Monday, May 25, 2009

Calls to ban Zimbabwe’s blood diamonds

By Michael Deibert

PARIS, IPS - Amid allegations of human rights abuses and government corruption, international calls are growing to ban or restrict the trade in diamonds from politically unstable Zimbabwe.

Concern has focused on the eastern province of Manicaland, home to the vast Marange diamond fields in the district of Chiadzwa.
In early April, the World Federation of Diamond Bourses (WFDB), which seeks to organise world diamond exchanges under a common set of trading practices, announced that it was advising its 28 affiliated trading houses to ”take all measures necessary to ensure that they do not trade, directly or indirectly, in diamonds originating from the Marange deposit in Zimbabwe”.
Full article on link below...

Friday, May 15, 2009

Media lawyer released on bail

Media Institute of Southern Africa

Harare Magistrate Archie Wochiunga on 15 May 2009 granted prominent media and human rights lawyer, Alec Muchadehama bail of US 100 and remanded him out of custody to 28 May 2009. The State represented by Prosecutor Public Mpofu did not oppose the bail application made by Muchadehama’s lawyer, Beatrice Mtetwa.

Muchadehama who is charged for obstructing the course of justice in terms of Section 184(1) of the Criminal Law Codification and (Reform) Act was also asked to report to the police once a week before appearing on 28 May 2009.

Meanwhile, the Law Society of Zimbabwe convened an urgent meeting of its members today at 1245hrs to deliberate on the issue of Muchadehama’s arrest which they described as constituting harassment of members of the legal fraternity. The members resolved to petition the Minister of Justice, the Chief Justice, The Home Affairs Minister and the Attorney General. A protest march is scheduled for Tuesday.


The charges arise from allegations that Muchadehama connived with Justice Bhunu’s clerk in facilitating the release on bail of freelance photojournalist, Shadreck Andrisson Manyere from Chikurubi Maximum Prison and Movement for Democratic Change activists Kisimusi Dhlamini and Ghandi Mudzingwa who were under hospital detention at the Avenues Clinic. They were release on 17 April 2009.

Muchadehama was picked up on14 May 2009 from the Magistrates court around 1000hrs by officials from the Harare Central Police Law and Order Section where he spent the whole day and was later moved to Braeside police station where he was detained overnight.

Muchadehama was part of the Defence team representing freelance photojournalist, Shadreck Andrisson Manyere and Movement for Democratic Change activists, Kisimusi Dhlamini and Ghandi Mudzingwa. The defence team facilitated the release on bail of Manyere on both the occasions of 9 April 2009 and recently on the 13 May 2009. On 5 May 2009 Manyere, Mukoko and 14 other alleged saboteurs had their bail conditions revoked by Magistrate Catherine Chimanda who ruled that the court had no jurisdiction to entertain the matter. She also ruled that the indictment of the accused automatically suspended their bail and consequently remanded them in custody.

Thursday, May 14, 2009


ZIMBABWE Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) is distressed by the arrest on Thursday 14 May 2009 of prominent human rights lawyer, Alec Muchadehama, who has been representing several Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) members and human rights activists, charged with plotting to unseat President Robert Mugabe.
Muchadehama was arrested by one Murimbo and Piwa from Harare Central Police Station’s Law and Order Section, during the discharge of his duties at the Rotten Row Magistrates Courts in Harare on Thursday morning, where he was to attend to four court cases.
The charges that the police are preferring on Muchadehama were not clear at the time of releasing this update.
However, last week ZLHR released an alert exposing a plot involving the Attorney General’s (AG) Office and some police officers in planning to arrest Muchadehama for allegedly facilitating "the improper release" of three political detainees, Andrison Manyere from Chikurubi Maximum Prison and Gandhi Mudzingwa, Kisimusi Dhlamini under hospital detention at the Avenues Clinic on 17 April 2009.

NB: More details will be released soon as we gather more information from our lawyers at Harare Central Police Station.


Three Africa leaders to account for wealth in France

Presidents of oil-producing African countries who are close allies of France are not used to questions being asked about their luxury cars or their homes in chic parts of Paris, but that is changing fast. French anti-corruption activists are trying to prod the justice system into questioning how the leaders of Gabon, Congo Republic and Equatorial Guinea and their families could afford to acquire assets worth tens of millions of euros in France. The evidence is a 2007 police file thick as a brick, listing dozens of bank accounts, properties in rich districts of Paris and on the Riviera, and a collection of Bugattis, Ferraris, Maybachs, Maseratis and a Rolls-Royce Phantom. Two plaintiffs, the French arm of Transparency International and a Gabonese citizen, have asked the French courts to probe how the assets were paid for, alleging embezzlement. The presidents deny this. But the French media have leapt on the story and activists have staged colourful protests for the cameras, like a mock police seizure of some of the posh homes. After French state TV aired a report on its president’s assets last year, Gabon summoned the French ambassador to protest against what it called “a hostile press campaign” — a flavour of how relations could go should the case come to trial.

Legal proceedings

It is now up to a French magistrate to decide whether the NGO and the Gabonese man can be admitted as plaintiffs. The decision is due within the next few weeks and will either halt legal proceedings or trigger a full judicial investigation. A green light would set a precedent for anti-corruption campaigners across the world to tackle sitting presidents. A red light would raise suspicions that some African rulers are protected because of French interests in their countries, despite President Nicolas Sarkozy’s vows to break with the past. “No one can doubt that there are issues of national interest at play ... It’s about France’s energy independence,” lawyer William Bourdon, who represents the plaintiffs, told Reuters.
All three countries are oil and gas exporters. Gabon and Congo Republic are former French colonies where Total is the leading energy producer and many other French firms, public and private, have long-term contracts. Presidents Omar Bongo of Gabon and Denis Sassou-Nguesso of Congo have both enjoyed close ties with successive French rulers and backing from Paris at testing moments of their careers. As a candidate for the presidency, Mr Sarkozy said he wanted to “end complacency, secrets and ambiguities” in relations with Africa, to “get rid of the networks of the past” and to place less emphasis on personal friendships between presidents. At home and in Africa, everyone knew what he meant.

Powerful middlemen

The Elf scandal in the 1990s exposed illegal dealings at the state-owned oil group and complex, mutually dependent relations between French and African politicians and powerful middlemen. Now, the attempt to probe the wealth of such long-standing friends of France as presidents Bongo and Sassou-Nguesso will test Mr Sarkozy’s pledge that things would be different under his rule. “If the justice system is allowed to work freely on this issue, that in itself will represent a break with the past,” said Jean Merckaert of aid group CCFD-Terre Solidaire. He predicted a backlash against French interests in Gabon and Congo if a trial took place, but said he was uncertain whether the government would ever let it get to that stage.
In office, President Sarkozy has been less clear than as a candidate. When Jean-Marie Bockel, secretary of state for development, threatened to halt French aid to African countries with corrupt leaders, he was shifted to veterans’ affairs. His successor, Alain Joyandet, declared that “we want to help the Africans, but there has to be something in it for us”, dismaying aid groups who said that was precisely the kind of approach that had led to corrosive relationships in the past. On the other hand, a politically inconvenient trial centred on arms sales to Angola during that country’s civil war has proceeded freely despite the risk that it could harm French interests in sub-Saharan Africa’s number two oil exporter. Whether or not the case of the three presidents’ assets is allowed to continue, some analysts say that the very fact that the assets are under scrutiny shows how far France has come.

The political climate

“It makes a difference if all of that stuff that used to be swept under the carpet is out in the open,” said Mr Antony Goldman, a risk analyst for clients seeking to do business in Africa. He said disclosure in itself made it less and less acceptable for businesses to go into deals or countries blindly. “If it’s common knowledge in newspapers and on the Internet even back home, it does change the political climate,” he said.

Zimbabwe Students Protest Against North Korean Dictator

Statement from Zinasu
13 May, 2009

The Zimbabwe National Students Union, ZINASU, has said it is disgusted by the presence of Kim Vong Nam, the de facto head of state of North Korea.

In a statement they called for his immediate departure from Zimbabwe.
The statement went further, saying the government had hosted a five star reception for the dictator at state house, at the expense of the hungry and suffering people of Zimbabwe.
They also reminded people that North Korea was the country that trained the notorious fifth brigade, accused of massacring up to 20 000 civilians in Matabeleland in the mid 1980’s.
They added that Kim Vong Nam’s presence in Zimbabwe was an insult to the people of Matabeleland and the people of Zimbabwe in general and they demanded an apology from him for his government’s role in the massacre.
Zinasu said they were also shocked that some of their colleagues, now in government, joined ZANU PF at the airport to welcome the dictator – and they pointed out that although Zimbabwe is in dire need of funds this should not be an excuse to wine and dine well known dictators and human rights violators.
Zinasu also reminded the MDC that exiled Ethiopian dictator, Haile Mengistu, still lives in Zimbabwe – saying that in February this year the MDC said that the issue of Mengistu would be high on the agenda of the inclusive government.
They added that the MDC spokesperson at the time, Nelson Chamisa, had said that Zimbabwe should not be a safe haven or resting place for serial human rights violators like Mr Mengistu and that we should not shelter purveyors of injustice.
Zinasu demanded that the issue of Mengistu be dealt with once and for all by the three principals.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

African Commission urged to undertake fact finding mission to Zimbabwe


The African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights (ACHPR) has been urged to constitute a fact finding mission to visit and assess the situation in Zimbabwe.

In a statement to the 45th Ordinary Session of the ACHPR on 13 May 2009 in the Gambian capital of Banjul, the Executive Director of the African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies (ACDHRS), Hannah Forster said the fact finding mission should comprise the Special Rapporteurs on Human Rights Defenders, Freedom of Expression, Rights of Women, and Refugees as well as the Chairman of the Working Group on Torture.

The statement was delivered by the ACHDRS’s executive director on behalf of participants to the NGO Forum which preceded the ACHPR’s 45th Ordinary Session.

The Banjul Ngo Forum, however, welcomed the formation of the unity government and the ensuing efforts to return to normalcy in both Zimbabwe and Kenya, but noted that respect for freedom of the press continued to be a challenge in Africa with the constant formulation of draconian laws, harassment, intimidation, killings and arbitrary detention particularly in countries such as Angola, Lesotho, Swaziland, Sudan and Zimbabwe.

“We urge the Special Rapportuer for Freedom of Expression in Africa to investigate the discrimination of the media, the existence of redundant laws, especially electoral laws in the aforementioned countries,” said Forster.

She noted that the situation of human rights defenders (HRDs) was cause for concern in Africa with reports of harassment, intimidation and arrests of HRDs in the wake of the existence of restrictive laws curtailing freedom of association and freedom of expression in some African countries.

“The Forum requests the African Commission to urge the African Union to encourage the Government of Zimbabwe to live up to its obligations under the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights and to implement the recommendations contained in the African Commission’s (2002) fact finding report to Zimbabwe as well as recommendations of the United Nations Special Envoy on Human Settlement Issues pertaining to the provision of aid and protection to the victims of the forced evictions and demolitions,” she said.//End//

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Humanitarian Aid or Developmental Assistance?

By Richard Sollom
on April 15, 2009

In a recent letter to the New York Times, I suggested that donor governments maintain targeted sanctions against a small cohort of Zimbabwe’s power elite, but that they should also now provide targeted humanitarian support to the struggling country in transition. Newspaper editors so value brevity but here in the blogosphere, where the real estate is cheap, I’ll elaborate for some added clarity.
Chaos abounds in most news references to humanitarian aid and developmental assistance. Imprecisions in terminology breed poor policy.
Full article on...

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Zimbabwe Alert Update: Independent Journailists Arrested

MISA Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe Independent editors’ Vincent Kahiya and Constantine Chimakure were on 11 May 2009 arrested and are expected to appear in court today (12 May 2009) on charges of publishing or communicating a statement wholly or with the intention of undermining public confidence in law enforcement agents, under the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.

Kahiya and Chimakure presented themselves at the Law and Order Section of Harare Central police station in the morning in the company of their lawyer; Innocent Chagonda after the police searched for them at the Zimbabwe Independent offices on Saturday 9 May 2009. They were interrogated for several hours and made to sign warned and cautioned statements. They were detained at around 17:00hrs and are, according to Chagonda, expected to appear in court ‘sometime today’.

The police alleged that the Central Intelligence Officials and police officers listed in the Zimbabwe Independent as being involved in the abductions of human rights and Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) activists amongst them freelance journalist Shadreck Andrisson Manyere last year, were in actual fact summoned as witnesses by the State .


The story titled, CIO, police role in activists’ abduction revealed, states that notices of indictment for trial in the High Court which begins 29 June 2009, served on some of the activists last week revealed that the activists were either in the custody of the CIO or police during the period they were reported missing.

Amongst those named are CIO Assistant Director External, retired brigadier Asher Walter Tapfumaneyi, Police Superintendents, Reggies Chikwete and Joel Tendere, Detective Inspectors, Elliot Muchada and Joshua Muzangano, CID Homicide Officer Commanding, Crispen Kadenge, Chief Superintendent Peter Magwenzi and Senior Assistant Commissioner, Simon Nyathi.

Kahiya and Chimakure’s arrest follows on the heels of defamation charges levelled against provincial State- controlled daily The Chronicle editor, Brezhnev Malaba and reporter, Nduduzo Tshuma over an article exposing alleged police involvement in maize scandal at the Grain Marketing Board (GMB), published in the paper in February.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Civic groups demonstrate in SA in solidarity with detainees

By staff reporter
6 May 2009

Rights groups held a protest outside parliament in South Africa on Wednesday, demanding the immediate release of all Zimbabwean activists. The demonstration was organised by the Save Zimbabwe Now campaign, the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition and the Zimbabwe Solidarity Forum in South Africa and it was supported by several South African legal and human rights organisation, including the Southern African Liaison Office and the Coalition for Peace in Africa.

The protest was held during the opening of the South African parliament and a petition was also sent to Max Sisulu, the Speaker of Parliament, to draw attention to the continued victimisation of political and human rights activists in Zimbabwe.
The group said: “The opening of Parliament has become a symbol of the commitment of democrats everywhere to consolidating and strengthening the democratisation project of the SADC region and our continent that began in earnest with the fall of apartheid and the election of our first President Nelson Mandela in 1994.We are writing to you on this auspicious occasion to draw to your attention matters of grave concern taking place on our borders with our sister country Zimbabwe.”

Zimbabwean activists granted bail – again

By Violet Gonda
6 May 2009

The political and human rights activists who were re-arrested on Tuesday were freed on bail Wednesday. The bail request was approved by the same Magistrate who had refused to entertain it the day before. In this surprise u-turn, Magistrate Catherine Chimhanda reversed her earlier decision following an agreement with the legal teams. This clearly shows how Mugabe continues to control the rule of law in Zimbabwe as it is believed the Attorney General, Johannes Tomana, consented to the bail as a result of a meeting between Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Mutambara late Tuesday.
Prime Minister Tsvangirai’s spokesperson, James Maridadi, told SW Radio Africa that the Principals agreed in the spirit of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) that the bail conditions that were in place before the activists were re-arrested should be re-instated. He said they also summoned Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa and asked him to implement what they had agreed. Maridadi quoted the GPA, saying ‘people should be free of political persecution and discrimination of any kind.’

Obama condemns jailing of Zimbabwean journalists

By Ntando Ncube
6 May 2009

HARARE - The United States government on Monday urged the government of Zimbabwe to lift restrictions on the media to promote the free flow of information and called on the inclusive government to prioritize media reform ahead of the constitution making process.
A statement released by U.S. Ambassador to Zimbabwe, James McGee launching “Lost Voices” exhibition to mark World Press Freedom Day in Harare said a free and dynamic media remained an important component of his country’s bilateral relations with Zimbabwe.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Human Rights Defenders re-arrested and detained again

Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum Updates

The Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum (ZHRF) is deeply disturbed to learn of the court ruling in Harare today, 5.5.09 by Magistrate Catherine Chimhanda to further incarcerate and remand in custody Jestina Mukoko and other human rights defenders / journalists. A Press Conference on this issue was to take place today in the afternoon at the offices of Zimbabwe Peace Project, the attached invitation refers.This news comes in the wake of a court appearance in Harare Magistrate's Court yesterday, 4.05.09 by Jestina Mukoko and other co-accused. At yesterday's hearing the Magistrate granted the State leave to indict Mukoko and those with whom she is jointly accused.

The Media Alliance of Zimbabwe (MAZ) today 5.5.09 issued the attached Statement about “the re-arrest and detention of human rights defenders, in particular Zimbabwe Peace Project director Ms. Jestina Mukoko and freelance journalist Mr. Andrisson Manyere on charges that can only be considered political”. MAZ states that it will not participate in the Kariba Media workshop (see statements in our mailing of 24.4.09) given this disturbing news.

The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) in conjunction with the Electoral Institute for Southern Africa (EISA) held a conference around the theme of Post Electoral Review and Prospects for Electoral Reform 28 and 29 April. The conference concluded that the transitional government offers the unique opportunity to reform key electoral institutions, democratize the electoral framework and to draw Zimbabweans into a national debate on these issues. A number of documents from the conference are available to read on line via the following web link: .The press statement following the conference is available to read at

Ahead of the anticipated re-opening of schools in Zimbabwe today, Amnesty International released a Press Statement on 1.5.09 about the atmosphere of fear that teachers in the country are working under. Amnesty reports that teachers are being threatened with violence by supporters of ZANU PF. It says those in rural areas, are especially frightened of being singled out as perceived supporters of the MDC and fear a repeat of this brutality in future elections. Amnesty International calls on the teachers' employers, the Public Service Commission (PSC), to work with the Zimbabwe Republic Police to ensure that impartial and independent investigations are carried out into the torture and ill-treatment of teachers and other civil servants that took place between the March and June elections in 2008. The full statement can be found on this link:

The Students Solidarity Trust (SST) issued the April Solidarity newsletter on 4.5.09, providing an overview of all the student activism in Zimbabwe during the month and giving a summary of the charges laid against the students.Today, 5.5.09 the Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU) issued the attached Media Alert calling for the immediate re-opening of the University of Zimbabwe and noting their concern at the silence by the inclusive government on the issue.Also today, 5.5.09 the Lupane chapter of Bulawayo Agenda issued an update following a meeting with residents of the area on the theme of the main successes and challenges of the inclusive government's first days, which we attach.