Friday, May 30, 2008

Bob not leaving, never, says Grace

Shamva, Zimbabwe, 29 May 2008 - Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe will never vacate his office for opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai even if he loses a run-off election next month, his wife said Thursday.

Grace Mugabe told followers of her husband's Zanu-PF party that Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) would not be allowed to take power under any circumstances.

"Even if people vote for the MDC, Morgan Tsvangirai will never step foot inside State House," she said after meeting victims of political violence that has rocked Zimbabwe since the first round of voting on March 29.

"He will only get to hear about what it looks like inside State House from people who have been there. Even if Baba [Mugabe] loses, he will only leave State House to make way for someone from Zanu-PF."

The 84-year-old president, who has ruled the former British colony since independence in 1980, is to square off against Tsvangirai on June 27 after an inconclusive first round.

Tsvangirai fell just short of an outright majority on March 29 needed to avoid a run-off, although the MDC wrested control of Parliament from Zanu-PF in a legislative poll that took place at the same time.

Grace Mugabe, who is 40 years Mugabe's junior, accompanied her husband to the rural area of Shamva, north-east of Harare, for a tour of a homestead which was allegedly burned down by MDC followers.

"What we saw really touched us. We are not animals but humans. If you burn down someone's house you want to destroy their lives," the president said.

"We want to warn the MDC they should stop immediatelty this barbaric camapign of burning and destroying people's homes."

While Mugabe has laid the blame for post-election violence at the feet of the MDC, the United Nations and human rights groups say that Zanu-PF has been responsible for the lion's share.

The MDC says more than 50 of its supporters have been killed by pro-Mugabe militias since March 29, and tens of thousands displaced, as part of a campaign of intimidation designed to ensure victory for Mugabe on June

Source: AFP

Violence rages on in Zimbabwe

WASHINGTON, 28 MAY 2008 - Political violence continued to flare in various parts of Zimbabwe this week despite an assurance from a police spokesman in Harare that the situation was under control.

In the Buhera North constituency of Manicaland, sources reported violent clashes between supporters of the ruling ZANU-PF party of President Robert Mugabe and the Movement for Democratic Change formation of Morgan Tsvangirai.

Mugabe and Tsvangirai will face each other June 27 in a presidential runoff election, the March 29 first round having been deemed inconclusive by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission. The commission said Tsvangirai took 47.9% of ballots, short of a majority, while Mr. Mugabe was said to have claimed a 43.2% share.

Tsvangirai's MDC formation and the MDC grouping led by Arthur Mutambara between them claimed a majority in the lower house of parliament in a stinging setback for the ruling party. Violence against MDC supporters in rural areas quickly ensued.

The state-controlled Herald newspaper said six ZANU-PF supporters were in serious condition at Murambinda Hospital after clashing with suspected opposition members. The newspaper said 10 homes were burned along with other property.

Another Manicaland source said opposition organizing secretary for Makoni West constituency Aaron Gandanga was abducted from Masvosva Business Center late Wednesday by armed militia in two trucks. His whereabouts were undetermined.

Despite such incidents, police spokesman Oliver Mandipaka told party representatives meeting in Harare Wednesday that authorities had the situation under control.

Elsewhere, the Chiweshe area of Mazowe Central constituency, Mashonaland Central province, remained a no-go area following violent clashes this week which left at least two ZANU-PF supporters dead. Sources familiar with events in the area said soldiers and riot police had sealed off the district and were arresting all males.

Newly elected member of parliament for Mazowe Central constituency Shepherd Mushonga told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that soldiers and ZANU-PF youth militia on Thursday forced villagers to a ruling party political meeting, obliging schools in the area to close in the process.

Source: Voice of America

RBZ hikes gold support price 628%

By: Oscar Nkala

The Reserve Bank of Zim-babwe (RBZ) has raised the gold support price from Z$700-million a gram to at least Z$5,1-billion a gram, in response to an outcry by small- and large-scale miners alike.

A senior RBZ official, speaking on condition of anonymity, and miner representative organisa- tions have confirmed that the new price, which translates into a 628% increase, was agreed on at a meeting held between gold-miners and the central bank last week.

“The move is aimed at offering a price as close to [that on] inter-national markets as possible. The new price was calculated at prevailing markets rates, which, on the day the agreement was reached, stood at US$980/oz.

“It was also agreed that the percentage of the cost which the bank pays in local currency would no longer be fixed but would be deter- mined by the day’s interbank rates,” the RBZ official says.

He says that, in raising the price, the RBZ wants to stop gold- miners from trading the commodity on the parallel market, where prices are almost three times higher than those gazetted by the State.

Zimbabwe Miners’ Federa- tion CEO Wellington Takavarasha has confirmed the agreement on new prices.

“It was an amicable agreement guided by the harsh operational reality we face in the light of hyper-inflation. We also discussed how the bank can move in to snuff out the parallel gold dealing market, which, we are sure, is still strong enough to survive and prosper.

“In the light of this, we call on all those miners dealing on the parallel market to return to official channels,” Takavarasha tells Mining Weekly. He says small-scale gold-miners are also happy with the liberalised exchange rate, adding that it will allow miners to make profits and buy up-to-date equipment to enhance production.

No comment has been forthcoming from the Chamber of Mines, which was also part of the price review negotiations. The RBZ has identified the trading of gold on the parallel market and gold smuggling as some of the major factors behind a steep decrease in gold output delivered to its refinery.


Coal shortage stymies Zim power station reactivation

The three thermal power stations, which President Robert Mugabe’s government said had been reactivated before the March 29 elections, have once again “gone dead”.

A senior engineer at ZEDC tells Mining Weekly that, at its peak, last month, Harare thermal power station managed to produce only 30 MW, while the Bulawayo plant produced less than 20 MW.

“The thermal power stations have gone dead once again because the colliery has simply failed to supply the coal. ZEDC is also facing a serious cash crisis and cannot fund any project on its own. That is why the colliery has to be subsidised through a loan from NamPower, of Namibia, to increase coal production and keep supplies coming to the stations,” says the engineer.

At full capacity, the three thermal power stations produce up to 400 MW.

HCC MD Fred Moyo admits that there have been problems regard- ing coal supplies to many of its consumers, including power stations, farmers and mining operations.

“The problems we have been experiencing over the last few years, particularly breakdowns of machinery and others to do with our precarious financial position, have combined to cause a downturn in production. However, we are doing our best to ensure that we increase coal supplies to all our customers, locally and internationally,” Moyo tells Mining Weekly.

Zesa CEO Brian Rwafemoyo also confirms that the shortage of coal has forced a halt to the revamping of thermal power stations. He says the Harare thermal power plant is still operating, but at “highly irregular” intervals.

“Harare power station is operating but on an intermittent basis, which depends on the availability of coal. So the production is negligible and cannot be quantified in terms of its contribution to the national output.

“We are still engaged with HCC to find ways to improve coal supplies,” says Rwafemoyo. He states that the company’s cash-flow problems are expected to ease as soon as the $40-million deal with NamPower is implemented.

Through the deal, the Namibian power utility will help HCC to increase coal production and keep a steady supply to the Hwange power station, in return for increasing its allocation of 40 MW by an additional 30 MW to 35 MW.


Thursday, May 29, 2008

Political crisis affects at least 11 000: UNICEF

HARARE - More than 11 000 children have been affected by political violence since Zimbabwe's disputed March 29 elections, the United Nations Children'sFund (UNICEF) said on Wednesday.

Political violence broke out in many parts of Zimbabwe almost immediately it became clear that opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and his Movement forDemocratic Change (MDC) party had defeated President Robert Mugabe and his ruling ZANU PF party in the March polls.

The MDC accuses Mugabe of unleashing ZANU PF militias and the army to beat and torture Zimbabweans into backing him in a second round presidential election on June 27 - a charge the government denies. The opposition party says at least 50 of its supporters have been killed in the violence and thousands more displaced.

UNICEF country representative Festo Kavishe, in a written response to questions from ZimOnline, yesterday said the affected children, some of whom no longer attended school after being displaced together with their families, were in urgent need of help.

Kavishe said: "We have received reliable information that over 11 000 children have been affected by the violence and are in need of assistance. The children have been affected in various ways.

"Some have been unable to attend school, others have been displaced together with their families, a few have been beaten together with their mothers and many have been affected by the psychological trauma of seeing their parents, guardians or their teachers being beaten and humiliated in front of them."

The UNICEF official said in the absence of appropriate and adequate psychological support the impact of the violence on children could have long-term negative effects well into adulthood.

The world children's agency was working with local partners to identify affected children and provide them with basic requirements. Kavishe said before the outbreak of political violence, UNICEF was providing support through NGOs to more than 180 000 orphans and other vulnerable children.

However, he added that this support was in jeopardy because political violence made it impossible to reach out to all the needy children. In addition to political violence, Zimbabwean children must also suffer the harsh effects of a severe food crisis gripping the country for the past eight years and an economic recession marked by the world's highestinflation rate that is close to a million percent according to some estimates.

Source: ZimOnline

Zimbabwe goes haywire...

28 May 2008

As reports of acts of lawlessness and politically-motivated violence continue to rock Zimbabwe, war veterans have reportedly ordered villagers in Matabeleland South to remove satellite television receivers from their homes.

According to "The Standard" newspaper of 25 May 2008, terrified villagers told the privately-owned weekly that the war veterans had set up bases throughout the province from which they were conducting all-night "political re-orientation" vigils.

The war veterans ordered the villagers to remove the receivers on 21 May because the broadcasts they were receiving were allegedly "misleading" them into voting against Zanu PF. Most villagers in the area can only watch and listen to South African and Botswana-based television and radio stations because of the poor transmission signals of the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation, the sole state broadcaster in Zimbabwe.

MISA-Zimbabwe notes with great concern that these reports come hard on the heels of the torching of a truckload of 60,000 copies of "The Zimbabwean on Sunday" weekly newspaper on 24 May by unknown assailants. The driver of the truck, Christmas Ramabulana, a South African national, and distribution assistant Tapfumaneyi Kancheta were severely assaulted by their attackers.

Ramabulana and Kancheta were stopped 67 km from Zimbabwe's southern town of Masvingo and forced to drive along the Chivi-Mandamabwe road for 16 km before turning into Mandamabwe Road, where the truck and its contents were set alight. According to Wilf Mbanga, the publisher of "The Zimbabwean on Sunday" and its partner publication "The Zimbabwean", the two media workers were severely assaulted before being dumped in the bush.

A clear and consistent pattern of attacks on media and freedom of expression rights is emerging in Zimbabwe amid the post-election violence and at a time when preparations are on for the holding of the presidential election run-off on 27 June.

Source: Media Institute of Southern Africa (Windhoek)