12 MAY 2013 13:33 - AP
Zimbabwe's state radio says police arrested three polling campaigners for
illegally promoting voter awareness ahead of crucial elections.
The station said on Sunday the activists were not authorised to carry out
voter education by the official elections commission. It said they were
giving out information on polling procedures in an upmarket Harare suburb on
Another 19 democracy activists were arrested last month for allegedly
impersonating state election officials in a drive to get potential electors
to register their names on voters' lists. They are still waiting to appear
President Robert Mugabe (89) said on Friday he would proclaim a date for the
elections next week, after the Parliament passes a new constitution.
He wants polls earlier than the September date demanded by his opponents in
the dispute-ridden coalition government. – Sapa-AP
by Staff Reporter
THE Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has moved to calm market concerns over
the future of AfrAsia Kingdom Bank following reports the institution was
threatened with collapse over a US$21 million exposure to a local telecoms
According to a local weekly, a dispute between Kingdom founder Nigel
Chanakira and former Econet Wireless executive Zachary Wazara’s Spiritage
group was at the core of the bank’s problems.
Kingdom moved to take-over Spiritage unit Valley Technologies after the firm
failed to service a US$21 million facility extended by the bank but Wazara
is contesting the development.
In a statement Friday, the RBZ said it was mediating in the dispute between
Chanakira and Wazara and insisted that the “situation at the bank was under
control for normal operations to continue".
“We are aware of the dispute between Chanakira and Wazara which we are in
the process of mediating with a view to resolving amicably,” the RBZ said.
“We are also aware of the measures which are currently being undertaken by
Kingdom Bank with a view to regularising and addressing the performance
aspect of all major facilities, including the facility in question, Valley
In a letter to the central bank seen by the Independent newspaper, Wazara
said Kingdom entered an 80% debt-for-equity deal with Valley Technologies
after the telecoms firm failed to service its obligations with the bank.
According to Wazara, the deal was based on an understanding that Kingdom
would allow a Chinese investor to take-over the company but the bank
allegedly reneged on the agreement, foreclosed on the loan and moved to
auction assets pledged as security.
Wazara also claimed that Kingdom had used the Valley Technologies deal to
mask capitalisation weaknesses ahead of a December 2012 deadline imposed by
the central bank.
"The bank advised (us) they were concerned that Reserve Bank would require
them to provide for the loan, and with a capitalisation of US$23 million,
they (Kingdom Bank) would be required to hand over their licence," he said.
"Now that they crossed December 31 milestone, the bank is seeking to reverse
the transaction in a very unceremonious manner."
Mauritius-based AfrAsia Bank, which assumed a 35 percent interest in Kingdom
after investing about US$9.5 million to help the bank meet new capital
requirements, was said to be now considering its involvement in the group.
However, the RBZ said AfrAsia was still committed to Kingdom.
“In view of our onsite and offsite evaluations of the bank, and concrete
measures being taken by the bank with our approval and given the quality of
the major shareholder AfrAsia Bank and their commitment to ensure the
stability of the bank, we are confident that eh situation is under control
for normal business to continue,” said the RBZ.
“We have also undertaken to approve and facilitate all legal and
administrative requirements on the part of AfrAsia and any other
shareholder … should it become necessary that they inject more money and
increase their shareholding which, ultimately, will see the bank emerging
Kingdom spokesperson Sekai Chitemerere would not discuss the developments
saying: "Ordinarily, the group does not discuss with the press each and
every disagreement or dispute that we encounter with our clients and
associates, and the one in question is not an exception.
“In addition to that, Kingdom Bank Ltd does not comment on individual
clients owing to the client-confidentiality clauses that we strictly
Sunday, 12 May 2013 11:52
HARARE - Zimbabwe is losing a large chunk of its revenues to thieves in
government, Finance minister Tendai Biti has claimed.
Government departments are not remitting cash to Treasury and other forms of
theft of minerals are on the rise in Zimbabwe, the MDC secretary-general
told a party newsletter, and said the corruption that pervades the nation
often sees that money go into political leaders’ pockets rather than toward
Zimbabwe relies on mining and agriculture for government revenues.
“The ministry of Home Affairs and everything that is below it are not
remitting to Treasury,” Biti said. “For instance, the Passport Office
collects an average of $1,5 million a week although themselves they claim
its $800 000. It is not coming to us.”
Home Affairs minister Kembo Mohadi was unreachable for comment yesterday,
while her counterpart Theresa Makone was in meetings when the Daily News
Biti also claimed police were not remitting any cash to Treasury as well.
“At roadblocks, the police are collecting about $2 million a month; the
money is not coming to us,” Biti said. “It is a breach of the law as section
103 of the Constitution stipulates that every cent that is collected in
Zimbabwe must be accounted to the Consolidated Revenue Fund, which is under
Parliament although administered by ministry of Finance.
“It is not happening. We have no problem if they say they want to retain, we
will allow them to retain even 100 percent but it must come to us first to
comply with the law but it is not happening.”
Police spokesperson Charity Charamba said: “The minister lied to the nation
that the Zimbabwe Republic Police is collecting about $2 million dollars per
month from roadblocks, which it is not remitting to Treasury. The minister
is fully aware that the organisation is only retaining a paltry $500 000 and
authority to this effect is in place.”
A spate of corruption scandals have damaged confidence in President Robert
Mugabe’s pledge to reform the southern African nation’s economy, which
suffers economic stagnation, collapsing infrastructure and crippling power
Corruption scandals, particularly involving billions from the Marange
diamond fields, have dogged Mugabe, including the alleged use of the vast
revenues for social programmes unfurled in his re-election bid.
Diamond sector reforms are being debated in Cabinet, while a new mining
policy is being put to public debate nationwide.
Biti said Marange diamonds have only benefited well-connected elite amid
reports by Partnership Africa Canada — a member of the Kimberley Process —
that at least $2 billion of diamonds have been stolen by people linked to
“We have people with degrees of looting and stealing,” Biti said. “Our
diamonds exports last year were $800 million and only $45 million came to
Zimbabwe. Why are those running diamond firms not patriots or nationalists
when they belong to a nationalist party? Predatory and primitive
accumulation is killing this country. The cancer of this economy is
Goodwills Masimirembwa, chairperson of state-owned Zimbabwe Mining
Development Corporation (ZMDC) — which jointly operates mining companies in
Marange — denied the theft charges, and said diamond sales were $700 million
not $800 million, of which 15 percent was paid as royalties to revenue
collector Zimra at the diamond auctions.
“Biti has continued to lie to the nation; he refuses to acknowledge Zimra
takes 15 percent at source in royalties. At every sale, Zimra is there they
take 15 percent, which amounts to $120 million. This amount is outside the
$45 million he is talking about.”
Sharpening his economic message, Biti is claiming credit for an improving
“The greatest thing that we did was to stop the economic haemorrhage and to
restore macroeconomic stability,” Biti said. “When I became Finance
minister, inflation was hovering above 500 billion percent and there was no
food in shops as well as fuel. Between 2009 and 2011 Zimbabwe was the
fastest growing economy in the world.”
Thumbing his nose at Zanu PF’s indigenisation drive, Biti said the
Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act was a “poorly crafted piece of
legislation” that he said threatens Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and is
being poorly implemented.
“You cannot craft an Act basing on a transformation programme that demands
that whatever black Zimbabweans have to own, they must buy the shares,” Biti
said. “That is a disaster because which black person has that money in
Zimbabwe? Once you introduce the issue of value and consideration only the
elite blacks will continue benefiting, so you have done nothing.”
Mugabe has vowed to continue with his radical empowerment policy forcing
foreign firms to surrender 51 percent shareholding to local blacks.
At stake in the election is not only the future of Mugabe’s leftist
empowerment “revolution,” but the continuation of socialist programmes,
which the MDC has threatened to repudiate once they won in the forthcoming
Government officials said Biti was playing with fire, offending Mugabe by
criticising the handling of the indigenisation deals.
“The other disaster is the manner in which it is being implemented,” Biti
said. “It is being implemented in an opaque, nocturnal and illegal manner.
These Community (Share Ownership) Trusts, you don’t find them anywhere in
the Act and once again we are back to the matrix of predatory and extractive
accumulation. It is not transparent because the deals are neither reported
to Parliament nor Cabinet.
“This legislation is actually threatening the growth of the economy and
investors are shunning Zimbabwe as an investment destination. What we
require as a growing economy are sound economic policies that are investor
friendly. We in the MDC are pushing a new approach to resuscitate and
develop the economy through the Jobs Upliftment Investment Capital
Environment (Juice) blueprint.”
Juice is an ambitious US$100 billion economic stimulus package that aims to
make Zimbabwe’s economy robust once the MDC takes power by creating one
million jobs by 2018, increasing economic growth rates exponentially,
further reducing inflation, delivering a $100 billion economy by 2040,
improving electricity generation and building a social contract.
The southern African country’s economy that collapsed under the weight of
runaway hyperinflation which peaked at 500 billion percent in 2008 has been
growing by an average of five percent since 2009.
A confident MDC says it is sure of ending Mugabe and Zanu PF’s rule in the
next election and setting the country’s economy on a new path.
“I believe that party candidate, Morgan Tsvangirai, will win the
presidential election with 75 percent of the electoral vote,” Biti said.
“President Tsvangirai is the only man in Zimbabwe with the chemistry and
heart for the people. People are tired of 33 years of hunger and they want
“We are the messengers of this change. We are fighting the most
sophisticated dictatorship on the continent, the most risk taking regime on
the continent.” - Gift Phiri, Political Editor
by Brenna Matendere
The United Movement for Democracy Party led by South Africa-based
businessman Mutumwa Mawere was officially launched in the city today.
Though Mawere did not show up at the event held at Vashandiri Centre, a
training institution for technical studies, Organising Secretary Ashwell
Mutiriki-Mawere told attendants that the former Shabanie-Mashava Mines owner
is president of the party. At present his deputy is yet to be appointed
while the position of National Chairman is still unfilled.
The meeting saw the new party unveiling its party slogan- “Simunye, We are
one; Tirivamwe, We are one.” The slogan is chanted with one’s raised
forefinger pointing into the sky. No-one was clothed in the party regalia
but sources said their symbol consists of the Great Zimbabwe ruins.
Executive members from Harare, Chitungwiza, Chinhoyi, Masvingo and Gweru
The gathering saw party supporters singing songs in praise of Mawere like
“Mutumwa akauya ndoenda naye” (If Mutumwa comes I will go with him) which is
a Christian verse. In Christianity, Mutumwa refers to Jesus.
Addressing the gathering, Mutiriki-Mawere who refused to confirm or deny
reports that he is Mawere biological son, said the formation of the UMDP was
inspired by the failures of the present inclusive government.
“Five years after the inclusive government was formed, companies are still
battling for survival; unemployment is still too high and our economy weak
as shown by continued abandonment of our local currency. Corruption is
rampant and the education sector is in doldrums as exhibited by last year’s
national pass rate of 18 percent at Ordinary Level,” he said.
“We are spearheading an economic revolution. We believe a better future of
Zimbabwe lies with us and come next elections, Mutumwa Mawere should be
given the mandate to occupy state house,” said Mutiriki-Mawere.
Responding on the reasons why Mawere who holds a District Chairperson’s post
in South Africa’s former liberation movement party ANC has in the past
distanced himself from reports that he is leader of UMDP, Mutiriki-Mawere
said at that time he was not.
“The last media comment he gave was that if he was nominated by any party to
lead it, he could even contest in England. During the time he was
disassociating himself from UMDP, he was not yet our leader. But he now is.
He should have come for the launch. However, it happened that he became held
up in South Africa,” said Mutiriki-Mawere.
In 2004, the then Zanu (PF) government grabbed Mawere’s Shabanie-Mashava
asbestos mine and put it under “reconstruction, a development that has made
the empire collapse. At its peak the firm alone contributed 10 percent to
the Gross Domestic Product while employing thousands of people in
Zvishavane. Though he was despecified last year, Zanu (PF) has refused to
give him his mine back.
Sunday, 12 May 2013 11:46
MASVINGO - Zanu PF national party chairman Simon Khaya Moyo and political
commissar Webster Shamu are set to descend on Masvingo Province today for a
mission that could leave Defence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa’s faction
Mnangagwa is reportedly engaged in a fierce battle to succeed President
Robert Mugabe with bitter rival Vice President Joice Mujuru.
Khaya Moyo and Shamu were invited to Masvingo by a faction believed to be
aligned to Mujuru.
Insiders say the faction has been calling for the expulsion of the Masvingo
provincial executive led by Lovemore Matuke, who reportedly belongs to the
In a letter seen by the Daily News, Zanu PF Masvingo political commissar
Trainos Huruva invited Khaya Moyo — who heads a crack team formed by the
politburo to “unite” the party ahead of polls — to visit the province today.
Insiders in the former ruling party told the Daily News yesterday that
Matuke’s days as the head of the troubled province could be numbered.
Among other allegations Matuke, who did not attend Independence Day
celebrations, is accused of blocking aspiring candidates to stand in primary
elections even though Zanu PF is yet to complete the primary elections
He is also accused of barring candidates from a rival faction from
campaigning, while his faction is publicly campaigning.
Matuke, who denies the allegations, confirmed that his executive will be
meeting today with Khaya Moyo and Shamu but denied that they face dismissal.
“It’s true that there will be a meeting tomorrow and Cde Khaya Moyo and
Shamu will be there. I do not know where this issue of dissolving our
executive or suspending it is coming from but as far as I know they are
coming to get an update on our state of preparedness for elections as a
party in the province,” Matuke said.
But precedence in other troubled provinces such as Bulawayo and Mutare where
chairpersons have been suspended point to a possible shake-up in the
province where Zanu PF has been losing ground to the MDC. - Godfrey Mtimba
Sunday, 12 May 2013 11:43
BULAWAYO - A storm is brewing over mining activities in the Gwayi Valley
Intensive Conservation Area as conservationists blame government ministers
for misleading President Robert Mugabe into granting mining rights to the
Chinese without due consideration.
A Matabeleland North-based conservation group has accused government
ministers who presented the Environmental Impact Assessment report to Mugabe
of deliberately misrepresenting facts for personal aggrandisement.
Zimbabwe allowed China Africa Sunlight Energy to mine coal in the Gwayi
Valley through a special presidential grant two years ago.
But, according to experts, coal mining activities in the area are
threatening to contaminate underground water streams due to chemicals such
as ammonia, benzene and carbon that would be released into the ground as a
result of mining activities.
Gwayi Valley Intensive Conservation Area chairperson Langton Masunda told
journalists at the Bulawayo Press Club that Mugabe was blameless on the
matter that has attracted strong contentions from conservationists.
Masunda accused the committee tasked with conducting a consultation process
on the coal mining activities of “deliberately avoiding major stakeholders
that have the scientific knowledge, making their Environmental Impact
“When politicians begin to invade the business space using their political
muscle everything becomes messed up. Environmental Management Agency
compiled its report but those guidelines were not adhered to,” he said.
Condemning the mining activities, Masunda said over the past 12 years, they
had not lost any rhino in the conservancy area but already two have been
killed since the “invasion”, by mining companies in the process robbing the
State of thousands of dollars in potential revenue.
“We have never lost a rhino for the past 12 years but since the Chinese went
in already we have lost two which is a clear destruction of an endangered
species that might benefit the community.
“Already two aquifers have been blown up just during the exploration process
not the actual mining process,” he added.
In 1990 President Mugabe decreed that a habitat of hundreds of elephants
that roam the scenic safari area of the Hwange National Park were protected
from culling and hunting.
“Ministers come and put proposals which the president is too busy to do.
“The ministers that advised the president might have misrepresented or
withheld some vital information,” Masunda said, singling out the ministries
of tourism, mines and environment as responsible.
“Those who advised the president on that particular project made the wrong
decision and when they presented it to him, they presented it with rosiness
in it like a love letter,” Masunda added.
Masunda claimed that he has since engaged the minister of Water Resources
Samuel Sipepa Nkomo and Environment and Natural Resource Management minister
Francis Nhema, whom he said also shared similar concerns.
The Gwayi Valley Intensive Conservation Area is worried that the project
will certainly degrade the environment and affect the tourism sector while
also compromising relations with regional partners such as Botswana and
The region has for years been plagued by perennial water woes which it fears
are likely to worsen as the Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project, that would
rely on the construction of the Gwayi-Shangani Dam would be adversely
affected by the mining activities in the area.
Sunday 12 May 2013
A Frenchman in line to become a Scottish Nationalist MSP has been criticised
for defending Zimbabwe dictator Robert Mugabe's notorious land reform
Christian Allard said Mugabe's land redistribution, when his government
forcibly seized farms, was needed, and slammed an award-winning film on the
plight of one of the farmers as being "for white people to support white
In 1979, Mugabe agreed a land-reform policy which involved buying white
people's farms. But in 2000 he began to pursue a strategy of seizing
white-controlled land without compensation.
This led to beatings and forced evictions, and has been denounced by Amnesty
International as a "corrupt and violent system".
In 2009, Lucy Bailey and Andrew Thompson directed a documentary about farmer
Mike Campbell and his son-in-law Ben Freeth as they fought Mugabe's policy
in the courts.
A tribunal of the Southern African Development Community ruled the
confiscation of Campbell's farm was racially discriminatory, but Mugabe's
regime ignored the findings.
The film, Mugabe and The White African, was listed for an Oscar, nominated
for a Bafta and was voted best documentary at the British Independent Film
But in a series of internet postings, Allard savaged the film, saying: "I
agree the comments from the dictator are often vile, but so are the comments
of Mike Campbell ... Let me be clear, they are men from the past who refuse
to accept that Africa is moving on.
"Robert Mugabe and Mike Campbell won't be there for long and every copy of
this 'documentary' should be buried with them."
He also wrote: "Mike Campbell, a South African army captain - came to
Zimbabwe from South Africa in 1974, in the middle of the guerrilla war
against the black majority ... Original Rhodesian white farmers have now all
left or have complied with the land reform."
He added: "This 'documentary' was made for white people to support white
people to keep hold of the land in Africa."
Allard is set to become a list SNP MSP because MSP Mark McDonald is likely
to be chosen as the party's candidate in the coming Aberdeen Donside
by-election. If he is, he must vacate his list seat, meaning Allard takes
The documentary's producers, Elizabeth Hemlock and David Pearson, said: "Mr
Allard seems to have no concern about the violence directed at the Campbell
and Freeth families and [about] the 500 farm workers and their families who
lived on the farm.
"The Campbell family were kidnapped and brutally beaten and the injuries
sustained by Mike Campbell contributed to his death in 2011."
On Friday, Allard said: "I feel very sorry for the white farmers and what
happened to them, but the black majority are suffering more."
However, the SNP press office then provided a statement in his name. It
said: "Like every right-thinking person, I abhor the regime of Robert Mugabe
and its brutal land grabs. My point is that land reform must always be
pursued democratically and consensually."
A suspected poacher has reportedly been trampled to death by an elephant as
he tried to shoot the beast in Zimbabwe.
By Emily Miller 3:26PM BST 12 May 2013
The bloodied remains of Solomon Manjoro were found by rangers after what was
thought to be a botched poaching trip at the protected Charara safari area
inside a national park.
Zimbabwe's Sunday Mail reported that the local man was charged by the
elephant after he entered the game reserve for an illegal hunting trip with
The dead man's alleged accomplice Noluck Tafuruka, 29, was later arrested
inside the park and charged with illegal possession of a firearm.
The state-controlled Sunday Mail reported: "The poacher was recently
trampled to death by an elephant after he failed to gun down the jumbo
during a hunting expedition."
It is believed Manjoro and Tafuruka encountered the elephant after entering
the huge game reserve at the end of April.
Police believe the pair, who were allegedly carrying unlicensed weapons,
faced up to the beast and attempted to shoot it.
However Manjoro was killed when the animal failed to fall and instead
charged towards him.
Tafuruka was later arrested by local police inside the Charara reserve,
which lies near Zimbabwe's Lake Kariba in the north west of the country.
A third man, Godfrey Shonge, 52, from capital Harare, has also been arrested
over the incident.
The pair appeared last week in court to face charges of illegal possession
of firearms and of contravention of local wildlife laws.
The magistrate was told Manjoro and Tafuruka had entered the National Park
between April 19 and 26 with the sole intention of poaching.
Incidents of elephant poaching have been on the rise in recent years, driven
by increased demand for ivory.
The valuable substance is sold on the black market and often smuggled to
Asian countries including China, where it is used for ornaments and
Staff Reporter 3 hours 11 minutes ago
The issue of security sector and media reforms ahead of the next elections
continues to be a bone of contention in the coalition government.
Zanu (PF) says it will not accede to any more demands for reforms on the
grounds that the new constitution will lay the ground for a free and fair
Faced with this stiff resistance the two MDCs are looking to the Southern
African Development Community in the hope that it will be able to whip
President Robert Mugabe and his party into line.
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai recently embarked on a diplomatic offensive
in which he sought to encourage regional leaders to exert pressure for
reforms before the polls. Mixed feelings have been expressed on whether
South African President Jacob Zuma and SADC are willing to able to do so.
SADC itself is on record saying that reforms agreed to under the GPA should
be implemented before elections are held. Political analyst Alexander Rusero
says Mugabe has a history of resisting and then giving in at the last
“SADC is the guarantor of the GPA and Mugabe will not want to be seen as
going against it or the AU. What is happening now is all about buying time
and dilly dallying - but I think Mugabe himself is fed up with all this.
Remember - Zuma is just a facilitator and the whole idea is for the internal
forces, the MDCs, to pressurize Mugabe into complying,” said Rusero.
Another analyst, Rejoice Ngwenya, said it would be suicidal for the two MDC
formations to wholly rely on Zuma and SADC. “Mugabe can choose to ignore
Zuma because there is nothing in law that can compel Zuma to do anything.
Mugabe can ignore Zuma because he knows that SADC is a toothless bulldog.
“But Tsvangirai, Ncube and Dabengwa can say that they will not go for
elections if these reforms are not implemented. The question is not whether
Zuma will succeed or not, but why it has taken so long for the MDCs to
continue with the business of Parliament without these reforms in place,”
Media analyst Pedzisayi Ruhanya said Zuma and SADC would have an uphill task
tackling Mugabe without the support of democratic institutions inside
Zimbabwe. “It is not only a matter for President Zuma to address but also
for the MDC-T and other democratic players to push. If there is a lot of
pressure within Zimbabwe, this will give Zuma more power and legitimacy to
make sure Mugabe agrees to all the other reforms - not only media reforms.
“The most important thing is that internal democratic actors should push
hard so that when Zuma speaks, he speaks with power and authority. If
Zimbabweans are silent, that will make it difficult for Zuma to push
Mugabe,” said Ruhanya.
Most analysts say the fact that the Zimbabwean crisis has been, and
continues to be, discussed at SADC and other regional and international
forums should not be interpreted to mean there could be a speedy resolution
to the crisis. In his Independence Day address last month, Mugabe said he
was embarrassed to hear other countries discussing political violence and
unrest in Zimbabwe. MDC-N Secretary General Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga
recently told a public discussion on elections in the capital that the
Zimbabwean issue had become a source of embarrassment.
“I cringe with embarrassment because SADC leaders confront us directly
asking us why we cannot put our house in order,” she said. But she also
expressed confidence that SADC would eventually succeed in its efforts to
ensure reforms before elections. “Zanu (PF) today will not be allowed to get
away with any unilateral actions like they have done in the past,” she said.
May 12 2013 at 01:24pm
By Dumisani Muleya.
I had started my Monday morning work in a good frame of mind and a happy
disposition as I was going to welcome from Joburg a longtime friend,
Relibile Manala, with whom I went to high school.
The weather was also sunny; clear as the azure sky of a deep blue summer,
keeping me cheerful. So I expected an auspicious welcome for Manala in
Harare, which he had last visited 15 years ago before his uncle died. A few
months ago I had been a guest at his beautiful wedding in Mahikeng where we
had lots of fun.
We had been planning his visit for some weeks and everything seemed to be
going well until the Monday afternoon he arrived at my office in central
Harare, next to the Zanu-PF headquarters.
The situation changed dramatically. I was informed by Loud Ramakgapola,
human resources manager of Alpha Media – publishers of the weekly Zimbabwe
Independent which I edit, the daily NewsDay and the Sunday weekly Standard
newspapers – that the police were looking for us.
Alpha Media is owned by Mail & Guardian proprietor Trevor Ncube, a veteran
Zimbabwean journalist and now the country’s biggest individual media mogul.
The police, Ramakgapola told me, wanted to see our chief reporter, Owen
Gagare, a company representative who usually in such cases is our internal
lawyer, Nqobile Ndlovu, and myself, in connection with an army story we had
been running for the previous two weeks.
The story was basically about disclosures by Housing Minister Giles
Mutsekwa, a former army major and MDC-T secretary for defence and security,
that he had been secretly meeting with Zimbabwe Defence Forces chiefs –
including commander General Constantine Chiwenga, Zimbabwe National Army
chief of staff (responsible for general staff) Major-General Martin Chedondo
and chief of staff (quartermaster) Major-General Douglas Nyikayaramba – to
discuss electoral politics and the political scenario after elections.
Mutsekwa also told us he was in the process of arranging a meeting with
chief of staff (administration) Major-General Trust Mugoba.
He said he had also met Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri. All
this was on record.
The common denominator among Chiwenga, Chihuri, Chedondo, Nyikayaramba and
Mugoba, besides being soldiers, is that they are military hardliners who
have vowed to back President Robert Mugabe and Zanu-PF to the hilt, come
They have repeatedly said in public that they would not accept Prime
Minister Morgan Tsvangirai as Zimbabwean president even if he won the
elections. Some of them say they would rather resign if he takes over, while
others have been insinuating a coup.
This is the single biggest threat to Zimbabwe’s transition from dictatorship
to democracy. So Mutsekwa said he was talking to the security service chiefs
to manage the volatile and fragile political transition, especially if
So after writing the story, we thought it was fairly straightforward stuff,
nothing to sweat about even in a country where writing about the security
forces, never mind the content, is deemed potentially treasonous by
When it comes to such things, in Zimbabwe a journalist is guilty until
proven innocent, not the other way around.
Of course, in terms of the constitution and the law, you are innocent until
proven guilty, but Mugabe’s henchmen see the constitution as theoretical
nonsense. That is why they brazenly violate the laws through partisan
political activities and remarks without qualms.
So Ramakgapola said he had a message for me from Detective Assistant
Inspector John Peter Mudyirwa. He had left his number and wanted to see us
as soon as possible, but preferably on Tuesday at 8am at Harare central
I immediately called Mudyirwa and introduced myself. After a few seconds of
pleasantries, he confirmed that the police were looking for us and we must
report at the station at 8am on Tuesday without fail.
Although I had been arrested a number of times before in connection with my
journalistic work, from that moment my mood sank as I started worrying about
what lay ahead.
No matter how experienced you are, it’s always nerve-racking to visit a
Zimbabwean police station.
Who would want to be detained at a police station where dingy and stinking
cells designed to hold six inmates are packed with more than 30 detainees
sharing a single toilet flushed from the outside whenever the guard on duty
feels like doing so?
My previous experiences there had been chilling, although I have always
maintained a brave face.
After an uneasy night, I woke up early, headed to work and joined colleagues
to go and face the police.
Mudyirwa had already hinted that we would be charged under the repressive
Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.
After rushing through early-morning Harare traffic jams to make it on time,
we arrived and came out of the car ready for interrogation.
We walked into the drab building, passed through a crowded reception and
started a meandering walk down foul-smelling corridors and past indifferent
staff, until we got to office number 86/88 where we were wanted.
After being shuttled from one office to another, we settled at number 86,
but still it was difficult to locate Mudyirwa, because his name was wrongly
spelt for us.
Eventually he came and greeted us – but wasted no time in starting the
process to charge us under the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act,
section 31, which deals with “publishing or communicating false statements
prejudicial to the state”. The charge was because we had published or
communicated a statement which was “wholly or materially false with the
intention or realising that there is a real risk or possibility of
undermining public confidence in Zimbabwe Defence Forces”.
If convicted we could be jailed for 20 years.
It all sounded ridiculous, yet it was clear that we were potentially in
serious trouble because of the threats that had been made against us by
security chiefs and government spokesmen.
As the police started asking us to read the charges and answer probing
questions, and began getting us profiled, it dawned on me that the point of
this official summons was not to ask us to help them understand the story;
it was to intimidate us.
Absurd questions were asked, but we initially chose to be polite and
co-operate while sticking to deliberate irrelevance until we detected
growing hostility, pressure and subtle bullying.
Most of their questions to us were strikingly pointless.
The situation almost deteriorated into confrontation when the police
demanded our bank account details. We wanted to know why bank accounts were
relevant to an army story.
All the time I kept thinking about how the government’s treatment of us was
petty and vindictive, and that this was evidence – if ever more was needed –
that Zimbabwe was an Orwellian dystopia.
Media tyranny remains entrenched in Zimbabwe.
Government officials have a deep-seated attitude and an enduring policy of
control of society by trying to block the free flow of information,
purveying propaganda, surveillance, harassment and arrest of civil society
dissenters and journalists. Our arrest this week is part of an ongoing broad
crackdown on civil society leaders, human rights and political activists,
judges, lawyers, and any other dissenters, particularly now before the
Press freedom in Zimbabwe remains restricted as reforms to liberalise the
legal and regulatory environment after years of authoritarian abuses have
largely been stalled by Mugabe and his Zanu-PF hardliners despite the
coalition government that includes the two MDC parties.
Harassment of journalists, particularly those who work for the private
media, remains commonplace.
Even though Zimbabwe’s constitution – which might be replaced by the new one
by next week – has provisions for freedom of expression, including “press
freedom” after amendment number 19, a draconian legal framework continues to
constrain citizens and journalists from freely expressing themselves.
There is still an array of laws that inhibit media freedom.
Some of these statutes include the Information and Protection of Privacy
Act, the Official Secrets Act, the Public Order and Security Act and the
catch-all Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act, under which we were
charged on Tuesday.
Media companies and their journalists are required to register under
Information and Protection of Privacy Act, which gives the information
minister – a redundant portfolio in reasonably free and democratic
societies, typical of the Soviet era – sweeping powers to decide which
publications could operate legally and who is able to work as a journalist
although the registration and accreditation is done by the statutory
Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC).
To its credit, the ZMC has licensed more than 50 publications since 2009,
including two radio stations aligned to Zanu-PF.
However, the ZMC has been fighting to close down foreign publications
circulating in Zimbabwe, mainly the South African Sunday Times and the Mail
& Guardian – showing that the more things change, the more they remain the
At the same time, it’s worth noting that Zimbabwe is not like Belarus, Cuba,
Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Turkmenistan, or Uzbekistan
where the private media are either non-existent or barely able to operate.
While the Zimbabwean government controls the biggest media house and
virtually all broadcasting stations, there is a small but vibrant private
media that have refused to act as mouthpieces for the Mugabe regime,
insisting on being public watchdogs.
For all their shortcomings, which include being partisan and sometimes
reckless in their reportage, private media journalists in Zimbabwe have
fought for press freedom in a state where dissent is ruthlessly crushed
through harassment, intimidation, arrests and detention, among other forms
This, coupled with political struggles for change, has ensured that there is
hope ahead for Zimbabwe.
- Muleya is editor of the weekly Zimbabwe Independent in Harare.
I just signed the petition "President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe: Permit
international observers to monitor this year's election" on Change.org.
It's important. Will you sign it too? Here's the link:
The Vigil has had a soft spot for the British newspaper the Guardian ever since its brave report justifying ‘Murambatsvina’. As the homes and businesses of some 700,000 of the poorest were trashed, the Guardian hailed it as visionary town planning. No doubt the Guardian also applauded Stalin’s gulags, Mao’s cultural revolution and Pol Pot’s skull harvesting.
The Guardian – described by a columnist in the British Sunday Times as ‘a small circulation north London newspaper’ – would have been less sanguine if the inhabitants of north London had been bulldozed without warning or compensation for the proposed high speed train line. This would, of course, have been an outrage. But Murambatsvina? Well that’s Africa, innit? It is this patronizing tone that enchants the Vigil as we read the Guardian’s latest musings on Zimbabwe. Why should we worry about the Guardian? Well, it sets the agenda for the BBC for one thing. Go into any BBC newsroom and you will see scribes buried in the paper (after a brief glance at the topless ladies in the vulgar press). The Guardian is essential reading because it tells them what to think.
So what’s the Guardian’s current narrative on Mugabe? Misunderstood, demonized, rebel with a cause. An article by the British academic Ian Scoones on the Guardian Africa Network website (see: Zimbabwe: how the tide is turning – http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/may/10/zimbabwe-mugabe-tide-turning) talks of ‘anecdotal evidence’ that Mugabe is ‘softening his clenched fist’. Well Professor Scoones knows all about anecdotal evidence as shown by his book on the alleged success of land reform. Not that his mention of ‘white capital seeking a reassertion of power’ is anecdotal of course.
The Guardian went further in the print edition with a full page on Zimbabwe by David Smith reporting from Harare. Here are the headlines: ‘Mugabe: at first a hero, then a villain – and finally the redeemed father of his nation?’, ‘West may see this year’s election as credible’, ‘Shift in attitudes following years of demonisation’. Smith’s talk of Mugabe as possibly ‘the redeemed father of his nation’ seems to the Vigil to sanitise a man who boasted of having degrees in violence. Murambatsvina, Gukurahundi, murder, rape, torture? No Mugabe is just misunderstood. For the Guardian it seems to be ‘one equal light’. Mugabe might be not as nice as he should be but Tsvangirai on the other hand is a flop. How’s that for balance? Smith doesn’t ignore Mugabe’s crimes: the Vigil’s objection is that they don’t seem to matter.
‘The following scenario, once unthinkable, is now just conceivable’, he writes: ‘The Zimbabwean president will retain power in this year's elections through fair means or foul; the poll will be relatively peaceful and deemed "credible" by the west; then sanctions will be lifted against Mugabe and his inner circle, ushering him back in from the cold.’ (http://www.zimbabwesituation.com/old/may11_2013.html#Z13 – Robert Mugabe: from liberation hero to villain to redeemed father of a nation?).
Absolutely right. But where we disagree is when Smith says ‘the fact that land reform’s consequences (are being) debated is a step towards making Mugabe’s legacy less unpalatable’. He goes on to quote the Zimbabwean writer Petina Gappah as saying "This idea of Mugabe as Hitler? He's extremely charming and intelligent’. Gappah obviously knows nothing of Hitler who was admired by some British aristocratics such as Unity Mitford who commented on his charm. Perhaps Gappah has been reading the Herald: ‘When a nation is faced with food shortages owing to drought, the burden of providing food to the people falls on the broad shoulders of Government and it is for this reason that we commend President Mugabe for showing true leadership . . . ‘
The message from the Guardian is that the coming election must be accepted however flawed. The Vigil begs to disagree. We don’t think Mugabe is a jolly good fellow and believe that SADC should stand by the Global Political Agreement it foisted on the MDC. And if it doesn’t the MDC should refuse to take part in the promised charade.Other points · Zanu PF has a number of scholarships available for British academics to visit one or two new farmers and write books about them. · Thanks to Charles Dumisani Ndlovu and Michelle Dube who were with us at the start of the Vigil. Thanks also to Mary Muteyerwa, Tendai Chadehumbe, Cleopas Chigaru and Nkosikona Tshabangu who arrived early to help set up. Mary was in charge of the front table and Michelle the back table.
For latest Vigil pictures check: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/. Please note: Vigil photos can only be downloaded from our Flickr website – they cannot be downloaded from the slideshow on the front page of the Zimvigil website.
FOR THE RECORD: 44 signed the register.
EVENTS AND NOTICES:
• ROHR Central London Branch meeting. Saturday 18th May from 12 – 1.30 pm. Venue: Strand Continental Hotel (first floor lounge), 143 Strand, London WC2R 1JA. Contact Fungayi Mabhunu 07746552597. For full directions check entry for Zimbabwe Action Forum.
• Zimbabwe Action Forum (ZAF). Saturday 18th May from 6.30 – 9.30 pm. Venue: Strand Continental Hotel (first floor lounge), 143 Strand, London WC2R 1JA. The Strand is the same road as the Vigil. From the Vigil it’s about a 10 minute walk, in the direction away from Trafalgar Square. The Strand Continental is situated on the south side of the Strand between Somerset House and the turn off onto Waterloo Bridge. The entrance is marked by a big sign high above and a sign for its famous Indian restaurant at street level. It's next to a newsagent. Nearest underground: Temple (District and Circle lines) and Holborn.
• ROHR Reading Relaunch. Saturday 25th May from 11 am – 5 pm. For more information please contact: Tawanda Dzimba 07880524278, Nicodimus Muganhu 07877386789.
• Zimbabwe Vigil Highlights 2012 can be viewed on this link: http://www.zimvigil.co.uk/the-vigil-diary/467-vigil-highlights-2012. Links to previous years’ highlights are listed on 2012 Highlights page.
• The Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe (ROHR) is the Vigil’s partner organization based in Zimbabwe. ROHR grew out of the need for the Vigil to have an organization on the ground in Zimbabwe which reflected the Vigil’s mission statement in a practical way. ROHR in the UK actively fundraises through membership subscriptions, events, sales etc to support the activities of ROHR in Zimbabwe. Please note that the official website of ROHR Zimbabwe is http://www.rohrzimbabwe.org/. Any other website claiming to be the official website of ROHR in no way represents the views and opinions of ROHR.
• Vigil Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=8157345519&ref=ts.
• Vigil Myspace page: http://www.myspace.com/zimbabwevigil...
• Useful websites: www.zanupfcrime.com which reports on Zanu PF abuses and www.ipaidabribe.org.zw where people can report corruption in Zimbabwe.
The Vigil, outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, 429 Strand, London, takes place every Saturday from 14.00 to 18.00 to protest against gross violations of human rights in Zimbabwe. The Vigil which started in October 2002 will continue until internationally-monitored, free and fair elections are held in Zimbabwe. http://www.zimvigil.co.uk
PARLIAMENTARY COMMITTEES SERIES 9/2013
[11th May 2013]
The Parliamentary committee meetings listed below are open to the public during the coming week:
Members of the public may attend these meeting, but as observers only, not as participants, i.e. they may listen but not speak. All meetings are at Parliament in Harare. If attending, please use the entrance on Kwame Nkrumah Ave between 2nd and 3rd Streets and note that IDs must be produced.
This bulletin is based on the latest information from Parliament. But, as there are sometimes last-minute changes to the meetings schedule, persons wishing to attend should avoid disappointment by checking with the committee clerk that the meeting is still on and open to the public. Parliament’s telephone numbers are Harare 700181 and 252941.
Reminder: Members of the public, including Zimbabweans in the Diaspora, can at any time send written submissions to Parliamentary committees by email addressed to email@example.com
Monday 13th May at 10 am
Public Accounts Committee
Oral evidence from the Ministry of Local Government, Rural and Urban Development on the 2009 and 2010 Comptroller and Auditor General’s Audit Reports
Committee Room No 4
Chairperson: Hon Chinyadza Clerk: Mrs Nyawo
Portfolio Committee: Higher Education, Science and Technology
Oral evidence from the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education on the financing of and infrastructure development in existing and upgraded public universities
Committee Room No 3
Chairperson: Hon S. Ncube Clerk: Mrs Mataruka
Monday 13th May at 2 pm
Portfolio Committee: Budget, Finance, Economic Planning and Investment Promotion
Oral evidence on the Microfinance Bill and the Securities Amendment Bill [Note: these Bills are listed for continuation of Second Reading debate on Tuesday 14th May].
Committee Room No 4
Chairperson: Hon Zhanda Clerk: Mr Ratsakatika
Thursday 16th May at 9 am
Thematic Committee: Human Rights
Oral evidence from the chairperson of the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission on the operations of the Commission.
Committee Room No 2
Chairperson: Hon Marava Clerk: Ms Macheza
Friday `17th May at 10 am
Public Accounts Committee
Oral evidence from the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development on the 2009 and 2010 Comptroller and Auditor General’s Audit Reports
Committee Room No 4
Chairperson: Hon Chinyadza Clerk: Mrs Nyawo.
Veritas makes every effort to ensure reliable information, but cannot take legal responsibility for information supplied