May 3, 2010
By Raymond Maingire
HARARE - Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has finally broken his silence
over reports of a raging power dispute between two Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) factions allegedly led by him and party secretary general
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai
Addressing a media briefing Monday afternoon, the MDC leader said the
reports were far-fetched, describing Biti as a "long time comrade".
Biti, the Minister of Finance, is widely regarded as the second in charge of
the MDC despite being subordinate to party Deputy President Thokozani
Tsvangirai categorically denied he was at loggerheads with Biti, who
attended the briefing.
"The SG (secretary general) and I have been comrades in this struggle for
many many years and have stood together throughout this time and we will not
allow the enemies of real change to succeed in derailing the people's
cause," said Tsvangirai.
Violence broke out at the MDC headquarters leading to the assault of party
director-general Toendepi Shonhe and security director Chris Dhlamini.
Media reports linked the hostilities to the two factions jostling for
control of the party ahead of an MDC congress next year.
The MDC has since played down the incidence, describing it as a mere
administrative issue, which has since been overcome through suspensions of
Tsvangirai said he has since received a preliminary report from the
commission of enquiry which was established to probe the causes of the
The MDC has further accused bitter rival Zanu-PF of sly attempts to fan
division within its ranks in a bid to weaken it ahead of the elections.
Tsvangirai was adamant no covert attempt to divide his party would derail
its mission to form a new independent MDC government.
"The process of real change is irreversible and the wishes of Zimbabweans
undeniable," he said.
"The attempt to divide us has been expressed through violence and
disturbances at Harvest House, dubious teams sent to provinces preaching
gospels of division and baseless and defamatory being manufactured and
distributed to the press."
"I am shocked by the energy and the magnitude of the efforts to undermine
Meanwhile, Tsvangirai was set to leave Harare Monday destined for the
Tanzanian capital, Dar es Salaam, to attend a World Economic Forum meeting.
Tsvangirai, who was being accompanied by Deputy Prime Minister Arthur
Mutambara and Biti, among top government officials, was also expected to
hold bilateral talks with African leaders in his ongoing attempts to find a
lasting solution to endless power squabbles with President Robert Mugabe's
His spokesman, James Maridadi told The Daily News Monday the MDC leader was
set to enter into a meeting with Tanzanian leader and former African Union
chair, Jakaya Kikwete, on Tuesday.
The MDC leader, whose party continues to play second fiddle to Zanu-PF in
government, said the parties were still far from reaching an agreement in
their protracted talks to resolve outstanding issues to the Global Political
"As you know our negotiators concluded their talks on April 3rd and gave our
final report to the principals and President Zuma," he said.
"Agreement on some issues has been achieved but on the fundamental issues
provincial governors, Attorney General, Roy Bennett, Reserve Bank Governor,
security sector reform and ministerial portfolios the parties failed to
Responding to questions by journalists on prospects of an election in 2011,
Tsvangirai said a poll was still possible.
This contradicts claims by the leader of the smaller faction of MDC,
Mutambara, who has repeatedly dismissed the possibility of an election next
year was non-existent.
By Lance Guma
04 May 2010
A Supreme Court judge who benefited from a farm grab has ruled in favour of
excommunicated Anglican Bishop Nolbert Kunonga, effectively giving him
control of all properties belonging to the Anglican Diocese of Harare.
According to a report in the state owned Herald newspaper Deputy Chief
Justice Luke Malaba's ruling on Monday means that Kunonga and his Board of
Trustees are legitimate, despite breaking away from the Church of the
Province of Central Africa (CPCA) to form their own church.
Malaba's ruling was based on the technicality that the CPCA had allegedly
not followed proper court procedures in filing their appeal. He said they
had not provided security costs for the appeal within the prescribed time
and as such were under an automatic bar imposed by the court.
In July 2009 High Court Justice Ben Hlatshwayo, another farm beneficiary,
ruled that the Kunonga board was legitimate. The Church of the Province of
Central Africa then approached the Supreme Court to appeal this decision. On
Monday Justice Malaba was ruling on this appeal and his decision means the
judgment to recognize Kunonga by Hlatshwayo now stands. Justice Malaba also
accused the CPCA of abusing the appeal process as a way to suspend the
initial ruling by Hlatshwayo.
Newsreel spoke to CPCA lawyer Happious Zhou, who said the effect of the
judgment was to recognize Kunonga as the legitimate Bishop, but he could
only control the church property on behalf of the CPCA and not his own
church. In effect the court still views Kunonga as the CPCA Bishop. Zhou
said they were most likely going to file a fresh appeal with the Supreme
Court adding they were still in consultation with their clients over this.
The dispute has been rumbling on for years with Kunonga's violent minority
of supporters blocking parishioners loyal to the main church from using
church premises in Harare. What has made the involvement and bias of the
state obvious has been the blatant support the faction has received from the
police. Riot squads have on several Sundays tear-gassed and arrested
parishioners and priests loyal to Bishop Chad Gandiya, the recognized church
leader in the city.
Kunonga's fall from grace started when he declared his support for Mugabe's
violent land reform exercise. He hounded out priests who dared challenge his
authority and a church trial around this and other allegations of fraud only
collapsed over legal technicalities. Kunonga managed to endear himself to
Mugabe's regime by using the dispute over homosexuality in the Anglican
Church as the reason for him breaking away. Mugabe's state security agencies
have been providing him round the clock protection ever since.
Tue May 4, 12:04 pm ET
HARARE (AFP) - Zimbabwe's controversial Reserve Bank governor, Gideon Gono,
has kept the top post in a new central bank board named Tuesday in a bid to
restore the institution's credibility after a currency collapse.
"We have appointed a board that in our view is second to none," said finance
minister Tendai Biti at a news conference in the capital, Harare.
"This board is expected to restore viability, buoyancy, credibility,
legitimacy and accountability at the bank. There is a huge task that has to
be done at the bank."
Gono's continued presence at the helm of the top bank has been a divisive
issue in the power-sharing government of long-time rivals President Robert
Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.
In 2008 Gono presided over the collapse of the local dollar and
hyperinflation that saw prices doubling daily.
In March, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said the top bank needed a
new board to strengthen governance and adopt a budget that would downsize
The IMF added that governance at the central bank needed to be strengthened
and its role refocused after abandoning the Zimbabwean dollar in favour of
international currency in January last year.
International investors and several Western governments have raised concern
over Gono's leadership of the central bank.
Biti said the bank owes more than a billion dollars and has been issued with
summonses over the debt, resulting in some of its assets being sold.
Gono said some of the lawsuits the bank was facing were malicious, adding
that the bank will be laying off some of its staff.
"We are now going to focus on core business," he said at the news
"Naturally we are going to downsize, but that's for the board to decide."
The new board includes the country's first post-independence central bank
chief, Kombo Moyana, former high court judge president George Smith, and
lawyers and economists drawn from the private sector.
The new board will announce a new monetary policy committee to set interest
and exchange rates.
by Own Correspondent Tuesday 04 May 2010
HARARE - Zimbabwe's coalition leaders have failed to meet to review a key
report on talks aimed to end a power-sharing dispute threatening their unity
government, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said on Monday.
Addressing reporters in Harare before leaving for the World Economic Forum
in Tanzania, Tsvangirai said he hoped South African President Jacob Zuma,
the Southern African Development Community (SADC)'s mediator in Zimbabwe,
will take advantage of the forum to brief the chairman of the region's
special organ on politics, defence and security on the stalled dialogue in
Mozambican President Armando Guebuza chairs the SADC organ tasked to monitor
Zimbabwe's shaky unity government and ensure Tsvangirai, President Robert
Mugabe and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara fully implement their
power-sharing agreement known as the global political agreement (GPA).
"I am sure that President Zuma will also use the opportunity to go and brief
the chairman of the (SADC) Troika and act to ensure that we have the
finality to these questions," said Tsvangirai, referring to his dispute with
Mugabe over appointment of Zimbabwe's attorney general, central bank
governor and provincial governors.
Mugabe has refused to rescind his unilateral decision to appoint two of his
top allies as attorney general and Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor, while
the veteran President has also refused to appoint members of Tsvangirai and
Mutambara's MDC formations as provincial governors.
The Zimbabwe leader, who only agreed to form a unity a government with his
former opposition after his the international community and some of his
African allies refused to recognise his controversial and violence-marred
re-election in 2008, has also refused to swear in Tsvangirai's top ally, Roy
Bennett, as deputy agriculture minister, while also blocking reform or
restructuring of the armed forces that have backed his three-decade rule.
The GPA commits the coalition government to reform the security services
among a host of other key reforms and measures meant to democratise Zimbabwe's
politics, while the agreement that gave birth to the Harare administration
last year requires that Mugabe consults Tsvangirai before making
appointments to senior public posts.
Mugabe insists he will not meet his commitments under the GPA or to fully
implement the agreement until Tsvangirai calls on Western governments to
lift visa and financial sanctions against him and top officials of his ZANU
But in a sign of his growing frustration at Mugabe's refusal to implement
the GPA, Tsvangirai warned that his MDC party was ready for a fresh vote to
end the political stalemate with ZANU PF. "Trust me, we are ready for that
election or any election," he said. - ZimOnline
04 May, 2010 10:16:00 by Stanley Gama
HARARE - The three parties in Zimbabwe's inclusive government have not
overcome differences relating mainly to their sharing of power, so the
Southern African Development Community (SADC) may have to intervene again.
President Jacob Zuma, the official Southern African Development Community
facilitator, is understood to be planning to visit Zimbabwe to make a final
push to achieve an agreement.
President Robert Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and his deputy,
Arthur Mutambara, established a unity government in February last year, but
key elements of their 2008 Global Political Agreement have not been
Zuma is expected, after his visit, to brief the SADC's troika on politics,
defence and security so a decision may be made on what should be done about
the political impasse.
Tsvangirai said yesterday that efforts had been made to resolve the
outstanding issues since Zuma's visit to Harare last month, but the main
sticking points remained.
"Agreement on some issues has been achieved, but on the fundamental issues
of provincial governors, the attorney-general, Roy Bennett (whom the MDC
wishes to appoint as deputy minister of agriculture), the Reserve Bank
governor, security sector reform and ministerial portfolios, the parties
have failed to converge," Tsvangirai said.
"It is important that finality be brought to these issues. In this regard,
President Zuma's office, the SADC secretariat and the principals themselves
are working to ensure that this is done as expeditiously as possible."
Last week ANC chairwoman Baleka Mbete visited Zimbabwe and added her voice
to calls for the parties to resolve their issues.
She had separate meetings with Zanu-PF chairman Simon Khaya Moyo, and the
chairmen of the main and smaller MDC parties.
She is said to have told them that South Africa was sacrificing a lot by
playing a mediatory role and so it was important for the parties to accept
what their negotiators and principals had agreed on.
Mbete is also said to have made it clear to Moyo that ANC Youth League
president Julius Malema was not speaking on behalf of the ANC when, during
his visit to Zimbabwe last month, he supported Zanu-PF and criticised the
"The ANC and MDC now understand Malema was just speaking for himself," an
MDC official said in Harare yesterday.
By Violet Gonda
4 May 2010
Minister of Information Webster Shamu has said the much awaited privately
owned daily newspapers, The Daily News and NewsDay can be expected to be
published in June, as the Zimbabwe Media Commission started inviting
applications for licensing on Tuesday.
Journalist Angus Shaw said Shamu made these remarks at the official ceremony
to mark World Press Freedom Day on Monday. The Minister told journalists
that the publishers of the two newspapers have been told that their
applications will be looked at favourably and they would be fast-tracked, so
that they can start publishing next month.
Zimbabwe has not had a privately owned daily newspaper since the Daily News
was banned in 2003. The Daily News is owned by the Associated Newspaper
Group and NewsDay will be published by Alpha Media Holdings, publishers of
the Zimbabwe Independent and Standard weeklies.
While Minister Shamu's statement has been welcomed, sceptics are wary and
believe there is still little desire for real media reform. And while there
is talk about introducing new players in the print media, there is still no
change to the iron ZANU PF control over radio and television.
Shaw said it's very clear the call for licensing is to appease critics of
the Global Political Agreement, but there can be no real media freedom until
repressive laws - such as the Access to Information and Protection of
Privacy Act - are repealed. "Minister Webster Shamu said AIPPA will be
amended, but it still has punitive measures in it and he said he wants
Zimbabweans to be 'disciplined' and not 'anarchic'. So they are still
retaining a certain amount of controls on the media. And should Trevor Ncube's
paper (Newsday) come out next month, which is what we expect, I am quite
sure there will be punitive measures or threats against them, if they are a
true independent daily."
Meanwhile the application process for licensing journalists and media houses
started on Tuesday and media practitioners have until June 4th to register
with the ZMC. Local journalists will pay an initial application fee of $20
and once that is accepted, another $100. The application fee for local mass
media news organisations will be $500, registration fee $1500 dollars, while
the renewal of registration will be $1 000 dollars. Shaw, who writes for the
news agency Associated Press, said foreign agencies have to pay a
registration fee of $500 and $2 000 for a licence to operate.
He said it was obvious at the ZMC offices at the Rainbow Towers Hotel that
the commission was still waiting for money to operate. He said the forms for
the new applications are all photocopies of the old forms from the Tafataona
Mahoso era. "And there is a sign there which has not been replaced, with the
old Mahoso Media and Information Commission logo on it. So they haven't even
done the basic cosmetic changes like putting up a new sign."
The Media Monitoring Project of Zimbabwe has also said the government budget
for the ZMC's operations remains negligible.
by Sebastian Nyamhangambiri Tuesday 04 May 2010
HARARE - Media watchdogs in Zimbabwe on Monday attacked the
government-appointed media commission for commemorating World Press Freedom
Day instead of attending to the urgent matter of licensing new players in an
industry that has been tightly controlled by President Robert Mugabe and his
ZANU PF party since independence in 1980.
The Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC), a constitutional body, was created last
February as one of the key reforms to open up the country's political space,
replacing a state-appointed body that used tough media laws to police the
newspaper industry, forcing several titles to close.
"The ZMC should with immediate effect start licensing new media players . .
. when this is done, the ZMC would be eligible to commemorate the World
Press Freedom Day," said Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ) secretary
general Foster Dongozi, in a petition presented to ZMC chairperson Godfrey
The petition was signed by the Media Alliance of Zimbabwe (MAZ) which
consists of ZUJ, Media Institute of Southern Africa-Zimbabwe, Media
Monitoring Project Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe National Editors Forum (ZNEF), the
Federation of African Media Women of Zimbabwe and the African Community
Publishing Development Trust.
"We, the members of MAZ note with concern that since the ZMC was appointed
early this year, no new media players have been licensed. Potential players
have been waiting and continue to incur costs as the ZMC shows no sense of
urgency," said the petition.
In response Majonga said the ZMC would "start in earnest to process
applications for media players and journalists since the accreditation fees
were gazetted last week".
ZNEF representative Iden Witherall said the government was taking its time
to repeal laws such as Public Order and Security Act (POSA), and Access to
Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA), which continue to affect
freedom of the press, a year after media practitioners asked for their
repeal at a conference in the resort town of Kariba.
But Information Minister Webster Shamu said AIPPA and the Broadcasting
Services Act had been "extremely" amended in 2007 and 2008.
"As should be apparent from the progress which ZMC is set to make, there are
no legal impediments to improving the media environment," said Shamu,
adding; "That there are no legal barriers to improving the media environment
is not the same as saying there are no threats."
Shamu said negotiators of the power-sharing agreement between Mugabe and
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai had proposed amendments to media laws which
are "one giant step backwards in terms of freeing the media and improving
the environment for journalists".
Said Shamu: "They (amendments) are divisive and discriminatory. They
undermine the work of constitutional bodies put in place to regulate media
issues. They undermine my ministry by seeking to relocate its functions to
these negotiators. Above all they go against the foundational principle of
freeing the media from political meddling and control."
He added that he had "anxiety over the proliferation of publications which
are not registered. This situation cannot be allowed to continue."
Mugabe and long time rival Tsvangirai formed a unity government last year
following a dispute over general elections in March 2008 and have promised a
raft of reforms, including freeing up the media by allowing more players.
Western donors, whose aid is essential to Zimbabwe's economic recovery from
a decade-long downturn, have demanded broad political reforms before funding
the unity government, which says it needs at least $10 billion for
The southern African state has been urged to scarp legislation that bars
foreign journalists from working long-term in the country. - ZimOnline
By Busani Bafana
BULAWAYO, May 3, 2010 (IPS) - Fourteen months after Zimbabwe's government of
national unity was formed, harassment, arbitrary arrest and general
intimidation of journalists remains common.
In a statement issued on May 3, World Press Freedom Day, the Zimbabwe
chapter of the press watchdog Media Institute of South Africa deplored
repressive legislation constraining journalists.
These include the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, which
prevents media organisations from hiring unaccredited journalists; the
Public Order and Security Act which has been widely used to prosecute
critics of the president, his government and policies; and the Broadcasting
Services Act, which sets such complex requirements for registering broadcast
media that the government-controlled Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation
remains the only station on the airwaves.
"These laws are unnecessary and unjustified in a democratic society and
should therefore be repealed in line with the principles of the African
Charter on Human Rights, Banjul Declaration on the Principles of Freedom of
Expression in Africa, [and the] SADC Protocol on Information, Sports and
Culture and African Charter on Broadcasting," the statement read.
"The changes to the restricted media space have been cosmetic to say the
least," MISA-Zimbabwe chair, Loughty Dube told IPS. "Journalists still face
the same harassment and intimidation that was common before the GNU."
In January this year, freelance journalist and IPS contributor Stanley
Kwenda fled into exile after a senior police officer allegedly threatened
him with death over a story.
A correspondent for the government owned Chronicle working in the border
town of Beitbridge, Mashundu Netsianda, was arrested for reporting on police
officers fleeing gunfire. In March, a Mexican journalist was arrested in
Masvingo gathering footage for a World Cup documentary.
Photo journalist Anderson Manyere has become a regular guest in police
holding cells and has been arrested for doing his job at least than three
times since the start of the year.
Five journalists from the Standard newspaper have been summoned to appear in
court in connection with a story about a land scandal involving prominent
businessmen Phillip Chiyangwa and the Minister of local government, Ignatius
Radio journalist and documentary maker Zenzele Ndebele has also been
threatened for his documentary on the "Gukurahundi" atrocities committed by
Zimbabwean security services in Matabeleland in the early 1980s.
"Press freedom in Zimbabwe is guaranteed by whoever is in power and that is
clear in the manner journalists have to constantly watch their backs each
time they write a story or make a broadcast," said Ndebele.
"Radio Dialogue has been waiting for 10 years for a community radio
broadcasting licence and we cannot fully operate as a radio station," he
The announcement by the Zimbabwe Media Council at the end of April of
greatly reduced fees for media registration and calling for media houses and
journalists to renew their registration by Jun. 4 has been welcomed by
journalists as a small sign of change.
"A free and unfettered media plays a critical role in advancing citizens'
universal right to access to information held by both public and private
bodies," said MISA-Zimbabwe in its statement, "and is a panacea to
socio-economic development, accountable governance and political stability."
Human Rights Watch, which published a critical report on failure on the
Zimbabwean government's failure to protect press freedom in April, warns
that credible elections - which President Robert Mugabe has suggested will
take place in 2011 - cannot be held in the absence of a free media.
PTUZ President Takavafira Zhou and Zimbabwe Teachers Association President
Tendayi Chikowore said they have been encouraged by statements from Prime
Minister Morgan Tsvangirai that the government is re-examining public pay
Patience Rusere | Washington 03 May 2010
The Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe said Monday that its members will
report for duty Tuesday as a new school term opens - but added that the
government has two weeks to raise salaries or face a possible strike.
Both PTUZ President Takavafira Zhou and Zimbabwe Teachers Association
President Tendayi Chikowore said they have been encouraged by statements
from Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai that the government is examining their
Zimbabwe's state employees are demanding salaries of some US$600 a month
compared with salaries that now top out at US$200. Finance Minister Tendai
Biti has said the government cannot afford increases, so wages are frozen.
Zhou, refuting reports by the state-controlled Herald newspaper that his
members would stay away on the first day of the new term, told VOA Studio 7
reporter Patience Rusere that his union will keep fighting for higher
ZIMTA President Tendai Chikowore said her organization union wants dialogue
with the government, not confrontation.
4th May 2010 04:43 GMT
GOVERNMENT Secrecy in an Information Age
The Media Institute of Southern Africa, a regional media and freedom of
expression advocacy organisation, based in Windhoek and working through
national chapters in 11 Southern Africa Development Community (SADC)
countries joins the rest of the world in marking the World Press Freedom Day
on May 3 2010.
MISA commemorates May 3 under the theme “Access to Information: The Right to
The 2010 World Press Freedom Day comes at a time when the enjoyment and
respect for media and freedom of expression has taken a serious downturn in
Southern Africa. We mark May 3 under the shadow of a deterioration of media
freedoms throughout the region notably in Swaziland, Zambia and Botswana.
The optimism and renewed hope that came with the Government of Unity in
Zimbabwe did not last. All seemed so bright; a promise of a new chapter in
the media environment of freedom and media law reform for a country that has
known repression for too long.
The Government of Unity did not deliver. Not yet.
Access to Information: The Right to Know, remains largely a dream for the
people of southern Africa, home to the most secretive governments in the
world. A MISA research revealed non-transparent and overly secretive public
institutions in southern Africa, making it nearly impossible for citizens to
exercise their right to information.
Using international standards and principles on Access to Information, no
more than two of the 40 institutions surveyed qualified as open and
transparent. With the exception of two institutions, none responded to
written request for information including the Office of the Ombudsman in
Malawi. The Ministries of Health in Zambia and Swaziland were among the most
secretive institutions in the region.
The most difficult country to request for information was Zimbabwe.
Requesters in some institutions had to sit for interviews to justify and
explain why they needed information. Information was denied based on what
the public official suspected the information was sort for. In all the
public institutions, information was denied. However, the other countries
were no better than Zimbabwe.
We mark May 3 unsure of the future of the African media. While we have made
strides since the Windhoek Declaration in 1991, the last five years have
witnessed a steady deterioration of media freedom, reminiscent of Africa’s
one party state era of the 70’s and early 80s, characterized by the
suppression of the basic fundamental rights of freedom of expression,
assembly and human dignity.
The southern Africa envisaged in the Windhoek Declaration of 1991 is a far
cry from the arrests, beatings, torture and detention of journalists and the
general repression of media freedom that are characteristic in the region
The continued use of laws such as the Official Secrets Acts and penal codes
to arrest and charge journalists is a serious cause for concern throughout
the region notably in Swaziland, Zimbabwe and Zambia
In the last 12 months, MISA issued 165 alerts. The alerts document media and
freedom of expression violations and developments in Southern Africa.
Zimbabwe for the fifth consecutive year had the highest number of alerts at
33, with Swaziland and Zambia in tow.
The monitoring of media and freedom of expression violations generally point
to further deterioration in the relationship between governments and the
In Swaziland the King remains the law. A MISA study into censorship in
Swaziland’s newsrooms singled out the monarchy as the main predator of press
The once vibrant, unrelenting and promising Swazi media now resembles a
tired sleeping dog. A statutory media council is underway after government
refused to register a voluntary self-regulatory council; the Media
Democracy in Botswana under President Khama could easily pass for
dictatorship. After scraping the Ministry of Communication, Science and
technology; state print and broadcasting media are now under his bosom
through the Ministry of State President.
However President Khama is not always having his way, his infamous Media
Practitioners Act of 2008 has failed to take off. Intense lobbying from MISA
has meant that publishers have refused participation while the law society
as refused to provide a chair as required by law.
Zambian media made international headlines. The Government in an attempt to
clamp on the media dusted off the Penal Code, a colonial piece of
legislation to press criminal charges against a news editor for supposedly
distributing pornography and obscene material under section 177 1 (a).
The news editor had sent pictures of a woman giving birth outside a hospital
unattended by health workers. The pictures were not printed in the newspaper
for what the paper referred to as “disturbing” but sent them to the highest
political, civil and religious leaders to “see the impact and help end the
strike by health workers.” When government failed to demonstrate how a woman
in labor and in excessive pain could corrupt public morals, the high court
threw the case out.
Like Swaziland, a statutory media council looms in Zambia.
The above scenarios aimed at narrowing the media space and infringing on
free expression played out in different forms throughout the region.
In September 2009, despite opposition from the public, the Namibian
Government passed a communication Bill popularly referred to as the ‘Spy
Bill’. The act contains an interception clause, which gives Government power
to snoop into electronic, telecommunication and other forms of
communications of citizens.
The Malawian Government continued to bully the media, including an
advertising ban in the Nation Publication Limited, a publisher of several
newspapers on accusations of anti government reporting.
The Tanzanian Government banned Mwanahalisi newspaper for four months using
the Newspapers Act for allegedly publishing stories aimed to incite public
hatred against the President and provoking disorder within the President’s
19 years after Windhoek Declaration on Press Freedom the media in Africa are
far from free and independent. MISA commemorates May 3 commending the
sacrifices of journalists, media organizations and communities in defending
media and freedom of expression often under serious threats. MISA commends
the few governments that continue to maintain a healthy, interactive and
consultative relationship with the media and civic society. MISA further
commends the donor community without whose financial support, much of our
work will come to a stand still.
In line with this year’s theme on Access to Information, MISA calls for
legislation that guarantees citizens their right to information. Laws that
restrict access to information such as Official Secret Acts and Zimbabwe’s
AIPPA should have no place in democratic Africa. MISA calls upon the AU and
UNESCO to adopt an African Platform on Access to Information at the 20th
Anniversary of the Windhoek Declaration in May 2011.
MISA further calls upon UNESCO to commemorate the 20th Anniversary of the
Windhoek Declaration in Africa, Windhoek in particular.
Kaitira Kandjii, MISA Regional Director
May 3, 2010
Peter Clottey 03 May 2010
A Zimbabwean political analyst says, despite repeated promises, embattled
President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party is unlikely to implement the
much-anticipated wide-ranging media reforms.
Rejoice Ngwenya described the latest promise to overhaul the government
media policies as "pandering and pontificating for the sake of it."
"When it comes to independent institutions of governance and democracy,
ZANU-PF is going to pontificate and issue propaganda statements that look
credible on paper, but they don't follow them up. So, we are kind of used
to this idea. This things needs political will, but ZANU-PF cannot deliver
that," he said.
Zimbabwe's information minister, Webster Shamu, said Monday that the
administration will soon implement wide-ranging media reforms that could
result in independent media outlets breaking the government's hold on the
flow of information.
But, Zimbabwe's last independent newspaper was shut down in 2003 after being
accused of criticizing President Robert Mugabe's government.
Analyst Ngwenya said ZANU-PF is only interested in furthering its interest.
"I don't think that this time is going to be different. Regulations and
laws that have to do with self-enrichment and self-empowerment like
indigenisation (law that forces white-owned companies to sell a majority
stake to local blacks) are going to be cobbled overnight with a string of
propaganda and paranoia around these things by the state media.I agree with
those who say that this is not any different," Ngwenya said.
Recently, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai came up with what has been
described as an ambitious plan that might see the government relax draconian
media and security laws by the end of the year. But, some analysts express
skepticism saying hardliners from President Mugabe's ZANU-PF will undermine
Tsvangirai's efforts to maintain the status quo.
The Media Alliance of Zimbabwe (MAZ) - a coalition of groups that includes
the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA), Zimbabwe Union of Journalists
(ZUJ), and others, have often said that the country's media laws were being
used selectively to muzzle the independent media - a charge supporters of
the ZANU-PF deny.
Ngwenya said ZANU-PF propaganda will suffer if the party embarks on media
"What that means basically is that ZANU-PF has signed its death warrant.
There is no way ZANU-PF can survive politically when the citizens of this
country have access to information and are free to get independent political
opinion, and are free to chose," Ngwenya said.
Education Minister David Coltart, senator for the Bulawayo constituency of
Khumalo, said it is not yet clear if the North Koreans will train in
Zimbabwe during the 2010 World Cup starting next month in South Africa
Gibbs Dube | Washington 03 May 2010
The Zimbabwean Cabinet on Tuesday was to take up the highly sensitive
question of to whether the country should invite North Korea's soccer team
to train in the country through the World Cup in neighboring South Africa,
amid demands by Matabeleland regional activists that the team not be
Objections have to do with the fact that the Zimbabwean Fifth Brigade,
accused of committing massacres during the 1980s Gukurahundi conflict
between rival liberation forces in Matabeleland, was North Korean-trained.
Education Minister David Coltart, senator for the Bulawayo constituency of
Khumalo, said it is not yet clear if the North Koreans will train in
Zimbabwe during the 2010 World Cup next month in South Africa.
Coltart said that while it is unfair to blame the young soccer players for
the Fifth Brigade massacres in the Midlands and Matabeleland regions in the
1980s, the government should take into account the demands by regional
Matabeleland activists that the North Korean team not train in Zimbabwe.
Coltart told VOA Studio 7 reporter Gibbs Dube that there is no need to open
up old wounds by hosting a team whose presence in the country may provoke
political disturbances. "It is important that we deal with this issue in a
sensitive manner so that we don't allow a visit like this to inflame
passions or re-open wounds," Coltart said.
Brilliant Mhlanga, a member of the Matabeleland activist group Ibhetshu
Likazulu, said the North Korean soccer players would not be welcome in
Matabeleland or anywhere else in Zimbabwe. He said would be a "symbolic
insult" to have the North Koreans train in Zimbabwe as the Fifth Brigade
atrocities remain unresolved.
"Our wounds are still fresh and it is even more insulting to the spirit of
those whose innocent blood was shed after undergoing the most horrific, evil
and satanic acts ever committed in the history of modern day Zimbabwe," he
Historians estimate that more than 20,000 people, mainly of the Ndebele
ethnic group, were killed by soldiers of the Fifth Brigade in a purge of
supporters of then-opposition leader Joshua Nkomo, head of the Zimbabwe
African People's Union, which later merged with the Zimbabwe African
National Union of Robert Mugabe.
Nkomo became Zimbabwean vice president under the Unity Accord which ended
President Robert Mugabe has described the massacres as "an act of madness,"
he has failed to publicly apologize for atrocities or provide compensation
for the families of civilians killed by government troops.
by Own Correspondent Tuesday 04 May 2010
HARARE - Zimbabwe and Botswana will on Thursday next week sign an agreement
for the refurbishment of a key thermal power station in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's
second largest city.
Once fully operational the Bulawayo Thermal Power station is expected to
produce around 90 MW, of which 40 MW would be exported to Botswana.
Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) managing director Noah Gwariro made told
Parliament's portfolio committee on mines and energy that the deal would be
signed on May 15 between the two governments as well as representatives
from, ZESA Holdings and Botswana Power Cooperation (BPC).
"We have had a number of meetings with BPC and I understand that on 15 May
the two Ministries will sign an Intergovernmental agreement," he said. "A
loan agreement will also be signed with ZESA Holdings while BPC and Zimbabwe
Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company will sign a power purchase
Zimbabwe has three thermal power stations namely, Bulawayo, Harare and
Munyati, but years of under funding and mismanagement have left the power
stations virtually derelict.
Gwariro said BPC had undertaken to ensure a three-month advance supply of
coal to the power station before commencing operations.
He said the due the high cost of the electricity that will be produced from
the thermal plant some of the electricity will be sold to mining houses.
"The energy generated from the thermal power plant is expensive as it will
cost more," he said. "Some of the electricity generated from the thermal
station will be
sold to some gold mining houses. The cost is also partly due to the distance
from the source of coal," he said. - ZimOnline
By Tichaona Sibanda
4 May 2010
Police in Nyazura, Manicaland province are refusing to investige the attack
on 82 year old Chief Jameson Nyamombe, which left him hospitalised with head
injuries and a temporary loss of hearing.
The attack, described by locals as political, has not been investigated
despite reports being made to the authorities.
The chief was on his way home from Rusape when he was savagely attacked
inside the bus by two well known ZANU PF youths from Makoni South
constituency, that is held by the MDC.
Netsai Nyamombe, the chief's daughter, told us her elderly father was in a
Shungu bus when the two youths accused him of supporting the MDC and of
trying to ursurp powers from Chief Chiduku, a non constituency senator
representing ZANU PF.
'The attack was in broad daylight with many witnesses. They held him by the
collar and threw punches at his face in front of shocked passengers in the
bus. No one dared to intervene for fear of reprisals from the two youths,'
The troublemakers also verbally abused the chief, calling him all sorts of
names. The chief was able to disembark from the bus at Chitenderano in
Makoni South. A report of the attack was lodged with the police at Nyazura
'Right now he's back home recovering after spending a week at Rusape general
hospital. Its obvious this was a serious attack on a frail 82 year-old
because it left him traumatised. The attack also left him with a hearing
problem,' Netsai added.
MDC MP for the area Pishai Muchauraya called Chief Nyamombe to inquire about
his health and to express his sympathy. He said the attack was an act of
violence on an elderly member of the community, 'which was beyond our
culture of understanding.'
'While I've urged my constituents to remain calm over this incident, the
authorities are reluctant to act against the known culprits. They're too
scared to pick up the thugs because they belong to ZANU PF,' the MP said.
May 4, 2010
By Ray Matikinye
BULAWAYO - A former programme officer with the Girl Child Network (GCN) has
won a labour dispute against the director and founder of the organisation,
Betty Makoni for unfair labour practices and dismissal.
Ropafadzo Mapimhidze took the award-winning single issue lobby organisation
to court when her employer locked her out of her workplace and arbitrarily
terminated her employment contract for questioning some of the director's
Labour court arbitrator J T Mawire of Eastlea suburb, Harare ruled in
Mapimhidze's favour against GCN, represented by Nyikadzino, Koworera and
Partners for failing to honour its obligations in terms of the employment
contract; failing to pay salaries and benefits as stipulated in the
contract and for substantial variations on the contract.
Mapimhidze, a former journalist, was employed by the Girl Child Network as a
programme officer in charge of five programs.
From January 2009 a number of changes were made to her contract while her
programs under her charge were reduced from five to one. She also had her
salary varied on several occasions from $1 200 to $860 resulting in a
cumulative shortfall of $3 400 over two years.
GCN lawyers had argued that Mapimhidze had absented herself from duty and
their client felt it had to terminate her contract when it expired.
But in his ruling, the arbitrator noted that GNC had failed to provide her
with the tools of trade and had made it impossible for her to carry out her
He also dismissed GNC's assertion that the contract was not permanent as the
organisation argued, attributing this to a mistake in drafting the contract.
Mawire ruled that Mapimhidze be reinstated without loss of salary including
arrear salaries from the date of unlawful dismissal. If GCN can no longer
reinstate her, it must negotiate the amount of terminal benefits with the
claimant in lieu of reinstatement.
The Girl Child Network has been facing serious organizational and management
problems since its founder fled Zimbabwe to Botswana en route to Europe
allegedly "fearing for her life" at the height of political disturbances
after the 2008 general elections, leaving behind a disgruntled workforce.
The ruling against GCN appears to be an icebreaker to a possible series of
lawsuits from employees as the organisation battles to survive.
Some of the workers have threatened to take the organisation to court and
expose Makoni's alleged fraudulent financial misdeeds that have left them
unpaid for months while Makoni was said to be still globe-trotting.
Employees talk of abuse of donor funds, the organisation's assets including
vehicles, and allege that Makoni inflated figures to donors in project
proposals for her own benefit at the expense of beneficiaries and
misrepresented the success of GCN programs countrywide.
Last year, Makoni won the Cable News Network (CNN) award for courage.
Zimbabwe Information Centre Inc
PO Box K824, HAYMARKET NSW 1240
May 4, 2010,
Mary Robinson visit enlivens Zimbabwe national healing process
Mary Robinson and a distinguished team of African Sisters visited Zimbabwe in the week of April 23-30, as guests of both the Gender Ministry and the Organ on National Healing, Reconciliation and Integration. "We thank you for contributing to the creation of a safe space for women to work together for the past week," said Senator Mrs Sekai Holland, Minister of State and co-Principal of the Organ.
Mary Robinson is the Honorary President of Oxfam International, one of the group of Elders, and is currently the President of Realizing Rights: The Ethical Globalization Initiative, based in New York.
As the women's team visited rural and urban areas, they heard loud and clear that the process of national healing, reconciliation and integration is long overdue, that a visible, audible and heart-felt national healing process should be urgently implemented. "I am therefore pleased to assure all these women especially the youths that the program is now in place and will begin soon, as the Organ has now signed the UN Development Program - Organ plan of action for 2010," said Minister Holland. "Women also wanted the constitutional process to be informed by the values of a nation that is in a healing process".
One immediate outcome of the international team visit was the signing of an agreement by Comrade Oppah Muchinguri for ZANU/PF, Amai Ena Chitsa for the MDC-Tsvangirai and Tsitsi Dangarembga for MDC-Mutambara, who together pledged on behalf of their parties to continue to dialogue on key issues. "The Organ principals advise women to dialogue first within their own political parties, then they are able to effectively work between and among the political parties.
“The Organ believes that without their cleaning out the challenges that divide women within their own political parties then the work among political parties will fail to take off," said Minister Holland.
The Minister urged Mary Robinson and her team to come back soon. "The dialogue this week has contributed tremendously to cooling the ground among the women in Zimbabwe. It brought together women from different sectors and political affiliations to work together and to focus on the empowerment of women and how women can be peace builders working together above all their differences," she said.
The visit is an outcome of six months of intensive international effort by the Organ to have Zimbabwe take ownership of matters Zimbabwean in the international community as well to inform the millions of Zimbabweans abroad that the Global Political Agreement is real and it has empowered Zimbabweans to make significant achievements in its short life. Regular grassroots surveys by the Organ confirm this impact.
This is also the Organ’s first program with government Ministries for solidarity partnerships to support local, regional and international alignment of their work with Zimbabwe-specific National Healing. The aim is to target all entry points of organized Zimbabwean society at home and abroad for an inclusive outcome. “Civil society includes the elderly, children, the youth, people with disability, business, faith-based organizations, trade union movement, students, the health and economically-challenged and others,” said Minister Holland.
The Organ has adopted History as the centre piece for Zimbabweans to dialogue about their society. The Gender Ministry was asked to consider the Monrovia Colloquium 2009, which was about possible peaceful mobilization of women by women, as a way for women to explore national healing, in partnership with the Organ. The Mary Robinson tour is a practical expression of this partnership.
The United Nations Development Program worked successfully with the small Organ staff through its Resident coordinator Ms Elizabeth Lwaanga to facilitate the dialogue between the Mary Robinson team and Zimbabwean women.
For further comment: Peter Murphy +61 418 312 301
Level 3, 110 Kippax St,
Surry Hills NSW 2010, Australia
Ph: +61 2 9211 4164; Fax: +61 2 9211 1407
ABN 63 050 096 976
promoting democracy, social justice and environmental sustainability
Party officials said they have not been able to determine why a front loader
was left in the middle of a highway leading to the single-care crash in
Chris Gande | Washington 03 May 2010
The highway crash in which three senior officials of the Movement for
Democratic Change formation headed by Zimbabwean Deputy Prime Minister
Arthur Mutambara died last week has claimed another victim.
MDC Midlands Province Youth Secretary George Mkaru died Monday morning at
the United Bulawayo Hospitals of injuries sustained in the April 24 crash,
Mutambara MDC sources said.
Party officials said meanwhile that they have not been able to determine why
a front loader was left in the middle of the highway leading to the
single-care accident in foggy conditions.
Mutambara MDC Chief of Staff Fungisayi Sithole told VOA Studio 7 reporter
Chris Gande that police have not provided answers to questions about the
crash on a highway in Midlands province.
VOA News 04 May 2010
African leaders have begun converging on the Tanzanian city of Dar es Salaam
for the 20th annual World Economic Forum on Africa that begins Wednesday.
Many heads of state are slated to attend the three-day forum, including
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, Rwandan President Paul Kagame and the
president of South Africa, Jacob Zuma.
Organizers say nearly 1,000 people from 85 countries will participate in the
meeting, which will explore the theme "Rethinking Africa's Growth Strategy."
The meeting's host, Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete, describes the
gathering as an "opportunity to examine the strategy of Africa for today" to
ensure "a better tomorrow."
Other leaders taking part in the discussion include the president of the
African Development Bank, Donald Kaberuka, the head of the World Trade
Organization, Pascal Lamy, and representatives of the World Bank and the
The World Economic Forum's Young Global Leaders Summit is being held
concurrently this week in Dar es Salaam. More than 265 young leaders from
more than 70 countries are participating. The young leaders' summit is
focused on development and community building.
The Geneva-based World Economic Forum is an independent organization with a
stated goal of "engaging leaders in partnerships to shape global, regional
and industry agendas."
MTN has been positioning to invest billions of dollars in the Egyptian
telecoms giant Orascom, which holds a 60 percent stake in Telecel through
Gibbs Dube | Washington 03 May 2010
MTN Group of South Africa, which seeks a controlling stake in Telecel
Zimbabwe, has reportedly hit a wall with the Harare government signaling it
will only be allowed to acquire up to 40 percent of the mobile provider.
MTN has been positioning to invest billions of dollars in the Egyptian
telecoms giant Orascom, which holds a 60 percent stake in Telecel through a
subsidiary, Telecel Globe. But that deal now looks at risk.
Telecel Zimbabwe Chief Commercial Officer Anwar Soussa told VOA Studio 7
reporter Gibbs Dube his company is in talks with the Posts and
Telecommunications Regulator in an effort to rescue the deal with MTN.
Soussa said it is unlikely that Zimbabwe will influence the outcome of the
lucrative deal as investment in Algeria plays a crucial role in MTN's
decision to purchase shares in Orascom. "I don't think that Zimbabwe is
going to be the deal broker in this case but Algeria can play a crucial role
in this proposed investment," he said.
Economic commentator Rejoice Ngwenya said the MTN-Orascom deal is being
sabotaged by individuals who hope to acquire a majority stake in Telecel.
"There are some people I can not mention who are busy trying to bring down
this deal because they want to have a major stake in Telecel Zimbabwe," said
Reports say the deal is worth some US$10 billion.
Yahoonews, PTI, 04 May 2010
Providence: New Zealand beat Zimbabwe by 7 runs in a rain-curtailed match by
the D/L method to top their group and make it to the Super Eight.
Chasing 85 runs for a win, New Zealand were 36 for one in 8.1 overs when
rain interrupted play. Opener Brendon McCullum was on 22 and Martin Guptill
(6) was giving him company at the crease.
Zimbabwe collapsed in a heap after a steady start as they were bundled out
for a paltry 84 by New Zealand in their last Group B match of the ICC World
Twenty20. Put into bat, openers Tatenda Taibu and Hamilton Masakadza put on
36 runs in 4.4 overs but after that Zimbabawe batsmen fell in a heap to be
all out for 84 in 15.1 overs.
For New Zealand, Scott Styris and Nathan McCullum took three wickets each by
giving away five and 16 runs respectively. All of McCullum''s scalps came in
the ninth over while Styris took his three wickets in the 13th over.
After the opening stand of 36, Zimbabwe lost five wickets in 15 balls as
they slumped from 57 for one in 6.4 overs to 63 for six in the ninth over.
Later, three wickets fell in the 13th over bowled by Styris.
Taibu top-scored with a breezy 14-ball 21 which included four boundaries
while his opening partner Masakadza contributed run-a-ball 20. Greg Lamb (14
not out) was the only other batsman who reached double figures.
New Zealand opening bowlers Shane Bond and Tim Southee bowled a lively spell
but Taibu was not the one to remain quiet. He hit two fours each off Bond
Southee though had the last laugh as he removed Taibu with a slow bouncer
and the wicketkeeper-batsman holed out to square-leg fielder Jacob Oram
while trying a pull shot. Zimbabwe were at a healthy 41 for one after five
overs but five wickets in 15 balls put them in serious trouble.
First, Masakadza was run out in the seventh over while trying for a single.
Oram, at deep midwicket, released the ball quickly and wicketkeeper Gareth
Hopkins threw the wicket down before Masakadza could reach the crease.
Four balls later, Blignaut (8) fell to Daniel Vettori. He went for a slog
sweep but completely missed it and the ball hit the stumps after kissing the
Three batsmen fell in the ninth over bowled by McCullum. Elton Chigumbura
(3) went for a big shot only to find Martin Guptill.
Charles Coventry offered a tame catch to McCullum in his follow through for
a duck while Craig Ervine (1) was stumped by Hopkins after he was foxed by
the flight of the delivery. There was lull for a while and Zimbabwe added 10
runs from 21 balls before Timycen Maruma (4) fell in the 13th over.
That led to another collapse as his two team-mates Graeme Cremer and Prosper
Utseya fell in the same over. Both of them failed to open their account.
Ray Price (2) was the last man out LBW to Vettori as Zimbabwe folded at 84,
the second lowest total in the tournament so far.
By Anne Applebaum
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad campaigned in Uganda and Zimbabwe. Behind the
scenes, his flunkies twisted arms and offered favors. For weeks, feelers
were sent out to all kinds of unlikely allies. What was the diplomatic prize
at stake? Nothing less than a seat on the United Nations council on human
Which was perfectly appropriate: Despite its title, this is a committee
whose past members -- Syria, Saudi Arabia, Zimbabwe among them -- have not
been renowned for their adherence to the Universal Declaration on Human
Rights. On the contrary, authoritarian regimes have long battled to join the
council and its predecessor organizations, the better to prevent any
outsiders from investigating their own governments. Once they became
members, much of their time was spent denouncing Israel and the United
States, while studiously avoiding anything that might sound like, say,
criticism of Russian behavior in Chechnya.
Different American administrations have adopted different approaches to this
peculiar institution. In recent years the United States has quit the
council, denounced the council and isolated the council, generally with
bipartisan support. Perhaps the only New York Times editorial ever written
in praise of John Bolton, President Bush's pugnacious U.N. ambassador,
complimented him for advocating its radical reform.
Yet the council kept working to the advantage of its members: The fact is
that in such places as Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Zimbabwe, praise -- or
even lack of condemnation -- from something called the "U.N. human rights
council" still carries a good deal of political weight. We might roll our
eyes when a committee headed by Libya solemnly pats China on the back for
its good behavior in Tibet, but in China this makes useful propaganda. We
might not take seriously the umpteenth denunciation of Israel by yet another
U.N. body, but the Syrian government probably finds it useful.
Knowing this to be the case, the Obama administration, while it was pressing
its other reset buttons, decided to rejoin the council in 2009, the better
to "reform the institution from within." This was not just a gesture of
friendship to the human rights council but an olive branch for the United
Nations itself: We were going to engage with the process, work with others,
use diplomacy. We were going to change the way the committee functioned,
make the United Nations work for democratic values and not against them.
And we did. When Iran began to campaign for membership, Western diplomats --
French, Swiss, American and others -- took this prospect seriously for the
first time in recent memory. They, too, began twisting arms and offering
favors. They, too, sent their ambassadors to bat. Western human rights
groups planned major events around the council meeting. Two French human
rights activists made a film about the whole affair. Other experts mobilized
their evidence: The wave of arrests and killings that followed last June's
disputed Iranian election; the women who are severely beaten for not
covering their bodies; the wider discrimination against women and religious
minorities in courts of law; the ubiquitous presence of police thugs and
informers on the streets.
It worked. Fearing it would lose, or fearing bad publicity that might get
beamed back into the country, Iran withdrew its bid on April 23. The human
rights groups claimed "victory." American officials spoke loftily of a "step
in the right direction."
And the result? Five days later, another committee, the U.N. Commission on
the Status of Women -- a body dedicated to "gender equality and the
advancement of women" -- put out a turgid news release announcing its new
members. Among them will be . . . the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Which is fine, unless you think that the "advancement of women" should not
include stoning them for alleged adultery. And unless you think, as I do,
that it is time to abandon the fiction of U.N. human rights diplomacy
altogether -- or if you worry, as perhaps we all ought to, that Iran knows
its way around U.N. nuclear diplomacy better than we imagine.
By Steve Vickers
BBC News, Harare
Two women are planning to set up laughter clubs in Zimbabwe, one of the world's most challenging economies.
Shilpa Shah and Celina Stockill believe they will help people cope with the strains of Zimbabwean life.
They recently held workshops at the Harare International Festival of the Arts, with a range of exercises to encourage good hearty laughter.
"If you laugh - you change; and when you change - the world changes," said laughter trainer Ms Shah.
We need to laugh more, especially in our situation in Zimbabwe - being poor, you've got to learn to laugh
"So it's peace to the world, laughter to Zimbabwe, so let's share the happiness and spread the happy-demic."
At their workshops, Ms Shah and Ms Stockhill encourage people to hold hands, make funny faces at each other and lie on the floor and kick their legs in the air.
They also ask them to pull their empty pockets out to laugh at each other's lack of cash, and to point and laugh at themselves.
"We need to laugh more, especially in our situation in Zimbabwe - being poor, you've got to learn to laugh," said one man at a recent workshop.
Last year a unity government halted the collapse of Zimbabwe's economy - which left the Zimbabwean dollar almost worthless - by allowing the use of foreign currency.
But it has meant that those without access to hard currency are often in a desperate situation.
'No sense of humour'
The mood in the workshop quickly moved from quiet anticipation to an explosion of mirth and merriment.
The trainers believe laughter delivers genuine health benefits
"You don't have to have a reason to laugh; you don't have to be happy to laugh," said Ms Shah.
"And you don't have to have a sense of humour to laugh."
Ms Stockhill says laughter has many health benefits, and she passionately believes that people should aim for 10 minutes of hearty laughter a day.
"There are three benefits - emotional, physical and mental. We release stress by laughing, we activate our lymphatic system and it's a very strong cardio work-out."
"It helps your digestive system and your reproductive system - it's a big 'on' button, whereas stress is a big 'off' button.
"We need to use our diaphragm to laugh, to laugh from our stomach. I look at myself in the mirror and laugh for 10 to 15 minutes."
Outgoing, genuine and wanting to make the country a better place, the two laughter trainers plan to start a network of clubs around Zimbabwe.
"We've been conditioned to laugh only at certain things and the classes are a way of laughing for no reason in a safe space," said Ms Stockhill.
Tue May 4, 2010 9:39am GMT
* Economy slowly recovering from hyperinflation
* Shops full but unemployment rife
* Foreign investment badly needed
By Marius Bosch
HARARE, May 4 (Reuters) - The hordes of black-market currency traders in
Zimbabwe's capital Harare have gone out of business.
Just over a year ago, Zimbabwe had the world's worst modern-day
hyperinflation and the national currency was worthless.
Streets in central Harare were lined with black-market traders exchanging
huge wads of Zimbabwean dollars for U.S. dollars or South Africa rand.
One trader, who did so well illegally dealing in foreign exchange he could
afford to take a second wife, has taken up his old job as a taxi driver.
"Life has become so difficult and there is no meaningful business to sustain
my life. In the past, no matter how difficult it was, you could always get
some money, but not now. Raising a dollar has become hard labour," said
Derick Chiwapura who traded foreign exchange at a Harare shopping mall.
Today, shops in the capital are fully stocked with goods which anyone can
buy as long as they pay in U.S. dollars. Zimbabwe's government allowed the
use of multiple currencies in early 2009, effectively making the dollar the
Harare's streets are markedly cleaner than they were six months ago, grocery
shops have sprung up all over the capital -- offering goods at prices
comparable to neighbouring South Africa -- and there are more new vehicles
on the roads.
But much-needed investment from abroad remains absent and the country's
stock exchange has seen foreign investors retreat after the introduction of
regulations calling for foreign-owned companies to transfer a majority stake
Zimbabwe moved to implement the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act
that requires foreign firms to sell a 51 percent stake to local blacks at
the end of January.
"The foreigners are sniffing around. You can see that from the full hotels
but nothing will happen until the economy picks up," said one banker in
Zimbabwe's power-sharing government, set up by President Robert Mugabe and
his rival Morgan Tsvangirai, now the country's prime minister, has estimated
around $10 billion is needed to repair the economy.
Foreign investors are also reluctant to pledge funds without faster
political reform. Mugabe's ZANU-PF party and Tsvangirai's MDC continue to
bicker over the pace of reforms and appointments of senior state officials.
One area where change is yet to happen is the country's state media.
State-owned Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation recently ran Mugabe's speech
on the occasion of the country's 30th independence anniversary as the main
news item -- for four days in a row.
And every reference to him on state television is prefixed with: "His
Excellency, The President, Head of Government and Commander-in-chief of the
Zimbabwe Defence Force".
Bankers and the country's stock exchange say the economy can only recover if
there is significant foreign investment but the controversial empowerment
regulations have spooked investors.
"We are hearing that the regulations are going to be reviewed but the
unfortunate thing is, investors don't wait for you. They will go elsewhere,"
said Zimbabwe Stock Exchange Chief Executive Officer Emmanuel Munyukwi.
At the height of Zimbabwe's economic crisis in 2008, the ZSE experienced a
boom as many Zimbabweans saw the exchange as their only hedge against
Munyukwi said this was a nightmare for the exchange.
"When you start seeing vendors in the street playing the stock market, you
know something is wrong. We were seeing guys selling bananas in the stock
market foyer checking stock prices".
For many Zimbabweans, not much has changed in the past year.
Unemployment remains above 80 percent, state employees are paid no more than
$150 a month and electricity cuts occur daily.
"Don't worry gentlemen, we will start the generator and set you up quickly,"
a Harare restaurant owner told a group of customers who arrived during a
145 Robert Mugabe Way, Exploration House, Third Floor; Website: www.chra.co.zw
Another health crisis looms...
As Robinson House goes for three weeks without water 04 May 2010
The Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) is deeply concerned with the unhygienic conditions that have obtained at Robinson House due to lack of water supplies in the building. Robinson House, which, is situated in the city’s Central Business District at Corner Angwa Street and Kwame Nkrumah, has gone for more than three weeks without any water supplies; a situation that is threatening the health of the office occupants in the building.
The toilets in the building are producing a strong stench that has rendered the building a no go area for many people. The office tenants at the building have described the situation as a ‘nightmare’ saying that they have had to continue using the toilets even though there is no water. Tenants have also expressed concern at the reluctance of the City of Harare to timeously look into their plight as nothing has been done since a report was made to the city fathers about two weeks ago. The City of Harare has actually worsened the situation by disconnecting water to the building citing outstanding bills. Tenants who were interviewed by the CHRA Secretariat revealed that the City of Harare is well aware of the water problems that the building has been facing for the past four years. The building was actually temporarily closed by the City Health Department sometime in 2008 but lasting solutions to the water problems have not been found since.
The toilets are in such a bad state that some of the tenants have resorted to using the toilets at Angwa City; a situation that is also putting a strain on Angwa City. City of Harare has attributed the water shortages to the obsolete water pipes that supply water to Robinson House. However, no commitments were made as to when the situation will be rectified. The cleaners who were contracted by the owners of Robinson House are not doing their work properly as they only appear occasionally (sometimes after two weeks in a row) with small buckets of water to mop the corridors. The business operators indicated that they had communicated the problem to the caretaker, known as Mr Besa and he seemed not to have any solutions to the problem.
Robinson House is run by Knight Frank on behalf of Olshevik Investments Private Limited .The Estate agent in charge of issues at this building is Mr Masuku who is an employee of Knight Frank. Some tenants at the building who requested anonymity revealed that the Harare City Council had once tried to close down the building on the grounds that it was not safe for human use but some senior city officials were bribed by some of the business people at the building and it was re-opened.
CHRA calls on the City of Harare as well as the Knight Frank Company to urgently address the water situation at Robinson House before a serious health crisis surfaces. It should be remembered that Harare is already battling to contain other water borne diseases like typhoid and cholera and the last thing that residents need is another epidemic. The Association calls on the city fathers to prioritize disease prevention so as to protect the health of residents.
CHRA remains committed to advocating for good, transparent and accountable local governance as well as lobbying for quality and affordable municipal services on a non partisan basis.