Saturday, May 24, 2008

(DAILY MAIL) Reduce land application backlog - Levy

Reduce land application backlog - Levy

PRESIDENT Mwanawasa has directed the Ministry of Lands to speed up the backlog of applications for land acquisition, especially those for agriculture and housing development. And Dr Mwanawasa has revealed that a Government Ministry will soon be under investigations for corrupt practices. He was speaking at the commissioning of the new Ministry of Lands customer centre at Mulungushi House in Lusaka yesterday. Dr Mwanawasa was pleased with the development of a new vision for building transparency and integrity at the Ministry of Lands.

“The improvement in customer service should address the pressing need for land. I therefore direct the Ministry of Lands to seriously look into this matter,” the President said.

He said the Ministry should secure land by way of re-entry and compulsory acquisition to ensure that land could be made available to meet the overwhelming demands that government was facing in land acquisition.

Dr Mwanawasa said the establishment of the customer centre should help to enhance security and sanctity of the national heritage and wealth.

He said he was last year compelled to halt operations at the Ministry of Lands because of the high prevalence of corruption among some members of staff.

Dr Mwanawasa commended the Minister of Lands, Bradford Machila, for transforming the mindset of some members of staff who had a habit of engaging in corrupt activities.

He was happy to note that last year the Ministry collected revenue amounting to K20.4 billion which was more than the K10.9 billion it was expected to collect.

Dr Mwanawasa commended the United States government for the support towards the completion of the US$22.7 million customer centre project at the Ministry.

He was happy that over the past two years, the Government cooperation with the Zambia Threshold Project under the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Millennium Challenge Corporation had yielded positive results.

And Dr Mwanawasa said he had received disturbing corrupt reports on a certain Ministry he, however, did not mention.

He said the Ministry would soon be investigated by law enforcement agencies.

“There is one Ministry to be visited by the law very soon. It’s high time they changed instead of what they are doing,” Dr Mwanawasa said.

And the President has warned civil servants that he would not hesitate to send law enforcement agencies to corrupt ministries in order to root out corruption and improve public service delivery.

He said the new deal government would remain committed to the fight against corruption in public institutions.

Earlier, Mr Machila said the Ministry had embarked on programmes aimed at improving public service delivery in the administration of land.

He said the Ministry was in the process of finalising the code of ethics for its staff.

Mr Machila said the US$22.7 million support from the US government helped the ministry to establish a State of the Art Internal Technology, conduct capacity building programmes for members of staff and the construction of the customer service centre.

And US ambassador to Zambia, Carmen Martinez, said the new customer centre would promote efficiency and transparency in administration of land in Zambia.

She said the fight against corruption should be an on-going process and that there was need for a long-term struggle involving all key stakeholders.

“The fight against corruption is an on-going long term struggle involving all of us. Simple measures such as the customer service centre that we are launching today can have a marked and direct impact that limits the opportunities for graft and abuse of official authority,” Ms Martinez said.

She commended President Mwanawasa for his quality leadership style, especially in the fight against corruption. Several cabinet and deputy Ministers attended the official commissioning of the customer centre.

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(TIMES) Luapula headed for economic boom

Luapula headed for economic boom
in Mansa

PRESIDENT Mwanawasa has said that the Government intends to transform Chembe area in Luapula Province into an economic zone after completion of the bridge that will link the province with the Copperbelt through the Pedicle Road in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Dr Mwanawasa said the already existing tourism, agriculture and fishing industries, which had the potential of expansion would drive the economic zone.
He said apart from these industries, there was also potential of mining in the province and revealed that explorations for minerals had already began in Chiengi and Mansa.

The President who yesterday inspected the construction work at the 320-metre long bridge said he felt honoured to be associated with its construction across the Luapula river at Chembe. He said once completed, the bridge would play a vital role in poverty eradication and employment creation.

“We want to see to it that the area is assisted in attracting investors in the fishing, tourism and other private sector initiatives,” he said.

He was humbled by Mansa Municipal Council and chiefs’ decision to name the bridge after him.

“I feel honoured to be associated with the bridge and extremely indebted to be in Chembe to see how work is proceeding. This one is one of the biggest programmes undertaken by my administration and I feel delighted to see that the bridge is near completion,” he said.

Dr Mwanawasa who was impressed with the pace at which the construction work was being carried out expressed hope that the bridge would be completed during the next six weeks.

He congratulated the project consultants, Kiran and Musonda Consulting Engineers and China-Henan International for the work well done.

The President said now that the construction of the bridge was almost completed, the challenge that remained was to convince DRC authorities to assist in funding the tarring of the Pedicle Road.

“The biggest challenge to Government is to negotiate with the sister republic of the DRC to be part of the Pedicle Road construction project,” he said.

Dr Mwanawasa urged the chiefs and the people of Chembe to take good care of the bridge which has a 100-year life span.

And briefing the President on the work done, Kiran and Musonda Engineering Consultants project director, Henry Musonda said the construction of the bridge which was supposed to be completed by February was delayed by six moths. He explained that the construction costs of K46.3 billion would not be affected by the changes in the project completion date.

“ Construction work on the bridge will be completed by mid June but the access roads and other facilities will be completed by the end of July,” he said.

Mr Musonda said the project had been delayed for six months because of the formation of quick sand, February floods and the logistical problems in accessing the funds.
China-Henan International, the contractor assured the President that despite being blacklisted by the ministry of Works and Supply, the project would continue and would not compromise the workmanship quality. Ten of the 13 segment of the bridge had been completed.

Speaking for Mansa based traditional rulers and their subjects, Chief Kasoma-Lwela of the Ushi people said the decision to name the newly constructed bridge at Chembe after President Levy Mwanawasa, which was endorsed by a full Mansa Municipal Council meeting was backed by chiefs.

Chief Kasoma-Lwela , who was flanked by Senior Chief Milambo thanked Dr Mwanawasa for showing personal commitment in the construction of the bridge. Works and Supply Minister, Kapembwa Simbao, Local Government and Housing Minister Sylvia Masebo, and her deputy Ben Tetamashimba accompanied the President.

Others were Community Development Deputy Minister, John Chinyanta, Luapaula Province Minister, Chrispin Musosha, Copperbelt Minister and Chembe area. Member of Parliament,(MP), Mwansa Mbulakulima and scores of Government and MMD officials.

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(HERALD) Zanu-PF, MDC-T in ‘frank’ talks

Zanu-PF, MDC-T in ‘frank’ talks

ZANU-PF and the MDC-T met in Harare yesterday to discuss conditions for the June 27 presidential election run-off and both expressed willingness to call for peaceful campaigns. The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission facilitated the talks held at its offices under the multi-party liaison committee as it prepares for the June 27 presidential run-off and three House of Assembly by-elections.

The presidential run-off — pitting President Mugabe of Zanu-PF and Morgan Tsvangirai of MDC-T — will be held concurrently with by-elections in Gwanda South, Pelandaba-Mpopoma and Redcliff, where elections were deferred after a candidate in each constituency died after nomination.

In an interview last night, the multi-party liaison committee chairperson, Mrs Sarah Kachingwe, confirmed Zanu-PF and MDC-T representatives held "frank and constructive discussions".

"They discussed how they will campaign without causing violence and pledged to advise their supporters that it does not help to indulge in violence.

"The two political parties are saying they will come up with modalities on what they can do (on conflict resolution). These would be presented at our meeting next week," she said.

Mrs Kachingwe commended the two political parties for displaying maturity during the meeting.

"That is the spirit in which the multi-party liaison is supposed to do — talk frankly, friendly and constructively," she added.

The meeting was closed to the media when the discussions opened.

Zanu-PF election agent Cde Austin Chirisa represented the ruling party while Tsvangirai’s chief election agent, Mr Christopher Mbanga, and the deputy organising secretary, Mr Morgan Komichi, represented the MDC-T.

Police spokesman Chief Superintendent Oliver Mandipaka represented the police with ZEC director for polling Mr Ignatius Mushangwe and deputy director for public relations Mr Tendayi Pamire representing the electoral body.

In a meeting held before the closed-door session, Mrs Kachingwe said parties contesting in the run-off were invited for the multi-party meeting. "The business of the day would be centred on issues that pertain to the run-off and any other pertinent matters.

"We will discuss modalities on how they (contesting parties) should conduct themselves before, during and after the elections. We want players to play from the same rules. We also want to iron out problematic areas," said Mrs Kachingwe.

Mr Mushangwe indicated that the presidential run-off would be held concurrently with the Gwanda South, Redcliff and Pelandaba-Mpopoma House of Assembly by-elections.

These were not contested during the March 29 harmonised polls following the death of candidates from the Arthur Mutambara camp of the MDC who had been nominated for the constituencies.

Nomination courts sit on June 10 from 10am to 4pm at the Gwanda Magistrates’ Court (Gwanda South constituency), Bulawayo Magistrates’ Courts (Pelandaba-Mpopoma) and Gweru Magistrates’ Courts (Redcliff).

"We are also going to have postal ballots opened and sealed on June 20, 2008. Voting would be ward-based," announced Mr Mushangwe.

On whether ZEC would maintain the same number of polling stations for the presidential run-off, Mr Mushangwe said the commission would discuss the matter with the contesting parties.

"As ZEC, we realised that the turnout at some polling stations was very low (in the March 29 elections). Some recorded two or seven voters. It is an issue we want to discuss with the candidates," he said.

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(HERALD) ‘Zim students in S. Africa safe’

‘Zim students in S. Africa safe’
Herald Reporter

ZIMBABWEANS studying at South African universities are reported to be safe from the xenophobic attacks, which had by yesterday spread to Cape Town. The co-ordinator of the Presidential Scholarship Programme and the Minister of Transport and Communications, Cde Christopher Mushohwe — who has just returned from South Africa — said authorities at some of the universities he visited told him that they had not received any reports of attacks on students.

The xenophobic attacks, which have so far claimed 42 lives and displaced more than 16 000 immigrants, were yesterday condemned by African Union leaders who met in Tanzania for a mini-summit. Cde Mushohwe was attending the graduation of 172 Zimbabwean students at Fort Hare who were studying under the Presidential Scholarship Fund.

"Our students are safe at the bases in South Africa. I have not received any reports (of attacks) and I want to believe the attacks could not have affected the colleges and institutions of tertiary education as I would have been briefed of such a development.

"I am glad that the South African government is now working to put an end to the attacks that have displaced a number of people of foreign origin," he said.

Cde Mushohwe said out of the 172 students, 32 qualified with a first degree in the disciplines they were studying.

"I want to take this opportunity to tell the nation that our students in South Africa are raising the country’s flag high. Their performance confirms that Cde Mugabe was right in championing the programme that has seen over 200 students benefiting every year. This has made it easy for us to sell the capabilities of our prospective students to these institutions," he said.

This year the programme saw 481 students receive scholarships to study at 10 universities in South Africa.

The students, who are the first to be bonded for future State service, are studying at Fort Hare, Rhodes, KwaZulu-Natal, Witwatersrand, Venda, Johannesburg, Nelson Mandela, Metropolitan, Cape Peninsula and Walter Sisulu universities.

Cde Mushohwe said Government has already paid tuition and accommodation fees for students at six of the 10 universities and will be settling outstanding bills as soon as they are advised of the fees by authorities at the others.

The wave of anti-immigrant violence spread to Cape Town yesterday even as troops deployed to help the police appeared to have quelled the unrest in the hotspot of Johannesburg.

Police spokesman for the Cape Town area Billy Jones said a public meeting to address the danger of xenophobia in the Du Noon slum area — 20 kilometres north of the city — degenerated into violence on Thursday evening.

"Groups within the crowd started to loot shops owned by Zimbabweans and other foreigners," he told AFP, saying 500 had since fled the area and were staying in community centres.

"Some people were assaulted, but mostly shops were looted."

Pakistanis were also targeted in Free State on Thursday. Twenty-two people were arrested after a group of people was seen throwing stones at their shops.

Spokesman for the defence forces General Kwena Mangope told AFP yesterday there had been no further army deployments.

AU heads of state meeting in Tanzania expressed shock at the deadly anti-immigrant violence in South Africa, AU chairman President Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania told reporters.

"The committee expressed shock," he said after a mini-summit near the northern town of Arusha in which South African President Thabo Mbeki also participated.

"It is not the policy of the government of South Africa but acts of thuggery . . . What is happening now in South Africa at a time when we are trying to unite the continent is really an anti-climax," added Kikwete.

Also present in the summit were Nigerian President Umaru Yar’adua, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, all members of a panel overseeing plans to have an AU government.

The reports of the spread of the wave of violence came when African countries whose nationals were targets of the attacks were mobilising to repatriate or offer support to those displaced.

The government of Malawi said it had begun helping to evacuate its citizens after saying a national had been shot dead in an attack in Johannesburg.

"More than 850 Malawians have been affected by the current violence. All Malawians willing to return home will be evacuated," Ben Mbewe, Foreign Affairs principal secretary, said in a statement.

"The government will do everything possible to ease the plight of affected Malawians," he said.

In Mozambique, Foreign Minister Oldemiro Baloi told state media that the government had chartered 17 buses in South Africa to ferry Mozambicans back home.

President Armando Guebuza had said on Thursday his government was ready to help Mozambicans return from South Africa where they have been particularly targeted alongside Zimbabweans.

"The government is working with the South African government," Guebuza told a public meeting. "We are prepared to assist those that want to return home."

More than 3 000 Mozambicans have already fled the violence in South Africa, according to state media.

Zimbabwe’s Foreign Ministry said yesterday it would assist with the return of xenophobia victims as well as the repatriation of the remains of the dead.

"The staff in these missions have visited the affected areas and met Zimbabweans who are under the protection of the South African government in police stations and at community centres," the ministry said in a statement.

"The Government of Zimbabwe urges those responsible for the xenophobic violence to appreciate that we in the Sadc region share a common history, a common culture and common destiny."

Rwanda also called on its citizens to be prudent and avoid affected areas. The majority of Rwandans living in South Africa are students.

"Because of the xenophobic criminal acts in progress, the Embassy of Rwanda in South Africa appeals to all the members of the Rwandan community to leave the affected areas," read a statement.

The Democratic Republic of Congo, meanwhile, was trying to assure the safety of an estimated 80 000 citizens living in South Africa.

DRC lawmaker Kasongo Numbi Kashemukanda told AFP the country’s citizens were entitled to protection, after raising a motion in the country’s parliament to ask government to ensure the safety of those in South Africa.

"We have already contacted the South African ambassador to Kinshasa and expressed our fears for the lives of the Congolese who are there," he said.

DRC’s ambassador to South Africa Bene Mpoko urged his compatriots, three of whom were injured in the violent attacks, to keep safe and avoid public places.

The small landlocked kingdom of Swaziland warned its citizens to be careful, but said it had full confidence in the South African government’s ability to contain the outbreak of violence.

The Swazi government’s Press secretary Percy Simelane said they were keeping in touch with their South African embassy.

"Up until midday (today) we had not heard any bad news on our people but we are equally saddened about what has happened to other African brothers and we hope the South African government will overcome this," Simelane told AFP.

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(HERALD) Diaspora: No bed of roses

Diaspora: No bed of roses
By Edmore Zvinonzwa

"YOU remember that friend of mine Sipho, the one who caused that explosion during the Physics class way back in ’99. Sha-a she called last night. You know what she was telling me? She says life is very nice out there in Port Elizabeth and she is enjoying every minute of it. Hanzi unotomuka wofunga kuti ndodya chii because zvese zviripo. (There are a many different types of food to choose from.) Ice-cream or something else." This is part of a conversation this writer overheard on board a city-bound ramshackle that was travelling into Harare city from Zengeza.

I had virtually thrown myself out of my blankets that morning, took what I thought was closest to a bath on such a cold morning and flew into Dendera Way, past the deserted mukina tree — paanaMuseyamwa pabhutsu — towards the bus stop.

I had not been so lucky on that particular morning as the newspaper delivery van that I normally relied on for free transport was nowhere to be seen. Given this scenario, I had to join the rest of the group across the road in the daily morning stampede to get onto the first bus. The $50 million difference in fare between the big buses and that for the smaller kombis was something I could not afford to ignore.

The three girls who stood besides me on the aisle were clad in a familiar private city college uniform. Their conversation could not have escaped any caring listener’s ear because the volume was deliberately high and the attitude very patronising and there was an air of being privileged to know somebody in the Diaspora. Given the ages of the ladies, I felt I could forgive them for their ideas on the Diaspora.

They seemed to idolise it so much. Little did they know that there is no place like home.

According to Wikipedia, the word Diaspora is derived from Ancient Greek — "a scatterring or sowing of seeds", and refers to "the forcing of any people or ethnic population to leave their traditional homelands, the dispersal of such people, and the ensuing developments in their culture".

The news that I came across on getting to the office in town was shocking. Over twelve foreigners, including Mozambicans, Zimbabweans and Malawians had been shot, beaten, or burnt to death in neighbouring South Africa in attacks which have been described as xenophobic.

A multiplicity of versions have flown in from different angles. Different countries whose citizens had been caught up in these attacks came up with variant responses. Mozambique sent buses to move their people out of this hell, while the Zimbabwean Ambassador to South Africa called on all his countrymen to consult the embassy for assistance. Most of the immigrants, however, first sought refuge in police stations and churches, which were also attacked for siding with them. Very sad scenes were repeated on television and one of the most brutal actions of man against man was captured by AFP and reproduced as a front-page picture in the Monday edition of this paper. A man burning after being set alight by fellow human beings. Obviously they had one intention — to kill him outright.

These immigrants who are being butchered, supposedly for taking away scarce jobs and alleged criminal acts, are human beings and everything else follows. Over forty foreign nationals have been killed in these said xenophobic conflicts which have now spread to far-off places like Cape Town and Durban. To make matters worse, they are being carried out by Africans who are abusing the freedom they got in 1994 after hibernating in the very countries whose citizens they are butchering. What could have become of South Africa had Mozambique not sacrificed to host liberation fighters who were fighting the apartheid regime in that country? South Africa actually ended up sponsoring the rebel Renamo movement to ensure Mozambique had enough problems at home to play host to those seeking refuge.

It was precisely for supporting the liberation movement in South Africa that former Mozambican president Samora Machel was killed on October 19, 1986 while returning from a Front Line summit in Lusaka, Zambia. Zimbabwe also suffered countless South African threats and attacks, including the one on an apartment on Prince Edward Road that killed Tsitsi Chiliza who was married to a South African national living in Zimbabwe at that time. Against this background one is tempted to think South Africans are very quick to forget as a people. Even then, would killing or violence against their neighbours solve their concerns.

South African police may have acted a bit slower than expected given the gravity of the situation and the army could have been called in much earlier but this remains a short-term solution. Of course, it was necessary to douse the flames before they spread further. However, there is need for a long-term solution to these atrocities, which are likely to be the worst of their nature the continent has experienced in recent years. A number of theories may have been advanced pertaining to the possible sources of the problem but in this era and age, should African brothers and sisters be butchering each other for the sole reason that they originate from a foreign country? And if the affected countries choose the path of retribution what kind of chaos will Africa fall into?

The continent is commemorating Africa Day on Monday, May 25. What picture do South Africans want the rest of Africa and the world to have of them ahead of the AU summit?

This writer feels African leaders will emerge from the summit with more questions than answers. South Africa is looking forward to staging the 2010 soccer World Cup where they will play host to millions of foreigners. Are they not risking losing the right to host this soccer showcase by acts that can only find equivalents in the pre-Stone Age era?

South Africa must have been supportive of their neighbours who are coming to their country in search of a better livelihood. After all, reports say a lot of them are hardworking and are involved in the construction of stadiums that will be venues during the 2010 World Cup finals. Some are skilled professionals whose contribution to the South African economy has more positives than negatives. All these people are actually saying that they are in the Diaspora. It is not by design.

This writer remembers that Mozambicans used to find sanctuary in Zimbabwe after fleeing from Renamo atrocities back home. Zimbabweans didn’t kill them. Or were they supposed to?

This writer does not believe so.

Great fathers of the nationalist drive on the continent and pan-Africanists like Kwame Nkrumah, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere among others must be turning in their graves when they see African brothers doing this to each other. Even people like Nelson Mandela must be shattered right now. No wonder why Winnie Mandela offered a passionate apology to the rest of Africa for the madness that has gripped the Rainbow Nation.

A human being remains human and setting him alight represents one of the most horrific pictures of this age, especially for a continent, which is still struggling to reassert itself and shake off Eurocentric perspectives of it as a continent inhabited by barbaric people.

Given the terror campaign in South Africa, would one doubt these versions? These are experiences that show that home is best. The Diaspora is no bag of roses.

You can buy a house but not home. People who leave for the Diaspora, or the majority of them are toiling. For the not-so-lucky, the occupations are ineffable, over and above the risk of being treated as subhuman.



(HERALD) Xenophobia contrary to African unity

Xenophobia contrary to African unity

TOMORROW we join continental and Diaspora Africans in celebrating the 45th anniversary of the founding of the African Union (formerly the Organisation of African Unity) launched on May 25 1963, amid so many unresolved questions for Africa. This is a day for introspection, when we Africans should take stock of what we have done over the past year in pursuit of the noble goals that motivated our founding fathers to moot the idea of a united Africa that will stake its claim as an equal in the community of nations.

Have we lived up to the ideal Africa envisioned by Ghana’s founding president Dr Kwame Nkrumah whose dream was to see an independent African ready to fight his own battles. Dr Nkrumah wanted us all to demonstrate to the world and other nations, that young as we are, we are prepared to lay our own foundations for self-rule and development contrary to the white supremacist doctrine.

And as Zimbabweans we are glad that we have managed to live up to his noble vision and resisted Western machinations to turn against our visionary President, who is cut from the same cloth that gave Africa Dr Nkrumah. Suffice to say we are doing so amid great opposition from those who would rather have us remain minions in our own land.

But as we mark Africa Day tomorrow, we thank our African brothers and sisters who have stood by us when it would have been so easy for them to join the Western bandwagon.

Their invaluable support gives us renewed hope that Africa is slowly rising to claim its stake in the world, and sending a clear message to its perennial pillagers that it is no longer business as usual. We have seen Africa speak loudly in support of Zimbabwe at various summits.

We have seen Sadc refuse to be used against Zimbabwe, and instead turn the tables on those who were scheming against us by calling on them to remove their illegal sanctions and honour their obligations as agreed at the Lancaster House Constitutional Conference of 1979.

We have seen Africa stand by Zimbabwe at the United Nations, where the latest action was to veto plans by Britain and the United States to have Zimbabwe on the agenda of the UN Security Council.

On numerous occasions, we have seen Africa frustrate racist moves by the usual Western rabble-rousers who wanted Zimbabwe put on the agenda of the UN as a security threat. And again in Geneva, at the Human Rights Council, Africa’s support has been phenomenal.

That is how it should be, all for one and one for all as the founding fathers envisioned it.

But this support did not come easy, as detractors have managed to worm their way into some of our supposedly African organs to covertly influence agendas and policy as evidenced by the decision to call a Sadc summit on Zimbabwe.

It is also unforgivable that 45 years down the line Africa still relies on the duplicitous Western media for information dissemination, Western prescriptions for development paradigms and alms for development projects.

It is through such dependence that some rightwing forces have managed to worm themselves into some key African organs and institutions that they try to manipulate through purse strings.

Institutions such as the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights, the Pan African Parliament and the Economic Commission need to be cleansed of Western influence so that they become wholly African and help us realise the dream of a United States of Africa.

The xenophobia in SA is not in keeping with the ideals of the AU, no African is a stranger in Africa.

At the same time, we cannot ignore the steps that have been taken towards the fulfilment of the dream of a United States of Africa built on synergies created by the AU Peace and Security Council, the proposed African Standby Force and the Central Bank of Africa that should guarantee the continent’s territorial and financial independence.

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(HERALD) MDC-T losing candidates rejoin Zanu-PF

MDC-T losing candidates rejoin Zanu-PF
Bindura Bureau

TWO MDC-T official parliamentary candidates in the harmonised March 29 election in Mt Darwin have switched allegiance to Zanu-PF, saying they have realised that all that glitters is not gold. Cde Tonderai David Nhepera, MDC-T candidate for the Mt Darwin East House of Assembly constituency, and aspiring Senate candidate for Mt Darwin Cde Joshua Chiyangwa said they realised the opposition party had nothing to offer.

"I only joined the MDC-T two weeks before the nomination court after they had pledged to end my financial woes. But the finance they promised was nowhere to be seen apart from the $4 billion they gave me for campaigning purposes," Cde Nhepera, a former senior assistant commissioner in the Zimbabwe Republic Police, said.

Cde Nhepera said he had hoped that he would earn a living through supporting the MDC-T but only realised afterwards that the opposition party would not take him to the Promised Land.

"Rather I wasted more than $11 billion travelling to the opposition party’s offices and doing other logistics in preparation for the election but I never got my money back.

"Today I come back to the mother party Zanu-PF because I have realised it has everything to offer," he said.

Cde Nhepera said Zanu-PF was the party that liberated blacks from colonial rule and had spearheaded development in the country. This was a far cry from the MDC-T that failed to honour its promises of supporting him financially in just a single election.

"Zanu-PF is the party that took us away from minority rule. It is the party that brought vast development. We had very few secondary schools in Mt Darwin, but with the ruling Zanu-PF many other schools were constructed. So I have realised that it is the mother party and we cannot do away with it," he said.

Cde Nhepera, who retired from the police force in 1985 after serving for about 28 years, urged his followers to unite and vote for President Mugabe in the forthcoming presidential run-off, saying he had realised that MDC-T had nothing to offer.

Cde Nhepera got 2 568 votes, losing to Zanu-PF’s Cde Betty Chikava, while Cde Chiyangwa got 6 581 votes in his larger constituency but was beaten by Cde Alice Chimbudzi. Both beat off strong challenges from third party candidates to come second in their races.

Cde Chiyangwa said the MDC-T promised to give him money but he only received $4 billion, which came in instalments.

"I realised that Zanu-PF had been giving us a lot compared to the MDC-T which is good at making promises which it cannot fulfil," he said.

Cde Chiyangwa said if another party baits him with cash, he would not accept as he had learnt from his mistake.

He also urged those who voted for him in the last election to vote for Zanu-PF, saying it was the only party that could take them to the Promised Land.

"I have come here to surrender the MDC party cards and regalia. Nobody forced me. I just thought of this while I was at home that the ruling Zanu-PF party was the only party that could deliver tangible results," he said.

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Blaming poverty on the poor's laziness

Blaming poverty on the poor's laziness
By Editor
Saturday May 24, 2008 [04:00]

It is true that some of our people are lazy and it will be very difficult to develop and reduce poverty if their attitudes towards work don’t change. But it is not true to say that most of the poor people are not hardworking. Most of our people are not poor because they are lazy; they are poor because of exploitation and as a result of the way our economic relations are arranged. We think that the highest level of political thought was reached when some men became aware that no people and no man had the right to exploit others, and that the fruits of the efforts and intelligence of each human being should reach all others; that man really had no need to be a wolf, but could be a brother to man.

No one can be at peace while others wallow in poverty and insecurity. It should never be that the anger of the poor should be the finger of accusation pointed at all of us because we failed to respond to the cries of the people for food, for shelter, for the dignity of the individual.

When you have all you want, think what it is like to be hungry, what it is to be poor. Things can change in a single day.

Of course, this is not to say we should patronise those of our people who are lazy. We should actually tell them the truth. We should frankly tell them that if they want to continue living in poverty, without clothes and food, then they should continue being lazy, not wanting to work. But if they want better things, they must work hard. Those in government and in non-governmental organisations cannot do it all for them; they must do it for themselves.

Handouts might sustain you for a few months, at the end of which your problems remain. You cannot build an economy or a society purely on the basis of handouts, of things being done for you. People have to make a contribution.

We need to exert ourselves that much, and break out of the vicious cycle imposed on us by the financially powerful; those in command of immense market power and those who dare to fashion the world in their own image.

And we shouldn’t forget that the wealth of society is created by the workers, peasants and working intellectuals. If they take their destiny into their own hands and take an active attitude in solving problems instead of evading them, there will be no difficulty in the world which they cannot overcome. The history of mankind is one of continuous development from the realm of necessity to the realm of freedom.

Our country is a gift from God and we must develop it for the good and welfare of all its people. And if our country is to move forward, honest and hard work is demanded of all of us. It is said that what a single ant brings to the anthill is very little; but what a great hill is built when one does their proper share of the work!

We can actually confidently say that true democracy itself is nothing but a growth in the confidence in the power of ordinary people to transform their country, and thus transform themselves. It is a growth in the appreciation of people organised, deciding, creating together. It is a growth in fraternal love.

It cannot be denied that there are those who seek to enjoy the benefits of economic progress without contributing anything, or setting things up so as to contribute as little as possible, to the common good. But if there is no wealth, there will be very few things to distribute.

And if you have to depend on someone else for your own food, you are not really living your own life. Yes, each one of us has a lot of problems and collectively as a nation, we have gigantic problems. But as long as you have an iron will, you can turn misfortune into advantage. There are few disadvantages in this world that you cannot turn into a personal triumph if you have the iron will and the necessary skill.

It is not fair to blame the poor and their poverty on them being lazy. We have an ethical or moral duty to defend the poor. He who betrays the poor betrays Christ. Truly, our country is too poor to give its people great material wealth, but it can give them a sense of equality, of human dignity. Let us not forget that Christ’s entire doctrine was devoted to the humble, the poor; his doctrine was devoted to fighting against abuse, injustice and the degradation of human beings.

Most Zambians find themselves in a state of poverty, the injustice of which cries to heaven for vengeance. The alienated masses in our rural and urban areas are increasing at a fast rate. And the traditional society is disappearing along with its specific culture.

The present situation in Zambia calls for some radical changes. And as Fr Pete Henriot has correctly observed, the lack of equal opportunities lies at the base of the unjust social structures in our country. Every human being of goodwill should be committed to changing a social order that is cruelly unjust because it is preventing most of our people from achieving personal fulfillment.

This poverty situation, we feel, is the product of unjust economic structures. We can understand why some of our people are blaming this poverty situation on the laziness of the poor. We are products of a society that has taught us to look coldly on the impoverished plight of our brother Zambians. But it is not enough to avoid giving scandal, we must also draw nearer to the poor, for only then will we be able to change their situation radically. Our attitudes towards the poor should be set by real love, not by the standards of a society that tends to maintain the present situation. We must love everybody, but not everyone in the same way; you love the poor by helping to get them out of poverty; you love the exploiters by stopping them from exploiting the poor. Love has to be like a classifying device to become universal.

It would be dangerous to minimise the elements of real poverty. We shouldn’t forget that the poor are also the oppressed, the humble and for the most part, the rich, the powerful are to blame for causing this evil.

Poverty in our country will not be eradicated without the collaboration of all in the framework of a solidarity which includes everyone, beginning with the most neglected. But at the same time, solidarity demands a readiness to accept the sacrifices necessary for the good of the whole community.

We wish to appeal with simplicity and humility to everyone, without exception, to take measures inspired by solidarity and love of preference for the poor. We say this because this is what is demanded by the present moment and above all by the very dignity of the human person.

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Cops shoot at UNZA students

Cops shoot at UNZA students
By Patson Chilemba and Chiwoyu Sinyangwe
Saturday May 24, 2008 [04:00]

POLICE in Lusaka yesterday shot and wounded two University of Zambia (UNZA) students during a protest at the Great East Road campus. Chewe Chisala, a second year-student in the School of Engineering and Samuel Nasilele, a second year student in the School of Education, were shot during the protest where students were demanding an increment in meal allowances from the current K300,000 to K600,000.

The incident occurred around 11:00 hours on the campus grounds as police tried to control the students that were throwing stones and shouting. The two students were rushed to UNZA Clinic by their friends where they were attended to and later referred to the University Teaching Hospital (UTH).

And one of the health workers at UNZA clinic said the students were shot using live bullets.

"Certainly, they used live bullets because one went through the leg and the other one they shot in the chest. You can feel the particles of the metal," said the health worker.

UTH public relations manager Pauline Mbangweta confirmed that the two students suffered gunshot wounds. She said Chisala suffered a gunshot wound to the leg and that his condition was stable. However, Mbangweta said Nasilele - who suffered a wound in the chest - was not in a stable condition.

University of Zambia Students Union (UNZASU) vice-president Duncan Nyirongo demanded that police officers who shot at the students be brought to book. He said it was unacceptable that police could use live bullets against unarmed students, especially that they conducted their protest within campus grounds.

Acting deputy commissioner of police Emmanuel Chileshe said police would carry out investigations once they established that officers used live bullets against students. Chileshe said police were not allowed to use live bullets to disperse demonstrators. By press time, police were still keeping vigil at UNZA and students were waiting to be addressed by management.

Meanwhile, pupils at Lusaka's Kamwala High School yesterday protested over a decision by school authorities to introduce K50,000 clearance allowances. The pupils also protested over the lack of water at the school for the last four days.

And school head teacher Joel Kunkunta refused to comment on the confusion, referring all comments to the Ministry of Education headquarters.

According to eyewitnesses, the pupils trooped to Chilimbulu Road early morning and started throwing 'missiles'. But quick intervention by state police prevented the situation from degenerating into chaos.

A number of pupils spoken to accused Kunkuta of abusing the authority of his office by imposing a K50,000 clearance fee for all grade 12 pupils. The pupils alleged that Kunkunta wanted to buy a 4x4 vehicle from the money.

The pupils also alleged that most of the teachers at the school were in full support of the pupils' move as they too were discontent with the manner Kunkunta was running school affairs.

"The headmaster told us that the minibus that picks him from his home is too big and that's why he needed to buy a 4X4 vehicle," one pupil said. "But how can he buy such an expensive vehicle when the school has no proper facilities like running water in the toilets despite the fact that the school has a borehole... and every day we have to draw water from the drum. It's not healthy. And besides, this school already has a Canter light truck and a minibus, so why buy another vehicle and not just buying books for library?"

When reached for comment, Kunkunta said: "I can't issue a statement on the matter. You have to get permission from headquarters Ministry of Education before I could talk you."

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Mining has regained position as mainstay of economy, says Mwansa

Mining has regained position as mainstay of economy, says Mwansa
By Kabanda Chulu
Friday May 23, 2008 [04:00]

MINES minister Dr Kalombo Mwansa yesterday said the mining sector has regained its position as the mainstay of Zambia’s economy. And Dr Mwansa has said employment in the mining sector increased to 58,108 in 2007 from 35,355 in 2000 while the sector’s contribution to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) increased to 8.7 per cent in 2007 from 6.4 per cent in 2000.

Commenting on the 2008 Copperbelt, Mining, Agriculture and Commercial Show that takes place in Kitwe next week, Dr Mwansa said the mining sector’s growth was evident from other developments that had taken place over the years.

“Apart from increased GDP, employment creation and business opportunities for local suppliers of goods and services, the mining sector is growing with new developments taking place and these include establishment of new mines, construction of processing plants and increased exploration activities by private investors,” Dr Mwansa said. “And new mines have been established in non traditional mining areas and for traditional minerals and these include Lumwana in North Western and Munali Nickel in Southern Province and all these are examples of extension of mining activities to non-traditional mining areas.”

Dr Mwansa said the revised mines and minerals Act would enhance efficiency in the delivery of services relating to mining rights.

“Through the introduction of the computerised mining cadastre and geographical information system, fairness in the granting of mining rights will be adhered to through applying first-come-first-served principle and it will also eliminate possible overlaps of mining rights,” he said.

Dr Mwansa said the new system would also enhance availability of full history of licence life-circle for auditing and tracking of actions.

The Copperbelt Mining Agriculture and Commercial Show takes place from May 28 to June 1, 2008 under the theme: ‘mining delivers, agriculture develops and environment matters.’

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Levy pledges drastic action against corruption

Levy pledges drastic action against corruption
By Mwala Kalaluka
Saturday May 24, 2008 [04:00]

PRESIDENT Levy Mwanawasa has said he will never shy away from taking drastic measures against any government ministry where chronic corruption is detected. And US Ambassador to Zambia Carmen Martinez said the increasing news stories on corruption in the country are an indication of expanding openness to discussing issues of public and private corruption.

Officiating at the opening of the Ministry of Lands Customer Service Centre at Mulungushi House in Lusaka yesterday, President Mwanawasa said he was concerned over the levels of corruption in a certain government ministry.

Referring to the closure of the Ministry of Lands after the media exposed corrupt activities at the public institution last year, President Mwanawasa said the action taken against the officers was an example of his government’s steadfast resolve to root out corruption from its ranks.

“I am happy to be with you here today at the historic commissioning of the Ministry of Lands Customer Service Centre,” President Mwanawasa said. “Last year, I had to take drastic measures in order to stop corruption at the Ministry of Lands. I am on record of having said the Ministry of Lands stinks with corruption.

My statement follows revelations, particularly in the media, which exposed and revealed corruption in the ministry. The new deal administration is committed to fighting corruption and the revelations of the ministry had to be tackled vigorously. I was therefore compelled to halt the operations of the ministry and I directed law enforcement agencies to move in.”

He said subsequently, the government took a number of appropriate correctional measures aimed at cleansing the ministry of corruption.
“We have now defined a new process for a transparent, effective and efficient land administration system for our country,” President Mwanawasa said. “Land is our national heritage and source of wealth and it is imperative that the ministry charged with oversight and administration of land is clean beyond reproach.”
He reiterated his caution to public officers to detest from engaging in corruption.

“I shall not shy away from taking necessary steps to root out corruption wherever it is detected,” he said. “I take this opportunity to advise all public service personnel to make the challenge of building integrity and developing service delivery systems that are free from bribes and corruption.”
President Mwanawasa disclosed that one ministry was in the process of being visited by the law in view of its heightened levels of corruption.

“Allow me to issue a timely warning to other government ministries that I will not hesitate to do what happened to the Ministry of Lands to any corrupt ministry,” he said. “There is one ministry; it is on the roadmap to be visited by the law. I will not mention this ministry, they know themselves. It is high time they clean themselves before they are visited by the law in a big way.”

President Mwanawasa said the opening of a customer service centre at the lands ministry was a culmination of a two-year programme being championed by the United States (US) government through the Millennium Challenge Account under the Zambia Threshold Programme.

He said the projects, which were being carried out under the programme had helped reduce corruption occurrences within the selected public service institutions.
“I am aware that at the Immigration business and transactions are being conducted in an open and transparent manner,” he noted. “It is evident that delivering services in this type of environment where administrative red tape is reduced ensures customer satisfaction…”
President Mwanawasa said even though the fight against corruption was against a pervasive enemy, it was one that the Zambian government and people had no choice but to win.

“The type of openness and transparency in the delivery of service to the people of Zambia makes the Customer Service Centre, we are commissioning today, a key element in this fight,” he said. “Here in this centre, the government and its constituents can hold each other accountable to ethics and rules which aid our interaction.”
President Mwanawasa expressed satisfaction at the efforts made by the Ministry of Lands to put its house in order vis-à-vis the corruption crusade.

“According to revenue projections last year the Ministry of Lands was expected to collect K10.9 billion. I am pleased to note that the projection was exceeded and K20.4 billion was collected,” President Mwanawasa said.

“This is commendable and I congratulate the minister and his officials. I thank our cooperating partners for providing the support which has made this effort possible.”

And Ambassador Martinez said reporters were deepening their understanding of the often complex world of corruption, and that their editors were giving them the freedom to write on these themes.
She also noted that the local civil society organisations were in turn taking a more active and robust position that holds the public officials accountable for their actions.

“The results of this discourse speak for themselves…Zambians are now emboldened to take that dialogue into the public arena,” Ambassador Martinez said. “Zambian citizens from all walks of life have made it crystal clear that corruption has no place in their country.”

However, she told President Mwanawasa that more challenges still lie ahead in the anti-corruption crusade.

She urged President Mwanawasa to continue exercising the leadership and commitment necessary for Zambia to fight the battle.
Ambassador Martinez further urged the government to enact key laws that promote openness and accountability such as the Freedom of Information Act, which she said would help further open the inner workings of the government to the public as well as the Whistleblowers’ Protection Act and the Asset Forfeiture Act.

“Passage of these laws in the coming year will demonstrate to the Zambian people and the international community your government’s continued commitment to stamping out corruption,” Ambassador Martinez said. “The United States has been, and will remain, an enthusiastic and solid ally in your campaign against corruption. With each accomplishment we celebrate with you.”

Ministry of Lands acting permanent secretary, Pola Kimena said the ministry was still on a path of self-cleansing following corrupt activities that led to the closure of the institution last year.
Pola asked for more funds to roll-out the cleansing programme to the provincial centres.

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Sisala dismisses claims of load shedding in mines

Sisala dismisses claims of load shedding in mines
By Kabanda Chulu
Saturday May 24, 2008 [04:00]

STAKEHOLDERS have dismissed finance ministry permanent secretary Emmanuel Ngulube’s assertions that the government may not get the projected US$ 415 million from mining windfall taxes due to load shedding. And Zesco Limited managing director Rhodnie Sisala said the current load shedding would not affect investments in the mining sector. During submissions to the parliamentary committee on estimates this week, Ngulube said the power outages were a challenge to the government because they would affect production from the mines.

“The projected revenue collections of US $ 415 million from the mining industry for this year many not be achieved because of power outages, therefore, we expect the revenue to reduce,” said Ngulube.

However, when making submissions to the same committee yesterday, Sisala said the mines were not affected by load shedding.
“The mines are not affected by the current load shedding and their investments will not be affected,” said Sisala.

And ATRADE managing director Trevor Simumba explained that Copperbelt Energy Corporation was a reliable supplier of power to the mines even in terms of national power blackouts.

Simumba said most mining companies were customers of Copperbelt Energy.
“Copperbelt Energy is very reliable in supplying power to the mines as was evidenced even during the national blackout when the company managed to import power urgently from DR Congo just to keep the mines in operations,” said Simumba.

Copperbelt Energy has entered into a long-term Bulk Supply Agreement with Zesco Limited that ensures a reliable and effective supply of electricity to the mines.

Copperbelt Energy also has in place four stand-by diesel powered sub stations that could mitigate power outages by generating 80 mega watts of power for the mines.

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Former minister goes in for fraud

Former minister goes in for fraud
By Inonge Noyoo
Saturday May 24, 2008 [04:00]

LUSAKA magistrate Sharon Newa yesterday sentenced former Northern Province minister Claver Silavwe to 18 months imprisonment on charges of theft, forgery and uttering false documents. This is a matter in which Silavwe, who is also Nakonde MMD member of parliament, was charged with one count of theft by public servant, nine counts of forgery and one count of uttering false documents.

Silavwe was alleged to have stolen K158,360,000 between March 1, 2005 and August 30, 2006 in Kasama while employed as a public servant in the public service. He is, during the same period, alleged to have forged receipts in Lusaka from Northmead HP Lodge receipt number 3481 for the sum of K10 million by purporting that it was genuinely issued by the said lodge when in fact not.

Silavwe is also alleged to have forged a Millennium Lodge receipt number 5133 for the sum of K5 million, a Lusaka Hotel receipt number 1727 for the sum of K9 million, an SGC Investments receipt number 17327 for the sum of K1.7 million, a cash sale receipt number 5461 for the sum of K1.4 million, three receipts from Peach Guesthouse, a receipt from Cha Cha Cha Guest House and a receipt from North Point Lodge.

Magistrate Newa sentenced Silavwe to 18 months on the second count, nine months on the third count, 18 months on the fourth count, six months on the fifth count, nine months on the ninth count, nine months on count 10 and 18 months on count 11, to run concurrently.

However, Silavwe was acquitted on counts one, six and eight.
Delivering judgment, magistrate Newa said it was a fact that Silavwe was a provincial minister and had obtained imprest through the period he served as minister.

She said Silavwe was asked to retire the imprest following a circular from the Secretary to the Cabinet on the retirement of imprest.
On the first count, magistrate Newa found that there was no evidence adduced to show that Silavwe obtained imprest, did not use it for the purpose intended and converted it for his own use.
She said a National Assembly accounts official testified that part of the imprest had already been recovered from his gratuity.
Magistrate Newa said the ingredients for theft in count one was therefore incomplete and the prosecution failed to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt.

On the second count, magistrate Newa said no standard practice was used in the issuance of receipts and no chronological order was followed. She said from the facts of the case, she found that the receipt in question was forged.

Magistrate Newa said though there was no direct evidence to show that Silavwe forged the receipt, the fact that he certified the receipts meant that he was privy to the forgery and as guilty as the person who forged it. She made the same findings in respect of the third, fourth and fifth counts in which he allegedly forged receipts from Northmead HP lodge, Lusaka Hotel and fuel receipts from SGC Investments.

Magistrate Newa said the prosecution had proved its case and found him guilty forthwith.
On the sixth count, magistrate Newa said the prosecution failed to prove its case against Silavwe and acquitted him forthwith.
On the seventh count, magistrate Newa found that the receipts from Cha Cha Cha Guest House were forged and found him guilty.
However, on the eighth count regarding receipts from Peach Guest House, the prosecution failed to prove that the receipts were forged and Silavwe was acquitted.

On the ninth and 10th counts, magistrate Newa found that Silavwe forged the receipts from Peach Guest House and was guilty of uttering the false documents in count 11.
Magistrate Newa said the prosecution had discharged its burden as the receipts were forged.

In mitigation, Silavwe's lawyer Paulman Chungu pleaded with the court to exercise leniency on his client because he was a first offender.

Chungu said records had shown that opportunity still existed to recover the outstanding balance when Silavwe's gratuity was payable. He said Silavwe's conviction was a culmination of conduct in an attempt to reconcile his obviously poor records as he attempted to retire the receipts.

Chungu pleaded that Silavwe was a breadwinner of his household of eight children, all of school-going age.

Passing the sentence, magistrate Newa said forgery was a serious offence and Silavwe being a person who served in a very senior portfolio was expected to lead by example.
Magistrate Newa said Silavwe failed in his duties.

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Zim govt denies receiving military hardware from China

Zim govt denies receiving military hardware from China
By George Chellah in Harare, Zimbabwe
Saturday May 24, 2008 [04:00]

THE Zimbabwean government has denied receiving the controversial military hardware from China after the ship - An Yue Jiang - that was carrying the weapons was prevented from docking in South Africa. Defence minister Dr Sydney Sekeramayi told reporters in Harare that the military consignment had never reached Zimbabwe.

Dr Sekeramayi’s comments come in the wake of recent reports in the South African media that the military hardware had reached Zimbabwe and that the weapons may have been off-loaded in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) or Angola.

Dr Sekeramayi, who described the controversy that surrounded the matter as hullabaloo, said the ship did not dock and that the equipment had not been delivered.

He said Zimbabwe had been procuring equipment from China.
“The shipment is part of a routine procurement of equipment for our defence,” Dr Sekeramayi said.

And Chinese foreign ministry officials denied the claim stating that the ship was on its way back to China.
Foreign ministry spokesperson Qin Gang said the media reports were baseless and purely fictitious.

“The Chinese side has already said many times that the weapons sold to Zimbabwe will return on the An Yue Jiang. The ship is currently on its way back to China,” he said.
The An Yue Jiang was compelled to abort plans to deliver the weapons in South Africa last month after unionised workers refused to offload the military hardware.

Earlier during the launch of the education awareness campaign to mark the 60th anniversary of the United Nations (UN) International Day of Peacekeepers, Dr Sekeramayi applauded the UN for its efforts to bring peace to all corners of the world. He said without such efforts, the world would be an inhabitable place for mankind.
Dr Sekeramayi said the commemoration gives the UN and other stakeholders chance to reflect on the challenges that had been faced in the past peacekeeping efforts.

He said some of the peacekeeping mission’s duties include essential services such as supervision of elections, disarming of opposing factions and monitoring human rights practices.

Dr Sekeramayi said Zimbabwe’s participation in peacekeeping missions started in 1991 when it was requested by the UN to contribute troops to the peacekeeping mission in Angola, to restore peace and achieve national reconciliation between UNITA and MPLA. He said Zimbabwe also monitored the demobilisation process and the free movement of people and goods in Angola.

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Tsvangirai attributes xenophobia attacks in SA to Zim circumstances

Tsvangirai attributes xenophobia attacks in SA to Zim circumstances
By Kingsley Kaswende in Johannesburg, South Africa
Saturday May 24, 2008 [04:00]

MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai has blamed the circumstances in Zimbabwe as the immediate cause of the extreme xenophobic attacks on foreigners in South Africa that has claimed over 50 lives. As the violence spread from Gauteng Province to other provinces such as Mpumalanga, Limpopo, Kwa-Zulu Natal and the Cape on Thursday, Tsvangirai said it was disappointing that "a brother should hate a brother."

On Thursday, he visited victims of violence camped at Alexandra Police Station.
"We in the MDC understand the problems you are facing," Tsvangirai said, standing on a table. "We are shocked by the plight of men and women who have left their country to a country in the region not of their own volition but because of circumstances back home. What I want to say to you is that the cause of this plight is none other than our political circumstances back home.

We are Africans, but we are members of the same family. What we should be doing is find a solution so that those who can't find jobs and food back home do not have to come and find they are unwelcome here."
Violence against foreigners flared up in poor townships of Johannesburg 10 days ago but has now spread to most provinces in the country.

An estimated 30,000 people have been displaced from their homes and are being housed in tents at police stations.
A joint operation between the South African Police Service and the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) in the early hours of Thursday brought the number of those arrested for perpetrating violence to 400 on Thursday.

The army's assistance was authorised by President Thabo Mbeki on Wednesday.
And MDC secretary general Tendai Biti has warned of an explosive situation in Zimbabwe if ZANU-PF steals the runoff votes of the June 27 election.
Delivering a public lecture on events in Zimbabwe at the University of the Witwatersrand on Thursday night, Biti said Zimbabweans had exhausted all legal channels of trying to prevent ZANU-PF from stealing the vote but had failed.

"Zimbabwean people have done what they could but they now need a midwife to deliver their baby. If Mugabe steals the election, it is a very dangerous position for Zimbabwe and the region and not for the MDC," he told hundreds of students and lecturers in the Great Hall of the university. "Zimbabweans have exhausted every avenue such as the court, the international fora to resolve the situation.

We have done everything peaceful and constitutional. History has answers of how dictators have been dealt with and removed from power. There is a point at which people will choose to be no longer democratic and tell us who have been democratic that ‘we are now irrelevant'. If Mugabe steals the election, Zimbabwe will be led into a matrix that will not be controlled."
Biti described as tragic a scenario where there were no talks between ZANU-PF and MDC attempting to prevent any explosive situation.

"Currently, there are no talks between ZANU-PF and MDC, which I consider tragic. We are heading for a runoff and if things don't go right the situation may explode," he said.
Biti also said Zimbabweans who lived in the diaspora held the key vote for MDC and that they should return home to vote on June 27.

"We are very close but we could be very far away. If Zimbabweans who are outside can go and vote, we can ensure victory. We've shown that we can defeat the dictator even in extremely difficult conditions," he said.

Biti said President Robert Mugabe knew very well that he lost the last election but had pushed for a runoff as a last attempt to retain power.
Biti said he, with Tsvangirai, would return home today.
"We have been out of Zimbabwe doing very important work. It was necessary work and we are now returning home," Biti said.

There has been growing criticism levelled at the MDC leadership for staying out of Zimbabwe, as their supporters bear the brunt of post-election violence.

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Friday, May 23, 2008

(AFRICAN EXECUTIVE) Smallholder Farmers Must Feed Us!

Smallholder Farmers Must Feed Us!

Our smallholder farmers can feed us if we change our attitude towards farming
Skyrocketing food prices are not only pushing people to desperation and hunger, but may lead to annihilation of populations in Africa. Of the 36 'crisis' countries named by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), 21 are from Africa. Over 75% of Africa's 980 million people are frontline soldiers (smallholder farmers) in battling hunger! For years, our governments have always stated that 'agriculture is the backbone of the economy.' Why are then we running out of food?

Our foot soldiers (read- smallholder farmers) have endured myriad onslaughts that have left them numb. First was the attack from 'exotic' crop varieties such as maize, wheat, pawpaws, citrus fruit, and 'sukuma', among others, which reorganized their dietary habits. The demand for indigenous foods dropped and forced them to attempt production of 'exotic' crops. The modern day farmer's definition of hunger may be lack of maize, rice and perhaps wheat.

Smallholder farming faced yet another onslaught from colonial demand for labor force. Able-bodied men started migrating from villages to work on huge commercial farms and in government offices as clerks. Farming was consequently relegated to the school drop-outs and the illiterate! Governments and businesses worsened the matter by making it a habit to award ox-ploughs to retirees. Any time a politician is fired from a government position - he/she will be awarded with farm implements and talk of going to farm. In other words, only retirees, and rejects from the formal system of the economy are expected to be on the frontline against hunger. Schools on the other hand would punish devious students by assigning them agricultural tasks such as digging, planting and weeding.This cultivated a mentality in the youth that farming is a punishment.

The rigidity in farming methods has made it difficult for our farmers to feed Africa. The African Union estimates that over 200 million Africans are faced with famine. Big countries such as the United States of America buy food donations from American farmers and ship them on U.S flagged cargo. As a result, 65% of the cost towards food aid is consumed by America itself, and the food that lands in Africa distorts the agro-markets. Donors do not approach successful African farmers to supply countries with need; so market signals never reach our small- holder farmer.

The smallholder farmer is adversely affected by the high oil prices. Remember our small holder farmer's mode of transport used to be 'on-foot-on-leg' and ox - pulled carts. Suddenly, he found himself in a global economy driven by oil. Increased oil prices, the struggle to control energy sources by superpowers and global warming prophets created demand for biofuels that have suddenly led to a drop in (food) cereal supply. Lester Brown (Founder, Worldwatch Institute) argues that 800 million motorists who want to keep mobile are now competing for grains with 2 billion poorest people who want to survive.

As the Inter Region Economic Network (IREN) concludes its workshop on Improving the Life of Smallholder Farmers through Services, one can clearly see that Africa has an inefficient and ill equipped army against famine on its frontline. Our smallholder farmers can feed us if we change our attitude towards farming and get more youth interested; change our land policies both cultural and legal, reform our policies in Africa that impose high tariffs on intra Africa agricultural goods and target Africa as a market of a billion people. Looming food crisis, new food demand by China, developed country reduction of farmland available for food stuffs in favor for biofuel crops should be enough reason for us to position our farmers to supply the global market.

The challenges facing smallholder farmers are indeed many. However, the workshop which attracted academia, agribusiness, smallholder farmers, policymakers and experts from from Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria, Tanzania, Cote De Voire, Senegal, Zimbabwe and Europe, among others, has demonstrated that multistakeholder linkages will help stir up the strong business robustness within smallholder farmers.

By James Shikwati
Mr. Shikwati is the Director of Inter Region Economic Network

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(HERALD) Zim: Battleground for true Uhuru

Zim: Battleground for true Uhuru
Herald Reporter

THE presidential election run-off in Zimbabwe should not be viewed as a simple election but the last battle between Western imperialism and absolute African liberation. President Mugabe has become the epicentre of resistance against the express exploitation of Africa’s rich resources by the West.

It would be foolhardy for anyone to believe that the election is only between President Mugabe and MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai because in essence the tried and tested ultimate warrior President Mugabe is the last bastion of African resistance against colonialism and neo-colonialism.

On the other hand, the West supports Tsvangirai because they see him as a man they can easily manipulate to gain access to Africa’s life-saving resources. There are many Tsvangirais that have been created in Africa and have paved way for exploitation of their people and resources for the powerful dollar.

Battlelines have been drawn for June 27 and the West sees President Mugabe as the last obstacle in their attempts to overrun southern Africa that should fall and pave way for a more subtle form of colonialism which will give the West express rights over Africa’s rich resources.

Everyone should know that the British and the Americans will not sleep as long as they see stumbling blocks in their endeavour to have maximum exploitation of Africa’s natural resources.

The election in Zimbabwe can not be defined further than the fact that it is the true imperialist West versus true African resistance.

America and Britain are fighting Zimbabwe and indeed the whole of Africa to gain access to resources that gave their population better life while subjecting Africans to abject poverty on the pretext that their citizens are more superior than Africans.

The line of thought is that Africans have no right to those rich resources on their soil, as the resources should benefit the White West and advance their scandalous affluence at the expense of black Africans. Once a coloniser always a coloniser!

It is his defiance and resistance to white adventure that President Mugabe committed his "crime" against the Bush administration and Britain that has earned him all the terms such as dictator, despot and others. Once a liberator always a liberator!

Now Bush has set September as the deadline to establish the African command, a US military group permanently resident in Africa and is desperate to have it put in place before his term of office expires in November.

Africom will largely give the United States the much needed impetus to co-ordinate US resource exploitation in Africa, disguised as military co-operation.

Africa can only sleep at its own peril while the US creates bases that will eventually be used to deal with progressive governments and subsequently effective regime change that will give an express licence to resource exploitation.

To illustrate my point the Bush administration has solidified its militaristic engagement with Africa.

In February 2007, the Department of Defense announced the creation of a new US Africa Command infrastructure, code name AFRICOM, to "coordinate all US military and security interests throughout the continent."

"This new command will strengthen our security co-operation with Africa," President Bush said in a White House statement, "and create new opportunities to bolster the capabilities of our partners in Africa."

Ordering that AFRICOM be created by September 30, 2008, Bush said "Africa Command will enhance our efforts to bring peace and security to the people of Africa and promote our common goals of development, health, education, democracy, and economic growth in Africa."

The general assumption of this policy is that prioritising security through a unilateral framework will somehow bring health, education, and development to Africa.

In this way, the Department of Defense presents itself as the best architect and arbiter of US Africa policy.

According to Navy Rear Admiral Robert Moeller, director of the AFRICOM transition team, "By creating AFRICOM, the Defense Department will be able to

co-ordinate better its own activities in Africa as well as help coordinate the work of other U.S. government agencies, particularly the State Department and the US Agency for International Development."

This military-driven US engagement with Africa reflects the desperation of the Bush administration to control the increasingly strategic natural resources on the African continent, especially oil, gas, and uranium.

With increased competition from China, among other countries, for those resources, the United States wants above all else to strengthen its foothold in resource-rich regions of Africa.

While the Bush administration endlessly beats the drums for its "global war on terror," the rise of AFRICOM underscores that the real interests of neo-conservatives has less to do with al-Qaeda than with more access and control of extractive industries, particularly oil and land.

Responsibility for operations on the African continent is currently divided among three distinct Commands: US European Command, which has responsibility for nearly 43 African countries; US Central Command, which has responsibility for Egypt, Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Somalia, and Kenya; and US Pacific Command, which has responsibility for Madagascar, the Seychelles, and the countries off the coast of the Indian Ocean.

Until December 2006 when the United States began to assist Ethiopia in its invasion of Somalia, all three existing Commands have maintained a relatively low-key presence, often using elite special operations forces to train, equip, and work alongside national militaries.

A new Africa Command, based potentially in or near oil-rich West Africa would consolidate these existing operations while also bringing international engagement, from development to diplomacy, even more in line with US military objectives.

Africa and indeed Zimbabweans must therefore, rise to the occasion and stand by President Mugabe as he stands eyeball to eyeball with the West in a ring match that will decide Africa’s destiny.

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(HERALD) MDC-T terror gang nabbed

MDC-T terror gang nabbed
Herald Reporters

TWELVE suspected MDC-T thugs were arrested in Mutare yesterday after they were found in possession of axes, chain blades and sjamboks they were allegedly using to commit various acts of violence as they moved around in a pick-up truck belonging to the opposition party. The arrests come just 24 hours before the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission today meets both Zanu-PF and MDC-T to examine how best the parties could peacefully resolve their differences ahead of the June 27 presidential election run-off.

ZEC chairperson Justice George Chiweshe and Acting Attorney-General Justice Bharat Patel yesterday condemned violence.

Justice Chiweshe said violence would not create a conducive atmosphere for a free and fair election while Justice Patel has urged the courts to deal with cases of political violence effectively and expeditiously.

The weapons allegedly used to commit acts of violence across the country were found hidden under the driver’s seat and police have since impounded the vehicle — an Isuzu pick-up truck with an MDC logo — that was being used by the suspects.

The suspects, who hail from different parts of the country as far apart as Chipinge, Harare, Masvingo and Chinhoyi, were arrested after their intended victim escaped and alerted the police at Mutasa Central Police Station.

Police spokesperson Chief Superintendent Oliver Mandipaka said the police reacted swiftly to the tip-off and impounded the vehicle along Bonda Mission Road.

"We are reliably informed that these perpetrators are using marked or unmarked vehicles to terrorise people in the communities.

"They would go and perpetrate the acts of violence and retreat to their hidden bases, which we are still to establish," Chief Supt Mandipaka said.

Most of the suspects revealed that they were MDC-T polling agents in the Mutasa area during the March 29 harmonised elections.

Chief Supt Mandipaka said in most acts of violence reported, MDC-T thugs disguised themselves as Zanu-PF supporters by wearing the party’s regalia and beating people to taint the party’s name.

He said police have committed themselves to impounding all the vehicles that are being used in these activities.

"We are geared to thwart their hidden operating bases because we have noted that these perpetrators do not hail from one village and we strongly understand that they are carrying out these activities for payment."

The suspects were still detained at Mutasa Central Police Station by yesterday. The arrests come at a time when Zanu-PF and the MDC-T are expected to hold talks in Harare today under the multi-party liaison committee facilitated by the ZEC as part of preparations for the presidential election run-off set for June 27.

Today’s talks — the first under the multi-party liaison committee after the March 29 joint presidential, parliamentary and council elections — will discuss problems encountered by the parties so far in their campaigns for the run-off.

ZEC deputy director of public relations Mr Tendayi Pamire in an interview yesterday confirmed the meeting would take place today.

"The multi-party liaison committee is meeting tomorrow (today). We have invited only Zanu-PF and MDC-T because these are the only parties taking part in the run-off.

"The parties are expected to discuss the problems they are facing so far in their campaigns for the presidential run-off," Mr Pamire said.

Commissioner Mrs Sarah Kachingwe will chair the meeting.

Mr Pamire said the multi-party liaison committee would carry out a post-mortem of the March 29 elections once the run-off is complete.

He said they could not do so soon after the March polls because the electoral process would only be complete after the run-off.

Mr Pamire said ZEC has already contacted both parties for today’s meeting and they expressed their willingness to attend.

The meeting is also expected to look at how best the contesting parties should resolve their differences peacefully.

Justice Chiweshe urged Zanu-PF and MDC-T to campaign peacefully, saying violence would not create a conducive environment for a free and fair poll while Justice Patel agitated for co-ordinated efforts in order to dispose cases of violence as effectively and expeditiously as possible,

"The commission deplores politically motivated violence from any quarter as this does not assist the commission in creating an environment conducive for free and fair elections. So we are urging political parties to urge their supporters to desist from violence," said Justice Chiweshe.

In a statement yesterday, Justice Patel said the seriousness of offences of violence necessitated prompt and determined responses to ensure that the cases were speedily dealt with.

"In this regard, appropriate measures have been put in place to ensure that public prosecutors and the magistracy co-ordinate their efforts in order to dispose these cases as effectively and expeditiously as is possible," Justice Patel said.

He implored prosecutors and magistrates to deal with the cases firmly and fairly.

"The prosecutors handling these matters have been directed to deal firmly but fairly with each case, without regard to the political affiliation of the offenders."

Justice Patel noted that cases of political violence were declining throughout the country.

"From the feedback received by the Attorney General’s Office, it would appear that the scale and occurrence of public violence has begun to abate throughout the country.

"In any event, the office intends to monitor the situation on a regular basis and to take decisive action as and when it becomes necessary."

Justice Patel said since May 18, 2008, 80 cases of violence were reported in six provinces excluding Matabeleland and Midlands.

"The alleged offences cover a wide range of acts of public violence, including abduction, assault, malicious damage to property, robbery and offensive utterances. There is also one case of murder and two cases of attempted murder."

He said according to the Zimbabwe Republic Police, the offences were being attributed to both MDC-T and Zanu-PF.

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(HERALD) SA: Why is brother fighting brother?

SA: Why is brother fighting brother?
By Amengeo Amengeo

THE recent outburst of criminal violence against Africans seeking employment has less to do with "xenophobia" as touted by the reactionary Press but more to do with chronic unresolved anger of the black South African masses. In other words, defenceless people are merely convenient scapegoats for something deeper and more sinister which, unless addressed immediately will drag South Africa and the region into a slippery abyss.

In the closing chapters of the apartheid catastrophe (when the ANC was abandoning its ‘‘humane’’ guerrilla war and was at last prepared to take the lives of its oppressors) a wave of alarm swept through the intelligence echelons of apartheid’s secret supporters (in London, Washington, Tel Aviv, Berlin and Paris) in the West.

These nations had given tacit approval to Pretoria’s brutal suppression of black aspirations for freedom and skilfully used the canard of the ‘‘communist threat’’ to justify their business ties to one of the most reprehensible regimes to ever besmirch the earth.

The Cuban-Angolan victory at Cuito Cuanavale sounded the death knell of the regime. If the region, perhaps the continent, were not to descend in a Gotterdammerung of racial war which the Boers would certainly have lost, something had to be done fast.

The townships were becoming no-go areas. A blood-lust had developed among the Africans, promising a horrific revenge if the regime fell to the people.

The CIA analysed the regime’s internal weakness. Cool heads in the agency pushed for establishing contacts with the ANC (despite the "terrorist" designation) to influence any outcome. Deals had to be made.

Mandela had to freed, but under what circumstances? There is no doubt that, seeing the writing on the wall, Western intelligence decided that the end of apartheid must have a soft landing.

We must remember that although apartheid officially became law in 1948 when the Boer nationalists won elections, racist oppression of the black majority was de rigeur since the first Dutch interlopers landed on the Cape 400 years ago.

Centuries of humiliation, denial of basic human rights and de facto slavery guaranteed that a black popular revolution would make the bloodletting of the French and Haitian Revolutions look like a picnic. In fact, in the township resistance councils, lists were already drawn up for those who would receive justice in peoples’ courts and how to deal with collaborators and spies. If Mandela had died in custody, nothing would quell the people’s rage. Mandela had to be freed, but with conditions. Under no circumstances would a revolutionary situation be allowed to develop. Thus deals were made.

Mandela will probably carry the secrets to the grave but the fact remains, deals were made to abort the people’s just anger. Bishop Tutu called for forgiveness as did Mandela-forgiving his jailers. Mandela, the charismatic icon called for peace.

Many were perplexed. There would be no toppling of the symbols of repression — the grim statues of white oppressors who had brought so much pain for so long; no Nuremberg trials for the architects of the egregious example of man’s inhumanity to man; now accounting for 400 years of humiliation, for as long as apartheid existed, no black person anywhere in the world was free. Although a stain on the honour of the African people, not a single perpetrator of apartheid answered for his crimes.

Yet the rage remained. With no outlet since this was denied in the name of ‘‘forgiveness’’ and ‘‘reconciliation,’’ the rage had to be expressed elsewhere.

Since the ‘‘end’’ of apartheid (and this is moot since whites still control the economy, the courts and the land) South Africa has experienced unparalleled levels of violence, much of it directed inwardly.

The people’s rage like an unstoppable river had to find its way and it fell back on itself. The late African-Martinician revolutionary Franz Fanon warned that a people, denied outlets for their anger will turn this rage inward, teetering on a pre-revolutionary precipice.

The anger and horrific brutality expressed in South African violence and crime are not the acts of mad people, but the acts of people made mad by the denial of justice and closure against those who oppressed them for so long. These people have been placed out of reach by the insane generosity of ‘‘forgiveness’’ and ‘‘reconciliation’’ offered without the consent of the people.

The unfortunate ‘‘immigrants’’ who have every right to be in South Africa, since without their unswerving support and solidarity apartheid could never have been toppled, are convenient scapegoats subjected to ‘‘xenophobia’’ — destined to be the new divisive buzzword — while the government stands aghast, caught off guard by a situation they should have seen coming.

This is a very, very dangerous time not just for South Africa, but the entire Continent.

How can Pan-Africanism succeed if African nations maintain their unrealistic solitudes as ‘‘nations,’’ seeking answers in the West rather than within themselves, nurturing dependencies on Western ‘‘aid,’’ clinging to alien ideas and cultural mores rather than rediscovering and redefining what it means to be African?

How can Mozambicans, Malawians, Somalis and others of the region be called ‘‘foreigners’’ by their fellow Africans while nationalities from Eastern Europe, Lebanon and the descendants of apartheid’s founders claim that they are Africans with more privileges than the indigenous people?

Who are the real foreigners? Who really takes the jobs? Who controls the economy? Who is the real threat?

Just the way historical injustices contributed immensely to Kenya’s post election crisis, the ANC government needs to address this problem swiftly before it becomes a chronic sore.

It is time that African nations thought long term in all their deliberations and addressed issues exhaustively to avoid future skirmishes.

Africa can ill-afford yet another divisive, brutal conflict which pits brother against brother while "well wishers" wait on the sidelines to open new refugee camps.

Amengeo Amengeo is a specialist in Spanish, Latin American, Caribbean as well as African History. He has also been a journalist, civil servant and graphic artist. This article is reproduced courtesy of

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(HERALD) West should address S. Africa xenophobia

West should address S. Africa xenophobia

EDITOR — I have been closely following events prior, during and after the harmonised elections as well as the present period focusing on xenophobic attacks on black foreigners living in South Africa. When there were "rumours" of post-election violence in Zimbabwe , the US, Britain and anti-Zimbabwe organisations cried foul, alleging "a humanitarian crisis" had gripped Zimbabwe and threatened Sadc.

Remember these were just rumours perpetrated by anti-Zimbabwe media which were not even in Zimbabwe during the harmonised elections.

Recently, a foreigner was set ablaze and minutes later died on his way to hospital in SA, a woman had to give birth at the police station fearing for her baby’s life and her own. Up to 42 people have died so far and several others have been displaced and there are more problems promising in South African townships.

No statement has been forthcoming from the US State Department, which is always first off the blocks whenever allegations are raised about Zimbabwe.

Even poor James McGee appears to have lost his voice.

If you could use unsubstantiated reports of violence to claim a humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe, isn’t what is happening in South Africa "a humanitarian crisis"? And let’s hear your words if the word "objectivity" is still in your dictionary.

Dr Mwedzi.


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(HERALD) Selous Scouts are back

Selous Scouts are back
By Peter Mavunga

THE Selous Scouts are back with a vengeance. With modern weaponry, 4x4s and much forex, they are back to kill, maim and torture the rural folks of Zimbabwe. Then they take pictures and distribute them on the World Wide Web as evidence of Zanu-PF-inspired atrocities in the so-called Operation Mavhotera Papi.

I received one such e-mail this week. It carried pictures of dead bodies with untold injuries; mutilated bodies depicting hideous cruelty. The running commentary suggested the Zanu-PF militia did it as a revenge against the rural people for daring to vote for and celebrating an MDC victory and to ensure they vote for President Mugabe in the run-off.

Curiously enough, the atrocities seem to have been targeted at recent resettlements where one of the victims is said to have been forced to tie himself in the neck with a rope, climb a tree, tie the other end of the rope to a tree and then jump. A CIO agent is said to have ordered the family to bury the body while taking away with him the postmortem report.

Now I understand that the new American ambassador in the company of MDC people has been to see a number of such torture camps. It is said they found a proper torture camp, complete with exercise books listing names of targets strewn around. The subtext is that the CIO agents are so inept they do these things and leave evidence to be discovered. And the world has been told and conditioned into believing that only Mugabe’s agents commit these atrocities. One of the pictures on the Internet has a caption that simply says: "This is unacceptable", implying as given the fact that CIO agents did it.

And that is not a difficult assertion to make. The people carrying out the atrocities are black people, not their white counterparts who fund them. There are many who enjoy being used in this way. After all, there is money in it for them and the satisfaction of discrediting President Mugabe and his Zanu-PF all the way to the UN is all too mouthwatering to miss.

But I think we should stick to what is already known and apply some logic to it rather than be so gullible. The people who committed atrocities in our country were the Rhodesians. Back in 1975 Father Dieter Scholz, a German Jesuit serving as deputy chairman of the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace, left Salisbury for London carrying dossiers on atrocities committed by the security forces.

On arrival he found that the vital manuscript had been removed from his suitcase by the Rhodesian CID. Nevertheless, shortly afterwards "The Man in the Middle" was published. This report brought to the public attention for the first time the appalling conditions prevailing in the protected villages and the brutal methods employed by the security forces in the war zones.

At the same time the Justice and Peace Commission lawyers were preparing private legal action against Desmond Lardner-Burke, the Minister of Law and Order. To put paid to these threatened legal actions, the government rushed through its notorious Compensation and Indemnity Act.

John Wrathall, as president, explained to the House of Assembly: "It is unfortunately inevitable that anti-terrorist activity by the security forces sometimes causes injury and loss to civilians. It is wrong that bona fide actions done in the national interest should lead to litigation against those alleged to be responsible."

On July 2 1976, Van der Byl told the House that villages found harbouring guerrillas "will be bombed and destroyed in any manner which the commander on the spot considers desirable".

On July 22 1976 black and white soldiers surrounded a house at Mtize Chikata Kraal, Mutoko. They set up office in one of the huts and proceeded to interrogate the villagers one by one including a boy, Athanasio Mutikiti. After some time another boy came running to Athanasio’s father to ask him if his son ever had fits — in any case Athanasio had just died.

The soldiers allowed the father inside the hut where Athanasio lay stripped naked and soaking wet. The soldiers explained that they had wanted to keep him cool; the body was removed to Bindura Hospital; the father was told his son had died from a blocked windpipe "when the fit began".

They paraded young children before corpses routinely. It happened, for instance, at Chikore Mission School, 230 kilometres south of Mutare, when on three occasions pupils were shown bodies which the security forces had brought to the school and dumped in the parking lot — genitals exposed, fingers cut off from the knuckles, horrifying. Not surprisingly 140 of the school’s 380 pupils responded to this treatment by walking across the border into Mozambique in July 1976, whereupon the government closed the school and expelled five teachers.

This is but a small segment of the atrocities the Rhodesians perpetrated against civilians. They could do so with impunity. They did not need the African vote. Many of our young people born after independence may not appreciate that under white rule, black people had no vote that could influence who would be in government or who should be prime minister.

That was the privilege of the white person, few though they were. And because they controlled the army, the police and all the rest of it, they imposed their will on the majority of black people in the country. That is why they could terrorise pupils of Chikore Mission School or villagers in the so-called protected villages in Chiweshe and killing hundreds of young people like Athanasio.

The point is that they did not need the black person’s vote. In terms of elections, black people were dispensable, objects that could be discarded as unwanted rubbish. The purpose of torturing them and parading dead corpses in front of young, impressionable children was to cow everyone else into submission. Everyone had to accept the status quo. The white man should rule forever. As Ian Smith famously said, he did not believe in black majority rule, not in a thousand years.

But for the pupils of Chikore Mission School, to use them as an example, enough was enough. They wanted to go out there and fight for the right to vote. I know they went out there to fight for more than just a right to vote, but I’ll keep it simple here. They wanted the right to vote, the right to determine how they are governed.

And that is how everyone in Zimbabwe got their right to vote: through fighting. Is it not a terrible indictment of those who purported to champion the so-called civilised standards that they were prepared to go to great lengths to protect their privileges. But my point here is that they did not need the black vote so they could afford to commit atrocities with impunity. Since independence, however, the Government of Zimbabwe has been chosen by popular vote. No section of the population has special privileges or status in terms of choosing the leader or government. Everyone’s vote is the same.

More importantly, Zimbabwe has not skipped elections. Democracy has never been suspended. Voters have been consulted every five years to decide who should govern them. And getting elected requires persuasion. Unlike the Rhodesian Selous Scouts, Zimbabwe’s security forces cannot afford to alienate the voters. To suggest that the Zanu-PF Government is involved in torturing the people they want them to vote for them defies any logic. It simply does not add up.

The facts are that one of the greatest achievements of the Patriotic Front which now governs Zimbabwe was to bring Zimbabwe one man one vote to everyone. And everyone knows that in order to be voted for, you have to persuade the electorate that your point of view is the right one. Now we are being asked to believe that the Zimbabwe Government’s strategy to win the presidential run-off is by torturing the voters. Give me a break.

The truth is that those opposed to the Government are not interested in the run-off. Their single purpose now is to discredit the electoral process in Zimbabwe all the way to the UN. The strategy is to ensure the allegations against Mugabe of torture do stick. With the British and the Americans in the chair at the UN in rapid succession, the strategy is to persuade the world that Zimbabwe society has broken down to a point where foreign intervention is justified.

It is a pathetic ploy by unscrupulous people bent of achieving their own ends irrespective of the wishes of the people they are constantly manipulating. The International Crisis Group is now calling for immediate African mediation leading to a National Unity Government led by Tsvangirai.

Part of our problem is that too many people poke their noses in Zimbabwe’s business instead of minding theirs. The other part of the problem is that too many of us are so gullible and so easily conquered with the lure of forex.

Zanu-PF has maintained peace in the country through its unity. They should remain united as they were during the armed struggle. And knowing that the Selous Scouts are back should, I hope, give them greater impetus for unity of purpose.

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