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.

Ian Smith was better than Mugabe - Tekere

MUTARE-Edgar Tekere, a former Zanu PF strongman and a luminary of Zimbabwe’s war of liberation says the regime of Ian Smith was far less brutal to dissenting voices than the post independence government led by Robert Mugabe.Tekere told a political gathering in this eastern border city that during the struggle for independence the Smith regime never ill-treated opposition activisits in the manner in which Mugabe’s government does.He was referring to the brutal beatings, by the police in their custody, of MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai and several of his party activists last year.Tsvangirai and his fellow supporters were brutally assaulted by police while in custody after they were rounded up during a prayer meeting at Zimbabwe Grounds. MDC activists such as Grace Kwinjeh and Sekai Holland had to seek medical treatment in South Africa.“Ian Smith’s regime never treated us in the manner in which Mugabe is doing to the opposition,” the tough-talking politician said. “That’s the legacy of Zimbabwean governance.”Smith was the prime minister of Rhodesia before it was liberated in 1980 and renamed Zimbabwe. Smith’s regime was notorious for jailing and torturing independence activists during the turbulent 1970’s. But Tekere says such treatment, which nationalists endured under Smith, was far from what the Mugabe’s government was doing to those opposed to his iron-grip rule.Tekere, a former Zanu PF secretary general and Cabinet Minister, is contesting the March 29 polls as a senatorial candidate for Dangamvura-Chikanga, Mutare Central and Mutare North. He is standing as an independent but representing Simba Makoni, the independent presidential candidate.The fiery politician castigated Mugabe for boasting that he had degrees of violence saying such behavior had damaged the image of the country.Tekere said if Mugabe were to be removed at the March polls international investors would immediately descend on Zimbabwe –even before they were told who would have taken over. “If they hear that Mugabe is no longer there, without being told who has taken over, they will run to this country and things will start moving,” he said amid applause.

National association of community radios finds it’s feet

A national association of community radio stations, the Zimbabwe Association of Community Radio Stations (ZACRAS), held its first substantive annual general meeting in Harare on 22 July 2007. ZACRAS comprises eight community radio initiatives that are based in eight Zimbabwean towns, namely, Harare, Bulawayo, Gweru, Mutare, Kwekwe, Hwange, Kadoma and Masvingo. It is the brain child of community media activists who, since 2002, have been involved in a campaign for broadcasting diversity and the recognition of community radio as a critical freedom of expression/information tool. ZACRAS is the foremost advocacy initiative in Zimbabwe that has committed itself to community media activism through involvement in community based advocacy activities publicising the concept of community as an alternative to state controlled radio stations. The association has done this largely through road shows, audio cassette production, public meetings, press club discussions and agricultural show exhibitions. The current chairperson of ZACRAS, Mr. Christopher Mhike who also serves on the community radio Harare Initiative board has indicated that the organisation’s major focus for the next 12 months will, apart from road shows and other forms of public activities, be on capacity building through people-centered advocacy training, radio production training, gender mainstreaming and fundraising training. The ZACRAS Executive Committee which comprises Kudzai Kwangwari (Radio Dialogue Bulawayo) Howard Masaninga (Radio Kwelaz, Kwekwe), Chengetayi Murimwa (Kumakomo Community Radio Station, Mutare,) Munyaradzi Makoni (Ngabazwe, Gweru), Micah Zinduru (Wezhira, Masvingo), Nkosana Mpofu (Radio Hwange), Emmanuel Mavata (Kadoma) Kholiwe Nyoni and Sharon Sithole, (Radio Dialogue), has also accepted the need for an alternative democratic broadcasting law for Zimbabwe. In this instance the executive committee has agreed to work with MISA Zimbabwe in finalising the Alternative Broadcasting and Telecommunications Law, which will be used in the processes of lobbying the Parliament of Zimbabwe as well as civil society organisations. The Executive Committee is on record defining the current broadcasting environment in Zimbabwe as repressive due to Acts of Parliament such as the Broadcasting Services Act (BSA), the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA), the Public Order and Security Act (POSA) and only recently, the Interception of Communication Act. In light of this repressive media environment, the Association has pledged to utilise ‘people-centered’ advocacy struggles. ZACRAS will work largely within communities, addressing community issues that relate to development and publicise these issues as far as is possible through alternative media strategies such as audio cassettes, road shows, drama shows and music festivals. ZACRAS Contact Details: Kudzai Kwangwari (Deputy Chairman) Nyoni : khoenyoni@gmail.comSharon Sithole (Secretary):

Mutare journalist to appear in court

MUTARE – Sydney Saize, a journalist based in this eastern border city, will next month appear before the magistrate courts here facing charges of practicing journalism without accreditation from the government regulating body. Saize is alleged to have had worked as a journalist without being accredited by the Media and Information Commission which has since been renamed Zimbabwe Media Commission. Saize, 34, was arrested in January 2006 at the Aloe Park in the city after he was caught allegedly gathering news on behalf of Studio 7 a Washington DC based radio station. Several Zimbabwean journalists work for Studio 7, a radio station based in the United States Capital. The radio station broadcasts on short-wave and beams news on Zimbabwe on a daily basis. While a good number of Zimbabwean journalists are based in Washington DC working for Studio 7, the radio station has several correspondents operating within Zimbabwe. Saize was detained for three days at Mutare Central Police Station and released on summons. His trail date has now been set for 22 April 2008. According to the police, Saize violated Chapter 10.27 of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA), in that enjoyed the privilege of an accredited journalist by gathering news from Gomorefu Secondary School in Marange. Saize is alleged to have a covered a story in which two teachers at the school were assaulted by Zanu PF youths and war veterans. The teachers were accused of being supporters or sympathizers of the opposition MDC. Saize, a former Daily News journalist, is not the only journalist to be arrested and charged for violating sections of AIPPA. About 100 journalists have been arrested and arraigned before the courts. Several others have fled the country after being arrested under the draconian law. Among those who fled the country includes the founding editor of the popular Daily News Geoff Nyarota, Conrad Nyamutata, Basildon Peta, Sandra Nyaira and Lloyd Mudiwa. However, since AIPPA came into law the State has not successfully prosecuted a single journalist.

Simba Makoni takes campaign trail to Mutare

MUTARE – Independent presidential hopeful, Simba Makoni says Zanu PF stalwarts who are reluctant to come out in the open and support his bid to oust President Mugabe are letting Zimbabweans and the country down.Makoni told an enthusiastic crowd, estimated at 5000 that attended his campaign rally at Sakubva Stadium on Sunday, that those that continue to be with Mugabe instead of coming out publicly to back his candidacy were responsible for the continued decay of the country’s economy and the suffering being endured by the country’s population..“Those who are supporting Mugabe instead of coming out in the open are the ones killing our education system,” Makoni said. “The health system in Zimbabwe has collapsed; there are no teachers at our schools, no books and no chalks.”Makoni’s comments were seen as directed at ruling party stalwarts that have been rumored to be working with the former finance minister in his bid to remove Mugabe from power.Makoni is widely believed to be enjoying the backing of former army generals, Solomon Mujuru and Vitalis Zvinavashe, Vice Presidents Joseph Msika and Joice Mujru, Zanu PF national chairman, John Nkomo and other heavyweights.Only Dumiso Dabengwa has come out in the open and offered his support to Makoni.The rest have instead, through the official media, distanced them from Makoni and assured Mugabe of their “unwavering support”.Makoni told the crowd at Sakubva Stadium that the health delivery system has collapsed to levels such that if one is admitted in hospital that person would be assured of death instead of getting treated.Makoni said he was disappointed Mugabe was monopolizing the legacy of the liberation struggle that brought independence in 1980.He said the struggle for independence was a collective effort by thousands of Zimbabweans not one man. “I played my small part and others also played a part in liberating Zimbabwe. Now Mugabe claims he is the only person who liberated the country.” Makoni said Mugabe was misleading Zimbabweans into believing that he will reverse the land reform programme once elected into office.“ I said Gushungo, where did you get these lies.”Makoni said what he wants is to ensure there is production at the farms and that multi farm owners would remain with one farm.Makoni said he wanted to clear a misconception that he was being used by Mugabe as a way for the 84-year old leader to hang on to power. This, Makoni said, was being propagated by Morgan Tsvangirai, the MDC leader and also presidential candidate.Makoni lashed out at Mugabe for lying that he did not do his duties properly when he was sent to Europe during the liberation struggle. “Our African culture teaches us very well, that Gudo guru peta muswe kuti wadiki wakutye kana kuti vakuru musafukure hapwa nekuti vadiki vanozozwa kuti inonhuhwa.”Addressing the same rally, Edgar Tekere, a former Zanu PF secretary general and Cabinet Minister, said he was disappointed Mugabe was hanging on to power when he should hand over the leadership of the country to a younger leader.Tekere said leaders such as Botswana’s Fostase Mogae, who came to power decades after Mugabe was already in office, were now leaving and paving the way for younger leaders.Tekere, a luminary of the liberation struggle, is contesting on Makoni’s ticket for the post of senate in the Dnangamvura-Chikanga, Mutare Central, Mutare North and Mutasa South constituencies.