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Officials loot diamonds to buy private jets

Sunday, 27 May 2012 11:03


FINANCE minister, Tendai Biti, has accused a small coterie of powerful
Zimbabweans of looting diamonds from Marange, enabling themselves to splash
millions of dollars on private jets while ordinary people wallowed in abject

Addressing delegates at a diamond workshop in Harare last week, Biti said
the officials were not afraid of flaunting their ill-gotten riches.
“There is no doubt that a small coterie of individuals is benefitting from
Zimbabwe diamonds. Some of us (officials) who are benefiting, are not afraid
to flaunt our monies. We are buying all kinds of assets,” said Biti.

“I am a government minister and earning US$800. How do I buy some of the
assets that we are buying? People are now buying private jets because of our

Biti made similar remarks last week while addressing delegates at the Open
Society Forum Conference on corruption and politics in Cape Town, South
Africa, where he accused President Robert Mugabe of allowing his cronies in
Zanu PF to plunder diamonds in Marange fields in return for their continued
political support.

But the former ruling party has denied the allegations.
Biti, who is MDC-T secretary general, likened the level of corruption in
diamond dealings in Zimbabwe to that of the Democratic Republic of Congo
during Mobuto Sese Seko’s era.

He said the country was now behaving like a monarch or colonial governments
which used to dish out licences and other privileges without considering
issues to do with accountability and transparency.

“You see what I would call predatory accumulation; we see it in the likes of
Mobuto Sese Seko, Félix Houphouët-Boigny (Côte d’Ivoire), and Siad Bare
(Somalia),” he said.

Biti’s remarks, which are likely to create a storm in the inclusive
government, come at a time diamonds have been underperforming in terms of
revenue contribution to Treasury.

Diamond revenue is expected to contribute US$600 million to the national
Zanu PF spokesperson, Rugare Gumbo, dismissed allegations that Mugabe’s
cronies were looting diamonds. He challenged the finance minister to bring
forward evidence of the corruption. “Biti should come clean,” said Gumbo.
“He must not just speculate. If he has evidence, I challenge him to name the
Zanu PF officials benefiting from Marange diamonds.”

Biti’s remarks, the first by a cabinet minister, confirm the allegations
raised by civil society organisations that senior civil servants have been
amassing wealth from the gems.

Civil society organisations have been advocating for transparency in the
mining and selling of Marange diamonds under the “Publish what you pay”
campaign, to force companies to be transparent. They said government had to
be open on the shareholders of the diamond mines, amid allegations that
soldiers were mining in Marange.

Biti proposed far-reaching reforms that include the removal of diamonds from
the wings of Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC), to a new
entity.  He said, once that was in place, the country would be able to
negotiate for the removal of economic sanctions imposed by the United States
on Mbada and Marange Resources last year.

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Generals can meddle in politics: Chinamasa

Sunday, 27 May 2012 10:57


JUSTICE and Legal Affairs minister, Patrick Chinamasa, has come out in
defence of partisan army generals saying they have a right to meddle in
politics by virtue of having fought for the liberation of the country.

In an interview just before the departure of visiting UN High Commissioner
for Human Rights, Navanethem Pillay on Friday, Chinamasa said, by making
political statements, generals were merely pointing out the way they wanted
the country to be ruled.

“The army people were liberators and you cannot deny them the voice to keep
this country on course, so that there is justification for those who died
for the country and those who lie in unmarked graves,” he said.

Chinamasa claimed that the political statements by generals were meant to
serve as a warning that returning the country to colonialism and opposition
to the land reform programme were unacceptable.

“Their colleagues died so that we could control our own resources,” he
 said.” They died for political independence and sovereignty of the country,
so anything that is going to diminish what they fought for, the army should
have a voice and unashamedly so.”

Chinamasa said the generals were only going to respect those leaders who
espoused the founding principles of the country.
He dismissed calls for the generals to resign and join full time politics,
insisting that their behaviour should not in any way be labelled meddling,
but a right to decide the future of the country by virtue of having brought
freedom to Zimbabwe.

Chinamasa made his comments just after Pillay had finished a press
conference, where she expressed concern at the role of the military in
politics, including a recent statement by a senior army officer, suggesting
the army should throw its weight behind one political party.

“For any country to be called a democracy, its army must observe strict
political neutrality.” She said. “As the GPA clearly says, state organs and
institutions do not belong to any political party and should be impartial in
the discharge of their duties.”

About three weeks ago, Zimbabwe Defence Forces Chief of Staff, Major General
Martin Chedondo, stirred a storm when he said soldiers must be involved in
national politics in order to remain “loyal and defend the nation’s
territorial integrity and interests”.

Last year, Brigadier-General Douglas Nyikayaramba, also declared that no one
would rule Zimbabwe without any revolutionary credentials, insinuating that
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai of MDC would not be allowed to become
President even if he won elections.

Nyikayaramba, who has since been promoted to the post of Major-General, was
repeating a similar statement by service chiefs, who a few years ago vowed
that they would not salute anyone without liberation war credentials, even
if that person won elections.

The MDC-T MP for Mbizo, Settlement Chikwinya, has since moved a motion in
parliament to declare partisan utterances by the securocrats treasonous.
Zanu PF is fiercely resisting calls for security sector reforms, as the
party was benefiting from partisan military and other security agents, who
were in 2008 accused of gross violation of human rights. They violently
campaigned for President Robert Mugabe’s re-election during a bloody

Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), also told Pillay during her visit that
there was a need to reform the security sector in order to avoid a repeat of
the bloody June 2008 run-off.

In their submissions to Pillay, the CSOs said although stipulated in the
GPA, the police, military and intelligence services remain largely, if not
completely, unreformed and unrepentant.

“The military has become increasingly vocal in supporting one political
party and threatening unconstitutional action in the event that its favoured
political party candidate is not elected, whether the election is free or
not,” said the CSO’s.

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MDC-T accuses army of biased recruitment

Sunday, 27 May 2012 11:14

MDC-T has accused the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) of bias in its current
recruitment exercise where it is allegedly targeting children of serving and
retired soldiers, war veterans and ex-political detainees.

Party spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora said the current recruitment drive,
which does not require academic qualifications, was being done clandestinely
to accommodate Zanu PF youth militia.

He claimed that some army officials were working in cahoots with Zanu PF
members to enable them to identify those who are politically correct,
meaning those who support the former ruling party.

Mwonzora said the partisan recruitment was evident in most rural areas but
most pronounced in Manicaland province. “The recruitment drive is not above
board. It is done clandestinely to Zanu PF members only,” alleged Mwonzora.
“It will compromise the professional integrity of the Zimbabwe Defence
Forces (ZDF).”

The MDC-T has described the exercise as part of preparations for an
onslaught by the security sector on all those who do not support Zanu PF
ahead of elections this year or in 2013.

“This is an ominous indication of preparation for massive violence that is
going to be unleashed against the people of Zimbabwe,” said Mwonzora.
“But the recruitment has also taken a new interesting twist with children
whose parents are aligned to one faction of Zanu PF also being denied the
chance to join the army here in Manicaland.”

Zanu PF factionalism raised its ugly head in Manicaland during the party
district co-ordinating committee (DCC) elections recently resulting in the
nullification of results in some areas.

ZNA spokesperson Colonel Alphios Makotore dismissed MDC-T’s allegations
insisting that the recruitment exercise was above board. “There is nothing
like that. It’s not true,” said Makotore. “We are a professional army that
does not look at such trivial issues.”

Speaking on the sideline of an army training exercise in Mutoko recently,
Major General Martin Chedondo said the army had changed recruitment policy
so that it can also take on board disadvantaged members of the society.

He said it was a directive that every army intake was going to recruit
potential soldiers from every village in all the country’s provinces.
Chedondo said previously the army used to receive complaints from people who
were failing to join the army due to strict recruitment rules.

Recruitment must be on merit: Muchauraya

MDC-T Manicaland spokesperson Pishai Muchauraya said the recruitment should
be based on merit and fitness so that the country can boast of a
professional and capable army.

“How can they recruit people who cannot read a map or temperature?” asked
Muchauraya. “This is a recipe for disaster.” The army has been accused of
propping President Robert Mugabe in previous elections. The MDC-T has said
at least 200 of its supporters were murdered by Zanu PF supporters and
security agents during the violent 2008 elections in an effort to keep
Mugabe in power.

The security sector has denied the allegations.

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Zimbabwe offers to pay off Malawi debt with fuel

Sunday, 27 May 2012 11:16

ZIMBABWE has proposed to pay its US$23 million debt to Malawi in fuel, a
move that could see Zimbabweans facing fuel shortages. New Malawian
President Joyce Banda sent a delegation to Zimbabwe, which returned to the
country on Thursday, with news that the country would receive fuel for a
corresponding value.

“The Zimbabwe government has agreed to give us fuel and very soon they will
dispatch trucks,” Malawi Energy and Mining minister, Cassim Chilumpa told
Malawi media. “We have accepted this arrangement because currently we are in
need of the fuel.”

The Malawian delegation, which came to the country last week, was expected
to collect US$12 million, while the rest was expected to be settled later,
but the fuel barter deal, means Zimbabwe might not have been able to raise
the money.

Repeated efforts to get a comment from the Minister of Energy Elton Mangoma
were fruitless as his mobile phone went unanswered.
Finance minister Tendai Biti was said to be out of the country.

The debt dates back to 2007 when Zimbabwe, in the throes of an economic and
political meltdown, was failing to produce enough food to feed the nation.

Malawi is now also facing a cash crunch after western countries withdrew
balance of payments support, with the country facing biting fuel shortages.
The country has been scrounging around for fuel supplies and the latest deal
may represent a breakthrough for them, as in April Malawi had to depend on
Mozambique and Zambia for fuel, while this month they went to South Africa.

Zimbabwe is expected to provide fuel for next month. The late Malawian
President Bingu wa Mutharika also came to Zimbabwe in February, seeking the
money and also how to solve the fuel problems the country was facing and the
barter deal seems to be the best for the two countries.

However, it was not immediately clear how Zimbabwe was going to provide the
fuel without affecting domestic consumption, considering that the country is
also a net importer.

Players in the industry have suggested that maybe the country would export
the blended E10 fuel, which has faced resistance on the Zimbabwean market.

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Politicians hijack drought relief grain

Sunday, 27 May 2012 11:28

MUTARE — Grain intended to benefit hunger-stricken villagers of Mutare
district in Manicaland province, has been hijacked by Zanu PF officials, who
are selling it on the black market for personal benefit.
The province has been plagued by acute food shortages, following a poor
farming season that saw farmers, most of them resettled under the land
reform programme, failing to harvest anything from their fields.

The government reacted by introducing a grain loan scheme, meant to militate
against hunger under which the starving households would pay back the grain
after harvesting.

According to statistics obtained from the provincial administrator’s office,
about 250 000 families now need urgent food aid in Manicaland. The Mutare
District administrator, Simon Sigauke, last week confirmed that grain meant
for the ongoing grain loan scheme had ran out before the intended
beneficiaries had received their monthly allocations.

He could not say who was diverting the grain. “Villagers in the district are
concerned by the rate at which grain is being delivered at GMB depots, from
where it is accessed by the hungry people,” said Sigauke.

“My office has been besieged by needy people, who come to enquire when the
next delivery would be made for their benefit. Each household is receiving a
50 kg bag of maize per delivery. This was not enough for those households
with bigger family members.” he explained.

He said there was urgent need for government to ensure that more grain was
secured in time before people starved, as the majority of them did not
harvest any grain.

Sources said corruption was rising, with allegations that some Zanu PF
officials working in cahoots with some Agritex workers, were diverting
truckloads full of grain onto the black market. They would then sell the
grain at exorbitant prices to ready buyers and then share the proceeds.

The Minister of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development,
Joseph Made, recently condemned the corruption and said his ministry was
ready to weed out such malpractices.

“We are ready to weed out such unscrupulous people. I am aware that the
issue of distributing grain is being politicised,” said Made.

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Zanu PF will ignore UN advice: analysts

Sunday, 27 May 2012 11:31

ZANU PF is unlikely to implement most of the recommendations by the United
Nations Human Rights Commissioner, Navanethem Pillay, because doing so would
weaken the party’s hold on political power, analysts said last week.

If the party does institute any of the reforms, the analysts believe they
would be cosmetic and not adequate for the holding of free and fair
Zimbabwe has witnessed gross violation of human rights, including murder and
torture dating back to the pre-independence era.

But it came as a surprise that government, accused of being the chief
perpetrator of the violations, had invited Pillay for a five-day
fact-finding mission last week.

Justice and Legal Affairs minister, Patrick Chinamasa, said the government
invited her to prove that the country had nothing to hide. Political
analyst, Dewa Mavhinga said the visit would keep the international spotlight
on urgently-needed reforms such as a new constitution, confirmed in a
referendum followed by credible, non-violent, free and fair elections.

He said it was likely that her recommendation for the operationalisation of
the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC), whose mandate focuses only on
present and future abuses, would be acceptable to Zanu PF. The party has
made it clear it does not want past violations to be investigated.
However, Mavhinga fears that the party would not change much as a result of
the visit.

He said the party would instead attempt to twist and manipulate Pillay’s
words, especially her call for the suspension of sanctions until elections
and reforms outcomes were clear, to make it look like an affirmation that
there were  no human rights abuses in Zimbabwe.

“Zanu PF is likely to continue with its push for elections this year in the
absence of credible reforms,” he said. “The party will undoubtedly refuse to
amend the various pieces of draconian legislation that Pillay has pointed
for urgent repeal. Whatever changes we are likely to see will be cosmetic
rather than fundamental.”

Mavhinga said Pillay’s recommendation for securocrats to observe strict
political neutrality would be ignored by the extremely partisan and
politicised leadership of the military.

Media freedom activist, Gift Mambipiri said Pillay’s remarks confirmed that
freedom of expression was a fundamental human right which the Government of
National Unity was trampling upon.

“We acknowledge her good reading that the Broadcasting Authority and the
Zimbabwe Media Commission fixation with control and emasculating the media
is retrogressive and has no place in modern society,” he said.

Mambipiri said the call to repeal the Access to Information and Protection
of Privacy Act (AIPPA) and Broadcasting Services Act was welcome and the
challenge was on the GNU to either “shape-up or be shipped out.”

Zim ignored Tibaijuka

Political commentator Blessing Vava said no significant changes should be
expected, citing the disregard of the UN special envoy on human settlements
Anna Tibaijuka damning 2005 report accusing the government of human rights
abuses after Operation Murambatsvina, which displaced over 650 000 people
after the destruction of  their homes and businesses.

“Nothing changed after Murambatsvina and we even witnessed worse abuses a
few years later during the 2008 elections. Abuses will likely continue as we
head for another election,” he said.

Social rights activist, Hopewell Gumbo predicted that Zanu PF would test the
waters and continue to use violence as the party’s trump card.

Chinamasa slams ‘fiction’

Justice and Legal Affairs minister, Patrick Chinamasa said the government
was sincere and would cooperate with the UN, as long as the international
body was not influenced by outside forces.

He claimed that most of the reported cases of human rights abuses were
fictitious. “We are not a perfect country,” Chinamasa sa-id. “We want our
shortcomings to be pointed to us. Where there are violations, people must
report to the police rather than wait to present dossiers which are
anonymous and have no witnesses and identity of the victims.”

Some of the worst atrocities were committed by the colonial Ian Smith regime
which massacred thousands of Zimbabweans in and outside the country.
Pillay said such large-scale killings in the 1980s or the 2008 election
violence should never be swept under the carpet and suggested the setting up
of a Truth and Reconciliation Committee.

But the Zanu PF government was also accused of killing thousands of people
in an army crackdown during the infamous Gukurahundi in Midlands and
Matabeleland province in the 1980’s.

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Mugabe wants guaranteed seats for women MPs

Sunday, 27 May 2012 11:19

President Robert Mugabe has suggested that women should be allocated
parliamentary seats on a proportional representation basis, as they faced
obstacles in winning constituencies due to patriarchal attitudes.

This comes as his Zanu PF party has suggested that at least 70 parliamentary
seats should be reserved for women in the new constitution.
“Affirmative action will be the answer, if they (women) were to square up in
constituencies, they would lose,” Mugabe told a Global Power Women Network
meeting in Harare on Thursday.

“The attitude of men still despises women and we need proportional
representation, as they have done in South Africa.”
Zanu PF’s position, in response to the first constitutional draft, is that
the seats should be reserved for women for at least 20 years, after which
they will slug it out with men.

“Total number of seats in the House of Assembly is 280 and distributed as
follows: 210 first past the post, 70 shall be reserved for women by
proportional representation, the 70 shall remain reserved for women for
twenty years after which they become open for men to participate,” reads the
document seen by The Standard.

Despite proposing the 20-year moratorium, the party did not give reasons why
they came with that time limit. This differs with the constitution draft
that was published recently, which suggested that all legislators should be
voted in through a system of proportional representation, without the first
past the post system.

In the past Zanu PF has come up with botched plans to push up women
representation to at least a third. The party, in 2005, reserved seats for
women but this became a very divisive issue within Zanu PF leading to
Tsholotsho legislator Jonathan Moyo’s fallout and eventual expulsion.

Southern African nations signed a protocol that women must make at least a
third of national legislators with the ratio expected to rise to at least

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Priest loses US $ 25 000 in botched deal

Sunday, 27 May 2012 11:11

A Bulawayo man, who allegedly swindled a Catholic priest of US$25 000 in a
driver’s licence deal, has gone on the run and police have launched a
manhunt for him.

Rodwell Kudzanai Chikadza, believed to be in South Africa, skipped bail when
his trial was supposed to resume last week. A warrant of arrest has been
issued against him.

Allegations against Chikadza are that between July 2010 and April 14 last
year, he misrepresented to Father Claudius Luphahla that the police,
prosecutors, magistrates, assessors, clerk of court, judge and journalists,
wanted money so that he could not be incarcerated for trying to get a
licence fraudulently.
He claimed the story was now known by his superiors.

However, Chikadza constantly demanded money from him until it amounted to
US$25 000. But Father Luphahla later realised that he was being duped and
reported the matter to the police leading to Chikadza’s arrest. Only US$6
500 was recovered.

Chikadza had pleaded not guilty to fraud arguing that the priest also
actively participated in the commission of the offence.
He wanted the Catholic priest to be charged with incitement and conspiracy
to commit crime as he was the one who enticed him to commit the crime.
Chikadza made the application through his lawyer, Shepherd Chamunorwa of
Calderwood, Bryce and Hendrie Legal Practitioners.

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Nkala accused of seeking limelight

Sunday, 27 May 2012 11:09

FORMER Cabinet minister and Zanu PF founding member, Enos Nkala is an
attention seeker who is no better than the people he has been critical of
over the past two decades, a prominent historian and author has said.

Nkala, who has been a fierce critic of President Robert Mugabe since the
1990s after unceremoniously leaving government following his implication in
the Willowgate scandal, met his former confidant and comrade-in-arms in
Bulawayo over a week ago.

Following the 45-minute meeting, Nkala has since made a u- turn and is now
full of praise for Mugabe who he says should remain in power describing him
as “the glue that has been holding this country”.

But historian and author, Pathisa Nyathi said Nkala has always wanted to be
in the limelight; hence it was not surprising that he made an about turn
after meeting Mugabe.

“It’s as if the meeting with Mugabe was miraculous,” he said.  “He has been
out in the cold and now that he has the attention of Mugabe, there is no
longer any problem.”

Nyathi said Nkala’s previous relentless blame of Gukurahundi atrocities on
Mugabe alone was part of his strategy to get the limelight. “He has been
criticising Mugabe as the main architect of Gukurahundi, but at the same
time removing himself from the era,” he said.

Nyathi said Nkala had a collective responsibility for Gukurahundi as he was
part of the establishment being a senior member of cabinet. He said there
was no record of Nkala objecting to Gukurahundi.

“Nkala did not resign from government to show that he was against what was
going on,” Nyathi said. “Had the whole cabinet objected, Gukurahundi was not
going to happen.”

Nyathi said Nkala was an orator who was capable of inflammatory speeches.
He said had there been responsible leaders, incidences such as the two
Entumbane battles between Zipra and Zanla forces awaiting demobilisation and
integration would not have happened.  The Entumbane clashes were the
precursor to Gukurahundi which saw the killing of thousands of people in
Midlands and Matabeleland provinces during an army crackdown.

Nyathi said he has strong doubts that Zanu PF would take Nkala seriously as
he was no longer influential, having been in the political wilderness for
many years now.

Journalist, Geoffrey Nyarota in his book Against The Grain – Memoirs of a
Zimbabwean Newsman,wrote that Nkala was the most feared politician in
Zimbabwe at that time, often exuding more power than Mugabe himself who was
Prime Minister then.

Nyarota, a former editor of the Bulawayo-based Chronicle newspaper said
Nkala and Maurice Nyagumbo were the only Zanu PF leaders who addressed
Mugabe by his first name.

The book says at the height of Gukurahundi, Nkala had become the
“self-anointed emperor of Matabeleland, with an idiosyncratic and relentless
determination to wrench the region from (Joshua) Nkomo’s control and deliver
it to Mugabe.”

Nyarota and his then deputy, Davison Maruziva, nearly earned the wrath of
Nkala when the two were investigating him and other Zanu PF officials who
abused the Willowvale motor vehicle purchase scheme.

In his book, Nyarota said when Maruziva phoned Nkala to seek his comment, he
ordered the two journalists to present themselves at his Harare offices the
following morning, failure of which he would dispatch solders from One
Brigade in Bulawayo or the Police to arrest them.

“Where did you get that information? Nkala demanded when Maruziva answered
the telephone. That information is supposed to be with the police and the
president. I want that information here in my office. Who do you think you
are? If you do not travel here I will teach you a lesson. I will use the
army to pick you up; then you can ask questions. I do not care. I can
instruct the commissioner of police to pick you up. Do not play that kind of
game with me; I am not Ndlovu.”

But Nkala, a former Defence, Home Affairs and Finance minister, has always
insisted that he had no part in Gukurahundi, heaping the blame on Mugabe.
Nkala claimed that at the time of the 5th brigade atrocities, he was in
charge of Finance, while the late Ernest Kadungure was minister of defence.

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Zimbabwean tries to flee Botswana court

Sunday, 27 May 2012 11:11

TWO men,  a Zimbabwean and a Motswana – who were facing charges of murder
and robbery last week attempted to escape from lawful custody but were
re-arrested after a short pursuit.

Mid Week Sun newspaper reported that Jabulani Kesiile (23) of Somerset West
location in Botswana and Hebert Jazire (23) from Masvingo attempted to flee
from a court in Francistown while awaiting trial.

Kesiile, a convict, was facing charges of murder and robbery while Jazire
had five separate counts of robbery. The two, who were seated in the
gallery, allegedly seized an opportunity to escape because Francistown
principal magistrate Thebeetsile Christian Mulalu had not started court

Reports reveal the two pleaded with prison warders to unshackle them since
they were not feeling comfortable.  The unsuspecting police and prison
warders heeded the duo’s call and unshackled them.

“Jazire picked up a water glass and jumped over the court orderlies’ desk.
He threatened to smash the faces of those who attempted to stand in his way
as they bolted out of the courtroom through the exit door that leads to the
magistrates’ chambers,” police officer said.

Jazire was re-arrested 20 minutes later while trying to get into a bus rank.
Kesiile was caught by members of the public and Special Support Group (SSG)
officers while trying to climb over the fence at the Francistown College of
Education (FCE).

Police Superintendent Cyprian Magalela of Francistown Central Police Station
said the two were no danger to the public as they had been re-arrested.

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‘Pensioners can sue employers’

Sunday, 27 May 2012 11:17

THE pensions regulator, Insurance and Pensions Commission (Ipec), has said
contributors may sue their employers if they were not remitting money to
their pension funds, as this practice was illegal.
This comes as it emerged that some local authorities were not forwarding
money to pension funds despite deducting the funds from employees’ salaries.
“Contributors can take legal action against the employer although this may
not help if the employer is facing financial and viability problems,” Ipec
said in response to written questions.

A number of pensioners are facing delays in receiving their money, as
pension funds claim they have no money and pass the buck to employers, whom
they blame for delaying with remittances.

First vice-president of the Urban Councils Association of Zimbabwe, Thaba
Moyo last week said despite indications that pensions were being deducted,
local authorities were not remitting to the pension fund as they did not
have money.

He said deductions were only on paper, yet in reality, the councils did not
have money and were not remitting anything.
Ipec said it was in consultation with local authorities and employers,
warning that failure to remit pensions was illegal and the commission may be
forced to intervene to stop the rot.

“The concerned employers have been reminded that deducting pension
contributions and not remitting to the pension funds is both illegal and
fraudulent and that they must take urgent corrective measures so that the
pension fund members are not unnecessarily prejudiced,” the commission said.

Ipec said employers on the other hand have blamed the depressed economic
environment for failure to remit funds, saying most companies said they were
undercapitalised and were operating below capacity.

This, the commission said, hamstrung the pension funds, as their ability to
pay was dependent on contributions being paid in time.
“Failure to remit contributions deprives the fund investment income and
further depletes the fund,” Ipec said. “This will inevitably lead to the
fund failing to pay benefits.”

Labour and Social Welfare minister, Paurina Mpariwa (pictured right) despite
repeated promises to respond to questions over the last two weeks still has
not responded.

She said the pensions issue was a delicate one and she needed to get the
correct information before responding. She asked for questions in writing
but did not respond.

The minister is also responsible for the labour portfolio in the MDC-T, a
party that was born out of the workers movement, and her failure to comment
means the party’s position on a matter that affects a great proportion of
its support base, could not be heard.

Pensions administration split between two ministries

Confusion seems to reign supreme in the pensions sector, as government’s
authority over pension funds seems to be split between two ministries, both
of which seem to have overlapping jurisdiction.

Ordinarily the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare is responsible for
pension funds but this authority has since been passed to the Ministry of
However, on the other hand, the Labour and Social Welfare ministry continues
to supervise the National Social Security Authority (NSSA), which in turn
oversees all pension funds.

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Police blitz on women slammed

Sunday, 27 May 2012 11:46

POLICE in Harare have embarked on a blitz arresting women in bars and night
spots, accusing them of engaging in prostitution, a move roundly condemned
by women and human rights organisations.

For the past two weeks, female dancers and patrons in bars have been
arrested and fined by the police in the capital. Popular raunchy dancer,
Beverly Sibanda, on Friday said the police were causing mayhem in the bars.

“Two weeks ago when I performed at City Sports Bar, I was confronted by four
police officers as I walked out of the bar after my show,” said Beverly.
“They told me I had been arrested and I asked them what they were charging
me for and they simply said there was an operation.”

Beverly added: “They only left me and my group when we forcibly got into our
car but they went away with almost 10 other women they had taken out of the

Beverly condemned the police’s act. “What they are doing is wrong because
they are discriminating against women. It is not a crime in Zimbabwe to be a
female in a bar at night,” she said.

“Even if this was aimed at curbing prostitution, there are many other issues
that need to be addressed before they can start persecuting people. After
all, not every woman in a bar is a prostitute.”

Feminist activist, Everjoice Win, said even if the operation was to rid
Harare of prostitution, it still bordered on infringement of rights as those
involved in the act, made conscious choices.  “Sex work is work so why
eradicate it,” Win said.

“Those people did their maths and economic analysis. Some have day-time jobs
and they have reasons why they have to take up sex work as a second job.”

She said the arrests emanated from the misconception that these were young,
unemployed girls going astray, yet they were talking about adults who have
the capacity to make their own choices.

Win, formerly a Commonwealth advisor to the Commission on Gender Equality,
said women were entitled to freedom of movement and association just like
men. She said women should be allowed to choose their economic life without
any hindrances.

Women’s Action Group (WAG) executive director, Edinah Masiyiwa, said the
blitz was derailing progress the country had made towards gender equality.
“Gender inequality is what necessitated the birth of WAG because women were
being denied their freedom of movement and association,” Masiyiwa said.

“We are still researching on this issue to try and understand what really
transpired but if it is true that they were indiscriminately arresting women
in bars, then that negates the progress we had made in the area of gender

She added: “Women too have a right to access bars.” Zimbabwe Lawyers for
Human Rights (ZLHR) programmes manager, Dzimbabwe Chimbga, said the
organisation last Tuesday represented 17 women who were randomly arrested as
part of the operation.

“The women were randomly picked up and accused of being ladies of the
 night,” he said. “The court released them on bail. But we are saying the
law should not be blind to people’s rights and freedoms.”

Chimbga said women have a right “to be at any bar they so wish to be at and
of course at any time of the day, be it in the morning, afternoon, evening
and even at night.”

He urged the police to stop the operation forthwith saying they should only
intervene when a crime has been or is about to be committed.

Arrests only after surveillance: Sabau

Harare police spokesperson inspector, James Sabau, confirmed that the police
have an operation aimed at getting rid of touts, streets kids and
prostitutes in an effort to reduce crime in the city.

He however denied that they were targeting innocent women in bars and night
spots insisting that the arrest are made after proper surveillance by police
in plain clothes before those in uniform effected the arrest.

“We are not targeting innocent women at random but these arrests are done
after proper surveillance,” said Sabau. “If there is a bar owner, where
police arrest women inside his or her bar, they should come forward and make
a complaint to Officer Commanding Harare so that investigations can be
carried out.”

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Refuse dumpsites re-emerge in public places

Sunday, 27 May 2012 11:54

HEAPS of garbage have re-emerged in most open and public places in Harare as
the council fails to consistently collect refuse across the city, exposing
residents to diseases.

Mbare and Highfield suburbs are the worst affected as waste management
services from council remain inconsistent and divorced from the population
in the high-density suburbs.

When city council fails to collect refuse, residents end up dumping their
garbage on every open space available. Harare Residents Trust (HRT)
community coordinator for the area covering the city’s southern areas,
Sandra Rupia, said between February and March waste collection had been
“very erratic” in most suburbs.

“For the four weeks, starting from February 21 to March 17, garbage trucks
did not come to collect rubbish across a huge chunk of Mbare, leading to
mounds of rubbish heaps, which are still accumulating,” said Rupia. “The
areas with flats are the dirtiest, especially at Nenyere, Matererini,
Majubeki and Mbare blocks.”

In Mbare, heaps of garbage have mushroomed and become an eyesore near
Shirichena Primary School along Dumbujena road, Muzingeli road, Mbare Green
Market,  and the open space near  the OK shop.

In the Western Triangle and Canaan areas, dumpsites have emerged at Speciss
College, Zororo and Cherima bus stop in Highfield becoming an eyesore and a
health hazard for children who foraged through the rubbish piles bare-footed
before residents and HRT cleaned up the area last week.

The situation was the same in Glen Norah B along High Glen road, at
Kudakwashe and Ruvheneko primary schools. Community chairperson for the
area, Juliette Masiyambiri, said children were at the highest risk of
contracting diseases such as typhoid and cholera as they played in the
garbage piles.

“At Kudakwashe Primary School the rubbish site had gone for close to a year
without being cleared by the municipality,” she said. “Children on their way
home crossed through the waste mounds,  which contain discarded baby nappies
and other contaminated sanitary wear.”

Harare City Council has attributed its failure to collect refuse in
residential areas to the critical shortage of garbage trucks.
However, residents have accused the local authority of misplaced priorities
as it pays huge salaries to senior managers at the expense of service

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No brisk business for Domboshava sculptors

Sunday, 27 May 2012 11:57

DOMBOSHAVA — Sculptors at an art centre in Domboshava have lambasted the
government for failing to quickly resuscitate the tourism industry saying
the current slump in the sector had seriously affected their livelihood.

The sculptors make and sell stone and wood artifacts, mainly to tourists who
visit the Domboshava hill and caves, some 20 kilometres north of Harare.
“We are getting by, although business is very low,” Rangarirai Makunde said.
“As you know, white people are the ones who appreciate art, so the fewer
they are, the more affected our business is.

“Fellow black Zimbabweans do visit yes, but many do not appreciate these
things.” Makunde said they had regular customers who kept them going, by
making bulk orders for resale abroad, although this number too remains low.
Business usually peaks on Fridays through to Saturdays, as foreign and local
tourists take their families out for the weekend. Some tourists are
interested in watching the sun set from the Domboshava hill.

The artifacts, mainly animals, bird carvings and creative figures, are
priced from as low as US$2 a piece to as high as US$300.
“We have been having some of these pieces for a long time now, thank God
they have a long lifespan, otherwise we would have been pushed out of
business as they got bad,” said another sculptor. “We really look forward to
that day when tourist numbers will increase again, as that will translate
into improved business for us.”

While sculptors bemoaned low business, some locals complained that they no
longer enjoyed services offered by bars near the tourist site citing
exorbitant prices.

Tinashe Chitando said local villagers could not mix and mingle with the
tourists because they could not afford the prices charged by service
providers at the caves.

“I have gone up the hill several times, but what I am not happy about is
that beer at the bar costs US$3 for a quart compared to US$1,50 at the
business centres,” said Chitando. “A kilogramme of beef sells for US$10 at
the bar compared to US$5 at the shopping centres and bottled coke (300ml)
costs US$1 compared to 5 Rand.”

An employee at one of the bars said the facilities were open to everyone and
charges were standard. The employee said some villagers have had their
weddings there and paid about US$5 000 for the cheapest package.

The area near the bars has a lot of tall muzhanje trees — a beautiful
scenery for weddings and other family events.

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Carpenter famed for creating employment

Sunday, 27 May 2012 11:56

A Domboshava man has earned the respect of many in his community after he
started a programme to train unemployed youths in carpentry in the area.
Anyway Matabvu, who operates at Showground Shopping Centre, is now known as
“the carpentry teacher” because he has helped many youths in his community
earn a decent living.

“I used to work at a stationery shop in Harare but as the cost of living
rose beyond my earnings, I left my job and relocated here in 1995,” Matabvu
“I asked a friend from Harare to help me set up a carpentry business, as he
had the skills and I did not.”

The 52-year-old father of five added: “He trained me for some months and
when he left, I recruited a few boys to assist me and that is how I started
training others.”

Matabvu trains at least five youths every year, although some of them stay
longer due to lack of employment opportunities. Some of his trainees, he
said, have started their own businesses where they are also extending the
skills to others.

“He is Domboshava’s carpentry teacher,” 46-year-old Thomas Mukusha said.
“The only teacher who pays his students for attending his lessons, he pays
us at the end of every month.”

Mukusha said most of the carpenters who operate carpentry business at
Showground Shopping Centre were Matabvu’s former students. Matabvu owns a
small workshop in the business centre where he makes bed bases, wardrobes,
coffins and other pieces of furniture.

A base for a double bed costs US$30. “The base beds are the ones which sell
most but the returns remain low because we sell one base bed for US$65,” he

“We make about US$2 000 in a good month but that translates to nothing much,
considering we have to share it among ourselves.”
Matabvu said he frequently travelled to Harare where he buys carpentry

Matabvu has already applied for land from the local authority as he plans to
move to a bigger place.

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Marketing of traditional medicines lags behind

Sunday, 27 May 2012 11:52

ZIMBABWE is lagging behind in enacting legislation that supports the
marketing of traditional medicines, a senior official in the Ministry of
Health and Child Welfare has said.

Speaking at a World Health Organisation (WHO) regional consultative meeting
in Harare last week, acting director of traditional medicine in the Ministry
of Health, Dr Onias Ndoro, urged government to support traditional medicines
describing them as the solution to the health needs of the majority in the

“Zimbabwe is one of the pioneer African countries to recognise and legalise
the use of herbal medicines but we are lagging behind in the authorisation
of herbal products,” said Ndoro. “The prescription of traditional medicines
lies with the traditional medicine practitioners (TMPs) and there is need to
change that and do more research and establish its effectiveness.”

The three-day meeting drew participants from Tanzania, South Africa, Cote d’Ivoire,
Uganda, Mali, Ghana, Cameroon, Benin, Burkina Faso, Nigeria and Zimbabwe.

Ndoro’s comments come at a time when Zimbabwe is awash with herbal medicines
originating from China and India. The acting director said an integrated and
collaborative approach between TMPs and conventional medicine practitioners
(CMPs) was the key to demystifying negative beliefs associated with the use
of herbal medicines.

“The use of traditional medicines is a solution to some of our health
problems because most people residing in the rural areas do not have access
to hospitals and modern medicines. The issue of access and affordability
comes at the fore,” said Ndoro. “There is need to look at these medicines as
a health system and compliment its proper use.”

He said TMPs should come up with activities and objectives aligned to the
health ministry’s goals if they are to be recognised by the relevant
government ministries.

The Zimbabwe national Traditional Healers’ Association (Zinatha) led by Dr
Gordon Chavunduka has for years been pushing government to enact legislation
that recognises the official use of traditional medicines in the health
institutions in the country.

Chavhunduka could not be reached for comment last week as he was said to be
sick. But a member of Zinatha blamed government bureaucratic procedures for
the delay in recognising local herbal medicine.

“This is why you find traditional practitioners operating backstreet
pharmacies in the city,” he said. “We need laws the support the marketing
and use of our herbal medicines.”

Last week’s meeting was held against the backdrop of the WHO regional
committee for Africa held in 2000 under the theme ‘Promoting the role of
Traditional Medicine in the Health Systems: A strategy for the African

The committee came up with resolutions that stipulate that African countries
should make inventories of effective traditional practices and ascertain and
develop evidence on the safety, efficacy and quality of traditional

According to the WHO, TMPs play a key role in covering the health needs of
African communities, but their work and profession are not sufficiently
known, documented or recognized the world over.

Their interventions are not captured in health statistics at country and
regional levels. The absence of official recognition exposes them to
“charlatans and deceptive advertising”, a situation which could ultimately
become a source of discouragement.

Recent studies have shown that traditional medicine is however the first
source of health care for about 80% of the population in developing
Several African countries have implemented some aspects of the regional
strategy but are still hindered by weak regulatory mechanisms which have
resulted in malpractices in traditional practices and unfavorable policy,
economic and regulatory environments for local production of traditional

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Housing stands attract back errant husbands

Sunday, 27 May 2012 11:50

A man who dumped his wife for bearing him a child with cerebral palsy has
returned after learning his family was among beneficiaries of residential
stands in Mabvuku.

The man, who could not be identified to protect the identity of the
disadvantaged child, is among a number of husbands that are coming back to
their wives in the suburb where the fortunes of women, dumped by their
husbands years ago after giving birth to children with disabilities, are
fast changing.

At least 26 parents of children with various forms of disabilities will soon
own residential stands after their association bought land to accommodate
the families, most of whom presently live in backyard shacks.

The families have for years been making monthly savings through the Zimbabwe
Parents of Handicapped Children Association (ZPHCA), enabling them to raise
US$15 000, which they used to buy a piece of land to be subdivided into
residential stands.

Each member will own a 200 square metre stand in Harare’s Mabvuku suburb.
These developments have resulted in some of the husbands who had run away
coming back to their families after realising that their wives would soon
receive residential stands.

“There is a man who had left his wife and five children, including their
nine-year old child who is suffering from cerebral palsy (CP),” a ZPHCA
official said. “The wife soldiered on, vending to raise money for her
children’s upkeep and the association subscription. She is one of those who
benefitted under this phase and her husband is now back home.”

The beneficiaries were hopeful that the initiative would bring relief to
most members of the association as they were being discriminated against
when looking for accommodation to rent.

“My husband left me and our three children in 1998 because of our
19-year-old daughter who suffers from cp,” 42-year-old Virginia Chirinda
said. “At one point, I was promised a room for lodging with my family but
when I went back with my disabled child the following day, the potential
landlord told me she had no room for that thing, referring to my child.”

Speaking at a ground- breaking ceremony in Mabvuku last week, ZPHCA
coordinator Theresa Makwara said members had been saving up for stands for
several years.

“We started off as a big association with more than 100 members but we are
down to 42 now because of various problems, among them lack of resources,”
Makwara said. “Most people got discouraged when our Zimdollar savings came
to naught but some of us soldiered on and that has finally paid off.”

Body caters for parents of the disabled

Formed in 1987, ZPHCA is an organisation of parents of children with
disabilities. The Harare Province is the largest with a growing base of 23
support groups.

The association advocates for the rights of children with disabilities,
especially in the areas of health, education, food, shelter, housing and
recognition in the society.

Most of the handicapped live with cerebral palsy (PC), a condition which
affects brain development and body functionality while others suffer from
Hydrocephalus condition, which is a buildup of fluid inside the skull that
leads to brain swelling.

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China sets conditions to build convention centre

Sunday, 27 May 2012 12:09

BULAWAYO — China has pledged to fund the construction of a convention centre
and other critical infrastructure worth US$300 million for the joint hosting
of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) General Assembly
set for next year.

Minister of Public Works, Gabuza Joel Gabbuza, said China was willing to
fund the project but on condition that the tenders for construction were
awarded to Chinese companies.

“We are negotiating with China for the loans. China has pledged to assist
but on condition that tenders for construction go to their companies. We are
negotiating that local companies are sub-contracted for upgrading projects
or to supply the bulk of the building materials,” Gabbuza said on Thursday.

He said Zimbabwe, which is co-hosting general assembly with Zambia, had no
money for the construction of the multi-million dollar project.
The convention centre is designed to accommodate between 3 000 and 5 000
people, have a shopping mall and a three-star and five-star hotel.

“This is a big project and we do not have the funds to wholly fund
construction projects on our own. For example, the conference centre would
cost about US$120 million with the other money going to fund the
construction of the hotel, to increase hotel rooms and other ancillary
services,” said Gabbuza.

In the 2012 national budget, Finance minister Tendai Biti, only allocated
US$1 million for the preparations towards the co-hosting of the assembly,
which analysts said was a drop in the ocean in comparison to the actual
amount needed.

Gabbuza said regional financial institutions such as the Development Bank of
Southern Africa had come up with special loan facilities for the
refurbishment and re-capitalisation of tourism facilities in and around
Victoria Falls to improve services during and after the tourism event.

Most of the 186 members of the UNWTO are expected to descend on Victoria
Falls and Livingstone next year for the event.
Government has said the event presents Zimbabwe with a unique opportunity to
rebrand its image in the eyes of the international community.

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Commission reviews corporate actions

Sunday, 27 May 2012 12:04

THE Securities Exchange Commission of Zimbabwe (SECZ) is reviewing corporate
actions amid revelations that the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE) had not
followed the rules governing listed companies.

This comes at a time relations between SECZ and the ZSE have soured, with
the former accusing the latter of “sitting behind the wheels”. A corporate
action is any event that brings material change to a public company and may
affect its stakeholders. Some corporate actions such as a dividend may have
a financial impact on the shareholders, while others such as change in
company name do not have a financial impact.

The Commission has also raised concern after a consortium of local and
foreign investors snapped up a controlling shareholding in construction
giant, Murray and Roberts (M & R).

According to the transaction, Zumbani Capital snapped up 9 792 515 shares at
a special bargain price of US$0,0147 per share. The special bargain price
was at a 79% discount to the last traded price of the share which was

Tafadzwa Chinamo, SECZ chief executive officer told Standardbusiness last
week the review would consider whether proper procedures had been followed.

“If we see a transaction we believe happened even without approvals being
done, we will do whatever we can to address that situation, even if it means
cancelling or reversing that transaction,” Chinamo said.

Chinamo said the Commission was finalising its examinations on the M & R
deal and would make its recommendations to the parties concerned. “If it
warrants undoing that deal, it’s an option,” he said.

Chinamo said although M & R issued a cautionary statement, it didn’t say the
current shareholder is selling. It means there is a change in ownership and
a circular to shareholders was appropriate, he said.

Under normal circumstances, a company intending to do any corporate action
files circulars with both the stock exchange and SECZ. However, this has not
been the case with SECZ telling listed firms in a notice published last
week, to file circulars with both the exchange and the Commission “in order
to avoid corrective measures being taken should such corporate actions be
found to be irregular”.

Chinamo said amendments to the Securities Act would require the stock
exchange to gazette its listing rules and direct companies to ensure that
notices for annual general meetings are sent out on time and what to be
discussed at those meetings.

He said the Commission was also drafting rules to complement effectiveness
of the Act. The rules are being drafted at the Attorney General’s office
with technical assistance from the World Bank.

Listing committee vital for all deliberations: Chinamo

Chinamo told Standardbusiness, the listing committee of the stock exchange
should deliberate on all corporate actions before they are approved.
“Any action that takes place, rights issue consolidation of shares, the
listing committee will be instrumental. In the past the committee was in
name only,” he said.

He said going forward, a member of the Commission would sit on every
committee of the exchange in attendance, such that things that may be
overlooked by the exchange, would be pointed out and corrected.

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Zimplats in a fix, risks default on payments

Sunday, 27 May 2012 12:00

THE Zimbabwe Platinum Mine (Zimplats) risks defaulting on loan arrangements
after the central bank directed local banks to stop offering banking
services to the company for defying an order to bring back money in
off-shore accounts.

Zimplats borrowed from foreign organisations to finance its US$500 million
Phase II expansion, currently underway in Ngezi. On Wednesday, the Reserve
Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) said the white metal producer had defied its
directive to bring back the money onshore and instructed banks to stop
handling any international or cross-border payments for Zimplats.

This includes stopping issuance of export documentation, electronic or
otherwise, on behalf of Zimplats Information obtained yesterday showed that
letters have been flying between Zimplats and its bankers after the latter
was given a directive by the RBZ.

Executives who spoke to Standardbusiness said Zimplats was now in a fix and
risked defaulting on loan agreements with foreign lenders. “The revocation
of Zimplats’ right to operate off-shore accounts will have an adverse effect
on its subsisting financing arrangements and constitute an event of default
under the agreement that it has with foreign financiers. The continued
operation of the off-shore accounts is a material condition under the
facility agreements,” an executive said.

There were also allegations that, by stopping banks from processing Zimplats’
exports, RBZ had “inadvertently closed Zimplats”. Zimplats said it had an
existing agreement with government and RBZ to open, operate and maintain
off-shore accounts.

Sources said although the RBZ’s rationale for the directive was motivated by
the need to improve the liquidity situation in the country, the situation
was different for Zimplats, as it had no surplus funds offshore.

“Zimplats is in the midst of a major expansion project, which is partly
funded by offshore loans. Thus, the localisation of Zimplats’ offshore
accounts will not result in any improvement in the local market’s liquidity
position,” an executive said.

Standardbusiness is also reliably informed that the white metal producer’s
insistence on keeping off-shore accounts was necessitated by agreements
signed in 1994 and 2005.

The Mining Agreement dated August 24 1994 and the Accounts Management
Agreement concluded in October 2005, all gave Zimplats the nod to open,
operate and maintain foreign currency accounts outside Zimbabwe.

“The mining agreement is a valid existing government implementation
agreement with Zimplats in as far as exchange controls are concerned, and
this is clearly provided for in clause 9 of the Mining Agreement, which is
in lieu of normal exchange control approvals under the relevant exchange
control legislation or regulations as the case may be,” a source said.

“In our view, the mining agreement is valid and Zimplats has a right to
operate off-shore accounts.”

Zimplats to seek agreement with RBZ

In a statement, Zimplats said it would liaise with RBZ to resolve the matter
amicably. “Zimplats acknowledges receipt of the RBZ directive. However, we
must say we were surprised because in reality, Zimplats had no objection to
the initial communication from the RBZ on the policy change.

“Following the change in policy, the company is now paying for 75% of its
expenditure in Zimbabwe,” it said. “The remaining 25% related to observing
the tenets of its foreign loans that were raised with the knowledge, support
and approval of the monetary authorities. Zimplats is urgently liaising with
the Monetary Authorities to resolve this matter amicably.”

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Govt moves another step to settle external debt

Sunday, 20 May 2012 11:43

OFFICIALS from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank will
visit the country next month for crucial talks in Zimbabwe’s first step
towards clearing its US$9,1 billion external debt.

The visit comes after two crucial meetings in Tunisia and Washington DC,
where consensus was built among all creditors and other stakeholders over
the process of resolving the country’s external debt.

Finance minister, Tendai Biti, said on Thursday the resolution of the debt
question would unlock fresh capital into the country needed to drive
economic growth.

Biti said he had briefed President Robert Mugabe on the debt question and
was given the nod to re-engage the country’s creditors.

This has resulted in negotiations with the IMF and World Bank — a framework
for accelerated engagement next month.

“If we reach this agreement, it will pave the way for donors to help us with
our US$9,1 billion, either through cancellation or forgiveness. We need to
deal with the arrears because these are a precondition for us to access the
huge amounts that are at the World Bank and IMF,” Biti said.

Zimbabwe’s arrears to the World Bank are US$507 million, US$140 million to
IMF and US$409 million to the African Development Bank (AfDB)

Biti said Zimbabwe had moved mountains for the donors to come to the
decisions reached in Tunisia and in Washington DC and Zimbabweans have to
speak with one voice for the debt question to be addressed.

Zimbabwe’s external debt had been termed unsustainable up to 2029 by a
consultant hired by government three years ago.

The principals in the inclusive government approved the Zimbabwe Accelerated
Arrears Clearance, Debt and Development Strategy (ZAADDS) in March after
months of haggling, as one faction of the inclusive government was arguing
the country was too rich to be declared a poor country.

ZAADDS uses a combination of debt relief and resources pledging to clear the
country’s debt.

The programme was then presented at a High Level Debt Forum in Tunisia in

Another meeting was held on the sidelines of the IMF/World Bank Spring
meetings in Washington DC last month.

IMF and the World Bank are considered the international “Commissioner of
Oaths” and once they agree on anything, Zimbabwe’s other creditors would
follow suit.

‘Clearing debt critical for rehabilitation’

Biti said once the debt question was settled, the country could tap into the
huge amounts from the Bretton Woods institutions to address the
infrastructure deficit in the country.

AfDB estimates that Zimbabwe needs US$16 billion for infrastructure

“You will not get that money from the private institutions, but from the
IFIs (international financial institutions), the IMF, World Bank and African
Development Bank, so it’s important that we deal with the issue of arrears,”
he said.

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Challenge for GNU: Heed Pillay advice

Sunday, 27 May 2012 11:43

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay on Friday concluded an
insightful five-day trip to Zimbabwe. Her visit, the first by a rights
commissioner, was a milestone in some ways.

In the past, the former Zanu PF government was openly hostile to any attempt
to investigate its persistent use of State security apparatus to commit
human rights violations.

By inviting the commissioner for a visit, government sent positive signals
that it was ready to engage with the international community on human rights
issues — aspects that are pertinent to any civilised society.

What is required of the coalition government now is to go a step further and
show that the invitation was a well-intended move by a country determined to
change its course.

This change can be achieved through addressing the important matters that
were raised by Pillay. Among these, is the need for the State to immediately
stop being the perpetrator-in-chief. Instead, it should assume the rightful
role of being the “primary duty-bearer” in safeguarding and protecting human

The state should rise above political party differences and foster a culture
of respecting human rights. Doing away with laws that infringe on citizens’s
rights can be a good start.

Among these are the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, the
Broadcasting Services Act and the Public Order and Security Act.
Pillay made the observation that the Zimbabwe Media Commission “seemed much
more concerned with controlling and censoring media than with promoting
freedom of expression”.

Her observation deserves serious consideration, coming a day after the
Zimbabwe Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe dashed hopes of freeing the
airwaves by ruling out more radio licences on the flimsy pretext that
frequencies had been exhausted.

On the contentious issue of elections, Pillay said unless the parties agreed
quickly on some key major reforms, the next election could turn into a
repeat of the 2008 bloodbath.

Pillay’s recommendations go a long way in addressing matters that are
fundamental to the human rights problems in Zimbabwe. What is now needed is
for the parties to the inclusive government to take them on board and chart
a new direction for Zimbabwe.

Quote of the week

"I also urged him to ensure that the future elections will be free and fair,
and free from violence,” UN rights chief Navi Pillay after the 90-minute
meeting with Mugabe at State House, in the capital Harare.

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Pillay lecture exposes human rights deficit

Sunday, 27 May 2012 11:37

Minister of Justice, Patrick Chinamasa, last week tried to manage the visit
by United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, in such a
way that she would “hear no evil, see no evil and say no evil” about the
state of human rights in Zimbabwe.

How he thought he would achieve this feat considering Pillay’s experience as
a High Court judge in South Africa and as an accomplished international
civil servant boggles the mind. Pillay, a South African, was the first
non-white woman on the High Court of South Africa and has served as a judge
of the International Criminal Court and President of the International
Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. She has been High Commissioner for Human
Rights since September 1 2008.

She is the first South African to obtain a doctorate in law from Harvard Law
School. Chinamasa sought to achieve his ends by trivialising the whole
Zimbabwean human rights debate by reducing it to only two issues namely,
state-sponsored violence and homosexuality. He hedged his stratagem on his
first utterance after the arrival of Pillay:

“We are happy we will be able to host her because we have nothing to hide in
terms of human rights issues. We are not worried about what our detractors
will say,” he said.

The statement is surely meant to deceive not only Pillay but also the
general public; but his reference to “our detractors” betrays his actual
intent, which was to make Pillay’s visit just another dumb squib. But to
think that Pillay would only focus on state-sponsored violence — which to
everyone’s admission, is still widespread but on the decline in terms of
intensity — and homosexuality, is to underestimate the whole institution of
the United Nations and the calibre of cadre it employs.

“There is no state-sponsored violence; these are all lies. We told her that
there are no torture chambers in Zimbabwe,” Chinamasa said. Fair enough
Chinamasa, no one would have expected state-sponsored violence during the
era of the government of national unity; but only Zanu PF-sponsored
violence, and there is lots of it.

Paramilitary outfits such as Chipangano still exist countrywide and Zanu
PF-sponsored violence also exists in churches such as the Anglican Church in
which ex-communicated Bishop Nolbert Kunonga and his followers are marauding
through the countryside destroying schools and orphanages with the backing
of the “grand old party”.

Chinamasa also accentuated the issue of homosexuality to make it sound like
it was the basis of Pillay’s visit.  “We made it clear that in our law
homosexual activities are criminalised and that any person who commits
homosexual activities will be arrested,” Chinamasa told reporters after
meeting with Pillay in Harare.

President Mugabe also added to this ruse by coming out strongly on it when
Pillay spoke against the criminalisation of homosexuality and sex work.
But in her lecture at the University of Zimbabwe, Pillay demonstrated that
she had seen through Chinamasa’s ploy and illustrated Zimbabwe’s true human
rights deficit. She talked about the indivisibility of human rights, a
concept that Chinamasa cleverly tried to avoid by picking out only two

Pillay said in the lecture that UN member states, including Zimbabwe, agreed
at the World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna in 1993 that all human
rights are universal, indivisible and interdependent and interrelated, and
that the international community must treat human rights globally in a fair
and equal manner, on the same footing, and with the same emphasis. This
implied recognition that no human right can be achieved fully without the
enjoyment of other rights.

She gave as an example the right to vote. She said the right to vote on its
own does not mean much to someone who is suffering from hunger or ill
health. That means no right can flourish in isolation. She also said one
cannot address famine without dealing with the whole question of citizen
participation in democracy: no famine has ever occurred in a functioning
democracy, she quoted a famous scholar.

“It seems that the full, active and meaningful participation in designing
and implementing government policies by those affected enables early warning
of a crisis and the formulation of the most appropriate policy responses.
Likewise, access to information, including through a free press, enables
people to better prepare and protect themselves against such crises”.

Pillay knew as she came to Zimbabwe the press was still constrained by
draconian legislation and that the government had not done enough to open up
media space especially the airwaves.

Pillay said: “People everywhere want to be able to fend for themselves; to
provide food, shelter and healthcare for themselves, and want to be able to
send their children to school. This is the idea of dignity that is enshrined
in the Universal Declaration to which the international community, including
Zimbabwe, has subscribed to.

The freedoms of assembly and association; the right to participate in
decisions that affect one’s life and the right to move freely to seek
opportunities, are all essential for a life in dignity. Likewise, human
experience demonstrates that the long-term investment of capital, access to
credit and the development of property, which are all necessary for economic
growth and development, and for the realisation of economic, social and
cultural rights are difficult when there is an atmosphere of repression,
fear and rampant human rights abuse. Respecting all human rights is
therefore crucial.”

In short this was Pillay’s honest assessment of the situation of human
rights in Zimbabwe, that they cannot be respected in an atmosphere of
repression, fear and rampant human rights abuse as currently prevails in

Pillay must also have known the way civil society is being repressed in
Zimbabwe; what with the recent banning of dozens of non-governmental
organisations (NGOs) in Masvingo Province.

She said: “Civil society provides a powerful and essential stimulus for
social change and justice. This is why an enabling and free environment for
their activity is so essential for a country. Protecting and promoting the
work of NGOs, human rights defenders, advocates, journalists and lawyers and
communities themselves fighting for their civil and political rights and
economic, social and cultural rights is a prerequisite to the development
and prosperity of any society.”

Chinamasa’s efforts came to nought even though the public press gave a
totally different picture which suggested that Pillay, because her visit was
so brief, was not in a position to make a credible assessment.

By Nevanji Madanhire

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Africans must choose development, reject divisive politics

Sunday, 27 May 2012 11:39

The African continent recently commemorated Africa Day under a plethora of
challenges that continue to traumatise and stifle development, much to the
detriment of the populace. Hunger and endless senseless wars have become a
normative value and there is no end in sight for a number of countries
except a few that have scored higher growth rates which have benefited and
uplifted the livelihoods of their citizens.

For instance, the recent outbreak of war between Sudan and South Sudan is a
clear example of how the continental mother body, the Africa Union (AU), has
failed in tackling crises on the continent. It is rather naïve to note that
Khartoum recently breached a peace deal with Juba by attacking the newly
established state   over oilfields that Khartoum wants to reclaim.

Somalia, which continues to be riddled by a serious spate of war and strife
since the fall of Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991, remains a major headache on
the continent and efforts to foster peace between the Islamic Mujahedeen
group, the Al Shabaab and the fragile Mogadishu government have been

The Arab spring uprisings that toppled former strong men such as Colonel
Muammar Gaddafi of Libya, Hosni Mubarak of Egypt and Mohamed Ben Ali of
Tunisia are other classic examples of the failure of the African Union in
mediating crises.

Back home, Zanu PF and President Robert Mugabe continue to dominate the
political landscape and the recent call for elections by the regime poses a
serious threat to peace that has been prevailing since 2008.

A majority of Zimbabweans are still haunted by the brutal 2008 elections and
the sinister utterances by some Zanu PF adherents trigger shivers down the
spines of many since scores of innocent people were either killed or
suffered first degree injuries as a result of the state-sponsored violence.

The sinister rhetoric by Zanu PF and its leader, President Robert Mugabe, of
calling for an election with or without a new constitution is an
orchestrated campaign that is aimed at creating an atmosphere of uncertainty
in the country. The Global Political Agreement states the need for a new
constitution as a requirement before the holding of any fresh elections but
some powers-that-be in Zanu PF have their own archaic mindset that is meant
to draw us back to the 2008 fiasco.

On a positive note, not all is doom and gloom for the continent as there are
a number of success stories. The West African state of Ghana is a shining
example that continues to post positive growth rates in all sectors of the
economy. It was ticked by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation as a success story.
South Africa also has had a positive growth rate since the establishment of
multi-party-democracy in 1994.

The oil rich West African power house, Nigeria, has been predicted to
overtake South Africa as the largest economy in Africa; thanks to the black
gold, crude oil, although strife that has ravaged the country at the hands
of Islamists led by the Boko Haram is of  major concern.

In conclusion, African leaders need to foster development for the benefit of
the citizens. It is quite naïve and nonsensical for some leaders to preach a
gospel of pan-Africanism while they are on the forefront of plundering the
resources that should benefit the majority.

Sloganeering and hate speech will continue to take us backwards. Former
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown once said: “The days of the West
apologising for the wrongdoings of the past are over.” Such utterances might
be misleading and dangerous but they have relevance in the context that we
have to move on.


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TB Joshua, a political scapegoat in Zim

Sunday, 27 May 2012 11:41

Without even stating whether Temitope Balogun Joshua, aka TB Joshua, the
world-famous Nigerian prophet, is using the power of God or not, it is clear
that he has touched the lives of many. Some in a positive way, some in a
negative way, as it should be.

Zimbabwe’s fascination with this man, particularly after his prophecy on
February 8 2012 that an African president would die suddenly within 60 days,
has been exploited by politicians for their own political ends. Most
politicians, across the political divide, hoped that the prophecy would be
fulfilled in Zimbabwe.

For Zanu PF politicians, it would have shortened the waiting for those
lining up to succeed their party leader and national President Robert
Mugabe. For the MDCs, a formidable and experienced opponent would be out of
the way, opening up a clear chance to resoundingly out-poll a novice
candidate in an open national election.

It never came to be, as Malawi is the country that lost its president over
the timeframe predicted by TB Joshua. Unsatisfied with this outcome, some
Zanu PF politicians, particularly the loquacious Professor Jonathan Moyo,
came up with conspiracy theories suggesting that the late Bingu wa Mutharika
could have been a victim of an assassination plot by his political
opponents, taking advantage of TB Joshua’s prophecy.

The Malawians, however, missed the whole point of  Moyo’s untempered
mutterings. They were not really meant for them but for a Zimbabwean

A few days later, the media was awash with “news” that Mugabe was on his
deathbed in Singapore. An unnamed close associate of Mugabe’s was cited as
the source of the story. Perceptive Zimbabwean media consumers read between
the lines and noted who the originator of this fiction could be. As is
turned out, the President was well and alive, shaming the vile schemers.

Fearing Mugabe’s backlash upon his return, the Zanu PF schemers who wished
Mugabe a sudden death, found TB Joshua, their initial source of hope, a
convenient scapegoat, blaming him for making political prophecies. While
Mugabe himself laughed the episode off, joking that he had outdone Jesus in
the number of supposed resurrections, the political schemers, to mask their
involvement in the scandal, got angry on his behalf, declaring TB Joshua a
persona non grata in Zimbabwe.

Their fear that he might expose them when he comes to Zimbabwe for the
National Day of Prayer event later this month is palpable. But is Mugabe
fooled by such Zanu PF insider-schemers, plotting his downfall? — Let’s wait
and see. He might surprise them, yet.

For the MDCs, if laxity crept in on the basis of the news of Mugabe’s said
illness, Mugabe’s “resurrection” and triumphant return to Zimbabwe from his
private visit to the Far East, was a slap in the face. They fell for a Zanu
PF succession-battle schemer’s story. They also became embroiled in the TB
Joshua decoy. Instead of ignoring the rumour that it was Prime Minister
Morgan Tsvangirai who invited TB Joshua to Zimbabwe, the MDC-T dignified the
fiction by denying it and placing the invitation at the door of the clergy.

Unwittingly, political clergymen, like the ex-communicated Anglican Bishop
Nolbert Kunonga and his ilk, picked up the planted story and unjustly
attacked TB Joshua, camouflaging the political schemer behind the story that
Mugabe was on his deathbed. The ZRP have entered the fray, throwing
unprovoked attacks at TB Joshua.

But is it TB Joshua, godly or not, who is at the heart of Zimbabwe’s
shameless peddling of lies about its president’s ill-health? — Definitely
not!—It was in the WikiLeaks well before TB Joshua predicted the death of an
African president. In fact, TB Joshua has not said a word about our
president’s health as some politicians would have us believe.

It’s not the messenger, but the message, that matters. The forthrightness of
prophetic messages scares our politicians to the extent of dreaming schemes
against the prophets and decoding skewed meanings from the prophecies.

Repent, reform and prepare for a new dawn, for the end is nigh, has always
been a religious message. There is no regime-change mantra in that message,
as some politicians would like us to believe. That message is as old as the
biblical Old Testament prophets. And the reaction from politicians then, as
now, is to scheme against the prophets. A large section of Prophet Jeremiah’s
book in the Bible’s Old Testament section laments about this.

Spare TB Joshua the political controversies. Prophets, as a general rule of
thumb, are responsible for what they say, not for what you interpret to be
their message. Watch out more for deranged political schemers in our midst
than mere prophets. President Robert Mugabe can also do without the spurious
health concerns which politicians regularly peddle about him.


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