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Mugabe militia set up torture camps: Group

by Own Correspondent Wednesday 24 February 2010

HARARE - Militant supporters of President Robert Mugabe have set up torture
camps in some parts of Zimbabwe and stepped up a campaign to intimidate
villagers to back the controversial Kariba draft constitution as the basis
of a new governance charter for Zimbabwe, a human rights group has said.

The ZimRights said armed militia have set up camps in parts of Mashonaland
West, Midlands and Manicland provinces.

It said the re-emergency of torture bases was a threat to the stop-start
efforts to write a new constitution and to the national healing programme
meant to promote reconciliation among Zimbabweans after years of political
violence and strife.

ZimRights, which monitors rights violations in the country, said at the
weekend: "There have been reports of torture bases that have been set up in
Nyanga, Gokwe, Chegutu and Makoni.

"They are said to be manned by armed personnel and youth militia. Some
villagers have been threatened and intimidated if they denounce the Kariba
draft as the reference document in the constitution making process."

The Kariba draft secretly authored in 2007 by Mugabe's ZANU PF and the two
former opposition MDC formations of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and
Deputy Premier Arthur Mutambara largely leaves untouched immense powers that
Mugabe continues to enjoy even after formation of a power-sharing government
with his former foes.

ZANU PF, which controls enough parliamentary seats to block passage of a new
constitution, has previously said it will not support any draft constitution
that is not based on the Kariba document.

The proposed new constitution is part of a September 2008 power-sharing deal
between Zimbabwe's main political parties that gave birth to the country's
coalition government February 2009.

But the credibility of the constitutional reform exercise has been tainted
by reports of alleged intimidation by Zimbabwe army soldiers and ZANU PF
supporters who want force villagers' to support the Kariba draft as the
foundation of a new constitution.

Zimbabweans hope a new constitution will guarantee human rights, strengthen
the role of Parliament and curtail the president's powers, as well as
guaranteeing civil, political and media freedoms.

The new constitution will replace the current Lancaster House Constitution
written in 1979 before independence from Britain. The charter has been
amended 19 times since independence in 1980. Critics say the majority of the
amendments have been to further entrench Mugabe and ZANU PF's hold on
power. - ZimOnline

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Mugabe’s Divided Party Gears For Election

24/02/2010 05:17:00

Harare, February 24, 2010 - As parties in Zimbabwe’s troubled inclusive
government continue to haggle over key reforms spelt out in the global
political agreement, President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF party is reportedly
secretly readying for another violent campaign amid growing prospects of
fresh elections next year.

Despite the 86-year-old leader’s recent utterances that the shaky coalition
was advancing well -- thus reducing prospects of an election -- senior
sources in Zanu PF confirmed that the party was now preparing for the
holding of elections in 2011. The idea was initially suggested by South
African President Jacob Zuma, but strongly opposed by Mugabe and his main
partner in government, Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan
Tsvangirai, who became Prime Minister under a power sharing deal signed in
September 2008 and implemented in February 2009.

The party is reported to have already revived its notorious bases used in
the aftermath of the 2008 harmonised election, which were disguised
as information centres. In addition, a new set of party membership cards –
believed to be ranging in the millions – are also being printed.

Zanu PF’s new spokesperson, Rugare Gumbo and political commissar Webster
Shamu were not immediately available, but sources in the former ruling party
confirmed there were “serious preparations for possible elections next year”.
MDC officials involved in the constitution making process have also
confirmed that the Zanu PF bases were now causing confusion in the rural

“The party is currently on a massive mobilisation drive across the country,”
said the source.

“More than one million cards are currently being printed, and the party is
working on ways of ensuring that every person, especially in the rural
areas, has a membership card. The mobilisation will begin with the
distribution of cards, after which grassroots structures will be

“There is no official position yet, but the general consensus is that the
party has to prepare for elections,” said our source, a Zanu PF central
committee member.

“This appears to be a better option than to give in to the demands of the
MDC formations that the party should surrender key posts of Reserve Bank
Governor and Attorney General, as well as provincial governorships.”

The source however said the new campaign had been shattered by the apparent
lack of support from the Zanu PF faction aligned to Defence
Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, who is the party’s secretary for Legal Affairs.
Mnangagwa is widely believed to have masterminded Zanu PF’s
comeback in 2008 after losing the first round to the MDC. This time around,
his team is said to be reluctant to be very active in campaigning for Mugabe
after he snubbed him for a more senior appointment in the politburo.
Mnangagwa was widely tipped to take over as Zanu PF’s secretary for
administration ahead of the incumbent Didymus Mutasa, who angered the party’s
leadership by expressing interest in the national chairmanship of the party.

During a debate on the new constitution early this month, Constitutional
Parliamentary Committee (COPAC) co-chairperson Douglas Mwonzora confirmed
that bases were already being set up in some areas.

“We have received reports that bases are being set up … we condemn such kind
of violence unreservedly regardless of where it is coming from. We call upon
parties to dismantle these,” said Mwonzora during the debate, organised by
the Mass Public Opinion Institute (MPOI).

Zanu PF director of information, Steven Chidavanyika – who also took part at
the debate – did not deny the allegation.

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Mugabe’s party rallies against US sanctions

By KITSEPILE NYATHI, NATION CorrespondentPosted Wednesday, February 24 2010
at 20:09

HARARE, Wednesday

Youths from President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF party today marched through
the streets of Zimbabwe’s capital demanding that Western sanctions against
the country be lifted.

The placard waving youths staged peaceful demonstrations outside the United
States Embassy and the headquarters of the Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.

Sanctions imposed by Western governments on President Mugabe’s inner circle
and some few state companies remain one of the biggest threats to the one
year-old inclusive government that has been marred by endless squabbles.

Zanu PF says MDC campaigned for the sanctions and must therefore lobby for
their removal.

Do not affect

The US maintains that the sanctions do not affect ordinary Zimbabweans and
were meant to encourage democratic reforms.

“The protesters did not present any specific demands to the Embassy,” the US
embassy said in a statement.

“The US Embassy believes in the right of all Zimbabweans to freely gather
and peacefully express their opinions.”
At the Zanu PF headquarters, the youths were addressed by various party
leaders who took turns to denigrate the Prime Minister and his party.

The European Union last week extended by a year a travel ban and the asset
freeze on Mr Mugabe and 196 other individuals accused of human rights
violations. Mr Tsvangirai has said the inclusive government has not done
enough to warrant the lifting of the sanctions. But he has encouraged the
easing of sanctions against state companies to award the progress made by
the unity government.

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ZANU PF youth protest against sanctions & ‘pirate’ radio

By Alex Bell
24 February 2010

Exiled radio stations, labelled pirates by the Robert Mugabe regime have
once again come under attack from ZANU PF during a protest march by hundreds
of youth members through the streets of Harare on Wednesday.

The group, which had been bussed in from all over the country, were also
protesting against the targeted sanctions still imposed on the Robert Mugabe
regime. Chanting slogans and waving placards, the group of youths marched
through the city to ZANU PF’s provincial headquarters, stopping along the
way to demonstrate outside the offices of Finance Minister Tendai Biti as
well as the US embassy.  They were eventually addressed by party leader
Mugabe at ZANU PF’s headquarters before dispersing later in the day.

SW Radio Africa correspondent Simon Muchemwa reported Wednesday that the
youths waved placards denouncing both ‘pirate’ radio stations and the
sanctions. The placards read: ‘sanctions are evil,’ ‘no to sanctions,’ ‘stop
the evil by pirate radios,’ and ‘MDC please stop the pirate radios.’
Muchemwa said that most onlookers were of the opinion that the youths were
under clear ZANU PF instruction to make the two issues public, ‘to mask the
real problems that are facing the government.’

“The majority of people are in agreement that these measures are targeted,
and not responsible for the country’s collapse,” Muchemwa said, adding: “The
sanctions issue is being used to overshadow real problems.”

The European Union has ratified its decision to extend the targeted
sanctions by another year, amending them slightly to de-list nine companies
and six names of mainly deceased people. The EU cited a lack of progress in
the unity government, which has remained unofficially deadlocked over
outstanding issues in the Global Political Agreement. The move has been met
with mixed reaction, with ZANU PF loyalists slamming the West’s ‘racist’
move, while campaigners for real change in Zimbabwe have said the measures
should be strengthen further.

Meanwhile ZANU PF’s position on a truly free media was clearly demonstrated
when photojournalist Andrison Manyere was apprehended and stopped from
taking photographs of the demonstration. His camera was seized, along with
the cellphones of a number of onlookers who were trying to record the march.
Muchemwa and all other independent journalists were also barred from the
ZANU PF headquarters where Mugabe addressed the protesting youths.

Last week, a leading press watchdog criticised the unity government for not
fulfilling its promise of media reform in Zimbabwe. The Committee to Protect
Journalists detailed in a recent report that ZANU PF loyalists have
continued to harass, detain, and attack journalists. Since the coalition was
formed in February last year, there have been arbitrary arrests and
detentions of journalists, as well the imposition of exorbitant fees for
visiting foreign journalists and local journalists working for foreign


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Zanu PF youths detain freelance journalist

ZLHR LogoZLHR Press Release - 24 Feb: Some ZANU PF youths on Wednesday 24 February 2010 detained freelance photo-journalist Andrison Manyere for filming a demonstration held in the capital, Harare.

Manyere was seized at the corner of Fourth Street and Jason Moyo Avenue whilst covering the demonstration organized by the ZANU PF youths to protest against the imposition and maintenance of targeted travel sanctions on the party's leaders.

Manyere was detained at the ZANU PF provincial offices near the Fourth Street bus terminus for about 15 minutes and accused of taking video footage on behalf of some western media organisations. The ZANU PF supporters reprimanded him for not seeking their permission before taking pictures of the demonstration.

Manyere, who was handed over to some Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) officials, who were at the party's offices by the ZANU PF youths, was forced to delete his film footage, which he had taken earlier on before being released.

Human rights lawyers from ZLHR had already launched an organised search for Manyere before they located him. Manyere's lawyer Tawanda Zhuwarara of ZLHR is working on filing a complaint of kidnapping to the police.

The ZANU PF youths, who marched from their provincial offices to the party's national headquarters also picketed outside the compound of the US Embassy.

The youths were addressed at the ZANU PF national headquarters by ZANU PF spokesman Rugare Gumbo, the party's Secretary for Youth Affairs and his deputy Edison Chakanyuka and Amos Midzi, the Zanu PF chairman for Harare Province.

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Manyere Freed

24/02/2010 15:34:00

ZANU PF youths on Wednesday freed freelance photo-journalist Andrison
Manyere after detaining him at their offices for allegedly filming a
demonstration held in the capita

Manyere was seized at the corner of Fourth Street and Jason Moyo
Avenue whilst covering the demonstration organized by the ZANU PF
youths to protest against the imposition and maintenance of targeted
travel sanctions on the party's leaders.

The freelance photo-journalist journalist was detained at the ZANU PF
provincial offices near the Fourth Street bus terminus for about 15
minutes and accused of taking video footage on behalf of some western
media organisations. The ZANU PF supporters reprimanded him for not
seeking their permission before taking pictures of the demonstration.

Manyere, who was handed over to some Central Intelligence Organisation
(CIO) officials, who were at the party's offices by the ZANU PF
youths,  deleted his film footage, which he had taken earlier on
before setting him free.

The ZANU PF youths, who marched from their provincial offices to the
party's national headquarters also picketed outside the compound of
the US Embassy.

The youths were addressed at the ZANU PF national headquarters by ZANU
PF spokesman Rugare Gumbo, the party's Secretary for Youth Affairs and
his deputy Edison Chakanyuka and Amos Midzi, the Zanu PF chairman for
Harare Province.

This is the second time that Manyere has been arrested in less than
two months. Last month the police arrested Manyere while covering a
march by WOZA, a pro-democracy group in the capital city and detained
him for almost six hours at Harare Central Police Station and later
freed him without laying any charge against him.
Manyere is currently on bail in a separate matter in which he is being
charged together with six other supporters of Prime Minister Morgan
Tsvangirai party of engaging in acts of insurgence, banditry, sabotage
or terrorism.
The seven are accused of allegedly bombing police stations and a
bridge in Harare in 2008.

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Court blocks fake emails in MDC official’s case

by Tendai Maronga Wednesday 24 February 2010

HARARE – A High Court Judge on Tuesday barred lawyers for a top official of
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC party charged with treason from using
fake emails bearing the name of Attorney General (AG) Johannes Tomana to
cross-examine a state witness.

In a ruling that appeared to cripple efforts by lawyers for MDC treasurer
Roy Bennett to show that email evidence submitted by the state implicating
him could have been forged, the judge said that it was “inappropriate and
not permissible” for the defence to use the AG’s name in a false document in
order to prove a point to court.

“The Attorney General is not a witness in these proceedings. That being the
case, deliberately citing his name or office in a false document might have
the effect of forcing him to give evidence in rebuttal,” ruled Justice
Chinembiri Bhunu.

Defence lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa had produced the fake emails in order to
prove to court that emails can be falsely generated by anyone – a point that
could have derailed attempts by the state to use a bunch of emails allegedly
printed from the computer of gun dealer Peter Michael Hitschmann that
implicate Bennett in treason.

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

After the ruling Mtetwa, armed with a laptop and a printer, continued to
cross-examine Precious Nyasha Matare a government employee who claims to
have printed from Hitschmann’s laptop the emails that implicate Bennett.

Mtetwa showed Matare a set of fake emails some in her own (Matare)’s name
and another bearing the lawyer’s name.

However Matare stuck to her statement that the emails that could get Bennett
convicted were printed from Hitschmann’s laptop computer.

“I am not an expert in computers but there are some differences in the
emails that I printed and this one that I am holding. I printed the emails
while the laptop was online,” said Matare.

A senior police officer also testified on behalf of the state that Matare
had printed the emails from Hitschmann’s computer in his presence, while an
information technology (IT) expert called by state to buttress its case told
the court that the emails were genuine because they bore the names of the
sever from where they were printed.

The IT expert said one could not back date email communications.

Mtwetwa asked the court for time to seek expert opinion before she could
cross-examine the state’s expert witness. The matter continues today.

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.

If found guilty Bennett faces a possible death sentence, a development
certain to plunge Zimbabwe’s shaky coalition government into unprecedented

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Bennett trial: State "expert" exposed

24/02/2010 15:32:00

HARARE - February 24, 2010 - AN information and technology expert-witness
who was called in to buttress the State's assertion that emails printed from
Peter Michael Hitschamann's laptop were authentic in the ongoing trial of
MDC treasurer general Roy Bennett, stunned the court when he revealed that
he was not aware of the term hackers.

Under cross-examination from defence lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa, State's expert
witness Perekai Denchort Mutsetse, who claimed he is a provincial engineer
for Africom based in Mutare, stunned the court when he said he was hearing
the term "computer hacker" in court for the first time in his life.

"There are no such people called hackers. I am actually hearing that term
for the first time here in court.  Where are they trained? I don't know
anything about hackers. They don't exist," said Mutsetse.

"There is no software that can be used to trace the originality or otherwise
of emails. The website that created that email will be shown at the top if
that email is printed out," he said.

Asked whether he was aware that there were people called computer forensic
experts Mutsetse said there were no such people in Zimbabwe but might be
found in South Africa.

Mutsetse, who claimed that he had several certificates on data
communications from the City and Guilds, University of Zimbabwe and Africa
University, was also asked about the EnCase software used by computer
forensic experts to which he responded, "Where did that come from? There is
no such software in Zimbabwe; if it's there you must have brought it in
here. I am not in forensics."

After given the example of the hackers who have been hacking information
from the US Pentagon for years, Mutsetse simply asked "What is the

Mtetwa also told Mutsetse that he was not qualified to be identified as an
expert who can be called in to give an expert testimony with regards to
computers and internet functions.

Instead of responding to most of the questions from the defence lawyers,
Mutsetse continuously asked Mtetwa which led to Justice Chinembiri Bhunu to
intervene and ordered the IT expert to respond.

"The witness' function is to give evidence and the lawyer has to ask
questions and not the other way round," ruled Bhunu

He said they tried to verify the emails by sending messages to the given
addresses but they bounced back to show that they were no longer in

Mutsetse also declined to talk about his position at work arguing that the
company's policies do not allowed them discuss it in public. He also denied
that he only passed 2 O' Level subjects in 1994 according to a CV that he
send to one of his previous employers.

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.

If found guilty Bennett, who is appearing before High Court Judge Justice
Chinembiri Bhunu,  faces a possible death sentence, a development certain to
plunge Zimbabwe's shaky coalition government into unprecedented crisis

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Zimbabwe's Bennett lawyers dispute e-mail evidence

Wed Feb 24, 2010 2:18pm GMT

* Defence says emails don't implicate Bennett

* Expert witness did not see original emails

By Nelson Banya

HARARE, Feb 24 (Reuters) - Lawyers for Zimbabwe politician Roy Bennett
disputed on Wednesday a state witness' evidence backing up emails linking
Bennett to a terrorism plot, saying he was not suitably qualified to declare
their authenticity.

Bennett's arrest and trial has raised tensions within the power-sharing
government formed by Mugabe and his bitter rival, Prime Minister Morgan
Tsvangirai, last February.

A close ally of Tsvangirai, who was nominated for the post of deputy
Agriculture Minister in the new government, Bennett faces a maximum death
sentence if convicted. He, however, denies the charges and says he is being
persecuted by Mugabe's party.

The state's case -- that Bennett planned to fund a 2006 plot to blow up a
major communications link and assassinate key government officials -- hinges
on emails prosecutors say links the former commercial farmer to the crime.

Attorney General Johannes Tomana brought in an IT network technician to give
evidence on the validity of the emails.

But under cross examination, the technician, Perekai Mutsetse, said he had
not seen the original emails, and was only shown printed documents by the

Bennett's lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa, who argued that anyone could have created
the e-mails to implicate Bennett, said the witness had failed to prove that
the emails were genuine.

"Since you did not see the original email, you cannot vouch for their
authenticity," Mtetwa said.

Speaking through a translator, Mutsetse admitted not conducting a forensic
analysis to establish the authenticity of the emails.

"You have absolutely no expertise in the field you claim to be an expert,"
Mtetwa said.

Bennett's alleged co-conspirator, former policeman and arms trader Peter
Hitschmann, has disowned the emails and denied Bennett was involved.
Hitschmann faced the same charges as Bennett in 2006, but was convicted on a
lesser charge of possessing dangerous weapons.

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Controversial board chairs Zim diamond fields

Eyewitness News | 4 Hours Ago

A diamond smuggler, a fraudster and a former mercenary are reported to be on
the board of a South African-backed firm involved in mining Zimbabwe's
Chiadzwa diamond fields.

The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) published some of the names of
those on the board of Canadile miners which was controversially picked to
mine the world's richest diamond field.

These revelations are causing an outcry.

Until now the Zimbabwe mines minister has not said who sits on the board
which was hurriedly picked to mine the Chiadzwa fields last year but Morgan
Tsvangirai's MDC claimed Canadile was made up of "shady individuals and
fugitives from justice".

The party gave names.

They include an Israeli diamond smuggler who spent time in jail in Angola on
smuggling charges, a white former mercenary in Sierra Leone and a man on the
police wanted list in Thailand for massive diamond fraud.

The MDC is asking how these people were entrusted with Zimbabwe's vast
mineral wealth and whether Zimbabweans themselves would ever get a cent of
diamond money.

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ZCTU calls for probe into diamond field

by Own Correspondent Wednesday 24 February 2010

HARARE - Zimbabwe's labour movement has called for an investigation into
mining of diamonds at the controversial Chiadzwa field, amid allegations
that top officials from President Robert Mugabe's ZANU PF party and the
military are looting the gemstones for sale on the international
black-market for precious stones.

Chiadzwa, also known as 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 field.

"The ZCTU (Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions) is advocating for a fully
fledged investigation into the chaos that has surrounded Chiadzwa over the
past years resulting in the deaths of hundreds of innocent Zimbabweans," the
labour movement said in a statement at the weekend.

"It would seem those in authority want to continue to 'dip their fingers
into the cookie jar' and block any form of inquiry into the happenings at
Chiadzwa. Those responsible for the mess must be brought to book because the
country cannot continue being held to ransom by a few fat cats who are bent
on continuing to line their pockets," added the ZCTU.

"Let the diamonds be mined and sold in a transparent manner that will
benefit the country."

The ZCTU call comes after Parliament's mines and energy committee probing
affairs of two firms granted licences by the government to mine the diamonds
in Chiadzwa has unearthed irregularities in the firms' operations.

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 Chiadzwa field.

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 deposits.

The joint ventures were formed as part of measures to bring mining of
diamonds at Chiadzwa in line with standards stipulated by world diamond
industry watchdog, the Kimberley Process (KP) which brings together diamond
trading countries and civic society groups to prevent trade in conflict or
blood diamonds.

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.

Mbada chairman Robert Mhlanga, who is a former Airforce of Zimbabwe
helicopter pilot is known to have close ties with Zimbabwe's military
establishment that is accused of stealing millions of dollars worth of
diamonds from Chiadzwa and offloading them onto the foreign black market for
precious stones.

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 KP has since last year been under pressure to impose an international
ban on Zimbabwe diamonds after a team of investigators from the diamond
watchdog unearthed rights abuses and other irregularities at Chiadzwa.

The southern African nation however escaped a KP ban last November but the
global body gave Harare a June 2010 deadline to make reforms to comply with
its regulations. - ZimOnline

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Russia pulls out of blood diamond deal

Written by John Chimunhu
Wednesday, 24 February 2010 06:14
HARARE - The Zimbabwe-Russia Mining Protocol has been jeopardised after a
Russian company pulled out, citing the controversy surrounding the Marange
blood diamonds as its reason.

Speaking before a parliamentary committee, mines and mineral development
deputy minister, Murisi Zwizwai, said he had been told by minister Obert
Mpofu that the unnamed Russian company had withdrawn because of the murky
nature of the deal.
"He (Mpofu) told me that a Russian company, which had been asked to come and
invest here, refused as it feared that once footprints were traced, it would
be tainted given that the ZMDC was on the sanctions list," Zwizwai said.
The Zim-Russia Mining Protocol was hastily drawn up and signed in April 2008
in Nyanga by the late vice-president Joseph Msika and Russian officials
under a veil of secrecy.
According to Zimbabwean government sources who spoke to ***The Zimbabwean
,the deal was negotiated by defence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa who was, at
that time, head of the Joint Operations Command running the country after
Robert Mugabe lost the presidential elections to Morgan Tsvangirai in March
The purpose of the deal was to facilitate arms purchases that were expected
to keep Mugabe in power after he pulled off a widely-condemned de facto
coup, the sources revealed.
In exchange for diamonds, the Russians were expected to provide Zimbabwe
with heavy weapons and diplomatic support at the United Nations. Russia did
help to keep Zimbabwe off the agenda of the UN Security Council which wanted
to chasten Mugabe for vote rigging. However, Moscow reportedly declined to
supply weapons or get involved in Marange as that would have tainted its own
diamond industry.
Mnangagwa later turned to China for arms but failed to secure heavy weapons.

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Zimbabwe's new constitution delayed until 2011

Feb 24, 2010, 16:44 GMT

Harare - The process of drafting a new Zimbabwean constitution has been
further delayed, meaning the country's new charter is now running seven
months behind schedule.

A co-leader of parliament's constitutional committee Munyaradzi- Paul
Mangwana told journalists in Harare late Tuesday that Zimbabwe would not
have a new constitution before February 2011 at the earliest.

Under the original agreement in September 2008, which formed the basis for
the formation of a coalition government led by President Robert Mugabe and
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai in 2009, the country was supposed to have a
new constitution by July 2010.

'Funding problem has been our main obstacle,' Mangwana said.

The process of canvassing citizens about what they would like to see in the
constitution, which should have been concluded in November last year, would
now only begin in April, Mangwana said.

A referendum on the new document is expected in a year's time, he said.

The co-chairs of the constitutional parliamentary committee are drawn from
each of the feuding parties.

Douglas Mwonzora, the MDC co-chairman, Tuesday accused some politicians of
trying to thwart the process because they were afraid of losing elections.

'Those who are afraid of losing certain positions are endangering the
constitution-making process,' he said.

'The constitution is not about the next elections. It is for posterity,' he

The coalition government is expected to hold elections after enacting a new
constitution although the administration can wait until its mandate expires
in 2013 to call elections.


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Zanu-PF officials booed by supporters

February 24, 2010

By Owen Chikari

MASVINGO - Newly-appointed Zanu-PF politburo members from Masvingo were
publicly subjected to heckling and booing at Gibo Stadium in Triangle over
the weekend for denigrating the mainstream MDC led by Prime Minister Morgan
Tsvangirai. Higher and Tertiary Education Minister Stan Mudenge, Dzikamai
Mavhaire and Kudakwashe Bhasikiti were heckled by people who questioned why
the Zanu-PF politicians were still shouting slogans against Tsvangirai and
his MDC.

The people said such slogans were unnecessary after the formation of an
inclusive government between the parties in February 2008.

Vice-President Joice Mujuru travelled to hand over tractors to farmers in
the Lowveld.

At the occasion Mudenge, Mavhaire and Bhasikiti took turns to shout the
campaign slogan; "Down with Tsvangirai and his MDC".

In the past, such chant would have elicited an immediate repetition of the
slogan from Zanu-PF supporters.

However, the three Zanu-PF politicians were stunned when people gathered for
the occasion refused to respond. Instead, they started heckling the trio,
accusing them of undermining the inclusive government.

"We know people are now in the inclusive government, and denigrating the
Prime Minister is not good," said one of the hecklers.

"You should stop, forthwith, because we will not allow you to denigrate
anyone when there is an inclusive government in this country."

Chaos reigned as hundreds of people joined in, some demanding that the
Zanu-PF leaders should apologise.

Members of the dreaded Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) and
plainclothes policemen had to move in to quell a potentially explosive

Before Vice-President Mujuru had finished her address, scores of people
started to stream out of the stadium in protest over remarks made by
Mudenge, Mavhaire and Bhasikiti.

Mudenge and Mavhaire were recently reappointed to Zanu-PF's highest
decision-making body the politburo by President Robert Mugabe.

Mudenge is secretary for external affairs while Mavhaire now heads the
production portfolio in the Zanu-PF politburo. Bhasikiti was also appointed
to the same body.

Bhasikiti, the Mwenezi East MP, this month caused the premature adjournment
of Parliament after he moved a controversial motion calling on Tsvangirai to
shoulder responsibility for the lifting of restrictive measures imposed on
Mugabe and Zanu-PF officials.

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Seed Co International Sues Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to Recover US$3.6 million Debt

Reports said the Reserve Bank ordered US$13 million in maize seed from Seed
Co. International in 2007 and 2008, paid US$10 million of that, then failed
to pay the balance as promised

Gibbs Dube | Washington 23 February 2010

The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe has been sued by Seed Co. International of
Botswana, one of the largest maize and small grain seed suppliers in the
Southern African region, over the nonpayment of a US$3.6 million debt
outstanding since 2008.

Reports said the central bank ordered maize seed worth more than US$13
million dollars from the firm in 2007 and 2008, paid about US$10 million of
that, then failed to keep its promise to pay the balance gradually in
installments of US$400,000.

Seed Co. filed suit in the High Court last November and has since filed an
application for a default judgment after the RBZ failed to respond to a

Reports said High Court Justice Charles Hungwe is to rule in the matter in
the next few days.

Commentator Bekithemba Mhlanga said that as the central bank is by all
accounts insolvent, the Finance Ministry may be obliged to settle its debts.

Mhlanga said the government may be liable for RBZ debts as the institution
was established by Parliament "even if it is clear that it was undertaking
most of the quasi-fiscal operations on the strength and basis" of
instructions by ZANU-PF heavyweights.

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Police accused of beating suspect to death

February 24, 2010

By Our Correspondent

MUTARE - The police have been accused of beating to death a suspect in their
custody and of attempting to cover the act up by holding on to the
postmortem results.

Wilson Sabun, 37, died after being beaten by four detectives from Mutare
Central Police Station on January 23. Sabun was arrested at his Chikanga
house in Mutare on January 15 on allegations he impersonated a police

Upon his arrest Sabun was taken to Mutare Central Police Station where he
was beaten up until he collapsed.

Sabun's wife, Rebecca Musariri, said after he collapsed her husband was
thrown into holding cells without any treatment. He was taken to Mutare
Provincial Hospital where he died days later. She has identified two of the
detectives who assaulted her husband as Constable Ndlovu and Sergeant

Musariri said doctors told the family the death was as a result of being
assaulted. She said the police were now refusing to release postmortem
results despite being ordered to do so by the courts last week.

Regional magistrate, Lucy Mungwaru, ordered the police to immediately
release the postmortem results to the family but the police have defied that

The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) has written to the police
chief, Commissioner General Augustine Chihuri, urging him to ensure proper
investigations are conducted into the alleged murder of Sabun by the police

Blessing Nyamaropa, ZLHR acting regional manager in Mutare, has asked
Chihuri to ensure investigations are conducted into the alleged murder of
Sabun by the police.

"As an organization we believe that no man is above the law and no man is
below it," said Nyamaropa in the letter to Chihuri which was copied to the
officer commanding Mutare District and officer commanding Manicaland

"We believe that the police have a constitutional mandate to protect
citizens not otherwise. We also believe that suspected criminals must be
treated with dignity."

Nyamaropa said it was sad that police officers were being accused of
murdering a suspect in their custody. "The public must have confidence with
the police, not otherwise," he said.

Last week the police confirmed the death of Sabun, saying they were treating
it as a murder case.

"We are treating the issue as a murder case and investigations are still in
progress," Brian Makomeke, Manicaland provincial spokesman told the media in

But this week they were no indications any investigation was underway.

Sabun's wife says the police were falsifying medical records so it appears
as if her husband died as a result of a heart problem.  She said the police
were treating the matter as "sudden death".

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Air Zimbabwe to retrench hundreds

February 24, 2010

By Our Correspondent

BULAWAYO - Struggling state-owned airline Air Zimbabwe is to retrench a
further 468 workers this year in an effort to recover from its current
financial crisis.

Air Zimbabwe is currently broke and last year it laid off 700 workers with
whom it became locked in a bitter labour dispute. The workers fiercely
resisted involuntary leave ranging from three to 12 months. The airline has
already cancelled most of its regional and international flights due to
shortage of funds to buy fuel and spare parts.

"Air Zimbabwe has a total number of 1 500 staff. This number is very
abnormal when compared to our operational costs. As such, the board members
agreed that a retrenchment exercise should be carried out to avoid
unnecessary cost and expense. Therefore, we decided that 468 should be
relieved of their duties," Jonathan Kadzura, Air Zimbabwe board chairman,

Kadzura also said:" There is urgent need for new engines for our planes. The
three MA60s are now on the verge of collapse and need urgent attention".

Air Zimbabwe has over the past decade relied on government handouts, mostly
from the controversial Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono, to run
its ageing fleet. The Chinese-built MA60s are the airline's newest aircraft.

Last year Finance Minister Tendai Biti said the airline had been draining a
total of US$3 million per week from the fiscus.

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Air Zimbabwe grounds Chinese planes over non payment

Wednesday, 24 February 2010 01:28

Harare - Zimbabwe's national airline, Air Zimbabwe has grounded two of its
three Chinese made MA 60 aircrafts due to a serious shortage of spare parts
and  non payment to the plane's suppliers.

An Air Zimbabwe official revealed to Zimdiaspora that Zimbabwe has not yet
paid for the three Chinese planes, resulting in the manufacturer,
Beijing-based Catic company  refusing to release spare parts.

The three planes were acquired in 2005 under a government to

government  agreement and Zimbabwe was supposed repay its debt using

"Nothing has been paid to date by the government resulting in the

manufactures, Catic, refusing to release the necessary spare parts and back
up kits and services," said the official.

He said the national airline was forced to cannibalize one of the

three MA 60 aircrafts in order to get spare parts.

"All the three MA60 planes require new engines, but with the

manufacturers and suppliers refusing to provide spare parts, very soon all
of them will be grounded," said the official.

Air Zimbabwe Chief Executive referred questions to the parent ministry of
Transport and Communications and the Air Zimbabwe Board, whom he said were
the guarantors of the deal.

He however confirmed that the national airline was in a serious

financial position and would soon retrench nearly 500 workers out of a
workforce of about 1 500 in order to save costs.

Air Zimbabwe used to be one of the best airlines in Africa, operating
several airplanes and servicing routes throughout the world, but today the
airline is now left with less than  five planes.

Passengers numbers dropped from around one million in 1999 to the current
levels of below 200 000 per year, a development blamed on mismanagement and
looting by Zanu PF connected officials as well as

regular commandeering of planes by globe trotting President Robert Mugabe.

Although Zanu Pf launched a Look East Policy after Western countries imposed
sanctions on the regime due to gross violations of human rights, Zimbabwe
has not received significant benefit from its association with countries
such as China.

Only last week, deputy Prime Minister, Arthur Mutambara revealed that China
had told Zimbabwe not to expect further loans from Beijing until it pays its
existing debts.

According to Mutambara the Chinese President Hu Jintao revealed to him
during a brief meeting at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland that he
considers Beijing relationship with Harare as 'business partners'and not 'friends'.

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Zuma will ask UK to lift Zimbabwe sanctions

By Richard Lapper and William Wallis in Johannesburg

Published: February 24 2010 18:22 | Last updated: February 24 2010 18:22

South Africa will seek to win British support for an end to targeted
sanctions against Zimbabwe during President Jacob Zuma's state visit to the
UK next week.

Mr Zuma, who will be staying with Queen Elizabeth at Buckingham Palace,
believes US and European sanctions against President Robert Mugabe and
senior officials of his Zanu-PF party have made it more difficult to
establish a viable coalition government in Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe farm invasions 'threaten food production' - Jan-22
Mugabe tries to rally divided supporters - Dec-13
News in depth: Zimbabwe - May-15
Zimbabwe launches public diamond auction - Jan-07

"What have sanctions done to help the situation?" Mr Zuma told the Financial
Times in an interview in Pretoria. "Zanu PF says we are in a cabinet of this
unity government. But part of the cabinet can go anywhere in the world for
their work and part [the Zanu PF members] can't go out of the country. This
unity government is being suffocated. It is not being allowed to do its job
by the big countries."

Under an agreement brokered by the Southern African Development Community -
the regional trade and diplomatic body - in September 2008, Mr Mugabe and
Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of the Movement for Democratic Change, agreed
to share power. But the arrangement has been complicated by Mr Mugabe's
refusal to fully comply with the terms of deal.

Zimbabwe's economy has stabilised since the coalition government opted to
dollarise the currency. However, recovery has been hobbled by continuing
political uncertainty and the reluctance of international donors to provide
more financing to the government.

Mr Tsvangirai's MDC - which won the first round of Zimbabwe's last elections
in March 2008 but withdrew from the second round after a campaign of
violence against its activists - argues the reappointments of central bank
chief, Gideon Gono, and attorney general, Johannes Tomana, violated the
terms of the accord.

The party has also contested the decision to take legal action against Roy
Bennett, the MDC treasurer's and nominee for the post of deputy agriculture
minister. Mr Bennett faces charges of treason for allegedly conspiring to
lead an armed revolt against Mr Mugabe.

But Mr Zuma downplayed the importance of these three issues and intimated
that Zanu PF is deliberately stonewalling progress in order to maintain
political stresses ahead of fresh polls. Another senior South African
official said polls may be necessary as early as next year in order to break
the deadlock.

"Suppose somebody in Zimbabwe is using these issues to maintain tension
until elections. You are playing into the hands of such a person," Mr Zuma

Ahead of his election last year in South Africa, Mr Zuma had raised
expectations that he would adopt a tougher approach to Mr Mugabe than Thabo
Mbeki, his rival and last elected predecessor whose "quiet diplomacy" was
much criticised in the UK.

But Mr Zuma is unfazed by the possibility he will be harangued on the issue
in London, arguing that the agreement and coalition government has allowed
Zimbabwe to pull back from economic chaos and the brink of disintegration.

The existence of the country itself was at risk 18 months ago, Mr Zuma said.

"South Africa has been one of the major players that actually pulled
Zimbabwe back from getting into a disaster."

By contrast, Europe and the US had continued with sanctions as if no
agreement had been made.

"If we were in the shoes of the big countries I would have said here is an
agreement, we are in support of this agreement and lifting sanctions, even
conditionally, even for six months to a year, give a chance for this
agreement," he said.


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ZimRights activist gets death threats

Written by Gift Phiri
Wednesday, 24 February 2010 07:41
HARARE - Human rights defender, Okay Machisa, received death threats by
email on February 16, 2010, spurring local and international human rights
organisations to immediately call for the protection of rights defenders and
activists in Zimbabwe.

Machisa, the national director of Zimbabwe Human Rights Association
(ZimRights), one of the main human rights organisations in the country,
received a threatening e-mail warning him of his impending death.
It's the latest ominous warning in a number of threats that were sent by
SMS, phone and now e-mail to the human rights defender. ***The Zimbabwean
heard that Machisa was taking precautions for his safety, such as moving
house and not making any public statements.
The threats include accusations that he was a "traitor."
Machisa has spoken out about what he believes to have been irregularities in
Zimbabwe's recent elections, or about human rights abuses being committed by
police and armed gangs throughout the country during the elections.
More recently, ZimRights has actively worked on the constitution-making
process, campaigning on the right of people to be involved in the drafting
of the new constitution.
On the morning of February 16, Machisa received an email warning him to be
careful with his work. The message continued, saying that a number of people
"have been assigned to bring you down". The e-mail also threatened Machisa's
family, warning that something may happen at his home.
This is not the first attempt to intimidate ZimRights' national director. In
November 2009, returning home from a meeting, Machisa saw armed men waiting
for him at his  gate. The men left after he alerted colleagues and before
the police arrived. Several other active members of ZimRights are also the
target of threats.
International rights organisation Front Line, said in a statement it
believed that the intimidation and threats against Machisa and ZimRights
were a consequence of his legitimate work on the constitution-making process
and the human rights situation in Zimbabwe.
Several local rights groups called on the Zimbabwean government to ensure
the safety and protection of all human rights defenders in Zimbabwe,
investigate the threats being made against them and bring those found
responsible to justice.

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Dry spell cuts 11 pct of Zimbabwe maize crop

Wed Feb 24, 2010 10:02am GMT

By MacDonald Dzirutwe

HARARE - (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's government has declared 11 percent of its
2009/10 planted maize crop a write-off after it was badly damaged by a dry
spell, and repeated calls for urgent imports, an official report showed.

Farmers had also increased the maize area to 1.7 million hectares from 1.5
million hectares in the previous season, boosted by better availability of
inputs after the formation of a new unity government that raised prospects
of economic recovery, the crop assessment report showed on Wednesday.

It did not give estimates of maize production.

Zimbabweans had hoped for an end to food shortages that have gripped the
country since 2001 but most crops in southern and eastern Zimbabwe had been
destroyed by a prolonged dry spell, with the remaining crop being said to be
in fair condition.

The country needs to urgently import 500,000 tonnes of maize to avert
shortages, the report said, echoing calls by Agriculture Minister Joseph
Made earlier this month.

That would formerly have been the equivalent of Zimbabwe's strategic grain
reserve, but the country has not had a stockpile for more than a decade.

The southern African nation is battling to end food shortages that have been
blamed largely on President Robert Mugabe's drive to seize white-owned
commercial farms to resettle black people. The veteran leader blames drought
and sanctions.

The report also showed that the government and foreign aid agencies had
greatly improved availability of fertiliser and seed, in a break with the
past where farmers have failed to access farming inputs.

"We recommend emergency food relief programmes to areas affected by crop
failure (and) mobilisation of resources for both 2010 winter and summer
cropping should start now," it said.

The 2010/11 summer season starts in October.

The government will carry out a second assessment at the end of next month,
which is expected to give estimates of maize output.

But farmers' groups have already warned the country may need to import half
its maize needs because of the crop failure. Zimbabwe's annual maize
consumption is 2.2 million tonnes.

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Support grows for complete overhaul of POSA

By Alex Bell
24 February 2010

Support for the repressive Public Order and Security Act (POSA) to be
completely overhauled is growing, as the countrywide process to consult the
public on amendments to the act continues.

The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Defence and Home Affairs is
currently on a nationwide consultative process trying to garner public
opinion on proposed amendments to POSA. This follows a private motion moved
by MDC-T MP, Innocent Gonese in a private members bill last year. The
proposed amendments seek to among other things, largely curtail the powers
of the police as well as guard against abuse of their powers in maintaining
order. This abuse has been witnessed over and over again in Zimbabwe, where
any individual or group openly critical of the ZANU PF government have been
arrested and charged under the Act.

Dozens of individuals and representatives of civic organisations, who
converged at a community centre in Harare on Monday to share their views on
the act, said they felt the law should in fact be repealed. Civic
organisations such the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), the Women's
Trust, Transparency International Zimbabwe (TIZ), and the Zimbabwe Congress
of Trade Unions (ZCTU), made submissions noting that while the proposed
amendments are welcome, POSA is still in need of a complete overhaul as it
is draconian in its entirety.

Irene Petras, ZLHR director said the law had been used selectively by the
state on citizens opposed to the establishment.

"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 defended politicians and other individuals
persecuted under the law, was among Harare based civic organisations who
took time out to air their views on the amendments to the law. They echoed
the sentiments of other groups who gathered in Bulawayo last week saying
that repealing the act would be preferred to amendments alone. Several
individuals and representatives of organisations such as Urban Councils
Workers Union, the ZCTU, Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA), the Catholic
Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) and Bulawayo Agenda were however
told that repealing the act was 'unrealistic.' The Chairman of the Portfolio
Committee, Paul Madzore, told the gathering that it was 'impractical' to
repeal the act since no parliamentary member has moved such a motion.
Meanwhile on Monday, media watchdog MISA-Zimbabwe appeared before the
Parliamentary Portfolio Committee, also to make submissions on the proposed
POSA amendments. In its submissions, the group noted that 'although the
provisions of POSA largely impact on the constitutionally guaranteed civic
liberties such as freedom of association, assembly and movement,
restrictions on these rights however impinge on the right of the citizens to
meet freely and express or exchange opinions, without which other
fundamental freedoms cannot be enjoyed.'

MISA-Zimbabwe reiterated in a statement that the provisions proposed for
amendment are generally a duplication of the old Law and Order Maintenance
Act (LOMA) which the Supreme Court declared unconstitutional. For instance,
Section 32 of POSA as it currently stands, empowers the police to randomly
stop people in public places, search them and demand the production of
identity documents. Those that are found without documents could be

"This is a violation of a constitutionally guaranteed protection from
arbitrary search and entry," MISA-Zimbabwe said.

MISA-Zimbabwe also noted that the role of adjudicating and deciding who,
when and how people should exercise their constitutionally guaranteed rights
should not rest with the police as it does in Section 26. Section 26 allows
the police to prohibit a public gathering, and in many instances under POSA
the police are allowed to determine whether or not, and in what manner
people can exercise their rights to express and assemble as in Section 27.

The general consensus was also that amending POSA alone was inadequate in
reforming the country's legislative environment given that other existing
repressive legal instruments, such as the Access to Information and
Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) and the Criminal Law (Codification and
Reform) Act, contain provisions that would still impinge on basic freedoms.

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Bots, Zim make peace


Botswana and Zimbabwe have finally made peace, after weeks of tension
following the arrest of three Botswana game rangers in Zimbabwe.

So tense was the situation that words that bordered on war talk were even
bandied about.

However Botswana yesterday said that it has smoked the peace pipe with the
Zimbabwean government.

Mugabe's government angered Botswana after deciding not to release three
wildlife rangers who strayed into Zimbabwe near the Lesoma/Pandamatenga
area, while tracking a lion that was destroying farmers' property.

The area in question does not have a border fence.

The Zimbabwean government kept the rangers in police cells for three weeks
and arraigned them before the courts of law, while their vehicle and guns
were impounded.

Efforts by Botswana Government officials, including foreign Affairs Minister
Phandu Skelemani and Vice President, Mompati Merafhe were frustrated as
Zimbabwe's foreign Minister refused to take phone calls from Skelemani,
while Robert Mugabe snubbed Merafhe when he made an attempt to discuss the
issue with him at an AU Summit.

However the Zimbabwean government later said that Mugabe had not snubbed

Frustrated, the Botswana government decided to recall its security and
intelligence attaches to Harare and set an ultimatum for Zimbabwe to do
likewise by end of February.

Meanwhile, Zimbabwe went ahead to prosecute the three wildlife officers,
although the court handed them a light sentence. Unhappy with the court
ruling, the Zimbabwean government appealed it, and declared the three
Botswana wildlife officers prohibited immigrants.

The peace agreement should see both countries reversing their decisions.

Botswana permanent secretary for Defense, Justice and Security,   Augustine
Makgonatsotlhe said yesterday that Botswana was represented by Minister of
Defense, Justice and Security, Dikgakgamatso Seretse and Botswana's High
Commissioner to Zimbabwe, Gladys Kokorwe. Zimbabwe dispatched a four-strong
team of ministers: Emmerson Mnangagwa, Minister of Defence, Patrick
Chinamasa, of Justice and Legal Affairs, Sidney Sekeremayi, Minister of
National Security and Home Affairs Minister, Giles Mutsekwa.

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Informal Cross-Border Traders Reduce Poverty, But Face Major Risks in Southern Africa

Scott Bobb | Johannesburg 24 February 2010

Informal cross-border trade contributes significantly to the economies of
southern African nations - about $17.6 billion a year - and helps reduce
poverty.  But a group of researchers who met recently in South Africa say
informal traders face many threats.

Charity Mandishona was once a teacher in Zimbabwe.  But she left the
profession years ago when hyperinflation destroyed her salary's buying
power.  She says she and her husband, a former miner, ran a bar for a while,
but it was destroyed by police five years ago in a major clean-up operation.

Mandishona now supports her family by selling Zimbabwean handcrafts in
neighboring countries.

"At the moment with the economic situation, cross-border trading is much
better because at least I can sustain the family and I can have a decent
life," she said.

Mandishona was speaking at a recent workshop in Pretoria sponsored by the
United Nations Development Fund for Women, known as UNIFEM.

UNIFEM Director for Southern Africa Nomcebo Manzini notes a recent survey of
more than 700 informal cross-border traders in the region shows that trade
contributes significantly to the number-one Millennium Goal, reducing

"Sub-Saharan Africa is probably going to be one of those regions of the
world where poverty, instead of going down, is actually going to escalate.
So this work is particularly relevant in terms of ensuring that poverty is
reduced in our sub-region," said Manzini.

She noted the trade is dominated by women, and as a result it could also
help achieve another Millennium Goal, reducing gender inequality.

A Zimbabwean contributor to the survey, Joyce Malaba, told the gathering
that informal cross-border trade is attractive to many, but carries many
risks especially as they travel.

"Transport problems included taking too long, high cost of transport,
accidents, loss of goods and cash through theft, general harassment and
sexual harassment," she said.

Malaba says some women surveyed said they were obliged to trade sexual
favors for safe accommodation. And informal traders of both sexes faced
harassment and theft of their goods by local police, border guards and other
officials during their trips.

They also face stiff competition from more established merchants who
undercut their prices by importing cheap goods in bulk from Asia.

Another survey contributor, University of Swaziland Professor Winnie
Madonsela, said there are very few civic groups supporting informal traders.

"There are couple of things that they [civic groups] could do, for example
trying to help them [traders] with finding markets, and also to try and help
them improve the quality of their wares," said Madonsela.

UNIFEM says informal cross-border trade accounts for one-third of all trade
between members of the Southern African Development Community, but it is
hardly recognized by SADC and other regional integration organizations.

Trader Mandishona said the groups and their member-governments need to
recognize the trade contributes significantly to their gross domestic

"We want them to recognize that the informal traders contribute to the GDP
and also to put legal frameworks which protect the cross-border traders,"
she said.

She says governments should punish officials who harass traders and should
provide safe-houses where they can rest in security.  She also wants the
governments to create micro-finance institutions to provide long-term loans
for informal traders.

Finally UNIFEM officials advocate the creation of associations to press
governments in the region to recognize informal cross-border traders and
protect their rights.

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Blackouts Widen in Zimbabwe With Breakdown of Hwange Power Plant

Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority CEO Ben Rafemoyo told Reuters that the
thermal generating units in Hwange, Matabeleland North province, would not
be back on line until late March

Jonga Kandemiiri | Washington 23 February 2010

The Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority warned of extended power cuts on
Tuesday citing continued breakdowns at the thermal generating plant in
Hwange, Matabeleland North province.

ZESA Chief Executive Officer Ben Rafemoyo told the Reuters news agency that
the Hwange units would not be back on line until late March.

An Energy Ministry source said the country currently disposed of less than
half of the 1,000 megawatts it needed due to the Hwange breakdowns and a
partial failure at the hydroelectric plant in Kariba, on the country's
northeast border with Zambia.

Marah Hativagoni, managing director of CodChem (Private) Limited, a producer
of food ingredients, and a former president of the Zimbabwe National Chamber
of Commerce, told VOA reporter Jonga Kandemiiri that power cuts are
seriously affecting business operations, especially in manufacturing.

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First steps taken to restore working relationship with the IMF

Comment by John Robertson: The International Monetary Fund Executive Board
has agreed to restore Zimbabwe's voting rights after a seven-year suspension
and has agreed that if Zimbabwe settles its arrears to the Poverty Reduction
and Growth Trust, the country will be permitted access to the IMF's General
Resource Account.

In other words, the arrangements permit Zimbabwe to apply for new IMF loan
facilities, but IMF regulations will not permit it to actually release loan
funding until Zimbabwe qualifies for the assistance by settling its debts.

The outstanding amount owed to the IMF is about US$136 million, but more
precisely, it is 89,4 million Special Drawing Rights. The exchange rate at
the end of last week was SDR1=US$1,52464. However, the IMF has also reminded
Zimbabwe of two critical issues:

Firstly, the country's eligibility for new loans will not be fully restored
until it has paid off a total of US$1,3 billion, the combined debts to the
IMF, the World Bank and the African Development Bank.

And secondly, access to IMF resources is also subject to IMF policies on the
use of such resources and to the country achieving a track record of sound
policies. In this regard, the IMF and other organisations are keen to see
evidence that Zimbabwe will accept policy changes that will help restore the
country's ability to earn foreign exchange.

Before Land Reform caused a massive shrinkage in foreign earnings, Zimbabwe
had achieved an excellent credit rating and it benefited from extensive
credit lines as well as investor support because its prospects of meeting
debt settlement obligations were considered excellent. If tobacco production
alone had continued at the 1999/2000 levels through to 2009, the amount
earned would have considerably exceeded the total debt of almost US$6
billion now outstanding.

To the dismay of many development institutions, Zimbabwe's authorities have
so far done nothing to revise the policy decisions that caused these and
many consequential declines in economic activity in Zimbabwe. Also, Zanu PF
politicians' efforts to divert attention from their errors of judgement by
claiming that the economic collapse was caused by sanctions have not
persuaded the same institutions, so evidence of actual change remains a
prerequisite for more meaningful assistance.

For the present, as a result of the Voting Rights decision, Zimbabwe can now
participate in the procedures for appointing Governors to the IMF and in the
election of Executive Directors for the IMF's Board. Zimbabwe can now also
cast its vote in decisions on IMF policies or matters concerning other
member countries.

Zimbabwe came close to losing its membership status at the end of 2003, when
the country's failure to either adopt acceptable policies, or to meet its
financial obligations, led to the initiation compulsory withdrawal
procedures. However, time was offered to permit Zimbabwe to achieve the
levels of "co-operation" called for, and in 2006, the country achieved a
degree of success by fully setting its GRA arrears to the IMF.

This led to the procedures for the country's compulsory withdrawal being
cancelled, but much to the disappointment of the Reserve Bank, the amounts
still owed to the Poverty Reduction and Growth Trust meant that the payments
made were not enough to restore Zimbabwe's access to IMF financial

The IMF Executive Board did debate Zimbabwe's position at meetings in 2006
and 2007, but the continuing difficulties forced them to agree to return to
the issues at a later date, but as soaring inflation became hyperinflation,
the Reserve Bank was obliged to legalise the use of foreign currency notes
when it could no longer keep up with the production volume requirements of
inflation that reached 100 percent per day. The Zimbabwe dollar collapsed
completely early in February 2009 and decisions had to be made to rely
almost completely on the limited quantities of US dollars and South African
rand available in the country.

As the Reserve Bank could no longer sustain the subsidies and other
expenditures that had caused most of the financial distortions, discipline
was imposed on the Reserve Bank, as a result of which, by May 2009, its
conduct could be described as having significantly improved, so Zimbabwe's
improved co-operation on economic policies was said to have been achieved.

This generous recognition by the IMF led to the Executive Board approving
the reinstatement of technical assistance in some targeted areas. Now,
another step back up the ladder has been agreed to and Zimbabwe's voting
rights and direct participation in IMF meetings and decision-making have
been reinstated.

According to the IMF announcement, the move recognises the country's efforts
to repair its economy and improve relations with donors. However, it would
be helpful to know which of the efforts the IMF believes has actually made a
difference. On the ground, the facts are that the Government of National
Unity is barely functional, property rights are no closer to being restored,
civil rights abuses are still taking place and now government is proposing
to enforce legislation that will dispossess every non-indigenous business
owner of their controlling interests in their companies.

Far from amounting to efforts to repair the economy, these latest moves
appear to have been designed to destroy the businesses that somehow survived
the earlier moves.

Of some interest is the fact that the IMF decision was reached a few days
after the European Union decided to renewed sanctions against identified
Zimbabwean individuals for another 12 months. This was done because of their
assessment that the new inclusive Government was making no actual progress.
That assessment is much closer to the mark.

This entry was posted by Sokwanele on Wednesday, February 24th, 2010 at 1:32

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Harare voters demand fixed election dates

By Tichaona Sibanda
24 February 2010

Harare residents are advocating for fixed dates for elections in a new
constitution, according to information obtained from the MDC.

Constituents in Metropolitan Harare, where the MDC holds all 29
parliamentary seats, said the inclusive government should priorities the
reformation of the electoral management system.

MDC-T spokesman for Harare province, Willas Madzimure said as a consequence
of the disputed election of 2008, residents want a statute enacted in a new
constitution that proclaims the day and month of a general elections once
every five years.

"In simple terms, what Harare residents are saying is that a sitting
President should not proclaim a date for an election as he's an interested
party," Madzimure said.

The MDC-T MP for Kambuzuma said a preferred system, as contained in a new
constitution would entail having Presidential, Parliamentary and council
elections every five years.

"For example, the residents are telling us that elections should occur on
the first Saturday of March to give everyone from the voters, officials and
participants ample time to prepare. As it is now, only the President can
proclaim the dates or months for elections," he added.

Madzimure said the problem with this current law is that it does not give
other parties enough time to prepare for an election, and he gave as another
example of the unfairness of this practice that 'ZANU PF has deliberately
modified boundaries for electoral purposes.' He explained, "And they usually
do this a few months before proclaiming the dates and months for elections.
To them it's an added advantage that ensures that they win most seats in
Parliament due to gerrymandering."

"They've used this to achieve desired electoral results in all the past
elections in the country. We are saying lets go to an election, with
everyone knowing the boundaries and the requirements five or four years in
advance. If boundaries are to be altered, they should be done so many months
in advance with all parties involved and not by ZANU PF appointed
 officials," the MP said.

Most residents said the Independent Electoral Commission should put in place
a clear post-electoral transitional mechanism, where all election results
can be announced within 48 hours (with the option of an additional 36 hours
if promise arise) to avoid allegations of rigging.

"This mechanism wasn't in place during the 2008 elections where the military
controlled electoral commission held on to the results for six weeks. God
knows how they manipulated those results because Morgan Tsvangirai won those
elections and should have been proclaimed winner of the poll. Without a new
constitution I think we will be dreaming if we say we will ever have free
and fair elections in Zimbabwe," said Madzimure.


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Mines Minister splashes US$40 000 on gardening equipment

By Lance Guma
24 February 2010

Mines Minister Obert Mpofu brought business to a standstill at Halsted
Brothers in Bulawayo last Friday when he splashed out US$40 000 in cash to
buy 'gardening equipment and other hardware.' Our correspondent Lionel
Saungweme reports that everyone inside the shop was shocked to see the
Minister bring out such huge sums of money. Shop attendants had to focus on
serving Mpofu's huge order while other customers could only look on and
wait. Newsreel was not able to establish where he was taking the equipment

Only last week the Supreme Court issued a second order for Mpofu to return
29 kilograms of diamonds he, along with a senior police officer, took from
the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe. The court had initially ordered the gems
valued at US$18 million to be kept at the central bank for safekeeping
pending the resolution of a court case involving African Consolidated
Resources (ACR) and the government. The army forced ACR to leave its Marange
diamond claim at gunpoint in 2006 but the courts have since ruled the
ejection illegal.
Mpofu assisted by a senior police officer went to the central bank and
produced a document which he claimed was from the Supreme Court Registrar
setting aside the order to keep the diamonds there. ACR's lawyer Jonathan
Samkange charged that the police had basically 'robbed the central bank.' It's
thought the ZANU PF factions led by retired general Solomon Mujuru and
Defence Minister Emerson Mnangagwa are fighting each other for control of
the diamonds. Mpofu belongs to the Mujuru faction which is seen as enjoying
the support of the army.
Last week it was reported that state security agents from the Central
Intelligence Organisation (seen as loyal to the Mnangagwa faction) broke
into Mpofu's office at ZIMRE Centre in Harare trying to establish his role
in shady deals involving diamonds. The CIO operatives who broke into the 7th
floor office allegedly found important documents implicating the Minister,
and also took his computer hard drive. Mpofu confirmed as much saying,
'there were four break-ins by unknown persons into my office when I was on

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Zimbabwe novelist finds a safe haven in Miami

Posted on Tuesday, 02.23.10


The death threats? Too numerous to count. The serious attempts on his life
ranged from make-believe doctors offering potentially fatal ``medicine'' to
a traffic accident that was no accident at all.

In his native Zimbabwe, he's been ranked as high as No. 17 on the
government's Enemies of the State list.

Miami, meet novelist/poet/essayist Chenjerai Hove, Chen to his friends, the
author of the highly acclaimed novel, Bones.

``I don't really think I'm an enemy of the state,'' Hove says, still puzzled
that the Zimbabwe government once sent four armed policemen to apprehend him
on trumped-up charges. ``They just fear a writer. I don't even kill a

He's here, for the next two years at least, as a guest of the John S. and
James L. Knight Foundation, with his stay coordinated by Miami Dade College.
During his time in South Florida, Hove will give guest lectures to Miami
Dade students, and also interact with the general public by attending a
variety of community events.

Though Miami has long been a place of refuge for those fleeing political
and/or economic instability abroad, this marks the first time the city has
taken part in the International Cities of Refuge Network -- an organization
that provides safe haven to writers who are persecuted in their home
countries. The network is a refashioned version of the International
Parliament of Writers that was founded by prominent writers such as Salman
Rushdie and Russell Banks.

``He's just starting to get his bearings and feel comfortable in his new
home,'' said Alina Interian, executive director of Miami Dade College's
Florida Center for the Literary Arts. ``He's quite charming . . . he has
hundreds of stories to tell.''

With his warm, unhurried handshakes -- followed quickly by frequent, and
boisterous, fits of laughter -- Hove hardly seems like a man dragged down by
the pain of exile. He's more like a wisecracking, and wise, family uncle.

Nevertheless, an exile Hove most certainly is, thanks to an oppressive
Zimbabwe government that sees treason in Hove's boldly critical novels and
poems. He's been bouncing around Europe and North America since 2001.

Hove is best known for his 1989 novel, Bones, which tells the story of a
poor farm mother who loses her son in the Zimbabwean war of liberation. It
would not be the last time that Hove chronicled the real, and often tragic,
costs of Zimbabwe's attempts at self-governance. Bones received Africa's
highest honor for literature: the Noma Award.

While in exile, Hove has continued to castigate the Zimbabwe government for
its human-rights abuses -- he is working on a memoir examining how violence
came to be such a systemic part of Zimbabwe's political system.


Before Hove fled his homeland nine years ago, he says President Robert
Mugabe's regime tried various methods to silence him. There was the
relative, a government employee, who showed up one day with a bag filled
with cash -- U.S. dollars -- and the promise that Hove would also be given
prime farmland for in exchange for cooperating.

Hove had no interest in either counting the money -- he estimates it was
more than $200,000 -- or taking up farming. But he says he at least came
away from the experience with an ego boost.

``I didn't know I was so expensive,'' he said with a hearty laugh.

With the carrot approach unsuccessful, Zimbabwe's powers-that-be turned to
the stick -- and swung repeatedly. Hove can remember at least five serious
attempts on his life -- along with never-ending death threats that once
brought his mother to tears.

After returning from a whirlwind book tour in 1994, Hove checked into a
Harare hospital for exhaustion. In the middle of the night, a peculiar
visitor showed up, dressed in a white doctor's coat.

``He woke me up, around 2 a.m., and said `Oh, I've come to give you sleeping
tablets,' '' Hove recalled. ``How can someone come and wake me up and try to
give me sleeping tablets? . . . I said `How come you don't have a name tag?'
and he said, `Oh I'm sorry,' and then he disappeared.''

At the advice of his primary physician, Hove quickly checked out the next

Another near-death experience occurred a few years earlier. Hove and several
other authors were driving back from a local writer's conference when their
car was aggressively T-boned by another vehicle. Hove and his colleagues
emerged largely unharmed, as their car fortuitously rammed up against a
lightpole, which kept the vehicle from flipping over.

The driver who caused the crash happened to leave behind a license plate.
Hove grabbed it. After about three months of police inaction on the case, a
burglar broke into Hove's home.

That incriminating license plate was the only item the thief took.


Hove eventually realized that leaving Zimbabwe was unavoidable. The prospect
of future frivolous arrests loomed so large that he'd taken to sleeping days
and working nights. The government, he said, liked to yank dissidents from
their home late at night -- just so the neighborhood could see them arrested
and humiliated in their pajamas.

``I said `No, if they come for me, I'm going to be well-dressed,' '' Hove

Exile, though, has meant enormous sacrifice for Hove. The author left behind
his wife and youngest daughter, and earlier this month, on Hove's 54th
birthday, his mother died in Zimbabwe.

``She promised not to die before I came back, and I promised not to die
while in exile,'' Hove said. ``The cancer didn't keep the promise, and she's
gone now.''

Unable to return for the funeral, Hove observed the traditional week-long
mourning period in Miami -- abstaining from meat, and declining an
invitation to dance from a festive stranger he met at Bayside Marketplace.

Yet Hove, like his writings, is not bitter. He looks forward to exploring
the ``real Miami,'' away from the tourist traps -- a place where ordinary
people confront ordinary problems. He's heard there's a giant African baobab
tree at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, and he'd very much like to see

Said Hove: ``We have to pick up some flowers from the sadness of exile.''

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PEACE WATCH 2/2010 of 24th February [Police Powers under POSA when Public Gatherings Take Place]


[24th February 2010]

POSA and Public Gatherings:  Part II

Outlined in Peace Watch 1/2010:  what organisers of meetings, processions and demonstrations must do to comply with the provisions of POSA.  In this issue:  police powers when meetings, processions and demonstrations actually take place, including their power the disperse a gathering, and a list of  the various criminal offences organisers and participants may find the police using against them. 

Police Powers When Public Gatherings Take Place

Section 29 of POSA spells out the powers of the police during the course of a public meeting, procession or demonstration — and the section applies whether or not the police have been given advance notice [Remember:  a gathering is not unlawful simply because the police have not been given notice of it]:

ˇ        Where the police have been notified, they may compel participants to comply with any conditions laid down at the consultative meeting, and to adhere to the route agreed upon.

ˇ        Where the police have not been notified, they may restrict the gathering to a particular place or guide participants along a route designed to ensure minimum interference with traffic or access to workplaces and to prevent injury to persons or damage to property.

ˇ        The police may order persons interfering or attempting to interfere with a gathering to cease doing so and to keep their distance.

ˇ        If the police feel unable to provide sufficient protection, they must inform the convenor and the participants.

When Can Police Order the Dispersal of a gathering

Under section 29 of POSA a police officer of or above the rank of assistant inspector may [but is not obliged to] disperse a public meeting, demonstration or procession, but only if:

ˇ        the meeting, procession or demonstration is being conducted in breach of a prohibition or condition imposed by police;  or

ˇ        any act is committed that endangers persons and property.

[In other words, there is no power given to disperse a gathering merely because it was not notified to police.]

There is a strictly laid down procedure for dispersal:

ˇ        First, the police officer must attract the attention of participants and call on them to disperse, and in a loud voice order them in English and in ChiShona or SiNdebele to depart within a reasonable time specified by him or her.

ˇ        If participants do not disperse within that time, the officer may order police under his command to disperse the participants, if necessary by force.

ˇ        The force used to disperse a gathering must be no greater than is necessary and must be proportionate to the circumstances. 

ˇ        Weapons likely to cause serious injury or death must not be used  [POSA, section 29(3)]

If the situation turns ugly

If a participant or someone interfering with participants, kills or seriously injures a person, or manifests an intention to do so, or destroys or does serious damage to property or attempts to do so; the police may resort to the use of firearms and other weapons; even in these circumstances firearms may be used only if other methods of control are ineffective or inappropriate  [POSA, section 29(5)]

[If a convenor responsible for a gathering or a person present at the gathering considers police have unnecessarily broken up a gathering and/or have used excessive force in breaking up a gathering, then a lawyer should be consulted with a view to suing the Government and the individual police officers responsible.] 

Taking of Photographs During Gatherings

Taking of photographs during demonstrations is not prohibited in POSA or in the Police Act.  An assault on a person so doing or taking their camera or film is illegal and also actionable.  [But there are some buildings and places, such as army barracks, key bridges, the Presidents residence, which are protected places where photography is prohibited.  Journalists covering gatherings should familiarise themselves with the list of protected places.]

Criminal Offences

Police will also have the right to take action, should the facts justify their doing so, to arrest and prosecute participants and others for contraventions of POSA or the Criminal Law Code. 

Failing to Give the Police Notice of a Gathering

As noted earlier, an organiser of a public meeting, demonstration or procession who fails to give the police advance notice in accordance with POSA is guilty of an offence and liable to a fine of level 12  [currently US $2 000] or a year’s imprisonment or both  [POSA, section 25(5)].  Again, it must be noted that failure to give notice does not render the gathering unlawful. 

Contravening a Prohibition Notice or a Condition for the Holding of a Gathering

Anyone who knowingly holds a public meeting, demonstration or procession which has been prohibited by the police, or who knowingly breaches a condition imposed by the police on the holding of such a gathering is guilty of an offence and liable to a fine of level 14  [currently US $5 000] or a year’s imprisonment or both  [POSA, section 26(11)].

Participating in Gathering With Intent to Promote Public Violence, Breaches of the Peace or Bigotry

Anyone who, with other people in a public place:

ˇ        does anything with the intention of forcibly disturbing the peace of the public or invading the rights of others, or realising there is a real risk or possibility of such a disturbance or invasion;  or

ˇ        says or displays anything that is obscene, abusive or insulting with the intention of breaching the peace or engendering racial or gender-based hatred, or realising there is a real risk or possibility of such a breach; 

is guilty of an offence and liable to a fine of level 10  [currently US $700] or five years’ imprisonment or both  [Criminal Law Code, section 37)]. [This is the provision under which WOZA leaders have been facing trial for over a year, and which they have challenged in the Supreme Court as being an unconstitutional infringement of their freedom of expression, assembly and association.  The long-awaited Supreme Court judgment is still to be delivered.] 

Public Violence

Anyone who, acting in concert with one or more other persons, forcibly and to a serious extent disturbs the peace, security or order of the public or any section of the public or invades the rights of other people, intending such disturbance or invasion or realising that there is a real risk or possibility that such disturbance or invasion may occur, is guilty of the offence of public violence and liable to a fine of level 12 [currently US $ 2 000] or ten years’ imprisonment or both [Criminal Law Code, section 36].

Disrupting a Public Meeting, Demonstration or Procession

If hostile individuals or groups try to disrupt a public meeting, demonstration or procession by engaging in disorderly or riotous conduct or using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaving in a threatening, abusive or insulting manner, they can be arrested and prosecuted for the crime of disrupting a public gathering and sentenced to a fine of level 5  [currently US $200] or six months’ imprisonment or both  [Criminal Law Code, section 44].

Obstructing Roads

Anyone who encumbers or obstructs the free passage along any street, road, thoroughfare, sidewalk or pavement is guilty of criminal nuisance and liable to a fine of level 5  [currently US $200] or six months’ imprisonment or both  [Criminal Law Code, section 46 as read with para 2(f) of the Third Schedule)].


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

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