Top stories for February 21- 28

Mugabe celebrates 90th birthday in Singapore -President Robert Mugabe celebrated his 90th birthday today but he was still in Singapore where he went to have an eye operation. His absence from the country on such an important day raised questions about his health with some reports bringing back whispers that he had probably not gone to Singapore for an eye operation but for cancer treatment. Former central bank governor Gideon Gono told United States embassy officials in 2008 that Mugabe had been diagnosed with cancer and had been given two years by his doctors. Mugabe has denied he has cancer saying in a televised interview before he left for Singapore that he was fit.

Mugabe back home
President Robert Mugabe returned home this morning from Singapore where he had gone to have an eye operation. Speculation about his health had started doing the rounds in the media after he failed to return home yesterday to mark his 90th birthday. All eyes were now focussed on whether he would be able to attend the big bash at Marondera tomorrow. The birthday party has been reported to have cost close to US$1 million. An unnamed South African diamond dealer is reported to have contributed to both Mugabe's birthday and his daughter, Bona's wedding.

 

Mugabe says West and MDC don't know what hit them
President Robert Mugabe today said the Movement for Democratic Change and the West do not know what hit them and were totally caught by surprise when the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front won last year's elections. "Yakava mheni yaChaminuka yakarova zvikatadza kuzivikanwa kuti zvauya sei. The MDC was baffled. It was all down on the floor. Those opponents of us who imposed sanctions on us from the West were baffled.
"They refused to believe the truth: the truth that the people of Zimbabwe had — in that national thunderous voice, most resounding — decided that ZANU-PF shall be the Government of the country, not only now but also in the future to come." Speaking in Marondera at a party organised to celebrate his 90th birthday, Mugabe said: "ZANU-PF won. ZANU-PF had the support. ZANU-PF had the message. ZANU-PF had the history. ZANU-PF was the people. The people and ZANU-PF are one. You cannot separate the two. You talk to the people, the majority are ZANU-PF."

 

MDC suspends Harare councillor over sodomy allegations
The Movement for Democratic Change has suspended the councillor for Budiriro, Sydney Chirombe, over allegations of sodomy. The party said Chirombe attempted to sodomise a bus driver on a house boat on Lake Kariba at the weekend. "The MDC wishes to make it clear that it does not tolerate any immoral behaviour on the part of its officials. The councillor will be formally charged by the party and will be brought before the party's disciplinary committee for a hearing soon," the party said in a statement. Sodomy is a criminal offence in Zimbabwe. During the constitution making process the MDC advocated the legalisation of homosexuality. President Robert Mugabe is on record for saying homosexuals as worse than dogs and pigs.

 

Parliament sits for only 45 minutes
Parliament today sat for only 45 minutes and had to adjourn because there was no water at Parliament building. Speaker Jacob Mudenda warned the house when it resumed sitting at 2.15 pm today, after a week-long break, that parliament might be forced to adjourn early to ensure that "we do not run into health problems" because there was no water. The house adjourned at 3pm after the Speaker announced the appointment of Nomasonto Audrey Sunga as deputy clerk from 1 March. Only one legislator contributed to the President's Speech before debate moved on to the motion on the mandatory sentence for rape.

 

UK bails out Zimbabwe
The United Kingdom, a sworn enemy of Zimbabwe on paper, today bailed out the Zimbabwean government by providing funding for the Basic Education Assistance Module which was suspended last month because of lack of funding. A statement from the UK's Department for International Development circulated by former Education Minister David Coltart said the DFID will provide US$10 million next month to benefit 250 000 pupils at 5 415 primary schools. Some 750 000 pupils were reportedly affected when the suspension of the programme was announced by Pubic Service permanent secretary Ngoni Masoka. DFID urged the government to redouble its efforts to find additional funding sources for BEAM because this was likely to be the UK's final contribution to the BEAM programme. It also welcomed the government's freeze on increases in school fees and levies for 2014 saying if the move was enforced it would reduce any fall in the number of children supported in 2014 under BEAM.

 

MP s unite against corruption
Movement for Democratic Change Member of Parliament for Kambuzuma Willias Madzimure stirred a rare moment of unity in the house on Thursday when he urged legislators to stand up against corruption, forcing everyone to stand up to sing- Kune nzira dzamasoja- a liberation song that urged the guerrillas to be upright. Introducing a motion calling for better governance, Madzimure said the legislators should unite to stamp out corruption because right now people were asking where they were when salarygate -cases where managers of state enterprises were awarding themselves hefty salaries- was taking place. Madzimure said no one was more patriotic to Zimbabwe than the other. "Individuals are corrupt as individuals and cannot hide behind their party or a faction. It is an individual who is corrupt and it is not the party or faction. As we debate this motion, we must be able to separate individuals from the parties, individuals from those factions. Huyayi tirove chidhoma pachacho kuti mai vagobuda," he said. In a tone that reflected the thrust of his motion that it was not partisan, Madzimure said people should not blame President Robert Mugabe for the current rot because he had repeatedly called for corruption to be dealt with. "Looking at the President and his age, when he says something, you do not expect him to follow you up and see what you do on a daily basis. It is an individual Minister who has been assigned the responsibility. I have heard him often enough and if people were to do the right thing, we would have started fighting corruption long back. He has said enough and it is up to us to respond. The only way we can respond is to deal with specific issues of corruption," he said.

 

Zimplats only cash cow for Implats at the moment
Zimplats, the 87 percent-owned subsidiary of Implats, South Africa's second largest platinum miner, is currently the only operation in the group that is producing platinum for sale, according to the South African daily, Business Day. The paper said all the other mines had either been shut down because of a strike by the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union or have been forced to stockpile their concentrate production because Implats' Rustenburg smelter has been closed. Platinum producers and the government of Zimbabwe are currently holding discussions about setting up a refinery in Zimbabwe. The government had given the miners a two-year deadline which expires this year but this is now being negotiated. Zimbabwe insists that it is losing out by having platinum mined in the country refined in South Africa, an argument supported by industry insiders who argue that platinum ore has several other by-products which miners are not accounting for as refining is done in South Africa. Zimbabwe imposed a 15 percent levy from January to force the platinum miners to set up a refinery in the country but the miners have complained that the levy is "punitive". According to Business Day Zimplats increased its production 58 percent to 115 200oz of platinum for the six months to the end of last December and contributed headline earnings of R246m from R73m. "Zimplats is ramping up to an annual 270,000oz of platinum production rate, which has been put in place by the phase 2 expansion at a cost of $460m. "The group's much larger Impala division — consisting of all the major deep-level shafts near Rustenburg — increased refined platinum production 6% to 389,700oz but plunged into the red, recording a R171m headline loss compared with a R942m headline profit for the six months to December 2012,"the report said.

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