yet another farming family in Chegutu have been forced to turn their backs
on their land and livelihood, after being forcibly and illegally evicted in
the name of so called land reform.

The Keevil family's land, Dodhill Farm, has been snatched and placed in the
hands of the brother of the Chegutu Lands Officer, after months of intense
harassment that started in November 2008. Abel Kunonga and fellow land
invader Nyasha Chikafu, have mercilessly hounded the Keevils to their recent
eviction, despite numerous High Court orders issued since November
protecting the Keevils' right to their land. Chegutu police openly ignored
the court orders, only reacting with speed and assertion to arrest the farm's
workers, who acted to prevent Kunonga and an accompanying youth from
stealing fuel off the farm. The workers were arrested and kept behind bars
for more than a week, for nothing more than trying to protect the land.

Dodhill Farm invasion at a glance:

- First attacks in November 2008 led by Abel Kunonga, brother of Chegutu
Lands Officer, Clever Kunonga.
- High Court issues numerous orders on the Keevils' behalf since November,
but all are ignored
- Chegutu police openly ignore the ongoing attacks and court orders, only
responding to arrest the farm's workers who tried to stop Kunonga and other
invaders from stealing fuel
- Farm workers spend more than a week behind bars
- Supreme Court Justice Chidyausiku rules against the Keevils in May, paving
way for fast track farmer prosecution
- Keevils ordered to the leave their land by the court

Last month, Supreme Court Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku, ruled against the
Keevils, who were dragged to court by their oppressors for remaining on the
land. The Chief Justice effectively paved the way for the fast track
prosecution and eviction of farmers, systematically destroying the arguments
the Keevils had in their defence. The Keevils have now been forced to leave
their productive, successful farm in the hands of an inexperienced land
thief, who ironically has contacted Sam Keevil for assistance on how to run
the farm.

The renewed offensive against the country's remaining commercial farmers has
hit the Chegutu farming community the hardest. Almost all farmers in the
area are facing prosecution for continuing farming activities, or are
dealing with state sponsored land invasions and harassment. All five of the
most productive and successful farms in Chegutu have been almost completely
taken over and production halted by invaders, led by ZANU PF loyalists. On
these farms alone, more than 1300 farm workers have lost their jobs, and
more than 5000 Zimbabweans, dependent on Chegutu's farm operations, have
been left penniless and destitute.

The invasions and devastating consequences of the attacks come as the unity
government remains unwilling to take action to intervene. Robert Mugabe has
naturally defended the attacks in the name of his 'land-reform' programme,
which has all but destroyed the critical agriculture sector in Zimbabwe.
Most shockingly, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, who is set to embark on a
cross-continental tour to 'improve international economic relations', has
downplayed the attacks.

While the desperate bid to win financial favour continues, ordinary
Zimbabweans continue to suffer, and until the land attacks are stopped and
food production is encouraged, the suffering will continue.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Black Zimbabwe Farmer's Case on Hold

WINDHOEK, June 5 2009 - Zimbabwe on Thursday urged a regional court
not to step into a dispute with a black farmer who has accused the
government of wrongly seizing his land.

Luke Tembani became one of Zimbabwe's first black commercial farmers
shortly after independence in 1980, but faced eviction on May 21 after the
national agricultural bank sold his farm to recoup a loan.

Tembani has asked the tribunal of the Southern African Development
Community (SADC) to allow him to keep his land, saying the bank had reneged
on a deal to allow him to sell part of his farm to settle the loan.

A lawyer for the government argued that the tribunal should not rule
in the case because Tembani still had legal options in Zimbabwe to settle
his case.

"The applicant did not explore all legal avenues in Zimbabwe before
turning to this tribunal," argued Zimbabwe's deputy attorney general Prince

Tembani had taken a loan more than a decade ago from the Agricultural
Bank of Zimbabwe (ABZ) to expand his farm operations.

Economic crisis

According to court documents, he defaulted on part of his repayments
when interest rates soared in 1997 as Zimbabwe's economic crisis unfolded.

Documents filed with the tribunal stated that the bank had sold the
farm in 2000, without any court hearings, even though Tembani was still
living on it.

The tribunal reserved judgment in the case, and set no date for a

But the court ordered the government to allow Tembani to stay on his
land until a decision is made.

The problems with Tembani's land emerged as Zimbabwe President Robert
Mugabe was embarking on a violent and often chaotic scheme to resettle black
farmers on white-owned lands.

The SADC tribunal in November ruled against the land reforms, saying
78 white farmers could keep their land because the scheme amounted to racial

Mugabe's government rejected the ruling, but the new unity government
says it wants to resolve the problems on the farms.

The white farmers are returning to the court on Friday seeking a way
to force Zimbabwe to honour the judges' ruling. (SAPA)

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Govt Failed to Protect SA Farmer in Zim Land Grabs: Court

SOUTH AFRICA, June 5 2009 - The South African government has been held
responsible for failing to protect the rights of one its citizens against
Zimbabwe's Land Redistribution Programme.

The Constitutional Court Friday morning upheld a High Court judgment
which ruled the South African government should have offered 75-year-old
Crawford Von Abo the necessary protection against the land grabs that took
place from 1997.

The Free State farmer lost 14 farms and several businesses as a result
of the land grabs. He has been struggling for the past six years to get
government to act against Zimbabwe's confiscation of land owned by South
Africans. This morning the Constitutional Court ruled that last year's North
Gauteng High court judgment stood.

According to that judgment Von Abo should have been protected by the
SA government. The court also ruled that government had 60 days to remedy
the situation. Government could also be held responsible for paying
compensation for losses and damages amounting to R80 million. (SABC)

In the late 90's the Government of Zimbabwe held a conference on land
reform in Zimbabwe. Broad agreement was reached between the State, the
stakeholders and international aid agencies but the agreement was never

Two years later, in an attempt to destroy the opposition base on
commercial farms, the State began what it eventually called the 'Fast Track
Land Reform' exercise.

They justified this programme to the rest of the world by arguing that
they were redressing historical injustices and racial imbalances in the
ownership of the land.

The reform programme ignored the legal situation prevailing in respect
to farm ownership and it also ignored the issue of fair and reasonable
compensation for assets taken over by the State. The legal position was
quite straight forward - commercial farmers held full freehold title and in
over 80 per cent of cases, also held a 'certificate of no interest' issued
by the Zimbabwe government allowing them to buy the farms on the open market
after 1980.

Such a requirement was mandatory - in order to enable the State to
acquire the farms if they so wished, on a willing seller, willing buyer
basis. Some 3,8 million hectares of farmland was in fact acquired in this
way since 1980. Farmers holding both the title and the certificates held an
unassailable legal right to the land and all improvements. By so doing they
held the right to receive in full, the market value of such assets when they
were sold, less any bond obligations to banks.

In the following 8 years, thousands of farms were 'acquired' with the
regime changing the law every time a farmer or group of farmers secured
legal judgements in their favour.

Deon Theron, vice-president of the Commercial Farmers Union, recently
said Zimbabwe's farming sector is in "dire straits" despite the new
power-sharing government, with invasions of white-run farms continuing
unabated and major food shortages inevitable.

He said the farm sector was being talked up in an attempt to persuade
foreign donors to loosen their purse strings.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Journalists win landmark case against government

By Tichaona Sibanda
4 June 2009

Four Harare based journalists on Friday won an historic court case against
the government after they challenged the legal status of the Media and
Information Commission (MIC).

The four freelance journalists, Stanley Gama, Stanley Kwenda, Jealous
Mawarire and Valentine Maponga, were arguing that in terms of AIPPA, as
amended in January 2008, the MIC led by Tafataona Mahoso no longer existed.

The Information Ministry last week instructed that all journalists wishing
to cover the Common Market for East and Southern Africa (COMESA) summit set
to start on Sunday in Victoria Falls, should be accredited with the MIC.

But High court Judge Bharat Patel ruled that the MIC was now a defunct body
which no longer existed and as such no journalist in the country should
register with them.

Justice Patel also read government the riot act when he ruled that any body
or institution seen trying to register journalists in Zimbabwe will be
interdicted. Information Minister Webster Shamu, permanent secretary in the
ministry George Charamba and Tafataona Mahoso were the first, second and
third respondents in the matter.

The Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai was cited as the fourth respondent in
his official capacity as the person responsible for the executive arm of the
inclusive government and in charge of ensuring the proper implementation of
both the law and policy.

Thabani Moyo, the Media Institute advocacy officer for Zimbabwe told us the
Ministry of Information was also ordered to retract its statement on 22nd
May that journalists in the country were still liable for accreditation to
work in Zimbabwe.

'Justice Patel ruled that if the four journalists wished to cover the COMESA
summit in Victoria Falls they should seek accreditation from the COMESA
secretariat and not from the Ministry of Information,' Moyo said.

'It's a short term victory because there is still a lot of work to be done
in terms of seeing all draconian media laws repealed,' Moyo added.
A jubilant Gama, who is also the chairman of the journalist's Quill club in
Harare, told us the ruling signalled the dismantling of the pillars of media
repression in Zimbabwe.

'This is a victory for media freedom in Zimbabwe. Journalists have been
oppressed for a long time now and this ruling means we can freely operate
without intimidation from the ministry, the minister, his permanent
secretary or anyone else,' Gama said.

In past cases the courts have often ruled in favour of media freedom, but
these rulings have always been ignored by Mugabe and ZANU PF. It will be
interesting to see if the situation is different this time, because of the
unity government.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Journalists arrested covering demo in Zimbabwe

The NUJ is calling for the immediate release of two Zimbabwean journalists and trades unionists arrested at lunchtime today in Harare.

Chris Mahove was seized at noon, for taking pictures of a demonstration by Harare City Council employees for The Worker - the journal of the Zimbabwean Congress of Trade Unions.

His editor Ben Madzimure was arrested while at a police station enquiring about his colleague.

Chris and Ben are members of the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists.

Last month Zimbabwe's prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai invited foreign media who had been banned back to the country and said he deplored the arrest of journalists.

Michelle Stanistreet, Deputy General Secretary of the NUJ, said: "Journalists must be allowed to report on protests by workers if the Zimbabwean government is serious about allowing  the development of a functioning civic society.

"This incident is a real test for the power-sharing government. If they are serious about press freedom they must release Chris and Ben immediately."

Foster Dongozi, secretary general of the ZUJ, is due to arrive in London on Monday for a meeting with the NUJ.

The NUJ has secured a grant from the British TUC International Development Learning Fund to help train journalists in Zimbabwe and to run resources centres from where reporters and photographers can work and file their stories.

Foster called for the help during a previous visit to the NUJ in November of last year.

The NUJ and the ZUJ are members of the International Federation of Journalists.

5 June 2009

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Prime Minister Tsvangirai expected to meet Barack Obama

By Violet Gonda
5 June 2009

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai is set to leave Zimbabwe on Saturday for
his inaugural overseas tour to the USA and parts of Europe. Mr. Tsvangirai
is expected to meet US President Barack Obama. Information on his itinerary
has not yet been made available but James Maridadi the Prime Minister's
spokesperson said Mr Tsvangirai will meet the American leadership next week,
and other leaders in Europe. The tour is part of his 100 day plan to
re-engage with the international community after years of isolation and to
try to encourage western governments to provide economic aid to Zimbabwe.

Senior government officials representing key economic ministries are
expected to join Mr. Tsvangirai on this trip. As most ZANU PF officials are
under travel sanctions, this poses a major challenge for the inclusive
government as western governments have been reluctant to remove the targeted
travel ban against key members of the regime, saying there is little
evidence to show that Mugabe is serious about sharing power and ending
rights abuses.

It's understood ZANU PF Tourism Minister Walter Mzembi, who is not on the US
sanctions list, will be travelling with the Prime Minister to the US on the
first leg of the tour. Elton Mangoma, the MDC-T Minister of Economic
Planning and Investment Promotion and Priscilla Misihairabwi Mushonga the
MDC-M Regional Integration and International Co-operation Minister, will
also be part of this delegation that leaves Zimbabwe on Saturday.

Finance Minister Tendai Biti will join the group in Europe. However it is
still unclear how European countries are going to deal with the issue of the
ZANU PF ministers who are on the travel ban and are supposed to travel to
Brussels and London with the Prime Minister's team. A British source told SW
Radio Africa on Friday that a decision had not been made yet to 'waiver the
visa' for the banned ZANU PF Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe
Mumbengengwi and the Tourism Minister.

The source said an application for a visa waiver would have to be sent to
all 27 members of the European Union to ask for a one off waiver, to allow
the ZANU PF officials to travel to Europe, but no official note had yet been
sent out. Mr Tsvangirai is expected in London on June 19th and it is likely
a decision on ZANU PF officials would be made clearer next week.
It would only take one EU member state to refuse a visa waiver, for the
restricted person to be denied entry.

Meanwhile the MDC UK branch announced it is organizing a gathering for the
Prime Minister to meet Zimbabweans in London on June 20th. Jason Matewu, the
Organizing Secretary, said people will meet the Prime Minister at Southwark
Anglican Cathedral in London, where the leader will talk about his coalition

Some MDC sources in the UK told us that the MDC organisers were forced to
look for this second venue, after a key donor who had pledged to pay £10 000
for the original venue - the Methodist Central Hall - pulled out after they
found out that ZANU PF ministers on sanctions lists were expected to join
the Zimbabwean delegation.

Thousands of people were killed, tortured, mutilated and beaten by the
Mugabe regime and it was mainly because of these gross human rights
violations that western countries imposed targeted sanctions on members of
Robert Mugabe's ruling elite. But the MDC has been pushing for the removal
of these sanctions since the formation of the unity government to try and
make their controversial alliance work.

ZANU PF blames Zimbabwe's crisis on the 'sanctions' which they claim were
brought in by western nations in response to land reform.
But the Zimbabwe Independent newspaper' Muckracker column said it is a
'convenient myth' by ZANU PF and also the state media, to portray ZANU PF as
victims of western penalties for restoring land to the people. Muckracker
wrote: "In fact EU sanctions were imposed in 2002 in response to the
expulsion from Zimbabwe of Pierre Schori who headed the EU's election
monitoring mission. The measures had nothing to do with land and everything
to do with political violence and electoral manipulation."

Since the new government was formed in early February MDC and civic
activists are still being brought before the courts on politically motivated
charges and violent invasions on farms still continue. Western governments
have said they want to see a partnership of equals but since the formation
of the government ZANU PF still controls nearly all major areas of
influence, such as the security forces and media.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Amnesty International Head Expected In Zimbabwe

HARARE, June 5, 2009 - The Secretary general of Amnesty International,
Irene Khan, will head a high level mission to Zimbabwe next weekend and
possibly hold discussions with President Robert Mugabe.

Eliane Drakopoulous, the African press officer for Amnesty
International, told RadioVOP on Friday that apart from meeting President
Mugabe, Khan planned to meet human rights activists, victims of human rights
violations and other senior government officials. Khan arrives in Harare on
13 June and leaves on 18 June, 2009.

"The mission will conclude with a press conference in Harare," said
Drakopoulous. The visit by the Amnesty International secretary general comes
at a time the inclusive government has started the process of national
healing following last year's violent presidential and general elections.

The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), which was forced to enter
into a coalition government with President Mugabe in February this year,
claims that more than 500 of its supporters were killed by state security
agents and ZANU PF militia in the run-up to the polls.

The national healing process, however, has been stalled due to sharp
differences among officials amid revelations that army generals and other
known state security agents are clamouring for a blanket amnesty on crimes
committed during the infamous Gukurahundi period and the Marc/June 2008
presidential elections.

Human rights organisations in Zimbabwe have prepared dossiers
chronicling the crimes committed by ZANU PF militia and the military against
MDC officials and supporters. In the run-up to the June one-man presidential
run-off, former ZANU PF strongholds won by the MDC in the parliamentary and
local government elections were rendered no-go areas for the opposition.

A crack state-sponsored hit squad wiped out Prime Minister Morgan
Tsvangirai's reconnaissance team, prominent among them Tonderai Ndira. At
the MDC's 9th anniversary held in Harare on Saturday last week, the party
paid homage to Ndira and scores of other slain MDC officials and activists.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Red Cross feeding Zimbabwe prisoners

Published: June 5, 2009 at 2:50 PM

HARARE, Zimbabwe, June 5 (UPI) -- The International Committee of the Red
Cross says it is distributing food, blankets and soap to thousands of
inmates in Zimbabwean prisons.
The Red Cross said it expects to be feeding 10,000 prisoners, more than half
of the country's officially recognized behind-bars population, by the end of
the year, the BBC reported Friday. However, the actual population of the
prisons is believed to be higher than the official total, the BBC said.

Red Cross officials said the group is also planning to renovate the kitchens
and water systems in the prisons to help curb the spread of cholera and
other diseases. The group said it is working with Zimbabwean authorities to
improve the situations of "the most vulnerable detainees."

The move comes after a South African TV documentary, "Hell Hole," exposed
the unhealthy conditions of jails in Zimbabwe. The program depicted healthy
and sick prisoners living together in overcrowded and unhygienic cells.

Roy Bennett, a leading politician with Zimbabwe's MDC party, a former
opposition party that now shares power with President Robert Mugabe's
Zanu-PF party, spent several weeks in prison on charges including banditry
and terrorism. He described his time as a "harrowing experience" that he
wouldn't "wish on my worst enemy."

"There are people there who look worse than the photographs of prisoners in
(Nazi concentration camps) Dachau and Auschwitz," he said.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Trials of abductees begin next week

By Violet Gonda
5 June 2009
Despite the formation of the unity government the ZANU PF regime has not stopped pursuing what the MDC has described as ‘dubious’ charges against various abductees.  The trials of the MDC and civic activists, kidnapped from their homes last year, are set to commence next week. The individuals were abducted between the months of October and December and spent more than five months in jail. They had been kept in secret locations before legal pressure forced them to be brought to court, where they were accused of plotting to destabilise the former ZANU PF led government.
At the time it was reported that at least 30 MDC and civil society activists, including a two year old boy, had been abducted. But only 17 accused persons are named in the trials set to begin on 8th June. The State had held some abductees as ‘state witnesses’ while the MDC said several other party activists are still missing.
The first group appearing on 8th June is known as the ‘First recruiters’ trial’ and this involves the State’s case against Concillia Chinanzvavana, Fidelis Chiramba, Violet Mupfuranhewe and Collen Mutemagau. They were among the group kidnapped at the end of October last year and are accused of ‘recruiting’ people to incapacitate the regime.
The trial of a second group, known as the ‘bombers trial’, involves two MDC officials recently released on bail, Chris Dhlamini & Gandhi Mudzingwa, plus photojournalist Shadreck Andrison Manyere and four of their co-accused, Chinoto Zulu, Zacharia Nkomo, Regis Mujeyi and Mapfumo Garutsa. Their trial starts on June 29th.
The last group of alleged ‘recruiters’ will stand trial on 20th July:  This is the case involving civic leader Jestina Mukoko, Emmanuel Chinanzvavana, Pieta Kaseke, Audrey Zimbudzwana and Brodrick Takawira
Lawyer Alec Muchadehama said last week that it was disturbing to see that his clients, who are the victims, are going to be in the dock, while the perpetrators who kidnapped and tortured his clients have not been brought to book. He said some of these perpetrators of violence will be used as State witnesses.
The abductees will also be seeking redress of their own in the Supreme Court, in-between their trials. The legal monitoring group Veritas said that on June 25th the accused persons will ‘complain that their constitutional rights were infringed by their abduction, lengthy unlawful detention, treatment during detention (including torture) and the State’s failure to take appropriate action against those responsible while at the same time vigorously pursuing criminal charges against the abductees.’
Veritas added: “The court will be asked to stop the prosecution of the abductees until the case against their kidnappers has been fully investigated and prosecutions mounted against those responsible.  As a constitutional case, this will be heard by five judges.  The complainants’ legal team will be led by Advocate Jeremy Gauntlett SC of the South African bar.  Deputy Attorney-General Prince Machaya will head the State’s team.”
Also to stand trial this month are journalists from the Zimbabwe Independent newspaper, Vincent Kahiya and Constantine Chimakure. The  senior editors face charges of ‘undermining public confidence in law enforcement agents’. They are accused of publishing a story naming police officers and state agents implicated in the abductions of the political abductees. This is in spite of the fact that their story was based on contents of the official trial documents. Their case will be heard on June 16th.
Meanwhile several cases involving human rights defenders were thrown out by the courts in recent days. Prominent human rights lawyer Alec Muchadehama was on Monday removed from remand by Harare magistrate Catherine Chimanda. The lawyer was arrested on May 15th on allegations of attempting to defeat or obstruct the administration of justice for allegedly ‘conniving’ with a clerk of court, to facilitate the release of three of his clients on bail after the State had been given leave to appeal to the Supreme Court against the granting of bail.  Magistrate Catherine Chimanda ruled that on the facts placed before the court by the State there was no reasonable suspicion that Mr Muchadehama had committed any crime. 
High Court judge Justice Chinembiri Bhunu’s clerk Constance Gambara, who processed the release of Muchadehama’s clients release, was also arrested in connection with the same case and is being accused of abusing a public office.  She is currently out on bail and was remanded to 12th June.
Other recent political trials that ended in acquittals included that of;
• Minister Eric Matinenga who was facing a charge of inciting public violence;
• Deputy Minister Tichaona Mudzingwa who had been accused of attempting to cause disaffection among army personnel after the March 2008 elections;
• MDC-T MP Pearson Mungofa who was also acquitted of attempting to cause disaffection among army personnel after the March elections.
• 11 MDC-T members from Buhera who were facing charges of public violence allegedly committed during the funeral of Susan Tsvangirai.
• Rights lawyers, Roselyn Hanzi and Tawanda Zhuwarara, plus eight  members of the group Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA). They were arrested in February for allegedly participating in an illegal gathering that was bent on breaching the peace, but the magistrate threw out their saying they committed no offence.
These arrests and acquittals of ‘opponents’ are nothing new in Zimbabwe where scores of MDC activists, in particular, have been arrested only to be released after suffering prolonged detention in filthy cells. Human rights lawyers have said people’s lives are disrupted as a result of these unlawful detentions which are used as tools of persecution rather than prosecution. The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights believes that the acquittals “proves that the police continue to effect arbitrary arrests without first carrying out investigations and establishing a reasonable suspicion that crime has been committed.”
This ongoing harassment of civic society, activists and the opposition is a well used tactic by the regime, which is still firmly entrenched despite the ‘unity’ government. The time, energy and money required to take these cases through the legal system, ensures that anyone viewed as opposition, is severely weakened and blocked from being as effective as they could be.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

ICT Minister Chamisa orders Tel One to cut tariffs

By Lance Guma
05 June 2009

Information and Communication Technology Minister Nelson Chamisa has ordered
the government owned Tel One company to slash its high tariff charges and
match billing systems used in other countries in the region. Despite many
workers, especially civil servants, earning just US$100 a month the company's
landline customers have been receiving bills as high as US$1000 per month.

On Thursday Chamisa issued a ministerial order barring Tel One from
terminating services for any defaulting clients until the matter is resolved
by cabinet. He told a media briefing that his ministry was trying to
'investigate' the billing system being used, because they had detected 'very
disturbing trends.' He said Cabinet is due to meet in June to decide on a
new tariff regime and this should be in place before the next billing cycle
in July.

Complicating matters is that there are two issues at stake - high tariff
charges and a distorted billing system. Although the tariffs are due to be
reviewed customers will be worried by the Minister's statement that this
would not be done in retrospect, meaning that customers might still be stuck
with the previous high bills. Chamisa sought to re-assure them by saying
outstanding bills will be 'rationalized' to respect the problems that people
have been going through.

Commenting on the billing system he said there were other 'artificial
elements' brought in by the changes in currency and this led to a
'mischievous conversion from the Zimbabwe dollar to the US dollar.' Chamisa
said the operators were also using old 'mechanical' billing systems instead
of the more modern digital platforms than can measure call charges per
second. This he said contributed to some of the high bills customers were

Chamisa also said the government was worried about the high call charges
being a 'catalyst to inflationary pressures' and this is why they had moved
'swiftly' to intervene. He said the government would also consider new
players in the market in order to enhance quality of service through
competition. 'We will be careful not to undermine the rehabilitating
capacity of the existing players who have really been with us for a long
time,' he added.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

MDC finalises list of nominees for ambassador posts

By Tichaona Sibanda
5 June 2009

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai is reported to have finalised the list of
nominees from his MDC party, who would be appointed ambassadors under the
provisions of the Global Political Agreement.

A highly placed source in the MDC told us that heading the list is Hebson
Makuvise, who has been recommended to be the next ambassador to Germany.
Makuvise is the MDC's chief representative to London and one of the founding
members of the party.

Jacqueline Zwambila, a former advisor to Tsvangirai and last year's MDC
losing parliamentary candidate for Chegutu, is suggested as the ambassador
to Australia. Another party stalwart, Hilda Mafudze, the former MDC MP for
Manyame constituency, could be the country's next ambassador to Sudan, while
little known Khumbulani Mabed from Bulawayo looks at a posting in Nigeria.

The MDC-M is still considering nominating Insiza North MP Siyabonga Malandu,
as ambassador to Senegal, to make room for the MDC-M Vice President Gibson
Sibanda to contest his seat. He is set to lose his ministerial post in the
inclusive government after failing to secure a parliamentary seat within the
stipulated three months of his appointment to cabinet.

Once appointed by Robert Mugabe, the nominees will attend an intensive three
month course on diplomacy, run by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, before
being posted to their stations.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

More must be done to fight Zimbabwe cholera outbreak - UN

5 June 2009 - Although the number of new cholera cases in Zimbabwe is
reportedly on a downward trend, greater efforts are needed to combat the
outbreak and address the source of the problem, the United Nations Office
for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said today.
According to OCHA, local medical authorities had reported that the number of
new cases was down in most provinces, with no new deaths reported, but noted
that new cases are still being reported in Harare, Manicaland and Masvingo

Stepped up efforts are needed in areas which are still reporting high
numbers of new cases, and the problem of the lack of safe water and
sanitation facilities - the main cause of the epidemic - has yet to be
tackled in most parts of the Southern African nation, the Office said.

It also reported that this year's grain production has nearly tripled over
the previous harvest, with an estimated 1.5 million metric tons of grain
having been produced, compared with about 564,000 metric tons harvested in

The increased yield will, however, not meet the country's food requirements,
OCHA warned, noting that a cereal shortfall of 670,000 metric tons will have
to be imported.

The second term of Zimbabwe's school year started last month, but the
situation is still precarious, it stressed, calling for teachers' conditions
of service, especially remuneration, to be addressed to ensure that they
continue working.

Almost half-way through 2009, the Consolidated Appeal for Zimbabwe remains
under-funded with only 36 per cent of the required $718 million covered,
OCHA said. But with requirements outstripping the funds previously sought, a
revised appeal was launched this week for an additional $168 to help some 6
million people in need.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Chinese Team Interested in Supporting Tobacco Farming

5 June 2009

Harare - A DELEGATION sent by the Chinese Export and Import bank, through
the Chinese government has expressed interest in supporting tobacco farming
on about 20 000 hectares in Mashonaland Central.

The delegation, which composed Mr Wei Xinyuan, Mr Wu Xion Wen, Mr You Heping
and Mr Steven Li revealed this after paying a courtesy call at the

Mashonaland Central Governor and Resident Minister's offices here.

The delegation then toured some of the tobacco farms in Mashonaland Central
and the tours are expected to end today.

Mashonaland Central Governor Advocate Martin Dinha said the idea was welcome
there implementation would require a major policy formulation from the
Ministry of Agriculture and other relevant stakeholders before they could
start meaningful progress.

In his response Adv Dinha said the province was excited with the proposal
which comes barely a few weeks after the Chinese Ambassador invited to
identify a Chinese province for twinning.
"The Chinese people are our all weather friends. We have farmers here keen
to see the success of the land reform programme.

"Our area of need is farm mechanisation, inputs support and supply," he

He said the province wished to zero in on tobacco production so that the
country would be able to generate foreign currency.

"I am prepared to support such endeavors that are aimed at uplifting the
welfare of our farmers and their prospects," Adv Dinha revealed.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Women in Zimbabwe: 'We still suffer atrocities'
Women in Zimbabwe: 'We still suffer atrocities'

Friday June 5th 2009

With the European elections currently taking place, some Guardian Weekly readers' thoughts are turning to the voting process in their own country. Patricia Fungisayi Mukubvu-Mwanyisa describes how the voting process in Zimbabwe in 2008 has left Zimbabwean women with "political wounds" and a deep feeling of disempowerment

Friday June 5th 2009

Lead article photo

As part of a Guardian Films investigation into vote rigging in Zimbabwe, a woman colours her finger with a felt tip pen to pretend she has voted in the 2008 elections. Source: Guardian Films

I am the Zimbabwean woman whom so many are frantically trying to help. So much has been said and done about me, but the truth of the matter is that so much more is being said and done to me, to the point where at times I don’t even cry for help – I just whimper and groan privately.

I have become so accustomed to my own groaning that I am now unable to distinguish whether the cause of my suffering is justifiable and a consequence of my choices or whether it is a result of what has been imposed on me by others. I tend to succumb to my plight because I have so many physical, emotional, political, economic, psychological, sexual and social wounds that I when I cry for help and help comes I am semi-conscious because of the pain from my wounds; I am unable to pinpoint exactly where it hurts the most.

In the presence of help my last effort will be to gasp: “Please just help me.” As I drift between a state of consciousness and unconsciousness I reflect on all that has and is being said and done about and to me.

A memory flash takes me back to 2008. The situation at the beginning of the year was one of mixed emotions. There was so much hype in anticipation of the harmonised Parliament and Presidential elections. My opinion of that election was dependent on the kind of day I was having. You see, in those days no one day was the same.

On some days I would go to work for the first two hours of the morning then go about my real business of looking for money to buy the basic commodities necessary for the survival of my family – I will not elaborate on the methods I used to find this money but my formal employment was not one of them.

On other days I would simply not go to work because it was too expensive for me to do so. Some days I would cross the border into neighbouring countries to work, or try my luck buying and selling something, anything. On the days I was sick and could not afford medical attention I would say an extra prayer and stay in my bed waiting on the Almighty’s decision of whether he would grant me another opportunity to get out of bed and fend for my family.

During the days when I was on my sick bed and feeling really poorly, my mother would alternate between my sister’s house and mine to help tend to the children. There were days not so long ago when I could afford to have hired help around the house, but that seems like such a long time ago. If my mother was unavailable then my 10-year-old daughter would have to take charge of the household. I am sure you are wondering where my husband was during all this. Well my husband (bless him) left the country some years ago to look for work but things did work out the way we planned – he was basically out of the picture.

Some of my sisters and I eventually went to vote. The good thing about the March elections it that it was a matter of choice whether you went to vote or not. The same unfortunately cannot be said about the June election. In June 2008, the Presidential rerun (the perpetrator of my largest political wound) is an event that still makes me shiver just at the thought of it.

The routine of my life had not changed much after the March election except for the fact that news was constantly coming to me about the suffering being endured by my sisters, mothers, grandmothers and others in our rural home areas. Fellow women were forced to renege on their usual social activities to accommodate the fixtures of political agendas and I maintain they were forced because their non-attendance would have been wrongly interpreted as allegiance to an opposing political group.

Absence from sanctioned gatherings was enough to warrant disciplinary measures meted out by party loyalists in the form of violent attacks that left us maimed or even killed. The situation robbed us of our right to choose and disregarded the fundamentals of our rights not just as women but as human beings.

The election is long gone, but far from dusted, because I am still nursing the wounds it left. In my conscious state I am fully aware that I am in agony, for these wounds are still very raw and in need of aid. This reality is “the real me”. Real help to me is not in the form of material things, because those are here today and gone tomorrow, but real help is the assurance that all my rights will no longer be violated. Real help is the assurance that perpetrators of violations are dealt with accordingly and laws that are in place to protect my rights are upheld.

The democracy that is enshrined in our national constitution was grossly violated and women, through fear, were forced to attend political rallies and were made to chant political slogans by politicians who disregarded their right to choose whether or not to participate in political activities. This disregard for human rights was not confined to the sanctioned political gatherings – they invaded and hijacked private gatherings such as religious meetings and funerals. Women were mobilised by politicians under the guise of advancing women's participation in politics. The idea to get more women involved in politics is noble and should be encouraged – but it should not supercede the rights of the individual.

Zimbabwean women can hold the highest offices in the country (as is currently demonstrated in the vice offices to the President and the Prime Minister), but what can this achievement do for my sisters and I, if we still suffer atrocities. My plea to my sisters in government and other influential positions is not to let your hard-earned achievements be undermined as part of a mere publicity or public relations campaign. Do not allow yourselves to be hoodwinked into positions of power under the guise of empowerment. Total empowerment comes with real power to influence and change things.

As the real me – an ordinary Zimbabwean woman – I need assurance that when the time comes for the next election I will be allowed to exercise my rights and that the necessary protection will be available to me to ensure that whether I choose to participate or not is entirely within my rights.

• Patricia Fungisayi Mukubvu-Mwanyisa is a Guardian Weekly reader currently living in South Africa. The above piece is not based solely on her own experiences but also that of the typical Zimbabwean woman

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

A letter from the diaspora

Friday 5th June 2009

Dear Friends.
It's not often there's much to smile about in Zimbabwe these days but the
'Flying Witch' story has had me chortling all week. The story originated in
my old hometown of Murehwa; unfortunately, there were no pictures to
accompany the story but one report did show a very small winnowing basket on
which the witch-person was alleged to have travelled. It was a very small
basket and I don't think it would even have been much use for its original
purpose, let alone carrying a full-grown adult. Witches normally travel on a
hyena's back, I thought, but whatever the mode of transport, this particular
witch-person had travelled from Murehwa into Harare on a winnowing basket to
carry out some nefarious purpose. The gallant ZRP- always there when you
need them - had arrested her and she was being charged under the Suppression
of Witchcraft Act - a leftover from colonial times. Various experts in
traditional practices were called to give testimony as to the validity of
the witch-person's claim to have flown from Murehwa but in the midst of the
proceedings the witch-person went into a trance and started to make very
loud and angry hissing noises! Absolute panic in the by now crowded
courtroom as the magistrate called a halt to the proceedings and demanded to
know where the snake noises were coming from! Apparently the Magistrate was
having real difficulty deciding whether the witch-person should be released
on bail because the court could not be entirely certain she wouldn't just
climb in her basket and fly off back to Murehwa! Who knows, next time we
hear of her, the witch-person may be striking a rock and bringing forth US
dollar notes! It was diesel fuel last time and certain credulous Zanu PF
ministers were only too willing to believe that piece of witchcraft.

I was thinking about the Flying Witch as I walked to the Polling Station on
Thursday to cast my vote in the local and EU elections. The place was abuzz
with activity, all under the watchful eye of the British police. The state
of British democracy is nothing to write home about at the moment but at
least all the murky goings-on are out in the open for everyone to see,
thanks to a free press and a genuine Freedom of Information Act. Details of
MP's expenses published on a daily basis have not unnaturally caused a huge
wave of anger in the British public which will certainly be revealed to the
Labour Party's detriment as the election results come in. As I said last
week, that's how democracy works; if the people lose faith in the government
they elected, then they can demonstrate their disapproval when voting time
comes round again. For that system to work, of course, you need free and
fair elections - which brings me neatly back to Zimbabwe. As Morgan
Tsvangirai and his high-powered delegation prepare to travel to Europe and
the US to persuade them to drop sanctions and rescue the bankrupt country,
ordinary Zimbabweans are wondering why their lives have not substantially
improved in the 100+ days since the GNU has been in existence. One reason
for the people's understandable confusion is the contradictory voices coming
from within the MDC itself. Last Sunday, for example, the Prime Minister
gave his own supporters a frank admission that the government which he leads
has not been able fully enforce the rule of law. Political intimidation and
human rights abuses continue in Zimbabwe, he admitted Not two days later, an
upbeat Prime Minister was telling the BBC that "the period of acrimony is
over." If that is the case, how does Morgan Tsvangirai explain why Zanu PF
supporters and war vets continue to attack MDC members with the ZRP doing
nothing to prevent these violent attacks. Local chiefs are still punishing
villagers for their support of the former opposition party. That doesn't
sound as if 'the acrimony is over'. How does the PM explain why lawyers and
human rights activists continue to be intimidated and imprisoned on trumped
up charges if " the acrimony is over" Are we to believe that Mugabe is a
changed man, that he has seen the error of his ways in his old age? Mugabe
is a typical Victorian gentleman, the Minister of Finance tells an
interviewer. When you meet him, said Tendai Biti, it's hard to believe that
this is the man the MDC has been fighting for so long, with his beautiful
British manners, just like a Victorian gentleman. "He deserves a knighthood"
Biti adds. Commentators are suggesting that Biti's comments were 'tongue in
cheek' Well, perhaps, but to me it suggests that the well-known Mugabe charm
has once again worked its magic - or do I mean witchcraft? Good manners were
certainly a pre-requisite of Victorian gentlemen but that did not make them
any less ruthless as they marched into Africa and claimed it for themselves,
rather like Mugabe has done to Zimbabwe.

It's very hard for ordinary Zimbabweans to understand the MDC leadership's
repeated attempts to make Mugabe sound good. They seem to have forgotten why
the country is in such a parlous state and who caused all the ruin and decay
in the first place. Perhaps they have made a deal with him, could it be
that? 'Get rid of sanctions for me, promise not to prosecute me for crimes
against humanity and I'll go quietly into retirement.' Could it be that?
Witches might fly!
Yours in the (continuing) struggle PH

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zimbabwe Business Watch : Week 23

June 5th, 2009

The surge of investor interest continues against the background of the
frustrations of local business that struggles to overcome the negative
legacies of the Gono era.

More and more employer organizations and industrial groups as well as
prominent individuals are becoming outspoken in their criticism of failed
economic policies. Some industries are beginning to respond to the
incentives of the Transitional Government and those that have external lines
of credit are expanding rapidly. Sadly this affects only a small percentage
of companies but it does indicate that the potential for growth is there.

Another large mining group has commenced operations and will be employing a
further 200 workers. This is a direct response to the Minister of Finance's
instruction that gold mines are to retain their export earnings which
previously disappeared into the coffers of the Reserve Bank, sometimes never
to be seen again.

The cash (forex) crisis is digging deeper and many companies have been
unable to pay their staff and workers for a number of months and many others
are working on short time. Business looks hopefully in the direction of the
Government that is striving to restore stability and credibility in an
atmosphere of uncooperation and lack of team work.

Posted by Sokwanele

Back to the Top
Back to Index