Reporters’ Forum Promo
Lance Guma is joined on the forum by broadcast journalist Brilliant Pongo, former ZBC reporter Bekithemba Mhlanga and political commentator Msekiwa Makwanya. The trio analyse the week’s top stories, including; just why the Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono is clinging onto his job despite the obvious harm it is doing to the unity government. The programme notes how everyone who has accused the governor of corruption has had charges of externalizing forex thrown at them in return. How determined is Mugabe to hold onto his money man?


Reporters’ Forum
Lance Guma is joined on Reporters’ Forum by former ZBC journalist Bekithemba Mhlanga and political commentator Msekiwa Makwanya. Stories under review include the MDC 9th annual conference and its resolutions, the escalating feud over central bank governor Gideon Gono and Attorney General Johannes Tomana, reports of plans to adopt the rand as the official currency in Zimbabwe and many other stories.


Court frees Zimbabwean lawyer Muchadehama
By Violet Gonda
1 June 2009
Prominent human rights lawyer Alec Muchadehama was on Monday removed from remand by Harare magistrate Catherine Chimanda. The lawyer was arrested on May 15th for allegedly ‘conniving’ with Justice Chinembiri Bhunu’s clerk, to facilitate the release of his clients, abductees Chris Dhlamini, Gandhi Mudzingwa and Shadreck Andrison, on bail. He was accused of doing this after the State had been given leave to appeal to the Supreme Court against the granting of bail.
The lawyer was facing charges of obstructing the course of justice, but on Monday Magistrate Chimanda dropped the charges, saying the State had failed to provide enough evidence to show that the accused committed the offence.
Muchadehama said: “We had applied for two aspects, namely that the Attorney General (AG) could not prosecute me because he was an interested party, because he was both the complainant and the prosecutor. And the other application was that I was not supposed to be placed on remand in the first place because the facts which the State was alleging did not find a reasonable suspicion that I had committed an offence.”
Magistrate Chimanda ruled in his favour, noting that the lawyer had handled the issue of his clients bail transparently and had written a letter to the Registrar, copied it to all concerned stakeholders and had checked at the Supreme Court and found that ‘no notice of appeal had been filed by the State.’ The magistrate also noted that it is possible to differ on the interpretation of a section of the Criminal Evidence and Procedure Act, over the issue of the 7 day time frame (notice) period, but she said that can hardly be perceived to have created an offence.
The magistrate added that if Muchadehama had wanted to obstruct the course of justice, it was doubtful that he would have chosen to communicate his intended action to the AG’s office.  She however dismissed the second application by the defence on the issue of the AG assuming both roles of being the complainant and the prosecutor in the same matter.

Constance Gambara, the clerk to High Court Justice Chinembiri Bhunu, was also arrested over the same issue. She was released from remand prison together with her nine month old baby recently, but it is unclear if charges against her have also been dropped.  Muchadehama said he wasn’t sure about the status of her case, but believed she was still on remand as the State’s version of events keep on changing.
“Sometimes they say I connived with the judge’s clerk and then they change it to say I caused their (clients) release when I knew that leave to appeal had been granted, then they change again to say that I misinterpreted a section of the Criminal Act. Then they change to say I knew what the seven days pertained to.  So I really don’t know whether they are sticking to that story that I connived with the judge’s clerk because that simply did not happen. I am not sure what is happening there but I cannot say what the State’s story is in regard to what her allegations are, but I understand they pertain to criminal abuse of office. I do not know in what way because I did not address any letter to her. I addressed the letter to the registrar of the High Court.”
Meanwhile, next week the trials of the MDC and civic activists abducted from their homes last year will begin. Muchadehama said MDC activist Concillia Chinanzvavana and three others will be heard on the 8th June; MDC officials Dhlamini, Mudzingwa, Manyere and four others on the 29th June;  followed by the group with civic leader Jestina Mukoko on 20th July. They are all accused of plotting to overthrow the former ZANU PF government. They deny the charges.
“The biggest worry in this case is that our clients are the victims. So we have victims in the dock while the perpetrators of actual crimes, the people who kidnapped and tortured our clients, are out there. Some are actually coming to purport to be witnesses to the violations of our clients’ rights. So these are the issues that we will be raising in court,” their lawyer said.
Tsvangirai concerned about delay in implementing GPA issues
By Tichaona Sibanda
1 June 2009
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai is reported to be deeply concerned with the delay in implementing the issues agreed to, in the Global Political Agreement.
Tsvangirai’s spokesman, James Maridadi, said the Prime Minister was expected meet Mugabe on Monday for their weekly meeting and was expected to raise these issues once again.
‘Yes its true the Prime Minister intends to raise these issues with the President in his meeting,’ Maridadi said. Two weeks ago, Tsvangirai told journalists in Harare that the three party principals had managed to iron out a number of outstanding issues but that ‘the process was slow and frustrating.’
Last month Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Mutambara finally agreed on most of the outstanding issues still facing the unity government. But these agreements have still not been implemented.  There is also the remaining problem of the irregular appointments of Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono and Attorney General Johannes Tomana – issues which Mugabe has made clear he will not budge on.
The agreements reached included the fact that Mugabe would retrench six provincial ZANU PF governors that he appointed. The Prime Minister said the new governors from the MDC would be sworn in “at the soonest of opportunity.’
Mugabe also agreed to swear in Roy Bennett, the national treasurer of the MDC and Tsvangirai’s nominee for the post of deputy agricultural minister. Bennett is likely to be sworn in at the same time with the governors.
Our Harare correspondent, Simon Muchemwa told us the delay in implementing the GPA issues was now being felt by ordinary citizens. He said people were blaming the current shortages of cash on Mugabe’s reluctance to speed up the process.
‘People are frustrated and they know aid will not come in unless there are visible reforms on the ground. There is an outcry that GPA delays are taking the country backwards,’ Muchemwa said.
Revamping the economy and persuading skeptical foreign donors and investors to help is the top priority for Tsvangirai. But none of this will be achievable until Mugabe shows he is genuinely prepared to relinquish power.
UN appeals for US$718 million for humanitarian aid for Zimbabwe
By Tichaona Sibanda
1 June 2009
The United Nations has said Zimbabwe needs $718 million in immediate aid, to stave off hunger for over six million people.
The UN released a report on Friday saying that apart from the severe food shortages, 6 million people have no access to safe water or sanitation, while 600,000 families will need farm aid for the upcoming planting season.
‘The country’s humanitarian needs remain staggering. There is the concern that, unless conditions change, outbreaks of waterborne diseases at the onset of the next rainy season could lead to new cholera cases and higher humanitarian needs,’ the UN said in the report.
4000 people have died of cholera since August last year and another 100,000 caught the disease. Last year the UN appealed for $550 million to assist the country, but this has been revised upwards as the crisis has worsened. So far $246 million has been given, about a third of what is needed.
Augustino Zacarias, the UN resident humanitarian coordinator in Harare, has urged donors to help the country as the new unity government struggles to meet the nation’s needs.
MDC calls for urgent SADC summit
By Lance Guma
01 June 2009
The MDC used a national conference over the weekend to call on the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to convene an extraordinary summit, to tackle the outstanding issues plaguing the coalition government. Over 1000 party delegates converged on Harare for the first national conference since the MDC entered into the shaky coalition government with ZANU PF.
Spokesman Nelson Chamisa told Newsreel on Monday that delegates resolved that Central Bank Governor Gideon Gono and Attorney General Johannes Tomana must step down in the national interest. With district and provincial reports being submitted and debated, the delegates agreed that both Gono and Tomana had ‘poisoned the economic and human rights situation in the country.’ Since SADC and the African Union acted as guarantors to the deal, the MDC now want them to intervene and resolve the impasse.
In other resolutions the MDC vowed it would re-engage civil society groups in the constitution making process and that ‘a genuinely free and fair election must be held at the conclusion of the process.’ The party also said the country needed a legal framework to help deal with the plight of victims of political violence. Party delegates were also critical of what they felt was the slow pace of media reforms, high tariffs from state owned service providers and the deployment of army personnel in the villages.
Commenting on ongoing political violence and persecution, Chamisa told us the party urged Finance Minister Tendai Biti to ensure government did not fund any youth militia structures as these promoted violence. The party also demanded that the National Security Council, that had been established to replace the notorious Joint Operations Command, ‘must meet urgently in terms of the law.’ There are reports Mugabe is refusing to sign the National Security Council bill into law and in the meantime the JOC continues to meet.
The MDC resolutions clearly sought to draw a line between the party and the government. Tsvangirai for example told delegates ‘the MDC is in government but we are not the government. These are the limitations in a marriage of convenience. Those in government will tell you this government is walking on a thin thread.’ The Prime Minister has over the months drawn criticism for defending Mugabe too much, at the expense of his own credibility. Over the weekend however his party was not so diplomatic.
Meanwhile Tsvangirai is set to make his first overseas trip by going to France at the end of June. French Junior trade minister Anne-Marie Idrac, who is visiting Zimbabwe, extended the invitation after praising Tsvangirai for his work in the unity government.


In Cathy Buckle’s Letter from Zimbabwe she says, “as Zimbabwe struggles out of the darkness of a decade of dictatorship and political mayhem we are beginning to see how hard the return journey is going to be, and how long.”


Callback Phiri says nothing has changed for the majority of Zimbabweans since the GNU and people are still surviving with help from relatives in the Diaspora; Tapiwa says the rampant nepotism in government departments has reduced the quality of services, and Jimmy J says the basic political landscape remains the same, the only improvement is that food is easier to get hold of.


On the Pulse Variety Picks
They say variety is the spice of life, and Lance Guma delivers this On the Pulse. Guests on the show include Afro TV founder Sibongile Tamia Tendai who talks about her station, and gospel singer Stanley Nenge who’s just released an album, ‘Natsa Nemashoko.’ Watch out for music from Danny Brusco ‘That Thang’, Abisha Makombe ‘Ndire Ndire,’ and Flavour P’s  hit songs ‘Ndinokuda’ and ‘Uri Razor.’


Hot Seat: Madhuku vs Matinenga
Violet presents this week’s Hot Seat where the guests are Advocate Eric Matinenga, Minister of Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs, and Dr Lovemore Madhuku, Chairman of the National Constitutional Assembly(NCA). This frank discussion focuses on the government’s position regarding the constitution-making process, a process which is much opposed by the NCA.


More prisoners die as hunger stalks Zim jails
By Alex Bell
29 May 2009
Prisoners locked away in Zimbabwe’s nightmare jails are still dying from hunger related diseases, as the widespread food crisis continues to cripple the country.
This week alone, six inmates at the Mutimurefu prison in Masvingo died, adding to the more than 900 prisoner deaths already recorded this year. According to pressure group Restoration of Human Rights (ROHR) Zimbabwe, four of the inmates were found dead in their cells while one died in hospital. The last inmate died shortly after being discharged from hospital this week. The deaths come mere weeks after six inmates at the Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison were found dead in their cells.
According to recent figures, 970 prisoners have died in Zimbabwe’s prisons from malnutrition in 2009 alone. Jessie Majome, the Deputy Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs was quoted in this week’s Financial Gazette as saying that the figure is ‘three times higher than the number of deaths recorded during the same period last year.’
The grim reality of the prison situation in Zimbabwe was exposed in a documentary by a South African film crew in March that clearly showed the ‘living hell’ prisoners face. The film, Hell Hole, sparked outrage from international human rights groups, with some even calling for a general amnesty to be given to prisoners until the situation was rectified. Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa spoke shortly after it was broadcast and called the documentary a ‘fabrication,’ and slammed South Africa’s SABC for airing the film. The government eventually conceded that the prison system had collapsed, and called on the international community to donate food for prisoners.
But very little has changed, and ROHR on Friday said the prison situation is ‘epitomic of the general rot and decline of standards of living in the country.’ The group said the inclusive government has little to show the nation in the form of progress, arguing that the humanitarian and human rights situation in Zimbabwe continues to deteriorate.

Shocking video shows Zimbabwe police torturing recruits
By Tichaona Sibanda
29 May 2009
SW Radio Africa has obtained exclusive video footage showing a number of police recruits in Zimbabwe being tortured and beaten in a series of sickening assaults by what appears to be their instructors.
In one horrifying attack, a recruit is pinned down by six officers with one stepping on his back as laughing instructors whip and kick the defenseless man. The recruit can be heard screaming while one officer shouts, ‘wuraya’ (kill him). Other officers are also heard shouting ‘castrate him,’ and ‘step on his throat.’
Screaming recruits are also seen being wrestled to the ground and held down while laughing officers kick and beat them with baton sticks.
The footage shockingly depicts the recruits as they lie screaming on the floor of what appears to be the Morris Depot training camp in Harare.
The footage is believed to have been filmed in the last two months in Harare. A voice supposedly that of one of the instructors can also be heard bellowing out instructions to the assailants.
‘The syllabus has now changed. We now call this syllabus E,’ the officer can be heard saying, probably referring to the practice of beatings.
Surprisingly, it was a police officer who made the film, and others can be seen in the video using their mobile phones to capture the beatings. Taurayi Chamboko, a police constable with the Bedfordshire Constabulary in the UK told us the officers in the footage would have faced serious charges of brutality and human rights abuses in the UK.
“In the UK it is illegal for an instructor to have physical contact with a recruit unless they are going through certain tactical drills where contact is unavoidable,” PC Chamboko reported.

Human rights activists say police brutality is deeply entrenched in Zimbabwean life. Dewa Mavhinga, a human rights lawyer said all Zimbabweans should condemn in the strongest possible terms the brutality being meted out on recruits, which is not only a violation of human rights, but more importantly, an outright crime in terms of the country’s laws.

“A police officer is someone in a contract of employment, so what employer has a right to brutally assault employees? The Zimbabwe government must immediately investigate this crime and arrest anyone found to have been involved in these dastardly, inhuman and degrading acts,” Mavhinga said.

He added; “It’s unfortunate that in a country gripped by lawlessness such cruel beatings may even be viewed as normal. That goes to show the state to which Zimbabwe has been reduced.”

Isaac Dziya, a retired assistant commissioner with the ZRP described the beatings as ‘shocking,’ and said such things should not be happening under a new unity government.
Dziya said torture in Zimbabwe is now ‘routine,’ and exerted on anybody whether in political or criminal cases, and the police don’t really feel any shame in practicing it because they are taught the subject as a syllabus.
NGO’s vow to reject proposed amendments to PVO act
By Lance Guma
29 May 2009
The National Association of Non-Governmental Organisations (NANGO) has rejected plans by both the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Labour and Social Services to amend laws governing NGO operations. This after both ministries drafted a joint memorandum to amend the Private Voluntary Organizations (PVO) and Deeds Registries Act.
NANGO, the umbrella body for the NGO groups, says the amendments are simply an attempt by government to control organisations dealing with human rights and governance issues. These are currently registered as Trusts, but the amendments being sought by government will force them to register under the draconian PVO Act. This act has been used since 1967 to control organisations wanting to register as private voluntary organisations and also exert full and complete control over those already registered.
Speaking to Newsreel on Friday, NANGO Programmes Director Fambai Ngirande told us the latest moves were equivalent to getting the much condemned NGO Bill in ‘through the back door,’ The Mugabe regime’s 2004 bill not only maintained the most repressive features of the PVO Act but it went further to put in place certain restrictions on fundraising and administration. Registration certificates for example could be cancelled over issues relating to finances and accounting.
Groups under NANGO convened a consultative meeting to consider the broader aspects of the proposed changes. The consensus was that government was seeking to curtail the operating environment for civil society groups especially in the run up to the current constitutional reform and national healing process.
Archbishop Tutu says Zimbabwe ‘Hell on Earth’
By staff writer
29 May 2009
South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu said Zimbabwe has become, ‘a hell on earth, and genuine change could only come to the country at the next election. The outspoken cleric was speaking at a literary festival in Wales on Thursday, where he talked at length about Zimbabwe. He also expressed optimism that with the right support the country’s national unity government could succeed.
The news agency AFP quotes the Nobel Peace laureate saying: “The situation there has been dire, it’s a horrendous situation and it’s in many ways still an unbelievable country with so much potential.”
Archbishop Tutu questioned how such a beautiful country could be ‘changed into hell on earth’ in such a few short years. He added that the present scenario of a unity government was, ‘the best chance of salvaging and helping Zimbabwe return to her former glory.’
According to the press, the Archbishop said he doubted that Robert Mugabe would ever heed calls to stand down. When a Zimbabwean member of the audience at the Hay-on-Wye Festival asked whether he personally could intervene to persuade Mugabe to stand down, Tutu said: “I doubt he would want to hear from me. I’m that little bitter bishop. I’m sad for his country, but I’m hopeful.”
SA Presidency accused of hiding Zim violence report
By Alex Bell
29 May 2009
The South African Presidency has been accused of deliberately hiding a suspected controversial report on the Zimbabwe security forces role in last year’s deadly post-election violence.
President Jacob Zuma’s office has rejected numerous requests for the report, which was compiled last year by retired army generals, to be made public. The Presidency has made claims that former President Thabo Mbeki, who appointed the army generals to undertake the investigation, never received a written report. Instead, the then SADC appointed mediator in the crisis apparently only received oral feedback from the retired generals.
The Southern African Centre for Survivors of Torture, the South African Litigation Centre and the official opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, recently invoked the ‘Promotion of Access to Information Act’ to force the President’s Office to release the report. The groups insist that the report paints a ‘devastating’ picture of state-sponsored violence, which apparently shifted Mbeki’s perceptions on the situation in Zimbabwe.
“The report is believed to have been hard-hitting and instrumental in the evolution of subsequent negotiations leading to the September Global Political Agreement,” they said in a combined statement.
But former Presidency Director-General Frank Chikane has since denied that the former generals appointed by Mbeki made any written report to the former leader, or were given any documents for the purpose of compiling the report.
The Presidency’s claims have been met with anger and disbelief by the non-governmental organisations that have supported the application for access to the report. Director of the South African History Archive (SAHA), Piers Pigou, on Friday said the Presidency is lying and is ‘setting itself up to be questioned.’ He said the details in the report are crucial to prompt the transformation of Zimbabwe’s military, and prevent future abuses.
This is not the first time that the South African government has refused to publicise reports related to the crisis in Zimbabwe. In 2002, then President Mbeki appointed Judge Sisi Khampepe and current Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke to observe the Presidential election in Zimbabwe, but their report has never been released. More recently, the government asked the Constitutional Court not to publicly release a secret 60-page report containing correspondence between the South African and Zimbabwean governments. The request was made during a legal bid to prove that the Presidency did not abandon South African farmers during Zimbabwe’s land grab.


Behind the Headlines
On the 15th April 2000 two MDC activists, Tichaona Chiminya and Talent Mabika, were brutally murdered by CIO operative Joseph Mwale who threw a petrol bomb into their car, burning them to death. One of the survivors of the attack, Sanderson Makombe, is the guest on Behind the Headlines and says that Zimbabwe needs to adopt a Truth and Reconciliation Commission. This should have the power to impose community sentencing or grant amnesty, depending on the level of culpability, participation and gravity of the crime.


The Heart of the Matter with Tanonoka Joseph Whande
Journalist and broadcaster Tanonoka Whande shares his unique thoughts and insights on issues and current events of interest to Zimbabweans as they unfold.
Tanonoka comments, “The MDC has not yet even attained real power to make meaningful changes; they don’t even know who they are within this government and they already want to cut up the country in a disgraceful attempt to create what can only be a federal state, but created along tribal lines.” He also once again focuses on the controversial issue of RBZ Governor Gono; with ZANU PF threatening to abandon the GNU. Is this the issue that will bring the government to its knees?
To read a transcript of Tanonoka Joseph Whande’s monologue.
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