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Zimbabwe scraps rally, arrests minister in crackdown

Fri Mar 25, 2011 6:36pm GMT

* Major MDC rally scrapped for football tournament

* Minister faces charges over tender contract

* MDC says Mugabe steps up crackdown on opponents (Adds police banning
opposition rally)

By Cris Chinaka

HARARE, March 25 (Reuters) - Zimbabwe police on Friday cancelled an
opposition rally set for the weekend and arrested a cabinet minister,
deepening antagonism between the president and the prime minister's party
ahead of a possible election.

President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party and Prime Minister Morgan
Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) are supposed to be
partners in a unity government but it is coming apart at the seams.

MDC Secretary-General Tendai Biti told a news conference that police had for
third time this month cancelled a major rally called by his party for
Sunday, saying Mugabe's ZANU-PF had organised a football tournament at the
same venue.

"Democracy is under siege because of toxic activities of our (ZANU-PF)
colleagues whose intention is (the) collapse of the global political
agreement and parliament and to force through an election this year," he

There was no immediate comment from the police or ZANU-PF.

The MDC said Energy and Power Development Minister Elton Mangoma, who was on
bail on a graft charge over a fuel import deal, was arrested on Friday for
the second time in two weeks.

Mangoma, a Tsvangirai ally and deputy treasurer of the MDC, is accused of
forcing officials to cancel a tender contract for a power supply pre-payment
system. Mangoma's lawyer Selby Hwacha said the minister would plead not

"As far as we are concerned this is part of a harassment campaign that
ZANU-PF has embarked on against our structures, and it is the type of
campaign that we have suffered before every general election," an MDC
official told Reuters.

Tsvangirai urged regional leaders last week to intervene to save Zimbabwe's
unity government from threats posed by a spate of political violence against
MDC supporters.

Tsvangirai and Mugabe were forced into a coalition two years ago after a
disputed poll in 2008, which led to mass violence and a flood of refugees
into neighbouring South Africa.

Relations between the coalition rivals have worsened in the past two weeks
since police first arrested Mangoma and the Supreme Court nullified the
election of another Tsvangirai ally as speaker of parliament.

Police have also arrested dozens of activists accused of plotting protests
against Mugabe similar to those that toppled long-serving leaders in Egypt
and Tunisia.

Critics say Mugabe, 87 and in power since independence in 1980, has used
brutal policing and vote rigging to keep his grip on power despite a deep
economic crisis.

Mugabe denies the charges, and accuses Western media of waging a hate
campaign against him over his seizures of white-owned farms for
redistribution to black Zimbabweans.

Mugabe is pressing for fresh elections this year, which analysts say will
favour his ZANU-PF party if no major political reforms are put in place,
including a new constitution and improved voter registration.

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Police Arrest Energy Minister Again, Restrict Political Activity

Peta Thornycroft | Johannesburg  March 25, 2011

ZANU-PF aligned Zimbabwe police officers have arrested the country's energy
minister, and all but banned political activities such as rallies by the
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), while allowing those organized by
President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party.  The energy minister, who is a
prominent member of the MDC, has been arrested twice this month on
corruption charges that his lawyers reject.

Police in Zimbabwe have again arrested the country's energy minister Elton
Mangoma, this time as he traveled to work in Harare.  He was released on
bail last week on charges relating to a fuel deal he concluded when
Zimbabwe's supplies ran short.  He said after his release he had informed
Mugabe about the deal.  He was eventually released on bail.

Now he has been arrested again, allegedly in connection with a deal to buy
electrical equipment for the country.

His lawyer Selby Hwacha confirmed the arrest Friday and said Mangoma was in
police cells in central Harare and he denys the charges against his client.

Several human rights organizations say that the Zimbabwe Republic Police
selectively arrest suspects, mainly supporters of Tsvangirai's MDC, and do
insufficient investigations before arresting suspects.

Eric Matinenga, a lawyer and MDC minister for parliamentary and
constitutional affairs said there is a record of what he called "malicious"
arrests in Zimbabwe.

"This archaic business of you smell a rat, you arrest.  You throw [that
idea] away.  You don't arrest and investigate. Where it is possible to bring
that person to court at a convenient date that should be done. We know how
people are so fond of wanting to parade these so called important people in
town in police jeeps and trucks," said Matinenga.

The home affairs ministry is controlled jointly by the MDC and ZANU-PF.  MDC
co-home affairs minister Theresa Makone says the police do not obey her

Zimbabwe's present constitution says that the police commissioner, Augustine
Chihuri is appointed by Mugabe.

There was no one available for comment at Zimbabwe police headquarters in
Harare Friday.

Zimbabwe's police have also effectively ended all public activity for the
Movement for Democratic Change party.

President Mugabe's ZANU-PF supporters are regularly holding rallies and
political events in a campaign to collect signatures for a petition
protesting continued European Union and United States financial and travel
sanctions against 163 mainly ZANU-PF leaders and a number of businesses
including a few state companies.

A week ago, the MDC was told first by police and then by the Harare High
Court it could not hold a rally on an open field near the center of Harare
because ZANU-PF was holding a rally nearby.

MDC lawyers went to the High Court asking for a ruling to allow the rally
but Judge George Chiweshe refused permission.

Judge Chiweshe was former chairman of the Zimbabwe Election Commission which
many analysts criticized as being partisan towards ZANU-PF during the last
elections in 2008.

Harare mayor Muchadeyi Masunda told VOA that ZANU-PF had not applied to the
City of Harare to hold the rally which police claimed would clash with the
MDC event.

By the end of the day there had been no ZANU-PF rally, but scores of
policemen and militant ZANU-PF members gathered where the MDC hoped to hold
its peace rally.

There were several scuffles and a few people, mostly members of the public
walking through the field to catch buses claimed they had been attacked by
ZANU-PF supporters.

Zimbabwe's laws demand that political parties inform police when they wish
to hold a rally, but they do not need police permission to hold rallies.

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New Venue

Friday, 25 March 2011

The MDC People’s Peace Rally has been moved to Budiriro 1 shopping centre, Sunday 27 March, 10AM.  Main speakers, President Tsvangirai and the Real Change team.  Say No to Violence!! Yes to Peace!!

Together, united, winning, voting for real change!!!
MDC Information & Publicity Department

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MDC Home Affairs Minister Makone in hiding

By Alex Bell
25 March 2011

The MDC’s co-Minister of Home Affairs, Theresa Makone, was forced into
hiding on Friday, as the crackdown against Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s
party intensifies.

Makone and her MDC party believe she will be the next official to face
arrest, along with at least five others. She told the UK’s BBC news that she
was in hiding to avoid arrest in what called a “state plot.” She said that
she had been told that at least one other MP, as well as the MDC’s nominated
Speaker of Parliament Lovemore Moyo, faced imminent arrest.

These threats come as Energy Minister Elton Mangoma was re-arrested on
Friday, on undisclosed charges. Last Sunday state media had reported that
police were again after Mangoma in connection with the cancellation of a
tender for the purchase of electricity equipment. He was first arrested on
March 10th and charged with abuse of office, over a fuel purchase from a
South African company.

Political analyst Professor John Makumbe said this onslaught against the MDC
is a deliberate effort by ZANU PF to “whittle down the numbers the MDC has
in Parliament ahead of the election of a new speaker.” The vote was
unilaterally postponed this week by ZANU PF’s Clerk of Parliament, Austin
Zvoma, after the Supreme Court nullified the MDC-T’s Lovemore Moyo, who had
been elected in 2008.

The vote is now set to go ahead next week Tuesday, but Makumbe said that
ZANU PF will ensure that the MDC does not have enough numbers to get a
majority vote in favour of Moyo’s return to the seat.

Makumbe said this was a critical time for the MDC, who he said “should be
exercising some muscle and saying once and for all that they can’t take this
anymore.” But he said the party appears disorganised and without a plan.

“This is unfortunately a classic demonstration of how weak the MDC is in the
government. They should be mobilising its supporters in the streets and
calling for public action against what ZANU PF is blatantly doing,” Makumbe

Minister Mangoma’s original arrest earlier this month drew an angry reaction
from MDC leader Tsvangirai, who called for new elections and said it was
time for a “divorce” in the two-year-old unity government. Tsvangirai has
since said that the government was under the control of “dark and sinister
forces,” a statement backed up by the MDC’s Priscilla Misihairambwi-Mushonga
who said there had been a ‘coup’ in Zimbabwe.

Minister Makone has also said that the Global Political Agreement, which
formed the basis of the unity government, had proved to be an “atrocious and
useless” arrangement which did not empower anyone other than ZANU PF. She
also admitted to NewsDay that she has no control of the police, who have
been openly displaying their partisan nature by only arresting MDC
supporters and members.

Makone said it was hopeless to expect SADC to resolve the political impasse
in Zimbabwe because ZANU PF had all the power in its grip. ZANU PF’s Rugare
Gumbo then reacted on Thursday by saying Makone should “make her authority
felt in the police force,” and if for any reason she fails to do that, she
should leave the post of Home Affairs Minister.

“Makone and (co-minister Kembo) Mohadi are the ones who control the police
and she must not start blaming other people on issues they are not linked
to. If she cannot control the police, what is she doing there? Why does she
waste people’s time? She must leave the post,” said Gumbo.

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Tsvangirai expected to meet Zuma over the weekend

By Lance Guma
25 March 2011

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai is set to meet South African President
Jacob Zuma in Durban on Saturday, as part of his regional tour of SADC
states. The MDC leader has been briefing SADC leaders about the collapsing
coalition government, asking them for help in constructing a roadmap towards
free and fair elections.

Tsvangirai is expected to brief Zuma on the worsening situation including
the arbitrary arrests of MDC-T cabinet ministers and MP’s and the state
sponsored violence and intimidation targeting his supporters. The trip is
also part of a diplomatic offensive ahead of the SADC Troika Organ on
Politics, Defence and Security meeting next week in Zambia.

Last week Tsvangirai met the head of that SADC Troika, Zambian President
Rupiah Banda. The MDC leader later travelled to the Mozambican capital
Maputo, where he met President Armando Guebuza whose country is also a
member of the Troika. Tsvangirai later met King Mswati of Swaziland and
President Ian Khama of Botswana.

A senior party official told us the PM is trying to get leaders in the SADC
region to establish an election roadmap, amid signs the marriage of
convenience with ZANU PF has all but collapsed. “It’s clear Zuma has failed
to exert any influence on Mugabe to implement the power sharing deal so the
least we can try and get from him is a credible roadmap for free and fair
elections,” the official told us.

Tsvangirai is said to want a clearly laid out role for SADC in the elections
and has targeted further trips to Angola, Namibia, the DRC and Tanzania
before the crucial Troika meeting in Livingstone, Zambia.

Last week Tsvangirai said SADC should not stand back and watch events in
Zimbabwe develop into full fledged chaos. “The people of Zimbabwe want a
guarantee that they will be allowed to vote for parties and leaders of their
choice in a free environment,” he said.

Several quarters have already urged the MDC to broaden the scope of
intervention and try and get the United Nations to play a key role in
resolving the crisis. SADC and the African Union were accused of being timid
in their approach to Mugabe’s intransigence.

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Daily News return marred by attack on reporter

By Alex Bell
25 March 2011

The previously banned Daily News newspaper was finally back on the streets
on Friday, almost eight years since the Robert Mugabe regime shut it down.

The paper is now officially back in popular circulation after a special
edition was released a week ago, boldly proclaiming its intention to
denounce abuse of authority and “bad governance.”

“We unapologetically declare that we will take a critical stand against bad
governance and expose it for the entire nation to see,” it said in its

“We won't stand by while rampant corruption and crass materialism disable
both government and private sector. We will shout at the top of our voices
when we detect abuse of power and political intolerance.”

The paper was granted a licence in May last year by the Zimbabwe Media
Commission, which granted permission for 4 new publications. The Daily News
is only the second to actually start printing, following NewsDay, which has
been publishing since June last year.

But the return of the Daily News was marred by an attack on one of its
reporters on Thursday, which has been strongly condemned by a leading media
rights group. Reporters Without Borders said in a statement on Friday it is
“disturbed” by the news that Daily News reporter Xolisani Ncube was attacked
outside the MDC headquarters on Thursday. Ncube was reportedly attacked by
supporters of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai while interviewing people at
Harvest House. One of his assailants hit him hard in the face and stole his
digital camera.

“It is no coincidence that a Daily News journalist was attacked just a few
days after the newspaper resumed publishing,” Reporters Without Borders
secretary-general Jean-François Julliard said. “It seems the authorities
take a dim view of its proclamation of independence and its pledge to
denounce bad governance.”

Julliard added: “They clearly feel threatened and are likely to watch it
closely and keep harassing its journalists, which is intolerable. Harassment
of those who defend freedom of expression will almost certainly increase in
the run-up to the parliamentary elections in May.”

SW Radio Africa was unable to get reaction from the MDC, after party
spokesman Nelson Chamisa said he was in a meeting and unavailable for

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Hearing For MDC-T Urgent Application On Speaker Election To Be Heard Next Week

25/03/2011 18:40:00

Harare, March 25,2011 - The High Court has set the hearing for the urgent
application which seeks an order to compel Clerk of Court Austin Zvoma to
call for the election of the now vacant post of Speaker of The House of
Assembly to next Wednesday.

The application was made by the Morgan Tsvangirai led Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC-T) this week after Zvoma postponed elections.

"It has been set down for next Wednesday," Mutare Central MP and MDC-T chief
whip Innocent Gonese, the first applicant in the matter told Radio VOP.

MDC-T lawyers on Thursday accused Judge President George Chiweshe of sitting
on the party's urgent application filed on Wednesday.

The pary's lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa said  the matter had been  allocated to
Justice Ben Hlatshwayo who does not come to court during the afternoon.

Mtetwa said she was not surprised by the behaviour of Justice Chiweshe, who
is known for ruling in favour of Zanu (PF).

“What can you expect from a judge who once held results of an election for
over six weeks and was still rewarded with the post of judge
president?. He was put there so that he would do what he is doing now
(frustrating MDC),” said Mtetwa.

Chiweshe is the same judge who threw out last Saturday’s urgent application
by the MDC-T to be allowed to hold a rally that had been banned by the

The MDC-T had approached his court asking him to review a Harare magistrate’s
court ruling upholding the police ban on its rally.

The former speaker Lovemore Moyo of MDC-T will contest for his seat while
Zanu (PF) is going to field its current party chair Simon Khaya Moyo.

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‘Kimberley to allow Zim diamond sales’

March 25 2011 at 06:08pm

The chairman of the Kimberley Process has agreed to allow Zimbabwe to sell
diamonds from its disputed Marange fields, deputy mines minister Gift
Chimanikire said on Friday.

But the World Diamond Council, a global industry group, warned its members
not to trade in the gems after key members, including the United States,
Canada, Israel and the European Union, questioned the validity of the

“Permission for sale was issued by the KP chairman,” Chimanikire told AFP.

“But I do not know when the actual sale would take place.”

He said the decision was probably taken in February, when Zimbabwe Mines
Minister Obert Mpofu travelled to the Democratic Republic of Congo to meet
with Kimberley chairman Mathieu Yamba.

Kinshasa holds the rotating chair of the Kimberley Process, and has close
ties to President Robert Mugabe.

The Marange fields, touted as Africa's richest diamond find of the decade,
have been at the centre of a years-long controversy over mining rights and
abuses by the military.

The Kimberley Process, created to prevent the trade in “blood” diamonds that
fuel armed conflicts, normally takes such decisions by consensus at its
regular meetings. Yamba's decision appears to have been taken unilaterally.

The World Diamond Council said in a statement that the United States,
Canada, Israel and the European Union have indicated that the diamond sales
should not yet be permitted.

The council “advises members of the international diamond industry to
refrain from trading in and exporting goods from the region until the
situation and the status of these goods becomes clearer”. - Sapa-AFP

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Groups move to block Marange exports

by Tobias Manyuchi     Friday 25 March 2011

HARARE – Several top international diamond trade groups have instructed
members to stay away from diamonds from Zimbabwe’s Marange mines, a body
blow to plans by Harare to resume exports of stones form the controversial

The World Diamond Council (WDC), Jewelers of America (JA), the Diamond
Manufacturers & Importers Association of America (DMIA), the Gems &
Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC) have told members not to risk
product integrity by purchasing gems originating from the Marange or
Chiadzwa diamond field.

The Rapaport Diamond Trading Network said any member caught trading in
Marange diamonds will be named, shamed and expelled form its RapNet trading

The move by the key trading groups comes in the wake of reports that
Kimberley Process (KP) chairman Mathieu Zamba of the Democratic Republic of
the Congo has unilaterally given Zimbabwe permission to export the diamonds.
The KP takes decision by consensus.

"Prudent traders will ask for written assurances from suppliers that
diamonds were not from the Marange," diamond dealer Rappaport said in a
circular to members released Friday.

It added: "Members found to have knowingly offered Marange diamonds for sale
on RapNet will be expelled and their names will be publicly communicated ….
the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) vows to list companies that
buy these diamonds. "

The KP that monitors the diamond industry banned Zimbabwe from selling
diamonds from Marange in 2009 over allegations of human rights abuses in the
extraction of the gems and failure to meet minimum requirements for trading
in the precious stones.

But the organisation allowed Zimbabwe to conduct two supervised sales which
took place in August and September last year following a report by its
monitor Abbey Chikane that said Harare had met all KP conditions.

However subsequent KP meetings failed to reach agreement on whether to
permanently lift the ban on Marange diamonds. The monitoring group had said
the stones would remain prohibited until there was consensus on the matter –
a position which Zamba has now unilaterally overruled to allow Zimbabwe to
exports the stones.

The issue of Zimbabwe selling the Marange diamonds has divided the KP along
political lines, with Western countries led by the United States, Germany
and Australia as well as civil society groups that are members of the
organisation calling for the extension of a ban.

African and other countries, including Russia, have however opposed the
calls to ban the diamonds. -- ZimOnline

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Zimbabwe unlikely to pay arrears this year: finance minister

Fri Mar 25, 2011 12:41pm GMT

By Alfonce Mbizwo

HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe Finance Minister Tendai Biti said on Friday the
country was unlikely to pay off any international arrears this year after
revenue collection fell 35 percent below target in the first quarter.

Biti said Zimbabwe, which owes foreign lenders $7 billion, was not meeting
its economic expectations and revenue collection was below target by $80
million every month.

"We are supposed to be collecting $230 million every month but at the moment
we are only managing to get $150 million," Biti told Reuters in a telephone

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai early this month said the country would use
revenue from alluvial diamond sales to repay part of its external debt,
which stands at more than annual gross domestic product estimated at $6

Last November, Biti presented a $3.2 billion budget of which $2.7 billion
was expected to come from domestic revenues and the remainder donor

"We are on a cash budget, so this means we are not going to pay off arrears
or carry out some of the capital expenditure projects lined up for the
year," Biti said.

He did not say whether the lower revenue collection would affect growth
estimates for the economy, which he earlier said would expand by 9.3 percent
this year.

In his budget, Biti expected $500 million to come from foreign financiers
but that has not been forthcoming as key Western donors have withheld aid
and demanded broad political reforms.

President Robert Mugabe and rival Tsvangirai set up a coalition government
two years ago that has stabilised the economy but has not managed to attract
the billions of dollars needed to rebuild the devastated economy.

An International Monetary Fund (IMF) team visiting for annual consultations
with the government this week indicated that a resumption of lending by the
institution, which last lent Zimbabwe money in 1999, was still far off.

The Fund wants Harare to clear arrears of more than $140 million before it
contemplates any funding programme.

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Hundreds of Bodies Removed From Zimbabwe Mass Grave

By Tariro Madzongwe

HARARE, Mar 25, 2011 (IPS) - The identity of as many as a thousand
decomposing bodies in an abandoned mine in Mount Darwin, 100 kilometres
north of Harare, may never be known. "War veterans" associated with the
ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front party are removing
them with no regard for preserving evidence.

According to ZANU-PF, the human remains in the mine belong to people killed
in the late 1970s during the country's liberation war.

What has raised eyebrows is the state of the bodies, which are still intact,
only partly decomposed - a powerful stench hanging over the site.

When IPS visited the mine site on Mar. 18, as part of a tour organised by
the Ministry of Information, hundreds of decomposing body parts were piled
on the ground not far from the entrance to the mine shaft.

A pathologist who spoke to IPS on condition of anonymity said bodies
allegedly dumped in the mine three decades ago should not look like those
being removed from the site.

"Ordinarily by this time there should only be bone-remains if it's true that
these bodies are of people who died in the 70s," the pathologist said.
"Certainly there should not be any smell at all from the remains over 30
years after those people died."

Over the past three weeks, members of the country's war veterans association
have been removing bodies from the mine. The veterans say they have long
known that the mine held dead bodies, but are acting now to protect them
from informal gold miners.

According to one of the war veterans on the scene, George Rutanhire, once
all the bodies have been exhumed from the mine - there are four other mine
shafts with bodies in them - they will be re-buried at the Mt Darwin
Provincial Heroes' Acre.

The Movement for Democratic Change party, which has been in an uneasy
government of national unity with ZANU-PF since 2008, insists the bodies
found are those of MDC activists who have disappeared without a trace in any
of several waves of political violence since 2000.

The MDC and ordinary Zimbabweans alike have queried the way bodies are being
removed by untrained personnel.

MDC deputy spokesperson Kurauone Chihwayi says he doubts the remains belong
to victims of the war. "These bodies look fresh; ZANU-PF should come clean
on the issue of these exhumations," he said.

"If those people died during the war, why are they only exhuming them now
when they claim to have known about the bodies all these years? Those
remains are of MDC [members] who were killed by ZANU-PF activists [beginning
in] 2000 and especially during the runoff elections of 2008."

Speaking for ZANU, spokesperson Rugare Gumbo dismissed the MDC’s claims.

"What do you expect from the MDC? It’s their standard line just to criticise
everything ZANU-PF does. They have got nothing to say."

Last week, the ZANU-PF's Fallen Heroes of Zimbabwe Trust forced school
children, teachers and villagers from the surrounding area to view the
decomposing remains so that they could "appreciate how evil whites are."

"Those villagers know that many of those remains are of MDC activists but
they are too scared to say it," said Chihwayi. "That’s why ZANU-PF is now
instilling fear by showing them those remains. This shows that we are again
not going to have free and fair elections."

The MDC has also accused its rival of trying to plant fear in the population
that those who don’t vote for it will end up dead. Mugabe has called for
fresh elections to be held this year.

Chihwayi said that by failing to use forensic techniques as the bodies are
uncovered, to establish when and how these people died, ZANU-PF is causing a
serious rift in the government of national unity.

"They must be transparent in the exhuming of these bodies. ZANU-PF is also
now using the remains for its propaganda purposes to up whip emotions ahead
of elections."

Human Rights Watch has accused security forces and ZANU-PF of beating,
torturing and killing political opponents.

Earlier this week, the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, warned that the human
rights situation in the country is getting worse, and predicted violence
would further intensify if the elections are held this year.

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Africa’s rhinos face worst poaching crisis in decades

25 March 2011

Well-equipped, sophisticated organized crime syndicates have killed more
than 800 African rhinos in the past three years - just for their horns. With
the most serious poaching upsurge in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Kenya,
Africa’s top rhino experts recently met in South Africa to assess the status
of rhinos across the continent and to identify strategies to combat the
poaching crisis.

“Although good biological management and anti-poaching efforts have led to
modest population gains for both species of African rhino, we are still very
concerned about the increasing involvement of organized criminal poaching
networks, and that, unless the rapid escalation in poaching in recent years
can be halted, continental rhino numbers could once again start to decline,”
says Dr Richard Emslie, scientific officer for the IUCN Species Survival
Commission’s (SSC) African Rhino Specialist Group (AfRSG).

South Africa alone lost 333 rhinos last year and so far this year has lost
more than 70. Most rhino horns leaving Africa are destined for Southeast
Asian medicinal markets that are believed to be driving the poaching
epidemic. In particular, Vietnamese nationals have been repeatedly
implicated in rhino crimes in South Africa.

Black rhinos (Diceros bicornis) currently number 4,840 (up from 4,240 in
2007), whilst white rhinos (Ceratotherium simum) are more numerous, with a
population of 20,150 (up from 17,500 in 2007). Population numbers are
increasing, however, with the rise in poaching, there is still cause for
concern due to inadequate funding to combat well-resourced organized

Rhino experts urged greater cooperation between wildlife investigators,
police and prosecutors; magistrates and judges to be more sensitive to rhino
issues; and assistance in developing new tools and technologies to detect
and intercept rhino poachers and horn traffickers. While the number of
arrests has increased there is an urgent need for improved conviction rates
and increased penalties for rhino-related crimes in some countries.

The AfRSG commended recent initiatives to combat poaching. These include the
establishment of a National Wildlife Crime Reaction Unit in South Africa,
increasing protection throughout the rhinos’ range, DNA fingerprinting of
rhino horn, regional information sharing and engaging with the authorities
in Vietnam. In addition, wildlife agencies are working closely with private
and community rhino custodians, as well as support organizations, to protect

“In South Africa, a large number of rhinos live on private land. Rhino
management, including control of rhino horn stockpiles and security, needs
to be improved and coordinated among rhino holders,” says Simon Stuart,
Chair of the IUCN Species Survival Commission. “This is essential if we are
going to face the poaching crisis head on.”

In some countries, white rhinos are still hunted as trophies. The group
noted that some professional hunters have demonstrated questionable and
unethical behaviour, adding that improved management of the allocation and
monitoring of hunting permit applications, especially in some South African
provinces, needs urgent attention.

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One in Three Children in Zimbabwe Suffers From Malnutrition - UNICEF Study

Christian Care Director Forbes Matonga said supplementary feeding schemes
were halted two years ago, leaving children far more vulnerable in times of
food shortages like those now hitting Zimbabwe

Tatenda Gumbo & Patience Rusere | Washington  24 March 2011

One in three children in Zimbabwe suffers from chronic malnutrition,
according to a new study by the United Nations Children’s Fund and the
country's public health authorities, who have urged action to help
vulnerable women as well as children.

The Situational Analysis on the Status of Women and Children’s Rights
concluded that malnutrition could contribute to more than 12,000 deaths a
year in the country.

UNICEF says Zimbabwe's malnutrition rates are similar to those of other
countries in the region but have climbed sharply since 1994 to reach nearly
40 percent.

The report found that the lack of access by many women and children to basic
social services and protections has contributed to their vulnerability,
which has also been increased by high levels of poverty and the HIV/AIDS
pandemic in Zimbabwe.

Nutritionists say remedial nutrition programs must target children in their
first three years or so. Without adequate nutrition a child can fail to
thrive, affecting early development, encouraging disease and eventually
reducing abilities in adulthood.

World Food Program HIV/AIDS adviser and nutritionist Francesca Elderman told
VOA Studio 7 reporter Tatenda Gumbo that regional organizations are putting
together nutritional supplement packages to relieve the crisis.

Christian Care, a leading World Food Program distribution partner in
Zimbabwe, says the suspension of supplementary feeding schemes could
increase malnutrition.

Christian Care Director Forbes Matonga told reporter Patience Rusere that
the program was abruptly halted two years ago, leaving children far more
vulnerable in times of food shortages like those looming in several
Zimbabwean provinces due to drought and rising costs which have put basic
foodstuffs out of reach for many households.

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Zimbabwe's Anglicans forced to worship in pubs

Tens of thousands of Zimbabwe's Anglicans are being forced to worship in
pubs, tents and private schools while their churches stand empty, shuttered
by a controversial bishop loyal to President Robert Mugabe.

By Peta Thornycroft, Harare and Aislinn Laing in Johannesburg 6:29PM GMT 25
Mar 2011

About 40 per cent of the country's Anglican churches are now in the hands of
Nolbert Kunonga, who was unfrocked as Bishop of Harare in 2007 after he
split from the Anglican province of Central Africa in protest at the
introduction of homosexual priests.

When worshippers chose to follow the official church's newly-appointed
Bishop of Harare, Chad Gandiya, they were chased out of Harare's cathedral
and tear-gassed by police.

Many churches are now only unlocked for services for a handful of stalwarts
of Mr Mugabe's Zanu-PF party. Followers of Mr Kunonga have torn down the
cathedral's colonial artefacts, broken up pews bearing memorial plaques,
taken over church buildings including a ten-storey city centre office block
and rented out the Bishop's residence.

Mr Kunonga, who swore Mr Mugabe into office in June 2008, was given a
white-owned farm north of Harare following the land seizures in 2000.

Anglican bishops are now awaiting a ruling from the Supreme Court which they
hope will restore church property. For now, they are leading services in any
facility open to them.

Last Sunday, 150 worshippers packed into the Stewards lounge of the
Mashonaland Turf Club above Zimbabwe's only racecourse.

They took communion among the bar stools and sang hymns in the majority
Shona language accompanied by drums.

One of the lay preachers, Mary Nyandoro, told the congregation: "God expects
us to live a full life regardless of what we are going through, like
worshipping in a pub. We built a house in which to worship but must now pray

In central Harare, 27 Zanu-PF supporters worshipped in the 1,000-seater St
Mary and All Saints Cathedral and sang, unaccompanied, "Onward Christian
soldiers" in English.

Bishop Gandiya said 30 churches in Harare alone were now out of bounds to
his flock, including those with large congregations in the high-density
suburbs. "These congregations are so determined to continue worshipping
within the Anglican community that they have all found alternative places,"
he said.

Julius Makoni, Bishop of the Manicaland diocese in eastern Zimbabwe, said Mr
Kunonga has also taken over St John's Cathedral in provincial capital,
Mutare. "We worship in the Mutare Sports Club," Bishop Makoni said.

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Campaign to intimidate and threaten leaders of social justice movement

Posted: 25 March 2011

Amnesty International has today called on authorities in Zimbabwe to end the
harassment of Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu, the two leaders of the
social justice movement Women of Zimbabwe Arise, commonly known as WOZA.

Since WOZA staged its ninth annual Valentine’s Day peaceful protest in
Bulawayo, the police have returned repeatedly to the homes of Jenni Williams
and Magodonga Mahlangu in an attempt to find them. After questioning a human
rights lawyer about the whereabouts of Jenni and Magodonga, one police
officer is reported to have said that the two women must ‘prepare themselves
for a long detention.’

Despite this threat, no reason has as yet been given for the search –
raising fears that the two could be arbitrarily arrested and detained.

On 28 February, seven WOZA and Men of Zimbabwe Arise (MOZA) members were
arrested in Bulawayo and detained for two days. While in custody, the
activists were allegedly tortured using a method known as falanga, in which
victims are beaten on the soles of their feet. They were also repeatedly
asked for details of the whereabouts of Jenni and Magodonga.

Amnesty International’s Country Campaigns Manager, Kristyan Benedict said:

“Jenni and Magodonga are no strangers to persecution by the police in
Zimbabwe.  And given the recent increase in systematic targeting of human
rights activists across the country which has included numerous arrests,
unlawful detentions and even alleged acts of torture, there’s even greater
reason to fear for the safety of these women.

“We’re urging the Zimbabwean authorities to put an end to these dreadful
acts of repression immediately and to put a stop to shameful attempts to
stop men and women demanding their human rights across Zimbabwe.”

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"Mugabe will rule Zim forerever"

By Pindai Dube
Friday, 25 March 2011 12:49

BULAWAYO - As the bootlicking of President Robert Mugabe reaches new levels
in Zanu PF, Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa has described the
87-year-old as an elephant who will rule Zimbabwe forever.

Addressing Zanu PF supporters at Stanley Square in Makokoba high density
suburb on Saturday during the launch of party’s anti-sanctions petition in
the Bulawayo province, Mnangagwa, who himself harbours ambitions of becoming
president, said nobody will stop Mugabe from continuing with his rule.

Mnangagwa, who in 2004 was accused of hatching a plan to side step Mugabe in
what later became known as the Tsholotsho Declaration, has in the past few
years gone on a crusade of praise singing the ageing leader.

Top Zanu PF officials, have since independence fallen over each other in
singing praises for Mugabe with some blasphemously calling him the “only
other son of God” while more recently, the Minister of Information Webster
Shamu said Mugabe was like “Cremora”.

Ironically, in the later 90s Shamu led a futile campaign to dethrone Mugabe
from being leader of Zanu PF. Due to the bootlicking, former Zimbabwe’s iron
lady of politics, Margaret Dongo described the Zanu PF officials as “Mugabe’s
wives”, for being scared of him.

And Mnangagwa, lived to this reputation while in Bulawayo last Saturday.

“President Mugabe will continue ruling this country. Nobody will stop him,
even if the GPA collapses he will continue ruling. Zimbabweans you are
actually lucky to have a brave man like him,” said Mnangagwa.

Mnangagwa, who is also Zanu PF secretary for legal affairs added that
“Mugabe is like an elephant and many western countries especially Britain
are scared of him that’s why they slapped him with sanctions”.

Last month, Mnangagwa said heads of foreign firms could be forced to go on
radio to publicly denounce western sanctions imposed on Mugabe and cronies,
or face losing 90% of their company shareholding.

The US and EU have imposed targeted sanctions on Mugabe and his inner circle
for human rights abuses, vote rigging, disregard of property rights and
other issues.

Mugabe’s Zanu PF party has been calling for the removal of the sanctions for
years now, blaming the West’s restrictive measures for the country’s
destruction. Two weeks ago, Mugabe launched a national anti-sanctions
petition which he said needs two million signatures.

Meanwhile, Zanu PF youths caused chaos outside Stanley Square during the
Saturday address by Mnangagwa, as they were blocking traffic and
demonstrating along Third Avenue extension, waving placards, denouncing the

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OPINION: Zim crying out for leadership

by Tony Hawkins     Friday 25 March 2011

Two years after its inception Zimbabwe’s government of national unity is on
the brink of collapse. Relations between President Robert Mugabe and Prime
Minister Morgan Tsvangirai have broken down irrevocably. So much so in fact
that the president’s Zanu-PF party is reported to be planning Tsvangirai’s
arrest on allegations of contempt of court.

This follows his angry denunciation of the judiciary for its supreme court
ruling that nullified the election of Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
parliamentary speaker Lovemore Moyo.

This is just the latest in a series of incidents, including the arrest of
MDC energy minister Elton Mangoma two weeks ago on allegations of
corruption, demonstrating that the two parties can no longer work together.

Despite this, the SA mediators continue to claim that the government of
national unity is still functional and will soon agree on a “roadmap”
setting out the framework for fresh elections.

On the face of it both main parties — Zanu-PF and the MDC — want elections
this year, but because Tsvangirai’s party is insisting that elections can be
held only once a new constitution and electoral reforms are in place, a 2011
poll is unlikely.

The official line from the parliamentary committee responsible for drafting
a new constitution is that the process will be complete by mid year. But
politicians say that a draft agreed by the committee will be no more than
the basis for negotiations that could take months, if not years.

Loveless marriage

All of this means that the loveless marriage will have to survive another
year of worsening tensions or that the MDC will have to agree to a poll
which it knows will be rigged against it.

Mugabe wants elections soon because he senses a window of opportunity in the
West’s growing preoccupation with the Middle East. He is also benefiting
from the diamond windfall of at least US$100m/month, which his party is
better placed to exploit than the MDC, and the improved economic outlook
largely pegged to booming world commodity prices and interest from Brazil,
Russia, India and China (Bric) in Zimbabwe’s mineral and land resources.

Mugabe believes, probably rightly, that the West’s influence over Zimbabwe
will continue to diminish and that by hitching its wagon to the West, the
MDC has blundered tactically.

Though the MDC would be favourite to win a reasonably free and fair
election, there is little doubt that it has lost ground over the past year,
in part because it has failed to deliver on many of its promises, but also
because again and again it has been seen to be outwitted by the president .

Like him or loathe him, Mugabe is a consummate politician and astute
tactician, especially in comparison with the popular, but indecisive
Tsvangirai whose flip-flop management style is the despair of some of his
top aides.

Odds against Tsvangirai

To be fair to Tsvangirai, the odds are heavily weighted against him. His
advisers who negotiated the so-called Global Political Agreement bestowed
him with the position of prime minister, with responsibility but little
power. The real power lies with the ZANU PF politburo, the military, the
police and the bench — all of which are ZANU-PF-dominated.

In this situation, Tsvangirai’s increasing frustration is understandable,
especially as African political leaders look north. They will be fearfully
watching events in North Africa and will be disinclined to be seen to be
supporting a trade union populist like Tsvangirai against a founding father,
liberation hero and one of their own.

The good news for Zimbabweans is that so long as the commodity boom
continues, the economy, which grew 8% last year, will continue its recovery.

Finance minister Tendai Biti forecasts 9,3% growth in 2011 with modest
inflation of 4,5%. However, because investment is constrained by political
uncertainty, not least ZANU-PF’s indigenisation plan (where it has been
mooted that 51% of all businesses in Zimbabwe be held by Zimbabweans)
hanging over foreign business like the sword of Damocles, this upturn could
run out of steam.

What business needs is early elections that result in a popularly elected
and internationally recognised government. Ironically, though, business
leaders have set their face against elections in 2011, arguing that the
process would be flawed, violent and unlikely to throw up a clear- cut
winner. So business says it prefers the devil it knows — a dysfunctional
coalition government — to the unknown.

This is all very well for the time being but continuing economic momentum
depends on world prices and some take-up of spare capacity. There are very
real limits to growth, especially infrastructural bottlenecks and
particularly electricity.

The new normal

Then there is the $7bn foreign debt overhang, $5bn of it in arrears. There
is little prospect of securing a debt-restructuring deal with Zimbabwe’s
creditors until a new government is in place.

So though growth rates of 8% or 9% may sound impressive, in truth the
economy is doing little more than tread water. Jobs are still being shed as
firms come to grips with “the new normal” of dollarisation.

The finance ministry is unable to finance more than a third of departmental
spending bids, and crucial strategic decisions are on hold while investors
wait for the politicians to sort out their differences.

Zimbabwe is a country that has long been failed by its politicians, as well
as by regional and Western leaders. It is crying out for leadership, which
neither the 87- year-old president nor Tsvangirai seems able to provide,
suggesting that the status quo will drag on for some time yet.

There is no shortage of theories of what it will take to break the log jam,
ranging from Mugabe’s health to Tsvangirai’s dismissal by the military,
tantamount to a coup.

The South Africans like to believe that they can manage a “soft landing”,
but if truth be told a smooth transition is more likely to be achieved
despite Pretoria than because of it. – This article was first published by
the Financial Mail

    * Tony Hawkins is professor of economics at the University of Zimbabwe
has said.

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