Tag Archives: National

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.

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.

‘No to Mugabe dynasty’

VETERANS of Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle will work hard in the coming month to stop President Robert Mugabe’s bid to create a political dynasty in the country, NewsDay has been told.

BY RICHARD CHIDZA

President Robert Mugabe and First Lady Grace Mugabe

President Robert Mugabe and First Lady Grace Mugabe

In an interview following the conclusion of a meeting of the former fighters organised by the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans’ Association (ZNLWVA) last week, secretary-general Victor Matemadanda was categorical that the ex-combatants would not allow Mugabe — already endorsed by Zanu PF as its presidential candidate — to win another term next year.

“The war vets will now go to give the masses the consciousness of the tasks ahead, which are to fight corruption, fight creation of a Mugabe dynasty, fight regionalism and fight dictatorship as well as all other social and economic ills,” Matemadanda told NewsDay.

While Mugabe, in his traditional birthday interview last month, claimed he remained in office because there was no one suitable to take over, ZNLWVA spokesperson Douglas Mahiya said Zimbabweans could still choose a leader even someone without liberation war credentials.

“The only way to do it is to vote and find a suitable leader even among those that did not take part in the liberation struggle. We are 14 million citizens and if we choose well among us, they should be able to serve our common interests as a people,” Mahiya said.

“It is not possible that there is no one who can lead better than those in power today. We can always find one because nobody is indispensable. Zimbabwe is greater than individuals and will be there long after we are all gone.”

ZNLWVA national chairperson Christopher Mutsvangwa also called for a change of tack with the economy virtually on its knees and the deepening political problems in the country.

“We need to reach out to [the] Diaspora … engendered by the illegal sanctions and the ham-fisted response of the clueless, vapid and vacuous G40 in their illicit control of the apex of Executive power,” he said.

In the scathing communiqué issued last July, the war veterans accused Mugabe of manipulating the ruling Zanu PF party for selfish ends, describing him as “genocidal”.

Before last week’s meeting, the ZNLWVA distributed flyers detailing their “commitments to the Zimbabwe we want”.

The former fighters committed to servant and responsive leadership, rule of law and according citizens all civil liberties “without prejudice”.

As their relationship with Mugabe and Zanu PF continues on a downward spiral, Mutsvangwa said last week’s meeting re-established the war veterans as “a people’s force”.

“It was a watershed, game-changing meeting. It recast the image of the war veteran. He [war veteran] has recovered that integrity and seriousness befitting a revolutionary hero of the Chimurenga independence war.

“It banished his image and standing, doing away with the idiosyncratic caricature of violence and mayhem. Zimbabweans are once again proud of the stellar military actors who did so much to restore the battered bias against modern African military prowess,” Mutsvangwa said.

“We presented the war veterans as the heroes of the Zimbabweans, the heroes of Africa. That is the biggest success that we got and it will marginalise the elements that are against progress particularly as epitomised by the G40 (faction of Zanu PF). The G40 is the opposite of what we want in Zimbabwe. We have demolished them and reworked the image of war veterans and removed the element of caricature.”

Mahiya admitted the demands by the war veterans might not be achieved under Mugabe’s current government, accusing some senior officials of being counter-revolutionaries.

“…the people who are holding positions today, for example, the Minister of Home Affairs [Ignatius Chombo], Higher Education [Jonathan Moyo] and Local Government [Saviour Kasukuwere], are counter-revolutionaries and would never accept our demands,” Mahiya said.

“We are clear Zimbabweans understand what we are saying and will know who to vote for. It is a small group of people with no social base. Next year’s elections will tell.”

Mugabe, who will contest next year’s election aged 94, should have retired a long time ago, argued Mahiya.

“At his age, the President was supposed to have retired and be able to write books and putting down what he has done for the country for future generations to benefit from the wisdom, if any, that he has. Those who are in the corridors of power are only interested in looting the country’s economy,” he said.

Grace holds axe over Moyo, Mahoka

FIRST Lady Grace Mugabe will make the final call on the fate of beleaguered Zanu PF women’s league deputy secretary Eunice Sandi-Moyo and treasurer Sarah Mahoka at an executive meeting to be held this week, it has been established.

BY BLESSED MHLANGA

Sarah Mahoka

Sarah Mahoka

Zanu PF women’s league members held demonstrations against the two on Thursday and Friday last week, demanding that they be expelled on allegations of undermining the First Lady as well as abusing party funds.

Sources told NewsDay yesterday that Sandi-Moyo and Mahoka’s fate could be sealed this week.

“There is likely to be a women’s league executive meeting this week, most likely on Tuesday [tomorrow], where a consolidated petition against Mahoka and Sandi-Moyo will be handed over to the First Lady for a final decision,” NewsDay heard.

While officials in the women’s league remained tight-lipped on whether indeed the meeting would be held this week, Mashonaland West acting provincial chairperson Angeline Muchemeyi confirmed a consolidated petition was now in place.

“We now have a consolidated petition which chairwomen from all provinces will present before the executive on a date that is yet to be decided. The moment we are called, we will have the petition ready and will submit it,” Muchemeyi said.

Mahoka hails from Mashonaland West and the axe has been hovering over her head since her unsolicited public humiliation of Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa two years ago during a gathering to welcome President Robert Mugabe at the end of his tenure as African Union and Sadc chairperson.

Women’s league secretary for information Thokozile Angela Mathuthu would neither deny nor confirm the Zanu PF organ would meet tomorrow.

“You heard these things from rumours and the nation cannot be run on rumours because if that happens, the country will collapse. I will have to first get into my [email] inbox in my laptop and see what has been sent to me so if you talk to me on Monday [today], I might have a response for you,” Mathuthu said.

Secretary for administration Letina Undenge also refused to comment.

“Ask the secretary for information [Mathuthu], we are trying to be professional and make sure people do their work. I am not going to talk about this because we will cause unnecessary chaos. As secretary for administration, my job is to supervise everyone and the league spokesperson must give you a comment. If she has a problem regarding details on any issue, she can consult me,” Undenge said.

Sandi-Moyo and Mahoka, hitherto some of Grace’s most trusted allies, seem to have been sacrificed in the intriguing power scrap rocking the ruling party.

Plot to split Mujuru party exposed

Joice Mujuru’s National People’s Party (NPP) members have claimed they have busted a plot by some officials from Tendai Biti’s People Democratic Party (PDP) to infiltrate and cause another split of the former Vice-President’s party in order weaken her on the coalition negotiating table.

By Staff Reporter

National People’s Party leader Joice Mujuru

National People’s Party leader Joice Mujuru

They alleged the plot includes assuming provincial and national positions at the NPP’s elections to establish a substantive national leadership slated for today, and then months later defect en masse to the PDP. The alleged defections would make Mujuru to be viewed as weak and, therefore, unsuitable for very senior positions on the opposition coalition.

NPP members from Masvingo said the plot was being implemented by officials who have joined the party from the PDP.

They claim the former PDP members jostling for positions in the NPP were still working with their former party and had two meetings this year to strategise the infiltration and cause a split.

The plot has come to be dubbed as the Third Force and was aimed at discrediting Mujuru, while at the same time propelling Biti so that his stakes at the coalition negotiating table would rise.

Although most opposition leaders have endorsed MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai as the best candidate to lead the mooted coalition against President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF in the forthcoming 2018 general elections, the PDP outfit allegedly wanted to torpedo the former labour unionist.

“The PDP members still believed Biti is the best candidate to lead the coalition on account of Tsvangirai’s ill-health, but without numbers, they still face a mountain task against Mujuru.

“The plot is thus to have mass defections from Mujuru’s camp to prop up Biti’s profile and take over leadership of the coalition ahead of the Mujuru,” one member told NewsDay Weekender on condition of anonymity.”

The official added: “When we started the NPP as Zimbabwe People First, we agreed to accept anyone from anywhere and treat each other as equal partners. We had people from PDP. They joined the party and after a meeting with Biti on January 13 in Masvingo, they reinforced the recruitment drive in other provinces.

“Now they are a structure within a structure. They now want to dominate the provincial and national leadership positions and resign en mass after six weeks to dent president Mujuru’s image. The problem is more pronounced in Masvingo where they are working with a senior NPP official who is the both in the provincial and interim structures,” he said.

“The official (name withheld) thinks he is building his own team that will help him take over from Mujuru in two years, but he doesn’t know that the guys have an immediate plan to collapse the NPP within six months. In Masvingo, there is already a structure before the convention.”

NPP spokesperson Jealousy Mawarire said: “Normally, when you get allegations of such gravity, it is prudent to study them first and comment later.”

But PDP spokesperson Jacob Mafume dismissed this as machinations of Mugabe’s spy agency to collapse the coalition talks before the polls. He said his party has no intention to undermine Mujuru or any other opposition party.

“This is complete fabrication. We do not have the time to plot against Mujuru or any opposition. We are focusing on a coalition to remove Mugabe,” Mafume said.

“These are CIO machinations to destabilise the congress of a sister organisation. We wish Mujuru well. She must ignore this smokescreen that has become a trademark of Zanu PF.”

Mavhaire was not reachable yesterday.

Knives out for Mugabe, Grace

VETERANS of Zimbabwe’s war of liberation have declared war on President Robert Mugabe and made a clarion call for citizens to remove him from power in elections next year.

BY BLESSED MHLANGA

War veterans chairperson Chris Mutsvangwa gets a hero’s welcome from fellow freedom fighters at the City Sports Centre, in Harare yesterday

War veterans chairperson Chris Mutsvangwa gets a hero’s welcome from fellow freedom fighters at the City Sports Centre, in Harare yesterday

Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans’ Association (ZNLWVA) secretary-general Victor Matemadanda told an indaba of the former fighters in Harare yesterday that Mugabe’s government had failed to deliver on the promises of the liberation struggle.

“As I am looking at you, I am thinking of 2018. We would want to discuss about the war veterans’ welfare, but in a country where $15 billion can be stolen and nobody is arrested we are just wasting our time,” Matemadanda said.

“What we must do here is to have a plan of getting rid of people who steal $15 billion without being arrested. Those that failed to arrest them must also go. Hoping to get any form of welfare from such people is a complete waste [of time].The people you gave the mandate to run this country have failed.”

Matemadanda, in an impassioned address, urged Mugabe to step down and use his last days to organise and run foundations besides writing his memoirs. The war veterans’ chief accused those allegedly forcing the 93-year-old Zanu PF leader to cling onto power of misleading him for their personal gain.

“The same people have sent their own grandmothers and fathers to old people’s homes, but cannot let go a 93-year-old President, lying to him that ‘we love you’ as a decoy so that he cannot have time to write his memos and leave a legacy when he dies,” Matemadanda said.

The war veterans bemoaned high levels of corruption and once again blamed a faction of the ruling party reportedly pushing for First Lady Grace to take over from her ailing husband for the internal strife rocking Zanu PF and the country in general.

The ex-freedom fighters said they would vote for competent candidates in the next elections as opposed to supporting Zanu PF candidates.

“We have been voting people into power because they have been coming from the political parties that we were in,” Matemadanda said.

“Even when you know that the person is not the right candidate, you were forced to vote for that person because of party allegiance. We are saying that has come to an end.”

ZNLWVA chairperson Christopher Mutsvangwa declared the G40 faction, reportedly fronted by Higher Education minister Jonathan Moyo and Local Government minister and party commissar Saviour Kasukuwere, the official enemy of war veterans and the people of Zimbabwe. He said the 2018 elections should be used to send G40 “packing from government”.

“G40 represents the worst of counter revolution and reactionarism … In war you are told to know your enemy. Now the whole country knows the enemy. We delivered the vote to the people and there is no weapon as powerful as the vote.

“Now the people have got their vote, they cannot be defeated. What is needed is the clarity of knowing who is the enemy. Once we have the clarity, we can do what happened in Norton and what happened in Masvingo a few weeks ago,” Mutsvangwa said.

He blamed G40 for inconsistencies in the indigenisation policy, saying it was at the centre of the worsening economic crisis which had seen massive capital flight.

“The economy is a stinking criticism of those G40 people in Cabinet and we should not allow them to stay in power using the 2018 vote,” Mutsvangwa declared.

The indaba — which was attended by over 1 000 war veterans — also attracted Zapu leader Dumiso Dabengwa, Agrippa Mutambara of ZimPF and two former Zanu PF youth chairmen, Godwin Gomwe (Harare) and Godfrey Tsenengamu (Mashonaland Central), among others who were fired for supporting the ascendancy of Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

They gave solidarity messages at the indaba which was temporarily disrupted following a power outage at the venue.

The war veterans condemned First Lady Grace for saying Zimbabwe would be led by Mugabe’s corpse. The ex-fighters said such statements had the effect of ridiculing the nation.

The war veterans also had a go at Zanu PF youth secretary Kudzanai Chipanga, accusing him of trying to build a Mugabe dynasty.

Police maintained a heavy presence and kept a watchful eye some 400 metres away with two water cannons and armed riot personnel.

Mutsvangwa and Matemadanda were mobbed by hordes of war veterans who sang and danced as they walked into the venue.

The former War Veterans minister said he was humbled by the defiance shown by war veterans in the face of alleged intimidation by G40 elements who had “taken control of State House” and were “holding Mugabe hostage”.

Tsenengamu called on all those fired from the ruling party to fight to reclaim their positions from those who had “stolen” the party from its founders.

Without directly mentioning Mugabe by name, Tsenengamu challenged the war veterans to tell their “peer to go and rest” because he had walked his path and it had come to an end.

Grace dumps top allies

Hundreds of Zanu PF women’s league members yesterday called for the ouster of their deputy politburo secretary and Bulawayo Provincial Affairs minister Eunice Sandi-Moyo and treasurer Sarah Mahoka, accusing them of undermining First Lady Grace Mugabe.

By Staff Reporters

First Lady Grace Mugabe

First Lady Grace Mugabe

The placard-waving women demonstrated at various centres throughout the country, accusing the two of sabotaging Grace and making it difficult for President Robert Mugabe’s wife to carry out her functions as the women’s league boss.

The demonstrators handed written petitions to provincial chairladies calling for the ouster of the two from the women’s wing for various alleged crimes that included embezzlement of funds, in addition to disrespecting Grace and other senior party officials, including Vice-Presidents.

They accused Sandi-Moyo of setting up parallel structures and making decisions without consulting Grace, who is the secretary for women affairs in the ruling party.

Mahoka was targeted for challenging Grace in high-profile meetings and disrespecting Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa and Mugabe’s spokesperson George Charamba.

Sandi-Moyo and Mahoka were selected at the party’s last congress and will have to be removed by a congress of the full women’s league executive.

NewsDay revealed last month that a meeting had been convened to dismiss Mahoka and Sandi-Moyo for trying to block the First Lady.

The organisers of yesterday’s demonstrations were not happy with the turnout at some centres and accused party commissar Saviour Kasukuwere of sabotaging the demos.

Their next target would now be Kasukuwere, Harare provincial commissar Shadreck Mashayamombe, Masvingo commissar Jeppy Jaboon and Edson Takataka, acting Harare youth chair, among others who have all been linked to the G40 faction. Kasukuwere was not reachable for comment, but Mashayamombe said the programme was purely a women’s league issue and was unaware of how it was organised.

G40 is fighting to torpedo Mnangagwa in the Zanu PF succession race.

In Harare, about 100 placard-carrying protesters converged at the party headquarters singing liberation songs, pushing for the dismissal of the two senior party officials.

The placards carried various scathing messages: Mahoka Tapedza Newe, Undermining Amai is Treasonous, No to Sandi and Sarah Parallel Structures, Sandi Wemota dzeGamatox, We Will Clean the Party of all Sandists and Atuka maVPs Atuka vaMugabe, among others.

Mahoka allegedly challenged Grace at a meeting at the First Lady’s orphanage in Mazowe.

Harare provincial chairlady Joyce Kasinamunda was handed a petition by Manyame district chairlady Sikhumbuzo Munyawarara and promised to hand it over to Grace. She chided Mahoka and Sandi-Moyo for sabotaging Grace and called for their dismissal from the party. Kasinamunda also castigated Mahoka for showing lack of respect to Mugabe’s appointees, chief among them Mnangagwa and Charamba.

“She called the VP a duck. The VP was appointed by President Mugabe. We kept quiet and now she is sabotaging the First Lady, she has gone too far and should go,” Kasinamunda said to wild cheers from the handful of women’s league members who formed part of the protesters.

Yesterday, most women who attended the Harare demo were unaware of the purpose of the gathering. Some claimed they had been invited to be addressed by Grace, while others left when they saw placards denouncing Mahoka and Sandi-Moyo.

In Mashonaland East, protesters converged at the party offices in Marondera where women’s league provincial secretary for administration Charity Manyeruke handed over a petition to national executive member Phoebe Vhareta for delivery to Grace.

Reading the petition in front of the crowd, Manyeruke said Sandi-Moyo and Mahoka were being accused of disrespecting the First Lady as well as the Vice-Presidents.

“Sandi-Moyo and Mahoka must go immediately. Mai Sandi-Moyo wants to take over the secretariat of the women’s league, she is working in cahoots with some national members to fight the First Lady. Mai Sandi is creating parallel structures as well as running a women’s factional structure,” Manyeruke said.

Provincial acting women’s boss Beata Nyamupinga was not present at the meeting.

In Bulawayo, the women’s league was supported by members of the youth league and main wing at the provincial headquarters, Davis Hall.

Addressing the demonstrators, provincial women’s league member Mavis Nhliziyo said Bulawayo had become unstable because of Sandi-Moyo and her alleged cabal. “Matabeleland South must take its person because if she sees someone who is working better than her, she fires that person. All the structures here have been destroyed by her. All people are being fired now and then,” Nhliziyo said.

In Mashonaland West, about 300 protesters accused Mahoka and Sandi-Moyo of dividing the women’s league, disrespecting the First Lady, seeking donations on behalf of the league without the committee’s approval and demeaning Mnangagwa.

There was drama at the Zanu PF provincial offices in Chinhoyi when members aligned to Mahoka were forced to recite a slogan denouncing her, but Maggie Chidarikire refused, countering with songs like League yaramba zvemadhisinyongoro (The women’s league doesn’t entertain this nonsense).

In Masvingo, the antagonistic Zanu PF factions G40 and Team Lacoste had a rare show of unity as they coalesced against Sandi-Moyo and Mahoka at Chiefs’ Hall. The two factions that held separate meetings at the weekend united in calling for the ouster of the pair.
The situation was the same in Mutare and other provinces.

The demonstrations were reportedly co-ordinated by Kadoma businessman and former central committee member Jimayi Muduvuri. Grace is reported to have a hand in it based on reports that she wants to minimise resistance as she paves her way up to the party vice-presidency.

Contacted for comment by NewsDay, Sandi-Moyo said she had just returned from Malaysia on government business and was not aware of the demonstrations.

Mahoka’s phone number was not reachable.

‘Tsvangirai to lead coalition’

OPPOSITION leaders yesterday took turns to endorse MDC-T president Morgan Tsvangirai as the face of an envisaged coalition of political parties ahead of next year’s harmonised elections.

BY OBEY MANAYITI

MDC - T leader Morgan Tsvangirai

MDC – T leader Morgan Tsvangirai

This came out during solidarity messages at the National Electoral Reform Agenda (Nera)-led demonstration at Freedom Square in Harare which was attended by various political parties and social movements.

The parties later petitioned the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) with a litany of demands, top among them electoral reforms.
ZimPF founder and caretaker leader Didymus Mutasa said only Tsvangirai should lead the coalition.

“We started a long time ago to say this government must go. I also said it sometime ago and if you want to know who we support, we support Tsvangirai,” Mutasa said, amid wild cheers from the gathering.

Transform Zimbabwe leader Jacob Ngarivhume said their fight was targeted at cleaning the voters’ roll and they believed in a collective fight to remove Zanu PF in next year’s elections.

“As opposition parties, we came together and agreed to fight this (electoral unevenness) together,” he said, while echoing a coalition led by Tsvangirai.

People’s Democratic Party leader Tendai Biti also said they were sending a clear message to President Robert Mugabe and his family that they were coming for them and as political parties they could serve the people well by working together to depose the Zanu PF regime.

In his address, Tsvangirai said during his countrywide tours he had heard people saying they could accept Mugabe as life president of Zanu PF and not Zimbabwe.

“We have been victims of this system for a very long time. I want to assure you that it must end,” he said.

Tsvangirai also spoke on the need for Zec to be independent, fair and desist from supporting Zanu PF.

“I want to thank you leaders for demonstrating this unity. Let it be the character and culture of our country that the people come first,” he said.

Although the youthful protesters wanted to defy the police’s stringent conditions and march into town, Tsvangirai restrained them.

“Next time we are on the streets, circumstances dictate behaviour. Are we dead? Next time we will protest going into town,” the MDC-T leader said.

Clerics Patrick Magadza, who claimed in January that Mugabe would not live beyond October 2017, and Evan Mawarire of #ThisFlag Movement, Tajamuka representatives, top MDC-T officials and other political leaders attended the demonstration.

National People’s Party (NPP) leader Joice Mujuru was conspicuous by her absence amid reports that her party had distanced itself from the protests.

But MDC-T secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora said he sought to clarify the reports and had established from Mujuru’s party that it was untrue that NPP had dismissed the protest.

In demands contained in a petition read out by Zunde’s Farai Mbira, Nera said having failed the fundamental test of impartiality and independence required of an electoral body, they were calling for Zec to disband.

Mbira said Sadc, the African Union or United Nations should immediately establish an independent tripartite election management body to take over the full functions of Zec that will start preparing on a new biometric voters’ roll, the procurement of the BVR kits, complete demilitarisation of Zec, and facilitation of thorough amendments to the Electoral Act to level the electoral process.

Police block Nera demo

POLICE have issued stringent conditions for today’s National Election Reform Agenda (Nera) organised demonstration against government’s decision to take over the procurement of biometric voter registration (BVR) kits.

BY OBEY MANAYITI

Members of the ZRP are seen at the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission offices after chairperson Rita Makarau walked out of the political dialogue platform meeting in Harare yesterday

Members of the ZRP are seen at the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission offices after chairperson Rita Makarau walked out of the political dialogue platform meeting in Harare yesterday

But Nera yesterday vowed to go ahead with the demonstration and last night said it had approached the High Court seeking to overturn the police’s stringent conditions which bar protestors from marching in the capital’s central business district.

Although police partially agreed to the planned protest, they ordered the protestors to assemble at Freedom Square opposite Rainbow Towers and send only a 10-member delegation to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) to depose a petition.

Officer Commanding Harare Central District, Chief Superintendent Jasper Chizemo said the stringent conditions should be obeyed in full, setting up a possible clash with protestors, who were threatening to disregard them.

“In terms of Section 26(6) of Posa Chapter 11.17, I impose the following conditions that 2 500 people you intend to bring into town are to gather at Robert Mugabe (Freedom) Square. 10 people to proceed to Zec offices and handover the petition,” Chizemo said, in a letter to Nera official Joelson Mugari.

“No marching or gathering in the city centre. After handing over the petition the gathering must disperse immediately.”

Police spokesperson Chief Superintendent Paul Nyathi weighed in saying police will maintain law and order in line with their constitutional mandate and will not hesitate to take action against anyone who engaged in unlawful acts of property destruction, intimidation or violence.

Previous demonstrations have turned bloody following serious clashes between police and the protestors, resulting in property being damaged.

However, MDC-T secretary general and Nera head of legal services, Douglas Mwonzora, described the conditions as unacceptable.

Mwonzora said they have since filed an urgent High Court application with the assistance of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights and will be guided by the court’s outcome.

“We don’t accept that and that is why we have taken an application to court. The good thing is that they have allowed us to do our gathering but their conditions are not acceptable,” Mwonzora said.

“It is not up to police to set up conditions which are so unreasonable because these are constitutional rights. We have emphasized that constitutional rights of Zimbabwe are not negotiable. We have gone to court and we are going to assemble at the Freedom Square and after that we will be advised by the leaders on what to do in view of what will have come out of the courts.”

During a tense meeting among political parties at the Zec offices yesterday, Mugari read out the letter to the representatives of political parties who threatened to disobey the stringent conditions set by the police.

Some even threatened to picket at the Zec headquarters.

Mugari accused police of trying to reintroduce the Statutory Instrument that was introduced by former Harare district police boss Chief Superintendent Norbert Saunyama prohibiting demonstrations in the CBD.

“They refused our conditions to gather at the Africa Unity Square and have a short march. They have their own conditions,” he said.

“If we are saying Makarau must go then we should come and picket at the Zec headquarters even for a whole week until she leaves. This will make us win our war.”

Zec has indicated its willingness to use BVR, but President Robert 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.

Government has also hijacked the purchase of the kits after initially agreeing to accept funding from the United Nations Development Programme.

Grace in fresh land grab

First Lady Grace Mugabe has reportedly renewed her bid to evict villagers at Arnold Farm in Mazowe to expand her business empire following disclosures that the Lands ministry officials this week started parcelling the farm to pave way for the First Family.

By Xolisani Ncube

First Lady Grace Mugabe

First Lady Grace Mugabe

Desperate and scared villagers, who in 2012 were thrown out of the land during the farming season, only to be returned by the courts, said Lands ministry officials accompanied by some staff from Grace’s Gushungo Dairy visited the farm, demarcating it to pave way for their operations expansion.

In 2014, the courts stopped the evictions when Grace took over the adjacent Manzou Farm and turned it into a game sanctuary until the government provided alternative land to settle the villagers who took control of the farm at the height of the farm invasions in 2000.

Grace, who has acquired vast tracts of land in Mazowe, intends to build Robert Mugabe hospitals, university and secondary school to add to the dairy farm, children’s home and elite primary school.

A villager, Leonard Mukaro, from Arnold Farm, told NewsDay that Lands ministry officials informed the villagers to leave the area as the First Family had acquired the place for their business expansion.

“We first saw them on Monday, they were busy pegging on our stands. They came again on Tuesday. Today (yesterday) they came and we had to ask one of their officials who told us that the farm has been acquired by Alpha and Omega, so we are being told to leave the area anytime. We really don’t know where to go,” Mukaro said.

He said the officials said the First Lady had purchased about 1 200 hectares of the land.

“One Tuesday, four trucks came in. One was written Alpha and Omega, while the other three had white number plates. We asked them and they said they were from the Ministry of Lands and wanted us to leave the farm because the land now belongs to Alpha and Omega,” Mukaro added.

Mashonaland Central provincial minister Martin Dinha indicated he wanted to check details with Lands minister Douglas Mombeshora, while Presidential spokesperson George Charamba could not comment as he was travelling with the President in Ezulwini, Swaziland, for a Sadc engagement.

“I will give you a written response on WhatsApp. I don’t want to be misquoted,” Dinha said, but had not responded by the time of going to print last night.

Repeated efforts to get a comment failed.

Mombeshora did not respond to clarify on the matter or the fate of the villagers who have been resisting eviction since 2009.

However, a top Lands ministry official confirmed the farm had been taken over by the First Family and a Chinese firm to establish a blasting factory, but the villagers may be spared evictions.

“The villagers were given Nyandirwe Farm, close to Manzou, but they are resisting eviction. Other villagers have since left for Nyandirwe. The Chinese want to set up a factory, obviously they will be in partnership with the First Family,” a source said.

“I don’t think the factory will affect the villagers. It is true, some Ministry of Lands officials were there accompanied by an Alpha and Omega vehicle. The staff from Alpha and Omega only wanted to show the ministry officials the place the Chinese want.”

The Mugabes reportedly own several commercial farms in Mashonaland Central and Mashonaland West provinces despite the country’s laws prohibiting multiple farm ownership.

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