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Mugabe holds on to ailing vice-president to ward off succession war

Zim Online

Fri 14 July 2006

      HARARE - Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe has turned down a request by
his first Vice-President Joseph Msika to retire due to ill-health, ZimOnline
has learnt.

      Authoritative sources on Thursday said Msika - who has not felt well
since last year but has publicly insisted he will remain in office - had
wanted to quit his government job at the end of the year, a move that would
inevitably intensify infighting in the ruling ZANU PF party and the
government over Mugabe's succession.

      If Msika were to go whoever is appointed to his post, especially if
that person is former parliamentary speaker Emmerson Mnangagwa, would
significantly alter the balance of power in ZANU PF and strongly challenge
second Vice-President Joice Mujuru to succeed Mugabe.

      "He (Msika) told us that the President (Mugabe) had advised him that
if he were to step down that would spark volatility in ZANU PF with former
ZAPU members also sucked into the succession battle, fighting over Msika's
job," said a source close to the family of the Vice-President.

      The source did not want his name published because he was speaking
without the blessings of either Msika or his family.

      It was not possible to get a comment on the matter from Msika with a
secretary in his office saying he was out of the office on business.

      Mugabe's spokesman George Charamba was also not available for comment.

      Our source said the family of the ailing Msika had pressured him to
quit active politics over fears the strenuous routine of his work could only
help worsen his deteriorating health.

      Msika is said to have met Mugabe a few days before the President went
to attend the African Union summit that was held in Gambia last month. He
asked his boss for permission to retire from his government job but remain
ZANU PF vice-president but Mugabe said he would want some time to think over
Msika's request.

      The source said: "Msika later said the request had been turned down
after Mugabe returned from Gambia. "The President felt that he (Msika) was a
stabilising factor in both the government and the (ruling) party. He is now
spending most of his time at home and will probably just remain a figurehead
vice-president until Mugabe lets him go."

      According to our source, Msika, who earlier this was in South Africa
for treatment reportedly for some abdominal ailment, has not been regularly
reporting for work even when he was acting president when Mugabe was away in

      Msika became vice-president following the 1999 death of former ZAPU
leader and pioneer of Zimbabwe's 1970s struggle for independence, Joshua

      Nkomo had been one of Mugabe's two vice-presidents under a 1987-unity
deal that saw ZAPU swallowed by ZANU PF.

      The merger of the two political parties followed major differences
that saw Mugabe send a crack battalion of North Korean-trained soldiers in
Zimbabwe's Midlands and Matabeleland provinces ostensibly to crush an armed
insurrection against his rule.

      But the army ended up killing at least 20 000 mostly innocent
civilians in the two provinces dominated by the minority Ndebele ethnic
group that supported Nkomo.

      Ironically Nkomo died in office after Mugabe barred him from retiring
because of similar concerns his departure could destabilise the new united
ZANU PF and the government.

      At present most analysts recognise Mujuru, who is the wife of powerful
former army general Solomon Mujuru, as the front runner for the top job when
both Mugabe and Msika step down as expected in 2008.

      The succession battle in ZANU PF however remains far from over with
party insiders saying Mnangagwa, ditched by Mugabe at the eleventh hour last
year in favour of Mujuru, remained a strong contender for the top post.

      But the departure of Msika - a former ZAPU vice-president - would add
a new dimension to the succession question with former members of that party
fighting among themselves to take over his post which under the unity
agreement should be reserved for former members of the defunct party. -

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Minister denies Mugabe brother-in-law Z$95 billion

Zim Online

Fri 14 July 2006

      HARARE - Energy Minister Mike Nyambuya has rejected demands by
President Robert Mugabe's brother-in-law, Sydney Gata, for Z$95 billion
(about US$1 million) as compensation for the loss of his job as executive
chairman of the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA), authoritative
sources told ZimOnline.

      Gata, accused of running down ZESA, was last month pressured by
Nyambuya to give up the powerful post of executive chairman of the
near-bankrupt national power utility and forced to accept the less
influential job of non-executive chairman.

      Sources said Gata, who is married to Mugabe's sister Ntombana, had
also demanded seven motor vehicles, including a Z$25 billion sport utility
Toyota truck, as part of what would have been a ground-breaking compensation
package in Zimbabwe's corporate world.

      The package however appears to have fallen through, at least for now
after Nyambuya - under whose portfolio ZESA falls - sometime last month
wrote to Gata informing him that he was not going to sanction the hefty

      Nyambuya - a former army general who unlike previous energy ministers
has shown little fear of Gata - is also said to have turned down
recommendations by the former executive chairman that one of the many
executive directors at the power company, Cletus Nyachowe, be appointed
chief executive officer of a restructured ZESA.

      "The Minister has come down hard on Gata, telling him that the
Ministry of Energy shall work out his package and that he will be advised
once it is ready," said an official at the energy ministry, who did not want
to be named.

       "He (Nyambuya) also told Gata that he would get only three cars from
the seven he had demanded," added the official.

      Both Gata and Nyambuya were last night not available for comment on
the matter.

      ZimOnline was also unable to establish last night whether Mugabe, who
seems not to have come to the aid of Gata in his tussle with Nyambuya, will
accept that his brother-in-law be given less money.

      Under Gata's charge, ZESA has grappled a perennial financial crisis
that analysts blame on mismanagement and failure to adhere to principles of
good corporate governance.

      The loss-making parastatal, which Gata at one time ran single-handedly
after Mugabe had fired the entire board except his brother-in-law, is a
classic example of how Zimbabwe's key infrastructure and institutions are
crumbling after years of economic crisis and mismanagement.

      Because of its unending financial problems, ZESA has failed to expand
generation capacity at its power plants and Zimbabwe looks set to be the
worst affected by a power crisis expected to hit southern Africa by 2008.

      Energy experts have predicted the region will face an acute energy
deficit in about two years' time, which for example, will see the Southern
African Power Pool of neighbouring countries that have supplied 35 percent
of Zimbabwe's power requirements unable to continue doing so because of
rising demand in their domestic markets. - ZimOnline

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Zimbabwe doctors down tools

Zim Online

Fri 14 July 2006

      HARARE - Zimbabwe junior doctors went on strike on Thursday demanding
better salaries and working conditions.

      The strike action by doctors brought business to a standstill at
Parirenyatwa and Harare Hospitals in the capital Harare yesterday with the
two government-run hospitals turning away hundreds of patients seeking

      Administration officials at Parirenyatwa told a ZimOnline news crew
that they were only attending to emergency cases at the hospital. Similar
scenes of chaos were also being reported at Mpilo Hospital and United
Bulawayo Hospital in Zimbabwe's second biggest city of Bulawayo.

      The president of the Hospital Doctors Association, Kudakwashe
Nyamutukwa, said the doctors downed their tools after the government failed
to address their long-standing grievances over salaries and working

      "In line with the ever spiraling inflation levels, doctors are
demanding periodic reviews of their salaries. The current gross salary of
Z$57 million is not in line with the stature and nobility of the profession.

      "Doctors, like any other professionals, are demanding car loans so
that they can have access to their patients who require their help. Doctors
feel that the current $50 million for car loans is a mockery," said

      Zimbabwe is going through an unprecedented economic recession which
has seen inflation shooting to over 1 000 percent. The consumer rights body,
the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe says an average family of six now needs $68
million a month to survive.

      The junior doctors, who vowed not to return to work until their
grievances were addressed, are also demanding that the government issue them
with "certificates of good standing" to allow them to seek employment
outside the country.

      Lovemore Mbengeranwa, the chairman of the Health Services Board that
oversees the welfare of doctors, refused to comment on the latest strike
action by doctors referring questions to the Ministry of Health.

      Deputy Minister of Health, Edwin Muguti said he was not aware of the
strike action by junior doctors.

      "Who told you that they are on strike? I don't know about it," said

      Zimbabwe's public health sector, once the envy of many developing
nations, has virtually crumbled after years of under-funding and
mismanagement. Equipment is largely derelict in the state hospitals many of
which do not have essential drugs, because of a critical shortage of foreign
currency to import supplies.

      A massive brain drain as doctors and nurses seek better paying jobs
abroad has only helped exacerbate the situation at state hospitals, which
remain the only source of health services for more than 80 percent of
Zimbabweans. - ZimOnline

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Police defy High Court order to leave farm

Zim Online

Fri 14 July 2006

      BULAWAYO - A lawyer representing a Zimbabwean black farmer embroiled
in a bitter dispute with ruling ZANU PF party chairman John Nkomo has
accused the police of defying a High Court ruling ordering them to leave the

      The police moved onto Volunteer Farm, owned by businessman Langton
Masunda, last week after State Security Minister Didymus Mutasa, who is also
in charge of land reform, withdrew a land offer letter which was issued to
Masunda four years ago.

      But Masunda appealed to the courts to remain on the property.

      Last Friday, High Court judge Francis Bere, reversed Mutasa's order
withdrawing the letter of offer to Masunda. The judge also ordered Nkomo and
the police not to interfere with "the applicant's (Masunda) occupation and
use of the land allocated".

      Bulawayo lawyer Vongai Majoko, said the police were still camped at
the farm, a week after Justice Bere's  ruling making it virtually impossible
for Masunda to resume operations at the property.

      "Despite two High Court judgments that we hold, the police are still
at the farm but their presence is not required. The courts have ruled that
my client should return to the property," Majoko said.

      Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena could not be reached for comment on
the matter last night.

      Political observers in Zimbabwe say the long-running property dispute
between Nkomo and Masunda has clearly brought to the fore how senior
government officials have used their influence and power to muscle out
individuals from the best farms after driving away former white farmers six
years ago. - ZimOnline

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128 demonstrators still detained in Zimbabwe

Zim Online

Fri 14 July 2006

      HARARE - At least 128 National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) members
who were arrested on Wednesday for demonstrating in Zimbabwe's major cities
without permission from the police were still in police custody last night.

      A lawyer representing the NCA, Alec Muchadehama, told ZimOnline that
the protesters were likely to appear in court today.

      "There are slim chances that they will be taken to court tomorrow.
Although some were released last night (Wednesday), 128 people were still
being detained at Harare Central Police Station," said Muchadehama.

      In Zimbabwe's second biggest city of Bulawayo, the NCA said five
people were still being detained by the police.

      In the eastern city of Mutare, NCA lawyer, Trust Maanda, said the
police had indicated that they were planning to arrest more people who had
participated in the illegal protests.

      NCA chairman, Lovomore Madhuku yesterday threatened to organize more
demonstrations to force the police to release the demonstrators in Harare,
Mutare and Bulawayo.

      "That is the only language they (police) understand, so we'll go to
the streets again if they are not released by mid-day tomorrow," Madhuku
told ZimOnline yesterday.

       Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi scoffed at the NCA threats to
unleash fresh protests if their members are not immediately released.

      "They marched without permission, so let them face the wrath of the
law," said Mohadi.

      The NCA is a civic group that is fighting for a new, democratic
constitution for Zimbabwe.

      At least 400 NCA members were arrested last Wednesday after they
demonstrated in the country's five major cities over worsening economic
conditions in Zimbabwe. Many of the demonstrators were however later
released by the police. - ZimOnline

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SA groups want Mbeki to act on Zimbabwe

Zim Online

Fri 14 July 2006

      JOHANNESBURG - Three South African civic groups that recently visited
Zimbabwe say they will seek audience with President Thabo Mbeki to pressure
him to act to help resolve that country's deepening economic and political

      A 12-member delegation from the three groups - Anti-Eviction Campaign
of South Africa, Anti-Privatisation Forum and Abahlali base Mjondolo -
Durban, returned home this week after spending 10 days in Zimbabwe.

      The delegation, which sneaked into the country without notifying the
Harare authorities of their intentions, said they visited most major cities
in Zimbabwe during their stay assessing the plight of ordinary people as
well as the effects of last year's clean-up campaign that left at least 700
000 people homeless.

      In a report back meeting in Johannesburg, South Africa yesterday, the
groups said Mbeki must intervene to help end the suffering of millions of
Zimbabwe reeling under a repressive political environment and a severe
economic crisis.

      Nopasika Mboto, the head of the delegation to Zimbabwe, said they were
appalled at the worsening economic crisis in their northern neighbour

      "We saw a lot of things, which we feel President Mbeki must be
notified about. We went to Zimbabwe not as a political party, but as social
movements to assess the situation on the ground.

      "We were shocked by the state of repression, the lawlessness,
unemployment, shortage of fuel and electricity and low salaries," said

      Human rights groups have often accused Mbeki of treating President
Robert Mugabe with kid gloves after refusing to publicly censure the veteran
Zimbabwean leader over human rights abuses.

      The Harare authorities have in the past barred and deported several
foreign groups, among them the Congress of South African Trade Unions
(COSATU) from the country accusing them of interfering in Zimbabwe's
internal affairs. - ZimOnline

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Mugabe says Zimbabwe will ride out economic crisis


Thu Jul 13, 2006 4:55 PM BST
 [-] Text [+] By Cris Chinaka

HARARE (Reuters) - President Robert Mugabe said on Thursday his government
was "very worried" about the economy, but predicted Zimbabwe would ride out
an escalating crisis he blamed on former colonial ruler Britain.

The southern African country is mired in its worst problems since Mugabe
came to power at independence in 1980, with chronic shortages of food, fuel
and foreign currency fuelling government fears of possible popular unrest.

Zimbabwe's economy has shrunk by more than a third during a recession which
has lasted for eight years, with inflation running at a world record of more
than 1,180 percent and unemployment estimated at about 70 percent.

In an interview with a group of journalists, Mugabe rejected charges
Zimbabwe was in trouble due to state mismanagement, bad governance and human
rights abuses -- blaming instead what he called illegal sanctions championed
by London.

Although Britain had the highest number of foreign companies operating in
Zimbabwe, Tony Blair's government had isolated the country's economy over
Harare's seizures of white-owned farms for redistribution to black
Zimbabweans, he charged.

Asked whether he was worried about constantly rising consumer prices which
have left many Zimbabweans struggling and increasingly angry, Mugabe said:
"Sure, very worried."

"But this is because of the circumstances in which we are, ... circumstances
of an economy under siege, an economy which should have had a political
environment to protect it from the action of our enemies led by Britain,
imposing sanctions on us," he added.

Mugabe said his government could have imposed a state of emergency to
protect its economy from what he calls sabotage from both domestic and
Western opponents, but had not done so because this would have sent a "wrong
political signal".

"We decided to soldier on ... seeking assistance from our friends," he said.

Mugabe said although Zimbabwe's key agriculture output had been lower than
expected over the last few years due to drought and economic factors, he
expected production to rise on the back of better preparations by both
farmers and the government.

"We expect therefore 2007 to be a good year," he said, adding, "inflation is
now going down, starting a new turn."

Zimbabwe would emerge from the crisis stronger, and politically more
independent, said the 82-year-old Mugabe, who remains at loggerheads with
the country's beleaguered opposition in a political standoff that shows no
sign of ending.

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Minister in stinking scandal


Nelson Banya

DEPUTY Industry and International Trade Minister Phineas Chihota promised to
use his influence to facilitate the expeditious issue of fuel and sugar
import and export licences to a Harare woman in return for an agreement to
enable him to buy a residential property at a bargain price.

The licences, for the importation and local distribution of petroleum
products and the export of sugar, whose local supply has been tenuous due to
government price controls, are some of the most sought after government
documents because the trade is very lucrative. The licences have been the
subject of heated debate, amid charges of influence-peddling by senior
government and ruling party officials.
The fuel sector, where influential ZANU PF politicians and their henchmen
have been minting it, has always been susceptible to corruption. In
September 2004, 60 fuel companies believed to be owned by ZANU PF
politicians through their proxies abused US$268 million which they had been
allocated for fuel procurement by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe through the
foreign currency auction system. Only this year ruling party politicians
exploited glaring policy loopholes that allowed them unfettered access to
fuel at ridiculously low prices to buy millions of litres of fuel for
on-selling on the thriving black market.
Chihota is locked in a court dispute with Sarudzayi Nhundu over the abortive
sale of a $50 billion (at the then market value) Borrowdale house after the
latter cancelled an agreement of sale, saying the deputy minister had not
kept his end of the bargain as he failed to produce the lucrative licences.
Chihota took the matter to the High Court in February in an urgent
application to have the cancellation of the sale set aside. The case is,
however, now set to be heard as an ordinary action.
He contends he did not breach any condition of the contract entered into
with Nhundu on January 25 2006. Nhundu cancelled the agreement on January 30
2006 and says this was because Chihota had not honoured his side of the
bargain - issuing the two licences within five days.
"I do not accept the cancellation of the agreement by the first respondent
(Nhundu) as there is no basis for such cancellation. The agreement is still
binding and I am willing to perform my part. I have not in any way breached
the terms of the agreement.
"In any event, the letter of cancellation does not make any reference to the
fact that I had breached the contract in any way. The cancellation is
therefore wrongful and I do not accept same," Chihota argued in his
In her opposing affidavit, Nhundu claims Chihota had undertaken to use his
influence to ensure she got the two licences as part of the deal.
"The negotiations culminated in an agreement that was premised on two
pillars. The first pillar was that the applicant (Chihota), being the deputy
Minister of Industry and International Trade, had undertaken to give first
respondent two licences, namely one for buying and selling sugar and the
other for buying and selling petroleum.
"The second pillar was that the purchase price was pegged at $28 billion, a
low price considering the property prices that were being quoted at that
time. The fact was that the issuing of licences by the applicant to the
first respondent meant, in effect, that first respondent would use the $28
billion as the initial capital and would make much more money by buying and
selling sugar and petroleum. "That fact induced first respondent to agree to
sell the property on that condition precedent. We believe that applicant is
probably aware that the property is worth more than $28 billion and that is
the reason why he is insisting on the agreement that has been cancelled.
"On February 5 2006, applicant attempted to increase the purchase price to
$30 billion but the offer was rejected by first respondent," Nhundu deposed.
Nhundu said she 'reluctantly' signed the agreement of sale, as Chihota was
still to honour the verbal agreement to issue the licences.

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US blames ZANU PF culture of violence for attack on Trudy


Njabulo Ncube

THE United States of America, which has been critical of the Zimbabwean
government over human rights issues in the country, this week attributed the
violent incidents in the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) to the ruling
ZANU PF's alleged long history of using force to settle political scores.

While condemning the brutal assault on pro-senate MDC legislator, Trudy
Stevenson and four other members of the rebel faction of the opposition
party, the US embassy in Harare described the attacks as a reminder of the
violence that "has stalked Zimbabwean politics in recent years."
The comments by the US government are likely to attract vitriol from
Zimbabwean government propagandists who were quick to accuse the MDC of
being a violent party.
Relations between Washington and Harare have been badly strained by a
diplomatic standoff since as far back as the late 1990s.
Washington has slapped sanctions on President Robert Mugabe and his ruling
elite, whom it accuses of bad governance and alleged human rights abuses.
Harare has dismissed the allegations and in turn accused Washington of
working with opposition parties to topple President Mugabe's government.
"It is important to note that political standards of conduct in Zimbabwe
have been eroded by years of organised assaults on opposition figures, the
independent media, judges and civil society," said the US embassy. "The
moral rot is deepest in ZANU PF, which has been responsible for the vast
majority of the offences. Few, if any, of the perpetrators of these acts
were ever punished. If it proves true that MDC supporters were behind the
attack on Stevenson, it would be a sad testament of the extent to which the
ruling party's desperate tactics have institutionalised political violence
in Zimbabwe," the embassy added.
Stevenson and her group, according to the police and pro-senate spokesman
Gabriel Chaibva, were attacked last Sunday by a gang aligned to the Morgan
Tsvangirai camp.
The main MDC leader vehemently denied the allegations.
Timothy Mabhawu, the Tafara-Mabvuku legislator and several MDC youths, have
been arraigned before the courts for the brutal attack on Stevenson and four
The US said it was encouraging that the MDC, which it described as the
principal victim of political violence in Zimbabwe, had moved quickly to
investigate the Stevenson incident.
Tsvangirai's camp has appointed an independent internal committee to
investigate the assault on the Harare North legislator. The committee is
headed by advocate Happias Zhou.
"The US reiterates its call on the ruling party to negotiate with its
domestic political opponents in good faith and to make the reforms needed to
bring an end to the crises its misguided policies have wrought on a once
prosperous and democratic nation," said the US embassy.

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$15 trillion needed for grain imports


Kumbirai Mafunda

ZIMBABWE will have to fork out US$35 million ($15 trillion at the black
market rate) on grain imports to cover a widening food deficit at a time
when the country is grappling with depleted foreign currency resources.

In a maize production update released recently, the Food and Agricultural
Organisation (FAO)'s Global Information and Early Warning System on food and
agriculture (GIEWS) said its remote sensing estimates indicate that although
Zimbabwe experienced a relatively good 2005/06 agricultural season, its crop
harvest is far below consumption needs.
Agriculture Minister Joseph Made in May claimed that the country, which has
constantly grappled with food shortages since 2000, had produced enough
maize to feed its nationals.
But in yet another censure of the increasingly paranoid administration of
President Robert Mugabe, the UN body trashed Harare's ambitious estimates
amid growing pressure for the government to make an international food
The grim projection by FAO brings to four the number of credible
international forecasters who are disputing Zimbabwe's crop harvest figures.
The United States Department of Agriculture, FEWSNET and the European Space
Agency's Global Monitoring for Food Security Project disputed the government's
crop statistics, putting their forecasts at between 900 000 and 1.1 million
tonnes. The crop forecasters charged that the untenable foreign currency
crisis had spawned agricultural input shortages while newly resettled black
farmers lacked expertise to produce enough maize.
FAO, which leads international efforts in the fight against hunger,
attributed the poor crop to the shortage of key inputs such as fertiliser
and seed whose importation was hampered by scarce foreign currency
"Overall maize and cereal production prospects look favourable compared to
last year's drought-affected output of about 550 000 tonnes for maize.
However, it is unlikely to reach the official government forecast of 1.8
million tonnes announced earlier last month," FAO said in a candid
statement. "FAO's current forecast for 2006 points to maize production
within the range of 1 to 1.2 million tonnes."
Zimbabwe has an estimated 1.8 million tonne annual grain requirement at an
average consumption of 150 000 tonnes per month. A further 500 000 tonnes
are required to maintain strategic reserves.
Nonetheless, FAO said crops such as millet and sorghum, on which fertiliser
is normally not applied in Zimbabwe, did well in the just ended agricultural
Although Vice President Joice Mujuru and central bank governor Gideon Gono
have previously spoken out against dependence on grain imports which gobbled
US$135 million in 2005 saying they were taking money meant for other
developmental projects such as building of bridges, dams and electricity
generation, the UN body said the crisis-sapped country will once more devote
scarce hard currency earnings to replenish its grain stocks.
"Thus for the total Zimbabwean population of 11.75 million, the preliminary
estimate of maize import requirements for 2006/07 marketing year
(April/March) is put at about 300 000 tonnes, about one-fourth of the level
of the previous year," FAO said in its findings.
Gono says producing enough grain will help in reversing Zimbabwe's deepening
economic crisis, which is marked by shortages of basic commodities and high
The food agency however warned that Zimbabwe, which is in the throes of a
seven-year-old economic crisis, could fall short of footing the import bill
because of declining foreign currency revenues.
"Commercial import capacity is limited by the continuing downward trends in
export earnings from main crops such as tobacco and cotton, although this is
offset by rising metal export prices as well as official and unofficial
remittances from the large number of Zimbabweans living outside the country
estimated at over three million."
Although in April the government vetoed the UN food agency from scrutinising
Zimbabwe's crop harvest, GIEWS said its analysis was based on images
distributed by FAO/ARTEMIS and based on the Decadal Rainfall Estimates
generated by the Climate Prediction Centre (CPC) of the US National Oceanic
and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
At the time of the blockade Zimbabwe, which is under international censure
because of an alleged democracy deficit, said it would not allow
multilateral organisations to carry out crop assessments because it is a
sovereign state.
Zimbabwe, which is in its sixth year of food shortages which affected more
than four million people last year, is battling a critical shortage of
fertiliser and crop seeds - a situation largely blamed on low inflows of
foreign currency to import raw materials.
Prior to the decimation of the farming sector and at its peak, Zimbabwe's
agriculture sector accounted for about 16.5 percent of gross domestic
product, 33 percent of foreign exchange earnings and 26 percent of
Critics say the serious grain deficit is largely a result of President
Mugabe's controversial land redistribution programme under which he seized
productive land from whites and gave it over to landless black peasant
farmers who lack the necessary expertise and financial resources.
In spite of sufficient rainfall received this season, the government has
failed to give the new black landowners skills training or financial and
farm inputs support to maintain production on the former white-owned farms.
But the Zimbabwe government blames its perennial food shortages on drought.

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ZUPCO pays billions in Nherera legal bills


Chris Muronzi

THE state-run Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (ZUPCO) has paid legal bills
running into billions of dollars for chairman Charles Nherera since the
beginning of his high profile corruption trial that has sucked in three
government ministers.

Sources close to the case told The Financial Gazette this week that ZUPCO
deputy chairperson Chipo Dyanda sanctioned the payment of the bills to
Mandizha & Company Legal Practitioners, a law firm representing Nherera.
According to sources, Dyanda, who last year illegally commandeered an Isuzu
vehicle meant for senior management at ZUPCO, ordered the acting chief
executive, Godfrey Mawarura, to pay $3 billion at the beginning of the trial
and to meet all legal costs that would accrue during the course of the
trial, which began in May.
It was not clear at the time of going to press whether Nherera would refund
the company.
Legal experts said the arrangement reflects the state of corporate
governance at the company.
Joseph Mandizha of Mandizha & Company refused to comment, citing
attorney-client privilege. Nherera dismissed the reports as lies, while
Dyanda refused to comment.
"Your sources are always lying to you. I can't comment on that because I am
unable to talk now," said Nherera.
In a letter dated May 4 2006, Mandizha & Company demanded $800 million
deposit and an additional $3 billion from ZUPCO.
"As entitled to the board chairman, the indications are that we are going to
be in for a lengthy trial. Mr Shah may need another day to complete his
evidence. Cross-examining him may take two or three sittings. The effect of
this has been to necessitate our requesting an interim deposit for our
services and those of our advocate. To that end, please be so kind as to
furnish us with a deposit of anything in the region of $800 million at your
earliest convenience," read the letter to Mawarura.
Another letter dated June 14 2006 addressed to Mawarura claimed an
outstanding $400 million balance of the initial deposit.
"Herewith a revised and itemised bill for Advocate Phiri. Please settle it,
together with $400 million balance of the deposit, not later than 19 June
2006. Our own bill will follow hopefully in the course of next week," read
the letter.
Nherera is facing allegations of demanding a US$51 000 bribe from
businessman Jayesh Shah in return for the awarding of a tender for the
purchase of buses by ZUPCO.
Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo, Policy Implementation Minister
Webster Shamu and Deputy Information Minister Bright Matonga's names have
been mentioned in the trial.

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Mercurial Van Hoogstraten loses out


Nelson Banya

NICHOLAS van Hoogstraten's quest for an additional 28 percent share of
Rainbow Tourism Group (RTG) has suffered a setback after an arbitrator threw
out his claim for the contested shares.

Retired supreme court judge Justice Nick McNally, who was appointed
arbitrator in the case in which van Hoogstraten's Messina Investments
Limited was seeking to have some 252 million RTG shares allotted to Barclays
Nominees after the hospitality group's $80 billion rights offer,
re-allocated to Messina, dismissed the claim.
"The claim is dismissed in its entirety, with costs. The claimant is to pay
the costs of the 1st to 11th respondents. The costs of the arbitrator are to
be borne as to half each by the claimant and the 1st respondent," McNally
ruled, in a decision handed down on June 30.
Van Hoogstraten, known for his mercurial temperament, has however told The
Financial Gazette that he will not rest until he gets the shares, which he
says were "raudulently allocated to Barclays Nominees by RTG directors."
The controversial businessman, a significant shareholder in RTG, made an
audacious, but ultimately futile, attempt to vote out board chairman Ibbo
Mandaza and CEO Chipo Mtasa at the company's April annual general meeting.
At the core of the dispute is a series of "underwriting agreements" entered
into prior to the September 2005 rights issue, which had a poor 42 percent
take-up rate. Official documents listed CBZ Holdings and Syfrets Corporate
and Merchant Bank as joint underwriters. Both institutions had equal $40
billion limits to their underwriting responsibilities.
CBZ, on the other hand, had a cession agreement with Messina, which was
effectively a sub-underwriter to the scheme. CBZ passed on the unsubscribed
shares it was allocated as underwriter to Messina. Syfrets placed the
unsubscribed shares with Barclays Nominees who, in turn, had an agreement
with Nuvision Holdings for the transfer of the shares.
Messina, however, claims that only half of the rights issue needed cover as
significant shareholders in RTG, including government, had committed
themselves to following their rights.
"It was known to the parties that risk cover was required for only half of
the rights issue because; pursuant to the underwriting agreement, claimant
(Messina) had deposited an amount of $57,5 billion with CBZ as a guarantee
in respect of its underwriting obligation and as cover for any excess shares
over the $40 billion.
Other shareholders including the government and the claimant had agreed and,
as such, were obliged to follow their rights amounting to nearly $15 billion
worth of shares.
"Cover of the other half of the rights issue was therefore not necessary
from the point of view of risk but only as a fulfillment of stock exchange
requirements," Messina contended in its claim.
The ZSE demands 100 percent underwriting cover. As it turned out, the RTG
rights issue failed to garner more than 42 percent support from
shareholders, leaving 58 percent for the underwriters.
McNally found that Messina had no claim for priority over the unsubscribed
"Since Messina was at no time offering more than 50 percent underwriting, it
must have appreciated that another underwriter would have to be involved.
Second, and in any event, it knew from September 15 or very shortly
thereafter, as a shareholder receiving the circular to shareholders of that
date, that the co-underwriters were Syfrets and CBZ. It made no protest.
"Accordingly I find that Messina had no priority over Syfrets in relation to
their respective duties to take up unsubscribed shares," McNally said.

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Tsvangirai condemns violence in opposition


Njabulo Ncube

MORGAN Tsvangirai, who leads the dominant faction of the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC), has slammed politically motivated violence within
the opposition after last week's assault on Harare North legislator Trudy
Stevenson and other officials from the rival MDC faction.

Tsvangirai, whose faction is blamed for orchestrating the attack and has
instituted an internal inquiry into the incident, warned his supporters to
shun violence, saying the ruling ZANU PF would jump at the opportunity to
further weaken the opposition.
"ZANU PF cherishes a society in which violence dominates political activity.
Avoid being dragged into the ZANU PF violence trap. Avoid the use of force
as a means to resolve disputes. Violence is a sign of weakness, so expose
political fraudsters and ZANU PF plants bent on causing trouble among the
people," said Tsvangirai. "ZANU PF and Mugabe must explain how a person can
be attacked by a mob at a meeting the police had sanctioned and at which
they were present. As provincial chairpersons, you must watch out for
dangerous political games designed to tie us and force us to focus
"Let me emphasise the fact that our colleagues who left the party after
October 12 are not our enemies. We must work together with them, just as we
do with other activists in the broad democratic movement, within the
framework of our differences and passions. Our problems are with Mugabe and
ZANU PF," he said.
Tsvangirai was speaking after meeting his camp's provincial chairpersons and
organising secretaries to put final touches to a proposed national
resistance programme, expected to be rolled out in the next few weeks.
At the evaluation meeting at Harvest House, Tsvangirai told officials drawn
from the party's 12 provinces that the democratic resistance was still on
and dates for the rollout of the programme of mass action would be announced
"soon" after consultation with other democratic forces in Zimbabwe.
"We are on our own. All indications are that we have to slog it out alone
before we can expect any assistance from elsewhere. I am ready to lead the
people into that decisive era that shall thrust us into a new epoch.
"Strengthen the structures right to the last hamlet and growth point.
Knit-up the weak ends and plug possible fissures. Assure the local leaders
that the nation is fully behind them in this endeavor. A resounding public
expression of discontent with the status quo, reverberating beyond the hills
and the valleys of our bleeding nation, shall nudge ZANU PF and Robert
Mugabe out of the crust of political denial and drag them, screaming and
kicking, to a negotiating table," said Tsvangirai.
Tsvangirai spoke as it emerged yesterday that police had arrested his
faction's Bulawayo chairman Reggie Moyo and deputy secretary general Morgan
Komichi in Hwange, Matabeleland North, for allegedly organising or
addressing unauthorised meetings in their respective provinces.
The opposition leader said his camp was discussing with civic society
partners the roadmap and other critical political alternatives.
"Let us keep our eyes on the ball, let us target the goal. I know we shall
win, save our country and restore the rule of law. The MDC leadership is
ready for a comprehensive rollout effort," he added.

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Inflation: Not yet time to jump in jubilation


Rangarirai Mberi

WHETHER or not June's inflation slowdown should really be listed in the
"good news" column is the question that central bank governor Gideon Gono
and Finance Minister Herbert Murerwa will seek to answer when they present
their next policy statements.

State media and their usual coterie of commentators have already made up
their minds on the question, cheering the 8.9 percentage point fall in June
numbers as the turn in inflation that many had prayed for. But with the
Zimdollar taking a new battering this week and fuel prices adding fresh
bite, there's little to suggest anybody has been jumping over the bushes in
excitement since the new inflation data came out of the Central Statistical
Office on Monday.
The eternal optimists say the slowdown - the first since March last year -
is, according to one report, "a refreshing trend" that should be "embraced".
They point to Gono's predictions that 1200 percent will be as high as
inflation goes, saying the latest numbers show that his prediction was not
half as off-the-mark as the governor's critics had made it out to be when it
came from Seoul in May.
In fact, one sassy commentator suggested Zimbabweans had got so used to bad
news that they couldn't recognise good news when they saw it - resulting in
them ridiculing the new inflation numbers as they did.
The pessimists are not convinced though, and one told The Financial Gazette
yesterday: "We know good news, and an 8.9 percent fall to 1184.6 percent is
not it; it's not even a trend yet. Convince me this will continue such that
we are back in double digits by next year at least."
That's where the rub is, especially for Gono. On one hand, he will need to
urge caution among the optimists, lest they get carried away and, as
happened while inflation was sliding from its previous peak of 623 percent
in January 2004, raise expectations that some wonderland of economic
recovery and prosperity was waiting just round the bend.
As inflation rose higher in April last year, Gono suddenly found himself
having to manage the fallout from the lofty expectations that had been built
in the 2004 inflation slowdown. He had to face tough questions - perhaps the
bitterest to take of which came from ZANU PF itself - as to whether his
turnaround strategy was still a practicable project, or whether it was some
pie-in-the-sky. He would have learned his lessons, and will likely decline
any adulation that the usual band of fickle optimists and praise singers may
be tempted again to heap upon him - even for this most negligible of token
Apart from taming any false optimism, Gono will on the other hand need to
convince the hoards of hard-nosed pessimists that the economy has not been
damaged beyond repair. It's a tough task, given recent remarks by President
Robert Mugabe virtually denying the existence of any economic crisis.
According to President Mugabe, his critics behave as if "Zimbabwe needs
rescuing". Clearly, Gono thinks it does, which is exactly why he has been
raking the planet - Russia today and Korea the next - for investment, or for
lines of credit to at least hold back the economy from tipping over the
Both Gono and Murerwa will seek in their statements to keep hope alive, even
though they both realise that trying to whip up hope merely by talking can
no longer hack it if such talk is not backed by bold policy that can clean
up at least even a third of the mess.
Convincing Zimbabwe that the government is not really in denial, and that it
accepts that there is indeed a crisis that it is working hard to solve, will
be weighing on both Gono and Murerwa now as they prepare their statements.
For Gono, lowering his inflation targets could form part of that acceptance,
while for Murerwa, it could be more visible - as it could come in the form
of confirmation of a supplementary budget. Whatever they decide to tell
Zimbabwe, they should caution that it will be a while before inflation does
indeed feature as "good news".

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No politician worth killing, dying for(No Holds Barred)


NO politician is worth killing or dying for. The Financial Gazette said as
much in its editorial of April 8 2004 titled Nip Zealotry In The Bud. I
couldn't agree more. Yet political violence remains one of Zimbabwe's
biggest curses. And curses, like chickens, usually come home to roost. In
Zimbabwe's case they are doing just that in their thousands

I will be the first to admit that separating fact from fiction can be a tall
order where politics - particularly Zimbabwean politics known for its
grotesque distortion of the truth - is concerned. But the estimated 1 000
lives reportedly lost to an orgy of political violence, which was
characterised by wanton destruction of private property, abductions, maiming
and rape since 2000, bears testimony to this.
It is quite disturbing that 1000 people met abrupt, brutal and tragic deaths
at the hands of political murderers. Words cannot possibly described the
permanent emotional scars suffered by those who lost their loved ones to
such madness or those that were disenfranchised. To say the trauma will
haunt them for life is an understatement of significant proportions. It is
like saying the sea is wet! Not to talk of the seeds of hatred, frustration
and anger that are sown among the country's citizens.
Some would say this figure (1 000 deaths) is contestable as some of the
reports might be coming from dubious sources bent on political point
scoring. Be that as it may, there is no denying that even a single death due
to political violence is one too many. Political violence perpetrated by
whomsoever as witnessed last week when Movement For Democratic Change (MDC)
legislator, Trudy Stevenson was left for dead after being savagely attacked
by thugs who preliminary police investigations have linked to Morgan
Tsvangirai's faction, cannot and should not be admissible for whatever
Pictures of a maimed Stevenson and Linos Mushonga were a visible reminder of
Zimbabwe's terrible violent political culture in its starkest form. I was
shocked by the sheer brutality and purposeless sadism of those political
attack dogs that were unleashed on Stevenson and Mushonga.
I know that ZANU PF will kick up a stink over my next observation. But it is
a cold hard fact. There is no gainsaying it. Violence of this nature, which
has poisoned the country's political life, has its genesis in growing
intolerance, confrontation and hatred for compromise. This is a culture
which can be located in the ruling ZANU PF which over the years has been
arrogant enough to think that it is the only capable political force in
Zimbabwe with a God-given right to rule.
Nobody needs any reminding of the political zealotry and extremism of ZANU
PF's lap dogs - the vicious Youth Brigade and of late the graduates of
Border Gezi Training centres - who operate under the auspices of an
irresponsible cabal of senior officials of the ruling party. Their reign of
terror that spawned an orgy of violence, intimidation and systematic
bullying of political opponents to ensure that ZANU PF loses as little as
possible politically through the stifling of democratic space and the
expansion of pluralism in the political sphere, is well documented. That is
how the genie was let out of the bottle. Something bad was allowed to happen
simply because the untouchable ZANU PF was involved. But now it cannot be
This partly explains why over the years Zimbabwe has - despite the ordinary
citizens' quest for a situation where those losing elections smile and shake
hands with the victors - failed to hold what can be termed as untainted,
indisputable, free and universal elections. Thus the rash of brutal and
savage murders have not only attenuated voter enthusiasm but public
confidence in the country's electoral system as well, turning the whole
notion of universal adult suffrage (right to vote) upside down.
It is not difficult to see why. Political violence usually flares up during
or in the run-up to election time. Particularly from 2000, Zimbabweans have
grown used to bloodshed during election time. This was the situation with
the 2000 Parliamentary poll and the 2002 Presidential election. Of course
the situation was relatively calm during the 2005 Parliamentary election.
There was minimal confrontation even as politicians were girding their loins
for high political stakes. But it would be naive to read much into that. It
was an exception rather than the norm which had nothing to do with political
maturity. In any case, one swallow does not make a summer!
Sadly this deadly poison - the lack of respect for human life - has been
seeping through the moral fibre of this country and is now rubbing off the
opposition as well. Hence the hurt or be hurt, kill or be killed mentality
now pervading the opposition. This, for want of a better expression, is
frighteningly insane. This is something you don't just see in a country
whose democratic achievements were hard to come by such as Zimbabwe. Indeed,
this kind of barbarism is unheard of in the civilised world. And it has to
be nipped in the bud before it spreads like the cancer that it is.
The most disappointing thing is that in some cases where perpetrators of
political violence are known, no indictments have come down for the
culprits. Even where the courts of law have ruled that perpetrators of
violence who wrongfully deprive others of their liberty are liable to
punishment, the culprits have been let off the hook for political reasons. A
case in point is the 2000 murder of Tichaona Chiminya and Talent Mabika of
the MDC allegedly by Joseph Mwale of the CIO, Tom Kainos "Kitsiyatota"
Zimunya, Webster Gwama and America Mudzvinyiriri. Yet we are told that all
Zimbabwean citizens enjoy equal protection under the law! Unfortunately dead
men tell no tales. Otherwise they would relate the heart-rending horror
stories of their suffering at the hands of the political attack dogs.
Granted, politics is fluid and anything can happen. But why stall even where
there is incontrovertible evidence of these politically-motivated heinous
crimes? Does this have anything to do with the side of the violent political
divide to which the culprits belong?
But what kind of society is this where holding different political views not
only earns you hostility and hatred but can also lead to tragic
consequences? Who said consensus of opinion is a virtue in politics anyway?
People should always be free to agree to disagree because democracy has no
limits especially where citizens are not breaking the law. That is if, as we
are made to believe, Zimbabwe itself is a free society in which every
citizen enjoys personal freedom.
In other words, people should be allowed to organise freely on the basis of
their own political convictions. It is called freedom of choice and
association to which each and every Zimbabwean should have an inviolable
right. And the bigoted and brutal who maim, rape, kill, beat or destroy
somebody's property because they hold political views that are different
from theirs are in violation of that right. They are denying others the
freedom of choice and association. And they do not deserve that freedom
Ideally, these culprits that fan political violence should be brought to
account, political party affiliation notwithstanding. But then again this is
Zimbabwe, where political goings-on are stranger than fiction, and I wouldn't
bet on it. There are political sacred cows and Zimbabwe knows only too well
to which political party they belong.
- email:

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Lawyers should be on mission against injustice (Matters Legal)


Vote Muza

UNFAIRNESS or injustice are aspects of life that we wish we could avoid but
these we encounter one time or the other in our lives because they seem to
exist as a result of other factors that we have no control over.

Thus the lives of most serious lawyers are dedicated to fighting injustice
at all levels of society so that harmony, a thing we all cherish can be a
permanent feature of human life.
The situation that lawyers find themselves in is similar to that of medical
practitioners who devote their lives to saving human life - a task that in
itself is made difficult by the rigid dictate of nature that requires the
mortality of mankind. I have been reminded to write an article about the
cruelty of life, and the apparent weakness of law to wipe out this malady
because of a story that was recently narrated to me by a professional
The story goes like this: A few weeks ago, a forlorn looking client
approached this colleague in search of legal advice after his family had
suffered a double tragedy.
According to this client, so I was told, his late father had through a
seemingly reputable company in Harare subscribed for a funeral policy.
Obviously the intention for seeking such important assistance was to be
indemnified in the event of death, and to lessen the burden on the surviving
family members who would not need to pay much for funeral costs.
Unfortunately while the first disaster was a nature's thing - an event that
was inevitable, the second calamity was a man-made incident - itself a
result of greed and selfishness on the part of the funeral insurance
The deceased had for five years paid monthly premiums in terms of his
insurance policy and at all times, his payments had been timeous. It then
happened that he fell sick and was hospitalized for two months and during
his hospitalization and eventual death he defaulted on his premiums.
Obviously one reason that caused the failure to timeously settle his monthly
premiums was because he had channeled his resources to medical expenses.
Upon his death, the funeral insurance company was approached to assist the
deceased's family at the greatest hour of need but what transpired was not
only cruel, but appears to have been illegal as well.
Relying on an obscure clause hidden in the intricate web of legal jargon of
the insurance contract, the company refused to indemnify the insured.
Its defense was that the insured had violated a special condition of the
contract by failing to pay for the two months before death. In an attempt to
convince the insurers, family members volunteered to pay in full all
premiums that had gone unpaid but their efforts were in vain as the insurers
appeared firm in their desire not to help.
To add insult to injury, the policy was declared cancelled; inquencequencial
and all sums paid for the five years were declared forfeited. As a result
the bereaved family, a victim of the cruelty and insensitivity of the greed
of an insurance company left empty handed and ended up meeting the funeral
costs from their own pockets.
As I said earlier, this story is hearsay, but it is hearsay coming from a
credible source that is a professional colleague. In my belief, the
unfortunate experiences of the family described above are not unique to them
alone but many individuals out there have enriched insurance companies
without being paid a cent under the flimsy justification of breach of this
or that condition.
Obviously both moral and legal questions arise from this sad story.
Starting with the moral part? Does it accord with common reason that the
insurer can enrich itself and refuse to assist a dead client's family during
time of mourning on the basis of a breach capable of being remedied? My
answer to this is a loud NO! I think many people, just like me would find
such conduct repugnant to not only commercial ethics, but to the moral rules
that must bind any normal society like ours.
On the legal part, it would appear that the conduct of the insurer was in
flagrant violation of the Insurance Act (Chapter 24:07). In terms of this
act an insurer of a funeral policy is only entitled to cancel and forfeit
premiums where the insured has defaulted after an official of the company
was send personally with a reminder. Cancellation is also permissible where
it is preceded with a written notice alerting the defaulter to the need to
honor payment. If indeed this process was not followed as I am reliably
informed then the cancellation and forfeiture of premiums was woefully
illegal and the victim of this smart fraud can sue for specific performance.
By their nature, insurance contracts are generally very detailed and those
who craft them seem to find pleasure in using fine print that will
discourage average people from having the patience to scrutinize each and
every detail. Due to an inherent human weakness people rush to sign
contracts without fully understanding them only to indulge in hue and cry
when they belatedly discover how they committed themselves to unreasonably
oppressive agreements.
I place the blame on all local lawyers in private practice who have not
actively other than in human rights matters, indulged in public interest
litigation. Lawyers must be courageous enough to challenge even for free
certain institutions or laws that are unreasonable so that justice can
prevail over oppression and cruelty. The case discussed above is a typical
example of a matter that is suitable for taking as service to the public who
might be experiencing untold cheating by wealthy unscrupulous insurance
It is unfortunate that most of these victims are poor people who do not have
the means to challenge rich corporate organizations which organizations use
financial muscle in the event of being challenged to frustrate the rights of
innocent members of the public. Therefore it only takes unflinching
dedication and a high level of passion for justice by legal practitioners to
challenge oppressive practices by such organizations. - e-mail:, website:

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Zimbabwe, Malawi strikingly similar


(The Geoff Nyarota Column)
Geoff Nyarota

HASTINGS Kamuzu Banda left his country as a young man to acquire education
abroad. He returned to his country in 1962 after an absence of 40 years,
spent in the United States and the United Kingdom.

He assumed power as Prime Minister of the new Republic of Malawi in 1963.
When Malawi was declared a one-party republic in 1966 he became president.
Five years later, he declared himself president for life.
At the time of his return Banda had become a virtual foreigner in his own
country, so totally dissociated from the lives of ordinary Malawians. He
founded the formidable and much feared women's league, Chitukuko Cha Amai
MuMalawi. In Zimbabwe Zanu-PF also established a women's league but it did
not become quite as powerful as its Malawian counterpart.
With the help of the equally fearsome Youth Brigade, Banda ran a repressive
police state. Dissent was not in any way tolerated. Malawians were required
to carry a membership card of his Malawi Congress Party, to be presented in
random inspections by the police.
In Zimbabwe, the Green Bombers have become an equally awesome instrument of
state control, enforcing the mandatory carrying of a Zanu-PF membership
cards in the rural areas, especially during election campaigns and the
distribution of relief food.
Banda's order of priorities was somewhat askew. While millions of Malawians
wallowed in abject poverty he created such monuments to his own eccentricity
as the Kamuzu Academy, modeled on the famous Eton College of England.
At the Malawian academy, the children of the rich and the politically
well-connected were taught Latin and Ancient Greek by expatriate classics
tutors. They were punished severely if they were caught conversing in
indigenous Chichewa or Chinyanja within the well-manicured school grounds.
On his return to Malawi, Banda no longer spoke his native Chichewa and, as a
result, Malawians had to endure, for the next 31 years, the indignity of
their Head of State addressing them in English through an interpreter.
Malawians never tire of relating the ordeal of one such interpreter in the
early days of Banda's rule.
"Before I arrived back home to rescue you," Banda waxed lyrical while
warming up to what was a popular theme in the early days of the
life-presidency, "you Malawians were suffering."
The interpreter rendered this into the most appropriate Chichewa.
"Yourself included, Mr Interpreter" the President chuckled menacingly.
Not unexpectedly, the more politically astute among his compatriots began to
voice disenchantment with the rule of His Excellency, the Life President,
the Ngwazi, Dr Hastings Kamuzu Banda - as he was now officially called - and
woe unto any journalist who failed to recite this full title on radio or in
a newspaper story. Banda reacted to the voices of discontent viciously.
His political rivals, such as Kanyama Chiume, were exiled while others such
as Dick Matenje and Dr Attati Mpakati were killed, their bodies allegedly
thrown to the crocodiles of the Shire River. The more fortunate were merely
imprisoned in the wilderness of Mikuyu Prison, far away from the nearest
It is believed that Banda accumulated a mind-boggling US$320 million in
personal assets during 31 years of one-party rule. The extent of the wealth
accumulated by President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe over 26 years in office
has eluded estimation.
After he lost the democratic elections of 1994, Banda died in a hospital in
South Africa on November 25, 1977. He was rumoured to be 101 years old. His
death certificate stated that he was 99 years old. Going by his death
certificate, Banda contested, quite unbelievably, for a new term of office
at the very ripe old age of 96.
While, unlike Banda, Mugabe is the epitome of bilingual eloquence in English
and his indigenous Shona, certain elements of his administrative style are
straight out of the Banda manual on presidency.
Hundreds have disappeared while thousands have died for political reasons in
the period after independence, the worst case being those massacred during
the Gukurahundi atrocities in Matabeleland.
The most remarkable disappearance, without trace or plausible explanation
thereafter, was that of Rashiwe Guzha in 1990. She was the girlfriend of
former CIO director, Eddison Shirihuru. The slayings of MDC activists
Tichaona Chiminya and Talent Mabika as well as a number of white farmers in
2000 were particularly tragic.
The most remarkable similarity between Banda and Mugabe is that both got to
know their people when they were already ensconced in State House.
After he trained as a school teacher at Kutama Mission, close to his
village, Mugabe secured his first teaching job at Dadaya Mission near the
Midlands mining town of Shabani, now Zvishavane.
From Dadaya, the young Mugabe crossed into South Africa, where he enrolled
for a BA degree at Fort Hare.
On his return to Rhodesia, Mugabe taught briefly in the Midlands before he
journeyed to Northern Rhodesia, where he became a lecturer in a teacher
training college. He then crossed the continent to the west coast where
Ghana had attained its independence.
In 1961, he returned to his country and settled in Salisbury for the first
time. He became a school teacher at Highfields Community School under the
late Josiah Chinamano, the former PF-Zapu vice president. Mugabe also became
heavily involved in nationalist politics.
How a product of Fort Hare became a teacher at Highfields Community School
is a mystery. This was a school more notorious for the delinquency of its
pupils than it was famous for their academic achievement. The curriculum was
more vocational - metalwork, carpentry - than academic.
Goromonzi High, Fletcher, Gokomere, St Augustines, Dadaya or his own Kutama
would have done anything to recruit a teacher as eminently qualified as
Because of his involvement in politics Mugabe was arrested in1964. He was to
remain in political detention continuously for the next 10 years. On his
release in December 1975, he remained in Salisbury for only three months,
while he and Edgar Tekere finalized plans for their dramatic escape into
Mugabe finally returned to Salisbury on January 27, 1980, triumph staring
him in the face. A little under three months later, on April 18, he became
Prime Minister of the Republic of Zimbabwe.
Strictly speaking, therefore, Mugabe gained a working knowledge of the
Harare and the Zimbabwe of the 1980s when he was already Prime Minister. His
background in this regard was similar to that of Banda who assumed the
leadership of a country from which he had been exiled for 40 years,
arguably, with rather detrimental long-term results, in both cases.
While no man is omniscient, the calibre of some of the heroes endorsed by
Mugabe for burial at the Heroes' Acre suggests either a general ignorance of
the backgrounds of some of the people who now surround him or a growing
distance between him and the people he leads. My own personal philosophy is
that one does not necessarily have to be a real hero in order for one's
remains to be interred at the National Heroes' Acre. This is not necessarily
in reference to the former minister of information, Dr Tichaona Jokonya, who
died in mysterious circumstances in a hotel room two weeks ago.
Incidentally, a member of Jokonya's extended family confides that, far from
the late minister's overnight accommodation in the luxury hotel being booked
on the spur of the moment on that fateful night, as suggested by ministry
officials, the Rainbow Towers Hotel had become Jokonya's second home.
This suggests, ipso facto, that the chief government spin-doctor, George
Charamba, may have been more than a little economical with the truth on this
very sensitive matter.
The Jokonya marriage had apparently hit the rocks, with poor Mrs Winfreda
Jokonya hanging in there, as many of our African women are wont to do, "for
my children".
I have had to censor much of the verifiable information that was put at my
disposal about the former minister's marriage since the day he was caught in
flagrante delicto in the company of a female member of staff in the office
at the then Ministry of Youth Sport and Culture.

Saying of the Week
From this week, a saying of the week will be appended at the end of this
column. The statement will be selected on the basis of its brilliance, wit,
sheer eloquence, poignancy or, occasionally, its patent idiocy.
Zimbabwe's Ambassador to South Africa, Simon Khaya Moyo, has the honour this
week of launching the section by providing readers with an insight into the
quality of representation which we are getting from our man in Pretoria.
The inaugural saying of the week is extrapolated from his message of
condolence on the occasion of the death of Dr Jokonya: "He was indeed as you
know, a personal friend of mine of many years and we were related in the
most affectionate tone at all times." (The Herald, Thursday June 29, 2006)
(Readers may submit suggestions to:

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Encounter with Mutambara in the Rockies


Geoff Nyarota

I ENCOUNTERED a most bizarre experience last week when I spent four days in
the presence of a clansman in a distant land without once sitting down to
ask about the welfare of his family, as is the custom of the Manyika people
of eastern Zimbabwe.

From Thursday to Sunday I attended the same conference as two leading
political opposition figures from Zimbabwe in Aspen, a luxury resort up in
the picturesque Rocky Mountains in Colorado, an hour out of Denver by
commuter plane.
Professor Arthur Mutambara, president of the breakaway faction of the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change, his secretary for legal affairs,
David Coltart, and I were guests at the week-long Aspen Ideas Festival
organised by the Washington DC-based Aspen Institute.
I attended in my capacity as one of the 21 fellows of the institute. Members
of the diverse group of fellows, who are selected by the institute's staff
and board, "are young, action-oriented leaders, chosen for their leadership
and accomplishments". While at 55 I no longer feel that young, I did not
protest at my nomination.
My compatriots, Mutambara and Coltart, on the other hand, were invited to
make presentations before the thousand-strong gathering of leading
government, corporate, academic, media and entertainment figures. We Aspen
Fellows have no say in the selection of presenters and other delegates and I
must say I was mildly surprised to see the names of my fellow Zimbabweans on
the final list of participants two weeks before the event.
I immediately contacted Coltart in Bulawayo to point out that Mutambara was
wrongfully described in the conference programme as the president of the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change of Zimbabwe, which quite clearly
he is not. Coltart immediately responded and concurred. He gave an
undertaking that he would advise the conference organisers of the correct
status of Mutambara in the Zimbabwean opposition movement. If he did pursue
this undertaking, his intervention must have been too late. Mutambara was
presented at the conference as the president of the opposition MDC.
The festival attracted the likes of former US president Bill Clinton, former
US secretary of states, Madeleine K. Albright and Collin L. Powell, former
associate justice Sandra Day O'Connor of the Supreme Court of the United
States and Allan Greenspan, former chairman of the board of governors of the
US Federal Reserve System. Also in attendance were distinguished Ghanaian
economist George Ayittey, who is president of the Free Africa Foundation,
Benjamin C. Bradlee, vice president-at-large of the Washington Post,
Academy-winning filmmaker, director and producer, Sidney Pollack,
controversial former Harvard University president, Larry Summers and the
crowd-pulling black evangelist Bishop T.D Jakes, who mesmerised the largely
white audience.
When I said to Coltart that Bishop Jakes should be invited to Harare to pray
for Zimbabwe, the Member of Parliament for Bulawayo asked if the founder and
head of Potter's House, a multiracial and non-denominational church with 30
000 followers, had any following in the country as he had never heard of
him. I assured him the bishop had a following in Zimbabwe. I personally know
of Zimbabweans who have made the pilgrimage to pray with Bishop Jakes in
Dallas, Texas.
My consummate curiosity about how Coltart and Mutambara came to be the only
Zimbabwean delegates attending the Aspen Ideas Festival was short-lived.
I was introduced to Elliot Gerson, the Aspen Institute's vice president for
seminars and public programmes. He professed a long-standing close
friendship with Mutambara and the rest fell into place. Mutambara shared a
platform with Ayittey on Tuesday addressing the weighty subject of "How to
put Africa back on the right track." Coltart, meanwhile spoke on Wednesday
on the subject of "Southern Africa in 2006: a report card". I arrived on
Wednesday evening and therefore, missed the presentations of my compatriots.
Up to the time of writing, my efforts to obtain a copy from them were in
vain. The organisers said transcripts of all presentations would be
available only in three weeks time.
For me the highlight of my four days at Aspen was my initial encounter with
Mutambara, which occurred over the lunch hour on Thursday. Once I spotted
him I rushed over to him, preparing to embrace him like a long lost brother,
which he is in a way. We last met over lunch at Harvard early in 2005 when
he visited the States from South Africa. On Thursday he merely stretched his
right hand and I had to be content with the proffered manual greeting.
The first copy of my new book, Against the Grain, Memoirs of a Zimbabwean
Newsman, which was launched in South Africa last week had arrived two days
before my departure for Colorado. I retrieved a copy and proudly presented
it to Mutambara. Eyes lighting up he seized the book with both hands and
asked if he could browse through.
I was not to see the copy again until 24 hours later. I sat high behind
Mutambara in the auditorium during the Thursday afternoon sessions. As
Justice Sandra Day O'Connor argued with Justice Stephen G. Breyer, who was
associate justice for the Supreme Court under the Clinton administration, on
"The Independence of the Judiciary" and as United Nations undersecretary
general for Communications and Public Information, Shashi Tharoor, spoke
spiritedly on the "Global threat of terror" Mutambara remained glued to the
book. So did he when the effervescent Bishop T.D. Jakes spoke on "Religion
in America" and when Pollack and television writer, producer and director,
Norman Lear spoke on "Television, Cinema and American Values".
I next met Mutambara over lunch the following day. He amazed me when he
announced that he had gone through the book. I understand he is a voracious
reader. He said he had sacrificed attendance of the evening sessions as well
as most of his sleep that night.
"I spotted two factual errors," he duly informed me. "Joshua Nkomo did not
go to Fort Hare and George Nyandoro and James Chikerema remained with Nkomo
when ZANU was launched in 1963."
On that note he turned on his heel and briskly walked away. That is the last
time I ever spoke to the man who could be the next President of Zimbabwe.
Each time I approached him, thereafter, he quickly excused himself and
departed. On the second occasion I pointed out to him that it would be
highly irresponsible for us to meet so far away from Zimbabwe and to part
ways without having invested a few minutes in a discussion on our
beleaguered country.
On Sunday morning I phoned his hotel. I left a message on the voice mail for
him to call back. By the time I checked out of my own hotel at 1.00 he still
had not responded. I discovered at Denver Airport that Mutambara had caught
a Washington DC-bound flight before my own arrival from Aspen en-route to
Boston. On Tuesday I received a communication via email inviting "All
Zimbabweans" to attend a meeting to be addressed by President Mutambara of
the MDC in Atlanta. At the time of writing I am mulling over whether I
should invest time, a return Boston-Atlanta airline ticket and overnight
hotel accommodation to listen to a future President of Zimbabwe who did not
have time for the customary exchange of Shona greetings with a clansman he
met up in the Rockies, even if he disagreed with him on certain fundamental
political issues.
Part of Zimbabwe's current crisis arises from gross arrogance and
intolerance on the part of President Mugabe.
Back in Aspen on Friday I was somewhat intrigued that 352 pages of hard work
over three years was so easily reduced to an offhand "I spotted two factual

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Dialogue with the deaf!



CELEBRATED English dramatist and poet William Shakespeare, whose work has
timeless quality, once said that a wink is as good as a nod to a blind
horse. He said this hundreds of years before the birth of independent
Zimbabwe. There is a long time lag between when he said it and when the ZANU
PF government came to power. He therefore did not have the majority black
government in mind.

But the timelessness, relevance and aptness of that observation in relation
to the Zimbabwean government of today can never be in doubt. Indeed many
critics now feel engaging the government is like engaging in a dialogue with
the deaf. Suffice to say this has been a costly shortcoming for Zimbabwe.
The ZANU PF politicians making up the government - the authors of the
political and socio-economic mess the country is stuck in - have had so much
criticism levelled against them that they have eventually developed thick
skins. They are impervious to criticism. They hear but they do not listen.
Neither do they care.
Examples abound. But what immediately comes to mind is the criticism over an
alleged poor human rights record which heightened during visits to Zimbabwe,
first by UN special envoy Anna Kajumulo Tibaijuka and later by UN Assistance
Coordinator Jan Egeland in the aftermath of the widely condemned Operation
Murambatsvina. The government dismissed both UN officials as liars and
hypocrites. Zimbabwe has also attracted widespread criticism over political
violence and intimidation of political opponents, especially during the
run-up to elections.
Not only that but it has also received a lot of flak over the tragedy of its
over-emphasis and focus on fighting shadows of long departed ghosts of
imperialism and neo-colonialism at the expense of economic development. In
this regard, the government has failed to realise that while the war of
liberation remains a defining chapter in the history of Zimbabwe, it is no
longer going to be a rallying point for the future. It is of the past. And
while there is nothing wrong with being proud of the past, there is
something terribly wrong with living in it. The ZANU PF government therefore
stands accused of forcing Zimbabwean life to be frozen at the point of
However, the most severe criticism and expression of disapproval of
government actions by the international community was over the controversial
land reform programme in which Zimbabwe is widely seen as a country with
scant regard for the rule of law. And it is pertinent to note that contrary
to implausible claims by the government, the international community has not
been opposed to the land reform per-se. It opposed the form, style and
approach which, to all intents and purposes, was chaotic, unsustainable and
lacking in transparency. Land was allocated through the patronage of
politically influential groups.
If anything the international community in fact acknowledged that it was
critical for Zimbabwe to address historic injustices and inequality through
the land reform initiative. It however emphasised that a careful balance
should be struck between legal security and economic flexibility in order to
provide the optimum opportunity to achieve the objectives of the agrarian
Thus it insisted on the need for transparency, respect for the rule of law,
poverty reduction, affordability and consistency with Zimbabwe's wider
economic interests. That is why the United Nations Development Programme
(UNDP) in 2000 came up with an initiative to review the violent and
disruptive fast-track land reform programme. The UNDP, which had pledged
technical assistance if government were to accept its initiative based on
the principles of the 1998 Land Conference held in Harare, was convinced
that its proposed programme would fit Zimbabwe's land reform implementation
capacity and allow for independent monitoring of the situation in the
commercial farming sector.
The government, which to this day vehemently denies that there is a crisis
in Zimbabwe despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, would not hear of
it. Driven by its obsession with revolutionary mantras and hatred for the
West whose dead hand is holding back socio-economic progress, the government
rejected the UNDP initiative. And to add insult to injury, it instead
amended the Land Acquisition Act to allow it to allocate land without giving
owners the right to contest the farm seizures. In the words of the
government this was meant to ". . . bring finality to the land reform
programme . . ." It did all but bring finality to the exercise because
illegal, disruptive farm occupations are still going on up to this day.
Thus relations with the international community hit an all-time low. And
since then, although government does not want to admit it, commercial
agriculture, which accounted for an estimated 40 percent of the country's
exports and upon which the collapsing agro-industry was dependent, has been
going to hell in a handbasket.
At the risk of speaking too soon, we believe that for now, the land reform
exercise has failed and was instead a prelude to economic disaster. It has
neither achieved black economic empowerment, reduced poverty nor added value
to the economy. If anything, it has ruined agricultural production and the
national economy. The agrarian reform initiative has slipped on so many
banana skins because it was based on political expediency where government
paid no due regard to its long-term effects. And unless government begins to
listen to the voice of reason and start to address the strategic mistakes
with regards the land reform, there are no silver bullets or magic potions
that can fix the mess anytime soon. And in terms of economic prosperity
Zimbabwe will remain a could-have-been-that-never-was.

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FinGaz Letters

Certainly no war vet
Hezvo Wezhira, Harare

EDITOR - Yep, Daniel Shumba is not an ex-combatant. He took advantage of the
army and ZANU PF to go into business.

It appears one of your reporters is trying by all means to improve this
guy's image. He is a selfish and uncaring person. When you write your
stories remember that the public knows most of these people. In any case
your stories come from the people.
Chombo does not give a hoot
Revive The Economy , Harare

EDITOR - Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo is one person who does
not care a hoot about what the people say. The man has no integrity

His ministry is in a shambles. The so-called housing schemes he is supposed
to be implementing are a volcano of highly flammable corruption. It's sad to
hear comments that Tendai Savanhu represents ZANU PF. I am sure Sekesayi
Makwavarara represents Chombo!
So we have a ZANU PF commission running the City of Harare. The popularly
elected Harare mayor, Elias Mudzuri, tried and failed to fire Town Clerk
Nomutsa Chideya because Chombo viewed Mudzuri's actions as politically
motivated. What about now?
Chideya has been suspended before an appointed inquiry team tables its
findings, a process which is in clear violation of the Urban Councils and
Labour Acts. One interesting thing here is that Savannhu recently said the
decision to suspend Chideya came from outside. What outside? Chombo is the
outside and strangely enough, Chombo wants Savanhu's views yet the man has
clearly stated that he is not part of the decision to suspend Chideya.
Now William Nhara and his ZANU PF Harare Province have joined in the circus.
Nhara and Savanhu are obviously on one side and Chombo is alone on the other
side. So we have deducted divisions in ZANU PF.
Poor Joseph!
Walter Manamike, Harare

EDITOR - Minister's incompetence. What vocabulary can be used to describe a
minister who does not know when to avail agricultural inputs to farmers and
also does not put or have a proper payment system in place for deliveries
made to the national grain silos?

The very minister who yesterday failed to provide fertiliser and other
inputs makes loud calls for grain to be delivered to the Grain Marketing
Board. He still hopes to meet his target of 1.4 million metric tonnes of
grain. Because he can not pay for deliveries, the minister must not cry foul
when middle men who can pay step in.
Poor Joseph Made has failed to grasp the real picture. If he were a lotto
number or a horse I would regard him as a scratched horse in the cabinet
reshuffle being mulled by Gushungo. This one will not run the race. I watch
television, read newspapers and every time the minister who is responsible
for the provision of our food comes into the limelight, we hear of logistics
that will be put in place to quickly disburse the inputs or is it the
payments for deliveries made? We are tired.
This is a British problem
Mordecai Mutiswa Betera , United Kingdom

EDITOR - It is not that Benjamin Mkapa should or should not mediate between
Britain and Zimbabwe, but with what effect. It is unlikely that Mkapa -
unless one is mistaken - will stand by President Mugabe and say "Iam
Spartacus, too".

Once one voice of criticism of President Mugabe's policies has been made by
a Tanzanian of international stature - notably the UN envoy on
Murambatsvina - the next logical thing is for another to be added.
President Mugabe needs to be aware of the danger of being elbowed into
reversing his policies because of this. We hope and pray that someone from
within the British establishment will visit Zimbabwe - not to praise
President Mugabe but recognise the value of his endeavours and also point
out where improvements may be made. It is a British problem.
Disturbed by Ken Mufuka's articles
Mai Mhizha, Harare

EDITOR - I enjoy reading your paper, but am quite disturbed by Ken Mufuka's
articles (Letter from America). I spent many years in America and have
numerous black friends there.

Please, before publishing some of these, kindly check for accuracy of
content, and relevance. The last thing we need right now is division in any
form. For those who don't have first-hand information, these articles can be
taken literally and God knows what effect they would have, especially on our
younger generation. As a matter of interest, is Mr Mufuka still in America?
If so, when does he plan to come back home?
Bosses get away with murder
Andy Moyo, Harare

EDITOR - I feel so sorry for the ex-Sagit employee. Workers in this country
are not protected by law as any employer who is arrested on labour matters
will have failed to cultivate connections with the ruling party.

The RBZ needs to put its act together. If a bank executive steals from his/
her own company or own clients he/she must be held accountable and arrested.
Employees have been fired by the same executives for being privy to bosses'
illegal deals.
The Labour Court has not delivered justice to workers. Today the executives
live in 20-roomed houses, drive posh cars and run their own business
acquired using ill-gotten money.
On the other hand, ex-employees can hardly afford a meal per day. Trust
Bank, Century Bank, Royal Bank and Sagit Finance were run like backdoor hair
salons. Executives were accused of fraud but were never prosecuted. Where is
Government is concentrating on politics leaving business to criminals. The
RBZ needs to urgently address these anomalies and bring all culprits to
book. Executives have abused their positions and workers. We can't have a
situation where workers suffer while corrupt bosses live it up.
Splitting hairs on MDC split
Francis Mangwendeza, Harare

EDITOR - I find the people who comment on the Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) split to be splitting hairs. The real issue is that the MDC executive
vote on the senate elections went against popular sentiment.

Morgan Tsvangirai read that situation and acted in the way he did and is
still popular as a result of that. This continued cry for democracy and the
educated elite respecting this or that principle is not democratic in itself
if that observation of principle goes against popular sentiment.
They should learn from ZANU PF and how the issue of "leadership democracy"
and popular politics has affected it and reduced its popularity.
It's not ZANU PF's right to decide my status
Frederick Grant, United Kingdom

EDITOR - I read your paper online regularly, and am impressed with its
content and context. I am a Zimbabwean, whether ZANU PF likes it or not, as
it is not their right to say who is a Zimbabwean and who isn't.

That is something that nature herself decides, and she decided that I and
the previous four generations of my family be born in the country known
today as Zimbabwe - "house of stone". This is one house of stone that is
made from the softest stone on earth.
I have had my citizenship of my country denied me by ZANU PF and Tobaiwa
Mudede. Who are they to decide whether I am a citizen in the country of my
birth? I don't care what their reasons are, as worldwide, and I suspect in
international law as well, a person born in any country is a citizen of that
country and even governments do not have the right to rescind what is a
person's right under international law.
A right is not a gift from a government, it is something to which people are
entitled no matter what. I am therefore a Zimbabwean citizen, whether ZANU
PF or Mudede like it or not. I don't take orders from governments anyway, as
they are meant to govern, not rule.
Where do some of these ZANU PF chefs' parents come from anyway? Are
Zimbabweans sure that they are bona fide citizens of Zimbabwe? Some research
on their citizenship status may just unearth some surprises, and if they are
found not to be bona fide citizens, do the nation a favour and make whatever
findings your research may unearth public.
More to Trudy assault than meets the eye
Charles Frizell, UK

EDITOR - I was shocked to read of the attack on Trudy Stevenson. She is a
personal friend and I was her electoral agent in the 2000 general elections.
It was Trudy who gave refuge to me and my family in her house the night we
had a mob at the gate of our house in Christon Bank. I have spoken to
friends in Harare, and the consensus of opinion is that there is more to
this attack than meets the eye.

The outside world has no idea of how low the ZANU PF government and its
henchmen will stoop in their desperate attempt to cling to power despite
their rejection by the overwhelming majority.
For example, there was the recent attempt to frame MDC legislator Roy
Bennett who was forced to flee for his life to South Africa. To me and to
many others, this barbaric attack bears all the signs of being yet another
false flag operation by the embattled regime.
We know that they will do absolutely anything to sow discord among those who
oppose them as they loot and destroy the country. Unfortunately the wider
world does absolutely nothing but impotently wring their hands. But then,
there is no oil in Zimbabwe.

Rights group seeks release of Zim activists

Mail and Guardian

      Harare, Zimbabwe

      13 July 2006 12:21

            A leading Zimbabwean rights group on Thursday demanded the
"immediate release" of 220 protesters arrested across the Southern African
country as they marched to press for a new Constitution.

            "Lawyers will be seeking the immediate release of the activists
because they are being held by police illegally ... they did nothing that
constituted public disorder," Ernest Mudzengi, a senior official of the
National Constitutional Assembly (NCA), told Agence France-Presse.

            "Right now our lawyer is at Harare police station to seek
freedom of these people... two other lawyers are in Bulawayo and Mutare," he

            Police pounced on Wednesday when about 1 100 marchers took to
the streets in the capital, in Bulawayo, the country's second southern city,
and Mutare, in the east on the border with Mozambique.

            The NCA marchers are demanding that Zimbabwe re-write its
Constitution, which has been amended at least 17 times since independence
from Britain in 1980 and which the group said continued to enforce President
Robert Mugabe's stranglehold on the country.

            The NCA, an umbrella body of 109 civil rights groups, said the
demonstrations were "part of the ongoing campaign for a new Constitution
that can help Zimbabwe out of the current political, social and economic

            Police arrested 125 marchers in Harare alone, some mothers with
babies, the NCA added.

            In Bulawayo 83 marchers were arrested while 12 others were
detained in Mutare.

            "The marchers did not endanger national security in any way ...
the law does not compel us to seek from police permission to march," said

            Zimbabwe's tough security laws prohibit marches and political
gatherings without police clearance.

            Mudzengi was adamant that the foreign-funded NCA would continue
to organise peaceful protests to help "bring to an end the political and
economic crises caused by an undemocratic framework".

            Police said they would charge the protesters for "obstructing
traffic". -- AFP

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Arms cache suspect denied bail


13/07/2006 15:25  - (SA)

Harare - A Zimbabwean security expert who had been in police cells since
March for allegedly plotting to overthrow President Robert Mugabe's
government had been denied bail for a third time, said reports on Thursday.

Michael Hitschmann was arrested along with four officials from the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change and four police officers after
detectives found what they said was a cache of arms at his house in the
eastern city of Mutare.

The police accused Hitschmann - who turned out to be a registered arms
dealer - and the rest of the group of planning acts of sabotage, including
plotting to spread oil on a Mutare road so that Mugabe's fleet of cars would
skid after he visited the city for his birthday celebrations.

Judge Musakwa 'dismisses the bid'

The charges against the other eight suspects had now all been dropped, but
Hitschmann was still in cells in the border city.

According to reports, last week, Hitschmann applied for bail again from the
high court, citing the failure of the prosecution to try him as promised in

But, judge Joseph Musakwa dismissed the bid. The judge said: "I am not
satisfied that the postponement of the trial is a new factor that warrants
Hitschmann's admission to bail."

State media alleged that Hitschmann was an ex-Rhodesian soldier.

But, people insisted that he never fought on the side of the white minority
government during Zimbabwe's war for independence because he had been taken
out of the country by his parents who opposed the war on religious grounds.


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Zimbabwe: working for justice

Trocaire, Ireland

against state brutality
13 July 2006

Zimbabwe today is essentially a
police state with nearly every facet
of life controlled by the government
or its agents. The military, police, and
party faithful operate outside the laws
of the country with violence and torture,
repeatedly abusing civil and human

Part of Trócaire's work in Zimbabwe is to promote the development of an open
and vocal civil society to challenge the ruling elite. Trócaire partners
ZimRights have been active in assisting ordinary citizens who have suffered
abuses at the hands of the police and military. ZimRights is a grass-roots
organisation registered in 1993 to enable communities to take up human
rights issues and seek effective and accountable representation.

One case due before the courts is that of Elson Zanza, accused of robbery.
Members of the police force tortured Elson, a young mechanic who lives with
his mother in the suburbs of Harare. On 29 March 2006 he was accused of
stealing a TV and a home theatre and arrested when police called to his

"I was about to have my morning shower," he told Trócaire "when my mother
told me that some police officers wanted to speak to me. They barely allowed
me put on my clothes before taking me downtown on a bus to Harare Central
Police station." Elson witnessed one of the police officers speaking to the
man whose television set was reputedly stolen and an envelope being passed
from the man to one of the officers. While Elson is a member of the
opposition party the Movement for Democratic Change, he doesn't believe his
arrest was politically motivated.

When they arrived at the police station Elson Zanza was whisked to a room
without being registered at the front desk of the police station. The room
was empty and he was handcuffed. He was forced to squat with his arms over
his knees while an iron rod was placed between his legs and arms and he was
suspended between two desks. The officers repeatedly beat him on the soles
of his feet using a sjambok (a type of whip). His pants were removed and he
was ordered to squat. The police tied his private parts with a short string
attached to a brick and he was forced to stand up. He fainted as a
consequence of this brutal and callous torture which resulted in
excruciating pain for Elson. Three months after the visit to the police
station he still walks with a stick and suffers trauma as a result.

Elson Zanza lives in Kambuzuma and the police who made the arrest were from
a different precinct and had no authority in the area. Neither had they a
search warrant although they entered his home and searched his bedroom. When
he asked the police when the goods had been stolen, they couldn't answer

The morning of his arrest, the police wouldn't reveal to his mother the
police station where he was being brought. She spent a frantic morning
calling to police stations in the area to no avail. When Elson was released
without charge he was left in the city centre without sufficient money to
get him home. With the assistance of strangers on the street, he contacted
his brother who hired a taxi to take him home.

ZimRights have taken on the case of Elson Zanza, pressing for him to obtain
justice. It will depend on the criminal prosecutor. His case has already
come before the courts but the police officers failed to show up. If he is
not successful, he will take a civil proceeding with the help of ZimRights
to the courts. However, a conviction in a criminal procedure will greatly
assist his civil case.

Elson hasn't worked since the day he was arrested and he has received some
counselling with the help of Zim Rights. "I have nothing to lose by taking
this case," he said "I want justice and I want to see these men put behind
bars for what they did to me."

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Tsvangirai insists mass protests on

New Zimbabwe

By Staff Reporter
Last updated: 07/14/2006 02:21:47
MORGAN Tsvangirai, leader of a faction of Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) insists his plans for mass anti-government protests
are not stillborn.

The former trade unionist has been under pressure to live up to his promise
made in March that he would initiate "a cold winter of discontent".

Political commentators took his statements to mean the planned protests
would fall within Zimbabwe's winter season, which is about to end.

However, Tsvangirai's supporters have insisted the reference to winter was
just a euphemism.

Addressing MDC provincial leaders this week, Tsvangirai said: "As leaders in
your provinces, you are aware that we are now putting final touches to our
resistance programme. I am happy to note that we are on course.

"Your challenge is ensure that the minimum numbers we expect to come out are
ready. Strengthen the structures right to the last hamlet and growth point.

"Knit-up the weak ends and plug up possible fissures. Assure the local
leaders that the nation is fully behind them in this endeavor."

He added: "As we discuss these crucial matters, let us be frank and open
about our state of preparedness in order to make an informed decision on the
timing of the action."

The MDC, previously seen as the biggest threat to President Robert Mugabe's
26-year rule, now lies divided with two leaders and competing structures.
Former university student leader, Arthur Mutambara, now leads the other

Last week, an MP aligned to Mutambara was attacked by Tsvangirai's
supporters in the most serious intra-party violence since the party split
last year. Timothy Mubawu, the MDC legislator for Mabvuku who is in
Tsvangirai's camp has been arrested for providing funds to a group of youths
who attacked the country's only white legislator, Trudy Stevenson.

Tsvangirai has dismissed the attack as the work of infiltrators.

He said: "Zanu PF and Mugabe must explain how a person can be attacked by a
mob at a meeting they have sanctioned and at which they are present. As
provincial chairpersons, you must watch out for dangerous political games
designed to tie us and force us to focus internally."

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Khethani Sibanda interview - continued from yesterday...

From PBS Frontline/World (US), 27 June

Who did you leave behind in Zimbabwe?

I left behind my wife who had stood by me in the entire three years of my
[prison] ordeal. I left behind loving parents who were traumatized, who were
also victimized, who were also tortured as a result of my arrest. I left
behind a family, brothers and sisters and nieces and nephews that had just
been born from my brothers and sisters. And I left them in a precarious
situation because they never had a home to live in. The only home we had, we
lost it as a result of the 2001 arrest. One of my colleagues I was arrested
with had his house burned down when the news came out on state television
that we were making indications on the grave. And the reaction of people
around this area was to go and destroy his home. When my father saw that, he
made a decision to sell the house. He sold the house for ZW$600,000, and he
was looking toward buying a house in a different area so that if the house
does get burned down, at least he doesn't lose anything because he's already
sold the house.

Unfortunately for my father, that very same week that he sold the house, the
price of standard houses went up nationally. They went up to ZW$800,000 and
so he was looking for a house to deposit with just ZW$600,000. Two or three
weeks later, houses are ZW$1.2 million. A month later, houses are ZW$5
million. Sometime later, ZW$20 million, ZW$25 million, until they were at
ZW$45 million. Today, the same standard house that my father sold for
ZW$600,000 you can only buy it for ZW$150 million and up. And what has
happened to the ZW$600,000? It has been washed away by inflation. Where it
was a fortune, all of a sudden it has become change in the pocket. So this
is how our family lost our family home. And that's something that is going
to be heavy on my shoulders because I will have to work hard to make
contributions so that we will be able to buy a house where our parents can
retire. They are old, and as we speak, my father is very sickly and he's a
worried man.

How do they feel about you being in South Africa?

I must say that they are happy that I am safe and that nothing bad is going
to come to me again. So they have a peace of mind; they know at least our
son is somewhere there, our brother's somewhere there, he's out of all these
things. In African culture we have a saying that says, "The word of an old
man does not fall on the ground for nothing." My father had warned me,
"Don't get involved in politics; I know you are concerned about the youth.
You love the nation so much, but I just wish that you wouldn't get yourself
involved in politics." And I said, "Father, if it means for me to die, I'll
be proud to die fighting for my country. I'll be happy to die trying to help
my fellow brothers and sisters in Zimbabwe." That's what I told him at that
time. And he said, "OK, I wish you well, but I'm going to lose you very
soon." And he did almost lose me. And I have to live with that. The one
thing that worries him the most is that he sees and knows that when he dies,
I might not be there to bury him. I would love to be there when my father
passes. I'd really love to be there to lay him to rest because he's been a
great man in my life and I am what I am because of the way he nurtured me.

Will you be able to go back, now that your father is sick?

I will to go back. It's inside my heart to go back, but I cannot. Because
once I step on Zimbabwean soil, the government will be coming on me with
gnashing teeth like a lion. There are many people out there that wish me

Why do people want you dead?

They want me dead because I exposed the truth at the end of the day
concerning the murder of Cain Nkala. They know that if an investigation is
to be instituted in a free, democratic Zimbabwe, they will be arrested and
justice is going to be effected on them, and they know it's not going to be
nice. Just as it wasn't nice on me. The government and Zanu PF know that I
am an effective man on the ground. Once I start working, I'm just amazing.
I'm fearless when I get to work. So they know once I come, Matabeleland is
going to be something else. I will reach out to those youth and I will show
them the light and I will make sure that they revolt against the government.
That they know.

Tell us about Sazini Mpofu [the other person charged in the murder case].

Sazini Mpofu is a colleague of mine; he's a friend and we were arrested
together. He is an orphan, the first-born son to his parents. At the time of
our arrest, he was the father figure in his family, the breadwinner and the
only one that really gave guidance to the family. When we got arrested and
appeared on national television news, some war veterans and Zanu PF gathered
around outside his home. They looted the property and then burned the house
down. When we heard that, we were in prison and I didn't like what I saw in
Sazini's life in those times. He was worried stiff for the suffering of the
children and that they didn't have a home anymore. And if you were to see
him, he's a strong man and very masculine. But he crumbled and cried like a
baby, day and night. It affected him. I'm happy that I was there by his
side, comforting him. I was grieving also inside, but I had the strength to
comfort him, sort of like council him and give him hope that don't worry,
there's going to be a day that everything is going to be set right. Let's
pray together; things are going to work out one way.

Where is he now?

Sazini is back in Zimbabwe; he is rebuilding his home, trying to scrounge
here and there to rebuild his family and unite his family. ... his brothers
and sisters were all scattered around some with relatives, some with
friends. So he's trying to make the family reunited again.

Is he safe there?

He is not safe. He's doing it because there is no one else who can do it. I
must be honest with you, one way or another, the MDC have failed Sazini
because we would have expected that maybe they would have chipped in and
assisted him while we were still in prison. They did help here and there,
but they did not rebuild the house. So that just is proof enough that there
is really no one who could take the onus upon themselves to rebuild Sazini's

When was the last time you talked with him?

I last spoke to Sazini, it must be three, four months back. And that is when
he had just arrived from here and he just told me how he had managed to
cross the borders and that now he thinks he's in a place where he's safe and
how he has got himself people who are willing to assist him. We talked at
length. He said, "If this time they don't kill me, then that's my luck
because I'd rather die doing something for my family; then I'll know I'll
earn the forgiveness from all of them." And I said, "OK, I respect that,
man, but just whatever you do be careful. Try by all means to be evasive."
He said he would do his best. And until now, nothing has happened to him.

So he's back in Bulawayo. You're from Bulawayo - what is it like?

Bulawayo is a very beautiful city. It is the second-biggest city in
Zimbabwe; it is the tourist capital of Zimbabwe. It has a lot of beautiful
cultural scenery, a cosmopolitan atmosphere, if you like. It is a place
where the skies are blue. And it is a former home of kings. We call it the
City of Kings. It's a nice, nice place. The roads there are wide; the city
is vastly built. And the people in Bulawayo, they are warm, welcoming
people. They are people who have been brave enough to come out of the
suffering that they've endured from the Zanu PF government for the past 25
years. And they are a people who are determined; you can see it in them as
they walk the streets. And Bulawayo is a melting pot for the Matabeleland
politics. Because a lot of people that have stood their ground and raised
voices about Matabeleland - the Gukurahundi massacres - have been born in
Bulawayo, bred in Bulawayo, grew up in Bulawayo. This is where archbishop
Pius Ncube is based - a fearless anti-Mugabe cleric. He has condemned the
government in all the evil it has done on the people of Zimbabwe and on the
people of Matabeleland to be specific. He has been a voice that the
government has failed to quiet.

to be continued...

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NRZ to buy new trains

From The Herald, 13 July

Herald Reporter

The National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) will buy eight passenger trains, 64
inter-city coaches and 11 locomotives from China to cope with the increasing
demand for rail services. Zimbabweans are now opting for inter-city and
commuter trains following hefty increases in fares by bus operators. This
has resulted in overcrowding on trains, thereby compromising the safety of
passengers. NRZ public relations manager Mr Fanuel Masikati said the
parastatal was also refurbishing its inter-city and urban commuter train
coaches. "The programme, which is part of NRZ's transformation, is aimed at
revitalising passenger train services in the country. Commuter train coaches
are currently being refurbished in order to increase their carrying capacity
from 100 to 155 passengers per coach, a development which should immensely
benefit the urban commuters by reducing overcrowding on the commuter
trains," Mr Masikati said. NRZ, he said, was also installing lighting
systems in both inter-city and urban commuter trains and repairing
vandalised seats. "The refurbishment is meant to meet internationally
recommended standards, as is the case in other developed rail systems. The
NRZ is endeavouring to keep abreast with the demands of the modern day
travelling public which expects a service that is commensurate with the new
technology available," said Mr Masikati.

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