Tuesday, January 31, 2012

United States Military Says Taliban Set to Retake Power

U.S. military says Taliban set to retake power: report

10:22pm EST

LONDON (Reuters) - The United States military has said in a secret report that the Taliban, backed by Pakistan, are set to retake control over Afghanistan after NATO-led forces withdraw from the country, Britain's Times of London newspaper said Wednesday.

"Many Afghans are already bracing themselves for an eventual return of the Taliban," the newspaper said, quoting the report. "Once ISAF (NATO-led forces) is no longer a factor, Taliban consider their victory inevitable," it quoted the report.

The Times said the "highly classified" report was put together by the U.S. military at Bagram air base in Afghanistan for top NATO officers last month. The BBC also carried a report on the leaked document.

Large swathes of Afghanistan have already been handed back to Afghan security forces, with the last foreign combat troops due to leave by the end of 2014.

The document cited by the Times and the BBC also stated that Pakistan's powerful security agency, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), was assisting the Taliban in directing attacks against foreign forces -- a charge denied by Islamabad.

Washington and its allies have long complained that the Taliban and other Islamist and criminal groups operate out of safe havens in tribal areas in Pakistan's west and northwest.

The document's findings were based on interrogations of more than 4,000 Taliban and al Qaeda detainees, the Times said, adding however it identified only few individual insurgents.

A State Department spokesman and Britain's Foreign Office both declined comment on the report. NATO and Pakistani officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

Despite the presence of about 100,000 foreign troops, violence in Afghanistan is at its worst since the Taliban were ousted by U.S.-backed Afghan forces in 2001, according to the United Nations.

The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) says levels of violence are falling.

Citing the same report, the BBC reported on its website that Pakistan and the ISI knew the locations of senior Taliban leaders and supported the expulsion of "foreign invaders from Afghanistan."

"Senior Taliban leaders meet regularly with ISI personnel, who advise on strategy and relay any pertinent concerns of the government of Pakistan," it said.

Pentagon officials said they had not seen the reports and could not comment on their specifics.

But Pentagon spokesman George Little said: "We have long been concerned about ties between elements of the ISI and some extremist networks."

Little said U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta "has also been clear that he believes that the safe havens in Pakistan remain a serious problem and need to be addressed by Pakistani authorities."

The Times said in its report the document suggested the Taliban were gaining in popularity partly because the austere Islamist movement was becoming more tolerant.

It quoted the report: "It remains to be seen whether a revitalized, more progressive Taliban will endure if they continue to gain power and popularity. Regardless, at least within the Taliban, the refurbished image is already having a positive effect on morale."

(Reporting by Stephen Mangan; addtional reporting by Missy Ryan in WASHINGTON; Editing by Paul Tait and Sanjeev Miglani)

As Afghanistan Soldiers Rebel U.S.-led 'Coalition' Shows Cracks

As Afghan soldiers rebel U.S.-led ‘coalition’ shows cracks

By Deirdre Griswold
Published Jan 29, 2012 6:28 PM

It was more than 10 years ago — Oct. 7, 2001, to be precise — that the Bush administration first sent troops to Afghanistan, in what it called Operation Enduring Freedom. The name was cooked up by whoever in the Pentagon comes up with such euphemisms. The only thing that has endured is war, brutal and destructive.

In fact, by June 2010 the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan had become the longest war in U.S. history.

And unless the Obama administration abandons the ambitions of the U.S. ruling class to subdue the Afghan people and turn their country into a strategic stepping stone to exploit Central and Southwest Asia, the war will go on indefinitely.

But perhaps not with what the U.S. government calls its “coalition partners” — other imperialist countries in NATO that agreed to send forces to bolster the U.S. troops there.

Every war waged by imperialist “allies” involves secret promises to share the spoils of war once they have won. But when victory is called into question, these alliances become shaky.

Right now, it is France that may be contemplating leaving the “coalition” and withdrawing its troops. There is an immediate reason: the killing of four French soldiers and the wounding of 15 others on Jan. 20 by just one soldier of the Afghan armed forces, supposed allies of the imperialists.

Just weeks earlier, two members of the French Foreign Legion had been killed, also by an Afghan soldier.

After the latest attack, French President Nicolas Sarkozy announced that France was suspending its military mission in Afghanistan, which has been training Afghan soldiers. France has almost 4,000 troops there; they were due to stay until the end of 2013. The vast majority of the people in France oppose their country’s role in the war, according to polls, and want the troops brought home now. The economic crisis in Europe undoubtedly has made the people even more war-weary.

Some 90,000 of the 130,000 foreign troops now stationed in Afghanistan come from the United States. Nearly 10,000 come from Britain, which first attempted to shoot its way into Afghanistan in the middle of the 19th century, but finally gave up after fierce resistance by the Afghan people.

The original reason given by Washington for the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan was the presumed role of Al-Qaida in the destruction of the World Trade Center and the attack on the Pentagon. Last May, U.S. Special Forces killed the leader of Al-Qaida, Osama bin Laden, as U.S. military and political leaders watched on satellite television. Bin Laden was living in Pakistan, not Afghanistan, when he was killed.

So what’s the excuse now for the U.S. to stay in Afghanistan?

Afghan soldiers take aim at ‘allies’

A report based on a secret military study conducted by the “coalition” admitted there was enormous hostility in the Afghan army to the occupying troops. “Lethal altercations are clearly not rare or isolated; they reflect a rapidly growing systemic homicide threat (a magnitude of which may be unprecedented between ‘allies’ in modern military history),” notes the report. (New York Times, Jan. 20)

The study found that between May 2007 and May 2011, at least 58 Western troops were killed in 26 separate attacks by Afghan soldiers and police. Most of the attacks had occurred after October 2009. By the end of 2011, the number was even higher.

It’s bound to increase as reports grow of U.S. soldiers desecrating the bodies of Afghans they have killed, while insulting their religion and culture.

This “coalition” report is critical of the Pentagon’s public relations department, which has tried to belittle the problem. But the report evades the real cause of the Afghan people’s animosity toward the West — putting it down to “cultural incompatibility.”

This attitude toward Afghanistan perpetuates the insults added to the injuries done to this country by Western imperialism. Afghanistan, a land at the heart of the historic Silk Road linking the Middle East and Europe to China, was from its earliest days a place where many cultures came into constant contact. “It was not only in terms of trade, money and luxury goods that the Silk Road had an overwhelming effect. It was also vitally important in the transport of ideas,” writes Bijan Omrani on the website of the U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan.

The people of Afghanistan are no less tolerant than any others toward outside cultures. What they cannot and will not accept, however, are the atrocities and vicious indignities that are inevitable when outside powers attempt to impose their will through military might.

The virtual rebellion by members of the Afghan army and police against the occupying forces merely reflects the intense hatred for these oppressors by the Afghan people as a whole.

According to costofwar.com, the war in Afghanistan has cost the U.S. almost $500 billion. The destruction done to Afghanistan and its people is incalculable. But it will take a very big struggle by the anti-war movement in the U.S. to force the capitalist government to admit its defeat and get out.
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'Some African States Used As Fronts by Europe'

‘Some African states used as fronts by Europe'

Wednesday, 01 February 2012 00:00
Munyaradzi Huni recently in ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia
Zimbabwe Herald

PRESIDENT Mugabe has said some African countries have become "just bodies" used by Europe as fronts.

He said this yesterday following what transpired at the just-ended 18th African Union summit in Addis Ababa in Ethiopia.

He said even if Africa had no means to establish a force to stop NATO from bombarding Libya, at least the continent should have protested and said "no" to the wanton killing of people and destruction of infrastructure in that country.

Speaking to journalists on arrival at the Harare International Airport yesterday, the President said the Peace and Security Commission should not have rushed to recognise Libya's National Transition Council as this was the responsibility of the AU Summit.

He described the NATO actions in Libya as criminal, adding that: "we said absolutely nothing. Even if we could not raise a force, at least we should have protested. How did we fail to say even no?"

The Head of State and Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces said the continent's founding fathers had fought to regain lost territory in Africa.

He said they fought for self-determination and non-interference, the founding principles of the Organisation of African Unity, the predecessor of the AU.

The President said the Peace and Security Commission was established to facilitate dialogue between the fighters in Libya, but it seemed "they felt intimidated into recognising the NTC".

Asked whether there was any foreign hand that could have influenced the deadlock in voting for the chairperson of the African Union Commission pitting incumbent Jean Ping of Gabon and South African Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, President Mugabe said: "Yes, there is always a foreign hand. Some African countries have become just bodies; they are fronts of Europe, fronts of France and so on."

He said Southern Africa felt Mr Ping did not handle the Libyan issue properly.

He said the summit did not have time to discuss its theme on boosting intra-trade in Africa as they focused on the political situation on the continent.

President Mugabe, however, said there was not much trade between African countries due to the products they produced and the different economic structures.

The summit ended in the early hours of yesterday as the majority of Franco-phone states continued to frustrate progress amid reports that they were taking instructions from Europe, especially France.

Instead of issuing a communiqué as is the tradition, the summit only held a poorly attended Press conference where the election of the AU Commission chairperson took centre stage.

Occupy D.C. Defies Eviction Order

Occupy DC Camps Remain As Deadline Passes

No Arrests As Of Tuesday
By Ed Payne CNN
UPDATED: 5:27 am MST January 31, 2012

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Defiant but festive, Occupy DC protesters hunkered down early Tuesday as a deadline passed for U.S. Park Police to begin enforcing a ban on camping in two Washington parks.

"We're just having a great party," said Occupy DC representative Sara Shaw. "We've camped since October so it's a lot like any other night. We're all staying awake and looking out for each other."

Until now, Occupy protesters have been allowed to remain under a Park Service interpretation that considered the activity a "24-hour vigil."

But on Friday, the National Park Service set a noon Monday deadline for protesters who have occupied the parks for months to remove their camping gear.

Park officials said protesters would be allowed to remain around the clock and keep up tents, so long as one side of each tent remains open at all times so they can see inside.

Early Tuesday morning, the scene at McPherson Park was largely quiet. Some milled around, with little hint of police presence.

"It's quiet because it's been a long day," said a person streaming the scene from the park using a wireless Internet connection "A lot of people are sleeping."

Dozens huddled under what movement members were calling their "Tent of Dreams" -- a large blue tarp draped over the statue of the park's namesake, Civil War Gen. James B. McPherson.

"Let us sleep so we can dream," they chanted.

Blue tents dotted the grounds. "Eviction?? BRING IT!!" read one cardboard sign.

Another sign, scrawled in white paint on a blue tarp, said: "Evicted from home by the banks. Evicted from the tent by the police. 99% has no safe place to rest."

The threat of arrest didn't deter many in the Occupy DC movement. Many braced for a police raid, spurred by rumors on social media. But it never came.

"If anyone can explain the source of the raid "confirmation" tonight, please provide it," the Occupy DC said on its Twitter feed. "Otherwise don't spread rumors. #occupydc"

No arrests had been made as of early Tuesday morning at McPherson Park or Freedom Plaza. Some protesters packed up the prohibited gear, but others moved in and set up camp.

"This is our final stand in a way," protester Todd Fine told CNN affiliate WJLA. "This is not camping. This is free speech. We have no other way to reach our government."

Occupy DC is part of a larger activist surge that began last year in New York and quickly spread.

While the protesters have highlighted a number of causes, the overarching theme has remained largely the same: populist anger over what activists portray as an out-of-touch corporate, financial and political elite.

Violent clashes erupted over the weekend in Oakland, California.

Protesters trying to take-over a vacant convention center threw rocks, bottles and other objects Saturday afternoon at police, who responded with bean-bag rounds, tear gas and smoke grenades. Afterward, the activists criticized police as being heavy-handed, with police and city officials said the protesters instigated the violence.

The Oakland demonstrators later got into a downtown YMCA and, eventually, City Hall. Once there, police said that protesters painted graffiti on walls, took down and burned an American flag and committed other acts of vandalism.

Oakland police Chief Howard Jordan later said about 400 demonstrators were arrested.

City Hall reopened Monday after an extensive clean-up effort.

Also on Monday, protesters in Charlotte, North Carolina, were given an afternoon deadline to remove tents from the site of the old city hall.

Police took down several tents.

"We're doing the right thing, peacefully and quietly," protester Malachi Vinson told CNN affiliate WCNC. "We're expressing ourselves in a better way than anyone else would."

CNN's Athena Jones, Joe Sutton, Courtney Battle, Paul Courson, Brian Todd and Dugald McConnell contributed to this report.

Cops Attack Occupy Protests Across the Country

Demonstrators affiliated with the Occupy movement faced challenges in several cities, including Charlotte, N.C., and Oakland, Calif.

By Seattle Times news services

WASHINGTON — Demonstrators affiliated with the Occupy movement faced challenges in several cities across the country on Monday.

In Washington, D.C., a deadline from the National Park Service for campers to remove their gear or depart from two downtown parks came and went with no immediate effort by the police to clamp down on the campers during daylight hours.

The scene stood in marked contrast to a violent confrontation 3,000 miles away over the weekend when 400 Occupy protesters in Oakland, Calif., were arrested after tearing down construction barricades. As of Monday afternoon, about 100 protesters remained in custody, according to the Alameda County Sheriff's Office, and 42 were set to be released by the end of the day. The other 58 protesters were being held on more serious misdemeanor or felony charges.

Oakland protesters and city officials blamed each other for the weekend's violence, which left three officers and at least two protesters injured.

The protest culminated in rock- and bottle-throwing and volleys of tear gas from the police, as well as a City Hall break-in that left glass cases smashed, graffiti spray-painted on the walls and, finally, flag burning.

Mayor Jean Quan referred to the vandalism at City Hall, where a case containing a model of Frank Ogawa Plaza was destroyed and a flag was burned outside, as "like a tantrum." Members of the Occupy movement, in turn, decried the actions of the police and said the focus on the damage was misplaced.

"I don't think that Mayor Quan is weighing the big picture — the small amount of destruction caused by these autonomous people that may or may not be part of Occupy Oakland, versus the kind of destruction against the environment, working people and poor people," said Wendy Kenin, 40, a spokeswoman for Occupy Oakland.

Until recently, the Park Service has largely taken a hands-off approach to the Washington camps, because there is a long-established right for protesters to hold vigil in federal parks, including long-term ones, as long as there's no camping, which it defines as, among other things, using park land for sleeping and storing personal possessions.

Occupiers in McPherson Square dragged an enormous blue tarp emblazoned with "Tent of Dreams" over a statue of Civil War Maj. Gen. James B. McPherson at the park's center.

Only a few patrol officers watched from the outskirts of the park, where the enforcement deadline had been posted in recent days. At a nearby encampment, Freedom Plaza, police kept a low profile as well. There were no confrontations during the day; instead, many demonstrators removed their camping equipment and unzipped their tents for police to inspect.

But the agency has increasingly come under criticism for allowing legal vigils to turn into permanent campsites that are not permitted under the law. Pressure on the Park Service has increased along with deteriorating conditions, including a rat infestation in McPherson Square and the discovery of an apparently abandoned infant in a tent.

On Jan. 12, Mayor Vincent Gray, a Democrat, wrote to the Park Service director, Jonathan Jarvis, complaining of "serious concerns" about health and safety problems at the sites and citing a rat problem, worries about illness and hypothermia, and other hazards.

Last week, a subcommittee of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee held a hearing in which Republicans questioned the Park Service over allowing camping to continue.

"We were under the apparent misapprehension that camping was illegal in McPherson Square, and we look forward to hearing the National Park Service explain the difference between camping and a 24-hour vigil, especially when that 24-hour vigil lasts several months," said South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy.

In North Carolina, meanwhile, Charlotte-Mecklenburg police waded into the Occupy Charlotte protest site Monday afternoon, arresting at least seven people and dismantling the campground that the group had established last fall.

Capt. Jeff Estes had given Occupy Charlotte's members "one final warning" to take down their tents and comply with an order he had given for the first time almost eight hours earlier.

Police were acting to comply with a new city ordinance that went into effect at midnight, prohibiting groups from camping on city-owned property.

In preparation for the Sept. 3 Democratic National Convention, the Charlotte City Council on Jan. 23 approved ordinances that give police more power to stop and search people during the convention and to arrest people living or sleeping on public property.

Across the country, cities have been enforcing existing ordinances, or passing new anti-camping rules, to clear out Occupy protesters.

Charlotte has said its changes protect the First Amendment, though the American Civil Liberties Union has said some of the measures go too far, including giving police power to arrest people carrying backpacks or coolers if they believe the items are being used to carry weapons.

Large protests — and some violence — have been common at political conventions, and Charlotte-Mecklenburg police say they are trying to ensure they have enough power to keep people and property safe.

Compiled from The New York Times, The Associated Press and Charlotte Observer

Let's Stand Up to the West, President Mugabe Tells African Union

Let's stand up to West

Tuesday, 31 January 2012 00:00
From Munyaradzi Huni in ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia
Zimbabwe Herald

PRESIDENT Mugabe has warned that recolonisation of Africa might take place if leaders fail to handle issues as the continent's founding fathers used to do.

He said the AU should not rush to recognise Libya's National Transitional Council, but look at exactly what happened in that country leading to the callous murder of Colonel Muammar Gadaffi.

The President said America and Europe have ran out of resources and "they will come to Africa" as the continent continues to discover more resources.

Speaking during the session on Peace and Security here yesterday, President Mugabe said Africa should have said "No, No" to the bombing of Libya by NATO.

Zimbabwe is a member of the AU Peace and Security Commission.

"We fought imperialism and colonialism and forced them out of Africa . . . Our founding fathers did not have the means, but they stood up and said ‘no' but here we are absolutely silent.

"We should have said no, no to NATO," said the President adding that due to the silence, "Gadaffi was killed in broad daylight, his children hunted like animals and then we rush to recognise the NTC."

He said it was not the mandate of the Peace and Security Commission to recognise the NTC and the summit "should look at what happened and we should be deciding whether to recognise the NTC or not."

"Well, well that was Libya. Who will be next?" asked the President.

He said NATO had now discovered that "we are toothless bulldogs" and "they can come in and out" of the continent without anyone challenging them.

"This is not what our founding fathers would have thought would happen. We don't certainly represent them properly if we take that stance. So I am saying let's look at ourselves Mr Chairman, look at ourselves and look at Europe.

"I saw a picture yesterday of Gadaffi shaking hands with Sarkozy in France after they invited him there, but those hands that Gadaffi was shaking were the hands that were going to kill him a few months later.

"How far then do we go in associating with such people?

"They have an economic crisis in Europe, they have exhausted their resources.

"Africa still has plenty of them. We are discovering more oil, more minerals, gold more diamonds. We still have our natural resources, natural gas, so another recolonisation might take place. Let us take care, all of us. It has not just happened to Gadaffi.

"America will need more oil, Europe needs more oil," he said, adding that soon after killing Gadaffi, America and Europe rushed to apportion themselves oil.

The President said he was there when the Organisation of African Unity was formed in 1963 in Ethiopia and he went on to attend its next meeting in 1964 in Cairo, Egypt, before he was arrested by the Rhodesian regime.

"You redeemed me (freeing him from jail), you redeemed Mandela and many more and we thank you because you are the successors of the founding fathers who actually did it.

"If they did it, you did it but this time there are things you are not doing which they would have done. Let us be like them," he said to thunderous applause from the delegates.

South African President Jacob Zuma was chairing the session and soon after the President's speech, a clearly livid and incoherent NTC representative took to the floor but some delegates were already walking out.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Vote for African Union Commissioner Ends in Deadlock

Vote for AU commission chief ends in deadlock

Tuesday, 31 January 2012 00:00

ADDIS ABABA - A vote by African leaders for the head of their bloc's executive ended in deadlock yesterday. Gabon's Jean Ping, who has headed the African Union Commission since 2008 and was seeking a new term, was challenged by South Africa's Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

Intense campaigns had preceded the vote and dominated the African Union summit in Addis Ababa, where leaders gathered to discuss broadening trade within Africa and tackle conflict hot spots.

"We went for an election and none of the two candidates emerged as a winner," Zambian President Michael Sata said. "The next elections will be held in June."

Deputy AU commission chief, Erastus Mwencha from Kenya, will step in until fresh polls are held during the next summit in Malawi.

Analysts say the vote for the AU agenda-setting position has exposed political fault lines between English-and French-speaking Africa, as well as between different geographic regions.

AU sources said the election was tight, with Ping holding a slender lead in three rounds of voting in which neither candidate obtained the required two-thirds majority.

Ping, led Dlamini-Zuma in the first three rounds 28 votes to 25; 27 to 26 and 29 to 24, AU sources said.

Dlamini-Zuma was then forced under AU rules to pull out, leaving Ping to face a fourth round on his own, but he still failed to muster the necessary votes in his support.

Ahead of the vote, sources said Ping had been confident of re-election, counting on support from French-speaking West and Central African countries.

However, he has appeared to have fallen foul of criticism that he performed poorly in recent crises on the continent, after a year that saw a post-election crisis in Ivory Coast as well as the Arab Spring revolutions.

Dlamini-Zuma (63), had launched a tough campaign and had the backing of the 15-member Southern African Development Community, and Pretoria lobbied hard across Africa to drum up support.

South African delegates broke into song and dance after the stalemate vote conducted at the two-day summit in the new ultra-modern AU headquarters built by the Chinese and unveiled at the weekend.

But Cilliers warned that while Dlamini-Zuma supporters were celebrating, her failure to win suggested many might oppose South Africa for the post too.

"Importantly, this result may mean that Africans don't want a key country such as South Africa in the position of chair," he said.

In a pre-vote pledge, Dlamini-Zuma said if elected, she would "spare no effort in building on the work of those African women and men who want to see an African Union that is a formidable force striving for a united, free, truly independent, better Africa."

No woman has held the post to which Ping was elected in 2008.

South Africa said late yesterday that Dlamini-Zuma will vie again for the African Union commission chief's post after her challenge against the incumbent ended in a stalemate.


Sunday, January 29, 2012

400 Arrested in Oakland Protest

Clashes at Occupy Oakland protest

By Emmett Berg
OAKLAND, Calif |
Sun Jan 29, 2012 11:20pm EST

OAKLAND, Calif (Reuters) - Crews cleaned up Oakland's historic City Hall on Sunday from damage inflicted overnight during violent anti-Wall Street protests that resulted in about 400 arrests, marking one of the largest mass arrests since nationwide protests began last year.

At a press conference on Sunday, Oakland police and city officials said they did not have a final tally of arrests. Earlier in the day, the city's emergency operations office put the figure at around 400. The skirmishes injured three officers and at least one demonstrator.

Police said a group of protesters burned an American flag in front of City Hall, then entered the building and destroyed a vending machine, light fixtures and a historic scale model of the edifice. The city's 911 emergency system was overwhelmed during the disturbances.

"While City Hall sustained damage, we anticipate that all city offices will be open for regular business tomorrow," said Deanna Santana, Oakland city administrator.

Oakland has become an unlikely flashpoint for the national "Occupy" protests against economic inequality that began last year in New York's financial district and spread to dozens of cities.

The protests in most cities have been peaceful and sparked a national debate over how much of the country's wealth is held by the richest 1 percent of the population. President Barack Obama has sought to capitalize on the attention by calling for higher taxes on the richest Americans.

Occupy protests focused on Oakland after a former Marine and Iraq war veteran, Scott Olsen, was critically injured during a demonstration in October. Protesters said he was hit in the head by a tear gas canister but authorities have never said exactly how he was hurt.

The Occupy movement appeared to lose momentum late last year as police cleared protest camps in several cities.

Violence erupted again in Oakland on Saturday afternoon when protesters attempted to take over the apparently empty downtown convention center to establish a new headquarters and draw attention to the problem of homelessness.

Police in riot gear moved in to drive back the crowd, which they estimated at about 500 protesters.


"Officers were pelted with bottles, metal pipe, rocks, spray cans, improvised explosive devices and burning flares," the Oakland Police Department said in a statement. "The Oakland Police Department deployed smoke, tear gas and beanbag projectiles in response to this activity."

Oakland Mayor Jean Quan accused a "violent splinter group" of the Occupy movement of fomenting the Saturday protests and using the city as its playground. Protesters have accused the city of overreacting and using heavyhanded tactics.

By early evening on Sunday, about 80 to 100 protesters were gathered in the plaza next to Oakland City Hall, but there was no police presence and the park was peaceful.

Oakland Police warned protesters that they would not tolerate a repeat of the protest actions on Saturday.

Tension also flared on Sunday in Washington where police used a taser on an Occupy protester during an arrest at a park near the White House, U.S. Park police said.

The National Park Service has said it will begin enforcing a ban on Occupy protesters camping overnight in McPherson Square and Freedom Plaza, two parks near the White House where they have been living since October.

That order, if carried out as promised starting at noon on Monday, could be a blow to one of the highest-profile chapters of the movement.

(Additional reporting by Barbara Goldberg in New York and Kim Dixon and Rachelle Younglai in Washington; Editing by Greg McCune and Stacey Joyce)

African Union Gets Majestic Complex From Chinese Government

African Union gets majestic complex from Chinese governmnent

Saturday, 28 January 2012 19:54
Zimbabwe Sunday Mail

The new African Union headquarters built by the Chinese. - Pic from guardian.co.uk
Munyaradzi Huni in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
President Mugabe yesterday joined other African heads of state and government to witness the official opening of the new multi-million-dollar African Union Conference Centre and Office Complex which was built by the Chinese government.

China has pledged to strengthen its “sincere and win-win” partnership with Africa and commit 600 million yuan (about US$86 million) towards the maintenance of the majestic building that is about 99,5 metres high.

Speaking at the handover of the building to the African Union Commission, the Chinese government representative, Mr Jia Qinlin, the chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, said the building was a milestone in the history of the China and
Africa relationship.

He said the decision to build the conference centre and the office complex was announced by the Chinese president in 2006 and construction of the building started in 2009.

“This building is a symbol of the deepening of relations between China and Africa. In the 21st century, the China-Africa relations should be strengthened so that we meet the challenges ahead together.

“China attaches great importance to the trade and economic trade with Africa and I am proud to announce that China has 13 billion of investment stock in Africa at the moment.

“We will continue to strengthen our sincere and win-win partnership with Africa so that we conquer the challenges ahead together,” said the representative to wild applause from the delegates.

The chairperson of the African Union, Mr Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, thanked the Ethiopian government for availing land to build the conference centre and the Chinese government for the construction of the building.

He said the building was a reflection of a new era in Africa, adding that co-operation with China was set to increase.

“For years Africa has remained a tenant in its own land, but now thanks to China we have our own headquarters. China has shown its commitment to Africa and its people. It’s clear that Africa can count on China’s support that doesn't come with conditions.

“This is because of our shared values and common history,” he said. He challenged Africa, especially the African Union Commission, to make sure that the building was well maintained, adding that member states will have to chip in with financial support for the maintenance of the conference centre and complex.

The official opening of the 18th AU Summit is set for today. Issues expected to take centre stage include the election of the chairman of the AUC, which is being contested by current chairman Jean Ping and South Africa’s Home Affairs Minister, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

The summit will also, among other issues, deliberate on issues to do with the political tension between Sudan and South Sudan, the deteriorating situation in Libya and the situation in Somalia. Civic groups from Zimbabwe, that descended on Addis Ababa hoping to tarnish the image of the country, were largely ignored as they were not allowed anywhere near the venue of the summit.

Zimbabwe, Cuba Relations Hailed

Zim, Cuba relations hailed

Saturday, 28 January 2012 19:48
Sunday Mail Reporter

Zimbabwe and Cuba should continue enhancing and widening bilateral and multilateral co-operation in areas of development and promoting the political independence of both countries, the Cuban Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Cde Enrique Antonio Prieto Lopez, said yesterday.

Speaking on the occasion to mark The First of January 53rd anniversary of the triumph of the Cuban Revolution and the 159th anniversary of the birth of the founder of the Cuban Revolution Jose Marti, Ambassador Lopez hailed the everlasting friendship between Zimbabwe and Cuba.


The event was attended by several dignitaries, among them the Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Cde Raphael Faranisi, members of the Zimbabwe-Cuba Friendship Association (Zicufa) and Cuban nationals in Zimbabwe.

“This annual activity is also dedicated to the various organisations which fight for the lifting of the US blockade against Cuba and the Western-imposed economic sanctions against Zimbabwe,” said the ambassador.

“In addition, those who advocate for the freedom of the five Cuban heroes unjustly imprisoned in the USA for preventing terrorist attacks on Cuba must be thanked for their sustained and combative support to the just causes of Cuba and Zimbabwe.”


Addressing the same gathering, president of the Zimbabwe-Cuban Association Cde Fananidzo Pesanai said Cuba, like Zimbabwe, faced Western-imposed embargos for its principled stance on the total liberation of its people.

“Your (Cuban) people have been facing internal and external hostile forces which have sought to hinder and eliminate your victorious revolution,” he said.

The head of the Zimbabwe Committee for the Liberation of the Cuban five, Cde Lovemore Gwati, also condemned the economic blockade imposed against Cuba.

“The blockade, which now enters its fifth decade, demonstrates the cruelty of the imperialist forces,” he said.

The Cuban Five were arrested after infiltrating United Sates security against the backdrop of the massive onslaught on the Cuban people.

The five — Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando González and René González — were captured by the United States in 2001 and are serving four life sentences and 75 years collectively in a US prison.

China to Promote Friendly Cooperation With Sudan

Top Chinese political advisor: China to promote friendly cooperation with Sudan

2012-01-29 08:59

ADDIS ABABA, Jan. 28 -- China will deepen its friendly cooperation with Sudan and support its efforts of maintaining national stability and developing economy, top Chinese political advisor Jia Qinglin said here on Saturday, when meeting with Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir.

"China and Sudan boast a traditional friendship and they have always trusted and understood each other despite changing international landscape and situations of both countries," said Jia, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.

"China appreciates Sudan's consistent support for China on issues of China's core interests and major concerns, and will in turn support its efforts of maintaining national stability and developing economy," he added.

Bashir said the solid friendship and fruitful results in economic cooperation between China and Sudan sets an example for South-South cooperation.

"Chinese enterprises are welcomed to invest in Sudan, and they will be protected by concrete measures," he added.

Both Jia and Bashir arrived here to attend the 18th African Union summit which will be held from Jan. 29 to 30.


11 Boko Haram Militants Slain in Nigeria

11 Boko Haram militants slain in Nigeria

Sun Jan 29, 2012 3:39AM GMT

Nigeria's army killed 11 Boko Haram militants during a gun battle at a checkpoint in the northeastern city of Maiduguri on January 28, 2012.

Nigerian troops have killed eleven members of the militant group Boko Haram during a gun battle at a checkpoint in the northeastern city of Maiduguri.

"Eleven BH (Boko Haram) members have been shot dead by the JTF (joint military taskforce) in Maiduguri today, following a shootout with the sect members at a checkpoint in a stop and search operation," field operations officer Colonel Victor Ebhamelehe said on Saturday.

He added, "One member of the sect who was wounded is receiving treatment at the hospital."

The operation came in response to a spate of attacks launched by Boko Haram militants.

Security forces in Africa's top oil producer have struggled to contain Boko Haram, which began as a movement opposed to Western cultural influences.

It has previously said that it wants to create an Islamic state in Nigeria's impoverished mainly Muslim north and has accused the government of torturing and illegally detaining Muslims and raiding Islamic schools.

Gunmen suspected to be affiliated with Boko Haram killed one officer in the northern city of Kano on Friday evening when they opened fire on a police station.

Boko Haram was also blamed for coordinated attacks on Christmas Day at a Catholic Church near the capital Abuja. At least 44 people lost their lives in the attack.

The purported head of Boko Haram, Abubakar Muhammad Shekau, threatened to kill more Nigerian security personnel and kidnap their families in an audio tape recently posted on the Internet.

Labor Unrest Continues in Nigerian Education

Still On ASUU Strike

Sunday, 29 January 2012 00:00 Editor
Nigerian Guardian

THE failure of official efforts to stop the nation-wide strike of university teachers, despite the recent passage of a bill by the Senate approving the retirement age of professors from 65 to 70 years, is disappointing.

Although the age issue is only one of the several demands of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), many Nigerians who have been concerned about the prolonged strike had hoped for a resolution. In the event, that has not happened and the collateral damages of the strike continue to pile up nearly two weeks after the bill was passed.

It would appear from the contending issues that a holistic approach is needed to resolve the problem once and for all. And university autonomy should be in the front burner having regard to its pre-eminent position among the teachers’ grievances. Government should take steps to address all outstanding issues in order to get the universities back to work without further delay.

Granted that the state of the universities in the country is appalling, ASUU should also consider the interest of students now roaming the streets, and their hapless parents. Besides, the strike can only add further dent to the country’s unenviable image arising from battered development in its education and academic sector.

About a fortnight ago, the Senate passed the bill approving a 70-year retirement age for academics in the professorial cadre, which has been one of the key demands of ASUU. It also passed another bill for an act to harmonise the retirement age of academic staff of universities, polytechnics and colleges of education. The bill states that “The compulsory retiring age of academic staff of tertiary institutions shall be 65 years, while the retiring age of academics in the universities shall be 70 years”.

Ordinarily, this ought to provide sufficient ground for ASUU to call off its nearly two months old strike. But the Union insists that the bill is not law yet, until the president assents to it. ASUU also appears to be pressing for the full implementation of the agreement it reached with the federal government in 2009. Logical as it may be, such an attitude may not be the best in the circumstance.

It is saddening that ASUU strike has become intractable and perennial, partly because government is unwilling to grant universities their autonomy. But this is damaging the country. It is a central issue that must be addressed, not in isolation, but as part of a corporate entity.

Government and ASUU should seek to resolve all outstanding issues quickly. Closing down the universities intermittently is not in the national interest, nor does it portend well for the future. The issue of autonomy has dragged on for too long. Autonomy would enable the councils to run their universities with minimum interference and more creativity. Besides, there is need to raise the standard of education, starting with facilities on the campuses. The universities need rebranding and adequate funding partly by government and partly through academic attraction, which goes with autonomy. This is in line with the practice in other countries. The ability to attract funding should be a necessary yardstick for advancement and promotion.

Government funding may be effected after due consideration of the carrying capacity of each university, followed by a calculation of what it takes to train a student in different disciplines. The aggregate would determine what it costs per university.

So far, this is not being done. The education authorities need to address it the right way, instead of the current haphazard manner. There should be an enduring system in operation. Education is too vital for the nation’s development; and it should be handled with such an appreciation.

Nigerian Union to Stop Oil Production

Nigerian union to stop oil production

Fri Jan 27, 2012 2:20AM GMT

The Nigerian army men stand guard as people protest on a major road in Lagos, Nigeria, Jan. 16, 2012.

A major oil workers' union in Nigeria has vowed to shut down all oil and natural gas production in the country if the government will not restore fuel subsidies.

The Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria announced on Thursday that it will shut down all production units on Sunday as part of a nationwide strike.

A statement by the association said that if the government does not restore the subsidies, the workers will be “forced to go ahead and apply the bitter option of ordering the systematic shutting down of oil and gas production.”

Tens of thousands of people have been protesting in Africa's biggest oil producer since the start of the year in response to the removal of the fuel subsidies, which more than doubled the petrol price to nearly 150 naira ($0.93) per liter. The weeks-long violence has left at least 12 people dead in the country.

President Goodluck Jonathan has announced the reduction of petrol prices by 30 percent to 97 naira (60 cents) per liter "after due consideration and consultations with state governors and the leadership of the National Assembly," but Nigerians rejected the government's concession insisting on 100 percent restoration of subsidies.

Nigeria produces over 2 million barrels of crude oil per day and is a key supplier to the United States, Europe and Asia.

Jonathan has said that the subsidies on fuel are unsustainable for the populous country.

His government says it will use USD 8 billion in savings to make much-needed infrastructure improvements in the country.

Somalian Radio Journalist Hassan Fantastic Killed

Somali radioman Hassan Fantastic killed

Sat Jan 28, 2012 11:57PM GMT

Unknown assailants have shot and killed the managing director of a respected private Somali radio station in front of his home in Mogadishu, Press TV reports.

Two men armed with pistols stopped Hassan Osman Abdi, the managing director of Radio Shabelle, on Saturday as he was heading home from work. The gunmen then shot him several times in the head and shoulders. Abdi died on the spot.

Muhiyadin Hassan, one of Abdi's colleagues, told Press TV that Abdi was immediately rushed to Medina hospital in southern Mogadishu. However, he was pronounced dead upon arrival.

Ahmed Haasan Ma'alin, a government security officer, confirmed the incident and blamed the al-Shabab militant group for the terrorist attack.

Radio Shabelle interrupted its programs to broadcast several verses from the Holy Qur'an as an expression of mourning for the slain 29-year-old managing director, who was popularly known as Hassan Fantastic.

Abdi was the third managing director of the Shabelle media network to be killed. Bashir Nur Gedi was killed in Mogadishu on October 19, 2007, and Mukhtar Mohamed Hirabe was assassinated in 2009.

Somalia, which has not had a functioning government since 1991, is considered one of the most dangerous places in the world for journalists.

Reporters Without Borders (Reporteurs Sans Frontieres), reported in December 2011 that 25 journalists had been killed in Somalia since 2007.

A man wearing a military uniform shot and killed a journalist working for the local Horn Cable television station on a Mogadishu street last December. And a Malaysian cameraman was gunned down in the Somali capital two months earlier.

Injured Rushed to Galkayo Hospital After Somaliland Attack

Jan 28, 2012 - 7:55:47 AM

Somalia: Injured rushed to Galkayo hospital after Somaliland attack

28 Jan 28, 2012 - 7:42:51 AM

GALKAYO, Somalia Jan 28 2012 (Garowe Online) – The injured in Thursday’s battle after Somaliland forces attacked the city of Buhodle were rushed to Galkayo hospital capital of Mudug region, Radio Garowe reports.

The three hour battle on Thursday resulted to over 80 killed for Somaliland forces after the local militia counterattacked the Somaliland forces who launched the battle at 4 pm Thursday. On the other side the local militia had 23 deaths and more than 20 injured.

The injured residents of Buhodle were rushed to Galkayo hospital which is a 3 hour drive from Buhodle. The Director of Galkayo General Hospital Ahmed Diriye Sugule who spoke to reporters said that one man aged 54, has died from his injuries.

Mr. Sugule added that the injured included 2 women and 2 children amongst the 23 men. The 2 children aged 6 and 7 and two women are in stable condition.

The Governor of Mudug Mohamed Yusuf Tigey who held a press conference today discussed the attack by Somaliland forces on residents of Buhodle calling it a shameful attack. Mr. Tigey said, “It is shameful to see the blatant attack of women and children.”

He went to add that Somaliland’s intellectuals, scholars and clan elders should tell their government to stop the bloodshed in Buhodle by Somaliland forces.

Somaliland's authority in contested regions

Somaliland’s authority is growing weaker in the contested regions of Sool, Sanag and Ayn. In Baran located in Sanag region protesters lined the streets to protest a Somaliland official who had visited the region.

Another protest in Las'anod capital of Sool region resulted in 2 deaths and 12 injured after Somaliland forces opened fire on protesters.

Buhodle the capital of Ayn region was attacked on January 15 2012, Somaliland forces have been in and around the city since then.

Puntland and Somaliland have had a territorial dispute since 2003 over the regions of Sool, Sanaag and Ayn. Although the three regions were hotly contested Las'anod was under Puntland rule until 2007 after Somaliland forces captured Las'anod and have occupied it ever since.


Oakland Cops Attack Occupy Movement, 100 Arrested

January 28, 2012 7:52 PM

Oakland police arresting about 100 protesters

Updated 11:13 PM ET

OAKLAND, Calif. - Oakland officials say police are in the process of arresting about 100 Occupy protesters for failing to disperse.

Police Sgt. Christopher Bolton says the arrests come after Occupy Oakland protesters marched through downtown Oakland a little before 8 p.m. Saturday, with some of the protesters entering a YMCA building in the city's downtown.

The arrests Saturday night come after 19 people were arrested in Occupy Oakland protests during the day.

Police used tear gas and "flash" grenades Saturday to break up hundreds of Occupy protesters after some demonstrators started throwing rocks and flares at officers and tearing down fencing.

Three officers were hurt and 19 people were arrested, the Oakland Police Department said in a release. No details on the officers' injuries were released.

Police said the group started assembling at a downtown plaza Saturday morning, with demonstrators threatening to take over the vacant Henry Kaiser Convention Center. The group then marched through the streets, disrupting traffic.

The crowd grew as the day wore on, with afternoon estimates ranging from about 1,000 to 2,000 people.

The protesters walked to the vacant convention center, where some started tearing down perimeter fencing and "destroying construction equipment" shortly before 3 p.m., the release said.

Police said they issued a dispersal order and used smoke and tear gas after some protesters pelted them with bottles, rocks, burning flares and other objects.

Most of the arrests were made when protesters ignored orders to leave and assaulted officers, the release said. By 4 p.m., the bulk of the crowd had left the convention center and headed back downtown.

The demonstration comes after Occupy protesters said earlier this week that they planned to move into a vacant building and turn it into a social center and political hub. They also threatened to try to shut down the port, occupy the airport and take over City Hall.

In a statement Friday, Oakland City Administrator Deanna Santana said the city would not be "bullied by threats of violence or illegal activity."

Interim police Chief Howard Jordan also warned that officers would arrest those carrying out illegal actions.

Oakland officials said Friday that since the Occupy Oakland encampment was first established in late October, police have arrested about 300 people.

The national Occupy Wall Street movement, which denounces corporate excess and economic inequality, began in New York City in the fall but has been largely dormant lately.

Oakland, New York and Los Angeles were among the cities with the largest and most vocal Occupy protests early on. The demonstrations ebbed after those cities used force to move out hundreds of demonstrators who had set up tent cities.

In Oakland, the police department received heavy criticism for using force to break up earlier protests. Among the critics was the mayor, who said she wasn't briefed on the department's plans. Earlier this month, a court-appointed monitor submitted a report to a federal judge that included "serious concerns" about the department's handling of the Occupy protests.

Read more: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-201_162-57367927/oakland-police-arresting-about-100-protesters/#ixzz1koyKmZ9f

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Etta James: Rebel Till The End

Etta James: Rebel Till The End

By Norman (Otis) Richmond aka Jalali

Six men are locked into a Hollywood hotel suite. One is the marvellous Marvin Gaye. The other is the suave, cosmopolitan and debonair Harvey Fugua, the legendary founder of the vocal group the Moonglows and record executive for both Chess and Motown Records. At this moment in history they are a part of Motown royalty both having married Gordy sisters.

Rhongea Southern (now Daar Malik El-Bey), Carl Dyce (the late Sigidi Abdullah), the late Harold Clayton and myself were there auditing for Motown. Gaye and Fugua are the talent scouts.

Our audition is interrupted by a long distance call from Etta James. James, who is calling all the way from Chicago. In the mid 60s this the equivalent of receiving a call from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania as far as we were concerned. We were impressed to say the least. All the guys in the group loved Ms. James. We were all from the same bowl of grits. Like us she was from Angel Town.

James lost her battle with Leukaemia on January 20,2012. She was born Jamesetta Hawkins, on January 25,1938. The Los Angeles born James is regarded as having bridged the gap between rhythm and blues and rock and roll, is the winner of six Grammys and 17 Blues Music Awards. She was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1993, the Blues Hall of fame of 2001 and the Grammy Hall of Fame both in 1999 and 2008. Rolling Stone ranked James number 22 on the list of the 100 Greatest Singers of All Time and number 62 on the list of the 100 Greatest Artists.

The outspoken James said she was of two minds about being induced into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. She made her views known in her autobiography,"Rage To Survive: The Etta James Story" which she wrote along with David Ritz.

Says James, “Part of me is thrilled to be recognized, but another part resents the lily-white institution that sends down its proclamations from on high. They decide who is rock and who isn’t , they decide who is important and who isn’t. Man, I grew up with some cats who should have been inducted years ago --- Jesse Belvin and Johnny “Guitar” Watson to name two”. It must be mentioned that Johnny Otis, the man she introduced when he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame died days before her on January 17th.

James attended Thomas Jefferson High School in Los Angeles along with Belvin and Watson. Jeff as it is called by Angeleos has a heavy weight cast of graduates: Noble Peace Prize Winner Ralph Bunche, Dorothy Dandridge, Alvin Ailey, Roy Ayers, Richard “Louie Louie” Berry also went there. Her life was surrounded by controversy. It was widely reported that she wanted to sing “At Last” at President Barack Obama’s inauguration. Beyonce ended up serenading President Obama and the First Lady Michelle Obama.

I saw her only one time in Toronto. Unfortunately, I never interviewed her. However, I have read and enjoyed Rage To Survive. The book reveals many little known things about Soul Sister James. She was once Jamesetta X when she joined the Nation of Islam at Temple Number 15 in Atlanta, Georgia. She says her mother use to know members of Temple 27 in Los Angeles. Sam Cooke, Hank Ballard, Barry White and others came to Temple 27 to hear Minister John Shabazz (who today is Abdul Allah Muhammad).

James’ life is African history at it’s best and worst -- she witnessed many major historical developments. One example: She was staying at the Hotel Theresa in Harlem when El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz (Malcolm X) met with Cuban President Fidel Castro in September 1960. Says James, “...Fidel Castro was living up in the Theresa Hotel the same time as us. They blocked off the top six floors for him --- this was in 1960 --- and had coops on the roof with live chickens so he could prepare his own food. Fidel worried about being poisoned.” This is probably why he is still in the land of the living."

After she parted company with the Nation of Islam she became part of the Ahmadiyya branch of Islam. She was influenced by her partner at the time John Lewis. “John became pious, praying five times a day. He was also urging me to become more serious. I tried and for a while I was. At the same time, running around with characters like James Brown, I got distracted.”

She was so distracted by Soul Brother Number One, that she along with Hugh Masekela, Miriam Makeba (Kwame Ture aka Stokely Carmichael) , B.B. King, Sister Sledge and Bill Withers ended up in Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo) for the "Rumble in Jungle" between Muhammad Ali and George Forman. James points out, “In fact, it was a singer Lloyd Price who had first introduced (Muhammad) Ali to (Don) King.”

However, James ended up not performing. She returned to the USA because of the treatment she received from Mobutu Sese Seko aka Joseph Mobutu, the man who played a role in the assassination of the great African patriot Patrice Emery Lumumba on January 17, 1961.

Unlike many of her contemporaries she did not write off the current crop of black music makers as untalented. "I don't subscribed to the school that says great soul music is dead. That's usually some old fart talking, remembering his youth while forgetting that new generations are entitled to cultures of their own."

James like all human beings had merits and demerits. However, the world will remember Etta James for vocal renditions of songs like "At Last", "I'd Rather Go Blind", "Sunday Kind of Love","I Just Want to Make Love to You" and "All I Could Do Was Cry".

Norman (Otis) Richmond aka Jalali can be heard on Diasporic Music on Uhuru Radio www.uhururadio.com, Sunday's 2pm to 4pm and Saturday Morning Live on Regent Radio http://www.radioregent.com/ 10am to 1pm every Saturday. The co-host of SML is Malinda Francis,@docuvixen Toronto, ON. filmmaker, telling untold stories. LiveProfile: LPL47VBO

A Political Obituary of Etta James

A Political Obituary of Etta James

Archives/Stringer by Kenyon Farrow
Tuesday, January 24 2012, 9:09 AM EST

It’s a damn shame that many people were introduced to Etta James in the years before her death last week through Beyonce’s portrayal of her in the 2008 biopic “Cadillac Records.”

No one understood the awkwardness of that casting choice better than James herself, who told The New York Post’s Page Six in 2007, when she learned the film was already in production, that “she is going to have a hill to climb, because Etta James ain’t been no angel!… I wasn’t as bourgie as she is, she’s bourgeois. She knows how to be a lady, she’s like a model. I wasn’t like that … I smoked in the bathroom in school, I was kinda arrogant.”

The woman born Jamesetta Hawkins on January 25, 1938, was far more than just a torch song singer, and was not at all the tragic mulatto with a white daddy complex that “Cadillac Records” constructed. In many ways, James’s personal and artistic journey, as opposed to the film’s caricature, has a lot to teach us about the shifting politics of race, class and feminist politics over the course of the last half century.

Etta James was born in Los Angeles, when many African Americans were moving due West to escape the brutality of the Jim Crow South and chase the promise of manufacturing jobs. She was raised by a handful of caregivers, as her mother was often running the streets chasing a good time.

Her mother was a woman James sometimes despised and at the same time desperately wanted to please. Her father’s identity was not really known to her, though it has been rumored her father was white. In fact, James learned late in life during an argument with her mother that he was likely legendary pool shark Rudolf “Minnesota Fats” Wanderone, whom James met in 1987.

At age five, James developed two relationships that would remain with her throughout her life: one relationship with singing and one with black gay men, and the LGBT community as a whole. In her 2003 autobiography Rage To Survive, James describes her first vocal coach, James Earl Hines—musical director at L.A.’s St. Paul Baptist Church and one of the the early gospel superstars—as “married, acted gay as a goose, and I was crazy about him…. Truth is, all the gay guys in the choir sang like angels, and acted so different…. I loved their little underground talk, their gossiping about the sisters.”

Though James’ formative years were spent singing in the church, she turned to the streets, and street life, for inspiration. She moved to San Francisco’s Fillmore district as an early teen, where she sang in the doo-wop group the Creolettes (which later become The Peaches) and recorded on Modern Records, before leaving in 1960 to sign with the legendary Chess Records (which the film “Cadillac Records” attempts to profile). Her debut album “At Last!” was released the same year, when she was 22 years old.

Unlike most artists who work for many years before writing or recording their “definitive” work, James is most remembered for songs from this debut album, including “At Last” (though it was not a crossover single) and “I Just Want to Make Love to You” and “A Sunday Kind of Love.”

At Last has become arguably the most popular song in the U.S. for weddings, Valentine’s Day, or other kinds of bourgeois events calling for cheap sentimentality—despite the fact that James’s powerhouse vocals and phrasing actively work against the sentimentality of the song’s arrangement, as it does in most of her work covering jazz standards during that period.

But her vocals weren’t the only place James was working decidedly against a safe “jazz singer” image. She worked in her personal life and her styling to embody the kind of black urban street culture in which she was immersing herself:

“I [was] serious about turning little churchgoing Jamesetta into a tough bitch called Etta James…. I wanted to look like a great big high-yellow ho’. I wanted to be nasty.”

James ascribes the blonde-yellow hair and black eyebrows that she adopted early in her career to being closely associated with street-based sex workers and drag queens at the time. That’s who she was emulating.

She also says the beginning of her addiction to heroin was not a way to cope with the abandonment issues or physical abuse she suffered as a child. She starting shooting drugs because she thought that’s what bad girls do, and because she saw Billie Holiday, her idol, as the ultimate bad girl.

She lost many friends to issues related to substance addiction (Billie Holiday, Destiny—a black drag queen and best friend to James, even Janis Joplin, who emulated James and for whom’s overdose James felt personally responsible). She was able to kick heroin in the 1970s, but she struggled with addiction much of her adult life, and she was pretty open about that fact.

While James was touring the country, getting high and running the streets with gangsters, street walkers, gays, and drag queens (and likely some folks we’d now call transgender), she also became friends with Muhammad Ali (they met when he was still Cassius Clay) and Malcolm X, both of whom she says she spent a lot of time with. At one point she joined the Nation of Islam, and gained her “X.”

But James in many ways was exactly the kind of convert the Nation of Islam sought—black people from urban areas involved in various forms of street culture. “My religious practices might have been erratic, and my wildness surely overwhelmed my piety, but for ten years I called myself a Muslim,” said James.

As the 1960s moved on, James’ music also began to shift from doo-wop and jazz to more R&B, blues, rock, and even country over the course of the 1960s and 70s. Though James began doing the kind of gospel-influenced R&B (which later got described as “soul” music), in the early 1960s, it was Aretha Franklin who got credit for ushering in the soul era, along with James Brown (whom James toured with, and sometimes sang for in the 1960s).

James really capitalized on the blues resurgence of the 1970s to make a living touring the world. She got frustrated by the fact that people constructed a blues identity for her work and deeply resented the “Earth Mama” trap she felt that put her in.

(It’s a trap many other black women artists find difficult to escape as well.) In the end, though, she went with it, as she saw it as the easiest way to make money to support herself and her two young sons.

By the end of the 1970s when Chess Records folded, James was on hard times, still struggling with an addiction, and trying to make a living in the disco era, without a record label and doing her own bookings.

James said that without the gay community, she would have starved in the late 1970s early 1980s, when she performed in a lot of gay bars across the country. Her 1994 release “Life From San Francisco” was actually recorded in March 1981 in a gay bar.

In her memoir, Etta recounts a harrowing premonition at the time about the onset of the AIDS epidemic.

James eventually began to record again. With her two adult sons serving as bandmates and co-producers, she recorded and toured from the 1990s up through 2011, mostly recording in the jazz and blues genres.

Is it any wonder that a woman who struggled to define her self, her sound and her career over the span of 50 years would be a little suspicious of a Hollywood portrayal of her, in a film on which she was not consulted?

James was not happy about her portrayal in “Cadillac Records,” for which Beyonce served not only as actress but also as producer. Contrary to the portrayal of James in the film, she was not romantically involved with Chess Records founder Leonard Chess.

Nor did she use drugs because she was distraught over not knowing the identity of her biological father—James knew this was a possibility, but clearly saw herself as black and never tried to identify as mixed or biracial.

The film tries to suggest James was sexually attracted to Chess because he represented the white daddy she never had. Marshall Chess, the surviving son of Leonard Chess, said of the Chess/James relationship, “Now, my father was no angel, but (he) was never caught in an affair. It never happened.”

Marshall reported that he asked James about it, and she said, “He kissed me on the cheek once.”

To add insult to injury, after the film, Beyonce performed Etta’s signature song, “At Last” at the President Obama’s inauguration in 2009, laying claim to the tune James was still singing professionally and which she relied on to make a living. James told an audience shortly after that that Obama “is not my president” and “that woman he had singing for him, singing my song … she’s going to get her ass whipped.”

James (or likely her publicist) later released a statement saying James was “kidding” about the comment. But the conflict between James and Beyonce is not as simple as divas behaving badly. It really represents an artist angered by the attempts made without her consent to control the public’s understanding of her life and legacy. Audiences will hopefully be willing to go beyond “At Last,” and beyond “Cadillac Records” to find a woman whose talent and legacy went beyond both.

Kenyon Farrow is a regular contributor to Colorlines.com.

Read this online at http://colorlines.com/archives/2012/01/etta_james_political_obituary.html

Open Statement to the Fans of "The Help," From the Association of Black Women Historians

Saturday, January 28, 2012

An Open Statement to the Fans of The Help:

On behalf of the Association of Black Women Historians (ABWH), this statement provides historical context to address widespread stereotyping presented in both the film and novel version of The Help. The book has sold over three million copies, and heavy promotion of the movie will ensure its success at the box office.

Despite efforts to market the book and the film as a progressive story of triumph over racial injustice, The Help distorts, ignores, and trivializes the experiences of black domestic workers. We are specifically concerned about the representations of black life and the lack of attention given to sexual harassment and civil rights activism.

During the 1960s, the era covered in The Help, legal segregation and economic inequalities limited black women's employment opportunities. Up to 90 per cent of working black women in the South labored as domestic servants in white homes.

The Help’s representation of these women is a disappointing resurrection of Mammy—a mythical stereotype of black women who were compelled, either by slavery or segregation, to serve white families.

Portrayed as asexual, loyal, and contented caretakers of whites, the caricature of Mammy allowed mainstream America to ignore the systemic racism that bound black women to back-breaking, low paying jobs where employers routinely exploited them.

The popularity of this most recent iteration is troubling because it reveals a contemporary nostalgia for the days when a black woman could only hope to clean the White House rather than reside in it.

Both versions of The Help also misrepresent African American speech and culture. Set in the South, the appropriate regional accent gives way to a child-like, overexaggerated black dialect.

In the film, for example, the primary character, Aibileen, reassures a young white child that, “You is smat, you is kind, you is important.” In the book, black women refer to the Lord as the “Law,” an irreverent depiction of black vernacular. For centuries, black women and men have drawn strength from their community institutions. The black family, in particular provided support and the validation of personhood necessary to stand against adversity. We do not recognize the black community described in The Help where most of the black male characters are depicted as drunkards, abusive, or absent. Such distorted images are misleading and do not represent the historical realities of black masculinity and manhood.

Furthermore, African American domestic workers often suffered sexual harassment as well as physical and verbal abuse in the homes of white employers. For example, a recently discovered letter written by Civil Rights activist Rosa Parks indicates that she, like many black domestic workers, lived under the threat and sometimes reality of sexual assault. The film, on the other hand, makes light of black women’s fears and vulnerabilities turning them into moments of comic relief.

Similarly, the film is woefully silent on the rich and vibrant history of black Civil Rights activists in Mississippi. Granted, the assassination of Medgar Evers, the first Mississippi based field secretary of the NAACP, gets some attention.

However, Evers’ assassination sends Jackson’s black community frantically scurrying into the streets in utter chaos and disorganized confusion—a far cry from the courage demonstrated by the black men and women who continued his fight. Portraying the most dangerous racists in 1960s Mississippi as a group of attractive, well dressed, society women, while ignoring the reign of terror perpetuated by the Ku Klux Klan and the White Citizens Council, limits racial injustice to individual acts of meanness.

We respect the stellar performances of the African American actresses in this film. Indeed, this statement is in no way a criticism of their talent. It is, however, an attempt to provide context for this popular rendition of black life in the Jim Crow South.

In the end, The Help is not a story about the millions of hardworking and dignified black women who labored in white homes to support their families and communities. Rather, it is the coming-of-age story of a white protagonist, who uses myths about the lives of black women to make sense of her own. The Association of Black Women Historians finds it unacceptable for either this book or this film to strip black women’s lives of historical accuracy for the sake of entertainment.

Ida E. Jones is National Director of ABWH and Assistant Curator at Howard University.

Daina Ramey Berry, Tiffany M. Gill, and Kali Nicole Gross are Lifetime Members of ABWH and Associate Professors at the University of Texas at Austin. Janice Sumler-Edmond is a Lifetime Member of ABWH and is a Professor at Huston-Tillotson University.

Suggested Reading:


Like one of the Family: Conversations from A Domestic’s Life, Alice Childress

The Book of the Night Women by Marlon James

Blanche on the Lam by Barbara Neeley

The Street by Ann Petry

A Million Nightingales by Susan Straight


Out of the House of Bondage: The Transformation of the Plantation Household by Thavolia Glymph

To Joy My Freedom: Southern Black Women’s Lives and Labors by Tera Hunter

Labor of Love Labor of Sorrow: Black Women, Work, and the Family, from Slavery to the Present by Jacqueline Jones
Living In, Living Out: African American Domestics and the Great Migration by Elizabeth Clark-Lewis

Coming of Age in Mississippi by Anne Moody

Any questions, comments, or interview requests can be sent to: ABWHTheHelp@gmail.com

Friday, January 27, 2012

Zimbabwe Inquest Continues Into Gen. Mujuru's Death

Mujuru family wants pathologist quizzed

Saturday, 28 January 2012 00:00
Innocent Ruwende Senior Reporter
Zimbabwe Herald

THE Mujuru family has asked the court to call in a South African forensic expert to question the local pathologist who examined the remains of General Solomon Mujuru.

The family said should questions arise, they might apply for the exhumation of the remains to enable the South African expert to conduct another examination.

This came out during the ninth day of the inquest into the death of Gen Mujuru at the Harare Magistrates' Courts.

Gen Mujuru died in an inferno at his farmhouse in Beatrice in August last year, but policemen who testified yesterday ruled out foul play.

Presiding magistrate Mr Walter Chikwanha read out a letter from the family lawyer Mr Tekhor Kewada seeking a second pathological opinion.

He then asked Mr Kewada to justify the need for another pathologist and to state whether they had already found one.

Mr Kewada confirmed that he indeed wrote the letter on the family's behalf and said the justification will be that various experts have different opinions.

"There is always another possibility of another expert giving a different opinion on the cases of death from such circumstances," he said.

"From viewing records, the second pathologist may come to a different conclusion. My application is about calling a South African expert Dr Perumel. He has indicated he would be free to come to Zimbabwe."


2 assault rifles found on Mujuru bedroom floor
Mujuru evidence destroyed - fireman
Mr Kewada said Dr Perumel may or may not agree with the first pathologist and questions could arise.

"The question is whether the body be exhumed or not," he said.

"I can only rely on what the experts would tell us. We are reliant on the opinion of the pathologist."

In response, Mrs Sharon Fero from the Attorney-General's Office confirmed receipt of the letter from Mr Kewada, but the State thought the family wanted the pathologist to help in questioning the evidence of the local pathologist Dr Gabriel Alviero.

Mr Chikwanha concurred with the State and said he had no application for exhumation of the remains before him.

He will rule on whether or not Dr Perumel should come in to help question Dr Alviero on Monday.

Earlier, the 28th witness in the inquest, Chief Supt Crispen Makedenge, said he requested printouts from Econet and Netone to have a look at his calls history.

He said he got the printout on September 14 of Gen Mujuru's 0773 411 909 number, but the Netone line had been terminated.

Asked the time when Gen Mujuru last made a call, Chief Supt Makedenge said on August 15 at around 2:56pm to number 0773 381 920.

He said on the same day, Gen Mujuru received a call at around 6pm from a UK number +44208640236.

Chief Supt Makedenge said they initially thought the number of firearms recovered was 17, but when they were reassembled, 15 firearms came out.

He said others were parts to firearms.

Chief Supt Makedenge ruled out that evidence was destroyed and said all the firearms recovered were registered in Gen Mujuru's name except for the AK47 rifle.

Mr Kewada asked Chief Supt Makedenge why the General changed his parking spot on the day in question, preferring to park on the opposite side and labour himself by going round the house and use the kitchen entrance to get into the house.

Chief Supt Makedenge said no one could give them the answer during investigations.

Mr Chikwanha asked how they managed to identify Gen Mujuru's remains and Supt Makedenge said it was through taking a blood sample from his daughter Kumbirai and matching from his tissue.

He said the match was 99 percent.
Asked how the General met his death, Chief Supt Makedenge said he inhaled carbon monoxide.

"We do not have evidence that there was foul play even from reports I got from Zesa, Fire Brigade, Forensic Science and the post-mortem."

Detective Inspector Admire Mutizwa, the 29th witness in the inquest from the ZRP forensics, said he examined the 15 firearms and the 6kg of ammunition found in the house.

He said the ammunition exploded as a result of heat and they took two days examining the cartridges.

Detective Insp Mutizwa said all the rifles were commercial, except for the AK47, saying most farmers were entitled to have them.

Asked by the General's nephew Mr Mudiwa Mundawarara on the origins of the AK47 rifle, Detective Insp Mutizwa said he could have got it from the army given his status.

Gen Mujuru's first born child Kumbirai said on the day in question, she arrived at the farm around 3:30am with her siblings after Maria Musona informed her of the incident.

She confirmed that the blood sample was taken by a police doctor which was to be matched with her father's tissue.

Kumbirai said up to now, she does not know the results of the tests.

Dr Edward Fusire, the 31st witness who is employed by ZRP, said he is the one who took blood samples from Kumbirai which he handed over to Chief Supt Makedenge for matching.

He also said he did not know the outcome of the tests.

2 assault rifles found on Mujuru bedroom floor

Friday, 27 January 2012 00:00
Zimbabwe Herald

Innocent Ruwende Senior Reporter

TWO assault rifles were found on the floor in General Solomon Mujuru's bedroom on the day he died in an inferno while 15 other guns were in a gun cabinet close to the bedroom.
The investigating officer, Chief Superintendent Crispen Makedenge yesterday said they recovered 17 firearms and ammunition in the house.

He was testifying in the inquest into Gen Mujuru's death at the Harare Magistrates' Courts.

Chief Supt Makedenge, who is the Deputy Officer Commanding Law and Order, was the 28th witness.

While being led by Mr Clemence Chimbare of the Attorney-General's Office, he said one of the recovered guns was an AK47 rifle.

Asked where exactly they recovered the weapons, Chief Supt Makedenge said they were on the floor.

He said investigations showed that the weapons were in Gen Mujuru's fitted wardrobe which was destroyed by fire.

"In total, there were 17 guns," he said.

"Except for those found on the floor, the others were in a gun cabinet which was in a room next to the main bedroom.

"The gun cabinet was badly burnt and partially open. It might have been caused to open by the heat."

Chief Supt Makedenge said the firearms, magazines and ammunition were taken to experts.

Commenting on the state of Gen Mujuru's body, Chief Supt Makedenge said it was badly burnt and the stomach was ripped open.

He said a pathologist examined the body which was later taken to One Commando Barracks where some tissue matched his daughter Kumbirai's.

Chief Supt Makedenge said he travelled to South Africa with forensic experts where tests were done by South African Police.

Earlier, the Mujuru family lawyer Mr Tekhor Kewada asked Harare Fire Brigade station officer Mr Clever Mafoti what usually happens when a fire breaks out in a house.

Mr Mafoti said if a fire breaks out when one is awake, a person would try to escape.

"If that person is awake, they will try to save themselves, however, much of the consequences would depend on the contents of the room," he said.

"If there were, for example, a form rubber, it would produce toxic gas.''

Mr Mafoti said experience showed that one would fall down at the point which they would think to be the exit.

He said the fire at the farmhouse showed that considerable time elapsed without the inferno being noticed.

Asked if it was normal for a body to produce a blue flame while burning, Mr Mafoti said: "I did not see the blue flame and the intensity. If it is general blue, what usually happens is that if the temperatures are 500 Degrees Celsius, some fluids ooze out of the body, thereafter fat would come out that would create a triangle of combustion which consist of air, combustible materials and the heat.

"A combination of the three items causes an ignition of fire with a blue flame."

Mr Mafoti said if water is poured on a body which has temperatures above 500 Degrees Celsius, it will boil at 100 degrees and a component of hydrogen in the water which is explosive may cause the fire to intensify.

Asked by Gen Mujuru's nephew Mr Mudiwa Mundawarara the substances which are not extinguished by water, he said they were petroleum products, fats and metals.

Mr Mafoti said the state of preparedness of the Fire Brigade during the time in question was not ideal.

He was responding to a question from presiding magistrate Mr Walter Chikwanha.

"For example, we would go to Borrowdale with 400 litres of water, but we would reach the place with 100 litres because the truck (fire tender) was not in good condition and it leaked," he said.

Mr Mafoti said the Fire Brigade was not well equipped.

The 27th witness, Mr Douglas Chiradza Nyakungu, a customer service officer with Zesa said he drank with Gen Mujuru at Beatrice Motel on the eve of his death.

He said the General wanted him to fix a transformer which drew water from Mupfure River which had been vandalised.

He said the transformer was 9km away from the farm.

Mr Nyakungu said Gen Mujuru went home early after telling him that he was supposed to leave his farm at 2am for Beitbridge where he had a scheduled meeting.

"He intended to proceed to Polokwane (South Africa) for another meeting and I asked why he did not use air transport but he said his vehicle was in good condition,'' he said.

Mr Nyakungu said Gen Mujuru left for his farm after taking two tots of whiskey.

The following morning, he said he received a phone call from Gen Mujuru's neighbour Mr Grant Nakhozwe who told him that Gen Mujuru's house was on fire.

He said when he reached the house, he checked on the transformer and realised that someone had switched it off before getting into the house with Chief Supt Makedenge to check on the electricity equipment.

Mr Nyakungu said he did not know the cause of the fire, but said it was not caused by an electrical fault.

"Wiring was in steel pipes," he said.

"If there was a fault in the pipes, one would find a hole in the pipe. We saw that all the pipes had not suffered such damage and the electrical set-up in the house had been destroyed by the fire."

Mr Nyakungu said Zesa's responsibility stretched up to the customer's meter box.

But he said he did not see anything suggesting that appliances could have caused the fire, adding that if there was an electrical fault, electricity would have switched off at the source.

He said there were no gadgets which required heavy current that could have caused the fire.

Mujuru evidence destroyed - fireman

Thursday, 26 January 2012 00:00

Scores of people who thronged the Mujuru farm residence soon after the inferno destroyed evidence that could have helped ascertain the cause of the fire.

Court Reporter
Zimbabwe Herald

HARARE Fire Brigade officers failed to ascertain the cause of the fire that killed General Solomon Mujuru because scores of people who visited the farmhouse during and after the accident destroyed the evidence. Fire Brigade station officer, Mr Clever Mafoti, made the revelations at the seventh day of the inquest into the death of Gen Mujuru at the Harare Magistrates' Courts yesterday.

Mr Mafoti was responding to Mr Clemence Chimbare of the Attorney-General's Office who sought to know what could have caused the fire.

"When we eventually arrived at the scene, most leads had been destroyed by people present," he said.

Mr Mafoti said the fire could have started from the bedroom or the main lounge because peeling off of plasters and cracking showed that the fire had been in the two rooms for a long time.

Asked how fire could start from two rooms, Mr Mafoti said it was possible in cases of arson or short circuit.

"In cases involving arson, the person who would have started the fire would have been of unsound mind or when there is a short circuit or when sockets are overloaded," he said.

Mr Mafoti said fire could be caused by the expansion of dust particles in the ceiling as a result of heat coming from the floor.

He said the ceiling could eventually burst and the fire could spread to other areas.

Mr Mafoti, who was the 26th witness in the inquest, said on the day in question they received a phone call from Harare Central Police Station that fire had broken out at the Mujuru farmhouse at around 3:40am.

"I first made inquiries whether we were going to get water from the scene. It was fortunate that my superior who was known to Gen Mujuru was present. He knew that there was water 1km from the scene in the form of a dam and that there were some water bowsers at the farm," he said.

He said the cars they had could not go to Beatrice without breaking down so they took a truck they referred to as a horse layer.

Mr Mafoti said he left the station with seven subordinates at 4:09am.

Asked why it took them 30 minutes to depart, Mr Mafoti said, "We did not have the capacity to travel outside Harare hence when we received the report we started making arrangements."

He said during the time in question, they had a vehicle, which carried 400 litres of water but it was leaking such that they would reach Beatrice without water if they had used it.

Mr Mafoti said they arrived at the farm at around 5:03am and found the water bowser at the scene and they connected a portable pump and began dousing the fire.

"When we reached the scene, there were some pockets of fire here and there but the fire had already been put out," he said.

Mr Mafoti, who has been working for the Fire Brigade for 27 years, two of them as a station officer, estimated the damage of the fire to be 75 percent.

Yesterday morning, the Mujuru family lawyer Mr Tekor Kewada requested that the inquest be held in the afternoon and the State consented.

In an interview, Mr Kewada said: "There are certain aspects I have been looking at and there is someone researching for me and I made a request to the State to accord postponement.

"When you are calling experts, there are certain aspects that I need to look at. I would also want to consider before I question."
He said both counsels were there to assist the court in the inquest.

Mr Kewada said if he felt there were insufficient experts, he would apply to call more experts.

The inquest continues today with Mr Mafoti being questioned by the Mujuru family.

An expert from the Police Ballistics Department and a Zesa official are also expected to give evidence.

Mujuru inquest: Policemen testify

Wednesday, 25 January 2012 00:00
Innocent Ruwende Senior Reporter
Zimbabwe Herald

POLICEMEN from Beatrice Police Station yesterday said the fire that burnt General Solomon Mujuru was bluish in colour and different from ordinary flames that were in other parts of the house.

Inspector Simon Dube and Constable Clatwell Garisayi said this at the inquest into the death of Gen Mujuru at the Harare Magistrates' Courts.

Const Garisayi, who was the 23rd witness, said on the fateful day, Gen Mujuru's maid Rosemary Short phoned him to report that the farmhouse was on fire.

"The caller identified herself as Rosemary Short and I asked her if they had managed to locate the General and she said they had only seen his vehicle that was parked near the house.

"She said doors were locked and further explained that the General had come to her house to collect some keys," he said.

Const Garisayi said he sent his subordinate to make a report to the duty officer who arrived with the officer-in-charge minutes later.

The officer-in-charge Inspector Dube, he said, made a call to Tavistock Farm's owner requesting for a vehicle to ferry them to Gen Mujuru's Ruzambo Farm.

He told Mrs Sharon Fero of the Attorney-General's Office that Beatrice Police Station had no vehicle.

‘General Mujuru unhappy with ZRP security'
Mujuru wanted to sleep in car: Maid
Mujuru inquest: Security rapped
Const Garisayi said he went to the farm with Insp Dube when the vehicle arrived.
Upon arrival after 20 to 25 minutes, people were using water to put out the fire.

"At the back of the house, people managed to identify a bluish flame. There was an object, which was burning. I peeped through the window and saw an object with folded hands . . . it was akin to a human body," he said.

Asked where the bluish fire was emanating from, he said it came from the body and areas surrounding it, adding it was different from flames in other parts of the house.

The bluish fire reportedly covered the body and a portion of about 30cm from the body.

Const Garisayi said they were instructed to douse the fire on the body and it took about 10 buckets to extinguish it.

He said upon pouring the first buckets of water, the flames became ferocious.

Const Garisayi said Deputy Commissioner-General Godwin Matanga arrived at the scene and instructed him to guard a door leading into the house.

When asked about the state of the body, Const Garisayi said, "I would say from the chest going downwards to the stomach, it would appear that the body was burnt such that fire got inside."

He said his superiors asked him and others to gather debris and they placed it in a plastic bag adding that some objects were hard while others contained ashes.

Const Garisayi said they took the debris to One Commando Barracks.

The 25th witness, Insp Dube, told the court that he has served the ZRP for 27 years and knew Gen Mujuru from the days of the liberation struggle.

He said he also knew him as a prominent farmer in Beatrice and a member of the Crime Consultative Unit in the area.

He said upon arrival at Ruzambo Farm, he saw people around the burning house.

He testified that one of the people who were fighting the fire said he saw a burning object and he went to investigate.

He said he saw a charred body, which was burning from both sides and instructed people to pour water over the body.

He said quite a number of buckets were used to extinguish the fire.

"The fire was bluish and the area covering the chest had flesh, but the bottom area was heavily burnt and on the head only the skull remained," he said.

Insp Dube said the body lay downwards.

He said he did not know the cause of the fire when he was asked by Gen Mujuru's nephew Mr James Mushore.

Mr Mushore suggested to him that people who went in to have a look at the body might have destroyed evidence.

Insp Dube denied the suggestion saying people viewed the remains from a distance and Deputy Comm-Gen Matanga would partially lift the blanket covering the remains for people to view.

He said the only people allowed to view the remains were police and members from the Zimbabwe National Army before conceding that some people might have also viewed Gen Mujuru's remains. The 21st witness, Mr Jimmy Maponga, who is the district information officer for Seke, did not give evidence in court.

His testimony was admitted into the record by consent of the State and the lawyer representing the Mujuru family, Mr Tekor Kewada.

It was admitted through Section 3 (1) (4) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act because it was similar to that of other witnesses --- Tongai Chimuka and Blessing Madzivire.

The 22nd witness, Mr Grant Nakhozwe, the owner of Moonlight Funeral Services and a neighbouring farmer, said on the fateful day he was sleeping when he received a phone call from a Maponga who is employed at Beatrice Hospital at around 4am.

He said he was advised that Gen Mujuru had been burnt in a fire at his farmhouse.

"I called my manager and told him to wait by his gate so we could go together to the General's farm. When I arrived at the farm, I asked the guards what happened and where they were when the incident occurred. The guards told me they only heard noise akin to gunshots," he said.

He said upon arrival, he met Vice President Joice Mujuru and she told him that the General had died in the inferno.

Mr Nakhozwe returned to his farm to collect a solar light, which he gave to a policeman.

He said when the policeman went into the house, he told him that he had found a body and he and the VP peeped through the window, but they could not tell whether it was a human body or not.

Mr Nakhozwe said Gen Mujuru's body was still burning and Insp Simon Dube told people to pour water over it.

He said he was interested in knowing the cause of the fire so he called a Zesa official, Mr Nyakungu who came 30 minutes later and inspected the house.

Responding to a question from Gen Mujuru's elder brother, Joel, Mr Nakhozwe said two security guards at the farm had told him that they heard gunshots.

The 24th witness, Asst Insp Jokoniya Zaza stationed at Beatrice Police Station and attached to police general security intelligence, said on the fateful day, he was instructed by his officer-in-charge to call the fire brigade and Beatrice Hospital for an ambulance after they heard the news.

"I called the fire brigade, but failed to get through, so I called Harare Central for them to get in touch with them," he said.

He said he followed to Ruzambo Farm when the ambulance from Beatrice Hospital came to the police station.

He said when he arrived at the scene, Insp Dube told him that Gen Mujuru's remains had been found and most parts of the house had been consumed by the fire.

He said when he accompanied VP Mujuru into the house, he could tell that it was lying facing downwards.

Today, a member of the ZRP Ballistic Department, the Fire Brigade and Zesa will give evidence.

After yesterday's session, VP Mujuru said an inquest was the best way of dealing with the matter as things were becoming "clearer and clearer".

Mujuru wanted to sleep in car: Maid

Thursday, 19 January 2012 00:00

Rosemary Short wept after testifying at the Harare Magistrate court yesterday

Lovemore Chikova and Innocent Ruwende
Zimbabwe Herald

A STAR witness in the ongoing inquest into the death of General Solomon Mujuru yesterday told the court that the General sometimes slept in his car and had contemplated doing so the day he died in an inferno that gutted his house.

Gen Mujuru's maid, Ms Rosemary Short, said when the General left the farm on August 11, he said was going to Harare.

He returned on August 15, and died that night in the inferno.

She had knocked off early that day because she was unwell, but a child told her around 8pm that there was a vehicle outside her house, which was in the workers' compound about 3km from the farmhouse.

"I saw the vehicle and it belonged to Gen Mujuru. He told me he had forgotten his keys in Harare and asked for the ones I used," she said.

"I went back into the house and brought out my keys, which I handed over to him."

Gen Mujuru told Ms Short that he had been thinking of sleeping in the car that night and even showed her how he could do that by opening the door and moving the seat up and down.

Ms Short said Gen Mujuru sometimes slept in the car, especially when he came to the farm drunk.

But the General, Ms Short said, was not drunk that night, as he was in control of his faculties.
After Gen Mujuru bade her farewell, Ms Short retired to bed, but around 2:45am - her brother Mr Petros Jaison - who works as a general hand at the farm, phoned her to say the main house was on fire.

Ms Short was among the General's workers who testified at the inquest yesterday.

She said it had been impossible to enter the blazing house to rescue the General because the fire that engulfed the house was so intense.

She broke down as she recounted telling Vice President Joice Mujuru over the phone about the fire, triggering further weeping from Gen Mujuru's elder brother, Joel, and sister Mrs Elizabeth Marowa.

Mr Joel Mujuru briefly left the court to compose himself.

Mr Clemence Chimbari of the Attorney General's Office, who was leading Ms Short in her evidence, suggested that the hearing presided over by provincial magistrate Mr Walter Chikwanha at Harare Magistrates Courts adjourns to give Ms Short a break, but she insisted that she was fit to continue giving evidence.

A policeman, Const Obert Mark, who has already given evidence, arrived at her house with the same message.

She asked him why the police did not break the window or door to the bedroom to rescue Gen Mujuru.

Const Mark told her that they did not know which one was Gen Mujuru's bedroom.

His own evidence told of a similar dilemma.
She asked Const Mark if the police had called for help, but he said he did not have airtime.

Ms Short said Const Mark told her that the fire came from a geyser, but he could not tell which one exactly.

She then phoned VP Mujuru and told her of the inferno.

VP Mujuru told her to rush over to the house and see what was happening.

"When I arrived at the farmhouse, I realised that the house had been utterly destroyed and the policemen told me that they could not locate the General," said Ms Short.

She said there were two windows in Gen Mujuru's bedroom, totalling about three metres.

Ms Short said there was a small candle in the bedroom, but she did not put any matches out because she did not think that Gen Mujuru would visit the farm that day.

She said Gen Mujuru sometimes used a candle when there was no electricity at the farmhouse, although there was a generator; the general usually asked for the generator to be switched on when he wanted to watch television.

There were three doors used to access Gen Mujuru's bedroom, she said.

Ms Short said the bedroom held a bed, headboard, dressing table, a television set, three sofas, a chest of drawers, two fitted wardrobes, a desk table, a chair, a safe and a coffee table.

After the fire had been fought with the help of Harare Fire Brigade, which arrived at around 5am, Ms Short said the Officer-in-Charge at Beatrice who had arrived earlier told them that he had located Gen Mujuru's remains in the house.

"I started crying," said Ms Short.

"We were looking at the remains through the window, but I did not see them properly because it was dark. I only saw a burnt object."

Ms Short said there were chemicals to treat cattle, a safe, a gun cabinet, shoes, electricity transformer boxes and water glasses in the room where the remains were found.

She said Gen Mujuru's vehicle was parked near the swimming pool where he did not usually park it.

Mr Albert Alufandika, who worked at the farm as a groundsman, said he was woken up by a police officer at around 2:26am and told that there was fire at the main house.

When he arrived at the house, they pushed Gen Mujuru's car, whose windows were not locked, about 5 metres.

Alufandika said a cellphone which was in the car rung and he answered to find that it was VP Mujuru who asked him if they had found the General.

Mr Jaison broke a window to the sitting room and those there started moving out property, salvaging sofas in the process.

Mr Alufandika said he looked for Gen Mujuru around the garden, but could not find him, only to return after he heard that his remains had been discovered in the house.

"We heard that there was a body next to the window, but I was gripped with fear and could not take a look," he said.

Quizzed by VP Mujuru on why the car was parked in an unusual place, Mr Alufandika said it was also surprising to him that the vehicle was parked at the back of the house.

He said Gen Mujuru had parked his car at the back only twice before.

"It is said that he collected keys for the house from the maid, this means that he did not have keys to the bedroom door," said VP Mujuru.

"I think the obvious thing is that he should have parked the car on the usual place near the kitchen door because that is the door for which he colleted keys from the maid."

Mr Jaison told the court that he was told by a police officer at around 2:30am that the main house was on fire.

When they arrived at the house, Mr Jaison said he broke the window to the sitting room and used a torch to look for Gen Mujuru.

The fire was intense in other rooms and after failing to locate him in the sitting room, he started throwing out sofas.

He then rushed out and brought a water bowser and the people who had gathered started dousing the flame using buckets.

He said the Officer-in-Charge at Beatrice arrived later and called the fire brigade.

"Gen Mujuru's body was found in a room next to the door leading to the verandah," said Mr Jaison. "I was told to bring some water so that it could be poured on the body to stop it from burning further."

Under questioning from the Mujuru family lawyer, Mr Takor Keweda, Mr Jaison said he knew where Gen Mujuru's bedroom was, but did not make any effort to break the door and the windows because the fire was intense that side of the house.

"I tried all I could to save Gen Mujuru, but I could not because of the fire," he said.

One of the three police officers assigned to guard Gen Mujuru's house, Constable Lazarus Handikatari, said he was not on duty when the fire broke out.

He said they had a duty roaster and it was Constable Augustinos Chinyoka's turn to guard the house.

Const Handikatari said when he heard that fire had broken out, he teamed up with the other police officers to look for Gen Mujuru around the house.

"Const Chinyoka smashed one of the windows, but we did could not go far inside the house because we were choked by smoke," he said.

"I asked for reinforcements from workers in the compound, but we could do nothing because the fire was intense."

Const Handikatari said VP Mujuru arrived at the house around 4am and one of the workers was able to go into the house because the fire had subsidised and discovered the body of Gen Mujuru.

He said there had been some explosions from the asbestos sheets on the house because of the fire.

Const Handikatari said there was no electricity at the farm around 8pm when he went to rest and the room where he was resting was not part of the guardroom.

Mr Chikwanha adjourned the proceedings to today, with Ms Short expected to continue giving her evidence.