The ZIMBABWE Situation
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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.
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
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.
presses on with local ownership law: minister
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
Development, Indigenisation and Empowerment Minister Saviour
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.
Kasukuwere told a business conference in Bulawayo that the government
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
are being emotional about them. We are not about to destroy the
Kasukuwere said foreign investors were still welcome to invest
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,"
"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
Mugabe clash on indigenisation act
President Robert Mugabe and his top economic advisor, Reserve Bank
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
The act has already created a storm within the inclusive
Zanu PF opposing it while the Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) led by
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai is opposing the largely
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
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
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
"Noble as this objective (indigenization) is, however, our well
advice to legislators and government in general is that a fine
should be struck between the objectives of indigenization and the
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
"As monetary authorities, we call upon government to ensure that
empowerment drive is not derailed by a few well connected cliques, some
are already making the most noise in ostensible support of this
who would want to amass wealth to themselves in a starkly greedy
irresponsible manner, whilst the intended majority remain with nothing
happened in the past with respect to government empowerment schemes such
the land reform programme," said Gono is his 2007 statement.
said his attack on the act was because he had already received reports
senior and well connected personalities had already positioned
muscle into certain mining, manufacturing, financial and other
He added that nearly three decades after independence the
heavyweights should forget about getting business for
Although Gono could not be reached for comment in Harare Friday as
said to be out of the country, a top RBZ official said the central
still maintains the same position but was being ignored by Mugabe and
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.
we advised against further farm invasions and were ignored and we
against arbitrary prize controls and were snubbed. We are supposed
government advisors on economic issues but they listen to greedy and
politicians and Zanu PF aligned businessmen who are looting the
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
Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) and the Zimbabwe Students Union
have also attacked the act.
PF attempts to block millions of exiles from voting
By Tichaona Sibanda
Millions of Zimbabweans living in exile could still be
denied their voting
rights under the proposed ZANU PF nationality
The former ruling party's position paper on the new
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
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
repression and poverty after a decade-long economic crisis
blamed on Robert
Mugabe's controversial policies, including his farm seizure
Following the 2000 parliamentary elections, in which ZANU PF beat
with the narrowest of margins (six seats) the government in 2001
law that stripped citizenship status and rights of close to 1.5
Zimbabwean mine and commercial farm workers born of parents from
Mozambique and Zambia. This exercise resulted in statelessness for
individuals who were also denied the right to vote in the 2002
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
legislative set up. I regard this as election posturing,"
Josh Chigwangwa, another exiled Zimbabwean living in the UK
proposal by ZANU PF was 'very dangerous' in that it sought to
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,"
industry lashes out at KP over Zim blood diamonds
By Alex Bell
Leaders in the global diamond industry have lashed out at the
trade watchdog, the Kimberley Process, for allowing Zimbabwe's
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
Zimbabwe are mined under violent conditions. Beth Gerstein
from the online
American jeweller Brilliant Earth, told SW Radio Africa that
enough to accept a diamond's Kimberley Process certification; you
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
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
"Despite the temporary ban, gems from Chiadzwa are being
smuggled out of
Zimbabwe and sold on the global diamond market," Gerstein
The Kimberley Process has previously faced criticism for its definition
'blood' diamond, a definition that the body hid behind when it decided
to ban Zimbabwe from international trade last year. A widely supported
had been called for over abuses at the Chiadzwa diamond fields, where
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
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.
meantime there has been no way to control the illegal sale of the
are being airlifted out of Chiadzwa with no authorisation from the
Process. An official from the Minerals Marketing Corporation of
(MMCZ) made the shock admittance in Parliament earlier this month
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
Circumcision: Zimbabwe's latest anti-HIV weapon
Friday, 26 February 2010
By Steve Vickers
Lovemore bravely looks on at the work of the doctor and nurse as they
perform the circumcision.
The operation is done under local
"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
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
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
"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
"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."
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.
The programme was accompanied by an advertising
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
"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.
Zimbabwe’s national flower faces extinction
Thulani Mpofu, Foreign Correspondent
- Last Updated: February 25. 2010 9:02PM UAE / February 25. 2010 5:02PM
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).
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
CIO recruits illegal vendors as informers
Friday, 26 February 2010 10:22
From Special correspondent in Harare
Zimbabwe's premier spy agency, the Central Intelligence
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
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
activities of unsuspecting targeted individuals," he
The CIO source said most of the recruited youths have been issued
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
said the Vendor. "Whenever possible, we are expected to
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.
was arrested together with my colleagues for illegal foreign
dealings and taken to CIO's provincial offices at Harare
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
The vendors were part of Zanu PF youths who this week marched
Harare against Western imposed sanctions and the so called pirate
The marchers threatened unspecified action against Prime
Morgan Tsvangirai if the sanctions are not removed immediately.
has already called on the police to arrest the Zanu PF youths
threatening the life of Tsvangirai and the office of the Prime
The youths recruited as informers by the CIO said they have
promised jobs in the police force, army, CIO and other
Zimbabwe's CIO and the military have been
accused of gross human
rights abuses and in the run up to the June 2008
led a Zanu PF terror campaign which saw hundreds of
supporters and officials murdered, tortured and
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.
the identity of the author of this story cannot be revealed as he is
Harare, the story was edited by our editor-in-chief Admore Tshuma who is
currently based in Cape Town on a research programme.
U.S. official discusses Zim engagement with multi-lateral lenders
Says U.S. sanctions are not a factor in Zim’s access to
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
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
“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.
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
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
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
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
# # #
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, email@example.com Website: http://harare.usembassy.gov
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
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
# # #
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,
Bennett’s defence objects to ‘microwave
February 26, 2010
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.
argued that the evidence Mr Munyeki was about to give, as summarised in
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
Ms Mtetwa urged the court to exclude Mr Munyeki’s evidence
from the trial
citing Section 252 of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence
precludes such evidence from being heard in court.
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
evidence led so far in the trial, nothing was placed before the
the microwave link issue and that the State should not deal with
without shedding light on the cause.
"There is no evidence as to which of
the alleged weapons could destroy a
microwave link at Melfort.
can the State lead evidence of effect before leading evidence on cause.
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.
Attorney-General Mr Johannes Tomana urged the court to overrule
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
before the court through the email printouts tendered as
exhibits during the
He said there was mention of the conspiracy in the emails and that
need for Mr Munyeki to explain on the effects of the foiled
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
the State’s case that the accused together with Hitschmann conspired
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
"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.
arguments from both the defence and the State, High Court
Chinembiri Bhunu adjourned the matter to next Monday for a
Mount Pleasant Public Outreach Newsletter:
Read the pdf here
Children that slip across borders
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
"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.
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."
|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
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.
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
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
HOT SEAT: Interview with Mayor of Harare Much Musunda
BROADCAST: 26 February
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
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.
- 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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Feedback can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org
JASON MOYO | HARARE, ZIMBABWE - Feb 26 2010 06:00
detention of a foreign journalist hired by the Zimbabwean government
done much to help the country's reputation. Jason Moyo reports
Mzembi, Zimbabwe's sprightly tourism minister, has spent the past
working to project the image of a country finally moving forward.
to convince the Mexican football team to camp in Zimbabwe ahead of
Mzembi flew in a Mexican journalist to film a documentary in his home
Masvingo, site of the ancient city that gave Zimbabwe its name and one
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
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.
told The Standard newspaper that he hoped the new media body would start
work immediately and speed up the licensing of new
Nhlanhla Ngwenya, head of the Zimbabwe chapter of the Media
Southern Africa, said the new media commission was only "the
towards comprehensive media reforms".
"We hope the
government will complement this with the repeal of such laws as
to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, the Broadcasting
and other obnoxious provisions in other Acts which hinder media
Despite its monopoly having been struck down by the courts
nine years ago,
ZBC, the state broadcaster, remains the country's only
feeding viewers a diet of pro-Mugabe propaganda. This has
driven millions of
Zimbabweans to buy decoders that illegally download
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
"Sanef calls on the Zimbabwe government to respect the
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
According to the recent report, Attacks on the Press 2009 by the
to Protect Journalists, up to 48 journalists have left the country
2000 as a result of "sustained harassment".
Reporters Without Borders said Zimbabwe must allow the new media
begin its work quickly.
Power players in Zimbabwe's media
Godfrey Majonga, head of the new Zimbabwe Media Council, will have
job of leading media reforms in the face of strong resistance to
Majonga was a television anchor in the 1980s, but his career was cut
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.
Zanu-PF's newly appointed information secretary will have a lot to say
how media reforms turn out. A key mandate from Zanu-PF is to ensure
closure of "pirate radio stations" run by exiled journalists. The party
no reform can be discussed before the stations are closed down, but
say the foreign broadcasts are a direct result of Zanu-PF's media
Information Minister Webster Shamu is an
ex-journalist and a Zanu-PF
hardliner, despite earlier indications that he
would reach out to
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
He edited Zanu-PF's mouthpiece, The People's Voice, before
minister in 2004.
Key media houses
Zimbabwe has one
broadcaster, the ZBC, which has one television station and
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
The main independent houses are the ZimInd Group, which publishes
weeklies and intends to launch a daily, and the Financial Gazette, which
also plans a daily.
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
Mr Zuma is right that South Africa can claim some credit for
coalition agreement, and rescuing Zimbabwe from collapse.
president, Mr Zuma himself has played a more even-handed role
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
There is no guarantee of success. But at least then there would
credible attempt to resolve the Zimbabwe conundrum.
letter from the diaspora
26th February 2010
not often one gets the opportunity for a really good laugh when
events in Zimbabwe. This week, it was the testimony of the
'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
Mutsetse turned out to be an IT 'expert' whose knowledge of
technology was so slight as to be laughable. He had absolutely no
was meant by a 'hacker', he had never heard the term he told the
mean to tell this court that you have never heard of the hackers
for years hacked into the Pentagon website?" Mutsetse was asked by
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
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
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
justice and truth but everything to do with locking up your
time-honoured dictum of 'innocent until proven guilty' has no
the likes of AG Johannes Tomana, his task is to please his
While this battle was being waged in the High Court, out on the
hundreds of banner-waving Zanu PF youths accompanied by the police
marching to the US Embassy ostensibly to voice their rage at the
sanctions. In reality, their target was Morgan Tsvangirai and the
Rumours that they had been fed liquor and mbange may or may not be true
their highly inflammatory comments about the MDC Prime Minister
suggest that they are the forerunners in what promises to be a
onslaught on the former opposition party in the run-up to elections.
photographer attempting to capture the Youth march on film was kidnapped
held for two hours by the marchers. What possible reason could they have
confiscate Manyere's film unless they did not want the country and the
to see the highly personal and insulting anti-Tsvangirai messages
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!
Zimbabwe struggles on in near darkness and even courts are
candlelight, Robert Mugabe and his cohorts continue to plunder
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
Yours in the
(continuing) struggle PH.
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
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
campaigns. ZC bigwigs have allies and business partners in the
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
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
On the surface, Zimbabwe and its cricketing body have come a
Trounced at the last election, fearing a backlash from African
longer glibly able to blame the West for the starvation,
bankruptcy that have blighted their land, Zanu-PF entered into
government with the popular, respected but divided Movement for
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.
the deal, Zanu retained its grip on the things that matter to them -
and money - and allowed the winning party to run schools and hospitals
so forth. Just to make sure the MDC did not get above itself, the
put their own men in charge of the legal and financial offices,
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.
paper it looks good, almost sincere. It is designed to ease the pressure
ZC, to make it acceptable, and to ensure Zimbabwe recaptures its Test
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
ZC tries to scare off critics by spreading little stories about
foibles, even publishing them in tame little newspapers that omit to
torture camps, rape, corruption, and the hundreds of millions of
diamonds stolen under the noses of people desperate for food and
Can there be normal sport in an abnormal
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,
administrator Peter Chingoka and Bvute retain their grip on power in
surely, tightly and as cleverly as their odious political masters
their grip on the levers of political power.
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
debts. Both have prepared for all eventualities. Bvute is keen to
green card. Both are angry about the freezing of their overseas
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.