Dagga-smoking squatters wreck stately old building May 15, 2010 10:09 PM | By PHILANI NOMBEMBE
'We are going to bring other Zimbabweans. They are sleeping under a bridge in Cape Town, unemployed'
The 23-year-old illegal immigrant was stunned to find the mansion inhabited by South African vagrants, quaffing cheap wine and smoking dagga around a once grand fireplace.
They stripped the double-storey house of doors, window frames, floor boards and even its staircase in an orgy of vandalism over the past few weeks, infuriating neighbours.
The property in Kuyper Street in the suburb of Zonnebloem is still advertised on travel websites as a consulate.
But it is a haven for the homeless and criminals seeking refuge from the harsh Cape winter. Simbi, unable to find work as a painter, also moved in.
"I came to South Africa two weeks ago to find work," he said. "I didn't know anyone. I had nowhere to sleep, and didn't have food.
"Other Zimbabweans told me about this house after doing an Internet search. They said it was the 'Zimbabwean embassy.
"I was surprised to find an old building with broken doors and windows. Vagrants were drinking around the fireplace. They are all South Africans," said Simbi, clutching his only belongings - two pillows.
"I don't have a permit. I wanted the embassy to arrange papers for me."
The stately old home, built in 1928 and known as Fawley Towers before it became a consulate, was thrust into the spotlight recently by South African civil rights group Afriforum.
The group identified it as one of four Cape properties owned by Zimbabwe's government that could be attached to compensate South African farmers who lost land in Zimbabwe's land-reform programme.
Deeds office records, and a Cape Town municipal valuation, show the house to be worth about R1.9-million and owned by the Zimbabwean government.
Zimbabwe owes the city nearly R25000 in unpaid rates.
Cheryl Hicklin, a neighbour, said the house was vacant for some time before vandals struck recently. "Neighbours reported to the police when they noticed that some of the windows had been broken," she said.
"But in the last two weeks things got really bad.
"It became a free-for-all. What is worrying is that vagrants are making fires inside the building, and most of it is wood panelling.
"The building can burn easily."
Andrew Curtis, who runs a computer software business with Hicklin, said door frames and skirting boards were being chopped up to use as fire wood.
"The place is now harbouring criminals. Our telephone cables have been replaced 11 times.
"Thieves have broken into my house four times. Last week, they jumped over the wall and cut our water pipes for the copper. "
Local ward councillor Belinda Walker said the situation was "worrying". Her office had alerted the Zimbabwean Embassy in Pretoria to what was happening.
"We've actually done quite a lot, mainly in terms of organising metro police raids on a regular basis ... to make sure people are not squatting there.
"The looting of the building is unfortunate. The property is essentially their (the Zimbabwean government's) property, which is being ruined. There is nothing we can do about it right now.
"This is a beautiful building in a prominent position, and the heritage authorities would take interest in it," said Walker.
Zimbabwean Embassy officials said only the ambassador, Simon Khaya Moyo, could comment or say when the consulate closed. But he was not available on Friday.
The house was let as offices when the consulate closed. A former tenant who left two years ago, Le Roux Steyn, said the house was "all right, but it wasn't great either".
Simbi said he was the only Zimbabwean sleeping at the house with up to 20 homeless locals. The married father of two said he intended sleeping at the house until he got a job.
"It's winter now. We are going to bring other Zimbabweans to come and sleep here. They are sleeping under a bridge in Cape Town. There are many of them, all unemployed," he said.
This comes just six weeks after South African civil rights group Afriforum secured a writ of execution to attach four government owned properties in Cape Town.
Wertheim Becker Inc, the South African law firm representing the German bank, confirmed on Friday that the properties would be sold at an auction on July 23 this year.
The properties are:
Attorney Amish Kika said the Zimbabwean consul general in South Africa had written a letter suggesting that one or two of the properties might have diplomatic immunity - creditors can only move on non-diplomatic assets.
He added: "These are private properties as far as we know but we will still investigate the claim. The sheriff has already attached them."
According to court papers filed at the High Court in Johannesburg, the Zimbabwe government, through the Zimbabwe Iron and Steel Co Ltd (Zisco), entered into a loan agreement with the German bank on January 29 1998.
Repayment was to be done in 16 installments starting in May 2000, but Zisco defaulted after the fourth payment in December 2002.
The German bank appointed a debt recovery agency in December 2004 and although Zisco confirmed the amount owed in a fax dated June 2005, payment still failed to arrive.
Subsequently the bank appointed arbitrator Dr Wolfgang Peter to facilitate payment and to avoid legal action. Once this failed, the bank went to court.
However, KFW Bankengruppe has had to negotiate with Afriforum.
Afriforum's legal representative said : "We welcome this action by the German bank ... the proceeds will be shared proportionately between the parties."
The organisation had successfully acted on behalf of several Zimbabwean farmers dispossessed following President Robert Mugabe's controversial land grab policy.
May 15, 2010 8:06 PM | By Stanley Gama
Auditor's report reveals that Zimbabwe Allied Banking Group splurged on 132
luxury cars for top managers and $36460 a month on food
The Zimbabwe Allied Banking Group (ZABG), one of the biggest banks in the
country, is on the verge of bankruptcy following revelations of serious
A due diligence report by Deloitte and Touche Corporate Finance and a
verification report by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) in possession of
The Sunday Times show that the bank is saddled with potential liabilities of
more than$12-million due to alleged mismanagement of depositors' funds.
The bank was engaged in non-core business, while spending extravagantly on
luxury cars, fuel, personal loans and "cafeteria" allowances for top
Poor decisions by management, such as underwriting rights issues when the
bank had no funding capacity, left it exposed. ZABG also spent large sums of
money on promoting 61% of workers to management positions .
ZABG is an amalgamation of Royal Bank Zimbabwe Limited, Trust Bank
Corporation Limited, and Barbican Bank Limited, which were forced into
curatorship in 2004 by the central bank. It accused them of abusing
depositors' funds. In 2005, the Reserve Bank merged the three into ZABG.
Recently it was decided to return the three banks' assets to the original
owners, although the deal has been stalled by the current crisis.
Revesai Gwenhamo, the ZABG spokesperson, said: "The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe
governor, Dr (Gideon) Gono, announced in a press statement he issued on
November 6 last year that negotiations were under way regarding the return
of ZABG to the original owners. As these negotiations are still on-going, it
would be inappropriate to discuss the issues you raise on ZABG at this
The due diligence report and the RBZ verification follow-up reveal a
startling free-for-all management style - despite the bank being in the red,
management still continued to overspend, including allocating 40 litres of
fuel a day for the chief executive officer, Stephen Gwasira.
Gwasira refused to comment, but stood by the response issued by Gwenhamo.
Documents show that ZABG has established a group known as the "top 20" who
earn hefty salaries, with the lowest remunerated of them getting at least
$500 of fuel a month, school fees and cafeteria (lunch and dinner)
The group blows $36460 a month on lunches and dinners. Gwasira gets about
$124 a day, while the rest get a minimum of $71 a day.
In Zimbabwe, civil servants earn about $150 a month.
Since 2005, the bank has bought at least 132 luxury cars, mainly for
management. The document reveals that: "The Reserve Bank also determined
that bank management made a number of imprudent decisions, which increased
the bank's liabilities against the background of a weak financial
The Sunday Times understands that the salary increases were done in
anticipation of severance packages if the bank is returned to the original
owners. The increases were effected in December soon after Gono had
announced that ZABG had a paltry $500000 capitalisation base left.
Angry junior employees expressed outrage at management. ''Management is
saying there is no money at the bank yet they increased their salaries and
allowances. We see them driving top of the range cars and enjoying all the
luxuries, yet we are wallowing in poverty,'' said an employee.
Peter Mutasa, the acting president of the Zimbabwe Banks and Allied Workers'
Union, said that ZABG management and employees were in a dispute over wages.
''Workers at ZABG have told us that their employer is refusing to negotiate
with them and we are going to deal with the case next week," Mutasa said.
Written by Staff reporter
Friday, 14 May 2010 10:24
HARARE - The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ)'s financial woes are likely to
deepen as it emerged last week that a union representing white farmers plans
to institute legal action against the central bank to recover export
proceeds looted by the central bank before 2009. (Pictured: RBZ governor
Gideon Gono - BROKE!)
The Commercial Farmers Union said in a notice to members that it was
considering undertaking court action against the RBZ to recover millions of
US dollars seized by the central bank from commercial farmers who exported
crops but had their bank accounts raided by RBZ governor Gideon Gono.
At the height of Zimbabwe's currency crisis between 2007 and 2008, which
coincided with the RBZ-induced hyperinflationary environment, many of the
country's farmers concentrated on producing commodities which were
exportable or attracted payment in foreign exchange.
"Government in turn also brought in many controls to monitor and control the
foreign exchange situation which resulted in many of our farmers losing
millions of United States dollars in capital, which had been seized by the
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe," the union said.
It did not say how much the farmers are still owed by the central bank.
Describing the situation as untenable, the CFU said the "only solution lies
though the intervention of the courts". "We are therefore prepared to
undertake a joint court action on
behalf of all those members of the Commercial Farmers' Union who are still
owed money by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe," the notice said.
The planned CFU court action is likely to add pressure on the bankrupt RBZ
which has already seen its assets attached by other creditors. In the latest
case, 100 buses belonging to the RBZ were this month attached to offset a
US$1, 5 million debt for seeds supplied by a South African company in 2006.
The attachment of the buses follows a ruling made in late March by Harare
High Court judge Justice Lavender Makoni in favour of Advance Seed South
Africa. It is understood that the central bank intended to set up a
transport company before the formation of the inclusive government.
Advanced Seed is the third company that has so far attached RBZ assets after
Farmtec Spares and Implements as well as Seed Co. The central bank owed
Farmtec Spares and Implements approximately US$2.1 million for 60 tractors
ordered in 2006 for the farm mechanization programme.
The mechanization scheme was one of the quasi-fiscal activities conducted by
the RBZ on behalf of the government and funded by printing vast amounts of
Zimbabwean dollars, leading to the rapid depreciation of the currency and
the worst episode of hyperinflation in history.
Written by STEVEN NYATHI
Friday, 14 May 2010 10:47
BULAWAYO -- London based investment company LonZim has expressed confidence
about Zimbabwe's recovery efforts but said more work needed to be done to
restore normalcy in the economy.
In a notice to shareholders, company chief executive Geoffrey White said
Harare needed to address the liquidity challenges affecting the speed of the
White said: "We are confident that Zimbabwe has a future. The people of
Zimbabwe remain one of the most industrious, valued and skilled work forces
on the continent, the basic infrastructure across the country is strong and
Zimbabwe remains a beautiful destination with significant tourism and
"The opportunity for the country to once again become a leading African
economy remains tantalisingly available." White said since the
rationalisation of the business environment through the adoption of
dollarisation that has led to the demise of hyperinflation companies can
once again plan for the future.
"Gradually the economy can be seen to be making progress. The size of the
economy remains very depressed. However, it is growing on a month-by-month
basis, encouraged by continuing investment into rebuilding Zimbabwe from the
international, public and, increasingly, the private sector," said White.
LonZim has interests in the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange listed Celsys Limited,
Leopard Rock Hotel in the eastern highlands while it is also looking to
introduce a new regional airline Fly540. The company is completing a US$1,7
million refurbishment of Leopard Rock hotel and is expected to launch the
regional Fly540 airline in the country soon.
"Zimbabwe remains a key target market for Fly540 once international traffic
numbers start to build, and the Harare Airport is of long term strategic
importance as one of the best infrastructure facilities in Southern Africa,"
Written by Staff Reporter/Radio VOP
Friday, 14 May 2010 10:31
.. as hunger stalks countryside -- again!
MANICALAND - The ashen-faced old man in torn pants pleads with our news crew
to buy some of his madhumbe, an edible plant tuber much like sweet potatoes.
He has a basketful of them and they sell at US$1 each. "I am living with my
four orphaned grand-children. These children were under the custody of my
late wife," the old man, who later identified himself as Kindness
Busangavanye said, with that disturbing ring of desperation unmistakable in
"The eldest of (my grandchildren) is in grade seven. I have nothing and no
one to turn to. I had four beasts, but they were all stolen. We survive on
madhumbe. I sell for one dollar each," Busangavanye told us during a recent
tour of parts of Manicaland province to assess the food situation there.
"We are hungry here. We did not plant any crops because I did not have seed.
Besides the scorching sun has wilted crops in this area," said
He is one of the estimated five million Zimbabweans who will require food
aid, as a protracted dry spell and poor rainfall this year and the collapse
of the agricultural sector due to the invasion of productive farm land, have
once again combined to deliver yet another poor harvest this year.
At Gudyanga shopping centre in rural Chimanimani West constituency, food
shortages are looming because most crops wilted.
A villager from Chimanimani, Casper Tokwani, said he and many of his
neighbours have turned to gold panning.??"We have nothing to eat and our
fields have wilted. We have turned to gold panning for survival but it's not
A recent crop assessment tour by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai showed
that the situation was getting dire in most provinces, where according to
the World Food Programme many families failed to produce enough food to meet
Once a regional breadbasket, Zimbabwe has seen a sharp decrease in food
production over the past decade in which the country avoided mass starvation
only because international aid agencies were quick to chip in with food
But a Consolidated Appeal Process (CAP) appeal by the United Nations
Development Programme (UNDP) for US$379 million to fund food and other
humanitarian support for Zimbabwe has met with lukewarm response from
international donors who have to date contributed only US$105 million or
about 28 percent of the required funds.
This as government leaders called on the UNDP to revise upwards the amount
required under the CAP saying more people than previously anticipated might
require food aid.
Critics blame Zimbabwe 's food crisis directly on President Robert Mugabe's
haphazard and often violent fast-track land reform exercise that displaced
established white commercial farmers and replaced them with either
incompetent or inadequately funded black farmers.
Food production plunged by about 60 percent as a result while chaos in the
agriculture sector because of farm seizures that began in 2000 also hit hard
Zimbabwe's once impressive manufacturing sector that had depended on a
robust farming sector for orders and inputs.
While violence has continued on white-held commercial farms in some parts of
the country, the economy has, however, shown signs of recovery since Mugabe
last year formed a unity government with former opposition leader and now
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.
However, the coalition government will still look to international relief
agencies to step in with food aid because it does not have cash to pay for
Written by Martin
Saturday, 15 May 2010 12:07
HARARE - Zimbabwean Attorney General (AG) Johannes Tomana only decided to
appeal against a High Court ruling clearing MDC-T treasurer Roy Bennett of
treason apparently after Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa leaned on him to
do so, it has emerged.
The news of Tomana allegedly bowing to political pressure to challenge
Bennett's against acquittal on charges of possessing weapons of war and
plotting to assassinate President Robert Mugabe came as the MDC politician
last Friday called for the AG to be investigated for possible criminal abuse
High Court Judge Chinembiri Bhunu last Monday acquitted Bennett, saying the
state had failed to establish a prima facie case against the politician.
Tomana told journalists after Bhunu's ruling that he was satisfied by the
judgment, appearing to suggest he would not appeal against Bennett's
However Tomana apparently later backtracked on Bhunu's ruling, instructing a
senior prosecutor to file last Wednesday an appeal against the judgment at
the Supreme Court.
The Johannesburg-based ZimOnline agency quoted a senior law officer in
Tomana's office as saying the AG only decided to appeal against Bennett's
acquittal after meeting Chinamasa last Tuesday who pressed him to challenge
the ruling in order to block the former opposition politician from being
sworn in as government deputy agriculture minister.
"The U-turn was made on Tuesday after the Cabinet meeting. The AG had met
Minister Chinamasa. It seems that is where he got his instructions," said
the law officer, whom ZimOnline did not name to protect him from possible
Chinamasa was not immediately available for comment on the matter while
Tomana dismissed claims he had been influenced to appeal against Bhunu's
ruling as "mere speculation" and insisted he alone took the decision to
challenge Bennett's acquittal.
"I am entitled by the Constitution to make the step my office took.
Everything you are talking about is mere speculation. I do not want to
listen to it," Tomana said.
Meanwhile Bennett in papers opposing the state's appeal against his
acquittal said that Tomana's conduct amounted to gross abuse of the court
process, adding that the AG should be investigated.
The MDC politician accused Tomana of resorting to using fabricated evidence
in his bid to get him convicted of treason and accused the AG of abdicating
his constitutional duty to prosecute without fear or favour.
"In so far as I am concerned, this application constitutes a gross abuse of
the court process, and demonstrates beyond doubt that the applicant (Tomana)
has completely abdicated his duty to be impartial, fair, detached and to
serve the interests of justice instead of seeking a conviction even on
fabricated and false evidence," said Bennett.
He added: "The application must be dismissed with costs and the court is
requested to do all things necessary to have applicant's conduct
The Supreme Court is yet to set down the Bennett case for hearing.
The case against Bennett stems from allegations of a plot to topple Mugabe
in 2006. The state alleges that Bennett gave money to gun dealer Peter
Michael Hitschmann to buy weapons to be used to assassinate Mugabe.
Prosecutors allege that Hitschmann implicated Bennett in 2006 when he was
arrested after being found in possession of firearms - claims the gun-dealer
has denied saying he was tortured into making confessions implicating the
MDC politician during interrogation at a military barracks near the eastern
border city of Mutare.
In his ruling last week, Bhunu said that there was nothing in Hitschmann's
confessions that connected Bennett to the alleged offences.
The handling of Bennett's case, in particular Mugabe's refusal to swear in
the MDC treasurer as deputy minister until he is cleared of treason, is one
of the key issues at the center of a bitter dispute between the veteran
leader and Tsvangirai, which is threatening the stability of their fragile
Meanwhile Bennett's lead lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa last Friday said she was
going to report to police the alleged theft of her client's passport from
the office of the Clerk of Court.
"Regarding the passport, it is theft and the person who took it for whatever
reason is in breach of a court order. I will be going to make a formal
police report," she said.
Bennett had surrendered his passport to court as part of stringent bail
conditions that the state argued were meant to ensure the MDC politician did
not abscond trial. The travel document has not been returned to him even
after his acquittal by Bhunu.
Written by Radio VOP
Friday, 14 May 2010 10:56
BULAWAYO -- The wife of Patrick Nabanyana, an MDC activist who was
mysteriously abducted from his Bulawayo house 10 years ago, has fallen on
hard times and has virtually become destitute, Radio VOP has reported.
Nabanyana was in 2000 seized from his house in Nketa high-density suburb by
unknown people who are however strongly believed to be war veterans who wee
behind most of the political violence that engulfed Zimbabwe during the
run-up to general elections the same year.
Nabanyana, who was Education Minister David Coltart's polling agent for ward
24, has never been seen since the abduction and is believed to have been
murdered by his abductors. ??
His wife, Patricia told Radio VOP that her plight worsened in 2005 following
the split of the MDC split into factions. ??
She said: "Before the split of the MDC I used to get assistance from the
party especially from Coltart. Now nobody is looking after my family. I am
struggling to put food on the table for my family of four.
"Two of the children are doing secondary school and it is very difficulty
for me to raise school fees for the children. I have also, unsuccessfully,
on numerous occasions tried to secure a birth certificate for our last born
Patricia said officials from the registrar's office were demanding a death
certificate before issuing the child a birth certificate. ??
"Everybody knows that my husband was abducted and disappeared and I do not
know how these people expect me to get the death certificate when it is
known that this issue is politically related and therefore needs politicians
to intervene," she said.
Patricia criticised the government's Organ for National Healing saying the
body had failed to consult victims and survivors of violence on how the
healing process should be conducted.
She said: ?"That organ called national healing is a disgrace to the nation.
I nearly broke into tears when I saw one of the Ministers responsible for
the organ on national television talking about national healing. How can you
talk about national healing without consulting the people affected? "
Four war veterans from Bulawayo were arrested following the disappearance of
Nabanyana but were acquitted by the High Court under unclear circumstances.
Written by Editor
Friday, 14 May 2010 14:22
Newspapers, serious ones that is, normally refrain from commenting on
matters before the courts, saving their views for until after such matters
This newspapers do in order to allow justice to run its course without undue
influence or interference from editors and their reporters bidding for
whatever outcome they may deem befitting a particular case. We stand by this
But to stand aside and watch silently while the law is being cynically
manipulated and the courts brazenly used to persecute a citizen of Zimbabwe
as is clearly happening in the case of Roy Bennett would be a grievous
disservice to the cause of justice itself.
For the record, we hold no brief for Bennett. Indeed, we would be the first
to call for the imposition upon the MDC politician of the maximum penalty
prescribed by law should a competent court find him guilty of the alleged
But one needs not be a rocket scientist - to borrow a tired cliché - to know
that the reason why a man accused of plotting high treason several moons ago
is still roaming the streets is because his accusers know, as we all do,
that the man has no case to answer.
The shabby performance by Attorney General Johannes Tomana and his
pseudo-computer experts in court earlier this year sold them away.
Justice Chinembiri Bhunu - who it must be said is a beneficiary of Zanu (PF)
largesse - eloquently answered the question of whether Bennett illegally
kept weapons of war and plotted to murder President Robert Mugabe as alleged
by Tomana and company.
There was simply "no nexus between the accused and the commission of the
offences", the judge said as he acquitted Bennett last week.
Not that we needed the judge to tell us Bennett was innocent. We knew that.
We also knew that Bhunu's judgment was never going to be the last word in
this affair. Tomana had to appeal against Bennett's acquittal because this
case was never about the law.
We have said it before and we repeat: the prosecution/persecution of Bennett
is nothing but a deliberate and clearly racist strategy by allies of Zanu
(PF) in charge of the justice system to victimise one individual in order to
undermine the unity government and ultimately frustrate the MDC-T into
quitting the coalition.
They want the unity government and its reform programme to fail because
they, unlike Bennett who they persecute for a crime he did not commit, have
so much to account for, right from Gukurahundi to the political murders and
other abuses their charges continue to perpetrate even to this day.
Success for the unity government can have only one ending for them - and it's
But for how long do the security chiefs and the so-called Zanu (PF)
hardliners think they can continue running away from justice? For, in the
same way that they drag Bennett to court shall they- in the fullness of
time - be brought before the judges to answer for their many transgressions.
And we wish them good luck on that day, they will need it!
May 15, 2010 8:29 PM | By Mgcini Nyoni, Bulawayo
A matter that is not resolved in the right manner is never buried and it
never dies. Take for example the slaughter of Armenian people by the Ottoman
(Turkish) army in 1895-96 and 1909.
The Turkish government denies that genocide ever took place. The reality of
the matter is that the matter will always be around and will cause problems.
That is the case with the issue of Gukurahundi in Zimbabwe. When Zimbabwe
became independent there was a never a proper sit-down to say, okay, what
were we fighting for and how do we reconcile what we were fighting for with
what's obtained on the ground?
How do the blacks in general and the war veterans in particular move past
the fact that for decades whites had been oppressing them and humiliating
them in their own country. The chickens came home to roost in 2000 and the
world cried foul. What the world forgot was that for decades a wrong had
been done and nothing had been done to right that wrong.
Julius Malema tends to overrun his mouth sometimes, but in his rantings does
he not raise valid points? The problem is that the likes of Malema come to
Zimbabwe and praise Mugabe without thinking twice of what he did in
Matabeleland in the '80s.
The world and Mugabe seem to have forgotten that a wrong was done in
Matabeleland and nothing was done to right that wrong.
While we are constantly reminded of the wrongs that the whites did before
1980, everyone, except of course the Ndebeles, have forgotten that 20 000 or
more Ndebeles and moderate Shonas were murdered. And if nothing is done to
right the wrong, we will never move past that dark episode.
The inviting of the North Korean national soccer team to camp in Zimbabwe by
Zanu-PF shows an irritating amount of arrogance.
We have not moved past Gukurahundi and the problem cannot be wished away.
Recently, the visual artist Owen Maseko was arrested for allegedly insulting
Mugabe in his exhibition Sibathontisele. But we all know it was for daring
to raise the issue of Gukurahundi. Late last year, my play Poetic Journey
was disrupted by Zanu-PF loyalists because it too touched on this sensitive
The Zimbabwean government, or better still commander in chief of Zimbabwe
defence forces, Comrade Robert Gabriel Mugabe, should realise that they have
to deal with the issue of Gukurahundi. And by dealing with it I don't mean
throwing everyone into jail or abducting the vocal members of the Ndebele
society in the dead of night.
I for one lost my father to Gukurahundi and I think imprisoning Mugabe would
be revenge, which pollutes the soul. I would prefer a truth and
reconciliation commission. The fact that there is no acknowledgement of the
matter is rather irritating.