Archive for the ‘News from Zimbabwe’ Category

Brigitte’s Pick: The funniest this year! And what a punchline!

June 4, 2015

Hugh Paxton’s Blog thinks the following from Brigitte is just about as good as her Pick gets!

Happens……..

Only in

India

Only in Pakistan

Only in

Bangladesh

Only inJapan

ONLY IN

INDONESIA

Only in Thailand

Only in Texas

Only in Hawaii

Only inChina

AND
/
/
/
/
Only in Australia

and in Africa

She has a Ph.D. from a Zimbabwe university of which her Husband and President for Life, Robert Mugabe, is the chancellor.

Dr. Grace is aiming to succeed him as president, she obtained this degree within 2 months………….

Zimbabwe, Free Human Rights Lawyer NOW!

March 22, 2013

Hugh Paxton’s Blog doubts that Robert Mugabe will heed this petition (see earlier posts for his track record) but Beatrice is in trouble and every little helps. I hope.

Best!

Hugh

From: Kathleen J., Care2 Action Alerts [mailto:actionalerts@care2.com]
Sent: 22 March 2013 01:19 PM
To: Hugh Paxton
Subject: Zimbabwe, Free Human Rights Lawyer NOW!

Care2 subscriber since Dec 15, 2012 Unsubscribe | Share on Facebook | Take Action
care2 petitionsite actionAlert

action alert!

Beatrice Mtetwa, an accomplished lawyer, just spent her third night in jail. Her "crime?" Obstructing justice — by defending her clients’ human rights in court.

Please sign the petition today! Free Lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa From Jail in Zimbabwe!

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please share

it helps!

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Dear Hugh,

To most people, a lawyer defending the human rights of her clients in court wouldn’t be a crime. For some people, it would even be praiseworthy. But for Zimbabwean police, it’s "obstructing justice" — and prominent human rights lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa has been in jail for the last three days for that very reason.

Mtetwa was arrested for defending her clients, four officials of the current prime minister’s party, after police searched their homes without presenting a warrant. Zimbabwe’s police force didn’t take her actions well — so instead of solving the problem in court, they elected to arrest their opponents’ lawyer instead.

It’s no coincidence that Mtetwa’s arrest comes right on the heels of Zimbabwe’s new constitution, which explicitly states the importance of Zimbabwean citizens’ human rights.

Nick M., who started a petition with us to free Mtetwa, writes, "We can safely say Beatrice Mtetwa is being used as an example by police to stifle and intimidate other like-minded human rights defenders not to rise up and make a stand."

Mtetwa must be released from jail before this real obstruction of justice continues any longer. Join Nick and the rest of Care2 in demanding her freedom immediately!

care2 Thank you for taking action,

Kathleen
Care2 and ThePetitionSite Team

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Butterfly Care2 butterflyCredits!
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Mugabe spends $US600,000 on birthday party and 89 kg cake (and confirms his plan to stand for re-election)

March 3, 2013

Hugh Paxton’s Blog cannot believe the gall of Zimbabwe’s crazed and dictatorial president, Robert Mugabe. He assumed power in 1980 and his rule converted the breadbasket of southern Africa into one of the continent’s most noteworthy basket cases. I’ve posted some graphic images of torture on this blog and some harrowing interviews with political prisoners and victims of Mugabe state sanctioned violence. Today he celebrates his 89th birthday and has spent US$600,000 on the festivities which include an 89 kilo cake. I should stress these are US dollars – not Zimbabwe dollars. I’ve got a collection of Zim dollars issued by the treasury as inflation went Weimar republic following the violent evictions of white farmers and the illegal occupation of their land. The biggest denomination is 1000, billion dollars. When Mugabe achieved independence from white rule in 1980 one Zim dollar was pegged at one GB pound sterling.

At his party Mugabe repeated his determination to stand for re-election to president in the forthcoming general elections. Just what Zimbabwe needs. More Mugabe. Jaysus, I despair!

Leonie’s view: Nando’s new ad campaign: The Last Dictator.

November 29, 2011

Hugh Paxton’s Blog has received incoming from another of our esteemed African women reporters. Over to Leonie!

Duck behind the sandbags is my advice.

Over to Leonie!

Hi all:

Follow this link – it’s safe except that you might hurt yourself laughing. :-)))

http://www.channel24.co.za/TV/News/Nandos-takes-aim-at-dictators-20111124

Make sure to appreciate PW and Idi as well. :-))

LL

We are going to invade farms –Malema

April 6, 2010

HOW NOT TO LEARN FROM EXPERIENCE

This from our Blog’s intrepid Harare correspondent, Paul Nyakazeya, still alive and well in Zimbabwe.

Before beginning to read his latest report, bear in mind that six thousand white South African farmers have been murdered since the Rainbow Nation dispensed with Apartheid rule.

Subject:

We are going to invade farms –Malema

SOUTH Africa’s African National Congress (ANC) youth leader Julius Malema said his party would emulate Zimbabwe’s land reform programme “soon”.
Malema told ZANU-PF youth members that ANC would follow Zimbabwe’s lead, and soon take over white farms in South Africa.
Speaking at a small Harare stadium, he said Zimbabwe had led the “fight over land” and encouraged Zimbabweans to also take over white and foreign-owned companies.
“ZANU-PF and the ANC fought together in the trenches for liberation and must continue to fight against what he called Western imperialism. South African’s should take what rightfully belong to them and that land,” he said.
Malema said people must “embrace indigenization and this include taking their farms”.
Malema said he would not be meeting the Movement Democratic Change (MDC), the other main partner in the power-sharing government that won the 2008 elections.
He said this was because it had not taken part in the 1970s anti-colonial war. The Movement for Democratic Change was formed in 1999.
ZANU-PF accuses the MDC of being a product of Western imperialism.
Mulema was in Zimbabwe at the invitation of ZANU-PF Indigenization Minister Saviour Kasukuwere, who has decreed that black Zimbabweans must own 51% of all Zimbabwean companies.
Malema surprised some ZANU-PF members when he told them not to engage in violence during elections. Hundreds of MDC supporters have been killed and tens of thousands injured since the MDC fought its first election in 2000.
“This rumour that you are using violence in Zimbabwe, is going to make ZANU (PF) lose elections,” he added.
“You must engage ideologically. This is an ideological warfare. We must be prepared to change the minds of our people and educate them to understand where do we want to take this country to, not through violence.”
Malema told ZANU-PF youth members he would continue singing the ANC struggle song, “Kill the Boer,” or the white farmer, even if it meant being sent to jail. A South African court last week banned the controversial song.
He sang the song at the rally and a few ZANU-PF members struggled to sing along in Malema’s Zulu home language.
The Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU) said it opposed to the visit by Malema to Zimbabwe to meet ZANU PF officials and address rallies organized by ZANU PF.
In a statement ZINASU said the visit by Malema was “unacceptable, offensive, inciteful and politically misplaced considering that his President Jacob Zuma is the mediator of the endless talks in Zimbabwe who by virtue of being a mediator is expected to be neutral”.
ZINASU said for Malema to come and meet ZANU PF “thugs known for egregious human rights abuses is a clear testimony that the ANC President is biased towards ZANU PF”.
“He (Malema) is well known in South Africa for being a tender-prenuer and a rapacious capitalist, who is living a lavish lifestyle not through hard work, but through using his political advantage to get government tenders, and other means,” said ZINASU.
ZINASU alleges that it was aware of the tenders Malema got to construct a road and bridge in a high density suburb of South Africa.
ZINASU claim his company got money from government but messed up the roads and the bridge has collapsed whilst the road is disintegrating at a fast rate.
“He goes out in public saying cheap rhetoric trumpeting about black empowerment and indigenization and pretending to be represent the poor black majority and yet he is robbing them, looting resources to the extent that he now is an island of wealth in a sea of poverty, 70% of his fellow youths whom he represents are poor, jobless and own nothing,” said ZINASU.
ZINASU questioned what he could tell Zimbabwean youths about youth empowerment, when 70% of his fellow youths in South Africa are unemployed and are engaged in illicit behaviors, robbery, rape, mugging, drug abuse to name just a few.
“It is clear that the indigenization he wants to preach in Zimbabwe is that of taking advantage of political leverage to enrich themselves at the expense of the majority. As students and youth, we identify with the suffering of the people of Zimbabwe and also of South Africa and we welcome a leader who is a diligent fighter for economic empowerment and equal economic opportunities, not someone who uses political power to amass wealth at the expense of the poor,” said ZINASU.
ZINASU said not only was Zimbabwe against racism but also a signatory to international human rights instruments for example the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race. Malema who was dragged to the courts for uttering racist words in a song “…kill the farmer, Kill the Boer…” is not welcome at all in Zimbabwe.
“Is it mere coincidence Malema that your visit is coinciding with the re-emergence of lawlessness in Zimbabwe where ZANU PF youth have begun to intimidate people and ZANU PF bases are resurfacing which were used in the June 27 2008 elections to torture innocent civilians? President Zuma visited Zimbabwe on the 16th of March 2010 where he prescribed further talks and gave a deadline for the 31st of March after that he goes on to trumpet the ZANU PF sanctions propaganda,” the student organsiation said
The deadline has passed and nothing has materialized from the “mary go round” negotiation and another of Zuma type is coming here for what reason?
“It is highly likely that the violent and loud sounding nothing Malema is coming to Zimbabwe to meet the ZANU PF youth militia to encourage them to be as violent and controversial as he is,” said ZINASU.
Malema is known for publicly threatening his opponents that he would kill for his President Zuma.
“Is that the message he also wants to instill in the equally violent friends of his in ZANU PF to kill for their leaders. He should know that Zimbabweans have suffered enough through organized violence by his colleagues and should trade carefully. Zimbabwean students as represented by ZINASU do not tolerate any form of violence or unlawful activities hence our abhorrence to your disgustful agenda,” they said
ZINASU questioned why is it that when Zimbabweans were being killed and maimed in South Africa during the xenophobic attacks, Malema never issued a statement condemning the violence?
“It is most welcome for Malema to first address the xenophobic attacks on poor Zimbabweans first before coming to preach about youth empowerment and indigenization. Zimbabweans have passed the stage of racial discrimination and now concentrating on trying to promote democracy and good governance,” ZINASU said.
“It is ungodly and unholy for Julius Malema to come here during Easter time and preach about violence, a time set aside to celebrate the death of Jesus Christ; instead, Malema should be holding prayer meetings with his youths and pray for him and their nation,” said ZINASU.

“Creation of a Nation”

March 21, 2010

By Steve Hollier

Tomorrow will be one of the strangest days of my life. The Autumnal equinox [21st March] in the Southern hemisphere will mark the 20th anniversary of Namibian Independence and I will spend part of the day entertaining President Pohamba, ex-president and Namibian founding father [smash the English in the face with a hammer] Nujoma, President of South Africa Joseph [having a shower after sex will stop you catching AIDs] Zuma, President Raoul Castro and the ever wonderful Robert Mugabe.

How can this be, I hear you saying? Well, I will be the only white person in a cast of 180 presenting “Creation of a Nation”. The performance has been developed and adapted from a sucessful stage show for the wide open spaces of the Independence Stadium by Namibian director Sandy Rudd and choreographer Haimish Olivier. It tells the story of Namibia’s development from the days of the San, through colonisation by missionaries and German colonials in the 19th century, the fight against the racist white regimes of Germany and South Africa to the emergence of Namibia as an independent country in 1990.

Unsurprisingly, I will depicting 100 years of oppression through my portayal of a German Schutztrupper. I will beat the backs of black men and shoot them in the faces with guns and rifles. I will then face the audience and show my fleeting dominance with a defiant posture. I expect to be booed and jeered by the invited audience of 25,000 people. By the way, this show will be recorded and televised around the world. What will it tell the world? Perhaps, that 20 years after independence the token white in the cast is a symbol of violent racism.

Yes, it is a story that should not be forgotten and a whole generation of Namibians has grown up since the freedom struggle, but does that have to be the sole image that white people represent in 2010? Yes, I didn’t have to take the part but Sandy is a friend and she couldn’t find a white Namibian to take on this odious role. So, there I will be, a symbol of race hatred and the sole representative of a widely envied and despised portion of this community.

I love the stage and am a performer to my fingertips. I jumped at the chance to perform in this show at the National Theatre of Namibia and have been told by many people that my portrayal was one of the most moving parts of the show, but what now?

Namibia is barely a country and one that is not at peace with itself. The nation is riven with divisions between Ovambo, Nama, Himba, Damara, Herero, San, Baster, Africaaner and German communities. The vast majority of the country’s immense wealth is concentrated in a tiny proportion of the population while the majority live in poverty. The Ovambo people however, represents the majority of Namibians and formed the backbone of SWAPO during the fight for independence.  Unsurprisingly, all four free elections since Independence have returned a SWAPO majority and a SWAPO President, even with unemployment topping 50%.

In Zimbabwe, President Mugabe still blames Britain and the residual white population for all the ills the country currently faces while in Namibia, few whites have jobs in Government and in fact, it is difficult for whites to get any kind of job. Partly this is due to what is termed  “affirmative action” but is often the name given to positive discrimination, where a people from “formally disadvantaged groups” can be promoted over the heads of better qualified, more experienced people. Often those better qualified and experienced people happen to be white. Unsurprisingly, many educated whites have left the country and more follow each year.

Namibia is an incredibly beautiful and potentially wealthy country, but until the past is allowed to rest in peace and the country allows whites and other members of minority communities to take more active roles in all parts of society [including government, commerce and education], the country will not reach its potential.

Let us hope that at the 2020 celebration, whites will be depicted in a more positive light and Namibian politicians will be looking forward to a bright future rather than back at a dark past.

Rat Kebabs and Prison Life

November 9, 2009

This one is a trifle out dated but the facts and circumstances remain current. I’m posting it to give you a (sour) taste of what Bennet has had to endure and  is still enduring while incarcerated in Zimbabwe.

As ever we have Paul, our Man in Zimbabwe, to thank for this  story.

HEY HO! LET’S GO.

Former Daily News news editor Luke Tamborinyoka speaks on his experiences while in remand prison in Harare for three months after his March arrest during a government crackdown on the opposition. The award wining journalist who now works in Zimbabwe’s main opposition Movement for Democratic Change’s (MDC) information department is also a former Secretary General of the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists.

 

19:33

 

“I walked out of the prison gates at exactly 19:33hrs on Thursday, June 7 2007, after a three month-stint as a guest of the State.”

 

“In the glaring moonlight, I turned my back on the dilapidated two-storey building that constitutes the D-class section of this cursed and unimaginative piece of architecture. I painstakingly walked the final 10 metres to the prison fence and immediately jumped into the crushing embrace of my loving wife, Susan.”

 

“The D-class section, reserved for dangerous suspects, was my home for 71 dark days.
It was a place where one had to adjust to tough conditions such as leg irons, dirty khaki shirts and shorts, sub-standard food (ten people succumbed to diseases related to malnutrition during my stay), tight security, the company of hardened criminals and scowling prison officers.”
“Harare Remand will forever remain etched in my mind as one of tyranny’s prized institutions plucked straight from the heart of Hades; a waiting room of extreme fortunes where two cellmates could part to go to contrasting destinations. One for home and the other for the guillotine.”

The Harvest House Raid.

 

Luke’s ordeal started on a sunny Wednesday afternoon on March 28 2007. On that day, over 500 armed policemen descended on Harvest House, the MDC national headquarters.
From 12:15hrs to 15:30hrs, visibly drunk policemen wrenched open doors and seized party equipment, documents, computers and laptops.

They stole people’s mobile phones, prized open cabinet drawers and stuffed money, passports and other valuables into their pockets. Everyone was ordered to lie down. Luke says the sadists among them indiscriminately battered their backs with batons.

 

“My friend, Kudakwashe Matibiri, and I lay down for close to three hours while adventure-seeking young policemen hit us with booted feet and gun-butts,” he said.

“They combed cabinet drawers, ceilings and any other crevices within reach, ostensibly to recover weapons . They poked every nook and cranny. Like determined bloodhounds, they sniffed out all sorts of odd places such as toilet cisterns and air vents in search of the elusive MDC weapons.”
Luke believes their desperation was understandable in the circumstances. The following day on Thursday, June 29 2007, Mugabe was scheduled to leave for Dar es Salaam in Tanzania to explain the crackdown on the opposition.

 

“Mugabe’s clearly partisan police force had beaten to pulp MDC president Morgan Tsvangirai and other senior opposition party officials. Several MDC executives and party members had been abducted, severely beaten up and dumped in far-away places, and MDC activist, Gift Tandare, had been shot dead.”

 

“Mugabe had to have a plausible explanation for the SADC leaders in Dar es Salaam and the prospect of an arms cache at Harvest House would have given him a credible story to justify the violent crackdown on a legitimate opposition.”

No weapons were found at Harvest House. “The regime’s grand plot had fallen apart at the seams”.

Harvest House is a six-storey building in which the MDC occupies the two upper floors with the rest occupied by an assortment of tenants.

The police ordered everyone in the building, including tenants and their clients, to get into the police vehicles.

About 100 people were taken to the infamous Room 93 of the Law and Order section at Harare Central police station where the series of the nights of terror immediately commenced.

 

 

Law and Order

 

“That night, we were severely assaulted. One by one we were called into another office where all sorts of wild allegations were made against us. We were accused of bombing petrol stations, working for a puppet opposition party which wanted to hand the country back to the white colonialists and other such drivel.”

The following day, the number of suspects was trimmed down to 23 and eventually to seven. No charges had yet been preferred against anybody.

.

“For three days and nights we were called out one by one then tortured and brutally assaulted with a baseball bat, clenched fists and batons. We were denied access to food, legal and medical assistance. Our physical conditions deteriorated. The torture was incessant.”

 

“On Saturday, March 31, we were finally told that a court order had been obtained that we should go home because the police had detained us for more than 48 hours without preferring any charge against us.”

 

It was then that an official whom Luke suspects to be a member of “the dreaded state security Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO)” called him to a private room.

 

More allegations followed. Luke was accused of responsibility for the Roll of Shame, a column in a local weekly where the MDC’s information department named and shamed all government and ZANU PF personalities who are committing human rights abuses. He was accused of making “anti-government speeches” during the time he was secretary-general of the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists. He was accused of writing for “anti-government” on-line publications, of retaining his news editor position at the banned Daily News and being responsible for co-ordinating a pool of former Daily News reporters to write for anti-government on-line publications.

 

“For my alleged crimes, the officer said I was going to be imprisoned. Faced with the prospect of releasing us on the basis of the court order, a grim-faced officer called the seven of us into a room and read the charges against us.”

 

Sabotage, Banditry and Terrorism.

“We were being charged with carrying out a spate of petrol-bombings in Harare and other cities. We were charged under section 24 of the Criminal Law (Reform) Codification Act and were specifically being accused of resisting the government and seeking to remove the government through acts of sabotage, banditry and terrorism.”

Luke was shocked at being labeled a terrorist bomber.

 

“The real terrorists I knew were the State security agents who had pumped six bullets into the groin of opposition activist Patrick Kombayi way back in 1990. Even though the culprits, Kizito Chivamba and Elias Kanengoni, were convicted and sentenced to seven years in prison, Mugabe pardoned them.”

 

“The real terror bombers I knew were those who had blown The Daily News’ printing press to smithereens in the early hours of January 27 2001. They have never been arrested. The terror bombers I knew were those who had petrol-bombed The Daily News’ offices in Harare and Bulawayo in 2001. The real terrorists were those who in the 1980s directed and carried out the killing of 20 000 innocent civilians in the Midlands and Matabeleland provinces, all in the name of quelling an armed insurrection in the two provinces against the government. The real terrorists were those who had just murdered Gift Tandare, in cold blood in Harare’s Highfield suburb on 11 March 2007. The real terrorists were ruling ZANU PF party activist Tom Kainos Kitsiyatota Zimunya and state agent Joseph Mwale, who petrol-bombed and killed MDC activists Talent Mabika and Tichaona Chiminya in broad daylight on April 26, 2000 at Murambinda service centre in rural Buhera district.”

“We’d seen the real terrorists in the Law and Order section offices, surely the most mis-named office imaginable.”

The Cases Collapse.

 

We were taken to court under heavy security, no magistrate was available and following the collapse of one of the accused, Luke, and his six co-defendants, were finally sent to Harare Avenue’s clinic.

 

“Someone must have summoned ambulances to the Magistrates Court but the police ordered that we not be allowed access to medical attention. Then Shame Wakatama, collapsed. Everyone thought he had died. It was then that the police panicked and allowed the ambulance crew to drive us to Harare’s Avenues clinic where magistrate Gloria Takundwa remanded us in custody under prison guard. The clinic staff were eager to nourish our wasted bodies and put us on intravenous drips. ”

 

These were violently pulled out shortly after midnight by ten gun-toting CIO operatives supported by prison guards who raided the ward, threatened the staff and frog-marched Luke and the other patients out of the building via an emergency exit

 

“I don’t normally give in to fear but I was jelly-kneed. They threw us into a van and they had AK-47s. The thought of driving in the deathly quiet early morning hours with armed CIO agents to an unknown destination was enough to almost paralyse one with fear.”

 

The state-controlled Herald newspaper went on to gleefully report the arrest of the MDC “terror-bombers”, including the “journalist-cum-activist” Luke Tamborinyoka. Three months later the cases were thrown out of court – something the Herald neglected to report.

 

For Luke and his colleagues they were to be three very long months.

 

 

Rat Kebabs and Prison life

 

 

“We were later dumped at Harare Remand prison at around 1:30hrs, breaking the prison’s own record of check-in time in the process.”

Zebediah Juaba and Brighton Matimba who had come out worst during the torture, were immediately taken to the ill-equipped prison hospital to await the attention of a government doctor.

It took the doctor two months to arrive.

 

“He orally interviewed 30 prisoners in about 20 minutes and then he left. The oral interview took place long after my two colleagues had been discharged to the cells even though they were still in critical condition.”

 

“Matibiri and I were allocated cell C6, where I carved out a place for myself near the corner.
That corner was referred to as the “MDC’s Information Corner” after it emerged it was in the same corner where the late party spokesperson Learnmore Jongwe met his mysterious death in August 2002.”

 

“Later, more MDC activists were to join us in Remand Prison and more were to be detained at the prison hospital where they never saw a doctor. These included Ian Makone, Paul Madzore, Morgan Komichi, Phillip Katsande and Dennis Murira.”

Life in Remand prison was hell. Remand was supposed to be temporary but Luke soon discovered that some inmates had stayed there for years, seemingly abandoned by the state which brought them to the jailhouse and by relatives who no longer come to visit either because, he says, they had long died of HIV/AIDS or they had simply grown tired of the routine trips to the prison.

“More than 95% of the inmates had no relatives bringing them food and depended on the prison meal of a morsel of sadza (thick porridge made from maize) and cabbage boiled in salted water.

 

“Rations of soap and toilet paper were last seen in the 1980s, we were told, and a colleague, Arthur Mhizha, learnt the hard lesson that in a Zimbabwean prison, you bathe with one hand while with the other, you hang on to your prized piece of soap,”
The ‘MDC team’, as it became known, became famous for donating some of its food to other inmates, including Fungai Murisa, one of the ZANU PF activists who is facing a murder charge after he and others allegedly assassinated an MDC activist in Makoni East in Manicaland province.

“Food is acquired at a premium in prison. It is a one-meal per day affair served at 2 PM from an aluminium bin. And it is only acquired after a stampede that would leave rugby players green with envy.”

 

“Only adventurous inmates such as Reason, one of the most notorious prisoners in D-class, could afford the rare taste of meat. He was well known for what became known as the rat barbecue.”

 

“He would murder the stray rats that patronized the dirty toilet chamber in cell C6 and roast them on the overhead globe (light bulb) during the night when prison officers were asleep.”

The cells are overcrowded with an average of between 45 and 70 prisoners sharing a single cell and battling the night away in the usual pastime of fighting away the cold and killing lice.

 

One also learnt to meet with suspects with fascinating and sometimes just unbelievable stories of how they ended up in jail. One such character was Takawira Mwanza, a former army officer who was arrested and served four years for stealing Mugabe’s prized bull from his Norton farm.

The bull, which was airlifted from China, turned up at Mwanza’s rural home in Sanyati. Luke said Mwanza says that even though he served his sentence for stock theft at Chikurubi Maximum Prison, Mugabe was not happy that he should be left to go home.

 

“Takawawiri  is waiting for the day when Mugabe wakes up in a good mood and orders the prison officers to allow him to go home and meet his family.”

In the meantime, he has two blankets in his beloved corner in cell C6 at Harare remand prison.

 

 

President!

 

“The MDC president, Morgan Tsvangirai, left his own mark at Remand prison. On Monday, May 132007, he came to visit us and when he proceeded to see Morgan Komichi in the prison hospital, there was chaos from other sections when both inmates and prison officers went into a frenzy, shouting “President!” as they stampeded to catch a glimpse of the man who has given Mugabe such nightmares.”
The officer-in-charge of Harare Remand Prison, known as Musonza, was said to have been transferred to Prison Headquarters after the incident.

Tsvangirai was thereafter “banned” from visiting Remand prison lest the officers and the inmates got into another frenzy.

Moreover, the chants of “President” directed at Tsvangirai in a government complex made a lot of people uncomfortable.

By mid-April, there were 30 MDC activists in prison, some shot and abducted from their homes while others were arrested in the streets of Harare to face the same charges of terrorism.

 

“What kept us going was the inspiring presence of Ian Makone, the simplicity of Zebedia Juaba, the comforting singing from Paul Madzore and Shame Wakatama and the gospel teachings of Kenneth Nhemachena.”

 

In June, the State case began to crumble after it emerged that it had created “fictitious witnesses to incriminate us in acts of terrorism”.

For their charge, the State consented on June 7 2007 that it had no evidence and we were eventually removed from remand.

 

“But another reality struck as I walked out of the prison complex, that in fact the whole country is just another bigger prison. Harare Remand was simply a microcosm of what the whole country has become.”

 

“There is no food on the shelves; starvation is stalking the nation and people can no longer afford to visit each other because of prohibitive transport costs. Zimbabwe has simply become a big prison with Mugabe as the chief warden.”

Luke says the unwarranted arrests show that the regime has developed sudden bouts of panic attacks.

 

“Mugabe has every reason to panic. When he came to power after the crucial election of 1980, he was 56 years old.”

 

“Morgan Tsvangirai will be 56 on 10 March next year – a trivial statistical coincidence but maybe one that badly scares an old and superstitious tyrant.”

 

Bennett Treason Trial

November 9, 2009

Another one just in from our Man in Harare.

Bennett trial begins

THE trial of Deputy Agriculture Minister designate and Movement for Democratic Change Treasurer General, Roy Bennett started in Mutare today.

Bennett is being charged with attempting to commit banditry, terrorism and sabotage, charges which carry the death penalty.

He has since denied the charges and is saying he is being framed by President Robert Mugabe for standing up for the rights of Zimbabweans.

His lawyer, Beatrice Mtetwa said the trial is expected to resume as scheduled

“The trial will resume on Monday morning at 9 am and it shall be in Court 9,” said Mtetwa. The highly anticipated trial has taken several twists since the arrest of Roy Bennet in February on charges of illegally possessing weapons of war.

Bennet was recently re-arrested after the state issued an indictment. Before that he had been denied permission to travel to South Africa to attend to his businesses.
But his indictment was overturned by a High Court Judge who ended up telling state prosecutor Michael Mugabe not to make a fool out of himself by unnecessarily invoking Section 121 of the Criminal Procedures and Evidence Act.

Bennett was arrested in February at a small airfield as he prepared to go and celebrate Valentine’s Day and his birthday with his family in South Africa, where he lived in self-exile following threats to his life.

The state has religiously used the Act to prolong the incarceration of MDC members and perceived government opponents in jail. Soon after the High Court decision, Attorney General Johannes Tomana took over the case as the lead prosecutor. He said he took the decision to safeguard state security.
Just last week the case took yet another turn when a lawyer representing Peter Hitschman, who has been lined up by the state as the star witness, was arrested. This was after he had written a letter to the AG advising him that his client will not be able to give evidence in court because the information that he gave to investigating officers was obtained through torture.
Mtetwa said Hitschman’s lawyer, Mordekai Mahlangu will be in court on Monday. “I suppose he will be there to represent his client,” said Mtetwa.
The MDC believes Bennett is being put on trial because he is an MDC member. His appointment is one of the numerous outsanding issues under the GPA signed by the country’s three main political parties.

However, in the interview early this year, Bennett vowed never to leave politics or abandon Zimbabweans fighting for their rights, although he was under immense pressure from the authorities. Mugabe has refused to swear him in as a cabinet member, despite his strong endorsement from Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.

“Part of the persecution is not against me personally but it is against the MDC because I stand for the party in everything I do. I am only there to deliver change to my comrades and my people,” Bennett was quoted saying.

The former MP for Chimanimani – known affectionately as Pachedu – was an early victim of Mugabe-inspired farm invasions. His Chimanimani farm was invaded by militants at the behest of then security minister Didymus Mutasa, who is also Zanu PF secretary for administration who took over the farm.

Bennett was jailed for a year at a remote prison on allegations that he scuffled in Parliament with justice minister Patrick Chinamasa who, analysts said, had severely provoked him when he talked abusively about how Bennett had been dispossessed of his farm.

British subjects can petition the UK Prime Minister, Gordon Brown to help free Mr. Bennett. Click here for the petition.

White Widow Arrested

November 7, 2009

This news comes from our intrepid Man in Harare.

As usual it is dismal.

Hey ho! Let’s go.

WIDOW ARRESTED

 

Hester Theron, a 79-year-old widowed farmer was on Friday slapped with a three month jail sentence with labour for refusing to vacate a farm she has owned for over 50 years.The whole sentence handed down on Theron, the owner of Fridenthal Farm, a dairy and beef producing farm in Beatrice, was suspended for five years on condition she vacates the farm in a month, by December 8, 2009.Her farm is among hundreds of white-owned properties being repossessed for redistribution under government’s controversial land reform programme.A distraught Theron later told journalists outside the court that she was heartbroken at being forced to leave her investment of half a century.

“There was nothing, nothing in the farm,” she said, struggling to hold back tears. “We bought it from scratch.

“Some days we hardly had food to eat. We had seven children and the Lord looked after us and we worked the farm up to what it is today.”

Theron said she remained Zimbabwean and did not have any plans to leave the country.

“I was born here. I was born in Chivhu. So this is my country where I want to live.”

Theron is among the 400 commercial farmers, out of more than 4000 at the onset of Zimbabwe’s violent land reform programme in 2000, who have braved State repression in defence of their property. Most of the farmers have simply abandoned the fight.

Commercial Farmers’ Union (CFU) president, Stephanie Deon Theron, the son of Hester Theron, said his mother had been prosecuted for ignoring what he said was a fake offer letter issued to the new owner of Fridenthal Farm, one Chigwedere.

The CFU, who last year also lost his own farm to Elias Musakwa, a gospel singer who is now a Zanu-PF politician, said it was sad to see his mother being treated like a criminal when she bought the farm and developed it to what it is now.

“The sad thing is that the beneficiary of the farm produced what is clearly a very fake offer letter. But nothing is done about that,” he said.

“It is difficult to see your mother being treated like a criminal when she and my late father bought the place in 1957 when there was nothing on it and for years they struggled.”

The farm produces 500 litres of milk a day from a herd of 400 cows and varying quantities of beef from a beef herd of 300. There are 200 sheep and nine breeding crocodiles on the farm as well.

Douglas Mamvura, Mrs Theron’s lawyer said he would appeal against her conviction.

“I am going to file papers right now challenging both the conviction and the sentence and my reasons will be elaborated in the document that I am filing on Monday,” he said.

Mamvura said at the slow pace with which court appeals are now being handled, it was likely his client would fight her conviction when already out of the farm, lest she be found to be in contempt of the court.

Deon Theron held a press conference at the CFU offices in Harare where he said 150 commercial farmers had been targeted and prosecuted by the State for defying a government order to vacate their farms.

He said his union was deeply concerned at the increased onslaught against its members and their employees.

Theron said this had a catastrophic impact on the ability of the nation to feed itself as most farmers had failed to plant for the 2009-2010 cropping season because of the disturbances.

“We are appealing to the government to find a way forward,” he said. “When a government acquires land compulsorily, it should be for the benefit of the country.

“But what is happening now is for the benefit of certain individuals and not the country as a whole. That needs to be addressed.

“The whole question of land needs to be resolved in Zimbabwe because for as long as that does not happen, Zimbabwe will struggle to produce food for the nation again.”

Thanks for risking your neck again, Paul. Stay safe!

Hugh

24 hours to stop Mugabe selling blood diamonds on the world market

November 4, 2009

Hugh Paxton’s Blog was going to delete this on the grounds that it was out of date. But after re-reading it and checking the Global Witness web site I decided to keep it posted. The petition I talk about in the post is long signed, sent and has been ineffectual. Mugabe business is as usual. Global Witness has withdrawn its involvement in the Kimberley Process. 

2011/12/21

Here’s the 2009/11/04 post 

On the subject of the plethora of human rights atrocities in Zimbabwe, have you heard that Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe is selling blood diamonds on the world market? His brutal army has seized diamond mines, another 200 civilians have been murdered, and profits are used to finance political militias who are perpetrating abduction, arson, rape, murder and mayhem as well as subverting efforts for grassroots democratic change and progress.

I’ve just signed an urgent petition urging international regulators meeting in Namibia this week to ban Zimbabwe diamonds,  sending a clear message that we do not want our gifts of love to finance the most heinous human rights abuse that Southern Africa has ever suffered.

We have just 24 hours to persuade regulators to act. Join me by signing the Avaaz petition below and let’s get a massive petition together that will be delivered directly to the meeting in Namibia.   Want to cut off Zanu PF’s dirty money supply?  Sock it to ’em!

http://www.avaaz.org/en/diamonds_for_love_not_hate/98.php?CLICK_TF_TRACK

If you don’t mind forwarding the original alert below to your friends and encouraging them to do the same, that would be fantastic:

Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe has brutally seized control of his country’s diamond fields and is using the profits from our precious wedding rings and jewelry to finance a vicious political militia.

The group of countries that regulate the global diamond trade are right now meeting in Namibia to decide whether to suspend Mugabe and stop him selling his blood diamonds on the world market.

We have just 24 hrs to persuade these countries to act – let’s get a flood of signatures on a petition and deliver it directly to the meeting in Namibia. Sign at the link below and forward this email to anyone who doesn’t want our gifts of love to finance hate:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/diamonds_for_love_not_hate/98.php?CLICK_TF_TRACK

All diamond producing countries know that their profits are dependent on the brand reputation of diamonds, and that increasing awareness of “blood diamonds” threatens that brand. A massive global petition will show them that the diamond-buying public is demanding action.

Zimbabwe’s diamonds used to be mined by local people. But in the last several months, Mugabe’s thugs have brutally taken over, murdering up to 200 civilians. An international investigation in July found “horrific violence against civilians”.

The profits from these blood diamonds are being used to finance a political militia that has already killed thousands of Zimbabweans, and threatens the fragile unity government in the country. Letting Mugabe keep these diamonds could finance a whole new war.

All of us are learning the ways in which our decisions about what we buy and do can affect the lives of our fellow human beings half a world away. An engagement ring should be something given and worn out of love, let’s tell diamond regulators to keep it that way:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/diamonds_for_love_not_hate/98.php?CLICK_TF_TRACK

With hope,

Ricken, Alice, Benjamin, Graziela, Luis, Milena, Paul, Ben, Paula, Pascal and the whole of the Avaaz team

PS:

Once you’ve taken action, vote for Avaaz on the influential Huffington Post “New Media Game-Changers” poll! http://www.avaaz.org/huffpo (vote 10 for Avaaz as the ultimate game changer)

Sources:

A Human Rights Watch report on the Zimbabwe mines:
http://www.hrw.org/en/reports/2009/06/26/diamonds-rough-0

The Kimberley process report:
http://www.zimonline.co.za/Article.aspx?ArticleId=5303

Articles on the possible ban this week:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/8337385.stm

http://www.mg.co.za/article/2009-11-02-zim-faces-possible-suspension-from-global-diamond-trade

More from Global Witness, a member of the Kimberley Process:
http://www.globalwitness.org/media_library_detail.php/861/en/campaigners_call_for_urgent_action_on_zimbabwe_blo

More on Zimbabwe’s political crisis:
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/africa/article6896171.ece


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