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Foreigner nabbed for $62bn phone bill

daily mirror

Fortune Mbele
issue date :2006-Jun-10

A CONGOLESE national has been arrested for allegedly diverting four TelOne phone lines to two of his apartments in the Avenues area of Harare incurring a bill of $62 billion.

Ian Koko Murwira (39) from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) allegedly made several local and international calls resulting in the huge bill.
Murwira allegedly connived with yet to be identified accomplices on the run and diverted lines from the President’s Office club chambers, the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings (ZBH) and TelOne technical lines.
He was charged with two counts of contravening the Posts and Telecommunications Act.
According to the Act, it is illegal to affix or attach any wire conductor or any other thing to any telecommunications line belonging to or used by a telecom licencee without the authority of TelOne.
Allegations are that Murwira stayed at Nantwich Court in Flat Number 9 along Baines Avenue between December 2003 and December 2005 before he moved to Rembrandt Court along Josiah Chinamano Avenue.
He, however, remained the official tenant at Nantwich.
Between August 2005 and May this year, Murwira allegedly connived with some people and illegally re-routed Harare numbers 707368 supposed to belong to the President’s Office, 703431 (ZBH) and 704428 (TelOne Unit 3) to the Nantwich apartment without the consent of the national fixed telephone provider.
He allegedly made various local and international calls prejudicing TelOne of $44 536 595 336 in unpaid bills.
In the other case, allegations are that during the same period he diverted a TelOne Electronic Repair Centre, Harare line 703573 to his Rembrandt Court flat. He is accused of having made numerous calls accumulating a bill of $17 442 480 992 in the process.
The State alleges that in both circumstances there was originally no line linking Murwira to the flats, as he had never applied to TelOne for the lines.
The alleged offences were unearthed after TelOne officials detected the unpaid huge bills.
The parastatal then conducted a surveillance of the lines and discovered that several local and international calls were actually stemming from the numbers allegedly linked to Murwira.
TelOne security officers carried out technical investigations using what they call Cablines 93 – a system responsible for issuing lines to the Avenues area – and discovered that the concerned lines ended at the apartments in question.
Murwira was granted $200 million bail by magistrate Faith Mushure, but his joy was short-lived when prosecutor Servious Kufandada invoked Section 121 of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act implying an intention to appeal against the ruling.
This means Murwira will spend another seven days behind bars pending determination by the Attorney-General (AG)’s office on whether to appeal or not to the High Court against the lower court’s decision to free him.
Mushure had ruled that the State had failed to prove on a balance of probabilities that the foreign national was likely to abscond trial if granted bail.
Kufandada argued that Murwira the possibility of Murwira skipping trial were quite high since he possessed two passports - one indicating he was Congolese and the other Gabonese.
He further argued that the foreigner could not be trusted since the two travelling documents bear conflicting names. On the DRC passport, Murwira is identified as Ian Koko Murwira while on the Gabonese one he is Ian Mourriroi Koko.
Detective Collias Mushambi had also argued that investigations were still premature as the police were yet to account for Murwira’s accomplices.
However, Harare lawyer Joel Mambara dismissed the State’s assertions saying the case against his client was very weak since there was no incriminating evidence linking Murwira to the alleged offence.
The lawyer said TelOne must put its house in order, and that the police should have arrested the fixed telephone provider’s employees involved in the scam and not Murwira.
He further stated that there was no principle of law, which called for denial of bail because one was a foreigner.
“It is not a principle of our law that foreigners should be incarcerated in our prisons. There are mechanisms that can be placed into play by immigration officials that the accused stays in the country until the matter is finalised,” Mambara said.
“There are TelOne employees who might have connived with the accused person who are still at large. These are the people who should be brought to court not the accused. To hold the accused until their arrest would be an injustice. There is no guarantee whatsoever that the TelOne personnel will be brought to court,” he further argued.
Murwira was ordered to come back to court on June 23.

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Chinese eye methane gas reserves in Lupane


Sat 10 June 2006

BULAWAYO - A high-powered Chinese delegation was in Zimbabwe last week to explore vast methane gas resources in Lupane district in Matabeleland North province as President Robert Mugabe's government forges ahead with its "Look East" policy.

Sources in government say the Chinese are interested in tapping the country's vast timber and methane gas resources in Lupane in addition to exploring opportunities in the tourism sector which has been in decline since 2000. 

Methane gas reserves were discovered in Lupane about seven years ago but have not been exploited due to the country's crippling six-year old economic crisis.

The eight-man Chinese delegation was accompanied during the tour by Matabeleland North Governor Sithokozile Mathuthu and Deputy Minister of Industry and Commerce Maurice Sakabuya.

"The Chinese and Zimbabwe governments enjoy good relations and the visit by the Chinese was to cement their relations while they were also exploring business ventures with us and we will continue to do that with countries that support us," Mathuthu said when asked for comment on the Chinese visit.

The main opposition Movement for Democratic Change party often accuses Mugabe of mortgaging the country to the Chinese under his "Look East" he adopted after falling out with the West over his government's failure to uphold human rights, democracy and the rule of law.

The Chinese have literally taken over most shops in the capital Harare where they sell cheaply priced and low quality goods imported from the Asian economic giant. Local economic experts have warned that cheap goods from China could force many of Zimbabwe's already struggling industries, particularly in the textiles sector, to fold. - ZimOnline

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A Stick in the sand

Sent: Saturday, June 10, 2006 8:58 PM

Dear Family and Friends.
The news in Zimbabwe this week has definitely been cause for saying: if
you don't laugh you'll cry. Inflation raced up by another hundred and
fifty percent from last month and now stands at 1193,5%. How are we
surviving it - frankly we aren't and yet still the absurdity goes swirling
around in the propaganda mill and no one believes a word of it.

This week one of the main stories making headline news on state owned
television was that we are apparently in the process of reaping a bumper
harvest. An above average rainy season has produced a bumper maize crop
apparently and we should rest assured that there will be abundant food for
the next twelve months. The report reminded us that maize is a controlled
crop and can only be sold to the state owned GMB (Grain Marketing Board)
who are paying 31 million zim dollars for a tonne of maize. There are,
apparently, some "unscrupulous traders" who are selling their maize
privately for 37 millions dollars a tonne and this was illegal and these
people would face "the full wrath of the law."

The GMB army man being interviewed by ZBC TV said that the security of
farmers delivering maize to their depots was paramount. As if addressing
kindergarten, he said that 31 million dollars a tonne represented a lot of
money. He said that if a farmer came with 10 tonnes of maize then for sure
that man would be in a lot of danger carrying around so much money. For
this reason, said the GMB army man, it would be safer if the GMB didn't
pay the farmer all the money at once, it would just be too risky. His
exact words were: "we don't want to put our farmers at risk by making them
carry so much cash around." The army man forgot to mention the fact that
inflation is making the money literally worth less for every day the GMB
hold back on paying up in full.

The next part of the report was that the GMB have now got 80 permanent and
320 mobile depots where people can deliver their maize. The army man did
not acknowledge the fact that the price of fuel went up from 200 to 260
thousand dollars in the last seven days so most people can't afford to
move their crop off their front doorstep anyway.

Then the army man told us just exactly how secure the country is as
regards our staple food of maize. He said the crop was coming in well so
far and that as of last week (around the 1st June) depots all over the
country had a total of six thousand metric tonnes in store. What only six
thousand tonnes - can that be right I thought?  Two and then three more
times the army man said there were "already six thousand tonnes in store
in GMB depots." A few scribbles on a bit of paper followed by days of
asking lots of people for their opinions, the result is horrifying. If we
assume a population of 12 million people, allow an average consumption of
half a kilogram of maize per person per day, then we need 6 thousand
tonnes of maize a day. So, we have one day's worth of food in stock in 400
GMB depots.

The absurdity of this nightmare is the fact that the GMB are actually
prepared to give out such horrifying figures on national television. 
Don't they think we can all work these numbers out - even with a stick in
the sand in the dusty village. If we don't laugh we'll cry. Until next
week, love Cathy.  Copyright Cathy buckle 10 June 2006 My books "African Tears" and "Beyond
Tears" are available from:

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Zimbabwe: Higher education role under spotlight

Africa News Dimension

June 10, 2006, 1 hour, 8 minutes and 31 seconds ago.
By ANDnetwork .com 
The Association of Africa Universities’ (AAU) annual general meeting to review the association’s achievements and challenges facing higher education in the continent opened at Bindura University of Science Education (BUSE), the association president has said. 
 AAU president Professor Njabulo Ndebele, who is also the vice-chancellor of Cape Town University, was speaking yesterday after paying a courtesy call on President Mugabe at Zimbabwe House. Accompanying him were the association’s secretary general Professor Sawyer Akilagpa from Ghana, BUSE vice-chancellor Professor Sam Tswana and Higher and Tertiary Education Secretary Dr Washington Mbizvo.

Speaking to journalists after meeting the President Prof Ndebele said they discussed various issues pertaining to higher education in Africa. "The meeting provided an opportunity for the President to reflect on the role of higher education in Africa and the need for the continent to play a bigger role in promoting education, economic, political and social development," he said.

The meeting, he said, provided them with an opportunity to also reflect on the value of higher education in the quality of human resources that come out of Africa’s universities that was exploited by developed countries. Prof Ndebele said it was important for him and Prof Akilagpa to visit President Mugabe in view of his link with both countries.

This, he said, enabled them to share their personal experiences, with the President reflecting on his experience in South Africa where he was a student and his connection with Ghana. "We examined a lot of personal experiences and challenges facing the continent today," said Prof Ndebele.

"I met a man who is very knowledgeable about challenges facing higher education. A man with a good knowledge of the world today and with a tremendous sense of humour." Turning to the annual general meeting, Prof Ndebele said the 63rd meeting of the executive board, which sits once annually would review achievements made by the association over the past year. They were deliberating on the tenure of executive board, enhancing the relevance of the association and the need to improve its visibility.

The association, he said, played a major role as it was constantly engaged with African Union and NEPAD to address education and human resources matters. Prof Ndebele, who described research done in Zimbabwe as successful, said higher education could make an important contribution to a lot of researches in the continent, as this have a potential value for generating income for African countries.

He commended the higher education institutions in Africa for their power of resilience and innovation. Prof Akilagpa stressed the need for his association to network with the media for them to realise their goals. "We should make ourselves available to media and give you a range of quite impressive innovations," said Prof Akilagpa who admitted that the higher education institutions were not meeting their obligations on time.

Prof Akilagpa expressed concern over the increasing number of the highly meritorious scholars who are leaving the continent to seek greener pastures in the diaspora. "Brain drainage is clearly a matter of great concern to all of us, but we should look at it in a more constructive manner," he said.

He called on the African countries to look into ways to curb brain drain saying it was important to create conditions that would keep them in their home countries. "We are not exploiting the talent of our colleagues in the diaspora. We should explore ways on how we can utilise those on the diaspora to benefit our countries," he said. The AAU, which has its secretariat in Ghana, was established in 1967 and helps to network universities and provide regional forums to exchange ideas. The association is made up of 200 universities.


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Zimbabwe: Msika spends five days in SA hospital

Africa News Dimension

June 10, 2006, 9 hours, 22 minutes and 17 seconds ago.
By ANDnetwork .com 
Ailing Vice President Joseph Msika of Zimbabwe was last Monday flown to a private hospital in Cape Town, South Africa, for specialist treatment for an undisclosed ailment.
He returned on Friday. Government spokesman, George Charamba, confirmed yesterday that Msika was flown to South Africa for specialist treatment.

“He flew to South Africa last week (Monday) for a medical review with physicians,” said Charamba, adding that Msika “flew back yesterday (Friday). He is now back.”

Charamba revealed that Msika three weeks ago “went to Cape Town to consult physicians”.

He could not be drawn to comment on the Vice President’s current condition, ailment or when he is likely to return to work.

A family spokesperson said yesterday:  “I cannot disclose that (Msika’s illness) to the Press. Sorry, we cannot allow you to talk to him or other members of the family.” He declined further comment.

Authoritative sources, however, told The Standard that Msika’s health had deteriorated, resulting in him being flown to the neighbouring country for specialist treatment.

“It is true that the Vice President’s health continued to deteriorate three weeks ago and had to be flown twice to South Africa. He has been in and out of hospital of late and we are worried about his health,” said an authoritative source close to Msika.

Other authoritative sources within the ruling party told this newspaper yesterday that Msika has been on sick leave for close to a month.

Source : The Standard Zimbabwe

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Mbeki responds to pressure on Zimbabwe crisis

SW Radio

By Tererai Karimakwenda
09 June 2006
It has been reported that South Africa’s Minister of Intelligence Ronnie Kasrils has been in Zimbabwe on a mission to meet State Security Minister Didymus Mutasa in a new attempt to find a solution to Zimbabwe’s political and economic crisis. The reports said Kasrils flew into Harare on a private jet Thursday accompanied by South Africa’s National Intelligence Agency chief Manala Manzini and South African Secret Service chief Dennis Hilton. This delegation was expected to conduct talks aimed at arranging a summit between their President Thabo Mbeki and Robert Mugabe. Mbeki has seen increased pressure recently to abandon his so-called “quiet diplomacy” on Zimbabwe and start acting to resolve the crisis next door. Mugabe himself is also under much pressure due to a fast deteriorating economy and massive shortages of basic commodities. Recent critical reports by Amnesty International and the International Crisis Group, a Brussels-based think tank, have also added to pressure. The ICG report described Mugabe as being “increasingly desperate and dangerous.” But it is Mbeki however, who is reported to have initiated this new round of diplomatic talks.
As usual information has been difficult to come by. South African government spokesman Joel Netshitenzhe said he had no information and referred us to the foreign ministry. Ronnie Mamuepa, the Foreign Affairs spokesman, said he could neither confirm nor deny reports of Kasril’s mission. But journalist Angus Shaw who is on the ground in Zimbabwe said there is talk among the diplomatic community, particularly the European Union and the British, which suggests that Kasrils did indeed meet Mutasa and that he left Zimbabwe Friday morning. Shaw said this is possible because there is pressure on Mugabe from young reformists within the ruling party to accept some conditions being offered by Mbeki and British prime minister Tony Blair. They are said to be offering an aid package that would require economic and political reforms and a possible timetable for Mugabe’s departure. Shaw said this is the “Carrot and Stick” approach.

Mbeki recently visited British Prime Minister Tony Blair in London and told reporters it would be wise to wait for the outcome of efforts by the UN secretary general Kofi Annan before acting on Zimbabwe. But the UN chief did not confirm any such efforts and officials at the UN denied any knowledge of a planned visit to Zimbabwe.

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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Rebel prelate condemns 'corrupt' church collusion with Mugabe


Many churches in Zimbabwe have lost credibility with the poor because some of their leaders are colluding with the Mugabe regime and they are capitulating to corruption.

That is the view of outspoken Roman Catholic Archbishop Pius Ncube of Bulawayo in a recent SW Radio Africa interview with Violet Gonda, reports Independent Catholic News.

“The Church has let down the people very, very greatly by siding with Mugabe ­ hook, line and sinker,” declared Ncube, who has been accused of spouting ‘poison’ and ‘treason’ by the regime for whose non-violent removal he has called.

Speaking on the ‘Hot Seat’ programme, the Archbishop accused President Robert Mugabe of employing “divide and rule tactics” to silence opposition from within the churches – including the use of bribes directed towards senior clergy.

He said that some priests were even spying for the government in order to preserve their own security and influence, or as a result of threats of violence.

On the question of bribery, the Catholic prelate declared: “I can confirm that a lot of money is being given to clerics and farms have been given to senior clerics, to get them to the government side in such a way that when we meet as clergy we can no longer be united.

Archbishop Ncube said he would not name specific people receiving bribes, in order to avoid making the issue “nasty and very personal”. However he mentioned a bishop and a pastor who were “well known” for having accepted confiscated farms.

He claimed that he was one of those who had been offered a farm. But he said: "I am a respectable Catholic, so I refused. I knew they wanted to silence me because I am critical of the land reform programme, which is not transparent."

Ncube said Mugabe is aware of the power of the churches in Zimbabwe and has divided and bribed some of the leaders to the extent that "we have become unfaithful to our calling. We as churchmen are supposed to stand with the poor to defend the poor – and we have forgotten our mission."

The Archbishop has also been publicly critical of the governments ‘clear out rubbish’ urban demolition programme against slum dwellers and informal businesses – which Mugabe claims is part of a ‘redevelopment’ initiative.

Zimbabwe has been condemned for its abuses of human rights and its attacks on the poor by the United Nations, the churches worldwide, and the international community.

But President Mugabe says that all his opponents are ‘imperialist’ – including anti-apartheid Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

The South African government of Thabo Mbeki has maintained what its supporters say is a “diplomatic” public silence on Zimbabwean abuses because of political and economic ties.

But the growing refugee crisis and criticism from the churches and human rights activists seems to be leading to a more critical stance.

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Zimbabwe alarmed by prison conditions

Yahoo news

By ANGUS SHAW, Associated Press WriterFri Jun 9, 8:30 PM ET
Zimbabwe's prisoners face acute food shortages and are going weeks without soap or toilet paper, a panel of lawmakers reported Friday.
Malnutrition and disease are widespread in the country's overcrowded jails, which were designed for 16,000 people but hold many more, a parliamentary committee said in a report sounding the alarm about deteriorating prison conditions amid Zimbabwe's worst economic crisis since independence from Britain in 1980.
Prison authorities have insufficient funds to buy food, leading to the spread of malnutrition-related ailments such as pellagra, which causes skin lesions, intestinal disorders and mental disorientation.
Water and power outages are common, and sanitation facilities are in urgent need of repair at most prisons, the panel said.
Blankets go unwashed for months, and the Harare Remand Prison had its water supply cut off for failing to pay its bills. Cooking pots and other kitchen utensils at that prison were filthy and "not fit to carry food for human consumption," the report said.
Zimbabwe's economic meltdown is blamed largely on disruptions to the agriculture-based economy, linked to years of drought and the seizure of white-owned commercial farms for redistribution to blacks since 2000 under President Robert Mugabe.
Inflation has soared to 1,043 percent, the highest rate in the world. There are also acute shortages of hard currency, gasoline and other key imports. Deprived of toilet paper, some inmates have resorted to using pages ripped from Bibles to wipe themselves clean, the report said.
Prison authorities have often failed to take inmates to court for bail hearings and trial appearances because they do not have enough fuel, the lawmakers said.
Few of Zimbabwe's impoverished families can afford to post bail, leaving many accused to languish in jail while their cases drag on, the report said. Delays in the court system mean some prisoners remain in custody up to five years while their cases remain unresolved.
Copyright © 2006 The Associated Press.

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Concerted efforts urged to fight TB in Zimbabwe

People's Daily

Zimbabwe's Health and Child Welfare Minister David Parirenyatwa called for concerted efforts Friday to combat tuberculosis, the country's second leading killer disease after AIDS.
Speaking at the commemoration of the World Tuberculosis Day, the minister said most people infected with HIV/AIDS were also vulnerable to tuberculosis infection.
In view of this, he said, there was need for a multi-sectoral approach to the two diseases, which are interlinked.
"The immune deficiency status caused by the HIV infection renders the patient prone to infection by tuberculosis," he said, adding that TB, HIV and AIDS are a deadly combination whose interventions require integration, coordination and a multi sectoral collaboration.
Actions or interventions for HIV and AIDS also apply to tuberculosis control. Among them are behavior change, communication for the prevention of primary HIV infection and voluntary counseling and testing to determine status, he said.
Source: Xinhua

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Rats and Mice

Reported from Bulawayo (KN)
Hungry entrepreneurs in the making are resorting to selling rodent meat in Zimbabwe. One such man is catching rats and mice in the bushy areas on the outskirts of Bulawayo (Burnside). Roasting the rodents rats and mice, spiced with salt and chilli powder, he then commutes to the western suburbs of Makokoba and Luveve where he fetchs between $75000 to $ 100000 per mouse/rat.
People are so desperate to eat meat that business is thriving. Beef is retailing at $790000 per kg in most butcheries around Bulawayo.

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