Saturday, June 30, 2012

US Jewelers Hostile Toward Zimbabwe Diamond Industry

US jewellers wield Zidera on Zim gems

Saturday, 23 June 2012 18:31

Surat is the largest diamond manufacturing hub in the world.

Business Editor

Jewellers in the United States are now invoking the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (Zidera) to try and shut the door on diamonds from Marange, a move that will cut off access to the world’s biggest jewellery market and ultimately affect the local mainstream economy.

Zidera was passed by the US Congress in December 2001 to prevent companies in America from dealing with Zimbabwean firms directly or through third parties as part of a raft of illegal sanctions imposed by Washington on Harare.

Already, there have been disruptions to the fiscus as inflows from diamond proceeds have been less than forecasted.

Recent statistics from the Ministry of Finance indicate that diamond dividend remittances to Treasury in the first quarter of the year only amounted to $30 million against a projected target of $122 million.

In addition, the Minister of Finance, Mr Tendai Biti, has since indicated that the budget targets are now set to be reviewed downwards in the forthcoming Mid-year Fiscal Policy Review.

Though there were spirited attempts by various advocacy groups to broaden the definition of conflict diamonds to include “human rights” issues at a Kimberly Process meeting held in Washington DC this month, African and Asian members of the Working Group on Reform rejected the proposal.

However, jewellery organisations in the United States have resorted to conveniently using Zidera to stymie the flow of Marange diamonds on the global market.

The United States, with a gross domestic product per-capita of more than $48 000, is the world’s biggest market for diamonds at 50 percent followed by Japan at 15 percent and India at 5 percent.

It is believed that the move by the jewellers is meant to frustrate Indian diamantaires (those who cut and polish diamonds) to dump Zimbabwean goods and in the process strangle supply from Marange.

India is the biggest supplier of cut and polished diamonds and diamond jewellery to the US.

Jewellers of America communications manager Mr Lauren Thompson told The Sunday Mail Business last week that it had advised its members not to trade in Marange diamonds because of the “legal sanctions” enforced by OFAC.

“At this time, Jewellers of America has advised members not to trade in diamonds from the Marange region of Zimbabwe. While the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) has agreed to allow the export of diamonds from the Marange region, the US Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) enforces legal sanctions that prohibit all dealings, both directly and through third parties, with the Zimbabwean entities that own or control the Marange region diamond mines and the diamonds exported by these entities.

“As a result, we have advised Jewellers of America members to exercise the appropriate due diligence with business partners, including taking additional precautionary measures for inventory protection in order to ensure compliance with US law and maintain consumer confidence in diamonds.

“Specifically, Jewellers of America members should continue to require their suppliers to provide additional written reassurances, beyond the World Diamond Council’s (WDC)

System of Warranties statement, that the diamonds they supply have not been obtained in violation of applicable national laws and/or sanctions and have not originated from Marange, Zimbabwe,” explained Mr Thompson.

Usually, the World Diamond System of Warranties is used as a declaration on the invoice for each transaction of polished diamonds to ensure industry purchasers and consumers that their diamonds are from conflict-free sources, but the definition is now being tweaked to include gems from countries such as Zimbabwe.

India is the largest diamond manufacturing hub in the world and there have been previous attempts to frustrate traders from trading in Zimbabwe gems.

In August last year, 14 parcels of rough diamonds worth more than $160 million that were bought at a local auction by Indian customers were seized by the United Arab Emirates authorities at the request of the Kimberly Process Working Group despite the fact that the diamonds had legitimately issued KP certificates.

It had to take the intervention of India’s Gem and Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC), which interceded with the Indian government, for the goods to be released.

The Times of India reported a fortnight ago that heightened sanctions from America “may force diamantaires to look for other markets, which many of them have already started”.

“Many are seeing Dubai and Hong Kong as potential markets for their products,” the paper said.

Policymakers fear that underperformance of the diamond sector might put a huge dent on successes that have been registered in resuscitating the local economy, which is gradually emerging from more than a decade of decline.

Said Minister Biti recently: “Stakeholders would recall that of the 2012 $4 billion budget, $600 million of some of the projects under this budget are ring-fenced for funding directly from the realisation of what is due to the State from the proceeds of our diamond sales at the four mining houses in Marange.

“In this regard, our failure to reverse the underperformance of diamond dividends as I alluded to will ultimately affect implementation of planned projects and programmes.”

Iranian Official Says US Redline in Egypt is Israel

US redline in Egypt is Israel: Iranian official

Sat Jun 30, 2012 2:31PM GMT

A senior Iranian official says the United States is concerned about any movement in Egypt that would endanger the peace process with the Zionist regime of Israel.

“The US cannot stop popular movements and the natural trend of the Islamic Awakening in the region is moving towards marginalizing the Zionist Regime [of Israel],” Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said in an interview with IRNA on Friday.

Amir-Abdollahian said the US preferred a non-Islamic government in Egypt, “but they thought that if the Muslim Brotherhood candidate was not chosen as Egypt’s president, the revolutionary current would move towards radical and extremist actions which would be strategically detrimental to the US and its allies in the region.”

“Therefore, they criticized the military council’s performance between the first and the second round of presidential election in Egypt,” the Iranian official added.

Amir-Abdollahian described the prospect of Tehran-Cairo relations as positive and said, “Improving ties between Iran and Egypt is on the agenda of the country’s diplomacy apparatus.”

On Saturday, Muslim Brotherhood candidate in the Egypt’s presidential elections Mohamed Morsi was officially sworn in as the country’s first freely-elected president more than one year after the country’s revolution toppled former ruler Hosni Mubarak.

Morsi was announced winner of the presidential runoff on June 24.

Puntland President Farole Criticizes Meeting With TFG

Somalia: Puntland President criticizes TFG-Somaliland meeting

30 Jun 30, 2012 - 7:28:24 AM

DUBAI, UAE Jun 30 2012 (Garowe Online) – Puntland President Abdirahman Mohamed Farole criticized a meeting between Somaliland and the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) Presidents calling it a personal meeting, Garowe Online reports.

The TFG President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and Somaliland President Mohamoud Ahmed Silanyo met in Dubai after attending an Anti-Piracy Conference in the city.

Speaking to BBC Somalia, Puntland President Farole described the meeting between the two Presidents as a “private meeting” discussing maters that “weren’t important to Somalis”.

According to the communiqué following their meeting, the purpose of the meeting was to formally endorse the TFG and Somaliland discussion process that began in England last week, a process that the Puntland government was left out of.

At the London conference earlier this year the leaders agreed to host discussion between the governments. TFG President Sharif assigned two Puntland ministers to join the TFG delegation at the discussion table but the ministers were later removed after Somaliland officials refused the addition.

The move upset Puntland officials who disapproved of the meeting that concluded in Chevening House located in Kent, England.

According to the communiqué released on Thursday following the Dubai meeting, the two Presidents agreed to continue dialogue and continue their meetings. The Thursday discussions were held by the UAE government “at the request of the two sides”.

Before President Silanyo and President Sharif met, Somali leadersn including Puntland President Farole agreed to continue their fight against piracy, with the UAE assuring that it would assist on-going anti piracy measures


Sudan Agrees to Allow Aid in Rebel-held Border Areas

Sudan agrees to allow aid in rebel-held border areas

Sat Jun 30, 2012 9:07am EDT

ADDIS ABABA/KHARTOUM (Reuters) - Sudan has agreed to allow humanitarian aid to civilians in rebel-controlled areas of two war-torn border states where aid groups have warned of an impending famine, the African Union and Sudanese state media said on Saturday.
Fighting in South Kordofan and Blue Nile has forced hundreds of thousands of people to flee their homes since last year, the United Nations and aid groups say.

The clashes broke out between government forces and rebels of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement North (SPLM-N) around the time South Sudan declared independence last year.

Aid groups and the United States and have said the fighting has reduced the usual harvests in the two states, which could face massive food shortages as stocks dwindle.

The African Union, United Nations and the Arab League proposed a plan earlier this year to secure the delivery of aid to both states, but Sudan had rejected the proposal, saying it had the humanitarian situation under control.

On Saturday, the state-linked Sudanese Media Centre reported the government had accepted the proposal in order to "relieve the distressed conditions in which citizens live in the areas under SPLM-N control".

The African Union welcomed the deal in a statement and said it was willing to contribute monitors and other personnel and urged "all those responsible to ensure that it is effectively and fully implemented without further delay".

The conflict in the two states is rooted in decades of north-south civil war in Sudan. The civil war ended with a 2005 peace deal that paved the way for South Sudan to declare independence last July.

But partition left tens of thousands of fighters who had battled against Khartoum north of the border.

The rebels in South Kordofan and Blue Nile say they are fighting to overthrow Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir and end what they see as the marginalization of minority groups.

Khartoum accuses the rebels of trying to sow chaos on behalf of their former comrades in Juba - an allegation South Sudan denies, but which has hindered talks between the two countries on unresolved issues related to the partition.

Malik Agar, head of the rebel umbrella Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) which includes the insurgents in Blue Nile and South Kordofan, told Reuters this month dozens of people were dying each day due to lack of food and medicine.

Sudan's acceptance comes two days after it adjourned peace talks with South Sudan until July 5.

(Reporting by Aaron Maasho and Alexander Dziadosz; Editing by Alison Williams)

Syrian Troops Regain Control of Rebellious Damascus Suburb

Syrian troops regain control of rebellious Damascus suburb

Government forces recapture Douma after 10-day assault that left dozens dead, hundreds wounded; residents say situation

By The Associated Press
Jul.01, 2012 4:32 AM

BEIRUT - Syrian troops have regained control of a rebellious Damascus suburb after a 10-day assault that left dozens dead, hundreds wounded and caused a major humanitarian crisis, activists said Saturday.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and local activist Mohammed Saeed said regime forces recaptured Douma, outside the capital, late Friday. The latest offensive was the worst of several assaults on the area, with dead bodies left in the streets, the Observatory said.

"The situation in Douma is catastrophic," said Saeed, adding that he was among dozens of residents who fled on foot through the fields to safer areas for fear of being killed by security forces.

A report published by state-run SANA news agency said some of the "terrorists" tried to flee but were pursued by troops who killed and wounded a large number of them. SANA said forces would continue their search to "cleanse" Douma, a hotbed of dissent since the uprising began last March.

Forces loyal to President Bashar Assad are strong in central Damascus, but have battled to control the ring of suburbs and settlements in the surrounding countryside.

The latest violence came as representatives of global and regional powers tried to agree on a peaceful formula to end the bloody crisis in Syria, including the role of Assad in a transitional government.

The talks hosted by the United Nations are seen as a last-ditch attempt to salvage the peace plan brokered by the UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan.

Annan warned that if nations trying to end the country's violence fail to act they face an international crisis of "grave severity." He said history "will judge us all harshly if we prove incapable of taking the right path today."

Iran Oil Sanctions Starting Risks Biggest OPEC Loss Since Libya War

Iran Oil Sanctions Starting Risks Biggest OPEC Loss Since Libya

By Ewa Krukowska - Jun 30, 2012 6:01 PM

A petrol station in central Tehran. Iran has halted its limited oil sales to France and Britain in retaliation for a phased EU ban on Iranian.
European Union sanctions on Iran entered into full force today after exemptions on some contracts and insurance ended, boosting crude prices and pressure on the Persian Gulf nation to halt its nuclear-enrichment program.

The reduction in Iranian exports may become the biggest supply disruption from a member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries since an armed rebellion all but halted pumping in Libya last year, according to the International Energy Agency. It also comes just as a strike by Norwegian workers is curbing flows from North Sea fields.

“We expect Brent oil prices to be supported by Iranian oil sanctions and potential loss of supplies from the North Sea,” Gordon Kwan, the head of regional energy research at Mirae Asset Securities based in Hong Kong, said in a June 28 report. “The imminent EU insurance ban on tankers carrying Iranian crude could drive up demand for Brent and Dubai crude.”

Brent futures fell below $90 a barrel on June 21 for the first time in 18 months as concern that Europe’s debt crisis would spread sapped the outlook for fuel use worldwide. Now, the Iran embargo and Norwegian strike are stoking speculation about a rebound in prices, according to analysts such as Kwan and Ole Hansen at Saxo Bank A/S. Brent for August settlement surged 7 percent on June 29 to close at $97.80 a barrel on the ICE Futures Europe exchange.

Unsold Barrels

Iran, the second-biggest producer in OPEC after Saudi Arabia, was producing about 3.3 million barrels a day in May. Full implementation of sanctions will remove about 1 million barrels a day during the second half of the year as buyers disappear and Iranian storage tanks become full, the Paris-based IEA forecast in a June 13 report.

Iran called on OPEC to convene an emergency meeting to address the group’s production in excess of its target of 30 million barrels a day, the state-run Mehr news agency reported yesterday, citing Oil Minister Rostam Qasemi. Disregard of the limit by some OPEC members “will negatively impact oil prices in the international market,” Qasemi said. The 12-member organization, which decided on June 14 to retain its daily ceiling of 30 million barrels, pumped about 1.6 million barrels more than that in May, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The EU decided in January to ban oil imports from Iran, offering a five-month phase-in period for existing contracts to let member states such as Greece find alternative supplies. An exemption on tanker insurance restrictions for the worldwide shipping industry also ran out today.

Nuclear Impasse

Foreign ministers from the 27-nation bloc decided on June 25 the exemptions shouldn’t be extended after talks between Iran and the world’s powers about the nuclear program failed to reach a breakthrough since they started in April. Iran denies that it is developing nuclear weapons.

“Our purpose is to persuade Iran to come and negotiate with us and to show by action the reassurance that we’re seeking,” the EU’s foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, told a news conference in Luxembourg after the ministers met. “We need, not just in the EU but across the world, to keep the pressure up.”

The EU ban on insurance for ships carrying Iranian oil affects 95 percent of the world’s tankers because they’re covered by the 13 members of the London-based International Group of P&I Clubs, which is adhering to the EU rule.

In an effort to retain an important Asian customer, Iran offered to supply oil to South Korea using its own tankers, a government official in Seoul said June 29, asking not to be identified because the matter is confidential.

Parallel Action

Complementing the European sanctions, a U.S. law enacted Dec. 31 cuts off international banks from the U.S. financial system if they settle oil trades with Iran. The U.S. rule gave importing nations, including China, India and Japan, until June 28 to demonstrate they had “significantly reduced” their purchases of Iranian oil in order to qualify for exemptions.

Oil and its derivatives account for nearly 80 percent of Iran’s exports and about half of government revenue, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, which estimates the country’s 2010 net oil export revenues at $73 billion.

Iran’s oil exports may “gradually” decline by 20 percent to 30 percent after sanctions start and amid field maintenance work, Deputy Oil Minister Ahmad Qalebani said on June 26.

Such acknowledgement hasn’t erased tensions over the sanctions. Iran warned it can strike any target in the Strait of Hormuz and Persian Gulf and will soon equip ships with missiles capable of firing more than 300 kilometers (186 miles), Mehr reported June 29, citing a commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps. Tankers carrying about a fifth of globally traded oil exit the Gulf though the Hormuz chokepoint.

Iranian ‘Playground’

“The Strait of Hormuz and the Persian Gulf is Iran’s playground and no one else’s,” Admiral Ali Fadavi told Mehr. “Any issues related to the Strait of Hormuz will be a very big story that will have consequences on the price of oil.”

A survey of 42 analysts on June 28 showed that 16, or 38 percent of them, predicted crude futures will increase in the week starting tomorrow, citing the new sanctions. Among the remainder, 12 forecast little change in prices and 14 expected a decline.

“That is the wildcard, the Iranian situation,” Torbjoern Kjus, an oil analyst at DnB ASA, an Oslo-based bank, said by phone on June 29.

“Nobody can be totally certain how it’s really going to affect the market,” he said. “There’s probably been huge inventory builds in Iran, and this could pose a bearish effect for next year or the second half of this year if there is a resolution.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Ewa Krukowska in Brussels at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Lars Paulsson at

Timbuktu Shrines Damaged by Mali Ansar Dine Islamists

30 June 2012
Last updated at 10:17 ET

Timbuktu shrines damaged by Mali Ansar Dine Islamists

Timbuktu, sometimes called the city of 333 saints, is famous for its distinctive architecture

Islamist fighters in Mali have damaged the shrines of Muslim saints in the city of Timbuktu, witnesses say.

The fighters, from the Ansar Dine group, which controls much of northern Mali, attacked the mausoleum of Sidi Mahmoud, one of 16 shrines in the city.

Last week, the UN cultural organisation Unesco put Timbuktu on its list of endangered world heritage sites, fearing damage following the coup which toppled the Malian government in March.

Islamists regard shrines as idolatrous.

However, some Muslims, especially Sufis, regard them as an accepted part of Muslim worship.

'Architectural wonders'

Witnesses said Islamist fighters began attacking the shrines on Saturday morning, using shovels and pickaxes.

"This is tragic news for us all," Unesco chairperson Alissandra Cummins said in a statement to the AFP news agency. "I appeal to all those engaged in the conflict in Timbuktu to exercise their responsibility."

Ansar Dine spokesman Sanda Ould Boumama told the AFP news agency the shrines would be destroyed, "all of them, without exception".

He went on: "God is unique. All of this is haram (forbidden in Islam). We are all Muslims. Unesco is what?"

"They have already completely destroyed the mausoleum of Sidi Mahmoud (Ben Amar) and two others," Malian journalist Yeya Tandina told the Reuters news agency.

In addition to the shrines, Timbuktu is home to some 700,000 ancient manuscripts held in about 60 private libraries.

On Thursday, Unesco said the city's capture by armed Islamists could endanger its "outstanding architectural wonders".

"It looks as if it is a direct reaction to the Unesco decision," Timbuktu official Sandy Haidara told Reuters.

Timbuktu, an ancient trading city on the edge of the Sahara Desert, is known for its distinctive architectural structures, constructed mainly from mud and wood.

The shrine of Sidi Mahmoud was also attacked in April and set on fire by armed men from Ansar Dine.

Ansar Dine, which has ties to al-Qaeda, seized northern Mali in March, in tandem with ethnic Tuareg rebels.

However, the alliance between the two groups has frayed and the Islamists now say they control the territory after driving out their former allies.

Islamist forces recently seized the town of Gao from the Tuaregs. The 17th Century tomb of Emperor Mohammed Askia, which is in Gao, has also been placed on the Unesco danger list.

Zimbabwe Vice-President Mujuru, ZANU-PF Discuss Economic Challenges

VP Mujuru attacks MDC-T inconsistency

Friday, 29 June 2012 15:41
Herald Reporter

POLICY inconsistency by MDC-T in Government is hampering the development of the national economy, Zanu-PF Vice President and Second Secretary Cde Joice Mujuru, has said.

Addressing delegates at a Zanu-PF economic cluster workshop in Harare yesterday, Cde Mujuru, who was represented by the party’s secretary for administration Cde Diydmus Mutasa, said efforts by Government to ensure industrial rebirth were not progressing because of MDC-T.

The one-day workshop discussed the state of the economy, the party’s departmental programmes and sought to harmonise activities ahead of the forthcoming elections expected this year.

“Being a people centred party we have harnessed our efforts and directed energies towards restoring our national economy to its past heights of growth, sustainability, equitable redistribution of wealth and prosperity for all, but some of our colleagues in Government are pulling in the opposite direction,” she said.

“They exhibit inconsistency and lack of application but we will continue shaking off these challenges.”

Cde Mujuru said the Look East Policy Zanu-PF adopted was beginning to bear fruits as evidenced by the number of Asian countries investing in Zimbabwe.

“This visionary policy has facilitated the rapid recovery of our tobacco sector, which has become the biggest foreign currency earner, as well as the revival of the chrome sector in Kwekwe, among other benefits.

“We shall continue to solidify this relationship and anticipate travelling further in this promising direction as we embark on a programme that will put our economy at par with other African and world giants,” she said.

The workshop was held under the theme: “Defending National Sovereignty and Consolidating Indigenisation and Empowerment: Driving the Zimbabwean Economy to Greater Heights.”

Cde Mujuru described as “just” and “superior” Zanu-PF policies towards the building of the country’s economy.

“We hail the victory of Zimbabwe in the KPCS process, which opened doors for the sale of our diamonds on the world market and created new revenue channels for the national fiscus.

“The victory vindicates justness and superiority of Zanu-PF policies under the gallant leadership of President Mugabe,” she said.

She said the revolutionary party would continue supporting small and medium businesses and the informal sector to facilitate their entry and participation in the mainstream economy.

“We shall continue to champion programmes that bring the economy and its benefits closer to the people like rural wholesales project launched last month in Mt Darwin.”

Zanu-PF secretary for economic affairs, Cde Obert Mpofu, said most companies were struggling for viability hence the need for investors to support them.

“Failure to rescue these companies is a serious indictment on our approaches to economic growth and self-sustenance.

“The sad thing is that there has been massive job losses.

“This downward trend was further compounded by the drying up of lines of credit owing to a number of macro economic reasons and also sanctions,” he said.

Zanu-PF, Cde Mpofu said, was worried by lack of capacity by Treasury to pay reasonable salaries to civil servants.

“I hope this workshop will come up with suggestions, which can be presented for consideration in view of bettering conditions of service for civil servants,” he said.

Cde Saviour Kasukuwere, the Zanu-PF secretary for indigenisation and economic empowerment urged party members to participate in the empowerment drive.

The event was attended by Politburo members, provincial chairpersons, national executive members of the women and youth assemblies and war veterans.

EDITORIAL COMMENT: MTP’s poor showing must galvanise us into action

Friday, 29 June 2012 16:20
Zimbabwe Herald

Zimbabwe’s economy continues to face challenges that need decisive action as reflected by its failure to meet the majority of targets set under the Medium Term Plan.

Minister of Economic Planning and Investment Promotion Tapiwa Mashakada painted a gloomy picture on the performance by MTP over the past year and its outlook as he appeared before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Budget and Finance on Tuesday.

Of course the outcome was to be expected to some extent, given the liquidity challenges, particularly, that have handicapped most efforts to develop key sectors and the economy at large.

Revenue inflows have underperformed while external funding has not been forthcoming as had been anticipated when the US$9 billion economic blue-print was launched in March last year.

Furthermore, the lag between implementation of policy and realisation of results may also be of effect in this instance.

The MTP is meant to guide economic growth up to 2015, with national budgets and other policy documents expected to be in sync with its objectives, which include macro-economic stability, restoration of the economy’s capacity to produce goods and services competitively and the development of key energy, transport and water infrastructure.

Under MTP an annual economic growth rate of 7 percent is projected while maintaining single digit inflation, among other targets.
This is meant to empower the majority and reduce poverty.

While significant progress has been noted over the past three years in terms of real economic growth, the recovery path has been punctuated by dips that have compromised results.

Thus the optimism that welcomed the MTP launch has fizzled out demanding a reality check that should put everything into perspective and map the way forward.

However, the poor showing by MTP so far should not usurp energy from the economy but should induce greater resolve by all stakeholders to bring the programme back on track.

The impediments along the way should just be viewed as temporary setbacks that should not leave a permanent mark on the road to growth.

Many countries in Africa and beyond have commended the MTP as a sound document with potential to transform Zimbabwe’s economy while impacting on the overall regional economic landscape.

It is widely viewed as a not overly ambitious project which means its targets and objectives are within reach, everything being equal.

But as stated earlier Zimbabwe’s current liquidity crunch and inadequate support from external lending institutions have put paid to many initiatives to foster growth.

Zimbabwe has evidently been let down by some of its peers who had pledged support but we cannot continue to sulk as a country.
Bold steps will need to be taken to find home-grown solutions to end the funding challenges. The country is replete with financial brains that can come up with solutions to bridge the funding gap.

The revenue side has naturally failed to perform because of depressed economic activity but efforts should be directed towards the reduction of imports that continue to gobble a large chunk of funds while informal sector activities should be brought on stream as sources of funding. Billions of dollars are believed to be circulating within this sector.

Furthermore, the economy needs to maximise on such factors of production as the highly skilled labour force and the availability of resources such as minerals to increase capacity while attracting foreign direct investment.

Policy consistency will have to be practised while the disharmony that seems to be carrying the day in the inclusive Government needs to be checked to ensure all energy is expended on finding ways and means to better the livelihoods of all Zimbabweans.

The Medium Term Fiscal policy review is scheduled within the next fortnight to take stock of the economy. We can almost guess that the Minister of Finance Mr Tendai Biti will largely be lamenting the current state of affairs.

His plate is full already with the issues besetting the economy but what is required at this juncture are more solution-driven efforts to ensure the economy performs well for the remainder of the year and into the future.

Economic Planning and Investment Promotion Permanent Secretary Dr Desire Sibanda announced recently that working groups have been set up to audit the MTP and hence the economy.

We hope they will get to the bottom of the issues while proffering solutions as regards the course the economy should take.
Infrastructure in terms of power generation, road, rail and air transport, water and sanitation among others, needs urgent attention because these are economic enablers.

The multi-currency regime, consolidated under the Short Term Emergency Recovery Programme (STERP), will need to be strengthened further to stabilise the economy.
These efforts should yield the results that we need to promote sustainable economic growth.

ANC Policy Conference Concludes in Mangaung

Much ado about nothing at ANC policy conference

29 Jun 2012 22:01 - Nickolaus Bauer and Phillip de Wet

The policies adopted at the 4th ANC policy conference propose nothing more than change through the continuity of current government policy.

While President Jacob Zuma claimed the conference had adopted a policy of radical economic change – in what was initially called the second transition until that wording was thrown out – the meeting closed with no actual radical policy proposals in sight. Instead, the current economic status quo was maintained, virtually unchanged.

On the hot-button issues of land reform and mine nationalisation, the conference discussed a range of radical options, including demanding that majority stakes in mining companies be handed over, and seizing farms from white owners without compensation.

In their final formulation, though, policy proposals made no such calls. Instead, the party said it would move towards greater compliance with the Constitution (and its clause on protecting property rights) in dealing with the redistribution of land and would consider a greater stake for the state in future projects involving strategic minerals.

But details of the exact proposals were not available and the ANC's elective conference in Mangaung in December could adopt very different policies.

There were signs that the final compromise – especially on economic issues – was hard-fought.

Shortly before the media were let into the plenary hall for Zuma's closing address, sources reported altercations between delegates as proposals on economic transformation were finalised. Others said multiple points of order were raised from the floor as delegates disagreed with the summary of their discussions as presented.

Despite these claims, Zuma had nothing but praise for how delegates had comported themselves throughout the week, a sentiment later echoed by both party secretary general Gwede Mantashe and ANC policy head Jeff Radebe. "I'm very satisfied about what has transpired," said Radebe. "But the true test will now be further preparations."

Radebe, Mantashe and Zuma all dismissed suggestions that the conference had been divided by factional battles but moments after Zuma's speech, delegates waved posters reading "100% Zuma" and flashed the two finger sign that has come to mean support for a second term for Zuma.

Not everyone was happy with policy proposals. Congress of South African Trade Unions' general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi said there were many issues on which his organisation would be lobbying before the Mangaung conference in December where proposals made this week will become official party policy – or not.

The final documents have yet to be released, with party functionaries – eager to call it a night after several gruelling days – saying it was not clear when they would be published.

ANC Policy Conference: Zuma Reads From ZANU-PF Page

ANC policy conference: Zuma reads from Zanu-PF page

Friday, 29 June 2012 15:46
Herald Reporter

SOUTH African president Cde Jacob Zuma told delegates attending the ANC policy conference at Gallagher Estate that it was time his government took a radical shift towards economically empowering its people.

Speaking in a telephone interview yesterday, the leader of the Zanu-PF delegation to the conference, Professor Jonathan Moyo said land reform and how South Africans could benefit from mineral resources generated a lot of debate.

“Two issues that are of interest to Zimbabwe were raised. President Zuma said they needed to take a radical shift to the left and re-examine things such as the willing-seller willing-buyer principle which we did,” he said.

The economic transformation committee led by former Finance Minister Mr Trevor Manuel looked at how South Africa could benefit from the mining sector among other issues.

Prof Moyo said the committee suggested that the ANC should seriously look at nationalisation in mining.

There were a number of proposals that were made including 100, 60 and 30 percent shares in mining companies.

The policy conference that ends today, is being attended by delegates from South Africa’s nine provinces, some non governmental organisations and revolutionary parties in Africa among them Zanu-PF, MPLA, Swapo, Frelimo, Chama Cha Mapinduzi, Nigeria’s People Democratic Party and Ethiopia’s People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front.

Prof Moyo said the liberation movements were unanimous that the struggle for economic empowerment was not over.

“These countries agreed they had a lot to learn from each other, but they had to adopt different implementation strategies due to situations obtaining in their countries,” he said.

The policy conference began on the 26th and ends today.

The 2012 National Policy Conference is a preparatory meeting to take stock of the party’s activities and challenges following the Polokwane conference as it gears for another conference in Mangaung in December.

The December conference will be an elective one and the ANC decided to hold the policy conference to avoid the clash of policy and election issues.

Prof Moyo and Cde Monica Mutsvangwa received a standing ovation when they were introduced at the conference.

Paraguay Suspended From Mercosur, No Sanctions Imposed

Paraguay suspended from Mercosur, no sanctions

June 29, 2012
Associated Press

(AP) -- The Mercosur trade bloc suspended Paraguay's membership on Friday for having impeached and ousted its president but will not slap economic sanctions on the poor, landlocked country.

The South American group also announced that Venezuela will become a full member starting July 31, a move that will link the region's most powerful agricultural and energy markets.

Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo was impeached by the country's Congress a week ago in a fast-track trial triggered by a land eviction that killed 17 people in clashes between police and landless peasants.

Argentine President Cristina Fernandez told other heads of state at a Mercosur summit Friday that the "democratic order was broken" in Paraguay because it carried out a two-hour trial where Lugo was not allowed a proper defense. It will be suspended from Mercosur until it holds presidential elections next year.

But Fernandez said Paraguay would not be slapped with economic sanctions because "they never hurt governments. They always hurt the people."

Paraguay is among South America's poorest nations and any economic sanction by the bloc would have been disastrous since half its trade is with fellow Mercosur founding members, Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay.

Mercosur barred Lugo's replacement, former Vice President Federico Franco, from attending the summit. Franco says the transition of power in Paraguay was carried out according to the law.

Lugo said at first that he would attend the meeting in order to plead his case with regional leaders but later changed his mind. He then spoke out against retaliatory economic sanctions, which he said would only hurt ordinary Paraguayans.

The landlocked country is highly dependent on beef and soybean exports and is already suffering from a recent drought that parched soy fields and an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease last year that forced the slaughter of hundreds of cattle heads to prevent the spread of the contagious disease.

Paraguay has a long history of dictatorships and fragile democracies. The removal of Lugo, a former Roman Catholic bishop whose presidency was eclipsed by a cancer diagnosis and several paternity scandals, plunged the country into a political crisis and became a top priority for regional leaders. Several governments called back their ambassadors and some called his ouster a coup.

The Union of South American Nations, or UNASUR, also suspended Paraguay during an emergency meeting Friday and handed the pro-tempore presidency to Peru for 12 months. The regional grouping said Fernando Lugo was not allowed a proper defense.

Retaliation for Lugo's ouster came from Venezuela's state-run oil company Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), which earlier canceled a bilateral deal to supply Paraguay with diesel oil.

Sergio Escobar, who heads Paraguay's national oil company, announced Friday that Petroleos de Venezuela had instructed an intermediary firm not to deliver 150,000 cubic meters, expected over the coming months.

At the Mercosur summit, Argentina's Fernandez also announced that Venezuela will become a full member of the trade bloc during a ceremony in Rio de Janeiro on July 31. The union links the region's top agricultural and energy suppliers.

Venezuela, an associate member, had been trying to get full status for years. Lugo supported the full-membership because he said its oil could help smaller members of the grouping, but the move had been blocked by Paraguayan lawmakers.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez hailed the decision, calling it "a day for the history of integration." Chavez reiterated his belief that Lugo's ouster was essentially a coup. He spoke by telephone on the Caracas-based television channel Telesur.

"I have no doubt that behind that group of senators and deputees, that behind them is the hand of the empire," Chavez said, using his term for the U.S. government. He didn't offer any evidence to support that claim.

Chavez dismissed accusations against his government that have emerged since Lugo's ouster, including claims by Paraguay's new government that Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro had tried to convince military leaders to support Lugo.

"I'm not going to answer them. An eagle doesn't hunt a fly," Chavez said.

Some observers pointed out that if a diplomat from another country had come to Venezuela and tried to meet with military officers, it would have provoked a scandal, especially given Chavez's personal history of surviving a failed coup in 2002.

"The president never would tolerate it," said Margarita Lopez Maya, a history researcher at Venezuela's Central University who has studied Chavez's presidency. "There the foreign minister goes to a country and talks with military officers. It's completely hypocritical."

Maduro on Thursday night similarly dismissed the claim by Paraguay's defense minister, though he didn't deny meeting with military officials.

"These things being said by this person from an illegitimate government that's emerged from a coup d'etat, they simply tell you the political and moral appearance of people who have just carried out a coup d'etat and they try to accuse others of trying to make coups against coups. It has no basis in reality," Maduro told Venezuelan state television.

"We did our work to seek to talk and dialogue with all sectors of Paraguayan society."

Associated Press writers Luis Andres Henao reported from Mendoza, Argentina. Almudena Calatrava and Debora Rey in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Jenny Birchfield in Rio de Janeiro and Ian James in Caracas, Venezuela contributed to this report.

Doubts Cast on Turkey's Story of Jet: US Intelligence Contradicts Ankara

Updated June 29, 2012, 11:00 p.m. ET

Doubts Cast on Turkey's Story of Jet

U.S. Intelligence, Contradicting Ankara,

Indicates Aircraft Was Shot Down by Syria in Its Own Airspace, Officials Say

Wall Street Journal

U.S. intelligence indicates that a Turkish warplane shot down by Syrian forces was most likely hit by shore-based antiaircraft guns while it was inside Syrian airspace, American officials said, a finding in tune with Syria's account and at odds with Turkey.

The Turkish government, which moved tanks to the Syrian border after the June 22 incident, says the debris fell in Syrian waters, but maintains its fighter was shot down without warning in international airspace. Ankara also has said the jet was hit too far from Syrian territory to have been engaged by an antiaircraft gun.

Damascus has said it shot down the plane with an antiaircraft battery with an effective range of about 1.5 miles.

"We see no indication that it was shot down by a surface-to-air missile" as Turkey says, said a senior defense official. Officials declined to specify the sources of their information. The senior U.S. defense official cautioned that much remains unknown about the incident.

A Turkish official said he wasn't aware of the American doubts, and reiterated the government's position that a Syrian missile downed the plane in international airspace.

The Turkish government has scheduled a special meeting for Saturday morning on Syria. A spokesman for the prime minister said the U.S. intelligence on the incident would likely be discussed.

The downing of the jet spurred fears of a widening regional conflict and led the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, following a presentation on Tuesday by Turkey, to condemn Syria's action.

The use of antiaircraft fire would suggest the Turkish plane was flying low to the ground, and slowly, U.S. officials said—though Syria said the jet was traveling at 480 miles an hour.

If hit by antiaircraft fire, the jet likely came closer to the Syrian shoreline than Turkey says, U.S. officials said.

The plane's pilots haven't been found, and the Turkish Navy has continued to search for them. U.S. officials say they believe the pilots perished.

Some current and former American officials believe Ankara has been testing Syrian defenses. The version of the Turkish F-4 Phantom that was shot down typically carries surveillance equipment, according to U.S. defense officials.

A former senior U.S. official who worked closely with Turkey said he believed the flight's course was meant to test Syria's response. "You think that the airplane was there by mistake?" the former official said.

"These countries are all testing how fast they get picked up and how fast someone responds," said a senior U.S. official. "It's part of training."

The Turkish official said the plane wasn't on a surveillance mission. "All NATO members have condemned the Syrian hostile act and have supported Turkey," the official said.

The emerging discrepancies could prove embarrassing to Ankara and strain continuing discussions between the U.S. and Turkey, a NATO ally that shares a long border with Syria.

Turkey occupies a critical role in the U.S. and Western strategy for dealing with the Syrian crisis. American officials and defense analysts say the U.S. approach depends largely on Turkey's willingness to keep pressure on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

NATO officials said Turkey's presentation on the incident on Tuesday was very detailed, but diplomats didn't closely question the Turks on their version of events. The U.S. backed Turkey and, American officials said, pushed NATO to issue a statement sharply condemning Syria.

The incident has put NATO in a tough spot. Alliance members are eager to back Ankara, but don't want to be dragged into a military conflict in Syria.

If the plane had been struck by a missile, a senior military official said, it would be an indication that Damascus had authorized the action. But the use of antiaircraft fire may mean a local commander decided on his own initiative to fire at the Turkish plane, according to officials and analysts.

U.S. defense officials said they weren't alarmed by Turkey's movement of forces to its border with Syria. Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, praised Turkey's "very measured" approach. "I've asked them, and they are not seeking to be provocative," Gen. Dempsey said.

The U.S.-Turkish relationship is unlikely to be affected by the apparent discrepancies in accounts of the downing of the jet. Cooperation between Ankara and Washington has grown closer in recent months, after a period of significant strain in 2009 and 2010.

That marks a turnaround for Turkey, which 18 months ago moved to cultivate relations and trade with neighboring Muslim regimes, including Mr. Assad's, while downgrading ties with former ally Israel, raising concerns in Washington.

The revolutions of the Arab Spring, however, upended that policy. In a major change, Turkey agreed last fall to house a NATO missile-defense system, which was designed by the U.S. to contain Iran.

Turkish analysts said the debate in Turkey is now focused on the escalating tensions along the country's 565-mile border with Syria.

"What's important for most Turks is that the government has been seen to respond by boosting troop capacity on the border, which will further pressure Assad," said Atilla Yesilada, a partner at Istanbul-based political risk consultancy Istanbul Analytics.

Write to Julian E. Barnes at, Adam Entous at and Joe Parkinson at

A version of this article appeared June 30, 2012, on page A9 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: Doubts Cast on Turkey's Story of Jet.

No Libyan Model for Syria, Says President Assad

No Libyan model for Syria, Assad says

DAMASCUS, Syria, June 29 (UPI) -- Last year's intervention in Libya shouldn't be viewed as the model to settle the crisis in Syria, the Syrian president told Iranian media.

The Arab League in March 2011 called on the U.N. Security Council to impose a no-fly zone over Libya to protect civilians from attacks from forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.

Members of the international community meet Saturday in Geneva in support of a U.N.-Arab League peace measure for Syria led by former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan. Annan's plan called for an April cease-fire, though there were few signs the deal was honored on the ground.

Syrian President Bashar Assad said, during an interview with the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting network, the Libyan model wouldn't work for his country. Syria, he said, had strongly opposed the Libyan intervention.

"Consequently, immediately following our decision (to oppose the Libya bombings), they (the West) acted through the Arab League to put the attack on Syria on their agenda," he was quoted as saying. "This has been the Arab League reality in the past, as it is at present."

Assad accused Western powers of acting out "colonialist" ambitions.

The Russian Foreign Ministry, in a statement published by RIA Novosti, said there should be no alternative to a "peaceful political settlement in Syria."

Moscow has stated its opposition to formal action against Syria at the United Nations.

Read more:

Friday, June 29, 2012

President Morsi Says He Will Work for Release of Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman

June 29, 2012

Morsi Says He Will Work for Release of Sheik Jailed in U.S.

New York Times

CAIRO — President-elect Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood pre-empted the military’s choreographed swearing-in ceremony by taking an oath of office a day early on Friday, in a televised speech to tens of thousands of supporters in Tahrir Square.

But a promise Mr. Morsi made as part of his speech may provoke Washington: to work for the release of Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, the Egyptian-born militant Islamist convicted after the 1993 World Trade Center attack of plotting to bomb several New York City landmarks.

Mr. Morsi referred briefly to Mr. Abdel Rahman in an almost offhand aside in the context of a vow to free Egyptian civilians imprisoned here after military trials under the rule of the generals. “I see signs for Omar Abdel Rahman and detainees’ pictures,” he said. “It is my duty and I will make all efforts to have them free, including Omar Abdel Rahman.”

A Brotherhood spokesman said later that Mr. Morsi intended to ask federal officials in the United States to have Mr. Abdel Rahman extradited to Egypt on humanitarian grounds. He was not seeking to have Mr. Abdel Rahman’s convictions overturned or calling him a political prisoner.

An Obama administration official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, shrugged it all off as empty talk, saying, “There is zero chance this happens.”

Egyptians were far more concerned about the spectacle of the speech in Tahrir Square — the proving ground of the country’s revolution — as the latest power play in the standoff between the Muslim Brotherhood and the ruling generals over Egypt’s future.

“I come to you as the source of legitimacy,” Mr. Morsi declared, pointedly pledging his allegiance to the public and eschewing the institutions of the government of his ousted predecessor, Hosni Mubarak. “Everyone hears me, all the people and the cabinet and government, army, police. There is no authority over this authority. You have the power!”

His soaring talk of popular sovereignty, however, appeared to be an attempt to cover up for an early concession to the generals, who still cling to power.

On the eve of Mr. Morsi’s election, the generals dissolved Parliament, seized its powers and issued a new interim charter depriving the office of Egypt’s president of much of its authority. They also stipulated that the president should swear the oath in front of the Mubarak-appointed judges of the Supreme Constitutional Court.

That same court had issued a hurried decision authorizing the generals to dissolve Parliament, and the generals’ new interim Constitution assigned the court a role overseeing the drafting of a new, permanent charter. Swearing-in before the court, then, was seen a tacit recognition of its authority and that of the generals.

The Brotherhood and Mr. Morsi demanded that the swearing-in take place before a reinstalled Parliament, as did thousands of their supporters who have occupied Tahrir Square for more than a week demanding the return of Parliament and the withdrawal of the interim charter.

But on Friday it became clear that Mr. Morsi had agreed to take his formal oath in front of the court Saturday morning and that his Tahrir Square speech was in part an effort to distract from that agreement.

An engineering professor with only a short history in electoral politics, Mr. Morsi has never been known as an orator. Even on Friday he read from a prepared speech held chest-high, often balancing it awkwardly in the same hand as his microphone.

Still, his speech was unexpectedly rousing. The staging might have helped. An advance team arrived early to build a platform much grander than the usual Tahrir Square pedestals, reflecting his status as president-elect. It was then decorated with banners proclaiming, “No to dissolving Parliament!” a denunciation of the military’s power grab.

His new retinue of presidential guards accompanied Mr. Morsi, who at the start of the speech, pushed aside two heavily armed soldiers in bulletproof vests so he could stand face to face with the crowd.

“I am here today with you, with the Egyptian people,” he said. Later, pulling open his sport coat, he said: “I have nothing to protect me from any bullets. I fear God almighty and then I work for you.” The moment was in vivid contrast to Mr. Mubarak’s heavily guarded public speeches.

Few Egyptians appeared to notice Mr. Morsi’s comments about Mr. Abdel Rahman, and it was not clear whether they might play into suspicions among some in Washington of the president-elect’s roots in the Muslim Brotherhood, an 84-year-old Islamist group with a history of opposition to the policies of the United States and Israel.

In an interview with Shadi Hamid of the Brookings Doha Center, Mr. Morsi once said he harbored suspicions that unknown hands might have played a role in the attacks on the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.

“When you come and tell me that the plane hit the tower like a knife in butter, then you are insulting us,” Mr. Morsi said, according to an article Mr. Hamid wrote in Foreign Policy magazine. “How did the plane cut through the steel like this? Something must have happened from the inside.”

Although it is nearly impossible to find an Egyptian who supports terrorist attacks like those on Sept. 11 or the 1993 car bombing of the World Trade Center garage, many are very skeptical of official American accounts about who was responsible.

Mr. Morsi’s pledge to seek Mr. Abdel Rahman’s extradition may also play well with Egyptians who perceived Mr. Mubarak as a lackey to Washington. But it runs sharply counter to assiduous efforts over many years by Brotherhood leaders to convince the West that their group advocates only peaceful reform and does not condone violence.

Mr. Abdel Rahman, who is blind, is serving a life sentence at a federal prison in North Carolina. He was convicted of conspiring to conduct a war of urban terrorism against the United States through acts that included the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, though he was not accused of helping to carry out that attack. He was also convicted of plotting to kill Mr. Mubarak during a planned visit by the Egyptian leader to New York in 1993 that never materialized.

After Mr. Morsi’s speech, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York said, “The conviction of Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman was a measure of justice against a man who tried to kill so many, and New Yorkers would oppose any effort to undermine him serving his life sentence.”

Michael B. Mukasey, the judge who presided over Mr. Abdel Rahman’s trial in 1995 and is now in private practice, said: “This guy is not a political prisoner. He was convicted in a system that leans heavily in favor of defendants, and every benefit of that system was given to him.”

Mai Ayyad contributed reported from Cario, Benjamin Weiser from New York, and Mark Landler from Washington.

A $28 Million Bonus Exposed: Bank of America to Enjoy Windfall Profit If Legal Challenges to Dictatorship Continues in Detroit

A $28 Million Bonus:Bank of America to Profit More If Legal Challenges to Dictatorship Continues

PANW Editor's Note: The real agenda behind the so-called "Financial Stability Agreement" was revealed by the corporate media when it was stated that if Corporation Counsel Krystal Crittendon did not drop a legal challenge to the FSA that $28 million in revenue-sharing funds slated for the imporverished city would go directly to Bank of America for debt service payments.

Detroit is in debt to the same corporate vultures who have destroyed the city for decades with capital flight and predatory lending through the housing industry as well as fradulent bond sales and usurious interest rates on loans. The real reason behind the imposition of a synthetic "Financial Advisory Board" and "Project Manager" is to ensure that the banks get paid the $16 billion they claim is owed to them by the people of Detroit.

In fact the people of Detroit owe the banks nothing. The banks and corporations owe the city for decades of exploitation and racist practices.

At present Detroit is facing the lay off of thousands of public sector employees and further cut backs in municipal services. This is why the only short-term solution is a moratorium on the payment of debt service to the banks and the eventual cancellation of all municpal debt involving the City of Detroit.

Every effort to challenge the dictator Public Act 4 law has been stalled and obstructed by the courts and the political system. The corporate media acts as cheerleaders for the banks by denouncing every effort to win back the hundreds of millions owed to the city by the State of Michigan and refusing to even address the role of the banks in strangling and destroying the city.

Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire

Detroit could lose $28M payment if Detroit lawyer doesn't stop consent deal challenge

June 29, 2012

Attorney Krystal Crittendon says the deal with the state violates the city charter.

By Dawson Bell, Matt Helms and Suzette Hackney
Detroit Free Press Staff Writers

A $28-million state revenue sharing payment to the City of Detroit will be withheld today unless the city's top lawyer, Krystal Crittendon, drops her challenge to the legality of the financial stability agreement between the city and state, a state treasury department spokesman said Thursday.

Terry Stanton said Crittendon is refusing to renounce the challenge to the agreement, which she claims violates the city charter.

Her position, Stanton said, makes it "next to impossible" for the city to issue bonds needed to repay short-term borrowing from earlier this year.

Without an agreement from Crittendon not to continue her legal challenge, the bank administering the earlier loan will be required to stop Detroit's monthly revenue sharing payment to repay the loan, Stanton said.

It is not clear how long the city could survive without the payment.

Reached late Thursday, Crittendon disputed the state's assertion that she has refused to sign bond documents. "I have told them I will sign all relevant, accurate, truthful and necessary documents," she said.

But she declined to discuss renouncing the consent agreement -- a position that would force her to undercut her own legal arguments and her interpretation that the consent agreement violates the city charter.

Crittendon also declined to discuss a possible appeal after a lawsuit she filed -- which contended that the consent deal violates the city charter -- was dismissed by an Ingham County Circuit judge earlier this month. She has until July 5 to decide whether to continue the legal battle.

Crittendon filed the suit at the request of City Councilwoman JoAnn Watson and with the early support of Mayor Dave Bing and most of the City Council. Bing later changed his mind, saying he wanted Crittendon to drop the suit.

Crittendon said the deal violated the charter by entering Detroit into contracts with a state government in default to it for $224 million in disputed revenue sharing and other unpaid debts. The state said it does not owe Detroit the money.

After unsuccessfully seeking enough votes on the council to have Crittendon removed from her position as the city's chief lawyer and demoted to a civil service position, Bing said he would no longer rely on the city's law department for legal advice and instead bring in outside lawyers.

Council President Charles Pugh and several of his colleagues have indicated they would prefer the matter be dropped now that a judge has made a decision on Crittendon's challenge of the consent deal.

Bing said in a statement Thursday evening: "This is exactly the negative financial outcome and potential harm to the city that we've been working to avoid, and why I went before the City Council attempting to get their support to remove the corporation counsel."

Earlier Thursday, in response to inquiries from the Free Press, Stanton issued a statement in which he said: "Ms. Crittendon has indicated she will not sign the required bond transaction documents. Further, she has not provided assurances that she won't continue to challenge the legality of the agreement or file additional legal actions.

"Without those assurances, we do not believe we can move forward with the bond deal at this time, and the city's revenue sharing payments would begin to be intercepted in order to begin paying off the bonds that were issued this spring."

State officials had said Crittendon's suit raised doubts about whether Detroit can be required to pay off bonds it used to avoid running out of cash, so the state would use $80 million in revenue sharing to pay that bond debt unless Crittendon relented. Credit-rating agencies later cited her suit when they downgraded Detroit's bond ratings, making it more expensive for Detroit to borrow money.

On April 4, the City of Detroit entered a consent agreement with the state that helped the city avoid the appointment of an emergency manager to oversee its bleak financial condition. The city was in deficit of more than $200 million and had long term debt obligations of about $12 billion.

The city plans to lay off hundreds of employees in the next few months.

Contact Dawson Bell: 517-372-8661 or

Crittendon silent on whether she will drop legal challenge; $28 million in jeopardy

12:39 PM, June 29, 2012
Detroit Free Press

Krystal Crittendon, Detroit’s lead city attorney, won’t say publicly whether she plans to drop her legal challenge to the city’s financial stability agreement with the state.

But one of her top aides gave an indication that Crittendon doesn’t consider the matter over and she’s keeping her options open as the July 5 deadline for an appeal approaches.

Crittendon’s deputy corporation counsel, Edward Keenan, called Attorney General Bill Schuette’s office Thursday morning asking if the state would join Crittendon in asking a Lansing-area judge to reconsider his decision that tossed out Crittendon’s lawsuit earlier this month, according to a letter Schuette’s staff sent in reply.

Schuette’s response: No way.

The letter from Frank Monticello, a division chief in Schuette’s office, said the attorney general believes Crittendon’s claims are meritless.

“We are also concerned over the impact your request to prolong this needless litigation will have on the ability of the city of Detroit to meet its financial obligations,” Monticello wrote in a letter obtained today by the Free Press. “The uncertainty created by your litigation … will make any bond transaction untenable and lead to the further escalation of the city’s financial problems.”

The state says it will withhold $28 million in revenue sharing to Detroit today unless Crittendon backs down and pledges not to pursue any appeal. It wasn't clear this morning how quickly that withheld payment would impact the city's abilities to pay bills and meet payroll, but city officials previously warned that losing the revenue sharing money would have catastrophic consequences on the city's finances within only a matter of days.

But Naomi Patton, Detroit Mayor Dave Bing’s press secretary, said this afternoon that the city never expected to receive the $28 million revenue sharing payment until July 9, and city finances are on track — for now.

“There are no payroll issues at this point,” she said. “We are not at the point of no return.”

Still, Patton said the consent agreement challenges are having a negative effect on the city’s ability to pay back a $137 million bond that was approved in March to help the cash-strapped city stay afloat. In the three months since the sale of the bond was approved, the interest rate has jumped from 2.8% to 6.25%, costing the city an additional $10,000 per day, she said.

Crittendon filed suit challenging the consent agreement – which avoided appointment of an emergency manager in exchange for state oversight of Detroit’s finances – as a violation of the city charter. She says the state owes Detroit $224 million in revenue sharing and the city charter prohibits Detroit from contracting with entities in debt to the city.

Schuette’s office disputes that argument. Ingham County Circuit Judge William Collette threw out Crittendon’s lawsuit, saying she did not have the legal standing to sue without approval of Mayor Dave Bing and the City Council.

Collette did not rule directly on Crittendon’s arguments about violations of state law and the city charter, but Monticello’s letter makes it clear Schuette does not side with her.

“We urge you to accept our assurance that neither the Home Rule City Act nor the Detroit City Charter is applicable here and end this litigation now by providing a written assurance that you will not appeal Judge Collette’s decision,” Monticello wrote.

Crittendon could not be reached immediately for comment today.

Contact Matt Helms:, @matthelms or 313-222-1450

Right-Wing Group Appeals to Michigan Supreme Court to Block Repeal of Emergency Manager Law

Emergency manager law proponents appeal to Michigan Supreme Court

1:02 PM, June 29, 2012
Detroit Free Press

LANSING – A group that opposes the repeal of Michigan’s emergency manager law, Public Act 4, appealed to the Michigan Supreme Court today in a bid to keep the question off the ballot.

The Michigan Court of Appeals ruled earlier that the petition from Stand up for Democracy to ask voters to repeal the emergency manager law should be put on the Nov. 6 ballot.

Another group, Citizens for Fiscal Responsibility, is fighting the petition, arguing that the group used the wrong font size on some of the type in the petitions it circulated.

The State Board of Canvassers, which has two Republican and two Democratic members, did not certify the petition after members deadlocked 2-2 on whether it was valid.

A consent agreement in Detroit and emergency managers in Flint, Benton Harbor, Pontiac and Ecorse could all be affected by the ruling.

If the question is certified for the ballot, the law will be suspended until the election.

Contact Paul Egan: 517-372-8660 or

Providence, Rhode Island: Stop the Eviction of Joann Manning by Midfirst Bank

STOP FORCLOSURE ACTION...........Providence, RI 6-28-12

222 VERMONT AVE. Wasington Park off Eddy /Broad across from BoA & Citizens Bank


The RI Tenants and Homeowners Association & RI Peoples Assembly rallied were at the home of Joann Manning on Thursday, 6/28 at 4:00pm to protest her impending eviction.

Joann's family has been robbed of their home through foreclosure, but she wants her family to be able to stay in their home by paying rent. The bank owns the house and is trying to sell it for an obscene amount, so no one has purchased it. It will sit vacant if they get evicted.

The bank is not working with the Manning family and is planning to evict them next week.

Her eviction date is set for next week.

This is a small window of opportunity to pressure the banks to allow this family to stay in their homes! It's unacceptable that families are working hard to keep their homes and banks are kicking them to the curb. Housing is a human right!

You can help by:
Calling Midfirst Bank - (Midland Mortgage is their mortgage division.) on Thursday. The contact we've been working with is Mary Hensley in the customer service department. Folks can reach her at: 1 (800) 654-4566 Ext. 1204. The demand for Joann at this point is for her to be allowed to stay in her home - 222 Vermont Avenue in Providence - and pay rent to the bank.
Also read about:
California:Locals Rally at State Capitol to Stop Foreclosures

Locals Rally at State Capitol to Stop Foreclosures

Looted Benin Art Treasures "Donated" to Boston Museum by Lehman Bankers

Arts with Tajudeen Sowole

Friday, 29 June 2012

After Sotheby's controversial sales, grandson of another benefiary discloses over thirty of 1897 looted Benin art pieces

About two years after Sotheby’s was forced to cancel a proposed sales of some 15th century looted art pieces of Benin origin, another heir of one of the beneficiaries of the 1897 expedition has surfaced as 32 works from the ancient West African city have been donated to Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, U.S.

According to the Wall Street Journal and other media sources in the U.S., the 28 bronzes and six ivories are donations from New York collector, Robert Owen Lehman, who is the great-grandson of a famous American banker and collector Late Philip Lehman.

Mr. Lehman’s great-grandfather, it was reported, founded the defunct investment firm Lehman Bros, and started “buying West African artworks at auctions in the 1950s and has since amassed a prized group of bronze figures from Benin as well as several ivory objects from 15th-century Sierra Leone.”

In December 2010, Sotheby’s was forced to cancel a proposed London sales of six Benin artefacts, including an ivory-made pendant mask of Queen Idia, the London, after an outcry and protests over the questionable acquisition of the works.

Works in the Sotheby’s cancelled sales were from the descendants of Lionel Galway, an army officer whose efforts led to the looting of the Benin Kingdom in 1897. Late Colonel (Sir) Lionel Henry Gallway (he later changed his surname to Galway) was the Deputy Commissioner and Vice-consul in the then newly created Oil Rivers Protectorate.

Few hours ago, all the news sources monitored suggested that Lehman’s donated works are from the 1897 looting of Benin.

Another online news medium states: Highlights include a 15th-century bronze bust of a young man with tightly braided hair and almond-shaped eyes, his lips forming a subtle frown.

The work, Commemorative Head of a Defeated Neighboring Leader," once stood on an ancestral altar as proof of past triumphs.

Also in the group of donated works is a stylized royal portrait from the late 16th century, Commemorative Head of an Oba, which shows the ruler's head chin-deep in a collar made from coral beads and capped with a crown made from braided strings and other beads.

The Boston museum is planning an exhibition of the works.

Most interesting however, the Boston museum management was quoted as arguing that the gifts meet all legal standard. Senior curator of African and Oceanic Art of Museum of Fine Arts, Boston museum, Christraud Geary stated: “We have looked at the legal situation here at the museum and we’ve come to the conclusion that the gift meets all of our standards,” said Geary.

She said there was no official claims for the works, and Rogers agreed there has been no claim made.

The museum’s director, MFA director Malcolm Rogers said “What entered my thinking was that here was a wonderful opportunity to move into the public domain objects which hadn’t been seen for decades and which spoke so wonderfully of the great African culture.”

Response Message
29 June 2012 05:49

Obviously, the artefacts which seem to have come from the notorious 1897 invasion of Benin must be returned to the rightful owners, the Royal Family of Benin. Any suggestion that there are no legal problems with acquisitions from the criminal invasion is simply not true and those who express such views know they are not correct. We have stated in several articles the objections to the continued illegal detention or retention of African, particularly the Benin, artefacts in the West.

The Boston Museum of Fine Art has had a brush with Italy over looted artefacts from Italy and had been obliged to return some of the looted objects. But we should take note of the attitude and methods of the Italians that finally secured the return of their artefacts: they used threats of cutting of co-operation with museums that hold their looted objects, they pursued legal actions and used pressure, they tried an American curator who was in jail for a while, they visited the museums and made studies of the objects that were widely published in the media.

In short, Italy did all it could and obtained success. Is Nigeria going to learn from the successful experience of Italy? Has there been an approach from the Nigerians to the Italians in this matter or are they still taking advice and training from the very institutions that are illegally holding Nigerian artefacts?

ZANU-PF Politburo Declares Retired Lieutenant-Colonel Ngwenya a National Hero

Ngwenya declared national hero posthumously

Thursday, 28 June 2012 21:13
Herald Reporter

THE Politburo yesterday posthumously declared the late Retired Lieutenant-Colonel Chilisi Buka Ngwenya a national hero.

Cde Ngwenya, whose Chimurenga names were Elliot Mnyamane or Black Swine, died on Christmas Day last year and was buried in Plumtree.

Zanu-PF national chairman Cde Simon Khaya Moyo said Cde Ngwenya, who was born in 1948, was a courageous fighter who contributed immensely to the liberation of the country.

“Due to some difficulties, it has taken a bit long, but we have finally unanimously declared him a national hero.

“He was an astute cadre of the revolution and a great tactician and intelligence officer,” he said.

Cde Moyo said Cde Ngwenya was captured and tortured by the Ian Smith regime towards the end of the war.

“He was captured towards the end of the war and tortured severely. His stomach was ripped open and we actually thought he had died.

“He, however, survived and was released from jail at independence,” Cde Khaya Moyo said.

Cde Ngwenya was attested into the the Zimbabwe National Army and rose through the ranks to become a lieutenant-colonel, up to the time he retired in 1995.

He is survived by his wife and four children.

The Politburo also discussed a number of issues, including the status of two former members who intend to rejoin the party. The two are former Masvingo provincial chairman Daniel Shumba and Goodwill Shiri from the Midlands.

Cde Shumba left Zanu-PF when he formed the United People’s Party in 2006, while Cde Shiri contested the 2005 parliamentary elections as an independent after he failed to win the Zanu-PF candidacy for Mberengwa.

Zanu-PF secretary for information and publicity Cde Rugare Gumbo said the Politburo resolved that the two had to rejoin the party as ordinary card-carrying members.

“A number of issues came up, but the two major issues were that of Daniel Shumba and Goodwill Shiri.

“The Politburo reiterated that Daniel Shumba is not a member of Zanu-PF since he expelled himself when he formed his party.

“He cannot be admitted into the party without first disbanding his party and make a public statement to that effect together with his national executive,” he said.

Cde Gumbo said Cde Shumba will then have to apply to rejoin the party starting from the grassroots.

“The same applies to Cde Shiri. He has to go through the same procedure starting from the cell.”

Cde Gumbo said the meeting also discussed the ongoing District Co-ordinating Committee elections.