Source blog: The Bearded Man


The intention was to tweak my project today, but it is raining and that prevents us from working with electronic equipment outside. It isn’t serious as it will keep for the meantime.

The weather office says that this wet weather is here to stay for some time and will affect the British F1 GP, the Olympics and various music festivals.

Summer this year will be held between 1415 hours and 1515 hours on August 1st - and if the weather is inclement, it will be held indoors!

Sadly, that date bracket is also going to affect a planned reunion at the end of July.

Oh well, suck it in and get on with it…


A friend in the United States sent me this article. I have only reproduced the part that refer to  Zimbabwe. Thanks DB!

Zimbabwe is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. Women and girls from Zimbabwean towns bordering South Africa and Zambia are subjected to prostitution in brothels that cater to long-distance truck drivers. Some victims of forced prostitution are subsequently transported across the border to South Africa where they suffer continued exploitation. Zimbabwean men, women, and children are subjected to forced labor in agriculture and domestic service in rural areas, as well as domestic servitude and sex trafficking in cities and towns. Family members often recruit children and other relatives to travel from rural areas to cities, where they are subjected to domestic servitude or other forms of forced labor after arrival; some children, particularly orphans, are lured with promises of education or adoption. Additionally, the practice of ngozi, or giving of a family member to another family to avenge the spirits of a murdered relative, creates a vulnerability to trafficking. The individuals given to the wronged family, often girls, are sometimes forced to labor or to marry a member of the new family. Children are forced to carry out illegal activities, including drug smuggling. Although security forces still control access to the diamond-producing Marange district, NGO sources indicate that forced labor abuses have ended, including previously reported allegations of Zimbabwean security services forcing young men and boys to mine for diamonds.

Zimbabwean men, women, and boys migrate illegally to South Africa, where some are forced to labor for months on farms, in mines, or in construction without pay before their employers report them to authorities for deportation; reports indicate employers use the pretense of regularization to withhold passports. Many Zimbabwean women and some children willingly migrate to South Africa, often with the assistance of taxi drivers who transport them to the border at Beitbridge or nearby; some of the migrants are transferred to criminal gangs that subject them to violent attacks, rape, deception, and, in some cases, sex trafficking in Musina, Pretoria, Johannesburg, or Durban. Zimbabwean women and men are lured into exploitative labor situations in Angola, Mozambique, the United Arab Emirates, Malaysia, Nigeria, and South Africa with false offers of employment in agriculture, construction, information technology, and hospitality; some subsequently become victims of forced labor or forced prostitution. Women and girls are also lured to China, Egypt, the United Kingdom, and Canada under false pretenses, where they are subjected to prostitution. Men, women, and children from Bangladesh, Somalia, India, Pakistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Malawi, Mozambique, and Zambia are trafficked through Zimbabwe en route to South Africa. Chinese nationals reportedly are forced to labor in restaurants and mines in Zimbabwe. Women and children from border communities in neighboring countries are trafficked to Zimbabwe for forced labor, including domestic servitude, and prostitution. Also, one Chadian child in domestic servitude was identified in Zimbabwe.

The Government of Zimbabwe does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so. While high-level officials, including the president, showed increased interest in trafficking issues during the year, tangible efforts to combat trafficking in persons remained minimal. The government failed to finalize or submit its draft anti-trafficking legislation to the cabinet, which is the first step in introducing it for parliamentary consideration. As trafficking is not defined by Zimbabwean law, the government lacks a legal framework to anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts. The government did not provide evidence that it investigated or prosecuted trafficking offenses in 2011. It continued to rely on IOM to provide law enforcement training, identify and protect victims, and lead prevention efforts.

Recommendations for Zimbabwe: Finalize and pass draft anti-trafficking legislation in line with the 2000 UN TIP Protocol; prosecute, convict, and punish trafficking offenders under existing legislation; formalize procedures for identifying victims and transferring them to the care of appropriate governmental or non-governmental service providers; incorporate trafficking crimes into police procedures for recording and reporting crime data; and launch a broad awareness-raising campaign on the nature of trafficking and the availability of assistance for victims.

Prosecution: The Government of Zimbabwe undertook no discernible anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts during the year. It did not investigate or prosecute trafficking offenders, and neither finalized nor introduced a comprehensive anti-trafficking bill to the Cabinet. Zimbabwean law does not prohibit all forms of trafficking in persons. The Labor Relations Amendment Act prohibits forced labor and prescribes punishments of up to two years’ imprisonment; these penalties are not sufficiently stringent. The Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act also prohibits procuring a person for unlawful sexual conduct, inside or outside of Zimbabwe, but prescribes less than stringent penalties of up to two years imprisonment. If the victim is under 16, the sentence can be up to 10 years imprisonment. The Act also prohibits coercing or inducing anyone to engage in unlawful sexual conduct with another person by threat or intimidation, prescribing sufficiently stringent penalties of one to five years imprisonment. Pledging a female for forced marriage or to compensate for the death of a relative or any debt or obligation, is punishable under the Act, with penalties of up to two years imprisonment. None of these penalties are commensurate with penalties prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and Ministry of Justice failed to finalize or submit the draft anti-trafficking bill to the Cabinet, which is the first step in introducing it for parliamentary consideration.

The government did not investigate or prosecute forced labor or forced prostitution offenses during the reporting period. The Zimbabwe Republic Police’s (ZRP) Victim Friendly Unit (VFU) has responsibility for investigating cases involving women and children, which may include trafficking victims, and the referral of victims to support services. Although NGOs and IOM referred the cases of eight trafficking victims to authorities, the VFU did not report investigating these cases. The January 2011 appeal to the high court by a Chinese construction company which allegedly exploited seven Zimbabweans in forced labor in Angola was not finalized during the reporting period. In December 2011, IOM held a three-day anti-trafficking workshop for 10 legislators from the Portfolio Committee on defense and home affairs. Following the workshop, the legislators conducted a fact finding mission at the Beitbridge and Plumtree border posts. The government did not provide funding or in-kind support for anti-trafficking trainings held by international donors and did not make efforts to independently train its staff. IOM and the MHA began drafting a memorandum of understanding to establish cooperation on training and capacity building on a variety of issues, including trafficking. Overall corruption in law enforcement and the judiciary remained serious and unaddressed problems. Victims refused to report or pursue cases of trafficking because they fear that their traffickers could bribe police or judges. There was anecdotal evidence of limited government involvement in or tolerance of trafficking on a local level and at border crossing points. There were no reports of trafficking offenses committed by Zimbabwean peacekeepers deployed abroad.

Protection: The Zimbabwean government made negligible efforts to protect trafficking victims during the year, continuing to rely on NGOs and IOM to identify victims and provide care. During the reporting period, IOM and NGOs identified and assisted at least eight trafficking victims, providing them with safe shelter, psycho-social support, family tracing, and reunification. Despite the existence of a government process for referring trafficking victims, the Zimbabwean police and department of social services again failed to refer any victims to IOM or NGOs for care in 2011. Government-run shelters and programs were in place to assist and provide counseling and long-term shelter to vulnerable and orphaned children, including trafficking victims; it is not known whether they provided any services to trafficking victims during the year. At its centers at Beitbridge and Plumtree border crossings, trained Department of Social Welfare staff worked closely with IOM and NGOs to ensure the protection of vulnerable children. The department of immigration continued to require all deportees from South Africa and Botswana to attend an IOM briefing on safe migration, which includes a discussion of trafficking. With the exception of deportees from South Africa and Botswana, the government’s law enforcement, immigration, and social services authorities did not have formal procedures with which to proactively identify victims of trafficking among vulnerable populations, such as women in prostitution and irregular migrants. The lack of systematic victim identification procedures impaired the government’s ability to ensure that trafficking victims were not inappropriately incarcerated or otherwise penalized for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked. For example, the Department of Immigration reported the arrest and deportation of 100 Nigerian and Chinese nationals, some of whom may have been trafficking victims. However, in 2011, the department of immigration offered temporary residency to one victim and assisted in their repatriation during the year.

Prevention: The government demonstrated minimal efforts to prevent trafficking during the reporting period. The inter-ministerial task force on trafficking, made up of senior government officials, did not meet during the reporting period, did not execute any anti-trafficking programming, and continued to lack a national plan of action. The government did not launch any anti-trafficking awareness campaigns during the reporting period. The government did not provide information on any efforts it may have made to ensure that its military personnel deployed abroad on international peacekeeping missions did not facilitate or engage in human trafficking. The government did not make efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts. In his September 2011 speech at the opening of Parliament, President Mugabe emphasized the need for Parliament to become a party to and domesticate the 2000 UN TIP Protocol. The cabinet sent a motion to accede to the protocol to Parliament in December 2011, where it was reviewed and later returned to the MHA for revision; however, the cabinet has not submitted a revised motion to Parliament.

It becomes obvious that human trafficking is a very serious problem, and should you visit the source page, you will see that the article is lengthy and lists countries that have this problem.

It actually boggles the mind that so many countries throughout the world are having this problem.


More mayhem on Zimbabwe’s roads…

Nine people perished and 18 others were hospitalised after a Gweru-bound ZUPCO bus rammed into a broken-down heavy goods truck in Kwekwe early on Wednesday, police confirmed.

The accident is the third serious road disaster in as many days after two other commuter bus crashes in Wedza and Mbembesi claimed a combined 19 lives.

Police Superintendent Andrew Phiri said initial accounts by survivors in the Kwekwe crash suggested there was fog, which may have prevented the bus driver from noticing the broken down truck.

“The ZUPCO bus crashed into the stationary lorry at around 6AM and overturned. Seven people died on the spot and two others died on their way to hospital,” he said by telephone from Harare.

The broken-down truck was carrying steel rods. Some of the survivors from the bus which had 27 passengers told how most of the dead were stabbed by the rods which ripped through the bus.

National traffic police deputy spokesperson Assistant Inspector Luckmore Chakanza said the injured were being treated at Gweru and Kwekwe General Hospitals.

The driver of the bus is among the injured, Chakanza said.Chakanza said the bus driver told the police that he did not see the haulage truck registered to Wel Mining Transport in time because of poor visibility.

'The bus rammed into the rear right side of the haulage truck with the front left side. On impact, the steel rods stabbed some passengers and seven people died on the spot,' Chakanza said.

If the driver of the bus says that the visibility was poor, then why did he not reduce his speed to allow him to have reaction time?


And another accident…

Thirteen people were killed in fatal Kombi crash along the Bulawayo-Fort Rixon road in Matebeleland South early Tuesday morning.

Four others were also injured in the accident after the overloaded kombi veered off the road before crashing into Nonko River.

“Thirteen people were killed on the spot and four more were injured and have since been referred to United Bulawayo Hospital (UBH) in Bulawayo. 'The accident occurred yesterday in Fort Rixon although I am yet to receive a report with finer details of the accident,” Matebeleland South police spokesperson Tafanana Dzirutwe said.

The Fort Rixon accident came just a month after 13 other people were killed in another fatal accident which occurred along the Harare-Bindura highway after a min-bus driver lost control and veered off the road.

Most of the Zimbabwe roads are in a state of disrepair with many littered with dangerous potholes as result of years of neglect and increased volume of traffic beyond designed carrying capacity.

Hundreds of Zimbabweans including some senior government leaders have perished in road accidents that experts have largely blamed on the poor state of roads. Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s wife Susan Tsvangirai also perished in car accident along Harare- Masvingo highway in March 2009.

It is believed that the number of the people who have died in traffic accidents is much higher than that of the people who have died of HIV-Aids or any other disease.

Statistics from the Zimbabwe Traffic Police show that road accident fatalities have increases from 35 deaths per thousand accidents to 45 deaths per thousand accidents.

According to the ministry of transport, 30 percent of the country’s roads require rehabilitation, while the remainder needs periodic maintenance.

Zimbabwe introduced tollgates in August 2009 as a way of mobilising resources for the rehabilitation and maintenance of the country’s road network.

Small vehicle road users pay US to cross the tollgates, while buses and lorries pay . Motorbike and cyclists do not pay anything.

According to official government estimates, the tollgates are raising per week.

To paraphrase a posting I recently read on FaceBook:

“At independence, Zimbabweans drove on the left of the road.

Today, they drive on what is left of the road.”


Sustainable development is the theme of the conference Robert Mugabe is attending in Brazil this week, yet the ailing ZANU PF leader reportedly took a delegation of 92 cronies, costing the cash strapped Zimbabwean economy more than million.

Ironically, Mugabe himself convened a special meeting last week to discuss the economy, at which Finance Minister Tendai Biti is said to have sparked a heated debate over the cost of the Rio trip. But according to the Daily News newspaper, Mugabe left the meeting early to attend a police passing-out parade.

In his 2012 Budget Review the Finance Minister had warned about the extravagant travel costs of senior officials, saying .5 million had been blown on foreign trips last year. This averages out to about million per month being spent on travel by government officials.

The size of Mugabe’s delegations when he travels abroad has long been a subject of ridicule and concern at the same time, with jokes being made about extravagant shopping trips while ordinary Zimbabweans struggle to feed their families.

Economic analyst John Robertson explained that Minister Biti has no power to change the situation, although he has frequently objected to the amount spent on these trips. According to Robertson Biti has been unable to get any legislation or policy changes made to stem Mugabe’s huge expenses.

“We see this as an effect of the President wanting to reward people who have served him in some way. It’s all part of the patronage system that the President has depended on for many, many years,” Robertson told SW Radio Africa on Wednesday.

The Daily News said the delegation to Brazil, which was spotted at Harare airport Sunday, included Mugabe’s wife Grace and a full medical staff that he now travels with. Also in tow was the Environment Minister Francis Nhema and Foreign Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi.

Robertson said it was a “disgrace” that these individuals have access to such funds when there are welfare organisations shutting down, people living on charity because government has taken their pensions and children who cannot afford to go to school due to a lack of facilities.

Regarding the conference, Robertson said sustainable development involves issues such as the practical use of scarce resources or the cutting down of indigenous hardwood timbers in Zimbabwe. Conservancies have also been plundered by war vets and military chefs who invaded them illegally.

“These issues are not being addressed by the individuals concerned. In fact they might be the ones who are calling for policy choices that do anything but promote sustainable development,” the economist explained.

Beside the financial cost of the trip, Tuesday’s cabinet meeting was cancelled because Mugabe insists that only he can chair this weekly meeting of coalition government ministers. 

This has also happened on many occasions when the ailing dictator leaves the country seeking medical treatment.

Has Mugabe got no conscience?

92 people accompanied him to Brazil, and they blew US7 million… That calculates out at a shade over US each!


Why would one of Mugabe’s more opinionated officials come out with this statement?

Is this not ZANU PF attempting to cool the worry in the country that ZANU PF are setting up for their normal vote fixing, and then, when everyone thinks ZANU PF is finished, they spring their plan?

ZanuPF will relinquish power if the party loses in the next elections, its Secretary for Administration, Didymus Mutasa, has said.

“We fought to liberate this country but when the people say we should go, we will step down. I hope the people won’t say that because we liberated Zimbabwe,” Mutasa, who has in the past declared presidential ambitions, told The Zimbabwean.

His statement contradicts the position security chiefs have maintained since the formation of the Movement for Democratic Change in 1999. Army generals have repeatedly vowed that they would not respect any leader without “war credentials”.

Mutasa is optimistic that the controversial indigenisation programme, seen as a “share grab” along the lines of the “land grab” of 2000, will guarantee Zanu (PF) victory at the next polls.

“As a matter of fact, we have greater support now since we are empowering the people through the indigenization programme,” he claimed. Mutasa defended the army for its involvement in politics and elections, saying they had a democratic right to do so. He said it was ‘‘naïve and arrogant’’ for anyone to insinuate that the military should not be involved in elections
and politics.

‘‘Almost everyone in the Politburo (Zanu (PF) decision making body) went to war to liberate this country and that includes Constantine Chiwenga and Perence Shiri. What does it mean now to say that they can’t be (actively involved in elections)? ‘‘Should they now cease to exercise their democratic right to be in politics, a right which they fought for?

“Does it make any sense to say they should now cease to support Zanu (PF) because they are now in the military?’’ said Mutasa.

Mutasa acknowledged deep seated factionalism within his party, but distanced himself from any camp. “I belong to Zanu(PF)and for those that have factions, let them have them. I cannot stop them. As a matter of fact I was thinking about it this morning while I was on my way from Rusape that if I am asked this question my response would be that I belong to both camps
because they make the party,’’ he said.

There are numerous camps within the party, one of them being Mugabe’s staunch loyalists, who include Mutasa. Diplomatic cables leaked last year indicated that several influential members of the party confided in secret meetings that they wanted Mugabe to go because he had overstayed.

Personally, I will not believe this until I see it…


Take care.