Newsreel 140509

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 ‘conniving with a judge’s clerk’ to get some bail orders filed which eventually led to the release of three of his clients on 17 April. “They say I did this after the State had obtained leave to appeal to the Supreme Court,” 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 General’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.

Muchadehama’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 ‘criminal abuse of duty as a public officer’. The accusation is that she assisted Muchadehama in facilitating “the improper release” of the three activists, after bail was granted for the first time.

Gambara had been granted bail last Friday, but the Attorney General’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 doesn’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: “The 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.”

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 Nkomo’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 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 Nkomo’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 Bulawayo’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. It’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 ‘provoked the situation’. 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 ‘residual elements from the old government’ 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 year’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 Mugabe’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.

‘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,’ Chikohwero said.

‘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,’ Chikohwero said.

‘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,’ 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 country’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 Zimbabwe’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 country’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 country’s multi million-dollar debt, and the move to lift the ban is being lauded as a key step toward ending Zimbabwe’s isolation from the international community. The IMF decision is also being hailed as a positive step towards encouraging investment in the country.

Heart of the Matter 140509

Tanonoka gives some advice to the MDC, who he says ‘have always been extending a patient and understanding hand which Mugabe and ZANU-PF continue to spurn.’ He says that if they continue to ‘reach out to Mugabe without getting something in return, they will be perceived as weaklings who have now started to sacrifice their principles and people’s expectations at the alter of expediency and individual gain.’

Callback 140509

Dawu says teachers want to be able to do their jobs but they need to be paid a fair wage, as even the Green Bombers are receiving more money; Aaron says that Mugabe was greeted very warmly by the South Africans and President Zuma at the inauguration, and he talks about what the new SA President might have in mind for Zimbabwe. Then, Nevada says it is sad that ZANU PF is continuing to invade farms even after signing the GPA, and he believes the MDC is being used by ZANU PF.

Behind the Headlines 140509

After a boycott of the government sponsored media conference in Kariba last week by the Media Alliance of Zimbabwe, Lance Guma speaks to Jameson Timba, the Deputy Minister of Information Media and Publicity. The programme finds out if the conference produced any results? Timba is also questioned on why the MDC, which has a majority in Parliament, is not simply striking down repressive laws like AIPPA and POSA using that majority?

Letter from Zimbabwe 150509

Dear Family and Friends, Winter is moving into Zimbabwe and even though the days are shorter, the wind cooler and the temperatures dropping, it is a beautiful time of year. The grass is tall and gold, the cassia and mimosa trees are covered in yellow flowers…

Hidden Story 130509

Former youth assembly chairman of the MDC- M, Gift Nyandoro, has warned that the party faces political extinction if the issue of suspended MPs is not handled expertly. At the heart of this political vortex lie fundamental issues, such as the fact that losing parliamentary candidates were appointed to cabinet posts, while elected MP’s were left out of cabinet.

Wednesday Forum 130509

This week, in place of Democracy 101 we are beginning a weekly report from the popular London Monday Forum meeting, where speakers from politics, civic society, business, academia, and others with an interest in Zimbabwe are invited to share ideas, plan actions and lobby.
This week the Forum focuses on the critical state of the healthcare system, which has been brought to its knees by the prolonged political and economic crises. Government hospitals lack both health workers and medical equipment, at a time when HIV and cholera are wreaking havoc. What has been happening to the health sector since the birth of the GNU, and how can the Diaspora assist in its recovery? These questions and more are addressed by Dr Patrick Musami, a former student activist at the University of Zimbabwe.

Healthbeat 160509

Newreel 130509

Zimbabwe abductees finally granted bail
By Violet Gonda
12 May 2009

Abductees Gandhi Mudzingwa, Chris Dhlamini and Shadreck Manyere, were finally granted bail of US$1000 bail each by a High Court Judge on Wednesday, a month after they were released on bail but re-arrested. Justice Mtshiya said the bail was only payable, if bail granted on 9th April had not been retained by the State. They three had been in police custody for five months, prior to their first release, on 17th April.

Unusually the Attorney General’s office did not invoke the notorious Section 121 of the Criminal Procedures and Evidence Act to oppose bail, which the defence have always said has been ‘a tool of abuse’ by the State.
Defence lawyer Charles Kwaramba told SW Radio Africa that it was a good and progressive judgment, because in granting bail Justice Mtshiya posed a series of questions to the State prosecutor and said there was no direct evidence, only circumstantial evidence.
A statement by the media group, MISA-Zimbabwe, said: “He (the judge) also drew attention to the fact that from the submissions tendered before the court there was an acknowledgement that the accused persons did not even know each other before their encounter in court and yet the arguments tendered by the State was suggestive of the fact that they were acting in common purpose, which was highly improbable if there was no prior acquaintance. The judge also made reference to the behaviour of the accused during previous bail and stated that it militated against the State’s contention that the accused could skip bail.”
The three are part of a group of people abducted last year, who are facing charges of plotting to overthrow the ZANU PF regime. They were all formally charged last Monday.
Their lawyers say while it’s good news that their clients have been released on bail, they now face long trials – that is if the trials ever start. Kwaramba said MDC officials like Ian Makone, Luke Tamborinyoka and others, were at one time brutally assaulted in police custody and accused of petrol bombing police stations, but their trials never started.
But he said, so far these trials – which will be divided into three separate groups – will start in early June. He suspects the trials will take a very long time as there are so many accused persons involved.


Tsvangirai launches government’s new 100 day plan
By Lance Guma
13 May 2009

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai on Wednesday launched the government’s new 100 day plan at the Rainbow Towers hotel in Harare. Tsvangirai said unless all parties to the coalition government were fully committed to implementing the power sharing agreement then the planned recovery programme would falter. Of concern to the Prime Minister is that continued violations of the unity deal are putting off international donors and blocking the flow of development aid.

This week marked the completion of the first 100 days of the coalition government which have been dominated by violations to the agreement by Mugabe. Tsvangirai insists this first phase was mainly focused on ‘formulation and consolidation’. The second phase launched Wednesday would be about ‘implementation’ he said. He also announced the setting up of several sub committees, led by different ministers, dealing with security, rights, infrastructure and social and economic issues. The office of the Prime Minister would hold provincial launches of the 100 day plan in the next two weeks, to reach out to members of the public.

For all the ambitions laid out by the Prime Minister, donor support remains the crucial ingredient for now. Finance Minister Tendai Biti this week admitted government revenue was US$20 million a month when total government services required up to US$100 million a month. Salaries for civil servants alone amount to US$30 million per month. ‘Without this budgetary support the situation is very fragile,’ Biti said. But those with the money to help insist more comprehensive reforms are needed, including a return to the rule of law. This means a stop to the ongoing farm disruptions and the harassment of all perceived ZANU PF opponents.


Foreign press team harassed as media reforms remain elusive
By Alex Bell
13 May 2009

As critically needed media reforms remain elusive, a group of foreign journalists last week became the latest media victims of harassment in change-hungry Zimbabwe.

The four Spanish journalists, who were visiting Chegutu’s Mount Carmel farm to document the ongoing illegal land invasion there, were terrorised, along with the farm’s owners, by a group of thugs working for ZANU PF top official Nathan Shamuyarira. Farm owner Ben Freeth explained that the invaders surrounded his home last Friday, violently expressing anger that journalists were on the land. Freeth said the four press members were left visibly shaken by the incident, likening the experience to reporting in war-torn areas such as Afghanistan and Iraq.

“The group of invaders surrounded my home and were pointing their guns through the windows and shouting and making threats,” Freeth said. “The journalists were obviously very worried about the situation.”

The press team were only allowed to leave the property after Spanish diplomats, contacted by the panicking journalists, protested to the foreign ministry, which then intervened. Ironically, Chegutu police, who have supported the invasion and ignored court orders to have the invaders arrested, were called in to rescue the four journalists, and even directly contacted the head invader to cease the attack.

The incident came as a national media conference was underway in Kariba, meant to delve into the issue of media reform in Zimbabwe. The event, which featured notorious media oppressors as keynote speakers, was hailed as a success by the country’s state media. This was despite major independent media groups boycotting the conference because of the continued detention of photojournalist Shadreck Manyere.

Zimbabwe’s unity government is meant to implement drastic media reforms as part of the SADC brokered Global Political Agreement, which has been repeatedly violated. But free speech is still being harshly punished, with journalists being arrested and foreign media being harassed. On Monday two journalists from the Zimbabwe Independent were arrested for publishing a story containing the names of police officers and state agents allegedly implicated in the abductions of civic leader Jestina Mukoko, Manyere and others. At the same time, two other journalists, the editor of the government-controlled The Sunday News, Brezhnev Malaba, and journalist Nduduzo Tshuma, are also expected to appear in court soon to face criminal defamation charges, after naming senior police officers allegedly involved in a grain distribution scandal in a report published in 2008.
Meanwhile, the ongoing intimidation on Mount Carmel farm has continued, despite numerous court orders meant to protect the land. Last week, the farm’s owners once again came under attack by invaders, who threatened to burn down the family’s home, having already destroyed property and abducted and beaten the farm’s foreman. Freeth explained on Wednesday that they are running out of options to protect the farm, saying “the law just does not count in Zimbabwe anymore.” Freeth continued that there has been absolutely no change since the formation on the unity government in February, and the situation “is worse now than its ever been before.”


Tsvangirai says government facing problems with hardliners
By Tichaona Sibanda
13 May 2009

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said on Wednesday that hardliners from the old regime are endangering the lives of all Zimbabweans.
In a blistering speech at the launch of the government’s 100 Day Plan in Harare, Tsvangirai said hardliners’ violations of the rule of law and of the agreement that created the inclusive government, were holding up foreign aid. He said: ‘Sadly, there appears to be reluctance by residual elements from the old government to obstruct and frustrate the successful implementation of the global political agreement.’
He added; ‘This residual resistance represents an unwillingness to accept the fact that the new political dispensation is not only irreversible, but also offers the country the only way forward.’

However he said progress had been made over some of the outstanding issues, such as appointments of ambassadors, the central bank governor, attorney-general and other senior government officials.

An announcement from the principals is expected to be made on Friday, providing details of this ‘progress.’ Tsvangirai, Mugabe and Mutambara had met on Tuesday where it’s reported that all outstanding issues surrounding the Global Political Agreement had been discussed. It’s also reported that they took ‘a position’ on all the issues.

A highly placed source told us the principals will make their announcement through a statement to be issued in the capital. Despite some reports suggesting there seems to be a stalemate, our source said this was not the case.

‘It’s far from it. In any negotiation you are bound to agree or disagree. The common position from the talks is that they have taken a position which they will announce soon. If they had reached a deadlock I don’t think they would wait for days to announce it,’ our source said.

Political analyst Glen Mpani said since Tsvangirai has admitted that the new government is being thwarted by hardliners from ZANU PF he should move ahead and start identifying the culprits.

‘The question everyone should be asking now is what leverage and power does Tsvangirai have to ensure that this has to come to a stop,’ Mpani said.

‘Otherwise if there is no clear answer it simply goes to show us that the hardliners have immense power in controlling activities of the government,’ he added.

Mpani insisted that unless government makes a commitment to implement political reforms they would find it difficult to end the country’s international isolation.

‘The inclusive government should urgently review the media laws to create a plural media sector and work on the constitutional reform process to help kick-start the re-engagement of the international community.’

Callback 130509

Ottie believes things are slightly better but MDC should pull out of the GNU as its failing; Tawanda says he is now suspicious of Morgan Tsvangirai because he appears to be betraying the people by his support of Mugabe, and Freedom Fighter gives us his 100 day review of the GNU. Out of a score sheet of 1 to 10 he gives Mugabe 2, Tsvangirai 6 and Mutambara 4.

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