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Zimbabwe Striking Civil Servants Demanding Diamond

23/02/2010 01:30:00

Masvingo, February 23, 2010 - Zimbabwe teachers who are part of the striking
civil servants are demanding to be paid diamonds since the Zimbabwe
government is saying it is broke.

The teachers have also given government a March 05 deadline to resolve the
civil servants' grievances or they will turn to the streets. Civil Servants
have been demanding a USD 600 wage, up from the current USD 150.

Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe President Takavafira Zhou said: "We
know that the government has 300 000 carats of gold seized by the
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ). So the government should give us those
diamonds if they say they have no money and we will sell them on our

"We will turn to the power of the street...we are prepared for the worst, "
Zhou warned.

He also complained about the alleged politicization of the strike by Zanu PF
to discredit Prime Minister and Movement of Democratic Change leader Morgan

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UN chief faces row over Zimbabwean cholera deaths

A former UN official is due to give evidence against Secretary-General Ban
Ki-Moon, accused of undermining humanitarian operations in Zimbabwe and
blocking action that could have helped to stop the death of 4,000 people.

The ex-UN official, Zimbabwean Dr. Georges Tadonki, said he would give
evidence before a UN Tribunal in Nairobi, Kenya, on Tuesday, showing that
the Ban and other senior officials blocked efforts to stop a humanitarian
crisis in Zimbabwe.

Dr. Tadonki worked as a senior official for the UN Office for the
Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN-OCHA), between March and December
2009, when a choler a outbreak in Zimbabwe killed 4,000 people and left
100,000 hospitalized.

Dr. Tadonki said he would present his evidence before a special dispute
tribunal in Nairobi, on why the UN chief reportedly said the President
Robert Mugabe-led government was cooperating with the UN while Mugabe
insisted there was no cholera.

"What did the UN Chief say? They (Zanu) officials were cooperative. What did
Mugabe say? Our doctors conquered cholera. Now there is no cholera, there is
no reason for war," Dr. Tadonki said in a statement, released on his behalf
by a publicity firm in Kenya.

The UN chief has denied reports that his office had been silent over the
crisis in Zimbabwe, including the grabbing of white farmers land and other
subsequent crises there.

Ban denied suggestions that the UN had been silent over the crisis in
Zimbabwe, including the power-sharing crisis and the "other conflicts
between the Zimbabweans".

"I do not agree that the UN has been silent on Zimbabwe, when there was the
humanitarian crisis, I met with Robert Mugabe many times. I asked him to
democratize. We still have serious concerns about the humanitarian
situation," Ban said on 31 January.

Speaking during his last Africa visit, when he attended the African Union
Heads of State Summit, Ban said, on the power-sharing agreement, the parties
did not accept the intervention of his office.

On the land issue between Britain and Zimbabwe, he said, the UN did not have
powers to interfere on agreements signed between two independent countries.

The former UN official accuses Ban, several senior UN officials within the
rank of Under-Secretaries-General, of undermining the work of the UN or
working closely with the ZANU-PF to cover up the extent of the humanitarian
crisis in Zimbabwe.

"The cholera epidemic was officially recognized only in December 2008,
nearly five months too late. The Government of Zimbabwe was late to act and
the UN was late to act," Dr Tadonki alleged.

He said the UN did not challenge the government of Zimbabwe to face the
truth and let people receive the help they needed timely.

Dr. Tadonki said: "When help finally came, it was too late. Over 4,000 had
died and more than 100,000 people, sick of cholera, and millions of people
had been af fected directly or indirectly not only in Zimbabwe, but also in
neighboring South Africa, Zambia, and Mozambique."

Nairobi - Pana 23/02/2010

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Zim's democracy 'insufficient': EU ministers

    February 23 2010 at 07:11AM

A year into a power-sharing agreement that was supposed to put an end to
President Robert Mugabe's autocratic rule, Zimbabwe has made "insufficient"
moves towards democracy, European Union foreign ministers said on Monday.

Last week the EU extended sanctions against the country for another year,
renewing an arms embargo and a visa ban and asset freeze against Mugabe and
his acolytes.

In a statement, EU ministers lamented "insufficient progress with regard to
the rule of law, respect for human rights, constitutional reforms, power
sharing on equal terms, national reconciliation, security sector reform and
the protection of investors."

However, they stressed that the the bloc "stands ready" to keep sanctions
"under constant review and to revoke them" if Mugabe makes concessions
towards Morgan Tsvangirai, the former opposition leader who became Prime
Minister as a result of last year's coalition agreement. - Sapa-dpa

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Parly defers diamond firm’s hearing

by Own Correspondent Tuesday 23 February 2010

HARARE – Only one board member of Mbada Investments – one of the two
companies mining diamonds at Zimbabwe’s controversial Marange diamond
field – turned up for a parliamentary hearing to probe the affairs of the
firm on Monday, forcing the lawmakers to postpone the matter to next week.

Mines and energy committee chairperson Chindori Chininga was forced to
reschedule the hearings to next week after only Mbada board chairman Robert
Mhlanga turned up.

But Chininga said Mhlanga would not be able to answer all the necessary

“We need to have the whole board here, those that represent Grandwell and
ZMDC, all those who represent Mbada should be here,” said Chininga.

“I do not think that you will be able to answer all questions sufficiently,
as such we should reschedule the meeting to next week,” he added.

The government-owned Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) last
year partnered little known Grandwell of South Africa to form Mbada
Investments which is mining diamonds at the Marange field that is also known
as Chiadzwa.

The ZMDC also partnered another little known South African firm Core Mining
and Minerals in a joint-venture operation trading as Canadile Miners to
exploit the Marange deposits.

The joint ventures were formed as part of measures to bring mining of
diamonds at Marange in line with standards stipulated by world diamond
industry watchdog, the Kimberley Process (KP).

But the two companies’ operations in the notorious diamond field are
shrouded in controversy amid revelations that some members of the boards of
the two firms were once illegal drug and diamond dealers in the Democratic
Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Sierra Leone.

The two firms are not known names in the diamond industry with for example
Grandwell known to have been involved in scrap metal dealing in South Africa
before they came to mine diamonds at Marange.

Mbada was last month forced to abandon a planned sale of 300 000 carats
after it emerged that the firm had failed to follow laid down procedures.

The firm's management has also been dogged by allegations that they are
"fronts" of certain named politicians within President Robert Mugabe's ZANU
PF party.

Chininga said his committee wanted to expedite investigations surrounding
the aborted auction of diamonds by Mbada in January as well as its other
operations for the country to start generating revenue from the precious

“When Parliament calls you, we would have done thorough research on your
operations, and we expect you to answer sufficiently,” said Chindori

“We want to quicken the process so that Zimbabwe gets what belongs to its

Last week, ZMDC board members appeared before the same committee to answer
questions on the aborted sale and its representation in Mbada, but requested
that they put some of their answers in writing.

However, during the hearing the ZMDC revealed that it had four members on
the Mbada board instead of the required five, a situation the committee said
undermined government’s interests as a shareholder.

Marange is one of the world’s most controversial diamond fields with reports
that soldiers sent to guard the claims after the government took over the
field in October 2006 from a British firm that owned the deposits committed
gross human rights abuses against illegal miners who had descended on the

Human rights groups have been pushing for a ban on Zimbabwean diamonds but
last November, the country escaped a KP ban with the global body giving
Harare a June 2010 deadline to make reforms to comply with its
regulations. – ZimOnline

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Bennett’s trial postponed to today

by Own Correspondent Tuesday 23 February 2010

HARARE – The treason trial of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s top ally
Roy Bennett that was scheduled to resume at the High Court Monday was been
postponed to Tuesday (today) following the death of a close associate of the
accused, a lawyer said.

Bennett, who is treasurer of Tsvangirai’s MDC party is accused of plotting
to murder President Robert Mugabe. The trial was scheduled to resume
yesterday after it was postponed a fortnight ago due to an ongoing strike by
civil servants.

"The trial will now start tomorrow," Beatrice Mtetwa, Bennett’s lawyer said.
"One of Roy's close friends just dropped dead, so he is not able to come to
court today as a result of the death."

Bennett faces a possible death sentence if convicted in a case that has
worsened tensions in Mugabe and Tsvangirai’s coalition government, amid
claims by the MDC that the charges are politically motivated to persecute
its treasurer and prevent him from taking up the job of deputy agriculture

Mugabe has refused to swear in Bennett into the agriculture post saying the
former white commercial farmer must first be cleared of treason by the
courts before he can be appointed to Cabinet.

Justice Chinembiri Bhunu, presiding over the case, is expected to rule when
the trial resumes whether fake emails produced by defence lawyers can be
used to cross-examine a state witness who claims to have printed emails from
the laptop of gun-dealer Peter Michael Hitschmann that implicate Bennett.

Lead defence lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa produced the fake emails in order to
prove to court that emails can be forged – a point that could cripple the
state’s attempts to use the emails allegedly printed from Hitschmann’s
computer as evidence against Bennett.

However Attorney General (AG) Johannes Tomana – who is leading the
prosecution – has asked Bhunu to bar Mtetwa from using her fake emails
because the originator of the fake emails is shown as a "Johannes Tomana"
which the AG says is tantamount to caricaturing and demeaning his office and

A ruling by Bhunu barring use of the fake emails could damage defence
efforts to disprove the authenticity of the state’s own set of emails
implicating Bennett and which the judge has already ruled are admissible as

The state alleges that Hitschmann was given money by Bennett to buy weapons
for use to assassinate Mugabe.

Prosecutors say Hitschmann implicated Bennett in 2006 when he was arrested
after being found in possession of firearms, claims the gun dealer denies
saying he was tortured into making the confessions during interrogation at a
military barracks in March that year. – ZimOnline

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Judgement By Candlelight

23/02/2010 01:26:00

Masvingo, February 23, 2010 - High Court Judge Tedious Karwi came face to
face with the gravity of the power blues currently gripping the country
after he was forced to deliver judgement, using candles after a power outage
at the Masvingo Magistrates court.

An apparently annoyed Karwi, who was about to deliver judgement in a murder
case in which Admore Dambanevana of Zaka was convicted of murder with actual
intent after killling a fellow villager in a love triangle, had to
temporarily adjourn the court to enable court official to run into the city
to buy candles after a power outage.

Karwi, who was being assitsted by assessors Joseph Mushuku and Thomas
Dauramanzi, only proceeded to deliver judgment and thereafter jailed
Dambanevana for 20 years.

Sources at the court said senior officials had to run around to raise the
money for candles after Karwi had reportedly attacked them over why there
was no generator. ''There was no money to buy candles and senior officials
had to run around to raise the money to buy the candles after Karwi had
expressed outrage. The generator which was handed over to the court two
years ago by the government developed a fault and has not been repaired due
to lack of money,''said the source.

Masvingo area prosecutor John Shumba said: '' Why don't you ask the judge
himself, why me. it a crime, how many generators have broken down
elsewhere, what's is so special about the generator here.''

Masvingo has been one of the hardest hit cities with loadshedding in
Zimbabwe. The city can go for more than 12 hours per day without power.

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Zimbabwe - Multi-currency system has legs

February 23, 2010

The multi-currency system adopted by the Zimbabwean government early last
year would remain in place until at least 2012, the Herald reported
yesterday. "The multi-currency will be in place for the next two years,"
Economic Planning and Investment Promotion Minister Mangoma was quoted as
saying. "Zimbabwe is the only country in the world that does not have
foreign exchange risk," he added. After 2012, the government would decide
whether to revert to the local unit, Mangoma said. - Sapa

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Vicious ZANU-PF attack on MDC continues in Epworth – government responds

Zimbabwe Information Centre Inc


Media Release

February 23, 2010,

Vicious ZANU-PF attack on MDC continues in Epworth – government responds

ZANU-PF militia continued beating suspected MDC members yesterday in Epworth, a poor township on the edge of Harare, focusing on Wards 4, 6 and 7.

In Ward 7, the beatings are systematic – the militia are going from door to door.  The militia base at Mai Mawire has compiled a list of known MDC members in Epworth which is being used to locate the homes of these on the list.  There are claims from some victims that the police are using the same list to target suspected MDC members.

The Co-Ministers for Home Affairs received a report on the political violence in Epworth on Sunday evening and decided to tour Epworth to hear the stories and to see for themselves the extent of the violence, to visit the injured - and the injurers.

The objective is to stop the violence and to begin the process of both sides learning together to develop their community for the benefit of all.

The names of the injured, those in hiding and those who have a story to tell about these events are being compiled for a correct record. 

Ward 3 Councillor Gift July was the first to be badly assaulted when the beatings started around 1pm on Sunday with the arrival of six vehicles full of ZANU-PF youth militia at an MDC rally called to discuss the proposed new constitution..  Some of the vehicles were pick- ups from the high-density Harare suburb of Mbare.

Amos Midzi, the former ZANU-PF member of parliament and former diplomat, was identified as involved in these terrible events in Epworth on Sunday. Midzi is the chairperson of the ZANU-PF Harare Province.

An additional militia base has been re-opened at Donoro in Ward 2, Harare South constituency. The militia bases established last week in Epworth constituency are located in the following wards:  Ward 7 - Garakara and Mai Mawire, Ward 6 – Makandira, Ward 5 – Kadumbu and Solani, Ward 4 - Reuben.

For further comment: Peter Murphy     0418 312 301




SEARCH Foundation

Level 3, 110 Kippax St,

Surry Hills NSW 2010, Australia

Ph: +61 2 9211 4164; Fax: +61 2 9211 1407

ABN 63 050 096 976


promoting democracy, social justice and environmental sustainability





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ZUJ Elections To Be Monitored

23/02/2010 01:37:00

Harare, February 23, 2010 -The re-run of the disputed Zimbabwe Union of
Journalists(ZUJ) elections will be supervised by the Zimbabwe Election
Support Network (ZESN) in the presence of various non-governmental

The election is scheduled for Bulawayo on February 27.

ZUJ National Coordinator Chaka Bosha told Radio VOP: "We have invited ZESN
to conduct the election for transparency's sake. The election will also be
observed by Crisis Coalition of Zimbabwe and National Association of
Non-Governmental Organisations, among other NGOs.This has been caused by a
wide out-cry from members who said the last election was flawed."

The re-run will cost the cash-strapped ZUJ USd  8 000.

"We are going to do this because we want to improve the image of the union
which has been tarnished by some members who claim that the December
election was fraudulently done. These allegations have cost us our
reputation. It has affected donor confidence in the running of the union,
with most of them (donors) saying they will engage us after we have put our
house in order," said Bosha.

ZUJ last December held an election in Bulawayo resulting in Sunday News
assignments editor Dumisani Sibanda being elected the Union President. Some
journalists who were vying for union positions claim that  they were not
given chance to campaign.

ZUJ Secretary General Foster Dongozi said:  "We have been democratic enough
to agree ...a re-run. The union has no funding at the moment  with donors
holding on to their funds till a legitimate executive is elected, and we
can not  afford postponing the election. Union business should not be
compromised by few people who are forwarding their individual interests."

"The election is  going to take  place as scheduled and those  who are
saying  is has  been postponed  are candidates  who have  chickened
out of the race, after realizing that  they do not  have the needed support
from journalists whom they aspire to represent," said Dongozi in an

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Wide support for POSA amendments

February 22, 2010

By Our Correspondent

HARARE - Zimbabweans have overwhelmingly welcomed proposed amendments to the
Public Order and Security Act (POSA), which seek to curtail the powers of
Zimbabwe's partisan police force.

Dozens of individuals and representatives of civic organisations who
converged at a community centre in Harare Monday to give their views on
amendments to the repressive law said they felt the law should in fact be

Irene Petras, director of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights said the law
had been used selectively by the state on citizens opposed to the

"POSA is one of the many examples of how repressive legislation has been
used and selectively applied against human rights defenders," she said.

Petras, whose organisation has spent the last few years defending
politicians and individuals who have been persecuted under the law, was
among Harare based civic organizations who took time out to air their views
about the amendments to the law.

The proposed amendments were presented in a Private Member's Bill sponsored
last year by Innocent Gonese (mainstream MDC) the MP for Mutare Central.

The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs and Defence, chaired
by Glen View legislator Paul Madzore is conducting countrywide

"POSA has been used against legitimate political activists in order to
suppress legitimate public decent and criticism which is part of the rights
which citizens have in order to participate in the affairs of their
government," said Petras.

Short of its repeal, she said, the ZLHR was emphatically behind its
amendment which she said was positive incremental change.

Precious Hombera, who works for a women's rights lobby group, said the law
denied women them the opportunity to discuss issues affecting them and those
to do with their government.

"The Act is more repressive to women," she said.

"Women have less social space to interact and discuss other issues
especially issues of governance compared to our male counterparts who can
meet in beer halls and social clubs. Spaces for women are so limited."

Paddington Japajapa, president of the Zimbabwe Indigenous Economic
Empowerment organization described POSA as "draconian and not user-friendly".

He praised Gonese for introducing the Bill.

"POSA is infringing upon people's rights," he said.  "It was enacted to fix
certain individuals within the opposition parties. The law was never meant
to protect the larger majority of Zimbabweans. It was meant to serve the
political interests of a few individuals.

"So any law that is so vindictive has no space in our statute books and must
be amended if not completely repealed."

One Wakatama Munodawafa, a war veteran, said the law was as repressive as
its predecessor law, the Law and Order Maintenance Act (LOMA). LOMA was used
by the colonial regime to oppress blacks.

Some said the overzealous application of the law had reduced Zimbabwe to a
police state.

The repressive law has routinely been used by President Robert Mugabe's
government to prevent opposition political parties and ordinary Zimbabweans
viewed as critical to Zanu PF's controversial rule from enjoying their basic

The law places inordinately wide and sweeping powers in the hands of the

The police have routinely prevented political parties and civic
organizations from organizing meetings by citing such flimsy reasons as that
they had no manpower to monitor the meetings.

Some organizations had often resorted to holding their meetings in
neighbouring countries after being routinely denied permission to hold their
meetings locally.

In the Bill, Gonese seeks to transfer the powers to prohibit a public
gathering from the police to magistrates.

The Bill also seeks to redefine a public gathering so as to apply only to
those gatherings which pose a threat to public safety.

The regulating authority, in terms of the Bill, will only be able to apply
to a judicial officer to impose conditions on a public gathering, rather
than arbitrarily restrict peaceful protests.

The fact that since its enactment in 2002, there has not been a single
conviction in relation to a case brought on the strength of the harsh
provisions of POSA is evidence of the failure by the police to correctly
interpret and apply the law.

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Sanctions were caused by ZANU PF – Dabengwa

By Ngqwele Dube

Published: February 23, 2010

Bulawayo   - ZAPU leader Dumiso Dabengwa says Zanu-PF’s policies of seizing
farms and forcing foreign firms to cede majority shareholdings locals is
counterproductive and mounts to self-imposition of sanctions on the country.

Addressing Zapu supporters at a packed Lobengula Hall on Saturday in
Zimbabwe’s second capital city Bulawayo, Dabengwa said financial and
targeted sanctions imposed on the country were caused by Zanu-PF’s
controversial policies.

He said no foreigner, even from Zanu-PF’s so-called friendly countries from
the East would invest in a country where laws required them to be minority
shareholders in their own firms.

Dabengwa said it was worrying that the farm seizures have resumed for the
few remaining white farmers, some of who had already had their farms
extensively reduced during the previous land resettlement. He said the
proposed new law which forces foreign-owned firms to surrender 51 percent of
their equity to locals was counterproductive.

“Farmers who had invested so much capital, and in some cases had found
international partners, were just evicted by someone who just had to bring
an offer letter for the land from the government. Now they are targeting
mines and businesses through what they call indigenization. Who would invest
his or her money so that they could become a minority shareholder? We put
ourselves and the country under sanctions due to our bad policies,” he said.

Dabengwa added: “Even the Russians and Chinese would not invest under those
circumstances. In effect we have imposed sanctions on ourselves. We must
remove the sanctions we put on ourselves first before expecting the EU and
the US to remove theirs.”

Zanu-PF has, through the minister of indigenization, Saviour Kasukuwere,
enacted a law that forces foreign owned firms to cede 51 percent of their
equity to locals.

Dabengwa said the forthcoming Zapu congress would debate and come up with
investor and people friendly policies.

“We need a win-win policy framework for both foreign investors and locals.
Indigenization must be done in a manner that is not self-destructive or for
a few people.”

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Zimbabwe's white farmers struggle to build city lives

HARARE, Feb 23 (AFP)

Ten years into Zimbabwe's land reforms, lifelong farmer John Browning has
found a job at a food company's factory in Harare, supervising the night

"At 73, you should not be working at night," Browning said. "But we don't
have a choice, do we?"

He lost his only source of income when the government seized his land, and
after years of hyperinflation his pension is now worthless.

"There is nothing worse than having no money," he said, but added: "You
can't be bitter. It eats you up."

Over the last decade, more than 4,000 of Zimbabwe's 4,500 white farmers have
been chased from their land by President Robert Mugabe's most militant
supporters: self-styled veterans of the 1970s liberation war against the
white-minority Rhodesian government.

Older farmers have struggled to put their lives back on track, but younger
ones have built new lives in Zimbabwe's towns and cities, where they have
become mechanics, butchers or businessmen.

"A lot of us came to that stage where you just have to shut yourselves off
from what happened in the past. We need to move on," said Hendrik Olivier,
head of the Commercial Farmers Union (CFU), which represents mainly white

John Saunders remembers the terrifying day when war veterans, after
occupying his farm for a year and a half, threatened to take his
five-year-old daughter Carolyn.

"The intention was to keep her hostage as long as I would not pay them," he

"Twenty loyal workers took Carolyn in my Land Rover. At that time a
policeman arrived. I asked him for help. He gave us 10 minutes to get off.
So we get into our vehicles and left."

In late February 2000, Mugabe unleashed his supporters on the white farms,
which still accounted for about 70 percent of Zimbabwe's farmland.

Officially, the campaign was intended to redress colonial-era inequities.

But days earlier, on February 14, 2000, voters had for the first time turned
against Mugabe, in rejecting a constitution that would have strengthened the
president's powers.

Branded as the "enemy" by Mugabe, whites became the scapegoats of a
government losing its popular support.

Despite the attacks, most white farmers decided to stay in Zimbabwe, even
though those still on their farms continue to suffer intimidation and abuse.

"I don't regard any other country as being my home," Saunders said. "This
country is in our bones. I just could not live anywhere else."

"Once in town, farther from the war veterans, we had more distance and I was
able to realize my priorities. I had no other qualification but farming," he

He believes that most Zimbabweans didn't support the violent land reforms,
which decimated food production and left the nation dependent on foreign

"The basic people of this country are nice, it's the politicians who created
a clique," Saunders said, adding that support from the white community was
crucial to allowing his family to stay.

He rents a home for a minimal amount from a friend who left for abroad. The
community has also helped find jobs.

For two years, Saunders has worked for a German group to help train poor
black farmers living on communal lands.

Browning, who calls himself "unemployable," was recruited by a former farmer
who went into business at a food company.

But to really turn the page, Olivier said the question of compensation
needed to be settled.

Since the farm seizures began, the agriculture-dependent economy has
collapsed. The population has become dependent on international food aid for
survival and many of the farmers who once fed the country face destitution.

In November, the CFU said that most of the displaced white farmers were,
like most Zimbabweans, surviving on little more than one dollar a day.

The government had said it would compensate them for property lost when they
were forced off their farms, but not for their land. In practice, this never
occurred and the country's economic woes have ruled out any hope it will.

"One of the sad things, farmers have still not received compensation," he
said. "It is the final thing that is keeping the farmers from forgetting
everything that happened."

"A lot of farmers say if you can't allow me to farm, then compensate me and
I will move on."

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Bulawayo group wins Oscar nomination

Nominated ... Eight of the nine members of Liyana

23/02/2010 00:00:00
by Lunga Sibanda
Proud ... Prudence Mabhena

A NINE-PIECE music group from Bulawayo is proving that disability is not inability after landing an Oscar nomination for Short Documentary.

Music by Prudence is a short film produced by Prudence Mabhena, the lead singer of Liyana.

Liyana's music was described by one American magazine as "a fresh, bright sound led by a singer with the voice of an angel."

The 35-minute documentary charts the band's life story, with special focus on the 22-year-old Prudence who was born disabled and suffered rejection by her family at an early age.

The group, who got together at Bulawayo's King George IV School for Children, was discovered by Zimbabwe-born Leslie Goldwasser. Now based in the United States, Goldwasser liked their music and Prudence's life story while on a visit to Zimbabwe, leading to the group's first tour of the United States where they performed at the Apollo Theatre in December last year.

While in the United States, they befriended rocker Sting and the widow of John Lennon -- Yoko Ono -- who recorded a song with them at the John Lennon Bus.

Speaking by telephone from Bulawayo, Prudence told of her pride this week, but revealed she would NOT be at the March 7 Academy Awards because her American visa expired.

She said: "I am very proud about the nomination, it's the best thing ever to happen to me. The whole group is excited about this and we hope we will win.

"I wish I could be there for the awards, but my American visa expired and there is no time left."

Each member of Liyana was born with or developed a serious physical disability since birth, and seven members of the group move around with the aid of a wheelchair, including Prudence.

Music by Prudence is up against China's Unnatural Disaster: The Tears of Sichuan Province, The Last Campaign of Governor Booth Gardner, The Last Truck: Closing of a General Motors Plant and Rabbit à la Berlin.

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Mugabe's U.N. Helpers

    * FEBRUARY 22, 2010, 4:12 P.M. ET

Did the United Nations ignore Zimbabwe's 2008 cholera outbreak to please


Over the last 10 years, Robert Mugabe's government has destroyed Zimbabwe's
economy and eviscerated freedom in the country. In addition to the many
victims of state-sponsored violence, hundreds of thousands of people died as
a result of avoidable hunger and sickness.

Yet most African leaders either passively watched or actively supported the
criminal regime in Harare. A trial that will start today in Kenya may show
that the U.N. has also betrayed the people of Zimbabwe by cozying up to the
dictator and hiding the truth about one of the worst episodes in that
African country.

Georges Tadonki, who heads the U.N. Office for the Coordination of
Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Harare, alleges that the top U.N. official in
Zimbabwe at the time knowingly ignored the 2008 cholera outbreak in the
country. By the time the U.N. finally intervened in late December 2008, Mr.
Tadonki told the press, there were already "over 4,000 deaths, more than
100,000 people sick of cholera and millions [of] people affected directly or
indirectly not only in Zimbabwe, but also in neighboring South Africa,
Zambia, and Mozambique."

According to Roger Bate of the American Enterprise Institute, "the mortality
rate was at least four times, maybe five times, higher than one would
expect-even allowing for the parlous state of the Zimbabwean health-care
system. The mortality rate was similar to the outbreaks before the discovery
of the transmission process in mid-19th century."

The crisis started when the Mugabe government nationalized Zimbabwe's water
supply in 2005 but soon ran out of money to maintain the infrastructure and
treat the water with sodium sulfate. In 2008 the government shut down the
water supply altogether, reducing the people in the urban areas to scavenge
for water in ponds and sewers. Since the Zimbabwean health-care system
collapsed along with the rest of the economy, the U.N. effectively became
responsible for providing the necessary aid to tackle the emerging health

However, Mr. Tadonki says that Agostinho Zacarias, who headed the overall
U.N. mission in Zimbabwe at the time and was since promoted to another U.N.
position, refused to give the go-ahead for anti-cholera measures even though
Mr. Tadonki and his staff advised him that an outbreak of the disease was
very likely. Moreover, Mr. Tadonki says, the U.N. made only minimal efforts
to galvanize the international assistance needed to arrest the spread of the
disease between its outbreak in August 2008 and early December 2008. Those
four months were crucial because cholera is highly contagious, has an
incubation period between one and two days and can kill soon afterwards.

Mr. Tadonki claims that the U.N.'s refusal to rapidly move on cholera was
not simple negligence but politically motivated. According to Mr. Tadonki,
the U.N. didn't want to anger the host government, which was trying to
convince the world in general and Africa in particular that all was well in
Zimbabwe. The government's official line-spelled out by Mugabe as late as
December 2008-was that there was "no cholera." According to Mr. Tadonki, his
former superior, Mr. Zacarias, aligned the U.N. "behind a humanitarian
situation analysis 'acceptable' to [the] government."

The U.N. rewarded Mr. Tadonki's criticism with a threat of dismissal, which
prompted him to sue the U.N. for harassment at the U.N. Dispute Tribunal in
Nairobi, Kenya. International lawyer Robert Amsterdam, famous for defending
the Russian political prisoner Mikhail Khodorkovsky, is Mr. Tadonki's
pro-bono legal counsel.

Did the UN fail to fulfill its mission to protect the people of Zimbabwe out
of political considerations? Did it make matters worse by refusing to
acknowledge the outbreak of the epidemic? Those are some of the questions
that the trial may soon answer.

Mr. Tupy is a policy analyst at the Cato Institute's Center for Global
Liberty and Prosperity.

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Bill Watch 6/2010 of 22nd February 2010 [Commentary on Indigenisation Regulations]

BILL Watch 6/2010

[22nd February 2010]

The Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment (General) Regulations

 [Statutory Instrument 21/2010]


These regulations, which were gazetted on 29th January, have caused consternation in many quarters.  Economists and business commentators fear they will discourage foreign investment at a time when Zimbabwe desperately needs it, and some foreigners who were intending to invest in the country have indicated that the regulations are a significant obstacle to their plans.

The Prime Minister claimed that neither he nor the Cabinet had seen the regulations before they were published; they were therefore null and void.  He assured business executives that they would not be punished if they failed to comply with the law.  The Minister responsible for the regulations, on the other hand, said he had consulted widely before preparing the regulations and that they had indeed been considered by the Cabinet.  In any event, he said, the regulations merely implemented the indigenisation programme set out in the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act, which had already been passed by Parliament.   

Last week Acting Prime Minister Khupe told an investment conference that the responsible Minister and the Minister of Economic Planning and Investment Promotion had agreed “to return to the drawing board” on the regulations.  But public statements of this sort, even by the Prime Minister or Acting Prime Minister, do not unmake the regulations.  The latest statements by the President that they are “irreversible” and the responsible Minister that there is “no going back” make it clear that at best there may be amendments to the regulations to take account of concerns.  

Legally, these regulations will remain on the statute book until they are properly repealed by another statutory instrument gazetted by the Minister of Youth Development and Economic Empowerment.

Were the regulations validly promulgated?

The regulations were made in terms of section 21 of the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act, which allows the Minister to make regulations providing for “all matters … which, in his or her opinion, are necessary or convenient to be provided for in order to carry out or give effect to [the] Act.”  There is nothing in section 21 of the Act obliging the Minister to consult the Prime Minister or the President before making the regulations;  all he has to do is consult an advisory board called the National Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Board.  While it is the general practice for all regulations which are likely to have a significant impact on society to be submitted to the Cabinet Committee on Legislation before being promulgated, and for really important regulations to be considered by the Cabinet, this is merely a practice and not a legal obligation. The Inter-party Political Agreement, as embodied in Schedule 8 to the Constitution, states that the Prime Minister must “ensure that … Ministers develop appropriate implementation plans to give effect to the policies decided by Cabinet”, and obliges Ministers to “report to the Prime Minister on all issues relating to the implementation of such policies and plans” [Article 20.1.4(e)].  But the Agreement does not make the Prime Minister’s consent a prerequisite for the publication of regulations [although in the spirit of the GPA, the Minister should have brought the regulations to the PM].  If a Minister publishes regulations in accordance with an Act of Parliament, therefore, but fails to keep the Prime Minister properly briefed, the failure does not invalidate the regulations.  The Prime Minister’s assurance that people will not be punished if they disobey the regulations is legally invalid, because he has no power to exempt anyone from compliance with the law.

The problem is that the Act, passed when ZANU-PF had a majority in Parliament, gives the Minister inordinately broad powers to make regulations, and he has exercised them to the full, at a time that is most unpropitious for the recovery of the economy and damaging to the inclusive government.  This is a political issue which must be resolved politically.  Meanwhile, the regulations will remain in force.  

What do the regulations say?

Application of Regulations, and Definitions:  The regulations apply to all businesses in Zimbabwe with an asset value of or above US $500 000 [sections 3 & 4].  The term “business” is defined in the Act as meaning companies, associations, syndicates and partnerships whose object is the acquisition of gain;  effectively this covers everything other than literary and charitable associations.  The term “asset value” is not defined, however, and is not at all clear:  does it mean net assets, share capital [issued or nominal] or what?

The term “indigenous Zimbabwean”, as defined in the Act, is also unclear.  It means anyone who, before Independence, was subjected to unfair discrimination [presumably in Zimbabwe] on the ground of their race, and includes a descendant of such a person.  So more people are covered than would ordinarily be regarded as indigenous Zimbabweans:  Indians and Chinese suffered discrimination before Independence, so they and their descendants must be regarded as indigenous Zimbabweans for the purpose of the Act and the regulations.

Businesses Must Submit Forms to Minister by 15th April:  Under section 4 of the regulations, all businesses with an asset value of more than US $500 000 must send the Minister a form [which is set out in the regulations] showing the extent to which they are indigenised and, if they are not majority-owned by indigenous Zimbabweans, their plans for indigenisation;  these plans must conform with guidelines provided in the form [though in fact there aren’t any such guidelines].  Existing businesses must submit the form to the Minister by the 15th April but it is not a criminal offence to fail to submit the form — if a business fails to do so, the Minister can send it a form and order the business to complete it;  only if the business fails to comply with the Minister’s order will it commit an offence [section 4(4)].

Minister’s Response to Forms:  Having received a form from a business, the Minister has 45 days within which either to approve the business’s indigenisation plans or to make his approval dependent on the plans’ conformity with a notice which the Minister is supposed to publish in the Gazette before the 1st March 2011 [see section 5(1) & (4)].  Since the Minister has not published such a notice, and since there are no guidelines in the form indicating how indigenisation plans are to be prepared, the effect of the regulations is that the Minister must approve all plans submitted to him.  That may not be what was intended, but it is certainly the effect of section 5.  And if the Minister makes no “positive response” [whatever that means] to a plan that has been submitted to him, the plan is deemed to have been approved [section 5(5)].

Indigenisation when Businesses Merged or Split Up:  Section 6 deals with the indigenisation of businesses that are merged, where the merger falls within the purview of the Competition Commission under the Competition Act.  In such cases the merger is subject to the Minister’s approval, which will be granted if he considers that it conforms to targets set out in an approved indigenisation plan.

Section 7, similarly, deals with the splitting up of businesses whose asset value exceeds US $500 000.  The resultant businesses will have to conform to indigenisation targets set out in a plan approved by the Minister.

Indigenisation when Controlling Interest Relinquished:  If a person or company that controls a business whose asset value exceeds US $500 000 relinquishes control over the business, the transaction will have to be approved by the Minister, and the approval will be conditional on the transaction conforming with indigenisation targets set out in an approved indigenisation plan [section 8].

Effect on Investment Licence Applications:  Under section 9, anyone who “projects or proposes an investment for which an investment licence is required in terms of the Zimbabwe Investment Authority Act” will have to obtain the Minister’s approval before obtaining such a licence, and “any investor requiring a licence in terms of the Zimbabwe Investment Authority Act” will have to obtain the Minister’s approval before investing in sectors of the economy which are listed in the Third Schedule [these sectors include agriculture, transport, “wholesale or retail trade”, barber shops, advertising agencies and milk processing — it is a rather disparate list].  Although the section does not say so, one must assume that the Minister’s approval will be conditional upon satisfactory provision for indigenisation.  The problem with this section is that it presupposes that investors need a licence from the Investment Authority before they can invest in Zimbabwe.  That is not so:  there is no such requirement.  As a result, people can invest in any sector in Zimbabwe without complying with the regulations, so long as they avoid obtaining a licence from the Investment Authority.  If, however, their investment creates a business worth more than US $500 000, they will have to prepare an indigenisation plan in accordance with section 4 of the regulations.

Procurement Contracts:  Much the same anomaly occurs in section 12, which deals with the sub-contracting of procurement contracts.  Under the section, if goods or services are obtained from a supplier under the Procurement Act and the supplier is not controlled by indigenous Zimbabweans, the supplier must subcontract to competent indigenous businesses — but only if the supplier “is required by the Act [i.e. the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act ] to subcontract to businesses whose controlling interests are held by indigenous Zimbabweans.”  The problem is that the Act itself does not require anyone to subcontract to indigenous Zimbabweans;  it merely allows regulations to impose such a requirement [see section 3(1)(g) and (4) of the Act].  Hence there is no situation in which section 12 can operate, and parties to procurement contracts can subcontract freely to indigenous or non-indigenous contractors.

Regular Reports to Minister:  Under section 13, businesses will have to satisfy the Minister annually that they are indigenising in accordance with the law.

Official Database of Would-be Indigenous Partners:  Under section 15 the Minister will establish a database of people who want indigenous Zimbabweans to acquire an interest in their businesses, and of indigenous Zimbabweans who wish to “partner” those people.  There is no provision allowing the Minister to compel businesses to take on particular indigenous Zimbabweans, and there is no such provision in the Act.  It is not correct, therefore, to say that the Minister will be able to foist politically-acceptable “partners” upon reluctant businesses.

Can the Regulations be Legally Challenged?

Constitutional Validity:  Are the regulations constitutionally valid?  They are certainly discriminatory, in that they favour indigenous over non-indigenous Zimbabweans and the discrimination is based on race.  On the other hand, they are intended to implement an affirmative action programme for the advancement of people who were previously disadvantaged by unfair discrimination, and as such they are authorised by section 23(3)(g) of the Constitution.  

It might be argued that the regulations contravene section 21 of the Constitution, which protects freedom of association.  That freedom extends to commercial activities such as the right to form companies and partnerships.  Partners have a fiduciary relationship with one another and it is obviously important that they should have the greatest freedom to choose their fellow-partners.  Much the same applies to company directors.  A law which compels partners and directors to take someone into their partnership or company on the ground of that person’s race, or on the ground that that person had previously suffered unfair discrimination, undoubtedly limits their freedom of association.  This argument has some merit, but it is unlikely that a Zimbabwean court would adopt it in order to declare the regulations unconstitutional.

Unreasonable penalties?  There is one further ground on which the regulations could be challenged:  the penalties prescribed in them are out of all proportion to the conduct sought to be penalised.  In every case, whether the prohibited conduct consists in the making of a false statement or merely failing to submit a form to the Minister, the penalty is the same:  a fine of US $2 000 or five years’ imprisonment, or both.  That is the maximum penalty the Minister is allowed to prescribe in the regulations, and by prescribing it in all cases he has laid himself open to this challenge.  


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