Zimbabwe News Roundup

State takes over Chinese mine

The state owned Zimbabwe Mining Development Corp. has taken control of Sino-Zimbabwe (Pvt) Ltd. in Marange, according to ZMDC Chairman Goodwills Masimirembwa.

The Chinese miner stopped operations last year, saying the area it had a license to mine lacked diamonds. ZMDC is recruiting other miners and carrying out further exploration. – Staff Reporter

No more gifts for judges

A Code of Ethics for judges has been launched amid concern that the judicial system had become profoundly compromised in recent years.

“Whilst the Code of Ethics provides a standard against which to assess judicial behaviour, it also serves as a guide to the judicial officers about what is and is not acceptable conduct,” said Deputy Chief Justice Luke Malaba.

The Code requires judicial officers to discharge their duties with strict impartiality, with propriety, without being influenced by any partisan interest or public clamour or fear, family, personal, social, political or other interests. It also bars them from accepting gifts.

In 2009 the government spent an estimated $800,000 on plasma TVs, Mercs, generators and other perks for judges. Senior judges received16 new Mercedes-Benz E280 cars worth an estimated $40,000 each. – Agencies

Biti faces arrest

Finance Minister Tendai Biti faces arrest after the police opened a criminal docket probing him on how he used the controversial $500-million windfall Zimbabwe got from the International Monetary Fund in 2009.

He and Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor Gideon Gono fought bitter battles to get control of this money. Biti was not available for comment, but a senior finance official said on Friday he was “not worried about it”.

Zimbabwe got $512.3-million in special drawing rights in 2009 after the IMF injected $283-billion into the global economy to provide liquidity and boost member countries’ foreign exchange reserves at the height of the financial crisis.

Biti said he was the “sole authority” on how the money would be used. Most of it would go to infrastructure development and exporters’ lines of credit. He could channel some to budgetary support. He cabinet that he wanted to use the money to clear the country’s debt arrears with international financial institutions,which tops $8-billion. – Agencies

Cops continue PM probe

The police are continuing with investigations aimed at arresting Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and his nephew Hebson Makuvise, Zimbabwe’s ambassador to Germany, on allegations of $1.5-million fraud.

It was alleged Tsvangirai double-dipped into state funds by securing first $1.5-million and then $1-million to buy an up-market house in Kew Drive in Highlands, Harare.

Criminal Investigation Department detectives opened a criminal docket and are still probing the premier in a case being handled by police commissioner-general Augustine Chihuri. CID chief superintendent Alison Nyamupaguma is leading the investigating team. – Agencies

More money for ministers

The coalition government is on a collision course with the bulk of its workers after selectively hiking earnings for government ministers and some senior employees at the expense of its hard-pressed civil servants.

The Sunday Times revealed this week that President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s administration recently hiked subsistence and travelling allowances for ministers, deputy ministers, judges, provincial governors and ministerial permanent secretaries to $105 per night, while paying no heed to demands for a salary review for its famished civil servants, who earn an average of $250 per month. The review of the senior government employees’ earnings is in addition to their monthly salaries, which average $3 000 per month. – Agencies

Foreign firms grab

Zanu (PF) is set to intensify its grab of shares in foreign owned companies through the community shares trust programme that companies have been forced to adopt.

The party is using the indigenisation drive as its latest campaign gimmick and insiders say the return of Mugabe from leave will signal the start of the onslaught.

After raiding firms like South African-owned Zimplats, Old Mutual and Meikles, the party is expected to increase pressure on foreign-owned firms to force them to parcel out shares to Mugabe’s supporters as part of its bid to avoid a defeat at the polls. – Agencies

Editors mull lawsuit

Three editors of independent Zimbabwe newspapers are contemplating taking legal action against a Zanu (PF) spin-doctor for alleging that Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai bribed them to run stories portraying him in a positive light while attacking Zanu (PF) officials.

The Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation quoted a former MDC

legislator-turned Zanu (PF) proxy, Gabriel Chaibva, naming the three editors – Brian Mangwende (Newsday), Nevanji Madanhire (Standard) and Stanley Gama (Daily News) – as having pocketed unspecified dollars from the PM, charges the three editors vehemently deny.– Radio VOP

No diamonds in Beitbridge

Mines Minister Obert Mpofu has said agovernment survey into the discovery of diamonds in Beitbridge has revealed that the border town does not have the gemstones.

“Tests by our mining engineers have confirmed that there are no diamonds in Beitbridge. Villagers were only scrambling for aquamarine,” Mpofu said in an interview. Aquamarine is a type of pale blue to green gemstone which has been used in ornamental jewellery. – Radio VOP

Dictators meet

Equatorial Guinea’s President Theodoro Nguema jetted into Harare on Monday in a visit meant to strengthen relations between the two countries, officials said.

Nguema and Mugabe developed strong ties after the Zimbabwean leader’s security agents blocked suspected mercenaries led by Simon Mann who wanted to topple Nguema.

They were arrested at Harare International airport and jailed. Zimbabwe intends to get oil from Guinea while the northern African country is hoping to get investment in manufacturing, energy and construction from Zimbabwe. – Radio VOP

Kunonga vilifies MDC

Ex-communicated Anglican bishop Nolbert Kunonga has openly

declared his support for President Mugabe and his party. He urged Zimbabweans to reject MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai and his party, saying they are an embodiment of evil.

Kunonga hailed Zanu (PF)’s determination to come up with solutions to challenges besieging the country through formulation of appropriate policies. – Zimbabwe Mail

Kaunda warns Zuma

Former Zambian president Kenneth Kaunda has warned South Africa against repeating the same mistakes that other African countries, such as Zimbabwe, had made in trying to resolve the land issue.

“To you Comrade [Jacob] Zuma, you have more serious problems than any of us – the land question. Please remember two wrongs can never make a right,” he said. “Discuss with leaders, white leaders, the problem of land. The situation here is very serious,” Kaunda told dignitaries at the former Vista University.

The elderly statesman earlier received a standing ovation as he rose to speak. “The way you handled the issue of racism – the Freedom Charter – that was a master stroke when you said it does not matter who you are, whether you are black or white,” he said. – Agencies

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