by Own Correspondent† Friday 16 November 2007
††††† JOHANNESBURG - Southern African governments face a "very real
challenge" of regime change instigated by foreign powers, South African
Defence Minister Mosiuoa Lekota said on Thursday.
††††† Lekota did not name countries that could have their governments
toppled or the foreign powers eager to sponsor regime change in the region,
only saying regime change was one of the "external threats" faced by
countries in the region.
††††† "We need to share information and intelligence on activities in this
area (external threats). Working together our reach stretches much further,"
said Lekota, who was addressing the South Africa-Zimbabwe Joint Permanent
Commission on defence and security in Vanderbijlpark, South Africa.
††††† Lekota's remarks could however be interpreted as endorsement of claims
by President Robert Mugabe that an acute economic crisis gripping Zimbabwe
is because of sabotage by Britain and its Western allies bent on
overthrowing his government as punishment for seizing white farmland to give
to landless blacks.
††††† Zimbabwe Defence Minister Sydney Sekeramayi immediately seized Lekota's
comments with both hands, telling the commission Britain wanted regime
change in Zimbabwe and that London could scuttle talks with the opposition
aimed at finding a lasting solution to the southern African country's
††††† Sekeramayi said: "It would not come as a surprise if Britain, the
chief architect of regime change in Zimbabwe, makes a last ditch attempt at
derailing the talks."
††††† Mugabe's ruling ZANU PF party and the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change have since April held talks under South African mediation
aimed at finding a solution to Zimbabwe's long running political and
economic crisis. A key objective of the talks is to ensure free and fair
presidential and parliamentary elections next year.
††††† But political analysts say South African President Thabo Mbeki should
urge Mugabe to end political violence and repeal tough security and press
laws if next year's polls are to be free and fair.
††††† Zimbabwe is suffering a debilitating economic crisis that is
highlighted by the world's highest inflation rate of nearly 8 000 percent, a
rapidly contracting GDP, the fastest for a country not at war according to
the World Bank and shortages of foreign currency, food and fuel.
††††† Critics blame the crisis on repression and wrong policies by Mugabe,
such as farm seizures that decimated the agricultural sector, the mainstay
of the economy.
††††† Mugabe, in power since Zimbabwe's 1980 independence from Britain,
denies mismanaging the country. - ZimOnline
by Tsungai Murandu Friday 16 November 2007
HARARE - President Robert Mugabe says the 2007/08 agriculture season is a
watershed period for Zimbabwe's tottering economy, pledging to stay ahead of
Western sanctions that he blames for the country's problems.
Speaking at the commissioning of a US$6 million bio-diesel plant just
outside Harare, the veteran Zimbabwean leader scoffed at Western sanctions
imposed on himself and his ruling elite, vowing that Zimbabwe would never
The bio-fuel plant, with a capacity to produce 100 million litres of diesel
annually, should mainly provide fuel to farmers resettled under the land
It is expected that the plant will help Zimbabwe, which has faced perennial
fuel shortages since 1999, to save up to US$80 million a year in foreign
The RBZ also estimates that the bio-diesel project will help reduce
inflation by up to 20 percent.
"As government, we are also working tirelessly to ensure that this coming
agricultural season marks a lasting turning point in the country's economic
fortunes," Mugabe said.
It is estimated that the farming sector requires almost 120 million litres
of diesel annually, while the country's total diesel demand is estimated at
about 1 billion litres.
Mugabe said the new fuel project demonstrated that "the ill-fated illegal
sanctions against the innocent people of Zimbabwe can never subdue our
resilience and inner propulsion to succeed and remain standing as a nation."
He said Zimbabwe was ready to accept investors from friendly countries who
are willing to forge purposeful developmental alliances.
"It is against this background that as a country, we call upon potential
investors and development partners across the globe to tap into lucrative
trade and investment opportunities abundant in the country," Mugabe said.
The bio-diesel processing plant is an attempt to find a lasting solution to
Zimbabwe's chronic fuel shortages.
The southern African country, battling an unprecedented economic crisis
marked by the world's highest inflation rate of nearly 8 000 percent,
requires US$300 million to import fuel per month.
The plant is a joint venture between the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ),
through local company Transload, and Korean investors represented by a firm
called Young Woo Investments.
Zimbabwe's ambassador to Japan and the Republic of Korea, Stuart Comberbach
is said to have been instrumental in brokering the deal.
The deal saw the RBZ governor Gideon Gono visiting Korea in 2006 on an
business investment promotion drive which gave birth to the idea of a
bio-diesel plant in Mount Hampden, located a few kilometers northwest of
Plans are afoot to build a bio-diesel plant in each of the country's 10
provinces before 2010.
"The vision is to see our farmers in every province earning foreign currency
through 'exports' of their oil seeds produced in local bio-diesel plants,"
Gono said. - ZimOnline
by Wayne Mafaro† Friday 16 November 2007
HARARE - Zimbabwe has not been able to issue certificates to students for
nearly two years because it did not have foreign currency to pay for
printing of the documents, as an acute economic crisis fast erodes gains
made in education and social services during the early years of
Public schools and hospitals that were the envy of many in Africa and across
the developing world lie dilapidated after years of under-funding by a
Harare government that is desperately short on cash and resources as it
battles its worst ever economic crisis.
Zimbabwe School Examinations Council (ZIMSEC) public relations manager
Ezekiel Pasipamire told ZimOnline that a British firm contracted to print
certificates for school leavers stopped deliveries after the council failed
"We have not been giving out certificates because we did not have the
foreign currency to pay (the foreign printer)," Pasipamire said.
The ZIMSEC official, who did not say exactly how much was owed to the
British printer, said the council had recently received foreign currency to
pay for the certificates and was awaiting delivery from the United Kingdom.
"Foreign currency has since been availed to us and we have paid for the
certificates. We are awaiting delivery from the United Kingdom," said
However, the council's financial problems are far from over, with Education
Minister Aeneas Chigwedere on Thursday telling a special parliamentary
committee on education that funding remains the council's Achilles Heel.
"ZIMSEC (has been) in a financial dilemma for the last four years because of
inflation and also that government subsidies were taking long due to
bureaucracy," said Chigwedere.
Apart from trouble getting certificates after completing years of study,
Zimbabwean school leavers also face an impossible ordeal trying to find a
job in an economy that has shrunk 40 percent over the last eight years and
where unemployment is conservatively estimated at anything above 80 percent.
Some school leavers opt for the easier choice, skipping across Zimbabwe's
borders to search for work in neighbouring countries, joining a massive
brain drain that has seen thousands of doctors, nurses, engineers, teachers
and other skilled personnel leaving the country because of worsening
There are no official figures of Zimbabweans who have left the country. But
analysts say about three million or a quarter of the country's 12 million
people have left, forced abroad by an economic crisis, critics blame on
repression and wrong policies by President Robert Mugabe.
Mugabe, in power since Zimbabwe's 1980 independence from Britain and seeking
another five-year term in polls next year, denies ruining the economy and
instead blames his country's troubles on sabotage by his Western enemies. -
††††††††††† by Thulani Munda† Friday 16 November 2007
HARARE - John Kimunyu may have had a hand in Zimbabwe's long-running
economic crisis but has no regrets for demanding what he insists was
Kimunyu was among the more than 50 000 veterans of Zimbabwe's 1970s war of
liberation who held President Robert Mugabe to ransom in September 1997,
demanding to be paid gratuities for their role in the armed struggle that
brought the country's independence.
The government buckled and paid the war veterans hefty $50 000 gratuities
each plus monthly pensions of $2 000 - a huge sum of money by those days'
The payouts were not budgeted for and the economy responded with a bang,
resulting in the infamous "Black Friday" crash of 14 November 1997 when the
Zimbabwe dollar plunged on a single day from $14 against the United States
greenback to $26 to the US unit.
The secondary contagion effect was a sharp 40 percent crash of the Zimbabwe
The stock market lost 46 percent of the value of shares as investors
scrambled out of the Zimbabwe dollar.
But as Zimbabwe completes this week a decade of economic turmoil, Kimunyu -
and probably most of his comrades-in-arms in the liberation war - has no
"We deserved that money and it's unfair to blame us for the current
problems," he said yesterday.
But analysts insisted the payouts to the war veterans were the genesis of
the country's economic crisis.
Bulawayo-based economic commentator Eric Bloch said the government lived
beyond its means by giving in to the war veterans' demands.
"If payment to war veterans was staggered over a period of time we would not
have been in the situation we are today," said Bloch.
He noted that Zimbabwe continued to overspend as if it had inexhaustible
Daniel Ndlela of Zimconsult, an economic consultancy firm, said doling out
money to war veterans was the beginning of money printing on the part of
"War veterans started demonstrations and the government resorted to
pacifying its constituency by paying out gratuities," Ndlela said.
He said the economy had shown some signs of crumbling and the currency
crisis was the spark.
"This proved to be the start of a real crisis of management of the economy,
with the exchange rate only showing the symptoms of the cancer," he said.
The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), which demonstrated against
payment of gratuities to war veterans, said the gratuities payment and the
subsequent crash of the currency aggravated the condition of workers.
"The condition of workers is worse off than it was in 1997," said ZCTU
secretary general Wellington Chibebe.
A stock market analyst who was there "when it happened" in 1997 said a
number of investors had their hands burnt following the free-fall in share
"There was panic and investors started offloading their shares in large
volumes?" said the analyst who could not be named for professional reasons.
He added: "Local institutional investors grabbed the opportunity and bought
shares at a cheap price with some of them still holding onto the shares
The analysts said it would take a long time to erase memories of the "Black
Friday" crash as the root causes remained unattended 10 years on.
"We are having Black Fridays every week as our currency keeps on
depreciating against major currencies on the black market," said an
economist with a local financial institution who refused to be named.
The US greenback changed hands at $1.2 million on the parallel market on
Thursday against a paltry $30 000 on the official market.
Kimunyu says war veterans' showdown with the government had helped him to
achieve his liberation war dreams of owning a house and a farm.
"For me having land is what we fought for. A house and a farm fulfill my
dream," he said.
Kimunyu is a proud house owner in Harare's Crowborough North suburb. He
bought the house 10 years ago, courtesy of proceeds from the gratuities. -
by Basildon Peta Friday 16 November 2007
JOHANNESBURG - Dr Daniel Shumba, a prominent Zimbabwean businessman,
surprised many when he was appointed the ruling ZANU PF party chairman for
Masvingo province four years ago.
His flirtation with ZANU PF politics however came to an abrupt end when he
was suspended from the party together with five other party chairmen for
allegedly plotting to block the rise of Joice Mujuru to the vice-presidency.
The suspension immediately plunged Shumba into political oblivion. In 2006,
Shumba announced the formation of the United People's Party (UPP) to
challenge President Robert Mugabe's grip on power.
But since the launch of the party, not much has been heard of the political
Basildon Peta caught up with Shumba in Johannesburg, South Africa, this week
and the following are excerpts of his interview he held with the Zimbabwean
QUESTION: You launched the UPP in June 2006 but not much has been heard from
you. Does this mean that your party is one of those political formations in
Zimbabwe that spring during daytime and fall by the wayside before anyone
ANSWER: Yes indeed we launched in June 2006, and the party undertook an
exercise to build party structures and explain to the people of Zimbabwe,
more especially in the rural areas, the need for a new political
dispensation. The UPP contested the 2006 Local Government Elections, as part
of its agenda to introduce the party and its political programmes to the
We also contested the Chiredzi South parliamentary by-election and finished
ahead of one of the MDC factions in spite of ZANU PF's rigging. UPP was also
the only opposition party to contest the Zaka East parliamentary
You will therefore note that, the UPP is working on the ground, but both the
state and so-called independent media have been somewhat partisan in their
reporting. They have been promoting political parties of their choice and
accordingly shaping the popular perceptions.
QUESTION: You seem to blame your party's lack of a public profile on the
media. But surely Dr Shumba, you must also appreciate that the media often
does not make politicians. Politicians have to invent themselves. If you
were doing something significant on the ground like addressing huge rallies
and building visible structures, I don't think the media could completely
ignore you, particularly the private and international media remaining in
ANSWER: It is not entirely true that the international media has ignored us.
We have had coverage on the Voice of America, Voice of The People and SABC
than we have had locally. The local coverage by the independent media has
not been balanced or fair.
The UPP strategy towards political mobilisation does not include huge
rallies (which mostly include unregistered voters and is an easy target for
ZANU PF), but door-to-door and localised direct campaigns.
This reduces the victimisation of our members from our political opponents
especially ZANU PF. The media must also identify with the rural population
and the under-privileged to appreciate some of our strategies.
Q: You promised before the launch of your party that you would attract
crowds of more than 200 000. But as it turned out there were barely a few
thousand people. You also claimed in your speech that the government had
blocked your money to the value of Z$19 billion and so you were unable to
hire buses. Was this not a desperate attempt to explain your failure to get
the crowds you had promised Dr Shumba?
A: Zimbabweans should not under-estimate ZANU PF's use of state security
organisations in hindering and fighting opposition political parties in
Zimbabwe. The Public Order and Security Act, the Access to Information and
Protection of Privacy Act and the Political Parties Finance Act are also
meant to make it difficult for the opposition parties to function.
Bus operators were forced to cancel bookings at the last minute. Train
bookings were withheld and members were told that the launch was not cleared
by the police. We are still in legal disputes over our money. These and
other factors contributed to the launch being attended by over 6 000 members
from all provinces, which by Zimbabwean standards is still large.
Q: Lets digress a bit and address the issue of your doctorate. What is your
education profile and tell me more about this PhD you now claim to have.
A: I have attached my full profile for your information. Please feel free to
Q: Back to politics. Are you going to contest the presidential and
parliamentary elections next year?
A:† I will give you a two-fold answer. First, Zimbabweans have been
short-changed by ZANU PF over the past 27 years. This has particularly been
so by the recent Constitutional Amendment Bill Number 18. Anybody conniving
with ZANU PF in this regard is furthering and extending the life of ZANU PF
to continue oppressing and marginalising the people of Zimbabwe.
Therefore, in this regard there is no point in contesting any elections,
under the current dispensation. The outcome has already been pre-determined.
It's a fait accompli.
However, because we have a greater responsibility to the people of Zimbabwe,
to give them hope and a future, to this end we will continue to fight the
ZANU PF system and to push for a people-driven constitution. Thus, the UPP
will contest the elections in order so as to remain engaged in our national
The UPP believes that only through a new people-driven popular constitution
can there be a semblance of fair and maybe free elections in Zimbabwe. Such
elections ZANU PF will lose, so we must be relevant and committed in order
to contribute to the re-shaping of our country's future.
Q: Who else constitutes the leadership of your party? We have not heard
anything in that regard.
A:† The UPP is aware of the victimisation that ZANU PF perpetuates on
opposition leaders and members at all levels of the political structures.
The 10 administrative provinces are run by co-ordinating committees headed
by a provincial chairperson who reports directly to the interim president of
An administrative team, security team, intelligence team, elections
directorate, finance team, governance directorate, and a national
coordinator assist the president. The full UPP structures and other details
can be accessed after vetting from the party's co-ordinating offices at 108
West Road, Avondale West, Harare.
Q: Those who question the credibility of your party say that your exclusion
from the current dialogue in South Africa is testimony of its irrelevance.
Surely President Mbeki could not have ignored a credible political player in
this dialogue and stuck to the MDC only if you were a serious political
A: The media have misinterpreted the mandate given to President Mbeki, which
obviously is meant to deal with the violence and other related issues
between ZANU PF and the MDC. That is why those who were not party to the
violence are not part of these talks.
ZANU PF and MDC do not represent all key stakeholders in Zimbabwe. Other
opposition political parties, civil society, churches, women's groups,
representatives of those in the diaspora and other parties, are all not
party to President Mbeki's efforts.
We need a determined and shared approach to the problems facing Zimbabwe, a
collective and shared process leading to the ushering in of a new
people-driven constitution. The current talks are just aimed at extending
ZANU PF's hold on Zimbabwe's politics, while attempting to fool the
international community and other stakeholders into believing that suddenly
ZANU PF is playing fair. ZANU PF is impervious to change.
The UPP will therefore not seek to be party to the current SADC talks unless
they are expanded to bring all key stakeholders in Zimbabwe's political and
social landscape. Whatever, the process of change, it must be truly
Q: Many believe that at this juncture, there is no room for a third party in
Zimbabwe. Despite his weaknesses, Morgan Tsvangirai remains the face of the
opposition. He won more than two million votes in the 2002 presidential
election and nearly beat Robert Mugabe. Perhaps were it not for rigging,
many believe he could the President of Zimbabwe.
A:† Past glory cannot be expected to shape our future. The future is going
to be determined by the correctness of a specific political ideology,
quality of leader, and the ability to unify the people of Zimbabwe for the
political and economic turn-around of our country.
It is therefore not about personalities, but about the correctness of what
they stand for and their qualities as leaders. We are not fighting ZANU PF
as a political party (as many believe), but ZANU PF as a system. We
therefore believe that the UPP is the best positioned for such a task.
Q:† But do you appreciate that Tsvangirai is more visible, more respected
and more politically attractive than you.
A:† The turn-around of Zimbabwe is not about Tsvangirai or Shumba. It is
about the people of Zimbabwe. The UPP and its current leadership should be
judged on the basis of its political ideology, policies and ability, than
short-term or irrelevant variables.
Q:† So you will agree with Trevor Ncube that there is room for a third way
A: Otherwise we would not have launched the UPP. We are the future. We are
uniting. We are peace loving. We are determined and we are understood by the
people. Most importantly, we have God on our side.
Q: If you contested next year's elections, how would you rate your chances
against Mugabe, Mutambara, and Tsvangirai?
A: It's not about rating myself against anyone, but about giving the people
of Zimbabwe the right to choose their leader democratically. On the basis of
UPP's ideals and my own qualities, I expect to be the people's choice.
(Interjection) Q: But surely elections are about winning political power and
every serious politician ought to rate his chances
A:† UPP is going to contest elections to win credibly.?
Q: If your disagreement with ZANU PF is based on principles, why did you
join the party in the first place? Many would say your formation of the UPP
was because of sulking over your expulsion from ZANU PF.
A: First to correct you, I was never expelled from ZANU PF. I was suspended
for five years from ZANU PF and then I resigned. I was the chairman of ZANU
PF's largest political province and also a member of ZANU PF's leading
organ, the Central Committee.
I therefore, had adequate influence and believed that together with many
others, who later developed cold feet, we could change ZANU PF from within.
I, and several others, have since concluded that ZANU PF is impervious to
change. Thus my suspension only sped up a process that was long underway.
I understand the current ZANU PF political system better than most of the
current opposition leaders. I am not only best able to undo and correct most
of the ZANU PF evil, but also able to give hope and leadership to
Zimbabweans, both as a politician and businessman.
Q:† You were well known because of your connection to TeleAccess. You seem
to have failed to launch the network after repeated attempts. Some would say
how could we entrust Zimbabwe into the hands of a man who failed to exploit
an excellent business opportunity like this in this age of the
telecommunications boom? In fact one of your former employees wrote a letter
in the Zimbabwe Independent questioning your credibility as a businessman
describing you as a failure.
A:† Any positive process will always meet a good measure of negative
sceptics. The TeleAccess telecommunications business issue is currently
before the courts in Zimbabwe. I therefore, cannot comment much, save to say
the business was not allocated any foreign currency to import the required
equipment to commence operations. I will not respond to a former employee's
opinion, it is his democratic right to communicate his feelings.
Q: We can now safely say you have gained political experience. How would you
describe the situation on the ground as it pertains to new parties trying to
A: I did not gain political experience by launching a political party. I
have always been politically astute. I come from a family of political
leaders and nationalists. The rest is detailed in my profile.
Q: What is the way forward for Zimbabwe to ensure that next year's elections
are free and fair.
A: Without a new people-driven constitution, there will not be free and fair
elections. ZANU PF does not want free and fair elections because they know
they will lose. What they want is a process that satisfies their thirst for
absolute power. That is why they continue to manipulate the people of
Zimbabwe by now attempting to draft a constitution. Unfortunately, the MDC
has been conniving with ZANU PF in short-changing the nation in this
Being in parliament cannot be used as a right or means to further one's
political goals at the expense of the people. Let the people choose the
shape and nature of a popular national constitution.
Q: Is the UPP contemplating joining forces with other opposition candidates
to ensure a single opposition candidate to take on Mugabe and avoid
A: It seems some of you guys are obsessed with these forced marriages of
convenience that most often lead to painful divorces. Any coalition not
premised on a shared ideology will fail. The media should let the
ideological framework and policies of political parties dictate any such
Thank you Mr Shumba for your prompt answers. We wish you the best.
A: Again I am not Mr Shumba, I am Dr Shumba. - ZimOnline
SW Radio Africa (London)
15 November 2007
Posted to the web 15 November 2007
War veterans and Zanu PF militia on Wednesday severely assaulted a
59-year-old woman for wearing an MDC t-shirt and carrying an opposition
party umbrella, at Watsomba business centre in Manicaland.
Juliet Dangare Mandiringa, a well-known opposition activist and grandmother
of three, was passing by a long queue for sugar supplies which was manned by
Zanu PF supporters when she was confronted. According to witnesses, the
youths and war veterans accused her of being a sell-out and a saboteur of
the economy. They then beat her up with sticks, clenched fists and booted
feet before leaving her for dead. Some opposition activists took her for
treatment in Mutare.
On Thursday, Mandiringa was still recovering from welts across the chest,
cuts on the back and severe leg and head injuries.
Pishai Muchauraya, the MDC spokesman for Manicaland, accused Zanu PF of
fomenting political violence in the region.
Muchauraya said: "We note with sadness the escalating levels of violence in
Manicaland. It shows how much the Zanu PF seeds of violence, sown in 2000
have grown roots too deep to unroot. The assault of Mandiringa by youths
young enough to be her grand children is quite regrettable. It means that
efforts to end violence need to be intensified, with orders from Mugabe
Meanwhile the six MDC activists arrested under the Law and Order Act for
allegedly holding illegal political meetings have been remanded out of
custody to 24 January next year.
The six were part of a group of 15 activists who were abducted from a house
belonging to an MDC member in Chipinge South on Monday. The group was
force-marched from the house by militias loyal to the Zanu-PF MP for the
area, Enock Porusingazi. Nine of the activists were released on Tuesday.
SW Radio Africa (London)
15 November 2007
Posted to the web 15 November 2007
Media analysts have described the omission of Tafataona Mahoso from the
government committee looking into the Daily News case, as a non-event.
This follows a public statement by Sikhanyiso Ndlovu on Wednesday, in which
the Information minister announced that Media and Information Commission
(MIC) chairman Mahoso and fellow board member,
Pascal Mukondiwa will not be part of the new-look committee on the case.
Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ) executives, who published the banned
Daily News and Daily News on Sunday newspapers, had raised concern about the
impartiality of the two Zanu PF zealots.
Ndlovu's announcement has been viewed as a toning down of the government's
hard-line stance towards the freeing of media space. It is understood that
the Mugabe regime has been under pressure from brokers of the mediated talks
between the ruling party and the MDC, to allow the Daily News to begin
Critics have fingered Mahoso as the chief conspirator in the banning of the
two ANZ papers and the closure of others.
At a press conference in Harare Ndlovu said Chinondidyachii Mararike has
been appointed interim chairman to deal with the ANZ application and would
Observers have dismissed the changes to the committee, given that Mararike
is a known Zanu PF sympathiser. He is a former head of a London-based
"anti-imperialism" organisation called Davirai Mhere and is a lawyer and
columnist in the state-run media, commenting on fighting "western
Former Daily News editor, Bill Saidi, said that the government should stop
"throwing red herrings" and reconstitute the Daily News forthwith.
He said: "They can fool some people sometimes but they can't fool all the
people all the time. The whole case needs to be treated as a matter of
urgency now because the government will be more than happy to still go ahead
and hold the crucial elections in March under current conditions. We need a
free press before then and in good time too, to make sure that the
electorate is well informed long before the polls. It will not make much of
a difference if they award the ANZ a license in February because then there
will be not enough time for the media to play its role to inform and educate
society. I wouldn't entertain any hopes as yet, these people (Zanu PF) are
cunning, and they can be ruthless."
The two ANZ papers were banned by the government on 11 September 2003 under
the draconian Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act. The
Supreme Court ruled then that the company was publishing its two titles
outside the law because it refused to register them under tough media laws
introduced following Mugabe's controversial re-election in 2002.
However, in May this year a High Court judge ordered the MIC to consider a
fresh application for the newspapers, resulting in these new members being
named to the board to handle the application.
A free media is extremely important to ensure free and fair elections. It is
interesting that freeing the airwaves for radio, which reaches by far the
largest audience in Zimbabwe, is not being discussed.
SW Radio Africa (London)
15 November 2007
Posted to the web 15 November 2007
The man accused of plotting a coup to topple Robert Mugabe has turned out to
be a small time crook who left the United Kingdom after a BBC investigation
exposed how he assisted fraudulent asylum claims.
In 2004 undercover reporters working for BBC Radio 5 Live exposed how Albert
Matapo's Zimbabwean Community UK charity group sold fake Home Office
letters, granting asylum and national insurance numbers which are important
for securing employment. Now back in Zimbabwe Matapo and 6 other men were
arrested in May this year and charged with treason for attempting to
overthrow Mugabe. The state alleged that Matapo wanted to be prime minister,
while Rural Housing Minister Emerson Mnangagwa was "invited" to become
But as Matapo's past catches up with him doubts are beginning to emerge
about how someone who made a living engaging in petty crimes and fraud could
have planned a military coup in Zimbabwe. His 'Zimbabwean Community UK' was
created in 2003 with an initial ¬£5,000 grant of lottery funding. It is
claimed Matapo spent the money on a luxury BMW vehicle and other personal
items. Defending the coup plot allegations this week he dragged in Zimbabwe
Association (UK) official Patson Muzuva accusing him of framing him over the
fraud allegations, with the help of the BBC. A furious Muzuva told Newsreel
that Matapo should focus on the coup plot allegations and leave his name out
of the trial.
Muzuva said his only interaction with Matapo was when the Zimbabwe Community
UK facilitated a trip by Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono, to promote the
Home Link scheme. Muzuva said he campaigned aggressively against that trip
and this might be the reason why Matapo is picking on him now. He said
Matapo had a fall-out with his own colleagues about the way they spent the
lottery funding and they ended up reporting each other to the authorities in
the UK. But Matapo's Zanu PF links, which he previously denied, came out in
court when he claimed Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi knew
he was in the UK 'for the purpose of promoting national interests.'
It's not yet clear whether Matapo was deported from the UK, but several
people who lost money to his organization are eager to recover it. Observers
suggest that he has now become a convenient scapegoat in the succession
power play within Zanu PF.
SW Radio Africa (London)
15 November 2007
Posted to the web 15 November 2007
Student organizations have said they believe university officials are under
government instruction to target influential student leaders and remove them
from campuses around the country, ahead of the elections scheduled for next
They referred to the escalating assaults, arrests and evictions of student
leaders at major universities as evidence of this campaign.
There have been six expulsions at the National University of Science and
Technology so far this year. Half the student leadership at the University
of Zimbabwe campus in Harare is due to face disciplinary hearings, and
student leaders were dragged from exam rooms and thrown off campus at Great
Zimbabwe University last week, without the benefit of disciplinary hearings.
McDonald Lewanika, a coordinator with the Student Solidarity Trust, said he
believes what is happening now is a result of a government directive that
dates back to 2002, just before the presidential elections. He explained
that a statement was released at the time by the Ministry of Education, to
the effect that they would no longer close institutions of higher learning
whenever students protested. Instead, they would weed out students regarded
as "bad influences" on the student unions.
Lewanika added: "What is happening cannot be viewed outside the context of
elections that will be taking place in this country next year, a couple of
months from now. What we have is a process whereby different university
authorities are weeding out people who they think are critical of the
government of Zimbabwe within the students' movement and throwing them off
campus so that they will not be able to influence anything where students
are concerned, during that critical period."
In some cases the accused are being charged with leading students in violent
incidents that occurred on campuses earlier this year. In other cases the
students are being prosecuted for criticizing the government's neglect of
education. Just pointing out mere facts in Zimbabwe has become a crime, as
opposed to the constitutional right that it actually is.
The students effectively have no way of expressing their frustrations at a
system that is making it impossible to get a decent education. A strong
statement released by the Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU) said in
part: "The government of the day seems to be at unease because the students,
as the general populace, are fast losing their patience and cannot wait for
a change in governance."
††††† By Ndimyake Mwakalyelye
††††† 15 November 2007
Having exhausted their legal options in Zimbabwe, former white commercial
farmers who lost property to land redistribution are seeking recourse at a
A tribunal of the Southern African Development Community is set to hear one
such case next Tuesday in Windhoek, the Namibian capital. The 10-judge
regional court was created in 2000 to resolve conflicts arising from
Many white Zimbabwean farmers have challenged the constitutionality of the
seizure of their land beginning in 2000, but with little success. Eleven
farmers recently went on trial for failing to vacate farms by a date set by
Harare, and the supreme court ruled recently that the government could take
over equipment owned by the farmers.
Advocate Jeremy Gauntlett, representing white farmer William Michael
Campbell in the tribunal, told reporter Ndimyake Mwakalyelye of VOA's Studio
7 for Zimbabwe that his client will ask the SADC court to order a halt to
state action, pending a fair trial.
Cape Town-based political analyst Glenn Mpani said the case raises a thorny
issue for the tribunal as land reform concerns a number of countries in the
region, adding that while the farmers are right to turn to the SADC court,
their chances are slim.
Despite the pessimism on the SADC tribunal outcome, some Dutch farmers who
lost properties to Zimbabwean land reform recently prevailed in a French
court that found the government had violated their rights. Zimbabwean
Minister Didymus Mutasa, in charge of land reform, said the government will
compensate them when it can.
††††† By Irwin Chifera and Carole Gombakomba
††††† Harare & Washington
††††† 15 November 2007
A senior official of the Zimbabwe's opposition faction led by Morgan
Tsvangirai and a prospective candidate for parliament said Thursday that
they were beaten severely by soldiers at defense headquarters in Harare for
parking a party vehicle nearby.
Chief Executive Officer Toindepi Shonhe of the Movement for Democratic
Change faction said he parked the vehicle outside Defense House in downtown
Harare and entered the Ambassador Hotel to meet Julius Mangagoma, a
prospective candidate for the lower house in the Buhera North constituency
of Mashonaland East.
Shonhe said hotel staff told him soldiers were looking for the driver of the
vehicle, and when he returned to his parking place he was set upon by eight
soldiers and dragged into a basement where they began to beat him. When
Mangagoma went looking for Shonhe, he too was forced into the basement and
beaten, the two men said.
Harare correspondent Irwin Chifera of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe reported.
Meanwhile, faction leader and MDC founder Morgan Tsvangirai† called an
emergency meeting on Sunday of all the formation's provincial leaders in 120
districts, but party officials said they could not provide information on
the agenda for the meeting.
The Tsvangirai faction last month launched an outreach program to explain to
its civic allies and other supporters why it had voted with the ruling
ZANU-PF party to pass the 18th amendment to the constitution over the
objections of many party members. The amendment significantly modified the
country's electoral framework, among other provisions expanding the lower
house of parliament to 210 seats from 150.
Sources say Tsvangirai may be intending consult with or solicit input from
the faction's provincial leaders about the ongoing South African-mediated
crisis resolution talks that yielded what some considered a historic
compromise on the amendment - but which have made some MDC backers uneasy
due to the secrecy surrounding them.
The Tsvangirai faction has also been troubled since last month by divisions
over the leadership's dissolution of the executive committee of its women's
The faction's organizing secretary, former Harare mayor Elias Mudzuri, told
reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that while the
controversy over the women's assembly shuffle may not be on Sunday's agenda,
Tsvangirai clearly intends to engage his provincial officers at a crucial
moment for the formation.
††††† By Blessing Zulu & Jonga Kandemiiri
††††† 15 November 2007
Food shortages in Zimbabwe are expected to intensify amid indications the
National Incomes and Pricing Commission set in place by President Robert
Mugabe several months ago is fixing to launch another crackdown on
businesses in the country.
Commission Chairman Godwills Masimirembwa told VOA he has given firms which
sell imported products until next Thursday, Nov. 22, to clear imported stock
from their shelves, after which date his commission will impose tightened
Masimirembwa said his commission will prohibit businesses from turning to
the parallel market for hard currency to import goods and then to to price
A showdown is looming between Masimirembwa and Reserve Bank Governor Gideon
Gono, said to be printing trillions of dollars in an effort to resuscitate
manufacturing through its so-called Basic Commodities Supply Side
Gono has said he is trying to reverse the effects of price cuts imposed by
the state in late June which quickly led to widespread shortages of
Masimirembwa told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that
he has been meeting with manufacturers and retailers to explain the new
Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce President Marah Hativagone said the
new policies are likely to further restrict the movement of goods into the
Meanwhile, bank notes are in short supply along with just about everything
else, with long queues outside banks which are cutting back on what they
will allow customers to withdraw and at times waiting for cash deposits
before they can pay out notes.
Automated teller machines in many locations are empty, forcing customers to
stand in line to obtain cash. Individuals previously had been allowed to
withdraw Z$20 million (US$20) a day , companies Z$40 million, but banks have
reduced these limits.
Consumer Tongai Mupfudza of Warren Park, Harare, said he tried to withdraw
Z$10 million from Stanbic Bank but could only get Z$5 million. Corporate
withdrawals are limited to Z$10 million at many banks, Harare financial
Economist Nhlanhla Nyathi told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri of VOA's Studio 7
for Zimbabwe that cash shortages probably reflect the surging prices of
basic goods on the parallel market where most Zimbabweans find them these
††††† By Ntungamili Nkomo
††††† Washington DC
††††† 15 November 2007
A top official of the African Commission on Human and People's Rights on
Thursday described the unfolding situation in Zimbabwe as alarming and urged
the African Union to exercise its authority and take steps to address the
crisis, sources said.
AU Commission Vice Chairman Yassir El-Hassan cited alleged human rights
abuses which Zimbabwean nongovernmental organizations report to be on the
rise. The AU rights body is meeting for a week in Brazzaville, Republic of
Sources in Brazzaville said El-Hassan, who indicated he was very concerned,
might use his influence to push the crisis in Zimbabwe to the AU for serious
The Harare government sent attorneys to the session but no high level
officials, unlike previous meetings where it has been represented by its
minister of justice. A complaint against Harare lodged by human rights
lawyer Gabriel Shumba was put off until May, 2008, because the Zimbabwean
government had not filed a response.
Rights lawyer Anah Moyo, present at Thursday's session, told reporter
Ntungamili Nkomo of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that rights activists who
met earlier this week under the Africa NGOs Forum presented resolutions on
Zimbabwe in the session.
Business in Africa
By Hany Besada
Outside observers were both surprised and dismayed by the loud applause
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe received at the start of the 27th Summit
of Heads of State and Government of the Southern Africa Development
Community (SADC) last month in Zambia's capital, Lusaka.† By the end of the
two day conference on Friday, President Mugabe emerged triumphant, having
avoided criticism from his Southern African compatriots for his mishandling
of the national economy and his gross human rights violations against
opposition groups and civil society organizations, accusations shared by the
international community.† Inevitably, this underscores the failure of the
much-hailed New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) initiative to
rein on one of Africa's last `Big Men' whose ruling party Zimbabwe African
National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) reflects a phenomenon which has
been tragically taking place on the continent for decades, principally, a
lack of adherence by African leaders to good governance and political
unaccountability to the electorate.
Following its inception in 2001, NEPAD has been envisaged by its founding
members as an ambitious and comprehensive initiative, designed to address
the negative direction of underdevelopment and poverty, as well as to end
the continued and deepening marginalization of Africa in an interdependent
international system. It can be distinguished from other failed past
initiatives in that it has been initiated and driven by African leaders to
help promote peace, security and economic development at a grassroots level,
while consolidating democracy, good governance and sound economic
management. For the first time, African leaders have personally committed
themselves to holding each other accountable for its implementation.
However, six years on, questions have started to surface about the
effectiveness and viability of the entire NEPAD process. The main question
of the day reflects both the fear and optimism surrounding the future of
this initiative. Whether or not NEPAD will succeed in achieving its goals
ultimately depends on three factors: the support of the developed states in
investing in the continent; the continual commitment of African leaders to
the process itself; and the continued implementation and guaranteed
integrity of the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM).
As the most important innovative component of NEPAD, the APRM represents the
commitment of African states to submit themselves to a peer review process
to demonstrate their adherence to good corporate governance and
socioeconomic development, to democracy and good governance, as well as to
good economic governance and management. It presents itself as the only
opportunity for African governments and institutions to address the
challenges of deepening poverty, political turmoil, unemployment and
However, the APRM faces a daunting task to live up to its expectations,
given some of the limitations that exist within the process, as well as
other environmental constraints surrounding it. As an instrument voluntarily
acceded to by member states of the African Union (AU) to facilitate an
African self-monitoring mechanism, it lacks the authority to impose
sanctions on noncompliant governments. The effectiveness of the peer review
process largely depends on the level of persuasion that other African
governments may exert on the states that are being reviewed.
A continuous reliance on institutional capacity rather than on political
will is threatening to undermine the process even further. APRM has yet to
bring an end to the solidarity existing among African leaders who have long
supported each other to remain in office by rigging elections and
undermining the election process.† This deficiency was apparent at the SADC
Head of State and Government Summit where member states displayed yet
another show of solidarity with the octogenarian Zimbabwean dictator, whose
people are facing acute food shortages in the midst of an economic
To much of the dismay of the Zimbabwe weary population and frustrated
opposition groups, principally the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC),
SADC leaders reiterated their call for a drop of targeted sanctions against
Mugabe by the US and the EU while calling on both the MDC and ZANU-PF to
"expedite the process of negotiations as soon as possible ahead of the all
contentious national elections scheduled for June next year.
Given the unwillingness by SADC Heads of States to put pressure on Mugabe
for political reform and Zimbabwe's hesitancy to submit to the voluntary
peer review process, Zimbabwe has become the Achilles heel of the entire
NEPAD and APRM process. It has made a mockery of any pretence that African
statesmen are moving ahead in tackling good governance concerns on the
continent.† Ultimately, the extent of NEPAD's success will ultimately depend
on the resolve of all African governments and civil society to submit
themselves to scrutiny, while holding Zimbabwe and other incompliant states
accountable to their populations. The challenge facing Africans now is to
sustain the optimism and hope that surrounded the process by taking
ownership not only of Africa's problems, but also of the continent's future
as a whole.
Hany Besada is the senior researcher working on fragile states at the Centre
for International Governance Innovation in Waterloo,Canada.
ZIMBABWE-I met Max Mkhandla in the sitting room of Radio Dialogue's ninth
floor offices in the southern city of Bulawayu. He wore an olive green
jumpsuit and looked mildly contemptuous of all the soft couches. His fierce
eyes squinted from between a shaved crown and a compact beard that jutted
horizontally out from his chin and served to emphasize the thrust of his
words. Max was to be my guide for a tour of the arid countryside surrounding
Bulawayu. Here, in the province of Matebeleland, the effects of what Mugabe
refers to as Zimbabwe's "third chimurenga" - independence struggle - were
said to be the most acute in the country. Max knew the region well, having
covered it on foot as a teenage guerrilla during the second chimurenga of
the 1970's, when people still fought with guns. Then, the battle lines had
been clear: black rebels versus the white soldiers of apartheid Rhodesia, as
Zimbabwe was then known. Things are murkier now. Not only have dollar bills
replaced bullets, but skin color is no longer a reliable determinant of
friend and foe.
We planned the following day's expedition as though plotting a military
campaign. Max stroked his beard and brooded while I explained my desire to
visit the rural communities of Matebeleland. To paraphrase myself, I wanted
to see poverty at its worst.
He muttered into space for a few moments, then sat up abruptly, snapping his
fingers and clapping his palm. He pointed forward. "Forty liters of fuel -
that's all we need," he exclaimed. In a country where gasoline is solely
available on the black market, and rarely in quantities greater than five
liters, this was no small necessity. But Max assured me that if I had the
money, he had the connections. "We leave early - early! Four am. We get
there by dawn, you can take your footage, and" - snap, clap, point - "we're
back before the police even wake up."
So eager was he to avoid road blocks that Max arrived twenty minutes ahead
of schedule; I awoke to the sound of his weathered Mazda pick-up honking in
the night. A light mist was falling from the sky, and by the time we were
outside of Bulawayu it was raining hard enough to dim the headlights. "This
is good weather!" Max said. The drought had broken.
Max had changed into a grey linen suit and, hunched over the creaking wheel,
looked oddly dignified. He told me about the Zimbabwe Peace Initiative, a
movement comprised of 2,000 disillusioned freedom fighters who didn't like
what the Zimbabwe they'd fought for had become. Max was their leader. "We
are non-partisan," he assured me. "We demand free and fair elections; and
also, free distribution of Zimbabwe's wealth."
The president, Max felt, was guilty of hoarding.
I asked him if he wasn't afraid of the government sending him to jail for
"They would not dare. I am very respected here. Very feared."
In fact, he said, it was his own ZPI which acted as the local enforcement
agency to ensure that none of the local politicians incited violence ahead
of next year's election.
"If anyone causes any trouble," he told me, "we go to their house, and we
His aspiration was to become Zimbabwe's Minister of Defence.
In the meantime, he took great satisfaction in passing an unmanned
roadblock. He clapped and pointed at the green military tent beside the
Even with his hands on the wheel Max had a tendency to veer unnecessarily.
The asphalt narrowed to a single lane whose edges crumbled into gravel, and
every so often Max would hammer a pothole at speed, shouting "bastard" each
time. By now it was getting light, revealing a scrub-covered savannah dotted
with conical huts and eucalyptus trees. The rain had subsided. People began
to appear on the road, walking singly or, sometimes, piled into a donkey
cart, moving off the pavement as we passed and left them inching towards
It was three hours from Bulawayu by the time we pulled in to Nkayi. The
highway had given way to a labyrinth of brown sandy paths winding through
the bush, when suddenly an abandoned-looking town appeared. The few
remaining inhabitants stood under tree canopies and the awnings of a
derelict general store, sheltering from the rain that had come up again,
more lightly than before.
Max took me to a fenced-off collection of small blue huts, which might have
been the inspiration for the creators of The Smurfs. It was an orphanage.
Some thirty children now lived here, bereft of their parents by AIDS. Max
was their sole source of income.
"We used to take care of some disabled children as well," Max said, "but the
police kicked them out." Apparently the government felt it was too close a
reminder that it couldn't take care of its own. Later we would drive another
thirty kilometres to where a nine-year-old hunchback, a teenaged dwarf and a
middle-aged victim of polio lived in total isolation, with three more
orphans and a beautiful young nurse.
But first, I was told that one of the disabled children had come back to
Nkayi. He had fallen sick, and needed what little help was available here. I
was urged to visit him, and furthermore to take pictures, the impression
being that I was here to solicit donor funding with the images my camera
would bring to the world.
As we approached the small brick shack where the child convalesced, I heard
a strangled moan, similar to a baby choking. And inside, there lay the most
wretched human; a coarse blanket separated his stunted, emaciated body from
the cement floor; another blanket covered him, which was pulled off to
reveal the twisted bones of something resembling advanced cerebral palsy -
no doctor had ever diagnosed him. He lay curled in the foetal postion on the
hard, damp floor, his eyes rolled back, moaning piteously; his skin was
peeling in wide swathes from his knees and arms.
It was the very picture of misery - and my camera refused to take it.
Moments before, I had snapped photos of the town as we entered; inside this
excruciating shack, the internal mechanisms only whirred and clicked
incongruously. The camera simply wouldn't function. I turned it on and off,
inspecting the settings while I pretended to snap photos for Max's benefit;
we spent an endless five minutes in that shack, and not once would the
shutter open to capture the image before me.
We left the room, though its stench clung to my nostrils for a while longer,
then said our goodbyes and drove away. I pulled my camera out. Relieved of
the circumstances, it worked just fine.
By Arno Kopecky
This entry was posted on Thursday, November 15th, 2007 at 5:12 pm