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Shiri's assassination attempt was a hoax

January 6, 2009

By Geoffrey Nyarota

AS A year of high political drama drew to a close the people of Zimbabwe may
have been the victims of a well-orchestrated political hoax - the alleged
attempt on the life of the commander of the Air Force of Zimbabwe.

The Zimbabwe Times reported on Monday, December 15, that Air Marshall
Perrence Shiri had survived an assassination attempt while driving from his
farm out in Shamva the previous day. Relying on information supplied by a
source at Manyame Air Force Base adjacent to Harare Airport, it was reported
that Shiri had sustained a hit in the shoulder.

The source said: "Most medical staff at Manyame Military Hospital were woken
up on Sunday morning and given local currency and foreign currency to buy an
assortment of medical drugs from private pharmacies as the hospital did not
have adequate medical supplies."

The state-run newspaper The Herald picked up the story and reported the
following day that Shiri was in a stable condition after being wounded in
the hand in an assassination attempt.

The newspaper along with state-controlled radio quoted Kembo Mohadi, who
continued to serve as Home Affairs Minister, as saying the shooting "appears
to be a build-up of terror attacks targeting high profile persons,
government officials, government establishments and public transportation

Mohadi did not identify any of the other high-profile targets of recent
assassination attempts.

He said however that the assassination attempt was a sequel to two bomb
blasts in the Harare Central Police Station and a botched bombing of a
highway bridge and railway line west of Harare last year. It was disclosed
by the State in an ongoing trial that the second bomb blast had caused all
of 10 cm, repeat 10 cm, of damage to the railway line.

If at all an attempt had been made by the MDC on the life of the commander
of the Air Force of Zimbabwe, as insinuated by Mohadi, surely a number of
MDC supporters or activists would by now have been arrested or abducted. Yet
not another official word has been said or reported about the Shiri incident
since the story broke last month. Not one picture of Shiri or his injury has
been published or shown on TV, as would be expected in the circumstances.

Why is Zanu-PF which has recently displayed signs of maximum desperation,
allowing this particular golden propaganda opportunity to slip through its
usually sticky fingers?

The answer is simple, it would appear.

There was no attempt on the life of Shiri. That explains the shroud of
secrecy that the officials have thrown around the so-called assassination
story. If Shiri had indeed been shot, as alleged, pictures of the gun-shot
wounds would have been published in every SADC capital and beyond and his
cronies would probably have persuaded Mugabe to declare a state of emergency
in Zimbabwe by now.

The whole story, including what now appears to have been a controlled leak
to The Zimbabwe Times, appears to have been a deliberate and cunning ploy by
Mugabe's strategists to deceive the public as part of an ongoing plot to
construct a case against the MDC.

A senior Air Force of Zimbabwe officer at Manyame, speaking over the weekend
on condition of anonymity, said it was totally false that Shiri had been
admitted to the military hospital at the Air Force Base.

"There is a hospital at Manyame," he said on Saturday. "But it is not much
of a hospital any more. There is nothing much left here. In fact, it would
be foolish to bring the commander to Manyame Hospital, if he was indeed shot
in Shamva, as claimed.

"The truth is nobody at Manyame ever saw Air Marshall Shiri admitted to the
hospital on December 15 or afterwards. If Shiri was admitted to Manyame
Hospital I would be among the first to know. Everyone else at Manyame would
know. If Shiri had come to Manyame word would have spread quickly, starting
with the guards at the gates, up to the staff in the hospital.

"All we know about his admission here is what we read in the newspapers.
Nobody ever saw Shiri here. Nobody knows if the assassination attempt
actually happened of it is just a creation. There just is no way Shiri would
be admitted to Manyame Hospital without the entire base knowing and talking
about such a sensational event."

He said Shiri rarely ever came to Manyame any more, as he had little reason
to visit the base, except in the event of the rare pass-out parade. He was
now confined to Air Force headquarters, next to the Defence Forces
Headquarters at KG6.

"Nobody at Manyame would want to assassinate Shiri," said the officer. "We
don't care about him any more. Everyone is leaving or preparing to leave.
Many Air Force personnel are leaving for South Africa. Those with experience
are getting jobs with the South African Air Force or with South African
Airways. Some have left for the UK and the United States.

"I recently got a job in South Africa and I am leaving soon."

He laughed off a suggestion that this disclosure might reveal his identity
to the officials.

"I know of a number of people who are serving their notice right now, while
preparing to leave," he said. "I am not the only one leaving. There is no
one in the Air Force who would think of assassinating Shiri. They are all
fed up with the whole thing and they are leaving. The Air Force is in the
process of total collapse.

"Many of the pilots and technicians have left for greener pastures. We have
no spare parts for the planes and now there is no fuel. Strictly speaking,
the Air Force of Zimbabwe remains only in name."

After the initial speculative outburst by Mohadi, the alleged Shiri
assassination attempt has uncharacteristically become a closely guarded
secret. There has been no further official announcement or other
communication, with Mohadi's initial speculation now replaced by quiet
speculation on whether there was ever any assassination attempt on the Air
Force commander, in the first place.

Shiri, whose real name is Bigboy Samson Chikerema, first shot to prominence,
or notoriety, in the early days of Zimbabwe's independence. He was the
commander of the infamous Five Brigade, which was deployed to Matabeleland
and the Midlands during the Gukurahundi massacres in 1983 and 1984. The
reign of terror claimed the lives of innocent Ndebele civilians estimated
variously at up to 20 000. Thousands more were tortured.

Barely a year after he led the force that committed such heinous crimes
against humanity in Matabeleland Shiri was invited to study at the British
Ministry of Defence's most prestigious college.

In 1986 Shiri enrolled at the Royal College of Defence Studies in London, an
institution that describes itself as "the senior defence academic
institution in the United Kingdom, the most prestigious institution of its
kind in the world".

The largely uncommunicative Shiri, who remains a bachelor in his fifties, is
now a member of the Joint Operations Command (JOC), along with Constantine
Chiwenga, also not a man of too many words. The two were classmates in
school more than three decades ago. Chiwenga now commands the Zimbabwe
Defence Forces.

The JOC is widely regarded as having effectively usurped executive power
from Mugabe once he lost the presidential election in March 2008. It is
chaired by highly ambitious presidential hopeful, Emmerson Mnangagwa,
formerly Minister of Rural Housing. It is the JOC which reportedly dissuaded
Mugabe from throwing in the towel in the face of humiliating defeat. Shiri
is alleged to have played a leading role in Operation Mavhotera Papi, the
campaign of ruthless violence launched against MDC supporters in the run-up
to the June 27 presidential election re-run.

Shiri and Chiwenga were young Form Three schoolboys at Mount St Mary's
Mission in the Hwedza District when they absconded from school one night to
join ZANLA and the liberation struggle in Mozambique in 1973.

In a rare coincidence, the two schoolboys would rise to become commander of
the Air Force and commander of the Defence Forces in Zimbabwe after

Zimbabweans have the duo's limited academic background, notwithstanding
Shiri's attendance at the Royal College and their lack of political acumen
and vision to thank for the fact that there has not been a coup attempt
since the defeat of Mugabe at the polls on March 29, 2008.

Chiwenga and Shiri are content to enjoy Mugabe's patronage and protection as
they amass unbridled wealth, some of it corruptly. By 2002 Chiwenga was the
proud owner of eight houses and mansions in Harare and Marondera, that was
apart from commercial farms. A company belonging to Chiwenga's wife, the
controversial Jocelyn Chiwenga, has been awarded contracts, going back to
the 1990s to supply protective clothing to the army, the police and the Air
Force and many government departments.

One line of speculation surrounding the alleged assassination of Shiri is
that if indeed, he sustained any injury on December 14, it might have been
self-inflicted. His ally, Chiwenga, survived a self-inflicted gun-shot wound
in the chest. He narrowly missed his heart when he attempted to commit
suicide after he failed a military examination in the early 1980s.

In sympathy, Mugabe ordered that Chiwenga be promoted to commander of the
Zimbabwe National Army's One Brigade in Bulawayo. Chiwenga has never looked

Surprisingly, no arrest has been made in connection with Shiri's alleged
assassination attempt, three weeks after the event. Neither has there been
any report on the progress, if any, made by the investigators.

When the Liberation War Veterans Compensation Fund was looted by Zanu-PF and
government officials as well as by top-ranking defence force officers back
in 1997, Shiri was one of the beneficiaries.

He was paid a total of Z$90 249, then quite a substantial amount of money,
after the late Dr Chenjerai Hunzvi, who led the subsequent commercial farm
invasions with Shiri in 2000, assessed the Air Force commander in 1997 as
being afflicted with "poly-arthritis and mental stress disorder".

As I write in my book, Against the Grain, "There was understandable disquiet
at the mere suggestion that Shiri, who had commanded the Korean-trained Five
Brigade during the ferocious Gukurahundi blitz might, after all, be mentally

Another looter of the fund, now the police Commissioner-General, Augustine
Chihuri, pocketed Z$138 645 after the creative Hunzvi diagnosed "dermatitis
of both feet".

Chihuri also sits on the JOC.

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Zimbabwe delays school term by 2 weeks

Posted to the web: 06/12/2009 21:59:13
ZIMBABWE on Tuesday delayed the new school term by two weeks as it emerged
that last year's Grade 7 examination papers had still not been marked.

Students starting their secondary education need the results for enrolment,
but teachers have refused to participate in the marking over poor pay.

A statement released by the acting Education Minister Aeneas Chigwedere said
schools would now open on January 27, from the original January 13 opening.

Grade 7 results traditionally come out on the first weekend of December,
allowing parents and their children at least a month to find places in
secondary schools. The stand-off between the government and the markers
leaves parents with a short space of time to find suitable schools for their

A lecturer at the Harare Polytechnic said markers declined "absurdly low"
payments offered by the Higher Education Examination Council (Hexco) at a
meeting last week.

The markers were told at the same meeting that the United Nations Scientific
and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) had stepped in to bail out the
cash-strapped Zimbabwe government by financing the marking.

A marker who asked not to be named said UNESCO had offered to pay them
US$200 per script, but Hexco said it would pay out in Zimbabwean dollars -- 
about Z$3 billion at the official rate which is not enough to buy US$1 on
the dominant parallel market.

"The lecturers told Hexco that they wanted the payment in US dollars and
half of the money should be paid in cash, not cheques," said the marker.

A number of government schools, battling hyperinflation and the apparent
dollarisation of the economy, have told parents that starting this term,
fees would be payable in foreign currency.

At Harare's Courtney Selous Primary School, parents were told last week that
each student would pay US$50 for the term. At Kuwadzana 4 Primary School,
parents were told that they had to fork out R20 per month.

The Zimbabwe National Students Union (Zinasu) said "no learning took place"
last year, and warned that "a generation has been wasted".

"The questions we continue to ask ourselves is that what will happen to the
school kids, college and university students who have lost valuable learning
time? What will be the consequences of the current developments on our
economy and country in future?," Zinasu said in a statement.

The students body called on President Robert Mugabe and his rivals Morgan
Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara to "put the interests of the people and the
country first". The three leaders have failed to form a government after
signing a power sharing deal on September 15.

"The people have been patient enough. If you intend to form the inclusive
government, let that be now. If you have other ideas then let us know now,"
the students demanded, while urging Tsvangirai to end his three-month exile
from the country. "Come back and lead," they urged the MDC leader who is
currently in South Africa.

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Mugabe set for rare visit to Russia

By Lebo Nkatazo
Posted to the web: 06/01/2009 21:18:12
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe is planning a working visit to Russia during his
annual holiday which ends on January 22, a senior government source said

Mugabe will use the trip, details of which are shrouded in secrecy, to seek
closer strategic ties with Moscow, a senior government official told New

With a power sharing agreement signed with the opposition stalled amid calls
from western powers, particularly Britain and the United States, for him to
step down, Mugabe "will seek a new alliance with Russia that will secure
Zimbabwe's sovereignty and provide a new front for combating economic
sanctions that have created nothing but misery for ordinary people",
according to the official.

The source added, without elaborating, that the "new front" is linked to the
"exploitation of a strategic resource that God has given to Zimbabwe and
which could be used to give the country a much-needed new lease of life".

A well-structured injection of between US$5 billion and US$10 billion,
Mugabe's aides believe, can stabilise the country's economic decline and
give the 84-year-old leader some breathing space to pursue an elusive
political settlement that he has been battling to forge with the two MDC

Mugabe has not visited Russia since June 1987, and the only other trip he is
known to have made before that was a 1985 visit to the Kremlin.

Russia was the last of the world's super powers to get an embassy in
Zimbabwe after independence in 1980. Mugabe always saw the former Soviet
Union as an ally of his former rival, the late Joshua Nkomo, and has made
little diplomatic efforts to secure a political alliance, initially
favouring Britain and now China.

But after Russia joined China in blocking a British and US-sponsored UN
resolution imposing sanctions on Zimbabwe last July, and a political
stand-off which has accelerated the economic meltdown, Mugabe now sees
Russia as a potential strategic partner in warding off a collapse of his

New has been told that a potential alliance could be built
around a mining deal on a range of precious minerals including diamonds.

Without confirming a date of Mugabe's imminent visit, the official said the
trip was of "strategic necessity" and a direct response to British and US
efforts to isolate Zimbabwe through a combination of sanctions and
diplomatic pressure.

"It's about time he took the step. There is no doubt that if he had made it
much earlier, the puppeteers and their puppets in Zimbabwe would not be
having the field day they are currently having," said the official,
referring to the western powers and domestic opposition to Mugabe which he
regularly accuses of being sponsored and manipulated by Britain and America.

The official said if Mugabe is prepared to give mineral concessions to
Russia, with an expectation of an upfront payment of at least US$5 billion.
Russian experts are said to have already visited Zimbabwe's Midlands
Province where new and densely lucrative diamond deposits have been
discovered. Exploratory work has already begun in the area.

"The President will be eager to see if these emergency funds can be used to
revive the key sectors of the economy, and of course the other aim is to
prevent any government that might take over in the future from auctioning
these mining rights to neo-colonial interests," said the official who
declined to be named as he was not cleared to talk with the media.

Mugabe's courtship of Russia follows a similar trip by his Latin American
ally, Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, who travelled to Russia in July last year,
seeking to "guarantee Venezuela's sovereignty, which is now threatened by
the United States."

If Russia hosts Mugabe, President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladmir
Putin would be risking aggravating their presently chilly relations with
Britain and the United States over the recent Georgian conflict. But with
world attention focused on the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza, Mugabe may
have picked his moment for the Russia trip to perfection.

Mugabe has threatened to form a new government by the end of February with
or without the opposition MDC which is still holding out for "key" cabinet
portfolios, threatening to undo the September 15 power sharing agreement.

The opposition accuses Mugabe -- in powe since 1980 -- of wrecking a once
promising economy by pursuing populist policies, narrowing democratic space
and tolerating corruption in his government.

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Mutare businessman fights for life after diamond beating

6th Jan 2009 23:54 GMT

By John Fenandes

MUTARE - A prominent businessman here is battling for his life after he was
seriously beaten-up by soldiers suspecting he was dealing in diamonds.

Maxwell Mabota was caught by a group of soldiers after he had allegedly
sneaked into the Chiadzwa diamond fields last week to buy the precious gems.

He has since been detained at a private hospital where his life is said to
be in danger.

Sources close to the police said he suffered severe internal injuries which
require an urgent special operation.

During the assault the soldiers are alleged to have stolen about US$11 000
and a cell phone from him. They also impounded his vehicle.

Police sources said Mabota went to Chiadzwa after he was allegedly called by
soldiers who claimed they wanted to sell him diamonds.

But after successfully transacting with the group of soldiers and while on
his way out of the diamond fields, Mabota was waylaid and caught by a
different group of soldiers who demanded to know what a "civilian" was doing
in the diamond fields.

"From there all hell broke loose as the soldiers took turns to beat him us
using all sorts of objects and clenched fists and boots," a police officer
who spoke on condition he was not named, said.

"They started beating him up until he fell unconscious," said another police
source. "They took him to Mutare Central Police Station where he was
immediately rushed to a private hospital by his wife."

Mabota's wife and other close family members declined to comment.

Soldiers guarding the Chiadzwa diamond fields have gained notoriety for
being brutal towards individuals they suspect to be dealing with the
precious stones.

When they launched an operation to rid the fields of illegal miners and
buyers they were accused by human rights groups of using heavy handed

The rights groups estimate about 106 people were killed by the soldiers
during the campaign to clear Chiadzwa of illegal miners and buyers.

Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights said the soldiers were committing

During the campaign several businesspeople that were believed to have been
dealing in diamonds were beaten up and taken to the diamond fields to fill
up gullies created by illegal miners.

They were forced to use their hands to fill up the gullies.

Hundreds of previously impoverished people have amassed wealth in excess of
several hundred thousands United States Dollars during the past two years as
a result of selling diamonds.

But the government has stopped all activities on the gro

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Daily cholera update, 06 Jan 2009

 Full_Report (pdf* format - 204.2 Kbytes)

* Please note that daily information collection is a challenge du to communication and staff constraints. On-going data cleaning may result in an increase or decrease in the numbers. Any change will then be explained.

** Daily information on new deaths should not imply that these deaths occurred in cases reported that day. Therefore daily CFRs >100% may occasionally result

1- Highlights of the day:

- 1080 cases and 21 deaths added today (in comparison 675 cases and 59 deaths yesterday)

- 60 % of the districts affected have reported today (33 out of 55 affected districts)

- 88.7 % of districts reported to be affected (55 districts/62)

- All 10 of the country's provinces are affected

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Hungry villagers overturn Chief's car

Source: The Zimbabwean

Date: 06 Jan 2009

CHIVHU, January 6 2009 - Chief Musarurwa of Chivhu communal lands had his
vehicle overturned by angry villagers on new year's eve at Magamba shopping
centre, eighteen kilometres after Chivhu along the Buhera road, after he had
attempted to prevent World Food Programe officials from distributing food

The drama started after the arrival of WFP officers at the shopping centre,
where villagers had gathered to receive food aid, when some suspected Zanu
PF youths, clad in the party's regalia and led by the Zanu PF losing
councillor for the area, a Ms Mupfumi, sister to Manicaland businessman Isso
Mupfumi, arrived and disturbed the gathering.

The youths ordered WFP officers to stop distributing food aid, accusing them
of having bypassed protocol. They claimed that food aid was supposed to be
distributed by chief Musarurwa, whom they said was on his way to the
shopping centre.

In no time chief Musarurwa arrived in his pick up truck and orderd the WFP
officials to stop distributing food aid. Upon hearing that food aid
distribution had been stopped, villagers got angry and started shouting at
the chief and his team.

The villagers accused the chief of being corrupt and diverting donor aid and
distributing it along party lines. They indicated that before the WFP
intervened, the chief and his ZANU PF supporters used to source maize from
the nearby Grain Markerting Board and then sell it to the poor villagers.

Realising that the villagers were becoming more angry, Chief Musarurwa
rushed into his car and tried to drive away, but the vehicle was overturned
by the mob, forcing WFP officers to intervene.

The World Food Programme officials later explained to villagers that they
were only interested in giving out food aid and not in politics, before
postponing the distribution process to January 2.

On 2 January the food aid distribution went on smoothly, with villagers
receiving a 50Kg of maize, 5 litre of cooking oil and 5 kilogrammes of cow
peas per house hold.

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Chinamasa appointed acting Finance Minister

Tuesday, 06 January 2009 20:31

After he wielded the axe and dismissed several ministers from his
government, ostensibly for failing to secure their parliamentary seats
during the watershed March 29 election last year, Robert Mugabe has
appointed acting ministers to take the place left my the dismissed

Patrick Chinamasa, who was defeated in Makoni Central, was spared the axe
and has instead been appointed to be the acting Minister of Finance.

Chinamasa was nominated as ZANU-PF's candidate for the House of Assembly
seat from Makoni Central in the March 2008 parliamentary election, but he
was defeated. Chinamasa received 4 050 votes against 7,060 for John Nyamande
of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)

Chinamasa, who has Minister of Justice and the chief negotiator for ZANU-PF
during the GNU talks mediated by former South African President Thabo Mbeki,
is credited with helping ZANU-PF stay in power following its defeat by the
MDC during the March 2008 election.

Mugabe has retained Chinamasa as a non-constituency minister as a thank for
his sterling work for the party, the Tribune was told by disgruntled ZANU-PF
official. Chinamasa has been appointed to the finance portfolio when he has
virtually no experience with economics. He takes over from Samuel
Mumbengegwi who was caught stealing fuel from the government and selling it
on the black market last year.

Dr. Joseph Made, who was instrumental in the collapse of the agriculture
sector in Zimbabwe over the years, has been appointed to take over from
Munacho Mutezo, who was the minister of Water Resources and Infrastructural

In 2006, as Agriculture Minister Joseph Made told parliament that damage
caused by a monkey to a transformer at the country's largest fertiliser
supplier had effectively crippled the country's production capacity,
creating a food deficit.

Made said "investigations" revealed that a monkey was responsible for the
extensive damage caused to one of the only two transformers at fertiliser
manufacturer, Sables Chemicals. The company is based in the Midlands.

Made told MPs: "Our investigations have shown that a monkey caused damage to
a transformer thereby sabotaging our preparations for the coming season. If
it was not for that monkey, the situation was not going to be as bad.

"We now have to import a huge chunk of our fertiliser requirements from
neighbouring South Africa. Repairs to the transformer take about six
 months." Made told MPs that the monkey "tampered" with the transformer and
was electrocuted in the process.

Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, who was the minister of information and publicity, was
fired and his place has beeen offered to Paul Mangwana. Ndlovu was nominated
as ZANU-PF's candidate for the House of Assembly seat from Pelandaba-Mpopoma
constituency in Bulawayo in the March 2008 parliamentary election. He
launched his campaign by slaughtering a beast and giving away bicycles to
some of the people who attended his rally at Nkulumane Primary School, an
act that his critics described as a gimmick to buy votes.

Milford Gwetu, an MP for the Movement for Democratic Change who was running
for re-election in the same constituency as Ndlovu, died during the
campaign, and as a result the election there was delayed. In the postponed
election held on 27 June 2008, Ndlovu was defeated by MDC candidate Samuel
Sandla Khumalo.

Ndlovu, who once called Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel a "NAZI remnant",
is credited with starting the absurd claim that the cholera outbreak in
Zimbabwe was the partof a biological war being waged on Zimbabwe by the

Mangwana, over the past decade, has served as minister of State Enterprises
and Parastatals, Labour and Social Welfare, Minister of Information, and
recently Minister of Indigenisation and Empowerment.

Minister of Defence Sydney Sekeramayi is the Acting Minister of Mines and
Mining Development, taking over from Cde Amos Midzi, who lost in the Epworth
House of Assembly constituency to  Eliah Jembere of the MDC-T.

Minister of Economic Development Sylvester Nguni is the Acting Minister of
Agriculture following the departure of  Rugare Gumbo. Gumbo lost in Zanu-PF
primaries to Makhosini Hlongwane in Mberengwa East House of Assembly

The Minister of Small to Medium Enterprises Development, Sithembiso Nyoni,
is the Acting Minister of Women's Affairs, Gender and Community Development,
taking over from Oppah Muchinguri. Muchinguri lost to Mr Trevor Saruwaka in
Mutasa Central House of Assembly constituency.

Mashonaland East Governor and Resident Minister  Aeneas Chigwedere is
continuing as the Minister of Education, Sport and Culture. Manicaland
Governor and Resident Minister Christopher Mushohwe also continues as Acting
Minister of Transport and Communications.

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Police blitz nets 100 shop-owners

January 6, 2009

By Our Correspondent

BULAWAYO - Police in Bulawayo yesterday arrested more than 100 shop owners
and attendants, street vendors and transport operators for charging for
goods and services in foreign currency without Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe
(RBZ) approval.

About 600 businesses and shops countrywide were licensed by the central bank
in September 2008 to charge for their goods and services in foreign currency
in a desperate effort to reign in ravaging inflation standing at over 231
million percent.

Central bank governor, Gideon Gono said the initiative followed
recommendations by business leaders noted that the move was expected to lift
the depressed local businesses, dealing a blow to the black market.

Shops and businesses that were not licensed to charge for their goods and
services in foreign currency followed suit, refusing to accept the now
worthless local currency and further aggravating the suffering of the
Zimbabwean public.

The National Incomes and Pricing Commission (NIPC) declared such practice as
illegal and its officials yesterday descended on such shops, working
hand-in-hand with the police, and arrested shop managers and attendants as
well as street vendors.

"They forced us to close the shop and arrested our manager. We were told to
pay a fine of US$20 000 for charging our goods in foreign currency without a
licence ," a worker at Bakers Inn food outlet along Fort Street told The
Zimbabwe Times in Bulawayo.

The worker refused to be named as he was not authorized by his company to
speak to the press.

According to the central bank, the application fee to trade in foreign
currency is pegged at between US$ 20 000 and US$100 000, depending on the
type of business, amounts that effectively sidelined small business

"It is better that I close my shop than be forced to operate my business at
a loss by charging in the worthless local currency. I was charging in
foreign currency because that is the only way my businesses can remain
afloat," said an Indian shop owner who was forced to close his shop by the
police during the raid.

The crackdown on businesses in Bulawayo yesterday also sparked transport
problems after commuter omnibus operators parked their vehicles following
the arrest of omnibus drivers for charging passengers in foreign currency.

A single trip from the suburbs to the city is now pegged at 5 Rand.

"All the garages sell fuel in foreign currency and where then do we buy the
fuel in local currency if they are saying we should not charge passengers in
foreign currency. That is why we have just parked our vehicles," said
Mehluli Moyo, a commuter omnibus driver.

Bulawayo police spokesperson, Inspector Mandlenkosi Moyo confirmed the raid
on shops and businesses that are charging in foreign currency without an
official licence.

"The raid is continuing and the arrested shop managers and commuter omnibus
drivers will appear in court soon," Inspector Moyo told The Zimbabwe Times
over the telephone.

He did not have the figures offhand of the number of arrested shop managers
and transport operators. But police sources said more than 100 people were
arrested and detained at Bulawayo Central and Drill Hall police station.

Gono, the controversial central bank governor, revealed last year that
Zimbabweans were spending an average of US$950 million monthly in
neighbouring countries where they were purchasing basics and other household

Gono said allowing shops to charge in forex will see that figure trickling
into the national coffers, boosting the foreign currency reserves of the
cashless state.

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Bennett denies he snubbed Tandare family

January 6, 2009

By Mxolisi Ncube

JOHANNESBURG - Roy Bennett, exiled treasurer of the mainstream Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) led by Morgan Tsvangirai, has refuted allegations
that he refused to assist the family of slain party activist, Gift Tandare,
when they approached him Johannesburg.
Tandare, who was also the youth chairperson of the National Constitutional
Assembly (NCA), was gunned down by the police as he approached the venue of
a prayer meeting organised in Highfields, Harare, on March 11, 2007.

As reported by The Zimbabwe Times over Christmas, Tandare's 36-year-old
widow, Sipiwe, and the couple's three children aged between 3 and 17 years,
now lead a life of near destitution in Johannesburg .

Bennet said: ""I know them very well, but I did not hear anything about
their plight. I am just hearing about it from you now."

The Tandares are now political refugees after fleeing persecution by
suspected members of President Robert Mugabe's dreaded Central Intelligence
Organisation (CIO).

The family now survives on hand-outs from well-wishers, especially church
and civic organisations.

Mrs Tandare, who arrived in Johannesburg in September 2007 and is
unemployed, maintains that she received a hostile reception from Bennett
when she called him to seek assistance on arrival in Johannesburg, where she
was stranded, with no money or relative to help her.

"He told me to go back to Zimbabwe and ask for a letter from the MDC that
states who I am and why I had fled from Zimbabwe," said Mrs Tandare. "But he
knows about my husband and how he died.

"When I told him that I could not go back there because of the threat on my
life, he said that he could not help me. I have not received any assistance
from the party since my arrival. That pains me."

However, Bennett, who says that he was out of South Africa and could not
respond to questions submitted to him by The Zimbabwe Times before Tandare's
plight was highlighted, has denied that he was ever contacted regarding the

Solomon Chikowero, chairman of the MDC Veteran Activists Association (MDC
VAA), an organization established last year to assist exiled activists, also
confirmed that such communication did take place.

"I called Bennett on my phone and also personally spoke to him when he said
that Mrs Tandare should bring a letter of identification," said Chikowero.

"I asked him if he did not know anything about Tandare, and he said he knew
everything. I wonder what he means when he says that we did not contact

Bennett insists he did not engage in any such conversation.

"Nobody ever spoke to me about the Tandare family," said the
Johannesburg-based MDC treasurer, himself living in exile after also fleeing
from persecution.

Zimbabwe Times managing editor, Geoffrey Nyarota disputed this assertion by
Bennett. He said he had sought comment from the MDC treasurer before the
article was published.

"Mr Bennett says he did not receive any telephone calls," Nyarota said. "but
my own message was sent by email on December 26. I drew his attention to Mrs
Tandare's plight and allegations of neglect. I said it was imperative that
he respond, given the seriousness of the allegations being made against the
MDC. Perhaps, he did not receive the e-mail message either. It is not

Asked what course of action he would now take regarding the plight of the
Tandares and other exiled activists facing the same plight, Bennett said
that his hands were tied.

"I am just the MDC treasurer," he said. "I do not have individual authority
to act on the party's purse. I can only act and release money when someone
from within the party gives me authority to do so.

"The issue of assistance lies with the Welfare Department of the party, who
should raise it with the leadership, which will in turn instruct me to
release a certain amount of money, and that has not been done so far."

No comment could be obtained from MDC spokesman, Nelson Chamisa, who was not
reachable on his mobile phone.

Tandare left behind his widow, two daughters - Fortunate (17) and Lilian
(13). The youngest is a three-year-old son, Gift Junior.

After the story of the plight of the Tandares were published, offers of
assistance poured in from readers, who were touched by details of the
predicament of the family.

The Zimbabwe Times then assisted Mrs Tandare to open a bank account in
Johannesburg , where deposits can be made directly in her favour.

The details are:

Bank Name: FNB
Account Name: Sipiwe Mudariki Tandare
Account Number: 62208728610
Branch Code: 2251105

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Southern African Regional Group Pushes For Mugabe-Tsvangirai Meeting To Save Talks

By Blessing Zulu
06 January 2009

The Southern African Development Community is pushing hard for a meeting
between Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and opposition leader and prime
minister designate Morgan Tsvangirai in hopes of resuscitating the troubled
power-sharing process.

A senior SADC official told VOA that the regional group is urging Tsvangirai
to return to Harare from Botswana, currently his base, for such a meeting.

The official said SADC has cautioned Mr. Mugabe against trying to
unilaterally form a so-called national unity government without Tsvangirai's
Movement for Democratic Change.

Tsvangirai declined an invitation from Mr. Mugabe to become prime minister
in the proposed government, insisting on a meeting to iron out unresolved
issues in which South African President and SADC Chairman Kgalema Motlanthe
would take part.

Tsvangirai was in South Africa on Tuesday consulting with top MDC officials.
Mr. Mugabe was in Malaysia on what Harare has described as his annual leave.

Political analyst Charles Mangongera told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's
Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that a meeting between Mugabe and Tsvangirai is the
key to unblocking the months-long impasse in power-sharing to yield a unity

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Walkout By Lawyers for Detained Zimbabwe Activists; Case Deferred to January 14

By Jonga Kandemiiri
06 January 2009

Lawyers defending Zimbabwe Peace Project Director Jestina Mukoko and eight
Movement for Democratic Change activists walked out of court Tuesday after
state prosecutors said they wanted to bring forward a case involving other
MDC activists slated for Wednesday.

Mukoko and the MDC activists are accused of plotting to overthrow the

The defense team objected strenuously to the proposal to bring the other
case forward on grounds that it was "functus officio," a Latin legal term
meaning that the matter has been overtaken by the course of legal events or
superseded by a prior court action.

Defense lawyers filed a motion asking the magistrate to postpone further
action in the case until the supreme court has ruled on whether the accused
should stand trial and whether their original abductions leading eventually
to their being charged were lawful.

A magistrate Monday deferred the cases of Mukoko and the eight MDC activists
to Tuesday and put off the case of Ghandi Mudzingwa, former personal
assistant to Morgan Tsvangirai, among other activists, to Wednesday, in
response to a request from their lawyers that they should receive medical
attention before further proceedings in the case.

Correspondent Thomas Chiripasi told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri of VOA's
Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that Mukoko and the MDC activists whose cases are
linked to hers will remain in remand prison until January 14, when they are
scheduled to appear again in court.

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Despair over new mobile phone foreign currency payment system

 6th Jan 2009 23:48 GMT

By a Correspondent

SEVERAL subscribers with mobile phone service provider, Econet Wireless,
were inconvenienced during the past few days and continue to be frustrated
as they fail to phone nor replenish their accounts after the service
provider switched its payment system from Zimdollars to a new foreign
currency payment system.

The new payment system has seen mobile phone service providers that include
NetOne and Telecell charging in United States dollars after being granted
foreign currency licenses by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.

It is feared that the new system will adversely affect the communication
needs of the majority of Zimbabweans who are already struggling to make ends
meet in a hyperinflationary environment which has spawned untold economic
hardships on the populace.

Econet Wireless corporate communications manager Rangarirai Mberi attributed
the disruption in services to major network upgrading which has disrupted
the entire network system.

MISA Zimbabwe notes with great concern that this latest development comes in
the wake of the appalling state of fixed and mobile telephone networks in
Zimbabwe which has seen subscribers failing to communicate as and when they
desire despite the high tariff charges.

MISA-Zimbabwe shares the concerns of subscribers who say they will not be
able to afford the new payment mode as the little foreign currency they can
lay their hands on is reserved for basic commodities which are now being
sold in foreign currency by most retail outlets. While supermarkets and
other service providers are now charging in foreign currency, the majority
of workers are still being paid in the ever increasingly valueless
Zimbabwean dollar.

Equally worrying is that this development comes on the backdrop of Econet's
November 6, 2008 statement announcing the withdrawal of its contract line
services for clients under the Business Partna scheme as of 10 November
2008, a move which has left thousands of Zimbabwean s deprived of their
right to communicate.

MISA Zimbabwe reiterates its earlier concern that this state of affairs in
the telecommunications industry is a serious impediment on the right of the
people of Zimbabwe to communicate; as well as their right to freedom of
expression as guaranteed in Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and
People's Rights.

This right includes the ability and access to usage of tools of
communication such as the internet, fixed telephones and mobile telephone
networks by ordinary people, as emphasized by the World Summit on
Information Societies (WSIS) held in Tunis , Tunisia 2005.

In light of these universally accepted principles, MISA Zimbabwe urges the
fixed and mobile telephone service providers as well as the Postal and
Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) to act with the
full understanding that communication is a human right and not a privilege
and that telecommunications remain key pillars of freedom of expression and
access to information.

We therefore appeal to the service providers to seriously reconsider the
impact of their decisions in view of the fundamental right of citizens to
exercise their right to freedom of expression and access to information.

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Hope fading for freedom in Zimbabwe, say activists

PORT ELIZABETH Wednesday January 7, 2009


"ALL we are fighting for is the freedom to be human beings." This seems to
be a simple request, but for many people living in Zimbabwe hope is slowly
fading away.

Human rights defender and Women of Zimbabwe Arise (Woza) founder Jenni
Williams says she cannot even describe the situation in her country, saying
it is beyond collapsed and the situation is getting worse and worse.

People were dying every day and the cholera epidemic was just the tip of the
iceberg, she said in Port Elizabeth yesterday.

"People are dying because of starvation and Aids. You cannot even get a
painkiller in hospital and many people don't even bother going for medical
help - they suffer in silence."

Williams was visiting with fellow human rights activist Magodonga Mahlangu.
They arrived in Port Elizabeth on Saturday with other delegates to speak to
anti-apartheid activists like Mkhuseli Jack and Janet Cherry.

She said her organisation wanted to interview activists who had managed to
make change in South Africa through non-violent resistance.

"We have learnt a lot from them, specifically on mass mobilisation. We hope
to come back and organise a conference with a bigger delegation," Williams

Despite being arrested 33 times, sometimes for no reason, Williams said in
the end her suffering along with that of millions of Zimbabweans would be
worth it.

The last time she was arrested was in October when she wanted to give an
open letter to SADC leaders. Before that she was arrested in June while
protesting about starvation in the country. She spent six weeks in jail.

"The truth will always come out - you can arrest the person but you can
never arrest the truth," Williams said.

Mahlangu, who has also been arrested, said she could not even describe the
conditions she suffered under while she was detained.

"It is by the grace of God that we are still alive and survived for this
long. There is a reason why we are here. In prison there is no proper food
and the conditions are harsh."

Mahlangu said at first she had been detained in police cells and then made
bail, but in 2004 things had changed when she was sent straight to prison.

"Sometimes we have been protected by the officials themselves because they
know what we stand for. Even the most hardened criminals will give us
support and motivate us," she said.

Williams said she had formed Woza in 2002 after discussions with various
women on issues affecting their day-to-day lives.

"At the end of the day it is the woman who has to feed the children, who
gets beaten up by the husband because he is frustrated and harassed by the
police. We are the ones carrying the burden of the crisis. So we as women
decided to take the lead."

She said Woza had about 70000 members who attended workshops and training.
"We train women on peaceful resistance, their human rights and other issues
that affect them."

The organisation has managed to survive this long because it operates
underground. "Once a woman decides to do something she does it. You know how
women are - they make a plan," Williams said.

Woza did not give preference to the MDC over Zanu-PF, she said.

"If you are make promises to the people you must deliver. This applies to
anyone who wants to govern the country.

"We are also tired of having no government because everything is standing
still. The municipalities are not working. Nothing is functioning."

Both human rights activists will be on trial on January 22, when their fate
will be decided.

"I am doing this for my children. How will they judge me if I sit by and do
nothing? I am a mother and I would do anything to protect my children and my
country, as long as I speak the truth," Williams said.

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'Gritty' Zim teacher wrote a novel while Home Affairs held him back


A RESOLUTE Zimbabwean who fought the Department of Home Affairs for almost a
year to get his South African work permit, put his enforced 'sabbatical' to
good use and wrote a book.

Zwelani Ncube was unable to work last year - despite having been offered a
job teaching English at Molteno High School - because the Queenstown office
of Home Affairs refused to give him a work permit.

Ncube endured months of bias, hostility and insolence from Home Affairs

His phone calls went unreturned, his passport was confiscated and he had to
pay for unnecessary extensions of his visa before triumphantly being
informed, nine months after applying, that his work permit had, in any
event, been denied.

But the Zimbabwean's grittiness had been finely honed by the many economic
and other hardships he faced while living in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second
biggest city.

There he had tried to support his family on his teacher's income, which was
equivalent to just R150 a month.

He refused to be defeated by the red tape and antagonistic officialdom he
encountered at Home Affairs in South Africa.

"I was treated so unfairly," says Ncube. "I began to wonder if these people
were using their public office to further another agenda." Undefeated, he
approached the Legal Resources Centre in Grahamstown for help and took Home
Affairs to court.

Judge Lusindiso Pakade found that the "delaying tactics" of Home Affairs
coupled with the arrogance of its Queenstown officials constituted
"exceptional circumstances" which justified the interference of the court
and allowed him to substitute his decision for that of Home Affairs.

He ordered Home Affairs to grant Ncube a work permit and pay him R16000
compensation. Somewhere between battling Home Affairs and making the
fruitless 90- minute trips to and from its office in Queenstown, Ncube wrote
a novel.

Somewhat coy about its contents, Ncube describes it only as a
"socio-political" novel. He says it is set in Zimbabwe but South Africa
"plays a part" in it. He says he intends submitting it to publishers soon.

He has a passion for teaching and still intends pursuing a teaching career
at Molteno High School, he added. "But what I also want to achieve here is
to create the political space to write and make a contribution to society
without fear. That space is no longer available in Zimbabwe."

Ncube has certainly made a good start.

His lawyer, Sarah Sephton, describes his legal case as not only "a great
victory" for Ncube but also one that will prove legally "groundbreaking" and
which will assist others in a similar position.

But Ncube's battle isn't quite over. He acknowledges that, despite the court
order, Home Affairs has not come knocking on his door armed with a signed
work permit.

"I think it's because of the holidays. Many of them have been on leave. I'm
off (to Queenstown) on Friday to see if its there," he said cheerfully. - By

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