Tuesday, December 9, 2008

From rags to riches

MUTARE – Douglas Dube was one of the first people to descend on Chiadzwa when word spread that diamonds had been discovered in the arid and impoverished area in Manicaland Province.
Dube, 31, an unemployed father of two, was wallowing in poverty. He could hardly pay rentals for a one-roomed house he lodged in the poor township of Sakubva, Mutare’s oldest high-density suburb.
When word reached him about the discovery of diamonds in Chiadzwa Dube joined thousands of other desperate citizens to Chiadzwa, then an unknown and desolate place.
A few months later Dube’s life had been transformed. Like the old adage Dube’s story was that of rags to riches.
Suddenly he was a proud owner of a Sedan 323 vehicle and an assortment of household properties that he had never dreamt of owning in his lifetime.
Then he moved into more decent accommodation in the city’s middle class high-density suburb of Dangamvura.
But despite his newly acquired status Dube never stopped going to the fields to mine for the precious gems.
Once he got the diamonds from the fields immediately he could sell to buyers who were readily available close to the fields.
The buyers came from all over the world – from South Africa, Mozambique, Nigeria, Guinea, Mauritania, Lebanon, Iraq, Israel and Belgium.
The buyers could part with as much as $US200 a carat – a killing considering one could sell up to 15 carat stones.
Dube’s only impediment was the police and their vicious dogs that could constantly chase them from the fields. But Dube, and thousands others, soon found a way round the problem. They formed syndicates with the police officers manning the fields.
Suddenly poor police officers who earn less than US$10 a month found themselves driving automobiles of all kinds and shapes.
Police launched several operations to rid Chiadzwa of illegal miners but these never yielded results largely because they were seen as superficial exercises meant to hoodwink authorities. Thus, illegal mining continued unabated.
Then two weeks ago Dube was surprised to see helicopters hovering over the diamond fields. Then heavily armed soldiers entered the fields.
That was the beginning of a brutal campaign to remove illegal miners from the fields and also to rid the area of dealers.
Reports then began to filter that bodies of dead panners were piling up at the mortuary at Mutare Provincial Hospital. As of yesterday 19 bodies, in a state of decomposition, had not been claimed by relatives and are still at the mortuary. This prompted the police to make a public call to relatives with missing relatives to visit the mortuary.
“We have 19 bodies at Mutare Provincial Hospital all of the them unidentified from Chiadzwa area and another body from the same area at Old Mutare Hospital. We are appealing to people whose relatives have been missing from Chiadzwa area to go and check with the hospital authorities,” said police spokesman in Manicaland Inspector Brian Makomeke.
“We have a total of 20 unidentified bodies. The hospital authorities have said their mortuary facilities are not working well and the pilling of bodies is straining their facilities. Some of the deceased panners might be foreigners and we are not sure because they all did not have any form of identification. Most of the panners come to Chiadzwa without any form of identification with some coming from as far Bulawayo. There are no forms of identification,” Insp Makomeke said.
An unknown number of bodies were scattered in the forests surrounding the fields. Several died from gunfire wounds while others died from aliments such as cholera.
So brutal was the campaign that it was dubbed Operation Hakudzokwi kumunda meaning Operation you would never go back to the diamond fields.
About 20 000 illegal panners who had made the diamond fields their permanent homes fled in all directions. They had come from all over Zimbabwe. Within a week of the operation there was not a single miner left in the diamonds fields.
Dube was lucky to escape unhurt. But he says it was hell and vowed not to return to the diamond fields as long as the soldiers are there. “I thank my Gods I escaped unhurt,” Dube said a day after arriving in Mutare. “It was hell on earth. The soldiers are shooting to kill.”
Human rights organizations said the army was using heavy-handed tactics to remove the illegal miners and described the operation as “genocide”.
“This is genocide,” said Trust Maanda, regional coordinator of the internationally acclaimed Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights.
Reverend Stephen Maengamhura, regional coordinator of ZimRights, a human rights watchdog said the soldiers were violating human rights. “There is a wholesome violation of rights,” Rev Maengamhuru said.
He said while it was noble to bring order at the fields but it did not warrant the violations of human rights being perpetrated by the soldiers.
Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition weighed in saying the violations should be documented so that the perpetrators will be brought to book once normalcy comes to Zimbabwe.
With the diamond business now history, Dube is likely to return to his old ways – poverty. But perhaps he may offload some of the valuables such as the 323 vehicle and other household goods he had bought if he is to sustain his family.
“I am not employed and this was now my only means of survival,” he says, adding: “I may now be forced to sell what I had bought when I was in Chiadzwa.”
Dube’s story is similar to that of thousands other desperate Zimbabweans who descended on Chiadzwa seeking for instant fortunes.
Professionals were not spared either. Teachers, especially those in schools close to the diamond fields abandoned the chalk and joined the illegal mining business. School children also deserted the classroom to join their teachers. Even factories and industries were left with skeleton staff after workers left for Chiadzwa.
Jonathan Matondo, 37, a senior Mathematics teacher at a secondary school close to Chiadzwa has not reported to duty for almost a year now.
“Why should I suffer when I can easily go to Chiadzwa and become a rich person,” Matondo said. He said if things normalize he could go back to the classroom.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Security agents flush out illegal diamonds dealers from Mutare streets

MUTARE – Security agents have taken their campaign against illegal diamond dealing onto the streets of this eastern border city where they are arresting anybody found in possession of foreign currency.

Several vehicles have been confiscated from suspected diamond dealers and miners.

Those arrested are being taken to the Chiadzwa diamond fields where they are forced to fill up gullies that were left by illegal miners.

The campaign, being spearheaded by the army and the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO), has been round condemned by human rights activists as illegal and inhumane.

The Zimbabwe Republic Police have subordinated themselves in this campaign which has seen about 500 people being rounded up and taken to Chiadzwa.

Trust Maanda, regional coordinator of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) said: “They are taking people without regard to whether they are dealing with diamonds or not. In fact, they are abducting people and commandeering them into ZUPCO buses and taking them to diamond fields of Chiadzwa where they are tortured.”

Maanda added: “We condemned it in the strongest terms. It’s illegal. The process o the law is that if somebody is suspected on reasonable grounds to have committed an offence that person must be brought before a court of law in accordance with the normal procedure not to be taken to Chiadzwa.”

Maanda said the campaign was inhumane and degrading and should be immediately stopped.

“It’s not a sustainable way of dealing with Chiadzwa,” he said. Maanda said assets belonging to suspected diamond dealers and miners have been confiscated by security agents.

He said the security agents were disregarding court orders to return assets they have taken from suspects.

Since Monday soldiers, CIO operatives and police details have been moving around the city centre and high density suburbs rounding up suspected diamond dealers and miners and searching them.

Anybody found in possession of foreign currency especially United States Dollars, British Pounds and South African Rands are immediately arrested.

Then they are taken to Mutare Central police station where ZUPCO buses will take them to Chiadzwa.

By yesterday six bus loads of suspects had been taken to the diamond fields.

One police officer said those taken t the diamond fields to fill up gullies were being denied food and water.

“It’s a disaster,” the police officer, based at Mutare Central police station, said. “People are forced to work for two days without food or water.”

They were reports that female suspects taken to Chiadzwa were being sexual abuse b security agents so as to avoid being beaten up or tortured.

The latest campaign come as soldiers intensified their ruthless operation to flush out illegal miners and dealers from Chiadzwa diamond fields.

Bodies of dead panners and dealer are piling up at Mutare Provincial Hospital while several others are scattered in the forests surrounding the diamond fields.

An unknown number of dead bodies are buried in collapsed tunnels inside the diamond fields.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Community Radio project gathers momentum

AN initiative by Mutare based journalists to set up a community radio station in the eastern border city is gathering momentum.

The community radio station, to be known as Kumakomo Community Radio Station, will broadcast news and events happening in Mutare and its immediate environs.

Community broadcasting is provided for under sections of the Broadcasting Services Act.

“The primary aim of setting up a community radio station in Mutare is to provide residents with a medium of communication,” said Kelvin Jakachira, chairman of Kumakomo Community Radio Station. “We want residents to have a platform to discuss and debate community issues.”

Jakachira, also national executive member of the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists, said the community radio will shun political issues but will dwell exclusively on community issues such as HIV-Aids and other health related matters, farming, cultural issues, social and developmental issues, education, sport and entertainment.

Jakachira said they will soon embark on a massive awareness campaign to inform Mutare residents about community broadcasting.

“We soon will embark on road shows, public meetings and other activities throughout the city to let residents know about this project,” he said. “Residents of Mutare will be the owners of the community radio station.

Jakachira said his committee was happy with the positive responds they have received from community leaders in Mutare.

Other members of the committee include Chengetai Murimwa, a former journalist for the defunct Eastern Star and Tambudzai Zindi, former Manica Post senior reporter.

A board of trustees has already been put in place. It is chaired by Mutare based educationist Daniel Chigudu.

Jakachira said Zimbabwe was one of the few countries in Africa that id not have community radio stations.

He said in countries such as Mozambique and South Africa community radio stations were very popular.

“We can not be left behind in the information highway,” he said, adding: “In these days of advanced information systems community radio can offer some form of media education thereby creating an information culture.”

Jakachira said his committee will go on a fundraising campaign to raise funds for the project. He said the community radio station should be self sustained.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Tears roll down as Shooting Dogs is shown in Mutare

MUTARE – Tears rolled down the cheeks of several young Zimbabweans during the screening of Shooting Dogs, a movie that depicts events of the Rwandan genocide in 1994.
The film was screening at Rainbow Theater in this eastern border city on Monday and will continue showing until this Saturday.
During the course of the movie, several people had tears rolling down their cheeks as they failed to come to terms with chilling scenes of mass killings of people by machete wielding militants.
The film is based on a true story of accounts of the genocide in which close to a million Rwandan from the ethnic minority Tutsis were massacred by Hutu militants.
The Hutu ethnic group consists of more than 80 percent of the population in Rwanda.
The film is based on a true story. An exhausted Catholic priest and a young idealistic English teacher find themselves caught in the 1994 Rwandan genocide. They must now choose whether to stay with the thousands of Tutsis about to be massacred or to flee for safety. The 2500 refugees were eventually abandoned and were all murdered by machete wielding militants.
Shooting Dogs, the film's title, refers to the actions of United Nations soldiers in shooting at the stray dogs that scavenged the dead bodies scattered all over the country’s roadsides.
Since the UN soldiers were not allowed to shoot at the Hutus that had caused the deaths in the first place, the shooting of dogs is symbolic of the madness of the situation that the film attempts to capture.
Those that watched the film in Mutare, Zimbabwe’s third largest city said they could not believe that such atrocities could occur in the presence of armed UN solders.
“Initially, I thought it was just one of those fiction films but when I got to know it was actually based on a true story I broke down,” said Tendai Matondo, a 23-year old man from Sakubva, a poor township in this eastern border city. “I cannot imagine the scale of indiscriminate killing that I watched in this film.”
Joice Mawoko, 21, from Murambi, an up market low density suburb, said she could not help but shed tears. “I have never imagined people can be that cruel to the extent of murdering others to such a scale,” Mawoko said.
Morris Gonda, 38, a community development worker, said events in Rwanda should never be allowed to happen again in a civilised world.
“It was a bitter lesson. Allowing barbaric to take control of any situation is very dangerous and a serious threat to mankind,” Gonda said, also failing to come to terms with what he had seen in the film.
The film was screened in the country at a time when the unstable political situation in Zimbabwe was increasingly being equated to that of Rwanda during the run – up to the genocide.
Romeo Dallaire, the retired Canadian solider who led a depleted UN peacekeeping force in Rwanda in 1994 told a recent peace and security workshop in Pretoria that the situation in the Darfur Region and Zimbabwe was similar to that of Rwanda in 1994.
Paul Kagame, the Rwandan President, whose rebel army stopped the genocide in May 1994 , and took over the country, also joined in saying the situation in Zimbabwe was dangerous and needed a quick solution.
Zimbabwe is going through an unprecedented political crisis which was worsened by presidential elections condemned by the international community as illegitimate. President Mugabe lost the first round to the opposition’s Morgan Tsvangirai but a run-off was called after the opposition failed to garner the required percentage to take office.
The run- off was marred by violence, murder and intimidation resulting in Tsvangirai pulling out and igniting an international outcry.
Mugabe, Tsvangirai and leaders of a breakaway faction of the MDC are engaged in talks aimed at solving the political crisis but a solution has remained elusive amid accusations and counter accusations by the negotiating parties.
In Shooting Dogs after the airplane of the Hutu President of Rwanda is shot down, the Hutu militias slaughter the Tutsi population. In the Ecole Technique Officielle, the Catholic priest Christopher and the idealistic English teacher Joe Connor lodge 2500 Rwandans refugees, under the protection of the Belgian UN force and under siege by Hutu militia. When the Tutsi refugees are abandoned by the UN soldiers, they are murdered by the extremist militia
The movie released in the United States as Beyond the Gates, is a 2005 film, directed by Michael Caton-Jones and starring John Hurt, Hugh Dancy and Claire-Hope Ashitey. It is based on the experiences of BBC news producer David Belton, who worked in Rwanda during the Rwandan Genocide. Belton is the film's co-writer and one of its producers.
Unlike Hotel Rwanda, which was filmed in South Africa using South African actors, the film was shot in the original location of the scenes it portrays. Also, many survivors of the massacre were employed as part of the production crew and minor acting roles.

Diamond dealers wreck peoples marriages

The discovery of diamonds in Marange may have brought fortunes and riches to hundreds of people, most of them who were wallowing in abject poverty, but it has led to an alarming erosion of societal values.
Children and their teachers have abandoned classrooms to camp at Chiadzwa, while workers have also deserted the workshops and factories to search for the precious stones. Women of the oldest profession from across the country have descended on Chiadzwa in search of greener pastures.
But lately, it is the house wives who are deserting their matrimonial homes for diamond dealers and miners who are always awash with money, especially the elusive Greenback and South African Rands.
While it is against Zimbabwean cultural values for married women to engage in extra marital activities in Mutare and Marange diamond dealers and miners are causing havoc at several matrimonial homes.
Research done over the past three months has revealed an alarming numbers of married women who are trekking down to Marange not to sell any wares but to engage in illicit relationships with diamond dealers and miners.
Similarly, most Zimbabwean young women have moved into the homes of foreigners who are in Mutare to buy diamonds.
Most of the buyers are from the Middle East, Belgium , West Africa and North Africa .
The illicit relationships fuelled by the illegal diamond trade have stoked fears of an upsurge in HIV-Aids infections in a country already reeling from the effects of the scourge.
“The biggest problem is that most of the people involved in the diamond business are very informal persons who are prone to casual sexual tendencies,” said Morris Gonda, a community development worker. “These are people who do not know about safe sex and the dangers of multiple sexual partners. What it essentially means is that married women who are involved in illicit love affairs with these guys are exposing their families to the dangers of HIV-Aids and this may have devastating effects to the society at large.”
Gonda said health workers should cast their nets much wider to include diamond dealers and miners to make them aware of the dangers they pose to the communities.
A marriage counsel who refused to be named said their office was failing to cope with the increasing number of couples fighting as a result of cases of infidelity which at most times involves diamond dealers or miners.
“You will always hear that a diamond person is the source of the quarrel between married couples,” said the marriage counsel, a middle aged woman.
A court official at the civic courts in Mutare said on a daily basis they were handling at least five cases of couple divorcing as a result of infidelity involving the wife.
“Its alarming now,” said the court official, “At the rate things are happening it’s almost a crisis now.”
Several people interviewed in Mutare’s poor townships of Sakubva, Dangamvura and Chikanga said they were worried about the level of promiscuity involving married women especially with cash rich diamond dealers and miners.
“They pretend to be going to sell wares in Chiadzwa and the Marange area yet they are involved in love affairs with dealers and gwejas,” said Tendai Mbodza from Sakubva. Illegal diamond miners are commonly referred to as Gwejas.
Abraham Mhlanga from Dangamvura, a middle class township, said he was not surprised most men now do not allow their wives to go to Marange to sell wares.
“Those guys have money,” Mhlanga said, referring to the diamond dealers and miners, “Imagine a person who never even dreamt he will handle $100US holding a wad of $100 000 US . That person can do anything with that money including spending it on women, married or single.”
A clear diamond can fetch up to $2000US per carat depending on the clarity of the stone.
Hundreds of young people are now driving latest vehicles only found on the streets of HollyHood in the United States.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Diamond dealers eastablish powerful cartels


Illegal diamond dealers have now organized themselves into powerful cartels that have become immune to arrest and prosecution despite repeated threats by Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono that they would be brought to book.
This has stoked fears this otherwise quiet eastern border city of Mutare could soon be plunged into a hub of organized crime and lawlessness.
Mutare is close to the Chiadzwa diamond fields in Marange.
Diamond dealers now do their illegal transactions publicly on the streets amid reports the country is losing several millions of United States dollars every week as a resulting of the illegal trading of the precious gems.
The dealers operate in organized groups with some of them armed with small firearms. There have been reports of people being killed after diamond deals went sour.
Three weeks ago a 21-year old man from Chikanga was murdered at a nightspot after a transaction had culminated into a heated dispute.
Police have launched superficial raids at the Chiadzwa diamond fields in Marange, which have only netted small-time miners and dealers.
Up to 2000 people have been arrested since an operation to stem the illegal mining and selling of diamonds was launched in May this year under Operation Restore Order at Chiadzwa.
Only last week about 334 illegal miners and 74 dealers were nabbed under the operation.
The police recovered 334 pieces of diamonds, US$17 295, 7 923 Rands and ZW$ 18 trillion during the operation. Seventy-six vehicles were also impounded during the operation.
Several of those arrested have been brought to court were they were sentenced to jail terms of upwards of two years.
But police sources said only the small players were nabbed leaving behind the barons known to enjoy immunity from both the police and other security organs.
“What we are seeing here is a situation where the bid diamond dealers have become so powerful so much that it is now very difficult of them to be arrested,” said a police officer who participated in the last operation. “These guys have organized themselves into very powerful cartels. We are also now becoming afraid of them because they are above the law.”
The police sources said it was now an open secret that big diamond dealers were greasing the palms of top officers in the force to ensure they are immune from arrest and prosecution.
But police spokesman in Manicaland Province, Brian Makomeke, said the police would thrive to end the illegal mining and trading of the gems.
“We want to want people that Chiadzwa is a protected area and sporadic raids will continue until we have flushed out all diamond dealers and panners,” Makomeke told journalists.
But our sources in the force said there was no will power within the top ranks of the police force to stamp out the menace because they also were benefiting.
“The police is aware of who is involved in this illegal game but they give it a blind eye because they are benefiting big time,” said another police office that has a junior rank.
This comes amid repeated but futile threats by Gono that the illegal mining and trading of diamonds could soon be stamped out.
Illegal buyers of the gems from Europe, the Middle East, Nigeria, Guinea, South Africa and Asia have descended on Mutare and Marange.
The trade in diamonds has transformed the lives of previously poor people to the status of mega rich.

Police nab diamond baron

A diamond baron suspected to have links with the wealthy Mujuru family was arrested after he was found in possession of 262 pieces of diamonds, the largest single haul since the discovery of the gems over two years ago.
The diamonds are estimated by industry experts to be valued at close to US$1, 3 million although the Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe valued them at ZW$52 trillion (US$520).
Misheck Muhwehwesa, a Mutare resident was nabbed in Chiadzwa, Marange two weeks ago after police stopped him at a road block at Mutimba Bridge in Marange.
The diamonds were recovered from his vehicle’s air cleaner. The gems weighed 668 carats. A carat can fetch to as much as US$2000 depending on the clarity of the stone.
Muhwehwesa, 38 of Number 8 Pike Place in Mutare’s medium-density of Yeovil, has since appeared in court and is out on ZW$25 trillion (US$250) bail. Senior Magistrate Billiard Musakwa presided over the bail hearing.
Muhwehwesa’s lawyer, Chris Ndlovu has applied for the discharge of their client arguing the State did not have solid evidence to prove the diamonds belonged to Muhwehwesa.
Muhwehwesa, a renowned diamond dealer, is suspected to have strong links with the country’s Second Family. His connection with the Mujuru family came to light after Muhwehwesa successfully sought the prosecution of a Zanu PF politician and losing candidate for Mutasa South, Sherrington Dumbura, who had allegedly swindled him of an unknown number of diamonds valued at millions of United States Dollars.
Muhwehwesa is said to have approached retired General Solomon Mujuru to have Dumbura arrested and prosecuted. Dumbura is also involved in the illegal diamond trade.
To settle matters and avoid being jailed Dumbura, a lightweight Zanu PF politician in the eastern border city, he ceded several top of the range vehicles and an assortment of other properties. He was immediately freed.
It was not possible to get comment from Mujuru as this correspondent could have easily been identified as working for a publication blacklisted by authorities. Journalists working for online publications such as thezimbabwetimes face great risk if identified and caught.
The arrest of Muhwehwesa come amid growing concern that police operations to quell illegal diamond mining and trading was targeting small players only. Over 2000 have been arrested during the past two months and sentenced to jail terms of up wards of two years each. But it has proved difficult for the police to arrest big players in the mega rich trade.
However, court officials said they were eager to see how Muhwehwesa’s case would be handled given his vast wealth which he allegedly accumulated through the illegal trade in diamonds.
If convicted he faces up to five years in jail.
“This will be very interesting because we have never seen any of the big guys being send to jail,” said one court official. “It will be a precedent if this guy is convicted.”
Top diamond dealers have formed powerful cartels which have become immune to both arrest and prosecution despite repeated threats by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor, Gideon Gono that the long arm of the law was closing in on the illegal dealers and miners.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

MP abducted at gunpoint outside High Court

MUTARE - The whereabouts of Naison Nemadziva, the recently elected Member of Parliament for Buhera South who was abducted at gunpoint gangster-style outside the Mutare High Court on Monday, remain unknown.

Nemadziwa, who represents the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) attended the High Court as defendant. Joseph Chinotimba, the losing Zanu-PF candidate in the constituency in Manicaland Province is petitioning Nemadziva over the result of the March 29 election.

As the MP emerged from the court at around midday, five armed men in army fatigues bundled him into a waiting Toyota Twin-cab truck and drove off at high speed. The vehicle had no registration plates.

One of the abductors was identified allegedly as Colonel Morgan Mzilikazi of the Zimbabwe National Army.

Lawyers representing the MDC filed a report with the police in Mutare. They were told that Nemadziwa had been taken to Muzokomba police station in Buhera. However, the police officers there said they had no idea of the legislator’s whereabouts.

www.thezimbabwetimes.com

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Magistrate defies high court order on Matinenga

RUSAPE – A regional magistrate has defied a High Court order to release incarcerated top lawyer and MDC MP –elect, Eric Matinenga, whop was arrested on charges of inciting public violence.
Herbert Mandeya, a regional magistrate in Harare, presided over Matinenga’s case after all magistrates in Rusape had recused themselves on varying reasons.
Matinenga was arrested a day after he had been cleared of any wrongdoing by a senior magistrate in Mutare on charges that he was involved in public violence that had flared up in his constituency.
But surprisingly, Matinenga was re-arrested on the same charges he had been acquitted of by Hlekani Mwayera in Mutare.
After his second arrest on same charges his lawyers petitioned the High Court and Justice Chitakunye ordered his immediate release.
But Mandeya, sitting in Rusape declined to obey the High Court order saying the allegations were the same but the charges were different.
Matinenga was taken to court after languishing in police cells for almost a week.
The State, led by Tawanda Zvakare of the Attorney General’s office, said Matinenga was facing the same allegations but the charges had been altered to that of inciting public violence instead of involvement in public violence.
The State alleged the MP-elect incited public violence in Buhera West on 28 and 31 May respectively.
According to Trust Maanda, one of his lawyers, the court established that Matinenga was in Harare on 28 May representing a client at the regional courts. The client is James Mushore, the former NMB executive facing allegations of committing financial crimes.
But the court said he had a case to answer on the second count.
He was granted bail with very stringent measures but Zvakare of the AG’s office lodged an appeal, which meant Matinenga would remain incacerated pending the noting of the appeal.
Maanda said the State has up to seven days to file the appeal meaning Matinenga will have to remain in custody all that time.
“All this is in violation of a high Court order granted by Justice Chitakunye,” Maanda, a human rights lawyer, said. “We are lodging an immediate appeal at the High Court. All along they are holding him illegally.”
Maanda said by refusing to allow him get freed under very stringent measures it was clear the State was determined, at all cost, to ensure Matinenga continues to be incarcerated.
The magistrate had ordered Matinenga to surrender title deeds of one of his immovable properties, deposit ZW$500 billion cash and to report everyday between 6am and 6pm to the nearest police station.
“Effectively it was meant to immobilize him but the State insisted that in spite of these very stringent conditions he must be denied bail,” said Maanda. “The State is so determined to have him incarcerated.”

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Police officers held over missing ballots


By Clemence Manyukwe

HEADLANDS- Twenty police officers at Headlands police station were detained last week when 31 postal ballot paper applications went missing in an incident that saw law enforcement agents at four stations in Makoni district being summoned for parades and forced to chant ZANU-PF slogans.
Half of the officers are currently detained at Chikurubi Maximum prison.
The Headlands police station officers were detained in their station’s cells before being “screened”, leaving at least 12 facing disciplinary hearings.
The hearings started on Monday under a panel of five officers who include the Deputy Officer Commanding Mutare Rural, Joshua Tigere and the Officer Commanding CID, Rusape District, who was identified only as Chief Superintendent Dube.
Contacted for comment by The Financial Gazette yesterday, Tigere, a former police spokesperson for Manicaland province said: “I no longer comment on press queries, go to our spokesperson. I just presided over the case but you have to contact the spokesperson, he will tell you how I handled the case.”
Police national spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena yesterday said he was yet to confirm the incident.
Police sources yesterday said some of the officers were severely assaulted following their arrest and one, identified as Muringayi is now walking with the aid of crutches.
After the Headlands incident, the arresting officers proceeded to Rusape, Inyati and Nyazura police stations all in Makoni District where they summoned officers for parades and forced them to chant ZANU-PF songs and slogans.
“The arresting officers said they wanted to knock sense into our heads because we were supporting the MDC (Movement for Democratic Change). They forced us to chant ZANU-PF slogans. Constable Banda of Inyati police station volunteered to resign after refusing to chant ZANU-PF songs,” a police source said.
The names of police officers who were arrested at Headlands police station were given as Wilbert Mushayavanhu, Gerison Gome, and Fidelis Zingwangwa with the rest being identified only as Nhendere, Munetsi, Maruva, Nyamayaro, Mudzuto, Chifamba and Mate.
The checking of applications for postal votes started on June 4 and will close on June 17 when all applications are supposed to reach the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), by noon.
A stilted campaign among armed forces has been launched to ensure that members vote for incumbent President Robert Mugabe in the June 27 election, which pits him against first round winner Morgan Tsvangirai of the MDC.
The MDC has complained about ZANU-PF, in collusion with top military generals, going all out to coerce junior members of the army, the police and their spouses to vote for President Mugabe.
The uniformed forces vote two days before June 27 under the supervision of their superiors.

Violence breaks out in Chimanimani

CHIMANIMANI – About 500 people have fled from their homes in Cashel Valley and Mutambara after armed militants and Zanu PF supporters attacked their homes.
The attack began on Saturday.
War veterans, soldiers and Zanu PF youths who are camped at Cashel Valley moved from house to house beating up villagers accusing them of not supporting Robert Mugabe’s bid to retain the country’s presidency.
On Monday they descended on Mutambara Mission school and hospital where they indiscriminately attacked residents at the mission. One man from Cashel Valley was shot dead and three were seriously injured and taken to Mutambara Mission Hospital.
Another man identified as Musere, an elderly farm labourer at the mission, is missing amid fears the Zanu PF militants abducted him.
“People are sleeping in the mountains,” said one victim who fled to Mutare. “Those of us who are lucky have managed to come all this way to Mutare.”
The victim refused to be identified.
There were fears authorities at the mission could close down both the school and the hospital because of the intensifying violence.
Another victim who fled at the dead of the night on Monday said gunfire sound was heard throughout the previous night.
War veterans and soldiers camped at a Zanu PF base in Cashel Valley are armed with AK rifles an assortment of light arms, sources said on Tuesday.
“It is very frightening,” he said, “But the biggest worry is that all these is happening while the police are just watching and not doing anything.”
Cashel Valley and Mutambara are in Chimanimani West. The constituency was won by MDC; s Lynette Karinye who beat Cabinet Minister Munacho Mutezo.
Mutezo was not immediately available for comment as his mobile phone was continuously not reachable.
Pishai Muchauraya, the MDC spokesman in Manicaland said the violence has also spread to Nedziwa and other surrounding areas.
"It's frightening," Muchauraya said, "The level of violence against our supporters is now very alarming. It is not only in Chimanimani but throughout the province."
The violence in Chimanimani West is calculated at cowing voters not to cast their ballots in favour of Morgan Tsvangirai, the MDC leader who squares it up with the Zanu PF ageing leader, Mugabe, who lost the March 29 vote.
Tsvangirai won the poll but not with enough votes to form a government. Political analysts believe Tsvangirai can win the June 27 run –off if it is conducted in a free and fair environment. But if the violence against perceived opposition supporters and sympathizers continue as the case, a Zanu PF victory is beckoning.
Victims of the Chimanimnai violence said the Zanu PF militants are threatening an all out war should Mugabe lose the run off.

"We will not let Tsvangira rule this country" Chinotimba


MUTARE – Veterans of Zimbabwe’s war of liberation have vowed never to allow Morgan Tsvangirai, the MDC leader, to take over power from President Mugabe should he win the June 27 election run – off.
Joseph Chinotimba, a leader of the war veterans told thousands of Zanu PF supporters at Bambazonke Business Centre that Tsvangirai will not be allowed to take over power.
Chinotimba, national vice-chairman of the war veterans’ association and a member of the Zanu PF central committee, was speaking at the official launch of the Zanu PF presidential campaign in Manicaland.
Voting for Tsvangirai would “reverse the gains of independence”, Chinotimba told the gathering.
He said was veterans would not stand and just watch as the country was being “taken back to former colonizers”.
"We, as war veterans, are geared to retain our Presidential candidate and will not let Morgan Tsvangirai win this election,” He said. “Remember, we went to war for this country and many sons and daughters of this beloved nation perished as the whites resisted majority rule.”
"We will not stand and just watch as the Western-sponsored MDC gives back this country to the former colonizers.”
Chinotimba’s threats that the MDC leader will not be allowed to take over power in the wake of similar threats issued by top ranking military and security officials who have publicly declared they will not salute Tsvangirai.
But such utterances have been roundly condemned by local and international human rights organization. They say the threats are calculated at undermining democracy and perpetuate Mugabe’s 28-year hold to power.
Mugabe faces Tsvangirai in a run up that has been marred by politically motivated violence which has been blamed on both political parties.
However, human rights groups blames much of the fracas on Zanu PF supporters whom they say, are being backed by the army and war veterans.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Court Dismisses Former ZBC Staffer's Application - Defence Appeals

Mutare Provincial Magistrate Chipadze on 5 June 2008 dismissed an application by lawyers representing former Manicaland, Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) Bureau Chief, Andrew Neshamba.
The application was made on the basis that Neshamba was charged under a wrong law.

Magistrate Chipadze agreed with the defence's contention that ZBC as currently constituted is a company registered in terms of the Companies Act and that at all material times, Neshamba was employed by Newsnet Private Limited.However, he argued that in terms of the ZBC (Commercialisation) Act, the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings was supposed to prioritise serving the needs of the state.

He ruled that the accused's conditions of service were those he enjoyed as an employee of ZBC, before the repeal of the ZBC Act. He interpreted this to mean that what had just changed were names. He, therefore, concluded that the accused was a public officer as defined in the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform)Act.

Soon after the ruling, the defence applied for stop proceedings in the Magistrate Court . They further appealed to the High Court, against the Magistrate's ruling arguing that the Magistrate had misdirected himself in refusing the defence's application and the misdirection was gross.

For the state, Nelson Makunyire opposed the application arguing that only in exceptional circumstances should proceedings be stopped to allow an appeal. He said it will be better for the defence to appeal once should the accused person be convicted.

Magistrate Chipadze will deliver his ruling on the latest application on 9 June 200.

Background

Allegations against Neshamba are that on 4 February 2007 he and William Gumbo facilitated the entry of Peter Moyo, a South African based E-TV unaccredited journalist into Chiadzwa diamond fields in Marange and took video footage of the mine fields.

On 2 June 2008 the defence made an application that Neshamba who faces charges of abuse of duty as a public officer in contravention of Section 174 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act was not a public officer as envisaged by the Act.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Zanu PF blames parastatals for loss in elections

MUTARE - The Zanu PF leadership in Manicaland Province has accused the police force and parastatals for being responsible for their party's dismal performance in the March 29 elections.
Some government institutions also came under fire from the Zanu PF leadership.
They say parastatals and key government institutions withheld their services towards the crucial polls resulting in voters "turning against" Zanu PF.
President Mugabe's party lost 18 of the 26 seats during the March 29 polls. The MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai also got a much bigger chunk of the votes in the province.
Six Cabinet Ministers fell by the wayside during the poll. They are Oppah Muchinguri, Mike Nyambuya, Patrick Chinamasa, Joseph Made, Munacho Mutezo and Chris Mushowe.
At a meeting to review Zanu PF 's performance during the March 29 polls and to strategize for the presidential run – off several party members blamed parastatals and government institutions for the dismal performance.
Parastatals and government institutions that came under fire includes the Grain Marketing Board (GMB), Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA), Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA), the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) and the Mutare City Council.
Interestingly, the organizations are led and manned by individuals widely believed and known to be Zanu PF activists.
The super-charged meeting was held at the government complex, which houses the offices of the provincial governor, the provincial administrator, the Central Intelligence Organisation and other key government offices.
At the meeting Esau Mupfumi, a Zanu PF central committee member and losing candidate for the Mutare senatorial seat, "We have discovered that some parastatals are now working with foreign forces to unseat President Mugabe. We should all go to the run – off knowing what we fought for. We are now giving leaders of these parastatals up to Wednesday to mend things. We want to find ways of improving service delivery."
Power utility, Zesa, was accused of sabotaging Zanu PF because of its high bills and incessant power cuts.
"To us this is sabotage," said Cecilia Gambe, a senior Zanu PF official in Mutare, "How can electricity be switched off in critical areas like hospitals?"
Gambe said by switching off electicity at places such as Dangamvura Clinic which houses a maternity wing Zesa was sabotaging Zanu PF.
Other Zanu PF members blamed ZINWA for Mutezo's defeat in Chimanimani. The officials said ZINWA's poor billing and poor service delivery affected Mutezo and President Mugabe during the elections.
The police was accused of sympathizing with the MDC and supplying them with key and sensitive information during the campaign. The GMB was blamed for not availing enough maize meal to use for campaigning.
The Mutare City Council, which is run by a commission appointed by Ignatius Chombo, was accused of failing to provide a proper service delivery to residents and also corruption.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Prison conditions in Mutare appaling


Mutare – The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR)is worried at the appalling prison conditions at Mutare Remand Prison following a recent operation by police to net people allegedly hunting for the precious diamonds at Chiadzwa fields in Marange, about 90 km south of Mutare.

"The prison service in Mutare has been overwhelmed seriously and Mutare Remand Prison for instance now holds over 1 100 prisoners instead of 300 which is its capacity," said Tinoziva Bere, a senior member of the Law Society of Zimbabwe.

Two weeks ago the police launched a massive operation to restore order at the diamond fields and close to 1 500 illegal miners, dealers and vendors which included children as young as 12 and 13 years of age.

Those arrested have been appearing in court in groups of 10 to 12 and forced to make chorus pleas.

Bere said armed police with specially trained dogs invaded the Chiadzwa area and arrested hundreds of men, women and children and detained them in conditions that were inhumane.

The exercise resulted in some of the people being bitten by the dogs, others were assaulted by the police officers and others sustained injuries from falling as they were being chased by the ferocious police dogs.

"Many complain that they were arrested from the main road, their homes, the grazing fields, shopping centres and villages/homestead in and around the Chiadzwa area."

Some claimed they had nothing to do with the hunting of the precious mineral but were vendors selling their goods in and around the area while others said they were mere visitors to their relatives and friends in the area.

The lawyers said the police forcefully opened their homes and confiscated foodstuff and groceries some which was thrown away and destroyed.

"Those who had money on them claim that it was taken by the police without being recorded," said "Bere.

"Most detainees claim that they were taken to various detention places and police stations where they were kept in crowded filthy conditions for as long as four to five days in some cases before being brought to court. The numbers were such the toilet and bathing facilities were inadequate to non-existent. Most when brought to court had not bathed since arrest and some had nothing or little to eat."

Most carried visible injuries especially vicious and deep dog bites and had not received any tetanus injection or any medication at all.

"They still wore the clothes they were in when arrested and some had visible bloodstains. A number had to be assisted to get into and out of court," said the lawyers, adding, at least 25 in every 100 prisoners are injured in one way or the other.

"All those interviewed never had warned and cautioned statements recorded from them and were simply told when they get to court to plead guilty to the charges so that they would be asked to pay a mere fine for environmental damage and be released. Many were not aware that in fact the charges preferred were tied to a minimum sentence of 2 years imprisonment."

Bere accused judiciary officers of failing to discharge their duties properly. Magistrates were accused of conducting fast track mass trials which were a miscarriage of justice.

"There is chaos in the record keeping, the movement of prisoners, the identities of prisoners, and the identification of appropriate courts where proceedings should take place, there is no recording equipment, and there is a terrible stench that one senses from the court house because of the numbers of wounded, unbathed prisoners."

The lawyers said the detained suspects had little or no access to their relatives and lawyers were having difficulty tracing their clients or the record or prison numbers or venues for their hearings.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Commercial sex workers now want forex


MUTARE – Commercial sex workers have joined the bandwagon of providers of goods and services charging their products in foreign currency as the Zimbabwean Dollar continue to loose value.
The relentless free fall of the Zimbabwean Dollar and galloping hyper inflation has resulted in most businesses and property owners charging in foreign currency for their goods and services.
The government has warned such practices are illegal and anyone caught charging in foreign currency risk arrest and imprisonment. But businesses and property owners remain defiant ignoring the threats.
Commercial sex workers in this eastern border city have also joined in and are now charging in foreign currency for their services. They say this will also hedge them against inflation which is now estimated at 350 000 percent, the world’s highest.
The women plying the world’s oldest profession are charging amounts raging from between US$30 to US$150 – amounts which are excessive if converted into the Zimbabwean currency.
Thirty United States Dollars are equlvalent to just over ZW$ 10 billion and US$150 is just over ZW$ 52 Billion.
Senior civil servants earn a monthly income of ZW $20 Billion. The harsh economic situation in Zimbabwe has driven most women, both young and old, into prostitution as a means of survival.
There is no shortage of business for these women. The eastern border city is awash with the Greenback as it is close to the diamond fields in Marange.
Thousands of people either mines illegally mine the germs or they are go between foreign buyers and the miners.
Thousands of United States Dollars exchange hands everyday in the streets of Mutare. The discovery of diamonds at Chadzwa, Marange, about 40 km south of Mutare changed the face of the city.
Hundreds of previously impoverished people had their status instantly transformed from rags to mega riches as a result of dealing in diamonds.
The majority of them spend their instantly found fortunes in entertainment and in the process fuel prostitution.
“Diamond dealers are very generous,” said a 21-year old commercial sex worker from Sakubva high density suburb, who identified herself only as Sarah. “They can pay an amount in US Dollars as long as he enjoys your service.”
Sarah operates from a lodge nestled between the city’s up market low density suburbs of Murambi and Morningside.
Her colleague scantly dressed and in heavy make-up, weighed in saying, most of her clients were diamond dealers and at times whites who would have visited the city from across the border in Mozambique.
“The Zimbabwean Dollar is depreciating everyday so it is better to do business using the US Dollar,” she said, “I have since stopped charging in Zimbabwe Dollars because the money is worthless the next morning.” The woman, in her early twenties declined to identify herself.
The upsurge in the numbers of commercial sex workers has stoked fears of an increase in the number of HIV-AIDS cases in a country already rated as one of the most affected in the world.
One in every five adults in Zimbabwe is infected by HIV or is already suffering from AIDS related ailments.
Prostitution is illegal in Zimbabwe but authorities appear to be losing the war against the oldest profession that has attracted hundreds of thousands of young women.

Manyika inciting violence


MUTARE – President Mugabe’s Zanu PF party has embarked on a campaign reminiscent of that launched during the run up to the Rwandan genocide in 1994 as it desperately tries to hang on to power on June 27.
Senior Zanu PF leaders are inciting their party supporters, in pre-Rwandan genocide style, to be on the lookout of opposition supporters within their communities.
Leaders and supporters of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) are being denounced and labeled “sellouts and “traitors”.
Eliot Manyika, the Zanu PF secretary for the commissariat, told villagers at Chinyauhwera Business Centre, 22miles south of Mutare City that their party supporters should be on the lookout for “sellouts” and “traitors” who wanted to give back the country to former colonizer, Britain.
Manyika is in charge of the Zanu PF sub-committee for mobilization.
"You should be on the lookout for traitors,” Manyika said. “They are among us. We have enemies all around us".
Hours after Manyika’s rally Zanu F supporters and a group of men in army uniforms moved from homestead to homestead in Chigodora and Chitakatira villages attacking MDC activists and burning their houses.
About six top activists in the villages were taken to hospital in Mutare after sustaining serious injuries. Some of the affected were only identified as Mwedzi and Mutsoto.
About three teachers at Matika Primary School were also forced to flee their station after they were threatened by Zanu PF activists. The teachers participated in a voter education campaign during the run-up to the March 29 polls. They were confronted by Zanu PF activists led by a woman identified only as Mrs Mangirazi and accused to misleading villagers to vote for the MDC. The teachers are now staying in Mutare.
Chigodora, Chitakatira and Matika villages are in Mutare South which was won by a Zanu PF candidate, Fred Kanzama.
Manyika’s calls at Chinyauhwera Business Centre for Zanu PF to be the lookout for so called sellouts and traitors is similar to how former leaders in Rwanda incited ethnic tension in the tiny and impoverished central African country during the run – up to the 1994 genocide which left about one million Rwandans dead.
The campaign was targeted at the minority Tutsis and the politically moderate Hutus, from the majority ethnic group. However, several former leaders who encouraged and incited ethnic tension in Rwanda have been convicted for crimes against humanity by an international tribunal sitting in Arusha, Tanzania. Others are still being tried.
Manyika said villagers should be on the lookout for MDC supporters because the MDC was being used by whites to "re-colonise" Zimbabwe.
"The whites found out that Tsvangirai is a willing tool and are using him to re-colonise the country. Now that we have our independence, we are forgetting what we went through during the armed colonial era and today some are saying we want Tsvangirai who wants to return the country to the whites."
"Tsvangirai ran away during the liberation struggle and today the whites are using him to cause confusion in the country."

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Teachers arrested in Chipinge

CHIPINGE – Twenty –three teachers have been arrested here for allegedly prejudicing Robert Mugabe of an undisclosed number of votes in Chipinge Central during the March 29 elections.
The teachers were working for the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) during the controversial polls which the MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai won 47 percent of the vote beating the incumbent, Mugabe who managed 42 percent. The MDC claims it won a bigger percentage.
They were presiding officers at polling stations in the constituency.
The teachers appeared in court today (Wednesday) and were each granted ZW$100 million bail by magistrate Samuel Zuze.
They were arrested last week but were taken to court today (Wednesday).
Chipinge lawyer Langton Mhungu successfully applied for their release on bail.
The electoral officials are alleged to have worked in cohorts with opposition forces during the poll to discount votes cast for Mugabe so as to deny him victory.
They deny the charges.
After the 29 March polls police launched a systematic campaign of arresting polling officials accusing them of conniving with the opposition MDC, Western powers and non-governmental organizations to ensure a Tsvangirai victory.
This is, however, seen as a smokescreen by the ageing Zanu PF leader to divert attention and mislead the world.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Diamond miner shot dead

MUTARE – Police officers manning the Chiadzwa diamond fields have killed a suspected illegal diamond miner.
Tonderai Kanyenze was shot dead after two police officers opened fire at him while he was in the diamond fields.
Police have confirmed the incident saying Kanyenze was part of a group of 200 people that invaded the diamond fields armed with iron bars, hoes and other digging tools.
Police spokesman, Brian Makomeke, said police officers first shot into the air to disperse the illegal miners but this did not scare them.
Makomeke said the police then opened fire and killed Kanyenze in the process.
The police spokesperson said the Chiadzwa diamond fields were a no go area.
The shooting of Kanyenze, whose age could not be immediately ascertained, come in the wake of an upsurge in the number of illegal panners invading the diamond fields and corrupt activities involving police officers.
Security details manning the fields have been accused of working in cohorts with illegal miners and buyers in Chiadzwa.
It is alleged that the police allow panners into the fields for a fee. The fee can be as much as US$200.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

"Don't vote for Tsvangirai" - Police chief warns officers


MUTARE – Voting for Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of the opposition MDC in a presidential run –off election expected in three weeks’ time is tantamount to plunging the country into a civil war, a high ranking police officer has warned.
The warning was issued by Senior Assistant Commissioner Musarashana Godwin Mabunda during a meeting with police officers here on Tuesday.
Mabunda is a top lieutenant and confidante to Augustine Chihuri, the police chief.
He is on a countrywide tour – meeting officers of all ranks and warning them of the dangers of voting for Tsvangirai in a run off election which is expected to be held any time from May 24 this year.
Mabunda vowed during a meeting with the police officers drawn from all the province’s eight districts that President Mugabe will never be ousted by Tsvangirai. Should that happen, Mabunda reportedly said a civil war will immediately break out.
The meeting was held at the police Main Camp on the edge of the city’s central business district.
Officers who attended the meeting said the environment a tense. “We were told in no uncertain terms that voting for Tsvangirai is just like voting for war,” said one officer, a constable based at Mutare Central police station.
Most junior and middle ranking police officers are believed to have voted for the MDC during the March 29 poll. The ruling party got fewer votes than the opposition at polling stations which also included police residences.
“Mabunda told us that anyone who will dare continue supporting or sympathizing with the MDC will be in serious problems,’ said another officer.
The warning by a top police officer coincides with reports of escalating violence targeted at MDC supporters in both the urban and rural areas.
The violence is widely blamed on state security agents, war veterans and Zanu F militants.
Thousands of opposition supporters have been displaced while about 200 have been badly assaulted.
On Saturday the MDC provincial youth leader, Knowledge Nyamhoka, was abducted by security agents at midnight from his Sakubva home and taken to a secluded area where he was badly beaten and left for dead.
He was rescued by passersby who found him lying unconscious and taken to a private hospital, the Seventh Avenue Surgical Unit, where he is recuperating.
Two other youth activists from Nyanga were also rushed to the same hospital after meeting the same fate as their leader.
The MDC chairman in Manicaland, Patrick Chitaka, said what the situation was degenerating very fast and urgent measures should be put in place to avert“genocide” from occurring in Zimbabwe. ends

Few teachers report for duty


MUTARE - Schools re-opened in Zimbabwe for the second term calendar with very few teachers reporting for duty.
In the urban centers most teachers refused to report for duty saying they were working for nothing. The lowest paid teacher earn as little as ZW$2 billion (US$20) a month.
At Mutare Girls' High School, an elite all girls' school, pupils were loitering in the school yard.
"Teachers are not there," said one Form Three pupil. "We are not doing anything at all."
One teacher from Dangamvura High School in Dangamvura high density suburb in Mutare said until they have been awarded a reasonable salary increase then they will go to work.
"Personally I will not go to work until I am given a better salary," a Form Four teacher said.
Reasons given by teachers in the urban centers were different from those from the rural areas who didn’t report for duty fearing for their lives.
Teachers working in the rural areas are blamed by Zanu PF and its leadership for the popular support the opposition got in those areas.
Most teachers were engaged by the Zimbabwe Elections Commission (ZEC) which is largely blamed for President Mugabe's poor showing in his traditional strongholds in the countryside.
Several teachers fled their stations soon after the government embarked on a wave of arrests of ZEC officials accusing them of "stealing" votes from President Mugabe.
An official from the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) said almost the entire teaching force in the rural areas have not reported for duty.
Those that were not engaged by ZEC are equally culpable because they are accused of campaigning for the opposition in their respective areas. Teachers are generally respected in the communities they work from in the rural areas.
"About 9000 teachers who are based in the rural areas are afraid of reporting to duty," said a PTUZ official based in this eastern border city. "They fear that they may be attacked because they sided with the opposition."
There are about 14 000 teachers in Manicaland Province.
The opening of schools also coincides with the setting up of bases by Zanu PF activists, army officers and other security agents in areas where President Mugabe performed dismally.
One such base at the Odzi Country Club, about 30 km north of Mutare, was on Monday burnt by angry villagers. Several ruling party activists were operating from there - hunting down MDC supporters and rounding them up at the base where they were beaten up and tortured.
Odzi Country Club is a community social centre where farmers used to patronise for alcoholic beverages, sporting activities and family gatherings such as parties and weddings. But it has now been converted into a base by ruling party militants.
Politically motivated violence is also escalating in the province with reports that MDC supporters were now retaliating and beating up ruling party activists and burning their houses. Such incidents were reported in Mayo in Headlands, 70km north of Mutare. In Sakubva high density suburb in Mutare supporters of both the MDC and Zanu PF were engaged in running battles amid reports two houses had been razed down. Police confirmed the incident saying investigations were in progress

Monday, April 28, 2008

Trial of former ZBC bureau chief postponed

MUTARE -The trial of former Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation’s (ZBC) Manicaland bureau chief Andrew Neshamba accused of contravening the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act was on 23 April 2008 postponed to 2 June 2008.

The trial was postponed because the trial magistrate was not feeling well.

Neshamba has pleaded not guilty to a charge of contravening Section 174(1) (a) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act (Criminal Abuse of Duty as Public Officers).

Allegations against Neshamba are that on 4 February 2007 he and William Gumbo facilitated the entry of Peter Moyo, a South African based E-TV unaccredited journalist into Chiadzwa diamond fields in Marange and took video footage of the mine fields.

Moyo was convicted on his own plea for contravening Section 83 (1) of AIPPA which deals with practicing journalism without accreditation.

Moyo was arrested together with ZBC cameraperson William Gumbo in the eastern border town of Mutare after they were found in possession of filming equipment which they were accused of using to cover illegal diamond mining activities in Marange Village in Manicaland Province .

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Bush condems violence in Zimbabwe

The Bush administration has condemned forces loyal to Zimbabwe's government for using violence against opposition supporters, and U.S. officials also criticized Zimbabwe's electoral authorities for their plan to recount the March 29 presidential vote.
State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said members of Zimbabwe's security forces and supporters of President Robert Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party have been using violence and intimidation in the wake of Zimbabwe's March 29 presidential and parliamentary elections.
"These incidents appear to target individuals who voted against ZANU-PF candidates during the elections," McCormack said in a statement released in Harare on Wednesday.
Calling on President Mugabe's government to stop perpetrating such incidents immediately and to show restraint and respect for human rights, McCormack said there is "no place for violence or intimidation in a democratic society."
The State Department also updated its travel alert to American citizens in Zimbabwe, saying that some military and police forces, as well as war veterans, are "creating a climate of intimidation and fear across the country."
The travel alert said Americans should be aware that these forces have been especially active in rural areas and high-density suburbs. "There have been attacks on opposition supporters, renewed farm invasions, and arrests of election officials accused of vote tampering. There is a continued risk of arbitrary detention or arrest," the travel alert said.
President Bush telephoned U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on April 15 to discuss the situation in Zimbabwe, according to White House national security spokesman Gordon Johndroe. According to Johndroe, Bush told Ban it is "important for the situation in Zimbabwe to be resolved peacefully and soon. It's gone on too long."
In remarks to reporters April 15, McCormack said Zimbabwe "is in a crisis," both politically, because the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has refused to announce the results of the March 29 presidential contest, and economically, because of long-standing government policies that have led to hyperinflation, food shortages and mass unemployment.
Despite never having released the presidential ballot results, the commission, which is made up of individuals appointed by Mugabe's government, now is calling for a recount of the vote.
McCormack criticized the idea, saying "there has not been a good chain-of-custody regime in place" for the ballots and ballot boxes since the March 29 vote. "Anything could have happened between election day and when a recount takes place, and that's a cause of deep concern not only for the United States but other countries around the globe," he said.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Calm as people ignore MDC call for stayaway

MUTARE:The situation in this eastern border city is calm as residents go about their normal business despite a call by the opposition to stay at their homes.

Businesses were operating as usual but there was a heavy police presence in the city centre and in all the high density suburbs.

The police are armed with AK rifles, teargas canisters and baton sticks. Water cannons were being driven throughout the suburbs.

There were no incidents of violence as of mid morning. However, there was a surprise presence of Chinese soldiers armed with revolvers in the city. The Chinese, together with about 70 Zimbabwean senior army officers are staying at the Holiday Inn, in the city's central business district.

There are about 10 Chinese soldiers. "We were shocked to see Chinese soldiers in their full military regalia and armed with pistols checking at the hotel," said one worker. "When they signed checking in forms they did not indicate the nature of business that they are doing and even their addresses."

Violence on MDC supporters escalating in Manicaland

MUTARE - Violence targeted at opposition supporters is escalating in Manicaland Province as the MDC announced it was in desperate need for tents and food to assist hundreds of displaced people in the rural areas.

Patrick Chitaka, the MDC chairman in Manicaland Province, said the party needed, as a matter of urgency thousands of tents, food packs and medicines to assist thousands of MDC supporters who have been displaced in the province's rural areas.

According to the MDC about 200 people have been beaten up while about 1000 have been displaced by the violence.

"The violence has now throughout the province. It's a disaster, that's how the Darfur crisis started," Chitaka said.

"We have reports of systematic violence against our supporters. Apart from beating up people they are now burning houses. We are going to have thousands of internally displaced people if the situation is not contained fast."

Chitaka spoke as ZimRights, a human rights watchdog, also raised their concern over the spreading violence which is targeted as MDC supporters.

Reverend Stephen Maengamhuru, the ZimRights' regional officer, told a post election workshop held in this eastern border city on Monday that hundreds of MDC supporters were sleeping in the open in Chipinge and Mutare South because they fear spending the night at their houses.

The MDC and human rights organisations blame the violence on security agents and members of the military who were angered by the loss of President Mugabe to the MDC leader, Morgan Tsvangirai.

"We now have a situation where people sleep out in the open because they fear spending the night at their homes," Rev Maengamhuru said.

The MDC, on the other hand, said violence has now spread to Chipinge, Nyanga, Marange and the farming communities of Burma Valley, Mutasa South and Chimanimani.

The MDC chairman, Chitaka, said the most disturbing aspect was that MDC supporters were the ones being arrested by the police instead of being protected.

He said the violence would soon target MDC candidates who won the just ended elections. Chitaka, himself, won the senatorial seat for Nyanga on an MDC ticket.

About 50 huts belonging to MDC supporters had been burned at a farm about 20 km west of the city forcing 103 people to flee into the forest.

The MDC supporters fled from EnVant Farm after a war veteran identified as Muniya set their huts alight around 4 pm yesterday (Monday).

The majority of the affected people have been staying at the farm for about 30 years. The farm was then allocated to Muniya, the war veteran during the chaotic land reform programme in 2000. However, he allowed the people he found already staying there not to move out. But after learning that the majority of the people had voted for the MDC the new farmer decided to take matters into his own hands.

"There is a humanitarian disaster," said MP elect for Mutasa South, Misheck Kagurabadza. "Children and elderly people are sleeping in the open. We need blankets urgently and a place where hey can stay for now."

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Headmaster in court for stealing Mugabe's votes

MUTARE - A school headmaster at a primary school in Mutasa South constituency, who was a election presiding officer, appeared in court today facing charges that he prejudiced President Mugabe of 10 votes.
Shadreck Mufute, 47, of Hartzel Primary School, about 20 km north-west of Mutare, is alleged to have swooped ballots which were in favour of Mugabe with those of Morgan Tsvangirai.
State prosecutor Arnold Chiwara alleged Mugabe polled 40 votes at Five Streams polling station while Tsvangirai got 30 votes.
Mufute is alleged to have swooped the votes that Mugabe is said to have won with those of Tsvangirai thereby prejuding Mugabe of 10 votes.
Magistrate Chipadze asked Mufute to pay bail of ZW$600 million with conditions that he satys at the school where he works and that he reports once every Friday to a police station near his place of residence. He was remanded to 23 April 2008.
Mufute, who denies the charges, was represented by human rights lawyers Trust Maanda and Akisayi Dhliwayo.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Zanu PF supporters on retribution exercise

MUTARE -Ruling Zanu PF activists have gone on a retribution exercise beating up and harassing supporters of the opposition MDC in Mutasa South constituency.
About 60 families in the constituency have been displaced as a result of the campaign which is directed towards perceived opposition supporters and sympathisers.
White commercial farmers in the constituency have also not been spared. War veterans have circulated letters directing the farmers to vacate their properties within 10 hours or face dire consequences.
One such letter in possession of this journalist reads in part: “If you are celebrating the outcome of the harmonized elections partial results in unison with your brethren before the outcome of the final polls be advised you risk vacating that location unceremoniously forthwith within 10 hours from this moment.”
The letters are signed by war veterans in Manicaland Province.
Much of the violence is directed at MDC supporters in areas such as EN Avant Farm and Grange.
“People are being beaten for supporting the MDC,” said Misheck Kagurabadza, who won the constituency on an MDC ticket.
Kagurabadza has sourced blankets which he is distributing to displaced families. However, he is now appealing for food and medicine for he victims of the retribution exercise.
The MP elect said a report has already been made at Penhalonga Police Station, 20 km north of Mutare. The Reports Received Book (RRB) number is 0068705. Inspector Machipisa is handling the matter.
One of the affected MDC activists is John Saramu, 39, an election agent during the just ended polls. Saramu was assaulted and suffered serious injuries. He lost ZW$5 billion, a radio and MDC regalia were confisticated by the war veterans that attacked him.
However, Kagurabadza said the MDC has positively identified those instigating the violence.
He said the have been identified as Fabion Gume and Cassim Nasho.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Mocambicans don't like Tsvangirai


MANICA, Mozambique – Mozambicans appear skeptical of Morgan Tsvangirai, the opposition MDC leader, who defeated Zimbabwe’s long-time leader, President Robert Mugabe in polls whose results are yet to be made public.
Most Mozambicans appear to have fallen victim to the Zanu PF propaganda that labels Tsvangirai and his political party as “fronts” of Western imperialists “who are seeking to re-colonize through the backdoor”.
In separate interviews Mozambican nationals said by voting for Tsvangirai and his MDC party, Zimbabweans had betrayed the liberation struggle. They said thousands of Zimbabweans whose bodies were buried inside Mozambique would have been betrayed.
“What are you going to do with all those people buried here?” asked a foreign currency dealer who identified himself as Maya. “You people from Zimbabwe are not clever. You have sold your country because you wan margarine and bread.”
Moses Macapa, a vendor, said he was surprised the majority of Zimbabwean voters had voted for Tsvangirai instead of Mugabe.
“Bob has done a lot of good things to all of us,” Macapa said, “he must be left to rule Zimbabwe.” Mugabe is widely referred to as Bob by admirers and supporters.
Dominic Machande, a civil servant, weighed in saying Mugabe should not step down for Tsvangirai whom he said was a “front of the Whiteman”.
Mozambicans widely credits Mugabe for helping bring about peace in Mozambique after years of civil war which pitted government forces and Renamo then an armed rebel group.
Several other Mozambicans expressed similar sentiments.
However, most Zimbabwean national staying in Mozambique, sad they were happy that Mugabe was now going.
“I will come back home as soon as Mugabe steps down,” said Thomas Matongo, an informal trader at a market in Manica Town, about 60 km east of Mutare. “That man has destroyed our country.”
Matongo’s views were shared by many other Zimbabweans staying in this shanty town.

Polls unite voters from unique Makoni West

By Clemence Manyukwe

RUSAPE, MANICALAND — Two rivers divide Makoni West voters, but last Saturday, one major thing united them.
As Tatenda Makono crossed Mucheke River, heading for a polling station at Chinyadza Primary School, at the other end of the same constituency, Albert Chirasasa was also crossing Rusape River to cast his vote at Tsanzaguru School.
Both had the same thing on their minds.
They both believed the presidential race was more important than the contest for Parliament.
Makoni West is a unique constituency, as it binds urban and rural voters together. Chinyadza lies in a rural area, while Tsanzaguru is in the urban.
I saw Makono being turned away just after 2pm at the polling station at Chinyadza School.
He voted at the same venue at the last election in 2005, but this time his name could not be found on the voters’ roll.
All he wanted was to vote in the Presidential election.
Asked why he believed the Presidential poll mattered the most, he chronicled the constituency’s woes, which he said could never be solved by any Member of Parliament (MP).
President Robert Mugabe, who has led Zimbabwe since independence in 1980, faced opposition from his former finance minister Simba Makoni, Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai and little know Langton Towungana, in the elections held last Saturday.
Makoni constituency had three senatorial candidates, namely Stanley Sakupwanya of ZANU-PF, Ethel Mtangadura of the MDC faction led by Tsvangirai, and Matilda Mutigwa of the other MDC faction led by Arthur Mutambara.
Makoni West had five House of Assembly contestants, outgoing agriculture mechinisation minister Joseph Made, who was being challenged by another ZANU-PF member, Nation Madongorere, Webber Chinyadza of the MDC faction led by Tsvangirai, Collias Madechiwe of ZURD and Justin Kawonza an independent candidate.
Many voters here had been early to the polls, eager to avoid queues.
But there were no queues in this rural area. A polling station we visited at midday was empty, with nearly 500 people already having voted.
Unlike in previous years, Makono reported that chiefs and headman had not shepherded people to polling stations, allowing voters to go to the polls in peace.
At the last election, politicians had plied villagers with promises of income-generating projects. But many of these folded quickly as the economic crisis worsened.
The heaps of money poured into the projects had failed to sway voters.
“We had projects sponsored by the Ministry of Youth and Gender, mainly selling paraffin and poultry projects.
“All the paraffin projects collapsed, but a few poultry projects are still viable,” he said.
Most of the poultry projects here are run by women.
“At Dewedzo government hospital and at St Theresa Rural Mission Hospital, there is no life. Everything here is collapsing,” Makono added.
Both hospitals have no resident doctors, forcing residents and villagers to travel hundreds of kilometres for specialist treatment.
Makono would not say who he voted for, but anybody except President Mugabe would do, he said.
At Tsanzaguru, Makono’s fellow Makoni West constituent, Chirasasa, said although ZANU-PF boasts of achievements in education, residents in his area thought less of the ruling party due to years of empty promises.
“There is no school offering A’Level here. I wanted to go for A’Level, but my parents could not afford to send me outside our area.
“If we had a school nearby, I could have had much better prospects in my life,” Chirasasa said.
It appeared that the concerns are the same for a voter casting his or her ballot at Tsanzaguru, a high-density suburb, and for the voter at Chinyadza primary school, in a rural area, both want to respond to ZANU-PF’s failure to improve their daily lives.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Civic Society groups petition SADC heads of state

Civic society groups in Zimbabwe have petitioned SADC heads of State to exert pressure on President Mugabe not to manipulate results of the March 29 polls.
The groups includes the National Constitutional Assemby, ZimRights, Zimbabwe Elections Support Network, Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights and the International Commission of Jurists.
The groups said they were concerned about the delay in announcing results of the poll. Results have been released by ZEC in bits and pieces angering Zimbabweans who are earger to know the future of their country.
The groups said President Mugabe and his government should allow results to be released immediately without being tampered with.
They said SADC leaders should exert pressure on President Mugabe not to declare a state of emergency. The groups also implored on SADC leaders to apply pressure on President Mugabe's millitary and intelligence agents not to manipulate results and to accept the people's verdict in the elections.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Anxiety and Confusion as Mutare residents wait for poll results

MUTARE - Anxiety and confusion has gripped residents here as they impatiently wait for the outcome of the presidential poll.
The city is quiet with little activity in the city's central business district. In the Chikanga high density surbub police broke up a group of MDC supporters who had begun celebrating. In Sakubva and Dangamvura high density surbubs the situaton was calm. Armed police are patrolling the streets.
Official results so far show that seven Cabinet Ministers in Mugabe's government have lost to MDC candidates.
These are Joseph Made (agriculture), Chris Mushowe (transport),Munacho Mutezo (Water), Patrick Chinamasa (justice), Samuel Undenge (economic affairs), Oppah Muchinguri (women affairs) and Mike Nyambuya (energy).
The ruling party has so far won five of the 26 seats in the province. Independent presidential hopeful, Simba Makoni, perfomed badly in his home province.

Soldiers Intimidate voters in Chikanga

MUTARE- Voting remained peaceful here although the MDC has complained there were attempts by some soldiers to intimidate people at a polling station in Chikanga high density suburb.
Some MDC candidates said they were also “shocked” by the high number of people who have been turned away at polling stations either because their names do not appear on the voters’ roll or they were in the wrong ward.
They were no queues at most polling stations in the city’s high-density suburbs although in the afternoon.
At most polling stations there were more polling agents and police details than the number of people queuing to vote.
But there were reports of high voter turn out in constituencies in Chipinge, 190 km south of Mutare. In one constituency, Musikavanhu, there was a high turn out at Chisumbanje Primary School.. Voting was peaceful in the constituency, according to Learnmore Madhuku, an MDC youth activist.
The MDC candidate for senate in Mutare, Keresenzia Chabuka said some soldiers based at Three Brigade were intimidating voters at a polling station at the Manicaland Agricultural Showground’s. The showground’s are next the army barracks.
Misheck Kagurabadza, the MDC candidate for Mutasa South, said he was “shocked” by the high number of people being turned away at the polling stations. He said at one polling station about 20 people were turned away in just two hours. Ends
Zanu PF election agents said there were satisfied with the voting process.

Voting kicked off peacefully in Mutare

MUTARE- Voting kicked off peacefully here with fewer voters than expected queuing to cast their ballots in these crucial elections.
The verve that characterized the pre-election period was a far cry from the voter turn – out. In Sakubva, the most populous high density suburb, there were very short queues at most polling stations. In Dangamvura, the second populous high-density suburb, the situation was the same.
I n the city center, the queues were short. At one time, this reporter counted about 40 people lining up to vote.
Only in the new high-density suburb of Hobhouse there were long queues. One voter, Obvious Zengeya, who cast his ballot in Hobhouse said he was confident of a change of government in Zimbabwe. “I made sure my vote is counted,” Zengeya said. “My vote will contribute towards change to a better Zimbabwe.”
Voters were expected to flood voting stations in the afternoon, an official manning a polling booth in Sakubva said.
There were no incidents of violence reported anywhere as of mid day in Manicaland Province.
The pre – election hype that characterized the campaign period has not yet matched the number of people going to the polling stations.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Political parties winds up election campaign rallies in Manicaland

CAMPAIGNING for the March 29 harmonised polls shifted into top gear this week with candidates from both the ruling Zanu PF political party and the opposition winding up their election campaign.

Independent presidential hopeful, Simba Makoni, got a shot in the arm when chiefs in Makoni District, his home area, endorsing his candidacy. Makoni, a former finance minister in President Mugabe’s cabinet, got the endorsement when he addressed about 6 000 supporters at Vengere Stadium in Rusape, 187 km east of Harare . It is very rare in Zimbabwe for traditional leaders to publicly back an anti-Mugabe campaign. Mugabe’s Zanu PF has over the years enjoyed unwavering support from traditional leaders who were instrumental in mobilizing support in the rural areas.
Headmen Mapako and Mukuwapasi told Makoni’s supporters at Vengere Stadium that they were solidly behind Makoni.
The headmen said all other traditional leaders in the district were behind Makoni and would ensure he wins in their respective area of jurisdiction.
This now means three senior Cabinet Minister in Mugabe’s government now face the danger of losing to candidates being sponsored by Makoni. The powerful security minister, Didymus Mutasa, agriculture minister, Joseph Made and justice minister Patrick Chinamasa are contesting seats in Makoni District.

While Makoni was in Rusape the ruling party was hosting a rally at Odzi Country club which attracted about 3000 people. The rally was organised by the Zanu PF candidate in Mutare North, Charles Pemhenayi, a tobacco farmer and businessman.
The rally was addressed by the Zanu PF chairman in Manicaland province and also provincial governor, Tinaye Chigudu.
Chigudu pleaded with Zanu PF supporters to refrain from using violence when campaigning. The rally was marred by news that three Zanu PF activists had died in an accident while traveling to the rally venue. About 20 were injured at taken to Mutare General Hospital .

The opposition MDC candidates also intensified their campaigns throughout the province. In Mutare, Innocent Gonese, who is contesting in Mutare Central, addressed cheering supporters at Sakubva Beit Hall, encouraging them to vote out Mugabe.
Gonese accused Mugabe and his government of running down a once promising country through skewed economic and political policies.
In Mutare’s central business district campaign posters bearing images of Mugabe were plastered all over on shop walls and trees.
The posters are inscribed messages such as “revolutionary, yesterday, today and tomorrow”, “for principles, consistent and fearless leadership” and “the fist of empowerment”.
There were reports that the Zanu PF candidate for Mutare South, Fred Kanzama were telling villagers in the constituency that if they vote for the opposition MDC the country will be plunged into a civil war.
Kanzama and his campaign team repeated the threats at Gombakomba and Zimunya Primary School, 20 km south-east of Mutare that Morgan Tsvangirai will not be allowed to rule the country even if he wins the poll.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Manicaland CIO boss on his way out

HARARE – The fissures tearing apart President Mugabe’s spy agency have claimed the scalp of another top agent, Bester Rawire, the Central Intelligence Organisation's (CIO) provincial head in Manicaland Province.
Rawire, the CIO’s provincial intelligence organization officer in Manicaland, has been linked to Simba Makoni’s presidential campaign. He is now on his way out, CIO sources said yesterday.
Rawire’s fate was worsened because he is believed to be a kinsman of the former finance minister. He hails from Makoni District, the native home for the former finance minister.
“Rawire is on his way out,” said a top officer based at the spy agency’s headquarters in the capital. “He has bee linked to Makoni.”
Rawire will become the second high flying agent to be a victim of a witch-hunt ordered by President Mugabe to sniff out those secretly supporting Makoni’s presidential bid.
His boss Happyton Bonyongwe is also in the departure lounge after he was fingured to be secretly supporting Makoni.
Although Bonyongwe has vehemently denied having any links with Makoni sources say his fate has already been sealed.
Sources within the CIO say Rawire’s problems started at Mugabe’s campaign rally held at Bezerly Bridge last week.
A senior CIO operative, identified as Jessica Chidza, reportedly approached Mugabe and informed the 84-year old leader that their boss in Manicaland was “informing members of the spy agency that Makoni’s campaign was part of a Zanu PF project to divide the opposition in the urban areas”.
Mugabe is said to have reacted furiously telling Chidza that Makoni had rebelled against him and should therefore be treated as an enemy.
Chidza, the CIO head in Mutare District is also a member of the Zanu PF central committee.
The actions against Rawire ad his boss, Bonyongwe are clear signals that divisions in the ruling ZANU PF party may be filtering down to the security establishment.
The divisions were sparked by Makoni’s decision to challenge Mugabe at the March 29 polls.
Makoni, who was expelled from Zanu PF last month, has repeatedly said he is closely working with several top people in the ruling party and government who he has not named but who he says are equally eager to see the March 29 elections usher in a new leadership for the country.
No comment could be obtained from the CIO, which does not disclose its affairs to the media as a matter of policy. A hostile Intelligence Minister Didymus Mutasa does not entertain media enquiries regarding the operations of the secret service.
“The CIO is not run through the media. Why do you think I can talk to you about the country's intelligence matters," Mutasa said, in response to enquiries from Mutareradio.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Villagers flee upsurge in violence in Makoni district of Manicaland

By Tichaona Sibanda

Villagers in Makoni district have been fleeing their homes since Saturday after an increase in night attacks perpetrated by stone throwing and stick wielding groups, led by a prominent Zanu-PF activist.
Tension has been high in the district after villagers in Nzimbe in Makoni South boycotted a ruling party star rally on Saturday. Realising that a Zanu-PF candidate could not attract a huge crowd, word quickly spread that Robert Mugabe was to address the rally. But this again failed to move the people.The rally was eventually cancelled and this angered Zanu-PF activists, who under district co-coordinator Nathaniel Punish Mhiripiri, allegedly went on a retribution exercise, targeting villagers perceived to be MDC supporters. The violent groups systematically beat up men, women and boys they suspected of backing the MDC.Pishai Muchauraya, the MDC parliamentary candidate for Makoni south, has condemned the violence and called for the arrest of the perpetrators. He said frightened villagers are spending nights in the cold despite their appeals for them to return to their homes.‘They claim to us their homes were no longer safe despite the visible presence of more police officers on the ground. Fear has also spread in other areas as Mhiripiri has been to 15 villages so far where people are spending nights in the cold for fear of attacks,’ Muchauraya said.The MDC has urged the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to investigate the attacks and bring the culprits to book. The MDC said the attacks were political and if left unchecked, would leave the villagers too scared to go and vote on the 29th.The MDC said five of its activists are locked up at Chisumbanje police station because they campaigned door-to-door in Chipinge. The group was picked up from Checheche’s ward 24. The police in Makoni west picked up another eight for campaigning as well.‘The province is currently under siege. Eight other activists were threatened with arrest today (Tuesday) in Makoni south. The strange thing is that the police are complicit in what ever Zanu-PF is doing to our supporters. Police have done more harm to our campaigns that Zanu-PF itself,’ claimed Muchauraya.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

About Kumakomo Community Radio Station

Situated in the heart of Zimbabwe’s eastern border town of Mutare, Kumakomo Community Radio Station (KCRS) intends to serve the geographical community of Manicaland by broadcasting the broad interests of its community that includes health, social and developmental issues.Mutare is the provincial capital of Manicaland province, which includes districts such as Chipinge, Chimanimani, Buhera, Marange, Zimunya and Makoni. Manicaland is also home to the Ndau, Vahera, Mabocha, Samanyika, Maungwe and Majindwi all of whom share common values.KCRS intends to take the form of its vast community, in character and content and be the common meeting point for all the tribes focusingon empowering them to develop their community and preserve their cultural values.KCRS when it evenually broadcasts will strive to maintain the station’s independence and ensure that its operation focus on the needs of the people of Manicaland.The committee spearheading KCRS is made up of Kelvin Jakachira as chairman, Sydney Saize is the vice chairman while Chengetai Murimwa is the secretary. Evidence Chenjerai, Thembani Mudavanhu, Tambudzai Zindi and Pepe Guwila are committee members.KCRS has been wellcomed by the community with even some Zanu PF members urgng Zimbabweans to demand the granting of licences for community broadcasters.The board is trustee is made up of Daniel Chigudu,as chairman, other members of the board are Trust Maanda, Mike Tembo, Vonesi Masanganise and Charles Chikwama.

What is community broadcasting?

Community broadcasting is broadcasting from community to the community, covering everyday events and issues related to socio-economic, politics or culture in the languages/s spoken and understood within a geographic area or a community of interest.Many state broadcasters in the region have a tendency of making themselves busy by covering state functions only, deliberately ignoring issues occurring in rural or pre-urban areas, thus creating a vacuum. Community broadcasters have taken up that role to inform, educate and entertain local communities. Currently many countries have not set guidelines on how community broadcasters should operate. MISA will campaign for transformation of Community Broadcasters into fully-fledged entities as provided for in the various SADC Protocols and Declarations and the guidelines as provided in the African Charter on Broadcasting.