Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Zimbabwe News Update: Anti-Violence Drive Intensifies; ZCTU Leaders in Trouble; 9 MDC Supporters Arrested for Assault

Anti-violence drive intensifies

Herald Reporters

Efforts to curb violence have intensified with police in Masvingo dismantling "political bases" set up by some parties in the province while the Zanu-PF leadership in Mashonaland East and Central provinces has urged ruling party supporters to shun violence.

Masvingo police dismantled bases that had mushroomed in some districts in the province after engaging the parties involved. It is believed the bases were being used to perpetrate violence.

Officer Commanding Masvingo Province, Assistant Commissioner Mike Tanyanyiwa, confirmed the development yesterday.

"All bases that were in the province were dismantled. There are no more bases. We talked to all the parties involved," he said. He said the bases were in Bikita and Gutu while the rest of the province had none.

Asst Comm Tanyanyiwa, who said peace and tranquillity were prevailing in Masvingo at the moment, was quick to indicate that the province always recorded a higher rate of murder cases than any in the country which were not politically linked.

Asst Comm Tanyanyiwa dismissed a report carried in the private media over the weekend claiming that Zanu-PF supporters attacked and killed an MDC activist, Zvidzai Mapurisa, in the Gunikuni area in Masvingo South.

He said the alleged MDC activist was, in fact, a Zanu-PF supporter who died following a fight with fellow ruling party supporters over a misunderstanding.

Asst Comm Tanyanyiwa said he was not aware that Mapurisa’s relatives were refusing to bury him.

"What I know is that his body was taken to Bulawayo for a post-mortem and relatives were waiting for the release of the body," he said.

Asst Comm Tanyanyiwa said Mapurisa’s assailants had since been arrested and were facing murder charges.

Meanwhile, Zanu-PF chairperson of the information and publicity sub-committee in Mashonaland Central Province Cde Tazvitya Mapfumo has warned Zimbabweans to be wary of MDC-T and its Western masters who were creating an excuse for foreign intervention through stage-managing and perpetrating violence in the country.

In a statement yesterday, Cde Mapfumo said the Zanu-PF leadership in the province condemned all acts of violence, arson, malicious injury to property and any form of harassment. He said reports of violence in Mashonaland Central emanating from the opposition and foreign Press, coupled with the surge in politically-motivated crimes, should be viewed in the context of MDC-T’s desperate efforts.

Cde Mapfumo said Mashonaland Central, as the vanguard of the ruling party, was particularly attractive to the opposition’s scheme of building a crescendo of a crisis in order to create an avenue for Western powers masquerading as the United Nations or the international community.

"Most of the incidents of violence in our province haveoccurred in Zanu-PF strongholds in which our supporters and sympathisers are the victims.

"There is a nexus between the itinerant globe-trotting by the opposition leaders to paint the picture of a crisis in Zimbabwe and contrived acts of violence in our province," he said.

He said people should recall the numerous stillborn attempts by the opposition and its Western sponsors to bring Zimbabwe before the UN Security Council.

Cde Mapfumo said the opposition leaders should take a cue from President Mugabe in publicly appealing for a peaceful campaign especially now that Zimbabwe was heading for a presidential run-off.

In Mashonaland East, party provincial information secretary Cde Kenneth Mutiwekuziva said it was time Zimbabweans learnt to tolerate political differences and let their votes determine the country’s political future.

He was speaking at a ceremony to hand over money and food to small-scale farmers and miners in Uzumba-Maramba-Pfungwe.

"We, as Zimbabweans, are brothers and sisters. We should bury our differences and focus on national development, as it is the only way we can emancipate ourselves.

"In Mashonaland East, many cases of political violence have been reported, which include kidnappings of war veterans, torching of houses and torturing people for wearing their party’s regalia. We urge our people to desist from such activities.

"In Mudzi North, we lost one ex-combatant who was kidnapped by suspected MDC-T youths; in Macheke, houses were burnt; and in Uzumba at Chiweso village, two houses were burnt by suspected MDC-T supporters," he said.

He said people in the village were now living in fear.

"You should bear in mind that Zimbabwe is the only country in Africa that has tasted real independence. Some of these countries are enjoying cosmetic independence because the people do not control their resources.

"Perhaps that is the reason why we are hated by the West because very soon we are going to develop our own vibrant industry and stop importing products," he said.

Cde Mutiwekuziva said Government had empowered Zimbabweans through programmes such as farm mechanisation.

He paid tribute to Bangladesh businessman Mr Iqbal Kabir Bhuyain, who donated a wheelchair, maputi (popcorn) gun making machine and food.

The donations were made in Maramba, Mawadza and Chiunze wards.

Mr Bhuyain said his wish was to help the sick, the old and the disabled in the community as well as help assist youth to start irrigation farming and small-scale mining.

"We have invited experts from Bangladesh who will work with communities, showing them how to run their small businesses.

"Last year our country won a Nobel Prize for micro-finance projects and we would like to share our experiences with our Zimbabwean counterparts," he said.

Falsehoods land ZCTU leaders in trouble

Court Reporter

ZIMBABWE Congress of Trade Unions leaders were yesterday arraigned before the courts for allegedly uttering falsehoods believed to be prejudicial to the State while addressing workers at a Workers’ Day commemoration at Dzivaresekwa Stadium.

ZCTU secretary-general Wellington Chibebe and president Lovemore Matombo, who were represented by Mr Aleck Muchadehama, yesterday had their bail application thrown out by Harare magistrate Ms Olivia Mariga.

In her brief ruling, Ms Mariga said the two were not proper candidates for bail.

Appearing for the State, prosecutor Mr Public Mpofu stated that on May 1 this year at Dzivaresekwa Stadium, the duo addressed a gathering of 1 500 workers who attended the commemorations.

It is the State’s contention that the two told the people that they had received information that Zanu-PF supporters had killed two teachers at Kondo School in Guruve before urging the workers to revenge.

"We have received a message that two teachers were killed at Kondo School in Guruve by Zanu-PF supporters and as such workers should take revenge using any means possible" said the two leaders. According to court papers, the utterances were false and were calculated at inciting the workers to revolt against the Government.

The duo was remanded in custody to May 23.

Mr Muchadehama gave notice to the court that he would apply for refusal of further remand on the next remand date.

MP-elect faces rape charge

Court Reporter

THE recently-elected Member of the House of Assembly for Epworth, Eliah Jembere of MDC-T, yesterday appeared at the Harare Magistrates’ Courts on allegations of raping the wife of one of his party’s councillors.

Jembere (30) is accused of raping the wife of an MDC-T councillor in the area while her husband was in remand prison for a political violence offence.

Regional magistrate Mr Daniel Shonhiwa remanded the MP-elect in custody to May 27. Mr Shonhiwa advised Jembere, through his lawyer, Ms Caroline Nyanzou of Gill, Godlonton and Gerrans, to apply for bail at the High Court, which has jurisdiction to grant bail in such serious cases.

The State, led by prosecutor Mr Patson Nyazamba, alleges that four days after the March 29 elections, the woman went to Harare Remand Prison where her husband was detained.

On her way back from the visit, it is alleged that Jembere telephoned her and invited her to the party headquarters at Harvest House where she was to get bus fare.

She met Jembere, who stays in Sunningdale, at the offices and he offered to take her to Rezende Street bus terminus, where she was to get transport, before changing his mind and deciding to drive her to Epworth.

As the two approached Zinyerere Cemetery in the suburb, it is alleged that Jembere parked his car by the roadside and proposed love to the woman.

Before the woman could respond, he allegedly started fondling her.

The State alleges that Jembere told the woman that he would facilitate her husband’s release if she gave in to his demands.

When the woman turned down the proposal, Jembere is alleged to have raped her once in the car before dropping her at her house.

The woman later notified her husband and the matter was reported to the police, leading to Jembere’s arrest.

9 MDC supporters arrested for assault, destroying property

Chinhoyi Bureau

NINE MDC supporters have been arrested for allegedly assaulting Zanu-PF supporters and destroying property worth over $600 billion in Mhangura.

Godfrey Rangwana (27), Brighton Chiweshe (28), Morgan Chihwehwete (28), Themba Katumba (40), Mambo Ndlovu (46), Themba Banda (42), Tauriono Kamukombu (40) and Peter Kadombe (38) were arrested last week in connection with an orgy of violence that left houses damaged and led to the injuries of at least seven.

They have since appeared before the Chinhoyi magistrate, Mr Tawanda Katehwe for initial remand and were remanded in custody to today on their bail application.

The MDC youth allegedly went on a rampage last week, stoning property that included houses and shops and attacked people they suspected to be Zanu-PF supporters with knobkerries, stones and sticks.

The estimated value of the damaged property is $684 billion and the State led by prosecutor, Mr Douglas Shumbayaonda is opposing bail.

Hackers sabotage Herald website

Herald Reporter

HACKERS sabotaged The Herald’s website database on Sunday night, changing headlines on the latest web edition.

The hackers, believed to be operating outside Zimbabwe, managed to get through security systems on both the server and database at the Internet service provider hosting the website and changed headlines on the front page.

The changes were sufficiently simple and basic that all visitors realised the site had been hacked. Within a few hours of the attack, the site was taken off the Internet while new security measures were implemented.

Other Zimpapers titles, which all have their own unique protection, were not affected.

Zimpapers IT manager Mr Thompson Ndovi yesterday said the sabotage probably took place between Sunday evening and Monday morning and measures were being put in place to make a second assault far harder.

"The indications are that somebody managed to access our servers hosted by our Internet service provider and corrupted our database so that the news headlines we had uploaded changed.

"The uploading process itself is very secure and it is up to the ISP to provide adequate security, primarily through firewalls, for our websites.

"The Internet is generally not secure in Zimbabwe and it is only because there are few opportunities in hacking that few Zimbabweans are interested in it. But The Herald is certainly vulnerable especially in the obtaining political situation, and we are putting in place measures, along with our ISP, to improve security.

"We are not at liberty to divulge what these measures are as this would alert the hackers and give them the opportunity to try and do this again," Mr Ndovi said.

However, the measures taken mean that the data used for Sunday night’s hacking will no longer work and it will be considerably harder to generate the data for another successful attack on the site.

After a successful attack on the Chronicle website several years ago, probably by a disgruntled former employee, Zimpapers upgraded security significantly. The hacking of The Herald website means that almost all Zimbabwean websites are vulnerable.

Hackers are people who break into computer and network security systems for motives that can range from political beliefs to financial gain. Internet banking systems are a common target.

Sophisticated software is now readily available within the "hacker community" that helps hackers identify servers hosting a website or database and then enter this to change it or to steal private information.

Identity theft and raids on banking sites have become the most common criminal activity on the Internet.

Even exceptionally well-protected servers, such as some of those owned by the US military, have been successfully attacked.

However, there are measures that can be taken to make it far harder for hackers to get into a database or site and it looks as if almost all Zimbabwean site owners and hosts will have to upgrade security now that hackers are active here.

There has been discussion in recent months in some of the external Zimbabwe forums on the Ielad websitenternet egging on hackers to attack Zimpapers.

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