‘Sir’ talks about the dilemma facing Zimbabwe’s teachers who continue to teach out of dedication to their calling when they are barely surviving on their salaries; Von Steventz reports that morale in the ZNA is at an all time low. Soldiers are underfed and are expected to go about their duties wearing tattered uniforms, and Dallas says that the constant shifting of goalposts by ZANU PF is further proof that they have no intention of honoring the terms of the GPA.


Prosecuted farmer, was not on a farm
By Alex Bell
28 May 2009
As the current offensive against Zimbabwe’s remaining commercial farmers gathers momentum, it would appear that even non-farming members of the community are being hounded, arrested and prosecuted.
Ian Campbell-Morrison was sentenced in the Mutare Magistrates court on Wednesday, after he was found guilty of occupying his land illegally. He was fined US$800 and was ordered to leave his property by Saturday, or face a jail term.
But Campbell-Morrison has not been involved in farming activities for several years after his tobacco farm in the Vumba Mountains was seized as part of Robert Mugabe’s ‘land reform’ programme. The former farmer and his wife lost their farm and farmhouse, but were given permission to stay in a small cottage on the land, where the only planting has been in the form of flowers in their small garden. Campbell-Morrison has instead been working at the tourist hotel next door, where he is the greens keeper for the venue’s golf course.
But, regardless of this, the Campbell-Morrisons are now packing up their cottage, as the fast track prosecution of farmers, active or not, picks up speed. Justice for Agriculture’s (JAG) John Worsley-Worswick explained on Thursday that Campbell-Morrison’s prosecution highlights “the racist, ethnic and citizen issues that still mar the land debate.” He said that white farmers in most cases are still widely regarded as ‘enemies of the state’, but emphasised that they still have the same citizens rights as the rest of Zimbabwe. The JAG official continued that there are fears the case is the start of the widespread fast-track prosecution of commercial farmers, and that active farming will not necessarily be an indicator of potential prosecution.
The offensive against the farmers has been in the form of a two-pronged attack in the name of Mugabe’s land grab, including court prosecution of farmers and physical land invasions. More than 140 farmers have been hauled before the courts on trumped up charges of being on so-called state land ‘illegally’, and many more have been forced into hiding for fear of illegal prosecution. At the same time, land invasions headed by ZANU PF loyalists, have intensified and grown increasingly violent, with widespread looting and massive theft taking place on a daily basis.

Zimbabwean journalists & lawyers brought before the courts
By Violet Gonda
28 May 2009
There was much activity in the magistrates’ courts in Harare on Thursday when human rights lawyers, two senior journalists and WOZA activists appeared in court for separate, routine, remand hearings.
Two editors from the Zimbabwe Independent newspaper, Vincent Kahiya and Constantine Chimakure, appeared before Magistrate Catherine Chimanda, who ruled that they will stand trial on June 16th. This was after the State Prosecutor, Moses Musendo, argued that they face serious charges that justifies them standing trial.
The two, who were arrested on May 11th, are accused of writing a story that would undermine public confidence in law enforcement agents. They had published a story entitled, CIO, police role in activists’ abduction revealed, containing the names of police officers and state agents implicated in the abductions of MDC and civic activists.
The newspaper editors were ordered to report once a week as part of their bail conditions, but their lawyer Innocent Chagonda successfully had their bail conditions removed.
In another case, Alec Muchadehama, a leading rights lawyer appeared in court for a remand hearing following his arrest on 15 May. He is facing charges of obstructing the course of justice, for allegedly conniving with a judge’s clerk to have bail orders filed, which eventually led to the release of three of his clients on 17th  April.  He is accused of doing this after the State had obtained leave to appeal to the Supreme Court against the granting of bail.
Muchadehama lawyer, Beatrice Mtetwa, argued against her client’s placement on remand saying that the offence leveled against him ‘did not constitute a reasonable suspicion which warranted or justified either his arrest or placement on remand.’  Magistrate Chimanda postponed the matter to June 1st for a ruling.
Muchadehama told SW Radio Africa said even if the court removes him from remand, the Attorney General can still proceed by way of summons  and put him on trial. The prosecutor indicated that the trial date should start on 17th June. Muchadehama said: “For malicious reason they can actually do that, so that a person can go through these motions of a trial, whilst my time is being wasted and then I am then deprived of doing other things. My rights to practice law are temporarily affected because instead of attending to my clients I then have to attend to my own cases. They can do that for malicious reasons. They are very good at that.”
Meanwhile rights lawyers, Roselyn Hanzi and Tawanda Zhuwarara, plus eight WOZA members, where acquitted when their trial resumed on Thursday in Harare. The 10 were brought before the courts following their arrest on 10th February for allegedly ‘participating in an illegal gathering that was bent on breaching the peace.’
Muchadehama said the magistrate threw out this case when the State witnesses, two police officers, said ‘nothing in terms of substance’ during their testimony.  The magistrate acquitted the 10 saying they committed no offence.
The WOZA members had been part of a group that held a peaceful march in Harare and the lawyers had been walking by, when riot police violently broke up the demonstration and arrested them all.
Muchadehama said this is another example of how the authorities abuse their power by arresting innocent people, making them pay bail and forcing them to go through the motions of a trial, only to be acquitted in the end.
An angry Muchadehama added: “I think there is a clique in the military, CIO, the police or the Attorney General and so on, who are behind these things (arrests). These are well calculated and planned quite deliberately – where it’s decided that certain people must be abducted, certain people must be killed, and deliberately violate people’s rights.”
He said this plot is systematic and widespread throughout the country and that he was exasperated to see this happening, during a time when there is a new inclusive government in the country. “People also appear not to be perplexed and shocked and unmoved about such things. How can these things be happening? I am quite upset about this because it doesn’t have to happen this way.”
Mnangagwa and CIO plot Chebundo’s downfall
By Tichaona Sibanda
28 May 2009
Family and friends of MDC MP for KweKwe Blessing Chebundo, have claimed that Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa is putting ernomous pressure on state prosecutors, to find the legislator guilty for allegedly raping a minor.
Chebundo denies the charge and has told his defence team he’s prepared to undertake a DNA test to prove his innocence. But family and party colleagues are worried at the influence Mnangawa is having on court officials in the town.
Mnangagwa, who lost twice to Chebundo in the KweKwe parliamentary elections in 2000 and 2005, is now said to be virtually based in the town, directing operations with CIO officers in a bid to ensure Chebundo is found guilty.
‘The first day Chebundo appeared in court, Mnangagwa was seated in his car outside the court room. The girl’s family are now virtually living under siege from state security agents who have barred anyone from visitng or making contact with them,’ an MDC MP in the Midlands told us on Thursday.
The MP told us Chebundo has known the alleged rape victim from the age of eight and has been helping the family with school fees since 2004.
‘Chebundo denies ever raping the girl. He admits knowing the girl since she was eight years old. The state are saying the pregnancy is as a result of Chebundo raping the girl. But the MP is saying lets have a DNA test when the child is born. So what happens if the DNA tests proves the child is not Chebundo when the state case is based on the pregnancy? Asked the MDC MP.
‘This was suppossed to have been a straightforward case but political meddling has made it impossible for the MP to get a fair trial. Mnangagwa and his cronies are adamant to see Chebundo go down,’ the MP said.
Chebundo, a founding legislator with the MDC, is alleged to have committed the rape after he offered a lift in his vehicle to the girl who is now his accuser.
Initial police reports said the legislator, who was driving to his Kwekwe base on January 5th, had pulled off the road along the way and committed the alleged offence, which reportedly came to light when the sister of the girl advised her to report the matter to the police.
According to police, a medical examination had revealed the minor was now 5 months pregnant.
MDC to have national conference over the weekend
By Lance Guma
28 May 2009
The MDC, which entered into a coalition government with ZANU PF 3 months ago, will be holding its 9th annual conference in Harare over the weekend. Under the theme ‘Celebrating a decade of Courage, Conviction and Leadership’ the party says it will ‘review and update its policies, as well as taking stock of the hopes and impediments of the inclusive government.’
Over a 1000 delegates from across the party’s provinces and districts are expected to attend. With several grassroots structures complaining about ongoing victimization from ZANU PF in their constituencies, the conference will be a litmus test of how MDC members view the coalition government.
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai is expected to deliver the keynote address and review what the party has done in its 10 year history, as well as explain the outstanding issues in the unity government. The MDC says it has invited several guests from different countries, political parties and organizations. The conference will close with what the MDC call a ‘celebratory rally’ on Sunday afternoon at the Glamis Stadium.
Speaking to Newsreel on Thursday, party spokesman Nelson Chamisa told us the national conference was the second most powerful body in terms of decision making, after the National Council. Several leadership positions are also set to be filled, particularly positions that have arisen in the National Council.
Meanwhile the delegates from all of the party’s 12 provinces will submit reports on what is happening in their areas. Chamisa told us the National Conference can make recommendations for the party to pull out from the coalition government, if it feels this is in the best interest of the party.
Army threatens war over Gono removal
By Alex Bell
28 May 2009
The country’s security chiefs have taken the current political fight over the reappointment of Gideon Gono a step further, threatening to take up arms to prevent the removal of the Reserve Bank Governor from his post.
Robert Mugabe on Monday declared that Gono, his money-man for many years, will retain his job despite the political deadlock that has been created with the MDC over Gono’s position. The MDC has been campaigning to have Gono removed as head of the central bank because his reappointment by Mugabe was a violation of the terms of the Global Political Agreement. Furthermore, Gono’s reputation for fuelling hyperinflation, stealing from private bank accounts and funding the goings-on of Mugabe’s murderous regime, has seen an understandable reluctance from foreign donors to trust financial aid being poured into a corrupt banking system.
The political deadlock has forced the MDC to call on the guarantors of the agreement that formed the unity government, to intervene. But while the process of getting SADC involved continues, the country’s security and military heads have added to the tensions by threatening to go to war if Gono is removed. According to the state run Herald newspaper, Air Vice Marshal Henry Muchena said that Zimbabwe’s defence forces were supporting Gono, and were willing to go to war to defend him. Muchena was quoted as saying that the army would not allow anyone to remove Gono from his post, as it would be the same as “negating the struggle for independence.”
The Air Vice Marshal was speaking at the burial of Gono’s brother on Monday in Buhera. Also at the ceremony was Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa, who reportedly told mourners that by demanding the removal of Gono the MDC is in effect demanding the ouster of Mugabe. Chinamasa also reportedly said ZANU PF would pull out of the coalition with the MDC, if Gono is removed.
Political commentator Professor John Makumbe told SW Radio Africa that neither threat by the army nor by ZANU PF should stop the MDC from campaigning to have Gono removed. He argued that while a military coup would be disastrous for Zimbabwe, ZANU PF will not allow such action to take place, regardless of their own threats to pull out of the government. Makumbe explained that a coup would see the country being cut off from SADC, the AU and the international community, and added that ZANU PF will not run the risk of losing the potential to attract much needed foreign investment.
Tsvangirai and Mutambara have officially asked SADC to intervene
By Tichaona Sibanda
28 May 2009
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara have finally sent a letter to SADC, officially asking them to break the talks deadlock over the appointment of the central bank chief and the attorney general.
On Wednesday we had spoken to two senior MDC officials who had told us that Tsvangirai would be writing to SADC before the end of the week.
But Gordon Moyo, the Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s office, told us on Thursday the letter, co-authored by the two leaders, was dispatched late Wednesday.
‘There is one letter that was sent via the South African embassy for onward transmission. This letter represents the views of the two principals (Tsvangirai and Mutambara). But what is important is what is contained in the letter rather than who wrote it,’ Moyo said.
This highlights the problems journalists face in trying to clarify issues with the government, given the lack of official press releases.
Before the SADC letter was officially delivered the MDC had been on a diplomatic offensive, briefing regional leaders about the deadlock. Following these consultations, they finally drafted the letter addressed to the SADC chairman, South African President Jacob Zuma.
It was reported on Thursday that a draft of the letter had been seen and in it Tsvangirai and Mutambara expressed dissatisfaction that the delays in solving the issue of Gono and Tomana were threatening the credibility of the coalition government.
The letter is believed to have referred to the summit held in January in which it was agreed that the appointment of the Reserve Bank Governor and the Attorney General should be dealt with by the coalition government.
Mutambara and Tsvangirai have pointed out in the letter to Zuma that despite innumerable meetings between the three principals, Mugabe has refused to budge on Gono and Tomana, despite the SADC ruling for all parties to agree on senior appointments.
Econet clarify number of new phone lines
By Lance Guma
28 May 2008
On Tuesday we carried a story in which we said the country’s largest mobile phone network, Econet Wireless, had released an extra 50 000 phones lines for sale. The company have since written to us to say that they have in fact sold more that 107 000 lines through their shops and have been selling at a rate of more than 5000 lines per day. And that they will continue to sell phone lines, as long as people need them.
The company says it has since January undertaken major investment in its network, and has been installing new equipment, to add more than 1.5 million additional customers. ‘Lines are available on demand, but there has been a backlog arising from several years when there was no capacity, and people could not get lines,’ Econet said.
They also said that since the release of their phone lines ‘queues outside our shops, are getting shorter and shorter with some shops even reporting that they have no queues at all.” They added that they are confident that before the end of June, there will be no queues at all.


Hidden Story
A new pressure group, the UK based Mthwakazi Action Group on Genocide in Matabeleland and Midlands, is demanding a new independent inquiry into the Gukurahundi massacres that took place between 1983 and 1988. Mpho Ncube, director of communications for MAGGEMM, say it is extremely distressful that almost 30 years have gone by without any acknowledgement from the government about the fact that 20 000 innocent civilians lost their lives needlessly during this period.


The Wednesday Forum
This is a weekly report from the London Monday Forum meeting, where speakers from politics, civic society, business, academia, and others with interests in Zimbabwe are invited to share ideas, plan actions and lobby with facilitators Jeff Sango and Sam.

From the initial negotiations that led to signing of the GPA, to the formation of the inclusive government, and even during recent disagreements over governors, secretaries, ambassadors, and the re-appointment of the RBZ Governor and Attorney General, the three parties have struggled to reach consensus on structural changes.  Dr Alex Magaisa shares his thoughts with the forum on the current state of the GNU and whether it is on the right path.


Kazembe says ZANU PF has lost all support that is why they are dragging their feet in drawing up a new constitution; Thabani Nyoni from the Bulawayo Progressive Resident’s Association gives an update on their recent clean-up campaign. It appears that the residents of Bulawayo’s suburbs as well as the local city council have taken the campaign to heart and are making extra efforts to ensure the streets stay clean. And, Eddie says the only way to survive nowadays is through buying and selling goods.


Farmer prosecuted for being on his land
By Alex Bell
27 May 2009
A commercial farmer based outside Mutare has become the latest farmer to be prosecuted and sentenced by Zimbabwe’s courts, raising fears that the fast track court prosecution of the country’s remaining farmers is underway.
Ian Guy Campbell-Morrison spent Tuesday night in a Mutare jail cell after he was found guilty of farming, on land he legally owns. He was sentenced late Wednesday to a total fine of US$800 and a suspended jail term, if he does not leave his farm in the next three days. Justice for Agriculture’s John Worsley-Worswick explained on Wednesday that the three-day eviction order is unreasonable, and added that an appeal has been lodged in the High Court. He continued that there are fears the case is the start of the widespread fast-track prosecution of commercial farmers, that were ordered by the Attorney General Johannes Tomana last year.
Campbell-Morrison’s prosecution comes after Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai last week moved to play down the severity of the current wave of farm attacks. During an interview about the 100-day milestone of the unity government, Tsvangirai called the attacks ‘isolated incidents’ that had been ‘blown out of proportion’. He also said the matter was being dealt with, despite the clear lack of action from the government that has been so evident in the months since the attacks began. The Prime Minister’s comments have since sparked outrage from the commercial farming community, which has been left reeling by the numerous, ongoing and increasingly violent attacks.
The offensive against the farmers has been in the form of a two-pronged attack in the name of Robert Mugabe’s land grab, including widespread court battles and physical land attacks. More than 140 farmers have been hauled before the courts on trumped up charges of being on so-called state land ‘illegally’, and many more have been forced into hiding for fear of illegal prosecution. At the same time, land invasions headed by ZANU PF loyalists, have intensified and grown increasingly violent, with widespread looting and massive theft taking place on a daily basis.
Chegutu farmer Ben Freeth, whose Mount Carmel farm has been under siege by lawless invaders since February, has this week written to the Prime Minister, one again urging the government to put a stop to the blatant destruction of property rights. Mount Carmel has been all but destroyed by land invaders working for ZANU PF top official Nathan Shamuyarira, and hundreds of thousands of US dollars worth of produce has been stolen or left to rot. This week, Freeth, his family and his workers, came under fresh intimidation and attack, with the hired thugs threatening renewed violence if they don’t leave the land. Freeth, whose wife and three young children still live on the property, told SW Radio Africa on Wednesday that they are all living in terror, saying “we are all being held to ransom by just a small group of thugs, while the government pretends nothing is happening.”
The unity government ironically has repeatedly pledged its commitment to improving life for all Zimbabweans, but the continuing farm attacks have added to the already considerable suffering of a nation. Food production has been halted on almost all farms, despite more than 80 percent of the country relying on food aid. At the same time, thousands of people have lost their farm jobs as a result of the attacks, adding to the crippling unemployment rate that is already more than 90 percent.
These attacks and the lack of property rights are also at the root of the lack of investment and confidence in Zimbabwe.
Abducted Pastor Berejena released unharmed
By Violet Gonda
27 May 2009
On Tuesday SW Radio Africa received information from an MDC official, stating that another person had been abducted by unknown assailants. The official said Pastor Berejena, who has been a “close spiritual friend of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and has also been a spiritual strength to so many of the victims of political violence over the past 14 months,” was abducted on Monday afternoon by suspected CIO operatives.
Marondera Central MP Ian Kay, a friend of the Pastor, said Berejena was located on Wednesday morning and is now in a safe place. “The details are very vague but we got a message that Pastor Berejena was picked up by unknown people driving a white Sunny (vehicle) and we didn’t know his whereabouts. That’s when we started phoning around, sending out emails to try and find out where he was.  I got another SMS this afternoon to say that he had been found and ‘released’ was the word that was used and that he was safe but he has gone to ground.”
It is believed the Pastor was picked up from his home in Harare on Monday and taken to an unknown location by his assailants. He was not harmed.
Not much information was available as to why he had been abducted, but those close to him said this is not the first time that he has been harassed and he has been under constant surveillance by unknown people who have been following him for a long time now.
We could not get a comment from the police or from the Pastor but it is believed he is being victimised for sourcing funds to help MDC victims of violence. Some sources said his abductors were trying to find out where he got the money from.
MDC activists say he has been helping victims of political violence for a  long time now, after so many were brutalised at the time of the controversial elections of last year. Many victims of this violence have gone without any help and Pastor Berejena was one of the few who has been trying to help some of them.
One MDC activist, speaking on condition of anonymity, said many MDC activists who helped the party and became victims of the Mugabe regime, are now being neglected by their own party. The activist said the situation has worsened since the formation of the unity government, as not much effort is being made by the MDC to help these victims of political violence.
An MDC official said: “While it is a sad reality that people are falling through the cracks, there is no money to help people on a large scale. Once you give one person a little you have to help all at the same level. And that translates into a lot of money and a lot of manpower. There is also no surveillance to prevent mismanagement and corruption. The MDC is not set up to meet this challenge neither is ZPF, as seen with how the disability funds were badly managed by the regime.”
MDC still to officially ask SADC to intervene
By Tichaona Sibanda
27 May 2009
MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai will officially notify SADC of the talks deadlock over the central bank Governor and the Attorney-General before the end of this week, a party source told SW Radio Africa on Wednesday.
Almost all leaders in the region have been briefed informally by the MDC about the deadlock. Following these consultations, the MDC will only now officially invite the grouping to arbitrate.
Last week Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Mutambara failed to reach agreement over the appointment of the two notorious ZANU PF apologists. Tsvangirai told journalists that as a result of the deadlock, the principals would refer the matter to the guarantors of the Global Political Agreement, SADC, for arbitration. A letter to that effect is being drafted by Tsvangirai, who said the reappointment of Gono and appointment of Tomana as AG by Mugabe was a breach of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and the GPA the political parties had agreed to.
An MDC source told us from Harare that Tsvangirai was drafting the letter in his capacity as the President of the MDC and not as the Prime Minister of the Zimbabwe.
‘When they meet as principals, they are basically representing their political parties. This is why the issues of the GPA are never discussed in cabinet because there has to be a separation of government and party activities,’ our source told us.
Gono has presided over the total destruction of the economy since he was appointed as RBZ governor six years ago. Our Harare correspondent Simon Muchemwa said that Mugabe backs Gono because he has been his personal banker, providing ready foreign currency for shopping jaunts by Grace Mugabe, when the country was facing its worst economic situation.
Mugabe had told mourners at the funeral of Gono’s brother in Buhera at the weekend, that the RBZ chief was not going anywhere. This provoked a furious response from the MDC: ‘The RBZ governor, as confirmed by Mugabe himself, was at the epicenter of the erosion and corrosion of the integrity of the central bank. We call upon SADC and the AU, as the guarantors of the GPA, to adjudicate over this issue as a matter of urgency because it shakes the foundation and threatens the health, stability and life of the inclusive government,’ a statement from the MDC said.
Journalists union blasts illegal accreditation rules
By Alex Bell
27 May 2009
The Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ) has lashed out at the Information Ministry’s order for journalists to apply for media accreditation, saying journalists will not be forced to endorse an illegal body.
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai last week said the Media and Information Commission (MIC) had ceased to exist in January, because of agreements in the GPA. As a result, journalists are supposedly no longer required to apply for media accreditation to work in Zimbabwe, a regulation that for years has allowed the ZANU PF government to brutally control the media space.
Despite the Prime Minister’s statement, the Information Ministry just days after Tsvangirai’s speech ordered both foreign and local journalists to apply for accreditation through the MIC, to cover the upcoming Comesa summit in Victoria Falls. ZANU PF Information Minister Webster Shamu defended the Ministry’s orders, saying that the MIC is still in existence as a new media commission has not yet been constituted. The direct contradiction of the Prime Minister’s statement has once again highlighted that there is very little unity and agreement in the coalition government.
The Journalists’ Union has since urged its member to boycott the orders of the Information Ministry until a legally constituted accreditation body has been put in place. ZUJ President, Matthew Takaona, told SW Radio Africa on Wednesday that the MIC is no longer a legally recognised body, and said journalists “should not support the lawless activities of individuals with an agenda.”
“We need to respect the laws of this country and we will not endorse an illegal body that has no place in a law respecting country,” Takaona said.
When asked if there was any concern that journalists would come under threat for not obeying the orders of the Information Ministry, Takaona explained that “there is no longer a law to support state sponsored harassment.” He added that media harassment in the past has always been supported by the MIC as a matter of law, and he once again emphasised that the MIC is now an illegal body.
Meanwhile foreign media houses are still waiting to be officially welcomed back to the country, despite Robert Mugabe’s spokesman George Charamba, saying that the likes of CNN were allowed to report in Zimbabwe.
Kim Norgaard, CNN’s Johannesburg Bureau Chief, told SW Radio Africa last week that such an invitation had not been extended to them.  Furthermore Sky News on Tuesday said it ‘is currently banned from reporting in Zimbabwe’.


Different Points of View
Today, Duane shows how our perspectives relating to God shape our understanding of circumstances around us. Faulty premises lead to faulty conclusions.


Diaspora Diaries Alex Bell discusses the repatriation of Zimbabwean teachers living in South Africa, now that the unity government has promised foreign currency salaries to civil servants. Alex is joined by Pastor Tobias Chatindo from the Southern African Women’s Institute for Migration Affairs (SAWIMA), who says a group of Zimbabwean teachers will be arriving back home, ready to start work this week. Alex also speaks to the President of the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) Takavafira Zhou, who says experienced teachers will be very welcome back to the country. Hear the full discussion on Diaspora Diaries.


Sheppie says the GNU can never work because there should only be one party in power; Tapiwa says that 4 years after Operation Murambatsvina those whose homes were destroyed, like his, are still suffering. It seems that as far as the new government is concerned they are the ‘forgotten casualties.’ And Shumba says crimes like armed robberies and muggings are on the rise because of all the hardships people are enduring.


Ministry orders journalists to register with ‘non existent’ commission
By Violet Gonda
26 May 2009

Last Thursday Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai told journalists Zimbabwe is seeing significant improvements in media freedoms and that the Media and Information Commission (MIC) ceased to exist in January 2009 as a result of the agreements in the GPA. He said this meant there is presently no legal obligation for foreign or local journalists, media houses or news agencies to apply for accreditation until a new Media Commission is established and a framework put in place.
But on Saturday Webster Shamu’s Ministry of Information  issued a statement through the Herald newspaper, contradicting the Prime Minister. It said journalists wishing to cover the forthcoming Comesa Summit in Victoria Falls would need to be accredited first. Foreign journalists were told to apply for accreditation with the MIC, before they could get clearance to cover the Summit. This contrasted sharply with the Prime Ministers statement that the MIC no longer existed.
Andy Moyse, the Director of the Media Monitoring Project of Zimbabwe (MMPZ), said this is yet again another indication of the friction that exists in Zimbabwe at the moment – where you get one half of government saying one thing and the other half of government insisting on a different reality.
He said the media fraternity was shocked to see the Ministry of Information statement in the newspaper on Saturday urging Comesa journalists to register with the ‘illegal MIC.’ He said: “Actually it’s hardly an illegal one, it simply doesn’t exist. The fact that (Tafataona) Mahoso is still there doesn’t make it an existing entity or a Media and Information Council.”
Moyse said the Information Ministry is obviously trying to undermine Prime Minister Tsvangirai and he said it is extraordinary that a commission, which is non-existent in law, continues to ask for fees from journalists.
Meanwhile, a showdown is now looming between the Ministry of Information and the media fraternity over the issue of accreditation. The Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ) is urging its members to ignore the order to register for the Comesa summit that starts on 28th May.
In another example showing how government continues to send mixed signals, last week George Charamba, Mugabe’s press secretary and permanent secretary in the Information Ministry, announced that foreign media organizations such as CNN and the BBC were welcome back in Zimbabwe and that overtures had been made to the media houses. But nothing has really changed. Kim Norgaard, CNN’s Johannesburg Bureau Chief, told SW Radio Africa last week that such an invitation had not been extended to them.  Furthermore Sky News on Tuesday said it ‘is currently banned from reporting in Zimbabwe’.
It would be interesting to see CNN fly in and film one of the many farm invasions, as a test of the governments assurances that the situation for journalists has changed.

Minister Matinenga acquitted but six MDC activists convicted
By Violet Gonda
26 May 2009
Buhera West Member of Parliament and Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs Minister, Eric Matinenga, who was facing charges of inciting public violence, was acquitted Tuesday by Manicaland Regional Magistrate Hlekani Mwayera.

Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) said Magistrate Mwayera ruled ‘that the State had failed to prove its case against the Buhera West legislator.’

The MP was arrested during the run up to last year’s elections. He was arrested at Buhera Police Station where he was investigating the arrest of a group of MDC activists. ZLHR said: “He had also intended to serve a court order he had obtained against the Zimbabwe Defence Forces for their immediate removal from his constituency over alleged harassment, torture and political persecution of perceived MDC supporters in the constituency in violation of the military’s constitutional mandate and functions.”
Meanwhile last Friday, a Murambinda Magistrate freed 11 MDC members who were arrested in March this year on allegations of public violence. They had been accused of burning ZANU PF properties around the time of the Prime Minister’s wife’s funeral.
The lawyers rights group said they were acquitted after all state witnesses exonerated them from the alleged crime. However six other MDC activists were sentenced to 36 months in jail.  A total of 18 months were suspended on condition that the activists pay compensation to the complainants.
ZLHR said it felt “vindicated in its belief that Matinenga’s acquittal shows that his arrest, unlawful and prolonged detention and drawn-out trial were tools of persecution rather than prosecution and illegitimate attempts to prevent a legal practitioner from carrying out his professional duties with the full protection of the state and the law.”
SA government yet to release Zim violence report
By Alex Bell
26 May 2009
The South African government is yet to release what is suspected to be a highly controversial report, compiled by a group of retired army generals on the role Zimbabwe’s security forces played in the post election violence last year.
South Africa’s official opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA), has now called for the Presidency, under the new leadership of Jacob Zuma, to release the details of the report, which was conducted a year ago.
The army generals were appointed by former President Thabo Mbeki as part of South Africa’s mediation team, sent to ‘resolve’ the political crisis in Zimbabwe. The army generals compiled the report, which was submitted to the Presidency, but the report was never released to the public despite numerous requests from civil society groups. At the time, Mbeki failed to provide any reason for the government’s refusal to release the report

“This report could go a long way in shedding the much-needed light on the
many human rights violations that characterised Zimbabwe’s elections last
year,” said DA parliamentary leader Athol Trollip this week. “The victims of the political violence in Zimbabwe will never have closure until those who were complicit in those atrocities are exposed.”

Trollip continued that the report would help people understand “the actions
that need to be taken to end any form of political intimidation or violence
in Zimbabwe.”
The Mbeki administration was harshly criticised for how it handled the Zimbabwe crisis, with Mbeki being castigated on many occasions for his policy of ‘quiet diplomacy’. The new administration under Zuma is now hoped to take a different approach to the crisis across the border, but the DA has said such differences are yet to be seen.
Zim most food aid dependent country in the world
By Alex Bell
26 May 2009
Zimbabwe has this week been rated as the most food-aid dependent country in the world, a title that comes as the unity government continues to refuse to act on the ongoing land invasions.
According to a report released by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies this week, up to 80 percent of the population relies on food-aid to survive. The report also revealed that more than half of the children who died as a result of the cholera epidemic, were critically malnourished. The details in the report are a shocking indication of the severity of the ongoing crisis in Zimbabwe, which used to be regarded as the ‘breadbasket of Africa’.
The Global Political Agreement (GPA) that set out the guidelines for the formation of the unity government, called for the production of food to be encouraged to counter the desperate food crisis in the country. But, in complete violation of this point in the GPA, farm invasions have intensified and even been encouraged by Mugabe, to the point that food production is mostly nonexistent. The ongoing and increasingly violent land attacks are therefore the leading cause of the country’s suffering and lack of investment, and yet the unity government seems unable to take any action to stop the attacks.
During an interview about the 100-day milestone of the Global Political Agreement last week, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai even played down the serious nature of the invasions, calling them ‘isolated incidents’ that have been ‘blown out of proportion’.
“We have investigated examples of those so called farm invasions,” the Prime Minister continued, repeatedly referring to the land invasions as ‘so-called’ attacks. “We have asked the minister of lands (ZANU PF) to give us a detailed report of what has been happening over all these so called farm invasions and the outcry over that.”
Tsvangirai also insisted that the matter was being attended to, despite the clear lack of action by the government that has already sparked anger in the beleaguered farming community. Justice for Agriculture’s (JAG) John Worsley-Worswick explained on Tuesday that the Prime Minister’s comments are a gross “misrepresentation of the facts,” that will ultimately jeopardise the future of the country. He further explained that “papering over the cracks,” by playing down the severity of the land attacks, will not solve the bigger problem, saying: “We have a massive humanitarian crisis on our hands that will not be solved until the MDC challenges the Mugabe administration on issues such as the land attacks.” The JAG official expressed frustration and disappointment over the MDC’s unwillingness to confront ZANU PF, explaining the party is becoming complicit with ongoing crime.
“Farmers are now being exposed as a soft target because no one will take action to stop these attacks happening,” Worsley-Worswick explained. “The continued infringement of property rights is a crime that no one is doing anything about.”
Many farmers have been forced into hiding as a result of the latest attacks, while more than 100 are already facing prosecution on trumped up land-related charges. The physical land attacks have also become increasingly violent in recent weeks, and in most cases, farm workers have been the victims of beatings and harassment at the hands of land invaders. Thousands more workers have lost their jobs because of the forced takeover of land by ZANU PF loyalists, adding to the 94% unemployment already crippling the country.
Mugabe says Gono will stay on as RBZ governor
By Lance Guma
26 May 2009
Robert Mugabe on Monday told state television that Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono will retain his job, despite pressure for him to go. The 85-year old ZANU PF leader blamed critics in Britain and elsewhere for being the source of the pressure.
But the MDC, who entered into a coalition government with ZANU PF 3 months ago, said Mugabe’s statement simply confirmed there was a political deadlock over Gono and the Attorney-General, Johannes Tomana. A statement from the party issued Tuesday said Gono and Tomana’s appointments are a ‘political hygiene issue which stems from their unprocedural and unilateral appointments,’ in violation of the unity deal signed by the parties.
Economic analysts blame Gono for fuelling hyper-inflation through the careless printing of money and other quasi-fiscal activities outside the jurisdiction of the bank. Under his reign the central bank bought flat screen televisions and vehicles for the country’s judges, senior army chefs and other key ZANU PF figures. In adverts placed in the state owned newspapers last month Gono also admitted to raiding the foreign currency accounts of NGO’s and private companies, without their permission. He claimed he wanted to keep government ministries afloat.
The MDC believes Gono’s tainted reign has created skepticism amongst international donors who fear the central bank governor might dip his fingers in the trough once again. Only last year the Global Aids Fund threatened to cut funding meant for fighting AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria if US$7,3 million stolen by Gono was not returned. The money was eventually paid back. The MDC say issues like this have eroded the integrity of the bank and also hamper the new government’s efforts to secure funding.
An example of this problem was the announcement by Norway on Monday that it would donate US$9 million to Zimbabwe, but only via third parties to bypass Mugabe’s people. The money will be donated through the United Nations, NGO’s and the World Bank for the ‘Zimbabwean people and to support the Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and the new coalition government,’ the Norwegian ministry for development aid said in a statement.
Meanwhile, according to the AFP news agency,  Mugabe staunchly defended Gono’s reign during the burial of the governor’s brother. ‘He is not a thief, he has done no wrong. Prove the wrong he has done,’ Mugabe said. The MDC responded by saying ‘in the absence of a forensic audit of the RBZ, Mugabe cannot be allowed to say that the RBZ never misappropriated a single dime.’ The party statement also reminded Mugabe that the inclusive government is made up of 3 principal leaders and Mugabe alone cannot make decisions on such key appointments.

The MDC have called on SADC and the AU, ‘as the guarantors of the GPA, to adjudicate over this issue as a matter of urgency because it shakes the foundation and threatens the health, stability and life of the inclusive government.’

100 000 Telecel sim cards bring relief to mobile phone users
By Lance Guma
26 May 2009
The price of mobile phone sim cards came down this week after the Telecel network reportedly released over 100 000 new sim cards onto the market. The company, now under the Orascom Telecom group, says it is able to offer additional connections after carrying out a network capacity upgrade six weeks ago.
Telecel public relations officer, Monica Malunda, said the new connections will increase their subscriber base to just over 350 000. The company says it began the first phase of its upgrade in Harare and Bulawayo and the second phase will involve expansion to provide travellers with signal coverage on main roads. Coverage will also be expanded to rural areas and they plan to release more lines into the market after this second phase is completed.
Two weeks ago thousands of people queued up to buy sim cards from the biggest mobile phone operator, Econet Wireless, who released about 50 000 additional lines. Prior to this sim cards were being sold for over US$100 on the black market, but the price has since gone down to about US$25.
Econet says it wants to increase its subscriber base from 900 000 to 1,2 million. They are planning a further increase of 500 000 subscribers, saying they secured a US$95 million cash injection from one of their major shareholders.
The price of sim cards in the country has always been high due to the phone companies failing to upgrade their networks. A combination of political upheavals and an economy in collapse militated against them being able to expand. Foreign currency, so crucial to any upgrade, was also in scant supply.
Last week Information, Communication and Technology Minister Nelson Chamisa told us he was not happy with the price of sim cards in the market and that these remained expensive compared to other countries.
Experts say only proper competition will ensure a reduction in prices and tariffs. Several South African mobile phone networks are said to be already eyeing the Zimbabwean market and we are told this is why Econet, Telecel and Net One are trying to increase their subscriber bases rapidly.
Pages (1010): « First ... « 756 757 758 [759] 760 761 762 » ... Last »