jan19_2009.html The Zimbabwe Situation The ZIMBABWE Situation
An extensive and up-to-date website containing news, views and links related to ZIMBABWE - a country in crisis
Return to INDEX page
Please note: You need to have 'Active content' enabled in your IE browser in order to see the index of articles on this webpage

Mugabe in unity talks threat


By Richard Lapper in Johannesburg and Tom Mitchell in Hong Kong

Published: January 18 2009 19:05 | Last updated: January 18 2009 19:05

Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe's president, said on Sunday that talks about a
government of national unity would end on Monday if the opposition failed to
accept terms.

He said the governing Zanu-PF party was not prepared to make any more

Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change,
adopted an equally uncompromising stance saying his party would "not be
bulldozed into an agreement that does not reflect the will of the people".
Mr Tsvangirai, who returned to the country on Saturday after a two-month
absence, has refused to sign off on the unity deal because Mr Mugabe refuses
to concede control of key ministries, including home affairs, which has
responsibility for the police. The opposition leader withdrew from elections
in June after violence against his supporters. His party won a first round
of the contest in March.

Monday's talks - being mediated by South African and regional leaders - will
take place against a background of deepening economic and humanitarian
crisis, with hunger widespread and more than 2,000 people dead from cholera.

Separately, the Hong Kong police face a diplomatic quandary after Mr Mugabe's
wife allegedly assaulted a British photographer during a visit to the
territory. Grace Mugabe allegedly ordered one of her bodyguards to restrain
Richard Jones, a Hong Kong-based photographer on assignment for the Sunday
Times of London and then punched him repeatedly in the face. The alleged
incident occurred last Thursday near the Kowloon Shangri-La hotel, where Mrs
Mugabe and her delegation were staying. Mr Jones and Sunday Times
correspondents were working on a story about the Mugabe family's lavish
international lifestyle.

The photographer,, whose face bore the marks of the alleged assault at the
weekend, confirmed on Sunday that he had reported the matter to police. "I
was chased and apprehended [by Mrs Mugabe's bodyguard]" he said. Mr Jones
said his refusal to give up his camera enraged the president's wife. "She
was really lining [her punches] up. She was furious mad."

Hong Kong police said they were investigating an assault on a 42-year-old
man by a woman, without confirming their identities. It was unclear if Mrs
Mugabe was travelling on a diplomatic passport, which would give her
immunity from prosecution.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zimbabwe opposition says powersharing 'political suicide'


Africa News
Jan 18, 2009, 13:37 GMT

Harare - Zimbabwe's opposition said Sunday it will not 'commit political
suicide' by entering into a government with President Robert Mugabe without
the power to deliver change.

Speaking at a national executive meeting of the Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) ahead of talks on forming a government of national unity, MDC
spokesperson Nelson Chamisa said: 'We cannot go into positions of authority
without the attendant and consequent power to enable us to deliver on
change, food and jobs.'

'It is an act of political hara-kiri, political suicide and we are not ready
to commit suicide yet. We cannot commit political suicide by entering into a
government limping and in pain,' he said.

'We are going to insist on the outstanding issues which are to do with
equity of ministries, making sure that we attain the position of governors
in line with the March 29 election and therefore we are going to insist and
stick to our position and we hope Mr Mugabe and (his party) Zanu-PF will
appreciate the nobility of our very vital position,' Chamisa said.

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe had earlier set a Monday meeting with the
opposition - a meeting in which regional leaders from neighbouring countries
are expected to attend as observers - as the last chance to present concerns
before a government is formed, with or without the opposition.

'This is the occasion when it's either they accept or it's a break,' said
Mugabe, quoted in the state-owned Sunday Mail. 'After all, this is an
interim agreement. If (the opposition) have any issues they deem
outstanding, they can raise them after they come into the inclusive

In response to Mugabe's stance, Chamisa said: 'Mugabe is a failure and
cannot dictate pace. If they choose to terminate the talks by their
arrogance let it be, we will not give Mugabe latitude to be funny.'

Mugabe and MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai signed a power sharing deal in
September, that would keep Mugabe as Zimbabwe's president, with Tsvangirai
becoming prime minister.

A national unity government however has not be formed, with Tsvangirai
previously threatening to pull out of the power-sharing deal, saying that
Mugabe's party was unfairly trying to hold onto the majority of the
most-powerful ministries, despite the MDC's wins in last year's elections.

The MDC won a majority of legislative seats in elections last year.
Tsvangirai won the most votes in a presidential election last year, but not
an outright majority. He pulled out of a run-off election, citing unfair and
violent tactics by the Zanu-PF.

Tsvangirai has also cited recent abductions and jailings of MDC members as
reasons to be wary of any power-sharing deal with the Zanu-PF. He blames the
abductions on supporters of Mugabe and said at least 11 members of his party
are still missing while 32 are in police custody facing charges of toppling

But, upon returning to Zimbabwe on Saturday, he said he was committed to a
power-sharing deal with Mugabe. However, he vowed not to be rushed into
joining an inclusive government.

'I am very conscious of the plight of the people of this country and I hope
that the meetings that are going to take place may actually find a lasting
solution to the crisis,' he said Saturday. 'I must emphasize that the MDC
will not be bulldozed into an agreement which does not reflect the
aspirations of the people.'

The once-prosperous nation is facing its worst-ever economic and
humanitarian crisis. Acute shortages of all essentials have pushed inflation
to the highest levels in the world - officially at 231 percent as of last

The United Nations says more than 5 million face starvation if there is no
food aid. Additionally, a cholera outbreak has claimed more than 2,200 lives
as the country fails to import adequate stocks of water-treatment chemicals.

The raging epidemic coincides with a strike, now in its fourth month, by
doctors and nurses demanding a review of their salaries. They are demanding
that hospitals replace archaic equipment and that medicines be available in

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

A dilemma for Zimbabwe opposition leader


The Associated PressPublished: January 18, 2009

HARARE, Zimbabwe: The main opposition leader of Zimbabwe has returned home
to face a dilemma: be a junior partner in a lopsided government of national
unity or let President Robert Mugabe regain total control.

Morgan Tsvangirai of the Movement for Democratic Change insisted Saturday
that he would not be bulldozed into agreement at a meeting Monday with
Mugabe, the presidents of South Africa and Mozambique, and Thabo Mbeki, the
former South African president who is acting as a regional mediator.

On Sunday, the state-run Daily Mail quoted Mugabe as saying that he would
make no further concessions.

There is acute concern that the longstanding political deadlock is
exacerbating Zimbabwe's economic meltdown. In a rare visit, the head of the
UN children's agency said 2,200 deaths from cholera were just a small
example of the humanitarian crisis.

"The cholera outbreak is the tip of the iceberg," said Ann Veneman,
executive director of Unicef. "Over half the population is receiving food
aid, health centers have closed and when the school term starts there is no
guarantee that there will be enough teachers."

Tsvangirai flew into Harare on Saturday after two months abroad, much of it
in neighboring Botswana. He was supposed to hold talks with his party on
whether it should pull out of the power-sharing agreement that was reached
in September but never implemented.

Despite the accord, Mugabe's party has grabbed nearly all the key
ministries, appointed provincial leaders and reappointed the Central Bank
governor blamed for the country's dizzying inflation, officially put at 231
million percent. The Reserve Bank on Friday introduced a bank note for 10
trillion Zimbabwean dollars, which is worth about $8 on the black market.

"I will not be bulldozed into joining this government, which does not
reflect the interests of the people," Tsvangirai said. "I'm not going to
betray them."

But he stressed that he was still committed to the power-sharing agreement.

Tsvangirai won the first round of presidential elections last March but
pulled out of the runoff election because of violence against his
supporters. Under the power-sharing accord, he would be prime minister,
Mugabe the president.

The current allocation of cabinet seats gives Mugabe's party control of
nearly all the major ministries. The Movement for Democratic Change is
holding out for the Home Affairs Ministry, saying it is the only way to rein
in the police, who are accused of beating and abducting opposition

Tsvangirai has rejected proposals by southern African mediators to split the
Home Affairs Ministry.

Veneman met with Mugabe on Friday to discuss the growing humanitarian
crisis. She said Saturday in Johannesburg that the 84-year-old ruler
recognized the crisis but blamed international donors for turning their
backs on Zimbabwe.

Veneman was the first head of a UN agency to visit the country in three
years. Mugabe recently denied visas to the former U.S. president Jimmy
Carter, the former UN chief Kofi Annan and Graca Machel, the wife of Nelson

"It is significant that they agreed to let me into the country when many
others haven't been allowed," Veneman said.

She also said that Mugabe "is acknowledging there is a problem. He
recognizes cholera is a problem and there is a problem with the water and
sewage system."

She said the United Nations would donate $5 million to help pay the salaries
of health workers, who are trying to cope with the cholera epidemic. There
are fears that the official figure could be greatly underestimating the
cholera toll because the deaths of many babies and young children might not
be recorded.

Veneman voiced fears that there could be a big upsurge in malaria cases as
the rainy season continues, because the authorities have not had any
insecticide with which to spray for mosquitoes.

Many teachers in Zimbabwe say they can no longer afford to work because the
costs of transport are higher than their salaries. And more than five
million people are likely to be dependent on food aid because of a series of
disastrous harvests.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Tell us about the adbuctions, Mugabe told


Sunday, 18 January 2009 18:39

Zimbabwe's main opposition Sunday said that all of its complaints against
President Robert Mugabe, including the abductions of its members, must be
resolved before it will join a unity government.
The leadership of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) met to hammer out
it stance ahead of new power-sharing talks with Mugabe on Monday, mediated
by key regional leaders including South African President Kgalema Motlanthe.

"The position that has been reiterated is that all outstanding issues should
be resolved before an inclusive government comes into place," MDC spokesman
Nelson Chamisa told AFP.

"The leadership has been given the mandate to finalise the talks tomorrow
either in success or in failure, so that there is finality to this very
protracted phase of negotiations," he said.

In addition to disputes about who will appointed cabinet ministers and
provincial governors, the party also wants Mugabe to address claims that
dozens of opposition members and rights activists have been abducted and
torture at secret camps by security forces.

"We need to resolve the issue of governors, ministers and the abductions
before we start talking about a unity government," Chamisa said. "We will
not allow ourselves to be treated like losers or second class."

MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai signed a unity accord with Mugabe more than
four months ago, but has yet to agree on how to divide power in a new
government with the long-ruling ZANU-PF party.

Motlanthe, along with Mozambican President Armando Guebbuza and mediator
Thabo Mbeki, are expected in Harare on Monday to lead the fresh round of

Repeated interventions by African leaders have so far failed to find a
compromise, and Mugabe has threatened to break off the talks if no agreement
is found Monday.

Amid the political stalemate, Zimbabwe has tumbled ever deeper into crisis
with sky-high inflation, crippling food shortages, and an unchecked cholera

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Robert Mugabe rules out concessions


President Robert Mugabe has ruled out concessions in power-sharing talks,
saying Zimbabwe's opposition has one last chance to join a national unity

Last Updated: 5:18PM GMT 18 Jan 2009

Mugabe and Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai will meet
for talks aimed at implementing a power-sharing agreement signed in
September but stalled by disagreements over Cabinet posts.

"This is the occasion when it's either, they accept, or it's a break," said
Mr Mugabe. "If they have any issues they deem outstanding, they can raise
them after they come into the inclusive government.

"We have gone past negotiations and whatever concessions were there to be
made have already been made.

"We have done all that Southern African Development Community expected us to
do and all that remains is fulfilling the agreement by forming an inclusive
government," he said in Zimbabwe's Sunday Mail.

Under the power-sharing accord, 84-year-old Mugabe would remain president,
Tsvangirai would become prime minister and nearly all major Cabinet
ministries would go to Mugabe's party.

But the Movement for Democratic Change has insisted on controlling the Home
Affairs Ministry in charge of police, which are accused of some of
Zimbabwe's worst violence and a wave of abductions of opposition supporters.

Tsvangirai - who returned to Zimbabwe on Saturday after two months abroad -
said he would not be "bulldozed" into joining a lopsided government, and has
rejected proposals to split the Home Affairs Ministry.

The talks Monday - also including the presidents of South Africa and
Mozambique and regional mediator Thabo Mbeki - are being held to try to
resolve the impasse.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

No guarantee of success in talks


January 18, 2009

By Raymond Maingire

HARARE - The prospect of success in Monday's unity talks between the two MDC
parties and Zanu-PF remains mired in uncertainty on the eve of the eve of
their latest encounter as the two main political rivals have both vowed they
will stick to their divergent positions.

The two parties however seem to agree on the importance of bringing finality
to the protracted dialogue, either through success or failure.

The popular mainstream MDC, led by Morgan Tsvangirai, has outlined a handful
of demands it wants to see met before it can commit itself to the envisaged
unity government.

But President Robert Mugabe, whose legitimacy has been under fierce
challenge since he claimed victory in a controversial one-candidate
presidential election last June, insists that his rivals first join him in
government before he can accommodate their demands.

"This is the occasion when it's either they accept or it's a break," Mugabe
told the state controlled Sunday Mail weekly newspaper.

"After all, this is an interim agreement. If they have any issues they deem
outstanding, they can raise them after they come into the inclusive

"This is a meeting which is taking place against a decision of Sadc which we
already have. We have gone past negotiations and whatever concessions were
there to be made have already been made.

"We have signed an agreement which we have already gazetted as required by
Sadc. We have done all that Sadc expected us to do and all that remains is
fulfilling the agreement by forming an inclusive Government," he said.

Mugabe, who turns 85 next month, says any changes desired by his rivals
would have to be incorporated into the Kariba Draft Constitution, which
would then be put to the people through a referendum.

But Tsvangirai, who flew back home on Saturday after spending more than two
months in self-imposed exile in Botswana, accuses Zanu-PF of routinely
reneging on its pledges each time it makes any far reaching concessions.

The MDC met as a national executive council on Sunday to chart the way
forward ahead of Monday's crucial talks.

"The National Executive reiterated that there has to be finality on the
protracted dialogue, either in success or in failure, because Zimbabweans
cannot continue to be arrested by an inconclusive process," the MDC said in
a statement issued on Sunday.

"The executive also reiterated that all outstanding issues should be
resolved first before an inclusive government is formed."

Tsvangirai, who won the March 29 presidential election but pulled out of the
June run-off citing massive state sponsored violence against his party, is
agitating for a fair distribution of key ministerial and executive positions
which Mugabe has unilaterally allocated to party loyalists.

The MDC is also keen to know the composition of the National Security
Council, a by product of the unity talks, before the unity government is

The MDC also wants to see the unconditional release of all MDC and civic
activists who have been arrested on charges of allegedly plotting to depose
President Robert Mugabe's government through banditry activities, which it
dismisses as trumped-up charges.

Said the MDC, "The executive also noted with serious concern the lack of
guarantee on the security of persons as witnessed by the recent abductions
of MDC and civic activists on trumped-up charges.

"The National Executive noted with concern the suffering of the people, the
massive starvation, the decay of public institutions and the collapse of
basic services such as health and education."

South African President, Kgalema Motlanthe, who is the current SADC
chairman, will join forces with his predecessor, Thabo Mbeki and Mozambican
President, Armando Guebuza to help Zimbabwe 's political protagonists seek
agreement  on forming an all inclusive government.

Mbeki, who is the official negotiator in the protracted talks, is the author
of a September 15, 2008 unity accord signed between the parties while
Guebuza is the deputy chair of the Sadc Organ on Politics, Defence and

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

MDC relationship with Mbeki 'broken down'



The relationship between Zimbabwe's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and
former South African president Thabo Mbeki has irretrievably broken down,
the Sunday Times reported.

The Zimbabwean party leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, told the newspaper that
Mbeki was no longer part of the mediation efforts because he was biased and
too soft on 84-year-old Robert Mugabe.

"Our relationship with Mbeki has irretrievably broken down and as far as I
am concerned Southern African Development Community [SADC] chairperson and
South African President Kgalema Motlanthe and the SADC itself are in charge
of dealing with mediation efforts," he said.

Motlanthe, Mbeki and Mozambican President Armando Guebuza were expected in
Harare on Monday to lead the negotiations.

On Sunday Mbeki's spokesperson, Mukoni Ratshitanga, confirmed that Mbeki
would be in Harare on Monday for the talks.

Ratshitanga said Tsvangirai should raise his issues concerning Mbeki with
the SADC, which had appointed him as mediator.

"But if in future the SADC comes and says you are no longer mediator, then
he will not impose himself."

Tsvangirai was set to attend a last-ditch meeting with the ruling Zanu-PF to
form a unity government on Monday.

Tsvangirai vowed on Saturday that he would not join a coalition government
if his party's demands were not fully met.

This was in contrast to Mugabe saying on Sunday that he was not prepared to
make any further concessions at talks on Monday with Tsvangirai. -- Sapa

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Jury Still Out On Power Sharing


Tonderai Kwidini

HARARE, Oct 7 (IPS) - One would have thought the signing of the
power-sharing agreement in Zimbabwe would mean it was safe for 25 Movement
Democratic Change supporters to gather in celebration at a shopping centre
in Buhera.

But the MDC supporters were arrested by the police in this rural centre 100
kilometres northeast of Harare, and -- more than two weeks after the
landmark power-sharing deal was signed -- charged under one of Zimbabwe's
litany of oppressive laws, the Public Order and Security Act (POSA), which
prohibits the gathering of more than 15 people without police clearance.

The MDC managed to grab the majority of parliamentary seats in the area,
previously a Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF)
stronghold. The arrest of the 25 MDC supporters is testimony that the
opposition party still has a lot to negotiate.

The political agreement signed on Sep. 15 hopes to amend this and other laws
to do away with such limitations on civil liberties and restore the
observance of human rights through the drawing up of a new constitution. But
three weeks after the signing of the agreement, incidents like this continue
to occur.

Despite the political agreement Tsvangirai still hasn't been issued with a
new passport despite applying for it three months ago after the expiry of
his current one. His party's chief negotiator at the talks, Tendai Biti,
still has treason charges hovering over his head; many other MDC MPs still
face many charges. ZANU officials continue to as label MDC leaders as
puppets or sell-outs in state-owned media.

The MDC has also reported new political attacks directed at its supporters
in both urban and rural areas. In a statement released on Sep. 28, the party
said 61 of its supporters living in Mbare, one of Harare's political
hotbeds, were assaulted at a police station where they had sought refuge
after being violently evicted from their homes by ZANU-PF supporters.

"The MDC is being taken for a ride in this arrangement. ZANU -PF and Mugabe
are not sincere because the deal is not cascading to the general population.
On the ground people are still being arrested, violence is still being
witnessed throughout the country," Harare-based political analyst Lovemore
Madhuku told IPS.

"What the MDC has done by entering into such a flawed deal is to betray the
people of Zimbabwe," says Madhuku, who is also chair of the National
Constitutional Assembly, a non-governmental organisation fighting for the
drawing up of a new, people driven and democratic constitution in Zimbabwe.

"They have exerted a blow to the standards of the struggle as many of the
things that the people were fighting for will not come through this deal as
Mugabe is only playing for time."

Violence against opposition supporters is also continuing in the rural
areas, where aid workers are still the target of political violence.
Humanitarian aid is yet to reach those in need despite a lift on a ban on
aid activities imposed by the Zimbabwean government before the Jun. 27
presidential run-off election.

To make matters worse a new wave of farm invasions have been reported across
the country. The Commercial Farmers Union (CFU), a grouping of mainly white
commercial farmers, told IPS that at least 35 white farmers were evicted
from their properties by known ZANU-PF supporters and government officials
in the weeks following the signing of the political deal.

"Things have progressively got worse. There are lots of new invasions.
Houses are being broken into by new settlers. The worst affected areas are
the provinces of Manicaland, Masvingo and Mashonaland East, West and
Central," CFU President Trevor Gifford told IPS.

These developments do not augur well for one of the priorities of the
agreement: to mobilise farmers to grow enough grain to feed a hungry nation.
Zimbabwe faces an acute shortage of grain and aid agencies predict that
close to 5 million people are in need of food aid.

The United States Agency for International Development's (USAID)'s Famine
Early Warning Systems Network (FEWSNET) said Zimbabwe requires 788,719
tonnes of grain between now and the next harvest in May 2009.

The signing of the agreement was regarded by many Zimbabweans as the
beginning of better things. But the politicians have failed to form a
government because of disputes over the assignment of key cabinet posts.

"I really don't see anything coming out of this deal, in fact it is bringing
us more suffering because more people are now dying of cholera and water and
electricity shortages are continuing, education is collapsing and yet we
thought things were going to be solved," said Ruth Chishava, a hairdresser
in Harare.

The MDC which won a majority of council seats governing Zimbabwe's cities
and towns also complains that the outgoing minister of Local Government
Ignatius Chombo is still meddling in the work of local authorities making it
difficult for them to roll out their programmes.

"MDC councillors have become victims of undue political interference in
carrying out their day-to-day duties from ZANU PF officials in various parts
of the country. The MDC is disturbed that this is against the spirit of
national engagement," said MDC MP and Secretary for Local Government, Sessel

ZANU-PF denies the accusations of interference and continuing political

"It's difficult to solve issues through the media, even if they are
legitimate cases why can't the MDC address them through the negotiating
teams in the spirit of the talks. If it's done through the media we don't
know if the cases are exaggerated or not.

"We don't condone nor tolerate violence, if MDC is sincere about the issues
they should put them before the negotiating teams and political violence
happens between supporters of two parties," ZANU-PF's Deputy Minister of
Information and Publicity, Bright Matonga told IPS.

In an interview on national radio, the Minister of State Security in charge
of Land Reform, Didymus Mutasa, also denied reports of violence on farms.
"We stopped issuing new letter for farm allocations last year."

Despite the continuing violence, the MDC insists it has managed to
significantly eat into Mugabe and ZANU PF's political power and believes
Zimbabwe is on the right path to bring change.

"This is a compromise set up. It is just a stop-gap measure to deal with the
unprecedented crisis in the country. True, the agreement does not give us
all we wanted. But what we got, in the spirit of compromise, is sufficient
to enable us to start activating the democratisation and economic
stabilisation agenda," said MDC spokesperson, Nelson Chamisa.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

British churches to join day of prayer for Zimbabwe


By staff writers
18 Jan 2009

The Methodist Church and the United Reformed Church are leading the way in
responding to an Africa Day of Prayer in which the suffering people of
Zimbabwe will be held in the thoughts and intentions of participants.

The two British denominations have backed the All Africa Conference of
Churches (AACC's) call for churches around the world to pray for Zimbabwe on
25 January 2009.

The cholera epidemic continues to spread across the country. According to
figures circulated by the AACC, 37,000 people have contracted the disease
and 1,800 people have died. Food is scarce, political violence continues and
schools have not been able to run properly due to the financial and social

The Rev John Marsh, Moderator of the General Assembly of The United Reformed
Church, said: "With the eyes of the world's media now firmly fixed on the
unfolding tragedy in Gaza, we need to be reminded of the immense pain and
suffering that continues to haunt the people of Zimbabwe."

He continued: "We fully endorse the AACC's resolution on Zimbabwe and call
on our Churches to support their call for a special Africa Day of Prayer and
Fasting for Justice in Zimbabwe on Sunday 25 January. We therefore encourage
local churches to commence their services on that day with the lighting of a
candle and a minute's silence in prayer and solidarity with the people and
churches of Zimbabwe."

The Ninth Assembly of the All Africa Conference of Churches met in Maputo,
Mozambique, in December 2008.

The assembly, which was attended by Christine Elliott, Secretary for
External Relationships for the British Methodist Church, backed resolutions
calling for an end to violence and political freedom of expression.

Steve Hucklesby, Public Issues Policy Adviser for The Methodist Church,
said: "We want a process that can bring about the longing of all Zimbabweans
for a free and fair society. Robert Mugabe lost the Presidential election.
Zanu PF came second in Parliamentary elections. Mr Mugabe must be prepared
to relinquish power if Zimbabweans are to be free."

He added: "The food and cholera crisis are symptoms of the meltdown of the
economy and provision of essential services. Water is contaminated with
human waste and health services are not functioning in many areas. The
government's response is to increase security and suppress dissent. Some
humanitarian aid is getting through but much more is needed."

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Farm workers force war vets to abandon farm invasion


Saturday, 17 January 2009
Judges ignore SADC ruling on eviction of farmers

NORTON - Farm workers and war vets observed an uneasy truce on
Thursday in northern Zimbabwe after workers blocked an attempt to storm and
occupy a white-owned homestead in the heart of the nation's grain belt.

The workers, aiming to protect their livelihoods, formed a cordon and
forced the would-be squatters to gather reinforcements from a nearby shanty
But workers from neighbouring farms joined the cordon, swelling its
strength to about 150 men, and told leaders of the outnumbered war vets and
squatters - who were armed with axes, spears and clubs - to advance no
further, local security officials said.

Thursday's standoff, one of several similar confrontations around the
country, marked a potentially explosive escalation in the political crisis
that began when squatters and ruling party thugs, many of them masquerading
as veterans of Zimbabwe's independence war, started occupying the remaining
400 white-owned farms soon after the signing of the September 15
power-sharing deal.

The standoff near Norton, 40 km from Harare, ended with the withdrawal
of the would-be squatters by nightfall, a move negotiated by police, said a
family spokesman.

The white farmer declined to be named fearing further reprisals. "The
workers wanted to chase them away, and the police realized it could become a
fight," the spokesman said.

He said the renewed farm unrest was being fuelled by statements from
the judiciary cheer-leading squatters to evict the remaining white farmers.
At the official opening of the 2009 legal year, High Court judges
contemptuously gave the SADC the middle finger, rubbishing a ruling that
declared that the continued eviction of white farmers was illegal and
breached SADC legal instruments.

Zimbabwe's newly appointed Attorney General, Johannes Tomana, said he
would proceed to prosecute all commercial white farmers who have acted in
breach of government's order to vacate gazetted land.

This flies in the face of the SADC Tribunal ruling in November that
ruled that the 75 white farmers challenging their eviction stay on their
farms and continue producing food for the starving nation. The Norton farmer
is among the 75.

"We wish to advise that the policy position taken by the government
pursuant to the judgement handed down by the SADC Tribunal on the 28th of
November, 2008, is that of prosecutions of defaulting farmers under the
provisions of the Gazetted Lands (Consequential Provisions) Act, and should
now be resumed," Tomana said in a letter to Gollop and Blank law firm, which
is representing the white farmers.

The renewed farm evictions also come amid warlike demagoguery by
regime officials meant to frighten the remaining white farmers.

"There is nothing special about the 75 farmers and we will take more
farms," Didymus Mutasa, the Land Reform minister has said. Government
consistently repeats its mantra that: "It's not discrimination against the
farmers, but it's correcting land imbalances," - despite the fact that the
vast majority of lucrative commercial farms have been given to top civil
service, military and judiciary officials, and other Mugabe gravy train
hangers on.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Piles of bodies prod residents into action


January 17, 2009

BULAWAYO (The Chronicle) - City residents yesterday responded to Mpilo
Central Hospital's distress call by forming an all stakeholders committee to
mobilise resources aimed at revitalising operations at the facility.

The committee was formed following a meeting organised by the Bulawayo
United Residents Association (BURA). The move to revitalise Mpilo Hospital
follows a tour by the BURA executive last week.

BURA chairman, Mr Winos Dube, told the stakeholders that the situation at
Mpilo, one of the country's largest referral hospitals, was so appalling
that he could hardly sleep after visiting the mortuary and other facilities.
He said, out of the three cooling systems at the hospital's mortuary, only
one was functioning.

When the BURA executive visited the hospital, there were 250 bodies in the
mortuary whose capacity is only 30.

"The situation is so bad that some bodies are piled up. About 60 bodies have
decomposed. The mortuary is now full of maggots and I had a chance to speak
to the mortuary attendant who told me that some parts of the bodies remain
behind when they pull the bodies from the tray," he said.

"The two incinerators at the hospital are not working and hospital staff has
resorted to burning amputated body parts and other remains in the open,
which is a health hazard."

The Chief Executive Officer of Mpilo Hospital, Dr Lindiwe Mlilo, said the
hospital was in a bad state, a situation that was now demotivating staff.
She said all departments were in need of restoration.

Mlilo said the laundry department was failing to clear its laundry, with
blankets and linen having piled up as the hospital's machines had broken
down. The hospital had no money to take the laundry to outside launderers.

She said staff shortage at the hospital was another problem, as nurses were
only reporting for duty twice a week, citing transport problems.

The newly established committee, which is chaired by Pastor Kilton Moyo, of
Word of Life International, immediately secured funds for the burial of 50
decomposed bodies in the hospital's mortuary. The funds were made available
by Word of Life.

Other stakeholders include the hospital's administration, Zimbabwe National
Chamber of Commerce, National Alliance of Non-Governmental Organisations,
Bulawayo City Council, churches, Resident Minister's Office, Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe and the Bulawayo Residents' Association (BURA).

The Zimbabwe Republic Police and National AIDS Council also attended the
stakeholders meeting.

The committee was mandated to oversee the restoration of the hospital with
the rehabilitation of the mortuary being given priority.

Other priority items include fixing the institution's washing, drying and
pressing machines as well as sourcing new linen.

The committee will also help to fix incinerators, switchboard and generator
as well as source medication, fuel and food for patients.

Stakeholders urged Bulawayo residents to support the initiative to assist
the hospital which serves the entire Matabeleland region as well as the
Masvingo and Midlands provinces.

Bishop Mpande Khanye of Zimbabwe Council of Churches said Bulawayo residents
should not just wait for donors to provide resources to public institutions
such as hospitals.

"If all the two million residents of Bulawayo contribute a rand each towards
the cause, we might raise enough to revive one ailing department at the
institution," said Bishop Khanye.

The rand is the currency of neighbouring South Africa. The rand and the
United States dollar have virtually become the official currencies of

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

MPs fight to stop deportation of activist


Jamie Doward
The Observer,
Sunday 18 January 2009

The Home Office is seeking urgently to deport a leading Zimbabwean human
rights activist, despite claims from MPs that the move will place his life
in danger. Luka Phiri, a former aide to the vice-president of the Movement
for Democratic Change, Thokozani Khupe, was detained last week and is being
held at Colnbrook Immigration Centre.

He was due to be deported on Wednesday, but the move was blocked at the
eleventh hour following intervention from Phiri's MP, the Labour minister
Stephen Timms, and a number of other politicians, including Kate Hoey, chair
of the all-party parliamentary group on Zimbabwe.

Although the government has pledged not to remove Zimbabweans from the UK,
two immigration judges have approved Phiri's removal on the grounds he
entered the country on a Malawian passport. Phiri, who grew up in Zimbabwe,
insists he acquired the Malawian passport when he fled his native country
after being tortured by Robert Mugabe's supporters.

Malawian immigration officials have told journalists Phiri will be arrested
when he enters the country and prosecuted for obtaining a passport
fraudulently. "Due to overcrowding in Malawi prisons, we will hand him to
the Zimbabwe authorities," one said.

Hoey said: "The Zimbabwean community in the UK feels very strongly that Luka
is a Zimbabwean and, as soon as I heard that he had been detained, I urged
the Home Office to halt his deportation. I pointed out that Luka has been a
vocal critic of Mugabe in London and is bound to be known to the Harare

Phiri's deportation order is now the subject of a judicial review.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zimbabwe Vigil Diary – 17th January 2009

A massive Vigil – perhaps the biggest one we have ever had, apart from special occasions.  At the close, when we joined hands to sing Nkosi Sikelele Africa, people were standing three deep right around the Embassy piazza. 


Perhaps it was developments at home that prompted the big turnout.  Or it might have been insecurity following the detention and threatened deportation of Luka Phiri of the Vigil Management Team. 


Certainly there was much discussion of the news that Tsvangirai had returned home for party consultations ahead of a SA-facilitated meeting with Mugabe and the reconvening of Parliament. We are outside the Embassy every Saturday whatever the season and, battling the cold in the fading light, we despaired as all the chefs in Southern Africa took a month off for Christmas to stuff themselves while people died of cholera or starved or were beaten to death.  Anyway we trust our chefs are sufficiently refreshed to put in a couple of days work before the country closes down for the celebrations marking Comrade Mugabe’s 85th birthday.


At the Vigil we have not had the luxury of a summer break. In fact we have had a busy week, what with the right to work campaign and our efforts to save Luka from deportation. Many people who came past the Vigil, seeing a picture of Luka on the table, expressed their outrage at the attempt to send him back to the deathly welcome of Malawi.  We were in close contact with Luka through the afternoon via text messages.  In response to Luka’s first message to the Vigil saying how much he was missing us, we did a big ‘pom pom’ for him, shouting ‘Free Luka, Free Luka’, and sent him the message that we were all thinking about him and supporting him.  Luka’s final message was: ‘This is the best time of my life to know there are people who really care. I am happy and blessed to be part of the Vigil. Nothing bad will happen to me as long as the Vigil is around.’ 


Many will already know that, through the great efforts of the Zimbabwean community in the UK, Luka’s deportation was halted at the last minute. He is still in detention though and we are working to get him released. Many thanks to Yeukai Taruvinga for her untiring efforts to help Luka and to Fungayi Mabhunu of the Vigil Management Team who visited Luka daily while he was held in Colnbrook Immigration Removal Centre. He has now been moved to Dover.  We will keep you posted on what happens to Luka via ‘Update on Luka’ at the top of the home page of our website.


Vigil Management Team member Sue reported on the demonstration on Tuesday organised by Citizens for Sanctuary in support of the campaign to allow Zimbabwean asylum seekers to work. She said that after making representations at 10 Downing Street, the Zimbabwean group of some 300 or so toyi toyied to the nearby Home Office where they shouted ‘Free Luka’.


It was good to hear from Cathy Buckle this week. Her new book ‘Innocent Victims’ about Meryl Harrison’s courageous rescue of thousands of farm animals from Zimbabwean farms whose owners had been forced to flee will be available in March – www.merlinunwin.co.uk.   Cathy’s message to the Vigil: ‘Thank you for everything you continue to do for Zimbabwe – so many years’.


Some more points: We were glad to have with us Sarah who had just come back from Bulawayo and gave us an update on the situation there. An opera singer stopped to sign our petitions on her way to perform at Covent Garden. Eunita Masola handed £40 to the Vigil. She said it had been given to her by colleagues for causes in Zimbabwe when she went to work in her Vigil t-shirt.


In last week’s diary we gave a brief account of the activities of our partner organisation Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe (ROHR) in the first half of last year. Herewith a report on the second half of ROHR’s year.


14th July – ROHR is launching an ongoing arts festival in an effort to counter political violence and explore democratic space. It is working with Zimbabwe Poets for Human Rights and their first event will be held in Kadoma on Saturday 19th July.

31st July - At a Vigil Management Team meeting the possibility of setting up a fund to support victims of the election violence in Zimbabwe was discussed.  It was pointed out that our partner ROHR had already contributed substantial money to support victims of violence, most notably helping to pay for Tonderai Ndira’s funeral and providing Tichanzii Gandanga with the means to leave Zimbabwe to get treatment in South Africa.  It was agreed that it would be duplication to set up a separate fund and that we should channel any money through ROHR.

25th September – ROHR has today taken the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to court over the central bank's failure to review bank withdrawal limits in line with the economic situation.

10th October – More than 200 ROHR activists took to the streets of Harare today at 10.00 hours in a protest march. The demonstration was staged under the Demand for Democracy and Justice Campaign whose primary aim is to see Zimbabwe hold fresh elections for a new government and a leader of the people’s choice within two years. The police reacted by raiding ROHR offices and briefly detained ROHR programmes officer Mrs Mapanzure.  

17th October – ROHR’s protest in Mutare attracted more than 150 people. The demonstration was however broken up by Zanu-PF youths. Clifford Hlatshwayo, our co-ordinator responsible for the Demand for Democracy and Justice Campaign, was severely injured.

27th October - 23 men and women have been hospitalised and seven arrested after ROHR demonstrated in Harare today. Four people are missing after having been abducted by Zanu PF. More than 200 ROHR activists participated in the demonstration that brought business to a standstill. The protesters marched towards the Harare International Conference Centre, the venue for this week’s SADC meeting. 

28th October - More than 100 people participated in a demonstration organised by ROHR in Masvingo. The protest is a continuation of the protests during the meeting of SADC heads of state.
1st November – ROHR activist Osborne Kachuru was beaten to death at ZANU PF's offices in Fourth Street, Harare, after a peaceful demonstration during the SADC talks on Monday.  Moses  Mutasa and Memory Chashayele who were abducted on 27th October  have been found. They are shaken and in deep pain caused by the extremely brutal assault they endured at the hands on their Zanu-PF abductors.

4th November – ROHR mobilised more than 200 people to participate in the protest march held in Gweru today. They were holding placards and distributing flyers to the public.

21st November – The ‘Demand for Justice and Democracy’ demonstration in Bulawayo was subdued because of the heavy presence of police, army and CIOs but ROHR members managed to distribute flyers to people in the streets who approvingly shouted, ‘victory is for the people’.  1st December – More than 350 Bindura ROHR members and residents took to the streets today in a protest organised as part of the ROHR campaign for democracy and justice.  21st December – About 40 ROHR members in Bindura have fled their homes to mountains and surrounding areas following attacks and arrests by Zanu PF. Several ROHR members were beaten up and are being accused of having staged a demonstration against President Mugabe without police authority.

For latest Vigil pictures check: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/


FOR THE RECORD: over 250 signed the register.



ROHR Newcastle General Meeting. Saturday 24th January at 61 Bishops Benwell, Newcastle NE15 6RY from 1400 - 1730 hrs. Contact: Linda Chingwinyiso 07894142263, Joseph Madziva 07905850073 or Fadzai Mudekwa 07727221873.

Unite Zimnite. Saturday 24th January at 7 pm. King’s College London’s student-led charity Project Zimbabwe is holding a fundraiser for Zimbabwe. The event is an African themed open mic night with over 8 acts coming to perform.  Money raised will go towards their MedYouth Project, a life skills programme being taught to school children in Bulawayo next summer. Venue: Function Room, Walkabout, Temple. Cost: £10/£5NUS. For more information, check: http://www.kclprojectzimbabwe.blogspot.com/

‘The Agony of Zimbabwe, What Chance for Change?’ Monday 9th February, 6.45 – 8.45 pm.  Talk by Christina Lamb Foreign Affairs Correspondent for the Sunday Times. Hosted by Friends of Le Monde diplomatique. Venue: the Gallery, 70/77 Cowcross Street, London EC1M 6EJ (near Farringdon Tube station).  For more information check: http://monde-diplo-friends.org.uk/calendar.htm.

Zimbabwe Association’s Women’s Weekly Drop-in Centre. Fridays 10.30 am – 4 pm. Venue: The Fire Station Community and ICT Centre, 84 Mayton Street, London N7 6QT, Tel: 020 7607 9764. Nearest underground: Finsbury Park. For more information contact the Zimbabwe Association 020 7549 0355 (open Tuesdays and Thursdays).


Vigil Co-ordinators

The Vigil, outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, 429 Strand, London, takes place every Saturday from 14.00 to 18.00 to protest against gross violations of human rights by the current regime in Zimbabwe. The Vigil which started in October 2002 will continue until internationally-monitored, free and fair elections are held in Zimbabwe. http://www.zimvigil.co.uk.



Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Hungry Zimbabweans see even leaner times ahead


CHIRUMHANZU, Zimbabwe, Jan 18 (AFP)

For Langton Marasha and his family, their most difficult decision of the day
is deciding when to eat their single, scant meal from their dwindling food

"We force ourselves to eat one meal a day, because we don't have enough
food," the 56-year-old father of three told AFP as he waited for his turn to
receive a ration of maize, cooking oil, laundry soap and beans from the aid
agency Oxfam.

"It depends on an individual. One might want to eat in the morning while
others eat in the afternoon. I prefer taking my meal towards sunset," he
said, puffing at a cigar fashioned out of old newspaper.

"We are now used to eating once a day, and we supplement that with wild
fruits," he said.

All around the school used as aid centre in his village of Govere in
Chirumhanzu district, about 250 kilometres (155 miles) southeast of the
capital, the stunted maize crop lies in sandy fields -- a sign that
similarly lean times lie ahead.

Like most of his fellow villagers, maize forms the basis of his diet. Ground
into cornmeal and cooked into a thick porridge known as sadza, maize and a
handful of boiled vegetable leaves are all his family eats in a typical

He once had a small herd of cattle and goats, which represented all of his
family's savings, but he sold the livestock one by one to raise money to buy
maize and keep hunger at bay.

With his entire herd now gone, Marasha now relies on food rations from
international aid agencies to feed his family.

Marasha lost his job as a truck driver in 2002, when Zimbabwe's economic
crisis left his former employer without enough work.

Following poor harvests last year, Marasha resorted to preparing the fields
for neighbours. He is paid with part of their food rations.

A decade ago, Zimbabwe produced enough maize to feed the nation and export a
surplus. But after 28 years under President Robert Mugabe's rule, Marasha is
now among an estimated five million Zimbabweans -- nearly half the
population -- dependent on handouts.

With inflation last officially estimated at 231 million percent in July, the
real figure is believed to have reached an astronomical level many multiples

The central bank last week unveiled a series of trillion-dollar denomination
notes, but even the largest 100,000,000,000,000 Zim-dollar bill will only
hold its value for a few days before becoming worthless.

Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai are set to hold new
power-sharing talks on Monday in a bid to revive a four-month-old unity
accord that so far has brought no aid to the nation's people.

Workers now demand salaries in foreign currency, but with unemployment at 80
percent, most Zimbabweans can only dream of keeping US dollars or South
African rands in their pockets.

The situation has been exacerbated by an outbreak of cholera which has
claimed 2,200 lives countrywide, and which is taking a particularly deadly
toll in villages like Govere.

The United Nations says the death rate is growing in the countryside, where
many people simply die in their homes.

Making matters worse, Oxfam warned last week that it would soon be forced to
cut food aid due to a shortfall in donations.

Hearing the news, Marasha simply held his head in his hands.

"People's lives are in danger because of lack of food. They are severely
weakened and therefore less able to deal with cholera, which has spread
across the country, or fight HIV/AIDS," Oxfam country director Peter
Mutoredzanwa said.

Teenage mother Pellargia Musvuti said the food rations were only a stop-gap
measure and appealed for seed and fertilisers so that she can grow her own

"We needed farming inputs in time to plant so we can feed our families to
avert hunger this year," Musvuti told AFP as she waited to receive her
family ration at another primary school near Govere.

Despite good rains this summer, most farming plots around Govere lie fallow
with small patches of sprouting maize as the villagers failed to secure
farming inputs on time.

"We are going to have another bad season as a result of lack of inputs,"
lamented district administrator Langton Mupeta.

"Just now we received about 30 tonnes of seed. We don't know if the rains
will manage to get us through."

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

What US$40 buys in Zimbabwe


Sat, 17 Jan 2009

DEAR EDITOR - I have just returned to the United States from a six-week
holiday in Zimbabwe and thought I should share some of my experiences with
the Zimbabwe Guardian readers.

There are many changes that have happened in the Motherland since I last
went there in 2003.

There are always the good and bad aspects of any country.

The use of the US dollar in Zimbabwe seems to have eased somewhat the cash
crisis in the country, but I was shocked by how little understanding of the
value of the dollar many retailers (and individuals) had. Or should I say
the retailers are extremely overcharging people in US dollars (or usas as
they call them) in Zimbabwe?

I was shocked to find that a pack of 9 toilet rolls was priced at US$10 at a
shop in Harare and a 1kg packet of rice at US$15. Besides these prices being
extortionate, the US dollar is not readily available in the country and only
those people lucky enough to have friends and relatives abroad often have
access to the dollar and South African Rand.

I also noticed that giant supermarket chains have struck deals with
Western-based Zimbabwean online businesses that sell food and other
commodities for delivery within Zimbabwe. Because these supermarket chains
pay commission to these online businesses, they have inflated their prices
to cover costs. Prices of in-store commodities have also been inflated to
match the prices quoted online.

I should say the shelves in Zimbabwe have all the basic necessities now, but
not many people can afford them as they do not have the foreign currency
required and also cannot afford the extortionate prices.

Locals are now competing with those who make purchases online, mostly based
overseas in the United Kingdom or US.

This is a very serious situation that needs to be addressed as soon as
possible in Zimbabwe. There are a lot of grocery shop owners who are making
a killing out of the current crisis and the authorities have to come heavy
on these businesses.

Lastly, just to give you an idea of how expensive life in Zimbabwe is, I
will give you a list of the items I bought on one of the days and their
prices. Judge for yourself.

Toilet rolls (pack of 9): US$10.00
1kg packet of rice: US$15
1kg beef: US$5
Travel: Mabelreign to City (round trip): US$5
5kg mealie-meal: US$5
Total: US$40.00

Judge for yourself and remember that not everyone has access to the usas!

Tendai Masanga
Chicago, IL

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zimbabwe orders probe of lawmakers accused of stealing fertilizer


APA-Harare (Zimbabwe) Zimbabwe has ordered fraud investigations on eight
lawmakers and an unspecified number of army officers, accused of stealing
fertilizer meant for a state-sponsored food production programme, state
radio said here Sunday.

The radio said the unnamed Members of Parliament, army officers and
officials from the state-run Grain Marketing Board (GMB) allegedly abused
their offices by allocating themselves large quantities of scarce fertilizer
which was later diverted to a thriving black market.

Some of the MPs have no farms while others had very small plots of land
which did not justify the large quantities of fertilizer they collected from
the government's inputs holding centre in the capital Harare.

The identity of the party to which the MPs belonged was not disclosed
although it is common knowledge in Zimbabwe that government-supported input
schemes are mostly accessed by supporters of the ruling ZANU PF.

In the event that they are found guilty and convicted, the lawmakers could
face jail terms and lose their parliamentary seats.

  JN/tjm/APA 2009-01-18

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zimbabwean spy arrested in Botswana


18.01.2009 6:06:39 P

Botswana intelligence this week arrested a British Canadian spy who had been
engaged by the Zimbabwean government to investigate human trafficking of
Zimbabweans and training camps of MDC insurgents in Botswana.
Andrew Sanderson, who was kicked out of Botswana two years ago, was arrested
in Gaborone on Friday while planning to skip the country and meet his
handler, Chipo Zindonga, who is the Zimbabwean Ambassador in Namibia.

While in Botswana, Sanderson was in touch with the Zimbabwean Central
Intelligence Organisation (CIO) agents at the Zimbabwean High Commission and
Zindonga in Namibia.

In an interview with the Sunday Standard shortly before he was arrested,
Sanderson claimed to have discovered MDC training camps in Botswana and was
planning to pass on the information to the Zimbabwean government, which had
hired him.
Sanderson had escaped from police custody and claims to have hidden at the
Zimbabwean High Commission for a night. He says Zimbabwean envoys in
Gaborone then arranged with one of their own who is masquerading as a taxi
driver to transport him.

Sanderson, who started his career as an officer in the Canadian army, came
to Botswana and worked with the British Council in Gaborone. He comes up in
the Internet as a "tech guy" and is believed to have made quite a fortune as
the founder and Managing Director of Intertswana, when Botswana's pioneering
Internet Service Provider was bought by UUnet. He squandered his fortunes,
left UUnet and became something of an establishment deviant. He would spend
most of his time in the murky world of crack houses and brothels in South

Sanderson who, by his own admission, dabbled in drug trafficking, decided to
come clean four years ago and help The Sunday Standard and DNS investigate
drug peddling and trafficking of prostitutes in Botswana.

During this time, he was on the DNS payroll and met a number of officers
from the Attorney General's Chambers who promised him indemnity from
prosecution if he helped with the investigation and prosecution of Botswana
big drug lords.

Somewhere during the course of the investigations the Botswana Defence Force
Military Intelligence came into the picture and enticed Sanderson with a
bigger paycheck.

A reconstruction of Sanderson's life as a mole shows that he was an
ingenious dealmaker who hatched interlocking deals that exploited the
rivalry between the police intelligence and the Botswana Defence Force
Military Intelligence and the media's itch for a scoop.

Sanderson told The Sunday Standard that both the DNS and the military
intelligence agreed to let him stay in the country with a passport that had
expired because he was helping them with the investigations.

Sanderson's handler at DNS, Miriam Kilano, admitted that Sanderson was their
agent, but says she was not aware that he did not have a passport.
Sanderson was later kicked out of Botswana for staying in the country
without a passport, and when he resurfaced in Botswana a few months ago, he
was on the payroll of the Zimbabwean government.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

PEACE WATCH of 16th January 2009


[16th January 2009]

Zimbabwe Peace Project Staff Still in Custody

Jestina Mukoko, Broderick Takawira and Pascal Gonzo of the ZPP are still incarcerated in Chikurubi Prison Maximum Security Section, in solitary confinement in filthy lice-ridden cells with appalling toilet facilities.  All three have made allegations of torture.  Lawyers had to fight to get the police to produce them in court [originally the police denied knowledge of them and then said they were treating them as kidnap cases].  Their lawyers had to fight to get access to them and when they did the “prisoners” were produced in handcuffs and leg irons, the time given was too short and they were given no privacy for consultations as provided for by the Constitution.  Then their lawyers had to fight to get them examined by doctors and even now Jestina and Broderick have not been admitted to hospital in spite of a High Court Judge’s order that they should be taken to the Avenues Clinic for examination and treatment.  And nor has Pascal been released, despite both a magistrate and a High Court judge ordering it. 

Jestina’s case to go to the Supreme Court as a Test Case

If a person’s constitutional rights have been violated – and abduction and unlawful arrest and detention and torture at the hands of State agents are such violations – redress can be sought in the Supreme Court.  [Constitution Section 24 “If any person alleges that the Declaration of Rights has been…contravened in relation to him…then…that person…may…apply to the Supreme Court for redress”.] 

Strenuous efforts to have Jestina Mukoko's allegations of breaches of her constitutional rights heard by the Supreme Court eventually succeeded on Friday 16 January.  Jestina gave moving oral testimony about her abduction, the horrendous experience of her illegal detention and torture.  This was the first time she was able to speak – after numerous occasions of being produced to stand or sit in the dock for hours, while magistrates and /or state prosecutors turned up late and while technicalities were being argued.

Magistrate Archie Wochiunga granted the defence application for a referral to the Supreme Court.  An early hearing is expected, as the Chief Justice and the Attorney-General’s office have already accepted that the matter is urgent.  Jestina’s case is being heard as a test case.  The decision of the Supreme Court in her case will apply as a binding precedent in the cases of the other abductees

Some Good News

Two-year old Nigel Mutemagau, after being abducted together with his mother and father by armed gunmen in a pre-dawn raid on their home, and then spending 76 days in captivity, was released this week.  Medical reports verify his mother’s affidavit that the toddler was assaulted and denied food and medical attention by his captors.  When his and his parents whereabouts was discovered, he was produced in court on 24 December and then further detained with his mother for almost three weeks, mostly in solitary in Chikurubi Maximum Security.  His parents are still being held there.

News of Other Abductees

The police have produced a total of 19 abductees in the magistrates court – in addition to the three ZPP staff, there were 16 others, including the two year old [some of whom there had been no news of for 54 days].  [For list of other names see below under charges].  Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights had 32 people listed as “enforced disappearances”.  One of the persons who was produced in court [Audrey Zimbudzana] was not on the list of 32.  This means that only eighteen of the list of 32 have been produced. 

For weeks now they have been the subject of various applications by their lawyers for their release and for proper medical treatment, and counter objections by the state in the magistrates court and the High Court.  Meanwhile they were kept in solitary confinement at Chikurubi Maximum Security.  All have alleged torture, none have been taken to hospital for treatment.  All the detainees have now seen doctors in the prison hospital but doctors and lawyers confirm that the facilities at the prison hospital are too “basic” and they need to have examinations and treatment at a properly equipped hospital. The Attorney-General through the Director of Public Prosecutions is still refusing to agree to this. 

Criminal charges were brought against all of them [except the two year old, although he continued to be detained for several weeks] 

State Charges Against the Peace Project Workers and other Abductees

There are three different charges against those already brought to the magistrates court:

·   Recruiting persons for training in banditry, insurgency, sabotage or terrorism [Criminal Law Code, section 24]. This is the charge faced by Jestina Mukoko, Broderick Takawira, Concillia Chinanzvavana, Emmanuel Chinanzvavana, Fidelis Chiramba, Pieta Kaseke, Violet Mupfuranhehwe, Collen Mutemagau and Audrey Zimbudzana [“the Mukoko group”].

·   Acts of banditry, insurgency, sabotage or terrorism [bombing of police stations and railway lines] [Criminal Law Code, section 23]. and the State has not suggested that anyone died as a result of the acts of sabotage attributed to the accused. This is the charge faced by Chris Dhlamini, Gandi Mudzingwa, Mapfumo Garutsa, Andrison Manyere, Regis Mujeyi, Zacharia Nkomo and Chinoto Zulu [“the Dhlamini group”].

·   Assisting other accused persons after they committed crimes, to enable them to conceal the crimes or evade justice [Criminal Law Code, section 206]. This is the charge faced by Pascal Gonzo and Tawanda Bvumo.

Possible Penalties: NB Death Penalty Not Applicable

The penalty for all these offences is imprisonment for life or a shorter period [Criminal Law Code, sections 23, 24 and 210].

Press reports stating that the members of the Dhlamini group face the death penalty are incorrect.  As the State has not alleged that anyone died as a result of the acts attributed to the accused, the death penalty does not arise – it applies to this offence only if someone dies as a result of the commission of the offence charged [Criminal Law Code, section 24].

Update on the 14 Abductees on List of Enforced Disappearances

On 6 January lawyers filed an urgent High Court application for the production of 12 listed abductees who had not yet been brought to court.  Note the lawyers only filed for 12 because although the disappearances of Agrippa Kakonda and Mr Makwezadzimba, had been reported to the lawyers, the lawyers’ ongoing investigations into the circumstances of their disappearance had not provided them with sufficient information.

On 15 January this application was eventually heard by Justice Chitakunye.  

One Escaped:  In the interval between the application and the hearing one abductee, Bothwell Pasipamire, surfaced in South Africa, where the media have carried his story on how he was abducted from Kadoma on 13 December, held at a camp near Goromonzi, tortured to force him to admit undergoing guerrilla training for MDC-T and filmed while he was forced to take part in a simulated assault on a captive soldier; and how after 4 days he managed to escape with the assistance of sympathetic State security agents.

State Claims Three as "State Witnesses":  During the hearing the State admitted that the police were holding 3 of the applicants [Lloyd Tarumbwa, Terry Musona and Fanwell Tembo] in “police protective custody” as State witnesses and stated they were being well looked after.  There is no legal basis for holding persons in "police protective custody" against their will.  The defence lawyers were granted access to the three “State witnesses” on police premises in the presence of the judge and the State representatives, but were not permitted to see them in private or to question them in any detail – making it impossible to be ensure they are not being held against their will.

State denied knowledge of the others: This leaves another 8 on the list still unaccounted for.  But in fact lawyers now believe there are only 7 unaccounted for as they have reason to think that Lloyd Tarumbwa, who the State have claimed is in protective custody, was also listed under the alias Larry Gaka.  Those still unaccounted for are Gwenzi Kahiya, Ephraim Mabeka, Lovemore Machokota, Graham Matehwa, Peter MunyanyiCharles Muza and Edmore Vangirayi.

On 16 December Justice Chitakunye handed down his decision.  He declined to make any order in respect of the three “State witnesses” [pointing out that their position was already covered by orders of two other judges for their release, and that separate steps could be taken to enforce those orders].  He ordered the State to investigate the disappearance of the other applicants and to report progress to him on Friday each week. 

Veritas makes every effort to ensure reliable information, but cannot take legal responsibility for information supplied.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Satire - not true.....

Satire - not true.....


Grace Mugabe put in charge of extracting confessions by torture18 January
 Trials have been speeded up in Zimbabwe. Grace Mugabe, the wife of dictator
Robert Mugabe, has been appointed the new top expert in "evidence"
collection by her husband.

This follows the delayed appearance in court of over 40 opposition MDC
supporters that vanished into thin air recently. After strongly denying they
had anything to do with it, police were very surprised to find them in their
prisons. "They must have been smuggled into the jails as part of a Western
Government plot against our President" said the Commisioner of prisons.

Grace Mugabe will be assigned to specific cases. It is understood that these
will all be accusations of trying to overthrow her husband as the sole owner
of Zimbabwe.

Her appointment comes after demontrating her skills on a Sunday Times
photographer, Richard Jones in Hong Kong. "Grace Mugabe flew into a rage
when she saw him outside the five-star Kowloon Shangri-la Hotel" said
Michael Sheridan, The Sunday Times correspondent who witnessed the assault.

"The bodyguard grabbed Mr Jones, wrestled with him, attempted to take his
camera. He then held him while Mrs Mugabe struck him in the face
repeatedly," Sheridan said.

Jones said he went to see a doctor afterwards and was diagnosed as suffering
from numerous bruises, cuts, and abrasions to his head and face.

"The cuts and bruises inflicted by the First Lady... were due to the diamond
rings on her fingers," he said.

Asked to comment Mrs Mugabe said " My husband has spent hundreds of
thousands of taxpayers money on these knuckledusters, including some very
big and hard stones. Some of them came from the DRC and are called Blood
Diamonds, for very good reasons. They ought to be put to more use in the
National interest."

When asked what national interest was at stake here, she replied "In
Zimbabwe it has become fashionable to kick people off their farms. I am
preventing that happening to my husbands farm, which, as you all know, is
the whole of Zimbabwe."

In a recent speech Mugabe stated "Zimbabwe is mine!"

Back to the Top
Back to Index