Campaign News
Marry Chiwenga: Jilted wife off Zimbabwe strongman fears for her life PDF Print E-mail
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Sunday, 08 March 2020 11:42

Marry Chiwenga: Jilted wife off Zimbabwe strongman fears for her life

Jane Flanagan – 7 March 2020


Marry Chiwenga is accused of trying to murder her husband and other charges including money laundering


A divorce battle involving Zimbabwe’s feared vice-president has transfixed the country with murky allegations of attempted murder, voodoo and drug addiction.


According to Marry Chiwenga, 39, however, the reality of her estrangement from Constantino Chiwenga, the former general who toppled Robert Mugabe, is even darker.


In an interview with The Times, the former model described “feeling thrown to the wolves”, her terror following late night car chases and fears that her calls are being monitored since her 62-year-old husband demanded a divorce three months ago.


Her comments have shed rare light on the upper echelons of power in the southern African state and painted a picture of lavish wealth enjoyed by an unaccountable few, while millions lurch towards starvation and the economy withers.


“I will never be left to live in peace. It will be a life in and out of jail, or no life at all,” she said following her recent spell in prison. Mrs Chiwenga is accused of trying to murder her husband and other charges including money laundering. She insists that she is innocent.


“My protection has been taken away and if anything happened to me, there would be no witnesses. It could easily be explained away,” she said.


In papers filed to court, the couple’s wrangling over cash, a contentious 600-acre farm and luxury cars have been laid bare.


This month she is appealing to the supreme court for custody of the three children she shares with the former army chief: two boys and a girl aged nine, eight and six.


She said that being refused access to them since her arrest in December “has broken my heart open”, adding that she fears “command justice” directed from higher powers will ultimately thwart her efforts.


“It feels like David and Goliath with the state machinery being used against one woman,” she added.


Born into a wealthy family, Mrs Chiwenga met her husband a decade ago when they were neighbours in an upmarket suburb of Harare.


“I knew nothing of politics and now probably know too much,” she said in a call from the capital, where she has been staying with her mother since losing access to the family mansion. She described her relationship with President Mnangagwa, 77, as “very good”, but she is reluctant to draw him into the turmoil.


“I’ve been involved at the highest level of the ruling party for a decade and lived through Operation Restore Legacy [the Mugabe ousting]. My husband has many enemies — within his own party, the opposition party and Zimbabweans generally who are facing many challenges now. That makes me feel very vulnerable.”

Mrs Chiwenga remains a divisive figure. The designer wardrobe and extravagant lifestyle that she lost in her separation drew comparisons with Grace Mugabe, the unpopular widow of the late president.


Yet her arrest and willingness to stand up to the feared Mr Chiwenga, who has been blamed for a string of violent crackdowns, has seen the public mood soften towards her.


She dismissed the allegations that she disconnected her husband from life support equipment at a South African hospital last July, and questioned why no allegation was made against her until five months later when Mr Chiwenga demanded a divorce. “Too much of a coincidence,” she concluded.


She is also accused of illegally transferring almost US$1m (£740,000) out of Zimbabwe to buy cars and property in neighbouring South Africa without her husband’s knowledge.


Mrs Chiwenga denies laundering money and said that any cash she had access to was no secret, claiming it had come from cash allowances given to Zimbabwe’s elite.


“We all got that and if you save it all, it’s enough to buy you a property outside the country. Everybody has one,” she said.


Mr Chiwenga did not respond to a request for comments.

Why do some failing states never fail PDF Print E-mail
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Sunday, 01 March 2020 08:43


Why do some failing states never fail


With Russia’s help, corrupt regimes in Iran and Venezuela have prospered from catastrophe


Roger Boyes - Wednesday February 26 2020, 12.01am, The Times


Iran looks this week like the unluckiest country in the world. A rigged, widely boycotted parliamentary election has brought in a new cohort of hardliners. The supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is still smarting from having seen his favourite general killed by a US missile. The accidental shooting down of a Ukrainian airliner by trigger-happy Revolutionary Guards highlighted the country’s chronic failure of government.


Every extended middle-class family has a relative who wants to emigrate. Students and workers are still ready to take to the streets. To top it all, the coronavirus has claimed, by one estimate, at least 50 lives. Neighbouring countries are closing their borders, quarantining a pariah state.


Iran should be a simmering cauldron right now, on the cusp of revolutionary change. Instead, this unhappy nation is learning to live with its victimhood. The West needs to understand the deeper meaning of this apparent resilience. Led by the United States, we have been demanding that leaders in Iran, Venezuela and Syria either reverse aggressive policies or step down. The harder we push, the tougher our sanctions, the faster these failing states seem to turn into hellholes. But rather than this stoking domestic support for regime change, leaders seem to hang on to power quite comfortably.


Syria’s Bashar al-Assad may be standing on the rubble of his country but no one doubts that he will win, with Russia’s help, his final battle in Idlib. Nicolás Maduro was written off last year and the West courted a potential rival in Juan Guaidó, but Maduro’s still at the helm, even though hospitals are falling apart and people are fleeing in their millions (the number of refugees from Maduro’s misrule is expected to reach six million this year, thus overtaking even Assad’s ugly record). There are food shortages, power cuts, the currency is foundering. A cup of coffee in Caracas last year cost 450 bolivares. Now it costs 30,000.


Obviously, these are dictatorships backed by secret police, snatch squads and goons who tear out fingernails. They know how to batten down resistance. And since they still have a few bargaining chips — oil in the case of Venezuela and Iran, a naval port in Syria — they can count on the brawn of Russia.


Crucially, though, the ruling cliques have adapted to and profited from sanctions. To be head of customs in these countries is to be on the road to self-enrichment. Whole new patterns of kleptocracy have opened up. The Venezuelan economy runs on US dollars and the Maduro court, in league with criminal gangs, can turn the flow of imported goods on and off, maximising personal profit. Black marketeers and smugglers have become a new class and, together with the security establishment, see their future as linked to Maduro. To prevent the economy from being completely paralysed, Maduro’s ministers are leasing back premises expropriated by his predecessor, Hugo Chavez.


In Iran, businesses linked to the Revolutionary Guard have grown rich on the back of political connections. In Syria, the golden circle starts with the Assad clan and stretches outwards in a way that makes a nonsense of the sanctions that bar individuals from travelling to the West or accessing their bank accounts. It is a system built on trusted couriers and the active connivance of Russia. Those co-opted into the process naturally remain loyal to the regime. They take precautions — wealth is hidden, extravagant purchases are made abroad by personal shoppers — but they don’t yet fear the anger of the masses. The lesson they have learnt over the past five years is that enforced poverty depoliticises rather than radicalises the population.


Revolutions erupt because of rising but thwarted expectations. So the primary task of kleptocrats is to banish ambition. The ambitious, the able-bodied, the desperate flee the country in droves. And the leaders are OK with that, too. One day, they figure, the pressure of refugees mounting up in western countries will force the outside world to strike a deal with leaders who have demonstrated their survival skills. Allowing their states to fail gives them a perverse advantage: it makes them indispensable.


As a result many people in these miserable states don’t even pretend to trust their leaders. Better muddle through with the ruler we know, is the short-term calculation, than topple him and risk the wholesale collapse of society. They keep their focus on family, not state; the health of their children and elders. Venezuela used to have the best-funded health system in Latin America. Now nursing staff have to pump incubators by hand for newborn babies.


Such everyday tragedies have to inform our policies. There have always been reservations about sending convoys of aid to the poorest subjects in these states. The message of sanctions — stop your malign activities or we will punish you — could be undermined. Helping the downtrodden could be seen as a sign of western sentimentality rather than resolve. But we shouldn’t overthink this.


Whether in Iran, Venezuela or Syria, humanitarian aid, clearly marked as coming from a concerned international community, should be part of our response to mismanaged dictatorships. It makes our argument for us: your leaders are too incompetent or too avaricious to perform the basic duties of governance. The brunt of sanctions should now fall on the main enabler of rogue states: Russia.

Report from the Bulawayo Pastor – October 2019 PDF Print E-mail
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Sunday, 27 October 2019 15:24

I greet you in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ

Wherever we go people no longer say the usual ‘How are you / I am fine.’ They go directly into talking about their problems. They say:
  • I haven’t eaten for two days, no food at all, even today.
  • We made a mistake by voting for the present government because we thought that by removing the late president things would get better, but they are worse.
  • The prices have gone up so much we can’t afford to buy; the children will die.  They can’t even go to school.
  • We can’t afford to go to hospital when we are sick because the bus fares are too high.
  • Now our money can’t buy anything.  After all this the President doesn’t say anything, nothing encouraging, no plan. At least President Mugabe would say something.
  • We don’t know what’s going to happen to the whole nation.  There’s hunger everywhere.
  • If you need anything like a birth-certificate you have to pay somebody for it.  If you don’t pay you don’t get it.
  • We are praying and praying and praying and we thank God that we are still alive. He has heard our prayers.
God has been answering many prayers:
  • Mrs Banda coming from hospital looked in her bag for her bus fare but it was gone. The tout shouted at her and threatened kick her off.  One woman from behind said, ‘Don’t cry, I will pay for you.’ Mrs Banda told her story at church on Sunday.
  • Three weeks ago I had a burden to visit a family to pray with them.  I was wondering what to bring them.  The only thing in my storeroom was a bag of maize and it was full of weevils—you couldn’t eat it—but I decided to take it anyway. When I got there they asked for food.  I did not want to give it to them but I did not have anything else.  When they opened it the maize was okay to eat and they were very happy.
  • In 2018 before the elections, a number of our pastors and their church members were drawn away with promises by Obert Mpofu to support a ZANU (PF) church.  Since the middle of this year many people have returned and last week three pastors returned.  They were interviewed by our board and they said there was nothing spiritual at the other church, there was just talk of what car you might get.  They admitted they were lost.
With this desperate situation people are going along the railway tracks to collect grain fallen from railway trucks.  The local currency has become worthless and people cannot buy from the shops anymore. We don’t know what is going to happen.

We are grateful to our donors who keep us going.  This month with funds from Zimbabwe Victims’ Support Fund we will get 19 tonnes of maize: 2t for feeding from Hillside Methodist Church; 4 tonnes for schools in Lupane and the rest for church members from Binga to Beitbridge.  The problem we are facing now is transport costs.  We can’t afford to pay for the food to be sent out.
Zimbabwe Partnership Trust and Whitestone Chapel also provide e’Pap for babies and young school children.  This has helped to keep these children healthy and alert.  Because of these feeding programmes we are able to hire the school hall for a reduced fee for church services.

Not many people were able to come to our conferences this year, due to transport costs, so we are going to send pastors out to Binga, Beitbridge, Masvingo, Plumtree, Gwanda and the Midlands instead. We managed to have a Women’s conference and studied the book of Ester, working from an excellent book provided by Pastor Kevin Thompson.

This year we have only planted one church two weeks ago at Nyathi.  There was a very good turnout and about 150 found the Lord and many sick were healed. At Killarney the school building is still dismantled and they are meeting under the trees. 
People are still being helped with money for school fees and rent from the ZVSF emergency fund.  Thanks to all donors big and small for your obedience and your compassion for this desperate community. Please pray for good gentle rains this season, seed to plant and leaders who have a heart for the people. 

Yours in Christ
Zimbabwe’s hope is devoured by the Crocodile PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 25 August 2019 09:37

IAN BIRRELL 22 August 2019

Britain’s complicity in backing another tyrant to replace Mugabe has betrayed a suffering people.

A friend of mine went to the supermarket near her home in Harare at the weekend and bought six cartons of milk, a bunch of bananas and bones for her dog. Then she braced herself for the six-hour queue at the petrol pumps and went to fill up the family saloon. By the time she arrived home, this simple excursion had cost her close to the typical monthly salary of a mid-level civil servant in Zimbabwe. “And you know what,” she added. “I’m so embarrassed since I know most of the cashiers can’t afford to shop at their store.”

Once again, this beautiful but blighted nation is in crisis. One doctor told me there were no drugs in her hospital. There is no water most of the time, the electricity cuts off 18 hours a day and many families are going hungry. A western businessman, fighting to keep his company afloat when there is no power to run his plant, no fuel to transport goods and no cash to pay staff, said one in 12 of his employees had fled the country in recent weeks. “Good luck to them,” he said ruefully. “This is the worst it has been here for more than a decade.”

How quickly that burst of optimism after the overthrow of Robert Mugabe two years ago has turned to despair. When security chiefs engineered a coup, they promised things would change after 37 years of repression, rampant corruption and gross economic ineptitude that led to the second-worst hyperinflation in history. His hands may have been stained in blood as Mugabe’s former enforcer but Emmerson Mnangagwa, the new president, declared Zimbabwe was “open for business” after taking power.

Never mind his nickname, the Crocodile, nor the shooting of citizens when an election result was delayed amid claims of fraud and voter intimidation. Mnangagwa wooed gullible foreign politicians, wore the scarf in national colours adopted by pro-democracy activists, hired public relations people to polish his image and turned up at Davos to hobnob with the global elite.

“I am working toward building a new Zimbabwe: a country with a thriving and open economy, jobs for its youth, opportunities for investors, and democracy and equal rights for all,” he claimed as he pledged reform and promised freedoms. 

But while the 95-year-old Mugabe lies sick in a Singaporean hospital, darkness has again descended on the country he helped free from British colonial rule in 1980. Rival factions in the ruling Zanu (PF) party bicker like balding men over a comb, among them allies of “Gucci” Grace, the loathed former first lady once accused of trying to poison the ruthless Mnangagwa with ice cream from her stolen dairy farm. Inflation is rocketing again, estimated to be running at 500 per cent annually, while critics are charged with sedition, activists tortured and demonstrations over a deteriorating economy are met with brutal force by baton-wielding security goons.

One United Nations agency says that within months almost half the 17 million population might struggle to eat a single meal a day in a country once called Africa’s breadbasket. The government blames drought. But the big issue is, yet again, blundering by a despotic regime focused more on plundering wealth than helping its people, symbolised by its dismal efforts to shore up the crashing new Zimdollar currency with foreign currency banned two months ago. “It is not like before when there was no food in the shops,” one Harare resident said. “Now there is plenty of food but no money to buy it. It feels surreal, more uncertain than ever.”

Many Zimbabweans are dismayed by the speed of this latest decline. But despite joyful celebrations over the November 2017 coup that ousted “the old man”, there should be no surprise over the failure to deliver a better future when the same old Zanu (PF) faces are seen in charge of their country.

Britain has joined the European Union and United States in speaking out against the human rights abuses. To our shame, however, few outsiders were more complicit in cheering on the coup and promoting Mnangagwa’s cause than British officials in their desperation to regain influence.

Three years ago our diplomats backed an attempt to bail out Mugabe’s government, to the fury of Washington, with one key player confirming to me their involvement in a misguided effort to impose monetary stability. Opposition figures believe Britain went on to back Mnangagwa actively and assist his cosmetic makeover into a reformer.

After the new president’s first 150 days in office, Boris Johnson as foreign secretary praised Zimbabwe’s “impressive progress”. One local source said a British diplomat apologised this year for their supportive stance after 17 people were killed, 16 raped and 900 arrested during a crackdown on fuel price protests.

Mnangagwa, who is 76, was linked to the worst excesses of the Mugabe era, with a history of crushing dissent despite his sudden pose as a democrat. Yet once again, Britain fell for the arrogant delusion that autocrats are a safer bet than democracy in turbulent places — just as in so many other African and Middle Eastern nations, from Egypt and Saudi Arabia through to Rwanda and Uganda. Now we see the legacy of such stupidity as Zimbabwe disintegrates, its people suffer more distress and the Crocodile devours any lingering hopes of change.

Report on the ROHR peace walk – 27th July 2019 PDF Print E-mail
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Thursday, 01 August 2019 15:19

Zimbabwe is currently under a military dictatorship since the advent of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s second republic. Since the July 2018 general election, more than 20 innocent civilians have been shot dead from behind, execution style, while fleeing soldiers. The brutal army crackdown which followed the 14 January 2019 ‘national shutdown’ has engendered a climate of fear and ordinary citizens are now resigned to suffer in silence. 

The Restoration of Human Rights (ROHR) International strongly believes that the exercise of civil liberties and political expressions should never never be about coercion, dictatorship, manipulation or blatant abuse of citizens. Rather, it should be about the people’s issues and fair play, transparency and accountability as underpinned by the rule of law, justice and peace.

This commitment to human rights and democracy prompted the organisation into a peace walk to help raise awareness and restore basic freedoms.

On 27 July 2019, twenty-one UK based human rights activists travelled long distances from across Britain, some as far away as Scotland and Middlesbrough, to walk for peace and human rights in Zimbabwe. By 8.30am, participants had gathered and by 9am, the peace walkers had started the 15 mile walk from Redbridge train station to Zimbabwe House, Charring Cross in London. Among the participants, were mothers with buggies and babies, and one lady was over 60 years, all for the love of their beloved Zimbabwe.

Despite the rain, participant morale remained high and the walk was punctuated by freedom songs and slogans all the way through. It was encouraging to note that the British public was very supportive in their comments and demeanour. “Keep fighting, Freedom will eventually come!’' were words recorded from one of the motorists; “Zimbabwe, we hear you and it will definitely make an impact”.

As we approached Victoria Park, the halfway point: the majority of the participants were tiring but with the able leadership and support of our leader, Ephraim Tapa, none gave up. Instead, all participants persevered, albeit at a slower pace, until arrival at the Strand street; where the Zimbabwe House is situated. At once, everybody felt re-energised as the walk broke into toyi-toyi. The chatting and singing became louder and the ululation rose to crescendo levels as walkers celebrated a job well done. This was a lap of victory by the participants in getting to Zimbabwe House, in defiance of all the odds staked against us. As we were being welcomed and congratulated by those at the Vigil some could not hide their tears of joy! The intrinsic value derived from walking to the final point in the fight for freedom would be invaluable, going forward.

Participant after participant, spoke of their determination to keep going as they felt emboldened to take the struggle for human rights to another level. At the end walkers agreed that next year’s effort needs to be bigger, well planned and executed to the greatest possible impact.

Recent declarations by Deputy Minister (Defence) Victor Matemadanda of Zanu PF that “We will release soldiers who are trained to kill if you demonstrate”, must be taken seriously and met with a more than equal measure of resolve, determination and self-sacrifice for the cause of human rights and people freedoms.

UK based human rights activists remain committed to bringing an end to the long suffering of the people of Zimbabwe. Truly, Zimbabwe deserves better.

All participants reached the finishing point (Zimbabwe House) with no incidents of casualties reported.

Thanks to the ROHR President, Ephraim Tapa for the vision, leadership and the support from start to finish and all those who participated!

Photos of the walk can be seen on this link:

Esther Munyira
Peace walk organiser

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