Friday, March 27, 2009

Zimbabwean Activists Bring their Voice to the UN

Representatives of Zimbabwean civil society join Ambassador Chipaziwa and Zimbabwe Permanent Mission staff for a photo moment after 'historic encounter'. (Geneva, 13/03/2009.)

By: Marlon Zakeyo,
Geneva, 27.03.2009

A strong Zimbabwean civil society delegation has recently returned home after participating in the 10th Session of the UN Human Rights Council. Ten activists from the Crisis Coalition Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, Zimbabwe Christian Alliance, Women's Coalition of Zimbabwe, ZimRights and ICJ's Africa Programme were hosted by the Geneva-based Zimbabwe Advocacy Office over an intensive 2 week period.

The Zimbabwean activists took part in an interactive dialogue with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Judge Navanethem Pillay as well as briefings with staff from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, several Independent UN Experts and international NGOs concerned with the situation in Zimbabwe. During the meeting with the High Commissioner for Human Rights the delegation voiced support for her proposed fact-finding visit to the country as a matter of urgency. The Zimbabwean delegation also asked for the deployment of a UN Human Rights mechanism to Zimbabwe to help provide technical assistance and capacity-building for human rights defenders and state institutions such as the police and judiciary as well as, provide expertise on questions such as constitutional processes and transitional justice.

Judge Pillay informed the meeting that she had received assurances from President Mugabe and Minister of Justice, Patrick Chinamasa, that the Government of Zimbabwe would allow her to enter the country. She and her office now await finalisation of the dates. Representatives of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights updated the Human Rights Council on the cases of political abductees and a civil society initiative to monitor the implementation of the Global Political Agreement. Monthly reports from the parallel monitoring exercise will be released each month from the beginning of April.

The Zimbabwe civil society delegation also called onto the Human Rights Council to ensure that the Government of Zimbabwe permits a litany of unmet requests by UN Independent Experts to conduct human rights missions in Zimbabwe. A long list of these special mechanisms have asked but denied permission to visit Zimbabwe from as far back as 2002. These include the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders, Special Rapporteur on Independence of Judges and Lawyers, Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression, Special Rapporteur on Torture, Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing, Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, the Working Group on the use of Mercenaries and the Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women.

The urgent calls from Zimbabwean civil society were also voiced in two side events organised at the UN Palais des Nations and reinforced in an oral intervention delivered on behalf of the group by ZimRights Director, Okay Machisa, in the main Council Room and in a press statement and conference led by the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition.

The Zimbabwean activists also held briefings on the human rights situation and recent developments in Zimbabwe with several government delegations including, the South African Ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Dr Glaudine Mtshali, representatives from Zambia and the Czech EU-Presidency among others. Thanking the South African government and other African states for the role they played in forging a deal to break the political stalemate in Zimbabwe, the group’s spokesperson McDonald Lewanika, asked the same governments to help ensure that Zimbabwe’s political leaders move urgently to resolve outstanding issues in the implementation of the Global Political Agreement. Lewanika also expressed civil society’s calls for full restoration of the rule of law, ensuring full access to food, water and health services and an end to attacks on human rights defenders and opposition politicians.

There was also time for what is thought to be the first-ever meeting between a civil society delegation to the Human Rights Council and the Zimbabwean Permanent Mission to the UN. Ambassador Chitsaka Chipaziwa and his staff welcomed the delegation and expressed sorrow over the tragic passing of the wife of Prime Minister Tsvangirai and also the demise of Rtd General Vitalis Zvinavashe, former commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces. The Ambassador acknowledged that over the past few years civil society and government representatives have ‘worked past each other’ at the Human Rights Council, but hoped that the meeting marked the beginning of a new spirit of engagement and co-operation. In response civil society welcomed the Ambassador’s message and reiterated the desire to engage with the government towards seeing a full restoration of Zimbabwe to the community of nations, to the rule of law, self-sufficiency and prosperity.

The curtain comes down on the 10th Session of the Human Rights Council this afternoon.

Zimbabwe Advocacy Office, Geneva

Zimbabwe leaders cry for help, warn country faces collapse

By Lebo Nkatazo
Posted to the web: 26/03/2009 09:07:28

KEY figures of Zimbabwe’s nascent power sharing government sent a united cry for help to the international community on Wednesday, warning: “If you don’t help us now, our country will collapse.”
Finance Minister Tendai Biti said “the consequences of failure would be drastic” and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara warned that “if we do not get balance of payments support, this government will collapse and the people will be the victims”.
President Robert Mugabe, speaking after a meeting with Norway’s Minister of Environment and International Development Erik Solheim said he felt “in rhythm” with his opposition rivals, emphasising the need for foreign help to revive the country’s ruined economy and “establish peace among the people, for them to work together and avoid violence”.
A Southern African Development Community (SADC) heads of state meeting set for the weekend will discuss a US$2 billion emergency rescue package for Zimbabwe. That rescue package and other long term investment couldn’t come soon enough, Biti warned.
"For the good of Africa and Zimbabwe, the inclusive government must work because the consequences of failure are drastic," Biti said.
Western countries, notably Britain and the United States, have imposed “benchmarks” which they say they want met before lifting sanctions against Zimbabwe. The sanctions were imposed before Mugabe was joined by new Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Mutambara in the inclusive government.
Mutambara said: “Here is our message to the international community. Hear us on this one — Americans, British or whoever you are — we are determined to make this agreement work. It is irreversible. Please do not give us conditions like we are waiting for signs . . . if we do not get balance of payments support this government will collapse and the people will be the victims.
"… we are saying remove any type of sanctions you have imposed. When you impose sanctions, you impose them on Cde Tsvangirai. You undermine the efforts of the Prime Minister. It is not for the Americans or British to judge us."
The United States said this week it needed a “very, very clear indication that the country's new unity government is moving in the right direction" before lifting a decade-long sanctions regime which was recently renewed by new US President Barack Obama.
Mutambara said Obama’s move was borne out of “ignorance and arrogance”. Biti expressed fears the government would crumble even before it meets the Western conditions for the resumption of direct financial aid.
"We need some breathing space so that we deal with mandate issues so the international community should not put walls through these benchmarks," said Biti, Tsvangirai’s top aide in the government.
Mugabe said his government wanted the economic sector “to become viable, our factories to get moving and the mines to start producing the various minerals found in the country”.
"At the moment, we feel in partnership with those who have joined the government. It is smoothly running, it is now in our rhythm. It’s like tradition. I am working with Prime Minister Tsvangirai as my brother.”
But he warned any aid should not carry too many conditions.
“We would want to say if it comes, it must come in friendly terms, we must be equal in status and we do not have to go on our knees for them. We only do that for one person and that person is up there (God).
"If they do not accept that we are a sovereign country, they can still go hang.”
Mugabe rejected reports of new farm invasions, saying the government was facing resistance from white farmers who were refusing to vacate properties legally acquired by the government.
Hopeful signs for Zimbabwe this week came by way of new figures showing consumer prices fell in January and February after the government let shops use hard currency and abandon the worthless local money.
Data from the Central Statistical Office (CSO) showed inflation at -3.1 percent on a monthly basis in February and -2.3 percent in January. They were the first figures using U.S. dollars so there was no annual comparison.
The previous official figures showed inflation at 231 million percent in July, but economists said it rose far higher. The last time official figures showed a month on month fall in inflation was in mid-2005.
Shops, which had been hit by a June 2007 price freeze, are now fully stocked and prices of basic goods like bread, meat, flour and maize meal have fallen as much as 50 percent from December levels.
But without international aid to stabilise an economy grappling with unemployment of more than 90 percent and shortages of foreign exchange to pay salaries and critical imports, the recent gains could be reversed with dire consequences for a country struggling to find stability for the first time in a decade.


Christian women and men speak out against gender-based violence


"Women and Men united to end violence against women and girls" was the vision discussed during a lunch-time lecture at the Ecumenical Centre in Geneva, Switzerland on 12 March.

Following an introduction into the topic by Sarah Davies of the World YWCA, Marlon Zakeyo, who is a human rights lawyer from Zimbabwe, and Professor Vera Baboun of the University of Bethlehem spoke about the challenge to address violence against women when the public opinion is completely focused on so-called "big politics".

The event was co-organized by the World Council of Churches, World Alliance of Reformed Churches, Lutheran World Federation, Ecumenical Women’s Group in Geneva and the World YWCA.

Listen to the presentations by Zakeyo and Baboun (25 min)

Read more about the event on the World YWCA website

WCC work on Women in church and society

Decade to Overcome Violence

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Zimbabwe prisoners starve to death as service collapses

By Violet Gonda
23 March 2008

A major humanitarian crisis is unfolding in Zimbabwe’s prisons, due to lack of food and a total break down of the prison service. It’s reported that inmates ravaged by disease and hunger are ‘dying like flies’ with no solution in sight. This is happening while the ‘chefs’ continue to splash out millions of dollars on fancy cars for themselves.Although access to the prisons is restricted, reports from relatives and friends of inmates have exposed the dire situation. This past week an estimated 1,300 people at Harare Central Prison were left to starve, as the prison ran out of food completely.
While some relatives and friends are providing a vital lifeline for their loved ones by taking in much needed food regularly, the prison service is now relying heavily on donations of soya beans and mealie meal to feed the general prison population. A rights activist, speaking on condition of anonymity on Monday, said the inmates at Harare Central are fed just once a day, at around 3pm, and on Sunday they had a few soya beans, with nothing else. We were not able to get prison authorities to confirm the situation, but our source said about 10 inmates are dying everyday at Harare Central Prison alone. “It’s pretty shocking when we’ve got between 1,300 and 1,500 prisoners in a prison and there is no food to feed them. If you are in the bush you can forage, but in a prison there is not much you can do if you are not getting food,” the activist said.
Many prisoners have suppressed immune systems, due to HIV infection, a situation that is worsened by lack of proper food. It’s also reported there is no coal for the boilers at Harare Central and so inmates are cutting down trees on the side of the road for firewood. Our source said: “I don’t know how the prisoners are able to cut down the trees because if you look at some of them on the side of the road, their legs are about the size of a woman’s wrist.”
MDC official Roy Bennett, who spent a month in Mutare Remand Prison, said it’s a major humanitarian disaster. “There is absolutely nothing in the prisons. Prisoners get one meal a day – a piece of sadza the size of your hand and water with salt in it. Those prisoners who do not have relatives or people outside supporting them are in worse conditions – or look like those emaciated, skeletal bodies we saw during the holocaust. Basically it is a human rights tragedy and a serious abuse of human rights.”He said that five people died while he was there, in the most terrible circumstances, ‘unconscious and defecating in their blankets.’An additional horror is the fact that because of the general break down of the prison system, dead bodies are not removed immediately. Bennett said, “They sit in the laundry, there is no mortuary. Most of them sit there for four days – one sat for five days. They had to put them in plastic bags.” Many detainees are in prison without ever having been convicted in a court of law, which has exacerbated the overcrowding conditions in remand prisons. On numerous occasions prison authorities have failed to take the detainees to court because of the fuel shortages.
Meanwhile, the pressure group Sokwanele is appealing to well wishers to donate food to Harare Central Prison. The group said donations can be sent to Chaplain Kurida on +263 4 793891 extension 163. Sokwanele said: “Please give what you can: especially beans, vegetables, mealie meal, salt and soap. The soap is to help clean the cells and prevent the spread of infections and diseases - the prisoners have weakened immune systems from nutrition-poor diets and are exposed to horrific conditions.”

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

Grace Mugabe gets diplomatic immunity for assault charge

By Lance Guma
23 March 2009

First Lady Grace Mugabe will escape prosecution from charges that she assaulted a British photographer in Hong Kong, after she was granted diplomatic immunity. In January Grace flew into a rage after Richard Jones took pictures of her as she left the five-star Kowloon Shangri-la Hotel, with a female friend and a bodyguard. The bodyguard pinned the photographer to the ground while the first lady struck him repeatedly in the face. A diamond encrusted ring she was wearing caused cuts to his face. But on Sunday authorities in Hong Kong confirmed long held fears that Grace was entitled to diplomatic immunity, as the wife of a sitting head of state.
The photographer reacted furiously to the decision saying; ‘I think it’s a disgrace for the Hong Kong government to allow a person to walk on a street in Hong Kong, punch a member of the media, and walk free from it.
This is a town where the freedom of the media is a strong tradition,’ he told the AFP news agency. Michael Vidler, the lawyer representing Jones, said they had secured CCTV footage and statements from witnesses, which was enough to provide strong evidence against Grace in court. They also felt the lacerations to Jones face were serious enough to warrant a charge of ‘wounding’ rather than the more minor ‘common assault’ charge.

Although Hong Kong is a self governing territory, matters relating to defence and foreign affairs are controlled by China. In this case Hong Kong’s Department of Justice issued a statement saying: ‘Grace Mugabe is not liable to arrest or detention, and enjoys immunity from prosecution,’ and that these rights fall under Chinese regulations on diplomatic immunity and privileges. However Michael Sheridan, who is the Far East correspondent for the Sunday Times newspaper, said ‘diplomatic immunity should not be a shield for unacceptable and illegal behaviour.’

While over half the country faces starvation, Grace has been accused of regularly raiding the Reserve Bank for hundreds of thousands of United States dollars to fund her lavish shopping trips abroad. The Mugabe’s were also reported to have bought an expensive mansion in Hong Kong, although they denied this. Their daughter Bona Mugabe is also alleged to be attending a university in Hong Kong, despite denials from the Universities there. She is thought to be studying under a false name.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

Thursday, March 19, 2009

“Blood diamonds” team starts probe

March 19, 2009

HARARE (SAPA) - An international group is in Zimbabwe to investigate allegations of mass murder by government soldiers in a diamond field in the east of the country, state media reported on Wednesday.
The mission from the Kimberley Process (KP), the United Nations-founded body to monitor the trade in so-called “blood diamonds” arrived on a fact-finding mission on Monday and was due on Tuesday to visit the notorious Chiadzwa diamond field about 80km south of the eastern city of Mutare, the government-controlled daily Herald said.

The KP has established a system of international diamond trading which bans the sale of diamonds that have been exploited in “conflict areas” or where diamonds are used to prop up violent regimes.
The Chiadzwa area has been the centre of controversy since October last year when hundreds of soldiers from President Robert Mugabe’s army were deployed to drive off thousands of wildcat diggers and panners who invaded the area. There have been widespread reports of random killings of hundreds of diggers and of mass graves.
“No one was killed in the operation,” Mining Minister Obert Mpofu was quoted on Wednesday as saying, adding that the “high level of criminality” led to three murders among diggers.
He said that Zimbabwe, a signed-up member of the KP, “is committed to the successful implementation of the Kimberley Process, and will provide information on the situation on the ground.” The last inspection by KP officials was in 2006.
The government 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 since the army was deployed there, the area has been cordoned off to all but security forces.
The soldiers also embarked on a major crackdown on illegal traders who had turned much of the eastern Manicaland province into a thriving economic area from illegal dealing, which saw the streets of Mutare filled with new luxury vehicles as diamond barons flouted their wealth.
However, the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights group said about 5 000 people were arrested during the army operation, with three quarters of them of them showing signs of having been tortured severely.
The Movement for Democratic Change, now in a coalition government with Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party, has 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 dealers themselves.
The state-run Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation has been given exclusive mining rights in the area, but its officials admitted this week that the organisation, like most of Zimbabwe’s bodies, was bankrupt and was “looking for partners” to exploit the fields.

Zimbabwe Times

Dandala: Haul Mugabe before ICC

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe should be hauled before the International Criminal Court (ICC) to explain the "tragic situation" in his country, the Congress of the People (Cope) presidential candidate Mvume Dandala said on Tuesday. "There must be ways by which the rest of humanity can ask questions. I believe the ICC is one of those instruments that can be used," Dandala told reporters in Kliptown, Soweto."Given the tragic situation in Zimbabwe I personally feel that if President Mugabe was taken to the international court ... he would be given a chance to actually explain himself."Dandala said this was his personal view and that Cope was still in the process of clarifying its position on several policy issues.Cope Gauteng Premier candidate Lyndall Shope-Mafole later said that Dandala's views on Mugabe were "consistent, in fact, with the policies of the Congress of the People".Zimbabwe is currently in the throes of a political and economic crisis which has caused instability, severe food shortages and thousands of cholera deaths.More than 91 000 cases of cholera have been reported in the country since the disease broke out last August, killing 4 035, according to latest World Health Organisation (WHO) data published on Monday.The WHO said earlier this month that the outbreak was showing signs of slowing, with the number of cases averaging 4 000 to 4 500 a week compared to peaks of about 8 000 earlier in the outbreak.Zim thanks SA for food aidMeanwhile, Zimbabwe has expressed appreciation to South Africa's government for agricultural inputs made under a Southern African Development Community (SADC) initiative.

During the third session of the Zimbabwe-South Africa joint commission held at the Victoria Falls from Saturday to Monday, the countries discussed ways of supporting the recovery of Zimbabwe's productive sectors.This included the opening of lines of credit, export credit insurance, spatial development initiatives and trade facilitation measures, they said in a joint communique issued on Monday.The Zimbabwean delegation to the talks was led by its Foreign Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, while South Africa's was led by his counterpart Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.During the talks, the countries agreed to finalise negotiations on the bilateral investment promotion and protection agreement, the memorandum on economic cooperation and the avoidance of double taxation agreement, according to the communique.They also agreed to enhance cooperation in the generation and distribution of power, with the establishment of a joint working committee to discuss technical details.Accord was reached on the enhancement of production in the mining sector, the beneficiation of minerals, the finger-printing of precious metals and the harmonisation of mining policies to attract investment.South Africa and Zimbabwe were furthermore in one mind on the need to finalise negotiations on a draft protocol on tourism and establish a bilateral tourism technical committee ahead of the 2010 Fifa World Cup and with a eye on the Transfrontier Conservation Parks.The countries exchanged views on collaborating to combat infectious diseases and other health management issues, labour migration, human settlement development and housing, public service administration, arts and culture, youth, gender and community development.They also advanced discussions on long standing immigration matters between the two countries.They further resolved to work together on Zimbabwe's re-engagement with the international community and in the lobbying for the lifting of economic sanctions. -- Sapa

Denmark to revive ties with Zimbabwe

March 17, 2009
By Raymond Maingire

HARARE – Denmark has moved to resuscitate relations with Zimbabwe after closing its embassy in Harare and freezing development aid in response to the disputed re-election of President Robert Mugabe seven years ago.
Danish Minister for Development Cooperation Ula Toernas is in Zimbabwe on a brief official visit to assess the country’s dire humanitarian situation as well as prescribe possible ways to mitigate the crisis.
Toernas told journalists Tuesday her visit was also intended to renew her country’s lost ties with Zimbabwe which collapsed in 2002.
She said Denmark was encouraged by the recent formation of an all inclusive government by President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF and the two formations of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
The deal prescribed a roadmap to end a decade-long political and economic crisis which has spawned massive starvation and pushed 94 percent of the population out of formal employment.
Toernas described the unity government as a very important step towards resuscitating her country’s broken ties with Zimbabwe.
“You agreed within the political parties to form the government and you also agreed on a road map on how to fulfill the global political agreement,” she said.
“I see this as a very important step forward and as a new opportunity for Zimbabwe to open up.”
On Tuesday afternoon the Danish minister met acting Prime Minister Thokozani Khuphe who described her visit as a sign of satisfaction by the international community the unity government was operational.
“This is a good sign to show that the inclusive government is working very well,” she said to journalists.
“People out there have realised that this inclusive government is genuine and we would like to move the country forward.
“They (Denmark) have demonstrated to us that they are willing partners and that they have discovered that Zimbabwe is a changed country now.”

Toernas will on Thursday also meet Finance minister, Tendai Biti as well as Lands and Rural Resettlement minister, Herbert Murerwa.
The Danish government abruptly closed its embassy in Harare in 2002 and froze all development aid to the country which in 2001 was estimated at 120 million crowns, then a generous Z$14 million.
This was in reaction to the disputed re-election of President Mugabe in 2002 who beat his main rival Morgan Tsvangirai of MDC by more than 400 000 votes.
Denmark cited alleged electoral fraud coupled with violence which left more than 100 mostly MDC supporters brutalized by Zanu-PF followers and war veterans, hitherto a militant support base for the 85-year-old leader.
This was followed by the imposition of a travel ban to EU countries on Mugabe and more than 200 government and Zanu-PF officials.
The EU also accused Mugabe of blocking the deployment of its election observation mission which Mugabe accused of being biased against his party.
The European Union in January this year further tightened its sanctions on Mugabe and his sympathisers, freezing the assets of their companies based in British tax havens for the first time.
The rich bloc accused government of being directly responsible for the suffering of Zimbabweans in which more than 4 000 people have died of the cholera epidemic in less than eight months while more than 91 000 have been affected.
The EU also cited alleged human rights violations by government which had culminated in the abduction and detention of dozens of human rights and MDC activists.
Early last month, the European Union said it would not immediately lift sanctions against Zimbabwe until the new unity government fully complies with the terms of a power-sharing deal.
But Mugabe, who pleaded with his old rivals in the MDC to vigorously campaign against sanctions, prayed other less radical EU countries would not wait for an official declaration by the EU to renew their relationship with Zimbabwe.

“There are other ways also we can pursue,” he said, “diplomatic relations with other countries, some of the countries in the European Union which will want to have relations with us.
“And if they can start breaching those sanctions and cooperating with us in our economic field that would lead to the sanctions being undermined and eventually getting lifted.”

Friday, March 6, 2009

'Women bear brunt of Zimbabwe’s crisis'

Friday, 6 March, 2009

International Women’s Day is celebrated on March 8 every year to mark the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future. WRS’s Pete Forster takes a look at the status of women in one of the most difficult political and economic environments in the world: Zimbabwe. He spoke to Rutendo Hadebe from The Women’s Coalition, a group of Zimbabwean women’s rights organisations.

To listen to the interview, click link below:

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Mukoko and 12 other political detainees granted bail

By Violet Gonda
2 March 2009
13 MDC and civic activists, who had been abducted between the months of October and December last year, have finally been granted bail. The bulk of the activists were granted bail last Friday, but Jestina Mukoko, the Director of the Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP), was granted bail on Monday. Lawyer Alex Muchadehama said a group of 16 people had been in police custody on allegations relating to plots of banditry and terrorism. 13 were granted bail and three are still appealing for bail in the High Court. Those three are MDC Security Officer Chris Dlamini, Morgan Tsvangirai’s former aide Gandhi Mudzingwa and photo-journalist Shadreck Anderson Manyere.
Muchadehama said of the 13 only seven have been able to meet the stringent bail conditions and are therefore free, while the remaining six are still in police custody as they have not been able to fulfill the bail conditions. The lawyer said they were ordered to provide title deeds of US$20 000, surrender their passports, pay a bail fee of US$600 and report to the police twice a week.So far only Mukoko, Broderick Takawira (also from the ZPP), Fidelis Chiramba and four others have been able to meet these bail conditions. He said the other six either don’t have travel documents or title deeds worth US$20 000.Muchadehama said for the last few months the police have denied knowing the whereabouts of about 10 other missing persons. But they have now said they will release these missing persons if the defence team drops court applications asking police to release them. This makes no sense but is apparently what the police are insisting upon. “If you withdraw applications seeking to identify where they are, they (police) were also prepared to release those people unconditionally. Without taking them to court, without charging them - notwithstanding whatever number they are, they said they are prepared to release them.” Muchadehama added.

He said the public prosecutor indicated to them that the Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee and the President had directed the Attorney General to release the detainees. He said this is clear proof that there had never been any substance to the allegations of terrorism by the State but pure ‘political gamesmanship’. Muchadehama said: “This is not the rule of law, this is not justice. It’s politics taken to the wrong forum.”Those granted bail were: Concillia Chinanzavana, Manuel Chinanzvavana, Fidelis Chiramba, Violet Mupfuranhewe, Colin Mutemagawu, Pieta Kaseke, Audrice Mbudzana, Broderick Takawira, Zacharia Nkomo, Chinoto Zulu, Regis Mujeyi and Mapfumo Gautsa and Mukoko.

Meanwhile the MDC Deputy Minister of Agriculture designate Roy Bennett remains in jail.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

Zimbabwe needs the church

A church network can deliver the aid that Zimbabwe desperately needs better than any foreign NGO

Richard Dowden
26.02.2009, Guardian UK

When states and institutions collapse in Africa through war or bad government, or when a government stops outsiders travelling, the churches become the only source of support and hope. Like the monasteries in bad times in medieval Europe, they become bastions of safety as well as providers of food and medical care. Unlike the foreign NGOs whose workers have to pull out when the going gets tough, church workers are usually local people, so the churches and their humanitarian operations never close.

In Congo in the war in the early 1990s I found one parish that was operating as a clinic, school, food store and feeding centre, hotel, shop, post office, airline, workshop, garage – and church. Even soldiers completely out of control are sometimes too frightened of the churches' spiritual power to attack or loot them. In Zimbabwe, foreign NGOs have found their work obstructed by the government and food aid has been persistently diverted to areas that support Mugabe and away from those in greatest need. NGO workers have been prevented from travel because they report back on repression by the security forces.

The aid donors are not providing help on the scale it is needed. They have decided to hang back until they can judge whether the new unity government is going to work before stepping in with a major rescue plan for Zimbabwe. That is probably the right decision. If they injected cash into the government at this stage it would probably be seized by Zanu PF.
The appeal by Britain's two leading Anglican churchmen for aid to Zimbabwe means that money raised will reach the people quickly with very low overhead costs. My question is why, when the Anglican communion has Christian Aid, already a well-established aid agency with a track record of delivery in such circumstances, did they issue an appeal for the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel? And why did they not launch an appeal with church leaders from other denominations?

Zimbabwe certainly needs our help, with millions surviving on one meagre meal a day – if that. More than half the population is reckoned to be needing food aid. Cholera has affected 80,000 people and some 4,000 have died. Hospital workers on strike, unable to survive themselves on their ridiculously low wages made meaningless by hyperinflation, are now being paid to work by some of the churches and NGOs.

Too much newsprint has been devoted in the British press to the fate of the white farmers of Zimbabwe, reinforcing Africans' view that white life in Africa is more important to Britain than the lives of Africans. It also helps Mugabe in his propaganda war against Britain and his fantastical claims that Britain is only interested in its own people and wants to recolonise the country. The loss of the whites is great and catastrophic for the Zimbabwe economy but their physical circumstances are not as dire as those of many Africans. This appeal is for people who really need our help.

Tsvangirai, Mugabe & Mutambara meet to finalise appointments

By Tichaona Sibanda2 March 2009

Party principals to the Global Political Agreement met in Harare on Monday and agreed on a process that would see the appointments of permanent secretaries, provincial governors and ambassadors in the next two weeks.Robert Mugabe, Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara all agreed on a process that would see an equitable distribution of all senior government positions. That process is being overseen by the Prime Minister, with help from his deputies, Thokozani Khupe and Mutambara.

James Maridadi, the Prime Minister’s spokesman, confirmed the process of identifying potential candidates for all senior government posts has started. It is believed Tsvangirai will consult with Mugabe on the final list before the new appointments are made public. In the spirit of the GPA, the principals agreed also to revisit the issue of the Reserve Bank Governor, Gideon Gono and Attorney General Johannes Tomana.

A source told us the Prime Minister requested from the public service commission all curriculum vitae’s of current permanent secretaries and those that were appointed last week, but whose appointments have now been nullified. Members from the MDC have also sent in their CV’s to be considered for the senior positions.

Another source told us a formula that is likely to be used by the principals is that where a minister is from ZANU PF, a permanent secretary will also be appointed from within ZANU PF ranks. If the minister is from the MDC, then the permanent secretary will also be MDC.It is believed the Prime Minister has also requested information regarding the procedures used when appointing ambassadors and junior diplomatic postings.
Newsreel is reliably informed that the Prime Minister wrote a letter to Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi last week, asking about the number of diplomats posted outside the country.
A source in the Foreign Affairs Ministry told us the minister was tasked to give a detailed report on how long each ambassador has been posted abroad, when they are due back home and how many times each diplomat had been posted outside since joining the ministry.

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

Makoni, Mandaza do battle over funds

HARARE (Financial Gazette) - A bruising fight between presidential hopeful in the March 2008 elections, Simba Makoni, and academic, Ibbo Mandaza, for the control of Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn (MKD) has sucked in the Swedish government after it emerged that the Swedes funded the project to the tune of over US$25,000 in a bid to unseat President Robert Mugabe.

The latest revelations could spark a diplomatic furor between Harare and Stockholm at a time Zimbabwe is re-engaging the international community to get its economy back on track. The law only allows political parties to get funding through Parliament and not from foreign donors to avoid interference in the country’s domestic affairs.
Mandaza, the project’s national coordinator, and Makoni crossed swords last year over the allocation of resources and the alleged failure by the former finance minister to transform MKD into a fully-fledged political party.

MKD’s provincial executives then passed a vote of no confidence in Makoni, demoting him to an ordinary card-carrying member while instituting investigations into how resources donated to the movement were used. Issues came to a head when Makoni allegedly took away all printing business from Mandaza’s company, SAPPHO, and awarded the contract to ART Corporation. Sensing this was going have an immediate financial impact on his printing business, Mandaza wrote to Makoni on October 30 2008 urging him to come clean on the donations he may have received as the movement’s presidential candidate.

Mandaza tried to play down the Swedish Embassy’s role in capacitating MKD saying the money from the Swedes came through a contract between his company, Southern African Political Economic Series (SAPES), and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA).
This was after Makoni had reportedly queried and threatened to fire Mandaza over SIDA’s donation, prompting the latter to engage AMG Global Chartered Accountants to draw up an income and expenditure statement which exonerated Mandaza from any wrongdoing.
“Notwithstanding what you have been told by our mutual friend at the Embassy, please note that the Agreement is between SIDA and SAPES Trust; and obviously, it is was an arrangement that took into account during that period, the fact that Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn was being run from SAPES premises at 26 Deary Avenue, Belgravia.

The Financial Gazette discovered that the mutual friend being referred to was Sweden’s Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Sten Rylander.
Documents seen by this newspaper show that SAPES Trust contributed immensely to the birth of the MKD, providing offices and secretarial services from January 3 2008 to mid-April 2008, attending to the movement’s concerns, printing posters and fliers among other duties to the tune of US$30 096.50
In the documents, Mandaza said: “Of great significance here is the fact that all the US$25,385 was spent on work directly related to Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn, against a budget provided to SIDA on 6 March 2008. In fact, such expenditure exceeded the budget by US$14,364.43 including the US$9,996, an amount MKD refused to pay SAPPHO Printing for the pre-printing work for the job subsequently completed at ART Corporation.

“Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn might have had enormous logistical problems were it not for the support rendered by the SAPES Trust, a task no doubt greatly facilitated and aided by the SIDA contribution. This was a period during which most estate agents and even hotels and public places were afraid to be associated with the movement that was challenging Zanu-PF. In the final analysis, only SAPES Trust and Rainbow Tourism Group provided space for meetings and those press briefings by Simba Makoni. Likewise, SIDA was one of the very few international organisations and the Swedish Embassy in Harare that gave Mavambo/ Kusile/Dawn both moral and material support.”
SAPES is said to have contributed at least US$30 096.50 plus US$12 364 which was said to be a deficit for the printing costs at SAPPHO.
Contacted for comment, Rylander said he had nothing to do with the issue, but pressed further, he opened up a little.
Although he denied having direct links with the MKD, he agreed supporting SAPES.
“There are no direct links with the Mavambo project. There was cooperation between us and SAPES and we don’t have any complaints in the manner in which they have handled our funding. We can’t be seen as an embassy to support political movements,” he said.

Mandaza could not be reached for comment.
However, Makoni referred all questions to the movement’s head of communications Godfrey Chanetsa who is aligned to him.
Chanetsa said: “Makoni has referred you to me because he probably doesn’t have a comment at the moment. I am aware of the intense debate over that subject between those mentioned in the documents you may have, but this is costing us as a movement.
“My function was to help campaign and as for the resources, Makoni and Mandaza should know where they got them, but I am sure they were legitimate and we complied with the country’s laws. Major political parties supposedly get funding from Parliament and that’s the law. This whole thing is costing us. I don’t think that we agreed that after the presidential election we waste a lot of time and energy throwing dirty linen in public.”

Monday, March 2, 2009

UN urges global community to assist Zim

Herald Reporter
02 March 2009
THE United Nations inter-agency humanitarian mission that was in Zimbabwe last week has urged the international community to support and strengthen relief efforts by humanitarian organisations in the country.In a statement from the UN Headquarters in New York, Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and deputy emergency relief co-ordinator Ms Catherine Bragg — who led the mission to Zimbabwe — said the most acute manifestations of the situation included the cholera outbreak.The outbreak has already claimed over 3 000 lives."Despite tremendous efforts by both the Government and the humanitarian community in Zimbabwe to contain the cholera epidemic, major challenges remain," she said.Ms Bragg said there was need for continued assistance and resources to help Zimbabweans improve national food security."We have to ensure farmers have all the agricultural inputs they need for the next planting season, which begins in September. If we do not act now, we could end up next year with a situation similar to what we have today," Ms Bragg said.According to the statement, members of the mission noted the international community’s continued generosity to the people of Zimbabwe, saying additional resources will be required in the coming months to respond to the evolving situation in Zimbabwe.They stressed the need to start planning for early recovery, noting that rehabilitation of the basic infrastructure was required."To effectively contain cholera, water and sewage systems need to be urgently repaired coupled with a public health outreach campaign that goes down to the district and ward level," the statement said.President Mugabe met the mission last week and expressed his appreciation for the support Zimbabwe has been receiving from the humanitarian community.The mission also described their meeting with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and several Cabinet ministers as positive while it received assurance of full co-operation with the UN and its partners.It, however, stressed that the welfare of the people was largely the responsibility of the Government of Zimbabwe."We trust that the inclusive Government will quickly take the necessary steps to address the fundamentals of governance that would allow stability and economic recovery," the mission added.Addressing journalists at the end of the mission last week, Ms Bragg said the UN required a total of US$500 million to assist Zimbabwe with its humanitarian needs.Other members of the mission included Daniel Lopez Acuna, World Health Organisation director of recovery and transition programmes; Robin Nandy, senior health advisor at Unicef; Andrew Colin Parker, senior water and sanitation advisor with Unicef; and Timo Pakkala, the World Food Programme deputy regional representative.

British bank accused of propping up Mugabe regime

By Alex Bell
27 February 2009

A British bank currently operating in Zimbabwe has been accused of propping up Robert Mugabe, reportedly by transferring money directly to the dictator’s regime.
The accusations by the UK’s Foreign Office were made in internal British government emails last year, which showed concern about the involvement of Standard Chartered Bank in Zimbabwe. According to the emails, seen by the UK’s Telegraph newspaper, an internal Foreign Office briefing document accuses the bank of diverting money directly to Mugabe’s government, through a loans scheme.
According to the Telegraph, the one email, dated August 25 2008, says: “Standard Chartered risks real reputational damage if seen as passing funds to the Government of Zimbabwe.” A further email from July last year accuses banks operating in the country of ‘propping up’ Zimbabwe’s Reserve Bank, which has a notorious reputation for diverting funds to Mugabe’s cronies. The August email even suggests that Standard Chartered should close its operations in the crisis ravaged country, reading: “We should ask the companies to take a long hard look at what they are doing and with whom.”
UK leaders have been particularly critical of Mugabe and in turn, Mugabe has repeatedly voiced his hatred of such Western powers. However the emails will likely cause more embarrassment for the British government as the bank, up until last month, was run by the recently appointed UK Minister of Trade and Investment.
Standard Chartered Bank Zimbabwe is 100% owned by Standard Chartered UK, but because it operates as a Zimbabwean registered company, its operations are not governed by EU targeted sanctions against the Mugabe regime - which effectively cut all financial ties with the dictator and his known associates and supporters. According to a British opposition MP who obtained the emails, British banks have been able to ‘circumvent’ the sanctions restrictions by operating through Zimbabwean based companies. The MP has said the revelations “demonstrate just how weak and inadequate the sanctions rules have been - and the hypocrisy of the Government.”
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

2008 Human Rights Report: Zimbabwe

US Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
2008 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices
February 25, 2009

Zimbabwe, with a population of approximately nine million, is constitutionally a republic, but the government, dominated by President Robert Mugabe and his Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) since independence, was not freely elected and was authoritarian. The last four national elections--the presidential election in 2002, the parliamentary elections in March 2005, the harmonized presidential and parliamentary elections in March 2008, and the presidential run-off in June--were not free and fair. In the March 29 elections two factions of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) gained a parliamentary majority. Mugabe was declared the winner of the June 27 run-off election after opposing candidate Morgan Tsvangirai withdrew due to ZANU-PF-directed violence that made a free and fair election impossible. Negotiations subsequently took place between ZANU-PF and the two MDC factions aimed at agreement on a power-sharing government. On September 15, all three parties signed a power-sharing agreement under which Mugabe would retain the presidency and Tsvangirai would become prime minister-elect; however, the provisions of the deal had not been implemented by year's end. Although the constitution allows for multiple parties, ZANU-PF, through the use of government and paramilitary forces, intimidated and committed abuses against opposition parties and their supporters and obstructed their activities. The Joint Operation Command (JOC), a group of senior security and civilian authorities, maintained control of the security forces, and often used them to control opposition to ZANU-PF.

The government continued to engage in the pervasive and systematic abuse of human rights, which increased during the year. The ruling party's dominant control and manipulation of the political process through violence, intimidation, and corruption effectively negated the right of citizens to change their government. Unlawful killings and politically motivated abductions increased. State-sanctioned use of excessive force increased, and security forces tortured members of the opposition, student leaders, and civil society activists with impunity. Security forces refused to document cases of political violence committed by ruling party loyalists against members of the opposition. Prison conditions were harsh and life threatening. Security forces, who regularly acted with impunity, arbitrarily arrested and detained the opposition, members of civil society, labor leaders, journalists, demonstrators, and religious leaders; lengthy pretrial detention was a problem. Executive influence and interference in the judiciary continued. The government continued to evict citizens and to demolish homes and informal marketplaces. The government continued to use repressive laws to suppress freedoms of speech, press, assembly, association, academic freedom, and movement. Government corruption remained widespread. High-ranking government officials made numerous public threats of violence against demonstrators and members of the opposition. A nearly three-month ban on the activities of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) exacerbated food insecurity and poverty. After the ban was lifted, security forces, war veteran groups, and provincial governors continued to interfere with NGO operations, hampering food distributions. Tens of thousands of citizens were displaced in the wake of election-related violence and instability, and the government impeded NGOs' efforts to assist them and other vulnerable populations. The following human rights violations also continued: violence and discrimination against women; trafficking of women and children; discrimination against persons with disabilities, ethnic minorities, homosexuals, and persons living with HIV/AIDS; harassment and interference with labor organizations critical of government policies; child labor; and forced labor, including of children.