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Magistrate defers ruling on State’s attempt to indict Roy Bennett – ZLHR

ZLHR LogoZLHR Press Release – 13 Oct : A Mutare Provincial Magistrate will on Wednesday 14 October 2009 deliver judgment on the State’s application to indict Deputy Agriculture Minister-Designate and Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Treasurer Roy Bennett for trial in the High Court.

Law officers Michael Mugabe and Chris Mutangadura from the office of the Attorney General (AG) caused a delay in the commencement of proceedings which were due to kick off at 08:30hrs today and were stood down to 14:30hrs, as they only arrived in Mutare after 15:00hrs, citing an inability to access fuel for the journey.

They sought to further delay the proceedings in this long-outstanding matter by informing Provincial Magistrate, Lucy Mungwari that the State now intended to indict Bennett for trial in the High Court, rather than allow the trial to proceed today in her court. They further advised that they intended to prosecute Bennett next week in Mutare, where the High Court will be conducting its Circuit Court.

All along, the AG’s representatives have sought to continue proceedings in the Magistrates’ Court, but are now arguing that this Court does not have jurisdiction to consider the matter.

Defence lawyers, led by Beatrice Mtetwa, told Magistrate Mungwari that the State was now backtracking on an earlier agreement in which the AG’s office had agreed and undertaken to commence trial proceedings on 13 October 2009 in the Magistrates’ Court. They argued that the AG’s office had not given Bennett any notice of their intention to indict him in the High Court, and nor had they served him or his lawyers with any papers.

The defence lawyers also accused the law officers of attempting to delay the trial of Bennett so as to frustrate his removal from remand. At Bennett’s last appearance for remand, his lawyers had placed on record before the court, and given notice that if the State failed to commence with the trial on 13 October 2009, they would apply for refusal of further remand.

Magistrate Mungwari will deliver her ruling tomorrow at 14:30hrs on whether the State has complied with the law in relation to their attempts to indict Bennett, or whether the State is raising this argument for purposes of frustrating his removal from remand.

The Magistrate will also rule on whether the AG had agreed with defence lawyers that 13 October 2009 had been set as Bennett’s trial date and whether the AG’s Office had advised the court that trial would be held in the regional court and not in the High Court.

If Magistrate Mungwari rules in the State’s favour, the former Chimanimani legislator’s bail would be revoked upon service of the indictment, and he would be recommitted to Mutare Remand Prison pending trial, in circumstances similar to those of Zimbabwe Peace Project executive director, Jestina Mukoko and other abductees, who were freed on bail, but were then returned to custody at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison after they were indicted in May 2009.

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ZINASU leaders arrested & beaten for 'denigrating' Mugabe

By Violet Gonda
13 October 2009

Five senior members of the Zimbabwe National Student Union were arrested
Saturday - on charges of misconduct and undermining the office of the
President and Cabinet - for saying "Robert Mugabe is the major outstanding
issue that is stalling progress for the inclusive government."

ZINASU National President Clever Bere, National Spokesperson Blessing Vava,
Secretary for Education and Research Obert Masaraure, National University of
Science and Technology SRC President Kurayi Hoyi and Great Zimbabwe
University student activist Tafadzwa Kutya were discussing national issues
while travelling in a commuter mini-bus, en-route to Glen View suburb in
Harare on Saturday evening.

One of the passengers, a police officer believed to be a member of the CIO,
commandeered the commuter bus and ordered the driver to go to Harare Central
Police Station, where the five were arrested.

Narrating what happened Bere told SW Radio Africa on Tuesday:  "One of the
activists said the problem is actually the MDC thinking that the outstanding
issues are governors, permanent secretaries and the Attorney General. The
outstanding issue is President Robert Mugabe. So that didn't go down well
with one of the passengers, who we later realised was a police detail or an
intelligence detail, upon arrival at Harare Central."

There were other passengers in the mini-bus but the driver was forced to
drive them all to the police station by the unidentified police detail. Bere
said the other passengers and the driver were too scared to disobey the

On arrival at Harare Central those identified as students were immediately
arrested and were thoroughly beaten and tortured by at least 15 police
details who accused them of insulting the President.

They were released Monday afternoon after spending two nights in custody.
The student leaders were also ordered to report back to Harare Central
Police station on Tuesday.

A statement by ZINASU said: "The arrest was quite unfortunate and has shown
lack of willingness of any meaningful reform by the police department in
this transitional period as inmates are still being subjected to inhumane
and degrading treatment while in detention. We are deeply worried and
concerned about the continued onslaught on student activists countrywide and
we once again appeal to the Co-Ministers of Home Affairs Giles Mutsekwa and
Kembo Mohadi to deal with students in a more civilised manner."

ZINASU said the student leaders, who are being represented by human rights
lawyer Zviko Chadambuka, received treatment at Avenues Clinic on Monday
evening for various injuries sustained from the beatings.

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Succession Dispute Causes Turmoil in Mugabe's party

      By Blessing Zulu
      13 October 2009

Zimbabwe's long ruling ZANU-PF's provincial organizations in Matebeleland
North and South have thrown the party into turmoil by defying a directive
from the Presidium and supreme decision making body, the Politiburo to
nominate a candidate by Wednesday to fill the vice presidential post left
vacant by the death of Joseph Msika.

Only Bulawayo has nominated party chairman John Nkomo to fill the post. The
three provinces met in Bulawayo last week and referred the nomination back
to the politburo saying that it was a national issue not a regional issue.

But on Sunday party's national secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa
said the deadline for a nomination remained in place. He said the politburo
would select a candidate if the three provinces could not agree on one.

But Zenzo Ncube, chairman of Matebelaland province, told the herald
newspaper that Mutasa cannot impose a deadline on the provinces.

Sources said Ncube has been suspended for his defiance.The party leadership
is believed to want to raise Nkomo to the vice presidency, but there is said
to be much lobbying by other candidates including ambassador to South Africa
Simon Khaya Moyo, Bulawayo governor Cain Mathema and mines minister Obert

Political analyst Charles Mangongera told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's
Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that defiance by the Matebeleland provinces exposes
the party's fundamentally undemocratic method of filling posts.

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Constitution making process facing fresh hurdles

By Tichaona Sibanda
13 October 2009

Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Eric Matinenga,
said on Tuesday the government's push for a new constitution faced fresh
hurdles, but predicted they will complete the process in time.

The inclusive government set a time-table of 18 months to draft a new
constitution, but it is already three months behind schedule. The process
has been characterized by delays in meeting key deadlines, lack of resources
and now reconfiguration of thematic committees.

The process to craft a new supreme law for the country is a key area for the
unity government formed by Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai. Parliament
is supposed to oversee the drafting of the new governance charter that will
replace the much amended 1979 constitution, through a 25-member select
committee of MPs.

Two weeks ago, Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara
appointed their six negotiators at the power sharing talks last year, to
join the three co-chairpersons of the select committee to manage the

Matinenga told SW Radio Africa that the latest setback to hit the process
was the reconfiguration of the thematic committees. Two months ago,
Parliament established 17 thematic committees to guide the process.
Initially ZANU PF and the MDC-T were to chair 7 committees each, with the
MDC-M chairing two and the Chiefs council 1.

'This has now changed. A new committee set up recently to manage the reforms
has asked us to reconfigure the party representation to ensure that all
parties in the inclusive government chair an equal number of thematic
committees,' Matinenga said.

He said as such the MDC-T, MDC-M and ZANU PF will now chair 5 thematic
committees each, with the other two chaired by traditional chiefs. These
thematic committees will lead the consultative phase of drawing up a new
constitution, as agreed in the Global Political Agreement.

The representation of people in the committees will remain the same. Civil
society, chiefs and other stakeholders still maintain a 70% representation,
while parliament will remain with 30%.

The 17 thematic committees are as follows;

1.   Founding principles of the constitution,
2.   Media
3.   Land, natural resources and empowerment.
4.   Executive organs of the state, PSC, police and defence
5.   Languages
6.   Women and gender issues
7.   War veterans
8.   Arms of state, principle of the separation of powers.
9.   Systems of government
10. Citizenship and bill of rights
11. Youth
12. The disabled
13. Elections, transitional mechanisms and independent commissions
14. Labour.
15. Public finance
16. Religion
17. Traditional institutions and customs

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Mwana close to finance deal on Zimbabwe mine

Tue Oct 13, 2009 1:28pm IST

* Expects loan from development bank by end of month

* Funding would double output at reopened Zimbabwe gold mine

* Also hopes to get funds to reopen Bindura nickel operation

By Eric Onstad

LONDON, Oct 13 (Reuters) - Miner Mwana Africa Plc (MWA.L: Quote, Profile,
Research) is close to a landmark deal to finance the second phase of its
Freda Rebecca gold mine in Zimbabwe, which could set the stage for the
revival of a nearby nickel operation, the firm's chief executive said.

London-listed Mwana is holding discussions with development banks about a
loan to allow output to double at Freda, which reopened this month, Kalaa
Mpinga told Reuters.

"I'm hoping that by the end of the month we have secured the loan. It would
probably be the first time a development institution has actually lent money
into Zimbabwe in a very long time for a project," he said in an interview
late on Monday.

"In terms of restoring confidence in the ability of Zimbabwe to operate as a
normal place, this is going to be the test case."

AIM-listed Mwana reopened its Freda gold mine last month following improved
economic conditions in Zimbabwe and the first commercial gold production was
due this week, he said.

Mwana had enough cash to pay for the initial phase of the restart of Freda,
which will produce 30-35,000 ounces of gold per year, but a second stage
costing around $8 million would boost output to 70-80,000 ounces.

Cash costs were expected to be about $700 per ounce for the first phase and
$500-$550 in the second. This compares to a current gold price XAU= of
around $1,050 per ounce.

At its peak in 2002, the mine produced 100,000 ounces a year and that is the
eventual target, which should be possible by finding higher grades and
unlocking efficiencies, Mpinga added.


He hopes a successful restart of Freda will give confidence to institutions
to help fund the revival of a much bigger operation, the nearby Bindura
nickel business.

Bindura Nickel Corp -- the only integrated nickel miner, smelter and
refinery in Africa -- shut down last November due to low nickel prices and
operational problems.

However, it is viable again with the rebound in prices and Zimbabwe's
coalition government that has dramatically improved conditions in the
country, Mpinga said.

A major revival of Bindura's two mines, new mine project, smelter and
refinery would cost around $150 million, but it is more likely that it would
be done in phases.

The gradual approach would take three to four years and would likely kick
off by restarting the Trojan mine and selling concentrate to be processed

Mwana is already in talks with commercial banks about funding, but there are
many options since Bindura is listed in Zimbabwe. Mwana owns 53 percent of
Bindura, the government has about 20 percent and shareholders own the rest.

Some equity funding was possible for Bindura while Mwana has received
approaches from Chinese and Indian parties regarding possible offtake
agreements, he said.

Mpinga was also bullish about Mwana's Zani-Kodo gold property in north-east
Democratic Republic of Congo.

It is sandwiched between two other rich deposits, one owned by Moto
Goldmines, which was recently agreed to be acquired for C$546 million ($528
million) by Randgold Resources (RRS.L: Quote, Profile, Research) and South
Africa's AngloGold (ANGJ.J: Quote, Profile, Research). AngloGold owns a
separate deposit nearby.

Mwana's objective is to establish a deposit of 1-1.5 million ounces of gold
and start out with a mine producing 50-100,000 ounces per year. Due to his
confidence in the deposit, Mpinga said he was already making preliminary
plans for a mine.

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Human rights group urges relaxation of Zimbabwe's media controls

APA-Harare (Zimbabwe) A human rights group on Tuesday called for the opening
up of Zimbabwe's media space as a freelance journalist appeared in court to
face charges of trespassing onto a controversial diamond field where
allegations of abuse have been levelled against the army.

The Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZIMRIGHTS) said the continued
government stranglehold on the media was stifling current efforts to come up
with a people-driven constitution.

The body said the information gap caused by the government-induced media
polarisation was a cause for concern at a time a parliamentary committee was
trying to gather public views on creating a new democratic constitution.

"The Zimbabwe Human Rights Association calls for the opening up of the media
space to ensure that information gets to more people on time. As it is, not
enough people know of the progress that has been made on the process and how
they can get involved," ZIMRIGHTS said.

The information gap was therefore "compromising the quality of information
gathered by the committee", the group said.

Media reforms have been put on hold as the country awaits the appointment of
the Zimbabwe Media Commission which will oversee the laws governing the
operations of the press.

ZIMRIGHTS spoke following the arrest of freelance journalist Annie Mtalume
on allegations of entering the "protected area" without a pass.

Mtalume was arrested Friday after she went to the Chiadzwa diamond fields
near the border with Mozambique to investigate allegations of human rights
abuses by the army.

She appeared in a regional court on Monday and was charged with violating
the Protected Areas Act.

  JN/daj/APA 2009-10-13

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16 candidates shortlisted for Human Rights Commission

By Tichaona Sibanda
13 October 2009

A Law lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe, Dr Ellen Sithole, was the
leading candidate after Monday's interviews to sit on the country's first
ever statutory human rights commission.

She was closely followed by Bulawayo based lawyer Kucaca Phulu. The two are
part of a list of 16 candidates from a list of 35 applicants who were short
listed, following the interviews in Harare. There are 8 women and 8 men.
Initially 112 candidates applied but that figure was whittled down to 35 by
Parliament's Standing Rules and Orders Committee.

'Out of the eight women, the President will nominate four of them to be
human rights commissioners. The same applies to men where four will be
chosen from a list of eight,' a parliamentary source said.

Mugabe will appoint a chairman for the commission, after consultations with
Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara, to bring to nine the total number
serving on the rights body. The rules governing the appointments of the
human rights commission stipulate that the chair has to be a lawyer with at
least 5 years experience.

Former ZANU PF stalwart Jacob Mudenda, who is a lawyer by profession, made
it to the list and so did Irene Sithole, who is a sister to Dr Sithole.
Others who made it were human rights practitioner Dr Douglas Gwatidzo,
former Immigration and Customs boss Elasto Mugwadi, Dr Joseph Kurebwa a
political scientist at the UZ, NUST lecturer Professor Themba Khombe and Dr
Kwanele Jirira.

Monday's interviews were the last to be conducted by parliament. The
selection process for two other bodies, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission
and the Zimbabwe Media Commission, were completed last month.

Human rights lawyer Gabriel Shumba told us that once it is formalised, the
commission's mandate will involve the promotion and protection of human
rights in the country.

'The commission will help the government keep justice, human rights and the
rule of law at the centre of efforts to bring peace and harmony in the
country,' Shumba said.

They will also go out to the people to appraise them of what to do in case
of rights abuses.

According to human rights organisations such as Amnesty International and
Human Rights Watch, the government of Zimbabwe has repeatedly violated the
rights to shelter, food, freedom of movement and residence, freedom of
assembly and the protection of the law. There are still assaults on the
media, MDC, civil society activists and human rights defenders.

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Hot Seat interview: Dep. Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara


HOT SEAT: Violet Gonda talks to Deputy Prime Minister & MDC-M President Arthur Mutambara. In this first of a two-part interview, Mutambara talks about the progress and challenges facing the inclusive government. Do the MDC formations really have a plan to force Mugabe to share power equally, and a plan to get out of a cycle of compromise and appeasement?

Broadcast: 09 October 2009

VIOLET GONDA: We welcome Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara on the programme Hot Seat. Welcome on the programme Professor.

ARTHUR MUTAMBARA: Thank you very much for this opportunity Violet to share with your listeners.

GONDA: Thank you. Now let’s start with your thoughts or getting your thoughts on the progress of the inclusive government. How are things going?

MUTAMBARA: I think on balance we are making some progress. I must start by saying that when we evaluate the progress we must understand where the country was this time last year. This time last year our Minister of Finance was being charged with treason, I was in the court system myself, we’re just coming out of the farcical run-off, and the economy was in complete melt-down. And so today we have dollarised, our inflation is down to 3% from half a trillion per cent, we have brought about political stability in the country where the three major parties are working together, there is now economic stability of sorts and we are now working on economic growth and development. We have an economic recovery plan, we are working on a medium term plan, we are working on a national vision for the country, we are re-branding our country, we are working on a national constitution and we are working on national healing. So those are the positive aspects.

On the negative side, we have not fully implemented the GPA, there are outstanding issues on The Global Political Agreement, there are issues on our farms where there are fresh farm invasions in the country, there are people invading the conservancies in the country destroying agro-industries. There are challenges around the media, the State media is biased against the former opposition leaders like myself, Tsvangirai and others, so media reforms are very slow, the constitutional process is moving but not as fast as we would want it to do and many other issues that are outstanding but let me say that our view is that these challenges are expected, they are growing pains, there are teething problems and we hope that we should gather the political will across the political divide to resolve these matters.

GONDA: Are there really just teething problems because you were reported recently saying that the two MDC formations have no power to stop these continued abuses of power by Zanu-PF and that the MDC parties have no control in the unity government. Can you confirm this?

MUTAMBARA: Yah well, you know we must always remember that the Agreement was a compromise arrangement. It was an Agreement which was tilted in the favour of Zanu-PF. So going in, if you look at the debates we had on Home Affairs, the debates we had on sharing of cabinet, the debates we had on the top ten ministries, on balance the Agreement was a major compromise for us coming from the opposition. So we expected to have problems and challenges. So what I was saying in that remark was to dramatise that in this coalition arrangement we are coming from three different directions, we have to negotiate and sometimes fight on every issue and sometimes we coming from the former opposition do not win. I was just giving an honest statement that the things we want done sometimes are not done. For example we are saying we want a complete moratorium on land acquisition, we want to move away from land acquisition to land use and we have not succeeded in carrying out that programme.

So I was expressing my frustration and the frustrations of others we work with in terms of us not being able to achieve what we want. But that does not mean that we have failed and the government has collapsed. We must continue to engage with each other we must continue talking to each other and I hope in this conversation with you we can do some scenario analysis of what it means for the collapse of the government, what it means to pull out of the government and I think, I’ve seen a lot of comment and discussions, there’s not been any robust discussions of these scenarios, a short analysis of the scenarios and I hope you and I will be able to do that discourse tonight.

GONDA: I was actually going to ask that, because last week I spoke to Tendai Dumbutshena who is a Zimbabwean journalist and commentator who is based in South Africa and he was saying or he believes that the MDC should pull out of the inclusive government and he said Zanu-PF is totally devoid of fairness or good faith and that you are just wasting your time. He also…

MUTAMBARA: Yah I read that interview, there is nothing new, there is nothing of value and people like Tendai must go back home and be part of the struggle as opposed to pontificating over the radio with you. We need soldiers on the ground and he must become a soldier on the ground. Let…

GONDA: So are you saying, before you go on, are you saying that people in the Diaspora have no right to talk about the situation in the country…

MUTAMBARA: There have a right to talk but also they must put their money where their mouth is. We are speaking from the trenches. But let me analyse the work for you here. No, no, no you have a role to play but I’m saying that let’s not do too much talking, let us see more of action as well, and I’m encouraging the Diaspora to be active in particular Tendai to come back home and do some fighting from the ground.

GONDA: But the same can be said about the MDC , that there is too much talking…

MUTAMBARA: OK let me analyse, that’s fine, but I’m just encouraging all of us to do some work on the ground but you are entitled to speak. Now let’s look at the pull out. You pull out and do what? OK you pull out and then you hope that the regime of Robert Mugabe will collapse and then you walk into office without a fight. Of course you know that is not going to happen. You pull out and wait for the next election. OK what kind of election do you think you are going to get after pulling out? You know and on the Mugabe side you allowed the government to collapse and do what? Mugabe must realise that he is President of Zimbabwe because of the GPA. Without the GPA Mugabe is not President of Zimbabwe. Mugabe and Zanu-PF cannot run the country on their own. The sooner they realise this the better. Evidence - they waited from June 27 th 2008 to 11 th February 2009 without forming a government which shows that they could not form a legitimate government on their own. Havafanhiri kukanganwa chezuro nehope. The reason why they waited from June 27 th 2008 to 11 th February was because they had no legitimacy to form a government on their own. They must play ball, they must do the right things, they must make sure that they engage us and they reach out to us so that we save this marriage. We must make sure that in this marriage, our co-business, our co-agenda is the creation of conditions for free and fair elections, new constitution, national healing, media reforms, political reforms, economic recovery, economic stabilisation, so that next time around our elections are able to deliver a government.

Our elections last year were inconclusive and if we pull out of this government without fixing the electoral space, levelling the political field we are going to go through another disgraceful election and that is not progress. And Zanu must understand this as well, that they cannot run that country on their own and no-one in SADC and no-one in the AU would tolerate that. So we are stuck, Violet, with each other. We’ve got to find a way to put national interest before self interest which means Mugabe must stop these activities we are seeing in the media where boards are being fraudulently appointed and the issues that are outstanding on the GPA must be fixed and the nonsense on our farms must stop forthwith. In other words, I am saying, yes we have challenges but we must find it within ourselves as Zimbabweans to craft an answer, to craft an understanding, in the short run we have to work together. No-one, Tsvangirai, Mugabe, Mutambara, no-one has a viable Plan B.

GONDA: You know critics of the coalition government also say like what you said earlier on - about commentators who are speaking from outside the country that there’s just too much talk and no action - so you’ve outlined all these problems that you are facing in the coalition government but how are you going to enforce this change? As you said decisions are being made unilaterally by Zanu-PF, how are you going to force Zanu-PF to be fair?

MUTAMBARA: Yah that’s a very good question Violet. I think the starting point is the realisation by all of us that we need each other. It’s a realisation by all of us that no one of the three political parties can run the country on their own at the moment and the only way forward is finding an accommodation among ourselves. I think it’s a mindset we need to build, a mindset that we need to embrace among the three of us. We need to move away from grandstanding and negotiating in the media to serious negotiations quietly and emphasising those areas of agreement, emphasising those elements that unite the Zimbabwean people, emphasising the importance of the common shared value system, the common shared vision of our country. We must find those areas of agreement and amplify them.

Now, how do we get progress? I think we get progress by Number One; understanding that for this government to be credible, Violet, we must implement what we agreed upon. No-one was forced to sign that GPA. We signed that GPA out of our own volition, so when we renege on these agreements and these positions we are undermining the credibility of ourselves as a people; we are undermining the credibility of this government. We are destroying the confidence that people have in this government. How can I convince an investor to come to Zimbabwe when I cannot keep my own agreement with myself? How can I say to an investor, come to Zimbabwe , I will respect my agreement with you when I can’t keep my own agreement with myself?

The starting point is to say the GPA, the Agreement we signed on the 15 th September must be implemented without variation and without equivocation. Secondly we must make sure that the State media becomes a proper public media which is non-partisan, which is above parties. We can’t have the current situation where the Herald and ZBC are used by Zanu-PF to attack former members of the opposition, to attack the Prime Minister, to attack the Minister of Finance and many other people in this government. That is unacceptable. We must be inclusive at every point, we must consult the Prime Minister, consult the President and make sure that the spirit and letter of the Agreement is lived up to. And more importantly, we must quickly work on this new constitution to make sure that the fundamental law in our country is democratic and people driven. And we must work on national healing so that we can say – never again in Zimbabwe should Zimbabweans victimise each other over political affiliation. You can’t question my patriotism because I belong to a different political party. So it is a tough question you are asking me Violet but I think it can be done, it can be solved if we all realise that we need each other. Yes we have differences, yes we might not like each other’s political dispositions but in this arrangement, in this short run, in the penultimate, we are going to sink or swim together.

GONDA: With all due respect, what you are saying is all rhetoric because people already know these things - about the Kariba Draft, how Zanu-PF has said that they will use the Kariba Draft as the reference point and I understand both MDCs are not happy with this and yet this was a unilateral decision made by Zanu-PF. The media reforms, the Boards that you’ve talked about and issues of investor confidence – people already know about these things. So the question is; what are you doing as the principals in this power sharing government? When you sit as the three principals, what do you say to Robert Mugabe when clearly he’s violating the Global Political Agreement?

MUTAMBARA: The starting point is to make sure that he understands in no uncertain terms that he is President of Zimbabwe because of the GPA. Without the GPA he is not President of Zimbabwe. If he understands that, then we can have progress. Now the constitution you refer to, that’s another point of disagreement, a point of conflict. But however we are saying again let’s keep talking, let’s keep discussing and accommodation. The Kariba Draft is just one document; there are many other documents in the country. As we write our constitution we must have a doctrine that says – we the people shall write our own constitution – not we the major political parties. So there must be a way to reaching out to people who are not in government, who are not in the three political parties, there must be a way of reaching out to civic society, to the churches, to the labour movement, to industry.

A constitution by definition is a national consensus document. Everyone in Zimbabwe must respect and buy in to the constitution - that is the desire. We don’t want to win a referendum by 70% or 80% we want a referendum which is won by 99%, by 100% which means we remove the need of a new constitution from our political discourses in campaigns. We must make sure that we find a way of accommodating the three parties, those outside the parties the three of them and those who are in civil society. So I think the disagreements you have outlined on Kariba are correct but they do not mean that we cannot find a way of accommodating each other but more importantly accommodating Zimbabwe . The Kariba Draft can be used for example to unlock areas of disagreement between the three political parties, but Zimbabwe is bigger than the three political parties. Zimbabwe must be given an opportunity to craft a constitution which all Zimbabweans will be able to say this is our constitution – the way the Americans defend their constitution is what we seek to see in our own country.

GONDA: There are some who say the two MDC parties seem to be the only ones who are willing to compromise in this set up. Critics say you seem to be giving this impression that you do not have a plan to get out of this cycle of compromise and appeasement and they ask what happens if the next election result is contested and you have a similar situation like we have today?

MUTAMBARA: So first and foremost you are right on the money in terms of the next election. We must make sure that next election is measurably free and fair. That’s why we emphasise remaining in this arrangement in so far as we can work on levelling the political field because if we don’t solve the challenges around the elections we’ll be back to square one after the next one. So on the elections for example, the question is not when is the next election – that is the wrong question – the question is what kind of election are we going to have next time around and what are we doing to make sure we achieve that type of election.

In terms of compromise – no we are not compromising all the time. For example on the Zimpapers Board, on the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe Board, we have said those are null and void, the Minister was misdirected, the procedure was illegal and a farce. We don’t recognise those structures, we are going to reverse those structures.

On land we don’t want and we don’t endorse the current invasions happening in Conservancies, we don’t endorse the harassment of people in the courts at the moment and we are saying we are taking positions, we might not be effective in terms of getting what we want but we are not going along, we are not taking anything lying down.

We are taking a position of condemning the specification of Meikles for example. You know the individual companies, individuals are being violated, we are taking a position of principle and we are doing so within cabinet, we are doing so within the threesome and so our presence in cabinet, our presence in government is part of the struggle and we are fighting a good struggle. Yes we are not winning all the time but I think that we must keep up the fight and we must not compromise on fundamental matters, more so when it comes to issues that are important in terms of creating a peaceful, prosperous and democratic Zimbabwe .

GONDA: So there has to be some kind of a timeline to this and on the issue of the Media Commission for example, when are the Media Commission appointments going to be formalised?

MUTAMBARA: In fact last week the Prime Minister and the President sat and finalised that Zimbabwe Media Commission. So it’s a question of announcing it now, so the agreement has been struck on the Zimbabwe Media Commission, it’s a question of that being announced. What we are saying must be reversed is this illegal and un-procedural appointment of the Board of Zimpapers and the Board of the BAZ. But the Media Commission Violet has gone through the SROC, gone to the President. The President and the Prime Minister have looked at those things and have agreed. It’s a question of the announcement. But we are not happy about the way the media, the State media is operating in the country, in particular the Herald and the ZBC. We want to make sure the ZBC becomes a proper public broadcaster, not a partisan instrument of propaganda. We want to make sure the Herald becomes a national public newspaper not an instrument of attacking members of the government of national unity. So this is work in progress.

GONDA: But Professor Mutambara, still on the issue of the Media Commission, it’s reported that George Charamba, the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Information and Publicity actually revealed at a media conference in Harare this week that the Media Commission will only be announced or set up when all other commissions like the Anti-corruption Commission, the Human Rights and the Electoral commissions are actually formed, is this correct?

MUTAMBARA: Yah that is not correct and these are the individuals who are damaging the standing of the government by speaking out of turn and by speaking without authority. We do not take that very kindly. He has no authority to speak as he has done and I’ll not dignify him with a response save to say he is not qualified to speak in that way and he is incorrect. He is a civil servant but he is behaving like a political commissar which is a travesty of justice in our country.

GONDA: You say he is not qualified to speak but to a large extent George Charamba has played a huge role in changing certain things that you would have agreed as the three political parties. One of the allegations is that he was one of the people who also helped set up the controversial Media Boards that were announced by the Minister of Information recently.

MUTAMBARA: That’s the point I’m making precisely, I’m not saying that he’s not playing a role, but we are saying that we do not approve of his activities as an inclusive government and as Deputy Prime Minister and as Prime Minister we take a strong exception to these quasi political activities that a civil servant is carrying out. But anyway we will deal with that at the right forum but we don’t approve of those activities.

GONDA: How are you going to deal with that?

MUTAMBARA: Well in cabinet, in the threesome, we got to keep talking, we got to find a way of doing what is right for the country. As I said at the beginning, what is important is for all Zimbabweans and for all the leaders to understand that this is national interest time. This is about Zimbabwe , it’s about how we can salvage our economy, how we can grow our economy and how we can build our democracy. It was never going to be easy. It was a compromise Agreement, it was tilted in favour of Zanu-PF, we’ve said this before, we have said it when we were walking in and so we are not surprised by these challenges but we are saying let us take them in our stride but let us not start contemplating moves that we have not analysed in terms of their consequences. Let us keep working so that we can do the right thing for our people.

Remember we signed the Global Political Agreement to resolve the challenges being faced by our people. We did this for the people of Zimbabwe . We did not do this for ourselves. We did this because of the guidance and advice from SADC and the AU and you cannot succeed in a struggle in Africa without African support so we need to remain within the framework of the SADC and the AU activities and we need to make sure that we do whatever we can to save our people.

GONDA: But when are we going to see movement from SADC?

MUTAMBARA: I think you can check with them to see exactly how they are going to move but you know after the meeting in the DRC, the matter was taken to the Troika. But let me emphasise that we should not be going for grandstanding; we must be going for solutions. We must not be going for scoring points or humiliating each other but rather going for compromise. Compromise is not a bad thing if it’s done on both sides. So I think that even SADC, even the AU as we try to resolve the Zimbabwean situation, let us be more concerned about solutions than grandstanding and scoring points. And I’m sure if we do that at SADC level, at our level in the country we’ll be able to achieve some results.

GONDA: There are some who are saying you are trying to prolong what should be a temporary arrangement and you are saying that the coalition government should run for at least five years. Is this just hearsay?

MUTAMBARA: Yes, no that’s not correct, I’ve never, let me explain my position. My position is very clear and it has been distorted. There’s nothing in the GPA that says the government will run for two years. What it says in the GPA is that we are going to work on a new constitution, once the constitution has been adopted through a referendum we are going to sit down and then say are we ready to go into an election? Now this question is very important by the way. Remember the discussion we had a couple of minutes ago – there’s no point in going into an election which you know is going to be fraudulent, which you know the official losers are going to challenge, which you know is going to be unfree and unfair - because if you do that you are going to go back to where we were on March 29 th last year.

So the discussion we must have in the country is what kind of election are we going to get next time, not when is the next election. We had elections in 2000 that were problematic, in 2002 they were problematic, and I’m being polite by using the word problematic, in 2008 – problematic. Now, so an election in itself is not the answer to our challenges. It is the nature and the calibre of that election, so what we can try and do in this arrangement, in this marriage, is to make sure we work on the quality and calibre of our next election. So meaning that we must be more concerned about the content and character of our next election as opposed to when does it take place.

So what I was emphasising that after the referendum, if we do our referendum in two years and it is adopted, we hope that by those two years we will have done our national healing, recovered our economy, reformed the media, political reforms and our country will be ready for an election. That is the best case scenario – that we are ready for a proper free and fair election in two years time. If we are not ready it would be folly to go through an election like we had in 2008 because we are going to be back to where we were last year. That is the position.

There is no desire, there is no aspiration on my part to extend this arrangement more than is necessary. But I’m a pragmatist and I’m a national leader and leadership is about making unpopular decisions popular. Leadership is about leading from the front. Let us not subject this country to another fraudulent and farcical election – that would be a travesty of justice in our country. Let us be concerned about the quality and calibre of our next election – that is the question.

GONDA: Next week we bring you the concluding interview with the Deputy Prime Minister, where he says he believes targeted sanctions against individuals in ZANU PF should be removed. Should individuals responsible for the murder of hundreds and the torture and displacement of hundreds of thousands be removed from sanctions? Where does the Deputy Prime Minister actually stand as he appears to flip flop from being Mugabe's biggest supporter and then the next minute his harshest critic? Many observers also doubt Mutambara's credibility as a leader, as he was not elected by the people. How will he ever become the people's choice, and does he still believe Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai is a 'political midget?'

Feedback can be sent to

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News media at heart of Zimbabwe's struggle

State pumps shrill propaganda while private papers try to start operations.
By Zimbabwe Correspondent (author cannot be identified because of Zimbabwe's
press restrictions)
Published: October 13, 2009 06:50 ET
HARARE, Zimbabwe - Starved of news, Zimbabweans may soon get a daily
newspaper that for the first time in six years is not owned by the state and
does not portray President Robert Mugabe as a hero.

Since the Mugabe government banned the privately-owned Daily News in 2003,
readers across the country have been treated to a daily diet of government
vitriol aimed mostly at Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan
Tsvangirai and his civic allies.

The news media is at the heart of the struggle to loosen the Mugabe
government's stranglehold on the country and to allow Zimbabwe to achieve a
functioning democracy.

Government-owned papers and the country's state-owned radio and television
stations act as cheerleaders for the president. Their fawning approach to
his disastrous policies has seen readership plummet leaving a door open to
independent competitors.

The state press also acts as an attack dog against the opposition. The tempo
of abuse from the state media has been stepped up since Mugabe was obliged
by regional leaders to form a government of national unity with Tsvangirai a
year ago, following Mugabe's defeat in the first round of presidential

The state-controlled order will be challenged by the new newspaper, NewsDay,
which is set to launch on Nov. 1. Its publisher, Trevor Ncube, already owns
two weekly newspapers, the Zimbabwe Independent and Standard, and one of
South Africa's leading weekly newspapers, the Mail & Guardian.

"NewsDay is being published at a time when Zimbabwe is emerging from almost
a decade of political strife, economic collapse and social distress," Ncube
said recently. "NewsDay's birth in part represents the hope of a tortured
nation and the paper will provide leadership as the country normalizes."

The new paper faces at least one hurdle along the way. It must be approved
by the state licensing body, the Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC), which will
determine whether the new paper, and several others lining up in the
starting blocks, can proceed to publish.

The ZMC is the successor to the notorious Media and Information Commission
which banned the Daily News and held independent newspapers in thrall.

But given the recent selection by parliament of commissioners inclined
towards a free press, the new body is unlikely to follow in the footsteps of
its pro-Mugabe predecessor.

News media at heart of Zimbabwe's struggle
State pumps shrill propaganda while private papers try to start operations.
By Zimbabwe Correspondent (author cannot be identified because of Zimbabwe's
press restrictions)
Published: October 13, 2009 06:50 ET
HARARE, Zimbabwe - Starved of news, Zimbabweans may soon get a daily
newspaper that for the first time in six years is not owned by the state and
does not portray President Robert Mugabe as a hero.

Since the Mugabe government banned the privately-owned Daily News in 2003,
readers across the country have been treated to a daily diet of government
vitriol aimed mostly at Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan
Tsvangirai and his civic allies.

The news media is at the heart of the struggle to loosen the Mugabe
government's stranglehold on the country and to allow Zimbabwe to achieve a
functioning democracy.

Government-owned papers and the country's state-owned radio and television
stations act as cheerleaders for the president. Their fawning approach to
his disastrous policies has seen readership plummet leaving a door open to
independent competitors.

The state press also acts as an attack dog against the opposition. The tempo
of abuse from the state media has been stepped up since Mugabe was obliged
by regional leaders to form a government of national unity with Tsvangirai a
year ago, following Mugabe's defeat in the first round of presidential

The state-controlled order will be challenged by the new newspaper, NewsDay,
which is set to launch on Nov. 1. Its publisher, Trevor Ncube, already owns
two weekly newspapers, the Zimbabwe Independent and Standard, and one of
South Africa's leading weekly newspapers, the Mail & Guardian.

"NewsDay is being published at a time when Zimbabwe is emerging from almost
a decade of political strife, economic collapse and social distress," Ncube
said recently. "NewsDay's birth in part represents the hope of a tortured
nation and the paper will provide leadership as the country normalizes."

The new paper faces at least one hurdle along the way. It must be approved
by the state licensing body, the Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC), which will
determine whether the new paper, and several others lining up in the
starting blocks, can proceed to publish.

The ZMC is the successor to the notorious Media and Information Commission
which banned the Daily News and held independent newspapers in thrall.

But given the recent selection by parliament of commissioners inclined
towards a free press, the new body is unlikely to follow in the footsteps of
its pro-Mugabe predecessor.

The political agreement that established the power-sharing government last
year stipulates that "the public and private media refrain from using
abusive language that may incite hostility, political intolerance and ethnic
hatred or that unfairly undermines political parties and other

That objective remains a long way off, particularly as the state-owned press
persists in hurling abuse at MDC leaders and civic bodies. The state media
has helped to keep Zimbabwe a deeply polarized society.

This week Unesco hosted a meeting of editors in Harare from both the private
and public media. That included editors in exile who are wary of the state's
response to their return.
Officially the government wants externally-based journalists to return and
register with the ZMC. But its media, backed by army generals, continues to
denounce "pirate" radio stations.

National Army Commander, Lt-Gen. Philip Sibanda, told an army seminar last
week that foreign-based radio stations beaming into Zimbabwe were "at war"
with the state and warned his soldiers to remain on guard against such

"Our country is undergoing an asymmetric type of war where all means are
used to achieve set objectives by our detractors," he said. "Zimbabweans
must be aware and clearly understand that war is not only about guns and

The "pirate" radio stations that the army commander rails against, are
simply radio stations based outside Zimbabwe who beam back into the country.
They are forced to do so because the Zimbabwe government does not allow any
independent broadcasters to operate. So the stations set up shop outside
Zimbabwe and beam their newscasts back into the country on shortwave. Their
independent and critical reports have become notably popular with
Zimbabweans and this enrages the Mugabe government, which paints the
external stations as criminals.

Unesco failed to coax a statement from the Minister of Media and
Information, Webster Shamu, assuring returning exiles that they had nothing
to fear by attending the meeting and related workshops. "What must stop,"
Shamu said recently, "is the continuing situation where some parties ...
continue to aid and abet illegal, extraterritorial pirate broadcasts which
violate our sovereignty in the name of media freedoms."

Former editor of the Daily News, Geoff Nyarota who lives in the United
States, has said he would test the water by returning for the Unesco
meeting. But Wilf Mbanga, editor of The Zimbabwean, which publishes abroad
but circulates in Zimbabwe, says he won't return home in the absence of
concrete assurances.
"My own position is that unless and until we get an unequivocal undertaking
from the Zimbabwe government that we will not be detained for whatever
reason, I am not prepared to take the risk of going to Zimbabwe," he said.

While the media debate intensifies, ordinary Zimbabweans want access to news
about events in their own country.

"I just want to know what's happening," said Freddy Tafara, who lives in a
nearby township and like so many of his neighbors gets his news from The
Zimbabwean which is cheap if not always cheerful. "I will happily pay $1 for
a newspaper if it just tells me the truth," he said.

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Thieves raid Youth Forum offices

Dear colleagues,

It is with deep regret and sadness that we inform you of a break-in
that occurred at the Youth Forum offices at the Travel Centre in
Harare’s central business district. The break-in occurred during the
weekend of 9 - 11 October.

The thieves got away with a lot of our office equipment, among them 2
laptop computers, a digital still camera, an HP printer, photocopier,
scanner, fax (all-in-one model), one desktop CPU (central processing
unit), electric heater, numerous electric wall adapters as well as
reams of bond paper, markers and pens. They also got away with CDs
which contained the bulk of the Youth Forum’s backup data storage.

It is disturbing to note that when the Youth Forum attempted to make a
police report the police have been reluctant to act on the case.
Officers at the Eastgate police post which is closest to the offices
indicated that they did not have enough manpower to attend to the
crime, referring us to the First Street police post. The officers from
the First street post were also understaffed and referred us to Harare
Central police station. Up to now the police are yet to visit the
scene of the heinous crime or record any statements.

We would like to appeal to our various stakeholders to bear with us as
we ponder our next move in view of this drawback. We however wish to
stress that the drawback will not retard us from our work of
‘promoting the genuine empowerment and participation’ of youth in the
various facets of life, in particular civic and political

Youth Forum Information and Publicity
3rd Floor Travel Centre
Cnr 3rd Street & Speke Avenue
Harare, Zimbabwe
+263 913 014 693
Fax:+263 710 237
promoting informed participation of youths in national development.

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ZANU PF Abandons Their Own

When I read on the internet yesterday that Mugabe's political party, ZANU
PF, was to turn their backs on persons named in a civil suit by former radio
broadcaster, Jestina Mukoko and others, I have to confess that I laughed out

Mukoko, along with a number of other peaceful campaigners for democracy in
Zimbabwe were abducted and tortured, then held in detention for a number of
months under charges of recruiting bandits for training to then take on the
Mugabe administration.

Apart from being held in detention, the Mugabe regime initially denied any
knowledge of the abduction and then refused to obey court orders to bring
the accused persons before a criminal court.

Sanity prevailed just a couple of weeks ago when the criminal courts in
Zimbabwe ordered a stay of prosecution against Mukoko. It must be borne in
mind that there are still at least 14 MDC activists that are being held by
Mugabe's police force, and nothing has been heard or seen of them in months.

Mukoko was finally released from custody following the court order, her
passport was returned, although the bail money - in America dollars - was
not returned. No reason was offered by the courts for withholding the money.

Mukoko is now suing all and every person behind her months of captivity and
torture - and ZANU PF have decided not to back their people named in the

ZANU PF Abandons Their Own

"A Zimbabwean official says several top officials and cronies of President
Robert Mugabe being sued for torture have been renounced by the state and
will not receive legal assistance.

Deputy Attorney General Prince Machaya told The Associated Press on Sunday
that the state will not represent officials being sued by prominent human
rights activist Jestina Mukoko and eight others.

The activists are seeking US$500 million for wrongful arrest, torture and
abduction after their terror charges were dropped.

The list of defendants includes the security and defence ministers and the
police chief - all Mugabe loyalists."

I wonder whether the abduction and subsequent holding and torture of the
activists were sanctioned by the top office in the country. Mugabe's ZANU PF
party seem all too eager to wash their hands of the entire episode - and
this is typical of Mugabe's rule - by denying they had anything to do with
it, it is then expected that the matter is over.

Perhaps not so in this case.

If ZANU PF has abandoned their own in their hour of need, perhaps there is
something to the serious allegations against the respondents. In the event
that Mukoko & Co. win the case and are awarded substantial restitution, then
it will be the responsibility of the individuals to make that payment.

Not only has ZANU PF denied an affiliation with the defendants, but the
party is broke anyway.

And a civil suit victory for Mukoko & Co could conceivably lead to a
criminal prosecution. On paper at least - the criminal court system in
Zimbabwe is under Mugabe's thumb and he would not allow for his senior
members of government to be arraigned in court.

He did it after the Gukurahundi - before anyone was charged in a criminal
court. From my book "Without Honour":

"In a decree, announced on Independence Day 1988, Mugabe announced an
amnesty for all dissidents. Joshua Nkomo joined him in the call for all
dissidents to lay down their arms, and all people doing so before 31 May
would receive full pardons.

This was extended, not just to dissidents, but to criminals of various types
serving jail terms."

I have no doubt that Mugabe will issue a blanket amnesty for the named
people in the event of intended criminal prosecution, although he has
indicated that he can only declare an amnesty or pardon once the courts have
exhausted their authority.

In Mugabeville, having loyalty to ZANU PF and Mugabe himself does have its

Robb WJ Ellis
The Bearded Man

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From Zim to New Zealand: stateless no more

A second generation expat describes the hard road from Zimbabwe to a new
beginning in New Zealand - and her gratitude to that country.

By Myfanwy van Hoffen
Published: 1:01PM BST 13 Oct 2009

By the time I left Zimbabwe I was devastated, overwhelmed by a sense of huge
loss. First my birthrights had gone - my citizenship, my vote and my
passport. Next my husband, cancer taking its too-early toll. His death left
me vulnerable, a woman alone on a big property, the inevitable target of
thieves and car-jackers, so I had to sell my home.

The proceeds were intended to buy a house in a secure, gated community but
before that could happen meteoric inflation meant it was woefully
insufficient to the task. I had to use the money to pay rent. Next my sons
emigrated to Britain and New Zealand, and finally I lost my mementoes. I had
not bargained on Africa having the last word...

As I was queuing at the airport check-in counter on my way to take up my New
Zealand residence visa, my hand luggage - a leather bag - was stolen from by
my feet. In my bag were my most treasured possessions, among them a
favourite photograph of my husband and a lifetime's collection of jewellery
which I had deliberately put into my hand luggage to keep it safe. Nobody
had seen a thing. After desperately accosting people and trying to find
somebody to help me I realised I would miss the plane if I didn't go

I sat in miserable, defeated heap in the departure lounge weeping
inconsolably. I cried all the way to Auckland and didn't seem to stop, on
and off, for two years. I went into deep mourning for all I had lost and
asked myself repeatedly why I was in New Zealand. I had left the country and
continent into which I was born and loved to the extent Stephen Decatur's
declaration of "my country right or wrong". And of course the wrong was
exactly why I had finally capitulated to my sons' urging to leave Zimbabwe
while I could.

I had landed in a clean, green island country which reminded me of England.
Auckland - the City of Sails - is just that. A rambling city wrapped around
the shore line of the Hauraki gulf. The home my son had found for me was on
the North Shore with a sea view.

None of this cheered me up but I soon came to the conclusion that I could
sink into a deep depression and wither, or pick myself up and start a new
life. So I began the long haul to become a Kiwi - that rare nocturnal bird
after which New Zealanders call themselves.

I joined everything in which I had a remote interest. I learnt to walk into
rooms full of strangers and make new acquaintances. Mostly I was accepted
and appreciated the kindness and genuine concern of New Zealanders. They are
the sort of people who will always cross the road to help you.

Finding a job in my field - journalism and editing - was far harder. I didn't
have the contacts and was up against a lack of New Zealand experience but
eventually I found a job as editor of a tiny community newspaper.

Over the ensuing three years I gradually made my way into Kiwi society.
Zimbabweans are open-housed sort of people and we are accustomed to
entertaining our friends and newcomers in our own homes. This was not the
case with Kiwis until they know you really well and even then it is fairly
uncommon. Hearing from friends who had emigrated elsewhere I gathered that
this is something they experienced in their new countries too.

Now I have a circle of friends: a few ex-Zimbabweans, expats from elsewhere
and some Kiwis. It has taken learning a new vocabulary and pronunciations,
which surprised me because Kiwis (apart from the indigenous Maori)
originated mostly from Britain, as we in Zimbabwe did. We were all
missionaries and adventurous types - in Zimbabwe, gold diggers and in New
Zealand, gum diggers (dug out from the base of kauri trees and exported for
furniture varnish).

After three years of residency I applied for citizenship and, protracted
bureaucratic delays notwithstanding, I was accepted and my inauguration day
was named. We were allowed only two witnesses because this was a big
ceremony in the local town hall and lots of us were being sworn in.

There was a sense of excitement among the queuing would-be citizens and
their observers - name a country and there were undoubtedly representatives
of that country in the line. We were ushered into cinema-row seats and our
friends sent to the back. On the stage were the dignitaries who were to
oversee and bestow our citizenship, led by the town mayor (pronounced "mare"
or "meh" in Kiwi-ese). The applicants in the front rows were supplied with a
Bible (not to be taken home!) and behind them were the people for whom
swearing on the Bible was inappropriate.

Others on the stage were a diminutive lady naval officer, the deputy mayor
and several officials from immigration who organised the proceedings. Once
seated those of us with Bibles were asked to rise and take the oath of
allegiance to the Queen and the country, in chorus. The accents of the
people around me were many and varied. Then the rows behind stood and took
their oaths in a modified form, without Bibles.

We were then summoned row by row to the side of the stage ("take your Bible
with you and leave it on the table where you line-up"). The mayor waited, in
impressive full regalia, centre stage. The deputy mayor, a woman, stood to
the side with a bunch of long stemmed roses, a photographer poised, the
stage party watched and at a table on the far side of the stage the new
citizens collected their certificates. It was all wonderfully efficiently
organised and worked like clockwork.

Unfortunately the official calling the first half of applicants had not
practised the often difficult-to-pronounce names from all parts of the
world. This meant that people waiting for their names frequently did not
recognise them and had to be given a little shove. My own was mangled but as
I was expecting that to happen I was not fazed. The mayor asked where I had
got my name from and, when I said Wales, said he was also of Welsh
extraction. The photographer leapt forward and took a photo of me with the
mayor. I moved on to collect my red rose "to match my outfit" the lady
deputy mayor said, and then collected my citizenship certificate and went
back to my seat. As I sat down a big man seated behind me said
"Gongratulations' in a loud gutteral voice.

Once everybody had their roses and certificates we were asked to rise again
and to sing the national anthem. The words, in English and Maori were
projected on the wall and we sang enthusiastically, if a trifle uncertainly.
A group of Maori came on stage and performed the haka for us. I was a little
bemused by this I had been under the impression that the haka (of rugby
fame) and tongue pulling gesture was a challenge to strangers and I was
puzzled as to why this should be offered to us as new citizens. A quick
Google, and I discovered that the haka has many forms including a welcome
and although it looks the same the difference lies in the wording.

My feelings were overwhelmingly of relief and gratitude that this little
country had provided me with a new beginning. Having had my Zimbabwean
citizenship taken away from me (because my father was born in Britain) -
courtesy of Zimbabwe's president - I was more than a little moved to have a
country to which I now belonged and a nationality that would not be taken
away from me. In short I had a new home. I am a Kiwi and inordinately proud
of that.

Later, having a celebratory drink with my family, my daughter-in-law pulled
out a little Kiwi bird that she wound up and it hopped entertainingly all
over the table. I suddenly felt ridiculously fond of it.

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Positive women's football beats stigma

Photo: IRIN/PlusNews
"People...always express their surprise that members of the team look healthy"
HARARE, 13 October 2009 (PlusNews) - Janet Mpilime, 32, captain of the ARV Swallows, an all-woman football team based in the informal settlement of Epworth, 10km east of the Zimbabwean capital, Harare, has just led her team to a 2-1 victory over Sporting ART.

Wearing a football kit similar to that of Spain's number-one team, Barcelona, and smiling broadly, Mpilime explained that the name ARV Swallows was chosen to help fight stigma against people living with HIV.

ARV is short for antiretroviral, the life-prolonging drugs used to treat people with HIV, while ART stands for antiretroviral treatment. All the women in both teams are positive.

"We come from a very poor neighbourhood which has been hard hit by the effects of HIV/AIDS, but for a long time many people have suffered, endured and died in silence, as they were afraid of declaring that they were HIV positive," she said.

"Following the formation of our team in 2008, many women came out of their shells and we now have more than 20 women who play for the team." ARV Swallows have already won three competitions, and have helped change the perception that people living with HIV are too sickly to participate in sports.

"People in the different communities that we play in always express their surprise that members of the team look healthy," said Mpilime, a single mother of two who tested HIV positive four years ago. "Through football, we have gone a long way in fighting stigma."

Chris Sambo, a veteran football administrator who now coordinates 16 teams of HIV-positive female players in three of Zimbabwe's 10 provinces, came up with the idea of using football to fight HIV-related stigma in 2007.

"Football is the most popular and unifying sport in the world, and I believe that it makes a very good platform for encouraging behavioural change and the fight against the stigmatization of people living with HIV," he told IRIN/PlusNews.

Before and after matches, the women give talks on the effect HIV has had on their lives and how they have overcome hurdles, while peer educators hand out HIV/AIDS information and condoms. Peer educator Fredrick Chitalu, 46, spent much of the match between ARV Swallows and Sporting ART fielding a barrage of questions from inquisitive girls and women.

"These football tournaments are always well attended, and all the literature - and both male and female condoms - run out because people are eager to learn more about HIV and sexually transmitted infections," he said.

Sambo noted that the project had so far failed to recruit enough HIV-positive men to form male teams. "That has been a blow to our efforts; however, the involvement of women and the youth has helped a lot because we now have men making inquiries on how they can participate."

The greatest challenge has been funding. "Because of financial constraints we are not able to play as regularly as we would want. Some companies and banks have given us support, but for a programme as big as this, we would want a lot [more]."

Mpilime said many of the women were experiencing economic hardship. "All our members are not formally employed and we survive by selling fruit and vegetables and firewood. Poverty impacts on our nutrition because we are not able to have a healthy and balanced diet."


[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

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