Zimbabwe Weekly Update

Posted on January 22, 2010 | Category: Politics; Business, Sport


www.zimbabwedemocracynow.com

. The inter-party negotiations between the coalition partners did not take
place on Monday Jan. 18 as scheduled after Zanu-PF negotiators Patrick
Chinamasa and Nicholas Goche failed to attend. Talks were meant to resume on
Saturday but were postponed to Monday because of the absence of Goche who
was in Tanzania, reportedly on government business.

. South Africa President and negotiation facilitator Jacob Zuma, impatient
with the slow pace of the talks, suggested the MDC be flexible in demanding
the removal of controversial Attorney General Johannes Tomana and Reserve
Bank Governor Gideon Gono, to help speed along the negotiation process. Zuma
is also pushing for elections in Zimbabwe next year, but Prime Minister
Morgan Tsvangirai on Tuesday said a date would be set for elections only
once all outstanding issues are resolved.

. U.S. ambassador to Zimbabwe Charles Ray said his country is ready to lift
targeted sanctions imposed on the Zanu-PF elite once the three governing
parties fully implement the Global Political Agreement (GPA).

. The MDC denied claims by The Zimbabwe Independent newspaper that three MDC
ministers are being probed for corruption.

. The MDC on Friday said it would not give up on the fight to have Roy
Bennett sworn in as Zimbabwe’s Deputy Minister of Agriculture, and would
resist pressure to appoint another person to fill the post.

Governance

. Only a quarter of Zimbabweans support President Robert Mugabe, a U.S.
Gallup poll has revealed. The poll said that if President Mugabe stood
against opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai he would lose dismally.

. The head of the Pentecostal Assemblies of Zimbabwe (PAOZ), Bishop Trevor
Manhanga, has sparked controversy following his refusal to renew the
credentials of some pastors perceived to be close to MDC leadership.

. The country’s three main unions representing state workers said they would
go on strike in the next two weeks if their demands for a minimum wage of
US$630 were not met. The strike would cripple public services and exert
pressure on the coalition government.

Law

. Three people, including a journalist, were arrested in Harare on Monday
after police broke up a peaceful demonstration organised by Women of
Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA). Thabita Taona, one of the arrestees, is still in
police custody.

. MDC provincial chairman for Masvingo Wilstaff Sitimere was arrested on
Tuesday morning for yet unknown charges.

. Zimbabwe’s constitutional committee has postponed public consultations on
the draft constitution to allow an audit of members to ensure that only
accredited persons will be deployed.

. The constitutional committee is pressing Mugabe to publicly speak against
acts of political violence ahead of the public consultations.

. Zimbabwe police chief Augustine Chihuri faces a US$5 million lawsuit from
five trade union officials who are claiming damages for unlawful arrest and
detention.

Agriculture

. A Rusape farming family is currently barricaded inside their house on De
Rust tobacco farm, with no electricity and water for themselves or their
animals, after Zanu-PF youths invaded Koos Smit’s farm last Tuesday and cut
off supplies.

. Police in Mutare are reportedly moving in to arrest two directors of
Matanuska, a private company owned by Malaysian and Dutch investors, on
charges of operating Fangundu Farm without an offer letter. Edzai Chimonyo,
a retired top army commander and Zimbabwe’s ambassador to Tanzania, invaded
the farm over the festive season. He is now resisting a court order to
vacate the farm.

. A landmark statement issued by the South African government’s Department
of International Relations and Co-operation on Monday announced that formal
contact had been made with the Zimbabwean government concerning the illegal
invasion of farms owned by South African citizens.

. The Zimbabwe Tobacco Association (ZTA) has cast doubts on the state of the
tobacco industry’s recovery and has warned that government farm-eviction
threats against one third of its 150 members could lead to disaster.

. Plans by the government to conduct a cloud seeding exercise to induce rain
have been shelved due to lack of finances.  The development raises fears of
another poor farming season as it comes on the back of fertilizer shortages
and a prolonged dry spell.

Humanitarian Crisis

. The US-funded Famine Early Warning Systems Network (Fewsnet) said over two
million Zimbabweans would require food aid between now and March.
Independent estimates put the total population at between 7 and 8 million.

Violence

. Two students activists from the National University of Science and
Technology (NUST) were arrested and brutally assaulted by officers from
Bulawayo Central Police’s Law and Order section last week. They were
released on Friday.

. Global medical charity organisation Medecins Sans Frontiers (MSF) says
Zimbabweans crossing illegally into South Africa after spending the holidays
at home are being raped and robbed by gangs on both sides of the border
between the two countries.

. Violent gangs led by the son of MP Aquiline Katsande (Zanu PF) are
terrorising villagers in her constituency of Mudzi West, beating up MDC
officers and threatening to burn and kill anyone who does not ‘surrender’ to
Zanu PF.

Business

. Mugabe on Monday said Zimbabwe is willing to have foreign investors in the
country to invest and develop the country but only as “partners,” stating
“the country’s sovereignty is not negotiable.” He also invited international
mining companies to invest in Zimbabwe, but cautioned that they would have
to do so on a racial basis, with black Zimbabwean partners.

. Zimbabwe Energy Minister Elias Mudzuri has backed down on his decision
last week to stop debt-ridden Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA)
from exporting power to Namibia since the Hwange power station was not
working properly. ZESA has been providing Namibia with electricity to help
settle a US$40 million loan to refurbish Hwange power station.

. Zimbabwe’s tourism ministry will seek treasury approval for a
US$70-million plan to fund various projects in an effort to benefit from the
2010 FIFA World Cup taking place in South Africa during June and July.

. The tourism industry has called on authorities to treat it as a productive
sector so that it can take advantage of the US$510 million “windfall” from
the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Last year, the IMF gave member
countries Special Drawing Rights (SDR) allocations to bolster their reserves
ravaged by the global financial crisis.

Economy

. Finance Minister Tendai Biti is urging the government to resolve the
country’s debt crisis, stating that Zimbabwe’s US$5.4 billion debt is
hindering efforts to rebuild the economy. Biti on Monday said Zimbabwe would
seek highly indebted poor country (HIPC) status to have its debt cancelled.

. The African Development Bank (AfDB) on Monday said Zimbabwe must settle
its arrears with international lending institutions before it can access
available funds.

. Zimbabwe’s year-on-year inflation stood at -7.7 percent in December, the
Central Statistical Office (CSO) said. Zimbabwe’s inflation peaked at 500
billion percent in December 2008.

. The future of Zimbabwe’s central bank is in doubt because of a lack of
funds from the Treasury, a bank official said.

Diamonds

. African Consolidated Resources (ACR), the British-based company that owns
the rights to mine in Marange, has condemned “fake patriots” who are
plundering the fields for the benefit of a corrupt elite. ACR Chief
Executive Andrew Cranswick also said contrary to deliberate misinformation,
ACR is Zimbabwe-founded and run by Zimbabweans.

. The Center for Research and Development in Mutare said soldiers and youth
militia in Marange have been beating and torturing people indiscriminately
and raping women, despite government assertions that the area has been
demilitarized.

. Zimbabwe has rejected a European monitor to oversee the export of diamonds
from the Marange fields. The World Diamond Council in New York has warned
that if an acceptable monitor is not agreed upon, it will call for the
country’s suspension from the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS).

. The Zimbabwe Miners’ Federation (ZMF) said small-scale miners now want to
be allocated claims on Marange, in the name of empowerment.

Diaspora

. Locals in De Doorns (South Africa’s Western Cape province) said they would
chase out any Zimbabwean nationals should they try to return, after
xenophobic attacks rocked the community two months ago. “We will braai them
and turn them into KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken) if they come back. There’s
no place for them here,” said Pastor Frans Henke on Monday.
. Breede Valley mayor Charles Ntsomi said continuing tensions in the area
meant that re-integrating the Zimbabweans was not possible at this stage.
Thousands of Zimbabweans have been living in tents on the town’s sports
field since November.

. Labour Minister Membathisi Mdladlana says he intends inviting his
Zimbabwean counterpart to South Africa to discuss the issue of the displaced
Zimbabweans in De Doorns.

Media

. Artists for Democracy in Zimbabwe Trust (ADZT) director and senior
freelance journalist Stanley Kwenda last week fled the country after he was
allegedly phoned and threatened with death by a senior police officer,
Assistant Commissioner Chrispen Makedenge, over a story reportedly published
in the Zimbabwean newspaper.

Health

. Water Resources Minister Sam Sipepa Nkomo on Monday said Zimbabwe would
continue to face problems in providing the population with safe drinking
water, as the country needs more than US$5 billion to overhaul
infrastructure.

Prisons

. A report by parliament’s justice committee reveals the shocking state of
affairs in the country’s under-funded prisons, with half-starved prisoners
allegedly still walking around naked due to a shortage of prison garb. The
prison infrastructure across the country is in a serious state of disrepair.

Wildlife

. Crocodiles have killed eight fish poachers in Lake Chivero outside Harare
in the last two weeks.

. Stray lions have devoured three villagers in the Guruve, Kanyemba area,
causing panic among the villagers.

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