Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Zimbabwe Democratization Advocate Morgan Tsvangirai Dead at 65

Zimbabwe Democratization Advocate Morgan Tsvangirai Dead at 65

Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai known for his lengthy, dogged quest to end the regime of longtime President Robert Mugabe, has died, just months after Mugabe caved to pressure to step down after decades in power.

His life’s mission took its toll: Tsvangirai, who was 65, died Wednesday in South Africa after a long battle with cancer.

"I can confirm that he died this evening. The family communicated this to me," Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party Vice President Elias Mudzuri told Reuters.

Even in his final months, Tsvangirai did not slow down in his life’s mission to bring political change to Zimbabwe.

He got his wish shortly before his death. In late 2017, Mugabe resigned after 38 years as president. His right-hand man, Emmerson Mnangagwa, was sworn in to replace him.

Tsvangirai never got to lead his Movement for Democratic Change to victory, but his supporters say his efforts were what mattered.

“Morgan Tsvangirai is the first man to actually have the bravery to stand against Mugabe and bring about results," MDC member Austin Moyo said.

Tsvangirai challenged Mugabe time and time again, contesting Mugabe’s quest for president in 2002, 2008 and 2013 -- elections marked with repression, violence and irregularities.

He spent nearly as much time on the campaign trail as he did in jail for an assortment of politically motivated trials and arrests.

He also tried to make peace with the longtime leader, joining a government of national unity and serving as prime minister from 2009 to 2013. That move was met with mixed public reaction, and the coalition eventually fell apart.

He will be remembered most for his tenacity, political analyst Gideon Chitanga said.

“He did not flinch, he did not betray the struggle for democracy, he did not surrender — he even sacrificed his victory in 2008 to try and accommodate the military regime in Zimbabwe, fronted by Robert Mugabe, as a way of facilitating a smooth transition to democracy," Chitanga said.

"The challenges of that period we can discuss about, but I think he is probably one of the greatest statesmen Zimbabwe has ever produced," he added.

Tsvangirai had been fighting colon cancer since 2016. But in his own way, in the end, he won the bigger fight that kept him going for so long — seeing the end of the Mugabe regime.

Saturday, 10 February 2018

High Court To Rule On O-Level Rewrite

High Court To Rule On O-Level Rewrite

Two parents in Harare have approached the High Court to cancel the scheduled resitting of the November 2017 Ordinary Level English Language Paper 2 public examination.

In their urgent chamber application, Messrs Victor Mukomeka and Chingasiyeni Govhati argue that Primary and Secondary Education Minister Professor Paul Mavima breached constitutional provisions by annulling the results when only the Zimbabwe Schools Examinations Council could do so.

They want the resit conducted variably or to be cancelled altogether — a matter the court will likely determine early this week.

Prof Mavima and Zimsec will have to respond.

Government last week ordered over 260 000 candidates to resit the examination after widespread cheating had been detected. The resit is scheduled for this Friday.

English Language is among compulsory Ordinary Level subjects in Zimbabwe.

Messrs Mukomeka and Govhati are represented by Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights in collaboration with Justice for Children’s Trust.
High Court To Rule On O-Level Rewrite
Their application reads, in part: “(The examination) be declared null and void as the minister acted beyond his authority of which the Act empowers, in Section 34, only the examinations board to annul examination results.

“The minister confirms that the cheating was identified during the examination session. It is not clear why the English Paper 2 examination was allowed to continue, and why Zimsec proceeded to mark the exams, only to annul results on the 8th of February 2018, some months later.

“It is not clear why remedial action was not taken timeously and instantly upon realising the cheating or even the potential for cheating. Essentially, Zimsec allowed an exam in which they detected cheating to proceed and proceeded to mark it, only to annul results afterwards.

“The costs attached to this kind of action and the rationality and reasonableness of this decision alone does not withstand scrutiny.”

Prof Mavima could not be reached to comment on the lawsuit yesterday.

He had, however, told The Sunday Mail earlier that public examination cheats would soon be jailed and face a five-year ban from sitting national aptitude tests.

“We are not going back on what we have decided; people should give us time to implement what have decided. We are working on the entire system to ensure we restore integrity to the education system and deal with the entire value chain of the examination system.

“We will uproot all rot. Strict measures are required. So, we are saying no fine, but jail terms for those found guilty. I assure you the ministry and Zimsec are re-looking the system — from exam setting to distribution of exam material — as we are determined to find the culprits and remove them from our system.

“Exam cheating and leaks have dragged on for long; so there’s no turning back on these strict measures.”

Zimsec spokesperson Ms Nicolette Dhlamini added: “We are working together with the ministry to make sure these criminals are brought to book. Right now, structures are being put in place to ensure we uproot all the culprits. As of now, some have been taken to court.

“Although we have not yet compiled statistics, there was widespread cheating and some pupils were informed that their results had been cancelled. We are not going to allow those who were notified of results cancellation to sit for examinations in the next two to five years.

“So, English Language Paper 2 will be sat by everyone except those whose results were nullified. May all pupils be clearly informed that it is important for (candidates) to sit this exam as results for this subject will not be provided on the basis of Paper 1 performance only, but assessment for both Papers 1 and 2.”

Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe president Dr Takavafira Zhou was livid.

“It is certainly ill-conceived and inappropriate. Instead, they could have simply used a normal distribution curve to give marks for the paper rather than waste resources on a subject that will have minimal effect on candidates’ results.

“When we told Zimsec and the ministry that there were exam leakages, they said it was localised. If re-writing was done well in 2017, it would have been more appropriate. However, ordering them to re-write three months down the line is ill-conceived and punishes many innocent students.

“Our real focus must be on closing leakages at Zimsec; printing, public and private schools. Heads must roll at Zimsec. Management slept on duty.”
A Must Read - Prophet Makandiwa Case Takes New Twist

A Must Read - Prophet Makandiwa Case Takes New Twist

United Family International Church (UFIC) leader Prophet Emmanuel Makandiwa, who was recently slapped with a $6,5 million suit by former congregants, has finally broken his silence, exposing the rot surrounding the much-publicised lawsuit.

Prophet Makandiwa, his wife Ruth and the church were listed as defendants in the $6,5 million claim by a Harare couple claiming they lost a fortune after being misled by false prophecies.

Businessman Mr Upenyu Mashangwa and his wife Blessing — both ex-UFIC members — allege Prophet Makandiwa in 2012 misrepresented that they would encounter a “debt cancellation miracle” and encouraged them to continue “seeding”. However, the couple’s house in Marlborough, Harare was later attached and sold for $500 000 instead of $700 000. They are now demanding the $700 000 from Prophet Makandiwa.

The Mashangwas want Prophet Makandiwa to pay them $1,7 million for recommending a de-registered lawyer who was to dupe them, among other claims. Responding to the claim, Prophet Makandiwa’s lawyer Advocate Lewis Uriri yesterday filed the defendant’s plea giving the church and its two leaders’ side of the story.
A Must Read - Prophet Makandiwa Case Takes New Twist
Adv Uriri, on behalf of the church leaders, dismissed as false the claims that the couple’s Marlborough property was attached and sold for $500 000 to recover a debt they owed ZB Bank. A research by Prophet Makandiwa’s lawyer revealed that the Mashangwas were never indebted to ZB Bank as alleged.

“Defendants plead by reference to a diligent search in the office of the Registrar of the High Court that ZB Bank Limited never issued out any process against the plaintiffs or Carmeco (a firm owned by the Mashangwas) in 2012 or 2013, praying for judgment in the sum of $500 000 or any other sum and that no judgment was ever entered against the plaintiffs as alleged,” Adv Uriri said.

A further investigation, the lawyers stated, showed that the property in question was never attached in execution as alleged by the Mashangwas. In fact, the plea reads, the said property was separately sold to two legal persons at higher prices and the Mashangwas realised value for a double sale.

“On the contrary, the plaintiffs in their capacity as directors of Carmeco, sold beneficial ownership of the said property to Nemaji Family Trust represented by one Stewart Nyamushaya by agreement dated 29 February 2012, which agreement they admit, but avoid in case number HC6417 /14 on the basis that their nominated receiving agent did not in fact pass on the purchase price to them,” reads the papers.

“The purchase price was paid in full to their nominated agent McDowells International, which amount they recovered from the said McDowells by judgment number HH-288-13 handed down under case number HC2771 /13.

“The judgment was upheld on appeal by the Supreme Court on March 7, 2014.”

The same property was also sold to Walter Magaya.

“The said Walter Magaya and Tendai Magaya executed a power of attorney ‘authorised by the directors of Carmeco’ on the 4th of February 2015 to pass a surety mortgage bond number 379 /2015 over the property as security for a loan advanced by Stanbic Bank to Tendai Magaya and is effectively exercising beneficial ownership as will be revealed by all subsequent mortgage bonds over the property,” reads the papers.

Prophet Makandiwa argued that the Mashangwas misled the court by claiming that the said de-registered lawyer Tichaona Mawere represented them in their court case. Instead, the court record shows that the couple engaged a lawyer called Tichaona Govero of Govero Law Chambers.

Prophet Makandiwa, relying on court records, also dismissed as false claims that the Mashagwas lost the matter in question as a result of the fraudulent misconduct of Mawere. Prophet Makandiwa said the prophecy involving the de-registered lawyer was misinterpreted as it related to Mrs Mawere, who had problems with his husband.
The prophecy related to her personal and family circumstances, which are not relevant for the purposes of this plea. The first defendant asked her where her husband was and Mawere came forward from the congregation.
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“First defendant advised the couple that he had perceived that the two were using their legal training and skills to test each other’s intellect and legal acumen in the home, which prophecy the couple affirmed,” reads the papers.

“The first defendant counselled the couple to desist from utilising their legal skills in the home. The first defendant counselled Mawere’s wife on Mawere’s intelligence and stated that she would never win an argument against him.”

Prophet Makandiwa also denied knowledge of the $1,1 million that Mr and Mrs Mashangwa claim to have contributed to the church.

“It is doubtful that the plaintiffs had the capacity to make and consistently sustain such enormous offerings given that during the same period, the first plaintiff was sued by Stanbic Bank in HC7909 /14 over $30 000 loan,” reads the papers.

The lawyers also dismissed as false claims that the Mashangwas shut down Oceane Parfums business after the church leader communicated that the products were cancerous.
You Have To Read This - Zimsec Lays Out Rewrite Logistics

You Have To Read This - Zimsec Lays Out Rewrite Logistics

The Zimbabwe School Examinations Council (ZIMSEC) yesterday said the printing of English Paper II will be completed on Monday ahead of delivery in the early hours of the exam date on Friday. 

In a statement yesterday, Zimsec director Mr Esau Nhandara also indicated that boarding schools will provide one night accommodation for the candidates and meals.

“While normal communication channels had been employed — alerting examination centres and candidates of the 16th of February 2018 examination resit procedures, it is further emphasised that, the printing of the 2018 English Language Paper II would be concluded on Monday 12 February, 2018 ahead of delivery at centres at 8am on the 16th of February 2018.

“The English Language Paper II examination will start at 10am on the same day. Zimsec will take custody of all candidate scripts by 2.30pm on the same day. All 26 546 candidates registered at 181 boarding schools are assured that these centres have been engaged to enable single overnight accommodation and associated meals for this limited window,” he said.
You Have To Read This - Zimsec Lays Out Rewrite Logistics
“The remaining 243 223 candidates at 2 010 registered day school examination centres are expected to present themselves at 9.30am at the latest in preparation for the 10am examination.”

Mr Nhandara said security measures have been reviewed and augmented. Categorised centres will collect and return their scripts under armed escort. He said candidates should report to their original 2017 examination centres to retake the paper.

“Question papers will be distributed to centres in line with the original candidate registration numbers. Changes to the 2017 registration details cannot be achieved timeously and will result in distribution, material inadequacies and candidate identification challenges,” said Mr Nhandara.

He said it is important for candidates to retake the examination as results will not be provided on the basis of Paper 1 performance in the subject.

“While Paper 1 concentrates on middle and higher order skills, Paper II covers the whole range from the lowest to the highest order skills and learner linguistic competence can, therefore, only be fully assessed through both papers,” he said.

Mr Nhandara said candidates barred from taking the examination paper had already been informed and should not write the examination. He urged candidates to satisfy themselves that the question paper envelopes are sealed before invigilators proceed to distribute them.

Mr Nhandara said where envelopes were tampered with candidates and centres should alert Zimsec on their hotline. He said stakeholder participation in safeguarding the examination would ensure the identification and containment of examination breaches.

“Please be advised that candidate performance could not be reliably premised on the November 2017 English Paper II answer scripts, as these scripts indicated unacceptable breach levels. While initial indications had been that breaches were localised, investigations through subsequent processes revealed a wider spread of the problem.

“The magnitude and complexity of the malpractice informed the need for appropriate escalation before implementation of this outcome in tandem with examination regulations,” he said.

Thursday, 8 February 2018

Cameroon Exclusive News - 'We Are In A War' - Cameroon Unrest Confronted By Army Offensive

Cameroon Exclusive News - 'We Are In A War' - Cameroon Unrest Confronted By Army Offensive

Daniel was in his home in the village of Bole in Southwest Cameroon on Feb. 2 when he heard gunfire and a commotion. Moments later, his house was ablaze, flames licking the walls.

Despite the fire, Daniel dared not leave. Outside, dozens of Cameroonian soldiers charged with putting down a separatist insurgency had descended from trucks, opened fire on fleeing residents and set buildings alight, he said. Daniel’s brother Ekoda, who was outside the house, said he saw seven dead bodies.

Army spokesman Colonel Didier Badjeck said claims that houses were burned and people shot in Bole last week were “totally false”, and he denied that soldiers were mistreating residents in other villages detailed in this story.

“We are sure that the soldiers are respecting human rights. If we don’t do that we are very foolish,” Badjeck told Reuters by telephone, adding that any misconduct by soldiers is dealt with strongly. “If you want success, you have to have the population on side.”

A government spokesman did not respond to requests for comment.

The Bole raid, corroborated by other witnesses, echoes near identical operations by the army in villages across Southwest Cameroon.

The accounts shed new light on the fast deteriorating security situation in Anglophone Cameroon and on the tactics used by the military to quell a growing secessionist movement that has killed 22 soldiers and policemen in a campaign to split Cameroon’s English-speaking minority from Yaounde.

The fighting has become a threat to President Paul Biya’s longstanding rule and to stability in the oil- and cocoa-producing Central African country where presidential elections are scheduled for October.
Cameroon Exclusive News - 'We Are In A War' - Cameroon Unrest Confronted By Army Offensive
There are about five million Anglophones in Cameroon, a nation of 24 million. Most of Cameroon’s oil is found off the coast of the Anglophone region, according to the International Crisis Group.

Interviews with a dozen residents and separatist leaders in the English-speaking Southwest and Northwest regions reveal another worrying trend for Biya: the crackdown is increasing support for a growing number of armed groups bent on secession.

“They are fighting against us because they don’t want us to separate from them, but we have already made up our minds,” said Daniel, who spoke from his bed in a nearby hospital, medical gauze covering his left arm, his face charred. Daniel escaped the burning house when the soldiers left, but not before suffering severe burns.

Daniel, like most residents quoted in this story, asked that his full name not be used for fear of reprisals.

There have been secessionists ever since Anglophone Cameroon gained independence from Britain in 1961 and voted to join in a federation with neighboring Francophone Cameroon, which had won independence from France a year earlier.

French-speaking politicians held sway in government and the promise of equality for Anglophones faded. They were forced to drive on the right hand side of the road, adopt the metric system and take on the CFA franc currency.

In 1972 President Ahmadou Ahidjo declared an end to federalism, erasing regional autonomy completely. His successor, Paul Biya, centralized things further when he came to power in 1982. He removed the second star from the national flag which represented the Anglophone regions.

A goat walks past burned and damaged buildings in Kembong, south-west region of Cameroon December 29, 2017. Picture taken December 29, 2017. REUTERS/Josiane Chemou

The separatist movement remained on the political fringe for decades until late 2016, when English-speaking lawyers and teachers protested peacefully against having to work in French.

The government cracked down hard and civilians were killed in clashes with police. The crowds grew in response, and so did the violence. In October 2017, more than 20 were killed during marches, according to Amnesty international. The military fired live rounds on protesters from helicopter gunships.

By mid-2017, many who had previously wanted just a return to federalism were calling for secession. At marches, protesters waved the blue and white flag of Ambazonia - the separatists’ proposed new state. An armed group called the Ambazonian Defence Force began attacking government soldiers in Anglophone regions.

“In 2016, people were calling for non-violence, and it was the same for most of 2017. But in 2018, people no longer see that rhetoric as holding water. They have to defend themselves,” said Tapang Ivo Tanku, an Anglophone activist based in the United States.

The formal secessionist leadership, known as the Government of Ambazonia, has distanced itself from attacks on soldiers. Its leader, Ayuk Tabe, was arrested last month in Nigeria and was deported to Yaounde. It was a symbolic blow to the movement, and Nigeria’s cooperation with Younde worries some separatists.

But even supporters say the Ambazonian government risks irrelevance as the separatist movement takes on a life of its own.

The ADF has been joined by newer armed groups made up mostly of young men. The Vipers has claimed responsibility for burning government buildings. The Manyu Tigers says its ranks are growing and it has carried out attacks on military checkpoints.

“There are hundreds of us, but we are aiming for 2,000-3,000. We want to start attacking wholesale,” said the group’s financial director, Ambe Simon, in a telephone interview. “We are receiving money from all over the world. We have $50,000 at the moment. We are getting weapons from the black market.”

Faced with this threat, the Cameroonian military in December fanned out into the villages among the cocoa farms and forests near the Nigerian border that have become the separatists’ stronghold.

More than 40,000 have since fled to Nigeria, according to the United Nations, and most villages are deserted. Communications are slow in the rural areas and the internet is frequently shut off, but interviews with residents reveal what they were fleeing from.

Residents of Kembong in southwest Cameroon call Dec. 18 “the day of misfortune”, when troops in search of rebels came to the town. An 81-year-old man, James Oben Ndi, had to flee after his house was burned down.

“All my effects were in that house. There was my daughter’s sewing machine, her clothes. Our whole life was in that house,” he told Reuters during an interview in a church in a nearby town where he has sought shelter.

On Jan. 14, soldiers entered the village of KwaKwa, a few kilometers from Bole, looking for information about a soldier killed there. Villagers fled to nearby cocoa farms as the soldiers opened fire.

A resident named Alex returned under cover of darkness the following evening to assess the damage: most of KwaKwa’s wooden houses were burned to ash and dead bodies lay in the street.

He helped bury more than ten bodies behind a burned-out house. His account was corroborated by two other residents.

“Everybody was running in all directions,” Alex said in a telephone interview. “Things are not going well. We are in a war.”