Among other things, the opinions of a former member of the Zimbabwe Republic Police force. My take on the world in general and one thing in particular - a commentary on the current situation in Zimbabwe. I am not a journalist, nor a political activist, but I am a man with a conscience. Hence, this page is my civic responsibility. The more people that hear about the devastating rule in Zimbabwe and the problems therein, the better!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Tuesday, 12th February 2013

Howzit

Believe it or not, there was snow again last weekend, and, if the newspapers are right, there is more snow due this evening – a few inches at least…

And, I have read, the cold snap is due to continue until the end of the month.

And last week B and I celebrated my fiftieth birthday. I suppose I am now an official ‘L’ plate owner…

Recently I have had two instances where I have been accused by authorities for ‘forgetting’ something. To explain - at the beginning of this year I received a letter following an application by myself to a government office for their help. In their letter they ask for a letter from someone who has dealt with me for many years for a letter of support.

Once I had produced a letter as requested, I was dumbfounded to have the letter asked for rejected as the person had ‘forgotten’ to include information that was never asked for in the original letter!

I had to go for a chest x-ray recently. Having had the x-ray, I was accused of having ‘forgotten’ to remove my necklace. Given that the technician never said anything and that there are no signs admonishing me to remove my necklace, how could I have ‘forgotten’ to remove my necklace if I wasn’t told or reminded to do so in the first place?

And try and argue your way out of the accusation and see how far that gets you…

-o00o-

I find it almost objectionable that Kate Hoey should feel that debate is required over the downing of the two Viscounts in the late 1970s. At the time of the atrocities, not one member of the free world uttered one word with regard to the actions of the ZIPRA combatants – so why start now?

Zimbabwe and Britain are set for a new diplomatic spat over a controversial House of Commons motion by a Labour MP condemning the 1979 shooting down of a passenger plane by ZIPRA fighters.

The Air Rhodesia Viscount Flight RH827 had just taken off from Kariba when it came down on February 12, 1979, after being struck by a Strela 2 missile.

Fifty-five passengers flying to Salisbury, now Harare, and four crew members perished in the incident which came at the height of an armed resistance against white minority rule.

Now at least six British MPs have signed an Early Day Motion proposed by Vauxhall MP Kate Hoey condemning the downing of Flight RH827 – the second such attack after another incident a year earlier in which Air Rhodesia Flight RH825with 56 people on board was shot down by ZIPRA freedom fighters.

In the first attack - also in Kariba - on
September 3, 1978, 48 people were killed, 10 of them it is claimed were executed on the ground. There were eight survivors.

Hoey’s motion - which is unlikely to be debated in the Commons but aims to draw attention to the two incidents - coincides with Tuesday’s 34th anniversary of the shooting down of Flight RH827.

The motion, tabled on February 5 and titled ‘Viscount Massacres’, proposes: “That this House notes that 12 February 2013 will mark the 34th anniversary of the shooting down of Air Rhodesia Viscount Flight RH827 (the Umniati) by
members of the Zimbabwe People’s Revolutionary Army (ZIPRA) in the former Rhodesia resulting in the death of all on board; further notes that this was the second such shooting down of civilian airliners by ZIPRA and followed the shooting down of Air Rhodesia Flight RH825 (the Hunyani) by the same means on 3 September 1978; further notes that the 107 victims comprised civilian men, women and children, some of whom survived the crash of the Hunyani and were subsequently murdered on the ground by bayoneting and shooting; further notes that the victims included citizens from Switzerland, Scotland, Belgium, New Zealand, the UK and South Africa; recalls that the failure to officially condemn these atrocities, as articulated in the sermon by the late Very Reverend John da Costa known as The Deafening Silence, was an act of moral cowardice and deplores such failure; and commends the work done by Keith Nell and his Viscount Down Team to ensure that these atrocities are not forgotten and their ongoing efforts to alleviate suffering amongst the pensioner community of Zimbabwe. This motion has been signed by a total of 6 MPs.”

Early Day Motions are formal proposals submitted for debate in the House of Commons, but very few are actually debated.

The motions are used to publicise the views of individual MPs, drawing attention to specific events or campaigns, and demonstrating the extent of parliamentary support for a particular cause or point of view.

The subject is very emotive and the fact that six British MPs have associated themselves with the motion will be met with anger in Harare.

Dumiso Dabengwa, ZIPRA’s former commander, stormed on Sunday: “When it happened, it was war time.

“We are very curious... they should come in the open and say exactly what they want.” Dabengwa said worse atrocities were committed by Rhodesian forces, and that the new government in independent Zimbabwe had declared amnesty for all war crimes.

“They [former colonisers] suggested the issue of amnesty and it was taken on board. The amnesty was to make no-one responsible for crimes committed during war time.

“For them it was a way of protecting Ian Smith and company from the atrocities they committed. Since they have moved a motion, shall we go back and mention numerous occasions that they massacred our people?

“They want to start a condemnation war and we will take them on because we have the evidence where British racists and special forces did horrible things to us. Let them start the issue and we will not keep quiet.”

Tendai Kwari, the UK spokesman for the Mavambo-Kusile party led by Simba Makoni, also condemned the motion in a letter to Hoey on Sunday.

He said he was “saddened, annoyed and surprised” by the move, adding: “I would like to remind the Honourable MP that her motion is opening healing wounds, especially amongst black Zimbabweans.

“Thousands of poor Zimbabwean refugees were massacred by the Rhodesians at Tembue and Chimoio [Mozambique]. These two camps had schools and clinics and thousands of people were butchered. We also would demand for answers...”


You know, we have the war veterans crying about what they did during the bush war, but mention the word “Rhodesia” and out come the unsubstantiated allegations about atrocities purportedly carried out by the Rhodesian security forces.

How come these have never been substantiated?

And I see that ZIPRA have issued a statement that seeks to justify the downing of the Viscounts. They say that General Walls was a passenger and they were targeting him. They deny that any survivors were killed on the ground.

They even say that the civilian airliners had been painted grey to make their passage harder to follow. The exhausts of the engines of the aircraft were painted another colour to thwart the heat-seeking missiles – nothing more.

-o00o-

It would appear that not all is well in the ZANU PF camp. As each day goes by, there is a growing tension about the succession to the helm of ZANU PF. Mugabe turns 89 next week and can’t really carry on much longer…

A Zanu PF faction led by Defence minister, Emmerson Mnangagwa fears he may be the target of a suspected factional crackdown that led to the suspension of the Mike Madiro-led executive over alleged embezzlement of over $700000.

Top Zanu PF insiders yesterday told the Daily News on Sunday that there are mounting fears that a process of “freezing out” the Mnangagwa faction is starting in the wake of a damning report into financial malpractices arising from cash allegedly collected from diamond mining firms in Chiadzwa.

Until now, Mnangagwa has been a powerful figure leading the race to succeed President Robert Mugabe.

On Friday, secretary for administration, Didymus Mutasa, said to be sympathetic to the Joice Mujuru faction, served suspension letters on Madiro - a key Mnangagwa loyalist - together with youth provincial chairperson Tawanda Mukodza, youth provincial secretary for administration Mubuso Chinguno, youth provincial secretary for security Admire Mahachi and Clever Mparutsa.

All the officials were suspended from carrying any duties or activities in the name of the party.

“This is in light of the current investigations being conducted by the ZRP into allegations of fraud, corruption, theft, embezzlement, or dishonesty that have been levelled against you,” their letter of suspension said.

“By copy of this letter, therefore, you are hereby suspended with immediate effect without prejudice to any due processes that may ensue in line with the constitution of the party.”

The attempt to sideline Mnangagwa loyalists over corruption allegations will undermine his campaign that has been running for the past four years to win public support for his position as Mugabe’s heir apparent.

The strategy has been largely successful, showing growing backing for him to take over from Mugabe.

The Mnangagwa faction has been uneasy for some time that their influence could be diminished from corruption charges, which are now being handled by the police.

Mutasa said the suspensions were based on the police probe.

Now the Mnangagwa faction, which was rebuilding its base from the foiled 2004 Tsholotsho coup plot, is anxious the Defence supremo may be targeted in this latest debacle.

The 2004 plot sought to block the elevation of Mujuru to the vice presidency, and at the end, it claimed the scalp of six provincial chairpersons, including Madiro.

Ironically, investigations into the Manicaland diamond saga were reportedly initiated by Mujuru when she was the acting president during Mugabe’s annual vacation in December.

Such worries came remarkably to the fore last week, when charges against the Manicaland executive were pursued even though affidavits deposed by diamond mining executives suggested that no cash exchanged hands.

Given that the matter was brought to the attention of the police by Mutasa, who in turn alerted Mujuru, the Mnangagwa faction thinks this is just the start of a process that could be aimed at freezing the Chirimhanzu-Zibagwe legislator’s succession bid.

The faction’s concerns are growing after the ousting of the Madiro executive - which now faces criminal prosecution.

Madiro has been one of Mnangagwa’s staunchest supporters because he helped co-ordinate many schemes in the faction, having served as financial director  of the party at one point.

Faction loyalists feel that the diamonds cash scandal was a distraction, overshadowing the Mnangagwa faction’s work, including constructing the first conference centre for the party outside Harare.

“It’s pretty obvious that the political knives are out for Ngwenya (Mnangagwa),” said a Mnangagwa faction member who is also a Zanu PF consultative assembly member.

Like other aides spoken to, he also declined to be named. He claimed the suspensions were a way to wield “political knives” to attack Mnangagwa’s bid to succeed Mugabe, expressing disappointment that affidavits from diamond executives clearly stating that no cash exchanged hands were ignored.

“There is no credible evidence, all the diamond companies have said they did not give them any money, isn’t that right?” said a politburo member loyal to the Ngwena faction.

“We know their plan to suspend the suspension after the elections.

“All of the evidence confronts them, frankly... we just did not see enough time spent on discussing those issues. They just wanted to suspend them.”

A former Zanu PF provincial chairperson warned that it was such “injustices” that catalysed the so-called bhora musango strategy.

“The guys who have been loyal to Madiro can clearly see this is victimisation. Do you expect such people to campaign for the party? We are shooting ourselves in the foot here.”

Mnangagwa was unreachable yesterday.

None of the faction’s top officials have abandoned him, meaning Mujuru faction’s loyalists would have to resort to procedural tactics to try to nail him.

A distraught Madiro, who was suspended from Zanu PF for five years from 2005 but bounced back as chairperson, has pleaded his innocence, saying he is at loss of words why he has been singled out for vindictive treatment.


Mnangagwa is seen by many to just be a younger version of the dictator Mugabe, and has often shown his teeth and claws while in government. I don’t think he fears very many people – and I often wonder if he even fears Mugabe…

-o00o-

Chinamasa will say anything to still the troubled water – even if the disturbance in the water was made by him in the first place.

How can the draft constitution be ‘beautiful’? It can only be that if passed in a referendum for the Zimbabwean people.

The Draft Constitution, which is scheduled to be presented before a referendum next month, is a victory for the country owing to its defence of the national interest, a Cabinet minister has said.
 
In an interview last week, Justice and Legal Affairs Minister Patrick Chinamasa said Zimbabweans should vote for the document in the impending poll.

He said going against it would defeat the interests of Zimbabwe and the fight against imperialism.

“This is a beautiful document. If by chance it is rejected, I can assure you it will be a defeat for the interests of Zimbabweans and those who sacrificed their lives for the independence of this country,” he said.

“We have managed to protect those issues that are dear to us. The land issue is a foregone conclusion. We agreed that it is irreversible. The issues which were in contention are now history.

“We have made sure that our revolution has been consolidated.”

Chinamasa said concessions made around the devolution of power also made the proposed supreme law a worthwhile piece of legislation.

He said it was in the interest of
Zimbabwe that parties to the Global Political Agreement acceded to ensure power was delegated to the smallest unit of the country.

“As a party and Government we have always wanted to delegate duties to the smallest unit of our community throughout the country.

“We have never had problems with that arrangement as a party.”

The minister added that Zimbabweans in the Diaspora will not be barred from voting provided they are on the voters’ roll.

“We, as a Government, have never denied people in the Diaspora the chance to vote, provided these people are registered voters. Those who can afford to come and vote should do so.

People just want to make noise and most of these noises have no justification. Why should we do that? Are people asked to produce their passports so that they can cast their votes?

“All you need to do is to produce your national identification and be on the voters’ roll.” He also urged all Zanu-PF supporters to vote “Yes” during the constitutional referendum.

“People also need to realise that it is a compromise document. However, I can assure all Zimbabweans that we have successfully defended all those issues which are dear to us.

“So, it is all systems go for a ‘Yes’ vote. What we are not going to do is take our few resources to go and register people in the Diaspora to vote.

“The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) will not do that. The Registrar-General’s Department will also not do that. Let those who want to vote come and vote.”

Zimbabwe will next month hold a constitutional referendum to vote on the Draft Constitution crafted through a process led by the Constitution Select Committee.

Last week, the Draft was tabled before the House of Assembly and Senate where legislators threw their weight behind it.

President Mugabe is now expected to announce the date of the referendum.

Presenting the document in the Lower House last Wednesday, Copac co-chair Mr Douglas Mwonzora said Zimbabweans should support the Draft.

“This constitution is a very good document. It has brought national healing amongst us as legislators,” he said.

“We were always together. You would not have been able to distinguish between MDC-T and Zanu-PF officials during the (crafting) process.”

“We have shown tolerance, peace and love amongst ourselves; we have shown the oneness in nation-building during this constitution-making process.”

 
I have seen that some senior members of the MDC have seen the constitution draft as a capitulation to ZANU PF demands, whilst others say that the document is the best that they could hope for seeing as they are supping with the devil.

-o00o-

What kind of country cannot offer basic health and treatment to the people? A failed African State – and one which needs to be sorted out from tip to toe and everything and anyone in between.

Not even the President receives medical treatment in Zimbabwe!

Ministry of Health and Child Welfare has suffered serious financial prejudice from theft and fraud by its staffers, resulting in the misappropriation of $68000 and 18000 Rand.

Permanent secretary Gerald Gwinje on Friday briefed the portfolio committee on Public Accounts that the ministry has been struggling to recover the money from the employees, with some having fled the country after being reported to the police.

Appearing before the legislative committee chaired by MDC legislator for Highfield West Simon Hove, Gwinje, together with director of finance in the ministry Leonard Mabhadhi, exposed expenditure overruns, fuel usage, and cannibalism of government vehicles by the ministry’s workers.

Gwinje was asked to account for the misappropriated $68000 and 18000 Rand and another $72000 that was not accounted for from money received from Treasury.

“We made reports to the police to help recover the money and in one case someone was arrested and about $3000 was recovered but the other outstanding money is still to be recovered,” Gwinje said.

“We have now introduced courses of financial management and bookkeeping to our managers so they can know how to handle the cash.”

Gwinje said $72000 had been used to repair vehicles in the ministry and was paid to several garages in the country.

He also said some of the misappropriation happened before he was appointed permanent secretary in the ministry.

“Some of the things happened before my time and this is why some of the audits were not done, but when I was appointed in April 2009 I have tried to put tight financial systems to control the abuse of funds, and so far it has worked,” said Gwinje.

He said as a measure of controlling the abuse of fuel by senior health managers and medical officers, the ministry had introduced the use of coupons as opposed to vehicles collecting fuel from hospital tanks.

Gwinje also told the committee that he had also stopped some cases of double payment as 45 employees were receiving two salaries, one from government and the other from the Global Fund.

“This was notified during the audit and it was rectified as it was realised that it had happened for a long from 2008 before I become permanent secretary and I had to stop it because regulations do not allow that,” said Gwinje.

Hove advised Gwinje to rein-in his staff and introduce tight financial mechanisms as the public funds were being fleeced.

Gwinje admitted that the abuse was happening at the district hospitals and main referral centres as people are paying cash to hospitals to seek treatment.

The committee also complained about the attitude and arrogance that patients were being subjected to by nurses and doctors as many patients were spending long hours waiting to be treated.

“It now takes eight hours for one to be attended at the major hospitals like Parirenyatwa and Harare Central Hospital and this is the reason why the former minister of Health Herbert Ushewekunzwe once visited them in disguise and beat up nurses and doctors who were neglecting patients,” said Hove.

Gwinje admitted the problem but blamed it on the young and inexperienced staff manning the hospitals.

“We have faced challenges in that we have lost experienced staff and this is why we having these problems, but we are trying to address it by emphasising on the course of medical ethics to our trainee students,” said Gwinje.

He said the health sector was on a recovery path as most of the public hospitals had medicines and equipment that was being donated by foreign partners.

Parliament committees act as watchdogs to various government ministries and have powers to summon Cabinet ministers and senior government officials to appear before to them to answer issues and questions that are in the public interest.

Most of the meetings are open to the public for hearing with some of them being closed sessions.

The Ministry of Health and Child Welfare has suffered a lot of challenges including misappropriation of funds in hospitals.


For me, the words ‘theft’ and ‘ZANU PF’ are synonymous.

-o00o-

One student in 5 passed exams… Is this acceptable – anywhere in the world, quite apart from Zimbabwe which used to have the highest standard of education in Southern Africa?

Revelations that the much publicised poor Ordinary Level pass rate is actually the best in 12 years will do little to allay fears that Zimbabwe’s education system is free-falling.

Education minister David Coltart on Friday released statistics that showed students actually performed better last year than in the previous years, as he sought to quell criticism that he is presiding over an education system that is weakening.

The figures, provided by Zimsec, may be accurate but sadly, they won’t bring any cheer except to illustrate the crisis that is inherent in Zimbabwe’s schools.

An 18,4% pass rate is not something parents, educators and students can be proud of. Rather, it is a wake-up call that an unacceptable number of students who are sitting for the O-Level examinations are failing and therefore, something urgently needs to be done to stop that trend.

That is the important task the government, which has been underfunding the sector, should be seized with this year.

A simple examination of the learning institutions shows a lot of issues need attention. The condition of service for teachers remains a sore issue.

It’s common cause that disgruntled teachers cannot give their best to students when they are always planning strikes.

Schools lack adequate textbooks and qualified personnel after thousands of teachers left the country between 2005 and 2008.

In the farms there is chaos. Thousands of new schools that were created without planning following the land reform exercise lack the basics needed to make learning possible.

Temporary teachers who mainly teach pupils there lack basic resources such as chalk.

In towns and cities, there has been a proliferation of colleges offering secondary level studies. Little learning takes place at some of these institutions whose pupils are found roaming in the streets and cyber loafing most of the time.

These colleges need to be monitored in order to ensure that they uphold standards needed for proper learning to take place.

Instead of politicking and finger-pointing, responsible authorities should explore ways to ensure the education system is revamped as a matter of urgency.


And to think that the 18% pass rate is the best in 12 years speaks volumes… Mugabe and company have got an awful lot to answer for.

They took the jewel of Africa and ruined it.

-o00o-

Take care.

‘debvhu

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