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State assets plundered

May 22, 2010 7:08 PM | By ZOLI MANGENA and STANLEY GAMA

State employees loot Reserve Bank through illegal auctions of public
property over unpaid debts

A syndicate of senior Zimbabwean government officials, including ministers
and top senior civil servants, is looting Reserve Bank assets through
illegal auctions of public property over unpaid debts.

This is revealed in Reserve Bank documents naming those who have been buying
the assets for next to nothing, at auctions which the Attorney-General's
Office this week described as ''unlawful".

Ministers currently under investigation over the issue, as well as senior
public officials, including Air Force of Zimbabwe commander Air Marshal
Perence Shiri, have been grabbing the properties at dubious auctions.

Shiri bought a Cam ambulance worth $30000 for only $3000 and a brand-new
Mazda T35 Swaraj bus, whose real value is $44000, for $12300. He also bought
a headboard for $50, although the real value is $100.

According to the documents, Shiri also bought a four-piece leather lounge
suite for $580 - the market value is $2500.

The looting of public assets through auctions came as the Comptroller and
Auditor-General unearthed shocking mismanagement and abuse of public
property at CMED (Pvt) Ltd, a state-owned company which provides and
operates transport hire services for government ministries and departments.
CMED provides top-of-the-range cars for ministers and other government VIPs.

According to the document, titled: Report of Comptroller and Auditor-General
on the Management of Government Vehicles, the corruption-ridden company is a
shambles and that has created room for rent-seeking behaviour, abuse of
public assets and even theft.

"I established that vehicle registers were not properly recorded and that
there was no master asset register. Therefore, I was not able to verify the
1200 vehicles which management stated was their total fleet," Comptroller
and Auditor-General Mildred Chisi said in her latest report.

"As a result of poor record-keeping, I was not able to trace the movement of
19 vehicles transferred from Head Office to Harare province.

''The 19 vehicles were also not recorded at the provincial office. I
observed that of the 68 Mahindra vehicles bought, 15 of them were issued
without proper procedures having been followed and one could hardly trace
them. This is open to abuse and could result in CMED losing vehicles."

The report said there was rampant chaos in the CMED departments of
acquisition and distribution, spares, repairs and stores management, and
also in the general running of the company.

While cars were disappearing without trace at CMED, Reserve Bank assets were
going for a song at illegal auctions.

The auctions, prompted by the Reserve Bank's failure to pay debts, and
sanctioned by the High Court, have been going on in Harare, Bulawayo, Gweru,
Mutare, Masvingo, Chinhoyi, Kariba and Nyanga.

The Attorney-General's Office said they were illegal, even if ordered by the

According to documents at hand most of the auctioned property consists of
buses, tractors, furniture and generators. Houses and expensive cars could
also go under the hammer.

The auctions were triggered by Farm-Tec, a company owned by Zanu-PF
officials, which supplied 60 tractors worth $2.1-million to the Reserve
Bank, which later failed to pay.

Lawyers at the Attorney-General's Office told The Sunday Times that the
auctions were "illegal". They said government should intervene to stop the

"We have been told that public assets are going for a song and we are aware
that a syndicate of top government officials is buying most of the stuff.
Actually, the Minister of Finance is supposed to take over the debts of the
Reserve Bank and budget for them," a senior lawyer said.

"The auctions are illegal and what is going on is criminal because
government assets are not executable. The debt does not belong to the bank
but to the state. It must be stopped because in the end the Ministry of
Finance will have to buy all that is being sold. It is government which is
being stripped of assets, not the bank," the lawyer said.

The Reserve Bank has a string of debts, including a $1-billion liability,
which has been taken over by the government.

The debts were incurred at the height of the economic meltdown and
quasi-fiscal operations which were blamed for hyperinflation.

However, certain debts have not been assumed by the state, hence the

Government insiders said Reserve Bank authorities had now appealed to
President Robert Mugabe and minister of finance Tendai Biti to intervene to
stop the plunder of public assets through auctions.

"Reserve Bank officials have appealed to Mugabe and Biti to intervene,
because, at this rate, most Reserve Bank assets could be auctioned to
well-connected politicians and their friends," a government insider said.

Asked for comment Biti said: "We have to come up with a Reserve Bank (Debt
Restructuring) Act and will probably create a curator or judicial manager so
that people can go there and prove a claim. There is also the State
Liabilities Act - that law should be extended to the Reserve Bank, because
we cannot allow stripping of public assets."

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Principals to meet

Saturday, 22 May 2010 13:21

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime
Minister Professor Arthur Mutambara are expected to meet next Friday for the
first time in more than six weeks since negotiators concluded talks.
Tsvangirai told the Zimbabwe Independent yesterday that the three political
principals would be meeting on May 28 to deliberate on the negotiators'
report before the South Africans can resume their mediation process.
"We are meeting on Friday, the 28th of May," said Tsvangirai without
The three principals have been criticised for delaying the implementation of
issues agreed upon.
Negotiators and President Jacob Zuma's facilitators are not happy with the
pace at which the principals are moving.
The negotiators have been talking since November 5 last year and when they
ended negotiations on April 3 they expected the principals to expeditiously
implement the latest issues agreed upon.
Negotiators in the talks include Patrick Chinamasa and Nicholas Goche for
Zanu PF, Tendai Biti and Elton Mangoma for the MDC-T, and Welshman Ncube and
Priscillah Misihairabwi-Mushonga for the MDC-M, while the South African
facilitators include Charles Nqakula, Mac Maharaj and Lindiwe Zulu.
One negotiator said two weeks ago that the process would significantly move
forward if the principals acted fast on implementation, leaving a few issues
to be dealt with.
The negotiators have agreed on a number of issues and they have written a
document on the implementation matrix, which was submitted as part of the
report given to the principals early last month.
The negotiators have agreed on the formula to share governors and what only
remains is who gets five appointees or four plus a ministerial position
between Zanu PF and MDC-T. The principals need to decide on that and agree
on when to swear them in.
They have also agreed on the issue of sanctions and the principals must
agree on a work plan to remove the sanctions.
The negotiators have agreed on media issues, including public-media reforms,
hate speech and bias in the media, external radio stations and land issues,
including the land audit and tenure systems.
There is also an agreement on cabinet and council of ministers, national
economic council, amendments to the Electoral Act, the role of NGOs, freedom
of assembly and association, and external interference.
The other issues that they need to deal with are national heroes, review and
re-allocation of ministerial mandates, the chairing of cabinet and the
position of the permanent secretary of Media, Information and Publicity
doubling up as the presidential spokesperson.

Faith Zaba


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Zanu PF embarrasses VP Nkomo

Saturday, 22 May 2010 20:39

VICE-President John Nkomo suffered a major embarrassment yesterday when Zanu
PF supporters publicly disobeyed him, leading to the abortion of a national
healing meeting that was supposed to be held in Harare.
In what some felt exposed the level of lawlessness among Zanu PF followers,
the party's supporters blocked the meeting from proceeding on the basis that
they could not be made to have equal representation with the two Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC) formations.

Each of the three governing parties was supposed to have 60 representatives
at the meeting.
There was chaos from the onset when more than 100 Zanu PF supporters made
their way into the Harare International Conference Centre.

Repeated attempts to prune their number down to the stipulated 60 hit a

Zanu PF supporters claimed the two MDCs were just different factions of the
same party, and should not be treated as two different parties.

The disruptive group protested that it was a deliberate attempt to outnumber
them in case there was some voting to be done.

Nkomo literally faced the Zanu PF music when his party's members broke into
song and dance.

They accused him of trying to sell out to the MDCs. They sung such songs as
"Zanu ndeyeropa (Zanu PF came through the shedding of blood)", and another
one which included the lyrics "Isu hatibve muno kusvika Gushungo vauya (We
will not leave this place unless Gushungo - President Robert Mugabe

Repeated attempts by senior officials, including Presidential Affairs
Minister Didymus Mutasa to bring the Zanu PF supporters to order fell on
deaf ears.

The other two Ministers of National Healing, Gibson Sibanda and Sekai
Holland just watched as the Zanu PF supporters got out of hand.

Addressing the noisy crowd, Nkomo could not hide his disappointment.

"If I cannot get any respect and any co-operation from you, as the
Vice-President of Zanu PF and the Vice-President of the country, then I can
only say I am disappointed," Nkomo said.

"If you are going to bring anything from outside, then there is no

"We will have therefore to re-arrange our approach to the whole thing. We
are on a mission given to us by the three principals of our parties. We will
do our job."

The meeting was supposed to end at 1230hrs, but three quarters of the time
that had been scheduled for deliberations was wasted trying to bring the
Zanu PF supporters to order.

"We hold party chairpersons in the province responsible for failure to
respond to our invitation in the manner we gave them," said Nkomo.

"Regrettably we cannot proceed because we cannot accede to any other
arrangement except the arrangements we had made ourselves (as the Organ).

"We have aborted our meeting for today, we will now sit down and plan our
next step."

Immediately after Nkomo had finished speaking and as the leaders of the
Organ were preparing to leave the venue, some Zanu PF supporters openly
threatened their MDC counterparts with violence.

This forced Nkomo to delay his departure by another two minutes, warning his
party's supporters that they would face the wrath of the law if they engaged
in violence.

"There are some here who are threatening others. In the GPA, those others
are entitled to be protected by the law," he said.

As they left the venue of the meeting, Zanu PF supporters vowed never to
allow the MDC formations to have equal representations with them.

"Havana kumbotibatsira kurwa hondo vanhu ava. Tichavarova zvakaipa Bhora
ngaripere (These people never helped us during the war. We will deal with
them after the World Cup)," vowed one elderly Zanu PF supporter, who also
looked unwell.


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Job Sikhala charged with insulting Mugabe

Saturday, 22 May 2010 20:37

FORMER St Mary's legislator Job Sikhala (pictured) who was arrested on
Friday for launching his MDC99 party without informing the police is now
facing additional charges of insulting President Robert Mugabe.
Sikhala is accused of breaching sections of the notorious Public Order and
Security Act (Posa) and will spend this weekend in custody at Harare Central
Police Station Law and Order section where new charges were preferred
against him.

His lawyer Tawanda Chakabva of Hwenda and Associates said Sikhala, who had
initially been released into his custody, was re-arrested yesterday on
another charge which he was not at liberty to reveal.

"Mr Sikhala was released into my custody yesterday and we were told to
report to Waterfalls police station," said Chakabva. "However, when we went
there the police took us to Harare Central Police Station's Law and Order
section where he is currently detained."

He said Sikhala was arrested together with the party's secretary for local
government and national housing Taurai Magaya and Aaron Muzungu, the
secretary for information and publicity.

Chakabva said the police searched Sikhala's Chitungwiza home. In a
statement, MDC99 said the officers said they were searching for weapons.

"The party wishes to inform you that armed police raided our president's
house in St Mary's this morning around 1am. They said they were looking for
arms of war kept there."

Police spokesperson Oliver Mandipaka referred all questions to Assistant
Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena who was not answering his mobile phone.

"Talk to Bvudzijena he is the one who was dealing with that particular
matter," said Mandipaka. "I don't have any information."

While launching his party earlier this month, Sikhala blasted the unity
government for allegedly failing to improve the welfare of ordinary people.
He said Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur
Mutambara were just lame duck politicians without any power in the coalition


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Angry Tsvangirai takes on Mugabe

Saturday, 22 May 2010 20:29

PRIME Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has written a strongly worded letter to
President Robert Mugabe warning him that he risks plunging the country into
a constitutional crisis following his unilateral appointment of three High
Court judges last week.

Sources said Tsvangirai's letter was delivered on Friday, a day after Mugabe
appointed controversial former Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) chairman,
George Chiweshe, the Judge President of the High Court.

Chiweshe's predecessor, Rita Makarau was elevated to the Supreme Court while
Nicholas Mathonsi, Andrew Mutema and Garainesu Mawadze were appointed to the
High Court bench.

The Prime Minister who only read about the appointments in the state
controlled Herald newspaper has demanded a meeting with Mugabe on his return
from South Korea.

The Standard two weeks ago broke the story of Chiweshe's impending

Tsvangirai left for a business  visit to the Asian country where he is
leading a delegation of businessmen and government ministers.

In his letter, the MDC- T leader who is under pressure to stop Mugabe's
continued disregard of the September 2008 power-sharing agreement that led
to the formation of the shaky coalition, reminds the ageing leader of the
dangers of violating the pact.

He made particular reference to Article 20.1.3 (p) of the constitution,
which says the president shall make key appointments required under and in
terms of the constitution in consultation with the Prime Minister.

"In short, we are faced with a political, legal and constitutional problem
that needs to be addressed," Tsvangirai wrote. "It is important that we meet
immediately on my return from South Africa to resolve this."

Mugabe and Tsvangirai who have not met in more than six weeks already have a
lot on their plate.  Zanu PF threatened the unity government on several
occasions with unilateral decisions and the appointment of the judges could
be the last straw.

They are now expected to meet this Friday to consider the report by
negotiators from their parties so that South African President Jacob Zuma
can take his mediation in the Zimbabwe crisis forward.

Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa was not answering his phone yesterday and
Media, Information and Publicity Minister Webster Shamu was unreachable on
his mobile phone.

His deputy, Jameson Timba said he was not aware that Tsvangirai had written
to Mugabe over the matter.

But a source said the PM might challenge the legality of the appointments on
the basis that they could plunge the country into a constitutional crisis.

"I am not privy to the nature, soundness or otherwise of the advice that the
Honourable Chinamasa gave or may not have given to the president," said the

"However, my simple reading of the constitution as amended tells me that
such appointments if they were done without securing the agreement of the
Prime Minister are not valid at law.

"The risk to the State is that any decisions made by the said judges are
likely to be set aside by a competent court."

Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change has condemned the appointments
and the party appears to be particularly irked by the choice for the new
Judge President.

Chiweshe has a dubious reputation after he presided over the inconclusive
March 2008 elections and the subsequent one-man presidential run-off, which
led to the formation of an inclusive government between Zanu PF and the two
MDC formations.

The MDC-T also claims Chiweshe "actively colluded in electoral malpractices
which cost no less than 500 lives and he proceeded to declare the election
as free and fair".


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75 cars held in RBZ probe

Saturday, 22 May 2010 20:23

THE Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) has stopped a Harare car dealer from
disposing of 75 cars as part of investigations into allegations that the
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe did not pay duty for imported cars.

Imperial Motors has been a regular supplier of cars to State House, RBZ, the
President's Office, the army, the police, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission
and other government departments.

The RBZ bought numerous cars as part of the central bank's quasi-fiscal
activities, which have since been stopped by the inclusive government.

Some of the unmarked vehicles were allegedly used in Zanu PF's terror
campaign, which MDC-T says left about 200 of its supporters dead and
displaced thousands others.

According to documents seen by The Standard, Zimra is now investigating all
the cars that were imported by RBZ through Imperial Motors, which also
trades as AJ Motorcentre in Harare.

In a letter written to RBZ Governor Gideon Gono (pictured) on Thursday last
week Imperial Motors chief executive officer, Ajit Patel said they had had
several visits by Zimra officials who had placed an embargo on 75 vehicles
imported by Imperial Motors.

"The ZIMRA officials have not given any reason as to why they have placed an
embargo on our vehicles but much of their research and audit is focused on
vehicles sold to the RBZ" read the letter.

"We have had many contracts with RBZ and these contracts are based on the
nature that Imperial Motors are only facilitating the RBZ purchases of
vehicles by carrying out the logistics and documentation for the vehicles,"

Patel said Zimra officials had also impounded their files and records.

"I have given all records as to my understanding that every transaction with
the RBZ is and was above board," he said.

"I suggest therefore Honourable Governor that Zimra approaches the RBZ
directly for any queries in regards to these imports as all documentation
has been handed over to your transport team.

"This will enable us to concentrate on our core business and be treated with
respect and not as mere criminals as our company has acted in good faith to
support our government."

RBZ governor Gideon Gono was not available for comment yesterday but a
senior official who requested anonymity confirmed the raids by Zimra.

"I can confirm we did receive reports of such raids but we are yet to
receive any formal communication from Zimra itself," he said.

"We stand ready to find out what really it is Zimra is looking for as it
would be unfortunate for many hours to be spending in unwilled witch-hunts,
which are non- productive.

"It is time that we focus more on finding solutions to current challenges
than seeking to find every possible excuse to incriminate one another where
there are absolutely no issues at all."

But Robson Mhandu, the Zimra spokesperson Robson Mhandu dismissed
allegations that the move was a witch-hunt targeting the RBZ governor.

"Those are just allegations and lies, Zimra only deals with clients who
import cars and check if they are meeting all the requirements and have paid
what is due to the Zimbabwean government," he said.

"We don't even check who the person is, if someone is importing things he
should pay regardless of how big the person is."

RBZ property worth millions of dollars has been auctioned by creditors over
the past months after the central bank failed to service overdue debts.


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Chombo risks lawsuit

Saturday, 22 May 2010 19:37

BULAWAYO - The city council has resolved to press contempt of court charges
against Local Government, Urban and Rural Development Minister Ignatius
Chombo if he carries out his threats to unilaterally swear-in special
interest councillors.
In 2008, the local authority sought the intervention of the High Court after
Chombo appointed eight special interest councillors, most of them losing
Zanu PF candidates in the previous election.

The case is still pending in the courts.

Those affected are former Zanu PF  councillors Tadubana Tshuma, Omega
Sibanda, Emmanuel Kanjoma, David Ndlovu, Abednigo Nyathi, Tryphine Nhliziyo
and Dennis Ndlovu  as well as businessmen Ernest Marima  and Omega Sibanda.

Last week, Chombo threatened to go ahead with the appointments despite the
court case.

He claimed that his ministry was mandated by the Urban Councils Act to
appoint the councillors to provide expertise to the city councillors
especially considering that a majority of them were serving their first

But deputy mayor, Amen Mpofu on Thursday said the minister who has been
accused of trying to dilute MDC-T controlled councils by appointing the
special interest councilors risked being dragged to court.

"There is no way we are going to allow Chombo to impose his special interest
councillors on the Bulawayo council," Mpofu said.

"We have resolved to file contempt of court charges against him.

"Chombo wants to dilute the MDC led council with Zanu PF appointees. It is
known to everyone that the council does not have money and where will money
to pay the councillors come from."

The Bulawayo council is dominated by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's MDC
which has 23 councilors. Six are from the MDC led by Deputy Prime Minister
Arthur Mutambara.

According to the Urban Councils Act, the appointed councilors are entitled
to participate in the business of the council and perform the same functions
as elected councillors.

They are also entitled to the same benefits but do not vote at council

Chombo told The Standard that government will continue with the installation
of special interest councillors despite efforts by some local authorities to
oppose the move.

Chombo is set to appoint the special interest councillors in all the country's
local authorities in line with section 4A of the Urban Councils Act which
was amended in January 2008.



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Broke GMB can’t pay farmers

Saturday, 22 May 2010 19:33

THE loss-making Grain Marketing Board (GMB) has no money to pay farmers who
delivered their produce during the just-ended season further dampening hopes
for a good winter cropping season, a senior official said last week.
The parastatal is also working on modalities to cut down its workforce in a
desperate bid to stay afloat.
Appearing before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Agriculture,
Water, Lands and Resettlement on Tuesday GMB acting general manager Zvidzai
Makwenda said the parastatal was waiting for money from Treasury to enable
it to pay the farmers.

Makwenda also admitted that seed and fertiliser stocks at GMB depots
countrywide were not enough for the crucial winter cropping season.

“We are still waiting for money from the Ministry of Finance,” said
Makwenda. “At the moment, we do not have the money to pay farmers.”

He told the committee that the parastatal was experiencing serious financial
problems and plans were afoot to retrench over half of its workforce.

“We are having serious financial problems and we are planning to cut our
staff by about 50%,” he said.
Committee chairperson and MP for Chikomba Central Moses Jiri said they would
recommend to the Ministry of Finance that money to pay farmers is released

“As a committee, we will just recommend to the Ministry of Finance to ensure
that this problem is sorted out,” said Jiri. “Otherwise we will have a
disastrous winter season because of poor planning.”
Muzarabani South MP Edward Raradza (Zanu PF) castigated the GMB for allowing
government officials to mislead the public into believing that the
parastatal had inputs when its depots were empty.

“You should come out clearly that you don’t have money. We heard on radio
and read in newspapers that farmers can now get their money from GMB but you
don’t have the money,” said Raradza.
The shortage of seed and fertiliser will have serious implications on the
winter wheat cropping season said Raradza.

The committee had summoned the GMB officials to give evidence regarding the
US$2,7 million owed to the parastatal by the Food Reserve Agency of Zambia
for maize exported to that country in 1998.
“The US$2,7 million that is outstanding is very important for the
organisation in terms of funding for our activities,” said Makwenda.

The debt has also sucked in Attorney General Johannes Tomana who was
supposed to give evidence to the Committee but failed to turn up for the
third time round.

The debt was referred to the two countries’ attorney generals because the
GMB was facing problems recovering the money.

The committee threatened to take stern action against Tomana for failing to
appear before it.
But on Friday Jiri said they had summoned the AG for the fourth time and he
was expected to appear before the MPs at the beginning of next month.

The Zambians are insisting they paid for the maize in full.


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I’m not finished yet says Makoni

Saturday, 22 May 2010 19:05

SIMBA Makoni’s savvy presidential campaign two years ago injected life into
Zimbabwe’s sometimes dull and dangerous politics.
For many years a senior member of Zanu PF, Makoni challenged his long time
mentor Robert Mugabe and the opposition politician at the time and now Prime
Minister Morgan Tsvangirai in the eventful March 2008 presidential

Despite garnering 8,3% of the vote, Makoni was driven to the periphery of
local politics thanks to Zimbabwe’s winner-takes-all electoral system.

Variously described as a moderniser and technocrat, some believed Makoni’s
disappearance from the political scene was a big loss to the country’s
transition being led by the three parties in the inclusive government namely
Zanu PF, MDC-T and MDC-M.

But last week The Standard caught up with the former Finance minister and
the jovial politician believes he is not completely off the radar.

In an interview at the Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn (MKD) party headquarters, where
he spends half of his working day, Makoni exhibited the same energy he
showed when he took to the campaign trail on February 5  2008, catching the
nation’s imagination with his team of volunteers.

“I would like to see MKD playing a bigger role in our national politics than
we are doing right now but we are busy growing the structures of the party,”
he said.

“We have interim structures, which will help us bring people to the party
and we have been having an uneven development with some provinces doing
better than others.

“Since February 2008, I have been dividing my time between my business and
MKD and that is my commitment to the party, so do other members of the
interim executive and our team of volunteers.”

He says once the structures are in place, the party would hold its inaugural
congress that would see the election of a substantive leadership probably
before the end of the year.

When MKD was transformed into a fully fledged party in July last year, it
had given itself nine months to organise the inaugural congress but Makoni
admits it was an ambitious undertaking.

On April 23, the party dispatched 10 000 membership cards to the 10
provinces and the interim president said he was waiting for the returns to
gauge its support countrywide.

But he is under no illusions about the impact the decision to sever ties
with Dumiso Dabengwa, the only Zanu PF politburo member to back his
presidential bid, had on the establishment of the party.

Dabengwa left MKD to revive Zapu, which is also emerging to be the strongest
opposition to the ruling parties.

“There is no doubt that Dumiso and others who left were key leaders in the
movement,” Makoni said. “I believe there are no fundamental issues that can
stop us from cooperating in future because their yearning for a better
Zimbabwe is also ours.”

Makoni also says he has overcome the problems that arose after some members
tried to dislodge him from the leadership of MKD accusing him of abuse of

He said the party was now better placed to push through the agenda, which it
believes is unavoidable if efforts to stabilise and rebuild Zimbabwe are to

The MKD priorities are the promotion of national reconciliation and healing,
restoration of civil liberties and the restoration of the economic and
social viability of Zimbabwe.

“We are taking advantage of the constitution-making process to recommend
that there should be proportional representation and the granting of the
right to vote for Zimbabweans out of the country. . . dual citizenship etc,”
he said.

The party also wants the bi-cameral parliamentary system done away with
because it is “wasteful and has not given the country any value.”

Makoni is one of the politicians who had rejected the idea of a coalition
government. He advocated for what he called a Transitional Authority — that
would have led to fresh elections.

But on hindsight, he now believes the government of national unity was the
lesser of the two evils even though he thinks it is not being led by the
right people.

The former Southern African Development Community executive secretary says
the principals in the unity government — Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime
Minister Arthur Mutambara — have become too comfortable such that they have
forgotten the urgent need to transform the country.

“They have not done anything for the people but a lot for themselves,”
Makoni said. “As Mugabe and Tsvangirai spend thousands of dollars on foreign
trips and expensive hotels, in my conversations with Zimbabweans of all
walks of life I appreciate that people are struggling.

“The economy continues to shrink, people are losing jobs and those who still
have jobs are earning very little.

“The new government has been given more than enough time to restore the
economy and they have failed.”

The mild-mannered politician believes the failure boils down to
“incompetence and unwillingness” to serve the people.

He said the few positive developments that the inclusive government has
claimed credit for such as the dollarisation of the economy and the reversal
of hyper-inflation were not as a result of any policies of the new

Zimbabweans had already dollarised the economy in 2007 before Mugabe’s
previous administration formally abandoned the local currency.

However, he still believes Mugabe cannot shoulder the responsibility of
destroying the country alone.

For example, Makoni believes if the so-called technocrats Mugabe brought to
his cabinet after the 2000 elections had lived up to expectations, Zimbabwe’s
destruction would not have been to such levels.

The technocrats included Makoni himself, Jonathan Moyo, July Moyo, Nkosana
Moyo and Joseph Made.

Appointed Minister of Finance, the 60-year-old politician left two years
later after Mugabe refused to take his advice to devalue the Zimbabwe

Makoni believes that was the time Mugabe stopped listening to advice from
the “right” people.

Asked about his political ambitions, he doesn’t hide the fact that he wants
another shot at the presidency of the country because he is convinced that
if he had abandoned Zanu PF earlier, the results of the March 2008
presidential poll would have been different.


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Zapu congress pencilled in for August

Saturday, 22 May 2010 19:03

THE long-awaited Zapu national congress, where interim chairman Dumiso
Dabengwa is set to be confirmed as the substantive leader is now set for
August, the party said last week.
Initially pencilled in for last December, the congress was shelved because
of financial problems and later by the need to make way for the new
constitution-making process.

But following a party meeting in Masvingo last week, a final decision was
made that the congress would be held in August but the venue and date are
yet to be finalised.

Insiders said the venue would be a toss between Bulawayo and Mashonaland

Zapu spokesman, Methuseli Moyo told The Standard that the two provinces had
been given the task of arranging logistics for the congress and a decision
would be based on which of the two would be better prepared.

"The meeting resolved that the two provinces should inform the party
leadership of their preparations by next week," he said. "It is only when
these preparations have been unveiled that the national leadership of the
party would be in a position to know which of the two provinces would host
the congress."

The two provinces are expected to provide details on accommodation,
transport, food, and other provisions.

Moyo said the congress would elect a new leadership for the party.

On Dabengwa's candidature, Moyo said it was up to party members to nominate
the former Zanu PF politburo member.

"Zapu follows its constitution. In the case of Dabengwa, the constitution
says those nominated by party members will contest in the election.

"The onus is on party members to choose whether they still want him or not.

"If they want to have him back, they will nominate him and he will contest
with any other candidate if there are other nominations," he said.

Zapu broke away from Zanu PF last year ending a 22-year-old marriage marked
by mistrust and squabbles.


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Mushonga estate dispute: gender activists join the fray

Saturday, 22 May 2010 19:00

STORIES of bitter squabbles between widows and their in-laws over property
left behind by deceased spouses are very common in Zimbabwe.
But still the battle for the late orthopaedic surgeon Chris Mushonga's
estate continues to grab the headlines. Mushonga died last year from
injuries sustained during an armed robbery at his Mt Pleasant home.

Since then his widow, Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga, the minister of
Regional Integration and International Co-operation has fought pitched
battles in courts with her step children and in-laws over his estate.

Claims of theft and forgery flew around, before Misihairabwi-Mushonga last
week officially gave up the fight for the estate citing harassment by state
agents and the Mushonga family.

"I would prefer to become just another statistic of a victim of society that
unfortunately has failed not only to protect me, but to provide protection
to a majority of widows that must face this abuse every day," she told
journalists on Tuesday.

With that announcement, the minister had voluntarily surrendered her rights
to her late husband's multi-million dollar estate and now has to start from

Her decision has, re-ignited debate on how Zimbabwe's "dual legal" system,
which recognises both common and customary laws continues to fail widows.

Women in customary marriages are not usually entitled to the same rights as
those married under common law, and are often barred from inheriting
property and land, or getting custody of their children.

This has led to many fierce legal battles over inheritance of land, homes
and marital property. Many widows have shown an interest in
Misihairabwi-Mushonga's case because she is a senior government official and
an ardent feminist.

The question now being asked is: If the minister could not stand the heat
what chances do ordinary women have?

Beatrice Mtetwa, world-renowned human rights lawyer, bemoaned
Misihairabwi-Mushonga's quick surrender. "It's a tragedy for all Zimbabwean
women that she has given up the fight so easily," Mtetwa said.

"She is a powerful woman who every female in her predicament looked up to.
Now all women will say, 'if such powerful women lose such cases, what about
they, the poor and unknown'."

Mtetwa said Misihairabwi-Mushonga was not the only powerful woman in that
predicament, saying the late national hero Josiah Tungamirai's widow Pamela
was homeless after being chucked out of the matrimonial home.

Mavis Madaure, director of the Zimbabwe Women's Bureau said the case showed
that more needed to be done to raise awareness on the rights of widows.

"Maybe she had been getting threats," Madaure said. "But that was not a good
decision. She made it because of pressure and she needs our support.

"It's time for women to stand up for our rights and claim what belongs to

However, critics accuse women's groups of folding their hands while
Misihairabwi-Mushonga fought a lone battle.

None of the organisations that claim to have an interest in the protection
of women's rights fought in her corner or offered solidarity messages.

Women and Law in Southern Africa director Sylivia Chirau said they were
quiet because they assumed that the minister was going to win her case.

"We assumed everything was going to be okay because the law was on her side.
We did not know that this was going to happen; she was not supposed to give
up," said Chirau.

She said they had expected the minister to win her case easily because she
was an "empowered woman".

"I can understand the decision, but it was a bad decision, she is someone
who is powerful and empowered," said Chirau. "She should have stood up for
her rights."

Netty Musanhi, the Msasa Project director admitted women had let down a
fellow activist.

"We agree we didn't do our part. We still have a lot of work to do," she
said adding that Misihairabwi-Mushonga was just like any other woman who
should have stood up for her rights.

"A woman is just a woman, it does not matter whether you are a minister or
ordinary woman, Priscilla should not have given up.

"Unlike other women she had resources to fight her case."

Musanhi said they were planning a meeting with other women organisations to
discuss the matter.

But Eddington Mhonda, the programme coordinator of Padare/Enkundleni - an
anti-sexist men's organisation - said the minister should be respected for
the decision she took.

"It's her right to do that. She knows the content of the will, and maybe she
wanted peace of mind," Mhonda said.

However, he encouraged men to write wills to avoid family feuds when they

"In-laws are not allowed to fight for things left behind but to avoid this,
whatever type of marriage, there should be a current will which is not
emotional but objective," said Mhonda.

Misihairabwi-Mushonga also accused the police of bias in the way they
handled the dispute.

Police spokesperson Chief Superintendent Oliver Mandipaka said the police
were not officially involved in the case.

"Our position is very clear: that matter is before the courts. It's a civil
matter and the police have nothing to do with it unless we are directed by
the courts to take action," Mandipaka said.

Widows married under customary law enjoy some protection when their husbands
die without leaving a will, but they remain at the mercy of greedy in-laws.


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Ngozi: primitive superstition or reality?

Saturday, 22 May 2010 18:59

REPORTS about avenging spirits that are terrorising a Zanu PF terror militia
in Buhera have sparked a fierce debate about the existence of ngozi in
African communities.
In bars, kombis, homes and workplaces, several Zimbabweans last week
reflected on the subject that has set tongues wagging in Buhera.
In Harare, the rumour mill was awash with reports suggesting a prominent war
veteran was among those who had been hard hit by ngozi.
The former freedom fighter who cannot be named for fear of criminal
defamation, is said to be distributing cheap "zhing zhong" sandals to
villagers in Buhera as a way of appeasing those affected by a violent
campaign he led for Zanu PF during the run up to the March 2008 elections.
While in Buhera, the behaviour of fear-stricken militia provides glaring
evidence for all doubting Thomases, outside this rural enclave ngozi remains
a subject of conjecture.
Many people who do not believe in the existence of avenging spirits were
last week wondering whether it was possible for the spirits of the dead to
haunt the living.
Uppermost in their minds was the question: Does ngozi exist and if it does,
why can't all the people who were murdered on a daily basis haunt their
Determined to find some explanation to this African conundrum, The Standard
sought expert opinion on the subject from leading academics and
They all agreed that ngozi not only existed but was an integral part of the
African justice system.
Professor Gordon Chavhunduka said he remained baffled by avenging spirits.
"I have seen a number of people affected by ngozi but we still don't know
what really happens," said Chavhunduka.
However University of Zimbabwe lecturer Vimbai Chivaura said ngozi was
simply a crime. "Haven't you heard people say, usatiparire ngozi. Ngozi
imhosva inoda kuripwa. (Ngozi is a crime that demands restitution)
He said "prime ngozi" arose when innocent blood was shed.
"If you kill a person you will have terminated all the plans for that
"Even if no one knows that you have done so, you have to acknowledge the
crime and pay reparations."
Chivaura said ngozi was not confined only to Africans. He said the white
colonialists were also affected by avenging spirits.
"Taking the land away from Africans might not have attracted ngozi as such,
but the way they killed Africans who were the owners of that land was a big
"Remember Mbuya Nehanda promised that mapfupa angu achamuka (my bones shall
rise). Aren't the whites paying now?
"The whites we are fighting today are paying for the crimes of their
ancestors. Ndiyo ngozi yavari kuripa iyoyo."
Chivaura said when human beings die, their souls would be separated from
their body. "That soul will torment those who committed crimes," said
For the "nuts and bolts of ngozi", Chivaura referred The Standard to
Augustine Tirivangani of Mustard Vision Consultancy and Services who has
finalised a PhD thesis on ngozi.
Titled Towards a theory of Africa centred metaphysics - a critical
exploration of the Ngozi theme in selected Zimbabwe fiction, his academic
work could break new ground in the understanding of the world of ngozi.
Through his research Tirivangani was able to classify ngozi into five
l Archetypal ngozi
This is ngozi which is directly related to the shedding of blood.
l Marital ngozi
This involves the breach of a marriage contract and happens when a woman
commits suicide in her husband's home.
l Transactional ngozi
This relates to credits. For example during the past a man could work for
years in the hope that he would be given a wife (kutema ugariri). His spirit
could haunt the family if he was then denied his wife after completing the
work at hand.
l Political ngozi
This happened in the case of the liberation struggle where territorial
spirits inspired freedom fighters to fight the colonialists.
l Ethical ngozi
This happens when children abuse their mother. When she dies, they will have
to pay for their crimes (Kutanda botso).
Tirivangani said ngozi had been distorted by the Christian values and
colonialism to the extent that people thought that it was "an evil, bad
"The idea of the ngozi is not to punish but to build bridges," he said.
"The key value of Africans is peace. If someone pays for the ngozi, they
would have restored the peace in the community."
Leading historian, Pathisa Nyathi said ngozi was a reality for Africans.
He said it did not only affect Mashonaland where it was more prevalent
because people were more spiritual, but also occurred in Ndebele
"We have a name for it uzimu. Probably the only difference is in the way it
expresses itself in Mashonaland. There, the spirit of the deceased takes
direct possession of a medium and speaks through the medium," he said.
"In Matabeleland, death will result around family, until the perpetrator
realises that he or she has to pay for the crime."
Nyathi said ngozi was an African way of ensuring social justice.
"Among the white community if you kill a person you spend your life in jail
or you hang.
"But in African communities ngozi was a way of forcing people to conform to
good behaviour. A mistake by one family member would affect the rest.
Remember before the whites came, we did not have jails."
Nyathi was however quick to caution that it was not automatic that one would
be affected by ngozi if he killed a person.
"Ngozi is not in-born. It doesn't happen automatically. Certain things have
to happen for it to take place," he said.
Sosana Mhongoyo, the mother of the late Tedious Chokuda whose spirit
allegedly forced Patrick Basopo to pay restitution, told The Standard she
had all along been "praying" for the killers to be exposed.
But Nyathi says families normally do more than that to ensure that the
deceased avenges.
"The family has to resurrect the spirit of the deceased. They can do this by
performing rituals on the corpse before burial or they can carry them out on
the grave. Medicine is involved."
"Others make sure that family members can also always avenge for their
murders buy putting medicine through incisions (nyora) on their bodies when
they are still alive."
The historian said where people did not use medicine there would be no
"If that was not the case we would have ngozi everywhere."
Nyathi said he personally knew of a case where a Manicaland family sprayed
the blood of their deceased relative who had been run over by a car. "The
ngozi is happening right now. Unfortunately, I can't name names."


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After Murambatsvina: shattered dreams and broken promises

Saturday, 22 May 2010 18:58

AN imposing poster, written "Behind the fist" showing an up-side-down
picture of a fist-waving President Robert Mugabe, partially obscures a
dilapidated two-roomed shack as if hiding the sorry state of the structure.
In smaller print the white banner, which is turning brownish with dust, is
inscribed "Unity, Peace and Development".
Ironically, the occupants of this house have neither enjoyed peace nor
development for the past five years.
In fact, the poster's up-side-down state literally sums up the type of life
that Mary Chipfiko (37) is living at Caledonia Farm, less than one kilometre
outside Harare's Tafara high- density suburb.
"I don't think we are going to get any decent accommodation any time soon,"
said Chipfiko.
"I have lost hope and their (government) promises of hope have turned into
misery and anguish."
Windows in her shack are covered with black plastic sheets and pieces of
Chipfiko is one of the victims of the government-sponsored Operation
Murambatsvina (Take away the filth) of 2005 which, according to United
Nations estimates, uprooted over 700 000 households throughout the country,
After widespread condemnation of the operation, the government embarked on a
re-housing programme code-named Operation Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle that was
aimed at providing shelter for the victims.
However, the project is a dismal failure and government now appears to have
abandoned it.
Still determined to have a roof over their heads, some desperate Caledonia
residents have formed housing co-operatives under Harare East Housing
Co-operative Society Union.
At least 30 are registered under the union and each member pays a monthly
instalment ranging from $10 to $30 depending on the co-operative they belong
Some of the co-operatives were named after senior Zanu PF officials such as
Zvenhamo, RG Mugabe, Nathan Shamuyarira and Phenias Chihota.
Other names like Jongwe, Dzimba Dzedu Tega, Panyanga and Kushanda Nesimba
seem to be statements of intent.
"We have been paying for years now but there is virtually no progress," said
Agatha Mashegede (31) a mother of three and a member of Ray Kaukonde Housing
"No one is prepared to help us."
Across town at Hopley Farm, some 15 km outside Harare, about 5 000 families
still live in shacks. There is neither adequate clean drinking water nor
proper sanitation.
Only two boreholes are functioning forcing residents to fetch drinking water
from shallow and unprotected wells, filled with wriggling worms and
Toilets and bathrooms are a short distance away from the wells.
"We are surviving by the grace of God," lamented Rosemary Ndawana, a
34-year-old mother of three. "We know some effluent might be seeping into
this well but we have no choice."
Most of the structures built countrywide remain incomplete and some of the
stands parcelled out to the victims have never been serviced.
Some of the shacks are already collapsing endangering the lives of
Other families have built pit-latrines but most residents prefer to use the
so-called "bush system" fearing that the rickety toilet structures could
collapse while they are inside.
At Hopley, the sick queue for long hours to get medication at the only
mobile clinic.
Health promoter Eunah Maruta, who works at a local mobile clinic, says
scores of people die of HIV/Aids related diseases at the farm every week.
Dysentery, tuberculosis, diarrhoea and sexually transmitted diseases such
syphilis are common at Hopley where 90% of the residents are extremely poor,
said Maruta.
"We are worried because of the number of sexually transmitted infection
(STI) cases that are being treated at the local clinic. Some of the infected
are as young as 15 years," she says.
According to Maruta, some children as young as 10 were already sexually
active because most of them do not go to school and spend their time
indulging in delinquent activities.
Apart from that, teenage girls share bedrooms with their brothers, cousins
and other relatives due to the accommodation crisis.
Hopley Residents Association chairwoman Felistus Chinyuku said the
government had failed victims of Operation Murambatsvina.
Chinyuku is a former chairperson of the Porta Farm Residents' Association, a
settlement of about 10 000 people that was destroyed by the government
despite several court orders barring the authorities from carrying out
"Five years have passed and many of us are still living in tents," said
Chinyuku who now stays at Hopley Farm. "There are no schools, no health
services and very little sanitation. This is no way for humans to live."
Chinyuku bemoaned the uncertain future of children at the compound, which
has virtually turned into a squatter camp, where vices such as prostitution,
rape and muggings are rampant.
"The future of our children is at stake," said Chinyuku. "They don't go to
school and they spend most of their time engaged in all sorts of immoral
Touched by the plight of the children Samson Kazembe (34), an undertaker,
has started a "school" at the farm to cater for the children who are not
attending formal schools.
The pupils do not have books, pencils or uniforms.
The forced evictions drove people not only from their homes, but also from
their market stalls, depriving informal traders of their means of
Women have been especially affected since they form the majority of informal
market traders and in many cases are the primary providers, not only for
their own children but also for other children orphaned by the Aids
Residents of Hopley said cases of rape go unreported because victims feared
victimisation, especially if the perpetrators have close links with Zanu PF
officials residing in the compound.
Many poor women have been raped while young girls are abused by the "haves"
of Hopley for food - some just for a loaf of bread.
Many of the residents are bitter that government appears to have abandoned
Maxwell Joe (31) secretary of the residents association said they were
informed by officials from the Ministry of Local Government late last year
that government was no longer able to build houses for them.
Equally bitter is Sharon Mapako of Whitecliff in Harare who would be a proud
owner of a decent house today had the government lived up to its promises.
For the past five years, she has been living in a small bathroom with her
three children.
The house, which was allocated to her under the controversial Operation
Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle, is now occupied by David Muchirahondo, who claims his
mother Victoria is the legal owner. The dispute with Muchirahondo has
spilled to the courts.
Mapako was among 1 200 residents at Tongogora Housing Co-operative whose
houses were demolished during the infamous operation.
Years after their names were splashed in newspapers by government confirming
that they had been allocated housing stands, they are still without
Dumisani Moyo, the chairperson of Tongogara Development Trust, said houses
that were allocated to victims of Operation Murambatsvina have been taken
over by a few that are connected to politicians and officials from the
ministry of housing.
As a result a number of clashes have been recorded between the current
occupants of the houses and people who call themselves legitimate owners of
houses at Whitecliff.
Last week human rights groups - Amnesty International Zimbabwe and the
Coalition Against Evictions - said the government must take action to
protect hundreds of thousands of people left to survive in substandard
settlements five years after the evictions.
The watchdogs called on government to provide alternative accommodation or
compensation to those left homeless and jobless.
"It is a scandal that five years on, victims are left to survive in plastic
shacks without basic essential services," said Amnesty International
Zimbabwe's director Cousin Zilala.
"The needs of these victims are at risk of being forgotten because their
voices are consistently ignored."
Most of them have been driven deeper into poverty by the evictions which
were compounded by Zimbabwe's economic crisis.


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HIV researchers congregate in the US

Saturday, 22 May 2010 18:34

ZIMBABWEAN researchers will this week join experts from the rest of the
world searching for more effective HIV prevention methods at the
International Microbicides Conference in Pittsburgh, United States.

The conference that opens today is one of the biggest gatherings bringing
together researchers in a forum to share experiences and new trends on HIV
Mike Chirenje, the executive director of the University of Zimbabwe and
University of California - San Francisco (UZ-USCF) said the bi-annual indaba
was a chance to evaluate progress made in finding new HIV prevention methods
in the past few years.
UZ-USCF is a collaborative research in women's health funded by the National
Institute of Health in the US.
Last year the initiative released results of its microbicide trials that
sought to establish the effectiveness of two gels in reducing HIV infection
in women when applied before sex.
One of the microbicide gels under study known as pro-2000 was found to
reduce HIV infection in women by at least 30%.
One of the researchers who will also be attending the Pittsburgh conference
Nyaradzo Mgodi said although this was a breakthrough, it was not enough to
ensure  the gel was registered for use.
But it would help guide other studies in future, she said.
The UZ-USCF has several research networks that include the Microbicides
Trials Network (MTN).
"As statistics show, the burden of the disease in women is very, very high,"
Mgodi said.
"If you look at other proven methods of preventing HIV, for example condoms,
you find that most women find it difficult to negotiate for condom use
because of the gender disparities, this is a culture in which the man is the
dominant partner.
"So what we would like to do as researchers is to develop a chemical in
which a woman can use without having to depend on a man to protect herself
from HIV infection.
"So this is what has guided research into microbicides; to help women get
past these gender disparities."
Another research being conducted by the UZ-UCSF is the Vaginal and Oral
Interventions to Control the Epidemic (Voice) that aims to find female
controlled preventive measures.
At least 600 women are taking part in clinical trials to establish if the
same antiretroviral drugs (ARV) used to prolong the lives of people infected
with HIV can protect women from being infected.
The study began last year and will run over a three-year period.
Women participants who are HIV negative and are between the ages of 18-35
will be asked to either apply a vaginal microbicide gel containing an ARV or
take an oral ARV tablet daily.
The ARV drugs Tenofivor and Truvada will be used during the study.
"At the end of the study researchers would want to establish whether or not
this pre-exposure prophylaxis will reduce the women's chances of acquiring
HIV," Mgodi said.
According to the United Nations Joint Programme (UNAIDS), at least 60% of
adults living with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa are women.
In Zimbabwe, 54% of the 1.2 million HIV positive adults are women.
HIV and Aids activists say women are more vulnerable to acquire the
infection than men largely because of cultural reasons.
The virus was first detected in Zimbabwe in 1985.


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Vapositori in climb-down over immunisation

Saturday, 22 May 2010 18:25

MEMBERS of different apostolic sects, popularly known as Vapostori on
Thursday made a major climb-down on their rigid position regarding
immunisation, and assured the government and the donor community that they
would now allow their children to be immunised against child killer

Since the outbreak of measles a few months ago, pressure has been piling on
Vapostori over their reluctance to have their children vaccinated against
killer diseases, citing religious grounds.
Government has also had nightmares dealing particularly with members of
Johanne Marange in Manicaland.
The World Health Organisation says more than 384 children have succumbed to
measles and 6 813 cases recorded since an outbreak was first detected in the
country towards the end of last year.
Most of the deaths were recorded in Manicaland, where children were not
At the Thursday meeting, the general feeling among the majority of
participants was that members of Johanne Marange would stick to their guns
and refuse to immunise their children.
"As a church we do not bar anyone from carrying out immunisation programmes.
"Our policy is that once a child is immunised, he or she is released from
the church.
"There are clear procedures that have to be followed for that child to be
absolved and be readmitted to the church," said an elderly leader of Johanne
Marange church.
Some of the Vapostori even carried some tablets to prove that they have now
A number of their leaders quoted various biblical verses they said actually
support the role of hospitals and such life-saving practices like
Tsungai Ruse, a leader of the Runyararo Apostolic sect said while they may
initially have had justifiable reasons for not having their children
immunised, they were prepared to learn how they can do this within the
confines of their beliefs.
"We are here because we want to learn. As a church, we believe that the Holy
Spirit is manifested in the water we would have prayed for, including salt
and sugar solution," said Ruse.
While there is still widespread belief that Vapostori do not want anything
to do with immunisation, one Madzibaba Tagwi from Zviratidzo Zvevapostori
said they had long moved from that position.
"Most of us as Vapostori have moved from that position where we used to
refuse to participate in immunisation programmes.
"We want to know from our fellow Vapostori why they still do not want to
take part in immunisation," said Tagwi.
The conference brought together 500 representatives of different apostolic
sects, traditional and political leaders to discuss child health issues.
Particular focus was on the recent measles outbreak that claimed more than
384 lives, mostly among the apostolic sects.
In an earlier statement, the United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef) said
the conference was meant to help members of the apostolic sects to
appreciate the importance of preventing diseases through immunisation.
Some participants at the meeting however said the admission by the apostolic
leaders did not necessarily mean the end of the resistance to immunisation.
They said the resistance had become very deep rooted among members of the
Johanne Marange sect in particular.
"It is one of the things that define them as a church, and I doubt if they
will endorse what their leaders have just said," one of the participants
Addressing the meeting, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said after the
admission by the church leaders that they had changed their position on
immunisation, the challenge was now to address individual members of the
"After hearing even those from Marange saying they support immunisation, I
am not sure whether our problem is still with the church leadership or it is
now at our homes, at individual level," said Tsvangirai, in Shona.
Tsvangirai challenged Vapostori to raise their concerns through proper
channels without being confrontational.
"Dialogue is the only way of solving the people's problems," said
He urged them to raise their concerns during the constitutional outreach.
Unicef country representative Peter Salama and deputy health minister
Douglas Mombeshora said the cooperation of Vapostori was important in
freeing hundreds of children from measles.


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Cash boost for tourism industry

Saturday, 22 May 2010 18:13

ZIMBABWE'S tourism industry is set for a major facelift following
indications the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) is processing
requests for loans amounting to over US$30 million from local operators.
The funds will be used to revive the country's tourism sector which
experienced a decade of neglect during the long-running economic and
political crisis.
They will also be used for long-term refurbishment programmes as local banks
are offering capital on a short-term basis due to the liquidity crunch.
Gift Simwaka, Afreximbank's manager for Southern Africa told
Standardbusiness: "We have funding facilities in excess of US$30 million
that are at various stages of consideration in the tourism sector."
Beneficiaries from the Afreximbank's purse include both established and
small operators who want to refurbish their operations so that they can be
competitive in the region.
Rainbow Tourism Group has already benefited from the funding facility after
securing a US$7,5 million loan.
The loan will go towards refurbishing RTG's flagship hotel, Rainbow Towers
in Harare.
The seven-year loan attracts an interest of 8,5% per annum.
Long-term funding has been missing on the local market and tourism players
begged stakeholders at a summit in February to fund their programmes.
In the absence of local funding, regional development finance institutions
have become the best bet for operators.
In March, African Sun Limited secured  US$10 million offshore financing from
the Industrial Development Corporation, a South African-owned development
financial institution.
Walter Mzembi, the Tourism and Hospitality Industry minister believes the
availability of long-term capital shows that funders have confidence in the
He said after the February summit, local operators had been talking to
potential funders. "We (government) create the platform for industry to
borrow because they have capacity to repay the loans," Mzembi said.
Zimbabwe is perceived as a high risk country by investors due to the
unfavourable political climate as the three parties in the inclusive
government continue to quarrel over  the implementation of their power
sharing deal signed in 2008.
The gazetting of the empowerment regulations has further increased the
country's risk profile.
But Afreximbank has stood behind Zimbabwe providing the sovereign guarantee
on investors interested in putting their money on Zimbabwe.
Despite the guarantee, investors are giving Zimbabwe a wide berth.
Simwaka said the full impact of the sovereign will be felt in the future.
"While it is difficult to state whether products such as country guarantees
are paying dividends, it is true to say that when viewed from periods of
severe economic distress that the country experienced during the last
decade, such guarantee products aid the recovery prospects and their full
impact will be cumulative over the coming period," he said.
"It is also worth noting that once full investor confidence building is
attained, investment flows will not even seek such tools to enter the
country's economy."


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Zim woman at world gathering

Saturday, 22 May 2010 18:09

FARAYI Mangwende, the African Sun Limited (ASL) group corporate
communications manager, was recently selected to take part in a global women
mentoring progamme where she rubbed shoulders with some of the world's top
business and political gurus.
The Fortune/US State Department Global Women's Mentoring Partnership brought
together 33 women leaders from the world for a one month mentorship
It ended on Friday having started on April 25.
The programme opened with a three-day orientation session in Washington DC,
where the participants met with senior women in government, academia, and
They included Maria Otero, the Under Secretary of State for Democracy and
Global Affairs, Rose Gottemoeller, Assistant Secretary of State for
Verification, Compliance and Implementation, Anne-Marie Slaughter, Director
of Policy Planning and Melanne Verveer, Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's
The second phase of the programme paired each of the international
participants with one or more of Fortune's Most Powerful Women Leaders drawn
from the Fortune top 50 companies such as Time Inc., Google, Inc., Wal-Mart
Stores, Inc., Dow Chemical Company and Exxon Mobil Corporation.
For three weeks, American and international participants worked together in
mentoring relationships and shared the skills and experiences necessary for
strengthening women's leadership.
The programme concluded with a two-day debriefing in New York City, where
participants attend workshops on media and communications strategies and met
with senior executives from New York-based companies.


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Zim firms for Ghana business indaba

Saturday, 22 May 2010 18:05

AT least 50 Zimbabwean companies have confirmed participation at a business
forum in Ghana next week as local companies aim to get a slice of Ghana's
projected US$18 billion import bill this year.
The Zimbabwe-Ghana Business Forum and Exhibition, runs from May 31 to June 6
at Accra International Conference Centre.
Ghana's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is estimated to hit the US$38 billion
mark while imports are forecast to be around US$17 billion to US$18 billion
this year.
Tendai Shomwe, the vice-chairperson of the Zimbabwe International Business
Forum told Standardbusiness that the forum would provide a platform through
which business deals could be negotiated and sealed.
The Zimbabwe International Business Forum is registering local companies and
business executives interested in exploring the Ghanaian market, Shomwe
"Over 50 companies have confirmed participation while in Ghana over 400
companies are waiting to meet and explore business opportunities with their
Zimbabwean counterparts," Shomwe said.
The forum has a business exhibition, a cultural day and a golf tournament
where business executives can tee off while discussing business deals.
It started in 2007 as Ghana-Zimbabwe and the Ghanaians requested that it
should be a public-private sector partnership.
The Zimbabwean Embassy in Accra was mandated to rope in the local private
sector in the forum.
Subsequent to the Accra meeting, a local chapter, Zimbabwe-Ghana Business
Forum was established.
Shomwe said at various meetings, it was recommended that energies should not
be focused on Ghana alone hence the formation last month of the Zimbabwe
International Business Forum to spearhead ventures on the continent.
His said his organisation had engaged other government bodies such as the
Zimbabwe Investment Authority and ZimTrade.
Private sector organisations - Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries,
Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce and Chamber of Mines - have offered
their support, he said.
With a population of 24 million, Ghana is the world's second largest cocoa
producer and its economy is forecast to grow by between nine and 10% over
the next five years driven by oil revenue.
Ghana is set to begin producing its first crude oil for export in the fourth
quarter of this year with initial production estimated at 120 000 barrels a
Oil revenue is pegged at US$1 billion for 2011 and 2012 and will account for
about 15% of total revenue by 2015, according to research analysts.


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Comment: Govt has responsibility for Murambatsvina victims

Saturday, 22 May 2010 18:55

THIS month five years ago President Robert Mugabe's previous administration
embarked on the brutal Operation Murambatsvina (clean out the filth)
demolishing homes and informal markets in cities and towns across the
country rendering thousands of people homeless and without a source of
The campaign was inconsiderate and indiscriminate in that children, the
sick, the elderly, pregnant women and newborn babies were turned out of
their homes into the chilly winter of May 2005.
Those suffering from HIV/Aids were forced to give up their treatment because
of their relocation. Many died as a result. They were condemned to death by
their own government.
The United Nations (UN) estimated that over 700 000 people were left
homeless or without a source of livelihood.
After an international outcry, the government launched Operation
Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle that was ostensibly meant to provide shelter to all
those that were affected by the inhumane operation.
But five years later Mugabe's reconstruction project has virtually been
abandoned. There is no political will to assist the victims of Operation
It is important to note that the few people that managed to get shelter
under this programme are mainly Mugabe's supporters with close links to
senior officials in Zanu PF. Most of them were not directly affected by
A proper national audit should be carried out to determine whether the real
victims of this operation benefited from Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle. Those that
got houses undeservedly must be kicked out.
A drive around the settlements of Hopley, Whitecliff and Caledonia farms
outside Harare clearly shows that those evicted are now worse off than they
were before bulldozers and caterpillars flattened their houses. Most of them
still live in shacks without clean water and other ablution facilities.
Children have dropped out of school.
They cannot afford basic health care after their sources of livelihood were
abruptly terminated.
The evictions drove people not only from their homes, but also from their
market stalls, depriving informal traders of their means of earning a
The flop of the Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle project clearly shows that those in
power never thought long and hard before launching the operation. Operation
Murambatsvina achieved the opposite of the publicly stated objective -
restoring order.
It resulted in overcrowding in poor neighbourhoods with as many as three
families sharing a four-roomed house exposing occupants to contagious
There is an urgent need to address this problem before it gets out of hand.
There is need to reinstate the sources of livelihood that were destroyed,
pushing unemployment to over 80%.
Most disturbing is the deafening silence of the inclusive government on
which most of the victims had pinned their hope for a better future.
Since its creation in February 2009 the unity government has done nothing to
lessen the plight of survivors of the forced evictions and their children.
The government must take action to protect hundreds of thousands of people
left to survive in substandard settlements five years after the programme of
mass forced evictions.
It is clear that Mugabe and Zanu PF want victims of Operation Murambatsvina
to remain in this state of perpetual poverty and hopelessness. In that
state, they remain a captive electorate ready to be abused during election
time when they will be commandeered to polling stations to once again
endorse Mugabe.
Those that try to resist and exercise their democratic right to vote for a
candidate of their choice will be booted out of the settlements.
It is against this background that we believe the call by Amnesty
International Zimbabwe and Campaign Against Forced Evictions to seek an
urgent solution to this crisis is commendable. The organisations are calling
for payment of compensation to all the affected people.
They have since petitioned the government to acknowledge responsibility for
displacing people and to take action to protect hundreds of thousands of
people abandoned to survive in substandard settlements.
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has pledged to set up an inter-ministerial
committee comprising relevant ministries and departments which will craft a
response to victims and survivors of forced evictions to be discussed and
endorsed by Cabinet. This must be done as a matter of urgency.
Tsvangirai should not shy away from cleaning up Mugabe's mess. In fact, it
is the decent thing to do.

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Sundayopinion: Organ on national healing a farce

Saturday, 22 May 2010 18:53

THE Organ on National Healing, Reconciliation and Integration is a mere
politicking tool by the parties in government or does not have the will and
capacity to achieve its mandate as enunciated in Article VII of the Global
Political Agreement (GPA). The Organ exists only on paper and is meant to
create a false impression that government is committed to dealing with the
scourge of politically-linked human rights violations committed by various
persons in the past.
The recently reported outbreak of violence in parts of Bikita and Mwenezi in
Masvingo province as well as Muzarabani is credible evidence to the fact
that government is not serious about achieving national healing, and points
to the fact that there are those in government who are bent on protecting
perpetrators of past political violence and perpetuating the culture of
impunity that has for long sustained some in political office.
However the reported incidents are just the tip of the iceberg. It is true
that since the formation of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in
1999, Zanu PF has used violence as a lethal weapon to sustain its continued
stranglehold in power as its popularity took a dip at the turn of the
Elections since 2000 have meant bloodshed as Zanu PF has used coercion
through its functionaries who include the war veterans, youth militias
(mostly from the National Youth Training Service Programme) and state
security institutions such as the police, army and the Central Intelligence
Organisation (CIO) to force people to vote for it.
Such violence reached a crescendo in the one-man presidential election
run-off of June 27 2008 when over 500 people were reportedly murdered in the
run-up to the election.
It was only after the intervention of the regional and international
community that talks were held which eventually led to the formation of the
inclusive government. The inclusive government through Article VII of the
GPA has committed itself to addressing this scourge of political violence
that dates back to pre-independence times. This it has proposed to do
through the Organ on National Healing, Reconciliation and Integration.
However, despite rhetoric to the contrary, politically-linked violence is on
the rise especially in the rural areas. In most of the cases, it is being
spawned by erstwhile victims of violence who are taking the law into their
own hands and punishing those who were responsible for perpetrating violence
during the bloody elections of June 2008.
All this is because such victims have reported their case to the police who
in turn have done nothing to bring known perpetrators of violence to book.
They continue to walk scot-free and at times are even benefitting from state
resources, ostensibly for 'defending the ballot' through the murderous
campaign that retained Robert Mugabe on June 27 2008.
It is surprising that the police are now quick to intervene in the new
skirmishes despite having on their books cases that were reported as far
back as 2008 when those aligned to Zanu PF went on a rampage terrorizing
those that were perceived to be supporting the MDC.
The Youth Forum takes this opportunity to call on the government to take the
issue of national healing, reconciliation and integration seriously as it
underpins any progression towards a democratic Zimbabwe.
The tokenish approach being applied by the Organ  will not help heal the
wounds of the many survivors of past state-sanctioned human rights
violations. We reiterate that any national healing initiative should be
community-driven, holistically encompassing the views of both victims and
perpetrators. Our position still remains that any national healing process
should be premised on the following four basic pillars:
n Truth-telling and apologies.
n Healing the wounds of survivors.
n Reparations for those who lost property, sources of livelihoods and
n  Restorative justice (taking into cognisance issues of the chain of
command that masterminded and perpetrated the rights violations).
We also implore the government to learn and take a leaf from our African
neighbours who have successfully gone through such processes as this may
help to inform the process that best suits our Zimbabwean context.


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Editor's Desk: Region sliding back to its autocratic past

Saturday, 22 May 2010 18:48

IS southern Africa making a U-turn as far as human rights are concerned?
The winds of change blew across the continent in the 1990s toppling the
moribund strongman leadership that had steered their countries' ships of
state since the beginning of decolonisation in the late 1950s.

In southern Africa the first to fall was probably Zambia's Kenneth Kaunda in
1991 after having ruled since 1964.

Haunted by economic troubles, there was increasing international pressure
upon him to bring more democracy to his country. This forced him to change
the rules that had kept him in power.

With the change of rules Kaunda faced open criticism in which his competence
was scrutinised.

It is said former Tanzanian president and close friend Julius Nyerere who
had stepped down from the presidency of Tanzania in 1985 was quietly
encouraging Kaunda to step down.

Pressure for a return to multiparty politics increased and Kaunda
voluntarily yielded and called for multiparty elections in 1991, in which he
was defeated by the Movement for Multiparty Democracy.

In Malawi Kamuzu Banda's one-party state crumbled after a 1993 referendum.
Soon after the plebiscite a special assembly stripped him of his title of
President for Life, along with most of his powers.

He also lost the financial support of the British government. The Queen, who
had been particularly close to him, also withdrew her support.

His health was failing towards the end of his reign and in the first
democratic election in Malawi in 1994 he was defeated by Bakili Muluzi.

Zaire's Mobutu Sese Seko was overthrown by the Banyamulenge a rag-tag
guerrilla outfit led by Laurent-Déesiré Kabila supported by the governments
of Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda in May 1997.

In the same period Botswana consolidated its democratic culture.

Botswana has, since independence in 1966 without fail followed the
constitutional provision of regular elections after five years. Analysts say
the democratic process has become more than just a ritual, but is an
integral part of the political culture.

The end of apartheid in South Africa that came with the democratic elections
of 1994 which saw Nelson Mandela become the first black president of the
republic must have marked the highest point in the democratisation of the
region. But it seems it was also a turning point.

Only two countries in the region - Zimbabwe and Namibia - remained stuck in
history with their respective liberation movements Zanu PF and Swapo
entrenching their rule by becoming increasingly more autocratic.

Zanu PF has been in power for 30 years and has superintended the destruction
of an economy that was once the envy of the continent. Swapo is following
suit holding sham elections in the 20 years it has been in power.

Zanu PF's staying power threatens to turn back the hands of time. The new
leaders in the region are beginning to look to Zimbabwean President Mugabe
for guidance.

Zambia's Zimbabwean-born president Rupiah Banda is a great admirer of Africa's
longest ruling leader. Ever since being sent by former president the late
Levy Mwanawasa to mend fences after Mwanawasa had criticised Mugabe, Banda
has moved closer and closer to Mugabe.

Back home in Zambia he is working closely with former president Fredrick
Chiluba who has been accused of corruption.

In Malawi President Bingu wa Mutharika is a great admirer of Mugabe risking
the withdrawal of Western financial support by naming the Midima Road after

The construction of the road was funded by the European Union whose opinion
of Mugabe is well known. The move was criticised by civic groups in Malawi
and Western countries but Bingu disdainfully refused to reverse his decision
instead inviting the Zimbabwean strongman to officially commission it.

Recently we have heard that Bingu has reversed some of the decisions that
had been made by Muluzi soon after defeating Banda.

One of these was that all institutions named after Kamuzu Banda be renamed.
Bingu has instructed that this decision be reversed. So the name Kamuzu
Banda will soon be seen everywhere again as it used to be.

What does this mean? It means Bingu is re-inventing Kamuzu's personality

According to Wikipedia, "Banda was the subject of a very pervasive cult of
personality which kept him in power.

Every business building was required to have an official picture of Banda
hanging on the wall, and no poster, clock or picture could be higher than
his picture.

Before every movie, a video of Banda waving to the people was shown while
the anthem played. When Banda visited a city, a contingent of women were
expected to greet him at the airport and dance for him. A special cloth,
bearing the president's picture, was the required attire for these

Churches had to be government sanctioned. All movies shown in theatres were
first viewed by the Malawi Censorship Board and edited for content.

Videotapes had to be sent to the Censorship Board to be viewed by censors.
Once edited, the movie was given a sticker stating that it was now suitable
for viewing, and sent back to the owner.

Items to be sold in bookstores were also edited. The press and radio were
tightly controlled, and mainly served as outlets for government propaganda.
Television was banned."

What is scarier about what Bingu is up to is that he is also creating his
own personality cult. Recently he ordered the national flag be altered to
reflect the change he had brought to Malawi. He says because he personifies
the new Malawi that should be reflected in a new flag.

He has also made moves to change the constitution so that his present term
of office is extended by two years. According to the constitution a
president can only rule for two five-year terms.

Presently Malawi is back in the news for all the wrong reasons. Recently a
gay couple was sentenced to 14 years in prison with hard labour simply for
expressing publicly their preferred way of life.

There has been a world outcry which threatens to scuttle the little economic
progress the country had made in the past few years. Malawi is one of the
poorest countries in Africa and depends hugely on financial aid from western

The new British government has protested, so has the United States and the
European Union.

It's tragic that southern Africa is moving backward as far as human rights
are concerned. South Africa which had become something of a role model is
regressing with the ruling ANC looking northward for guidance. Zimbabwe
which should have informed Malawi on the treatment of gays has been
notorious, particularly in the last decade, in violating human rights.

The only beacon of hope remains Botswana but it is too heavily outnumbered.
Also the strength of its ruling party which has won successive elections
since independence in 1966 could be its Achilles heel.


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Sundayview: Circumcision campaign and Russian roulette

Saturday, 22 May 2010 18:46

RUSSIAN roulette is a dangerous game in which one shoots at one's own head
with a gun containing a single bullet in its chambers, and takes a chance on
whether it fires or not.
Governments in Africa have recently embarked on a vigorous campaign
advocating male circumcision through public initiatives  by both
governmental and non-governmental organisations. Huge billboards with
pointed messages encouraging circumcision, have been erected everywhere.
Similar advertisements in both the print and electronic media are being
played quite frequently.
This was occasioned by recent studies that concluded that male circumcision
can reduce the "chances" of contracting STIs particularly HIV/AIDS by around
60%. That is a very significant statistic because it means that a
uncircumcised male is roughly three times more likely to contract an STI
than a circumcised male if both are engaged in unprotected sex with infected
partners. I don't think these numbers make any sense to most people because
I've heard some wild predications and conjectures on the streets regarding
these findings.
Only those that are quite literate in mathematics can make sense of this
chance and probability stuff and of these only those that are wise can
understand the implications of these statistics on their sexual behaviours.
It would be quite interesting to know how these empirical studies were
carried out and how the conclusions were reached.
Granted, there are some provable and significant benefits of male
circumcision but they are not the motivation of the governments' campaign.
Not least, it is self-evidently more hygienic and it also does indeed reduce
the probability (my emphasis) of getting infected by STIs just as much as
wearing a seat belt in your car reduces your chances of getting killed in a
collision with a train.
Many African traditions require circumcision of young males as a rite of
passage  to maturity although the intentions and methods of initiation are
very questionable. Western governments also encourage circumcision of their
males at a young age. Perchance it could be one of the reasons why they have
lower rates of infection in their societies. Jews are also obliged to get
circumcised as part of the requirements of the Mosaic ceremonial laws.
Coming to the current thrust by African governments, there is very
inadequate education on the pros and cons of male circumcision. There is a
great danger that African governments could be taking one step forward and
two steps backward. As virtuous as it is to encourage male circumcision, if
it is not coupled with good education especially on the inherent health
benefits, it will be ineffective. Many people on the streets have a
dangerous perception about circumcision vis-á-vis its preventative
capabilities regarding HIV. Many now hold certitudes that circumcision is a
scientifically proven effective barrier to the virus.
The chance and probability statistics upon which the campaign is premised
have clearly made no sense to many people. To many men, it is a vindication
to get circumcised and then lose all worries about getting infected
regardless of sexual behaviour. It is a clear licence to go out and indulge
one's lust with a scientifically cleared conscience. As historically
self-imposing creatures of instinct and sexual impulse, some men were not
very happy with having to change their promiscuous sexual habits due to the
risks posed by HIV/AIDS. Because of the ostensibly proven effectiveness of
circumcision, they can now literally have their cake and eat it too.
Some traditionalists have found a conceited justification for extolling and
asserting the superiority of their own cultural traditions that have long
advocated circumcision. That erroneous mentality about the effectiveness of
circumcision is spreading cancerously especially among people who were
already sceptical of artificial barrier methods like condoms. Some of those
embracing it are also being influenced by fables about how circumcised
 "Zulu" men do not get infected by HIV. South African President Jacob Zuma's
publicised sexual exploits and HIV status have done quite a bit in fuelling
that fire.


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Zim cricket to be re-invented

The return of former players a big boost for the sport
May 22, 2010 7:46 PM | By Tristan Holme

The winds of change have swept through Zimbabwe cricket this year, but the
next three weeks will begin to reveal just how barren or bounteous the
landscape is.

Former cricketers from Zimbabwe's good years, boasting some of the best
cricketing minds the country has produced, have returned in droves recently
to occupy key positions within the coaching and selection structure. Yet
they have done so in the knowledge that they will be building the game up
from rock bottom under the same administrators who spent the last decade
running it into the ground.

Much like the opposition political parties, who have joined a unity
government with Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF in a bid to resurrect an ailing
country, so the former cricketers have decided to put aside their
differences and work under Zimbabwe Cricket president Peter Chingoka for the
good of the game. Such a strong desire for change has created a tangible air
of optimism.

"I noticed that when I came over for the interview, which coincided with the
end of the Twenty20 competition (in February)," says new coach Alan Butcher,
who played one Test for England in 1979. "The positivity that I encountered
then in terms of Zimbabwe cricket moving forward, but also the country
moving forward, was obvious, and it's one of the reasons why I didn't have
to think hard about taking the job.

"It seemed like everyone was really willing to try and make things work and
I'm still feeling that now so it wasn't just a fleeting impression."

India and Sri Lanka arrive in Zimbabwe this week for a tri-series - the
first time the country has played host to a top-eight nation since Sri Lanka
achieved a 5-0 whitewash in 2008.

Although the Asian sides are leaving their best players at home for a tour
which is largely payback for Chingoka's continuing support towards the Asian
Bloc on the ICC Board, Zimbabwe will still go in as underdogs. While the
absence of the likes of Sachin Tendulkar is a disappointment, Butcher can
see potential benefits of playing against second-string sides.

"Let's face it, we've got to move forward in small steps," he says. "So if
we can give a good account of ourselves against these sides, and hopefully
get a couple of wins, that will give us confidence to move on and challenge
the first teams in a stronger way when we next have the opportunity to do

Of most concern will be a dearth of fast bowlers - leading to an
over-reliance on an admittedly healthy spin department - and the batsmen's
inability to bat out 50 overs in three of their five one-day internationals
during the March tour of West Indies.

Adding to the fresh feeling is a new captain in Elton Chigumbura, a genuine
matchwinner with bat and ball who has taken over from Prosper Utseya.

While those under his charge could hardly be blamed for a slow pace of
development in years gone by, Chigumbura's first task will be to instill a
''no excuses" culture in a young side that is due to show signs of real
progress. -

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