Rebuilding Zimbabwe 210309

The inclusive government has been urged to establish a department under a nominated Ministry to deal specifically with issues concerning Zimbabweans living in exile. Jaison Matewu, the MDC’s organising secretary in the UK, says proper structures of communication should be set up to enable people in the Diaspora to communicate better with the government. He says this will help build bridges and possibly see exiles helping in the rebuilding of their country by sending back more remittances.

HealthBeat 210309

A special broadcast, courtesy of Panos London, called ‘Growing Pains: Children, poverty and AIDS.’ Being nurtured with the help of a loving caregiver helps children to build lifelong emotional resilience. But for many children, especially those who witness their parents and relatives die, their early years can bring pain and suffering. In this radio feature children, parents, carers and experts in South Africa speak frankly about meeting the challenges of growing up in the face of bereavement, poverty and AIDS.

On the Pulse 200309

Lance Guma and Brilliant Pongo combine as usual for another pulsating review of Zimbabwe’s urban music scene.

Hotseat 200309

Violet’s guest on the programme is Giles Mutsekwa, the MDC Minister of Home Affairs. Be sure not to miss this wide ranging interview where Mutsekwa talks about the challenges of this controversial ministry. Is the fact that he is co-chairing this portfolio with ZANU PF’s Kembo Mohadi a challenge in itself? What is triggering political violence in parts of the country and what steps is he taking de-politicise the security apparatus? Listen here

Callback 210309

Newsreel 200309

Callback 200309

Letter from Zimbabwe 200309

The Heart of the Matter 190309

Journalist and broadcaster Tanonoka Whande shares his unique thoughts and insights on issues and current events of interest to Zimbabweans as they unfold.
Tanonoka echoes the view of many Zimbabweans for something that will ‘convince us, not just a select few, that indeed Robert Mugabe has repented and his words match his actions.’ He says that while the leadership may have achieved ‘administrative camaraderie for the sake of expediency,’ ordinary Zimbabweans have great need for a truth and reconciliation process, so they can move forward.

Newsreel 190309

Bulawayo man thrown out of CIO building
By Lance Guma
19 March 2009

There was high drama at lunchtime in Bulawayo on Wednesday when a man was thrown out of the 4th floor of Magnet House, a building used by the notorious Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO). Huge crowds of shoppers converged on the scene as the man, identified as bank clerk Tawengwa Mavhunga, lay motionless on the road, covered by a red blanket. A Bulawayo City Council vehicle is said to have rushed the seriously injured clerk to the United Bulawayo Hospital (UBH).

Two versions of the same story are now emerging, with the state owned Chronicle newspaper trying to protect the image of the CIO. The newspaper claims Mavhunga, a bank clerk with the Merchant Bank of Central Africa Zimbabwe (MBCA), lied to his mother that he had been abducted by the CIO on Monday when in fact he had slept at his girlfriend’s house. The paper claims the mother then sought intervention from the courts to have her son released. The paper then alleges that the CIO took Mavhunga into their custody for questioning on Wednesday, because he had lied to his mother. They claim he leapt out of the building to escape a lie detector test.

But our correspondent Lionel Saungweme reports a different story, saying information from other sources indicate that Mavhunga was indeed abducted on Monday, over a clash he had with CIO officers. Agents from the organization were said to be making ‘dubious’ withdrawals from the bank where Mavhunga works and it’s thought the clerk might have asked too many questions about the transactions and become a target. The source said after Monday’s abduction the CIO actually wanted the clerk to tell his mother that he had spent the night with his girlfriend, the exact opposite of what the Chronicle reported.

Saungweme says it’s inconceivable that Mavhunga could have tried to commit suicide, as claimed by the Chronicle. He said the windows at Magnet House are so small no one could go through them without being pushed. Eye witness accounts also differed, with some saying he fell from the 4th floor to the balcony of the 1st floor while others said he landed on the pavement outside. What is clear however is that he was in the custody of the CIO and something happened which resulted in his falling off the 4th floor.

Although the details remain sketchy, Magnet House is the Bulawayo headquarters of the CIO. Opposition activists are regularly abducted and taken there for torture and interrogation. Police in the city are said to have visited the building, although chances of a proper investigation remain remote. CIO operatives have over the years regularly been a law unto themselves and rarely are brought to book for crimes they commit.


Photojournalist granted right to appeal denial of bail
By Violet Gonda
19 March 2009

High Court judge Justice Yunus Omarjee has granted lawyers representing three political detainees in Harare the right to appeal in the Supreme Court.

MDC officials Chris Dhlamini and Ghandi Mudzingwa, plus photo-journalist Shadreck Andrew Manyere, were denied bail by the State recently. They were the only individuals out of a group of seven who were denied bail, after the State accused them of having been in possession of dangerous weapons. But now their lawyers have successfully been granted the right to appeal in the Supreme Court.

Lawyer Alex Muchadehama said he will be at the Supreme Court on Friday to find out when the appeal will be heard.

The three are among a group of people facing banditry and terrorism charges. They are believed to be the remaining three political detainees in custody, although the whereabouts of at least 10 MDC activists, abducted during the months of October and December, last year are still unknown.
Dhlamini and Mudzingwa are being held at the Avenues Clinic, where they are still recovering from their torture at the hands of the police, while Manyere is in Chikurubi Maximum Security prison.
Meanwhile, on Wednesday we had reported that 26 MDC supporters facing violence charges in Buhera, plus the Deputy Mayor of Mutare, were granted bail by a Murambinda Magistrate.

The Deputy Mayor was granted bail of US$50, but due to the confusion on the ground it has now emerged that only 13 people had actually been arrested earlier in the week and they were not being charged with violence, but with extortion. The 13 were granted bail of US$20.

The extortion charges are based on the allegation that they tried to reclaim their property and livestock, stolen by ZANU PF supporters during the controversial election period of last year. The alleged ZANU PF culprits were not arrested at the time. It has emerged the two groups had agreed, with the help of village headmen, to settle their dispute using traditional means.

Their lawyer Trust Maanda said two headmen who were actually carrying out their duties under customary law, are also facing charges of extortion.

The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights also said in a statement: “The ZANU PF supporters involved admitted that they unlawfully seized the property and that they intended to restitute in order to restore normal relations in the community. Some ZANU PF supporters even opted to pay in cash for the chickens they ‘stole’ to achieve reconciliation and restorative justice. The police have however opted for criminal prosecutions against the aggrieved MDC-T individuals.”

In a related matter, there is a separate group of 15 MDC members, who were arrested last week. They also appeared in the same court in Murambinda on Wednesday, but were denied bail. Only Rindai Muchesa was granted bail on the basis that she has a suckling baby. The other 14 are being held in Rusape Remand Prison.

This group is accused of assaulting people and burning down the houses of ZANU PF supporters in Buhera. But the MDC claims that in fact it is their supporters who had their homes burnt down by ZANU PF.


Farmers union threatens legal action against Herald
By Alex Bell
19 March 2009

The Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) has threatened to take legal action against the state’s mouthpiece, The Herald, after the publication ran a misleading article regarding the group’s vice-president on Tuesday.

CFU vice president Deon Theron was taken into custody on Tuesday in connection with photographing the scene of the tragic accident that claimed the life of the Prime Minister’s wife. The Herald this week used Theron’s arrest to question the CFU’s ‘involvement’ in the accident, and on Tuesday ran an article titled “CFU implicated in Tsvangirai crash.” The CFU has since said the article ‘bears no truth’ and has also stated that it will consider legal action against the paper.

Susan Tsvangirai died earlier this month in a car crash that sparked speculation that foul play was involved, and calls for an independent investigation were widespread. Theron meanwhile had been called by MDC officials shortly after the accident, and was asked to take pictures of the crash scene for an independent record, in case of a later inquiry. The MDC had contacted him as he lives near the crash scene.

Arriving before police officials Theron was initially arrested while filming at the crash site. He was released the following day, but has now been rearrested and is facing charges of ‘defeating the course of justice’. His camera equipment was seized by police during the original arrest, and has not been released.

MDC policy coordinator, Eddie Cross, who personally contacted Theron after news of the crash, explained to SW Radio Africa on Thursday that he has intervened in the case against Theron, who is still being held at Harare central police station. Police officials failed to take him to court on Thursday for his bail application, which Cross said was evidence that “the case against him has collapsed because if he had been produced, the case would have been thrown out of court.”

“I think there has been discussion at a political level about what to do with Theron next,” Cross explained. “Obviously the charges are ridiculous and hopefully he will be released on Friday.”


Recovery plan calls for rule of law and an end to farm invasions
By Tichaona Sibanda
19 March 2009

The inclusive government’s new ‘Short-Term Emergency Recovery Programme’ (STERP), was officially launched on Thursday. It commits the administration to upholding the rule of law, as well as stopping any further farm invasions.

STERP is aimed at trying to rejuvenate the beleaguered economy, and the launch in Harare was in response to the severe economic challenges facing the country – at the centre of which is hyperinflation, deteriorating public service delivery and corruption.

Finance Minister Tendai Biti has said turning around the economy was the inclusive government’s toughest job. He said the new government needs at least US$2 billion to begin the revival.

The 122 page document outlines how the government wants to revive agriculture, which has been devastated following Robert Mugabe’s chaotic land reform programme, as well as mining, manufacturing and tourism. Biti said STERP was based on three pillars – the correction of the macro-economic environment, the democratization agenda and social protection and safety nets.

Under the democratization agenda, the economic blueprint spells out ways of strengthening the rule of law and good governance. It also focuses on the need to draft a people driven constitution and liberalize the media.

The Commercial Farmers Union has recently reported that ZANU PF supporters, aided by the police, have targeted at least 100 of the 400 farms remaining in the hands of white farmers. Biti told delegates at the launch that farmers must be given security on their land and a chance to grow their crops. Speaking at the same occasion, Mugabe who officially launched the blueprint, said that Zimbabwe needed to move away from ‘divisive and distractive activities and devote ourselves to a constructive and beneficial socio-economic reconstruction programme.’

‘The successful implementation of STERP will indeed require a substantial amount of resources… We hope these will be forthcoming,’ Mugabe said.

Economic analyst Isaac Dziya said Mugabe’s remarks about moving away from ‘divisive and distractive activities’ would be taken as a political statement, meant to give confidence to the international community.

‘Everyone in the world knows who was divisive and who was distractive, I guess it’s a way by Mugabe to try and redeem himself to the international community. But if he wants this inclusive government to work he really needs to push through democratic reforms,’ Dziya said.

‘The recovery programme will work if they put their commitments into it. If cabinet has decided to stop the farm invasions and commit themselves to upholding the rule of law, then they will get a favourable response from donors, who have long called for the return of the rule of law,’ Dziya said.


International probe into Chiadzwa diamond murders underway
By Alex Bell
19 March 2009

An international team from the United Nation’s world diamond regulatory body, has arrived in Zimbabwe to investigate reports of mass murder at the hands of soldiers, in the Chiadzwa mining fields.
The team from the Kimberley Process, which was founded by the UN to monitor the trade in ‘blood diamonds’, arrived earlier this week and are set to report back on the 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 from British-based Africa Consolidated Resources 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.

The probe by the Kimberley Process has come on the back of a recent and damning report by a Canadian NGO, involved in stopping the trade of conflcit diamonds. The group, Partnership Africa Canada (PAC), earlier this month released a report titled ‘Zimbabwe, Diamonds and the Wrong Side of History’, accused the Kimberley Process of being unwilling and unable to deal with Zimbabwe. “The almost desperate insistence by some governments that the Kimberley Process has nothing to do with human rights is disgraceful,” said Ian Smillie, PAC’s research coordinator. The group has called for an immediate embargo on Zimbabwe diamonds, and has demanded action by the UN Security Council.

Zimbabwe’s mining minister, Obert Mpofu, has meanwhile insisted that “no-one was killed” in the army operation in Chiadzwa and this week said that Zimbabwe, a signed-up member of the Kimberley Process, “is committed to the successful implementation of the Kimberley Process, and will provide information on the situation on the ground.” The last inspection in Zimbabwe by Kimberley Process officials was in 2006.

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