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Court charges Bennett for terrorism

February 17, 2009

more-demonstratorsMDC supporters demonstrate in support of Roy Bennett in Mutare.

MUTARE (Reuters) - A court here formally charged MDC treasurer Roy Bennett on Tuesday for taking part in a plot involving terrorism and insurgency, just days after the party joined a unity government with president Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF.

He was also charged with banditry and violating the Immigration Act for leaving and returning to the country illegally, in a case that has raised doubts about the credibility of the new government.

The 52-year-old Deputy Minister of Agriculture-Designate now faces charges of possessing weapons for the purposes of insurgency and banditry, one of his lawyers, Trust Maanda, told Deutsche Presse-Agentur (DPA).

On Sunday, police had told his lawyers he would be charged with raising finance for weapons, also for the purposes of insurgency and banditry - a lesser charge than treason which he faced at one point.

When he was first arrested on Friday at an airport outside Harare as he was preparing to leave for South Africa for the weekend, police said he faced charges of trying to leave the country illegally.

The charges against bennett relate to the discovery in 2006 of weapons near the eastern city of Mutare, where he is being held.

The State attempted to present the arms as part of a plot to topple Mugabe but the charges didn’t hold up in court. One person, a German-born arms trader, served time for illegal possession of weapons.

MDC leader, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, says the case is an attempt by hardliners within Mugabe’s Zanu-PF to derail the country’s fragile power-sharing government, whose cabinet members were due to meet for the first time on Tuesday.

The fact that police keep changing the charges shows the case against Bennett is weak and politically driven, critics say.

“This is purely a police case and we don’t understand where the political connotations are coming from.” assistant police commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena retorted.

Bennett had been due to be sworn this week as deputy agriculture minister. On Monday, a magistrate gave permission for police to detain him without charge for a further 48 hours.

Bennett returned to Zimbabwe only last month after living in exile for nearly three years in South Africa, where he was granted asylum in 2007.

Police are also holding more than 30 other MDC members and human-rights activists, mainly on charges of conspiring to topple Mugabe or of banditry.

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Arbitrary arrests and detentions continue during new government transition

Posted: 17 February 2009

AU and UN human rights monitors are needed to oversee transitional
government, says Amnesty

Amnesty International has called on the African Union and the United
Nations to send monitors to investigate human rights violations committed by
Zimbabwe's security forces during the current transitional period.

This follows the arrest of human rights activists and Roy Bennett, a
prominent Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) politician.

Amnesty International's Zimbabwe Researcher, Simeon Mawanza said:

'A number of events that have taken place since the swearing in of a
new government in Zimbabwe suggest that there is a force within the
Zimbabwean security forces, that continues ordering violations of human
rights as a method of dealing with people they do not like.'

On 14 February police in Bulawayo arrested ten activists after they
participated in a peaceful protest. Seven women from the activist
organisation Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) and three men from Radio
Dialogue are being held at Bulawayo Central police station. One of the women
in custody is a breast-feeding mother and has been separated from her child
which is now in the care of relatives. They have not been charged and their
lawyer has been denied access to them.

The organisation's call also follows the arrest of MDC politician, Roy
Bennett, on Friday 13 February at an airport in Harare by police officers
from the Law and Order Section of the Zimbabwe Republic Police.

Roy Bennett is being held at Mutare Central police station and is
being charged under section 61 of the repressive Public Order and Security
Act: conspiring to acquire arms with a view to disrupting essential
services. Police are reported to have applied and obtained an order to
detain him for another 48 hours. Roy Bennett is meant to be sworn in as
Deputy Agriculture Minister some time this week.

Simeon Mawanza said:

'The arrest of Roy Bennett, a high profile figure, on what appear to
be politically motivated charges reveals the level of challenges facing the
unity government and demonstrates the urgent need to have an international
presence to oversee the transitional process.'

Police have failed to take Roy Bennett and the Bulawayo activists to
court today. The detainees are likely to spend more time in custody.

'Amnesty International considers all those arrested for exercising
their internationally guaranteed rights to peaceful protest and freedom of
association to be prisoners of conscience and therefore calls for their
immediate and unconditional release,' said Simeon Mawanza.

Notes to the Editor

The names of the women activists from WOZA who are being held at
Bulawayo Central police station are: Barbara Bepe, Patience Mpofu, Praise
Mlangeni, Gladys Dube, Shingirai Mupani, Virginia Sithole, and Peace
Mthethwa. Three men from Radio Dialogue, Thandazani Nkomo, Zenzele Ndebele
and Oscar Hungwe, were also arrested at the same time.

Radio Dialogue is a non-profit making community radio station aspiring
to broadcast to the community of Bulawayo and surrounding areas. It aims to
provide a channel for debate and information sharing on economic, political,
social, cultural and developmental issues. Radio Dialogue has been denied a
licence by the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe. While it awaits the time
that community broadcasters such as Radio Dialogue are granted licences, it
functions as a recording and production studio so that when such a time
comes it is immediately ready to go on air.

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Zimbabwe's new Cabinet holds first meeting

By ANGUS SHAW, Associated Press Writer Angus Shaw, Associated Press Writer -
Tue Feb 17, 7:20 am ET

HARARE, Zimbabwe - Zimbabwe's new unity Cabinet held its first meeting
Tuesday, the same day Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's designated deputy
agriculture minister was brought to court in a case that has strained
relations among coalition partners.

President Robert Mugabe chaired the inaugural meeting of the 32-member
Cabinet in a government boardroom in downtown Harare, breaking with the
tradition of holding regular Cabinet meetings at his State House, state
radio reported.

Meanwhile, in the eastern city of Mutare, Roy Bennett was brought to court
for the first time since his arrest Friday, Tsvangirai's Movement for
Democratic Change party said. Further details were not immediately

Tsvangirai's party has described Bennett's arrest as an attempt by
hard-liners in Mugabe's ZANU-PF to derail the coalition. The MDC added that
police first said Bennett would be charged with treason, but later said he
faced only a weapons charge. Repeated attempts to reach police for comment
since Bennett's arrest have been unsuccessful.

Zimbabwe's power-sharing deal - created to end a year of political
deadlock - aims to have rival politicians work together to address
Zimbabwe's chronic economic meltdown. It keeps Mugabe as president after
three decades in power, but many of his top aides have lost Cabinet posts.

State radio reported Monday that departing ministers handed over their
portfolios to the new ministers, 14 from Tsvangirai's Movement for
Democratic Change and three from a breakaway opposition faction led by
Arthur Mutambara. Mugabe has 15 ministers, one of whom shares control of the
police ministry with one of Tsvangirai's ministers.

The new Cabinet has a monumental task ahead. Zimbabwe has the world's
highest inflation rate and faces acute food and gasoline shortages. The
hunger crisis has left up to 7 million people, more than half the
population, dependent on foreign handouts and a cholera epidemic blamed on
collapsed water, sanitation and health services has killed more than 3,500
people since August.

The international medical aid agency Medecins San Frontieres, at a briefing
in neighboring Johannesburg, said the cholera epidemic was just the most
visible evidence of the collapse of Zimbabwe's health system. It called on
both international donors and the Zimbabwean government to do more, saying
other epidemic disease outbreaks were possible.

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Beyond Cholera: Zimbabwe's Worsening Crises
February 17, 2009 

Everyday, Zimbabweans cross the Limpopo River into South Africa, risking their lives to flee their country. An estimated 3 million Zimbabweans have sought refuge in South Africa. It is Africa's most extraordinary exodus from a country not in open conflict.

The political crisis and resultant economic collapse has led to the implosion of the health system and basic infrastructure which has given rise to a massive cholera outbreak reaching an unprecedented scale and claiming thousands of lives. However, cholera is one aspect of a multifaceted humanitarian crisis that includes poor access to health care; collapsed infrastructure; high prevalence of HIV; political violence; internal displacement as well as displacement to neighboring countries, and food shortages/malnutrition. This situation is by no means new, but it has worsened significantly in the past months, as the political impasse continued and economic collapse accelerated. To make matters worse, there has not been a strong and coordinated international response to the unfolding humanitarian emergency.

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has been working in Zimbabwe since 2000 and has been assisting, since 2007, Zimbabweans who have fled to South Africa. Medical teams in Zimbabwe are currently responding to about 75 percent of the suspected cholera cases. Since the beginning of the outbreak in August 2008, MSF alone has treated nearly 45,000 patients and supported treatment of several thousands more through the provision of supplies, logistical support, technical advice and training to Ministry of Health staff. In its regular programs, MSF provides HIV care for more than 40,000 patients with HIV/AIDS, including 26,000 who are receiving antiretroviral therapy (ART), and provides nutritional support to severely malnourished children.

The continuing Cholera emergency

“It is a constant challenge to keep up with increasing patient numbers. We are running out of ward space and beds for the patients.” - MSF staff

The cholera epidemic, which started in August 2008 has been unprecedented in scale for Zimbabwe and still continues today. MSF has treated more than 45,000 cholera patients during this time – which represents approximately 75% of all cholera cases since the outbreak began. The level of MSF’s response has been necessitated by the scale of the epidemic and the inability of local health structures to cope.

Cases have been found in all provinces. More than 500 MSF staff members are presently working to identify new cases and to treat patients in need of care. As of early February 2009, the focus of the outbreak had shifted from the cities to rural areas, where access to health care is particularly limited, but the number of cases in some urban areas are still significant. The epidemic is far from under control. In the first week of February 2009, 4,000 new cases were treated in MSF supported structures alone.

The reasons for the outbreak are clear: lack of access to clean water, burst and blocked sewage systems, and uncollected refuse overflowing in the streets, all clear symptoms of the breakdown in infrastructure resulting from Zimbabwe's political and economic meltdown.

Although MSF has been able to respond to the outbreak on a massive scale – delays and restrictions have been encountered. In December, when the number of cholera patients in Harare had reached a peak with close to 2,000 admissions a week, it took weeks to get permission to open a second empty ward in Harare’s Infectious Disease Hospital to increase the capacity for cholera treatment.

Health system collapse

During the latter half of 2008, public hospitals in Zimbabwe began closing their doors to patients due to a lack of supplies and wages. Patients are turned away, and those who cannot afford private medical facilities are left with no access to health care. MSF clinics in rural areas are seeing increasing numbers of patients coming from urban centers. This is unprecedented for the once exemplary health system in Zimbabwe’s urban areas.

There is currently an accelerated loss of key staff in health centers, especially nurses. The salary received by a nurse is not sufficient to survive due to the astronomical inflation and the increasing bartering and dollar based informal economy1. Many health workers have turned to the informal sector or have fled to South Africa.

There is also a widespread shortage of basic medical materials (syringes, gloves etc) and drugs. Patients are required to buy drugs in most government-run services. MSF is hearing increasing anecdotal evidence of ministry staff requesting that patients pay for medicines that are meant to be free in rural areas. In one hospital in Gweru, surgical patients have been turned away due to a lack of sterile gloves and suture material. Lack of supplies for health facilities also extend to laboratory equipment and laboratory reagents, as well as running water and electricity.

Although staff and drug shortages are not unique to Zimbabwe – and indeed the health structures have the appearance of normalcy - the empty beds and closed doors are indicative of a ruined system, which was once able to provide a high level of medical care, but which is no longer able to cope with the health consequences of the worsening political and economic crisis.

The burden on People living with HIV/AIDS

Life expectancy in Zimbabwe has plummeted to 34 years1, mainly due to the country’s crushing AIDS epidemic. One in five adults are infected with HIV.

The ongoing political upheaval and economic hardship is affecting the ability of patients to access medical care, including HIV/AIDS treatment.

For people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) it is essential that appointments are kept so that treatment is unbroken and proper follow-up is maintained. If treatment is interrupted and patients fail to get their medication on time, the consequences for the patient’s health are serious. Often, their state of health declines rapidly and in the long term, they might develop resistance to first line medications. But keeping appointments has become increasingly difficult. The lack of reliable transport and high transportation costs keep many from reaching health facilities. In addition, the closing of health facilities means that people have to travel farther to receive care.

There are few doctors left in Zimbabwe yet there is a high number of patients requiring ARV initiation. There are an estimated 2,500 patients in Bulawayo waiting for ARVs. Nurses are not allowed to initiate treatment, although they carry out OPD consultations and prescribe antibiotics in clinics.

Despite the shortages of health professionals in Zimbabwe– MSF faces restrictions on bringing staff into the country. Medical doctors are still required to undertake a 3month internship. This has been more problematic since the major hospitals where these internships are performed have closed. Work permits for international staff are difficult to obtain and renew. On average, it takes about 3 months to obtain a work permit. Not only is it essential for these restrictions on MSF to be lifted – but nurses should be empowered to initiate and manage ART patients.

Internal displacement and/or flight to neighbouring countries poses additional challenges to adherence for people on ART. Some patients were afraid of moving and accessing health services due to political violence during the run-off to the elections in June 2008. Poor access to health care created a huge backlog in terms of numbers of patients requiring ART initiation, which can lead to an increase in pre- ART mortality. An enormous number of patients have fled to other countries such as South Africa, but once they arrive they often fear attempting to access the health system due to the threat of arrest and deportation.

Food shortages and malnutrition

From 4 June to 29 August 2008, the government of Zimbabwe imposed a ban on most international aid groups, leading to an almost complete halt to food distributions across the country. Although the ban has been lifted, the implications continue to be felt today. In some parts of the country, food distributions have still not been resumed.

Food shortages are a major problem which is expected to increase even more between February and March 2009, which is the peak of the “hunger season” before the harvest starts.

“The biggest problem for me today in Zimbabwe is the food situation. Some people start to live on wild fruits and eat nothing else – sometimes during a whole week.” – Zimbabwean man at an MSF clinic

In Epworth, MSF has seen a doubling of children on our malnutrition program in December and then again in January. Currently, MSF has been stopped from conducting a nutritional assessment. This hampers MSF’s ability to respond to the nutrition situation in the country and we fear that children are not making it to our clinics.

The lack of availability and affordability of agricultural inputs in Zimbabwe means that food insecurity will continue well into the next season.

"I come from Gutu rural area. I recently married and was staying with my wife and my parents. My wife is 7 months pregnant. We used to live on peasant farming, all of us. Since this year, life has become increasingly difficult. There was not a good harvest in our area because of drought. My wife is starving yet she is pregnant. I decided to come to South Africa to support the 7 members of my family at home. I am hoping to send them some food soon." - Zimbabwean man in his 20s seeking refuge in Musina, South Africa

During the peak in violence, some patients reported to MSF that their crop and food reserves had been destroyed. In Epworth, there was a clear increase in ART defaulters in the MSF programme coinciding with the halting of food distributions and the increased violence surrounding the elections.

Flight to neighbouring countries

The economic meltdown, food shortages, health system collapse, and political violence and unrest have led to a steady increase of Zimbabweans seeking refuge in South Africa in the past decade. Zimbabweans fleeing across the border to South Africa, risk beatings, rape, or robbery by bandits known as the 'guma-guma', or being eaten by crocodiles while swimming across the Limpopo River.

“I am from Zimbabwe. I feel that the situation over there is not being taken serious enough. People are so hungry. When a Somali crosses the border, everybody understands why. Everyone has a picture of the war but this is not the case with Zimbabwe.” - Zimbabwean man in Musina, South Africa

Even with the current collapse in Zimbabwe, the government of South Africa has characterised Zimbabweans in the country as 'voluntary economic migrants' and less than 5% of asylum-seekers are granted refugee status, meaning they do not qualify for legal status that would ensure their protection. In total, there are an estimated 3 million Zimbabweans living in South Africa, most of whom are undocumented.

In South Africa, Zimbabweans live in a constant state of fear that they will be deported. Although the South African constitution theoretically guarantees access to health care and other essential services to all those who live in the country, this policy is not always respected, and the fear of deportation – and more recently xenophobic violence – keeps many Zimbabweans from accessing health care.


The political crisis and resultant economic collapse is manifesting in cholera, population movement, hyperinflation, food insecurity, violence and a lack of access to HIV/AIDS treatment and health care more generally.

Despite the glaring humanitarian needs, the government of Zimbabwe continues to exert rigid control over aid organisations. MSF faces restrictions in implementing medical assessments and interventions. Especially in cases of emergencies where quick action often determines life or death, allowances for a rapid humanitarian response is crucial.

To address the humanitarian issues facing Zimbabwe requires a shift of approach or strategy from a range of political and aid actors – including the UN and donors. There is not only a need for an increased humanitarian response, but also for a move to a more proactive emergency approach based on a recognition of the severity of the crisis in all its manifestations – not just Cholera. Urgent steps must be taken today to ensure that Zimbabweans have unimpeded access to the humanitarian assistance they desperately need.

Now more than ever, an adequate humanitarian response in Zimbabwe will require an increase in "humanitarian space” for independent aid organisations to carry out our work. The Zimbabwean government must facilitate independent assessments of need, guarantee that aid agencies can work wherever needs are identified and ease bureaucratic restrictions so that programmes can be staffed properly and drugs procured quickly.

Donor governments and United Nations agencies must ensure that the provision of humanitarian aid remains distinct from political processes. Their policies towards Zimbabwe must not come at the expense of the humanitarian imperative to ensure that malnourished children, victims of violence, and people with HIV/AIDS and other illnesses have unhindered access to the assistance they need to survive.

  1. The challenges facing nurses in terms of their salary may see some improvement in 2009 as various UN agencies, donor bodies and NGOs look at paying incentives to Ministry of Health (MoH) staff. However, even with this plan an average nurse would be paid 60 USD/month. This amount would barely cover the transport costs of nurses to travel to and from work  
  2. Healthy life expectancy for women according to WHO 2006. A man’s healthy life expectancy is 37.  

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Detained WOZA activists refuse to pay fines, demand trial

By Lance Guma
17 February 2009

Ten WOZA activists arrested over the weekend during a Valentines Day protest
in Bulawayo were offered the option to pay admission of guilt fines, in
order to be released. By mid afternoon Tuesday 6 of them had paid the fines
but the other 4 refused, insisting they be put on trial instead. Three
people from Radio Dialogue, 2 mothers who left breast feeding babies at home
and another person who developed a skin rash whilst inside the cells, took
the option to pay the fine.

On Saturday the group, along with their male counterparts in Men of Zimbabwe
Arise (MOZA), took the streets in the city centre demanding that 'love light
the way' forward in the political crisis. Although riot police broke up the
march and rounded up close to 100 members, many activists were able to slip
away to safety, leaving behind the 10 who were eventually taken to Bulawayo
Central Police Station.

On Monday the detained activists were denied access to their lawyers and
WOZA considered an urgent High Court application demanding their release.
This was not possible however as the courts closed early. On Tuesday Jenni
Williams told Newsreel the activists were eventually allowed access to their

Meanwhile the remaining 4 detained activists have still not been given a
chance to appear in court, despite the 48 hour detention period having
elapsed on Monday. Williams said the police had by late Tuesday not applied
to the courts to have the detention period formally extended. She insisted
the women had not committed any offence and the police knew this, which is
why they were simply using delaying tactics.

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Zimbabwe's MDC Legislator Roy Bennett Faces Weapons Charges

By Peta Thornycroft
17 February 2009

Zimbabwe's unity government's designated deputy agriculture minister Roy
Bennett has been charged with possessing weaponry, banditry, and attempting
to commit terrorism, in a court in Mutare in eastern Zimbabwe. Roy Bennett
is also being charged with entering and leaving Zimbabwe illegally.

Section 27 of Zimbabwe's criminal law, under which Bennett is charged, lumps
possession of weapons to be used for banditry, sabotage and terrorism in the
same clause. The sentence for those found guilty is worded as life
imprisonment or a shorter period.

Zimbabwe Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change
party says the charges against Bennett are politically motivated and the
party demands his immediate release.

Roy Bennett has been locked up and assaulted in detention several times
since 2000 when he was elected as a legislator for the Movement for
Democratic Change in a small town in south eastern Zimbabwe.

He was dressed in casual clothes in court Tuesday, including flip flops on
his feet, the same clothes he was wearing when arrested. He was cheerful and
the court was packed with people.

He is also to be charged with leaving and entering Zimbabwe illegally. He
fled into exile in South Africa in 2006.

At that stage no warrant for his arrest had been issued. He returned to
Harare in the past two weeks via Harare International Airport

He was detained last Friday on an aircraft cleared for take off, and which
was carrying other passengers to Nelspruit in eastern South Africa. Bennett
had cleared immigration at the small airport west of Harare.

The state alleged that Bennett tried to leave for South Africa without going
through proper immigration procedures which was denied and Bennett's
passport was produced in court as well as a copy of the aircraft's manifest.

A decision on bail will be made Wednesday afternoon after the swearing in of
the Zimbabwe unity government's deputy ministers which would be too late for
Bennett, even if he is granted bail.

The case has attracted extraordinary attention in the small town of Mutare
where the case is being heard. Bennett has many supporters. People are
camped outside the police station at night. They say they are ensuring he is
safe and is not kidnapped from his police cell.

Defense lawyers argue that none of the charges are relevant to Bennett and
the state has had to recall one judge from the bench after he was accused of
being an interested party.

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Tsvangirai meets defence and security ministers

By Tichaona Sibanda
17 February 2009

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai on Tuesday held his first ever meeting with
the country's Defence, Home Affairs and National Security ministers. There
is speculation that he raised the issue of the incarceration of Roy Bennett,
his nominee for a deputy ministerial post.

Bennett appeared in court in the eastern city of Mutare on Tuesday where he
was formally charged. This was his first appearance in court since his
arrest Friday.

James Maridadi, the spokesman for Tsvangirai, told us the Prime Minister met
ZANU PF Ministers Emmerson Mnangagwa, Kembo Mohadi and Sydney Sekeramayi.
Giles Mutsekwa, the co-minister for Home Affairs, was absent as he's still
on party business outside the country.

Maridadi could not divulge what was said in the meeting; 'All I can tell you
is that the Prime Minister's schedule right now is excruciating and
torturous. He is meeting all the ministers telling them about his mission
and vision for the new government.'

Earlier in the day all ministers attended a full cabinet meeting, which was
chaired by Robert Mugabe. Maridadi said the meeting was cordial but did not
discuss substantive issues.

'This was an inaugural cabinet meeting. Basically they were warming up to
each other, the discussions were held in the spirit of togetherness, to
advance the aims and objectives of the Global Political Agreement,' Maridadi

He added; 'I can safely tell you the Prime Minister is happy about it.the
President is happy about it. Everyone in the cabinet wants this thing to
work. It has dawned on everyone that the unity government is the country's
only salvation. Without this thing, (inclusive government) then Zimbabwe as
a country is dead.'
Meanwhile the Associated Press reports that the Joint-Monitoring
Implementation Committee (JOMIC), a multiparty committee formed to ensure
the coalition worked smoothly, was expected to report to Tsvangirai
Wednesday on the arrests of Bennett and the other activists who are still in
The news agency also reported that Tsvangirai met with Mugabe immediately
after the cabinet meeting, to raise concerns about the 'credibility of the
government' and the need for freedom of expression. Tsvangirai then met with
the Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, to discuss the
government's new foreign policy, as envisaged in the inclusive government.

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ROHR plans a peaceful protest tomorrow

Please be advised that Restoration of Human Rights Zimbabwe will hold a
peaceful demonstration in Harare tomorrow (18 February 2009) protesting
against the continued detention of prisoners of conscience at Chikurubi
Maximum prison and other places of detention.

32 human rights activists and Movement for Democratic Change supporters
continue to be incarcerated since 2008 and only 22 of the 32 have been
brought before the courts.

The inclusive Government is failing to ensure the release of Jestina Mukoko,
Director of Zimbabwe Peace Project, Frank Muchirahondo and Daniel Mlenga
both USAID employees and many other prisoners of conscience. This is despite
assurances by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai that the political detainees
will be released hastily. On the contrary arrests are increasing as six WOZA
activists are detained for holding a peaceful demonstration. On Friday 13
February the deputy Minister of Agriculture Roy Bennett was arrested on
treason charged which were later dropped and exchanged for attempted
insurgency, terrorism and banditry.

As ROHR Zimbabwe we strongly castigate the deliberate attempt to hold human
rights and political activists captive for as long as the Government pleases
through unnecessary legal technicalities, considering that their abduction
was unlawful in the first place. It is an abuse of these citizen's rights to
freedom and a right to a comfortable life.

The demonstration will be done to put pressure on the inclusive government
to release the detainees. We believe it is against the spirit of the Global
Political Agreement signed in September 2008 that has given birth to a Unity

ROHR Zimbabwe will also join other civic organisations in a combined
solidarity action planned for tomorrow at the Rotten Row Courts 9am

Via Press Release

This entry was posted by Sokwanele on Tuesday, February 17th, 2009 at 4:34

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Wife’s anger at arrest of husband Roy Bennett

By Violet Gonda
17 February 2009

Roy Bennett, the MDC Treasurer and Deputy Minister of Agriculture designate, had the book thrown at him on Tuesday when he was formally charged under the draconian Public Order and Security Act with terrorism, the illegal possession of fire arms and attempting to leave the country illegally.

Bennett’s wife Heather spoke for the first time since her husband was arrested last Friday. She told SW Radio Africa she is very disappointed with South Africa and SADC for failing to pressure Robert Mugabe. She also called on Morgan Tsvangirai to pull out of the power share, if Bennett is not immediately released.

Speaking on the phone from her home in South Africa she said this is a litmus test and “if Morgan Tsvangirai has no power to protect his top leadership, the rest of the country is in big trouble because nothing is going to change.”

The official’s wife said the MDC leadership told her that her husband’s case was a sensitive issue and they are working very hard to resolve it. “But I am not a politician and to me it’s very simple. You have just signed an agreement and already it’s being abused, so pull out of it!”

Mrs Bennett said she was very worried when her husband decided to go back home to Zimbabwe after fleeing to South Africa in 2006. But he was eager and hopeful that SADC would stand by the agreement to be guarantors of the new government. She said Morgan Tsvangirai had given Bennett assurances that he would be fine.

But Mrs Bennett is now concerned that the leadership is not doing enough and worried that history is repeating itself. In 2004 Bennett spent eight months in jail after clashing with ZANU PF Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa in parliament.

“We have been there before with Roy, where ZANU PF does what they please and they just carry on holding him on trumped up charges. And to me unless someone does something really soon it will drag on and on.”

“If they get away with this Morgan Tsvangirai may as well not even be there because they will walk all over him. And unless he shows the leadership now it is going to be a waste of time having an inclusive government anyway.”

Meanwhile, the Deputy Minister of Agriculture designate was on Tuesday formally charged under the draconian Public Order and Security Act. The matter was heard by Mutare Magistrate, Billard Musakwa, who is alleged to be a ZANU PF zealot. He granted police a further warrant of detention for 48 hours on Monday without hearing submissions of the defence. However the matter was adjourned after the defence team successfully applied for the recusal of Magistrate Musakwa, and a new Magistrate heard the matter in the afternoon.

The State claims Bennett was in possession of firearms with the intention of committing terrorism, banditry and sabotage and failed to present himself to immigration officers at Charles Prince airport. The MDC official was arrested at the airport while he was attempting to travel to South Africa. The small aircraft, with seven other passengers, was ordered to stop during take-off on the runway. The defence team said their client presented himself to the immigration officer at the airport and ‘has a copy of the manifesto, as well as the immigration officers list to prove it’.

In early February Bennett had returned to Zimbabwe from South Africa where he was living in exile with his family as a result of the same ‘terrorism’ charges. In his defence he says he was on his way back to South Africa to visit his family and was going to return later in the week, in time for the swearing in of Deputy Ministers in the new government. The MDC official denies all the charges and says this is clearly nothing more than political persecution.

Meanwhile, there was near mayhem at the Mutare courts when scores of Bennett supporters who had been holding a vigil since his incarceration last Friday, forced their way into the court chambers. MDC MP for Makoni South, Pishai Muchauraya, said the protestors broke through a court gate after the police tried to block the entrance. He said the courtroom was packed with the supporters who have vowed to continue with the vigil until their leader is released.

It has been suggested that there are elements in ZANU PF who are unhappy with the power sharing government, hence Bennett’s arrest and the continued imprisonment of civic and political activists in violation of the global political agreement.

It’s reported that at the forefront of trying to scuttle this deal is the Joint Operations Command, ZANU PF’s security apparatus, who boycotted Tsvangirai’s inauguration as Prime Minister last week. But analysts have warned that the rumours of JOC’s control are quite detailed and are more than likely being spread by the CIO, and Mugabe has always held very tightly onto control of what happens in Zimbabwe.

An MDC source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said ZANU PF is also making wild demands, wanting total amnesty dating back to the 1980s, in exchange for Bennett’s freedom. The source said: “Now they are using Roy as a bargaining chip to get further concessions”

The source said the concessions include the fact that there should be no human rights investigations or prosecutions, no extradition of Ethiopia's former ruler Mengistu Haile Mariam, and Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono and Attorney General Johannes Tomana must maintain their positions.

Although we could not get a direct comment from the MDC on this issue, the party said this in a statement on Tuesday: “These charges are scandalous and politically motivated. Roy Bennett will not be used as ransom and he will not accept to be horse traded for any political convenience”

The new Minister of Finance Tendai Biti was quoted in the South African media threatening ‘unspecified’ action if Bennett is not released on Tuesday. But Bennett was remanded in custody Tuesday and moved from Mutare police station to Mutare prison. The magistrate is expected to make a ruling on the matter on Wednesday.

Listen to interview: Click here

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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US concerned about Zimbabwe terror case

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Washington Tuesday voiced concern about terror charges
against a white Zimbabwean politician set to join the new unity government,
saying President Robert Mugabe was not sending a good signal with the case.

"I do not think it indicates any goodwill," said State Department spokesman
Gordon Duguid of the case of top Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
politician Roy Bennett.

"We have said consistently from this podium that we will judge the success
of the government of national unity on the results that it produces in
fulfilling the mandate that the people of Zimbabwe gave it."

That mandate was "to improve their lives, that is to reconstruct the economy
and to stop political oppression. This move doesn't seem to be going in that
direction," he said.

Bennett, the MDC's treasurer and a coffee farmer turned politician who is
the party's pick to become deputy agriculture minister, appeared in court on
Tuesday on charges of illegally possessing arms to commit banditry,
insurgency and terrorism, and for violating the immigration act.

The hearing was adjourned to Wednesday for a ruling on whether there is any
basis for the charges, after the defense asked for the case to be thrown

The United States has been cautious about the formation of a unity
government in Zimbabwe, saying Mugabe, who has led the country with an iron
fist since 1980, needs to prove he will allow real power-sharing.

Washington has warned it will not agree to any new aid for the African
nation until the government functions properly.

Mugabe held his first unity cabinet meeting with MDC leader and arch rival
Morgan Tsvangirai on Tuesday, but it was overshadowed by the case brought
against Bennett.

Bennett, whose farm was expropriated under Mugabe's land reforms in 2003,
was arrested on Friday shortly before the new government was sworn in.

He only returned to Zimbabwe last month after three years of self-imposed
exile in South Africa, where he had fled to escape charges of having plotted
to kill Mugabe.

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Daily cholera update and alerts, 15 Feb 2009

 full_report (pdf* format - 189.2 Kbytes)

* Please note that daily information collection is a challenge due to communication and staff constraints. On-going data cleaning may result in an increase or decrease in the numbers.

Any change will then be explained.

** Daily information on new deaths should not imply that these deaths occurred in cases reported that day. Therefore daily CFRs >100% may occasionally result

A. Highlights of the day:

- 338 cases and 11 deaths added today (in comparison 855 cases and 34 deaths yesterday)

- 37.3 % of the districts affected have reported today (22 out of 59 affected districts)

- 90.3 % of districts reported to be affected (56 districts/62)

- Cumulative Institutional Case Fatality Rate 1.9%

- Daily Institutional Case Fatality Rate 0%

- No reports from Matebeleland North, Manicaland , Masvingo

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Biti to announce forex salaries for civil servants today

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

HARARE - Zimbabwe's new Finance Minister Tendai Biti will today
announce foreign currency salaries for civil servants in line with a pledge
made by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai after his inauguration last week.
Sources said the new government tasked Biti after its first Cabinet
meeting yesterday to announce how much civil servants would be paid
beginning this month-end.
This, the sources said, was after Tsvangirai convinced the Cabinet
that he had sourced substantial funds to pay civil servants.
"The Cabinet was satisfied that Tsvangirai had secured the money from
donor organisations," one of the sources said. "Biti will hold a press
conference tomorrow (Wednesday) to unveil the civil servants packages."
The sources declined to reveal how much Tsvangirai had in the kit and
the identity of the organisations where the money came from.
However, speculation was rife that the money would come from UNICEF
and USAID.
Biti yesterday confirmed that he would address a press conference to
deal with "civil servants remuneration and other pressing issues".
The Ministry of Information and Publicity yesterday invited the local
media to the press conference on "civil servants' salaries" to be held by
Biti at his official offices.
On Monday, Tsvangirai met representatives of teachers and told them
that they would be paid in foreign currency.
Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) secretary general
Raymond Majongwe said the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader had
told them that he had sourced the money and were to be informed of their new
salaries before the weekend.
"The prime minister told us that Biti will announce the new salaries
for civil servants," Majongwe said. "We are going to wait and find out the
package on offer before we decide the next course of action."
Teachers and other civil servants have been on strike since last year
pressing to be paid in hard currency. They want to be paid a minimum of US$2
300 monthly.
Speaking after taking oath of office last Wednesday, Tsvangirai
pledged to pay health workers, teachers, soldiers, police officers and civil
service professionals in foreign currency from the end of this month.
In return, he asked that schools be re-opened and civil servants
return to their desks by Monday - a plea most teachers snubbed.
"Our public service has ground to a halt as many of our patriotic
government employees can no longer afford to eat, let alone pay for
transport to their place of work," Tsvangirai said.
"Hard currency salaries will enable people to go to work, to feed
their families and to survive until such time that we can begin to sustain
ourselves as a country."
His pronouncement was questioned by many who wondered where Tsvangirai
had obtained the foreign currency.
Then acting finance minister Patrick Chinamasa issued a statement
saying the government would pay civil servants foreign currency denominated
coupons with a face value of US$100 to buy food at selected places.
The country's inclusive government was formed last week between
President Robert Mugabe, Tsvangirai and the leader of the smaller MDC
formation, Arthur Mutambara, after they signed a unity government deal last
Meanwhile teachers' unions said they had advised Tsvangirai that
should the issue of salaries be resolved there was need for the new
government to revise the school calendar after most public schools - where
the majority of Zimbabwe's children learn - failed to open for the new term
on January 27 because teachers were on strike.
Zimbabwe Teachers Association (ZIMTA) secretary general Richard
Gundani said: "We also advised him that there was need to revise the school
calendar that will be officially announced by the new minister as we feel
there has not been any effective learning since January 27 when schools were
supposed to be officially opened."
PTUZ spokesman Oswald Madziva said a new calendar would allow
authorities to assess the situation in the education sector and to devise
ways to ensure a return to normalcy. - ZimOnline

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Skewed policies, corruption fuelling Zim humanitarian crisis

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

HARARE - Skewed government policies and corruption have worsened
humanitarian conditions in Zimbabwe, according to the United States Agency
for International Development (USAID).
In a statement, the USAID said a decade of economic decline it blamed
on misrule by President Robert Mugabe's government had left once
self-sufficient Zimbabwe saddled with hyperinflation, high unemployment and
collapsed infrastructure.
A shortage of farm inputs and chaotic and a violent farm
redistribution programme had crippled food production, leaving Zimbabwe -
which used to be a regional breadbasket - dependent on food handouts from
donors, the US government relief agency said.
"Government of Zimbabwe policies and corruption have exacerbated
humanitarian conditions," said the USAID, which is among several foreign
agencies working to serve lives in Zimbabwe.
It added: "Through nearly a decade of economic decline, characterised
by hyperinflation and high unemployment, the government has failed to
maintain the infrastructure necessary for agricultural production, water and
sanitation, power generation, and steady fuel supply.
"To date, food security remains precarious as a result of poor
governance, rising global food prices, and low crop production due to
insufficient access to seeds and fertilizer, drought, commercial land
redistribution policies, and violence targeting farm workers.
"In addition, hyperinflation and government domestic price controls on
maize have reduced farmers' financial incentive to plant."
Once a model African economy Zimbabwe has suffered acute recession
marked by the world's highest inflation of 231 million percent last recorded
in July last year, shortages food, hard a cash and every basic survival
A cholera epidemic that the World Health Organisation says is the
worst outbreak of the disease in Africa in 15 years has infected more than
69 000 people and killed more 3 000 others since August.
Thousands of others die every week because of AIDS while about seven
million people or more than half of the country's population requires urgent
food aid, according to international relief agencies.
A new government between Mugabe and his long time rival and now Prime
Minister Morgan Tsvangirai that was formed last week held its first meeting
in Harare on Tuesday as it began plotting how to rescue Zimbabwe from its
But skepticism remained high whether the unity government that under a
September power-sharing agreement should last for about two years would
survive the deep-seated acrimony between the political rivals.
The appearance in court on Tuesday of top Tsvangirai ally, Roy
Bennett, on charges that the Prime Minister says are trumped up only helped
to deepen doubts on the viability of the unity government.
A stalwart of Tsvangirai's MDC party and its treasurer, Bennett was
arrested as Mugabe swore in the unity Cabinet last week.
Bennett, who is the MDC's nominee for deputy agriculture minister in
the unity government, is charged with terrorism, banditry and violating the
Immigration Act by allegedly leaving and returning to the country illegally.
The MDC has called for the release of Bennett as well as at least 20
other activists of the party being held in jail on charges of plotting to
overthrow Mugabe but it has said it remained committed to the unity
government despite the detention of its members.
The US and Britain, which are Zimbabwe's biggest donors, have said
they will maintain sanctions against Mugabe and top officials of his ZANU PF
party as well as withhold direct support to the new unity government in
Harare until they are convinced Mugabe is committed to genuinely sharing
power with Tsvangirai. - ZimOnline

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When it is treason to defy Zanu-PF

February 16, 2009

By Sibangani Sibanda

I FIND myself paging through the dictionary - several dictionaries in fact -
looking for the meaning of the word, "treason".

This is necessitated by the fact that the charge of treason is one that our
government seems to throw at just about anybody who opposes them - the
latest victim of this charge being Deputy Agriculture Minister-designate,
Roy Bennett.

Morgan Tsvangirayi actually went to trial a few years ago on this charge and
survived prison, or worse only because the government's star witness seemed
surprised that the kangaroo court that he thought he was coming to had real
lawyers, a real judge and required real evidence. The evidence - and the
star witness - was so unreal that the courts found no cause to convict on
any of the charges, and Tsvangirayi walked out a free man.

Then we saw the same charge being leveled at the Secretary General of
Tsvangirai's party because he had claimed victory in the March 29, 2008
elections before the now thoroughly discredited Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission had been given permission to do so by Zanu-PF. He spent a few
days in a disgusting cell at a police station that seems to have been made
particularly disagreeable - in a country where all police cells are very bad
places to spend time in - for the purpose of incarcerating government

Those charges seem to have died a natural death.

There have, of course, been lesser others who have variously been accused of
being treasonous on very flimsy grounds - journalists, leaders of civic
groups and many others have been silenced by the threat of charges of
treason, which by the way carry a sentence of death!

Anyway, it appears that we will never know what the basis for charging
Bennett with treason was because that particular charge has been dropped,
and replaced with one to do with committing acts of terrorism and banditry.
It seems ironic to me that a man who was terrorized out of farm and home,
and eventually out of his country to seek exile elsewhere should now be
accused of terrorism. After many hours of trying to remember what Bennett
may have done to deserve this charge, one incident that may qualify to be
defined as terrorism comes to mind.

It is the time when the stocky Mr. Bennett floored, with one punch, a member
of the party that now seems to be the senior partner in our fledgling
Government of National Unity even though they hold fewer seats in Parliament
and only "won" the presidency after a bloody campaign of violence and
repression - Zanu-PF. At the time most people I spoke to seemed to think
that this was a justifiable act as the victim of that particular "act of
terrorism" speaks in a manner that makes many in the country wish they had
been in Bennett's shoes!

Of course I am only speculating here. Surely our government of the people
would not be so small-minded as to use their courts to revenge what was,
after all, a private altercation between fellow parliamentarians, whose
disagreements in parliament should be covered by Parliamentary Privilege? Or
would they not? We will know when he gets to court.

But I digress. I was trying to define treason. Most of the definitions I am
finding seem to suggest some sort of betrayal of one's country. I am not
sure how we can define betrayal of one's own country - as opposed to
opposing (clearly defined by Zanu-PF as betraying) the policies of a ruling

Would destroying a viable health system so that people in one's own country
die of curable diseases constitute treason? Would stealing money meant for
development projects? Would any of the Zanu-PF "chefs" who have blatantly
stolen from the country, exported food while the people starved, got very
wealthy on abusing and misusing their positions survive a treason trial
presided over by truly partial judges?

It seems to me that Zanu-PF has things the wrong way round. Zanu-PF has
become "The Country" while the population of Zimbabwe has become "The Enemy".
If they had their way, every one of us who has ever voted for any party
other than Zanu-PF should be charged with treason. Any one who points out
Zanu-PF's many faults should be hanged!

"If I had to choose between betraying my country and betraying my friend, I
hope I should have the guts to betray my country". E. M. Foster, Two Cheers
for Democracy.

If Zanu-PF is my country, then I can only agree with Foster!

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CPJ pleads for return of Daily News

February 16, 2009

daily-news-bomb-explosionScene after the bombing of the Daily News printing press in 2001.

By Our Correspondent

HARARE - The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has written to Zimbabwe’s Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and urged him to act swiftly to scrape repressive media laws from Zimbabwe’s statute books.

CPJ also urged Tsvangirai to lift the ban on several newspapers including The Daily News which was forced to close in 2003 by the Media and Information Commission, a statutory media regulatory body.

The Committee to Protect Journalists is an independent, nonprofit organization founded in 1981 to promote press freedom worldwide by defending the rights of journalists to report the news without fear of reprisal.

The New York-based organisation also implored Tsvangirai to secure the release of detained freelance photojournalist Anderson Shadreck Manyere and human rights activist and former news anchor with Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC), Jestina Mukoko.

Mukoko is the director of the Zimbabwe Peace Project.

The Daily News and its sister publication The Daily News on Sunday published by the privately owned Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe were closed in September 2003 by the MIC under the restrictive Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA). Two other privately owned publications The Tribune and The Weekly Times met a similar fate at the same time.

The CPJ reminded Tsvangirai  - who last week joined President Robert Mugabe in government under a power-sharing deal brokered by the regional SADC bloc, that he and his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party had long campaigned for a free press and should live up to their promise.

“The current media environment remains hostile to the independent press and will ensure partisan press coverage of any future developments made under the auspices of the new power-sharing alliance,” CPJ executive director Joel Simon said in the letter dated February 13.

“CPJ calls on the new unity government to move swiftly to free the media from control by the ruling party,” Simon added.

Simon said the government should free the media from state control, repeal prohibitive media taxes and allow the return of exiled journalists among a list of measures to ensure a vibrant media in Zimbabwe.

“The government of national unity should take immediate steps to abolish laws that require licensing of newspapers and journalists, allow the banned Daily News to recommence operations, end jamming of foreign radio stations, permit all local and foreign journalists who have been deported, banned, or forced into exile for security concerns to return safely and without harassment,” the CPJ said.

The letter to Tsvangirai was copied to the Zimbabwean Ambassador to the United States, Machivenyika Mapuranga, key officials in the MDC, Zanu-PF and several influential bodies and people.

Simon urged the new government to encourage the setting up of community radio stations which are allowed in terms of the Broadcasting Services Act (BSA) although none have been licensed to date.

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Tsvangirai to create 'Student Affairs' unit in his office

By Lance Guma
16 February 2009

Newly installed Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has pledged to create a
unit in his office to look into student affairs. According to the President
of the Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU) Clever Bere, Tsvangirai
made the pledge before he was sworn into office and they now look forward to
him delivering on that promise. It is likely Bulawayo Agenda coordinator
Gordon Moyo, recently appointed Minister of State in the Prime Minister's
office, will take on the role.

The MDC was formed in 1999 on the back of solid support from students,
youths and the labour movement, which Tsvangirai himself led. But with  ZANU
PF Minister of Higher Education Stan Mudenge recently sworn in, doubts have
begun to creep in over whether any meaningful reforms can be pushed through
that will benefit students. ZINASU have welcomed the coalition government
between ZANU PF and the MDC but stressed that it can only be considered a
transitional government.

'We emphasize that its role is, in the interim, to ensure that people's
lives are improved, the humanitarian crisis is addressed and that a new
people driven democratic constitution is in place, and fresh elections are
held thereafter,' a ZINASU statement read. Bere told Newsreel they wanted
several reforms that would guarantee academic freedoms, autonomy for
educational institutions, repealing of repressive university legislation,
accessibility and affordability of education for everyone. He also called on
all student leaders suspended or expelled from colleges, to be re-instated

The national student's body recently petitioned Chinese diplomats in Africa
to get Robert Mugabe's daughter Bona deported from Hong Kong where she is
studying. 20-year old Bona is an undergraduate student at the University of
Hong Kong, but her presence there only came out in the open when her mother,
Grace Mugabe, assaulted a photographer outside a plush hotel while visiting
her daughter. The total cost of Bona's tuition fees to the Zimbabwean
taxpayer is US$9000 per year and this is excluding boarding fees.

Bere told Newsreel the President's daughter had to come back and see for
herself the poor educational standards created by her father. A letter from
ZINASU to the Chinese Embassy in Harare, detailing their campaign to bring
Bona back, was recently published by Hong Kong's Sunday Morning Post
newspaper. The University of Hong Kong on Tuesday meanwhile denied reports
that Bona was studying at their campus. 'We do not have a student by the
name of Bona Mugabe on our student register, and we do not have any lady
student from Zimbabwe who is reading for an undergraduate programme or is at
the age of around 20, their statement read. It's thought however Bona is
using a different name to protect her identity.

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Police further detain WOZA members without warrant - may only go to court Wednesday after 5 days in

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

After submission of the High Court order for the lawyer to gain access
to the detained members, police changed their tune and advised that they
were reducing charges and offered the payment of an admission of guilt fine.

The lesser charge would be for 'blocking traffic'. WOZA policy is to
insist on a formal charge and advise members not to admit guilt, as this
will give them a criminal record. Under the Zimbabwean Constitution,
freedoms of expression and assembly are allowed so a conviction for peaceful
protest is highly unlikely. Police officers were then advised to charge or
release the activists.
This afternoon, police put the activists under further pressure to pay
fines. Due to this intense pressure and the deplorable conditions in the
cells, six of the detained group succumbed and have paid fines - the three
Radio Dialogue staff, and three WOZA members, the two mothers and one member
who has developed a bad rash.
The four activists that remain in custody have not been formally
charged and are still to be processed by police. It is hoped that they taken
to court tomorrow. Their continued detention is illegal as the 48-hours
police have by law to take people to court was up at lunchtime on Monday.
Police are arguing that the 48 hour period of detention has not expired but
to the Criminal Evidence and Procedure Act, it starts from the moment
of arrest (regardless of whether on a weekend or not) and can only be
extended if the 48-hour period expires on a non-court day.

      Surprise release remaining 4 activists
      Tuesday, 17 February 2009

      In a surprising twist, the remaining four activists that refused
to bow to intimidation and pressure and pay admission of guilt fines were
released from custody this evening.

      They have been instructed to return to Bulawayo Central Police
Station tomorrow morning at 8am when they will be taken to court. They were
made to sign warn and cautioned statements prior to their release but it is
not clear what they have been charged with as the lawyer was not present at
the time and the charges were not adequately explained to the women.

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HOT SEAT interview: Violet Gonda interviews Professor Brian Raftopoulos

SW Radio Africa Transcript

HOT SEAT interview: Violet Gonda interviews the Director for Research and Policy at Solidarity Peace Trust (SPT), South Africa and political analyst Professor Brian Raftopoulos.

Broadcast: 13 February 2009

Gonda: Professor Brian Raftopoulos is my guest on the Hot Seat programme today. Let me start with getting your thoughts on some of the developments in Zimbabwe . Roy Bennett, the MDC Treasurer General and the Deputy Minister of Agriculture designate, was arrested on the day that senior ministers were being sworn into this inclusive government. Now the MDC also says there are arrest warrants for their election expert Topper Whitehead and MDC MP of Marondera Ian Kay. Does this make sense to you, what’s happening?

Raftopoulos: Well I think what’s happening is that there’s always a danger, there are certainly I think divisions in Zanu-PF and clearly those who want to disrupt this agreement and this of course was always going to be a danger, that there was going to be this kind of problem once the process began. And of course, if this continues, then it will completely scuttle the agreement.

Gonda: What about Mugabe, are you saying that he’s not in control? Because surely, he could put a stop to this?

Raftopoulos: No I’m sure he could put a stop to it and I think that is also what is very disturbing. I’m sure he could put a stop to it. He must know what’s going on and he must know that this has huge implications for the future of this agreement and it’s also very embarrassing for SADC and it will confirm you know that for those who are sceptics, many sceptics on this agreement, that the bad faith is going to lead to the collapse and the problem is once that happens things will only deteriorate.

Gonda: And also, he had announced a bloated cabinet and the political detainees were not released by the time that Morgan Tsvangirai had been sworn in despite several demands from the MDC leader, so does this sound like Mugabe really wants this power sharing government to work?

Raftopoulos: Well what it sounds like is that Mugabe is again pushing to the brink his partners in government - he’s trying to marginalise, which we always knew was going to be danger, but of course if Mugabe follows this path then it will be disastrous for Zimbabwe .

Gonda: On the other hand, how should the new Prime Minister handle these challenges?

Raftopoulos: Well I’m sure he is going to obviously oppose what’s been done, try and use whatever authority he has to try and reverse these processes and try his best to try and save this agreement because the real danger of course is that once the agreement falls, the entire MDC will be in danger.

Gonda: Do you think he should have gone ahead and joined this government before his demands had been met?

Raftopoulos: Yes I think that it was a risk he was always going to have to take - the leverage was very weak. There was a great deal of pressure for him to go in. I don’t blame him for going in and even now, it’s not over but obviously there are real challenges and as I said, my real worry is if this agreement fails it will be absolutely disastrous for the country.

Gonda: And of course, Mr Tsvangirai kept repeating, on the day of his inauguration as Prime Minister that this is a transition and he said that the objective is to get a constitution and that they are looking for an election two years from now. Can you talk us through what you think the MDC strategy is?

Raftopoulos: Well I think from its inception, the MDC has seen this as a transition, the new constitution was part of the September agreement and I think that from the beginning, the MDC saw this as a means of opening up spaces and creating conditions for a new election as soon as possible. A new election that would decisively change power relations in the country in as peaceful a way as possible. And so I think that was the plan from the beginning in terms of entering this agreement.

Gonda: I would like to talk about the priorities that need to be addressed now that there is an inclusive government, but before I do that I wanted to just go back to the issue of the Cabinet. When Mugabe announced his cabinet and its seems it’s just the same old recycled faces - and for the past 28 years we have seen the same old faces. It appears in Zimbabwean politics, once you are in this circle of the governing elite, regardless of how you are performing, you will remain in that circle. Is there really dead wood in Zanu-PF or is Mugabe afraid of forming new alliances?

Raftopoulos: Look, I think Mugabe is going back to his old loyalties, to his own attempts to balance ethnicities in Zanu-PF who have become increasingly difficult because of the reduced number of ministries that he has, but yes, he’s going back to his own loyal groups and doing what he has always done.

Gonda: And what about this bloated cabinet that he had announced, what could have been the reasoning behind that?

Raftopoulos: Well the reasoning is that he is under severe pressure to be inclusive, but the problem is he’s only got a certain number of ministries under the agreement, so clearly he is responding to those pressures but in a way which undermines the agreement. So if he continues on this route, obviously it will really undermine the future of the global agreement.

Gonda: And what about the MDC appointments?

Raftopoulos: The ministries?

Gonda: The Cabinet appointments. Is the MDC also falling into the trend that has existed because some critics actually say that it doesn’t appear that some of the appointments were made on merit but were mere political appointments? Is that a fair assessment?

Raftopoulos: I think the MDC cabinet is a combination of loyalties and capacities. Morgan Tsvangirai like any leader has been forced to, in a sense, to repay those who have been loyal to him and to try and balance where he can capacity. So yes, there is a kind of generic problem with these kinds of appointments in a situation like this where one has to balance capacities and loyalties.

Gonda: So do you think this is the change we are looking for?

Raftopoulos: I think it’s the change that we have and that’s the reality of where we are, and we have to work with what we have. What we hope for is what we need to work towards, but I think the idea of just dismissing this just because it’s not exactly what you want in an ideal world is a mistake, because then you just evacuate the space of politics where you try and move for new direction.

Gonda: What are the priorities that need to be addressed and what are the key ministries that need urgent recovery in your view?

Raftopoulos: Clearly the humanitarian issue is a huge imperative now to deal with that, the health sector, education sector, the civil service and a broad kind of attempt to stabilise the currency and the economy. Those are clear realities that are impinging on peoples’ every day life, the cholera epidemic of course and these issues need to be addressed because people are continuing to die at a rapid rate.

Gonda: Given the degradation of the economy, what can they realistically achieve in these next few years, in your view?

Raftopoulos: Well they can realistically achieve the beginning of a recovery, the beginning of a re-establishment of a civil service, of the public sector. They can’t obviously turn everything around in the next few years, that’s not possible, but what people are looking for is the beginning of a process which is leading towards long term recovery.

Gonda: What about this Ministry of Finance because it’s a given that all reconstruction plans, whether it’s sorting out the water crisis, the education, health or economic planning, they all depend on the Ministry of Finance - the purse. So what are the key challenges that the new Minister of Finance, Tendai Biti will face as a Finance Minister?

Raftopoulos: Well a number of them is obviously getting some kind of stabilisation process into the policy environment, getting assistance, negotiating assistance from outside, cutting down on what has been called quasi-fiscal activities, which is expenditure that is not accounted for in the official budget, and plugging the leakages of patronage that have caused huge damage to the economy and to the politics of the country. So there are enormous challenges, in both channelling resources in an accountable way and injecting a much more serious, and a much more accountable policy into the government strategy.

Gonda: What about Gideon Gono, the Reserve Bank governor, because clearly the MDC has been criticising the governor’s policies, economic policies, so to what extent first of all, have the RBZ governor’s strategies affected our economy?

Raftopoulos: They have affected us hugely. Gono has effectively been not just the Reserve Bank governor but a Minister of Economic Planning, Minister of Finance, effectively even a Prime Minister. He’s a central part of the problem within the country and therefore any changes, long term changes must see his removal at some point from that portfolio.

Gonda: But he is appointed by the President, so is there scope that he can be restructured?

Raftopoulos: Well that’s what I said; this is a longer term project of trying to get a new person in there within the context of a new economic development plan.

Gonda: The new Prime Minister has promised to pay those in public service in forex by end of February, what did you make of these promises?

Raftopoulos: (chuckles) I’m not sure what to make of them, to be honest. I’m not sure where the new Prime Minister is going to get the resources but I’m assuming that if he made those promises, we’re hoping that he has some plan in mind, having made such huge claims. But clearly it’s part of a bigger problem which is that of the dollarisation or randisation of the economy and the fact that the goods and services are more or less only available in foreign currency but most people don’t have access to that income. So it is a central problem tied up with the kind of stabilisation that I said is absolutely necessary at the moment.

Gonda: And of course, the West has adopted a wait and see approach, you are in South Africa there, and I don’t know if people are talking about this, but is it possible that the South Africans may actually come and help on this front?

Raftopoulos: I think there are limits to what the South African government on its own can do and I think that’s reality. The South Africans have their own enormous problems, they’re in an election year, they’ve got enormous problems of inequality of their own which are also threatening to explode at certain points so I think that there’re limits to what the South African government on its own can do. Obviously any recovery programme in Zimbabwe will demand a lot more cooperation internationally but naturally that depends on what kind of progress is made in the government and this, what we have seen today, the arrest of Roy Bennett and the announcement of a bloated cabinet, these are not good indicators and are likely to make the engagement of those with the funds even less likely.

Gonda: And of course, as you have said, any recovery programme will require investors, so with what is happening right now as you’ve mentioned, how will someone like the Finance Minister attract investors and give them assurances that they can actually come back to Zimbabwe especially where you have problems with issues of private property rights?

Raftopoulos: Well with the current indicators that we’ve seen today, he’s not going to be able to do so. It’s that simple if these kind of developments from Zanu-PF carry on, then that will block the process and will stop anything other than humanitarian assistance going into the country.

Gonda: So what do you think is the way forward Professor Raftopoulos?

Raftopoulos: The way forward is to allow this agreement to have a chance to progress, especially for Mugabe and Zanu-PF to stop behaving is such an obstructive way because clearly if this continues there will be no way forward through the GNU and we’ll be back to deteriorating, further deteriorating situation - with an opposition that is probably going to be under huge repressive pressure and marginalised very quickly and we’re going to be in a very long term problem of repressive rule.

Gonda: But can a leopard change its spots?

Raftopoulos: That depends on the change of balance of forces in the country. Depends on what kind of changes take place in both parties and what kind of regional pressure and international pressure are brought to bear. It won’t change its spots on its own; it will change its spots in the context of other forces both nationally and outside of the country.

Gonda: And despite the violations, especially the rights violations, who do you think is going in with the upper hand right now between the two leaders?

Raftopoulos: I think both leaders have advantages and disadvantages. Clearly in terms of the monopoly of force in the government, Zanu-PF has that advantage but in terms of a long term economic strategy they have nothing. Similarly the MDC has a promise of a new start, or at least the beginning of a new start but are unable to put further pressure internally on the State given the deterioration of peoples’ lives, livelihoods internally.

Gonda: And it’s reported that the army generals wouldn’t allow Mr Tsvangirai to have his inauguration at Rufaro Stadium and they were not even present at the actual swearing-in ceremony. What do you make of that?

Raftopoulos: Clearly there are real forces in the army, in Zanu-PF who are still having problems with this agreement, that’s no secret, that was clear from the beginning and that any changes are going to have to deal with these kinds of recalcitrant forces. But I think the problem is, whatever the problems there are, we’ve got a real problem in Zimbabwe of what do we do if this agreement fails and there are no clear answers to that. There’s no Plan “B” that people have been asking from the MDC .

Gonda: And a final word.

Raftopoulos: Well one can only hope that at the moment this, the kind of obstacles that we are seeing, are aberrations which can be dealt with through the offices of both the Prime Minister and the President and through JOMIC and of course, through pressure from the region, but I think if not, and if it continues in this vein then this GNU is in very serious trouble.

Gonda: Thank you very much Professor Brian Raftopoulos.

Raftopoulos: Thanks Violet.

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Bring us your dead

Photo: IRIN
Digging a mass paupers grave
BULAWAYO, 17 February 2009 (IRIN) - Mass burials are being conducted in Zimbabwe's second city, Bulawayo, to empty hospital mortuaries of hundreds of unclaimed and decomposing bodies.

The morgues at the city's two main referral hospitals, Mpilo and the United Bulawayo, have fallen into disrepair, with broken refrigerators unable to maintain the required temperatures in the summer heat to prevent decomposition.

Mpilo's mortuary has a capacity of 30 corpses, but was storing 250, piled three high on gurneys, while other bodies were lying on the floor, and more arrive each day.

Zimbabwe's economic meltdown has prevented families from claiming bodies as funeral costs have become unaffordable.

A simple wooden casket is priced at between US$350 and US$400, a sum beyond the reach of nearly all Zimbabweans. Unemployment is calculated at 94 percent and more than half the population survives on donor food assistance.

The mortuary crisis has become so acute that on Valentine's Day - 14 February - the Bulawayo Residents Association (BURA), together with churches, businesses, funeral parlours and the Zimbabwe Prisons Service (ZPS), conducted a pauper's burial for 65 people whose bodies had languished in the city's morgues for over six months.

"We applied for pauper burial status from the Department of Social Welfare so that we could ease pressure on the hospital mortuaries, as bodies were rotting, and we received support from companies, churches and the prison authorities, who enabled us to go ahead with the burials," BURA chairman Winos Dube told IRIN at the mass funeral.

"The stench emanating from the hospital mortuaries was not good, and we hope families will claim bodies of their loved ones in future and give them decent burials," Dube said.

"The sad reality is that all this is a reflection of the economic situation in the country, where people disappear after the death of a relative because they cannot afford burial costs," he said.

"Everybody understands that people are struggling to survive, and this explains the high number of people needing pauper burials, but with the support of the other people we are working with on the current pauper burials we will continue to conduct the mass pauper burials."

Prisoners as pallbearers

The prisons department provided the manpower to carry the bodies from the morgues to the vehicles waiting to transport them to Bulawayo's Luveve cemetery, and then to the graves, dug by residents and members of church congregations.

Funeral parlours donated cash to purchase cardboard coffins, while the business community gave money for fuel and the hire of trucks and hearses.

"One of my uncles died over five months ago and has not been buried because all his children are in South Africa, and as a family we failed to locate them," said Thelma Sikhosana, 46, who attended the mass burial.

''Since we did not have any money to conduct the funeral we just left his body at the mortuary, and I just came here to see his final resting place''
"Since we did not have any money to conduct the funeral we just left his body at the mortuary, and I just came here to see his final resting place," the visibly distraught woman told IRIN.

Pauper burials used to be something of rarity in Zimbabwe, when the once flourishing economy either allowed people to prepare for the rituals of death by investing in funeral policies, or contributions by relatives provided often lavish send-offs for the deceased.

Many of those interred in the mass burial were prisoners. In a report published late in 2008 by the Zimbabwe Association for Crime Prevention and Rehabilitation of the Offender (ZACRO), it was alleged that in Zimbabwe's two largest prisons at least two inmates died each day from hunger or disease.

ZACRO said the squalid prison conditions in the country's 55 prisons - designed for 17,000 inmates and currently holding 35,000 - created an ideal environment for the spread of diseases, such as tuberculosis, while cash shortages prevented the purchase of antiretroviral drugs to treat prisoners living with HIV/AIDS.

ZACRO said in its report that the prison services did not have sufficient funds to buy food, let alone pay for burials. The social welfare department was responsible for prisoner burials, but had ceased this function as a result of funding shortages.

According to the World Health Organisation, average life expectancy in Zimbabwe has fallen from 60 years in 1990, to 37 years for men and 34 years for women at present.


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

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The Theft of Private Assets

Tuesday, 17 February 2009
When I left school at the age of sixteen and went to work on a farm,
my father sent an insurance salesman to see me and said that I should take
out a life insurance policy that would give me a pension when I retired in
49 years time. I forget what the monthly payments were but I signed up and
sacrificed some of my meager salary to the Old Mutual.
As I grew older, periodically I revised my insurance cover and took
out new agreements - eventually leading me to a situation where I was
contributing via a bank stop order to five contracts with the Old Mutual for
life cover and pensions of various sorts. By the time I left my last job, I
was a Managing Director of a large corporate and had a salary commensurate
with my position. I certainly never had to really worry about my family's
basic needs. In that position I had to fund not only my personal policies
but also the company pension scheme.
My father retired in 1978 and when he did, his pension was Z$268 a
After a lifetime of hard work. They could never have lived on this and
I was glad to be able to bring them into my own family, build a cottage next
to the house and support their basic needs. When he died 17 years later, his
pension rights barely paid for his immediate personal needs. But his
lifetime medical aid was still valuable.
When I reached the magical age of 65 and my lifelong savings in the
form of contributions to the Old Mutual matured, I expected to receive a
reasonable pension. The total value of all five contracts was insufficient
to pay for the petrol required to travel to the Old Mutual and collect the
cheque. I never received a cent for all the years of my contributions and
not even a letter of explanation.
One day I will do a calculation of what my total lifelong
contributions to the Old Mutual; were worth - but this I know, that until
1980, 24 years into my payments, the local dollar still bought a pound and
two US dollars. It was real money. When I started my payments in 1957, the
local currency bought two pounds. I would like to know what those sales guys
got in the way of a pension when they retired? I bet it was not linked to
the local!
We now have many thousands of pensioners here - some 300 000 from the
civil service, 16 000 from the railways and many thousands like myself who
were in the private sector. They are nearly all totally destitute. Many have
to be supported by relatives and friends and even special organisations that
have been set up to help.
This is not the only theft of private assets that has taken place.
Anyone, whose assets were held in monetary form, is now destitute. I well
remember a couple in Harare who when they retired sold their family home and
rented a smaller home, putting the money onto fixed deposit in a financial
institution (remember those days?). At the time I advised them not to go
that route and to buy a smaller home and invest the rest in blue chip
equities (do they exist anymore?) - they did not and they now live on small
monthly remittances from family abroad.
How did this happen and is there a remedy? It happened because the
massive cash flows from this myriad of small individual monthly payments
went into the pool of national savings and were easy pickings for the major
players in the economy. The first heist was in the form of the chunk taken
off the top and invested in government bonds (prescribed assets) at low
interest rates.
Then the companies administering the funds took their share for
expenses and overheads.
What was left they invested - not in productive ventures but most
often in high rise luxury buildings that even today stand as monuments to
our hard work and savings. I am told that 80 per cent of all the buildings
in down town Harare are owned by pension funds and insurance companies. It
explains how this country - one of the poorest in the world can boast a
skyline in Harare that would rival many cities in the richer developed
After that they invested in equities - so that they had some liquidity
in case they needed it to meet the occasional payout after a crisis.
The Old Mutual started out as a Mutual Fund owned by its
policyholders, became a major listed public company and gave us all shares -
I got 400 or so and sold them to help fund my business. It is now one of the
largest investors in the world - certainly in South Africa. But it pays
little or no attention to the plight of the tens of thousands of policy
holders in countries like Zimbabwe, who have had their lifetime savings
wiped out.
The reasons are, of course inflation - in the States right now you
will struggle to find an investment that will return you more than the cost
of inflation. Dividends from equities are a joke. When you have a spell of
hyperinflation like we have are having then cash assets just get wiped out
over night. It's a storm from which there is no protection.
I am told that credit card debt in the USA is bigger than the national
It is now clear that the entire developed world have been living so
far out front on credit that any loss of confidence will result in just what
we have experienced - the collapse of finance houses and the equity markets
and the value of real estate. Until savings deals with burden of debt and
real earnings in goods and services match incomes, the crisis will persist
and real living standards will fall.
At least here in Zimbabwe we have no debt - at least not in Zimbabwe
dollars, they were wiped out together with our savings. What we have to do
now is get our real assets working again and then make sure that in future
we invest our surpluses in real working assets and not in guilded towers
that do not produce anything.
One thing is also certain, we must do something to support our
pensioners - they after all were responsible for everything you see in
modern Zimbabwe.
This probably means that we will have to all sacrifice some of our
future income to meet the needs of those who supported us in the past.

Eddie Cross
Bulawayo, 17th February 2009

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Peace Watch of 17th February [Update on Abductees]


[17th February 2009]

Concern about Medical Condition of Abductees

On 7th February the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights [ZADHR] unreservedly condemned the continued denial of access to adequate medical treatment of persons detained at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison following their alleged abduction and subsequent torture.  [Full statement available from]  ZADHR expressed particular concern about the medical condition of Mr Fidelis Chiramba.  [He is 72 years old and had been incarcerated for 100 days.]  In addition they stated that Mr Kisimusi Dhlamini and Mr Gandhi Mudzingwa were also attended to on 6th February and found to have serious medical conditions that needed hospitalisation.  ZADHR called for their immediate release to a properly equipped and functional hospital and for them to be allowed to access the immediate medical assessment and treatment they required.

Update on Abductees

Jestina Mukoko, Fidelis Chiramba and Gandhi Mudzingwa are finally receiving treatment in the Avenues Clinic by order of a magistrate, granted after considerable opposition from the prosecutor.  They are still technically in custody, and under guard by prison warders, but are at last receiving the attention recommended by medical practitioners in a proper hospital environment.  Although the magistrate’s order was granted on Wednesday 11th February, it was not until the following day that they were taken to the Avenues Clinic.  There they were seen by their doctors but their treatment was abruptly terminated by prison personnel, and they were taken back to Chikurubi.  During Thursday night the three were taken back to the hospital, presumably because prison officers were fearful for their health.  [Jestina told her family how terrifying it was, as she was suddenly roused, but was not told were she was being taken or what was happening.]  On Friday the magistrate went to the Avenues Clinic to assess the position first-hand.  Back at the court she overruled the prosecutor’s objections and ordered that Jestina and Fidelis remain in the Avenues Clinic until a review on Friday 20th February.

Zacharia Nkomo and Chinoto Zulu were taken to the Avenues Clinic by prison officers on 16th February and admitted for treatment.

Andrison Manyere, the photojournalist who was admitted to hospital on 6th February and then forcibly taken away by prison officers before receiving full medical treatment, has still not been readmitted. 

Tawanda Bvumo and Pascal Gonzo [ZPP staffer] have been quietly released.  They were facing lesser charges which have been dropped.   

Abductees’ Court Cases Pending

There are 16 abductees 5 now hospitalized [see above] and 11 still held in Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison – who have court cases still pending.  The detainees basically fall into 2 groups:

Group 1.   9 accused of recruiting persons to undergo training for insurgency, banditry, sabotage or terrorism.  This group of 9 has been commonly referred to as the “recruiter group”  These include:

·    Jestina Mukoko and Broderick Takawira, Zimbabwe Peace Project [ZPP] staff; and  

·    Concillia Chinanzvavana, Emmanuel Chinanzvavana, Fidelis Chiramba, Pieta Kaseke, Violet Mupfuranhehwe, Collen Mutemagau and Audrey Zimbudzana  [lawyers are referring to these 7 cases as “Concillia et al”].

2 members of Group 1 [Jestina Mukoko and Fidelis Chiramba] are currently held in hospital under court order but are being guarded by prison warders, and access is of course limited.

Group 2.   7 accused of sabotage [bomb explosions in police station and on railway track]  This group of 7 has been commonly referred to as the “bomber group”.  The full list is: Chris Dhlamini, Gandhi Mudzingwa, Mapfumo Garutsa, Andrison Manyere, Regis Mujeyi, Zacharia Nkomo and Chinoto Zulu [lawyers are referring to these 7 cases as “Dhlamini et al”].

3 members of Group 2 [Gandhi Mudzingwa, Zacharia Nkomo and Chinoto Zulu] are currently held in hospital under guard.

Several Concurrent Court Cases

Court proceedings are under way at three levels of the court system – Supreme Court, High Court and magistrates court. 

Supreme Court

Jestina has a case pending in the Supreme Court that her constitutional rights were violated – she underwent unlawful deprivation of liberty, torture and inhuman and degrading treatment while detained, denial of pre-trial rights [no reason given for arrest, no access to lawyers or relatives] and denial of protection of the law [the report of her abduction not investigated by police and her abductors not prosecuted].  The lawyers are arguing that therefore charges must be dropped and she must be released.  Lawyers have also taken a similar case for Broderick Takawira [the other ZPP officer] and Audrey Zimbudzana [to represent the Concillia et al cases].  The constitutional issues raised are the same, so it is likely that these cases will be taken together.  They are essentially test cases, so the Supreme Court's decision will dictate the outcome for the other detainees also.  The hearing date has still not been fixed although the Chief Justice has already ruled the case is urgent.  

High Court

There have been numerous  High Court applications by the defence lawyers for both the “recruiter” and “bomber” groups  – for habeas corpus and release, for furnishing of information by police, for setting aside of magistrates' remand decisions, for access to proper medical attention by medical practitioners, and for bail.  Some matters are still pending [see court dates below].

Magistrates court

At this level the State has applied for the abductees to be remanded [held in prison pending trial] on the criminal charges mentioned above.  The defence lawyers have put up spirited opposition.  So far only the “bomber group” have been placed on remand [a decision being challenged in the High Court, see below].  The “recruiter group” continue in custody, but not on remand, pending decisions in the High Court and Supreme Court.  Defence lawyers have also succeeded in getting orders from magistrates for detainees to be examined by doctors of their own choice and if necessary to be admitted for treatment in a private hospital [instead of in the inadequately equipped prison hospital], and for the police to conduct investigations into the abductees' allegations of torture at the hands of State Security personnel.

[See end for summary of proceedings since last Peace Watch]

Dates for Next Court Cases

Wednesday 18th February:

(1)  The High Court will review the magistrates court decision of 9th January remanding Dhlamini et al [“bomber group”] on charges of sabotage [bombing].  This could result in their release.  Proceedings will be in open court, commencing 10am.

(2)  If they are not released or if the High Court case has been delayed, Dhlamini et al are due to appear in the magistrates court at 11.30am for further remand, and a defence application for medical examination and treatment.  Dhlamini in particular needs to be admitted and treated [see ZADHR report above].  The court is also due to consider a police report responding to allegations of torture made by the accused.

Friday 20th February:

The magistrates court will review the position of Jestina Mukoko and Fidelis Chiramba in the light of medical reports.

Friday 27th February:

Continuation of remand proceedings for Concillia et al from the “recruiter group”.  Their lawyers will be applying to the magistrate before then for medical examination and treatment of the detainees.

MDC-T Goes Ahead with Inclusive Government

although Abductees Not Released

For some months the MDC-T has been raising the release of the abductees as a condition of continuing negotiations.  After the SADC Summit the MDC-T National Council resolutions of 30th January insisted on their release before the formation of the inclusive government.  But the inclusive government has been sworn in - and the abductees have not been released.  In a speech after his inauguration on Wednesday Prime Minister Tsvangirai had this to say about the abductees:  “As I stand before you, more than 30 innocent people continue to languish in jail months after  being abducted and illegally detained.  While I will not interfere in the judicial process, I will make it a priority to ensure that the law is upheld and that the justice system deals with their cases in a fair, equitable and transparent manner in the shortest possible time frame.”  Mr Tsvangirai went to Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison on Thursday morning and saw the abductees.  He noted the “appalling conditions” in which they are held.  

Amnesty International Call

The new government should immediately and unconditionally release Prisoners of Conscience Jestina Mukoko and Broderick Takawira.  It should also ensure prompt and fair trial for all political detainees or release them immediately.

Time for Civil Society Mobilisation on behalf of Abductees

First they were “enforced disappearances”, then “abductees”, now “maximum security prisoners who have not been brought to trial”.  They have been tortured and undergone gruelling conditions and this for some of them has gone on for over three months.  The politicians have not succeeded in getting them released, and maybe there has been too much reliance on this hope.  Meanwhile the State continues to drag out procedings and justice is patently not being done.  Is it not time that civil society groups and churches mobilise and appeal to all Zimbabweans of good will to campaign for their release? 

Abductees Court Proceedings since 9th February

Note: for fuller details of events please see ZLHR reports available from

Monday 9th February

Remand proceedings for Dhlamini et al – further remanded until Monday 16th February. 

Friday 13th February

First, the magistrate dealt with the situation of Jestina and Fidelis.  After the court adjourned to the hospital it was confirmed that they would remain there under treatment and that the position would be reviewed on Friday 20th February.  The Concillia et al case was postponed to 27th February.

Monday 16th February

(1)  In the High Court, in response to an application by the State, Justice Karwi modified his previous order for medical examination and hospitalisation of the members of the Dhlamini group; the modified order requires a State-appointed doctor to confirm hospitalisation recommended by the detainees' doctors.  If the doctors disagree, the court will decide.

(2)  In the magistrates court the State failed to produce Dhlamini et al for their scheduled appearance for further remand.  No explanation was given.  The defence protested and also reminded the court that the State had not complied with the court's order to provide a police report on allegations of torture made by the accused.  The court ordered the State to furnish copies of the report and postponed the matter to 18th February at 11.30.

Veritas makes every effort to ensure reliable information, but cannot take legal responsibility

 for information supplied.

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A lavish b'day for Mugabe against a backdrop of famine

An "insensitive and shocking move"

Zimbabwe's President, Robert Mugabe, is set to host the mother of all
birthdays as he prepares to slaughter 500 cattle in an extravagant bash when
he turns 85 this month.

Tuesday 17 February 2009, by Alice Chimora

According to reports, Mugabe's 21st February Movement will hold a fund
raising dinner to raise funds for his birthday party next week, with targets
of as much as 50 cattle from the country's 10 provinces.

The party, which has been called "insensitive and shocking" by many, has
been deferred from February 21 to 28, and will be held in Chinhoyi amid a
backdrop of 7 million Zimbabweans urgently needing food aid.

Invitations have already gone out for the bash which will also see Mugabe's
supporters being treated to 2 000 bottles of Moet and Chandon and 61
Bollinger champagne, 500 bottles of Johnny Walker Blue Label whisky, 400
portions of caviar and 8,000 lobsters.

Revealing the massive plans, Chairperson of the Fund Raising Committee,
Temba Mliswa, indicated that nntertainment will be provided by the Police
Band, and the Airforce of Zimbabwe Dance group. "Because we want to raise as
much funds as we can to make this great day a success, we are also holding
raffles on the day of the dinner dance and winners will get Air Zimbabwe
tickets, Econet Wireless lines as well as Net*One lines, among other

At least 100 cattle have been donated by "well-wishers" in what has been
described as an unprecedented feast in a country facing mass starvation. "In
the event of receiving the anticipated 50 cattle from each district, our aim
is to donate the extra beats to identified projects in the province," Mliswa
said, limiting the outrage that his project is expected to draw.

Mugabe's planned official birthday bash, has already provoked a storm of
criticism for its extravagance.

Zimbabwe, once known for its economic and agricultutral success is now the
world's third largest food aid operation, after Afghanistan. The country has
an estimated population of 12 million out of which a quarter has moved
abroad due to a whopping 94% unemployment rate and also for political
reasons. With an estimated 9 million resident population the UN World Food
Programme estimates last month showed that over 75 percent would already be
in need of food aid.

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Fundraiser to Stop Cholera in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwean Community in Perth Fundraiser to Stop Cholera in Zimbabwe

The funds raised will buy water cleaning chemicals for affected Zimbabwean cities.

Sunday 22 February 2009

4pm to 7pm


Braithwaite Park cnr Scarbrough Beach Rd and The Boulevarde Mt Hawthorn



Sausage sizzle provided. Bring your own drinks and picnic chairs.


Adults $10  Children under 12  $5


African drumming and dancing by Dunumba and Afrotonic

Zimbabwean DJ's--DJ Gridlock, DJ Blackbelt and DJ Scater07


Donations can also be sent to -Zimbabwe Information Centre PO Box 346 Guildford WA 6935


For more information contact Paul (Zimbabwe Information Centre) on 0438 949 898

Supported by Ribbon of Africa and Zimbabwe Information Centre(WA Branch)

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The future of whites in Zimbabwe

An essay by Prof Masipula Sithole, writing in the Financial Gazette in May 2000, about race relations in modern day Zimbabwe:
By Masipula Sithole
Posted to the web: 16/02/2009 23:43:13
IN his book, Politics in Rhodesia: White Power in an African State published some 27 years ago, the American scholar Larry Bowman made a subtle observation about "liberal/right" wing strategic thought in white politics in colonial Rhodesia:

"Extreme care must be taken," he said, "to distinguish between rhetoric and actual differences," noting that:

"White political rhetoric obscures reality and suggests differences on racial questions where none existed. White conflict was invariably over tactical variations on the same theme - how to structure relations internally with Africans . . . On the question of permanent white control and destruction of the nationalist movement, there was only one choice."

Thus, Bowman would want us to see white Rhodesians as having what psychologists call a "group mind" and not to distinguish between a Todd (Garfield) and a Smith (Ian). A Todd and a Smith is the "same difference".

In a candid essay, White Under Black (1983), University of Zimbabwe Professor Marshall Murphree made five observations about race relations in this country that are worth repeating as we stop to reflect on events as they unfold today. He observed that:

-As a group, whites share, with an emergent black elite, a privileged economic status which places them far above the bulk of the population;

-Privileged elites do not abandon their privileges lightly, and prejudice, although more mutable, has a tenacity and irrationality which tends to worsen in the face of change to the unknown - in this case, black rule;

-Racially visible social and economic elites without political power are in a dangerous position - vulnerable to the constant danger that political elites may choose to operationalise race for political and economic purposes, a technique in which blacks have been well schooled by whites;

-The new black governments have a stake in their white minorities since their skills are a resource they can ill-afford to lose. They also have a stake in establishing a reputation for competency - in this case, in terms of their international image; and

-Whites have been aware of their utility, the utility of their skills, but fear that black governments may view their presence only in instrumental, not intrinsic, terms. If this is the case they are potentially expendable when their skills are no longer needed.

These observations are very pertinent to our troubled times.

In Bowman's "group mind" formulation, a Sam Levy and an Eddie Cross, hapana mutsauko; it's the "same difference".

In the contemporary setting, this is precisely what Professor Jonathan Moyo means when he says: "Nothing good for Africans can come out of a white man"!

The Murphree observation seems to be "spot-on"; it is what we have observed since independence; it is what we are observing today in the most vulgar manner.

But there is a third observation.

Not that he comes from my home area, but certainly such a principled stand deserves notice and recognition. I mean the stand taken by a white farmer, Roy Bennett of Chimanimani.

He has not been paraded and flushed all over the place like other farmers, denouncing their membership and support for the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). Rather, Bennett has reaffirmed his support for the movement.

It's not really the fact that he reaffirmed his support for the MDC per se that deserves notice and recognition, but the manner he took the stand.

Bennett's farm in Chimanimani has been occupied by "war vets" for quite some time now. To be allowed to return to the farm, the war vets say Bennett must renounce his support and membership of the MDC. (And perhaps slaughter three "mombis!" and ferry five tractor-loads of his farm workers to Zanu PF rallies every weekend!).

He refuses, saying that he is willing to give up the farm in favour of remaining with the MDC. All he wants now is police protection in order to go to the farm, collect his belongings and bid his workforce goodbye.

Bennett is the MDC candidate for the Chimanimani constituency in the forthcoming parliamentary elections and says he will remain a candidate until the elections, come what may!

(Incidentally, Chimanimani is the area where the first white settler farmer was killed in 1964 by the ZANU "Crocodile Group" led by the late William Ndangana).

Is the stand that Bennett has taken "tactical" (in Bowman's formulation) or there is an issue of "principle" involved here?

Not that he has nowhere to go; he could have joined the "chicken run" queue to New Zealand or Australia. But no; he chooses to stay, forfeiting his farm for the party of his choice.

What a lesson to all of us, black and white.

Here is one man, albeit a white man, who has placed his fortune in the hope that one day the "rule of law" and "good governance" will return to our land. Above all, Bennett is upholding a cherished principle and value, "freedom of association", at its darkest hour.

Have we, as blacks, viewed the white man's presence "only in instrumental, not intrinsic, terms" and now he is "expendable", we are ready to dispose of him (in Murphree's formulation)?

Varume tapindwa neiko? What has gotten into us?

What we are doing will soon backfire. Certainly our ancestors don't approve of what we are doing in the name of hunger for land. The sooner we stop the better.

Next week we consider: Who is being deceived: MDC kana kuti Zanu PF?

Meanwhile I predict that some day, citizen Roy Bennett of Zimbabwe will be given an award, perhaps an international award.

Well done Roy!

Masipula Sithole, now late, is former a professor of political science at the University of Zimbabwe. This article was originally published in the Financial Gazette in May 2000

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