soldiers are being accused of having seriously assaulted some of the
suspected 70 mercenaries who were captured at Harare International Airport a
fortnight ago amid unsubstantiated reports that some of them might even have
been tortured, The Standard has learnt.
Investigations by this newspaper
revealed that the 69, plus Simon Mann who was "arrested" after attempting to
meet them at the airport, were taken to police stations all over Mashonaland
as part of State efforts to make them confess.
Sources said they
were assaulted after capture at the airport and when they were taken from the
airport but there is no evidence that they were tortured at Chikurubi Maximum
Their lawyers have complained that they were not allowed to see
any of the 70 in private "to take full instructions".
According to an
urgent chamber application filed by Harare lawyer Jonathan Samkange, who is
representing all the suspected 70 mercenaries, in the High Court yesterday,
it has not been possible - because of the presence of Zimbabwean security and
prison officers - to ascertain whether they were
"Throughout this period, either I or my colleagues have
not been able to consult with any of the applicants in private and without
the presence of the authorities," says the affidavit from Samkange.
continues: "The result is that not one of the applicants has been in
a position to confide in us with regards to possible ill
Samkange, who is being instructed by two South African
lawyers Advocate Joubert and Arwin Griebenow, was late yesterday frantically
trying to stop moves by the State to have the suspected mercenaries appear
for initial remand at Chikurubi Maximum Prison, arguing that justice would be
better served if they were tried in an open court.
emerged yesterday that Zimbabwe now wants to charge the 70 of conspiring to
murder Equatorial Guinea strongman Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, among a
host of other possible charges that are being cobbled up by the Attorney
The State wants the 70 to be charged, among many other
charges, with breaching two United Nations' Resolutions against terrorism in
what their lawyers say is a clear sign of the desperation to find a charge
that will "stick."
The suspected mercenaries are now facing six
charges under the Public Order and Security Act (Posa), Immigration Act,
Illegal Acquisition of Fire Arms, Foreign Subversive Organisation Act and
possession of dangerous weapons.
They are now being charged of conspiring
to murder the President of Equatorial Guinea as well as contravening the
United Nations' Resolution 1373 (2001) and 1456 of 2003.
resolutions bind parties to take urgent action to prevent and suppress all
active and passive support to terrorism and any acts
Samkange of Byron Venturas and Partners, who is
representing the alleged coup plotters who have so far spent 13 days in
custody, said the new charges were a clear sign of desperation by the
"It is not a criminal offence to breach a UN resolution unless it
is ratified by our Parliament," said Samkange.
"I don't even want to
know what the resolutions say . I don't need to read them. The State is
desperate. It is being mislead by some 'law experts' who want to get the post
of Attorney General," he said.
Samkange said the charges against his
clients were a form of harassment but warned that the State was going to be
embarrassed in court.
As from tomorrow, the continued detention of the
suspected mercenaries would become illegal as Zimbabwe's Immigration Act
allows suspects to be held for a maximum of 14 days.
"Its no longer
possible for them to be brought to court today (Saturday) which means by
Monday their detention would be illegal," said Samkange,.
acting Attorney General Barat Patel said he did not know when the suspected
mercenaries would be brought to court.
"The defence do not want their
clients to be tried at Chikurubi, so I don't know when they will appear in
court," said Patel.
Bankers now call for an amnesty By Rangarirai
ZIMBABWEAN bankers, stunned cold by the closure of two banks within
four days, are calling for an "amnesty" period from central bank Governor
Gideon Gono. Senior bank executives last week began raising white flags to
the Governor, proposing that he temporarily let up on his campaign to shut
down illiquid banks.
"I think lessons have been learnt. It's now time
for us - all of us - to step back and say let us have a period in which to
clean things up," a leading bank executive said last week, requesting
Kingdom Financial Holdings founder and deputy chairman
Nigel Chanakira confirmed to StandardBusiness on Wednesday that bankers were
indeed seeking reprieve.
"In the end, it's all up to Governor Gideon
Gono to decide how to react to these calls," Chanakira said.
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe announced last Friday it had shut down
three subsidiaries of Intermarket Holdings, and on Monday, central bank
officials moved in on Barbican, closing the new commercial banking subsidiary
and the asset management arm of the bank.
The double hit pummeled the
sector to perhaps its lowest point since the crackdown began January, and
banking officials now say they are seeking a cool off period to help restore
respectability and rebuild heavily depleted public confidence in black
"What we propose is that banks be given a time period in which
they will be required to make strict disclosures to the RBZ - assets,
investments, liquidity positions, everything," another bank executive
Bankers' Association of Zimbabwe president Washington Matsaira
could not be reached for comment.
Executives said they had been
particularly shocked by Monday's action against Barbican, saying it had been
largely unexpected. StandardBusiness however understands that the Zimbabwe
Stock Exchange had as early as January warned regulatory officials about the
unsatisfactory business practices at the bank.
Central bank says
Barbican, led by Mthuli Ncube, was placed under curatorship upon discovery of
"critical under-capitalisation, poor corporate governance practices and
violations of Exchange Control Regulations".
Intermarket's closure put at
risk the life savings of thousands of mostly low-income depositors, adding a
new chapter to a shake-up that had previously seemed to exclusively affect
Within a frantic three months, Gono's policies have seen
management changes at Trust - the country's largest bank by assets - Century
and Intermarket, the closure of the Intermarket divisions and Barbican. The
RBZ has also shut down ENG Capital's Century Discount House.
bankers now seek a ceasefire to begin the task of rebuilding shattered public
confidence in banks.
However, bankers' pleas for a moratorium are
unlikely to get a favourable ear from central bank, where Gono recently
pruned his team to give it even more speed against delinquent
Gono, who recently assumed the role of licensing banks, has said
Zimbabwe was already over-banked, pledging to block all of the 25 fresh
applications for banking licenses currently with the registrar of
Gono is said to be looking to cut the ranks of existing banks to
around 12, or even lower, which he believes would be easier to manage.
BULAWAYO - THE Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) has deployed heavily
armed soldiers to seal off all domestic airports in the country for fear of
a possible attack from so-called mercenaries and terrorists.
sources revealed that soldiers are closely guarding airports at Victoria
Falls, Hwange National Park, Buffalo Range in Chiredzi, Kariba and Bulawayo's
Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo.
"It is true that soldiers have been deployed
here but they have nothing to do with the travel of tourists. They are
basically there to do their job of securing the terminals.
"We, as the
Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) are also doing our work without
interfering with the soldiers," said an official at Hwange airport.
Kariba, another CAAZ employee, who asked for anonymity for fear
of victimisation, said there were soldiers at the terminal but pointed out
that they were just manning the area.
A soldier from Chiredzi's
Buffalo Range Airport, who also requested anonymity, said they were now more
of them guarding the airport in the Lowveld.
"Remember this is the
area in which the MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai used when he escaped the
road blocks while coming from South Africa, so we are heavily armed and
making routine checks."
He added: "After all we have a base at the
Buffalo Range Airport, so there is nothing sinister about soldiers being
deployed in all domestic airports when the country is under threat from
ZNA spokesperson, Mbonisi Gatsheni, declined to comment on
the matter saying he was off duty before referring The Standard to a
Lieutenant Colonel Ben Ncube, who could not be reached on his mobile.
Chombo spells out governors' role By our
BULAWAYO - The Minister of Local Government, National
Housing and Public Works, Ignatius Chombo, last week visited Bulawayo MDC
Executive Mayor Japhet Ndabeni-Ncube in the company of the newly appointed
Zanu PF Bulawayo Province Governor Cain Mathema to outline the two's
Complicating the rare visit to the Bulawayo Large City Hall
and raising suspicion among residents, Chombo is reported to have brought
with him a group of war veterans and Zanu PF youths, whose presence did not
go down well with the MDC city fathers.
"Basically, I did
not understand why the minister chose to come with war veterans and some Zanu
PF youths at the gallery. I don't really understand as to whether the war
veterans wanted to instil fear in me or not but overall minister Chombo's
speech was not all bad," said Ndabeni-Ncube in an interview with The
According to Ndabeni-Ncube, Chombo was at pains to
explain the functions of the governor and the role of the mayor in one city
with the same boundaries.
"Chombo said I should be responsible
for administering civic affairs while the Governor (Mathema) will be
responsible for local government issues as well as articulating Zanu PF
government policies," said Ndabeni-Ncube.
The mayor made his
intentions clear when he said he would work with Mathema if he does not
encroach in his responsibilities.
Meanwhile, the political
appointment of Mathema as the new governor for the Bulawayo province did not
go down well with the opposition MDC who condemned the move as aimed at
silencing their mayor who was voted into office by the majority.
"Surely, how can Bulawayo and Harare have governors when we have the mayors
already. This is a very clear indication that Zanu PF is not comfortable with
the overwhelming support MDC is enjoying in the two big cities and the whole
of Matabeleland region.
'Firstly, the appointment of governors in
Bulawayo and Harare was unconstitutional, as there is no provision whatsoever
in the current constitution that speaks about governors for the two cities,'
said MDC national executive official Eddie Cross.
He added that
the MDC would do away with the positions if it comes to power.
"These two posts are just there to waste the taxpayers' [item
Zengeza candidates urge supporters to shun violence By
DESPITE pledges by candidates in the Zengeza by
election to rein in their supporters, incidents of violence are still being
recorded daily in the volatile constituency amid accusations that police are
This emerged yesterday at a multi-party liaison meeting
convened by the Electoral Supervisory Commission at Chitungwiza Community
The peaceful meeting at which the politicians gave
each other chances to speak as they tried to map the way forward, was in
total contrast to what has been reported on the ground where Zanu PF and MDC
supporters have allegedly been engaged in running battles.
candidates from different parties contesting, except for MDC's James Makore,
were present at the meeting where questions were raised pertaining to the
commitment of the leaders to a free and non-violent campaign for the vacant
Bennie Tumbare Mutasa, the Member of Parliament for Seke,
who represented the MDC delegation, said people should not take such a
meeting for granted.
"People should always know that there is life after
politics. Only last week, I actually read a flier written 'Beware of
Commando' but we come here and discuss that we should campaign peacefully.
What commando is being talked about? Are we in a war? We, as the leaders need
to stand by what we promise and say that in front of the people," said
He added that some careless statements from the leadership were
fueling the violence.
However, Zanu PF's Christopher Chigumba said
there were some incidents where he felt the MDC was provoking the
"We are committed to peaceful elections but there are some
statements from the MDC that are very provocative and I feel that should be
stopped if we are to have no violence in this area. The blowing of whistles
might also be very provocative and something needs to be done about it" said
He added that there were some unruly elements in society such
as thieves who were taking advantage of the political environment to carry
out their nefarious activities.
"Thieves are taking advantage of the
political environment to do their criminal activities," he said calling for a
heavy police presence next week until after the elections.
are going to meet again on Tuesday for evaluations.
MASVINGO - Overzealous State security agents on Friday attempted to
disrupt the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ) meeting at the Great Zimbabwe
Hotel citing the union's lack of police clearance as required under the
notorious Public Order and Security Act (POSA).
officers, suspected to be from the dreaded CIO, threatened to close down the
three-day ZUJ workshop unless they were allowed access to gather
intelligence.The three - only identified as Makombe, Kunyoka and Shambira -
however abandoned their mission after establishing that the union 's meeting
had no political connotations as they had presumed.
The meeting had
been called to elect new office bearers into ZUJ. Foster Dongozi was elected
new ZUJ secretary general, defeating former acting secretary general, Brian
Mangwende of The Financial Gazette by a wide margin. Standard arts editor
Henry Makiwa was elected committee member.
Shocking bills as ZESA hikes tariffs by 400% By Kumbirai
MANY companies and households last month received shocking
electricity bills after the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA), the
country's sole electricity supplier, hiked electricity tariffs by up to 400
ZESA did not communicate the electricity increases to consumers
leaving many households and firms in trouble because electricity was cut off
from their homes and premises for non-payment.
scandalous bills from ZESA which amounted to about $1 million. Moreover they
came to disconnect our supplies despite the fact that they had not warned
us," said an outraged James Chikura, a resident of Chitungwiza.
month the cash-strapped ZESA said it had increased tariffs with immediate
effect. ZESA has in the past failed to pay its foreign creditors owing to a
crippling foreign currency shortage that has dogged the country since
Some customers told The Standard that they were forced to pay
the electricity supplier huge reconnection fees after their premises
were disconnected for non-payment.
Tenants at One Kwame Nkrumah
Avenue, where The Standard offices are located, were some of those
One Kwame Nkrumah Avenue Owners' Association Chairman Alen
McCormick said his association was stunned when it received February
electricity bills that amounted to a staggering $30 million.
association's account for December stood at $800 000 before shooting up to
$5,2 million in January.
The January bill was $6 970 000 including an
extra deposit charged by the electricity supplier.
Then came the shock
of it all: last month's account which shot up to $30 million included $15
million as extra deposit.
ZESA demanded that the $30 million payment be
made immediately to have electricity supplies restored to the office block
and that the whole amount should be paid the same day.
A snap survey
by The Standard revealed that many residents received shockingly high
electricity bills from ZESA last month with some households being asked to
pay as much as $300 000 for a month's consumption of electricity.
bills are really outrageous and are definitely unjustified. It is really
taking the customers for granted because they did not even notify us of the
increases," one irate Kambuzuma resident said.
MDC names candidate for Lupane by election By our own
BULAWAYO - Njabuliso Mguni, a veteran Matabeleland North education
officer yesterday won the ticket to represent the opposition MDC in the
forthcoming Lupane by-election.
Mguni was declared the official
candidate of the party after he beat six contestants in a primary election
held at Lupane Business Centre yesterday.
MDC district spokesperson
for Lupane, David Nyathi said the party was satisfied with the way the
election was conducted and would lend its support to Mguni who was
Matabeleland North regional officer responsible for the abused and
disadvantaged children in the Ministry of Education, Sport
Mguni, however, resigned from the ministry on Friday
alleging victimisation by Zanu PF and government agents.
"Now that we
have an educated and a well accepted candidate in the Lupane constituency, we
will be launching our campaign full throttle soon so that we retain the
"MDC has a huge following in Lupane and we don't expect a tough
challenge from Zanu PF. We have already discovered the Zanu PF strategy of
buying votes using taxpayers' money but we don't feel threatened at all,"
Mguni told The Standard yesterday that he was determined
to maintain MDC's dominance in Lupane by winning the by-election intended to
fill a position left vacant following the death of David Mpala.
Mutare mayor accuses GMB, governor of blocking food
aid By Kumbirai Mafunda
MUTARE executive mayor Misheck Kagurabadza has
accused the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) and the Manicaland Provincial
Governor, Mike Nyambuya, of blocking his bid to buy maize from the GMB to
feed starving residents.
In an interview with The Standard last week,
Kagurabadza - who was elected on an opposition MDC ticket last year - said
the GMB had instead opted to give the maize to ruling party officials who use
it as a campaign tool in rural areas ahead of next year's general
The mayor had tried to buy five tonnes of maize from the
parastatal to feed more than 1 000 starving families in the eastern border
"It is disturbing that the GMB finds it fit to deny innocent
starving residents maize but can take the grain to rural areas where it is
being used as a political campaign tool and is being distributed on party
lines," charged Kagurabadza.
Repeated efforts to get a comment from
GMB Mutare Depot Manager Dousy Kajaridzire were fruitless. An official at the
depot, who refused to be named could only say: "Your questions are difficult
Nyambuya, a retired major general in the Zimbabwe National
Army, denied the allegations levelled against his office.
control the GMB. The normal government system is there where the Department
of Social Welfare is involved. We treat hupenyu hwevanhu with sanctity," said
But Kagurabadza maintained that the GMB and Nyambuya had
frustrated council efforts to help the needy in the city.
since December last year, the council had made four appeals to the GMB to
release the maize and had followed up these requests in writing
Similar appeals have been made to Nyambuya to facilitate
the sale of the maize to the council but no response has been forthcoming,
The Standard is in possession of the letters written by
Kagurabadza to both GMB and Nyambuya.
In one of the letters to the GMD
dated February 5 2004, he wrote: "I write to request for the purchase 955 -
5kg packets of mealie meal to be donated to the elderly and orphans in Mutare
by the Mutate Mayor's Christmas Cheer Fund."
Kagurabadza said it was
sad that although the money was available, it could not be used because GMB
has chosen to be biased in distributing grain while people starved.
have moved around the high-density areas and I am saddened by the level of
poverty among the residents," said Kagurabadza.
"Ironically, the governor
is also supposed to look after the welfare of the very same residents we are
trying to feed. Nyambuya has said that he doesn't want anyone in the town to
die of hunger but his actions are contradicting his own pledge. It is a sad
scenario," he said.
GMB is the country's sole authorised grain dealer and
the government has in the past been accused of hijacking the parastatal's
food reserves for the benefit of Zanu PF cadres.
Attempts by the MDC
and another civic group, Feed Zimbabwe Trust, to bring in maize sourced from
international donors were last year thwarted by the government, which refused
to grant the two organisations with grain import licences.
Food Programme (WFP), an arm of the United Nations, has said at least seven
million Zimbabweans need urgent food assistance. In its recent findings, the
WFP - Zimbabwe's major food donor - said more people in urban areas were now
in need of food assistance as starvation begins to take its toll in the
Cross-border cattle rustling increases in
By our own Staff
MUTARE - Cattle rustling is on the
increase in Manicaland and villagers living along the border with Mozambique
say they are losing livestock to thieves who sell them across the border
where there is a ready market.
In Mozambique, cattle are sold in foreign
currency, with a beast fetching as much as US$500 (Z$2,1
Police in Mutare last week confirmed that cattle rustling was on
the increase in Manicaland but could not give figures. The police said they
had intensified patrols along the border to arrest cattle
Most of the cattle are being stolen from Chigodora area,
southeast of Mutare, and driven into Mozambique through illegal entry points.
They are then sold in Mozambique live or as cheap beef.
Jindwi of Chigodora Village said he lost four cattle last week to cattle
rustlers and has not recovered them.
"I woke up to find that my kraal was
empty as the four beasts were my only cattle that I use as drought power. I
reported the matter to the police," he said.
Alfred Sithole of Vumba
said he also lost two herd of cattle to thieves last weekend and police had
not yet recovered them.
Binga Campfire beneficiaries in trouble By Wilson
THE reduction in hunting operations in the drought-prone Binga
district of Matabeleland North has severely affected the livelihood of more
than 200 000 villagers who rely mainly on proceeds from the local council's
Binga is one of the districts that were seriously
affected by drought and its entire population is receiving food handouts from
No crops were harvested last year
and there have been reports of people dying of starvation while some have
resorted to eating tree barks and roots for survival.
The Member of
Parliament for Binga, Joel Gabuza, told The Standard that the tense political
environment and the bad publicity, which Zimbabwe was receiving regarding
political violence, had seen the reduction in the number of hunting and
"Government must work towards improving the current
political climate. No safari operators would want to come to a country where
there is political violence and the absence of the rule of law," said
Most of the villagers in Binga relied heavily on the Campfire
programme to feed their families and send children to school. But since the
reduction in hunting operations, they were finding it difficult to
Gabuza said funds - which the villagers were receiving from the
Campfire programme -were so low as to render them insignificant.
some cases, a ward of between 5 000 to 8 000 people receives a total of $30
000. What can they buy with such an amount?"
He said there was need for
the Binga Rural District Council to increase dividends allocated to
"They also need to charge these hunters reasonable rates. It
seems there is a lot of chicanery going on where the council is charging very
low rates resulting in less revenue being generated," he said.
drought situation, Gabuza said although the district had received a lot of
rains this season, they had come too late for most areas to alleviate the
"In some cases, there has been too much rains resulting
in the damage to the crops. A few areas would however manage to have a bumper
harvest," said Gabuza.
He said more than 100 000 villagers would still
need to be fed by NGOs despite the rains.
One of the NGOs that was
distributing food in the area - Save the Children UK - was stopped by
government from doing so last year after being accused of campaigning for the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change MDC in the rural council elections.
It has however resumed its food
Nkayi Aids toll reaches
2000 in 9 months
By By our own Staff
NKAYI - The HIV/Aids pandemic
has claimed over 2 000 people including children under the age of five in the
tiny Nkayi district of Matabeleland North province in a period of less than
nine months, a health worker said this week.
In an interview with The
Standard, Ginyihlupho HIV/AIDS Home-Based Care Co-ordinator, Sithabile Ndlovu
said at least 2 345 Aids-related deaths were recorded between June last year
and February 2004 in the district, which is 170 kms north of
Ndlovu said presently the district has more than 7 500 children
orphaned by the disease, which is claiming at least 3 500 people a week in
Zimbabwe, one of the countries worst affected in the southern African
She said out of the 7 500 Aids orphans in the district about 3
500 of them are at Nkayi Business Centre.
"Aids is threatening to wipe
all the productive age groups in Nkayi district. At least 526 other people
are bed-ridden while 3 325 villagers are battling for their lives with the
disease. This is a very sad situation in a small community like Nkayi," she
At the Nkayi Business Centre is Matebeleland North's biggest
referral hospital - Nkayi District Hospital - two secondary and primary
schools as well as several government offices.
'Shelter of Hope' helps reform Byo street kids From
Wilson Dakwa in Bulawayo
BULAWAYO - When 12-year-old James Savanhu fled
from home, his father Misheck, who resides in Bulawayo's high-density suburb
of Mpopoma, was a relieved man. The boy had been a problem child since he
started crawling. He had been expelled from primary school at an early age
and had then teamed up with other teenage ruffians to cause trouble in the
When his father heard that James had fled to Harare, he made
no effort to look for him and said to himself: "Good
James however found life in the streets of Harare very
tough and was three years ago repatriated back to Bulawayo by the
government's Department of Social Welfare. His father refused to accept him
back and James found himself at a home for street kids in
Here, over a period of three years, James was taught skills on
how to become a successful motor mechanic. On graduation, he was given his
own tool kit and left for his father's home where he once again expected to
be chased away.
He says to his surprise, his father welcomed him with
open arms and immediately offered him employment as a mechanic at his garage
in Mpopoma while the father concentrated in managing the
Today, James and his father are operating a thriving garage and
motor maintenance business in Bulawayo's Western suburbs.
This is but
one of the successful "reconciliation" stories achieved by Bulawayo's home
for street kids that is known here as Emthunzini weThemba Home, which means
"shelter of hope".
The home, run by veteran clergyman the Reverend David
Ndoda, has been offering skills' training and shelter to dozens of street
kids during the past 10 years.
Children are admitted at the home at an
early age and are helped to attend primary and secondary schools at local
schools where their fees are paid for by the home.
"When I arrived at
Dadaya Mission way back, I was penniless but I had the brains," says
"Through hard work and assistance from the Garfield Todd family, I
managed to educate myself while working at the same time. It is my wish to
teach these children to help themselves," the veteran clergyman told The
Standard at the home recently.
Among some of Ndoda's success stories
is a former inmate who is now working for a pottery firm and pays school fees
for two other children at the home.
One of the former street kids is now
a lecturer in motor mechanics in South Africa, while another is working as an
artist with the Bulawayo City Council. There is also an inmate who has become
a successful salesman in Johannesburg.
Ndoda's achievements might
appear small compared to that of other bigger welfare organisations, but he
has almost single-handedly succeeded in keeping street kids out of Zimbabwe's
second largest city of Bulawayo, unlike in the capital Harare where thousands
roam the streets everyday.
While Harare has a problem of street kids whom
authorities try to remove and send to rehabilitation centres daily, the city
of Bulawayo has less than a dozen destitute children roaming its streets, say
Ndoda said Emthunzini has - through the assistance of donors
- now bought a farm from the Bulawayo City Council where it will start an
agricultural project. "I tell the young boys and girls here that thieves
steal your furniture and all your belongings but they can never steal what
has been implanted in your head," says Ndoda.
is justice denied, so goes this time-honoured wisdom. Nothing currently
illustrates this more eloquently than James Makamba's 40 days incarceration
at the Harare's Remand Prison.
Numerous attempts to regain his freedom
have all come to nothing. Last Wednesday, he was released by a Harare
magistrate only to be rearrested after police obtained a warrant of arrest
from another magistrate.
We must indeed ask whether there is any
remedy when the police becomes guilty of abusing its power like this.
Whatever crime Makamba is facing, the key point that needs to be made here is
that he is not a convict and should not be deprived of his fundamental right
to liberty and dignity.
Why detain someone for such a long period for a
crime for which he has not been convicted. Have the powers-that-be lost sight
of the presumption of innocence before one is proven guilty?
Makamba might be facing 'serious' economic crimes involving
fraud, externalisation and dealing in foreign currency involving large sums
of money but, for heaven's sake, why deliberately deny him bail and in
the process give the impression that he is being persecuted for other
reasons best known to the authorities.
Invariably, people must begin
to ask: Is there more to this whole Makamba saga than meets the eye? Why has
there been so much and concerted haranguing of Makamba alone? Was he the only
one dealing in foreign currency all these years? Why him? Why now? Is there
some kind of hidden agenda in all this?
People will always speculate -
particularly when there is selective application of the law and interference
with the administration of justice. Flames of speculation are further fuelled
when the captive State media are seen giving directions to the judiciary as
to how it should deal with the accused.
The only antidote to the
perceived abuse of power by government is for the authorities to respect the
separation of powers, to respect the checks and balances as enshrined in our
constitution and for the police to implement the decisions of the courts and
not to break them. Only then can public confidence in the judicial system be
The point must be made that we fought for the independence of
Zimbabwe to have laws that are consistent with an enlightened, open and
democratic system of government. We have clearly moved backwards. Denial of
bail and detention without trial were terrible features of the Rhodesian
political system. Many of the present leaders had the bitter experience of
being detained without trial.
Happily, due to the efforts of
liberation movements they led, such obnoxious laws were taken off the
statutes. It is sad and deeply disturbing to see them reappear in recent
years rechristened Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures) (Amendment of the
Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act) Regulations of 2004, Public Order and
Security Act (Posa) and Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act
(Aippa). How history repeats itself!
Monsters that we thought were dead
and buried have been recreated - all for political expedience. It is
important to put on record what these latter-day dictators are doing in their
quest to survive politically - at any cost.
The question must be asked:
Why did you struggle for national independence in the first place? Just
because you are the party that is currently in power, it does not mean that
you have the licence to abuse the courts to keep people in prison.
does not take a genius to know that the Presidential Powers
(Temporary Measures) (Amendment of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act)
Regulations of 2004 has no place in a civilised society. This law seriously
dilutes our freedoms and interferes with the liberty and rights of citizens
which we must jealously guard.
Experience has shown through history
that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. That is why there
are checks and balances. The courts always balance conflicting claims.
Judicial independence is of paramount importance in this regard.
key word is independence. No element or section in any civilised society can
have unrestrained licence. Just as the media must have
journalistic independence, so must the magistrates and judges have judicial
independence. This is the basic rule of thumb which we can only dilute at our
This effectively means that persons publicly accused must have
the earliest opportunity to defend themselves. It is not in the interest of
the government or the police to interfere with the courts like
Indeed, such bad laws are invariably double-edged. Today it is
James Makamba and Morgan Tsvangirai. Tomorrow it will be the architect
himself - Patrick Chinamasa and that destroyer of press freedom Jonathan
We do not want to see that kind of situation because a Zimbabwean
is a Zimbabwean regardless of political affiliation. Political differences
pale into insignificance when it comes to the primacy and importance of being
a Zimbabwean. It is therefore very crucial to restore public confidence in
our judiciary for the benefit of each and every Zimbabwean.
As long as
Zimbabweans of whatever colour or creed are persecuted with malice, we take
no solace from the so called rule of law that is daily trumpeted by the
Johnos and Chinamasas of this world.
Ducking, diving and diversionary pursuits Overthetop By
THE government of a troubled central African nation has
inexplicably decided to tackle corruption. The move has caused widespread
panic in government circles. This is because corruption in the troubled
central African basket case is confined almost exclusively to. the
While some bankers and businessmen have also been caught in
the net, Over The Top can say confidently that most of them are ranking
members of the only just ruling Zany Party.
Still, the Zany most
equal of all comrades has said that no one will escape the hunt for corrupt
troubled central Africans. No mention was made, though, of where the money
came to build a certain pagoda roofed mansion in the troubled capital's
This may be because some forms of corruption are more
acceptable than others - at least in the troubled central African banana
Critics of the regime told OTT that Zany members with cabinet
positions were held to be "incorruptible."
"If you hold certain ranks
in the Zany Party, your corruption is called business acumen," said a
OTT's attention was drawn to the fact that while
arrests had been made, only junior Zany members and those on the periphery of
the party seemed to have enjoyed the hospitality of police
Meanwhile, one arrestee complained, telling OTT that he was in
fact a senior member of the Zany Party. OTT compromised and agreed that he
could be described as one of the more senior junior members on account of
owning more shoes than Imelda Marcos and more suits than Harrods.
was further agreed that his status might sink further in the rankings if he
doesn't get some of his luxury motor vehicles back from the police.
their part, ordinary troubled central Africans have been wondering why the
most equal of all comrades has taken to arresting his friends.
obvious reason is that everyone else has already been arrested and only his
The other, more worrying reason, is that the most equal
of all comrades is trying to persuade his enemies in the IMF and World Bank
that he runs a tight and spotlessly clean ship.
This is because the
most equal of all comrades hates the IMF but needs them to help him out of
the economic chaos he has created by giving all the farms to members of the
By arresting his friends, the most equal of all comrades
hopes to also persuade his neighbours and other enemies that no one is immune
from his version of good governance.
No one, that is, except cabinet
ministers and relatives with mansions in the troubled capital's leafy
A senior member of the IMF laughed when OTT asked him
whether the international banks were taking the most equal of all comrades
"No," he said, before hanging up the telephone.
members of the amused opposition More Drink Coming Party said they welcomed
"At least members of the Zany Party now know what the inside of
a police cell looks like," said one man who cannot be named because he does
not want to ever see the inside of another troubled central African
"They also know what the food, or lack of food, is like in there,"
said another. "The only difference is that they don't seem to get beaten
or tortured like we do."
The latter point is said to concern the most
equal of all comrades deeply and steps are being taken to rectify the
Gono's ideas doomed to fail while Mugabe is in
One has to applaud Gideon Gono, the RBZ Governor for his
attempts to bring this country's finances back on an even keel and reduce
inflation to 200%. However, some of his ideas seem more than a little suspect
to me. For instance, let us look at a few examples:
killer rules in December for the proper regulation of the banking industry,
he relaxes them and sets up a Troubled Banks Fund to ensure that poorly
managed banks are not brought low by his initial action. Didn't he know what
to expect when he introduced the killer rules? Or has he been pushed by his
fellow Zanu PF colleagues with their fingers in the till who have been hard
hit by his actions?
·The foreign auction system, a very positive
scheme as put forward by the CFI but requires unlimited forex, which is not
available here in order to work satisfactorily. Similarly, it is patently
obvious, despite all Gono's protestations and those of Eric Bloch, that the
upper and lower bid limits and the weighted average auction rates are being
shaped to move smoothly in what appear to be predetermined directions. Free
and fair? No more, I believe, than the average election proceedings in
Zimbabwe. And there will never be adequate forex here until Robert Mugabe
goes and the Western world starts to pour in funds for Zimbabwe's
·More recently, Gono has appealed to Zimbabweans
working in the diaspora to remit their forex funds to boost his auction
scheme. Doesn't he appreciate that these people were forced out of the
country by economic hardships here (over 3 million, I read), that they hate
Zanu PF and would not do anything supportive of the ruling
Yes, they'll return themselves, but only when this regime is no
longer in power.
Again, I'm sorry to say, I am surprised to see Eric
Bloch so utterly supportive of an absolute non-starter of a scheme.
congratulate Gono on his efforts to turn the economy round, but
until Mugabe's stranglehold on democracy here is removed, I see no chance of
his sometimes excellent efforts being successful.
Anti-corruption crusade a kingsize hoax Sundaytalk with
LET us all now shout hip, hip, hurray! Our sovereign
country has finally embarked on a jihad against corruption. And this, after
years of vehemently denying that such a thing existed in our independent and
When Transparency International said we ranked high up
in corruption in the world, our erstwhile Zanu PF leaders were indignant and
livid with anger. They righteously said these were all lies fabricated by
British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, and decadent Western imperialist
countries which were set on demonising, destabilising and eventually
recolonising our sovereign and independent State.
When one dared
to point out that our police force is now politicised and corrupt, official
spokespersons jumped to the defence. They insisted Zimbabwe had the most
professional and disciplined police force in Africa which was indeed the envy
of the whole world. Even the United Nations could not do any international
peace-keeping and policing without having to call upon the ZRP, they
To our great surprise none other than the President himself
turns around and declares that corruption has reached unacceptable levels in
Zimbabwe and that he has personally embarked on a war path against this
One would have expected any professional
police force to be constantly at war with crimes of corruption thus making it
unnecessary for a President to personally declare war against
Of late much has been written and said about corruption by
both the independent and the not-so-independent media. In fact, my solicitous
wife specifically told me to write about something else because she felt
enough had been said about this rather unpleasant subject. She wanted me to
write something about hope, love, faith or some such inspiring and
uplifting subject. But then, I am me. I never feel a debate has been done
enough justice until yours truly has thrown in his half-cent worth. In fact,
I feel that every patriotic Zimbabwean should be making noise and
demonstrating in the streets against corruption until it is wiped off the
face of our beautiful country.
The sad truth is that all this
presidential hullabaloo about fighting corruption is nothing but a kingsize
hoax believed only by the most naive and gullible. My dictionary says that a
hoax is "an act intended to deceive or trick, either as a practical joke or
as a serious fraud". Ours is definitely not a practical joke but a serious
fraud with damaging consequences since it has seen some prominent citizens
behind bars and others fleeing the country in droves under rather unclear
Our government is characterised by scape-goating and
waging wars against selected scape-goats to hide its dismal failures
especially when elections are in the offing. This is now part and parcel of
their electioneering gimmickry.
When the government faced imminent
defeat at the hands of the fledgling Movement for Democratic Change, they
quickly found a scape-goat. White commercial farmers became convenient
scape-goats, especially as they were actively supporting the opposition
When the economy nose-dived because of huge unplanned and unbudgeted
for payments to war veterans and the ill-advised military adventure in
the Democratic Republic of Congo, the International Monetary Fund and the
World Bank were blamed. These institutions withdrew their financial support
to the country thus making our economic situation worse.
Some of the
government's scape-goating antics were really hilarious. In 2001, the country
found itself in the grip of fuel shortages triggered by shortages of foreign
currency and rampant corruption and thievery at the National Oil Company of
Zimbabwe (NOCZIM). Instead of facing and dealing with the problem squarely,
our Zanu PF government claimed that the crisis was caused by the British who
were hijacking Zimbabwe-bound oil tankers on the high seas.
economic decline worsened we found another scape-goat; this time it was the
independent Daily News which was undermining the government. Its printing
presses were bombed. Its journalists were harassed by the police and it was
eventually banned through spurious laws.
In order to arrest the economic
decline and runaway inflation all kinds of unworkable solutions, including
stringent price controls, were introduced. This only made the situation worse
for it created shortages of essential commodities. Naturally, this also
created a vibrant black market.
This time the scape-goat was the business
sector. "The business sector is sabotaging the country. They are forming
cartels to hike prices," the refrain went.
Many businesses were
therefore harassed and had millions of dollars extorted from them by
semi-literate so called war-veterans as punishment. Others were forced to
sell to indigenous businessmen with important political connections. Others
just closed shop and gapped it to South Africa, Botswana and other more sane
When shortages persisted we became hysterical in our
apportionment of blame. We went as far as saying: "Its the Mozambicans and
Zambians. They are creating shortages by buying our goods and taking them to
their countries." Really, how daft can people get?
In the meantime
foreign currency reserves in the country dried up largely because of
unrealistic exchange rates set by government and the destruction of the
exporting agricultural and manufacturing sectors. Naturally, a black market
emerged. It set the real value of our dollar. The banks were
totally sidelined and forced to participate in this real market with the
full knowledge of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.
In late 2002 some
concerned Zimbabweans started to castigate the government and the Reserve
Bank for their inaction against the illegal foreign currency black market. Of
course the only realistic way of destroying the black market would have been
by devaluing the dollar to realistic levels. This the government was
unwilling to do because it would have caused its external debt to balloon to
On August 29 2002, The Financial Gazette reported on why
the central bank had not punished those banks for illegally trading in
foreign currency on the black market which had now been dignified by being
referred to as the "parallel market" even in official circles.
report said: "Several banks in Zimbabwe are known to be buying and selling
foreign currency on the black market, but finance industry players say the
RBZ and the government dare not touch the affected banks because some
powerful politicians and government institutions have also benefited from the
In other words, government itself was involved in
Up to now nothing substantive has been done about businessmen
and banks dealing in foreign currency on the black market. The economy has
gotten worse and elections are around the corner. After searching their
rather shallow minds, a ready scape-goat was found. Why not blame it all
on unscrupulous businessmen and banks which are illegally dealing in
What is most unfortunate for some hapless chickens
and goats in our society is that if they are chosen as scapes (huku ne mbudzi
dzekurasirirwa) they are punished by banishment. They are taken into the bush
and left to live and die alone.
When white farmers became scape-goats
they were beaten, tortured, raped and chased away from their farms. The less
fortunate were killed. The Daily News is also still suffering as a convenient
scape-goat. Some targeted bank officials and businessmen were lucky to have
been fore-warned. They are now on the run.
Such luck was not with
businesswoman Jane Mutasa and her son who were prosecuted for dealing in
foreign currency. Such luck was not with businessman-cum-politician, James
Makamba. He is now languishing behind bars and being "feasted upon by
mosquitoes". He is indeed a scape-goat carrying the sins of millions of
Zimbabweans who were forced to illegally deal in foreign currency by stupid
Those targeted as scape-goats are the weak and vulnerable. Some are
targeted to settle old personal, business and political scores. In Shona we
say. "Vari kufikiswa."
The whole fight against corruption is a big
hoax to impress next year's voters and the international donor community
which we are now desperately trying to woo back despite having told them to
go to hell, not so long ago.
Zim church leader takes gospel to the West By Charles
HIS followers still pray under shed of trees, even in the
metropolitan cities of Harare, Zimbabwe's capital and Bulawayo, the second
largest city. The leaders sit on chairs or benches, if the tree is near the
house of one of the better-off followers.
But in most cases, men sit
on stones while women sit on mats or rags. Some men bring their own portable
stools. Doctors, lawyers and managing directors, with their latest
four-by-fours (SUVs) parked close by, have to kneel on the hard earth
together with their poorer colleagues, all clad in cheap, blue uniforms
similar to those won by security guards, who rank among the most poorly paid
workers in Zimbabwe.
Yet Bishop Nehemiah Mutendi, leader of the
largely black, independent, Zion Christian Church (ZCC), has decided to take
the gospel to the West. His mission is to show the world how God has
manifested himself in Africa. This is a mission he says he has to
It was his father, Samuel Mutendi's, death wish. "He told me on
his deathbed that I should go and spread the word of God to those countries
which he had not been able to visit."
This was a tall order because
Nehemiah, then only 37, was not the eldest son. He was the sixth in line.
Though his brothers had known way back in the 1960s that Nehemiah was the
anointed successor, there was a battle for succession when Samuel Mutendi
died in 1976. But Nehemiah won the vote.
The former schoolteacher has not
rested since he took over the mantle. The church has been expanding. It now
has close to 300 000 followers in South Africa, over 400 000 in Mozambique,
close to 100 000 in Zambia and Democratic Republic of Congo and about 50 000
He is now taking the gospel to Britain and the United
States. The number of followers in Britain is still small. There are now five
tabernacles with about 100 followers. The core following is in London. In the
United States, there are only 10 to 20 followers in Boston. But last year,
Bishop Mutendi visited his followers in the United States twice and those in
Britain three times.
With about one million followers in Zimbabwe,
Bishop Mutendi thinks it is time to spread the gospel outside the country. He
has managed to transform the church from one that was mainly associated with
poor, uneducated blacks to one that has managing directors of multi-national
companies, medical doctors and nurses, senior civil servants, bankers,
business tycoons and university graduates.
While one could count the
number of cars belonging to church members during his father's era, today it
is almost impossible to do that. Some are driving the latest Mercedes and
Toyota 4-by-4s. The church even has a fleet of buses of its own. But like his
biblical counterpart, Bishop Mutendi is a builder. He wants to build his
church and expand its activities, especially to the West.
He says he
has a clear vision. Besides spreading the gospel to the West, he intends to
use their strong currencies to develop the church in Zimbabwe. At the moment,
the church has fewer than five church buildings in the country, but it
already has nine full-fledged schools, four primary and five secondary, two
of them high schools.
"We have the gospel and the West has the money. So
why not give them the gospel and get their money to develop our church and
our country?" he says.
His approach is simple. He is targeting
Zimbabweans that have settled in Britain and the US first. "Once we have
converted them, they know what to do," he says. "The gospel travels through
the culture of the individual. This is the reason why missionaries did not
make such an impact in Zimbabwe. They didn't want to go through our culture.
They wanted to impose their culture on the people here through the gospel.
That is why independent black churches sprang up"
Daneel who has written four books on black independent churches in Zimbabwe
supports this view. "At the heart of this whole movement, directly or
indirectly, will be found the sin of the white man against the black. It is
because of the failure of the white man to make the church a home for a black
man that the latter has been fain to have a Church of his own."
Mutendi says after Zimbabweans, the next target are other Africans because
"our culture is more or less the same". He says black Zimbabweans and other
Africans who have stayed abroad for years, know the culture of the societies
in which they live. Once they have been converted, it will be easier for them
penetrate their own communities and convert locals.
But there is more to
it. One of the major attractions of the Zion Christian Church is the healing.
The church specialises in exorcising evil spirits and treating incurable
diseases such as feats and mental illnesses.
"I know there are already
some people in the United States who are conducting healing sessions. But our
sessions are different. We want to show the West that the battle Samuel
fought in this country (Zimbabwe) against things like feats, evil spirits,
mental illness, barrenness and other inexplicable ailments can be fought in
Europe and America, not on the pill, not from the medical front but from the
spiritual front, simply by praying and using holy water and
Under the ZCC, any ailments diagnosed by church prophets can be
cured either by using holy water, salt, coffee, tea or an injection- not the
hospital injection, but the church one that looks like an ordinary
The few church followers in Britain and the US are already
praying for the sick including whites. Bishop Mutendi says this is not a new
phenomenon. In the 1960s, his father prayed for one Frenchwoman, Jacqueline,
who was barren and she gave birth to a baby girl who she named Chipo (Gift).
He says Jacqueline is still alive. He last saw her three years
His biggest handicap, he says, is that at the moment he has not been
able to travel with his senior prophets, Abmereki Chikumbo and Nelson
Manyanye because the British and United States governments will not grant
Visa requirements for Zimbabweans travelling to the United
Kingdom and United States are very strict because of the exodus of skilled
and semi-skilled Zimbabweans to look for jobs.
Those applying for a
visa to the UK, for example, are required to pay a non-refundable visa fee of
Z$280 800 (about US$80 at the current auction rate, but US$350 at the
official rate). They should have evidence that they have the funds to pay for
the trip and living expenses. The cheapest airfare to London is Z$2.7 million
They should also produce tenants agreement or gas or
water bills of where they will be staying during their visit, as well as
proof of employment in Zimbabwe. They are also required to produce proof of
assets owned in Zimbabwe such as title deeds, car registration book, marriage
certificate, children's birth certificates and the immigration status of
their sponsor in the UK.
The requirements for the United States are
more or less the same. But in the case of the US, applicants are required to
pay Z$420 000 (about US$120) just to get an application form. If they have a
business, they are required to produce a profit and loss account for that
Bishop Mutendi says the church has the money to sponsor the two
senior church people, but officials insist that they present their own
personal bank accounts to show they have money.
"This is a simple,
peasant prophet. Where is he going to get the money? " Bishop Mutendi asks.
"We are engaged in God's work. We are not generating money to get rich. We
are being discriminated against zvinototyisa (the kind of discrimination we
face is frightening) just because they do not know our church."
Bishop Mutendi considers this a minor setback. It is nothing compared to what
his father went through. Samuel Mutendi was converted in 1913. Though his
church, the Zion Christian Church, was registered in South Africa in 1924 and
he was given a written letter to preach in Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe as it
was known then), he was jailed on several occasions for preaching the word of
God simply because he was black.
But he never gave up. Bishop Nehemiah
Mutendi believes the time for Zion to show itself has come. "What the British
and Americans are doing is simply denying their people the gospel. We have
something new to offer. People are tired of the monotonous type of worship
from the so-called established churches. But more importantly, we want to
show the West how God has manifested himself in Africa and is talking to us
in our own language, Shona."
Harare lawyer, Simplisius Chihambakwe,
who is not a member of the church, but is on its board of trustees, says the
ZCC is currently at its strongest point.
Church songs are in the top
20 on commercial radio stations. The church brass band won the top award for
mass choral group at the National Arts Music Awards for 2003. It had a cash
prize of Z$2 million.
The biggest break, however, was the invitation of
Bishop Mutendi to officiate at the funeral of vice-President Simon Muzenda at
the national Heroes' Acre in Harare in September. This baffled everyone
because Muzenda was Catholic. David Nyama, a strong follower of the ZCC says:
"The man-of-God, (as Bishop Mutendi is popularly referred to) does not just
pop up anywhere. His presence at the funeral of Muzenda at the Heroe's acre
is loaded with meaning. People will live to tell that in the
But for now, Bishop Mutendi is focused on one thing. How to get
his key lieutenants into the UK and US. "If I can only get them there for a
month or so, I know this will be a major turning point."
Moyo, Zimbabwe's envoy in South Africa recently said in Jonannesburg that the
Zimbabwe government is talking with MDC moderates. What does that mean when
the MDC says there are no talks at all taking place.
My simple logic
tells me that talks will be kickstarted soon after the court sends Morgan
Tsvangirai to prison for the purported assassination plot against President
Mugabe. Mind you, anyone who has dared challenge Mugabe to the Presidency in
the past has ended up facing the same cooked-up assassination allegations -
remember that Joshua Nkomo and Ndabaningi Sithole went through the same
When Tsvangirai is in jail, the hawks will pounce on Gibson
Sibanda and Welshman Ncube as moderates and try to convince them into
accepting his leadership, also using the tribal weapon, eventually ending up
agreeing to join Zanu PF like Zapu - and that will be the end of
The settlement by June 4 as advised by South African President
Thabo Mbeki is actually based on these arrangements. The President's recent
hardline statements were a warning to Tsvangirai that there will be no talks
with him but other moderates, and Zanu PF are good at that.
out and see as right now, the presiding Judge is being directed to ascertain
Morgan's conviction despite the overwhelming evidence of Israeli spy, Ari Ben
Menashe, being out to make money from Zanu PF by entrapping Tsvangirai and