By Alex Bell
07 May 2012
A delegation of Zimbabwean government ministers will travel to the European
Union (EU) this week, for talks aimed at securing the lifting of targeted
sanctions still in place against the Robert Mugabe regime.
According to the state-owned Sunday Mail newspaper the six member delegation
will travel to Brussels on Tuesday. Quoting foreign affairs secretary Joey
Bimha, the newspaper reported that the delegation would meet with Catherine
Ashton, the EU foreign affairs chief and vice president of the European
The paper also quoted ZANU PF’s Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa as saying
that the objective of the EU meeting is to push for the removal of sanctions
on Mugabe and top officials in his ZANU PF party.
“Our position is that the sanctions should be removed unconditionally and
that is what we are going to take to the table,” Chinamasa said.
The EU in February this year removed a visa ban and asset freeze on 51
individuals on the list of targeted restrictive measures, to encourage
“further progress” of political reforms in Zimbabwe. 112 people are still
subject to the measures.
The easing of those ‘shopping sanctions’ was quickly followed by a similar
show from the Australian government, which dropped its version of
restrictive Zim sanctions against 82 people on its list.
These fresh talks with the EU come as there are building tensions on the
ground in Zimbabwe, with worsening violence against MDC members,
intensifying hate speech in the state media, and ongoing threats from ZANU
PF to hold an election without necessary reforms.
The situation has led many observers to criticise the EU’s attempts to
restore relations with Zimbabwe as premature and possibly a sign that
globally the Zimbabwe crisis is being swept under the rug.
McDonald Lewanika from the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition said recently that
the ongoing situation in Zimbabwe is being overshadowed by other political
developments across the world.
Speaking at the launch of a report in London last week, Lewanika explained
that although Zimbabwe remains a “difficult place,” “there is a temptation
for people to think we are ok.”
“There are other events and more dramatic things demanding the world’s
attention, like developments in North Africa and the Arab world. So if we
talk about democratisation in Africa, Zimbabwe has fallen off the radar,” he
He added: “So we find ourselves in a place where the attention we used to
get pre 2008 we are not getting at the moment, and it adds to our
difficulties. We are now a country that continues to cry to ourselves with
little in the way of sympathy or comfort from our neighbours or other parts
of the world.”
Lewanika said Zimbabwe’s crisis was a complicated and unique one, with no
way to predict how things will turn out. He said the situation continues to
be marred by violence, confusion and uncertainty, with the control still in
the Mugabe regime’s hands.
He also warned: “I believe that Zimbabwe is on the verge of reinventing
authoritarianism and dictatorship based on practices not seen in a lot of
Bulawayo, May 07, 2012- The African Commission on Human and People’s Rights
(ACHPR) has pledged to press the government to respect the rule of law,
Radio VOP was told.
The development followed submissions by civic society organisations during
the 51st session of the ACPHR held recently in Gambia over human rights
violations by the police in Zimbabwe.
Effie Ncube, the director of the Matabeleland Constitutional Reform Agenda
(MACRA) who attended the ACPHR meeting in Gambia, said the government had
dismissed human rights violations submissions by the civic groups as
propaganda and falsehoods.
The government was represented by David Mangota, who is the Permanent
Secretary in the Justice and Legal Ministry.
“The government was opposed to our suggestions that it was yet to establish
the rule of law when we cited for example the continued arrest and
harassment of Zimbabweans in their aspirations for democracy.
“They (government) said all we were saying was a complete lie, fabrication,
falsehood and coming from the Western driven Agenda as it were.
“Other s stakeholders who attended the ACPHR session were however very much
aware and cognisant that were telling the truth about Zimbabwe and the
Commission did commit itself to look into our allegations and to press the
government for change in respect of the rule of law and the Global Political
Agreement (GPA),” Ncube told Radio VOP in an interview on Saturday.
The ACHPR is an intergovernmental organisation seized with several appeals
about violations of human rights over freedom of expression, torture,
politically motivated violence, undermining of the judiciary and independent
national mechanisms and forced evictions under the guise of clean-up
President Robert Mugabe, his Zanu-PF party and state security organs stand
accused of widespread human rights abuses.
Mugabe denies the charges and instead accuses the European Union (EU) and
the West of human rights violations for imposing sanctions on his inner
circle and some government entities.
The EU and the West imposed targeted sanctions on Mugabe and his top
military, ruling and business associates in 2002 as punishment for
perpetuating human rights violations and failure to uphold the rule of law.
Written by Chengetai Zvauya and Kaleen Gombera
Monday, 07 May 2012 11:34
HARARE - Armed police yesterday disrupted a rally called by Prime Minister
Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC in Kambuzuma in Harare claiming they were looking
for people who had attacked a police officer.
The disruption of the rally comes as tensions rise in the country ahead of
elections expected next year, although President Robert Mugabe and his Zanu
PF hardliners insist the elections will be held this year.
The unexpected arrival of the police caused pandemonium amongst MDC
supporters who were gathered at Kambuzuma Section 3 Shopping Centre for the
The rally was organised by the MDC Harare province leadership.
The rally was attended by MDC national organising secretary and Kuwadzana MP
Nelson Chamisa, MP for Glen View and Harare province chairman Paul Madzore
and Kambuzuma MP Willias Madzimure.
The police descended on the rally as Chamisa was in the middle of his
address and rounded-up two youths at the rally claiming they were the ones
who had attacked the unnamed officer.
As panic-stricken MDC supporters started jostling to leave, Chamisa pleaded
with them to stay.
“Musavhunduke zvenyu mapurisa, MP vaMadzimure varikutaura navo” (Don’t be
afraid of the police, MP Madzimure will speak to them)," said Chamisa, as
more people streamed out of the venue.
The police continued circling the supporters allegedly looking for the
The rally had to be called off even though it was cleared by police to run
It prematurely ended around 4pm.
The MDC leadership at the rally tried to reason with police pleading with
them not to interfere with the rally, but the protestations fell on deaf
Many people who had gathered to hear Chamisa deliver his speech dispersed,
with only the die-hard MDC supporters in MDC regalia staying put.
Chamisa confronted the police alleging they had fabricated a false charge to
disrupt the rally.
One police officer charged that it was not “fabrication” but insisted they
were investigating the attack of a police officer.
Speaking after the disruption of the rally, Chamisa said he was not amused
with the police action.
“The police are trying to disrupt every rally. Yesterday, they disrupted our
rally in Highfield. This unwarranted intervention is unnecessary. The police
must protect us instead of disrupting the rally,” he said.
MDC Harare province organising secretary Tichaona Munyanyi claimed that on
Saturday afternoon in Highfield, police fired tear smoke canisters,
disrupting an MDC rally on the pretext that an unknown group linked to Zanu
PF's Chipangano militia had attacked them. They tried to stop the rally.
Loice Mabamu, an MDC supporter who was attacked at the Highfied rally, told
the Daily News: “There were people who were wearing Zanu PF T-shirts who
came and caused confusion. When the police came, they threw tear gas at us.
I was hit by a stone on my left leg as I tried to run away.”
In the past, several MDC rallies have been stopped by the police.
Sunday, 07 May 2012
The MDC, once again, expresses its deepest revulsion and disgust over
attempts by heavily armed police officers to disrupt an MDC rally in
Kambuzuma, Harare at the weekend.
The MDC finds it strange that the same police force have failed to make any
meaningful arrests on known Zanu PF thugs and miscreants who waged a reign
of terror against MDC members in Highfield, Harare last week.
Six MDC members had to be hospitalised as a result of the attack by the Zanu
Police on Sunday unsuccessfully tried to block an MDC rally that was being
addressed by the MDC National Organising Secretary, Hon. Nelson Chamisa.
Fortunately, their evil machinations came to naught as an unshaken Hon.
Chamisa went on to address the well attended rally.
This action clearly shows that the police have embarked on a crusade aimed
at disrupting peaceful MDC rallies across the country. The police and Zanu
PF want to systematically isolate the MDC from its millions of supporters.
The attempts by the police to disrupt the MDC rally has nothing to do with
the rule of law but represents a clearly desperate and doomed persistence in
fighting the advent of real change which is upon us in this country.
This is nothing but naked repression which flies in the face of any pretence
to democracy and respect for human rights. It confirms that we are still
stuck in the yester-year forms of repression and abuse of human rights. It
adds to a litany of toxic acts that have poisoned the hope and expectations
that had begun to be engendered by the inclusive government.
The MDC, therefore, urges the inclusive government to move quickly to repair
its image which is taking a knock every day from unrepentant residual
elements that are fighting the new Zimbabwe that is coming. Together with
the people, we will continue to march towards a new Zimbabwe and a new
The MDC urges the people to remain resolute and steadfast in the struggle
for real change. What is happening reflects the last acts of desperation
from a nostalgic group of people who have lost their way and are unsure
about their fate.
The nation is watching these developments with a keen interest. The people
know what is happening in their own communities. They are keeping records of
the perpetrators and their sponsors.
The MDC has survived the sordid alliance in the past 12 years and remains
resolute in its struggle against these forces of darkness.
The people’s struggle for real change: Let’s finish it!
By Tichaona Sibanda
07 May 2012
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC says ZANU PF and the security forces
in Harare are intensifying a campaign of violence and intimidation against
its party member, in advance of elections the former ruling party want this
The MDC-T MP for Kambuzuma, Willias Madzimure, said ZANU PF is in the
process of creating a climate of intimidation and political violence that
could prevent free and fair voting.
‘We had a rally in Kambuzuma which was disrupted by armed police on Sunday.
Can you imagine the same police going to a ZANU PF rally and disrupting it
for whatever reason? asked the MP. The legislator added: ‘It shows there is
a hidden hand in what the security forces are doing.’
The crackdown on the MDC in Harare is increasing as the country moves closer
to elections. Mugabe, 88, who has ruled since independence in 1980, wants
another five-year term as president despite his candidature in ZANU PF
causing a rift in the party.
The ageing leader is facing the toughest electoral challenge of his rule and
in an effort to gain greater control, his militants are forcing people to
support the divided party.
The militants also went on orgy of violence in Highfields where they left
six MDC-T members hospitalised following the violent attack. The MDC-T said
three houses were damaged in the same attack.
It named the injured as Thulani Ncube, Shadrick Ngirazi, sisters, Maud and
Tsitsi Chinyerere, their two daughters, Rosie (14) and Nomatter (13).
Madzimure said despite all this provocation, his party believes in peaceful
transition. He admitted though that party members were getting increasingly
agitated and baying for revenge.
‘We are a peace loving party and we always urge our members not to engage in
violence. I wish our colleagues from ZANU PF could do the same and urge
their supporters to desist from attacking our members,’ the MP said.
Meanwhile weekend newspaper reports suggest that missing human rights
activist Paul Chizuze is feared dead and Bulawayo police have since handed
the matter to the Criminal Investigations Department.
Concern has been building over the fate of the human rights activist who
went missing three months ago. He was last seen around 8 pm on 8th February,
but what happened after this remains a mystery. There have been fears he was
hijacked or abducted by parties unknown. His car, a white twin cab Nissan
Hardbody (registration ACJ 3446) has also not been seen.
A Bulawayo police spokesman, Mandlenkosi Moyo told the Zimbabwe Standard
that the matter of Chizuze has been transferred to the CID because it was
rendered a suspected murder.
07 May 2012
Ntungamili Nkomo | Washington DC
Zimbabwe's panel leading the writing of a new constitution met Monday with
civic groups in Bulawayo to clarify a number of issues it says have been
grossly misrepresented by hardliners in President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF
The parliamentary committee, widely known as Copac, also unveiled its
official draft charter, different from other documents previously leaked to
the state media, supposedly by ZANU-PF politicians trying to frustrate the
Committee co-chairman Douglas Mwonzora unpacked the draft amid lingering
skepticism, especially over the issue of devolution of power.
"A lot of misinformation has being peddled by elements in ZANU-PF about the
draft," Mwonzora said. "We saw it important, therefore, to engage the civic
groups and set the record straight."
Groups at the meeting included the Bulawayo Agenda, Matabeleland
Constitutional Reform Agenda, NANGO and the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human
Rights, all supportive of devolution.
The constitution committee provided the unity government partners with the
draft charter last week, and is now awaiting their feedback before
finalizing the document that will be taken to a national referendum for
But consensus on the new constitution remains a long shot as ZANU-PF and the
MDC remain divided over a number of contentious issues, among them, dual
Mwonzora told VOA his committee was now awaiting feedback from the unity
partners so it can finalize the charter, which when approved, will replace
the heavily-flawed founding constitution that gives unchecked power to the
"They are delaying us," he said. "We want to finish this process and go for
elections that ZANU-PF has been demanding. There is no need to delay the
process any further."
Bulawayo Agenda programs manager Busani Ncube said the civic groups are now
examining the draft, adding they will convene a meeting later this week to
share their observations.
by Wonai Masvingise I NewsDay
SOUTH Africa is not keen on fulfilling a R1,5 billion line of credit
facility promised by former President Thabo Mbeki, Finance Minister Tendai
Biti has said.
Biti, who is also MDC-T secretary-general, also accused the neighbouring
country of putting up barriers and hindering Zimbabwe from joining the rand
monetary union (RMU).
He said Pretoria had become hostile to Zimbabwe after President Jacob Zuma’s
ascendancy to power.
The finance minister also said South Africa’s trade policy had become
hostile to Zimbabwe after Zuma’s rise to power.
“The bottom line is they do not want to see us,” Biti said. “Have you asked
yourself what Zuma has done for this country since he got into
"In March 2009 we were promised R500 million, but we have not been given
that money. If you speak to (Industry and Commerce minister) Welshman Ncube
he will tell you more on this.”
But Ncube said South Africa had only promised R60 million split equally into
a grant and lines of credit.
“As I recall, there were two tranches, one was a R30 million line of credit
and the other was a R30 million grant,” he said.
“I know the R30 million grant was paid, but I am not sure how far the
Finance ministry has gone with the line of credit.”
The MDC leader also dismissed Biti’s assertion that South Africa’s trade
policy towards Zimbabwe had changed during Zuma’s tenure.
“There is no change,” Ncube said. “The policy framework has not changed from
the time that Mbeki was there to now.”
Biti also hit back at critics accusing him of delaying the adoption of the
rand as Zimbabwe’s currency.
He said Zimbabwe did not meet the criteria required for a country to join
The RMU is a monetary union made up of South Africa, Lesotho, Swaziland and
“South Africa right now has put up barriers and we cannot join the rand
monetary union,” he said. “Zuma has yet to consent to that. There are
certain requirements that a country needs to meet before it can join the
“Sadc protocol requires that inflation must be below 7% and in this regard
we are fine, but the problem comes in on our debts and that is where we are
not in compliance,” Biti added.
Written by Gift Phiri, Chief Writer
Monday, 07 May 2012 15:33
HARARE - Zimbabwe's state-controlled media will be called to account for
inciting hatred against President Robert Mugabe’s critics, Prime Minister
Morgan Tsvangirai has said.
The state-controlled media was using the same strategy as Rwanda’s “Hate
radio” which incited the violence that led to the deaths of about a million
people there in 1994, the prime minister said in a controversial World Press
Freedom Day address that has provoked an angry reaction from presidential
In the months leading up to the forthcoming elections, the state-owned
Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation’s (ZBC) television and radio services and
the government-controlled Zimbabwe Newspapers group have showed overt bias
and played megaphone to Zanu PF.
Tsvangirai’s MDC has written letters to ZBC and Zimpapers bosses protesting
biased reporting, selective coverage and black-out of party activities.
In the meantime, more and new propaganda songs extolling Mugabe’s leadership
are being churned out with even more repulsive dancing by Mbare Chimurenga
Article 19 of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) that gave birth to the
inclusive government, says steps should be taken to ensure that the public
media provides balanced and fair coverage to all political parties for their
legitimate political activities.
It states in part “that the public and private media shall refrain from
using abusive language that may incite hostility, political intolerance and
ethnic hatred or that unfairly undermines political parties and other
The premier said he has been a victim of unbridled propaganda and hate
speech from the Zimpapers and ZBC stables. He told journalists that he has
taken the matter up with Mugabe.
“We agreed as GPA principals that no journalist or media organisation should
make a media blitz against any political party or any person,” Tsvangirai
“No journalist or media organisation must promote hatred, whether the public
media or private media, that is what we agreed."
“Doing so is against the constitution and the law. Let me tell you what
happened in Rwanda — journalists who used the media in creating and
promoting hatred were arrested and tried. They had to answer for the hatred
and hostility they were promoting during that time."
“This has nothing to do with anybody, you the very person who is promoting
hatred shall answer for the hatred and hostility you are promoting in a
country which has a constitution which says you must not do that.”
Tsvangirai called for the dismissal of the Mugabe’s minister of Media,
Information and Publicity Webster Shamu, a former liberation war radio DJ
whom he alleges is resisting the entry of new players in the electronic
“I cannot fire a Zanu PF minister, but if Shamu was an MDC minister, I would
have fired him,” Tsvangirai told journalists. “I am saying to President
Mugabe, Shamu should be fired.”
A shadowy columnist Nathaniel Manheru used the state-run Herald daily to
respond to the Prime Minister saying he must stop issuing “empty threats”
against a minister towards whose appointment he has zero say.
“He admitted to as much, in the process revealing his own effeteness in the
inclusive Government,” Manheru wrote.
“He did much worse. He divided the inclusive government, thereby abjuring
the little symbolic authority he could have invoked for some modicum of
control, for some modicum of empathy.”
Tsvangirai said the state media, which the former trade unionist alleges is
embedded in the President’s Office, must look to Rwanda about the prize for
fanning hatred through the media.
In 2001, the United Nations’ International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda
sentenced two journalists from the militant Hutu radio station, Radio
Television Libre des Mille Collines, known as “Radio Machete”, to life
imprisonment for incitement to genocide. A pro-Hutu newspaper journalist got
35 years on the same charges.
The journalists’ outpourings of hate against the minority Tutsi population
was held as a principal cause of one of the worst cases of genocide in
“The Rwandan example shows that you will be alone, without any institutional
support, when history asks you to account for your role in standing between
the people and their inalienable rights and freedoms,” Tsvangirai said.
Zimbabwe’s state media hold an almost total monopoly, with independent radio
and television stations banned. The Daily News has just celebrated its first
re-launch anniversary after it was closed down eight years ago by heavily
armed paramilitary police in September 2003.
The state media broadcasts a constant stream of news bulletins,
commentaries, talk shows and jingles that shower praise on the 88-year-old
President and pour scorn and insults on the British government, the MDC and
all other critical groups in the country.
Mugabe’s propaganda strategy is to spew the myth of a grand British
terrorist conspiracy — with Tsvangirai cast as “a puppet” — to overthrow
Mugabe and replace him with white, imperialist, neocolonial rule.
Written by Own Correspondent
Monday, 07 May 2012 15:26
HARARE - Teachers said yesterday they were gearing for a strike as schools
open tomorrow because government has still not honoured its pledge to review
salaries as well as improve their welfare.
When schools opened last term, teachers staged a crippling strike demanding
a salary review.
Government buckled and awarded them a paltry $58 increment.
President of Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) Takavafira Zhou
said teachers were getting a raw deal from government which is spending
three times more on globe-trotting than on education, a scenario confirmed
by minister of Education, Sport, Arts and Culture, David Coltart.
Said Zhou: “Teachers are not happy because the government has not done
anything to their plight since the end of the industrial action in the first
“We are hoping that the government would engage leaders for collective
bargaining but the government is playing hide and seek with us. Actually the
government is forcing teachers to strike so we are now engaging each other
in order to come up with the way forward."
“Government has not done anything on our salaries. It only gave us $58 on
allowances pledging that it would continue to engage leadership on salaries
something that they have not done."
Minister of Public Service, Lucia Matibenga, said she was unaware that the
labour movement was planning a strike.
“I have no comment because I don’t know anything,” said Matibenga.
However, the previous strike went on in fits and starts as teacher unions
differed on the approach.
Apart from PTUZ which is often confrontational, there is Zimbabwe Teachers’
Union (Zimta) and also the Teachers Union of Zimbabwe.
Zhou said even though there are divisions in the unions, the objective
should remain the same, to improve welfare.
“I agree that there is division that is caused by corruption emanating from
incentives and different ideological persuasions, but the majority shares a
common denominator and will fight for teachers to earn salaries above the
Poverty Datum Line,” said Zhou.
Zimta chief executive officer Sifiso Ndlovu said a strike will be the last
option but first they will engage President Robert Mugabe.
“We are taking the engagement route, we have requested a meeting with the
President so right now it is premature to strike,” said Ndlovu.
Teachers are demanding $538 a month for the lowest paid, medical and other
allowances for those based in rural areas.
Written by Pindai Dube
Monday, 07 May 2012 11:14
BULAWAYO - Zimbabwe’s Parliament says Media Information and Publicity
Minister Webster Shamu is taking the ministry as his personal property and
will be summoned to the House of Assembly to explain why he is being
stubborn and arrogant.
Addressing journalists at the Bulawayo Press Club on Saturday evening, Anadi
Sululu a parliamentary portfolio committee on media and information member
said Shamu has become a stumbling block in Zimbabwe media reforms by
personalising the ministry.
“It’s so saddening that the minister has taken the ministry as his own
personal asset, he is not even looking at this ministry as part of the
Zimbabwe government. He should be accountable to the nation not to a
“Even up to now, our children are refusing to watch channels like ZTV
because of lack of media reforms. We have actually proposed to call the
minister to Parliament and those are some of the issues we want him to
explain,” said Sululu who is the mainstream MDC legislator for Silobela.
Sululu’s sentiments came days after Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai
demanded that President Robert Mugabe fire Shamu for defying principals in
the inclusive government over media reforms.
Tsvangirai said if Shamu was a mainstream MDC minister, he would have long
fired him for refusing to implement reforms specified in the Global
Political Agreement (GPA).
Sululu also said: “The Parliamentary Portfolio committee on Media and
Information will also summon radio stations who were awarded broadcasting
licences by Broadcasting of Authority of Zimbabwe (Baz) to explain why they
are failing to go on air months after being granted licences.”
Zimbabwe has no independent radio or TV stations at the moment. Last year
the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (Baz) only granted two licences to AB
Communications and Zimpapers’ Talk Radio which have links to Zanu PF and the
Written by Rodwin Chirara, Business Writer
Monday, 07 May 2012 11:42
HARARE - The National Social Security Authority (Nssa) says it is “still to
get feedback” from Paurina Mpariwa’s Labour ministry over a corruption audit
it commissioned this year.
This comes after rampant allegations of irregularities in the disbursement
of funds at the workers’ compensation authority.
“We have not seen the report as it was requested by the minister and she has
not contacted us,” chairperson Innocent Chagonda said.
“When I came in I did not request any audit or report as the issues
pertained to the previous board,” he said.
In March, Mpariwa called for an audit into Nssa’s operations by requesting a
disclosure of beneficiaries of Nssa’s money, amounts and other investments
amid allegations that some firms were virtually non-operational.
The minister also wanted to know the criteria used by the Nssa board to
issue the loans, amid an outcry over goings-on at the national insurance
Mpariwa requested to be availed the list of Nssa tenders beneficiaries
amidst accusation that some might have been corruptly awarded.
However, company general manager James Matiza scoffed off the allegation in
a statement saying the loans had been properly awarded while its auditors
had been satisfied with the transactions.
Nssa has however threatened to take action on companies that it is invested
in which fail to contribute positively to its bottom-line. Chagonda said the
authority would soon be engaging the companies’ management over its
“We happen to have investments in various sectors and it is sad we have not
received any joy from some of them. In due course our management would be
addressing that,”he said.
The Nssa chairperson said the authority was “not happy” over the
contributions of particular entities.
He however did not specify action to be taken by the cash rich social
security authority saying his board will meet the company management over
Chagonda said Nssa would continue to scout for opportunities that offer
value to its investment so as to increase its revenue streams.
He said the authority had started to take action on increasing contribution
streams to sustain the fund.
“We are warned from time to time through our actuarial reports that out fund
might go bust. We have taken measures but some have faced resistance .We
have had to cancel as you might know the statutory instrument to increase
monthly contributions,” the chairperson said.
Nssa earlier in the year was forced to recede a proposed insured limit
increase of $800 per month from the current $200 while monthly contributions
were set to surge from $12 to $80 a month following a public outcry.
The increases would have meant that new pensioners who had contributed to
the pension scheme for 17 years would have received a pension equivalent to
22,6 percent of their salary on retirement, up to a monthly salary level of
Among questionable ethical deals was £35m lent to Robert Mugabe and spent on
BAE's Hawk fighter jets
guardian.co.uk, Monday 7 May 2012 19.39 BST
Robert Mugabe bought five BAE systems Hawk jets between 1989 and 1992 and
deployed them in the war in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Photograph:
Indranil Mukherjee/AFP/Getty Images
Britain's arms industry and other companies are to be called before MPs to
explain why taxpayer funds ended up helping Robert Mugabe to buy five Hawk
fighter jets and 1,030 police Land Rovers which he later used to suppress
The bosses of the world's biggest multinational defence and oil companies,
including BAE Systems and BP, will be asked to account for why hundreds of
millions of pounds of government money was used to help military dictators
build up their arsenals, and facilitated environmental and human rights
abuses across the world.
An official all-party inquiry into the government Export Credits Guarantee
Department's (ECGD) underwriting of the loans will begin to call witnesses
next week, the Guardian has learned.
The all-party parliamentary group on international corporate responsibility
will investigate more than 40 years of the government's involvement in
supporting dubious practices overseas. The actions of the ECGD have led to
it being christened the "department for dodgy deals" by the Jubilee Debt
Among the catalogue of ethically questionable deals was £35m lent to
Zimbabwe to buy five Hawk fighter jets from BAE Systems between 1989 and
Zimbabwe, which was already heavily indebted at the time of the loans, spent
£49m repaying the cost of the Hawks, according to a response to a freedom of
information request from the Jubilee Debt Campaign seen by the Guardian.
Mugabe's government deployed the jets in the 1998-2002 war in the Democratic
Republic of Congo, Africa's most deadly conflict in modern history, which
led to 5.4m deaths.
At the time of deployment the British government approved Zimbabwe's
purchase of spare parts worth £5m-£10m despite concerns the aircraft were
being used in the deadly Congo war, according to the journal Africana
The department also supplied Mugabe with £21m of loan guarantees to help him
import 1,030 police Land Rovers and other military equipment. The vehicles
were sent to Zimbabwe after Mugabe promised that they would be used "with
due respect for human rights". He specifically pledged not to use them for
riot control, but Amnesty International said they were used to crush
The Land Rovers were sent to Zimbabwe in the late 1990s, before Mugabe began
taking over white farmers' land in 1999. Robin Cook, the former foreign
secretary, later banned the shipments.
The ECGD also supported the notorious al-Yamamah "oil for arms" deal with
Saudi Arabia, for which BAE Systems was investigated by the Serious Fraud
Office amid allegations of bribery and corruption. The inquiry was
eventually dropped following the intervention of the then prime minister,
The government loans also allowed the former Egyptian dictator Hosni
Mubarak, and his predecessor Anwar Sadat, to buy arms, including helicopters
and missiles, and helped Argentina buy two Type 42 Destroyers and two Lynx
helicopters, which were later used in the invasion of the Falklands.
As well as arms, the department has provided funds for the world's largest
and riskiest oil-drilling project, in the Atlantic Ocean, and a 1,760km BP
joint venture oil pipeline through the Caucasus.
The inquiry will this week begin asking arms and oil industry executives to
provide evidence to parliament after pressure for the ECGD to clean up its
act. The cross-party group of MPs will also call on former politicians to
explain why they signed the deals. More than 100 MPs signed an early day
motion calling for the ECGD to commit itself to transparent and open
dealings in the future.
The ECGD, which is part of the business department and has changed its name
to UK Export Finance (UKEF), was often used by arms companies to get a
state-backed guarantee to recompense their banks if the deal fell through or
the debtor failed to make repayments. In the 1980s the ECGD had 4,000 staff
in branches across the country and offered backing for 40% of Britain's
Lisa Nandy, a Labour MP and chair of the all party group, said the
department had committed "billions of pounds of taxpayers' money" to
projects that had been the subject of "countless criticisms" for human
rights and environmental abuses.
"It is vital that we bring together all stakeholders and interested parties
through this inquiry to look seriously at the allegations levelled at this
department," she said.
"This Department commits billions of pounds of taxpayers' money each year.
It has a responsibility to spend that money in a way that is ethical and
effective. In the past it appears that this responsibility has not been
taken seriously enough."
"In a time of recession, business needs support from government but that
support must be of long-term benefit for everyone: safeguarding human
rights, protecting the environment and, at the very least, not exacerbating
Tim Jones, policy officer at Jubilee Debt Campaign, said: "We welcome the
launch of this inquiry. Vince Cable's 'Department for Dodgy Deals' has a
notorious track record of backing loans for undemocratic and damaging
projects. UK Export Finance claims it is owed £2.3 billion. This includes
loans for General Mubarak's Egyptian army to buy British defence equipment,
Argentina's 1970s military dictatorship to buy British warships, and Robert
Mugabe's police to buy British Land Rovers. Vince Cable needs to implement
Liberal Democrat policy and audit the debt, cancel that which is unjust, and
reform UK Export Finance so no more dodgy deals are backed in the future."
The inquiry has no legal power to force industry executives or former
politicians to provide evidence.
May 07, 2012 12:26 PM Eastern Daylight Time
NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Farai Maguwu, the award-winning Zimbabwean human
rights activist, will lead a special session at the Rapaport Fair Trade
Jewelry Conference on Sunday, June 3, 2012 at 10:00 a.m. in the Banyan Room,
Mandalay Bay Hotel, during the JCK Las Vegas Jewelry Show. Maguwu will also
speak briefly at the Rapaport Breakfast, South Seas Ballroom at 8:30 a.m.
There will also be a special luncheon honoring Maguwu at 12 p.m. of the same
Maguwu, Director of the Center for Research and Development in Zimbabwe, has
been at the forefront of human rights advocacy in Zimbabwe. He has risked
his life and freedom to inform the world of the horrific human rights abuses
taking place in the Marange diamond fields.
In May 2010, Maguwu’s house was raided by Zimbabwean authorities and he was
arrested on false charges after giving information to the Kimberley Process
monitor. Despite being sent to prison and denied proper medical care for
over a month, Maguwu emerged dedicated and committed to ensuring the rights
of Marange diggers. In November 2011, Maguwu was honored by Human Rights
Watch with the Alison Des Forges Award for Extraordinary Activism.
“Farai Maguwu is a true human rights hero who has risked his life to protect
the lives, freedom and human rights of diamond diggers. He is someone that
every ethical person in the diamond industry should support, honor and
emulate. As an industry and as individuals, we must stand up and proclaim
that the sanctity of life and the human rights of diggers are more important
to us than diamond profits. I encourage every member of our industry to meet
Farai Maguwu and support his goals,” notes Martin Rapaport, Chairman of the
The Rapaport Fair Trade Conference will be followed by the special luncheon.
Those wishing to participate can email email@example.com. Space is very
limited. Those wishing to support his work are encouraged to make a donation
to the Fair Trade Jewelry Association, a U.S. registered 501c3 charity. For
more information about the Rapaport Fair Trade Conference, the special lunch
or donations, please contact Rapaport Fair Trade, +1-702-893-9400, email
The Rapaport Group is an international network of companies providing added
value services that support the development of free, fair and competitive
global diamond markets. Group activities include publishing, research and
marketing services and diamond trading networks, global rough and polished
diamond tenders and more. Additional information is available at
Posted on Monday 7 May 2012 - 10:45
Problem Masau, AfricaNews reporter in Harare, Zimbabwe
Resettled farmers in Zimbabwe are failing to utilize land due to
inadequate farming inputs and lack of resources. "The owner of this farm is
not around, he lives in Harare and we pay rentals to him, he is not into
farming and he come here occasionally to collect his rentals, we don't use
the whole farm," said another peasant farmer in Mapinga.
A survey by this reporter showed that at some farms, the beneficiaries
have since relocated to other places subletting the land to other people.
Bushy land which used to be green belts can be seen along Harare-
Chinhoyi with silos at Banket in sorry state.
The government haphazardly distributed land to the incapacitated peasant
farmers without providing the necessary resources to kick start them into
Most farmers said though they are proud land owners their ‘fortune’ do
not translate into tangible benefits as the land lie idle ever year.
“We have a dam here but we cannot utilize it because we do not have the
irrigation pipes, the MP of this area promised us the irrigation pipes when
he was campaigning but nothing tangible have come out since,” said a farmer
The situation has been worsened by corrupt officials who are taking
agricultural inputs meant for farmers.
Grain Marketing Board has been fingered out in shoddy deals. Farmers say
the parastatal’s incompetence is threatening to frustrate government’s land
Since government embarked on the land reform programme in 2000, farmers
who have been ‘soldiers’ of this revolution, have been faced with a number
of challenges that have frustrated their efforts over the years.
Addressing delegates at an Agribusiness Forum in South Africa last year,
Prime Minister Tsvangirai said while he genuinely believed in supporting the
empowerment of indigenous people in the area of agriculture, his belief was
to go further than simply doling out a farm without title, training, markets
or downstream processing industries to enable beneficiation and
value-addition to their products.
"Ladies and gentlemen, we cannot have a progressive society by creating
more peasants, without security of tenure on their land and without the
relevant infrastructure to engage in meaningful agriculture that averts food
insecurity," he told the delegates.
A government official and an economist who declined to be named,
however, acknowledged that farmers were failing to fully utilize the land
but was adamant that the land reform alleviated poverty.
“Prior to the fast track land reform process, large commercial farms
received strong credit line support from both state and private financial
institutions, while nearly all smallholders lacked such support. After fast
track land reform, most of the private financial companies withdrew
altogether from offering credit to farmers”
“Only two percent of resettled farmers "benefitted from private sector
crop input schemes and none were beneficiaries for livestock programs."
Financial support for the burgeoning number of farmers fell to the
state, which was ill equipped to meet the need, with its financial resources
stretched to the breaking point by economic sanctions. As a result, only a
small percentage of resettled farmers were able to benefit from adequate
credit support, compelling most of them to rely on their own savings to
"Contrary to the rosy picture painted of the apartheid-era inherited
land ownership pattern, most commercial farms focused on export crops."
“International NGOs for the most part refused to provide any services to
resettled farmers, and focused their efforts elsewhere. Relying for their
funding on Western governments hostile to the land reform process, NGOs were
loath to support the beneficiaries of a process they preferred to see fail.
Less than three percent of resettled farmers received extension support
from NGOs. "Input assistance from NGOs was even lower with 1.7 percent of
the beneficiaries having received such support."
“And yet, despite all obstacles, many resettled farmers have managed to
prosper. According to the IDS study, "impressive investments have been made
in clearing the land, in livestock, in equipment, in transport and in
housing, the scale of investment carried out by people themselves, and
without significant support from government or aid agencies, is substantial,
and provides firm foundations for the future."
"Cattle holdings have a direct impact on crop production, and "the value
of draft power, transport and manure is substantial. A recent study showed
herd sizes in the resettled areas have grown, while households without
cattle have declined.
By Alex Bell
07 May 2012
Workers at a Norton tobacco farm now run by Robert Mugabe’s nephew Patrick
Zhuwao last week held him hostage, over his failure to pay his staff for
Zhuwao was reportedly held hostage hours by 115 workers at his Gwebi
Junction Estate near Norton, who staged a sit in on the property. The group
sang revolutionary songs and beat drums before sealing off the farmhouse
exit, and demanding their money.
Zhuwao, who is the ZANU PF MP for Zvimba East constituency, reportedly
climbed a fence and eventually escaped using a back exit.
According to the Standard newspaper, a worker at the farm said they only
became confrontational after failing to engage Zhuwao through peaceful
“Zhuwao has not paid us for three months but what has really angered us is
that he is being elusive,” the worker was quoted as saying.
The workers said they were also infuriated by the fact that whenever they
raised the issue of payment, Zhuwao would accuse them of being influenced by
a CIO operative said to be competing with him for the Zvimba East seat.
Zhuwao confirmed to the Standard on Saturday that he was held hostage and
that the workers had since sealed him off the farm until he brings their
“I can confirm that I have not paid my workers for the last three months due
to some financial constraints,” said Zhuwao.
“Remember, I am a tobacco farmer and I can only pay them after selling my
tobacco, which can be anytime soon. But the unfortunate part is that they
have sealed me off the farm,” he is quoted as saying.
The workers have remained camped at the farm house, vowing to stay put until
Zhuwao pays them. By the end of Monday it was unclear yet if any agreement
had been reached.
Press statement Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA)
Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) applaud the drafting team for the work
they have done on the draft of the Constitution and encourage them to
swiftly deal with parked issues and submit the draft to the second
stakeholder’s conference without further delay.
WOZA has continuously engaged its members to debate constitutional
issues and in December 2010 released a report capturing the responses
of members to the Constitutional Outreach questions to the 26 thematic
areas prepared by the Constitution Parliamentary Select Committee
(COPAC). The report followed a 15 month consultative and civic
education process. This work captured the views of urban and rural
members numbering 10 361 (9213 women and 1148 men) from the ages of 14
to 93 years were included.
WOZA recognize that this work demanding constitutional reform has paid
dividends as we see some of our demands reflected in the draft. We
welcome in particular the following positive inclusions:
• Justiciable rights, including socio-economic rights
• Prohibition of discrimination against women on the basis of customary law
• A single executive head of state, eliminating the prime minister position
• A limit of two terms on the President
• Provision for proportional representation in the National Assembly
and the Senate
• Down-grading the Attorney- General to legal advisor of the
government and establishment of an independent prosecuting authority
• Independent Electoral Commission to take control of voter
registration and the voters’ roll
• Appointments of key personnel and commissioners of independent
commissions on the recommendation of a Parliamentary Public
Appointments Committee, which will subject candidates to public
• Requirements for all public officers to declare all their assets at
• Depoliticisation of the public service, judiciary, and security sector
• Amendment only by means of a referendum
We regret the following provisions of the draft:
• Presidential immunity while in office – this puts the incumbent above the
• Lack of maximum age limit for the President
• The large size of the National Assembly – we cannot afford such
• The large size of the Cabinet – we would prefer to cap it at 200.
• The inclusion of chiefs in the Senate – if they belong anywhere it
is in the Provincial Assemblies
• The inclusion of the TRC only as a transition mechanism and
permitting it to grant immunity in exchange for confessions
We are deeply concerned that the following issues are yet to be resolved:
• Devolution of power to elected Provincial and Local Authorities;
these must be a mainstay of our democracy which brings government
closer to the people, decentralising decision-making and control of
• The matter of number of Vice Presidents – we obviously only need and
can only afford one and cannot be swayed by ZANU PF internal politics
• The number of seats in the national Assembly and the Senate
• The issue of dual citizenship
Whilst WOZA is happy that some progress has been made we are concerned
that this draft leaves hanging a key demand of Devolution of power.
The whole Chapter 14 ‘Provincial and Local Government’ is parked and
WOZA are concerned that the negotiation process must not be made
As the first draft is being rewritten we expect these issues to be
addressed and place on record that we will be watching closely that
the letter and spirit of the reform process remains true to the needs
WOZA applaud the progress, but are worried about the principals
putting ego before principle. We call on them to suppress their egos
and allow the parked issues to be urgently resolved. WOZA especially
call on the MDC who claim to represent the majority of Zimbabweans to
refuse to concede on the issues of Devolution; they have conceded
enough already; any more will constitute a form of betrayal.
WOZA will be watching and will not stand by and allow politicians to
hold the process hostage for the sake of political survival or greed
for power at all costs.
WOZA call on members of the press to realize that this a pivotal
moment in our history and report responsibly on content and process
without sensationalizing issues. Zimbabweans need hope that the new
constitution will bring a new era of dignity, respect and tolerance.
We look forward to the Second All-Stakeholders’ Conference which will
provide feedback to the drafting team and recommend changes/
alterations before the final draft is presented to parliament and
gazetted. We will resist any attempt to fast-track this process.
WOZA call upon the international community led by the United Nations
Development Programme (UNDP) who funded the outreach process to make
sure that organisations are permitted to conduct civic education on
the draft in a free environment allowing meetings and discussions.
WOZA therefore call upon the principals and leaders of all political
parties to demand the immediate enforcement of the GPA requirement on
ensuring the security of persons.
WOZA also demand an immediate end to politicisation of the judiciary
and security forces and an end to police and military occupation of
our streets and a direct attempt to abuse our right to peaceful
protest and freedom of assembly and expression!
WOZA is aware that a constitution by itself cannot bring change.
Change will only come if there is political will to implement a
constitution. It will be the responsibility of all Zimbabweans to
ensure that their politicians are committed to implementing any
constitution approved by the voters. WOZA commits to taking all
appropriate measures to ensure that our new constitution reflects the
desire of Zimbabweans for peace and democracy.
Ends 7th May 2012
The border between South Africa and Zimbabwe is a lawless territory held to ransom by marauding gangsters and interdepartmental government agencies that are supposed to regulate law and order there but seem incapable of executing a proper plan to address the growing crisis.
The Department of Agriculture, the Department of Home Affairs, the SA Police Service (SAPS), the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) and SARS are among the government agencies mandated to regulate various aspects of border control.
However, a special investigation by The New Age has uncovered escalating crime in the gangster-run town of Musina and a clear incapacity to contain the scourge.
Last month marked a year since the SANDF took over the responsibilities of border patrol from the police.
However, this investigation has found that the small pockets of soldiers along the long border have no significant influence to exert in solving the problem.
The soldiers have no executive powers and whenever illegal immigrants or suspected smugglers are apprehended, the police have to be called in to make the actual arrests.
With virtually no border fence left, it is now literally a walk in the park for smugglers and illegal immigrants to cross over into South Africa.
Not even the deployment of a full brigade of South African soldiers camping all along the border would be sufficient to solve the problem if the fence is not replaced and bribery of government officials is not eradicated, say intelligence sources at the border.
The unprotected stretch of border with Zimbabwe is not only a criminal-infested safe haven, but farmers and law enforcers also warn that South Africa faces a major agricultural disaster courtesy of the threat of foot and mouth disease, since livestock are roaming unhindered across the river in and out of South Africa.
In addition, multimillion-rand cross-border smuggling rackets bring contraband into South Africa.
By De Wet Potgieter and Herbert
The border between South Africa and Zimbabwe is a lawless territory held to ransom by marauding gangsters while the inter-departmental government agencies supposed to regulate law and order there, seem incapable of executing a proper plan to address the growing crisis.
Last month marked a year since the South African National Defence force took over the responsibilities of border patrol from the police. However, a TNA investigation has found that the small pockets of soldiers along the border have no significant influence on the problem.
The soldiers have no executive powers and whenever illegal immigrants or suspected smugglers are apprehended, the police have to be called in to make the actual arrests.
With virtually no border fence left, it is now literally a walk in the park for smugglers and illegal immigrants to cross over into South Africa.
Not even the deployment of a full brigade of South African soldiers camping out all along the border would be sufficient to solve the problem if the fence is not replaced and bribery of the government officials is not eradicated.
According to the border police and intelligence sources at Beit Bridge, among the refugees streaming daily over the Limpopo river are Congolese, Somalis, Bangladeshis, Pakistanis, Zimbabweans and citizens of other African countries.
The New Age managed to track down at least three safe houses in Musina where Bangladeshi refugees are taken once they cross the border. They are set up in these houses, given a shower, food, clean clothes and a place to stay overnight.
The next morning they are either helped to get onto taxis to Gauteng or merely walk down the road to the Department of Home Affairs to apply for political asylum.
The influence and financial involvement of Bangladeshis in Musina is clearly visible in the town with a “Bangla supermarket” and a lively “Bangla Café” situated close to the area with the safe houses.
“This town never sleeps,” TNA was told. As soon as the shops close and the sun goes down, the criminal element take control with prostitutes roaming the dark alleys behind the main street and homeless people and refugees coming together for safety at several petrol garages while waiting for buses and taxis to take them to Gauteng.
Truck drivers and motor vehicles driving on the road between Beit Bridge and Musina fear the dark because that is when the guma guma emerge from their notorious lair in a gorge just west of the bridge.
Refugees are taxied from the border area to the Pont Drift turnoff from the main road and are directed to walk the rest of the way into Musina. This area has become a much-feared danger zone. It is as far as taxi drivers will take them for fear of police road blocks further up the road.
dark, the guma guma ambush and rob refugees of all their belongings, leaving
them naked and without shoes next to the road. The criminal force attacks truck
drivers in the overnight lay-over areas and rob them of cash and cellphones.
They also place rocks on the road and those without firearms use assegais and
catapults to rob the trucks and other vehicles once they are forced to
The syndicates involved in guiding illegal immigrants across the border are well organised and have close relationships with the taxis who ferry the people to Gauteng and other destinations in South Africa.
The guides, better known as “impisi”, in turn also have a “working relationship” with the guma guma paying them bribes out of what they collect from their “clients” for safe passage.
Intelligence sources in Musina believe that the Somali, Pakistani and Bangladeshi illegal immigrants also make use of well-structured networks of facilitators, spanning across the ocean from their homelands to the different African states they have to travel through to get to Beit Bridge and finally right up to Gauteng, to secure their safe arrival in South Africa.
Department of Home Affairs spokesperson Manusha Pillai said the department could not provide figures of illegal immigrants coming to South Africa because they are not coming through official entry points.
Regarding the issue of safe houses for Bangladeshis, Pillai said this form of human smuggling is being targeted by law-enforcement agencies.
She said the top 10 countries from which South Africa receives the most asylum seekers are Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, Somalia, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Bangladesh, Malawi, Pakistan, Nigeria, Uganda and the Republic of the Congo.
She added that a counter-corruption branch within the department investigates any corruption activities of staff members.
“Furthermore, the government agencies tasked with law enforcement are working to deal with issues of organised crime within all sectors of society,” she said.
By De Wet Potgieter and Herbert
In her haunted mind, she still hears their voices as they walked away shouting to others in the bushes: “I’m done, your turn!” while she lay in the dirt bleeding from numerous knife wounds as they raped her one-by-one.
A young Zimbabwean woman hoping for a better life in South Africa this week relived a horrific ordeal as she told The New Age how she had despaired for her life when she was gang raped and repeatedly stabbed by the feared guma guma as she was illegally trying to cross the Limpopo River into South Africa.
The guma guma (“hustlers”) are the ruthless marauding gangs who ambush illegal immigrants on the Zimbabwe-South Africa border, rob them of all their earthly possessions and routinely rape and murder their victims.
*Phathushedzo Vomo’s stab wounds have healed and although the psychological scars are still haunting her, she has decided to go public and tell the world about the horrors so many young women face doing the “hell run” to freedom from Zimbabwe.
“I do this in the hope that it may help that others be saved from the hell I went through,” Vomo told The New Age in a halting voice affected by a speech impediment brought on as a result of the brutal attack. One of the stab wounds in her neck damaged her spinal cord. She also experiences numbness in one of her thighs.
Vomo travelled together with three other women and 17 men in a double-cab bakkie from her home town (name withheld) in Zimbabwe to the Beit Bridge border post where they had to get off, walk through the bushes and wade through the river to South Africa while the driver went through immigration formalities before waiting for them on the South African side. As the group walked through the bushes after crossing the Limpopo River in the dead of night, a gang of 20 men ambushed them and demanded money. Vomo resisted their demands to search her bra and panties and one of them stabbed her in the arm and carried on repeatedly as he forced her down.
The guma guma were armed with knives, pangas and axes and told her she was cheeky. “Everybody in our group was watching as they raped me,” Vomo said. “I don’t know how many did, but all I remember are the voices as they got up, walked away and told the next one: ‘I’m done, your turn!” or ‘Come finish here’.”
They left her naked and broken on the ground crying for help as the gang disappeared as suddenly as it had appeared.
Her travelling companions – including her brother-in-law – picked her up and carried her to safety. Along the way she fainted and she hardly remembers anything of the trip to Gauteng as her companions tried to make the ride as comfortable as possible for her while trying to stop the bleeding.
Vomo said she cannot remember to which hospital she was taken, but when the nurses saw the sorry state she was in, she was immediately rushed into theatre.
She went back to Zimbabwe recently to fetch her birth certificate and had to go through the same “hell run” facing the guma guma in a full river. However, this time they were stopped in the middle of the river while the water was flowing quite strongly.
The guma guma ordered the impisi (the guides facilitating the illegal immigrants walk through to South Africa) to bring enough money to secure the safe passage of the group. “We were so scared because we not only feared the guma guma but also a crocodile attack,” Vomo said.
Another Zimbabwean woman told The New Age that, sometimes, petrified women tell the guma guma they are HIV positive hoping they would not be raped.
Out of spite they rape her and also rape all the other women in the group so as to also infect them if she was telling the truth.
“I am now only starting to make peace with the hell I have gone through and prefer not to talk about it ever again,” said Vomo.
“I have only spoken to you about it so that the story gets out, so it could make a difference for other women,” she added.
*Not her real name.
By De wet Potgieter and Herbert Matimba
No one is
safe from the rapists and criminals who hunt their defenceless prey in the
no-man’s land between South Africa and Zimbabwe.
“The guma guma have no respect for human beings – no respect for lives. They are scavengers preying on the plight of destitute people, who flee their countries in a desperate bid to survive,” said Otto Gerner, one of the border area’s most colourful and controversial farmers.
Detailing how the guma guma run a reign of terror, rape and murders on both sides of the border in South Africa and Zimbabwe, Gerner told The New Age that the local police in Musina and at Beit Bridge feared these marauding gangs.
“I feel sorry for the black people living in the township on the outskirts of Musina, because they are also relentlessly delivered to the evils of the guma guma,” he said.
Gerner was recently brought in by the Limpopo Economic Development Council to assist in the upliftment of the town and its service delivery.
“It is so sad that some of these destitute people are eaten by crocodiles in the river after they were robbed, raped and stripped of everything they own – including their shoes – by the guma guma as they tried to cross the river,” Gerner said.
The guma guma live in a deep gorge, just west of Beit Bridge, in no-man’s land. “Believe me, nobody is prepared to go in there after them,” said Gerner.
According to him, the guma guma originated from the street kids scavenging around the border post.
They were abused by truck and taxi drivers. In some cases, they became sex slaves.
Growing up in unthinkable hardship, the street kids started organising themselves into gangs, to the point that they have become a notorious criminal force to be reckoned with.
They rule the territory from the border post to Musina and at the illegal crossings through the river at night.
The police have established a special task team operating within a 10 km radius around the Beit Bridge border post investigating the criminal activities of the guma guma, said Limpopop police spokesperson, Lt-Col Ronel Otto.
“We also take part in joint operations with the military, Sars and other departments in this regard,” she said. “For the period February 26 up to the end of April, a total of 26 suspects have been arrested for alleged guma guma criminal activities.”
Gerner said most of the guma guma are recognisable from the scars and bruises on their bodies and faces from their earlier days, when they suffered abuse as destitute street kids.
“I would describe them as survival fighters,” she said.
He was approached by the border town’s local council to help bring the traditional white community closer to the governing body.
“I was asked to forge a bond of cooperation between the whites and the council, closing the political divide between the two groups,” he told The New Age.
Over land and sea
Bangladeshi refugees travel over 8000km to reach the promised land of South Africa. Once landed on the continent, they are able to pass through about eight immigration control posts before illegally negotiating the final and toughest crossing at Beit Bridge.
By De Wet Potgieter and Herbert
They say it’s a town that never sleeps, with business being conducted in the day and the nights being ruled by the notorious, heavily-armed predatorial guma guma gang who even the police are fear of.
South Africa’s gateway to Africa, is a criminally driven town gripped by fear of
ruthless gangs of robbers and rapists preying on desperate people crossing the
border in search of “a better life” this side of the Zimbabwe/South Africa
The well-armed predators are called the guma guma. Even police are afraid to challenge them.
The guma guma, together with well organised smuggling syndicates, call the shots all along the virtually unprotected border between South Africa and Zimbabwe, up to the Kruger Park.
There is hardly anything left of the border fence. Locals claim that Zimbabweans have, over time, dismantled the fence, taking it back to their impoverished country as scrap metal.
During the war years, the border between South Africa and Zimbabwe was patrolled by PW Botha’s military machine and a controversial electrified fence – better known as the Kaftan line – formed part of the fortified boundary keeping freedom fighters and the rest of Africa out.
In a desperate bid to act against the scores of rapes and murders of defenceless refugees as they cross the border, the Department of Home Affairs has put up hundreds of signs all along the border calling on victims to report such incidents to the authorities.
But the long stretch of border remains wide open all along the eastern side of Beit Bridge. To the west, the dilapidated fence has hundreds of holes and washed away areas, making it easy for illegal immigrants to cross the river.
“We cannot investigate these rapes committed by the guma guma unless victims lay charges,” a senior police officer said.
At night, the guma guma attack truck drivers sleeping in overnight parking facilities between the border and Musina robbing them of cash, cellphones and anything else worth taking.
It is highly risky for drivers to travel on the “road of death” from Beit Bridge to the turnoff to Pont Drift road bordering the outskirts of this town that never sleeps.
Farmers and law enforcers also warn that South Africa faces a major agricultural disaster due to the threat of foot and mouth disease since livestock roam unhindered back and forth across the river.
PARLIAMENTARY COMMITTEES SERIES
[7th May 2012]
The Privileges Committee into the Gwaradzimba Case will again on 8th May
The special Committee on Privileges to hear the contempt of Parliament charge against Shabanie Mashava Mines administrator Mr Afaras Gwaradzimba will hold its third meeting on Tuesday. The meeting will be open to members of the public as observers only.
At this meeting the Committee will hear evidence from Mr Gwaradzimba and submissions from his lawyer.
Details of meeting
Date: Tuesday 8th May 2012
Time: 10.30 am
Venue: Committee Room No. 1
Parliament Building, Harare
Members of the public wishing to attend the meeting should use the Kwame Nkrumah Avenue entrance to Parliament. IDs have to be produced at the entrance.
About the case
The appointment of the Committee, its mandate, the contempt of Parliament charge against Mr Gwaradzimba, and what happened at its first meeting on 24th April, were outlined in our previous bulletins of 23rd April and 30th April.
The charge being investigated by this special Committee on Privileges is that Mr Gwaradzimba made defamatory statements about the Portfolio Committee on Mines and Energy and its members in an interview featured in a Newsday article. Aspects of the interview alleged by the Portfolio Committee to be defamatory and contemptuous are the following statements attributed to Mr Gwaradzimba: that the work of the Portfolio Committee has been detrimental to SMM efforts to court investors because it scared them off; a suggestion that its members were not honourable – “... if these MPs are honourable Members...”; that the public hearings the Portfolio Committee conducted at Shabanie and Mashava mines were “irresponsible”; an insinuation that some members had ulterior moves inimical to the survival of SMM.
The Committee’s second meeting At its second meeting, held as scheduled on 2nd May, the Committee heard evidence from two witnesses. The first was Hon Chindori-Chininga, the chairman of the Portfolio Committee, giving evidence as the complainant on behalf of the Portfolio Committee. In questioning him Mr Chihambakwe denied that the newspaper article was defamatory or contemptuous of the Portfolio Committee. The second witness was Ms Veneranda Langa, the Newsday Parliamentary reporter who interviewed Mr Gwaradzimba for the newspaper article. She testified about the interview and defended the accuracy of the article’s content when cross-examined by Mr Chihambakwe. She denied sensationalising the article to boost the newspaper’s sales, and said the article had consisted of verbatim questions and answers from the interview. Ms Langa also said Mr Gwaradzimba had sent her an SMS thanking her for an accurate story.
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