Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Debate Sharpens Over Zimbabwe Economic Policy
January 1, 2015
Opinion & Analysis
Zimbabwe Herald

Government and economic stakeholders are working on addressing the Doing Business Environment in a bid to create a conducive environment that encourages local and foreign investment, but lack of clarity on the indigenisation law seems to be negatively affecting these efforts.

If properly pursued, efforts to improve the business climate will translate into creation of employment and sustainable economic growth.

However, we are concerned that lack of a common voice from Government on some aspects of the indigenisation policy will work against these efforts. We say this in light of the seemingly differing positions on reforms relating to the indigenisation law.

While we applaud Acting President Mnangagwa’s pronouncement that Government would announce new policies that are more biased towards relaxation, we are, however, concerned that some senior Government officials have made contrasting statements on the indigenisation policy.

Only two days after VP Mnangagwa made such an encouraging statement, the nation was taken aback after Indigenisation Minister Christopher Mushohwe said there will be no review of the empowerment law.

These contradicting positions will certainly affect Government’s efforts to turnaround the economy and the successful implementation of Zim-Asset.

Which position should the nation follow in this case? Which position should investors use to make decisions? Whom should business follow? This is why we call on Government to clarify the indigenisation law so that we have one voice and one position. It is uncalled for to have differing policy pronouncements from the same leadership in a space of one month.

This will give impetus to our detractors.

The indigenisation laws are part of the bigger scheme relating to the Doing Business Environment. Therefore, the law should not be implemented in isolation of other investment policies. Now that Government, together with development partners, is addressing the Doing Business Environment, it is an opportunity that we should take to synchronise our policies. If the review is to affect other economic policies, the indigenisation law should not be an exception. This is why Acting President Mnangagwa’s pronouncement should carry the day as it is in line with the plethora of reforms the Government is undertaking to improve the business environment.

This is in the spirit of encouraging investment, resuscitating industry and the manufacturing sector with a view to creating employment in line with Zim-Asset.

That is the spirit that should dictate Government policies in the New Year.

This does not mean that we should do away with indigenisation. Not at all, the policy is here to stay. But there are some concerns relating to the law which make investment difficult. Acting President Mnangagwa correctly said that the review to be announced early this year will make investment easy.

We call on Government to steadfastly and speedily announce the new policy measures referred to by the Acting President.

It is not the indigenisation law only that requires attention. Acting President Mnangagwa mentioned that part of the measures included doing away with bureaucracy to speed up investment.

Our economy requires injection of new money to address the liquidity crunch.

The economy continues to be dragged down by liquidity shortages, antiquated plant and machinery, cheap imports and high cost of production. Significant investment into the economy is needed for re-tooling, re-capitalisation and overhaul of the antiquated machinery, and for value addition.

Given the need to continue improving our investment climate in light of the need for both domestic and foreign investment, the 2015 Budget needs to further provide clarity on our Indigenisation and Empowerment Framework.

This will ensure consistency and predictability in Government’s engagement with stakeholders and investors.

We, therefore, need to look at all the investment policies to align them to international best practices. No nation can succeed in isolation.

Therefore, Government’s sustained efforts to clarify the indigenisation law will provide the catalyst for new investment.

Clarity of economic policies steers growth and opens a nation to investment, both local and foreign.

Investment laws give guidelines and direction which potential investors both local and foreign can use to make investment decisions. No investor, existing or new, will take a position before first understanding the investment environment.

Already Government has instructed the downward review of key cost drivers that have a bearing on the country’s pricing structure.

A recent Cost Drivers Analysis of our economy showed that the nation’s international trade flow and its composition point towards a sustained loss of competitiveness.

Indeed 2015 looks set to bring good tidings for this country, but the onus is on Government and all stakeholders to actively pursue policies and strategies that will make this possible.

Foreigners ’lucky to get 49% ownership in Zimbabwe’ – Mushowe

24th ⁄ December ⁄ 2014

Harare – Zimbabwe’s new Indigenisation Minister Christopher Mushowe says foreign investors are “very lucky” to get 49 percent shares in businesses they have set up, the Herald newspaper reported on Wednesday.

In his first comments on President Robert Mugabe’s indigenisation policy since his appointment earlier this month, Mushowe said: “In fact 49 percent is the maximum for foreign shareholding and 51 percent is the minimum or indigenous holding.”

Under the laws, whites and foreigners are obliged to arrange for locals to take over 51 percent of large companies they own.

Critics say the regulations, which came into effect in 2010, scare away foreign investment.

“So it’s not cast in concrete that it’s 49 percent, it can be one percent because it is the maximum and 51 percent can be 99 percent because it’s the minimum,” the indigenisation minister reportedly said.

Mushowe’s comments appeared to be in direct response to hints from new Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa earlier this week that the authorities would “relax” indigenisation laws.

Would-be investors have previously criticised the government for sending out conflicting signals on indigenisation.

Mushowe replaced former indigenisation minister Francis Nhema who was sacked as part of Mugabe’s ongoing purge of ruling Zanu-PF party officials linked to Joice Mujuru, Zimbabwe’s first ever female vice president, who was sacked for allegedly trying to oust the president.

She and her allies deny the charge.


2014 business round up

January 1, 2015 in Business

IT’S a miracle that the economy did not completely shut down in 2014 as political leaders had other pressing matters: fighting for positions.


The leaders did not give priority to the economy lending credence to claims by Italian philosopher Niccolo Machiavelli that politics have no relation to morals. The amount of effort and resources deployed to decimate former Vice President Joice Mujuru and her allies would have been enough to steer the economy to double digit growth rates.

NewsDay gives a rundown of some of the highlights of the difficult 2014.

CEOs smile all the way to the bank

There was uproar at the beginning of the year amid revelations CEOs of parastatals and state-owned entities were earning super salaries at a time the entities were failing to offer basic services.

The Premier Service Medical Aid Society (PSMAS)—though it is not a parastatal—stirred the hornet’s nest when it emerged that former CEO Cuthbert Dube’s salary and allowances was over $500 000 when the society was failing to provide services to subscribers.

Government recently said salaries would be reviewed on a case by case basis looking at the performance of the economy.

Mega deals, then what?

In August, President Robert Mugabe and his delegation were in China where, according to state media, nine mega deals were signed. Similarly, a high powered Russian delegation was to visit Zimbabwe in which Moscow said it would pour $3 billion in a platinum venture in Darwendale. As the year came to an end yesterday, nothing has been said of those mega deals.

Send ‘em home

More than 5000 workers were retrenched in 2014 as companies struggled to stay afloat. According to the Confederation for Zimbabwe Industries, the Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) stood at 43,5% this year, signalling that there is no respite to the economic decline. PMI above 50% means the manufacturing sector is growing and expanding. A PMI under 50% means the manufacturing sector is contracting.

The capacity utilisation in the manufacturing sector shed 3,3 percentage points to 36,3%.

New broom, back to basics at RBZ

John Mangudya took over the reins at the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) smoking the peace pipe. Mangudya went back to the basics saying the economy needed to stimulate production for economic recovery through pursuing consistent, transparent and predictable economic policy measures.

The tone of the statement was conciliatory as he sought broader support from all stakeholders to steer the economic ship out of troubled waters.

Weak banks find the going tough

Tetrad had to obtain a court order to ward off marauding creditors. At a scheme meeting in August, the creditors agreed to waive claims pending the recapitalisation of the bank.

The moratorium was further extended to January 31. RBZ responded by stopping the troubled bank from taking deposits and granting loans until it had finalised its recapitalisation initiative.

Capital Bank surrendered its banking licence after its major shareholder, the National Social Security (NSSA) said it had no money to recapitalise the institution. NSSA later applied for a building society licence.

No Zimdollar return, only bond coins

Two weeks ago, RBZ introduced bonded coins to alleviate the change shortages. Scepticism remains whether the introduction of the coins is not a step to retrieve from the grave the banished Zimbabwean dollar buried when the country adopted dollarisation in 2009.

When Zim charms the Bretton Woods

The International Monetary Fund reopened its Harare office since its closure nearly a decade ago. The Bretton Woods institution approved a successor to the Staff Monitored Programme on Zimbabwe saying the country had met the requirements in the initial supervised economic reform programme. This was a vote of confidence on a country by the IMF, widely considered as the international Commissioner of Oaths.

The World Bank said it would team up with other donors to set up the $100 million Zimbabwe Reconstruction Fund to support the implementation of the country’s five-year economic blueprint.

Depressed consumer demand ushers in deflation

For the first time since the use of the multicurrency regime, Zimbabwe slipped into deflation in February as depressed consumer demand creeps in.

Zimbabwe slipped into deflation in February when year-on-year inflation shed 0,90 percentage points to -0,49% from the January statistics. It slipped out of deflation in July. It was back in deflation in October.

Rising NPLs jolts government into action

The banking sector has seen a rise in default rates since dollarisation with the ratio of non-performing loans (NPLs) peaking to 20,45% as at the end of September from 1,6% in 2009 amid fears that banks would cut on lending critically needed in the economy. The rising NPLs jolted government into action resulting in the creation of the Zimbabwe Asset Management Company designed to buy bad debts in the banking sector.

Finally, a CSD is in place

The Central Securities Depository (CSD) went live with three counters in September after several false starts, a move that would reduce the settlement of transactions on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange to five from seven days.

CSD is a facility for holding and administering securities, as well as enabling transactions to be processed by means of book entry. It aims to further reduce the settlement of transactions to T+3 (transaction plus three days) by June next year. To date, 43 out of 66 counters have been on-boarded with CSD.

As easy as ABC

In April a company led by ex-Barclays Plc chief executive officer Bob Diamond and entrepreneur billionaire Ashish Thakkar announced that it would buy pan African banking group BancABC as it bids to establish a premier company in Sub Saharan Africa.

The deal was completed in August, a record time considering that the Essar deal consummated in 2011 is still to be implemented!

BancABC founding CEO Douglas Munatsi, chief operating officer Francis Dzanya and chief finance officer Beki agreed to leave the banking group last month after the acquisition by Atlas Mara.

Could next year be Zim’s watershed?

December 19, 2014 in Comment, Opinion

Following recent changes to cabinet, including the appointment of two new vice-presidents and seven cabinet members, is Zimbabwe poised for a watershed year in 2015 or will it be more of the same?

The Ritesh Anand Column

President Robert Mugabe last week announced significant changes to government in the aftermath of the ruling Zanu PF’s congress. With party politics now placed to one side, can government focus on things that really matter to ordinary people? Will the focus be turned to the economy, investment, job creation and economic development?

The current situation is that Zimbabwe faces significant headwinds as the global economy slows and commodity prices weaken further. Last week I dealt with the dramatic fall in oil prices and the impact that it is likely to have on Zimbabwe.

These positive effects could be offset by a weaker commodity prices. Government has the opportunity to turn the economy around, but requires significant focus, dedication, commitment and energy.

The new ministers certainly have their work cut out as Zimbabwe’s economy sinks gradually into recession. The key challenge for 2015 will be the economy. Over the last three years economic growth has waned and Zimbabwe risks slipping into a recession in 2015.

While I believe that the government’s economic blueprint, ZimAsset, is a good long-term investment plan, what Zimbabwe needs is a short-term economic recovery plan. In the short-term, Zimbabwe needs to focus on turning the economy around and restoring business confidence.

We need to find ways to stimulate growth and economic activity. This means we need to develop strategies to boost investor confidence. The year 2015 could easily be a watershed year for Zimbabwe if we shift the focus away from politics and turn our attention instead to the economy and restoring international relations.

Key targets for 2015 should include:

Target 6% to 8% GDP growth annually over the next five years;

Target over US$1 billion annually in foreign direct investment over the next five years;

Restore domestic and foreign investor confidence;

Policy clarity, consistency and predictability to attract investment long-term capital;

Restore relations with international creditors and investors especially in the West;

Mineral development strategy: in light of falling commodity prices, Zimbabwe needs to think carefully about the mining sector. I suspect a number of mining companies will fail in 2015 if mineral prices continue to fall especially in the gold sector.

Government should focus on mining development as well as making existing mines more efficient. This includes attracting investment in new equipment and technology to lower costs;

Financial sector stability: this includes restoring confidence in the central bank, consolidation in the banking sector, especially among weaker local banks;

Reducing the trade deficit: government needs to focus on export development while containing imports. This can be achieved through encouraging investment in export-related sectors through the establishment of Special Economic Zones as well as providing export incentives for existing companies;

Debt strategy: government needs to think carefully about how best to deal with Zimbabwe’s outstanding debts. The first step would be to settle it’s debt of around US$142 million with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). This will allow for greater support from IMF and provide the platform for a more comprehensive debt solution;

Commitment to multi-currency system: government has so far remained steadfast in its commitment to maintaining the multi-currency regime.

Despite recent speculation following the introduction of bond coins, there is no reason to believe that government would consider bringing back the Zimbabwe dollar. History suggests that it is very difficult for a country to go back to a local currency post-dollarisation. I will dedicate an entire column to this debate next year as well as explore the options;

Clarity and transparency on indigenisation: There is need to rebrand/repackage the indigenisation policy to make it more user-friendly and/ or acceptable to foreign investors. We need to simplify the plan and provide greater transparency and accountability; and

Sensible investment policy: Zimbabwe desperately needs a sensible investment policy. I have talked about this a number of times. We need to develop an all-embracing investment policy and create a favourable environment for investment. We need to respect property rights and focus on rebranding Zimbabwe as a safe destination for investment.

This requires significant political will and commitment.

We all know that Zimbabwe has tremendous potential and many Zimbabweans both at home and abroad have waited patiently for a better future. We owe it to ourselves as well as future generations to build a better future for Zimbabwe.

Government has a responsibility to assist its people in realising their dreams, hopes and aspirations. Next year could well be a watershed year for Zimbabwe, if and only if, there is greater focus on the economy.

Zimbabwe's political landscape undergoes major changes as economy remains subdued in 2014

Dec 30,2014
by Tichaona Chifamba

HARARE, Dec. 30 (Xinhua) -- Zimbabwe's political scene in 2014 was rattled by the abrupt dismissal of more than a dozen cabinet members led by the country's longtime vice president Joice Mujuru as a fierce battle to succeed Africa's oldest leader -- veteran president Robert Mugabe -- over overshadowed efforts to put the country's ailing economy back on the rails.

Mujuru's dismissal presented its own firsts -- being the first vice president in the history of the country to be fired; being the first former vice president to be investigated for criminal activities; and that for the first time since independence in 1980, the country has a living former vice president.

All the other former Vice Presidents -- Joshua Nkomo, Simon Muzenda, Joseph Msika and John Nkomo -- left office through death.

Police are now investigating her on allegations of corruption and abuse of power, while allegations of plotting to assassinate Mugabe have also been peddled. Police on Tuesday said they have found vital evidence after being given approval to search the former vice president's home.

For several years, Mugabe, who turns 91 in February 2015, watched as the drama over his succession unfolded. He would ban discussions over his succession and warn that factional leaders would be punished.

But the run-up to the party's congress in December took a heavy twist when the two camps vying to take over from him took off their gloves and began to hit each other below the belt. The camp led by new Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa scored a vital victory.

Mnangagwa's appointment as Mujuru's replacement was viewed by many as an endorsement by Mugabe that he should become the party and government's next leader.

However, as most people exerted their energies on the political dogfights in the governing party, the economy continued to bleed, liquidity challenges persisted and social services deteriorated, many companies closed down and many people lost their jobs.

Economists Vince Musewe, Luxon Zembe and Godfrey Kanyenze all agreed that one of the reasons the economy was not ticking was that government leaders were ensconced in party factional politics instead of working for the greater good of the nation.

The political uncertainty affected potential investors -- both foreign and local -- who opted to take a wait and see attitude hoping that the situation would play itself out, they said.

Musewe said that those who were fighting to get positions did not have a better plan for Zimbabwe and merely wished to benefit from their stations.

Cabinet ministers continued to issue conflicting policy statements, especially in relation to the indigenization policy, depending on which faction they had belonged to.

About 4,000 people had lost their jobs by the end of September as companies closed down because of the harsh economic environment.

The loss of income and a decline in disposable income for those still in employment also resulted in thousands of people falling into debt, with scores of families losing their homes, household property, office furniture and equipment and even clothes every month.

A number of prominent people, including lawyers, top businessmen and former governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Gideon Gono have recently had their properties either attached or auctioned to settle debts.

Economic growth, which had gone up to 5.7 percent at the formation of the inclusive government in 2009, has been declining since 2012, going down to 4.5 percent in 2013 and is projected to hit 3.1 percent this year.

Monetary authorities said foreign direct investment plunged to 65 million U.S. dollars in the first half of 2014 from 167 million dollars recorded during the same period last year to reach a new low since the economic meltdown which began in 2012.

Labour and Economic Development Research Institute of Zimbabwe director Kanyenze said the country's economy had become a casualty of the political power games.

Zimbabwe: 2014 Road to Economic Growth #zim-Asset

Zimbabwe Herald

Very little is to be said of 2014 in terms of the economy. It was largely a year, which ends with a political climax. Cheap and long-term financing remained elusive for companies while aggregate demand and in tandem capacity utilisation continued to fall.

Because of this, inflation was mostly negative if you add in the rand factor and to the workers' salaries were less regular. Companies closed while the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange lost some listings. There was a huge growth in the informal market mostly in vending as any open pavement and traffic lights became a market place.

The politics of the economy!

As Zanu-PF was due to hold its elective congress early this month, attempts to induce momentum in the economy by way of implementing Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation (Zim-Asset) suffered major setbacks as factional politics within the ruling party took a centre stage ahead of congress.

While the real drama unfolded a few weeks before the congress, focus on the economy had shifted way back and this created uncertainty among businesses and investors.

Factional politics got in the way of investment deal approvals. It also was a major impediment in the implementation of the indigenisation laws.

In as much as Government puts forward clearly defined policies; the lack of proper guidelines for attaining economic growth, macro-economic dislocations, lack of continuity coupled with traces of political deception.

At the end of it all, Government managed to do away with two centres of power towards the end of the year with the sacking of several senior Government officials.

A renewed Government has to speak with one voice and be consistent with its policies. They should bring finality and closure on what they want to achieve with indigenisation, bearing in mind that this is not a concept new to Zimbabwe.

Trending for Government --#Zim-Assetsong

2014 was the first implementation year of Government's economic blueprint Zim-Asset. You can't coin it on the Eversharp like what school children used to do to ESAP back in the day but you can be rest assured that everyone knows about it. Knowing about it to the point that every success story became an endorsement of the blueprint!

Government talked about it at every opportunity. It is supposed to stir the country forward at an average growth of 7,2 percent per annum. Structural reforms are required in order to make this blueprint successful.

Finance and Economic Development Minister Patrick Chinamasa said the economy should grow at 8 percent per annum for the next ten years if the country is to realise meaningful economic revival. He said GDP growth for 2014 was projected at 3,1 percent but the target could not be reached due to inherent liquidity shortages in the economy, coupled with low domestic savings, investment inflows and power supply deficits.

Minister Chinamasa said the projected 3,2 percent per annum growth for 2014 will not be enough for a robust economic revival. He said a stable macro-economic environment, coupled with planned investments in agriculture, mining, communication and other infrastructural projects, including power generation and housing, will among others, spur growth, forecast at about 3,2 percent for 2015.

Overall, the problem lies in linking up the vision with the reality on the ground and the first thing would be to identify the present state of the economy. The present state of the economy is none other than that of insignificant foreign direct investment and deep levels of collapse and degeneration of basic economic structures. And Government needs to be realistic about it.

What Zimbabwe needs is a cocktail of good fiscal and monetary policies in addition to local and foreign investment to jump start the economy. To stimulate local investments the Government's fiscal policy should address savings and to increase savings the cash strapped Government should lower taxes.

In order to improve FDI inflows Government should address ease of doing business issues and IEE laws and regulations.

Parastatals took centre stage at the beginning of the year with the PSMAS salary scandal being the most significant. Salaries of chief executive were capped but this was never implemented due to the nature of the contracts. Finance and Economic Development Minister Patrick Chinamasa talked about reforming state-owned enterprises but this will only be reality next year following the setting up of a fund by the World Bank.

In 2014, a lot of grants and concessionary loans were signed with countries such as Sweden, Denmark, the European Union, the World Bank, the African Development Bank, Badea, Switzerland. The Staff Monitored Programme was extended with a successor programme having been okayed.

At the same time Government led by President Mugabe went on a trip to China where they unlocked commitment over various infrastructure deals. The Russians also came for the Darwendale Platinum project and expressed interest in Agriculture and Infrastructure. All this renewed momentum to the implementation of Zim-Asset.

Trending for companies -- #RestructuringAndRationalisation

You can also add reconfiguration. It all adds to the same thing. High operating and finance costs continued to chew up the little revenue coming into the coffers.

The economy suffered from serious liquidity shortages, compounded by low domestic savings, elusive foreign direct investment, company closures and power shortages.

The performance of mostly consumer facing companies such as Delta and OK Zimbabwe reflected the continuing squeeze on disposable

incomes in a shrinking economy. Even when prices of goods generally declined, consumer expenditure has not grown.

The manufacturing sector continued to be weighed down by old equipment, shortage of working capital and high labour costs. According to CZI, capacity utilisation dropped 3,3 percentage points, from 39,6 percent in 2013 to 36,3 percent in 2014.

A survey conducted by the Zimbabwe Economic Policy Analysis and Research Unit found that 63 percent of the companies identified access to finance as a "major constraint" to growth, with prohibitive borrowing costs cited as one of the major reasons. It is for the reasons mentioned above that the buzzwords in corporates became -- Rationalisation and Restructuring. Most of the companies undertook retrenchments while some downsized operations.

Nevertheless, there were some successful restructurings and reconfigurations. The re-opening of David Whitehead and the resilience of Cairns Holdings. Government is also making efforts to restore the central bank's functions. RBZ welcomed a new governor Dr John Mangudya replacing Dr Gideon Gono. He has little to work with but in just seven months he has managed to set up bad-loans buying company ZAMCO and has also introduced bond coins. BancABC was bought by Atlas Mara for about $265 million in April in the company's first African acquisition. Hwange is yet to show but they have also embarked on a re-organisation. Hwange Colliery finally appointed a substantive chief executive following the departure of Mr Fred Moyo in 2011.

The Atlas Mara deal however resulted in the Banc ABC group chief executive Mr Doug Munatsi along with group chief financial officer Mr Beki Moyo and group chief operating officer Mr Francis Dzanya stepping down from the regional financial group. Mr Howard Buttery also stepped down as chairman of the Board of Directors of BancABC and fellow director, Mr Ngoni Kudenga. Mr Munatsi and company were replaced by an Atlas Mara team led by Mr Simbarashe Ronald Pfende new group CEO and comprise of Ms Makhosi Boyede and Ms Amelia Reynecke, who are the co-chief operating officers, and Ms Christine Bronkhorst the chief financial officer. Atlas Mara CEO Mr John Vital was appointed interim chairman and Mr Bradford Gibbs, a member of Atlas Mara's executive committee, also joined the bank.

Elsewhere former RioZim chief executive Mr Ashton Ndlovu was forced to resign because shareholders were not happy with his performance. He was replaced Mr Noah Matimba. At Innscor Africa, former chief executive chief executive Mr John Koumides was replaced by former board adviser Mr Antonio Fourie. Mr Jeremy Brooke left NatFoods Mr John Jere left Turnall Holdings and FBC sold out of the group through a dividend -in specie. Mr James Mushore left NMB on medical grounds while chair Mr Tendayi Mundawarara expressed his desire to leave the group at the next AGM.

In the banking sector ZB had a difficult year which forced it to wind down the operations of its stock-broking arm ZB Securities and asset management unit, ZB Asset Management Company and the cleaning up of its banking group's loan book, and offloading at least 300 employees which put a huge dent on its profit and loss account resulting in it issuing a warning for an impending loss for the year.

The biggest restructuring or re-organisation failure is Cottco. When everyone thought that the company was on a recovery path following the recapitalisation funds from the unbundling of Aico, the market was shocked to learn that the company had applied for judicial management. However Cottco has since opted for a scheme of arrangement with creditors.

Public Relations practitioners are there to help journalists get the correct information about an organisation. However there are some that have not been as good at this job and always make getting information most difficult for journalists. Here's the worst of the lot:

Zimra - The PR Department believes that the media should be fed from crumbs packaged in a statement time and again. Who in this day and age still requests for a letter with a stamp and letterhead. Any request for information outside the quarterly updates are usually referred to the Revenue Authority Act [Chapter 23:11] and; "I am, therefore, unable to comment or provide the requested information ... ."

RBZ--The Central Bank PR department is as good as non-existent. It does not respond to requests from the media and does not facilitate any interviews with the Governor.

Econet - Requests for comment on operational issues are often met with; "Econet Wireless is unable to comment on this matter at this time."

Lafarge--Lafarge believes that media are lapdogs meant to cover only their corporate social responsibility programmes.
Russia and China Are Supporting Different Factions in ZANU-PF
Republic of Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe with Russian
Federation Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov during a recent visit
by the envoy from Moscow to Harare.
25th ⁄ December ⁄ 2014

HARARE – There are conflicting reports that Russia and China are deeply involved in the on-going Zanu PF infighting amid the reports that Environment Minister Saviour Kasukuwere this week met with Russian spy intelligence officials in Crimea and discussed plants to subvert Mnangagwa’s chances of succeeding Mugabe.

On Thursday a source in the Zimbabwean intelligence said that the newly appointed Zanu PF Political Commissar Saviour Kasukuwere had a detailed discussion with KGB officials in Crimea and the source said the Russians have identified a faction in Zanu PF to work with.

Politburo members Jonathan Moyo, Patrick Zhuwao, Saviour Kasukuwere and Oppah Muchinguri now dubbed gang of four are reportedly emerging with the new center of power opposed to Mnangagwa succeeding Mugabe. It is thought that they have only been together in the removal of Joice Mujuru because they both think she has a soft spot for the West.

It is not clear who the gang of four have in their mind as the right candidate to succeed Mugabe but sources said Moyo himself think highly of Saviour Kasukuwere and he could be his choice and him manuvering to the Vice-President.

In the past  Moyo has praised Kasukuwere saying he has done much to bring fresh impetus to indigenisation, although there could be no judgement yet on “the young Turk”. Moyo also labelled Kasukuwere as a future leader.

Saviour ‘Tyson’ Kasukuwere hails from the Marondera district where his parents were liberation activists. He attended the University of Berlin before joining Zimbabwe’s Central Intelligence Organisation as a driver. In 1995, he joined the president’s office before election to Parliament in 2000.

He has pleased president Robert Mugabe, with his violence on the opposition, anti- Western and anti-colonialist stance on issues related to foreign investment. Yet in a WikiLeaks cable, observers noted Kasukuwere’s charm and ambition, suggesting he already had an understanding of how the political regime would shape up post-Mugabe and how he might fit in it. It is therefore thought he has his own ambitions to be a serious candidate and hence the Russians have fallen for him.

Last week Ukraine raised serious concern about his visit to the disputed region of Crimea.

Ukraine is in a bitter dispute with Russia over the control of the region. The Crimea used to be under Kiev but held a referendum, which was supported by just 11 of the 193 United Nations General Assembly member countries in March seeking to go under Russia.

Other nations which supported the annexation include North Korea, Syria, Sudan, Venezuela and Cuba.

Reports from Kiev on Monday said Kasukuwere last week travelled to the disputed region.

Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Joey Bimha, refused to comment saying he was on holiday.

Efforts to get a comment from Kasukuwere and Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi were futile as their mobile phones went unanswered.

However details have now emerged that Kasukuwere is working with Russians and he was representing the gang of four. Our source did not reveal the full details but we understand that the Russians are happy that they have the key players in Zanu PF in Kasukuwere as the party’s political Commissar and Ignatious Chombo as the party’s Secretary for Administration. The pair will over-see party restructuring that will see structures not loyal to Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa taking over in all provinces. The plan is to call for an extraordinary congress that will elect a new leader if President Mugabe decides to step down or if he dies before 2018 general elections.

Police investigating the Baba Jukwa case yesterday asked Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Minister Professor Jonathan Moyo to help them in their investigations by submitting clarifications on issues to do with the case. This follows allegations by Sunday Mail editor Edmund Kudzayi, who is accused of being behind the faceless Facebook character, that he became aware of the Baba Jukwa issue when Environment, Water and Climate Minister Saviour Kasukuwere called him as an IT expert to assess and make an overview of information supplied by an Australian-based hacker only identified as Kennedy.

In an interview with a state weekly, Moyo said Mnangagwa’s rise to the vice-presidency did not mean that he would automatically take over from Mugabe when the 90-year old leaves office.

Moyo said both the Zanu PF and country’s constitutions did not prescribe that Mugabe should select his successor, an argument that was supported by Zhuwao in his weekly column published in the same issue.

“It would be unconstitutional and indeed undemocratic for the president to do that (select his successor). As such, those who want the president to designate a successor are either charlatans or enemies of constitutionalism and democracy,” Moyo said.

“And in the case of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, the current succession provision does not allow for automatic elevation, but requires the political party of the previous incumbent to nominate the successor in accordance with its internal constitutional procedures, and the Zanu PF constitutional procedure provides for the convening of an extraordinary congress to elect a successor should that be necessary.”

Concurring with Moyo, Zhuwao described as “mischievous” assertions that Mnangagwa would automatically take over from Mugabe by virtue of being a VP.

“The appointments are not about succession, nor are the appointments about succession’s toxic cousin, factionalism,” he said.
“Zanu PF’s congress decisively dealt with factionalism and such divisive tendencies in a systematic and institutional manner by resolving to institutionalise a single source of power through amendments to the constitution.

“Zanu PF must never allow the re-emergence of alternative centres of power.”

Party insiders said this week mutual suspicion and tension were rapidly breeding in the alliance.

According to Zhuwao, both Mujuru and Mnangagwa were deemed to be unfit to govern.  He made the point that: “For implementation of Zim-Asset to be accelerated, non-performing minister and Zanu PF Politburo members must be fired.”

The thrust of his article is that both Mujuru and Mnangagwa had compromised themselves and, therefore, constructively disqualified themselves from consideration as potential leaders of the post-congress Zanu PF principally because their credentials had allegedly been contaminated by their perceived association with what he terms: “Speculative Political Entrepreneurs (“SPE”.”

The European Union ambassador to Zimbabwe, Philipe van Damme, said the visit was unfortunate but did not infringe any international statutes.

He said the visit will also not affect the thawing EU-Zimbabwe relations.

International relations expert Clifford Mashiri said Kasukuwere’s visit is suspicious.

Russia is keen on further expanding its footprint in Zimbabwe’s business circles and has cast its eyes on agriculture, promising to set up vast equipment assembly plants at a knock down cost.

There is a growing demand for agricultural produce in Russia, which is under sanctions from the European Union and has in turn imposed an embargo on basic foods, as well as meat and many other products, from Western countries.

The company will also ensure that an assembly plant is built in Zimbabwe to supply the African markets

Russia is seeking alternative markets and products subject to the one year embargo on beef, pork, poultry, fish, fruit, vegetables, cheese, milk and other dairy products from the US, Canada, the European Union, Norway and Australia.

Setting up an agricultural base in Zimbabwe might help mitigate food shortages.

On Monday, a 12 member Russian delegation, comprising of technical expects, led by Igor Avakumo, pitched proposals to their Zimbabwean counterparts.

The proposals range from setting up an agricultural equipment manufacturing plant, citrus production, food processing, water purification, veterinary education, poultry and production of vegetable seeds.

The head of the Russian delegation, Avakumo said Zimbabwe may bridge the food shortage gap.

“We do not plant much of our citrus in Russia because we have a small vegetative season, but we need citrus more, so Zimbabwe may come and fill in the gap and be key in terms of supply,” he said.

“Russia is one of the major global suppliers of agricultural equipment, we manufacture tractors and combine harvesters, we are ready to sell tractors and these combine harvesters to Zimbabwe.

“The company will also ensure that an assembly plant is built in Zimbabwe to supply the African markets, the prices we offer are 15% less compared to competitors such as John Deere and Massey Ferguson tractors.”

In 2008 Russia vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution by Western countries to impose sanctions on Zimbabwe.

Presently, Russia’s major investment in Zimbabwe is a joint-venture diamond and gold mining company in eastern Zimbabwe, DTZ-OZGEO, and Moscow is also planning a joint platinum mining operation outside the capital Harare.

Joseph Made, the Zimbabwean Agriculture minister said the southern African country stood to benefit from the Russian proposal.

Zimbabwe’s beef industry has been struggling since the European Union (EU) banned meat imports from the African nation in 2001, following an outbreak of foot and mouth disease.

Zimbabwe’s abundance of industrially-significant minerals has long attracted China and Russia.

After South Africa, Zimbabwe is the world’s premier producer of platinum. It also mines ferrochrome and has large supplies of coal. Gold is another metal long panned and dug in the country.  Since 2006, Zimbabwe has also become one of the world’s largest exporters of gem and industrial diamonds, many of which are destined for China.

Anjin, a well-placed Chinese company, mines diamonds from the Marange fields in eastern Zimbabwe in cooperation with highly-placed Zimbabweans close to Mugabe.

Because of those strong ties, Anjin’s diamonds often are exported directly to Dubai and Hong Kong without being officially accounted for in Harare, Zimbabwe’s capital. From 2006 through at least 2013, Zimbabwe’s treasury believed that it was receiving less than 10 percent of the royalties due it from diamonds.

After South Africa (and in-country elite investments channeled via the British Virgin Islands and Mauritius), China is the largest outside investor in Zimbabwe’s mining sector. Anjin invested nearly 0 million in 2011 to enlarge its diamond diggings and may have increased its investment totals along with added capacity in the ensuring years.

Other Chinese companies are eyeing possible investments in platinum and gold, particularly since the Zimbabwean government has been anxious to lessen the hold of South African and British investors in both sectors.

As another indication of China’s confidence in Zimbabwean prospects, the Powerway Renewable Energy Company of China is now prepared to invest at least 0 million in the construction of a 100 megawatt solar power plant about 150 km from Harare.  The plant will be modeled on a smaller solar installation that Powerway has constructed in Japan, near Higahiloshima.  Powerway also has facilities in twenty-one other countries. Powerway has agreed to partner with Mobility Holdings of Zimbabwe, which specializes in renewable energy projects.

When fully operational, the 100 megawatts of solar generated electricity will feed into a national grid, helping to relieve Zimbabwe’s chronic shortage of power. Even Harare and Bulawayo, the country’s two largest cities, are subject to frequent blackouts and enforced load-shedding events.  Parts of Harare now receive electric power only a few hours of each day.  Businesses and many households rely on private generators.

Installing the Powerway plant in Zimbabwe will take about a year, depending on its exact location. But it will have to occupy about 400 hectares, and its construction will employ 600 local and Chinese workers.  Once this first plant is up and running, Powerway and Mobility intend to seek locations for additional solar arrays.

Currently, the only sizable – and still experimental – solar array in southern Africa is in northwestern South Africa.  Both countries, and most of Africa, are blessed with abundant year-round sun. But, until now, Africa (and Zimbabwe) has largely relied on thermal power from inexpensive coal and from hydroelectricity generated from fast-flowing rivers like the mighty Zambezi on Zimbabwe’s northern border.

Under Mugabe, Zimbabwe under-invested in maintaining those facilities and its shortages reflect decades of decay and the nation’s current poverty. Providing transmission lines are strung, the Chinese solar array should help relieve at least some of those continuing shortfalls.

China has been close to Mugabe for many years, supplying equipment and uniforms to the security forces and constructing a military intelligence center in Harare. A Chinese firm is also building a highway to connect Maputo, neighboring Mozambique’s capital, to Harare, and engaging in other artery construction throughout the country. Its farmers grow maize and rice on leased land, too, for export home to China.
ZANU-PF Factional Disputes Continue: Minister in Acting First Lady Gaffe
Ousted ZANU-PF official Didyus Mutasa is being vilified in
the state media
Sunday, Dec 28, 2014
Zimbabwe Sunday Mail

The Minister of State for Mashonaland West, Cde Faber Chidarikire is in the eye of a storm after he introduced Acting President, Cde Emmerson Mnangagwa’s wife as the Acting First Lady during celebrations yesterday to mark the elevation of Cde Prisca Mupfumira to the Politburo and her appointment as the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Services.

It is understood that thousands of people who attended the celebrations that were held at Chinhoyi University of Technology were stunned by the introduction by Cde Chidarikire.

Speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of victimisation, a Zanu-PF central committe member who attended the celebrations said Cde Chidarikire who was given the task to introduce Mrs Mnangagwa as the Guest of Honour said because Vice President Mnangagwa was the Acting President, his wife was also the Acting First Lady.

“Everything was going on well during the celebrations until the remarks by Cde Chidarikire. He introduced Mrs Mnangagwa as the Acting First Lady and the people were stunned. He said Mrs Mnangagwa was the Acting First Lady because her husband was the Acting President.

“There were murmurs of dissapproval from many people because this was a first. We have never heard of an Acting First Lady. Some people even started asking around whether that scenario is possible but for some of us we know there is no such a thing,” said the Zanu-PF central committee member.

The central committee member said some of the people who spoke during the celebrations included the Mashonaland West provincial chair, Cde Ziyambi Ziyambi who gave the opening remarks, Politburo member Cde Shuvai Mahofa; Cde Sandi Moyo and Hurungwe East MP, Cde Sarah Mahoka who gave the vote of thanks.

Cde Mupfumira also gave a speech during the celebrations.

Also in attendance were Politburo members Cde July Moyo, Cde Josiah Hungwe, Cde Joram Gumbo, Minister of Lands and Rural Resettlement, Cde Douglas Mombeshora and Chegutu West MP, Cde Dexter Nduna.

Several central committee members from Mashonaland West also attended the celebrations.
When he was contacted for a comment yesterday evening, Cde Chidarikire said he made the introduction as a joke.

“That was a joke. I said tiri kuvati Acting First Lady but it can never be. I had joked that nekuti vaMnangagwa is Acting President, saka she is Acting First Lady.

“It was just a joke and I then corrected that statement that she cannot be acting First Lady because the First Lady is there,” said Cde Chidarikire.

However, another Politburo member who was in attendance and some poltical commentators castigated Cde Chidarikire for what they called a “joke in bad taste.”

“When Cde Chidarikire made the remarks, I couldn’t believe it. I really don’t understand why he thought of such a joke. He almost spoiled the celebrations that were going on well.

“We should respect the First Lady and such jokes border on disrespect,” said the Politburo member.
A political commentator who refused to be named said the incident was not different from the one involving Cde Hungwe who about a weak ago, received a serious backlash after equating VP Mnangagwa to Jesus Christ.

“This incident is just the same as the one by Cde Hungwe about a few days ago.
“Maybe its the adrenalin that will be pumping or its just over-excitement which makes politicians to cross the line. Really, what Cde Chidarikire said was uncalled for and was a joke in bad taste.

“Politicians should learn to restrain themselves when in public because what they say has so many ripple effects,” said the commentator.

Mutasa’s world crumbles

by Sunday Mail Reporter
Sunday, Dec 28, 2014

RENEGADE former Zanu-PF national secretary for administration Cde Didymus Mutasa’s world continue crumbling as people from his constituency, Headlands are calling for his immediate recall from Parliament. This came out at a stormy meeting that was held at the Headlands Community Hall last week where over 700 party supporters called for the ouster of Cde Mutasa.

Senior political figures in Manicaland province have already called for the expulsion of the former minister from the party and the process to dump Cde Mutasa is set to be put in official motion at the party’s next Provincial Co-ordinating Committee meeting set to be held at the end of the week.

Fresh from being deposed from the Politburo at the Zanu-PF 6th National People’s Congress, Cde Mutasa has been caught in a new wave of shenanigans after bizarrely writing to Sadc to nullify results of the recent Congress and denigrating the party in interviews he held with the hostile sections of the media.

Manicaland Minister of State for Provincial Affairs Cde Mandi Chimene and Acting Manicaland Provincial Chairman Cde Samuel Undenge have already came out strong calling for Cde Mutasa’s expulsion from the party.

The Sunday Mail understands that during the meeting at the community hall, all the people in attendance called for the immediate recall of Cde Mutasa as their MP over allegations of trying to assassinate President Mugabe, corruption, nepotism and abuse of office.

He is also accused of giving land offer letters in exchange for bribes to white farmers in the province.
The meeting was addressed by Zanu PF Secretary for Transport and Welfare, Cde Oppah Muchinguri as she gave feedback to the people of Headlands Constituency on the 6th Zanu PF National People’s Congress.

Zanu-PF Deputy Secretary for Youth Affairs in the Politburo Cde Kudzai Chipanga who attended the meeting said there was an outpouring of anger aimed at Cde Mutasa.

“It was clear that people in Headlands no longer want Cde Mutasa to be their MP. They told Cde Muchinguri that it was no longer proper to continue working with Cde Mutasa because of the serious allegations that he is already facing, which include being part of the ploy to topple President Mugabe.

The meeting was attended by about 700 supporters who overwhelmingly voiced their concerns against Cde Mutasa”.

Cde Chipanga said the party would be doing a disservice to Headlands Constituency if it allows Cde Mutasa to continue as the legislator.

“It is the right of the people to see their MP but in light of these developments anyone who associates with Cde Mutasa stands accused of working in cohorts with him or being led into his agenda. So that is why we are also saying it is better to remove him from the party because Zanu-PF is bigger than individuals,” he said.

Sources who attended the meeting said Cde Mutasa was accused of using his influence to parcel out farms in Headlands Constituency to his family members.

“Most of the farms in the Headlands area are owned by Cde Mutasa’s close relatives. Even some of his relatives who are not resident in Zimbabwe have been allocated farms which they have never set foot on. One example is a farm called Homewood in Headlands which he allocated to his relative who is based in London, but who has never set foot on the farm,” said a source.

“He has also given offer letters to a number of white farmers in Headlands,” said the source.
Zanu-PF Manicaland Central Committee member and businessman Cde Esau Mupfumi said the party should not tolerate cadres who don’t follow party procedures.

He said Cde Mutasa needs to be disciplined and the next meeting of the PCC would recommend his expulsion.

Cde Mupfumi said if Cde Mutasa feels that he has been unfairly treated by the party he should use normal party channels to seek redress.

“The man is no longer disciplined and something needs to be done.

“Let us assume he was unfairly treated by the party, he was supposed to complain through the normal channels not to start shouting and denigrating the party while he was outside the country.

He needs to be disciplined because as a former senior party cadre he knows some of these procedures. So what he did, either he was out of his senses or he was deliberately undermining the authority of the President and the party,” he said.

Another Central Committee member from the province Cde Luke Masamvu said the provincial coordinating committee was likely to meet next weekend to determine Cde Mutasa’s fate.

“The PCC is expected to meet next weekend, chief among the issues to be discussed is the fate of Cde Mutasa. Constitutionally the province needs to recommend for his expulsion,” he said.

While Manicaland provincial acting chairperson, Cde Samuel Undenge was not picking up his phone, he last week told our sister newspaper The Herald that there were sentiments in the province that Cde Mutasa should be censured as his utterances did not show remorse.

Another Central Commitee member Cde Mandy Chimene has come out in the open saying the province should get rid of Cde Mutasa.

Contacted for comment on the increased calls for his expulsion from Zanu-PF, Cde Mutasa kept on saying; “Matii? Matii? Matii?,” before terminating the call. Later his mobile phone was no longer reachable.

Zanu-PF national political commissar Cde Saviour Kasukuwere who a fortnight ago directed the party’s provinces to stop further suspensions was not available for comment.

Cde Mutasa is said to have roped in MDC-T and a Western –funded international NGO to subvert the will of the people so that he could be restored to his former positions in the party and the Government.

He is alleged to have used contacts in MDC-T to get the issue of his failure to land a Central Committee seat and dismissal from Government tabled at a meeting of the Socialist International Council, which met at the United Nations Headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, from December 12-13.

The Socialist International Council meeting was convened to discuss high levels of insecurity and threats to world peace.

Zanu-PF is not a member of the Socialist International Council although the MPLA of Angola, Frelimo of Mozambique, SWAPO of Namibia, ANC (South Africa), and Chama Cha Mapinduzi (Tanzania) are members along with the MDC, the Botswana Democratic Party and Patriotic Front of Zambia which are listed as consultative parties.

While in India, Cde Mutasa reportedly phoned some leading figures of sister liberation movements in Southern Africa and South African President Jacob Zuma, alleging that his failure to land a powerful post in Zanu-PF together with former Vice President Joice Mujuru and the firing of some ministers was unjust.

In an interview with the Independent newspaper of South Africa, Cde Mutasa urged President Zuma to intervene and assist him to regain his post in Zanu-PF.

Cde Mutasa was roundly condemned by several political commentators and analysts for making all these reckless and desperate moves.

Mnangagwa under siege as Zanu PF infighting escalates

29th ⁄ December ⁄ 2014

HARARE – A mere three weeks into his tenure as President Robert Mugabe’s senior lieutenant, the knives are now being sharpened against Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa as Zanu PF’s ugly infighting refuses to go away and the party faction that worked together to decimate former anti-Joice Mujuru falls apart.

The Daily News learnt yesterday that among Mnangagwa’s new rabid critics are erstwhile colleagues who played a critical role in annihilating Mujuru and her perceived sympathisers, a development that paved the way for his Phoenix-like rise from the political ashes to the presidium.

The sources said Mnangagwa’s former supporters were not just “peeved by his meteoric rise to the VP position” while they had to “make-do with scraps”, they were also upset that he had seemingly forgotten them and was allegedly acting as if he was now “the substantive head of State” while Mugabe was on holiday.

As a result, some within the former anti-Mujuru grouping — particularly the so-called “Gang of Four” — now expeditiously wanted the tail of the party strongman cut.

The sources also claimed that it had not helped that the much-feared vice president had recently hosted parties and business persons in his home province, the Midlands, where some of the disaffected hardliners had not been invited to.

Worse still, some of Mnangagwa’s most fervent followers, such as Psychomotor minister Josiah Hungwe, had made the fatal mistake of praising him overzealously at these gatherings — at worst silly faux pas that the hardliners had expediently latched on to, in their quest to cut Ngwena down to size.

“There are some within the victorious camp who feel that Mnangagwa in the first place did not deserve to be vice president after doing virtually nothing during the Mujuru demolition job where First Lady Grace Mugabe was used to turn President Mugabe against Amai Mujuru,” a well-placed source told the Daily News.

He said in particular the so-called “Gang of Four”— comprising senior party bigwigs Oppah Muchinguri, Jonathan Moyo, Patrick Zhuwao and Saviour Kasukuwere — was allegedly working to undermine the VP and to “expose him as a power-hungry individual who is not fit to take over from Mugabe”.

This, the source added, supposedly explained why Mnangagwa, just like what had happened to Mujuru, was coming under vicious attack in the State media — “to discredit him as much as possible”.

Writing in the lickspittle Sunday Mail yesterday, a columnist who uses the bizarre pseudonym of Bishop Lazarus, and widely believed to be a senior Zanu PF bigwig, accused Mnangagwa of jettisoning party resolutions emanating from the party’s congress, and behaving like the deceased party stalwart Solomon Mujuru, who was widely regarded as a kingmaker.

Lazarus also queried why Mnangagwa had told a business delegation at his farm on the outskirts of Kwekwe that Zimbabwe’s indigenisation laws would be reviewed.

“Dear reader, there are two very worrying things about the statement above. The first worrying point is where this statement was made and secondly if indeed the VP said government would announce new business policies aimed at relaxing the indigenisation laws, then the bishop is amazed that the VP is throwing resolutions from the just ended Zanu PF into the dustbin so fast and furious,” the columnist said.

The columnist went on to say that it was also inappropriate for the VP to hold meetings at his Sherwood Farm, just like the late Solomon Mujuru had done.

“You see it starts with these courtesy calls at the farm and before we know it things get out of hand. There are so many places where these business people could have met VP Mnangagwa without raising any suspicion.

“Once upon a time, the bishop vividly remembers a famous farm somewhere in Beatrice where business people flocked to pay homage to some presumably powerful political skimmer who went on to get entangled in very dirty political games that are today haunting those he left behind.

“We don’t want a repeat of that in Kwekwe because that would be tragic and very unfortunate. VP Mnangagwa is a veteran politician and we hope he will move the courtesy calls to either his offices or some other place that suits his important office,” the columnist added.

The same paper also laid into the minister of State for Mashonaland West, Faber Chidarikire, yesterday for jokingly referring to Mnangagwa’s wife, Auxilia, as the acting First Lady.

“In my entire life I have never heard of an acting First Lady, where did he get that nonsense from. He is not the only one who is getting over-excited but most of these guys now regard Mnangagwa as the President,” a top Zanu PF official allegedly told the paper.

In an interview with the State media last week, Moyo also said people should not confuse Mnangagwa’s appointment as VP as anointment as Mugabe’s successor.

And Mugabe’s nephew, Zhuwao, also warned last week that those close to Mnangagwa needed to guard against getting too excited.

Respected political commentator and University of Zimbabwe lecturer Eldred Masunungure recently told the Daily News that Mujuru’s ouster would not translate into Mnangagwa’s automatic ascendency to the highest seat in government.

He said there were now two main factions in Zanu PF — namely the Gushungo (Mugabe’s totem) and Mnangagwa factions.

“The other two factions coalesced against Mujuru and now that they have decimated that faction, the question is which one remains the most dominant?

“To me the Gushungo faction is now in control of the party because Mugabe knows that real power lies in the party, not in the government, so Mnangagwa may not be the winner after all,” Masunungure said.
Syrian Army Kills Scores of Terrorists Across the Country
Syrian army on the offensive against US-backed rebels.

Provinces, SANA- Units of the army and the armed forces on Wednesday killed and injured  scores of terrorists in several areas across the country and destroyed their hideouts and weaponry.

Damascus countryside

A military source told SANA that the army destroyed a den for terrorists and a number of their vehicles in al-Qalamoun Mountains in Damascus countryside.


A military source told SANA that the army destroyed a den for terrorists from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) organization in al-Raqqa, killing all of them.


Units of the army and armed forces, in cooperation with popular defense groups, killed and injured a number of terrorists around Al-Andalous Hospital, al-Waer neighborhood, in the central province of Homs.

A military source told SANA that units of the army and the armed forces killed scores of terrorists in al-Khamis souk in Taldo village in al-Houla and foiled terrorists’ attempt to infiltrate from the direction of Rajem al-Qaseir village towards Umm Jamea village in the countryside of the  province.


A Military source told SANA that the army smashed dens of terrorists and destroyed their vehicles in the towns of Akerbat, Sarha, al-Latamneh, Kfar Zeita in Hama countryside.

A Military source told SANA that the army destroyed dens of terrorists and warehouses of weapons in the villages of Khan al-Jouz, al-Rae’e, al-Sheihan Valley and al-Sukariya in Lattakia northern countryside.


A military source told SANA that the army killed a number of terrorists and injured many others in Bashlamoun, Binish, Maaraet al-Numan and al-Shouewha in Idleb countryside.

Units of the army and the armed forces killed a number of terrorists in Daraa al-Balad and al-Sourah and al-Hrak villages in the countryside of the southern province.

Meanwhile, the army killed a number of terrorists and destroys their vehicles in Alma and Jasem in Daraa countryside.
Terrorist Attacks in Damascus and its Countryside Cause Material Damage
Damage from anti-government attack in Syria.

Damascus, SANA – Terrorists on Tuesday detonated an explosive device attached to a private car in al-Kesweh town, Damascus Countryside.

A source at the Police Command told SANA that the explosion resulted in material damage to the Kia-Rio car parked near the main roundabout in the town, adding that no casualties reported.

On December 8th, an engineering unit dismantled, a 6-kg explosive device planted by terrorists on the roadside of near al-Kesweh roundabout, as the terrorist takfiri organizations are attacking, looting and intimidating the inhabitants of al-Mkalbiyeh and al-Taibeh villages in al-Kesweh countryside.

In Damascus, material damages in properties were caused when terrorists fired a mortar shell at Bab Touma neighborhood in the old city.

A source at police command told SANA that the shell landed on the roof of a residential house close to al-Fursan Hotel in Bab Touma causing material damages to the house and a number of cars.

Earlier Monday, terrorists fired a mortar shell which landed on a house at al-Barody alley in Mazzeh 86 area, causing material damages and no casualties were reported.

H. Zain /M. al-Freih / Barry
Palestinian Leader Mahmoud Abbas Moves to Join International Criminal Court
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
By Ruth Eglash and Carol Morello
December 31 at 4:48 PM  

JERUSALEM — A day after a failed bid at the United Nations to push a Middle East peace settlement, ­Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas moved Wednesday to join the International Criminal Court, setting the stage for potential war-crimes complaints against Israel.

Abbas signed the Rome Statute governing the Hague-based court, prompting swift criticism from Israel and the United States. The State Department said the action was “entirely counter-productive and does nothing to further the aspirations of the Palestinian people for a sovereign and independent state.”

In a statement, department spokesman Jeff Rathke said the move was “an escalatory step that will not achieve any of the outcomes most Palestinians have long hoped to see for their people.”

The decision to appeal to the international court reflects deep frustration among Palestinian leaders at what they consider the Israeli government’s hard-line policies under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, including the expansion of West Bank ­settlements. It also is a product of sharpening tensions amid clashes in recent months and the summer war in the Gaza Strip between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas.

The move deals a major blow to the already dim hopes of reviving peace talks that collapsed in April.

And it could end up backfiring, opening some Palestinians to prosecution over the actions of Hamas, which the United States and Israel have designated a terrorist group. In the past, ICC prosecutors have made clear that they will investigate all allegations of misdeeds in a dispute, not just those of one side. That means Palestinians could be called to answer for Hamas’s rocket attacks on Israeli population centers and the group’s use of civilians as human shields.

Netanyahu made that point shortly after Abbas’s announcement, saying it was the Palestinian Authority — not Israel — that had reason to fear the court.

Congress also could take action in response. Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said funding for Palestinians would be cut if they initiate an investigation of Israel.

The end-of-the-year announcement came late in the day at a specially convened meeting in the West Bank city of Ramallah. ­Abbas said his government would seek to join about 20 international treaties, including the framework that set up the International Criminal Court.

The signing of the Rome ­Statute in itself does not have any legal effect until ratified by the Palestinian Authority, which could delay it indefinitely.

The decision to lay the groundwork came a day after the ­Palestinians fell one vote short of the nine needed to pass a U.N. Security Council resolution demanding that Israel step up peace efforts and withdraw from ­occupied lands.

“We want to complain,” Abbas said in Ramallah. “There’s aggression against us, against our land. The Security Council disappointed us.”

Saeb Erekat, who was part of the Palestinian team negotiating peace with the Israelis, said the step was taken “in order to ensure the protection and advance the rights of our people.”

“There must be accountability and those who are concerned about courts should stop committing crimes,” he said.

Political considerations also may have played a role. Abbas has come under increasing criticism of his leadership since the recent 50-day war in Gaza. More than 2,100 people died, most of them Gazans, though the Netanyahu government says almost half of them were militants who fired rockets into Israel. But the lopsided death toll increased Palestinians’ demands that their leaders formally accuse Israel of war crimes.

Grant Rumley, a research ­analyst at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, said going to the ICC is another step in the Palestinian effort to mitigate U.S. influence by getting other countries more involved.

“A lot of what this is about is they’re trying to find a way to replace the U.S. with another country as a mediator,” he said. “They’re looking to up the pressure on Israel, and they’re looking at the U.N. to do it.”

John Bolton, who was U.S. ambassador to the United Nations under President George W. Bush, said the countries that are part of the ICC should reject the Palestinian application.

“To be part of the treaty, you need to be a state, and the Palestinian Authority is not a state,” he said.

The Palestinians recently gained observer status at the court and in 2012 gained non-member observer-state status at the U.N. General Assembly.

The ICC’s powers are not unlimited. Prosecutors were forced this month to abandon a case against Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, who had been charged with orchestrating a 2007 campaign of ethnic violence. ­Although Kenya is a member of the court, the government refused to cooperate with the prosecution and blocked investigators from gathering sufficient evidence.

Israel could resist the court’s interference. Netanyahu said Wednesday that Israel would “rebuff this attempt to force diktat on us, just like we rebuffed the Palestinian appeal to the U.N. Security Council.”

The resolution called for ­Israelis and Palestinians to strike a peace deal within a year and for Israel to withdraw within three years from territories it captured in the 1967 war — in which Israel won control of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza.

It also declared that East Jerusalem would be the capital of a Palestinian state, a more hard-line stance than an earlier version that described Jerusalem as a shared capital. It also demanded an end to Israeli settlement building.

Morello reported from Washington. Robert Costa in Washington contributed to this report.

Ruth Eglash is a reporter for The Washington Post based in Jerusalem. She was formerly a reporter and senior editor at the Jerusalem Post and freelanced for international media.

Carol Morello is the diplomatic correspondent for The Washington Post, covering the State Department.
Key Developments in Police-communities Tension
Police shoot dead a man in Pennsylvania on Dec. 30, 2014.
By The Associated Press
3:35 pm, Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The killings of two unarmed black men by white police officers in Missouri and in New York this summer touched off protests and a national debate over police conduct that intensified after grand juries declined to indict the officers.

Tensions escalated further after two New York Police Department officers were killed Dec. 20 by a man who suggested in online posts their slayings were in retaliation for the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, a St. Louis suburb, and of Eric Garner in New York. The gunman, who was black, committed suicide.

Some key developments amid the tension between police and communities:


New York City plans to honor the two ambushed police officers by naming streets near their homes for them.

Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito announced the plan Wednesday. The council is expected to take it up next month.

Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu were shot dead in their patrol car in Brooklyn. Detective Rafael Ramos Way and Detective Wenjian Liu Way would be on the Brooklyn blocks where the officers lived.

The officers were posthumously promoted to the rank of detective.

FBI Director James Comey plans to attend Sunday's funeral for Liu. Ramos' funeral was last weekend.

Two police officers fatally shot a man who was in a car they had stopped in southern New Jersey, but authorities weren't releasing further details Wednesday other than that a handgun was recovered at the scene. A witness said he didn't see a gun.

Bridgeton police officers shot one of two people who were in the car they had stopped Tuesday night, prosecutor Jennifer Webb-McRae said. A handgun "was revealed and later recovered," she said.

Witnesses said passenger Jerame Reid was shot after he was ordered out of the car.

Teenager Denzel Mosley said he watched the scene unfold from the attic of his house. He said Reid's hands were in "plain sight" and he didn't see a gun.

"They (police) were telling him, 'Get out the car,'" Mosley said. "They was like, 'Stop!' and they started shooting."

The two officers were placed on administrative leave pending an investigation.

Several protesters tried to rush into police headquarters in downtown St. Louis on Wednesday, and officers used pepper spray on them.

Protesters posted an eviction notice on the door of the police station, citing reasons why Chief Sam Dotson and others should be removed. When several tried to enter the building, officers blocking them used pepper spray to push them out.

Protesters say they wanted to occupy the building for more than four hours, representing the time
Brown's body was in the street after he was fatally shot by a Ferguson officer on Aug. 9.

Five people were arrested. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch said a counter-protester who yelled racial slurs at protesters was arrested for assault.

Activists protesting recent police killings staged a peaceful die-in, lying on the ground and pretending to be dead, during First Night, Boston's popular New Year's Eve celebration.

Dozens of people participated in the brief protest in front of the Boston Public Library on Wednesday evening while others held signs saying "black lives matter" and "a young black man is two times more likely to be shot dead by police than a white young man."

Police reported no arrests or disruptions to nearby festivities.

City officials had urged activists to hold off on the die-in, saying it wasn't appropriate for the family-friendly event.

Indiana state police say a man who wrote threatening letters to law enforcers and fired a gun at officers outside his home has been shot and wounded during a gunfight.

Sgt. Jerry Goodin says troopers and officers with the Jennings County Sheriff's Office went Wednesday to the man's home near the town of Commiskey to serve arrest warrants for intimidation.

He says the man had written threatening letters to local law enforcement and elected officials.

Goodin says the man ran into his home, grabbed a gun and fired on the officers, who fired back. He says it's unclear if the man was wounded by the officers or by himself.

The man has been hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries.

The parents of a man who died weeks after a scuffle with police in Davenport, Iowa, have asked for an autopsy to ensure officers didn't play a role. They say they don't blame the officers for the death of Victor Jose Sarabia Gomez but want an autopsy as reassurance the altercation with police didn't lead to his death.

Police Chief Don Schaeffer says officers on Dec. 6 tried to pull over Gomez, who had a revoked driver's license. Authorities say Gomez refused to cooperate in his arrest, struggling with officers.

Police say Gomez had minor abrasions but refused medical attention. His family says he suffered body aches and migraines after the incident.

Gomez was admitted to a hospital Dec. 21 after suffering seizures his friends said happened after he smoked a controlled substance, the Quad-City Times reported. His family said he fell into a coma after being diagnosed with having suffered a brain aneurysm. He died Christmas Eve.

Scott County Sheriff Dennis Conrad says his office is investigating Gomez's death and an autopsy has been performed. He won't release details, saying he's awaiting toxicology results.

Authorities initially concerned that two Los Angeles police officers had been ambushed Sunday, just days after the two New York officers were killed, said Wednesday that wasn't the case.

The officers drove into the line of fire in a tough area of Los Angeles where gang members were shooting at rivals in another car, prosecutors said.

No one was injured after one of the officers returned fire. One person was arrested at the location, and another person remains at large.

A man shot and killed by police after he tried to run down officers with his car in a Philadelphia suburb had posted an online video threatening to kill police and FBI agents and had been committed to a mental health facility by his mother, authorities said.

Upper Darby Police Superintendent Michael Chitwood said officers feared Joseph Pacini would kill them and harm bystanders Tuesday.

Five officers fired about 20 shots at Pacini, and no officers were injured, he said.

"Unfortunately, this guy made the threats," Chitwood said. "Unfortunately, this guy made the commitment to dying. Unfortunately, his wishes played out."

Police said when officers stopped Pacini at an intersection and ordered him out of his car, he reversed and slammed into a police vehicle and prepared to run over other officers.

Pacini did not have a weapon but could have used the car to harm pedestrians or other motorists, Chitwood said.

Pacini had posted online videos with rambling messages and threats after a detective left a message for him regarding an altercation Monday at a fitness club. Pacini said police had tortured him and demanded the detective "back off." If police tried arresting him, he said, there would be "catastrophic consequences."

Pacini's death comes a little more than a week after a man who made similar threats shot the two NYPD officers dead in their patrol car. The NYPD officers' attacker had referenced in online posts the killings by white police officers of unarmed black men. Pacini, who was white, didn't reference those deaths in his postings.
At Least 26 Killed in Yemen Suicide Bombing: Security Official
Damage from bombing in Yemen on Dec. 31, 2014.
6:06pm EST

SANAA (Reuters) - A suicide bomber killed at least 26 people in central Yemen on Wednesday when he blew himself up at a cultural center where students were celebrating the Prophet Mohammad's birthday, a security official said.

At least 48 people were also wounded, including many women and children, the official said, according to state news agency Saba. The celebration, in the city of Ibb, was organized by the Houthis, the Shi'ite Muslim group that controls most of Yemen.

No one claimed responsibility for attack, but similar bombings have been carried out by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which operates in Yemen and regards Shi'ites as heretics.

Tensions have increased in Yemen since the Houthis captured the capital Sanaa in September and expanded south and west. The Western-allied country, which shares a long border with the world's top oil exporter, Saudi Arabia, had been trying to overcome an al Qaeda threat before the Houthi advance.

The official said the bomber mingled with guests as they arrived at the cultural center and detonated his suicide belt at the back of the hall.

The official told Saba that all local government officials escaped unharmed, except for the director of the culture department, who suffered serious injuries.

A local resident had earlier said the director general of the Ibb governorate was among the dead.

President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, in a condolence message to the Ibb governor and families of the victims, condemned "the terrorist and criminal" attack and instructed the government to ensure the wounded receive full medical attention, Saba said.

Residents reported a second explosion occurred outside one of the two hospitals, al-Thawra. But security sources later said that security forces had been firing in the air to disperse residents who had gathered in front of the hospital.

(Reporting by Sami Aboudi and Mohammed Mukhashaf; Editing by Larry King and Andrew Heavens)
Maryland Governor O’Malley Commutes Death Sentences Emptying Death Row
New York Times
DEC. 31, 2014

Nearly 20 months after Maryland abolished capital punishment, Gov. Martin O’Malley said Wednesday that he would empty the state’s death row by commuting the sentences of four inmates who were awaiting execution.

“In my judgment, leaving these death sentences in place does not serve the public good of the people of Maryland — present or future,” Mr. O’Malley, a Democrat who will leave office in January and may seek the presidency in 2016, said in a statement. “Gubernatorial inaction at this point in the legal process would, in my judgment, needlessly and callously subject survivors, and the people of Maryland, to the ordeal of an endless appeals process, with unpredictable twists and turns, and without any hope of finality or closure.”

Under Mr. O’Malley’s order, four men who had been sentenced to death — Heath Burch, Vernon Evans Jr., Anthony Grandison and Jody Lee Miles — will instead be imprisoned for life without the possibility of parole.

Scott D. Shellenberger, the Baltimore County state’s attorney, criticized Mr. O’Malley’s decision, which he described as “not unexpected.”

“I’m very disappointed in the decision,” said Mr. Shellenberger, whose county prosecuted Mr. Evans and Mr. Grandison for the 1983 murders of two people at a motel. “These sentences were lawful and remain lawful. They were imposed by a jury. Numerous judges have affirmed these convictions, and it’s interesting that in the last 21 days of the administration, that suddenly he has decided to show mercy on individuals who showed absolutely no mercy to the victims of their crimes.”

Mr. O’Malley’s decision capped years of debate in Maryland about capital punishment, and it came after the state attorney general, Douglas F. Gansler, said in November that Mr. Miles’s pending death sentence was “unenforceable” because the Maryland Division of Corrections lacked the authority to issue a protocol for lethal injections.

Maryland last executed an inmate in 2005, about a year before the State Court of Appeals, ruling in Mr. Evans’s case, struck down Maryland’s lethal injection.

The legislature voted in March 2013 to repeal the death penalty, and Mr. O’Malley signed the measure into law less than two months later. The law did not alter existing death sentences.

Mr. O’Malley said that recent history had weighed on him as he considered his options under state law and consulted with family members of victims.

“They have borne their grief bravely along with the additional torment of an unending legal process,” Mr. O’Malley said. “If endless death penalty appeals were to continue, these family members would, no doubt, persevere through that process with continued courage and fortitude. Of this I have no doubt. The question at hand is whether any public good is served by allowing these essentially unexecutable sentences to stand.”

In Wicomico County, the state’s attorney, Matthew A. Maciarello, said the mother and other survivors of Edward J. Atkinson, whom Mr. Miles murdered in 1997, preferred that Mr. Miles be executed, but had accepted Maryland’s “legal and political realities” and supported the commutation decision.

“Jody Lee Miles was never going to be put to death under the political and legal status quo,” Mr. Maciarello said. “It gives her and her family a greater degree of closure than they otherwise would have had.”
Africa 2014 in Review, Part II: The Quest for Unity and the Role of Imperialism
Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan-African News Wire.
AFRICOM, the International Criminal Court can only be defeated through renewed struggle

By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire

In a military operation characteristic of the current phase of United States imperialist intervention in Africa, the Pentagon announced on Dec. 30 that it had killed a leading official of the Al-Shabaab Islamic resistance organization based in Somalia. This figure was one of several who the State Department had placed a $3 million bounty on their heads.

Reuters news agency reported that “The victim, identified as Abdishakur and also known as Tahliil, was the head of Amniyat, a unit believed responsible for suicide attacks in Mogadishu, Somalia's National Intelligence and Security Agency said in a statement. The U.S. Defense Department said on Monday it launched an air strike in Somalia that targeted a senior al Shabaab leader.” (Dec. 30)

Since 2007, the U.S. and its allies in Britain and France have carried out numerous execution-style attacks in Somalia. These search and destroy missions are an integral part of the U.S.-designed strategic and tactical framework of the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) which at present has approximately 22,000 troops in the Horn of Africa state.

These troops come from numerous states including Uganda, Burundi, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Sierra Leone and others. It was recently announced that Sierra Leone would not be renewed by the United Nations mandated AMISOM due to the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) pandemic which has impacted the country during the year. (, Dec. 24)

Sierra Leone troops participating in AMISOM were trained by the U.S. Army Africa, a component of AFRICOM. Most of the funding, supplies and coordination of AMISOM is carried out by the Pentagon, the CIA and private military and intelligence contractors associated with such occupations that have extended over the last thirteen years from as far east as Afghanistan to the Middle Eastern state of Iraq, where Washington has re-deployed 3,100 troops over the last few months ostensibly to fight the Islamic State, a group which grew out of the Obama administration’s war against the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad.

In neighboring Djibouti, AFRICOM has established a base at Camp Lemonnier where 4,000 troops and intelligence personnel are stationed. This military base is undergoing a major refurbishment indicating that the Pentagon and CIA penetration of the Horn of Africa is destined to continue for an extended period.

According to an article published by the New York Times on May 5, “The Obama administration said … that it had signed a 20-year lease on its military base in Djibouti in the Horn of Africa, the only American installation on the continent and a staging ground for counterterrorism operations in Yemen and Somalia. Djibouti, a country of fewer than one million people the size of New Jersey that borders the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, has played an increasingly significant role in seeking to stabilize regional crises. The deal reflects the small country’s outsize strategic importance in helping the United States and other Western allies combat terrorists, pirates and smugglers in the region.”

Nonetheless, despite this massive Pentagon and intelligence presence, security concerns are paramount. A series of strikes by guerrilla forces from Al-Shabaab have created tensions in both Djibouti and Somalia.

Several weeks after the announcement about the expansion of Camp Lemonnier on May 27, the Pentagon publication Stars and Stripes reported that “U.S. military personnel at Camp Lemonnier are locked down following a fatal bombing Saturday at a restaurant frequented by westerners in Djibouti, the strategic Horn of Africa nation that borders Somalia. No U.S. personnel were among the dead or injured, but, as a precaution, troops have been restricted to base, the U.S. military's Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa said.”

Later in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, in response to the targeted assassination of Al-Shabaab leader Ahmed Abdi Godane on Sept. 1, on Sept. 8, a convoy of AMISOM troops accompanied by Pentagon, CIA and private military contractors was attacked resulting in the deaths of at least twelve people.

This attack by Al-Shabaab was largely covered up in the U.S. corporate media. The death of military and intelligence operatives in Somalia exposes the central role of Washington in the ongoing war in the Horn of Africa.

In addition to the official U.S. government personnel killed, this incident revealed the role of Bancroft Global Development, a security firm with close ties to the Pentagon. This outfit has been active in Somalia for a number of years.

The New York Times reported as early as 2011 that “The company plays a vital part in the conflict now raging inside Somalia, a country that has been effectively ungoverned and mired in chaos for years. The fight against the Al-Shabaab, a group that United States officials fear could someday carry out strikes against the West, has mostly been outsourced to African soldiers and private companies out of reluctance to send American troops back into a country they hastily exited nearly two decades ago.” (Aug. 10)

Just four days prior to the targeted assassination against the Al-Shabaab leadership on Dec. 29, the AMISOM base in Mogadishu was attacked by the Islamic guerrilla organization. Xinhua wrote of the Dec. 25 attack on the AMISOM compound that “Al-Shabaab militants attacked the main base of the African Union peacekeeping force known as AMISOM in Mogadishu on Thursday, with explosions and gunfire heard inside the base.” (Dec. 25)

This same article continues noting "Explosions and gunfire were heard inside the AMISOM base, as fighters attacked the place. Al-Shabaab spokesman Abdulaziz Abu Musab confirmed the attack, saying its fighters have entered the base by force and carried out attacks.”

These developments since Sept. illustrates clearly that the war in Somalia remains a major source of U.S. imperialist operations in the Horn of Africa and the entire eastern region of the continent. Even with some defections in the leadership of Al-Shabaab, the contradictions between the Somalian people and their foreign occupiers continue to deepen and intensify.

International Criminal Court (ICC): The Legal Arm of Imperialism in Africa

For several years the ICC has been subjected to harsh criticism in Africa. During the Jubilee anniversary of the formation of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) in 2013, the predecessor of the AU, much discussion was held around how to approach a Netherlands-based institution that exclusively focuses on pursuing and prosecuting African leaders.

Numerous African leaders have suggested that the AU member-states should withdraw from the ICC and renounced the Rome Statute which laid the ideological and judicial basis for the establishment of the court. Yet no concrete actions have been carried out by the AU Commission based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The ICC recently dropped the prosecution of Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta. However, it will continue to go after his deputy William Ruto.

Kenyatta was charged with crimes against humanity related to factional clashes over a disputed national election in Kenya during 2007-2008. ICC efforts aimed at the Kenyan government mobilized considerable verbal protests against the institution pointing out the racial bias in its pre-occupation with Africa.

For several years, the Republic of Sudan leader President Omer Hassan al-Bashir and other officials have been issued warrants by the ICC. These warrants and travel bans are related to the Sudanese government’s handling of the armed insurrection carried out by several rebel groups in the western Darfur region of the oil-producing state.

The partition of Sudan in 2011 was also related to the role of the ICC. The suggestion of genocide against the people of Darfur provided a rationale for imperialism to strongly advocate the division of the country.

Even with the division of Juba from Khartoum, the U.S. and its allies are still committed to the succession of Darfur. By weakening this key central African state bordering its neighbors in the north and east of the continent, it provides AFRICOM and NATO further room for expansion.

Sudan was emerging as a major oil-producing state on the continent. Now with the division and renewed tensions between the Republic of South Sudan and the Republic of Sudan, both countries are facing economic turmoil.

This crisis in Sudan has been enhanced by the overall decline in oil prices on the global markets. All oil-producing states in Africa will experience the full impact of these economic changes in the coming year.

Africa Must Reject Imperialist Militarism and Judicial Racism

The Pentagon and NATO along with the ICC represent a double-pronged strategy aimed at maintaining neo-colonialism well into the 21st century. As the continent remains divided within the colonial inherited geographical boundaries and state structures, its capacity to address both internal and external threats are compromised.

All of the governments in Africa which have maintained military relations with AFRICOM and NATO countries are in no way more stable and secured from instability. After eight years of bolstered imperialist intervention in Somalia, the degree of tensions coupled with the burgeoning humanitarian crisis has not been alleviated.

Since the presence of the Pentagon-backed AMISOM operation in Somalia, millions of Africans have been dislocated due to hostilities between Al-Shabaab and the Federal Government which is propped-up by Washington and Brussels. While the ICC chases down African leaders both within state structures and without, the imperialist countries through their ruling classes have carried out illegal wars of occupation and regime-change resulting in the deaths of millions throughout Central Asia, the Middle East and Africa.

These U.S. and NATO wars of aggression move forward with the vocal and silent consent of the so-called international legal system at the UN and in The Hague. The AU must rapidly develop its own system of legal justice to address human rights violations and territorial disputes.

Until an All-Africa High Command is established to intervene in domestic and regional conflicts, the western-based military and intelligence apparatuses will continue their rampage across the continent, its waterways and islands. Such a politico-military institution will inevitably emerge from a renewed revolutionary program aimed at the abolition of neo-colonialism and imperialism from the continent.

A people’s army drawing cadres from across the region committed to Revolutionary Pan-Africanism represents the most viable solution to the crises of sovereignty, stability, genuine independence and unity.  Ongoing balkanization and western interventions through economic, military, political and legal means will only serve to maintain western hegemony fostering the continuing exploitation and underdevelopment of Africa.