Category Archives: News

Chombo, Chihuri face arrest over Grace

ARNOLD Farm residents in Mazowe, who last week were granted an interdict barring demolition of their homes and eviction from the farm by the law enforcement agents, have once again approached the court seeking contempt of court charges against three top government officials.

BY CHARLES LAITON

First Lady Grace Mugabe

First Lady Grace Mugabe

The villagers want Home Affairs minister Ignatius Chombo, Commissioner-General of Police Augustine Chihuri and Lands and Rural Resettlement minister Douglas Mombeshora charged with contempt of court after authorities disregarded a court order stopping the evictions.

The urgent chamber application was filed last Sunday after the police, despite the existence of the court order, continued with the demolitions, bundled the residents into trucks and dumped them in a bushy area along the Mvurwi Road allegedly to make way for First Lady Grace Mugabe’s business expansion.

In their application, the residents said the conduct of the law enforcement agents in the unfolding events was “a sad commentary to the status of the Rule of Law in Zimbabwe”.

On Friday last week, High Court judge Justice Felistas Chatukuta ruled in the residents’ favour and ordered the police to immediately stop demolishing houses and evicting the families from the farm, but the police allegedly scoffed at the court order and continued with their actions unabated.

“The demolitions continued on the 25th of March 2017 and this time the police were forcing the villagers whose homes they had demolished to board trucks. The residents would be driven some 35-40km along the Mvurwi Road and dumped in the bush and told to find their way to where they originally came from,” the villagers, who are represented by Donsa-Nkomo and Mutangi Legal Practitioners, said in their affidavits.

“The villagers are just dumped in the open, without food, water, or shelter. Our crops and livestock are left at Arnold Farm; our children are still at the schools they were attending since 2000 when we resettled at the farm and now their education is being disrupted.”

Added one villager: “I aver that the disobedience of the court order by the respondents is wilful or reckless and also mala fide (in bad faith). There can be no worse form of contempt than to appear before this honourable court and consent to an order which respondent (police) had no intention of respecting.

“The conduct of the respondents in this case is a sad commentary to the status of the Rule of Law in Zimbabwe. As applicants, we had hoped to get relief from this honourable court, but when the orders of the court are brazenly disobeyed, as in this case, then there is no hope for us.”

In the application, the applicants were cited as Nyatsambo Katsamudanga, Innocent Dube, Rosemary Masiyiwa, Maliyana Mateo, Livingstone Musanhu, Makoore Leonard, Chenjerai Murambiza, Phanuel Chingoriwo and Arnold Farm Residents’ Association, while Mombeshora, Chihuri and Chombo were cited as respondents. The matter is yet to be heard.

The villagers argue that they had been staying at the farm over the past 17 years before the forced removal by gun-toting police and military personnel.

‘Malaba appointed Chief Justice’

DEPUTY Chief Justice Luke Malaba has reportedly been appointed as the new Chief Justice (CJ), taking over from Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku who retired last month.

STAFF REPORTER

Justice Malaba

Justice Malaba

According to sources, Justice Malaba’s swearing in was scheduled for next week.

“(Justice) Malaba has already received his letter of appointment and what is only left is his swearing in,” a close government source said.

It was not yet clear if President Robert Mugabe had appointed Justice Malaba’s replacement as DCJ.

Contacted for comment, Presidential spokesperson George Charamba said he was not aware of the appointment as he was in Mutare and referred questions to Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa or Information minister Chris Mushohwe, who were both not reachable.

Justice Malaba, together with Justices Rita Makarau and Paddington Garwe, were shortlisted by the Judicial Service Commission to replace Justice Chidyausiku following interviews held in December last year.

The appointment of a new CJ has had twists and turns with a University of Zimbabwe law student, Romeo Zibani, first challenging the selection process. Mugabe later introduced Constitutional Amendment Bill (No1) which gives him power to appoint a new CJ, his or her deputy and the Judge President of the High Court.

Currently Parliament is gathering views on the amendment Bill, whose passing will now become academic for the current position.

Nera to pile pressure on Mugabe

Opposition political parties under the National Electoral Reforms Agenda (Nera) banner plan to hold a rally next week to ratchet up pressure on President Robert Mugabe’s administration to implement poll reforms.

BY XOLISANI NCUBE

MDC-T secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora

MDC-T secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora

Nera legal secretary and MDC-T secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora yesterday said the rally was meant to update supporters on the organisation’s 2017 agenda.

“It is going to be a feedback rally with all political leaders set to attend and address. The aim of the rally is to give our supporters the current position with regard to our fight for an even electoral playing field. We will have all political leaders under Nera addressing the rally,” Mwonzora said. Last week, Nera staged a mini-demonstration in Harare which was held under stringent conditions.

Police only allowed 2 500 people to gather at Freedom Square with only 10 representatives allowed to proceed to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) offices to present a petition.

Nera wants, among other things, Zec chairperson Justice Rita Makarau to resign and allow for United Nations and Sadc-supervised polls in 2018.

The organisation is also fighting government’s decision to take over the procurement of biometric voter registration (BVR) kits from the United Nations Development Programme.

Zec has indicated its willingness to use BVR, but Mugabe’s lieutenants in both government and Zanu PF have embarked on a campaign to criticise the move, as well as claim it would be an unnecessary expenditure.

Stay calm, Zim special permit holders told

ZIMBABWEANS living in South Africa, who hold the special dispensation permit must stay calm and wait for the government to make an official announcement at the end of the year, a lobby group has urged.

BY KHANYILE MLOTSHWA

Locals exiled in neighbouring South Africa remain agitated with no official position in sight, given that the special permit issued to over 250 000 Zimbabweans, who fled social upheaval in the country will expire at the end of this year.

Zimbabwe Community in South Africa (ZCSA) chairperson, Ngqabutho Mabhena, said holders of the permit should guard against falling prey to con-artists.

“If you are a special permit holder, please wait for official announcement by the Home Affairs minister (Malusi Gigaba). Please ignore statements circulating on social media about the special permits,” Mabhena said.

The lobby group’s spokesperson, Bongani Mkhwananzi, said ZCSA has received “inquiries on the supposed announcement by the Department of Home Affairs on the special permit possible renewal”.

“The ZCSA is confident that after the minister and his peers in government and political circles have applied their minds with considered the requests and input we also have presented, an official announcement will be made,” he said.

“We cannot promise a favourable announcement, but are confident the minister understands the plight of the permit holders and will give a reasonable response and way forward. We would like to encourage those that qualify to migrate to other permits to do so.”

Gigaba early this year said he would not be rushed into a decision and only last week met his Zimbabwean counterpart, Ignatius Chombo, over regional migration issues.

Mkhwananzi added: “We were assured this (retention of passports) won’t happen. We are yet to receive reports of such retention of the passport by the embassy and advise people to bring such incidences to our attention so we can make our case with the department.”

Social media has been awash with claims that holders of the special permit would be eligible for permanent residence at the end of the year. There are also messages asking holders to deposit money into given bank accounts for applications to be processed. Mkhwananzi said these are phony messages and should be ignored.

Trial date for two rogue cops set

THE trial of two Nyamandlovu traffic police officers, charged with abuse of duty as public officers after converting part of spot fines to personal use will get underway on April 11.

BY SILAS NKALA

Shelton Chitakura (25) and Kudakwashe Chimombe (33) were not asked to plead to criminal abuse of office when they appeared before Bulawayo magistrate Tinashe Tashaya.

The court heard that on March 10 this year at 7:49am, the two were manning a roadblock at the 38km peg along Bulawayo-Nyamandlovu Road when they stopped a Nissan Caravan, which was being driven by Edmore Mashiri, who was in the company of his wife Minenhle and two passengers – Joel Mugomeni and Miss Mabhikwa.

The two officers told Mashiri that he had violated the Road Traffic Act for mixing goods and passengers because there were groceries in the motor vehicle.

It is alleged that they ordered him to pay $10 fine which he handed over to Chitakura, who completed the Z69 (j) receipt and instead of endorsing $10 on all the copies he allegedly only endorsed $10 on the duplicate copy and made Mashiri to sign being witnessed by Chimombe.

The duplicate copy was handed to Mashiri as proof of payment.

The State alleges that after Mashiri left, the two endorsed $5 on the remaining original triplicate and fast copies of the Z69 (j) and also forged Mashiri’s signature on the accused’s portion and thereafter converted the other $5 to their own use.

They later surrendered the other $5 to their station against the original copy.

After leaving the roadblock, Mashiri noticed that the customer copy receipt he had been issued was not a carbon copy which raised his suspicion and as such he raised the query with the police complaints desk.

Investigations conducted then led to the arrest of the two officers.

ANC in the Eastern Cape ‘loses’ half its members

The ANC in the Eastern Cape which lost the Nelson Mandela Metro to the DA in recent local government elections has lost more than 50% of its membership in five years.

TIMES LIVE

ANC Eastern Cape provincial secretary Oscar Mabuyane. Image by: SIPHE MACANDA

ANC Eastern Cape provincial secretary Oscar Mabuyane. Image by: SIPHE MACANDA

The numbers have plummeted from 225 000 in 2012 to 105 000 as at February 2017‚ according to the party’s preliminary audit.

ANC provincial secretary Oscar Mabuyane blamed the drop on membership rigging‚ and said the picture may improve by June as the party’s national executive committee‚ which met last weekend‚ had ordered all provinces to deal “harshly with gatekeepers”.

He described gatekeeping as a tendency by either regional secretaries or organisers and branch secretaries to destroy or hide the membership information of those they viewed as supporting rival factions during audit processes.

Mabuyane said one reason behind the decline were branches with fewer than 100 people. In the Alfred Nzo region where the membership audit was finalised last week, 10 branches were left out as they had fewer than 100 members.

The ANC constitution dictates that for a branch to be declared in good standing it must have more than 100 members.

The region is due to elect its new leaders in May, meaning the 10 branches would be left out of this process.

“Preliminary audits suggest that we have 105000 members – a huge drop if you compare to our numbers three years ago when we had just over 225000 members,” said Mabuyane.

ANC membership costs R20 a year.

“What we have noticed is that some branch secretaries fail to do their job of reminding members to renew their memberships on time as a result some membership lapse. This is done intentionally in cases where a member has a different view on leadership preferences to the secretaries.”

These developments come on the eve of yet another watershed elective provincial conference scheduled for July.

Early indications are that Mabuyane is likely to contest Phumulo Masualle as provincial chairman, while three names are in the hat for the secretary position.

These include Nelson Mandela Metro’s Andile Lungisa, ANC Youth League’s Mziwonke Ndabeni, as well as OR Tambo’s Lulama Ngcukayithobi.

Mabuyane said auditors were now busy in OR Tambo, verifying membership.

“Auditors are likely to move to Joe Gqabi, thereafter Chris Hani, Amathole, Dr WB Rubusana (Buffalo City), Sarah Baartman and last in line Nelson Mandela Metro.”

Once the auditors have finished and branches in good standing identified, a roadmap on when branches can nominate their leadership preferences will be outlined.

Mabuyane said the planning towards the conference would be done so that there “is a two weeks cooling off period after the BGMs and the conference”.

“We want to eliminate cases in which branches sit the day before the conference, a situation which is unacceptable for conference preparations.”

Mugabe is heartless: Mujuru

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe is being kept in power by “power-hungry looters”, hence Zimbabweans must take the chance to vote the 93-year-old leader out of office, former Vice-President Joice Mujuru said yesterday.

BY BLESSED MHLANGA

NPP leader Joice Mujuru

NPP leader Joice Mujuru

Mujuru, who is opposition National People’s Party (NPP) leader, said this while visiting party officials admitted at Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals’ intensive care unit after being involved in a car accident on Saturday night.

The former VP – who served under Mugabe for over 34 years before she was unceremoniously kicked out of Zanu PF and government on allegations of plotting a coup – said the decay of Zimbabwe’s health delivery system was a sign the President cared less about the plight of citizens.

“At 93, what do you expect from him? He just does not care anymore and I doubt he still understands what is expected of him in terms of providing solutions to address the economic rot which is causing this decay of social service delivery,” Mujuru said.

She also blamed Zimbabweans for allowing Mugabe to hold them “hostage”.

“Mugabe has always said if Zimbabweans tell me to go, I will go, so he is there because we have not told him to go. I believe we should tell him to go … he is being kept in office by people who have looted this country and they think the only way to escape is by keeping the old man hostage in office,” the NPP leader said.

She accused top government officials of abandoning their posts to engage in political mudslinging and the power scrap currently engulfing Zanu PF.

Mugabe frequently flies out of the country mainly to the Far East for what officials claim “routine medical check-up”.

Reports indicate Mugabe was constantly receiving treatment for an undisclosed ailment at the state-of-the-art Gleneagles medical facility in Singapore, renowned for specialist treatment, at taxpayers’ expense.

Early this month, Mugabe travelled for medical treatment leaving local health personnel on a strike, demanding better working conditions and pay.

Government this year allocated the Health and Child Care ministry a mere $281 million, with $222 million going to employment costs, leaving $55 million for infrastructure, medication and equipment.

In contrast, Mugabe’s office received $187 million with employment costs at $98 million, leaving his office with an unchecked budget of $89 million which funds mostly his travels and medical needs.

Mugabe’s expenditure is not subject to auditing and in the past few weeks he has been flying non-stop on a chartered plane with one trip to Singapore blowing over $1 million.

The former Vice-President came face-to-face with the deplorable conditions of service and health delivery after being told by accident victim and NPP Makonde chairperson, Levison Shumba, that nurses had encouraged him to seek treatment at a private hospital. “I fractured my leg in the accident and I need an operation, but nurses have told me that if I don’t get this done at a private hospital, it would take way over a month before I can be attended to,” Shumba told Mujuru.

Mujuru said Mugabe, whose sister Bridget spent no less than four years on life support at Parirenyatwa, was out of touch with reality.

“I don’t think he knows the state of this hospital, from the staff that is demoralised, the bed linen is not inspiring and service is absent, how can one have to wait for a month to be attended for multiple fractures on a leg? Does he know how things have changed since the last time he was here as a patient? I don’t think so,” the ex-VP queried.

Another NPP official and renowned surgeon, Samuel Mvurume, also admitted at Parirenyatwa, was injured in the freak accident while trying to help victims of a crash in Chinhoyi on Saturday night.

Zanu PF officials ‘implicated’ in Midlands gold wars

SENIOR Zanu PF officials have been implicated in violent clashes over gold claims in the Midlands province, a government official has said.

BY STEPHEN CHADENGA

Jason Machaya

Jason Machaya

The fights have reportedly pushed the province to the top of a list of areas with most violent crimes, especially involving dangerous weapons such as machetes, Midlands Provincial Affairs minister Jason Machaya told a ruling party meeting recently.

“I must inform the leadership that it has come to our attention that Midlands is topping the list of violent murders using machetes,”
Machaya told a Zanu PF provincial co-ordinating committee meeting held in Gweru last Saturday.

“Some politicians are being accused of being ring leaders of violence and as a province we must seriously address this issue.”

Machaya singled out Kwekwe and Zvishavane as areas with the most violence involving illegal gold panners in the province.

Contributing to the discussion Gokwe-Kana legislator, Owen Ncube distanced Zanu PF from the gold wars, saying thorough investigations should be carried out so that the name of the party was not tarnished.

He said Zanu PF youths who were allocated gold claims in Kwekwe had no criminal records of violence.

“There are no registered youths from Zanu PF who were allocated claims, who have been implicated in murder cases involving machetes and mining disputes,” Ncube said.

“We invite law enforcement agents to make thorough investigations so that the name and image of the party (Zanu PF) is not put into disrepute.”

According to police reports, last year the province recorded 89 cases involving the use of machetes.

Of the cases, 10 people lost their lives, while 30 were injured and 10 displaced.

Recently, Mines minister Walter Chidakwa said the government had set-up a taskforce to investigate deaths and injuries caused by gold wars.

Mukoko pushes Mutasa over the cliff

DEMOCRACY activist Jestina Mukoko yesterday scored a major victory against the government after Harare High Court judge, Justice Nyaradzo Munangati-Manongwa, dismissed an application by the State seeking to shield senior officials from paying compensation.

BY CHARLES LAITON

Human rights activist and Zimbabwe Peace Project director, Jestina Mukoko

Human rights activist and Zimbabwe Peace Project director, Jestina Mukoko

Mukoko was held incommunicado for weeks after being abducted in December 2008 and is suing former State Security minister and now opposition leader Didymus Mutasa, War Veterans ministry secretary Brigadier-General Asher Walter Tapfumaneyi and one Chief Superintendent Peter Magwenzi.

The State had made a desperate bid to shield the three from being sued in their personal capacities and to be ordered to pay Mukoko compensation.

Mutasa, Tapfumaneyi and Magwenzi had objected to being sued in their personal capacities, arguing that they acted as State agents in their official capacities.

However, Mukoko’s lawyer, Beatrice Mtetwa, a member of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, dismissed their assertions, arguing no one was employed in his or her official capacity to commit abductions and torture.

“No explanation has been given as to why the applicants (Mutasa, Tapfumaneyi and Magwenzi) have not themselves deposed to the founding affidavit, particularly as the issue raised involves each applicant being able to say that their actions were in their official capacities,” she said.

Mtetwa further argued that the Attorney-General (AG) could not be allowed to make averments on behalf of the three regarding the capacities in which they acted when the acts complained of were committed.

“It is respectfully submitted that the peculiar circumstances of this case, where the plaintiff’s rights were violated by senior officials acting in clear common purpose in violation of the law, ought to be discouraged by ensuring that each individual participant in the unlawful enterprise bears personal responsibility for his actions,” she added.

After the abduction and torture, Mukoko, in 2009, filed a $220 000 lawsuit against Mutasa, who at the time of her abduction served as State Security, Lands and Land Reform minister, Tapfumaneyi, Magwenzi, Defence minister Sydney Sekeramayi, Commissioner-General of Police Augustine Chihuri and the AG.

In their application, the AG, through Ephraim Mukucha, said: “I later realised that it is not proper for the purposes of Section 4 of the State Liabilities Act not to challenge the citation of fifth, seventh and eighth defendants (Mutasa, Tapfumaneyi and Magwenzi) in the personal capacities for things done or omitted to be done while within the course and scope of their official duties.”

“The purpose of this application is, therefore, to seek an amendment of a plea which was filed on behalf of the applicant. I respectfully submit that the nature of the amendment sought by the applicants herein will not in any way prejudice the respondent in that the raising of a point in limine (from the outset) to challenge imputation of personal liability on the fifth, seventh and eighth defendants on what happened to the respondent (Mukoko) will not stop her from claiming damages against them in their official capacities since she had already done that.”

However, in her response, Mtetwa argued such an amendment would have a ripple effect on her client’s matter.

Soldiers on the rampage at MSU

A group of suspected soldiers allegedly assaulted students at Midlands State University (MSU) last Saturday evening, leaving more than three dozen seriously injured.

BY STEPHEN CHADENGA

Midlands-State-University-e1368876281142

The soldiers were reportedly on a revenge mission after a member of the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) was beaten by a group of students following a misunderstanding over a woman at a city drinking spot in the Midlands capital of Gweru.

According to witnesses, the soldiers disembarked at the main campus from a commuter omnibus before they went on a rampage randomly assaulting students using cue sticks.

Although MSU acting director of information and public relations Mirirai Mawere, said the matter has since been reported at Senga Police Station, acting Midlands provincial police spokesperson Assistant Inspector Ethel Mukwende said she was still to receive the report.

“I am still to receive that report. In any case if I get it I would not be at liberty to comment if it involves State security agents and I can only refer you to the national police spokesperson, Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba,” Mukwende said.

Efforts to get a comment from Charamba hit a brick wall as her mobile phone went unanswered.

Army spokesperson Colonel Alphios Makotore said there was no indication that the assailants were soldiers.

“There is no evidence to show that those people are soldiers. Gweru has a lot of illegal panners masquerading as army personnel just to intimidate people and as well as frighten those against whom they would have committed crimes,” Makotore said.

Zimbabwe National Students’ Union secretary-general, Makomborero Haruzivishe condemned the alleged attack.

“The Zimbabwe National Students’ Union is deeply concerned with the attack on students by 15 soldiers of the Zimbabwe National Army at Midlands State University yesterday (Saturday) evening,” Haruzivishe said in a statement.

“Thirty-seven students were viciously assaulted with 14 getting broken limps (sic) and one is feared to have had brain damage and is currently in a coma. We are more worried by the MSU authorities who have time to time failed to provide security for students on campus as this is not the first time such an attack has occurred.”

Rogue units in Zimbabwe’s military routinely engage in fist-fights with the public before organising themselves into groups on revenge missions.

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