Cablegate: Zim Notes 01-29-2010
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TAGS: PGOV PREL ASEC PHUM ECON ZI
SUBJECT: ZIM NOTES 01-29-2010
ZANU-PF Says No More Concessions...
High Court Dismisses SADC Land Ruling...
Four More Farmers Harassed, Evicted, Arrested...
Constitutional Outreach Clears One Hurdle...
Civil Society Launches Constitutional Monitoring Effort...
WOZA Members Beaten, Arrested, Released...
Bennett's Trial: Whose E-mails Are They?
Court Orders Central Bank to Keep Contested Diamonds in Safe
"Revival" of Zimbabwe Iron and Steel Company Imminent...
European Union Envoys Want Sanctions Lifted on Some Parastatals...
No End in Sight for Zimbabwe's Power Blues...
On the Political and Social Front
2. The State mouthpiece, The Herald, reported this week that
following a ZANU-PF Politburo meeting -- the 49-member senior
decision-making body of the party -- the party resolved not to make
any additional concessions to the MDC in negotiations until the
"illegal? sanctions have been lifted. The announcement mirrors party
resolutions made in December at the five-year ZANU-PF Congress.
ZANU-PF has long maintained that the MDC has the capacity to
pressure the West to lift sanctions, an argument that was bolstered
by recent statements by British Foreign Secretary David Miliband who
said that the UK would consult with the MDC in determining whether
to lift sanctions.
3. High Court Justice Barack Patel on January 26 rejected the 2008
SADC Tribunal ruling that upheld the rights of a group of white
commercial farmers who lost their farms under the controversial land
reform program. Patel stated that supporting the decision would be
contrary to Zimbabwe?s domestic laws and agrarian policies and would
result in political upheaval. He added, "The greater public good
must prevail." and abiding by the SADC ruling "... would entail the
eviction, upheaval, and eventual relocation of many, if not most, of
the beneficiaries of the land reform program." SADC has not issued
any statements regarding Patel?s judgment.
4. Four white commercial farmers in the Chipinge area of
southeastern Zimbabwe were given 24 hours to vacate their farms by
local magistrate Samuel Zuze. The four farmers -- Algernon Taffs,
Dawie Joubert, Mike Odendaal, and Mike Jahme -- had been harassed by
local youths hired by the beneficiaries and Jahme and Taffs were
both evicted after Zuze refused to accept an urgent High Court stay
of execution granted on January 27. Joubert and past Commercial
Farmer?s Union President Trevor Gifford were arrested and held
overnight on contempt of court charges while attempting to protest
Zuze?s actions. Zuze himself is trying to acquire one of the farms.
(See offer letter below.)
5. Co-chair of the Parliamentary Select Committee on the
Constitution, Douglas Mwonzora (MDC-T) announced that the political
parties have agreed that two members of each of the 70 outreach
teams will now verify the official reports of their respective
Qteams will now verify the official reports of their respective
consultation meetings. The compromise resolved a dispute over who
should verify the team?s reports. Critics charge that having two
politically-linked rapporteurs defeats the purpose of a supposedly
unbiased and people-driven constitutional reform process.
Separately, Mwonzora has been charged with insulting the President
by allegedly calling Mugabe a "goblin" at a rally in 2008. If
convicted, Mwonzora would face up to one year in jail.
6. Three prominent civil society groups -- Zimbabwe Lawyers for
Human Rights, Zimbabwe Peace Project, and Zimbabwe Election Support
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Network - on January 27 held a meeting in Harare announcing the
launch of the ZZZICOMP project that will attempt to independently
monitor the upcoming constitutional outreach program. ZZZICOMP will
consist of 420 monitors who will attend all public constitutional
meetings to ascertain if the outreach process is marred by violence,
intimidation, or coercion. The monitors will not be identified and
will report their findings to both the government-led JOMIC
monitoring group and the greater public.
7. On January 25, 11 of the 200 women marching with Women of
Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) in Bulawayo were beaten by police who
disrupted the peaceful march. The women were marching to deliver a
report on the collapse of education in Zimbabwe. They were held for
several hours and then released without charge. The women were
treated for soft tissue bruising caused by the police officers?
8. On January 27, Judge Bhunu postponed the trial of Roy Bennett to
February 3 when he will rule on whether to admit e-mails allegedly
downloaded from the laptop of impeached star witness Peter
Hitschmann in 2006. The emails link Hitschmann and Bennett in a plot
to overthrow Mugabe and commit terrorist activities. Bennett?s
lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa, opposed their admission, arguing that the
court had already ruled they were inadmissible. She said the e-mails
could easily have been authored by state security agents. Hitschmann
denied any knowledge of the e-mails. Earlier this week, Judge Bhunu
ruled statements made by Hitschmann after his arrest that implicated
Bennett were inadmissible since they were the result of beatings.
On the Economic and Business Front
9. Zimbabwe?s Supreme Court has ordered the Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe to keep diamonds from Chiadzwa in safe custody, pending the
resolution of the dispute between African Consolidated Resources
(ACR) and the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC). ZMDC
began mining diamonds in Chiadzwa while ACR was contesting the
cancellation of its license in 2007. Although the court ruled that
the diamonds must be kept by a neutral party, it is not certain the
diamonds will be safe given the RBZ?s record of stealing statutory
reserves and foreign currency deposits of companies and NGOs in its
custody in recent years.
10. According to a report in The Herald, ZISCO?s re-birth is
imminent following the forwarding of two short-listed bidders to the
President. Arcelor Mittal and Jindal Steel are reportedly vying for
a stake in ZISCO. During its peak, ZISCO was one of the largest
integrated steel manufacturers in Africa with a potential to produce
between 700,000 and 1 million tons of steel and employing over 4,000
people. But years of poor management and inadequate capital took its
toll on the company, which ended up employing just 1,000 workers and
selling scrap metal accumulated over 40 years to survive.
Qselling scrap metal accumulated over 40 years to survive.
11. EU ambassadors accredited to Zimbabwe have recommended the
removal of eight state-owned enterprises, including ZISCO, ZB
Holdings, ZimRe Holdings, and the Industrial Development
Corporation, from the sanctions list in response to a request by PM
Tsvangirai. According to a report in the Financial Gazette, the move
is designed to help Zimbabwe?s recovery.
12. The Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC), a subsidiary of the
state-owned Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority, has said that the
country?s power problems will continue for some time with only one
out of six generating units at Hwange operating. The ZPC report says
that the available total internal power generation capacity is
enough to satisfy 53 percent of the forecast maximum demand, with
the bulk of supply coming from Kariba. Hwange Power Station which is
operating at just 13.4 percent capacity.
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Quote of the Week
13. The Herald caught our attention this week with an unusual
headline: "10 huts burnt in Buhera political violence." -- Further
reading reveals that the article charges MDC-T supporters of burning
the homes of ZANU-PF office holders and supporters in the area. One
traditional leader, Chief Chitsunge, reported that the attacks came
after "repeated threats by some MDC-T supporters" who had allegedly
ordered that all ZANU-PF meetings be stopped in the area. We have
yet to confirm the veracity of the report and eagerly await the day
when The Herald dedicates the same coverage to victims of ZANU-PF