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Mugabe given another six months to call by-elections

By Alex Bell
02 October 2012

A Zimbabwean has court given Robert Mugabe another six months to call for
by-elections, after the ZANU PF leader sought an extension on the deadline
to set an election date.

Judge President Justice George Chiweshe passed down the decision late on
Tuesday evening.

Mugabe was in August granted an extension on the original court ordered
deadline to call for the by-elections. That deadline was Monday.

But Mugabe’s legal team last week filed another court application seeking
more time, using Mugabe’s plans to hold general elections next March as the
justification for another delay. According to the court papers, Mugabe plans
to hold harmonised general elections in March following a constitutional
referendum next month.

The case goes back to last October when MPs Abednico Bhebhe, Njabuliso Mguni
and Norman Mpofu were fired as MPs for Nkayi South, Lupane East and Bulilima
East by the Welshman Ncube-led MDC. This followed accusations that they were
siding with the MDC led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.

The MPs then petitioned the High Court to direct the Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission (ZEC), its chief elections officer Lovemore Sekeramayi and Mugabe
to facilitate the by-elections. The matter was presided over by Justice
Nicholas Ndou last year who ordered the by-election process to begin without
delay. Ndou dismissed the case against ZEC and Sekeremayi, but upheld the
case against Mugabe, ruling that according to the Constitution Mugabe had
the power to call for the constituency elections.

The decision was appealed with the Mugabe legal team insisting there isn’t
money to have by-elections in all the constituencies where there is a
vacancy. The recent death of MDC-T Senator Josiah Rimbi from the Chipinge
constituency has raised the total number of constituency vacancies to 39,
with Parliamentary seat vacancies now at 27.

At the same time, more than a 160 local authority seats are reportedly
empty. Observers have said that if Mugabe does call for by-elections to
cover all theses vacancies, this would amount to a mini general election.

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Mashonaland farmers face eviction after ZANU PF order

By Alex Bell
02 October 2012

A group of farmers in the Mashonaland Central province face imminent
eviction from their land, after an order from a ZANU PF led committee to
vacate their properties this week.

The chairperson of the provincial lands committee, ZANU PF’s Martin Dinha,
handed down the order on Monday. He said that a team of police officers,
district administrators and other government officials would be dispatched
to the farms on Tuesday to pressure the white farmers to wind up their
operations and leave. The farms have been earmarked for seizure under the
land grab campaign that a regional human rights court said is unlawful.

Charles Taffs, the President of the Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) expressed
concern for the fate of the farmers, saying such actions “undermine the
agricultural sector.”

“This is a biased and racist campaign and it is of huge concern, especially
since the country is starving. These farmers were farming in good faith and
had started irrigating,” Taffs explained.

ZANU PF’s Dinha is also part of the Zimbabwean legal team that has been
fighting against a landmark ruling in a South African court, which has
upheld the regional ruling in Zimbabwe’s land grab. The Supreme Court of
Appeal in South Africa last month dismissed an appeal lodged by the Zim
government against the court decision, which ordered the compensation of
some farmers who lost land in Zimbabwe.

Taffs told SW Radio Africa that this court decision could likely have
triggered the latest threats against the remaining white farmers in
Zimbabwe, explaining that “every time we do something like this, there is a
counter measure by the government.”

The order from Dinha followed a similar, country wide directive from the
Attorney General Johannes Tomana last month. Tomana said that all farmers
who were “resisting” eviction must be arrested.

Taffs explained that another likely cause of this fresh campaign against the
farmers is the fact that the country is once again headed towards elections.

“White farmers always bear the brunt of things when we head towards
elections. And it’s already happening across the country,” Taffs warned.

Meanwhile, a group of Dutch farmers who lost land in Zimbabwe have stepped
up their campaign to force the Zim government to compensate them for their
seized land. The farmers, who were meant to be protected by a bilateral
investment protection agreement with Zimbabwe, were evicted from their farms
at the height of the land grab between 2000 and 2002.

The group of farmers took their case to the International Centre for the
Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), which ruled in their favour in
2009 and ordered Zimbabwe to pay them 8.8 million euros compensation, with
an additional 10% interest for every year since the farms were seized. Under
this court decision they are now entitled to more than 23 million euros.

The Netherlands has since been pressuring Zimbabwe to make a payment plan
and earlier this year, Finance Minister Tendai Biti promised to submit a
proposal. But he has failed to do so.

“We wanted to take action earlier, but decided to wait for Biti’s proposal,”
the group’s chairman Lion Benjamins told a Dutch daily newspaper, adding:
“But now we’re sick of waiting, so have decided to take steps to show
Zimbabwe we’re serious.”

The group has launched the website Justice Zimbabwe and is lobbying European
parliamentarians to ensure that the EU refuses to lift its targeted
sanctions on Zimbabwe until the compensation is paid.

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Dutch farmers demand US$23m compensation

02/10/2012 00:00:00
by Radio Netherlands

A GROUP of Dutch farmers who were forced off their land in Zimbabwe has
launched a campaign to force the government to pay them compensation.

The group lost their land between 2000 and 2002 when Zimbabwe embarked on
controversial land reforms. They did not receive any compensation which the
group claimed was a violation of the Investment Protection Agreement (IBO)
which the Netherlands had made with Zimbabwe.

They took their case to the International Centre for the Settlement of
Investment Disputes (ICSID), a Washington-based court which operates under
the aegis of the World Bank. The ICSID ruled in their favour in 2009 and
ordered Zimbabwe to pay them 8.8 million euros compensation, to be increased
by 10 percent for each year since the land grab.

The group are now entitled to a sum of more 23 million euros and the Dutch
government has has been pressuring Zimbabwe over the past two years to
fulfil its international obligations with a special envoy appointed in 2010
who having travelled regularly to Zimbabwe to negotiate with local

Earlier this year, Finance Minister Tendai Biti promised to put forward a
payment proposal. So far he has not honoured this promise despite being
asked to do so in a letter from the Dutch Foreign Minister in August.

“We wanted to take action earlier, but decided to wait for Biti’s proposal,”
the group’s chairman Lion Benjamins told a Dutch daily. “But now we’re sick
of waiting, so have decided to take steps to show Zimbabwe we’re serious.”

The group is lobbying European parliamentarians to ensure that the EU refuse
to lift its sanctions on Zimbabwe until the compensation is paid. They also
hope to persuade the Dutch government to use its right of veto if Zimbabwe
asks the Paris Club for debt relief.

The Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs says it supports the farmers but is
“not in a position to take over the payment”.

The group is also active in the UK, lobbying the government to release
frozen Mugabe assets in order to pay the compensation.

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Amnesty Urges Zimbabwe to Save Murambatsvina Victims

Violet Gonda

Amnesty International says Zimbabwe’s unity government should cater for the
needs of thousands of victims of the 2005 Operation Murambatsvina who are
currently living in squalid conditions.

Officially marking World Habitat Day in the country’s second largest city,
Bulawayo, a top Amnesty official said most of the victims of the massive
operation are living in makeshift homes such as Ngozi Mine compound in the
city’s Richmond suburb and Killarney squatter camp.

Amnesty International Zimbabwe researcher Simeon Mawanza said affordable and
adequate housing should be a priority for everyone and therefore the
government should respond to the needs of the victims of the 2005 clean up

“In terms of protection of human rights governments are not expected to make
excuses. They have to be seen to be demonstrating that they are using the
resources that they have to ensure that everybody’s standard of living
improves, including protection of economic, social and cultural rights,”
said Mawanza.

Precious Shumba of the Harare Residents Trust told VOA Studio 7 the
government is unwilling to commit itself to the provision of houses for
local people resulting in serious shortages of appropriate shelter.

Shumba said: “Unfortunately the (Harare) city council and the government
have not invested in developing land or housing development instead they
have left this responsibility to cooperatives which are also being hindered
by rampant corruption.”

At least 700,000 Murambatsvina victims lost their homes and informal
businesses nationwide as some of them dumped in places like Hopely Farm
outside Harare.

Some have been lucky to get houses under Operation Garikai of Hlalani Kahle
which was crafted to resettle displaced victims. The majority are still
homeless after failing to access so-called state-funded housing schemes in
towns and cities.

The United Nations has designated the first Monday of October every year as
World Habitat Day. The idea is to reflect on the state of towns and cities
and the basic right of all - adequate shelter. It is also intended to remind
the world of its collective responsibility for the future of the human

This year the United Nations chose the theme ‘Changing Cities, Building
Opportunities’ noting that towns and cities are the engines of growth.

Under this theme, UN-Habitat wants to underscore the need to properly plan
urban settlements in order to avoid chaotic development.

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Mugabe, Tsvangirai: Zimbabwe to Rush Drafting New Constitution

Jonga Kandemiiri

Zimbabwe's top political leaders met in Harare Monday in their weekly
principals’ meeting and tasked Constitution and Parliamentary Affairs
Minister Eric Matinenga to work closely with the Constitution Parliamentary
Select Committee (COPAC) to ensure the process towards the Second
All-Stakeholders’ Conference is speeded up.

President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai also agreed to
closely monitor progress being made by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission in
preparing for general elections likely to be held next year.

The two noted that there is need to discuss the nation's voters roll which
is in a shambles as it features names of deceased and non-existent people.

Matinenga is expected sometime this week to brief the leaders on the
constitution-making process which has been mired in controversy with the
ruling parties fighting over key contents of the draft constitution.

The COPAC draft charter was agreed by the three parties in the unity
government though President Mugabe's Zanu PF party made a u-turn and
criticized some of its contents including a provision that limits the power
of the president.

The parties have now agreed to hold a stakeholders indaba late October which
will be closely followed by a referendum.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission was quoted last weekend as saying the
country does not have the necessary conditions for holding a free and fair

Industry Minister and leader of the other Movement for Democratic Change
formation, Professor Welshman Ncube, did not attend Monday’s meeting as he
was said to be in the country's second largest city, Bulawayo.

Tsvangirai spokesman Luke Tamborinyoka said the two leaders also discussed
the swearing-in of Morgan Komichi as deputy transport minister, a position
left vacant following the recent death of Tichaona Mudzingwa.

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Mugabe backs down

Tuesday, 02 October 2012 10:50

HARARE - President Robert Mugabe yesterday bowed to his coalition partners’
pressure and agreed to a series of reforms including on the
constitution-making process.

Mugabe reportedly acceded to four key issues that had escalated tensions in
the troubled coalition government.

Mugabe’s climbdown came in a Principals meeting held yesterday in Harare.

It came hot on the heels of a rebellion by coalition partners Prime Minister
Morgan Tsvangirai, his deputy Arthur Mutambara and Welshman Ncube, who were
expressing exasperation at the slow pace of reforms.

The Daily News heard that Mugabe also finally agreed to set a date for the
official ceremonial opening of the next session of the present Parliament —
its fifth and final session.

Mugabe had left Parliament in limbo after failing to proclaim the end of the
fourth session. The fourth session was supposed to end on 24 July after
which Mugabe would have opened a new session.

The Daily News heard that Mugabe agreed in the Principals’ meeting to
deliver his speech soon to parliamentarians opening the new fifth session.

After the official opening, Members of the House of Assembly and senators
will likely forego the customary adjournment and delve straight into the
President’s outline of the government’s plans for the new session.

Mugabe’s failure to prorogue the legislature had forced Parliament to sit on
an ad- hoc basis.

Several Bills on the order paper had been stymied, including the National
Incomes and Pricing Commission Amendment Bill, two Private Member’s Bills–
the Urban Councils Amendment Bill and the Criminal Procedure and Evidence
Amendment Bill meant to repeal the now infamous section 121(3) of the
principal Act.

The Securities Amendment Bill and the Microfinance Bill are also scheduled
to be tabled during the forthcoming session.

During the current session, only five Bills were passed: the Electoral
Amendment Bill, the Zimbabwe Human Rights Bill, the Older Persons Bill,
Finance Bill (2012) and Appropriation Bill (2012).

But Mugabe is yet to sign into law the crucial Electoral Amendment Bill and
the Zimbabwe Human Rights Bill passed on August 19.

Nine weeks on, both bills have still not been gazetted by the President as
Acts of Parliament.

There are mounting fears that without institutional reforms, Zimbabwe’s
forthcoming election, due by June next year, might be no different from the
violent 2008 polls that claimed over 200 lives.

The principals’ meeting also agreed that preparations for the second
all-stakeholders’ conference scheduled before the end of October be

Luke Tamborinyoka, the PM’s spokesperson told the Daily News: “The
principals agreed that the minister of Parliamentary and Constitutional
Affairs minister (Eric) Matinenga will be the government point person who
will be working with Copac (Constitutional Parliamentary Committee) to see
to it that the second-all stakeholders’ conference is expeditiously

Tamborinyoka said Mugabe had also agreed to swear-in Morgen Komichi,
Tsvangirai’s pick for deputy minister of Transport and Infrastructure

Mugabe had delayed the swearing-in of Komichi to fill the vacancy created
following the death of Tichaona Mudzingwa in April this year. Only Mugabe,
as the head of state, has powers to swear-in government ministers.

“We expect him to be sworn-in soon,” Tamborinyoka said.

The principals also agreed to meet with leaders of constitutional
commissions created by the inclusive government; especially the Zimbabwe
Electoral Commission (Zec) headed by Simpson Mutambanengwe, a former
Zimbabwean Supreme Court judge who was serving as acting Chief Justice in
the Namibian Supreme Court.

“Principals hope to have meetings with the commissions, especially Zec,
basically to discuss preparedness for elections and what they need and
require so that the principals will be able to determine when the next
elections could be held,” Tamborinyoka said.

The principals were also keen to talk to leaders of a state-appointed media
commission that has disciplinary powers to withdraw journalists' licenses
and confiscate equipment.

The commission, mandated with driving media reforms, has licensed several
private newspapers, including the Daily News which was shut-down in 2003 and
returned to news stalls in 2011.

“The principals want to look at how far they have gone in assisting the
process of media reform which is a key reform that needs to be implemented
ahead of elections as well as looking at how far they have gone in dealing
with the issue of hate speech,” Tamborinyoka said. - Gift Phiri

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Three MDC-T members hospitalized after ZANU PF attack in Gweru

By Tererai Karimakwenda
02 October 2012

Three MDC-T supporters, who were attacked by ZANU PF thugs as they travelled
to the party’s 13th Anniversary celebrations on Saturday, are reported to be
receiving treatment at Mpilo General Hospital.

One other MDC-T member was arrested for taking pictures of police at a

SW Radio Africa correspondent, Lionel Saungweme, said a delegation of MDC-T
officials from Mashonaland West were ambushed by ZANU PF thugs at Shangani
Business Centre in Gweru, Matabeleland North, around 4:30 in the morning on
Saturday. They were headed to White City Stadium for the party’s anniversary

“They were surprised when lots of stones started raining onto the bus from
all directions and hitting them. At least three were injured seriously and
taken to hospital. MDC-T President Morgan Tsvangirai and his wife Elizabeth
are reported to have visited them,” Saungweme said.

The hospitalized MDC-T members include one identified as Darlington Serewu,
who was “severely injured” according to the MDC-T. Another injured party
member, Trust Shayanewako, was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit. Other
MDC-T members were treated and released.

According to Saungweme, the MP for Insiza North, Andrew Langa, has been
implicated in the attack on MDC-T members at Shangani.

“Langa is very notorious in Insiza where he works with a group of ex-ZANLA
war vets known to be violent. It has been alleged he coordinated the
attack,” Saungweme explained.

MP Langa gained a reputation when he shot an MDC member inside a police
station in Insiza, during the 2008 election campaign. Saungweme said he has
close ties to ZANU PF heavyweight, Emmerson Mnangagwa, and operates with

In a separate incident, an MDC-T member was victimized by police on the same
morning of the Shangani attacks, when he took pictures of a police manned
roadblock. Saunhgweme said the MDC-T member, named Silas Mutero was arrested
at Fairbridge, in Mguza district outside Bulawayo and his pictures were

“They also took his phone and when they looked through it they found some
images that they alleged to be illegal. It is not clear what Mutero is being
charged with, but he is still in detention in Bulawayo,” Saungweme said.

Meanhwile, addressing the press in Gweru, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s
spokesperson Luke Tamborinyoka said the country cannot hold any election
without finding lasting solutions to the problem of political violence. He
said the incidents are a sign of what to expect ahead of elections due next

The MDC-T celebrated their 13th anniversary at a rally in Bulawayo on
Saturday, where party President Morgan Tsvangirai, introduced his new wife
Elizabeth Macheka. In his address, Tsvangirai assured supporters that they
would not participate in any elections if key reforms are not implemented

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Glen View cop murder trial postponed

By Tererai Karimakwenda
02 October 2012

The trial of 29 MDC-T members, facing charges of murdering a policeman in
Glen View last year, has been postponed until next week following an
application for leave by the defence team.

Clifford Hlatywayo, spokesperson for the MDC-T Youth Assembly, told SW Radio
Africa that Justice Chinembiri Bhunu said Tuesday that the trial will
continue on October 8th, so he can have time off to deal with the issue of
bail for the jailed activists.

Justice Bhunu had reserved judgement in a fresh bail hearing for the 29
accused last month, launched after new evidence was introduced by the
defence. At the time, he did not indicate when the High Court decision would
be handed down, claiming he was loaded with work.

Hlatywayo said: “The excuse used by Bhunu not to give judgement on the bail
was that he did not have enough time. Given a whole week he should have that
time to deal with bail issues.”

The state claims Glen View policeman Petros Mutedza was killed by the MDC-T
members at a local pub. But the party denies the charges and insist the
arrests were a plot by ZANU PF to destabilize their structures. They say
there is evidence showing many of the accused were not at the pub the night
Mutedza was killed.

The courts have denied bail to the MDC-T members on several occasions,
claiming they are flight risks. The trial has also dragged on at a slow
pace, which the MDC-T alleges to be a strategy to extend their time in jail.

Hlatywayo said the jailed activists are in good spirits and are aware that
this is a political game. He added that they were encouraging the youth
assembly to continue working towards democracy in Zimbabwe, especially after
seeing how crowded the 13th anniversary celebrations were in Bulawayo on

The new evidence introduced last month came from testimony by the father and
brother of the slain cop. Both Solomon Mutedza and son Tichaona appealed to
the court to release the activists and implicated ZANU PF elements in a plot
to kill the Glen View cop. Tichaona is the MDC-T chairperson of ward 2 in Mt
Darwin and his father Solomon Mutedza actually supports ZANU PF.

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Zim Diaspora newspaper planned for SA

By Alex Bell
02 October 2012

A free newspaper specifically for Zimbabweans in the Diaspora is set to be
released next week in South Africa.

The paper, called the ‘Zim Diaspora’ is going to print next Monday and aims
to provide Zimbabweans a space to share ideas and stories, and also find

The paper’s creator Charles Matorera told SW Radio Africa that the newspaper
is to provide Zimbabweans in South Africa a platform for discussion and

“There are lots of problems for us in South Africa so the main issues we
will be covering will be the challenges we face. Challenges like how
Zimbabweans are always taken advantage of and xenophobia,” Matorera said.

He explained that newspaper will be a “community newspaper” that will also
give Zimbabweans the space to advertise. He said that he hopes the paper
will become a tool for education and support, saying a number of experts,
including individuals from the law and employment sectors, are on board to
help people solve their problems.

“This newspaper will be available in all the places where Zimbabweans are
all across South Africa, so in Johannesburg at Park Station, even in Cape
Town and Limpopo,” Matorera said.

More information can be found on the Zim Diaspora Facebook page. People can
also contact the newspaper by email on

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We have a distorted national heroes' history: PM

Tuesday, 02 October 2012 14:21
HARARE - Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai yesterday said the country was in
a crisis after failing to honour true liberation heroes and heroines who do
not belong to Zanu PF.

Addressing mourners gathered for the funeral of the late Vesta Sithole ,
wife to the late Ndabaningi Sithole in Harare yesterday.

Tsvangirai said it was a travesty that real heroines like Sithole who helped
wage the armed struggle are not accorded such an honour all because of
political “mischief”.

He said there was need to revisit the criteria used to determine conferral
of national hero and heroine status, which is currently the preserve of the
Zanu PF politburo.

The PM said there was urgent need to confer hero status even to those who
are not Zanu PF — people like Vesta Sithole.

“We have a crisis, we have a distorted history of national heroes, and I
think the next government should revisit the measure that is being used when
determining a national hero,” he said.

“It is very sad that real heroines like Vesta are not honoured all because
of party politics. We might fail to correct this anomaly now in the
inclusive government but I hope the successive government will correct it,”
he added.

Vesta was wife to Zanu Ndonga’s founding president and hero of the 1970s
liberation struggle that gave birth to the country’s independence from
Britain in 1980.

She also participated in the liberation struggle but Zanu PF refused to
recognise her as a heroine because she is not a member of the party.

Born in 1942, Vesta joined the freedom fight in 1960 through Zapu, a party
that was led by her husband and the late vice president Joshua Nkomo.

With her late husband Ndabaningi Sithole, she formed Zanu Ndonga, a party
that has remained popular in Chipinge.

Speaking at the same funeral, Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara said
people like Vesta and her late husband should be recognised beyond party
political level as their contributions to the country surpassindividual
political parties.

“We must respect wives of politicians because they are not ordinary people,
Zanu PF would have not been there had it not been for the likes of Vesta who
stood hard and braved to free this country,” Mutambara said. “They do not
belong to Zanu, but they are national figures.

“We must thrive to build on a national shared legacy that is beyond small
party politics. We must respect women politicians who went into the
liberation struggle, the likes of Vesta, Margaret Dongo, Oppah Muchinguri
and Mai Mujuru, they represent a rare class of people,”said Mutambara.

The funeral was attended by other political leaders from other parties like
Dongo, Reketai Semwayo, leader of Zanu Ndonga and Members of Parliament from
across the political divide. - Xolisani Ncube

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Zimbabwe Allows Private Millers to Import Maize

Gibbs Dube

Deputy Agriculture Minister Seiso Moyo says private millers are expected to
start importing maize from neighboring nations as grain stocks have
seriously diminished in the country with just only 215,000 tonnes left in
national silos.

Moyo told VOA Studio 7 the merchants will complement efforts being made by
the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) in buying and importing maize and wheat for
domestic consumption.

He said the GMB which was the only entity engaged in these activities, is
failing to meet national needs as it owes transporters, farmers and other
creditors millions of dollars due to lack of funds.

Zimbabwe needs at least 1.2 million tonnes of maize a year. The majority of
starving people, mostly in rural areas, say they are currently not receiving
state-funded drought relief aid.

Moyo said maize supplies will improve when private millers start importing
maize and wheat.

“We are facing critical shortages of maize but we hope that private
companies will play a key role in boosting grain supplies,” he said.

The United Nations World Food Program says more than 1.6 million Zimbabweans
will need food aid just before the next crop harvest.

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Chitungwiza town clerk as case to answer: court

02/10/2012 00:00:00
by Phyllis Mbanje

A HARARE magistrate has dismissed an application for discharge by former
Chitungwiza town clerk Godfrey Tanyanyiwa who faces corruption allegations
involving close to US$1 million.

Regional magistrate Hosea Mujaya had put off his ruling on Tanyanyiwa’s bid
to have the case dismissed saying he needed time to examine a video
recording of one of the transactions at the centre of the graft allegations.

And on Tuesday, the magistrate told Tanyanyiwa that he had a case to answer
and should return to court for trial on October 16.

Currently out of custody on US$1000 bail, Tanyanyiwa, 43, faces 52 counts of
criminal abuse of office, eight counts of fraud and a single count of
corruptly concealing from a principal personal interest in a transaction.

The state claims that knowing he had no money to buy a house, Tanyanyiwa
hatched a plan in September 2010 to defraud Chitungwiza Municipality and
took US$165,000 from council coffers to buy a house in Chisipite.

He allegedly offered the same house for rental to Chitungwiza Municipality
director of urban planning, Conrad Muchesa, without disclosing his personal
interest in the house.

The council paid him US$1,300 per month in rentals over five months,
suffering a prejudice of US$6,500.
Tanyanyiwa is also accused of corruptly acquiring three commercial stands
using different shelf companies as well as prejudicing his employer of
$170,000 when he bought himself a Toyota Land Cruiser V8 instead of
acquiring three vehicles for the local authority.

In addition, prosecutors charge that on 50 different occasions he corruptly
authorised various cash payments amounting to over $330,000 to himself and
top council officials.

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My hands are clean: Masunda

Tuesday, 02 October 2012 10:52

HARARE - Harare mayor Muchadeyi Masunda says he is ready for a probe team
set up by Local Government minister to investigate his council, as he has
nothing to hide.

Ignatius Chombo, the Local Government minister, last week set up a probe
team that will investigate all council tenders for the past 24 months as
allegations of corruption and failure to follow laid down council procedures

The probe team will among other things look into how Cabs, a company owned
by Old Mutual which is chaired by Masunda, got the tender to construct 3 000
housing units in the high density suburb of Budiriro.

Headed by Ellen Chivaviro, the team also comprises Florence Ziyambi,
Jabulani Nyoni, Shingai Ndoro, Charity Nyambira, Joramu Mumbwandarika, Enock
Magaisa and Taurai Maja.

Other terms of reference for the team include probing how the local
authority awarded space for car sales and space for bill boards.

“I welcome the probe as I have nothing to fear because I have never been in
the business of keeping any skeletons in the cupboard,” Masunda said. “I
certainly do not intent to start doing so now. By the way, the chairperson
of Cabs is Leonard Tsumba. I am the chairperson of Old Mutual Life Assurance
of Zimbabwe.”

Allegations being raised by Chombo against Masunda are that he did not
declare his interest when the housing deal was discussed by council, a
charge Masunda rejected.

Chombo also suspects that Masunda being the chairperson for Old Mutual could
have influenced the deal.

The minister has in the past set up investigation teams to probe MDC-run
councils and this has resulted in some councillors being fired.

MDC has in the past claimed that such teams are created by Chombo to milk
and discredit the MDC-run councils.

Since his party lost control of local authorities a decade ago, Chombo has
had a frosty relation with the MDC. - Wendy Muperi and Xolisani Ncube

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Man In Trouble For Mocking Mugabe

By Professor Matodzi Harare, October 02, 2012 - A Zimbabwean man has landed
himself in trouble for allegedly mocking President Robert Mugabe for having
diluted powers after forming a coalition government with Prime Minister
Morgan Tsvangirai.
Christopher Mandeya (47) is answering charges of undermining the authority
of or insulting Mugabe in contravention of the Criminal Law (Codification
and Reform) Act.

According to State prosecutors, Mandeya, employed as a data capture clerk,
taunted Mugabe for losing powers under the power sharing government, which
brought in Tsvangirai as Prime Minister.

Prosecutors said Mandeya allegedly uttered the following words:

“Kwavane unity government, Zanu (PF) haichatonga pfutseke naMugabe venyu,
pfutseke nababa Chatunga”, which the State took to mean: “There is now a
unity government, Zanu (PF) is no longer in power, forsake your Mugabe,
forsake father Chatunga.”

“The accused had no right to insult the president,” reads the state’s

Prosecutors charge that Mandeya uttered the insulting words when he was
allegedly drunk at Chipadze Business Centre in May.

Prosecutors also allege Mandeya was overhead by an informant, Martin
Mavhangira, aged 59.

Mandeya, who is being represented by Denford Halimani of Wintertons Legal
Practitioners and a member lawyer of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights
(ZLHR), is currently out of custody on bail.

Mandeya is the latest Zimbabwean to answer insult charges, which have been
nailed against dozens of Zimbabweans.

Critics warn that insult cases could escalate as the troubled southern
African country trudges towards a referendum and a general election, which
President Mugabe wants held early next year.

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Poor roads cost Zimbabwe 'billions'

01/10/2012 00:00:00
by Brian Paradza

ZIMBABWE risks losing billions of dollars in potential revenue as key
infrastructure such as roads and railways continue to deteriorate with
government unable to secure funding for much-needed rehabilitation work.

The country’s strategic location in the region has seen it being used as a
transit point for trade traffic to and from major ports in South Africa,
helping raise much-needed revenue for the country.

But the poor state of the country’s roads is forcing freight companies to
look for alternative routes, Shipping and Freight Forwarders Association of
Zimbabwe chief executive Joseph Musariri said.

Maintenance work on the country’s road network was either stopped in the
last decade due to a biting economic crisis and, although, some projects
such as the dualisation of major highways have resumed, the work is
continuing at a very slow pace.

Musariri said tmost companies were now diverting traffic to the Kazungula
border post between Botswana and Zambia where a ferry is currently being
used to cross the Zambezi River although a major bridge is also under

“We need to move with speed in terms of dualising the country’ roads
because, already, some trucks are choosing to go through the Kazungula
border post and should the bridge be completed before our dualisation then
we will be in trouble as half the current trucks going north would use that
route,” Musariri said.

“Traffic flow at Beitbridge also needs to improve and facilities at the post
should be upgraded in line with the volume of business coming through.”

Last month, Finance Minister Tendai Biti revealed that the country needs
over US$20 billion to upgrade its infrastructure.
"On infrastructure alone, the country requires $14.5 billion. The mining
sector requires $5 to US$7 billion to be fully operational. Our country
needs capital in the form of foreign direct investment, lines of credit and
cheap access to finance,” Biti said.

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Stop Loss of Borrowdale Vlei

Sign this petition

Why this is important

Plans are underway for construction of a massive shopping centre called the
Mall of Zimbabwe on what is left of one of Harare's few remaining wetland
areas, the Borrowdale Vlei. These plans are going ahead despite the fact
that an independent environmental impact assessment has not been undertaken.
The wetlands of Harare, including the Borrowdale Vlei, were gazetted
protected wetlands by the Minister of Environment on 27th July 2012. The
Environmental Management Act overrides the planning acts therefore it is not
legally possible for the City of Harare to issue a permit to develop this
The ecosystem services of flood attenuation and water purification are being
over looked and the full environmental ramifications need to be carefully
considered. In addition, wetlands play an important role in absorbing water
in the wet season and then releasing this water in dry seasons. There are
6.5 million people living within the catchment system linked to the
Borrowdale Vlei who are dependent upon the water it stores and then
releases. 40% of Harare's residents are without municipal water and
boreholes are rapidly drying up. Wetlands such as the Borrowdale Vlei
therefore serve a vital role in supplying the city with water. We therefore
urge Vice President Mujuru to consider an alternative site for the Mall of

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MDC condemns threats on Minister Biti

Tuesday, 02 October 2012

The MDC strongly condemns the barbaric behaviour displayed this afternoon by
some self-styled war veterans who locked access doors into the Minister of
Finance, Hon. Tendai Biti’s government offices.

The behaviour is totally uncalled for as it happens when the Finance
Minister is frantically trying to source revenue to fund various government
projects including the salaries for thousands of civil servants including
their bonuses.

As a party, the MDC applauds the tireless efforts being made by Minister
Biti at a time when the country’s natural resources are being looted by
known Zanu PF politicians. We urge the minister to remain resolute in
finding a lasting solution to the country’s problems and not to be swayed by
empty Zanu PF threats.

Instead of marching to Minister Biti’s offices, these self-styled war
veterans should have demonstrated at the offices of Obert Mpofu, the
Minister of Mines and Mining Development.

It is Mpofu and other senior Zanu PF plunderers who have failed this country
by failing to remit proceeds worth millions of dollars from Chiadzwa
diamonds to the Treasury for the benefit of genuine former freedom fighters,
civil servants, pensioners and the people of Zimbabwe.

We know that these so-called war veterans are hired thugs who have been made
to hold a mock demonstration at the minister’s offices in order to divert
attention from the real looters of the country’s resources who include
Mpofu, Saviour Kasukuwere, Ignatius Chombo and other senior Zanu PF
officials. These are the corrupt politicians who are buying helicopters,
aeroplanes, boats and mansions outside the country from the diamond

The real war veterans know that Minister Biti is trying hard under difficult
circumstances to get the country back on its feet but it is a mammoth task
because of the looting of the country’s resources. It is unfair for the
Finance Minister to globetrot the world with a begging bowl when the country
has vast natural resources that are benefiting only a few senior Zanu PF

The MDC notes with concern that this is not the first time that attempts
have been made to frustrate Minister Biti. On several occasions hired Zanu
PF supporters have besieged his offices since 2009 when the inclusive
government was formed.

In July 2009, he received a live 9mm bullet and a written note enclosed in
an envelope. The note advised Hon. Biti to “prepare your will” but no
arrests have been made since that threat was made. Last year, his Harare
residence was petrol bombed and again no arrests have been made.

As the MDC we therefore condemn the police for standing by while the life of
a full Cabinet Minister is being put at risk.

MDC @ 13 - The last mile: Towards Real Transformation!!!

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U.S. higher education program marks 30 years in Zimbabwe

The Fulbright Program, the United States of America’s flagship international
education program, will mark 30 years of exchange in Zimbabwe with a
celebration on Thursday. The U.S. Embassy Public Affairs Section and the
Zimbabwe-United States Alumni Association (ZUSAA) will host a seminar
Thursday afternoon followed by a reception at the Celebration Centre in

by The Zimbabwean

“The Fulbright Program has connected our two countries for 30 years in one
of the most important ways possible – through the creation of knowledge and
professional skills, as well as through a shared belief in educating the
next generation,” says Sharon Hudson-Dean, Counselor for Public Affairs at
the U.S. Embassy in Harare.

“This year, we are celebrating the many great academics who participated in
the program in the past, as well as encouraging tomorrow’s researchers,
teachers and professionals to seek out international exchange as a means to
building the country’s potential.”

The three hour seminar presentation in Harare will highlight the successes
of Zimbabweans who have participated in the Fulbright program and brought
their experiences back home. They include government officials, business
leaders and academics. Since its inception in Zimbabwe in 1982, the program
has enabled over 200 Zimbabweans to further their studies in the U.S. and
approximately 100 Americans to come to Zimbabwe.

“The Fulbright program not only offers Zimbabweans opportunities to
undertake studies abroad, it also has a wide range of capacity building
which includes bringing experts to support our varied development
initiatives,” noted Sekai Holland, Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s
Office. From 1983-85, Minister Holland completed a Fulbright grant pursuing
a Masters of Science degree in Agricultural Journalism at the University of

Globally, the Fulbright Program operates in more than 155 countries
worldwide and has provided approximately 318,000 participants with the
opportunity to study, teach, or conduct research in each others’ countries
and exchange ideas. Approximately 8,000 grants are awarded annually. There
are currently 18 Zimbabwean Fulbright scholars pursuing PhD study in the
U.S. in a wide range of fields such as natural resources management,
virology, biotechnology, applied mathematics, media & journalism studies
and population studies.

The statutory program was established by the U.S. Congress in 1946 and is
sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and
Cultural Affairs, which works with private non-profit organizations in the
United States and with U.S. embassies and bi-national Fulbright Commissions
abroad to administer the Program.

Fulbright programs are varied. They include, but not limited to, the
Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant (FLTA) Program which provides
young teachers of English as a Foreign Language the opportunity to refine
their teaching skills and broaden their knowledge of American culture and
customs while strengthening the instruction of foreign languages at colleges
and universities in the United States.

The International Fulbright Science and Technology Award supports doctoral
study at leading U.S. institutions in science, technology, engineering or
related fields for outstanding foreign students. The Hubert H. Humphrey
Fellowship Program brings outstanding mid-career professionals from
countries in states of development or transition to the United States for
highly tailored programs of non-degree, graduate study and professional

Fellowships are awarded in a range of public policy and social science
related fields. The Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program sends American scholars
and professionals to approximately 125 countries, where they lecture and/or
conduct research in a wide variety of academic and professional fields.

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Zimbabwe teen leaves anguish behind, starts future at Bryn Mawr

2 October 2012

By Kathy Boccella

Inquirer Staff Writer

Getrude Makurumidze has a soft laugh that kicks in whenever the college
freshman, 18, marvels at all the things she has done and seen in the few
weeks since she walked off a plane from her native Zimbabwe - her first
taste of Thai food, her first swimming lesson, her first Downward Facing Dog
in yoga class.

The laugh and broad smile are part of her sunny nature that breaks through,
jarringly at times, when she talks about everything she has had to overcome
to get from the African mining town of Zwekwe to the campus of Bryn Mawr
College: losing her mother, a newborn sister, and her father within the span
of a few months when she was 8 years old, all, she eventually learned, from
AIDS; losing money for her education in an economic downturn that devastated
Zimbabwe; frequent moves around the poverty-stricken nation, and the slow
drip of revelations about how she became an AIDS orphan.

"When I finally got to digest it, I really cried," Makurumidze says from the
college's Campus Center, recalling the long car ride with an uncle who
described in detail how the deadly virus destroyed her family.

But the truth only fueled her desire to become an AIDS researcher and bring
that knowledge home to Zimbabwe, a dream now in her sights thanks to
U.S.-funded scholarship program that landed her in the Philadelphia suburbs.

In one sense, Makurumidze is a small piece of a much broader story - a tidal
wave in recent years of international students attending the colleges and
universities in the Philadelphia region. Nowhere has that wave crested
higher than at Bryn Mawr, which U.S. News & World Report has ranked, using
the most recent data from 2011-12, as No. 1 among the top liberal-arts
colleges in international students.

Last year, 16 percent of Bryn Mawr students, and 20.8 percent of freshmen,
were from other nations, and administrators said those numbers were growing.
The college is on the cutting edge of a national trend, with the number of
international undergrads and graduate students closing in on 600,000, an
all-time high.

But underneath the skyrocketing stats are thousands of unique stories, few
more compelling than that of Makurumidze, whose cheerful nature and
determination to overcome her plight as an AIDS orphan has amazed everyone
she has met since arriving Aug. 23 in Philadelphia.

"How she can be so adaptable and positive and enthusiastic considering her
circumstances, and want to do something to stop this [the African AIDS
epidemic], that's remarkable," said David Wolovitz of Glen Mills, who with
his wife, Lainie, is her host family.

Sharon Bain, who teaches the English seminar for freshmen, said she has
already learned a lesson from the enthusiasm and the backstory of her new

"Getrude's example has challenged the way I perceive survivors of personal
tragedy - instead of a fragile or bitter victim of circumstance," she said,
"she is a gracious, reflective, and confident young woman who is really
finding her place at Bryn Mawr."

Indeed, Makurumidze talks of the school as a cradle, the same word she uses
to describe her late mother, a nurse.

"I wasn't a spoiled kid, but I could get what I wanted just by asking," she
said of her mother.

Her father taught at a rural mission school and often was not around. When
Makurumidze was 8, her mother became pregnant, then very ill.

Her mother gave birth to a girl who lived for only a week. "I never set my
eyes on her," Makurumidze recalled, "and I never attended the funeral." One
month later, her mother was dead. Her father died two months after that.

No one mentioned AIDS, she recalled, because the disease was shrouded in
stigma. Only years later did she learn that her dad had contracted AIDS from
other women and had infected her mom.

When told her story was tragic, Makurumidze smiled, then laughed. "It gets
worse," she said.

The money from selling the family's three-bedroom house, which would have
paid for Makurumidze's schooling, vanished during a decade of economic
turmoil in Zimbabwe. She was beginning to adjust to a new life with her
dad's elder sister and her family when the husband died after just a year,
so she moved again, this time to a rural mission school with her mother's
younger brother and his family.

"It was really wonderful," she recalled. "My aunt was so motherly. She
taught me how to be responsible." Makurumidze didn't mind the hard work,
helping to bathe and dress her three young girl cousins every morning and to
assist with their homework at night.

When her uncle lost his money, she left to live with family friends in the
capital of Harare. They adopted her and paid for her to go boarding school.

She was a top student who always tried hard because "of the sacrifices my
relatives made to keep me in school," she said, "so I didn't want those
efforts to go in vain."

In her spare time, she volunteered in an orphanage for HIV-infected
children, where "people bring them gifts, but look at them with scorn. . . .
I look at them as little sisters."

Makurumidze found a way to help them through the U.S. Student Achievers
Program, run by the U.S. Embassy in Harare. The program picks 32 students
out of a pool of up to 1,000 to attend college in America. It helps with
applications, pays for the SAT tests, and arranges for visas and airfare to
colleges that then pay tuition, room and board, and living expenses.

Makurumidze applied to Haverford College and several others, but was
accepted early-decision at Bryn Mawr, which she thought had the best
research opportunities.

In just four weeks, she has charmed everyone - from her roommate to the
college president.

"I heard a little bit of her story, but I was really unprepared for how
vibrant, open, and smiling she was," said Bryn Mawr president Jane
McAuliffe. "She's going to do wonderful. She's pretty extraordinary."

Makurumidze's roommate offered to bring her to California over fall break to
see a beach for the first time; her mentor, a Bryn Mawr alum and AIDS
psychiatrist, invited her to New York at Thanksgiving; and her host family
wants her to spend Christmas break with them.

"It's hectic. It's busy . . . but I love it," she said of grappling with the
complexities of Calculus II, working in the college's cafe, and learning to
swim. She laughed again.

She wasn't so happy when she got a B on a Spanish test and dejectedly told
her host family she had failed. "The standards!" explained Wolovitz.

Makurumidze calls her family in Zimbabwe once a week, but won't be able to
visit for years, since she can't afford the airfare. But this tenacious teen
has already found her next home.

"I'm sure by the end of four years," she said of her surroundings, "it will
feel like family."

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The complexity of Zimbabwe's negotiated transition

Vince Musewe
01 October 2012

Vince Musewe says MDC's disposition closest to the best route for the

Zimbabwe and the complexity of negotiated political transition: The MDC's
disposition is closer to what is the best route for the country and our
aspirations at this juncture.

"Each of us uses mental models constantly. Every person in his private life
instinctively uses mental models for decision making. The mental image of
the world around you, which you carry in your head, is a model. All of our
decisions are taken on the basis of models. All of our laws are passed on
the basis of models. All economic and political actions are taken on the
basis of models."

"The sad reality is that, the mental model is fuzzy (or nebulous). It is
incomplete. It is imprecisely stated. Furthermore, within one individual, a
mental model changes with time and even during the flow of a single
conversation. The human mind assembles a few relationships to fit the
context of a discussion. As the subject shifts so does the model. When only
a single topic is being discussed, each participant in a conversation
employs a different mental model to interpret the subject. Fundamental
assumptions differ, but are never brought into the open. Goals are different
and are left unstated. It is little wonder that compromise takes so long.
And it is not surprising that consensus leads to laws and programs that fail
in their objectives or produce new difficulties greater than those that have
been relieved.

"The human mind is not adapted to sensing correctly the consequences of a
mental model. The mental model may be correct in structure and assumptions
but, even so, the human mind - either individually or as a group consensus -
is most apt to draw the wrong conclusions."

(These are the words of Jay W. Forrester in a paper titled,
"Counterintuitive Behavior of Social Systems", Technology Review, Vol. 73,
No. 3, Jan. 1971)

This elucidates for me, the divergence that we are now experiencing with
regard to a new constitution of Zimbabwe between ZANU (PF) and the MDC. The
fact of the matter is that, each party truly believes it is right, given
their mental model and assumptions. What is incumbent upon us as good
citizens is to select and therefore support, which mental model most closely
reflects our own limited understanding of reality; therein comes the

I have always disputed that, simply because a majority of people think
alike, it does not necessarily make them right. The problem with coming up
with what one may deem an appropriate constitution for a new Zimbabwe is
that, it will be unfortunately based on what the majority think (that is;
what the majority assume what the constitution means to them), and not
necessarily what it actually means or what is best for the country. That is
the predicament of democracy.

I can give you an example; I hear that according to the feedback during
public input on the draft constitution, a majority of Zimbabweans are
against the devolution of power. Firstly, this assumes that they understand
what this term means, and secondly, what its implications to their quality
of life in the future are. But you will agree with me, that all of them have
different mental models about what they understand devolution of power to be
and its implications. So simply because most don't like it, does not mean
that it is bad for the country. The same would apply to those issues that
the majority may wish for in the constitution. That is the nature of the
counterintuitive behaviour of complex social systems.

My discomfort now is that, we seem to have given the full responsibility for
finalisation of the most appropriate constitution to politicians.
Politicians are by nature, prejudiced in their view of reality, if when they
seem to be useful. Politicians are naturally exceedingly influenced by their
unstated aspirations of attaining and keeping political power. Their
objectivity is immensely dubious and inscrutable. Lovemore Madhuku, the
chairman of the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA), is right on the lack
of inclusiveness of the draft constitutional making process that we have
preferred. These are some of the encumbrances of the GPA, but I guess that
is now water under the bridge.

The clash between the MDC and ZANU (PF) on the constitution for me, reflects
two distinct mental models on what is best for Zimbabweans. Unfortunately,
our most recent experience has taught us that, ZANU (PF) has not necessarily
stood for the interests of Zimbabwe's citizens as a whole. Their competence
and capability in managing the affairs of the country is hitherto
questionable. Their arguments and proposed changes to the draft constitution
reflect a mental model which derives its authority from waging the armed
struggle and civil submissiveness to what they think is best for us - a

On the other hand, we know that the mental model of MDC is most likely to be
closer to what may be the best route for the country and our aspirations. It
is based on leadership accountability, the attainment of universal civil
liberties for all Zimbabweans regardless of race, economic freedom for all
and social development. This is no doubt, the more attractive mental model
at this juncture.

We must therefore vote YES in the referendum, not because we necessarily
agree with or comprehend the totality of MDC's mental model or its future
implications on our interests, but because it most probably represents what
we think is best for all Zimbabweans compared to the ZANU (PF) position.

Of course, because social systems are complex and dynamic in nature, none of
us can have the universal "solution" to our problems. We do not know for
sure, how an MDC government will administer the affairs of the country yet,
but we must give them the benefit of any doubt.

I guess that in the end, the choices we make are but a result of the steady
battle amongst dynamic and unpredictable mental models in our heads, which
constantly renovate at whim. All we really need now is change.

I do trust that all rational Zimbabweans will do the necessary when the time

Vince Musewe is an economist currently in Harare. You may contact him on

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Mugabe Pushing Zimbabweans to the Brink?

Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe speaks during a rally marking his 88th birthday in Mutare on February 25, 2012. Mugabe marked his 88th birthday with a trademark attack on gays and foreigners at a mass rally of his supporters on Saturday to celebrate the occasion. AFP PHOTO / JEKESAI NJIKIZANA (Photo credit should read JEKESAI NJIKIZANA/AFP/Getty Images)

by Marko Phiri

Questions are being asked whether Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe is bent on stirring the country back to the political chaos of 2008 as his party Zanu PF stalls the constitution making process.

Without a new constitution, elections are unlikely to be held as constitutional reform is one of the conditions the Global Political Agreement (GPA) signed in September 2008 by the three governing partners set for the holding of fresh polls.

But as Mugabe’s Zanu PF party digs in, the fear that the party vowed to instil in the hearts of commercial farmers during the violent farm invasion at the turn of the century has now been revisited on ordinary folks.

With Mugabe still wielding control over the very repressive state security apparatus, his jingoism has led to questions about what his aspirations are for a country recovering from world-record breaking inflation considering that all pretence to a “popular uprising” have been quashed by the so-called securocrats.

Gwisai and five others are taken to court after being charged with treason. (Photo credit, Solidarity Peace Trust). Professor Munyaradzi Gwisai (center), a prominent lawyer and former MDC legislator arrested last year and charged with treason after organising a public meeting where participants watched videos of the Arab Spring.

At the height of the Arab Spring and the subsequent bloody street clashes between civilians and the uniformed forces in the Maghreb, Zimbabwe’s Defence Minister Emmerson Mnagagwa and military men were quick to warn that there was no room for those aspiring to import the mass protests to Zimbabwe.

The fact that the Defence Minister and his barracks cohorts raised this was in itself telling: they knew Zimbabweans were in fact agitating for those street protests that had helped oust Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, a long-time Mugabe ally.

Indeed Mugabe – not a soldier himself – has come to epitomise that historical caricature of African strongmen who in their efforts to perpetuate bad governance, create dystopian nationhoods by unleashing the terror of the armed forces on civilians.

It has been well documented how virtually all sectors of Zimbabwe’s public services have been stuffed – literally – with “retired” army generals: from the body in charge of elections, to railways and even football administration, the army badge has become ubiquitous.

And it does not come as a surprise then that as the country makes tentative steps towards polls, the military is at the centre of resistance toward any reforms that threaten Mugabe’s exit – and by logical extension their own – be they constitutional, media, electoral – all based on claims that anything else “countermands” the “sacrifices of the liberation struggle!”

This obsession with all things military and its toys thus became writ large when it was announced without any hint of cruel irony that Zimbabwe had bought weapons from South Africa, a sign perhaps that nothing is being left to chance ahead of the elections, yet the very fact that the same political opponents the guns are aimed at sit with Mugabe in government smacks of the futility of efforts to create ideal conditions for “a free and fair” election, it has been argued.

Finance Minister and MDC secretary general Tendai Biti has previously resisted pressure to pour millions of dollars into the recruitment of soldiers, and predictably, his critics within the Zanu PF establishment are quick to claim Biti has his priorities firmly ensconced in “Western capitals” as Mugabe claims the West did try a military invasion on Zimbabwe!

Yet the fate of a whole rogues gallery of African autocrats that includes the bloody fall of Libyan strongman Muamur Gaddafi who shared the same rabid pan-Africanist idealisms and stood shoulder-shoulder with Mugabe as they spit the usual rhetoric against “American imperialism” that was greeted with glee and fist-pumping in Zimbabwe’s metropolitan streets is too vivid for Mugabe’s Cheka-like operatives, a veritable throwback to Soviet communists!

Thus it is that many Zimbabweans who openly swarmed streets in the election euphoria of the year 2000 that shook Mugabe have been reduced to muted blissless reveries imagining they could well do with localising that kind of Arab Spring violence.

But Mugabe has always been quick to warn he brooks no street protests against his 32-year old stranglehold on power. What is interesting about Zimbabwe is that many would in general conversations extol the toppling of leaders as happened in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, and it was even asked when Mubarak was toppled if Zimbabwe was ripe for televising its own revolution.

Yet what has become clear is that the warnings President Mugabe issues out to would-be protestors have been taken to the letter. After all, Mugabe’s history of violence is well documented.

From as early as independence in 1980, Mugabe has not disguised violence as a favoured weapon of choice when faced with opposition to his rule. He has boasted of having “degrees in violence” and has effectively succeeded in cultivating a fear of not only active participation in politics but even such mundane things as expressing one’s political preferences.

A recent survey by a local elections watchdog confirms what has always been known, that Zimbabweans fear anything to do with politics, and it wasn’t surprising that during the just ended national census enumeration exercise, some residents refused to be counted, firmly believing that their personal details were going to be fed into the database of Mugabe’s feared Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO). This spy agency is long accused of hounding Zanu PF opponents.

It can be argued then that Mugabe has succeeded in instilling unpatriotic fear among Zimbabweans as a very useful tool to perpetuate what even his trusted lieutenants revealed in explosive WikiLeaks from the United States Harare Embassy cables that he had long passed his relevance to local politics.

But this has still not damped his resolve to continue with his project which over the years has appeared to be a pathological determination to take the country down with him, wherever it is he is going.

The 88-year ruler is full of ironies and contradictions.

He has insisted that he will retire from active politics as long as “his people” want him, conveniently forgetting that he has been rejected by the electorate since 2000. He has also said he will not step down as Zanu PF leader because there is no one within the party ranks worthy to untie his sandals, to borrow from Christian allegory.

This itself is seen as scathing indictment on his kind of leadership. It has thus been asked how he could have failed to groom a successor during his long reign, betraying the fact that he has always wanted to be in charge until his expiration.

But as his biographer the late Heidi Holland put it, he still imagines himself as a young lad and is reliving a lost past. Yet this does not detract from what appears to be a morbid desire to also revisit the street protests of 1998 for example where thousands took the police head-on as they protested against bread prices and a rising cost of living.

These would-be protestors know only too well the fate that awaits them.

The bruised face of Morgan Tsvangirai when he was beaten by police during a botched 2007 peace rally, the bare bruised thighs of senior MDC official and feminist Grace Kwinje, the bandaged head of constitution law professor and long-time Mugabe critic Lovemore Madhuku, the picture of the then 64-year old Sekai Hollandwrithing in pain after police reportedly screamed “hit her buttocks hard,” the bloodied face of the MDC’s then Information Secretary Nelson Chamisa, the disappearance of opposition activists since independence in 1980, and the failed so-called “Final Push” of 2003 remain vividly etched in people’s minds.

But that is still going too far as we have the brutality of the March 2008 election violence unleashed by Mugabe loyalists and state security agents to remind Zimbabweans the folly of choosing a political party other than Zanu PF.

What then are the options for millions of Zimbabweans both at home and abroad faced with Mugabe’s recalcitrance? Not even the United States, long accused of taking up other people’s fight for democracy seems to have a clue.

A red flag has been raised before that political instability in Zimbabwe could mean instability in southern Africa, yet all efforts to redirect Mugabe away from that imminent chaos have fallen on very obdurate ears. Meanwhile, Zimbabweans stand aside and look, but they ask: till when?

Marko Phiri is a journalist/writer based in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe.

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“Is your battery secured?”

October 2nd, 2012

This latest utterly incredible example of corruption, theft and abuse of power by Zimbabwe’s police was recounted in Maggie’s Morning Mirror:

Coming back this morning from a glorious day and night at the Big Cave Camp in the Matopos we were stopped by several policemen at ‘yet another’ roadblock.

Totally disinterested in the usual spot checks, i.e. whether we had radio licenses, vehicle licenses, driver’s licenses, red triangles or fire extinguishers, this time their sights were set on but one thing – was our car battery secured ?

We were to use an awful expression “gob smacked” …

Of course our battery was secured or the car would not be moving surely? But no, an erstwhile young fellow, who had more than likely never even been behind the wheel of a car in his life, delved deep into the car engine and started to wrestle rather violently with our car battery.

To his chagrin it did not move an inch, but then why should it? A state of the art, beautifully kept Mercedes 270ML the sort of car that usually does have a pristine engine and normally with a secure battery?????

Unhappy with his wrestling match, our officer of the law turned his attention to the car behind us, wherein were the other members of our family, safely ensconced in my own pristine and beautifully kept motoring piece.

My future son in law was bemused when the officious gentleman ordered him imperiously to open the bonnet. Attacking the car battery with renewed vengeance, he managed to shift it minuscularly, and triumphantly he berated us loudly and vehemently for having not “secured” our battery correctly. My son in law was astounded, the battery was about as secure as the fellow’s head was secured to his neck, but it did not have a “bracket over the top”.

Explaining patiently that this particular method of securing batteries was discontinued in the seventies as it could cause batteries to short, but the police officer would have none of that and herded us towards a group of fellow officers who were busy fining at least a dozen distraught tourists for the same heinous misdemeanor.

It was a sad reflection on all that is rotten in the country right now, Botswanans, South Africans, tourists from Australia and America, all bundled on the side of the road in the searing heat, paying fines for the most ridiculous of reasons, while lorries roared past possibly with bald tyres, no brakes and dodgy drivers licenses.

“I was born here” said one very irate lady, “but I swear I will never return”.

There was however humor as we all laughed in utter amazement at this ridiculous situation, and wondered if the police gathered every morning to decide for what insane reason they were going to fine and totally flummox and enrage all the local and visiting motorists for today….

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