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Constitution Drafters Told to Clean Up 'Disappointing' Charter

02 May 2012

Blessing Zulu | Washington

Zimbabwe's parliamentary committee drafting the country’s new charter has
been given until Friday to polish its draft, which has been described by
legal experts as "disappointing and half-backed".

The committee had finally submitted the long-awaited draft to government,
almost two years behind schedule.

It is not yet clear though when a referendum will be held. If approved, the
new constitution will pave way for elections that will bring to an end
Zimbabwe's fragile, three-year-old coalition government.

Co-chairman Douglas Mwonzora of the MDC formation led by Prime Minister
Morgan Tsvangirai confirmed the committee has been told by its principals to
clean-up the draft ahead of the management committee’s meeting Monday to
finalize the charter.

Sources say contrary to reports devolution is the only factor stalling the
completion of the process, there are a number of issues still outstanding.

These include dual citizenship, land, the number of lawmakers the country
should have, among others. The draft also has too many typographical errors,
an issue analysts say is an embarrassment given resources poured into the

Most issues that many thought have been agreed on by the three political
parties in the inclusive government have also been left out of the draft.

Some controversial issues like dual citizenship have been referred to
parliament. Apart from tightening the loose ends, the select committee is
also facing a serious challenge from ZANU-PF hardliners, who are threatening
to derail the process.

ZANU-PF caucused in Harare Tuesday where hardliners said they will not
endorse the draft, arguing it does not reflect the people’s views.

President Robert Mugabe will on Thursday chair a crucial meeting of his
party's supreme decision-making body, the Politburo, that is expected to
discuss the draft and also the divisions that have rocked ZANU-PF in its
on-going district coordinating committee meetings.

There is also confusion within the parliamentary committee about the role
political parties will play in analyzing the draft.

Some officials say they still can force changes, but others say they do not
have that power at this stage. Constitutional Minister Eric Matinenga told
VOA that progress is being made despite the setbacks.

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Draft constitution retains powerful presidency

Written by Gift Phiri, Chief Writer
Wednesday, 02 May 2012 15:29

HARARE - Lawmakers late on Monday presented the first consolidated draft
Constitution to the management committee that would maintain the sweeping
powers of Zimbabwe’s imperial-like presidency and abolish the post of Prime

The new constitution is expected to replace the current document cobbled at
Lancaster House in London in December 1979 ending colonial rule in

The present constitution has been amended 19 times, the last being in
February 2009 to formally pave the way for the formation of the inclusive
government that created the Prime Minister’s post for Morgan Tsvangirai, the
MDC leader.

Circulated widely, the draft could fall short of expectations of Zimbabweans
who had hoped it would trim presidential powers that have turned President
Robert Mugabe into a demi-god.

The draft constitution, proposes retaining the all-powerful presidency, and
has no age caps but says the incumbent must be at least 40 years of age. No
one can serve for more than two terms under the proposed constitution.

It has a provision for one vice president and an alternative provision for
two vice presidents.

The draft has already caused disputes in the troubled inclusive government.

Some politicians, angry about various clauses in the draft, are threatening
to rally their supporters to reject the new constitution when it goes before
voters in a referendum.

There are still a number of “parked” issues where there is no agreement on
issues such as devolution.

The Daily News heard yesterday the management committee — comprising three
of the six negotiators who drafted the global political agreement, Priscilla
Misihairabwi-Mushonga, Elton Mangoma and Nicholas Goche — on Monday ironed
out differences on issues such as land and citizenship.

Significantly, the draft constitution retains an executive president at a
time many Zimbabweans wanted a new constitution that will whittle down the
president’s powers, strengthen the role of Parliament, and guarantee civil
liberties, political and media reforms.

A new constitution for Zimbabwe is an integral part of a power-sharing deal
in 2008 after a disputed election erupted in widespread bloodshed.

Many Zimbabweans blamed the all-powerful presidency and long festering
governance issues for the violence, which killed more than 200 people,
according to the MDC and seriously dented Zimbabwe’s image.

The draft constitution completed on Monday proposes abolishing the post of
Prime Minister, for the second time. In 1987, the position of Prime Minister
was abolished through a constitutional amendment and Mugabe assumed the new
office of executive President of Zimbabwe gaining additional powers in the

Significantly, the draft Constitution removes prosecuting powers from the
attorney general who becomes only a legal advisor to the President while a
new National Prosecuting Authority is created.

The landmark change follows accusations that the current AG Johannes Tomana,
a member of Mugabe’s Zanu PF, has targeted political opponents in actions
that critics say threaten the rule of law and harms the integrity of the

Meanwhile, the draft Constitution retains the death penalty but only for
“aggravated murder.”

Civil rights activists had campaigned for an end to judicial executions.
Pope John Paul II, during a visit to Zimbabwe in 1998, appealed to the
government to abandon the death penalty, so has several churches here.

Several prisoners on death row have had their sentences commuted to life
imprisonment after the Supreme Court ruled it inhuman to delay their
execution. At Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison on the outskirts of Harare,
there are 50 convicts who have been condemned to death by hanging.

The draft constitution prohibits gay marriage despite spirited attempts by
the Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (Galz) to respect and uphold the rights of
all citizens despite sexual orientation as enshrined in the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights.

Although President Mugabe is unpopular for his economic policies, his
anti-gay stance resonates with many Zimbabweans.

But some Zanu PF elements have always wanted to have gay rights in the
constitution and the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act
(Aippa) which was crafted by political flip-flopper Jonathan Moyo to curtail
media freedom, recognises gay rights.

Mugabe was hoodwinked into signing it into law.

Even the constitutional pressure groups have failed to get Zimbabweans to
accept homosexuality. Activists rejected proposals to ban discrimination on
the basis of sexual orientation during four-month public consultations in

Meanwhile, the draft constitution still aspires to give women a good deal on
the question of gender parity in Parliament. While the draft acknowledges
50-50 representation, it also provides that Parliament shall not be rendered
unconstitutional by failure to meet the envisaged 50-50.

There has been a lot of rhetoric in support of women’s equal participation
in politics. But there are only 29 female parliamentarians in Zimbabwe.

The draft constitution, which was written mostly by a committee of
legislators and constitutional scholars, now moves to the second
all-stakeholders conference.

The first all-stakeholders conference held on July 13, 2009, degenerated
into chaos as riot police broke up clashes between rival delegates.

The constitution-making-process, like the inclusive government, has been
characterised by intense bickering, delays and frustrations.

Many Zimbabweans see a new constitution as the centerpiece of positive
change in the country — there has been popular demand for this reform going
back well before the 2002 presidential election.

Zimbabwe’s last draft constitution was soundly defeated in 2000.

Political leaders are linking this moment in Zimbabwe’s history to the
struggle for democracy, and to the determination to remove some of the
underlying causes for the 2008 election mayhem.

Yet, it is difficult to avoid the sense that the future of this project
hangs in the balance given the saber-rattling from Zanu PF.

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New constitution will not allow Zim exiles to vote

By Tichaona Sibanda
2 May 2012

The new constitution for Zimbabwe will still prevent individuals with dual
citizenship from voting in the next election,’ leading pro-democracy
activist Dewa Mavhinga said on Wednesday.

Millions of Zimbabweans have over the years been denied the right to
participate in national elections in Zimbabwe, having acquired citizenships
in their countries of exile.

Zimbabwe prohibits those with dual citizenship from voting. The new draft
that was presented to GPA negotiators on Monday by COPAC still contains a
clause that revokes Zimbabwean citizenship, if it is discovered the holder
is a citizen of another country

‘If a person acquired Zimbabwean citizenship by birth, having been presumed
to be such a citizen as provided in section 3, the citizenship may be
revoked if the person’s nationality or parentage becomes known, and reveals
that the person was a citizen of another country,’ reads a section from
Chapter 3 on Citizenship.

Mavhinga said it was clear there was no agreement on citizenship and that
the current Lancaster House constitution and the new draft favours the ZANU
PF position to prohibit dual citizenship.

It is expected that most of the contentious issues, like dual citizenship,
will only be dealt with after a new president has assumed office. ‘Although
a detailed legal analysis of the constitutional draft is pending there is
already emerging concern regarding a powerful executive president and the
fact that many of the unresolved issues are expected to be resolved by three
political principals.

‘The National Constitutional Assembly has also noted with concern that the
MDC formations had made too many concessions in this draft – such as on the
executive presidency, prohibition of dual citizenship, prohibition of gay
rights, prohibition of devolution, among other issues,’ Mavhinga said.

On Tuesday COPAC co-Chairman Douglas Mwonzora said the issue of dual
citizenship would be left to an Act of Parliament to determine.

Read the first consolidated draft constitution here:

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Mugabe banking on violence to win elections

By Tichaona Sibanda
2 May 2012

President Robert Mugabe’s determination to hold elections this year, with or
without a new constitution, is driven by fear that he will lose a poll held
under free and fair conditions, a political analyst said on Wednesday.

This assessment came as the ZANU PF politburo met in Harare on Wednesday to
study a draft copy of the new charter that was presented to GPA negotiators
on Monday. The meeting is also expected to tackle the implosion of violence
that has rocked the party since the holding of the controversial District
Coordinating Committee elections.

United States based analyst Dr Maxwell Shumba told SW Radio Africa’s Hidden
Story program that the rationale behind Mugabe’s insistence in having an
early poll, without reforms, was ‘very intriguing.’

‘Mugabe has been in power for 32 years and questions should be asked why he’s
not patient enough to wait just another year or few months to have elections
under a new constitution,’ Shumba said.

He added that a new constitution could help create a more level playing
field, something Mugabe does not want.

‘So what must he do to avoid that…have an election without a new
constitution because of his party’s ability to mobilise massive structures
of political violence against opponents in order to retain power,’ Shumba

‘When a politician has good policies for his country and people there is no
need to resort to political violence just to win elections. We’ve had the
GPA to bring about the needed change since the bloody 2008 elections. But
some political elements are in the process of wanting us as a country to
return to those ugly days in our history.

‘It’s also correct to note that the desperate nature of someone wanting
political power will not stop them from even sacrificing lives of human
beings like what they do in ZANU PF. They’ve tasted so much power that they
simply cannot let go of it, even if they lose elections. Look at the way
they’re bludgeoning each other following the DCC elections. It’s all about
wanting political power and wealth,’ Shumba said.

Shumba added that he’s hopeful the International Community is taking
cognizance of what is happening now in Zimbabwe, ahead of the pending
general elections. If ZANU PF can beat up people from their own party, what
can stop them from attacking their opponents.

‘What I know, and which I want people to be aware of is that, there are evil
plans that some politicians in ZANU PF are orchestrating to bring about
political unrest, especially when they have realized, that the people of
Zimbabwe have resolved to elect someone outside ZANU PF to be the next
leader of Zimbabwe

‘In this regard, it is crucial for organizations like SADC and the AU to
send monitors and check the pre- election period when violence is likely to
be most intense.’

In 2008 polling in many districts went ahead without the presence of a
single local, regional or continental observer. Both MDC formations have
pleaded with SADC to have observer delegations coordinating with one
another, to ensure that a broad distribution of observers is achieved in the
next election.

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Jonathan Moyo and Obert Mpofu bunking parliament

By Lance Guma
02 May 2012

Jonathan Moyo, the MP for Tsholotsho North, and Obert Mpofu, the MP for
Umguza, are said to top a list of ZANU PF and MDC MP’s bunking Parliamentary
sessions between September 2011 and March this year. Political turncoat Moyo
and Mines Minister Mpofu have not attended parliament for 21 consecutive

Out of 32 sittings held in 32 days Moyo only attended once. Although Mpofu
only sought two official leave of absences, he was absent 29 times. The
constitution says that if an MP “is absent for 21 consecutive sittings
during any session without the leave of Parliament, their seats shall become

This means both legislators should have lost their parliamentary seats by

Moyo and Mpofu are not the only errant MP’s. Other MP’s absent without leave
include Kembo Mohadi (29), Saviour Kasukuwere (24), Stanislaus Mudenge (28),
Didymus Mutasa (28), Webster Shamu (22) and Olivia Muchena (28) all from

From the two MDC formations Jameson Timba (29), Joel Gabbuza (19), Moses
Mzila Ndlovu (27) Tapiwa Mashakada (25) and Heneri Dzinotyiweyi (26).

The revelations will infuriate many ordinary Zimbabweans, given recent
proposals to expand parliament by another 90 MP’s, allegedly to accommodate

Clearly not too much serious business is being conducted by Parliament,
leading some to suggest it has become nothing more than a very expensive
white elephant.

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Moyo vows to continue parliament boycott

Boycotted ... MPs not pitching up for parliamentary debates

01/05/2012 00:00:00
by Staff Reporter

ZIMBABWE’S seventh Parliament is “dysfunctional”, Tsholotsho North MP Jonathan Moyo (Zanu PF) said on Tuesday as he defended his scant attendances.

Moyo has been named along with more than two dozen other legislators including Mines Minister Obert Mpofu (Zanu PF), Heneri Dzinotyiweyi (MDC-T), Jameson Timba (MDC-T), Stan Mudenge (Zanu PF), Didymus Mutasa (Zanu PF) and Joel Gabbuza (MDC-T) as top absconders from parliamentary meetings.

MPs who miss 21 consecutive parliamentary sittings without official leave can be expelled if half the legislature votes for the motion, according to parliamentary rules.

The privately-owned NewsDay newspaper reported Tuesday that Moyo attended just one of 32 sessions – on February 28 – since September 6 last year.

But the Clerk of Parliament, Austin Zvoma, the custodian of the parliamentary register, said the newspaper got it wrong, insisting: “With respect to Moyo, he has not missed 21 consecutive days and so he has not fallen foul of that provision.”

But far from retreating from his stance, Moyo vowed on Tuesday to CONTINUE his boycott.

"Look, the self-indulgent hullabaloo over this matter is coming from the usual desperate circles with nothing useful to offer and it is no better than a storm in a toilet,” Moyo said.

“My decision to make technical appearances in Parliament – which should have been dissolved some 18 months ago – is very deliberate and quite considered because I want to make a point about that fact.”

Moyo claimed he had found it “necessary and liberating to make technical appearances in Parliament”.

Since the formation of the power-sharing government in 2008, Moyo said a constitutional amendment meant that Bills were agreed at Cabinet level and sent to parliament for rubber-stamping – effectively usurping MPs’ powers.

This had reduced Parliament to an “idle body” where MPs turned up to pick up their US$75 per diems at each sitting while debating non-binding motions.

Moyo told New by telephone from Harare: “There are many occasions where you find Honourable Members taking the floor and declaring that this tribe is better than other tribes.

“If they are not doing that, they are calling for men to be ‘immobilised’ to curb their sexual appetite or the formation of a union for prostitutes.

“The question is: do you stand up and debate that Member and sink to their level, or do you just sit and listen? My view is neither of those are an option, you just stay away from the nonsense.”

Moyo, first elected to parliament in 2005 as an independent and again in 2008 before rejoining Zanu PF, said the seventh parliament was “the worst since Independence” because it lacked authority.

He said some parliamentary committees had scored decent successes in probing public officials, but insisted the vast majority of MPs were incapacitated by the Global Political Agreement which concentrated power in leaders of the country’s three main political parties.

The parliamentary boycott by dozens of other MPs from all the parties was evidence of growing disenchantment with the political order of the day, he said.

“I am glad that the desperate circles who are clinging to undeserved public offices for personal enrichment have finally noticed the point and I hope they will take it and support the holding of the delayed elections to produce the kind of Parliament and government that Zimbabwe needs and deserves,” he said.

“I say this because I am very clear about why I have found it necessary and liberating to make technical appearances in Parliament by attending only when it is absolutely necessary to do so, and I stand by my decision without any apology to anyone whatsoever.

“I believe my position is the best and the most rational thing to do given the dysfunctional circumstances of the Seventh Parliament which are as unprecedented and as unfortunate as the dysfunctional inclusive government arising from this Parliament.

“I am not going to change making technical appearances until this Parliament is dissolved as it should have been by now and anybody who has a problem with that should get a life and stop wasting time.

“The bottom line is that there's absolutely no need whatsoever for me or anyone else for that matter to go to Parliament everyday only to collect a $75 per diem to listen to Honourable Members trading abuse and insults without let, or to go there to be part of a captive audience to, or even to debate with MDC MPs who routinely use the floor of the House to denigrate national institutions and processes such as calling for evil sanctions against Zimbabwe with impunity and in gross violation of their oaths of loyalty taken in the same Parliament.

“That kind of time can be better spent elsewhere finding development solutions for my constituency and in that regard, I am very happy that, working with other like minded comrades over the last 24 months, we are on the verge of finalising an amazing gold mining initiative with a foreign investor in Tsholotsho which will empower the community by creating wealth and jobs for the youth and transforming Tsholotsho district into a vibrant town in the very foreseeable future.

“It takes a lot of time and effort to do this and it would be a tragedy to waste that time by just sitting in Parliament to listen to honourable members calling each other and their country's institutions and processes dishonourable names in the floor of the house."

Top Parliament Absconders [Number in brackets shows sittings missed out of 32]

» Tsholotsho North MP Jonathan Moyo (31)

» Mount Pleasant MP Jameson Timba (MDC-T) (29)

» Beitbridge East MP Kembo Mohadi (Zanu PF) (29)

» Mutoko South MP Olivia Muchena (Zanu PF) (28)

» Masvingo North MP Stanislaus Mudenge (Zanu PF) (28)

» Headlands MP Didymus Mutasa (Zanu PF) (28)

» Bulilima West MP Moses Mzila Ndlovu (MDC) (27)

» Budiriro MP Heneri Dzinotyiweyi (MDC-T) (26)

» Hatfield MP Tapiwa Mashakada (MDC-T) (25)

» Mount  Darwin South MP Saviour Kasukuwere (Zanu PF) (24)

» Chegutu East MP Webster Shamu (Zanu PF) (22)

» Binga MP Joel Gabbuza (MDC-T) (19)

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Row over gold mine sucks in Mugabe's man

Written by Lloyd Mbiba, Staff Writer
Wednesday, 02 May 2012 15:42

HARARE - An ownership row over a gold mine in Kwekwe has sucked in one of
President Robert Mugabe’s top man as the fight for rich pickings exposes how
the indigenisation programme is hollow.

Workers being evicted from Kwekwe Consolidated Gold Mine  (KCGM) say Air
Vice Marshal (AVM) Henry Muchena, who retired as a military commander to
concentrate on campaigning for Mugabe ahead of watershed elections to be
held most likely next year, is pushing his weight to worsen their plight.

The mine is at the centre of a dispute, with Australian national Lee Waverly
John currently in court for allegedly taking over the mine illegally. While
the matter is pending at the courts, a political twist has emerged.

Workers say Muchena is using his political clout and background as a former
top military commander to protect John, while an Australian newspaper also
claims that Mugabe has stepped in to protect the embattled miner.

The matter is now playing out at Zanu PF headquarters in Harare, with the
court case becoming a side show. Zanu PF national chairman Simon Khaya Moyo
confirmed handling the matter a fortnight ago before taking it up to party
vice president John Nkomo. Worker representatives, some living in the open
after being evicted from the mine compound, approached Khaya Moyo and asked
him to rein-in Muchena during a meeting at
Zanu PF headquarters.

“Yes I met them but the matter is now at the vice president’s office,” said
Khaya Moyo, refusing to divulge too many details.

The mine’s Workers Trust chairperson Cleopas Chipangura told the Daily News
yesterday that they are yet to meet with Nkomo or people from his office.

He said the workers took the step to approach Khaya Moyo after realising
that top Zanu PF officials were using their influence. The workers, he said,
told Khaya Moyo that Muchena was blocking their efforts to remain at the
mine and possibly be allowed to mine through a trust they have formed.

“We told him (Khaya Moyo) that as workers we are suffering most from this
fighting and what makes it worse is that the AVM (Muchena) is frustrating us
yet he is supposed to be part of Zanu PF leaders fighting for the
downtrodden like us.

“It defeats the whole purpose of indigenisation and we wanted Zanu PF to do
something about this. We are weak and should be protected but as we speak
some of our colleagues are being thrown out and are living in the open,”
said Chipangura.

In a sign of how fights over business opportunities have set brother against
brother in Zanu PF, Buhera North MP, William Mutomba is also involved in the

Mutomba is seeking to force (KCGM) to renew a mining agreement which expired
on February 3, 2012 claiming  his company Midkwe had sunk in over $600 000
into Chaka plant, a part of the mining operations and could therefore not be
forced out of the project. John, whose ownership of KCGM is under dispute
but enjoys the protection of Muchena, according to workers, has refused to
allow Mutomba back in.

Efforts by Mutomba to reach out to Muchena have so far failed as the former
soldier has largely ignored his overtures.

“Mutomba frantically tried to get hold of Muchena in order to discuss the
issue with him but was ignored. He ended up paying a visit to the Zanu PF
headquarters where he met a Major General Shungu to whom he told of his
predicament,” said a source.

Muchena refused to speak to the Daily News when contacted for comment while
Mutomba said he would rather pursue the matter “quietly” away from the

The Australian newspaper added another dimension to the issue when it
claimed Mugabe personally sided with John.

Quoting unnamed sources, the paper claimed that John’s representatives met
with Mugabe last week to outline the campaign waged against him by Mutomba.

Senior officials from Mugabe’s office were despatched to secure John’s
release from Harare Central Prison on Thursday morning, the paper claimed.

Presidential spokesperson George Charamba said he was unaware of such a
meeting or arrangements.

Khaya Moyo also said he was unaware of Mugabe’s personal intervention in the

The Kwekwe saga is just part of a bigger problem.

Recent reports showed how small scale gold miners in Manicaland were being
forced off their claims by Zanu PF officials and youths who claimed to be
new owners on the basis of the indigenisation programme, oblivious of the
irony that they are taking the same claims from fellow blacks.

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Chief Defies Charumbira Over Farm Seizure

Harare, May 02, 2012-A Zimbabwean traditional leader has defied a rebuke by
Chiefs Council president Fortune Charumbira to vacate a farm which he
invaded in Mashonaland Central province.

According to a memorandum written by the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP)’s
Internal Security and Intelligence (PISI), Chief Chiweshe recently seized
Heyshot farm in the rich Glendale farming area of Mashonaland Central
The farm is owned by John Sole.
Police say Chiweshe whose real name is is Joseph Chigariro led the farm
occupation with the assistance of his aides who camped at the productive
farm for several days while executing the farm seizure.
Police say Chief Charumbira, who is also a ZANU PF member had failed to
dissuade Chief Chiweshe from seizing the farm.
The law enforcement agents hit out at Chief Chiweshe and accused him of
being greedy as he was already in occupation of another farm located in
Mvurwi in the same province which he reportedly underutilised.
“This is just a clear act of greediness. He should direct his efforts
towards ensuring that his Nhangura farm becomes productive than trying to
acquire all land that he perceives to be productive,” the police said in
their memorandum.
The police said they were monitoring the incident at Sole’s farm which
becomes the latest property to be seized at a time when President Robert
Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s coalition government declared
a moratorium on farm seizures.
Critics blame the land grab exercise which began in 2000 for the collapse of
the country’s once vibrant agricultural sector while some ZANU PF supporters
defend the seizures as necessary to correct colonial imbalances.

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War vets besiege Biti office and threaten to beat him up

By Lance Guma
02 May 2012

ZANU PF’s reliance on violence and intimidation was displayed on Monday when
suspected war vets and party militia besieged the offices of Finance
Minister Tendai Biti, threatening to beat him up for allegedly not
respecting Mugabe.

Incensed by reports that Biti had said Mugabe should be confined to an old
people’s home, the mob waved banners written “Biti show the President
respect”. More worrying for the media in the country, the war vets even
threatened to burn down independent newspapers for encouraging ‘Biti’s
campaign against Mugabe’.

Speaking to the Daily News newspaper Biti said he respected Mugabe in the
same way he respected Tsvangirai, as principals in the government. The MDC-T
Secretary General went on to say: “Just last week I was in a
three-hour-meeting with the President and we had beautifully-made chicken
and pancakes.”

Biti also went on to talk about how he was the “product of the good
education” under Mugabe’s government soon after independence. “He educated
us to offer different views and I am part of that generation he should be
proud of. The President did not educate us to be imbeciles, slavish and
engage in moronic behaviour,” Biti said in clear reference to the mob that
besieged his offices.

It’s not the first time war vets and ZANU PF militia have besieged Biti’s

Following a bust up between Biti and Mugabe in a meeting last year, a petrol
bomb was thrown at the durawall of his house and ZANU PF sponsored  many
demonstrations at his office. In June last year hundreds of war vets held
Biti and his office workers hostage from 11am until early evening, singing
derogatory songs against Biti and his MDC-T party. The crowd, which
initially gathered at the ZANU PF provincial offices along Fourth Street in
central Harare, marched to Biti’s office building under a police escort.

Two weeks before this incident another group of war vets surrounded Biti’s
offices demanding that he sign a petition calling for lifting of targeted
western sanctions against Robert Mugabe and his cronies.

It’s not just war vets who threaten him. A senior police chief asked
traditional chiefs and headmen in Murewa to generate lighting to kill Biti,
claiming civil servants will never get a decent wage as long as he is
Finance Minister.

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Mugabe to chair tense Zanu PF indaba

John Nyashanu - News day 6 hours 33 minutes ago

President Robert Mugabe is tomorrow expected to chair a potentially tense
politburo meeting to mend fissures threatening to rip Zanu PF apart
following shambolic party district co-ordinating committee (DCC) elections
in some parts of the country.

Zanu PF political commissar Webster Shamu has been ordered to submit a
report to the Politburo on the extreme cases of intra-party violence and
discontent that have dominated the party DCC elections in Masvingo and
Manicaland provinces.

Party spokesperson Rugare Gumbo yesterday confirmed the DCC saga would be
high on the agenda at the potentially explosive politburo meeting.

The issue of DCC elections will be discussed at the politburo meeting
tomorrow. The political commissar was tasked to come up with a report on how
the situation prevails and we will take it up from there, he said.

The politburo position on the matter follows reports of vote-rigging,
imposition of candidates and a litany of other irregularities deemed
inconsistent with democratic elections in the two provinces last month.

At Shumba Primary School in Nyajena, Masvingo, police reportedly fired
gunshots as the clashes escalated last week on Saturday. Classroom windows
were smashed following the running battles.

Two days earlier, party supporters had allegedly engaged in fist-fights at a
country club in Nyanga again over the DCC election results.

The clashes followed demonstrations by rival factions at the Zanu PF
headquarters in Mutare last month as some accused provincial chairperson
Mike Madiro of vote-rigging and imposition of candidates.

According to party insiders, the fissures centred on factions reportedly led
by Vice-President Joice Mujuru and Defence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, who
are said to be leaving no stone unturned to position their allies in
strategic positions in all party structures.

The two are perceived as front runners to succeed 88-year-old Mugabe who has
been in power since independence in 1980.

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Air Zimbabwe Resumes Domestic Flights With Only 3 Passengers

02 May 2012

Gibbs Dube | Washington

After suspending operations early this year due to viability problems, Air
Zimbabwe resumed domestic flights on Wednesday with one of its planes flying
from Bulawayo to the capital, Harare, with only three passengers.

State Enterprises Minister Gorden Moyo confirmed the flight, but said he was
surprised the airline had resumed operations when the government is still
looking for an investor to partner the company, saddled with a $140 million

The airline’s Boeing 737-600, with a capacity of 126 passengers, left
Bulawayo with only three people on board. Air Zimbabwe is planning to have
three flights a week between Harare, Victoria Falls and Bulawayo.

Moyo cautioned the move may backfire as the national airline does not yet
have the capacity to embark on such operations due to lack of funds and a
crippling debt.

Independent economic commentator Rejoice Ngwenya said Air Zimbabwe should
abandon the flights, calling them unproductive. “This is a foolish move that
will worsen the airline’s financial problems,” said Ngwenya.

A U.S. aviation firm last December impounded one of Air Zimbabwe’s
international commercial aircraft in London for non-payment of a US$1.2
million debt.

The seizure followed the impounding of an Air Zimbabwe Boeing 737-500 by
South Africa’s Bid Air Services over a US$500,000 debt for ground services

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Matombo attacks MDC

Written by Chengetai Zvauya and Ivan Zhakata
Wednesday, 02 May 2012 15:38

HARARE - Lovemore Matombo, president of a faction of the Zimbabwe Congress
of Trade Unions (ZCTU), yesterday accused Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai
and his MDC of fuelling factionalism within the ZCTU.

Matombo, said this while addressing hundreds of workers gathered in Harare
Gardens to commemorate Workers Day.

He described Tsvangirai’s and the minister of Labour Paurina Mpariwa’s
absence at their festivities as the highest order of betrayal to the workers
by the MDC leaders.

Tsvangirai, Mpariwa and several of his party officials attended the main May
Day celebrations organised by the George Nkiwane-led ZCTU at Gwanzura

“We invited the PM and minister Mpariwa to attend our gathering but they
have decided not to attend for the reasons known to them. We understand that
the PM was at Gwanzura Stadium attending the Nkiwane and Japhet Moyo ZCTU
gathering,” said Matombo.

The theme of their celebrations was: “Workers Unite, Restore your Dignity
and Achieve Poverty Datum Line (PDL)”.

He said the Nkiwane gathering was a political rally not a workers’ day

“We know that MDC was mobilising their supporters to attend the address by

“I understand yesterday MDC organising secretary Nelson Chamisa was giving
instructions to their party supporters who are workers not to come to Harare
Gardens but to go to Gwanzura Stadium,” said Matombo.

Dino Mudondo, Daiton Somanje and Raymond Majongwe’s Freedom Orchestra
entertained workers who attended the Harare Gardens event.

Harare Residents Trust, Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (Zimrights) and
National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) were among some of the civic
organisations who attended the commemoration.

Matombo claimed that he was informed by other MDC senior leaders that their
party has taken a resolution in their meeting not to support any ZCTU
faction. He also said that they were expecting the MDC to remain neutral and
act as mediators to resolve factionalism in ZCTU.

Tsvangirai is a former ZCTU secretary general.

The MDC is a brainchild of the labour movement. It is from this movement
that the majority of MDC leaders come from.

Raymond Majongwe who is the secretary-general of the Matombo-led faction had
no kind words for Tsvangirai.

“We were beaten and tortured by the police and the Central Intelligence
Organisation (CIO) claiming that we were working for MDC now you will be
receiving reports that we are working for the CIO and this is causing the
confusion within the workers.

“I don’t remember a day when Nkiwane and Moyo were taken by the police. They
didn’t even attend the workers’ marches and demonstrations but they are now
claiming to be the champions of the workers’ rights,” said an enraged

Matombo said they will be announcing soon the day they are going to
demonstrate and march to force employers to pay their workers a PDL wage of
$546 per month.

The two factions are involved in a legal battle for control of the labour
union with both factions claiming to be the legitimate union.

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Police have cowed workers: ZCTU

Zimbabwean workers continue to suffer poor working conditions but are not
free to air their grievances due to the heavy handedness of the police, the
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions said ahead of this year’s Workers Day
by Fungi Kwaramba

ZCTU Secretary General, Japhet Moyo, told The Zimbabwean workerswere still
underpaid but could not openly express their grievances for fear the
excessive use of force by the police.

“It is time we devised other ways of protesting because of what happened in
the past where leaders were beaten by the police. Even today, they (victims
of police brutality) walk with the scars and, as a result, the workers are
reluctant to join a strike because they fear the consequences,” said Moyo.
In 2006 President Mugabe’s government instilled fear into the masses after
his police severely assaulted the ZCTU leadership, including veteran trade
unionists Lovemore Matombo, Lucia Matibenga, now a Cabinet Minister, and
former Secretary General, Wellington Chibebe.

Since then, workers have not organised a successful strike and the police
have been swift to arrest those who have attempted to turn to the streets to
voice their plight.

The ZCTU estimates that over 80 percent of the country’s population is
unemployed and those that are in formal employment are receiving poor
salaries and wages.

“The State has destabilised the workers and, as a union, we must come up
with ways to confront the system. We should not be scared forever. With
time, we are going to devise ways which will enable us to challenge the
system,” vowed Moyo.

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Solve Problems In Soweto First: ZCTU’s Moyo Tells Mbeki

Harare, May 02, 2012 - Former South African President and mediator to the
unity government Thabo Mbeki has been castigated for pretending to be
helping the University of Zimbabwe when Zimbabwe through President Robert
Mugabe is splashing hundreds of thousands of dollars to South African
universities every year, something that does not help local institutions,
the ZCTU secretary general said.

Addressing workers at the May Day celebrations Japhet Moyo, ZCTU secretary
general castigated Mbeki's involvement in raising donations for the
University of Zimbabwe when his ally Mugabe is using thousands of state
funds to sponsor students with links to his ZANU PF party at a time when the
UZ has been in the doldrums.
"Two days ago, we hear the former President of South Africa was at the
University of Zimbabwe raising money for the university. You know that we
have a presidential scholarship. Today we pay a lot of money to South
African universities. When we say our children must go to South African
universities, we will be looking forward that those who benefit are children
from parents who cannot afford college fees," Moyo said at Gwanzura stadium
during part of the workers day commemorations.
"But those that are going to South African universities are children of
Ministers. If you are not from ZANU PF, you cannot benefit. We are now
seeing banks like FBC and others falling over each other to pledge to Thabo
Mbeki. But we see that bank employees were refused transport to gather here
for this day. Banks refused to pay any donation for this day but they donate
millions to Thabo Mbeki."
"Why does Mbeki come to help us when there is poverty in Soweto. What did he
do about the poverty in Soweto when he was president in South Africa. He
must go back to resolve issues in South Africa, we can do our things alone
in Zimbabwe. We don't need him," Moyo added.
Mbeki, the chief architect of the Global Political Agreement and a confessed
admirer of Mugabe has been accused of siding with the 88 year old Mugabe's
ZANU PF party during the negotiations to form a unity government.
Mbeki's critics say problems in the unity government over reforms were
deliberately crafted by Mbeki in Mugabe's favour. The former South African
leader was ousted by the ANC congress which ushered Jacob Zuma to lead
Africa's leading economy.
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai addressing the same gathering appealed to
two factions of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) to unite and
fight for workers rights at a time when the biggest labour movement is
riddled by divisions.
"We know that today there are factions. Factions are there in politics but
you cannot have factions in workers unions. The working class cannot be
divided on the basis of personalities. The working class will always be
united on the basis of class interests," Tsvangirai said at Gwanzura stadium
in Highfield suburb where the George Nkiwane faction of the MDC was
celebrating workers day.
The other faction of the ZCTU is being led by Lovemore Matombo.
"It’s very imperative that this day unites us than it divides us as workers.
I want to appeal very much to the leaders, some that I have very high
respect for that they must come back and unite, that is the only way the
interest of the workers of this country can be tackled through one voice and
one unity."

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Top cop, banker fight over gold mine

Written by Everson Mushava, Staff Writer
Wednesday, 02 May 2012 15:25

HARARE - Top police officers have been implicated in a dispute over a gold
mine in Kadoma targeting local businessman Patterson Timba.

Details emerging in court show how hired thugs used violence and police used
their offices to forcibly take over the gold mine from Timba.

According to court papers, Charles Mufandaedza, a commissioner in the force
sanctioned a violent and illegal takeover of Glencairn Mine on April 5 on
behalf of another local businessman Jameson Rushwaya.

Timba says Mufandaedza is abusing his office and has “interests” in the gold

Timba is now suing Mufandaedza and his boss, police commissioner-general
Augustine Chihuri, co-Home Affairs ministers Kembo Mohadi and Theresa
Makone, the messenger of court for Kadoma Otten Tsongorani and the couple
who illegally took over his mine, Rushwaya and his wife Anne.

Kadoma district officer-in-charge Manzini Moyo has not been spared legal

In his founding affidavit, Timba alleges that the messenger of court and “40
to 50 youths” invaded the mine on the instruction of Mufandaedza and changed
all the locks at the premises, inserted a new set of locks and subsequently
handed over the keys to Rushwaya.

“I struggle to comprehend how this matter may involve a commissioner of the
police unless the commissioner is involved in a hazy and clearly unlawful

“I have never understood the position of the law to be that a commissioner
of the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) can have the unlawful entitlement to
issue orders to a messenger of court,” said Timba in his founding affidavit.

According to Timba, about 600 grammes of gold were also stolen by officials
from the messenger of court and despite making a police report, nothing has
been recovered and no arrest has been made.

“The police officers in Kadoma have made me to understand that there are
standing though informal orders from Commissioner Mufandaedza to the effect
that no arrest is to be made to 1st and 2nd respondents (Rushwaya and his
wife) and their allies,” said Timba.

He said the police were being used to subvert his rights.

According to Timba, Mufandaedza had been frequenting the mine over the
Easter Holidays when the mine has been invaded by Rushwaya, raising
suspicion that he could have been promised a stake by Rushwaya.

“It seems also that the Dispol (district police commander) for the Kadoma
district has been incapacitated by commissioner Mufandaedza,” said Timba.

“Furthermore, Mufandaendza has in the past caused my arrest at the instance
of 1st and 2nd respondents even under circumstances when the attorney
general indicated that I had committed no crime only for the charges to fall
in court,” said Timba.

Timba’s lawyers, Scanlen and Holderness, in an urgent chamber application
heard on March 16 this year, sought a relief order to bar Rushwaya from
interfering with the affairs of the mine because he sold his shares to Timba
last year and should be waiting for his payment without interfering with
mine operations.

Justice Felistas Chatukuta is presiding over the matter.

She is still yet to rule on the urgent chamber case two weeks on.

“Furthermore, the involvement of the 4th Respondent (Mufandaedza) in itself
gives rise to urgency, as the need arises to immediately curb the abuse of
office being perpetrated.

“It is alleged that messenger of court has the backing of the 4th respondent
with the latter exhibiting interest going beyond his constitutional mandate
in visiting the mine after the dispossession took place,” Timba’s lawyers

Glencairn Mine has been at the centre of an ownership wrangle between Timba
and Rushwaya since last year.

Timba claims Rushwaya failed to settle a bank loan which he settled himself
as a way of “assisting a Christian brother.”

Timba did not take over Rushwaya’s 23 percent shareholding in the mine and
Rushwaya remained the man on the ground.

But Timba, after realising Rushwaya was misappropriating funds, resolved to
buy off Rushwaya’s shares and assumed full control of the mine last year,
according to court papers.

After a series of litigations, an agreement was made for Rushwaya to sell
his shares to Timba, a majority shareholder with 61 percent shares in the
mining concern through his company Swimming Pool and Under Water Repair
Private Limited.

The agreement also meant that Rushwaya would transfer mining claims he had
“fraudulently” transferred to the name of his wife Anne. Rushwaya then made
an about turn and tried to muscle Timba out of the mine but High Court Judge
Joseph Musakwa last year awarded the mine to Timba and barred Rushwaya from
accessing it.

But on February 18 this year, Rushwaya instructed management at the mine to
prepare his return to the mine and resorted to illegal means to assume
control of the mine, according to Timba’s founding affidavit.

In his defence, Rushwaya said he still controls the mine because Timba has
not yet paid him the money for the shares and the agreement of sale is
therefore null and void.

He denied hiring a mob saying it was Timba who was trying to cause commotion
at the mine.

Tsongorani denied working on the orders of Mufandaedza saying he was doing
his duties.

Mufandaedza is yet to respond to the court application.

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Zim envoy defies recall

Written by Gift Phiri, Chief Writer
Wednesday, 02 May 2012 15:34

HARARE - A recalled diplomat at the Zimbabwe embassy in Australia, Felix
Nyamupinga, who allegedly framed MDC diplomat Jacqueline Zwambila, has
refused to return home.

Nyamupinga, husband to Zanu PF Goromonzi MP Biata Nyamupinga, remains
ensconced in Canberra after he was recalled by the ministry of Foreign
Affairs ostensibly on health and retirement reasons.

Joey Bimha, Foreign Affairs permanent secretary promised to return our call
but had not done so at the time of going to Press. His mobile remained

Nyamupinga, the former counsellor at the Zimbabwe mission in Canberra, was
alleged to be part of staff at the embassy in Canberra that wanted
ambassador Zwambila, a member of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC, to

They allegedly concocted a litany of incredible stories on the Zimbabwean
envoy, that she stripped naked in front of male embassy staff in protest at
the leaking of information to a state controlled newspaper in Harare and
that a butler at the embassy Felix Machiridza had accused the envoy of
sexual abuse.

Ambassador Zwambila was briefly recalled to Harare for a disciplinary
hearing but she was cleared of any wrongdoing and reinstated back at her

Foreign Affairs then recalled Nyamupinga and Machiridza back to Harare, but
they have defied the directive amid reports they have applied for asylum in
Australia using a bridging or humanitarian visa, according to Canberra
sources. We could not independently verify this.

Meanwhile, the Goromonzi MP was said to be against her husband's return and
was said to have lobbied the Public Service Commission to block her
husband's return.

While diplomat Nyamupinga could not be reached in Canberra, his wife poured
cold water on claims that he had refused to come home.

She however admitted that she had written to the Public Service Commission
(PSC), but only to complain “as a mother” that her husband had been removed
from salary after he was discharged on health grounds.

She insisted he never applied for asylum.

“Felix is over 60 years, he is not a young man and nearing retirement,
angazvikwanise zvekugeza chembere,” Nyamupinga told the Daily News

“Why would he seek asylum, he has communicated with his employer about his
continued stay there. I wrote to the PSC because I was pained with his
removal from salary, not to block his return, how can I block my husband
from returning home? I queried as a mother,” she said.

Nyamupinga said her husband, who worked for government for 31 years, would
not have shipped his things back home if he was contemplating asylum, and
said he was under doctors’ observation to stay there
under “close monitoring.”

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Binga Community Radio Station Raises Eyebrows

Binga, May 02, 2012-Civil organisations have described government’s move to
establish a Tonga community radio station in Binga as a political gimmick
aimed at bolstering Zanu (PF)’s propaganda in the MDC dominated area ahead
of the anticipated elections later this year.

Transmedia Corporation (Pvt) Ltd chief executive officer, Florence
Sigudu –Matambo on Wednesday told state media that  her organisation had
embarked on a transmission upgrading project in the area that would pave way
for  the setting up of not only  the first  community radio station   in the
area, but  in Zimbabwe.
“We stand guided by the wishes of the Binga community. If they want a
community radio station, we are ready to provide them with training on how
to produce their own local programming .This is the initiative of Minister
of Information and Publicity Webster Shamu following his discussions with
Binga local leadership,” said Matambo.
The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Director, Nhlanhla Ngwenya
said the government has no business in setting up community radio stations.
“The government‘s role is to facilitate a conducive environment for
communities to set up their own radio stations.
“MISA and other organisations have been fighting for the opening up of the
airwaves including the setting up of community radio stations but the
government has not been willing. Why this sudden interest in Binga when
scores of community radio initiatives throughout  the country are queuing to
be licensed,” said Ngwenya in an interview with Radio VOP.
The Secretary of Ibhetshulikazulu, a local pressure group, Fuzayo Mbuso said
it is clear that the government sponsored Binga community radio station is a
political gimmick.
“Why has Tran media not been guided by the wishes of radio initiatives such
as Radio Dialogue, Radio VOP and many more who have been denied licences to
operate radio stations in this country?
“The government through the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Authority (BAZ) should
simply allow more players to compete in the broadcasting sector. This
current situation where the government is both the referee and the players
is unacceptable,” said Mbuso.
A Binga councillor, Joe Mudenda said he is surprised that the government is
coming up with a parallel community radio station when the community has
already its own.
“This proposed community radio station came as result of a meeting which
minister Shamu had with Zanu (PF) officials and chiefs early this year.
“Nobody was consulted and if the consultations were made, the people were
going to simply reject this government sponsored radio station because we
already have our own community radio initiative which is waiting to be
licensed. This project is a Zanu (PF) propaganda tool,” said Mudenda.
He added that 20 Zanu (PF) activists in the area have already been
identified to undergo training for the community radio station which Matambo
said should be operational by the end of this month.

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Informal traders boom as companies close

Backyard industries are giving some businesses a run for their money, a
survey by The Zimbabwean has shown.
by Clayton Masekesa

Between 2007 and 2009 Mutare Board and Paper Mills, Zimboard and Plate Glass
among other companies in the city closed down while Tanganda Holdings, Cains
Foods, Wattle Company and Border Timbers scaled down operations, leaving
scores of workers jobless.

John Hukuimwe (48), a former glass fitter of the closed Plate Glass Mutare,
is one of the many informal traders that were now competing with registered
companies. A shop owner in Mutare’s city centre,Shaquil Ahmed, complained he
had been pushed out of business.

“Informal traders sell the same wares I sell right in front of my shop,” he

A restaurant owner, FaraiZinyemba, admitted facing stiff competition from
the unlicensed vendors which had seen his business going down. He asked
council to rescue formal businesses like his by arresting those operating

The Mutare City Council Town Clerk, ObertMuzawazi,who blamed non-existent
sanctions for closure of companies in his city, said shop owners were
refusing to pay rates because of an influx of un-registered back yard

Muzawazi said council was encouraging informal businesses to grow and had
decided to empower them through provision of properly built market stalls or
incubators. He said such a move would benefit the city.

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Mugabe unpopular with most: Gallup

President Robert Mugabe is one of the least popular leaders in Africa and is
ranked lowly by his own people, according to a 2011 poll by the
internationally esteemed Gallup World organisation.

Mugabe, Zanu (PF)’s First Secretary, is the party’s chosen candidate in the
next general election, which he insists should be held this year despite
strong local and international opposition. Gallup’s survey puts Mugabe third
from the bottom on a list of 34 countries. Only Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal
and Angola’s Eduardo dos Santos, who came last, are worse than him.

Only 36% of the Zimbabwean population approves of Mugabe’s leadership,
according to Gallup - a distant rating from the 81% enjoyed by Botswana’s
Ian Khama, who is the most popular leader in southern Africa.

In Botswana, only 19% of the population disapproved of Khama’s leadership,
while 73% gave the overall leadership the thumbs up.

“The President’s and Country Leadership ratings are the highest among
surveyed countries in the SADC region, as well as being well above both the
African and global average,” said Jeff Ramsay, the Botswana government

The annual survey, done through face-to-face interviews with citizens of the
respective countries, determines popularity of national and institutional
leaders of countries around the globe and sampled 142 countries.

While “the state of the local economy does have an influence on Africans’
assessments of their country’s leader, other factors are also at play” says

In the majority of African countries, the rating of the heads of state was
proportional to that of the national leadership, but, says Gallup, Zimbabwe
was different.

The national leadership represented by top officials in the coalition
government set up in early 2009 as a compromise between Zanu (PF) and the
two MDC formations, performed better than Mugabe.

Even though in Africa people tend to rate their head of state’s performance
more highly than they rate that of the country’s general leadership,
Zimbabwe is different, according to the survey findings.

“Zimbabwean residents give higher marks to the country’s general leadership
than to the president. This suggests that they credit improvements in their
lives more to the actions of the broader unity government in fighting
hyperinflation than those of their head of state,’’ said Gallup.

Gallup says 43% of the adult population are unlikely to view Mugabe as a
popular leader in the future, preferring the overall leadership instead,
while those that would still approve him remained at 36%.

“Governance issues, such as the honesty of elections and the judicial
system, seem to matter much more in the eyes of most Africans. Other
factors, such as political apathy, may play a role as many may not be
interested in political affairs and tacitly approve of their leader’s
performance,” said Gallup.

Poll findings

Approve %

Botswana - Ian khama 81

Moz - Armando Guebuza 64

Mauritius - Navin Ramgoolam 67

Kenya - Mwai Kibaki 62

Swaziland - King Mswati III 56

Zambia - Rupiah Banda* 47

DRC - Joseph Kabila 43

Malawi - Bingu wa Mutharika* 36

Zimbabwe - Robert Mugabe 36

Senegal - Abdulaye Wade* 30

Angola - Eduardo dos Santos 16

*No longer in office

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Despite Legislative Safeguards, Domestic Violence Remains High in Zimbabwe

01 May 2012

Tatenda Gumbo | Washington

Domestic violence against women remains a major problem in Zimbabwe despite
legislative safeguards adopted six years ago, and concerted efforts by the
government and lobby groups to curb the scourge.

In a survey by the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency, some 30 percent of
women said they had experienced physical violence since the age of 15, a
figure slightly lower than statistics recorded in 2005.

Eighteen percent of respondents reported experiencing physical violence
within the past 12 months. Many said the violence was "perpetrated by a
current or former partner or boyfriend."

Responding to the high incidence of domestic abuse, the government enacted
the Domestic Violence Act in 2006 amid cheers from advocates, but six years
down the line, critics say the law say the law has not lived up to

The law criminalizes different forms of abuse, including physical abuse,
sexual, emotional, verbal, psychological and economic abuse.

The women affairs ministry is pushing for zero tolerance against domestic
abuse, demanding adequate protection.

Coordinator Glanis Changachirere of the Institute for Young Women
Development told VOA cultural practices are exacerbating the problem, urging
government to plug traditional loopholes that expose women to abuse.

Changachirere said the cultural practices included lobola, or bride price
where a man feels entitled to his wife, adding "men still perceive women as
minors; they still want to be above in terms of making decisions, and they
want to be listened to by women."

Director Irene Petras of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights concurred,
saying cultural views continue to be a problem.

"In having those proper systems in place and being able to resort to the
system, so that the police and law enforcement are able to do what they need
to do," said Petras, "women and other victims of domestic violence would
feel comfortable and confident in reporting cases."

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Harmonise Zimbabwe’s marriage laws before changing marriage certificates

By Sibusisiwe Ndlovu – Bhebhe

IN the latter half of 2011 government through the ministry of Justice and
legal affairs announced that it was making moves to harmonise Zimbabwe’s
long criticised marriage laws. This would see every Zimbabwean marriage
being recognised under one act and the same rights and limitations being
applied to all marriages by the proposed law. Zimbabwe’s law currently
recognises three kinds of unions, the civil marriage, the registered
customary marriage and the unregistered customary union and these have
brought more confusion than the freedom of choice to users.

In its move to review these laws the ministry stated that research was being
conducted in selected districts of Zimbabwe to determine the type of
marriages prevalent in Zimbabwe and identify the challenges which
communities face in registering marriages. While the results of this
research are yet to be revealed, one is compelled to assume that the
unregistered customary unions may top the list. This presumption rises from
the fact that civil and registered unions can only be solemnised by state
registered marriage officers and these are not always available in the
remote parts of Zimbabwe where the majority of the population resides. Also
judging from the number of legal disputes over property rights, inheritance
and estates of deceased persons, it is possible that a great number of
married people may not be married under the civil union or may simply not
understand their rights under these laws.

Furthermore,  according to the Development Centre’s Social Institutions and
Gender index, more than 80 percent of Zimbabwe’s rural households are
counted among the unregistered customary marriages. It is quite interesting
though that the Registrar General’s (RG) office has moved faster to amend
its civil marriage procedures than the ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs
to harmonising marriage laws. Recently the RG’s office halted civil
marriages countrywide to make way for a new system of registering marriages
and a marriage certificate with special security features. Many have lauded
the move stating that it will protect citizens intending to get married
especially to foreign nationals and women who have often fallen prey to con

The new procedure requires those intending to marry to submit their full
names and identity particulars plus passport size photographs and thumb
finger prints on the day of the wedding. The witnesses to the union also
need to give their full names and identification details. In the case of
foreign nationals wishing to marry Zimbabweans, they need to produce a
police clearance document absolving them of any past criminal activity or
conviction in their home country. This will in no doubt compel couples to
take time to think about the process and their need for marrying before they
say the “I dos”, but may not necessarily reduce the number of marriages of
convenience and the union of locals to ex-convicts from other countries.

In the last decade an influx of foreigners marrying local women and men for
the convenience of gaining citizenship and easy access to local business
opportunities has made ordinary citizens and leaders wary of the laxity
marriage laws. This has seen many being taken advantage of or even losing
their their property when their spouses for example choose to move to
another country. Zimbabwe’s rigid citizenship laws also have the potential
to negatively affect those, especially women, in trans-national unions as
battles of who gains custody of the children in cases  of divorce or
relocation may arise.

The RG’s explanation that police clearance letters will help reduce unions
with former criminals, places the need to ‘protect’ citizens directly above
one’s freedom to choose whom they want to marry. While little explanation
has been given as to what reprieve ex-convicts have to marry a Zimbabwean,
the RG’s office is in a way limiting Zimbabweans’ choices on who to settle
down with. Locals may not decidedly chose to marry someone who has a
criminal record no matter how rehabilitated they maybe because of the fear
that he or she may not be allowed to marry them.

Given these new requirements for formalising marriage, some couples may end
up choosing to remain unmarried or use the unregistered customary marriage
laws which could turn out to be more problematic. Clearly these new changes
show just how discriminatory Zimbabwe’s marriage laws are because the civil
union has once again been fortified while the registered and unregistered
customary unions remain open to abuse. A formalised marriage does not only
offer psychological protection, but also the protection of property as one
knows that whatever is purchased while they are in that union will be
recognised as belonging to both parties. It also helps protect the rights of
the surviving spouse in the case of death as it will help settle any estate
disputes faster than if people were just living together without
officialising the relationship.

Despite the many efforts government is making to ensure protection of people
getting married, this protection does not seem to be filtering through to
the marriage institution itself as some marriage laws still recognised in
the country still men more power than women in a relationship. For example,
under the registered customary marriage laws a woman cannot inherit her late
husband’s estate ahead of his male kinsmen. This law also allows a man to
take more than one wife and considers the man to be legal guardian of the
children over his wife. The RG’s office and involved ministries must
consider that the extra security features on the marriage certificate will
not protect women from the challenges they face once they get into these
union because of the skewed and somewhat insensitive laws that still
prevail. In this regard, the RG’s office cannot be seen as doing anything
else other than practicing double standards when it claims it is protecting
people going into marriages.

As a recommendation, the RG’s office may consider ensuring first that
benefits from all types of marriages, as long as they are registered with
the Government of Zimbabwe ,are similar. For instance, for areas that are
too far away from magistrates courts or have no marriage officers nearby,
certificates of marriage must be obtainable from the nearest government
offices to officialise unregistered customary marriages. It is not a secret
that in African culture, even those that sign the marriage register and
those that hold white weddings first pay some form of dowry. Why then deny
those that have paid dowry only, the opportunity to officialise their unions
if that, in their culture, is recognition enough of marriage. Does the RG’s
office then only view marriage to have taken place if the vows have been
made before a judicial officer or a church official registered with
government? If so let requirements be made for all people who consider
themselves married to sign some form of register and for these registered to
be readily available in all government centres.

So far only women have the incentive to have their marriages officialised
otherwise men tend to benefit more from the unregistered marriages and this
causes a lot of problems for women. This is mostly due to the fact that a
man may claim full marriage rights (conjugal and otherwise) from a woman by
simply paying dowry to the woman’s family, however the performance of these
duties by a woman in an unregistered customary marriage may not be enough
for her to claim half the property acquired during the union upon divorce or
death of the spouse. To the legal system in Zimbabwe, payment of lobola
remains misleading to many women who still lose out even when they know that
according to culture their union is valid. The government may incentivise
the registration of marriages for men by ensuring that they are for example
guaranteed some form of spousal support from the working ex-wife in case of
divorce or that they cannot contest the support of an ex-wife and children
if the marriage was not registered. As things stand currently, families
remain unprotected despite the cosmetic changes currently taking place in
the sphere of marriage laws.

According to the Development Centre Social Institutions and Gender index,
more than three-quarters of the Zimbabwe’s population; about one in ten
women live in polygamous unions. Such marriages are three times more
frequent in rural communities than in urban areas, and the incidence is
lower among women who have a secondary education. There is therefore a need
for the recognition of payment of lobola as formalisation of marriage at a
certain level to cater for the huge number of people still using customary
guidance for marriage. The rules must be as binding to those that make this
commitment before their families as those who make it before a registered
marriage officer of the law. This may need certain requirements to be met
first for example the legal age for marriage to be 18 for both males and
females (currently men can marry at 18 and girls at 16), it could also be a
requirement for witnesses to sign a certain agreement to show that the two
partners entered the union willingly to deter from early and forced unions.
It is hence not enough for government to introduce stringent marriage
conditions to laws that have always protected women without first making an
effort to improve on the laws that continue to keep women undermined in
marriage like the registered and unregistered customary marriages. It is
time government acted to harmonise all marriage laws in the country.

Sibusisiwe Ndlovu – Bhebhe is the Gender Officer at Bulawayo Progressive
Residents Association (BPRA). She writes in her personal capacity. She can
be contacted on

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Dollars and condoms economy

A man went into a supermarket to buy his lunch. His bill came to $4.85, and
he handed over a $5 note. There was no change so he had to either pick three
sweets or three packs of condoms instead. But the sweets had run out so he
had no choice but to take the condoms.
by Clemence Machadu

As the teller handed them over, his wife arrived to do her shopping and saw
him. “Honey, we don’t use those,” she shouted - and they lived unhappily
ever after.

The introduction of the multi- currency system in 2008 certainly improved
the macro economic environment – leading to lower inflation, increased
resource employment and economic growth for the first time in a decade. But
it brought about a change crisis.

The lack of change has caused distortions in pricing and short changed
consumers. Where no approximation is done and exact prices are charged,
customers are forced to buy funny small items like condoms, matches, razor
blades, bubble gums, sweets, etc.

Some supermarkets tried to be innovative by issuing vouchers, but they force
customers to purchase again in the same supermarket. The change problem is
also wrecking havoc to those who travel by kombis.

Attempts by the banks to use the R8 million worth of coins imported from
South Africa were not fruitful. Retailers rejected the coins, citing
exchange rate difficulties. They ended up sourcing the coins at one rate and
having to give it out at another rate. The banks eventually returned the
coins to South Africa!

US dollar coins would be ideal for the economy, as most transa- ctions are
taking place in this currency. The Government promised to source coins from
the US in partnership with the Bankers Association of Zimbabwe – but BAZ
says it is not aware of any plans to import coins.

I very much doubt we will get these as importation of coins is very
expensive. It costs about $2 to import coins worth $1 from the US to
Zimbabwe; and players in the banking sector, driven by self interest, would
not find any incentive in importing the coins.

Zimbabwe should consider coming up with urgent home grown measures to
address the change crisis, such as the use of plastic money. The ideal
solution would be to mint our own coins, backed by the US dollar.

Ecuador, which has been dollarized for many years, did this successfully.
Zimdollar coins could also be re-introduced. This would cause some problems
but they are not insurmountable.

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New online business directory launches, uses TelOne directory data
Staff Writer
May 2nd, 2012

The online directory of the Zimbabwe’s sole fixed line operator, is by far one of the most useful websites locally providing business phone numbers and addresses. It’s the go to web destination to locate businesses. But it’s also far from perfect as a tool to connect to businesses, having no way for business owners to update their information, no maps to help with directions, no way to search for a business whose name you don’t know, and information limited to just the addresses and phone numbers.

You could argue of course that the directory was originally never meant to provide any more than just what it does now, but that would be to ignore that it’s been published on the internet to serve a purpose and so far it’s falling short. A new online business directory in beta by a company called Sweetmellon Publishers realises this and is out to fix it. Using TelOne’s own data. And they are not stopping there; they’re even planning to lunch their own physical business directory in just 2 months.

We came upon Sweetmellon’s theDirectory a few days ago and noticed there was something different about it; It is that unlike other such new projects, this one has data, lots of it. Searches you do actually yield results. It’s so much listed businesses just need to verify their entries and maybe add more information. Looking at the data they have we could see the data was scrapped off the TelOne online directory, or off a site that scrapped it off TelOne. Point is being it’s TelOne data.

This clearly makes theDirectory more useful that TelOne’s directory. And since they seem to understand the internet much more than TelOne so far, this could actually work very well for them. The only mistake we noticed is that they scrapped everything including individual (non-business) data resulting in a lot of people’s addresses being on the site. We suspect they couldn’t differentiate. Their argument here could be that the data is already public so no one should complain.

TelOne and Directory Publishers will probably be unhappy with this model of course. Directory Publishers has its own Yellow Pages website that it outsourced to local web company and judging by the time it’s been online against its usefulness so far, the polite way to put it is it hasn’t been a resounding success.

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Drought: Zimbabwe needs new agro model

02/05/2012 00:00:00
    by Tafirenyika Makunike

I HAVE the privilege of writing from Zimbabwe where I am spending a couple
of days. Once you have survived the Animal Farm chaos of entering the
country through BeitBridge, you can really have an exciting and memorable

If half our politicians just experienced a quarter of what the rest of us
have to endure just to get into the country through the BeitBridge border
post, then all the border issues would have been solved long time ago.

I have always wondered how many visitors just stay away from Zimbabwe
because they cannot endure BeitBridge border. It is in this vain that I
welcome a suggestion by Mthuli Ncube of the African Development Bank that
BeitBridge should be converted into one-stop border post.

The country is still pregnant with opportunities whose gestation period is
being lengthened by our collective hesitancy to bite the bullet and do what
needs to be done. The country is still largely a tale of two groups of
people – a large mass of “have-nots” at the bottom and the few privileged
haves perched at the top with a sprinkling of some “desire to have” in the

Those with the “desire to have” can transverse the divide between them and
the haves, once they identify and exploit a particular opportunity. If they
fail, then they slide down to the large pool of “have nots”.

The financial survival of most of the “have nots”, largely located in the
rural areas, is inextricably linked to the rainfall patterns of the area. I
went through my own village where I grew up and for probably the third year
in a row, they are going to harvest absolutely nothing again but not for
lack of trying though. They may even be the unintended victims of climate
change, a phenomenon they neither know about, nor did they participate in

Every year, they have dutifully put their seeds to the ground, weeded the
young crop, even applied fertiliser but while they were waiting for the
bumper harvest the rains disappeared. When you do the maths of all the
finances that these villagers put to the ground with no return, it is
absolutely devastating.

There is no human being anywhere in the world who is wired for handouts.
Receiving handouts year-in year-out does terrible things to their
self-esteem. Much of these rural villages enter that period which Charles
Mungoshi euphemistically called "waiting for the rain" prone to repeat the
same vicious cycle if the rain decides to show up in October, disappearing
in early January.

There is need for us as a country to develop a sustainable rural-based model
that would reduce the reliance on the pattern of rainfall. Unfortunately,
our politicians' eyes are now firmly focussed on the next election which may
or may not happen in 2012 or 2013.

While I do believe in the value of democratic elections, I do not buy the
notion that it will answer all our socio-economic maladies. We need more
innovative national thinking that transcends short term elections focussed
on delivering a better life for those still trapped in the ‘have not’ cycle.

We now have a number of universities packed with the cream of our national
intelligentsia, but what we require from them is the conversion of
theoretical knowledge into applied knowledge for the upliftment of our

I have had the benefit of doing some work in a number of agro-based regions
of South Africa and I have observed that much of their agriculture is not a
direct function of the rainfall pattern. It is more directly correlated to
the irrigation infrastructure. Building dams is indeed a good start but it
is not the end.

The village I come from has benefitted from a new dam build across the
Mpudzi River. Apart from the boon for those of us who enjoy bass fishing,
there is no harvesting of this water resource for cropping purposes
currently happening. Once a dam is built, there is need to deliver the water
affordably to the cropping fields.

If you are not in Nyanyadzi, Chakohwa or many areas of the Lowveld where
water can just be delivered to the fields through gravity, then you require
energy to deliver the water.

The Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project – long mooted – is not just a
romantic pipe dream but a sustainable agricultural model which could green a
large part of our dry lands resulting in improved livelihoods.

If we added an additional 3000MW of power generation capacity, our growing
economy could consume this added capacity in less than ten years. This
national planning requires futuristic thinking going beyond the horizon of
the next election.

Energy costs money which must be paid for in one way or another.
Unfortunately, when it comes to paying for energy, our political leaders are
terrible examples. The government is unable to provide the funds for the
huge infrastructural gap that exists in the agro-industries space. There is
need for massive incentives to entice the private sector to bring to invest
in this space.

Contrary to widely-held perceptions, rural people are quite amenable to
change once the benefits are clearly understood and explained. It is not
that the “have nots” are not willing to work for improving their lives. All
they require is guidance to move from just working hard to working smarter
and harder.

For sustainable livelihoods in rural areas, we need our intelligentsia to
assist in adoption of innovation from land preparation, planting of seeds,
crop care to harvest. There is ample opportunities for further innovation
from post-harvest handling, logistical arrangements for delivering the
harvest in time, right quality and price to the appropriate market.
We can excel as a nation in this field when we plan, allocate resources, and
act with the long term goal in mind.

Tafirenyika L. Makunike is the chairman and founder of Nepachem cc
(, an enterprise development and consulting company. He
writes in his personal capacity

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Harare: hungry for culture

Harare is obviously a city hungry for culture. In the week before the start
of the annual Harare International Festival of the Arts, the impending shows
were all anyone could talk about.
by Special Correspondent

The opening ceremony, at the Main Stage in Harare Gardens, drew a crowd of
several thousand. Indeed, a HIFA official remarked that the massive
attendance had not been expected, and the ceremony drew one of the largest
audiences ever. For the organisers, the surge in interest was a pleasant

Long queues snaked down either side of the walkway separating the Main Stage
from the Coca Cola Green for well over an hour before the gates were opened,
with an impromptu performance from the Tonga Ngoma Buntime Music Group
helping to entertain the impatient throng of spectators.

There was barely any room to move on the grass lawns in front of the
visually-imposing main stage. Despite some overcrowding issues, with some
spectators shimmying up the small trees dotted around the edge of the arena,
an extraordinary show went off without a hitch.

The ensemble performance included spoken word, dance, and contributions from
several local musicians. A choral cover of Queen's 'Somebody to Love' and a
barnstorming rendition of The Cat Empire's 'Chariot' added a contemporary,
international and inclusive flavour to proceedings. All the acts involved
stormed the stage to close the show under a jaw-dropping fireworks display
against the backdrop of the distinctive Crown Plaza Hotel and a starry,
cloudless night.

The ceremony was the brainchild of Neville Campbell, the founding artistic
director of Tumbuka Contemporary Dance Company, who returned to Zimbabwe to
direct a memorable night, while local musician Vee Mukarati obviously
performed a strong role as the show's musical director. If Tuesday night was
a hint of things to come, Harare is in for an exciting week.

A phalanx of artists, actors, designers, musicians, poets and painters have
descended upon a city buzzing with expectation. A small army of technicians
worked feverishly around the Main Stage all of Monday, while a stone's throw
away at the festival's main office, the phones barely stopped ringing for a
moment while preparations were being completed.

HIFA has always been about more than just the music, but the artists
garnering the most attention this year are the ones who will be performing
at the main stages - and the popular Coca-Cola Green.

That's not to say that other acts have gone unnoticed. Comrade Fatso and
Outspoken made their lyrical mark as spoken word artists, but the duo have
broken new ground and forged unique identities with their satirical news
broadcast stage show, Zambezi News, both showings of which were sold out a
week before the festival even started.

Theatre usually attracts something of a niche audience, but a variety of
stage performances this year has something for every palate. Three venues -
Reps, The Standard Theatre and 7 Arts, which has clung to life despite the
death of the Avondale cinema complex - will host this year's theatre

Danai Gurira's new play, Eclipsed, is being shown in Zimbabwe for the first
time. The Bed In Her Head, directed by Leeroy Gono and Melissa Eveleigh,
features a strong Zimbabwean cast, while The 24 Hour Theatre Challenge, in
which five 10-minute plays will be written and rehearsed the day before the
performance, promises exciting and unpredictable results. The eye-catching
one-man show Leo, from German theatre company Circle of Eleven, is already
attracting attention, and there’s plenty more to see besides – although
showings are selling out fast. A bursting dance schedule includes acts from
Zimbabwe, South Africa, India, the USA and several international

Oliver Mtukudzi's festival-closing show at the main stage promises to be a
must-see, despite the $20 entrance fee, and his performance is preceded on
Saturday by the return of Ismael Lo to HIFA’s Main Stage.

These two iconic musicians are accompanied by an impressive number of local
musicians, including Edith Weutonga, Alexio, Chiwoniso Maraire, John
Pfumojena, Winky D, Mokoomba, Hope Masike, Netsayi Chigwendere, and Prudence
Katomeni-Mbofana. A full international complement of musicians complete a
truly varied line-up.

As is always the case in Harare, word-of-mouth has been far more powerful
than the posters plastered on the walls, trees and lamp-posts

- an increasingly peculiar presence whose primary use is now advertising in
a city that turns pitch-black after sunset. One band that everyone has been
talking about is German Rock/Ska/Reggae fusion group Jamaram, who will
perform a free show with the ZGS Acoustic Artists on the Coca Cola Green on
Tuesday night and a $10 show with local reggae artist Mic Inity on the Main
Stage on Wednesday evening.

While the festival is undoubtedly centred upon the cluster of stages that
fall under the shadow of the Crown Plaza, an effort has been made to branch
out into the surrounding communities. Interactive performances will take
place at the First Street Platform and artists will present workshops and
performances at various community centres and free venues around Harare,
while a large-scale mural is being developed in Mbare. A full Spoken Word
programme at the HIVOS Poetry Café behind the National Gallery – and
extensive exhibitions inside the gallery - complete an inviting programme.

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Voices of Zimbabwe: stories of hope

Tsitsi became involved in farming almost by accident. Through her sister’s
businesswomen’s association she met Roy Petersen, a famer who owned over 50
hectares in the Mupfurudzi Estate near Bindura and was leasing out portions
of his land. At 27 years-old, she was looking for a way to make a living and
saw farming as an interesting challenge.
by Firdose Moonda

She started off with onions. Thorough research, keen interest and dedicated
staff assistance she established herself as a commercial farmer in Zimbabwe.
Three years, later, Tsitsi had 18 workers and was thriving. Then, she was
asked to turn her farm over to the government. She claimed they wanted the
land to set up Border Gezi camps and train youth militia and she was
determined to fight against it. Like many farm owners in Zimbabwe,
resistance proved futile and she was soon taken over. What makes Tsitsi
different is that she “thought I was black enough,” not to became a target
for land seizure.

Her story is one of 24 in the book “Don’t listen to what I’m about to say,”
a collection of narratives that aims to tell Zimbabwean stories in
Zimbabwean voices. The editors spoke to a range of Zimbabweans across the
social spectrum, from those who live in exile to those who have remained
behind, from farm owners to farm workers, from elderly people battling to
preserve memories of their homeland, to youth struggling to see a future for
themselves in it. The result, as mentioned in the foreword written by Harare
North author Brian Chikwana, is “a record of what it means to be human.”

It provides details into Zimbabwean life that have not been told before,
such as the story of John, who worked for ZAPU during the 1980 election and
married Joshua Nkomo’s daughter. His tale offers rare insight into the early
activity after independence. Zenzele, a former police officer living in
Canada, also has a personal account to give. He shares graphic detail of his
torture which included the assault of Gukurahundi. To contrast with Tsitsi’s
tale, is the story of George, a white farmer whose family owned land in the
Karoi Estate which was commandeered by war veterans and Nicola, a
horticulturalist, who ran a farm with her sister when their father fled.
George left Zimbabwe but is now back in the country, working as a manager
for a farm owned by a black Zimbabwean while Nicola still works in Harare,
hoping to re-enter the agricultural industry.

Perhaps the most poignant anecdote is that of Nokuthula, a former
hairdresser who works as a domestic worker in Cape Town, South Africa.
Having fled Zimbabwe and having sought safety in South Africa, she found
herself a victim of a different kind of hostility in her adopted home.
Nokuthula was travelling on a taxi which was searched for foreigners during
the wave of xenophobic attacks that swept South Africa. She escaped violence
by pretending to be a Zulu from Durban and was lucky to be believed. Hers is
a reminder of the fragility of Zimbabwean existence, both at home and

The book concludes with a chapter dedicated to one man, Sankoh Chari. A
symbol of a larger Zimbabwean problem, Chari’s business in Budiroro which
was one half barber shop, one half room for charging batteries for people
without electricity, was destroyed during Operation Murambatsvina in 2005.

Having his livelihood taken away from him incensed Chari to the point where
he turned to politics. He joined the MDC and became one of it’s most
outspoken youth leaders and even clashed with Morgan Tsvangirai. After
movie-like cat and mouse games with police officers and the murder of his
brother and his best friend, Chari fled to South Africa but he is not at
peace. His story, he said, is a message to all those who fought against him
in Zimbabwe and think they won that, “Sankoh Chari is still alive.”

The book concludes with those chilling but reassuring words but its overall
message is not one of despair. It is an account of courage. Pamela and
Themba, a husband and wife team in Harare, encapsulate that best with their
story of resilience. The couple do marketing work for small firms and have
started their own business and believe there is still potential in Zimbabwe.
Themba said his homeland does not compare to any other and so, “Someone has
to stay behind and protect it. Yes, I still have hope.”

So many Zimbabweans feel the same way and in an election year, it is ever
more important for them to hold on to that hope and continue to believe in
change. Boniface, a preacher on the Musina border, has a message to keep the
fighting flame burning. “We are hard pressed but we are not crushed, we are
down but we are not destroyed.”


Don’t listen to what I’m about to say: Voices of Zimbabwe

Edited by Peter Orner and Annie Holmes, written by Charles Mungoshi

Published by Jonathan Ball Publishers, 2011

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In Zimbabwe, bicycles save lives

by Martha Tattersall


The road that leads Netsayi Bote to the households in her village is long and bumpy. On this grey morning, surprisingly cold for April, she is dressed in her new uniform, hat and health kit in tow as she sets off for the day. Yet despite the tough terrain, Netsayi is thrilled to be on the road, particularly since the addition of her new bicycle.

Netsayi is part of a troupe of formidable women who have become the heros of the primary health care system in Zimbabwe, a country riddled with political fragility and a deteriorated basic social service sector. Today, she will visit mothers and babies in her community, spreading messages in disease prevention and checking up on their health and wellbeing. Village Health Workers like Netsayi are the lifeblood of the health system, empowering families to strengthen their own health through preventative measures. They are the ever unbreakable link between rural communities and local health services.

Yet up until three months ago, far distances between households meant this role, for which she is paid a measly $14 stipend per month, was inefficient and time-consuming.

“Before this bicycle, I was doing my round at the village four times per week. I am now doing two days and [then] I am finished,” says Netsayi.

Improving the access and the quality of care as these committed community members do, is indispensable in a country facing some of the most challenging health statistics on earth: almost 15 per cent of the population are living with HIV; over 1.3 million children are orphans; and 100 children under five die every day from preventable causes.

UNICEF Zimbabwe has begun to distribute bicycles to Village health workers in ten districts in Zimbabwe, with the aim of providing every village health worker with a bicycle by the end of the year.

It is an investment in the people of this resilient country, particularly if all village health workers have the determination and resolve of Netsayi: “They chose me because I laugh with everybody, I like everybody, I can hear some issues from someone and I [can] keep the secret. They chose me because I have a heart.”

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The Magic of April/May in Zimbabwe

The months of April and May in this country are what I call champagne
months. We still have some greenery – the days are dry (zero humidity) and
clear with skies so blue they look unreal, nights so ablaze with stars that
you can walk by starlight.  Temperatures are a comfortable 25 c at noon and
a slight chill in the evening, getting quite cold in the early morning.

Last week I took my grandson, Keith, to the Zambezi valley for four days of
fishing in the Chewore area just below Mana Pools National Park. His parents
came with as did Grandma – but the trip was for Keith and I and we were
hosted by Terry and Di Kelly who own a camp on the banks of the river. We
had a great time and although it was cool and dry and the game was very
disbursed because there was ample water in the rivers and pans inland, we
still saw Elephant, Eland, Kudu, Impala, Waterbuck, Bushbuck, Zebra and
heard lion every night and hyena one night.

We recognized some 70 species of birds including flocks of Open Billed
Storks, two species of Vulture, hordes of baboons and monkeys and hundreds
of hippo and crocs – some very large specimens. In the dry months the
concentration of game must be amazing. We had elephant and hippo in the camp
and the nearby baboons were disturbed by the lions one night. We also heard

On the river we all caught something – Chessa, Bream (three varieties),
Tiger and Catfish of different kinds. The largest specimen was a Barbel of
15 pounds and a Tiger of 13 pounds, both caught by Keith who was barely able
to get them to the boat and could not pick them up when they were landed. I
caught several Tiger fish – the largest of which was just over 10 pounds – a
very nice fish which gave me a great fight. Keith’s mother caught a 12 pound
Tiger on the first day and several other decent fish.

The lodges were very comfortable and well fitted out and the staff
terrific – they served us meals three times a day although on two days we
went out early and came back for brunch after several hours on the river.
One evening they set up a table and chairs on a sandbank on the river where
we enjoyed a beautiful, unforgettable sunset and sundowners with wine, beer
and cold drinks. Not a breath of wind and not a cloud in the sky with a half
moon and wonderful view of the evening star.

This was Africa at its best – not even any bugs and very few mosquitoes. A
world class bush experience with some of the best game fishing you can find
anywhere. We used Chessa for bait and fished with quite light rods and line,
casting out onto the river and allowing the bait to drift with the current
which is about 7 kilometers per hour. The river was between 3 kilometers and
150 metres wide and up to 30 metres deep in places. If we had really tried
and the weather had been a bit warmer I am sure that Vundu up to 150 pounds
and Tiger up to 20 pounds would have been possible.

When the bait was taken – at first slowly and then with a rush, followed by
a spectacular leap out of the water perhaps 100 metres from the boat, it was
always a thrilling sight. The fight to keep the fish on the hook and to
avoid obstacles that might impede recovery, the first sight of the fish in
the water before you lift it out in a landing net and remove the hook. This
was followed by a photo and weighing and then return to the water – we
released all our fish except some bream and the Chessa used as bait. I think
the smaller Tiger fish were even more fun than the larger specimens.

The camp is some 440 kilometers from Harare and of that about 140 kilometers
is gravel road – rough in places. It took us 6 hours of driving to get
there. You can fly in as there is a decent airstrip just inland and this was
fairly well used. I enjoyed the drive in the bush – its attractive country
with mature Mopani veld and quite a lot of Jesse bush – still green and
thick with numerous pans still holding water.

The Zambezi is an amazing river. It runs about 2700 kilometers, rises on the
Congo/Zambian border and draws most of its water (85%) from Angola, the
Congo and northeastern Zambia. It is projected that this catchment will be
wetter in the future and the river therefore is probably a secure source of
water for the region. Some six countries share the river and it already has
three hydro electricity dams on it – the Kafue in Zambia, the Kariba dam
shared by Zambia and Zimbabwe and Cahora Bassa in Mozambique. These dams
produce about 6000 megawatts of electrical energy and planned expansion will
take this to about 6500 megawatts with another three dams being planned –
another on the Kafue, two on the Zambezi above Kariba and possibly a fourth
on the lower Zambezi in Mozambique.

What also sets the river aside in a special category is the fact that it is
so clean. In its catchment we have some of the largest wetlands in the
world – the Bamangwato flood plains, the flood plains in Angola and Namibia
(Caprivi strip) and these serve as a huge surge chamber for seasonal
flooding and allows peak flows in May rather than January/February when the
rains are heaviest. What is not generally recognized is the importance of
hippo to maintain the drainage channels in these vast flood plains. Silt is
retained in the wetlands and the water going into the river is clean and

Then there is the wildlife and a system of contiguous conservation areas and
parks stretching from Angola, through Zambia, Namibia, Zimbabwe, to
Mozambique. It is the largest conservation system in the world and covers
millions of hectares and contains about 70 per cent of all the wildlife in
Africa. The Zambezi is its lifeblood and runs right through the heart of the
whole system.

In my view this constitutes one of the greatest potential tourist areas in
the world. It offers the Victoria Falls, surely one of the wonders of
nature, spectacular fishing, game viewing, hunting, birding (some friends
recorded 200 species recently in one weekend at Chirundu on the river),
photo safaris and just plain relaxation in a great environment.

Because of our political difficulties, Zimbabwe receives a tiny number of
foreign tourists a year (less than a thousand a day), while Botswana
received 2,1 million visitors last year and South Africa tops a million a
month. When finally sanity returns to our politics and economics, there is
going to be a boom in tourism in this country and in the region as a whole
which is going to be difficult to manage. Already Zimbabwe controls the
majority of professional hunting in the Central and Southern Regions of
Africa – from Cameroon to South Africa. It is my personal belief that the
mining and tourist industries will drive the Zimbabwean economy to the point
where we will have the fastest growing economy in Africa, if not the world.

In the meantime, we have all of this to ourselves and most of you will just
have to eat your hearts out.

Eddie Cross

Harare, 1st May 2012

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