From infectious Afro-fusion rhythms to plays dealing with political violence, the Harare International Festival aims to showcase the best of Zimbabwean arts - but organising it was far from easy
Friday, 14 May 2010 09:52
A CABINET reshuffle in the unstable inclusive government is now odds-on as
the political principals prepare to shake-up their team which is struggling
to deliver economic recovery and services more than a year after it came
This came as Zanu PF ministers yesterday boycotted the Council of Ministers
called by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.
The move could further widen cracks within the government endangered by
protracted political infighting. Only one Zanu PF minister, Francis Nhema,
who presides over the Environment portfolio, attended the meeting.
Evidence that government was not working in a cohesive and coherent manner
mounted yesterday after Zanu PF ministers boycotted the Council of Ministers
"Zanu PF ministers did not come to the Council of Ministers today
(yesterday). There was only Nhema," one minister said. "Tsvangirai came back
from the United States yesterday (Wednesday) to chair the meeting but Zanu
PF ministers stayed away."
Zanu PF ministers often claim the meetings are just a talk shop.
Efforts to check why Zanu PF ministers did not attend were fruitless.
Indigenisation minister Saviour Kasukuwere said he was in a meeting. A
number of his colleagues were not answering their cellphones.
The Council of Ministers, which assesses implementation of cabinet
decisions, is attended by the prime minister, who is the chair, deputy prime
ministers and ministers. Chief Secretary to the Prime Minister and Council
of Ministers and a nominee of the Chief Secretary to the President and
Cabinet also attend.
The Prime Minister as chairman of the Council of Ministers determines the
times for meetings. Generally, the Council of Ministers meets every
alternative Thursday from 9am in the New Munhumutapa boardroom.
The agenda of the meeting is prepared by the Chief Secretary to the Prime
Minister and Council of Ministers for approval by the prime minister.
The quorum for the Council of Ministers is half of the total membership.
Attendance at the Council of Ministers meetings which come every fortnight
is compulsory, unless a member is outside the country on official business
or has been granted permission by the prime minister.
Official sources said President Robert Mugabe and Tsvangirai were mulling
over a cabinet reshuffle after their team failed to meet most of the targets
of government's 100 Day Plan launched by the prime minister.
"I understand that the prime minister recently indicated to the president
that it might be time to reshuffle cabinet to improve its effectiveness and
government efficiency," an official source said. "So a cabinet reshuffle
might be in the cards. The president and prime minister might want to shift
their ministers around for competency and political reasons."
However, Tsvangirai's spokesman James Maridadi said he was not aware of
that. "I have not heard about that. I will have to ask, call me later," he
Tsvangirai's permanent secretary Ian Makone, who is close to the prime
minister, also said he was not aware of a potential cabinet reshuffle
coming. "I have no such information and in any case I'm not the spokesman
for the president and prime minister," he said.
Efforts to get comment from Mugabe's spokesman George Charamba and Secretary
to Cabinet and Office of the President Misheck Sibanda were unsuccessful.
However, official sources insisted "a cabinet reshuffle is now a reasonable
possibility" given the inclusive government's missed targets and poor
delivery record. Mugabe holds all the cards on the cabinet reshuffle.
Tsvangirai officially launched the 100 Day Plan, approved by cabinet, at the
Harare International Conference Centre on May 13 last year. This plan was
supposed to run up until August 6 last year.
The plan was designed to give practical effect to the Global Political
Agreement, which led to the inclusive government, and the Short Term
Emergency Recovery Programme (Sterp).
However, nothing much was achieved on the plan. Government, which has no
money to fund its activities, has also been failing to fulfil a whole host
of promises it has been making on economic revival and service delivery.
Mugabe and Tsvangirai were said to be now anxious to reorganise their team
to sharpen its blunt delivery skills and deal with increasing tensions
within and among ministers from the three political parties. The inclusive
government is rocked by divisions between ministers.
Last week, Public Service minister Professor Eliphas Mukonoweshuro publicly
attacked his colleague Tendai Biti. Zanu PF ministers also have their share
of internal friction. Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa and
Attorney-General Johannes Tomana, colleagues in cabinet, are widely known to
be uneasy bedfellows in government.
Cabinet is the supreme organ of the executive whose primary function is to
make and approve government policies. It is attended by the president, who
is the chair, and attended by vice-presidents, prime minister, who is the
deputy chair, deputy prime ministers, ministers, the Attorney-General and
A nominee of the Secretary to the Prime Minister and the Council of
Ministers is allowed to sit in at meetings of cabinet.
The president as chairman determines times of cabinet meetings. Usually
cabinet meets every Tuesday from 9am in the cabinet room at Munhumutapa
The business of the cabinet is defined by an agenda, prepared by the Chief
Secretary to the President and Cabinet for approval by the president in
consultation with the prime minister. The chief secretary circulates to each
member a copy of the agenda usually on Fridays preceding the cabinet
meetings. The quorum for cabinet meetings is half the total membership.
Fri May 14, 2010 11:42am GMT
HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's annual inflation jumped to 4.8 percent in the
year to April, official data showed on Friday, although food prices showed
signs of easing.
The Central Statistical Office said year-on-year inflation quickened from
3.5 percent in March, but slowed to 0.1 percent on a monthly basis in April
from 1.1 percent.
Zimbabwe, whose inflation peaked at 500 billion percent in December 2008
according to IMF data, has stabilised its economy under a power-sharing
government set up last year by bitter rivals President Robert Mugabe and
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.
The government, which wants to maintain inflation at single-digits, has
previously said the target was under threat from rising food prices.
Friday's data, however, showed a significant decline in food inflation.
"The month-on-month food and non-alcoholic beverages inflation stood at 0.90
percent in April, shedding 1.61 percentage points on the March rate of 2.51
percent," the statistics office said.
Analysts say a sharp decline in Zimbabwe's food production following
Mugabe's seizure of white-owned farms to resettle landless blacks triggered
the past decade's inflation spiral.
Although the country is seeing a gradual recovery in grain production, with
1.5 million tonnes of the staple maize
expected this year, up from last year's 1.2 million tonnes, a deficit of
over 500,000 tonnes remains.
Aid agencies say more than 2 million Zimbabweans will require food aid this
Written by MDC Information Department
Friday, 14 May 2010 14:57
Thousands of former National Youth Training Service recruits and Zanu PF
youths, who were improperly recruited into the public service, today
thronged several banks in Harare demanding their salaries. The youths, who
are illegally employed by the Ministry of Youth as Zanu PF ward, district or
provincial youth officers, brought business to a virtual halt at some banks
and nearby shops as they violently demanded their salaries.
Some banks and nearby shops closed briefly as they feared the youths could
turn violent and loot their goods. At some banks, such as First Banking
Corporation along Nelson Mandela Avenue, police had to be brought in to
restore order. Over 30 000 Zanu PF youths were illegally recruited by
Saviour Kasukuwere in 2008 for the terror campaign ahead of the June 2008
presidential run-off after Zanu PF had been defeated by the earlier round of
the harmonised plebiscite.
The State sponsored violence of 2008 led to the deaths of over 500 youths
while thousands sustained serious injuries and others had their property and
livestock looted. At present, the youths are known for being notorious in
fanning violence especially in the rural areas against those who are
perceived to be MDC supporters. The infamous youth training camps were
abolished last year following the formation of the inclusive government.
The Parliamentary Committee on Public Accounts in January gave a directive
to the Public Service Commission, the ministries of Youth and Public Service
to correct the anomalies regarding the illegal employment of the Zanu PF
By Lance Guma
14 May 2010
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's MDC-T party is expected to convene a
crisis meeting of its National Council over the weekend, to deliberate on
the continued persecution of Treasurer General Roy Bennett, amongst other
issues. On Monday the High Court acquitted Bennett of the cooked-up
terrorism charges filed against him. The Attorney General initially said he
would not appeal the acquittal in the Supreme Court but after some
discussion with various ZANU PF big-wigs, he changed his mind.
It's also reported that ZANU PF ministers boycotted a Council of Ministers
meeting that was to be chaired by Tsvangirai on the Wednesday. Only
Environment Minister Francis Nhema bothered to show up from ZANU PF. This
boycott, and the persecution of Bennett, have predictably raised even more
tensions in the coalition government.
The National Council is the supreme decision making body of the MDC-T,
outside it's congress, and is expected to decide how to respond to the
continuing unwillingness of ZANU PF to genuinely share power. In the past
Mugabe has refused to swear-in Bennett as the Deputy Agriculture Minister,
citing the court case against him. It was expected his acquittal would pave
the way for the swearing in and remove one of the sticking issues in the
implementation of the power sharing deal.
ZANU PF's 'joker in the pack' Jonathan Moyo revealed what angle ZANU PF was
using to justify its ongoing persecution of Bennett. He told the state owned
Herald newspaper that "the quandary has never been a legal one but rather a
political one. For the record, Roy Bennett must not be part of any
government in a free Zimbabwe because he represents the unacceptable face of
the murderous Rhodesian infantry whose bloodletting during the liberation
struggle knew no bounds."
Moyo conveniently ignored the real reason for the persecution, which is to
ensure that Bennett never gets anywhere near the records that would reveal
the true extent of the corruption surrounding the so-called land reform
This week South African President Jacob Zuma assured his country's
Parliament that the acquittal of Bennett marked a step forward for the
coalition. This was of course before he heard that ZANU PF were going to
Analysts say the MDC-T should feel emboldened by the comments coming from
the chief mediator in the crisis and demand that Mugabe honour his word and
swear Bennett into office. Being bold however has not been a hallmark of the
MDC-T strategy of late and Mugabe has never bent to any demands.
"Most of the MDC-T ministers are living a life of comfort and moving around
in flashy Mercedes and Nissan Navara cars. They cannot contemplate life
outside this coalition," one analyst commented. This he said explained their
reluctance to 'rock the boat.'
Unfortunately for the ordinary suffering Zimbabwean, Mugabe will continue to
ride rough-shod over the power sharing deal he signed in September 2008.
South Africa based political analyst, Psychology Maziwisa, told Newsreel
that even if MDC-T ministers had become 'comfortable' in government it was
now up to Tsvangirai as the party leader to show some leadership. He said it
was clear from the Bennett issue that ZANU PF is acting in bad faith and is
'playing games with the MDC and showing them who is in charge.' Maziwisa
said the weekend MDC-T meeting should come up with a much tougher tone and
clearly spell out the consequences of ZANU PF's actions.
By Tichaona Sibanda
14 May 2010
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai wants Robert Mugabe to swear-in Roy Bennett
to his deputy ministerial portfolio, as per his promise, that he would do so
if the non constituency MDC Senator was acquitted of terrorism charges.
Mugabe has in the last year refused to swear-in Bennett, citing the
terrorism charges, while saying he will appoint him to his post once the
courts clear him of the charges.
High Court Judge Chinembiri Bhunu acquitted Bennett on Monday of all charges
of terrorism, banditry, insurgency and trying to overthrow Mugabe’s
government in 2006. The acquittal should have paved the way for Mugabe to
swear him as deputy Agriculture Minister, until the Attorney General decided
to appeal Judge Bhunu’s ruling.
A highly placed source in the MDC told us that despite the appeal Tsvangirai
was set to meet Mugabe and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara on Monday
next week, at which the issue of Bennett was likely to dominate their
‘Despite the Attorney General appealing against Bennett’s acquittal Prime
Minister Tsvangirai has made it clear he will raise the issue with the other
two principals on Monday, the only platform where issues concerning the GPA
are discussed,’ our source added.
Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Mutambara reportedly met on Friday for the monthly
National Security Council meeting with the armed forces chiefs. GPA issues
are not tackled at this forum, although almost all those against Bennett
taking up his post were present.
These are the commanders of the Army, Airforce, Police, Prisons, CIO and
Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, the first senior ZANU PF official to
suggest Bennett’s acquittal was ‘appealable.’
South African President Jacob Zuma, the SADC mediator to the ‘talks’, on
Wednesday said the acquittal of Bennett was significant as it removed one of
the obstacles to the full implementation of the GPA. This was before he knew
that in fact ZANU PF were not going to let the issue drop and were still
determined to ensure that Bennett never has anything to do with agriculture.
The South African facilitation team has no said it will engage ZANU PF over
its decision to appeal against the acquittal though its spokesperson,
Lindiwe Zulu, stressed they respected the right of the state to appeal,
which she said was their constitutional right.
‘But the acquittal would have indeed moved the process of resolving
outstanding issues forward. We are however still hopeful on the resolution
of this issue and we will be engaging the government, particularly the ZANU
PF side of it, on the Bennett issue,’ Zulu said on Thursday.
The principals’ meeting on Monday is going to be first in almost a month
after earlier negotiations were ‘concluded’ by the party’s respective teams.
The principals have failed to meet since the 3rd April, allegedly due to
other commitments, although most observers agree these are just stalling
mechanisms. This has crucially delayed the implementation of some of the
remaining issues in the GPA.
The facilitation team, which includes Zulu and former cabinet ministers
Charles Nqakula and Mac Maharaj, was waiting for Mugabe, Tsvangirai and
Mutambara to first meet and deliberate on the negotiators' report, before
the South Africans can resume their mediation process.
The team’s next mediation effort to Harare is dependent on the principals’
recommendations to Zuma on the way forward, regarding the contentious
issues. So far the government has put in place the Human Rights, Media and
Electoral Commissions, that are supposed to help the country move forward.
Unfortunately there has been criticism of these commissions, in particular
the Media Commission, where very little seems to have changed.
The principals were still to consult about the appointment of the Zimbabwe
Anti-Corruption Commission. The parties have also agreed on the
establishment of the National Economic Council, but this decision awaits
There has been an agreement in principle on the appointment of provincial
governors; with Zuma explaining on Wednesday that the parties had agreed on
the model and formula of how the provincial governors would be appointed.
‘It was agreed that the MDC-T and ZANU PF would share nine governorships,
while the tenth would go to the MDC break-away group. Whoever got four
governors between the MDC and ZANU PF would be given an additional minister
of state,’ Zuma said.
And so the GPA inches forward at a snails pace, while Zimbabweans continue
By Violet Gonda
14 May 2010
The defence team representing acquitted MDC official Roy Bennett, spent the
day on Friday looking for his passport in Mutare and filing theft charges
against the Attorney General’s office in Harare.
Bennett, who was cleared of terrorism charges by the High Court on Monday,
travelled to Mutare on Wednesday to collect his passport, which he had
surrendered as part of his bail conditions.
But upon arrival he was told by the Clerk of Court in Mutare that his
passport was taken almost two months ago by Michael Mugabe – the area public
prosecutor for Manicaland.
Bennett’s lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa said this was done without the court’s
authority and that the Attorney General’s office basically ‘stole’ her
client’s passport, as part of the ongoing victimisation against him.
The defence team returned to Mutare on Friday hoping that the passport had
been returned, but were informed by the Clerk of Court that it had not.
They then approached the public prosecutor in Mutare to find out why he had
taken the passport. “Mr Mugabe indicated that he merely uplifted the
passport on instructions from Chris Mutangadura of the Attorney General’s
Office and that the passport was surrendered to Mr Mutangadura and he
believes that Mr Mutangadura still holds it,” Mtetwa said.
She added: “The view we are taking on the matter is that Mr Mutangadura, who
actually appeared in the bail hearing where the Chief Justice ordered the
surrender of the passport, removed it without the court’s order being
altered, clearly constituting contempt of court. And he literally has stolen
the passport from the Clerk of Court.”
Mtetwa then went to file a report to the police in Harare and said the
police, with much reluctance, accepted her formal complaint. She was told to
go and write a formal statement, which she did, and she sent this signed
official statement and a copy of a court order back to the police by
messenger. But the police officers refused to take the statement, saying
they wanted to see the lawyer in person.
Mtetwa said that this was completely unnecessary: “We all know that nothing
will happen, but it is a report that I have made formally…I am making the
report to show that an offence has been committed.”
Meanwhile on Wednesday the prosecution team had filed an application for
‘leave to appeal’ Roy Bennett’s acquittal. The defence filed opposing papers
on Thursday. They are now waiting for the Supreme Court to give a date as to
when the matter might be heard. There is concern that it could take months.
The Bennett issue is threatening to tear the coalition government apart as
ZANU PF continues to refuse to swear him into the new government. It had
been hoped that Robert Mugabe would finally swear in the MDC Deputy Minister
of Agriculture designate, since he has now been cleared by the courts, but
it appears ZANU PF officials are pushing the Attorney General’s office to
keep him tied up in the courts.
Friday, 14 May 2010 09:38
DEPUTY Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara last week managed to manoeuvre
President Robert Mugabe, blamed for ruining Zimbabwe's thriving economy, to
gatecrash the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Dar es Salaam despite initial
resistance by the organisers.
Mugabe was in the Tanzanian capital to attend a meeting of former southern
African liberation movements hosted by the East African country's Chama
Other parties which attended the meeting included the African National
Congress of South Africa, Frelimo of Mozambique, Swapo of Namibia and Zanu
The parties were represented by their leaders and secretaries-general or
Mugabe was not scheduled to speak at the WEF, but Mutambara lobbied for him
to feature through the backdoor. WEF sources said this week that Mutambara,
a member of the Forum of Young Global Leaders led by David Aikman, used his
connections through WEF founder and executive chairman Professor Klaus
Schwab to arrange for Mugabe's surprise address.
"Mugabe was not scheduled to address the WEF at all," a senior WEF official
said. "He was there to attend the meeting of former liberation movements.
Mutambara lobbied WEF officials, especially Professor Schwab, for Mugabe to
be allowed to speak.
"Initially, they were reluctant because they didn't know what he was going
to say and the impact thereafter but they decided to take the risk and
allowed him to be part in the proceedings."
Mutambara this week refused to discuss the issue, only saying "what is
important is that we had an interesting session on Zimbabwe at the WEF and
the president was part of it".
He refused to discuss how Mugabe, widely criticised for destroying Zimbabwe's
economy through extended periods of misrule and economic mismanagement, came
to be part of it.
"We had a session at the WEF as the political principals. It was the first
time for us to share a public platform outside the country and it proved to
be the most interesting discussion of the meeting," Mutambara said.
The session, under the topic "The Future of Zimbabwe", featured Mugabe,
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Mutambara.
There was also Schwab, hotel chain African Sun chief executive Shingi
Munyeza, local computer science expert Bongani Ncube, South African Old
Mutual chief executive Kuseni Dlamini, Julie Gichuru, Group Digital manager
and TV host at Royal Media Services in Kenya, and Runa Alam, chief executive
of Development Partners International in the United Kingdom.
The panellists dealt with Zimbabwe's future under the inclusive government
and how businesses and investors were adjusting their operational strategies
in view of recent political and economic developments.
Key points at the session included political reconciliation, sanctions,
indigenisation and how to attract investment.
Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Mutambara said they were working together to turn
around the country's economy, which shrank by about 50% in the past decade.
While the three have differences of opinion on detail, there is a
willingness to move forward, the leaders claimed.
On travel bans, they agreed the measures created the impression among
potential investors that the country is dysfunctional and an international
renegade. They called for the lifting of sanctions.
Regarding indigenisation, they said discussions were underway for
broad-based empowerment of locals on a sector-by-sector threshold basis to
avoid a one-size-fits-all approach.
They said the economy has relatively stabilised due to a multi-currency
regime and macro-economic reforms.- Staff Writer.
by Lunga Sibanda
MATABELELAND North police have turned to the public to finance their
operations - a desperate move to fill a large hole in government spending on
Police chiefs in the region have engaged business executives and community
leaders for help with money, vehicles and fuel to aid their fight against
Matabeleland North Police chief Senior Assistant Commissioner Edmore Veterai
said law enforcement in the region had been powerless in the fight against
rising stock theft and vandalism of railway, communications as well as power
Now, with the community support, Veterai says he will put his 250-member
strong force on the tails of criminals across the region which covers areas
like Hwange, Victoria Falls, Lupane and Tsholotsho.
"All the criminals who thought we do not have legs, let them be warned that
we now have wings," Veterai told journalists on Thursday.
"The business community pledged their support. They will assist with fuel
and motor vehicles when called on. We are also trying to establish a utility
fund which will assist in tracking down criminals."
Police forces countrywide have been complaining of lack of funding from
central government - a crisis dramatised recently when former MP Renson
Gasela was trapped in a car at an accident scene for 10 hours before his
body could be removed.
National police spokesman Senior Assistant Commissioner Waybe Bvudzijena
said: "We do not have adequate resources. We need more resources in terms of
transport, office equipment and other forensic equipment that we need to
discharge our duties.
"The inclusive government should provide sufficient resources to ensure that
we discharge our duties properly."
Police forces countrywide would be watching the Matabeleland North
experiment with interest.
Veterai said civilian cars were already being used to transport criminals
from prison to court as the Zimbabwe Prison Service had no vehicles.
But the police chief's immediate concern is to stop theft from key public
"We are concerned as an institution with the theft of copper cables, ZESA
cables and National Railways of Zimbabwe cables and equipment. We want the
public to be conscious of the downstream effects. Repairs are done at a very
huge cost while the social cost is also very severe," he said.
Zimbabwe's year-old unity government says it has failed to attract budgetary
support from sceptical western donors after a decade-long economic recession
and political stand-off between long-time ruler President Robert Mugabe and
opposition rival Morgan Tsvangirai, now Prime Minister.
Harare, Zimbabwe - South Africa and Zimbabwe have agreed to create a
one-stop border immigration and customs facility to ensure faster clearance
of travel lers and cargo at their common border during the World Cup,
officials said Friday.
Under the arrangement, immigration and customs from both countries would be
working at one point jointly clearing travellers and cargo bound for either
Zambia and Zimbabwe were the first countries in the region to introduce a
one-stop border facility at their common Chirundu border last year, to ease
The concept is part of efforts by the Southern African Development Community
(SADC) to integrate the economies of the sub-region, and ensure free flow of
goods and services.
But officials said the South Africa-Zimbabwe one-stop border arrangement at
Beit bridge would only cover the World Cup, which the two countries expect
to bring in creased transnational tourist traffic.
''We have put in place measures to ease congestion and speed the flow of
traffic between the two countries,'' Anyone Motebele, a South African
immigration official, said.
He said the two countries were negotiating to make the arrangement permanent
at Africa's busiest border.
Harare - 14/05/2010
JASON MOYO - May 14 2010 16:38
Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe, with his own factional problems bottled,
is hoping that the sharp differences between the two most powerful men in
the opposition Movement for Democratic Change will escalate into a
full-scale battle he can exploit.
Public differences over policy between MDC leader and Prime Minister Morgan
Tsvangirai and Tendai Biti, the MDC secretary general and finance minister,
have cheered Zanu-PF, which itself has seen years of factional battles.
Rivalries have long existed between Tsvangirai and Biti, who represents the
more radical wing of the MDC, which was previously opposed to any compromise
Tsvangirai has been embarrassed recently by violence between rival youth
groups at his party headquarters and has allowed his differences with Biti
on economic policy to spill over into the public arena. Now observers are
watching to see how quickly he can prevent the row from spreading to other
parts of the party.
The violence followed differences over Biti's announcement that the
government would impose a cap on public service salaries, which made up 70%
of state spending.
Tsvangirai publicly rebuked Biti in a May Day speech in which he told a
rally of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, which is allied to the MDC,
that this had not been approved by the Cabinet.
Days later Elphas Mukonoweshuro, the public service minister and a long-time
Tsvangirai ally, called a press conference at which he strongly criticised
Biti and said that Biti believed he was a "super minister" who could grab
the duties of other ministers. The state-owned Herald daily published
Mukonoweshuro's criticism in full.
Since the fallout the MDC has been trying to play down the differences, even
suggesting a Zanu-PF hand in it. Tsvangirai said he and Biti were old
"comrades in the struggle" and that he "would not allow enemies of real
change to succeed in derailing the people's cause".
"I am shocked by the energy and the magnitude of the efforts to undermine
our agenda," Tsvangirai told reporters.
His party dismissed the violence as "internal hygiene issues" and said its
critics were making up "nonexistent, imaginary and concocted power
"Unfortunately, these disturbances have provided an avenue for the
traditional enemies of the people's project to transport and relocate
factionalism from its permanent home in Zanu-PF to the MDC," Nelson Chamisa,
the MDC spokesperson, said.
The real question is how deep the differences run and how damaging they
could be to the MDC. Tsvangirai's position is already weak and, should the
MDC become preoccupied with the division, Zanu-PF is ready to take advantage
Political analyst John Makumbe said that although there might be differences
on policy between the two men, it was unlikely they would escalate into a
full-blown power struggle. Like Tsvangirai, he suggested Zanu-PF might be to
"Robert Mugabe and Zanu-PF know very well that Morgan Tsvangirai and Tendai
Biti are the linchpins of the MDC, and so the best way of destroying the MDC
is to place these two against each other," he said.
But the MDC has a record of factional violence. Since 2001 at least six
senior MDC MPs have been assaulted by youths loyal to rival leaders. The
violence escalated in 2005, the year the party split into two factions, the
MDC-T, which sided with Tsvangirai, and the MDC-M, which sided with Authur
Biti has a reputation for being openly critical of party leaders and he has
often clashed with Tsvangirai at meetings of the party's top national
executive. But Biti's allies said he has no ambition to take over as party
One of his close associates said there is a view among radical sections of
the party that Tsvangirai tends to compromise too much with Mugabe and that
Biti's sharp criticism is important only to "keep Tsvangirai focused".
Tsvangirai faces no challenge to his leadership at the party's elective
congress next year -- he quietly amended the MDC constitution by removing
the limits on terms of service. Under the original constitution, Tsvangirai
would have had to step down in 2011.
Reports that Tsvangirai is backing a bid by Ian Makone, his most trusted
aide, to take over from Biti as secretary general is also causing friction
between the two men. Also, in 2007, Tsvangirai dismissed the leader of the
MDC's Women's League and steamrolled it to accept Theresa Makone, Ian's
wife, as its new leader.
By Lance Guma
14 May 2010
Residents in Bulawayo have threatened to take the Zimbabwe Electricity
Supply Authority (ZESA) to court over what they say is an unfair billing
system that charges them fixed amounts, whether electricity is available or
not. Residents in the high density suburbs are made to pay US$27 while those
in the low density areas pay US$40 in fixed charges per month.
According to the Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association "whether or not,
electricity is available during the 24 hour period is inconsequential to the
parastatal which demands that residents settle their bills or face
disconnection." The association said ZESA also did not have electricity
meters to measure consumption and bills were based on 'assumptions'.
Chronic power cuts have been a dominant feature of life in Zimbabwe as ZESA
struggles to meet demand. A lack of investment in power generation
infrastructure by the regime under ZANU PF has resulted in 19 hour blackouts
for most homes. Additionally 'faults emanating from erratic power cuts often
take ages to get fixed,' the residents association said.
Reports this week that ZESA plans to export 300 megawatts of electricity to
South Africa's power utility company Eskom for the duration of the World Cup
have not helped matters and have further infuriated residents. While some
argued the cash strapped parastatal needed to raise money, one resident told
us it boiled down to skewed priorities.
"We are being asked to pay exorbitant ZESA bills and where is that money
going? Their priorities lie in lavish salaries, cars, office furniture for
senior and some junior management staff. Investment in power generation and
other critical issues are bottom of the list,' the resident who refused to
be named said.
By Alex Bell
14 May 2010
At least 2000 carats of diamonds are being smuggled out of the controversial
Chiadzwa diamond claim every day, in direct contravention of international
This is according to the Mutare based Centre for Research and Development
(CRD), a diamonds watchdog that exposed the abuses taking place at the
government controlled diamond claim. The CRD this week warned that large
quantities of diamonds from the claim are finding their way to local and
foreign buyers, without certification from the International diamond trade
monitor, the Kimberley Process (KP).
Zimbabwe last year escaped a widely supported ban from international trade,
that had been called for over abuses at Chiadzwa, where the military's often
brutal control in the name of the state is still ongoing. But the Kimberley
Process refused to ban the country, and instead ordered mining officials to
follow a set of 'guidelines' in an attempt to bring the country back in line
with international standards by June this year.
This 'work plan' includes the demilitarisation of the diamond fields, which
has not happened, and rights groups are still reporting that there is strict
military control of Chiadzwa and the villagers there. According to the
guidelines there is also supposed to be an independent monitor in place to
oversee the sale of all stones from Chiadzwa, in an effort to curb
smuggling. That monitor, Abbey Chikane, has done a cursory report on the
situation at Chiadzwa since he was finally appointed in March. But the CRD
has this week stated that smuggling is ongoing, regardless, with the prime
suspects being employees at the government approved Canadile mining firm.
"Security loopholes at Canadile's plant in Chiadzwa are costing Zimbabwe
about 2000 carats per day," the CRD said in a statement. "Company employees
have overtaken illegal panners and soldiers in supplying
diamonds to local and foreign buyers, who descend on Chiadzwa daily in
search of the precious stones."
"The CRD observed that on average 60 buyers are descending on Chiadzwa to
buy diamonds daily," the group said. "The buyers gather at Mashukashuka,
Muchena and Tenda business centres where company employees and syndicates
operated by soldiers sell their diamonds."
The CRD went on to say that it has witnessed buyers descending on the Hot
Springs resort and Mutsago business area, where they intercept Canadile
employees who have smuggled diamonds. It's understood Canadile's employment
turnover has also skyrocketed, with numerous staff losing their jobs for
smuggling. Most recently, in January, two Canadile bosses, Komalin
Pakirisamy and V Naidoo, were arrested after they were allegedly caught with
63 uncertified, smuggled gems in their car.
Gabriel Shumba, from the Zimbabwe Blood Diamonds Campaign, on Friday said it
was not surprising that smuggling was still a problem, but added it was
"disappointing that the work plan set out by the KP is clearly being
contravened." Shumba said it is unlikely that Zimbabwe's diamond trade
standards will meet international approval by June, when the KP deadline
runs out. He explained that the KP needs to take a "proactive approach" to
force Zimbabwe to fall in line.
"A report by the monitor is not enough and he must be more proactive,"
Shumba said. "There must also be strict penalties against the mining
authorities for this continued contravention of the KP work plan."
A Chinese mining firm meanwhile has become the latest recipient of rights to
mine the controversial diamond claim. The government has reportedly awarded
the rights to a Chinese company called Anjin, under unclear circumstances.
The London based African Consolidated Resources (ACR), is still the legal
title-holders of the diamond claim, being exploited by Canadile and Mbada
Mining, the firms working in joint ventures with the government's Mining
Development Corporation (ZMDC). ACR was forced off the claim at gunpoint in
2006 and has been fighting a legal battle ever since to resume operations
ACR's protracted legal fight resulted in the arrest last week of an ACR
executive Ian Harris, on charges that his company corruptly obtained rights
to the Chiadzwa diamonds. Harris appeared in court, together with former
Manicaland Mining Commissioner Isaac Giles Ruswa and a secretary in the
Mines Ministry Mairosi Matinyanye, before a magistrate in Mutare on Tuesday.
Harris was freed after he posted $1000 bail, while Ruswa and Matinyanye paid
$500 each. They were remanded to 28 May.
Saturday May 15, 2010 10:25:11 AM GMT
* Gold mines worst hit, could lose $8m this month
* Platinum mines not affected
* Struggling miners also affected by power cuts
By Nelson Banya
HARARE, May 14 (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's gold producers could lose up to $8
million this month because of a mineworkers' strike over pay, a top industry
official said on Friday, as the industrial action threatened the industry's
The 25,000-member Associated Mineworkers' Union of Zimbabwe (AMWUZ) started
a strike on Wednesday for a monthly minimum wage of $496 from the current
average of $120.
The mining sector has overtaken agriculture as Zimbabwe's main foreign
currency earner, after President Robert Mugabe's seizure of white-owned
farms to resettle landless blacks triggered a sharp decline in farming
The strike is a setback for mines, most of which only recently re-opened
after closing in 2008 because of hyperinflation, a skewed exchange rate and
frequent power cuts, officials said.
"The impact is serious. As we speak, we are talking about 8,000 ounces,
that's about $8 million," said Collen Gura, the chief executive of Metallon
Gold, Zimbabwe's biggest gold miner.
He added that labour made up 60 percent of total production costs and that
wage increases would drive firms into deeper losses.
"Mines were closed for a long time and are only now starting to find their
feet. To my knowledge, there is no gold mine currently turning in a profit,"
Gura said Metallon, which accounts for over half of Zimbabwe's gold output
from its five mines, had been set back by the strike just when it expected
to raise production.
"We were ready to take off and raise our monthly production from 3,800
ounces to 6,000 ounces, where we need to be to operate profitably," he said.
"This (strike) is a huge drain on mines, most of which are operating on
ZIMPLATS, MIMOSA NOT AFFECTED
AMWUZ president Tinago Ruzive told Reuters that Impala Platinum's local unit
Zimplats and Aquarius' Mimosa were not affected by the strike.
"Zimplats and Mimosa gave their employees an increase ranging from $240 to
$250 for the lowest paid worker and because of that, their workers are not
on strike," Ruzive said.
"We have no problems with individual mining houses, but with the Chamber of
Mines, which is refusing to negotiate. We had an award from an arbitrator,
which the Chamber refused to honour."
Zimplats and Mimosa officials were not immediately available to comment.
Chamber of Mines official Doug Verden said efforts were underway to resolve
the strike, but declined to give details.
"There is indeed a strike action, but I cannot comment much on that as we
are trying to deal with it. This, and power shortages, obviously hurt
efforts to improve production," Verden said.
Finance Minister Tendai Biti has said the sector will grow by 40 percent in
2010, on the back of re-opening mines.
At its peak Zimbabwe used to produce 2,400 kg of gold per month but recorded
a low of just over 3,000 kg for the whole year in 2008.
From infectious Afro-fusion rhythms to plays dealing with political violence, the Harare International Festival aims to showcase the best of Zimbabwean arts - but organising it was far from easy
Zimbabwe may be recovering from acute political and economic crisis, but the Harare International Festival of the Arts proves that, against all the odds, the country's culture scene is thriving.
"In some small ways, HIFA represents what Zimbabwe could be," says artistic director Manuel Bagorro, who founded the festival in the late 1990s. "It brings people together from all sectors of society to celebrate something positive and optimistic about our country." This year's festival ran from 27 April to 2 May 2010, and united Zimbabwean artists with international performers to celebrate the importance of the arts in promoting change, and challenging oppression of all kinds.
Prominent headliners included the celebrated Malian musician Salif Keita, Swedish/Argentinian singer Jose Gonzales and Haitian songstress Emeline Michel.
Bagorro, a Zimbabwean classical pianist, left Zimbabwe in 1983 to pursue a music career abroad, partly because of what he describes as a sense of isolation in his country. He returned to Zimbabwe during the optimism of the late 1990s, and HIFA, a non-profit, non-governmental organisation, was the result.
"The festival offers an opportunity to recognise shared experience," says Bagorro. "Audiences are able to acknowledge that life may be hard, but we can still express our sadness, laughter, fears and hopes."
HIFA hosted back-to-back events at multiple locations across Harare; crucially, it aimed to be accessible to all, running outreach programmes for street children and staging free events for people who could not afford tickets. It showcased local music, theatre, dance, craft and visual arts, while offering local artists opportunities to network and collaborate.
One Zimbabwean artist taking the stage this year was acclaimed Mbira (thumb piano) player and singer Hope Masike. Her stunning performance with Afro-fusion band Kakuwe, full of infectious optimism and energy and carried along by the bubbling rhythm of the marimba, had the audience dancing in the aisles. Many people sang enthusiastically along in Shona - many of the songs, Masike says, are about healing social problems.
A local festivalgoer, 24-year-old Dimitri Kwenda, was impressed. "HIFA is about relating to the reality of people's lives," he told me. For Kwenda, the festival is important because it facilitates freedom of expression and opens up discussions between artists and audience, initiating formal and informal post-performance debates within the relatively unfettered arena of the festival.
Sometimes this included surprising acts of political bravery. One major highlight of this year's festival was Anders Lustgarten's play You Cannot Escape Our Love, which transferred from London's Finborough theatre. The play, originally entitled Black Jesus, was altered at the last minute because the cast were anxious about conveying a potentially didactic message about Zimbabwe to Zimbabweans. As a result, this story about transitional justice in Zimbabwe became a kind of play-within-a-play: a story that not only blurred the lines between victims and perpetrators of political violence, but also prompted debates about artistic responsibility and ownership.
It hasn't always been easy obtaining official permission for controversial work, according to Bagorro: all scripts still need to be passed by the censors. And many artists have been fearful about coming to Zimbabwe, because of negative international press and fears about safety - not to mention doubts about whether it is appropriate to perform in a country experiencing apparently intractable political problems. "Many artists have cancelled over the years," says Bagorro. "But we try to reassure artists with our credentials as an independent, civic organisation that has achieved important development objectives for artists and the Zimbabwean community at large."
Organising an arts festival in a country experiencing hyperinflation and with a currency in freefall provided another set of challenges. Budgeting and risk-evaluation proved futile, Bagorro says, and power cuts, water and fuel shortages also caused problems.
But, more optimistically, this year audience figures were up - jumping by 5,000 to just under 60,000 people in attendance.
And HIFA also benefitted from an impressive degree of backing from inside Zimbabwe as well as out, with global corporations, embassies and arts organisations providing support and funding.
Significantly, too, the festival has injected funds into Zimbabwe's long-suffering travel industry, attempting to reconnect the country once again with the outside world. Richard and Rosie Tillett, a couple from Devon who I bumped into at the festival site, had timed their visit to coincide with HIFA. "We had anxieties about visiting Zimbabwe because of what we hear in the media," Rosie Tillett says. "But the festival overturned our expectations. We were glad to see that audiences were racially mixed, with no apparent tensions or segregation."
Her husband was similarly impressed: "The festival was exciting, exuberant, multicultural, challenging and very much at odds with the idea of a nation in decline."
STATEMENT BY ATHOL TROLLIP MP
DA PARLIAMENTARY LEADER
14 MAY 2010
Two months on and the “package of measures” President Zuma declared had been
negotiated to resolve the Zimbabwean political deadlock remains stillborn.
In his Budget Speech this week, the President noted the establishment of
human rights, electoral and media commissions in Zimbabwe, and the acquittal
of the MDC’s Treasurer, Roy Bennett, on controversial charges, as evidence
of progress. However with the country facing rampant violence and continued
social and economic strife, and news that Bennett’s reprieve is being
challenged by the state, Zimbabwe’s fate appears increasingly uncertain.
South Africa has the political and economic muscle to effect real progress
in Zimbabwe. The failure of successive ANC leaders to make substantial
headway in the Zimbabwean political negotiations, and President Zuma’s
decision not to eschew the failed approach of his predecessor, is
representative of a chronic lack of political will on behalf of the
ruling party. For actual progress, the kind necessary to reinvigorate
Zimbabwe politically, socially and economically, President Robert Mugabe
must be barred from participating in the negotiations progress.
Instead of misleading the South African public with regards to the political
situation in Zimbabwe, President Zuma needs to use his position as
SADC-appointed facilitator and leader of Zimbabwe’s most critical ally to
finally confront the reality that those before him have failed to
acknowledge. As long as its architect remains at the helm, the Zimbabwean
crisis faces no chance of resolution.
14th May 2010
Like many Zimbabweans in the UK diaspora, I suspect, I found myself smiling
ironically as events unfolded here this last week; there was an almost
uncanny resemblance to Zimbabwe's recent election experience! Comedians had
a field day with jokes about the Mugabe comparison and how the Zimbabwean
dictator could teach the Brits a thing or two about how to rig elections and
stay in power. Having lost the election pretty conclusively, Labour Prime
Minister Gordon Brown appeared at first to be holed up in No 10 refusing to
accept defeat. 'He has resorted to Mugabe's political philosophy' ranted one
Conservative right-winger. The problem was that the Conservatives had not
gained the clear majority required to govern. It all sounded very familiar
to Zimbabweans who remember only too well how Mugabe dealt with the problem
back in 2008. He simply got George Chiweshe his Electoral Commission
Chairman (the very same man he now intends to reward by making him Judge
President of the High Court!) to delay the publication of the results for
five weeks. Then, surprise, surprise, the MDC's victory had miraculously
metamorphosed into an insufficient number of seats to give them a majority.
Out of this blatant vote rigging sprang the so-called coalition government,
nothing to do with the will of the people or the 'national interest' -
simply a way of maintaining the status quo.
Mugabe has said that he 'can do business' with the Tories, perhaps he thinks
he can persuade them to lift sanctions? Mugabe, as always is living in the
past, It is a very different Conservative party that is now in power; it is
a coalition with the Liberal Democrats, a compromise, requiring trust and
give and take on both sides, all in the national interest we are told. The
crisis that had rocked the UK for five days was over. With absolute dignity
and an honest admission of his own failure to win the election for his
Labour Party, Gordon Brown resigned and quit No 10.Within hours David
Cameron was the new Prime Minister of a coalition government. On the face of
it, the 'national interest' had taken precedence over narrow party politics
and the wishes of power-hungry politicians with inflated egos.
And as we were still recovering from these extraordinary events in the UK
came the equally extraordinary news from home of Roy Bennett's acquittal on
the capital charge of treason and attempting to overthrow Robert Mugabe.
Interviewed by the British Guardian newspaper two days earlier Bennett had
said he would not stand in the way of "restoration and reconstruction in
Zimbabwe. A single post should not stop the process moving forward" he said,
"So if it means that I should step aside completely and not be involved and
that would move the process forward towards a fresh election and towards
democracy, I would be the first to endorse that." Whether it was Bennett's
conciliatory statement in the Guardian which led to some kind of 'deal' or a
genuinely impartial judgement by Judge Bunhu we shall never know. The fact
is that the State in the person of the incompetent Attorney General,
Johannes Tomana had totally failed to prove their case against Bennett. In
itself, that would not necessarily have meant an inevitable acquittal in
Zimbabwean courts where Mugabe's judges have time and again failed to
demonstrate their commitment to the rule of law in favour of political
considerations. Whatever the case, Roy Bennett was momentarily a free man,
all charges against him dropped. Then, on Wednesday 12.05.10 came the news
that the State would appeal against the acquittal and in a further sinister
development we heard that Bennett's passport - and his bail money - has
mysteriously disappeared. One might expect Pachedu has suffered enough at
the hands of his political enemies but Zanu PF's malice against him knows no
bounds. Nelson Chamisa's comment as the trial ended that Bennett was an
'angel' was admittedly somewhat over the top but it was enough to inspire
Jonathan Moyo into print. Writing in the Herald - where else - Moyo was at
his poisonous best, describing Bennett as "an active member of the murderous
Rhodesian Infantry during the Liberation Struggle. Just like former Nazis in
Israel, former members of the murderous Rhodesian army are not angels but
devils with no place in any government in a free Zimbabwe." It is certainly
news to me - and to Israel I should think - that 'former Nazis' are hiding
out there but then Jonathan Moyo was never one to deal in hard facts;
propaganda and lies are his natural medium. We all know that Moyo is only
saying what his master wants to hear. Mugabe's hatred of the popular and
much-loved Pachedu is well-known. Sadly, Roy Bennett was correct when he
said after his acquittal that "Zanu PF are still out to get me." It is
glaringly obvious that the State's decision to appeal against Judge Bunhu's
acquittal verdict is the result of pressure from the Zanu PF hawks. Reports
that Tomana consulted Patrick Chinamasa, the Minister of Justice, suggest
that Tomana's belated decision to appeal has more to do with Chinamasa's
desire for personal vengeance against his old enemy than a concern for
justice and the rule of law.
It was the Kenyan Prime Minister a couple of week ago who commented that
coalition governments do not work in Africa. The fact is that coalitions
cannot work anywhere, be it the UK or Zimbabwe, without trust between the
parties and a shared commitment to the national interest. "Zimbabwe's
political crisis is over" declared Morgan Tsvangirai this week. "The country
is safe for investors."
Facts on the ground suggest otherwise. Roy Bennett's continuing persecution
in the courts is just one example. Innocent villagers are also suffering at
the hands of a vengeful regime that will brook no opposition to Mugabe's
Kariba Draft which would ensure his continued stay in power. 'Operation
Hapana Anotaura' - No one speaks - is hardly an indication that the 'crisis
is over' - much as the so-called coalition government would have us believe
in their desperate desire to court foreign investors.
Yours in the (continuing) struggle PH.