April 17, 2008
James Bone and Sam Coates in New York
Gordon Brown declared yesterday that the world must stop Robert Mugabe from
stealing the Zimbabwean election and raised the prospect of a run-off
contest supervised by United Nations monitors.
Challenging the Zimbabwean leader and abandoning nearly a decade of British
“soft” diplomacy, the Prime Minister told a UN summit: “No one thinks having
seen the results in polling stations that President Mugabe has won this
election. A stolen election would not be a democratic election at all.”
Mr Brown was speaking at a Security Council meeting in New York chaired by
Thabo Mbeki, the South African President, who did not even mention Zimbabwe.
The South African leader has continued to advocate his policy of “quiet
diplomacy” towards Zimbabwe, which until yesterday was supported by Britain.
In what was regarded as a diplomatic snub, Mr Mbeki cancelled a scheduled
meeting with Mr Brown and instead chatted to him for only a few minutes in a
The Prime Minister and Zalmay Khalilzad, the US Ambassador to the UN, joined
forces to embrace a proposal by Ban Ki Moon, the UN Secretary-General, to
send international observers to monitor a possible run-off between Mr Mugabe
and the opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
“The credibility of the democratic process in Africa could be at stake
here,” the UN chief told the summit. “If there is a second round of
elections, they must be conducted in a fair and transparent manner, with
France joined the growing international chorus. Rama Yade, its Human Rights
Minister, called for the Zimbabwean Government to release the election
results. “The people of Zimbabwe need to know the truth,” she said.
But China, which maintains close relations with Mr Mugabe as part of its
quest for natural resources in Africa, made no mention of Zimbabwe in its
speech. Chinese diplomats say the election stand-off is an internal matter
not appropriate for Security Council involvement.
A UNmonitored run-off could offer a compromise to end the impasse, but
international monitors would need to be invited by the host country. Mr
Mugabe could avoid defeat in the March 29 poll, while Mr Tsvangirai might be
reassured that the result of the rematch would not be rigged as he has
Britain is still calling for the results of the election to be published,
while emphasising that from all the available evidence it appears that Mr
British officials believe the issue must now be addressed by the Southern
Africa Development Community (SADC), which is due to meet again this
weekend. Should the SADC conclude that the most sensible way forward is a
Britain wants UN oversight, including election monitors.
Mr Brown discussed the idea with Mr Ban at breakfast yesterday – a day after
the UN chief had spoken to President Bush. “Everybody is angry they have not
seen the election results announced. The General-Secretary has now announced
UN help and if there were to be a second round, they would send observers .
. . I am pleased the UN Secretary-General is dealing with the situation,” Mr
The United States proposed that the UN and African Union send a joint
delegation to press Zimbabwe’s election commission to publish the results of
the March 29 poll.
It was unclear last night how badly damaged Britain’s relations were with
the South African leader, a close ally of Tony Blair’s and new Labour. Mr
Mbeki, who has called the situation in Zimbabwe a “normal electoral process”,
had insisted it was not on the Security Council agenda.
The South African leader earlier cancelled a scheduled sit-down meeting with
Mr Brown in a private room because of a “diary clash”. The meeting was
replaced by what a British official called a five to ten-minute “brush-past”
in a diplomatic lounge backstage before the two walked into the Security
South Africa’s UN Ambassador, Dumisani Kumalo, said that Mr Mbeki changed
the planned meeting because “he only arrived in the early hours of the
morning”. But another South African official said that Mr Mbeki had arrived
on time in New York before 9pm on Tuesday.
The South African leader faces a growing divide at home with his own ruling
African National Congress (ANC). Mr Mbeki’s silence provided a further
opportunity for Jacob Zuma, head of the ANC, to criticise his policy of
quiet diplomacy. In his toughest statement yet, Mr Zuma said in
Johannesburg: “We once again register our apprehension about the situation
in Zimbabwe. The delay in the verification process and the release of
results increases anxiety each day.”
Wed 16 Apr 2008, 16:48 GMT
By Louis Charbonneau and Patrick Worsnip
UNITED NATIONS, April 16 (Reuters) - Western states joined the U.N. in
expressing concerns about Zimbabwe's recent election but most African
nations avoided the issue at a Security Council-African Union summit on
"No one thinks, having seen the results of polling stations, that President
(Robert) Mugabe has won" the March 29 elections in Zimbabwe, British Prime
Minister Gordon Brown told the summit.
No results have so far been announced from the presidential vote in the
southern African country, a former British colony.
"A stolen election would not be a democratic election at all," Brown said.
"Let a single clear message go out from here in New York that we ... stand
solidly behind democracy and human rights for Zimbabwe."
South Africa, current president of the Security Council, scheduled the
summit to discuss cooperation between the United Nations and the African
Union (AU). It did not include Zimbabwe as an official topic but many
Western countries had said they would raise the issue.
"I am deeply concerned at the uncertainty created by the prolonged
non-release of the election results in Zimbabwe," U.N. Secretary-General Ban
Ki-moon told the gathering.
"Absent a transparent solution to this impasse, the situation could
deteriorate further with serious implications for the people of Zimbabwe,"
South African President Thabo Mbeki, who chaired Wednesday's summit, has
insisted that the situation in Zimbabwe is not a crisis and can be resolved
through the Southern Africa Development Community, which has avoided a tough
Without mentioning South Africa or SADC by name, Ban made it clear that he
was not satisfied with this approach.
"The Zimbabwean authorities and the countries of the region have insisted
that these matters are for the region to resolve but the international
community continues to watch and wait for decisive action," Ban said.
One African leader who did mention Zimbabwe was Tanzanian President Jakaya
Kikwete, whose country chairs the AU. He praised the SADC for doing a
"tremendous job ... to ensure that the will of the people of Zimbabwe is
Last week the SADC decided not to adopt a tough stance on Zimbabwe but
Kikwete said it would meet again soon.
U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad said he was "gravely concerned about the
escalating politically motivated violence perpetrated by security forces and
ruling party militias."
Like Brown, he backed Ban's call for international observers to be deployed
in Zimbabwe if a second round of presidential elections were to be held. He
suggested that a joint AU-U.N. mission go to Zimbabwe. Italy, France,
Belgium and Croatia also expressed concern.
Other than Kikwete, no Africans mentioned the issue, including Mbeki, who
focused on a general need to boost cooperation between the AU and Security
Council to improve African peacekeeping operations.
The Security Council is not expected to take any action on Zimbabwe because
of resistance from South Africa and other council members. But any
discussion of the issue at the meeting helps boost the pressure on Mugabe,
Western diplomats say.
Brown, Khalilzad and Ban called for more action to ease the crisis in the
western Sudan region of Darfur, where only 9,000 of the required 26,000
U.N.-AU peacekeepers are deployed.
International experts estimate around 2.5 million people have been displaced
and 200,000 have died in five years of violence in Darfur. Khartoum puts the
death toll at 9,000.
Agence France-Presse (AFP)
Date: 16 Apr 2008
by Gerard Aziakou
UNITED NATIONS, April 16, 2008 (AFP) - UN chief Ban Ki-moon backed by some
Western countries urged southern African leaders Wednesday to take "decisive
action" to end the Zimbabwe crisis, saying the world body stood ready to
"The Zimbabwean authorities and the countries of the region have insisted
that these matters are for the region to resolve," he told a high-level
meeting of the Security Council, referring to the delayed results of
Zimbabwe's March 29 presidential polls.
"But the international community continues to watch and wait for decisive
Officially, the worsening Zimbabwe crisis was not on the agenda of
Wednesday's meeting, but Ban and Western members made it a point to address
"The credibility of the democratic process in Africa could be at stake
here," Ban told the meeting hosted by South African President Thabo Mbeki,
whose country chairs the 15-member council this month.
"If there is a second round of elections, they must be conducted in a fair
and transparent manner, with international observers," he added.
Ban urged leaders of the Southern African Development Community (SADC),
which have been mediating between Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and the
country's opposition to continue their efforts.
"The United Nations stands ready to provide assistance in this regard," the
UN secretary general said.
Sunday SADC leaders wrapped up an emergency meeting in Zambia with a call on
Harare to release the election results.
Zimbabwe's opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai says he beat the 84-year-old
Mugabe outright in the March 29 polls, but the ruling party says neither man
won a clear victory and insists a run-off will be needed.
"No one thinks, having seen the results of polling stations, that President
Mugabe has won this election," British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, whose
country is Zimbabwe's former colonial ruler, told the gathering.
"A stolen election would not be a democratic election at all," he added.
"So let a single, clear message go out from here in New York: that we are
and will be vigilant for democratic rights; that we stand solidly behind
democracy and human rights for Zimbabwe. And we stand ready to support
Zimbabweans build a better future."
Plans for a bilateral breakfast meeting between Brown and Mbeki to discuss
Zimbabwe did not materialize as the South Africans cited a scheduling
conflict, according to Michael Hoare, a spokesman for Britain's UN mission.
Brown also canceled a scheduled press conference here.
Mugabe's security forces have clamped down hard on unrest during a general
strike in Zimbabwe, arresting dozens of opposition supporters before the
stoppage fizzled out on Wednesday.
Mbeki has come under fire for telling journalists last week that "there is
no crisis" in Zimbabwe. Mbeki met Mugabe on Saturday in Harare while on his
way to the SADC summit.
In his speech to the council, Mbeki made no mention of the Zimbabwe crisis,
focusing instead on the main theme of the debate: how to bolster ties
between the UN and regional organizations, specifically the African Union.
But France's deputy minister for human rights Rama Yade also briefly raised
Zimbabwe in her address. "The people of Zimbabwe must not be deprived of
their victory, which is the victory of democracy," she said.
Speaking to reporters on her way to the council debate, Yade noted: "We are
concerned about developments and we want the results of this election to be
announced as soon as possible because the people of Zimbabwe needs the truth
of this electoral verdict."
Also attending Wednesday's meeting were the presidents of Democratic
Republic of Congo (DRC), Ivory Coast, Somalia and Tanzania as well as the
prime ministers of Italy, and Ethiopia.
UNITED NATIONS (AFP) - The US ambassador to the UN Wednesday expressed
concern about the "escalating politically motivated" violence in Zimbabwe
and urged a joint role by UN and the African Union to resolve the election
"We are gravely concerned about the escalating politically-motivated
violence perpetrated by (Zimbabwean) security forces and ruling party
militias," Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad told a high-level meeting of the UN
He said the time had come for the UN to back efforts by southern African
leaders to settle the crisis "through a joint mission with the African Union
to ensure that... the will of the Zimbabwean people is upheld."
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's security forces clamped down hard on
unrest during a general strike in Zimbabwe, arresting dozens of opposition
supporters before the stoppage fizzled out on Wednesday.
Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai claims he beat 84-year-old Mugabe
outright in the presidential election last month, but the ruling party says
neither man won a clear victory and insists a run-off will be needed.
Official results have not been published.
Sunday Southern African Development Community (SADC) leaders wrapped up an
emergency meeting in Zambia with a call on Harare to release the election
"The (Harare) government and its supporters must desist immediately from
violence and intimidation, act with restraint, respect human rights, and
allow the electoral process to continue unfettered," Khalilzad said.
And he expressed support for UN chief Ban Ki-moon's call for international
observers to monitor any second round of the Zimbabwean presidential poll.
"If there is a second round of elections, they must be conducted in a fair
and transparent manner, with international observers," Ban told the council
meeting earlier in the day.
(RTTNews) - The Robert Mugabe regime once again became the object of rising
international criticism over its reluctance to acknowledge defeat in the
Zimbabwe general elections, as the UN Security Council'sAfrica summit
convened to debate ways to strengthen the UN-AU working relationship warned
that Africa's credibility is at stake unless democracy is upheld in
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown sent a clear message to Harare by
calling upon the world not to let Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe steal
the presidential elections.
"No one thinks, having seen the result at the polling stations, that
President Mugabe has won this election," Brown told the summit held in New
York to debate peacekeeping in Africa.
"A stolen election would not be an election at all," Brown said, adding that
his government "will do everything to encourage efforts" to resolve the
dispute, including mediation by the Southern African Development Community
and the UN.
Expressing concern over the uncertainty created by the lack of transparency
in Zimbabwe's elections, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon demanded, "If
there is a second round of elections, they must be conducted in a fair and
transparent manner, with international observers."
The summit was convened to strengthen the African Union's peacekeeping
capabilities in the context that conflicts in the African continent have
taken up 60 percent of UN peacekeeping operations.
Ban Ki-moon has proposed setting up a UN-AU panel to study ways for both
sides to meet the challenges in Africa.
European Union (EU)
Date: 16 Apr 2008
8509/08 (Presse 100)
Brussels, 16 April 2008 - The European Union is following the situation in
Zimbabwe closely and welcomes the holding of the Extraordinary SADC Summit
to discuss Zimbabwe, hosted by President Mwanawasa of Zambia in his capacity
of Chair of SADC. It shares SADC's concern about the situation and welcomes
its efforts to find a regional solution.
The European Union supports the Summit's call for the expeditious release of
the Presidential election results, in accordance with the due process of
law. It reiterates its concern at the prolonged and unexplained delay in
releasing the Presidential results which is undermining the credibility of
The European Union expresses its deep concern about the current
deteriorating situation in the field of human rights and the increasing
reports of violent incidents.
The European Union reiterates the importance of respect for democratic
principles and for the elections to be a credible reflection of the free and
democratic will of the Zimbabwean people.
The Candidate Countries Turkey, Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of
Macedonia, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and
potential candidates Albania, Montenegro, Serbia, and the EFTA countries
Iceland and Norway, members of the European Economic Area, as well as the
Republic of Moldova and Armenia align themselves with this declaration.
Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia continue to be part of
the Stabilisation and Association Process.
April 16 2008 at 06:45PM
Harare - Inflation in Zimbabwe, already the world's highest, soared to
164 900 percent year-on-year in February, the Central Statistics Office
(CSO) said on Wednesday.
"The year-on-year inflation rate (annual percentage change) for the
month of February 2008...stood at 164 900,3 percent, gaining 64 320,1
percentage points on the January rate of 100 580,2 percent," the CSO said.
"The month-on-month inflation rate (monthly percentage change) in
February 2008 was 125,9 percent gaining 5,1 percentage points on the January
2008 rate of 120,8 percent."
Zimbabwe's economy is near collapse, with chronic food shortages and
80 percent unemployment. A quarter of the population has fled the country as
HARARE, Zimbabwe (AFP)--A Zimbabwe farmers union said Wednesday more than
130 white farmers had been driven off their land by supporters of President
Robert Mugabe, and around 30 hadn't able to return to their farms.
Trevor Gifford, president of the Commercial Farmers Union, said at least 134
farmers had been affected by a new wave of farm occupations by hardline
supporters of Mugabe amid rising tensions over the results of recent polls.
"The majority of white farmers have been able to return to their farms and
continue farming," Gifford said in a statement. "Regrettably, we cannot say
this for all as the remainder are facing a variety of difficult situations."
Around 30 farmers are still trying to get back to their farms, he said,
adding intimidation is still rife.
"Some of those who are still on the farms are still facing repeated
harassment and abuse despite police intervention," he said. "In some cases
the police are reluctant to get involved as they indicate that the issue is
Jabulani Sibanda, leader of Zimbabwe's so-called war veterans who took part
in the country's independence struggle and were at the forefront of land
invasions eight years ago, has denied recent recurrences on mostly
Sibanda said war veterans had merely gone to investigate claims whites were
preparing to "take back the land" after opposition Movement for Democratic
Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai declared he had won the presidential poll.
Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF has been fanning the flames of the land issue in a
bid to discredit Tsvangirai, whom they typecast as a pro-Western stooge
planning to resettle the whites.
Zimbabwe launched its controversial and often violent land reforms eight
years ago seizing at least 4,000 properties formerly operated by white
farmers, and pledging to redistribute them to landless blacks.
An estimated 400 white farmers now remain in the country.
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
SW Radio Africa (London)
16 April 2008
Posted to the web 16 April 2008
Soldiers and militants loyal to Robert Mugabe's regime have unleashed a
terror campaign that the MDC on Wednesday compared to the beginnings of the
Rwandan genocide in 1994.
In an interview on our Behind the Headlines series MDC spokesman Nelson
Chamisa said the brutal attacks on their supporters countrywide will
ultimately cost many lives, including the two who have already been killed
in Karoi and Mudzi.
In Magunje soldiers made villagers line up and forced them to hold bullets
while demanding they meditate with their eyes closed, on why they voted for
the opposition. One by one they were forced to reveal who they voted for in
the election while soldiers asked menacingly, 'do you want to start a war
with Zanu PF?' Military experts have described the tactic as a Chinese
psychological torture technique. The MDC have also revealed that ordinary
Zanu PF militia have been given army combat gear to wear and so
distinguishing genuine soldiers from fake ones has become difficult.
Village elders in Magunje were also questioned on why they did not ensure
their people voted for Zanu PF. Two village leaders bravely defied the
soldiers and told them to strip them of their 'village head' status if they
wanted. One of them, Forbes Chambati, ran on an MDC ticket for the
parliamentary elections in the area. Although he lost to a Zanu PF
candidate, Chamisa says MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai had more votes than
Mugabe in the presidential election. The results were posted outside polling
stations in the area and could be clearly seen.
In Chatsworth soldiers have ransacked villages at Injama farm and abducted
all the polling agents who worked for the MDC during the election. In Gutu
in an area called Chiguhuni, similar attacks have occurred. In Mutasa South
the party reports that over 500 villagers have been made homeless after
soldiers ransacked and burnt their homes. Those affected have moved to Old
Mutare. Chamisa says their social welfare department is struggling to cope
with the refugee crisis that is developing.
In Gokwe an MDC supporter was shot in both legs on Tuesday and has been
admitted to a hospital in Gokwe centre. Again Zanu PF militants masquerading
as soldiers were behind the attack. In Seke a group of war veterans moved
around the villages wielding guns and threatening those who voted for the
opposition. In Zaka, Tsholotsho and other rural areas the stories are the
The Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights has meanwhile confirmed
that its members have treated more than 150 patients beaten and tortured
since the March 29 election. The doctors say the injuries clearly stemmed
from organised violence and torture. Over 30 patients were from the Mudzi
area alone. 'The commonest injury observed was extensive soft tissue injury
of the buttocks. This results from prolonged beating with a hard blunt
object" the doctors said. The doctors urged authorities to 'cease the use of
intimidation, violence and torture as a form of retribution or
SW Radio Africa (London)
16 April 2008
Posted to the web 16 April 2008
Over 50 opposition supporters have been arrested in a clampdown by security
forces, targeting those who participated in Tuesday's stayaway.
Although police have only confirmed the arrest of 30 opposition activists
the MDC insists the figure is much higher, with suggestions that over 100
might have been picked up countrywide. According to MDC spokesman Nelson
Chamisa most of those arrested are MDC staff members and include a recently
elected member of parliament.
The MDC called for a stayaway Tuesday to press for the release of
presidential election results.
Former student leader Marvellous Khumalo who won the St Mary's constituency,
Director of Information Luke Tamborinyoka, administrators Kudakwashe
Matibiri and Fortune Goveya are some of those being held at Harare Central
police station. Police claim those arrested barricaded streets and stoned
buses that were transporting workers in the morning.
With 80 percent unemployment and most people self-employed, the response to
the stayaway was low key. There were however enough incidents to suggest a
restive population. Angry youths in Harare threw a burning tyre into a bus,
setting it alight, while others clashed with soldiers and police in the
early hours of the morning. The situation was calm late in the afternoon and
most shops and businesses made the decision to open at that time. Chamisa
says they have received several reports that companies who took heed of the
stayaway are being victimised by state security agents.
He noted a high number of soldiers deployed around the suburbs with police
almost, 'invisible.' He accused the soldiers of haphazardly beating up
residents, in a clear attempt at intimidation.
SW Radio Africa (London)
16 April 2008
Posted to the web 16 April 2008
Students at the National University of Science and Technology in Bulawayo
rioted on campus Wednesday, demanding that Robert Mugabe step down as
Chancellor of the University.
The demonstration is said to have turned violent when riot police entered
the campus and started beating up students indiscriminately. Angry students
then turned on one member of the police force who was brandishing a pistol,
and stoned him. Several cars and buildings were stoned during the
The students are angry about the poor educational standards in the country
and blame Mugabe's misrule for their plight. They also demanded a release of
presidential election results, which have still not been announced 18 days
after Zimbabweans voted. Zimbabwe National Students Union President Clever
Bere warned Mugabe that students would make the country 'ungovernable' if he
tried to 'steal' the election.
The students have declared they will go on an indefinite class boycott while
they wait for new a Chancellor to be installed. They said Mugabe's term
expired on March 28th. Meanwhile another statement from ZINASU says over 300
students at the University of Zimbabwe in Harare demonstrated against the
withholding of presidential election results. A branch of the Commercial
Bank of Zimbabwe (CBZ), which operates from campus, was shut down during the
Sunday Independent, SA
16 April 2008, 11:36
An uncleared vessel - suspected of carrying arms - docked at the Durban
harbour, the National Ports authority said on Wednesday.
Spokesperson Ricky Bhikraj said the Chinese vessel had entered the port
without clearance and had currently docked at the outer anchorage.
The ship - called 'An Yue Jiang' is suspected of carrying a consignment of
arms allegedly headed for Zimbabwe.
A Port side police source told Sapa the ship was carrying arms and had
docked at the harbour on April 14.
He said there were rumours that it was to deliver arms to Zimbabwe.
Bhikraj confirmed that a vessel by that name had entered the Port of Durban.
"We can confirm that there is an uncleared vessel (not cleared to enter
port) by that name currently at the outer anchorage. The allegations are
being handled by the various national security authorities," he said.
Noseweek editor Martin Welz earlier told Sapa: "The cargo ship was openly
delivering a containment of arms for Zimbabwe."
Asked where he had obtained the information from, Welz said it was his own
Bhikraj, meanwhile, said the vessel had to follow procedures.
"There is a normal process for all ISPS (International Ship and Ports
Security) vessels to be cleared to enter the port.
He said this vessel would now have to go through that process and that it
could take quite some time before it is cleared.
He said if the vessel was not cleared, it would not be allowed to enter a
South African port.
Asked whether there had been arms on the ship, Bhikraj said: "We can't
comment on the whether arms were or were not on the vessel"
Dennis Abrio of the national branch of the South African Police Service said
they would comment on the matter once they had details.
KwaZulu-Natal police spokesperson Superintendent Vincent Mdunge said he
could not comment on the matter. - Sapa
Globe and Mail, Canada
From Wednesday's Globe and Mail
April 16, 2008 at 3:51 AM EDT
JOHANNESBURG — Their first target is Nelia Gomba, a tall, frail woman in her
late 40s. She is visibly shivering when a young woman in military fatigues
drags her out of the crowd.
"This is Nelia and she is here to make a confession," the young woman shouts
to the four dozen people packed into the community hall. Then she pins Ms.
Gomba to the ground.
But the older woman, her face on the floor, says nothing. And so two more
youths step forward carrying leather whips.
In the crowd, Ms. Gomba's daughter, Synodia, begins to scream, but is
quickly silenced with a cracking slap from another youth in fatigues.
At the front of the room, the youth kicks Ms. Gomba in the face and blood
starts to ooze from her nose. "That is what you get for trying to sneak the
MDC through the backdoor," she snarls. Then they begin to use the whips. At
first Ms. Gomba cries out; in response, the youths hit her harder.
Eventually she stops screaming, and the noise as the whips hit her body is
the only sound in the room. The crowd sits silent in the light of flickering
paraffin lamps. Ms. Gomba loses consciousness after 15 minutes of this, and
her family is ordered to carry her away.
In Zimbabwe's national election on March 29, Nelia Gomba volunteered as a
polling agent for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change. For the
past 28 years, the people of this small farming village 100 kilometres
southeast of the capital Harare have voted, in election after election, for
Robert Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party.
They were driven by a combination of loyalty for the party's role in the
liberation struggle and fear of retribution if they voted otherwise.
A bit more than two weeks ago, the people of Chiduku said, "Enough."
Driven to desperation by an economy that has contracted faster than any in
history, by inflation of more than 150,000 per cent annually and by
recurring food shortages, they voted overwhelmingly for the MDC, and its
presidential candidate Morgan Tsvangirai.
Now they are being made to pay for that act of electoral bravery.
On April 1, Zimbabwe's electoral commission announced that this and many
other constituencies had gone to the MDC, enough to give the party control
of Parliament for the first time in Zimbabwe's history.
Five days later, the youth militia arrived.
There are about 25 of them and they have established a rough camp in the
hills above the village.
They wear the rough green fatigues that gave the infamous militia its
nickname, the Green Bombers. Shortly after they arrived, a few of them came
down to meet with the chief of this and each of the four nearby villages,
and gave each a message: They expected to be regularly supplied with food
And that first night, around 8 o'clock, they moved through the villages,
carrying sticks and whips, and ordered everyone to attend a meeting. People
were told that if their relatives and neighbours were not there, they would
be held accountable.
The meetings are called pungwe, the chiShona word for "a night vigil."
They originated in the war of liberation, when resistance fighters would
stealthily gather rural people together to indoctrinate them politically on
the need to end colonial rule.
The militias created by Mr. Mugabe four years ago have now been deployed
around the country to take measures to ensure that none of the
constituencies that voted for the MDC would do it again in a run-off
Outsiders are never allowed to witness these meetings; a Globe contributor
sneaked in to the Chiduku gathering last Saturday night to provide a rare
At the opening of the meeting, the crowd was ordered to join in singing
liberation war-era songs urging people to take their guns and fight for
their country: "sell-outs must be killed," the lyrics go. Then there were
speeches, denunciations from militia members who appeared to be high on
drugs of "traitors," "rabid dogs of the west" and "puppets."
After midnight, the demonstrations of the cost of voting MDC began, with the
whipping of Ms. Gomba. When she had been carried, bloodied, from the room,
the youth dragged up Naison Ngwerume, an MDC activist from the area; the
youth told the crowd that they found posters in his bedroom showing Mr.
"These are the rotten apples in this district," said the youth leader, a
short, hardened man with a bald head. "We shall not allow them to
contaminate the whole lot of you."
Mocking youths ordered Mr. Ngwerume, a farmer in his early 30s, to stand on
his head for 20 minutes. He battled to maintain his balance and struggled in
obvious pain. The youth laughed hysterically. And when he at last collapsed,
they moved in and whipped him.
The meeting went on like this four hours: four more people who were accused
of supporting the MDC were pulled from the crowd and beaten while everyone
else, including their families, was forced to watch.
At dawn, the villagers were released, told to go home - and return that
night for another session. The pungwe continue to be held every night.
Teresa Shito, a 54-year-old farmer and a mother of three, knew the terror
had begun before the pungwe. She awoke last Thursday, before dawn to the
sound of voices outside her straw-roofed home.
Outside the door, she found a knot of the youth militia who now run the
village. And they had a message for her.
"They said I was an MDC prostitute because I attended their rally here," Ms.
Shito said. "Then one of the youth flicked a lit matchstick on to the roof
of my thatched hut."
Neighbours rushed to help her put out the flames before they could spread to
other houses. The youth disappeared.
But she lost everything she owned, she said, including the clay pots her
mother made for her when she was married - she had used them each day for
more than 20 years.
Squads of Green Bombers like those in Chiduku, and other groups of
paramilitaries including "war veterans," have been deployed in every
district across the country, using similar tactics.
In Mutoko, 160 kilometres to the north of Harare, 20 houses were burned last
weekend. Five were torched in Murehwa, 80 kilometres north, on Sunday night.
With a report from a contributor in Chiduko, Zimbabwe
University of Manchester
16 Apr 2008
The criminalisation of people who depend on cash and goods from their
relatives living abroad has forced almost half of Zimbabweans into extreme
ways of avoiding the clutches of ZANU-PF ‘cash barons’ according to a new
Researchers at the Universities of Manchester and Zimbabwe found that of the
50 per cent of households who receive ‘remittances’, between 90 and 95 per
cent use secretive means to bring in the desperately needed cash – risking
prison, confiscation or being forced to pay bribes.
The migrant workers’ measures - which includes secretively bringing goods on
foot from South Africa, or paying anonymous third parties from Britain - are
an effort to avoid the ZANU-PF Government controlled banks and money
changers where their assets are ‘disappeared’.
According to the study, most of the households are driven to find money
changers not linked to the Government – a high risk strategy which could end
in them loosing the cash or being threatened with prison if found out.
The study of 300 Zimbabwean urban households provides a stark snapshot of
how the country’s economic collapse has affected the everyday fight for
survival of its citizens, many of whom are mired in unemployment, sickness
Foreign currency must by law be exchanged into local currency and anyone
caught trading in dollars can be threatened with prison.
And anyone can be asked by police to produce a foreign currency receipt -
failure to do so can result in confiscation of cash or goods.
Dr Sarah Bracking from The University of Manchester, said: “Financial
meltdown in Zimbabwe means some people are getting rich quick while the
desperately poor are harassed and hounded by the government and other state
organisations into giving up their lifelines from abroad.
“Zimbabweans are forced into playing a criminalized game of ‘cat and mouse’
with the authorities over the possession of their own money.
“It is an economy of dispossession: members of the political class control
some informal sector money changers for their own gain, while money changing
is criminalized for everyone else.
“There are ‘cash barons’ at the heart of government: some banks are rumoured
to be owned by top officials within the ruling party.
“It’s an intolerable situation as households depend hugely on remittances
for their survival – and can explain why some people risk trading with
foreign currency at great enormous risk to themselves.
”It’s also appalling to think that this is happening to the many Zimbabweans
living in Britain who work and subsist on perhaps 60 hours of minimum wage a
week – mainly in care work- to keep their relatives alive.”
She added: “Though rarely confiscated outright, Zimbabwean banks convert
remittances into local currency so that the vast majority of the value of
the foreign exchange is lost.
“If that doesn’t happen, the banks periodically run out of money, or limit
daily withdrawals, so you have to queue for weeks.
“Senior Zanu PF members on the other hand are simply allocated foreign
currency which is converted from Zimdollars at sky high rates.
“Our small snapshot between November 2005 and November 2006 in the
remittance economy of Zimbabwe showed how the trust needed to facilitate
remote economic exchange is declining alarmingly.
“Because of the concerns over security, the families we spoke to were
increasingly unwilling to use remote, unknown, or institutional means of
money transfer or exchange.
“Informal sector commercial institutions were also less used in 2006 than
2005, while an increase in personal transit was observed.
“Together with the constant devaluation of Zimdollar receipts because of
Zimbabwe’s plummeting currency, it’s hard to imagine things getting much
April 16, 2008 12:00 PM
Giesecke & Devrient's bank notes are abetting Zimbabwe's financial crisis.
By Roger Bate
A company with links to a U.S. government contractor is enabling
Robert Mugabe despotic rule in Zimbabwe by printing bank notes. In the past
month, these increasingly worthless notes have been used to bribe officials
in the public sector, army, and other public-security services to curry
votes for the Mugabe regime.
In the weeks prior to the March 29 election, with Zimbabwe’s economy
collapsing and inflation already running at 100,000 percent, a German
company called Giesecke & Devrient (G&D) ran its printing presses at maximum
capacity, delivering 432,000 sheets of banknotes to Mugabe’s government each
week. The money, equivalent to nearly Z$173 trillion (U.S. $32 million), was
then dispersed among targeted voters.
Despite the Mugabe regime’s efforts — illegal as well legal —
independent observers say the opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) and its leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, won the election. But the Zimbabwe
Electoral Commission has not released the results. The MDC is fearful that
Mugabe is maneuvering to steal a potential run-off contest between the top
two candidates (which Zimbabwean law requires within 21 days of the original
election if no candidate receives 50 percent of the vote in the first
round), or may be tampering with the original vote to fabricate a majority
that will ensure his victory. In the meantime, his security services have
banned rallies, beaten up MDC politicians, briefly arrested two foreign
journalists, and forbidden any EU or U.S. election observers.
Mugabe has also used currency printed by G&D to pay thugs to squat on
some of the few white-owned farms remaining in the country. According to one
local I spoke with, Mugabe wants “to continue the myth that Northerners are
only interested in Zimbabwe because white farmers are being harmed.” As if
to demonstrate the point, at the same time that regional leaders met in
Zambia to discuss the crisis, a column in the Herald, Zimbabwe’s state-run
newspaper, decried the idea that “African leaders are supposed to do the
bidding of the white West. . . . to pressure Zimbabwe to abet the regime
G&D has directly contributed to a meltdown. According to the Sunday
Times of London, the company is receiving more than $750,000 a week from the
Mugabe regime “for delivering notes at the astonishing rate of Z$170
trillion a week.” Inflation caused by this reckless currency printing has
destroyed once-sustainable food markets and stymied business investment, and
has contributed to thousands of deaths a week from malnutrition and disease.
The black market value of the Zimbabwe dollar has dropped by 70 percent
against the U.S. dollar since the mass printing of bank notes began recently
(official exchange rates are now irrelevant).
The international community would just like the issue to disappear.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has taken a rhetorically strong stance
against the Mugabe regime, and has supported EU travel and banking sanctions
against its cronies. But her government says that G&D’s involvement in
Zimbabwe is a private matter.
While the U.S. government has placed effective sanctions on the leaders of
the regime in Harare, it is still contracting with G&D’s American affiliate
to provide security-card and banknote services. (The Treasury Department’s
latest contract with the company is worth $381,200). State Department
officials would only speak on background, but it appears that there is no
official policy or position on G&D. Since G&D America is an independently
listed U.S. business doing no business with Zimbabwe, it’s likely that
Treasury will take no action against the company. No one at G&D’s offices in
Dulles, Virginia, would answer the phone or return our messages.
Western complicity in Mugabe’s despotism is egregious, but African leaders
have been far worse. The weekend after an emergency meeting with Mugabe,
South African president Thabo Mbeki (who received shelter from Mugabe during
the dark days of apartheid), claimed that “there is no crisis in Zimbabwe,”
a theme that was repeated at a summit of the Southern African Development
Community (SADC). The summit, hosted by Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa,
started strongly by making the unprecedented move of inviting MDC leader
Tsvangirai to attend, widely seen as an acknowledgement that he had won the
election. (Mugabe decided not to attend.) But after 12 hours of
deliberation, stretching well into the early hours of Sunday, SADC’s
delegates scurried away, leaving Zambia’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Kabinga
Pande, to deliver a thin statement calling for a verification of election
results in the presence of candidates and observers. He claimed that both
parties had agreed that the election was free and fair and that there was no
MDC Secretary-General Tendai Biti flatly rejects this claim. At a press
conference shortly after the summit, he praised the SADC for having “the
guts” to hold the meeting at all, but said the crisis was far from resolved.
Indeed, the High Court of Zimbabwe has rejected an MDC appeal for the
government to publish results within the statutorily required two-week
window following the election (the window closed last Friday.) The Zimbabwe
Electoral Commission’s offer to hold a recount of the presidential and
parliamentary poll is not consistent with Zimbabwean law, which requires a
At the SADC Summit, former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan of Ghana warned
the leaders at the summit they had “a grave responsibility to act, not only
because of the negative spillover effects on the region, but also to ensure
that democracy, human rights and the rule of law are respected.” They can
hardly be said to have fulfilled that responsibility yet.
Until they do, G&D can encourage better practices in Zimbabwe by turning off
the currency spigot. As reported by SecureID News in 2008, G&D operated in
53 countries and had 2006 revenues totaling almost 1.3 billion euros, about
U.S.$1.9 billion. Its Zimbabwe revenue stream is tiny and according to at
least one government source, the company is well-respected internationally.
But it would do well to protect this reputation by doing the right thing and
cutting its ties to Mugabe and his thugs.
Of course, one could argue that G&D might actually be precipitating the
collapse of the Mugabe regime by driving up inflation and deepening Zimbabwe’s
financial crisis. One Zimbabwean economist suggested that inflation may now
be nearing 15,000 percent a month, which is destroying any sustainable
agricultural markets on which the poorest depend. Thousands die weekly as a
If G&D does not take action, the EU should. They should threaten to deny any
future contracts to companies providing direct services to the Mugabe
regime. It’s appalling, as MDC Shadow Justice Minister David Coltart told
me, “that a German company is profiting out of Zimbabweans’ despair,”
fueling inflation by printing dollars “which are then used to fund Mugabe’s
campaign of repression.”
— Roger Bate is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and
co-author of “Despotism and Disease,” a report on Zimbabwe.
Why the MDC leader has changed his mind
A spokesman for Morgan Tsvangirai and his party, the Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) said last night that the opposition leader will take part in a
run-off presidential election - but only if certain specific conditions are
These conditions, said George Sibotshiwe, are first, a secure and peaceful
environment in Zimbabwe, and second, rigorous international monitoring of
the voting itself, and of the subsequent count.
He repeated the MDC view that current conditions made a free and fair vote
impossible, and he called for the Southern African Development Community
(SADC), the association of heads of state in the region, to oversee every
stage of any new count.
The MDC believe that Tsvangirai won the election last month outright. The
results have still not been made public, despite a call yesterday by the
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon for the "very transparent and
expeditious release of election results."
Meanwhile British premier Gordon Brown is expected to raise the subject of
Zimbabwe on his current visit to the US. And in South Africa the ruling
African National Congress made a surprisingly strong comment, describing the
situation in the country as "dire".
Reports of the General Strike, which began yesterday and is intended to last
until the results of the presidential election are announced, were varied
To encourage people to ignore the strike call, the government provided
transport by bus at half fare in some parts of Harare. In the Warren Park
area of the capital a 72-seater bus was set on fire, but passengers were
asked to disembark first, and there were no injuries.
Police blamed this and other bus burnings on MDC activists. but an MDC
spokeman denied this, saying that Zanu-PF supporters were trying to tarnish
the image of the opposition.
There were also reports of sporadic violence, with police and riot troops
attacking people on the streets. MDC Secretary-General Tendai Biti said:
"The strike was peaceful until the police and the army started beating up
people. This shows that the regime is willing to bury democracy."
Biti claimed that violence by state militia in rural areas, especially in
those where voters showed strong support for the MDC in the elections, has
so far resulted in the death of two MDC activists, with another 200 people
Posted on Wednesday, 16 April 2008 at 05:26
International Herald Tribune
The Associated PressPublished: April 16, 2008
HARARE, Zimbabwe: A Zimbabwean judge has cleared two foreigners of charges
of reporting on the country's election without proper accreditation.
Magistrate Gloria Takundwa says the state failed to prove "reasonable
suspicion of them practicing as journalists." The New York Times
correspondent and a British man were arrested April 3. They have been free
on bail for more than a week but have not been allowed to leave the country
pending the court ruling.
It was not immediately clear if they received their passports following
their acquittals Wednesday.
A GROUP of Chinese soldiers caused a stir last night in the eastern
border city of Mutare as they patrolled the city centre along with
Zimbabwean security forces.
Wednesday 16 April 2008, by Bruce Sibanda
from our correspondent in Harare
About 20 Chinese soldiers all carrying revolvers, were part of a heavy
security deployment in the city centre as the oppostion strike "until
results are released’ was suppressed.
While the situation in the city was generally calm, as residents went about
their normal business during the day despite the call by the opposition to
stage a strike, policemen, all armed with AK rifles, teargas canisters and
baton sticks with some driving around in water canons, patrolled the poorer
residential areas of the city, residents there said.
Confirmation from the Hotel
The Chinese soldiers, along with about 70 Zimbabwean senior army officers
are booked in at the Holiday Inn, in the city centre.
“We were shocked to see Chinese soldiers in full military regalia and armed
with pistols checking into the hotel,” said a hotel employee. she said its
is strange for armed solders to be booked at hotels as there are many
barracks in Mutare. They are booked for a week, she said.
This comes amid widespread reports that incidence of violence targeting
opposition supporters is escalating in Manicaland Province.
This has prompting the MDC to make an urgent appeal for tents and relief
food supplies to assist hundreds of displaced people in the rural areas.
Patrick Chitaka, the MDC chairman in Manicaland Province, says the party
requires, as a matter of urgency thousands of tents, food packs and medical
supplies to assist thousands of MDC supporters who have been displaced in
Violence displaces over 1000
The MDC says about 200 people have been beaten up while more than 1000 have
been displaced by the violence.
“The violence has now spread throughout the province,” Chitaka said. “It’s a
disaster and that’s how the Darfur crisis started. We have reports of
systematic violence against our supporters.
Apart from beating up people they are now burning houses. We are going to
have thousands of internally displaced people if the situation is not
Chitaka spoke as ZimRights, a human rights watchdog, also raised concerns
over the spreading violence with MDC supporters as targets.
Reverend Stephen Maengamhuru, the ZimRights’ regional officer, said MDC
supporters were sleeping in the open in Chipinge and Mutare South because
they fear spending the night in their own homes.
The MDC and human rights organisations blame the violence on security agents
and members of the military who were angered by the reported loss of Mugabe
to the MDC leader, Morgan Tsvangirai.
“We now have a situation where people sleep out in the open because they
fear spending the night in their homes,” Rev Maengamhuru said.
The MDC, on the other hand, said violence had now spread to Chipinge,
Nyanga, Marange and the farming communities of Burma Valley, Mutasa South
MDC supporters arrested and their houses burned
The MDC chairman, Chitaka, said the most disturbing aspect was that the
police were arresting MDC supporters instead of protecting them. About 50
huts belonging to MDC supporters had been burned on a farm about 20 km west
of the city forcing 103 people to flee into the bush.
The MDC supporters fled from EnVant Farm after a war veteran identified as
Muniya set their huts on fire around 4 pm on Monday.
Some of the affected people have lived on the farm for up to 30 years. The
farm was allocated to Muniya, during the chaotic land reform programme in
2000. He allowed the farm-workers to stay on. But after he learnt last week
that the majority of the farm-workers people had voted for the MDC Muniya
visited retribution on them.
“There is a humanitarian disaster,” said MP elect for Mutasa South, Misheck
Kagurabadza. “Children and elderly people are sleeping out in the open. We
need blankets urgently and a place where they can stay for now.”
Chitaka said there were indications that the violence would soon target MDC
candidates who won the just-ended elections. Chitaka, himself, won the
Senate seat for Nyanga.
From The Star (SA), 16 April
More than 12 hours of intense and often bitter debate in Lusaka this weekend
appear to have divided the Southern African Development Community on the
Zimbabwe crisis, rather than bringing it closer to a solution to the
weeks-long electoral impasse. And it is a divide that has cast a sharp light
on the cracks in the 28-year-old community that separates a new progressive
front from the old guard. Rather than address the issue of how best to deal
with a man who refuses to relinquish three decades of power, the
conservative front of the 14-member bloc - Thabo Mbeki among them - appears
to have got lost instead in its fears of Morgan Tsvangirai, the head of the
trade-union-backed MDC, who, like it or not, has made massive inroads into
Zimbabwean politics. The SADC leaders closed the doors of their emergency
meeting shortly before 5pm on Saturday afternoon. And it was at 5.10am the
next morning when they emerged with a resolution in their hands that merely
called on Zimbabwe to hasten the verification and release of the March 29
presidential election results and appealed to all parties to accept the
verdict of their state-run electoral authority. In the event of a recount,
the SADC has offered to send its Election Observer Mission to monitor the
process. Yet there was no mention of the fact that the Zimbabwean Electoral
Commission was moved to a private location more than a week ago - hence
there is no knowing what became of the original votes, or indeed whatever
became of the 3-million extra ballot papers that were printed in the run-up
to the controversial election.
There was nothing in the disappointing document that reflected Zambian
President Levy Mwanawasa's promising remarks hours earlier when he told the
opening ceremony that standing by and doing nothing was no longer an option
where Zimbabwe was concerned. It was time to shed light on the darkness and
allow our neighbours to turn a new leaf, he said. Indeed, there was nothing
in the final document that ever veered too far away from Thabo Mbeki's own
stance of quiet diplomacy. With the exception of a call for an immediate
release of the results, it seemed to offer a verdict that our outgoing
president will no doubt read as a victory for himself, just as Robert Mugabe
has undoubtedly interpreted it as a weak effort on the part of his regional
peers to rein him in. The ink was hardly dry on the communique when the
Harare High Court ruled against the MDC's challenge to the delayed release
of the results. "It was the best we could do under the circumstances," SADC
executive secretary Tomaz Salamao told Independent Newspapers after the
meeting ended. Zambia's Foreign Minister Kabinga Pande said the SADC is of
the view that "there is no crisis" in Zimbabwe, echoing Mbeki's
controversial words from Harare on Saturday morning. If such is their view,
then it is clear that the SADC is not the power to turn to for crisis
management in the region. But it begs the question as to why they called an
emergency summit in the first place and what happened behind the scenes to
dampen Mwanawasa's earlier promise to speak up rather than stay quiet. "He
and many others did speak out," a delegate of the Mauritian team told
Independent Newspapers, "but the problem is that the voices of the new blood
are lost in the blanket of old conservatism."
Present on Saturday were eight heads of state, among them presidents from
Zambia, South Africa, Namibia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique,
Angola, Malawi and Botswana, whose recently elected Ian Khama is a newcomer
to the group. The remaining SADC countries of Tanzania, Lesotho, Swaziland,
Zimbabwe, Madagascar and Mauritius were represented by ministers or
ambassadors. No man was alone - they each brought with them an army of
advisers and officials. It is understood that Botswana, Malawi and Mauritius
had repeatedly pushed for a more hardened stance in dealing with the
84-year-old Mugabe. Khama has rarely been reticent in recent weeks in
speaking out about his support for Tsvangirai and his belief that the time
has come for change. On the other hand, Malawi is widely seen as a friend of
Simba Makoni, and if not a clear backer of Tsvangirai, Dr Bingu Wa Mutharika
shares Khama's view that Mugabe's term in office ended a long time ago.
The moderate voice of Mwanawasa often reflected their thinking throughout
the day and it was assumed that Tanzania would have followed suit.
Unfortunately in the absence of President Jakaya Kikwete, "the Tanzanians
said very little", one South African delegate said. They met with heavy
resistance from Mozambique's Armando Guebuza, Joseph Kabila of the DRC and
Hifikepunye Pohamba of Namibia throughout the day, and to the surprise of
many, Lesao Lehohla, the deputy prime minister of Lesotho, who stayed firmly
on the side of the Zimbabwean delegation. However, "the one who surprised us
most was Angola", according to one delegate from Malawi. "They went with the
flow all day and didn't put up any resistance." Although Jose Eduardo dos
Santos is widely seen as an ally of Mugabe - and who this time last year
offered to send troops to Zimbabwe in the wake of unrest - his position is
said to have changed dramatically in recent weeks and it is understood that
he, too, believes a change of leadership is in the best interests of the
region. However, as he goes into his own elections later this year, Dos
Santos is strategic in his positioning as he will be mindful not attract too
much attention to a hardline view at this point in time.
Yet all delegates repeatedly found themselves challenged by a number of
leaders, Mbeki among them, who are loathe to endorse a Tsvangirai presidency
for fear of trade unionism taking hold in the region, and who are equally
reluctant to stand up to or criticise veteran liberation icons. But their
positions were rarely tolerated by Mwanawasa and, for the first time, Mbeki
watched his seniority in the camp erode. A number of times throughout the
day he was taken to task by his Zambian counterpart, who is also the
chairperson of the SADC and who repeatedly appealed for honest brokerage
where Zimbabwe was concerned. On more than one occasion, he called on Mbeki
to be "sincere" in his approach. "Mbeki kept flip-flopping. He would argue
with one side, then with the other. But Mwanawasa wouldn't take it," a
member of the Angolan delegation explained. The Zambian leader had made it
clear from the onset that it was an emergency summit that required an urgent
response. He refused to accept Mugabe's input to the meeting, which came by
way of Mbeki. "If Robert Mugabe has anything to say to me as chairperson,
then he can talk to me himself," Mwanawasa retorted, reminding Mbeki that he
was creating the impression that he was becoming "Mugabe's messenger". The
two men all but came to blows later in the night when Mbeki showed
reluctance in allowing Tsvangirai to address the meeting, although it had
apparently been talked of in advance. Mwanawasa told him as much, reminding
the South African president that they had discussed it by phone a couple of
days before the summit. "Would you like the whole house to hear the contents
of our conversation?" he boldly asked an irate Mbeki, stopping short of
accusing him of peddling mistruths.
While it was clearly reasonable for many delegates to argue that Tsvangirai
could not be afforded equal status as SADC heads of state, it was agreed
that his input was crucial to understanding both sides of the saga, and it
was late on Saturday night when he and Simba Makoni finally addressed the
group, "in an informal meeting", Salamao was quick to note. It was Mutharika
of Malawi who reminded the house that "we don't need to take our
understanding of what's happening in Zimbabwe from CNN and international
news channels. We have a man next door who can explain it to us instead."
Tsvangirai was taken from the ante-room and during the hour-long session
reiterated his claims of recent weeks. It is understood that the DRC and
Mozambique told him that just because he had won the parliamentary
elections, it did not make him the winner of the presidential poll. It
presented Makoni with an opportunity to lay claim to his belief that he
would be an ideal candidate to lead a transitional government to move beyond
what he termed "a hung parliament". But it was Mbeki who reminded him that
it was both inconceivable and illegal to step up to the presidential podium
with just a tenth of the electorate behind him. Throughout the day, the
Zimbabwean delegates sought an opportunity to sway the SADC. "They painted a
complete picture, which we hadn't seen before," said JT Metsing, the
principal secretary of Lesotho's Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Zimbabwean
delegates claimed the MDC was strategically attempting to delay the release
of the results with their various court challenges. They argued that it was
improper for Tsvangirai to announce himself the presidential winner without
any legal basis to his argument, a line that found favour among many of the
They proceeded to tell the meeting that Tsvangirai's men had blatantly
falsified figures and stole votes in the MDC man's favour while they were
being telephoned through to Harare from the various polling stations. In
Mwanawasa's view, this was stretching their imagination just a tad too far.
The chairperson reminded his guests of his legal background and
understanding of how the vote counting had worked. He reiterated claims that
the events of recent weeks were not acceptable and he and Ian Khama began to
push hard for a communique that would condemn Zimbabwe first and foremost
before instructing the country on what to do next. They argued into the wee
hours that it was imperative that Mugabe understands that there is little
tolerance left in the region for his blatant disregard of democracy. They
accepted defeat at 5am in the morning. Condemnation would not feature on the
SADC communique. Although their reasoning is nowhere to be seen in the
four-page document, they have delivered an important message to their SADC
peers that the community is no longer a club of iconic liberation heroes of
SW Radio Africa (London)
16 April 2008
Posted to the web 16 April 2008
The high court on Wednesday again postponed by a day a hearing on the MDC's
application to block a recount of votes cast in 23 constituencies during
last month's elections.
The hearing is before Judge Antonia Guvava. The hearing was initially
deferred from Tuesday to Wednesday. Judge Guvava is expected to rule on
whether the MDC's legal team will be permitted to file supplementary
evidence, or whether the case should be dismissed.
The MDC represented by lawyer Selby Hwacha is insisting that the country's
amended electoral law Act says any aggrieved party can contest the outcome
within a period of 48 hours, but Zanu-PF lodged their request four days
after the final results were made public.
I have spent the last week in Zimbabwe talking to Diplomats, Politicians and
generally to people in the countryside. I have also looked at the electoral
counting and verification process which I believe cannot be rigged as the
results were all posted outside each polling station hours after closing the
polls. However, a Government set on maintaining power can ignore the results
and rule by force and that seems indeed what is evolving now.
In the election which took place two weeks ago, the MDC opposition clearly
won the parlimentary majority. The Presidential election was also won by the
opposition by a large margin. Had these elections been indeed free and fair
the margin of loss for ZANU-PF would have been substantially greater. No
announcements detailing results have been made. This delay has caused
· The general population I am talking to in the rural areas (formerly
President Mugabe’s strongholds) have had enough, and the delay of the
announcement has turned even ZANU-PF supporters away from the President as
all believe that he is rigging the results in the interim. The population’s
will to fight from here on is manifesting itself. They will fight back if
government suppression and intimidation will become the order of the day.
War veterans tried to invade our Conservancy last week only to find that the
MDC had mustered enough people to threaten to beat them off and the police
announcing that no violence would be permitted. The war veterans returned
home and their leader was forced to leave the town of Bikita. What a breath
of fresh air in our area in Zimbabwe’s Lowveld.
· SADC has declared the elections fair and free. Yes, the Election Day was
largely peaceful. But an election starts 6, 8 or even 12 months prior to
Election Day. SADC is ignoring that in the run up period Zimbabweans have
been subject to beatings, raping, murder, lack of food and medical support.
SADC is doing itself disfavour by declaring these elections free and fair.
SADC’s credibility must be close to non-existent with the average people of
Zimbabwe today. However, having sanctioned the process SADC can no longer
ignore the outcome. If they do, the perception may be that they want to keep
the loser in power. In this case SADC has failed the people of Zimbabwe.
· The South African Government has talked about “quiet diplomacy” for the
better part of seven years now. Nothing, absolutely nothing was achieved
other than making the lives of their northern neighbours progressively worse
to almost impossible today.
· As an investor in both countries I can state that the credibility of the
men and women in power in Pretoria is at an all-time low. Questions which
must be asked:
o Has the ANC alliance not fought for liberation and human rights against
the white dominated Apartheid area?
o If a black African Politician breaks all rules of democracy, law and order
and human rights, are his actions acceptable just because of his colour or
old relationships? Bishop Tutu continues to express the honest sentiments:”Whether
black or white, we must fight the oppressor and instill democracy and human
o The Government of South Africa appears willing to blatantly ignore
democratic values: as it is part of SADC, which certified the seriously
flawed elections to be fair and free. President Mbeki has been unable to
negotiate any cessation of violence or acceptable conditions for the run up
to the elections. He now states that Zimbabwe needs to be left alone to find
its own solution. Further, he has stated that “Zimbabwe has no crisis”. His
northern neighbor and the population at large see this as a betrayal of
their interests and basic needs. Hence, it is no wonder that the South
African Government has not been very popular in Zimbabwe for quite some
o The South African Government’s position is simply an embarrassment to
people who believe in democracy and human rights. When Zimbabwe’s people
need their neighbor most, South Africa is seen to be deserting them.
o This past weekend’s SADC meeting of Heads of State yielded no tangible
results to speak of. As I am writing this, so called war veterans are
deployed around the country to hunt down opposition voters. It is clear that
SADC has lost its credibility entirely with the local population. SADC has
condoned and even supported those in power against the interest of the
people on the ground. Even the affront of President Mugabe against his peers
in SADC by refusing to join the summit does not seem to steer Heads of State
away from supporting him. If loss of credibility does not, what will make
them take a stand on Zimbabwe? Bloodshed on a large scale maybe? We appear
to be heading in that direction rapidly. For SADC to gain credibility in
Zimbabwe again it is going to be diffifcult, if not impossible.
· The African Union has not been heard from to date. Hence, they too appear
to condone what has happened in Zimbabwe. Surely they too have a serious
credibility issue to deal with here?
The Government in Zimbabwe has ordered a partial recount of votes in spite
of the fact that the High Court ruled against. Ignoring High Court rulings
have been a long standing habit of the current administration. No foreign
observers are present, neither is the opposition. The ballot boxes have been
in the ruling party’s hands for over two weeks. Nobody believes that this
recount is not done with serious fraud in mind. The results of the original
election were signed by observers and posted directly outside each polling
station. They document the correct and approved result and such posters have
been photographed and cannot be tempered with. Any changes to these posted
numbers are fraud.
As a business man who has invested in the region, I find the behaviour of
the South African Government, SADC and the AU disheartening. Gradually an
air of distrust has been created which affects the approach of foreign
businessmen severely. Losing trust translates into the perception of
increased risks. Add to that the lack of dependable vital services such as
power, water, telecommunication and safety from crime and one finds a
seriously flawed investment climate. This will show in the lack of long term
projects for the future, desire for shorter payback times and higher profit
expectations. As a direct consequence, the region will unable to put its
aggressive employment and economic growth plans into effect.
Credibility is a direct stimulant of investment and economic performance.
The lack of credibility has the opposite affect. Southern African Leaders
need to make hard decisions soon. I have seen none, hence I am writing about
the concerns of many I speak to.
14:14 GMT, Wednesday, 16 April 2008 15:14 UK
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From ZWNEWS. 16 April
Politics and the Generals
Zuma widens gap with Mbeki over Zimbabwe