Didizela says most people are not familiar with US currency so they are being ripped off by dealers who are passing off fake notes; Gerry gives his views on the pros and cons on the GNU, he says while people are now able to get food and shops have now started re-opening, people can’t get hold of forex, and, Piri piri says the problems in Zimbabwe are caused by Zimbabweans themselves who are allowing politicians to do as they please.


Abductees court hearing continues
By Violet Gonda
9 June 2009
Defence lawyers representing a group of people accused of plotting to overthrow the Mugabe regime had made an application in the High Court on Monday to refer their case to the Supreme Court, as their human rights had been violated. Lawyer Alex Muchadehama said on Tuesday the Attorney General’s office gave its response to the matter arguing that the defence team’s application was frivolous and a delaying tactic. But then the state said it had not finished responding and the matter will continue on Wednesday.
The accused persons, Concillia Chinanzvavana, Fidelis Chiramba, Violet Mupfuranhewe and Collen Mutemagawu were abducted in October but were only found by their lawyers in prisons on the 22nd December.
They are the first group of individuals, who were abducted from their homes during the months of October and December, to finally stand trial. They want their case to be taken to the Supreme Court to determine several human right violations against them by the State, including wanting the Court to determine whether or not their abduction was lawful and whether or not victims of kidnapping can be lawfully prosecuted.
MDC source denies that land invader is Tsvangirai relative
By Violet Gonda
8 June 2009
Just recently Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said land invasions were ‘blown out of proportion’ and that the ‘so-called farm invasions were ‘isolated incidents’. There was an outcry from the farming community with white commercial farmers saying the number of violent invasions had actually increased since the formation of the inclusive government. This has resulted in thousands of farm workers losing their jobs and more than 100 farmers being hauled before the courts.
Many of the new occupiers have been members of the ruling elite, but on Monday the website ZWNews alleged that a ‘niece’ of the Prime Minister was attempting to grab a commercial farm in Chegutu, Mashonaland West.
Dr. Arikana Chihombori, the ‘mystery woman’ who was seen with the Prime Minister at South African President Jacob Zuma’s inauguration last month, is reported to be actively trying to seize De Rus Farm from Mr L J Cremer. At the time of the discussions around who it was who had been seen with Tsvangirai, the Prime Minister’s Office issued a statement identifying the woman as his niece.
We were not able to reach the Cremers or Dr Chihombori, but Justice for Agriculture (JAG) spokesperson John Worsely Worswick said feedback he received from the farmer was that he was very alarmed to find someone with an American accent looking to taking over his property “and they took issue with the American embassy to try and trace her origins and establish exactly who she was.”
The JAG spokesperson said: “The feedback that came to the Cremers was to the effect that this was the same woman who attended the inauguration with Tsvangirai and that the ambassador had taken Tsvangirai to task about who this woman was and that he had denied any knowledge of her. Now that is very alarming.”
But MDC sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the woman who was seen with the Prime Minister at the Zuma inauguration, and who is now trying to invade the Chegutu farm, is not related to Tsvangirai. We were not able to get a comment from the Prime Minister’s office.  Related or not there is photographic evidence of her attendance at the Zuma inauguration with Tsvangirai.
ZWNEWS reported: “Mr Cremer was first contacted in November 2008 by the local Lands Officer, who produced an offer letter dated August 2007 showing that De Rus farm had been allocated to Dr Chihombori. In January this year, Dr Chihombori’s sister sent a group of unemployed youths to take the farm, but the occupation only lasted three days, after which the youths left, complaining of not being paid enough. In April Dr Chihombori applied to the courts for an application to evict the Cremer family, producing the same offer letter as evidence, this time dated December 2008.”
It’s reported Dr. Chihombori is an American citizen who was born in Chivhu but has lived in the United States for the last 30 years. The doctor practices family medicine in Antioch, Tennessee.
The Cremers said in a statement: “It is very obvious that this acquisition is not about land reform. Here we have a small productive farm being taken from Zimbabweans and given to someone who resides in America. It is about greed, people stealing our homes, land, jobs and livelihood and hiding behind politics.”
“How can this government ask for food aid while they are busy removing food producers from their farms? How can they justify the unemployment rate while they are removing 300 people from employment under the guise of Land Reform? Our workers, many of them also born on this farm, are very worried about their futures as they have seen the workers on the surrounding farms which have been ‘acquired’, starve or have to resort to theft to survive.”
The Cremers’ property had already been downsized from about 700ha to 70ha for resettlement. It is reported the largest part of the farm taken over for resettlement is lying idle and is in total disuse. Cut flowers are grown for export as well as vegetables for the local market. Furthermore, the part of the farm now under dispute was granted Export Processing Zone status and later turned into an Investment License, which gives legal protection against seizure by the state.
Mutambara MDC rocked by massive defections
By Lance Guma
09 June 2009
The entire district executive of the Mutambara MDC in Nkayi is reported to have defected, to join the main wing of the MDC led by Morgan Tsvangirai. The executive, along with 23 councillors in the area, met over the weekend to consider the suspension of local MP Abednico Bhebhe. Last month it was reported Bhebhe and 4 other MP’s from the faction were suspended on charges of allegedly undermining the party and its leadership. Bhebhe was present at the meeting in Nkayi and gave his side of the story. A decision was then reached by the structures to defy the party and back him.

Newsreel contacted Bhebhe on Tuesday but he refused to comment saying he will not be giving interviews until the party’s disciplinary hearing has been finalized. No date for this hearing has been given yet. Newsreel understands Bhebhe is a very popular figure in his constituency and his suspension has predictably angered the party structures there. Members have vowed to ignore a letter signed by Secretary General Welshman Ncube advising them not to interact with Bhebhe until the suspension has been lifted.

Speaking for the Mutambara MDC, deputy spokesman Renson Gasela said it was incorrect to say 5 MP’s had been suspended and that only 3 of their MP’s had been served letters. He said the chairman of the party’s disciplinary committee, Lyson Mlambo, was handling the matter and would soon announce when the hearings will be held. Gasela queried why the district executives and councillors in Nkayi would defect to the Tsvangirai MDC when the MP they were defending (Bhebhe) is still a member of the Mutambara MDC and had not jumped ship.
With Mutambara MDC Vice President Gibson Sibanda needing a parliamentary seat to retain his ministerial post, there is mounting speculation Bhebhe could be sacrificed to make way for him. But with the constituency structures flexing their muscles and refusing to play ball it is expected to be some fight if the plan is pushed through. Under the unity deal none of the major parties to the agreement can field candidates for by-elections. But should Bhebhe and the other MP’s get sacked they can still run as independents and their popularity or otherwise could determine the outcome.
Last month acrimony in the Mutambara MDC was said to be high after Ncube threatened to quit the party if the officials were not suspended. Party leader Arthur Mutambara, and his deputy Sibanda, were reported as wanting the charges dropped. It was Ncube’s position which was eventually pushed through with support from his deputy, Priscillah Misihairabwi-Mushonga and treasurer-general Fletcher Dulini Ncube.
Party district chairman, Jabulani Ncube is quoted by the Zimbabwe Telegraph website saying, ‘we can’t remain loyal to a leadership which victimizes its members and with that reason in mind the whole constituency and district leadership has crossed the floor to MDC-T led by Prime Minister Tsvangirai.’ Tsvangirai MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa said it was good news for democracy as they wanted to be united under one MDC. ‘When we formed the MDC it didn’t have surnames, prefixes or suffixes,’ he said.
Mugabe bodyguards escape prosecution in Hong Kong
By Tichaona Sibanda
9 June 2009
Two bodyguards protecting Bona Mugabe, Robert Mugabe’s 20 year-old daughter, will not be prosecuted for allegedly roughing up two photographers in Hong Kong in February.
Media reports from Hong Kong said government lawyers decided the male and female bodyguards hired to protect Bona behaved as they did because they were ‘genuinely concerned for the safety of the first year student at a Hong Kong university’.

The two unnamed bodyguards allegedly assaulted Briton Colin Galloway and American Tim O’Rourke on February 13th outside a $5 million villa in Hong Kong, being rented by Mugabe for Bona while she attends university.

The photographers were working for The Sunday Times in London, which was investigating the Mugabe family’s links to Hong Kong, and complained to police after O’Rourke was alleged grabbed by the neck and Galloway gripped and bruised by a man in his 30s.
The incident took place one month after Robert Mugabe’s wife and Bona’s
mother Grace, assaulted another photographer who took pictures of her shopping in Hong Kong. The Department of Justice decided she was entitled to diplomatic immunity.
The case involving the bodyguards was classified by police as common assault and advice was sought from Hong Kong’s Department of Justice in March as to whether a prosecution should be brought.

Tsvangirai in Washington for 2nd leg of tour
By Tichaona Sibanda
9 June 2009

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai arrived in Washington late on Monday for a 5 day visit that will culminate in a meeting with the United States President Barrack Obama at the Oval office.
James Maridadi, Tsvangirai’ spokesman, told us from Washington that the Prime Minister has a very busy schedule ahead of his meeting with the U.S. President at the White House on Friday.
‘The Prime Minister is meeting various interest groups as a build up to his meeting on Friday. His itinerary is punishing as he wants to ensure he explores every avenue that will get the country recognised again internationally,’ Maridadi.
Contrary to reports that the Prime Minister was on a fund raising trip to the west, Maridadi said Tsvangirai was re-establishing contacts first, before he starts talking about financial aid.
‘If aid comes out of this trip, then that is a bonus. What he’s really concerned about now is having the country readmitted to the family of nations. You cannot look for money before establishing contacts,’ Maridadi said.
The inclusive government is appealing for $8 billion to rebuild the shattered economy, but most donors and investors have insisted more reforms and the rule of law must be in place before they commit funds.
Tsvangirai played down the aid question during the first leg of his tour in the Netherlands on Sunday and emphasized he was mending relations between the governments after years of acrimony between Harare and the West.
In the Hague, the Prime Minister was told that the Netherlands won’t support the government financially until it institutes reforms on a range of issues. Two weeks ago Tsvangirai told his party conference that his efforts to restore democratic freedoms and the rule of law have so far failed.
The former trade unionist went into a coalition government with longtime rival Robert Mugabe in February to end the country’s political deadlock and economic collapse.

He gave his party’s annual convention a bleak assessment of the situation in the country and said that hard-liners backing Mugabe were frustrating progress.
‘We have not yet succeeded in restoring the rule of law … our people do not live free from fear, hunger and poverty,’ Tsvangirai said. The official state media remains biased and there is only limited freedom of movement and expression.
Tsvangirai leaves Washington on Saturday headed for Germany. His three-week state visit will also take him to France, Sweden, Britain, Belgium, and Denmark.
Meanwhile a civil society team comprising the ZCTU, Crisis and NGO Human Rights forum is on a lobbying tour to the European Union, speaking to various key Institutions.
Fambai Ngirande, programmes director of NANGO, said they were seeking to advise departments of foreign affairs and ministries of development cooperation in the EU on what should or could be their priorities in relation to Zimbabwe, from a funding to a re-engagement perspective.
African leaders offer support to war criminal
Gerry Jackson
9 June, 2009
Africa’s biggest trade bloc has come out in full support of a leader wanted for crimes against humanity and war crimes.
The just ended Comesa Summit at Victoria Falls issued a communiqué on Monday, in which nineteen regional leaders called for the suspension of the arrest warrant against the President of Sudan, Omar Hassan al- Bashir. The warrant was issued in March by the International Criminal Court and was the first ever issued against a sitting head of state. Comesa leaders called on the United Nations to press for the cancellation of the indictment.
The African member states of the International Criminal Court are also considering a mass withdrawal, to protest the war crimes indictment against Sudan’s President. Observers say a complete pullout is unlikely, but many are demanding a one-year suspension of the indictment.
African heads of state originally condemned the indictment at their last summit, which also ordered member states to consider a mass withdrawal, unless African views were taken into account.
Meanwhile Zimbabwe’s Youth Forum issued a statement in support of the initiative by four journalists to challenge the legality of Media and Information Commission. They said that they ‘condemn the denial of access of these journalists to the just ended COMESA Summit at Victoria Falls, which was generally described as a gathering of dictators and criminals’.
The statement added: ‘Al-Beshir the president of Sudan under International Criminal Court warrant of arrest, felt at home in the midst of fellow dictators’.
Their statement indicated great concern about the coverage of the Summit, and how the ongoing media control in Zimbabwe helps to protect the dictators who attend such gatherings.
For the tens of thousands, and some say hundreds of thousands, who have died in Sudan’s Darfur conflict, the African leaders support for a mass murderer will be one more disappointment that they have to bear.


Zvichapera says a new constitution followed by free and fair elections is the only available solution to the Zim crisis; Masimba also comments on the constitution-making process with suggestions of his own, then Nathan says the rest of the world should come in with much needed assistance for the Zimbabwean people, regardless of whether or not Mugabe is in the picture.


Letter from America
Dr. Stan Mukasa argues that it’s not yet time to lift targeted sanctions against Mugabe.


Reporters Forum
Don’t miss Reporters’ Forum as Lance Guma looks at the top stories with correspondents Lionel Saungweme and Simon Muchemwa. The panel looks at why Tsvangirai is looking for aid from the West and assuring them all is well, but at the same time complaining about outstanding issues in the coalition government? Other stories analyzed include the presence of Sudanese President Omar Al Bashir at the recent COMESA summit in Zimbabwe, despite an international arrest warrant out for him over genocide in Darfur.


Tsvangirai begins 8 nation tour to re-engage with the West
By Tichaona Sibanda
8 June 2009
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai began his eight nation tour of Europe and the United States on Sunday by visiting the Netherlands. His three-week state visit will take him to France, Sweden, Britain, Belgium, Germany, Denmark and the US.
Tsvangirai told reporters after his first engagement in the Hague that he was seeking re-engagement with the west and not touring with a ‘begging bowl’ asking for aid.
‘I did not come here with a begging bowl. Re-engagement is a process. We have been isolated for the last 10 years and re-engagement means … our cooperation partners need to understand what we are doing … and we also have to understand the concerns of our partners,’ Tsvangirai said after meeting the Dutch Development Aid Minister Bert Koenders on Sunday.
According to reports, Koenders told Tsvangirai that the European Union wants to see real progress on human rights, reform at the central bank and the reining in of the security forces, before any aid would be resumed. The Dutch embassy had given Mr. Tsvangirai sanctuary last year at the height of the election violence.
On Monday, the Prime Minister held talks with his Dutch counterpart, Prime Minister Jan-Peter Balkenende. The Dutch Prime Minister reiterated to Tsvangirai that Zimbabwe must adopt economic, political and social reforms before getting any additional aid from the Netherlands.
This is likely to be the response Tsvangirai will receive from all the countries he is visiting – that any future support to Zimbabwe will be based on significant reforms regarding human rights and security. The Dutch have long been a staunch supporter of human rights in the country and this year alone they have poured in US$21 million in emergency humanitarian aid.
Tsvangirai is still battling with Mugabe to try to force him to implement all the agreements the parties signed to, under the Global Political Agreement. But attempts by the MDC to scrap sweeping media and security laws to allow for freedom of expression and movement have made little headway. Tsvangirai acknowledged last week that hard-liners from ZANU PF were obstructing a return to the rule of law.
Just as he was on his first leg of the tour, his party issued a statement questioning Mugabe sincerity and commitment to the inclusive government.
‘The half-hearted are refusing to implement the Global Political Agreement to which they appended their signature. The half-hearted are delaying to swear in Senator Roy Bennett as deputy minister of Agriculture’.
The statement added; ‘The half-hearted are refusing to iron out the issue of provincial governors, ambassadors and permanent secretaries. The half-hearted are skirting the contentious issues of Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono and Attorney-General Johannes Tomana.’
In using the word half-hearted the MDC were referring to a Herald article on Monday which accused the MDC of being half- hearted.
Despite this MDC statement which clearly indicates that the unity government is still facing serious problems, Tsvangirai gave a press interview in which he played down the differences between the parties and insisted it was a workable arrangement.
He is leading a delegation that includes ministers from all the parties in the inclusive government, including Walter Mzembi the ZANU PF Tourism minister, who is not on the United States targeted sanctions list. The delegation will travel to the United States from the Netherlands where Tsvangirai is expected to meet President Barack Obama on Friday.
During his visit to Washington, he will also meet officials at the World Bank and International Monetary Fund before returning to Europe. Political analyst Isaac Dziya said it is highly unlikely that Tsvangirai will get any aid from his tour.
‘What he will get is sympathy and assurances that massive aid would be injected once the country reforms. It’s clear to everyone that there have been little reforms since the start of the inclusive government and this will work against Tsvangirai during his current tour,’ Dziya said.
Red Cross says it is feeding prisoners in Zimbabwe
By Lance Guma
08 June 2009
The International Committee of the Red Cross has revealed that it is distributing food, blankets, soap and other supplies to about 6 300 prisoners in the country. The organization expects to be feeding close to 10 000 inmates by the end of the year. But as a report from the Zimbabwe Association for Crime Prevention and Rehabilitation of the Offender notes, there are 55 prisons with a capacity to hold 17 000 and yet there are close to 35 000 inmates.
A collapse to the country’s economy, brought about by bad government policies, led to a dramatic decline in standards inside the prisons. The destruction of the agricultural sector also made sure there was no food available.
A documentary entitled ‘Hell Hole’, produced by the South African Broadcasting Corporation’s Special Assignment team, highlighted the appalling conditions in the jails. Emaciated prisoners were seen living in over-crowded cells, and footage showed the makeshift mortuaries that were trying to cater to the huge number of prisoners dying. Activists say the documentary merely exposed to a wider international audience what was already known by most Zimbabweans.
With a shaky coalition government failing to handle the crisis, the Red Cross has now come in to help. They have already set up therapeutic feeding programmes to deal with those suffering from severe malnutrition. To try and curb the spread of cholera and other diseases, which are killing hundreds of inmates per month, the group is also planning to renovate kitchens and water systems inside the cells. The organization says it will prioritize helping the most vulnerable detainees.
Deputy Agriculture Minister designate Roy Bennett, who spent some time in prison on trumped up banditry and terrorism charges, gave a revealing insight into conditions. ‘There are people there who look worse than the photographs of prisoners in (Nazi concentration camps) Dachau and Auschwitz,’ he said. Bennett said his experience in prison was ‘harrowing’ and he wouldn’t even wish for his worst enemy to go through what he went through.
Concern has also been raised that thousands of detainees are possibly innocent and have yet to be taken to court to prove their guilt or otherwise. Bennett for example brought to attention the plight of Elvis Nodangala, a South African who was arrested in October 2008 and spent 6 months in a Mutare jail without appearing in court or having any legal representation. Many inmates spend years inside jail after their cases get lost in the shambolic judicial system.
Journalists arrested & assaulted for covering demo in Zimbabwe
By Violet Gonda
8 June 2009

The Zimbabwe Union of Journalist reports that two of its members were arrested and assaulted by police for covering a demonstration last Friday.
Chris Mahove, a senior reporter with The Worker– a newspaper run by the Zimbabwe Congress Trade Unions – was arrested while covering a demonstration by the Harare City Council Workers’ Union.
ZUJ President Matthew Takaona said the journalist was immediately surrounded by police officers when he was caught taking pictures of the demonstration and taken to Harare Central Police Station. Mahove managed to call his editor, Ben Madzimure, who was also arrested at the police station while enquiring about his colleague. The two were allegedly assaulted while in detention and had their footage of the demonstration destroyed by the police.
The ZUJ president said: “When he (editor) went to the police station to try and find out why his reporter was arrested he was also taken in and detained. And according to Madzimure they were kicked around – in fact they were assaulted by some police officers and thereafter their camera had everything inside rubbed”.
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights intervened and the two were released without charge after spending several hours in police custody. ZUJ condemned the detention of the journalists, who are fully accredited. Takaona said both the reporter and the editor had their press cards and actually showed them to the police officers, but they were still manhandled. He said these kinds of actions show the authorities are still trying to block any coverage of dissatisfaction among the people, despite the new unity government.
The arrests also come in the background of a new ruling Friday, that allows media practitioners to do their work without accreditation, until such a time a legitimate media council is set up to do the accreditation process.
Despite winning this landmark case against the government last Friday the four unaccredited journalists who had taken the government to court over this issue were barred from covering the Comesa Heads of State and Government Summit in Victoria Falls.
The harassment of journalists continues despite assurances by Prime Minister Tsvangirai that the situation has normalized in Zimbabwe. The leader, who is touring overseas countries, told Dutch TV that his main aim for the trip was for the international community to accept Zimbabwe, which has been in isolation for a decade now, as “a normal democratic country” and that he wanted the Western countries to review their position with regards to Zimbabwe.
An observer said: “All I hope is that, for the right reasons, Morgan Tsvangirai is sent back to Zimbabwe with a clear message: Restore human rights, restore law and order, remove charges against political hostages and establish a free press. As soon as that is done, and it can all be done immediately, then the free world will rally to assist financially. Until then, all assistance will be directed at feeding and health care for poor Zimbabweans.”
In the Netherlands Mr. Tsvangirai was told that Zimbabwe must first adopt economic, political and social reforms before getting any additional aid from them.
Journalists barred from Comesa summit despite High Court order
By Alex Bell
08 June 2009
Four journalists, who last week won a landmark case against the government over the legality of the Media and Information Commission (MIC), were this weekend barred from attending the Comesa summit for not being accredited.
The Information Ministry two weeks ago instructed all journalists wishing to cover the event to register for accreditation with the MIC. The freelance journalists took the state to court over the issue and on Friday, High Court Judge Bharat Patel ruled that the MIC was now a defunct body and as such no journalist in the country was legally required to register with it. The court granted the journalists an interim order barring Information Minister Webster Shamu, his permanent secretary George Charamba, MIC chairman Dr Tafataona Mahoso and others, from interfering with the operations of the four journalists in their work.
But the journalists, Stanley Gama, Valentine Maponga, Stanley Kwenda and Jealous Mawarire, were on Sunday turned away from the summit venue in Victoria Falls by security details. The security officials insisted that the journalists, despite the production of the High Court order, could not cover the event as they were not on the Information Ministry’s list of journalists accredited to cover the summit. Lawyers for the MIC have also announced that they will appeal against the High Court’s ruling, in a clear sign that media reform in Zimbabwe is still a long way from being achieved.
Meanwhile, during the opening of the Comesa summit that alarmingly resembled a gathering of dictators and criminals, Robert Mugabe called for African countries to increase self-reliance and boost development. Mugabe, who now takes over as leader of Africa’s main trading bloc, also said the continent must raise its international capacity by ‘exploiting’ its mineral resources, rich soil and human skills.
The ageing dictators hypocritical comments have been greeted with shock by observers, as Mugabe has single-handedly destroyed development in Zimbabwe, turning the once productive country into an aid-reliant state. While Mugabe was lecturing his fellow African leaders on the importance of self-reliance, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai embarked on a cross-continental aid-begging tour, to rescue financial relationships that Mugabe’s years of dictatorial abuse destroyed. Meanwhile, outrage still abounds over the involvement of Vice President Joice Mujuru’s daughter, in a trade deal involving illegal gold from the DRC. Could this be the kind of exploitation of natural resources Mugabe stringently called for during his speech?
At the same time, while Mugabe called for an end to conflicts across the continent, Sudan’s President Omar al-Beshir, who faces international arrest for war crimes, was welcomed with open arms at the summit this weekend. The International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant in March for Beshir to face five counts of crimes against humanity and two of war crimes over the conflict in Darfur. But the Zimbabwe government defended their welcome of the Sudanese leader, with Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa telling media that Zimbabwe has no duty to arrest Beshir as it is not party to the treaty that set up the ICC.
“We are aware that the President of Sudan is under an ICC warrant of arrest
which he disputes. We are not a state party under the Rome Statute. We have
no obligation under the Statute of Rome to execute that obligation,” he
Zimbabwe’s Dr Gwatidzo wins international rights award
Alex Bell
08 June 2009
The Chairperson of Zimbabwe’s Association for Doctors for Human Rights, Doctor Douglas Gwatidzo, has been announced as the 2009 winner of the prestigious Jonathan Mann Award for Health and Human Rights.
The Global Health Council selected Gwatidzo as the winner, in recognition of his and the Association’s work in advocating for health rights and freedom from torture in Zimbabwe. The Council also commended the support that Gwatidzo and other members of the Association have provided to fellow health workers during the collapse of Zimbabwe’s health system, including mentoring young medical students and providing medical documentation and care for victims of organised violence and torture.
Most recently Dr Gwatidzo led the urgent appeal for assistance during the start of last year’s deadly cholera epidemic, which saw more than 4000 official deaths. His association was instrumental in the fight against the epidemic, which for months spiraled out of control in the midst of Zimbabwe’s collapse. Dr Gwatidzo and his association have also since been at the centre of trying to rebuild the shattered health system.
The globally recognised award is named after the late Jonathan Mann, a
dedicated health and human rights activist, who died in a plane crash in
1998. It is bestowed annually upon a leading practitioner in health and
human rights and comes with a financial reward.
The Award was presented to Gwatidzo at a special awards ceremony in Washington, held during the Global Health Council’s Annual Conference 11 days ago.

Judge defers hearing of abductees case
By Violet Gonda
8 June 2009
A High Court Judge, Justice Tendai Uchena, deferred the hearing of the first group of abductees on Monday, following a petition by the defence team to refer their clients case to the Constitutional Court because their rights were violated. Justice Uchena will hear the matter on Tuesday. The matter was deferred after the Attorney General’s office requested more time to go through the application by the defence team.  The four abductees are Concillia Chinanzvavana, Fidelis Chiramba, Violet Mupfuranhewe and Collen Mutemagawu
A statement by the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) said: “The abductees’ lawyers filed an application for the matter to be referred to the Constitutional Court so that it can determine whether or not the abductees’ abduction/ kidnapping constituted unlawful deprivation of liberty in violation of Section 13 (1) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.”
“The lawyers also want the Supreme Court to determine whether or not the torture of the abductees constitutes inhuman and degrading treatment in violation of section 15 (1) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.”
They also want the Supreme Court to determine whether or not the abductees can be compelled to go on trial in circumstances where their appearance at court was facilitated by a criminal act of kidnapping or abduction sanctioned by the State.
The ZLHR said the filing of the application for a referral to the Constitutional Court could effectively delay the commencement of the trial of the four abductees. They are accused of plotting to overthrow the Mugabe regime.
Two other groups of abductees are expected to appear in court in the near future.


Trials of abductees begin next week
By Violet Gonda
5 June 2009
Despite the formation of the unity government the ZANU PF regime has not stopped pursuing what the MDC has described as ‘dubious’ charges against various abductees.  The trials of the MDC and civic activists, kidnapped from their homes last year, are set to commence next week. The individuals were abducted between the months of October and December and spent more than five months in jail. They had been kept in secret locations before legal pressure forced them to be brought to court, where they were accused of plotting to destabilise the former ZANU PF led government.
At the time it was reported that at least 30 MDC and civil society activists, including a two year old boy, had been abducted. But only 17 accused persons are named in the trials set to begin on 8th June. The State had held some abductees as ‘state witnesses’ while the MDC said several other party activists are still missing.
The first group appearing on 8th June is known as the ‘First recruiters’ trial’ and this involves the State’s case against Concillia Chinanzvavana, Fidelis Chiramba, Violet Mupfuranhewe and Collen Mutemagau. They were among the group kidnapped at the end of October last year and are accused of ‘recruiting’ people to incapacitate the regime.
The trial of a second group, known as the ‘bombers trial’, involves two MDC officials recently released on bail, Chris Dhlamini & Gandhi Mudzingwa, plus photojournalist Shadreck Andrison Manyere and four of their co-accused, Chinoto Zulu, Zacharia Nkomo, Regis Mujeyi and Mapfumo Garutsa. Their trial starts on June 29th.
The last group of alleged ‘recruiters’ will stand trial on 20th July:  This is the case involving civic leader Jestina Mukoko, Emmanuel Chinanzvavana, Pieta Kaseke, Audrey Zimbudzwana and Brodrick Takawira
Lawyer Alec Muchadehama said last week that it was disturbing to see that his clients, who are the victims, are going to be in the dock, while the perpetrators who kidnapped and tortured his clients have not been brought to book. He said some of these perpetrators of violence will be used as State witnesses.
The abductees will also be seeking redress of their own in the Supreme Court, in-between their trials. The legal monitoring group Veritas said that on June 25th the accused persons will ‘complain that their constitutional rights were infringed by their abduction, lengthy unlawful detention, treatment during detention (including torture) and the State’s failure to take appropriate action against those responsible while at the same time vigorously pursuing criminal charges against the abductees.’
Veritas added: “The court will be asked to stop the prosecution of the abductees until the case against their kidnappers has been fully investigated and prosecutions mounted against those responsible.  As a constitutional case, this will be heard by five judges.  The complainants’ legal team will be led by Advocate Jeremy Gauntlett SC of the South African bar.  Deputy Attorney-General Prince Machaya will head the State’s team.”
Also to stand trial this month are journalists from the Zimbabwe Independent newspaper, Vincent Kahiya and Constantine Chimakure. The  senior editors face charges of ‘undermining public confidence in law enforcement agents’. They are accused of publishing a story naming police officers and state agents implicated in the abductions of the political abductees. This is in spite of the fact that their story was based on contents of the official trial documents. Their case will be heard on June 16th.
Meanwhile several cases involving human rights defenders were thrown out by the courts in recent days. Prominent human rights lawyer Alec Muchadehama was on Monday removed from remand by Harare magistrate Catherine Chimanda. The lawyer was arrested on May 15th on allegations of attempting to defeat or obstruct the administration of justice for allegedly ‘conniving’ with a clerk of court, to facilitate the release of three of his clients on bail after the State had been given leave to appeal to the Supreme Court against the granting of bail.  Magistrate Catherine Chimanda ruled that on the facts placed before the court by the State there was no reasonable suspicion that Mr Muchadehama had committed any crime.
High Court judge Justice Chinembiri Bhunu’s clerk Constance Gambara, who processed the release of Muchadehama’s clients release, was also arrested in connection with the same case and is being accused of abusing a public office.  She is currently out on bail and was remanded to 12th June.
Other recent political trials that ended in acquittals included that of;
• Minister Eric Matinenga who was facing a charge of inciting public violence;
• Deputy Minister Tichaona Mudzingwa who had been accused of attempting to cause disaffection among army personnel after the March 2008 elections;
• MDC-T MP Pearson Mungofa who was also acquitted of attempting to cause disaffection among army personnel after the March elections.
• 11 MDC-T members from Buhera who were facing charges of public violence allegedly committed during the funeral of Susan Tsvangirai.
• Rights lawyers, Roselyn Hanzi and Tawanda Zhuwarara, plus eight  members of the group Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA). They were arrested in February for allegedly participating in an illegal gathering that was bent on breaching the peace, but the magistrate threw out their saying they committed no offence.
These arrests and acquittals of ‘opponents’ are nothing new in Zimbabwe where scores of MDC activists, in particular, have been arrested only to be released after suffering prolonged detention in filthy cells. Human rights lawyers have said people’s lives are disrupted as a result of these unlawful detentions which are used as tools of persecution rather than prosecution. The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights believes that the acquittals “proves that the police continue to effect arbitrary arrests without first carrying out investigations and establishing a reasonable suspicion that crime has been committed.”
This ongoing harassment of civic society, activists and the opposition is a well used tactic by the regime, which is still firmly entrenched despite the ‘unity’ government. The time, energy and money required to take these cases through the legal system, ensures that anyone viewed as opposition, is severely weakened and blocked from being as effective as they could be.
Sibanda Loses Ministerial Post
Violet Gonda
5 June 2009
Last month we reported that Gibson Sibanda, the Minister for State in the Deputy Prime Ministers Office and the MDC-M Deputy President, needed a seat in parliament by 19th May or risk losing his ministerial post.
The Zimbabwean constitution says that a cabinet post must be held by a member of parliament and if the appointed minister is not an MP, a parliamentary seat must be found within three months.
But the MDC-M had no more appointed seats, after using up their allocated non-constituency seats. Two senatorial seats were given to Welshman Ncube and Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga – the party’s Secretary General and Deputy – in order for them to be eligible for ministerial positions.
A parliamentary seat was given to President Arthur Mutambara, who is now Deputy Prime Minister. They had all lost in the general elections of last year.
MDC-M Deputy President Sibanda had also failed to retain his parliamentary seat in Bulawayo’s Nkulumane suburb, after losing to MDC-T Thamsanqa Mahlangu in the general elections.
It was understood the Principals to the unity government had agreed to create an extra Senate seat just to accommodate the MDC-M Deputy President. But according to the rules of the land, this required amending the Constitution before the 19th May deadline – when the three month window period expired. This did not happen.
Constitutional lawyer Derek Matyszak said failure to meet this deadline meant that Sibanda was not lawfully occupying a position as a minister. He said there was a growing and worrying trend by the political leadership to amend the provisions of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) in order to accommodate individuals, without following the law.
An article in the Zimbabwe Independent newspaper on Friday said that Gibson Sibanda had now lost his ministerial post.
The article went on to say that Sibanda did still have a chance to get back into cabinet if one of his party’s MPs agreed to take up a diplomatic post in the near future and allowed him to contest for the vacant seat.
Sources within the MDC said the party was still weighing various options for Sibanda.

Prime Minister Tsvangirai expected to meet Barack Obama
By Violet Gonda
5 June 2009
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai is set to leave Zimbabwe on Saturday for his inaugural overseas tour to the USA and parts of Europe. Mr. Tsvangirai is expected to meet US President Barack Obama. Information on his itinerary has not yet been made available but James Maridadi the Prime Minister’s spokesperson said Mr Tsvangirai will meet the American leadership next week, and other leaders in Europe. The tour is part of his 100 day plan to re-engage with the international community after years of isolation and to try to encourage western governments to provide economic aid to Zimbabwe.
Senior government officials representing key economic ministries are expected to join Mr. Tsvangirai on this trip. As most ZANU PF officials are under travel sanctions, this poses a major challenge for the inclusive government as western governments have been reluctant to remove the targeted travel ban against key members of the regime, saying there is little evidence to show that Mugabe is serious about sharing power and ending rights abuses.
It’s understood ZANU PF Tourism Minister Walter Mzembi, who is not on the US sanctions list, will be travelling with the Prime Minister to the US on the first leg of the tour. Elton Mangoma, the MDC-T Minister of Economic Planning and Investment Promotion and Priscilla Misihairabwi Mushonga the MDC-M Regional Integration and International Co-operation Minister, will also be part of this delegation that leaves Zimbabwe on Saturday.
Finance Minister Tendai Biti will join the group in Europe. However it is still unclear how European countries are going to deal with the issue of the ZANU PF ministers who are on the travel ban and are supposed to travel to Brussels and London with the Prime Minister’s team. A British source told SW Radio Africa on Friday that a decision had not been made yet to ‘waiver the visa’ for the banned ZANU PF Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengengwi and the Tourism Minister.
The source said an application for a visa waiver would have to be sent to all 27 members of the European Union to ask for a one off waiver, to allow the ZANU PF officials to travel to Europe, but no official note had yet been sent out. Mr Tsvangirai is expected in London on June 19th and it is likely a decision on ZANU PF officials would be made clearer next week.
It would only take one EU member state to refuse a visa waiver, for the restricted person to be denied entry.
Meanwhile the MDC UK branch announced it is organizing a gathering for the Prime Minister to meet Zimbabweans in London on June 20th. Jason Matewu, the Organizing Secretary, said people will meet the Prime Minister at Southwark Anglican Cathedral in London, where the leader will talk about his coalition government.
Some MDC sources in the UK told us that the MDC organisers were forced to look for this second venue, after a key donor who had pledged to pay £10 000 for the original venue – the Methodist Central Hall – pulled out after they found out that ZANU PF ministers on sanctions lists were expected to join the Zimbabwean delegation.
Thousands of people were killed, tortured, mutilated and beaten by the Mugabe regime and it was mainly because of these gross human rights violations that western countries imposed targeted sanctions on members of Robert Mugabe’s ruling elite. But the MDC has been pushing for the removal of these sanctions since the formation of the unity government to try and make their controversial alliance work.
ZANU PF blames Zimbabwe’s crisis on the ‘sanctions’ which they claim were brought in by western nations in response to land reform.
But the Zimbabwe Independent newspaper’ Muckracker column said it is a ‘convenient myth’ by ZANU PF and also the state media, to portray ZANU PF as victims of western penalties for restoring land to the people. Muckracker wrote: “In fact EU sanctions were imposed in 2002 in response to the expulsion from Zimbabwe of Pierre Schori who headed the EU’s election monitoring mission. The measures had nothing to do with land and everything to do with political violence and electoral manipulation.”

Since the new government was formed in early February MDC and civic activists are still being brought before the courts on politically motivated charges and violent invasions on farms still continue. Western governments have said they want to see a partnership of equals but since the formation of the government ZANU PF still controls nearly all major areas of influence, such as the security forces and media.

Journalists win landmark case against government
By Tichaona Sibanda
4 June 2009
Four Harare based journalists on Friday won an historic court case against the government after they challenged the legal status of the Media and Information Commission (MIC).
The four freelance journalists, Stanley Gama, Stanley Kwenda, Jealous Mawarire and Valentine Maponga, were arguing that in terms of AIPPA, as amended in January 2008, the MIC led by Tafataona Mahoso no longer existed.
The Information Ministry last week instructed that all journalists wishing to cover the Common Market for East and Southern Africa (COMESA) summit set to start on Sunday in Victoria Falls, should be accredited with the MIC.
But High court Judge Bharat Patel ruled that the MIC was now a defunct body which no longer existed and as such no journalist in the country should register with them.
Justice Patel also read government the riot act when he ruled that any body or institution seen trying to register journalists in Zimbabwe will be interdicted. Information Minister Webster Shamu, permanent secretary in the ministry George Charamba and Tafataona Mahoso were the first, second and third respondents in the matter.
The Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai was cited as the fourth respondent in his official capacity as the person responsible for the executive arm of the inclusive government and in charge of ensuring the proper implementation of both the law and policy.
Thabani Moyo, the Media Institute advocacy officer for Zimbabwe told us the Ministry of Information was also ordered to retract its statement on 22nd May that journalists in the country were still liable for accreditation to work in Zimbabwe.
‘Justice Patel ruled that if the four journalists wished to cover the COMESA summit in Victoria Falls they should seek accreditation from the COMESA secretariat and not from the Ministry of Information,’ Moyo said.
‘It’s a short term victory because there is still a lot of work to be done in terms of seeing all draconian media laws repealed,’ Moyo added.
A jubilant Gama, who is also the chairman of the journalist’s Quill club in Harare, told us the ruling signalled the dismantling of the pillars of media repression in Zimbabwe.
‘This is a victory for media freedom in Zimbabwe. Journalists have been oppressed for a long time now and this ruling means we can freely operate without intimidation from the ministry, the minister, his permanent secretary or anyone else,’ Gama said.
In past cases the courts have often ruled in favour of media freedom, but these rulings have always been ignored by Mugabe and ZANU PF. It will be interesting to see if the situation is different this time, because of the unity government.
MDC finalises list of nominees for ambassador posts
By Tichaona Sibanda
5 June 2009
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai is reported to have finalised the list of nominees from his MDC party, who would be appointed ambassadors under the provisions of the Global Political Agreement.
A highly placed source in the MDC told us that heading the list is Hebson Makuvise, who has been recommended to be the next ambassador to Germany. Makuvise is the MDC’s chief representative to London and one of the founding members of the party.
Jacqueline Zwambila, a former advisor to Tsvangirai and last year’s MDC losing parliamentary candidate for Chegutu, is suggested as the ambassador to Australia. Another party stalwart, Hilda Mafudze, the former MDC MP for Manyame constituency, could be the country’s next ambassador to Sudan, while little known Khumbulani Mabed from Bulawayo looks at a posting in Nigeria.
The MDC-M is still considering nominating Insiza North MP Siyabonga Malandu, as ambassador to Senegal, to make room for the MDC-M Vice President Gibson Sibanda to contest his seat. He is set to lose his ministerial post in the inclusive government after failing to secure a parliamentary seat within the stipulated three months of his appointment to cabinet.
Once appointed by Robert Mugabe, the nominees will attend an intensive three month course on diplomacy, run by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, before being posted to their stations.
ICT Minister Chamisa orders Tel One to cut tariffs
By Lance Guma
05 June 2009

Information and Communication Technology Minister Nelson Chamisa has ordered the government owned Tel One company to slash its high tariff charges and match billing systems used in other countries in the region. Despite many workers, especially civil servants, earning just US$100 a month the company’s landline customers have been receiving bills as high as US$1000 per month.

On Thursday Chamisa issued a ministerial order barring Tel One from terminating services for any defaulting clients until the matter is resolved by cabinet. He told a media briefing that his ministry was trying to ‘investigate’ the billing system being used, because they had detected ‘very disturbing trends.’ He said Cabinet is due to meet in June to decide on a new tariff regime and this should be in place before the next billing cycle in July.

Complicating matters is that there are two issues at stake – high tariff charges and a distorted billing system. Although the tariffs are due to be reviewed customers will be worried by the Minister’s statement that this would not be done in retrospect, meaning that customers might still be stuck with the previous high bills. Chamisa sought to re-assure them by saying outstanding bills will be ‘rationalized’ to respect the problems that people have been going through.
Commenting on the billing system he said there were other ‘artificial elements’ brought in by the changes in currency and this led to a ‘mischievous conversion from the Zimbabwe dollar to the US dollar.’ Chamisa said the operators were also using old ‘mechanical’ billing systems instead of the more modern digital platforms than can measure call charges per second. This he said contributed to some of the high bills customers were receiving.
Chamisa also said the government was worried about the high call charges being a ‘catalyst to inflationary pressures’ and this is why they had moved ‘swiftly’ to intervene. He said the government would also consider new players in the market in order to enhance quality of service through competition. ‘We will be careful not to undermine the rehabilitating capacity of the existing players who have really been with us for a long time,’ he added.
Another farming family evicted as invasions continue
By Alex Bell
05 June 2009
Yet another farming family in Chegutu have been forced to turn their backs on their land and livelihood, after being forcibly and illegally evicted in the name of so called land reform.
The Keevil family’s land, Dodhill Farm, has been snatched and placed in the hands of the brother of the Chegutu Lands Officer, after months of intense harassment that started in November 2008. Abel Kunonga and fellow land invader Nyasha Chikafu, have mercilessly hounded the Keevils to their recent eviction, despite numerous High Court orders issued since November protecting the Keevils’ right to their land. Chegutu police openly ignored the court orders, only reacting with speed and assertion to arrest the farm’s workers, who acted to prevent Kunonga and an accompanying youth from stealing fuel off the farm. The workers were arrested and kept behind bars for more than a week, for nothing more than trying to protect the land.
Dodhill Farm invasion at a glance:
- First attacks in November 2008 led by Abel Kunonga, brother of Chegutu Lands Officer, Clever Kunonga.
- High Court issues numerous orders on the Keevils’ behalf since November, but all are ignored
- Chegutu police openly ignore the ongoing attacks and court orders, only responding to arrest the farm’s workers who tried to stop Kunonga and other invaders from stealing fuel
- Farm workers spend more than a week behind bars
- Supreme Court Justice Chidyausiku rules against the Keevils in May, paving way for fast track farmer prosecution
- Keevils ordered to the leave their land by the court
Last month, Supreme Court Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku, ruled against the Keevils, who were dragged to court by their oppressors for remaining on the land. The Chief Justice effectively paved the way for the fast track prosecution and eviction of farmers, systematically destroying the arguments the Keevils had in their defence. The Keevils have now been forced to leave their productive, successful farm in the hands of an inexperienced land thief, who ironically has contacted Sam Keevil for assistance on how to run the farm.
The renewed offensive against the country’s remaining commercial farmers has hit the Chegutu farming community the hardest. Almost all farmers in the area are facing prosecution for continuing farming activities, or are dealing with state sponsored land invasions and harassment. All five of the most productive and successful farms in Chegutu have been almost completely taken over and production halted by invaders, led by ZANU PF loyalists. On these farms alone, more than 1300 farm workers have lost their jobs, and more than 5000 Zimbabweans, dependent on Chegutu’s farm operations, have been left penniless and destitute.
The invasions and devastating consequences of the attacks come as the unity government remains unwilling to take action to intervene. Robert Mugabe has naturally defended the attacks in the name of his ‘land-reform’ programme, which has all but destroyed the critical agriculture sector in Zimbabwe. Most shockingly, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, who is set to embark on a cross-continental tour to ‘improve international economic relations’, has downplayed the attacks.
While the desperate bid to win financial favour continues, ordinary Zimbabweans continue to suffer, and until the land attacks are stopped and food production is encouraged, the suffering will continue.


Weekend News Roundup


On the Pulse, with Lance. Millions of children are now living and working on the streets without food, education and shelter. Tendai Joe, a former Zimbabwean street kid and his South African photographer friend, Albert Arcona have decided to embark on a road trip by motorbike from Cape Town to London to raise R10 million to build a village for street kids. Lance and Brilliant Pongo speak to Tendai about this long and arduous ride. Also on the show is Pastor Kapofu, who is bringing gospel musician Mechanic Manyeruke to the UK for a concert.


Rebuilding Zimbabwe. Almost four months into the formation of the unity government, there are no visible signs on the ground to show the country is moving towards reconstruction. Simon Muchemwa, our Harare correspondent, says apart from ‘political rhetoric,’ there is nothing to suggest the government is working on any projects, such as re-building roads, dams, hospitals, power stations or houses.

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