Fri Apr 30, 2010 11:36am GMT
* Protests over N.Korea training of unit in 1980s killings
* Minister says team visit not confirmed
* Cabinet to handle 'sensitive' matter
By Nelson Banya
HARARE, April 30 (Reuters) - Zimbabwe on Friday backed away from an
announcement that North Korea's World Cup team would train in the country
after protests over its role in training an army unit accused of killing
thousands of people.
Tourism Minister Walter Mzembi last month announced the North Korean team
would train in Zimbabwe ahead of the World Cup that starts on June 11 in
neighbouring South Africa.
But Sports Minister David Coltart told Reuters on Friday the visit had not
"First of all, it has not been confirmed that they are coming at all. If
they did come, clearly, we will handle it in a sensitive way that recognises
the history and emotions around the matter," Coltart said.
The original announcement triggered protests from opposition groups in
south-western Matabeleland provinces where rights groups say a North
Korean-trained army unit killed an estimated 20,000 people during President
Robert Mugabe's crackdown on an insurgency in the region in the 1980s.
Coltart declined to comment on reports that the government had changed
initial plans to have the North Koreans set up camp in Bulawayo, the main
city in Matabeleland.
"The issue is now being handled in cabinet, so it is premature for me to
speculate on how their visit will be managed," Coltart said.
Political groups and rights activists in Matabeleland say they will protest
against the North Koreans, even if they do not come to Bulawayo.
"We are relieved that they are no longer coming to Bulawayo, but we're
worried that they could still be coming to Zimbabwe," said Methuseli Moyo, a
spokesperson for the small opposition party ZAPU, which comprises mainly
Matabeleland's Ndebele ethnic group.
"It should be the concern of every Zimbabwean that North Korea trained those
who perpetrated the atrocities. Even if they camp in Harare, we will still
organise the protests."
Zimbabwe, whose tourism industry has declined sharply because of a
decade-long economic and political crisis, has been courting nations that
qualified for the World Cup finals to visit the country en route to South
Africa, in a bid to boost revenue.
The southern African country's economy has stabilised under a power-sharing
government formed by Mugabe and bitter rival Morgan Tsvangirai, now prime
minister, but analysts say constant wrangles over reforms and policy have
held back progress.
Fri Apr 30, 11:29 am ET
HARARE (AFP) - Zimbabwe's government has reduced its registration
requirements for media organisations and journalists operating in the
country in a bid to reform its harsh media laws, a minister said Friday.
According to a gazette published Friday, foreign media organisations will
pay 2,500 US dollars, slashed from the previous 30,000-dollar fee, for
permission to operate in the southern African country.
Fees were also greatly reduced for individual foreign journalist
accreditation and for local media.
The gazette said the new prices were effective from January 1 but not yet in
"The commission will start receiving applications for renewal of
registration certificates by mass media service providers and renewal of
accreditation status by Tuesday (May 4)," the chairman of the Zimbabwe Media
Commission, Godfrey Majonga, said in a statement.
The commission was appointed in December as part of the power-sharing deal
between President Robert Mugabe and Prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai.
"All those mass media services providers who have been publishing without
operating licences should normalize their status by June 4," Majonga added.
In March, Tsvangirai indicated that he will repeal and amend the country's
contentious media and security legislation by the end of this year.
According to the government work plan drafted by Tsvangirai, the Access to
Information and Protection of Privacy Act -- which bans foreign journalists
from working permanently in the country -- will be abolished.
Tsvangirai said the act would be replaced by Freedom of Information Bill
that will be introduced to allow journalists greater access to official
The prime minister said a Media Practitioners' Bill will be tabled in
parliament to regulate the conduct of journalists.
In 2002, Mugabe's government passed an act forcing media organisations and
journalists to register with a government appointed body. This resulted in
several newspapers being closed down and some correspondents of foreign
newspapers being deported.
Under the new fees, journalists working for foreign media will pay 120 US
dollars down from 3,000 dollars while local journalists will pay 30 dollars.
Fees for media houses from the southern African will be 1,000 US dollars
down from 30,000 dollars.
April 30, 2010 - Amnesty International supporters around the world will send
an urgent call on May Day on Saturday to Zimbabwe authorities to stop
intimidating and harassing human rights activists in the country.
Amnesty International's Zimbabwe Researcher Simeon Mawanza said: "Police
officers regularly and systematically aim to frustrate human rights
defenders' engaging in peaceful protests. This kind of behaviour contravenes
part of Zimbabwe's 'Global Political Agreement' which requires all
government bodies to strictly observe the rule of law and remain
non-partisan and impartial.
"It's unacceptable that more than a year since the setting up the unity
government, harassment and intimidation of human rights activists is being
tolerated. Police should respect and protect human rights and not be the
primary opponents of progress."
Other activists in Zimbabwe have been intimidated and harassed by
authorities in Zimbabwe.
One high-profile human rights worker, Gertrude Hambira, Secretary General of
the General Agriculture and Plantation Workers Union of Zimbabwe (GAPWUZ),
has been forced to go into hiding after continued harassment by Zimbabwean
police officers. In March this year, Gertrude was forced to flee after
officers from the Law and Order section based at Harare Central police
station raided the union's head office in search of her.
Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) were recently arrested and detained for six
days without charge after they took part in a peaceful demonstration in the
country's capital, Harare.
WOZA members - Jenni Williams, Magodonga Mahlangu, Clara Manjengwa and
Celina Madukani - were arrested on 15 April while attending a peaceful
demonstration protesting against rising electricity prices. They were
arrested along with 61 others who were subsequently released.
The four women reported how they were detained in "hellish" conditions
exacerbated by erratic water supplies in Harare.
Amnesty International UK's Trade Union Campaigns Manager, Shane Enright
said: "It's so important that people around the world stand in solidarity
with the brave human rights and trade union activists in Zimbabwe this May
Day. Our message to the police and security services is that we are watching
you and will call you to account, however long it takes."
Amnesty has documented consistent politicised and partisan policing by
members of the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP), in particular the Law and
Order section, aimed at silencing the voices of human rights defenders.
In March police arrested Okay Machisa, the director of the Zimbabwe Human
Rights Association (ZimRights). Machisa was forced to temporarily leave the
country as a result of his arrest.
Mawanza said: "In order to ensure it upholds its commitments set out in the
Global Political Agreement, the Zimbabwe government must make every effort
to ensure that police officers are adequately trained and allow people to
exercise their rights to freedom of expression and association and to carry
out peaceful protests."
By Tichaona Sibanda
30 April 2010
Police Commissioner General Augustine Chihuri is dragging his police force
into a scramble for the Chiadzwa diamonds, in a move likely to raise
The scramble for the diamonds reflects the intensifying fight for a slice of
the lucrative gems between armed forces chiefs, top politicians and
businessmen with links to ZANU PF.
The Zimbabwe Independent reported on Friday that Chihuri personally wrote a
letter to Mines Minister Obert Mpofu, asking for a mining concession in
Marange for the police.
In his letter Chihuri said the police will bring in Security Self-Reliance
Enterprises to mine the diamonds for them, through a joint partnership with
state-owned Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC).
Already two companies awarded contracts to mine the controversial Marange
fields, Canadile and New Reclamation Group, are controlled by the country's
top military personnel. The mine was taken over from its legal owner at
Late last year at a Kimberley Process (KP) meeting, mining Minister Obert
Mpofu said Zimbabwe had recruited foreign investors to work the mine, after
convincing the enforcers of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme that
it had complied adequately enough to receive a second chance as a KP member.
Initially a KP review had raised serious concerns about the known human
rights abuses in the area, including the murder and rape of local diggers by
military forces. Human Rights Watch had reported that at least 200 people
were gunned down by the military in late 2008 and that the abuses have
As part of its KP work plan, Mpofu announced last year the country would
demilitarize the fields and bring in private security companies to secure
the area. But the area is still controlled by the military and the two
companies contracted to mine the Marange are run by military chiefs who have
positioned themselves to profit from the mine and with it, to win a claim to
Mpofu, who is on US and EU targeted sanctions list is reportedly in business
with the defense force chief General Constantine Chiwenga. New Reclamation
boss Robert Mhlanga is closely linked to Air Marshall Perence Shiri. Mhlanga
was one of the country's first black airforce helicopter pilots and used to
fly Mugabe around the country.
Now Chihuri also wants a slice of the diamonds, through Security
A former police officer with the ZRP, Stanley Gonese, said; 'The police
force is there to prevent and detect crime. It is unimaginable and
unthinkable that they would venture into a money spinning venture. The force
is run by public funds, to ensure their operations remain above board.'
Unfortunately, as all Zimbabweans know, the police force has long been used
to ensure Mugabe holds on to power - for at least a decade it's operations
have not been above board. These potential deal just ensures more of the
By Lance Guma
30 April 2010
South African facilitators tasked with breaking the political deadlock in
Zimbabwe came away empty handed on Thursday, after meeting party leaders
Morgan Tsvangirai, Robert Mugabe and Arthur Mutambara. Charles Nqakula,
Lindiwe Zulu and Mac Maharaj were appointed by President Jacob Zuma to
smooth widening cracks in the coalition government. They jetted into the
country and left on the same day, without any breakthrough.
Deputy Prime Minister Mutambara confirmed the meeting, but refused to
disclose what had been discussed. However Zulu, who serves as Zuma’s
international relations adviser, told journalists on Thursday; “We met all
of them and we are now on our way back to South Africa. There was good
understanding of issues and at the end of the day we need them to
familiarize themselves with the report they were given. We will be back but
we are not sure when”.
Zulu was talking about a report prepared some 3 weeks ago by the
negotiators, detailing the progress or lack of it in their talks. It was not
clear what she meant by suggesting they wanted the principals to familiarize
themselves with the report, when it was compiled by their own party
negotiators. Sources close to the talks however say the facilitators were
trying to push the three party leaders to meet and discuss the report to
attempt to clear the outstanding issues.
Mugabe’s ZANU PF party has always made it clear it will not fully implement
the GPA until western targeted sanctions on some ZANU PF individuals and
companies are removed.
Meanwhile the report on the talks reportedly shows that the parties remain
deadlocked on the appointments of central bank governor Gideon Gono,
attorney general Johannes Tomana and deputy agriculture Minister designate
Roy Bennett. Mugabe continues to refuse to appoint MDC nominated provincial
governors and unilaterally changed the mandates of some of the MDC
ministries to give key functions to his party loyalists.
One commentator told Newsreel that the reason Mugabe signed up to the GPA
was that he knew he could ‘use endless dialogue as a weapon to remain in
power, without sharing power’ and that no one was going to force him to do
Although press reports regularly state that new ‘concessions’ have been
added to the discussions the bottom line is that the GPA has not been
implemented by Mugabe, yet it is an agreement that he signed up to in 2008.
All that is needed in the country is a genuine return to the rule of law and
everything else would fall into place.
And still Zimbabweans are being treated as though they have no right to know
the details about what happens at these endless talks.
By Violet Gonda
30 April 2010
The MDC-T issued a statement on Friday dismissing as 'malicious' the reports
of factionalism in the party. Speculation is rife that the recent violent
incident that took place at the party headquarters was a result of power
struggles within the leadership, ahead of next year's party congress.
Three private investigators were beaten and the party's Director General,
Toendepi Shonhe, had his car confiscated by MDC youths.
However a statement issued by the MDC-T on Friday accused ZANU PF of
embarking on a smear campaign to malign President Morgan Tsvangirai and
Secretary General Tendai Biti, by alleging they are involved in a power
The statement said; "What has happened at Harvest house are disturbances to
do with administrative issues which the leadership is currently seized with.
The culprits have since been suspended and an independent commission has
been set up to carry out a comprehensive probe. These are internal hygiene
issues that a gigantic and mass-based party like the MDC can deal with."
"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."
Despite the party denying reports of infighting, some MDC-T officials
maintain that the leadership, mainly Morgan Tsvangirai and Tendai Biti, are
at loggerheads, disagreeing on strategy and tactics.
One observer said: "Fundamentally, the MDC has a structural flow in its
constitutional architecture. It creates two centres of power. It doesn't
help that the occupants in those two centres of power are different
individuals - one thinking as a unionist and another as a lawyer; both
trying to survive the rigmarole of hard core naked politics in Zimbabwe's
fast moving transitional train."
Political analyst Professor John Makumbe said there are power struggles in
every party but he believes it is highly unlikely that Biti would want to
push Tsvangirai from power, although he said differences are there, just as
they were when the MDC split into two in 2005, over ideological differences.
"Yes there are differences of methodology of how to resolve the crisis but
these differences have never esclated within the MDC leadership to the level
where there are struggles for positions, as is alleged at the moment."
The political analyst said it will be important to see the findings of the
committee that has been set up to investigate the incident that took place
at Harvest House. Party insiders said the committee is still conducting
interviews and it's not yet clear when they will conclude their
investigations and if the party will publicise its findings.
A source said those in the committee include Zimrights director Okay
Machisa, rights laywer Kucaca Phulu; plus from the MDC-T - Nketa MP Seiso
Moyo, Deputy Minister of Justice Jesse Majome, and national council member
Makumbe said for transparancy the party should have set up an entirely
independent commission of enquiry to look into the issues. He said if there
is any factionalism then MDC individuals on the commission could be aligned
to one of the factions.
Meanwhile another investigation committee is expected in the UK over the
weekend, to investigate allegations of corruption in the MDC-T UK chapter.
It is understood these committee members include MDC MPs Sam Sipepa Nkomo
and Tabitha Khumalo and the party's finance director Rumbidzai Nyamayemombe.
By Tichaona Sibanda
30 April 2010
Law and order police officers from Bindura are hunting down the MDC
provincial youth chairman for Mashonaland Central, for allegedly insulting
Robert Mugabe in Guruve on Wednesday.
Tonderai Samhu, who has since gone underground, told us on Friday that
police also want to speak to him about the alleged 'political' rally he
organised in Mvurwi on Wednesday to bid farewell to the late MDC provincial
Chairman Biggie Chigonero.
Chigonero died on Monday. On Wednesday the MDC organised a rally where 5000
people, including the Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, turned up to pay
their last respects at Mvurwi stadium. Police are now accusing Samhu of
organising a political rally without their authority.
Later in the day Chigonero was laid to rest at Chigonero village in Guruve
South. It is here where Samhu chanted the MDC slogan that denounces Mugabe
and ZANU PF, and which has now got him into trouble.
'I don't see what the fuss is about. They can't accuse me of organising a
rally; this was a gathering to pay tribute to our fallen hero, a provincial
chairman of the party. We had no alternative but to change venues at the
last minute because Mvurwi hall cannot accommodate 5000 people. This is the
reason why we switched venues at the last minute because we didn't expect so
many people to come for the funeral,' Samhu said.
As for allegedly insulting Mugabe, the youth chairman said he was merely
chanting a well known party slogan that they routinely use during party
gatherings. He said the slogan; 'Mbavha bvisa (remove thieves), Mugabe bvisa
(remove Mugabe), ZANU PF bvisa (remove ZANU PF) was not an insult, but a
rallying call to remove Mugabe through the ballot box.
Police officers have been to Samhu's house in Mvurwi, but have not been able
to find him. He said he will hand himself over to the police only when they
explain to his lawyers what they want from him.
'I'm in hiding at the moment waiting to hear from my lawyers but otherwise
if I get the all clear signal I will go to the law and order section in
Bindura,' Samhu said.
Over the years, numerous people have been arrested, fined, beaten or jailed
under the country's draconian laws that make it an offence to make any
alleged derogatory comment about Mugabe, the world's oldest head of state
who has been in power for nearly 30 years.
Mwenezi April 30, 2010 - Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) legislator
for Masvingo Urban constituency Tongai Matutu’s parents here are living in
fear following a death threat from Zanu (PF) politburo member and Mwenezi
East Member of Parliament Kudakwashe Bhasikiti.
Bhasikiti who was riled by the death of his aide Nhamo Machacha Munechi
openly told the people at Neshuro Growth Point on Wednesday that he was
going to revenge and kill all those he suspects to have influenced the
murder of his assistant.
He said his prime suspects are Matutu’s parents.
RadioVOP was informed that Bhasikiti later sent four Zanu (PF) youth to
Matutu’s homestead in ward 2, who informed the legislator’s parents that
their days were numbered.
Matutu said he will never take the threat lightly.
“Look, I have my parents down there and they are already living in fear
because of his death threat. You never know what will happen to
them because some of the youths from Zanu PF are known killers.With the
influence from an MP, anything is possible. I have since
filed a report with the police and I am ready to take him to court. I am
instructing my law firm to sue him,” said Matutu.
Matutu is a practicing lawyer with Matutu and Kwiririra legal practitioners.
However, Bhasikiti said Matutu was supposed to apologise for the death of
his aide rather than to ‘further insult the bereaved’.
“I am the bereaved and Matutu must apologise to me rather than insulting me.
We know the murder was a calculated move by MDC.
“I will not be stopped to tell people that the Matutus must be answerable
for Nhamo’s death. Whether its Bhasikiti or Zanu (PF), I know
one day we shall revenge,” said Bhasikiti.
Nhamo was killed by a 15 year old boy in revenge for his father who was
murdered by Zanu (PF) youth during the 2008 elections last week.
“The coming together of Zimbabwean women across their diversities provides a
new impetus and bridge for implementation of the Global Political
Agreement.” — Mary Robinson
(Harare, Zimbabwe—April 30, 2010) Last evening in Harare, the leaders of the
women’s wings of the three main political parties signed a resolution to
work across their political divides to accelerate implementation of the
Global Political Agreement (GPA) and build a common agenda for women’s
empowerment. The signing of this historic resolution was witnessed by Olivia
Muchena, Minister of Women’s Affairs, Gender and Community Development;
Sekai Holland, Minister in the Organ on National Healing, Reconciliation and
Integration; Mary Robinson, President of Realizing Rights: The Ethical
Globalization Initiative, former President of Ireland and former UN High
Commissioner for Human Rights; and Lois Bruthus, Ambassador of Liberia to
South Africa and Zimbabwe. The resolution was immediately endorsed by the
Women’s Parliamentary Caucus of Zimbabwe and welcomed by the women’s
Emilia Muchawa, President of the Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe, expressed
enthusiasm for the resolution and noted, “I am pleased to report that there
is a strong commitment to developing a roadmap for dialogue and action for
women over the next two years that will include the civil society voices of
the Women’s Coalition as a key partner with the Ministry of Women’s Affairs,
Gender and Community Development and the Organ on National Healing,
Reconciliation and Integration.”
This resolution and commitment to a roadmap for women were outcomes of a
meeting called the High Level Dialogue on Women’s Empowerment in the
Political and Economic Arena, co-hosted by the Zimbabwean Ministry of Women,
Gender and Community Development; the Organ for National Healing,
Reconciliation and Integration; and the Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe.
This dynamic dialogue was held on the occasion of a five-day solidarity
visit by a delegation of eminent African women leaders led by Mary Robinson
and organized by the Women Leaders Intercultural Forum of Realizing Rights.
The objectives of the mission included sharing global experiences on women’s
empowerment. President Robinson was joined on the visit by:
• Dr. Brigalia Bam (South Africa), Chairperson, Independent Electoral
Commission, South Africa; former General Secretary, South African Council of
• Dr. Achola Pala (Kenya),former Africa Chief, UNIFEM; former Senior Policy
Advisor, Africa Bureau, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
• Dr. Thelma Awori (Uganda/Liberia), President of the Board, Ellen Johnson
Sirleaf Market Women’s Fund; Member, Civil Society Advisory Group on UNSCR
1325, United Nations; former director of UNDP’s Africa Bureau; UN Resident
Representative in Zimbabwe; and President of Isis-WICCE
• Ambassador Counsellor Lois Bruthus (Liberia), Liberian Ambassador to South
Africa, former President of the Female Lawyers Association
• Mrs. Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda (Zimbabwe), General Secretary, World Young
Women’s Christian Association (YWCA); former Regional Director for East and
the Horn of Africa, UNIFEM; and Human Rights Officer with UNICEF in Zimbabwe
and Liberia. Founder of Rozaria Memorial Trust (Zimbabwe).
• Ms. Elizabeth Lule (Uganda), Manager, Operational, Quality and Knowledge
Services for The World Bank; former manager of the World Bank’s program on
HIV/AIDS, where she managed the Bank’s HIV/AIDS work in Africa.
The delegation was warmly received by the women of Zimbabwe and the
leadership of the Inclusive Government, including the President, Vice
Presidents, Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister. Listening and learning
was at the center of the delegation’s active engagement with women. During
their visit, the delegation met with women in the rural areas and talked to
advocacy groups, civil society organizations, courageous human rights
defenders, young women, the UN country team and the diplomatic community.
Dr. Achola Pala noted, “Despite the challenges, we were impressed by the
determination and courage of the Zimbabwean women as full and active
participants in the process of transformation of their society. We saw the
innovation and resilience of women, particularly women in the rural areas,
in providing for their families. We listened to their collective
acknowledgement of the need for healing and their acceptance that
Zimbabweans have wounded each other.”
The women in the leadership of the country expressed a deep commitment to
bring an end to violence. Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda noted, “It was a high
point when the Zimbabwean women political leaders acknowledged to each other
that violence against women had occurred and the nation must provide support
urgently to survivors, as well as define ways for justice and healing.”
The delegation was pleased to observe that mechanisms and institutions are
in place for redress and reconciliation, such as the Global Political
Agreement (GPA) and its monitoring mechanisms, such as the Joint Monitoring
and Implementation Committee (JOMIC); the Organ for National Healing,
Reconciliation, and Integration; and the Human Rights Commission. Dr. Thelma
Awori stated, “These efforts by the Zimbabwean people, and Zimbabwean women
in particular, require international acknowledgement and support, both moral
and financial. The urgency of seizing this window of opportunity in Zimbabwe
cannot be overstated. If these efforts are not supported or nurtured, we run
the risk of the efforts losing momentum.”
The delegation of eminent women identified two critical issues:
1) The constitutional reform process is pivotal to the success of the Global
Political Agreement. The delegation highlighted how important it is,
therefore, that women fully participate in this process so that their rights
are enshrined in the new constitution.
2) Given the present economic constraints, resources are required to
stimulate women’s economic activities so as to better position their
participation in the economy and development.
In view of all that the delegation heard and learned from the women in
Zimbabwe, members of the delegation found good reason that the way the world
talks about Zimbabwe should take into account the progress that has been
made here on the perspectives of women. The delegation urges the regional
and international communities to support the efforts of the women of
# # #
For more information on the Women Leaders Diplomacy Mission to Zimbabwe
visit Realizing Rights: The Ethical Globalization Initiative at
RAY NDLOVU - Apr 30 2010 11:07
A large white house on the road in the township of Luveve, on the outskirts
of Bulawayo, is a striking sight with its yellow double-thick wall, three
metres in height.
Locals call it the “Nigerian house” because, well, it looks a lot like
houses in Nigerian films and sits impressively against a backdrop of tiny
homes with small fences and makeshift gates.
A light bulb perched on the wall is what usually draws my attention as I
pass by on my way home. It is always on, day or night. But recent power cuts
have meant that it is frequently off.
Farther down the road, clouds of smoke from fires where sadza (pap) is being
prepared hang over houses, a further indication that there is no
“It’s like this every day for the whole week, cooking lunch and supper by
fire or primus stove and then going to sleep early because there is nothing
else to do,” Candy Khumalo tells me in her kitchen, in flickering
“Sometimes the power cuts can last for the whole night and morning of the
next day and it’s when kids playing on the street start shouting
hysterically that you know electricity is back.” She presses her cellphone
to check the time and sighs.
“What’s most frustrating is that I can’t watch Generations and I terribly
miss it.” Power cuts have increased in Zimbabwe recently, lasting between 10
and 12 hours a day.
A desperate situation is unfolding with the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply
Authority (Zesa) struggling to meet monthly domestic demands of 2 200MW of
electricity against the current average production of 900MW, which is
generated from the Kariba hydro plant and imports.
Hampered further by the inability of Hwange power station to operate at peak
(the power station is “under stress and leveraging between one to two units”,
according to a Zesa official) the country’s power supply is in a critical
Hwange, a key power source in the country, has witnessed a slump in
electricity generation over the past decade due to the breakdown of aged
equipment and inadequate funding to buy spares to revamp units. This,
despite a power purchase agreement drafted in February 2007 between Zimbabwe
and Namibia, through which NamPower paid US$40-million to Zesa for the
refurbishment of Hwange.
Under the “win-win agreement” Zesa delivers 150MW of electricity to NamPower
for five years -- regardless of the situation at Hwange. But even though
electricity generation at Hwange is at just 45% of operating capacity, Zesa
officials have rejected reports that they are considering decommissioning
the station. And a recent US$10-million cash injection from the government
earlier this month to refurbish Hwange seems to back that up.
Besides, says Zesa spokesperson Fullard Gwasira, “even if Hwange was working
at full capacity, power cuts would still continue because the demand for
power is so dynamic and we are importing at least 35% of our electricity
Economic analysts have warned that the erratic power supplies in the country
are a threat to the full recovery of the economy, despite the 4.7% growth
last year. As a measure against the long hours without electricity, many
businesses -- from supermarkets and fast-food outlets to banks and
butcheries -- are now using generators.
At a pricy US$160 for a petrol-powered 10hp generator that provides basic
lighting, to the industrial-size generators costing upwards of US$1 000,
alternative power sources are too expensive for most in Zimbabwe.
Members of Women of Zimbabwe Arise (Woza) and residents recently issued the
power utility with yellow cards demanding that Zesa “shape up or ship out”.
They are demanding that the power utility reduces its monthly electricity
charges to US$5 as residents are without electricity for extended periods.
On average, current monthly electricity bills range between US$30 and US$60,
with ratepayers parting with 20% to 40% of their salaries on electricity
Zesa is adamant that its service delivery problems are linked to the
accruing debt owed by residents in unpaid bills, which they claim is now at
more than US$380-million. They estimate that 21% of consumers in Bulawayo
have not paid a single cent since January 2009 towards their electricity
bills, funds that could be channelled towards improving Zesa’s service
Back at home the light bulb at the Nigerian house is off again. Clutching my
laptop and HTC smartphone, I silently pray that they see me through to the
next day -- or until there is electricity again.
My laptop is the only means of accessing the internet via dial-up and
informing friends and family on Facebook and Twitter about my lack-of-
power-induced prolonged silence and to complete my unfinished work and meet
the boss’s deadline.
A weak battery makes my laptop less useful, so it’s the cellphone that I use
mostly nowadays. I SMS friends and type work assignments on my phone. It’s
the last resort against falling idle and gazing at the time futilely,
waiting for the unknown.
We launched the Music project today. The idea is to support local artists
in Zimbabwe by providing a platform for their music to be sold and promoted
on our website. Mukuru does all the recording free of charge and we give 80%
of the royalties back to the artist.
OUTSIDE LOOKING IN -
The UK is in the throes of an election campaign. For perhaps the first time
in years the Brits actually seem to have woken up to politics and one of the
reasons has undoubtedly been the television debates between the leaders of
the three main political parties. The final debate was last evening and for
someone used to elections 'Zim-style', it is fascinating to watch
democracy - even if it is flawed - in action. Each time I see the party
leaders on screen, I can't help wondering if ZTV, controlled as it is by
Zanu PF, would ever host a debate between Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Mutambara
with questions submitted by a studio audience and all under the control of
an impartial Chairperson! It's an intriguing thought but we all know it's
not likely to happen while Mugabe is in power. The sight of Mugabe and
Ahmadinejad, standing shoulder to shoulder at the International Trade Fair,
was a reminder that dictators are not concerned with the democratic
process - retaining power at all costs is their sole concern.
One of the complaints frequently heard from the British people is that
"Politicians are all the same; you can't believe a word they say and they're
all out for themselves." I suspect you would probably hear much the same
comment in Zimbabwe. Sadly, that now appears to apply to both sides of the
political divide; after one year of 'sharing' power with Zanu PF it seems
the MDC too is not immune to the attractions of the 'good life', so much so
that many of them appear to have forgotten their roots in the labour
movement. It was profoundly shocking to hear Tendayi Biti talk as he did
this week of amending the Labour Act in favour of employers so that wages
could be cut 'depending on the state of the economy' and the right to strike
would be limited if not prohibited. I remember hearing Biti when he was in
London shortly after I arrived here. He was very impressive, not least
because he appeared to be totally committed to the cause of the workers; a
genuine social democrat. Yet five years later, when the UN estimates that
unemployment in Zimbabwe stands at 90% and, for anyone lucky enough to have
a job, the average wage is $150, Biti chooses to support not the struggling
workers but the fat cat bosses.
Interestingly, the same comment is made in Britain about the governing
Labour Party, they have lost touch with their roots and have chosen to
support the bankers and big money. Once they are in power, politicians tend
to treat the electorate as an unthinking mass but ordinary people, whether
in the UK or Africa, are not stupid and they recognise immediately when
politicians desert their core principles. The MDC is in real danger of doing
just that if Biti's statement to business people this week is anything to go
by. The hopes and dreams of ordinary people for a better life are forgotten
as the politicians grow more comfortable in their newly found middle class
The breakdown in education is highlighted by the revelation that 45.000
teachers have quit the teaching profession in the last decade. There are
5.200 Primary schools in Zimbabwe and they are 30% short of teachers;
Secondary schools too have a shortfall of almost 30%. The result of this
mass exodus is clearly shown in the abysmal examination results just
published. 19% of the students sitting O level achieved Pass marks and at
Primary School level a mere 7% of the children passed their vital Grade
Seven exams. David Coltart the MDC M. Minister of Education seems to be an
honest, hard-working man but it's hard to see what he can do to solve this
problem without financial resources. The health sector too is similarly
deprived of money and manpower; with just 47 surgical doctors left in the
country, excluding ex-pats and missionary doctors. The truth is that
Zimbabwe is broke, there is no money in the public purse but still, under
the guise of Indigenisation, the greedy fat cats continue to exploit every
loophole they can to enrich themselves even further. We hear this week that
the Police Commissioner has applied for a licence to mine diamonds. Shall we
now see the police mining diamonds at Chiadzwa while at the same time they
beat up and kill innocent villagers to prevent them from earning a living?
The Herald reported this week that the high court had approved the sale of
129.000 carats of diamonds though that report was subsequently denied by the
CEO of African Consolidated Resources. By contrast, the Minister of Mines,
Obert Mpofu, however, has made it absolutely clear that he has no intention
of abiding by the Kimberley Process ruling. "We are going to benefit from
our diamonds whether with the Kimberley Process or not." he said. When Mpofu
says that 'WE' are going to benefit he is certainly not talking about
ordinary Zimbabwean citizens. It is not the schools or hospitals who are
going to benefit from the diamond bonanza, it is the already rich fat cats
while the sick and the elderly die in abject poverty and the children are
denied a future. Zimbabweans are entitled to ask whether their politicians,
Zanu PF or MDC, really care about the people's welfare at all.
Tendayi Biti's recent trip to China in the company of Nicholas Goche in
search of a Chinese loan, suggests that Biti has fallen for Mugabe's 'Look
East' philosophy. Remembering that China's involvement in Africa has little
to do with the observance of human rights and democratic freedoms and more
to do with plundering Africa's resources, that is a worrying development
coming as it does from a prominent member of the Movement for Democratic
Yours in the (continuing) struggle PH. aka Pauline Henson author of Case
Closed published in Zimbabwe by Mambo Press, Going Home and Countdown,
political detective stories set in Zimbabwe and available from Lulu.com.