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Court orders government to stop mining in Chiadzwa

By Alex Bell
18 February 2010

The Supreme Court has ordered the government to stop mining operations at
the controversial Chiadzwa diamond fields, amid an ongoing ownership wrangle
over the claim.

Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku ordered the Zimbabwe Mining Development
Corporation and the Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe to cease
operations at the claim, which legally belongs to the UK based mining firm
Africa Consolidated Resources (ACR). This means the firm Mbada mining, that
has been mining under state authorisation, must stop operations, although it
is allowed to remain on sight pending a court solution to the ownership

"The balance of convenience favours the applicants (ZMDC and MMCZ) remaining
on the site of the claims pending appeal, but they must cease all mining
activities and it is so ordered," said Chief Justice Chidyausiku in the
judgment made available on Wednesday.
ACR, which holds the legal title to the diamond claim in Chiadzwa was
evicted at gunpoint from the claim in 2006; a move that a High Court judge
last year ruled was illegal. The government has appealed this ruling, and in
the interim Chief Justice Chidyausiku ordered the transferral of more than
129 000 carats of diamonds to the central bank for 'safe keeping'. Those
diamonds were seized by police two weeks ago, apparently acting on orders by
Mines Minister Obert Mpofu.

It's understood that Minister Mpofu had tried to stop the diamonds being
transported to the central bank, by producing a letter from the registrar of
the Supreme Court, Nomonde Mazabane. The letter detailed that the court
order to move the diamonds did not necessarily include all the diamonds
mined from the Chiadzwa claim, and that the order had been reversed. But
Harare's deputy sheriff, tasked with enforcing the orders of the court,
refused to accept the terms of the letter and the diamond transfer

The gems were finally transferred in three strong boxes and under a heavy
police guard to the central bank. But while the stones were being
registered, a senior police official overseeing the process halted
procedures and removed the gems. He reportedly said "there have been new
developments," and that the registrar's letter was 'true'.

In the full judgment explaining his orders Chief Justice Chidyausiku said
the letter written by the Registrar of the Supreme Court "informing the
concerned parties of the court's intention to give reasons for the order of
January 25," should not be misinterpreted as reversing the order. He said
such as interpretation was the "height of mischief."

The Chief Justice explained that the removal of the diamonds from the
central bank was 'unlawful and contemptuous'.
"If anyone has removed the diamonds from the Reserve Bank, he has done so
unlawfully and in contempt of the order of this court. The diamonds must be
returned to RBZ immediately in order to purge the contempt. Failure to do so
should attract serious consequences," he added.


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Is Savior Kasukuwere being forced to back-down from his indigenisation regulations?

Update: SW Radio Africa are reporting on the "mixed messages over the status of the indigenisation regulation". The article quotes Arthur Mutambara, the Deputy Prime Minister, as saying:

No one else, Prime Minister or Ministers, no one else is mandated to speak on this matter as per our council decision. So any communications from anyone after Thursday last week you must disregard. The only person speaking on behalf of the government of Zimbabwe in terms of this matter of indigenisation is Minister Kasukuwere.

Radio VOP are reporting that Savior Kasukuwere may be backing down from his implementation regulations:

Zimbabwe's Youth Development, Indigenisation and Empowerment Minister, Savior Kasukuwere has backed down from implementing his controversial indigenisation regulations gazetted two weeks ago as pressure mounted on Zimbabwe to review the legislation which was widely feared it would scare away investors (Radio VOP).

SW Radio's Hot Seat programme recently explored the controversial policy with a panel of people including among them Supa Mandiwanzira the President of the Affirmative Action Group, businessman Mutumwa Mawere, economist Daniel Ndlela and journalist Peta Thornycroft.

Supa Mandiwanzira defended the legislation to the end, as one would expect from a Zanu PF loyalist. But I have yet to come into contact with a single person who can find anything to defend in this legislation.

Zimbabweans have gone through hell - most Zimbabweans literally going without food as a result  of Zanu PF's ill-considered economic policies; millions being forced to leave Zimbabwe to try and find survival.   We are not blind to the consequences of legislation rooted in political patronage. Most ordinary Zimbabweans know full-well that Zanu PF's claims to empower the poor are more directly linked with Zanu PF's desire to further enrich the Zanu elite, with devastating  consequences for the majority of Zimbabweans.

The comments from the other three people  on the Hot Seat panel give a snapshot of opinion being expressed by most Zimbabweans. Most of us see this legislation as the final nail in Zimbabwe's coffin from a party that has destroyed the economy and appears hell-bent on more destruction. The extracts below highlight just a few of the thought-provoking comments made - all good reasons to abandon this legislation. Listen to the Hot Seat programme here.

Mutumwa Mawere : Who would be included, who would not be included? If I am white, I came in to Zimbabwe when the flag was raised in 1980 and I invested, I made my money, how can you distinguish me with somebody who was born in the country, maybe on the same day that I was born and then you build a foundation on that basis.


Peta Thornycroft: Well I think there are so few white people left in Zimbabwe that it really makes little difference, any issue about race [...] It's not about white people per se, it's about reaping where you have not sown. [...] What worries me with these regulations is that they are in the hands of Saviour Kasukuwere, a ZANU PF MP, a ZANU PF person, who might say 'OK we're actually going collecting for the February 21 st Movement at the moment and if we don't get a donation from you I'm afraid that's your 51%'. And it's no good saying people don't behave like that, we all know ahead of ZANU PF congresses over many years, businessmen have been forced to invest in the ZANU PF congress for fear of their business, they've done it to protect themselves. And I could give you a string of names if I had permission in advance to demonstrate this. These regulations give far too much power to the Minister, his discretion is absolutely enormous.


Daniel Ndlela: The point here is, let me go back a little bit and say who in fact are these 'indigenous Zimbabweans' that will benefit from this law? The letter of the law simply says that the people who registered their names with the Minister and there will be an allocation procedure. Definitely this is patronage, it is a continuation of patronage as we have seen it in Zimbabwe and that those who will benefit are people in the gravy train in the patronage system. This letter of the law is quite clear that if you don't comply, five years in prison, if you don't do this, five years in prison. The issue here from an economist's point of view is if you want investments from your own country, existing investments or/and new investments out there, you are not going to threaten people that come here, invest but if you don't comply you are going into prison for five years. From an economist's point of view, you'll not have any investors coming into this country.


Daniel Ndlela: I want to ask Supa himself that if he has a million dollars will he go to a country where he will actually end up in five years with a share value of $49,000. He would be very benevolent indeed [...] because I'll not do that, I'll not actually go to a country where they want my 100 dollars and then tell me at the end of the day, you are going to remain with 49, the 51 will go to the locals, so I will stay in my own place.


Peta Thornycroft: I can't understand why anyone wants to tamper with companies that maybe running successfully already, why not start a new one? Why not expand it rather than messing up what, if any business has survived the last ten years, particularly say the last five years in this country, my goodness they should get a business Oscar for having survived the chaos of hyperinflation and money printing. If they've survived, leave them alone, we've got so few industries left. Start new ones. Why don't previously disadvantaged people of whatever colour start a new business? Shouldn't government be looking to assist new business establishment rather than tampering with what is already there - because it wouldn't matter how you wrote the story about those Regulations, the percentage is there and in 400 words when you write that story, that is what the world reads and I'm afraid that is the impression that has been created and it's not going to go away.


Mutumwa Mawere: DRC has minerals, 100% are indigenous but there's no activity taking place in some of those minerals. You can equally convert Zimbabwe into 100% title and nothing takes place. What is good for Zimbabwe? Is it for people to sit to play God and say I own 100% of Zimbabwe but I don't have the means, or I own 100% of the car but I don't have fuel? Their car may be worth 100,000 US dollars but if you don't have one litre of fuel, the car won't move. So we can end up with cars that provide no motion to it. And equally somebody who has turned 30 years now who was born in 1980 who is white, how are we going to face that person? Born in Zimbabwe 1980, was not part of the previous story, now does it mean that that business ought to carry three passengers or four passengers for it to pass through a toll gate where Supa or the Minister is a Toll Gate Inspector?

Listen to the full Hot Seat programme here.

This is more from the Radio VOP article - commenting on the MDC-T response to the legislation:

Tsvangirai's spokesperson, James Maridadi, said: "What Zimbabweans want is a real economy, with jobs, growth and food security. Instead, these regulations would have plunged us back into the sort of economic decline and wide-scale job losses we saw as a result of the corrupt farm acquisition programme. And all for the sake of further enriching the political eliteini who have already acquired millions through so-called land reform, at the expense of the rest of the population."

In the past weeks there had been an outcry from trade unions, employers, and economists.

Kasukuwere on Tuesday agreed to shelve the regulations and consult with other Government Ministers, particularly with Elton Mangoma, Minister of Economic Planning and Investment.

"It's back to the drawing board to devise a true empowerment policy that will meet the needs of the people, and drive economic growth and job creation," government sources said last night.

"The Prime Minister has always been a strong advocate of policies that empower the poor and marginalised," said Maridadi. "That is why empowerment was a central platform of the MDC manifesto in the last elections. But to the Prime Minister, empowerment means creating opportunities for people, jobs, education, and hope. The proposed regulations would have achieved the exact opposite. That is why the Prime Minister opposed them in the strongest terms."

The regulations were gazetted without any prior consultation within the Cabinet Committees or the Council of Ministers, in clear breach of Cabinet Rules and the Constitution.

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Government’s mixed messages over status of indigenisation regulation

By Violet Gonda
17 February 2010

The latest newsletter from Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai says the
government ‘dropped’ the controversial indigenisation regulations, following
an unprecedented outcry from stakeholders. But conflicting statements have
been issued by the rival partners in government, indicating that the
regulations have not been dropped.

The Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment regulation which was passed last
week, requires businesses to cede a controlling interest of not less than
51% of the shares to ‘indigenous’ Zimbabweans. From March 1st companies have
forty five days to disclose their shareholdings or indigenisation plan, and
they must fully comply within five years. The controversial bill was passed
through Parliament in 2008 after resistance by MDC legislators, when the
former ZANU PF government had a majority in parliament.

On Wednesday, Robert Mugabe defended the regulations at a tourism investment
conference in Harare. He said 49% is a lot of equity and it is only the
foolish investors who will say no.

The Affirmative Action Group has also warned it will go on a campaign to
enforce the regulations on companies in urban areas from the beginning of
The statement from the Prime Minister’s office also said that the Minister
of Economic Planning and Investment, Elton Mangoma and the Minister of Youth
Development, Indigenisation and Empowerment, Saviour Kasukuwere, had agreed
to go back to the drawing board to revise this legislation. We were not able
to reach either minister for comment at the time of broadcast.

The newsletter went on to say: “This is in line with Prime Minister Morgan
Tsvangirai’s stated vision for real empowerment, based on providing
incentives for all stakeholders to promote growth and create jobs, rather
than enriching the elite through asset redistribution. This policy would
seek to build on the economic growth and gains of the past twelve months to
ensure that the nation’s Zimbabweans want is a real economy, with jobs,
growth and food security.”

Last Friday Minister Kasukuwere told SW Radio Africa the regulation will not
be reversed but that the government would accept feedback and suggestions to
improve it.

But James Maridadi, the Prime Minister’s spokesperson, said on Wednesday the
Tsvangirai’s position was that the regulations were ‘counter-productive’ and
he maintains he had not been consulted. Maridadi said there is now going to
be a debate by the Council of Ministers to discuss this issue. He said
Tsvangirai agrees that Zimbabweans should participate in the mainstream
economy but that the indigenisation regulations should not scare away

Meanwhile, the Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara said the Council of
Ministers decided last week that there will only be one spokesperson on this
subject from now on, because of the mixed messages coming from government.

He said on Thursday: “No one else, Prime Minister or Ministers, no one else
is mandated to speak on this matter as per our council decision. So any
communications from anyone after Thursday last week you must disregard. The
only person speaking on behalf of the government of Zimbabwe in terms of
this matter of indigenisation is Minister Kasukuwere.”

Mutambara added: “Disregard the comments from the Prime Minister’s Question
Time (newsletter), disregard that.”

The Deputy Prime Minister went on to say colleagues in cabinet had been told
to submit their views and changes they want to see through Kasukuwere. He
said the Minister was also seeking comments from the private sector.

Observers say there are real fears these regulations will only benefit the
elite, especially in a country were there are no credible institutions to
ensure genuine empowerment of the ordinary people and when Zimbabwe has such
a bad economic track record.


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TAKE ACTION: WOZA women still in custody today

WOZA are still needing support from the public to speed up the relase of two women, Sibongile Matupe and Rose Rukwewo, who were arrested in Mutare yesterday:

Two women, Sibongile Matupe and Rose Rukwewo, an elderly woman, have been arrested in Mutare today following the peaceful protest in that city yesterday. The two women are currently at Mutare Central Police Station and look set to spend the night in custody. It is unclear why they were targeted for arrest or what charge, if any, will be laid against them.  Lawyers from Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) are in attendance but have not been given access to the women. Law and Order officers are insisting that they finish 'interviewing' them before they will allow the lawyer access to his clients.

Police went door-to-door in Sakubva, a suburb of Mutare, searching for people who took part in yesterday's peaceful protest action.  The two women were taken from their homes.

The arrest of these two women is a blatant violation of civil rights, as is the fact that they are being denied access to their lawyer. (vioa WOZA)

The two women are still in custody today. One of them suffers from high blood pressure and lawyers are struggling to get her released as quickly as possible. There are no witnesses to say that these two women were at the peaceful protest in Mutare yesterday: the police detained them on hearsay and kept them in custody overnight. It is believed that the police are intending to warn and caution them, with an accompanying fine of US$20. They should not have been arrested in the first place, and they should be released immediately.

We are told that the police are still going door to door looking for WOZA participants in the peaceful protest.

Take Action:

WOZA are asking people to call the Mutare police station to protest the arrest of these women and to demand their immediate release.

Telephone numbers to call:

+263 20 31543

+263 20 64212

+263 20 63813

+263 20 63814.

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Masvingo Teachers Forced To Join Strike At Gun Point

18/02/2010 07:03:00

Masvingo, February 18, 2010 - Members of President Mugabe's dreaded secret
service, the Central Intelligence Organisation this week descended at
Victoria High School in Masvingo and forced the closure of the government
elite school, at gunpoint, after ordering teachers who were conducting
lessons to join the on-going nationwide strike by civil servants pressing
for better wages.

The suspected state agents severely assaulted and injured six teachers out
of the 30 Victoria High School staff complement, who tried to reason against
engaging in the strike since parents with students at the school were paying
them a US$300 monthly incentive each.

Some of the assaulted teachers were hospitalised at the private Makurira
Memorial clinic after sustaining varying injuries.

Sources at the school said they beleived that, the headmaster, Mr Jacob
Chademana, who is a Zanu PF loyalist might have had a hand in the assault of
some teachers for refusing to join the strike.

''The understanding amongst teachers and parents was that teachers were
going to receive US$100 per month each as an incentive in return for them
contiuning to conduct classes irrespective of what the government was paying
but we were shocked to see heavily armed men forcing us to stop lessons on
Tuesday or face consequences and those who refused to take heed were
seriously assaulted,'said one of the teachers who refused to be named
fearing persecution."

Another teacher at the school added,'We strongly believe that Chademana(The
Headmaster) had a hand in the move by the state agents because he was openly
showing his support for the strike from the onset and seemed to like the
idea of teachers at the school joining the strike despite the agreement
between parents and teachers on the payment of incentives,"

Contacted for comment Chademana said:''Who told you that the people who
assaulted some of my staff members were CIOs, we are in an inclusive
government and its senseless for you to just conclude that the people who
did that were sent by Zanu PF. Anyway what's wrong if teachers just like
other civil servants decide to join a strike pushing for improvement of
their salaries."

Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe provincial co-ordinator, Munyaradzi
Chauke confirmed the incident saying investigations were still underway but
launched a verbal tirade against Zanu PF for financing torture and barbarism
in the education sector.

'' As PTUZ , we strongly condemn the assault of teachers and subsequent
closure of Victoria High School  because we believe that if teachers had an
arrangement with parents in the payment of incentives, why then should
students be sacrificed on the altar of political expediency, the attack on
teachers was barbaric to say the least,''said Chauke.

The Movement of Democratic Change has said there is a third hand in the
strike of civil servants meant to destabilise the gains of new unity

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Zimbabwe annual inflation at -4.8 pct y/y in Jan

Thu Feb 18, 2010 3:09pm GMT

* Food prices push monthly inflation higher

* Economy stabilising under fragile unity govt

* Planned foreign firms takeover casts shadow on recovery

HARARE, Feb 18 (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's consumer prices dropped 4.8 percent in
the year to January, although at a slower pace compared with December's
annual decline, the Central Statistical Office (CSO) said on Thursday.

Prices have stabilised somewhat since a power-sharing government set up by
President Robert Mugabe and rival Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai a year
ago adopted use of multiple foreign currencies to replace the Zimbabwe
dollar, rendered worthless by hyperinflation.

The CSO, which started calculating price movements in U.S. dollars in
December 2008, said the pace of price falls fell from -7.7 percent
year-on-year in December, but the month-on-month rate quickened, driven by
food prices.

"The month-on-month food and non-alcoholic beverages inflation stood at 1.81
percent in January," the statistics agency said.

Although the unity government has managed to stabilise Zimbabwe's economy,
which grew for the first time in a decade last year, analysts say frequent
policy wrangles within the coalition are holding back recovery.

Zimbabwe says it needs at least $10 billion to reconstruct its battered
economy, but investors and foreign donors are holding out for signs that
Mugabe is ready to implement broad reforms and genuinely share power with

The country's Indigenisation and Empowerment Minister, Saviour Kasukuwere, a
Mugabe ally, has rattled investors by ordering foreign-owned firms to
transfer majority shareholding to local blacks, under a law passed in 2007.

Tsvangirai has said the order was "null and void" as it was issued without
cabinet approval, but Mugabe on Wednesday backed the plans.

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CRD Finds Secret Diamond Mining at Charleswood Estate

By Jeff Miller Posted: 02/18/10 08:41
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RAPAPORT...  The Center for Research and Development (CRD) in Zimbabwe
reported that a Russia-based company, DTZ/Ozego, was secretly mining
diamonds at Charleswood Estate, a large commercial farm formerly owned by
Roy Bennett, the Movement for Democratic Change's (MDC-T) party treasurer
and the former legislator for Chimanimani.

CRD claimed that the company was working in cooperation with senior
officials of the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front
(ZANU-PF) party. The organization made a sight visit to the estate and
stated in the report that it "can confirm that indeed, mining activities
have been going on for a year now."

The company conducting mining at Charleswood, DTZ/Ozego, is managed by
Alexander Gregory and good-quality diamonds are being recovered there,
according to CRD. The diamond mining area, located approximately 15 miles
(25 kilometers) from Chimanimani village, is well guarded by security
forces. CRD also found that the local villagers were informed that the
government intended to relocate them, although they did not receive further
clarification regarding the prospective move, as well as other objectionable

"There is ill treatment of settlers and workers at the mine by the
management," the report noted. "Freedom of movement is infringed because
people are not allowed to go and see their relatives or to buy maize.
Alexander is said to be a rabid racist with an undying quest of abusing
workers and trespassers. Many unconfirmed stories were told about him which,
among others, include setting his dogs on workers and passersby. Soldiers
have made the area impassable by beating up motorists who do not live in the
area on the suspicion that they want to buy diamonds illegally. The soldiers
have also been brutally assaulting villagers caught panning on the farm."

The CRD cited six specific accounts of the beatings, threats, searches dog
attacks and/or detentions allegedly conducted by the police, as well as
DTZ/Ozego's Gregory, against citizens. Additional accounts of such abuses
remain unconfirmed.


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Pressure mounts on Mugabe to fully implement GPA

By Tichaona Sibanda
18 February 2010

Seventeen months after the signing of the GPA between ZANU PF and the MDC
formations, Zimbabweans and the international community in general have
accused Mugabe and his party of not demonstrating their commitment to reform
and democratic freedoms.

Analyst Clifford Mashiri told us there are lots of things that can and
should be done, that would reflect a genuine change in spirit and attitude
towards the implementation of the GPA.

Commenting on the fact that Mugabe finally appointed the MDC ambassadors
this week, Mashiri said; 'The appointment of ambassadors was a public
relations stunt to try and sanitise his (Mugabe's) image that has been badly
shattered by the extension of targeted sanctions by the EU because they said
they haven't seen any changes on the ground. Even then the appointment of
ambassadors is not enough, it's an element of implementation but it's a
matter of too little too late.'

He added; 'We want to see Gideon Gono and Johannes Tomana removed; that
would be the beginning of the implementation process and not all these other
less insignificant issues.'

A source told us it was only a matter of time before the three independent
commissions were appointed. Both Justice Simpson Mutambanengwe and Professor
Reg Austin have agreed to chair the electoral and human rights commissions.

'So Tsvangirai and Mutambara have told Mugabe to move with speed and appoint
them so they can start the necessary reforms,' our source said.

The independent commissions, including the media commission, are part of the
reforms proposed under the GPA signed in 2008, which paved the way for the
formation of a coalition government in February last year. However, a number
of issues remain where no agreement has been reached.

The three parties held talks on Tuesday and Wednesday this week but as usual
there were no indications that any progress was made. The talks have been
adjourned to next week to allow Finance minister Tendai Biti to travel to
Washington for an International Monetary Fund meeting.

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Letter to the Law Society of Zimbabwe from Ben Freeth of Mount Carmel Farm, Chegutu

The Secretary
Law Society of Zimbabwe
Lintas House

Delivered 18 February 2010

Dear Sir

Re: Mr. Mlotshwa's request for a public statement by the Law Society:

Mr. Mlotshwa wrote to yourselves on the 1 February alleging that I was in
contempt of Justice Patel's judgment and asking you to: "issue a public
statement condemning the unwarranted attack on the Independence of the
Judiciary and in particular on the integrity of the Honourable Mr. Justice

Mr. Mlotshwa credits the law society for having "always issued statements
based on matters of principle, in particular the preservation of the rule of
law as well as the independence and integrity of the profession."

Mr. Mlotshwa has taken particular offence to the final paragraph in the SADC
Tribunal Rights Watch statement that says "the Judge, in his attempt to
legalise a program of ethnic cleansing has joined the ranks of other judges
under dictatorial regimes such as NAZI Germany or Stalinist Soviet Union and
left Zimbabweans more exposed than ever to further abuse by the Zimbabwean

From this statement Mr. Mlotshwa fallaciously believes that I have
"effectively labelled Justice Patel a "NAZI judge."  I did not say that. I
have said that he is a judge serving under a dictatorial regime (having left
its Cabinet as the President's acting Law Officer to rejoin the Bench); that
he has sought to legalise what the Tribunal held (just like ethnic
cleansing) to be in conflict with international law; and that the effect of
his ruling is to leave Zimbabweans yet more exposed to the human rights
abuses clearly found by the Tribunal. No part of that is untrue.

Mr. Mlotshwa is clearly not a friend of justice in the SADC Tribunal.  On
one occasion, in the presence of other legal practitioners for the
Applicants, he most unprofessionally stormed out of chambers of the Judges
in the SADC Tribunal building when things weren't going his way (they had
just ruled against him); and having himself taken over Rydings school in the
name of "land reform," he is not keen that the SADC Tribunal Judgment should
be upheld.  He has been the subject of complaints to the law society in the
past himself.

It is my belief it is important that the Law Society indeed does make a
statement concerning the Patel judgment.  The issues at stake in Justice
Patel's judgment regarding the registration of the SADC Tribunal judgment
relate to:

1.  Whether the rule of law should be allowed to be revived in Zimbabwe
after amendment 17 denied the right even for a hearing in any court
regarding the acquisition of somebody's property.
2.  Whether racial and other discrimination issues should be allowed to
persist in the land reform program.

3.  Whether the Zimbabwe Government should pay compensation to those that
have had their homes and businesses taken from them.

Justice Patel says that the land reform program is "public policy" and
justifies his non-registration of the SADC tribunal judgment on the premise
that he has to support "public policy" because public policy is for the
"public good."

It is important that it is pointed out here that there were various
anomalies relating to the hearing:

1. Advocates Gauntlett SC and Pelser were inexplicably denied registration
to argue the case both by the Minister of Justice and then by Justice Patel.
As far as I know there is no precedent for this in the history of Zimbabwe.
Not only had Mr Gauntlett  - a former chairman of the SA Bar and a Judge of
Appeal in another SADC country - frequently been admitted by Judge Patel's
colleagues before, but on the very same day  - 18 November 2009 -as the
Minister refused his assent to Mr Gauntlett on the grounds that South Africa
is not a "reciprocating country" with Zimbabwe, he granted it  (Judge Patel
was told) to another South African senior counsel (not of course appearing
against the Government).  Judge Patel did not so much as address this in his
ruling. For what reason would two upstanding and highly qualified African
advocates be denied access to argue a simple case of registering an
International Judgment? The denial of access by Zimbabweans to external
legal assistance - a long tradition before and after Stella Madzimbamuto's
challenge to the Smith regime - is a serious matter; I ask the Law Society
to investigate it urgently.

2.The argument that Justice Patel uses to block the registration regarding
the SADC Tribunal Judgment running counter to "public policy" and the
"public good" was never advanced in the court hearing by the Zimbabwe
government representatives or anyone else.  If it had been, the effects
regarding the suffering that the chaotic land reform program had produced in
displacing perhaps a million people, bringing the country into a desperate
food-insecure position, the horrific unemployment, the downstream collapse
of the economy and the social infrastructure relating to health and
education and all the other effects, would have been brought out to show
that it has not in fact been for the "public good."  How indeed, can
fundamental rule of law ousters; blatant discrimination; and the taking of
private property without any compensation, be something that a judge can
support on the facile argument that it is simply "public policy" to do these

If the law society is to help protect human rights and safeguard "the
preservation of the rule of law" in Zimbabwe I believe it is incumbent on it
to express its serious concern about the Patel Judgment refusing the
registration of the SADC Tribunal awards, vigorously and widely.

3. Mr Mlotshwa is astute not to disclose to the Law Society his own
interest. It is pertinent to point out here that Mr. Mlotshwa is well aware
of the flagrant human rights abuses and rule of law break down on the
commercial farms in Zimbabwe.

One of his clients, Minister Nathan Shamuyarira, took over our farm, Mount
Carmel, against Zimbabwe High Court orders and the SADC Tribunal orders.  In
the last year his thugs have beaten our workers very severely, some
sustaining broken bones, and they have been stopped from working since April
2009.  We have been evicted by his men with guns; our houses with all our
possessions have been burnt down along with some of our workers houses with
all their possessions; our tractors and other farm equipment has all been
stolen; all our crops have been stolen before our eyes to the extent that we
could not reap one cob of maize or one mango or orange or sunflower head;
the hay bales were burnt; the 40,000 fruit trees on the farm have not been
irrigated, sprayed, pruned or fertilised.

A visit to the farm today will show this once very productive farm to be in
dereliction with no crops having been planted.

Not one of the perpetrators of these crimes has been arrested by police
despite numerous reports to them.  Indeed it is common knowledge that
Gilbert Moyo and the other perpetrators of our abduction, severe beating and
attempted murder in 2008 that Mr. Mlotshwa refers too, are now walking free.
They have never been brought to trial.

The law society will know that this kind of breakdown in the rule of law
remains widespread in Zimbabwe.  High Court orders are not being upheld by
the police in situation after situation on the commercial farms and tens of
thousands of people in the farmer and farm worker community have lost their
livelihoods and in many cases their homes and other possessions in recent

If we care about our people and our country, we have a clear public duty to
help prevent the people within the judicial system from sliding into the
totalitarian logic that appears to be prevalent within Zimbabwe and which is
the same kind of logic that drove Andrey Vyshinsky, Stalin's show trial
prosecutor general, to write in his textbook, Judicial Organisation in the
USSR in 1939:

"The laws of the Soviet power are a political directive and the work of the
Judge amounts not just to the application of the law in conformity with the
needs of bourgeois judicial logic, but to the application of the law as a
political expression of the Party and the Government..the judge must be a
political worker, rapidly and precisely applying the directives of the Party
and the Government."

The strong voice of the Law Society in defence of human rights and the rule
of law in Zimbabwe is greatly needed.  If Zimbabwe's police force is going
to allow this kind of rule of law break down we need defenders of the rule
of law to come out powerfully against this very destructive "public policy"
that Justice Patel appears to support.

Lastly, I would suggest that the Law Society would be concerned to upheld
freedom of a speech as a constitutionally-protected right, and that it would
hold (on what I understand is strong legal precedent) that this specifically
includes the right to criticise judgments. If Judge Patel believes I have
violated his rights, he has civil and criminal law remedies. Mr Mlotshwa has
no entitlement (unless this interest, too, is not disclosed) to speak for

Yours sincerely

Ben Freeth.


Southern African Development Community Lawyers' Association
West African Bar Association.
Pan African Lawyers' Union
Coalition for an Effective African Court on People's and Human Rights
International Commission of Jurists.
Amnesty International
Human Rights Forum
Gerald Mlotshwa

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Zimbabwe displays 'Ark of Covenant replica'
Thursday, 18 February 2010
The "ngoma lungundu" wooden vessel
The wood object is thought to be oldest ever found in sub-Saharan Africa

A wooden object claimed to be a replica of the Biblical Ark of the Covenant has gone on display at a Zimbabwe museum.

The "ngoma lungundu" belongs to the Lemba people - black Africans who claim Jewish ancestry.

They say the vessel was built almost 700 years ago from the remains of the original Ark, which the Bible says was used to store Moses' 10 Commandments.

For decades the ancient vessel was thought to be lost, until it was found in a storeroom in Harare recently.

Tudor Parfitt, who rediscovered the artefact three years ago, told the BBC he believed it was the oldest wooden object ever found in sub-Saharan Africa.

"On each corner there is the remnants of a wooden ring, and obviously at one point, it was carried by inserting poles through these two rings on either side," he said.

"Of course in the biblical account, that's precisely how the Ark of the Covenant was carried across the wilderness."

The BBC's Steve Vickers in Harare says the vessel was unveiled to great fanfare at the city's Museum of Human Science.

Lemba leaders from across Zimbabwe attended the ceremony, along with government ministers.

Colonial officials originally put the vessel on display at a museum in Bulawayo.

It was last photographed in 1949, but during the war of independence it was hurriedly taken to Harare with other artefacts for their protection.

It was forgotten about in the move and the Lemba people thought their sacred relic had been lost.

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Bring on the polls

The government of national unity looks terminally disunited

Feb 18th 2010 | JOHANNESBURG | From The Economist print edition

AFTER the relative optimism of last year, the situation in Zimbabwe is
deteriorating badly. South African-mediated talks between ZANU-PF, the party
of President Robert Mugabe, and the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC),
led by the prime minister, Morgan Tsvangirai, which are aimed at shoring up
their shaky power-sharing pact, have broken down, maybe irretrievably. This
leaves the one-year-old "government of national unity" as good as dead.
Schools, hospitals, courts and other state services have been brought to a
halt by striking civil servants. Meanwhile, all new investment projects have
been put on hold following the promulgation of "indigenisation" rules
obliging companies worth more than $500,000 to cede a 51% stake to black
Zimbabweans-or face up to five years in jail.

Harare, the capital, is abuzz with talk of a snap general election, possibly
as early as April. Jacob Zuma, South Africa's president, is understood to
have convinced Mr Tsvangirai to abandon all his demands in his negotiations
with Mr Mugabe save those essential for ensuring a fair democratic poll.
With ZANU-PF blocking every MDC attempt at reform, Mr Zuma appears to agree
that the unity government has become a sham. He is determined that no
trouble on South Africa's northern border should upset his country's hosting
of the football World Cup in June and July.

Some argue that the unity government has made a bit of progress over the
past year. They point to the huge improvement in the economic situation,
with a 4.7% expansion of GDP last year, the first growth in a decade, as
well as the reopening of schools and hospitals. Although all this is true,
it has more to do with the replacement of Zimbabwe's worthless currency by
the dollar, which happened before the unity government was set up, than
anything the government itself has done.

Apart from the economy, the situation on the ground has barely changed at
all, with Mr Mugabe holding on to the reins of real power. White-owned farms
continue to be invaded. Human-rights and MDC activists are still being
beaten up and arrested. MDC provincial governors have still not been allowed
to take up their posts. Mr Mugabe continues to control the security forces.
The affable Mr Tsvangirai has borne all the sleights and humiliations with
astonishing calm. But even he appears to have run out of patience. The only
way forward, he now says, is to agree on a "road map" to a fresh election.

If genuinely free, the MDC would be sure to win this hands down. Polls
suggest that support for ZANU-PF, in power for the past 30 years, has shrunk
to less than 20%. But there are fears that, without the planned new
democratic constitution or independent electoral commission in place, there
would be a return to the violence that marked the latest elections-unless
the Southern African Development Community, a fairly spineless 15-member
regional group, is prepared to take tough measures. Those should include,
some argue, sending in troops if necessary.

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Zimbabwe a plum posting for envoys

Ambassadors enjoy Zimbabwe's climate while working to promote democracy.

By Zimbabwe Correspondent (author cannot be identified because of Zimbabwe's
press restrictions)
Published: February 18, 2010 06:59 ET

HARARE, Zimbabwe - As Zimbabwe's capital, Harare, sinks into an abyss of
infrastructural decay and collapsing services, the countries that maintain a
diplomatic presence here regard it as a plum posting. Not quite as choice as
Canberra or Pretoria perhaps, but certainly not Abuja or Kinshasa.

On any night of the week American, British, German, Dutch, and Scandinavian
diplomats continue to entertain generously while grappling with the
seemingly intractable problems generated by an errant regime.

Harare today is a pale shadow of its former self. Once served by well-paved
roads and well-lit avenues, those same streets are today pot-holed and
dangerously dark. But in the leafy northern suburbs of the capital can be
heard the hum of generators lighting the homes of Zimbabwe's still sizable
diplomatic community.

The well-heeled owners of Land Rovers, Mercedes, Volvos, and Jaguars can be
identified by their diplomatic number plates negotiating the highways and
byways of this city of 2.5 million.
Far from being a hardship posting, diplomats line up to serve in Zimbabwe as
it braves the iron grip of its 86-year-old dictator, President Robert
Mugabe. The politics may be problematic, but Harare's location - in the
tropics yet 5,000 feet above sea level - gives Zimbabwe's capital an almost
perfect sunny, sub-tropical climate. Add to that good food and friendly

"We love it here," one ambassador confided this week. But then the
inevitable rider: "Without Mugabe blocking the road to reform it would be a
perfect posting."

The embassies are oases of comfort and ease, whose inner workings only a
handful of local journalists and non-governmental-organization workers see.
Well-watered lawns, commanding views, tennis courts and swimming pools lie
within the fenced estates.
Britain's ambassador occupies arguably the most impressive residence in
Harare, set in spacious landscaped grounds, a position that befits the
former colonial power.

Before independence in 1980 the British High Commissioner, the United
Kingdom's senior diplomat, occupied a different residence, "Marimba," a
graceful home set in several acres of rose gardens. It was put into
mothballs in 1965 when Britain withdrew its representation following the
rebel Rhodesian colony's Unilateral Declaration of Independence.

But the building, now with an expansive, elegant portico, was spruced up and
sold to the Canadians in 1980 and is today the second most impressive
diplomatic residence in the capital. The rose garden is still there.

The French and South African envoys also have imposing homes.

By contrast, the U.S. ambassador has to make do with a relatively small
residence. Perched high on a hill, it boasts a panoramic view. But it does
not have the grounds to accommodate large numbers of guests. A recent
incumbent found entertaining there on the Fourth of July so difficult that
he converted his car park at the bottom of the hill into an impressive
reception area.

The Americans put on an impressive display of marching marines on their
national day while a robust speech on the virtues of democratic governance
can always be expected from the ambassador.

Britain's Queen's Birthday is the social event of the year in June during
which medieval-style tents set out on sloping lawns house vast amounts of
smoked salmon, stilton cheese and Scotch whisky flown in for the occasion.
Strawberries and cream and tea and cake are served.
The Norwegians, Swedes and Dutch provide equally impressive spreads on their
national days although not everyone is captivated by the prospect of

The French are known for their elegant array of cheeses and chilled
champagne. Last year, the cheeses were nowhere to be found, much to the
consternation of pampered guests who have become used to special treats on
certain occasions.

The cosmopolitan audience on Bastille Day (July 14) always like the bit in
France's national anthem, the Marseillaise, that goes "Contre nous le
tyrannie" (Down with the tyrant). It's meaning is not lost on those present
including the Zimbabwe government representative who can't quite understand
why voices are raised at that point.

Mugabe's ministers, who once boycotted E.U and U.S. events, are gradually
returning now that there is a government of national unity that includes
Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change.

But Mugabe's hardliners are still casting a long shadow. The Ministry of
Foreign Affairs has said it wants to vet "political" speeches by ambassadors
so ministers can respond. Most embassies ignore this requirement arguing
they can say what they like on their own sovereign turf.

Others neatly get around the injunction. The outgoing Spanish ambassador a
few years ago spoke at length about a country he knew well, isolated in the
region of which it was a part. Presided over by an arthritic despot, it was
locked in an unproductive time-warp as the rest of the region's economies
surged ahead.

"I speak of course of Spain," the ambassador said to applause from a knowing
audience that drew the implicit parallels with Zimbabwe. "Now under a
democratic order, Spain is part of Europe's success story," he concluded.

Cryptic messages of this sort were once common, but with the one-year-old
unity government, ambassadors feel free to speak their minds. Many of the
countries represented here are working hard to reverse the slide that has
reduced Zimbabwe, under its "arthritic despot," to penury but whose politics
ensure a lively interest by well-wishers across the world.

The most recent arrival has been U.S. ambassador Charles Ray. He has this
month been entertaining a delegation of congressional representatives who
are exploring ways they can remove some of the sanctions introduced after
flawed elections eight years ago.

If there is progress on political and economic reform, the way will be open
to improved relations with the U.S. That might mean further expansion of the
car park/reception area for the July 4th festivities. And more diplomats, of

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