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Polarisation overshadows endorsement for a draft constitution

By Tichaona Sibanda
18 May 2012

Factional infighting in ZANU PF is threatening to scupper a proposed draft
constitution that enhances democracy but contains measures that they say go
against the ‘revolutionary party’ values.

Some within ZANU PF want to remove clauses from the constitution that
prohibits the President from unilaterally deploying troops without
parliamentary approval.

Others are backing the draft, which they say strengthens democracy. The
draft retains an executive president, though with stronger checks and
balances, plus a measure of devolution to the country’s provinces.

The drafting of a new constitution is part of the deal that ended Zimbabwe’s
bloody election violence of 2008. But differences between the country’s
leading political parties remained wide, illustrating a persistently
worrying polarisation of politics.

State sponsored violence left over 500, mainly MDC-T supporters dead in
three months of political retribution. A power sharing deal struck between
the three parties in the GPA eased violence for a while and stabilized the
economy. But the violence is escalating again with talk of an election.

The draft that was released last month seeks to eliminate the problems that
led to the post-election violence. While many in the Civil Society
Organisations and other political parties see the draft as a good document,
there are fears mounting in ZANU PF that the new draft erodes its unfettered
power attained at independence in 1980.

Blessing Vava, information officer with the National Constitutional Assembly
told SW Radio Africa that the only way to resolve difference between the
political parties is to visit the national report compiled after the
outreach program.

‘It’s sad that COPAC is deviating from set down rules that a national report
should be published to give people an opportunity to have a glimpse of views
gathered during the outreach program.

‘At least through this way, it would give Zimbabweans an informed opinion
when they get to see the final draft,’ Vava said.

Dewa Mavhinga, the regional coordinator for the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition
told us from what he has seen of the draft, it represents a momentous step
for institutional stability.

The draft decentralizes the government’s power, strengthens checks and
balances, enables democracy to flourish and provides even greater
protections for individual rights.

As a result of these changes, many believe that democracy in Zimbabwe, if
ever there is a new constitution, will be stronger than ever because
credible institutions bring lasting stability.

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MDC-T speaks on ‘invasion’ of Manicaland by military top brass

By Tichaona Sibanda
18 May 2012

The MDC-T on Friday condemned the involvement of Zimbabwe’s security forces
in the conduct of elections in Manicaland province, saying doing so would
amount to gross derailment of the exercise.

Party spokesman Pishai Muchauraya said allowing the military to participate
in any democratic elections amounts to flouting of the electoral reforms
under the current inclusive government.

‘We are praying that in the next coming election, people should be able to
go out in Zimbabwe to vote freely without anybody in the military beating up
or intimidating the electorate,’ Muchauraya said.

He said the country’s security services should turn over a new leaf and work
assiduously to protect the lives and property of fellow Zimbabweans.

The MDC-T MP issued a warning to ZANU PF they may be damaging their ‘very
slim’ chances of re-election if they unleash the might of the military on
innocent civilians like what they did four years ago. The military was
largely suspected of helping Robert Mugabe manipulate the results of the
2008 elections.

Muchauraya’s sentiments come as members of the country’s military, police,
intelligence and airforce elite have invaded the province in an effort to
help ZANU PF win back seats they lost in 2008. Out of the 26 parliamentary
seats contested, the MDC-T won 20 while ZANU PF only managed to get six. The
MDC also holds four of the six senate seats.

It’s believed members of the junta want to contest the elections to enhance
the chances of ZANU PF regaining lost ground. But Muchauraya seemed not
bothered by that, pointing out that his party has defeated ‘generals and
ZANU PF heavyweights’ before.

‘It’s not the first time we have contested these soldiers or so called big
names in ZANU PF and defeated them. Lest they be warned they’re coming for
the second defeat.

‘What we want to assure our supporters is that these military big names are
not a threat to us. History can tell us we have defeated them before. People
like General Mike Nyambuya, war vet leader Joseph Chinotimba, former CIO
deputy director-general Shadreck Chipanga, party stalwart Kumbirai Kangai
and other vicious characters have been defeated by MDC candidates,’
Muchauraya added.

Its feared ZANU PF is so desperate to win the next poll that they are
planning to roll out a similar campaign to that of 2008 were soldiers
harassed and drive out MDC supporters, especially from rural areas.

In 2008, more than 500 were killed; thousands beaten and close to half a
million were driven from their homes in electoral related violence.

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Jonathan Moyo accused of defrauding parliament

By Lance Guma
18 May 2012

An MP from Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s party has said he will soon
move a motion calling for the expulsion from Parliament of ZANU PF’s
Tsholotsho North legislator Professor Jonathan Moyo.

Felix Sibanda the MDC-T MP for Magwegwe was contributing to a debate in
parliament on Tuesday where he tackled reports that Moyo and Mines Minister
Obert Mpofu, the MP for Umguza, topped a list of ZANU PF and MDC MP’s
bunking Parliamentary sessions between September 2011 and March this year.

Moyo and Mpofu have not attended parliament for 21 consecutive days. Out of
32 sittings held in 32 days Moyo only attended once. Although Mpofu only
sought two official leave of absences, he was absent 29 times.

The constitution says that if an MP “is absent for 21 consecutive sittings
during any session without the leave of Parliament, their seats shall become
vacant.” This means both legislators should have lost their parliamentary
seats by now.

Speaking in parliament Sibanda said Moyo has been drawing salaries and
benefits, but not attending sittings of Parliament.

“I am soon going to move a motion that people who have been defrauding
Parliament by not attending Parliament be fired. Jonathan Moyo has not been
attending Parliament but he has been attacking us, we have been performing a
national service for the country,” Sibanda said.

Sibanda was referring to Moyo’s incessant attacks on the Constitution Select
Committee (COPAC) which is trying to draft a new constitution for the
country. Moyo meanwhile defended his ‘boycott’ of parliament claiming it was

“My decision to make technical appearances in Parliament – which should have
been dissolved some 18 months ago – is very deliberate and quite considered
because I want to make a point about that fact.” He claimed Parliament was
an “idle body” where MP’s picked up allowances while debating non-binding

Moyo and Mpofu are not the only errant MPs. Other MP’s absent without leave
include Kembo Mohadi (29), Saviour Kasukuwere (24), Stanislaus Mudenge (28),
Didymus Mutasa (28), Webster Shamu (22) and Olivia Muchena (28) all from

From the two MDC formations Jameson Timba (29), Joel Gabbuza (19), Moses
Mzila Ndlovu (27) Tapiwa Mashakada (25) and Heneri Dzinotyiweyi (26). The
revelations infuriated many ordinary Zimbabweans, given recent proposals to
expand parliament by another 90 MPs, allegedly to accommodate women.

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Chinese companies warned over abuse of Zimbabwean workers

By Tererai Karimakwenda
18 May, 2012

Chinese nationals who own businesses in Zimbabwe have been strongly
criticized by the MDC-T for abusing local workers and flouting the country’s
labour regulations, with the party demanding that the abuses be stopped

In a statement this week, the MDC-T said the Chinese abuses include workers
putting in long hours, receiving paltry wages and being assaulted by their
employers. The lack of health and safety regulations and failure to remit
pension contributions and union dues were also on the list.

“Should this abuse continue, the MDC calls upon every law abiding citizen to
boycott Chinese products until they learn to treat workers with the respect
and dignity,” the party warned Chinese employers.

The MDC-T also urged the Zimbabwean government to bring the matter to the
attention of the Chinese authorities, with the hope that their government
will encourage its nationals to abide by Zimbabwean trade laws.

The party said there has been an influx of Chinese businesses in Zimbabwe
over the last five years, who are “exploiting” the locals and
 “overshadowing” them instead of contributing to the country’s development
and economic growth.

Luke Zunga from the Global Zimbabwe Forum told SW Radio Africa that the
Chinese are notorious for abusing their workers all over Africa, working
them long hours and paying very low wages. He said some governments “turn a
blind eye” to the problem in order to maintain good relations and secure
lucrative deals.

“They are so powerful that I have been told they even assault policemen.
That’s how much power they have in some countries,” Zunga explained. He
added that they should be held accountable by Zimbabwean authorities and
penalised if they do not comply.

Regarding the boycott threatened by the MDC-T, Zunga said this could be used
to force the Chinese to comply with Zim labour laws, but it can be tricky
because consumers buy what they want and cheap Chinese products are popular
in a poor countries.

Zimbabweans have complained about Chinese abuses for years, making fun of
cheap Chinese products that have flooded the Zim markets as “zhing zhongs”.
These cheap products have also been blamed for destroying Zimbabwean
companies that were not able to compete.

The Mugabe regime has ignored the abuses and pursued what they call the
“Look East” policy, which seeks to establish relations with eastern
countries while ranting against western nations and the U.K. In return,
China has protected Zimbabwe at the United Nations Security Council, voting
against punitive resolutions.

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Police causing accidents and injuries in war against minibuses

Posted by Tererai Karimakwenda on Friday, May 18, 2012 in police | 0

Toyota Hiace Kombis

By Tererai Karimakwenda
18 May, 2012

Several innocent passersby and minibus passengers were reportedly injured
this week in accidents caused by overzealous police in Harare, as the war
between the minibus crews and police re-surfaced.

One unconfirmed report said a taxi driver accused of resisting arrest had
died at Parirenyatwa Hospital, where had been taken for treatment of the
injuries he sustained during the police assault.

Police this week resumed a roadblock campaign against minibus drivers and
taxis which made headlines earlier this year, with the police being accused
of soliciting bribes from motorists and kombi drivers at the roadblocks.

Some witnesses said police officers are ambushing kombi drivers and trying
to smash their windscreens to stop them from escaping without paying. Kombis
driving away at top speeds in crowded areas have reportedly hit pedestrians
and caused accidents.

According to a Harare based community radio staff member: “The situation has
become so tense that the Charge Office Terminus area now resembles a
war-zone every morning as the police and kombi crews try to out-do each

Earlier this year Harare drivers complained that there were too many
roadblocks within short distances, and they were losing too much moneypaying
bribes to corrupt police officers.

Several drivers told SW Radio Africa that they had chosen to pay small
amounts in bribes to avoid larger penalties for infractions made up by the
police. One driver said he was told the wheels on his car do not match.

Drivers in Bulawayo and all the way up to Victoria Falls told the same story
of police corruption at roadblocks. But government officials have defended
the police, saying drunk driving and road violations were responsible for
too many deaths and the police must deal with the situation.

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Goche Claims Toll Gates Money Being Looted

Bulawayo, May 18,2012- Transport Minister Nicholas Goche has accused local
government authorities countrywide of “stealing“ toll gates fees meant for
rehabilitation of country’s road network.

“Recently ZINARA allocated funds to several city, town and rural district
councils authorities countrywide, but I know very well that these local
authorities are diverting these funds. In some cases it is being used to pay
for salaries for council workers. So people should stop blaming ZINARA on
why the roads are not being upgraded, but should blame their local
authorities who are not using these funds wisely,” Goche told Radio VOP.

Goche also admitted that “most Zimbabwe roads are still in very bad
conditions and his Ministry is now looking for new methods for distributing
of toll gate fees”.

Toll gates were introduced in August 2009 as a way of mobilising resources
for the rehabilitation and maintenance of the country’s road network.

Small vehicle road users pay US$1 to cross the tollgates, while drivers of
buses and lorries pay $5. Motorbike and cyclists do not pay anything.

According to official government estimates, the tollgates are raising $350
000 per week.

Most of the country's roads are in a state of disrepair with many littered
with dangerous potholes as result of years of neglect and increased volume
of traffic beyond designed carrying capacity.

Several fatal road accidents have largely blamed on the poor state of roads.
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s wife Susan Tsvangirai perished in a car
accident along Harare- Masvingo highway in March 2009.

According to the ministry of transport, 30 percent of the country’s roads
require rehabilitation, while the remainder needs periodic maintenance.

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Malawi Turns Screws On Zimbabwe Over Debt

Harare, May 18, 2012 - The new Malawian government has reportedly dispatched
a delegation to Zimbabwe to demand a five year-old $23 million debt, in what
could mark a shift in relations between the two countries.

Impoverished Malawi in 2007 gave Zimbabwe a “soft loan” of $100 million
while still under the leadership of President Robert Mugabe’s late ally
Bingu Mutharika.  Harare only repaid $76 million.

Mutharika, who was once married to a Zimbabwean and was given a farm in the
country, died after suffering a cardiac arrest last month.

His successor Joyce Banda has been making a radical shift in her country’s
foreign policy and purging her government of the late president’s allies.

According to a report in the Nyasa Times newspaper on Friday, Malawi’s
Energy minister Cassim Chilumpha, the delegation had been promised $12
million and the balance would be settled later.

He said the money would be used to buy fuel as the country had been facing a
critical shortage for the last two years.

Mutharika’s government had virtually written off the debt, according to the

“When Mutharika was still in power, it almost became certain that the
improverished nation had written off the loan to Zimbabwe, a country with
better infrastructure, agriculture and industry,” the paper said.

“Malawians took it as an insult to the poor majority who still live on less
than $1 per month.

“The Malawi government through the Reserve Bank of Malawi issued the loan to
then hunger stricken Zimbabwe, through its Reserve Bank under very
questionable circumstances as the deal only came into public domain three
years down the line.”

Mugabe counted Mutharika as one of his best allies in the Southern African
Development Community where peers have openly shown their impatience over
his reluctance to reform.

Early this month cash strapped Zimbabwe was forced to make a down payment
for a $70 million debt to Zambia after it unilaterally disposed the assets
of the Central African Power Corporation (Capco).

Zimbabwe jointly owned Capco during the era of the Federation of Rhodesia
and Nyasaland.

Harare disposed of the assets without consulting its neighbour and Zambia
had threatened to block the construction of the Batoka Gorge hydro power
station until it got its share of the proceeds.

Zambia’s Mines and Energy minister Christopher Yaluma said Zimbabwe had paid
$5 million so far and would have paid $20 million by June.

He said a bank account had been set up where Zimbabwe would be depositing
the money regularly.

In January, the two countries signed a memorandum of understanding to
cooperate in the in Batoka project that is estimated to cost $4 billion.

But implementation hinged on Zimbabwe paying off the Capco debt.

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Man in trouble over Mugabe castration remark

18/05/2012 00:00:00
    by Staff Reporter

A MUTARE man faces jail after he was overheard claiming President Robert
Mugabe is infertile because he was castrated.

Maxwell Mutsetse, 30, was arrested after making the cheeky remark within
earshot of a local Zanu PF youth leader who promptly reported the alleged
insult to the police.

Mutsetse appeared in court this week charged with undermining Mugabe's
authority and was released on US$50 bail.

Prosecutor Fletcher Karombe told a Mutare Magistrates Court that Mutsetse
was overhead saying in Shona: "President Mugabe vakatenwa, handina basa
neZanu PF ndinosapota MDC uyezve President wangu ndiMorgan Tsvangirai",
which the State interpreted to mean, "President Robert Mugabe was castrated;
I don’t care about Zanu PF, my President is Morgan Tsvangirai".

Mutsetse was charged with contravening section 33 of the Criminal Law
(Codification and Reform) Act, which makes it illegal to criticise or
undermine the President.

His case is the latest in a string of prosecutions against several people
and organisations charged with allegedly criticising the 88-year-old Zanu PF

In December MDC-T legislator, Lynette Kerenyi, was briefly jailed after she
was accused of insulting Mugabe at a rally where she criticised his stance
on homosexuality.

The following month a bookshop owner was arrested under suspicion of
undermining the President after he stocked copies of Tsvangirai's
autobiography at his store in the town of Victoria Falls.

Again, last August private security guard Zebediah Mpofu was held by police
and warned he faced a year in prison after he allegedly joked about the
state of Mugabe’s health.

And a couple of months before that a police officer was detained for two
weeks after he was caught using the Mugabe’s private toilet at the Zimbabwe
International Trade Fair (ZITF) in Bulawayo.

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Zimbabwe politicians chase the religious vote

17 May 2012 11:59 - Jason Moyo

Mugabe and his opponents seem to be looking elsewhere for the religious
vote. They are taking the battle to the open-air spaces, writes Jason Moyo.

In the supercharged political atmosphere leading up to Zimbabwe’s 2008
elections, a letter pinned in the foyer of Harare’s Sacred Heart Cathedral
marked the turning point in relations between the mainstream Catholic Church
and Robert Mugabe’s government.

In the letter, titled “God Hears the Cries of the Oppressed”, the Catholic
Bishops Conference accused Mugabe of repression similar to that of Pharaoh.
They warned Mugabe, a devout Catholic, that he faced a “mass uprising” if he
did not “repent”.

The criticism hit Mugabe hard and now he and his opponents seem to be
looking elsewhere for the religious vote. They are taking the battle to the
open-air spaces and sports arenas where the charismatic church movement is
on a roll.

At the Anglican Cathedral of St Mary’s and All Saints in Harare, the pews
are largely empty most Sundays. The church, torn apart by a political fight
for control, has been deserted by its members. In contrast, the United
Family International Church, led by Emman­uel Makandiwa, a young preacher in
his 30s, draws up to 40 000 to his Sunday services at an arena on the
outskirts of the city. At Easter, he drew more than 100000 to the country’s
largest football stadium for a mass all-night prayer.

For politicians these numbers are hard to resist and among the throng were
representatives from all sides. Seeing his opportunity, Zanu-PF’s political
commissar, Webster Shamu, appeared on stage in a white suit to sing a Sam
Cooke gospel song.

Swamped by politicians
Although Makandiwa himself has appeared at government events, including at a
rally against Western sanctions, he has tried to steer clear of politics.
But, like many pastors, he finds himself swamped by politicians hoping to
share some of their glitter.

The charismatic leaders have become so popular with politicians that Tourism
Minister Walter Mzembi described Makandiwa and other charismatic pastors as
a “tourist attraction”.

With their ability to draw huge crowds, he said, “we are in for some serious
domestic tourism with all its national benefits and value”.

Editors have also found that newspapers sell better when the activities and
“prophecies” of the popular church leaders are carried on their front pages,
instead of the more weighty issues such as constitutional reform and party
politics. As a result, the “prophets” are dominating the front pages.

They have a strong hold on their followers and, should the pastors endorse
candidates, their flock is likely to vote for them.

Prayer for peace
Mugabe may have seen this coming and moved early. In 2010 he appeared at an
open-air mass gathering of a large Apostolic sect, complete in the white
gown and staff that is the trademark of sect worshippers. Members of the
church usually form a large part of the crowd at rallies and other national

Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai has been attending a
series of “prayer for peace” rallies - mass prayer meetings organised by the
Zimbabwe National Pastors’ Conference, a grouping of mostly Pentecostal
church leaders.
He has professed his faith and told the gatherings that Zimbabwe’s problems
would be eased by prayer.

Political analyst Blessing Vava said: “It is nothing new. Zanu-PF has been
using every platform to gain political mileage. They have been into music,
soccer, churches and, of late, clothing to try to lure as many followers as

“Makandiwa is a good target because he commands a huge following.”

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HSBC victory in UK case a relief to money-laundering monitors

Thu May 17, 2012 10:12pm BST

By Martin Coyle LONDON, May 17 (Thomson Reuters Accelus) - Counter-money
laundering officials have welcomed a British court decision that saw wealthy
Zimbabwean businessman Jayesh Shah fail in his $300 million suit against
HSBC Private Bank.

Wednesday's High Court judgment is also a relief to financial firm
professionals who feared the impact of a Shah victory on their processes for
suspicious activity reporting.

The case focused on HSBC's decision to block four transactions totalling
more than $38 million between September 2006 and February 2007. The bank
suspected Shah of money laundering and sought consent from the Serious
Organised Crime Agency (SOCA), the UK's financial intelligence unit, to
proceed with the transfers.

Shah claimed that the delay in carrying out his requests in part led to the
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe freezing his investments in Zimbabwe and caused him
significant losses. SOCA later gave consent to the transactions as
legitimate. Shah had 'parked' the majority of the money in his HSBC account
following an attempted fraud on his Credit Agricole account in July 2006.

Shah's claim was originally thrown out in January 2009, but a subsequent
appeal allowed him to continue. This claim has now failed. In his judgment,
Justice Michael Supperstone said that Shah "was able to, but did not, take
reasonable steps to mitigate or avoid his loss."

The decision marks the end of a 4-1/2-year legal battle. An interim order
was made at the High Court requiring Shah to pay 40 percent of HSBC's legal
costs, which are estimated to be around £2 million. It is thought that
Shah's costs are in the region of £1.2 million.

The decision also marks a ray of sunshine for HSBC, which has been under a
regulatory cloud for years in the United States for suspected failures in
its anti-money-laundering processes.


The Shah battle raised the burdensome scenario of banks having to justify
every suspicious activity report (SAR) that they filed. The banking industry
files the vast majority of the 250,000 or so SARs that reach SOCA each year.
Under UK law bank employees risk committing criminal offences if they fail
to report money-laundering suspicions.

Shah claimed that the bank had acted irrationally and had been mistaken in
blocking his money. The bank denied this.

The bank was always confident that it would succeed, and the financial
sector will be relieved, said Daren Allen, a partner at Berwin Leighton
Paisner who represented HSBC during the case.

"I question whether financial services firms should ever be placed in this
position where they are subject to an action like this in circumstances
where all they were doing was complying with their statutory obligations.
They have no option but to make suspicious activity reports if they have a
suspicion of money laundering,” Allen told Thomson Reuters.

Allen declined to rule out similar challenges to bank practices in the
future. "This case does not close off that avenue but I think it does
indicate that banks which make suspicious activity reports in these
circumstances are likely to be successful," he said.

A win for Shah would have sparked a wholesale review of the way banks handle
and report their internal suspicions of money laundering. One experienced
former money-laundering reporting officer at a global investment bank, who
spoke on condition of anonymity, said that the decision favoured the
industry. "If one had to start justifying their decisions in the courts it
would raise the bar for firms. This confirms the current state of play. The
test for banks is a very low one and the balance remains in favour for
them," he told Thomson Reuters.

If the decision had gone the other way it would have reduced dramatically
the number of SARs going to the authorities, the source said.

"At the moment submitting a SAR is a cost-free option. You don't lose
anything. If you had to weigh up the financial costs of getting it wrong it
would have a deterrent effect. You might have lawyers crawling all over
them," he said. He added that if the judgment had gone the other way it
could have led to a change in legislation. HIGH HURDLES

The decision was likely to have little impact on the day-to-day role of
money-laundering reporting officers, or MLROs, said lawyer Jonathan Fisher
at Devereux Chambers.

“This case should be regarded as having been decided on its facts, and MLROs
should proceed as before, taking care to address the issue of whether or not
there are reasonable grounds for suspicion in a straightforward way," he

Nevertheless, he said, the case kept the money-laundering process under a
microscope. "The HSBC MLRO (Michael Wigley) was grilled for a number of days
and his actions are now enshrined in a court judgment. MLROs have got to
keep on their toes. HSBC didn't cover itself in glory but it will be pleased
and relieved at the decision," Fisher said.

Duncan Aldred, a partner at CMS Cameron McKenna in London, said that a Shah
victory would have been "disastrous" and that the decision provided some
reassurance for banks. “What's helpful about this case is that it will be a
case that is pointed to to illustrate what people have always thought is the
common sense position anyway," he added.

Banks might want to think about rewriting some of their terms and conditions
to strengthen their positions, said Zia Ullah, a partner at law firm
Pannone. "I also think we will see banks scrambling to ensure that the
nominated officer role is properly authorised and documented," he said.


During the High Court hearing, which began in December 2011 and ended in
March, the spotlight was shone on HSBC's internal processes, which were
described by Shah's legal team as "chaotic" and "under-resourced." The judge
made no criticism of the bank's processes in his judgment, however.

The case revealed the difficulties that hard-pressed reporting officers face
in coping with the huge volume of internal reports filed by bank employees.
Michael Wigley, the bank's money laundering reporting manager, spent a
gruelling six days giving evidence on the critical SARs he filed against

In court, Wigley admitted that the bank had breached the counter-money
laundering regulations as a result of its handling of internal suspicious
transaction reports. The regulatory breach resulted from a mishandling of
the tens of thousands of SARs the bank received in 2006. The court heard
that "large numbers" of internal suspicious transaction reports

(STRs) were dealt with by an assistant and were not seen by Wigley, who
should have seen them under regulations in effect at the time. An HSBC
spokesman declined to comment on this, other than to say that the bank was
pleased with the decision.

In contrast, HSBC’s U.S. unit confronts multiple investigations into its
internal policing abilities. Authorities are scrutinizing client activities
such as cross-border movements of bulk cash, and transactions linked to Iran
and other parties under U.S. economic sanctions, the bank said in a February
regulatory filing.

Confidential documents reviewed by Reuters that originate from
investigations by two U.S. Attorneys' offices allege that from 2005, the
bank violated anti-money laundering laws on a massive scale by failing to
adequately review hundreds of billions of dollars in transactions for any
that might have links to drug trafficking, terrorist financing and other
criminal activity.

Those allegations could not be confirmed. It is possible that subsequent
inquiries have led investigators to alter their views of what went on inside
HSBC's compliance operation.

HSBC says it is cooperating with the investigations, and that it had
 “vastly” increased spending on its U.S. anti-money laundering systems.

In his Shah case ruling, the judge said that despite some "discrepancies" in
the detail of Wigley's evidence the official "genuinely" suspected that
Shah's funds were criminal property when he made his reports to SOCA. The
judge rejected claims that "someone else" in the bank had made the decision
to stop the payments before Wigley. The case saw some confusion about the
appointment of Wigley as HSBC's nominated officer for anti-money laundering
purposes. The judge said that although he would have expected HSBC to
document properly the appointment of Wigley he was under no doubt that
Wigley was nominated for that role. "JAMES BOND" INVESTIGATION

Speaking to Shah on the sidelines of the case it was evident that he was
frustrated at the way HSBC had handled his accounts. In court he accused the
bank of conducting a "James Bond"-style investigation into his affairs.

Shah's legal team at Edwards Wildman declined to comment when contacted by
Thomson Reuters; Shah did not respond to a request for comment. The British
Bankers' Association also declined to comment on the judgment. The FSA
declined to comment when asked whether it would be investigating HSBC's
alleged breach of the money laundering regulations 2003.

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Zimbabwe lawmakers set to undergo the cut

Posted  Friday, May 18  2012 at  20:48

HARARE, Friday

Hundreds of Zimbabwean MPs will be circumcised by the end of next month to
help popularise the latest HIV/Aids prevention method.

The 175 lawmakers would also undergo HIV tests and counselling, Mr Blessing
Chebundo, the chairperson of Zimbabwe Parliamentarians Against HIV and Aids
(ZIPAH) told NewsDay newspaper today.

“We will walk the talk as role models and lead by example to embark on
voluntary HIV testing and male circumcision, as well as to inspire young
people to do the same,”  he said.

“We need to go down to constituencies, provinces, districts, wards and
villages as ZIPAH to spread messages to fight HIV/Aids and encourage males
to undergo voluntary circumcision,” he added.

Mr Chebundo said 20 MPs had already booked appointments for circumcision at
various centres set up by the government and donors.

“Almost 175 MPs who are members of ZIPAH are in support of this and also 25
members of staff at Parliament,” he said.

“We are still updating the list of volunteers. Obviously, female MPs are not
going for circumcision, but we have encouraged their spouses to join us,” he
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Previous studies have indicated that male circumcision reduces the risk of
men contracting HIV during heterosexual intercourse by about 60 per cent.

But experts have warned that circumcision should not replace other
prevention methods.

In 2009, Zimbabwe launched a massive circumcision drive targeting at least
1.2 million men. Last year, the government encouraged cabinet ministers and
MPs to join the drive in order to popularise it.

However, during debate on the pledge by the lawmakers to undergo
circumcision on today some MPs felt it was a waste of resources as most of
them were now “too old”.

“HIV should be a syllabus for the youth at a tender age — not to tell us
here in Parliament when I am already 65 years old and you tell me to go and
get circumcised when I have sired 18 children without circumcision,” one of
the MPs, Magalela Sibanda, was quoted as saying.

Zimbabwe has one of the highest HIV infection rates in the world. However,
the rates have declined dramatically from 29 per cent of the population in
1997 to just over 14 per cent last year.

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Mugabe meets Enos Nkala

By Staff Reporter 1 hour ago

On Friday Robert Mugabe met Nkala at Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo Airport in
Bulawayo On Friday Robert Mugabe met Nkala at Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo Airport
in Bulawayo

BULAWAYO - In a dramatic twist President Robert Mugabe has met one of his
former senior government minister and founder of the Zanu PF party, Enos
Nkala in Bulawayo amid reports he is courting him to prop-up dwindling
senior Zanu-(PF) numbers from Matebelenad.

The President met Nkala at the Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo Airport in Bulawayo and
had a closed door meeting with him that lasted almost an hour.

The two worked together during and after the war of liberation.

Emerging from the meeting, Nkala said they had shared memories of yester
year, adding that they discussed a number of issues of national concern.

Nkala said he regrets some of the statements that he has made about
President Mugabe, but was happy to have met and spoken to him.

In recent months, Nkala, said President Robert Mugabe’s good oratory skills
deceived nationalists – including Nkala himself — to believe he was a good
leader and they thrust him to the helm of the party “hence the collapse of
both Zanu-PF and Zimbabwe’s economy”.

He said worse still, Mugabe had chosen to surround himself with
“cheerleaders” who would not dare lift a finger against him.

“We deceived ourselves and listened to the manner in which he (Mugabe)
articulated issues, so we got carried away into believing that he was a
leader,” he said. “I regretted later on (after forming Zanu as a breakaway
from Zapu led by Joshua Nkomo) that myself, Maurice Nyagumbo and Edgar
Tekere removed Ndabaningi Sithole from the position of president of the
party and put Mugabe.”

Nkala said Mugabe was not even in the country when he was thrust at the helm
of Zanu.

“I engineered the breakaway from Zapu because I did not agree with Joshua
Nkomo on some issues, including military operations, as part of the
struggle — that is why Zanu was formed in my house in Harare,” he said. “I
was the moving spirit of Zanu.”

Nkala said he was one of those tasked to approach Mugabe when he was
onholiday in the country as he was a teacher in Ghana — where he met his
first wife, the late Sally — to ask him to join the then National Democratic
Party as the spokesperson.

“Robert (Mugabe) is a first-class intellectual but lacks administrative
ability,” Nkala said. “He is a talker but not a leader. He should be
teaching at a university not leading the country.”

However he has made an about turn and said he was overwhelmed by the love
and friendliness of Mugabe given what he has said about the President in the

“Zanu PF was a massive party but look at what it is today,” said Nkala. “In
Matabeleland it’s virtually not there and even in Mashonaland people are
forced to vote for it.” He said people who had remained in Zanu PF were
mostly Mugabe’s “recruits” who did not have the spine to challenge him.

“When we were still in Zanu PF with the likes of Tekere and Nyagumbo, we
would not be lectured to in politburo meetings as I hear happens now,” said

“It is this chef syndrome that has killed that party. I don’t know what chef
means but it’s something they borrowed from Mozambique and we never had it
in our politburo meetings.

“There was no way we would fear Mugabe when we were the people that
recruited him.”

Nkala said he was set to meet the President again at a later date to cement
their friendship, adding that it had been a long time since they last met.

He is one of the founders of the embattled former ruling party Zanu-PF.

During the war, he served on the ZANU high command, or Dare reChimurenga. He
was detained by the Rhodesian government at Gonakudzingwa.

Following independence in 1980, he served as the Minister of Finance until
1983 when the portfolio was consolidated into Finance, Economic Planning and
Development and handed over to senior minister Dr. Bernard Thomas Gibson

Nkala was instead moved sideways to being Minister of National Supplies
until 1985, Home Affairs and Defence after the 1985 election. As Defence
Minister he was involved in the notorious Gukurahundi massacre of Ndebele
people. He denies this.

He has stated he regrets his involvement in the Gukurahundi. He says that if
he had the chance he would never do it again. Not only does he describe his
involvement as "eternal hell," but publicly blamed Robert Mugabe for having
ordered it. At the Imbovane YaMhlabezulu meeting held in Bulawayo on 26
February 1998, Nkala, who was one of the guest speakers alongside Joseph
Msika (National Chairman of ZANU-PF), repeatedly denied any involvement and
responsibility in the Gukurahundi genocide.

While serving as Zimbabwe's Home Affairs Minister Nkala rejected allegations
by Amnesty International, the London-based human rights organization, who
had reported beatings, electric shocks and other torture at Government
detention camps after the general election in Zimbabwe in July 2006.

Nkala claims to have written a book chronicling all that has happened in
ZANU PF since its formation, including the Gukurahundi Massacres and the
assassinations of several high profile politicians using car accidents.

He blames the death of liberation war heroes Josiah Tongogara and Herbert
Chitepo and others on Robert Mugabe. He is alleged to have had an affair
with Sally Mugabe.

While a minister in the Zanu-PF government, Nkala became embroiled in the
'Willowgate' scandal, concerning the allocation of new motor vehicles to
government officials, especially ministers, by Willowvale Motors in
Willowvale Harare.

The vehicles were subsequently sold at a huge profit. The scandal was
eternalised in song by Ndebele musician Solomon Skuza in the hit single
'love and scandals' in which he asks "how can someone buy a car and sell it
again?" a reference to the nature of the scandal.

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ZESN granted observer status with African Commission on Human and People’s Rights

The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) has been granted an observer
status by the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR). The
observer status was granted during the Commission’s 51st Ordinary Session
which was held from the 18th of April to the 2nd of May 2012 in Banjul,
by The Zimbabwean Harare

ZESN joins 349 non-governmental organisations in Africa and twelve other
civic society organisations in Zimbabwe such as the Media Monitoring Project
of Zimbabwe (MMPZ), Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum, Zimbabwe Human Rights
Association (ZIMRIGHTS), Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA), Catholic
Commission for Peace and Justice in Zimbabwe (CCJPZ), Zimbabwe Women Lawyers
Association (ZWLA) and Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR).

This new status will enable ZESN together with other CSOs that already enjoy
the observer status to directly interact with the African Commission on
Human and People’s Rights on various issues pertaining to the protection and
promotion of human rights in the country. In addition, the status will also
allow ZESN to report violations of human rights to the Commission through
communications and many other mechanisms that are available. ZESN envisage
that such communication and actions will assist in the prevention of human
rights abuses and promotion of human rights in Zimbabwe.

“We are very happy with the opportunity awarded to ZESN by the Commission
and we hope that this will go a long in promoting democratic elections and
enhancing the quality of elections in Zimbabwe in particular protecting the
right to vote. We affirm ZESN’s commitment to reporting and attending the
sessions of the Commission”, said the Director of ZESN, Rindai Chipfunde

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Mujuru hits back

Friday, 18 May 2012 08:55

Faith Zaba

VICE-PRESIDENT Joice Mujuru (pictured) has slammed senior Zanu PF officials
fuelling infighting through succession battles driven by their presidential
ambitions, saying they should respect the party hierarchy — remarks seen as
directed at her bitter rival, Defence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa.
This comes after Mnangagwa recently told the Zimbabwe Independent he was now
“ready to rule”, although the minister is now backtracking.

During a tense extraordinary politburo meeting chaired by President Robert
Mugabe at the Zanu PF headquarters in Harare on Wednesday, insiders say
Mujuru warned that the party should not tolerate people who undermine senior
leaders and destabilise structures through ambitious agendas.

The politburo meeting, as first reported in the Independent recently, was
called by Mugabe to tackle growing factionalism and infighting in the party
triggered by hotly-contested District Coordinating Committee (DCC)
elections. The polls have left a trail of divisions, wrangling and

Politburo sources told the Independent yesterday Mujuru fought “like a
 tiger” in defence of her political territory and fiercely attacked senior
officials in her camp, mainly Nicholas Goche, Saviour Kasukuwere and Zanu PF
Mashonaland Central chairperson, Dickson Mafios, for working against her
during DCC polls. Goche and Kasukuwere viciously hit back.

Mujuru later turned her wrath to the Mnangagwa faction, which she tongue
lashed in a fit of rage, warning she would descend on them if they continued
undermining her. She also attacked mafikizolos (newcomers) and “sell-outs”
who collaborated with Ian Smith while others were fighting his regime.
Senior politburo members said while she read the riot act, not all her
remarks helped her to re-assert authority.

“Mai Mujuru spoke very strongly against what is happening,” a senior
politburo official said. “She was like a tiger. She spoke about the need to
follow the party structures and to respect and recognise the leadership and
party hierarchy.”

Sources said after Zanu PF commissar Webster Shamu had presented his report
on the DCC elections process and attendant problems, Mujuru took over the
show and started by slamming Goche, Kasukuwere and Mafios as well as other
party officials in her province who did not support her candidates during
the recent district polls.
This provoked a backlash, especially from Kasukuwere whose reaction was said
to be have been firm and stinging. Mujuru was in the process accused of
vote-buying and other irregularities.

The situation deteriorated in chaotic scenes when Mujuru’s alliesstarted
lambasting the Mnangagwa faction. Mujuru herself  blasted the Mnangagwa camp
and warned as deputy president she would not tolerate their machinations
anyone. She said she has never campaigned for positions but got them and
would exercise her authority firmly.

In the end, Mujuru’s remarks left the politburo divided, with some saying
she had reasserted her authority, while others said her lack of restraint
and brawling with juniors undermined her claim to seniority and standing as
potential successor to Mugabe.

However, Mujuru made the remarks while Mnangagwa had already left the
meeting for Mozambique with State Security minister Sekeramayi and co-Home
Affairs minister KemboMohadi. The three are attending the sixth
Zimbabwe-Mozambique Defence and Security Permanent Joint Commissionmeeting
with their Mozambican counterparts in Maputo.

Mnangagwa’s absence during Mujuru’s remarks prevented a potentially
explosive meeting. Sources said even though Mnangagwa was no longer there,
Mujuru and her allies were still aggressive in their contributions.

In terms of the pecking order, Mujuru is far higher ranked than Mnangagwa
who is number 12 in the politburo order of precedence. Insiders say Mujuru’s
position would give her a head start in the race to succeed Mugabe if the
veteran leader quits or dies.

“The hierarchy is only an order of precedence, important in stating who will
act in what position if seniors are not there. Remember politburo positions
are appointed and not elected, so the mandate of officials in those posts,
except the presidium, is not derived from the electorate but from the
president. So while hierarchy is important, it does not make it automatic
when it comes to succession in terms of who will take over from the
president,” the senior politburo member said.

“Every party member, regardless of position, has a right in terms of Article
3, section 17, sub-section (2) of the constitution to be elected to any
office in the party, subject to such rules and regulations as determined by
the Central Committee. What this means is that hierarchy and precedence don’t
always matter. In fact, that’s why vice-president Mujuru skipped the pecking
order when she assumed her current position after a constitutional
amendment, saying one of the party’s second secretaries shall be a woman.
Mnangagwa is senior and can easily ascend to the top depending on the
circumstances and the support he commands.”

However, Mujuru’s allies insist her position makes her the frontrunner to
succeed Mugabe.

The party insiders said most politburo members who spoke at Wednesday’s
meetingcriticised the divisions along factional lines, which they said
threatened to tear the party apart ahead of the elections.

The criticism, said the sources, was directed mainly atMnangagwa, widely
seen as leading the dominant faction in Zanu PF at the moment against Mujuru’s

Sources said when the debate started on Wednesday, politburo members spoke
generally about imposition of candidates and factionalism. They only opened
up when Mugabe told them to be specific and frank and to name people

“President Mugabe was open and vivacious,” said another party official.“He
encouraged people to be more specific and to talk about their own
challenges. He told people to cough up their grievances.”

Another official said: “After that everyone was free to talk about the
challenges they were facing. Most people spoke about the anti-party line
that is being pursued by some ambitious people and felt that this should
come to an end and we should organise the party and work as a team ahead of

“People were talking about people who want the presidency. They said these
people are organisingsupporters on factional lines and werea destabilising

Some of the politburo members who spoke strongly against factionalism and
imposition of candidates werespokesman Rugare Gumbo, DzikamaiMavhaire,
KudakwasheBhasikiti, Francis Nhema, Flora Bhuka and TsitsiMuzenda.

Another politburo member said: “There is a party hierarchy – the presidency
with the president and his two deputies, and the presidium that includes the
chairman and secretary for administration.  That is the way things stand and
you can’t talk about factions as things stand.

“But there are other forces at the bottom; here I am talking about people
like Mnangagwa who want to get to the top. We are not saying that people
should not aspire to get to the top but they must recognise the structures
of the party and these people should not denounce Mai Mujuru because doing
so goes against the party and the president. It destroys the party.”

Contacted for comment, Gumbo, the Zanu PF spokesperson, said the discussions
were frank and open.“People were looking at principles and issues that have
been violated and how people were campaigning for power and looking at
whether there is excessive use of money – like people buying supporters
vehicles,” he said.

“This is the kind of thing that the president took exception to and
encouraged people to be focused and understand why they are where they are
and the challenges we face here and internationally.”

Describing the mood in the meeting, Gumbofurther said: “People were anxious
to get answers. Discussions were lively and people were really honest and
were able to air their views freely. We agreed that divisions are a threat
to the party and these must end and people should close ranks. People who
are fanning divisions were told to stop forthwith. We spoke about the need
to strengthen the party ahead of elections”.

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Security forces intensify Mugabe poll campaign

Friday, 18 May 2012 08:43

Staff Writer

THE military and police chiefs have launched a spirited campaign on behalf
of President Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF ahead of the next do-or-die elections
to regain ground lost to the MDC parties in the last polls.
The security forces have begun their campaign — which is clearly in
violation of the constitution — in Manicaland where it is believed people
mainly in rural areas would be easily swayed because of their painful
experience and bitter memories of the liberation struggle.

Informed sources say after the recent invasion of the province by security
personnel who held meetings with Zanu PF provincial coordinating committee
officials,  a team of about 25 army generals and police chiefs last weekend
held two meetings – one in Chimanimani at Biriwiri school on Saturday and
another in Nyanga on Sunday — where party supporters spoke about
factionalism, imposition of candidates and vote-buying during district
coordinating elections (DCC) in the province.

The meetings were part of the security forces’ campaign to lay the ground
for Zanu PF and Mugabe who is agitating for early elections.

The securocrats are expected to hold further meetings in all eight districts
in Manicaland in a bid to reclaim the province from the MDC-T. Their
campaign is expected to spread to Buhera tomorrow and Chipinge on Sunday.
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s party won 20 of the 26 seats in the
province during the March 2008 elections. It also holds four of the six
senate seats.

Last weekend’s meetings were chaired by deputy police commissioner-general
Godwin Matanga and attended by high-ranking officials who included
Brigadier-General Mike Sango, retired Air Commodore Michael Karakadzai and
Officer Commanding Police Harare province Senior Assistant Commissioner
Clement Munoriarwa.

This was a follow-up to a meeting held on April 29 at Mary Mount Teachers’
College by close to 50 top service chiefs, who included Matanga,
Major-General Martin Chedondo, Air Vice  Marshal Shebba Brighton
Shumbayawonda, Brigadier-General Herbert Chingono and Brigadier-General Mike
Sango, 3 Brigade commander Brigadier-General Eliah Bandama and members of
the provincial Joint Operations Command.

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Govt to tackle inflated interest rates –– Biti

Friday, 18 May 2012 08:41

Gamma Mudarikiri

GOVERNMENT will introduce a policy framework to reduce banks’ inflated
interest rates, currently hovering between 15% and 25%, Finance minister
Tendai Biti has said.
Biti told journalists in Harare yesterday his ministry had fruitlessly
engaged the Bankers Association of Zimbabwe (BAZ) to consider lowering
lending rates, which treasury felt were far higher than international rates,
currently at around 3% on average.

“We are going to work on a framework in the coming few weeks to address the
humongous distortions of crazy lending and non-existent deposit rates. We
have tried to engage BAZ but they have produced nothing,” said Biti.

The government would soon amend the Banking Act, which would see banks
involuntarily playing “the role that a bank in Zimbabwe should be playing”.

Biti said interest rates and other bank charges had all remained at levels
which perpetuated the pre-multiple currency mindset at a time when the
country faces an acute shortage of liquidity.

He said internationally, money was being sold at 3%, but in Zimbabwe,
interest rates were as high as 30%.

“We would have no problem if deposit rates were also meaningful,” he said.

Deposit rates for demand and short-term savings accounts for the period
ranged between 0,15% to 5% per annum. Long term deposits ranged between
0,10% to 18% against lending rates as high as 30%.

Biti said there was rising concern over the absence of serious initiatives
in the mobilisation of savings in the financial sector, a development which
would see government developing market-based initiatives to attract more
savings into the formal banking sector.

He said the banking sector was reluctant to play its intermediary role of
giving credit to local businesses.

“As we speak, we have over US$700 million sitting in banks’ vaults,” he

Biti said while he and Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono had stuck their
necks out for banks in the wake of the indigenisation onslaught, they felt
that they were getting little support from them.

“These banks are operating like foreign banks being run by foreigners. They
need to act like local banks that are foreign-owned,” he said.

Biti said after the flawed land reform programme  banks stopped giving
credit to agriculture –– a position which he said was no longer justified.

He said banks had the capacity to strategise and mobilise lines of credit.

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‘State accounting systems shambolic’

Friday, 18 May 2012 08:40

Wongai Zhangazha

THE Comptroller and Auditor-General, Mildred Chiri, has found the government
ministries’ accounting systems for 2010 shambolic, with constant breakdowns
of the system leading to transactions being processed outside the system. In
a Narrative Report on Appropriation Accounts, Miscellaneous Funds and Donor
Funded Projects compiled by her office for the financial year ended December
31 2010 released yesterday, Chiri said the bulk of transactions for the
greater part of 2010 were processed outside the Public Finance Management
system through which all financial transactions should be processed.

Chiri said: “In my report for the financial year ended December 31 2009, I
reported the constant breakdown of this system. The breakdown continued for
the greater part of the 2010 financial year leading to the bulk of the
transactions being processed outside the system… As a result, I was not able
to ascertain whether all the transactions relating to revenue, expenditure
and assets processed manually by ministries were fully captured in their
respective year and accounts. Consequently I could not express an opinion on
the accounts. I have issued a disclaimer of opinion for 2010.”

The report also accused ministries of failing to follow proper tender
procedures when procuring assets and services.

The office of the president and cabinet is reported to have failed to submit
accounts on time and this affected the progress of audits. The president’s
office also failed to account for about US$750 468, a difference noted after
the Sub Paymaster-General’s account reflected payments totalling US$82 979
436 while the appropriation account expenditure was listed as US$83 729 904.

The prime minister’s office was reported to have an unreliable accounting
system and Chiri could not determine the correctness of the total
expenditure incurred by that office.

It had three different figures within the range of US$9,3 million and US$9,9
million which it failed to reconcile.

Parliament also had an unreliable accounting system with Chiri noting that
10 vehicles worth US$326 802 were purchased by the legislature without
following tender procedures in contravention of Treasury Instruction 1005

Payment vouchers showing details of the acquisition of vehicles were not
produced and Chiri said she could not assess the legality and accuracy of
the purchases.

Chiri said that it was difficult to reconcile expenditure figures from the
Defence ministry due to the absence of reliable accounting records, accurate
and complete financial information.

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Infighting rocks Zanu PF Mash Central

Friday, 18 May 2012 08:36

Owen Gagare/Faith Zaba

ACCUSATIONS and counter-accusations between Mashonaland Central governor
Martin Dinha and party heavyweights, in the province including Vice
President Joice Mujuru,  are intensifying as infighting spreads. In
briefings with the Zimbabwe Independent this week, Zanu PF heavyweights and
provincial leadership accused Dinha of reversing the land reform programme,
among other things, while Dinha strongly believes there is a concerted
effort by politburo members Nicholas Goche and Saviour Kasukuwere to push
him out of office.

Those against Dinha insist that it is because he is not working well with
other provincial leaders and party bigwigs in the province. But the main
reason for the fallout, they said, was “he (Dinha) is anti-people and is
working against Zanu PF’s ideals”, by repossessing land from those who
benefited from the land reform programme, while those close to Dinha believe
that he is being punished for being too close to President Robert Mugabe.

Dinha confirmed he was being de-campaigned but said he preferred dialogue
with those after his head.

“I confirm that I have reports alleging hat I am being decampaigned by
political elements in districts and at political gatherings,” he said.

“As governor for Mashonaland Central I am amenable to dialogue and peaceful
resolution of political problems, be they personality clashes, land-related
or arising from perceptions that I am an emerging political threat to
certain parochial interests. I am not a saint or an angel; where I err my
political gurus have a right to simply call me for dialogue, not to stab me
in the back.”

However, Goche said all they were concerned about was the manner in which
the land issue was being handled.

“I am not fighting him. I have no reason to fight him. What we are concerned
about is the way the land issue is being handled,” Goche said.

“He knows that I have been working with him but I find there are stories in
the media. I have no personal grudges against him. What we want is the land
issue to be handled properly. We are going towards elections and we do not
want any destabilisation of the people who are properly settled.

“I don’t want to discuss issues in the media but at an appropriate forum in
Mashonaland Central,” Goche said.

At a meeting in Bindura with Goche and Kasukuwere, some chiefs complained
that they had not benefited from the land reform programme. Political
commissar for Zanu PF’s Mazowe’s District Coordinating Committee Dugmore
Chimukoko said people in his district wanted Dinha out because he was a
“sell-out who doesn’t respect the will of the people”.

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Security forces tighten mining sector grip

Friday, 18 May 2012 08:29

Owen Gagare

THE security sector, particularly the army, is increasingly manoeuvring into
the country’s mining terrain, making footprints in the Marange diamond
fields and right across the Great Dyke into remote areas. In Marange, the
army, police, intelligence and prisons services have direct mining claims.
Retired and also serving security personnel sit on the boards of various
mining companies.

Security forces have mainly entered into partnerships with Chinese and
Russian companies which bring in capital as well as expertise.

The Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF), which brings together the army and the
air force, is involved in a partnership with Chinese firm, Anjin, in mining
diamonds in Marange while the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) has embarked on a
platinum mining project in Ngezi with another Chinese company, Sinodrill.

The ZDF is also heavily involved in joint ventures in the Chegutu-Selous
area as well as in diamond mining and explorations of new gold deposits in
Matabeleland North and South.

Sources revealed that the defence forces were also working with other
Chinese and Russian companies to prospect for and mine other minerals right
across the country.

ZDF spokesperson, Colonel Overson Mugwisi, said he was unaware of any mining
deals involving the defence forces, but asked for questions to be submitted
in writing so that he could confirm with his superiors.

He, however, failed to respond to the Zimbabwe Independent’s  enquiries and
was reported to be out of his office yesterday.

Sources, however, maintained that the joint ventures with the Chinese and
Russians were aimed at ensuring that the defence forces raise enough capital
to acquire new equipment and pay off their debts as they were not getting
enough funding from Treasury.

But their involvement has raised fears this could create opportunities for
the diversion of funds and compromise the work of the defence forces, whose
main duty is to ensure peace as well as to defend the sovereignty and
territorial integrity of the country.

According to a February 2012 Global Witness report titled Diamonds: A Good
Deal for Zimbabwe, the presence of several serving security personnel on the
boards of companies mining diamonds in Chiadzwa, presented opportunities for
the diversion and abuse of funds.

Anjin board members include Martin Rushwaya, the permanent secretary in the
Ministry of Defence, as well as Zimbabwe Republic Police commissioners,
Oliver Chibage and Nonkosi Ncube.

The principal officer and company secretary of Anjin, Charles Tarumbwa, and
non-executive board members, Morris Masunungure and Romeo Daniel
Mutsvunguma, all have links with the military.

Another company mining diamonds in Chiadzwa is Mbada, whose chairperson is
retired Air Vice-Marshal Robert Mhlanga. Mbada and its associated companies
are believed to have obscure legal structures which Global Witness believes
could be used to divert funds.

“Anjin’s Zimbabwean board members include senior serving and retired
military and police officers, and the permanent secretary in the Ministry of
Defence,” says the Global Witness report.

“Control by the military and police over a major diamond mining company
creates opportunities for off-budget funding of the security sector. The
presence of Mbada, Transfrontier and associated companies in countries with
zero rates of corporate tax such as Mauritius, Hong Kong, British Virgin
Islands and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, raises the questions of where
these companies pay their taxes and whether these arrangements are a good
deal for Zimbabwe.”

“Complex legal structures and secrecy jurisdictions can be used to hide who
benefits from natural resources. Such secrecy is inappropriate for national
assets and has the potential to conceal corruption, tax avoidance or
off-budget government spending,” the report said.

Constitutional law expert, Professor Lovemore Madhuku, said it was not
normal for the military to be involved in activities such as mining, and
said deals involving them were meant to facilitate corruption.

“The involvement of the army is an act of corruption,” said Madhuku. “It is
meant to buy their loyalty, to ensure that they remain loyal, but this is
not normal. If members of the army are to go into business, they should do
so in their private capacities like everyone else, instead of having the
whole institution going into business,” Madhuku said.

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Stocktaking on human rights

Friday, 18 May 2012 09:11

WHEN United Nations Human Rights Commissioner Navanethem Pillay lands in
Hararae on Sunday for her visit to assess the situation she must recall the
words of her boss Ban Ki-moon to stay focused on a trip which could prove to
a rigorous test of her diplomatic savvy and engagement skills. Pillay will
be confronted with half-truths, propaganda, lies and deception coming from
official and unofficial circles. She would need to be smart and informed to
separate fact from fiction.

She must remember what Ki-moon said in 2007 while opening the Human Rights
Council fourth session in Geneva, Switzerland, where she is based. Ki-moon
spoke about need to shed light in the “darkest corners of the world”.

Referring to the Universal Periodic Review — which involves the assessment
of the human rights records of all 192 UN members (now 193) once every four
years — Ki-moon said: “This mechanism has great potential to promote and
protect human rights in the darkest corners of the world”.

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights is a UN
agency which works to promote and protect human rights guaranteed under
international law and in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The office was established in 1993 the wake of the World Conference on Human
Rights held the same year in Vienna, Austria, against the background of
conflicts and human rights violations in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Angola and
Liberia — just a year before the Rwandan genocide. Those involved in human
rights abuses in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Liberia are currently facing
trial at International Criminal Court at The Hague against a backdrop of
complaints of selective application of the law,  even by those who are
advocates of the same at home!
So it is clear Pillay is part and parcel UN institutions and processes
designed to promote and protect human rights around the world. No country is
spared when it comes to the periodic review mechanism. All countries are
treated as equals and have open opportunities to speak their minds.

In fact, Zimbabwean authorities had a field day last year in October in
Geneva when Harare was in the dock — bleating about sanctions and attacking
the United States and other western countries while trying to divert
attention from their horrendous human rights record back home.

So Pillay must carry with her that culture of being frank and open to
Harare. She must raise issues without fear or favour. Her itinerary will
allow her to meet a wide cross-section of Zimbabweans who will tell her
stories which may sound like they are coming from people living not just in
different countries, but in different planets as well. So she must negotiate
her way through all that and more.

Pillay will meet President Robert Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai,
ministers of  Foreign Affairs, Justice and other relevant authorities, as
well as the Chief Justice, Speaker of  Parliament, President of  Senate,
among others.

She will also meet with the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission and members of
civil society in the country. She is also considering a number of field
visits within and outside Harare, including to the Marange diamond fields.
During these visits, she will also meet local communities and civil society
members  to listen to their experiences and views. This is a very good mix,
although it is surprising why the media is not included in her list.

All the same Pillay must be bold and call a spade a spade. She must give
credit where it is due, but ask difficult questions given Zimbabwe’s
appalling human rights record. It is deeply disturbing, for instance, that
in 2012, Zimbabweans are still being persecuted for their real or perceived
political beliefs or affiliation. This is the legacy of President Robert
Mugabe and Zanu PF’s disastrous 32-year rule. Political and civil liberties,
as well as freedoms of expression and association, in all their various
manifestations, and assembly, among other rights, are still being trampled

Human rights abuses in Zimbabwe are still rampant. Pillay will hear this for
herself even though official briefings will be strangely removed from
reality. However, she must be gutsy and help shed light on the darkest
corners of our society.

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Editor"s Comment:Copac process a national disaster

Friday, 18 May 2012 09:08

Dumisani Muleya

THE indignation, incredulity and indifference with which the Select
Committee of Parliament on the new constitution (Copac) and its resultant
shoddy draft document, now a source of acrimonious dispute and contest, has
been greeted in some circles is not surprising at all.

What is rather surprising is why some people are astonished by the outcome
to begin with. For it was a foregone conclusion Copac would be a failure:
its conception and  process were deeply-flawed and hence the defective

What is now needed is a bold and impartial intervention to rescue the
project and keep the implementation of the Global Political Agreement (GPA)
on track before the next credible, free and fair elections. Partisan
interventions, like the one we have from Zanu PF and other stakeholders,
are unhelpful.

So many people have lost track or interest of what is happening at Copac,
largely because of the incompetence, shoddiness and confusion with which the
process was handled.
Right from the beginning, we at this newspaper said Copac was
badly-conceived and that the process was not open and inclusive, hence it
was inevitably going to fail. This was the same position taken by
progressive civil society groups and many other Zimbabweans.

Unfortunately, the main players, Zanu PF and the two MDC factions —in the
name of the GPA and coalition government — conspired to embark on a process
which was manifestly unrepresentative, opaque and flawed. Acting in cahoots,
the three parties resisted the idea of a democratic constitution-making
process driven by openness and popular participation, opting for a dubious

Shockingly, some civil society groups and their calculating donors also
decided to join the charade even though they always claimed they wanted a
democratic constitution-making process.
Naturally, the political parties wanted to have a process controlled by
their elite pact, while donors and their surrogate civic groups thought it
was better to get a new constitution, no matter how shoddy, in service of
partisan political agendas.

In other words, all the players involved in Copac are there for the wrong
reasons — for self-serving agendas. The reason why there is so much acrimony
and noise is because those involved are not genuinely motivated by the idea
of making a new constitution to serve the national interest but by expedient
designs. There are too many convenient and undeclared agendas at play at
Copac — which is now a theatre of power struggles. This is precisely what we
feared from the start.

The main flaws in the Copac process, among other things, include the
The process is inherently unrepresentative and is dominated by politicians;
Its conception and framework were badly flawed;
 There were no proper legal instruments and philosophical approach on how
the process would unfold, except  phobia to openness, inclusivity and
The relationship between the GPA, the next elections and  the
constitution-making process is unclear; and
The organisational structure, control and funding of the process was not

These, among many other issues, were left hanging, rendering the whole
process fragile and disorganised.

If Copac was guided by best practices in Africa and the rest of the world
right from the start all these problems could have been avoided.

The Copac process should have been based on basic components of democracy:
the imperatives of openness and popular participation.

It should have been a constituent assembly in which its members were
selected in a way that allows open and popular participation by all sectors
of society in a context of strong mass support for constitutional reform and

In fact, it should not have been based on irrational fears of democracy. As
it is the process resulted effectively in the abolition of democracy and
thus it became a charade and ultimately a national disaster.

Now Copac needs to be either disbanded or rescued from itself through a
constituent assembly or delegates and experts assigned to rework the whole
process using all draft constitutions available.

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Candid Comment:Green Fuel: Ministers’ ‘ignorance’ of project shocking

Friday, 18 May 2012 09:03

Itai Masuku

GREEN Fuel has dominated newspaper headlines over the past few weeks, but
not for reasons that are unlikely to turn anyone green with envy. In fact,
it is a classical case of why Africa continues to be backward.

Only yesterday, we heard a shocking statement from Energy minister Elton
Mangoma claiming he doesn’t know about the existence of the project, nor
does government. Now if a whole minister does not know about a mammoth
project portfolio, it then becomes clear why Zesa continues to plunge us
further into the dark. The responsible minister himself is in the dark about
a project cleared by cabinet. So why is that man being allowed to earn our
hard-earned tax money? And he makes strange bedfellows with Agriculture
minister Joseph Made who also says he’s not informed about the Green Fuel
pricing policy, when in fact his ministry is a 30% shareholder in the
project and presumably should have a seat on the board.

Why is he fuelling confusion? The ministry has representation in the Green
Fuel Project through Arda. So we in fact have two ministers who don’t know
what’s happening right under their noses. Or shall we say who don’t know
what they are doing?  Or is it a simple case of selective amnesia? This last
possibility is very likely. It is particularly disappointing that MDC-T
ministers are not offering the breath of fresh air that the populace would
have expected. They ought to have shown a difference. Instead we get Mangoma
saying, “The issue of jobs and that of blackmail will not work”.  By this is
he suggesting that he won’t be blackmailed by the argument raised by Green
Fuel that the project must not be scuttled because it will create 5 000 plus

“I don’t care,” declares Mangoma. Is that a statement coming from a minister
from a so-called pro-worker party? And why doesn’t he care?  Because even if
the project fails, “I will still remain a businessman”.

So it’s about him, and not the constituency he purports to represent. In
more progressive countries, he’d be out of office like a bat out of hell
when the next election comes.

“I have zero capital on politics,” he adds. Agreed. However, he says
something instructive for Green Fuel. “They have been given the opportunity
to interact with the government and they should use it.” Clearly,
interaction has taken place before the project began, hence why it had BOT
status and government is a 30% shareholder, has arranged a special water
deal for the company and land has been availed for the project, albeit some
of it under questionable circumstances.

In case the Rautenbachs, promoters of the project who have been doing
business in Africa, miss the hint, the key word is in the term “
 interaction”. In Nigeria they call it a transaction. In Zambia it’s called
a missing page. Others call it oil for the machine. Conservative English
call it greasing the palms. Still don’t get it?

We obviously don’t advocate this but our paper has it on good authority
which palms need to be greased. Anyone who has been following the Green Fuel
saga can identify the palms, some have open palms and the others clenched
ones. They include MPs, cabinet ministers and other top government officials
(names supplied) some of whom are demanding free shares for themselves in
the company so as to facilitate the smooth flow of the project. So the issue
is not about indigenisation. The Rautenbachs are indigenous.Regrettably this
is the way of doing business in Africa. European governments have known this
for ages and some of them give tax rebates for their companies that would
have found themselves in such an invidious position.

In fact, that was the real reason why Transparency International was formed;
to fight corporate - government corruption.

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Speculation over Zimbabwe's invitation to UN

17 May 2012 11:58 - Webster Zambara

A highly anticipated visit by human rights commissioner, Navi Pillay, to
Zimbabwe could have some welcome consequences, writes Webster Zambara.

To the optimist, the confirmation that United Nations’ human rights
commissioner Navi Pillay will officially visit Zimbabwe marks the beginning
of a new era in a country that not only has a chequered human rights record,
but also had a major falling-out with this UN office.

In October 2009 Manfred Nowak, then-UN special rapporteur on torture, cruel,
inhumane or degrading treatment and punishment (appointed by the UN’s human
rights council), was unable to conduct a fact-finding mission after he was
deported from Zimbabwe.

The incident coincided with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s claim that
his Movement for Democratic Change had “disengaged” from President Robert
Mugabe’s Zanu-PF - citing human rights violations and persistent breaches of
the frosty power-sharing agreement between the parties.

Relations between Zimbabwe and the UN were also thorny in October last year
when Mugabe cancelled a trip to Geneva in protest against the denial of
visas to his wife, Grace, and six top aides for an International
Telecommunications Union summit on information and technologies.

So, to hear that Zimbabwe has finally extended an invitation to Pillay is an
interesting development. In fact, it was initially extended in February, but
she could not make it then because of other commitments.

Inclusive government
There is no doubt that the human rights situation in Zimbabwe has improved
considerably over the period of inclusive government, compared with the
period leading to its formation.

Had Pillay visited in February, she would have found the situation was
nearing normalcy. Diamond watchdog the Kimberley Process had approved gems
from the Marange diamond fields and the European Union had removed certain
individuals and companies from its sanctions list.

However, the political temperature has risen since then as a result of the
pending constitutional referendum and prospects of elections to end the
unity government’s barren “marriage of convenience”.

The timing of Pillay’s visit now is the subject of much speculation and
certainly will not be devoid of controversy.

Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs Patrick Chinamasa, who  invited
Pillay, could have spilled the beans. He was quoted by the state media as
saying he had “warned her in advance that news of her coming to Zimbabwe
would trigger negative stories to colour her appreciation of the situation”.

Crimes against humanity
His comments were made when he dismissed a recent North Gauteng High Court
judgment that wanted Pretoria to investigate Zimbabwean officials for
alleged “crimes against humanity”, charging that the landmark ruling brought
the South African justice system “into disrepute”.

Chinamasa said the ruling was part of a regime-change agenda that aimed to
put Zimbabwe in the spotlight ahead of Pillay’s visit.

Such pronouncements, sadly, can be viewed as an attempt to pre-empt the
commissioner’s findings - a scenario that exposes Zanu-PF’s defensive
position should they be unfavourable. It would seem that Chinamasa has drawn
the battle lines too soon.

As human rights chief, Pillay has had her work cut out for her. After a
visit to Syria in August last year she encouraged the UN Security Council to
refer the country to the International Criminal Court for an investigation
into, and possible prosecution of, individuals alleged to have committed
crimes against humanity.

She followed her visit with a full international commission of inquiry to
interview witnesses and gather evidence. Her report found that the Syrian
army and security forces were guilty of crimes against humanity in their
repression of a largely civilian population. These included murder, torture,
rape and arbitrary detention.

Pillay’s visit
It was not surprising then when Syrian President Bashar al-Assad refuted the
findings and claimed that the UN was not a credible organisation.

A similar pattern was followed when Pillay visited Palestine’s occupied
territories. She ordered that the settlements “should be stopped altogether”
because they violated human rights. She went on to establish an
international committee to investigate the implications of the Israeli
settlements on the civil, political, economic and cultural rights of the
Palestinian people.

It was at this point that Israel refused to co-operate with the human rights
council, barring the proposed fact-finding mission from entering the West
Bank because of what Israel perceived as a pro-Palestinian bias by the UN.

During her five-day mission starting on May 20, the South African born
Pillay will hold meetings with Mugabe, Tsvangirai, government ministers, the
chief justice, the speaker of Parliament, the president of the Senate, the
Zimbabwean Human Rights Commission and members of civil society.

Her itinerary also includes a possible visit to the Marange diamond fields.
There could be no better time for a country preparing for a constitutional
referendum and general elections to invite a high-profile commissioner such
as Pillay.

Her visit could lead to further appropriate steps being taken to improve the
human rights situation in Zimbabwe. In this regard, it could provide the
crossover to a new and progressive human rights culture.

Webster Zambara is a senior project leader for Southern Africa at the
Institute for Justice and Reconciliation, South Africa

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Zimbabwe's army puts the 'general' back in general elections
18 May 2012

Just in case you were in any doubt about where the Zimbabwean army’s
loyalties lie, last week’s declaration of unflinching support for Zanu-PF
should reassure you – and Robert Mugabe – that the top brass have his back.

Zanu-PF senator Martin Femai believes attractive women spread HIV. If women
were less attractive, he reasons, there would be less sex and, therefore,
less HIV. “What I propose is that the government should come up with a law
that compels women to have their heads clean shaven like what the apostolic
sects do,” he recently told a parliamentary HIV awareness workshop. “They
should also not bathe because that is what has caused all these problems.”
Dirty women, it seems, have a lot to answer for.

Not to be outdone in the outrageous policy department, his colleague
Ignatius Chombo, the Zanu-PF minister of local government, called for
homosexuals to be evicted from their homes. “Those who support same sex
marriages must be banished from the communities and dispossessed of their
land,” he said. “What kind of madness is this that when we have beautiful
women in our country some people want to marry other men?” Enjoy the
beautiful women while you can, Chombo; soon they’ll all be bald and smelly.
Policy coordination is not a Zanu-PF strongpoint.

Rather disturbingly, neither Femai’s women-blaming nor Chombo’s gay-hating
is the most outrageous sentiment to emerge from Zimbabwe in the last couple
of weeks. That dubious accolade belongs instead to a certain Major General
Martin Chedondo, the army’s chief of staff, who instructed troops to respect
their political allegiance – to the party, not the state. “As soldiers, we
will never be apologetic for supporting Zanu-PF because it is the only
political party that has national interests at heart,” he said. “A national
defence force the world over is there to protect the national politics,
national integrity, the executive and other systems that form part of the
government. By virtue of this, defence forces automatically become a
political animal.”

Take a second to ponder this extraordinary statement. Here you have one of
the top men in Zimbabwe’s armed forces openly and without reservation
pledging his support – and, by extension, the support of the men and weapons
he controls – to a political party. Just imagine if the US Army were to
choose sides in the presidential election. An army is a tool of the
government, and in a functional democracy the people are supposed to choose
the government.

We know, however, that Zimbabwe is no functional democracy, and the army’s
political leanings have never been in doubt. But the general’s brazenness is
in itself a cause for concern. With elections scheduled for sometime next
year, it is worrying that top army figures feel confident enough in their
power (and their ability to hold on to power) to abandon even the pretence
of political neutrality.

Even more disturbing is the news that followed Chedondo’s statement. In an
abrupt about-turn, the Zimbabwean Army scrapped plans to trim its fighting
force from 55,000 troops to 40,000. Instead, it’s doing the opposite:
dropping long-held educational requirements to allow the army to extend its
latest recruitment drive.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change’s Morgan Tsvangirai was quick
to condemn the new policy: “It is not a genuine military recruitment
exercise. It is a recruitment of militia, which will have the mandate to
harass the people come election time,” said spokesman Douglas Mwonzora. “It
is the beginning of the terror campaign. Otherwise there is no need of
reducing the military standards for which Zimbabwe has been known for(sic).”

The concern is that this new recruitment drive is merely a prelude to a
repeat of 2008’s election violence. Specifically an attempt to recreate the
infamous “Green Bombers” who were accused of doing so much of the dirty
work. The Green Bombers was the nickname for members of the National Youth
Service which was implicated in acts of intimidation and torture in the name
of Robert Mugabe and Zanu-PF. They were disbanded as part of the
power-sharing agreement in 2009, depriving Zanu-PF of a potentially decisive
militia force. But who needs a militia when you have an army?

The other important question is precisely which part of Zanu-PF enjoys
military support. The party is no longer the unified entity it once was and
is riven into various factions competing for power once Mugabe is gone. The
moderate faction, led by vice-president Joice Mujuru, lost its main link to
the army when her husband, General Solomon Mujuru, died in a mysterious fire
at his home. Since then, the hard-liners led by defence minister Emmerson
Mnangagwa have established close links to both the army and the police. It
is likely that were the army to intervene politically, it would be in favour
of Mnangagwa rather than Mujuru.

But all is not lost for the opposition. Some reports suggest there is a
disconnect between the top brass blowing the trumpet for Zanu-PF and the men
and women in the ranks, some of whom can see the need for political change.
This could explain the new recruitment drive – the generals are trying to
flood the ranks with loyal cadres and pre-empt a potential mutiny.

This is speculation. All we really know is one way or the other Zimbabwe’s
armed forces will play a role both before and after elections, and their
involvement will not be benign.

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Harare International Festival of the Arts: Zimbabwe's artistic community navigate carefully around state censorship

Fri, 05/18/2012 - 20:39

This article was written for Think Africa Press with Capucine Dayen

Harare, Zimbabwe:

The struggle against censorship for artists performing at last week's Harare
International Festival of the Arts (HIFA) is nothing new. Since HIFA first
opened its doors 13 years ago, Zimbabwe’s notorious Central Intelligence
Organisation (CIO) has been keeping a close eye on the event. Yet, despite
government intimidation, Zimbabwe’s biggest cultural event continues to grow
and offer artists increased local and international exposure.

Behind the scenes, HIFA’s organisers are consistently confronted by what the
festival founder Manuel Bagorro describes as “fairly formidable challenges”
and Zimbabwe’s artistic community always breathes a sigh of relief at each

HIFA’s appeal is wide-reaching and cultural activist Comrade Fatso explains
why. “We’re in an environment which is oppressive. People need on the one
hand a release from it, whether a piano recital or a powerful mbira concert
and, on the flip side, a political comedy or theatre performance with a
social or political message.”

“No, no, there's no naming names”

While some performances at HIFA purposefully remain ambiguous, Zimbabwe’s
main news of the day takes an overtly satirical twist in the play Zambezi
News. The dry tone is set when the newsreaders invite potential investors to
“make a plan” in a country that boasts unparalleled experience in dealing
with “inflation, hyper-inflation and hyper-hyper-inflation”.

Following the retro advertisement for Zimbabwe’s shaky economy, the Minister
of Impending Projects, played by comedian Michael Kudakwashe, takes to the
stage. Modelled on a local politician, Michael shakes his head as he
affirms, “No, no, there’s no naming names". Kudakwashe says he approaches
social commentary through comedy, using it to skirt around the sensitive
issue of jibing at Zimbabwe’s big bosses. “I find different, artistic ways
of approaching a subject. If you call that censorship, well I suppose it is,
but it still gets out there.”

Zimbabwe’s frequent power cuts also hit the headlines, this time in a
tongue-in-cheek hip-hop video called Turn Off the Lights. It’s an all too
familiar experience for the predominantly Zimbabwean audience, which cuts
across ethnic and social divides. The brainchild of the skit, Comrade Fatso,
says censoring himself is not an option, “you know what can happen and you
move forward,” and so despite numerous run-ins with the CIO, he continues to
champion the arts as a way to expand Zimbabwe’s democratic space. As Comrade
Fatso explains, however, the state’s heavy-handed approach has taken its
toll on many and “a lot of artists aren’t brave enough to speak their mind”.

Treading a fine line

Some artists at HIFA prefer to steer clear of the political arena altogether
and enjoy art on a lighter note. Gertrude, for example, says, “we’re tired
of politics, we just want to have a good time”.

Others find themselves treading a fine line between conveying the essence of
their work and avoiding the wrath of the government. Maia Von Lekow, a
musician travelling from Kenya, explains, “being an African artist in a
country which obviously has issues of censorship, you have to be very, very
careful – there is a very fragile line as to how you put the words, so
people can understand what you’re trying to say.”

Senegalese singer, Didier Awadi, navigated his way around the political
minefield by switching from English to French. Awadi said his people ousted
their unwanted leader, encouraging an apprehensive audience to shout
“Degage!” (or “Move over!”). The incident prompted one festival-goer to
whisper, “OK the po po [police] are going to turn up any minute now.”

Indeed, a number of artists are warned that they may be pushing the
boundaries too far. Zimbabwean poet and cultural activist Ghobori explains
that his manager advised him to read only one chapter from his latest poem
to avoid making the audience “uncomfortable”. UK musician, Oneness, says
being a spoken word artist is particularly risky because “there’s no
filtering of the process.”

Zimbabwean MC Outspoken also falls prey to backstage warnings, this time for
swearing. He asks, “What’s the point of having a creative space if it’s
going to be contained and confined?”

Freedom after expression?

Although some of HIFA’s more provocative performers may be expecting a tap
on the shoulder in the weeks to come, Zimbabwe’s artistic community remains
a strong indicator of the country’s political temperature. Cultural hubs
like Harare’s recently reopened Book Café are popular hangouts for
marginalised poets, musicians and cultural activists whose work will
continue to bubble beneath the surface.

HIFA’s capacity to break the barriers of state censorship may be somewhat
lacklustre but it gives an important confidence boost to some of the country’s
artists who are pushing to open up Zimbabwe’s democratic space. Whether on
HIFA’s grounds or in Harare’s streets, “people enjoy when the status quo is
challenged and when people dare to express themselves,” as Comrade Fatso

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Letter from Ben Freeth to JAG OPEN LETTER FORUM - No. 794- Dated 17 May 2012

To the Churches of Zimbabwe: - Ben Freeth

To the Churches of Zimbabwe: - Ben Freeth

Dear Jag

Should the Christians and the church leaders of Zimbabwe remain silent when
we read what Bishop Kunonga had to say recently?

For those who did not see his utterances, he said: "Whites like other aliens
should not be allowed to own land and other properties in the country as
they are strangers."  Does Bishop Kunonga believe that black people should
not own property in the UK or America and do other church leaders agree with

Bishop Kunonga stated that: "I took 3 800 church properties in the region
since their title deeds were in my name. There was no way the properties
could remain under charge of the church controlled by whites and their black
puppets. Bishops such as Julius Makoni, Chad Gandiwa and others are MDC-T
and furthered western interests," Are other churches supportive of such
racial talk in the church to justify taking church [and other] properties?

"Churches should protect Mugabe's indigenisation policies, no matter the
cost. This world is not for cowards and as Christians; we must gear
ourselves for a bloody war against white interests."  Do other church
leaders believe in shedding blood to steal farms, mines and other
properties, no matter the cost?

"Those who participate in the land grab and future seizure of mines and
other properties in the hands of aliens, will definitely enter the kingdom
of God."  Do other church leaders believe in this blasphemy that
covetousness and theft are ways to enter the kingdom of God?

"Elections will give Zimbabweans the opportunity to choose between good
(Mugabe) and death (Tsvangirai). Vote wisely. I am a professor in my own
right and would rate Mugabe's governance as 'very good'."

Are these not the same kind of 'kristall nacht" type utterances that
foreshadowed the destruction of the Jews in NAZI Germany or the Tutsi's in

Should these utterances by a powerful man of the cloth remain unchallenged
by other church leaders in Zimbabwe?  Have we all not had enough of such
talk, backed up by unjust laws and violent action? Have we not seen enough
destruction and destitution?

We all know the famous words of Martin Niemoller - a former President of the
World Council of Churches who was incarcerated by the NAZI's: "First they
came for the socialists, and I did not speak out because I was not a
socialist.  Then they came for the trade unionists and I did not speak out
because I was not a trade unionist.  Then they came for the Jews and I did
not speak out because I was not a Jew.  Then they came for me, and there was
no one left to speak for me."

Ben Freeth.

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To Kill a Mockingbird

May 18, 2012, 1:17 pm

There’s a wonderful moment in Harper Lee’s novel To Kill a Mockingbird when
Atticus Finch the lawyer who shocks the white community by defending a black
man, gives his daughter a lesson in tolerance. The book is set in the Deep
South of  America in the days of racial segregation. Atticus tells his
daughter, “You never really understand a person – until you climb into his
skin and walk around in it.” Seeing things from the other person’s point of
view is, after all, the very essence of tolerance.

    An MDC senator this week proposed a law to force women to dress
‘shabbily’, to bathe less and to shave their heads! These measures, says the
senator, would deter HIV/Aids. The proposal is so ludicrous that one’s first
reaction is to wonder if the senator was joking. Quite apart from the
impossibility of administering such a law – who would decide what
constitutes ‘shabby’ dressing? – there is the implied assumption that women
are responsible for whatever is done to them, because of the way they dress.
It’s hardly original but it is surprising to hear it enunciated in the
twenty-first century when attitudes towards male/female relations are more

    The senator’s remark taken in conjunction with the Vice President’s
advice this week to women to be ‘docile’ to promiscuous husbands gives the
decided impression that Zimbabwe is a century behind the times when it comes
to gender politics. Not surprisingly, Women’s Rights activists were very
angry with the Vice President. Taken together, the two pieces of advice
would result in a ‘shabbily dressed, shaven headed, smelly but docile woman’!
Not a very attractive picture of the modern, emancipated African woman. As a
former Freedom Fighter herself, Joice Mujuru must surely have been accorded
equality with her male comrades? She rose to be one of the top women
commanders in ZANLA and is reputed to have shot down a Rhodesian helicopter
single-handed. Hardly the actions of a ‘docile’ woman!

    When feminism first hit the headlines in the west back in the sixties it
was often derided for being a European concept which had no relevance for
Africa and the developing world where cultural practices appeared to endorse
the position of women in a subservient role. Attitudes have changed and in
2012 Zimbabwe’s draft constitution enshrines the equality of the sexes.
Homosexuality is another matter altogether and it is that which has caused a
major rift between the parties. The draft actually enshrines gay rights but
Minister Chombo made Zanu PF’s attitude very clear this week when he said
that Chiefs should evict homosexuals from the communal areas and their land
should be seized. His remarks have been roundly condemned by Human Rights
lawyers and while Chombo may have been politicking in the run-up to
elections, the sentiment he expressed is certainly in line with Robert
Mugabe’s own views. It was Mugabe’s comment that gays are ‘no better than
pigs and dogs’ that earned him the scorn of Peter Tatchel, the gay rights
campaigner who twice attempted a citizen’s arrest of Robert Mugabe back in
the days when the Zimbabwean president was welcome in the UK.

    Admitting that gay rights are ‘a controversial issue in my part of the
world’ Morgan Tsvangirai told the BBC that for him gay rights constitute ‘a
human right’ He has not always been of that opinion but that appears to be
his present stance and I for one hope he stands by it. What Zimbabwe needs
more than ever is tolerance in all matters but particularly in race, gender
and politics. The views expressed this week by the Senator, the Vice
President and the Minister suggest that Zimbabwe is a long way off accepting
differences in such matters. Zimbabweans are by nature conservative people
but as the tide of returnees increases in the months and years ahead, we can
only hope that their years in exile have broadened their horizons and they
return to their motherland with more enlightened views and increased
tolerance towards differences of all kinds

Yours in the (continuing) struggle. Pauline Henson

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