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Zimbabwe PM takes first step in re-engagement

Jun 7, 9:50 AM EDT

Associated Press Writer

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) -- Zimbabwe Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai
launched a three-week trip to the West on Sunday saying he is seeking
re-engagement, not touring with a "begging bowl" asking for aid.

Western leaders have long isolated Zimbabwe, accusing President Robert
Mugabe of trampling on democracy and ruining a once-vibrant economy.

Mugabe is still in power as part of the coalition Tsvangirai joined in

In a clear signal that the European Union is going to keep pressure on the
government Tsvangirai leads, Dutch Development Aid Minister Bert Koenders
said the bloc wants to see clear progress on human rights, the reining in of
security services and reforming the country's central bank before resuming

"It is the agreement of the parties in Zimbabwe itself regarding human
rights, security, regarding economic policy, regarding land survey that
forms the basis for our future support," Koenders told reporters after
meeting Tsvangirai in The Hague.

Tsvangirai said he hopes to get the green light for a new round of talks
with the European Union at the end of his trip to discuss reforms and future

"I did not come here with a begging bowl. Re-engagement is a process," he
told reporters after meeting Koenders. "We have been isolated for the last
10 years and re-engagement means ... our cooperation partners need to
understand what we are doing ... and we also have to understand the concerns
of our partners."

Tsvangirai's spokesman James Maridadi told The Associated Press that
Tsvangirai next travels to the United States and plans to meet President
Barack Obama on Friday. He also will meet officials at the World Bank and
International Monetary Fund before returning to Europe.

The Netherlands has long been a staunch supporter of human rights in
Zimbabwe. This year it will hand over euro15 million (US$21.27 million) in
emergency aid and last year Tsvangirai sought refuge in the Dutch embassy in
Harare amid election violence.

Mugabe blames Western sanctions for his nation's economic meltdown, charges
repeatedly dismissed by the United States and Britain, the former colonial

Both Tsvangirai and his finance minister, Tendai Biti, have urged the West
to lift what they called "restrictive measures" against Zimbabwe now that a
coalition government was making progress toward economic and democratic

Western donors and financial institutions, however, say reforms have not
gone far enough as disputes over key government posts and violent seizures
of white-owned farms continue to plague the coalition.

Attempts by the Tsvangirai side of the coalition to scrap sweeping media and
security laws to allow for freedom of expression and movement have made
little headway. Tsvangirai acknowledged at his party convention last weekend
Mugabe hard-liners were obstructing a return to the rule of law.

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Dutch tell Tsvangirai more aid depends on reforms

Sun Jun 7, 2009 12:55pm GMT

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Zimbabwe must adopt economic, political and social
reforms before getting any additional aid from the Netherlands, the Dutch
government told Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai during his visit
here on Sunday.

Tsvangirai was in the Netherlands on the first leg of a trip to seek
financial aid for the southern African country whose economic crisis many
critics blame on veteran Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe. He and
Tsvangirai formed a unity government in February after an electoral

Tsvangirai, who will visit Britain, France, Sweden and Brussels, seat of the
27-nation European Union, met Dutch Development Cooperation Minister Bert
Koenders and will meet Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende on Monday.

He is also scheduled to meet U.S. President Barack Obama during a four-day
trip to Washington.

"We have big problems but they are not insoluble," Tsvangirai told Koenders.

The Dutch have already promised 14.7 million euros in aid to Zimbabwe,
mainly for humanitarian efforts and Koenders told Tsvangirai that the
Netherlands would be willing to consider more for human rights issues.

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Mugabe takes helm of Africa's main trade bloc

Sun Jun 7, 6:15 am ET
VICTORIA FALLS, Zimbabwe (AFP) - Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe on Sunday
took over the helm of Africa's main trading bloc as his country seeks to
emerge from an economic meltdown.

"History is replete with examples that show that this (regional integration)
is the only way to make a real progress as no country can develop in
isolation," Mugabe told a summit of leaders from the 19-member Common Market
for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA).

The 85-year-old leader said more trade and investment allowed for greater
circulation of knowledge and skills.

"Regional economic integration is our strategy of achieving this objective."

Once a dynamic country, Zimbabwe's economy has contracted by more than 45
percent over the past decade as a result of political and economic

The former British colony has been hit by food shortages and the world's
highest inflation rate.

A senior official said Thursday that COMESA was preparing a financial rescue
package for Zimbabwe.

COMESA members meeting in the resort town of Victoria Falls are set to
launch a customs union on Sunday to facilitate the free movement of goods in
the region.

Among the heads of state in attendance are Sudan's President Omar al-Beshir,
who faces an international arrest warrant for war crimes, and ousted
Madagascan leader Marc Ravalomanana.

Under the deal, the 19 countries in the Common Market for Eastern and
Southern Africa (COMESA) will impose the same tariffs on goods from outside
the region.

Raw materials and capital goods will travel across borders without tariffs,
while intermediate products will be taxed at 10 percent and finished goods
at 25 percent.

Most countries have also lifted visa restrictions on travel within the bloc,
with members ranging from tourist hotspot Egypt to some of the world's
poorest and most conflict-torn nations, like the Democratic Republic of

The COMESA region is home to 400 million people, with a combined gross
domestic product of 360 billion dollars.

Mugabe took over the COMESA chairmanship from Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki.

COMESA consists of Burundi, Comoros, the Democratic Republic of Congo,
Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi,
Mauritius, Rwanda, Seychelles, Sudan, Swaziland, Uganda, Zambia and

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Mugabe calls for self-reliance, end to conflicts

Sun Jun 7, 2009 12:38pm GMT
By MacDonald Dzirutwe
VICTORIA FALLS (Reuters) - Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe on Sunday
urged African countries to end conflicts and increase self-reliance to boost
development on the world's poorest continent.

Opening a two-day summit of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern
Africa (COMESA), Mugabe said member states must put money into the group's
COMESA Fund to help cut dependence on foreign assistance.

"Let us contribute our own resources to the fund which can enable us to
finance infrastructural development without any strings attached," he said.

Seven heads of state and government are at the summit.

Mugabe, who took over the helm of Africa's largest trading bloc in Africa,
said the continent must raise its industrial capacity by exploiting its
mineral resources, rich soils and human skills.

Without mentioning any country by name, Mugabe also said Africa had to
confront conflicts to realise its potential.

"Conflict is a serious cancer in our region," he said, adding it was
adversely affecting Africa's economic development.

"Let us make Africa a continent of opportunity for all its people by
eliminating conflict," he added.

The summit, in the resort town of Victoria Falls, will launch a customs
union for its 19 member states stretching from Swaziland in the south to
Egypt in the north, under which the member states will impose the same
tariffs on goods from outside the region.

But Zimbabwe, whose industry has been hit hard by years of hyperinflation
and economic contraction, is unlikely to immediately benefit from the union.

Mugabe's new unity government with rival Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai is
battling to raise funds for its $8.3 billion recovery programme. So far, the
administration has raised over $1 billion in credit lines for the private
sector from African institutions, including COMESA.

On Sunday, Mugabe urged business leaders to explore investment opportunities
in the region.

He said while Africa had made some significant economic progress, it was
lagging behind other continents in developing its transport network, energy
and power generation, water resources, education and health facilities.

Housing and general industrial capacity also needed attention, he said.

"We have serious challenges ahead of us," Mugabe said.

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni said: "The world is in recession and we
need to find ways to survive."

The summit is also attended by Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and by
ousted Madagascan leader Marc Ravalomanana who lost power in a
military-backed opposition revolt. The International Criminal Court (ICC)
has issued an arrest warrant for Bashir for alleged war crimes in Darfur.

Analysts say Bashir's presence at the Victoria Falls summit could divert
attention from the first big international event held under Zimbabwe's new
unity government.

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Zuma rekindles ZAPU alliance
07/06/2009 00:00:00
by Lindie Whiz

SOUTH African President Jacob Zuma has moved to recognise the re-emergence of the Zimbabwe African People’s Union (ZAPU) by inviting the party’s leadership to his home-coming celebrations at his rural Nkandla on Saturday.


ZAPU donated two beasts to Zuma at the massive party attended by some 20,000 people.


Zuma, elected as South Africa’s new leader in April, said ZAPU was a strong ally of the South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC).


The South Africa leader also thanked ZAPU for helping the ANC during the liberation struggle, the South Africa Press Association (Sapa) reported.

ZAPU joined President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF party in 1987 in a unity pact to end five years of government-sanctioned killings in the south western parts of the country where Joshua Nkomo’s supporters were targeted.

The uneasy partnership with Zanu PF ended last month after ZAPU’s congress in Bulawayo voted to pull out.

ZAPU’s interim chairman Dumiso Dabengwa was at Zuma’s inauguration on May 9. The two men also met in Bulawayo in December when Zuma attended his daughter’s wedding.

The ZAPU-ANC alliance was founded in the mid to late 1960s. The ANC’s military wing Umkhonto Wesizwe assisted ZAPU with military strategy (read ANC-ZAPU armed actions in Rhodesia).

Both ZAPU and the ANC were supported by the Soviet Union during the two countries’ struggle for independence from white minority rule.

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Parliament passes controversial Bill

June 7, 2009

Harare (AFP) - Zimbabwe's Parliament on Tuesday approved a widely condemned
Bill that seeks to stop white farmers from challenging land seizures in
court and to curtail the travel and voting rights of those without full
citizenship.The Bill was passed by 103 votes against 29 in the 210-member

Introducing the Bill in Parliament, Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa said
the amendments would bring to a full circle Zimbabwe's war against British
colonial rule which culminated in independence in 1980.

"This amendment will conclude the Third Chimurenga (war of liberation in the
Shona language) and the process of decolonisation," he said.

"It's my hope that the process will be concluded with honesty and

The Bill will also disenfranchise all those who have one or more foreign
parents and hold permanent residence status but not full citizenship.

Another provision stipulates that anybody deemed anti-national will not be
allowed to travel abroad.

Chinamasa defended the Bill, saying: "It's not morally right and patriotic
for any Zimbabwean to gallivant the world on a Zimbabwean passport asking
for a military invasion of Zimbabwe or the imposition of official and
unofficial sanctions."

The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party denounced the Bill, saying
the ruling Zanu-PF party was doing as it pleased.

"They want to curtail our freedom," Welshman Ncube secretary general of the
Arthur Mutambara lead MDC told AFP. "This is the rape of democracy."

Leslie George, a member of the all-white Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) said
the Bill would "effectively suspend the rule of law, undermine the judiciary
and will be a blow to investor confidence".

Another CFU member said on condition of anonymity that it would merely
legalise and encourage widespread looting of the productive sector in
Zimbabwe which would lead to further unemployment and crime.

He said: "It will also legitimise a campaign of ethnic cleansing against the
productive Euro-African sector as part of a political campaign to eliminate
all forms of opposition or perceived opposition against the ruling party."

Zimbabwe's land reforms, which have often been violent, started in 2000
after the rejection in a referendum of a government-sponsored draft
constitution. About 4 000 white farmers have since lost their properties.

The land has been redistributed to landless blacks in a move that the
government has said is designed to correct imbalances created by previous
colonial administrations, when the majority of prime farmland was owned by
about 4 500 whites.

A committee of law-makers, who consulted interested parties three weeks ago,
has urged Parliament to amend the clause on farm seizures to allow aggrieved
farmers to seek redress in court.

"It would be in furtherance of the tenets of natural justice that any
aggrieved person be given the right to approach the courts for arbitration
where there is a dispute," the committee said in a report to Parliament.

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ZIMBABWE: Looted money returned to universities
07 June 2009
Issue: 0079

The Governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, Gideon Gono, has reimbursed foreign currency looted from university accounts in a development that has also seen him fall out with the country's Finance Minister Tendai Biti. Gono has accused Biti of being behind threats to have his children expelled from foreign universities.

University World News reported on 3 May that the Reserve Bank
had raided foreign currency accounts belonging to three universities as well as those of foreign non-governmental organisations last year. The money was used to prop up the regime of President Robert Mugabe, who was on the verge of losing power following a political and economic crisis that had brought the country to its knees.

In April, the central bank chief conceded he had raided university and NGO foreign currency accounts but defended the move as necessary to save Mugabe's cash-strapped government from collapsing.

Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Stan Mudenge, told parliament last month the central bank had repaid all funds taken from university accounts. He said he had documentary proof of the money's repayment but did not reveal the amounts involved.

One of the institutions whose funds were looted was Africa University, a Methodist-related private institution. It did not respond to questions on the funds stolen.

The looting of the funds and other quasi-fiscal activities by Gono led to public clashes between him and Biti, who was appointed under a power-sharing agreement between Mugabe and Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai, now Prime Minister. Biti, a lawyer, is Secretary-General of the MDC.

The clashes prompted Gono to write a letter to Tsvangirai seeking his intervention in the matter. Gono claimed that verbal attacks on him by the Finance Minister had resulted in foreign universities his children were attending had threatened to expel them.

Gono alleged that at a campaign rally in Masvingo last year Biti had called him names and accused him of "being at the epicentre of the Zanu-PF terror economic saboteur, terrorist and number one Al-Qaeda who deserves to be shot by a firing squad".

He said in the letter that after his three children were "unceremoniously expelled" from Australia before Tsvanvirai's visit to that country in 2006, they lost two years of university education.

When his children enrolled in new universities, "they found themselves being called on to explain how their father is allegedly associated with the Al-Qaeda terrorist organisation, with the threat of further expulsion from their new university if the allegations were not refuted".

"Who among us parents can stomach such misfortune if directed at their own children?" he said.

Gono's children were expelled from Australian universities after the Australian government decided to deport all children whose parents had close links with Mugabe. Also expelled were the children of the Commissioner General of Police and the Defence Minister.

Mugabe and his inner circle, including Gono, are subject to travel restrictions and an asset freeze by the European Union, Australia and the United States because of their appalling human rights record.

Tsvangirai's response to Gono's letter was that he would continue to push for the central bank governor's removal from the post. His and Biti's calls for Gono to step down have been emboldened by donor agencies and the decision by countries such as Britain not to channel aid through the central bank or any other government system before reforms are initiated - at a time when the Zimbabwean government desperately needs external funding to function.

Last week, Mugabe said Gono would not be relieved of his duties as he had saved the country during a difficult period.

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Witchcraft case: Woman gets suspended sentence

From The Herald, 5 June

Herald Reporter

The case of the Murehwa woman who claimed she "flew naked in a winnowing
basket" from Murehwa on a mission to kill a relative in Highfield through
witchcraft ended in the Harare Magistrates' Courts yesterday with little of
the melodrama that characterised its beginning last week. Magistrate Mr
Mishrod Guvamombe sentenced Regina Sveto (21) to a wholly suspended one-year
sentence, and ordered her to seek help to recover from the spell apparently
cast on her by her father-in-law. When the trial opened, Mr Guvamombe sought
expert advice from the Zimbabwe National Healers' Association as well as
Chief Jonathan Mangwende's opinion on the allegations levelled against
Sveto. After listening to the chief's plea for leniency, Mr Guvamombe gave
Sveto a wholly suspended one-year prison sentence.

Sveto was found naked outside her brother-in-law's house in Highfield early
on Sunday morning last week. She claimed she had been hired by her
father-in-law to kill her brother-in-law. Mr Guvamombe said the court had,
in mitigation, taken note of Sveto's age and the fact that she was a first
offender who had not wasted the court's time and had shown remorse. Sveto
also has a young child. "Judging from the evidence given to this court, the
accused is also a victim who was being used by a relative," said Mr
Guvamombe. "A custodial sentence will, therefore, result in a miscarriage of
justice. Community service will expose the accused to ridicule from the
public, while a fine will trivialise the crime. A wholly suspended prison
term will bring justice in this case. In arriving at this sentence, I have
also taken into account the stigma that, in my view, is additional
punishment for the accused. I, therefore, give you 12 months' imprisonment
wholly suspended for five years on condition that you will not commit a
similar offence of which you will be committed to prison without trial," he

Mr Guvamombe urged Sveto's family and relatives to help her reintegrate into
society. Chief Mangwende said since Sveto had pleaded guilty, she would be
brought to the Chief's Court where, as in such cases, she would be ordered
to pay the fine of a cow. "As chief, and not a wizard, I don't know what
should be done to appease the accused, but I recommend that she be helped.
Someone who is going to appease her must inform me first and should do it on
the open. We are supposed to see and understand the cleansing process," he
said. Chief Mangwende said he could not recommend anyone to cleanse her, but
the accused had to find her own appeaser. "It is upon the individual to seek
an appeaser of her own. But if she is released by the court, everyone must
appreciate it and help in the integration," he said.

Sveto's husband, Mr Collin Zemba, and his cousin, Mr Tobias Zemba, the
apparent target of Sveto's mission, pleaded the with court to be lenient
with her, as they intended to do everything in their power to assist in the
appeasement of the evil spirits. The case attracted a lot of interest from
the public who filled the courtroom to hear the proceedings and take a
glimpse of the woman. During sentencing, Sveto went into a trance again
while in the dock. She regained her composure after guards rubbed salt on
her face and hands. Asked by the magistrate what she could ask from her
chief and the court, Sveto said: "When the court has pardoned me, are there
any measures I could take against my father-in-law for the humiliation he
has caused me in society, considering my age?" Prosecutor Austin Muzive had
urged the court to impose a non-custodial sentence. Sveto claimed to have
travelled "supernaturally" in a winnowing basket (rusero) from a Murehwa
village to kill her brother-in-law but was caught at a Highfield house,
leading to her arrest. She said she was under the instruction of her
father-in-law to bewitch Mr Tobias Zemba.

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Zimbabwe Vigil Diary – 6th June 2009

The Vigil gave a great pom pom to a man who ran 26.2 miles for us.  He is Steve Garvey who ran the London Marathon in 3 hours 26 minutes to raise funds for the Vigil. Steve, a teacher at the Dolphin School in South London, came to the Vigil some months ago with some of his pupils (8 – 9 year olds). Steve invited the Vigil to send someone to speak to his class and Vigil management team member Fungayi Mabhunu took up the challenge. He spoke of the conditions in Zimbabwe and the struggles of school children there. The response was a fundraising effort which is set to raise £1100.


 Apart from the sponsorship of Steve’s run, his Dolphin pupils raised money themselves by such methods as a sponsored maths test! One boy raised £260 on his own. Steve was raised shoulder-high by Vigil supporters when he came to deliver the major part of this generous gift.  He said he was really humbled by how he was received -- to which Vigil Co-ordinator Rose Benton said the Vigil was really humbled by his efforts on our behalf.  It is planned that the money will go to some specific educational project in Zimbabwe with which the children of Dolphin school can feel a personal involvement and perhaps establish penfriends.


While on the subject of education, our partner organisation, Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe, have held workshops in Midlands and Bulawayo. From these workshops they have identified the need to go into rural areas to educate people on their human rights to empower them to contribute to national healing. As Gweru City father, Willie Muringani, said: “I’m appealing to ROHR that meetings of this nature should be taken out in the rural areas, where there are a lot of people there who need to be opened up”. For more information:


As always there was much discussion at the Vigil about the situation at home and people were disturbed at reports that two Zanu-PF ministers may be included in Morgan Tsvangirai’s entourage when he visits the UK later this month. They are Foreign Minister Simbarashe Mumbengengwi and the Minister of Mines Obert Mpofu, both of whom are subject to travel sanctions because they are key supporters of the Mugabe regime.  The Vigil is puzzled why Tsvangirai should think that bringing these people would encourage the UK to further loosen its purse strings.  The two Mugabe cronies should be worried about the prospect of a citizen’s arrest if they set foot in the UK. We would like to send them to the International Criminal Court in the Hague


We would like to give our grateful thanks to the Red Cross who have stepped in to feed the starving prisoners in Zimbabwe.  Many people who pass by the Vigil stop to look at our pictures of starving prisoners and express their horror.


For latest Vigil pictures check:


FOR THE RECORD:  189 signed the register.



·        Service of solidarity with the torture survivors of Zimbabwe.  Friday 26th June from 7 – 8 pm. Venue: Southwark Cathedral. This is the 8th year the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum has marked UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. For more information, visit:

·        Zimbabwe Vigil Forum. Saturday 27th June at 6.30 pm. Upstairs at the Theodore Bullfrog, John Adam Street, London WC2N 6HL.

·        ROHR Leeds general meeting. Saturday 27th June from 1.30 – 5.30 pm. Venue: Dock Green Inn, Leeds LS9 7AB. Contact: Wonder M Mubaiwa 07958758568, Donna Mugoni 07533259373 or B Sikosana 07940181761.

·        Zimbabwe Vigil Forum. Saturday 25th July at 6.30 pm. Upstairs at the Theodore Bullfrog, John Adam Street, London WC2N 6HL.

·        Zimbabwe Association’s Women’s Weekly Drop-in Centre. Fridays 10.30 am – 4 pm. Venue: The Fire Station Community and ICT Centre, 84 Mayton Street, London N7 6QT, Tel: 020 7607 9764. Nearest underground: Finsbury Park. For more information contact the Zimbabwe Association 020 7549 0355 (open Tuesdays and Thursdays).


Vigil Co-ordinators

The Vigil, outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, 429 Strand, London, takes place every Saturday from 14.00 to 18.00 to protest against gross violations of human rights in Zimbabwe. The Vigil which started in October 2002 will continue until internationally-monitored, free and fair elections are held in Zimbabwe. 


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