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MDC, Zanu-PF clash over new constitution

June 28, 2009

By Owen Chikari

MASVINGO - The constitutional reform process was plunged into chaos on
Sunday as Zanu-PF and MDC supporters traded insults during a preparatory
meeting convened here by the parliamentary select committee as part of the
constitutional reform process.Hundreds of supporters of both political
parties filled the Masvingo Civic Centre hall to capacity, leaving the
organisers of the function with no option but to hold the meeting out in the

Tempers flared during question time with Zanu -PF supporters arguing that
the Kariba draft authored by the three political parties in the inclusive
government was the document that should be adopted as the country's

MDC supporters reacted angrily to the contributions from Zanu-PF their
counter-parts, resulting in proceedings being adjourned for a while.

War veterans and some Zanu-PF supporters nearly exchanged blows with
Masvingo Urban legislator Tongai Matutu as chaos reigned supreme during the

Zanu-PF women supporters then burst into song and further infuriated the MDC

"We do not want to waste time here", said a Zanu-PF supporter. "We have an
inclusive government which drafted the Kariba document and therefore it is
the document which we should adopt."

MDC supporters said that the Kariba draft was just a draft.

"We want a people-driven process," one of them said.

The proceedings took a new twist when war veterans bused from across
Masvingo province confronted Matutu, who represents Masvingo Urban in
Parliament, just falling short of assaulting him.

Matutu riled Zanu-PF supporters when he said, "This is not a Zanu-PF
meeting. We are here to discuss the interests of all the people of

Supporters from both Zanu-PF and the MDC then joined in the ensuing melee,
forcing the organisers to abandon the meeting as chaos reigned supreme.

The parliamentary select committee was led by Senator Monica Mutsvangwa
(Zanu-PF) and Justice Deputy Minister Jessie Majome and MP Amos Chibaya,
both of the mainstream MDC led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.

In her remarks Mutsvangwa contradicted President Robert Mugabe and Zanu-PF's
position when she said that the Kariba draft would never be the document to

"It is just a draft and we have several drafts which will be considered",
said Mutsvangwa when asked why her party was pushing for the adoption of the
Kariba draft.

President Mugabe is on record as saying that the Kariba draft should form
the basis of a new constitution. The MDC has since dismissed this

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ZIMBABWE: Academics clash over new constitution

28 June 2009
Issue: 0032

Zimbabwe's leading intellectuals have clashed over the crafting of a new
democratic constitution, as a survey revealed the majority of people want
the unity government to treat education as the top priority among numerous
pressing problems the nation faces following a decade of international
isolation and sanctions.

Zimbabwe is in the process of crafting a new constitution to replace the one
agreed at Lancaster House in Britain in 1979 - a year before then Rhodesia
gained independence. Over the years, the current constitution - condemned by
opposition parties, student unions, churches and
non-governmental-organisations - was amended 19 times, mainly to give an
increasingly autocratic President Robert Mugabe the sweeping powers he used
to maintain his 29-year rule.

Mugabe entered into a power-sharing deal in February with opposition
Movement for Democratic Change leader and current Prime Minister Morgan
Tsvangirai, in a bid to end sanctions and international isolation. One of
the conditions of forming the government was developing a new constitution.

But two camps have emerged in academic circles and among student unions:
those championing the crafting of the new constitution and those agitating
for its rejection at a referendum on the grounds the process is not
people-driven - rather, it is being led by a 25-member parliamentary select

University of Zimbabwe law lecturer Douglas Mwonzora, an MP for Tsvangirai's
party and chairman of the parliamentary constitutional select committee,
maintains the committee is running a people-driven process. His grounds are
that lawmakers are elected representatives of the people and that civic
groups would be invited to take up positions and participate.

Supporting the parliamentary initiative led by Mwonzora are law students and
academics now serving in the inclusive government, including four former
professors. The most prominent figure among those campaigning for a 'no'
vote as the process is not people-driven is Dr Lovemore Madhuku, a
University of Zimbabwe constitutional law lecturer and chair of the civic
body, the National Constitutional Assembly.

Madhuku has said the process underway in Zimbabwe was "the worst ever
attempt at writing a constitution and it originates from a group of
politicians who believe that what matters is the level of their popularity".
In an article published by local newspapers he argued:

"It is not the role of parliament to spearhead constitution-making.
Parliament is there to enact laws, which are subordinate to the constitution
as prescribed by the people. It is contrary to the fundamental notions of
good governance for the ruling politicians of the day to seek to dominate
the process of constitution-making under the guise of being representatives
of the people.

"The expression 'people-driven' was coined as the direct opposite of
'parliament-driven' or 'government-driven'. What makes a process
people-driven is the absence of leadership by politicians."

The starting point of a people-driven process, Madhuku argued, was
leadership by an independent, non-partisan body that did not take
instruction from dominant politicians and was open to people from all walks
of life. Politicians and government should only be there to provide
resources for such a process.

Madhuku's views have been echoed by Professor Jonathan Moyo, the
once-controversial leader of Mugabe's propaganda machine, who is also
campaigning against the current process. Moyo, now an independent MP, wrote
in a paper posted on his website:

"Whereas laws are subject to change within and between parliamentary terms,
the pillars of a democratic constitution, once made, are supposed to be
forever...and not subject to the whims and caprices of parliaments that are
the products of political winds."

Madhuku's and Moyo's positions have been endorsed by the Zimbabwe National
Students Union, the country's largest student union. In a statement, the
union said that for a process to be people-driven it should "start with a
joint government-civil society conference that will appoint an independent
commission as well as setting out the agenda and terms of reference of the

Student unions are hoping to take advantage of the drafting of a new
constitution to push for academic freedom in a country where dozens of
intellectuals have been expelled, arrested and received death threats from
state agents.

Meanwhile, a survey found the majority of Zimbaweans wanted the inclusive
government to treat problems in secondary and tertiary education as its top
priority. In the survey, 80% of respondents said they supported the
inclusive government and 81% said they believed it would address the
country's political and economic crisis.

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Fresh hope for Zim as it charts a new constitution

From The Sunday Independent, 28 June

Peta Thornycroft

For a few hours it seemed possible that Zimbabwe could move beyond fear,
beyond looting and malice and begin again. A crowd of about 1 500 queued
patiently on Wednesday for admission to the Harare International Conference
Centre for the first public hearing on writing a new constitution. Aids
activists, human rights lawyers, war veterans, churchmen, disabled people
and ordinary citizens took the trouble to show up. A handful of Central
Intelligence Organisation operatives in threadbare clothes scribbled in
notebooks but were ignored. The riot squad didn't show up after vicious and
foul-mouthed excesses against women demonstrators the week before. The
public address system worked, officials didn't ask for press accreditation,
and there was polite applause for the parliamentary select committee which
will, so it says, drive, but not interfere with, the constitution-making
process ensuring "maximum public participation".

The democratic lexicon was flogged by all speakers: "Transparency,
stakeholders, consultation, people-driven", etc. From an internal door
linking the cavernous conference centre to the ground floor of a five-star
hotel, Cole Porter and Love Actually tinkled through from Harry Maseko's
fingers flying over the Yamaha grand piano keyboard for the entertainment of
just six coffee drinkers chewing stale carrot cake at R20 a slice. The
veneer of a new beginning was there. Energetic farm invader, Zanu PF
Minister of State Flora Bhuka, chaired the first session. The heaviest
applause came from youngsters loyal to Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai when
MDC speakers took the microphone. Their applause was muted for Zanu PF but
they mocked their parliamentary allies, the small MDC faction loyal to
Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara.

Important civil rights activists boycotted the launch because they say the
process is controlled by politicians. Lovemore Madhuku, who leads the
National Constitutional Assembly, said he would not be involved because
politicians would drive the process. "Nothing good can ever come out of this
process. We want an independent commission in charge of creating a new
constitution." Wonder Muvandi, a former policeman of eastern Zimbabwe,
agrees with Madhuku: "The way they are handling the whole process is
improper. They should have started off by educating the people who do not
know what a constitution is. This is going to be very chaotic and parliament
will come up with the constitution for the people." Ralph Kongai, a
self-employed caterer, said he was not politically aligned, but an
"independent" thinker. "I am a concerned citizen who would like to ensure
that my destiny and the destiny of people is well protected, that's why I am
here today."

Ruth Gawa, brought up in a rural area about 120km south-east of Harare,
helped feed guerrillas as a teenager during the liberation war. She turned
up for the launch because she is passionate about a new constitution. "It is
a very important day to me because it is going to change the life of my
children and my grandchildren. We have been living in an environment of
oppression, where we did not know whether we are coming or going. The
(previous) government has not respected our values. I am tired of hearing
about people who fought for Zimbabwe. We all fought for Zimbabwe." John
Makoti, a lean war veteran who joined Mugabe's Zanla forces about 250km
south-east of Harare as an 18-year-old, now works in the public health
sector. "Today we are looking at making our own constitution. I want to see
that the country, Zimbabwe, my mother's country, is ruled straightforward
and transparent for every Zimbabwean." Deon Theron, vice-president of the
Commercial Farmers' Union, emerged from the first hearing saying he feared
political manipulation. Despite the continued prosecutions of MDC MPs and
detention of its office bearers by Zanu PF officials, for half a day the
clouds lifted for the start of the making of the constitution.

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Farmers threaten to invade Zimbabwe to root out stock theft Botswana

by Reuben Pitse
28.06.2009 6:00:51 P

Residents of Bobirwa are threatening to invade Zimbabwe to root out stock
theft criminal syndicates that have paralyzed the lives of the farmers in
the Bobirwa constituency if the government does not intervene immediately.

The threats came following rampant stock theft cases that have reached a
point where villagers can no longer stomach.

It is understood that some farmers are threatening to take their own weapons
and cross into Zimbabwe to look for cattle rustlers who they suspect are
involved in massive stock thefts that have hit the Bobirwa area, especially
villages that are close to the boundary line between Botswana and Zimbabwe.

It is reported that the farmers have abandoned their boreholes and kraals
and relocated to other areas where they think their livestock will be safe.

Farmers are said to have resorted to penning their livestock in the morning
and releasing them in the evening to graze because, in the morning,
livestock theft is more rampant, as compared to evenings.

Bobirwa residents have sent a delegation to the Office of the President
where they met the vice president over the issue. It is said the Vice
president promised to act on their demands.

Speaking to Sunday Standard on Friday, the councilor of Bobirwa North East,
Kimbele Malesela, who was part of the delegation that met the Vice President
said, "Stock theft in our area has reached a point that we can no longer
He threatened that if the government does not intervene promptly, residents
would be left with no choice but to take the law in to their own hands,
adding that nobody would want to reach that stage.

Malesela said this crisis has reached a point where farmers now have
relocated their livestock to other areas where they feel is safer but the
situation is not getting better; the stock thieves are following.
He added that farmers had left their boreholes and kraals on which they had
spent a lot of money to build.
"We cannot allow ourselves to be terrorized by thieves for our own
Malesela pleaded with the government to respond to the issue before it is
too late.

Keabetse Mokgethi, the headman of Kobajango Village said, "The situation
that we are facing is heart breaking."
He said only this month about 64 goats and over 40 herds of cattle were
stolen and driven to the Zimbabwean side, adding that the residents had
already relocated to other areas because of the rampant stock theft.
"You can see how huge the problem is now; if the area is hit by soil
erosion, as is already happening, where will we take our livestock to
 graze?" he asked.

The station commander of Semolale, Superintendent Oeme Tankane, said that
stock theft in his area of jurisdiction is "very worrisome", adding that
there are several criminal syndicates comprised of Zimbabweans who are
involved in the stock thefts.

Tankane said they had established the black markets where Botswana livestock
is being sold in Zimbabwe.
He said they communicated with their counterparts in Zimbabwe about the
issue and requested assistance with information that might lead to the
apprehending of the suspects.

The Police Superintended further said that they had intensified their
patrols along the boundary even though the arrests are minimal.
Saying that the boundary fence is often cut, he appealed to the public to
always inform the police about suspicious people in the area.

Meanwhile, in a similar case, two kids sustained serious burns and are
hospitalized after a mob in Mmathethe Village in Ngwaketse South allegedly
set alight a house whose owner they suspected to be part of a cattle
rustling syndicate that steals livestock in their area.
The parents are reported to have escaped with minor injuries.

Detective superintendent David Maruatona confirmed the incident saying they
are investigating the incident, adding that they had not arrested any one in
connection with the incident.

Reuben Mosala, Headman of Records in Mmathethe Tribal Administration, said
his village is also hit by stock theft.
He explained that a resident in Mathethe was investigated by the police
recently over 60 herds of cattle that were found in his kraal. Later,
however, the cattle were released to him because there was not sufficient
evidence against him and this angered the villagers who took the law into
their own hands.

Mosala said a house in which four people were sleeping was set alight by a
mob and the house was burned to ashes.
He said before the incident, an anonymous letter was found at the tribal
offices in which the authors of the letter stated clearly that they were
going to set alight three houses owned by people who they suspected to be
involved in stock theft.

"As the tribal authority, we condemn such acts but people should not take
the law into their own hands even though we understand the pain that they go
through when their livestock is stolen.

He urged the public to report suspects to either "bogosi" or the police.

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Harare residents under siege of robberies: media  2009-06-28 18:35:25

HARARE, June 28 (Xinhua) -- The latest Zimbabwean weekly The
Sunday Mail carries a story telling the horrible stories of increased
robberies threatening local people's daily life.

"It was a chilling experience seeing my close friend being beaten
to death like a snake."

These were the words of 25-year-old Thomas Chirume of Glen Norah
A, who escaped death by the skin of his teeth following a spate of muggings
that have left a number of residents in and around Harare in fear.

Chirume survived the Glen Norah murder by faking death, while his
friend, Farai Zemba, was killed in cold blood.

Chirume was struck with a sharp object at the back of his head and
was hospitalized for three days.

Chirume and his friend became victims when they were coming from
Boka Tobacco Auction Floors after selling cellphone lines and cigarettes to
tobacco farmers.

Chirume is now recovering at his Glen View home after the attack,
which took place a fortnight ago in a bushy area between Amalinda Road and
Glen Norah A.

Last week he narrated his ordeal. "A sharp object hit my head as
we walked with my friend from the auction floors. I pretended as if I was
dead and the robbers started beating my friend. I could hear him beg for
mercy since he had surrendered everything to them, but all was in vain,"
said Chirume.

"Another person who was coming in our direction drew their
attention and they went for him. I took that chance to crawl towards a
nearby house for help after realizing that my friend was now helpless," said

Some residents of Glen Norah last week said the robbers had
literally imposed curfews on them as some of the robberies are taking place
as early as 6:00 p.m.

One Glen Norah resident, Benjamin Matenda, who rushed to the scene
of the murder after hearing the wailing voices of the victims, described the
attack as a "ghastly spectacle".

"People should not be killed like chickens. If the robbers want
people's belongings, they should take them and spare lives," said Matenda.

Recently, the Minister of Regional Integration and International
Co-operation Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga had her Mount Pleasant house
raided by armed robbers. They brutally attacked a police officer manning the
house and the minister's husband.

Similar attacks have taken place in the low-density suburbs, where
the robbers target houses and vehicles. But in the high-density areas they
target those on foot. Some of the areas that have become dangerous to walk
in during dark hours are Mabvuku, Budiriro, Chitungwiza and Ruwa.

The question in a number of neighborhoods has become: Who is next?
People now fear visiting relatives and friends at night. Some residents used
to patronize drinking places avoiding going home early because of power
cuts, but doing so now puts them in danger of becoming victims of armed

National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Wayne
Bvudzijena said there was need for the courts to deny bail to serious
criminals. "We understand that there are a lot of channels that are followed
before criminals are released on bail, but we appeal to the courts to deny
bail to serious criminal offenders," he said.

The increase in robbery has seen the police calling for residents
interested in joining the neighborhood watch committees to engage them to
beef up their teams. He said the antidote to crime is collective efforts by
the public and the police in identifying the criminals.

"Protection of property starts with an individual. Collective
measures are needed," said Bvudzijena. He said police were mounting
roadblocks to flush out criminal elements. "We have already revised our
operations," he said.

Another police spokesperson, Chief Superintendent Andrew Phiri,
urged residents to avoid remote footpaths as well as avoiding walking around
with large sums of money at night. He said people should walk in groups and
avoid walking alone, especially at night.

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African Commission rules in favour of MISA, IJAZ, and ZLHR

June 28 2009

By MISA Zimbabwe

The African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights (ACHPR) has recommended
that government should "decriminalise" offences relating to the
accreditation and the practice of journalism in Zimbabwe. The commission
ruled in favour of MISA-Zimbabwe, Independent Journalists Association of
Zimbabwe (Ijaz) and Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) in a case
challenging sections of the controversial Access to Information and
Protection of Privacy Act (Aippa) promulgated in 2002.

The genesis of the ACHPR case was the MISA supported Constitutional
challenge lodged by IJAZ in 2002. The Zimbabwe Supreme Court ruled AIPPA
constitutional resulting in MISA working with IJAZ and ZLHR to take up the
case to the ACHPR in 2005. The complaint challenged provisions of Aippa
which state that "no journalist shall exercise the rights in Section 78 in
Zimbabwe without being accredited by the Commission (MIC)".

MISA, IJAZ and ZLHR  argued that the emphasis on the right to freedom of
expression in ensuring democracy is such that regulation other than
self-regulation, is undesirable in a democratic society.

They argued that Aippa was aimed at "controlling and even obstructing" the
work of journalists. "In view of the above reasoning, the African Commission
recommends that the respondent state repeal Sections 79 and 80 of Aippa,"
reads the ruling dated June 4.

Government, the African Commission adjudged, should "bring Aippa in line
with Article 9 of the African Charter and other principles and international
human rights instruments; and report on the implementation of these
recommendations within six months of notification thereof". The commission
also advised government to adopt legislation providing a framework for
self-regulation. The complainants submitted that the registration
requirements and procedures were "unduly intrusive and burdensome" arguing
that intrusion into an individual's private details militated against

"They (MISA, IJAZ and ZLHR) argue that the accreditation forms have to be
examined and approved by both the permanent secretary and the minister,
thereby establishing control of journalists by central government," the
documents read.

The complainants also urged the African Commission to "draw inspiration"
from legal precedent developed in other regional human rights systems. The
annual accreditation process, according to MISA, IJAZ and ZLHR had a
"chilling effect" on the journalists' ability to freely practise their
trade, adding that this could lead to self-censorship. The state however
argued that the complainants had failed to establish a violation of Article
9 of the Charter stating that it was misleading to suggest that the MIC is
"susceptible to political manipulation and control".

"It is incorrect, the respondent state argues, to suggest that Section 80 of
Aippa unreasonably restricts the right to freedom of expression and
dissemination of information. According to the respondent state, Section 80
restricts not all falsehoods, but only those that are wilfully published and
that are likely to injure public interest," read the documents.

This ruling will bolster calls for media reforms in Zimbabwe. The unity
government in Zimbabwe has been talking of instituting media reforms and
held a conference to discuss amendments to repressive media laws. Nothing
has been heard of on the resolutions passed at this conference.

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COMESA becomes Customs Union: what does this mean to the region? East African Business Week

Written by Bobi Odiko
Sunday, 28 June 2009
It is now official; the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa
(COMESA) has entered into a Customs Union.

COMESA officially launched its Customs Union in pomp and style at a
meeting held in Zimbabwe on June 7, 2009 and attended by a number of heads
of states.   The six million dollar question the EAC Partner States may need
to answer is: what the pronouncement holds in store for the region now and
the near future .

The launch of the COMESA Customs Union which was delayed twice because
of Zimbabwe's political turmoil, and to allow for more time for negotiations
on the harmonization of tariffs, was a deemed a major economic victory for a
wider COMESA region.

Kenya Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi shall now also tick their names in
the COMESA register.  Tanzania though not a COMESA member, has one foot at
the EAC and another in SADC.

Before the news could sink in, the regional media got hold ahead of
time of an evaluation report of the EAC Customs Union dubbed An Evaluation
of the Implementation and Impact of the East African Community Customs
Union. The report makes interesting reading depicting the challenges and
opportunities for the EAC.

 It highlights the positives realised since the Customs Union came
into operation in 2005. And in one of its most far-reaching recommendations,
the report calls on the EAC Secretariat to consider instituting punitive
measures such as penalties, sanctions or compensations to make Partner
States adhere to rules governing the implementation of the four-and-half
year-old Customs Union.

This will ensure a smooth flow of cross-border trade, thereby boosting
trade within the region. It is instructive to note that currently, the EAC
Secretariat has no enforcement powers and relies on the goodwill of the
Partner States to get its decisions implemented.

The report was commissioned by the EAC Secretariat to assess the
implementation and impact of the Customs Union - the first stage of the
Community's integration process launched by the three founding members -
Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.  On its part, Rwanda is to join the Community's
Customs Union this coming week.

Principally, the objectives of the Customs Union as enumerated under
Article 3 are to further liberalise inter regional trade in goods on the
bases of mutually beneficial trade arrangements among the Partner States and
promote efficiency in production within the Community.

It further hopes to enhance domestic cross border and foreign
investment in the Community; and promote economic development and
diversification in industrialisation in the Community.

It does seem the region has realised a number of positives in addition
to the challenges witnessed in the Customs Union. But perhaps out of my own
lack of knowledge, one would have thought the region needs to consolidate on
the gains realised so far as opposed to joining the COMESA Customs Union
bearing in mind that come 2010, in addition to entry of the Common Market,
the EAC shall become a fully fledged Customs Union.

  This includes among other things, the levelling to zero of the
tariffs imposed thus ending the principle of asymmetry. The year 2010 shall
also see the review of the maximum rate of the Common External Tariffs

If that be the case, I beg for further understanding behind the
rationale of the EAC Partner States' affixation to the COMESA Customs Union.
It would be good to know how we anticipate to strengthen our regional bloc
in the new dispensation.

The EAC Partner States have embraced economic integration and
seemingly placed their hopes on it for the development of the regional
economies.   But the thinning out and spreading into multiple blocs or what
is referred to as the spaghetti bowls, must be well planned.

Otherwise, it could in the end do more harm than good for the region.
But again, it just may be that what the EAC must do is to sensitize the
publics to enable them get the hang of things as they are.

The writer comments on socio-economic issues and is based in Arusha.

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What a tragedy

June 28 2009

By The Editor

Perhaps the biggest tragedy of President Robert Mugabe's land reforms may
not be the gross human rights violations that have characterised the crude
campaign to expel white farmers from the land or the hunger and suffering it
has imposed on Zimbabweans, white and black alike.

The tragedy, it would seem, is that Mugabe appears somehow genuinely
convinced that his land reform programme - we use the term with utmost
reservation - is a necessary extension and indeed the ultimate fulfillment
of the anti-colonial struggle.

Addressing the central committee of his Zanu (PF) party in the past week,
Mugabe vowed: "Being in the inclusive government does not mean the
abandonment of the land reform programme . . . it is a process that is legal
and was recognised at Lancaster House in 1979."

Yet, no one wants land reform abandoned! We can guarantee Mugabe that every
Zimbabwean, white, black or of whatever hue is prepared to line up behind
him were he to adopt a rational land reform programme designed to ensure
equitable distribution of land, stimulate agricultural production, ensure
food security and end poverty in rural areas.

It is the violent and racist agrarian reform programme that Mugabe has
implemented since 2000 and which has left our once self-sufficient nation
surviving on food handouts from international relief agencies that
Zimbabweans want abandoned.

Precisely because of Mugabe's so-called "Fast Track Land Reform Programme"
the food supply situation remains dire even as the international community
and the unity government are trying so much to improve food availability.

The latest crop assessment report released last week by the United Nations'
Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and World Food Programme (WFP) says
Zimbabwe faces a cereal deficit of almost 700 000 tonnes this year,
condemning about three million people to another season of hunger.

Shop shelves have filled up again with food and other basic commodities
since the currency and other reforms implemented by the unity government.
However very few people have access to enough foreign currency to purchase
the imported items, meaning many basic goods remain out of the reach of the

But perennial hunger has not been the only reward of Mugabe's land reforms.
Poor performance in the mainstay agricultural sector had far reaching
consequences as many factories, starved of inputs and orders from the
farming sector, downsized operations or closed shop altogether - throwing
thousands of workers onto the streets.

On our continent, there is no shortage of examples of leaders setting out to
empower their people but only to condemn the same people to everlasting
hunger and poverty through some dimwitted and corrupt empowerment programme.

But Mugabe is probably the only one to have taken a country that was truly
on the verge of economic success and through a series of ruinous policies,
the hallmark of which is the fast track land reform programme, dragged it
down into the mire.
And for a man who earlier in his career gave so much for his country, it is
such a tragedy.

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Zimbabwe Vigil Diary – 27th June 2009

In the humid heat it was tempting to slope off from the Vigil and find a television to watch the second rugby test match between South Africa and the British Lions in Pretoria to see whether the Zimbabwean Tendai Mtawarira, known as ‘the Beast’, could repeat his heroics when he won the first test for the host country.


But Vigil supporters were too fired up about another matter – the silly allegations on some loud-mouthed Zimbabwean exile websites that the Vigil and ROHR were behind the booing of Morgan Tsvangirai when he spoke to the UK diaspora in Southwark Cathedral last week. Anyone looking at videos of the occasion will see that the angry response was prompted by Mr Tsvangirai’s remarks and was spontaneous and could not possibly have been planned.


The meeting’s organisers also sought to blame asylum seekers, accusing them of being selfish and not being up to date with the situation on the ground in Zimbabwe – the “progress” that has been made. Well, frankly, with the abundant access to information that we have in the UK we sometimes feel that we have to tell people at home what is going on – that, for instance, the MDC Deputy Minister for Mines, Murisi Zwizwai, seems to have been co-opted by Zanu-PF in claiming that there is no evidence of killings in the Marange diamond fields.


What upset the Zimbabwean exiles at Southwark Cathedral was this type of half truth being peddled by the MDC leadership.  We are not convinced that everything is ok, that Mugabe’s grip on power is being loosened or that human rights violations and farm invasions are not happening.


The Vigil went ahead with our human rights demonstration outside the cathedral despite an extraordinary e-mail to us from an MDC organiser talking about possible violence. What was this about? The Vigil has been staging demonstrations at least once a week for seven years without any trouble. 


Among the efforts to destabilise the Vigil are predictable allegations of the misuse of money, most recently accusations of ‘selling’ letters to support asylum claims.  We have spelt out our policy before but here it is again:

1.       We do not have membership fees.

2.       We do not make any charge to committed supporters of the Vigil for letters.

3.       To people who have come less than 10 times but more than 5 (out of 350!) there is a fee of £10 to cover administration expenses for a detailed letter.

4.       To those who have come less than 6 times we are reluctant to say they are supporters but will write a one-line letter confirming they have attended. We charge £20 to discourage this.


Now what happens to this money? No one draws a salary. Some of the money goes on administration expenses, some of it goes on fares and welfare expenditure for our supporters. The bulk goes to help ROHR and other Zimbabwean human rights causes as agreed by the finance committee and Vigil management team. 


The role of the Vigil and ROHR was discussed extensively at our monthly forum held after the Vigil. Ephraim Tapa, President of ROHR, said the organisation was non-party political and was working with many partners on various platforms in Zimbabwe, South Africa and the UK. For further information see the ROHR press statement circulated earlier this week ( Vigil Co-ordinator Dumi Tutani was warmly applauded when he said we were being targeted for telling the truth but we would continue our demonstrations for free and fair elections for as long as it takes.


Thanks to Jonathan Kariwoh for helping the management team with the register. 


For latest Vigil pictures check:


FOR THE RECORD:  167 signed the register.



·         ROHR Bedford general meeting. Saturday 4th July from 1.30 – 5.30 pm. Venue: 64 Magnolia Close, Kempstone, Bedford, MK42 7NR. ROHR President, executive and a well known immigration lawyer present. Special guest the MP for Bedford. Contact: Daniel Manyanga 07939184723, Sifelani Dziva 07936551476, Allen Gapara 07834231749, R Mwandira 07903434431 or Paradzai Mapfumo 07915926323 / 07932216070.

·         ROHR Wolverhampton general meeting. Saturday 4th July from 12 noon – 4 pm. Venue: 149 Chervil Rise, Heath Town, Wolverhampton WV10 0HZ. Contact: Colleen Maredza 077 333 94648, Veronica Chakeredza 078 537 52085

·         ROHR Surrey & Hants general meeting. Saturday 4th July from 130 – 5.30 pm. Venue: 10 Elmdene Court, Constitution Hill, Woking, Surrey, GU22 7SA. Contact: Isaac Mudzamiri 07774044873, Thoko Hlokama 07886203113, Thandi Mabodoko 01483600201, 01483826764 or P Mapfumo 07915926323 / 07932216070 

·         ROHR Bournemouth general meeting. Saturday, 4th July from 1.30 – 5.30 pm. Venue: East Cliff Reformed Church, Holdenhurst Road, BH8 8AW. Contact: Mike Mhene 07774521837, Abigail Nzimba 07917458873 or Gift Pfupa 07909831158 or Sekai Mujeyi 07765244138. 

·         ROHR Liverpool general meeting. Saturday, 4th July from 2 – 5.30 pm. Venue: Prescot Lodge, 52-56 Prescot Road, Liverpool L7 0JA. Contact Desire Chimuka 07917733711, Anywhere Mungoyo 07939913638 or Patrick Kushonga 07900857605

·         ROHR Hatfield general meeting. Saturday 11th July from 1.30 – 6 pm. Venue: Lord William Cecil Memorial Hall, 1 French Horn Lane, Hatfield, Herts AL10 8AQ. Present ROHR President, Executiveand  a well known lawyer: Special guests Hatfield &Welwyn MP Mr Grant Shapp and Mr Geofrey Van Orden Europe MP. A substantive committee to be elected. Contact: Paradzai Mapfumo on 07915926323 / 07932216070, Clarkson Shumbanhete 07958550506, Mary Muradzikwa 07920170620, Rewai Chikungwa 07862246960 or Emilia Muradzikwa 07861712566

·         ROHR West Bromwich general meeting. Saturday, 18th July from 1.30 – 5.30 pm. Venue: St Peters Church Hall, Whitehall Road, West Bromwich B70 0HF. ROHR President, Executive and a well known lawyer present, Invited guest  Cllr  Simon Hackett. Contact Pamela Dunduru 07958386718, Diana Mtendereki 07768682961, Peter Nkomo 07817096594 or P Mapfumo 07915926323 / 07932216070.
ROHR Hayes and Northolt launch meeting. Saturday 25th July from 1.30 – 5.30 pm. Venue: Brookside Community Centre, Hayes UB4 0PL. ROHR President and a well known lawyer present. Contact Snodia Chihowa 07852921523, Juliet Musandiriri 07551319522 or P Mapfumo 07915926323 / 07932216070.  

·         Zimbabwe Vigil Forum. Saturday 25th July at 6.30 pm. Upstairs at the Theodore Bullfrog, John Adam Street, London WC2N 6HL.

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


Vigil Co-ordinators

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



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Lives change when determination joins a desire to help
Steve Lopez
Burn victim
Mark Boster/ Los Angeles Times
Burn victim Maka Chawoneka of Zimbabwe got help after relatives who were visiting Los Angeles brought a picture of her to church and sought aid from a fellow parishioner who is a nurse.
Relatives and strangers have a hand in bringing a young burn victim from Zimbabwe to Los Angeles for treatment.
Steve Lopez
June 28, 2009
» Discuss Article Here's one of those small-world stories, the kind that shrink the world down to a village and give you a little faith in the power of goodwill.

It begins in early 2008 in Zimbabwe. The country is in turmoil, a family's electricity is out and the backup stove explodes as it's being refueled.

Maka Chawoneka, 4 years old, screams as burned skin and flesh peel from her face and upper body. Her parents rush her to one hospital and then another, but there's little doctors can do for her over the next month but dress the wounds, which fester into ghastly, tumor-like bulbs.

Her mother is a teacher, her father a banker, but in Zimbabwe's sinking economy, they resort to selling chickens, fruits and vegetables, trying to raise enough to take Maka to South Africa for better treatment. They fall short, so they send a photo of Maka to her aunt and uncle, who are living temporarily in Los Angeles, and ask if they can help.

One day at First Christian Church of Burbank, the aunt and uncle approach fellow congregant Susan Cline, knowing she's a nurse at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles, and hand her the photo of Maka.

Cline takes the photo to work, where doctors insist that Maka be brought to Los Angeles as soon as possible. They refer Cline to Mending Kids International, an L.A.-based nonprofit that last year brought 93 sick and injured children from the far corners of the world, delivering them into the hands of doctors at Childrens Hospital, UCLA Medical Center and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

Unfortunately for Maka, the paperwork in Zimbabwe takes months, and when she is finally cleared to come to Los Angeles in March, her aunt and uncle are abruptly transferred back to Zimbabwe by their employer. Suddenly, Maka has no host family.

That was when Cline and her husband, Michael, a marketing consultant to flower retailers, came up with an answer for this little girl they'd never met.

"We decided to be the hosts," Susan said in the living room of their five-bedroom house in Chatsworth. Two of their four children were grown and gone, so they had the space. "It was what you would call a no-brainer."

Evan, her 18-year-old son, agreed.

"It was maybe a surprise," he said of his reaction when his parents broke the news that a Zimbabwean girl, and possibly her mother, would be moving in. "But there should be more of this kind of sharing and compassion on this planet."

Maka and her mother, Alice, arrived in March. There was the expected cultural awkwardness at first, and Maka, now 5 1/2 , missed her father and little sister back home. Lizi Cline, 15, remembers Maka asking in accented English when she would look pretty again. And at first, she was terrified about going to the hospital.

"She saw a white coat and she cried," said Dr. Jeffrey Hammoudeh, her reconstructive surgeon.

Maka's injuries were extreme, said Hammoudeh. She had burns and scars on two-thirds of her face, and her upper body and arms. He operated first on one side of the face, then the other, with a third surgery on one arm.

"We used a face lift, pulled things into position," he said. "We did a neck lift, we borrowed tissue from the back of the head and moved things around."

Maka was tough, never complaining about the pain, and she became much friendlier as her appearance improved and her broad smile returned.

"Now she gives me a hug," said Hammoudeh.

Two more operations are scheduled for July, one on her arm and another on her face, and then she and her mother will be going back home.

Already, Susan Cline is having a twinge of separation anxiety. The Clines and Chawonekas quickly settled into a nice routine, with Susan taking Maka to the hospital with her each morning either to see doctors or attend the special school on the Childrens Hospital grounds. When Alice stayed behind, church members would pick her up for outings, or she'd cook dishes native to her country, filling the house with exotic scents.

"The house smells good every day," said Susan Cline. "Alice cooks more often, and better, than I do."

Maka saw an ocean for the first time, racing into the surf in Ventura even though the water was frigid. She likes French fries, reading books, swimming in the backyard pool, eating popcorn and watching "SpongeBob." Her favorite movies are "Grease" and "Hairspray," and last week the family was packing for a trip to the Grand Canyon, with Disneyland or Yosemite next up in their travels. On Sundays, they all go to church together.

At the Cline house Wednesday, pigtailed Maka was wearing her Easter dress and fancy shoes, watching TV and then flipping through photos of herself on Lizi's computer. She showed off her bedroom, with its colony of stuffed animals, but said she prefers sleeping in the next room over, with "my mommy."

"I didn't know what to expect," Alice said of her arrival in March. "They've been very open, very comforting."

"I can't even quantify what I've learned," said Susan Cline, who feels a sisterly bond with Alice, having discovered an unexpected commonality with a woman whose native language is Shona.

"She's so strong, she's so smart," Cline said, expressing admiration for the way in which Alice has resisted limiting herself to traditional gender roles in Zimbabwe, as well as the way she fiercely pursued help for Maka.

"I've also learned just how terribly easy we have it here," Cline said, saying that in Alice's company, she has almost felt embarrassed by how fortunate we are to have world-class medical care, sprawling homes and gleaming grocery stores filled with thousands of choices.

At Childrens Hospital, where Cline has just become manager of nursing operations in the emergency room, Hammoudeh has been moved by the evolving bond between Maka's family and her hosts. When he was told that a burn victim from a bombing in Gaza might be one of his next patients, but hasn't yet found an Arabic-speaking host family, Hammoudeh raised his hand, and he and his wife are now doing the paperwork.

"I speak Arabic," said Hammoudeh, who was born in Jerusalem and said he went into pediatric reconstructive surgery because the patients are innocent victims of circumstances beyond their control.

"Zimbabwe, the Middle East, Russia. It doesn't matter where they're from."

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FremantleMedia Authorises GZP Media Ltd to produce Idols shows in Zimbabwe under Zim Idol

Zimbabweans should grace themselves for fire works after FremantleMedia gave express authority for GZP Media to produce Zim Idol in Zimbabwe. Fremantle. Media is one of the largest international creators and producers of entertainment brands in the world, with leading prime time drama, serial drama, entertainment and factual entertainment programming in over 40 territories, including the UK, the US, Germany, Australia, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Scandinavia, Latin America and Asia.

FremantleMedia is owned by the RTL Group, Europe's largest entertainment network. RTL is Europe’s largest television and radio broadcast company, with interests in 42 television and 32 radio stations in ten European countries. RTL Group is 90% owned by Bertelsmann AG, an integrated media and entertainment company that commands leading positions in the world's major media markets. Bertelsmann AG owns Sony BMG Music Entertainment.


One of the most successful idols formats in the world is owned by FremantleMedia.We can now all feel free and breathe a sigh of relief and concentrated on the production of the show as authorised by FremantleMedia for the next ten years as per our proposal. Initially we had approached Multi Choice South Africa the parent company that owns MNET as we thought MNET had the experience of running the show. They did not have Zimbabwe in their agreement with FremantleMedia as Zimbabwe had its own airing right so we had to do it on our own. We are aware MNET went into Zimbabwe last year and held auditions for Eastern Africa Idols in Kenya where Erick Moyo won the finals and became the first Zimbabwean to win Idols after Tarisai Vushe became a finalist in the Australian Idol the same year. We are grateful to MNET in two ways, that they excluded Zimbabwe from their Idols and that they opened up Idols interest in Zimbabwe when they auditioned and produced Erick Moyo. Idols South Africa and Kenya are produced for M-Net by Waterfront Television in association with Fremantle Media.

“In last year’s MNET auditions registration started at 8am at the Miekles and entrants were advised that only the first 1 500 people to arrive at the venue were guaranteed an audition.”


That’s now changed we are a Zimbabwean company for Zimbabwean we are going to venues near you we want to touch each and everyone of you as long as you have the desire to sing we will listen to you sing and choose you if you have the idols factor. We are not in any rush we will let you sing whilst we are listening then you will meet other winners from other towns before you go to the finals.

There is no age limit in the Zim Idol auditions we want an equal opportunity for all Zimbabweans. Having said that, like all Idols around the world we are going to set the entry age limit to 10 years. Auditions are open to anyone from the ages of 10 groups are also accepted.

Music hopefuls are advised to keep their vocal cords in great shape, dress to kill and be remembered and get to an audition centre near you on time. If you impress the judges, then you can go to the next round and may find yourself in the final stage. Potential Idols with an existing recording contract of any kind will not qualify.

Zim Idol recognise the diversity of music genres in Zimbabwe so music hopefuls can sing from a wide range of music including traditional, western, kwaito, museve, gospel, English, African, pop, reggae, R&B and rock. If an entrant is selected for the elimination stage, they must be able to sing rock, pop, African and Western music, including English language songs.


This is what The Sunday Monitor said about Zimbabwe after MNET auditions last year:

“The audition in Zimbabwe offered some redemption to Idols East & Southern Africa especially for music purists that may have written off the show’s quest for a continental singing star. The 13 gold ticket recipients in Harare that made it to the next round were a welcome distraction from the international media frenzy about that country’s spiralling inflation and flawed election.

Zimbabwe had more bankable and urbane talent that was far superior to the mostly karaoke singing wannabes in the other six audition venues. Take the Galloway sisters, Sheraine and Meeghan, who bowled the judges over with luminous performances of Alicia Keys’ No One and Tracy Chapman’s She’s Got Her Ticket.

Nicolette Kiige blew the judges away with a powerful voice and great skill on the violin. The same cannot be said about Malawi, which had the worst turn up with contestant after contestant putting on an excruciating show.

What is a hapless judge to do after a hopeful comes up and declares “I am going to sing a song by breackin spears [Britney Spears]?” Unfortunately, the judges’ musical criticism has still not gone beyond Scar saying, “No, you can’t sing, bounce”.


Zim Idols Team:Peter;Person:Phil;David Scobie,Noreen Welch (Judge),Bridget Rodriquez,Ezra Tshisa Sibanda;Makosi,


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