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MDC: There is a 'war' being waged in Zim

Mail and Guardian

Aderogba Obisesan | Johannesburg, South Africa

20 April 2008 03:16

Zimbabwe's opposition on Sunday accused the authorities of
waging a "war" that has killed 10 people and injured 500 others since
disputed parliamentary and presidential elections.

"Ten people have so far been killed in Zimbabwe since
March 29. The situation in Zimbabwe is desperate," Tendai Biti, secretary
general of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), told reporters in
Johannesburg.

Biti said hundreds of homes had been burnt and 3 000
families been displaced in election-related violence. He also said that more
than 400 MDC activists had been detained since the vote.

A Zimbabwean police spokesperson could not immediately be
reached for comment.

"There is a war in Zimbabwe being waged by [President
Robert] Mugabe's regime against the people. The regime has unleashed
violence on the people," Biti said, appealing for foreign intervention in
the crisis.

He alleged that the 84-year-old Mugabe, a former guerrilla
leader and hero of the national war of liberation, was now suffering from
"senile dementia" and was "completely dislocated from reality".

The parliamentary and presidential elections, both held on
the same day, have racked up tensions between the opposition and the regime
in Zimbabwe, which is already gripped by a grave economic crisis.

Opposition campaigners earlier said two people had been
killed in violence linked to the elections and a lawyer for the MDC said on
Sunday that at least 75 activists were currently in detention.

Several international human rights groups have accused the
authorities of organised violence. New York-based Human Rights Watch on
Saturday said opposition supporters were being rounded up and tortured in
special camps.

The MDC officially scored an historic victory in the
parliamentary elections, taking the majority from Mugabe's Zanu-PF for the
first time since independence in 1980.

The MDC says that its leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, also won
a presidential vote against Mugabe. The official results of the presidential
vote have still not been released.

The international community has urged Zimbabwe to issue
the results.

Electoral authorities have ordered a recount of ballots
for both the parliamentary and the presidential votes in 23 out of 210
constituencies -- most of them won by the MDC.

'Shameful'
Officials said on Sunday that the recount could take
longer than the three days originally forecast. The MDC has said it could
take six days and has refused to recognise the result, which could hand
victory back to Zanu-PF.

Biti said the recount was "illegitimate" and "shameful",
adding: "The dictatorship will do everything, legally and extra-legally, to
try to reverse the people's electoral victory of March 29."

South African dockworkers this week refused to unload a
Chinese ship carrying arms destined for Zimbabwe and a South African court
barred its cargo from being transported overland to the border.

The ship, believed to be carrying rocket-propelled
grenades, mortar rounds and assault rifle ammunition, was now due to unload
its cargo in Angola, CNN reported on Saturday.

Meanwhile, amid mounting regional concern about
instability and bloodshed, the 53-member African Union on Sunday urged
Zimbabwe to release the election results immediately, and called for
restraint from all parties.

African leaders have come under international pressure to
take strong action to help resolve the crisis in Zimbabwe, a once-prosperous
country whose economy is in ruins, beset with rampant inflation and mass
unemployment.

"The African Union wishes to express its concern over the
delay observed in the announcement of Zimbabwe's election results, which
creates an atmosphere of tension," the AU said.

"The African Union therefore urges competent authorities
of the Republic of Zimbabwe to announce the results without any further
delay, in transparency, thus contributing, inter alia, to reducing the
prevailing tension." -- AFP, Reuters


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Mugabe's plot exposed

IOL

††† April 20 2008 at 12:06PM

By Peta Thornycroft

Harare - Details of a widespread brutal campaign by the military to
keep President Robert Mugabe in power have been revealed to The Sunday
Independent.

Central to the plot are hundreds of "command centres", led by war
veterans and youths in police uniform, which are being established across
Zimbabwe to wage a national terror campaign.

Zimbabwe's top military authority, the Joint Operational Command, made
up of service chiefs, has established a chain of command to ensure that
Mugabe and Zanu-PF remain in office even though they both lost the elections
three weeks ago.

The command centres are waging a campaign of intimidation, violence
and ballot rigging. In this way, the regime plans to guarantee victory for
Mugabe in a second round of presidential elections.

The network will probably not cover the cities, all strongholds of
Morgan Tsvangirai, the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
leader. Instead, they will be concentrated in the rural areas where 70
percent of Zimbabweans live.

Three weeks after the poll's first round, no official results have
been announced, but the regime has publicly acknowledged that Mugabe fell
short of the 50 percent threshold needed to avoid a run-off.

A senior army officer and a police chief described the president's
re-election plan to The Sunday Independent. They attended a meeting in a
rural province on Monday morning. It included traditional chiefs and local
politicians and was addressed by two senior members of Mugabe's regime.

They said each command centre would consist of three police officers,
a soldier and a war veteran who would be in charge. They would dispatch
militias, comprising war veterans and members of the Zanu-PF's youth wing,
to assault and torture known opposition supporters. They would also control
the local police to ensure that the militias were immune from arrest.

The generals have called on the four security services - army, police,
intelligence and prisons - to ensure that people are terrorised into voting
for Mugabe in the expected re-run of the presidential poll.

The results of that poll have still not been released, arousing
suspicions of vote-rigging and provoking growing domestic and international
pressure on Zimbabwe's authorities.

The victor has to win 50 percent plus one vote of the votes cast or
face a re-run. The result, when it is finally announced, cannot be
recounted, according to the Electoral Act.

The Sunday Independent has heard evidence that the announcement of the
results has been postponed deliberately to allow Mugabe's government to
falsify votes to close the gap between him and Tsvangirai.

Tsvangirai is widely believed to have won the election with about 49
to 51 percent of the vote, against Mugabe's 42 or 43 percent. Independent
candidate Simba Makoni won the rest.

Mugabe's strategy appears to be to close the gap so that his rigged
victory in the expected run-off election will be more credible.

Apart from doctoring the presidential votes, Mugabe's officials have
also needed the delay to replace votes cast for MDC candidates in the
parliamentary poll on the same day to try to ensure that the rigging cannot
not be detected, according to sources.

All the results for the four elections - parliamentary, senate, local
government and presidential - that took place on March 29 were posted
outside more than 8 000 polling stations by midnight April 1.

Zanu-PF narrowly lost its parliamentary majority to the MDC and the
presidential results had to be transferred to Harare for collation.

Generals who report directly to the Joint Operational Command have
explained in a series of closed meetings how people will be terrorised and
beaten into voting for Mugabe in a re-run.

The details released by our two informants were from one of the
planning sessions. They rushed to Harare from a remote rural area this week
to reveal the plan. They disclosed the names, ranks and even the cellphone
numbers of those people from one province who have been ordered to join the
campaign.

Wilfred Mhanda, one of Mugabe's senior commanders from the 1970s war
against white Rhodesia, said yesterday: "The report you have shown me is
true. What is explained in the report is typical of what is already
happening in various parts of the country, and those who know Zanu-PF as I
do will not be surprised. What worries me is there seems to be no way out of
where we are going."

The scores of names in the report - several familiar to many
Zimbabweans who have been victimised for their political beliefs - and the
province where the meeting took place cannot be identified to protect the
identity of the two men.

A senior politician told security personnel at one provincial meeting:
"You have to defend the revolution. If you don't and [it] is sold through
the ballot, we will go back to the bush and fight. Is that what you want? I
don't think so."

Select groups have been told how victory for Mugabe will be achieved
in the run-off and in the recount of 23 constituencies, which the partisan
Zimbabwe Election Commission began on Saturday. State media said the results
on the recount were expected in a few days.

According to reliable sources, sealed ballot boxes have been opened
and new seals have been forged. Votes for the MDC have been taken out and
replaced by votes for Zanu-PF.

It has been done so carefully that no one will be able to detect the
fraud - the bogus votes have the same numbers as those issued to voters on
polling day and the number of votes in each box has been carefully
reproduced. Also new pale-blue forms, V11, which were posted outside polling
stations with results of the four elections, have been recreated with forged
signatures of the polling agents and different tallies, favouring both
Zanu-PF in the parliamentary contest and Mugabe in the presidential poll.

Chiara Carter reports that the campaign of terror was verified
yesterday in a report by the Human Rights Watch organisation, which said
Zanu-PF was using a network of informal detention centres to beat, torture
and intimidate opposition activists and ordinary Zimbabweans.

A statement issued on Saturday provided a chilling account of
systematic intimidation and violence, including the abduction and savage
beating of opposition supporters in several areas. In the past two days,
researchers interviewed more than 30 people who had been tortured and,
because of it, sustained serious injuries, including broken limbs.

Human Rights Watch, a respected non-governmental group that monitors
human rights across the globe, called on the African Union to step in
immediately to address the crisis and protect civilians.

The organisation said its researchers had heard from victims and
eyewitnesses that, in the wake of last month's election, Zanu-PF had set up
detention centres in the opposition constituencies of Mutoko North, Mutoko
South and Mudzi in the province of Mashonaland East, and in Bikita West in
Masvingo. Opposition supporters were being tortured at these camps.

The organisation said Zanu-PF officials were calling the crackdown
Operation Makavhoterapapi ("Where did you put your cross?"). The aim
appeared to be twofold: to punish people for having voted for the MDC, and
to intimidate them to vote for Zanu-PF in the event of a presidential
run-off.

One victim told Human Rights Watch: "They told me, 'next time you will
vote wisely; now you know what we can do'." - Foreign Service

This article was originally published on page 1 of Sunday Independent
on April 20, 2008


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Zimbabwe’s MDC steps up call for regional help

Financial Times

By Tony Hawkins in Harare and Alec Russell in Johannesburg

Published: April 20 2008 18:41 | Last updated: April 20 2008 18:41

Zimbabwe’s opposition party stepped up its diplomatic campaign over the
weekend to urge African leaders to intervene in the crisis over the country’s
disputed elections amid new evidence of a wave of intimidation of its
activists by supporters of Robert Mugabe’s ruling party.

As officials in Zimbabwe gave warning that a partial recount of the votes of
the March 29th election could drag on for most of the week, Tendai Biti, the
secretary-general of the Movement for Democratic Change, said 400 party
activists had been arrested since last month’s election, while about 500 had
been taken to hospital for treatment.

“As we sit here hundreds of huts and houses are being burned and the case of
internal refugees has developed,” he said.
The MDC said 10 of its members had been killed by state-sponsored militia
and supporters of the ruling Zanu-PF party since the election.

The death toll has not been confirmed but the party’s accounts of repression
are backed by dozens of eyewitness reports and also by independent detailed
surveys by human rights groups. The violence has intensified the diplomatic
pressure on regional and African leaders to be more confrontational towards
Mr Mugabe after a regional summit 10 days ago closed with what was widely
seen as the most tepid of rebukes.

The African Union made its most forceful comments yet, urging the
authorities to release the election results immediately.

Frustrated by the quiescent stance of South Africa, the region’s dominant
power, senior MDC officials are fanning out across the continent, hoping to
prompt other African governments to take the lead in putting pressure on the
Zimbabwean president and even to persuade Kofi Annan, former UN
secretary-general, to lead a mediating mission as he did in Kenya in its
election dispute this year.

The authorities on Sunday signalled they were seeking to spend as long as
possible over the recount of the votes in 23 constituencies. The recount
started on Saturday but Utoile Silaigwana, deputy chief election officer of
the state-appointed Zimbabwe Election Commission said that because of delays
the process would probably take longer than expected.

“I am not sure the results will be available after three days as initially
indicated. It might be more than that,” he said. One diplomat said on Sunday
eyewitnesses had reported scenes of chaos and confusion in the main recount
centre.


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Desperate stories



by Peta Thornycroft
Harare

“We ran into the forest and saw about 50 people burning our house down and
taking all our things. My father was a candidate and he told us to run away
and he ran away to another place,” said Chingatayi Chimomo.

He is 13, seems small and frail for his age, and is unhurt but a refugee and
separated from his parents far from his home which is about 260 km north
east of Zimbabwe, close to the border with Mozambique.

His father, John was the Movement for Democratic Change parliamentary
candidate in remote Pfungwe-Maramba on March 29.

Ten days after Zanu PF discovered it had lost its parliamentary majority for
the first time since independence in 1980, the violence against the Movement
for Democratic Change began, especially in President Robert Mugabe’s
strongholds where his popularity has slumped dramatically.

“My father got a rumour and so he told us he must run away and told us to go
to the forest. It was midnight a lot of people came, maybe 50, lots of
youth, and two had guns, and they put fire and broke everything and they
took all our property.

“My father knows I am here but I don’t know when we will go home. There is
nothing left at home.”

Nelson Chamisa, spokesman for the MDC in Harare sounded desperate yesterday
when he said there could be 3 000 internal refugees driven out of their
homes and hundreds injured.

“The punishment for people is terrible. Zanu PF have seen their influence is
going.

‘We have 800 elected local government councillors now and they are sending
in information all the time to our welfare department.

“ We believe four people are confirmed dead, killed by Zanu PF but we think
it could be as many as 10 and many hundred wounded,” he said yesterday.

Chingatayi Chimomo was safe yesterday in a private hospital and staff† haven’t
the heart to send him away although its wards are overflowing with victims
of Mr Mugabe’s thugs, mostly Zanu PF youth militia, soldiers and men who
claim to have fought in the 1970’s liberation war.

“I am a carpenter, mostly making coffins which is the best job these days.
I joined the MDC at the beginning in 1999. Now MDC is very popular,” said
Clever Sinoro, 32, who narrowly lost election as the local councillor in a
village near Mutoko about 160 km north east of Harare.

“They came at 9 at night on April 14, and shouted,† ‘you support MDC and we
are going to kill you because you re bringing the west back, you are voting
for our farms.”

When the mob had finished beating people and burning houses down, he crawled
and limped through the bush on the the longest walk of his life,† 10 miles
to the nearest bus stop and waited hours in agony for a ride to Harare and
the MDC’s headquarters in the city centre.

Tafadzwa Chinogure, 32 was attacked in his village near Mudzi, about three
hours north† east of Harare. He was beaten along with most of his 40
neighbours last week.

†“They took 11 bags of ground nuts, all my ground nuts, all my clothes. They
beat my wife too and she is here in hospital. The children, Knowledge and
Rosemary are with the grandmother at home.

“I supported MDC, but I was quiet about it, everyone in the village supports
MDC but they say they are Zanu PF because they are afraid.

“The Zanu PF councillor David Kanjere was there beating us, he had a gun,
and then it was two old men, who said they are war veterans and Zanu PF
youth.”

Another man, aged 26, was too weak to tell his story. He said he could he
was in too much pain to sit up. He came from the same north eastern part of
Zimbabwe and† had always voted for Zanu PF until this election.

†“I changed because of the hardship of life now,” he said. “I used to think
Zanu Pf was my party, but now they hurt me,” and he groaned and told his
brother he could not eat his lunch.

One woman in hospital and unable to sit properly as her buttocks have been
beaten raw said: “Take my photograph and write my name, I am not afraid. You
must please tell the world the names of the people who tried to kill us.:
Joe Bvidzawabuya, Clement Murambidzi, David Kanjere, Erica Chikwizo, Stella
Ngwembei, Marge Katsande. Have you got their names? ” she said.

Senior police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena said yesterday: “I am off duty.
There is no one else on duty today, and I will comment tomorrow.”

Long serving health minister David Parirenyatwa, elected to parliament for
Murewha, near the heart of the storm of violence in Mashonaland East
province did not answer his mobile yesterday.

SMS questions were sent to him as well as home affairs minister Kembo
Mohadi, security Minster Didymus Mutasa and Zanu PF election boss, Elliot
Manyika asking for comment about the terrible violence suffered by
opposition supporters since the election.

Results for the presidential poll have not been released but Mugabe lost by
at least 8 percent to MDC president Morgan Tsvangirai according to
statistics provided by independent pollsters.

ends


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Zanu-PF 'creating ballot papers'

News24

20/04/2008 20:22† - (SA)

Harare - Zimbabwe resembles a war-zone, with thousands of people displaced,
hundreds injured and 10 killed by post-election violence, an opposition
leader said on Sunday as he appealed for international intervention.

Tendai Biti, secretary-general of the Movement for Democratic Change, said
violence since March 29 elections had forced 3 000 families out of their
homes. Hundreds of people had been hospitalised with injuries and 10 people
killed, he said.

Biti said humanitarian agencies present in Zimbabwe must be mobilised.

"They should move as a matter of urgency. They should move because Zimbabwe
is a war zone," he told a news conference in Johannesburg.

He said key members of the opposition's administration had been arrested.

"We are not able to function because of those arrests," he said. Biti and
MDC president Morgan Tsvangirai say they cannot return to Zimbabwe as they
face immediate arrest.

Recount

Electoral officials on Saturday began recounting ballots for a few dozen
legislative seats being challenged - an exercise that could overturn the
opposition's majority win. Most of the seats being recounted were declared
for opposition candidates, including in Mugabe's home district of Zvimba.

Biti said the recount was rigged and the ruling Zanu-PF had tampered with
tally sheets and ballot boxes.

"They created fresh ballot papers," he said. "It is quite clear the
dictatorship will do everything ... to try to reverse the people's victory."

State-owned Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corp said the full recount would take up
to three days. The opposition said this was yet another ploy to delay the
publication of the presidential results.

Biti said Mugabe was desperate.

"He can delay... but he will go," Biti said. "He hasn't stolen this
election. We are still fighting."

Torture and violence

The opposition released a detailed list of its supporters who had been
injured and killed since the elections. Many had their homes destroyed by
ruling party thugs and youth militias, it said. It said a feared government
minister, Didymus Mutasa, and army chiefs were involved in instigating the
violence and training militias.

New York-based Human Rights Watch said Saturday that "torture and violence
are surging in Zimbabwe".

The ruling party, it said, was setting up "torture camps to systematically
target, beat and torture people suspected of having voted for the MDC in
last month's elections."

International pressure on Mugabe to release the election results continues
to mount.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was expected to discuss the Zimbabwe crisis
with other African leaders on the sidelines of a five-day UN trade meeting
which opened Sunday in Ghana.

Tsvangirai, who is trying to muster more diplomatic support in Africa, was
due to travel to Nigeria and then Ghana and hoped to meet Ban.

'Where are the Africans?'

Former UN chief Kofi Annan, himself an African who recently helped broker a
peace deal after Kenya's contested elections, on Saturday questioned whether
leaders on the continent were doing enough to help Zimbabwe resolve what he
called "a rather dangerous situation".

"Where are the Africans? Where are the leaders and the countries in the
region? What are they doing? How can they help resolve the situation?" he
told journalists in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.

"It's a serious crisis that will impact beyond Zimbabwe and we do have a
responsibility to work with them to find a viable solution," said Annan, who
met with Biti on Friday.


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Zimbabwe electoral officials say results will take three more days

Monsters and Critics
Zimbabwean soldiers patrol the streets of Glen View, Harare, Zimbabwe, 17 April 2008. The government has ordered the army and police in most of the MDC strongholds in the capital as the national still waits for the final presidential results to be officially announced.  EPA/STR

Zimbabwean soldiers patrol the streets of Glen View, Harare, Zimbabwe, 17 April 2008. The government has ordered the army and police in most of the MDC strongholds in the capital as the national still waits for the final presidential results to be officially announced. EPA/STR

Apr 20, 2008, 12:37 GMT

Harare/Johannesburg - The Zimbabwean Electoral Commission (ZEC) announced Sunday that there would be a further three-day delay in the release of results from last month's elections amid reports of brutal intimidation of opposition supporters.

A recount of votes from last month's Zimbabwean elections, in which opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party leader Morgan Tsvangirai is claiming victory over incumbent President Robert Mugabe, started Saturday.

The spokesperson for the state-controlled commission, Utoile Silaigwana, said that a recount would take up to three days longer than previously indicated.

'It seems we have to revise that since in some centres - the actual recount started late as officers wanted to verify first. It took a lot of time and they started late (to do the recounting). So one can count out Saturday. It is likely to take more than three days in most areas.'

MDC General Secretary Tendai Biti urged the international community to take action to help resolve the crisis.

'I call on the international community and the humanitarian agencies - especially the Red Cross - to intervene. There is a war in Zimbabwe,' he said, speaking at a press briefing Sunday.

Biti said 3,000 families had been displaced in Zimbabwe up to Saturday. At least 400 MDC activists had been arrested, amongst them key administrative staff.

By Saturday, 500 people had been hospitalized and in every province, people had been forced to flee, he said.

'We are now being forced to be the Red Cross,' he added.

Biti claimed that 10 people had been killed since the election and accused Magabe's party, Zanu-PF, of 'deliberately' starving some parts of the population.

He also said that MDC officials had observed the recount and in eight constituencies, the ballot boxes were opened and not sealed.

The recount is of votes cast in 23 out of 210 constituencies nationwide, for president, the lower house of parliament (House of Assembly), Senate and local councils.

Tsvangirai's MDC won the March 29 House of Assembly vote but the official results of the presidential election held the same day have been withheld, causing consternation in Zimbabwe and abroad.

Tsvangirai claims he is the president-elect. Zanu-PF says neither Tsvangirai nor Mugabe won outright and that a runoff is required. An independent electoral observation NGO also estimated neither took more than 50 per cent, but put Tsvangirai very close.

The MDC vehemently opposed the recount, saying the presidential results should first be announced and that a recount of the parliamentary seats should have been requested within 48 hours of the election - but the High Court dismissed its objections.

In the House of Assembly the MDC took 109 seats to Zanu-PF's 97. Of the 23 seats being recounted the MDC won 21. If Zanu-PF regains nine of those it will win back parliament.

The presidential recount is expected to support Zanu-PF's call for a runoff but it was unclear whether the MDC would participate.

Tsvangirai has swung between rejecting a second round and saying he would partake, if international observers were present to ensure it was free and fair.

In the absence of any intervention from South African President Thabo Mbeki, former United Nations secretary general Kofi Annan has called on African nations to get more involved to help resolve the impasse in Zimbabwe and warned that the crisis could have an impact beyond Zimbabwe.

'The question which has been posed is: Where are the Africans? Where are their leaders and the countries in the region, what are they doing?

'It is a rather dangerous situation. It's a serious crisis with impact beyond Zimbabwe.'

Kenya's new Prime Minister Raila Odinga appealed for African countries to act with speed to resolve the crisis in Zimbabwe, reports said Sunday.

The Daily Nation newspaper quoted Odinga as saying that the 'age of dictators was long gone' and that Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe should not interfere with the release of election results which have been withheld for three weeks.

'I sympathise with the people of Zimbabwe and I will play a key role in letting him unite his people. African heads of state should use force if necessary to remove people like Mugabe from power, especially those who do not want to respect the people's decision through the ballot,' he said.


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Zimbabwe: African Union acts but 10 now dead

The Times
April 20, 2008

Zimbabwe's opposition revealed 10 of its supporters have now been killed
with 400 arrested and 500 injured in President Mugabe's post-election
clampdown.

As a further delay was announced in the recounting of votes cast over three
weeks ago fears grew that an attempt is being made to overturn the results
of the parliamentary election, which showed ZANU-PF losing its majority to
the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) for the first time.

Results of the parallel presidential election have not been released, but
MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai says he has won.

Amid mounting concern about the instability and bloodshed, the 53-member
African Union urged Zimbabwe to release the election results immediately and
called for restraint from all parties.

An AU statement said: “The African Union wishes to express its concern over
the delay observed in the announcement of Zimbabwe’s election results, which
creates an atmosphere of tension.
“The African Union therefore urges competent authorities of the Republic of
Zimbabwe to announce the results without any further delay, in transparency,
thus contributing, inter alia, to reducing the prevailing tension.”

The statement represents the first coordinated pressure from African states
to push for a resolution to the crisis.

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said he would discuss Zimbabwe
with African leaders at a UN trade and development conference in Ghana which
starts on Sunday.

MDC Secretary General Tendai Biti told a news conference in Johannesburg
that 400 party activists had been arrested since the elections, 500 had been
taken to hospital with injuries, and 3,000 families had been forced from
their homes.

“As we sit here, hundreds of huts and houses are being burned,” he said,
adding people were going hungry. The situation is desperate.”

Mr Biti said Tsvangirai would fly to Ghana on Sunday as part of efforts to
garner support

“The leaders in Africa must act,” he said.

Despite the international pressure on Zimbabwe Utoile Silaigwana, the
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission’s deputy chief election officer, said the
recount in 23 of 210 constituencies, which began on Saturday, would take
longer than expected.

“There were some delays yesterday and I am not sure the results will be
available after three days as initially indicated. It might be more than
that,” he said.


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African Union urges release of Zimbabwe vote result

Reuters

Sun 20 Apr 2008, 11:15 GMT

By Tsegaye Tadesse

ADDIS ABABA, April 20 - The African Union urged Zimbabwe on Sunday to
release results of its disputed March 29 elections immediately, to ease
tensions that many fear may trigger bloodshed and deepen economic despair.

The 53-member body also called on all Zimbabwean parties to show restraint
pending the announcement of the results in a statement issued a day after
the authorities began a partial recount of the votes, despite opposition
efforts to block it.

International pressure has been mounting on African leaders to take more
decisive action to help end the political stalemate in Zimbabwe. African
reaction has been muted overall.

"The African Union wishes to express its concern over the delay observed in
the announcement of Zimbabwe's election results, which creates an atmosphere
of tension," the AU said.

"The African Union therefore urges competent authorities of the Republic of
Zimbabwe to announce the results without any further delay, in transparency,
thus contributing, inter alia, to reducing the prevailing tension."

Opposition supporters fear a recount in 23 of 210 constituencies that
started on Saturday could overturn the results of the parliamentary
election, which showed President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF losing its majority
to the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) for the first time.

The West and MDC have raised concerns that Mugabe, who has been in power
since independence in 1980, is trying to rig the results. The MDC says it
will not accept the recount.

In Mauritius, where the 14-nation Southern African Development Community
(SADC) is holding a summit on poverty and development, a SADC official said
the bloc was unlikely to make a statement on Zimbabwe, saying the meeting
was not convened to discuss political issues.

Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg told the summit Nordic nations
were ready to launch a "major stabilisation and reconstruction package when
democracy is fully restored and a credible national economic policy is in
place."

Opponents accuse Mugabe of ruining his country, which was once the envy of
the region, where economic collapse and inflation of about 165,000 percent
have led to water, food and fuel shortages, as well as 80 percent
unemployment.

(Additional reporting by Ed Harris in Port Louis; Writing by Katie Nguyen;
Editing by Charles Dick)


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SADC still 'evades' Zimbabwe issue

SABC

April 20, 2008, 16:45

In spite of a lambasting by the former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan
yesterday, SADC's keeping a low profile on Zimbabwe. In his opening address
SADC Chairperson Levy Mwanawasa stayed clear of the topic, focusing on food
prices.

The summit in Mauritius ended today with a call for the revision of all
member-countries' policies on poverty eradication.

Speakers from SADC focused attention on soaring food prices. But the
international guests reminded SADC leaders of the long term impact an
unstable Zimbabwe will have on their goals. The situation in that country
will almost certainly have a negative impact on the regional attempt to
fight poverty.

"You are better placed to solve this situation and you have to do something
about Zimbabwe," says EU Commissioner Louis Michel.

Solution possible
While Zimbabwe wasn't on the agenda, on the sideline SADC leaders were still
confident that a solution can be found. "If you look at what President Mbeki
has achieved over time, it'll be unfair to say he must recuse himself," says
Lesotho foreign affairs minister Kenneth Tsekoa.

"Indeed there are people who have made their own conclusions on what should
happen in Zimbabwe but should not be blamed on the mediation," says Namibia
Foreign Affairs Minister Marco Hausiku.

Soaring food prices dominated the discussions and there's concern that if
left unattended, they will have a negative impact on the SADC Millenium
Goals.

It was decided that a committee to monitor the process of poverty
eradication, will be established with immediate effect.

The SADC countries will have to ensure that the agreements reached are
implemented and monitoring mechanisms will be key.


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Is the UN finally getting involved?

Zimbabwe Today

Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon promises talks at UN summit

Hopes for more international pressure on Mugabe and his government grew this
weekend with a statement by Mr. Ban, Secretary General of the UN, to the
effect that he will hold talks with a number of African rulers on Zimbabwe
during a forthcoming UN summit in Ghana. He said the aim would be to "get
developments there back to normal."

He was speaking only hours after his predecessor, Kofi Annan, urged African
leaders to do more to address the crisis in our country. "Where are the
Africans?" he asked. "Where are their leaders and the countries in the
region, what are they doing?"

Meanwhile most observers are still wondering what Mugabe's government is
doing, apart of course from conducting the farcical and hopelessly flawed
partial "recount" of certain constituency polls.

I can reveal one of their other schemes which, if successful, will sideline
the MDC's Morgan Tsvangirai, render his presidential election victory null
and void, and allow Mugabe to be voted back as president against an
acceptable degree of opposition.

I first wrote about this plan on this site in the early days of the election
crisis. Regular readers will remember that it concerns two apparent would-be
presidential candidates who were not able to file their nomination papers as
candidates by the cut-off time on nomination day.

The two men are Daniel Shumba and Justin Chiota. Both claim they were
unfairly denied a chance to stand as presidential candidates. The reasons
given for their lack of success have all the clumsy hallmarks of a Zanu-PF
plot.

Chiota claims that he arrived at the nomination court in sufficient time on
nomination day, to be told that his papers were soiled and could not be
accepted. He was advised that he could fill in new papers, and as he was
present at the court they would be accepted even after the 4.0pm deadline.

Shumba says that he arrived at the court with 15 minutes to spare, but was
advised to wait until Chiota had finished his papers, so that both could be
accepted together. However, when the pair eventually tried to submit their
papers, the constituency registar Ignatius Mushangwe told them they were
both too late.

They appealed this decision, and subsequently - and surprisingly - the
Nominations Court refused the appeal. However, the case then went to the
Supreme Court, which agreed that there was a prima facie case. A ten-judge
bench is now due to consider the case.

What has all this got to do with the contest between Mugabe and Tsvangirai?
Just this. If the Supreme Court finds that Shumba and Chiota were unfairly
denied their right to stand as presidential candidates, the March 29 vote
will be nullified. So there will be a complete re-run of the presidential
election, not a run-off. And although Supreme Court judges can be sticky
when pushed, it is thought that Zanu-PF will be able to persuade them to
come to exactly that decision.

Morgan Tsvangirai, having clearly had enough of vote rigging and
double-dealing, is unlikely to change his decision and run again.

But Mugabe will still be seen to be running against "opposition", consisting
probably of Simba Makoni, thought to have won about five per cent of the
first vote, and of course Mr. Shumba and Mr. Chiota. International observers
may think Mr. Mugabe has done well when he defeats his three opponents.

We in Zimbabwe know better. And we also know now, if we didn't before,
exactly how crafty our venerable leader can be.

Posted on Sunday, 20 April 2008 at 10:45


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'Observers left Zim too soon'

IOL

††††April 20 2008 at 05:58PM

By Fred Kockott

Tapiwa Mubwanda - a 55-year-old election agent and organiser for
Zimbabwe's Movement of Democratic Change - might not have been murdered had
foreign and regional election observers not pulled out of Zimbabwe
prematurely.

This is the verdict of various Zimbabwe civic leaders, who are calling
for urgent deployment of international, regional and local peace monitors to
ensure the safety of people in Zimbabwe until a new government is properly
installed, as elected through the polls on March 29.

And in a clarion call to civil society to act, former veteran
anti-apartheid activist, and coordinator of the Zimbabwe Crisis Coalition,
Elinor Sisulu, on Saturday called on editors throughout the region,
particularly in South Africa, to petition the Southern African Development
Community (Sadc) and the African Union to also facilitate unrestricted media
access and coverage in Zimbabwe.

"There has to be scrutiny of what's happening. That is the first
answer to the crisis. Lives will be saved," said Sisulu.

Sisulu said nobody could describe the election process in Zimbabwe as
normal when people like Mubwanda were being killed. "How many more people
must die before our leaders publicly acknowledge that there is
state-sponsored violence targeting defenceless and vulnerable people in
Zimbabwe?" asked Sisulu.

"We are dealing here with planned violence, orchestrated at the
highest levels of government and the military establishment. There are
mountains of evidence of this," said Sisulu.

Mubwanda is reported to be the first murder victim of a brutal
campaign targeting people - many in isolated rural areas - who did not vote
for Zanu-PF candidates in the elections, the final results of which are
still awaited 21 days after people cast their votes.

The campaign, "Operation Mavhoterapapi" - "who did you vote for?" or
"where did you put your cross?" - has allegedly been orchestrated at the
highest levels of Zimbabwean government and directed by senior military
officers.

Warnings of pending violence were widely distributed last week,
complete with lists naming majors, colonels and lieutenants expected to be
deployed in constituencies, some allegedly under the guise of being war
veterans.

The brief, said Zimbabwe sources monitoring these developments, was to
engage so-called war-veterans, unemployed thugs and Zanu-PF youth militia
into bludgeoning people into submitting to Zanu-PF authority and ensuring
the party is victorious in an anticipated presidential election run-off.

"They vowed to go to war if Mugabe was defeated at the polls, and that
is what is happening," said one monitor.

"They have already started; it's down to the wire," agreed Takurra
Zhangazha, the Harare director of the Media Institute of Southern African.

"We know what Mugabe is seeking - retaliation."

"The SADC observer mission must be back like yesterday, with even more
people to deploy wherever they can, especially in rural areas," urged
Zhangazha.

Already, the Association of Doctors for Human Rights had documented
242 cases of organised violence and torture, as of Friday, including severe
injuries inflicted on a relative of Mubwanda who had tried in vain to
protect his family.

Director of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, Irene Petras, said the
departure of election observers before results had been announced had
precipitated the crisis.

She said the early departure had happened amid fears of post-election
rigging and associated retributive violence against members of the
opposition in the event of a run-off presidential election.

"They are not now able to witness what is happening," said Petras.
"They should be here with us while we as civic organisations are now having
to provide services to victims - legal services, medical assistance. There
is complicity of military personnel. These cases are being well documented,
not only by us, but by a number of organisations, and complaints made to
police and the minister of home affairs. But there is no willingness to stop
it all, and bring the perpetrators to book."

Petras said the absence of any condemnation from SADC heads of state
was only contributing to this impunity.

Addressing a Durban audience on Thursday night, the eve of the 28th
anniversary of Zimbabwe's independence, Zimbabwean civic leader and
ordinator of the National Constitutional Assembly, Tapera Kapuya, called on
the SADC to heed the will of Zimbabwe's people.

"Mugabe is a spent force. He is expiring like the Zim dollar," said
Kapuya.

"Zimbabwe is in political transition. Whatever happens in the next
couple of days, that transition has started."

MDC representative Nqobizitha Mlilo, who attended last weekend's
special Sadc summit on Zimbabwe that Mugabe avoided, was upbeat, and said
irrespective of the violence being unleashed, there was no turning the tide
of change Zimbabweans had voted for.

But such declarations from seminar podiums around South Africa have
not allayed fears that more murders are likely before Sadc leaders start
acting in the interests of Zimbabweans who cast their votes on March 29 - so
far to no avail.

"These are unnecessary deaths," said Sisulu, who said the crisis
cannot be left to Sadc leaders to address without input from civil society.

"We've got here an extremely violent and repressive state apparatus,
run by a criminal coterie of hangers-on, their livelihoods dependent on
state patronage, yet our our government, and President Thabo Mbeki have
never even acknowledged that human rights violations have taken place in
Zimbabwe," said Sisulu.

This article was originally published on page 10 of Tribune on April
20, 2008


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The An Yue Jiang, its cargo, and a context of rapidly escalating violence in Zimbabwe

Sokwanele

The location of the An Yue Jiang is leaving me very confused. Initially it
was heading for Mozambique, then all reports suggested Luanda.

But The Times in South Africa have now suggested that the ship is unlikely
to have enough fuel to reach Luanda, so may be forced to pull into another
port en route for refuelling.

† Jasa [Justice Alliance of South Africa] on Sunday urged the port
authorities in East London, Port Elizabeth and Cape Town to be on their
guard lest the ship tries to obtain fuel surreptiously.

Meanwhile, the Lloyds Vessel Casualty register indicates that the ship
registered as a casualty five hours ago.

What does this mean? Is it possible that the ship has run out of fuel
already? Is it all adrift on the open seas?

If so, what happens when a ship runs out of fuel at sea?

Does a tanker head out to give it fuel? If that’s the case then I’m
wondering if this is a sneaky way to avoid heading into a port where the
goods will be seized… ? Because apparently that is what will happen if the
ship heads towards another South African port:

† Should the ship re-enter SA territorial waters, she should be arrested by
the SA Navy, escorted into harbour, and the High Court order taped to her
mast.

† “The arms must then be put in bond until assurances are obtained from the
Chinese Government that they will be returned to China. Any promise from the
ship owner is insufficient as it becomes unenforceable the moment the ship
leaves SA territorial waters.

† “The captain may say he is going home and yet immediately sail for Angola
once he has fuel in his bunkers.”

Wild speculation aside, the context of the An Yue Jiang story and the
weapons it carries has to be seen in the context of rapidly escalating
violence in Zimbabwe.

The MDC held a press conference earlier today where they said that ten
members of its party had been murdered, four of them in the last few days.
In addition to this at least 3,000 people have been internally displaced
while scores of others have been injured by soldiers.

The MDC is using strong language to describe what is happening: Tendai Biti
described Zimbabwe as being in “a war situation“.

When you read this article on the Independent Online, written by Peta
Thornycroft it would be difficult to write off the use of the word ‘war’ as
hysterical hyperbole. Her article is long, and it carefully details all
aspects of the strategy that has been set in place, and is currently
underway, to ensure Robert Mugabe stays in power. Read this in conjunction
with our post titled Mugabe’s run-off rigging strategy leaked posted last
week.

The weapons are a part of that narrative, and that is why they are needed:
to brutalise the opposition, and cow a civilian population into submitting
to Robert Mugabe’s will.

The Chinese foreign Ministry has commented on the shipment and, despite
knowing all we know about China’s poor human rights record in their own
country, it still amazes me that a spokesperson cannot see the inherent
contradiction in this statement:

† “China and Zimbabwe maintain normal trade relations. China has always had
a prudent and responsible attitude towards arms sales, and one of the most
important principles is not to interfere in the internal affairs of other
countries.”

How can selling arms to a country that is using them against a civilian
population ever be justifed, and how can it ever be described as part of a
“responsible attitude towards arms sales”?

The Times also has an article that claims that Zimbabwe “is being forced to
buy weapons because its own arms company has collapsed to the point of
making coffins rather than weapons”. They should stick to coffins: with a
life expectancy of 34 for women and 37 for men, our people need coffins more
than they need guns at this stage.

†This entry was written by Hope on Sunday, April 20th, 2008 at 4:31 pm


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400 opposition supporters detained in Zimbabwe: opposition

Yahoo News

Sun Apr 20, 7:06 AM ET

JOHANNESBURG (AFP) - Four hundred opposition supporters have been detained
in Zimbabwe following March 29 elections, the secretary general of the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change said in Johannesburg on Sunday.

"Over 400 of our activists have been detained," secretary general Tendai
Biti said at a news conference, adding that 3,000 families had been
displaced and at least 500 opposition supporters had been hospitalised.


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Mugabe divorce reveals the rot at the top

IOL

†††††† Basildon Peta
††††April 20 2008 at 11:03AM

A divorce wrangle between President Robert Mugabe's playboy nephew,
Leo Mugabe, and his wife of nearly two decades, Veronica, has opened a can
of worms and is revealing the extent to which Mugabe's cronies feathered
their nests as Zimbabwe descended into impoverishment.

Divorce papers lodged at the Harare High Court show that Leo, a member
of parliament and the eldest child of Mugabe's ailing sister, Sabina, owns
at least three large farms in Mhangura, Makonde and Banket.

Leo has previously firmly denied that he owns more than one farm.

Veronica wants 100 percent ownership of one of the farms and at least
50 percent ownership of another, or equivalent compensation. The third farm
would remain in Leo's possession.

All the farms were forcibly seized from their white owners.

Veronica also wants the livestock, machinery and furniture of all
three farms: Nangadza, in Mhangura; Journey's End, in Makonde; and the farm
in Banket.

The case brings to the fore the curse of multiple farm ownership and
people close to Mugabe acquiring several farms with no benefit to the
landless.

Mugabe has ordered his cronies to surrender extra farms and at one
stage instituted an inquiry into multiple farm ownership.

Most of the seized farms have been lying fallow, contributing to the
collapse of agriculture in Zimbabwe.

Robert Mugabe's cronies, including Leo, have always denied owning
multiple farms - but the divorce case proves otherwise.

The court case also proves that Leo is a very wealthy man by virtue of
his shareholding in several blue chip companies, including mobile
telecommunications provider Telecel Zimbabwe; engineering giants Stewarts &
Lloyds and Integrated Engineering Group; steel dealer Baldwins Steel; and
investment firm Themiso Holdings.

Veronica wants 50 percent of Leo's holdings in all these companies.
Leo has yet to respond to the papers.

He is accused in the court papers of several extra-marital affairs and
of fathering children out of wedlock.

Veronica says her marital relationship with Mugabe's prominent nephew
has broken down irretrievably and that she has been denied "love, respect,
affection, companionship and friendship, as is expected between husband and
wife".

She has also accused Leo of abandoning his financial and parental
responsibilities to his family and wants custody of the children.

Leo was the chairman of the committee on transport and communications
in Zimbabwe's last parliament. He is also provincial spokesman for Zanu-PF's
Mashonaland West, the president's home province.

Leo was a longtime chairperson of the Zimbabwe Football Association
before being booted out for misusing a soccer development grant from world
soccer body Fifa.

He and his younger brother, Patrick Zhuwao, are both MPs and their
rise in politics is seen as a plan by Mugabe to entrench his dynasty in
power.

Their vast wealth has remained a mystery because they are not known as
successful entrepreneurs.

This article was originally published on page 2 of Sunday Independent
on April 20, 2008


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Specialists in Electoral Fraud



In the late 70Ļs I was appointed Chief Executive of a major corporation and
about six months into the job I noticed that although we had about 3500
employees and an internal audit department, I never saw anyone being
disciplined or prosecuted for theft. I have been in business for about 40
years and in my experience 85 per cent of theft in a company is by staff. I
called in the manager of the audit department and asked why I never saw a
report on employee theft? Our business was selling predominately for cash
and handled truckloads of cash every day. I then threatened him with
dismissal if I did not start to see real evidence that they were doing their
job and for the next three years the disciplinary committee was very busy
with reported cases of theft and abuse of privileges.

In the recent election I received an invitation from the Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission to witness the ≥sealing of the postal ballot boxes≤ in my
district. This election was run on a ward basis and therefore I attended one
such sealing and my Chief Election Agent the other. I arrived at the polling
station designated; this was about a week before the election itself and
found about 20 people and several policemen milling about.

After a few minutes we were called to order and the presiding officer for
the ward then proceeded to conduct an elaborate and painstaking procedure to
demonstrate that the plastic box was empty and then sealed. We were told to
take the numbers down and to sign the seals on the box so that they could
not be tampered with. I then asked what would happen to the box until the
election? I was told it would sit in the polling station in splendid
isolation guarded by a policeman 24 hours a day.

What a waste of time ≠ the real action was many kilometers away in police
stations and army barracks and diplomatic missions where postal ballots were
being completed by civil servants and serving officers under the supervision
of their superior officers. Nothing transparent about that process and we
have plenty of evidence that they were forced to vote one way ≠ if they did
not, they were told to do it again. These ballots were then sent to selected
districts where they were used to ensure that certain candidates won.

My District was not one of those ≠ I think I had 27 postal ballots. But what
I recall was the elaborate dance conducted for absolutely no purpose in that
primary school polling station. It served no purpose other than to give the
impression that this was a process above suspicion, when it fact it simply
disguised what was really going on.

Now take yesterdays recount of 23 constituencies. The claim by Zanu PF made
10 days after the results were known, was that the returning officers under
counted the Zanu PF vote. They first targeted 25 such districts and then
trimmed this to 23. All in rural areas.

The statistics are awesome for an exercise of this nature. The 23 districts
had 1380 polling stations. At those polling stations were nearly `15 000
staff ≠ excluding 5 000 police officers ≠ all of whom were on duty the whole
day and well into the night and observed the whole process. The returning
officers in charge were all senior civil servants carefully selected for
this task and well paid for their time.

Each team of over 15 people had to watch while an average of 275 voters went
through the elaborate process of having their names and identity documents
checked against the voters rolls. Collected their ballot papers and then
completed them in secrecy before showing the polling station code number to
the returning officer or their deputies and then placing them into one of
four boxes ≠ all color coded.

In the evening after closing the polling station they had a short break and
then, in front of up to 20 party polling agents, they proceeded to empty
each box onto an open table and divide them into piles ≠ one for each
candidate, before counting and recounting until everyone was satisfied with
the count which was then recorded by all involved ≠ agents on their own
returns and the staff on the official documents.

The process went on for hours ≠ eventually all is finalized and the
returning officers filled in the V11 form recording the results of the poll,
it was signed by all parties and then posted on the door of the polling
station and he or she then took the form to the district control center
where the senior returning officer and his staff were and they then
consolidated the returns from all stations and finally declare the result
for the ward, constituency or senatorial district. At the same time they
announced the result of the presidential poll.

In every polling station the police watched every step and radioed in the
results as they got them. I know that because at our polling stations during
the counting we were hearing, via the police on duty, results from other
stations.

Now Zanu PF and the Mugabe regime want the world to accept that this
elaborate and painstaking process at 1400 polling stations was flawed to the
extent that the results ≠ drawn up by 15 000 staff, watched by 5 000 police
officers, were wrong! How wrong we are about to discover. They started at
08.00 hrs yesterday and it will take three days to finish. The process of
the recount will be elaborate for the benefit of the watching press, SADC
observers and the curious. They will hold up each ballot ≠ all 400 000 of
them, carefully place them on the appropriate pile and then start the count.
Remember the count is 400 000 times 4 ≠ 1,6 million ballots from 5 000
ballot boxes.

But it is an elaborate sham, put on for the benefit of the gullible and the
region ≠ which knows full well what is going on and yet will applaud the
process as being ≥transparent≤ and above board. Why have they not done this
with the V11 forms? Why not sit down with the four Chief Election Agents and
count the results of 9 400 forms filled in by returning officers on the
night of the 29th March. Why not simply verify the signatures on those forms
and ask the parties to justify any queries. Why this elaborate and time
consuming process when the obvious has not been done?

It is quite clear to me and to millions of others that this exercise ≠ like
the sealing of the postal ballot boxes with nothing in them, is just a ploy
to hide the fact that fraud is being committed in front of the whole
watching world. They have had the ballot boxes for three weeks behind closed
doors and like my employees, simply cannot be trusted with the cash! Zanu PF
and ballot boxes is a bit like the staff and the cash box ≠ do a snap audit
and fire the employee afterwards.

That ship with its genocide cargo from China is on its way to Angola ≠ from
there its cargo will probably be flown to Harare. Yesterday three MDC
activists were picked up in Harare, beaten to the edge of death and then
dumped in the bush at Mtoroshanga ≠ many kilometers from Harare. A meeting
was held at Raffingora yesterday, addressed by army officers in uniform.
They told the people that there would be a run off and that this time they
≥will≤ vote for Mugabe or else there will be civil war. They also said they
would shortly start to take over businesses and mines and urban property.

If nobody starts to act soon, this is going to be a bloody few weeks.

Eddie Cross
Bulawayo, 20th April 2008


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Zimbabwe Vigil Diary - 19th April 2008



Zimbabwean musicians protesting against Mugabe, the Zimbabwean Embassy
invaded and the Africa Union challenged. A busy week in London.

Three days of demonstrations outside the Embassy culminated in the relaunch
of the Vigil's petition calling for action against the Southern African
Development Community for their failure to hold Mugabe to agreed election
protocols.† It reads: "A Petition to European Union Governments: We record
our dismay at the failure of the Southern African Development Community
(SADC) to help the desperate people of Zimbabwe at their time of trial.† We
urge the UK government and the European Union in general to suspend
government to government aid to all 14 SADC countries until they abide by
their joint commitment to uphold human rights in the region. We suggest that
the money should instead be used to feed the starving in Zimbabwe."

We want to make clear that the aid we want stopped is not humanitarian aid
but balance of payments support. If Zimbabwe's neighbours are giving support
to the Mugabe dictatorship they must share the burden of suffering with the
people of Zimbabwe, who will need ever-increasing food supplies from abroad
because of the disastrous regime.

Several well-known musicians joined the Vigil to protest against the illegal
recounting of votes in 23 constituencies, among them Lucky Moyo, formerly of
Black Unfolozi, and Willard Karanga, formerly with Thomas Mapfumo's band.
The music was brilliant and drew in many passers-by despite the cold
weather. The message was 'we want change'.

Vigil supporters were also out in force on Friday for a demonstration
organised by Action for Southern Africa, the successor to the Anti-Apartheid
Movement, to mark Zimbabwe's Independence Day. It was attended by Stendrick
Zvorwadza of our partners Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe (ROHRZim).
He said it was not a true Independence Day at all -- independence meant
freedom and Zimbabweans were worse off than under the Smith regime. The
protest was attended by about 150 people including† representatives of
Zimbabwean youth groups who earlier† that day had invaded a meeting in
London addressed by† Vice President Ali Mohamed Shein of Tanzania, which is
the current chair of the AU.† They challenged him about the organisation's
attitude to Zimbabwe.

The day before, on Thursday, the MDC in the UK staged a protest against the
rigged elections outside the Embassy and South Africa House.† Earlier in the
week, on Tuesday, the Zimbabwe Embassy itself had been invaded by a group of
Zimbabweans - all ladies except for one brave man.

We have had massive media coverage in an unprecedented expression of
interest in the Zimbabwe situation.† It doesn't surprise us that the Vigil
makes up the bulk of 39 people in the UK reportedly targeted by the CIO to
be dealt with.† Note to Happyton Bonyongwe (head of the CIO): one of your
operatives seems to have photographed a page of the Vigil register. He is
not really earning his money.

For this week's Vigil pictures: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/.

FOR THE RECORD: over 200 signed the register.

FOR YOUR DIARY:
∑††† Saturday, 26th April 2008, 2 - 6 pm. Next Glasgow Vigil. Venue:
Argyle Street Precinct. For more information, contact: Ancilla Chifamba,
07770 291 150 and Patrick Dzimba, 07990 724 137.
∑†††Saturday, 26th April 2008, 12 - 2 pm.† Bristol Vigil is holding a
protest in Bristol City Centre. They write: "Urgent action For Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe is in distress - Mugabe is stealing the election. Do your part in
helping to restore democracy in Zimbabwe." Contact: Forward 079 19894 900;
Morgan 078 762 66915; Dave 0117 9025009 or Jude 078 0130 4439.
∑†††Wednesday, 30th April - Saturday, 10th May.† "I will tell" a
Christian film festival from Jericho Films
(http://www.jerichofilms.com/festival08/festival.html).† They are inviting
Zimbabwe Vigil supporters to take part in discussion panels about 4 of the
films:
-†††3rd May - WORLD UNSEEN (High Holborn) a South African film about
racism, relationship and politics
-†††7th May - ESCAPE FROM LUANDA (Greenwich) a† story of the power of
music in overcoming adversity after the civil war in Angola
-†††8th May - SON OF MAN (Mayfair) a South African re-interpretation
of the story of Jesus against the backdrop of violence, racism and political
abuse
-†††9th May - EZRA (Euston) a story about the experience of a child
soldier.
If you wish to take part please contact Jenny on 07961 371 676,
jenny.lee@jerichofilms.com..

Vigil Co-ordinators

The Vigil, outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, 429 Strand, London, takes place
every Saturday from 14.00 to 18.00 to protest against gross violations of
human rights by the current regime in Zimbabwe. The Vigil which started in
October 2002 will continue until internationally-monitored, free and fair
elections are held in Zimbabwe. http://www.zimvigil.co.uk.

Vigil co-ordinator

The Vigil, outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, 429 Strand, London, takes place
every Saturday from 14.00 to 18.00 to protest against gross violations of
human rights by the current regime in Zimbabwe. The Vigil which started in
October 2002 will continue until internationally-monitored, free and fair
elections are held in Zimbabwe. http://www.zimvigil.co.uk


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Mbeki looks on sphinx-like while Zimbabwe simmers

Toronto Star

As a mediator, Mbeki feels that he should stay neutral in the crisis
Forces that shaped South African leader make him resist pressure to tell
Mugabe what to do

Apr 20, 2008 04:30 AM
Haroon Siddiqui

PRETORIA–With its weeks-long electoral standoff, Zimbabwe may be receding
from global consciousness but not from that of South and southern Africa.

Both the elite and the ordinary people dread what might unfold next in the
diabolical mind of Robert Mugabe and thus in Mugabe-land. Yet no one quite
knows how to prevent a potential bloodbath, given that Zimbabwe may already
have had a quiet military coup and is "a de facto military state," in the
words of the Institute for a Democratic Alternative for Zimbabwe.

Not surprisingly, the clearest response is emanating farthest from the
scene.

Western leaders and North American/European pundits speaking in the name of
Zimbabweans will neither face the machine guns and machetes of Mugabe's
forces, nor will they have to cope with the regional consequences of his
crackdown, such as a tidal wave of fleeing refugees.

Zimbabweans – living in fear, besides reeling under hyperinflation of
170,000 per cent (as of Friday), and severe shortages of food – are in no
position to duplicate Ukraine's orange revolution or Georgia's velvet or
Lebanon's cedar revolutions.

More likely is a repeat of Kenya. There, a disputed election in December led
to clashes that killed 1,000 people, a crisis only now resolved with a
national unity cabinet of 94, nearly half the parliament.

Zimbabwe may see worse.

Since Mugabe's Zanu-PF lost its parliamentary majority and he the
presidential vote, he and his equally corrupt cronies in the army, police
and intelligence services have taken a series of ominous measures.

It was the Joint Operations Command that "imposed a blackout on election
results, instructed the judiciary not to hear an opposition court action,
ordered the arrests of electoral officials and put all senior commission
officials under surveillance," the Zimbabwean ("a voice of the voiceless")
reported.

The Electoral Commission was moved to an undisclosed location, for a recount
in 23 ridings and to prepare for a presidential runoff.

Foreign reporters have been harassed out; political rallies banned; armed
troops and riot police placed at strategic positions; the so-called
"veterans" of the former Southern Rhodesia's war of independence and armed
youth gangs unleashed to beat up members and supporters of the opposition,
as well as hound the white farmers off their land (their numbers having
dwindled to 300 from 4,200 a decade ago).

Mugabe said politicians of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change who
defend the remaining 25,000 whites (in a population of 12 million) are
"black puppets."

White bashing, stealing elections and battering opponents are old Mugabe
tactics. Yet this round portends unprecedented danger.

He used to have other tools – distributing food and hiking subsidies and
civil servants' pay. Now the treasury is empty and there's no corn, cooking
oil, sugar, even salt. There's not much at his command except intimidation
and terror.

GIVEN THIS very real prospect of bloodshed, South African President Thabo
Mbeki shocked everyone last weekend when he landed at Harare airport and,
clasping Mugabe's hand with both his, said there was "no crisis."

His own African National Congress broke ranks. The ANC is no ordinary ruling
party. Nelson Mandela's vehicle of liberation, it has strong views on both
domestic and foreign policy.

Jacob Zuma, the party's head and also president-presumptive at the end of
Mbeki's term next year, thundered: "The region cannot afford a deepening
crisis."

There were calls that Mbeki be fired as the Zimbabwe "facilitator" for the
Southern African Development Community, an organ of the African Union.

Unmoved, Mbeki flew to New York to sit sphinx-like at the Security Council,
taking South Africa's turn at presiding. He did not mention Zimbabwe.
Everyone else did.

He was forced to concede that the situation is indeed "dire." But he
wouldn't go any further. His stance is explained by personal, post-colonial
and post-apartheid reasons.

Mandela was a liberator and a statesman, Mbeki a politician who must manage
a post-apartheid nation. Mandela's consciousness was global, Mbeki's very
African. When Governor General MichaŽlle Jean visited here in December 2006,
what interested him the most was that she was Haitian-born. He praised
Canada for appointing her and said Europe should learn a lesson in how to
treat its African migrants.

Mbeki wants an African renaissance. To fight off the ill effects of
colonialism and Western exploitation of African resources, Africans must
resolve African problems the African way.

He has resisted Western, particularly American, entreaties on Iran, Sudan,
Burma and Belarus. He keeps good relations with Cuba. He is very
pro-Palestinian, while maintaining good relations with Israel. He opposed
both the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.

Given all that, he resists telling a fellow African leader what to do. He
particularly resists Western pressure to do so.

Then there's the China factor.

When he promised Zimbabwe a $2 billion loan in 2005 in return for political
reforms, China matched the offer with no strings.

There's also the problem that many African leaders still see Mugabe as a
black liberator who stands up to the white man. Others are afraid that he'd
accuse them of being lackeys of the West, the worst label to have in these
parts.

Still, there's a popular expectation that South Africa, as the continent's
largest economy and the leading member of the African Union, will lean on
Mugabe to put things right.

Even some leaders have joined the chorus. Those from Zambia, Mozambique,
Botswana and Tanzania realize that a destabilized Zimbabwe would be
disastrous for regional stability, investment, development assistance,
refugee movements, etc. But what to do?

Mbeki feels that as a mediator, he should stay neutral. That's how he got
concessions from Mugabe to have the March 29 election results posted at
every polling station, thereby avoiding a massive fraud.

"The first order of business should be to protect Zimbabweans from violence
by Mugabe's forces," says the Nairobi-based African Conservative Forum.

"The U.S. and the European Union should make it absolutely clear that any
commander of the Zimbabwean security forces who gives orders for the
shooting of protesters will be indicted before the international criminal
court. Also, every individual police officer who obeys an order to shoot
should be held personally liable for his criminal act."

IT IS SAID that Mugabe and his commanders are hanging on to power as a way
to escape possible charges of crimes against humanity.

The more they are made to dread that prospect, the more likely they will
realize that committing more violations of human rights will only tighten
the noose.

Haroon Siddiqui, the Star's editorial page editor emeritus, appears Thursday
and Sunday. hsiddiq@thestar.ca


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Zuma's mission to tackle Mugabe

The Australian

RW Johnson, Cape Town | April 21, 2008

SOUTH Africa's leader-in-waiting, Jacob Zuma, will depart from his country's
policy of "quiet diplomacy" - and attack Zimbabwe's embattled President,
Robert Mugabe, during a series of talks with European leaders this week.

Mr Zuma, as the leader of a delegation from the ruling African National
Congress, is expected to meet British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, German
Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

He will argue that, contrary to South African President Thabo Mbeki's
insistence that "there is no crisis" in Zimbabwe, the region cannot afford
to see the situation worsen.

In an interview at the weekend, Mr Zuma went out of his way to praise the
courage of Morgan Tsvangirai, Zimbabwe's opposition leader.

"I've met Tsvangirai. He's a worker, too. And he's certainly a brave man,"
said Mr Zuma who, like Mr Tsvangirai, is a strong trade unionist.

In a wide-ranging conversation, he promised a fresh start for his country on
issues ranging from Zimbabwe to a possible amnesty for South African
prisoners convicted of political crimes.

Mr Zuma, 66, a polygamist with at least 18 children by five women -- who
shocked South Africa in 2006 when he admitted to having unprotected sex with
an HIV-positive young woman he was later acquitted of raping -- is engaged
in a no-holds-barred struggle for supremacy with Mr Mbeki, who will step
down as President in May next year.

Mr Zuma, the clear frontrunner to succeed Mr Mbeki since winning the
leadership of the ANC last year, tends to view almost everything, including
Zimbabwe, through the context of his long and bitter battle with the
President.

For eight years the state has spared no effort in trying to convict Mr
Zuma -- of corruption and tax evasion, as well as rape.

He was ignominiously sacked from the deputy presidency and pilloried in the
state-owned media. Thus far he has seen all the charges against him thrown
out, although he faces a corruption trial this year.

Mr Zuma is in no doubt about what a formidable opponent he faces in Mr
Mbeki: "He is a ruthless man and he is thorough."

The Sunday Times


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Time to take the gloves off against Mugabe

Jamaica Gleaner

EDITORIAL -
published: Sunday | April 20, 2008

We don't expect that the Jamaican government last Friday sent an
independence message to Zimbabwe, where Robert Mugabe continues to squat in
the country's presidency and to thumb his nose at his own people and the
international community.

But being silent on Zimbabwe, we continue to insist, is not good enough. It
is important, we feel, for Jamaica and its Caribbean Community (Caricom)
partners to tell Mugabe that enough is enough. But more than that, it is
important that this region become actively engaged in the promotion and
protection of democracy in the southern African nation.

Robert Mugabe, the former guerilla leader, who helped to overthrow white
minority rule in the former Rhodesia, has held power for the 28 years of
Zimbabwe's independence. He once commanded admiration for his part in the
liberation struggle, especially among people of African descent in the
Caribbean and the Americas.

We in Jamaica felt a special connection with Zimbabwe. Indeed, the late
Michael Manley, then Jamaica's prime minister, made critical interventions
at the 1979 Commonwealth Summit that nudged concessions out of Margaret
Thatcher to place British pressure on Ian Smith's illegal white, racist
government to secure Zimbabwe's independence. Bob Marley performed at the
independence celebrations.

But Robert Mugabe has squandered the hope of Zimbabwe's independence and,
now 84, has grown old and despotic. He was initially forced to embrace
elements of democracy in Zimbabwe, but as he consolidated power,
increasingly shed the pretence of abiding by governance based on the will of
the people and their right to vote for the government of their choice.

Any serious political challenge was met with repressive violence and
accusations that Mugabe's opponents were colluding with foreign powers in an
effort to reinstitute colonial rule. Racist rhetoric substituted for policy
and as the response for economic failures - such as the fact that more than
half of Zimbabwe's workforce is without jobs, that the country's inflation
is over 100,000 per cent, or that life expectancy has tumbled to under 40.

Zimbabweans have grown weary of Mugabe, so in elections three weeks ago,
they braved the intimidation of the state and his party, Zanu-PF, and gave
the majority of the parliamentary seats to the opposition, led by Morgan
Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change. Tsvangirai won more votes than
Mugabe in the race for the presidency, but perhaps not sufficient for an
outright victory, which would necessitate a run-off.

The problem, though, is that after all this time, the election authorities
are yet to report the outcome of the presidential vote and Mugabe appears to
be attempting to find a way, if not to steal the election at the first
round, to intimidate Zimbabweans to vote for him in the next. We must have
none of it!

Jamaica and CARICOM must speak out - but not only to Mugabe. It is time that
this region tell Thabo Mbeki, the president of South Africa, Zimbabwe's
neighbour and southern Africa's power, to end the dithering.

Mbeki, mandated by the regional economic group, ANC, to negotiate between
Zimbabwe's political forces, has long engaged in so-called quiet diplomacy,
but with little success from the intransigent Mugabe. Tsvangirai is
rightfully frustrated.

But failing to be firm, Mbeki is abetting Mugabe's undemocratic conduct -
and should be told.


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A soldier named Tedious

Globe and Mail, Canada

Stephanie Nolen, today at 1:45 PM EDT

April 20

Reporting on Zimbabwe these past three weeks has meant an almost unbroken
litany of grim news. But for a foreign journalist, there is one tiny source
of levity amidst the heartbreak, and that is the Zimbabwean flare for names.

In the course of a single day, not long ago, I interviewed a nurse named
Marvelous, a waiter named Patient, a lawyer named Jealous, a farmer named
Precious, a black-market fuel trader named Remarkable, a strapping
opposition campaigner named Sweetness and a soldier named Tedious.

In this election, ZANU-PF fielded candidates with the first names
Antimalaria, Township and Orders.

The director of Zimbabwe's spy agency, the dreaded Central Intelligence
Organization, is somewhat improbably named Happyton Bonyongwe. Zimbabwe has
a famous soccer player named Have-a-Look Dube. I've met people called
Sleepy, Wonderful, Tolerant, Courage, Moreblessing, Charity and Envy. There
is a leading democracy campaigner named Lovemore Madhuku. There is a
reporter for the state-run Herald newspaper whose byline is Hatred Zenenga.

Which leads one to ask, of course, what kind of parents name their child
Hatred. A couple of excellent Zimbabwean journalist pals (named Shakeman and
Darlington) explained to me that the names, which can sound peculiar in
English, are translations of names that make sense in chiShona. Have-a-Look,
for example, is Tarisai in chiShona, which means 'to ask God to watch over
one's family'. Moreblessing is a less mellifluous translation of a chiShona
word that welcomes another child as an additional blessing.

Other names, like Antimalaria, may have been given in a rural area when
there was a vogue for English names but less fluency with what they actually
meant. A child might be named Hatred if born at the time of a family feud,
or born to a woman whose husband has taken another wife and who is trying
(with a certain lack of subtlety) to send a message.

At the end of the interview with the nurse named Marvelous, I asked if her
name is a lot to live up to – what does she do on the days she's feeling
only Mediocre? She laughed, and said she doesn't really think about her
name, "it's just a name, like Mary."

And the soldier named Tedious? He goes by Ted.

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