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MPs' Double Greed

Saturday, 19 September 2009 22:10
MPs from across the political divide who were loaned top-of-the-range
vehicles by the Reserve Bank are now refusing to return them even after they
got US$30 000 loans to buy their own cars.

RBZ lent 50 previously used vehicles to the MPs while waiting for the
Ministry of Finance to revive a government loan scheme for parliamentarians.

The government angered Zimbabweans when it agreed to provide the MPs
US$30 000 each to buy new cars at a time the unity government was struggling
to raise money for basic services and salaries for civil servants.

The majority of the MPs had by last week taken delivery of the new
vehicles bought from several car dealers in Harare but continued to hold on
to the RBZ cars.

This means that they will have two cars during their five-year terms,
which is unprecedented.

Sources said the MPs were now demanding that the RBZ cars be sold to
them at book value.

"We must be given these cars for free or at least the RBZ should sell
them to us at book value because we spent the whole of last year without
salaries," said one MP.

"In fact, there are already high-level talks concerning this matter.
That's why we have not rushed to return the cars."

The MDC-T led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai ordered its MPs who
had taken delivery of the RBZ cars to return them as Finance Minister,
Tendai Biti insisted the central bank had overstepped its mandate.

But 21 MPs defied the directive. Zanu PF chief whip, Joram Gumbo
refused to comment on the fresh demands by the MPs, referring all questions
to Mberengwa East MP Makhosini Hlongwane.

Hlongwane, who chairs an inter-party MPs' welfare committee which
negotiated the RBZ deal did not return several calls on his mobile phone.

He also failed to respond to questions texted to him yesterday. Zanu
PF MPs were the major beneficiaries.

However, RBZ governor Gideon Gono, who is out of the country said no
decision had been made on the cars.

"That is not true. No decision has been taken regarding the request
from MPs to that effect," he said.

"The granting of these cars on a loan basis was a board (RBZ)
decision. The term of office of that board expired and no new board has been
appointed yet.

"Once a new board is in place, the request from MPs will be tabled and
a collective decision of that new board will be communicated to the MPs
through their welfare committee.

"Until then, the status quo remains."

But an MDC-T MP who was forced to return his car said the party
suspected that Gono might want to use the cars to buy the support of MPs in
his on-going battle with Biti.

Biti is expected to steer through Parliament, the RBZ Amendment Bill
2009 that seeks to ensure the central bank concentrates on its core
business, which Gono has forcefully opposed.

Yesterday Gono said the controversy over the MPs' vehicles was merely
a "storm in a tea cup".

"It is clearly and firmly a board matter not a Gono or Biti versus MPs
matter and there are internal mechanisms for consultations and input or
advice from the Minister of Finance. But that is between the Minister and
myself to deal with at the appropriate time.

"Any other view or position outside the said board decision when it is
eventually taken is just wishful thinking - null and void regardless of who
is saying it."

Biti was not immediately available for comment yesterday.


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Civil Servants' Strike Looms as Zimta Makes U-turn

Saturday, 19 September 2009 22:03
A crippling civil servants strike is looming after government last
week reneged on an agreement to meet unions to discuss fresh salary demands.

But the Zimbabwe Teachers' Association (Zimta) made a dramatic u-turn
yesterday and called off its three-week-old strike accusing Zanu PF of
trying to "hijack" the job action meant to force the seven-month-old
government to award them another salary increment.

The Zimta move follows widespread reports that Zanu PF militias were
threatening teachers especially in rural areas who had ignored the call for
a job boycott by the association.

Government representatives two weeks ago asked for 14 working days to
consult their principals on the salary dispute before they could agree on
new figures.

The deadline lapsed last week.

Public Service Association (PSA) executive secretary Emmanuel
Tichareva last week said they were "increasingly coming under pressure" from
their restive constituency to call for a strike.

He said if the government fails to address the salary dispute this
week all civil servants will down tools in protest.

"If we fail to meet next week or fail to resolve our differences that
means we would have reached a deadlock," said Tichareva. " This means

dialogue would have failed and we will join our colleagues who are
already in the trenches."

Civil servants and government representatives were supposed to have
met last week under the National Joint Council (NJNC), which operates under
the Ministry of Public Service to deliberate on the issue of salaries.

But government representatives said they could not come for the
meeting as they were still consulting with their principals.

Some civil servants told The Standard last week that they had already
started a go-slow in protest at the slow pace of the salary negotiations.

The PSA wants entry level salaries of US$402 a month with another
US$100 for housing and transport allowance.

Civil servants, who started getting a US$100 allowance in February
when the inclusive government abandoned Zimbabwe dollar, are now earning
US$150 a month beginning July.

The teachers' association was demanding a salary increment of US$500,
up from about US$150.

Prince Mupazviriyo, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Youth,
who is also the spokesperson for government representatives in the NJNC,
could not be reached for comment.

However, the government, which is battling to raise revenue through
taxes, has indicated that it would be able to increase salaries for civil
servants including teachers.

Public Service Minister Eliphas Mukonoweshuro could not be reached for
comment last week.

But Minister of Finance Tenadi Biti recently ruled out an increment
for civil servants soon saying the government was operating on limited cash
resources with "little fiscus space" to manoeuvre.

"Unless there is a dramatic improvement in the economy and revenue
improves by 300%, we have no fiscal space for a salary increment at the
moment," he said.

Biti appealed to all civil servants for patience while the national
economy grew and tax revenue rose.
The government in July recorded its highest revenue inflows this year
of about US$90 million, he said, but 65 % of this was gobbled up by

Biti said: "We paid around US$52 million for civil servants' salaries
and the rest has to go to hospitals for drugs, the various embassies across
the world, food and inputs for agricultural activities among other

The Finance Minister said there were 236 000 civil servants and if all
were paid the lowest desired wage of US$400, government would have to fork
out more than US$94 million a month.

Zanu PF has been accused of trying to destabilise the fragile unity
government and Zimta is viewed as its long time ally.

Zimta president, Tendai Chikowore yesterday told journalists they had
received reports that Zanu PF was intimidating teachers in Mashonaland East,
Manicaland and Masvingo.

"It has come to the attention of Zimta that some political elements
have taken advantage of the genuine cause to ride on the strike," she said.
"In some cases, these elements have brutalised our members.

"We received reports that some soldiers in Rusape and Makoni East were
beating up non-Zimta members who were reporting for duty while some Zanu PF
youths in Gutu were chasing students away from school."

She said a Zimta national executive committee meeting on Friday
evening decided to call off the strike with effect from tomorrow.

Teachers were demanding a minimum salary of US$501 a month.

Education, Sport, Arts and Culture Minister David Coltart yesterday
said he was "delighted" to hear that Zimta had called off the strike.

"I commend them for their patriotism and acting in the interest of
children," he said. "I assure teachers that I will continue to do whatever I
can to address their genuine concerns."

He hoped the teachers will use the little remaining time to prepare
children for their pubic examinations.

Chikowore also accused some teachers of taking advantage of the strike
to milk money from desperate parents.

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Mugabe Slams Vote-buying in Zanu PF

Saturday, 19 September 2009 21:58
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe yesterday lashed out at his lieutenants whom
he accused of using money to gain leadership positions as Zanu PF's
factional fighting turned violent at the just-ended women's conference.
Closing the three-day Women's League Conference that was marred by violence,
Mugabe said there were some senior politicians who were using money and
their influence to have their friends elected into leadership positions.

"We are not all that clean even in the central committee and
politburo. We want the women's league to be set in an objective manner,"
Mugabe said.

On Friday security details seriously assaulted delegates to the Zanu
PF Women's League Conference as the women tried to force their way into the
conference venue where a new executive was being elected.

Two women, Regina Tsuro and Joice Khumbula both from Manicaland
Province, fell unconscious after being assaulted and the subsequent

They were rushed on stretchers to a make-shift clinic .

Tsuro, who was seriously injured, was rushed to Parirenyatwa Hospital
in an ambulance, a sister-in-charge at the clinic confirmed.

Police officers - some of them in plain clothes - were seen beating up
the delegates with batons and folded chairs.

The women delegates, some as old as 60 years, fell on each other as
they fled.

Khumbula regretted coming to the conference.

"I should have stayed home had I known. I nearly died," she said as
she was fed on sadza and beef soup soon after regaining consciousness.

At least 15 injured delegates were treated at the make-shift clinic.

The women claimed they were barred from entering the conference hall
because they supported Oppah Muchinguri, the current Zanu PF women's league

Earlier women allegedly supporting Muchinguri and Olivia Muchena, the
new secretary for the commissariat, had fought with chairs in tents just
outside the conference hall and calling each other "sell-outs".

Muchena is believed to be plotting with Vice-President Joice Mujuru
the downfall of Muchinguri, whose position is by appointment by party leader

Due to disagreement structured along factional lines, the women's
league failed to fill up posts for gender and culture, and for finance after
Mashonaland West delegates could not agree on candidates to be nominated.

Muchinguri bemoaned the violence that rocked the conference saying
factionalism was not healthy for the party.

"We saw women throwing chairs at each other. Some broke arms, others
are in hospital.

We should leave this place as reformed people who can sort out their
differences amicably," Muchinguri told the 3 000 delegates who attended the

Mugabe singled out Harare and Mashonaland West provinces for special

He also urged his supporters to be wary of non-governmental
organisations (NGOs) calling them zvipfukuto (grain borers) receiving
foreign funding to effect regime change in the country.

"Watch out! Watch out! And take care of the maneouvers of these NGOs.
Know your people," Mugabe said.

But for nearly a decade Zimbabwe, once the breadbasket of Southern
Africa, has been relying on food aid from NGOs following the disruption of
the agricultural sector as a result of farm invasions.

The 85-year-old leader accused the MDC of being reluctant to call for
an end to sanctions which he said were the cause of the suffering that
Zimbabweans are experiencing.

He said sanctions were the "greatest sticking point" and not the
reappointment of central bank governor Gideon Gono and appointment of
Attorney-General Johannes Tomana.

"It's baffling that they (EU) can reduce themselves to that level to
come from Europe to talk about Gono and Tomana.

"I have said havaendi kana zviite sei. (They will not go come what
may)," Mugabe declared.


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MDC-T 'Consults' Members on GNU

Saturday, 19 September 2009 17:30
THE MDC formation led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai yesterday
took the debate on its continued participation in the inclusive government
to its grassroots, as the party and Zanu PF continue to disagree on
outstanding issues.

The grassroots consultations come after a number of high-level party
meetings failed to come up with a clear position on the future of the
inclusive government.

It has been reported that the party's officials are divided on their
continued stay in the inclusive government.

Some members of the national council and national executive are
understood to be pushing for a complete withdrawal, a position that has
received resistance from Tsvangirai and some of his lieutenants.
MDC-T national spokesperson, Nelson Chamisa yesterday said the
meetings were to allow members of the public to give their views on whether
or not the inclusive government "is still a worthy project".

Nine major rallies and 35 ward consultations - in mostly community
halls - will be held. Senior party officials addressed rallies in Kariba and
Masvingo yesterday.

"We are simply throwing the argument to the people," said Chamisa,
"updating them on the current state of things and allowing them to share
their views.

"We want to hear from them whether they think it is worthy for us to
continue in the inclusive government. Do they think this is a worthy

Of late, pressure has been mounting on Tsvangirai to get tough with
Mugabe over the failure to resolve outstanding issues of the inclusive

They include the appointment of provincial governors and the continued
stay in office of Attorney-General Johannes Tomana and Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono.

It is understood some members of his party believe the former trade
unionist is not tough enough with his old rival, Mugabe. But Chamisa
yesterday insisted there were no divisions in the party.

"This talk about divisions is just some people's imagination. There is
unanimity, but whenever we are about to take a crucial position we go back
to the people," added Chamisa.

He was on his way to Gaza Business Centre in Buhera North where he was
expected to address one of the rallies.

Last weekend, the MDC national council met in Bulawayo and resolved
that the party should consult and engage its structures on the future of the
unity government.


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Unicef Halts Supply of Water Chemicals

Saturday, 19 September 2009 17:16
BULAWAYO - The United Nations will this month stop supplying free
water treatment chemicals to municipalities countrywide.

The move, coming at a time when local authorities are still struggling
to break even following the dollarisation of the economy, is likely to
resurrect fears of another cholera outbreak.

Unicef started supplying local authorities with the chemicals at the
height of the cholera epidemic that killed over 4 200 people countrywide.

The UN agency last month notified all councils that it will stop
supplies on September 30, according to a recent report by the Bulawayo City

"Unicef has written to all local authorities notifying them that their
programme of supplying water treatment chemicals will end on September 30,
2009," council's Future Water Supplies and Water Action committee said in a
report tabled at a full council meeting.

Unicef spokesperson Tsitsi Singizi confirmed that the arrangement to
supply the municipalities would end next week but said the agency was
negotiating with the government on how the contract can be extended in light
of the new cholera threat.

We are in dialogue with the government to ensure that no city
requiring chemical will go without," she said.

"As Unicef we know the importance of safe water especially as we
approach the cholera season and we want to assure the public that there will
not be a premature halt to support access to safe water."

Bulawayo mayor Thaba Moyo said council was now looking for new
supplies to avert water shortages that have become a permanent feature in
the country's second largest city.

"The deliveries we got from Unicef recently will last us till
December," Moyo said in an interview.

"The council has however started looking for new sources for the
chemicals after we got this notification."
Lack of water treatment chemicals was cited by aid agencies as one of
the underlying causes of the devastating cholera outbreak last year.

Councillors said the dangers of a repeat of the epidemic are still
lurking since underlying causes of the outbreak have not been addressed.


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Holland Meets Matabele Chiefs over Violence Gaffe

Saturday, 19 September 2009 17:12
BULAWAYO - National Healing minister, Sekai Holland has met chiefs in
Matabeleland to clarify her comments insinuating that the culture of
violence in Zimbabwe started with Mzilikazi, the Ndebele King.

Holland has been at the centre of a political storm since she
allegedly told a regional dialogue on agriculture and the environment in
Maputo early this month that King Mzilikazi and his "mob" of thugs were more
brutal than white settlers.

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's recent tour of Matabeleland to
explain the operations of the unity government was overshadowed by calls for
action to be taken against the minister.

Last week, MDC-T officials said Holland met Ndebele paramount chief
Khayisa Ndiweni at the weekend.
They said the party now feared that Zanu PF would try to exploit the
situation to settle political scores.
Matabeleland South governor, Angeline Masuku and her Bulawayo
counterpart, Cain Mathema unsuccessfully tried to force Tsvangirai to
condemn Holland.

But the PM said he would only take action after giving the minister a
chance to clarify her statements.
On Sunday, Tsvangirai told party supporters at the MDC-T 10th
anniversary celebrations in Bulawayo that action will be taken against the
minister if she indeed made the statements.

Although Holland was not immediately available for comment last week,
MDC-T youth assembly chairman for Bulawayo, Bekithemba Nyathi confirmed the
meetings took place.

He said Zanu PF had planned protests against her ahead of the MDC-T
"The youth assembly knew about the protests that were planned against
Minister Holland who had visited Ntabazinduna to meet chiefs there," he

"We got wind of the planned protest on Saturday (a day before the
rally) and fortunately she did not attend the rally.

"We know the people that were hired and most of them were from

"We told them that we knew their plan and that we would not allow them
to disrupt the rally."
Holland also met a descendant of King Mzilikazi, Prince Zwide kaLanga
Khumalo who has warned that the matter has to be handled with caution
because it has the potential of dividing the country.

Khumalo said it was no longer an issue of whether Holland made the
comments or not.
"Holland needs to look for a way out of this emotive issue. She has to
do something to appease those that have been aggrieved by her statements
that have opened old wounds.

"During the meeting I had with her on Saturday, she asked me to
provide her with advice on how to solve the whole issue caused by the
statements attributed to her.

"I am consulting on what she has to do and I am consulting ordinary
people, traditional chiefs and civic groups in Matabeleland North, South,
Bulawayo and the Midlands on what she can do but obviously we need to have a
way that is cultural."

But Khumalo said it was not his advice that she meets Chief Ndiweni.

There are also reports that MDC-T officials from Matabeleland are now
putting pressure on Holland to do something to put the matter to rest
because it is damaging the party's reputation in the region.


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Govt Admits Meikles Seizure 'ill-advised'

Saturday, 19 September 2009 17:08
THE government has admitted that its move to seize one of the country's
oldest and largest conglomerates, Kingdom Meikles was ill-advised.

Last week, the Home Affairs Ministry seized the company's assets
pending investigations that it externalised foreign currency.

But Home Affairs co-Minister Giles Mutsekwa told SW Radio on Friday
that he made a serious blunder by only listening to Nigel Chanakira, a
businessman, when appended his signature to the specification order.
"Apparently what has been taking place is that we have been listening
to only one person who is an aggrieved character (Chanakira) and we took him
for granted," Mutsekwa told the Hot Seat programme.
"Being a Christian everybody thought he was up to his words.

"But ever since the gazette of that instrument the other side has also
approached me and we have held very high-level meetings and I now understand
that it was not all that I was being told by the first side, that is

However, on the same day Mutsekwa made the pronouncements
investigators in the case stormed the offices of corporate lawyer Tawanda
Nyambirai demanding computer hard drives to see his communications with the
group's former chairman, John Moxon.

The investigators Bhudhama Chikamhi and Cleopas Mukungunugwa of BCA
Consulting told Nyambirai they had visited him to clarify on the information
they had.

But Nyambirai and his lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa stood their ground and
said they could not release the hard drives in the absence of a court order.

They also argued that the hard drives had confidential information on
clients from across the political divide.
"My hard drive contains confidential clients' information. I have Zanu
PF clients, MDC clients who all expect me to protect their privacy,"
Nyambirai said.

The investigators said Nyambirai had refused to approve KMAL accounts
because he was not happy that Moxon's US$22 million debt was written off.

Nyambirai said as Econet they were not happy with the write-down and
told the group's auditor to meet with Moxon.

Nyambirai chairs Econet which has 10% share holding in KMAL.

But the investigators felt that if the accounts were published with
the write-down it would show that Moxon had no money.

"My response was that the John Moxon family owns 42% of the company
and the shares they own are more than the loan," Nyambirai said.

The investigators accused Nyambirai of negotiating with Moxon to write
an irrevocable letter of undertaking to sell the family shares to Chanakira.

He said the investigators accused him of negotiating with a specified
person and Chanakira had given them the letter to confirm the allegations.

"My response was that it is correct that I had negotiated with Moxon.
"I told that them that after negotiations there was an irrevocable
letter of undertaking but on condition that Moxon was despecified," he said.

The investigators also accused Nyambirai of having convinced the KMAL
board to withdraw their legal proceedings against Moxon.

He confirmed he had met the KMAL board and said they didn't have the
money to continue paying South African lawyers in its fight with Moxon.

Nyambirai said he had informed the KMAL board that he would negotiate
with Moxon on condition that they withdraw the lawsuit.

The KMAL board voted unanimously that Nyambirai should negotiate with
Moxon for the recovery of the money.

"I told them that I am not a director and I didn't vote for the
proposal and I am waiting for their letter," he said.

The investigators then told Nyambirai they do not know where he stands
but they had support from Chanakira, Busi Bango and Callisto Jokonya.

Chanakira, Bango and Jokonya will be ejected from the KMAL board at an
Extraordinary General Meeting on Thursday that will pave the way for the
demerger of the group.

In 2007, Chanakira-led Kingdom and Financial Holdings Limited agreed
to merge with Meikles group, Tanganda Tea Company and Cotton Printers to
form the largest capitalised group on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange.

But boardroom squabbles erupted between Chanakira and Moxon over the
sale of Cape Grace Hotel in South Africa. Chanakira accused Moxon of
externalising funds leading to Moxon's specification in January alongside TM
Supermarkets and five investment vehicles.

TM was let off the hook last month. Only last week government
specified Kingdom Meikles Limited, KMAL flagship, Tanganda and Thomas
Meikles Centre. Thomas Meikles owns Greatermans, Barbours and Meikles

The specification has raised concerns that Zanu PF bigwigs are angling
to snap up shares from Moxon's family.


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Sunday Special: Zim Education System in 'Shocking' State

Saturday, 19 September 2009 16:57
TEMPTATION Muringisi, a teacher in Highfield, is struggling to master
one new technique she was never trained to do: getting pupils to concentrate
while learning under a tree.

Every now and then, she has to shout at her pupils to stop watching
passersby and bus touts canvassing for passengers.

"As you can see we are out here in the open near the road," Muringisi,
a Grade IV teacher at Mutasa School in Highfield told visiting government
and United Nations officials last week.

"When a child hears the conductors yelling for passengers, they are
attracted by the commotion.
"Children are curious by nature and at Grade IV we will be punishing
them really to expect anything else."

Although Mutasa's case is unique in that the school is in an urban
setting, learning under trees is a common feature in Zimbabwe.

Exactly a year after Zanu PF and the two MDC formations signed a
power-sharing agreement and seven months after the formation of an inclusive
government, the education sector remains in the doldrums.

According to the Rapid Assessment of Primary and Secondary Education
(Rapse) report by the National Education Advisory Board (Neab) released last
week the country's education sector needs a complete overhaul.

The 14-member Neab was set up by the new Education, Sport, Arts and
Culture Minister David Coltart and the Rapse was undertaken to give him an
appreciation of the challenges he had to confront.

The findings were shocking. From the 120 schools sampled, 196 829
pupils who enrolled for Grade 1 did not proceed to secondary school.

In some provinces, like Matabeleland North, "the dropout rate was
high, with over 50% dropout from Grades 1 - 7".

"Such a large number of dropouts can prove a politically and socially
destabilising force, particularly given the lack of economic growth and lack
of employment opportunities," says the report.

The report warns Zimbabwe has "fallen woefully behind" other countries
in providing primary education.

Half of the students who enrol for primary school drop out before they
reach secondary school.

Most of these children end up unemployed, with "a serious potential
for political and social destabilization".

But for those who have been to other schools in the country, Mutasa
Primary is much better.

The Neab report says in Matabeleland North, for example, "all the
secondary schools visited had practically collapsed".

According to a recent review of primary schools by the UNICEF, schools
countrywide are facing serious shortages of learning materials like

About 20% of primary schools had no textbooks at all for English,
Mathematics or an African language.

UNICEF estimates that the Grade VII examination pass rates declined
from 53% in 1999 to 33% in 2007 while almost 50% of Zimbabwe's children
graduating from primary school were not proceeding to secondary school.

The Neab report proposes urgent reforms - most of which do not need
funding if the Ministry of Education, Sports, Art and Culture is to contain
the situation.

The report proposes that primary education should be free for all
pupils, as is the case in some southern African countries.

"Zimbabwe has fallen woefully behind her Sadc colleagues in this
regard. Free basic education must be seen as a public as well as personal
good, and essential for the healthy development of the country," the report

Unicef last week launched a US$70 million Educational Transition Fund
(ETF) to ensure access and quality education for the country's children.

The fund - supported by Australia, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands,
New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, United Kingdom and the European Commission -
will be used to buy critical textbooks and learning materials.

The Basic Education Assistance Module (Beam) has also been revived to
assist vulnerable children with payment of levies, tuition and examination
fees. At least 700 000 children will benefit from Beam.

Speaking at the launch of these lifelines for Zimbabwe's education
system at Mutasa School, Coltart said the future looks bright for the
sector, which he said was in shambles when he took over as education
minister in February.

"The education sector still faces numerous challenges," said Coltart.
"But the transition fund we launch today is a positive step towards the
revival of the sector.

"Indeed it is extremely gratifying to see donors, government and the
UN come together to ensure quality education for Zimbabwe's children.

"As a government we are grateful and encouraged."
Coltart however admitted not much had come out of negotiations to
review teachers' salaries, and asked for donor support.

The low salaries, according to the Neab report, have resulted in
teacher morale at its lowest since independence.

Says the report: "Teachers were demotivated by low salaries, lack of
security in rural areas where teachers became victims of political violence
in 2008, lack of accommodation and shortages of teaching and learning
resources such as textbooks, stationery.

"The image of the teacher was at its lowest since Independence."

Unicef's country representative Dr Peter Salama said the support is a
pledge of solidarity with the inclusive government in its efforts to improve
the quality and access to education for Zimbabwe's children and social

The widespread politicisation of schools before, during and after last
year's harmonised elections and the subsequent presidential run off had left
teachers "demotivated and afraid".

For example, "UMP District in Mashonaland East (which) had suffered
severe political trauma, which led to the dispersal of teachers and virtual
desolation of schools".


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Residents Fume Over Borrowdale Project

Saturday, 19 September 2009 16:52
BORROWDALE'S green lovers are seeing red over a new construction
project they claim poses a threat to the environment.

Concerned residents said a few weeks back, they woke up to see
bulldozers, cranes and other related excavation equipment at the site
opposite the Borrowdale Race Course.

A resident who lives near the project said she had found out that the
Harare City Council had not authorised the construction.

"We were shocked and contacted the city council who said they had not
given anyone permission to develop that land," said a resident who preferred

"But this is worrying given that the area is meant to be a greenbelt.

"It was home to a lot of indigenous lilies and the construction is
environmentally wrong."
Harare Mayor Muchadeyi Masunda said he was not aware of any illegal
activities as there were a number of approved construction projects in the
Borrowdale area.

Pressed further, the mayor referred The Standard to the city's
director for urban planning services.

Chiwanga was unwilling to comment and passed the buck to the city's
spokesperson Leslie Gwindi, who demanded questions in writing. That was a
fortnight ago.

He was still yet to respond at the time of going to print.

Chris Seagur, Tarcon CEO, the company clearing the land reportedly on
behalf of Phillip Chiyangwa's Pinnacle Properties denied they were breaking
city by laws.

"Those reports are not true," declared Seagur. "If I had been told to
stop, I would have stopped."

Asked to comment on the project, Chiyangwa said: "If there is any
property which is being illegally developed then that is not a Pinnacle
property because we have permission for all our properties."

Chiyangwa said he had permission to develop several properties around
the Borrowdale Race Course area.

The controversial business mogul is also involved in another
construction project at Hopley Farm that is set to displace hundreds of
homeless people.


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GPA Crisis Erodes Public Confidence in Politicians

Saturday, 19 September 2009 16:49
THERE were no official celebrations on Tuesday to mark the first
anniversary of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) which created Zimbabwe's
shaky inclusive government.
On September 15 last year, Zanu PF leader President Robert Mugabe and
leaders of the two MDC formations, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and
Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara signed a historic agreement that
allowed the former political adversaries to work together.

This led to the formation of the unity government in February, which
has staggered from one crisis to another mainly because of Mugabe's refusal
to implement outstanding issues from the agreement.
One year on, members of the public still view the deal with a mixture
of hope and suspicion.

While life has generally improved for the ordinary person, they
believe the continued tussling over outstanding issues is eroding people's
confidence in the inclusive government.

A number of reforms promised in the agreement such as laws
guaranteeing media freedom, independence of the electoral commission and a
flawless constitution-making process have also not been made.
Tsvangirai's MDC this week kick-started consultations on proposals
that it should pull out of the unity government in protest against Zanu PF's

"The problem with politicians is that you can never understand what
they are up to," said Susan Makatuse.

"For me, the good thing is that life for the ordinary person has
improved a great deal. It is different from last year where we had to stop
doing everything else to hunt for food."

But Makatuse said it was evident that even the three parties in the
GPA did not have much confidence in the deal.
"It is unusual that we do not celebrate an event of such a historic
magnitude," she added.
"The fact that the same people who signed the agreement did not see
any need to hold celebrations shows they are also not sure about where it is
heading. This frightens some of us."
A third-year Law student at the University of Zimbabwe, Nelson Gosha,
said although the first few months after the signing ceremony were hectic
for students, he was "now leading a normal life".
"Things are improving" said Gosha. "There are still some challenges
here and there, but personally I am happy.
"Last year, getting to college, or buying just one exercise book was a
big challenge, but now one can easily plan those things.
"For me it does not really matter how they go about their politics,
what matters is that they do not compromise our access to social services."
For Fibion Mudiyi and Ndaniso Dojiwe, who bothwork for a construction
company in Harare, life has changed for the better.
"This time, when I get my wages I can plan how to spend the money,"
said Mudiyi. "There is a time last year when I had to stay at work because I
could not afford transport but this year things are better."
Last month, Mudiyi says his earnings totalled US$180.
His colleague Dojiwe shared the same sentiment, but said at times they
were frightened by statements from senior Zanu PF and MDC officials.
"There are all sorts of complaints from both MDC and Zanu PF, but that
is politics.
"It gets unsettling when they start saying things that bring the
future of the GPA into doubt. As long as it does not have bad effects on us,
no problem."
For the country's media fraternity, one year of the GPA has not
brought any significant change.
It was widely expected that the GPA would create a conducive
environment for new media players to come in.
But a number of newspapers that were mooted months ago have still not
started publishing pending the appointment of a new media commission.

"The expectation was that the GPA would lead to what we had always
wanted to achieve in terms of media freedom.

"There have been no significant changes or improvements in terms of
media freedom," said Takura Zhangazha, national director of the Media
Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Zimbabwe chapter.
He singled out the failure to get rid of or amend such laws as the
Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) and the
Broadcasting Services Act (BSA), which media organisations have been
opposing over the last few years.

The same sentiment is supported in a newly published report by the
Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, which says there is now "doubt on the
government's sincerity towards media reform".

"The euphoria which characterised initial stages of the inclusive
government died slowly as hopes for media reform faded due to Zanu PF's
continued control of public media." says the report.

Among the other positive changes brought about by the inclusive
government was the lifting of the ban on international media powerhouses,
CNN and the BBC.

The GPA was also expected to open the floodgates for donor
interventions in the country. Major donors have however not pumped in
significant amounts, preferring to watch from the sidelines.

But on Tuesday, a number of organisations marked the GPA anniversary
with promises to support the inclusive government.

In a statement, Gerald LeMelle, executive director of Africa Action -
an influential US organisation on African issues - said although there were
still some challenges in the implementation of the GPA, there was notable

The Australian government also announced that it would be scaling up
its assistance to Zimbabwe to support the inclusive government. In a
statement, Foreign Affairs minister Stephen Smith said they would
immediately avail an additional $5 million, to cover mostly food aid. But it
appears the GNU will remain bad news for Zanu PF officials as long as
sanctions remain in place.


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Farmer's Heartbreak as 1000 pigs Starve

Saturday, 19 September 2009 16:39
PIGS might be dirty and noisy but they are also valuable - in fact so
valuable that they are a subject of a vicious fight between a commercial
farmer in Chinhoyi and a deputy governor of the Reserve Bank.

Farmer Lois Fick was kicked out of his Friedawel Farm by Edward
Mashiringwani the deputy governor of the RBZ.

The Standard visited the farm this week but could not gain entry as
menacing youths maintained a heavy presence.

But the eerie squeals of hundreds of starving pigs was unmistakable
from a distance.

Helpless workers said they could not assist the distressed animals
because Mashiringwani was preventing them from feeding the animals.

A dejected Fick recounted how he was evicted from his property.

Speaking from his Harare refuge Fick said: "Mashiringwani arrived at
the farm last week with more than 15 'bodyguards' and began targeting our
senior staff, issuing threats and chasing them away."

"We have about 1 000 pigs at this stage and about 100 piglets, some
just a few days old."
Fick said he was worried about the animals because they needed a lot
of care.
"It's essential for them to get food and water," he stressed. Some
pigs need about 40 litres of water a day."

He said since he was kicked out off his farm 19 pigs are believed to
have died from hunger and thirst. "I can't begin to describe how I feel,"
he said.

"Eventually the police came out after a long struggle but any members
who tried to assist were reprimanded.

"The animals should be beyond politics but they are being used as
pawns in the game."
One of his workers who requested anonymity fearing victimisation said
Mashiringwani was causing problems at the farm.

"Since he came here with his men on Friday last week, there has been
no peace.
"Mashiringwani ari kutibata kunge mhuka. (Mashiringwani is treating us
like animals). "He has cut off electricity and water supplies to the

Efforts to get a comment from Mashiringwani were fruitless last week
as he was said to be out of office until next week. His mobile phone was

But Fick's case is just one of the many fresh farm invasions sweeping
across the country and led by senior people linked to President Robert
Mugabe's former administration.

The Commercial Farmers' Union (CFU) last week said it feared Mugabe's
comments at the recent Zanu PF youth conference would incite more violence
on the farms.

"Once people have offer letters and they are valid, that's it," Mugabe
said. "The farm is not yours any more. Please don't resist.

"If we hear about any resistance, we will stop pleading. I will just
send the police to drive them away. If they thought they would be saved by
the inclusive government, kunyeperwa ikoko (they are lying to you)."

The CFU says senior government officials, war veterans, soldiers and
police officers were in the forefront of destroying what remains of the
country's once vibrant agriculture sector.

Fick is one of the 78 commercial farmers protected by last year's
landmark Southern African Development Community (Sadc) Tribunal ruling.

Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa claims Zimbabwe is no longer bound
by the Tribunal ruling because it has withdrawn its membership.

However, the Minister of Land and Rural Resettlement Minister Herbert
Murerwa claimed there were no fresh farm invasions taking place.

"What is happening is not really a fresh wave of farm invasions. There
are just some disputes on the farms between those who have offer letters and
those without.

"We are trying to resolve this amicably and I don't think this will
compromise the inclusive government because all the parties have agreed to
solve this."

However on the ground things seemed different -there appears to be
complete chaos in the farming community.

In Headlands a senior army officer, a Brigadier Mujaji, has allegedly
seized four tractors and taken over tobacco seedbeds from a commercial
farmer, Charles Lock.

"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," he said
"We have tried to move our crops and equipment off the farm but we are
now being prevented by the army. The soldiers threatened our lorry drivers
with death.

"It is one thing taking land but another to steal crops, equipment,
while intimidating innocent people through force of arms by our own national

Another tobacco farmer in Chegutu lost half a million dollars after
his tobacco seeds were sprayed with an unknown poisonous chemical by a new

Kenneth Bartholomew of Wakefield Farm last week said Felix Pambukani
who early this year disrupted farming activities at his farm destroyed over
50 hectares of his tobacco seedlings.

He allegedly used an unknown chemical.

Bartholomew said that if his tormentor had not disrupted his
operations he would have earned over US$1 million from farming this year.

Murerwa said he did not know anything about Bartholomew's case.

Dennis Lapham of Devonia Farm along Mutoko road who now has to share
his farm with a Zanu PF supporter said he had not done anything to prepare
for the coming season.

In Nyabira more than 20 families are still living in the open after
the registrar general Tobaiwa Mudede threw them out four weeks ago after he
took over State land at Balleneety Farm.


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Local Women take part in Infection Prevention Trials

Saturday, 19 September 2009 15:56
AT least 600 Zimbabwean women are taking part in clinical trials to
establish if the same antiretroviral (ARV) drugs used to treat HIV can
protect women from being infected.

They are part of a group of 5 000 from Southern Africa included in the
Vaginal and Oral Interventions to Control the Epidemic (Voice) study that
seeks ways to minimise women's vulnerability to the disease.

Researchers from the University of Zimbabwe and University of
California - San Francisco (UZ-UCSF) will conduct the research over three

Zimbabwe will conduct the research from the Zimbabwe National Family
Planning Council's Spilhaus Clinic, Seke South and Zengeza 3 clinics in

During the research period women participants who are HIV-negative and
are between the ages of 18-35 (high risk group) will be asked to either
apply a vaginal microbicide gel containing an ARV or take an oral ARV tablet

At the end of the study researchers would want to establish whether or
not this pre-exposure prophylaxis will reduce the women's chances of
acquiring HIV.

The ARV drugs Tenofivor and Truvada will be used during the study.

One of the researchers, Nyaradzo Mgodi told journalists during a tour
of Spilhaus research sight last week the trials were an important
intervention in the fight against Aids.

"Here in Zimbabwe and elsewhere in sub-Saharan Africa women
desperately need reliable and safe methods for preventing HIV that they can
control themselves.

"We are determined to find the best way that they can be protected.
This is what the Voice study is all about," Mgodi said.

"Although correct and consistent use of male condoms has been shown to
prevent HIV infection women often cannot control if or when condoms are used
by their male partners.

"Moreover women are twice more likely as their male partners to
acquire HIV during unprotected sex due in part to biological factors that
make them more susceptible to infection."

According to UNAIDS and the Zimbabwe Demographic Health Survey
(2006-2007) women represent nearly 60% of adults living with HIV in
sub-Saharan Africa.

The survey also established that young women are at least three times
more likely to be HIV positive than young men.

In Zimbabwe 1.7 million adults are estimated to be living with HIV and
54% of these are women.

Mgodi said researchers were optimistic about the outcome of the study
because pre-exposure prophylaxis has already been proven to work under the
Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission programme (PMTCT).

"The basis of this study is pre-exposure prophylaxis. Some of you may
have taken anti-malarial drugs as treatment or may have taken them for
prevention before moving into a malaria epidemic area," Mgodi said.

"We have had several successes of pre-exposure prophylaxis in HIV for
example in PMTCT where women are given drugs which cross the placenta and
move on to the baby which prevents HIV in the unborn baby.

"So this is basically what we are trying to do, to give women these
ARV drugs so that we can see if they prevent HIV infection."

During the trials Mgodi said all participants would have regular HIV
testing and risk reduction counselling, condoms and treatment for sexually
transmitted infections.

This service would also be extended to the women's partners.

"The UZ-UCSF works in close collaboration with the Opportunistic
Infections Clinics in Harare and Chitungwiza where women who acquire HIV
infection during the study can easily access Antiretroviral Therapy," Mgodi

The study will also take place at clinical sites in Uganda, South
Africa and Zambia.

But the Malawian government is yet to give the researchers the nod to
begin the trials.

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases together
with the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human
Development and the National Institute of Mental Health are part of the
United States National Institutes of Health.

Co-chairperson of the study Mike Chirenje said the research was among
many being done to find a breakthrough in reducing HIV infections.

"The HIV prevention field has not been without its share of
disappointments," said Chirenje who is also a gynaecologist in the
Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at UZ.

"So naturally we are excited that in Voice we have not just one but
two promising approaches to evaluate.

"Hopefully we will find that ARVs which helped turn the tide in the
treatment of HIV can be a prevention powerhouse too."

In February this year the UZ-UCSF released results of its microbicide
trials that sought to establish the effectiveness of two gels in reducing
HIV infection in women when applied it before sex.

One of the microbicide gels under study known as pro-2000 was found to
reduce HIV infection in women by at least 30%.

Mgodi said although this was an encouraging finding, it was not enough
to ensure the gel was registered for use.


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Mabvuku Clinic Upgraded to Provide Comprehensive HIV-related Health Care

Saturday, 19 September 2009 15:49
MABVUKU residents are set to benefit from an Integrated HIV Care
Programme (IHCP) at their polyclinic which will see people living with HIV
receiving comprehensive care at the health centre.

The one-stop clinic would help patients to cut back on travel costs as
they used to access treatment at central hospitals in Harare.

The IHCP - a collaboration between the European Union and the Harare
City Council -started in Mabvuku as a pilot project in 2007.

Mabvuku clinic, which has been expanded and renovated, comprises of
one consulting room, a counselling centre, a tuberculosis clinic and a
dressing or infection room.

It has also been accredited as an Antiretroviral Therapy centre by the
Ministry of Health and Child Welfare, making it the first clinic to be given
such a status.

The clinic is supporting at least 250 people who are taking ARVs.

Before its establishment, patients from Mabvuku seeking HIV testing,
counselling and treatment travelled to institutions such as Harare,
Parirenyatwa, Wilkins and Beatrice Infectious Diseases Hospital.

Residents told Standardhealth at the official opening of the clinic in
Mabvuku recently that travelling was a huge strain on their health and

Besides offering HIV and Aids care and treatment the clinic will also
offer TB treatment.

Patients are screened for the disease and blood or sputum samples
taken for investigation at Wilkins Hospital.

Dr Douglas Mombeshora, the Deputy Minister of Health and Child
Welfare, said the IHCP programme would reduce the burden of HIV and TB in

Mombeshora commended the local authority for its efforts to bring
health care closer to the community.
"This is a commendable initiative and let me commend the whole Mabvuku
polyclinic staff for the sterling and splendid work they are doing for the
community," he said.

"The Integrated HIV Care Programme objectives are to reduce the burden
of TB on communities and individuals and strengthen integrated holistic care
for people living with HIV and Aids."

The councillor for the area Munyaradzi Kufahakutizwi said the
programme will make "life easier for the community".

"I am happy community members can now get all the treatment they need
and this means less travelling and less expenses for them.

"In the end none of them will default on their treatment because of
the short distance to the clinic," Kufahakutizwi said.

Since January this year Mabvuku clinic has managed at least 196 cases
of TB with more than half of the cases being HIV-related, according to the
acting District Nursing Officer for Harare's Eastern District, Norma Jenami.

"As you can see there is a huge burden of disease in the community and
we are only happy to reduce it by providing proper care for them at this
clinic," she said.

"We also encourage community members to take care of each other as
treatment buddies who ensure those who are ill take their medication at


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EU, Zimbabwe Pact, Recipe for Economic Disaster - Experts

Saturday, 19 September 2009 13:42
BEFORE the ink dries on the interim economic partnership agreement
Zimbabwe signed with the European Union, analysts warn that the pact will
further impoverish the country.

They say the agreement is a threat to regional integration which the
Southern African Development Community (Sadc) has been pushing over the past
two decades.

The warning comes soon after Zimbabwe together with other 39 countries
early this month signed the interim economic partnership agreement (EPA)
with the EU that is expected to run until December next year.

EPA is a trade arrangement the EU is currently negotiating with 79
African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries.

It will result in total trade liberalisation or opening up of trade
between Zimbabwe, other ACP countries and the EU.

The Economic Justice Network (EJN), a regional organisation that
advocates sound economic policies, said it was "unfortunate" that Zimbabwe
had signed a flawed pact which other countries in the region refused to

EJN programmes manager Percy Makombe said the agreement promotes the
growth of multinational companies at the expense of local industry.

"It is unfortunate that Zimbabwe has decided to sign the interim
economic partnership agreement," said Makombe. ". . .instead of promoting
local companies that will help grow our economies, international companies
have to be treated at par with local companies never mind the fact that they
then spirit their capital out of our countries to the detriment of
industrial development."

Experts said challenges for the local industry include increased
competition from EU products, undermining of regional integration and
significant loss of revenue for the government through removal of tax on

The interim agreement would see signatories to the trade pact with
Europe gradually opening up their markets to European goods until 2023.

Under the EPA, Zimbabwe would have opened up to 45% of her market to
Europe by 2012 and 80 percent by 2022, while 20 percent of the local market
would remain closed to EU products.

The Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace in Zimbabwe (CCJP) said
the government should have fully analysed the impact of the interim
agreement before rushing to sign it.

Commission national director Alouis Chaumba said a "cautious approach"
was necessary to enable the country to make informed policy positions.

"It is better for the country to delay the signing of EPAs given the
new political dispensation," said Chaumba. "A cautious approach should
enable Zimbabwe to carry out impact assessment studies which will inform
policy positions to be taken on EPAs."

Makombe said the EU "smuggled" back contentious issues that the
African Union (AU) Conference of Trade Ministers in their Declaration in
Kenya in 2006 insisted that they should be kept out of economic partnership

The AU had said issues of investment policy, competition and
government procurement should be kept outside the EPAs.

EJN said the same issues were removed from the World Trade
Organisation (WTO) Doha Work Programme after they were seen as unfair to
less developed countries.

"So these issues are still contentious at WTO level why smuggle them
into EPA deals?" asked Makombe.

The EU, said the EJN, seeks to push through EPAs an agreement "that
forces government to treat international companies just like local ones when
it is buying goods and services."

Zambia, whose Minister of Commerce Felix Mutati is the chief
negotiator in the Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) grouping, where Zimbabwe
falls, did not sign the agreement.

"Does it not raise concern that the chief negotiator has refused to
sign?" questioned Makombe. ".What is this source of obsession in Zimbabwe
about signing an agreement that will condemn us to further poverty?"

Namibia, South Africa and Senegal are among the countries that have
refused to sign the agreement.

Zimbabwe is among 12 countries negotiating the EPA within ESA.
Madagascar, Seychelles and Mauritius have also initialed the pact.

Chaumba said the existence of other regional groupings such as Sadc,
Southern African Customs Union (Sacu) and ESA also posed challenges to the
"sustainability" of a final EU-ESA EPA.

"It remains guess work whether the remaining 12 countries will sign
the Interim EPAs given the diversity in ideas, policies and politics within
ESA," said Chaumba.

Zimbabwe Coalition for Debt and Development (Zimcodd) programmes
officer, Richard Mambeva said the fact that the pact was negotiated by
individual countries has caused divisions among ACP countries to the extent
of jeopardisaing regional integration in developing countries.

"Sadc and Comesa have been divided since some countries in the Sadc
region such as Zimbabwe and Malawi negotiated the EPAs under the East and
Southern Africa (ESA) bloc," Mambeva said.

The negotiations, he said, were shrouded in secrecy as they excluded
other relevant stakeholders and beneficiaries.


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Biti for Regional Currency

Saturday, 19 September 2009 13:38
ZIMBABWE must push for a regional currency instead of preoccupying
itself with reviving its dollar, Finance Minister Tendai Biti has said.

Addressing delegates at the mining indaba on Wednesday, Biti said
those talking about the revival of the dollar were thinking "in a narrow,
parochial and nationalistic manner".

Biti said the region was fast moving towards regional integration.

"We launched a COMESA customs union in June and in 2010 we are
supposed to launch a Sadc customs union.

"The region, by hook or crook is moving towards regional integration
and we must begin to talk about a regional currency," he said.

"When we talk about the return of the Zimbabwean dollar, it must be in
the context of regional integration."

Biti said the region can set up a central bank to be owned by member
countries depending on the size of their economies.

Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono stirred the hornet nest
last month when he called for debate on the revival of the local unit backed
by mineral resources such as gold, diamond and platinum.

Under the gold/diamond backed monetary system, government will need to
provide adequate mineral resources to back each unit of the local currency

Gono said the government will establish an independent committee of
stakeholders to ascertain and certify the quantity of gold or diamonds
produced to back the issuance of the local currency.

But Biti said a currency was a relationship between exports and
imports adding that in the case of Zimbabwe, imports have been higher than
exports due to the closure of industries over the past 10 years.

He said if exports contribute at least 30% to the Gross Domestic
Product, "then we can begin to think of the revival of the Zimbabwean

The Zimbabwean dollar was discarded early this year in favour of a
basket of multiple currencies such as the United States dollar, South
African Rand, Botswana Pula and the British Pound Sterling.

The use of multiple currencies is credited for taming hyperinflation.

Month-on-month inflation slowed to 0.4% in August from 1% in July due
to lower costs of food and non-alcoholic beverages.

Sources in the Finance ministry say Zimbabwe is in the process of
kick-starting negotiations to join the Common Monetary Area (CMA) that uses
the rand as its currency.

CMA comprises South Africa, Namibia, Swaziland and Lesotho.

The rand was used as a reference currency in the Short Term Emergency
Recovery Programme and is expected to be announced as the official currency
when Biti announces the 2010 national budget in November.


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US$16bn Boost for Mining - PM

Saturday, 19 September 2009 13:27
Zimbabwe's mining industry, starved of investment during the past
decade, is poised to attract US$16 billion in exploration and mine
developments by 2018, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai told delegates at a
mining indaba on Thursday. The huge investment will breathe new life into
the industry that is picking up the pieces following years of problems that
saw it failing to capitalise on the firming prices on world's minerals

"This government, in conjunction with the mining industry, has a
window of opportunity to prepare for a conducive policy environment by mid
2010, that could see Zimbabwe's mineral sector attracting between US$6
billion and US$16 billion in exploration and mine development investments
during the 2011-2018 period," Tsvangirai said.

"Thereafter we could rationally target an increase to GDP (Gross
Domestic Product) exceeding US$3 billion per annum arising from such

Zimbabwe's mining industry has had few explorations and no new
Exclusive Prospecting Orders (EPOs) were granted since 2003.

An EPO confers the exclusive right to prospect for specified minerals
in any defined area.

The two-day mining indaba drew participants from as far afield as
Canada and was graced by all the three principals to the inclusive
government - President Robert Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister
Arthur Mutambara - who responded to questions from delegates.

The Zimbabwe Mining Indaba 2009 was held under the theme Reviewing the
Mining Sector in Zimbabwe: a Clear Way Forward.

Giving an overview of the economic environment, Finance Minister
Tendai Biti said the mining industry will be at the heart of the economic
rehabilitation of the country.

But, he added, that there was an urgent need for a review of mining
He says the current tax regime was such that there was a 15% tax in
mining but the effective tax rate was 5% because of exemptions.

"The challenge is to broaden our tax base and simplify it. We have
started work on a new Income Tax Act and moving on a flat rate of tax," he

But players in the sector said the tax regime was favourable and
argued there were certain aspects that had to be considered.

They said mining was capital intensive and the various mining houses
were engaged in behind the scenes social developments in their areas such as
the building of schools and hospitals.

Mine owners noted there were a number of levies and taxes charged on
miners such as for rural electrification.

"We have agreed that we need to simplify the tax system so that we pay
for a higher rate of tax to cater for other levies and taxes. This makes the
tax system simpler and easier to manage," one of the groups said during a
plenary session.

The indaba heard that it was taking time to get refunds on Value Added
Tax on imports and some mines had not received the refunds that date as far
back as March.

Mining executives said the industry must be exempted from paying
import taxes.

The sector says that instead of changes to tax legislation, it was
incumbent upon authorities to look at the tax regimes in the region before
they make changes.

The Chamber of Mines will engage consultants to assist with their
input on tax regimes in the region, the indaba heard.

President of the Chamber of Mines Victor Gapare said foreign currency
surrendered at sub-economic exchange rates had also affected the industry.

In the first quarter of the year, government removed surrender
requirements and discarded the local currency in favour of a basket of
multiple currencies that include the United States dollar, pula, rand and
pound sterling.

Gapare said the failure by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to pay gold
producers resulted in the "total collapse of the sector".

The sector was deregulated early this year so that producers can find
the best buyer for their gold rather than to relying entirely on Fidelity
Printers which had struggled to pay for deliveries.

Limited capital development as a result of foreign currency shortages
had also affected the mining industry, Gapare said.

"Virtually all mining operations urgently require recapitalisation,"
he said.

Notwithstanding the setbacks, Gapare said there were opportunities in
Zimbabwe with 40 different types of minerals that could be explored.

Gapare says authorities should put in place marketing arrangements
that are supportive of the long term growth of the industry.

"Mines use the mineral resources in the ground to secure capital for
exploration and development of mines," he said.

"If it's compulsory to sell such minerals to the government or central
bank then it will not be possible to develop the industry to its full

"No country in the world forces miners to sell minerals to the
government or central bank."

Besides grappling with foreign currency constraints and power outages,
the mining industry has suffered from uncertainty due to the pending
legislation that includes amendments to the Mines and Minerals Act and the
Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act.

President Robert Mugabe told delegates the review of the Mines and
Minerals Act should be finalised by the forthcoming session of Parliament in
consultation with stakeholders.

He said the indigenisation policy was put in place to advance
government's policy of promoting greater participation by indigenous people
in national economic activities.

Mugabe said the Parliamentary portfolio committee on Mines and Energy
met at a resort town to discuss "this very important matter with government,
the mining industry and other important stakeholders".

The Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act has also caused
consternation among investors who equate the legislation to nationalisation
of foreign-owned companies.

Amidst all the problems faced by the sector, a silver lining is on the

In the period February to July, the Zimbabwe Investment Authority
approved 15 mining projects valued at US$450 million, Elton Mangoma,
Economic Planning and Investment Promotion Minister told the indaba on


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New Twist in Mawere Companies' Saga

Saturday, 19 September 2009 13:27
LIQUIDATED South African firm, Petter Trading has filed an appeal at
the Supreme Court against a lower court's ruling confirming the
reconstruction of Mutumwa Mawere's companies.

The reconstruction, it argues, infringes on some sections of the

The company says it stands to lose equipment it bought under Schweppes
Zimbabwe (SZL), which is close to sealing a merger deal with Delta

In 2005, High Court judge Justice Lawrence Kamocha gave the
reconstruction scheme the green light after the state seized Mawere's

Government argued that his businesses were heavily indebted to the

Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa who is the third respondent in the
case appointed Arafas Gwaradzimba as administrator of Mawere's empire in

Gwaradzimba is cited as the fourth respondent.

If it succeeds, the appeal filed on September 9, will be a blow to the
proposed marriage between Delta Corporation and SZL as the South African
firm is claiming ownership to equipment at SZL plants in Harare and

The proposed Delta-SZL merger is being considered by the Competition
and Tariff Commission.
But Petter's liquidators say the marriage should not go ahead because
it bought the equipment at SZL on behalf of Fidelity Life Asset Management

Petter wants the Supreme Court to declare Sections 6, 12 and 18 of the
Reconstruction of State-Indebted Insolvent Act (Chapter 24:27) in violation
of sections 16(b), (c) and (d) and 18(9) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe and
therefore of no force and effect.

In his founding affidavit, Petter's liquidator, Harry Kaplan said the
Reconstruction Act violates Sections 16 and 18 of the Constitution as it
permits the government of Zimbabwe "to expropriate property without notice,
payment of fair compensation or judicial involvement in violation of
Sections 1 6(b)(c) and (d) of the Constitution".

He said that the Act denies persons subject to it access to court in
violation of Section 18(9) of the Constitution.

"It is the Applicant's contention that in the implementation and
administration of the Reconstruction Act, the Third Respondent (Chinamasa)
and the Fourth Respondent (Gwaradzimba) have acted in breach of the
requirements of the audi alteram principle," he said.

Petter also wants the court to declare the actions and decisions taken
by Schweppes, Chinamasa and Gwaradzimba in their application of the
expropriation laws procedurally unfair and inconsistent with Sections 16
(b), ( c ), (d) and 18 (9) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe declared null and

Kaplan said that pursuant to Section 4(3) of the Reconstruction Act,
an order issued against a company could affect any associate company or
another which "benefited from the same credit or guarantee payable from
public funds."

"The effect of this section was to place not only the Second
Respondent (SMM) under the control of the Fourth Respondent (Gwaradzimba)
but also technically the Applicant (Petter) as it can be argued that it was
an associated company of the Second Respondent on account of the fact that
it carried business with the company," he said.

In 2003, FLAM entered into a Memorandum of Agreement of Sale with
Coca-Cola Central Africa (CCCA) and Schweppes Holdings Limited in which the
asset managers would purchase SZL for a price of $1 on top of a US$5.8
million injection for equipment upgrade.

The upgrade had to be completed in February 2004 for SZL to meet the
international standards while CCCA had to dispose of the stake to comply
with the Competition and Tariff Commission directive to localise the

Since FLAM had no access to foreign currency, it turned to Mawere's
Africa Resources Limited which then instructed Petter to pay for some

The equipment at the centre of the dispute includes a PET form System
for the production of petforms, PET Blow Moulding System, a technological
plant for making PET plastic bottles and 4PET Bottling lines.

Mawere negotiated for the purchase of the equipment.

When Mawere's empire was put under reconstruction, Gwaradzimba told
CCCA to buy equipment for the mine to settle the arrear basing on the
argument that since FLAM was put under his control, he had to collect money
from asset managers' debtors.


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Power Supply to Zimbabwe Mines a Concern -Chamber

Thursday, 17 September 2009 10:24
Harare- Power supply to Zimbabwe's mining industry was a key concern
and there was an urgent need to resolve the issue through privatising the
state power company, the country's chamber of mines said on Wednesday.
"Power to mines still remains a challenge, but there is a great opportunity
to increase electricity output," Victor Gapare, the president of Zimbabwe's
Chamber of Mines told Reuters on the sideline of a mining conference in the

Gapare said the state power utility ZESA should seek to acquire power
generators to cover the shortfall in the short term, but in the long run,
the government should divest from the company and allow it to be run as a
private company.

"In the long term the government should look at selling off its stake
in ZESA so that the company can become private and more competitive," he

Some of the mining companies in Zimbabwe include Anglo American Plc's
(AAL.L) unit Anglo Platinum (AMSJ.J), Impala Platinum (IMPJ.J) and Rio Tinto
(RIO.L) (RIO.AX), a major shareholder in a diamond mine. Reuters

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Alex Magaisa: Zimbabwe's 'Gringo Dish': A year After GPA

Saturday, 19 September 2009 16:32
THIS week marked the first anniversary of the Global Political
Agreement (GPA) between Zanu PF and the two MDC parties. Signed amid pomp
and ceremony on September 15 2008, it became the basis of the Government of
National Unity that has been in power since February 2009.

I still haven't worked out why it is referred to as a 'global'
agreement. Nobody has ever explained.
The term that came to mind when asked about the first year since the
GPA was 'Gringo Dish".

I first heard of it many years ago and have always understood it to
denote a dish containing an unlimited number of incongruous ingredients. It
is a dish that you have not out of free will but because that's what is on
the table. You eat because you have to survive. So you squirm and close your
eyes in pain whilst forcing it down the throat as a matter of necessity.

For that is what the first year has been: a mixture of everything -
the sweet, the sour and the bitter. 'Gringo dish' therefore seemed to me to
be an appropriate label. Here are some of the highlights (and lowlights) of
the first year of the GPA:

If the July 18 Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was the notice of
intention to marry, the September 15 GPA marked the certificate of marriage
of convenience and you might add, necessity.

However, as it happened, the road leading to the matrimonial home from
the wedding ceremony was rugged, full of potholes and detours it took months
before the spouses finally settled in their new home.
I have to say that watching our politicians failing to solve minor
disagreements was painful.

But having to call outsiders again to put down the fires was
embarrassing. That painful episode became the harbinger of worse things to
come. It is hardly surprising that the lack of confidence and trust between
the parties continues to be the defining feature of the GNU.

Until December 2008, Jestina Mukoko was known to many of us as a
talented and beautiful newsreader on national television. This was
transformed overnight as her name became synonymous with the spate of
abductions, torture and inhuman and degrading treatment in the wake of her
ordeal at the hands of state agents.

She and numerous others who included a two-year-old toddler were
abducted and kept in communicado for weeks and months. They were accused of
plotting an armed insurrection to topple President Mugabe and his
government. These cases caused a major dent on the image of the GNU. How can
a government promising to turn a new leaf treat its citizens so appallingly?
It was, quite frankly, distressing and embarrassing.
Like Mukoko, Roy Bennett found himself behind bars. PM Tsvangirai
nominated him to be the deputy minister of agriculture. President Mugabe has
consistently and steadfastly resisted demands to swear him into office so
that he can commence his national duty. His arrest, the refusal to swear
him in and the background of the hostile treatment that he has received,
first as a farmer and second as an MP have all caused a lot of damage to the
GNU. It is clearly an understatement to say that someone powerful has a
particular and virulent dislike for Mr Bennett. But his case will continue
to dog the GNU.
No other issue has evidenced the uneasy relationship between the GNU
partners than the brouhaha over the twin appointments of Johannes Tomana as
the Attorney General and Gideon Gono as the central bank governor.
The long-running battle between Gono and Minister of Finance Tendai
Biti, in particular, has been acrimonious and filthy with plots and
sub-plots involving the laundering of much dirty linen before the public.
The MDC is unhappy with these appointments which it considers to be
'outstanding issues'. ZANU PF says these are presidential appointments which
were made in accordance with the letter of the constitution. The MDC says
they were not within the spirit of the GPA.
This is a clash that has damaged the working relationship between the
partners and will remain a divisive factor in the future. The phrase
'outstanding issues' has been used so often that knowing the tradition of
naming children after topical words or events, I would not be surprised if
new babies have been named after it. Perhaps in years to come some poor kids
will have to answer to the name 'Outstanding'!
Soon after his appointment, the new Prime Minister embarked on a trip
to the West, to rebuild a broken relationship and to also ask for life
support to resuscitate a comatose economy. The Shona proverb, 'Murombo
haarove chine nguo' comes to mind. It literally means a poor man's luck is
so limited that when he goes hunting the best he can catch are the smallest
of animals, i.e. those without skin. Mr Tsvangirai was warmly received in
such grand environs as the White House in the US where he met President
Barack Obama, probably the world's most popular politician. They shook
hands, they smiled and they were happy. But on return Mr Tsvangirai's bag
contained only a few hares, birds and little promises. Zimbabwe has to do
more, he was told.

The GPA contained undertakings to reform the media with a view to
opening up space and promoting the freedom of expression. One year later,
little has changed and the state media continues to be dominated by and
engineered towards promoting one party. The Prime Minister's office has had
to communicate to the public through a newsletter.

There were moves in June to constitute the Zimbabwe Media Commission
(ZMC) which is designed to regulate the media. Interviews were conducted to
select the new commissioners. Some prominent names are reported to have
fared less well and this is the most polite way of putting it. This
transparent process did not please some people. If the interview process was
a flash of light in a dark and hideous tunnel it was quickly extinguished as
the process seems to have stalled. It is fair to say it was no more than a
flame in a violent hurricane.

If the MDC entered the GNU with a view to enabling the creation of a
legal platform that is conducive for free and fair elections, its hopes have
been arrested by the stalled constitutional reform process.
If the GNU has moved at a snail's pace, the constitutional reform
process has been chameleonic at best. In fact, it's as if someone is
deliberately holding the chameleon by the tail ensuring it goes nowhere
soon. It has barely moved. Someone somewhere has no desire whatsoever for a
new constitutional dispensation.

Almost a decade after the first farm seizures, nothing has changed. It
begs the question, if there is real and genuine desire to deal with this
matter once and for all, why has it taken so long to grab all the farms? Or
is there some careful planning in this apparent chaos? Could it be that this
matter must continue for as long as possible, grabbing a few farms at a time
and ensuring that the 'land-reform process' remains a 'key issue' on the
agenda? How long will this tragic drama go on? If there is real seriousness,
why not just grab them all at once and say the 'war' is over so they can get
on with business and start producing food for the nation?

Somehow, I have a feeling the show will go on for years to come
because the justification to maintain power must always be on the basis of
accomplishing the 'historic mission'. Sadly, the GNU has suffered and will
suffer for it.
ZANU PF has never been happy with the targeted sanctions regime
imposed by Western countries in the last decade. It blames them for the
country's economic collapse. It also blames the MDC for calling for
sanctions. The MDC appears to have acknowledged the debilitating effect of
sanctions although they have referred to them as 'restrictive measures'.
However, neither party has the power to lift sanctions. The Western
countries have shown no inclination to lift the sanctions as yet. It is fair
to say that the baby has not received the warmest of welcomes from some in
the world community.
Unsurprisingly, it didn't take long for the Honourables in Parliament
to demand their seats on the gravy train. MPs wanted their automobiles, the
4 x 4 variety made in foreign territories. They said these types of vehicles
were best suited to the country's roads, itself an admission that the road
network was less than pleasant. Never mind everyone else, we are MPs, they
seemed to be saying.
When there seemed to be some delay, the ever-generous Guvnor, 'Your
Governor' was on hand to offer automobiles to the Honourables. The
suggestion to purchase the vehicles from the local Willowvale Mazda Motor
Company was at first rejected. Someone later seemed to have come to their
senses. For their part, ministers bagged their multiple automobiles. One was
quoted as having remarked that Mercedes Benz is a sign of power. Indeed.
Only David Coltart, the Education Minister in charge of thousands of
restless and penurious teachers had the decency to reject the ostentatious
package. Long may the son of the soil be guided by a sense of responsibility
and one hopes, a few more will be converted.
Of the three political parties in government it would seem that one
comprises of MPS who are consistently on the wrong side of the law. Unless,
of course there is a conspiracy of persecution. Not less than ten MPs from
the MDC-T have been arrested on various charges ranging from the alleged
theft of a mobile telephone through to corruption, violence and rape.
It is remarkable that the law has been very kind to members of the
party that has been in power for almost 30 years of violence, corruption and
economic collapse. Unless, of course there is a conspiracy of protection.
Either way, the GNU's tenure has been blighted by accusations of the
selective application of the law.

The Zimbabwe Dollar was finally rested in 2009. Ok, it had long been
in the intensive care unit. In fact, it had been amputated a few times,
losing the accumulating zeroes but like a fertile tree that's been pruned,
the shoots grew relentlessly, fertilised by the economic and political chaos
in the country. Indeed, it may have died a few times but each time it
experienced miraculous resurrections not seen since Biblical times. The GNU
finally put it to rest, or so we thought.

The replacement multi-currency system ushered in the US Dollar and the
SA Rand as the dominant currencies. Although of course they had been the
principal currencies of choice in the parallel market, the new move simply
formalised the existing system.

This has tamed inflation though this reduction is no indication of a
revived economy. The only trouble is that the US Dollar "harisi kubatika"
(it's hard to get), as that man called Champion said at the funeral in
Njanja, when he asked for just a 'dhora' (dollar) to process maize into
maize-meal for his family. Of late however, there have been indications of
attempts to exhume and resurrect the ZimDollar.

I wonder why?
There is more that has happened during the year that cannot be
captured in a piece this size. Suffice to say, it has been a year of mixed
fortunes. Things seemed to have moved.

Then again, things seemed to have hardly moved. Perhaps, as they say,
old habits die hard. It is difficult to tell whether next year this time we
will be reviewing the second anniversary of the GPA. It could be that we
will be carrying a post-mortem of the GNU. Without trust and confidence
between the partners, there will be little improvement. Without a serious
commitment and genuine will, the credibility of the GNU will continue to be
held in extreme doubt.

Alex Magaisa is based at, Kent Law School, the University of Kent and
can be contacted at or

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Comment: Return of Dollar Needs Wider Debate

Saturday, 19 September 2009 16:29
MANY people watched in horror as they lost their savings or the value
of their earnings in Zimbabwe dollars overnight last year. Therefore the
issue of whether or not the Zimbabwe dollar should return must not be left
to politicians and the "technocrats" who caused so much suffering.
People who spent a lifetime saving for the proverbial rainy day were
impoverished overnight, while pensioners were rendered destitute. Therefore
to even entertain the very idea of a return of the local currency is to
demonstrate a remarkable degree of insensitivity.
Every Zimbabwean must demand a say on what currency this country
should adopt. After the debacle of last year, most Zimbabweans simply want
something that works and it is difficult to find anyone who will vote for
the return of the Zimbabwe dollar. Except the few with vested interests and
ulterior motives.
For example, the Harare City Council has established that stallholders
at municipal markets such as Mbare Musika and Mupedzanhamo are in fact
political bigwigs who are exploiting ordinary people without other sources
of income by charging five-fold what the council charges. In order to
preserve the status quo these sharks are threatening to besiege Town House
tomorrow in a demonstration intended to force council to allow continued
exploitation of the widowed, the unemployed and vulnerable.
Those advocating for the return of the Zimbabwe dollar are doing so
out of selfish considerations. They are seized with plundering of national
resources while condemning the majority of the citizens to poverty.

They are doing so because of considerations around how Zanu PF will
fund its election campaign at the next polls, as well as the desire to
perpetuate the Reserve Bank's quasi-fiscal activities.

Zimbabweans should not let the people who brought so much misery
decide something so fundamental and with far-reaching impact on the lives of
the people of this country.

But there are also contradictions that need to be addressed before
bowing down to the vocal minority that is impelled by its own personal
considerations. The African Union is driving the continent towards a
community, similar to the European Union. To this end there is already a
continental parliament.

At regional levels there already exists the Economic Community for
West Africa and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, of which
Zimbabwe is the current chair. Very soon a Sadc customs union will be

These regional economic groupings are building blocks towards a common
market for the continent.
The aim therefore must be eventual economic union of the member
nations, ultimately leading to a host of other innumerable benefits for
citizens and businesses.

The Minister of Finance last week suggested that the country pushes
for a regional currency instead of hankering for the return of the Zimbabwe
dollar. His argument is that there is need to look ahead to regional
integration instead of an obsession with parochial sovereignty

Whether Zimbabwe finds comfort in living in the past, the fact is
regional integration is the way to go.
Already South Africa, Namibia, Swaziland and Lesotho constitute the
Common Monetary Area that uses the rand as its currency.

The Short Term Emergency Recovery Programme uses the rand as a
reference currency.
There would be immediate benefits to the ordinary people who would not
require surrendering part of their hard-earned income in charges for
transactions when they need to travel across borders for holidays, business,
and medical imperatives or for their children's education.

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Sundayview: Are Zimbabweans Unwelcome Visitors to SA?

Saturday, 19 September 2009 16:22
A few years ago I was invited to attend Highway Africa, the annual get
together of African journalists at Rhodes University in South Africa. It was
during the time when Zimbabweans needed visas so I took my invitation letter
to the South African embassy to support my visa application.
As it turned out the letter and proof that I would not cost the South
African taxpayer anything whatever happened were not enough; I needed to
produce traveller's cheques. My argument that I did not think I needed them
fell on deaf ears and since I was not prepared to get the TCs I did not

When I got a similar invitation to attend Highway Africa '09 I seized
the opportunity with both hands since this time around I did not have to beg
for a visa. More than 500 African journalists descended on Grahamstown for
the packed three-day programme - proof enough that despite the best efforts
of many African governments to intimidate journalists, the profession is
alive and well.

Besides the perennial issues of democracy and development, reporting
Africa's first football World Cup in 2010 loomed large on the agenda at
Highway Africa '09.

We even got an opportunity to tour the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in
Port Elizabeth which seats 46 000 and were very impressed.

All went well until the last day when South Africa Tourism hosted the
farewell reception. Before dinner SA Tourism's Advertising and Marketing
manager Ian Utermohlen addressed the journalists. He spoke of the big
welcome awaiting people from other African countries in 2010.

He the reeled off the numbers of people who had visited South Africa
last year and the money their visits had generated. Botswana, Lesotho,
Swaziland, Kenya and even far-flung Nigeria are some of the countries he

The other Zimbabweans and I in the audience waited to hear how many of
us had travelled to South Africa and how much money we had left with our
southern neighbour but our wait was in vain.

Now, we all know that hundreds if not thousands of us cross our
southern border every day and a lot of us spend money in South Africa so we
were curious to know the reason behind Utermohlen's omission.
The problem was he was hosting the evening and though the temptation
to walk up to his table was really strong we all thought that was not

Some wag volunteered that maybe Zimbabwe was not mentioned because it
is now a province of South Africa. "We use their money and our shops are
overloaded with their products - so much for sovereignty," he complained

But then Guy Berger, the head of Rhodes University School of
Journalism and Media Studies walked past our table and we brought Utermohlen's
omission to his attention. Berger suggested we should ask Utermohlen but we
still thought it would be discourteous to approach him so Berger took our
concerns to the SA tourism man.

To his credit Utermohlen came across to our table, shook hands with
everybody and mumbled an apology. We asked about the omission but did not
get an explanation as to why Zimbabwe was airbrushed out of the picture.

So we were left to guess. One of us speculated that maybe the speech
was written for a European audience and Zimbabwe being in the bad books of
many European countries South Africa wanted to keep its distance.

Whatever the reason for Utermohlen's faux pas, it raised that nagging
question as to whether we are really welcome in South Africa at official
level. The xenophobia attacks against Zimbabweans and other African
"foreigners" have been well documented. I won't go into detail here.

What I sometimes suspect is that the proclamations of solidarity and
pan-African brotherhood by the politicians of some of our neighbouring
countries are nothing but hollow platitudes. We have become the poor cousins
of the neighbourhood and we are not welcome in their countries.

I just cannot believe that the South African authorities and their
Zimbabwean counterparts are not aware of the harassment Zimbabweans face at

My suspicion is that this abuse is the new way of discouraging us from
visiting South Africa since we do not need visas to enter South Africa
anymore. I have been through that border post many times during the days
when we needed visas and have never had to spend more than an hour to get
processed going either way. Rather than being a blessing many who have
crossed the border at Beitbridge since the visa waiver swear it is a curse.

They reason that when visas were required you knew if you could go or
not before leaving home. My own brother spent five long hours in line
awaiting the immigration stamp that would allow him passage into South
Africa. He said the immigration officials were on a go-slow because too many
Zimbabweans are crossing into their country. Those who were in a hurry could
jump the queue - for a small fee, of course.
And I have heard more tales of this abuse from numerous other
Zimbabweans whose only crime was that they wanted to cross into South Africa
for one reason or another. On August 16 The Mail and Guardian Daily Thought
Online published a damning account of Jeremiah Kure's experience at
Beitbridge. Kure, described as a professional working in South Africa spent
six hours waiting to get processed so he could cross into Zimbabwe. He

"Scanning the weary crowd, I saw women and children being jostled by
haughty South African police officers and immigration officials. As the
queue heaved and shuffled inch by inch, I listened to personal accounts of
women and children who had been waiting in the queues from the night before
for more than 10 hours, pleading to the officials for passage. All of a
sudden there was a stampede at the front of the queue, with terror-stricken
women fleeing a policeman wielding a sjambok.

"The woman who had been whipped was sobbing and shaking her head from
side to side. It was at that point that I became angry, distraught and
disoriented because of the treatment being meted out to innocent people
whose only crime was to be travelling through the border on that day."

I agree, there may be more of us travelling south since the visa
waiver and due to the non-performance of our economy we will continue to
cross that border in droves, some of us to shop, some of us to look for work
but also a lot of us as tourists. So maybe it's about time our leaders
raised this issue with their South African counterparts.

After all that country has benefited more than any other from our
economic woes, not just in monetary terms but a lot of our highly skilled
citizens have also joined the trek south. Besides the thousands of unskilled
Zimbabweans the South Africans love to whinge about there are thousands
others holding very important posts in their banking, IT, health and other

But the best - and only - solution is to get our country working again
so we can regain the respect we used to enjoy in the region and beyond
before the disintegration of our economy. By so doing we can avoid going to
places where we are not welcome and choose to spend our money in countries
where we are treated as fellow human beings.


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Zim Standard Letters

Conflicting Interests Behind Teachers' Strike

Saturday, 19 September 2009 16:15
THE industrial action by teachers has been described as one
characterised by confusion. One commentary praised the Progressive Teachers'
Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) and the Teachers' Union of Zimbabwe (TUZ) for going
against the strike.

But the PTUZ, Zimbabwe Teachers' Association (Zimta) and TUZ
themselves have been sending conflicting positions. So what exactly is the
nature and impact of this strike?

My observation is that the strike has a three-fold dimension. Firstly,
the leaders from the three teachers' unions have always carried
diametrically opposed ideological positions. Zimta has mutated from the
colonial association that it once was to its present form. It has been the
vanguard of teacher agitation against the employer.

Unfortunately after independence, it started to elect leaders who also
dabbled in ruling party politics. This compromised their agitation.
Subsequent strikes exposed their double standards. During the early 1990s,
young university graduates then started to challenge the lackadaisical
approach by Zimta leadership to pertinent professional issues.

Zimta's hierarchy has also historically been the preserve of school
managers. This new crop of disenchanted young Turks then formed the PTUZ. It
was, and still is militant, radical and confrontational. These were the
1990s. The politics of the land "revolution" brought another kid on the
block - TUZ. We were told TUZ was spearheaded by Joseph Chinotimba's
Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions. It was conceived to dilute PTUZ's
militancy. That's precisely when Raymond Majongwe and Takavafira Zhou could
be arrested at any turn for "inciting" teachers.

Aeneas Chigwedere, when he was the Minister of Education, Sport and
Culture, refused to recognise the PTUZ. Zimta felt the presence of this
group, thereby recognizing the threat it posed to its hitherto unchallenged
TUZ's perceived militancy was steeped in the Chinotimba's psyche - a
menace to anything anti-Mugabe. So this group could even threaten PTUZ
members with physical harm if they called for strikes. From early 2000 up to
now Zimta and PTUZ have always called for separate strikes as they competed
for members and the vast ideological difference. The government could be
soft on any Zimta strike with Mugabe at one time lamenting, "naivo veduwo
veZimta vave kujoinawo".
On the other hand, they could descend ruthlessly on any strike by the
PTUZ members. They were quick to discharge or relocate them to rural areas,
even now with the current Permanent Secretary. Those were Chigwedere's days.
With the advent of the inclusive government, these dynamics have not
changed much. It's only the new minister who is level-headed. This then
brings me to the second dimension. This second strike dimension is steeped
in perceived national political considerations.

There is a perception of Zimta as being Zanu PF-friendly, with the
PTUZ being considered MDC-T-friendly without a doubt. TUZ is glaringly
pro-Zanu PF. So any power dynamics that pits Zanu PF against the MDC-T is
perceived to manifest itself in the two major teachers' unions. How true
this could be, I leave to the discerning readers.

As a result there is an argument that the current Zimta strike is
simply meant to further Zanu PF's anti-inclusive government stance. Whereas
PTUZ's anti-strike stance is seen as giving the inclusive government a
chance to find its feet.

Analysts point to the fact that PTUZ has always championed the cause
of the disadvantaged, thereby pitting themselves against the state. They say
this is where parallels are drawn with the MDC-T. As a result, some view the
strike along these political lines. Whether true or false that is the
finding the discerning reader will have to make.

The last dimension is the varying opinions among the generality of
teachers. Some follow their leaders because they also see things from a
different political persuasion. This group is politically conscious.

There are also those who are swayed by the prevailing political mood
within their leaders. The other group is of cowards. This group does not
join a strike no matter who calls it. They fear for their jobs. The last is
a group of lazy teachers. These naturally don't want to work. Any strike
call is acceptable. So the confusion of others reporting while others are
not falls into any of these.
Ultimately it's not the government image that suffers but innocent

Odrix Moyo Sithole

Sanctions Talk Blatant lies

Saturday, 19 September 2009 16:13
IT is really a shame for a seasoned politician like Dr Nathan
Shamuyarira to continue to believe in his party's propaganda about sanctions
when there are unresolved issues affecting ordinary people.

At the moment we face mass unemployment, health and education problems
which have not been resolved inspite of the advent of the inclusive
government. Zanu PF bootlickers such as Ephraim Masawi, George Charamba and
others also continue to sing the same song about sanctions.

These greedy politicians should be reminded that targeted sanctions
were brought about by their own conduct of subjecting Zimbabweans to untold
suffering while they themselves and their close relatives were living in
comfort and building empires based on their ill-gotten wealth which in some
cases is beyond imagination.

The foolish, blind, ignorant and poor Zanu PF supporters have nothing
of their own except poverty and numerous T-shirts. As far as they are
concerned, it is enough. Because of their ignorance, these Zanu PF
supporters never read independent newspapers for them to get the truth about
the extent of their cheating leadership that is only keen to abuse their
followers to obtain votes while amassing wealth.

A few of them were recently featured in the private media, which
uncovered the extent of their wealth which could not possibly have come from
their government salaries.

A politician like Shamuyarira, whose speeches we heard and adored
during the 1960s now blames the MDC and Morgan Tsvangirai for Zanu PF's long
and evil misrule of Zimbabwe. If Shamuyarira was honest, he would be ashamed
of himself for not telling the truth. He must put the blame for all of
Zimbabwe's complex problems squarely on Mugabe's failed policies.

The present Zanu PF refrain about "sanctions, sanctions, sanctions!"
by its leadership and blind supporters although now the top song on their
political propaganda hit parade, fools no one.

D R Mutungagore

Zimta's Newly Found Militancy Highly Suspicious

Saturday, 19 September 2009 16:10
THE behaviour of the Zimbabwe Teachers Associations (Zimta) is nothing
short of suspicious. Many people will recall clearly that Zimta was as
silent as the grave when teachers were earning peanut shells (last year)
when their Zimbabwean dollar salary was equivalent to US$1.

Those were the hard days when the government of President Robert
Mugabe neglected virtually all the social services. Ordinary Zimbabweans
sympathized with the plight of the teachers and scores of teachers left the
profession for menial tasks in Botswana and South Africa in an endeavour to
make ends meet.
The only organisation which was heard to raise it's voice against the
plight of the down trodden teachers was the Progressive Teachers' Union of
Zimbabwe (PTUZ).

Today, it is shocking that those teachers who are now earning 150
times more than their last year's salaries are now refusing to go to work.

While I sympathise with the plight of the teachers that their salaries
are not enough for sustenance, they should appreciate that they are at least
getting something, as compared to last year when they were earning literally

The cancer of corruption is indeed devouring our society. We are now
living in a society without values and ethics. The teachers have joined
their counterparts in the civil service. Today the word corruption is
synonymous with the civil service - thanks to President Mugabe!

Everyone working for the government is now known for being
bribe-crazy. Look at the police and now it's the teachers.

It is shocking today to realise that teachers are spending the whole
term idling only to call for extra lessons during the holidays so now the
education enterprise is now heavily mercenarised.

I would like to advise the parents to desist from supporting this
unscrupulous exercise of promoting corruption, because they are going to
suffer tomorrow in order to perpetuate a system they started and encouraged.

To the teachers, be proud Zimbabweans and serve your country. The
money you are crying for is not there yet. It is not printed in Zimbabwe and
begging is not a reliable source of income. Serve your society and country.
Finally to the government: please try to do something for the teachers.

Mlungisi Dube

Ideal Opportunity to Promote Disabled Children's Rights

Saturday, 19 September 2009 16:07
THE constitution-making process is an opportunity to change the
attitudes of society towards disability and promote the rights of children
with disabilities.

We should have a dream of a time when the birth of a disabled child is
greeted with as much joy and hope for the future as is given to a
non-disabled child and that the unique experience of each disabled child is
recognised as an exceptional gift to the dignity and humanity of us all.

This can be achieved by introducing non-discrimination legislation
with an explicit reference to disability as a ground for protection against
discrimination. Education legislation should also spell out the right to
education for all children including the disabled and non-disabled.

The constitution should challenge prejudice and ignorance and promote
public education campaigns to overcome prejudice, misconceptions and lack of
understanding of the nature and implications of disability and to promote
respect for the equal rights of disabled people.

It should also promote the creation of inclusive environments which
facilitate the respect for all the rights of disabled people, for example
taking an analysis of the physical, cultural, social and economic barriers
which impede inclusion and develop strategies to overcome such barriers.

To enforce such laws, in my view, the constitution should have an
equality clause which must be backed by equality courts "which bite". The
equality clause should include all minority groups; be it race, tribe and or
physical condition, including the vulnerable groups. This should be backed
by a court which implements and ensures the equality of all Zimbabwean
citizens whether disabled or non-disabled, whether black or white.

The government must make a constitutional provision for every child to
have a free, good quality, public education. All people, whatever their age,
should have the opportunity to become literate by having access to life-long
learning and skills training.

Governments with more resources and international institutions must
guarantee predictable and long-term development aid to education that
enables poorer countries to deliver the full "Education For All agenda,"
that includes literacy for the disabled.

Clemence Nhliziyo
Young Voices
Kambuzuma, Harare.

Hidden Agenda

Saturday, 19 September 2009 16:06
IT is now very clear the only reason Zanu PF agreed to an inclusive
government with MDC was in the hope that travel bans on Robert Mugabe and
his cohorts would be removed but now that this has failed, they wouldn't
care less if it collapsed tomorrow. That is the nature of the beast in our


SMS The Standard
Saturday, 19 September 2009 16:02
Shameless bias
HOW can anyone call for the lifting of sanctions when the local
state-controlled media - ZTV, ZBC and Zimpapers are still overtly actively
biased as if the inclusive government is a one-party system? That is the
very abuse of rights and power Zimbabwe is always accused of. We want to
watch the three parties in action on television and hear them on radio, not
just one of them. - Tired, Masvingo.

WE appreciate the need to renovate Mbare hostels, but what are the
current dwellers being charged rent for? Is the Harare City Council proud of
the living conditions at the hostels? - Irked, Harare.
Stop the extortion
SOME youths in Chitungwiza's Seke Unit O are demanding $1 per family
before they can be allowed to fetch water from boreholes drilled and
installed with the assistance of Unicef. They are denying those who cannot
pay access to the water. Please stop this extortion. - Thirsty, Chitungwiza.
I wonder whether journalists who pen hate language daily enjoy their
work? Why are they bent on dividing the people of Zimbabwe? Leave that
unprofessional conduct to the parrots at the sole broadcasting station. -
Patriot, Chiredzi.

IS Media Watch programme aired on Mondays by ZTV designed to solely
provide a platform to Dr Maxwell Hove to criticise the MDC? - Confused.

WHETHER the propagandists like it or not there is no going back on the
new people-driven constitution. - (This time) Havalume - SG, Kuwadzana 4.
Chaos ahead

IF the inclusive government's lifespan goes beyond the people's
expectations of two years I can foresee chaos. We are totally unhappy with
this arrangement and this is not what we voted for in March 2008. The victor
is now the victim. - Owen Chiyangwa.
THE MDC and the people of Zimbabwe must call Zanu PF's bluff. We have
had enough. Let our faith be in God.
Irritating signs
WHAT is the point of shops maintaining signs which say they are
licensed to sell goods in foreign currency? They irritate me. - Morris.
JONATHAN Moyo should be appointed Minister of Entertainment, Galas
etc. That is what he deserves. - Galas, Masvingo.
Moyo belongs in Zanu PF
JONATHAN Moyo didn't rejoin Zanu PF. He never left it. It's just like
saying Moses Chunga left Dynamos, when it is known he is a DeMbare son. Moyo
will always be Zanu PF. We will not miss him. The only advice we can give
him is: Please don't forget to destroy it from within and start campaigning
for higher office. - Unshaken A M, Harare.
GIDEON Gono played no part in the IMF's US$510m allocation, contrary
to Zanu PF media. If he was a professional, he would have long left the
Reserve Bank. Failure is an option. - Papa.
Go for quid pro quo
GIDEON Gono and Johannes Tomana should be pardoned and given a new
chance under new and clearly defined laws because whatever they did was done
under the subjective confines of the previous government, which at that time
was legal conduct. Therefore in order to reach a full compromise towards
final agreement of fulfilling the Global Political Agreement the so-called
outstanding issues - that is Gono and Tomana remaining and Roy Bennett being
sworn in. This will pave way for crafting a new people-driven constitution
and achievement of a decisive turning point to inclusivity. - A M, Harare.
LET'S dualise our highways in order to reduce carnage on our roads. It
is time the responsible authorities started some projects towards the
development of the roads. - Gone, Harare.
Wasting talent
TO talent scouts: The only reason why our national team loses so many
matches is because youngsters in schools are not being identified and
encouraged. For example, St Ignatius, Goromonzi has stars in its team. Clubs
need to do something about these youngsters so that we begin to upgrade the
standards of local football. - Moyosviyi, Concession.
RAYMOND Majongwe is misleading teachers in the Progressive Teachers'
Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ). On September 11, 2009 during a meeting at Gweru
Theatre, he criticised President Robert Mugabe and his previous government
of corruption yet he is using the union's vehicle for personal gain -
ferrying his musical band. Please step down and join the MDC if you want
politics. PTUZ is a union for teachers and not politicians.- Cde, Gweru.

I AM a teacher affiliated to the Progressive Teachers' Union of
Zimbabwe. Their promises are fruitless. - Ticha.
The real heroes
WHEN it was dangerous to lead teachers, Raymond Majongwe and
Takavafira Zhou stood up. It is tragic that teachers could now view these
two as enemies. Where was the Zimbabwe Teachers' Association (Zimta) and
Janjaweed when the teachers were earning R2? Why were the Zimta strike
circulars issued by people using Mahindra and CAM vehicles? Give us a break!
We know the real heroes for the teachers. - Rural teacher.

THE Zimbabwe Teachers' Association brought its strike letters using
Mahindra cars and war veterans are chasing us from classrooms. Is this a
genuine strike? - Teacher, Buhera.

TAFATAONA Mahoso went to the interviews for the Zimbabwe Media
Commission (ZMC) with his own set of hard and weird ideas and thought he
would be given an hour. Instead the Parliamentary Standing Rules and Order
Committee gave him six simple questions for just 12 minutes and he flunked
the interview. All he is fond of is complicating things everywhere. There is
no place for such distractions in the new Zimbabwe. - W Moyo, Harare.

LET it be known that Zanu PF is that party that resisted and tried to
subvert change. But history tells us that change will change and confine
them to the dustbins because change is inevitable. - Maitiro Gandanga.

What is the Harare City Council doing about the harassment of public
and private transport picking up people on their way out of town, for
example, along Leopold Takawira outside Girls' High School and outside NSSA
building and at the corner of Herbert Chitepo along Sam Nujoma. They should
stop persecuting people who are trying to help. The council would have been
justified it they had established designated pick up points around the city.
How much fuel is being wasted through this skewed exercise? - Commuter,

ALL the countries in the region have GPRS-WAP services where a
subscriber gets settings from the service provider and gets started using
his/her airtime. Why is Econet not doing the same, which is easier instead
of asking for a monthly charge? - Wanda, Victoria Falls.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

The return of the bloody diamonds: Miners at gunpoint in Zimbabwe
In a remote corner of Zimbabwe, the true worth of a vast new diamond field emerges. Robert Mugabe's response? To allow his mutinous military to enslave villagers as miners and seize the profits - and destroy fragile protocols against blood diamonds.
Foreign Reporter of the Year Dan McDougall and photographer Robin Hammond risked their lives to get dramatic first-hand evidence of the unimaginable suffering of the miners for Live magazine. Their despatch poses the question - can you go into your local jewellers with a clear conscience ever again?


Last updated at 9:30 PM on 19th September 2009

Diamond miners

Diamond miners are being used by the military and police to extract stones despite threats from the Kimberley Process of sanctions against Zimbabwe for the practice

The mailashas emerge as cautiously as impala from the shadows of scorched yellow kikuyu grass that fringes the long highway to Mutare. Their name translates as 'smugglers'. It's our first sight of them. There are three in all and they're no more than 14 years old.

They reach out into the road at the approach of our slowing BMW and take a deadly gamble, forming their fingers into a distinctive diamond shape. In their damp palms are tiny grains of diamond. They have chosen the final thralls of dusk - a time of shadows and distraction, when the sights of army patrol rifles are blinded by the vast and sinking orange glow in the sky - to make their sales pitch to a car full of strangers.

Clicking off from his mother-tongue, Shona, our translator throws down his mobile phone in a panic and shouts at me to drive on.

'We mustn't stop,' he screams. 'They'll be dead in a week. The road is littered with the bones of smugglers. They are signing a death warrant by sticking their necks out on this cursed road.'

We've driven ten hours from the South African border in a fog of frayed nerves and off-road diversions to avoid army checkpoints. Posing as black-market diamond traders, we're travelling towards the very hell they are fleeing: Zimbabwe's Wild East. Here, within hiking range of the road we're driving, are the remote diamond fields of Marange, shallow earth mines uncompromisingly controlled by Robert Mugabe's henchmen.

The full extent of the diamond fields in eastern Zimbabwe became clear following discoveries made in June 2006. They're vast - 400 square miles - making the scrubland amid the bleakly beautiful mountainscape possibly the world's biggest diamond field. The finds were made by British prospecting firm African Consolidated Resources (ACR). It had just taken over the rights to explore the area from De Beers, which had failed to renew its mining licences despite having found diamonds before 2006.

A miner holds up a diamond

A miner holds up a diamond he's attempting to sell behind the backs of the military and police

There was an outcry in the West. Critics such as Global Witness claimed ACR was making little more than a Faustian pact with Mugabe, the most vilified leader on the African stage.

Maybe it was fateful, then, that in September 2006, Mugabe's Zanu-PF government reneged on the deal and seized back the mining rights to the region. When Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made army pay almost worthless, soldiers rioted in the capital Harare.

Without the patronage of the military, Mugabe faced losing power. Against the ruling of the country's courts, he ceded mining operations to the direct control of the police and army.

Amid public confusion over ownership, a diamond rush began around the Marange fields. Over 10,000 illegal artisanal miners invaded the site and began working small plots. But by January 2007, the governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, Gideon Gono, warned that the country was losing up to $50 million a week through gold and diamond smuggling.

The diamond industry is a licence to print money for the military. With guns, brute force and a terrified population, everything runs like clockwork

The response of both the police and, in particular, the army to bring their interests under control was brutal. Launching Operation No Return in October 2008, the army ordered a shoot-on-sight policy, killing hundreds of illegal miners. Men were strafed by helicopter gunship, and a cordon was set up around the diamond fields. As many as 10,000 villagers living near the fields were relocated 15 miles away.

The army then set about doing the unthinkable: recruiting those same villagers under gunpoint and forcing them to dig for diamonds. This is the situation that remains today.

The UN is the only international body that can isolate pariah nations dealing in 'blood diamonds' - stones produced in conflict zones - and salve our consciences when we buy jewellery. It's backed by the Kimberley Process, whereby diamond-producing and trading nations commit to strict self-regulation to keep blood diamonds out of the world's supply.

As a Kimberley Process review panel prepares to rule on Zimbabwe's future as an exporter of gems, a Live magazine investigation has uncovered shocking first-hand evidence of the violent enslavement of alluvial miners in the eastern badlands of the former British colony. These men, women and children are being forced at the barrel of a gun by soldiers to dig out tiny diamonds from the earth with their bare hands, to pay the troops' wages and thereby keep Mugabe in power.

A miner in Zimbabwe tunnels into the ground

A miner in Zimbabwe tunnels into the ground

Our report, which we're submitting to the review panel, comes just weeks after the Zimbabwean government assured the world its diamonds were ethical. The situation as it stands makes a mockery of the Kimberley Process.

The young men stand at the roadside shaking. The youngest, weeping with fear, shouts and pleads with his captors. His mouth is foaming. Heknows that this is just the beginning of his torment. Handcuffed together and forced to lean against a baobab tree, their trousers at their ankles, blood streams down their buttocks - a common sight in war zones: a humiliation and a warning to others. The soldiers sit nearby smoking cigarettes, waiting for the truck to come so they can carry on their torturing in private.

Everyone on this road is suspected of being a diamond smuggler. The road to Mutare has become one of the most militarised in all Africa. Army checkpoints scar the highway at 500-yard intervals. Everywhere is the detritus of soldiers: cigarettes, moonshine bottles and bullet casings. Scorched earth from cooking fires stains the lay-bys. At regular intervals, women stand behind pulled-over buses, their hands stretched in the air as their private parts are invaded and frisked by scruffy soldiers and radicalised youngsters from the Zanu-PF's youth training centres.

The youngest, weeping with fear, shouts and pleads with his jailers. His mouth is foaming. He knows that this is just the beginning of his torment

According to a 2009 Human Rights Watch report, army brigades are now being rotated in the Marange region to satisfy senior ranking officers from different divisions so that more soldiers can profit from the diamond trade. The same report also states that villagers from the area, some of them children, are being forced to work in mines controlled by military syndicates.

At times you can almost make out the word ' diamonds' in slow-motion on their lips as the young soldiers ruthlessly tug at bra straps, sexually abusing, humiliating and tormenting their subjects. The motivation for the police and military to stop the flow of smuggling is simple and calculating: diamonds are their domain.

We are posing as diamond buyers from Israel, and are on the road just south of Mutare, the provincial capital on the Mozambique border. At each checkpoint the car is painstakingly searched. The soldiers will then pull us aside and produce small gritty slivers of diamond from hidden belt pockets in their military fatigues. The going rate for poor stones is $35 a gram. In the West, the price would be 20 times as high.

Diamond miners in the Marange fields

Diamond miners in the Marange fields scrape through dirt trying to find stones

The closer we get to the mining fields the purer the stones become and the more our translator warns us our lives are in danger. Even with our cover as diamond dealers we are out on a limb here. At each checkpoint the soldiers tell us that most of the dealers are black - Nigerians.

We decide the only safe way for us into the diamond fields is to park ten miles away and hike into the bush at 4am. As we set off, in the darkness, everyone is terrified.

'If we are caught they'll shoot us and bury us in the bush until our bones are ready to be taken away elsewhere,' our translator says, on the verge of tears.

Heading to the diamond field of Chiadzwa, in the Marange district, we hear in the wilderness a pack of wild bush dogs ripping apart the carcass of one of their own. Hunted down by forest-dwelling illegal diamond prospectors and with no prey on which to feed, the desperate beasts have turned to cannibalism.

Zimbabwe diamond map

After three hours we're entering Chiadzwa's alluvial mine fields; a further three hours in the bush, doubts set in and the fear that we're lost deepens. We continue for five hours more even though we run out of water and are forced to drink from bore holes, where donkey droppings float on the surface of the water. Faced with sunstroke, there's no alternative. Finally we come across a group of illegal miners, each panning the parched, sandy earth.

From below the mountainside where we're standing, others emerge like shrews from holes in the ground, their black faces stained with grey dust and sand, their bloodshot eyes illuminated by dripping wax candles. They are some of the thousands of miners in the region who dig through the earth with blunt pickaxes and bare hands.

Some of the men and women who scrape through the dead earth here call the area the 'Eye' - as the mine gets more challenging and dangerous, the further you're drawn into it.

Most, without irony, call it churu chamai Mujuru - Mrs Mujuru's ant-hill. Mrs Mujuru is the country's Vice President and wife of its former army chief, General Solomon Mujuru. She is well known for her fondness for diamonds.

The dream that forces the miners to take extreme risks is not just a simple frosty-grey stone. They believe diamonds can bring liberation from their bonded status. Success is a stone no bigger than a newborn child's thumbnail; that's the price of freedom.

Like all miners in the region, these people are now working in small syndicates for the Zimbabwean military, each team satisfying individual soldiers who must pass the best gems further up the chain of command. According to the Human Rights Watch report, the syndicates are being operated with the full sanction of the Harare government.

The report says that at a time when Zimbabwe is struggling to pay civil servants and soldiers a stipend of barely $100 a month, the extra income from diamond mining for soldiers is serving 'to mollify a constituency whose loyalty to Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF, in the context of ongoing political strife, is essential'.

One of the miners, Jona, emerges from the ground shrouded in dust, looking like a ghost. At first, startled by our presence, he moves to run but he stretches out his palm for a few South African Rand in return for conversation.

'We have no choice but to do this,' he says. 'The soldiers rounded us up in the night and they have threatened to kill our families. It's always the diamonds. What do they mean to people in the West? What do they mean to you when my people, the Manyika, are dead men walking?'

Zimbabwean soldiers guard the outskirts of a rally in support of President Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe

The ever-present Zimbabwean military guard the outskirts of a rally in support of President Robert Mugabe

He contemptuously spits out bitter peanut shells.

'We are forever in the eye of our killer: the Zimbabwean army sniper, the policeman, the spy. Our enemy is brutal but we must feed our children and mining here in the darkness is the only way out. It is pitiful and many of us have been killed but what else can we do?'

Jona says the biggest stone he has found in the fields was several years ago - from his rough description, a diamond of around 2.20 carats.

'We worked for the police back then and things weren't as intense, so we could get stones out. I sold that one for $200 to a businessman from Harare. You could see through a corner of it like a piece of glass.'

I tell Jona his stone might have fetched as much as 7,000 in Antwerp or London. He shrugs and kicks the ground at his feet.

'It was my chance to get out but I had to split the money and then, later, the police came to my house and took most of the rest. I was left with about $100 and they beat me to find that but I didn't give in. They hit my kidneys with batons over and over again. I passed blood for months and couldn't walk. But I kept my money.'

As we speak, a second miner in his mid-twenties approaches us and waves his pickaxe mockingly. He refuses to give his name but allows us to photograph him digging. He bears the scars and sorrows of a man three times his age. In his cracked hands are a few tiny grains of what looks like glass: tiny diamond slivers, practically worthless. He seems to think we are making a purchase, so he eggs us on to handle the miserable grey stones.

The soldiers stabbed me with their bayonets and beat us to the point that I couldn't feel pain any more

'We've been working this site for a month but found only a few diamonds. Further up the valley there is more promise - there we use shovels to dam off small sections of the streams. There are bigger diamonds in the centre of the Eye but the military hover over everyone there at gunpoint, watching the miners like hawks. When they are done, they search mouths, anal passages and even rip open wounds to see if miners have hidden stones in their flesh.'

As the man speaks the rain suddenly comes down hard, washing the blood-red mud from the ground over his bare feet.

'You must go,' he says. 'If they find you here they will kill us all.'

Just as the history of the Arab Gulf states is tied to the region's oil, the discovery of diamonds in Africa has shaped the continent's borders and remains one of the leading causes of conflict. It is no accident that Africa's most war-torn countries of the past decade - Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of Congo - are also among its most diamond-rich nations, as well as the poorest and least developed.

In 2000 the UN responded to international outrage over illegal trade in blood diamonds from despotic nations such as Liberia and Ivory Coast by creating the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS). It requires all exporters to register their diamonds with their respective governments before any can be certified legal and shipped abroad with the paperwork.

Since then, mostly through clever marketing on the part of the diamond industry, the issue of blood diamonds has largely fallen off the political agenda. This is despite the appeals of pressure groups such as Amnesty International and Global Witness, who claim the problem is still a long way from being resolved.

The reality is that across the African continent, millions of miners - many of them children - continue to scour the earth at gunpoint looking for gems. Most of those that are found are sold well below their market value to illegal diamond traders.

The stones are then smuggled out to cutting centres around the world, without tax being paid. This means that none of the benefits of such mining find their way back to the people of Africa. Where they are mined responsibly - Botswana, South Africa, Namibia - diamonds can contribute to development and stability.

Where governments are corrupt, soldiers pitiless and borders porous, the stones remain agents of slave labour, murder, dismemberment, displacement and economic collapse.

Miner Tendaimoyo

Miner Tendaimoyo shows the scars he claims were inflicted by soldiers during a punishment beating

Today in Zimbabwe, diamonds are continuing to destroy lives. But until the international community brands these gems as 'blood diamonds', stones from one of the world's most troubled nations will continue to find their way on to London's Bond Street.

In some respects, Zimbabwe's soldiers have a tough job keeping track of their prized assets. Diamonds are tradeable and portable; they can be mined with a pick and shovel in many places. They also can be smuggled in many of the ways drugs are not. With diamonds there is no odour to aid border guards with dogs. Over the years, diamonds have been ingested, concealed in body cavities, hidden in wounds. Desperate people do desperate things - and never more so than when there is the prospect of riches in place of utter poverty.

A diamond rush - as has taken place in Zimbabwe - happens for a reason: people who live around the alluvial fields are starving and desperate.

'Young men cannot bear to watch their mothers, sisters and wives starve to death,' says our translator.

But those same factors that see miners lose diamonds to the brutal middlemen also work in their favour. On an international scale, tracing stones is virtually impossible.

Michael Vaughan, executive board member of the Diamantkring, one of Antwerp's four main diamond exchanges, said recently that regardless of protocol and the regulations imposed by the Kimberley Process, his entire business depended on trust. If diamonds have been smuggled by African rebels and re-packaged elsewhere he'd never know about it.

Eli Haas, president of the New York Diamond Dealers' Club, goes one step further.

'There is no way to tell where a diamond comes from. Diamonds don't have identifying marks and probably never will. You just can't look at a diamond and say, yes, it comes from Sierra Leone or the Congo. Only God knows this.'

A lawyer in Mutare, Zimbabwe's diamond capital, said, 'The diamond industry is a licence to print money for the Zimbabwean military. With any commodity in Africa, it's about securing your logistics and export routes. You run the army so you control the people, turning them into slaves to dig the earth for diamonds.

'You own the highways and control the checkpoints so getting the diamonds out is even simpler. Army and police lorries have the rule of the highways so getting to the borders, South Africa in the south or Mozambique in the east, is never a problem. You control customs on one side and bribe officials on the other. With guns, brute force and a desperate and terrified local population, everything runs like clockwork.'

We've been directed to a remote village at the edge of the Chiadzwa field. We enter the compound but there's a ghostly silence. The residents have long gone, beaten out of their homes by the military and moved 25 miles away. But a whistle goes out: watchmen looking out for soldiers. In a small hut we find Tendaimoyo. The search for his story has brought us as deep into the bush as we can get.

'We can live here by day, and then at night we go out and dig,' he says. 'But we change it around. I know what happens when we get caught digging outside the syndicates.'

As we speak, Tendaimoyo pulls down his trousers and bares the livid scars that cover his buttocks - the aftermath of a brutal army baton attack.

Sometimes reporting from Africa is hard; unless you have seen it for yourself, you are wary of fully accepting any account at face value. But these wounds are unmistakeable; they are raw and open and stand out against his skin. He sits in excruciating pain and tells us he is not finished. On his chest there are puncture marks from knives and through his kneecap a piercing hole - an open wound the size of a golf ball.

'The soldiers came here and found us at a digging site close by,' he says. 'We were working for them at that time but they told us we had produced no diamonds and we deserved to be punished. They gathered a crowd around me and stabbed me through the leg with their bayonets.

'Another of our group was stabbed in the stomach. They then beat us to the point that I couldn't feel the pain any more, and exposed our buttocks like they were playing a game. I looked at my two friends on the ground across from me. Their legs were streaming with blood. One of them had died, and blood was streaming from his eyes and ears. I passed out.'

In the dark recesses of his hut, Tendaimoyo is boiling traditional madhumbe, a wild indigenous tuber root found only in the foothills of Chiadzwa.

'My journey here was for my family. I was a cow herder but the owner of the cattle died, and the army took his animals for food. Then the army told us they wanted our land for mining so they poisoned our water to forcibly relocate us. Our only chance is here in the dirt. I have nothing to lose. They almost killed me before. As I lay on the ground I made my peace with my family - but they stopped.'

Tendaimoyo told me he had also survived the helicopter strafing by the Zimbabwean military.

'When the helicopters first came they dropped tear gas for the first hour. Then they started shooting. People were running wildly everywhere, stumbling over the dead. I saw children die. After it was over, they moved in with dogs and I witnessed women being bitten to death.

'They raid us every week now, even though 90 per cent of the miners here work for them as slaves. The raids are part of a circus, normally to empty the fields of workers so foreign inspectors cannot interview them.

'Now the army carries out raids - small units go out and target miners who aren't cooperating. They don't shoot them - they beat their kidneys until they bleed and the men pass out and die. Their bodies are put into holes and covered up. The site is then made off-limits and when the army comes back round again to remove the bones, the flesh has been eaten by insects and rats.'

Diamond panners scrape through dirt trying to find diamonds

Diamonds are tradeable and portable; they can be mined with a pick and shovel in many places

At least a dozen miners interviewed by Live claimed that plain-clothes officers from Zimbabwe's Criminal Investigation Department had started the diamond rush by turning up in the Mutare area with suitcases full of freshly printed notes. The men said they'd been given the money by Gideon Gorno, the head of Zimbabwe's fragile banking system. At the time they claimed to be representing a government company called Fidelity. But there is no record that such a body ever existed. According to the miners, the difference between selling black-market diamonds to the Zimbabwe CID in 2007 and the situation today is their freedom to move.

'We are in a locked-down world,' says Tendaimoyo.

'Everywhere there are patrols looking for diamonds. Women are intimately searched, men have teeth pulled out with pliers as a warning to others not to smuggle diamonds in their mouths.

'Before we were being exploited by corrupt politicians making a killing from our stones. Now we're prisoners and slaves. Things were better before. Each day they get worse. I was almost killed a few weeks ago and each day others like me are abandoned in the bush, eaten by dogs, unable to crawl out of the pits.'

As we hike out of the bush in the dusk, the journey is fraught and terrifying. At each rustle of grass we hit the ground, waved down by our point man. Suddenly we come across a village, somehow bypassed in the clearances. From the valley below the sound of prayer and penitence is floating across the air from the river. At the bank a dozen middle-aged women are gathered in the water in the red glow of evening. Their skirts, branded with biblical passages and proclamations to the Lord, are wrapped up to their knees in the murky water, exposing their heavy-set legs. The pastor is dunking one of their number into the water, time and time again, to rapture.

As we pass them, their hymns are lost to the noise of the bush. Mice biting and scratching, insects buzzing and in the distance the violent crack of a rifle firing somewhere in the remote hinterland.

Everyone holds their breath.

The Limpopo River flows before me precisely as Rudyard Kipling once found it: 'Grey-green... greasy... set about with fever trees.' On a distant bank, from the stumpy shadows, come the refugees - a long and familiar string of terrified Zimbabweans clutching overflowing plastic bags stuffed with clothes, Bibles and dreams of a new life in Cape Town.

An untamed no-man's land of smugglers, corrupt security forces and a never-ending flow of illicit human traffic across from the third world to the developed world, it is boom time in the drab South African border town of Musina, a remote community that has found itself at the centre of one of the world's worst refugee crises.

Today South Africa's borders are a shambles. There are just 190 police officers to control 2,300 miles of coastline and 283 officers on its 3,000 mile-long land border. As a direct result, there are between three and five million illegal immigrants in the country.

A 2008 report by South Africa's Auditor-General found no specific border intelligence had been carried out since 2004, nor has there been any specialised training for border control. Land points of entry either have insufficient or no critical equipment such as baggage scanners, CCTV cameras and hand-held explosive-detection systems. Where these are in place, they are often not used.

For the Zimbabweans fleeing oppression to a life of menial labour such incompetence is, in a perverse way, a godsend, at least if they can live long enough in South Africa without being assaulted and extorted by the police and xenophobic mobs. For diamond smugglers it is similarly an easy route out with gems.

At Musina's United Reformed Church the pews are packed with Zimbabweans praising Jesus. Some, despite their devotion, are full-time smugglers, members of trafficking syndicates such as the Maguma Guma gang, who 'help' hundreds of border jumpers trying to cross illegally into South Africa every day.

Using their contacts to pay off Zimbabwean security officers, the gangs bypass immigration and assist jumpers to cross the river on the underside of a disused train bridge at the Beitbridge border crossing. On the South African side of the border, they have cut holes in the three barbed wire fences. Using mobile phones to alert one another, they wait in the bush until army and police vans patrolling the border have passed and give the signal for jumpers to run through to the other side. This is all for a negotiated price of around $10.

Outside Musina's church, Mutseti Savo, 32, claims he lost both his house and his job in Mugabe's continuing Operation Murambatsvina ('Drive out the rubbish'), in which soldiers, police and ruling-party militias used murder, rape and violence to destroy the homes and small businesses of hundreds of thousands of poor people living on the outer edges of Zimbabwe's towns. Like many others who lost everything, he drifted east to the diamond fields.

'I know blood diamonds are all about war but there is no war in my country - except for a government that fights its own people. Unemployment and starvation lead you to do desperate things, to put your life on the line. Diamonds, gold, drugs... anything to get by and keep your family alive. In Zimbabwe there is no right and wrong any more, there is eating and starving - even now, when the West claims everything is good again. This is a lie.'

In the background a large group of Zimbabwean women sing hymns and choruses in Shona. I ask what they mean.

'These people are good Christians but even Christians can find it hard to forgive,' says Savo.

'These are not hymns, they are anti-Mugabe songs that are illegal back home. There they would be shot for singing such songs.'

As we walk away Savo sticks out a long pink tongue. Underneath is a tiny black diamond.

'OK, we've talked now. How much will you pay?'

The Kimberley Process:
Can it still stop the flow of blood diamonds?
From offices in New York and Tel Aviv, the movers and shakers in the international diamond community have looked on and listened to the information coming out of Marange with typical reticence. As Zimbabwe is a participant in the Kimberley Process, which regulates trade in diamonds, its diamonds continue to enter the trading markets of London, Antwerp and Dubai with the full sanction of the industry.
Many within the industry believe the horrors of Zimbabwe's diamond fields could sound the death knell for the Kimberley Process, which was established in 2003 to stem the flow of blood diamonds.
'The Kimberley's credibility is suffering at the moment,' says Annie Dunnebacke, a campaigner for Global Witness.
'If the Kimberley Process can't suspend a participant in those conditions (in Zimbabwe), then what's it even there for?'
Critics claim that part of the problem lies in the structure of the organisation. The scheme is voluntary and based on consensus being reached among participating countries, allowing political and commercial ties to come into play.
For example, the annual rotating leadership of the Kimberley currently has Namibia at the helm. Zimbabwe recently signed a uranium mining memorandum of agreement with Namibia, one of the world's largest uranium exporters. Zimbabwe, meanwhile, is believed to have uranium reserves worth billions of dollars.

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