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Scant unity, less change in Harare

Tuesday, September 15, 2009
16:47 Mecca time, 13:47 GMT

By Haru Mutasa

It is now one year since the Global Political Agreement, the official name
for Zimbabwe's power sharing deal, was signed.

While some things have changed on the ground for the better - shops have
food, hospitals and schools are slowly beginning to function again -
outstanding political issues could destabilise the fragile coalition between
Robert Mugabe, president and Zanu PF leader and Morgan Tsvangirai, prime
minister and head of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

The outstanding issues include the appointment of the central bank governor
and the attorney general, farm invasions and continued human rights

The MDC alleges its supporters are still being intimidated by Zanu PF

Eighty km outside the capital Harare, in the small town of Chegutu,
residents there say they are still being intimidated.

Visiting one formerly prosperous Chegutu farm, we come across a poster with
Robert Mugabe's face strapped to an iron gate.

It is clear who is in charge. This is Zanu PF territory.

The gate and farm used to belong to farmer Ben Freeth. He says he has lost
everything to supporters of President Mugabe.

Police 'afraid'

Freeth returned to salvage a few belongings but found only the charred shell
of his home.

The new occupiers, young men dressed in Zanu PF t-shirts carrying AK 47
rifles charge at him. They do not want him around.

The farmer tries to reason with them, and pleads with them to take his
things. But they refuse to listen.

Freeth leaves what used to be his home empty handed - not sure if he will
ever get to farm on the land again.
"Everything I had was inside that house," he says, "Now I have nothing. My
wife and three children were inside when it was set alight. Luckily no one
was hurt. Where is the rule of law in this country?

"The police are too afraid to do anything to these people. We have a unity
government - but things are much worse now than before on the farms."

Those who worked on the farms have also lost everything. The farm compound
has been burned to cinders. Some are trying to rebuild their destroyed
homes. They say they did not see who started the fire.

Thirty-five year old Sophia Moya has lived here for five years. Now that the
farm has gone, so has her monthly salary of US $30. One year after the power
sharing deal was signed - she says she is still afraid for her life.

"It's terrifying out here," she says, "Anytime anyone can come and
intimidate us and attack us. We feel so alone. We are scared."


Local police say they are investigating but have made no arrests so far.
Meanwhile, farming communities are increasingly frustrated with the unity

"The MDC signed an agreement where they didn't have any power whatsoever.
Why they signed it, goodness only knows," says Freeth. "They don't have the
army, they don't have the police, they don't have the ministry of justice,
they don't have the attorney general and they don't have supreme court
judges who are appointed by the president.

"The whole machinery of justice, of enforcing the law, is still in the same
hands as it's always been, so for them to go into any kind of agreement on
that basis was very foolhardy in my view."
But Morgan Tsvangirai is talking tough. On Sunday this week, at a party
rally in Zimbabwe's second largest city Bulawayo, he appeared to have
changed tactics on how to handle rival President Mugabe.

"I am not going to stand by while Zanu PF continues to violate the law,
persecute our members of parliament, spread the language of hate, invade
productive farms, ignore our international treaties and continue to loot our
natural resources," he told thousands of supporters, "I am not going to
stand by and watch this happen."

A European Union delegation has just concluded a visit to Zimbabwe - the
first in seven years. The EU slapped sanctions on President Mugabe and his
close allies in 2002 for alleged human rights violations.

Reform call

Those sanctions are still in place and the delegation says they will not be
removed until further political reforms are made on the ground. EU officials
insist the targeted sanctions are not hurting ordinary Zimbabweans.

"Really they are not affecting the economy in the way they are described,"
said Gunilla Carlsson, an EU official.

"We have come here not to negotiate the restrictive measures or discuss
further aid programmes, we have come here to assess how the dialogue is
going between the three signatories but also how to encourage political
dialogue between Zimbabwe and the EU."

On Monday, a close ally of Mugabe accused the EU delegation of trying to
undermine its power-sharing government.

Patrick Chinamasa, the Zimbabwean justice minister, felt the EU delegation
was siding with Tsvangirai's MDC party.

"They seem to want to undermine the inclusive government. They speak as much
as the MDC. They just swallow, hook, line and sinker what the MDC says,"
Chinamasa was quoted as saying.

The country needs US $10bn to rebuild its bankrupt economy. But Western
nations are reluctant to give more money to the unity government until more
reforms have been made on the ground.

One year on, as their politicians bicker, many Zimbabweans are still waiting
for significant change.

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INTERVIEW: One year on from historic deal Tsvangirai "disappointed" agreement

Africa News
By Sebastian Nyamhangambiri Sep 15, 2009, 16:56 GMT

Johannesburg - A year after signing a power-sharing accord with President
Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai on Tuesday
expressed his disappointment at his rival's intransigence and said the
coalition government's future was now 'in the hands of the people.'

In an interview with the German Press Agency dpa on the first anniversary of
the historic Global Political Agreement, Tsvangirai placed the
responsibility for the crippling tensions in Zimbabwe's coalition government
squarely at Mugabe's feet.

'We have done our part of the bargain. It is the other party, (Mugabe's)
ZANU-PF, which should stop all this nonsense, to stop all these violations,'
the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader said.

The deal was brokered by the regional political grouping, the Southern
African Development Community, in a bid to end months of violence in the
wake of Mugabe's defeat in parliamentary and first- round presidential
elections. An MDC breakaway faction led by Arthur Mutambara is the third,
smallest, party to the agreement.

During the first few months of co-governance, Tsvangirai went out on a limb
to defend Mugabe from accusations of stalling reforms, but in recent weeks
his patience with the elderly leader has been visibly wearing thin.

Visiting senior European Union officials told Mugabe and Tsvangirai that the
EU would not lift targeted sanctions against Mugabe and his inner circle
until seeing a clean break with the repressive policies of the past.

Mugabe complained that the sanctions were hurting the general population but
Tsvangirai said he had himself to blame: 'We won't have any restrictive
measures to talk of if we restore the rule of law and implement the GPA,' he

Defending his decision to take the MDC into government with Zanu- PF,
despite resistance from key party elements, Tsvangirai said: 'We knew this
was not real change but we provided a lifeline to people who were

Generally, the seven-month-old government had provided more hope than
despair, he said, listing the sharp reduction in political violence and
reopening of hospitals and schools among the government's key achievements.

The fact that a US congressional team and a senior EU delegation had both
held meetings with Mugabe recently was also 'something unimaginable just a
few months ago.'

But these developments, Tsvangirai said, only came about because of his own
efforts 'to end this isolation.'

'We have our disappointments,' he admitted.

'We have seen our members of parliament being persecuted...There are still
incidents of violence...the constitutional process seems to be struggling to
take off with the momentum which is in line with the timeline,' he said.

He also lamented the 'incessant hate language' used by the Zanu-PF
controlled state media against the MDC.

'One of the things I have told President Mugabe is that, until there is a
progress report, this matter is out of my hands,' said Tsvangirai. On
Monday, the two leaders held tense private talks that ended abruptly, after
10 minutes.

'It (the future of the government) is with the people,' Tsvangirai said,
indicating he was leaving it up to the MDC's supporters now to decide
whether the party should remain in the agreement.

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Zimbabwe's Mugabe vows unity, brushes off critics

By Reagan Mashavave (AFP) - 9 hours ago

HARARE - President Robert Mugabe vowed to work with one-time rival Morgan
Tsvangarai as Zimbabwe on Tuesday marked the signing of a unity deal one
year ago, but brushed off criticism of failing the fragile pact.

The inclusive government, formed by the two leaders five months after the
pact was penned, has helped steer Zimbabwe's return from crisis but still
faces deep-rooted challenges after nearly a decade of political tensions.

"If we could work with (Zimbabwe's last white ruler) Ian Smith, how can we
not work with Morgan Tsvangirai?" state media reported Mugabe as telling a
landmark European Union visit at the weekend.

"I am saying this because some people doubt 'can this man work with the
opposition?'. We have done it before and at a time when vengeful feelings
were running high. It's the issue once again but this time with our own

The two leaders met the EU delegation Saturday in the first such visit to
Harare in seven years which noted progress by the unity government but
slammed reports of rights abuses and called for greater reforms.

The bloc also rejected calls for an end to sanctions imposed against Mugabe
and his inner circle, which include a travel ban and a freeze on bank

But Mugabe told the EU team that neither he nor his ZANU-PF party were
derailing the unity pact and that no outstanding issues remained, officials
at the meetings told the Herald newspaper.

"If it's about the spirit of inclusivity, satisfaction must come from both
sides," he said. "What satisfaction is there when one side is restricted
while the other is free to roam?"

Mugabe explained away concerns around arrests of MDC lawmakers, key
government appointments, and a new constitution, reported the Herald, which
also dedicated a page to comments from analysts who blamed Tsvangirai for
scuttling progress of the unity government.

The veteran leader has been accused of dragging his feet over reforming
media laws and the security forces, while Tsvangarai on Sunday charged
ZANU-PF with targeting his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) supporters.

The MDC leader joined Mugabe in a unity government in February after last
year's failed elections.

After the deal was signed on September 15, 2008, after nearly a decade of
political turmoil, it took another five months to install the unity
government, after a bitter brawl over who would control the most powerful

Mugabe told the EU that the only issue that could be regarded as outstanding
was the swearing in of MDC deputy agriculture minister Roy Bennett who was
arrested for treason on the day that the new cabinet was sworn in.

"We have not taken the post away from MDC-T (Tsvangirai). We have simply
said if he is cleared (by the courts) he will be appointed the next day but
if he is not, tough luck," Mugabe said.

Delays in drawing up a new constitution were put on the MDC, with Mugabe
also saying that Gideon Gono, whose continued governorship of the central
bank is bitterly disputed by the MDC, should serve out his five-year term.

"We don?t regard it right for others to ask how we govern ourselves," he
reportedly told the visiting team. "The EU should not behave as if we belong
to their community, we don?t!"

The unity pact followed months of unrest after the MDC last year seized a
parliamentary majority and Mugabe was defeated in a first-round presidential

Tsvangirai pulled out of the runoff, citing a wave of deadly attacks on his
supporters that MDC says left more than 200 dead.

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Zimbabwe to import 350,000 tonnes of wheat

Tue Sep 15, 2009 9:12am GMT

* Wheat farmers fail to get adequate finance, inputs

* Plantings at about 21,000 hectares

* Output seen at about 63,000 tonnes

HARARE, Sept 15 (Reuters) - Zimbabwe will import about 350,000 tonnes of
wheat this year to cover a deficit, following lower plantings of the cereal
due to lack of finance and shortages of fertilizer and electricity, state
media said on Tuesday.

"A review of the challenges has indicated that farmers faced a serious
challenge of inputs, especially fertilizer that was in short supply,"
agriculture minister Joseph Made told the government run Herald newspaper,
adding that power shortages had hit irrigation.

The southern African country has relied on food imports since 2001, with
critics blaming food shortages on President Robert Mugabe's previous
government's often violent seizures of white-owned commercial farms to
resettle blacks.

But Mugabe blames drought and sanctions imposed by Western countries for
crippling the agriculture sector.

Zimbabwe has for years used imports to make up for shortfalls and meet wheat
demand, estimated at 450,000 tonnes, but output has plunged in the last
decade from 300,000 tonnes to about 63,000 tonnes this year.

"Farmers put about 20 000-21 000 hectares of wheat during the winter wheat
season and with a projected yield of three tonnes per hectare, the yields
will be low," Made said.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation in June forecast the
production of winter-season wheat of only 12,000 tonnes, the lowest ever,
reflecting the high cost of fertiliser and quality seeds and farmers' lack
of financial liquidity.

A new power-sharing government formed in February is trying to stabilise an
economy wrecked by hyperinflation and sees the agriculture sector as key to
economic recovery.

The government has launched a $200 million scheme to help farmers secure
seed and fertiliser for the summer cropping season which starts next month
while international donors have set aside $60 million to buy inputs for
smallholder farmers.

Aid groups say Zimbabwe's agricultural production rose significantly during
the 2008/9 season but that nearly 3 million people would need food
assistance until next April.

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Australia considers easing Zimbabwe sanctions

Tue Sep 15, 2009 7:33am GMT

CANBERRA, Sept 15 (Reuters) - Australia will consider easing a ban on high
level contacts with Zimbabwe, Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said on
Tuesday, adding it was too soon to end targeted sanctions against President
Robert Mugabe's regime.

Smith, in a statement to parliament, said Australia would also contribute an
extra A$8 million ($6.9 million) in aid to Zimbabwe to fund emergency food
supplies, agriculture projects and help reinvigorate education.

Smith said more needed to be done to restore democracy and human rights in
the country, and to fully implement the power sharing agreement signed a
year ago between Mugabe and his political rival Morgan Tsvangirai, now Prime

"Much more significant progress will be required before the Australian
Government undertakes any broader review of Australia's sanctions with
respect to Zimbabwe," he said.

The slight easing comes after a European Union delegation visited Zimbabwe
and said relations were entering a new phase, although full cooperation
hinged on the implementation of the power sharing deal and an end to rights

Smith said there were growing signs of hope and optimism in Zimbabwe, with
major improvements to the country's economy and health system, as well as
lower levels of political violence.

Australia in 2002 banned direct ministerial contact with government
ministers in Zimbabwe, and in 2004 imposed travel and financial-transaction
bans on members of Mugabe's regime and senior supporters.

Australia also tightened scrutiny of student visas for the children of
senior Zimbabwean government officials.

It was now time for Canberra to consider working with some Zimbabwean
government ministries and to look at direct ministerial engagement with some
government members, Smith said.

"Australia will consider opportunities for ministerial engagement on a
selective case-by-case basis with those ministers of the Zimbabwean
government who we judge to be making a real and genuine contribution to
Zimbabwe's social and economic recovery," he said.


(Reporting by James Grubel; Editing by David Fox)

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Another death in Chiadzwa as military grip on diamond fields tightens

By Alex Bell
15 September 2009

The military's brutal grip on the diamond fields in Chiadzwa, which has
continued despite an international report recommending the demilitarisation
of the zone, has resulted in yet another death reportedly at the hands of
soldiers based there.

According to the Mutare based Centre for Research and Development, soldiers
based in Chiadzwa kidnapped, tortured and murdered an apparent 'illegal'
diamond panner over a week ago. The man, Moreblessing Tirivangani from
Harare died on Sunday 6th September after he was apparently beaten by
soldiers throughout the previous night. The Centre for Research and
Development has reported that police, who transported Tirivangani's body to
the Mutare General Hospital Mortuary, were ordered to report that
Tirivangani 'had tried to disarm a soldier.'

"This is highly untrue given that soldiers always move around in pairs or
more. Also given the general fear among the people with regard to soldiers,
it is very unthinkable that a civilian can try to disarm a soldier in a
highly militarised zone like Chiadzwa," the Centre reported.

The Mutare based organisation also reported there was evidence that
Tirivangani had been tortured, with multiple bruising in stripe patterns
across his body, and a plastic covering over his nose.

The death followed a visit by the Commander of the army Lieutenant General
Philip Valerio Sibanda, who visited the diamond fields in the company of
senior military personnel on the 3rd of September. It's understood that a
violent 'clean up' operation to drive out diamond panners from the diamond
fields was carried out by the military ahead of Sibanda's visit. But while
Sibanda's visit lasted just a few hours, the operation has reportedly
continued. Meanwhile the military reportedly imposed an illegal curfew
around Chiadzwa during the operation. For several days Chiadzwa residents
could not enter or leave their area due to the curfew. The Centre for
Research and Development said that several people failed to travel to Mutare
to seek medical attention and other essential services due to the illegal

The continued militirisation of the diamond fields has been in direct
contravention of recommendations made earlier this year by a delegation from
the Kimberley Process (KP), the international body tasked with stopping the
trade in blood diamonds. The group was shamed into sending the review
mission after receiving widespread accounts by Human Rights Groups of
violence, torture, child labour and murder at the diamond fields last year.
Survivors of the military violence have reported mass deaths at the hands of
soldiers in 2008, after the military was ordered to 'clean up' the area.
The KP delegation found evidence of serious non-compliance with minimum
diamond trade standards, as well as dramatic human rights abuse. The
testimony of some victims was reportedly so poignant that the Liberian team
leader left one of the meetings in tears. The team's interim report, which
was leaked to the media and is yet to be officially published, recommended
Zimbabwe's suspension from the regulatory body. But the suspension
recommendation was quickly denounced by the Kimberley Process Chair who told
reporters in Harare, before the team's report had even been completed, that
suspension would never happen. Under pressure, he has since denied that he
ever made the statement.

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MDC Officials Picked Up Over Mine Strike

Zvishavane, Septmeber 14, 2009  - State security agents have picked up
three Movement for Democratic Change councillors in Zvishavane, accusing
them of masterminding the three week old strike at Shabanie Mine.

The security agents also distributed flyers in the town on Monday
which urged the workers to end the strike.

An official in the MDC Secretary General's office at Harvest house
said the party had nothing to do with the striking Shabanie mine workers.

"We never at one point interfere with any labour issues. Who are we to
say workers should go back to their work? We are not aware of the flyers you
are talking about," said the official.

A representative of the workers at the mine said they are not
demanding salary increments but our salaries which the management short
changed them for the past eight months.

"The management has been stealing our salaries, by paying us less that
the amount printed on our payslips. We were receiving pay slips printed $100
and only to withdraw $30 from the  banks since January. We asked our banks
why we were given less than what was shown on our pay slips and were told
that that was the amount deposited by our employer. We will  not go back to
work if we are not given our stolen salaries and we are not striking  for
salary  increases as the management wants people to believe," said a worker

Shabanie mine General Manager for mining operations Mr C Zishumba,
declined to comment.

"I have no comment over that issue. You can try to locate Mr Zvembeu
of SMM (Shabanie Mashaba Mine) Harare but unfortunately I can not give you
his number, try SMM
Harare," said Zishumba.

Shabanie mine  was snatched away by  the Zanu PF led government in
2004 from  South Africa-based Mutumwa Mawere whom they accused of
"externalizing" - taking out of the country - some US$80 million in assets
from Shabanie Mashaba Mine Holdings (SMMH), and the Zimbabwean government
moved to nationalise his company in 2004.

Mawere has tried to negotiate directly with President Robert Mugabe to
get his mine back.

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Student leaders arrested for writing letter

Monday, 14 September 2009 00:00
MUTARE - Police have arrested student leaders at Mutare Polytechnic
following the publication of their open letter to Education Minister David
Coltart bemoaning the collapse of the education sector.
Student Representative Council (SRC) President Charles Chiyangwa and
Secretary-General Bestinos Kundishora were detained at the Mutare CID law
and order offices on Thursday in connection with the open letter published
by The Zimbabwean the same day. According to their lawyer, Blessing
Nyamaropa, they were charged with being a  'criminal nuisance' under Section
46 of the notorious Criminal Law and Codification and Reform Act. They were
released after paying fines of US$5 on Friday, said Nyamaropa.
In their letter, the student leaders challenged the education ministry
and the government to address the plight of students. The Zimbabwe National
Union Student (Zinasu) slammed the arrest as an act of intimidation to force
students to abandon their countrywide protest over high tuition fees. The
arrest, they said, was a clear indication of the state's paranoia about the
union's mobilisation for a sustained campaign against the privatisation of
education in Zimbabwe. "Zinasu remains firm and steadfast in the struggle to
defend the students' rights and will not capitulate to any act of
intimidation," said Blessing Vava, the Zinasu spokesperson. Many university
and college students have been forced to abandon studies over high tuition
fees that the government has defended as necessary to revive the ruined
education sector. Vava added: "Zinasu condemns the continued harassment of
students by the government of the day and the union will continue fighting
against the privatisation of education in Zimbabwe."

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Death never far away, say released convicts

Monday, 14 September 2009 00:00
HARARE - Prison inmates released through a presidential amnesty on
Friday say they are lucky to survive their stay in the country's jails,
described by Amnesty International in July this year as deplorable and unfit
for humans. Close to 1,000 prisoners are said to have died of hunger and
disease in Zimbabwe's jails between January and June this year. Emaciated,
starving and sick - prisoners released early from Zimbabwe's overcrowded,
disease-infested jails say they were lucky to survive. This picture comes
from film footage shot secretly in one of the country's prisons for an SABC
Released inmates interviewed by The Zimbabwean said they were thankful
to god for sparing them from the hunger and disease that have plagued the
country's jails in the past years.
"Prison life was so tough. There was lots of disease and persistent
hunger. We were continually subjected to plain beans, boiled cabbages and
sometimes porridge," said 25-year-old Chazika Chazika, a burglary convict
who was released from Harare central prison after completing 10 months of a
20-month sentence. An international outcry over rights abuses by President
Robert Mugabe's government pressured the government into the early release
of 2,500 convicts under a presidential pardon.
Zimbabwe's judge president Rita Makarau had said sentencing people to
jail terms under the current situation was tantamount to passing death
sentences on them. Film footage, shot secretly in the prisons, alerted the
world to the dire conditions faced by the starving prisoners, and
humanitarian groups sent in supplies of water, food, clothing and medicines.
Reports say the rate of deaths has since dropped from three to two per
week. Former prisoner Costa Vinyu (19) said he would rather brave poverty in
the outside world than steal and go back to the life he had experienced
during the 10 months of his incarceration. "Life was so unbearable inside.
Our prisons are not places one should go back to. Diseases were rampant and
hunger was persistent," he said. "I thank god I survived the cholera
outbreak. Several of my friends died through the disease. Our cells were
always overcrowded. "Our diet only changed on July 12 this year, when the
Red Cross came in to donate foodstuffs. Before that, our meal times were
Tawanda Murodzi, another ex-inmate released after serving two years of
a five-year sentence, said inmates were constantly subjected to long periods
of starvation. "We could spend the whole day without eating anything," he
said. "Most of the time we would go up to 9pm without taking any meal. We
would then each be given a cup of boiled cabbage. The next morning we would
drink a lot of water to stave off hunger. "We experienced diseases such as
pellagra. We saw the whole cholera havoc wreck our jails. Colleagues died in
our midst. It was a question of when the disease would catch up with us,"
said Murodzi. Among those freed were women prisoners, those in open prisons
and life inmates who had served 20 or more years. The amnesty excluded
prisoners jailed for serious crimes, including murder, rape and vehicle

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Zapu rolls out campaign in Nkayi South

Written by Methuseli Moyo
Tuesday, 15 September 2009 11:52
ZAPU today, Tuesday September 15, 2009 rolled out is campaign
programme in Nkayi South Constituency, where a by-election is pending.
As you may be aware, the seat fell vacant after MDC-M expelled the
incumbent Abednico Bhebhe and notified the Speaker of Parliament, who in
turn notified the President to proclaim a by-election in Nkayi South,
together with Bulilima East and Lupane East, for similar reasons.

We await the President's proclamation of by-elections in these areas
and others. In the meantime, Zapu is busy on the ground mobilizing support
to ensure emphatic victory in the by-elections.
Zapu Matabeleland North province today started a five-day campaign
programme which kicked-off with meetings at Mthoniselwa and Simbo, followed
by meetings at Dlawa and Mphakama (16/09/09), Khenani and Mpumelelo
(17/09/09), Dakamela and Malinga (18-09-09), Tunke and Tshanke (19-09-09),
and Mathetshaneni and Zinyangeni (20-09-09).
The campaign team is led by vice-chairman of the province, Ben Ncube.
In Matabeleland South, Zapu will on Saturday September 19 2009 hold a
rally at Maphisa Business Centre in Matobo District to drum up support for
the party.
The Zapu interim national executive on September 05 reaffirmed its
decision for the party to contest by-elections, and called on the inclusive
government to ensure that the by-lections are held as spelt out in the
constitution. Zapu feels that Zanu-PF and the two MDCs are developing cold
feet on holding by-elections because of our entry into the political arena.
Zapu is fully ready for by-elections and confident of winning. The holding
of the by-elections will facilitate our entry into parliament to assume our
role as the official opposition in Zimbabwe, which unfortunately the
inclusive government seems bent on frustrating.
Thank you
Methuseli Moyo
Director Communication and Marketing, Zapu.

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Zimpapers launches another newspaper

September 15, 2009

By Our Correspondent

BULAWAYO - Zimbabwe Newspapers, the country's largest newspaper publishing
company, has launched yet another newspaper hard on the heels of a new
tabloid launched in Harare a fortnight ago.

The Midlands edition of The Chronicle, the company's Bulawayo-based daily,
will circulate in the Midlands province only. The government of Zimbabwe is
the majority shareholder in Zimpapers, a company whose weekly and daily
titles, including the flagship Herald in Harare have experienced a steep
decline in circulation going back to the early 1990s.

The company also publishes the Sunday Mail in Harare, The Sunday news in
Bulawayo and The Manica Post in the city of Mutare.

The launch of the Midlands Chronicle edition follows the controversial
launch of the H- Metro, a tabloid launched by the company in Harare two
weeks ago. Zimbabwe Newspapers has embarked on a spree to launch new titles
at a time when competition is limited by draconian media legislation which
requires that newspapers are registered with a government appointed
licencing authority.

The establishment of the Zimbabwe Media Council (ZMC) has experienced an
inordinate delay. The final list of people to sit on the council still has
to be compiled from names selected by a parliamentary select group. The
shortlist of candidates was submitted to President Robert Mugabe well over a
month ago.

Meanwhile, other media players such as the Associated Newspapers (ANZ),
ZimInd Publishers and The Financial Gazette, who have announced plans to
launch daily newspapers of their own, cannot proceed in the absence of an
enabling media legislative set-up. The Ministry of Information has
instructed them to wait for the establishment of the ZMC, which will then
issue them with licences.

Meanwhile, Zimpapers is forging ahead and launching new publications to
augment the reach of those already in existence.

But the launch of both the Midlands Chronicle and H- Metro has drawn sharp
criticism from media organizations. The Zimbabwe chapter of the Media
Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) has accused the Ministry of Information,
in particular, of granting operating licences to publications under the
Zimpapers stable while denying licences to other players.

MISA is a regional organisation which campaigns to promote free, independent
and pluralistic media in the southern African region. Based in Windhoek the
organisation operates through chapters established in SADC member countries.

"While as MISA we subscribe to the concept of media pluralism and diversity,
we cannot continue to accept a situation where one media giant only is
allowed to establish newspapers, disguising as editions while other players
are being denied licenses," said Loughty Dube, MISA-Zimbabwe chairperson.

Zimpapers argues that it has used existing licences to launch the papers.

In their heyday back in the 1980s The Herald and The Chronicle enjoyed
circulations of up to 165 000 and 115 000 copies sold daily, respectively.
As the Ministry of Information reduced them to mere propaganda mouthpieces
at a time of economic hardship the circulations nose-dived.

Insiders say The Herald circulation now hovers around 20 000 copies, with
The Chronicle selling much less than that figure. When new publications are
launched the fortunes of the government's newspapers will fall even further
in an atmosphere of stiff commercial competition.

When The Daily News was launched in 1999 the circulation of The Herald
declined from 165 000 to 50 000 copies a day within a year. The new
newspapers grew to 129 000 copies per day in that same period.

The printing press of The Daily News was then destroyed in a bomb explosion
soon after then Minister of Information, Prof Jonathan Moyo threatened the
paper with certain unspecified action. The newspaper was subsequently

The performance of The Herald and other Zimpapers titles continued on its
downward spiral. Meanwhile Moyo submitted an application to rejoin Zanu-PF
after four years in the political wilderness after he was dismissed from
government and the party in 2005.

Moyo's return to Zanu-PF at a time when Zimbabwe Newspapers is in the middle
of a newspaper launching campaign is viewed as ominous to the welfare of the

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Patients Forced to Attend "I Have A Dream" Rally

GUTU- September 15, 2009- There was drama at Zvavahera clinic on
Monday when people who were waiting to get medical attention were forced to
attend a Zanu PF rally where the party provincial chairman and losing Member
of Parliament (MP) for Gutu central constituency Lovemore Matuke wanted to
tell villagers about 'his dream'.

Matuke, who is a nephew to the late Vice President Simon Vengai
Muzenda who died in 2003, claimed he had a dream about Muzenda calling him
to 'take charge of the district'.

"The clinic was forced to close for more than two hours. The youths
clad in Zanu PF regalia who came singing and chanting party slogans
instructed the sister in charge at the clinic to put all operations on halt
claiming that Matuke had juicy news for the people.

In his address to the people, Matuke said the late VP Muzenda was
visiting him in dreams calling him to be the MP of the area. He said Muzenda's
spirit was not at ease because MDC has taken over the reigns in Gutu. Matuke
said Muzenda, through the spirits is calling for reversal of the inclusive

"It is very sad that MDC is now ruling here (in Muzenda's rural
village). Cde Muzenda never liked it. In my dreams I see my uncle everyday
calling me to take charge of the whole district. You made a blunder when you
voted Chirume (MDC MP) during last year's elections but when we go to the
next elections; you must not do that mistake again.

"Muzenda is against this issue of inclusive government. As you can
see, the government of national unity is having problems so we might have
elections soon, be prepared to correct your mistake," said Matuke.

From Zvavahera, Matuke went to other areas such as Magombedze and told
villagers the same story.

Contacted for comment, Matuke said there was nothing wrong for the
patients to attend the rally since they 'benefited from what Muzenda wants
them to understand'.

"...They (patients) benefited from my speech because there are some
important things that do not need interpreters. They were luck to get it
from the first hand," he said.

However, Edmore Maramwidze Hamandishe MP for Gutu North constituency
denounced Matuke saying he had resorted to desperate and barbaric methods of
soliciting for support.

"A former MP must not stoop that low. It was barbaric and unfortunate
desperate move to solicit for support. We condemn that in strongest terms
possible," said Hamandishe.

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Hot Seat: SADC and GNU analysis with Ozias Tungwarara


HOT SEAT: Analyst Ozias Tungwarara gives us his analysis on the outcome of the SADC summit and talks about the progress of the GNU, which he describes as a ‘marriage of convenience,’ with the partners sleeping in different bedrooms. Tungwarara also brings a different take to the controversial ‘sanctions’ issue, he says there may be good reasons now for their removal.

Broadcast: 11 September 2009

Violet Gonda: My guest on the Hot Seat programme is Ozias Tungwarara the Director of the Africa Governance Monitoring and Advocacy Project and a senior analyst for the Open Society Institute in SA and is here to give us his analysis on the just ended SADC Heads of State summit in Kinshasa and the progress of the coalition government in Zimbabwe. Now Mr Tungwarara let me start with your assessment of the outcome of the SADC summit in relation to Zimbabwe.

Ozias Tungwarara: Thank you Violet, and I can thank you for having me on your programme. In short, the SADC summit was disappointing but predictable. Disappointing in that it didn’t advance a lot of the issues that I think are at the heart of the expected transition in Zimbabwe.

Ozias Tungwarara

Predictable in that SADC’s track record has never been different when you look at where it has acted or where it has failed to act. And so one would want to put right at the forefront and on the table the issues around making sure that the government of national unity and the transitional period are made effective processes in terms of ensuring a democratic transition for Zimbabwe. We saw from the summit that the key pronouncements that were made were around lifting of sanctions and an acknowledgement to the fact that the implementation of the transitional arrangements and agreements were on track without evidence being advanced or any indication of benchmarks against which such an assessment and conclusion could be reached. So the mood you get especially from Zimbabweans right across the range from ordinary citizens to political elite is one of uncertainty in terms of knowing where we are going towards and whether these arrangements are actually leading up to any transformation or any change in terms of Zimbabwe’s political fortunes.

VG: SADC is widely seen as backing the Zanu-PF position, now I spoke with the MDC spokesperson, Nelson Chamisa and he said there’s still an inconclusive structure of government but there is this reluctance by SADC to approach things head on. He went on to say there’s an ostrich mentality of burying the head in the sand and that decisions and choices being made by SADC only look at one side. Do you agree with this assessment and also what role do you think SADC should be playing?

OT: I think it would be extremely unfortunate if Zimbabweans were to place a lot of expectations in terms of what SADC can do to resolve the Zimbabwean crisis. This I make in the context of the track history of SADC. SADC has only been galvanised into action where Zimbabweans themselves have taken it upon themselves to actually express their discontentment and their disdain in terms of how they are governed. So if you look a little bit back, SADC has been reluctant, because SADC essentially is a construction of executive arms of government and the way it has behaved is to take sides with their executive colleagues and it’s only when Zimbabwe failed to form a government, post the 2008 elections both parliamentary and presidential, that SADC was moved to recommend mediation. Previously when SADC was seized of the matter when opposition members were battered, beaten and tortured it was only then that SADC began to make some movement towards acknowledging that there was a crisis in Zimbabwe.

So the bottom line really is that to place a lot of expectation in the fact that SADC on its own, or left to its own processes and procedures will genuinely and effectively address the Zimbabwean crisis I think is a misplaced expectation. It’s only when Zimbabweans, either through civic action as was the case when opposition and civic movement people were beaten up or when Zanu-PF was rejected at the polls that SADC has come to realise that there is a crisis here, they need to intervene. So it comes back to actually Zimbabwean citizens taking up the issues and taking on head on those issues that really affect their governance and begin to deal with them. SADC, the African Union, the international community, the UN, the EU and all the other multi-lateral organisations can only come in as complementary to what Zimbabweans are actually demanding. So I think going into Kinshasa there were a lot of misplaced expectations that SADC had the will, the wherewithal and the commitment to actually assist Zimbabwean citizens resolve their problems.

VG: There are others who say it appears, or it seems the MDC have run out of options and that’s why they keep running to SADC for help. Do you agree with this?

OT: Not entirely. I think there are a lot of issues that are at play in this instance so you find that the MDC’s coming into existence was essentially to access and contest for state power. This is an issue that they have been blocked from left, right and centre in terms of a Zanu-PF strategy that essentially is structured and architectured around retaining control of state power, that allows political patronage, that allows continued looting of state resources, that allows continued retention of the security apparatus of the state. So whereas the MDC has been moving along on a trajectory of a change in the political agenda, a change that emphasises accountability to the majority of the citizens, especially if you look at the context where the MDC has arisen out of a labour movement and a workers’ movement which basically says we insist on the majority of the people being able to influence the political decision making. One could say the compromises that were made in the context of the government of national unity did erode some of the principles and normative frameworks upon which MDC was formed.

But then in politics, we need to acknowledge that it’s a game of compromises, you need to assess the situation, you need to be strategic, you need to be tactful and I think where we are it’s a very difficult situation for the MDC because the premise on which they entered into this compromise was one of executive power sharing and what we have seen in the recent past is indications that Zanu-PF, or key figures in Zanu-PF, are not interested at all in a power sharing arrangement and that the evidence that is coming through very clearly is that this is a buying time tactic that Zanu-PF has adopted. Zanu-PF has not shifted from its original conviction that whatever political dynamics are happening in Zimbabwe, they are influenced by an imperialist regime change agenda.
And so you find two diametrically opposed parties that have gone into a marriage of convenience but are sleeping in different bedrooms and therefore there won’t be any consummation of the government of national unity that would be productive - there won’t be any reproduction in this case. So this is what we are faced with in terms of the practical realities, historical context of where we are coming from that really erodes and minimises the potential for success for the government of national unity.

And when you look at the Herald, it has really continued on a vendetta to demonise, vilify and make foolish of any attempts at social reconciliation and these are things that could have been rectified with a sense of urgency but would have gone a long way to actually build a lot of political and social capital which in this instance, would have allayed some of the concerns and worries of those people who would want to be friends of Zimbabwe to actually come in and say we are able to assist because we are seeing genuine reconstruction, genuine reengagement and a shift from the intolerant, partisan parochial nationalism that has characterised how Zimbabweans are governed for more than a decade.

VG: And you say this is a delaying tactic by Zanu-PF, to achieve what?

OT: I think the honest issue we are faced with here and the reality is that it would be foolhardy to think that people who have exercised state authority, and primarily here we have known no other agencies or actors who have exercised state authority other than Zanu-PF, is the fact that they would want to retain state power at all cost. So you realise from statements that were recently being made for instance by the Zanu-PF administrator or secretary for administration, Didymus Mutasa that the power sharing agreement was never about power sharing - that goes really to the core of what this was all about. Because if SADC realised that there was a crisis in Zimbabwe and the crisis was around transfer of political power as a result of a botched election and that’s the premise on which the former president Thabo Mbeki was appointed to mediate between the different and opposing actors in Zimbabwe, then several months down the line a senior member in one of the principal parties, Zanu-PF, comes up and says this was not about power sharing it really explains that there is a sub-strategy that is underlying all this issue.

And in short I think for Zanu-PF the strategy is really to buy time in face of a situation where the nation was collapsing, were rapidly descending into a failed state and Zanu-PF realised they didn’t have the means to address the critical issues that were impacting on the population and therefore the compromise for them was to allow longevity in terms of retaining access to state resources. It’s evidenced as well in the continued looting of state assets, in the continued chaotic invasion under the mantra of the so-called land redistribution which has been demonstrated as catastrophic, reckless and a failure and the failure to prosecute people who are responsible for perpetrating heinous crimes of violence. The reason why these people have not been prosecuted or brought to justice is because it was sanctioned from the highest level. So all these issues about national healing, about reconstructing the economy, about restoration of the rule of law will come to nought because the underlying strategy is not one to move the country forward but one to maintain personal interests, hegemony of Zanu-PF and to continue looting the state as had happened in the last decade or so.

VG: And what about the MDC itself, do you think it has been weakened by the refusal of Zanu-PF to implement the power sharing deal fully?

OT: Probably not weakened because I think that the MDC as a political formation does have its own rationale and mandate which was not essentially premised on a compromise or a government of national unity but I think it does create a lot of vulnerabilities in terms of the MDC as a political formation because there are issues of principle here that are being trampled and you have a situation where the compromise was supposed to be for a short limited period in which mechanisms, processes and institutions that would have facilitated a transition to a democratic governing system where there was popular influence on decision making and political equality, but what we’re seeing now is a process where the transition is being made permanent.

You find a situation where MDC parliamentarians, at least if you look at the media reports, they are pushing for the sort of entrapments that Zanu-PF functionaries have been entitled to. You get fights over vehicles, you get fights over assumption of prestigious or lucrative positions and I think that the MDC would be better advised to concentrate on reengagement with the citizens at a very broad level and be extremely accountable in terms of whatever next step they take to their original constituencies. Because the perception one gets, and in politics perceptions easily becomes realities, is that all those who are in the government of national unity are fighting for eating positions, they are fighting for 4x4 vehicles, they are fighting for their comfortable lifestyle and I think there is something to be said about foregoing some of the trapments of a luxurious political lifestyle, to actually begin to reconnect or go back to reconnecting with the people and say here’s the reality we are facing, we need to move forward as a nation but as MDC we are committed to the cause of the people. But that is not evident now because they are all lumped into this unity government within which collective responsibility is difficult to practise because these are parties coming from different ideological and principle and value backgrounds and so it has to come to a point where the MDC has to make the hard choices around what is the image they want to portray in terms of representing the people who have put faith in their abilities to take them through a democratic transition.

VG: Lately all we are hearing, especially from the Zanu-PF camp is the issue of ‘sanctions’ - the removal of ‘sanctions’ and as you mentioned earlier on in the programme, that’s all we heard from SADC. What are your thoughts on this, are there merits for their removal?

OT: Definitely there are. I think it’s one of the range of threats that threaten Zimbabwe’s economic, social and political survival, it’s failure to deliver on the economic front and needless to say, that economic restrictions, economic sanctions are having an impact on Zimbabwe trying to attract foreign investment. But I think the problem is around the fact that SADC now comes up with a position where it seems like Zanu-PF and the previous regime do not bear any responsibility for attracting the current economic restrictions that we face and yet the reality of the matter is that the sanctions - and these are very calibrated, they’re at different levels, you get the personal sanctions targeted at Zanu-PF officials, people who are presiding over a oppressive process, you get sanctions that are emanating from US government policy in terms of the Zimbabwe Economic and Democracy Recovery Act, you get EU imposed sanctions which were attracted for a variety of reasons and a lot of these - in fact the bulk of the blame actually is on the Zanu-PF government that in the light and glare of the international community, it went ahead to abuse very visibly, its citizens rights and a lot of other peoples rights.

And so until and when Zanu-PF begin to realise that it shoulders the blame for attracting sanctions on Zimbabwe it should not begin to push the blame on to the MDC to say you were calling for sanctions because at no point did the MDC call for sanctions on Zimbabwe. It was the very act of the Zimbabwean government, prompted by a misguided policy of splendid isolation where at some point the President himself was saying to hell with the west, we have a look east policy, and these are our friends. What has changed now that begins to urge the Zimbabwean government to say sanctions should be lifted? So until and when responsibility is taken on the part of Zanu-PF, I mean there are simple things where you begin to open up the media, you begin to make your judiciary non-partisan that in and of itself will simply indicate that these are serious people who are intended on reforming and that this notion of continued hammering on regime change conspiracy theory will not save the country.

And I think this is where a pragmatic, practical realisation of what the responsibilities on the part of Zanu-PF are, need to strike home and I think SADC needs to take that on board and not simply hammer on lift sanctions but also acknowledge that Zanu-PF, President Mugabe and his coterie of advisors have a serious responsibility to reverse all the policies, the reckless and irresponsible policies that they have presided over, to create good will and good faith that they are serious about addressing the mistakes that they have made in the past. It’s only that I think that the whole international community, the development partners who are willing to assist Zimbabwe will begin to see genuine signs of reformation and people begin to come in and reengage.

VG: I actually spoke to Gorden Moyo, the Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s office last week and he says there are no sanctions, or there are no economic sanctions on Zimbabwe and that Zimbabwe is still trading with some of these countries like the US and the countries in Europe, so are you saying there are sanctions on Zimbabwe?

OT: I would say there are sanctions because if a powerful economic actor like the US has restrictions, whether they are at a personal level or whether it is through the influence that it has in the multi-lateral financing institutions like the IMF and the World Bank, there is a radiating effect in terms of investor confidence, so you find a situation where if a whole coterie of Zanu-PF functionaries are targeted in terms of their repressive behaviour and conduct, I as an investor would think twice before I go in there because I’m going to say if an economic giant such as the US find it too risky to deal with these guys then I’m going to obviously have a very measured interaction.

So there is a radiating effect to that extent but you are right and I think that Gorden Moyo is right that in the strict terms of direct economic sanctions that actually say no trade between the EU, between EU nations and Zimbabwe, that may not be the case but still, you want to access as much capital as you can and private sector which is a big driver of foreign direct investment takes its cue from actually the key political players. So IMF if it is saying because of restrictions by the US government we cannot advance the financial package to Zimbabwe, it does have an effect and indeed there is that effect. So my position would be that yes the economic restrictions are having an adverse effect in terms of how people perceive Zimbabwe and once you are perceived as a failing nation it takes a while to rebuild that credibility and it needs the big players to begin coming in and restoring that confidence so probably the effect of the sanctions may not be direct but they are radiating and quite impactive.

VG: Now views are divided on what the international community should do about this issue as some feel that removing the restrictions would be rewarding the ruling elite for not having done anything to change. In your view, what approach do you think the countries that have imposed these restrictions should take?

OT: My honest view would be that there is need now for a level of risk taking because as has been said, particularly if you look at the 1992 successful campaign of a former US President Bill Clinton that ‘It’s the economy, stupid’. The basis on which the unity government is going to fail is that it will not meet people’s expectations. We are already seeing that in terms of failure to pay adequate and justifiable salaries for civil servants, teachers, nurses, doctors and so I think it requires some sort of innovation, some sort of risk taking but accompanied by measures that will ensure that as soon as there are indications that inflowing resources are being used for further repression the situation is corrected.

So here we are talking of a situation where when the government of national unity came into being, they estimated that they needed eight billion to just normalise things and there was a lot of expectation, there was the acknowledgement for instance that the Zimbabwean currency was non-existent, it was simply providing more misery than relief to the ordinary citizens and then therefore they moved to accept multiple currencies, the rand, the dollar and so on. But we are getting to a situation where we are plateauing, we are getting to a situation where very soon where the government will not be able to meet the heightened expectations and when that happens the people are going to be disillusioned.

So I think the international community does have a responsibility despite the concerns and genuine fears that resources may actually be diverted towards sustaining a repressive mechanism, to have a robust approach where resources are channelled to assist the vital sectors and make sure that there is a system of benchmarking where actually those resources are then applied to the relevant and requisite areas of concern. And unless there is that maintenance of a balance I’m afraid that continued reluctance and resistance by development partners to increase significantly resource inflows will grossly undermine the government of national unity which incidentally, development partners have expressed confidence in, they are saying this is the only way that Zimbabwe can transition and I think that it behooves them to take that level of risk taking and engage even in an unsatisfactory environment.

VG: What about that other issue, about rewarding Zanu-PF’s bad behaviour because those who support the stance taken by the west say Zanu-PF deliberately refuses to meet the minimum conditions set by those countries, for instance on the issue of restoring the rule of law, Zanu-PF still refuses to budge and critics ask what guarantees are there that Zanu-PF will behave this time?

OT: I’m not advocating for a blanket removal of the restrictions and the economic constraints that have been imposed because those were imposed for very specific, particular and very clear reasons especially in terms of the way the Zanu-PF government was behaving by way of not respecting what are accepted standards in terms of dealing with your political opponents. But what I am saying is that there is need again for further compromises. You can go in with a structured engagement that ensures that the moment that there are signals of continued or escalated repression, then you have a fall back plan which can help you bring the culprits to book. But at the moment what we have seen is that whereas the development partners are generally acknowledging that the government of national unity or the Global Political Agreement does present an opportunity for transformation there is much more hesitancy in terms of a level of risk taking that allows you to engage even at a limited and calibrated level with the different actors. Because the reality of the matter really Violet is that Zanu-PF is not going to go away any time soon, they are going to continue to be a player on the political front and I think it needs some robust and much more flexible approach to engage the different actors in a constructed way but a constructed way that is in the context of a normative framework that gives respect to the fundamental rights for which pro-democracy forces in Zimbabwe have been fighting for.

But I’m afraid to say that the reaction of the predominantly development partners up to this stage has been one of extreme caution and in some instance clear resistance to exploring viable ways of engaging the different partners and making sure that the thing that they support, the Global Political Agreement does actually work in the end. As I said earlier, it’s a lot of risk taking, it’s a lot of thinking out of the box but I think much more needs to be done in terms of that re-engagement.

VG: OK, I’m afraid we have to end here. Thank you very much Ozias Tungwarara for speaking to us on the programme Hot Seat.

OT: OK, thank you Violet.

Feedback can be sent to

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JAG - farms situations communique - Dated 14 September 2009

Email: :

JAG Hotlines: +263 (011) 610 073, +263 (04) 799410.  If you are in
trouble or need advice, please don't hesitate to contact us - we're here
to help!


1. KARORI Farm update



Brigadier Mujaji has stolen four tractors and all our seedbeds.  He has
now planted our seedlings in lands we prepared and fertilized.

Our workers have been denied access to food now for two weeks.  In
desperation they tried to access the premises but the soldiers opened
fire and shot one worker in the hand by ricochet.  We have tried to move
our crops and equipment off the farm but we are now being denied this by
the army.  The lorry drivers were threatened with death by the soldiers
if they attempted to move any of our goods.  The police have supported
the fact that we can move our crops and equipment as it belongs to me and
they have tried to send staff to the scene to help but the soldiers have
threatened them and they left waiting further instruction from their
superiors.  We are waiting to see now what happens.  It is one thing
taking land, but another stealing crops, equipment, and shooting innocent
people through force of arms by our own national army.

Charles Lock - Headlands



Latest tactics is to add more land onto his allocation and threatened to
take the farm equipment on "his" side of the fence he is to erect.   This
is the pump house and main transformer

He had a bunch of Vapostori yesterday showing them the pump house in
great detail.

 We hear he is allocating plots to these guys and more..  as  he is not a

The Milling shed is progressing at Hunters front gate next to the main

We got a letter signed at Marondera yesterday to confirm all the
transformers were in our name.

Other issues are in the pipe line, remain Clandestine at this moment

Well the weekend saw more sand for the mill by Shumba and he has put in
heaps of poles for the fence on the side of the strip road where he has
decided to claim more land !

He still controls the pump house and the river pump which has been
wasting huge amounts of water under his control or Rather lack of control

We have not done any land prep for the coming season as we are unsure
what is happening on the farm


 Well the weekend saw more sand for the mill by Shumba and he has put in
haeps of poles for the fence on the side of the strip road where he has
decided to claim more land !

He still controls the pump house and the river pump which has been
wasting huge ammounts of water unfder his control or Rather lack of

We have not done any land prep for the coming season as we are unsure
what is happening on the farm

Dennis Lapham - Enterprise

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Harare diary: Almost normal
Tuesday, 15 September 2009 14:38 UK

Herald newspaper front page one year ago

Esther (not her real name), 29, is a professional living and working in Zimbabwe's capital, Harare.

She describes how she is feeling one year since her country's opposing political leaders agreed to share power.

It seems far, far away. Life has just changed so much.

Now I can walk into any supermarket and buy one cake of soap, because I know that when I need another one, the shops will still have it

Yes, we remember how life was really tough, people were killed, they were arrested, they disappeared for supporting the opposition or for being suspected of doing so.

Supermarket shelves were empty, cash was more precious than gold, running water and power were scarce (still are I guess though), kids were not going to school (some of them still are not) and government hospitals were actually shut down.

I remember the heavy, intimidating police presence in the capital.

Thinking about it and writing it brings it all back and makes it feel raw.

We lived through hell.

'Dwelling on it will kill you'

But we survived, or at least some of us did.

bus driver collecting fares
Zimbabwean dollars can only be used to pay for a fare these days

And as is human nature, we have blocked out the horrors and are moving forward.

Yes it happened, yes it was terrible, but dwelling on it will kill you.

I suppose it is different for those who were eyewitnesses to or victims of the atrocities, and those who lost a spouse, a parent, a child, a sibling, a friend.

I suppose it is harder for them to put the past behind them. I'm sure for them it is still raw.

And it cannot help that the politicians decided to let bygones be bygones. Can you imagine having to live next door to the person who beat you, or torched your belongings, or came with the group that abducted your loved one, knowing that they will never face justice on this earth?

'One cake of soap'

Working with a multi-currency system is a little confusing. Initially business had decided to use a 1:10 rate for working out prices in US$/South African rand but lately the rand has strengthened so much that this is no longer practical.

I think the rate most are using now is 1:7.5, which means if you are going to use rand for a purchase you had better have a calculator with you.

My mum, my sister and I were just saying this weekend how shopping has become fun again.

You can basically buy whatever foodstuffs you want. Gone are the days when you had to go down to South Africa for sugar, salt, soap, cooking oil etc.

Back then we shopped like we wanted to open little corner stores - everything was bought by the carton.

Now I can walk into any supermarket and buy one cake of soap, because I know the when I need another one, the shops will still have it.

Zimbabwean normal

It is great for the budget - you need to have lived here through 2006, 2007 and 2008 to get me here - it is such a joy.

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and his second wife, Grace, at Zanu-PF party youth conference
Esther says the politicians seem to be letting bygones be bygones

The only time you see Zimbabwean dollars is whilst travelling by public transport. The operators still accept them for fares because there are so few foreign coins around and a single fare costs 50 US cents.

Three trillion Zimbabwe dollars is the amount you hand over. For everything else, the money is useless.

All salaries and wages are now paid in US dollars, all vendors sell their wares in US dollars, and so everyone making an honest living is doing so in US dollars.

Some companies are still paying their employees via envelopes to avoid the high taxation rate. Most though are paid through bank transfers. Yes, banks are working.

All the people I know, however, do not keep their money in the bank. They withdraw it all on pay day, or the day after, and keep the cash at home. The reason given is: "For as long as Gideon Gono is governor of the reserve bank, you never know what will happen to your money or your bank."

And that is not something you can just dismiss.

And so, life is normal - for Zimbabwe in a Zimbabwean way.

I would love to be able to sit down with my bank manager and discuss financing so I can buy a house and a new car, and open a boutique for the young, trendy career woman.

I would love for that to be my normal but it is not. Not yet anyway.

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PRESS RELEASE: Rapid Assessment of Primary andSecondary Education


14th Floor, Ambassador House, 2nd St/G Silundika, Harare 797110/735633/011739049

Chairman Dr Isaiah Sibanda

Press Release  - 15 September 2009


The National Education Advisory Board, appointed in March this year, released its “Report on the Rapid Assessment of Primary and Secondary Education in Zimbabwe” yesterday at a Stakeholders Conference held at Prince Edward School, Harare.  The Assessment was funded by the European Commission, represented at the launch by Ms Barbara Plinkert, Head of the Social Sector.  This was the first task requested by Minister David Coltart, in order to have reliable data on which to base the work of reconstruction of the education sector.


Among other findings in the sample 120 schools throughout the country, over 20% of primary schools had not a single textbook for English, Mathematics or African language – even for the teacher!  Large numbers of pupils in rural areas had no place to sit or write.  School buildings, teachers’ houses, furniture etc were generally dilapidated.  Many schools had not been visited for years by Ministry officials due to lack of resources.  Examination results were generally poor, teacher morale was low and the relationship between teachers and parents had deteriorated.


The Conclusions were as follows:


“The Rapid Assessment focused on a number of problem areas and challenges which require immediate attention.  Despite the limitations of a study done in such a short space of time, it provided a snapshot of the situation and the immediate steps needed to stabilize and improve the situation of education as a whole.  At the same time, it made clear that a more in-depth approach is needed in the longer term.  For example major inputs are required to improve the condition and morale of teachers who will always remain key players within the education system.  These include repairing the damaged status of teachers and the problematic relationship which has developed between parents and teachers due to the fact that parents, including very poor parents, were forced by circumstances to take over responsibility for teachers’ remuneration during the period when the State was unable to fulfill its obligations in this regard.  The staffing and resourcing of the MOESAC have been seriously affected, and need both re-structuring and updating.  The shortage of resources for the education sector has to be seriously addressed and stabilized primarily by the State, assisted by donors and parents.  At the same time, there has been major erosion of educational infrastructure which needs to be addressed.  The provision of teaching learning materials has deteriorated to the extent that the industries servicing the education sector are no longer able to do so optimally.”


The Report includes a number of recommendations on the way forward, divided into urgent recommendations to Ministry not requiring additional expenditure and those requiring additional funding, medium-term recommendations to Ministry and recommendations to Partners…ENDS

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The Mousetrap

The farmer’s wife was tired of waking up every morning to find her freshly baked bread munched by a mouse. Infuriated, she again pleaded with her husband to get her a mousetrap – chirimbani or riva. The farmer obliged and set four traps on his wife’s kitchen floor

Mouse was watching from his vantage point and immediately ran to the cattle kraal to ask for help. There he found Mr Cockerel, scratching the earth for worms. He asked  Mr Cockerel, “Please come and help me dismantle the trap in the farmer’s kitchen,” he appealed. 

“No, why should I? It’s called a mouse trap not a chicken trap. It is your problem, not mine,” Cockerel responded cynically.

Dejected, the mouse left and went to Mr Bull who was lying in the shade chewing cud. “Mr Bull, please may you come and help me?” Before he could finish, Mr Bull had bellowed telling him to go away, it was not his problem either. Mouse’s last resort was to go to the pig sty. There he found the Mr Boar wallowing in the mud, and he too was not interested in diffusing a mouse trap. 

That evening, a black mamba chased the mouse that ran into the kitchen toward the mouse trap. The black mamba was caught instead, and the commotion woke up the farmer’s wife who took her broom stick to finish off what she thought was the mouse caught in the trap. 

In the dark, she grabbed the mamba’s tail assuming it was the mouse, and the mad mamba wiggled, turned and mercilessly drove his venomous fangs into her forearm. 

The farmer was awoken by the scream, and rushed to help his wife who had already fainted. He killed the snake and immediately went to summon his in-laws. He then went to the fowl run and killed Mr Cockerel for his in-laws lunch as they tried to nurse his wife. Realising that she wasn’t going to live long, he then went to the pig sty and killed Mr Boar so that he could feed all the relatives who were shortly to arrive. The farmers wife eventually died from the snake bite, and the farmer then slaughtered Mr Bull to feed the entire village. 

The mouse was left standing. If only all those domestic farm animals had helped him with the mousetrap, the farmer’s wife would be alive today and they wouldn’t have been eaten. 

In Zimbabwe, when the ZANU (PF) government targeted farmers for eviction, harassment and  murder, industrialists, retailers, bankers and most city folks ignored the plight of the commercial farmer and even more so that of the farm workers.

 “It’s the farmers’ problems; ZANU (PF) does not want a bank, supermarket, hotel or factory,” so the city dwellers thought. “Besides, the land issue is about redressing a colonial imbalance,” they rationalised, “Mugabe only wants land, not buildings, houses or businesses.” 

When ZANU (PF) took the first black and white owned farms, Zimbabweans stood by and watched. The country observed with its eyes wide shut and no one went to the farmer’s aid. Then ZANU (PF) misappropriated black owned banks and sycophantic supporters applauded with a deafening silence to the printing of money and handouts from the RBZ.

For as long as ZANU (PF) pilfers  private citizens' property and criminalises the owners, progressive Zimbabweans should now circle their wagons and boycott  institutions that  were acquired through violence, crime and political blackmail.  No more afternoon tea and scones at the Meikles and no more banking at CFX, ZABG, ZB & others. "ukadziya moto wembavha newewo watovambavha"

Nothing is safe from the marauding gangsters in Zimbabwe anymore, alas, who shall be left standing?

Phil Matibe -

"An army of sheep led by a lion will defeat an army of lions led by a sheep"

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Zimbabwe has become a nation of churches

Perhaps faith is all that people have left to cling to in Zimbabwe’s on going turbulent times? Congregations of all denominations are taking over every large empty buildings, defunct cinemas, theatres, barns, factories, and warehouses, and people congregate to worship even under large shady trees.

Sundays reverberate with joyous music and on Friday nights more people are in church than in pubs. Church conventions in Zimbabwe gather extraordinary crowds: thousands and thousands of people gather together to worship and pray for entire weekends of devoutness.

The new charismatic churches appear to hold more for the bewildered populace than the older established churches like the Church of England, the Catholic, and the Presbyterian churches.

Many struggling theatres and businesses make their main income from hiring out their premises to church groups on Sundays, and instead of pantomimes, operas, or farces, these auditoriums resound to the sound of people praying, or speaking in tongues, and many are the voices of the poor who have little else to do except pray that their lives will take on a different turn.

The pastors and leaders of these churches are enigmatic and charismatic, and their voices sweep loudly through the cities on Saturdays and Sundays exhorting their congregations to trust the Lord and follow His path to righteousness and fulfillment.

One of the largest sects is a group of men and women who gather under trees wherever they can, in vast numbers, staves in hand; they are from the Zionist Church.

With more than a million followers in Zimbabwe and lead by Bishop Nehemiah Mutendi, his followers still pray under the shade of trees, even in the metropolitan cities of Harare, Zimbabwe’s capital and Bulawayo, the second largest city. The leaders sit on chairs or benches, if the tree is near the house of one of the better-off followers.

But in most cases, men sit on stones while women sit on mats or rags. Some men bring their own portable stools. Doctors, lawyers and managing directors, with their latest four-by-fours parked close by, have to kneel on the hard earth together with their poorer colleagues, all clad in cheap, blue uniforms similar to those won by security guards, who rank among the most poorly paid workers in Zimbabwe, where the church headquarters is.

Other religious sects also use trees as their temples, and long lines of white or blue clad worshippers can be seen making their quiet way to commune with their God in whatever places they can to find peace in prayer.

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