HEALTHbeat 040409

Tendayi Westerhof, whose Public Personalities Against AIDS Trust has now been going for 6 years, the organisation that encourages well-known people to be open about their HIV positive status. It’s been a while since we last spoke to her and we catch up and find out if things have moved on since she started the group, and are more people now living openly with HIV? Then, Fadzai Muparutsa is the Gender Officer with GALZ, Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe, and she talks about perceptions of, attitudes towards, and misconceptions about lesbians in Zimbabwe.

Through the Valley 040409

Richard celebrates Palm Sunday with music, scripture and reflections on Jesus final journey before Good Friday.

News Roundup 040409

Chegutu farmers fear possible charges as police support land invaders.
In the clearest sign yet that some police officials are in fact supporting the fresh wave of farm invasions sweeping the country, a Chegutu farming family on Saturday said they fear being charged by police after land invaders were forcibly removed from their land.

Callback 030409

Ruzivo says in Chinhoyi they have had no clean water for over a month and they are fearful that cholera will spread; Misheck says he believes the new inclusive government is on course in creating an environment conducive for free and fair elections, but the balance of power is still in Mugabe’s favour. And, Tsiga says the elderly are suffering and nobody seems to care.

Hot Seat 030409

Professor Welshman Ncube, the Minister of Industry and Commerce and co-chairman of the Joint-Monitoring Implementation Committee (JOMIC) joins Violet. It’s two months into the new inclusive government and we asked how this supervisory committee is dealing with infringements of the Global Political Agreement and what is it’s position on the political detainees and farm invasions. Why is the dispute over the appointments of governors, permananet secretaries and ambassadors still not resolved?

Newsreel 030409

Ministerial retreat kicks off in Victoria Falls
By Tichaona Sibanda
3 April 2009

Outstanding issues that should have been resolved at the formation of the inclusive government, such as the swearing in of provincial governors and the appointment of permanent secretaries and ambassadors, will be finalized next week, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said on Friday.

In his opening remarks at the start of a three day government retreat at the resort town of Victoria Falls, Tsvangirai also told cabinet ministers, their deputies and permanent secretaries that the appointments of Gideon Gono as Governor of the Reserve Bank and Johannes Tomana as Attorney General, will be revisited.

Robert Mugabe officially opened the conference. He said the success of the economic recovery of Zimbabwe rests on the performance and delivery of the inclusive government and it’s commitment to the global political agreement, signed among the country’s three major political parties.

His statement was echoed by Tsvangirai who said as defined by both the GPA and the constitution, the issues of governors and ambassadors must be resolved by the leadership, which comprises the President, Vice Presidents, the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Ministers.

‘This body will meet in the coming week to address the outstanding issues which include, but are not limited to, the ongoing land disputes and disruption of agricultural activities,’ he added.

The issue of Gono has even been raised in Washington where, following a meeting of the G20 group on March 20th, they issued a statement urging the inclusive government to ‘take additional steps to demonstrate its commitment to reform such as … the establishment of a credible and transparent central bank team.’

Tsvangirai also reminded his audience of this need when he told them the priorities of the new government ‘remain democratization, stabilization and addressing the humanitarian crisis that afflicts our people.’

‘Most importantly, this new political dispensation has delivered hope to a country devoid of optimism and expectation. However, if we are to move forward with the speed that the people demand and deserve, we must acknowledge and address some of the elements that are obstructing the full implementation of the GPA,’ according to Tsvangirai.

Political analyst Isaac Dziya said as long as Tsvangirai’s message could be translated into action, the international community might take note and change it’s attitude towards the government. Prospective international donors have insisted that a return to the rule of law and other key requirements, must be fulfilled by the inclusive government if any aid is to be injected into the country.

‘There is pressure from all quarters for the government to reform. I think it is clear to all those in government that aid will not be forthcoming as long as there are no democratic reforms,’ Dziya said.

Irene Petras, the executive director of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, told us on Wednesday that although there has been some movement in trying to bring change, she couldn’t say the same with the democratization process.

‘We still have a lot of concerns as far as the rule of law is concerned, people still cannot gather as a group and the media hasn’t been opened up yet,’ Petras said.

But Gorden Moyo, the Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s office, told a meeting of civic leaders that the Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC) and the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission will be in place before month-end.

This is part of the implementation of the GPA which also calls for the formation of a new Zimbabwe Electoral Commission and an Anti-Corruption Commission. It is hoped the setting up of the ZMC would speed up the opening of the media, to allow new and independent players to enter the industry, that has been choked by repressive laws put in place by the ZANU-PF government.

The ZMC is expected to lead the process of media reform, but most
importantly its job should be to register new media houses. NewsDay, a proposed daily newspaper project by Zimbabwe Independent and the Standard newspapers owner Trevor Ncube, is ready to register and is already in the process of recruiting staff.


Civil Society says government not focused on change
By Violet Gonda
3 April 2009

In late February key civic groups in Zimbabwe established an independent Civil Society Monitoring Mechanism, which is looking into the implementation of the Global Political Agreement. Next week the group will launch its first monthly monitoring report, which will help the general public understand the political process so far, in order for people to demand accountability in an informed manner.
The National Association of Non-Governmental Organizations (NANGO), a key member of the group, says it appears there is no concrete vision by the inclusive government on changing the situation in the country. NANGO spokesperson Fambai Ngirande said the political process is focused too much on getting international funding, as opposed to a national vision which all Zimbabweans could rally behind.
Ngirande said there is no urgency in changing repressive legislation and there is still massive food insecurity, endemic poverty, a disastrous brain drain, a collapsed education system and a non existent health delivery system.
He said: “The only movement being seen is an increase in donor support that is coming into the country but its impact is yet to be seen.”
Last week Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai opened a Stakeholders Summit in Harare and civil society was invited to consult with the government. This was ahead of a three day government retreat at the resort town of Victoria Falls. But Ngirande said only a few ministers, and those were from the Tsvangirai MDC, bothered to turn up, namely Eric Matinenga the Minister of Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs and Gordon Moyo, the Minister of State.
Ngirande went on to say: “The consultation seemed to be tokenistic. We were supposed to engage with the ministers and inform them as they prepare for this retreat but none of them turned up.”
“So there is that concern as to whether they are really meaning it when they say they want to consult and rally Zimbabwe towards a developmental agenda.”
Participating organisations in the civil society monitoring group are:
Bulawayo Agenda
Christian Alliance
Counseling Services Unit
Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition
General Agriculture and Plantation Workers Union
Legal Resources Foundation
Media Institute of Southern Africa – Zimbabwe Chapter (MISA-Zimbabwe)
Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe
National Association of Non-Governmental Organizations
Progressive Teachers Association of Zimbabwe
Research and Advocacy Unit
Save Zimbabwe Campaign
Voluntary Media Council of Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights
Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development
Zimbabwe Election Support Network
Zimbabwe Human Rights Association
Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights
Zimbabwe National Students Union
Zimbabwe Young Women’s Network for Peace Building


Over 29 000 youth militia still being paid by the state
By Lance Guma
03 April 2009

Two months into a coalition government an estimated 29 000 youth militia members loyal to ZANU PF are still on a government payroll and being listed as civil servants. This week Youth Development Minister Savior Kasukuwere, was quizzed by MDC parliamentarians on the use of the youths by government during the widely condemned and violent June presidential election run-off last year.

A new dimension to the issue erupted with revelations that up to 14 000 youths are still being listed under the Public Service Ministry, while another 15 000 fall under the Women’s Affairs Ministry. This brings the total number on the payroll to an astonishing 29 000. Kasukuwere’s answer in parliament was dismissed as unconvincing, after he claimed they were Youth Officers employed to work in different wards around the country.

With monthly allowances for civil servants pegged at US$100 it means nearly three million US dollars is being spent on paying youths whose only mandate was to terrorize opposition activists. This issue will present a challenging test for the new Minister of the Public Service, Professor Elphas Mukonoweshuro, who is from the MDC. Whether he will be able to deal with the matter will test the workability of the coalition government. Newsreel understands the problem has already been forwarded to the Prime Minister’s office for a resolution.

Several years ago the ZANU PF regime set up the Border Gezi youth militia camps to train groups of youths in violence. They were always deployed towards election time to beat up opposition supporters. Wearing their notorious green uniforms they essentially became a para-military force, maiming and killing MDC activists while claiming to be a national youth service promoting patriotism. Many were later absorbed into the current police force.

Wellington Zindove from the Youth Forum told Newsreel that most of the youths in the militia were promised jobs by ZANU PF as a reward for enrolling into the camps. He said this explained how most of them were eventually smuggled into the public service as civil servants and earning money for doing nothing.

Several other ministers are being questioned in parliament about their work. Joint Home Affairs Ministers Kembo Mohadi and Giles Mutsekwa were quizzed on the use of torture by security forces and the abduction of activists. Mines Minister Obert Mpofu was grilled on the killing of miners in the Marange diamond fields, Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa on prison conditions while Information, Communication and Technology Minister Nelson Chamisa had to explain the issues of high tariffs in the telecommunications sector.
The parliamentary order paper also listed Defence Minister Emerson Mnangagwa as being lined up to explain the issuing of firearms to retired army personnel and war veterans, in the period leading up to the presidential election run-off last year.


Farmers under siege as Didymus Mutasa implicated in ongoing attacks
By Alex Bell
03 April 2009

The renewed campaign against the country’s remaining commercial farmers continued unabated on Friday with a fresh farm attack.

On Friday afternoon, Chegutu farmer Ben Freeth and his family came under siege by a group of roughly fifteen invaders, who arrived on their Mount Carmel farm and announced that the family had five minutes to leave the property. Freeth explained to SW Radio Africa that the head invader eventually left the property “to get more men to come help him”, leaving about nine men to keep an eye on the family. Freeth explained that the head invader said he’d been sent my Nathan Shamuyarira, the ZANU PF spokesman, who has been intent on removing Freeth and his family off the farm. The family, who has previously been forced to flee their property under constant harassment, was left on Friday evening in a stand off with the remaining invaders.

Meanwhile it has emerged that Former Lands Minister Didymus Mutasa, and two of his relatives, are involved in the ongoing farm disruptions.
The allegations surfaced in a damning report by the Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) submitted to Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai last week, which highlights the fresh wave of farm attacks that has forced many farmers into hiding. More than 100 farmers are also facing prosecution on trumped up charges of occupying ‘state land’ illegally, while violent farm evictions have also intensified in recent weeks.

The CFU report accuses Mutasa of leading a Land Inspectorate Commission, which has been interfering with farming activities on targeted farms – the only productive farms left in a country crippled by food shortages.

The report reads: “What has become very evident from the reports coming in is that there is a very active group, which we understand is called the Land Inspectorate Commission, allegedly headed by the previous Minister of Lands (etc), Minister (Didymus) Mutasa, and assisted by two of his relatives, being the lawyer Gerald Mlotshwa and Temba Mliswa, who we believe holds the position of Secretary of Lands for Mashonaland West in the ZANU PF party.”

The report also details the known involvement of Attorney General Johannes Tomana as well as a chief magistrate, senior police officials and officials from the Lands Ministry, who in February instructed local police and magistrates to ‘fast track’ the prosecution of the remaining farmers.

“It would appear that this is to make way for the immediate occupation
by persons in favour of the ZANU PF party and many of these new
beneficiaries are alleged to have been involved in the recent political
violence,” the CFU said in its report.

The CFU also urged the Prime Minister to issue a moratorium on the prosecution of white farmers, and called for the “immediate cessation of the violence in the productive farming sector.”

Tsvangirai has since promised to deal with the farm disruptions, saying in a Press Conference on Wednesday that the Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee (JOMIC) had been tasked to deal with the issue. The pledge came barely a week after he condemned perpetrators of “acts of theft” using “fraudulent offer letters” to evict commercial farmers. He warned that those engaged in these activities would be brought to justice.

But doubt has been cast over how the Prime Minister plans to keep his word, as it is not the first time he has condemned the attacks – condemnation that has not seen any action. At the same time, many police officials and judicial members, who should be handing out justice over the land issue, are themselves beneficiaries of the land grab, and will be unlikely to change allegiance at the request of Tsvangirai.


Zimbabwean exiles to receive six month SA permits
By Alex Bell
03 April 2009

South African authorities have announced that Zimbabwean exiles living in the country can apply for permits, which will allow them to stay in the country legally for six months.

The six month permit will give thousands of illegal Zimbabwean refugees in the country the right to work, healthcare and education, and most importantly, will protect them from being deported back to Zimbabwe.

The decision follows months of inaction by South African authorities, who have flip-flopped on their policies towards refugees from their neighbouring country. The flood of exiles entering South Africa has increased significantly in the past year, mirroring Zimbabwe’s total collapse, and the sick, hungry and desperate have kept pouring in across the border. But the slow and confusing process of applying for asylum permits in South Africa has seen thousands of desperate Zimbabwean exiles facing deportation back to the country that many risked death to flee, all because of incorrect paperwork.

The decision to grant the six month permits will therefore come as a relief to Zimbabwean exiles. Human rights lawyer from the Zimbabwe Exiles Forum in South Africa, Anna Moyo explained to SW Radio Africa on Friday that the decision is a ‘breakthrough’ that will give exiles a longer period of certainty and safety in South Africa.

An official from the Department of Home Affairs meanwhile has said the permit will reduce the numbers claiming political asylum, arguing that most Zimbabweans are only entering South Africa as economic migrants. The official said the permit will allow Zimbabweans enough time to make money in South Africa before returning home, saying “this special dispensation will result in foreign currency going into Zimbabwe and assist in building up that country.”

But Moyo explained that the period is not long enough, and argued that authorities have not explained what will happen after a six month period. She continued that the Forum’s main concern is that the education of thousands will be interrupted, “which violates the right to education that anyone living in South Africa has.” She explained that priority needs to be given in some way to the education of Zimbabwean youth in South Africa “to help rebuild their country in the future.”


Global diamond body orders ban on Chiadzwa diamonds
By Alex Bell
03 April 2009

The world’s diamond certification body on Friday ordered a ban on the trade of diamonds from eastern Zimbabwe, over concerns of human rights violations at the Chiadzwa diamond fields in Marange.

The President of the World Federation of Diamond Bourses (WFDB) on Friday released a statement announcing the decision, which is only set to affect the Marange deposits. The WFDB only allows its members to trade in diamonds that are accompanied by a Kimberly Process certificate, meant to guarantee that the gems are not fuelling conflicts. The Kimberley Process is a regulatory body that was set up in order to prevent the trade in conflict diamonds.

But the Kimberley Process’ ineffectiveness in Zimbabwe has now been highlighted with the WFDB decision, which follows a recent and damning report by a Canadian NGO, involved in stopping the trade of conflict diamonds. The group, Partnership Africa Canada (PAC), last month released the report titled ‘Zimbabwe, Diamonds and the Wrong Side of History’, and accused the Kimberley Process of being unwilling and unable to deal with Zimbabwe’s diamond crisis.

The PAC report came in the wake of widespread accounts of killings in the Chiadzwa area, which has been the centre of controversy since last October when the army was called in to disperse thousands of illegal diamond hunters. The government had originally illegally seized the Chiadzwa diamond claim in 2007, and set off a diamond rush when it encouraged locals to help themselves. But the arrival of the army last year resulted in violence and murder, after the area was sealed off with military roadblocks and troops. Accounts from survivors of the military onslaught detailed the killings, speaking of machine-gun attacks by helicopter and armed attacks by troops on the ground. Civilians in the region also reported that anyone attempting to enter Chiadzwa was arrested and often tortured and killed.

Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights have said that about 5,000 people were arrested during the army operation, with three quarters of them showing signs of having been tortured severely. The MDC has also claimed that hundreds of people were buried in mass graves “to hide the regime’s murderous activities,” and that the soldiers sent to ‘guard’ the fields had become illegal diamond dealers themselves.

On the Pulse 030409

Cynthia Mare joins Lance Guma and Brilliant Pongo and talks about her work so far. Mare recently signed up to UK talent contest Live and Unsigned and is in line to win a £20,000 recording contract after sailing through the first round. Music played includes her smash hit Diet Song and new collaboration with Exque-Handidi. Other songs include Winky D’s Roketion and Alexio ‘Gudchild’ Gwenzi’s Paunondinyevekedza.

Behind the Headlines 020409

Excommunicated Anglican Bishop Nolbert Kunonga continues his reign of violence and with the help of a partisan police force has managed to block genuine parishioners from worshipping in their parishes across Harare. Lance Guma speaks to the man who replaced Kunonga – Bishop Sebastian Bakare – who sought an audience this week with the two Home Affairs Ministers. He tells the programme what happened during those meetings.

Callback 020409

Eveline says cholera cases are continuing to rise, and that government statistics are wrong; Munhumutema, like many Zimbabweans in the Diaspora, was hoping that the new inclusive government would herald a mass return to our homeland, but says that as long as there is no law and order there is no guarantee of safety. And, Vamoyo believes the government is not prioritising education, and the future remains bleak for the children of Zimbabwe.

Heart of the Matter 020409

Tanonoka gives us his opinion about the government’s planned weekend retreat in the resort town of Victoria Falls. This has sparked an outcry from Zimbabweans who say this is a misplaced priority for a bankrupt government. Find out why Tanonoka says ‘Victoria Falls, here comes your Prime Minister with extra baggage!’

Pages (1010): « First ... « 772 773 774 [775] 776 777 778 » ... Last »