Other Headlines


Bulawayo police are holding two men after they allegedly blocked President Robert Mugabe’s motorcade in Bulawayo on Friday.

Mugabe, whose motorcade usually averages 12 vehicles, was travelling in an extended convoy with cabinet ministers attending a graduation ceremony at the National University of Science and Technology.

Bulawayo police spokesman Inspector Mandlenkosi Moyo said Newton Mlotshwa, 58, and Prayer Gavhanga, 27, had been charged with “disobeying lawful instructions from a uniformed police officer”.

Mugabe’s motorcade was hurtling towards NUST along the Bulawayo-Esigodini Road, opposite Ascot Shopping Centre, shortly before 11AM when it was brought to a brief halt.

Inspector Moyo said: “Gavhanga, who was driving, was rude and refused to clear the road for the motorcade.

“Officers took the vehicle ignition keys to stop him from fleeing. While they were doing so, the vehicle’s owner, Mlotshwa, who was a passenger, rushed to a police bike and removed the bike’s ignition keys demanding to be given his keys back.

“In the process of restraining him, a police officer was assaulted. Mlotshwa will be additionally charged with assault.”

Inspector Moyo said motorists should co-operate with the police, adding: “This incident could have been avoided. It was public knowledge that the President was coming to Bulawayo for the NUST graduation and motorists should just follow police directives.”

Mlotshwa and Gavhanga are due before magistrates on Monday.

(Source)

A Harare auto spare parts dealer Peter Makoni (48) of New Marlborough on Tuesday blew his head in a suspected suicide case following a divorce dispute with his first wife. Makoni’s body spent the whole of Tuesday night at the of corner Old Mazowe and Mapereke roads under police guard. It was only removed yesterday morning at around 10am after the Criminal Investigations Department and forensic personnel had concluded their preliminary investigations.

Harare provincial police spokesperson Inspector Tedious Chibanda confirmed the incident and said investigations were still under way.

He said the case had been referred to CID Homicide.

Neighbours told The Herald that Mr Makoni, who appeared troubled, spent the better part of Tuesday sitting in his car that was parked in the neighbourhood where he had been living with his second wife for the past seven months.

Relatives say Mr Makoni sent a text message to his cousin to meet him at the corner old Mazoe Road and Mapereke Road in New Marlborough.

The cousin, Mr Lucky Magezi, in the company of Makoni’s second wife Ms Nyaradzo Nangai complied and arrived at the meeting place at around 6pm where they found Mr Makoni locked in his Isuzu Bighorn.

He is said to have lowered the window and told them: “It is better for me to die,” without elaborating further how he had reached such a fatal decision.

He is said to have disembarked from the car and shot himself once in the head with a pistol around 7:30pm.

Residents who first arrived at the scene said Mr Makoni’s body lay underneath the vehicle close to the left rear wheel, about a metre away from the pool of blood.

No blood trail could be detected from where the corpse lay to the pool of blood, leaving residents with questions of how the corpse could have moved itself closer to the left rear wheel.

Makoni’s niece who declined to identify herself confirmed her uncle’s rocky relationship with his first wife who stays in Bluffhill in Harare.

“My uncle has had suicidal tendencies for a long time we never suspected it would come to this. He has been having divorce issues with his first wife,” the niece told The Herald.

(Source)

The financially-beleaguered Air Zimbabwe (AirZim) on Saturday despatched an “almost empty” Boeing 767 to South Africa to pick up President Robert Mugabe as he flew back from a “routine medical check-up” in Singapore.

Impeccable sources told NewsDay yesterday that the Boeing 767 – with a capacity for 205 passengers – left Harare on Saturday around 4am for Waterkloof Airforce Base Airport in Gauteng with about 10 cabin crew members to airlift Mugabe, his wife Grace and about 15 aides and security details.

Mugabe left Zimbabwe on Monday last week using the same “empty” Boeing 767. He flew into South Africa from where he then boarded a commercial flight to Singapore.

The sources said the two trips had bled the struggling national airline, which has ceased regional and international flights due to a myriad of problems, mainly to do with cash flow.

Mugabe, government ministers and senior government officials have over the years been accused of flying around the world using AirZim without paying the airline – an accusation the President and State have adamantly denied.

The Boeing 767 requires at least 20000 litres of Jet A1 fuel for a return trip to South Africa.

“The plane left Harare with about 10 cabin crew members at around 4am on Saturday for Waterkloof Airport to pick up the President,” one of the sources said.

“It was back home around 10am. The two trips were costly to AirZim. The costs included things like fuel, landing rights and airspace. The plane required about 40000 litres of fuel at a cost of about 60c a litre.”

This makes the cost of the fuel alone $24000

Mugabe’s spokesperson George Charamba yesterday confirmed that AirZim uplifted the President from South Africa, but denied that the airline was being abused.

He said the President’s Office had chartered the plane

He said it was not the President’s Office’s business to choose a Boeing 767 to pick up Mugabe and his entourage.

“We don’t allocate planes, we charter them for the President and AirZim decides what to give us,” Charamba said.

Efforts to get a comment from AirZim chief executive officer Innocent Mavhunga yesterday were in vain as he was not answering his phone. He did not respond to a text message sent on his mobile number.

AirZim, which resumes domestic flights this week after suspending them last week to give way to mandatory modifications, is struggling to raise over $40 million owed to workers and faces a ban from using international airports and airspaces of other countries if it fails to meet a three-month International Air Transport Association deadline to comply with global safety standards.

The national airline suspended international flights indefinitely in February after one of its planes was impounded in the UK over a $1,2 million debt accumulated by the airline over a long period.

A week later, AirZim suspended its flights to South Africa to avoid having its planes seized over a $500000 debt owed to a South African supplier.

 (Source)

Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions president, Mr Lovemore Matombo has refused to give up power ahead of the labour body’s congress in August.

Mr Matombo was expected to hand over power to a new leader but is seeking re-election despite serving his mandatory two five-year terms.

He joins MDC-T leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai, who forced the amendment of his party’s constitution to enable him to stay in power longer and National Constitutional Assembly chairman Mr Lovemore Madhuku, who is also clinging to power.

On Wednesday, Mr Matombo declined to comment on the congress.

“I will not entertain any questions or discussion on the congress. You are wasting time, I will not talk about that one, no matter which way you ask me.

“Why don’t you wait until we convene a Press conference to update you? We have nothing to hide. We cannot prepare our congress in newspapers before our members are even briefed,” said Mr Matombo.

The ZCTU will hold its congress in Bulawayo from August 19 to 20 this year where all posts are up for grabs.

Incumbent secretary general Mr Wellington Chibebe is expected to officially step down to take up the post of deputy general secretary of the International Trade Unions Confederation in Brussels.

But it is the case of Mr Matombo that is hogging the limelight after he indicated that he would be seeking re-election.

Mr Matombo argues that amendments to the ZCTU constitution to have two-term limits were adopted by the labour body’s general council in 2006.

This, he says, means his first term began in 2006 and is eligible for another term.

The ZCTU boss was quoted by a newsletter of the labour body’s affiliate making the same claims, alleging that the constitution was doctored by the secretariat by clandestinely inserting the clause giving the two-term limit.

“About the presidential term, I don’t recall the congress where we discussed this. I have tried to ask some members and they are also not sure where this is coming from,” Mr Matombo is quoted as saying by The Connector, a Zimbabwe Energy Workers Union newsletter.

He scoffed at suggestions that he would stand as a secretary general saying he would not go for a less influential post.

“I must say from the onset that it will be unusual for a person of my capacity to move away from the presidency to join the secretariat within the structure of ZCTU. This is just politicking and I would not want to contribute to dirty tricks and dirty campaigns that are being used,” said Mr Matombo in the newsletter.

ZCTU acting secretary general Mr Japhet Moyo said he has read the reports in which Mr Matombo claimed that the ZCTU constitution was clandestinely doctored to insert the two-term limit.

“We have only read about it but he has not officially notified the general council about his position, including the allegations that the constitution was doctored. Mr Chibebe has, however, officially notified us in our last meeting that he will be leaving for Brussels after the congress,” said Mr Moyo.

He said constitutional amendment discussions to limit the terms to two started in the 1990s when Mr Tsvangirai was the secretary general and it was something that was known by everyone.

“It is a bit strange for him to say that the constitution was doctored because the issue was subsequently debated in Mutare, Masvingo between presidents and secretary generals of affiliates before it was adopted in 2006 at a meeting Mr Matombo himself chaired,” said Mr Moyo.

“I cannot comment on these issues because he has not officially complained about that. Whether he is eligible or not it is not something we can discuss until we have seen nominations.”

(Source)

Robert Mugabe, the president of Zimbabwe, is secretly arming Laurent Gbagbo, whose refusal to accept defeat in the presidential election in the Ivory Coast has brought his west African country to the brink of war.

A giant chartered Antonov An-22 cargo plane with Angolan registration delivered tons of weapons from Harare to Gbagbo over Christmas and the new year, highly placed intelligence sources in Zimbabwe’s capital revealed last week.

The aircraft took off from Manyame airbase outside Harare. The exact quantity of arms is not known but the Soviet-built Antonov can carry up to about 80 tons of cargo. Zimbabwean military and intelligence officials accompanied the weapons on the flight.

Earlier, the sources said, the plane had flown into Manyame with a consignment of small arms, mortars and rockets from China – Mugabe’s chief arms supplier – for the Zimbabwean army.

On Mugabe’s instructions, part of this shipment remained on board and was supplemented with more armaments from the stocks of Zimbabwe Defence Industries, the state arms maker. A few hours later the plane flew to the Ivory Coast where the cargo was secretly unloaded.

Sources in Harare said that Mugabe, 86, had authorised the arms shipment after an appeal from Gbagbo for military assistance in return for oil. The sources said that a mysterious Chinese businessman – identified only as Sam Pa – had played a pivotal role in organising the shipment so that it could not be traced back to Mugabe.

Sam Pa uses a variety of aliases. His main business interests are in oil in Angola but he has lately expanded into diamond-rich Zimbabwe, where he has established commercial relations with some of the most powerful figures in Mugabe’s inner circle.

The clandestine arms delivery pits Mugabe against the United Nations, west African leaders and the African Union. The UN has 10,000 peacekeepers in the Ivory Coast and has had an arms embargo in force since 2002.

International pressure is mounting on Gbagbo to hand over power peacefully to his rival, Alassane Ouattara, the would-be president, who won last November’s presidential election run-off, according to UN-verified results.

Economic sanctions and diplomatic measures are favoured to get Gbagbo to step down but force has not been ruled out as a last resort.

In the Ivory Coast, the army is the one part of the state machinery that has remained intensely loyal to the beleaguered Ivorian leader throughout the crisis.

Arrangements for face-to-face talks between the two rivals have twice failed because the army has refused to lift a blockade around a luxury hotel in Abidjan, the commercial capital, where Ouattara is holed up. If fighting does break out, the arms sent by Mugabe could be a crucial boost for the troops willing to try to keep Gbagbo in power.

(Source)

Zimbabwe’s meteorological department and Civil Protection Unit issued flood warnings for low-lying areas, saying heavy rains and already saturated soils could prove dangerous.

Several rivers in southern Zimbabwe are already flooding after the country received its highest rainfall in three decades, Civil Protection Unit director Madzudzo Pawadyira said today.

“While it is not yet an emergency, we strongly urge people living in low-lying areas to move to higher ground,” Pawadyira said by phone from the capital, Harare.

In neighboring South Africa, floods have hit nine provinces since mid-December, claiming at least 40 lives and displacing more than 6,000 people. Another 13 people have been killed in Mozambique, the state-owned Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique reported between Jan. 12 and today. Crops have been damaged across the region.

Pawadyira said his Civil Protection Unit was on “High Alert” and had warned authorities that it may require urgent assistance in the event of flooding.

In South Africa, Agri SA, a farmers’ organization, says it is “far too early” to calculate damage caused by the floods that have drowned crops.

“While the floods are subsiding, the weather bureau has predicted more rain in the coming days, so it may be a while before we can calculate numbers,” Agri economist Dawie Maree said by phone from the capital, Pretoria, today. “Very tentative and early” assessments of farm losses could amount to more than a billion rand ($145 million), he said.

Southern Africa’s main farming season for summer crops like corn, soy and sunflower falls between November and April.

(Source)

Officials in Zimbabwe have refused to confirm reports that President Robert Mugabe has undergone emergency prostate cancer surgery in Malaysia.

‘As far as I am concerned, the president is on his annual leave. He will be back soon,’ presidential spokesman George Charamba was quoted as saying in Tuesday’s edition of the independent daily Newsday.

The paper also quoted a spokesman for Mugabe’s ZANU (PF) party as saying: ‘As a party, what we know is that he is on annual leave.’

A report earlier this week in British daily The Telegraph said the 86-year-old leader had undergone examinations on the condition of his prostate gland while on vacation in Malaysia and then returned home.

He was then forced to fly back to Kuala Lumpur for surgery after his gland condition suddenly worsened, the paper said.

Speculation about the president’s health has been growing over the past year amid signs of increased frailty.

In February, Zimbabwean diplomats said he repeatedly nodded off while meeting them.

Mugabe was said to have collapsed with exhaustion at last year’s United Nations general assembly in New York, while members of his cabinet have at times complained about his lapses in concentration.

(Source)

In a move to alleviate the panic among those who fear losing everything if they submit their fraudulent South African identity documents, Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said Wednesday that Zimbabweans who have been living in the country for years on fake South African IDs — and have bought property and started businesses — would be legalised, if they make the 31 December deadline.

She said Zimbabweans who have fake South African IDs with the same name and photograph as their Zimbabwean documents, and which also correspond with papers such as banking, business or property documents, will be assisted by the police with an affidavit that will allow their properties and businesses to be transferred to legal documentation.

She was accompanied by Zimbabwean Home Affairs Ministers Theresa Makone and Kembo Mohadi, who were in South Africa to ask for help in handling the volume of paperwork flooding their offices.

Dlamini-Zuma also said those who applied for passports in Zimbabwe but had not received them in time for the deadline would be considered as being “inside the shop or bank when the doors close”, adding that the Zimbabwean authorities would submit the database of passport applicants still being processed on deadline day to the DHA. But the department isn’t backing down on the recent statement that there will be no extension for Zimbabweans who fail to meet the December 31 deadline.

“Those who do not comply will face immigration laws — this means we arrest,” Ronnie Mamoepa, the department of home affairs spokesperson, said.

Those who work with migrants say the policy will result in a return to mass arrests, detention and “fruitless mass deportations”.

“You’ll also see a return to tens of thousands of spurious asylum claims as people try to get a hold of some kind of documentation,” said Loren Landau, director of the African Centre for Migration and Society (ACMS).

The applications

According to home affairs, between September 20 and December 1, 99 435 Zimbabweans applied; of these there are 64 980 applications in progress and 34 455 have been finalised.

With estimates of the numbers of Zimbabweans living in SA ranging between 1,5 and 2 million there is a long way to go.

Landau said the deadline wasn’t realistic and he believed only 5% of that number would receive work and business permits.

The process is open only to those Zimbabweans who are working, studying or doing business in South Africa says Mamoepa, and the documents they will receive “must last at least four years”.

He emphasised that the deadline, set by the Cabinet decision for the deadline would not be extended. “What is critical is to get people to get their applications in long before the 31st.”

Zweli Mnisi, the spokesperson for the department of police, said they would work closely with home affairs.

“It is not our stance to criminalise law-abiding foreign nationals in South Africa,” Mnisi said, but added that during police operations, and in daily policing, they will continue to search those who were here illegally, whether they were from Zimbabwe or any other country. But activists say recent raids, such as the one in Hillbrow during the police’s Operation Duty Calls campaign, had raised some concern.

“The presence of the home affairs officials at the raid clearly indicates that there was an intention to arrest, detain and potentially deport non-citizens,” said Landau. “While this raid was part of a broader crime-fighting initiative, it’s evident that the police want to send a message to the citizenry and to foreigners that they are seen as criminals and that their presence is not going to be tolerated.”

The progress

At the home affairs offices in Plein Street in Johannesburg late on Tuesday afternoon there was a queue of more than 80 Zimbabweans, who had already applied for permits but were back to check on progress.

At the back of the line was a young man who has been living in the country for two years. He had received an SMS on Friday to collect his documents, which he submitted on October 18. He said he had applied because he had just finished his studies and was now working.

“It was efficient but, here and there, there were delays. But we can’t really complain. We understand there’s a lot of congestions, there are a lot of ­people,” he said.

Lack of procedure

However, Kaajal Ramjathan-Keogh, chairperson of the Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa (Cormsa), said the process had been poorly managed and there were no uniform procedures.

“There are no clear guidelines on what is required and different offices have different requirements. There is no certainty in the process.”

Another problem, said Ramjathan-Keogh, was the more than 30 000 applications for passports sent to Zimbabwe.

One Zimbabwean woman, who did not want to be identified, said she had been living in South Africa for the past five years and was working as a domestic worker. She said she was still waiting for her passport to enable her to apply for the special permit.

“I do have a passport, but it expires on January 5,” she said. “I was told that I need a new one because this one expires very soon. I applied for my new passport three weeks back and they said it will take six weeks.”

She said a passport cost R800 and she had not had enough money to apply for it earlier. She said she was very scared as she did not know what will happen next year. Many of her friends who had applied for both passports and permits had still not received them, even those who applied six weeks ago.

“My older brother has applied for the permit and is still waiting. I do not know anyone who has received the permit. I do not know what’s going on.” She said if she had not been able to apply for a permit by the time the deadline expired, she would have to go back home. “There’s nothing I can do, I’ll go.”

The situation leaves those who work with migrants questioning the intention behind the September decision to grant Zimbabweans the opportunity to apply for the special permits.

Roni Amit, a senior researcher at ACMS, said: “The fact that they are so adamant about not extending the deadline suggests that this was not really a way to regularise the status of Zimbabweans. Instead, it seems to be a cosmetic measure aimed at justifying the resumption of arrests and deportations.”

(Source)

STATE security agents have warned off editors of privately-owned newspapers from repeating South African and British newspaper claims that President Robert Mugabe’s wife, Grace, had an affair with Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono.

Aides of both Gono, who is married, and Grace Mugabe, nee Marufu, strongly reject the allegations.

Four senior Central Intelligence Organisation officials met newspaper editors separately in Harare and issued various threats on Tuesday, according to an editor who attended the meetings, but who wanted his publication to remain unnamed.

“They basically claimed they knew that our paper was planning to report the story, which sounded like fishing to me. I pretended I had no clue what they were talking about and forced them to go over it.

“They said someone might die if we go on and repeat the allegations, they made that very clear,” he said.

The editor said the CIO operation appeared aimed at “getting the threats in before the midweek papers and weekend editions” of the Financial Gazette, News Day, Zimbabwe Independent and Standard newspapers.

New Zimbabwe.com has learnt that President Mugabe met Gono for lunch on Monday, and advisers of the two men had met on Tuesday and Wednesday morning to map a strategy of tackling the damaging reports first carried in both the UK and South African Sunday Times newspapers.

A source familiar with the discussions said: “These have been intense discussions. Their lawyers have advised them that they have strong grounds to sue the Sunday Times newspapers for libel, but the political advisers are split.

“Some are saying they would rather the matter be totally ignored, but those on the opposite end of the planning say this would create a permanent impression that reports of the affair were true – something which would dog the rest of Mugabe’s presidency and subject both Gono and the First Lady to unending public ridicule.”

Meanwhile, President Mugabe and his wife made their first joint public appearance since Sunday at the burial of his brother in law at Kachere Farm in Concession on Tuesday.

Bonny Brian Gumbochuma, who died aged 57 last Saturday, was married to Grace Mugabe’s elder sister.

Mugabe described the late Gumbochuma as a humble person who helped him “integrate into the Marufu family”.

(Source)

A brave Grimsby based Zimbabwean born British soldier is using his specialist knowledge of roadside bombs to help save British lives in the dangerous Helmand province of Afghanistan.

Lance Corporal Albert Dzapasi moved to the town from Zimbabwe to study electronics at Grimsby Institute – and he is now putting his expertise to the good use by training UK service personnel to operate technical equipment that detects deadly explosives.

The fearless 25-year-old, who is known as ‘DZ’ to his colleagues, serves with the 30th Signal Regiment, Royal Corps of Signals and volunteered for the six-month operational tour where he is responsible for maintaining and repairing the life-saving kit.

(Source)

Next Page »