The ZIMBABWE Situation
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Civil service strike paralyses government operations

By Lance Guma
08 February 2010

Government operations came to a halt on Monday as the country's civil
servants went on strike demanding better wages. According to reports there
were only limited services being offered at government hospitals in Harare
while the trial of senior MDC official Roy Bennett had to be postponed with
court staff also on strike.

At Harare Hospital reports say only senior health workers were attending to
patients with junior staff on strike. Teachers, health personnel and other
government workers effectively stopped working last Friday after attending a
rally at the Harare Gardens at which they resolved to down their tools.

Negotiations broke down last week Tuesday after the civil service unions
rejected a 10 percent wage increase effective from April, which had been
offered by government. The government says it has no money to foot the bill
for the kind of increases being demanded by the unions.

The unions however have countered by saying utility bills coming from
government run parastatals are too exorbitant and out of sync with their
salaries. Unions say their members need at least US$630 a month to survive
and yet their employer is only offering increases that will take them to

Civil servants will be horrified to learn that members of the Central
Intelligence Organisation guarding Mugabe on his overseas trip rake in
US$5000 a day in allowances. Reports claim that when Mugabe traveled to
Switzerland last year in October a CIO team of 6 men and 1 woman were paid
the huge allowances to keep him safe. For 10 days in Switzerland they each
accumulated a total of US$50 000 in cash allowances.

A similar trip by Mugabe to Italy saw his security details receive the same
amount of money, while less important members from the 60-strong delegation
each raked in US$2000 per day. The trip to Italy cost taxpayers a total of
US$1,4 million.

A UK Times Online report quoted sources saying large sums of money are still
being extracted from the national budget and placed at Mugabe's disposal.
This it said was being done using all sorts of scams to circumvent Finance
Minister Tendai Biti who has already called for restraint after announcing
that £18m had been spent on foreign travel in 10 months.


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Striking workers lay additional demands

February 8, 2010

By Owen Chikari

MASVINGO - Civil servants, on an indefinite strike since Friday to press for
better salaries and working conditions, have also demanded a reduction in
service charges.

In a statement, the civil servants said in addition to demands for salary
increases, they wanted the embattled coalition government to review
electricity and mobile phone tariffs so they fell in line with regional

The workers want a new tariff regime and all customers' outstanding debts

The statement signed by representatives of the civil servants among them the
Zimbabwe Teachers Association (ZIMTA) Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe
(PTUZ) and the Public Service Association (PSA) said the government should
convene an urgent meeting with APEX to agree on the new tariff regime.

Apex is the premier negotiating organ for the civil servants.

The workers say electricity and mobile phone charges are too high.

"The government should unconditionally direct state enterprises like ZESA
and Telone to cancel outstanding debts of customers and come up with a new
tariff regime which is in line with regional standards," they said.

"We, therefore, resolve that the heads of state enterprises should convene
an urgent meeting with APEX and mutually agree on new tariffs."

Zimbabweans have endured high tariffs which have seen some households
receiving telephone and electricity bills amounting to over $800.

As a result, workers were left without disposable income.

Most of them are earning an average of $150 a month.

The workers have also said the government should end the alleged looting of
diamonds at Chiadzwa in Manicaland. Government and company officials have
been accused of stealing the diamonds.

"Deeply concerned that the country has a lot of natural resources to sustain
this economy, we resolve that there should be an end to the looting of
diamonds at Chiadzwa at the expense of the generality of the people" read
part of the statement.

The civil servants say revenue from the diamonds can be used to improve
their salaries and working conditions.

The civil servants resolved on Friday to go on strike to press for salary
increments commensurate with the country's poverty datum line.

The poverty datum line is between $488 to $550.

In an effort to avert the strike, the government called for urgent
negotiations last week after an initial offer by the state to increase
salaries of all civil servants by $16 was rejected by the workers as

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Diamonds missing after police ‘rob’ Central Bank

By Alex Bell
08 February 2010

Almost 30kgs of diamonds from the controversial Chiadzwa diamond claim have
reportedly disappeared after being removed from the Reserve Bank by police
last week.

The contested diamonds, which form part of the ongoing ownership wrangle of
the Chiadzwa claim, had been moved to the central bank under Supreme Court
orders. It’s understood that Mines Minister Obert Mpofu on Thursday tried to
stop the diamonds being transported to the central bank, by producing a
letter from the registrar of the Supreme Court, Nomonde Mazabane. The letter
detailed that the court order to move the diamonds did not necessarily
include all the diamonds mined from the Chiadzwa claim, and that the order
had been reversed. But Harare’s deputy sheriff, tasked with enforcing the
orders of the court, refused to accept the terms of the letter and the
diamond transfer continued.

According to the South African Press Agency (SAPA), the gems were finally
transferred in three strong boxes and under a heavy police guard to the
Central Bank. But while the stones were being registered, a senior police
official overseeing the process halted procedures and removed the gems. He
reportedly said “there have been new developments,” and that the registrar’s
letter was ‘true’. The whereabouts of the diamonds are still unknown.

The missing diamonds are part of a much larger collection that was mined by
the UK based mining firm Africa Consolidated Resources (ACR) as well as
those mined illegally by the state authorised Mbada mining group. ACR which
holds the legal title to the diamond claim in Chiadzwa was evicted at
gunpoint from the claim in 2006; a move that a High Court judge last year
ruled was illegal. The government has appealed this ruling, and the
transferral of the diamonds to the central bank was ordered as a temporary
measure until the ownership wrangle was completed.

“We don’t know where they (the diamonds) are,” ACR’s lawyer, Jonathan
Samkange told SAPA. “The police robbed the central bank.”
He said the letter from Supreme Court registrar was ‘illegal’ because court
officials cannot give rulings on behalf of judges. He added that “an order
by the Supreme Court is final and cannot be appealed.” Journalist Jan Raath
explained to SW Radio Africa that the letter is suspected to have been a
result of ‘bullying’ from Minister Mpofu. He said such a letter is a
‘travesty of justice’ and unheard of in legal circles, arguing that foul
play is definitely suspected.

The Mines Ministry under Minister Mpofu is supposed to be cleaning up its
act, after it escaped a ban from international diamond trade over human
rights abuses at the Chiadzwa fields. The international trade monitor, the
Kimberley Process, has given Zimbabwe until June to fall in line with
international trade standards. But these standards are still being flouted.

For example, monitors from the Kimberley Process are meant to be in place to
oversee any export of diamonds. But an official from the Minerals Marketing
Corporation of Zimbabwe (MMCZ) made the shock admittance in parliament last
week that diamonds were being airlifted from Chiadzwa to Harare without
police or Kimberley Process supervision. Masimba Chandavengerwa, the MMCZ’s
acting head of marketing told a parliamentary committee on mines and energy:
“At the moment, the airlifting is being done without our knowledge.”

The diamonds meanwhile are also speculated to be at the centre of yet
another wrangle, this time between the warring ZANU PF factions of Joyce
Mujuru and Emmerson Mnangagwa. Just days before the diamonds were
transported to the central bank, ACR’s offices were raided by armed men said
to be in the employ of Mujuru’s husband, Solomon. According to the Zimbabwe
Mail which last week quoted an intelligence source, the Mujuru camp was
‘furious’ over the plans, backed by the Mnangagwa camp, to transfer the
diamonds to the RBZ.

“They fear their rivals are planning to enrich themselves and eventually
dislodge them from the succession contest using the proceeds,” the Zimbabwe
mail reported.

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Zimbabwean mines minister in trouble over diamond mine partners

Feb 8, 2010, 18:36 GMT

Harare - Controversy deepened Monday over the Zimbabwean government's
handling of the Chiadzwa diamond field in the eastern Zimbabwe, with
revelations of serious irregularities by the mines minister and the South
African companies involved.

A parliamentary committee heard Monday of the attempted illegal sale of
300,000 carats of diamonds by officials of a South African- based company
that was supposed to be in partnership with a Zimbabwe state mining company.

Also revealed were allegedly unprocedural appointments by Mines Minister
Obert Mpofu to the board of the joint venture company, and the theft of 27
high-quality diamonds by top executives of a second company also working the
diamond fields in partnership with the state mining company.

Chiadzwa is regarded as the most prolific diamond find of the century, and a
potentially massive boon to the once prosperous country that fell into
economic ruin in the last decade.

MPs were told at a public hearing Monday that Mpofu had chosen two South
African-based companies, Reclam and Core Mining, to go into partnerships
with the state-owned Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation ZMDC. This
company then formed locally registered companies Mbada Diamonds and Canadile

Mpofu was supposed to appoint five members to represent ZMDC on Mbadas
board, said ZMDC chief executive Dominic Mubaiwa, but he chose a Zimbabwean
ex-military officer who is in partnership with Reclam.

Another director was identified as Mpofu's personal assistant in the mines
ministry, and a third has been named in the local press as the wife of
Mpofu's brother.

MPs said their research into Canadiles board members and had turned up the
names of diamond smugglers from the Congo and mercenaries from Sierra Leone.

In early January, Mubaiwa said, he was surprised to see Mhlanga on local
television announcing that 300,000 carats of Mbada diamonds were going to be
auctioned the next day, even though its stones could only be legally sold by
the state minerals marketing body.

MPs said Chiadzwa was being run by bush jungle management and that the
arrangements with Mbada and Canadile would not bring any earnings to the

Said committee chairman Dan Chininga-Chindori: 'The country is starving, the
government has no money, and you are playing around with our assets.'


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Mpofu In Zimbabwe Diamond Scandal

Written by Radio VOP
Monday, 08 February 2010 15:32
Harare - Mines Minister, Obert Mpofu , has been fingered in the controversy
surrounding the whereabouts of diamonds forcibly taken by police officers
from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) last week.
The diamonds, worth millions of dollars, had earlier on been delivered to
the central bank by the deputy sheriff in the presence of officials from
governments Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe (MMCZ), UK company
and the owners of the diamonds, African Consolidated Resources (ACR),
Central Intelligence Organisation Operatives, police officers led by one
Freedom Gumbo. Last month the Supreme Court ruled that 300 000 carats seized
from the London-based ACR in 2006 should be kept at the RBZ for safekeeping.
Highly placed sources told RadioVoP that police officer Gumbo then told all
the people who had witnessed the moving of the diamonds from MMCZ offices in
Msasa to the RBZ that he had received directives from Senior Assistant
Commissioner Silence Pondo - who heads the precious mineral unit to take the
diamonds to an unknown destination. The police officers claimed to have been
sent by Mpofu. ACR lawyer Jonathan Samkange said over the weekend that Mpofu
had ordered the police to remove the diamonds from the RBZ. Samkange said he
did not know where the diamonds had been taken to. "The diamonds must be
kept at the RBZ. I do not know why the government decided to disregard that
order and take our diamonds," said Samkange.
Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku last month ruled that the diamonds should
be held by the RBZ until the mining rights case between ACR and the
government has been resolved. This followed an appeal by the government
against a High Court order by Justice Charles Hungwe. The sources said Mpofu
had earlier on personally attempted to block the movement of the diamonds
from MMCZ offices to RBZ after he produced a letter from the Supreme Court
that allegedly barred the deputy sheriff from transporting the diamonds. But
the deputy sheriff stood his ground telling Mpofu that he was acting on the
basis of Chidyausiku's order. Zimbabwe's diamonds have been mired in
controversy since government took over ACR claims in Marange.

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2 New Chairmen to Head Key Zimbabwe Commissions

Peta Thornycroft | Harare 08 February 2010

Two widely respected Zimbabaweans have been appointed to head up the new
human-rights commission and the electoral commission. The appointment of the
two men has taken many months and hard negotiations and represents a small
breakthrough in the political paralysis that has gripped Zimbabwe.

An important part of the September 2008 political agreement that gave birth
to Zimbabwe's unity government a year ago was a new leader for the electoral
commission and the establishment of a human-rights commission.  The
government now says it has decided on chairmen for the two commissions.

The new chair of the electoral commission is Judge Simpson Mtambanengwe, a
Zimbabwean who joined Namibia's courts 1994.  He became acting chief justice
and was chair of the electoral commission in Windhoek.

George Chiweshe, who chaired the Zimbabwe Election Commission (ZEC) in
recent years, at a press conference in Harare (2008 file photo)
George Chiweshe, who chaired the Zimbabwe Election Commission (ZEC) in
recent years, at a press conference in Harare (2008 file photo)

He replaces President Robert Mugabe's close confidante, Judge George
Chiweshe who presided over disputed elections in recent years, including
2008 when he delayed results of the presidential poll for five weeks.

Movement for Democratic Change Leader Morgan Tsvangirai easily beat Mr.
Mugabe in the first round of the poll, but an orgy of political violence
followed and Mr. Tsvangirai withdrew from the run off.  Negotiations between
the men's parties ultimately led to a political agreement and an inclusive

Professor Reg Austin is the first chairman of the new Human Rights
Commission.  He was legal advisor to nationalist leader Joshua Nkomo at
negotiations in London in 1979 that led to Zimbabwe's independence the next

He was also dean of the University of Zimbabwe law department after
independence and since than has worked for the United Nations on some of the
toughest elections in the world.

Both men were chosen after months of heated and sometimes acrimonious
negotiations between Mr. Mugabe's Zanu PF and Mr. Tsvangirai's MDC.
Zimbabwe human-rights lawyer Derek Matyszak said the appointments represent
some hope in an otherwise politically paralyzed unity government.

To try to unblock the political system, three mediators appointed in
December by South African President Jacob Zuma are due in Harare to meet
with the principals of the three political parties that signed the unity
government agreement in September 2008.

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Civil servants strike forces postponement of Bennett trial

By Tichaona Sibanda
8 February 2010

High Court workers on Monday joined the civil servants strike that started
last week on Friday forcing the postponement of Roy Bennett's trial in

Attorney-General Johannes Tomana, the state's lead prosecutor told
journalists the trial had been deferred indefinitely on account of the
industrial action by government workers.

The civil servants, on an average $160 per month are demanding a pay rise.
Negotiations between government and union leaders ended in deadlock on
Friday after a week of talks.

The MDC Treasurer-General is on trial charged with illegal possession of
arms for 'terrorism, banditry and sabotage.' Since the trial began late last
year, proceedings have yet to sit the full five days of the week much to the
annoyance of Bennett who denies all charges against him, saying they are
politically motivated. The charges carry a maximum death sentence.

The popular former commercial farmer and Chimanimani MP known as 'Pachedu'
in MDC circles is accused by the state of funding a 2006 plot to blow up a
major communication link and assassinate government figures. His arrest and
trial is another source of tension between Robert Mugabe and Morgan
Tsvangirai, who nominated him as Deputy Agriculture Minister last year.
Mugabe has refused to appoint Bennett, saying the courts should clear him

However the state's key witness, Peter Hitschmann, an arms trader who faced
the same charges but was convicted in 2006 on a lesser charge of possessing
dangerous weapons, has denied Bennett was involved in the 'plot.'

On Friday, Judge Chinembiri Bhunu ruled that disputed emails linking Bennett
to a conspiracy to procure arms and to blow up some communications targets
could be used as evidence, despite objections by defence lawyers that the
documents were fake. The court had previously thrown out confessions by
Hitschmann implicating Bennett on the grounds that the statements had been
extracted under torture.


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Deadly storm hits Chiweshe school killing one pupil

By Tichaona Sibanda
8 February 2010

Villagers at Maodzwa in Nzwimbo, Chiweshe district in Mashonaland central
province are slowly picking up the pieces after their lives and homes were
turned upside down on Friday by a ferocious storm that swept through the
area leaving death and destruction in its wake.

At least one pupil from Maodzwa primary school was killed when a grass
thatched building collapsed in the middle of thunderstorms and torrential
rain. MDC MP for Mazowe central, Shepherd Mushonga said the grade 3 pupil
was trapped under debris after 200 students at the school took refuge from
the storm inside the building.

Classrooms at Maodzwa have no roofs after the local community helped raise
funds to build the school, but building work was suspended at roof level
when funds ran out, forcing the authorities to conduct school lessons under
roofless classrooms.

Mushonga said the downpour also destroyed text books and other school
materials that were in the classrooms, and several other houses and
structures in the area were demolished.

"When the storm hit, teachers evacuated all the pupils to a grass thatched
structure for cover but strong winds and rain pummeled the building until it
collapsed. Two boys, who happen to be brothers, were trapped under the
rumble," Mushonga said.

The teachers and other students used their bare hands to dig out the
brothers. The elder brother was freed with minor injuries, but the younger
brother who is still to be identified was pronounced dead at the scene. His
body was taken to Concession hospital for a post mortem. The MP said the
pupil would be buried at Maodzwa village on Tuesday.

'I would also want to take this opportunity to ask well-wishers to donate
$50,000 needed to complete the roofing at the school. The storm that poured
into the roofless classes made them uninhabitable and lessons are currently
being held in the open,' Mushonga said.

The MP said he was worried schooling may be disrupted unless funds were made
available to put up the roofing. He commended the local community for its
support so far in raising funds but was now appealing to donors and well
wishers to respond to school's needs to roof the classrooms.

In the last week alone, fierce storms have lashed other areas leaving a
trail of destruction. Over 700 pupils at two schools in Mhondoro are still
learning in the open after a hailstorm blew off roofs of classroom blocks
and destroyed stationery and furniture worth thousands of dollars last
Saturday. The schools say they need tens of thousands of dollars to repair
the damage.

The Herald reported that the storm destroyed several buildings at Mubaira
Growth Point -- including the police station -- and surrounding villages,
uprooted trees and incapacitated communication and energy infrastructure.

The paper said the storm came barely a month after another hailstorm claimed
two lives in Dotito and displaced 54 families in Muzarabani. Rio Tinto High
and Nyangwene Primary schools were the hardest hit. Roofs of seven classroom
blocks were blown off while teachers' houses were extensively damaged.


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Zim miners trapped for 4 days

Eyewitness News | 3 Hours Ago

Six miners trapped underground in the collapsed shaft of a gold mine in
southern Zimbabwe have spent their fourth day without food or water.

Rescue efforts at the Antenior Mine have been hampered by a lack of
earth-moving equipment.

Rescuers have been working through the weekend to try to free the men.

Bulawayo's Chronicle newspaper reported they were trapped underground at
Antenior Mine near Gwanda at 5am on Friday morning.

In their search for gold, the men started to dig away the pillars supporting
the roof of the mine shaft.

Rescuers said they thought they heard the sound of faint voices coming from
behind several metres of heavy rock-fall. But their efforts were being
hampered by a lack of adequate machinery.

Matabeleland South Police Assistant Commissioner Ernest Muchenjekwa said one
big mining firm is insisting on payment upfront before it lends its

This will not be good news for the trapped men for whom time is clearly
running out.

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Zimbabwe Prison Officers ordered to sing national anthem at 8pm

By Gerald Chateta

Published: February 8, 2010

Harare - Zimbabwe  Prison Service has ordered prison guards to sing the
national anthem before the  start  of the  2000hrs night  duty shifts, and
support President Robert Mugabe by  applying for farming  land despite  the
calls  by  the  inclusive  government  to halt land redistribution until a
comprehensive  land audit is done.

According to a senior prison official stationed at the organization's
national headquarters the directive was given on Thursday to all prisons
through both verbal and printed memos.

Prison guards based  at Harare  Central and Remand  prisons told this
publication that they  were on Friday addressed by their officer-in-charges
instructing them to  sing  the  national anthem when starting their night
shift  duties which  commence at 2000hrs.

The national anthem is always sung in the morning before the start of the
morning duties.

"We were ordered to sing the national anthem before the commencement of a
new working shift including the night shift which begins at 2000hrs.They
said this was because discipline was lacking and the move was aimed at
instilling patriotism among prison officers.

We were also told that officers of the entire shift that fail to comply will
be detained by the internal military police and severely punished," said one
Principal Prison Officer who declined to be named.

"There is nothing wrong in ordering us to sing the national anthem but not
during night shifts. This is meant to victimize some officers because it's
difficult for everyone to gather at 2000hhrs and sing", said another senior

The guards also said they were on the same day told that they should apply
for land adding that anyone who fails to do so will be demonizing President

"They also said the land issue was President Mugabe's initiative which all
patriotic officers should support and ordered everyone to apply for land,"
added the officers

Last Month the prison chief Retired Major General Paradzai Zimondi
circulated a memo encouraging all prison guards to apply for farming land.

Prison officers and  observers view  the development as a way of blocking
the land audit which the government should embark on before  further  land

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Drugs, Bodies Go Bad In Hospital

08/02/2010 11:59:00

Chinhoyi, February 08, 2010 - Chinhoyi Hospital has suspended critical
operations while dozens of bodies are de-composing and drugs going bad due
to erratic power supplies at the health institution, which is the only
referral centre for the entire Mashonaland West province.

"We used to depend to our single generator which is no longer operating,"said
Chinhoyi hospital superintendent Collet Mawire told journalists Dr Mawire.
"If  the power outages persist we are likely to lose tonnes of  medicines
which require refrigeration. We have since stopped surgical operations on
critical patients because of the problem. "

Mawire urged relatives of the deceased to come collect their bodies in time.

ZESA Holdings spokesperson Fullard Gwasira said the erratic power supply at
the hospital could be the result of a technical fault. "Hospitals are always
our priority. It's possible that the hospital might have developed a fault
because of aged networks. It also important to appreciate those electric
faults does happen this wet season."

"The country last week had some  power  outages  because we  were  operating
with two  units with Hwange producing 190  megawats, but  this  is  not to
say  we  switched  off power to our institutions of major  priority,"said

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Mining bosses on diamonds theft charges

February 8, 2010

By Our Correspondent

MUTARE -Police here have arrested two directors of Canadile Miners on
charges of stealing diamonds from the Chiadzwa diamond fields in Marange.

Canadile Miners, a South African firm, is one of the companies
controversially awarded rights by the government to mine diamonds in

Komilan Packirisamy, 37 and a Viyandrakumar, 42 were arrested last week at a
police check point at Hot Springs along the Mutare - Masvingo highway.

They were caught in possession of 57 pieces of diamonds worth US$28 000.
Police discovered that the pieces of diamonds had not been recorded with the
Canadile Miners' register as required by the company.

The directors were arrested following a tip-off by some employees of the
company. Police searched them and found the diamonds hidden in a plastic.

The directors appeared in court on Thursday, and were released after posting
bail of US$2 700 each. They were also ordered to surrender their travelling
documents and to report to Mutare Central Police Station once a week.

Lucy Mungwari presided over the case while Michael Mugabe of the Attorney
General's office prosecuted.

Mutare-based lawyers Misheck Mugadza and Victor Mazengero are representing
the Canadile Miners directors.

The directors were remanded to 23 February.

Canadile Miners together with Mbada Mining (Pvt) LTD were licensed by the
Zimbabwean government to mine the gems amid an uproar from African
Consolidated Resources, a British company which claims to have rights over
the diamonds at Chiadzwa.

The British company has taken the matter to the courts.

The arrest of the two has heightened fears that the gems from Chiadzwa are
not properly secured and can easily be smuggled.

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HOT SEAT: Sanctions: Should they be lifted? Zimbabweans speak

HOT SEAT: Sanctions: Should they be lifted? Zimbabweans speak

BROADCAST: 05 February 2010

VIOLET GONDA: Sanctions: Should they be lifted? In this week’s Hot Seat Programme, I ask a number of Zimbabweans from various walks of life, what they think about this issue. ZANU PF has warned there will be no more GPA concessions until the sanctions imposed by Western countries are removed. Parliament has seen heated discussions on this topic with ZANU PF insisting that the MDC should demand the removal of the restrictive measures. Some say the time has come for sanctions to be removed, but others claim the sanctions are targeted on particular individuals who are guilty of serious human rights abuses and have still not admitted wrong doing. In the next two weeks the European Union will be reviewing their measures, but what are Zimbabweans saying?

Hi, my name is TERESA MUGADZA (political analyst). My thoughts on the sanctions, I think until we start having an honest debate on what we are actually talking about it is premature and I think unfair to either call for the immediate removal of sanctions or the continuance of sanctions. I think one of the key things that needs to happen with the discussion around sanctions, restrictions, whatever you want to call them, is to actually have an honest debate around what it is that has happened -because I think when you listen to the different sides in this debate, what you get is a sense that there are people who are talking about just a travel ban as the sum total of sanctions and that’s all what it is.

I think there’s ample proof now that suggest that beyond the travel ban, beyond the voting rights in the Bretton Woods Institutions what you actually have are economic restrictions against Zimbabwe . And I think to the extent that we have restrictions on trade, either directly through statutes coming from donor countries or otherwise, there is need to begin to think about reviewing the situation on the ground - because I think the starting point for most of these restrictions was that there was no democracy in Zimbabwe, there were no steps being taken to return to democracy in Zimbabwe. And I think what you see now, although at a very slow pace, we have seen I think some positive steps towards the restoration of democracy. But also I think the argument around whether or not you should remove sanctions now or at a later stage when certain fundamentals have been met is the chicken and egg discussion. What should happen first because there is a level at which we need to have some economic activity happening in the country to facilitate some of the democratic processes that we need to have. So I think it’s important to have number one, a very honest discussion what it is we are talking about when you talk about economic restrictions or sanctions as you call them. Number two, I think it’s also important to look at the current situation and also have honest engagement around some of the, I think, positive steps and positive efforts that are happening in the context of the inclusive government. And finally I think it is also important to not of course, totally ignore the situation that led to the economic restrictions or sanctions, whatever you call them, in the first place. So I think it is a multi-layered sort of discussion that we need to have and I think it’s sad, it’s a sad day when you begin to have discussions around ‘we will not have any more discussions until sanctions are removed’, given that in most cases it is not within the power of those that are called upon to push for the removal of sanctions. I think also there have been misconceptions, incorrect perceptions of what certain elements can or cannot do in this, the sanctions saga. So it’s at many levels Violet.

My name is INNOCENT CHOFAMBA SITHOLE. I’m a Zimbabwean journalist based in London , the UK . My view about the sanctions is that first of all we need to be very clear which sanctions we are talking about. We’ve got travel restrictions on key members of the old regime, the old ZANU PF regime, they are barred from travelling to Europe and the United States and there’s an asset freeze on their assets and their financial interest, which may be in these countries. Secondly we’ve got the ZEDERA, the Zimbabwe Economic and Democracy Recovery Act, passed by the US in 2000 and this has a broader effect because it touches on the economic situation in the country. It bars companies in which the US has an interest from doing business with Zimbabwean companies or with the Zimbabwean government. And secondly we also have European sanctions on at least 40 companies and parastatals from Zimbabwe , which are said to be underpinning the old regime of Robert Mugabe.

My view is that with respect to sanctions relating to the country’s economy – those should go. Those sanctions which bar multi lateral financial institutions such as the IMF, the World Bank from doing business with Zimbabwe and other such financial interests outside of Zimbabwe from doing business with Zimbabwean companies or with the Zimbabwean government, those sanctions indeed must be removed in order to enable the economic recovery, the massive economic recovery that is underway in Zimbabwe to proceed to fruition.

The MDC has come into this government and as a result it is no longer purely the old regime that attracted these sanctions in the first place, but this is a transitional government. A transitional government I must say which is made up of a component that is a product of the peoples’ will through the March 2008 elections. And so to give effect to popular expression, those sanctions that have to do with economic performance in Zimbabwe must indeed go. It makes life easier for the generality of Zimbabweans and indeed those sanctions did make life difficult for Zimbabweans. You can imagine Zimbabwean entrepreneurs and companies failing to access international finance and indeed the government itself failing to access a balance of payment support on account of these sanctions and major parastatals like Zisco Steel for example failing to do business with foreign partners on account of those sanctions and I think there’s a strong argument here for those sanctions to go.

Now with respect to sanctions relating to individuals from ZANU PF and the old ZANU PF government; those sanctions were put in place on the basis of the conduct of those individuals and political party - and conduct which undermined democracy in Zimbabwe . And this is evidenced more so by the last election that we had in Zimbabwe , which was the June 2007 Presidential election, in which untold violence was unleashed on innocent people and opposition politicians. Those people responsible for such heinous crimes against the people of Zimbabwe do not deserve to be removed from the sanctions list unless they show that they have reformed. And we look at the policy makers responsible for the state and condition of democracy in Zimbabwe and ask what they have done to reform democratic institutions, to reform the conduct of arms of the State such as the police and informal apparatus such as the youth militia and the war veterans. If those people and their approach to the rule of law and the upholding of it, has not transformed significantly from previous times then they still have to demonstrate that they are embracing inclusivity, they are embracing democracy, they are embracing popular expression, they are embracing freedom - and so those people, unless they demonstrate that reform then they can be removed from the travel list.

We still have people who are yet to be punished for crimes that they unleashed on the people of Zimbabwe throughout all the elections and indeed throughout most of this decade since the emergence of opposition, vibrant opposition politics in Zimbabwe and unless they can convince Zimbabweans that they have changed, that they are no longer a danger, a threat, a risk to the people, then I have no reason to argue why they should be removed from the sanctions list. Thank you.

Yes my name is IBBO MANDAZA. I’m Zimbabwean academic, author and publisher. The debate on sanctions: I’m puzzled really as to why the debate has come as it has. Firstly one would like to know what sanctions have been imposed, against whom and why those persons have been singled out? Secondly what has changed in terms of the reasons for which the sanctions were imposed? Thirdly what has been the import of those sanctions? Has there been side effects (inaudible)...? And lastly I’m not sure that sanctions, as they are called, have been the major factor in terms of the economic decline in Zimbabwe . I would like to think that there are bigger issues than sanctions. You have to look at the totality of factors that have been impinged upon Zimbabwe or underpinned the economic decline and the political malaise that we know today. I’m not sure that sanctions really matter in my view. I think they are quite peripheral in Zimbabwe . Thank you.

My name is OKAY MACHISA and I’m a board member of Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum as well as the national director for Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZIMRIGHTS). Let me start by saying I understand sanctions as a word that has been used to inflict pain to the people of Zimbabwe by ZANU PF. And I understand restrictive measures given to the international community to targeted members of ZANU PF who have been seen to be perpetuating human rights abuses to the masses of the people of Zimbabwe . So I would actually use targeted sanctions or restrictive measures as those punitive measures that were given to targeted members of ZANU PF. And I will use sanctions as a word that has been used to make people of Zimbabwe suffer by ZANU PF. So actually sanctions have been given to Zimbabwean people and restrictive measures have been given to targeted members of ZANU PF. So in other words, we call upon ZANU PF to remove sanctions that they have imposed to the people of Zimbabwe and we have no jurisdiction to call upon the international community to remove targeted sanctions because we feel we are put in a corner by ZANU PF. And I feel that these targeted or restrictive measures that have been given to a few individuals of ZANU PF should maintain to be there and we have no apologies on that because we are suffering in the hands of the ZANU PF party. In the communities we are beaten, in the communities we receive torture, in the communities our women are raped, because of a certain party that would want to cling onto power and therefore equal to this, we would really call upon for those targeted measures to remain until we have peace and tranquillity in Zimbabwe . I thank you.

My name is ALEX MAGAISA I work at the University of Kent in the UK and I regularly write on Zimbabwean issues. I’ve been asked to comment on sanctions in Zimbabwe and my view on sanctions is basically that you have to first of all consider the purpose of the sanctions, which to my understanding has been the issues of human rights violations and governance issues in Zimbabwe, at least that is the view given by those who imposed the sanctions against the individuals and the companies that have been targeted. But you also have to move on and ask about the effectiveness of the sanctions themselves in Zimbabwe . Now this is a question that has never been properly answered either by those who have imposed the sanctions or indeed by those who are supporting the sanctions. It is an issue that I think is important to get a review of what real impact the sanctions have had in Zimbabwe because if the sanctions have not been effective in order to facilitate or to fulfil the purpose for which they were put it may be that they are becoming an unnecessary distraction from the real issues that need to be looked into.

But also you have to consider the fact that Zimbabwe is a country that has changed somewhat from the time that the sanctions were imposed in 2002 or thereabouts - and now that there is the inclusive government, obviously one of the things that needs to be done is to carry out a review and consider whether there is any window of opportunity at this time to get things moving without the destruction of sanctions being blamed for one thing or another when there are more fundamental issues that need to be looked into.

And the other issue that I think is quite important is that for some people, sanctions have been seen as a point of leverage for the erstwhile opposition, I say the erstwhile opposition because the MDC is no longer in opposition as things stand, they are part of the government. And therefore, in the context of the negotiations it has also been said that it is a point of leverage for the MDC in their discussions with their ZANU PF counterparts. But again you have to review this position and ask whether this remains a point of leverage at all or whether it has actually become a burden for the MDC in its attempts to try and negotiate a way forward with their colleagues in government and it looks to me, especially given what has transpired in the past two weeks following the comments made by the British Foreign Secretary Mr David Miliband, which seem to suggest the MDC has somewhat, some power to influence the removal of sanctions - which in a way has given credence or perhaps validity in some ways to the ZANU PF claim that the MDC is responsible for the imposition of the sanctions and have the power to have the sanctions removed. Whereas the MDC has been saying it doesn’t have that power and indeed still insist that it doesn’t have that power. What you now have is a discussion on this collateral issue, the issue of sanctions perhaps you could say an issue that is not necessarily at the heart of what needs to be done and as things stand the relationship between the parties and between the individuals seems to be fundamentally disturbed and people are focussing on an issue, that if you go back to the first point I made about the effectiveness of the sanctions, you then have to ask whether this is something that perhaps needs to be put on the side and people can focus on those issues that really matter.

I think one thing must be made of course, that those who imposed the sanctions have the power to remove them but they also have the power to re-impose the sanctions if they believe that the behaviour is not consistent as far as the purpose of those sanctions is concerned. So to say that sanctions should be removed or suspended whichever word you’d like to use does not connote finality all it means is that there is a recognition that there is a process underway and perhaps you give it a chance and if it doesn’t work those who have the power to impose sanctions can always do so at their will. So for me I think it is important that Zimbabweans do start to concentrate on the governance issues, issues of constitutional reform and various other aspects. If you remove this monkey on the back I think perhaps there will be no hiding place, nobody is going to hide behind this issue of sanctions to block what are necessary reforms in the country.

I’m TONY HAWKINS, Professor of Economics at the Graduate School of Management, University of Zimbabwe . I think that the sanctions should be maintained. I personally believe that this country is not going to emerge fully from its crisis without fresh elections and a change of government. I’m not a supporter of the Government of National Unity, which I think has, as I always predicted, been proven to be a failure because one party or perhaps two parties are unprepared to participate fully. So I think the sooner we get new elections the better and then sanctions will fall away.

As for the impact of sanctions I think they are minimal and I think that their continued existence really plays into the hands of some people in ZANU PF, which sounds a bit of a contradiction from what I was saying earlier, but on the other hand I would argue that in fact any relaxation of sanctions would convince ZANU PF that they are winning and make them even more intransigent than they are already.

I think one should accept that economic recovery and development in this country depends on the full acceptance of the need for a modern democratic society and that means that the measures, the sanctions that have been imposed are a reflection of what is missing. In other words we need a return to conditions that will attract investment, that will foster confidence and so on. The mere existence of sanctions is a reminder that we are deficient in this area and that the deficiency has nothing to do with the rights and wrongs of sanctions but have a lot to do with the failure of the previous government and one of the partners in the existing government to behave according to the norms of modern civilised democratic society.

The name is WELLINGTON CHIBHEBHE, Secretary General of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions. Our position on the so-called sanctions has always been very clear in the sense that from our reading, the so-called sanctions were targeted measures. Targeted at specific individuals and specific companies and/or organisations which had something to do with the violation of human rights in Zimbabwe . Unfortunately for Zimbabweans and fortunately for ZANU PF the issue of the targeted measures has now been reduced to the so-called sanctions in the GPA and ZANU PF is cleverly taking advantage of that drafting of the word sanctions, to now clamour for the removal of the so-called sanctions. But believe you me, the issue of the so-called sanctions is a non-issue because it is linked from our own perspective, it is linked to the violation of human rights and peoples’ freedom and from where we have observed the situation on the ground, nothing has changed so far. So if the so-called sanctions or targeted measures were linked to the violation of human rights and peoples’ freedom we don’t view the hullabaloo that is going on and the noise that is coming from ZANU PF as anything to take note of, it’s much ado about nothing. And therefore we view that they are trying to come up with an aside, an agenda created on the sidelines. Even if you go into the GPA, it is clear that the parties will campaign internationally for the removal of the targeted measures but unfortunately you will find that ZANU PF would want MDC as a party, not as a partner in the GPA, to go internationally campaigning for the removal of the so-called sanctions. It is nothing but a way of trying to buy time and a way of trying to blackmail the MDC by ZANU PF - to use the sanctions issue as a way of refusing to yield to the issues which are in the GPA, which is quite unfortunate and we find that as treachery.

GONDA : So as the labour movement, do you think the targeted measures should be removed?

CHIBHEBHE: Well we have said it loud and clear that it’s a non-event. We don’t know how it’s being talked about and why it’s being talked about. What should be addressed first and foremost is the violation of the human rights and the lack of peoples’ freedoms, that should be addressed first and foremost for us to see that there is change on the ground - because we are given to believe that these so-called sanctions were linked to the violations so non removal of violations will automatically mean that the targeted measures will remain.

Hallo, my name is JENNI WILLIAMS, the National Co-ordinator of Women of Zimbabwe Arise. We are a pressure group putting pressure on Robert Mugabe and his regime and this power sharing deal to create more respect for civil liberties on the ground in Zimbabwe . We want them to implement the power sharing deal and until they implement that deal we feel international sanctions should remain in place as leverage for them to stop putting their sanctions on us in the country. That is why, as WOZA we are continuing to fight for respect for our human rights. We want to be able to demonstrate on the streets peacefully without someone, a police officer coming, sanctioning us with his baton stick, sanctioning us by putting us in jail and that is why we feel that international leverage helps, to pressure Robert Mugabe to remove sanctions on us or else!

This is BISHOP TREVOR MANHANGA, I am the presiding bishop of the Pentecostal Assemblies of Zimbabwe. Regarding the matter of sanctions, I think that they should be unreservedly and immediately lifted for the benefit of people of Zimbabwe . I think the people of Zimbabwe need to be rewarded for everything they have achieved. We have managed to bring a polarised political situation to a situation where the protagonists are now sitting together, working together for the benefit of this nation. Sanctions serve no further purpose and anyone who advocates for the continued imposition of sanctions is against the people of Zimbabwe . The people of Zimbabwe must not be punished any further - they must be rewarded. We must also see from the west a removal of the double standards, which we are seeing. Why is it that there are no sanctions being imposed on Afghanistan, Pakistan – other countries that have had problems, worse problems than Zimbabwe? Is it because Zimbabweans have managed to do something by themselves with a little bit of assistance from their African brothers in the SADC and the AU that the western world wants to continue with these sanctions?

They are now totally unjustified and the continuance of the sanctions on Zimbabwe lends credence to the idea that what is really at stake, it’s not really the new political dispensation but a punishment on the people of Zimbabwe for the land reform programme and until that is reversed, sanctions will not be lifted - because all the political indicators that people advocating for in the past are evident now. People that were fighting each other are working together and there is therefore now no more further need for sanctions to be on this country. This country needs to take off and it cannot do that while these sanctions are continuing and affecting the development of the nation.

My name is GERTRUDE HAMBIRA, I represent the General Agricultural and Plantation Workers Union of Zimbabwe, a union which represents farm workers. I just want to give a short comment about the issue of sanctions. From the grassroots point of view we are not aware of the so-called sanctions that are hurting the people of Zimbabwe. But from our own observations - we are farm labourers who have lost jobs through the land reform programme. So I don’t know if it is the land reform programme which has created these sanctions or not but we have lost our entire livelihood due to the current land reform programme which has resulted in the loss of our jobs, our children being put out of school. So I can’t talk more about sanctions because I’m not aware of these sanctions but what I have heard is that they are so-called targeted sanctions, I don’t know what that means.

Right now we are currently battling with the issues of trying to attend to displaced farm workers who have been affected by the current invasions which are taken place and also the wages for farm workers which still stand at $32 and no-one can be or is able to survive on $32. And I want to say that we are just watching the civil servants - what they are going to get while we are preparing ourselves for the negotiations for our members, which are going to take place on the 19 th of February. So you will be informed of the outcome of these negotiations but if nothing fruitful comes out it means that the workers won’t be happy about it, they are bound to take a very harsh decision.

My name is GIFT PHIRI, I’m a journalist in Harare. Violet, this issue of restrictive measures I genuinely feel they should stay. We understand the Prime Minister has approached the international community at the World Economic Forum in DAVOS to lift the restrictive measures, but honestly I believe he is ill advised. The time has not yet come for the lifting of these measures because really there is nothing we have seen from ZANU PF, nothing that they’ve done to deserve this kind of thing. Sometimes you feel probably stricter measures should be imposed on the hierarchy to force this reform we want to see and to return the country the rule of law. We still see selective application of the law - these arbitrary arrests still happening, just yesterday we had ZINASU the whole executive of ZINASU rounded up for holding a meeting, we’ve got the constitutional meetings being disrupted, you’ve got farm invasions being intensified, you’ve got even ZANU PF arrogantly and contemptuously say they will not make any more concessions within GPA. Nobody wants them to make concessions, all we are asking is that they fully implement the Agreement, fully implement an Agreement they signed up to in September 2008. So really we feel this arrogance, contempt for the whole Global Political Agreement and really to reward them with the lifting of sanctions I think is ill advised at this point in time.

My name is JOHN MAKUMBE, I’m a Professor of Political Science at the University of Zimbabwe, and I’m in Harare. Sanctions should stay in place, sanctions should not be removed, there’s nothing that has changed in Zimbabwe except the fact that the MDC Tsvangirai and MDC Mutambara are now part of what is called the inclusive government. The power sharing itself has not occurred, it has not taken place. Robert Mugabe is reluctant to share any power with Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara and so the sanctions must stay in place. The governors, provincial governors who are supposed to be from MDC Tsvangirai, five of them and one from MDC Mutambara have not been sworn in, they are not in place. The diplomats who were trained, something like six diplomats from the MDC have not been deployed even though they completed their training and a lot of things in the Global Political Agreement have not been done and until they are done the sanctions must stay in place, they must not be lifted at all and even lifting them bit by bit as Morgan Tsvangirai is suggesting is not really wise, it will be very dangerous.

I’m not contradicting myself from my previous appearance on SW Radio Africa, I am actually reinforcing what I said then - which is that I was still optimistic, in other words the sanctions must stay in place in order to make ZANU PF and Robert Mugabe do the right thing. They have to behave themselves.

My name is JOB SIKHALA: I’m leading a formation of the MDC that has dumped Arthur Mutambara after realising that he has been supporting ZANU PF through and through. My view is that and I’ve always been saying it for a long time that there is nothing called sanctions in Zimbabwe because Mugabe has imposed sanctions upon the people of Zimbabwe. Secondly, that the people of Zimbabwe have been under attack from Mugabe’s dictatorship since 1999 up to present and that the people of Zimbabwe have been under his personal sanctions and that the people of Zimbabwe are suffering more from Mugabe than the economic sanctions that are currently in place. If those kind of things called sanctions are in existence they must be there until Mugabe is collapsed. And as long as Mugabe’s alive, those sanctions must continue to be in place because we cannot accept a situation whereby a dictatorship continues to heap sanctions upon his own innocent population and we hope that the international community would kick him into the world of civilised nations. That is basically our view and our position as an organisation, as a party.

We are not interested at all to hear ZANU PF claiming that everything that has caused problems in this country is through the issue of sanctions. Sanctions exist because Mugabe has also imposed sanctions upon the people of Zimbabwe. And we are civilians who do not have the machinery, which Mugabe has and basically the only machinery that we have is the sanctions, which the international community are putting on the dictatorship. That is our position and we are going to stand tall, left, right and centre, everywhere - we are prepared to defend this position.

ELINOR SISULU, writer and human rights activist based in South Africa, I am a Zimbabwean South African. I think that first of all there are no sanctions, there are targeted restrictive measures on certain individuals, those individuals within ZANU PF are still being an obstacle to democracy and I think that if sanctions are removed it would be a very dangerous thing for the ordinary people of Zimbabwe because there would be no pressure on the ZANU PF regime and they can just overturn the GPA overnight. There’s no guarantee that if sanctions are removed they are going to fulfil the other requirements of the GPA. So certainly the targeted restrictions should remain but maybe the restrictions on the economy as a whole should be removed.

There’s been a lot of mystification about sanctions, there’s no way that targeted restrictions on individuals, which prevent individuals from remitting their money abroad or accessing the stolen money from bank accounts in the west. There’s no way that those kind of restrictions could have affected the economy. The other issue was the bar on Zimbabwe’s borrowing which was to do with Zimbabwe not fulfilling its requirements to the IMF. Those can easily be addressed and also the kind of prevention of Zimbabweans having access to credit lines I think that is the main issue that one might argue that has affected the economy. But even then there’s no convincing argument on the whole to say that Zimbabwe is in the state that it is because of sanctions.

Hi I’m ALAN DOYLE. The idea that sanctions should be removed to reward the government of national unity is very, very premature. Even if ZANU had fulfilled its obligations under the Global Political Agreement it could then reverse anything it had done once sanctions had been safely removed in the clear knowledge that they would be unlikely to be replaced again and of course they haven’t fulfilled their obligations. There are a number of outstanding issues, the ministers, the Governor of the Reserve Bank, the Attorney General and just recently in the last couple of days the withdrawal of the Prime Minister’s duties in terms of having Ministers report to him, so there are a number of outstanding items and it’s very, very premature to talk about removing sanctions. It’s surprising really that people have been putting forward this argument haven’t, are having such difficulty learning from history. The last ten years at least have shown that there’s no quid pro quo with ZANU PF, no give and take, there’s only take. And I think that regardless what Tendai Biti or the MDC or the AU or SADC asks, these measures, particularly the measures against individuals have got to be kept in place until any political improvements on the ground are irreversible. Thank you very much.

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Rio Tinto to boost Zimbabwe diamond output

Written by Will Peters
Monday, 08 February 2010 12:57
Diversified miner says diamond output from their Murowa mine in Zimbabwe
could be boosted 7 fold. Rio Tinto apparently unfazed by woes besetting ACR
on their Marange claim.

Rio Tinto (LON:RIO) is set to invest some US$200 million into their
Zimbabwean diamond operations.

Rio Tinto made the announcement after saying they will seek to boost
production by 7 fold.

Speaking at a mining conference in South Africa, Rio Tinto diamonds and
minerals chief executive officer (CEO), Harry Kenyon-Slaney, pledged his
support for the project and said the company would continue to support the
Zimbabwe operation.

"It's a diamond operation that we discovered and one that has good quality
diamonds," Kenyon-Slaney said.

Murowa's production fell 53 percent to 97,000 carats in 2009, according to a
recent Rio Tinto report.

The group holds a 78 percent stake in the operation.

The Rio Tinto boss said the resource at Murowa provided capacity to increase
production by up to seven times.

"We are encouraged by the progress made by the inclusive government over the
last year and the improvement in the socioeconomic environment of the
country," Kenyon-Slaney said.

The group is expanding operations at the mine in an exercise expected to
cost about US$200 million.

The Rio boss also commended the progress made by the country's coalition
government in improving the operating environment for investors.

Diamonds are currently a hot topic in Zimbabwe, however much of the focus
has recently been falling on the Marage diamond fields located in the
eastern province of Manicaland.

African Consolidated Resources (LON:AFCR), the London listed company that
discovered diamonds in the area, has been fighting a protracted battle with
the government in the countries courts after being thrown off the claim in

The Kimberley Process is also yet to back diamonds coming out of the area
until humanitarian concerns are dealt with.

Diamond resources at Murowa were discovered in 1997 and the mine, which now
employs 325 people, was commissioned in 2004.

Rio Tinto has to date operated unhindered on the claim.

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Further Twists in the Fate of the Marange Diamonds

(February 8, '10, 8:34 Edahn Golan)

The fate of a large stock of diamonds is shrouded in mystery, as a Zimbabwe
minister defied a court order late last week and confiscated rough diamonds
that later disappeared and still remain missing as of press time. Some may
argue that any twist and turn is possible in the corrupt and mismanaged
African country. However, the story of these diamonds has continued to
surprise many as the subject of constant media and diamond-industry

Mined in Zimbabwe's Marange area by African Consolidated Resources (ACR),
the rough diamonds immediately captured the government's attention, which
expelled the British firm from operating the fields in 2006.

The situation continued to deteriorate, with local villagers descending on
the vacant field and mining the diamonds with improvised tools, joined by
migrant workers from neighboring countries.

The government forcefully kicked out ACR because it wanted the diamonds for
itself. In a further step to take control of the goods, army and police
units attacked the diggers, killing an estimated 200 people in the process
in 2008.

While the international community decried the violence and continues to
demand that controls are set for Marange diamonds, ACR kept fighting for its
claim, recently wining a court ruling that deemed the firm the legal claim
holder of the mining area.

About two weeks ago, Zimbabwe's Supreme Court ordered the goods ACR held -
estimated at 150,000-300,000 carats - to be deposited at the Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe, so neither ACR nor the government may possess the diamonds while
the court is still deliberating the case.

What has followed is nothing short of a John Ford Western. A few nights
before the goods were to be transported, a group of men brandishing AK-47
assault rifles stormed ACR's office, robbing it of equipment but failing to
steal the diamonds.

The goods were scheduled to be transferred to the bank's safe in a secret
operation last Thursday. Defying the court and the right to due process, the
Minister of Mines Obert Mpofu commanded police to take hold of the goods as
ACR and the bank were recording details of the diamonds, which were held in
three strong boxes.

Usually in the movies, the goods and the robbers disappear into the
darkness, which is what happened here. The Zimbabwe newspapers were quick to
report Sunday night that the diamonds have disappeared. Again, usually in
the movies, after a setback, the climax takes place and the Good Guys,
typically by force, restore justice. No one wants to see further violence in
Zimbabwe, but is this the path these goods will take? Time will tell.

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Unity govt must make Zimbabwe a respectable democracy

Mon Feb 8, 2010 12:08pm GMT

* Unity government can't agree on power-sharing, reforms

* Government has halted economic collapse

* Coalition's big problem is agreeing political reforms

By Cris Chinaka

HARARE, Feb 8 (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's power-sharing government counts a more
stable economy, reform plans and its mere survival as the achievements of
its first year in office, but the real test lies in making the nation a
respectable democracy.

A political marriage of President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan
Tsvangirai is mired in trouble, with tensions simmering over how to share
executive power and the pace of democratic reforms.

The bitter rivals, who formed a unity administration in February last year
to end a long political crisis, have yet to implement political reforms
which would clear the way for free and fair elections.

"The very survival of this government is a major achievement on their part
because some people never gave them a chance," said Eldred Masunungure, a
political science professor at the University of Zimbabwe in Harare.

Another success of the coalition has been halting Zimbabwe's economic
collapse -- gross domestic product had shrunk over 40 percent in 10 years -- 
although this has not been followed by a huge revival as initially expected.

"But the (unity) government's biggest challenge is going to be over reforms
because that is the major element which will determine whether Zimbabwe
becomes a respectable democracy, and who wins and loses power," Masunungure
told Reuters.

"The fight in the government will be over reforms," he said.

Critics say hardliners in Mugabe's ZANU-PF party -- in power since
Zimbabwe's independence from Britain in 1980 -- has been stalling democratic
change for a year, including disrupting a constitutional reform process that
would lead to new elections.

It took ZANU-PF and Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) 10
months to agree on commissions to drive media, electoral and human rights
reforms, but they still have to get off the ground and would have to fight
for funding from a bankrupt government.


Analysts say Mugabe's key supporters fear that an MDC government supported
by Western powers would seek to prosecute them for human rights abuses, and
may reverse their seizures of white-owned commercial farms for blacks.

"It looks like Mugabe's strategy is to hold onto as much power as he can by
dragging out the process over outstanding issues for as long as possible,"
said John Makumbe, a Mugabe critic and veteran Zimbabwean political

"But again, he is damaging the economy, and Zimbabwe's chances of recovering
from his disastrous policies," he said.

Mugabe and Tsvangirai are still haggling over appointments of provincial
governors and Mugabe's refusal to swear in as deputy agriculture minister
Roy Bennett, a senior Tsvangirai ally who is facing terrorism charges.

Mugabe has also refused to sack two of his own ZANU-PF allies he appointed
as head of the central bank and attorney-general without consulting

In October, Tsvangirai announced the MDC was "disengaging" from the unity
government over disputes but rejoined three weeks later after the Southern
African Development Community mediated.

The MDC has also accused ZANU-PF, which it calls an "arrogant and unreliable
partner", of persecuting its officials and delaying media and constitutional
reforms needed for free and fair elections to be held in about two years'

For his part, Mugabe says the MDC needs to campaign for the lifting of
Western sanctions against his party, including travel restrictions and a
freeze on general financial aid to Zimbabwe.

ZANU-PF also says the MDC must end a propaganda campaign by its supporters
abroad, and should ask its Western backers to shut down what it calls
"pirate radio stations" broadcasting to Zimbabwe from Britain and the United

Major Western donors say they will not be coming forward with about $10
billion that Zimbabwe says it needs for economic reconstruction until they
see irreversible democratic reforms.

The unity government has stabilised the economy, and replaced a worthless
Zimbabwe dollar with foreign currencies to bring down inflation dramatically
from 231 million percent in June 2008.

But many Zimbabweans want to see more. Government workers, including
teachers and nurses, are on strike for higher wages.

The government, which is the largest employer in an economy where more than
80 percent of the workforce is jobless, pays its staff an average $150 per
month and says it cannot afford the minimum $600 demanded by its workers.

"If you think the unity government had problems in its first year, this year
is going to be tougher because many people think the government can do
better than it is doing," Masunungure said.

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Is Mugabe preparing a coup?

Paul Trewhela
08 February 2010

Paul Trewhela notes the ominous implications of a report in The Zimbabwean

Last week's issue of The Zimbabwean, which is edited from Britain, leads
with a report on the possible exchange of Chinese weapons for illegally
mined diamonds in Zimbabwe (see below).

If the information in this report is proved correct, it would indicate that
the Mugabe regime is preparing a bloody coup to preserve itself in office,
in defiance of its loss of the general election last year, its subsequent
power-sharing deal with the Movement for Democratic Change, the Kimberley
Process which regulates the global gem trade and a ruling of the High Court
in Harare.

The report suggests that the Mugabe regime - believed to have been
responsible for the deaths of hundreds of independent miners when it sent
the army to seize the diamond fields at Chiadzwa in November 2008 - intends
to exchange "blood diamonds" for weapons from China . The report indicates
that a runway suitable for this kind of traffic has already been constructed
in the diamond fields and is almost ready for use.

If the report is proved correct, it would indicate a qualitative escalation
of Chinese intervention in Africa .

Armament of a resurgent Mugabe dictatorship by China , in defiance of the
power-sharing agreement, would represent the initiation of a new Cold War in
Africa , at a time when the United States and Britain are tied down in
Afghanistan and Iraq , and handicapped by a massive sovereign debt crisis.

Such a development would have immediate and immensely grave implications for
South Africa , and would represent a military-political destabilisation of
the entire region.

Construction of a mile-long runway at Chiadzwa would further present a
direct challenge to COSATU, which organised a boycott by dockers in South
Africa three years ago of Chinese arms shipments to Mugabe. - Paul Trewhela

HARARE - A mile-long runway capable of accommodating massive, longrange
cargo jets is being built in the Chiadzwa diamond fields in Zimbabwe,
according to a British newspaper, The Daily Telegraph.

Aerial pictures published in the newspaper show that construction work is
well under way, with a newly built control tower apparently complete and the
runway nearly ready for surfacing. The images also show what appears to be a
tented army camp in the diamond fields, which would be in violation of
Zimbabwean court orders and of an undertaking to the Kimberley Process,
which was set up to prevent "blood diamonds" from conflict zones entering
the global gem trade.

The paper quoted diplomats and analysts saying the runway was probably
intended for arms shipments, probably from China , for which troops loyal to
President Robert Mugabe would pay on the spot with diamonds. There are other
airfields within a short distance of the mining area, and no obvious need
for a runway long enough for transport planes to take off and land even
closer to the mines. A Western diplomat said the existence of the runway,
out of sight except from the air, was "extremely" worrying.

One of the mining companies involved in the development says that it is
building the runway in order to comply with Kimberley Process rules that
diamonds be transported in the most secure way possible, and that a private
contractor is responsible for security. The Daily Telegraph article gave no
explanation as to why such a long runway was needed.

According to human rights groups, hundreds of independent miners were killed
when soldiers seized control of the Chiadzwa area in November 2008, since.
Since then others have been compelled to work for only a fraction of the
value of the diamonds they unearth. Officers use the proceeds from their
sale to enhance their meagre pay - a ploy encouraged by Mugabe's henchmen to
help ensure the army's continued loyalty.

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 particular weapons.

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."

China has long been Zimbabwe 's main source of arms, but delivery has been
more difficult since a shipment was blocked in South Africa three years ago.
Other deliveries have come in through Beira in Mozambique , but government
officials in Maputo , have expressed concern over the issue.

The army has also been frustrated in its attempts to buy weapons by finance
minister, Tendai Biti, a member of the MDC, who has blocked new arms
purchases since taking control of the treasury under last year's
power-sharing deal.

The new facility would give the Joint Operations Command, the military top
brass who long swore they would never recognise Tsvangirai's authority, a
way to obtain weapons independently.

A Western diplomat claimed the head of the armed forces, Constantine
Chiwenga, had been "very busy" with the Chinese recently, adding: "We are
concerned he is buying weapons."

A senior political source, who has seen the pictures, said: "Zanu (PF)
believes these diamond fields will allow it to continue to defy outstanding
issues of the political agreement.

"It only went into the inclusive government because it lost the elections
but it has no intention of fulfilling the political agreement, and wants to
go it alone. It needs an income to ensure loyalty among soldiers and other
security forces."

The diamond fields could be worth billions of pounds and make a vital
contribution to rebuilding a country brought to ruin by Mugabe's economic

Tens of millions of pounds worth of gems are smuggled into nearby Mozambique
each month, mostly with the connivance of the army and police, to be bought
by dealers from Lebanon , Belgium , Iraq , Mauritania and the Balkans.

The mines, whose rough diamonds have a characteristic and unappealing grey
appearance, cover an area of 10 square miles. A British company, African
Consolidated Resources (ACR), has a legal claim to them under a deal struck
originally with the Zimbabwean government, but in 2006 the Mugabe regime
went back on the agreement and declared the mines open to all comers.

Defence minister, Emmerson Mnangagwa, denied any knowledge of the runway
under construction in the area. "Ask the mining ministry or home affairs,
they might know about it", he said.

The mining minister, Obert Mpofu, also a member of Mugabe's party, said he
was on holiday and therefore could not comment.

The government insists the army has withdrawn from the mining concession
area and the mines are now being run by the Zimbabwe Mining Development
Corporation (ZMDC), ignoring a high court order granting that right to ACR.

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Get still more serious

The African Union mercifully fended off Libya's leader, but it must do more
if it wants to be listened to

Feb 4th 2010 | From The Economist print edition

IF THE African Union (AU) had allowed Muammar Qaddafi, Libya's clown of a
leader, to chair the continental body for another year, as he apparently
desired, the rest of the world would rightly have consigned it to the
dustbin of comic diplomacy. Mr Qaddafi, now the world's longest-ruling
dictator, with 41 years under his cartridge belt, has been re-embraced by
some in the West as a reward for dropping his nuclear ambitions and because
of his vast oil wealth. But for all his grandiose pretensions, he is a
buffoon-and a particularly nasty one. He has killed and still imprisons
compatriots who want reform. Abroad he bolsters vile leaders, such as
Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe. In short, he is just the sort of leader the AU,
which rose out of the ashes of the incorrigibly vapid Organisation of
African Unity (OAU) in 2002, should no longer tolerate.
A vote for the AU

The AU has done distinctly better than the OAU. It has more or less stuck to
its charter forbidding countries whose leaders take power in military coups
from becoming members, though it cannot eject those who have been in charge
since before 2002, as too many of them, including Mr Qaddafi, would have to
be blackballed. Unlike its predecessor, the AU has reversed several coups,
mostly in small places such as the Comoro islands, Togo, and São Tomé and
Príncipe. In 2003 its peacekeepers helped calm Burundi. Since then, within
the limits of cash and training, they have persevered in Sudan and Somalia.
More recently the AU has made heavier weather of keeping democracy alive in
Mauritania (briefly suspended from the AU club), Guinea (see article) and
Madagascar (both still suspended). But it has been trying to grow a

Despite grave setbacks-for instance, in Congo, Kenya, Nigeria and
Zimbabwe-Africa as a whole has become a lot more democratic. In 1991 Benin's
ruler, Mathieu Kérékou, became mainland Africa's first leader to let himself
be ousted peacefully at the ballot box. Since then at least nine have
followed suit and a dozen-plus have retired because of term limits. In a
club of 53 members, that is not a brilliant score but incomparably better,
for example, than that of the 22-country Arab League.

Yet there is still a woeful reluctance in Africa to chastise, ostracise or
help to oust villainous leaders, such as Mr Mugabe or Sudan's Omar
al-Bashir, who has been indicted as a war criminal at The Hague; indeed, too
many African leaders have rejected that court altogether. The AU has
sensibly delegated some of its trickiest problems to regional outfits, such
as the Southern African Development Community, which is handling Zimbabwe.
But its failures go back to Africa's age-old problem: too many of its
leaders, out of a misplaced sense of post-colonial solidarity, are loth to
criticise their peers, however vicious. The AU's "new partnership for Africa's
development", known as NEPAD, includes a "peer review mechanism" that was
supposed to provide a candid account, country by country, of progress on a
range of issues, including democracy. But it has become wishy-washy-again
because too many African governments shy away from embarrassing each other.

It is understandable that an outfit that includes a lot of non-democrats
seeks to protect its own. But if Africa wants to be taken seriously in the
forums of the world it must steel itself to be more rigorous in keeping up
its proclaimed standards at home. The AU should never contemplate having
people such as Mr Qaddafi-or, for that matter, Mr Bashir-in its chair.

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