April 23, 2008
A Zimbabwean state newspaper called today for a transitional government of
national unity under Robert Mugabe.
The Herald, which is seen not just as a mouthpiece for President Mugabe's
Zanu (PF) party but also as a barometer of its mood, said that political
tensions in Zimbabwe made it impossible to hold a run-off vote.
In an editorial, the newspaper said that a transitional government should
seek the help of the South African Development Community (SADC) and beyond
to write a new constitution adopted after a national referendum, and to
organise new elections.
“It stands to reason that, the transitional government of national unity,
negotiated by the two leading contending parties, under the mediation of
SADC, supported by the international community, should be led by the
incumbent President,” it said.
a.. Zimbabwe church leaders warn of genocide
a.. Zimbabwean arms ship 'may be recalled'
a.. Neighbouring states lose patience with Mugabe
The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has already rejected
suggestions of a second-round of voting because it claims that its leader,
Morgan Tsvangirai, won the March 29 presidential contest.
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has yet to release any results from the
presidential election, and has for some days been engaged in a recount of
the parliamentary ballot, after initially announcing that the MDC had
dislodged Zanu (PF) from power. Mr Tsvangirai - who was today visiting
Mozambique - has accused Mr Mugabe of trying to rig the election to cling on
to power after 28 years.
There are signs of growing regional impatience with Mr Mugabe from
neighbours, who have until now refused to take a hard line with the former
liberation hero despite an economic crisis that has brought unemployment and
hunger to millions of Zimbabweans.
In an unprecedented action, southern African states refused to allow a
Chinese ship carrying arms to landlocked Zimbabwe to unload.
In his toughest comments yet, Jacob Zuma, leader of South Africa's ruling
party leader and widely expected to be the country's next president, said:
“It’s not acceptable. It’s not helping the Zimbabwean people who have gone
out to ... elect the kind of party and presidential candidate they want,
exercising their constitutional right.”
By Reuters, April 23
Regional countries should mediate negotiations in Zimbabwe for a
transitional government of national unity led by President Robert Mugabe to
organise new elections that are free, a state newspaper said on Wednesday.
The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and Mugabe’s ZANU-PF are
locked in an election stalemate over delayed parliamentary results and a
possible presidential runoff that has raised fears of widespread violence.
Zimbabwe’s MDC seeks regional help - Apr-20
Mugabe accuses Britain of paying rivals - Apr-18
S African union blocks Zimbabwe arms cargo - Apr-18
Video: Rice on Zimbabwe - Apr-18
Mbeki told to quit Zimbabwe mediation - Apr-17
Pretoria clears arms for Harare - Apr-18
The editorial on The Herald’s website said political tensions make it
impossible to hold a run-off, which the MDC rejects.
MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai has said he won the election outright and
accused Mugabe of seeking a run-off to rig victory in the biggest challenge
to his 28-year rule.
Tsvangirai has appealed to the Southern African Development Community (SADC)
and foreign powers to intervene to guarantee a democratic poll result and
prevent widespread violence.
There are signs of growing regional impatience with Mugabe from neighbours
who have refused to take a hard line with the former liberation hero despite
an economic crisis that has brought millions of Zimbabweans to their knees.
Maritime southern African states refused to allow a Chinese ship carrying
arms to landlocked Zimbabwe to unload, in unprecedented action towards
Mugabe by long-passive neighbours, including traditional allies.
The action indicated a tougher response by the region, which has been
criticised, particularly by the United States, for not doing more to end a
three-week delay in issuing results from a presidential election on March
In his toughest comments yet, South African ruling party leader Jacob Zuma
said in a Reuters interview in Berlin.
”It’s not acceptable. It’s not helping the Zimbabwean people who have gone
out to ... elect the kind of party and presidential candidate they want,
exercising their constitutional right.”
Zuma, who has distanced himself from the ”quiet diplomacy” of South African
President Thabo Mbeki over Zimbabwe, added: ”I imagine that the leaders in
Africa should really move in to unlock this logjam.”
His comments were one factor helping to lift the rand currency to a
seven-week high against the dollar. Traders welcomed Zuma’s readiness to
take a lead on Zimbabwe after concern the crisis would hit Africa’s biggest
The Herald, seen as a barometer of the official mood, said a transitional
government should seek the help of the SADC and the international community
to write a new constitution adopted after a national referendum.
”It stands to reason that, the transitional government of national unity,
negotiated by the two leading contending parties, under the mediation of
SADC, supported by the international community, should be led by the
incumbent president,” it said.
The MDC deprived Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party of its majority in parliament in a
parallel vote on March 29 but there has also been a delay to a partial
recount of votes from that poll.
The recount could overturn the MDC victory. The opposition and Western
governments say it is merely another ploy by Mugabe to steal back the
election. The Herald said ZANU-PF retained one of the 23 seats being
Tsvangirai called for African leaders to acknowledge that he won the vote,
saying Mugabe would be allowed an honourable exit.
Africa’s reputation would suffer ”serious disrepute” if Mugabe stayed in
power, Tsvangirai said in Accra.
Tensions have been rising on the ground as Tsvangirai tours the region
seeking help in pushing aside Mugabe, a wily leader who critics say has used
ruthless security crackdowns and a vast patronage system to keep a tight
grip on power.
The MDC has accused ZANU-PF of killing 10 of its members and rounding up
hundreds, charges denied by the ruling party.
The Herald said police have handled over 75 cases of poltical violence
carried out by suspected MDC supporters.
The editorial called on both sides to compromise.
”The peace and security of Zimbabwe, that it has enjoyed since independence,
is at great risk,” it said.
”Whilst the ruling party must stop behaving like a wounded buffalo, the
opposition party must stop its hysterics and lapses into delusion.”
April 23 2008 at 07:02AM
By Tawanda Mashingaidze, Basildon Peta, Hans Pienaar and Louise
Harare - Crack Angolan troops are on standby to fly to the aid of
President Robert Mugabe and his beleaguered Zanu-PF should the need arise,
according to senior military sources who are becoming increasingly concerned
about the turn of events.
They maintain that Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos has
assured Mugabe that battle-hardened troops who have seen action in the DRC
conflict are ready to fly to the aid of Zanu-PF in the face of "an
What this indicates is that Mugabe and the ruling party can no longer
rely on the unswerving loyalty of his armed forces, if he steals the March
29 election and provokes violent resistance.
While the top brass in the military generally support the system, the
same cannot be said for many other officers. Among the ordinary ranks who,
along with their families, have suffered in the desperate economic
conditions, there is widespread disgruntlement.
Significantly, much of the reported terror being conducted against
suspected opposition supporters in the rural areas is being carried out by
Zanu-PF youth militia rather than the army or police.
The existence of these gangs of young thugs and the manner in which
they are conducting themselves has also contributed to the disquiet within
the military and, perhaps to a lesser degree, among the police.
Given rudimentary military training and immunity from prosecution,
they have been turned loose in a number of areas.
In the rural Mashonaland constituency of Mutoko North, the local
chairperson of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), Themba
Muronde was last week beaten to death by "Green Bombers" as the youth
militia are known.
According to family members who have sought refuge in Harare, Muronde
was dragged from his home on Sunday and severely beaten.
He was still unable to move when the "Bombers" returned 24 hours
later. They dragged him from his home and beat him, apparently to death,
before taking his body with them.
Frightened families from rural areas in which the Bombers are
operating are continuing to drift into Harare.
Meanwhile, the An Yue Jiang and its consignment of weapons destined
for Zimbabwe continued to mystify as it appeared on Tuesday to do another
about turn and to start the long haul back home to China.
On Tuesday the container ship was spotted off Cape Town and by
mid-afternoon it had apparently abandoned its attempt to dock in Namibia or
Angola, and turned around to head back around the South African coast.
This article was originally published on page 1 of Cape Times on April
Wednesday, 23 April 2008 06:41
I am getting reports from the Zaka and Chiredzi constituencies now of
threats and violence by youth militia perpetrated against MDC polling agents
and villagers who it was perceived voted for the MDC. In these
constituencies the army and police have not been involved in any violence
against the people, but have also not acted against Mugabe’s militia. These
attacks are mostly taking place on the resettled farms and in the communal
areas near these farms.
Farmers move to the towns
Several farmers spent the weekend in Chiredzi because they had
received word that they were going to be “JAMBANJAED”. (beaten up)
The guard on my ranch was told that we would be killed if we were not
off by the end of the month. I have taken this as a serious threat because
they are the same group who attacked my ranch in Feb.2002 and killed 3 off
my game scouts’ one of them being the brother of the threatened guard and
tried to kill me. I have, in person and in writing, reported this to Chief
Superintendent Dzaramba who is in charge of the Chiredzi district.,
hopefully he will act against them.
I am getting many SMS messages from the MDC youth now desperately
looking for guns, saying that they are tired of been chased and beaten by
Mugabe’s youth, obviously I do not have arms to give them and so tell them
that Morgan wants all his people to stay calm and peaceful.
MY AND MANY OTHERS QUESTION IS, WHEN THE PEOPLE HAVE OBVIOUSLY WON AN
ELECTION BUT THE LOOSERS DO NOT INTEND TO HAND OVER, HOW DO THE PEOPLE FORCE
THE LOOSERS OUT PEACEFULLY?
If somebody has an answer to this question, please let me know so that
I can pass it on and so give hope to our people and help to prevent a blood
Wednesday, 23 April 2008
People speak of an African solution to an African problem. For Zimbabwe's
crisis, there has already been an African solution. The people of Zimbabwe,
who are of course African, voted over three weeks ago. They had hopes that
participating in an election would save them. Most likely, they voted for a
change of government, but regardless they, the sovereign people of the
republic, expressed their will.
But hopes for a rapid change have dimmed with every day that the results of
the election remain unannounced. Robert Mugabe and his party, Zanu-PF, are
now refusing to accept the will of the people and are, instead, clinging on
to power by force.
Their crude efforts to reverse their losses at the poll by ordering a
recount of the votes, combined with a naked campaign of violent retribution
against those thought to have voted for the opposition in the past few days
are factors confirming the illegitimacy of Mugabe's regime that even the
greatest apologists for the regime in Harare have not been able to ignore.
It is mildly encouraging that after years of efforts to maintain the
appearance of having a firm grip over the management of the process of
resolving the Zimbabwean crisis despite their obvious failure to influence
Mugabe, leaders of Africa, and Zimbabwe's neighbours in particular, are at
last dropping these pretences. They don't have Mugabe's ear and they are
plainly embarrassed by his and his regime's recalcitrance as the crisis in
the country deepens. This week, Africa's leadership – the African Union, the
South African government and the ruling African National Congress – at least
thought it necessary to again press Mugabe publicly to announce the results
of the election and to respect the result. Zambia and Mozambique's
leadership were bolder still. They distanced themselves from Zanu-PF's
further attempts to suppress the popular will through force.
The truth is that the gap between the African leaders and those of the wider
international community is narrow. But Mugabe survives on the sliver of an
illusion that there is some division. It is time for African leaders to make
the final leap and admit that the manifest challenge of ending the crisis
created by Mugabe's regime requires a united international effort. World
leaders, African and beyond, should openly work together towards a solution
to the crisis. Their responsibility to the people of Zimbabwe, to whom they
promised a free and fair election, demands nothing less.
Gugulethu Moyo is a Zimbabwean lawyer. She is editor of the book The Day
Wednesday, 23 April 2008
The recent history of Zimbabwe has felt like a series of false dawns. Hopes
that Robert Mugabe's cruel and chaotic rule might finally be over have been
repeatedly dashed, as the old dictator moved ruthlessly to steal the
election he had so obviously lost. He deployed a formidable array of sly
tactics: invasions of white farms, arrests of election officials, bogus
recounts and campaigns of intimidation in areas where the people had dared
to vote against him. And yet it seems that the tide has finally turned
Key in this change has been South Africa's leader-in-waiting, Jacob Zuma,
who arrives in London today for talks with Gordon Brown before moving on to
meet the French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, and the German Chancellor,
Angela Merkel. Mr Zuma, in his toughest comments to date, yesterday called
on African leaders to move in to unblock the Zimbabwean logjam. The remarks
come all the more powerfully from the man who is now head of the African
National Congress and the front-runner to take over as South Africa's
president from Thabo Mbeki, whose "quiet diplomacy" approach is increasingly
seen as discredited at home and abroad.
To be fair, Mr Mbeki had his moment. It was his initiative which changed
election rules in Zimbabwe, requiring the results of each count to be nailed
to the door of each polling station. That was what made it clear to the
world, despite Mr Mugabe's attempt to stifle the result, that he had roundly
lost. But quiet diplomacy has had its day. Mr Brown realised that when he
spoke out against Mugabe vote-rigging at the United Nations, in a marked
departure from the silence Tony Blair kept for fear that public condemnation
merely fuelled Mugabe's rants about how everything was a plot by the
British. A new momentum is clear all across Africa.
The President of Zambia has just urged Angola to turn away a ship carrying
Chinese arms for the Mugabe regime, which South African trade unions refused
to unload in Durban last week. Kenya's new prime minister has appealed for
African heads of state to use force if necessary to remove Mugabe from
power. The African Union has this week added its voice to the chorus of
disapproval; its current chairman, the President of Tanzania, is pressing
within the AU and the Southern African Development Community for action. All
of that is far more important than condemnations from Western nations.
It is significant that, though the South African High Court suspended the
Chinese arms shipment's conveyance permit, it was the nation's transport
union, Satawu, which led the fight against allowing weapons to the Zimbabwe
regime. Satawu was a key force in the struggle against apartheid. It is also
now an important ally of Mr Zuma, whose power base is mainly among the trade
unions. Zimbabwe's rightful president, Morgan Tsvangirai, whom Mr Zuma went
out of his way to meet – in contrast to Mr Mbeki – is a former trade
unionist, too. He is also, like Mr Zuma, of Zulu tribal origin.
There is a power struggle between Mr Mbeki, who steps down as president next
year, and Mr Zuma, his former deputy. Its outcome is not absolutely certain;
for eight years, Mr Mbeki has spared no effort in trying to nail Mr Zuma,
with charges of tax evasion and rape which Zuma supporters say were trumped
up. He was acquitted of rape but faces a corruption trial in September. If
Zimbabwe is one of the key cards in the poker game between the two men, that
could yet work to the advantage of Zimbabweans. Mr Zuma knows that if he can
broker some kind of resolution in that benighted nation, it will go a long
way to alleviating concerns in the international community about his
leadership ability.It will raise his political stock at home and throughout
Africa. Change for Zimbabwe may, after all, be unstoppable.
By DONNA BRYSON
The Associated Press
Tuesday, April 22, 2008; 7:40 PM
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa -- Zimbabwe's regime got a taste of the
international isolation critics say it deserves, with its neighbors blocking
a shipment of Chinese arms to prevent them from being used against Robert
Mugabe's opponents. China said Tuesday the weapons might be returned home.
Union, church and human rights leaders across southern Africa rallied
against allowing the Chinese freighter An Yue Jiang to dock at ports in any
of landlocked Zimbabwe's neighbors, and they were bolstered by
behind-the-scenes pressure from the United States.
In the end, governments usually unwilling to criticize Mugabe barred the
ship at a time when Zimbabwe's government is being accused of cracking down
On Tuesday, church leaders in Zimbabwe said people were being tortured,
abducted and murdered in a campaign of retribution against opposition
supporters following the March 29 election, and urged international
In Washington, the State Department said it had urged countries in southern
Africa _ notably South Africa, Mozambique, Angola and Namibia _ not to allow
the ship to dock or unload. It also asked the Chinese government to recall
the vessel and not to make further weapons shipments to Zimbabwe until the
postelection crisis is resolved.
China insisted the shipment of mortar grenades, ammunition and other weapons
was part of "normal military product trade between the two countries,"
Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said.
"As far as I know, the carrier is now considering carrying back the cargo,"
Patrick Craven, spokesman for a South African trade union federation, which
helped lead the campaign, called it a "historic victory" that he hoped would
encourage Zimbabweans and lead to more grass-roots campaigns against Mugabe.
"So far the governments have clearly been lagging behind the people," Craven
said. "We're hoping now they will wake up."
A spokesman for Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai welcomed the
development. "It would be pleasing to the people of Zimbabwe to note that
there has been solidarity on the continent to stop the arming of the
(Mugabe) regime at the expense of the people," said the aide, Nelson
When the ship arrived in South Africa last week, the government said there
was no legal reason to stop its cargo from being unloaded and shipped on to
Zimbabwe. There is no international arms embargo against Zimbabwe.
The Southern Africa Litigation Center, a South Africa-based human rights
group, persuaded a judge to bar the weapons from transiting South Africa to
reach Zimbabwe. The ship then sailed away from South Africa, and private
groups and government officials in Mozambique, Angola and Namibia also
objected to the weapons.
Nicole Fritz, director of the center, said she believed Zimbabwe's neighbors
were not changing policy but were responding to pressure from civic groups
and the United States. She was particularly critical of South Africa, whose
President Thabo Mbeki was chosen by regional leaders to mediate between
Mugabe and his opponents and who has counseled against confronting Mugabe.
"The South African authorities' actions over this past week ... suggest that
South Africa cannot be perceived to be a good faith mediator," she said,
noting the Zimbabwean opposition has asked that Mbeki step aside.
Over 200 African bar associations, human rights groups and other independent
organizations met Monday in Tanzania and issued a demand that the African
Union get involved in Zimbabwe's crisis, saying the southern African
regional grouping that had appointed Mbeki mediator is not doing enough.
The Zimbabwe crisis "is serious enough that the AU must get involved and it
must de dealt with at a continental level because this is an issue that has
strong implications for the continent," Eleanor Sisulu of Crisis in Zimbabwe
Coalition told The Associated Press Tuesday.
The State Department also is urging governments in the region to step up
pressure on Mugabe's government to release the long-delayed results of the
election and said the top U.S. diplomat for Africa, Jendayi Frazer, would
leave Washington Tuesday for talks in Angola, South Africa and Zambia.
The Bush administration also pressured Zimbabwe's neighbors to turn away the
"Right now, clearly, is not the time that we would want to see anyone
putting additional weapons or additional material into this system when the
situation is so unsettled and when we have seen real and visible instances
of abuses committed by the security forces," deputy spokesman Tom Casey told
He added that China had been encouraged in a message delivered by U.S.
diplomats in Beijing "to halt this shipment" and "to refrain from making
Mugabe's deputy information minister, Bright Matonga, said Tuesday his
country had the right to acquire arms from legitimate sources. "We are not a
rebel country," he told The Associated Press.
The opposition says post-election violence had displaced 3,000 people,
injured 500 and left 10 dead.
Chamisa, the opposition spokesman, said he visited a hospital in
southeastern Zimbabwe on Monday where he saw cases of people injured in
postelection violence, including a pregnant woman who had a "wound in her
womb" after being stabbed. He said he also saw an 85-year-old woman whose
legs had been broken.
Mugabe's officials said such reports could not be confirmed, adding that if
there had been such violence, the opposition could be to blame.
Associated Press writers Christopher Bodeen in Beijing, Celean Jacobson in
Johannesburg and Tom Maliti in Nairobi, Kenya, contributed to this report.
National Post, Canada
National Post Published: Saturday, April 19, 2008
We know most of our readers need no further proof that inter -nationalist
organizations such as the Commonwealth, the United Nations and the African
Union (AU) are nothing more than toothless debating societies. But those few
who need more convincing need look no further than Zimbabwe. Robert Mugabe
is stealing last month's elections in plain sight, and not one of the major
talk-shops is lifting a finger to stop him.
Sunday will mark three weeks since Zimbabweans voted for a parliament and
president, and still the official results have not been released. The
country's national election commission, appointed by Mr. Mugabe, has offered
no convincing explanation for the delay, fuelling speculation that the
results favour the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), and that
the commission is merely stalling
The world community has essentially washed its hands of Zimbabwe's crisis
until it can stuff enough ballot boxes to swing the tallies back in favour
of Mr. Mugabe's socialist ZANU-PF party.
This weekend will be crucial. If Zimbabwe's courts -- also full of Mugabe
appointees --permit the election commission to go ahead with recounts in the
22 constituencies whose results are disputed by Mr. Mugabe's followers, but
not in the 60 challenged by the MDC, then by Monday it may be possible for
ZANU-PF and Mr. Mugabe to claim re-election.
The local results that trickled out after the March 29 election showed the
main opposition winning 109 of 210 parliamentary seats to ZANUPF's 97.
Meanwhile, MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai captured just over 50% of the
presidential ballots, while Mr. Mugabe received just under 50%. With such
slim margins, it would not be necessary for Mr. Mugabe's handpicked
commissioners to rig the vote much to reverse the results in his favour.
(Even if the Mugabefriendly courts rule against the recounts he has
demanded, the election commission says it will go ahead, another sure sign
that Mr. Mugabe and his cronies are intent on winning at all costs.)
So where are the Commonwealth, the UN and the AU? They have each essentially
washed their hands of the crisis. They all claim to have ceded
responsibility for breaking the Zimbabwean impasse to the Southern African
Development Community (SADC), an emerging union of 14 nations in the region,
patterned after the EU.
But the SADC is dominated by South Africa, and South African President Thabo
Mbeki is an old chum of Mr. Mugabe's. It is no coincidence that the SADC
last week appointed Mr. Mbeki to broker a deal between Mr. Mugabe and his
opponents, nor that Mr. Mugabe has felt free to crack down on the opposition
in the days since, arresting scores of MDC officials and accusing Mr.
Tsvangirai of treason, an offence punishable by death in Zimbabwe.
By off-loading responsibility to Mr. Mbeki, the Commonwealth, UN and AU
have, for all intents and purposes, given their blessing to Mr. Mugabe's
electoral theft. Mr. Mbeki is too cozy with Mr. Mugabe to force his old
anti-colonial warrior-in-arms to play fair, and the large international
organizations knew this when they agreed to step aside for the SADC.
On Friday, in a bizarre speech filled with the sort of conspiracy theories
that Mr. Mugabe is fond of peddling whenever his iron rule is jeopardized,
the 84-year-old strongman claimed that under his opponents, Zimbabwe would
"go back to white people, to the British."
Many Zimbabweans no doubt wish this were true. Since independence in 1980,
the annual income of the average Zimbabwean has fallen from $1,200 to under
$500. Unemployment is currently as high as 80%, and inflation is well over
120,000%. Mr. Mugabe's land reforms, corruption and flights of
central-planning fantasy are the reason, but the President has instead
blamed his problems on foreign (especially British) conspirators.
As clownish as Mr. Mugabe's threats are, the joke is very much on the world
community. For all our moralizing, he will never be forced from office so
long as cowardly international organizations refuse to act against him. And
Zimbabwe will never be able to recover so long as the international
community timidly leaves Mr. Mugabe in power.
Tuesday, Apr. 22, 2008 By MEGAN LINDOW
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe appears increasingly unlikely to allow
the election he appears to have lost to end his 28-year tenure. Zimbabwe
Electoral Commission officials on Sunday announced a new delay in the
recounting of votes from 23 of the 210 constituencies in an election held
three weeks ago. Opposition leaders believe the results are being rigged to
deny them victory, but the growing campaign of violent intimidation against
opposition supporters makes it unlikely that the opposition would take
matters to the streets. So the search for a resolution to the crisis has
increasingly shifted the spotlight to the landlocked country's neighbors,
and the extent to which they might pressure Mugabe to respect the
Opposition presidential candidate Morgan Tsvangirai has fled the country,
while 10 opposition activists have been killed and hundreds more injured in
post-election violence — and refugees continue to stream across the border
into South Africa. Despite growing calls from around the region and the
world for the immediate release of the election results, Mugabe appears
unmoved. Last Friday he celebrated the 28th anniversary of Zimbabwean
independence by aiming his wrath against Britain, the former colonial power,
whose bidding he accuses the opposition of doing. "Down with thieves who
want to steal our country," he thundered, in his first speech since the
elections, calling on Zimbabweans to be vigilant "in the face of vicious
British machinations and the machinations of our other detractors, who are
the allies of Britain."
While Britain bluntly accuses Mugabe of "stealing" the election, reactions
from African leaders have been more restrained. On Sunday the African Union
joined the chorus of calls for the immediate release of poll results. Former
United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan also weighed in, calling on
African leaders to find a solution to the situation, which he called "a
serious crisis with impact beyond Zimbabwe." But leaders of the Southern
African Development Community (SADC) kept noticeably quiet on Zimbabwe at a
summit on poverty and development being held in Mauritius — except to ask
South African President Thabo Mbeki to continue to lead mediation efforts on
South Africa is the neighbor with the most leverage over Zimbabwe because of
economic ties, but President Mbeki has stuck fast to his policy of "quiet
diplomacy," refusing to apply visible pressure on Mugabe. Still, Mbeki's
political marginalization within his own party, which made him a lame duck
when it chose his arch-rival Jacob Zuma as ANC president last December, has
emboldened critics of his Zimbabwe policy. Trade union members in the South
African port of Durban refused to offload a Chinese ship carrying armaments
for the Zimbabwean government. The vessel, having also been denied entry to
Mozambique and Tanzania, had to leave the port and may be recalled to China,
according to news agencies. And Zambia's President Levy Mwanawasa took the
unprecedented step of urging surrounding countries not to allow the cargo of
weapons to reach Zimbabwe for fear of escalating the crisis.
Analysts believe that only Zimbabwe's neighbors, particularly South Africa,
have the leverage to force Mugabe to resolve the crisis. But Zimbabwe's
neighbors are divided among themselves over how to respond, and all are wary
of an anarchic breakdown that brings thousands more refugees streaming
across the border. Although Mugabe has long traded on his credentials as an
anti-imperialist liberation hero, younger leaders in the region are
exasperated by Mugabe's behavior. On Friday, Botswana's foreign minister,
Phandu Skelemani, broke ranks with his SADC peers to publicly criticize
Mbeki's handling of the crisis and admit that leaders are more concerned
about the situation than is reflected in their public statements.
Referring to the extraordinary SADC summit called the previous weekend to
discuss Zimbabwe, he said: "Everyone agreed that things are not normal,
except Mbeki... But now he understands that the rest of SADC feels this is a
matter of urgency and we are risking lives and limbs being lost. He got that
message clearly." Still, Mugabe can count on a more sympathetic hearing from
such liberation-era stalwarts as Angola's President Eduardo Dos Santos.
Although Mugabe may be vulnerable to pressure from his neighbors, analysts
doubt that member states of the SADC will agree on any decisive action that
could force him to go. South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki and other
leaders have previously given Mugabe political cover by endorsing the
results of previous elections that have looked questionable to international
observers. "The one thing Mugabe has been able to do is rely on the support
of the region," says Elizabeth Sidiropoulos, national director of the South
African Institute for International Affairs. "So, the question is, at what
point do Mugabe and the [Zimbabwean] security forces think that the tide has
South Africa holds the ultimate leverage over Zimbabwe, because, as the
country's electricity supplier, it could simply turn out the lights. But
shutting down Zimbabwe would be considerably more painful for Mugabe's
long-suffering people than for the aging autocrat himself, and the resulting
refugee crisis would put a destabilizing strain on both South Africa and
other neighbors. Yet Chris Maroleng, a Zimbabwe expert at the Institute for
Security Studies in Pretoria, expects that regional leaders will toughen
their stance in time. "Following the recount [of votes in Zimbabwe], we will
probably see some kind of cohesive strategy to deal with Zimbabwe," he says.
"As the situation worsens in Zimbabwe, [regional leaders] will increasingly
see Mugabe as a liability." That, and the precarious state of Zimbabwe's
finances, may yet change the country's political calculus.
06:35 GMT, Wednesday, 23 April 2008 07:35 UK
The leader of South Africa's governing ANC, Jacob Zuma, is in London for talks with UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown expected to centre on Zimbabwe.
Ahead of their meeting, Mr Zuma said the delay in publishing election results in Zimbabwe was unacceptable.
He also urged leaders of African countries to do more to break the political deadlock in Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe's electoral commission has still not issued the results of the March's presidential election.
The opposition MDC says its candidate, Morgan Tsvangirai, won the poll outright and it accuses supporters of the ruling Zanu-PF of voter intimidation and beatings ahead of an expected second round.
On Tuesday, church leaders in Zimbabwe called for international action to prevent post-election violence developing into genocidal proportions.
On arrival in London, Mr Zuma denounced the violence and called for the speedy release of election results.
But, in a BBC interview, he insisted South African President Thabo Mbeki's mediation efforts had done more to help the situation than Western countries' sanctions.
Mr Mbeki has previously faced accusations of taking too soft a line with Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe.ZIMBABWE'S NEIGHBOURS
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe has been under fire over March's disputed elections. His neighbours have been supportive but regional differences are now emerging.
South Africa's President Mbeki is the key Zimbabwe mediator. He has refused to criticise Robert Mugabe but the ruling ANC, and trade unions have urged him to take a stronger line.
Zambian President Mwanawasa has taken the region's strongest line on Zimbabwe. His call for Africa not to let a ship carrying weapons to Zimbabwe dock will outrage President Mugabe.
Angola's government has close ties to Zimbabwe's ruling party - both came to power after fighting colonial rule in the 1970s.
Botswana is not seen as an ally of Robert Mugabe. Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai fled here after polls.
Namibia is a close ally of Zimbabwe - it too is planning to redistribute white-owned farms to black villagers.
Mozambique has hosted some white farmers forced from Zimbabwe and is seen as relatively sympathetic to Zimbabwe's opposition.
Tanzania's ruling party has a long history of close ties to Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party and is unlikely to criticise him.
DR Congo's President Joseph Kabila is an ally of Robert Mugabe, who sent troops to help his father, Laurent Kabila, fight rebels.
Malawi is seen as neutral. But some 3m people of Malawian origin are in Zimbabwe, mostly farmworkers who have lost their jobs and were sometimes assaulted during farm invasions.
Mr Zuma also refused in the interview to lay any blame for the crisis on President Mugabe.
His reluctance to speak out while in London is perhaps understandable, says BBC diplomatic correspondent Bridget Kendall, as it is British hostility which Mr Mugabe claims is the root cause of the problem.
Post-election violence in Zimbabwe has displaced 3,000 people, injured 500 and left 10 dead, according to MDC secretary general Tendai Biti.
Human rights groups say they have found camps where people are being tortured for having voted "the wrong way".
But Zimbabwe's Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa denies that anyone had died in political violence.
Zuma calls for African mission to Zim
The Herald, Port Elizabeth
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