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Zimbabweans are now wide awake
Sundaytalk with Pius Wakatama
THIS is a true story. Old Magidi supported the liberation struggle from the very beginning when Joshua Nkomo, James Chikerema and George Nyandoro were the leaders. He strongly supported the armed struggle for one reason land.
He clearly remembered how his people had been moved, by the white government, from the productive Manyimo Valley to the rocky Masikana Hills in 1934 when he was about six years old. They were moved because the land had been given to a white man.Magidi is not his real name. He was called "Magidi" because he was always saying,""Dai tine magidi murungu taimutorera nyika yedu (If we had guns we would take back our land from the white man). When the armed war of liberation came to his area, Magidi pleaded with the "comrades" to train him so that he could also fight. The fighters told him he could not fight because of his advanced age. They instead asked him to organise "mujibhas" who could find and prepare food for them as well as acting as scouts and informers. Magidi did this with all his heart until he was arrested for feeding "terrorists". He was incarcerated at Marondera Prison where he was routinely beaten and tortured. Despite his suffering he refused to tell the authorities where the bases of the freedom fighters were. When independence came in 1980, Magidi was the happiest man alive. Now he and his relatives could go back to their beloved Manyimo Valley. However, year after year, he waited but nothing happened. When at Zanu PF political meetings, he asked the leaders of the new government when they would go back to the land they fought for, he was given evasive answers. Sometimes he was answered roughly as though he was a trouble maker. Finally, it dawned on him that the leadership had forgotten about the land issue. He stopped going to political meetings in disgust. One day Magidi heard that local war veterans were planning to take the law into their hands because they too were disgusted by the delaying tactics of the government. He attended a meeting where it was agreed that they should invade surrounding white owned farms and reclaim their land. Magidi was in full agreement. After they invaded the farms, Zanu PF political leaders led by the late Vice President Simon Muzenda came and asked them to vacate the farms they had invaded. They promised to resettle them lawfully in due course. Later on, however, President Robert Mugabe ordered that they be allowed to remain on the farms and that whites should leave those lands. Magidi and war veterans rejoiced and hailed President Mugabe as a real man of the people. Government agents came and they were all allocated pieces of land. Those whites who refused to move were beaten up and hounded out of their homes. Old Magidi left his home in the hills and went back to where his ancestors had been dispossessed of their land. He slaughtered a beast, brewed beer and held a traditional feast "bira"to thank his ancestors for bringing them back to their land. For two years, Magidi and his family toiled to clear the land for a new home. He tilled some acres of land and the harvest was good. He could not have been happier. He even showed his "sawhira"(ritual friend) where he wanted to be buried when he died. During the winter of the third year Zanu PF leaders came and said to them, "This land is designated for commercial farming. Your must all go back to your old homes from where you will be allocated suitable land. This farm now belongs to one of your leaders who was a commander during the war". Then the settlers protested but were told bluntly that those who did not want to move would face the wrath of the army. Those who wanted to go to a suitable place would be allocated new land in Mrewa. After the politicians left, Magidi broke down and cried like a child. He could not go back to Masikana and face those relatives who had dissuaded him from following the war veterans in invading the white man"s farm. He chose to go to Mrewa. Magidi"s wife and children refused to go with him to Mrewa. His wife said: "Mrewa is far. How are we going to transport the cattle. When you are settled, we will join you after you make arrangements for the moving of our cattle." When a government lorry came, Magidi and a few others climbed on. Tears welled in his eyes as he looked for the last time on what was his home for the past two years. In Mrewa, they were left at a place where new settlers were being allocated land. He was allocated a plot but he hardly looked it over. He was too tired. That evening he ate some bread with sugared cold water and slept under a tree with others from his area. Magidi was woken up at midnight by people wielding sticks and axes. "Go back where you came from,"they said. "This place is only for Mrewa people. If you are here by daylight you may lose your life." Before daylight Magidi carried his heavy bags and headed south back to Masikana. He had seen that those people were serious and meant what they said. He walked for two whole days before reaching Marondera. There he used the few hundred dollars he had to hitch a ride in a kombi to Masikana. Upon arriving as his old home Magidi collapsed. His mouth went to one side and he could hardly breathe. He had suffered a stroke. As I write, old Magidi is recuperating. He is a broken man, like so many others who were used by Zanu PF leaders in the continuing land saga. I read in the press recently that Zanu PF leaders who are determined to take MDC legislator, Roy Bennet"s farm in Manicaland Province, called upon war veterans and others to come to the farm the next day and be allocated plots of land. Come next day no war veteran or landless Zimbabwean showed up. It seems as though Zimbabweans are finally waking up to the truth that political leaders will use them to grab land and them discard them when their purposes are accomplished. It is said that stooges are being used by Manicaland Province Governor, Mike Nyambuya to evict popular Roy Bennet from his farm so that he can possess it. One hopes that even these stooges will also wake up and realise that they are being used. One hopes, too, that the rest of Zimbabwe will wake up to the truth about Zanu PF leaders and their greed and avarice. One only has to read all about it in the Utete report on the Land Reform Programme. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.
Elias Musakwa campaigns for Zanu PF
By Valentine Maponga
GOSPEL musician Elias Musakwa has come out in the open: he is a staunch Zanu PF member and last week donated $100 000 to the Zvavahera community irrigation scheme in Gutu during a Zanu PF campaign rally for the Gutu North by-election.
Musakwa, the director of Ngaavongwe Records who also sits on the board of the State-controlled Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ), is an official at the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.In Gutu, he put to rest all suspicions of his affiliation to the ruling party when he stood up from the crowd to step forward and hand the modest cash donation to Zanu PF"s candidate and eventual winner, Josiah Tungamirai. Tungamirai was to in turn forward it to the Zvavahera irrigation scheme. Musakwa made his charitable gesture at a gathering that was attended by Zanu PF heavyweights including Vice-President Joseph Msika, Foreign Affairs Minister Stan Mudenge, Joseph Made who is the Minister of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement and his boss at BAZ, junior Minister of State for Information and Publicity, Jonathan Moyo. It is understood Musakwa"s public address system was also donated for use by Tungamirai during his campaign in Gutu. Villagers and supporters of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change accuse State security agents of mounting yet another reign of terror in Gutu in the run-up to the by-election. "We heard that his PA system has also been used extensively elsewhere across the country at Zanu PF rallies, even where President Robert Mugabe himself would be addressing." Efforts to talk to Musakwa were futile; he continuously switched off his mobile phone on three occasions before advising StandardPlus to call later. "I"m travelling to my rural home, do you want me to get nabbed by the traffic police while talking to you over the phone. Just call me later,"Musakwa said before cutting the phone. Musakwa is close to Tungamirai with whom he jointly owns the record company, Gramma Records. Incidentally, Musakwa"s own Ngaavongwe Records a gospel music label has been experiencing tough times and recently top Gospel artist Fungisayi Zvakavapano ditched it before making a sudden about-turn. Efforts to bolster Ngaavongwe"s flagging fortunes by signing on new singing sensation, the controversial pop queen Sandra Ndebele, have also been fruitless. Christian leaders have in the past accused Musakwa of "betraying the Christian community"after he accepted the appointment into the BAZ as "the representative of Christianity"as outlined in the Broadcasting Services Act. The pro-Zanu PF BAZ is accused of trying to stifle the airwaves by making it almost impossible for new independent radio and television stations to be launched. Reverend Chris Chiriseri of the Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe said Musakwa does not represent any religious organisation in BAZ "but his music band alone"and therefore his appointment to the board was inappropriate. "We are not happy with Musakwa"s appointment. We feel it is inappropriate as Musakwa does not head any religious organisation except his band,"said Chiriseri. Another clergyman, Tinashe Maguranye of The Apostolic Faith Mission in Harare said: "Musakwa"s PA system has been used at most of Zanu PF"s rallies and I think that is the major reason he got himself on to that board."
WONDER why the newspapers are using the terms "sacked"or "suspended"when making reference to me. Surely they should know that it is a contradiction for someone to receive a salary and benefits when one is sacked.
Suspension also implies that one has done something wrong and there is some investigation of some kind taking place. I have neither been fired or suspended.I am simply on special leave of absence granted by the Zesa Board pending the resolution of my grievance regarding the unlawful appointment of Dr Gata as executve chairman. I once explained all this to the Editor of the The Financial Gazette who promised to print a correction. He never did. However, in spite of the irritating inaccuracies, it is encouraging when reporters take note and report on matters of public interest. Simba Mangwengwende Harare
TelOne giving us workers a raw deal on salaries
FOR the past few years I have been struggling to keep the vows I made when I started working for TelOne as a technician but I think, because of the stress that I have suffered, I can"t keep my mouth shut any longer lest I perish with my family.
Even though the company is making billions of dollars in profits per region through their hard working and honest employees, somebody in the "mismanagement team"seems not to care at all.One might wonder exactly what I mean when I say that we are being suppressed since there is the general perception that we are among the highest paid workers in the country but to tell the truth, we are all no better than "garden boysÓ. I am a Grade Seven Technician and my gross monthly salary is five hundred and forty three thousand dollars ($540 000) and above me there is the district manager and customer sales and services manager both earning below a million bucks; that is pathetic isn"t it? Salary negotiations for this year have failed because they have the habit of dictating things to workers; the spirit of negotiating died when they chased away Mutandiro who had the people at heart. We are not even asking for anything above what the government gave it"s workers but still somebody is saying that its too much because he feels that way. This kind of attitude is killing the corporation slowly, just like what happened to Zisco Steel and if it is to continue unchecked TelOne will soon become just another white elephant. Decision making is a very crucial process in the successful running of any organisation and if these guys can"t think straight, why can"t they just admit it and allow people with the relevant knowledge to do the job. We are tired of strikes and all other forms of industrial actions and we want to work for the betterment of our country. All we want is a chance to do our bit: don"t strangle us. GWG Tanaka Harare
God is mightier than MDC, Zanu PF
I"VE got a problem with the way that you guys report. It seems you guys have no idea what God is doing in this nation. I recommend that you all read 2 Kings 6 vs 24 through to all of Chapter 7.
For the past five years people have been praying for this nation. People have humbled themselves before God and I stand to tell you that we are seeing God"s hand at this moment. The changes that we have seen (the firming of the $ZD, decrease in inflation for Jan 2004, decrease in prices of fuel etc etc) are but an iota of what God is about to do.What I find disturbing are the articles that you guys write that seek to criticise and find human reasoning and explanations as to why these things will not last. You guys need to know the mind of God on the issue of what is happening in this country. My friends, God has arisen upon this nation and I"m afraid that you are among a certain school that seeks to promote things like mass action and sanctions against this nation. I don"t care about Zanu PF, I don"t care about MDC. What I will tell you is that My God, the Most High is doing things over this nation and no-one can stop him. I wish so much that the eyes of your understanding would be enlightened because if you knew what I know, you would write of a greater cause. The Youth of the Nation Harare
Tangawarima criticism unjustified
I MUST register my disappointment with the way you criticised Felix Tangawarima over his outburst about the national anthem in your "What"s On Air"column. I really fail to understand your logic you gentlemen of the press, Felix was absolutely right, spot on.
The national anthemm signifies who we are and for someone to play the wrong one for us is not only an insult but total lack of respect. Maybe you have never been out of the country, but if you have I am sure you will agree with me that the national anthem is very important. In some countries I have been to, they will stop whatever they are doing when it is played in total respect. It"s called national pride.Now, what do you think would happen if the wrong national anthem was played for these patriotic people? Come on guys grow up. Of course we have our own problems but that will never change the fact that we are Zimbabweans and should be proud of that. As Charles Barkley said, I may be wrong but I doubt it; you guys seem to love to have a go at Johno at the slightest excuse. How you linked Felix"s outburst to Johno is beyond me and everyone I spoke to. Do you know something we don"t know? But from the looks of things it seems you were just barking like a rabid dog. "Nyaradzo Harare
Failure to halt gold panning recipe for disaster
THE extremely devastating gold panning madness by illegal panners (makorokoza) in Bindura, Kwekwe, Mazoe and many other areas around the country in their frustrated and risky endeavours to make ends meet, is now making a mockery of our once enviable environmental and mining control systems.
What is happening in these and many other areas is exposing the truth about this government"s deliberate failure to enforce laws to eliminate such wanton environmental degradation.The safety of our infrastructural networks is now doubtful especially in the Kwekwe and Bindura areas. Roads and railway lines are under siege. Buildings and houses are developing life threatening cracks so that it"s now a matter of time before we witness a very shocking disaster either of buses plunging into collapsing earth or buildings collapsing. In the gold panners" squatter camps, the scale at which basic human virtues are being degraded is alarming. Illicit drug trade is rife in these ramshackle settlements which have become safe places of hibernation for hard core criminals. There is also a nauseating level of prostitution which, no doubt, heightens the transmission of the deadly HIV/Aids disease thereby rendering useless all the concerted efforts being made worldwide to try and eradicate it. Cases of TB are also very common because the panners live, work and sleep in extremely dusty, overcrowded and inhuman conditions. People are perishing almost everyday in the tunnels. It is crystal clear that the Zanu PF government is sacrificing the health of the environment, lives of the poor and worse, the ailing economy of the country in pursuit of its egoistic and extravagant political agenda. Gold, the mineral behind all these terrible activities, is known to be the major foreign currency earner so much so that if given proper management will contribute immensely towards resolving the current national economic crisis. But these illegal activities have proved insurmountable for the Zanu PF government to bring under control. This is because of the sensitivity and delicacy of the bond that links them to the perpetrators especially in Kwekwe and Bindura. Here makorokoza were tasked to spearhead the recent council and mayoral elections in exchange for the licence for them to continue with their illegal panning. One prominent member of Zanu PF is on record as saying: "if we lose we will stop all gold panning"and they won. The implication behind this scenario is that there is no immediate solution since 2005 elections are just around the corner. Owing to this apparent encouragement from the highest echelons of Zanu PF, there has been a huge influx of gold panners in Kwekwe who are now supervised by Zanu PF-controlled committees. Only card bearers of Zanu PF are allowed to pan and half of their daily income is given to the chairmen of the various committees who are the only ones who know in whose hands the money will end up! To most of us, this is pretty obvious. This has amply demonstrated that Zanu PF claims of efforts to alleviate poverty and eradicate corruption are just a smokescreen since they are the torchbearers in these unscrupulous acitivities. L.P Makanyisa Mhofu Warren Park, Harare
Bend it like Mahoso!
Shavings from The Woodpecker
Good for the goose THERE he goes again. After reading through the sinking Herald"s story about journalism lecturer-turned-chief-censor Tafataona Mahoso"s gripe about our story on Judge Susan Mungwira, one is left with no option but to conclude that the former Harare Polytechnic lecturer has to be feeling quite good with himself.
Woodpecker can actually picture the bespectacled Mahoso gleefully marking sections of The Standard story that offended him (and by the way him, not the honourable judge) and like the good professor that he is, painting the page "red" as we say in journalism parlance and finally saying to himself: "Gotcha", The Standard has a case to answer, eh Nathaniel!Fine, The Standard might have a case to answer, but that is up to the courts to decide. Where we take issue with the professor is the way he rushed to the boring Herald to raise his complaint on a story that appeared in The Standard before writing to us. Was it, shall we conclude, for him to build up his case so that our overzealous police can pounce on us as they have been known to do in the past before we could respond? Many people, especially in Zanu PF, might be impressed at the alacrity that the former journalism lecturer jumps to raise issues with the independent press everytime he feels we have wilfully wronged the government. But surely even they must be asking why Mahoso doesn"t show the same zeal and enthusiasm to question lies and erroneous reports in The Herald and the Sunday Mail newspapers, both notorious for manufacturing stories. The Herald of Thursday, January 29, publicly admitted that it has over the past two years knowingly defamed the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). The paper"s editors whom everyone knows are Puff Diddy and Nathaniel Moyo-Manheru admitted to creating lies that deliberately linked the MDC to a robbery at the Johannesburg International Airport. Those who believe that justice should be served impartially waited with baited breath for Mahoso to act. We are still waiting. To refresh the "overworked"professor"s mind, that other lying State newspaper The Chronicle towards the 2002 election told blatant lies that the MDC was involved in a plot to bomb high-rise buildings in Bulawayo. Of all places! Only two weeks ago, Judge President Paddington Garwe ordered The Herald to retract another front-page story in which it alleged that MDC president Morgan Tsvangirai had implicated "the US government in coup plot". Once again, there was no action or reaction from Mahoso. If Mahoso and the MIC want to be taken seriously and their work as proper watchdogs for the public respected by everyone, then they must act without fear or favour. Otherwise we shall conclude that Mahoso just has an axe to grind with the private media. Copycats everywhere STILL on matters involving the lying State-media newspapers, it has emerged that a Sunday Mail line editor has over time been plagiarising copy from other newspapers outside Zimbabwe and passing it off as her own. The "too-clever-by-half"editor, who was recently suspended for a week, was apparently in the habit of stealing other peoples" copy what is called in this business "plagiarism" and impressing dozy State media seniors, such as Nathaniel, as her own copy. Sources at Herald House said the sleepy State editors were really impressed by the line editor that her rise was, to say the least, "meteoric". She was only caught out when someone pointed out that her article was too similar to one that had been written by a Kenyan, one Catherine Awuor, and that where Catherine had talked of places familiar to Kenyan readers such as a "Kenchic takeaway", she had replaced that with "Cresta Mbare". But Phyllis Kachere is not the only one, because there really is a lot of plagiarism going on. One pink paper reader pointed out that an article by Fingaz columnist Mbulawa Moyo was similar to another that appeared in an earlier copy of the international Readers" Digest. In fact, the reader in a letter to the Fingaz editor accuses Moyo of copying the Readers" Digest story "word for word". "This is a form of corruption,"says the reader, who signs his name as P. Chibvongodze. It is indeed corruption, Chibvongodze. Another avid Shavings reader has also pointed out that Mbulawa Moyo was actually a well-known journalist using a pen name. The reader says the same Moyo, and two other new pink paper columnists, once worked for The Chronicle. But what is disheartening is that if Mbulawa Moyo is indeed the senior journalist once known in the journalistic circles as "In the Groove", then a senior journalist of such stature surely should know that plagiarism is the cardinal sin in this profession. Back to Kachere. A source says the lady editor was trying to get Zimpapers" management to construct a small cubicle office of her own in the newsroom when she was suspended from work because of the contested article. The source says Zimpapers" management had finally found some space sandwiched between Kwayedza"s editorial and the staff canteen where they were going to construct a tiny office for Kachere after persistent requests, just to bolster her inflated ego.
In an ironic way, we are back to 1965
A BLACK day for freedom and democracy in Zimbabwe? Yes. Last Thursday began once again the movement backwards in our struggle for a full-blown democracy in this country. In an ironic way, we are back to 1965 the year of Smith"s Unilateral Declaration of Independence.
We are of course referring to the Zimbabwe Supreme Court which on Thursday ruled that the government"s Media and Information Commission was constitutional and that the laws prohibiting journalists from practising without accreditation were legitimate. This effectively means that it will be a criminal offence for a journalist to practise his profession without accreditation.It is pertinent to remind our readers that before the coming into force of the draconian Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (Aippa), accreditation of journalists was routine and a mere administrative formality. But now the Minister of Information is accorded under the Act powers to decide who may and may not practise as a journalist a clear violation of Section 20 of the Zimbabwean Constitution which states that everyone has the right to enjoy freedom of expression, freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart ideas and information without interference. Whether in the end the Minister does not make use of these powers is neither here nor there. The fact that such arbitrary powers and the Act itself are on the statute books is what should be a cause for grave concern. It is common knowledge that Aippa is designed to deal with and to suppress free speech and to stultify a vibrant and dynamic press. And it is purely academic to try to separate freedom of expression from freedom of the Press. Yes, there are countries such as Zimbabwe, India, Trinidad and Tobago and others in the Commonwealth where there is no specific guarantees of freedom of the Press. By contrast, other countries such as South Africa and Namibia, freedom of the Press is expressly guaranteed in their constitutions. However, the fundamental point to note is that the general provision on freedom of expression encompasses freedom of expression by the Press. The two are indeed intertwined. This is the bottom line. And it is important to remember that until very recently, the Zimbabwe Supreme Court has repeatedly emphasised the importance of freedom of expression and freedom of the Press. It is regrettable that there appears to be a radical departure from this time-worn position. What this means perhaps is that freedom is not something that we should take for granted. Freedom is not a settled existence. It goes back and forth. Democracy is always a work in progress. It is on-going. It would be a fatal mistake for anyone to think that full-blown democracy in Zimbabwe fell from the heavens in 1980 and that we have now to rest on our laurels. We dare say that this kind of thinking has been a perennial problem in post-1980 Zimbabwe. The people of Zimbabwe must disabuse themselves of this warped thinking. A question may well be asked: How did a tradition for an independent press develop in older democracies. Not through government fiats but through the struggle of the people. A free Press was established in England through a process of dissent. The newspapers attacked the government and all the institutions which appeared to threaten the rights and liberties of the citizens. It was in the process of protecting individual liberties that freedom of expression was established as a right. No government conferred that right willingly: it was a prolonged struggle in which each test case advanced the cause. The Press became free only when the full range of individual freedoms and democratic rights were recognised. Freedom of expression was used in the defence of other rights and thus the press became the guardian of civil liberties. This is, of course, not to say that journalists are infallible. No. They can be just as promiscuous as any member of society. What journalists do and write can and frequently does infuriate, but the blunders they make must be dealt with not by criminal penalties which extinguish freedom but by exhortation, persuasion, clarifications and training. And in the final analysis, the courts are there. Freedom must include the freedom to make mistakes. That"s what happens when you have a free Press, a free society. This is the price that we have to pay for the freedom we enjoy. When mistakes are made, the first reaction of the Mahosos and Moyos of this world, should not be to rush to the police. Any journalist worth his salt knows that persons publicly accused or aggrieved must be given the earliest opportunity to respond. This is the rule of thumb. Not to rush to the police who have their plates full dealing with real criminals. All of us have a vested interest in the success of Zimbabwe. This is our only home and heritage. No journalist wants to destroy his own country. When we write and criticise in the process, it is with the intention of wanting to build and not deliberately destroy. As journalists, we are motivated by the need to see a free media landscape in Zimbabwe. We are saddened to see the whole world happily moving in the direction of universal democracy and freedom but Zimbabwe moving backwards. And despite recent setbacks, we shall continue challenging the excesses of government. Perhaps, it is not the winning which is important but the challenge. Pain and a price attains progress. The temptation is to get despondent about what has happened. The point is not to give up but to push and push. In our kind of situation, a journalist who must be free, whose second nature is to dance to a different drummer each time and not march like a Boy Scout, such a person has no choice really but to run great risks. Leading the civil rights cause in the United States and arming his troops with dreams and oratory in the 50s and 60s, Rev Martin Luther King Jr had this to say: "We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right. Now is the time to make real the promise of democracy and transform our pending national elegy into a creative psalm of brotherhood."
Bumpy start for ZAE
By Henry Makiwa
THE newly-formed Zimbabwe Association of Editors (ZAE) got off to a bumpy start after revelations that the organisation failed to foot the bills of at least six Editors from the State-controlled Press who attended its inaugural meeting.
Some Editors who attended the meeting held in Harare a fortnight ago told The Standard that they were yet to be reimbursed the expenses they incurred on accommodation and transport fares from their bases outside Harare. Chronicle Editor Stephen Ndlovu was elected the association"s founding chairman."ZAE really started on a sorry note. Ndlovu promised that all our expenses would be catered for by sponsors he declined to name saying they prefer anonymity,"charged one Editor who attended the meeting. "We were surprised when he later told us that our expenses were the responsibility of our companies.Ó The association is widely seen in media circles as the brainchild of the department of information and publicity, headed by junior Minister Jonathan Moyo, which is seeking to push a Zanu PF agenda in the media. Ndlovu has however dismissed allegations that the government and Moyo are involved in ZAE affairs. He said on Friday: "Your Editors are the ones who are entangled in opposition politics ... we need to put politics aside. Our organisation is poor and has no sponsor. All we want is to engage all Editors and the door is still open for those who still want to join us in this noble cause, said Ndlovu. "But we know that foolish Iden Wetherell the Editor of The Zimbabwe Independent and chairman of the rival Zimbabwe National Editors' Forum (Zinef) encouraged Bornwell Chakaodza (The Standard Editor) and Chiza Ngwira (Parade Editor) to abscond from our meeting. You are all still under the shackles of the white man,"Ndlovu ranted. Wetherell however denied that he had discouraged Zinef members from attending the ZAE meeting. "Zinef took a collective decision. I consulted widely on the appropriate action for us to take towards a meeting whose mission was to take over our organisation,"said Wetherell. Both Chakaodza and Ngwira echoed this position. "Ndlovu is free to dream and halucinate as much as he likes. We cannot stop himÓ, said Chakaodza. Wetherell added: "Ndlovu had already declared that it was their intention to assume the identity of our organisation in an e-mail he sent me, and yet we are a bona-fide registered trust in our own right. "Clearly what they are calling for exceeds the mandate they were given by the Southern African Editors" Forum in South Africa last year. They were simply advised to form their own organisation and then approach us in identifying matters of mutual interest."
Mugabe tightens screws on dissension
By Caiphas Chimhete
APPARENTLY fearful of losing the impending 2005 general elections, President Robert Mugabe and his ruling Zanu PF is fast closing the little that is left of Zimbabwe"s democratic space to ensure his increasingly unpopular regime maintains its stranglehold on power, for at least another five years.
Serious campaigning for next year"s polls has started with the governing Zanu PF party already displaying its determination to "win" the elections against its major adversary, the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), by any means.Mugabe"s iron-fisted regime, which has ruled Zimbabwe since independence from Britain in 1980, has already upped the tempo by undermining all essential mechanisms necessary for the democracy to flourish such as the judiciary, media and civic society. The latest are recent moves in which the State gazetted regulations that will effectively muzzle the telecommunications sector by banning the operation of private international gateways in favour of a government monopoly. Analysts have already predicted "a bloody period"as Mugabe pursues the traditional "scorched earth"policy in his quest to remain in power as the country heads for the explosive 2005 parliamentary polls. "Mugabe will become more ruthless as we head towards the elections. That has been his major tactic ever since,"said Brian Ratfopolous of the Crisis Coalition Zimbabwe. A university lecturer and human rights activist, Raftopolous said Mugabe"s "restructuring"of the High Court and Supreme Court in recent years was testimony of his relentless pursuit to narrow the country"s democratic space. "He has put his own people in strategic judiciary positions meaning that impartiality of our legal system is now questionable,"said Raftopolous. The Zimbabwean leader has, he noted, frustrated many of Zimbabwe"s independent minded and experienced judges, whom he views as anti-Zanu PF. Among the judges that have left the bench were Justice Anthony Gubbay, Justice Fergus Blackie and Justice Nicholas McNally. Mugabe"s government has accused the white judges of serving the interests of the minority because they ruled against the government-orchestrated land redistribution exercise. Only two weeks ago, Administrative Court Judge Michael Majuru, who was handling the highly-politicised stand-off between Associated Newspapers Zimbabwe (ANZ), publishers of The Daily News and The Daily News On Sunday, and the controversial Media and Information Commission (MIC), resigned from the bench from neighbouring South Africa under unclear circumstances. Zimbabwe"s openly partisan police, acting on "orders from aboveÓ, have continually ignored court orders with impunity. Mugabe"s government has also drafted restrictive media laws such as the Access to Information, Protection and Privacy Act (AIPPA) as well as the draconian Public Order and Security Act (POSA), to stifle the small but vibrant private media. The ruling by the Supreme Court on Thursday that sections of AIPPA that were being contested by the private media were constitutional, is a blow to media freedom in the country, say analysts. The Independent Journalists Association of Zimbabwe (IJAZ) had challenged the constitutionality of the Act. "We insist that AIPPA is an unnecessary evil in a country that purports to be a democracy,"said a statement from Misa-Zimbabwe, IJAZ and the Media Monitoring Project of Zimbabwe (MMPZ). Already, several journalists from the independent media have been charged under the notorious AIPPA. To escape the daily scrutiny of his skewed policies, Mugabe"s government is desperately trying to shut down the country"s sole independent daily newspaper, The Daily News. However, Zanu PF"s bid to restrict the flow of information suffered a setback last week when the High Court ruled that the proposed TelOne monopoly on international telecommunications services was unconstitutional. Had the court ruled otherwise, other telecommunications firms such as the private Econet Wireless (Private) Limited would have lost their licences. The scenario would have also enabled the government"s security agents to eavesdrop on all international calls thereby further infringing on people"s democratic rights. As if by coincidence, the heinous regulations were gazetted when junior Minister of Information and Publicity in the Office of the President and Cabinet, Jonathan Moyo Mugabe"s chief propagandist was the acting Minister of Transport and Communication. Zanu PF has also used youths trained under the controversial national service programme to quash any revolt against Mugabe. who turns 80 this month. "The on-going brutality on members of the civil society is an extension of political violence which has been there since 2000,"said Raftopolous. Last week, police brutally assaulted members of the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) including chairperson, Lovemore Madhuku, for participating in peaceful demonstration in Harare.
Sugar loot turns sour for farmers
By our own Staff
CHIREDZI Reaping where you did not sow is not always as sweet as sugar; this is what some so-called new farmers have found.
Newly resettled farmers in the Lowveld, who grabbed land with fully-grown cane from white owners, are now stranded because their dream has turned into a nightmare because they have no transport to deliver the crop to the mills.After successfully chasing the farmers off their land, the new farmers who suddenly found themselves being proud owners of huge tracts of land with an impressive crop of high quality sugar cane, have now been grounded because of an acute transport shortage that is making it impossible for them to sell the cane. Already cane worth millions of dollars has been put to waste because it has remained in the fields, well past the time it was supposed to be delivered to the mill. Agricultural experts say the sugar content in the cane greatly depreciates if the mature crop remains in the field for longer than advised, making it unprofitable for it to be milled. All along the new cane farmers, some of whom benefited from their close relationships with senior Zanu PF officials, had hoped they would get transport from the government. "I was expecting to be assisted to get my cane to the mill but up to now nothing has materialised,"one frustrated farmer said. Another farmer said: "The transport charges are too much so we cannot afford them unless we get financial assistance.
Disease scare as illicit meat traders proliferate
By Langton Nyakwenda
HARARE residents might be eating contaminated meat after it emerged that some of the cheap beef originating from Chitungwiza and neighbouring Seke communal area could be from cows that have died from anthrax and redwater diseases, a Standard investigation has revealed.
Unscrupulous meat dealers in Seke and Chitungwiza are selling the meat, some of it at unbelievably low prices, to butcheries in the sprawling dormitory town and Harare.The Standard learnt this week that several butchery owners in Chitungwiza and Seke rural areas were working in cahoots with the meat dealers. A full carcass can be bought for as low as $200 000 to about $400 000 compared to the average market value of $1,5 million per beast. Investigations by this newspaper found that most of the cattle being sold in the area might be dying of anthrax and red water, a disease that veterinary officers confirmed was prevalent during the rainy season throughout Zimbabwe. Some Chitungwiza residents said restaurants and butcheries at Unit L and Makoni Shopping Centre in Chitungwiza were bursting with the "bad meat"and that some of the dealers were now even delivering the contaminated beef to butcheries in Harare. Langton Kunaka, the headman for Gaura Village in Seke, blamed the Department of Veterinary Services for failing to provide enough drugs to prevent cattle in the rural area from dying en masse. "If we had enough dipping chemicals then these cattle would not be dying and there would be none of these unorthodox deals,"said Kunaka. "We are urging the police to clamp down on these unscrupulous dealers who are exposing our people to a potential health hazard,"said Kunaka, who added that many people were forced to buy the meat because it was cheap. Another headman at Chirimamhunga Village, Clever Musekiwa echoed these sentiments, saying: "Police and health officers should move around checking the meat because some of it is turning black or blue,"said Musekiwa. However, The Standard learnt that some of the police officers were receiving bribes from butchery owners to turn a blind eye to their operations. Although the veterinary services department said there was no direct danger if humans consumed meat from cows infected with red water, it conceded that a health hazard was inevitable if people continued eating meat of cows that die from disease. Welbourne Madzima, deputy director of the department of veterinary services, said that it was very dangerous for humans to consume meat from dead cows without consulting the veterinary authorities. "The cattle might not have died of red water only but a host of other diseases such as anthrax, which can adversely effect human health. Beef from dead cows may be poisoned and contaminated hence the need for a proper diagnosis conducted by a professional veterinary surgeon,"said Madzima. He said if a carcass is not properly bled, bacteria could multiply thereby poisoning the meat. Madzima said his office did not have adequate vaccines to treat the animals and had appealed to government for more.
Gweru council battles to pay off $1,35 billion bank overdraft
By Kumbirai Mafunda
GWERU City Council will dispose of assets worth over $1,2 billion to try and offset a startling bank overdraft amounting to $1,35 billion.
New MDC Executive Mayor Sesel Zvidzai told delegates at his inauguration ceremony held recently that his council had already identified some assets such as land and buildings valued at more than $1,2 billion which the council would dispose of as a way of mitigating the bank overdraft.Zvidzai said because of the huge bank overdraft, the council is paying a total interest of about $350 million per month, which in January rose to $534 million. He said the situation was worsened by an accumulated budget deficit of over $237 million. "A large amount of money is going to the bank as interest charges. The little resources available are therefore being spent on non-core activities at the expense of improving service delivery,"said Zvidzai. He said his council inherited a financially unstable administration from his Zanu PF predecessors which brought about by the prevalent unstable economic conditions and hasn"t been spared the vagaries of the current economic situation. "The rapid price increases due to the ever-rising inflation meant that council"s expenditure for 2003 was way above the budgeted figures. "Foreign currency shortages meant that council was paying very high prices for imported critical inputs such as water treatment chemicals, spares for our plant and equipment as prices were based on parallel market forces,"said Zvidzai. Presently Gweru City Council is facing serious problems that include poor road maintenance, broken down fire and ambulance services and depleted service vehicles and equipment. To liquidate some short-term borrowing, Zvidzai said his council had so far sold commercial, residential and industrial stands to potential developers which raised over $253 million. Last month alone Gweru City Council raised a total of $174 million meant to reduce short-term borrowings through selling various stands. On Go Beer Breweries, the council"s liquor undertaking venture and cash cow, Zvidzai said council would now pay a monthly cash dividend to improve its financial position. The executive mayor said tariffs for the 2004 budget totalling $32 billion would be reviewed quarterly so as to keep track of rampaging inflation estimated at 59 percent and contain price increases. Zvidzai, who trounced Zanu PF"s Tsitsi Muzenda in last August"s mayoral elections, undertook to improve financial management by clearing council"s short-term debt of $100 million, the $1,35 billion bank overdraft and reduce the budget deficit currently standing at $237 million as of December this year. He also pledged to increase water storage and pumping capacity, acquire a truck and tractor for refuse collection and stamp out corruption. Midlands Governor Cephas Msipa, MDC national chairman Isaac Matongo, and the party"s secretary general Welshman Ncube, several MDC members of Parliament and fellow executive mayors attended the installation ceremony.
Another Zimpapers Editor in trouble
By Our Own Staff
PHYLLIS Kachere, the desk editor of Metro magazine, a supplement in the State-controlled weekly, The Sunday Mail, was last week suspended from the paper for one week and demoted after she plagiarised an article from Kenya"s Nation newspaper"s Saturday Magazine.
Kachere, who authors Steaming Off a weekly light hearted column in the paper wrote an article published on January 11 entitled: "Learn the Very Simple Art of Charming Ladies, which extensively copied a story by Kenyan journalist Catherine Awuor of the Saturday Magazine.
Awour"s story appeared in the Kenyan magazine"s issue of December 27 last year.
Kachere"s and Awuor"s work entitled "Help! Can"t get a girlfriend shows that The Sunday Mail"s article is not original and is an exact copy of Awour"s.
In one section, Awuor writes: "I have seen a friend of mine fall for the line, "you look familiar, were we in the same high school; she was in a girls" only school but he got her talking"."
Kachere on the other hand wrote: "I once fell for the line, "you look familiar, were we in the same high school? The guy got me talking and that result got me in a two-year affair.
In another part, Awuor
writes : "Today"s article is for the man whose idea of dinner is Kenchic take
away (a popular Kenyan restaurant)..., Kachere wrote: "Today"s article is for
the man whose idea of dinner is Cresta Mbare (some eating spot in
Awuor continues: "To give details of the evening don"t sms. A text that reads: "W 8 4 me@simas". It just won"t do.. Kachere wrote: "W 8 4 me @ KFC just won"t do.
Last year two other Zimpapers employees Tim Chigodo and Shingai Rukwata Ndoro also got in trouble for fraudulently plagiarising other journalists" work.
Chigodo was forced to quit while Rukwata Ndoro, a freelance journalist who also worked in the newspaper"s circulation department, was transferred. He has since left Zimpapers.
11bn needed for Nust
By our own Staff
BULAWAYO The National University of Science and Technology requires more than $11 billion to resuscitate construction work on key research facilities at the campus that were scheduled to have been completed four years ago.
A visit to the Nust campus by The Standard last week revealed that construction work had been grossly compromised by inadequate government funding with work going on at a snail"s pace.Various construction companies tasked to do the work at Nust have either suspended or withdrawn their services altogether, after government failed to pay them, dashing hopes by university authorities to have research projects underway. Professor Lindela Ndlovu, the university"s Pro-Vice Chancellor, said the institution needed $11,6 billion in order to finish off the construction work.
Trendy crooks invade Harare
By Caiphas Chimhete
THEY usually pounce on their victims in typical Hollywood movie-style fast and furious virtually leaving victims unable to comprehend what has hit them. In most cases, the victims only realise they have been robbed of their valuables well after the thieves have vanished into the crowd.
Some of them dress in expensive T-shirts, jackets and trendy snickers to disguise their intentions.These are the new breed of thieves that have swamped Harare"s central business district (CBD), terrorising and stealing valuables from motorists at parking lots and traffic lights. Many motorists have fallen prey to the marauding youths, who operate in small groups of about five and specifically target valuables such as cellphones, handbags, laptops as well as cash. "One of them pretended as if he wanted to direct me to a parking bay but within a second my handbag, which was on the passenger"s seat, had disappeared. "I saw the guy who had taken my bag already a few metres away but no one came to my rescue,"narrated Tanaka Rukudzo, who lost a cellphone, bank credit cards and $480 000 in cash. Rukudzo said the thieves pounced on her while she was waiting for a friend who had gone into an Internet caf at the intersection of Samora Machel Avenue and Julius Nyerere Way in Harare. Last week, the daring thieves struck again on an unsuspecting motorist around the same area in full view of a Standard crew. The motorist, driving a Toyota Hilux truck, had given way to pedestrians who were crossing Julius Nyerere Way to Karigamombe Centre when one of the thieves started talking to the driver. In the split of a second, the other thief swiftly opened the passenger"s door but there was nothing valuable to steal. He only managed to grab a few notes from the passenger"s seat, before he rushed into a nearby building, with the others in hot pursuit. Surprisingly, the motorist did not seem to notice what had happened. He drove away and several other people who witnessed the drama dared not say a word. "Ndidriver zvake uyo haana kana chinhu (He is just a driver/messenger he does not have anything),"said one of the thieves as he walked away. Well after they had vanished, The Standard spoke to Casper Muhweti, a vendor who sells sweats and bananas around the area."These people are dangerous, I don"t dare alert the victims because they will stab me or chase me from here,"said the vendor, who hails from Chitungwiza. Several people who spoke to this newspaper blamed police"s inactivity over the increasing crime rate in Harare"s central business district (CBD). "At times it all happens in the presence of the police and they just look the other side. They don"t care. Its very rare for them to arrest these criminals,"said a taxi driver, who operates from the corner of Kwame Nkrumah and Samora Machel Avenue.
Chiyangwa wants Herald editors charged with criminal
By our own Staff
OUTSPOKEN Zanu PF Chinhoyi MP, Phillip Chiyangwa, has pressed charges of criminal defamation against The Herald Editor, Pikirayi Deketeke, News Editor Innocent Gore and reporter Tsitsi Matope, over a story that alleged that the MP abused $36 million meant for a public works programme.
His lawyer, Lloyd Mhishi of Dube, Manikai, Hwacha and Partners, yesterday confirmed Chiyangwa, Zanu PF provincial chairman for Mashonaland West, had lodged a complaint with the police at Harare Central Police Station."Yes, he has pressed for defamation charges. My client"s problems have all been precipitated by The Herald"s stories, which are full of lies and innuendoes,"said Mhishi, who added that the case number was 0020753. Mhishi said Chiyangwa has complained several times, in the form of letters, to The Herald about the lies, which started soon after the MP was implicated in the ENG Asset Management scandal. "It has not worked because someone there is out to tarnish his name. How can someone hear rumours in Chinhoyi and then rush to publish them without verification? My client was never charged and can account for the money,"said Mhishi, who added that his client did not belong to any Zanu PF factions as alleged in the media. He said the State newspapers in the country had, for a long time, been acting as if they were "a sub-unit of the police with impunityÓ. Meanwhile, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) on Thursday filed a complaint with the chairperson of the Media and Information Commission (MIC), Tafataona Mahoso, complaining that The Herald lied in its Wednesday issue in a story headlined "UCAZ Faces Possible SplitÓ. The story alleged that the MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai had travelled to Bulawayo together with suspended Harare mayor Elias Mudzuri to influence voting patterns in the Urban Councils Association. The MDC said its leader did not travel to Bulawayo and did not make any attempts to influence voting patterns at UCAZ. "We are persuaded to believe that your organisation is only concerned with monitoring the privately-owned media. We await your swift response to the lies that are published on a weekly basis by the publicly owned media,"said MDC secretary for information and publicity, Paul Themba-Nyathi.
ANZ halts operations
By our own Staff
THE Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ) has officially stopped publishing its flagship Daily News and The Daily News on Sunday until its journalists are registered with the Tafataona Mahoso-led Media and Information Commission, a top company official confirmed yesterday.
The decision to stop printing comes barely three days after the Supreme Court ruled that sections of the Access to Information and Protection to Privacy Act that compelled journalists to be licenced were constitutional. The judgment also outlawed practising journalism without an MIC licence.Brian Mutsau, ANZ"s acting CEO said: "As far as we know we have stopped publishing until our journalists are accredited."
By Stella Mapenzauswa
HARARE, Feb 8 (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's new foreign currency auctions have helped ease a critical shortage of foreign currency, but analysts say the local dollar's steady gains undermine the viability of exports.
Chronic shortages of hard currency over the last five years are among the main causes of an economic crisis widely blamed by critics on President Robert Mugabe's fiscal policies, and has hampered imports of fuel and raw materials for the manufacturing sector.
In a bid to lure foreign currency holders from a thriving black market where, in December, the U.S. dollar fetched to 7,000 to its Zimbabwe equivalent, the central bank introduced a new auction last month were the dollar debuted at 4,196.58 -- well above the official peg of Z$824 to the greenback.
The local dollar, however, has steadily gained at the auctions to 3,573.31 -- well below the 4,000 rate economists say exporters need to break even.
"If the auction rates remain at current levels, exporters will be forced to keep their money offshore," commercial bank NMB warned in a research note.
"Although activity has remained significantly low on the parallel market, activities might be resumed as exporters look for survival strategies," NMB added.
The central bank insists that the auction rate reflects true supply and demand, but economists said the authorities could be deliberately keeping a lid on trading levels to stem inflation -- currently hovering nearly 600 percent but seen peaking at 700 percent by March.
"These exchange levels are...not sustainable, especially given the inflation differentials between Zimbabwe and her major trading partners," said Harare-based economist Witness Chinyama.
"The fair value for the Zimbabwe dollar at the moment is around 4,000 and that is the level at which exporters can be viable," he told Reuters.
Analysts said another reason current levels could not hold was a slump in interest rates to around 100 percent from 600 last month, which might see speculators borrow cheap Zimbabwe dollars to buy U.S. dollars as a hedge against inflation.
"The Reserve Bank should make concerted efforts to avoid the current liquidity surpluses that have depressed short-term interest rates," finance house DCZ said in its February economic review.
"This situation attracts speculative and investor demand for foreign currency."
Mugabe, 80 next month and in power since independence from Britain in 1980, denies charges that he has mismanaged the country and its economy during 23 years of post-independence rule.
He says his opponents have sabotaged the economy over his controversial forcible seizure and redistribution of white-owned farms to landless blacks.