News roundup

Rix is new boss

Engineer Peter Rix has been elected new president of the Association of Consulting Engineers (ZACE).

Rix is Managing Director of Arup (Private) Limited, one of the top engineering consulting firms.

“It is good to see the engineering sector gradually picking up from the days of hyperinflation when there were no projects in Zimbabwe,” said Rix.

“There has been a serious brain drain within our important sector as a result. But I am glad that things are gradually picking up and we now have several projects being carried out by locals.”

Rukanda arrested

Paul Rukanda, the MDC Organising Secretary for Glen View South, was arrested on Wednesday on allegations of murdering a police officer nine months ago.

This brings to 27 the number of MDC members who have been arrested in this case – including Youth Assembly chair, Solomon Madzore and National Executive member, Last Maengahama. The cop died in a beer hall scuffle.

Madzore and seven others are still in remand prison, while the rest have been granted bail. Last week, a Harare magistrate ordered the State to investigate complaints that some had been assaulted by prison guards, denied medical attention and that the two ladies are being held in solitary confinement in the male section of Chikurubi Prison in cells that had raw sewage passing through.

Diamond money key

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai says that that revenue from diamonds is the key to improving the plight of civil servants who earn low wages.

“The plight of civil servants is a critical issue that requires urgent government attention. Transparency in accounting for diamond revenues will go a long way to help,” Tsvangirai said.

The PM has not been allowed to tour the Marange diamond fields. Speculation is rife that Zanu (PF) is using diamond revenues to stash away a war chest ahead of elections that could be held this year.

Japan gives $237 900

Japan has donated $237 900 for various projects in the rural areas. The new Japanese Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Yonezo Fukuda, gave $78 700 for water, sanitation and hygiene: A sustainable approach based on the development of local management capacity which is being implemented by Action Contre La Faim. Chakohwa small farmer permaculture programme for food security received $48,000, while $110 746 went to the Zimbabwe Election Support Network for its “Project for electoral education”.

Chakohwa Ward in Chimanimani District aims to improve the livelihoods of 1 000 food insecure households, focusing mainly on marginalised women, many of whom are undertaking Home-based Care for people suffering from HIV/Aids.

Worst torturers named

Zanu (PF) activists, the police and the army are the worst torturers, says Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum director Abel Chikomo.

Addressing an anti-torture training workshop for MPs last week, Chikomo said research had established that “these torturers work with state security agents when dealing with their political rivals”.

“Police are the second worst … almost all those arrested are subjected to some form of torture to make them confess,” he said.

Gukurahundi remembered

Those responsible for Gukurahundi will not escape prosecution, says Minister for Healing and Reconciliation Moses Mzila Ndlovu. The operation has been classified as genocide by the international community.

Ndlovu said efforts to bring the world’s attention to the massacres that the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace estimates killed over 20 000 people have succeeded.

“I want to assure you that one of the perpetrators of Gukurahundi will face trial someday, no doubt about it,” he said.

Mbare violence worse

An MDC-T official, forced by Zanu (PF) youths to abandon his shop in Harare, has spoken out about intensifying violence in Mbare and the “disappointing” lack of action by government.

Morgan Femai, the party’s Harare Province Chairperson, also blasted the police for allowing the youths to conduct daily meetings, where they force vendors to pay $1 each or give up some of their goods. Beatings are reportedly common at these illegal meetings.

Femai said politically motivated violence has intensified in Mbare, where gangs operate with total impunity.

The level of fear in Mbare became clear when Femai refused to name the thugs that took over his shop, saying this would make him vulnerable.

“You know what happens, when you name them they come and want to know why,” he said.

The continuing violence flies in the face of last year’s calls by the unity government for an end to politically-motivated assaults. There is a general consensus that the President and his party could end violence if they truly wanted to, by ordering the arrest and prosecution of all perpetrators. – SW Radio Africa

– All other reports by Staff Reporters.

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