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Judge allows email evidence against Bennett

By Violet Gonda
3 February 2010

High Court judge Justice Chinembiri Bhunu ruled on Wednesday that the
disputed emails linking the MDC Treasurer General Roy Bennett to an alleged
plot to destabilise the former ZANU PF government were admissible.

The emails are allegedly between Bennett and the State's key witness Peter
Hitschmann. The emails allegedly show communication between the two, and how
they conspired to 'blow up communication lines'. They have both disowned the

Defence lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa argued the emails were 'fake,' and moved to
show the court how easy it is to create emails as though they were coming
from a particular email address.

Hitschmann, various MDC officials, including Giles Mutsekwa, who is now the
MDC co-Home Affairs Minister, and some police officers were arrested in 2006
in connection with this case but were acquitted. However Bennett is still
facing the same charges of attempting to commit acts of banditry and

Last week the judge said Hitschmann's confessions implicating Bennett were
invalid, after the state's star witness said he had been tortured into
linking Bennett to the crime. But in his ruling on Wednesday the judge said
the emails were allegedly sent before Hitschmann's torture and therefore
could not be tainted by the alleged abuse suffered by the firearms dealer.
Justice Bhunu therefore ruled that the disputed emails are admitted as

The defence lawyer then produced some 'fake emails' during the cross
examination of State witness Precious Matare, to show the court how easy it
is for anyone to hack into an email address and send emails from that

One of the false emails used by the defence to prove this point implicated
the Attorney General Johannes Tomana, who is also the prosecutor in the
Bennett case. When Matare began reading the fake email, the Attorney General
quickly jumped up to oppose and to block the defence's line of argument.
Tomana argued that it was inappropriate to 'caricature' the person of the
Attorney General in these proceedings.

Observers in court said it was pretty clear that Tomana saw that this kind
of evidence would be damaging to his case and likely make a fatal flaw in
his argument. Mtetwa maintained she was attempting to demonstrate that the
alleged emails between her client and Hitschmann could have been produced by

The High Court judge adjourned the hearing to Monday where he is expected to
make a ruling on whether the defence can continue to show the fake emails.

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Court ordered diamond transfer halted by armed robbers

By Alex Bell
03 February 2010

The planned and court-ordered transportation of an estimated 60 kgs of
diamonds to the Reserve Bank has been suspended, after armed robbers raided
the offices of the legal owners of the Chiadzwa diamond claim.

Eight men reportedly armed with AK47's raided the offices of the African
Consolidated Resources (ACR) mining firm, which is in the middle of an
ownership wrangle with the state approved mining firm, Mbada. The attack at
the ACR offices took place shortly after midnight on Tuesday and four
security officials were reportedly assaulted by the robbers, who made off
with computer equipment and a vehicle that was later found abandoned.

The ownership fight between Mbada and ACR, which holds the title deeds to
the diamond claim that Mbada has continued to mine, led to last week's
Supreme Court order to hand over all diamonds to the Reserve Bank. Mbada had
attempted to auction off the 300 000 carats worth of diamonds last month, a
sale that was called off at the last minute because officials from the
watchdog Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe (MMCZ) had not been
informed. The MMCZ was then ordered to transfer the diamonds to the Reserve
Bank for 'safekeeping' until the ownership dispute was settled.

The raid at ACR's offices is now believed to be linked to the plans to
transfer the gems to the Reserve Bank. The transportation of the stones has
been suspended because of these fears.

"We suspect the raid has to do with the intended transportation of diamonds
from our offices to the RBZ as per the Supreme Court ruling," an MMCZ
official told ZimOnline.

The armed robbery and suspension of the diamond transfer comes as concern
has continued growing this week about the building of a secret airstrip near
the diamond claim. Diplomats and analysts quoted by the UK's Telegraph
newspaper believe that the mile-long runway is intended for arms shipments,
probably from China. The paper reports that it is likely to facilitate an
illegal trade in arms to be paid for in diamonds from the Chiadzwa claim,
where the military, still loyal to the Robert Mugabe regime, is still firmly
and brutally in control. Aerial pictures of the secret airstrip show
construction work is well under way, with a newly built control tower
apparently complete and the runway nearly ready for surfacing.

The ongoing militarisation of the diamond fields is in direct contravention
of a directive by the Kimberley Process, the international body tasked with
ending the trade in conflict diamonds. The diamond trade monitor has come
under increasing criticism for its lenient approach to Zimbabwe, where there
is substantial evidence of human rights abuse and murder at the Chiadzwa
diamond fields. Zimbabwe escaped a ban by the Kimberley Process last year,
and was instead told to bring its trade standards in line with international
expectations by June 2010, and demilitarise the zone. This has not happened
and there are fears that abuse at the hands of the military is ongoing.

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Dark clouds hover over constitution-making process

Crisis Coalition Press Release - 13 Feb: Dark clouds hover over
constitution-making process as arrests and intimidation of MDC supporters

While the Parliament Select Committee, which is spearheading the
constitution making process, is set to deploy teams for the outreach
meetings, a dark cloud hovers over the success of the process owing to the
arrests and intimidation of Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) supporters
in mostly peri-urban and rural areas. According to a member of COPAC, the
committee is expected to gazette names of teams carrying out the outreach
program today, 3 February 2010. A total of 630 people are carrying out the
outreach over a period of 65 days countrywide.

Although the process is witnessing significant progress following almost two
weeks of uncertainty owing to disagreements between the political parties,
arrests of MDC supporters on trumped up charges and terror campaigns by
suspected state agents, members of the uniformed forces and ZANU PF
supporters in mostly peri-urban and rural areas continue. According to
reports received by The Coalition, the terror campaigns are aimed at
ensuring the adoption of the Kariba Draft constitution or maintenance of the
current constitution, amended 19 times over a period of 23 years. These
reports could ultimately result in a skewed outcome.

On Saturday 30 January 2010, 62 members of the MDC were arrested under the
Public Order and Security Act (POSA) for allegedly holding an unsanctioned
meeting at the party's district office in Mount Darwin. This was despite the
fact that the meeting was internal and thus, did not require a clearance.
Although 50 of the 62 supporters were released on the same day, 12 remain in
police custody at Bindura Police Station and were scheduled to appear in
court yesterday, 2 February 2010. In Binga, on Tuesday 26 January 2010,
eight members of the Morgan Tsvangirai led party were arrested and later
released for convening a meeting without police clearance. As in the Mount
Darwin case, the meeting was an internal gathering where members of the
political party in the area were discussing constitutional matters.

An independent constitution monitoring project, ZZZICOMP comprised of the
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), Zimbabwe Election Support Network
(ZESN) and Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) released a report which stated that
there are at least eight documented and confirmed cases of assault, torture
and other forms of intimidation perpetrated against MDC supporters by
suspected State agents and ZANU PF supporters in Mudzi, Kuwadzana,
Domboshawa, Chimbondora, Harare, Cheramwiwa and Mashonaland Central. The
report also mentions that there are some politicians holding meetings
suggesting answers to what they say are the talking points which the
Parliament Select Committee will use during the outreach phase and demanding
that people adopt the Kariba Draft constitution. This is allegedly happening
in areas such as Matabeleland North, Chitungwiza, Mashonaland West,
Mashonaland East, Midlands and Masvingo.

[Sokwanele note: For more on the concerns expressed above, please read our
previous post titled Zanu PF's dirty tactics in Zimbabwe's constitution
making process. The post looks closely at a document drafted by Zanu PF for
the sole purpose of enabling "Zanu PF political mobilisation teams to
concentrate on the issues that are likely to be contested in the
constitution-making process".]

According to a source in the Eastern border town of Mutare, reports of
intimidation and threats of violence against MDC supporters are escalating
in the Manicaland province particularly in Chimanimani East (from Cashel
valley and Nedziwa) and Buhera North. ZANU PF supporters and some members of
the uniformed forces are allegedly hosting meetings telling people not to
participate in the constitution making process unless they are advocating
for either the Kariba draft constitution or the continued use of the current
constitution. At the meetings, participants are allegedly receiving
information that the MDC is advocating for 'inhumane' rights such as
abortion and homosexuality regardless of the fact that both rights hinge on
the respect of Freedom of Choice and thus should not be classified as
'inhumane' rights. The leaders of these groups are also threatening
villagers with assault and ex-communication from their areas if they take
part in the constitution making process.

These developments in the political arena are an indication of ZANU PF's
determination to ensure that the envisaged constitution suffers a still
birth. The former ruling party continues to use uniformed forces and the
police to intimidate the people of Zimbabwe giving credence to the argument
presented by The Coalition during a discussion on Thursday 28 January 2010
that although ZANU PF lost the 2008 election to the MDC, the political party
retains significant power over MDC as they are in control of the security

There is thus need for civil society and Zimbabweans at large to advocate
for institutional and legislative reforms during the constitution making
process for a democratic constitution to come out. As long as repressive
laws such as POSA still exist and security forces remain under ZANU PF
control, the outcome of the constitution could be pre-determined by
President Mugabe's party.

This entry was posted by Sokwanele on Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010 at 2:17

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Election whistleblower living in fear after death threats

By Tichaona Sibanda
3 February 2010

Shepherd Yuda, the 38 year-old former prison officer, famed for exposing how
Robert Mugabe's ZANU PF party rigged the ballot in the 2008 Presidential
run-off, revealed on Wednesday he still receives threatening letters and
phone calls.

The clandestine footage Yuda shot inside jail gave incontrovertible proof of
how the military hierachy stole the elections for Mugabe by forcing rank and
file members of the armed forces to vote for him in front of their

After the expose, Yuda fled to the UK where he's now in his second year at
university studying applied science and forensic investigations. Speaking on
the programme, The Hidden Story, he admits paying a price for his actions.
He has been receiving torrents of abusive and threatening e-mails since
2008, and his family and close friends have not been spared either.

"I am very concerned about the harassment of relatives and friends in
Zimbabwe," Yuda said, adding that "there were threats sent to my e-mail and
made to my mobile phone - death threats. I'm still getting hate mail and
some phone calls."

He added; "They are truly stomach-turning and show what sort of venomous
monsters we are up against as pro-democracy activists. At times the messages
and hate mail left me shaken up and terrified, but I worry much when the
same people turn against my family and friends who had nothing to do with
what I did," Yuda said.

Some of the texts were 'graphic' and made him fear for his life and were
considered so severe that security has been stepped up around him and his
family. Though the police keep a discreet distance, Yuda is safe in the
knowledge that all his movements are shadowed, and home closely monitored.

"I have changed homes twice now in the last year, and changed my mobile
number a couple of times, but you still get a sense that there is a baying
mob hunting you down out there - like a pack of wolves. Personally, I can
fend for myself but I am worried about those near me," Yuda said.

The original plan for the secret filming was to show what life was like
inside Zimbabwe's prison system but, by chance, Yuda was present with his
hidden camera when a senior prisons officer organised vote-rigging by
getting fellow prison officers to fill in their postal ballots in his

He also obtained footage of ZANU PF rallies where voters were told to
pretend to be illiterate so that an official could fill in their ballot
paper for them in favour of Mugabe. Since then state security agents and
ZANU PF supporters have hunted him down obviously without success.

Last week at a funeral wake for his young sister who passed away in
Chikangwe, Karoi, his home town, CIO agents visited his family thinking he
would fly from the UK to attend the burial.

"I was warned in advance that I would put myself in grave danger if I went
to the funeral in Karoi. My family is still under surveillance and the
minute my sister died, state security agents knew about it and went looking
for me. I would have loved to have gone but because I have refugee status in
the UK, laws don't allow me to travel to Zimbabwe," Yuda said.

"I don't regret doing what I did. I wanted the world to know that Mugabe
rigs elections and I'm happy they saw it. I have an uncle who lost a leg
during the electioneering period, and I know of many people who died because
Mugabe used the military to kill unarmed civilians," Yuda added.

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Zimbabwe says needs maize urgently after dry spell

Wed Feb 3, 2010 9:19am GMT

* Imports needed to avert food shortages

* Extended dry spell hits crop output

HARARE, Feb 3 (Reuters) - Zimbabwe needs to urgently import 500,000 tonnes
of maize to avert shortages after the staple crop was hit by an extended dry
spell, its agriculture minister was quoted as saying on Wednesday.

Joseph Made told the state-controlled Herald newspaper that the Finance
Ministry should, for now, import 500,000 tonnes of grain, a quantity which
in the past formed the country's strategic grain reserve.

"What is critical is that the Ministry of Finance should already start work
on the basis of the national grain reserves, which are known to be 500,000
tonnes," Made said.

"The Ministry of Finance cannot wait any longer. It should start working

Zimbabwe has not had grain reserves for more than a decade.

The southern African country, which is struggling to recover from a decade
of economic collapse, has relied on food aid and imports since 2001, after
President Robert Mugabe's government seized white commercial farms to
resettle landless blacks, most of whom were poorly equipped and underfunded.

A unity government formed between Mugabe and longtime rival Prime Minister
Morgan Tsvangirai had raised hopes the era of shortages had ended but an
extended dry spell has destroyed crops, forcing the government to import
food again.

Made said the government would produce its first crop assessment report on
Feb. 15.

Zimbabwe's farmers have forecast a disastrous season and a farmers' union
said on Monday the country needs to import more than half its annual grain
requirements of 2 million tonnes.

The country's coalition administration says it needs at least $10 billion to
rebuild the shattered economy but has struggled to raise funds to finance
its needs. Grain imports will exert added pressure on its already scant

Critics say Mugabe, who turns 86 this month and has been in power since
independence from Britain in 1980, escalated the country's economic collapse
by seizing the white-owned farms.

Mugabe in turn says drought has caused food shortages and that Western
sanctions were imposed on his past government as punishment for the land
seizures, worsening the situation.

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IMF to decide on Zimbabwe's voting rights

Wed Feb 3, 2010 6:04pm GMT

HARARE (Reuters) - The International Monetary Fund will decide later this
month on whether to restore Zimbabwe's voting rights in the fund, Finance
Minister Tendai Biti said on Wednesday.

Biti told Reuters in an interview that the move was in response to positive
reforms implemented by the unity government formed last year by arch rivals
President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.

"There is a general understanding and support for the restoration of
Zimbabwe's voting rights. The IMF executive board will meet this month to
decide on the issue," Biti said.

"We were pushing for the restoration of Zimbabwe's voting rights in the IMF.
The U.S. will support us, and we made similar requests to Germany and the
UK, who will also support us in this regard."

Zimbabwe, which Biti said needs at least $8 billion to reconstruct its
battered economy, had its voting rights suspended by the IMF in 2003 over
policy differences with Mugabe's government.

The country is emerging from a decade of economic decline which critics of
Mugabe blame on his policies such as the seizure of white commercial farms
to resettle landless blacks. It registered better-than-expected GDP growth
of 4.7 percent in 2009.

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AU picks Zimbabwe for Peace and Security Council

2/2/10 6:54 PM

Addis Ababa

Addis Ababa - The African Union (AU) has selected Zimbabwe for a place on
its Peace and Security Council, one of the bloc's most powerful organs, the
organisation's head of legal affairs said.

The Southern African country is emerging from a period of international
isolation after a power-sharing deal between President Robert Mugabe and
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.

The Peace and Security Council is concerned with resolving conflicts between
member States and with helping sort out domestic political turmoil. Other
States picked late on Saturday for three year terms on the body were Kenya,
Burundi and Equatorial Guinea.

Ben Kioko, the AU legal counsel said that the trial of former Chadian ruler
Hissene Habre would commence in the next few months, once the AU and the
European Union (EU) have sorted out a trial budget and issues of procedure.

Habre, President between 1982 and 1990, faces charges of crimes against
humanity. The EU became involved in the issue after Belgium issued an
international arrest warrant for Habre in 2005.

Belgium's move to try him in Europe was rejected by the AU and the trial
will take place in Senegal where Habre is exiled.

"It is an issue (budget) that we should be able to finalise within the next
two weeks," he said. A detailed plan to merge the African Court of Human and
People's Rights with the African Court of Justice, and to mandate the new
entity to handle serious offences like war crimes, would be presented at the
next summit of AU leaders in July, Kioko also said.

"The African judicial organs should be able to deal with cases relating to
unconstitutional changes of government so that is also another axis we will
be looking to confer jurisdiction upon the African court."

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Power Cuts Affect O-Level Results Processing - Zimsec

3 February 2010

Harare - Power outages will continue across Zimbabwe amid reports that this
is seriously affecting the processing of the 2009 Ordinary Level results.

The Energy Ministry on Monday said the power deficit had been worsened by a
major system failure at Hwange Thermal Power Station. Zimsec spokesperson Mr
Ezekiel Pasipamire said the examination board was failing to load
examination results in computers due to intermittent power cuts.

"Load-shedding is negatively affecting the processing of results as
everything we do is computer-based. We have to load the marks into the
Zimsec database and right now Zesa is drawing us back.

"We can't afford to lose electricity for a single hour and last week, we had
two heavy power outages, which grossly hampered our operations. We hope Zesa
will spare us from the power cuts so that things will not get out of hand
again. This is a national issue and we are aware that parents are waiting
anxiously for the results, but we urge them to bear with us as we do our
best to release the results as soon as they are out," he said.

Mr Pasipamire said marking of Advanced Level scripts had been complete,
while 'O' Level results verification would start around February 13.

Zesa spokesperson Mr Fullard Gwasira said institutions such as Zimsec should
liaise with the utility so that they could get priority in the load-shedding

"This is a matter of national importance and they should have notified us so
that in our rationing, we would put them at the forefront.

"We have been experiencing challenges, but when it comes to matters of
national importance, we have to make some sacrifices for the benefit of the
nation," he said.

Energy and Power Development Deputy Minister Hubert Nyanhongo said four of
the six electricity generation units at Hwange Thermal Power Station were

He said the power station was currently producing 195 megawatts instead of

"The electricity currently being produced falls far below the total
electricity output from Hwange because of a serious system failure at the
power station."

Deputy Minister Nyanhongo, said the small thermal power stations at Harare,
Bulawayo and Munyati, which produce about 175mW, had been down for some time
now. He said although Zimbabwe was importing 230mW from the region, a power
deficit of 650mW still remained.

Zimbabwe gets most of its electricity from Kariba Power Station and Hwange
Thermal Power Station with the former contributing 745mW to the national

The country reached an agreement with NamPower of Namibia for the
refurbishment of generating units at Hwange.

The first phase will see the refurbishment of Units One to Four while the
second phase will cover the remaining two units.

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Children Of Top Zanu PF officials Gobble 86m Rands In Fees

03/02/2010 06:53:00

HARARE - The bankrupt Zimbabwe government has somehow blown nearly ZAR86
million (USD11,6million) in one year in school fees for children and
relatives of mostly top Zanu PF officials who are studying in South African
Universities at a time when local universities are struggling to function
due to serious financial constraints.

This is despite claims that the students are on presidential scholarships
which should come from President Mugabe's personal resouces.

Although Finance Minister Tendai Biti has repeatedly claimed that government
has stopped unnecessary spending, information sourced from his ministry
shows that more money is expected to be disbursed to South African
universities soon.

A former top aide of Mugabe and now Manicaland governor, Christopher Mushowe
administers the presidential scholarship fund although the final decision to
transfer the funds rests with the minister of finance.

According to documents seen by Radio VOP the money was transferred through
the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) in South African Rands between February
last year and January this year. The biggest beneficiary of the scholarship
is Fort Hare University which gobbled up about 48 million South African
rands in just a year.

Some of the colleges in South Africa which benefited from government's free
spending since last year are the universities of Venda, Johannesburg, Walter
Sisulu, Rhodes, Limpopo, Cape Peninsula, Western Cape, Cape Town and
Kwazulu - Natal.

On 10 January 2009, the following transfers were made from RBZ: Fort Hare
ZAR 1 million, Kwazulu Natal ZAR 176 175 and Rhodes ZAR 300 000. On 10 June
2009 the following transfers were made: Cape Peninsula ZAR 3 073 877,
Limpopo ZAR 240 186, Cape Town ZAR 83 040. On 15 September 2009 the
following transfers were made: Fort Hare ZAR 10 million, Venda ZAR 3
million, Johannesburg ZAR 2 million and Walter Sisulu ZAR 2 million.

On 29 November 2009 more transfers were made to: Fort Hare ZAR 17 677 600,
Venda ZAR 7 357 306, Johannesburg ZAR 550 690, Walter Sisulu ZAR 3 105 730.
Only last month on January 25, more transfers were made and these are: Fort
Hare ZAR 20 million, Rhodes ZAR 3,5million, Limpopo ZAR 300 000, Venda, ZAR
4 million, Cape Peninsula ZAR 2 million, Western Cape, ZAR 2 million and
Johannesburg ZAR 4million.

While the criteria used to select students for scholarships remains a
mystery it is well known that most of those who succeed are relatives or
children of top government officials. Radio VOP has it on good authority
that although Biti initially resisted authorizing the transfers he was arm
twisted and eventually succumbed.

Zimbabwe has about 10 universities and 34 teachers' colleges and
polytechnics all of which are struggling to survive due to lack of funding.

Zimbabwe National Students Union (Zinasu) president Joshua Chinyere attacked
the government for what he described as outrageous extravagance at a time
when local universities were crying out for funding.

"This is shocking and it really shows that some people in government are not
serious with education. We have thousands of brilliant students in the
country, that are not politically connected but who could learn at local
universities using the money they are wasting at South African colleges.

"Why don't those students come back and learn in Zimbabwe, why is the
government not directing the money to our universities. Right now our
universities have no books, they have no water and electricity - why not use
the money to buy generators and install boreholes at universities and
colleges. Why not pay the lecturers so that they do not go away or they do
not strike.

"It simply does not make sense. The student body will have to confront
government on this.

"We are not saying people should not go and learn in South Africa - it's
their choice so they must pay for themselves. This is tax payers money which
is being abused," said Chinyere.

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Top Genocide suspect finds sanctuary in Zimbabwe

By Edmund Kagire

Protais Mpiranya, one of the most wanted genocide suspects is being hidden
by the Zimbabwean Government, new reports from the Southern African country
Mpiranya, the former Commander of the Presidential Guard during the 1994
genocide against the Tutsi is being pursued by Belgian authorities and is
also on the list of 13 most wanted persons by the Arusha-based International
Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.

He also appears on the list of most wanted persons for genocide and war
crimes, under the US Rewards for Justice Programme, with a $5m bounty.

Fresh reports by Belgian authorities indicate that Mpiranya is hiding in
Zimbabwe, and is reportedly operating businesses in Harare, on top of acting
as mercenary for the ruling party ZANU-PF to silence the opposition.

In an in an interview with The New Times, Rolland Amoussouga, the ICTR
Spokesperson said that he could not reveal anything on the whereabouts of
Mpiranya as investigations are still going on.

"I can't confirm that, usually when investigations are still going on, we
can't reveal whether we know the whereabouts of the wanted person or not, in
a bid not to interfere with the investigations."

However a close source in the Arusha-based tribunal said that the ICTR has
been aware of Mpiranya's presence in Zimbabwe though there has been little
or no effort to apprehend him.

According to reports in Zimbabwean papers, Mpiranya is being sheltered by
close associates of President Robert Mugabe who were jointly running
ventures, including a lucrative materials trade in the neighbouring,
Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

A report has also named Zimbabwean Defence Minister Emmerson Dambudzo
Mnangagwa as one of the close associates of Mpiranya.

Reports further indicate that there are an estimated 4,000 Rwandan refugees
living in Zimbabwe, most of them suspected of taking part in the 1994
Genocide against the Tutsi.

According to the Zimbabwe Mail, many more are filtering into Zimbabwe
through Malawi and that when they arrive, they are looked after by the
government where some are recruited into doing mercenary work.

According to a Belgian official, Belgium is "fully aware of the involvement
of Mpiranya in the murder of ten Belgian peacekeepers on 7

April 1994, and in the planning of the genocide".
According to the newspaper, sources in the Zimbabwean Intelligence Services
say that the Rwandan fugitive led a group of foreign mercenaries joining
so-called "war veterans" and militiamen attacking opposition supporters in
rural parts of Zimbabwe, during the 2008 contested Presidential run-off

Eyewitnesses said Mpiranya and his men were more vicious than their
Zimbabwean counterparts, with the marauding gangs attacking suspected
members of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), forcing them to
renounce the party.

It is believed that Mpiranya and his group dressed in army fatigues abducted
and murdered MDC activist Mabvuku Tonderai Ndira whose body was found with
his tongue cut into shreds.

200 MDC supporters were killed in attacks by police, army, war veterans and
ruling party militia. More than 200,000 displaced by the violence during the
March 2008 elections.

Mpiranya and other Rwandan refugees allegedly feared that they could be sent
home if an MDC-led government came to power.

Meanwhile, another Genocide fugitive who was recently arrested in Malawi,
Charles Bandora and released under unclear circumstances a few days later is
said to have relocated to Zimbabwe.

According to Zimbabwe Mail, Bandora, an ex- senior official of the former
ruling party MRND, was let off the hook two weeks ago and it is believed
that his release was effected after officials in Zimbabwe approached
Malawian authorities.

Not surprised

According to Prosecutor General Martin Ngoga, Rwanda has been aware of
Mpriranya's presence in Zimbabwe for quite sometime but said that the
obligation to arrest him lies with the ICTR.

"I am not sure whether he is in Zimbabwe today but we have said from time to
time that this man has been seen in Zimbabwe, it is up to ICTR to find out
whether it is true indeed and apprehend him, it is their obligation," Ngoga

He said that Zimbabwe as a matter of principle should be able to apprehend
Mpiranya and hand him over to the ICTR as the International law states that
any country that is hosting any indicted persons is obliged to apprehend
them and had them over to the competent jurisdiction that indicted them.

Who is Mpiranya?

Protais Mpiranya was born in the prefecture of Gitarama currently Muhanga
District in the Southern Province.
He was second-in-command of military operations and intelligence (S2 and S3)
in the Presidential guard Battalion.

In 1993, he was appointed Commander of the Presidential Guard Battalion in
the Rwandan Army. In this capacity he exercised authority over the units of
this battalion.

Beginning in 1992, Mpiranya is alleged to have supervised the training of
militiamen in the prefectures of Ruhengeri, Cyangugu, Gisenyi, Butare and
Mutara, particularly in the military camps in Gabiro, Gako, Mukamira and
Bigogwe. In 1993, Mpiranya is also reported to have sent his subordinates to
supervise the training of the Interahamwe (an extremist Hutu militia)

He is said also to have distributed weapons to the militia and to certain
carefully selected members of the civilian population with the intent to
exterminate the Tutsi population.

It is said that on the morning of 7 April 1994, Mpiranya, a Major then,
commanded a group of Presidential Guards which tracked down, arrested,
sexually assaulted and assassinated former Prime Minister Agathe

He again conspired in the murder of the President of the Constitutional
Court, Joseph Kavaruganda; the Chairman of the PSD party and Minister of
Agriculture Frederic Nzamurambago; the Vice-Chairman of the PL party and
Minister of Labour and Community Affairs, Landoald Ndasingwa; as well as a
member of the Political Bureau of the MDR, the Minister of Information,
Faustin Rucogoza.

He also ordered the Presidential Guards to kill 10 Belgian para-commandos
from UNAMIR who were guarding the Prime Minister at Kigali military camp,
leading to the withdrawal of the Belgian contingent on 13 April 1994 and to
a drastic reduction of UNIMAR's civilian and military personnel.

As of 7 April 1994, killings of the civilian Tutsi population, preceded, on
many occasions, by rape, sexual violence and other crimes of a sexual nature
and the murder of numerous political opponents, were carried out by
civilians and soldiers under orders from Mpiranya. Mpiranya fled to DRC as
RPF advanced to Kigali.


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HOT SEAT: Interview German Ambassador Albrecht Conze

HOT SEAT: Interview German Ambassador Albrecht Conze

ZANU PF has said it will make no GPA concessions until the sanctions are removed, in light of this we ask Dr Conze to clarify the position of the European Union on the sanctions, and explain if their decision will be guided by the MDC ? The Ambassador also says there are ‘too many cooks in the kitchen’ dealing with constitution reform and explains why he tells German investors ‘hands off any land deals,’ with Zimbabwe.

BROADCAST: 29 January 2010

VIOLET GONDA: My guest on the programme Hot Seat is the German Ambassador to Zimbabwe Dr. Albrecht Conze. Dr Conze is also chairman of the eleven major donor organisations who partly fund the constitutional reformprocess in Zimbabwe . Welcome on the programme Dr Conze.

ALBRECHT CONZE: Hallo Violet, I’m glad to be here.

GONDA: Thank you. Let me start by getting your views on the political situation in Zimbabwe at present.

CONZE: Well we are one year into a transitional process now that is determined by the GPA and also by the Agreement that SADC produced at its conference at the end of January last year. We are one year into that revolutionary exercise I would say for Zimbabwe, and we all started with a lot of hope but I think lately we must all consider the stagnation that has now grown in many areas of the implementation of the Agreement itself and generally speaking the progress agenda that was agreed among all participants. I’m not overly worried because eventually African transitions usually are successful. I’ve been in a few in my life and so I’m still confident that the three parties will pull together and find solutions to the outstanding problems. But right now it’s not looking very promising so let’s hope for better times again - and of course when you hear a statement such as from the President who very categorically stated that no more concessions were possible until sanctions were lifted, then of course, said in such a categorical way it doesn’t give you much hope for exploring the areas such as the implementation of all those areas of progress that had been agreed upon.

I’m talking about the commissions - now the commissions have been more or less set up I think the personnel have been chosen, the decisions are there yes, but nothing is being implemented, so that is one example. We still have no new governors, we still have not solved the major issues, well I say we, the Zimbabweans have not solved the major issues related to certain persons, the Attorney General, the Governor of the Central Bank, the designed Deputy Minister for Agriculture – all these issues I think are still where they used to be, where they were six months ago. So that is worrying because there’s just no pace visible for progress and progress is essential to get to the constitution, to get to the referendum and then to get to elections next year as the Prime Minister has just reiterated in the Davos.

GONDA: But does it help the situation if you get statements, like the recent statement by the British Foreign Secretary saying that the issue of removing sanctions will be guided by the MDC ? Is this really the right way to approach this issue?

CONZE: Well I think it is a European decision and it is now almost seven years old. The first time the restrictive measures were agreed upon by the Council was in 2003 and European governments at that time had made their decision, because they make decisions uninfluenced by local constituents of this or that direction. We had realised in Europe that many things in Zimbabwe were going into a direction that gave us a reason for serious concern. So ever since, and I would say throughout this last decade, this country has not been a source of many good news, on the contrary. So in reacting to developments on the ground, Europeans have made their own judgements and I think they all have their means to find out about how they should develop and pursue their relations with Zimbabwe . They don’t need advice from the ground, from one or the other party.

GONDA: So was Mr Miliband speaking on behalf of the EU or just Britain ?

CONZE: As far as I know he was speaking in the House of Commons and that is traditionally a place where one only speaks for one’s own country.

GONDA: So are there significant differences of opinion within the EU on this issue?

CONZE: The European Union has welcomed the formation of the inclusive government. Both from the European Commission, which administers the common funds of Europe, but also from national capitals, we’ve been extremely supportive of this government - and help and support for Zimbabwe has increased considerably over the past year, beyond purely humanitarian aid. We have engaged in areas such as water, health, education, now we are engaging in financial support for the constitutional process because it’s crucial for progress. Everything that brings Zimbabwe out of the corner into which the country in many ways unfortunately had manoeuvred herself, there is something Europe supports - and we do this in a very unified way and a very united way. I don’t think you can see serious differences of perception and reaction and policy among the European governments, among the European capitals. We are all on the same line here; we want this country to get back on its feet and to find a way out of the crisis that had struck it over the past years.

GONDA: And of course as you said, Zanu-PF has said it will not make any GPA concessions until the sanctions are removed, so have conditions warranted removal - conditions on the ground in Zimbabwe ?

CONZE: We all hope that the turning point has been reached and it has been reached in February last year and we see many signs for this especially in terms of beginning of economic recovery and of financial stability that is in the process of being regained. So when sanctions were last hardened, when measures were last added to in January 2009 the situation was very different from today. We had so many signs of hope now in Zimbabwe that I’m very confident that the next Council decision will certainly not harden sanctions so maybe the maximum has been reached and when you’ve reached the maximum then it goes the other way.

GONDA: So when you say not ‘harden sanctions’ are you saying not add to the list?

CONZE: I think there is a consensus now that nobody and no company will be restricted to the list of restricted measures.

GONDA: Yes but is the EU going to lift restrictions against the parastatals and indeed the individuals who are currently on the sanctions list?

CONZE: Well the discussion is still on going, the decision will be made and published by mid-February and as I told you I’m confident that there will be some good news.

GONDA: If I may just go back to the issue of Mr Miliband’s statement, many have said his statement legitimises the Zanu-PF position that the MDC is working in cahoots with foreign governments. What are your views on this? To what extent does the MDC decide for example, if the sanctions stay or not?

CONZE: The MDC has nothing to decide there. The MDC has gained the majority of seats in parliament two years ago, the MDC candidate had received at least the relative majority in the presidential election so of course there is a lot of legitimacy with regard to what the MDC is saying and doing. I don’t say by stating this that everything the MDC does and says is something that others should immediately follow up on. This is an internal matter of Zimbabwe . What we as Germans and Europeans now realise is that due to the entry of the MDC into the government, many sectors of public life look different today from a year ago and look different in a positive way and opinion polls and our own findings suggest that the population does realise that things are moving forward, so we want to support that tendency and we want to support it for all Zimbabweans. But we do not follow particular voices because we are able to make our own judgement and we will continue to make our own judgement.

GONDA: Right, so what would you say to Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara who says that the West should listen more and talk less? He recently said this in DAVOS that Mr Miliband’s statement is an example of how western leaders can be very un-strategic and completely undermine the formal Opposition’s bargaining power. What are your thoughts on this?

CONZE: Violet I’m not here to give a value judgement on the British Foreign Secretary’s statement in the House of Commons, I think the British Ambassador would have to be asked to say something about that. I think on a more general tone, we have been listening a lot and it was easier to listen since the inclusive government has been formed because the government is again in dialogue with the western ambassadors in Harare . When I first arrived there was no such dialogue between the then government and the group of western ambassadors here. So that is very, very important, so we listen a lot, yes, and we only give advice when we’ve been asked to give advice because Zimbabwe is a very mature country and knows where it wants to go. But we are there to help and we are there to support and it is only in that sense that we view our European policy and also in a larger sense, our policy as western donors for the benefit of this country - because there was a time when Zimbabwe was able to look after itself with huge export surplus and when it was a positive economic factor within the region.

There’s no reason why Zimbabwe could not get back there and Germany is ready to support that. We want German investments. I’ve gone out of my way over the past six months to explain to German investors, to potential investors, that there are new possibilities and new opportunities in this country. So of course it takes two to tango, when one encourages people to come, one should not produce bad news at the same time and unfortunately there are still too many bad news coming out of Zimbabwe .

GONDA: What kind of investments have you been trying to bring in and to what extent have you been successful?

CONZE: There is a long-standing tradition of economic co-operation between Germany and Zimbabwe . We used to be as Germans the second trading partner of Zimbabwe in the ‘80s and ‘90s, just after South Africa . There’s no reason why we could not get to that status again because German products are requested by Zimbabwean customers. We could certainly help in infrastructure, in power generating - all this of course needs financing and there are international attempts now ongoing with the multi-donor trust fund to be set up with the World Bank to provide finance for major infrastructure projects. So certainly when it comes to more energy generation Germany can help.

I think one of the leading manufacturing nations in terms of providing technology for the mining sector. There are no major mining companies of German origin but the whole equipment of course is something our companies can offer. So for a quick economic recovery there are many sectors where investors are interested in coming but of course when you then hear of new farm invasions, of stories about non-protection of foreign investment, we have a bi-lateral investment protection agreement with Zimbabwe but it hasn’t always been respected and this is something an investor asks immediately - and there I cannot give a satisfactory answer right now. I would need a strong commitment from the Zimbabwean side that investments are safe in this country. There are some doubts about this.

GONDA: Right and there are some people who say there are virtually no investments or there’s virtually no investment in Zimbabwe right now except for some illegal ones like in the Chiadzwa (diamond fields) area. Is this an exaggeration?

CONZE: That is an exaggeration. Yes there are many sectors where the economy is picking up and where one can do things in a completely legal framework. Of course as you mentioned the diamond sector this is a matter of concern for I think the international community as a whole. Zimbabwe has been threatened to be suspended from the Kimberley Process and there was a kind of last minute agreement two months ago to monitor the situation further and not to suspend Zimbabwe . So far the signs we have seen from Chiadzwa are not encouraging in the sense of strict observance of the rule of law so this is something the diamond industry is now reacting to itself and also the private sector but it would be more than unfortunate if the continuous disorderly exploitation of the Marange diamonds as we can see it now would be in the way of Zimbabwe’s recovery - because it is a matter of perception and a matter of appreciation from the international business world. There are countries with good investment conditions and there are countries where there are many question marks. I see too many question marks in Zimbabwe .

GONDA: And you said earlier on that there’s no respect for bi-lateral agreements, what about the recent decision by the High Court to dismiss a finding by the SADC Tribunal which ruled that the government’s land reform programme was unlawful. What is your take on it?

CONZE: Well I don’t think it should be the Executives’ role and Foreign Ministries are part of the Executives of their countries to comment Court decisions. There’s a good principle that the Third Power should be completely independent and not be interfered with when they make decisions. I can only say without giving any judgement that there are a series of Court decisions, national and international that have put into question the way in which Zimbabwe has embraced the land reform. I am not saying that they have put into question the land reform altogether but the way it has been pursued has led to unclear legal situations in many respects, sometimes to violations of the law and this has been stated by quite a few Courts, nationally and internationally. So all this is a situation which only Zimbabwe itself can find a way out of and once there’s more clarity with regard to the rule of law, investment will be a lot easier and the country will recover much faster.

GONDA: And what about your take on the proposed government land audit?

CONZE: This is something that was agreed upon in the GPA, so as we have all welcomed the GPA we expect it to be implemented and also the land audit to be implemented. The European Commission is ready to contribute to its financing in a very sizeable way and I think all the conditions are united for a quick start of this land audit. I regret that not everybody on the political scene seems to be ready to go into it because that could be the beginning of more clarity and of a regain of productivity of the land in Zimbabwe which has dramatically receded over the past years.

GONDA: And you’ve said that you’re keen to see German companies coming back into Zimbabwe especially as investment is needed. But companies want to operate in a climate where the rule of law is respected, as you have said. This is a country that has endured lawlessness for a long time, so what do you think is possible under the current conditions?

CONZE: Well I can be very precise in telling you what I recommend to potential German investors right now. I tell them it is the moment to come under the following conditions: first you must know the market, you must know the area, it is good when you have previous experience it helps and you must find good local partners. Second you may invest in anything but land because land is unsafe to invest in as its status is being contested by a part of the government. So anything industrial; anything in the service industries and in infrastructure – yes. But I unfortunately have to tell everybody, hands off any land deals as long as there’s no security of tenure re-established in this country.

I have been in Africa for many years and the only thing I would like to see, and I can speak I think for my government in this respect, is Africa to get out of its position of always trailing behind the other continents. There are new generations, highly qualified who are only waiting for their chances and their opportunities so they don’t have them in all countries in Africa and if one can encourage them and if one can encourage the older generations to also let the younger ones try their luck I think then you can make enormous progress.

GONDA: Let’s move on to another issue – the issue of the constitution. Do you believe that there is any chance of Zimbabwe having a decent constitution?

CONZE: I think so Violet. I think first there is enough of blueprint that only needs to be picked up. To write a constitution is not rocket science, there are many good constitutions in the world. You can do it by a good deal of cutting and pasting, of course trying to find what people did well in other countries and what they did less well. You also go back to your own tradition of constitution making of course, so what was good in the first constitution of Zimbabwe – can that be maybe just taken over.

So the constitutional lawyers don’t have a problem, the problem is rather in the process and I’m a bit worried that there are now too many cooks in the kitchen and too many people are trying to put spices into the dish. So there’s a risk of a lack of precision in terms of directing all this to a unified text in the end. But that will really not be easy. Of course its important to consult the population but it should be done in a way that is less designed to be a gravy train for many rapporteurs on the way than to be something where you really listen, and then after having listened try to go to the text work. It can be done but of course it needs good will from all sides and it needs I think a major effort from the three parties of the GPA to do this together. I think it can still be done in this year and the Prime Minister had said so in Davos and I would agree with him in this respect. Others have said it before.

GONDA: And there have been reports that the Outreach Programme has been suspended and you are the Chair of this group of major donors who are funding this constitution making process. Has funding been withdrawn from the Outreach Programme?

CONZE: Not at all. This was a misinformation or a disinformation however you would like to call it. We are still there, we have funded preparatory work already and all this is going through UNDP whom donors have asked to be the implementing agency here. The talks are ongoing, we’re having meetings all the time and the process is on track, I think one can say so. So there was never a question of withdrawing funding.

GONDA: So do you understand why the programme was suspended or has been suspended for a while?

CONZE: Well these are internal dynamics. Because interests are different I think one has to respect this and one always needed a bit of patience in a situation like this. I think there is a lot of good will in the Commission from all parties and if others outside that Commission pursue other interests I think this will eventually I hope not derail the process. It’s just at its start so let’s be confident and let’s work. We are working on it all the time.

GONDA: T he Chairperson of the National Constitutional Assembly Dr Lovemore Madhuku is quoted in the media as saying that donors who are supporting this parliament led constitution making process should actually stop doing so, he says because the process is flawed, it’s stagnant and is a waste of money. What are your thoughts on this since you are in charge of this funding process?

CONZE: Well I have a lot of respect for Lovemore Madhuku and we discuss about this regularly. But I think there is a misunderstanding here with the artificial distinction between a people driven process and a parliament driven process. What is parliament other than the representation of the people? This parliament has been elected and it did reflect more or less, this is something you can argue about, the will of the people at the very moment of those elections. So I think there is a mandate for parliament to take a leading role because it has already been mandated by the people and people driven can mean parliament driven at the same time. So parliament needs to take its responsibility and I think the Joint Commission is trying to do just that so I would not see this as a real problem.

GONDA: And some critics actually say that donors are getting it so horribly wrong in Zimbabwe and that they’ve created a lifestyle where many organisations spend more time jostling for money than concentrating on grassroots initiatives. Has this become a lifestyle funded by donors?

CONZE: Well there are always exaggerations when it comes to such a process and as far as I know most donors are very much aware of not over funding NGOs that only want to take advantage of a particular situation. Maybe there are a few too many people now moving around the country and pretending to act in the interests of the people, that may well be. But this is a minor problem and this is only a phase. Once this constitution has been presented to the nation for the referendum I think this phase will be over and on the way. We are trying to use the money or to see the money being used in a sensible way.

GONDA: But what do you have to say about the apparent weakening or polarisation that has taken place in civil society and do you think donors, to some extent, have helped cause this problem?

CONZE: I wouldn’t exclude that, you could quote examples of this kind, but as I said this should always give donors reason to reconsider and to be a little stricter and to really be careful with how they spend their money. For the time being I cannot complain as to the way the German money has been spent in this respect but of course we are taking a lot of effort and time in order to make sure that this is going the right way.

GONDA: And earlier on in the interview you said Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has said elections are expected to be held in 2011, next year, and there have been similar calls from some western countries and other African countries for elections in Zimbabwe. In your opinion, is Zimbabwe ready for elections?

CONZE: I think this is for Zimbabweans to decide once the new constitution is there. Let’s take things step by step. 2010 is the year for the constitution, 2011 could and perhaps should be the year for elections as this seems to be the prevailing consensus amongst all parties here. So how 2011 can be organised in a way to make elections free, fair, credible and peaceful is I think a matter one should focus on once the constitution has been agreed upon.

GONDA: And a final word Ambassador?

CONZE: Well Zimbabwe is a wonderful place. I’ve been here for one and a half years now and I only hope that the moment I leave it will be in much better shape than in 2008 when I first arrived. So let’s continue but hard work is needed, and Zimbabweans are hard working, that I could already see, so nothing to add to that Violet.

GONDA: Thank you very much Ambassador Conze for talking to us on the programme Hot Seat.

CONZE: It has been a pleasure.

Feedback can be sent to

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Zim Assoc to the rescue of despairing exiles in UK

Written by Martin
Wednesday, 03 February 2010 12:28
LONDON - As Zimbabwe has lurched from crisis to crisis, over the past eight
years a small London-based charity has worked tirelessly to alleviate the
fallout among members of the Diaspora in the UK.
Sitting in a shoebox of an east London office, on a day when the cold
outside cuts through even the thickest layers of clothing, Zimbabwe
Association (ZA) co-ordinator Sarah Harland is speaking passionately about
the depth of need she encounters every day among the exiled community.
"There is any amount of despair still going on," she says. "There are people
destitute. People homeless or living in sub-standard housing. Some are
isolated and cut off from friends and relatives, or living in fear on
estates where they're racially abused."
Harland, who was born and grew up in Zimbabwe, helped found the ZA in 2001
to support asylum seekers and refugees from her homeland. "A few of us used
to meet at The George pub [in the Strand] and we became increasingly aware
that large numbers of Zimbabweans were stranded in detention centres and
that no-one seemed to be doing anything to help them. It was a scandal."
Their solution was to form a non-partisan organisation to reach out to them.
Harland was soon joined by the dynamic Patson Muzuwa, still a central figure
at the ZA. Muzuwa had been detained when he first arrived in the UK despite
compelling evidence of being tortured in Zimbabwe, and he rapidly
established contacts within the detention centres and among Zimbabwean
asylum seekers and refugees across the country.

Successful campaign
Two problems were immediately evident. The Home Office was using flawed
country assessment guidance - a basis for deciding the merit of asylum
claims - to reject virtually all Zimbabweans' applications out of hand while
locking them up indefinitely in vast numbers.
So the ZA started a successful campaign for their release, and with the help
of expert academic evidence the Home Office altered its assessment of the
situation in Zimbabwe.
What's more, ignorant of the complexities of UK immigration law, many asylum
seekers were falling prey to bogus immigration advisers, who promised legal
advice at a cost, and then vanished. Again, it was the ZA which helped
expose the scammers and get their victims decent lawyers. Since then, the
charity has been a lifeline to literally thousands of the approximate
300,000 Zimbabweans now residing in the UK.

It's list of achievements is lengthy. When Zimbabweans were being forcibly
returned home, it was a small band of ZA volunteers and supporters who were
up all hours working the phones, rallying MPs, fighting to stop their
deportations up to the wire. And when the British government continued
removing Zimbabweans in the midst of Operation Murambatsvina, the slum
clearances of May 2005 which rendered hundreds of thousands homeless, it was
three ZA members who told their stories on the front page of the usually
anti-immigration Daily Mail in a remarkable piece, headlined For Pity's Sake
Let Them Stay, demanding that the removals be halted.
In 2005, it was the ZA which gathered testimony about the situation of
deportees on their return to Zimbabwe which helped pave the way for landmark
legal cases that enabled more than 10,000 Zimbabweans to have their
immigration cases re-considered.

Important research
The charity also produced important research in 2009 on the untapped skills
of Zimbabweans in the UK, as well as on the enduring effects of detention on
asylum seekers, while providing practical help, a traditional meal and
friendship to many with its weekly drop-ins.
But with funds so tight that the ZA cannot afford to pay even one full-time
worker, it is stories like those of one desperate young Zimbabwean woman
that keeps the ZA team motivated. Discharged from a psychiatric hospital,
destitute and living on the streets of Luton, the young woman met the
redoubtable Mary, one of the ZA's stalwarts, who took her under wing and
helped her back on her feet.
"Now she's radiant and revitalised and going to college. The transformation
is incredible," says Harland.

Come home
With Zimbabwe's ravaged economy showing signs of life under the new
inclusive government and commentators such as John Makumbe stating that the
country is "well on the way to the transition to democracy", the debate over
whether those in the Diaspora should heed Morgan Tsvangirai's call to come
home is gathering pace. Harland though, is unequivocal. "If people felt safe
they would return. Who wouldn't want to be with their families, their
friends, in a beautiful country with a beautiful climate? People can see the
election coming in Zimbabwe and Zimbabweans can sense the war machine being
dragged out again. They know how quickly it can be turned on and off."
Whether the inclusive government heralds a new era of tranquillity in
Zimbabwe, or is merely the calm before the next storm, one thing is certain:
the need for the ZA among the exiled community isn't going to change any
time soon. - Can you help the ZA? The ZA needs Champions to keep its crucial
work going. Can you be a Champion and make a real difference today? Email: or call 020 7549 0355 (Tuesdays and

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Preparing for a mobile phone uprising in Africa

Anne Perkins reviews SMS Uprising: Mobile activism in Africa - a book that will help explain how mobile phones can be used in the field to anyone daunted by technology

Mobile phones

A new book helps explain how mobile phones work. Photograph: PA

The trouble with people who know about mobile phone technology is that they are a lot better at good ideas than they are at explaining to non-techies what their good ideas are for. So I fell upon SMS Uprising: Mobile activism in Africa, a collection of essays by people who either write mobile applications or transfer them to the field, hoping that at last I would understand not so much what's going on as how.

To begin even nearer the beginning than this book does - and in case I am not the last person in the world to know - let me point out that SMS stands for (thank you WikiAnswers) Short Message Service, which is "a communications protocol allowing the interchange of short text messages between mobile telephone devices."

It adds, helpfully: "SMS text messaging is the most widely used data application on the planet, with 2.4 billion active users." Mobile telephony relies on GSM, or Global System for Mobile Communications, access to which is controlled by individual countries whose approach - monopolistic like Kenya's Safaricom or open and competitive like that of Uganda - has a direct impact on airtime costs, which in turn affects how many people have access to the system.

Among other key considerations are the age (and cost) of mobile handsets in Africa - mainly pre-2003 and, therefore, neither web nor data enabled - and the fees charged by handset manufacturers to operators trying to develop new applications.

Most of this is covered in the first essay, on the economics of the industry. It explains how China and Libya are using monopolistic deals to capture national mobile telephony markets. The advantage to a government of monopolies, of course, is control - not only business control, but also control over content. Bad news for those who see access to a mobile as a powerful weapon in the defence of democracy.

But the essay's author, Nathan Eagle, is particularly interested in the research potential of the information automatically collected by operators about the usage and location of every mobile handset. A force for good or evil? It could be a vital tool to understanding better the sociology of rural Africa, for example. But it might be just what a corrupt government is seeking to monitor citizens' behaviour.

The mobile's capacity to stimulate, record and publish images of protest, for example, has already been established in places as far apart as Iran and Burma.

As the Guardian's Tania Branigan reported recently, ChinaMobile, the state owned operator, shuts down texting at the first sign of trouble - a policy pursued by the Ethiopian government, which has only just legalised SMS.

Optimistic outlook

But the optimists - and the activists like Christian Kreutz, who wrote the second essay in this collection - believe mobiles can extend participation, monitoring and transparency, decentralise networks and provide opportunities for local innovation.

Mobile has greater penetration than television (although not radio, with which it can work as a kind of poor man's internet, with radio broadcasts soliciting citizen journalism to report on local events and conditions). The essential element is not high technology, but universality - and people on the ground who can frame questions, find or write software and then recruit users. SMS activists are the sons and daughters of the first generation of internet users - passionate about open source technology and shared experience.

Theory is one thing: but where these essays really come alive is in the descriptions of projects that have already worked.

Take Amanda Atwood's account of Kubatana, a social and political action initiative in Zimbabwe that began on the internet, but to extend its reach adapted Ken Bank's FrontlineSMS to send out regular news updates to people who had either no news source at all, or none that was trustworthy. This was then developed to find out, during the delicate negotiations between Mugabe's Zanu-PF and the Movement for Democratic Change, what people wanted. It was soon discovered that the system was valued as much for its capacity to operate as a genuine information exchange, putting people from across the country in touch with one another. It triumphed at moments of crisis - during the 2008 elections, for example, where users were able to warn others of local developments. "Kubatana! Results have not been officially announced yet. The MDC has claimed victory based on preliminary counts ...". or "Kubatana! Some poll stations asking foreign borns for renunciation certificates. This is NOT a requirement ...".

SMS doesn't always work (sometimes texts are just too slow). But this is a handbook for the small NGO or social change activist who is daunted by technology. Help is at hand, and SMS Uprising will help you find it.

. SMS Uprising: Mobile activism in Africa is edited by Sokari Ekine and published by Pambazuka Press

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Zimbabwe Weekly Update



. Zanu-PF's supreme decision-making body, the Politburo, said there will be
no more Global Political Agreement (GPA) compromises until targeted
sanctions have been lifted. The sanctions question is not included in any
conditions of the GPA.

. A leaked Zanu-PF working document reveals that the party wants "an
all-powerful presidency" and has no intention of sharing power in the

. The MDC-T standing committee meeting has reportedly said that they want
SADC to declare the GPA talks deadlocked.

. A delegation of eight British MPs arrived in Zimbabwe on Monday for a
four-day visit to review the effectiveness of British aid to Zimbabwe. The
delegation's report could inform the outcome of the EU's sanctions review
process, which is currently underway.

. Meanwhile Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Friday urged the EU to maintain
sanctions on Robert Mugabe and his inner circle until the GPA is fully

. The new Zimbabwe Media Commission, which is tasked under the GPA with
reforming the country's draconian media laws, and is chaired by Zanu PF
apologist Godfrey Majonga, has yet to convene a meeting. Journalists
denounced the body as being 'very political and partisan'. Leading civic
society groups said on Wednesday that repressive media laws would hamper
free debate during the outreach programme to gather people's views.

. Zimbabwe has been included in the African Union's new Peace and Security
Council for a three-year term. Malawian president Bingu Wa Mutharika
replaces Libyan leader as chairman of the AU.


. The Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) is unable to feed suspects detained in
holding cells owing to funding constraints. Operational activities such as
transport for officers and crime scene attendance has also been affected.
The organization received a budget allocation of US$30 million when it was
hoping for US$230 million.

. Civil servants are holding make-or-break talks with government negotiators
on Tuesday to demand a four-fold increase in their salaries after a 14-day
strike ultimatum passed without any action. Education Minister David Coltart
and his Public Service counterpart Eliphas Mukonoweshuro failed to take the
civil servants' grievances to cabinet because it has not been sitting.

. Tension between Zimbabwe and Botswana escalated after three armed officers
from the Botswana Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP) were
arrested for straying into Zimbabwe. The three scouts were picked up two
weeks ago in Kazungula close to Victoria Falls after they allegedly crossed
into Zimbabwe by accident while tracking lions that had killed two cows in
Lesoma village along the border.

. Police in Masvingo have arrested MDC Masvingo provincial chairman Wilstaf
Sitemere on allegations of fraud involving US$4 000.


. A new World Bank report reveals that Zimbabwe has very poor investment
protection policies. The report, which compared 181 economies worldwide,
said out of the total number surveyed, Zimbabwe stood at 119. It came way
behind such nations as South Africa, Botswana, Angola, and Namibia.

. Citing strong growth in its Zimbabwe operations, LonZim reported a return
to profit for the year ended 31 August 2009. LonZim reported a pretax profit
of 1.08 million, compared with a 1.09 million loss in the preceding year.
Shares were buoyed by the positive results, climbing nearly 9% following the
announcement. The company's subsidiaries have successfully positioned
themselves to be 'first back to market' in Zimbabwe.

. The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) has proposed changes to the
Labour Act that might see men taking paternity leave, on the grounds that
present regulations are discriminatory and disadvantage women. The proposals
have already been submitted to the Minister of Labour, Paurina Mpariwa.


. Finance minister Tendai Biti is in Washington lobbying the International
Monetary Fund (IMF) to restore the country's voting rights and offer lines
of credit. The IMF suspended Zimbabwe's voting rights in June 2003 after the
country's economy collapsed and government fell behind on debt repayments.
Zimbabwe owes the IMF US$139 million under the Poverty Reduction Growth
Facility - Exogenous Shock Facility.

. Electrical power shortages in Zimbabwe will continue according to a
Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) report.

The report reveals that only one generator is working at Hwange and the
other five have tripped due to 'system failure'.


. A compromise position has been reached on the issue of official
rapporteurs on the constitutional outreach teams. Two members of each of the
70 outreach teams will be appointed by the Constitutional Parliamentary

. Prime Minister Tsvangirai, speaking at the World Economic Forum, said he
expects the constitutional referendum to be conducted in October this year,
allowing general elections to be held in 2011.

. Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri has demanded US$3 million in payment
to release 1 000 police officers to accompany outreach teams during the
constitution making process. The committee is also expected to provide food
and transport for the officers. Parliamentary Select Committee co-chairman
Douglas Mwonzora said he did not understand why civil servants should be
paid extra, and such large amounts, for what should be a national duty.

. The bun fight over allowances for the outreach teams continues: over 300
MP's and Senators will earn between US$65 and US$300 per day in allowances
for participating in the 65-day constitutional outreach programme. The
number of legislators increased from 50 to 300, a move that nearly led
donors to withdraw their funding.

. Zanu-PF soldiers, youth militia and war veterans are reportedly forcing
villagers to attend political meetings where they are cowed into supporting
the Kariba Draft. Zanu-PF has been pushing for the draft to be adopted as
the new constitution, while the MDC wants a "people-driven" process. Youth
militia bases in the Masvingo and Nyanga are reportedly being reactivated,
with soldiers seen to be training the youths.

Agricultural Sector

. The government has signed a US$56.3 million fertiliser and seed deal with
the African Investment Group (AIG) that will help ease the current shortage
which was threatening the 2009-10 farming season.

. The continued farm invasions have resulted in more than 1 500 farm workers
losing their jobs in January alone, the General Agriculture and Plantation
Workers Union of Zimbabwe (Gapwuz) has said. Gapwuz secretary general
Gertrude Hambira said farm disruptions had a devastating impact on workers.
About one million farm workers have been evicted from farms across Zimbabwe
since 2000, according to the Geneva-based Internal Displacement Monitoring
. Two Commercial Farmers' Union (CFU) members were arrested on Thursday on
dubious 'contempt of court' charges after coming to the assistance of four
other farmers who were all convicted for refusing to leave their properties.
Magistrate Samuel Zuze, who ordered the evictions and arrests, is a
beneficiary of one of the properties in question.

. Zimbabwe Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa says the national army will
be used to ensure the controversial land reform program is never reversed.
CFU leader Deon Theron said the statement was "extremely worrying." He said
he believed the statement was Zanu-PF policy.

. Hundreds of illegal settlers have invaded the western part of Burma
Valley, one of the country's leading banana producing areas and a once
vibrant farming area, choking one of the sources of water in the area. Some
of the settlers have invaded farms that are already under new black owners.
Meanwhile Zimbabwe ambassador to Tanzania Edzai Chimonyo continues to occupy
Fangudu Farm in the valley, ownership of which is protected by a Bilateral
Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (BIPPA).


At least 4 000 churchgoers held an open-air protest service in Harare on
Sunday to protest police harassment and the continued occupation of the
Anglican cathedral by excommunicated bishop and Mugabe crony, Nolbert

Police officers armed with batons this week drove out 60 children from a
nursery school at Karoi Anglican church because their parents do not support
Kunonga's bid to seize control of the church.

Police in the Midlands province have been instructed to monitor and arrest
members of the MDC, civic organizations, and NGOs holding public meetings.
According to a radioed message sent to all police stations in the Midlands
province last week, police commanders were being directed to closely monitor
all meetings to be held by the 'opposition', NGOs and the civic society.

Three war veterans on Friday took Masvingo governor Titus Maluleke hostage
for hours demanding money from him to bury bodies of former freedom fighters
who did not get decent burials in the province. They were arrested and
charged with disorderly conduct likely to disturb public peace.

Attorney-General (AG) Johannes Tomana last week failed to extract a
confession from key state witness Peter Hitschmann during Deputy Agriculture
Minister (designate) Roy Bennett's treason trial. Tomana was given the
chance to cross-examine Hitschmann after High Court Judge Justice Chinembiri
Bhunu declared him a hostile witness.


. Aspiring Zanu-PF MP Nathaniel Punish Mhiripiri told a Zanu-PF meeting at
Jani resettlement area in Makoni South that he had 'authority and an open
licence' to eliminate opponents from the MDC, claiming he was allowed to
kill in the name of Zanu-PF. He also told the meeting he carried his guns in
his vehicle and was always prepared to deal with 'sell-outs.' "It's either
you are Zanu-PF or an enemy," he said. Mhiripiri was once a Selous Scout in
the Rhodesian army.

. Political violence has resurfaced in Tsvangirai's home district Buhera,
where ten families have been left homeless after their homes were burnt
down. A local chief said there have been increased political tensions in the

. The South African government is being pressured to release a potentially
explosive report by four retired generals sent to investigate post-election
violence in Zimbabwe during 2008. The report has been kept hidden from the
public for over a year. The South African History Archive and the Southern
African Centre for the Survivors of Torture will ask the Pretoria High Court
to force government to release the report, which was commissioned by then SA
premier Thabo Mbeki.

. Evidence is emerging that individuals wanted for crimes of genocide in
Rwanda are being employed by Zanu-PF for 'dirty jobs' in the youth militias
that have terrorised MDC supporters since the 2008 election.


. A malaria outbreak has hit Mashonaland province, with a number of people
feared dead in farming communities.

. Japan on Tuesday donated US$1.4 million to the United Nations Children's
Fund (Unicef) and the Zimbabwean government to help buy vaccine to contain a
measles outbreak that has killed more than 50 children countrywide. Most of
them had not been vaccinated because their parents are members of an
Apostolic Faith sect, which discourages medical treatment.

. Cholera still lurks in Zimbabwe and the same problems that helped drive
the last cholera epidemic remained unresolved. According to a report by the
Ministry of Health and the World Health Organisation (WHO), the cholera
fatality rate of 1.8 percent, although lower than last year, is still too


. Zimbabwe may already have up to two million illiterate people and the
number is rising. Last year 700 000 mid-teen pupils were scheduled to write
the school-leaving Ordinary level exams but three quarters of them were
unable to. In 2003, the adult literacy level was estimated at 90.7 percent,
one of the highest in Africa.
. Zimbabwe student leaders held a crisis meeting with Tsvangirai last week
after it emerged that 28 percent of students had dropped out of the
University of Zimbabwe because of a lack of foreign currency to settle
tuition fees. The university opened last Monday but students have been
struggling to raise fees of between US$300 and US$1 500.


. A secret mile-long airstrip near Chiadzwa is under construction. Aerial
photographs confirm the field will be capable of accommodating jets and
cargo aircraft. Diplomatic sources speculate that such a facility would
enable the shipment of arms, possibly from China, in direct exchange for
newly-mined diamonds. For further info:

. Hundreds of illegal diamond panners and foreign dealers have besieged
Chipinge, Chimanimani and unsecured parts of Chiadzwa. Investigations are
currently underway. Most of the diamonds are believed to be finding their
way to Mozambique's Manica Province where a willing market is reportedly

. Zimbabwe's Supreme Court has ordered the central bank to safeguard
millions of dollars' worth of diamonds from the Chiadzwa diamond fields amid
an ownership battle over the mines. The chief justice said a neutral party
should keep the diamonds pending a resolution of the dispute.

. The World Diamond Council (WDC) has called on international buyers to shun
Zimbabwean diamonds until 'human rights concerns' have been dealt with and
full compliance with the Kimberley Process has been achieved.


. National Parks rangers have shot five lions that killed four people in the
northeastern district of Kanyemba. The lions were thought to have strayed
from nearby hunting areas.

The Good News

. United States Ambassador Charles Ray said on Friday the U.S. would help
Zimbabwe restore basic services in the health sector. He handed over 50,000
personal protective clothing kits for influenza preparedness donated by the
U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

. The Australian govt, instrumental in getting Zimbabwe kicked out of the
Commonwealth, has agreed to provide assistance to Zimbabwe. It will
undertake projects to help with taxation law, water and sanitation technical

. Two former Arundel school students raised the country's flag high when
they were nominated for entry to Oxford University. The 2009 Rhodes scholars
of the year, Mutsawashe Mutembwa and Sarah-Jane Littleford, will be part of
the 200 scholars nominated from 13 different countries.

Source: Zimbabwe Democracy Now

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Lamentations of Robert Gabriel

Written by John Makumbe
Wednesday, 03 February 2010 12:36
It was a heart-renting experience to listen and watch or read some of the
forlorn statements uttered at the fifth congress of Zanu (PF) by Mr Mugabe,
Commander in chief of the armed forces, chancellor of all state
universities, loser of the March 29 presidential elections, father of
Chatunga, and former holder of more than 10 honorary degrees of various
universities that have since stripped him of that honour.
I note the following lamentations of the old man as published in the Herald
and Sunday Mail Zanu (PF) mouthpieces masquerading as newspapers:
. The MDC told the EU Troika that visited the country they should not
remove the sanctions yet. We have some whose thinking needs to be
. Machechi akawanda deno tawana zuva rekuti tinamatirwe pfungwa
dzitasanuke. We need a day where (sic) we can pray for the adjustment of our
mental set-up (our mindset, stupid).
. Government has money coming from the IMF issued as SDRs. Ours is frozen
because somebody thinks they should not be used. This is wrong, absolutely
wrong. (Good work Tendai Biti. Never before has a president been so
humiliated by a mere minister).
. We must conduct an introspection to look into (sic) ourselves. Let our
party look into itself (sic) and you will agree with me that the reason why
we lost in March last year was because of factions. (Easy to blame others
Bob; what about your evil policies that have ruined the nation?)
. The party is fighting itself, eating itself. (First accurate analysis
ever made in Zanu (PF)). The MDC would want the fight to be more intense and
that is a greater opportunity given to the opposition to thrive. (The old
man is forgetting that his party is now the opposition).
. Give them (the people) the freedom to belong to the party. Please free
them. Let the people think freely. Let them make their choices freely. That
is democracy. (That is also quite unknown to Zanu (PF) Mr First Secretary of
the dying political party).
. He said there was a need to reverse the uncanny and insidious
encroachments by treacherous Western-sponsored political formations and a
host of fake NGOs that have hidden their regime change intentions under the
convenient but false cover of claims about the rule of law, human rights and
property rights. (It is the negation of these fundamentals of democracy that
your political party is shunned by the people, Mr Commander in chief blah,
blah, blah).
. The present day set-up is disempowering our people who are engaging in
barter trade and losing everything they owned through barter trade. (Did
Morgan not warn you that your ridiculous economic policies would reduce us
all to Stone Age scavengers years ago? Did you listen to his wise words? Now
you are crying as indeed you should).
It was very interesting to note that for the first time in the history of
this country, Zanu (PF) admitted that it was facing formidable obstacles
posed as a result of the strides made by the MDC-T. Mugabe urged his few
supporters to work hard and prepare for the next elections, which he
intoned, are round the corner.
These are the final elections for him to get more of the same medicine that
Dr Morgan delivered to him in March 2008, only this time it will be a fatal
dose. Zanu (PF) is well aware of this situation, and so is Mugabe. The key
factor will have to be the result of the constitution-making process. If
that process is successful in that it will result in the adoption of a
democratic constitution for this country, then Mugabe will not need to
lament any more. He will be able to retire safely and quietly and leave
politics to the young and able in the MDC-T.

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USAP invites disadvantaged Zim students for 2010-11

Program assist needy students negotiate U.S. tertiary study application process

Harare, Zimbabwe: The United States Student Achievers Program (USAP) program is inviting applications from academically gifted but economically disadvantaged Zimbabwean students for the 2010- 11 program.

Selected students undergo an intensive yearlong program that assists them to negotiate and finance the process of obtaining full scholarships to study at U.S. colleges and universities. In addition to being straight A students, USAP participants must also exhibit demonstrated leadership potential and the ethos of giving back to their community.

Application forms are available at or through e-mail on Students in Harare can visit the Embassy’s offices in Eastgate. Prospective students located outside of Harare can visit the advising center at the Bulawayo Public Library or satellite advising centers at Gweru Memorial Library, Turner Memorial Library, and Africa University Library in Mutare and Mucheke Public Library in Masvingo.

Since the establishment of USAP in 1999 in Harare, over 200 Zimbabwean students have enrolled with full scholarships covering tuition and fees, room and board, books and other expenses for four year bachelor degree studies. An initiative of the U.S. Embassy in Harare, USAP has been replicated in 14 countries on four continents and has assisted over 200 students.

For more information on USAP, we encourage you to visit

The U. S. Embassy's Public Affairs Section in Eastgate houses an EducationUSA certified educational advising center that provides comprehensive, accurate, current, and unbiased information about higher education opportunities in the United States.

# # #

Issued by Time Gerhardson, Public Affairs Officer, U.S. Embassy, Harare

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