By Tererai Karimakwenda
29 October 2012
It has been reported that heavily armed police raided the home of Simon
Spooner, the former MDC security adviser and campaign manager for Education
Minister David Coltart.
Spooner’s lawyer, Lizwe Jamila, reportedly said police were looking for
weapons of war and had come with both a search and arrest warrant. But
Spooner was not at home in Bulawayo’s Four Winds suburb at the time.
Our Bulawayo correspondent Lionel Saungweme said Spooner has been under
surveillance for several weeks, but did not know it. It is believed that one
of his domestic workers has been linked to the Central Intelligence
Saungweme said the CIO targeted Spooner because he is close to the MDC-T and
has helped with their campaigns. Spooner is also known to be close to party
President Morgan Tsvangirai.
Our correspondent was not able to contact Spooner, who is well known to
journalists in Bulawayo, having worked with Minister Coltart on his
campaign. Spooner was also one of the people falsely accused and jailed for
the murder of Bulawayo war vet leader Cain Nkala. Charges were later dropped
due to lack of evidence.
“The white community faces a lot of abuse in Zimbabwe. So there is a lot of
paranoia and a lot of fear these days. Spooner is not home and is not
answering his phone. His friends will not speak to the press,” Saungweme
He added that this is not the first time that state agents have raided
Spooner’s home or place of business. According to Saungweme, suspected CIOs
gained entry to his offices in 2009.
We were not able to contact Spooner himself or his lawyer, Lizwe Jamela.
Bulawayo, October 29, 2012 - The Bulawayo home of former Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) security adviser was raided by armed police over the
weekend claiming that they were searching for dangerous weapons.
Spooner is also the former bodyguard of Education Minister and Bulawayo
Senator David Coltart.
“Heavily armed police raided Spooner’s Fourwinds suburb home on Saturday
morning. They said they were looking for dangerous weapons but they couldn’t
find anything. Spooner was not at home at that time but they promised to
arrest him when he is back in town,” Spooner’s lawyer, Lizwe Jamela, of the
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) told Radio VOP.
Jamela added that the police had both arrest and search warrants.
Spooner has been arrested on several occasions especially just few years
after the formation of the MDC in 1999.
In 2002 Spooner together with other MDC activists who include Fletcher
Dulini- Ncube were arrested in connection with the murder of Bulawayo war
veterans’ leader Cain Nkala. He was locked up at a solitary confinement at
Khami Maximum Remand prison only to be released after five weeks due to lack
Bulawayo provincial police spokesperson, Mandlenkosi Moyo, said “he had not
been briefed about the matter.”
Spooner now runs the Zimbabwe Development Democracy Trust (ZDDT) in Bulawayo
that assists disadvantage communities with income generating projects. ZDDT
also educates communities on farming methods.
Last year Spooner said ZDDT projects reduced the food deficit in 55 000
families countrywide after the organisation provided seed packs for the
crops and vegetables to boost its operations. The organisation also donates
clothes to vulnerable children in the city.
By Alex Bell
29 October 2012
ZANU PF legislator Paul Mangwana has insisted he will continue with a US$1
million defamation lawsuit he has filed against the state run ZBC, saying
his integrity has been tarnished.
Guests on a recently aired ZBC programme accused the Chivi Central MP of
selling out to the MDC formations, during a discussion on the constitution
reform process. Mangwana, who is also the ZANU PF co-chair in the
constitution reform process, was described as worse than those who massacred
Zimbabweans at Chimoio and Nyadzonia during the liberation struggle in the
1970s. He was also accused of supporting homosexuality and taking money from
“imperialists to sell out on Zimbabwe’s interests”.
Mangwana has since filed a defamation lawsuit against the ZBC. He told SW
Radio Africa on Monday that he will proceed with the case, because the ZBC
has allowed ‘criminal’ comments to be aired.
“This is recklessness by the ZBC in allowing panellists to use the media as
a means to make unfounded allegations,” Mangwana said.
He added: “The seriousness of the allegations are such that they threaten my
relationship with my party and supporters. It is damaging to my integrity.”
The case has been met with surprise, because the ZBC is usually a pro-ZANU
PF broadcaster. Mangwana insisted that the situation is “not about politics,
“It is unprofessional that the ZBC has acted in this way. If any news media
makes unfounded, defamatory statements about me, I would have the same
reaction. I am acting in the public good,” Mangwana said.
HARARE – October 29, 2012 - The Deputy Sheriff in Harare has attached at
least 15 vehicles from Air Zimbabwe management after the company had failed
to pay some of the retrenched workers their retrenchment packages.
The Deputy Sheriff in Harare on Friday attached property belonging to
embattled national airline, Air Zimbabwe, over salaries owed to retrenched
At least 15 vehicles belonging to senior managers were taken away.
Sources close to the deal disclosed that Air Zimbabwe owed the retrenched
workers about US$163 000 which cannot be written off by the 15 vehicles.
“The deputy sheriff will be coming back tomorrow targeting the company’s
buses and commuter omni-busses to cover the debt,” said a source who
declined to be named.
Air Zimbabwe lawyer Selby Hwacha said he was not aware of the case which
paved way for the execution of the property.
“I am not aware of that case since the only case that I am involved in is
before the Supreme and we are waiting for the judgement,” said Hwacha.
Acting Chief Executive Officer for Air Zimbabwe was not immediately
available for a comment.
PUBLISHED OCTOBER 29, 2012
HARARE - Royal Dutch Airlines KLM on Monday resumed flights between Harare
and Amsterdam, 13 years after it stopped plying the route, the airline said.
KLM will run three weekly flights between Harare and Schiphol airport.
By adding Harare to its destinations, "KLM (now) has a strong network and
position in Africa," its executive vice president for marketing Pieter
Bootsma said in a statement on the airline's website.
Over the past decade international airlines, including Qantas, Air France,
Lufthansa pulled out of Zimbabwe due to dwindling passenger numbers as
tourists were scared off by political violence.
The trial of 29 MDC members facing false murder charges was today postponed
to Wednesday after the trial judge; Justice Chinembiri Bhunu failed to come
to court claiming that he was unwell.
by MDC Information & Publicity Department
The 29 are facing trumped-up charges of murdering a police officer, Petros
Mutedza in Glen View 3, Harare in May 2011.
The trial has been postponed for nearly two weeks now after the State
counsel; Edmore Nyazamba sought a one week leave again claiming that he was
ill. Before today’s postponement, the trial had been adjourned on many
occasions with the State counsel, Nyazamba, the judge, assessors and State
witness giving various reasons and failing to turn up for trial.
Some of the accused have been in remand prison for nearly 18 months. Among
those in remand prison is the MDC Youth Assembly Chairperson, Solomon
Madzore and the MDC National Executive Member, Last Maengahama.
Meanwhile, the bail hearing for the other two MDC members who were arrested
this month on the same charge has been postponed to tomorrow after the State
prosecutor, Nyazamba failed to turn up. The two ; Jackson Mabota and Tarisai
Kusotera are in remand prison at the Harare Central Prison. Their arrests
bring to 31 MDC members who have been incarcerated on the same false murder
The case is being held before Justice Hlekani Mwayera.
One of the accused, Cynthia Manjoro was released from remand two weeks ago
after it was pointed out in court that she was nowhere near Glen View 3
Shopping Centre, where the police officer died.
The State also failed to submit a typed response to the court on why the two
should not be granted bail citing that they did not have adequate personnel
to type reports for court processes.
By Tererai Karimakwenda
29 October 2012
The demolition of over 200 family homes in Epworth, ordered by a
government-owned firm two weeks ago, has led to a Supreme Court case that is
meant to change the law and protect a citizen’s right to housing.
The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) have filed papers representing
six of the families whose homes were bulldozed and who are are homeless.
Lawyer Dzimbabwe Chimbga told SW Radio Africa that their clients were put
through inhuman and degrading treatment by the government, and proper legal
procedure was not followed.
Two weeks ago a government owned company called Sunway City demolished the
homes of the families in Epworth. They were given only 48-hours notice to
vacate the premises and had nowhere to go. Residents admitted they had been
warned by the company. But they allege that local ZANU PF officials told
them to stay because the land belonged to the people through ZANU PF’s
“They demolished their homes without giving these people the right to be
heard. There were also no alternative plans put into place to protect them.
As far as our clients are concerned, they had the right to be there. We are
challenging the government to demonstrate why they had the right to
demolish,” Chimbga said.
He added that they are seeking damages for the six families, worth various
amounts depending on the value of property lost by each family. The ZLHR is
also not charging a fee for their services because the case is considered a
public interest case that could help many other families under similar
“There are so many families that have suffered the same loss and obviously
we can’t take on all their cases. But by doing this one pro-bono we can then
use the case to help so many more who are in the same situation. That’s why
we say this case is in the public interest,” the lawyer explained.
The lawyer explained that cases like this, where families are homeless,
should be dealt with as urgent cases by the courts. But the judicial system
in the country is not functioning as it should and they are still waiting
for a response from the Supreme Court.
By Alex Bell
29 October 2012
An ultimatum handed to sugar producing company Tongaat Hulett, to fall in
line with Zimbabwe’s ‘empowerment orders’, is believed to be part of ZANU PF’s
The South African sugar group was last week given a 14 day deadline to
submit its plans to parcel out more than half of its shareholding, as part
of the ZANU PF led indigenisation exercise. Tongaat Hulett’s sugar
operations in Zimbabwe comprise the wholly owned Triangle Sugar operation as
well as a 50.3% holding in Hippo Valley Estates.
In a letter dated October 23rd and addressed to Triangle, the Ministry of
Indigenisation warned that it was losing patience with the sugar company and
“should we not receive a proper compliant plan within the prescribed period,
ministry and government would take it that shareholders of Triangle are not
interested in continuing to do business in the country.”
The threats against Triangle follow numerous other incidents of ZANU PF
entrenching its members and supporters in Masvingo province, with party
members and officials behind the takeover of property and business ventures
across the region.
It was reported more than a year ago that ZANU PF had started registering
local party members and officials for the alleged allocation of sugar cane
fields in the Triangle and Hippo Valley estates. Then in December last year
ZANU PF aligned war vets took over two lodges that cater to fisherman, and a
small game reserve on the Hippo Valley Estate.
Other ZANU PF officials have also recently been handed over hunting licences
and 25 year land leases for properties in the Save Valley Conservancy, as
part of what the party insists is ‘indigenisation’.
Economic analyst John Robertson told SW Radio Africa on Monday that “the
only purpose (of the indigenisation plans) is to serve the forthcoming
“There is a huge amount of bluster and smoke and dust and mirrors being used
to persuade people that will get something for nothing and they just have to
vote for the right party,” Robertson said.
He added: “There is no other purpose for it. The indigenisation plans as
they stand will be scrapped as soon as we settle up after an election,
whatever happens. The plans will disappear because it is so discouraging to
new investors. There will be no jobs without investment and no investment
while indigenisation demands are made on investors.”
Robertson explained that, economically, the best way for the government to
acquire shares in a stock exchange listed group like Hippo Valley, was to
buy them on the stock market. But he said that the reason why the ZANU PF
led indigenisation ministry is making such threats is because it doesn’t
have the money to buy shares.
“It is unrealistic and unreasonable on part of the government. Nothing will
improve in the management and function of the company in a change of
ownership that is not paid for,” Robertson said.
He added: “There is no useful purpose served by threats and menacing
statements. It will send messages out to any other investor that this is an
extremely hostile investment climate.”
Cape Town - Zimbabwean troops are reportedly terrorising and intimidating
villagers in Gokwe, where they are routinely addressing Zanu-PF campaign
rallies and threatening "war" if the party loses in the forthcoming
According to a NewsDay report, villagers said soldiers were encamped at
Mapfungautsi Plateau, from where they were conducting several rallies at
business centres and schools in the vast farming district.
Zimbabwe National Army spokesperson Colonel Alfios Makotore could not deny
nor confirm the allegations, demanding, however to have the questions in
writing, said the report.
Zanu-PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo, who has repeatedly described state
security sector reforms as a "no-go" area, denied that the party had engaged
soldiers to lead its campaign.
"I have not received such reports. I think there are people pretending to be
soldiers. I don’t think that our soldiers could get that far," Gumbo said.
Heavy military presence
The developments come at a time when military chiefs and Zanu-PF bigwigs
have been repeatedly threatening anarchy if MDC leader Prime Minister Morgan
Tsvangirai wins the next presidential elections that President Robert Mugabe
wants held in March.
MDC spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora confirmed his party had received several
reports of heavy military presence in most parts of the country,
particularly the Midlands, Manicaland, Masvingo and Mashonaland Central and
"The party has received reports that some soldiers are intimidating
villagers and threatening them with war if they do not vote for Zanu-PF in
the forthcoming elections," Mwonzora said.
"That is why we are calling for security sector reforms. We will engage the
international community such as SADC, the African Union and even the United
Nations. That is why we have always said President Mugabe is indicating
left, but turning right. He preaches peace and acts war. He is not bona fide
in his calls for peace."
Eyewitness News | 4 hours ago
ZIMBABWE - A Zimbabwean company was given the go-ahead to sue two private
newspapers for publishing stories about political violence that the firm
claims scared away foreign investors.
Critics said the case, if successful, could have a chilling effect on the
private media, which may think twice about reporting on political violence.
Vakakora Capital is reported to be linked to a prominent Zanu-PF official.
A high court judge ruled that the company can sue NewsDay and the Daily News
over articles on political violence published in May 2011.
Vakakora claims that a Namibian bank cancelled a $250 million loan after
reading the articles, which it said were a misrepresentation of the
situation in Zimbabwe.
Judge November Mtshiya said that the company had a valid claim and may sue
for $50 million.
Media Monitoring Project’s Andy Moyse said Vakakora will have to prove that
the reports in the papers were not true.
MONDAY, 29 OCTOBER 2012
SOME residents in Zimbabwe’s second largest city, Bulawayo have spent eight
years without electricity, it has been reported.
Residents in some sections of Pumula South and Emganwini have gone for over
eight years without electricity, a situation which has led to increased loss
of property to fires as they seek alternative sources of power.
Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA) in a statement last week
urged the power utility, Zesa, to connect power to the suburbs.
“Pumula South (Phase 2) residents have spent more than eight years without
electricity. Some residents even paid towards the erection of poles for
electricity cables more than three years ago, but to date, they still do not
have any power,” BPRA said.
“In Emganwini, residents resettled under the Millennium Housing Scheme have
faced similar challenges to those faced by residents in Pumula South. They
have also gone for over eight years without electricity.”
The residents’ also alleged they have lost property due to fires caused by
candles and paraffin stoves over the years, due to lack of electricity.
“These residents are spending as much as $3 per day on firewood or they opt
to look for firewood in nearby bushes, which is illegal and warrants a fine
from the local authority,” BPRA said.
The residents association added that there is another dimension to the
crisis.“Young girls and women were exposed to sexual abuse in the bushes
while looking for firewood,” said BPRA adding that the power utility was
being discriminatory in its distribution of electricity.
Zesa spokesperson Fullard Gwasira could not be reached for comment.
by Everson Mushava 6 hours 1 minute ago
PRIME Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has disclosed that during negotiations
leading to the signing of the Global Political Agreement in 2008, President
Robert Mugabe unsuccessfully attempted to sneak in a clause granting a
general amnesty to perpetrators of the 2008 election violence to avoid
prosecution of his Zanu PF party militia.
Addressing MDC-T supporters at Chaona business centre in Chiweshe on
Saturday during commemorations for 13 party members killed by suspected Zanu
PF militia at the height of the June 2008 violent presidential runoff
campaign, Tsvangirai said he stood up to Mugabe and blocked his intentions,
insisting that the culprits be brought to trial.
“I told him we will see when we get there,” Tsvangirai said.
Tsvangirai eventually pulled out of the presidential runoff election citing
State-sponsored violence against his supporters, which he claims killed
about 200 and displaced thousands others.
The international community condemned the results of the run- off election
and declined to recognise Mugabe’s victory, leading to the formation of the
inclusive government between Zanu PF and the two MDCs in February 2009.
Zanu PF has spiritedly opposed investigations into past human rights
violations particularly the 2008 bloodbath, 2005’s Operation
Murambatsvina/Clean-Up and the 1980s Gukurahundi massacres, with the
newly-established Human Rights Commission restricted to probe violations
that occurred only after February 23 2009.
Impeccable sources recently told NewsDay that Tsvangirai was, however, now
prepared to offer amnesty to army generals to allow a smooth transfer of
power in the event he wins the next presidential race.
As part of the weekend commemorations, Tsvangirai donated various goodies to
victims and surviving family members of the 13 Chiweshe villagers, six of
whom were allegedly fatally tortured in a single day in May 2008 at a Zanu
PF base, ironically located opposite a church building.
Seven others — four being members of one family — later succumbed to
In his address, Tsvangirai said the commemorations symbolised the MDC-T’s
commitment to a peaceful election and sending a message that such a phase
should never again be allowed to repeat itself in future elections.
“We would want Sadc observers, the African Union and European Union because
we have nothing to fear. We are going to make sure that the next election is
free and fair and we are going to win it,” he said.
“Zanu PF is a party of the past and MDC a party of the future. Zanu PF will
never win a free and fair election. What new things can the party promise to
do which they failed to do in the 32 years the party has been in power?”
He said although the MDC-T had not done enough to address the plight of
victimised supporters, the fighting spirit to remove Zanu PF should spur
them to soldier on until the MDC-T has mastered full control of levers of
“The struggle is for Zimbabwe to free ourselves from the Zanu PF bondage.
The oppressed continue fighting until the oppressor loses grip. This country
has suffered enough. People fought for freedom during the liberation
struggle, but in Zimbabwe, only to be oppressed by our black brothers,” he
He urged Mugabe and his top party officials to commit themselves to a
“Don’t preach peace and act violence,” he said. - NewsDay
by Paradzai Brian Paradza
ZIMBABWE Tourism Authority (ZTA) boss Karikoga Kaseke has conceded that a
new convention centre and planned upgrades at the Vic Falls airport will not
be completed in time for the next year’s United Nations world tourism
The country will jointly host the high profile event with Zambia at the Vic
Falls resort next August but concern has been increasing over the slow pace
of key infrastructure developments which include a new convention centre as
well as a new airport terminal and expanded runway.
However, Kaseke said the two projects were never part of the country’s bid
to host the event which is expected to attract some 4,000 delegates from
across the world.
“The issue of the run way and the convention centre were never part of our
bid to host the event. We never said we were going to build a convention
centre or extend the run way. Victoria Falls airport was not part of our
bid,” he said.
“We never asked for any infrastructural development but we have been told
that the runway will be ready before event but the terminal will not be
The former Permanent Secretary for the Tourism Ministry Sylvester
Mawunganidze was re-assigned after he inadvertently exposed the shambolic
preparations for the event and suggested that Zimbabwe had not been entirely
honest with its bid.
The official told a Parliamentary committee that the government was
struggling to raise funding for various projects including the convention
centre, adding co-operation with co-hosts Zambia was also far from ideal.
"When we went to bid for the hosting of the event, we were competing with
big nations and wanted to win so we went with pictorial evidence which was
exaggerated,” he said.
“That worked and we won but now reality is creeping in and time is no longer
on our side. We have to meet the standards presented."
But Kaseke said a new convention was never part of the bid adding
preparations for the event were on course.
“Mawunganidze did not write the bid, I wrote the bid. It is me who wrote the
bid. It is important to have the issue of the airport addressed but it was
not part of the bid,” he said.
Government officials say winning the bid to host the event signals the
turnaround of the country’s tourism sector after a decade-long of decline.
Tourism arrivals are this year said to be up 19 percent with countries such
as China becoming a key source market for the sector.
by Staff Reporter
MDC-T leader and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai assured supporters Sunday
that fresh elections expected next year would be “free and fair” adding he
was confident of finally end President Robert Mugabe’s lengthy hold on
Mugabe recently revealed that elections to end the coalition government
would be held in March but the MDC-T says conditions are not in place for a
credible ballot and has been pressing for full implementation of political
reforms agreed under the GPA deal.
However, speaking an event to remember victims of political violence in
Chiweshe Sunday, Tsvangirai said assured supporters said measures would be
taken to ensure the election outcome was not disputed.
“We will make sure that the next elections are free and fair and we are
going to win it. We would want SADC observers, African Union and European
Union because we have nothing to fear or hide,” he said.
“We are going to make sure that the next election is free and fair and we
are going to win it. If Mugabe wins, I should be able to congratulate him
and the same should happen if I win.”
Mugabe has ruled Zimbabwe since independence in 1980 but Tsvangirai said
that is certain to end next year.
“Zanu PF will never win a free and fair election. Zanu PF is a party of the
past and MDC-T a party of the future. The struggle is for Zimbabwe to free
ourselves from the Zanu PF bondage,” he said.
“The oppressed continue fighting until the oppressor loses grip. This
country has suffered enough. People fought for freedom during the liberation
struggle but in Zimbabwe, only to turn from being oppressed by our black
Tsvangirai won the first round of the Presidential ballot in 2008 but pulled
out of the run-off after accusing Mugabe of brutalising his supporters.
The two leaders have repeatedly called on their supporters to refrain from
violence in the period leading up to the new polls but Tsvangirai said his
rival had been making half-hearted appeals.
“Mugabe should not preach peace and act violence,” he said.
The MDC-T claims 14 of its members were killed when a Zanu PF militia
attacked its supporters at Chaona Business Centre in Chiweshe after the 2008
The party said the 14 were part of some 500 supporters killed in clashes
around the country at the time.
“In 2009, the MDC submitted a list to the Attorney General and the Police
Commissioner General, Augustine Chihuri with the list of the perpetrators of
violence but no arrest and prosecution have been made up to now,” the party
said in a statement.
29th October 2012
Over the weekend ZANU PF said a team of its top officials had returned from
China where they had observed how the ‘Chinese Communist Party goes about
winning its elections.’
ZANU PF official Amos Midzi said the team’s visit to China was an
eye-opener. He told the Sunday Mail that one of the lessons they brought
back was that indiscipline within the party must be punished.
China of course doesn’t ‘win’ elections, it manipulates then. So ZANU PF
were presumably there hoping to pick up a few new tips.
This year the Communist party picked 2,270 delegates to attend the 18th
party congress at which the new standing committee members are to be
anointed. Party officials said it was the most “democratic” process in its
history. But of course the result of the election will not be left to any
kind of chance and was decided in advance. In August the communist party
leaders retired to their favourite seaside resort and finalised the
selection process. It will culminate in a number of men applauding
themselves as they stand on the stage of the Great Hall of the People.
It’s all so organised the new leaders won’t even have to worry about coming
up with their own policies. Those were laid out for them in the five-year
plan for 2011-2015, approved last year.
Last Friday the Chinese and English language versions of the New Work Times
website was blocked by the Chinese government because of a report that
detailed the obscene personal wealth – estimated at US$2.7 Billion – of the
current premier’s family. Wen Jiabao’s family’s investments cover many
different sections of China’s economy, from an insurance giant that
benefited from reforms in 2004 to a company specialising in wastewater
treatment and the disposal of medical waste that received US$30 million in
grants following tougher regulations brought in by Mr. Wen himself,
following the SARS outbreak.
So it looks as though ZANU PF don’t really have too much to learn. All the
ruling party chefs already have huge wealth that they have gained in a less
than honest way and they have over 30 years experience at rigging elections.
They don’t even have to learn how to block independent news. They already
have Chinese help and equipment in blocking the broadcasts of SW Radio
Perhaps the Chinese trip was just for shopping?
Cape Town - Zimbabwe's Energy and Power Development Minister Elton Mangoma
has branded President Robert Mugabe as "cruel" for the "incessant arrests
and beatings [of opposition supporters] under the pretext of maintaining
order and applying the rule of law" in the country.
Mangoma - who is also MDC deputy treasurer-general - was addressing the
families of 31 Glen View activists who are in remand prison for the murder
of a policeman in May last year, The Zimbabwe Mail reported on Monday.
"Mugabe holds the key to violence and peace... If he tells his people to
stop violence they will obey," he said.
"This was evidenced by the peace that prevailed at the just ended Copac
second All-Stakeholders’ Conference that his word is law.
"There was no violence because Mugabe ordered them to peace. If he lets
loose then you all know it will be mayhem."
Mangoma claimed there was selective application of the law, and that was the
reason why the activists were being denied bail.
"Mugabe is cruel and shows this by incessant arrests and beatings under the
pretext of maintaining order and applying the rule of law.
"But what kind of law separates these people accused of Petros Mutedza’s
murder; while on the other hand a policeman accused of killing a gold panner
in Shamva is out on bail?
"We have a colleague who was murdered in Mutoko, but the killers are walking
"Mugabe’s message is simple, he is saying everybody else stay away from
politics except on a Zanu-PF ticket," said Mangoma.
on October 29, 2012 at 4:01 am
By Tendai Valentine Ruombwa
Rusape – Villagers in Makoni are living in fear of losing their cash and
cattle after a group of self – styled traditional healers called Dombodvuku
invaded the area in a witch hunt to allegedly cleanse the area of bad omens
In exchange for this ‘cleansing’ exercise the Dombodvuku traditional healers
are demanding cattle, goats and money from the poverty stricken villagers.
Every villager is being forced to attend and pay for the ceremonies.
Villagers are being asked to pay with a cow or goat depending on the spirits
removed. Headman Boat Murahwa (68) said the N’anga’s were not invited into
the area but have caused lots of harm with many families in a war of words.
“They came here and forced everyone to their sect even members of Apostolic
sects who do not tolerate their practice. Anyone who objected was threatened
that bad omens would befall them and a peg was sunk at his or her home.”
The N’anga’s are said to have amassed a lot of wealth and bought flashy cars
since they came into the area. Sekuru Abel Nyabadza (70) bemoaned the lack
of government intervention saying villagers were being exploited:
“These people (traditional healers) came with nothing but now they have a
fleet of cars they are taking our cattle and selling them at cheap prices.
The government should intervene.
One of the traditional healers only identified as Sekuru Shoriwa said “we
were called by the spirits of the land to cleanse the area. We do not seek
any permission except informing the chief of our intentions.”
However members of the community accuse the traditional healers of making a
living through unorthodox means:
“These are hooligans doing anything to bring bread and butter on their
tables; It’s shocking that they are all in their early thirties and I don’t
understand how someone that young could be a spirit medium” queried one
Manicaland provincial information officer Josphat Manzini said they are
still looking into the matter and that “it’s a cultural issue and a lot is
at stake I cannot comment at the moment as we are still carrying out
Roman Catholic Father Fedelis Makoni of St Killians Mission told Nehanda
Radio “they should respect other peoples way of life, we worship a living
God and there is no way they should drag everyone to their cleansing
“A decade ago Gaurani came and did the same exploiting the poor people in
the pretence of removing bad omen. Efforts to get a comment from the
Zimbabwe National Traditional Healers Association (Zinatha) were fruitless.
SCIENTISTS have come up with a test for the virus that causes AIDS that is
ten times more sensitive and a fraction of the cost of existing methods,
offering the promise of better diagnosis and treatment in the developing
The test uses nanotechnology to give a result that can be seen with the
naked eye by turning a sample red or blue, according to research from
scientists at Imperial College in London published in the journal Nature
"Our approach affords for improved sensitivity, does not require
sophisticated instrumentation and it is ten times cheaper," Molly Stevens,
who led the research, told Reuters.
Simple and quick HIV tests that analyse saliva already exist but they can
only pick up the virus when it reaches relatively high concentrations in the
"We would be able to detect infection even in those cases where previous
methods, such as the saliva test, were rendering a 'false negative' because
the viral load was too low to be detected," she said.
The test could also be reconfigured to detect other diseases, such as
sepsis, Leishmaniasis, Tuberculosis and malaria, Stevens said.
Testing is not only crucial in picking up the HIV virus early but also for
monitoring the effectiveness of treatments.
"Unfortunately, the existing gold standard detection methods can be too
expensive to be implemented in parts of the world where resources are
scarce," Stevens said.
According to 2010 data from the World Health Organisation, about 23 million
people living with HIV are in Sub-Saharan Africa out of a worldwide total of
The virus is also spreading faster and killing more people in this part of
the world. Sub-Saharan Arica accounted for 1.9 million new cases out of a
global total of 2.7 million in the same year, and 1.2 million out of the 1.8
The new sensor works by testing serum, a clear watery fluid derived from
blood samples, in a disposable container for the presence of an HIV
biomarker called p24.
If p24 is present, even in minute concentrations, it causes the tiny gold
nanoparticles to clump together in an irregular pattern that turns the
solution blue. A negative result separates them into ball shapes that
generate a red colour.
The researchers also used the test to pick up the biomarker for Prostate
Cancer called Prostate Specific Antigen, which was the target of previous
work that Stevens did with collaborators at University of Vigo in Spain.
That sensor used tiny gold stars laden with antibodies that latched onto the
marker in a sample and produced a silver coating that could be detected with
Stevens and her collaborator on the new test, Roberto de la Rica, said they
plan to approach not-for-profit global health organisations to help them
manufacture and distribute the new sensor in low income countries
Mon, 29 Oct 2012 11:10 GMT
By Madalitso Mwando
BULAWAYO, Zimbabwe (AlertNet) – As planting season approaches amid concerns about successive poor harvests, research into drought-resistant seeds is gaining momentum in an indication that the Zimbabwean government is waking up to the reality of climate change.
Earlier this month, the country’s Meteorological Services Department announced that another drought is likely during what should be the rainy season.
Zimbabwean farmers have suffered a succession of poor harvests with yields far below what the country needs, forcing the agriculture ministry repeatedly to revise its projections for harvests.
Farmers and their unions blame the cyclical uncertainties of their sector not only on a lack of up-to-date farming technology, but also on their inability to obtain seed varieties that can survive the low rainfall caused by climatic shifts.
Despite erratic rainfall, farmers have continued to follow traditional planting seasons. This has increased their frustration as crops wilt from lack of rain.
But this could soon change, thanks to progress by government scientists researching faster-maturing and drought-tolerant seed varieties, holding out the hope of much-needed relief for thousands of farmers across the country.
The Scientific and Industrial Research and Development Centre (SIRDC), in partnership with the University of Zimbabwe and Biotechnology Research Institute (BRI) has developed a drought-resistant variety of maize seed called Sirdamaize 113.
Farmers have had to wait between 150 and 180 days before harvesting their traditional maize crop, but the centre says the new seed takes only 136 days to mature.
Thomas Ndlovu, a smallholder farmer in Nyamandlovu, some 60 km (38 miles) from Bulawayo, said the new seed was welcome news, as he has lost his crop because of successive poor rains.
‘THIS IS WHAT WE ASKED FOR’
“This is what we have always asked for,” Ndlovu said. “My only hope is that this seed variety is affordable to us. We have for some time now been buying seed maize outside the country because the locally produced type is expensive.”
SIRDC says research into drought-resistant maize began more than a decade ago and has cost around $200,000. The centre’s current research forms part of a policy on food and nutrition security adopted by government early this year.
Already, more maize hybrids are being tested across the country as farmers prepare for the planting season.
This fresh commitment to scientific research could just a significant help in a country where smallholder farmers, who produce up to 70 percent of the country’s food, continue to face severe challenges from lack of farming inputs, absence of irrigation schemes and poor weather-forecasting techniques.
The research comes against the backdrop of announcements by the agriculture ministry that farmers will not meet the country’s grain needs again this year. Zimbabwe’s Vulnerability Assessment Committee Survey for 2012 estimates that close to 2 million people currently need food assistance.
Dexter Savadye, director of BRI, describes Sirdamaize 113 as a response to threats to the country’s food security.
“Zimbabwe has been experiencing a cycle of droughts and this has spurred the need for research in new maize varieties,” Savadye said.
Gugulethu Ndlovu of the Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union welcomed the possibility of improved crop yields.
“We have always said that the country needs fresh approaches to respond to low rainfall and food insecurity,” he said
“If the country does not invest in research and development, we are likely to complain about the same things each planting season,” added Ndlovu (who is not related to farmer Thomas Ndlovu).
REACH TO REMOTE AREAS?
“What must be done now is to make this (new maize seed variety) available to the most remote parts of the country, not (only to) benefit famers who already can afford expensive irrigation schemes.”
SIRDC is also carrying out research into mushroom farming as Zimbabwe ups its efforts to restore its position as one of southern Africa’s major food producers.
According to SIRDC, the mushroom project aims to develop high-quality oyster mushroom spawn for sale to growers, as well as spawn from indigenous edible mushrooms.
Meanwhile, the agriculture ministry’s Cotton Research Institute (CRI) is testing a new cotton seed which it says is expected to boost farmers’ yields.
Cotton, Zimbabwe’s second largest cash crop after tobacco, has also taken a knock in the past few years due to low rainfall, hurting farmers who abandoned maize production for it as cotton became the favoured cash crop.
Madalitso Mwando is a journalist based in Harare, Zimbabwe.