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In 86th birthday broadcast, Mugabe defends business take overs

ANGUS SHAW Associated Press Writer

4:49 p.m. EST, February 20, 2010

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) - President Robert Mugabe defended a law requiring
Zimbabwean businesses to be controlled by blacks, underlining differences
with his governing partners in an interview Saturday.

Mugabe's governing partner, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for
Democratic Change, has said the law is unworkable and will discourage
much-needed investment. The law was passed by parliament when it was still
dominated by Mugabe's lawmakers in 2008 is set to go into effect March 1.

Ideological differences and what Tsvangirai's party and rights watchdogs
call Mugabe's unwillingness to share real power have bedeviled the coalition
that took office last February.

"We differ ideologically, but we say let the people of the country own what
is rightfully theirs," Mugabe said on national television Saturday in a
90-minute interview marking his 86th birthday, which is Sunday.

South Africa and other neighbors pressed Zimbabwe's leaders to form the
coalition and work together to resolve the country's political and economic
crises after a series of inconclusive elections marred by violence that was
blamed on Mugabe's supporters. In a review of the first year, Human Rights
Watch said Mugabe's ZANU-PF party was still attacking and intimidating
opponents and journalists and using state-owned media to manipulate public
opinion. Human Rights Watch called power-sharing in Zimbabwe a "sham."

Mugabe links his country's economic meltdown on Western travel and financial
restrictions on his loyalists and companies linked to his party. Others
blame the often violent seizures of thousands of white-owned farms that
Mugabe ordered beginning in 2000 and which have disrupted the
agriculture-based economy.

In Saturday's interview, Mugabe demanded that the Movement for Democratic
Change campaign among its Western backers for sanctions to be lifted.

Earlier this month, the European Union said its targeted sanctions would
remain in place another year because of lack of progress by the unity

Friday, the International Monetary Fund restored Zimbabwe's voting rights
after a seven-year suspension over failure to pay $1.3 billion it owes the
organization and other creditors. The move was in response to a request by
Finance Minister Tendai Biti, who is a member of Tsvangirai's party, and
allows Zimbabwe to receive advice from the fund in special areas such as
stabilizing the banking system, taxation policies and budgeting.

"The West always comes where they are not wanted. Because they are white
they think they are entitled to interfere in our system. We must rebuff
them," Mugabe said.

Mugabe, known as an ascetic teetotaler, said he would celebrate his birthday
Sunday with a glass of water.

"Drinking alcohol is ruinous and I am glad not so many of our people take to
alcohol," he said.

A private gathering is planned Sunday with a lavish birthday gala in the
second city of Bulawayo the following weekend, state media reported.

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ZMC gazetting ‘welcome relief’ but fears abound

Saturday, 20 February 2010 21:46

SOME light filtered into the country’s battered media landscape on Friday
with the gazetting of the new Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC), but players
in the media industry are not celebrating yet. The Minister of Media,
Information and Publicity, Webster Shamu on Friday announced that the ZMC
members had been appointed with effect from February 11, in accordance with
section 100N of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.

As announced by the chief secretary to the President and Cabinet on December
21 last year, the gazette names Danhiko project deputy director Godfrey
Majonga as the ZMC chairperson, deputised by National University of Science
and Technology (Nust) lecturer and former Daily News editor Nqobile Nyathi.

The committee members are Chris Mhike, a journalist and lawyer, former
Zimbabwean ambassador to China, Chris Mutsvangwa, freelance journalist
Miriam Madziwa, former Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings chief executive Henry
Muradzikwa, former Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ) president Mathew
Takaona, Reserve Bank division head Millicent Mombeshora, and Nust lecturer
Lawton Hikwa.

The gazette has raised expectations that the commission will immediately get
to work and register new and old media houses.

While eager to see how this joint political project will work,
representatives of journalists and publishers said the ZMC faces a mammoth
task reforming the media industry. There are still many questions over the
organisation’s commitment to instituting reforms.

ZimInd Chief Executive Raphael Khumalo said the gazette was a “welcome
relief”, but expressed concern over the delayed gazetting of the commission,
named on December 21 last year.

“Our immediate expectation is that the commissioners should start working.
In fact, they should have already started working, since the gazette states
that their appointment is with effect from February 11,” Khumalo said.

“There is no need for them to wait for anything, they should just go ahead
and put in place the necessary administrative structures. We expect them to
start inviting applications soon.”

The gazette effectively paves the way for the ZimInd’s long-awaited new
daily paper, NewsDay to be licensed.

The paper was initially scheduled to hit the streets in November last year,
but had to wait much longer following delays in constituting the ZMC.

The initial application for the paper to start publishing could not be
processed, with Majonga indicating they were still awaiting the setting up
of administrative structures to handle the applications.

Secretary-General of the Zimbabwe Journalists for Human Rights (ZJHR),
Dumisani Muleya said the gazetting of the names of ZMC members was “a
significant step forward”.

“Hopefully they will soon start taking and doing their work seriously,”
Muleya said.

“Their immediate task is to license newspapers that want to come into the
market, license those that were closed and create an enabling environment
for the media in general to thrive.

“It is however still worrying that this commission is a partisan political
creation. It is staffed with political appointees who have narrow political
mandates to defend the interests of their parties rather than the public

The Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa) Zimbabwe chapter director,
Nhlanhla Ngwenya welcomed the gazetting as “the first step towards
comprehensive media reforms”.

“We hope the government will complement this development with the repeal of
such laws as the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act
(Aippa), the Broadcasting Services Act (BSA), and other obnoxious provisions
in other Acts which hinder media freedom,” Ngwenya said.

The Deputy Information Minister Jameson Timba allayed the fears of media
players, saying the commissioners “should now hit the ground running and
start discharging their duties”.

“They don’t need to be sworn in, the gazetting is enough,” Timba said.

During the era of the Tafataona Mahoso-led Media and Information Commission,
several publications were closed.

These include The Daily News and The Daily News on Sunday, The Tribune and
The Weekly Times.


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Mugabe ignores PM’s directive

Saturday, 20 February 2010 21:19

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF ministers have ignored Prime Minister
Morgan Tsvangirai’s directive that the controversial empowerment law passed
recently be withdrawn.

The tussle over the new law has emerged as a new source of discord in the
inclusive government whose work is continuously impeded by countless
disputes. Mugabe maintains in an interview marking his 86th to be screened
by ZTV tonight that the law is “irreversible”.

Savior Kasukuwere, the Minister of Youth Development, Indigenisation, and
Empowerment, yesterday maintained there was “no going back” on the
regulations despite Tsvangirai’s concerns.

Kasukuwere’s defiant stance came days after one of the biggest investors in
Zimbabwe’s mining sector, Impala Platinum announced that it was withholding
investment worth over US$500 million until there was clarity on the country’s
investment laws.

“Certainly there is no withdrawal of the regulations. The objective is clear
and we will work on the mechanics,” Kasukuwere said.

He said there could only be amendments to the regulations that seek to force
foreign owned firms to cede their majority shareholding to locals within the
next five years.

“We will be talking to colleagues to improve where there are concerns. The
regulations are in place and we will continue working on improving the
environment,” Kasukuwere said.

“I will take on board concerns of Economic Planning and Investment Promotion
Minister (Elton) Mangoma because he administers the Investment Act.”

However, sources maintained yesterday that the Council of Ministers chaired
by Tsvangirai last week resolved that the indigenisation regulations should
be suspended pending further consultations.

Gorden Moyo, the Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office, said as
far as he was concerned government agreed the regulations should be

Moyo said Tsvangirai cannot be stopped by anyone from commenting on
government policy because he was in charge of its formulation.

On Wednesday, Tsvangirai’s newsletter announced that government had the
previous day, agreed to shelve the regulations.

Acting Prime PM Thokozani Khupe on Wednesday told stakeholders at a tourism
investment summit that Kasukuwere and Mangoma were returning to the drawing

“True empowerment can only come about through formulation of a shared vision
among all sectors of our society and our economy,” she said.

Mangoma yesterday referred questions on the new law to Khupe who could not
be reached on her mobile phone.

Since the regulations were gazetted three weeks ago investors have become
jittery and some are reconsidering their future in Zimbabwe.

The unity government has also failed to speak with one voice with Zanu PF
and MDC in one corner and MDC-T fighting a lone voice against the

Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara told SW Radio that people must
disregard Tsvangirai’s position on the regulations.

He said cabinet had agreed that Kasukuwere was the only one who would speak
on behalf of government on the matter.


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Lavish birthday bash planned for Mugabe

Saturday, 20 February 2010 19:15

BULAWAYO - Zanu PF is planning lavish birthday celebrations for President
Robert Mugabe despite revelations last week that over two million
Zimbabweans need urgent food aid. Mugabe, the country's only ruler since
Independence in 1980, turns 86 today.

This year's ritzy celebrations kicking off on Friday night at the Zimbabwe
International Trade Fair include a music gala and will gobble up an
estimated US$500 000, double the amount spent on his 85th birthday fete held
in Chinhoyi.

Isaac Dakamela, the Zanu PF provincial chairman, was on Friday unfazed by
charges that the two-day party would be "obscene", especially in a region
where mass starvation is setting in.

"We expect about 15 000 people to come to Bulawayo for what we believe is a
unique event," Dakamela said.

"We are celebrating the birthday of the country's president and one of the
founding fathers of this nation.

"We have invited everyone, even the MDC-T itself, putting into consideration
that this is a function where we celebrate the birth of a state president."

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai who recently conducted a food security
assessment in Matabeleland and the Midlands described the situation as

In Matabeleland South alone, 700 000 people need urgent food aid and
government is battling to mobilise enough resources to import maize.

Nelson Chamisa, the MDC-T spokesperson, said despite the fact that they were
in a unity government with Zanu PF; the party would not be part of the
lavish celebrations.

"Instead of feasting, we should be showing compassion for our people who are
faced with hunger," Chamisa said.

"They have been forced into fasting by circumstances. They are suffering and
entrenched in poverty.

"For us as the MDC, to be seen joining in the feasting, wining, and dining
while people across the river are fighting to retain their breath will be
quite unfortunate."

Zapu spokesperson Methuseli Moyo weighed in saying the celebrations were
ill-timed considering that government had failed to end the three-week old
strike by civil servants and the worsening food situation.

"There is hunger in the region and for people and a political party to
celebrate in such a situation is tantamount to gloating over the
impoverishment of other people," Moyo said.

Edwin Ndlovu of the Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara-led MDC said it
would have made more sense if the funds were donated to the needy.

Although people end up scrambling for food at such functions, last year the
organisers had budgeted for "2 000 bottles of champagne (Mot & Chandon or
'61 Bollinger preferred); 8 000 lobsters; 100kg of prawns; 4 000 portions of
caviar; 8 000 boxes of Ferrero Rocher chocolates and 3 000 ducks," among
other luxuries.

Last year Mugabe celebrated with an 85 kg birthday cake at the height of a
devastating cholera outbreak.


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Borrowdale residents query Chinese construction project

Saturday, 20 February 2010 19:13

A Chinese construction project in Borrowdale has riled residents in the area
who fear that it may cause a decline in the value of properties in the plush
suburb. An unusually large number of haulage trucks from Mozambique, all of
them heavily loaded reportedly disturb the serenity of this leafy suburb as
they arrive at the site as early as 6.30am and stay until as late as 11pm
every day.

Add to this, a high-density compound housing 30 builders, 15 Chinese
nationals and truck drivers who all speak in high-pitched voices as they
offload the trucks throughout the day.

A newly constructed strong perimeter wall has not convinced the neighbours
of Number 89 Kingsmead that the high-density compound could be temporary
housing for the builders who say they are only building offices for Segecoa
Zimbabwe (Pvt) Co, a Chinese consortium with a number of construction
projects across the country.

The Harare City Council has since said that the alterations at the site are

But two plainclothes officers from Borrowdale Police Station guard the
premises throughout the day giving some credence to the builders' claim that
permission to build on the site came from "higher ranking offices".

In January, 35 neighbours signed a petition to "object strongly to this
development, which is totally out of keeping with the character of the area,
which is comprised of high quality residential stands".

"The introduction of high-density housing will have a prejudicial effect on
the value of the surrounding houses," reads part of the petition.

Following the petition, Harare's director of urban planning, Psychology
Chiwanga, on January 18 wrote to Ivertte Miao advising her to stop
construction and apply for permission.

Council is yet to receive a Special Consent Application and building plans
from the project owners although Chiwanga's order expired 10 days ago.

Peter Mudavanhu, the councillor for the area said following the project
owners' decision to ignore the Stop Order, council may have to move in and
demolish the illegal structures.

But sources within council said these may as well be empty threats as Harare
lacks capacity in terms of equipment, a situation which has seen it fail to
demolish other illegal structures in the past.

"Politics is also at play given government's Look East policy which has seen
Zanu PF protecting Chinese interests in the country," the sources said.

Speaking through Ian Muchichwa, a foreman at the site, a Chinese national,
only identified as Tu, said the company had complied with the council order
and was expecting letters regularising the project by tomorrow (Monday) at
the latest.

He said building materials which continued to be delivered on the site were
meant for another construction project at Gwebi College.

Following council's order and neighbours' complaints, he added, some
employees were transferred to Gwebi College, and evening deliveries had
since been halted to minimise the noise.

Yesterday, residents from the area were scheduled to meet with council
officials to discuss the developments.


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Residents want POSA repealed

Saturday, 20 February 2010 19:12

GWERU - The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Defence and Home Affairs
last week heard that government must repeal the notorious Public Order and
Security Act instead of amending it. The committee was conducting
country-wide consultations on the draconian law that severely curtails
freedom of expression and association.

MDC-T chief whip Innocent Gonese has already brought to parliament a private
members' Bill that might see the introduction of amendments aimed at
preventing police from abusing the law.

In Gweru, the more than 100 residents who attended the hearings said Posa
was a colonial relic that must be done away with.

Paul Madzore, the committee chairperson, had a tough time restricting debate
to the 10 proposed amendments Gonese's Bill seeks to introduce.

"Listen MPs, go and tell your colleagues that the people of Gweru have said
they do not want any Posa," said one of the participants.

"You should ensure that Posa is repealed in its entirety, (you must) not
amend it."

The residents accused the MPs of misleading them into thinking that the
public hearings were about drafting a new law to replace Posa, which was
enacted in 2002.

"They should have told us in the adverts that they were coming to discuss
the amendments only," said Frank Matutu after the meeting.

"We came here thinking it was our opportunity to tell the legislators our
position on the law.

"I was so disappointed to learn that we are being asked to reinforce
amendments to a law that we totally do not want in an independent Zimbabwe."

Those who supported the amendments said there was a need for police to be
trained on issues of human rights and for some of the powers vested in the
police, especially when it came to regulating public gatherings, to be left
to the judiciary.

Posa replaced the equally repressive Law and Order (Maintenance) Act that
was introduced by the colonial regime in order to suppress African

There was also an overwhelming response to hearings in Bulawayo where
residents filled up the Large City Hall.


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Commission probes Chitungwiza graft

Saturday, 20 February 2010 19:09

THE Anti-Corruption Commission is investigating the Chitungwiza Town Council
for alleged illegal allocation of commercial and residential stands to
friends and relatives by council officials. Sources last week said
investigations by the corruption watchdog began late last year after reports
of massive corruption in the MDC-T-dominated local authority.

They alleged that stands were dished out to relatives and friends of council
officials, in some cases without paying for the properties.

Council officials also grabbed land for themselves in prime areas of the
town, said the sources.

"It was a free-for-all for those in the council and their relatives and
friends," said one senior council official.

"Some officials own more than 10 stands each."

The sources said the commission was more concerned about 26 commercial
stands that were allocated at the town centre.

Out of those stands, only six were sold through proper channels while the
rest were grabbed by senior government and council officials "for a song".

An ACCZ official on Thursday confirmed the investigation but referred The
Standard to commission chairman Eric Harid for an official comment.

Efforts to reach Harid on his mobile phone were fruitless as it went
unanswered but Chitungwiza town clerk, Godfrey Tanyanyiwa confirmed that the
commission was investigating the local authority.

He said the probe was confined to the 26 stands.

"Yes, the Anti-Corruption Commission is investigating how stands at the town
centre were allocated," Tanyanyiwa said.

"They took all the files pertaining to that particular issue sometime last

A recent report by the MDC-T alleged massive corruption involving both its
councillors and Zanu PF officials.

The MDC-T, which has declared zero tolerance on corruption, has already
dismissed 23 of its councillors over allegations of corruption in

The report also links Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo to some of
the deals in the troubled town and called for the intervention of cabinet.

But Chombo last week dismissed the report and maintained that his hands were

Tanyanyiwa, who denied being corrupt or biased towards Zanu PF, said all
stands were allocated to deserving people with council approval.

"As far as I know all stands in this town were allocated to deserving people
with council approval," he said.

Tanyanyiwa said MDC-T accused him of being partisan because he "works well"
with Chombo, who is a senior Zanu PF member and the minister for local


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Mugabe avoids ‘Ark’ Professor

Saturday, 20 February 2010 18:31

A British Professor who claims a 700-year-old wooden object found in a
rat-infested museum in Harare is a replica of the lost Ark of the Covenant
is set to leave Harare disappointed after failing to secure a meeting with
President Robert Mugabe. Professor Tudor Parfitt says the drum-like
instrument, revered by the Remba people, is a replica of a missing biblical
container of the 10 commandments given to Moses on Mt Sinai.

President Mugabe, however, did not attend a ceremony in Harare where the
Ngoma Lungundu was unveiled. Vice-President John Nkomo attended the
symposium where Parfitt was given an opportunity to explain the link between
the Ngoma Lungundu and the biblical ark.

Mugabe has in the past seized on such opportunities to remind the world that
Zimbabwe has a rich cultural heritage and resources. However his absence did
not raise any eyebrows especially among those who have been following
Parfitt’s work.

The professor at the University of London’s prestigious School of Oriental
and African Studies may have raised Mugabe’s ire after accusing him of
looting the Ngoma Lungundu from the Museum of Human Sciences two years ago.

Explaining to The Standard circumstances that led him to link Mugabe to the
looting of the object, Parfitt said several people, including Jews, who
travelled to Zimbabwe hoping to see the object left disillusioned after
failing to see it.

He said the visitors were responding to the publicity he raised over his
discovery in the Western media.

Parfitt published a book, The Lost Ark of the Covenant: Solving the 2 500
Year Mystery of the Fabled Biblical Ark which was followed by television and
magazine interviews. Such publicity saw ark enthusiasts, who included Jews,
trekking to Zimbabwe to see for themselves the Ngoma Lungundu. But they were
told they could not see it for security reasons.

“They were only shown its picture on a computer,” Parfitt said.

When he made his own inquiries, Parfitt’s sources told him the vessel was no
longer in the museum but in the President’s personal treasure chest.

Parfitt said he later learnt that the Mugabes had not taken the object, but
for security reasons, it had been placed in a government vault. This was
after he had put the allegations in black and white.

“I am sorry for that. I asked the Vice-President (John Nkomo) to facilitate
a meeting with the President. I really wanted to say sorry.

“It would also have been good for me to meet him because he is a historian.”

Even though Parfitt failed to meet Mugabe, he is leaving Zimbabwe pleased
with the reception he got. He said a Vice-President and six ministers
attended the function where the Ngoma Lungundu was unveiled.

While officials marvelled at the drum carbon-dated to be 700 years old, in
bars, workplaces and kombis, people failed to appreciate Parfitt’s theory.

Many thought Parfitt’s discovery was yet another “cock and bull” story,
similar to claims made by a discredited self-styled spirit medium that
diesel was flowing in Maningwa Hills a few years ago.

Ordinary people wondered why the discovery, announced two years ago to the
West by Parfitt was only announced to the Zimbabwe public last week.

Did it mean that officials doubted his findings and only embraced his story
after realising that the Ark of the Covenant could be a draw card for
tourists, ahead of the World Cup, they wondered.

Historians Stan Mudenge and Aeneas Chigwedere were quick to urge Parfitt to
show the clear connection between the Remba people and the people of Israel.

Parfitt, however, maintains that the Remba people are a lost tribe of
Israel, though they are black.

He said genetic studies showed that the Jewish priests and the Remba priests
shared a common ancestor.

“There is historical, anthropological and genetical evidence that show that
the Lemba (Remba) people came from the Middle East. The problem is people
are obsessed with race. There is no such thing as white or black in
genetics, all people are 99.9% identical,” he said, challenging his critics
to write a book that proved his evidence was wrong.

In 1986 Parfitt, who had already started his remarkable journey to find the
lost ark stayed for six months in Mberengwa with a family of Remba people in
the Mposi area. He had an opportunity to meet many people who said they were
descendants of the Jews who came from Senna. Here he was also told stories
about the missing Ngoma Lungundu.

Unknown to many, the instrument had been found by a missionary in 1940 in a
cave in Limpopo and stored in a Bulawayo museum.

Parfitt says he ended up discovering Senna in Yemen. There he says he found
tribal names which were similar to those used by Remba people in Zimbabwe.

Asked to explain why the Remba people left Yemen, Parfitt said he could only

“It may have to do with persecution. It may also be that a mighty dam
cracked and it was not possible for irrigation to take place. They then went
to sea, ultimately ending up in Sofala, on the coast of East Africa.”

His explanation may not have been convincing, but the professor bid me
farewell with some words that may make sense for Zimbabweans hoping for a
better future.

“Now that the ark which carried the 10 commandments has been found, every
society should be reminded to observe the commandments. Thou shall not take
a neighbour’s wife, cattle, farm…,” he said.

Those doubting Parfitt’s work may need to look at the organisations that
have facilitated his research work; the British Council, the Culture Fund,
the University of Zimbabwe, National Museums and Monuments.

Rajiv Bendre, the Director of the British Council said his organisation
would not have risked its name and funds if Parfitt was not a solid

“His work is exciting. The Ngoma Lungundu was carbon-dated to 1300AD. This
is a fool- proof scientific method. We are talking of the oldest wooden
object found in Sub-Saharan African,” he said.

“The professor is not saying it’s the original that was used by Moses, but
could be the most recent of the arks that replaced the original. We are
fully behind this venture.”


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Living next door to son’s killers

Saturday, 20 February 2010 18:27

MARONDERA — “I will not talk to them until they bring back my son alive,”
the 46-year-old mother vowed, tears welling up in her eyes. Frail-looking
Faina Betera remembers vividly the night her son, Cainos, was abducted from
their home in Marondera by a group of what she describes as slogan-chanting
Zanu PF supporters.

In the rowdy group she positively identified two of her neighbours.

“It was on May 22, 2008, when two of my neighbours led a group of Zanu PF
supporters and abducted Cainos, beating him with logs as they dragged him
out of the house,” she recounted.

“I never saw him again but I hear they killed him and threw his body in
Wenimbi Dam.”

Several bodies of suspected slain MDC-T activists were retrieved from
Wenimbi Dam after the elections.

Cainos’ body was not among those retrieved but it is suspected that he was

What infuriates the Betera family most is that their son’s alleged murderers
are neighbours whom they see every day.

One of them lives less than five houses away along the same street while the
other one stays just across the road.

They pass by her home every day seeing the unrepaired windowpanes they broke
when they abducted Cainos, who was a known MDC-T activist.

One night in 2008, one of the suspects shouted that Cainos would never be
seen alive again as he passed by.

This prompted the grief-stricken mother to confront the suspect accusing him
of taking part in the disappearance of her son.

But the suspect became abusive and showed no remorse.

“He told me nothing would happen to him, even if he knows those who killed
Cainos,” she said.

“So since then I stopped talking to them because I realised that they enjoy
seeing me hurting.”

Cainos’s abduction was reported at Marondera Central Police Station and
names of the suspects were supplied. However, no one has been arrested or

Life has never been the same for the Betera family as Cainos was the sole

Three of his brothers are always in and out of school because the family
cannot afford to pay fees on time.

“We don’t even have enough to eat as a family. At times, we get donations
from well-wishers and party members,” Faina said.

“I will not forgive or forget!”

Despite her poor health she has taken up work with the municipality of
Marondera in a bid to raise money for the family.

“This work will soon kill me,” she complained. “I can’t even afford a doctor
although I am sick.”

Faina’s husband Kumu is unemployed and undertakes temporary jobs to
supplement the family income.

The intense enmity between the Betera family and the suspects’ families has
extended to their children.

Cainos’ 12-year-old brother said he will never forgive his neighbours
because what they did has caused much suffering to his family.

“We can’t pay fees now and even our TV is no longer working,” he said with

The television was smashed by the Zanu PF militia the day they abducted

Efforts to speak to the suspects were fruitless.

MDC-T secretary for welfare Kerry Kay said the party was aware of the Betera
family’s plight.

“The party is fully aware of their plight,” Kay said.

“We have limited resources as a party because the Betera family is one of
the several thousands of families that were affected by the political

Last year, the party availed food and seed packs to over 55 000 families
affected by political violence.

It says over 200 of its supporters were killed in the countdown to the June
2008 run-off poll while an estimated 500 000 others were displaced.

Police spokesperson Assistant Wayne Bvudzijena said they investigate all
cases without fear or favour.

“I don’t know about the details of that particular case but we, as the
police, investigate all cases whether it is a politically-motivated murder
or any other crime.”


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Senators lament ‘unclear’ role

Saturday, 20 February 2010 18:25

BULAWAYO — Senators last week admitted their roles were not clearly spelt
out and consequently were not adding real value to the Upper House
re-introduced five years ago. The senators who were attending a workshop on
the new constitution-making process organised by the Zimbabwe Institute said
they were duplicating the work of MPs.

“I believe re-introducing the senate where we all sit was a hurried act
without sufficient reason to inform that decision,” said Obert Gutu, the
Senator for Chisipite (MDC-T)

“Since 2005, we have been sitting in the Senate and the question is whether
we have been adding value to the whole system of parliament, which I
believe, we have not,” Gutu said.

He said senators needed to be educated on their roles adding that things at
the moment were “misty, ambiguous, and unclear”.

“There is need for the constitution-making process to clearly define what
our role is so that we can effectively exercise that role as enshrined in
the constitution,” Gutu said.

Senate comprises 93 members, 60 of whom are directly elected and the rest
are reserved for chiefs, provincial governors and political-party

But last week the senators felt that this has been a waste of resources.

James Makore, Senator for Chitungwiza (MDC-T), said: “This Senate should not
have been there in the first place.

“The people who brought it did not and have not demarcated the roles,
responsibilities and the powers of the Upper House.

“We are simply there to duplicate the work of the Lower House. Our powers
are not clearly laid out.

“In the face of many people, we are simply there to rubber-stamp what the
Lower House would have said,” Makore said.

Zanu PF dominates the Senate while in the House of Assembly the pendulum has
been swinging between MDC-T and President Robert Mugabe’s party following
the death of some MPs.

Zanu PF’s Oriah Kabayanjiri said the House was “toothless even governors and
ministers did not see value in attending hearings conducted by the Senate.”

However, Austin Zvoma, the Clerk of Parliament, maintained that the roles of
the different chambers in the House of Assembly were clearly defined.

He said Senate’s role was to scrutinise legislation passed by the Lower
House before it was sent to the President for his assent.


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Zapu says spurned leaders must return

Saturday, 20 February 2010 18:23

BULAWAYO - Zapu has seized on President Robert Mugabe's decision to overlook
regional leaders in the Zanu PF politburo saying it was time those remaining
in that party accepted they were not wanted. Only Obert Mpofu, the Mines
minister who deserted Zapu well before the Unity Accord with Zanu PF, was
appointed to head the Economic Affairs department of the Soviet-style

Vice President John Nkomo sits in the politburo by virtue of being the
second secretary with Joice Mujuru.
Other former Zapu leaders were given the less influential posts of deputy
portfolio heads.

These include Cain Mathema (deputy publicity department), Joshua Malinga
(deputy, disabled and disadvantaged persons), Eunice Sandi (deputy women's
affairs), Richard Ndlovu (deputy production and labour), Abednico Ncube
(deputy external relations) and Absolom Sikhosana (deputy youth).

"They should come back home (to Zapu) because, though they might lie to
themselves about the existence of the non-existent Unity Accord, they will
continue to be ignored because Zanu PF has never honoured any agreement
since the liberation war," said Retired Colonel Thomas Ngwenya, a former
Zipra commander.

"It might be difficult for them to come back though because of their
history; they are the same people who revolted against Zapu and were part of
the Zanu PF system that harassed Zapu members," Ngwenya, a former
influential Zanu PF member in Bulawayo, has rejoined Zapu.

Max Mnkandla, a Zipra war veteran said: "We have been calling them to leave
Zanu PF as they are not benefiting anything but they remained stuck there
yet it is clear that they continue to be neglected.

"They should leave that party and join other members in rebuilding Zapu.

"They are just wasting time in Zanu-PF."

Rugare Gumbo, the new Zanu PF spokesperson, could not be reached for comment
on the matter.

Zanu PF and PF Zapu signed a unity accord in 1987 following a state
crackdown in the southern region where PF Zapu commanded its main support.

In 2008, ex-Zapu members led by current interim chairman, Dumiso Dabengwa,
quit Zanu PF to revive Zapu.


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PM scoffs at ‘parallel govt’ accusation

Saturday, 20 February 2010 18:17

THE two-week strike by civil servants has sucked in Prime Minister Morgan
Tsvangirai with Zanu PF-aligned unions saying the job boycott was in
response to his unfulfilled promise that the government will pay decent
salaries. Last week, Tsvangirai (PM) spoke to The Standard’s Senior Reporter
Nkululeko Sibanda (NS) on these and other pressing issues during his tour of
Matabeleland. Below are excerpts from the interview.

NS: The government has said very little about the ongoing strike by civil
servants. Could this be an indication that there is no solution in sight to
the unrest?

PM: First and foremost, I would like to clarify positions that have been
peddled by some of the political opportunists who are accusing me of running
a parallel government and saying I am paying my staff $7 000.
I wish there could be that kind of money. First of all, I cannot run a
parallel government when I am in charge of all ministers.
Secondly, there is no way anybody can make any sort of decision on budget
and allocation of resources other than the cabinet.
And so for anyone to stand up and accuse individuals or parties in the
coalition government is emotional agitation that has no basis and shall not
solve the problem.
Government has already, through the responsible Ministry of Public Service,
offered to engage the civil service unions for what it considers an offer
under very difficult circumstances of resource constraints to see whether
those offers can be given.
So, as far as I am concerned and as far as government is concerned, we think
there is no dispute and deadlock that has been declared.
People are on strike against their own rules. Therefore, what is important
is that if everyone is considering the interests of their country first,
then the best thing is to go back to the negotiating table rather than to
have pre-emptive strikes without exhausting the channels that are laid down.
After all, government considers workers in the public service as its very
important resource.
So there is no way anyone in government is against their demands. The only
limitation is that there is no fiscal space to respond to those kinds of
But there again, you cannot negotiate in the media. You have to sit down and
consider very seriously what is in the best interest of the country and the
workers and you shall find an amicable solution to this current dispute.

NS: The government of national unity has celebrated its first anniversary.
What is your assessment of its performance so far?

PM: I think we must appreciate that the formation of the inclusive
government was an act of salvation. The country was faced with a crisis and
I think that what we have achieved is near extra-ordinary.
We can measure the performance of the inclusive government in terms of two
aspects, the aspect of economic stabilisation, with the arrest of
hyper-inflation and also the low tariff measure policy which was then
introduced to allow for goods to be made available in Zimbabwe rather than
to allow Zimbabweans to go to Botswana and South Africa to buy goods and
other things.
So on that score and I think the opening of schools and hospitals, was a
major one.
If you go to the democratic reforms that is necessary to create more space
for the freedom of the people, I think there the pace has been slow.
The constitution-making process is now back on line, national healing
programme is gathering momentum, the commissions and the commission that is
supposed to open media space and an independent electoral commission are yet
to be sworn in although they have been agreed to. I think there, we have
fallen short.
In terms of re-engagement with the international community so that we can
remove the isolation of the country, well, it has not been as fast as we
would have wished it to be. But I hope that the country can once again be
part of the family of nations.

NS: Do you see the GNU celebrating its second anniversary?

PM: Well, I’m saying that the GNU is an irreversible process. The process of
restoring the country’s image, the reconstruction agenda, and to begin again
the road to recovery.
We can’t slide back. No-one across the political divide would want this
country to slide back to what this country was in 2008.
So, I think we have taken a step forward towards taking this country through
its transition stage onto a growth path and I think that this is the most
important thing we have managed to do.

NS: The MDC-T wants a deadlock declared on the ongoing talks on the
outstanding issues from the Global Political Agreement (GPA) because of Zanu
PF’s refusal to compromise. What is the next step?

PM: Well, I think there is a misunderstanding of what the current round of
negotiations is all about. The current round of negotiations is not about
substance. They are about implementation.
And we have found an obstacle in the manner in which the other partner to
the government, which is Zanu PF, has tended to put the cart before the
horse. Putting pre-conditions after the agreement and at the implementation
stage is an act of bad faith.
However, what we have said is that perhaps the time has come for us to
finalise the negotiations so that we concentrate on delivery to the people
of Zimbabwe on food, economic recovery and all that. That is what people are
all interested about. We cannot continue to talk about outstanding issues.
They can’t keep pace with outstanding issues because they mean nothing to
They are concerned with how they can feed their families. We need to move to
implement what we have agreed on. And to try to draw pre-conditions at the
time of implementation is as if we are starting all over again.

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Broken hearts, HIV and compassion as Big House, Small house premiers

Saturday, 20 February 2010 17:31

A new film Big House, Small House that seeks to show how multiple concurrent
sexual relationships have fuelled the Aids pandemic in southern Africa
premiered in Harare recently. The film will soon be shown on the Zimbabwe
Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC), as part of the regional Aids prevention
campaign OneLove.

The OneLove Campaign is a five-year regional programme aimed at reducing the
incidence of HIV in the region by discouraging multiple concurrent
partnerships (MCPs).

Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Tanzania, Swaziland, Zambia, Zimbabwe
and South Africa are some of the countries involved in the project.

In Zimbabwe OneLove was launched in June last year.

Big House, Small House was produced by Action Institute for Environment,
Health and Development Communication (Action), Theory X, a production
company and the Soul City Institute for Health and Development Communication
of South Africa.

Directed by Rumbi Katedza, the film is about love and betrayal.

It is also about the challenges of bringing down HIV infection in a region
where society accepts extra marital affairs by men.

The film opens with a scene where Shingi (Sandra Chidavanyika) and Simba
(Jasen Mpepho) celebrate their 10th wedding anniversary with family and
friends in Budiriro.

In the middle of the celebrations, Simba rushes to the gate after witnessing

He finds his girlfriend of five years Tariro (Evangelista Mwatse) at the
centre of a fierce tussle.

Tariro tells Simba her parents are waiting for him to come and pay lobola
for her as promised.

After a heated argument Simba manages to convince her that he will see her
after the party.

One thing leads to the other and Shingi who is still childless finally
discovers her husband's affair with Tariro.

She also discovers that Simba and Tariro have a five-year-old daughter.

Shingi is heartbroken that her 10 years of marriage have been a lie.

But eventually she finds herself nursing the HIV positive "small house" at
her home.

Tariro tells Shingi that Simba is the only man she has ever known leaving
both women wondering how many other partners he has had.

Meanwhile, Simba finds himself alone at Tariro's lodgings.

It is a touching film but the turn of events where Shingi befriends the
ailing Tariro is almost unthinkable for most women who have gone through
similar experiences.

But one woman's interpretation of the film is that Tariro and Shingi were
able to identify their real enemy.

"Just like Tariro and Shingi, women must be able to identify the enemy and
stick together," she said after attending the premiere.

"Otherwise in practical terms a fist fight would have broken out between the
two women with the man trying to stop them or away at the bar."

This was the kind of debate that the producers sought as a way of
encouraging behaviour change.

Sichoni Takoleza, an Action board member said edutainment remains a powerful
communication tool in the fight against the pandemic.

He said his organisation through its partnership with Soul City was working
on a multi-media campaign to tackle the growing complexity of HIV and Aids

The 24-minute film will be screened on ZBC together with 10 other films from
nine countries, which are part of the OneLove campaign.

Small House, Big House will also air on nine regional stations.

United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), National Aids Council, Southern
Africa HIV and AIDS Information Dissemination Service and Zimbabwe Community
Health Intervention Project are some of the partners in the campaign.


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DAPP empowers Guruve villagers

Saturday, 20 February 2010 17:28

GURUVE - Stella Mudhala (58) is a sad woman. Of her eight children, four
have succumbed to a condition she has managed to contain in the past seven
years. Mudhala, from Chief Chipuriro's Ward Six in Guruve, attributes her
continued good health and survival to a positive attitude.

"I once had a big family," she says. "Half of my children have all succumbed
to Aids.

"It hurts me when I think about it because I have been living positively
with HIV for the past seven years.
"I have been on anti-retroviral drugs for seven years now and I am still
going strong."

Mudhala said her late children could have lived longer had they made efforts
to know their HIV status early as that would have helped them seek
life-saving treatment.

"They only tried to get help when they were already down with illness," she

"There are a lot of people out there who are still embarrassed by HIV and
Aids yet a lot of efforts have been made to demystify the virus."

She remembers how people used to laugh at her and 24 others back in 2003
when they used to walk a long distance to Guruve Centre every Friday to
learn about HIV and Aids.

Nowadays, Mudhala and her friends do not need to walk long distances to get
HIV and Aids education - thanks to a non-governmental organisation
Development Aid from People to People (DAPP)'s Hope Humana project.

Mudhala is happy that the project has also increased the number of people
participating in HIV and Aids programmes.

"I am also comforted by the fact that my remaining four children also have
access to crucial education now," she said.

"The Hope people are doing a good job because one way or the other, everyone
gets a chance to actively participate in something with the objective of
educating them at the end of the day."

Started in 2007, the Hope project is a centre for HIV and Aids outreach
activities and community programmes.

"The project encourages participation of everyone in the community through
such things as income-generating projects," Ward Five Councillor Matthew
Mupfurutsa said.

"When DAPP came here, they worked with a few people who formed small groups
and started nutritional gardens, poultry, piggery and goat-rearing projects.

"Recently, there was an introduction of a pass-on concept whereby those with
flourishing projects give some of their produce to others in the community
and thus multiplying the number of people participating in projects under
the Hope banner."

DAPP co-ordinates training of locals in running the projects and provides
seeds, seedlings, pigs, goats and chickens to start the projects.

However, in some cases the locals make contributions to start their

They also contribute stock feed although DAPP also assists in that regard.

"The idea is to encourage us to associate among each other as this gives us
a chance to share useful information about HIV and Aids", Roora, Chief
Chipuriro's wife said.

"The usual chickens, goats and pigs raised under natural conditions are used
in the projects and we are content with the results as our projects are
flourishing despite use of traditional methods.

"In March last year, I teamed up with nine others to start a poultry project
and each one of us contributed a chicken.

"The project is doing so well that we recently assisted in the establishment
of two groups made up of 10 orphans each through contributing six chickens
to each group."

Some groups said they have at some point sold some produce to pay fees and
buy school material for orphans while others said they have slaughtered some
animals and given meat to orphans.

Wicklow Mapira (63) and Nyadzisai, his wife, said their candle-making
project which brings together 40 people from Ward Six had helped them
generate income to send their five children to school.

Mapira said his group has since bought chickens with proceeds from the
project and is now also running a poultry project with the hope of growing
their portfolio to include goats.

While Winnet Matekenye (23) from Ward Five has since started a library where
locals access HIV and Aids literature, others in the community are involved
in home-based care (HBC) projects which see them assisting fellow villagers
suffering from Aids or related diseases.

Mindy Chipokosa, Guruve District Hospital's Acting Sister-in-Charge
(Community) said the DAPP project came in handy for the hospital which used
to have problems encouraging people to get tested, participate in such
programmes as the Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT), HBC,
peer education, workplace HIV and Aids programmes among others.

"The benefits have been many," Chipokosa said. "For example, there has been
an increase in the uptake of PMTCT while HBC givers have done a splendid job
monitoring and assisting patients we discharge from the hospital."


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Employers want changes to leave days, probation

Saturday, 20 February 2010 17:25

THE Tripartite Negotiating Forum (TNF) is this week expected to commence
discussions on proposed amendments to the Labour Act, labour and employers'
representatives have said. This follows the submission of proposals by the
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) and Employers' Confederation of
Zimbabwe (Emcoz) to the ministry of Labour and Social Welfare.

"We have just received the document with proposals from the labour side and
we expect the Minister of Labour Paurina Mpariwa to call for a meeting with
all partners this week", Emcoz executive director John Mufukare said.

The TNF is made up of representatives from government, labour and employers.

If negotiations go the Emcoz way, bolts will be tightened on things such as
termination of contract, retrenchment and sick leave, much to the chagrin of
labour unions who last month proposed more concessions in those areas,
including a 14 days' paternity leave for men.

Emcoz proposed a reduction of the notice period for termination of contracts
from three months to one as it feels the current position prejudices the

It says workers usually do not serve the notice period while employers must
give three months notice or pay salaries in lieu.

The employers also said there should be no notice period for casual
employment as that was irrelevant where work for a few hours was concerned.

Emcoz wants probation requirements revised so that employers and employees
can determine the period in some cases.

On retrenchment, the employers recommend that the process should not be
necessarily based on agreements.

"It is the employers' belief that the process of consultation makes much
more sense and it should be adopted in preference to the current need to
reach agreement on this aspect," the Emcoz recommendations read in part.

Emcoz argues that retrenchment packages are so high that most companies end
up trading into liquidation thereby defeating the purpose of the process
which is to sustain business.

Current sick leave provisions have also been criticised as excessive and
non-competitive measures that are deterrent to investment in labour
intensive industries.

Entitlement to pay when on sick leave should be reduced from 90 days full
pay and 90 days half pay to a minimum level of 30 days which is where it was
previously, employers said.

"If one looks at the combination of sick leave, maternity leave, vacation
leave, special leave and leave available on public holidays, the total
number of days a female employee could be away in a year but still be able
to claim pay would be 246 working days out of a possible total number of 260
working days.

"This is excessive and has a significant cost that the employer has to

Employers are also against provisions Collective Bargaining Agreements in
some sectors, which allow traditional healers registered with Zinatha to
grant sick leave as they believe these are not registered medical

Emcoz also wants lawyers stopped from referring Labour Court cases to the
High Court and also recommend that colleagues and friends should be allowed
to represent employees standing before the Labour Court.

The body argues that restricting the role to legal practitioners and trade
union or employer organisations takes away the informality expected in the

They also want an enforcement of all legislation in place against workers
committee members and trade union officials who instigate illegal strikes as
they feel their actions are costing employers and the country very heavily.

Better remuneration, more training and exposure to international practice
would help labour officers objectively approach labour disputes, the
employers advised.

It could not be immediately established if the other party to the reform
process, the Public Service Commission, has made its submissions.


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Chamisa blasts Zimra over duty

Saturday, 20 February 2010 17:23

INFORMATION Communication Technology Minister, Nelson Chamisa said
Zimbabweans importing ICT products still pay duty because officers from the
Zimbabwe Revenue Authority are unaware of the new regulations exempting the
goods. Finance Minister Tendai Biti last year waived duty on ICT products
such as computers and cell phones in his maiden mid-term budget review.

But Chamisa said Zimra officers thought the directive only affected the
importation of computer hardware.

ICT products include television sets, cameras, and computer software among

"There are people with blinkers and are of the myopic view that by ICT one
is only referring to computers.

"We have received complaints that people have been forced to pay duty on
items that otherwise fall under ICT.

"We will have to compile a list that we will give to Zimra through the
Finance Minister to raise awareness on ICT gadgets that are waived from
duty," Chamisa said last week.

He was briefing ICT stakeholders on the recently held meeting of African
ministers that coincided with the African Union 14th Ordinary Summit held in
Ethiopia recently.

The summit ran under the theme "Information and Communication Technologies
in Africa: Prospects and Challenges for Development".

Zimra spokesperson, Taungana Ndoro last week said they needed specific
information from people who were affected before commenting on the issue.

On the summit, Chamisa said Africa's leadership was embracing ICT as shown
by how Egypt has been using mobile phones to fight disease outbreaks.

He said Rwanda was another African state that had made strides in ICT
through its rural information kiosks.

Chamisa said the unity government considered the optic fibre cable project a
national priority.

Optic fibre allows broadband internet services, which are reliable and fast.

The project will be completed before the end of June.


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Zim in bid to raise US$50 million from Diaspora

Saturday, 20 February 2010 17:20

ZIMBABWE'S begging bowl will be extended to the Diaspora once again as the
country seeks to raise US$50 million to help finance the rebuilding of the
economy. The fund-raising initiative will be carried out through the
floating of a Diaspora Bond to enlist the services of non-resident
Zimbabweans in the reconstruction of the country.

The bond - a formal contract to repay borrowed money with interest at fixed
intervals - was first mooted last year and was supposed to be floated in

But it was put on hold to allow promoters to tie a few loose ends.

African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) and government would guarantee the

Gift Simwaka, Afreximbank's regional manager for Southern Africa told
Standardbusiness last week that the parties are working on the coupon
(interest) to be charged.

"The coupon is yet to be determined but it would be at competitive rates and
in line with prevailing market conditions at the time of subscription.

"The tenure would be three years," he said.

The idea of the Diaspora bond was mooted last year in a bid to enlist the
services of Zimbabweans to help rebuild the economy.

Over three million Zimbabweans are in the Diaspora in South Africa, UK and
US having fled the political and economic crisis of the last decade.

The majority of them are professionals and plans to lure them back have hit
a brick wall due to low salaries offered on the local market.

Every month, the non-resident Zimbabweans send money to prop up struggling
relatives back home in the wake of low salaries averaging US$200 a month.

Remittances from the Diaspora topped US$190 million last year, a 142%
increase from the previous year.

In the three-year Macro-Economic Policy and Budget Framework launched last
year government recognizes the role played by non-resident Zimbabweans in
economic development.

It said government will develop an appropriate remittance framework linked
to investment opportunities working in conjunction with associations of
non-resident Zimbabweans.

Government bonds are affected by a number of variables such as inflation and
the perceived country risk.

Countries that are seen to be riskier than others have to offer a higher
coupon (interest) in the first place to attract investors than those that
have stable economies like the United States.

The more risky the country, the lower the price and therefore the higher the
yield and vice-versa. If a bond's price falls, its yield rises and

Falling yields are good for an economy and are referred to by economists and
politicians as "long-term interest rates" as it enables companies and
government to borrow more cheaply next time they need to.

Zimbabwe desperately needs the capital to kick start the economy.

The country's revenue inflows, though increasing, cannot cover the projected
national costs. In 2010 government expects to get US$1.4 billion in revenue.

But with expenditures totalling US$2.250 billion, it means that the US$810
million in vote of credits pledged has to come in.


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Alex Magaisa: Sanctions: Beware of Zanu PF’s crocodile tears

Saturday, 20 February 2010 17:58

A friend was having trouble with his little boy. Each time he chose an item
for him, the little one always chose the other.

If he chose a blue toy, the boy insisted on the red alternative. I suppose
little boys derive pleasure from rebelling against their dads.

So he figured he had to apply the law of opposites.

That meant, whenever he preferred red, he would instead choose blue and the
boy, naturally would pick red.

My friend would feign frustration and unhappiness at the boy’s choice. The
boy would claim victory and that pleased him no end.

He did not realise the trick his dad was playing on him.

He did not know that dad’s tears were in fact tears of a crocodile, the
mythical image being that of a crocodile that sheds tears whilst consuming
its prey. Dad in fact was happy. And the boy was happy.

Everyone was happy. Or so it seemed.

This may be a simple story of father and son playing games but it bears some
resonance with some of the power games I see at play in Zimbabwe.

The difference is that one is about simple choices between father and son
but the other is a matter with grave consequences for a whole nation.

I have observed with interest and concern at the controversial issue of
sanctions and wonder whether there is the law of opposites at play here on a
grander scale.

I record here my observations and why I think things may not be as simple as
they appear at first sight.

It is in this context that I thought I would venture to offer a slightly
different, if controversial, opinion to the issue of sanctions and how it
has been handled so far.

In this regard, I argue that far from being a handicap, the issue of
sanctions has become a piece of arsenal in the hands of those against whom
they have been targeted, in general Zanu PF as a party.

The issue is actually more important to Zanu PF’s politics of survival than
it appears at first sight.

The manner in which the Old Party has handled the sanctions issue is to me
yet another illustration of its survival instincts; an uncanny ability to
manipulate to its advantage what on a cursory look appears to be a weakness.

To my mind, contrary to popular opinion, the removal of sanctions does not
strengthen Zanu PF.

Rather, it removes one and the last key grounds upon which the Zanu PF has
rested its resistance to the implementation of the Global Political

To that extent, the removal of sanctions works to weaken the ground upon
which it stands against the democratisation agenda set forth in the GPA.

So why then, one is perfectly entitled to ask, does Zanu PF howl so loudly
about the removal sanctions?

Is this not sufficient indication that they are actually bothered by the
sanctions; that arguably the sanctions are working?

This is where, to my mind, the Old Party’s tricks are at play, in a way that
is not immediately apparent. It seems to me that they are tears indeed, but
that they are tears of a crocodile.

The howls present a picture of a party that is really bothered by the
sanctions; of individuals who have been severely inconvenienced by this
circumstance. That is exactly what they want everyone to believe, not
necessarily because it’s correct, but because it suits the broader strategy
in the wider context of the political power games.

They want people, especially opponents, to believe that the matter of
sanctions affects them badly.

Indeed, evidence of public opinion suggests that most people do. And because
many people believe they have a moral victory against Zanu PF, they are more
inclined to support the maintenance of sanctions.

It is the law of opposites at play, similar to the law of opposites in the
little story of father and son described in the preamble to this piece. But
far from being a blow to Zanu PF, it is actually an opportunity in the
political power game. How then is this so?

Zanu PF has always insisted that sanctions must be removed first before
progressing to the other core issues in the GPA.

Indeed, the issue has been re-ignited in recent weeks, enabling Zanu PF to
shift blame to the MDC-T for allegedly influencing the placement of
sanctions and therefore arguing that it has the power to get them removed.

As long as sanctions remain, Zanu PF will always employ the same old
argument. Between the removal of sanctions and implementing the GPA to
facilitate a free and fair election, it is arguable that it is the latter
that worries Zanu PF more than the former.

Popular opinion tends to place weight on the “nuisance” or “embarrassment”
value of the sanctions, i.e. that it stops the targeted ones from travelling
to places where they are banned.

It is doubtful however that those impediments really bother them as is often
made out. Certainly, sanctions have not stopped them from travelling and
spending taxpayers’ funds, sometimes in obscene ways be it in Hong Kong or
Kuala Lumpur.

They have not stopped the targeted from doing what concerns them most — the
acquisition of wealth, by whatever means available.

They are not worse off than they were before the sanctions were imposed.
Instead, they have got wealthier, occupying an island of abundance in a sea
of desperate poverty.

The gap between the rich and poor has in fact grown wider in the last 10
years. So, I am reluctant to believe that sanctions have actually bothered
the targeted as is often made out.

There is no clear evidence available that tells how much, if any of the
assets belonging to the targeted have actually been frozen.

It is probable that most of this wealth is held in low-tax offshore
jurisdictions that are havens for the wealthy, and there, the hand of the
sanctions regime has limited reach.

So apart from the embarrassment value, sanctions have probably not bothered
Zanu PF leaders as is often suggested.

Perhaps the best way to appreciate the trickery is to consider the issue
through another set of lens.

Suppose the sanctions they appear to dislike are actually removed. It is
difficult to imagine any other argument that Zanu PF would pull out of the
proverbial hat to avoid implementing the remaining aspects of the GPA.

So in light of that you have to ask further: if the removal of sanctions
should compel Zanu PF to implement the GPA and related aspects of
governance, is it really in Zanu PF’s interests to have the sanctions

To my mind, they are less interested in the removal of sanctions than they
are with the avoidance of measures to implement the GPA. For as long as the
sanctions issue remains top of the agenda, there have reason to resist the

Of course they want the more gullible to believe that the country’s economic
malaise is due solely to sanctions. But they are not stupid enough to think
people really believe them.

However, it is a convenient line to take so they do use it even if they
themselves do not believe it. But most of all, the sanctions issue provides
a convenient excuse for not meeting their part of the bargain, a
circumstance that enables them to avoid the democratisation process under
which survival would be most challenging.

Zanu PF knows that for as long as the sanctions issue remains on the table,
it is a convenient veil to hide behind and avoid the necessary reforms
needed to take the country to the next level.

The irony is that by thinking and believing that Zanu PF leaders are hurt by
sanctions, opponents insist that they remain — thereby keeping the issue on
the table. What appears like a weakness may in fact be a source of strength
for Zanu PF.

They may not be the best governors of the country in the eyes of many people
but they are not stupid.

The tragedy in this situation is that many people actually believe Zanu PF’s
tears over sanctions without realising that they are probably witnessing
crocodile tears.

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

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Sunday View: Patronage is no substitute for a good work ethic

Saturday, 20 February 2010 17:55

ONE of the results of thirty years of Zanu PF rule has been the dominance of
patronage as the way to get on in the world, rather than through hard work.
Patronage means we get things free from the powers above.

The land resettlement programme has been based on getting land free.

Every election is about getting free things from would be leaders. We get
high positions through the favour of some important politician rather than
through higher skills or harder work.

We can no longer plant our own food, for the simple reason that there are no
seeds or fertilizer to buy at affordable prices.

We have been a starving nation for eight consecutive years, and we have been
fed by our so-called enemies, the West. Indeed we have become a nation of

Meanwhile we have been boasting about sovereignty. Let's face it, beggars
are not sovereign: they are dependants.

We need to look at patronage as a sweet, but poisonous drink.

It is destroying the nation, whilst we are all begging for more and more of
it. We love getting things free.

We love to link up to powerful leaders, who are able to give us positions
and property free of charge. We passively obey these leaders, even as they
lead us through the toxic route of violence and crime. Through this poison
we have lost our moral compass.

Through patronage, our parastatals have become milk cows for the powerful,
and no longer serve the nation as they used to do.

Whether it is Air Zimbabwe, the National Railways of Zimbabwe, or the
Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority, mismanagement and abuse have led to
their downfall.

When they failed to meet market demands, they relied on patronage from
government to survive.
At the same time, the patrons, personified in the Minister, had the power to
intervene in decision-making, usually to the benefit of patronage, but at
the expense of economic viability.

If Zimbabwe is to go forward, it will have to free itself from its addiction
to this poison, patronage. We may be drunk with the pleasures of patronage,
but it will get us exactly where we are today - in disaster.

Through patronage we have incompetent people making important decisions
which affect the whole nation negatively.

A good example was the absolute madness of printing more and more money, to
the extent where we unashamedly increased the money supply by more than 400
000%, followed a few months by more than 2 million percent.

Anyone who has done first year economics can tell you that increasing the
money supply by more than 10% is courting disaster, but we continued to do
it over a period of seven years. Seven years of madness.

Meanwhile patronage continued apace, and those who wished to benefit from
patronage, continued to flatter the powers above.

It is time to move away from patronage, and to look at developing a
meritocracy. Zimbabwe is a highly-educated and highly-skilled nation.

Let us choose the best leaders for the job.

Let us choose the best managers for our parastatals and stop interference in
decision making by ignoramuses intent on self-gratification rather than in
the success of the enterprise.

Let us choose the best people to head our schools and hospitals rather than
selecting through patronage.

We have the sad tragedy where millions of skilled Zimbabweans have left the
country, and many of them are doing very well in other countries.

If they had had the opportunity to do well in Zimbabwe, they would have been
able to create a more prosperous and better developed country than we have

Zimbabweans are a highly disciplined and hardworking nation. We have to rid
ourselves of our addiction to patronage, which is turning us into a nation
of beggars and prostitutes. Instead we need to return to our dependence on
discipline and hard work.


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Comment: Birthday celebrations mistimed, inappropriate inappropriate

Saturday, 20 February 2010 17:52

THE venue and timing of this year's 21st February Movement celebrations must
be a problem for the organisers. The movement is named after President
Robert Mugabe's birthday - today.

This year's celebrations will be held in Bulawayo on Saturday and the
organisers expect to raise US$500 000 for the festivities.

The only awkward situation this lavish bash creates is that Bulawayo has
introduced water rationing because of a water crisis, which the government
has conveniently ignored for decades, pleading lack of resources.

Industries in Bulawayo have either migrated or scaled down their operations
because of government's policies and neglect and the celebrations would
unfortunately appear as jubilation over the demise of what once was the
country's most vibrant industrial hub.

For contributions for the festivities the organisers of the celebrations
prey on the same private sector enterprises that are threatened by the
much-criticised indigenisation laws, gazetted three weeks ago.

The event also comes in the wake of conflicting signals from the Government
of National Unity on whether or not it is scrapping implementation of the
controversial indigenisation regulations which have attracted the ire of the
MDC-T, the business sector and the labour movement .

At any other time and venue the incongruity of this year's celebrations
would not have attracted so much attention and discomfort.

What makes next Saturday's celebrations in Bulawayo so controversial is that
they come against the backdrop of rural hunger. Seven hundred thousand
villagers in Matabeleland South are in urgent need of food aid.

The budget set for the celebrations by the organisers is enough to feed an
estimated 100 000 starving families in Matabeleland South for a whole month.

It seems an act of gross insensitivity that such an amount is going to be
spent in one day on people who are not themselves starving.

But the other reason why feasting is inappropriate is that this is taking
place against the backdrop of the ongoing strike by civil servants who are
demanding a salary and not allowances.

By holding festivities the government will be telling the striking workers
that while it does not have money for their salaries it can however find
resources for the celebrations. This will probably incense the civil

For weeks the government has not been able to resolve or address the demands
of the striking civil servants, who say they are unconvinced that the
government does not have money and are demanding to know where the proceeds
from the Chiadzwa diamonds are being diverted.

Unintimidated and with no immediate end in sight to the dispute, the
striking workers on Friday marched on Parliament - effectively drawing
attention to the failure by the government to resolve the strike.

The workers also want the government to walk the talk. While the government
says it has no money, the workers say this is not reflected in the
lifestyles of government ministers.

Government says civil service pay takes up at least 60% of revenues, and
limited resources make it difficult for the state to increase wages
significantly. Civil servants earn between US$122 and US$206 a month and
want the government to raise their salaries to US$600.

The stand-off between the workers and the government suggests two things -
either the government is not interested or has genuinely run out of ideas on
how to resolve the dispute. This is one reason why it has resorted to
threatening the striking workers.

Next Saturday's birthday celebrations can only worsen matters.

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Sunday Opinion: Planning ahead crucial for grain imports

Saturday, 20 February 2010 17:42

THERE have been calls for government to start importing 500 000 tonnes of
grain as it is obvious that this season has been disastrous. The Minister of
Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development has acknowledged the
grain shortage and has called for an import programme. Some have called for
the importation of maize meal, even the GMO type.

It is good that planning for imports be done well in advance to avoid panic
and actual food shortage when we get to a hand to mouth situation.

Yes, the rainfall has been a disaster; there was no top dressing fertilizer
in time for those lucky enough to have had sufficient rainfall. There are,
however, other factors that contribute to deficit maize production.

I generally like to go to the past to see how we handled certain situations:
how much the handling may have affected farmers' attitude in grain

In this regard, I would like to look at the system of payment to farmers in
the past and compare that with the current payment system.

The Agricultural Marketing Authority (AMA), used to raise all the money for
Grain Marketing Board (GMB), Cotton Marketing Board (CMB), Dairy Marketing
Board (DMB) and the Cold Storage Commission (CSC).

The money was largely from the local money market and also from foreign
sources. For example, during the 1991/2 drought, from April 1, 1992 to March
31, 1993, the GMB imported 2.7 million tonnes of food.

AMA raised the money in local currency for the GMB, who in turn bought
foreign currency from Ministry of Industry and Commerce, to pay for the

At the end of the year, the GMB produced Annual Accounts, which naturally
had a huge deficit as the maize-meal was subsidised.

The government then settled the GMB deficit.

When the AMA was abolished in 1993, with the assistance of the Reserve Bank
of Zimbabwe, the GMB successfully introduced grain bills.

In order for the GMB to raise money, armed with an initial crop forecast in
January, it would enter into discussions with all the banks in the country,
giving an indication of funds required to buy the grain between April and

As the size of crop became more certain, so would be the commitment by the

The banks would always have certain conditions which government would then
do in support of the GMB. Although the GMB had a strong balance sheet backed
by assets in the form of silos and depots, while banks were satisfied by
this they were aware of the illiquidity of those assets.

Since about 2000, the GMB and in fact, nearly all if not all parastatals, do
not now produce annual accounts, even though the law requires that these be
produced and tabled in Parliament within a specified period.

Without a balance sheet, no financial institution could lend money to the
GMB. We know that over the past few years, the GMB has been operating as a
government department, being given all the money for all its operations.

I wonder whether this is in the form of loans to the GMB or it is just
normal departmental expenditure, meaning that after selling maize, with
capital from the RBZ or government, it must surrender the sales revenue to

The point I am trying to make by this history is that there used to be
planning of where the money to buy the crop will come from.

Last year, the GMB producer price for maize was $265 a tonne.

We delivered maize but there was no money for the poor farmers - us. Towards
the end of the year, the government re-launched Grain bills to pay the
farmers. This was done after much suffering on the part of the farmers. Some
of the farmers are still holding on to last year's maize.

As for last year's wheat, it was again not good for farmers at all.
Government urged farmers to produce wheat.

A few farmers responded but many decided not to produce wheat due to payment
problems the previous year.

The GMB had a producer price of $400 a tonne but had no money to pay the
farmers; meanwhile millers had imported wheat and had their silos full.
There was no buyer for wheat.

I know some farmers who still have last year's wheat. In both maize and
wheat, the GMB is the buyer of last resort.

By definition, a buyer of last resort is one who buys a commodity when
sellers cannot find other buyers.

The price of a buyer of last resort is supposed to be the lowest, hence
sellers going there as a last resort.

However what happens in Zimbabwe is that the buyer of last resort actually
offers the highest price.

This is caused by the fact that all buyers know that the GMB, as buyer of
last resort, has no money, so they then always offer prices lower than that
of the buyer of last resort. Farmers are forced to sell their produce at
prices lower than the buyer of last resort, GMB.

The net effect of what I have said above is that farmers decide to grow
other cash crops that completely avoid the GMB. Farmers in tobacco-growing
areas of Mashonaland and Manicaland have moved to tobacco growing where
there is more profit and are paid cash. Naturally, these areas are the prime
maize producers.

The government must find money for the GMB to buy and pay promptly, the
maize that will be harvested from April and also make plans for funds to pay
for wheat in October.


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A mysterious arms dealer lands Illinois golf course in legal "twilight zone"

Kokopelli golf course (P-D)
By Todd C. Frankel

MARION, ILL. - Until recently, people here had little reason to know the
name John A. Bredenkamp or anything about his past, a tale worthy of a James
Bond villain, filled with allegations of international arms deals, blood
diamond trades and ties to despotic regimes in his native Africa.

Bredenkamp had visited Marion just once, nine years ago, to look over the
Bermuda grass fairways and 96 sand bunkers at the Kokopelli Golf Club he was
about to buy. He flew out the same day. A low-profile owner, he sold the
course to a Florida group in 2006. He kept only a right to split future
profits if the course sold again, his one tenuous tie to this Southern
Illinois city.

His name might have been forgotten, except for what took place two years

"It's just so absurd," said Fritz Archerd of Gainesville, Fla., head of the
group that bought the course from Bredenkamp. "And it's all because of him."

Just as the golf course was to change hands, the U.S. Department of Treasury
blocked the sale - indefinitely. Treasury's Office of Foreign Asset Control
had named Bredenkamp to its roster of terrorists and others deemed so
undesirable they are targets of economic sanctions. They are called
Specially Designated Nationals. Most of al-Qaida is on there. So are
Colombian drug kingpins. Their U.S. assets are frozen. U.S. citizens are
forbidden from conducting business with them.

Now Marion's only golf course has been frozen, too, stuck in a perplexing
legal limbo for the last 15 months. The current owners are desperate to
unload the club, but can't. Last week, it effectively closed its doors.
Seventy-five workers were let go. Just the golf pro remains, left to keep an
eye on golf shirts and hats marked down 70 percent.

Meanwhile, the owners and politicians are rushing to hash out a deal with
Treasury before the fairways turn, in the horrified words of the local
chamber of commerce, to wheat fields.

"Hard to believe that what he did has reached all the way to Southern
Illinois," said David Hays, a local restaurant owner who leads a group of
investors still hoping to buy the golf course. Hays added he had done some
research on Bredenkamp since this all happened.

"He's a bad dude."


Bredenkamp, 69, is still barely known in the United States.

He was born and reared in Africa. He was captain of the Rhodesian national
rugby team in his younger days. He built a tobacco leaf company from scratch
into one of the world's largest. He made the 1996 list of Great Britain's
richest people (No. 76). His fortune was pegged at several hundred million.

About that time, he made a heavy foray into sports, at one point managing
the careers of star golfers Ernie Els and Nick Price. Rumors of misdeeds
swirled around Bredenkamp even then. But little was known for sure. Sports
Illustrated called him "the most mysterious man in golf."

"He's a charmer," said Steve Smyers, a noted golf course architect from
Florida who designed Kokopelli and knew Bredenkamp.

Smyers got Bredenkamp interested in buying the course in 2001. But
Bredenkamp was not a golfer. After several years, the pair decided to sell
the struggling Kokopelli.

Archerd's investment group saw an opportunity. They structured a deal to buy
out Bredenkamp and Smyers while giving them the right to share profits if
Archerd's group made a killing. But Archerd said his group has taken a hit
on Kokopelli. With the economy tanking, it was not a good time to invest in
a golf course. So in late 2008, they were close to selling it to Marion-area

The exact terms of the deal have not been disclosed, but both sides said it
would have been a wash. The Marion group would pay off about $330,000 debt
and tax liens, plus other expenses of Archerd's group. No profit remained.
Archerd said he expects his investors will lose about $750,000 on the deal.

"We are getting nothing out of this. Bredenkamp would get absolutely nothing
out of this," Archerd said. "They're blocking a guy's interest that is worth

But they didn't get the deal done before Treasury's letter arrived in
November 2008.

The Treasury called Bredenkamp a crony of Zimbabwean President Robert
Mugabe, a pariah leader whose government in the war-torn nation has been
criticized for land seizures and corruption. "Bredenkamp has financially
propped up the regime and provided other support to a number of its
high-ranking officials," Treasury said in its letter. Treasury described
Bredenkamp as a businessman with dealings in "tobacco trading, gray-market
arms trading and trafficking ... and diamond extraction."

Treasury officials declined to talk about Bredenkamp or the golf course sale
for this article.

But news reports and investigations over the years paint a colorful picture.

Bredenkamp has admitted that he evaded United Nations economic sanctions in
the early 1970s when he bought aircraft for the Ian Smith-led white
Rhodesian government during a civil war with black citizens. (Rhodesia would
later become Zimbabwe.) A British TV documentary in 1994 claimed Bredenkamp
was deep in the illegal arms trade, his companies selling land mines to Iraq
and anti-aircraft guns to Iran. A 2002 U.N. National Security Council
interim report looking into the diamond trade in the Democratic Republic of
Congo accused a Bredenkamp company of supplying parts for Zimbabwean troops
and war planes for missions in the Congo. He also was linked to questionable
deals for rights to Congo diamond mines, home to so-called conflict or blood

Last year, the European Union joined the United States in blacklisting

Bredenkamp has not taken the criticism lightly. He frequently writes letters
to British and African publications to complain about the stories detailing
his alleged exploits. He also maintains, which is aimed
squarely at refuting the official record. He did not respond to an e-mail
request for comment.

On his site, Bredenkamp complains that he has never been given the chance to
defend himself against the actions by U.S. and EU governments.


How someone gets on the list is difficult to discern, according to attorneys
familiar with Treasury's Office of Foreign Asset Control. But once you get
on the list, it is almost impossible to get off. And the evidence can be a
national security secret.

"They make it a complicated process," said Clif Burns, an economic sanctions
attorney with Bryan Cave in Washington.

Burns, who is not involved in the Bredenkamp case, said the sanctions list
serves a worthy purpose, but can overreach. That appears to be the case with
Kokopelli, Burns said, because it seems certain Bredenkamp would not benefit
from the golf course's sale.

"There is no reason on Earth why the people in this town should be caught up
in this," Burns said.

Archerd said he has struggled to get Treasury officials on the phone. He and
others recently enlisted the help of U.S. Rep. Jerry Costello and Sen. Dick

Thanks to their help, Archerd is flying to Washington this week to talk with
Treasury officials. He sounded hopeful.

Hays, the restaurant owner, said he still wants to buy the golf course. He
would run the restaurant. Another investor plans to build 90 homes on some
unused acres. They want to retain the club's 200 dues-paying members. And
there are some big tournaments coming up: a state open qualifier in June and
PGA sectional in September.

But they need to move quickly, Hays said.

"Otherwise," he said, "the golf course is going to be in a true 'Twilight

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