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Fears of fresh unrest as Zimbabwe’s opposition plan protests

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zimbabwe protests

Zimbabweans are bracing for fresh unrest after the main opposition party unveiled plans for a series of major rallies starting this week and unions called for strike action.

Any demonstrations or industrial action will pose a new test for the ruling Zanu-PF party, which brutally suppressed a round of protests in January, leading to at least 13 deaths and hundreds of rapes and beatings.

Last month senior Zanu-PF officials said the constitution allowed the government to deploy the army to confront protesters and warned that soldiers were trained to kill. “Forewarned is forearmed,” one said, telling demonstrators to stay at home.

The opposition campaign comes as the government imposes austerity measures and attempts to launch a new currency. Millions have been hit by soaring prices of food and fuel, while foreign exchange shortages have led to a lack of vital medicines and other goods.

Nelson Chamisa, the leader of the main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change, said it was time to throw off “the yoke of bondage” of Zanu-PF, which has ruled for nearly four decades.

“We now need to do the work, roll up our sleeves and we, as a people, be our own liberators; be our own answers; be our own solutions,” he said.
Obert Masaraure, the leader of a union representing 30,000 teachers in impoverished rural areas, said his members were not intimidated.

“We remain in the trenches and will continue to fight … We will be on the streets very soon to push the government to address this issue,” he told the Guardian. “They are celebrating budget surpluses but they are not paying workers, there are no hospital medicines. They should be ashamed of themselves.”
Lawyers on Wednesday morning reported the overnight abduction and severe beating of a human rights activist by six unidentified armed men.

The protests, scheduled to start on 16 August, come over a year since Emmerson Mnangagwa won a closely fought election promising investment, transparency and “good days ahead” for the former British colony.
Mnangagwa took power after a military takeover ousted the veteran ruler Robert Mugabe in November 2017. Mugabe, 95, is receiving medical treatment in Singapore.
Zimbabwe is crippled by massive debts incurred during Mugabe’s rule and needs a multibillion-dollar bailout to prevent economic collapse. However, continuing repression and a lack of tangible political reform means there is little chance of international institutions offering major aid packages.

Though most of several hundred people detained during the unrest in January have been released, 21 activists, opposition leaders and trade unionists are facing subversion charges which could lead to lengthy sentences.

Masaraure, who has been arrested five times since December, was charged with subversion in January and rearrested in June when he failed to report to police, spending five days in prison.

“There were 54 people on the floor of one room, with one blanket. The prison [clothes] were full of lice. I got sick with a chest problem,” he said.

He says the harassment has continued. The 35-year-old says he has twice been abducted from his home in the capital, Harare, and assaulted by unidentified men who he believes were state agents, most recently in June after he organised another strike. He said eight men had taken him from his house in an unmarked car to waste ground on the outskirts of the capital where he was stripped naked, beaten with rubber whips and then left by the roadside.

“I am afraid one day I will lose my life. I am afraid for my mother, for my family. The trauma is terrible and the government is reckless, reckless against its own people,” he said.

In August 2018 six people were killed when the army cleared protesters from the centre of Harare at gunpoint. Some victims who survived the shootings are seeking compensation and justice with a class action against security forces.

Lovedale Munesi, a college teacher, needs $7,000 for an operation to remove a bullet lodged near his pelvis, restricting his mobility and causing severe pain. Forced to give up work, he is now dependent on painkillers and on his relatives.

“If I don’t get assistance any time soon, there may be no hope that I will ever work again. Life is very tough now,” the 30-year-old said.

Alison Charles last saw her brother Gavin the night before he was shot dead. The 51-year-old made a living selling fish in the central market area and was hit twice in the back, probably as he and hundreds of other stallholders, shoppers and commuters ran from advancing troops.

“The money is not important. I want justice … I walked with him to school every day. He held my hand. We don’t even know the identity of the soldier who shot him,” Charles said.

Gen Anselem Sanyatwe, the commander of the unit responsible for the killings, was forced to resign by Mnangagwa and has since been appointed an ambassador to Tanzania.

Energy Mutodi, the deputy information minister, said this was “appropriate action”.

“We have an opposition that is very imaginative in trying to create anarchy and to portray the government as violent … As a young democracy, we are learning but we don’t need to be punished for following our learning curve,” Mutodi said.

Sanyatwe has been placed under sanctions by the US.

Mnangagwa appointed a commission headed by a retired South African judge to investigate the killings. Its report, though critical of security forces, described police overwhelmed by a large and violent demonstration by opposition activists, leading to the army’s intervention. This account contrasts with the recollections of many witnesses and the Guardian’s own reporting at the time.

Doug Coltart, a human rights lawyer in Harare, said the impunity enjoyed by those responsible for the August 2018 killings raised serious concerns for the future.

“We can see a buildup now with government ministers normalising the idea that it is OK to deploy the army against protests and use live ammunition. By failing to deal with past atrocities, the likelihood of future atrocities is very apparent,” he said. The Guardian

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NEWS

Pupurai Togarepi, Lewis Matutu and Godfrey Tsenengamu booted out

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Lewis Matutu

The Zanu PF Politburo yesterday removed secretary for Youth Affairs Cde Pupurai Togarepi from the post and suspended his deputy Cde Lewis Matutu and secretary for the Commissariat Cde Godfrey Tsenengamu for a year for indiscipline.

Cde Togarepi will, however, remain a Central Committee member, while Cdes Matutu and Tsenengamu will revert to being ordinary card-carrying members.

Cdes Matutu and Tsenengamu will be required to undergo rigorous training at the Chitepo School of Ideology for three months.

The Youth League secretary for Administration Cde Tendai Chirau becomes the wing’s acting deputy secretary.

Acting secretary for Information and Publicity Cde Patrick Chinamasa said the Politburo unanimously decided that indiscipline within the party should not be tolerated.

He said: “Cde Togarepi, who was serving as the secretary for Youth League at the pleasure of the First Secretary of the party, President E.D. Mnangagwa, will with immediate effect, cease to be the secretary of the Youth League.

“As such, he is no longer a member of the Politburo, but he retains his position as Central Committee member, as you all know, he serves in the Politburo at the pleasure of the President of our party and in this case, Cde Togarepi has been relieved from this position.

“Cde Matutu and Cde Tsenengamu have been immediately removed from their positions as deputy secretary for Youth League and Political Commissar, respectively, and this will be for a period of 12 months.

“This means they will be ordinary card-carrying members of the party and after 12 months, they will be eligible to stand in any elections to any position within the party.”

Cde Patrick Chinamasa told journalists after the 336th Ordinary Session of the Politburo yesterday, the first meeting in 2020, that the Politburo discussed at length issues around a Press conference held by Cdes Matutu and Tsenengamu, purportedly in their personal capacities.

During the briefing, the pair accused three prominent businessmen of corruption but did not give incontrovertible evidence implicating the trio.

“The Politburo took note of this irregular modus operandi which is alien to the party’s way of doing its business,” said Cde Chinamasa.

“It is also important to highlight that previously it happened and the Politburo deliberated and specifically gave a directive that the youth if they have any problems which are of significance to them, they should raise them in a proper forum.”

Cde Chinamasa said Zanu PF did not tolerate corruption in whatever form, by whomsoever.

He said anyone with information implicating anyone in corruption should approach the police so that the law takes its course.

“It is important, of course, to say and emphasise that the party does not condone corruption and as you are well aware, that it has set up structures both within the party and at Government level of which these can be approached,” said Cde Chinamasa.

“We basically invite and encourage our general membership that if they are witnesses and have evidence of any corruption against whomsoever, to raise these issues with the relevant authorities, in this case, the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC), the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) and where they think it’s pertaining to senior party members, they should bring them to the party.

“Unfortunately, there has not been any evidence that has been brought to ZACC pertaining to any previous allegations and I am sure that even now, we will probably find out that the claims or allegations are unsubstantiated.

“So, in light of these developments, we felt that the departure from the violation of the directive the Politburo called for, was an act of indiscipline and that it called for severe punishment.”
The Herald

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BUSINESS

Two killed, 20 feared dead in Globe and Phoenix Mine in Kwekwe collapse

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Globe and Phoenix Mine

Two miners died and two others were injured, while more than 20 others are feared trapped underground after a tunnel at Globe and Phoenix Mine in Kwekwe collapsed yesterday.

By the time of going to print, the actual number of trapped illegal miners was not clear, but indications were that about 25 miners were underground at the time of disaster.

Chief Government Mining Engineer Michael Munodawafa, confirmed the accident, yesterday.

He said rescue efforts were ongoing.

Eng Munodafawa said mining inspectors were still trying to gain entry into the collapsed shaft through other channels.

“We can confirm that two artisanal miners died while two others were injured and taken to hospital, after a mine shaft they were working under collapsed,” he said.

“We are still to get more causalities but there is a possibility that those who are said to be missing could have found their way out through other entrances and exit points.

“We are not ruling out the fact that there could be scores others missing, but they could as well have managed to escape; we will give a final update once the operation is over.”

Various groups operating at the mine were trying to account for each other with unconfirmed reports saying at least 20 were still unaccounted for.

It also emerged yesterday that Globe and Phoenix Mine ceased operations in 2007 following an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), which showed the shafts, most of which were right underneath Kwekwe central business district (CBD) were posing danger to the city.

Kwekwe District Administrator Mr Fortune Mupungu, who is also the District Civil Protection Unit chairperson, said scores of artisanal miners were operating at the mine illegally.

Some of the artisanal miners were evicted from Gaika Mine.

“We received the sad news that several miners were trapped underground following the collapse of a shaft this morning (yesterday).

“A team which went underground to assess the situation only found two bodies,” said Mr Mupungu.

Zimbabwe Miners Federation (ZMF) president Ms Henrietta Rushwaya could not be reached for comment last night as her mobile phone was unreachable.

Police only arrived around 3 pm while officials from the Mines and Mining Development Ministry arrived at 4:30 pm.

The police were assisted by some artisanal miners to retrieve the bodies from the shaft, before loading them into their van and left.

It was a tense atmosphere with some self-styled security personnel at the scene threatening to beat anyone who dared to take photos.

Some of the artisanal miners who had gathered outside the mine were ordered to leave.

“We don’t want any pictures taken from here. Those who came out of the shafts, please go home. We have stopped operations here. We only want to see relatives of those missing, everyone let’s go,” said one of the security people.

Eyewitnesses said the two miners, whose bodies were retrieved, were crushed by a boulder which fell off the collapsing shaft.

“The two were at the entrance of the shaft so there is a boulder which fell on them as the shaft collapsed, they were cut into halves but we don’t know what became of their colleagues who were inside the shaft, about 20 of them,” said an artisanal miner, Mr Mthokozisi Moyo.

Mr Moyo said the shaft where their colleagues were trapped was over 8km long.

“From outside up to the entrance of the shaft which collapsed, we need to walk for about 4km while underground, but the shaft itself is over 8km,” he said.
The Herald

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CRIME

ZIMRA Impounds Ginimbi’s New Ferrari

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Ginimbi-Ferrari

The Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) is reported to have seized flamboyant businessman Genious Kadungure’s recently acquired Ferrari following reports that he allegedly undervalued the vehicle.

This follows after, Ginimbi, as he is affectionately known by his associates, was recently arrested for allegedly defrauding the revenue authority after ‘manufacturing’ a receipt for his Bently Continental which he recently imported from South Africa.

The revenue authority has allegedly moved to impound the businessman’s Italian luxury sports car under suspicion that he used the same modus operandi to avoid paying duty in full.

Harare regional magistrate Crispen Mberewere deferred the matter after the State led by Mr George Manokore and Sheila Mupindu opposed to granting him bail arguing that he was likely to re-offend and interfere with investigations.

In a bid to substantiate its claims, the State called the investigating officer in the matter Detective Chief Inspector Erasmus Mashawidza to testify to that effect.

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