Sent: Saturday, April 09, 2005 4:58 PM
Subject: Been there, done
Dear Family and Friends,
Feelings of despair and disbelief
persist a week after Zimbabwe's
elections. I still have a faint pink stain on
the sides and under the nail
of the little finger of my left hand. This is a
remnant of the ink which
was used to mark me as having voted and when I look
at the stain now, I
can hardly believe how quickly elation and hope were
replaced with anger
and betrayal as the results were announced. Every day
since the elections
the state have crowed about peace, democracy and
political maturity but
they have said nothing about 3 million Zimbabweans
living outside the
country who were not allowed to vote or a tenth of the
voters inside the
country who were turned away when they got to polling
stations on the 31st
March. Every news bulletin begins with a countdown of
how many days are
left before the 25th anniversary of independence and
democracy in the
country but then the reports that follow do not tell of the
women of WOZA who were arrested for praying nor why such an act
indicative of, in their words, "a mature democracy".
In the week
that followed the election result, the huge sense of
disappointment has been
almost too much to bear. The MDC took many days to
find their voices and when
they did it was to say they had evidence
showing massive electoral fraud and
figures which displayed huge numerical
discrepancies in more than 30
constituencies. The government of course
dispute the claims and the bulk of
the South African observers had already
made their claims of peace and
freedom and so nothing has changed, we have
heard all this before, been
there, done that and got the T shirt. None of
this gives ordinary Zimbabweans
hope. Neither the outrage of the MDC nor
the arrogant crowing of Zanu PF has
done a thing to actually help ordinary
Zimbabweans this week. It hasn't put
medicines back in hospitals, kids
back in schools, food on our tables or
clothes on our backs. In the last
seven days since the elections the prices
of basic goods have increased by
between 50 and 100%. Margarine, sugar and
cooking oil have disappeared
from the shelves and petrol queues have started
Across the country many thousands of people made so many
last fortnight, giving so much and showing such courage as
they worked for
democracy and now the feeling of betrayal is palpable. Along
of others, I watched the funeral of Pope John Paul the second
and his life long call to oppressed people to not be afraid is most
for Zimbabweans struggling to see hope and light this week. Love
Retailers Reverse Price Hikes, Basic Goods Disappear From
The Herald (Harare)
April 9, 2005
Posted to the
web April 9, 2005
RETAILERS and manufacturers have heeded
Government's directive to reverse
unilateral price increases effected in the
past few weeks as it also emerged
that most basic commodities had
disappeared from supermarket shelves.
The Ministry of Industry and
International Trade this week ordered retailers
to revert to old prices,
saying the latest round of price increases was not
cost of margarine and soft drinks, which had significantly risen, has
been slashed to pre-March 31 levels.
Prices of cooking oil, sugar and
maize-meal have also come down, but the
commodities are in short
However, the price of beef has remained high, with a kilogramme
beef selling at $64 000, up from the previous $40 000 a
Prices of other basic commodities such as laundry soap, milk, bread
have remained stable although there were fears that they might go
Retailers attributed the illegal hikes to an upward price adjustment
manufacturers who were reportedly grappling to cope with rising
The downward revision of prices has seen a
reduction in supply by
manufacturers, hence the obtaining shortage of basic
Economists have since warned that price increases are
inflationary and could
derail Zimbabwe's efforts to tame
Gains achieved in the war against inflation could be eroded
owing to the
illegal and unjustified price increases.
is central to the maintenance of inflation at low levels.
Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has repeatedly urged retailers to wear a
and avoid unjustified price increases.
The increase in prices by
retailers flies in the face of the RBZ and
national efforts to tame
Deputy Minister of Industry and International Trade Cde
said the Government was investigating the "unwarranted"
He said price monitors would descend on all retailers
increasing prices of basic commodities.
The shortages of
maize-meal currently being experienced, the ministry said,
was a result of
temporary logistical problems of transporting grain from the
Board (GMB) to millers and the situation was now under
ministry is engaging GMB, millers and principal suppliers of milk to
establish reasons behind the latest shortage of basic
Delta Beverages, which last week doubled the price of soft
drinks, said it
had since reversed the increases.
"In compliance with
the recent ministerial directive that the price
increases of carbonated soft
drinks be reversed, we hereby advise that the
recommended retail prices will
apply with effect from Monday 11 April 2005,"
said Delta in a statement.
Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe
Petroleum companies hike fuel prices
issue date :2005-Apr-09
PETROLEUM companies have hiked fuel
prices in Harare amid reports that
reserves have dwindled due to panic
buying by motorists in response to
indications that imminent shortages are
Petroleum Marketers Association of Zimbabwe (PMZ) president Gordon
this week expressed ignorance of the shortages despite the
winding queues in the few outlets that had
However, a survey carried out by The Business Mirror in the city
Thursday showed that most fuel outlets had run out of petrol with
of them selling diesel.
Motorists swum the Fourth Street Engen
service station, the only outlet that
had both petrol and diesel where at
least half a kilometre long queue
formed stretching from Fourth Street into
Out of 10 other service stations visited, officials said fuel
suddenly disappeared in the past week and were in a quandary as
supplies would resume.
Managers at most outlets said they
suspected that suppliers were holding on
to stocks in anticipation of price
adjustments, pointing out that the nation
could be bracing for a fresh round
of astronomical hikes.
While most outlets displayed prices ranging between $3
600 and $4 500 per
litre, petrol was not available and motorists said
outlets out of the city
centre had sufficient stocks but had defied
government orders to revert to
They said petrol prices had
shot up to $4 600 in some service stations.
On Tuesday, Industry and
International Trade minister Samuel Mumbengegwi
declared that companies
would not be allowed to unilaterally hike prices.
The prices suddenly shot up
in the post election period.
"They just increased the prices from nowhere and
this is not the procedure
as we have to sit down and discuss first," the
minister quipped, ordering
that prices had to revert to the old
Energy and Power Development permanent secretary, Justin Mupamhanga
fuel reserves were sufficient, urging motorists not to panic.
are no shortages, companies want to raise prices and as soon as the
go up, both petrol and diesel would be abundant," one manager said.
petroleum sector was recently deregulated as government sought to divert
burden of procurement from state sponsored monopoly National Oil Company
Zimbabwe (Noczim) by giving room to independent players' participation in
petroleum products' importation.
The decision was expected to avert
perennial supply bottlenecks that have
hit the country since
However, the deregulation, which has failed to end the fuel woes, has
led to regular upward adjustments of the price of petroleum products,
effects have unleashed a spate of hikes in transport fares and basic
"Random adjustment of fuel prices does not benefit
anyone but only worsens
the plight of consumers and the Consumer Council of
Zimbabwe (CCZ) would
like to call for strict monitoring of this sector to
justification of any increases," the CCZ said
Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) vice president David
warned that while higher price adjustment were not healthy, the
environment called for constant reviews.
at least US$45,1 million per month for fuel requirements
alone but the
central bank, entangled in a vicious circle where allocations
critical sectors have to be considered, is only able to avail
million per month.
While there were reports of fuel trickles on Thursday
motorists continued hunting for the precious liquid ahead
of the weekend.
Already, the shortages have triggered price increases with
operaters hiking fares. In some parts of Harare fares have risen to
as $5000 per trip.
The ripple effects of the illegal hikes are
also expected to see production
levels in industry going up and would also
precipitate price increases in
goods and services.
Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe
Wildlife authorities dismiss poaching
The Daily Mirror Reporter
MORE than 180 elephants were slaughtered last year for
purposes contrary to sensational British press reports that
rife in Zimbabwe's game parks, the department of Parks and
Management Authority said yesterday.
Morris Mtsambiwa said the culling of the jumbos was a
gesture for rural communities in times of need.
He said the carcasses paled
into insignificance compared to the national
tuskers population estimated at
about 100 000.
"The approved quota for drought relief in 2004 was 186
elephants for nine
rural districts countrywide. This off take from an
estimated national herd
of about 100 00 is insignificant," said
He made the remarks denying allegations of mass elephant killings
vast Hwange National Park by the UK-based The Daily Telegraph.
story headlined: "Tourists flee park elephant slaughter," alleged that
US and Australian tourists fled the game sanctuary in Matabeleland
after witnessing "wholesale slaughter" of jumbos in an operation
"Operation Nyama (meat)" believed to be a ploy aimed at
game poaching in the area.
Mtsambiwa said the facility has been availed to
communities for years during
culling exercises, as well as cropping quotas
and direct assistance.
In a related incident, the Zimbabwe Association of
Tour Operators has
dismissed allegations of poaching in the Hwange National
investigations had yielded no supporting evidence.
operator acknowledged their awareness of a "ration quota set aside to
provide meat to national parks employees."
Saturday April 9, 11:56 AM
Charles "you're welcome"-paper
HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's
President Robert Mugabe has told Prince
Charles he is welcome to visit the
southern African nation, which has
strained relations with its former
colonial power, state media has reported.
Prince Charles, attending
the Pope's funeral, shook hands on Friday
with Mugabe -- a leader so shunned
by the European Union that it has banned
him from the region.
"Comrade Mugabe told him he was welcome to return to Zimbabwe," the
Herald newspaper said on Saturday.
The handshake triggered
embarrassment in Britain, prompting the royal
household to issue a statement
saying the prince was caught by surprise and
was not in a position to avoid
shaking Mugabe's hand.
The Herald said Mugabe had a chat with the
heir to the British throne
recalling his visit in 1980, when he represented
the Queen at Zimbabwe's
newspaper also said Prime Minister Tony Blair left his designated
to Mugabe at the funeral.
The Herald quoted unnamed sources who
said Blair, his wife Cherie and
British opposition leader Michael Howard all
left their seats when they saw
Mugabe coming to take a seat next to
"Blair is said to have fled his seat, saying saying he could
next to President Mugabe," the paper reported in its main front page
Mugabe and Blair have had frosty relations for years, with
leader accusing Blair of backing the opposition party in
has described the country's main opposition party as the
Blair's office had no
comment on the report.
The EU imposed travel sanctions on
Zimbabwean government officials
after accusations of vote rigging in
Zimbabwe's parliamentary polls in 2000
and in Mugabe's re-election two years
Mugabe, a Roman Catholic, defied the ban to attend the
funeral at the
Vatican, which is not part of the EU.
handshake with Mugabe was the latest mishap to befall Prince
Charles on the
eve of his wedding.
He had been due to marry his lifelong love
Camilla Parker Bowles on
Friday, but postponed the wedding to Saturday so he
could attend the funeral
of Pope John Paul II.
Secretary Jack Straw was called to task last year for
Mugabe's hand at the United Nations.
Zimbabwean court releases 18 opposition youths on
9 April 2005
HARARE - A Zimbabwean
court has released 18 youths arrested after mass
protests in the capital
urging Zimbabweans to reject the outcome of
elections won by President
Robert Mugabe's party, their lawyer said on
youths were charged with contravening the Public Order and Security
lawyer Alec Muchadehama told AFP.
"They were released yesterday evening
after the magistrate's court granted
the youths separately from Monday to Thursday.
Muchadehama said the
magistrate's court in Harare ordered the 18 youths to
pay 300,000 zimdollars
(48.3 dollars) each and report twice to Harare's main
An opposition lawmaker and youth leader remained detained at a
station on the outskirts of Harare and was due to appear in court
Nelson Chamisa, a member of parliament for the opposition
Democratic Change (MDC), has been accused of inciting the
Police went on high alert this after scores of youths took to
of Harare alleging "massive fraud" in last week's parliamenary
The police said groups of MDC supporters stoned shops and
passers-by on Monday in a protest at the results from the
party said were rigged.
The youths were
distributing flyers saying "the MDC has rejected the
election results and
urges its members, supporters and all Zimbabweans to
pressurise the regime
into reversing this electoral fraud, the police said.
The MDC denied
links to the demonstrations saying the youths could be
Zimbabweans sympathising with the MDC or ZANU-PF thugs wearing
to tarnish the image of our party."
Mugabe's Zimbabwe African National
Union - Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) won
78 of the 120 contested seats in the
March 31 elections against 41 seats for
the MDC, which dismissed the polls
as "massive fraud."
Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai cited among
other irregularities the
administration of the elections by a body it said
was partisan, the use of
food by the ruling party to win over voters and
inflated voter figures.
He said his party would consult its members on
the course to take
following the "flawed" elections endorsed as free and
fair by observer
missions from the Southern African Development Community
(SADC) region and
the African Union.
Justify Increase in Rates - Residents
April 9, 2005
Posted to the web April 9,
RESIDENTS of Harare and satellite towns have urged the
the affairs of Harare City Council to justify its rates,
supplementary charge increases by improving its service
The commission adopted the budget without objections for
Service delivery in Harare has gone down
in recent years owing to
unrealistic charges most of which were below cost
The MDC council, which came into power in 2002, was also
blamed for poor
service delivery. The council was dismissed on the grounds
while some of its councillors resigned in
The financial situation in council is so bad that authorities
payment of March salaries because of cash flow problems while
residential areas, water supplies are intermittent and refuse is not
This has all been attributed to inadequate finances and
failure to implement
quarterly increases last year.
interviews, residents expressed mixed reactions to the budget
that will take
effect at the beginning of next month.
Mr Mike Banda, who represents
informal traders in Harare, said lodgers would
be the most affected, as
landlords will pass on the cost to them.
"We are going to have an outcry
from lodgers," he said.
However, he said the increases for this year were
understandable taking into
consideration the consultations that took place
during the budget
He added that the commission
justified the increases and should receive the
support of the
Miss Kuda Mujakachi of Hatfield said the charges on water were
because the commission has done nothing to improve water delivery.
complained of burst water pipes that go for days unattended.
Nyasha Chinyahara of Glen View said when talking of the increases, people
should not look at percentage increases because they do not mean
She said the commission should show its commitment to improving
delivery now that it is charging market rates.
the Combined Harare Ratepayers Association Mr Mike Davies said
there was not
much time for advertising of the budget as stipulated in the
"There is only three weeks to advertise and receive objections," he
Announcement of the Harare budget was postponed several times owing
number of reasons, among them a directive by the Government that rates,
tariffs and supplementary charges should be reviewed within the inflationary
Government directed that increases should take into
support that the State was giving to local
Harare in particular has received several billions of
dollars to go towards
water, sewerage reticulation and road maintenance.
Popular Uprising Seems an Unlikely Course of Action
Inter Press Service
April 9, 2005
Posted to the web April 9,
The landslide victory of Zimbabwe's
ruling party in last week's
parliamentary elections has strengthened the
voice of those who have been
arguing that change in the southern African
country cannot come through the
The election result also
pushes the prevailing socio-economic crisis to a
new level. The opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has rejected
the outcome, alleging
Zimbabwe's sixth parliamentary elections were rigged.
"This election was
stolen," says MDC spokesman Paul Themba Nyathi. "The
results are in no way
an accurate reflection of the sovereign wishes of the
Western governments have also joined in condemning the poll.
13-nation Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the
Union (AU) have endorsed the elections, while acknowledging the need
The MDC leadership says it is heading back to
the drawing board. The party
has ruled out court action, saying the
judiciary has failed to rule on
similar charges of fraud relating to the
last two general elections which
were also marred by violence and
Thus, the only viable option left to the MDC seems to be
mass action. But
sceptics say demonstrations might not take off as the most
are among the country's 3.6 million citizens now living
abroad, the majority
of them in neighbouring states.
As well, the
authorities' reputation for high-handedness is still enough to
Many remember how an unsanctioned all-night prayer
meeting on the eve of the
election was brutally crushed, as have many
previous public protests by the
activist group Women of Zimbabwe Arise
(WOZA). Several members of WOZA are
still in hospital nursing their
Since announcement of the election results, police in the capital
have been on high alert fearing protests. So far they have arrested
youth and questioned the party's youth leader Nelson Chamisa. The
accused of involvement in a short-lived demonstration as well as
distributing leaflets urging Zimbabweans to take to the
Despite the political impasse, mass action still seems an
unlikely course of
action for Zimbabweans. With stoic resilience, they have
hardships and an erosion of political and media freedoms in
the last five
In the aftermath of a populist land-reform
programme preceded by a four-year
military intervention in the Democratic
Republic of the Congo (DRC), the
economy has contracted by about 40 percent
while unemployment stands at over
70 percent. Food shortages are rampant,
due to triple digit inflation and
the government turning away foreign
Yet protest action has not been seriously contemplated in the
attempt, dubbed the 'final push' was made by the MDC in 2003. It
Morgan Tsvangirai a treason charge, without giving the party any
This reluctance by the Zimbabwean opposition and
civil society to adapt open
agitation as a long-term strategy has often led
to a perception,
particularly in the country's powerful neighbour South
Zimbabweans are too afraid to confront their government and
South African's own fight against the apartheid
regime was mainly through a
wide and sustained mass action which, coupled
with international pressure,
made an impression on the government despite
its formidable security
apparatus and determination.
is we don't have many people helping us," says an activist
who points to
acquiescing neighbouring states as well as South Africa itself
diplomacy' appears bent on preserving the status quo.
Elsewhere in the
region, mass action has had mixed results. In September
1998, in its first
military intervention since the end of apartheid, South
African troops were
sent into Lesotho in support of the government,
beleaguered by an army
Despite periodic protests in the DRC, rival militia factions
continue to run
the roost in the vast country.
Among those who might
be feeling vindicated by the results of last week's
elections is Lovemore
Madhuku, who heads a civic group which holds that a
constitution is the only basis for a popular transition in
National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) contends that the
process allows the president 'to subvert the will of the
Madhuku has long argued it would be shown "again and
again" that the MDC is
only participating in elections in order to maintain
a presence and not to
gain power. Madhuku, a law lecturer, who has
personally been arrested 13
times, beaten and left for dead after a protest,
says participating in a
poll is far easier than delivering democracy which,
he says, is not possible
under current conditions.
Of the 120
parliamentary seats contested during the Mar. 31 poll, President
Mugabe's ZANU-PF party got 78. The MDC obtained 41 and one seat went
Despite its hope of widening its gains made during
its first showing in
2000, the MDC got 16 seats less. It argues it actually
won as many as 94
But what the five-year-old party is having
difficulty swallowing is that it
failed to get enough seats to prevent
President Mugabe from getting the
two-thirds majority he needs to change the
constitution to suit his
purposes. The 81-year-old former guerrilla leader
has already said his party
will re-introduce the Senate, or upper house,
which will be populated by
some of ZANU-PF's losing
Besides the seats his party has won, Mugabe is mandated by
to appoint 30 legislators into the house of assembly,
his majority in the 150-seat chamber to
"Pushing for constitutional reform does not mean talking to ZANU-PF
rather, forcing the ruling party to accept changes through continuous
protests and making the country ungovernable," says Madhuku.
says the aim of the mass protest must not be to replace Mugabe but should
a "broad-based" demand for democratic reforms. He, however, says the MDC
does not have the capacity to organise such mass action. Bulawayo Catholic
Archbishop Pius Ncube, who ranks as one of the most outspoken critics of
President Mugabe, has also been urging peaceful mass action as the only way
to usher in a new dispensation in Zimbabwe. But he adds Zimbabwe does not
yet have the leadership to organise such a protest.
group Sokwanele says last week's election proves that
ZANU-PF 'will never'
be defeated through the ballot box as long they run the
simply, ZANU-PF will not permit any party, however
popular, to beat them in
an election," it says.
The group says it expected the MDC to have learnt
its lessons after
suffering two previous "stolen elections". "The question
now is whether the
MDC has any other strategy apart from mobilising voters
elections," it says.
From SW Radio Africa, 8 April
MDC youths in hospital
MDC youth activists have been sent to hospital after they were
brutalised by police in custody. The 4 were part of the group of
arrested in connection with an MDC demonstration that took place
early this week. Freelance journalist, Frank Chikowore saw the 4
released today and he says they looked badly beaten. The youths say
were assaulted with sjamboks and stones. One of the youths, Spencer
is having problems walking. His trousers are allegedly torn as a
the severe beatings. The youths who had been in custody at
Station say they were denied food, blankets and visitors.
It is also
reported that the police allegedly planted five grams of mbanje
youths and forced them to pay fines of $25 000 each for being in
of illegal substances. It's believed the police deliberately
mbanje to avoid the youths appearing in court, which would have
abuse. In a related issue, the MDC National Youth Chairman and
Kuwadzana Nelson Chamisa is still in police custody. Chamisa who was
arrested on allegations of inciting public violence when he addressed the
youths has been transferred from Rhodesville police station to Matapi police
station also in Harare.
From The Chicago Tribune, 9 April
Zimbabwe opposition at
Some say compromise with the ruling party, others call for
By Laurie Goering, Tribune foreign
Johannesburg - Following a second set of rigged
seeking change in their devastated country now face a
activists and analysts say: Organize a popular uprising,
or give up the
political battle, accept President Robert Mugabe as perpetual
ruler and try
to persuade him to begin focusing on helping people rather
than clinging to
political power. Recent elections, marred by widespread
vote fraud, were "a
clear demonstration you cannot remove a dictator from
office at the ballot
box," said John Makumbe, a Zimbabwean political science
sabbatical at Michigan State University. That means
disappointed in the democratic process and fed up with
economic ruin brought on by the ruling party and with
failures of leadership
in the opposition Movement for Democratic Change,
need to act on their own,
Makumbe said. "The need is for the people to
effectively lead themselves,"
he said. "In my view, there is no other
solution but civil disobedience."
Zimbabwean Archbishop Pius Ncube,
one of Mugabe's most outspoken critics,
called for street demonstrations
after the March 31 elections, which gave
Mugabe's ruling party a two-thirds
parliamentary majority, enough to change
the country's constitution.
Election observers, including US diplomats and
Movement for Democratic
Change poll watchers, said that the vote tallies
recorded for ruling Zanu PF
candidates in many districts surpassed the total
number of votes cast. In
Murehwa South District, for example, the Zimbabwe
reported 8,579 votes cast at the close of polling and
then said later that
the ruling party received 19,200 votes in the district.
Similar results were
reported in at least 30 of 120 election districts. "The
stolen," charged Paul Themba Nyathi, a spokesman for the
Democratic Change. "The results are in no way an accurate
reflection of the
sovereign wishes of the people of Zimbabwe." But
frustrated voters have
shown little inclination to follow the archbishop's
call to the streets. The
problem, analysts said, is that Zimbabweans live in
justifiable fear of
police and military repression and no leader has stepped
forward to guide
them. "In Zimbabwe, you only need to fire one canister of
tear gas and
everybody's back home," Makumbe said. "People are getting used
Lovemore Madhuku, a constitutional lawyer and
key leader of the country's
civil society movement for political change,
agrees that bringing about
organized civil disobedience will take time and
grass-roots organizing. But
"there is no other option," insisted the
human-rights campaigner, who has
been jailed repeatedly and was beaten and
left for dead a year ago by
government-allied thugs. "We have to renew this
fight, otherwise people will
lose hope," he said in a telephone interview
from Harare. "The only question
is, `Do we have sufficient commitment and
leadership to do that?'" Political
analysts say it is now clear such
leadership will not come from the
country's chief opposition party. The
Movement for Democratic Change, long
reluctant to lead street protests, has
responded to the latest election by
"wringing its fingers and doing nothing
else," Makumbe said. But Madhuku and
Archbishop Ncube, the country's
strongest activists, cannot by themselves
carry off a revolution, analysts
warned. Since the 2000 elections, when
voters for the first time showed
signs of rejecting Mugabe's regime in favor
of the Movement for Democratic
Change, the president has tried to cling to
power and boost his sagging
popularity by seizing white-owned farms for
redistribution to landless
peasants and insisting the opposition is a front
for whites trying to
recover power in the country, which won its
independence from Britain in
Much of Zimbabwe's best land, however, has ended up in the
hands of Mugabe
cronies, while Zimbabwe's agricultural production - once the
Southern Africa - has plunged, leading to a broader economic
hyperinflation has made the country's currency virtually
underpaid doctors have fled abroad, the economy has shrunk by
half, at least
3 million unemployed Zimbabweans have gone to neighboring
South Africa to
find work and Zimbabwe can no longer feed itself, much less
Faced with that reality, "I think this is the time for all
step back and look at the disaster the country is now - the
implosion, the political repression - and say, `This thing cannot
anymore,'" said Trevor Ncube, a Zimbabwean journalist and head of the
and Guardian newspaper in South Africa. The best way to stop it, he
may simply be to reassure Mugabe that his grip on power is no longer
threatened. "I think Zimbabwe is desperately yearning for peace and normalcy
after years of turbulence and economic meltdown," Ncube said. With people
still reluctant to take to the streets, a better way to bring about
improvement in the country's day-to-day life may be simply to ease the
81-year-old president's fears and say, "Your people deserve better than
this," Ncube said. Mugabe "is a man who fought a liberation war, who cared
about his people but who has unfortunately been sidetracked in the search
for political survival. That's made him resort to desperate measures and
that has wreaked havoc on the country," Ncube said. But now "he's achieved
all he wanted to do.Now should be the time to say, `What do I do with all
these things I wanted? Do I want to leave a legacy of people starving,
jobless, crippled by poverty?'" Whether Mugabe might respond to such
overtures - or whether Zimbabweans would be willing to make them - remains
unclear. What is certain is that while Zimbabwe's autocratic leader jetted
off to the Pope John Paul II's funeral in Rome on Friday, his people stayed
behind, waiting in long lines for staples such as cornmeal, cooking oil and
Nelson Chamisa, the MDC youth leader and MP for Kuwadzana --
arrested three days ago on as yet unspecified charges related to inciting
post-election public violence -- is now spending the weekend at Matapi Police
Station in Mbare.
The cell conditions at Matapi are said to be the worst
President Tsvangirai tried to see him yesterday evening and
was turned away. Initially, the police officer on duty told Mr Tsvangirai that
he was at the station at a wrong time. When asked what time he should pay
Chamisa a visit, the officer blurted: "between 5 and 6 pm".
Tsvangirai politely reminded him that the time then was 5.40
pm. The came another excuse. "Do you have a lawyer with you?"
" No," said Tsvangirai, "why, do I need one?"
" Okay, I will get someone to take you to the cells," he
Within a short space of time, the entire Matapi charge office
was full of plain clothes police officers, police constabularies in riot police
regalia, police in uniform and others spotting dark glasses whose identity could
not be ascertained.
The man in charge consulted with another and there came a
prompt response. "We do not have the keys to the cells."
"So, what do we do?" asked Tsvangirai.
" The man with the keys is out attending to another
assignment, in fact , a traffic accident, just around the corner."
"Should we wait for him, then," Tsvangirai
"No. No. No. It is getting dark. We can't allow visitors in
when it is too dark. You have to come back some other time," he
So we left Matapi Police Station without having seen Chamisa.
Tsvangirai was very worried, thinking Chamisa must have been tortured soon after
his arrest, hence the police reluctance to allow visitors to check on
At 6.45 am today, we were back at Matapi. The officer on duty
openly refused to attend to us, maintaining that we must get clearance from the
law and order section of the Criminal Investigations Department at Harare
Central police station.
As we left the station, Tsvangirai spotted the officer we met
yesterday, at a distance but coming to assume duty at Matapi. Tsvangirai
reminded him that he was back as per yesterday's arrangement. The officer
professed ignorance at the new ruling that clearance must be sought at the CID
We immediately followed him into the station. As expected, the
station was now full of all kinds of "policepersons", one of them armed with an
After a few minutes, we were led to the cell yard, under
heavy, very heavy police escort. A young police woman opened the gate, and as if
to survey and reconnoitre the surroundings before opening the cells, she lazily
strolled around the building before approaching the cell door.
Out came Chamisa. Barefoot. Weak. He looked disoriented, his
eyes blood-shot -- denoting lack of proper sleep. "Mr President, good morning!"
Chamisa said cheerfully. "They are holding me for the entire weekend. It is
always part of their game, these heartless souls," he said, regaining his usual
self, composure and confidence.
Asked whether he was assaulted or tortured since his arrest,
Chamisa said: "The only major discomfort I experienced was when Dhowa picked me
up from Rhodesville Police Station enroute to Matapi. When we arrived at the
Coca Cola turn-off, he ordered me out of the police car and force-marched me,
while I was in leg irons, to this place. We hobbled to this place with the car
following behind. He shouted all sorts of obscenities at me, accused of trying
to kill him, charged the MDC youths under my commend wanted to burn him at some
unspecified place. I know nothing about all this."
Dowa or Dhowa is a senior officer at the law and section of
the Zimbabwe Republic Police. You will recall his presence in Kosovo as part of
a peace-keeping mission raised some controversy some years back, resulting in
him being send back home. He has openly told Tsvangirai that he blames the MDC
for his failure to complete his tour of duty in Kosovo. At the time, questions
were raised about his behaviour and human rights record in
Chamisa does not know when he will be brought before a court.
"Maybe sometime next week," he said.
While we were at Matapi, two sympathisers from his Kuwadzana
Constituency joined us. They said police had refused them permission in the
past. They were grateful to Tsvangirai's presence as it had allowed them to
"sneak in and see our MP".
One of them, an elderly woman had a Coke and two buns. Chamisa
spoke to her briefly and thanked the woman for the food and for her
Of the 19 people linked to the MDC arrested this week, Chamisa
is alone at Matapi. The whereabouts of others are unknown. The police have a
habit of transferring suspects, usually at night from one station to another.
This makes it difficult for relatives and officials to provide them with food
and other essentials.
More, if any, later.