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Ghosts of past massacres haunt President Mnangagwa before election

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President Emmerson Mnangagwa

President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s bid to seal his position in a July 30 election is meant to mark a break with Robert Mugabe’s violence-tainted rule. But massacres that took place decades ago are coming back to haunt him. President Emmerson Mnangagwa, a longtime Mugabe lieutenant who took over after a coup last year, narrowly avoided a grenade attack last month which wounded one of his vice presidents and a minister at a rally in Bulawayo.

He was quick to absolve the locals of any blame, pointing a finger at disgruntled Mugabe loyalists instead, but the location was significant: rights groups say army offensives in the area in the 1980s killed 20,000 people and memories remain raw.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa was in charge of national security at the time of the 1982-87 assault in Matabeleland, and analysts said the Bulawayo rally blast could have been calculated to implicate Mnangagwa’s Ndebele opponents and stir up trouble.

Asked whether Bulawayo people were responsible for the blast, Mnangagwa told state television: “The people of Bulawayo? No. They love me. (It’s) people outside Bulawayo.”

That helped ease worries of a security crackdown.

But voters in Bulawayo remain distrustful of their new leader, who is known by his nickname “Ngwena”, Shona for crocodile, an animal famed and feared in Zimbabwean lore for stealth and ruthlessness. Mnangagwa says he is soft as wool.

“It is good that Mnangagwa realises that people in Bulawayo are peaceful and will not use violence. I hope the government will not use this terrorist act as an excuse to target those who oppose this regime,” said Thamsanqa Dube, a 36-year-old resident of Emganwini suburb in Bulawayo.

The army massacres, known as ‘Gukurahundi’, Shona name for ‘early rain that washes away the chaff’, are a major reason Matabeleland’s voters have rejected Mnangagwa’s ZANU-PF party in national elections since 2000. Many of them want an apology.

With no reliable polls, it is not clear whether the area’s 861,701 votes, 15 per cent of the national total, will punish Mnangagwa any more than they did Mugabe in the past.

But in an election under international observation for the first time in years, he may need them more than Mugabe did.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s role during Gukurahundi is not clear; his critics say that at the time, his security ministry passed on intelligence used by soldiers to target victims; officials did not respond to requests for comment.

At two consecutive rallies in Gwanda town and Bulawayo on June 22 and 23, Mnangagwa did not mention the army crackdown. He instead cast himself as a reformer, promising to devolve more power and bring economic development to the region.

Although he is the front-runner in next month’s polls, he faces a substantial challenge from 40-year-old Nelson Chamisa, leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change.

An unofficial survey released in Bulawayo in early June by Mass Public Opinion Institute put Mnangagwa on 42 per cent and Chamisa on 31 per cent. Twenty-five per cent gave no preference.

That means President Emmerson Mnangagwa could do with the Matabeleland vote to get the 50-plus-one per cent required to win the first round.

In the previous election in 2013, Mugabe polled 25 per cent of the vote in Bulawayo and 40 per cent of the total Matabeleland vote. Political commentator and ZANU-PF critic Ibbo Mandaza said Mnangagwa was unlikely to fare better than Mugabe.

Political analysts also say Mnangagwa lacks Mugabe’s charisma and may struggle to connect with voters, noting he lost to a little-known opposition candidate in parliamentary polls in 2000 and 2005.

Mnangagwa, desperate to end Zimbabwe’s isolation by Western powers, has invited foreign observers, absent since 2002, and is not seen relying on the intimidation tactics and violence employed by Mugabe in the past to win the election. The run-up to the polls has been largely peaceful so far.

George Charamba, Mnangagwa’s spokesman, said the promise of more power to provinces was no political gimmick and officials were working to produce a policy on how it would be shared.

“Expectations are that by the time elections are over, the national vision on decentralisation will be presented to the new government as a blueprint for the next five years,” he said.

Devolution was made mandatory in the constitution in 2013, but ZANU-PF governments have resisted its implementation, saying it was costly for the country.

Mnangagwa’s officials declined to comment on how he would deal with Gukurahundi and did not respond to a written request to interview him.

The president’s loyalists say he is a man of his word and point to his launch of a livestock programme that gave villagers thousands of cattle in the cattle ranching in Matabeleland South Province as a sign that he cares about their welfare.

Mnangagwa promised to re-open closed industries in Bulawayo and make it Zimbabwe’s industrial hub. A hospital shut in 2004 in Bulawayo would be opened within weeks with help from Indian investors, he said and he also commissioned the construction of a stalled $1.5 billion power plant in the western Hwange town, which he said would create 7,000 jobs.

Despite the promises, to some Mnangagwa remains defined by his role during Gukurahundi.

“Mnangagwa is the face of Gukurahundi, he can’t deny that. Mugabe was the body but Emmerson is the face,” said Mbuso Fuzwayo, secretary of a Bulawayo-based group that seeks to preserve sites where massacres occurred. The group is called Ibetshu Likazulu, Ndebele for “Last Hope”.

Mugabe has called Gukurahundi a “moment of madness”.

Asked about it at the Davos meeting of world leaders in January, Mnangagwa said: “What has happened has happened. What can we do about the past?
“Wherever wrong was committed, the government of the day must apologise. Wherever any community has suffered an injury if it is that injury that has to be repaired, we do it.”

Henry Khabo, 67, from rural Bubi, 70 km (44 miles) from Bulawayo, wants an apology and reparations.

He says he was rounded up by Fifth Brigade soldiers in Bubi and airlifted to Tsholotsho, 200 km (124 miles) away, where he was tortured for days and saw bodies being dumped in a huge pit.

On the final day, together with six other men, he was lined up naked for execution by firing squad. The last thing Khabo remembers is staring at the barrel of a gun and then waking up in a hospital three days later. He had been shot but survived.

“I cannot vote for him,” said Khabo, fighting tears and pointing to a scar on his left cheek where a bullet entered and exited below the ear.

Reuters

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HEALTH

Zororo Makamba laid to rest

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Zororo Makamba

The government has announced that Zororo Makamba, Zimbabwe’s first coronavirus casualty, has been buried, a day after his death at Harare’s Wilkins Hospital.

Information ministry permanent secretary, Nick Mangwana announced that Zororo, 30, was buried Tuesday.

“All protocols in handling departed loved ones who pass on from infectious conditions were followed,” he tweeted.

Zororo’s death has exposed the Zimbabwe government’s ill-preparedness in handling the coronavirus, with the family narrating how they had been frustrated each time they sought to have the media personality treated.

The family narrated how they had been forced to look for their own ventilator and that when they found it, Wilkins Hospital, which is the main referral centre for the coronavirus, said they did not have power sockets in the media personality’s room.

Efforts to get him to another centre were also frustrated.

Zororo Makamba, famed for his explainer video series, State of the Nation with Zororo, was the son of the politician and former broadcaster, James Makamba.

Zororo Makamba reportedly travelled to New York City in the United States of America and upon his return, he had cold-like symptoms.

At the time of his return, it was suspected that Zororo Makamba had a cold since he had travelled to the US in the middle of winter.

The government has announced a number of measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus, which has so far killed 17 250 globally and infected 396 200.

But so far, the Zimbabwe government has fallen short of instituting a lockdown.NewsDay

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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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