Callback 120309

Mawuruka says if the plan behind introducing forex to the economy was to stabilise the economy, this hasn’t helped poor Zimbabweans who have no hope of getting any forex; Mhlahlandlela offers his congratulations to the 3 party leaders for setting aside their differences and agreeing on the unity deal, but he says he is still wary of Mugabe and uses the horrible accident that took the life of Mrs Tsvangirai as one of the reasons behind his suspicions. Tichaona says things appear to be normalising with prices of basic commodities coming down. Cash, though is still a rare commodity.

Behind the Headlines 120309

Tsvangirai crash driver’s lawyer Chris Mhike on BTH
The driver of the truck that killed Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s wife Susan, appeared in a Chivhu court on Monday, charged with culpable homicide. Thirty-five year old Chinoona Mwanda drove the Nissan UD truck that hit Tsvangirai’s Land Cruiser. Human rights lawyer Chris Mhike will defend the driver in court and speaks to Lance Guma about what is expected to be a high profile case. Did the driver swerve to avoid a hump, or did he fall asleep while driving? Is he suicidal as reported? Mhike gives the driver’s side of the story.

Newsreel 110309

Zimbabwe Supreme Court grants Bennett bail
By Violet Gonda
11 March 2009

Supreme Court Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku has upheld a High Court decision, granting Roy Bennett bail. The decision was made on Wednesday after the judge had heard arguments from both the prosecution and defence teams the previous day.

The State had appealed in the Supreme Court against the granting of bail to the MDC Deputy Minister of Agriculture designate, saying he was a flight risk. Prosecutors had also recommended tighter bail conditions if the judge decided to rule against their appeal.

The Chief Justice ruled against the state prosecutors saying they had no grounds to oppose a previous High Court ruling ordering Bennett’s release.

However, Justice Chidyausiku increased the bail payment from US$2000 to US$5000, ordered Bennett to surrender title deeds and report to the police three times a week. The State had wanted him to report everyday.

The MDC politician who has been in custody since February 13th is now expected to be released from prison on Thursday. His lawyers said the paperwork was going to be sent to the Mutare magistrates’ court from Harare, where he will post his bail payment with the clerk of court in the morning.

Last Wednesday Bennett’s lawyers in Mutare successfully posted bail of US$2 000 and surrendered his passport after being granted bail by the High Court. But prison officials disappeared with his release papers on the night of posting bail and the Magistrate who accepted Bennett’s bail payment and documents was arrested the following day. Magistrate Livingstone Chipadze who was released on bail on Saturday is being charged with criminal abuse of authority.

Although wary about their reception in Mutare, Bennett’s lawyers are hopeful that this time around their client will be released, since the order is coming from the country’s highest court.

Meanwhile Claire Ingram, a woman who transported Bennett from his house to the airport on the day he was arrested, was briefly detained herself on Tuesday after a lengthy interrogation. Bennett who is facing weapons charges denies the allegations of plotting to overthrow Robert Mugabe.


Refugee crisis in Johannesburg sparks legal battle with church leader
By Alex Bell
11 March 2009

The leader of the Central Methodist Church in Johannesburg, Bishop Paul Verryn, has been dragged into a legal battle with local businesses in the area, because of the swelling numbers of Zimbabwean refugees living on, and around, the church premises.

The church is fighting a High Court application filed by local businesses, who are seeking to have the refugees moved elsewhere. Business owners have argued that there are serious sanitation, hygiene and safety scares as a result of the numbers of exiles living on the streets outside the church, and many have a demanded that a fence be erected to cordon off the exiles from the rest of the city. Bishop Verryn is now facing a court action from two companies which are adjacent to the church on Pritchard Street. They want the church to remove the 20 mobile toilets which are a stone’s throw from one business which is a restaurant and to find an alternative place for the refugees.

On Wednesday an emergency meeting between business leaders, church leaders and City of Johannesburg officials was convened to find an urgent solution to the refugee crisis now affecting the heart of Johannesburg. City officials have now reportedly made steps to resolve the crisis, asking for a joint task team to be formed with all the relevant parties, to deal with the worsening hygienic conditions.

The Central Methodist Church has been a lifeline to thousands of Zimbabwean refugees forced to flee their own country, which has been crippled by combined humanitarian, economic and political crises. With nowhere else to go, more than 3000 men, women and children have been living on the church premises, receiving food and medical treatment from local NGOs, with an estimated 2000 living on the city streets outside. But that number has swelled significantly in the past week, after authorities in the border town Musina closed an overflowing refugee camp there.

By last Wednesday the makeshift shelters of an estimated 5000 Zimbabweans exiles living at the Musina showgrounds had been torn down and burnt, after the Department of Home Affairs announced it was closing a mobile refugee registration office that was based near the camp. The decision to close the camp was met with outrage by charity groups, with Doctors Without Borders officials saying the move “demonstrates a flagrant disregard for the humanitarian and protection needs of Zimbabweans seeking refuge in South Africa and will have extremely negative consequences, as no allowances have been made to ensure their access to shelter, food or medical assistance.”

The charity described in a statement last week the cruel nature with which authorities shut down the camp, explaining that families were not even allowed to stay together. Last Tuesday authorities started dividing the refugees into different groups, according to their legal status, gender, and age. Women with children, pregnant women and unaccompanied minors were removed from a special location that had been established for them at the showground, despite having nowhere else to go. The remaining refugees were then ordered to vacate the area. With many holding no documentation protecting them from the threat of deportation, hundreds fled to Johannesburg seeking protection and shelter.

Meanwhile, the Department of Home Affairs has confirmed that it is considering giving Zimbabwean nationals temporary legal status in order for them to work in the country. The exemption card would allow them to work and live in South Africa for a period of time, yet to be decided by the Government.


Susan Tsvangirai buried in Buhera
By Lance Guma
11 March 2009

On Wednesday thousands of people converged on the rural home of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai in Buhera, to bury his beloved wife Susan. The horror car crash last Friday claimed the life of a woman who was adored by all for her kindness, humility and support, especially to victims of political violence who sought comfort at their home. It was no surprise that the Tsvangirai homestead was turned into a sea of humanity, with red and white MDC insignia dominating the scene. Thousands made the journey using buses and cars, while many walked miles to the area. The couples 6 children were all present in the village of Manikwa in Buhera.

Diplomats from several countries, including Botswana, Swaziland, Kenya and South Africa were also present at the burial. Robert Mugabe did not attend, having made an appearance at Tsvangirai’s hospital bed last Friday and having attended the funeral service Tuesday.

Our correspondent Simon Muchemwa said on Tuesday over 20 000 people were already waiting in Buhera to mourn with the family during Wednesday’s burial.

A convoy of vehicles traveling to Buhera used exactly the same road on which Susan was killed. Several cars stopped at the scene, with many people getting out to survey the road and search for answers as to why the crash took place.

Muchemwa told us Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara finally got the chance to address mourners at the burial. On Tuesday he was jeered into sitting down at the funeral service, when he tried to speak. In Buhera Mutambara said Susan Tsvangirai should have been declared a national hero as she was clearly ‘Mother Zimbabwe’. South African government officials spoke at the graveside and disclosed that they have offered Tsvangirai a private retreat in their country to allow him a period of rest and reflection. Some officials from ZANU PF were present, the most prominent being the Governor for Manicaland Christopher Mushowe. All declined to give speeches, probably sensing the atmosphere was a little tense for them to speak.

Susan was born in Buhera 50 years ago and met Tsvangirai in 1978 when he was a foreman at the Bindura nickel mine. An example of her unwavering support was in an interview where she spoke about Tsvangirai, saying; ‘He is a good man, husband and a loving father. Once he sets his eyes on a target he never takes his eyes off the target until he has achieved it. He is a man of great determination, and above all a man of great courage. I think he has proved his courage to the world. He has fought Mugabe for 10 years and is still fighting. We all know that Mugabe’s tactics are not always above board, but that didn’t faze my Morgan.’

Susan stood by Tsvangirai throughout his treason trial, 4 assassination attempts and last years police beating, plus many other forms of harassment and assaults.

Finance Minister Tendai Biti paid his tributes to her at Tuesday’s service, saying; ‘Many of us are in pain but many of us were so shocked. She was a mother to the democratic struggle. She was there when we were beaten, when we suffered. She has left a void that will not be filled.’ Biti told Tsvangirai, ‘You have no time to cry. All these people are looking up to you for your leadership.’
Former Zimbabwe National Students Union President, Nkululeko Sibanda, told Newsreel, ‘Amai Tsvangirai was a mother to me; every time I went to her residence she offered me food and tea. Other than being the MDC President’s wife she did not send workers to offer us food, she brought it. She was as good as my mother in her manner. My experience with her always reminded me of the love and innocence of an African mother’s love. She was authentic, she was humble and she was encouraging and an asset to Tsvangirai. If anyone is responsible for this, please tell us what the issue is? I loved her.’


WHO reports decline in new cases of cholera in Zimbabwe
By Tichaona Sibanda
11 march 2009
The World Health Organisation this week reported that the number of people who have died from cholera in the country has topped 4,000, with over 89,000 infected by the disease, but there has been a decline in new cases.
WHO spokeswoman Fadela Chaib said they have recorded a certain decline in cases and deaths from week to week since the start of the new year. Last week WHO identified 2,151 new cases – a figure that well down from the 8,000 per week at the beginning of the year.
Lack of clean water together with the blocked sewage systems and the uncollected refuse overflowing in the streets has been at the center of this cholera outbreak, according to a report released in February by Medecins Sans Frontiere.
Now analysts are expressing shock at reports that the African regional office of the World Health Organisation, based in Harare, has done little to help with the cholera outbreak. Critics say the regional office has been ineffective because of mismanagement and a ‘cosy’ relationship with the government.

The South African based Mail and Guardian reports that health activists and academics have told them the regional office’s response to the outbreak was disastrously slow, despite the fact that it has a US$1.2 billion biennial budget at its disposal.

Observers have said that WHO-Afro is seen by many as an employment option in retirement, often employing ex-ministers. As one observer pointed out; ‘It is difficult to be critical when “you’re sitting in cahoots with the
But other governments have been trying to help Zimbabwe pick up the pieces of its shattered health system. On Wednesday the Australian government lifted it’s long standing ban on non humanitarian aid and announced it would provide about US$10 million to repair the water, sanitation and health services that have been left in ruins by the ZANU PF government.


MDC says houses burnt down in Zimunya and Buhera
By Violet Gonda
11 March 2008

On Tuesday Robert Mugabe called for peace and for an end to violence. He was at a church service for the late Susan Tsvangirai. But it appears his ‘plea’ has fallen on deaf ear, as far as his own followers are concerned.

While the ZANU PF leadership and most ministers in the inclusive government joined the Tsvangirai family to mourn the Prime Minister’s wife, the MDC in Manicaland Province accuse ZANU PF supporters of once again terrorising MDC supporters in Zimunya and Buhera.

Pishai Muchauraya, MDC MP for Makoni South, said a house belonging to Robert Jack Saunyama, the party’s provincial security officer, was burnt to the ground on Tuesday night. The MDC also claims that 10 houses were burnt down in Ward 5 in Buhera West. Muchauraya said although there was extensive damage to the properties, no one was injured. He said the people whose homes were attacked in Buhera had gone to mourn Amai Tsvangirai at the Prime Minister’s homestead, also in Buhera.

The MDC said reports were made to the police and investigations are underway. We were not able to get a comment from Zimunya and Buhera police.

It is always difficult to know if Mugabe is sincere when he uses words of peace. Frequently in the past he has called for peace through the microphone, while at the same time ordering violent reprisals against political opponents.

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has said that the car crash that killed his wife was an accident, and that foul play is one in a thousand, and there has been an unprecedented outpouring of messages of support from the ZANU PF leadership. Mugabe said the tragic accident was the hand of God. ‘We are sincerely saddened by the death of Susan and we hope that Morgan will remain strong.”

This resulted in Tsvangirai’s eldest son Edwin thanking Mugabe for “the kind words that changed my understanding of him.” He also urged his father to look ahead to the work of rebuilding Zimbabwe.

On the same day the MDC issued a condolence message at the death of a ZANU PF stalwart, speaking in very glowing terms about retired Army-General Zvinavashe. This was a man who used the war in the DRC to enrich himself and who publicly declared he would not salute Tsvangirai.

There are very mixed reactions about what all this unusual rhetoric means and if it is sincere.

Some say the untimely death of the Prime Minister’s wife may be the catalyst that will bring the divided country together. They believe that through her death, and that of General Zvinavashe, ZANU PF and the MDC may work together differently.

But there are others who are extremely sceptical and say the sequence of events is very strange and seem too well orchestrated. The sceptics say it is delusional to think that ZANU PF has suddenly changed, after years of violence, torture, beatings and deliberately inflicted starvation.

While Zimbabweans ponder the unfolding events the rest of the world is cautiously watching and some are more inclined towards justice, rather than forgiveness.

Justice Richard Goldstone, a distinguished South African judge and former international war crimes prosecutor, has told Australia’s ABC radio that last week’s decision by the International Criminal Court to issue a warrant against Sudan’s President Al Bashir, sets a precedent for action against Mugabe. He said the Zimbabwean leader’s ‘conduct over many years warranted the attention of the International Court’s prosecutor’ and that he would like to see the members of the Security Council make a reference to the ICC for Mr Mugabe to be charged with crimes against humanity.

The question that remains is – what do Zimbabweans want? Do they want to try and forget the past atrocities and just hope they never recur? Can a nation really move forward, without some form of justice and accountability?

Hidden Story 110309

Instead of the usual Hidden Story there will be a special programme dedicated to the late Susan Tsvangirai. Tichaona looks at the life of a woman who won the hearts of the country by her simple acts of humanity, compassion, honesty and courage.

Democracy 101 110309

Willy, Dominic and Lameck send their condolences to the Prime Minister, his family and the nation over the loss of Amai Tsvangirai. They comment on the very emotional responses that have been forthcoming since the accident, especially the many who are questioning whether or not it was an accident. Are some people viewing this as a major blow to the unity agreement?

Callback 110309

Godwin says getting forex is a big problem, and in the transport industry they struggle to give people change in forex; as Amai Tsvangirai is laid to rest Charles says that moving forward will be a trial for the Prime Minister, and the nation as a whole, and Vegas comments that the new school fees gazetted by government are going to make things even harder for people. Especially those who are struggling to find work like him.

Newsreel 100309

Different Points of View 100309

Diaspora Diaries 100309

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