Mayor and lawyer detained over MP’s rape case
By Violet Gonda
25 May 2009
Kwekwe’s MDC Mayor Shadreck Tobaiwa and Tapera Sengweni, the lawyer representing Kwekwe MP Blessing Chebundo were arrested on charges of obstruction of justice on Friday in a case involving the MDC legislator. Chebundo was detained last Tuesday and charged with raping a 13 year old girl at the beginning of the year. He was remanded in custody to June 4th. The minor, who is also from Kwekwe, is now said to be pregnant.
It is reported that the city mayor and the lawyer were arrested after they allegedly contacted the family of the complainant to drop the rape charges and tried to negotiate an out of court settlement.
The case has attracted huge interest in the small town as the legislator was a popular figure in Kwekwe. Sources there said the MP was a friend of his accuser’s father, who is said to be a war veteran and also a member of the Tsvangirai MDC.
But it is alleged that the parliamentarian took advantage of this friendship when he gave the Form Two pupil a ride from Harare to Kwekwe after she had visited her older sister in January.
According to NewZimbabwe website, prosecutor Brian Muzemba told the court the MP knew the girl through her sister, who was once a Child Parliamentarian for Kwekwe.
It is understood the issue only came to light recently, when the 13 year old girl fell sick and discovered that she was pregnant. She then told her sister of the alleged rape.
Prosecutor Muzemba said the MP had also sent text messages to the mobile phone belonging to the girl’s father, asking him to settle the matter out of court.
It is understood the police have now seized both mobile phones with ‘dozens of sent and received messages to be used as evidence.’
Zimbabwean man wins SA’s Comrades marathon
By Alex Bell
25 May 2009
A Zimbabwean man made sporting history in South Africa over the weekend, after becoming the first national to win the world-renowned Comrades Marathon.
Stephen Muzhingi finished the gruelling 89km race on Sunday morning, to thunderous cheers supporting the first African victory in recent years. Russia has dominated both the men’s and women’s leg of the race for several years, but Sunday became Africa’s day with Muzhingi’s win. Fellow Zimbabwean runner, Collen Makaza, was also heralded for setting a blistering pace at the start of the race, a pace that the defending Russian champion paid tribute to.
Cheering spectators gave Muzhingi a standing ovation when he crossed the finish line in Durban, with many chanting “Go Africa!” Muzhingi finished the notoriously difficult race in just under five and a half hours, and soon after the finish said he was dazed and in disbelief over the win. He has now vowed to return in 2010 to break the world record.
Muzhingi, who finished third in the 2008 race and seventh in 2007, was awarded a gold medal and a R220 000 cash prize for his race victory. The Zimbabwean native, who only left the county four years ago amid the desperate economic decline and political upheaval, has pledged to invest his cash winnings in a business venture back home.
The first Comrades Marathon was held in 1921, at the urging of a World War 1 veteran, who envisaged the race as a living memorial to the spirit of the soldiers of the Great War. It has continued every year since, with the exception of 1941 – 1945, which were cancelled because of the Second World War. The 89km race alternates every year between Pietermaritzburg and Durban, and attracts thousands of spectators, runners and viewers every year. This year 13 000 people entered the race, with 600 not finishing, mainly because of dehydration.

Prime Minister plays down farm attacks
By Alex Bell
25 May 2009
Members of Zimbabwe’s farming community, which has been left reeling by the ongoing farm invasions, have reacted with outrage to comments by Prime Minister Tsvangirai about the attacks.
During an interview about the 100-day milestone of the Global Political Agreement last week, the Prime Minister played down the serious nature of the ongoing and violent farm 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.
Since Tsvangirai was sworn in as Prime Minister in February, more than 100 farmers have been hauled before the courts on trumped up charges of being on so-called State land ‘illegally’. Thousands of farm workers have lost their jobs with an estimated 80 farms being forcibly taken over by Robert Mugabe loyalists, while the physical land attacks have turned increasingly violent. Last Friday a Banket farmer was beaten by the son of a ZANU PF affiliated political official, set on stealing the farmer’s land. Just days later, the 80 year old mother of a Chinhoyi farmer was assaulted by police, when the officials came to arrest her son for being on his land. She was briefly detained and then released with serious injuries.
At the same time, the attacks on the Karori Farm in the Headlands district have intensified, with two of the farm’s workers being assaulted last week by a top Army official. The Brigadier General has harassed and victimised the farmer and his staff for several years in an effort to steal the land. In Chegutu, Mount Carmel farm has been completely taken over by violent invaders working for top ZANU PF official Nathan Shamuyarira, and the farm owners and their staff have been living in fear because of the ongoing harassment by the hired land thugs. The Chegutu farming community has been worst hit by the countrywide wave of attacks, with numerous other farmers facing violent eviction or unlawful arrest.
The Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) on Monday said Tsvangirai’s statements are a clear attempt to “gloss over the truth to encourage Western donors to loosen their purse strings.” The farm attacks, which serve as evidence that little has changed in Zimbabwe since the formation of the unity government, have seen an understandable reluctance by donor governments to invest in the country. CFU Vice President, Deon Theron said that Tsvangirai was deliberately playing down the problem because the government is desperate to secure foreign investment. He said the comments are ‘absurd’ and ‘simply not true’ explaining that farm attacks have drastically increased since Tsvangirai was sworn into the government in February.
“It is like hoodwinking the international community into giving up funds by making them believe everything is fine on the agricultural front,” said Theron.
He added:  “If agriculture does not recover, Zimbabwe will not recover.”

Tsvangirai to ignore Gono letter
By Lance Guma
25 May 2009
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has still not received an acrimonious letter, allegedly written by Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono complaining of victimization by Finance Minister Tendai Biti. But even if the letter does eventually arrive, Tsvangirai will ignore it, officials have confirmed. This is because the MDC does not recognize the appointment of Gono and Attorney General Johannes Tomana, and as such Tsvangirai feels it is not necessary for him to intervene.
Newsreel spoke to Gorden Moyo, the Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s office, and he told us that as of Monday no letter from Gono had yet been delivered to them. This is despite the fact that the letter that is currently circulating is dated 11th May. He said the Prime Minister had offices and channels of communication and anyone with grievances could use them. But he confirmed that Tsvangirai’s office would not be responding to the letter that has so far only been published on the internet. Speculation in some quarters fingers Mugabe’s press secretary George Charamba, as the author of this letter.
The 15-page letter accuses Biti of pursuing a personal vendetta against Gono, because the central bank was investigating allegations his law firm, Honey and Blanckenberg, ‘externalized’ foreign currency. Nothing in the letter implicates Biti as an individual. Exiled businessman Gilbert Muponda reminded Newsreel that ‘not too long ago Gono accused former Guruve North MP David Butau of the same charges.’ The MP eventually fled to the UK only to be acquitted of the charges when he came back home recently. Butau, just like Biti, had sought to have Gono investigated by parliament.
Unperturbed, Biti is pushing ahead with proposed amendments to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Act, in an attempt to halt its much condemned quasi-fiscal activities. He wants the functions of the bank to be clearly spelt out and ensure they do not cross over into what his ministry is meant to do. Under his proposals the RBZ will have a non-executive chairman sitting on the board, in a move that will ensure the governor does not chair. He also wants this board to have more powers in terms of supervision and ensure the governor does not become a power unto himself.
Gono’s reign has left a trail of broken careers, lives and law suits. Lee John, the Australian businessman deported last week, had apparently just won a US$1 million legal claim against the Reserve Bank. Instead of paying out the authorities simply revoked his residency permit. The Zimbabwe Standard newspaper also reports how a company registered in the British Virgin Islands has now approached Zimbabwe’s High Court, to force the RBZ to pay US$5 million for 89 buses supplied to the bank.

Huge crowds at Susan Tsvangirai memorial in Buhera
By Lance Guma
25 May 2009
Over 10 000 people thronged Morgan Tsvangirai’s rural home in Buhera to attend the memorial for his late wife, Susan Tsvangirai, who died in a tragic car crash in March this year. Several chiefs, diplomats and senior MDC officials were present during the service organized by the Methodist Church in which Amai Tsvangirai was a leading member. Tsvangirai, Deputy Prime Minister Thokozani Khupe, Finance Minister Tendai Biti, Information, Communication and Technology Minister Nelson Chamisa were some of the officials who attended.
Amai Tsvangirai died when the driver of an aid truck side-wiped the Land Cruiser vehicle carrying her and her husband to their rural home.
The accident generated much suspicion that it was an attempt on the life of the Prime Minister and his wife was the unwitting victim. With a long history of previous accidents that have claimed the life of Mugabe’s opponents, many noted how convenient the accident was for Mugabe, particularly since it involved the man who beat him in last years presidential elections.
Meanwhile the trial of the truck driver Chinowona Mwanda began in court last week with an onsite inspection of the crash scene. A report by the state owned Herald newspaper said the court went to assess the condition of the road. This lasted roughly an hour and is said to have caused a traffic jam near the scene. Police stopped motorists using the Harare-Masvingo road to enable the court to do its business the paper reported.
In earlier proceedings at the Chivhu Magistrates Court, traffic accident evaluator Joel Muchirawatu testified that Mwanda had caused the accident by over-speeding. But defence lawyers are still insisting that their client was within the 80km/hour speed limit and that a hump on the road caused him to lose control. Speculation that Mwanda has a military background has fuelled doubts for those who believe the crash was planned. Worse still the owners of the truck insist he was not one of their employees.
No electricity for Harare high density suburbs for 4 days
By Violet Gonda
25 May 2009
Harare suffered a major breakdown of power service on Friday, resulting in most high density areas having virtually no electricity for the past four days. Our correspondent Simon Muchemwa said that places such as Mbare, Glen Norah, Mufakose, Kuwadzana and Warren Park were affected by the breakdown of the power grid in Harare. Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) has only been able to supply about 30 minutes of power a day to most of these areas.
The power cuts severely affected the water pumps, which need a consistent supply of electricity, thereby also disrupting the supply of water into these areas. But of course this breakdown of service is nothing new to long suffering Zimbabweans.
Muchemwa said although it is 100 days into the coalition government, life has not been made much easier for the general public, and it’s even harder to survive in a US dollarised economy. Just three logs of firewood cost US$1, an amount of money that is inaccessible for the average person.
It’s reported that Elias Mudzuri, the MDC Minister of Energy and Power Development, visited some affected areas to explain to desperate residents that his cash strapped ministry was trying to restore the energy supply. He explained to them that massive renovations to the national grid were needed.
Ben Rafemoyo, the chief executive of the ZESA, told Reuters news agency that the country ‘needs to invest at least US$4.5 billion to boost its power supply capacity by 7,500 megawatts by 2015.’ He said the economic crisis had proved a major challenge for the utility, but hoped to raise the funds through tariffs and the support of international agencies and to attract independent power producers. It’s reported Zimbabwe produces 1,000 megawatts of electricity, while its peak demand is about 2,200 megawatts, forcing it to import over half its power needs from neighbours.
But in the towns and cities residents are becoming increasingly angry as the utility suppliers continue to charge unacceptably high tariffs, without providing an adequate service delivery.  In most cases electricity and water bills are more than the civil servants monthly ‘allowances’ of US$100.


Letter from America, Dr. Stan Mukasa says Zimbabwe must continue the struggle, despite the GPA.


May 25th is African Liberation Day, a day that was set aside 51 years ago in Ghana by the first Pan-Africa Conference held on African soil to, ‘mark each year the onward progress of the liberation movement, and to symbolise the determination of the People of Africa to free themselves from foreign domination and exploitation.’
Mhlanhlandlela and Thabani share their views on the significance of this day to us as Africans, and as Zimbabweans specifically – have we been allowed to expereience the true spirit of liberation, or  have our leaders let us down? Are we now victims of ‘African exploitataion?’


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?

Newreel 220509

Jailed MDC MP Mathias Mlambo released
By Violet Gonda
22 May 2009

The MDC MP for Chipinge East, Mathias Mlambo, was released on bail of US$200 on Friday by Chipinge magistrate Samuel Zuze. This was after defence lawyers, led by Trust Maanda and Langton Mhungu, successfully applied for bail, pending an appeal in the High Court. The MP, who was arrested on 11th May, was sentenced to 10 months in jail for allegedly defeating and obstructing a police officer during the discharge of his duties and inciting violence at a funeral of an MDC supporter in Chipinge. MDC MP and spokesperson for Manicaland province, Pishai Muchauraya said Mlambo denies these charges, adding that it’s ‘mere political harassment by some authorities within ZANU PF.

The release on bail of the Chipinge East MDC MP comes after the MDC announced that it is calling on the regional bodies to come in and help unlock the stalemate on the outstanding issues in the unity government. Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said there is a deadlock on the appointments of Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono and Attorney General Johannes Tomana and he said he remains ‘concerned about the continued violations of the rule of law.’ Journalists, lawyers and MDC legislators continue to be arrested and illegal land invasions and violence on the farms is continuing.

On Sunday Minister of Finance Tendai Biti also told supporters at an MDC rally in Masvingo on Sunday: “We are unhappy with the selective application of justice and Zanu PF is showing its insincerity to the implementation of the agreement.” He said this was shown by the recent jailing of MP Mlambo.

Meanwhile judgment on the case of another MDC MP in Chipinge is expected to be handed down on 27th May. Pishai Muchauraya said Chipinge South MP, Meki Makuyana, is being accused of engaging in public violence and abducting ZANU PF supporters – again charges that are completely denied. Muchauraya said like the Mlambo case, it is once again driven by political victimisation.


Workers assaulted as Headlands farm faces intensified attacks
By Alex Bell
22 May 2009

As the unity government’s silence on the countrywide wave of farm invasions prevails, the attacks on a Karori Farm in the Headlands district have intensified, with two of the farm’s workers being assaulted this week.

Farmer Charles Lock was earlier this year forced into hiding when the renewed offensive against the country’s remaining commercial farmers started gathering momentum. More than 100 farmers have since been hauled before the courts on trumped up charges of being on so-called State land ‘illegally’, while the physical land attacks have turned increasingly violent. Last Friday a Banket farmer was beaten by the son of a ZANU PF affiliated political official, set on stealing the farmer’s land. Just days later, the 80 year old mother of a Chinhoyi farmer was assaulted by police, when the officials came to arrest her son for being on his land. She was briefly detained and then released with serious injuries.

But despite the violence, harassment and intimidation, Zimbabwe’s commercial farming community have been trying, mostly in vain, to carry on their farming activities. Lock, whose Karori Farm is one of the most productive farms in the area, has been preparing his land for planting, work that is now only benefiting the man set on stealing the farm. Brigadier General Justin Mujaji, who has led repeated invasions over several years on Karori Farm, earlier this week shut down the whole farm. This was in an effort to plant his own wheat seed in Lock’s cultivated tobacco lands, using Lock’s manpower, equipment and fuel. Lock and his workers were then threatened with violence for refusing to do the work.

Mujaji then ‘borrowed’ tractors and sowed his seed on the farm, which had just been prepared for Lock’s tobacco planting. Later this week, the army soldiers that are working as Mujaji’s henchmen, demanded that Lock and his workers hand over the farm’s irrigation pipes to water the new seeds. They once again refused, leading to Mujaji breaking open the farm gates and forcibly taking all the pipes. When he could not find the irrigation sprinklers he attacked and assaulted two of the farm’s foremen, beating them over the head. The farm has since been shut down again, with Mujaji still threatening violence if Lock and his staff don’t obey his orders.

Lock explained that he has reported the matter on a daily and hourly basis to the police. But this week the police refused to even visit the besieged farm, claiming there is no fuel or transport to get there, and that they do not have the authority to deal with Mujaji. At the same time, Lock has personally spoken to Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, both the Home Affairs Ministers and even the Lands Minister, who said the matter needs to be dealt with by police because the attacks are a criminal issue, and not related to land-reform.

Lock further explained that the invasion on his farm is not a land-reform issue, as he has been acquitted of all previous charges of being on the land unlawfully. He was allocated the farm through the land reform programme, after he voluntarily gave up 90% of his original land, including his own farm, to the land programme.

Lock said there is a clear reluctance by higher powers to deal with the issue, because of the involvement of the army in the attacks on his land. “There is not much they can do when the organs of the State are used to brutalise innocent people and plunder productive farms,” Lock said. He expressed anger at the police who, despite a contempt order, warrant of arrest and two High Court Orders against Mujaji, have refused to take action.

Lock also paid tribute to his farm staff who have stood by him through repeated and often violent attacks. “We have all taken a stand against this, including my workers whom I greatly admire as they have been through this with me many times,” Lock said.

Zimbabwe’s farm workers have in most cases borne the brunt of the attacks, facing severe beatings and arrest for standing against the invasions. Hundreds of farm staff have lost their jobs because of the renewed invasions, adding to the country’s already desperate level of unemployment of more than 90%.


Succession debate raises tempers in ZANU PF politburo meeting
By Tichaona Sibanda
22 May 2009

The succession debate in ZANU PF turned ugly on Wednesday, when members of the decision making body of the party, the politburo, demanded that the issue of who will take over from Robert Mugabe be dealt with once and for all.

The Zimbabwe Independent reported on Friday that tempers flared at the meeting after the simmering succession crisis exploded into a charged debate.

The weekly paper, quoting unnamed sources, said the unprecedented debate on Mugabe’s succession – which was postponed to Thursday next week after officials failed to agree on the way forward – left senior party leaders shocked and concerned that this was the beginning of the end of the ruling party.

There are many reports that confirm that Mugabe is determined to hang onto power at all costs, by retaining the party leadership for another five years at their congress in December. There are real fears this could leave the party facing a split along its factional and ethnic fault lines, if Mugabe was to be retained as leader.

‘Sources said this week’s heated politburo succession debate pitted party heavyweights, including Mugabe, Joice Mujuru, Solomon Mujuru, Emmerson Mnangagwa, Didymus Mutasa, Oppah Muchinguri, Rugare Gumbo, Thokozile Mathuthu, and Saviour Kasukuwere, against each other,’ the paper said.

The paper added; ‘The sources said although the meeting was convened to discuss the sensitive state of the party issue, it degenerated into a succession wrangle after Mathuthu had said that the problem affecting the party, which is riddled with factionalism, infighting and divisions, was that there were
some senior officials trying to grab power from Mugabe.’

Political analyst Isaac Dziya said the succession battle in ZANU PF played a big part in the party losing its majority in parliament to the MDC last year. He cited examples in the three Mashonaland provinces where ZANU PF MPs won their parliamentary seats by big margins against MDC candidates, while Mugabe lost to Tsvangirai in the presidential race, in the same constituencies.

‘You’ve got ZANU MPs who won comfortably in their constituencies and yet in the same areas, Mugabe lost to Tsvangirai in the presidential vote. This was a show of defiance by ZANU PF supporters because they are not happy with Mugabe for overstaying,’ Dziya said.

He said Mugabe may opt to stand again as leader of the party, but he will not win at the poll, unless he rigs it again. Dziya said signs are there for all to see that the balance of power in Zimbabwe has firmly tilted in Tsvangirai’s favour.

‘Cracks are widening within the party because of the old guard’s insistence to hang on to power. This group believes it has exclusive rights to represent ZANU PF in any election. But they should be careful in the next election because Zimbabweans are clamouring for fresh ideas and new faces,’ Dziya added.


Tsvangirai says he never received Gono letter
By Lance Guma
22 May 2009

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai did not receive a letter said to have been written to him by Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono, in which he complains about alleged victimization by Finance Minister Tendai Biti. The 15-page letter, dated 11 May 2009, accuses Biti, among other things, of pursuing a personal vendetta against Gono because the central bank was investigating allegations that Biti’s law firm Honey and Blanckenberg ‘externalized’ foreign currency. Nothing in the letter implicates Biti as an individual.
But doubts are already emerging as to whether Gono himself wrote the letter. Some quarters feel this was a pet project of the Central Intelligence Organization, to try and smear Biti ahead of the dispute over Gono and Attorney General Johannes Tomana’s appointments going to SADC and the African Union for arbitration. The letter was addressed not only to Tsvangirai, but copied to former South African President Thabo Mbeki and the SADC leaders.
The letter was also leaked to the media, before it even reached the Prime Minister, and up to now has still not reached his office. During Tsvangirai’s press briefing on Thursday he made it clear ‘if the letter was written to me, it’s not true as I did not receive it.’ A copy of the letter seen by Newsreel and addressed to the Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee (JOMIC) of the power sharing deal, had so many spelling mistakes it is inconceivable the central bank governor could have penned such a poorly written letter. Although it is claimed the letter addressed to Tsvangirai had the mistakes edited out, it’s not clear whether this was now the work of newspaper and website editors trying to make it readable for their audience.
One of the websites that published Gono’s letter is the Zimbabwe Times. Its editor Geoff Nyarota expressed frustration with his own Harare based journalist for refusing to disclose the source who gave him the letter. Nyarota believes the correspondent’s attitude is not ethical as ‘reporters do not protect their sources from their editors.’ He further stated ‘that is not what protection of sources means. The editor, not the reporter, of any publication carries final responsibility for any article published. He relies on the reporter to furnish him with all details including, the sources, if necessary of all the stories he causes the editor to publish.’
The MDC on Friday released a statement saying: ‘Gono did not have the nerve to openly approach the Prime Minister or the Finance Minister and instead ran to the press in order to create media hype with a purported letter he claimed to have written to the Prime Minister.’ Biti has also denied seeing the letter stressing, ‘I must put food on the table of Zimbabweans and I will not be diverted from doing my job by those who think I am fighting a personal war.’ The MDC statement ends by saying they view, ‘Gono’s purported letter as another attempt by the discredited man to use the media to cling to his disputed job at the RBZ by any means possible.’

HEALTHbeat 230509

Prostate cancer is one of the biggest killers of men over the age of fifty worldwide, and yet very few men are open to discussing the subject. In Zimbabwe it’s estimated that about 750 men will be diagnosed with the disease this year, and approx 600 will die. Dr Patrick Musami joins us to talk about this silent disease? Who is vulnerable, what signs and symptoms should men look out for, and what treatment options are available? For more information in English, Shona and Ndebele on prostate cancer, go to There is also a report from Panos on TB.

Callback 230509

Pepukayi says that people are disappointed by PM Tsvangirai’s continued defence of Mugabe and the GNU when nothing has changed for Zimbabweans; Kodza gives his assessment of the GNU, which he describes as ‘lacking in sincerity,’ especially since ZANU PF refuses to budge on the issues of the RBZ governor and the AG, and Thulani says the only change that has taken place is the relationship between MDC and ZANU PF, everything else on the ground, such as the economic decline, remains the same.

Through the Valley 230509

Rebuilding Zimbabwe 230509

The Global Political Agreement signed by all 3 parties to the unity government calls for reforms in the media. But 3 months after ZANU PF and the MDC formations formed the new government Mugabe still enjoys all the spotlight in the state media, while a blackout remains on Morgan Tsvangirai. Our Harare correspondent Simon Muchemwa said the latest violation of the GPA was the failure by all state controlled media to cover the Prime Minister’s press conference, where he was updating the nation on the current talks involving the 3 principals.

Letter from Zimbabwe 220509

Cathy Buckle writes “Dear Family and Friends, We were disappointed but not surprised when Prime Minister Tsvangirai’s planned address to Parliament on the 13th May was cancelled. By then the deadline given by the MDC to resolve outstanding issues in the very unequal power sharing had passed but, surprise, surprise, nothing happened.

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