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President Mugabe is today expected to address the 66th Session of the United Nations General Assembly which opened at the UN Headquarters here yesterday. He attended the opening ceremony alongside other world leaders most of whom upheld the lobby for reforming the UN Security.

Zimbabwe is expected to advocate the democratisation of the 15-member organ and the expansion of the General Assembly’s scope. It is also supporting Palestine’s quest for full UN membership.

Earlier this week, Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi said the country was pushing for all regions of the world to be represented among the permanent members of the Security Council.

Africa, he said, was still eyeing two permanent seats.

“There is the reform of the United Nations, in general, and the Security Council, in particular. This is an on-going debate. We think pressure needs to be exerted to democratise the Security Council. At the moment, it only has 15 countries; so it should be expanded,” he said.

“The total membership of the UN is now 194 (including Palestine). We think a bigger council will, therefore, be more representative. Africa also believes the veto should be done away with. If it remains in place, then the permanent seats have to be reconsidered.

The General Assembly is big and, therefore, should be accorded more powers and responsibilities. We believe the proposed reforms must enable it to override some of the decisions of the Security Council. We can’t have 15 countries or, one country, making decisions for 194 nations.”

Addressing the General Assembly yesterday, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff who became the first woman in UN history to open the general debate – said the proposed reforms were stalling.

She called for the inclusion of new permanent Security Council members and also expressed her country’s support for Palestinian membership.

“The proposed reform of the Security Council is now in its 18th year. It is no longer principled to postpone it. The world needs new permanent members, especially developing countries,” she said.

“Brazil is ready to co-operate with the youngest member of the UN. Like most countries, we believe the time has come for us to have Palestine represented as a full member.”

Equatorial Guinea President and African Union chair Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo also proposed the democratisation of all UN organs. He said Africa favoured peaceful conflict-resolution, adding that the continent had become susceptible to neo-colonialism.

“Africa is in favour of the peaceful resolution of conflict through dialogue and mediation. The use of force has never provided a solution to conflict,” he said.

“. . . Unfortunately, we can see that the UN is being used in a fraudulent manner. The use of force in conflict does not unify but brings division and destruction.”

Speaking before the general debate, UN secretary general Mr Ban Ki-moon said there was need to promote sustainable development. He also implored leaders to explore ways of addressing climate change and global health concerns, among other critical matters.

“Saving our planet, lifting people out of poverty, advancing economic growth these are one and the same fight.

“We must connect the dots between climate change, water scarcity, energy shortages, global health, food security and women’s empowerment. Solutions to one problem must be solutions for all.

“We must make progress on climate change. We cannot burn our way to the future. We cannot pretend the danger does not exist – or dismiss it because it affects someone else.

Today, I call on you to reach a binding climate change agreement an agreement with more ambitious national and global emission targets. And we need action on the ground, now on cutting emissions and on adaptation.”

The UN General Assembly is expected to discuss several key issues including climate change, poverty eradication and proposals to reform the deliberative body. So far, Palestine’s bid to become the 194th member of the UN has remained highly contentious. Its leader, Mahmoud Abbas, is expected to make a formal request for statehood recognition.

However, US President Mr Barack Obama and his French counterpart, Mr Nicolas Sarkozy, are reportedly planning to compel him to drop moves in this direction. The US has since said it will invoke its veto power if the matter were tabled before the Security Council. Progressive nations are, nonetheless, supporting Palestine.

Addressing the General Assembly yesterday, Mr Obama said: “Ultimately, it is Israelis and Palestinians who must live side by side. Ultimately, it is Israelis and Palestinians not us – who must reach an agreement on the issues that divide them: on borders and security; on refugees and Jerusalem.

I believed then and I believe now that the Palestinian people deserve a state of their own. But what I also said is that genuine peace can only be realised between Israelis and Palestinians themselves.”

(Source)

President Robert Mugabe is said to be seriously considering sacking Central bank chief Gideon Gono following a series of leaked documents from the US embassies by the whistle blower website WikiLeaks, The Zimbabwe Mail can reveals.

Zimbabwean strongman president Mugabe is said to have been given until 2013 to live, according to his family friend and close confidante Gideon Gono, the Central Bank Governor, who revealed the news in a meeting with the US ambassador in 2008.

The Zimbabwean government and Mugabe’s office was not immediately available for comment.

Mr Mugabe’s battle with the disease was revealed to James McGee, the former US Ambassador to Harare, by Gideon Gono, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor, during a private meeting in June 2008.

Mr Gono is one of 87-year-old Mr Mugabe’s closest friends but was last year accused of having an affair with the president’s wife, Grace, who is 41 years his junior – something both parties denied.

This morning a number of Cabinet Ministers and Zanu PF officials mentioned in the leaked diplomatic cables have been summoned to President Mugabe’s office to explain the allegations and an emergency security taskforce has been set up to investigate the latest leaked cable documents.

We have also been told that Gono has been suspended from JOC with immediate effect for allegedly leaking highly classified information only availed to elite members in JOC, the Joint Operations Command and there is a likelihood of him arrested.

There is now fear within security agencies that the Central Bank Governor might flee the country or take refuge in one of the Western embassies as the net close-in on him.

JOC is the powerful secretive Joint Operations Command (JOC) centre which is manned by high ranking Zanu PF government officials and members of all security agencies and key State departments. Its role is now heavily enmeshed in the succession process in President Mugabe’s Zanu PF.

It is believed President Mugabe has informed his loyalists in JOC about his health problems and he has surrendered some of his daily State duties to the body which is chaired by the Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, the leading contender in the party’s succession battle.

There are mounting fears that were if Mugabe were to die in office; it could spark a violent power struggle between rival factions in the security forces and the party to take over power.

One of the two men seen as key in the struggle, Solomon Mujuru, a former army chief and husband of the current Vice President Joyce, was killed at a mysterious fire at his farm last month.

Last Sunday, Mr Gono and his family also escaped a fire at their farm in Harare, although police insist the two fires are not linked.

Speaking this weekend, Mr Mugabe said he wanted elections to be held in early 2012 and accused Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change, which shares power with Zanu PF in a shaky coalition, of “dilly-dallying” because they fear a defeat.

Gono also claimed credit for the dismissal from Zanu PF and government of former Information Minister Jonathan Moyo and also told US embassy officials he would be happy to see Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa “wounded”, according to leaked US diplomatic cables.

Gono met former US ambassador to Zimbabwe Christopher Dell in December 2004 claiming to be a “messenger” from President Robert Mugabe who, the RBZ chief said, was keen to see an improvement in relations between the two countries.

During the 90-minute meeting, Gono is said to have claimed that Mugabe would soon dismiss Moyo and Chinamasa over their involvement in the Tsholotsho saga, adding the Zanu PF leader was also unhappy with Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo and his then Foreign Affairs colleague, Stan Mudenge.

Gono predicted Moyo would be fired from his party and government positions, adding many in Zanu PF welcomed his demise.

“Gono predicted Mugabe would not include Moyo in the new (Zanu PF) politburo (adding that) without a politburo seat, Moyo could not plausibly continue as the government’s official spokesman. Gono confirmed that many in Zanu PF were fed up with Jonathan and his approach and supported his ouster,” Dell said.

Said Dell: “Gono also postulated that Chinamasa’s influence was waning and that Mugabe might exclude the Justice Minister from the new politburo, in part a result of Gono’s own efforts to undermine him (Chinamasa).

“The RBZ governor explained he had ‘no sympathy’ for Chinamasa after he turned down the UN Development Programme’s election assistance offer. Gono (said) that it was sometimes a good thing to see people like Chinamasa get ‘wounded’.

Also facing investigations and disciplinary action is the feisty Minister of Youth Development, Indigenisation and Empowerment, Saviour Kasukuwere, amid reports that when he turned up for work this morning, he found the keys to his office changed.

Kasukuwere appeared to question the suitability of Mugabe during separate meetings with senior US government officials.

Kasukuwere allegedly met former United States ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Tom McDonald in November 2000 and called for leadership renewal in Zanu-PF.

He said the leadership change was supposed to start to pave way for younger replacements, the cable reads.

“Kasukuwere, a youngish businessman with strong party ties, said that the land issue had been blown out of proportion and that farmland should not be taken away from white farmers by force. He also plainly stated that President Mugabe and his cronies must be phased out of their leadership role and some in his party had proposed that the two vice-presidents should step down as a first step,” WikiLeaks said.

This morning we have also been told by sources that Kasukuwere was battling to save his political career and when our reporter called him to seek explanation he threatened him and his family.

The Zimbabwe Mail is also in pursuit of information from impeccable sources in the military saying two military Generals Brigadier General Herbert Chingono, the Inspector General for the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA), and Major General Fidelis Satuku, the ZDF Director General for Policy and Personnel, have been arrested at the Army Headquarters by members of the Military Police for the damning remarks they made during private meetings with Ambassador Charles Ray between January 5 and 6, 2010.

The pair allegedly said Chiwenga – a political commissar before Independence in 1980 — lacked military expertise and experience.

The defence forces chief was said to have only attended one mid-level training course, which he did not even complete.

“General Constantine Chiwenga is a political general who works hard, but who has very little practical military experience or expertise,” the cable reads.

“Given a choice between a military and a political issue, Chiwenga will always choose the political because he doesn’t know enough about the military to be comfortable discussing it.”

Chingono and Satuku also stressed Chiwenga’s political ambitions with Chingono noting: “He (Chiwenga) will be very disappointed if he does not get a political position when his tenure as defence chief ends.”

In social networks, the latest wikiLeaks revelations have gripped the nation and generated so much interest amongst Zimbabweans who have flocked to join the banter as to which party is more damaged, between the two rival camps; Zanu PF and the MDC-T. The consensus is that both are in serious danger of being engulfed into bitter feuding.

(Source)

Prostitutes here have accused the police of abuse, while Zimbabwe Lawyers of Human Rights (ZLHR) has condemned the law enforcement agencies for taking advantage of the women.

“The police beat us, pour water on us and deny us food for as long as five days,” a sex worker admitted. “We are in this not by choice but because of circumstances, and when the police see us on the streets they beat us up and take us to jail. Failure to pay fines often results in further harassment or even rape.”

A ZLHR representative said the police had no right to abuse their position. “The police have no right under the constitution or any law to take advantage of women and sexually abuse them because there are loitering or suspected to be loitering for the purpose of prostitution,” said ZLHR in a statement.

Police Assistant Commissioner, Wayne Bvudzijena, said that he would investigate the claims, but ZLHR said the perpetrators were unlikely to be charged.

“It is unfortunate to note that many women who have been raped and abused have not been able to access justice owing to an uncooperative police force that seeks to protect its own,” said ZLHR.

(Source)

Vigil supporter Josephine Chari of Southend has been detained by the UK Border Agency and told she has been booked on Kenyan Airways KQ101 to Nairobi leaving Heathrow at 20.00 on Thursday 21st July.

Her case is being addressed by the Zimbabwe Association and others. For our part, the Vigil believes that Zimbabwean failed asylum seekers should not be removed until the situation in Zimbabwe is safe for opponents of Mugabe and when they can make a living. As it is, there are constant reports of violence and human rights abuses from Zimbabwe.

Josephine has been a regular Vigil supporter. She is being deported when there is no guarantee of her safety, particularly as she is a person who has been visible as a Vigil activist. For the Vigil’s approach to this, here is part of our basic submission to the Home Office/UKBA:

In July 2010 an activist representing the Vigil and our partner organisation Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe returned home on a visit. He was identified as a Vigil supporter and arrested, beaten up and tortured. He would still be there if it hadn’t been for our efforts to get him legal help and escape from Zimbabwe.

The Vigil does not know how any other individual would be treated if returned to Zimbabwe. But this incident shows that activism in the UK and attendance at the Vigil increases the risk of being known by the forces within Zimbabwe that still perpetrate violence against Mugabe opponents. We are a high-profile protest that has been under constant surveillance by intelligence operatives of the regime.

Our supporters are those who care enough about the human rights abuses in their country to attend our protests. Many of them make a considerable effort in terms of cost and long hours travelling to come because they see the right of freedom to protest, which is denied to those back home, as important in the campaign against human rights abuses in Zimbabwe.

Our supporters are easy to identify because we are an on-the-street protest constantly photographed by the passing public (including unidentified people who do not join the protest and who our supporters confirm as Zimbabwean). Photos taken by ourselves appear on many photo and video websites which can be accessed by the Zimbabwe Central Intelligence Organisation.

This was demonstrated when one of our reports accompanied by a photo of one of our supporters appeared in the newspaper the Zimbabwean which is circulated in Zimbabwe as well as South Africa and the UK. Within days his family home in Zimbabwe was raided by the police who spoke angrily about Zimbabweans in the UK.

More recently, the funeral of the mother of a member of the Vigil management team was disrupted by Mugabe’s ZANU PF members because of his involvement with the Vigil – check: http://www.zimvigil.co.uk/the-vigil-diary/312-voice-of-british-caribbeans-ashamed-of-mugabe-zimbabwe-vigil-diary-4th-june-2011.

The UK government indicated last year that it was ending its moratorium on sending home failed Zimbabwean asylum seekers despite continuing evidence of political violence and the targeting of anti-Mugabe activists. The Vigil would be interested in hearing of anyone being sent back. As mentioned in our last diary another supporter has been given a date by which to leave.

You may want to phone Kenyan airways (0871 258 2179) to persuade them to refuse to take Josephine on the flight.

(Source)

Comment: I am not entirely convinced that publishing a photograph of the woman in question will assist her or her family upon return to Zimbabwe. Given that the article cites an example where someone’s picture was published in The Zimbabwean and the person’s family home was raided… TBM

THE missing MDC-UK funds has netted its first casualty with confirmed reports that the former Provincial Treasurer Mr Tendai Goneso has been suspended from the party amid allegations that he withdraw party funds on-line despite being officially suspended by Secretary General Tendai Biti.

Biti suspended the Jonathan Chawora led MDC-UK and Ireland province which was subsequently dissolved following serious allegations of financial mismanagement that unravelled up to £57 000 being unaccounted for up to this day.

In a provincial meeting chaired by the newly-elected Tonderai Samanyanga, the council resolved to suspend Goneso with immediate effect pending further investigations.

According to a statement released by the MDC-UK and Ireland yesterday, a Commission of Enquiry consisting of the Provincial Vice Chair, Provincial Treasurer, Secretary for Legal Affairs, Midlands North Treasurer, Southeast District Chair was appointed to investigate the Financial Affairs and Procedures at Districts and Branches.

Source said Goneso who is directly responsible for the missing £57 000,00 allegedly went ahead and withdrew nearly £1000,00 after being suspended.

Many believe Goneso should be reported to the fraud squad arguing that if true, the matter constituted criminal behaviour of the highest order.

(Source)

The Zimbabwe coalition government Power Development minister Elton Mangoma and MDC Deputy-Treasurer Energy has been arrested again.

“Honourable Elton Mangoma was this morning picked up by the police from his house. More details to follow,” read a cell phone text message sent by the Morgan Tsvangirai led Movement of Democratic Change’s (MDC-T) information department to a Radio VOP reporter.

When Radio VOP called Mangoma’s lawyer Selby Hwacha it had not yet been clear on why the MDC deputy treasurer general had been arrested.

“Call me later. I am actually on my way to the police. I do not know yet why he has been arrested,” said Hwacha.

Mangoma was arrested two weeks ago on alleged violation of tender procedures after he had allegedly ordered the country’s oil company, Noczim, to source diseal supplies from a little known South African company without going to tender.

He is out on bail and his trial is set to kick off on March 28.

Last week, the state media reported that Mangoma faced fresh charges after he allegedly instructed the cancellation of a tender involving the purchase and supply of prepayment revenue management system, meters and associated equipment, just as the winner was about to be announced.

The MDC believes that arrest of Mangoma and other MDC MPs is part of a renewed crackdown on Zanu (PF) opponents by President Robert Mugabe’s regime.

The MDC is desperate for numbers in Parliament as the party is seeking to retain the speaker of the house of assembly’s post which was rendered vacant after a Supreme Court ruling two weeks ago nullifying Lovemore Moyo’s election to the influential post.

(Source)

Good evening Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen.

On behalf of my wife, Heather, my party, the Movement for Democratic Change, and indeed the people of Zimbabwe, I thank you for the opportunity of talking to you this evening.

The continuing trials and tribulations of Zimbabwe, I am sure, feel far away, and utterly disconnected from this beautiful city of Cape Town, and from your conference deliberations. I trust that you have enjoyed your visit and that the conference has been successful.

I hope my short address will help reinforce the inescapable reality that when citizens are abused, ignored and downtrodden by despotic regimes, they will ultimately seize centre stage in their quest for justice and meaningful participation in Government. This is a universal phenomenon. It is a phenomenon that is playing out dramatically in Libya, but is underway in dozens of countries.

I doubt whether the idealistic and incredible entrepreneurial founders of Apple, and social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace and Twitter, could have believed that their company creations and respective technologies would become some of the best weapons available for the defeat of tyrants!

But we must not digress along this train of thought. Instead, I ask you all to bear with me as I briefly explain how I – a simple White African farmer – have become the target that I am for Mugabe’s racist ZANU-PF.

I am biased, no doubt, but Charleswood Estate is probably the most beautiful farm I have ever seen. Buried deep in the Chimanimani Mountains in Eastern Manicaland, its splendour and impact on me has been as profound as the rolling hills of Ixopo in Kwa-Zulu Natal were upon the late Alan Paton in his memorable novel, ‘Cry the Beloved Country’. Charleswood was a coffee estate, belonging to Lonrho. It was out on a limb, run down and in disrepair. Having been so struck with its magnificence – and the commercial opportunities it offered – I faced a crossroads, a turning point in my family’s life. A comfortable life of tobacco farming in northern Zimbabwe had to be exchanged for a new journey into the remote Chimanimani Mountains.

I am a son of Zimbabwe. I speak Shona fluently. I am continually and deeply humbled by the spontaneous generosity and innate decency of most ordinary Zimbabweans. Before moving to Charleswood, and out of respect for local culture and community hierarchy, I met with the region’s tribal leaders to discuss my plans for the rejuvenation of Charleswood. Charleswood is divided by the Zhunguniu River. To the north lies the Chikukwa Communal Lands and to the south the Ngorma Communal Lands. It is with the two chiefs of these areas that I met and, in a traditional way, made representation that I would like to purchase Charleswood. Ancestrally, the land was theirs and I could only have it once I had their endorsement, acceptance and approval. I needed to follow certain cultural and traditional practices: the respective Chiefs came to Charleswood and carried out ceremonies on three separate occasions – traditional beer was brewed, livestock was slaughtered, and for three days at a time ancestors were consulted until approval, endorsement and acceptance was conveyed to me.

I fervently wished to kick-start a vertically integrated coffee industry, and in so doing act as the catalyst for a commercially sustainable agro industry – one that would be good for me and for a desperately poor community. My life, Heather’s life, and those of our two children, have been completely turned on their heads by the whole-hearted acceptance and steadfast affection of the Chimanimani people. What an incredibly brave, principled community. I was privileged to represent them in Parliament on behalf of the MDC, before being jailed and expelled from the House of Assembly.

You see, ladies and gentleman, once our farming enterprise gathered momentum – with the community participating on the basis of an agreement we negotiated during our initial discussions – the people of Chimanimani subsequently took deep offence to ZANU-PF rejecting me as their local candidate in the 2000 parliamentary elections. (Not that I asked to embark on a career as a politician. I can think of nothing worse, let me tell you!) However, the Chimanimani tribal elders, after being rebuffed by ZANU-PF, dragged me to Harare to meet Morgan Tsvangirai, the recently elected leader of the newly-formed MDC. While offended by ZANU’s arrogance, the elders were not surprised – they had expected me to be rejected and had made contingency plans. Morgan welcomed me and the people of Chimanimani into the arms of the party. To say that my family’s life has been a roller coaster ride since then is obviously one hell of an understatement! But the people of Chimanimani, Manicaland and Zimbabwe are my daily inspiration.

The racist refusal by ZANU-PF to permit my nomination,followed by that party’s rejection by the voters of Chimanimani and by the people of Manicaland, was ground breaking in Zimbabwean politics. It’s like the ANC facing defeat in the Eastern Cape, or Labour losing Scotland to the Tories!

Nearly a decade later, in 2008, MDC again won another skewed election – we won it by a wide margin. Don’t for one minute believe the results presented by MUGABE’S fraudulent polling officers, more than one month after the event . The MDC won twenty-two of the twenty-eight seats in Manicaland. Indeed, since 2000, my life has been enriched in one sense, knowing that the rural people of Manicaland have stayed strong, solidly supporting MDC through thick and thin. For its part, ZANU-PF knows it has lost all credibility in Manicaland and across the nation. Our party’s urban support base is now replicated in rural areas the length and breadth of Zimbabwe. Robert Mugabe’s recent pathetic appeal to the people of Manicaland, to return to the arms of ZANU-PF, gave me great comfort and satisfaction. People power, symbolised and embodied by the people of remote Chimanimani, will win through, however long it takes. In my own round-about way, I feel I am getting us back to Libya, Kenya, Ivory Coast and Egypt, which is where I began my address.

Recent developments in these countries have highlighted and stripped bare the duplicity and hypocrisy of many of our Western friends, as individual countries and companies are shown to have abandoned principle and decency for relative short-term gain. That they now claim to be on the side of the people is grossly and glaringly cynical. The lessons for us all, and for those businesses you invest in, is that widespread social community acceptance is the fundamental prerequisite for sustainable long-term investment in Africa—be it in Egypt, South Africa, Zambia or Zimbabwe – or, for that matter, anywhere in the world.

Zimbabwe offers some of Africa’s most promising natural resources investment opportunities. Impala Platinum, Anglo American and Rio Tinto, and a host of other companies, are currently reviewing and expanding their investment portfolios there. Against this positive scenario are Mugabe’s threats and bluster relating to so-called ‘indigenisation’. These threats amount to no more than the ZANU-PF equivalent of a 1920’s-style Chicago Mob shakedown. This destructive and counterproductive strategy is a blatant ploy to enrich a politically corrupt elite – an elite rejected by the people. It goes without saying that any process of enriching individuals or companies connected to this infamous criminal syndicate WILL be nullified once the MDC are in power. And those who think they can hedge their bets by building bridges with certain corrupt opportunists who have attached themselves to MDC are seriously underestimating the determination and anger of the majority.

Zimbabwe’s wonderful investment opportunities favour the brave. Ethical Investments made through Zimbabwe’s Inclusive Government – and which meet the requirements of legality and transparency – need not fall foul of political skulduggery in the long term. Such investments can stand the test of time and will be restored by an MDC government if they are violated in the interim.

A word of advice, though. Why is it that local communities – not only in Zimbabwe, but also in South Africa, Congo, Zambia and so on – communities which are adjacent to mining developments, are not properly incorporated into structured entities as ‘indigenous partners’? There are such obvious long term advantages to be derived from local community acceptance. In South Africa, the Royal Bafokeng example, goes some way to address this issue However, my personal relationship with the people of Chimanimani on our collective social agricultural experiment provides powerful evidence of the strength and value of community loyalty; it shows clearly the benefit of genuine local participation.

We in the MDC wish to see transparent, simple community funding as an anchor and pillar of natural resources exploitation. We do not wish to see a replication of the South African example as a model for our empowerment requirements – one where, in nearly every case, the enrichment of ruling party members has occurred at the expense of poor communities. Rio Tinto and Impala Platinum are embarking on new investments in Zimbabwe. Shareholders in these companies must now insist that they reflect the demands of this rapidly evolving new world order; they must incorporate genuinely broad-based community equity participation. It is simply unacceptable for politicians, whether ZANU-PF or MDC, to throw their hats into the ring and emerge with significant stakes in companies in the midst of such poverty. The anger of the people of Egypt directed at all the symbols of enrichment by Mubarak’s family and cronies should be heeded by us in Southern Africa.

In the Zimbabwean context, there is a need for reflection by major mining houses. Some of these institutions must come to terms with their unacceptable complicity in Mugabe’s blackmail. This is a story that cannot be left untold. There is no excuse for Impala Platinum, in an effort to placate ZANU-PF and Mugabe, to again offer the state mining rights in ZIMPLATS, a subsidiary it already owns and controls. These assets belong to Impala Shareholders! There is no excuse for Anglo Platinum to have ceded a huge chunk of its ground just before the 2008 elections – ground that was quickly sold on by a desperate and cash-poor ZANU (PF) at a $100 million profit. Shareholders need to demand from management that these rights be properly valued and retained – and not surrendered for the benefit of a blood-thirsty coterie of gangsters. Face the regime down or force them into open and into outright theft. Please don’t legitimise extortion at the expense of the people. Better to lose what you have and regain it later than to sleep with a serial rapist and killer. If you do so, remember that he will not only beat and murder the neighbours, he will turn on YOU in due course and you will be pitied by no-one. You cannot squeal if you have been playing along.

When it comes to engagement, management in companies like Impala Platinum need to initiate a structure for local community participation and for the national benefit which is endorsed by all stakeholders, including the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions. As far as I know, ZCTU have not been invited in to invest in any shape or form. We in the MDC view the success of investment companies in South Africa aligned to trade unions as an entrenchment of democracy in the workplace.

You are a very influential gathering of asset managers, investment companies, private equity and venture capitalists. If you so choose, you can insist that your investments in Southern African natural resources are always directed toward companies where social responsibility principles, which most of us share, are at the heart of empowerment initiatives. The unscrupulous will tell us ‘Business is Business’. For them, the pursuit of profit seems to outweigh the human rights and benefits which ordinary citizens should enjoy.

To illustrate my criticism of the pursuit of ill-advised opportunism, we need to look no further than the sad and seedy role of Old Mutual in the illicit diamond mining that is occurring in the Marange diamond fields of Manicaland. These fields are controlled by the military junta and were attained over the dead bodies of hundreds of impoverished Zimbabweans. This unacceptable example of corporate greed and willful negligence cannot be swept under the carpet any longer. For a respected London-listed financial services company to continue its investment and shareholding in a joint venture with a disreputable scrap metal merchant and – wait for this – an infamous confidante of Robert and Grace Mugabe is simply unbelievable! It is brazen. It is reprehensible and obscene. The company has said (and I quote): “Old Mutual would like to point out that [its]… engagement post-dated any reported wrongdoing in the mining area. As a result, Old Mutual is most certainly not associated with activities which contravenes the human rights of citizens.” This is cant and obfuscation, a blowing of smoke and hot air.

As MDC, we have urged Old Mutual – quietly behind closed doors – to quit their blood-stained investment. The company has not listened, so we now air our greivences publicly. Old Mutual and its partners have benefited from the daylight robbery of mining rights and from massacres by the army and air force of Zimbabwe. In a well-documented orgy of violence, helicopter gunships mowed down civilians in cold blood, ‘clearing the decks’ for the junta’s illegal mining activities.

The opportunity exists for us to use international celebrities from Hollywood and members of the media to mount a Zimbabwean blood diamonds campaign. We warned Old Mutual of the danger of substantial contagion to their share price should this campaign get underway.

The shame for Old Mutual is compounded by the fact that the proceeds from the sales of these Blood Diamonds are being used by ZANU-PF to unleash another bout of political violence on ordinary Zimbabweans. The International Red Cross are currently feeding starving residents from Marange Communal Lands, an area adjacent to the diamond mines, while a shameless, ruthless and predatory elite plunder the resources of the Zimbabwean people and use the proceeds to inflict violence on them! The Kimberley Process is in complete disarray. Within the Inclusive Government, the MDC cannot exercise the control needed to ensure these activities are properly subject to credible scrutiny, so it is incumbent on responsible corporates to heed our advice. This kind of corporate misbehaviour, deliberately myopic, provocatively arrogant and conspicuously inconsistent with the interests of the Zimbabwean people, is indicative of a looter’s mentality and it will boomerang on the perpetrators.

But I am not finished with Old Mutual quite yet. As if blood diamonds were not enough, this company has maintained a significant share in Zimpapers, the publisher of the government-controlled Herald, among others. If ever there was a practitioner of hate-speech and an apostle of vice and violence, this is it. This dirty little rag plays a very real part in the butchery and battery of our people. If this were 1994, I might well urge Old Mutual to go ahead and invest in that mouthpiece of the Hutu extremists, RTLM. The fundamental differences between Hutu and ZANU propaganda are scant. In a lame defence, Old Mutual has said “we do not influence or involve ourselves in the operational policy or practice of Zimpapers”. But in the same statement it goes on to say: “While we remain mindful of and sensitive to the social and political climate in Zimbabwe, these investments are… meant to meet needs and expectations in terms of returns for our Zimbabwean customers.” There’s no need to continue. We have heard you loud and clear. Profit before principle – and the Zimbabwean people be damned.

Many of you are able – and I urge you to do so—to bombard Julian Roberts in London with the question: ‘HOW, AND HOW AGAIN, COULD OLD MUTUAL INVESTMENT GROUP, ‘OMIGSA’, ever have invested in such sordid partnerships?’

These are but a couple of examples of the companies that have, and continue, to walk the halls of shame in Zimbabwe. There is no shortage of them. When the day of judgement comes, I will not lift a finger to save them from the consequences of their actions. Quite the contrary. And I am unreservedly confident that I will have a powerful constituency behind me. If these companies choose to reap the whirlwind, then so be it.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I hope that my address has not contrasted too sharply with the positive meetings you have had in this wonderful city. But I cannot over-emphasise the importance of you insisting that the companies you invest in are conducting their activities in countries like Zimbabwe with the blessing and support of the people and – concurrently – with the objective of advancing the interests of these communities, and NOT the political elite.

Regrettably Western Governments, which should have set an example, have looked the other way for years. They did it during the Cold War and they are still doing it. Dictators like Gadaffi – Mugabe’s long-running friend and supporter – only prosper when governments ‘look the other way’, be they British, Italian or American. In Libya’s case, the people were mere spectators in an undignified scramble for oil in which Western companies divided the spoils with the Gaddafi clique. The turmoil there was a long time coming.

In Zimbabwe’s case, a new dawn of hope for economic growth and long-term prosperity for our people beckons. Our country is richly blessed and endowed with treasure. Will investors clamber over the bodies of our people in a bid to get-rich-quick or will they be patient, supporting truly sustainable development that will bring a win–win for the nation and those who seek a profit?

For this entirely feasible scenario to become a reality we need you to see that your interests and your bottom line are best served by a mature and far-sighted vision – and, frankly, by common human decency. On our side, in the MDC, we see a political transition as our calling. We want and need a process of electoral reform that will give citizens the right to campaign and vote peacefully. I can assure you all that, with these building blocks in place – and with the necessary international observers present and on the ground well in advance of elections – MDC will win a huge majority.

For me personally, I have no political ambitions. I am a product of my circumstances, as I explained earlier. Nevertheless, I will continue to participate and speak out in the interests of ordinary Zimbabweans.

We seek to be free, and for companies to prosper in a society that is relatively free of corruption like Botswana. In the dark days of Apartheid, the grand anti-Apartheid alliance was a key component in the deconstruction of that system. Is the decade-long democratic struggle of the people of Zimbabwe – one in which we seek to rid ourselves of the stench of ZANU-PF’S corruption and violence – not deserving of your collective support? Should we feel guilty asking for South African and international help?

We humbly believe we have earned our right to ask for such support – and we do so in the knowledge that another dictatorship will tumble in the fullness of time.

I hope to have touched you with some sense of the plight facing ordinary Zimbabweans. I thank you all for your indulgence and will endeavour to answer any questions you may have.

(Source: via email)

A Zimbabwean boy aged four has been sent a letter from the Home Office informing him that he and his mother are facing deportation.

British-born Cher Siyamuanya, and his mother Netsui Karota, 28, received separate letters telling them they were ‘liable to removal’ from the UK.

But Ms Karota fears if she is returned to her homeland of Zimbabwe she will be executed or jailed for speaking out against Robert Mugabe’s brutal regime.

This would mean that Cher could be thrown into prison with her, or forced to live as an orphan on the country’s lawless streets.

An immigration judge said her story was ‘a pack of lies’ and ordered her out of Britain.

In a heartfelt plea to Home Office officials, she said: ‘I can’t go back there, I don’t know what will happen.

‘They sent me and Cher letters last month saying we are ‘liable to removal’, he can’t read or understand his, but he is worried when he sees me worried.’

Ms Karota came to the UK in 2006 after fleeing Zimbabwe via Malawi. Her parents were both murdered.

Ms Karota fears if she is returned to Zimbabwe she will be executed or jailed for speaking out against Robert Mugabe’s regime

She obtained a Malawian passport for the journey after being refused a Zimbabwean one as a member of the pro-democracy group, the Movement for Democratic Change.

UK officials believe she is Malawian and want to deport her and Cher, who was born in Liverpool Women’s Hospital, to that country.

But because of an extradition deal between Malawi and Zimbabwe, Ms Karota fears her and her son will be handed over to Zimbabwean authorities.

Ms Karota, who is vice-chairman of the Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe, said: ‘They have seen me protesting here, at the gates of the Zimbabwean embassy in London.’

Since coming to Liverpool, she has become part of the community as a regular member at the Hope City Church, a volunteer for Woman Asylum Seekers Together and a member of the Liverpool African association. Cher did attend nursery, but his mother is now too afraid to let him out of her sight.

She added: ‘I just want to say something, even though things look so bad. I want people to know that I’ve been here and that I tried, for me and for my son.’

Despite being born in Britain, Cher is due to be deported as a member of the family of a person who does not have leave to remain in the UK.

Cher’s father is a Zimbabwean who was granted British citizenship and lives in the UK, but he only has irregular contact.

A UK Border Agency spokesperson said: ‘Ms Karota’s case has been carefully considered by the UK Border Agency and by two separate courts. However, the immigration judge said she had told a pack of lies and invented a tissue of untruths in order to attempt to stay in this country.

‘The UK has a proud tradition of providing protection to those who genuinely need our help, but when someone is found by the UK Border Agency and the courts not to need our protection we expect them to leave.’

(Source)

When the ZANU PF Women’s League announced last Sunday that it wanted President Robert Mugabe to stand for elections next year and ‘rule forever’, it was in fact calling for violence.

“We endorse your candidature. We are saying: stand in the next election and rule forever,” ZANU PF Secretary for Women’s Affairs, Oppah Muchinguri, was quoted by state-owned media. “Your work cannot be compared to that of anyone else. Do not leave us.”

Declaring Mugabe the party’s sole candidate for the next elections and asking him to rule Zimbabwe forever is a stab in the back for the thousands of women and men who have endured violence from Mugabe’s ZANU PF party over the past decade. By making such a declaration, Muchinguri was effectively silencing the majority of women who live in the rural areas and who bear the brunt of Mugabe’s vicious attacks.

Mugabe is now synonymous with violence. He once said he had ‘degrees in violence’.  Mugabe is currently in power by default. After having lost the 2008 presidential election to Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai, he unleashed violence on the electorate resulting in 200 mostly MDC supporters killed, several others injured maimed, tortured and displaced from their homes.

Thousands of women and girls were raped. There have been no reparations.  Any decent help has mainly come from well wishers outside the country. The women struggle daily with the physical and psychological scars of their abuse. This is despite that Zimbabwe is signatory to the Convention of the Elimination of all Discrimination Against Women (Cedaw).  Some of the women in the ZANU PF Women’s League go around the world talking about Cedaw yet say nothing about their leader, Mugabe who uses the army, central intelligence officers, party youth militia and war veterans to instil fear, torture and kill innocent people.  It is therefore shocking to hear Muchinguri calling for life presidency for Mugabe.

Mugabe and his right hand men in the army and police have deliberately ignored violence by refusing to persecute the perpetrators who still roam freely and continue to issue more threats to defenceless citizens despite the setting of the Healing Organ.

Women constitute the majority of the population in Zimbabwe. The majority of these live in the rural areas where ZANU PF maintains a stronghold. The women have been cowered into silence. They have been threatened with denial of food and have been labelled sell outs for unseating ZANU PF political heavyweights by voting for the opposition. They do not have a voice. It is their urban counterparts like Muchinguri, who live in airy homes in Borrowdale, who make decisions on their behalf.  It is very clear that Muchinguri is singing for her supper.

Zimbabwe’s constitution making process is currently on hold in Harare and Chitungwiza due to violence. The process has been characterised by violence in most parts of the country while in some areas people have been threatened with death if they utter a word, especially in areas where army personnel have been planted.

If Mugabe is for the people then ZANU PF should let nature take its course. The constitution making process should be completed properly then a referendum held under peaceful conditions before a free and fair election so that people once again choose a leader of their choice.

(Source)

Approaching his 87th birthday next February, President Robert Mugabe appears to give his friends a few birthday gift ideas as he walks unsteadily down the steps prompting aides to offer some support.
These pictures were taken as Mugabe left the closing ceremony of the African Union’s Summit in Kampala, Uganda, on July 27.
Mugabe, who still looks fit for his age, has never been seen in public with a walking stick and until recently, was bouncing up and down the steps of Air Zimbabwe planes – an image his PR people were happy to put out as it showed their man to be robust and raring.
But these pictures from Uganda show a man struggling to hold onto his youthful stoicism that has helped him stay in power for an incredible 30 years – for his minders and his Zanu PF party an unwelcome reminder that aging is mandatory, and he too is vulnerable to the pulling power of the end of time.
Surprisingly, Mugabe’s cabinet colleagues speak of a man whose attentiveness at meetings belies his advanced age.
A senior minister from Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC party revealed recently: “Cabinet meetings start around 9AM and Mugabe can go all the way up to 1 or 2PM without taking a break, all the time listening intensely to the proceedings, but rarely talking himself.
“There is no question he’s doing better than many at his age.”
The teetotaller President is known to exercise regularly and is a big fan of yoga – a combination that has helped him stay fit and outfox his opponents despite growing public disaffection.
(Source)

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