Fri Feb 5, 2010 2:16pm GMT
* Workers demand at least 400 percent wage increase
* Move puts fragile unity govt under pressure
* Strike would paralyse public schools, hospitals
By Nelson Banya
HARARE, Feb 5 (Reuters) - Zimbabwe state workers went on strike on Friday to
press for a five-fold wage hike, a move that could cripple public services
and hamper the struggle by the fragile power-sharing government to fix the
State employees, who earn between $122 and $206 per month, last month gave
the government of Robert Mugabe and arch-rival Morgan Tsvangirai a two-week
ultimatum to raise salaries to an average $630 per month.
Major unions representing teachers, health workers, state college and
university lecturers as well as office workers, held a rally of more than
2,000 in central Harare, saying they would not return to work until the
government addressed their demands.
"The people are agitated. They have lost their patience," said Cecilia
Alexander, head of the Public Service Association, a union of government
"We have no choice. Our members have declared that they are not going to
report for work. They will only return to work when the government offers
them something serious."
The unity government formed a year ago to end a protracted political crisis
says it needs at least $10 billion to reverse a decade of economic decline,
but is struggling to attract external cash.
Tendai Chikowore, who chairs the Apex Council, an umbrella body for all
state workers, said unions had rejected a government offer of $15 more a
"They simply restated an offer which we had rejected before, so we will
advise them that this is the position taken by the workers," Chikowore told
There was no immediate government response.
Finance Minister Tendai Biti has said civil service pay takes up at least 60
percent of revenues, and limited resources make it difficult for the state
to increase wages significantly.
A strike by teachers and health professionals, who make up the bulk of the
civil service, would hurt efforts to revive key sectors that collapsed at
the height of Zimbabwe's crisis in 2008 when public schools and hospitals
ground to a halt.
The unity government has managed to stabilise the economy, mainly by dumping
a local currency rendered worthless by hyperinflation and allowing the use
of foreign currency.
The economy grew for the first time in a decade in 2009 -- by a
better-than-expected 4.7 percent -- but analysts say it needs significant
levels of foreign investment and Western aid.
However, investors and donors are holding out for signs that the unity
government will hold together and whether Mugabe is ready genuinely to share
power with Tsvangirai and institute broad political and economic reforms.
The coalition has been rocked by frequent wrangles over the pace of reforms,
senior government appointments such as that of central bank governor and
Attorney-General, as well as sanctions imposed on Mugabe and his inner
By Tichaona Sibanda
5 February 2010
Botswana is to recall two diplomats from Harare in protest against what it
considers a 'rebuff' by Zimbabwe to engage them and find a 'diplomatic'
solution to the continued detention of three wildlife officials.
The wildlife officials were picked up two weeks ago after 'inadvertently'
straying into Zimbabwe as they were tracking lions that had killed some
cattle in Lesoma village in Botswana.
Botswana's Ambassador to Zimbabwe Gladys Kokorwe told SW Radio Africa on
Friday that the wildlife officers had been dispatched to the border area to
help search for the marauding lions.
"The officers were new to the area and they got lost. They decided to follow
a gravel road in the hope of meeting people who would help them with
directions. After traveling some distance they saw a Zimbabwe flag and
decided to approach the people there," Ambassador Kokorwe said.
The officers reportedly presented themselves to what is now believed to have
been a border patrol team from Zimbabwe and told them of their predicament
and that they were lost and looking for directions.
"Unfortunately, after talking to three people there, they eventually found
themselves in the hands of the police. Frustratingly, all our efforts to
have the officers released have been ignored by our counterparts here in
Harare," claimed the Ambassador. The officers have since appeared in court
in Victoria Falls and are now awaiting a magistrate's judgment, due on
Monday next week.
The Ambassador revealed that Foreign Affairs officials in Harare only
reacted to their enquiries after her government ordered the recall of the
diplomats. Efforts by Botswana to have the wildlife officers released
included high level phone calls by Foreign Affairs Minister Phandu Skelemani
and Police Commissioner Thebeyame Tsimako to their counterparts in Harare.
As a last endeavor, earlier this week the Vice President of Botswana Mompati
Merafhe attempted to meet Robert Mugabe in Ethiopia, Addis Ababa at the
African Union summit but was rebuffed.
"So my government said - enough is enough - and decided to recall the
defence and intelligence attaches from the embassy here in Harare in the
hope that Zimbabwe will do the same from its embassy in Gaborone at the end
of this month," Ambassador Kokorwe said.
Analysts in diplomacy say Botswana's action to recall the diplomats shows it
means business over the issue, and intends to send 'a clear signal' to
Zimbabwean authorities about the seriousness with which they regard the
Relations between the two countries have been chilly - and look set to get
colder following Botswana's position that the two posts of defence and
intelligence attaché be frozen, and are never to be filled.
Such a move by Botswana is rare especially among SADC states, but is used as
a peaceful warning shot when countries fail to find common ground on
controversial subjects. Zimbabwe and Botswana have not enjoyed the best of
relations in the pas, especially in 2008 when Robert Mugabe's regime accused
Botswana of training MDC bandits and militia to overthrow the government.
By Alex Bell
05 February 2010
A commercial farmer, who has been campaigning for the implementation of a
regional land ruling that declared the land 'reform' programme unlawful, has
now been accused of contempt of court, after he criticised a High Court
judge's decision to dismiss the same ruling in Zimbabwe.
Chegutu farmer Ben Freeth could face contempt of court charges if the Law
Society of Zimbabwe agrees that his reaction to the judge's ruling warrants
such charges. Justice Barack Patel last month dismissed a finding by the
human rights court of the Southern African Development Community (SADC),
which ruled that Robert Mugabe's land grab campaign was unlawful. Justice
Patel said the regional Tribunal's ruling would have no effect in Zimbabwe
because of the political upheaval that reversing 10 years of land seizures
In response to the ruling, Freeth, who heads the SADC Tribunal Rights Watch
group, said: "it is a sad day for any country rife with human rights abuse
when a member of the judiciary entrenches the future possibility of human
rights abuse." In a statement Freeth likened Justice Patel's actions to
those of "judges under dictatorial regimes such as in Nazi Germany or
Stalinist Soviet Union."
Freeth is now being accused of 'attacking' Justice Patel in an article by
the state's mouthpiece newspaper, the Herald. The paper reported on Friday
that Gerald Mlotshwa, a lawyer who was involved in the case, has since
written to the Law Society of Zimbabwe and the government saying Freeth's
conduct was in contempt of court. The letter was reportedly also copied to
Justice and Legal Affairs Minister Patrick Chinamasa, Chief Justice Godfrey
Chidyausiku, Judge President Rita Makarau and lawyers Gollop and Blank.
Mlotshwa told the Herald that Freeth's statements 'fell outside the limits
of reasonable courtesy in publicly criticising judges.'
"By effectively labelling Justice Patel a Nazi judge responsible for
legalising ethnic cleansing, Mr Freeth clearly intended to shake public and
international confidence in the manner in which justice is being
administered by the High Court, and in particular the learned judge in
Zimbabwe," Mlotshwa told the Herald.
Mlowtshwa added: "The statement clearly scandalises a judge of the High
Court of Zimbabwe, and in my view amounts to contempt of court."
The SADC Tribunal's ruling in 2008 came as a hard won victory for a group of
79 commercial farmers who had all either lost land, or been targeted for
land invasion under the chaotic land grab campaign. Led by Chegutu farmer
Michael Campbell and his son-in-law Freeth, the farmers took their battle
before the Tribunal in an effort to secure their property rights. The
Tribunal ordered that the government respect those rights and compensate the
farmers who had already lost land. As a SADC member state, Zimbabwe was
meant to adhere to the Tribunal ruling.
But the farmers' hard won battle amounted to little and the often violent
drive to remove the remaining commercial farmers from productive land in
Zimbabwe has continued to intensify. Campbell is no longer on the property,
which was violently invaded last year by thugs working for top ZANU PF
official Nathan Shamuyarira. All the crops were stolen along with much of
the farming equipment. Both the Campbell's and the Freeth's properties were
burnt down, as well as the homes of their workers, who were also beaten and
Since the SADC ruling in late 2008 at least 80 other properties have also
been forcibly taken over in direct contravention of the Tribunal's orders.
At the same time more than 4,000 farming families and at least a million of
their workers and their families have been driven off the land and out of
their homes since Mugabe launched the land grab campaign a decade ago. The
country's leading agricultural workers' union, GAPWUZ, has said that at
least 60% of workers evicted in the land reform exercise were beaten and
brutalised by land invaders. Farmers, who kept in contact with their staff
after eviction, have reported that 40% have died since losing their homes
and jobs. Meanwhile, most of the beneficiaries of 'land reform' have been
top ZANU PF officials who now own multiple properties. These farms have
mostly been left to run barren, leaving the 'breadbasket' of Africa almost
wholly dependent on food aid.
It is for this reason that Freeth criticised Patel's ruling, explaining that
far from being for the 'public good,' the land reform program has
'indisputably' been a programme of violent, forced eviction that has
resulted in the total collapse of agriculture in Zimbabwe.
Fri Feb 5, 2010 12:57pm GMT
By Shapi Shacinda
CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - A key Zimbabwe mining group has proposed that locals
have 10 percent ownership of foreign-owned companies, and not the 51 percent
the government wants under a draft law that has shaken investors and could
further damage an already ravaged economy.
Zimbabwe's government has proposed in a draft law that "indigenous
Zimbabweans" take 51 percent ownership of all foreign companies, including
mines and banks. .
Chamber of Mines of Zimbabwe President Victor Gapare told Reuters the
government had in principle agreed to its proposals.
"We have given the government our proposals that equity (should be) a
minimum of 10 percent, then empowerment credits will make up to...15 percent
and this will cover local procurement," Gapare told Reuters in an interview
in Cape Town.
"One of the concessions the government has given is that if a company lists
on the local stock exchange, that will be considered as local empowerment
mainly because most of those shares will be bought by local pension funds,"
Junior Mines Minister Murisi Zwizwai told Reuters a revised Mines and
Minerals Act, would "go to the cabinet this month on its way to the
parliament". He gave no further details.
Analysts believe the law would frighten away much needed investment to fix
an economy severely damaged by the collapse of commercial agriculture
following President Robert Mugabe's seizure of white-owned farms since 2000.
Mining group Rio Tinto said this week the plans to impose local ownership
rules on foreign firms threatened its diamond operations.
There have been conflicting statements by government officials about local
ownership since President Robert Mugabe formed a fragile unity government a
year ago with former opposition foe Morgan Tsvangirai, who became prime
Last September, Mugabe urged mining companies to invest in Zimbabwe and
sought to allay fears that such businesses could be expropriated. .
Gapare said the new law would also seek more corporate social investments by
mining companies and building factories for value addition to raw materials.
"What we envisage people doing especially from the bigger mines, is helping
with geological works, safety and environment, things like that," Gapare
Gapare said there was a rebound in the mining sector in the southern African
"Things have improved and capacity realization in the mining industry has
improved. So in I don't think it will be as diabolical as most people think
and it will not be a free carry as people will have to pay for (shares),"
Mining companies in Zimbabwe include Anglo American Plc unit Anglo Platinum,
Impala Platinum and Rio Tinto, a major shareholder in a diamond mine.
2010 , 6:54:00
Government will have to cough up hundreds of millions of rands in damages to
a South African farmer, after the North Gauteng High Court this morning
ruled in favour of Crawford Von Abo. Von Abo's farms were seized, crops
damaged and livestock killed in Zimbabwe as part of that country's land
The court found that the South African government was liable for Von Abo's
loss, as they neglected to put in place measures to prevent the violation of
his rights by the Zimbabwean government. Von Abo has fought a protracted
legal battle in the High Court and Constitutional Court.
In 2008, a court ruled that he was entitled to diplomatic protection from
the South African Government. Government was ordered to take steps to
protect him but failed to do so. Von Abo will now have to show just how much
he has to be compensated.
By John Chimunhu
Published: February 5, 2010
HARARE - An MDC-T activist, Peter Magombedze, who died on December 27, 2009
in Gokwe was “killed by the severe blows during the barbaric assault” by
members of the police, an autopsy report has confirmed.
“The deceased was assaulted on the genitals and abdomen with a butt of an FN
rifle several times and was struck with baton sticks all over the body,”
read a postmortem report by Dr Eduardo Estrada of Parirenyatwa Hospital.
Two police officers, Sergeant Zvinavashe and Sergeant Nzori of Nembudziya
police station have since been arrested in connection with the death,
according to the latest MDC newsletter, The Changing Times.
According to eyewitnesses quoted by the paper, Magombedze was at Tsungai
business centre on Christmas day when he was approached by six police
officers accusing him of perpetrating violence against Zanu PF supporters in
2008. He was then heavily assaulted.
Zimbabwe’s new majority party says that more than 500 of its supporters have
been killed by Zanu PF since the contentious June 27 2008 poll.
By staff writer
5 February 2010
Two student activists were arrested by police in Harare on Thursday for
addressing their colleagues at the crisis ridden Harare Polytechnic. The
Zimbabwe National Students Union spokesperson Kudakwashe Chakabva issued a
statement on Friday saying the two had been assigned a fact-finding mission
to collect data on the grievances and challenges facing students.
The arrested activists are ZINASU National Secretary for Education and
Research Bastinos Kundishora and Gamuchirai Mukura.
The students' union has been protesting against high tuition fees and the
appalling standard of education.
Chakabva said: "Students at Harare Polytechnic College have been denied
their examination results, and others have been denied registration owing to
fees arrears. ZINASU therefore condemns this vile act as well as the
continued harassment of student leaders who are just executing the mandate
given to them by the generality of students."
The latest arrest comes a day after eleven students were assaulted and
arrested by police and security guards at the University of Zimbabwe. The
students were also holding a meeting to address grievances regarding tuition
fees and accommodation problems. The UZ students were eventually released on
the same day but were charged with trying to incite violence on campus.
ZINASU is calling on the government to revisit the contentious fees issue
with immediate effect.
From The Herald, 5 February
Harare and Iran will set up a helicopter repair, maintenance and training
centre in Zimbabwe, Teheran's Ambassador in Harare Mr Rasoul Momeni has
said. The centre will benefit Zimbabwean technicians as well as their
counterparts across Africa. In an interview at the Air Force of Zimbabwe
Headquarters in Harare yesterday, Ambassador Momeni said: "Iranian
technicians will be coming into Zimbabwe in a few weeks to finalise the
setting up of a helicopter maintenance base. "The move will see the whole
African region benefiting. We share strong ties with Zimbabwe in areas of
military co-operation. We have been training AFZ technicians in maintaining
and repairing helicopters. Zimbabwe has a highly literate and professional
force; they are in their own class in the region. We expect they will
benefit greatly from this arrangement." AFZ Commander Air Marshal Perrance
Shiri confirmed the development, adding, "We are so excited about the
arrangement as it brings expertise from Iran close to the users or students.
"We have agreed on areas of co-operation. Iranians are experts, they are
some of the hardest working, professional and committed people I have ever
seen on this planet. Plans are also underway to send our pilots for training
to Iran although we are still working on the modalities. The move will not
only benefit Zimbabwe, but also the region as a whole. The base would not
necessarily be in AFZ premises, but we are definitely an interested party."
February 5, 2010
By Owen Chikari
MASVINGO- A four-member commission of enquiry set up to look into
allegations of corruption and abuse of office by Gutu resident magistrate
Musaiona Shortgame has cleared him of the charges.
The commission, established by the Ministry of Justice Legal and
Parliamentary affairs last year, has ordered his reinstatement.
Shortgame was suspended last year pending investigations into allegations of
bribery. He was alleged to have received a US$400 kick-back from a convict
in return for his freedom.
However, the magistrate will still stand trial in the criminal court; the
trial has been scheduled for February 24. Rusape magistrate Hosiah Majaya is
expected to preside over the case.
In its findings, the commission noted that what the magistrate did was above
It also noted that the allegations that the judicial officer received a
bribe were not true.
"Basing on what we gathered from the witnesses, the magistrate has no case
to answer; hence we recommend his immediate reinstatement," read part of the
Masvingo provincial magistrate Thomas Mandityira confirmed the commission
had finished its investigations.
"The commission found him not guilty, and has since recommended his
reinstatement," said Mandityira .
"He is set to resume duty on February 8."
It was alleged that the magistrate demanded US$400 from a convict in return
for his freedom. Shortgame was said to have received money before signing
for the convict's release without the knowledge of the state.
The state prosecutor who was representing the state in the case then raised
alarm over the intended release. He reported the case to the police
resulting in the magistrate's arrest.
Shortgame confirmed that he had been cleared of the charges.
"I am going to start work on February 8 but my trial in the criminal court
has been set for February 24," said Shortgame.
According to an article in the Mail & Guardian last week, "donors have
stepped in with an estimated USD 74-million in seed packs and fertiliser,"
to help Zimbabwe through a long dry spell and the threat of a poor harvest
this year. An estimated two million people will need food aid this year, and
so the UN has issued a USD 378-million appeal to assist them.
At the same time, the Constitutional reform process needs at least USD
43-million to be completed. Foreign governments such as the US, European
Union and Australia have pledged their assistance for this.
In 2007, Gideon Gono estimated that Zimbabwe was losing USD 50-million per
month through gold and diamond smuggling. Given the size of the alluvial
field at Marange, this figure could be even higher if the diamonds had been
professionally, and commercially, extracted - not just smuggled out of the
With just ten months of properly managed diamond income, Zimbabwe could be
addressing all of the costs listed above. Even if the country chose not to
spend the money on these matters, an extra USD 600-million worth of income
for the coming year is nothing to sniff at - it's more than a quarter of
Zimbabwe's national budget.
So, as essential as things like food aid are to protect vulnerable
Zimbabweans, and as important as a genuine, inclusive, responsive
constitutional reform process is for Zimbabwe's future, what is the role of
donor aid in perpetuating bad governance, and the mismanagement of natural
resources like diamnds, in Zimbabwe.
This entry was posted on February 5th, 2010 at 8:31 am by Amanda Atwood
(AFP) - 10 hours ago
HARARE - The Zimbabwe Open golf championship has been relaunched after a
nine-year hiatus and is set to regain its place on the South African
"Sunshine Tour" in April.
The championship was removed from the tour's schedules by the South African
PGA because foreign currency prize winnings were not paid to their members
within a stipulated 21 days following the 2001 event.
Seven Zimbabwe sponsors have now raised the required minimum fund of 250,000
US dollars, mainly due to an improving local economy.
The Zimbabwe Open was first played in 1984 and previous winners include
former British Open and USPGA champion Nick Price and the Fijian Vijay
5th February 2010
Two events this week serve as a reminder that even the most intractable
problems can be solved, given good will, a genuine desire for the common
good and willingness to compromise - without loss of principle - from all
parties. That may sound like pie-in-the-sky nonsense to hard nosed political
types but the two events I referred to illustrate, I believe, an essential
ingredient in solving the Zimbabwean impasse. The five British MP's
currently visiting Zimbabwe may announce that they are delighted with the
progress the country has made since the inception of the GNU but the facts
on the ground for ordinary Zimbabweans tell a very different story.
The two events I refer to are object lessons for Zimbabwe. Today, February
5th 2010, after the near collapse of the Good Friday Agreement in Northern
Ireland which had brought sworn enemies, Sinn Fein and the DPU, into an
uneasy power-sharing government, the two sides today announced that they
have reached a settlement. It took hours and hours of patient negotiation
late into the night, but finally the Agreement is secure and Northern
Ireland can face the future with some hope that life will improve for all
its citizens and that the violence and extra-judicial killings will stop.
What was very obvious from this hard-won solution was that, in addition to
the two sides' recognition of the absolute necessity of finding a way
forward, the presence of external parties, in this case the Republic of
Ireland, the British Government and the US, was a crucial ingredient in
helping the two sides reach a solution. It was pressure from these neutral
parties that kept the warring sides at the negotiating table. In our own
dispute, Zimbabweans are entitled to ask: So, where is our external, neutral
party to pressurize Zanu PF and the two MDC's into reviving the collapsing
GNU? President Zuma and SADC are there but what sign have we had they are
either neutral or even impartial?
The second event which occurred this week was in fact the anniversary of a
momentous announcement which took place twenty years ago on February 2nd
1990.It was an announcement that shook South Africa and the whole world to
the core. On February 2nd FW de Klerk, the South African President stood up
to open a new session of the South African Parliament in Cape Town. History
records that the city was jam-packed with foreign journalists all expecting
to hear that Nelson Mandela was about to be released and desperate to report
on the historic event. Instead, de Klerk stunned the country and the world
by announcing nothing less than the end of apartheid, the unbanning of the
ANC, the release of all political prisoners and the dismantling of the
entire legislative structure that had propped up the apartheid system since
1948. The present parliament would be stood down and, there would be
one-person-one-vote elections, he announced. In a speech lasting less than
thirty minutes, de Klerk had dismantled the power of the white minority and
effectively ensured that the black majority were now in control of their
destiny. No one knew, except his closest advisors and they were sworn to
secrecy, what de Klerk was going to say and the effect was electric. Within
days there was a joyful and entirely peaceful demonstration led by
Archbishop Tutu through the streets of Cape Town. Nine days later Mandela
was released and the whole world saw for the first time in twenty seven
years the man whose name had become a byword for the cause of oppressed
What was it that made de Klerk, an Afrikaaner from a prominent establishment
family and the original forefathers of apartheid, take such a courageous and
far-reaching step? He was still only in his early fifties, many years of
power lay ahead of him but he virtually handed over to what many whites
regarded as 'communist inspired terrorists'. There were, of course, many
reasons but one of them was undoubtedly the breakup of the Soviet Union with
all that implied for Africa. The other was the near economic collapse that
had hit South Africa because of international sanctions. South Africa had
become a pariah state, suffering almost total isolation through the sporting
and cultural boycott. More than anything else, de Klerk and some of his
close colleagues recognised the reality of the situation. They saw very
clearly that South Africa could not go on the way it was. The black majority
was hammering at the door and had to be acknowledged; de Klerk bowed to the
inevitable, despite the backlash of a small body of hardliners who saw him
as a sellout of the white hegemony.
Tragically for Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe cannot or will not accept reality; he
has not learned the lessons of history, not even from his nearest neighbour.
After thirty years of unbroken power, this 86 year old man cannot accept the
reality that power is slowly changing hands. And now, as Finance Minister,
Tendayi Biti, articulated this week, Mugabe and Zanu PF continue to do all
they can to destroy the GNU by the unlawful farm invasions, the disobeying
of lawful court orders and the misuse of the media to vilify the MDC and the
Prime Minister. The only possible conclusion to draw from all this is that
Robert Mugabe and his Zanu PF supporters lack the good will, the desire for
the common good or the ability to compromise that will ensure a lasting
political settlement in Zimbabwe.
Yours in the (continuing) struggle PH