Mozambique News Online (3) - 07/26/97

Mozambique News Online (3) - 07/26/97


Edition #3 26 July 1997

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ZIMBABWE NEWS ONLINE is written by Zimbabwean journalists living in Zimbabwe and brings you the news from their point of view. It is assembled and edited by Africa News Network, part of South Africa Contact, the former anti-apartheid movement in Denmark and publishers of i'Afrika, a quarterly magazine concentrating on Southern Africa.

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In this edition:

1. Government gets tough on HIV

2. Employers blame civil servants for strike

3. Traditional healer acquitted

4. Ruling party chiefs held hostage

5. Merger of industrial and commercial bodies called off

6. Bodies stolen from cemetery

7. Zimbabweans being robbed in Mozambique

8. Government recalls trade attaches

9. Crocodiles kill border jumper

10. Hospital clerk jailed for stealing patients' meat

11. Priest accused of rape

12. Central purchasing authority to be disbanded

13. Ministers flee from angry ex-combatants

1. Government gets tough on HIV

The Zimbabwe Government plans to amend its Criminal Law to enable the courts to hand out stiff sentences to people who infect others with the deadly HIV virus.

If Parliament approves the proposed Criminal Law Amendment Bill, those who are HIV positive and do anything that could infect others will face up to 15 years imprisonment, while those who rape will face up to 20 years in addition to the sentence imposed for the assault, regardless of whether or not they knew about their status.

Those who donate blood when they know they are HIV positive or do anything that could pass on the infection, will also be jailed for up to 15 years. However, the new provisions will not apply to lawful acts committed between people who are legally married. For HIV positive rapists the combined sentences will effectively be equivalent to life imprisonment since, even with time off for good behaviour in jail, their life expectancy in this HIV status is likely to be less than the period they will spend in jail. The new law will also make it compulsory for all rapists to be tested for HIV before they are tried.

2. Employers blame civil servants' pay hike for strikes

The recently announced 30 percent pay increase awarded civil servants by the Government is being partly blamed for the wave of strikes currently sweeping the country.

Industrialists attending the just ended Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries congress in Victoria Falls said the 30 percent awarded civil servants was now being used as a benchmark by workers in most sectors in their demands for higher salaries. Workers in sectors such as clothing, construction and security are demanding even much higher percentages, arguing that their salaries were much lower than those of civil servants.

Meanwhile, the strike by security guards has resulted in an increase in the crime rate, particularly housebreaking and theft. Police have had to deploy more of their men on patrol in an effort to keep the situation under control. And the general manager of Fawcett Security, David de Burgh-Thomas who shot and injured 18 striking security guards who tried to force their colleagues who had remained at work to join them, has been granted bail of Z$2 000 (about US$180). He was remanded to July 25.

3. Traditional healer acquitted

A traditional healer who had been facing charges of giving herbs to a Guruve villager and advising him to rape a young girl so that the herbs could work in enhancing his crop yields, has been acquitted.

A regional magistrate Mr Edison Musabayana said there was inadequate evidence to convict Stephen Mbewe (66). Rife Kagura (67), the man who raped the 13-year-old girl, was the only witness who gave evidence in Mbewe's trial. Mbewe was arrested following allegations made by Kagura in court that he raped the girl, a paternal relative, after being instructed to do so by Mbewe so as to boost his crop production. Kagura was sentenced to 10 years for the offence. The girl's pregnancy could not be terminated as doctors said it was too advanced.

4. Party chiefs held hostage

The chairman of the ruling party Zanu(PF), Joseph Msika, and a cabinet minister, Didymus Mutasa, who is the party's administrative secretary, were on July 14 held hostage for about two hours by ex-combatants in protest at the suspension of disbursement of war victims compensation funds.

The government suspended the disbursement of funds about two months ago when it was discovered that the War Victims Compensation Fund was being looted by people who never took part in the liberation war and that some of those who had taken part were inflating their compensation claims for injuries sustained during the struggle.

The situation was only contained after the Riot Police had been called. President Mugabe has since appointed a commission of inquiry to investigate the allegations of theft from the fund. Ex-combatants have demanded that the commission of inquiry should, besides looking into the beleaguered fund, also investigate the plight of ex-fighters, many of whom are living in poverty.

5. Merger of commercial and industrial bodies called off

A proposed merger between the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) and the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) has collapsed, only six months before the deal was due to be sealed.

The ZNCC pulled out of the deal saying it was doing so in the interest of its members who are predominantly from the commercial sector. The announcement, made by ZNCC president, Mr Danny Meyer on July 15, came as a shock to some members in both organisations who had anticipated the formation of a much stronger unified body.

Economic analysts believe the major difference between the two organisations revolves around the issue of tariffs. The two organisations have often clashed on the issue of tariffs, with the ZNCC proposing lower duty on imported goods while the CZI whose members are mostly manufacturers wanted higher tariffs on imported goods as a way of protecting their own products against competition. Economic analysts said a merger could have been advantageous to members of both organisations since there is a lot of duplication of effort.

6. Bodies stolen from cemetery

Two bodies were recently stolen from their graves at a cemetery in Zimbabwe's third largest city, Chitungwiza, a week after they had been buried.

Cemetery authorities suspect witchcraft as the most likely motive for the theft, but they are not ruling out the possibility that the thieves may have been after the coffins. A police superintendent, John Matiza, confirmed the incident and said investigations were being carried out. He said this was the first case of its kind in Chitungwiza. What is known to have happened in the past is the theft of flower pots from the cemetery, he said.

7. Zimbabweans being robbed in Mozambique

Several Zimbabwean motorists travelling to Malawi through Tete province in neighbouring Mozambique, are falling prey to armed robbers who dress like traffic policemen to stop the motorists.

The robbers have been in operation for several months now, and many foreigners, particularly Zimbabweans, have been robbed at gun point along this route. Last week a Zimbabwean truck driver travelling to Malawi was stopped by what he believed was a traffic policeman and robbed of Z$10 000 at gun point. Another driver who refused to stop after being flagged down by an armed robber last month was shot and injured, and his wheels punctured by gun shots, but he managed to drive on to the next town where he made a report to the police.

Armed robberies are common throughout Mozambique as many Mozambicans accessed guns during the country's civil war between Renamo and Frelimo which lasted nearly two decades.

8. Government recalls trade attaches

In an effort to inject new life into the country's economy through an intensified campaign for foreign investment, the Government has recalled all trade attaches at its foreign missions.

According to a well placed source within the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, the move follows complaints by local and foreign businessmen over lack of basic information from Zimbabwe's foreign missions on both their own as well as the host countries. The Deputy Minister of Industry and Commerce, Obert Mpofu confirmed last week that trade attaches had been recalled and that some had already arrived in the country. He said the government had adopted a more aggressive approach to economic development and had recalled its trade attaches, either for replacement or for re-orientation. He said Government had to make sure that people it sent out were familiar with current economic trends and capable of attracting foreign investment into the country.

The exercise would affect all of Zimbabwe's 37 foreign missions and is expected to be complete by September this year.

9. Crocodiles kill border jumper

A Zimbabwean attempting to illegally enter South Africa by swimming across the Limpopo River on the border between Zimbabwe and South Africa, was killed by crocodiles as his friends watched helplessly.

According to The Herald, the man was about to get to the opposite bank when a huge crocodile appeared from the water and attacked him. The man held on to a rock and as he screamed for help, more crocodiles appeared and tore him into pieces. His two colleagues who also intended to jump the border fled back to a nearby town where they made a report to the police.

Hundreds of Zimbabweans attempt each year to illegally jump the border into South Africa in search of employment.

10. Hospital clerk jailed for stealing patients' meat

A senior clerk at Mvuma Hospital, Phillip Madhovi, has been jailed for an effective 14 months for stealing meat meant for consumption by hospital patients.

Madhovi admitted in court that on January 8, this year, he bought 120kg of ration meat from Mvuma butchery, 25kg of casings and 25kg of tripe meat, but delivered to the hospital only 8kg of ration meat, 15kg of casings and 10kg of tripe. On February 19, he bought 120kg of ration meat, 25kg of casings and 25kg of tripe, but delivered only 60kg of ration meat, 10kg of casings and 10kg of tripe.

Altogether he prejudiced the hospital of Z$2 905. Madhovi pleaded to be sentenced to community service rather being jailed, saying he had already suffered enough since he had lost his job as a result of the conviction, but the magistrate dismissed the request, arguing that Madhovi had acted greedily in diverting meat meant for scores of sick people, to his wife and four children.

11. Priest accused of rape

A Catholic priest at All Souls Mission School has appeared in court facing allegations of raping a 16-year-old pupil two years ago.

Father Isdore Wensembe Mutiro (31), who was a teacher at the mission school is denying the charges. According to the prosecutor, the complainant had requested to use Fr. Mutiro's telephone to call her parents and he asked the girl to come to his office. The priest is alleged to have locked his office when the girl got in. He made advances towards the girl and when she resisted, he is alleged to have overpowered her and forced her to the ground then raped her. He threatened to kill the girl if she screamed.

The girl only reported the matter to her sister six months later, and the sister in turn made a report to the police. Mutiro is denying the charge, saying he never saw or spoke to the girl on the day of the alleged rape. His defence lawyer asked why the complainant had taken so long to report the case, and she said she had been threatened.

12. Central Purchasing Authority to be disbanded

Cabinet has decided to disband the state-run and scandal-hit Central Purchasing Authority (CPA) which has lost millions of dollars in public funds this year alone.

The move takes place amid mounting public concern over the activities of the CPA after several of its officials appeared in court for fraud. The CPA is responsible for procuring and supplying office equipment, stationery and other sundries to ministries and government departments.

However, there have been cases of massive purchases of assets by the CPA without government authority, payment vouchers have gone missing and cheques have been made to companies and individuals who have not supplied any material to the CPA. The disbanding of the authority comes at a time when some Members of Parliament have expressed concern at the management of the CPA's affairs, saying its financial administration had collapsed and chaos was reigning.

Part of the workforce is going to be re-assigned to other government departments, while others will face early retirement or be retrenched, officials in the Public Service Commission have said.

13. Ministers flee from angry ex-combatants

Three cabinet ministers, including the defence minister, had to leave a hall through the back door when angry ex-combatants they were addressing turned violent and threatened to manhandle the three ministers over the non-payment of compensation for injuries they sustained during the liberation struggle.

The meeting had been called to explain the delay in the disbursement of funds under the War Victims Compensation Fund. The ex-combatants blamed top government officials for not taking their plight seriously, and they blockaded the hall entrance through which the ministers had come in. The ministers were saved by riot police who opened the back door and escorted the ministers away in a police truck. The ministers were forced to leave their luxury Mercedes Benz cars behind.

Disbursement of the funds was stopped when it was discovered that the fund was being looted by people who never took part in the struggle. The ex-combatants blame top government officials, including ministers, for looting the fund. Meanwhile the Minister of Home Affairs, Dumiso Dabengwa, has banned demonstrations for two weeks after demonstrating ex-combatants disrupted an African - African American Summit being held in the capital, Harare.


From: (Africa_news Network) Date: Sat, 26 Jul 1997 15:52:30 +0200 Subject: ZIMBABWE NEWS ONLINE #3 Message-ID: <>

Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar

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