By Violet Gonda
4 February 2009
Parliament was forced to adjourn prematurely on Wednesday after chaos
erupted between the political rivals in the inclusive government over the
controversial issue of the sanctions. The commotion started when ZANU PF MP
for Mwenezi East Kudakwashe Bhasikiti tried to move a motion calling for the
MDC formations to demand the lifting of sanctions. The MDC legislators
protested heavily and started heckling. This led to the ZANU PF MPs also
standing up and booing at their counterparts. Parliament was then forced to
suspend proceedings to the next day.
However, the chaos continued on Thursday, although this time ZANU PF was
successful in tabling the motion. The House is expected to start the debate
on the sanctions next Tuesday.
Tongai Matutu, the MDC MP for Masvingo Urban told SW Radio Africa that his
party was not trying to block the debate from taking place but was instead
challenging ZANU PF's motives.
Matutu said ZANU PF's motives were to ridicule and castigate the person of
the Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and his Deputy PM, Arthur Mutambara, by
alleging that they are the people responsible for the calling of the
sanctions and therefore should be denounced.
The MP also castigated the Deputy Speaker of Parliament Nomalanga Khumalo
for not following procedure, and backtracking after coming under pressure
from the ZANU PF legislators. The Deputy Speaker had initially said she
would consult first with the Speaker of Parliament Lovemore Moyo, who is
away, before allowing the motion to be read. But Matutu said Khumalo allowed
the motion after being 'confronted' by ZANU PF Chief Whip Jorum Gumbo.
Matutu said the aim of the motion was to 'draw us back to the period where
there was no inclusive government.' He further explained that during this
period parliamentarians wasted time debating on 'irrelevant issues, and
emotions would rise rather than actually focusing on the real issues.'
ZANU PF has been on a serious offensive demanding the removal of the
targeted sanctions since the British Foreign Secretary David Miliband
recently said they will be guided by the MDC on the issue of sanctions.
The MDC maintains the former ruling party invited the sanctions, and the
onus is on them to call for their removal by changing their attitude. Matutu
said: "ZANU PF continues to violate the law, take farms without due regard
to the rule of law, they have killed people and they have not compensated
anyone. The onus is not upon the MDC but on ZANU PF to ensure that democracy
He pointed out that parliament should be debating on the legislative agenda,
such as reforming draconian laws like the Public Order and Security Act and
the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, instead of dwelling
The MP said the MDC will take the ball back to ZANU PF when the sanctions
debate starts next week in parliament to show that 'ZANU PF is the evil
party that called for the sanctions because of the way they have been
By Alex Bell
04 February 2010
Yet another farming family in Rusape has come under siege by farm invaders
this week as the offensive against the remaining commercial farmers in
The wife of farmer Robin Ziehl, and Ziehl's 80 year old father were both
trapped inside one room in the elderly man's house on Thursday. The pair
barricaded themselves inside the room out of fear of a group of violent
youths who have been threatening violence against them. The group of about
13 youths stole a 9mm pistol from the family and has been threatening to use
the weapon against the Ziehls unless they leave the farm.
Robin Ziehl and his wife Cynthia moved out of their own home on the farm
they share with Ziehl's father, after they were forced out last month by
land invaders. They had moved into their father's home on the same property
in order to continue farming on the farm that has been earmarked for
takeover by the Deputy Assistant District Administrator for Rusape, Mr
According to the Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) police have refused to
assist the Ziehls, merely saying, "It is all over." The union said on
Thursday that there were two plain clothes policemen on the farm who were
also refusing to assist.
The Rusape farming community has been left shocked by a spate of attacks
against farmers in recent weeks, all taking place under the guise of land
'reform.' In the Nyazura district, Dolf du Toit and his family have been
warned that the army will be used to evict them from their Excelsior Farm.
They have only just returned to the property after being forced to flee two
weeks ago by land invaders working for Brigadier Innocent Chiganze of the
Zimbabwean air force, who says he is the rightful owner.
The Du Toits original eviction from their property came in the wake of a
number of other incidents against farmers in the area. Early last month,
farmer Gavin Woest was evicted from his property by a gang working for
former Lands Minister Didymus Mutasa. Mutasa tried to force Woest to sign an
illegal contract to hand over 20% of his tobacco crop from last year, and a
further 20% of the coming year's crop. But Woest refused to sign and found
himself driven off his land. It is known that Mutasa already owns more than
ten farms in the area, proving once again that the land attacks have little
to do with empowerment or reform, and all to do with greed.
The Woest's eviction came days after a South African farming family was
forced to flee their property on Christmas Eve. Ray Finaughty and his family
from Manda Farm, were given three hours to pack up their belongings and flee
the property, following days of intimidation and harassment by a gang of
suspected youth militia.
By Alex Bell
04 February 2010
The Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU) is demanding the arrest of a
security guard from the University of Zimbabwe, after a student leader was
'severely' beaten in a crackdown by police and security guards on a public
Police arrested eleven students on Wednesday, including four ZINASU
officials who were holding a meeting to address students' grievances
regarding tuition fees and accommodation problems. The ZINASU Secretary
General, Grant Tabvurei was beaten after campus security guards and police
surrounded the union's meeting with the students and started making arrests.
ZINASU President Joshua Chinyere as well as Treasurer Zivanai Muzorodzi and
Education Secretary Artwell Chidya were all detained. All the students were
charged with trying to incite violence on campus but were eventually
released on Wednesday evening.
A statement from the students union read: "He (Tabvurei) sustained a swollen
foot and received medical attention at a local hospital. ZINASU has already
reported the assault at Harare Central Police Station and investigations
have started. ZINASU demands that the responsible security guard be brought
to book for unlawfully assaulting students."
Meanwhile, a rival ZINASU faction has elected a new leadership led by
President Tafadzwa Mugwadi of the University of Zimbabwe and Secretary
General Kurai Hove. The Mugwadi-led ZINASU faction opposes the
parliamentary-led constitutional revision process, while the Chinyere
faction supports it.
As tensions on campus continue to rise, lecturers and teachers are set to
join other civil servants for a rally on Friday in Harare over the ongoing
fight to force the government to meet their wage demands. A civil service
strike is looming after a meeting between government representatives and
union leaders to negotiate improved wages broke down on Tuesday. The
government insists it has no money to meet any increase in the wage bill and
has instead promised an improvement in April when funding is expected to
increase. Unions are preparing to meet with their members on Friday in the
capital and next Monday in Bulawayo to discuss their options.
Unions have argued that their meagre salaries are unrealistic and do not
even cover basic bill payments, never mind any other amenities or
necessities. The Consumer Council of Zimbabwe has this week reported that
food prices have risen by more than ten percent in the last month. The
Consumer Council has blamed the price increases on widespread speculation
that civil servants would finally receive a salary boost. But that wage
increase has not happened and there are widespread fears that food is once
again becoming unaffordable for many.
By Lance Guma
04 February 2010
Thugs loyal to the excommunicated Bishop Nolbert Kunonga on Wednesday raided
the home of an Anglican priest in Harare's Hatfield suburb and attempted to
evict him and his pregnant wife. The resident priest Rev Matyatya was not
home on the night when the invasion began, after earlier being admitted to
Chitungwiza General Hospital following an attack by dogs during an early
A concerned parishioner told Newsreel that a Mr. Dhlomo, thought to be a
priest loyal to Kunonga, was accompanied by 4 men to the St. Martins Rectory
in Hatfield 'under the cover of darkness' during a power cut. Rev Matyatya's
wife was also initially not home after having gone to see her husband in
hospital. It was when the Matyatya family came back that Kunonga's mob
refused them entry claiming to have taken over the rectory.
Furious parishioners said Dhlomo knew very well that the person he wanted to
evict had been hospitalised and that he had a pregnant wife. Police are said
to have intervened in the matter and asked 'Dhlomo to return the following
morning with his documents, and also wait for Rev. Matyatya to recover.'
The Anglican Church is locked in a bitter dispute over its property with
pro-Mugabe Bishop Kunonga who was excommunicated in 2007 after attempting to
unilaterally withdraw the Diocese of Harare from the Central African
Province. Despite a High Court order that the two factions share church
property until the matter is resolved, Kunonga's small but violent group
have been locking church buildings and harassing their rivals with tacit
support from the police.
More shockingly Kunonga recently ordained 32 'priests and assigned them
churches while telling them to use whatever means to sustain them. "At St.
Martins, Dhlomo has invaded the hall and is now leasing it to One on One
Academy which is also housed at the St. Mary's Cathedral," the concerned
parishioner told us. "To the owners of the Academy, we CPCA Harare Diocese
now view you as being accomplices in the harassment of Anglican members by
the Kunonga Church," he added.
Around 4000 Anglican parishioners thronged Africa Unity Square in Harare
over the weekend to hold an open air protest prayer against police
harassment. At Sunday's service the new Bishop Chad Gandiya said the police
who were supposed to be "the custodians of the law are the ones denying us
access, threatening to arrest us or use teargas to force us out. There are
church wardens who have been arrested and some who bear marks of beatings,"
NB: Don't miss Behind the Headlines this week as Lance Guma speaks to
Co-Home Affairs Minister Giles Mutsekwa on this unending saga.
By Moses Muchemwa
Published: February 4, 2010
Bulawayo - A visiting delegation of British Members of House of Commons has
expressed satisfaction at the economic recovery progress in Zimbabwe
although they called for a quick conclusion of the Global Political
Agreement outstanding issues.
The eight Members of House Commons arrived in Zimbabwe on Monday and are on
tour of provinces.
In Bulawayo, the head of delegation Malcom Bruce of the British’s
Conservative Party said they were impressed by the significant economic
improvement achieved by the coalition government.
“We have noted recovery and improvement in the country’s economy. There are
signs of positive growth,” he said.
Bruce said his team would make recommendations to the British Parliament on
how Zimbabwe can be assisted as well as the lifting of sanctions.
Britain’s Department for International Development Zimbabwe (DFID) head,
Dave Fish, said ever since his stay in the country for the past five months,
he has noted notable economic recovery.
He expressed hope that relations between Zimbabwe and Britain will improve
but was also quick to suggest that the Global Political Agreement
outstanding issues should be ironed out urgently.
The visiting delegation of the British Members of the House of Commons
consist of Malcolm Bruce (Conservatives), Hugh Bayley (Labour), Nigel Evans
(Conservative), Richard Burden (Labour), John Battle (Labour), Andrew
Stunell MP (Liberal Democrats) Daniel Kawcynski (Conservative) and Mark
The Zimbabwean Police have released all the detained female members of the
pressure group, Women/Men of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) with Assistant Police
Inspector Chimani apologizing for the arrest, PANA reported Wednesday.
According to WOZA sources, the group's leaders Jenni Williams and Magodonga
Mahlangu held a meeting with senior police officers at Pumula Police
Station, where the police officers claimed they did not know the detainees
were WOZA members.
The police on Tuesday (2 February) arrested 22 female members of the leading
pressure group in Zimbabwe, having swooped on them while discussing the
country's constitutional reform process in a private home in Bulawayo.
The WOZA meeting was a 'private meeting of members exempt under all public
order laws' and it was in line with an on-going debate over Zimbabwe's
constitut ional reform process.
Dakar - Pana 04/02/2010
By Tichaona Sibanda
4 February 2010
The campaign to elect new leadership for the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists
(ZUJ) is gathering momentum ahead of polling day in three weeks time.
Fresh ZUJ elections will be held on the 27th February at the Royal hotel in
Bulawayo after the executive that was controversially voted into office in
December last year opted to stand down and allow for new elections.
There was a huge outcry from media practitioners following the December
elections. Some aspiring candidates were allegedly prevented from taking
part in the elections held at Entabeni Lodge in How Mine just outside
That election was described as fraudulent because the venue was kept secret,
and some of the candidates only became aware of it after the results had
Four freelance journalists successfully lodged an appeal at the High Court
to have the elections nullified. The four journalists Godwin Mangudya, Frank
Chikowore, Conrad Mwanawashe and Guthrie Munyuki argued that the ZUJ
congress and elections were both flawed and invalid. They also pointed to
the false representations regarding the venue of the congress and that the
whole process had been conducted outside the provisions of the ZUJ
Dumisani Sibanda of The Sunday News was voted the President during the How
mine elections taking over from the long-serving Matthew Takaona, who landed
a new position as 'consultant.'
SW Radio Africa understands that the current executive, who unprocedurally
assumed office, and the group that lodged the High court appeal agree on the
need to save the union. The two camps are believed to be working on a
compromise deal to balance the composition of ZUJ leadership.
Traditionally there is an unwritten law in ZUJ that allows for the President
of the union and the first Vice President to come from structures within the
state media. The second Vice President and the Secretary-General have always
been voted from the independent media. But because of government's continued
crackdown on journalists many wanted that rule 'thrown out the window' and
allow someone from the independent media to lead ZUJ.
Sibanda, the current President is news editor of the government-controlled
Sunday News. ZBC's Mercy Pote is the first Vice President and Michael Padera
from the Herald, second Vice President. Only the popular Secretary-General
Foster Dongozi represents the independent sector.
While Sibanda is regarded is a 'good guy,' there is concern he would find it
extremely tough dealing with individuals like George Charamba, Permanent
Secretary in the Ministry of Information, and Webster Shamu, the Information
Minister. The two are accused of waging a relentless campaign to stifle
journalists in Zimbabwe.
When the new ZUJ executive was elected into office in December, most of its
donors were unhappy and froze all their aid to the union complaining about
the way the disputed elections were conducted. ZUJ cannot survive on member
contributions alone and relies on donors.
There are suggestions that negotiations are taking place behind the scenes
for Dongozi to remain as the Secretary General of the union. He stood
unopposed in the December poll and it's unlikely anyone will challenge him
at the end of the month. To gender balance the representation at the top
leadership, Pote is likely to retain her post as first Vice President.
This leaves three people vying for the position of President. The incumbent
Sibanda wants to contest, though others had wanted him to stand down and
become second Vice President to leave freelancers Guthrie Munyuki and Godwin
Mangudya to fight for the Presidency of the union.
Thu Feb 4, 2010 6:56am GMT
By Lesley Wroughton
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A senior International Monetary Fund board director
said on Wednesday he was 'cautiously optimistic' the international community
would support Zimbabwe's request to restore its IMF voting rights.
In an interview with Reuters, Samuel Itam, who represents a constituency of
African countries on the IMF board including Zimbabwe, said the Zimbabwean
government had paid off some of its IMF arrears and was working on a plan to
clear the rest.
"I am cautiously optimistic there will be sufficient support ...in
recognition for the effort Zimbabwe has made to (meet) its obligations to
the international organization," said Itam.
It was not immediately clear how much Zimbabwe still owes the IMF to clear
Asked whether Zimbabwe could apply for IMF loans once its IMF voting rights
were restored, Itam said: "We will take that as it comes."
He said Zimbabwe had been cooperating with IMF staff on policies needed to
fix its economy and in discussions on how best to deal with its debt
obligations to the institution.
"Zimbabwe needs the support for whatever progress it has made for that
progress to be intensified," Itam added.
The Fund has said that any access to IMF loans by Zimbabwe would require a
"sustained track record of sound policies and donor support for the
clearance of arrears to official creditors."
In Harare, Finance Minister Tendai Biti told Reuters the IMF would meet this
month to consider Zimbabwe's request to restore its voting rights in the
Approval of the request would be a sign of some confidence in Zimbabwe's
policies under the new unity government led by President Robert Mugabe and
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the opposition Movement for
Biti, who was in Washington to discuss the issue of the voting rights with
IMF officials in January, said the United States, Britain and Germany, some
of the IMF's most influential member countries, would support the request.
"The (Zimbabwean) authorities believe they have made sufficient progress for
their voting rights to be restored," said Itam, who is from Sierra Leone.
The IMF suspended Zimbabwe's voting rights in June 2003 as tensions with
Mugabe and the international community escalated over his government's
policies, and the country failed to pay off its arrears.
Ish Mafundikwa | Harare 04 February 2010
Zimbabwe has had to start importing grain before the end of the agricultural
season because a prolonged drought has reduced estimated food harvests.
Agriculture Minister Joseph Made says Zimbabwe must import 500,000 tons of
corn (maize) to ensure food stability. This is in response to the
protracted dry spell that has seen crops dying in most of the country.
But Commercial Farmer's Union President Deon Theron told VOA his
organization had advised the government that crops needed to be planted
early because of a forecast el-Nino effect that would create an abnormal
"If you look at the current crop, a lot of it was planted late and we are
having dry periods in between, which is going to have a huge effect on the
crop," he said.
Zimbabwe needs 1.8 million tons of the staple corn per year. Theron says he
would be very surprised if the country produces 500,000 tons.
Zimbabwe used to be an exporter of food, but has failed to produce enough to
feed itself since 2000.
Meanwhile, the state-controlled daily newspaper The Herald reports the
government has adopted measures to ensure food security, including the
500,000 imported tons Minister Made said is needed.
The Herald also reported the government is carrying out a crop assessment
with the U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization. The result of that
exercise is expected later this month.
The paper also says the government will speed up distribution of fertilizer
to farmers in areas that have reported better rainfall, but Theron says all
this should have been done during preparations for the season.
"Agriculture is about forward planning, every week that you are behind
schedule, your production drops," said Theron.
Zimbabwe has suffered successive poor harvests since 2000, the year the
country's sometimes-violent land-reform program was launched. While drought
has played a significant part, critics of President Robert Mugabe also blame
the land-reform exercise, which saw white farmers losing their farms
ostensibly for the resettlement of landless blacks.
The critics charge the government failed to provide support for those who
were serious about farming. Also they say, most of the land ended up in the
hands of ranking members of Mr. Mugabe's Zanu-PF Party and government who
are producing little.
4 February 2010
Harare - The cost of food for a family rose an incredible 10 percent last
month, the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe found when it did its rounds last
week checking prices of the common items that make up the monthly "basket"
for a family of six.
Most families had already noticed this post-Christmas surge in food prices
but confirmation of the trend allows something to be done about it.
But first we must find out why there was this sudden surge. The Consumer
Council blames speculation by retailers and shop-owners on an expected
significant increase in civil service pay, an increase that did not happen.
While grateful for the council's research, we feel that they are blaming the
The retail trade in Zimbabwe is exceptionally competitive. Four large
supermarket chains, backed by several smaller chains, independent
supermarkets and small grocery stores mean that the average Harare shopper
can usually visit several shops within a short walk of home, place of work
or on the route between the two.
We cannot imagine that every single one of the several hundred owners and
managers who independently set retail food prices in Harare would
simultaneously come to the conclusion that it made sense to jack-up retail
prices on a dubious bet. In fact, this business is remarkably price
sensitive, as some found last year.
The Consumer Council itself found that in other sectors, where competition
is almost always less intense, prices were far more stable yet these should
have shown even larger jumps if retail speculation was the reason for food
When we look at the actual products that went up in price we find one
appalling fact. Almost all the products that rose in price were made in
When Zimbabwe switched to hard currencies at the beginning of last year,
most items on supermarket shelves were imported. Within weeks Zimbabwean
firms were back in production, and soon were able to undercut foreign
suppliers on price or produce better quality for a similar price or do both.
The local manufacturers were helped by the mid-year appreciation of the rand
against the US dollar. This made South African goods a little more expensive
and so opened more opportunities for well-priced Zimbabwean goods.
But, and this is the old problem resurfacing, Zimbabwean food processing is
concentrated in the hands of a small number of companies. Some so dominate
the market that they are either monopolies, or so close it does not matter,
or half a duopoly. But duopolies do not make competition.
Two men playing a game of golf can come to an arrangement that sends factory
gate prices soaring while a meeting to raise retail prices without reason
would have to be held in the Harare International Conference Centre.
Some previous price rises, such as for maize meal, made sense. The cost of
the basic maize rose, because it was imported and the rand had appreciated,
or because Zimbabwean farmers obtained parity pricing.
But some of the more recent price rises do not make sense. The rand has been
pretty stable against the US dollar for several months so imported raw
materials or packaging should have remained constant.
And we see that with packaged food imported from South Africa. That has
remained very constant in price with just tiny rises caused by South
Africa's inflation, and that is falling.
So there does not seem to be any reason for rises in the price of Zimbabwean
products between December and January.
But even if there was a reason we would not know it. These same monopolies
and duopolies are still as secretive and arrogant as ever. They dictate
without even explaining.
But these times are at least different. The prices cannot spiral. Already we
are seeing more packaged food made in South Africa, Zambia, Mauritius and
Botswana creeping back onto our shelves. There is imported bacon cheaper
than our own major brand; imported cola no more expensive than that canned
in Harare; more imported canned foods. The list is long.
Zimbabwean manufacturers need to relearn their lesson. They can, if they
try, undercut imports since transport costs are high. With parity pricing
they can compete on quality. What they cannot do, if they hope to stay in
business, is raise their margins more than their foreign competitors. The
consumers will punish them.
We hope the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe will now turn to these errant
manufacturers and demand explanations that can be published.
Published on: 4th February, 2010
Harare - The Zimbabwe Mail can reveal that the armed group behind the attack
on a British-Diamond company African Consolidated Resource's (ACR) in Harare
on Tuesday night belongs to a Zanu PF faction led by Retired Army General
Solomon Mujuru, a Senior Zanu PF source said last night.
State media linked the incident to much-publicised plans to transport 129
000 diamond carats, seized from ACR, to the Central Bank. But an
intelligence source said a faction led by General Mujuru is objecting to the
plan by its rival led by Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa for the
Diamonds to be handed over to the Reserve Bank as provided by the recent
Supreme Court ruling.
Mujuru faction are furious about the arrengement because they don't have any
inside information or control over the events at the Central Bank where
former Police Commissioner Henry Mukurazhizha has been tasked with the
security and so they fear their rivals are planning to enrich themselves and
eventually dislodge them from the succession contest using the proceeds.
The Supreme Court ordered that the diamonds be moved to the reserve bank to
be kept by "a neutral body" pending the resolution of the ownership dispute,
but the Mujuru faction are accusing the Supreme Court bench of being
manipulated by Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa who belongs to the
Retired General Mujuru is pushing for his wife, the current joint Vice
President Joyce Mujuru to succeed Robert Mugabe in a bitterly contested
succession battle with the Defence Minister Emmerson Mnagagwa and the two
factions are engaged in hostile activities to out do each other as the
curtain comes down for the aging Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe.
In Harare, gunmen armed with AK47 rifles stormed the Zimbabwe offices of a
British-based diamond company, African Consolidated Resource after midnight
Tuesday, in an incident police tried to play down describing it as a
robbery. A police spokesman on Wednesday confirmed the raid on the Zimbabwe
headquarters of London-based African Consolidated Resources, and said
investigations were in progress.
Police Spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena, last night refused to confirm reports
that there was an exchange of gun-fire between the armed group and members
of the police and the guards. Our source who was one of the first
investigation team to arrive at the scene said they picked up a number of
cartridges which have been sent for forensic examination.
However, another source in the Zimbabwe military intelligence (MID)
investigation team said the three vheicles used by the armed gunmen, a
saloon car, a 4×4 Nissan pick-up and a van have been sighted at a farm in
Ruwa, about 22 kilometres East of Harare and the farm is said to be owned by
a Senior Zanu PF official and another vheicle was last seen heading for
The gunmen are believed to be retired army officers, and investigations have
since gathered the information that they collected rifles and ammunition at
2 Brigade, a Zimbabwe National Army Barrack in Cranborne. There are growing
fears in Harare that Zimbabwe is moving towards a conflict similar to the
one in Sierra Leone in the 90s with arms supplied by ruthless foreign
criminals and arms traders from Israel, Russia and rogue states in Eastern
The World's top influencial diamond traders mainly from middle East are now
focused on Zimbabwe's diamond fields, deemed by some experts as the World's
most significant find of the gems in the past century. Meanwhile, a source
who is very much close to the Zanu PF bitter power struggles told our
reporter that the succession battled has now shifted into the diamond fields
and he warned that it is fast developing into a highly emotive issue between
the two rival factions.
The source, a senior member of Zanu PF, speaking on condition of anonymity
told our reporter that the country's political stability is now in danger
over the control of the diamonds and it could escalate into an internal
armed conflict similar to Sierra Leone civil war. On Tuesday, The Minerals
Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe (MMCZ) postponed its plans to transport
300,000 carats of diamonds to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, after the armed
men raided African Consolidated Resource's (ACR) offices in Harare.
Former Thornhill Airbase Commander and President Robert Mugabe's personal
helicopter pilot, Retired Air Vice Marshal Robert Mhlanga is the Executive
Chairman at Mbada Diamonds, a secretive company and he reports directly to
Robert Mugabe and Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Mr Mhlanga is reported to be commanding sorties of Helicopter flights
everyday transporting diamonds to secret places and some are smuggled
through Mozambique and South Africa with the assistance of international
rogue agents. A mile-long runway capable of accommodating massive,
long-range cargo jets is being built in the Chiadzwa diamond fields
Aerial pictures published in the media show construction work is well under
way, with a newly built control tower apparently complete and the runway
nearly ready for surfacing. But the construction of the runway suggests that
the army wants to use its access to the raw diamonds - whose production is
worth an estimated £125 million a month - to obtain goods from abroad, in
The company ACR is locked in litigation with President Robert Mugabe's
government over the claim for the rich Chiadzwa diamond field in eastern
Zimbabwe. ACR officials did not comment on the raid, but mining industry
sources said the intruders assaulted the company's four security guards at
the heavily-protected building in central Harare, and made off with
computers and a new pick-up truck.
The vehicle was discovered shortly afterwards at a nearby hotel, abandoned,
but with the keys still in the ignition. The government seized the claim
from ACR in 2006, and let thousands of illegal diggers and panners overrun
it until two years later, when soldiers and police cracked down, allegedly
killing scores of people and severely assaulting and torturing hundreds
The violence drew sharp criticism from the Kimberley Process Certification
Scheme, the international body founded to stop the trade in "blood diamonds"
in Africa, and demanded that the military be withdrawn and transparency and
order be established at Chiadzwa. Controversy has continued, however, as the
government allowed two South African companies to form joint ventures with
the bankrupt state-owned mining company to exploit the alluvial diamond
An ongoing parliamentary inquiry this week accused the government of
"irregular" dealings with the two companies. The raid came as ACR was about
to apply for an eviction order against the two companies, after a high court
judge in September ruled that the state seizure of the field was illegal,
and that ACR was the legal owner of the claim.
Political analysts say that the Chiadzwa diamonds are of crucial importance
to the turnaround of the cash-strapped country, which is under a
power-sharing government formed by Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan
Tsvangirai. Mining experts believe the field could earn the government up to
1 billion dollars a year in revenues from the field.
But diplomats and members of Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change
have expressed fears that Mugabe and his Zanu-PF party are planning to seize
the claim, after the collapse of the economy in 2008 left them without
financial support. Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has been briefed about
the continued presence of the army at the diamond fields and the
construction of the secret runway. A party insider said: "We know about it
and it is extremely sensitive. We are very worried about what we have found
out this week."
The Sierra Leone Civil War began in 1991, by the Revolutionary United Front
(RUF) under Foday Sankoh. Tens of thousands died and more than 2 million
people (well over one-third of the population) were displaced because of the
11-year conflict. Neighboring countries became host to significant numbers
of refugees attempting to escape the civil war. It was officially declared
over on 18 January 2002. In 1985, Joseph Momoh, a military leader, was
installed as president of Sierra Leone. One major opposition group consisted
of students including Foday Sankoh, Abu Ahmed Kanu, and Rashid Mansaray.
Many students were expelled from the country and this group fled to Ghana
and then Libya where they attended Moammar Qaddafi's secret service military
training facility. The group recruited unemployed young men and students,
but as the group grew, internal squabbles arose, and many left the group,
some students to universities in Ghana, others back to Sierra Leone.
Control of Sierra Leone's diamond industry was a primary objective for the
war. Although endowed with abundant natural resources, Sierra Leone was
ranked as the poorest country in the world by 1998. With the breakdown of
all state structures, wide corridors of Sierra Leonean society were opened
up to the trafficking of arms and ammunition, and an illegal trade in
recreational drugs from Liberia and Guinea. Zimbabwe Mail
February 04 2010 ,
John Nyashanu, Zimbabwe
The issue of compensation for white commercial farmers has stirred up a
hornet's nest in Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe's Finance Minister Tendai Biti says
farmers whose farms have been appropriated should be paid. Zanu-PF says the
country is not obliged to pay for the land.
Biti says: "The parties have recognised the obligation of paying
compensation - not for improvements, but for land acquired. So there is a
difference between compensation in terms of improvements which is defined in
terms of Section 16 of the constitution of Zimbabwe and the compensation of
the land, which is not defined in the constitution."
Not surprisingly, Zanu-PF took the opposite view. "If the minister of
finance has got strong sympathies about why whites were deprived of their
land and if they should be compensated for that he is always free to consult
on a bilateral basis - or on an individual basis with the British so that
they can take up that responsibility," says Zanu-PF's Christopher
The controversial land occupations are still continuing, despite
interventions by bodies like the Southern African Development Community.
Lucy Bailey: My intrepid lover, two white Africans and Mugabe’s thugs who
wanted them all dead
By Stephen Robinson, Evening Standard 04.02.10
Making a feature-length documentary in rural Africa is hard enough, any
film-maker will tell you. But making a film about a family of white farmers
under attack from racist zealots in Zimbabwe, where Robert Mugabe's secret
police brutally enforce a blanket ban on foreign media, is so dangerous that
it borders on the insane.
Lucy Bailey concedes as much as she recalls the two-year struggle she and
her partner, Andrew Thompson, have lived through in the making of their film
Mugabe and the White African.
No large, established production company would have embarked on such a
dangerous project, so the west London-based couple decided to co-direct it
as their first full-length documentary, exhausting each other and virtually
bankrupting themselves in the process.
First, they realised they would have to smuggle the equipment in by boat,
down the Zambezi under cover of darkness. When they needed a new lens, it
had to be run over the border, then welded into the door panel of their car
to avoid detection at roadblocks.
And to cap the logistical nightmare, Bailey, 37, became pregnant during
filming, and had a complicated premature delivery back in Britain at a
crucial point in the editing process. “I tell myself I'll have my maternity
leave soon, but I very much doubt I will,” she says. Not receiving any
salary for two years has left no money for a nanny for their 14-month-old
son. No wonder Bailey seems exhausted when we meet, though she and Thompson
are buoyed by having just been Bafta shortlisted for Outstanding Debut film.
The couple had worked extensively in Africa on a variety of wildlife and
documentary films for National Geographic and the Discovery Channel, as well
as short promotion pieces for Comic Relief. Filming in the Johannesburg
townships, they saw the columns of starving, tortured Zimbabwean refugees
and knew they wanted to find a project that would highlight the continuing
tragedy unfolding there.
Then they chanced upon a newspaper cutting about Mike Campbell and his
son-in-law, Ben Freeth, who jointly farmed fruit on an estate being targeted
by Mugabe for his cronies.
The film centres on the legal challenge the men took to the pan-national
southern African court in Namibia to secure a formal human rights
declaration that Mugabe and his allies were acting illegally in driving them
off their farm.
When Bailey and Thompson first met the family in Windhoek, their story was
so compelling that they began filming straight away — without securing
funding. Thompson, 38, the cameraman, made the undercover trips to the farm
60 miles west of Harare posing as a birdwatcher, while Bailey covered the
courtroom drama in Windhoek.
But there were constant problems. The boat hired to take their cameras down
the Zambezi caught fire, jeopardising thousands of pounds' worth of
Using local drivers to drop off the cameras, Thompson filmed the family —
Freeth is married to Campbell's daughter, Laura, and they have three young
children — as they fended off the violent invaders.
Bailey won't go into detail for fear of endangering the Zimbabweans who
helped them but she insisted that Thompson only stay in the country for a
few days at a time, before word spread of “the white man with his camera”.
“Sometimes it was just too dangerous for him to call me and we wouldn't
speak for 48 hours,” Bailey recalls. “Then I'd find myself panicking and
thinking: How would I know if something's gone wrong and he's been picked
After Thompson had left, Campbell and Freeth were abducted by Mugabe's
henchmen and brutally beaten. Thompson knew he had to film their injuries
so, throwing caution to the wind, he flew back into Zimbabwe with his camera
hidden in his suitcase.
Then he disassembled the camera piece by piece and smuggled it into Harare
hospital under the noses of the secret-service guards on the door.
Campbell, the White Man referred to in the film's title, used to be a
vigorous 75-year-old farmer. He suffered head and feet injuries and had
several of his fingers broken. “They turned me into an old man in one
night,” he says.
Freeth nearly died from a build-up of fluid on the brain from a fractured
skull, and attended the climax of the court case in a wheelchair. Campbell's
wife, Angela, had her arm broken.
The power of the film lies in the poignant discrepancy between the bloody
mayhem on the farm and the lofty legal principles about human rights debated
in the courtroom. As the court papers clearly show, Mugabe's
“redistribution” programme awards not the landless peasantry but his new
elite — judges, cabinet ministers, political activists and their mistresses.
Because Freeth and Campbell could demonstrate that their farm was bought
perfectly legally after independence, the Windhoek court ruled that there
was no explanation for their being targeted other than anti-white racism.
But at this climatic moment of victory for the family in the film, the court
authorities were still refusing to allow Thompson to film. Bailey, five
months' pregnant, bone tired and desperate, pleaded with the registrar's
“I said, Look you are a house of justice, the world doesn't know what you
are doing here and they should',” recalled Lucy, “and something suddenly
changed with him, and he said I was right and that we could film.”
Much to the annoyance of the Zimbabwean legal team, Bailey and Thompson were
able to record the dramatic denouement to their documentary.
Technically, the victory invalidated the seizure of thousands of white
farmers' properties but, so far, not one has been returned. Two months after
the court case, Mugabe's thugs returned and razed Campbell and Freeth's
Now they are living in safe houses supported by friends, while the farm,
once a prosperous fruit business, its equipment looted, is turning back into
bush. Black Zimbabweans seem indifferent to farming the land once they have
stolen it: destroying the livelihoods of the whites seems to be the
objective in itself.
And the virus of historic resentments is spreading southwards. Bailey points
out that more white farmers have been murdered in South Africa than in
It was the determination of the two farmers that inspired the film-makers.
“People said we were putting them in danger by making the film, but actually
they put their own heads about the parapet by launching the legal action.
They wanted publicity to help their case. You have to take a stand,” says
Bailey firmly. “The legal point they established is very important, and it
is very important it is recorded in a documentary form.”
Bailey and Thompson have had to match the farmers' doggedness in getting the
film made. Bailey gave birth a month prematurely after suffering
pre-eclampsia, and exasperated her doctors by editing the film from her
The baby is thriving but one senses the whole process has taken a huge toll,
both on Bailey's health and the couple's finances. They did get some
funding, from the Film Agency for Wales, but the budget, at around £350,000,
was tiny for a 90-minute film.
Thompson is currently in India earning money by filming that hardy BBC
perennial, a series about the Indian railways. Bailey, meanwhile, is
fighting to get the film out on general release. Documentaries, even those
with superb reviews and Bafta nominations, are notoriously difficult to get
shown. The film still lacks a distributor in America, and, even more
vexingly, in South Africa, where there seems little official appetite to
delve too deeply into what is going on across the border.
Bailey and Thompson are determined the film should be widely seen as their
own indictment of what Mugabe is doing to a country they have both come to
love, despite everything. “We risked all to make this film,” Bailey says,
adding that black and white Zimbabweans also took enormous risks on their
“The world has a limited attention span, but terrible things are still
happening in Zimbabwe and people need to be told of them.”
Mugabe and the White African is at the Empire Leicester Square until 11 Feb.