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The Zimbabwe Mugabe didn't want you to see
By Robin Hammond
5:30 AM Sunday May 20, 2012
Millions suffer poverty and malnutrition under Robert Mugabe's regime in Zimbabwe, while their leaders fly around the world in chartered planes for shopping trips. Photo / Robin Hammond
Millions suffer poverty and malnutrition under Robert Mugabe's regime in Zimbabwe, while their leaders fly around the world in chartered planes for shopping trips. Photo / Robin Hammond

While working undercover along the Zimbabwe border, Kiwi photojournalist Robin Hammond was arrested and taken into custody by Robert Mugabe's brutal henchmen. Released last week after 25 days in a lice-infested prison cell, he tells his own story for the first time.

The muggy, impenetrable darkness of the African night offered me little solace as I was pushed into the tiny prison cell. The smell of human sweat was overpowering as I focused on a tangle of limbs on the concrete floor. The heavy door slammed behind me with a violent thud.

As the iron bolt slid into place, the white eyes of three-dozen prisoners stared up at me. Finally, after almost a decade as a photojournalist, I understood their fear.

I was cut off from the world, a helpless prisoner in the bloodied hands of Robert Mugabe's brutal regime. Just how had I found myself in this position? Would I have been smarter to just have shaken Zimbabwe out of my system?

ZIMBABWE IN 2012 is a largely forgotten corner of the world. Despite the presence of Mugabe as Africa's most suave and enduring bogeyman, international correspondents have long since decamped to Afghanistan and, in more recent times, the Arab Spring struggles for liberty at the other end of the African continent.

Yet, as a journalist, I've never been able to let go of Zimbabwe. It just got under my skin.

I first visited Harare as a photojournalist in 2007. By the end of 2008, after four difficult assignments, the country's economic crisis and the arresting poverty and malnutrition had left me emotionally and physically wrung out. It was a situation without hope. The economy was imploding, impoverishing millions, while the leaders flew around the world in chartered planes for shopping trips.

Hundreds of thousands had already left for South Africa. I even helped some of them escape. I understood exactly why they wanted to leave. I didn't want to be there either.

In 2008, the year when Zimbabwe's opposition party, the MDC, won one election, their supporters were tortured and killed into withdrawing from the run-off. It was the year I covertly photographed a mobile clinic full of semi-conscious cholera victims, as Mugabe denied the disease's existence with a wave of a manicured hand. Children died because hospitals ran out of antibiotics.

I didn't want to return, but Zimbabwe somehow draws you back. In 2009 I was one of the first journalists to enter the Marange diamond fields since the massacres of 2008. There I documented military syndicates mining diamonds in contravention of the Kimberley Process. It was one of the most dangerous journeys of my life.

Evidence gained from the trip was submitted to the United Nations as proof of slavery and violent atrocities being carried out by Mugabe's regime in the relentless pursuit of diamonds.

That report effectively made me an enemy of the state and I withdrew again. But in November last year I was awarded the Carmignac Gestion Photojournalism Award to document Mugabe's shocking legacy for a book and photographic exhibitions in Europe. I told colleagues in London that this was my big chance to spend serious time in the country.

But with this amazing opportunity also came enormous responsibility and risk: responsibility to the Zimbabwean people whose stories needed to be told, and risk to myself.

To get the story I would have to travel further across and deeper into Zimbabwe than ever before.

IN ZIMBABWE, as a foreign photographer, there are no easy roads. Over the past five months I covered thousands of kilometres. To embark on the assignment I had first requested permission from the Zimbabwean authorities but, as I anticipated, was given no clearance. I would have to work below the radar.

With the aim of documenting those worst afflicted by Mugabe's tyrannical rule, I worked to a strict regime: early mornings were safest as there were fewer people around. The thugs who would seek to arrest me in the course of my work, would be hung over.

For four months I worked to this format. Dodging the police, the Central Intelligence Organisation and informants. Trying to stay one step ahead of the machine. It was unsafe to return to some locations - once news was out that a white man with a camera had been seen, the security agents would come hunting. This meant time with interviewees was a luxury.

Time is frequently the enemy of photography. Many people think you turn up, take a photograph then leave. It's not that easy. Often the best images come from hours of watching, waiting, moving around your subject hoping the elements will all slide into place in that one instant that communicates the story.

February was when I first ran out of time. I was seen by Mugabe's agents photographing a farm that had been looted by high-ranking politicians including the Governor of the region, Christopher Mushohwe. The farm once employed 5000 locals and exported vegetables to Britain, bringing in a reported US$15 million a year.

Land invasion and the eviction of white farmers made huge headlines around the world, but consider what has been left behind. That has rarely been reported.

In Zimbabwe, where unemployment is now as high as 95 per cent, an employed individual may support as many as 10 extended family members. The loss of 5000 jobs can mean the impoverishment of 50,000 people. There is no government support to fall back on. The result can be devastating. Men enter into illegal and dangerous mining, girls are married off young, mothers forced into prostitution to feed their children. HIV increases, families starve, children stop going to school.

Most of the farm had been covered in tall grass. It was the perfect metaphor for a failed state. It was also a familiar scene in this country, once dubbed "the bread basket of Southern Africa". I went to farms where enormous brick tobacco barns stood with trees growing through the middle. I walked through the skeletal remains of great greenhouses that once grew millions of roses for the florists of London and Paris.

But this farm was also under surveillance. I was exposed because I broke my own rules and made the mistake of photographing the farm in the afternoon. Four plainclothed men and a police officer with an AK47 approached me as I returned to my car. I was arrested.

Thankfully, I was only held overnight but the experience left me shaken. Worse still, I got word from an associate that the police were looking for a white photographer who was seen at Mugabe's birthday the week before. Me. I had no option but to head for the border.

IT WAS a terrifyingly close shave and I counted my blessings while sipping a cold beer in Zambia. But my assignment wasn't finished. I had intended to capture images of Zimbabweans crossing the border into South Africa. So I let the dust settle, then on April 15 I went back in.

I had promised my fiancee, Aude, that this trip would be my last. It would be a quick journey across the border..

Once inside Zimbabwe, guided by a local fixer, I followed a group of border-jumpers into the no man's land that separates Zimbabwe and South Africa, across the Limpopo River. Our goal was to make it to the border fence, but we spotted a South African border patrol and had to make a run for it back to the Zimbabwe side.

On returning to the hotel that morning the police were waiting for me. I now believe the hotel staff had tipped them off. I was taken to Beitbridge police station, the closest to the border with South Africa.

This was no ordinary situation. From the beginning of my arrest, the President's Office (policemen representing the President) were involved, their presence lurking in the background. It became clear that bribery in the early stages was not an option.

I was put through interrogation in a tiny police cell at the station. Their plan was simple: to bully and terrify me into confessing to whatever charge they wanted me to admit. In my case they wanted me to confess to being a journalist, a spy or both.

My interrogator would usually stand, I would be told to sit on the floor. Sometimes he would hold a stick and tap it against his leg.

Sometimes as many as nine interrogators at a time would be shouting, trying to get me to admit that I was lying to them. I felt alone, powerless, at the mercy of my tormentors. They wouldn't let me call a lawyer or my family. One of the officers spat at me: "You will rot in jail."

I saw them beat many of the prisoners. Sometimes it would be a single slap, other times they would punch and kick. One young man was beaten in front of me with a broom stick until it broke on his back. I was lucky enough to escape their violence.

Despite many hours of interrogation, every day for three days, I never admitted to being a photojournalist. I maintained that I had once been a photographer but that now, as stated on my immigration form, I was a teacher.

The police station did not have internet but some of the officers were able to get online on their phones. They had also gone over the border to South African Immigration who, they told me, were able to confirm I was a photojournalist working on human rights issues for British publications.

I WAS TOLD I was going to court. As I was taken before the judge in chains, I saw the police had printed an article from an internet site detailing my arrest in February that year. The article described me as an award-winning photojournalist.

When I was arrested the first time I also claimed to be a teacher. The article came out after that earlier conviction, based on a press release from a human rights charity.

At the time I complained bitterly to this organisation, telling them they put my work at risk and the life of my fixer who they had named.

I was convicted of taking photos in a protected area. The police saw an image of the Limpopo River with Beit Bridge in the foreground on my camera. I had taken it while walking across the border on my way into Zimbabwe. The judge threw out the charge of breaching the Immigration Act by working, and I pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of taking photos in a protected area.

I was sentenced to a US$150 ($198) fine or a 60-day prison sentence. I, of course, chose to pay the fine.

With wrists and ankles shackled, standing in the dock, I found myself elated. Now I could go home to my fiancee in South Africa and to the new life in Paris we were planning ... but instead of releasing me I was taken to Beitbridge Prison.

At the back of the court my fate had already been sealed by others with a sinister interest in my case.

Unknown to me, immigration officials were also in the courtroom and had immediately issued a warrant for my detention pending deportation. They argued that a foreigner committing an illegal act in their country must be sent home.

There is no actual law that requires this, but given that the police did not secure the major conviction they had been aiming for this was the only way they could really punish me.

To compound my punishment, Immigration insisted that I be deported to New Zealand and that I should be sent to Harare for that. "We are in no rush at all," they told my lawyer.

BY THE time I was taken to my cell, darkness had set in. The cell in which I spent most of my time was a 5m by 10m concrete-walled room. As I was pushed into the cell I saw a sea of limbs squirming in the faded light.

Crammed together like sardines, 38 men were sleeping side by side. Each was unable to even roll over without disturbing the inmate on either side. The smell of stale sweat and urine filled the air.

We were given one blanket, two if we were lucky. Each afternoon, between lock-up and sundown, we would go through our precious blankets killing lice. I would fall asleep each night to a chorus of scratching.

There was one non-flush toilet for the 250 prisoners, but no toilet paper or soap was provided. The guards were often drunk. They beat a few people, but the brutality was nothing like the police beatings. Some were friendly. Some were thugs.

In 2008, prisoners had been starving to death in Beitbridge Prison. This may have been what led the officer in charge to tell us, in one of his grand weekly monologues, that we were "lucky to have food and water".

The food we were handed out was full of weevils. During a visit to the ration room I saw our food was in a bag labelled "animal feed".

My cell was for foreigners, juveniles, and the elderly: the misfits. Cephas, a Nigerian, was imprisoned for not having a visa to visit Zimbabwe. One man had lost his passport so was serving a 30-day sentence. Fourteen-year-old Bright was locked up for border-jumping. Lucky, 15, was arrested with his 81-year-old grandfather for stealing cattle. I felt a strange affinity with my fellow prisoners but I kept many at arms' length, fearing the police might try and use them to get information from me.

I HAD LEGAL representation from the not-for-profit organisation Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights.

Their meeting with Immigration did not go well. They were suspicious of my activities and especially of all the stamps in my passports. Immigration thought I may be a spy and they were looking to transfer me to Harare for further interrogation. I started to panic.

The lawyers left and I started to devise a plan of defence. I would have to continue with the line that I used to be a photographer, hence all the stamps in my passport and all the information online saying I was a photojournalist, but for the past two years I'd been teaching photography, which was why I wrote "teacher" on my immigration form.

My partner, Aude, had designed my photography website. The next day I managed to sneak out a message through a visiting friend telling her what to do. By the following day, my website was describing me as photography teacher offering portfolio reviews and assistance to those who want to "move to the next level in photography" and "reach their image-making goals".

My lawyers had to get back to the capital Harare, 580km to the north. From there they would continue to talk to Immigration and push them to move forward with my deportation. Immigration started blaming the delay in my deportation on the prison service, saying they had transport problems. I took this as a good sign. If the police wanted to investigate me in Harare they could send me up there in a police car.

Prison life was painstaking. I managed to get a magazine into the prison and read it cover to cover. The only other reading material there was the Bible. My magazine quickly did the rounds of those who could read.

I made a schedule to keep fit and occupied. I started a push-up competition in my cell. There wasn't a prize, it was just an ego contest. Soon it spread to other cells. I was invited to compete against others. I walked as much as I could: I worked out that 35 laps of the courtyard was 1km. Everyday I would try and do 5km. It was hard because the place was packed.

Some of the inmates played chess, some draughts. I finally got some books delivered, which kept me sane. There weren't any lights in the cells in Beitbridge. We were locked up at 4pm and it was dark by 6pm. The sun would come up again around 6am. The nights were painfully long.

I would force myself to stay awake as long as I could, but always ended with hours in the morning staring at the barred window high in the eastern wall, waiting for the sky to lighten. Time was measured by meals. Many times I thought my release was just around the corner, only to be locked back in my cell at night. To hope is to torture yourself. I became resigned to a long fight.

After over two weeks in Beitbridge Prison I was transferred to Harare Remand Prison. We were woken at 5am one day and 12 prisoners, with two guards, were shoved in the back of the ute. Each of us was handcuffed to another prisoner. It was tight. The following 10 hours over bumpy roads was sheer torture.

Some people are scared of flying. I'm scared of driving. Not a common phobia but in Africa - in the type of cars, on the roads I travel on, with the drivers I encounter - I don't think it is irrational. If I die on assignment, I'm convinced it won't be by the gun of a child soldier or the bomb of a terrorist, but on an African road when a tyre bursts or brakes fail.

At the back of my mind, though, was dread. For me this journey was either a disaster because it meant I was to be interrogated by the dreaded Central Intelligence Office, or I was one step closer to deportation. I was in the dark.

In the end it took one week. I had a lawyer running between the prison and Immigration making arrangements, and a dear friend running between the supermarket and Harare prison with wonderful food rations: canned peaches have never tasted so good.

On the day of my release, the immigration officials accompanied me to the airport. I went to the toilet and stared wide-eyed at the grey beard I had grown. I looked like my father when we were both a lot younger.

I was still tense all the way to the plane, even when I sat down in my allocated seat after the immigration official had handed my passport over to the airline crew. I was still waiting to be called back. To be interrogated and trapped in a cycle of hope and misery from which I could never escape.

But the plane started rolling forward, faster and faster. I still dared not believe that I would be leaving. But then it happened.

We left the tarmac and a weight around my entire body dropped away with the ground. I started to float. I closed my eyes and raised both my arms in the air. I was free.

NOW I SIT in Paris, looking out at the busy streets, and I feel nothing but blessed for my experiences travelling the world as a photojournalist.

I feel blessed by the good and bad, the rough and smooth on the road, because it brings everything I have - my liberty, my family, a career I feel passionate about - into perspective.

Little white plasters are attached to each of my forearms. My fiancee is worried about what I brought back with me.

The clothes I wore in prison had to be thrown away. No amount of washing could get rid of the lice eggs. My camera, remarkably, still holds the photos from my river and border crossing. I can't quite bring myself to go through them yet.

I am now banned from ever returning to Zimbabwe. I sit and I think of all the people I've met and all the suffering I've witnessed.

I think of all those I've left behind, detained in the same cells. And I think of all those trapped in a country that has for many become a prison.

A country disposed of choice, of liberty, of hope.

By Robin Hammond

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In Land’s Bounty, a Political Chip
Lynsey Addario for The New York Times

Residents celebrating after receiving checks. As President Robert G. Mugabe pushes for new elections this year, the drive to put more wealth into the hands of black Zimbabweans is seen by allies as a politically popular path to victory.

BINGA, Zimbabwe — More than a decade after Zimbabwe’s government began seizing sprawling white-owned commercial farms, a new fight is brewing here over who will profit from the nation’s vast bounty of platinum, chromium, nickel and diamonds.  

In a move rooted in politics, the party of the aging president, Robert G. Mugabe, has begun pressuring companies operating in the country to comply with a law requiring that black Zimbabweans own more than half their shares.

Mr. Mugabe has ruled the country since its independence in 1980 but has seen his popularity recede considerably in recent years. He won fewer votes than the opposition in the 2008 election and was forced into an awkward power-sharing government in the violent aftermath.

As Mr. Mugabe pushes for new elections this year, the drive to put more wealth into the hands of black Zimbabweans is seen by allies as a politically popular path to victory.

Senior officials of Mr. Mugabe’s party, ZANU-PF, say that foreigners operating inside the country must not be allowed to profit at the expense of indigenous, or black, Zimbabweans.

“Am I going to assign another man to make my wife pregnant and get a child?” asked Savior Kasukuwere, the ZANU-PF minister overseeing the process known as indigenization. “Zimbabweans must be masters of their own destiny. Indigenization is a core feature of the values of our party: freedom, equality, peace.”

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change, along with many independent economists and analysts, says that the law, which was passed in 2010, but only widely enforced in the last year, spells disaster for the country’s economy just as it is beginning to expand after years of withering.

“Our position is empowerment, yes,” said Morgan Tsvangirai, the prime minister and leader of the opposition. “But we are more concerned about the state of employment. How do we encourage creation of more jobs rather than destroying the few jobs we have?”

Zimbabwe’s economy has been making a slow recovery after more than a decade of political and economic crisis brought on by the seizure of commercial farms. The introduction of the United States dollar eliminated the hyperinflation that made life here impossible, and investors are slowly returning to a country that is richly endowed with natural wealth.

Much of that wealth is folded within a geological formation known as the Great Dyke: a 340-mile-long river of stone formed 2.5 billion years ago by molten rock that pushed up from the earth’s core through the Zimbabwe craton, an even more ancient chunk of continental crust. Over millenniums the rock folded and twisted back on itself, and within its layers lie rich deposits of valuable elements like platinum, nickel, copper and chromium.

According to Zimbabwe’s indigenization law, black Zimbabweans must own 51 percent of shares of foreign companies operating here. About 20 percent of the shares are supposed to go to community trust funds, which in theory will pay for local development projects, and company employees. The rest must go to black Zimbabweans.

But exactly how these aims are to be achieved is unclear. Many of these companies are publicly held, and their shares are not the companies’ to give or sell. On top of that, few black Zimbabweans have the means to buy large numbers of shares at market value.

Still, a handful of companies have already agreed to comply, under intense pressure from Mr. Kasukuwere, a 41-year-old former official of Zimbabwe’s fearsome Central Intelligence Organization.

In March, the South African mining company Implats — whose subsidiary, Zimplats, mines platinum in Zimbabwe — said it would give community organizations interest-free loans, to be repaid from dividends, for their shares, and do the same for employees.

But it said it expected full market value for the other 31 percent of shares required under the law, an amount few private investors in Zimbabwe could muster. Officials from Implats and other companies affected by the new law did not respond to requests for comment.

Government officials say that they will not pay a cent for those shares.

“Our contribution is the platinum they are taking from our soil,” said George Charamba, Mr. Mugabe’s spokesman. “They will get nothing more.”

Mr. Mugabe, at the age of 88, is rumored to be in poor health. In April, rumors spread in Harare that he was on his deathbed in Singapore, but he appeared at the country’s independence day celebration a few days later, looking fit as he walked around a soccer stadium under a blazing sun for 30 minutes unaided to review a military parade.

But after three decades with one man at the helm, Mr. Mugabe’s party is riven by infighting over who will succeed him, and party leaders are eager to hold elections soon while Mr. Mugabe is still able to campaign. The opposition argues it is a mistake to rush the process while important reforms remain undone.

Many here worry that the already wealthy supporters of the ruling party will reap almost all the benefits of the law. That would be a replay of the land seizures, which led to huge farms being handed over to people who had no expertise in commercial farming and left them fallow, further hobbling the economy.

“What they seek to do is transfer wealth from rich white people to rich black people,” said Tendai Biti, Zimbabwe’s finance minister and a leader of the Movement for Democratic Change. “You are not creating any wealth, you are not creating any new jobs.”

It is also unclear whether the community trusts, which are trumpeted as the main way ordinary people will benefit, represent new funds or simply a replacement for existing corporate social responsibility programs.

“It is all political smoke and mirrors,” said Derek Matyszak, an analyst at the Research and Advocacy Unit, a research institution in Harare, who has closely examined the existing indigenization deals. “So far, no one has actually parted with a brass farthing as far as I can tell.”

But for ZANU-PF, which under the power-sharing agreement retains control of the most powerful levers of government — the army, the police and the intelligence service — indigenization could be a powerful political tactic.

On a recent Saturday morning, Mr. Kasukuwere demonstrated just how useful the policy could be in drumming up support, boarding a rattling police helicopter for the hour-and-a-half trip to Binga, a remote and impoverished town on Zimbabwe’s arid western edge.

He had arrived with a stack of four giant checks for local community groups drawn from a fund set up by Old Mutual, an insurance company that has already begun to comply with the law.

Over a squealing, distorted amplifier, a master of ceremonies called out the names of the organizations receiving loans to start fishing businesses.

“To the Tutambule Kapenta Fishing Cooperative, 25,000 United States dollars!” the M.C. shouted. The cooperative’s members rushed to the front of the crowd, hooting and hopping like contestants selected for “The Price is Right.” They danced in a joyous circle around Mr. Kasukuwere, holding their oversized check aloft.

“Who stands for the youth? Only Kasukuwere!” the assembled crowd sang. “Who can empower the people? Only Kasukuwere!”

Andrew Muleya, a 31-year-old carpenter, said there were few jobs available in this remote corner of the country and he was grateful to Mr. Kasukuwere for coming to Binga to inject some cash into the community.

“ZANU-PF will win this election because they are helping the poor people,” he said. “People are getting something for the future.”

Heavyset with a powerful, cleanshaven head, Mr. Kasukuwere stood out from the wiry villagers who had gathered to watch his presentation. Dressed in a blue blazer with brass buttons, and with a Mont Blanc watch on his wrist, he presided over the proceedings like a young prince who hopes to be king.

The son of a liberation war veteran and a former intelligence official, he is a rising star in the party. He is also one of more than 100 senior Zimbabwean politicians under European Union sanctions, accused of participating in violence against opponents of Mr. Mugabe’s rule.

After a particularly energetic song and dance performance by a group of local children, Mr. Kasukuwere pledged them a gift of $50. When an old man rushed up to him to offer some crudely carved animals for sale, he handed the stunned man a $100 bill.

“No change,” Mr. Kasukuwere said with a shrug as he ambled back to the helicopter.

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Mugabe Threatens Mine Invasions

Gwanda , May 19, 2012 – President Robert Mugabe has warned miners who resist
Government’s Indigenisation programme saying they risk being thrown out of
the country the same way white commercial farmers lost their farms during
the land reform programme.

Addressing thousands of people mainly his supporters drawn from adjacent
resettlement areas at the launch of the Gwanda Community Share Ownership
Trust Scheme, Mugabe said companies that do not comply should either shape
up or ship out.

Matabeleland South Governor Angeline Masuku told Mugabe that Vumbachikwe
Mine was defying the black empowerment programme.

“Join us in our terms, join us today because tomorrow you might find
yourself out of the country”, said Mugabe to a cheering crowd.

Mugabe blamed Zimbabwe’s former colonial master Britain for plundering the
country’s wealth.

“The future generation will blame us for letting the colonizers all the
wealth, when I said Blair keep your Britain and we keep our Zimbabwe, I
meant that we keep our land and minerals. If they do not comply with the
51/49 percent now, they will walk away with nothing tomorrow”, said
President Mugabe in an hour long speech.

Meanwhile a tense atmosphere preceded Mugabe’s arrival with heavily armed
soldiers and police officers conducting thorough body searches.

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Army will get you: Mugabe

NDUDUZO TSHUMA 9 hours 36 minutes ago

GWANDA - President Robert Mugabe yesterday warned the two MDCs the army will
get them for wanting to change the sacred colours of the national flag.

Speaking at the launch of the Gwanda Community Share Ownership Trust Scheme
at Colleen Bawn Secondary School yesterday, Mugabe said: If these parties
want to change the colours of the national flag that symbolise the gains of
the liberation struggle, then they are a threat to their own existence.
Those parties will not live.

Mugabe accused the former opposition parties of attempting to remove the red
colour from the national flag, saying this would never be tolerated as it
symbolises the blood lost during the liberation war.

Mugabes threats echo those of the army generals who have issued statements
threatening those whom they perceive as going against the principles of Zanu

The senior army officers have openly said they support Zanu PF and would go
all the way to ensure its philosophies are inculcated in both army recruits
and civilians.

Said Major General Martin Chedondo last week: Now that soldiers are being
recruited from every village, we want to see a village that will go against
national values, he said.

We cannot be seen supporting a political party that is going against the
ideals of a nation, which came by as a result of a liberation struggle,
which saw many of the countrys sons and daughters losing their lives,
Chedondo said.

In Gwanda yesterday, Mugabe also accused the MDCs of trying to smuggle
homosexuality into the new constitution, saying Zanu PF would not allow the

They want your grandmother and my grandmother to marry. What is that? Back
in the old days we would say you have upset the spirits. This is against
laws of natural order, said Mugabe.

He also maintained his indigenisation stance, saying those foreigners
unwilling to cede 51% equity in their companies would be driven out of

Join us on our terms and 49% in terms of equity. If the company is worth 100
million, then it means you get 49 million and we get 51 million.

Is that blameable because some people from outside are saying we are
nationalising mines but nationalising is taking 100%? Join us today because
tomorrow you might find yourself out of our country, said Mugabe. - Newsday

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17 hours of load-shedding in Zim

                        Eyewitness News |                         Today,

JOHANNESBURG - Reports from Zimbabwe say Harare residents face a miserable
weekend without water, power, and in some cases, beer too.

Some suburbs are now going for 17 hours without power per day, just as the
cold weather is kicking in.The state-run ZESA power company recently
introduced massive load-shedding.Employers are now allowed to dock money
from their employees' salaries, to make up for non-productive hours.Water
supply is erratic still, with Harare's eastern suburbs reported to be
affected the worst.

And now, beer shortages have kicked in.  Street vendors are cashing in
by buying all scarce stock available, so they can push up the price on the
black market.

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AIDS Patients Bitter Over Poor Service Delivery

Harare, May 19, 2012 -At least 3800 people living with HIV most of them
women are set to stage a strike over poor services they are getting from
local clinics in Harare.

Chairperson of a consortium of organisations of people living with HIV and
AIDS for Budiriro,Mufakose and Glen View  Spiwe Phiri  told Radio VOP in
Harare Friday that a stake holder meeting has been held over the issue of
poor services they are receiving from local clinics.

“We are not happy at all with the way we are being treated by local clinics
where we get our drugs. Nurse there are not listening to our grievances and
we are very disappointed.
“When we visit these centres for tablet collection we spend the rest of the
day standing while they will be attending to other patients. Imagine
standing for the whole without food and after having taken some tablets in
the morning. We want to be treated like Tuberculosis patients who come and
collect their tablets without waiting for hours like we are doing.

“Recently we held a stakeholders meeting at the National AIDS Council
offices with them and if this persists we are going to stage a massive
demonstration over this issue because it’s going too far”, she said.
Although the number of Zimbabweans on anti-retroviral therapy (ART) has
almost doubled to over half a million issues of getting access to the
treatment still needs to be addressed.
Phiri said as a result of poor services from the health institutes most
people living with HIV and AIDS are getting assistance from their relatives
at their homes.

Trying to help the situation Zimbabwe National Network of People Living with
HIV and AIDS (ZNNP+) distributed tones of home based care kits to be used by
people living the pandemic failing to access services.
“Apart from the issue of poor services and discrimination people living with
HIV and AIDS here are encountering, there is also the issue of user fees
which continue to be unbearable. Realising this we found it prudent to bring
these home based kits for those failing to get treatment so that they use
them at their homes,” Zimbabwe National Network of People Living with HIV
and AIDS (ZNNP+) Advocacy and Communications officer Paidamoyo Magaya told
Radio VOP.
A local pastor Samson Tegwe described poor services people living with HIV
and AIDS are experiencing as gross human rights abuse.

“I think is very important especially to those with influential positions in
the society to listen and respect the rights of people living with HIV and
AIDS. These people are human beings and should be respected and given
attention, “he said.
Home based care kits which ZNNP+ distributed comprise pain killer tablets,
bandages, Cotton wool, and Ointment.

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Econet's Masiyiwa to address G8 leaders

By Staff Reporter 18/05/2012 21:12:00

EXILED Zimbabwean businessman, ECONET Wireless founder and chairman Strive
Masiyiwa will on Saturday address leaders of the world’s eight largest
economies on food security in Africa.

The G8 summit, being held at Camp David – the US presidential retreat in
Maryland – started on Friday with global food security expected to take
centre stage.

President Barack Obama is hosting the gathering with the leaders of Canada,
France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United Kingdom expected to

In a statement ahead of the summit, Masiyiwa, who is the acting chairman of
the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), said: "AGRA welcomes
the continued leadership of President Barack Obama and the G8 members in the
search for solutions to food security in Africa.

“The approach being put forward by the G8 is modelled on some of AGRA's
on-going work on behalf of Africa's smallholder farmers.”
Masiyiwa called for increased support for small-holder farmers to help end
hunger on the African continent.

“We are pleased there is now a common consensus on what needs to be done,
what smallholder farmers need: supportive policies, better seeds, access to
finance and soil inputs, skills development and extension services, national
research systems, open markets and infrastructure,” he said.

“But we must now redouble our efforts. At (the last summit in Italy) the G8
members stepped up. Now we are asking them to scale up, speed up, and invest
up. This is ultimately an opportunity to build the next growth engine of the
global economy.

“Millions of African smallholder farmers are poised to become an integral
part of that economy, as both producers and consumers.

“AGRA supports an approach that is coordinated globally, but is African-led
and focused on smallholder farmers. This approach must be equitable,
transparent, accountable, and environmentally sustainable to the
satisfaction of all stakeholders."

In October last year, the South Africa-based telecoms entrepreneur donated
US$1 million to support AGRA’s “breadbasket countries” programme in Ghana,
Mali, Mozambique, and Tanzania.

“We are delighted to support this project because we believe that AGRA’s
approach – focusing on a critical mass of investments in high-potential
breadbasket areas while employing an integrated approach across the
agricultural value-chain – is a potential game-changer,” Masiyiwa said then.

“As a member of AGRA’s Board, I am delighted to make this contribution on
behalf of my company because I know that our resources will be put to great
use. Our contribution will help catalyze a change process at the grass-roots
level, helping thousands of smallholder farmers across Africa.”

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Mozambique-Zimbabwe joint commission calls for lifting of sanctions

The Mozambique-Zimbabwe Permanent Joint Commission for Defence and Security
on Thursday in Maputo reiterated its call for the lifting of targeted
measures imposed on Zanu (pf) leaders by Western countries.
by AIM

Senior members of Robert Mugabe’s ruling party, ZANU-PF, are targeted by
sanctions imposed by Western countries for alleged violations of human
rights in Zimbabwe.

The criticism of these measures, which is in line with the position of the
Southern African Development Community (SADC), was announced at the end of
the meeting which opened on Tuesday.

In its final communiqué the Commission categorically demanded the immediate
and unconditional lifting of sanctions against Zimbabwe.

Speaking during the closing ceremony, Mozambican Defence Minister Filipe
Nyusi said that lifting the measures is crucial for the maintenance of peace
and stability in the region.

Nyusi expressed the commitment of both countries to contribute to the
restoration of political and social stability in Madagascar, Mali and

The Minister also welcomed the peaceful political transition in Zambia and
Malawi, and expressed his gratitude to the countries that contributed to the
maintenance of political stability and economic and social development in
both countries.

Regarding the Joint Commission, the Minister said that it was held in a
cordial atmosphere of friendship, openness and frankness. It carried out a
review of the current state of bilateral cooperation on defence and
security, and information was exchanged on the political, economic and
social situation in both countries and the region as a whole.

“The resolutions we have adopted show the clear and unequivocal commitment
of our countries to continue with the efforts that have been undertaken to
make our countries safer and more attractive for investment, which will
contribute to accelerating economic and social development”, he said.

According to Nyusi, the two countries have increased the exchange of
information to strengthen the fight against crime, and to facilitate the
movement of people and goods along the common border.

The next meeting is scheduled to take place in Harare in 2013.

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Dr Kereke claims US$2m from Dr Gono

By Staff Reporter 21 hours 36 minutes ago

ROCKFOUNDATION Medical Centre is claiming over US$2 million in damages from
the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Dr Gideon Gono for failing to pay
taxes and loss of business due to cash constraints necessitated by the
latter’s alleged fraudulent conduct.

Gono is alleged to have withdrawn US$100 000 from Munyaradzi Kereke’s
Rennaisance Merchant Bank account without his consent, leaving him with no
money to complete his hospital project.

In summons filed at the High Court in which Gono, RMB and Dhobhadhobha
Construction are cited as respondents. Kerekere’s Rockfoundation Medical
Centre is the plantiff in the matter.

He claims that on July 30, 2010 RMB acting on Gono’s instructions
fraudulently withdrew US$100 000 from his account. The money, he says, was
debited into Dhobhadhobha Construction’s CBZ account and the directors of
the company who are Dr Gono’s accountant and relatives withdrew it.

“The first defendant (Gono) abused his office of RBZ governor to break
banking ethics by accessing funds that were not his without the plaintiff’s
(Kereke) consent to fund his personal chicken project. In addition, the
first defendant used his office to induce pressure on the 2nd defendant
(RMB) to perform this unlawful transaction,” he argued.

Kereke says Gono’s moral blameworthiness was aggravated by the fact that he
is the governor of the central bank and therefore should lead by example. He
claims that Dr Gono used his powerful office position to steal money from a
private company “that is striving to serve precious lives”.

Kereke says Gono finally refunded his clinic US$100 000 plus an amount of
US$43 610 which he did not know its purpose on May 16 this year.  He says he
was unable to complete rennovations at the state-of-the-art medical centre
on time as a result of the fraud.

“Had the renovations been completed on time, the plaintiff would have earned
US$972 000 in twelve month.

In addition, the construction of plaintiff’s two theatres which was due to
finish in May 2011 was delayed until May 2012 consequent of which, the
plaintiff suffered loss of income to the tune of US$864 000,” claimed

The institution is now claiming US$463 000 it paid for Zimra penalties for
failing to pay its obligations in time. It also wants US$972 000 for loss of
business as a result of delays in renovations and US$864 000 for loss of
income owing to the delay in construction of two theatres.

The centre is claiming a further US$200 000 for damages suffered as a result
of labour disputes and diminished morale among workers due to late payment
of salaries and wages.

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African feminists, stop coddling reptilian chauvinists

Elsie Eyakuze is an independent consultant and blogger for The Mikocheni

Posted  Saturday, May 19  2012 at  19:19

I am not at all a believer in that Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus
business, but there are times when I can understand how such a notion could
become attractive. Zimbabwean politician Morgan Femai recently stated, and I
quote: “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;” and “They should also not bathe because that is what has caused all
these problems.” He was talking about how to combat HIV infection in his
country… by attacking women?

Mr Femai made a few other choice pronouncements about female physiology, but
they do not bear repeating outside the confines of a gynaecologist’s office.
Clearly, Mars is too good as a planet of origin for his ilk — this is
something dark and reptilian in him that is expressing its dim and
thoroughly unwelcome views. And he went and got the Apostolic sects into hot
water with feminists while he was at it.

The pendulum of female welfare swings hard in our African societies. On the
one hand, you’ve got incredible advances for women’s politics in countries
like Rwanda, with its exceedingly well-balanced legislature. On the other
hand, we haven’t quite got rid of female circumcision, a cultural practice
that unlike its male counterpart has no proven health benefits whatsoever,
no matter how mild the form. On the one hand you’ve got Ellen Sirleaf
Johnson, on the other hand you’ve got… well, Jacob Zuma.

To bring things closer to home, we have been bombarded with family planning
messages of a pleasingly liberal and constructive nature by the government
for the past few months. All the help and information you could want, the
government is trying to offer through its friendly-sounding programme. And
yet, policy makers and health experts who make it onto radio talk shows
almost invariably end up saying unforgivable things such as “young people
(read:  nubile women) should not dress provocatively as this leads to an
increase in the rate of HIV infections.”

Now, I know that people in public office sometimes say things that are
considerably more conservative than what they believe in. Same as they go to
church/mosque/temple in a display of spiritual rectitude that few genuinely
possess — it is part of the deal and we all know it. I suppose they do this
to pander to our local equivalent of the Tea Party. But some messages do far
more harm than good, however insincere. It is time to lay to rest the
cancerous notion that women are to blame for sexual violence perpetrated
against them, and for the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.

Perhaps one crucial mistake African feminists have been committing is
coddling our paternalistic chauvinists for fear of treading on religious
sensibilities or the alleged sanctity of culture and tradition. We have
adopted the developmentalist attitude towards women’s welfare because it is
so conciliatory, full of workshops and empowerment and resolutions of
conflict and so on. While I am all in favour of this approach, it does not
seem to be effective at changing the core societal beliefs that blight women’s
lives so. We need something more.
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We need to challenge ourselves as a society to stop coddling reptilian
thinking. We must demand, for example, that all men know at least some basic
truths about women and biology so that they can avoid the pitfalls of
ignorance that Mr Femai is wallowing in. Although it makes for great fiction
and romantic fluff about the miracles of motherhood and so forth, there is
nothing mysterious or magical about women’s bodies. We do not, sadly,
possess any supernatural powers of attraction over men.

In particular I want to issue a challenge to my African brethren who are
publicly so assured, so proud of their masculinity. Should they rise to the
occasion, as it were, we could engender a positive sexual revolution without
having to make a hue and cry about religion or culture or any of the beliefs
that people hold dear. I dare my brethren to do the following: To take
responsibility for their own behaviour.

To respect themselves and their faiths and ethics. To learn to say no, and
when the spirit fails them, to have the courage to own up to their mistakes.

Because we all know, deep inside, that shaving women’s heads and forbidding
us basic hygiene has nothing at all to do with the fight against HIV, now
does it? Mr Femai, and all the male and female Femais of the world: Come on.
It is time to leave the primordial pond behind and join the human race. We’re
over here, smelling great, looking good, waiting for you.

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Distinctly second hand

Dear Family and Friends,
Bleary eyed and feeling distinctly second hand, Zimbabwe is stumbling
into winter 2012. At first a cheer went up when we heard news that
ZESA (the electricity supply company) were going to introduce nine
hour a day power cuts. The cheer was because when they made the
announcement we were already having power cuts that lasted for at
least twelve hours a day. So we stupidly thought the nine hour
announcement meant supplies were to be shared more equitably and we
would actually gain three hours of power every day. Maybe we’d even
be spoiled and be able to boil a kettle or have a hot bath we thought,
in a delirious, heady moment.

ZESA said it could only meet half of the national demand during the
country’s winter months and that only major hospitals and what they
called ‘strategic facilities’ would be spared from prolonged power
cuts. Despite saying they could only meet half of demand, our dream
that we would get electricity for half of every day turned out to be
an hallucination. The very day after their nine hour statement, the
extended power cuts started in earnest and have now settled into a
pattern. At 4.30 or 5 in the morning the electricity goes off and
stays off until 10 pm at night leaving us without power for at least
seventeen hours a day.

Hardly had ZESA finished making their nine hour statement, then we
heard the bad news from Mozambique’s Cahora Basa hydroelectricity
company. They said they were considering reducing or suspending
electricity exports to Zimbabwe altogether because we owe them a
staggering eighty million US dollars. Predictably no electricity means
that water can’t be pumped and so water out of a tap has become a
luxury that lasts for three hours twice a week if we are very lucky.
And so, as we did in the worst years of Zimbabwe’s crisis between
2005 and 2008, we have gone back to waking up in the middle of the
night in order to charge batteries, cook food, and, if we can stand
it, do the ironing – assuming we’ve been able to find and spare
the water to wash clothes in the first place.

In an interesting labour court case recently, one man challenged his
employers who had deducted pay from his salary for the hours that had
not been worked because there was no electricity. It’s a situation
familiar to multiple thousands of people who work in industries and
businesses that depend on electricity for production. Workers are
being penalised for ZESA’s failure and the reductions in people’s
wages is having a ripple effect on families, on their buying power and
ability to pay school and medical fees. The labour court President
ruled in favour of the company, saying that if the courts ruled in
favour of employees it could have the effect of causing companies to
close down. She said the labour courts needed to come up with
judgements that compensated employees but did not prejudice other
employees or the company itself. The answer seems to be staring us in
the face: ZESA must be held to account and compensate millions of
Zimbabweans prejudiced by their failure to produce the service we pay
them for. It’s a crisis where companies, schools, institutions and
individuals are forced to buy and run generators at huge, unbudgeted
costs, as well as fuel, batteries, invertors and charging equipment if
they are to stay functional. Obviously they then have to increase
their prices in order to cover these expenses but can’t increase
their wages and so the spiral grows.

The weirdest thing about these massive electricity cuts is that when
you do manage to catch up on what’s been happening in the country
it’s the same old fights still dragging on: missing diamond money;
the wrangles and scandals over a proposed visit by religious
‘prophet’ TB Joshua who had previously predicted the death of an
ageing African leader; the political in-fighting within Zanu PF, their
politburo and their district party elections; the endless political
fighting over the ‘almost but not quite’ finished draft of our new
constitution, excerpts from which keep getting leaked to the press and
trashed before the finished document has even been released.

All of this provides a thick smoke screen for the national fury over
the electricity crisis that is crippling productivity and growth in
the country. It’s a smoke screen in which the very people who ran
the ZESA parastatal into the ground, did no maintenance and rewarded
themselves massive salaries, allowances and perks have got away with
it all. It’s the same smoke screen which obscures and protects the
very people responsible for the near or complete collapse of countless
parastatals around the country from railways to airlines, water to
roads and everything in between.
Until next time, thanks for reading, love cathy. 19th May 2012.
Copyright � Cathy Buckle.

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A Warning to the Hardliners

In recent months, as the pressure from regional leaders has intensified and
the health of the President has deteriorated, the hardliners in government
and in the security services have intensified their efforts to stop the GPA
process and stage a political coup in the form of a snap election that they
could manage and control. In the past ten days this has manifested itself in
a series of Politburo meetings where tempers have flared and harsh words
have been spoken.

These hardliners need to be reminded that they face two possible scenarios,
both of which would represent Armageddon as far as they are concerned and by
their very actions they are increasing the chances of one of these

The first would transpire if the President was to die in office. In those
circumstances the two Houses of the National Assembly (Parliament) would sit
as an electoral college and elect a President to serve the remainder of the
Presidents term of office. There is no doubt in my mind that only one
candidate has any chance of being elected under those circumstances and it’s
not Mnangagwa. Zanu PF would have to nominate the potential candidates under
the terms of the GPA and there is only one person that the Electoral College
would elect.

That person would then have several months to build themselves up as the
candidate for Zanu PF in the 2013 Presidential elections and to try and
restore some semblance of acceptability for Zanu PF to the national
electorate. The new President would control the Zanu PF Congress and would
be in an unassailable position in any election inside Zanu PF. Nationally
that person would be the best candidate for Zanu PF, certainly better than
any of the clowns who are presenting themselves for the post at present.

The Presidential elections would take place under regional supervision and I
have no doubt that Tsvangirai would be elected by a substantial majority. If
the hardliners manage to stop the completion of the constitutional reform
process, then Tsvangirai would come to power with all the considerable
powers of Mugabe, carefully nurtured over the past three decades by the very
people who would then find themselves at the mercy of an all powerful

If they force through the kind of Constitution they are trying to get agreed
at COPAC then they will still have to face a new President with very
considerable powers and centralized authority. In either case there would be
two immediate consequences. The first is that the people may well take
matters into their own hands and take retribution against those who
committed Gukurahundi, Murambatsvina and the general violations that have
characterized the behavior of the regime managed by these same hardliners.

If that is not bad enough, the hardliners have to know that we in the MDC
have kept detailed records of every violation of our rights and the abuse of
the people. We have all the facts and evidence to press charges against
several thousand thugs and worse and many of the most senior leaders
responsible could face the Hague. The new President, backed by a large
majority of the people, unencumbered by any agreements or restraints could
take action against the men and women responsible for the mayhem that has
gripped this country for decades. The corrupt would have their assets
stripped from them and used to repair the damage they have done to the

The second form of Armageddon that the hardliners face could come about just
as easily – they will not deter regional determination to see a free and
fair election held here in 2013. They will have to accept a new
Constitution, a new Electoral Act, new voters roll, reformed media and
security sector and an election campaign and voting supervised by the region
as a whole.

Under these circumstances their access to the diamond millions, control of
the guns, grip on the State media and the capacity to intimidate and control
the population in the rural areas, will be of no use to them. Whoever they
put up as their candidate for President or any other seat in the House of
Assembly,  would be defeated and it is most likely that MDC (T) will emerge
with at least a two thirds control of the lower House and the Presidency.

Under such circumstances the temptation to take the law into their own hands
would simply be too great for the people of this country who have suffered
at the hands of the Zanu PF hierarchy; it would be payback time. In my view
most of the leaders of Zanu PF would be well advised to leave the country
for their own safety.

The new Government would be able, without restraints, to change the
constitution, reform our society and the Civil Service and make the security
services totally accountable to the democratic structures of the country.
Prosecutions would follow and believe me we have a lot of past injustice,
corruption and abuse of power to deal with before we can really say that
justice has been done and we can get on with our lives.

In my view, the hardliners have only one real option open to them and this
window is closing rapidly; that is to negotiate now for a second GNU, this
time in the form of a cohesive and functional Government under democratic
leadership in the form of a President elected in a fresh poll where Zanu PF
puts up a new candidate to lead the Party. They must accept that it is
simply no longer possible to imagine Mugabe as a serious candidate for the

They clearly would have to accept from the very beginning of any such
process that this will require that they relinquish power to a new President
and that he or she is unlikely to come from their ranks. It is the end of
the road for them and they must now negotiate, while they have some
influence and capacity, a dignified exit and retirement.

Statements like “I am ready to Govern” (Mnangagwa) and “I will defeat Mugabe
in any future election” (Welshman Ncube) are just exercises in fantasy –
there are only three players on this pitch in reality and one is already in
the departure lounge.

The people of Zimbabwe are peace loving and only want to be left to make
their own way in the world, but they should never be taken for granted. By
trying the patience of the people with their futile infighting over the
carcass of Zanu PF, their refusal to give the people what they want in a new
Constitution and new national dispensation, the hardliners risk everything;
their own safety and security and the security of their families. They put
at risk their legacy as leaders and are now faced with hard decisions.

It is not too late to do the right thing. Their future is still in their
hands, but not for much longer.

Eddie Cross

Bulawayo, 18th May 2012

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