By Patience Rusere
13 March 2006
Following the weekend arraignment in Mutare, Zimbabwe, of a group of men
accused of plotting the assassination of President Robert Mugabe,
authorities have released a regional official of the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change without charges.
Legal sources said MDC Manicaland Treasurer Brian James was released Sunday
night. Reached at his home Monday, James declined to comment, saying he
remains under a court gag order in what authorities say was an assassination
The exact number of those remaining in custody could not be determined, but
at least seven men are still detained by police, including alleged
ringleader Michael Peter Hitschmann, said to have served in the
pre-liberation Rhodesian armed forces and to have worked closely with Mutare
police in the more recent past.
Members of the political opposition still in police hands included Mutare
North member of Parliament and MDC defense spokesman Giles Mutsekwa,
Manicaland youth chairman Knowledge Nyamuka and activist Thando Sibanda.
Three Mutare police officers were also being held, legal sources said.
The seven could be back in court on Wednesday to face charges under
Zimbabwe's Public Order and Security Act and possibly its Terrorism Act, the
One lawyer representing the accused, Tafadzwa Mugabe, said late Monday that
he and other attorneys were still trying to negotiate bail release for their
Sources close to the investigation say the state case is mainly based on
statements by Hitschmann, who according to state media disclosed a plot to
assassinate Mr. Mugabe on his way to a gala celebration in Mutare of his
82nd birthday last month. This could not be confirmed as Hitschmann not only
remained in custody but according to legal sources has refused
representation by legal counsel.
Reporter Patience Rusere asks Mutare lawyer Chris Ndlovhu for the latest in
a murky case of alleged conspiracy that some consider to be politically
motivated on the part of the Mugabe administration as a way to further
weaken a divided opposition.
Tuesday, March 14 2006 @ 12:05 AM GMT
Contributed by: correspondent
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) MP Roy Bennett fled
Zimbabwe Thursday through Mozambique to South Africa after being fingered in
Zanu PF's dubious arms cache unearthed in Mutare last Tuesday. Bennett, who
spent a year in prison last year after shoving Justice minister Patrick
Chinamasa during a heated Parliamentary debate, could not stomach going back
to prison, sources close to the family said.
He was said to have fled through undesignated entry points
dotted along the Zim/Moza border. Zimdaily heard that police have sent out
search teams across Mutare but their efforts have been futile, and they will
remain so, according to this latest revelation. Senior police officer Ronald
Muderedzi confirmed yesterday that various teams were still out in the field
hunting for Bennett and they were expected to report back yesterday.
"We are still pursuing our investigations in the matter and we
have sent out teams to look for possible leads," Muderedzi said in a press
statement. "We are only expecting them later today. If we are convinced that
he is not in Zimbabwe, then we will seek the help of Interpol. But so far no
further arrests have been made except for those who were nabbed and are
helping police with investigations." Investigations into the arms cache have
led to the arrest of a number of top MDC officials and two ex-policemen and
the recovery of numerous police and army uniforms and rounds of ammunition.
Several other suspects were also picked up for questioning in
Mutare, including Mutare North MP Giles Mutsekwa who has already appeared
before a Mutare magistrate. They were remanded in custody to Wednesday. All
are facing charges of contravening Section 10 (1) of the Public Order and
Security Act Chapter 11:17, that is conspiracy to possess weaponry for
insurgency, banditry, sabotage and terrorism. The State alleges that the
eight men had plotted to kill President Mugabe when he travelled to the
eastern city on 25 February for a party to celebrate his 82nd birthday. "To
achieve this, the group agreed to spill oil on Christmas Pass Highway when
the motorcade would be approaching so that the motorcade would slip and get
involved in an accident," the document said.
The Zimbabwe authorities claim that Peter Hitschmann, an ex
Rhodesian soldier, at whose house the arms cache was found, is linked to an
organisation called the Zimbabwe Freedom Movement, and that this group is
seeking to overthrow Mugabe's government. Security Minister Didymus Mutasa
warned anyone planning violence: "If it came to a position where we have to
eliminate them physically because of what they are doing, then it is their
fault, that is what they are looking for, and we will not hesitate to do
that." The opposition MDC has denied all knowledge of the alleged plot, and
says it is an attempt by the state to derail the party's congress next
"We wish to place it on record that the MDC does not have any
links with Mr Hitschmann, the so-called Zimbabwe Freedom Movement or any
other person or group that seeks to effect a regime change through the
barrel of the gun, an armed struggle, violence or unconstitutional means,"
MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa said. Repeated efforts to obtain comment from
Bennett's wife Heather remained fruitless. Her cellphone was indicating that
she was not available.
Tuesday, March 14 2006 @ 12:04 AM GMT
Contributed by: correspondent
Waves of violence and repression are shuddering through
Zimbabwe ahead of the opposition party's national congress set to be held
weekend where a resolution to roll out mass protests against President
Mugabe's inept regime is expected to be made. Violent clashes erupted in
Mbare weekend where opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai addressed a rally at
Stodart Hall. The meeting was attended by a record 15 000 people.
Four party members sustained serious injuries and are currently
receiving medical attention at the Avenues Clinic where one of them's
condition is said to be "critical." The attack on the MDC members as they
were leaving the rally was masterminded by one Oripa, a member of the police
special constabulary. Oripa reportedly resides at number 18, block 14 Matapi
Hostels in Mbare.
The MDC has since made a report at Mbare police station but the
suspects had not been arrested at the time of going to print last night. One
of the four MDC supporters currently receiving medical attention told
Zimdaily that the Zanu PF thugs abducted him and took him to a secluded
place where his genitals were repeatedly pierced by a bicycle spoke,
rupturing one of his testicles. He told Zimdaily he was also forced to drink
a poison, which is causing him terrible stomach pains.
An injured female MDC supporter, with bright red lipstick and
makeup, could not disguise her swollen, bruised face. She told Zimdaily she
was attacked because she was wearing an MDC T-Shirt after Tsvangirai's
rally. "They told me to go to (British premier) Tony Blair because they
would kill me here in Zimbabwe," she said. "I was lucky to escape. The
police would not help me," she said. Harare MDC spokesman Willas Madzimure
condemned the attack saying the MDC was a registered political party whose
members were allowed by law to engage in party activities without fear of
assault by rowdy Zanu PF vigilantes. "These assaults will not dampen the
people's desire for change," Madzimure told Zimdaily. He said the "Zanu PF
vigilantes will not save this dictatorship from imminent demise."
"If anything, the assault of our members will embolden them in
their fight against this tyranny," Madzimure said. "Zanu PF hooligans will
dismally fail in their project to derail the people's vision for a new
Zimbabwe and a new beginning." The MDC is expected to hold its congress from
March 17 to 19. "The MDC deplores the institutionalization of political
violence as a culture in Zimbabwe," Madzimure said. "We believe in the
battle of minds and ideas and not unadulterated violence as a communication
tool. We condemn the abuse of Zimbabwe's youths by a regime fighting
desperately for political survival. We believe citizens reserve their rights
to freedom of movement, freedom of association and freedom of speech. We
believe in a new dispensation and a new Zimbabwe in which we celebrate ideas
and diversity of opinion."
The ruling Zanu PF party has over the years used its youth
militia, trained in "Terror Camps" dotted around the country, to unleash
violence against opposition supporters. Zimdaily understands that Zanu PF is
stepping up violence on white-owned farms as well. One farmer and one
security guard were seriously injured last week in peri-urban Harare, 50
farmers were illegally evicted and the government seized 88 properties,
including a huge estate owned by the South African conglomerate despite the
presence of bilateral agreements banning the extrajudicial expropriation of
In Harare police closed down weekly public discussions at the
popular Book Cafe, using the new draconian Public Order and Security Act.
Zimdaily heard that there were also disturbances in Chegutu in the aftermath
of a weekend election where Zanu PF won the mayoral poll characterised by
heavy apathy. Soldiers and youth militia were reportedly going from house to
house with lists of people who served as MDC polling agents and other MDC
officials during the poll.
Tuesday, March 14 2006 @ 12:03 AM GMT
Contributed by: correspondent
President Robert Mugabe has reportedly resolved to cede
Zimbabwe's untapped uranium resources to his erstwhile ally Namibia as the
country continues to consolidate its position as Africa's biggest uranium
producer after its envisaged plan to open a new mine at Trekkopje near
Arandis, mining sources have revealed.
The Namibian government, sources say, is making overtures to get
special uranium licenses being offered to foreigners by the Zimbabwe
Investment Centre (ZIC) although no foreign investor has been issued with a
license following governments directive a fortnight ago to put the license
issuances on ice.
"Namibia has indicated an interest in Zimbabwe's uranium
reserves, which are believed to be the fourth largest in Africa," said a ZIC
executive member last weekend. "Gathering from the information at hand,
Namibia is likely to get a second preference to mine uranium ahead of South
Africa which appears to be interested in platinum"
"The Namibians have showed willingness to pour in significant
investment running into billions of US dollars through their foreign
partners in Australia, as you're aware that uranium mining is an expensive
undertaking. I can confirm to you that Namibia is definitely lined up for a
license once government finalises mining legislation,". Namibia is set to
become the continent's biggest uranium producer once the Trekkopje mine is
The new mine will bring to three Namibia's uranium mines and
move it upwards as Africa's biggest producer on the continent. The outlook
of the uranium industry is said to be extremely bullish with demand forecast
to outstrip supply in at least the coming decade, considering the viable
prices its fetching on the global market, thus Zimbabwe stands to gain in an
enormous way if government opens doors to foreign investors.
At the moment, in Africa, Namibia comes second to Niger, which
produces nine percent of the world's uranium, followed by South Africa, with
a production of two percent. President Robert Mugabe last year announced
that the country had vast uranium deposits and called upon foreign investors
to establish their mining ventures in Zimbabwe.
Tuesday, March 14 2006 @ 12:02 AM GMT
Contributed by: roscolee01
By Emmanuel Abalo
The long term fiscal, political and developmental stability of
stronger African nations in modern times is directly threatened by "failed
states" largely due to a number of factors such as ineffective and weak
opposition parties and conflict proliferation coupled with monumental
humanitarian crises. Consequently the problems posed by the failed African
states continue to pose a stark distraction to moving the continent forward
in the global effort of nations' empowerment.
The focus on failed African states is germane to this discussion
due to the fact that the continent maintains the dubious and notorious
distinction of having some of the worst humanitarian and civil conflicts
repeatedly and must rely in international donor assistance and peacekeeping
to exist. Today, the International Crisis Group, (ICG) reports that conflict
situations or very weak nations span from Burundi in East Africa to Sierra
Leone in West Africa and recommends close monitoring, judicial and security
reforms in some of these countries to vigorous enforcement of international
fiscal oversight of government accounting in one instance.
French President Mr. Jacques Chirac has expressed his own
concern of the issue of failed states when he states, "World leaders once
worried about who was amassing power; now they worry about the absence of
it." Failed states have shown overtime that they can effectively and
markedly threaten their neighbors, regional, continental and global
stability. For example, the Mano River basin In West Africa made up of the
countries of Liberia, Guinea and Ivory Coast remains a fragile region which
has exported its brand of rebel incursions, gruesome genocidal tendencies
and hundreds of thousands of refugees due to the initial implosion and
destruction of the Liberian state.
Rebels from the Mano River basin are now being recruited to
provide the "muscle" for all sides in the ongoing situation of the "No
Peace, No War" in another West African hotspot - Cote d'Ivoire. This country
risk immediate collapse without the continued presence of United Nations
This sub region remains an attractive magnet for black market
gun-running, international drug trafficking, export and exchange of "Blood
Diamonds' for arms and a haven for international terrorists seeking a base
for launching attacks against Western interests and their allies. For
example, the former Liberian President Charles Taylor's regime is reported
to have harbored and facilitated the movement of Al Qaeda operatives in
Monrovia in addition to doing "Diamond trade" with them. Al Qaeda has
claimed responsibility for some of the worst terror attacks against the
United States and its allies in recent years and continue to pose a threat.
It is generally agreed that democracy presents the best
alternative to dictatorship and non-representative government which breed
the use or illegal and unconstitutional accession to state power. And so
then the primary question for the pursuance of democracy in most African
states is what is the basis of the state and the reason to be?
The answer to this question is bound to produce a fair amount of
dissension. Logically, this dissension and its supporters, the minority,
must have a genuine way to channel their grievances and seek redress in an
organized fashion - thus - opposition political parties in a democracy.
However, just being the opposition party in name or during
election year is not a panacea for the effective practice for democracy.
Failed or ineffective opposition parties across Africa, over the years have,
in a way, contributed to the alienation of a large group of the national
population for which the parties were organized in the first place. Not all
their troubles are self-induced. Some stem from election laws or government
policies that weigh heavily against them.
Some African leaders have taken advantage of this vacuum of an
"opposition political party on paper only" and metamorphosed into "monsters"
and record breaking human rights violators. Incumbent leaders will apportion
and utilize unlimited power as they can get away with without any check and
or balance. In the Central African Republic, former President Jean Bedell
Bokasa became Emperor Bokasa amidst unconfirmed reports of cannibalism. Poor
in resources and unable to rejuvenate themselves, most African opposition
political parties appear set to continue to play a minor role for a long
The fractious opposition in Zimbabwe has unwittingly allowed
President Robert Mugabe to mislead his nation into economic depravity and
hunger. All of the ingredients for a violent uprising and regional
instability such as - a disaffected military, marginalized population, human
rights abuses, and gradual collapse of social and political institutions -
may be present in this southern African country which was once the bread
basket of that region.
In Guinea, current President Lansana Conte seized power military
coup 1984 and managed transfer to civilian government 1993 based on 1990
constitution. President Conte strengthened power through harassment of
opposition, students and press. Constitutional amendment approved November
2001 extended presidential term from five to seven years. December 2003
presidential elections widely considered fraudulent. Mr. Conte won over 95
per cent of vote. The opposition in Guinea has been decimated though
harassment by the government, financial woes and inability to mount an
effective national and united campaign to challenge President Conte. The
resultant is the slow demise and steady deterioration of social and
political institutions in that country.
The fear in Guinea is how the vacuum of state power will be
filled upon the demise of President Conte at some point. In Liberia,
diplomatic and human rights sources are already grumbling about the "no
show" of the opposition since the inauguration of the Ellen Johnson
Administration. It appears, due to high poverty level, most opposition
politicians would rather hustle for a government job under the guise of the
"need for an inclusive" government rather than fulfill their obligation of
representing and projecting the views and interests of the minority who hold
a different view for an effective democracy. The age old argument of some of
these opposition politicians is "I have to eat before I talk politics."
Recently in South Africa, the ruling African National Congress
(ANC) swept local polls as a result of a weak and non credible opposition's
failure to capitalize on the Thabo Mbeki government's failure to address
glaring poverty conditions affecting about 23million South Africans, a 26
percent unemployment rate and bitter infighting in the ANC.
AN EFFECTIVE OPPOSITION ROAD-MAP
Opposition political parties in most African countries must
first identify their rights as guaranteed in the national constitution and
vigorously exercise those rights. A credible opposition in Africa today must
demonstrate that it is viable, credible and, above all, can focus on
maintaining a national presence rather than ethic loyalties. They must see
themselves as a government-in-waiting and fully capable of participating in
the national life of the nation and not merely a party out of power and
based in the capital. Its own philosophy and ideology must appeal to the
largest and ethnically blind populace as possible to merit any relevance.
The opposition must also work diligently to attract the best
minds locally that can research, develop and apply political, social, fiscal
and economic alternatives to national issues for the general good of the
nation. Another ideal is the formation of a united opposition climate such
as building alliances and constituency building capacity in an effort to
yield a credible representation in elections. Long term planning for
political maturity and ultimate governance is not a luxury either. And so in
an effort to break the cycle of contributing to one party state,
dictatorship and failed nations, the African opposition must transcend
"protest politics" and elect a path to national relevance.
About the Author:
Emmanuel Abalo is an exiled Liberian journalist, media and human
rights activist. He is a former Acting President of the Press Union of
Liberia (PUL). Mr. Abalo presently resides in Pennsylvania, USA and works as
an analyst with CITIGROUP, North America.
By Blessing Zulu
13 March 2006
United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan arrived in Cape Town Monday to
open a Southern African tour, while some officials in Harare reacted angrily
to the news that Zimbabwe was not on his itinerary though such a visit has
been long awaited.
Annan is slated to meet Mr. Mugabe's counterparts in South Africa,
Madagascar, the Republic of the Congo, and the Democratic Republic of the
Annan's decision to bypass Harare was perceived there as a snub. The
state-owned Herald newspaper quoted Foreign Ministry spokesman John Mayowe
as saying that U.N. Under Secretary for Political Affairs Ibrahim Gambari
assured President Robert Mugabe in December at a summit in Mali that Annan
would visit the country this month.
Zimbabwe's permanent representative to the U.N., Boniface Chidyausiku, said
Britain and the United States were trying to politicize the proposed Annan
visit by urging that Gambari visit Harare first to ensure conditions set by
Annan have been met - among them fuller cooperation by the government with
U.N. humanitarian aid efforts.
President Mugabe has declared that he has had his fill of U.N. envoys and
would only receive Annan. He dubbed the last U.N. envoy in Harare,
humanitarian aid coordinator Jan Egeland, "a liar," and has also had hard
words for special envoy Anna Tibaijuka, who in July 2005 delivered a damning
report on Harare's slum clearance drive.
Relations have remained tense between Harare and the U.N. Late last year,
Mugabe refused to allow the U.N. to set up tents to shelter thousands made
homeless in the government's now-infamous May-July 2005 Operation
Murambatsvina. It has also proposed to level a model home built with U.N.
assistance at a transit camp.
UN Integrated Regional Information Networks
March 13, 2006
Posted to the web March 13, 2006
The Mozambican authorities and emergency partners are on high alert as the
water level in the Zambezi River continues to rise well above flood warning
Mozambique's largest river cuts through the northern province of Tete, and
central provinces of Zambezia and Sofala.
On Monday morning the level of the Zambezi River in Caia, in the central
province of Sofala, rose to 6.36 metres, according the National Institute of
Disaster Management (INGC). The flood alert level is 5 metres.
"This is a cause of concern as the levels continue to rise and more rain is
forecasted," said Francisco Orlando, the provincial director of INGC in the
central province of Zambezia, home to over three million people.
Orlando told IRIN the main concern was that should widespread flooding
occur, there would be a need for urgent assistance to evacuate people.
Although nationally the government and its partners are on standby, in
Zambezia they only have three boats - which take between 10 to 15 people at
a time. Basic supplies including tents and food, would also be required.
Orlando said they are especially concerned for communities in Mopeia and
Chinde districts in Zambezia. In Luabo, the administrative centre of Chinde,
some 54,000 people live precariously close to the river Licungu and are
unwilling to leave their farms.
Since the beginning of the year, 31 people have lost their lives due to the
heavy rains, according to official figures. "The impact of this year's rainy
season could have been much worse if it had not been for the government's
programme to evacuate populations living in low-lying valleys in flood-prone
areas," said Rita Almeida, head of the INGC's planning department.
Most communities at risk that live along the Zambezi and the Pungue rivers
have agreed to move to higher ground, even if they return to farm in the
fertile flood plains.
The INGC has improved its contingency planning since disastrous floods in
2000 killed 700 people and displaced hundreds of thousands in the south of
[ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations ]
March 13, 2006,
By Andnetwork .com
Government will soon come up with legislation banning gold panning,
which has resulted in serious environmental degradation in some parts of the
country, chief mining commissioner Mr Fredson Mabhena has said.
Mr Mabhena told the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines,
Environment and Tourism last week that there was need to find a lasting
solution to the problem of gold panning.
He was briefing the committee on the progress made in drafting the
Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill.
"On the issue of panning, we think it is a short-time gain measure and
basically we are banning that. My minister (Mines and Mining Development
Minister Cde Amos Midzi) is the one who should announce this, but we are
moving towards that," Mr Mabhena said.
Gold panning, he said, had caused a lot of damage to the environment.
It has also resulted in the death of those involved, apart from
haemorrghing the economy through illegal gold deals and facilitating
smuggling. Government has in the past tolerated gold panning activities
provided they were conducted in a manner that did not pose a threat to the
Mr Mabhena said in a widened move to ensure that the mining sector
played a pivotal role in conserving the environment, an environmental fund
would be established to which mining companies would contribute.
Turning to the issue of dormant mining claims, he said there were
proposals to reclaim them.
"There are numerous claims lying idle. We want to come up with a
situation in which when you register a claim you must be able to work on
it," Mr Mabhena said.
A senior official in the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development, Mr
Titus Nyatanga, told the committee that it had taken long to finalise the
Bill because there were a number of issues that needed to be considered.
"What we are striving for is that at the end of the day we have a
durable document," he said.
Other highlights of the Bill included provisions for Government to
acquire 50 percent ownership of some mines, both new and existing, over the
next seven years.
Source: The Herald
The Herald (Harare)
March 13, 2006
Posted to the web March 13, 2006
SEVERAL tonnes of Zimbabwean kapenta fish worth billions of dollars are
being smuggled into Zambia daily by employees of some fishing rigs in
Kariba, the hub of the country's kapenta industry.
Investigations by the Parks and Wildlife Management Authority have revealed
that the scam could be prejudicing Zimbabwe of more than $30 billion every
week. The workers, who are employed by licensed fish operators, reportedly
meet fish poachers on the Zambian side where they offload the bulk of the
kapenta, which they quickly sell and sail back to the Zimbabwean side to
under-declare their catch to the National Parks and Wildlife Management
The fish is then smuggled into Zambia through undesignated crossing points,
where it is understood there is a big market for kapenta. Although the bulk
of the kapenta fish goes undeclared, the operators still make an estimated
$5 billion per day as kapenta has now become expensive. In supermarkets, 250
grammes of dried kapenta fish cost around $270 000, which is more than the
cost of a kilogramme of low grade beef in some butcheries. The parks
authority has over the years failed to capitalise on the fishing industry to
benefit f rom its management efforts.
Not only have some Zimbabwean fish operators become overnight billionaires
by clinching illegal deals with agents from neighbouring countries, but they
also pay unrealistic permit fees that are not sustainable for the proper
management of major water sources. Parks and Wildlife Management Authority
public relations manager Retired Major Edward Mbewe yesterday said the
authority was failing to meet some of its obligations in the areas of
management and research because of the dishonesty of some fish operators.
"The permit fees we were charging were based on the wrong figures of fish
declared to us and now we are aware that more fish and in particular kapenta
is being smuggled into Zambia. There is a likelihood that foreign currency
is also being exchanged in the deals and at the end of the day it is the
country that loses out," Rtd Maj Mbewe said. He said most fish operators
were hoodwinked as the clandestine deals were normally conducted away from
Zimbabwean shores but in some cases operators are involved.
"We are intensifying our patrols at Lake Kariba because we intend to
continue raising our permit fees in accordance with what they are benefiting
from the kapenta fish. We are not able to charge the actual amount we want
at the moment because during the meetings we held with the operators, they
indicated they were not making much out of the business at the moment," Rtd
Maj Mbewe said.
He added that a further review of the permit fees will be made as soon as
they have acquired enough tangible evidence on the under-declaring of fish
caught. "We know this is what is happening but need to strengthen our
evidence to be able to present it in a court of law before we come up with a
decision to further hike permit fees depending on our findings," he said.
Last week the authority increased the Kariba fishing permits to $500 million
up from $15 million per year while Darwendale, known for some of the best
rare fish species i n the country, was raised to $250 million from $10
million. Last month the authority increased operators' permit fees for Lake
Chivero to $1 billion a year up from $20 million. Lake Chivero has the
largest population of fish in Zimbabwe owing to the high nutrient value of
its water. Apart from the permit fees, all fish operators are required to
pay an additional development fee of $10 million every month.
The parks authority, which does not have the foreign currency it needs to
enhance its operations, can realise trillions of dollars if it also engages
regional fishing companies. Stakeholders in the fishing industry said it was
apparent that various types of Zimbabwean fish species are on demand in
regional and international markets.
They said what was missing was a proper marketing strategy that would close
all loopholes that promoted or encouraged illegal trade. Environment and
Tourism Minister Cde Francis Nhema said Zimbabwe could survive on proceeds
from its wide array o f natural resources if all stakeholders were serious.
"We have to work hard to ensure that we maximise benefits from our natural
resources. We have a vast array of them from aquatic to wildlife species and
the beautiful scenery of some of our tourist destinations. What we also need
to make our mission complete is to closely and jealously guard against the
abuse of these resources by some elements without the development of the
country at heart." In addition to other aquatic benefits, crocodile farming,
which contributes significantly to the national income of other countries,
is under-rated in Zimbabwe.