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Mugabe to celebrate 86th birthday with televised £325,000 lobster feast
Robert Mugabe will celebrate his 86th birthday on Friday with a lavish £325,000 party to be broadcast live on the country's state television.
Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace
Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace Photo: REUTERS

Guests will enjoy lobster, prawns and caviar to be washed down with bottles of Johnnie Walker Blue Label and Chevas Regal whiskies.

The 12-hour gala in Bulawayo will feature Jamaican reggae star Sizzla Kalonji who has been flown into the country for the occasion. 

He will lead more than 30 musicians in the party which will start at 6pm and finish at 6am on Saturday.

The Zimbabwean president celebrated his actual 86th birthday last Sunday and has attended a number of parties including one at the Chinese embassy in the capital Harare.

Many in the rival Movement for Democratic Change have said the party is tasteless as the country suffers acute poverty.

Tendai Biti, MDC finance minister, refused to give public funds towards the cost of the birthday bash so funds were raised from companies and embassies aligned to ZanuPF.

Luke Tamborinyoka, MDC director of information, said the celebrations were inappropriate as the country braced itself for a failed agricultural season with an 11 per cent crop failure due to a prolonged dry spell.

He said: "It is not progressive for any Zimbabwean to join this senseless fray as the country faces imminent drought. It is lavish, careless and extravagant on the part of the organisers that they dedicate $500,000 to one person, an amount which could feed 50 villages.

"It is absolutely self centred for someone to try and nationalise a birthday which is supposed to be private. MDC members will not be part of this circus and we will not be attending."

Morgan Tsvangirai, the MDC prime minister, has not said whether he will attend with a spokesman saying he will "will wait for the day to see".

Last week the EU voted to continue sanctions on Zimbabwe for another year, citing a "lack of progress" in implementing a power-sharing deal.

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Zimbabwe presses on with local ownership law: minister

Friday, February 26, 2010; 12:36 PM

BULAWAYO, Zimbabwe (Reuters) - Zimbabwe is pressing ahead with plans to
transfer control of foreign firms to local ownership despite objections that
the policy would hurt the country's economic recovery, a minister said on

President Robert Mugabe's government in 2007 passed an indigenization and
economic empowerment law, before he formed a power-sharing administration
with rival Morgan Tsvangirai last year, seeking to localize control of
foreign firms.

Youth Development, Indigenisation and Empowerment Minister Saviour
Kasukuwere earlier this month directed all firms to provide details of their
indigenisation plans, starting March 1, in a move that has split the unity

Tsvangirai, now prime minister, said the directive was "null and void" as it
was done without consultations in cabinet.

But Kasukuwere told a business conference in Bulawayo that the government
was moving ahead with the law, although firms that failed to submit their
empowerment proposals within 45 days from March 1 would be given more time
to do so.

"The debate around indigenisation is dead. We are not about to re-open the
debate. It is law now," Kasukuwere said.

"There is a lot of emotionalism flying around. People who have not read the
regulations are being emotional about them. We are not about to destroy the
economy, far from it."

Kasukuwere said foreign investors were still welcome to invest in the
country, but needed to have local partners.

"We recognize the role of foreign direct investment we need to delicately
balance the two (with local participation), so we can succeed together,"
Kasukuwere said.

"There is no nationalization, no seizure, there's no free-lunching.
Government supports fair pricing."

He added that in implementing the empowerment law, government would consider
firms' investments in technology, skills and social developments in the
areas they operate.

"We will be looking at how we can treat the different sectors and
considering what you have done in terms of technology transfer, skills
development and social investment."

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Gono, Mugabe clash on indigenisation act

26/02/2010 14:08:00

HARARE: President Robert Mugabe and his top economic advisor, Reserve Bank
of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor, Gideon Gono have reportedly differed on the
controversial Indigenization and Economic Empowerment Act with Gono arguing
that the act scares away potential investors.

Gono also believes that the act is a conduit by top Zanu PF officials to
invade companies which will lead to a total destruction of industry.

Despite fierce resistance, Mugabe together with top Zanu PF officials has
successfully pushed through the indigenization act, which gives 51 percent
shareholding of all companies to Zimbabweans.

The act has already created a storm within the inclusive government with
Zanu PF opposing it while the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) led by
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai is opposing the largely discredited law.

Although Gono has been uncharacteristically quiet since late last year,
informed sources at the RBZ said he has been trying over the past few years
to discourage the government from proceeding with the controversial law.

Gono is said to maintain that the law is being created by greedy Zanu PF
officials who want to grab companies for free the same they invaded and
destroyed farms.

In his monetary policy statement of October 2007, Gono attacked the
proponents of the indigenization law and even went on to say that it was
being crafted by drunken people.

"Noble as this objective (indigenization) is, however, our well considered
advice to legislators and government in general is that a fine balance
should be struck between the objectives of indigenization and the need to
attract foreign investment.

"Specifically, the local-foreign ownership thresholds must be taken and
implemented as down the horizon targets, as opposed to excitable but
impractical overnight conversion events

"As monetary authorities, we call upon government to ensure that the
empowerment drive is not derailed by a few well connected cliques, some who
are already making the most noise in ostensible support of this initiative,
who would want to amass wealth to themselves in a starkly greedy but
irresponsible manner, whilst the intended majority remain with nothing as
happened in the past with respect to government empowerment schemes such as
the land reform programme," said Gono is his 2007 statement.

Gono said his attack on the act was because he had already received reports
that senior and well connected personalities had already positioned
themselves to muscle into certain mining, manufacturing, financial and other

He added that nearly three decades after independence the political
heavyweights should forget about getting business for free.

Although Gono could not be reached for comment in Harare Friday as he was
said to be out of the country, a top RBZ official said the central bank
still maintains the same position but was being ignored by Mugabe and his
Zanu PF loyalists.

"The governor maintains the same position. He has been trying to plead with
government to sober up on the indigenization law but has been rebuffed. Had
the government been listening to the RBZ as top economic advisors so many
things could have been avoided.

"As RBZ we advised against further farm invasions and were ignored and we
advised against arbitrary prize controls and were snubbed. We are supposed
to be government advisors on economic issues but they listen to greedy and
selfish politicians and Zanu PF aligned businessmen who are looting the
country dry," said the top RBZ official.

Besides Gono and Tsvangirai, the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act
is being vehemently opposed by the business sector including the
Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) and Zimbabwe National Chamber of
Commerce (ZNCC).

The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) and the Zimbabwe Students Union
(Zinanu) have also attacked the act.

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ZANU PF attempts to block millions of exiles from voting

By Tichaona Sibanda
26 February 2010

Millions of Zimbabweans living in exile could still be denied their voting
rights under the proposed ZANU PF nationality programme.

The former ruling party's position paper on the new constitution proposes
that on issues of citizenship and the bill of rights only children born in
the Diaspora would be allowed duel citizenship. This paper is being
distributed to party supporters in readiness for the constitutional outreach

Analysts view this is a tactical maneuver by ZANU PF as millions of
Zimbabweans in the Diaspora would potentially be disqualified from taking
part in the next general election under a new constitution.
At least three million Zimbabweans are said to be living outside the
country, the majority of them in South Africa, having fled political
repression and poverty after a decade-long economic crisis blamed on Robert
Mugabe's controversial policies, including his farm seizure programme.
Following the 2000 parliamentary elections, in which ZANU PF beat the MDC
with the narrowest of margins (six seats) the government in 2001 enacted a
law that stripped citizenship status and rights of close to 1.5 million
Zimbabwean mine and commercial farm workers born of parents from Malawi,
Mozambique and Zambia. This exercise resulted in statelessness for all these
individuals who were also denied the right to vote in the 2002 Presidential
Zimbabwe bars dual citizenship, and a 2003 amendment to the Citizenship Act
tightened the law by requiring Zimbabweans who were once citizens of other
countries or whose parents were once foreigners to formally renounce that
'foreign citizenship' in order to qualify for Zimbabwean citizenship.
Exiled former ZBC reporter and political analyst Bekithemba Mhlanga said it
is common knowledge that ZANU PF is aware that probably the majority of that
constituency in exile do not subscribe to ZANU PF politics.
"So they (ZANU PF) will try by hook or crook to stop people in the Diaspora
from voting in Zimbabwe. But since this is a proposal by ZANU PF, it is not
guaranteed that this will sail through Parliament under the current
legislative set up. I regard this as election posturing," Mhlanga said.
Josh Chigwangwa, another exiled Zimbabwean living in the UK said the
proposal by ZANU PF was 'very dangerous' in that it sought to separate
children from their parents.
"Instead of embracing the national healing concept they still want to
alienate the millions of Zimbabweans living in exile. This is why we are
urging the inclusive government to make changes to the law where necessary
to enable thousands of Zimbabweans who lost their citizenship, or who have
acquired citizenship of other countries to participate in national affairs,"
Chigwangwa said.

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Diamond industry lashes out at KP over Zim blood diamonds

By Alex Bell
26 February 2010

Leaders in the global diamond industry have lashed out at the international
trade watchdog, the Kimberley Process, for allowing Zimbabwe's blood
diamonds to reach the consumer market.

The diamond trade monitor is now being accused of misleading consumers in
saying that the diamonds are conflict free, despite evidence proving that
diamonds from Zimbabwe are mined under violent conditions.  Beth Gerstein
from the online American jeweller Brilliant Earth, told SW Radio Africa that
"it's not enough to accept a diamond's Kimberley Process certification; you
have to know the practices of the mine it came from."

A fact sheet supplied by Brilliant Earth, details how the Kimberley Process
has failed to concern itself with the violent conditions under which many of
the world's diamonds are produced. It shows how the Kimberley Process
continues to certify diamonds from Zimbabwe, even though diamond mining
there is still causing unspeakable human suffering documented by numerous
human rights groups. Gerstein said it is unacceptable that "diamonds that
have funded murders, forced labor, rape and political oppression are
currently on the market with 'conflict-free' certification."

Gerstein explained that "there is no way to guarantee that Chiadzwa stones
are not being mixed with those produced at Zimbabwe's other mines," she said
quoting a recent report by Human Rights Watch. She added that a temporary
suspension of sales of Zimbabwe's diamonds was a 'feeble measure,' as it
does not affect diamonds that already have certification.

"Despite the temporary ban, gems from Chiadzwa are being smuggled out of
Zimbabwe and sold on the global diamond market," Gerstein said.
The Kimberley Process has previously faced criticism for its definition of a
'blood' diamond, a definition that the body hid behind when it decided not
to ban Zimbabwe from international trade last year. A widely supported ban
had been called for over abuses at the Chiadzwa diamond fields, where the
military's control in the name of the state is still ongoing. But the
Kimberley Process refused to ban the country, saying there is no conflict in
Zimbabwe to justify classing the diamonds as 'blood diamonds.' Instead,
Zimbabwe has been ordered to follow a set of guidelines approved by the
Kimberley Process to attempt to bring the country back in line with
international standards.
The guidelines include the demilitarisation of the diamond fields, which has
not happened and rights groups are still reporting that there is strict
military control of Chiadzwa and the villagers there. According to the
guidelines there is also supposed to be an independent monitor in place to
oversee the sale of all stones from Chiadzwa. A monitor has only just been
agreed on after four months of stalling. Mines Minister Obert Mpofu was
quoted in the state-run Herald newspaper as saying the government had
accepted Abbey Chikane, the head of the South African Diamond Board and a
former Chairman of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme as monitor for
the diamond fields.
In the meantime there has been no way to control the illegal sale of the
gems that are being airlifted out of Chiadzwa with no authorisation from the
Kimberley Process. An official from the Minerals Marketing Corporation of
Zimbabwe (MMCZ) made the shock admittance in Parliament earlier this month
that diamonds were being airlifted from Chiadzwa to Harare without police or
Kimberley Process supervision. Masimba Chandavengerwa, the MMCZ's acting
head of marketing, told a parliamentary committee on mines and energy: "At
the moment, the airlifting is being done without our knowledge."


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Circumcision: Zimbabwe's latest anti-HIV weapon
Friday, 26 February 2010

By Steve Vickers
BBC News, Harare

Lovemore bravely looks on at the work of the doctor and nurse as they perform the circumcision.

Surgeons carrying out circumciscion
The operation is done under local anaesthetic

"It's numb, man, I can't feel a thing," he says.

"It reduces the risk of transmitting HIV, so whatever's needed for me to be safe, I've got to do it. But I intend to remain faithful to my wife."

Lovemore is one of about 3,000 men who have been circumcised since Zimbabwe's government launched a programme in mid-2009.

In the next eight years the government aims to carry out the operation on 80% of all young men in the country - three million people in all.

Circumcision is not widely practised among Zimbabwe's cultural and religious groups, but the centuries-old procedure is now regarded as a key weapon in the country's fight against the spread of HIV and Aids .

Trials in Kenya, Uganda and South Africa have shown that the operation, in which the foreskin is removed from the penis, reduces by 60% the risk of a man contracting HIV - the virus that causes Aids.

Condoms and abstinence

Zimbabwe has one of the highest HIV prevalence in the world - 13.7% in the 15 to 49 age group according to Ministry of Health statistics from 2009.

Dr Karin Hatzold
Male circumcision should not be sold as the magic bullet
Dr Karin Hatzold
Population Services International

The government says the figures have been improving since 2007, when prevalence was more than 18%.

Officials say this is largely due to promotion of condoms, abstinence, and faithfulness to one partner.

Talent, who is 20 years old and single, is well informed of the risks of contracting HIV and is prepared to have the surgery. He is also aware of the abstinence message.

"I'm doing it for sexual hygiene, I understand that it reduces the risk of you getting infected with HIV," he says.

"But it doesn't permit you to then go and sleep around."

But some revellers at a Harare nightclub were less well-informed about the procedure.

"I'm really concerned about whether you'd live after the operation, because some people bleed to death," said one young man.

"It's a dangerous operation from what I've heard."

And 25-year-old Methembe is completely against the idea.

"I won't get circumcised, never. It would affect my sexual appetite. But for those who want, it's their choice," he said.

"Get circumcised, but you must still use condoms. Those people who are queuing for the operation believe that they will be immune to HIV, but they must know that they should also use condoms."

'Most effective'

Patients are given counselling and HIV testing before undergoing the operation, which is free of charge.

Those who test positive are advised not to have the surgery, as it could be bad for their health.

Government publicity poster for circumcision
The programme was accompanied by an advertising campaign

Circumcision reduces the risk of HIV infection because the inner layer of the foreskin is particularly susceptible to tearing and abrasions during sex, allowing the virus to enter the bloodstream more easily.

Dr Karin Hatzold, whose US-based group Population Services International sponsors the project, says circumcision will have a huge effect.

"It's the most effective intervention that we know today which can really save a lot of lives in terms of HIV acquisition," she says.

"But 60% is not 100%, so male circumcision should not be sold as the magic bullet.

"All the other behaviour interventions [such as abstinence and faithfulness] as well as the use of male and female condoms are as important, so they should all be used together."

The operation is carried out under local anaesthetic using the most cost-effective technique, known as the forceps method, at a cost of $40 (£26) for each patient.

The male circumcision programme has recently been taken to the armed forces, and it will be expanded further this year.

Zimbabwe has ramped up its expenditure on HIV prevention in recent years - and it will be hoping its latest programme reaps suitable rewards.

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Zimbabwe’s national flower faces extinction

Thulani Mpofu, Foreign Correspondent

The flame lily, Zimbabwe’s national flower. Courtesy of Jean-Jacques Milan

HARARE // Zimbabwe’s national flower, the flame lily, is facing possible extinction because of illegal harvesting and trade.

Togara Makotose, 27, a flame lily poacher from Epworth, a slum east of Harare, said he knows that picking the flower and selling it is illegal, but that he can make a good living from it. He gets the flowers from forests in Dambakurimwa, 10km north of where he lives, and sells them for US$8 per bouquet on a roadside in the affluent suburb of Borrowdale, a lot of money in impoverished Zimbabwe.

“This is my business this time of the year,” he said. “I sell to people who would be organising weddings and parties. It is a seasonal plant and it grows wild. It flowers from December and demand is high around Christmas. During the festive season I was earning up to $80 daily from selling it.”

He waves a floppy sample of the flower at passing cars. When someone shows an interest in purchasing the flowers, he runs off to a nearby bush where he keeps his stock hidden and brings back a bunch.

The flame lily, plentiful now amid the summer rains, is native to Zimbabwe and most of tropical Africa and parts of Asia. It was the national flower of Rhodesia, as Zimbabwe was known before independence from Britain in 1980, and has retained that special status.

The flame lily is adapted to high summer rainfall and a dormant dry season, and flowers between December and March every year in Zimbabwe.

It can grow to about a metre in height, stands out in the wild because of its pinkish-red petals which resemble a flame or the head of a cockerel, hence its vernacular name, jongwe (cockerel in the local Shona language).

The plant contains a substance called colchicine, which is dangerous to ingest.

In Zimbabwe, the flower occurs mainly in the higher rainfall areas of Marondera, Hwedza, Rusape, Goromonzi and Domboshava – generally east of Harare. Roadside flower vendors are a common sight in these areas.

Environmentalists say, in addition to breaking the law by simply harvesting and selling the flame lily, poachers uproot the flower, which makes its regeneration impossible and its extinction a genuine possibility. Sheunesu Mupepereki, chairman of the statutory Environmental Management Authority board, described the harvesting of the special flower as “rampant”.

“It is our national flower,” said Prof Mupepereki, a professor of soil science at the Harare-based University of Zimbabwe.

“So when it is harvested as rampantly as is the case now – sometimes with no chance of regeneration – we become concerned. Because of its beauty and monetary value that can be derived from it, the rate of its harvesting, if unchecked, might lead to its extinction.”

The flame lily is listed as a protected plant under the Parks and Wildlife Act, so unlicenced cultivation, harvesting and trade in it is illegal. The law also makes it an offence to destroy, possess, or exchange the flower. “No person shall sell any specially protected indigenous plant except in terms of a permit issued,” Section 52 of the Parks and Wildlife Act reads in part.

“The authority [National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority], in concurrence with the ministry [of environment], may issue a permit to a cultivator of specially protected plants.”

The act further says people can buy the flame lily only from “an individual who is a [licenced] dealer in specially protected indigenous plants or unless one is a member of a recognised horticultural society and the sale is to a member of the same or any other recognised horticultural society”.

Anyone who contravenes the act is liable to a fine and/or imprisonment up to six months.

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Mugabe's CIO recruits illegal vendors as informers

Friday, 26 February 2010 10:22 Editor News

From Special correspondent in Harare
Harare - Zimbabwe's premier spy agency, the Central Intelligence
Organisation (CIO) has recruited hundreds of youthful street vendors and
illegal street dealers as informers, The Zimdiaspora can reveal.

Sources within the spy agency told The Zimdiaspora that hundreds of street
vendors, particularly airtime vendors and others have been recruited to
monitor the activities of Movement for Democratic Change Officials and
supporters, as well as diplomats and members of  civil society including
trade unionists.

The source said the youths have received Zanu PF ideological training
and were now considered as a reserve militia.

"They have  been deployed along  streets, at shopping malls and
outside hotels and restaurants where they will be able to observe the
activities of unsuspecting  targeted individuals," he said.

The CIO source said most of the recruited youths have been issued with
police special constabulary identity cards which empowers them to make
arrests in the event of something happening.

A cellphone airtime vendor operating in Harare City Centre confirmed to
Zimdiaspora that he was recruited by the CIO as an informer.

He said he was tasked with informing  authorities whenever
demonstrations are being held by members of civil society and
political parties other than Zanu PF.

"We were told to infiltrate all demonstrations involving MDC and civil
society members," said the Vendor. "Whenever possible, we are expected to
hijack such demonstrations by causing violence in order to discredit the

An illegal foreign exchange dealer at Harare's Roadport who now offers
cross-rates for the United States dollar  and  South African Rand following
last year's demise of the Zimdollar said he was forced to become an informer
after he was threatened with arrest.

"I was arrested together with my colleagues for illegal foreign
currency dealings and  taken to CIO's provincial offices at Harare
Central Police Station. They gave us  an option of going to jail or
becoming informers. We chose to become informers because they told us that
if we refuse,  we will not be able to operate in any city or town in the
country," he said.

The vendors were part of Zanu PF youths who this week marched  in
Harare against Western imposed sanctions and the so called pirate
radio stations.

The marchers threatened unspecified action against Prime Minister
Morgan Tsvangirai if the sanctions are not removed immediately. MDC
has already called on the police to arrest the Zanu PF youths for
threatening the life of Tsvangirai and the office of the Prime Minister.

The youths recruited as informers by the  CIO said they have been
promised jobs in the police force, army, CIO and other government

Zimbabwe's CIO and the military have been accused of gross human
rights abuses and in the run up to the June 2008 Presidential run-off,
led a Zanu PF terror campaign which saw hundreds of opposition
supporters and officials murdered, tortured and assaulted.

Despite the formation of a Government of National Unity between Zanu PF and
the MDC which won the March 29, 2008 harmonised elections,  the military and
the intelligence have remained partisan, largely refusing to recognise the
Global Political Agreement.

While the identity of the author of this story cannot be revealed as he is
in Harare, the story was edited by our editor-in-chief Admore Tshuma who is
currently based in Cape Town on a research programme.

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U.S. official discusses Zim engagement with multi-lateral lenders

Says U.S. sanctions are not a factor in Zim’s access to loans

Harare, February 25, 2010: A diplomat at the American Embassy in Harare says U.S. sanctions are not a factor in Zimbabwe’s relations with multi-lateral lenders such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank.

“There never has been any connection between U.S. sanctions and Zimbabwe's  relationship with the IMF,” James Garry, Economic Officer at the U.S. Embassy, told journalists at a roundtable discussion on Wednesday.

Garry explained that even if the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (ZDERA) was to be repealed today, Zimbabwe would still not be able to access loans because of its arrears with the multi-lateral lenders.  Arrears made Zimbabwe ineligible for loans even before ZDERA became law in December 2001.

“There is a widespread misapprehension that the U.S. has some kind of veto at the IMF. It is not true. The IMF, for example, makes most of its decisions by majority vote, and voting strength is assigned essentially according to the country’s financial interest in the Fund. The U.S. has just 16.77 percent of the voting power at the IMF, and it is not in a position to veto IMF decisions,” said Garry.

On February 19, the Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund announced its decision to restore Zimbabwe’s voting and related rights, and its eligibility to use resources from the IMF’s General Resources Account (GRA), following a request from Zimbabwe’s Finance Minister Tendai Biti.

Notwithstanding the restoration of the eligibility to use GRA resources, said the IMF, Zimbabwe will not be able to use resources from the GRA or the Poverty Reduction and Growth Trust (PRGT) until it fully settles its arrears to the PRGT (SDR 89.4 million or about US$140 million).

Garry said the restoration of Zimbabwe’s IMF voting rights announced by the IMF last week opens the door to closer cooperation with the IMF, noting that Zimbabwe must take further steps before it can borrow again from the IMF. He said Zimbabwe’s arrears with other multilateral lenders such as the African Development Bank and the World Bank also need to be addressed.

In a February 19 press release, the IMF said access to IMF lending resources by Zimbabwe is also subject to IMF policies on the use of such resources, including a track record of sound policies and the resolution of arrears to official creditors, which would require donor support. The multilateral lender said “any remaining issues on further normalization of relations will be addressed over time.”

# # #

This report was produced and distributed by the U.S. Embassy Public Affairs Section. Queries and comments should be directed to Andrew Posner, Acting Public Affairs Officer, Website:

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U.S. Embassy honors five Zimbabwean students for essay on President Obama

Harare, February 26, 2010: The U.S. Embassy yesterday honored five Zimbabwean students for essays about their hopes following the ascendancy to the U.S. Presidency by Barack Obama in 2009.

The students- Joshua Chirambwe of St. Faith Mission in Rusape, Belinda Bell of Chinhoyi High, Munashe Makoni of St. Ignatius College in Chishawasha, Zandile Moyo of Mpopoma High in Bulawayo, and Asher Guni of Mazoe High School respectively, received certificates, books, and cash prizes, while their schools will receive reference book collections for their libraries.

Students wrote a 500-word essay with the title: “What hope does Barack Obama embody for you as an African youth in the 21st century?” Each high school chose their top two essays to forward to the Embassy.  A selection committee comprising graduates of English literature and Zimbabwean students who had studied in the U.S. selected the top ten essays.  These were forwarded to the U.S. Ambassador, Charles Ray, who selected the winners.

Congratulating the winners, U.S. Embassy Chargé d’Affaires, a.i. Katherine Dhanani said the Embassy had received nearly 40 entries from students throughout Zimbabwe. She hailed the quality of the essays received.

“It is gratifying to read about the inspiration and hopes of Zimbabwean youth generated by the success of President Barack Obama.  The U.S. government is committed to continue working with the people of Zimbabwe to ensure a bright future for these bright young students,” said Dhanani.


In the essays, students expressed hope for an end to disease, civil wars, and poverty in Africa and expressed optimism that the new African American president would prioritize education during his term of office.

“President Obama’s direct link to Africa and vision for education evokes hope in me that African education shall be revamped…I believe President Obama, through the United Nations, can fund African education so that every African child can be empowered,” said Belinda Bell, an upper six student at Chinhoyi High school in Mashonaland West.


Musical entertainment at the event was provided by the Chitungwiza Harmony Singers, and featured African American spirituals such as ‘Swing Low Sweet Chariot’ and ‘Ezekiel Saw the Wheel.’  A youth gospel musical group sang well-known gospel songs such as ‘Oh Happy Day’ and ‘Soon and Very Soon.’ 

The Essay Contest and the African American musical concert were organized to celebrate Black History Month. Each February, the U.S. honors the struggles and triumphs of millions of American citizens over the most devastating obstacles - slavery, prejudice, poverty - as well as their contributions to the nation's cultural and political life.  This time of remembrance began in 1926 when historian Carter G. Woodson first chose a week in February that marked the birthdays of two individuals who greatly influenced the lives of African Americans. The first was President Abraham Lincoln, a force behind the Emancipation Proclamation, and the second was Frederick Douglas, an ex-slave who lobbied for the abolition of slavery.  Black History Week eventually expanded into a month of commemoration and led to deeper academic exploration of African-American history and culture.


#  #  #

This report was produced and distributed by the U.S. Embassy Public Affairs Section. Queries and comments should be directed to Andrew Posner, Acting Public Affairs Officer, Website:

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Bennett’s defence objects to ‘microwave testimony’

Friday, February 26, 2010

Court Reporter

THE trial of MDC-T treasurer Roy Bennett on terror-related charges continued
yesterday with the defence objecting to the State leading evidence from a
TelOne security officer on the alleged conspiracy between the politician and
impeached witness Michael Hitschmann to destabilise a micro-wave link.

Lead defence lawyer Ms Beatrice Mtetwa objected to the testimony of security
officer Mr Forgive Munyeki.

She argued that the evidence Mr Munyeki was about to give, as summarised in
the indictment papers, was irrelevant and speculative.

Mr Munyeki was called to the witness’ stand but was offered a seat when the
defence applied to have his testimony expunged.

According to the indictment papers, Mr Munyeki was going to testify on what
a microwave link was and confirm that it actually existed at Melfort.

He was also going to explain the effects of the microwave link destruction
if the conspiracy plan had succeeded.

Ms Mtetwa urged the court to exclude Mr Munyeki’s evidence from the trial
citing Section 252 of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act, which
precludes such evidence from being heard in court.

She said the evidence was misplaced adding that it could only be heard in
aggravation when an accused person is convicted.

Ms Mtetwa said the State should first place before the court evidence
linking Bennett to the said microwave link destruction before calling the

"From the evidence led so far in the trial, nothing was placed before the
court about the microwave link issue and that the State should not deal with
the effect without shedding light on the cause.

"There is no evidence as to which of the alleged weapons could destroy a
microwave link at Melfort.

"How can the State lead evidence of effect before leading evidence on cause.
What is the link between the accused and this microwave link at Melfort? The
court would not benefit from obvious speculation, surmise and irrelevant
evidence. It must be excluded," said Ms Mtetwa.

In response, Attorney-General Mr Johannes Tomana urged the court to overrule
the objection saying the section of the Criminal Procedure and Eevidence Act
cited by the defence was being grossly misunderstood.

Mr Tomana said evidence that linked Bennett to the microwave link conspiracy
was already before the court through the email printouts tendered as
exhibits during the trial.

He said there was mention of the conspiracy in the emails and that there was
need for Mr Munyeki to explain on the effects of the foiled destruction of
the microwave link station.

Mr Tomana further told the court that the evidence was relevant since it was
meant to buttress the allegations already stated in the outline of the State’s

"It is the State’s case that the accused together with Hitschmann conspired
to destabilise the country through, among other things, bringing down the
microwave link station at Melfort.

"Exhibit 13 (emails) does speak of the conspiracy to destroy the microwave
link. It is not enough for the State to just prove that there was
communication between Hitschmann and Bennett in executive form.

"There is need to prove there is such a link in Melfort. This witness will
prove that, indeed, we do have a microwave link at Melfort. This is one of
the dilatory applications that is way off the mark. The objection should
accordingly fail," said Mr Tomana.

After hearing arguments from both the defence and the State, High Court
judge Justice Chinembiri Bhunu adjourned the matter to next Monday for a

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Mount Pleasant Public Outreach Newsletter:

Read the pdf here

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Children that slip across borders

Photo: Graeme Williams/UNICEF
Thousands of Zimbabwean children are on the move
PRETORIA, 26 February 2010 (IRIN) - Zimbabwe's still-limping economy can provide few essential services, so children living along the border cross into South Africa to attend school during the day or even to see a doctor, often at great risk to their personal safety.

The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) regional child protection advisor for East and Southern Africa, Cornelius Williams, said the movement of unaccompanied child migrants from Zimbabwe was one of the biggest problems confronting humanitarian agencies in the region. Between 3,000 and 15,000 Zimbabwean children are known to move into and out of their country every month.

"Unfortunately, governments continue to devote most of their resources to child trafficking, where much smaller numbers of children are involved," Williams told IRIN at a meeting of officials from 15 countries in Pretoria from 23 to 25 February to discuss ways of strengthening cross-border co-operation to protect children at risk.

''We will probably see a flood of child migrants to South Africa, not only attracted by economic benefits but a chance to spot their football hero''
William Duncan, deputy secretary-general of the Hague Conference on Private International Law, the Netherlands-based world organization for cross-border cooperation in civil and commercial matters, said an even bigger issue was that "There is no central authority in Zimbabwe to contact to help repatriate the child."

The Chief Family Advocate in South Africa's Department of justice and Constitutional Development, Petunia Seabi, said a solution to the problem was being worked out. "We are in talks with the Zimbabwean authorities to set up protocols to protect these children."

She said neither of the governments would prevent children from accessing services across the border, but would rather try addressing the risks the children took while crossing the border unaccompanied.

Duncan pointed out that the numbers of Zimbabwean children moving around the region only underlined the need for close cooperation between child protection agencies and "between judges in different countries, and the Hague Children's conventions make this possible."

Many African countries have yet to ratify the Hague Conventions pertaining to children, which seek to standardize international legislation and provide a comprehensive legal framework to for the cross-border movement of children; more governments have ratified the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Duncan acknowledged that most countries did not have the resources or the capacity to ratify the Hague Conventions, which include treaties on child abduction, inter-country adoption, protection of children and the international recovery of child support. He said the Hague Conference was trying to build capacity.

Delegates at the meeting said the discussion on the need for better cooperation between governments couldn't have come at a better time than on the eve of the FIFA World Cup, which kicks off in South Africa in June.

"We will probably see a flood of child migrants to South Africa, not only attracted by economic benefits but a chance to spot their football hero," said Williams.

The South African government was gearing up for the challenge, he said. They were planning safe areas for unaccompanied child migrants around the various stadia, and an advertising campaign aimed at visitors, which, they hoped, would deter child prostitution.


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

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HOT SEAT: Interview with Mayor of Harare Much Musunda

BROADCAST: 26 February 2010

Violet Gonda: My guest on the programme Hot Seat is the Mayor of Harare Much Musunda talking about the issue of service delivery in the capitol city. Welcome on the programme Mr Masunda.

Much Musunda: Thank you Violet.

VG: Now let's start with a general question - the residents of Harare voted for change and democracy - how have you implemented these promises?

MM: We have implemented some of them but not all of them because, I think what needs to be appreciated is that the infrastructure and other ancillary facilities had become so run down over the years that it wasn't going to be an overnight sort of situation to get them working as they used to. But there are some tangible results that we've achieved in the 19 months that we've been in office. But I think the starting point before we go into all these issues that are concerns to the residents and other stakeholders in Harare is just for your listeners to get an appreciation of how I got myself into the 'hot seat' because that is something that is not commonly understood. I did not stand for election as a councillor. What happened was, in the build up towards the harmonised elections that took place on the 29th of March 2008, amongst the many pieces of legislation that were amended was the Urban Councils Act. Now the Urban Councils Act was amended in two significant respects. The first amendment gave the elected councillors, and in the case of Harare there are 46 of them, so Harare is divided into 46 Wards. Now 45 of the Wards were won by MDC councillors - I'm talking about the mainstream MDC and the solitary Ward was won by a ZANU PF councillor. So those 46 democratically elected councillors were given an opportunity in terms of this amendment that I mentioned, to elect a mayor in either of two ways: either they stick to the hallowed and tried and tested method of choosing a mayor from amongst their number, in other words choosing one of them to become mayor; alternatively they were given an option to go to civic society and look for somebody with sufficiently grey hairs and somebody who is a glutton for punishment and that's how I got elected. So we then got sworn into office of the 1st of July 2008 but it's not been easy. I'm the first to confess but I think we have set about to focus on those critical areas and the very first one was water and sanitation.

VG: Mr Mayor, let me interrupt you on that - we will come to the issue of water and sanitation but I just want to go back to what you've just told us about how you were appointed. Now correct me if I'm wrong.
MM: Elected - not appointed.

VG: Is it correct that mayors under the amended Urban Councils Act are appointed by the Council for one year and that technically your position is now illegal?

MM: No it's not correct at all. I mean in the past the Urban Councils Act made a provision for the mayor to be re-elected on an annual basis but this amendment that came in, mayors that got elected in the manner that I did, and together with those that got elected in the old way, they are in office for five years. So my term will come to an end, in the absence of yet another harmonised set of elections, I'll be in office until the 2013 and that is the position. And I checked that out, I mean I've been an attorney for many years, for (inaudible) years and one thing I would not have overlooked was the basis upon which I'm in office, so that I think we can square it away, you know there's no question of my term having expired.

VG: And you mentioned that.

MM: Can we just finish off the.

VG: Before we go to the issues of service delivery, just to go back again to a point you raised just now - you said you were chosen from civic society, but according to Court papers filed by disgruntled members of the (inaudible) group, they quote you, or they name you as a respondent, as a leader in Simba Makoni's (inaudible) Are you part of this political party?

MM: No, I'm not a member of any political party, but the position as far as (inaudible) is concerned is that I as an attorney assisted in the formation of the (inaudible) Trust and I became one of the initial trustees as it were. You know those are two separate entities altogether. The (inaudible) Trust, you know I am a trustee and that is separate entity altogether from the (inaudible) Movement. And over the years Violet, you must appreciate that I've studiously and religiously and deliberately avoided getting embroiled in party politics because it was not going to be of any advantage to me as a practising attorney because as an attorney and as a partner at the time of Gill, Godlington and Gerrans which is one of the longest established firms in Zimbabwe, I could not afford a situation where some of my clients could start looking at whatever advice I give them in a jaundiced manner because I'm tarred with one political brush or another.

VG: But.

MM: And I have over the years I have rendered advice to all sorts of people; Simba Makoni has been one of the recipients of my legal advice, just like I've had a fairly close working relationship over the years with Morgan Tsvangirai and a number of members of ZANU PF.

VG: So what does retired Major Mudzi mean by saying you are one of those people still in control of some of the assets and resources belonging to the Party?

MM: The assets that they are squabbling over were registered in the name of the Trust and the trustees are myself, (inaudible) Dr (inaudible) Moyo and Dr (inaudible) Moyo I think resigned following his appointment as the Chief Operating Officer of the African Development Bank and he has since been replaced by (inaudible) a Chartered Accountant. So we are there Violet in a fiduciary capacity. The only person amongst the trustees who is actively involved as a member of (inaudible) Dawn Movement is (inaudible) so there's, I can appreciate the difficulty which Kudzai (inaudible) may have in appreciating the subtleties involved in all this because he is a military man as opposed to a professional man.

VG: OK, so let's go back to the issue of the Harare City Council and let me start by getting your response to complaints by residents about the poor performance of elected councillors. Why is that?

MM: Before I go into that Violet, can we complete the explanation which I've started giving about the two significant amendments that were made to the Urban Councils Act in the build-up towards the harmonised elections? I've explained to you how the elected councillors, the democratically elected councillors were given an option of choosing a mayor, right? What I've not yet explained, which I'm about to do now is how the minister responsible for Local Government, Rural and Urban Development was given a special dispensation, prerogative in other words to appoint Special Interest Councillors in all those urban settlements in Zimbabwe and there must be about, between 15 and 19 of them, in other words cities and towns and that dispensation says the Minister has the prerogative to appoint Special Interest Councillors, not exceeding 25% of the democratically elected councillors. So in the case of Harare as I said earlier, there are 46 democratically elected councillors, so 25% of that in round figures is 11, so we have a compliment of 57 councillors - 46 democratically elected councillors, of whom 45 are MDC, one is ZANU PF, plus the 11 Special Interest Councillors who were appointed by the Minister responsible, and in this case (inaudible) Chombo. So by the time we came into office, the last time that there had been an elected councillor in office was back in 2004 when Elias Mujiri was the Executive Mayor of Harare and then when he was hounded out of office before a series of commissions headed by amongst others, (inaudible) and up until the time that we came into office, Michael Mahachi and I think that it was during that period that things really got out of hand as it were. But the actual (inaudible) that we have as local authority should not be divorced from the social economic meltdown that occurred in the country as a result of hyper-inflation amongst other things and by the time we came to office, people were, the unemployment levels had reached an unprecedently high number of 90% plus and people were not able to pay for the services that they required. So to be more specific, the (inaudible) for instance, let's start with housing which is an issue that you raised with me, the more meaningful housing development for the best part of the last 20 years and the population of Harare has grown and there, as things stand, there's a relentless migration of people from rural areas to urban areas and when you look at for instance, the 58 hostels in Mbare, (inaudible) Hostel, (inaudible) and others, those hostels were built pre-Independence for single migrant workers and with the advent of Independence in 1980 we did a quick fix and sought to convert accommodation that was meant for single people into married quarters and hence the problems that we are having today. And so I think I can tell you for instance right now that we have initiated with the assistance and support of the Ministry of National Housing and Social Amenities, an initiative that will see a development, a serious development in terms of houses and that development is going to involve the private sector players like Old Mutual and CABS and as fate would have it, I'm Chairman of Old Mutual and CABS is a wholly owned subsidiary of Old Mutual and so we're quite serious, we have, as the City Council already identified areas where these housing settlements are going to be built.

VG: And also, still on the issue of housing, given this serious backlog on housing which was worsened by Operation (inaudible) does the Council have a current housing list?

MM: Yes we have, we have but it's not really up to date.

VG: What is it though so far?

MM: I think there's a backlog of, could be anything up to, could be between five hundred thousand and a million housing units - which is quite a lot. You know because these things in a normal environment are dealt with on an incremental basis, but if you have a situation like I described earlier where there's been no meaningful housing settlements built for the best part of about 20 years, then you've got a problem.

VG: And is it known or do you know yet how many housing units you actually own as Council?

MM: Well that's a (inaudible) question; all I can say at this stage is that we have under our jurisdiction 28 housing estates. In other words suburbs ranging from high density to medium density to low density and it gets a bit difficult to actually pin point the units that are actually needed to make up the total, but most of the high density suburbs, that's where you find the units that are actually owned by the people of Harare and have been rented out to tenants over the years whereas the majority of houses in the low density areas belong to individual house owners, but you'll be amazed at how much property the City of Harare actually owns. You know we have an exercise that is being undertaken at the moment that is nearing completion to just give us an indication of who is who and what's what in the Harare zoo as they say. And not only in respect of houses and other tangible assets but also doing a similar exercise to establish the real head count of people employed by the City of Harare. And that's something we embarked on immediately after coming into office in July 2008. We have a compliment at the moment of over 10 500 employees. We are arguably the second largest business in the country and the second largest employer in the country, second of course in both instances to government. But I genuinely believe that we could run the City more effectively from a cost point of view and service delivery point of view with less that the compliment of 10 500.

VG: Is it true that some former employees and also some senior government officials are occupying Council property or Council houses?

MM: Yes it is true, I'll not deny that and, but you see, when you look at some of these senior functionaries like the Town Clerk and the other ten heads of department because we've got 11 senior functionaries ranging from the Town Clerk right down to the recently appointed Director of Waste Management, as part of their service contract they have over the years been entitled to occupy a council house but what happened over the years is that some of them upon terminating their services with the City for whatever reason, they then got given the option to buy the houses that they occupy and others exercised their rights over those properties, others didn't. But you also have other situations where certain government officials were not doing anything remotely connected with the City Council's business, especially some of those officials that live outside Harare, they came to be in occupation of Council houses which were subsequently sold to them in pursuance of a resolution, Council resolution that was passed some time back to authorise the sale of the Council houses to sitting tenants (inaudible)

VG: Who were some of these government officials?

MM: I can't name them (inaudible) And there's a standing court case right now in which the City of Harare is seeking to evict Joseph Chinotimba from a Council house in Belvedere.

VG: Is he refusing to leave the house?

MM: Well the law is taking its course and and we have instituted eviction proceedings, yes. In fact there are instances and I believe Joseph Chinotimba's case is one of those instances where certain Council officials were not eligible for accommodation in certain areas, like in this case, Belvedere where for one reason or another were allowed to take occupation of these houses and they are now seeking to have those houses sold to them when in fact they shouldn't have been there in the first place. All these things are going to come out in the wash in this exercise that is being undertaken. I can give you umpteen other examples; you are familiar with Trafalgar Court which overlooks the Harare Gardens? That is a City of Harare asset and we've got shops on the ground floor and we've got offices up to I believe the third floor and the rest are residential flats and there are some government employees who are in occupation of those flats and these, they occupied those flats in terms of arrangements that were made way back and I think we need to have a look at all those cases with a view to rationalise and normalise the situation.

VG: And what about the victims of Operation (inaudible) What is the Council doing or what has the Council done to address the plight of the victims?

MM: I'm the first to admit that very little has been done other than the (inaudible) Project which was spearheaded by the ministries responsible and we've recently been asked to take over that Project and we are in the throes of doing so and I think your readers will be aware that (inaudible) Project was hastily put together following the (inaudible) scourge and in the course of putting all that together it's a classic example of putting the cart before the horse. You know the structures were put up before the stands were properly serviced, in other words there was no provision of water and sanitation facilities and but the structures are there so we need to move in there and rectify all those things and then get on with it.

VG: Is it true that an estimated 200 people actually faced eviction and thousands of informal traders across Harare also faced being forcibly removed without being given notice?

MM: No I don't think, that's a bit of an exaggeration, I think people need to see things in context. Let's go back to the situation that pertained immediately before and immediately after Independence. After Independence we have seen a whole lot of indiscriminate vending taking place within the City and there's been no political will to enforce the by-laws so what my Council is at pains to do is to clean up the City in a way and have all these vendors operate from designated points together with the commuter omnibus operators and the touts and others that have grown accustomed to doing things with total impunity and we are engaging constructively all the key players in the (inaudible) for instance with a view to having a, restoring order as it were.

VG: But some of your critics say that the Council is implementing policies that are identical to those of the illegal (inaudible) Commission and that with the latest threats of evictions you were actually forced to bow down or to bow to pressure after human rights organisations like Amnesty International put pressure on you to stop the latest evictions. What can you say about this?

MM: The evictions that attracted the attention of organisations like Amnesty International were evictions that had (inaudible) to, not so much to vending but with accommodation because we have squatter camps starting up here and there especially around the Borrowdale Race Course because you've got those poor folk who used to be employed by the Mashonaland Turf Club when the economy was still more buoyant that it is now and with the down turn of the economy the fortunes of the Mashonaland Turf Club took a nose dive and a lot of those poor folk were employed there as general workers and (inaudible) they lost their employment and they were provided historically with accommodation within the vicinity of Borrowdale Race Course and so those poor guys just spill over into the commonages that (inaudible) near the Borrowdale Race Course and those are the people that we need to find accommodation for and I've met International Zimbabwe chapter in my office together with the other human rights organisations that were understandably concerned with the welfare of the people that we are talking about and I said right let's find a win/win solution as far as we can do with this matter and they undertook to go there and in fact they've got two representatives from the squatter camp just outside Borrowdale Race Course and we have a lady who was brought along who was representing the curio sellers (inaudible) at Newlands shopping centre and we'd like to have these things done properly.

VG: But you were going to evict them before you had actually found alternative accommodation for them.

MM: Well there are no evictions that have taken place so far.

VG: But you were threatening to evict them.

MM: Yes we were because we need to take into account the interests of the other stakeholders whose interests are being prejudiced in the case of squatter camps, squatter camps that are far too near residencies, in the case of vendors, vending that is taking place within the city to the detriment of the legitimate shop owners who are paying rent and rates and yet they are not getting much in return. It is a matter that we have to deal with and deal with appropriately so it's not just a question of us enforcing the by-laws willy-nilly. We have to find a sustainable solution to the problem.

VG: Some say given the economic crisis does it not make sense to relax building controls and actually allow people to infill stands with approved structures and that's provided such a process does not occur on utility lines or other problematic areas. Wouldn't that actually solve the problem, the housing problem or the housing crisis?

MM: I'm not so sure that would be the answer. I think one thing that needs to be borne in mind is that Harare is amongst the most well-planned cities in sub-Saharan Africa. You have areas that are zoned for certain types of houses, whether they are low density, high density or medium density. The moment you start allowing, bending the rules as it were to accommodate divergent interests then you are going to have a problem. You are going to create a situation that will lead to the devaluation of properties and become an untenable situation that one sees in a number of sub-Saharan countries especially in West Africa, (inaudible) West Africa. But we have an overall plan for the development of Harare and that plan was put together painstakingly by experts on planning issues and unless that plan is revisited and changed, we have to stick to it.

VG: Let me go back to a question I asked earlier on about the residents' grievances and one of the grievances was that of the poor performance of elected councillors and I asked you why it was like that and you haven't really given me an answer to that so why is it that there's such poor performance by elected councillors and also the residents are complaining that the councillors are not holding meetings with their constituencies. What's happening?

MM: Yes, I think those are well-founded grievances which the ratepayers are making but the truth of the matter is that when these report back meetings are held, it's not everybody who is able to attend them, so I've been for instance, since I came into office to a number of high density areas and have had occasion to address meetings with the councillors for the Ward and some of those meetings have been very well attended. I recall going to a meeting in Tafara Community Centre and the Hall was packed to the rafters but the tragedy of the whole situation is that things had become so run down that people expect instant solutions to their problems especially the problems relating to water and sanitation, refuse removal and electricity and the fact of the matter as I keep saying, is that the infrastructure had been neglected for quite a long time to a point where the services that the residents so richly deserve cannot be provided.

VG: Is it your view that the Councillors, in your Council are generally uneducated and are not qualified to be in Council?

MM: I don't think it's a question of education as in possession of formal paper qualifications, it's a question I think of exposure. It is true that the majority of them have never, through no fault of their own, been exposed to the every facet of the community system that is in place within any local authority and Harare City Council is no exception. But one thing that the Councillors have, especially the democratically elected councillors is courage and I take my hat off to them for the raw courage that they have for having stood up to be counted and lift their heads above the parapet and want to bring about change that the people of Zimbabwe and in Harare in particular want and so richly deserve. So it's a huge learning curve for a lot of them and that's a fact because they've never been exposed to this way of doing things and what is not commonly understood by the rate payers is that councillors don't just rock up at a full Council meeting and start waxing lyrical about any of the issues that may have been drawn to their attention by the people who voted them into office. We have a committee system that has to work and work in a certain way. For instance we have got eight standing committees and most of those committees are fairly technical committees - we've got the Audit Committee, we've got the Finance and Development Committee. We've got the Environmental Management Committee, we've got the Business Committee, we've got the Procurement Committee, we've got the Human Resources and General Purposes Committee, we've got the Information and Publicity Committee and the eighth committee is arguably the largest because it encompasses health, education, housing, community services and licensing. And in all those committees you need people that have some background in the related topic that has to be dealt with and if you have amongst the councillors anybody who's not clued up on any of those issues then of course it's going to be a problem, but in an endeavour to plug the gaps that are there we have offered many of the Councillors capacity building programmes but it's going to take time for them to become completely au fait with issues that have to be dealt with and unfortunately, the minister responsible has not come to the party in terms of his choice of some of the Special Interest Councillors and I've been on record having said the minister ought to have maybe exercised his prerogative more judicially because when we started and having chatted to the 46 democratically elected Councillors it became apparent that there were certain glaringly absent skills amongst the 46 democratically elected Councillors and those skills could easily have been plugged by these 11 Special Interest Councillors that the minister responsible appointed and those skills that are glaringly absent have to do with strong accounting skills, strong engineering skills, strong entrepreneurial skills and strong business skills and anthropological and sociological skills because to have to deal with the (inaudible) matters affecting a metropolis like Harare you have to have people that have got the breadth of vision, people that are streetwise, people that keep their noses and ears to the ground and their eyes wide open.

VG: In the final part next week the Harare Mayor tells us, among other issues, why there is a crippling water crisis even though the Council received money to address the water problems. He talks about the status of the airport road deal, the saga behind the purchase of an expensive mayoral vehicle acquired at a time when the City was failing to deliver a reliable service to rate payers and he also explains measures the Council is taking to ease the burden faced by rate payers.

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Zim's not-so-free press

JASON MOYO | HARARE, ZIMBABWE - Feb 26 2010 06:00

The detention of a foreign journalist hired by the Zimbabwean government
hasn't done much to help the country's reputation. Jason Moyo reports

Walter Mzembi, Zimbabwe's sprightly tourism minister, has spent the past
year working to project the image of a country finally moving forward.

Hoping to convince the Mexican football team to camp in Zimbabwe ahead of
2010, Mzembi flew in a Mexican journalist to film a documentary in his home
town, Masvingo, site of the ancient city that gave Zimbabwe its name and one
of the country's top tourist attractions.

But security forces are unaccustomed to allowing foreigners with cameras
free range. Despite the journalist travelling in Mzembi's car, driven by the
minister's own driver, and carrying all the relevant documents, he was still

It was an embarrassment for the government, drawing an angry response from
Mzembi, who calls himself "Zimbabwe's PR manager".

"We cannot attract tourists if we do not look at our law and order," says
Mzembi, who is from President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party.

But the incident was more than just an embarrassment: it showed how little
has changed in the authorities' attitude towards the media.

Last year the government and the BBC made an event of the BBC's first open
broadcast from Zimbabwe in years. Since then, large foreign networks have
trooped back in.

The government is eager to portray a new image to the world, so foreign
journalists will have easier access to government corridors than local
journalists. But even months after bans on foreign media were lifted, local
newspapers remained banned. Hopes have now been raised after a new media
council was announced last week to replace the previous partisan commission.

Raphael Khumalo, from the ZimInd Group (whose owner, Trevor Ncube, is the
majority shareholder of the Mail & Guardian) has waited for months to launch
a new daily.

He told The Standard newspaper that he hoped the new media body would start
work immediately and speed up the licensing of new publications.

Nhlanhla Ngwenya, head of the Zimbabwe chapter of the Media Institute of
Southern Africa, said the new media commission was only "the first step
towards comprehensive media reforms".

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

Despite its monopoly having been struck down by the courts nine years ago,
ZBC, the state broadcaster, remains the country's only broadcaster, still
feeding viewers a diet of pro-Mugabe propaganda. This has driven millions of
Zimbabweans to buy decoders that illegally download free-to-air foreign

Media watchdogs worry that violations continue despite the unity government.
Earlier this month two directors of a distribution company for The
Zimbabwean newspaper, published in London, were charged for publishing
"falsehoods" over a story on Zanu-PF factionalism. The South African
National Editors' Forum condemned the harassment.

"Sanef calls on the Zimbabwe government to respect the principles under
which the unity government was formed -- one of those being the removal of
restrictions on the media and the restoration of press freedom -- and to end
the persistent harassment of the media."

According to the recent report, Attacks on the Press 2009 by the Committee
to Protect Journalists, up to 48 journalists have left the country since
2000 as a result of "sustained harassment".

Meanwhile, Reporters Without Borders said Zimbabwe must allow the new media
council to begin its work quickly.

Power players in Zimbabwe's media
Godfrey Majonga
Godfrey Majonga, head of the new Zimbabwe Media Council, will have the tough
job of leading media reforms in the face of strong resistance to change.
Majonga was a television anchor in the 1980s, but his career was cut short
after a fall from the balcony of a Harare apartment left him partially
paralysed. But he carved a new career path heading the Danhiko Project, a
training centre for the physically handicapped. There has been some
criticism of his appointment because Grace Mugabe is a Danhiko trustee, but
his appointment has generally been welcomed by journalists. His council
mostly includes former journalists and lawyers.

Rugare Gumbo
Zanu-PF's newly appointed information secretary will have a lot to say about
how media reforms turn out. A key mandate from Zanu-PF is to ensure the
closure of "pirate radio stations" run by exiled journalists. The party says
no reform can be discussed before the stations are closed down, but critics
say the foreign broadcasts are a direct result of Zanu-PF's media crackdown.

Webster Shamu
Information Minister Webster Shamu is an ex-journalist and a Zanu-PF
hardliner, despite earlier indications that he would reach out to
independent media.

He was one of the first black broadcasters in the former Rhodesia and was
later involved in nationalist broadcasts into Zimbabwe from Mozambique
during the liberation struggle.

He edited Zanu-PF's mouthpiece, The People's Voice, before becoming a
minister in 2004.

Key media houses
Zimbabwe has one broadcaster, the ZBC, which has one television station and
four radio channels. The station remains openly loyal to Zanu-PF.

Zimpapers is the largest news­paper group. It is majority owned by the
government, but Old Mutual and other private interests hold shares.
Zimpapers owns several titles, including the country's only two dailies,
which are loyal to Mugabe.

The main independent houses are the ZimInd Group, which publishes two
weeklies and intends to launch a daily, and the Financial Gazette, which
also plans a daily.

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Helping Zimbabwe

Editorial Comment

Published: February 25 2010 23:44 | Last updated: February 25 2010 23:44

Jacob Zuma, South African president, believes lifting the targeted sanctions
against Zimbabwe would help break political deadlock there, and will use his
state visit to the UK next week to press his case. Nothing in the conduct of
Robert Mugabe's regime makes this move attractive to western countries.

It is a little over a year since Mr Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of
the Movement for Democratic Change, formed a coalition administration. The
country is still no closer to achieving the political stability needed for
fresh elections.  Mr Tsvangirai can point to some successes - the thugs of
Zanu-PF have been reined in and dollarisation of the economy has stabilised
a deteriorating situation, and put goods in the shops - for those who have
access to foreign exchange. But children still go hungry, schools remain
short of basics, clinics are without drugs and thugs remain a constant
background presence. Political uncertainty hobbles prospects of a more
sustainable economic recovery.

Mr Zuma is right that South Africa can claim some credit for brokering the
coalition agreement, and rescuing Zimbabwe from collapse. Since becoming
president, Mr Zuma himself has played a more even-handed role than his

He might score more points in the UK berating Mr Mugabe for intransigence,
yet he deserves to be heard when he argues that there is little evidence the
US and European sanctions have changed the behaviour of Mr Mugabe or the
ruling elite. Worse, their continuance has served as a pretext for Mr Mugabe
to block aspects of the coalition deal. But the flaw in this argument is
that if the sanctions were lifted, Mr Mugabe would find other excuses to
ignore the terms of the deal he does not want to implement.

Even so, Mr Zuma's visit is an opportunity to try, once again, to find a way
forward for Zimbabwe. The British government should present him with a wish
list of conditions that would precede any change in sanctions: for example,
the press should be allowed to operate with freedom; political prisoners
should be released; and clear signs of progress on constitutional reforms
are needed before any fresh elections. Mr Zuma should, in return, be
authorised to say that sanctions would then be lifted and phased aid to the
government from western donors would be resumed.

There is no guarantee of success. But at least then there would be a
credible attempt to resolve the Zimbabwe conundrum.

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A letter from the diaspora

26th February 2010

Dear Friends.
It's not often one gets the opportunity for a really good laugh when
following events in Zimbabwe. This week, it was the testimony of the
prosecution's 'expert' witness at Roy Bennett's ongoing treason trial that
reduced me to tears of mirth. Not much to laugh about there you might think
but Perekayi Mutsetse turned out to be an IT 'expert' whose knowledge of
computer technology was so slight as to be laughable. He had absolutely no
clue what was meant by a 'hacker', he had never heard the term he told the
court. "You mean to tell this court that you have never heard of the hackers
who have for years hacked into the Pentagon website?" Mutsetse was asked by
the defence counsel. In response the hapless 'expert' asked "What is the
Pentagon?" In fact, so great was the man's ignorance that the judge was
forced to remind Mutstese that it was actually his job as a witness to
answer the questions not ask them! As he left the witness box, this 'expert'
had the temerity to address the learned judge with the following words,
"Ndinotendai nokutambisa nguva yangu" or "Thanks for wasting my time" a
remark which should certainly have earned him a stern reprimand at least but
the docile judge let it pass without a word. It transpires that the man was
in fact nothing more than a cable layer and not the Provincial Engineer with
Africom as the prosecution had claimed!

Today, tears of mirth have been replaced by indignation as I hear that the
AG intends to call another 'expert' to show that the emails in question
between Roy Bennett and Peter Hitchman are genuine evidence of a plot to
commit sabotage as the prosecution claims. "This is not prosecution, it is
persecution" claimed Bennett's defence counsel - but then we all knew that
from the start of this ridiculous farce of a trial. Once again the trial is
deferred while the judge goes away to think about, or be told by his
masters, what to do next. The fact is that the state will go to any lengths
to get a conviction against Roy Bennett. What seemed at first laughable is
now revealed for what it is, a contemptible misuse of the courts aided by an
ambitious and self-serving Attorney General and a docile judge. The aim is
to put Robert Mugabe's opponents behind bars; Bennett's trial has nothing to
do with justice and truth but everything to do with locking up your
opponents. The time-honoured dictum of 'innocent until proven guilty' has no
meaning for the likes of AG Johannes Tomana, his task is to please his
master, Robert Mugabe.

While this battle was being waged in the High Court, out on the streets
hundreds of banner-waving Zanu PF youths accompanied by the police were
marching to the US Embassy ostensibly to voice their rage at the continuing
sanctions. In reality, their target was Morgan Tsvangirai and the MDC.
Rumours that they had been fed liquor and mbange may or may not be true but
their highly inflammatory comments about the MDC Prime Minister certainly
suggest that they are the forerunners in what promises to be a violent
onslaught on the former opposition party in the run-up to elections. A
photographer attempting to capture the Youth march on film was kidnapped and
held for two hours by the marchers. What possible reason could they have to
confiscate Manyere's film unless they did not want the country and the world
to see the highly personal and insulting anti-Tsvangirai messages written on
their banners?

Out in the rural areas there are reports of torture bases being set up at
various centres around the country, another reminder that Mugabe and Zanu PF
have not changed their ways despite being in a Government of National Unity.
Door-to door visits in Epworth by Zanu PF thugs to track down MDC supporters
is more evidence of the use of violence as a political weapon. One hopeful
sign occurred this week, however. At a meeting in Masvingo addressed by Zanu
PF bigwigs, the crowd responded to the usual slogans of "Pasina MDC, Pasina
Tsvangirai" with outspoken complaints, questioning why such slogans were
necessary when the country now has a Unity government. Perhaps people are
beginning to see through Zanu PF's hypocrisy and greed at last.
And on the subject of greed, the diamond saga goes on. One look at the board
members of the company mining the diamonds reveals what a bunch of crooks
they are. There is an Israeli diamond smuggler who has served time in an
Angolan prison, a white former mercenary in Sierra Leone and a man wanted in
Thailand for diamond fraud. Who was it who said you could tell the calibre
of a man by the company he keeps!

So while Zimbabwe struggles on in near darkness and even courts are
operating by candlelight, Robert Mugabe and his cohorts continue to plunder
the country's mineral wealth. We learn this week that it was the power
company Zesa which provided Mugabe with the millions he needed to buy the
war vets' loyalty back in 1997, just before the land invasions began in
earnest. Speaking of land invasions, I had another moment of mirth when I
read this week that Stan Mudenge the Minister of Higher Education, is
attempting to push the war vets off his stolen farm. "Anyone on that farm is
there illegally because I own Chikore Farm" declared Mudenge. No doubt the
Honourable Minister can prove ownership of his stolen farm with the
necessary Title Deeds? With the Indigenisation Law coming into force on
March 1st, some fierce ownership battles lie ahead I suspect. No laughing
matter there.
Yours in the (continuing) struggle PH.


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Zimbabwe turns on PR spin, but same old crooks run show

February 27, 2010

EVERYTHING and nothing has changed in Zimbabwe and Zimbabwe Cricket. Of
course, the two are inextricably connected.

The links between the senior ranks of ZC and the ruling party are close and
not to be denied by idle remark. ZC's broadcasting bus has often been used
by the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front in its election
campaigns. ZC bigwigs have allies and business partners in the upper
echelons of the beaten but still ruling party.

Zanu and ZC have fed greedily upon the carcass of the country and game they
are supposed to care about. Greed, selfishness and bullying have been their
trademarks, and it would be folly to assume that either has changed merely
because the times dictate a softening of tone. Survival is their aim. They
are playing tricks, exploiting the hopes of the optimists and the goodwill
of the unknowing.

On the surface, Zimbabwe and its cricketing body have come a long way.
Trounced at the last election, fearing a backlash from African leaders, no
longer glibly able to blame the West for the starvation, sickness and
bankruptcy that have blighted their land, Zanu-PF entered into a unity
government with the popular, respected but divided Movement for Democratic
Change. Of course, it was a ruse. MDC knew it but lacked any other means of
saving the people. Zanu rigged elections, fixed the media, ran the courts,
controlled the army, and knew non-government organisations could be relied
upon to avoid the abyss.

Obviously Zanu has never had the slightest intention of conceding power. It
regards ruling the country as its right. It has too much money to lose and
cannot leave the table. Instead it will obfuscate as long as possible and
then stage a coup.

Under the deal, Zanu retained its grip on the things that matter to them -
power and money - and allowed the winning party to run schools and hospitals
and so forth. Just to make sure the MDC did not get above itself, the
despots put their own men in charge of the legal and financial offices,
whereupon they continued to fleece the nation.

Inevitably, the ZC bigwigs have likewise concentrated on retaining their own
positions the better to continue their activities unhampered. To that end
they have created a facade of friendliness, a strategy intended to prove
that they were genuine and able to lead ZC away from bitterness and towards
toleration. Never mind that they created the bitterness in the first place.

ZC has appointed whites to senior positions. It is part of a charm
offensive. Alistair Campbell, a former captain and least impressive of all
the previously disenchanted players, has accepted a position as chairman of
selectors. Heath Streak is assisting with the bowling. In a few months,
Grant Flower will take charge of the batting. Neil Manthorp, former
journalist of no little distinction, is working as the team's media manager
in the West Indies. Now, Alan Butcher, formerly of Surrey and England, has
been chosen as coach.

On paper it looks good, almost sincere. It is designed to ease the pressure
on ZC, to make it acceptable, and to ensure Zimbabwe recaptures its Test
status so the money keeps rolling in.

But the money is the problem. Where has it all gone? Suddenly ZC can afford
to hire batting and bowling coaches and appoint a foreigner to replace a
local as coach. Suddenly there is enough dosh in the books, or anyhow in the
safe in the office of chief executive Ozias Bvute. Previously it could not
find a mower to cut the grass and the players were paid a pittance. When
wicketkeeper/batsman Tatenda Taibu dared to ask for more he and his wife
were threatened and fled the country.

ZC tries to scare off critics by spreading little stories about their
foibles, even publishing them in tame little newspapers that omit to mention
torture camps, rape, corruption, and the hundreds of millions of dollars and
diamonds stolen under the noses of people desperate for food and medicine.

Can there be normal sport in an abnormal society?

Already Manthorp has written one piece praising the new guard at ZC. But the
new guard is the old guard dressed in better clothes. Meanwhile, cricket
administrator Peter Chingoka and Bvute retain their grip on power in ZC as
surely, tightly and as cleverly as their odious political masters retain
their grip on the levers of political power.

Chingoka and Bvute are extremely wealthy men with properties in London, New
York and Cape Town, and children attending overseas colleges. Chingoka has
not worked for years and his fellow manipulator arrived from Botswana with a
trail of debts. Both have prepared for all eventualities. Bvute is keen to
obtain his green card. Both are angry about the freezing of their overseas
accounts and travel restrictions.

Torn between a desire to assist those genuinely seeking to liberate Zimbabwe
and its cricket and a desire to thwart the black tyranny that replaced
arrogant white rule, cricket countries concerned are in a tricky position.
For now it's best to retain sanctions, and to remember that leopards don't
change their spots.

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