Lawyer Alex Muchadehama arrested
By Violet Gonda
14 May 2009
Alex Muchadehama, the lawyer representing the political detainees, was arrested Thursday, accused of obstructing the course of justice.
SW Radio Africa managed to speak to the detained lawyer on the phone before he was locked up, and he said he was being accused of â€˜conniving with a judgeâ€™s clerkâ€™ to get some bail orders filed which eventually led to the release of three of his clients on 17 April. â€œThey say I did this after the State had obtained leave to appeal to the Supreme Court,â€ Muchadehama said.
But the lawyer said he committed no crime and simply interpreted the law to the best of his ability. According to him the Attorney Generalâ€™s office appealed against the granting of bail after the seven day period, allowed by law, had elapsed. Muchadehama believes the seven set days included weekends and public holidays.
At the time one of his clients, journalist Shadreck Manyere, was being held in Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison and MDC officials Gandhi Mudzingwa and Chris Dhlamini were under hospital detention at the Avenues Clinic. The three were re-arrested last month, a few days after their release on bail. They were however granted bail again on Wednesday.
Muchadehamaâ€™s co-accused is Constance Gambara, a clerk to High Court judge Justice Chinembiri Bhunu. She was arrested last week and is still being held in remand prison with her nine month old baby. She was charged with â€˜criminal abuse of duty as a public officerâ€™. The accusation is that she assisted Muchadehama in facilitating â€œthe improper releaseâ€ of the three activists, after bail was granted for the first time.
Gambara had been granted bail last Friday, but the Attorney Generalâ€™s office invoked section 121 of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act, to appeal against this. She remains in detention waiting for the State to appeal within the time limit of seven days. Lawyers said the clerk has her child in prison with her, because she doesnâ€™t have anyone to leave her baby with.
Muchadehama is a prominent human rights lawyer who has been representing several political and human rights activists who have all been charged with plotting to overthrow the Mugabe regime.
He was arrested at the Rotten Row Magistrates Courts at 10am on Thursday, where he was to attend to four other court cases. His lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa immediately filed an urgent High Court application against the charge.
Meanwhile the MDC has demanded the immediate release of the lawyer saying: â€œThe arrest has nothing to do with the rule of law, but represents the doomed persistence of those fighting the advent of change which is now upon us. It represents yet another attempt to intimidate the legal fraternity from defending human rights, which continue to be under threat despite promises of hope since the formation of the inclusive government in February.â€
The latest arrest of a human rights defender comes amid comments by co- Home Affairs Minister Giles Mutsekwa that he was “deeply disgusted about the arrest” of two journalists from the Zimbabwe Independent this week. The MDC Minister said the arrest constituted a serious and contemptuous breach of Article 19 of the power-sharing agreement, which commits the political parties to freedom of the press.
Mutsekwa is reported to have also revealed in parliament that the controversial Attorney General, Johannes Tomana, ordered the arrest of the journalists without the knowledge of the Ministry of Home Affairs or Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri. Questions are now being asked why the police would follow instructions from the AG and not the ministry responsible for the police.
John Nkomoâ€™s bodyguard faces attempted murder charge
By Lance Guma
14 may 2009
A retired army colonel who works for ZANU PF national chairman John Nkomo, is being charged with attempted murder after he shot and injured the brother of a black farmer his boss is trying to evict. Eddie Sigoge was due to appear before a magistrate in Bulawayo on Thursday charged with illegal possession of a firearm and attempted murder, according to the New Zimbabwe.com website. Nkomo is locked in a five year land dispute with Langton Masunda over the Jijima Lodge in the Gwayi Conservancy area.
Allegations are that Sigoge, who works as Nkomoâ€™s chief security officer, tried to kill Masunda but missed and instead shot his brother Patrick five times in an ambush at the lodge last Saturday. He was shot in the buttocks when he stepped out of a car and fell to the ground, according to the news website. A further 4 shots were fired at him while he lay on the ground. The victim was admitted to Bulawayoâ€™s Mater Dei hospital. The suspicion is that Nkomo might have tried to assassinate the farmer he is locked in dispute with.
The matter has been equally messy in the courts. Itâ€™s reported the High Court, in a default judgment, recently gave Nkomo the right to occupy part of the farm where the lodges are situated, while Masunda was allocated the area containg the farm house. Despite the serious nature of the allegations against Sigoge who shot Masunda, police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena is quoted as saying the brothers might have â€˜provoked the situationâ€™. The brothers meanwhile insist the attack happened on their side of the farm and they have information Nkomo hired 14 ex-combatants to kill Langton Masunda.
The matter however has highlighted the chaos that has marred the land reform exercise. The farm taken over by Masunda was originally grabbed from its former white owner, only for Nkomo, a senior government official, to now come and seek to grab it away. Nkomo has been battling to take the farm despite losing several court challenges over the years. He claims the farm is within his Lugo Ranch which he allocated to himself in 2003 when he was Lands Minister.
MDC powerless to deal with ZANU PF hardliners
By Tichaona Sibanda
14 May 2009
The MDC is fully aware that some of the top civil servants and cabinet ministers from ZANU PF are working against the inclusive government, but are powerless to deal with them.
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai on Wednesday said that hard-liners left over from the old regime were endangering the country’s future. The MDC leader blamed what he termed â€˜residual elements from the old governmentâ€™ for violating the rule of law and the agreement that created the inclusive government.
The service chiefs have lived up to their public vow, made just before last yearâ€™s harmonized elections that they were not going to salute Tsvangirai. One of the other chief culprits working against the unity government is the attorney-general, Johannes Tomana.
The powerful service chiefs, who include Defence Forces Commander General Constantine Chiwenga, Army Commander Lieutenant General Phillip Sibanda, Prisons Commissioner Paradzai Zimondi, Police Commissioner General Augustine Chihuri, and Air Marshall Perence Shiri, are seen as a major stumbling block towards full implementation of the terms set by the unity agreement.
Solomon Chikohwero, the militant chairman of the MDC Veterans Activists Association, told us on Thursday that in many discussions between the MDC leadership the names of Mariyawanda Nzuwa, Misheck Sibanda, George Charamba and Gideon Gono always crop up, as being part of the group leading the resistance. This group is also heavily protected by Robert Mugabe.
Nzuwa is the chairman of the Public Service Commission and reports directly to Mugabe. Sibanda is Mugabeâ€™s chief secretary, while Charamba is his spokesman. Gono is the governor of the central bank and his former personal banker. All have direct access to Mugabe at short notice.
â€˜Tsvangirai cannot come out in the open and disclose their names because he is constrained from doing because of his job as Prime Minister. Things are still delicate, so he will not want to rock the boat so soon after the formation of the inclusive government,â€™ Chikohwero said.
â€˜But as MDC activists we will do so on his behalf and say these are the people who are giving him nightmares in the government. All those people get their power from the service chiefs to act with impunity. They know they have the backing of the military, because if they were soldiers they would also not be saluting Tsvangirai,â€™ Chikohwero said.
â€˜They are die hard Mugabe loyalists who are more powerful than ministers and their deputies, except a few like (Emmerson) Mnangagwa and (Patrick) Chinamasa. Nzuwa is an institution in the civil service because of his power to recommend the hiring and firing of all civil servants, from permanent secretaries coming down,â€™ he added.
A source in Harare told us this is the same group that drew up the list of permanent secretaries, appointed by Mugabe in February. The group is reportedly resisting the sharing of ambassadors, claiming that their appointments were not political but were done on a professional basis through the Public Service Commission.
Prime Minister Tsvangirai, and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara, however rejected the unilateral appointment of ministerial Permanent Secretaries by Mugabe. The two said the appointments were ‘in contravention of both the Global Political Agreement and the Constitution of Zimbabwe, which is very clear with regard to senior government appointments.’
Under the GPA only the leadership of the President, his two deputies and the Prime Minister with his two deputies, will consult and agree on such appointments. Tsvangirai said Mugabe’s announcement therefore had no force in law as they were done by Sibanda. A new list of permanent secretaries, comprising names from the MDC, is expected to be announced soon.
The principals are expected to issue a statement in Harare on Friday on the progress of their talks to conclude remaining issues surrounding the GPA.
Although Zimbabweans remain hopeful that finally the principals have reached agreement on these issues, real concern remains that Mugabe has no intention of letting go of the reins of power. It is unlikely that tomorrows announcement will finally put to rest all contentious issues.
Private sector set for massive boost as billion dollar credit lines secured
By Alex Bell
14 May 2009
The countryâ€™s private sector, which will play a critical role in rebuilding Zimbabwe, is set for a massive boost, with more than US$1 billion in credit lines being secured.
The cash strapped Finance Ministry has been fighting to secure cash investment in the country, to meet the estimated US$10 billion needed to put Zimbabwe on the right track to recovery in the next few years. But international donor governments, waiting to see real change on the ground in Zimbabwe, have understandably held back on direct cash investment. The ongoing violations of the Global Political Agreement that formed the unity government between the MDC and ZANU PF have done little to restore faith in the country. Leading rights groups have even warned against direct investment that could further prop up the murderous regime of Robert Mugabe.
Even fellow African nations, who pledged to support Zimbabweâ€™s economic recovery, have only offered credit line facilities instead of cash for the unity government. Economic Planning Minister Elton Mangoma, who is also chairing the economic cluster of the 100-day action plan launched by the government this week, announced Wednesday that over US$1 billion in credit lines have been secured. The pledges have come from African financial institutions such as the African Development Bank, the African Export-Import Bank, while neighbouring South Africa and Botswana together have chipped in with US$150 million in credit lines.
Economist John Robertson explained on Thursday that the boost for the private sector is necessary, as their potential exports will bring Zimbabwe back to a competitive economic level. When asked about potential debt fears, Robertson explained that the investment in the private sector was different to direct spending by the government; direct spending that has left the government in enormous debt. He said private sector production is a critical step on the countryâ€™s road to recovery, but warned that the credit line pledges will not mean overnight success for the industries.
Robertson explained that many private industries, such as agriculture and dairy, are still being directly affected by the ongoing political tensions in the government. He said the restoration of productive farming in particular would be held back, no matter what credit lines were available, because of the ongoing land invasions in the name of land reform.
Meanwhile, a delegation from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), will visit Zimbabwe next week, two weeks after announcing it was resuming technical assistance for targeted areas in the crisis-ravaged country. The Washington based IMF said in a statement it would help Zimbabwe with tax policy and administration, payments systems, banking supervision and central banking governance. Technical assistance from the Fund was suspended as a remedial measure because of the countryâ€™s multi million-dollar debt, and the move to lift the ban is being lauded as a key step toward ending Zimbabweâ€™s isolation from the international community. The IMF decision is also being hailed as a positive step towards encouraging investment in the country.