CAPS parade league trophy

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HARARE - Castle Premier Soccer League Champions CAPS United are set to parade their floating trophy to their legion of fans in Harare and Chitungwiza today.?

United were crowned champions last week after fending the challenge of second-placed FC Platinum with a narrow 0-1 victory over Chapugu at Ascot Stadium in Gweru.

The Championship trophy is scheduled to leave CAPS United’s offices in Eastlea at 8am for Mabvuku before heading for Chitungwiza then Machipisa, Mbare before rounding up with  the central business district. 

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In a statement yesterday, CAPS chief executive Cuthbert Chitima appealed to the club’s fans to turn out in their numbers for the parading exercise. 

“CAPS United Football Club would like to advise all its valued stakeholders that there will be a Trophy Parade this Saturday (today)...The trophy will be done in various shopping centres or locations starting in Mabvuku, Chitungwiza, Machipisa, Mbare and finished intensively in the Harare Central Business District,” wrote Chitima.

 “Our institution would like to warmly invite... the supporters, sponsors and all other key stakeholders to be part of the event and join us in showcasing our success.”

United finished their impressive campaign on 63 points two ahead of  Norman Mapeza’s FC Platinum.

The Harare side have also confirmed their participation in the Caf Champions league where South Africa’s Mamelodi Sundowns are the defending champions.

Lloyd Chitembwe’s side will have to enjoy a short break as he prepares his side for the African Safari which kick off with a strenuous qualifying games.

Chibuku Super Cup winners Ngezi Platinum Stars also confirmed their participation in next year’s Confederations Cup.

‘First Lady, VP regret missing Sulu wedding’

HARARE - First Lady Grace Mugabe and Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa will send their representatives to grace Suluman Chimbetu’s wedding and album launch scheduled for today in Harare.

Orchestra Dendera Kings publicist Joe “Local” Nyamungoma told the Daily News that the two high-profile guests were keen to attend the event but were tied up.

“They were willing to attend but because of commitments, they have opted to send their emissaries,” Nyamungoma said.

Chimbetu will wed Linda Samuriwo, whom he has sired two children with.

The event will also see Sulu unveiling his latest studio album Jamboree. 

The wedding ceremony is pencilled for one of the very large “wedding palaces” Zimbali Gardens in Greendale.
 Jah Prayzah will be the best man, while his wife Rufaro will be the best lady.

 “Apart from being the best man, Jah Prayzah will go on to perform at the wedding and it’s after-party gig slated for Belgravia Sports Club.

 “Some members of the bridal team include Tryson Chimbetu, Franco Slomo, Douglas Chimbetu and Tanaka Sithole, among others,” Nyamungoma said. 

Chimbetu’s eight-track album was recorded at his new studio, Cockpit.

 Contrary to general opinion that the two artistes — Sulu and Jah Prayzah do not see eye to eye — Nyamungoma said the event will demonstrate that they are real brothers.

 “We did not appoint Jah Prayzah to prove a point but we have chosen him because of this brotherly issue.

 “However, the event will also cement their relationship and silence critics.”

  In a previous interview with Chimbetu, he was happy that he has managed to carve his own brand and identity. 

“Though I am the son of Simon Chimbetu, the legend, I am glad that I have managed to distinguish my works from his and fans know me as Sulu,” he said.

 Sulu’s has a number of albums including Ndomusiya Nani (2007), Reverse Deal (2009), Non Stop (2010), Syllabus (2012) and Gunship (2014). 

He is happy that his music commanded a huge following locally and in the region. 

“It is well received in countries such as Malawi, Botswana and Mozambique among others,” he said then.   
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Zim to reform parastatals

HARARE - Zimbabwe has crafted a new framework for the appointment of board members and chief executives at public enterprises in a move aimed at fighting corruption and improve corporate governance.

Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa this week told Parliament that an agent was set up to maintain a database of persons who are suitable to be appointed to State enterprise boards.

“… In terms of the new rules, there is an agency which should maintain a database of persons who are suitable to be appointed to such boards.  Persons to be appointed to the boards should possess relevant skills aptitudes and experience,” he said.

“I have no doubt in my mind that these safeguards will enable ministers to appoint members of boards who are qualified and skilled to perform the tasks demanded by the institutions,” Mnangagwa said, amid indications that State-owned companies remain in the red after recording cumulative losses and net liabilities are in excess of $1 billion in the period to December 2015.

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The Zanu PF’s strongman said the corporate governance and delivery spoken to by the new rules were in line with international best practices.

“The agency will play an important role in the appointment of members of boards and ensure that corporate governance standards are adhered to at all times,” he said.

This comes as National Assembly Speaker Jacob Mudenda recently raised the issue at a recent budget consultative meeting, pointing out that State enterprise boards needed to be vetted by Parliament.

The speaker said Zimbabwe had to take a cue from neighbouring South Africa, and extensively vet all who sit on parastatal boards.

He said leaving the mandate of board appointments to respective ministries had proved ineffective, given most parastatals — which used to make up 60 percent of the economy — were “performing dismally”.

Zimbabwe has over 63 parastatals and according to Auditor-General Midred Chiri, most are in need of restructuring.
State-owned enterprises have come under fire for “strange” appointments to boards with minister’s children, wives and relatives making up most of the members who sit on boards.

Mudenda’s remarks come after President Robert Mugabe’s son-in-law Simba Chikore was recently appointed as chief operating officer of the country’s struggling national airline, Air Zimbabwe, despite questionable credentials and an unclear professional history.

Most parastatals — which mostly rely on Treasury disbursements for survival — have since forced Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa to tighten conditions under which they access money from Treasury.

Chief Justice vacancy  interviews on Monday

HARARE - The Judicial Services Commission (JSC) will hold public interviews on Monday to fill the chief justice (CJ) vacancy.

Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku is retiring from the Bench at the end of February, stepping down from the most powerful position in the judiciary after joining the Supreme Court in March 2001. 

He has reached the 70-year mandatory retirement age.   

The JSC will be conducting public interviews of four candidates seeking appointment as chief justice of Zimbabwe in succession to Chidyausiku. The JSC has said it is looking for a CJ who exudes “competence, integrity and independence”. 

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The post of successor chief justice is likely to be hard fought. 

Those short-listed are Deputy Chief Justice Luke Malaba; Justice Paddington Shadreck Garwe, a judge of the Supreme Court; Justice Rita Tambudzai Makarau, a judge of the Supreme Court and Justice George Mutandwa Chiweshe, the judge-president of the High Court, said to be a hot favourite of the Munhumutapa establishment.

The proceedings, which will be open to members of the public, are scheduled for the Jacaranda Room at the Rainbow Towers Hotel in Harare at 9am on Monday. 

The interviews are an important part of the appointment process for the position of chief justice, as laid down in section 180 of the Constitution.  

The interviews will be conducted by the members of the JSC.

A new Constitution adopted in 2013 which trims President Robert Mugabe’s powers no longer allows the nonagenarian to appoint judges on his own authority. According to the new charter, the public will propose candidates, who will then be interviewed by JSC.

After the interviews, the JSC will then decide on a list of three nominees and submit the list to the president.  This will involve eliminating one of the four candidates. 

The president will then appoint one of the three nominees as chief justice, unless he considers that none of the three is suitable for the post.  In that highly-unlikely event, section 180(3) of the Constitution allows him to require the JSC to submit one further list of three qualified persons, according to legal experts.  

The chief justice also oversees the Con-Court and Supreme Court’s administration and lobbies on the top court’s behalf on matters involving its docket and jurisdiction.

The CJ job also has a political nature, and has a key role in presidential impeachment motions and elections, which are often disputed here. 
There are lingering concerns that some Zimbabwean judges are generally subject to political control. 

In 2008, Mugabe splurged German cars, Japanese SUVs and plasma screen TVs, purchased at the expense of Zimbabwe’s poor and sick, using the monopoly money emerging from the printing presses of the central bank. 

The incoming CJ will also have to head the Con-Court as well until 2023, according to the new Constitution.

Technically, potential assignees that have been seriously bandied about so far include the Judge President Chiweshe and Makarau, the present chairperson of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec), who was the first female judge president of Zimbabwe.

Legal experts argue that using the promotion option, making the deputy CJ Malaba take over, was probably self-evident because experience on the Supreme Court may be helpful in leading it, but his major disadvantage was that he was headed for retirement soon.

Mugabe is likely to make his selection as a matter of political pragmatism, and legal experts claim he is likely to give serious consideration to former Zec chairman Chiweshe, who rolled out an elaborate electoral recovery strategy after Mugabe lost elections to MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai in the historic 2008 presidential polls.

‘Zanu PF politicians financially illiterate’

HARARE - Maverick businessman Phillip Chiyangwa yesterday branded Zanu PF politicians “fools”, bluntly decrying the former liberation party’s policies which he said have ruined business.

The real estate tycoon said his colleagues in Zanu PF were financially illiterate, chasing away investors and eliminating indigenous business while some were being bought with bottles of whiskey while the economy implodes. 

“Cash talk breaks no friendship,” Chiyangwa bellowed at the Affirmative Action Group’s empowerment conference held in Harare yesterday.

“We need a more proactive government, government official, ministers and people in Zanu PF where I am. The problem iripo havazive mari (they do not know money),” he said to uproarious laughter.

“This problem is very serious. Ukauya ukanzi nemunhu ‘bhodhoro rewhiskey, baba vangu, wakutoenda naye nyika ichiparara (Zanu PF politicians are being swayed by bottles of whiskey while the country burns). You cannot take me kupusa kwakaita sei kwekuti Marange igotorwa zvinhu zvigopera tozoziva zvapera. Kupusa kwakaita sei ikoko? (How foolish our politicians are that our diamonds are looted in Marange and we only find out when nothing is left, that is foolishness of the highest order). 

“We operate in a blind way yet Zimbabwe has produced serious business people that ought to be with us but they are now cut outside the country because the country has no vision for satisfying business people who should be here. 

“And sometimes we are even eliminated. I often say Strive Masiyiwa is one of those people and many others.”

Self-exiled Masiyiwa  is the chairman and founder of Econet, a diversified telecommunications group with operations and investments in Africa, Europe, North America, Latin America and the Asia Pacific. 

His business interests also straddle renewable energy, water treatment, Coca Cola bottling, financial services and hospitality; and also serves on a number of international boards.

Chiyangwa demanded that political leaders should not put barriers in front of those trying to get the economy running and make money.
“Right now, we have cash shortages, how do I feel that someone prints a paper, signs it and calls it money?” Chiyangwa said.

“How does that make me feel? For me, I want a situation where our economy is running well. Right now, I am coming from Cameroon (on football business). Each and every one in that country knows and appreciates the value of cash, yet Zimbabwe is much more illiterate. But kupusa (we are daft when it comes to) pacash big time. Big time!”

The businessman, never far from controversy, urged the government to put in place progressive policies that allow for development of the economy.
“A lot of my stands are sold at a deposit of $150 because I want everyone to have a roof over their heads. But you see politicians complaining how did Chiyangwa get all this, ndakaita buck wanga uripi? (when I was making money where were you?).

“I am young man who has made it on my own. I know the road I have walked. I was avoiding these politicians, then I joined them so that I criticise them while I am among them. Haikona kutiza chokwadi uri kundinzwa (don’t run away from the truth). Cash talk breaks no friendship. You (Zanu PF politicians) must address the issues that affect us.” 

The Native Investments Africa Group founder said every businessman should speak against what they felt was an uneven playing field, saying no one will be arrested for speaking the truth.

Bus operator faces fresh rape charge

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HARARE - Convicted rapist Simbarashe Gibson, who owns First Class Bus Services, is facing a fresh rape trial on December 7 for allegedly indecently assaulting his sister.

The trial is scheduled for the Harare Magistrates’ Courts. His lawyers are moving to have the charges quashed.

When Gibson, 61, appeared before Harare regional magistrate Bianca Makwande yesterday, his lawyer Tawanda Tandi applied for a postponement on the basis that they were arguing for a review of his placement on remand at the High Court.

Prosecutor Ressie Nyamombe then advised the court that she would make a follow-up on the alleged appeal before trial kicks off on December 7.

 When he initially appeared in court, his lawyer challenged placement on remand on the basis that his arrest and court appearance was unlawful.

In November 2011, Gobson was jailed for 12-years by former regional magistrate Simon Rogers over charges of raping an 11-year-old girl at gunpoint. He has been out of prison on $5 000 bail pending appeal.

In the latest rape charge, the victim claimed Gibson is her cousin and confirmed that she had lodged a report at Makomva Police Station where her statement was recorded.

The rape victim said: “The accused person phoned me to come to the garage at his offices and when I arrived there around 8pm, he asked me to go to his offices and as I sat on the sofa, he produced a silver pistol and ordered me to undress.

“I was shocked and he asked me to go to a bedroom within his office and forced me to commit oral indecencies on his privates, threatening to shoot me at the count of three if I resisted.

“When I vomited, he told me that it was a sign that I was enjoying the act, saying I should not worry since it was my first time. He produced (ejaculated) on my face before ordering me to swallow everything, emphasising that I should lick every drop.”

The court heard that after the rape, Gibson blind-folded his cousin and took her to number 4 Hillside Road in Harare and detained her there from October 9 to 28. The State has notified the court that he will face a further charge of kidnapping for that conduct.

“I was threatened that if I reported the abuse he would frame theft charges against me since I sell tickets at his company. He also told me that he was able to kill me and make me disappear,” added the woman.

Outrage over Nssa running new public health scheme

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HARARE - President Robert Mugabe’s administration must not let the scandal-plagued State-run pension fund, National Social Security Authority (Nssa), run a compulsory scheme requiring all Zimbabweans to access health insurance. The planned move has drawn swift and strong condemnation.

Cabinet has approved the setting up of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) that will give the majority of Zimbabweans, including those in the informal sector and farmers, access to universal healthcare by making government responsible for providing at least an “essential benefits package” for everyone.

Resources for the fund will be collected through a Parliament special tax act, which will decree that all formal employers and their employees in Zimbabwe contribute a percentage of their income.

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The NHIS Bill white paper, approved by Cabinet after it was tabled by Public Service, Labour and Social Services minister Prisca Mupfumira with the backing of her Health and Child Care counterpart David Parirenyatwa, puts the health scheme under the administration of the government pension fund Nssa.

This comes as Nssa — which has 70 percent of its investments in the equities market, has interests in 53 of the 60 companies listed on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange, holding at least 10 percent shareholding in 12 counters — has recently been damned in a 2015 audit report by Deloitte Advisory Services. The audit report revealed that the pension fund’s executives awarded themselves salaries of up to $30 000 per month, housing loans of up to $2 million, and also incurred $10,3 million in tax interest and penalties on payroll-related items.

Nssa in August was forced to hire Elizabeth Chitiga as the new general manager, replacing long-serving CEO James Matiza, who was axed last year in October over the scandal.

There are also concerns over Nssa’s questionable investment policies, which has seen it reporting a 68 percent decline in full-year profit for 2015 after a $93 million asset write-down relating to its Celestial office park in Harare and a doomed Beitbridge hotel project.

There have been concerns that the State-run pension fund overpaid for the Borrowdale office park, while construction costs for the Beitbridge hotel shot up from $17 million when the tender was first flighted, to $49 million upon completion in 2014.

The Mugabe administration’s directive to let Nssa administer the scheme responsible for the health coverage of local citizens has effectively touched off a heated national debate that has reverberated through civil society and government.

Zimbabwe’s largest trade union federation and the Community Working Group on Health have both roundly condemned the government’s planned move, saying Nssa should not be allowed to administer the health fund. 

“It is so disturbing to hear that the government has agreed to the introduction of the National Health Insurance Scheme and that Nssa should administer it,” Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) secretary-general Japhet Moyo said in World Aids Day message on Thursday.

Moyo said workers wanted the National Aids Council (Nac), not Nssa, to administer the NHIS.

“We are not in support of that, instead Nac would be the best as they have an administrative track record in the management of such a scheme, just like the way they have been able to with the Aids Levy which has become a regional if not a global model with a number of countries learning from them.”

The Aids levy was introduced in 1999 and became effective in January 2000 and is bankrolled through a compulsory 3 percent tax levied on workers and employers. 

Conceived in response to the HIV epidemic and meagre government funding, the trust fund has exhibited a unique and substantive result in provision of life-prolonging anti-retroviral drugs (ARVs).

Despite a deflation caused by depressed consumer spending and decreasing external funding, Zimbabwe continues to make encouraging progress in providing access to ARVs for people living with HIV, including pregnant mothers. By the end of 2015, more than  232 000 people — about 40 per cent of those eligible —were receiving HIV treatment, up from only 24 500, or 7 percent, in 2005 and has also supported various community-driven HIV prevention, according to acting Health and Child Care minister Douglas Mombeshora.

Itai Rusike, executive director of the Community Working Group on Health — highlighting the impact of a growing debate that has centred on Nssa being allowed to administer the health fund — said the move was ill-advised given the pension fund’s stained background of giving paltry benefits to pensioners and investing in failed banks. 

Nssa has come under withering criticism for blowing $2,5 million on the now defunct CFX Bank, losing $45 million in the now shuttered Interfin Bank, and splurging $12 million on overpriced starafricacorporation shares and another $1,5 million on Africom Continental.

Rusike also called for Nac, not Nssa, to handle the health scheme, which he described as noble.

“We do not know how far the ministry has consulted with regards to its implementation but we strongly feel Nac should take a lead in its implementation instead of the proposed Nssa,” Rusike said at a Domestic Health Financing forum.

According to official estimates, only 10 percent of Zimbabwe’s residents are covered by private health insurance schemes today.

Although it is unclear how much the required insurance policy will cost, it is estimated patient claims will more than quadruple annually.
The mandatory health insurance move could also spur growth in hospital bed capacity. 

Govt to reintroduce radio lessons

HARARE - Government is set to reintroduce radio lessons to enable students to get supplementary learning in the comfort of their homes.

Education minister Lazurus Dokora said the government is now geared to reintroducing the “school of the air”.

Radio lessons used to cater for the primary and early secondary education of children mostly in remote areas. 

Classes were traditionally conducted by radio, although this is now being replaced by Internet technology. 

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Dokora was responding to a question on Thursday in the Senate by Nyamayabo Mashavakure, a senator representing people living with disabilities, on revival of radio lessons. 

“The short answer is yes. Already, groundwork has been prepared to revive those radio lessons. 

“You know with ICT; we are also looking even to the TV Channel which we are going to get when we go fully digital. 

“One of the channels will be allocated to education and will occupy the morning shift and then our counterparts in Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development will occupy the other shift.  

“So we will use the available channels to reach all learners in the country. That is the only way we can justify our pursuit of equity.

“I think the honourable senator will also be happy to know that even our examining system is sensitive also to the kind of media that the learners use at examination time.”

Dokora said in the last Grade 7 examinations, there was a first batch of candidates who used braille.

“Of course, there are variables that you then introduce in that space, like the duration. They cannot be allocated the same time as the others but we use various channels to reach out to all learners.  The Zimbabwean education system is becoming more inclusive and more sensitive and therefore, more radical in approach.”

According Dokora, the students will attend and write the same examinations.

“If it is secondary, they will also write the same curriculum at O-Level and beyond. That is how we manage these small groups of learners.  

“They are structured into the alternative system which is equally competent and yields the same outcomes for the learners. It is highly individualised and therefore is not dependent on getting teachers deployed in their numbers to take care of 30 kids who are from Grades 0 to Grade 7.  It will not be possible to deploy full time teachers.”

Dokora added that the correspondence education or Open Distance Learning (ODL) is designed to reach out to the isolated learner and was designed originally in colonial times.

ZMDC warned against eviction of villagers

MUTARE - Nine livid human rights groups have warned Mutare’s district administrator against allowing Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZMDC)’s arbitrary relocation of 26 Chiadzwa families to pave way for mining operations.

The rights groups threatened to sue the DA Edgars Seenza in his personal capacity for violating the families’ constitutional rights.

Marange Development Trust; Platform for Youth Development; Arda Transau Relocation Development Trust; Centre for Research and Development; Natural Resource Dialogue of Zimbabwe; Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights; Zimbabwe Human Rights Association; Transparency International-Zimbabwe and Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association said the Tinoengana villagers were protected from arbitrary eviction by Section 74 of the constitution. 

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The consortium of civic organisations said they were convinced government would not forcibly remove the villagers without consulting them and properly conducting a valuation of their properties as demanded by the constitution.

The families are due for relocation today (December 3).

“It is our firm belief that the ministry of Rural Development, Promotion and Preservation of National Culture and Heritage which is the custodian of communities could not have sanctioned arbitrary and forceful evictions of Chiadzwa villagers. As civil society organisations, we are therefore appalled by the un-Constitutional actions and direct contraventions of the supreme law of the land. 

“We are hereby writing to your office to warn you to stop these illegal, unlawful and unprocedural evictions, failing which will result in us pursuing direct legal action against you in your personal capacity,” reads the letter.

They said Section 74 of the Constitution protects citizens against arbitrary evictions. The Section states that, ‘no person may be evicted from their home, have their home demolished, without an order of court made after considering all relevant circumstances’. 

“It is our firm belief that the government through its ministries, including the parent ministry which your office falls under the ministry of Rural Development, Promotion and Preservation of National Culture and Heritage, upholds the Constitutional values and the spirit of Constitutional founding values of transparency, justice, accountability and responsiveness,” the organisations said. 

They also held a press conference in which they demanded the placing on hold of the 130 people in the 26 affected households until “the process is agreed in consultation with the communities”.

They also want the “immediate cessation of threats and intimidation of villagers by the DA and state security operatives meant to coerce villagers in Tinoengana to agree to forced relocations.”

The civic organisations also want all mining operations in Tinoengana and surrounding villages by ZCDC halted until an environmental impact assessment is conducted in consultation with the communities.

They also want an independent and transparent evaluation of properties and assets of communities; and another independent assessment of destination amenities, consistent with livelihood and welfare upliftment for the displaced if relocation is agreed, as well as a demand for compliance with all constitutional provisions.

The organisations said they were wary of a repeat of previous evictions and relocation of villagers which they said were accompanied by opaque compensation arrangements, and serious disruptions of affected villagers’ livelihoods and way of life.

“Previous evictions of Chiadzwa communities to Arda Transau, in which the villagers were duped to accepting relocation with a nominal $1 000 disturbance allowances, inadequate food handouts, reduced land sizes, inadequate grazing and agricultural land, destruction of livelihoods, inadequate housing, inadequate health facilities, schools and clean, safe and potable water,” they said in the statement. 

They however expressed worry that while the “previous arrangement was conducted in cahoots with foreign-owned companies, the current evictions are being driven by the government of Zimbabwe in violation of the Constitution.”

Industrial diamond extraction in Chiadzwa has led to the displacement of 1 300 families, affecting over 7,000 people in Marange since 2009, they said.

Between 2014 and 2015, there was acknowledgement of fiscal leakages, illicit financial flows, massive corruption, and lack of fiscal transparency resulting in the establishment of ZCDC in 2016.

House maid wins car

MUTARE - A woman employed in domestic service the leafy Morningside suburb here was overwhelmed after emerging the winner of brand-new VW Polo in the Bakers Inn’s “Buy and Win” promotion.

Emelda Kazembe won the top price following a draw which the listed confectionary giant Innscor Africa’s subsidiary Baker’s Inn held Thursday.

Employed by Anita Ndlovu for five months now, Kazembe is a widowed mother of two. She said she was shocked by her win which she thought was only the domain of the wealthy.

“I didn’t expect it because I thought it was for the affluent,” an excited Kazembe told the Daily News. 

Baker’s Inn financial director Mandla Nkosi said the promotion was targeting low income earners across the country as a corporate social responsibility move.

“We are targeting people with almost nothing, the low-income earners. We are there to change people’s lives. This is our responsibility and we are challenging all businesses to realise that we need to plough back into the community,” Mazango said.

To enter the promotion, one had to buy two loaves of bread or two Baker’s Inn standard pies and cut out the word ‘promotion’ and attach it to an entry coupon which would then be dropped into the nearest Baker’s Inn redemption box in store.

Instant prizes were also won during road shows. 

Baker’s Inn is angling to claim half of the country’s million-loaves-a-day market share by the close of 2017, its chief executive officer Ngoni Mazango said.

“We currently have a 42 percent market share and we aim to grow that to 50 percent by end of next year,” Mazango said.

He said his organisation was employing aggressive innovative strategies in consolidating their market control.
The company is currently on a nationwide ‘Buy and Win’ promotion, where it is giving away 11 cars, 22 refrigerators, 22 television sets, 22 solar geysers and school fee vouchers.

Meanwhile, the Bakers Inn boss said his organisation unconditionally accepted bond notes at par with the US dollar.

“We embrace bond notes and we want people to transact and do business,” Mazango said.
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‘Restore students’ grants’

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BULAWAYO - Students at the National University of Science and Technology (Nust) struggling to pay their tuition fees have implored government to restore students’ grants.

This comes as hundreds of students were ordered by the university not to sit for their end of year examinations if they had not settled their tuition fees. They however had the order lifted following the intervention of the Higher Education ministry following an article in the Daily News, titled Save us: poor students plead.

The students have showered praises on Higher Education minister Jonathan Moyo for the timely intervention, but  also took aim at government’s failure to attend to the welfare of students across the country.

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Former Nust student leader, who is now a member of Zimbabwe Coalition for Unemployed Graduates (ZCUG) Rodwell Nyika, challenged government to come up with clear policies that would permanently address the plight of students.

“The nicodemous disappearance of students’ grants and subsequently the cadetship programme remains eloquent epiphanies to how anti-education the government of the day has long become.

“Wouldn’t you think that had it been that these students were getting proverbial students grants, non-payment of fees wouldn’t be a challenge to any of these proletariat students.

“Restoration of both students grants and cadetship programme can only be a giant step towards redressing Section 75 of our new Constitution, reference being made to ‘state funded education’,’’ Nyika said.

He slammed the President Robert Mugabe’s government for presiding over decades of failure in the education system. 

Nyika added: “It is with sincere sincerity that I embolden the government of Zimbabwe to take a serious inventory of the submissions made herein as a prerequisite ingredient to buttress the right to education as enshrined in our supreme law of the land.”

Another fine broadcaster is gone

HARARE - I first met Masimba Musarira, around 1976, a few weeks before he became a radio announcer and content producer at the then African Service of the Rhodesia Broadcasting Corporation (RBC), now Radio Zimbabwe at Mbare Studios (then Harare Studios).

I had joined the corporation earlier in February 1974. Masimba’s elder brother, the late Edgar Musarira, my former English teacher at Highfield Secondary School in Harare had hinted me about the possibility of his youngest brother joining us “soon” after attending a successful audition and interview at RBC. 

This background was to be the basis of my very close friendship with Masimba for decades to follow.

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Since I was already an experienced broadcaster and newscaster, I helped him go through his induction and on-the-job training with ease under the guidance of our leadership team of Bruce Baker, Patrick Forbes and Dominic Mandizha.

In no time, the young Masimba was already presenting popular live programmes like Kwaziso/Ukubingelelana (Listeners’ Requests) and Dzandakusarudzirai (My Choice) as well as many interviews and talk shows covering topics on youth activities, social life and culture. 

Musically, there would be something amiss if Masimba’s compilations excluded Eric Clapton, Bad Company, The Who and Status Quo which is what made him popular with the youth of his time. 

He also read Shona news which would be translated from English after being sent via teleprinter from the main newsroom at Pockets Hill, Highlands. We would ensure that I was paired with him on the Ndebele segment when he was on duty as we enjoyed working together.

Besides me, some of his youthful colleagues of the time included the late Benjamin Tarumbwa, Andrew “Gringo” Msengezi, the late Edmore “Tutsirai” Chimutsa, Maguire Godzongere, the late Lisbern Nasasara, Ray Chirisa  and Sam Sibanda among many others.

Masimba also undertook some rural recording tours led by veterans like Godwin Mbofana, Cyrus “Mombeyarara” Ntini and Benedict Mazonde to gather content for programmes such as Nhau Dzevarimi, Hurukuro Nevematenganyika, Dzavanagwenyambira and Zvevechidiki among many other genres.

Masimba and I over the years encouraged each other to continue with our education and professional training despite being popular personalities of our time. 

With no journalism or mass media colleges at the time, we enrolled for a diploma in Journalism offered by the International Correspondence Schools (ICS) through distance learning. I had already started writing articles for Radio Post and Look and Listen magazines profiling different radio and television personalities, including Masimba.

After independence in 1980, we were to successfully integrate with colleagues who had been broadcasting  liberation struggle programmes from Voice of Zimbabwe in Mozambique and Zambia, like Victor Mhizha-Murira, the late Choga Crispen Gavhure, Dins Patrick Mutume , Nyasha Maposa (from Zanu), Oliver Juru and Joseph Masuku (from Zapu).

Masimba and I were transferred to the newly formed department of News and Current Affairs, Highlands then headed by Grey Tichatonga (Ambassador Mark Marongwe). 

Masimba took over the production  of Newsreel and The World This Week on radio and television. I joined the Early News television desk as a Shona, Ndebele and English language reader before joining the late Stanley Nyahwa and Mavis Moyo in 1982 to establish the educational and national languages channel, Radio Four, now National FM.

Masimba was to move completely into television news and production after attending two three-month courses at Senders Freis Berlin in West Germany in the early 1980s. 

He also developed a keen interest in investigative journalism, resulting in the launch of his very popular Assignment programme in which he uncovered a lot of corrupt activities among persons in authority in public and private sectors. He also excelled as a war correspondent when he produced a number of chilling programmes about the Renamo war in Mozambique where Zimbabwean soldiers were guarding the oil pipeline along the Beira corridor. 

Among Masimba’s award winning documentaries were series exposing underdevelopment among the Doma people in the Zambezi Valley, resulting in government taking a keen interest in their welfare.

Masimba also got a Unesco fellowship to do a Master of Arts in Journalism degree at Cardiff University in Wales during which time we were to interact in the UK when I was studying at BBC Radio Training in London. 

He was an avid reader, especially in fields of Philosophy, Pan Africanism and Sociology and our discussions motivated me a lot when, in the early 1990s, I was pursuing my undergraduate degree in Political Science and Public Administration at the University of Zimbabwe while also heading ZBC Radio One.

He had been keen to study law but could not finish his modules with Unisa due to work pressure, although he persuaded his son Tendayi to do so leading to him establishing a law firm.

As Head of Television Production at ZBC Masimba mentored many successful producers and crews.

He was later to be elevated as controller of television services, a position he held when he left ZBC.

He went into private production of documentaries and would invite me to voice some of them and in some cases assign me to do some Ndebele versions of his programmes.

ZBC would on different occasions invite him to anchor some current affairs programmes such as Face the Nation among others. ZiFM Stereo at one point allocated him a show in which we was able to share his thoughts about Pan Africanism with his listeners.

We lost touch a bit when I was transferred to head ZBC Montrose Studios in Bulawayo between 1998 and 2002 but when I returned to the capital I reconnected with Masimba very easily and would discuss the opening of the airwaves, training of journalists and writing books about our profession and experience, again motivating me to attain a Master of Philosophy degree in Journalism with Stellenbosch University in South Africa.

Away from broadcasting and journalism business, I was Masimba’s best man when he wedded his beloved wife Elizabeth “Hupenyu” Pfumojena at St Pauls Anglican Church in Highfield in 1979. In addition to Tendai, the couple was blessed with two beautiful daughters, Nyasha and Shamiso.

Masimba loved goat meat very much and immediately started breeding goats when he was allocated a farm in the Bindura-Shamva area. He usually enjoyed telling me stories about how he grew up in Nyautare, Nyanga where he admired nature and outdoor life, jokingly frowning upon me as a “born location” having learnt of my Highfield upbringing.

When he got seriously ill with cancer, his son Tendai would phone me and say, “Mr Masuku huyai muzoona shamwari yenyu yamakachatisa, iri kurwara zvakaipa” (Mr Masuku, you should come and see your friend whom you assisted as best man at his wedding, for he is seriously ill).

I would visit Masimba and sit with him on very green lawn in his beautiful garden in as he would narrate how illness started and how he was coping. 
In my small way, I would try to reassure him but unfortunately he had to succumb to the disease after long suffering. At the time of his passing on, he was working 

for Zimbabwe Heritage Trust where he produced the award-winning documentary Zanla Comes To Town among many other accounts of Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle.

Within an hour of his passing on, his son Tendai called me on  Sunday morning and said: “Mr Masuku, your friend is gone”

Indeed gone is my friend “Subri”, “Babylon man” and “My Lord” as Masimba Musarira and I would address each other with borrowed names which we enjoyed from history, literature and journalism during our forty years of companionship.

Fare thee well my friend, Zenda. May you find peace in Nyautare, the place of your upbringing and rest which you remained fond of despite traversing the world during your lifetime.

Tsvangirai hits out at ‘traitors’

HARARE - Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai appeared to slam the door shut yesterday on the prospects of him working with his former comrades who deserted him and the MDC over the years, saying he did not see the sense of crafting a coalition with people who had previously made it clear that they did not want to work with him.

Addressing a media conference in Harare, the fit-again former prime minister in the government of national unity also said he had not seen the need for him to attend a meeting of opposition parties that took place in South Africa last week, which not only involved people who had left his party, but was also unclear in terms of its objectives.

Political observers who spoke to the Daily News last night said among the prominent figures that Tsvangirai may have had in his sights was former MDC secretary-general and now People’s Democratic Party leader Tendai Biti, who left the main opposition two years ago amid bitter recriminations, but has since himself suffered major desertions from his new political outfit.

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The meeting of small local opposition leaders in Pretoria, which Tsvangirai and the interim leader of the Zimbabwe People First (ZPF), Joice Mujuru, snubbed last week was organised by the relatively unknown South Africa-based think-tank, In Transformative Initiative (ITI), which apparently sought to facilitate talks to pave way for the selection of a single candidate to face President Robert Mugabe in the watershed 2018 elections.

“You don’t leave a party and go to the side and say let’s have a coalition. Why did you leave in the first place?” Tsvangirai asked rhetorically.

“I hope that everyone will understand that working together is a process of building trust among participants  . . . I did not go (to the SA meeting) because there was no reason for me to attend. How do you introduce a subject which you have not planned with me?

“That does not mean that I am underplaying the need for a coalition, but I don’t even know who was co-ordinating the talks and what mandate he has? Besides, have we failed as Zimbabweans to sit down and talk amongst ourselves? Do we need outsiders to organise us? That is why I did not see it necessary to go to that meeting,” Tsvangirai added.

Earlier, the absence of both Tsvangirai and Mujuru at the Pretoria meeting had appeared not to go down well with Biti, who went on to cast doubts on the formation of the mooted grand coalition in the country.

“I think it’s going to be very difficult in Zimbabwe to have coalitions, there are a lot of egocentric and selfish actors in our discourse, but I think we have to do better,” Biti said on social media.

“We have to go beyond these individuals and establish a matrix of working together because that’s what our people want. It’s not about me or what the next leader of a political party wants. So we have to put our people first, so we can reconstruct this country after the mess and collapse caused by Robert Mugabe,” he added.

Analysts have consistently said that a united opposition fighting with one purpose would bring to an end Mugabe’s long rule, especially at this time when the country’s economy is dying and the increasingly frail nonagenarian is battling to keep his warring Zanu PF united.

Since Mujuru joined hands with Tsvangirai and marched with him in the streets of Gweru in August this year — in a rare public display of unity among the opposition — there have been growing calls by fed-up citizens for the formation of a grand opposition alliance.

Describing that development then as ‘heart warming’ Tsvangirai, showered praises on Mujuru at the time for joining the MDC in its protest and public rally.

“Did anyone ever dream of Mujuru becoming a part of the opposition? I want to congratulate her, together with the ZPF leadership, for seeing it necessary for us to have this joint programme. It’s not by accident that the MDC and ZPF are here together.

“I know that there will be a lot of talk, especially from Mugabe because he is afraid of the people, and by the end of the day he will even be afraid of leading Zimbabwe. We in the MDC respect Mujuru for the contribution she has made to this country. Mujuru is not the enemy,” he said.

And speaking to the Daily News in October after defeating Zanu PF in the Norton by-election, independent legislator Temba Mliswa said among the lessons that long-suffering Zimbabweans and the country’s brutalised opposition could learn from his stunning victory then, was that they could once again defeat Mugabe and Zanu PF, just as Tsvangirai and the MDC had done in 2008.

Despite his dim view of his former comrades, Tsvangirai was quick to add yesterday that plans for a grand coalition were alive, although this would be a process rather than an event.

Turning to the newly-introduced bond notes, the MDC president who also took yesterday press event to welcoming back officials who had left his party to join PDP, described the move to introduce the surrogate currency as “ill-advised”.

“It is the last nail into the coffin of a struggling economy. I said at one point that when we introduced the US dollar we should have prepared to use the opportunity to create our own currency three, four years down the line.

“But given the current crisis of cash shortages, I advocated for the adoption of the rand not because of anything but because 95 percent of our economic activities are done through the rand. We can all be proud of having our own currency but it will be worth nothing in the end.

“I think the time has now come to bring to the attention of the Zanu PF government that all these policies are short-lived and that it is very suicidal using these bond notes that I call bond papers,” Tsvangirai said.

On Wednesday, authorities crushed a planned protest march against the bond notes in Harare after deploying thousands of heavily-armed riot police in and around Harare, triggering shameful chaos in the capital’s central business district (CBD) and causing traffic mayhem during the early morning rush hour.

The ensuing ugly scenes saw ordinary Zimbabweans who were queuing for their money at banks, and who had absolutely nothing to do with the planned demonstration, being caught up in the pandemonium as the uncompromising police fired teargas indiscriminately and randomly charged at any and all gatherings.

Tsvangirai said it was wrong for the government to use thuggish methods on people who were mounting peaceful demonstrations, warning Zimbabweans further that what happened on Wednesday was likely to be repeated going forward.

“But the people are not stupid, and they will always express themselves. In fact, the more you put pressure on the spring, the more it rebounds. The government has to choose between repression and engagement because repression will not stop people from expressing themselves.

“The moment people start to express themselves on how you are running the country, you can’t stop them. We in the MDC believe that national mobilisation is important in expressing ourselves over the way the economy is being mismanaged and therefore we will continue to do that in spite of the brute force that government is resorting to,” he said.

The MDC leader also quashed suggestions by his detractors that he was no longer in charge of the MDC because of his illness of the past few months.

‘Cabinet fiddles while kingdom burns’

HARARE - Pro-democracy activists yesterday expressed shock and anger over Monday’s Cabinet meeting which centred on modalities of stopping witch-hunters while the country faced an unprecedented economic meltdown.

Consisting of 26 ministers, Cabinet after a full sitting, pronounced that rampant activity of witch-hunters — widely known as tsikamutandas — were criminal. 

In a statement yesterday, Information minister Chris Mushowe announced that Cabinet resolved to bring to book perpetrators who were wreaking havoc in villagers with the aid of traditional leaders, adding Rural Development minister Abednico Ncube had been directed to work closely with law enforcement agents and chiefs to ensure that the practice is brought to an end.

National Vendors Union of Zimbabwe chairperson Sten Zvorwadza described the meeting as shocking considering the myriad problems bedevilling the country. 

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This comes as the country is facing cash, fuel and power shortages, deflation blamed on weak consumer demand, rampant unemployment and an influx of cheaper goods from South Africa, the continent’s biggest economy.

“To sit down and commit resources to converge trivial issues based on spiritual matters is tantamount to superstition,” Zvorwadza said.

“Such tendencies only depict a desperate government which relies on short cuts to deal with problems it created. The biggest witchcraft we should be concerned about is citizens sleeping in queues, lack of employment and the effects of bond notes.”

Patson Dzamara, brother to missing activist Itai, said he was gobsmacked about Cabinet’s agenda. 

“They obviously have no solution to the multi-facetted crisis and have to resort to these desperate sideshows to distract the hungry and angry revolting masses,” Dzamara fumed. 

“I reiterate that I and other democratic forces will continue to push them to reform or to ship out.  It’s the endgame.”

Leader of the Devine Destiny Network Bishop Ancelimo Magaya however, commended government on acknowledging the existence of tsikamutandas who are milking desperate villagers.

“Witchcraft is a reality but it’s very difficult to dictate who is a witch so much so that witch-hunting is as best as practising witchcraft itself. Sadly, most of those who are innocent are the ones punished,” he said. 

“So we celebrate that government has come out clear on witch hunting but in most cases tsikamutandas get into the communities with the backing of chiefs and traditional leaders who are paid to protect them, it’s almost like a syndicate.”

Trump names defence secretary

WASHINGTON - US President-elect Donald Trump has named Gen James Mattis, a former marine who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, as his defence secretary.

"He's our best," Mr Trump said, as he announced his pick in a speech in Ohio.

Gen Mattis, who is known as "Mad Dog", was an outspoken critic of the Obama administration's Middle East policy, particularly on Iran.

He has referred to Iran as "the single most enduring threat to stability and peace in the Middle East".

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Diamond Platnumz rocks Harare tonight

HARARE - Tanzanian RnB star Diamond Platnumz is in town for a once-off concert pencilled for Harare International Conference (HICC) tonight, courtesy of 2 Kings Entertainment.

Diamond Platnumz real name Nasibu Abdul Jumma arrived on Wednesday night with a full band and held a press briefing yesterday.

The Diamond Platnumz show has stirred interest among the fans as evidenced by the number of tickets sold so far.

Platnumz has collaborated with Jah Prayzah on hit song Watora Mari.

Tonight, he will share the stage with local artistes that include Jah Prayzah, Stunner, Judgement Yard, Killer T, Ex Q and Trevor Dongo.

The lady featured on the video Watora Mari which has attracted over two million hits on social media platform YouTube is also coming to support the “boys” — Jah Prayzah and Diamond Platnumz.

Dee Nosh said the event is meant to thank their fans, mainly ladies, for standing with them since they ventured into showbiz.

“As 2 Kings Entertainment, we have lined up this concert to thank our female fans who have stood with us as an organisation. We have done our research and found out that Diamond Platnumz is mainly followed by ladies hence the decision to bring him here,” Dee Nosh said.

Diamond Platnumz who is popularly known as ladies’ man, apart from promising a good performance revealed his admiration for local ladies during the press conference held at a local hotel in the capital.

“Zimbabwe is a very beautiful country contrary to what we were told, one thing I can say is that the country has ladies that has beauty that I have never seen before,” said Diamond Platnumz.

Diamond Platnumz ’s video was released in 2014 and while Jerusarema video was only released late last year but the striking similarities between the two works of art has shocked the entire showbiz industry.

Big day for Suluman

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HARARE - Tomorrow will be a big and memorable day for dendera maestro Suluman Chimbetu who will wed his wife of seven years, Linda Samuriwo as well as unveiling musical album Jamboree.

The event is scheduled for Zimbali Gardens in Greendale, Harare.

Chimbetu publicist Joe Nyamungoma said Jah Prayzah will be the best man while his wife Rufaro the best lady.

“Apart from being the best man, Jah Prayzah will go on to perform at the wedding’s after-party gig slated at Belgravia Sports Club.

“Some of the people in the bridal team include Tryson Chimbetu, Franco Slomo, Douglas Chimbetu and Tanaka Sithole,” Nyamungoma said.

Chimbetu’s eight-track album was recorded at Chimbetu’s new studio called Cockpit.

Contrary to general opinion that Sulu and Jah Prayzah do not see eye to eye, Nyamungoma said the event will demonstrate that they are real brothers.

“We did not appoint jah Prayzah to prove a point but we have chosen him because of this brotherly issue.

“However, the event will also cement their relationship and silence critics.”

Chimbetu, who will tie the knot with Samuriwo, is blessed with three children.

In a previous interview with Chimbetu, he was happy that he has managed to carve his own brand and identity.

“Though I am the son of Simon Chimbetu, the legend, I am glad that I have managed to distinguish my works from his and fans know me as Sulu,” he said.

Sulu’s has a number of musical album such as Ndomusiya Nani (2007), Reverse Deal (2009), Non Stop (2010), Syllabus (2012) and Gunship (2014) and he is happy that his music commanded a huge following locally and in the region.

“It is well received in countries such as Malawi, Botswana and Mozambique among others,” he said then.

Zhakata, Chipfumo perform in Chivi

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HARARE - Zora artiste Leonard Zhakata and his backing group, Zimbabwe All Stars will perform in Masvingo and Zvishavane this week in a move meant to popularise his latest album Mutunga Dzese.

The Mugove hit-maker is billed to perform at Ritz Night Club in Masvingo tonight before dating Warehouse in Zvishavane on Saturday.

On Sunday, he will be joined by Progress Chipfumo at Mudamburi Gardens at Chivi Growth Point.

Zhakata’s latest album is currently topping Radio Zimbabwe Coca Cola Top Hits with three tracks occupying the top three positions.

Meanwhile, Zhakata recently responded to critics who view his latest studio album Mutunga Dzese as far below his standard.

The Zora star, through his manager Ben Zhakata, said they accept and consider all forms of criticism for them to come up with a better project in future.

“What is important to us is that those who have liked the latest product have demonstrated their satisfaction by voting for songs from the album such as Madam Boss and Zvine Mwaka.

“Zhakata is the man of the moment on local radio charts, including Radio Zimbabwe Coca Cola Top Hits programme as we speak,” said Ben.

Just before launching the album, Zhakata told this publication that he has tried his best on the album to please most of the fans.

“I have catered for all tastes in the forthcoming album. Fans have been asking us to revert to the old fast beat that took Zora music to dizzy heights in the 1990s, and we have responded by bringing back the old bit, the current beat and creating new material altogether.

“I can tell you, the album will be my best and it is going to impress our old, current and potential followers,” Zhakata said then.

Tin Tin launches campaign

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HARARE - Model, actress and radio personality Tinopona “Tin Tin” Katsande has launched the #RealMenNailItZw campaign as part of 16 days of activism in which she encourages men to apply orange nail polish.

As part of the drive she will perform her one-woman play, Hot Water Bottle at Theatre in the Park on December 7 and 8.

Hot Water Bottle tells the story of a young lady who did not tolerate her husband’s unfaithfulness. It is about a woman who decides that she is better off with a hot water bottle as her companion.

Tin Tin wrote the play in 2007. Through her organisation Speak Out-Handinyarare which was founded in 2013, she is working with Padare-Enkundleni Men’s Forum on Gender.

The organisation raises awareness and also raises funds for the construction of safe houses in Zimbabwe which serve as an active resource centre for victims of domestic violence.

“This campaign will run as an online drive through social media platforms. The aim is to get 100 000 men and boys across all social, political, religious and cultural divides to come together during the 16 Days and stand in solidarity against domestic violence and GBV.

“This will be done by painting their fingers or a finger orange and posting online a picture of themselves with their orange finger nails and the statement under their nail and face would be: ‘I would rather paint my hand orange and raise it against domestic violence rather than raise this very hand to harm a woman,’” Katsande said.

This year marks the 25th year of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence Campaign, initiated in 1991.

The theme of the 16 Days campaign for 2016 is “From Peace in the Home to Peace in the World: Make Education Safe for All”.

Katsande founded her organisation after she was abused by her then boyfriend. She posted pictures on social media; exposing what had happened to her in a bid to help other victims speak out.

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Harare-Beitbridge highway work to start

HARARE - Chinese construction firm, Geiger International (Geiger), is set to commence works on the Beitbridge-Harare-Chirundu highway in three months’ time, Transport minister Jorum Gumbo has said.

Gumbo, who signed the $984,1 million agreements with Geiger in Harare on Wednesday, said construction of the road was to be undertaken over a three-year period.

“Geiger invested almost a billion dollars on this project under the Built-operate and transfer arrangement. As government we are convinced that the cost of the project is fair based on the feasibility study that was done by Stuart Scott International through an international tender funded by the Development Bank of South Africa (DBSA) in 2013, which estimated the cost as between $900 million and $1,2 billion,” he added.

The Zanu PF legislator noted that scope of work covered by the cost includes full dualisation of the road, including widening and rehabilitation of the existing road as well as the cost of construction of 37 new two lane bridges and eight toll gates.

Gumbo said government was presently working on finalising road mapping and road designs and other preliminary works like mobilisation of materials as construction could not be undertaken immediately due to the rains.

“… and also for the developer to identify and engage local sub-contractors and suppliers of materials towards the project… at least 40 percent of the value of the project will be sub-contracted to Zimbabwean companies,” said Gumbo.

Regarding the Harare-Chirundu road, also part of the corridor, Gumbo said the engineering procurement and construction contract for the highway had been approved by government.

“We expect a Chinese delegation from CHEC to fly into the country before the end of year for the signing ceremony of that portion of the road.

“Thereafter, full negotiations will be opened with the financing partner in China and the loan agreement should be concluded by mid-year 2017,” he said.

Going forward, Gumbo said his ministry was focusing on the Beitbridge-Bulawayo-Victoria Falls corridor and the Harare-Nyamapanda road.

“This will effectively open the North-South corridor and also the trade route with Mozambique and Malawi,” he said

As a gateway for Zimbabwe’s $3 billion trade with South Africa and many other northern countries dependent on it, the key Beitbridge economic artery has been earmarked for rehabilitation since 2002, when the first contractor Zimhighways Consortium (Zimhighways) was handed the job to commence works.

Even though the local grouping was awarded the tender to dualise the road about eight years ago, the construction lobby was accused of failing to raise enough funds or capital to embark on the project, hence its contract was cancelled.

After agreeing to withdraw its two-year case in the High Court last year, Zimhighways was assured of a role by government once an appropriate funding model for the project was secured.

Only free market economy can revive agric

HARARE - Unconfirmed reports in the past few weeks that Zanu PF bigwigs and some command agriculture beneficiaries are abusing inputs availed to them endorses our suspicions that the Soviet-style initiative to shore up maize production does not work.

Under the special programme, the government identified farms that will be required to produce maize for the next three years as the country moves to reduce grain imports and improve food security.

While we agree that the idea is a noble one, history has shown us command agriculture, like command economy, has not worked anywhere in the world. For instance, command agriculture was at the centre of collective farms that were led by the Russians during the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 and it failed spectacularly.  Authoritarian regimes in China, Hungary, North Korea and Czechoslovakia used the same concept and in all these cases, it backfired.

In addition to stifling creativity and diversification among farmers, command agriculture reinforces a dependency syndrome. In most cases, it is not easy for farmers to get out of contract arrangements. A good example is how tobacco farmers are locked in contract agreements in ways that make it impossible for them to be self-reliant.

Cotton farmers have been in the same situation for years now and their current despicable state is there for all to see. In a free market economy, after three farming seasons, farmers should be able to stand on their own legs.

It is also a public secret that prevailing market conditions in Zimbabwe — caused by years of Zanu PF-led government’s misrule and mismanagement of the economy — are not conducive to any form of business, including agriculture.

The high cost of finance, the interest rates of over 20 percent, high electricity and erratic supplies, poor infrastructure and poor rain seasons are factors are factors that farmers take into account.

With the rate of non-payment of delivered maize to Grain Marketing Board, sane farmers are not happy with the experience of delivering their maize to the corrupt and bankrupt parastatal.

This is why most farmers have gone into cash crops, including tobacco, barley, wheat and livestock products, which the government has no control over.

Instead of forcing people to farm, the government should address the current food shortages by giving farmers land leases, which will allow them to borrow money from banks and let the farmers have freedom to control their land and agricultural activities.

Magaya rape complainant fumes at State

HARARE - The complainant in Prophetic Healing and Deliverance Ministries Walter Magaya’s rape case has written a second letter querying the Prosecutor-General office’s reluctance to acknowledge her decision to voluntarily withdraw the charge.

The alleged rape victim — a Masters student at the Midlands State University — said she has served her letter to the deputy Prosecutor-General, national director of public prosecutions, chief public prosecutor, Commissioner-General of police, officer commanding Law and Order, clerk of court, Harare Magistrates Court and Magaya’s lawyers Rubaya and Chatambudza.

“It seems as if you have not taken heed of my clarion call that I have withdrawn the rape complaint. I was in the Magistrates’ Court today and was surprised your representative, one (chief public prosecutor) Michael Mugabe, insisted that a decision had been taken to proceed and prosecute the rape case in question, yet I have already withdrawn it,” reads the letter date-stamped December 1.

She queried how the National Prosecuting Authority would proceed with an allegation that she has confirmed as “false.”

“It is my understanding that as the complainant, I am in a position to indicate my decision relating to the matter. There cannot possibly be a rape case where I, as the complainant, have said the complaint was false and was never raped by the accused person,” she said.

She further emphasised that she no longer wanted anything to do with the matter again.

“If the matter proceeds in the manner proposed by your office that might not come out well given that I have already withdrawn this case.

“Kindly note that I was never interfered with neither am I being unduly influenced because I am an independent woman who has decided to tell the truth.”

The issue to have Magaya’s case withdrawn from the courts first became a concern on November 15 when the presiding magistrate Vakayi Chikwekwe found withdrawal affidavits slipped into his office with no one to account for their delivery.

In those documents, she claimed that she was being frustrated with threats from unnamed individuals who wanted to shoot her if she did not testify in a manner that would nail Magaya.

Chikwekwe then noted in court that he could not comment on the documents as they had not been procedurally presented before him.

Subsequent to the court’s decision, she followed proper procedure and served relevant parties withdrawal affidavits on November 17 and attached a letter, saying the decision was made at her own volition.

“I want to correct any misguided misconception or misguided inferences that the referred threats are the prime cause of the withdrawal. Far from it, this withdrawal is motivated by my own free will and volition without any undue influence having been brought to bear,” she said.

However, when the case kicked off before Chikwekwe on Wednesday, Mugabe sought to have Magaya indicted for trial at the High Court and did not mention anything about the withdrawal request.

His move was objected by Advocate Thabani Mpofu who has since assumed Magaya’s agency. Mpofu argued that it was an infringement of his client’s rights to ignore that the alleged victim has asserted that she had lied and wanted to withdraw the accusations.

“The State’s intention is understood but however, it is tainted because it is not in accordance with the law and liberty guarantee as set out in the Constitution,” Mpofu said.

“We are aware of two things that the State has been advised by the complainant, that she does not wish to pursue the complaint and advice that the accusations are false.”

The magistrate’s ruling was that the alleged rape victim did not have powers to influence the court’s decision.

He said the State had a constitutional mandate to determine the course of events but gave the green light to Magaya to apply for referral of his case to the Constitutional Court.

#Tajamuka leaders freed on bail

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HARARE - Three leaders of social media movement #Tajamuka arrested on Monday during a media briefing on bond notes were granted bail at the Harare Magistrates’ Courts yesterday.

Tajamuka spokesperson Promise Mkwananzi, 35, is being jointly charged with activists Mehluli Dube, 35, and Kudakwashe Manjonjo, 23.

They are being charged with participating in a gathering with the intention to promote public violence and being a criminal nuisance.

The trio appeared before magistrate Vongai Muchuchuti.

Mkwananzi and his team were represented by Obey Shava. They were ordered to pay $200 each and report twice a week at CID Law and Order as part of conditions.

Shava noted that the $200 bail was too high and his clients could not afford it “unless a miracle happened”.

The State had opposed bail on the basis that accused persons have pending cases at the courts and could boycott court hearings for fear of being jailed.

“Having a pending case is not a ground at law to deny an accused person bail. If anything, what should be noted from those pending cases is that accused persons were admitted to bail,” Shava said.

He further submitted that his clients rights were infringed as they were arrested exercising a constitutionally-enshrined privilege.

“Section 67 of the constitution which talks about political rights provide that every citizen has the right to participate, influence, challenge or support policies of their government,” Shava added.

Prosecutor Peter Kachirika alleged that on November 28 at Corner Rezende and Jason Moyo Avenue in Harare Mkwananzi was in the company of other members of #Tajamuka clad in T-shirts with their insignia.

They also waved placards inscribed Enough is Enough, No to bond notes, #hatichada #hatichatya.

The court heard that accused persons took turns to address a gathering of about 25 people, allegedly inciting them to shun the introduction of bond notes and alleged corruption by senior government officials.

It was alleged that Mkwananzi and his team encouraged the gathered public to participate in allegedly “violent demonstrations” on November 30 in which they allegedly vowed to attack police officers who stood in their way.

Ray of hope for rapist Gumbura

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HARARE - Jailed Independent End Time Message founder Robert Martin Gumbura could win a bid to dismiss one of his charges after the State conceded that the clergyman was convicted in error on one of the counts.

This emerged during Gumbura’s appeal hearing, which was before High Court judges Charles Hungwe and Edith Mushore.

Gumbura is currently serving an effective 40-year prison term after Harare regional magistrate Hosea Mujaya found him guilty on four counts of raping female congregants and another count of contravening the Censorship and Entertainment Control Act in March 2014.

Gumbura’s lawyer Sylvester Hashiti, who was instructed by Tapson Dzvetero, told the court that the State had made a concession in relation to one of the counts.

“On the last paragraph of the State’s response, there is a concession that the conviction as relates to count number seven is unsafe. The appeal to that portion has to succeed,” Hashiti said referring to the rape counts.

He further blew holes into the other three counts, which he argued were not reported timeously, an aspect which he said must work in Gumbura’s favour.

However, judges kept on asking him to explain the issue pertaining to claims that the victims had been indoctrinated and feared Gumbura.

Hashiti said that the evidence pertaining to the case showed that the victims were not afraid of anything or claims that they would be placed in the hands of Satan if ever they defied Gumbura’s orders.

He said they had ample time and freedom to report the case to the police or whoever they freely sought to consult.

The clergyman further argued in his appeal that the magistrate misdirected himself, when he found him guilty and sentenced him to 40 years.

He said that the witnesses were not credible.

“It is clear that the magistrate’s finding that the complainants were credible is plainly wrong. The honourable magistrate simply took lock, stock and barrel the narrative of the complainants, discarding the explanation given by the appellant and the probabilities,” he argued.

He accused the magistrate of failing to critically examine the allegations raised by the complainants.

“In this regard, the magistrate was regrettably swayed by non-legal considerations and passed a moral judgment. Most fundamentally, the honourable court was obligated to critically examine each allegation of sex in the surrounding circumstances.

“The judgment of the Magistrates’ Court cannot withstand scrutiny on appeal,” he said.

However, prosecutor Editor Mavuto is seeking the dismissal of the appeal, arguing the magistrate did not make any errors in his ruling. He said he would be willing to reconsider his decision on only one of the counts.

Gumbura’s case was last heard last year.

High Court judge Joseph Musakwa dismissed the application after ruling that there were no prospects of success on appeal.

Gumbura’s latest appeal hearing will continue today, when Hashiti will finalise his submissions and Mavuto responds before the court makes a ruling.

Judge recuses self from Kereke appeal hearing

HARARE - A new judge will hear the appeal of jailed ex-Zanu PF Bikita West legislator Munyaradzi Kereke, convicted of raping his 11-year-old niece at gunpoint after the original judge recused himself from the case yesterday.

High Court judge Tawanda Chitapi said in court that he would not hear the bail pending appeal by Kereke — currently serving an effective 10-year jail term.

Justice Chitapi said he was once the politician’s legal counsel in the same matter and was therefore disqualified to preside over the appeal.

“I am not able to deal with this matter, I have to recuse myself. Apparently, I was involved in this matter as the applicant’s counsel. My firm was the one that represented him up until the State declined prosecution,” Justice Chitapi said.

He said he was once a co-director with Kereke in two companies and interacted with him when he was still working at the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe. Chitapi was once the central bank’s lawyer, during a time when Kereke was the advisor to then RBZ governor Gideon Gono.

“Under the circumstances, it will not be proper that I deal with this matter,” Chitapi said.

The case has now been assigned to High Court judge Owen Tagu. The new judge will hear the appeal next Tuesday.

Kereke has approached the High Court again seeking to be released on bail, arguing there are changed circumstances. His earlier bid was thrown out by Justice Happious Zhou in October.

Denying Kereke bail in October, Zhou noted that there was a high likelihood that the politician would skip a retrial if freed following his prison stint.

The court further ruled that Kereke was not a person of fixed abode as he has several places of residence and may frustrate the administration of justice.

In the current application, Kereke’s estranged wife Elizabeth Sibanda has offered to accommodate him and fund a house arrest pending the hearing of the maverick businessman’s appeal.

She has also undertaken to surrender title deeds to her Mandara property as surety for Kereke’s freedom.

Another couple, Arnold Chidhakwa and his wife Barbara have also offered another property as surety, in a development his lawyers argued provided changed circumstances and warranted their client’s release on bail.

Kereke fell from grace in July when Harare regional magistrate Noel Mupeiwa slapped him with a 14-year jail term after convicting him on rape charges, following private prosecution proceedings instituted by the raped girl’s guardian Francis Maramwidze, through gritty Harare lawyer Charles Warara.

Four years were suspended on condition that Kereke does not commit an offence of sexual nature in the next five years.

This followed a six-year legal battle in which now suspended prosecutor-general Johannes Tomana declined to prosecute the businessman on the basis that he had no case to answer.

Govt warns traders rejecting bond notes

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HARARE - Government has threatened to descend heavily on businesses and individuals refusing to accept bond notes as legal tender.

This comes after Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor John Mangudya on Monday officially introduced the promissory notes to ease a severe cash crisis triggered by declining exports and externalisation.

Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa told the National Assembly that government would invoke the full might of the law to “deal with offenders”.

Chinamasa was responding to a question by Zanu PF Marondera Central MP Lawrence Katsiru during question time on Wednesday on what measures government had put in place to make sure that the bond notes are wholly-embraced.

“...there is already a hotline to assist the smooth introduction of the bond notes so that any issues of the nature raised can be followed up with the relevant culprits and we will be able to deal with those cases where they refuse to accept them,” Chinamasa said.

“Some of the teething problems which are being reported basically have to do with some commercial entities refusing to accept it as legal tender but they are obliged under law to accept it as legal tender. 

“Anyone who offers bond notes in discharge of obligations will have discharged, whether the person being offered the bond note refuses or not.”

Speaker of the National Assembly Jacob Mudenda said: “I believe that at some time, the minister of Finance and Economic Development may address it perhaps through some ministerial statement to clarify certain grey areas.”

MDC MP for Chitungwiza North Godfrey Sithole asked the minister to also address the “mediocre” quality of the notes in his ministerial statement.

“We wish that when he issues this ministerial statement, he talks about the texture of the $2 bond note.  I have the two different notes which show the difference in texture of what is supposed to be the same note.  The colour in some notes is wearing out whilst the other notes are intact,” he said.

Japan to rehabilitate Chirundu-Karoi road

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HARARE - Japan has started a project to improve a road section along the northern part of the North-South Beira corridor from Chirundu to Karoi, in a bid to enhance cross border transport infrastructure (CBTI) by developing transportation corridors from inland areas to large-scale international ports.

The condition of the of road had badly deteriorated due to insufficient funds for maintenance as well as damage to road surfaces caused by overloaded vehicles.

The project is the culmination of a request of a grant aid the Zimbabwe government tabled to the government of Japan in 2015.

The project was consummated at a bilateral summit held in Tokyo on March 28 between Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and President Robert Mugabe.

The objective of the project is to improve transportation and logistics as well as traffic safety in the northern part of the North-South corridor from Chirundu to Karoi by “constructing climbing lanes and improving horizontal and vertical alignment.”

The project is part of an industrial strategy by the Eastern African Community (EAC) trade bloc together with Comesa, Africa’s largest trade bloc, and the Southern African Development Community (Sadc), to pool resources from foreign financiers for the development of infrastructure in the region.

Some of the projects in the North-South Beira corridor include the rehabilitation of five roads in Botswana, Malawi and Zimbabwe.

Besides road networks, other projects requiring immediate implementation include railways and power networks by governments of the trade blocs.

The three trade blocs have also agreed to work out measures to have common customs regulations and rules to ease intra-trade and shore up economic development.

The Japanese embassy in Harare said on October 22, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica), started the preparatory survey for the improvement of the Chirundu-Karoi road section.

The Jica survey team leader, Shuntaro Kawahara, said that the aim of the preparatory survey was to prepare an outline design which would be necessary for the appraisal of grant aid on the side of the government of Japan.

Jica, together with Zimbabwe’s Transport and Infrastructural Development ministry and in particular the Department of Roads (DOR), will formulate the best project components, the Japanese embassy said, adding the survey will take one year, including three on-site follow-up surveys.

Kawahara said: “Japan developed its highway network coping with mountainous topography and as such would like to share Japanese experiences of designing and constructing highway with MOTID to improve the northern part of the corridor characterized with mountainous terrain synonymous with Japan.”

Munesu Munodawafa, the permanent secretary of Transport and Infrastructural Development ministry, reiterated the importance of the project as it would be beneficial to people of both Zimbabwe and it’s neighbouring countries through enhanced traffic flow and safety as well as redundancy of the international corridor network within the Southern African region.

Hideaki Morita, chief engineer of the Jica survey team, emphasised the concept of “working together” to create ownership.

“I was encouraged by the enthusiasm and good capacity of Zimbabwean engineers during our site survey and the series of discussions with them.

“DOR engineers’ input is critical as we work together to consider the best technical solution given the fact that they are naturally familiar with their road conditions and challenges at hand,” Morita said. 

Japan is seeking closer ties with Zimbabwe that could help it gain access to natural resources and provide new markets.

Zimbabwe, a $14bn economy for which mining is the biggest source of foreign currency, has the world’s biggest platinum reserves after SA, as well as chrome, gold and iron ore.

Japan has already pumped millions into development projects in Zimbabwe.

In 2002, Japan extended grant aid to build the New Chirundu Bridge with the dual lane, 400-metre long and 120-tonne maximum road across the Zambezi River between Zimbabwe and Zambia.

In 2009, with support from Jica and other partners, the Chirundu One-Stop Border Post was launched to enhance trade facilitation through efficient movement of goods and people along the North-South Corridor.

Earlier this year, Japan also pledged to increase its support to infrastructure, humanitarian assistance and healthcare projects.

Japan’s growing projects re seen as a counterweight to what it sees as growing Chinese influence in the region.

“Japan is putting money into new infrastructure and raising its presence, and it is necessary for Japan (to) gain more influence,” said one of the sources, with knowledge of the plan.