Monday 21 May 2007
By Brian Ncube
BULAWAYO - Families of five Zimbabwe army deserters arrested by military
police last February say they fear they may have been tortured to death
after they were removed from a government jail last April and have never
been seen again.
Some family members who agreed to speak to ZimOnline said army authorities
had refused to say whether the deserters were still alive, and if so, where
they were being held. However, they said the deserters' colleagues still
serving in the army told them they were tortured to death by military
A close relative of one of the deserters, Jabulani Moyo, said: "We are
convinced that our son is dead. We have heard nothing from him since
February. His friend who is a soldier told us he was tortured to death at
Shamva (an army camp about 20 kilometers north of Harare)."
Moyo, who is from Bulawayo's Nkulumane suburb, said he and his family would
not press any charges against the army, saying all they wanted was a "chance
to give our relative a decent burial."
Defence Minister Sydney Sekeramayi, who in the past has refused to discuss
the deserters' case with ZimOnline, again refused to take questions when
contacted for comment. "Leave me alone, I have got nothing to say to you on
that issue," was all Sekeramayi would say before switching of his mobile
The five deserters, all from the army's mounted unit, were arrested on
February 16 in South Africa's Mussina town near the border with Zimbabwe.
They were part of a larger group of 45 army border guards who deserted and
crossed over to South Africa to look for better paying jobs.
They were since their capture held at the notorious Chikurubi maximum
security prison on Harare's eastern border. Sources said prison authorities
would at times release the deserters to army interrogators who would take
them away for several hours but would always return them to the jail.
Sometime in the middle of April, the interrogators from the army requested
to take away the deserters. They were never returned to the jail or seen
A father to one of the deserters, who did not want his name or that of his
son published, said his son had initially wanted to resign from the army but
his commanders had turned down his resignation. "He then told us he was
going to run away from the army," said the father, in the vernacular Ndebele
"When they captured him, he phoned us in the morning, on February 17, and
told us to prepare ourselves for any eventuality, including his possible
death at the hands of his captors. I believe they killed my son," said the
distraught father, as he broke down into tears.
Another close relative, who also spoke on condition her name or that of the
deserter she is related to were not published for fear of possible
victimisation, said: "Only God knows how he will punish those who killed
While the top army and police commanders are well paid and cushioned from
Zimbabwe's economic crisis, the lower ranking servicemen and women have not
been spared the harsh effects of an economic meltdown that has seen
inflation shooting beyond 3 700 percent and spawned severe shortages of food
and every basic survival commodity.
Hundreds of junior soldiers and police have over the past few years resigned
or deserted to seek better paying jobs abroad. - ZimOnline
Monday 21 May 2007
By Prince Nyathi
HARARE - Zimbabwe public transport fares went up 30 percent in tandem with
last week's hike in fuel prices in yet another example of a worsening
economic crisis and rapidly deteriorating living conditions in the southern
The price of petrol and diesel, also in short supply in Zimbabwe, went up
from $27 000 a litre to between $36 000 and $40 000 a litre on the official
Diesel and petrol, which cost the same per litre in chaotic Zimbabwe, cost
between $40 000 and $45 000 a litre on the illegal black market for fuel -
that is the surest source for both commodities in the country.
"We had to increase our fares because the price of fuel has gone up
significantly. If we don't do that we will go out of business," said Timothy
Gumede, who operates a fleet of public taxis in Harare.
A single trip from most of Harare's low-income suburbs to the city centre or
industrial areas now costs Z$10 000, up from Z$7 000. This means a worker
would need $440 000 a month for transport to and from work, a figure most
cannot afford given the average salary for workers in Zimbabwe is $350 000
But soaring transport costs are only one on a long list of troubles
Zimbabweans have to contend with as the country grapples a severe economic
crisis marked by unemployment above 80 percent, acute shortages of foreign
currency, food and fuel and frequent electricity cuts.
This has left workers unable to feed their families and resorting to
subsisting for survival and political analysts war that anger among the
workers could spill onto the streets and turn violent.
The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, the largest workers' representative
body in the country, has threatened to call nationwide protests by workers
to push the government and private firms to link salaries to inflation which
at more than 3 713.9 percent is the highest in the world. - ZimOnline
20/05/2007 17:09 - (SA)
Harare - Zimbabwe's top university students could be forced into the civil
service and banned from emigrating in a new scheme designed to stop
penniless professionals escaping the country, it was reported on Sunday.
Under a cadetship scheme, scholars who get their university fees paid for by
President Robert Mugabe's government would now be compelled to join the
civil service and would not be allowed to emigrate for several years, state
University and college students educated through government loans and grants
would now be compelled to join the civil service for varying periods before
being allowed to work in the private sector or to emigrate, the radio said.
Secretary for Higher and Tertiary Education Washington Mbizvo said the
scheme would come into effect next month.
Cash-strapped Zimbabwe has been battling a massive exodus of highly-trained
professionals ever since the country was plunged into economic crisis seven
With annual inflation now at more than 3 700%, doctors, nurses, teachers and
lecturers have all fled abroad, leaving many public institutions like
hospitals seriously under-staffed.
Doctors from Cuba now man many of Zimbabwe's rural hospitals. Zimbabwe's
junior doctors complain they are paid less than one US dollar a day.
With no end in sight to the economic meltdown, discontent is rising.
Reports in the privately-owned Standard newspaper on Sunday said civil
servants had rejected a 200% pay increase offer from the government as
peanuts. They are planning fresh strikes next month, the paper said.
From The Sunday Independent (SA), 20 May
A Southern African Development Community (SADC) mediation team, led by
Sydney Mufamadi, the minister of provincial and local government, has met
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe in secret, as President Thabo Mbeki
pushes ahead with his intervention efforts on behalf of the regional body.
Highly placed Zimbabwean sources said that after meeting Mufamadi in Harare
two weeks ago, Mugabe established his negotiation team, led by Patrick
Chinamasa, the justice minister, and Nicholas Goche, the labour minister.
Chinamasa and Goche have since privately met representatives of the two
factions of the divided opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) to
set the agenda for negotiations for free and fair elections, due by March
next year. Mufamadi was accompanied on his secret trip to Zimbabwe by Frank
Chikane, the director-general in the presidency, and Mojanku Gumbi, Mbeki's
legal adviser, highly placed sources said.
The three met Mugabe and his two vice-presidents, Joyce Mujuru and Joseph
Msika. It is understood that, in the meeting, Mugabe said it would be
difficult to meet the demands of the opposition before next year's
elections. It is understood that Mufamadi informed Mugabe frankly that it
would be difficult for Zimbabwe to hold elections under the current
conditions. Mufamadi also told Mugabe that he should do as much as possible
to "create a different atmosphere to what has prevailed in the past".
Sources said it was difficult to predict whether Mbeki's mediation team
would succeed, because Mugabe could not be trusted. He has kept quiet about
Mbeki's intervention, but his party spokesperson, Nathan Shamuyarira, has
been vociferous in his opposition to engagement with the MDC. Shamuyarira
recently said talking to the MDC was a waste of time, because it was a
Meanwhile, Mbeki told parliament this week that mediation efforts were going
well, though he gave no details. The SADC appointed Mbeki as its mediator at
an extraordinary summit in March in Tanzania, called to discuss Zimbabwe,
Lesotho and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Mbeki was expected to report
back to the SADC by the end of next month and sources said he was therefore
eager to make progress. The MDC has hinted that it will boycott elections
unless the electoral playing field is levelled. Mufamadi is said to have
told Mugabe to halt his government's political violence to help build
confidence in the negotiations. Since then lawyers have become the latest
target in what appears to be an orchestrated campaign of state-sanctioned
violence. A number have been assaulted in the past few weeks and others have
been jailed, only to be released without being charged.
Lawyers, through their representative body, the Law Society of Zimbabwe
(LSZ), are considering a national boycott of the country's courts to protest
against the harassment. Beatrice Mtetwa, the LSZ president, said "various
proposals for action are on the table". The International Bar Association
issued a scathing statement this week condemning Zimbabwe's assault on
lawyers. "The ongoing assaults and intimidation indicate that Robert Mugabe
remains unperturbed by widespread international criticism of his attacks
against political dissenters and human-rights defenders," said Mark Ellis,
the executive director of the International Bar Association. "The situation
is deplorable and the international community should not continue to stand
by and watch Mugabe's government destroy the last vestiges of the rule of
Sunday, May 20, 2007
As a "Community of sovereign states", Caricom has developed an unfortunate
reputation for public silence, too often, on fundamental issues of rigged
elections, gross human rights violations and political repression in member
states of the Commonwealth and within the African, Caribbean and Pacific
It was, therefore, a welcome surprise when a departure from this pattern
emerged from the recent May10-11 meeting of the Community's foreign
ministers in Belize.
Finally, after recurring silence at successive summits and inter- sessional
meetings of Heads of Government as well as its foreign ministers over the
past two years, the Caribbean Community chose to go public with expressions
of "grave concern" over the deteriorating political crisis and human rights
violations in Zimbabwe.
A simultaneous expression of "grave concern" was also recorded by the
foreign ministers of the 15-member Community in relation to the humanitarian
disaster in the Darfur region of western Sudan.
Yet, in the absence of even a formal note being forwarded to either the
government of Zimbabwe or Sudan, the cynics may well shrug and mockingly
ask: "So what, who cares about such expressions of "grave concern"?
Truth is, though difficult for them to openly admit, this is the least that
Caricom's foreign ministers could possibly do at this time, with evident
approval of their Heads of Government.
After all, whatever the measure of their private feelings of disgust or
outrage, individual member governments of our Community of sovereign states
seem to have been suffering from verbal paralysis, or the capacity to "talk
their talk" (if yet to walk the talk), when it comes to publicly denouncing
the genocidal conflicts in Darfur and the ferocious political repression in
It is reasonable to assume that the expressions of "grave concern" that
eventually surfaced for the record at the 10th meeting of Caricom's Council
for Foreign and Community Relations (COFCOR) in Belize resulted from some
measure of recovery from a paralysis of spirit.
Perhaps Caricom's silence, until now, was due to excessive concern not to
antagonise relations with the African Union (AU), the 53-member state that
replaced in 2001 what had previously functioned separately as the
Organisation of African Unity (OAU) and African Economic Community (AEC).
Caricom may well have been too overwhelmed by the political gesture in 2005
of the AU to unanimously treat us as part of its "Sixth Region--the African
Diaspora", and opted then to maintain silence on fundamental issues of human
rights and political repression.
At their July 2005 summit in St Lucia, Caricom leaders had maintained their
pitiful silence on rigged elections, subversion of judicial independence and
human rights atrocities in Zimbabwe, as well as the sickening crimes against
humanity in Darfur and other mind-boggling man-made tragedies in Africa.
But they were anxious, as they said, to strengthen ties with the AU. Quite
appropriately, therefore, they had applauded the earlier decision of a
conference co-hosted by the governments of Jamaica and South Africa with the
theme: "Towards Unity and United Action by Africans and the African Diaspora
in the Caribbean for a better world".
All practical efforts by Caricom to forge and sustain the best possible
relations with Africa and Asia, whose descendants form the bulk of the
Caribbean population, and the region's Diaspora, deserve to be recognised
As a comparatively small sub-region of the global community, it may not be
easy, if at all possible, for Caricom to be a "friend to all, enemy of
none", to borrow a philosophical outlook that was articulated by the late
Barbadian Prime Minister Errol Barrow, one of the architects of our
33-year-old integration movement.
Despite what we may lack as a region within the ACP bloc of states, in human
and natural resources, size or influence, Caricom can, nevertheless, take
pride in the fact that it represents a sub-region of the Western Hemisphere
that, warts and all, is proudly distinguished for its commitment to well
established democratic norms in governance.
For instance, the Community's historical attachment to multi-party
parliamentary governance; based on free and fair periodic elections;
independence of the judiciary, freedom of the press, right to dissent, and
general observance of fundamental human rights, irrespective of race, colour
It is this history, this distinction in our governance systems that gives
our Caribbean Community the moral right to speak out against systematic
abuses of human rights and state-sponsored terrorism as have been occurring,
and now rapidly worsening, in places like Zimbabwe and Darfur.
In addressing the specific human rights problems in Zimbabwe, the foreign
ministers pointed to continuing "political repression of opposition by the
government" as well as violations of "civil and political rights to assembly
and free speech..."
On the genocidal conflicts in Darfur, their "grave concern" focused on "the
continuing deterioration of the humanitarian situation and its impact on
neighbouring countries of the African region."
In relation to the politics of international terrorism, the foreign
ministers, not surprisingly, also revisited the issue of the US authorities'
continuing failure to bring to justice the Cuban emigré, Luis Posada
Carriles, for his involvement in the 1976 Cubana bombing tragedy off
Barbados in which all 73 passengers and crew perished.
On the Posada terrorism affair, it seems that the Bush administration is
determined to remain contemptuous of Caricom's position as communicated to
Washington since last July's Heads of Government Conference in St Kitts and
Will our leaders bring up the issue when they meet with President Bush at
the forthcoming Washington conference on the Caribbean?
It is Caricom's own commitment to democratic norms and fundamental human
rights, that provides the moral authority to expose and denounce
forked-tongue approaches to the rule of law, rights to privacy; "war on
terrorism" by the USA under the current George Bush administration, in
addition to a current controversy about political erosion of the justice
Caricom's "friends" in Africa and Asia, whether in Zimbabwe, Somalia,
Pakistan, Israel, Cuba, Dominican Republic or China--at the Organisation of
American States and/or the United Nations, would know something of the
source of our moral outrage against systematic human rights violations and
political terrorism, even when they may have reasons to differ with our
Ironically, while the Caricom foreign ministers were winding up their
meeting in Belize, Zimbabwe was scoring a very surprising 26-21 vote
victory, thanks largely to African votes, to be the new chair for United
Nations Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD).
Assuming that post would be its environment minister, Francis Nheme, who is
among cabinet ministers of President Robert Mugabe's government on a current
travel ban of the European Union.
Africa News, Netherlands
pposition leaders in Malawi Sunday accused the government of President Bingu
wa Mutharika of breaking international trade rules by paying for maize it is
exporting to Zimbabwe. But government has since described the allegations as
"baseless and lacking on facts".
"(The) Government has take US$300 million from the Reserve Bank of Malawi to
pay the National Food Reserve Authority for the maize it is exporting to
Zimbabwe," said opposition Malawi Democratic Party (MDP) president Kamlepo
Kalua while addressing a public rally alongside former president Bakili
Muluzi, who picked Mutharika as his successor following the end of his
official two five-year terms in 2004, is going around the country addressing
political allies and drumming up support for his bid for a return to office
during the scheduled 2009 presidential election.
Kalua said President Mutharika had "bull-dozed" the central bank into making
the "suspicious" transaction. He claimed the president flouted Malawi's
fiscal regulations by forcing the central bank to make the payment because
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe is "his friend" and that Malawi's First
Lady, Ethel Mutharika, is a Zimbabwean. The Mutharikas also run a farm in
But the Mutharika administration has dismissed the allegations as "a
fabrication and untrue". Deputy Agriculture and Food Security Minister
Bintony Kutsaira told PANA Sunday no money was taken from the Reserve Bank
of Malawi for the transaction.
"The deal was a normal international trade deal signed between Malawi and
Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwean Central Bank will pay Malawi some US$120 million
for the maize," he said.
Kutsaira said in fact the Zimbabwe Central Bank has already made an initial
US$6 million payment for "logistics". "As you know, Malawi recorded a
surplus in maize (yields) this year and some of the maize has to be sold out
to some countries in the region that recorded deficits, such as Zimbabwe,"
he said. "If we do not sell our maize surplus it will be destroyed and
prices on the market will be depressed."
Malawi is currently discussing with the governments of the kingdom of
Swaziland and Lesotho- which also had food deficits- for further maize
exports, he added. Malawi needs about 2 million metric tonnes of the staple
food, maize, to feed its population of 12 million people. But, according to
the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, the southern African country
recorded a surplus of about 1 million metric tonnes.
Kutsaira said Malawi expects to export some 400,000 metric tonnes of maize
to Zimbabwe where at least a quarter of the population, according to the
World Food Programme, is "leaning towards a serious food shortage".
Some 30,000 metric tonnes of maize has already been sent to Zimbabwe,
according to the deputy minister. 20 May 2007 - PANA
Comment from Black Agenda Report (US), 20 May
By Joseph Jordan, PhD
On 27 August 1980, I was a graduate student in African Studies at Howard
University. That particular moment was quite different and much more
significant than any other I'd experienced during my studies. I waited
impatiently, along with many others who had also pushed and clamored for
space in the auditorium. Finally, the source of our excitement took the
stage. Prime Minister Robert Mugabe, leader of Zanu PF and the newly
independent nation of Zimbabwe arrived and received a standing ovation as he
approached the dais. But he drew the most enthusiastic response when he
noted that Black Americans had supported and worked for the freedom of
Zimbabwe. He followed that pronouncement with words I have never forgotten:
"Come home, therefore". In one movement all in attendance jumped to their
feet and the shouts and cheers were deafening. Mugabe was at home with his
extended family and, in our eyes, he was a hero.
Now, almost 27 years later, Mugabe and his Zanu PF party still rule
Zimbabwe, but much of the gloss of the revolutionary struggle has long been
dulled by the difficult work of nation-building and by troubling news of
increasing government repression and intolerance of dissent. Out of
Zimbabwe's struggle a new nation and national identity has been established,
ostensibly on the rule of law and on the idea of the inviolability of the
human rights of its people. Today, however, even the most stalwart supporter
of Zimbabwe's government should be compelled to speak out given the latest
evidence and reports of unprovoked violence on the part of its police and
the military. Mugabe's and Zanu PF 's rule and leadership recalls the old
question of succession in the African state and the tendency, in some cases,
for rulers to cling to power long after their leadership has been shown to
be ineffective. Disturbing and credible reports continue to pour in from
human rights agencies that have monitored the day to day situation in
Zimbabwe. Those reports highlight random beatings and intimidation of
persons who are members of, or suspected members of, the opposition. Many
have been reluctant to criticize Mugabe and argue that old enemies in the
country and western nations long dissatisfied with the path Zimbabwe has
taken are the source of most of the criticism. Yet the evidence is mounting
and has, for at least the last year, been clear and unequivocal.
Most will certainly point to conclusions of the special emergency summit by
the Southern African Development Community (SADC), a 14-nation regional
alliance of which Zimbabwe is a member, reached in March in Tanzania. The
communiqué from the summit rebuffed the most radical calls for Mugabe's
ouster and directed President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa to continue to
mediate between Mugabe and opposition forces. Yet, Philip Alston, a United
Nations Special Rapporteur joined the growing list of human rights officials
to call Mugabe to task. He called on Zimbabwe's government to immediately
halt the use of lethal forces on members of opposition forces. Alston
identifies several specific cases: "the killing of Gift Tandare, and the
shooting of Nickson Magondo and Naison Mashambanhaka at point blank range."
He states, "Mugabe owes the Zimbabwean people a speedy and impartial inquiry
into these and other instances of violence and intimidation." Morgan
Tsvangirai, leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
and a recent victim of in a police beating, has announced his support for
Mbeki's mediation and has indicated willingness to trust his leadership.
Another test for Mugabe and Zanu PF looms ahead as the Zimbabwe Congress of
Trade Unions (ZCTU) has begun to organize mass stay-aways of workers to
bring more pressure on the government to address wage and other issues.
These actions are likely to further test the already strained relations
between the government and civil society.
What is the appropriate response of the solidarity community? What
responsibility do we have, and to what historical processes do we tie our
response? First, we must be sure that our response should be a measured one
that acknowledges the difficulty of the transition to stability after
centuries of colonial rule. Second, we must recognize that we have a greater
responsibility to honor our covenant with the people of Zimbabwe. It is
these articles of faith that require us to speak out directly against the
violations of human rights that have marked the rule of President Robert
Mugabe over the past few years. Perhaps it was our fault that we did not
maintain the intensity of contact first established during those long years
of the armed struggle. Maybe we could have been more materially involved. It
would be easy to dismiss our critique as misguided at best, and complicit
with western (i.e., US, Great Britain) powers that have long shown disdain
for Mugabe's rule. Neither of these is as important as the protection of the
rights of Zimbabwe's people. It would be both unethical and disastrous to
remain silent. As responsible and committed activists we must press Zanu PF
and President Robert Mugabe to restore the full protection of all agencies
of government to all of Zimbabwe's people without qualification. If we
remain silent we break the covenant we entered 27 years ago in a small
auditorium in Washington, D.C.
Dr. Joseph Jordan is Senior Policy Advisor, TransAfrica Forum and Director
of the Sonja Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture and History at the
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
20/05/2007 22:15 - (SA)
Harare - A photographer working for the independent Standard newspaper was
threatened by police after he photographed the wounds of lawyers assaulted
by police, his newspaper said on Sunday.
A marketing executive for the paper was also detained for publicly
criticising the arrest of a street vendor by police who accused him of being
a lawyer, the paper reported.
Davison Maruziva, editor of the weekly Standard, called the harassment part
of "the state's terror crusade".
"First, it was leaders of the opposition and civic society; then their
supporters and the lawyers who defended them," he wrote in Sunday's edition.
"Now they are coming for the messengers who carry images of their excesses
to the wider domestic and international public."
The Standard last Sunday published a dramatic front-page picture of welts
and bruises inflicted in an assault on attorney Beatrice Mtetwa, head of the
Zimbabwe Law Society, when police broke up a gathering of lawyers in Harare
the previous week.
'The intention is to scare us'
The Standard said Boldwill Hungwe's alleged crime was photographing "the
results of the savage beating" of Mtetwa, who also is a prominent human
Hungwe was accused of unspecified offences under security laws carrying the
penalty of imprisonment or a fine, but he was not charged with any offence.
On Thursday, marketing executive Alexeos Maziyikana witnessed the
handcuffing of a vendor accused of illegal street selling and expressed his
concern over the man's arrest, the paper said.
Maziyikana was accused of interfering, arrested for being "a street lawyer"
and later released, it reported.
The paper said deputy editor Bill Saidi recently received a bullet in the
mail after publishing a cartoon showing baboons poking fun at an army
officer's pay slip.
Maruziva called the incidents "pure harassment" of Zimbabwe's independent
"The intention is to scare us away from covering their acts of naked
brutality," Maruziva wrote.