By Ndimyake Mwakalyele
26 April 2008
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission on Saturday released the results of
recounts in 18 of 23 constituencies where initial counts were challenged,
saying no outcomes had changed, leading observers to conclude that the
combined opposition Movement for Democratic Change would retain the house
majority it claimed in recent elections.
Electoral Commission Chairman George Chiweshe meanwhile told journalists
that his panel's "recount" of presidential election results would be
completed by Monday, but that he could not say when the final presidential
outcome would be made public. He said numerous errors on forms filed by
electoral agents obliged his commission to carry out extensive recounts of
presidential ballots to complete the count.
Chiweshe's commission has drawn scathing criticism at home and abroad for
failing to deliver the presidential outcome nearly a month after the March
29 election, leading some to accuse it of colluding with the government of
President Robert Mugabe to suppress the election results to permit ballot
rigging on a massive scale.
Chiweshe said that once his commission had finalized its presidential
results, it would hold consultations with all political parties concerned to
obtain their acknowledgement and acceptance of the outcome. The opposition
Movement for Democratic Change of Morgan Tsvangirai is adamant that he
obtained an outright majority in the poll.
Meanwhile, human rights groups expressed concern over mounting violence
related to the elections as rural communities which backed the opposition in
the elections came under attack by ZANU-PF youth militia, war veterans and
in some cases soldiers.
International watchdog Human Rights Watch accused the Zimbabwean government
of sponsoring the violence, urging the African Union to take action in the
"President Robert Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party and state security forces have
sharply intensified a campaign of organized terror and torture against
opposition activists and ordinary Zimbabweans," Human Rights Watch stated.
The organization's director for Africa, Georgette Gagnon, told reporter
Ndimyake Mwakalyelye of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that her organization
issued the report in response to the worsening of conditions in Zimbabwe's
In one of the latest incidents of violence, 18 opposition members were
severely assaulted in rural Hwange, Matabeleland North, by alleged ZANU-PF
sponsored war veterans and fled to Victoria Falls to seek refuge.
Opposition member and Hwange victim, Max Mpofu related his ordeal to
reporter Marvellous Mhlanga-Nyahuye of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe.
The mounting violence against opposition supporters in rural areas and a
police raid on MDC headquarters Friday in Harare has stoked international
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown on Saturday urged the international
community to denounce the "climate of fear" that he said has enveloped
Mr. Brown said he'll seek further discussion of the crisis in the United
Nations Security Council next week Tuesday. United Nations spokesman Farhan
Haq told VOA that Council members have asked the U.N. Secretariat to brief
them on the situation.
Political science Professor John Makumbe of the University of Zimbabwe told
reporter Ndimyake Mwakalyelye that Mr. Brown's statement was overdue in
light of the violence that appeared to be continuing to rise across the
The Electoral Commission has not awarded any more seats won by the
opposition to Zanu-PF
Tracy McVeigh, foreign editor
Sunday April 27 2008
Robert Mugabe has been unable to win back control of Zimbabwe's parliament
after a partial recount of the 29 March election results failed to overturn
any of the original results that gave the opposition the majority of seats.
It means the first defeat in 28 years for Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF party
after Zimbabwe's electoral commission (ZEC) yesterday released seven more
results from the recount, changing none. It brings to 13 the number of seats
recounted, with 10 remaining to be declared - all in strong opposition-held
areas. Zanu-PF would need to win nine to regain control.
Results have still not been released from the parallel presidential poll
which the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) says its leader
Morgan Tsvangirai won, beating Mugabe outright. Independent monitors
estimate that Tsvangirai won, but fell just short of the 50 per cent
threshold to avoid a run-off. The MDC accuses Mugabe of delaying results to
rig his victory and has rejected any run-off.
The failure to announce the results, four weeks on from the vote, is causing
mounting concern internationally. But late yesterday afternoon the electoral
commission said it would invite presidential candidates to verify the
results from Monday, before they are released. 'We trust that by Monday this
process will have been concluded,' said ZEC chairman George Chiweshe. 'I
can't say exactly when the results will come.'
Reporters in Zimbabwe say the electoral commission is making the process
extremely difficult to follow, and results are being issued in a haphazard
manner. The announcements came after a week of escalating attacks on
opposition supporters - Tsvangirai is staying out of the country at the
moment because of fears about his safety.
On Friday, armed riot police raided the MDC headquarters and detained scores
of people in the toughest measures against the opposition since the
elections. Computers and documents were seized in the raid.
The MDC says its activists have been attacked around the country - with at
least 10 killed. The police claim that no one has died.
Gordon Brown yesterday called for a United Nations mission to inspect human
rights abuses. Brown, who is seeking an arms embargo on Mugabe's Zanu-PF
party, said Britain would step up diplomatic efforts ahead of this week's
Security Council meeting on the former British colony.
'The coming days will be critical. We will intensify international action
around a Security Council discussion on Tuesday. We will press for a UN
mission to investigate the violence and human rights abuses,' he said in a
statement. 'The whole international community must speak up against the
climate of fear in Zimbabwe.'
Zimbabweans are enduring severe shortages of basic goods and an inflation
rate of 165,000 per cent - the world's highest. The state-run Herald
newspaper called African leaders 'myopic stooges' for joining western
criticism of Zimbabwe's handling of the election.
Mugabe is beginning to lose regional diplomatic support over the delay in
announcing the results and his attempts to retain power through force. His
former allies in the Southern African Development Community last week united
in condemning him and barred an arms shipment from being unloaded, causing
the ship to be recalled to China. Defiant Zanu-PF officials claimed there
was no shortage of arms already in or reaching the country.
'I think for the first time, at a very crucial moment, Mugabe is losing
diplomatic support in the region and without that support his ability to
survive politically is diminished,' said Eldred Masunungure, a professor of
political science at the University of Zimbabwe.
The Sunday Times
April 27, 2008
Thousands flee crackdown
Christina Lamb and John Makura in Harare
Scores of children and babies have been locked up in filthy prison cells in
Harare as Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe’s president, sinks to new depths in his
campaign to force the opposition into exile before an expected run-off in
Twenty-four babies and 40 children under the age of six were among the 250
people rounded up in a raid on Friday, according to Nelson Chamisa,
spokesman for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). Yesterday
they were crammed into cells in Southerton police station in central Harare.
“This is ruthlessness of the worst kind. How can you incarcerate children
whose mothers have fled their homes hoping to give their children refuge?”
asked an emotional Chamisa yesterday. “In Mugabe’s Zimbabwe even children
are not spared the terror that befalls their parents.”
The families were rounded up from MDC headquarters, where they had sought
refuge from violence in the countryside.
Thought to be directed by top military officers, Operation Where Did You Put
Your Cross? has prompted thousands to flee. They are trying to escape the
so-called war veterans, who are attacking people and burning down hundreds
of houses for voting “incorrectly” in last month’s elections.
“What we’re seeing is an undeclared civil war,” said Chamisa. “It’s
genocide. This situation is out of control, it’s now beyond the capacity of
the MDC alone. It requires the region, the continent, the international
community to act.”
Four weeks after the elections, official results have still not been
released for presidential polls widely thought to have been won by Morgan
Tsvangirai, the MDC leader.
Simultaneous parliamentary elections saw the ruling Zanu-PF party lose its
28-year-long majority. The election commission is engaged in the recount of
23 constituencies after regime claims that they had been rigged by the
opposition. None of the results has been overturned in the 14 so far
announced. Even if the remaining nine were to go to Zanu-PF it still would
not have won a majority.
While some Zimbabweans see a glimmer of hope in this, Mugabe has remained
defiant in the face of international condemnation. Most expect the regime to
announce that no candidate won a majority in the presidential election and
to order a run-off next month which Mugabe will ensure that he wins.
“The only game in town is a run-off,” said George Sibotshiwe, Tsvangirai’s
spokesman. “The recount was just to buy them time to smash people’s heads
in, so when they go for a run-off nobody will even be thinking of voting.”
The regime’s strategy is to ensure that by the time of the run-off, Mugabe
would have a clean sweep in rural areas, where 70% of Zimbabweans live. A
police officer admitted yesterday that he had been instructed not to
interfere with war veterans as they carry out their campaign of terror.
At the same time the opposition leadership has been driven into hiding or
abroad. Tsvangirai fled Zimbabwe two weeks ago after he was charged with
treason for “conspiring with the British to oust Mugabe”.
“I am unable to return home for fear of my life,” he wrote in The Washington
Post last week.
On the ground the party’s network of district officials is being decimated.
Tichanzii Gandanga, the MDC election agent for Harare province, can barely
walk after he was beaten and left for dead.
Four men arrived at his offices in central Harare at about 6pm on Wednesday.
“They told me I knew my crimes and so I had to confess,” said Gandanga.
“They blindfolded me, bundled me into a truck, then drove for a long
distance, beating me on the head, on the back, everywhere. They played loud
music so that no one could hear my cries. I don’t know how I survived.”
As he was being beaten, Gandanga was questioned about the whereabouts of
Tsvangirai. Eventually he was dumped in the bush. He managed to crawl to a
main road where he was picked up and taken to the head of a nearby village.
For two days Gandanga was nursed by villagers. Eventually he got word to his
relatives who moved him to a private hospital.
Ten people have been killed so far, according to the MDC, including a
five-year-old boy who was burnt to death in a hut. The first victim on April
12 was Tapiwa Mubwanda, 54, the organising secretary for the MDC for
According to his widow they were on their way back to their village when
they saw a group of Zanu-PF youth militia. While she fled into the bush with
their children, her husband and his elder brother were beaten with rocks.
“They said, ‘You voted for the MDC, now we want to do this in order to teach
you to vote. You wasted your vote by voting for Tsvangirai. He will never be
the president of Zimbabwe. Robert Mugabe will remain, so we want to teach
you to vote’.”
When she crept out of hiding her husband was dead.
Another MDC activist, Manyika Kashiri, 55, of Chigumbu village in Uzumba,
had his foot smashed by an axe when militias stormed into his shack at
midnight on Tuesday. Kashiri woke after a bang at his door and rocks
smashing against his windows. When he emerged, he was hit with a log by one
of the militias and another tried to chop off his right foot with an axe in
front of his grandchildren, one of whom was just four.
“We’re seeing a major increase in government-sponsored violence,” said
Georgette Gagnon, Africa director at Human Rights Watch.
“The ruling party has been sending its allies after people it thinks voted
for the opposition. Now anyone seen as opposing Mugabe is in danger.”
One activist, a 25-year-old fitter in hiding in Bulawayo, told The Sunday
Times how he and two colleagues had been picked up by intelligence officers
and forced to eat a poster of Tsvangirai. “You like him so much, now eat
him,” they told him.
“Every day that passes, hope is seeping away,” said an aid worker in
Zimbabwe. “This could very easily end up being yet another stolen election.”
Zimbabwe’s churches said yesterday that they had opened up their premises to
victims of the violence.
Church leaders worldwide have declared today to be a day of prayer for
Zimbabwe. “The current climate of political intimidation, violence,
vote-rigging and delay has left the presidential election process without
credibility,” read a statement from two senior Anglican archbishops, Rowan
Williams and John Sentamu. “Now the people of Zimbabwe are left even more
vulnerable to conflict heaped upon poverty and the threat of national
International pressure has continued. The top US envoy for Africa, Jendayi
Frazer, assistant secretary of state, has declared Tsvangirai the clear
winner of the presidential vote.
Tsvangirai has spent the past two weeks travelling round Africa trying to
drum up support to pressure Mugabe to step down. After the weak response
from Thabo Mbeki, the South African president, focus has shifted to the
African Union (AU). Its chairman Jikaya Kikwete, president of Tanzania, has
privately said that he would be willing to consider convening a summit on
Britain is hoping to get the United Nations involved and has managed to put
Zimbabwe on the agenda of the UN security council this week. Proposals
include an arms embargo and sending a UN envoy to Harare “with a tough
At the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair in Bulawayo on Friday, Mugabe was
defiant. “When the West, led by the British, shamelessly continue to
denounce our country, what is our crime?” he asked. “We are simply defending
our hard-won national sovereignty.”
The Sunday Times
April 27, 2008
Michael Sheridan, Far East Correspondent
The boycott of a Chinese ship laden with weapons for Zimbabwe has cast new
light on the connections between the African country’s president, Robert
Mugabe, and a secretive Chinese arms-trading firm with a controversial track
record from the Congo to Darfur.
The ship steamed towards China last week after dock workers in Durban
refused to unload it and a South African court blocked the transit of its
cargo of mortar and small arms ammunition.
The 15,000-tonne An Yue Jiang is registered in the southern city of
Guangzhou and has been operated for about 20 years by Cosco, a state-owned
When Levy Mwanawasa, the president of Zambia, called on every country in the
region to reject it, the ship became an embarrassment to Beijing, which has
made a huge political and financial investment in Africa.
Company documents show that Poly Technologies, the manufacturer of the
weapons on board the ship, is ultimately controlled by a clique from China’s
preeminent military clans with close ties to the Communist party leadership
Major General He Ping, the company’s chairman, is the son-in-law of Deng
Xiaoping, the former Chinese leader; its president, Wang Jun, is the son of
a vice-president and a Deng ally. Its upper ranks are stuffed with military
veterans and their offspring, who have greatly enriched themselves with arms
sales to some of Africa’s bloodiest trouble spots.
Diplomatic sources say Mugabe forged links with the Poly Technologies
management on state visits to China. Since Zimbabwe is all but bankrupt, the
arms are paid for by barters of agricultural products and raw materials.
On paper, Poly Technologies is a subsidiary of the China International Trust
and Investment Corporation. Analysts of Chinese financial affairs say,
however, that Poly is actually a front for an elite within the country’s
military-industrial complex and that it reports to the general staff
department of the People’s Liberation Army.
“People call it the supreme headquarters of the China princeling party,”
commented one analyst. “It’s a power centre beyond civilian control.”
Although Poly discloses almost no financial details, its customers for small
arms and ammunition include Sudan and Burma. Chinese AK-47 assault rifles
made by Poly have turned up in the war-torn eastern Congo, among other
African battlefields. Its other sales include short-range and medium-range
ballistic missiles to Iran and Pakistan.
In 1996 Poly was named by prosecutors in connection with an attempt to
smuggle 2,000 AK47s into the United States.
“China has done nothing wrong with regard to weapons exports to Zimbabwe,”
said Guo Xiaobing, a researcher quoted by the Guangzhou Daily, in the ship’s
“This is only a topic for the western media to use to put pressure on China.
There is no United Nations embargo on arms to Zimbabwe, so China’s business
New York Times
By GRAHAM BOWLEY
Published: April 27, 2008
ZIMBABWE’S political crisis lurched on last week as President Robert Mugabe,
the strongman who has ruled the California-size country in southern Africa
for the past 28 years, refused to release the results of the March 29
elections. In old-fashioned autocratic style, the government’s police began
to round up opposition supporters.
The world is losing patience, but Mr. Mugabe is only the latest example of
dictators in Africa and elsewhere — some more bloodthirsty than others — who
have overstayed their welcome, and whom the West have tried to winkle out of
What lessons can be learned from past attempts to oust seemingly immovable
oppressors? Do the lessons apply in the case of Zimbabwe? What are the
options for dealing with Mr. Mugabe?
PAY OFF AND EXILE
This strategy has worked, sort of, before.
In 1997, President Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire, now Congo, the very model of
an African dictator dirty with corruption as his country collapsed around
him, was promised safe passage by his former ally, the United States, and
flew to Morocco. (He died of prostate cancer in exile soon after.)
In July 2003, leaders of the African Union bribed Charles Taylor — a
murderous warlord with folllowers who would hack off the hands or feet of
civilians — to leave Liberia for an early retirement in Nigeria. In similar
fashion, the United States got Ferdinand Marcos to quit the Philippines by
allowing him refuge in a Hawaiian villa.
Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico, who as ambassador to the United Nations
under President Bill Clinton helped ease Mr. Mobuto from Zaire, said he
believed the same strategy could be used with Mr. Mugabe.
“Maybe if he is offered safe passage we will rid ourselves of this despot,”
Yet Congo and Liberia are hardly good examples. Congo has tipped further
into chaos since Mr. Mobuto left. And, despite promises, Nigeria returned
Mr. Taylor to Liberia, which handed him over to an international tribunal to
face charges of war crimes in Sierra Leone. That sequence of events may make
autocrats like Mr. Mugabe think twice before they head for the airport.
SANCTIONS AND ISOLATION
A popular response to noxious regimes (think Castro or early Saddam). But
they only work if the sanctions hurt.
“The greater the ties to the West, the greater the degree to which the elite
is educated in the West and has career prospects in the West, then the
greater the likelihood the coalition behind a regime will crack,” said
Steven Levitsky, professor of government at Harvard University, who has
studied conditions under which autocracies crumble. (Another condition is a
weak internal security apparatus with little stomach for a long fight
against its people — hardly a description of Mr. Mugabe’s battle-hardened
forces, which came of age in a guerrilla liberation war.)
Unfortunately, it’s not clear what extra pain sanctions could exact on
Zimbabwe, where 8 out of 10 people are unemployed and the annual inflation
rate is more than 100,000 percent.
In 1979, armies from Tanzania invaded Uganda and chased out Mr. Amin, a
tyrant said to have sanctioned the murder of close to 300,000.
Yet regime change is perilous, as the United States discovered following its
toppling of Saddam Hussein in Iraq.
In Uganda, the man who replaced Idi Amin — Milton Obote — was arguably
worse. Mr. Obote may have murdered more Ugandans even than his predecessor.
“Intervention is always very difficult in Africa,” said Michael Holman,
former Africa editor of The Financial Times. “If you don’t have a
well-drilled army and decent civil service to fill the gap that threw up the
problem in the first place then you are going to have a disaster on your
In 1998, President Suharto of Indonesia was forced to end his brutal and
corrupt tenure after an economic meltdown, nationwide rioting and the
withdrawal of government and military support. (He went into internal exile
in a modest house in Jakarta, the capital, until his death earlier this
One hope among Zimbabwe watchers is that the moderates in Mr. Mugabe’s
ZANU-PF party turn against him, dissent breaks out in the military, or
ordinary Zimbabweans finally take to the street.
Earlier this year, in the election crisis in Kenya, opposition supporters
streamed from Nairobi’s slums to challenge President Mwai Kibaki’s
declaration of victory in a flawed vote, until he was finally persuaded to
share power with the opposition leader Raila Odinga.
But that may be too much to expect from embattled Zimbabweans. “In Zimbabwe,
extreme poverty has bred utter lethargy,” said Michela Wrong, author of “In
the Footsteps of Mr. Kurtz,” about Congo, and who is writing a book about
the Kenyan crisis.
Indeed, a nationwide strike called by Zimbabwe’s chief opposition party
earlier this month fizzled quickly as people went about their normal
routines, and the party’s leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, isn’t even in the
country, suggesting he may not be prepared to fight or be imprisoned again.
TALK TO HIM
Wary of intervening in a continent where some Africans still perceive Mr.
Mugabe as a liberation hero in the struggle against colonialism, the United
States and the West have largely left the job of negotiating with him to
South Africa, Zimbabwe’s big neighbor and regional power.
Some critics think South Africa has not been sufficiently muscular with Mr.
Mugabe but President Thabo Mbeki says that his “quiet diplomacy” has won
results: the elections went ahead in the first place, and the government
agreed to post the outcome of each count on the outside of local ballot
stations, though the government has withheld the overall results.
Mark Ashurst, director of the Africa Research Institute in London, said that
South Africa also subtly promoted an alternative candidate, Simba Makoni, a
breakaway member of Mr. Mugabe’s party, but that this effort failed after
Mr. Makoni won too few votes.
Gugulethu Moyo, a Zimbabwean lawyer who works for the International Bar
Association in London, said it was time for the outside world to go beyond
hand-wringing and critical statements. Instead, she said, the United Nations
should be sent to scrutinize the actions of the security forces and monitor
any future elections.
One idea is for Kofi Annan, the former secretary general of the United
Nations, to be dispatched to broker an agreement just as he negotiated the
Maybe he could persuade Mr. Mugabe to stay for now but to agree to step down
in two years and hold new elections — a sort of “government of national
unity” trial balloon that was floated by Zimbabwe’s state-run newspaper, The
Herald, this week.
But will Mr. Mugabe take Mr. Annan’s call? Some think not.
Heidi Holland, author of “Dinner With Mugabe: The Untold Story of a Freedom
Fighter Who Became a Tyrant,” argues that the only power he will speak to
now is Britain, Zimbabwe’s former colonial master under whose rule he spent
half his life.
Ms. Holland, who first met Mr. Mugabe in 1975 and interviewed him again last
year, said he was a remote, emotionally immature, dogged, bookish man who is
obsessed with Britain as a kind of parental figure. She said he felt
humiliated because, in his view, Britain reneged on financial commitments he
believed were made at the time of independence in 1980.
For her, the way out of this mess may be more psychological.
“Revenge is a key word for Mugabe,” she says. “He says, I don’t have a
quarrel with the United States, or the United Nations. He wants Britain to
come to him and say: ‘O.K. We will now talk.’ All he wants is recognition.”
By Eddie Cross ⋅ April 26, 2008
When I was just a small boy I heard a huge commotion in the chicken run at
home. I ran out and went in to find that a wild cat had got in and was in
the process of killing chickens. To this day I still have the bite marks on
my hand - but I dealt with the animal and we only lost a couple of birds. I
remember that spitting, snarling bundle of fury very clearly!
From my perspective that is Zanu PF today. Cornered, spitting and snarling
and no match for the forces ranged against them in the chicken run. Lets
just review a few of the major developments in the past 10 days.
First was the arms shipment from China. This was uncovered a week after the
election and when we raised the balloon - and what a story of Gods
intervention that was - a huge outcry ensued. Our friends rushed to the
chicken run and when the hullabaloo was over the cargo was on its way back
to China. What was so significant about this incident was that all our
neighbors came to the rescue - the entire region, including Mozambique,
Namibia and Angola, denied the ship right of entry to their ports. All
former allies of the Zanu PF regime, a clear signal that it was time to
resolve the crisis. It was also a useful message for China itself.
This was quickly followed by the ANC taking over the lead on the Zimbabwe
crisis. Jacob Zuma began to speak out on the issue and the ANC issued a
strongly worded communiqué to the effect that the situation was ‘dire’ and
required urgent attention. The MDC heightened the pressure by coming out and
saying that Mbeki was no longer acceptable as a mediator. We had received
further evidence of his active support and defence of the regime in Harare
and felt that in the light of this new information we could no longer work
through him or his office. These two developments caused a sharp shift in
the stance taken by South Africa and we saw a marked change in the tone and
content of SABC reporting.
Then the regime - cornered and scared, began spitting and snarling at all in
the run. They deployed their brown shirts in a mixture of uniforms, with
weapons, whips and batons and orders to beat and intimidate the opposition.
In 10 days we were dealing with a full-blown crisis - a dozen deaths, some
5000 hapless refugees in the urban areas with many others where their homes
were burned out and lives destroyed. We have had over 500 people admitted to
hospital and many arrests - difficult to know how many at this stage as our
staff are either in detention or on the run and in hiding.
Again we put up a signal for help and this time the Church and the
humanitarian community came running to the chicken run. It has taken them a
bit of time to get organised but I think they are now nearly on top of the
situation and getting help to all the victims. Although the regime has
deployed their thugs to every district in the country, the resulting
violence and intimidation is patchy. This can only be ascribed to unwilling
leadership, reluctance on the part of the actual brown shirts themselves and
fear of local retribution. In fact there has been a fair amount of the
latter and a number of Zanu PF leaders have paid a price for their action.
The Police seem to be taking a much more neutral stance - very welcome and
long overdue. However they are still reluctant to take the wild cats in the
chicken run into detention - perhaps afraid they might bite them!
The noise coming from the chicken run following this development has
attracted others - long time friends in the international community have
intensified their efforts on our behalf. The British Prime Minister traveled
to the UN where under the baleful glare of Thabo Mbeki he made a strong and
unequivocal statement on Zimbabwe. ‘The election had been rigged and the
international community cannot stand by and allow the peoples wishes to be
denied’. He was followed by a string of other leaders including Tanzania and
Botswana and the USA, even Croatia revealed they knew where the chicken run
was and that what was happening in there was unacceptable.
Since then the pressure has grown significantly. Yesterday the American
Under Secretary of State with responsibility for Africa was in South Africa
and stated very clearly that the MDC had won the election and won it
outright and no amount of fudging would change that situation. 4 senior
clerics in South Africa climbed in and said that Mugabe should step down and
allow a democratic transition. Alan Boesak came out swinging and said that
the situation was unacceptable and resembled the old apartheid days in South
Africa - about the strongest language a South African leader can use.
Under this pressure the regime here seems to have buckled. The strident
confident calls for a recount and a runoff are receding. The recount is
achieving nothing - so far they have simply confirmed the results of the
March 29th election. The schools were going to be kept closed until the
re-run took place - now they are reopening on schedule next week. The Herald
and the Chronicle are shifting their position to talks about a unity
government. They need not waste the paper - the MDC is never going to do a
power sharing deal with the devil.
Clearly the recount exercise now has only one objective and that is to give
the regime in Harare more time. What they are doing with the extra time
before they depart the stage is anyone’s guess. I would think they are still
looting and sanitizing their offices and perhaps looking for somewhere to go
where they can be safe and keep their ill-gotten gains. I would think that
if you watched Mengistu in Harare you would see that such moves are afoot.
Today the former President of Zimbabwe is in my hometown opening the
International Trade Fair. It will be his swan song and just for that reason
it should be interesting. What will he say in a City that voted 90.3 per
cent against him! How he can dare to even come to Bulawayo in a region where
he is guilty of thousands of deaths and enormous suffering is just another
example of the phrase the ‘cheek of the devil’. I hope he notes that this
year anyway - that the word ‘international’ should be taken out of the name
of the Fair. ‘Village flea market’ might be more appropriate. Next year will
Eddie Cross is MDC Member of Assembly for Bulawayo South,and the MDC Policy
Coordinator he writes in his personal capacity.
01:59 GMT, Sunday, 27 April 2008 02:59 UK
The Archbishop of York is leading a day of fasting and prayer in
support of the people of Zimbabwe.
Dr John Sentamu, one of the highest members of the Anglican church, is
calling on people to join him in the action in York Minster.
There has been a month of deadlock in Zimbabwe following disputed
In December Dr Sentamu cut up his clerical collar on television and
said he would not replace it until President Robert Mugabe was out of
Dr Sentamu said: "I want as many people as possible to join me at the
Minster to pray for the situation in Zimbabwe and light a candle as a public
demonstration of support for the people there.
"As a Christian community we must all stand together with our brothers
and sisters living under the tyranny of Mugabe and pray that they will find
On Thursday he released a joint statement with the Archbishop of
Canterbury calling for international action to prevent "horrific" violence
In the African country, the party of Mr Mugabe has failed to regain
its parliamentary majority after a partial recount of votes from polls last
The opposition MDC says it also won presidential polls, although those
results remain unreleased.
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) said the presidential results
could be announced after the completion of the recounts, expected by Monday.
Saturday, 26 April 2008 21:00
“I AM dying, can I have some water, even just a drop?” cried the
woman, pounding on a heavy metal door, last Friday.
In vain, she tried to attract the attention of people waiting to have
their luggage cleared, at the Beitbridge border post.
Desperately, she repeatedly called out for help, but before anyone
offered to assist, the truck moved away from the people she might have
expected to be sympathetic to her plight.
About 15 minutes later, another desperate woman made a similar plea as
she knocked on the metal door of another grey truck that stopped abruptly at
the same spot.
“Please, open the door for us!” she shouted. “We want fresh air! We
are suffocating in here!” She was shouting to the driver of the truck, who
was disembarking, clutching official-looking papers, evidently to be used to
clear his “cargo”.
Like the first woman, she and more than 20 others were packed like
sardines in the Tata truck, labelled Polokwane. She did not get any joy. The
driver of the truck would leave five minutes later.
The desperate women were among hundreds of Zimbabweans packed in
trucks transporting illegal immigrants deported from South Africa last week.
The SA government has scaled up the deportation of Zimbabweans in that
country, hardly a month after President Thabo Mbeki declared there was no
crisis in Zimbabwe.
Emerging from a meeting in Harare with President Robert Mugabe two
weeks ago, a smiling Mbeki said he did not think there was a problem in
Zimbabwe, referring to the failure by the authorities to officially release
the results of the presidential elections.
He called for patience, saying electoral officials should be given
time to finish their work.
A visit to Beitbridge border post last week revealed that contrary to
Mbeki’s claims that all was well in Zimbabwe, his government had toughened
its stance against Zimbabweans fleeing the crisis back home.
Information provided by Zimbabweans deported from across the Limpopo
suggests strongly the SA Department of Home Affairs had set up crack teams
that have intensified patrols, rounding up Zimbabweans found loitering on SA
Others were picked up during raids at informal settlements where they
Those caught were not taken to the notorious Lindela detention centre
outside Krugersdorp, west of Johannesburg, as is normally the case. This
time they were quickly loaded into trucks, to be dumped across the Limpopo.
On Independence Day, 18 April, this reporter counted 15 Tata trucks
arriving at the border, packed with Zimbabweans.
The drivers appeared to be in a hurry as they spent less than five
minutes at the border post.
They left their “cargo” at the offices of the International
Organisation for Migration (IOM) in Beitbridge.
Zimbabwe immigration officials reported the trucks had become a common
feature at the border post.
“They used to deport in the past but this looks like a massive
operation,” said one official. “It’s not just the trucks, but they bring
buses as well, full of Zimbabweans. There is no doubt they want Zimbabweans
to return home and sort out the mess in their country.”
He said the Zimbabwean officials were confronted with scenes of
desperation each time the Tata trucks reached the Zimbabwean border.
Hoping they could meet someone they knew who could assist them, the
Zimbabweans in the trucks knocked hard on the doors of the trucks, pleading
They asked for among, other things, water, food and just fresh air.
“From Polokwane (more than 100km away) this truck has not been opened.
We can hardly breathe in here,” one man told this reporter.
“It’s bad in SA. They (SA police) are picking up anyone they suspect
to be Zimbabwean. They told us: go back to your country and rise against
Another said: “They are quick to say: You Zimbabweans have a problem.
You run to SA instead of staying in your country and dealing with Mugabe.
You have to go back for the run-off (election).”
The Standard discovered it was not just Zimbabweans caught up in SA
who found the people unwelcoming.
Genuine travellers intending to cross into SA legally spent long hours
in queues at the border post as they waited to have their passports stamped.
One family joined the queue at around 10AM in the morning but only
managed to cross into SA at 4PM.
They had gone to buy groceries at Musina and hoped they would be back
in Zimbabwe by lunch time.
“I have never seen anything like this,” said Johannes Magara, who was
accompanied by his wife, Grace, and their two-year-old daughter, Natasha.
“The SA immigration officers work as if they have instructions to delay the
entry of Zimbabweans as much as possible. Honestly, how can they serve only
three people in an hour?
“We have been to SA on several shopping errands but we have never
stayed this long in a queue.”
Officials at the SA embassy could not be reached for comment. IOM
officials were also not immediately available for comment.
By Walter Marwizi
Saturday, 26 April 2008 20:57
POLICE on Friday raided the offices of the Zimbabwe Elections Support
Network (ZESN), looking for “subversive material”, sources have told The
The Standard understands the police, reportedly armed with search
warrants, were looking for the chairperson, Noel Kututwa, and ZESN’s
director, Rindai Chipfunde-Vava.
The source said: “They had search warrants and are looking for
subversive material that is likely to cause the overthrow of a
constitutionally elected government.”
The officers, led by Chief Superintendent Makedenge, were armed with
search warrants which entitled them to search for “subversive” materials
including desktop computers and laptop computers containing such materials.
The offences are believed to relate to a violation of section 22(2)(b)
of Zimbabwe’s Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act. These provisions
criminalise supporting or assisting any group to overthrow or attempt to
overthrow the government by unconstitutional means or usurp the functions of
government or to coerce or attempt to coerce the government.
The police were keen to interview Chipfunde-Vava, Kututwa and Irene
Petras, Executive Director ZLHR, sources said. But ZLHR described the police
actions as “harassment and attacks” on legitimate human rights defenders
under the guise of enforcing law and order.
The Standard understands that Kututwa and Chipfunde-Vava could have
gone into hiding as they are unreachable. However, police seized documents
and computers from the ZESN offices and asked a programme officer, Tsungai
Kokerai, to accompany them to Harare Central Police Station, where he was
quizzed for six hours. Police want the ZESN board members to report to
Harare Central Police Station’s Law and Order Section.
By Davison Maruziva
Saturday, 26 April 2008 20:53
BULAWAYO — The Ministry of Information and Publicity and some
government departments did not participate at the just ended 49th edition of
the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair in what observers saw as confusion in
President Robert Mugabe’s reconstituted Cabinet.
Cabinet was dissolved just before the 29 March elections, with Mugabe
controversially reconstituting it after Zanu PF lost its parliamentary
majority to the MDC.
The move described by the MDC as “unlawful” has seen several
government departments failing to operate efficiently as ministers are
reportedly finding it difficult to authorise decisions.
The chaos was evident at the ZITF which ran between Tuesday and
Some traditional side events organised by government departments that
have become synonymous with the trade showcase were cancelled, while some
had to be arranged at the last minute.
On Wednesday — the second day of the fair — Local Government, Public
Works and Urban Development Minister, Ignatious Chombo, recalled mayors
whose term of office expired in March so they could take part in a
traditional procession at the fair’s official opening.
Sources said the government was desperate to present a semblance of
normalcy where Mugabe faced a hostile crowd.
The mayors will resume work until new councils are installed
throughout the country.
But the decision was taken too late to allow Japhet Ndabeni-Ncube, the
former mayor of the city, who lost a bid to represent Bulawayo Central in
Parliament on an MDC (Mutambara) ticket, to host a traditional reception for
exhibitors on the eve of the fair.
But it was the no-show by the Ministry of Information and Publicity,
which since its creation under former minister, Jonathan Moyo, tried to use
the fair to repair the government’s soiled image that sent tongues wagging.
Sources said its non-participation was as a result of a rift between
the minister, Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, and his secretary George Charamba, which
allegedly deteriorated further after Zanu PF’s electoral defeat.
Charamba is reportedly blaming Zanu PF’s defeat on the State media,
which he accuses of giving the MDC too much publicity in the run-up to the
polls and wants managers at Zimpapers and ZBC replaced.
On the other hand, Ndlovu is said to be backing the status quo.
“It seems someone wanted to show the minister that he was in charge
because Charamba is one of the people who were in favour of the fair being
postponed,” said the source.
“On Wednesday Ndlovu even called State media journalists for a press
conference at the stand because he was not informed that the ministry would
not be taking part.
“He had to cancel the conference altogether and he was very
Contacted for comment, Ndlovu denied that there was confusion in his
ministry, claiming that people who were supposed to oversee the stand had
been deployed to monitor the ongoing election recounts.
He said the government never considered postponing the fair, adding it
had been successful. Charamba could not be reached for comment.
Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister, Patrick Chinamasa,
said the cabinet was still able to make decisions on behalf of the
Mugabe officially opened the fair on Friday for the second year
running at a low key ceremony after the government failed to invite a
foreign guest of honour.
Traditionally, the Ministry of Industry and International Trade
invites foreign leaders for the official opening.
By Kholwani Nyathi
Saturday, 26 April 2008 20:50
AN MDC activist was shot dead and seven others were injured on Friday
in Manicaland after soldiers and war veterans opened fired on them as they
demanded the release of their colleagues, whom the soldiers had allegedly
abducted and tortured.
Yesterday the MDC said Tabith Marume was shot in the stomach and died
before admission at Mutare General Hospital while the other victims were
treated at a private clinic in the town.
The shooting occurred in Makoni West constituency.
A doctor, who asked not to be named, confirmed the shooting and the
MDC Manicaland provincial spokesperson, Pishai Muchauraya, confirming
the death, said Marume’s body was taken to Mutare General Hospital.
Muchauraya, the House of Assembly Member for Makoni South, said the
MDC supporters confronted war veterans and soldiers at Manonga School, to
demand that they release other opposition supporters they had allegedly
abducted two days earlier.
Muchauraya said the school had been turned into a “base” by war
veterans, youth militia and the army, where they tortured opposition
supporters for voting against President Robert Mugabe in last month’s
“There was information the abducted supporters were being tortured. So
their colleagues went there to rescue them, but as soon as they arrived they
were showered with bullets,” Muchauraya said.
The MDC said they were treating Marume’s death as murder and the
culprits must be brought to book.
“We treat it as part of the on-going genocide by Zanu PF. We hope
justice will take it course very soon.”
He said what Mugabe was doing to the people of Zimbabwe were “gasps of
a dying dictator”.
Police chief spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena said he was still to verify
the incident. “Call me after two hours I will have checked for you,” he
But his mobile phone went unanswered when contacted later.
By Caiphas Chimhete
Saturday, 26 April 2008 20:45
THE United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), has sounded alarm bells
on the unfolding humanitarian crisis caused by the delay in announcing the
results of the Presidential election.
James Elder, the agency’s chief communications officer, said last week
UNICEF’s regular programmes were currently being negatively affected by the
He said: “UNICEF recently contacted 27 NGOs who help implement
programmes for children, and found almost half had virtually suspended such
activities. Most chose to do so out of ‘current uncertainties’.”
In its response, UNICEF says it is increasing visits by its programme
staff to projects and encouraging partners to quickly reactivate all
programmes for children.
“We cannot let children suffer because of the political crisis.
They need us more than ever. We expect to reach more than 150 000
orphans in April and May with packages of health, nutrition and education
support,” said Elder.
“In addition, this month we will continue to provide populations
suffering severe water shortages with emergency water treatment chemicals,
new boreholes and water purification tablets, in areas from Bulawayo to
Gender programme co-ordinator for ActionAid Zimbabwe, Virginia
Muwaningwa, said the impasse will further burden women as they struggle to
put food on the table for their families.
Muwaningwa said the displacement of families was worrying because it
would affect HIV treatment programmes of patients on Antiretrovirals.
“We have a serious humanitarian crisis on our hands.
If someone flees to Harare from Muzarabani and they had been
collecting their ARVs at a hospital or clinic near them, where will they get
the drugs when they come here? This crisis is going to scuttle a lot of HIV
and Aids programmes.”
The Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCOZ) says it is disturbed by the
unfolding post-election violence caused by the delay in announcing the
This is the first time that the WCOZ has spoken out openly about the
political impasse, alleged by the MDC to have led to the death of at least
13 of their supporters.
Speaking at the end of two-day post-election meeting on Wednesday last
week, national co-ordinator of the WCOZ, Netsai Mushonga, said the
deteriorating human rights situation was a cause for concern.
Mushonga said the coalition was particularly concerned by the heavy
presence of armed forces within communities, and statements being made by
These were “fanning violence” and delays in concluding electoral
matters brought before the courts, she said.
“We reiterate the long-standing position of civil society
organizations that the failure by duty-bearers to respect the rights of all
citizens is the greatest threat to peace, democracy and development in
Zimbabwe,” she said.
By Bertha Shoko
Saturday, 26 April 2008 20:41
THE ailing health sector suffered yet another blow last Monday when
junior doctors at public hospitals went on strike, demanding delivery of the
cars they were promised by the Reserve Bank and Zanu PF in the run-up to
last month’s elections.
Two days before the 29 March elections, Zanu PF and the central bank
joined in what they grandly called Phase 1 of the Medical Sector Revival and
Skills Retention Programme.
Under the programme, hospitals received ambulances, buses, TV sets and
generators to light up hospitals and clinics.
Senior and middle-level doctors, senior nursing staff and other health
professionals were promised 450 new vehicles as part of plans to retain
The vehicles were paraded at a lavish function held before the
elections at Harare Hospital, where President Robert Mugabe was the guest of
Amon Siveregi, the president of Hospital Doctors Association confirmed
to The Standard last week junior doctors from four major government
hospitals had not received the cars.
He said they would be on strike until they were given the cars.
The doctors’ strike last week resulted in patients being turned away
at Parirenyatwa and Harare Hospitals.
Mpilo and United Bulawayo Hospitals in Bulawayo are also affected by
“The strike started last week and we are not going back to work until
we are given the cars we were promised,” Siveregi said.
He criticised Health and Child Welfare Minister, David Parirenyatwa
and his permanent secretary, Edward Mabhiza over the non-delivery of the
“We reached an agreement we would be given those cars, but
surprisingly they were given to senior doctors only.
They already have cars. Is that fair? These two men, Parirenyatwa and
Mabhiza, should learn to fulfill their promises,” Siveregi said.
Parirenyatwa and Mabhiza could not be reached for comment by the time
of going to press.
Most government ministers and officials were in Bulawayo for the
Zimbabwe International Trade Fair, which was officially opened on Friday
afternoon by Mugabe.
Siveregi said what angered them most was that senior doctors who
received the cars came to the hospitals only to do consultancy work, as the
junior doctors did most of the work.
“Right now, no one is being treated because there are no doctors. It
is really a pathetic situation, but there is nothing we can do. We want
those cars,” he said.
Doctors and nurses have staged a series of strikes over the past years
as their salaries are continually being eroded by the world’s highest
inflation rate, now surging towards the 200 000% mark.
Many have left and thousands more continue to flee the country in
search of better-paid jobs in South Africa and in Western countries.
The government has barred health workers, and others manning essential
services, from striking but doctors and nurses have often defied the
By Sandra Mandizvidza
Saturday, 26 April 2008 20:37
A two-week investigation by The Standard has shown that while Pastor
Elias Musakwa, who contested the Bikita West House of Assembly constituency
on 29 March under the banner of Zanu PF, has supported communities in
Bikita, this support has not been withdrawn or threatened.
On 13 April, The Standard in an article by its Masvingo-based
reporter, Godfrey Mutimba, wrote that Musakwa had allegedly repossessed
goods he had given to communities in Bikita West, after losing during the 29
A subsequent investigation, following complaints by Musakwa, shows
that among the schools that benefited from his support are Ngondyore Primary
and Gumunyu Primary schools, and not Ngonzvore and Gwindingwi secondary
schools, as reported by The Standard.
The subsequent investigation shows that at no point did Musakwa demand
the support he had rendered to communities or institutions in Bikita West
and that no one could independently verify the report by our reporter.
The Standard is happy to acknowledge that Pastor Musakwa has
consistently supported various schools and institutions in Bikita West over
the past decade and a half in the form of computers and that these gestures
were not motivated by any electoral considerations.
We regret the anguish caused to Pastor Musakwa by our report of 13
April and therefore render our sincere apologies. — Editor.
Saturday, 26 April 2008 20:23
THE international community should challenge the government to allow
an international fact-finding commission to investigate widespread reports
of human rights violations, The Standard has been told.
On Monday the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs,
Patrick Chinamasa and the police challenged anyone with information proving
State-sponsored violence to provide evidence to the police, while the law
enforcement agency dismissed reports that 10 people were killed in
On Friday, the International Bar Association (IBA) said the Southern
African Development Community (Sadc), the African Union and the United
Nations should urgently deploy human rights monitors to independently
observe and report on the escalating political violence in Zimbabwe.
Violence following the 29 March elections has reportedly left at least
10 people dead, hundreds seriously injured and thousands at grave risk of
In a statement, the IBA said the current violence follows a
long-standing pattern of human rights violations carried out by the
government. Abuses are systematic, widespread and egregious, it said.
“It is time for the international community to take effective action
to halt Robert Mugabe’s campaign of violence against those who oppose him,”
said Mark Ellis, executive director of the IBA.
“To date, the international community’s response to the crisis in
Zimbabwe has been feeble, and its condemnation ineffective and
Ellis said an international presence on the ground would help to
protect people “at the mercy of a volatile and dangerous regime”, and would
send a clear message that those responsible for human rights violations
would be held accountable.
Analysts told The Standard yesterday that if the government was
sincere in its challenge for people to produce evidence of human rights
abuses, it would not object to an international fact-finding mission,
possibly led by Sadc.
The IBA statement came amid reports of renewed violence, with the
Zimbabwe Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR) documenting 62 cases of victims of
organised violence and torture during a three-day period from Tuesday to
Thursday last week.
“The numbers quoted under-report the true total as full documentation
such as confirmation of suspected fractures by X-ray of a number of cases
has not yet been completed,” said ZADHR.
“Sixty two cases were assessed and treated, including nine women, one
of whom is 84 years old and sustained serious facial injuries when she was
struck in the face with stones on opening her door to unknown assailants.”
Saturday, 26 April 2008 20:20
BULAWAYO — The recount of votes in the Bulilima East constituency in
Matabeleland South was suspended temporarily last week after losing Zanu PF
candidates held an alleged secret meeting with the Zimbabwe Electoral
ZEC officials were forced to apologise profusely to the opposition MDC
as temperatures reached boiling point over the meeting held outside the
counting centre at Plumtree High School.
MDC (Mutambara) candidates who won the Bulilima East and Bulilima
parliamentary and senatorial seats respectively accused Zanu PF of trying to
manipulate the process, saying the meeting showed the commission was not
Bulilima was among 23 constituencies where recounts were ordered by
the ZEC following Zanu PF claims that its candidates were prejudiced by
deliberate miscounts blamed on polling officers.
The MDC had accused Zanu PF of trying to use the recounts to
manipulate the election outcome so that it can reclaim its parliamentary
At Plumtree High School the recounts almost turned chaotic after Zanu
PF politburo member, Eunice Sandi-Moyo, who lost to Lutho Tapela of the
MDC-Mutambara led protests against the process.
On Saturday last week she told ZEC officials she would ask for another
recount after accusing them of failing to communicate to her key issues
affecting the process.
Matters came to a head on Sunday when Sandi-Moyo, the Zanu PF losing
candidate for Bulilima East, Mathias Ndlovu and several other Zanu PF
supporters held the meeting with the provincial elections officer, Jotham
“We know Zanu PF called for these recounts so that it could try to win
back its parliamentary majority,” said Norman Mpofu, the MDC (Mutambara)
victor in Bulilima East.
“They are now confirming our fears. We had no problems when it came to
council seats because their major preoccupation is winning parliamentary
The recounting was suspended for a few hours until Zanu PF, MDC and
ZEC agreed the complaints should be put in writing.
Nyathi denied Zanu PF was trying to influence the process, insisting
they were not discussing anything related to the elections.
Sandi-Moyo walked out of the counting centre after the dispute,
lashing out at the MDC members: “After all, it was us who called for these
recounts and we have the right to seek clarifications when necessary.”
The Zanu PF officials caused more delays when they asked for each and
every voters’ roll used in the constituency to be cross- checked because
they claimed they had evidence some MDC supporters voted twice.
After the rigorous exercise the results remained unchanged.
The recounts have so far confirmed the results released after the
elections — Zanu PF losing its parliamentary majority to the opposition for
the first time since independence.
By Kholwani Nyathi
Saturday, 26 April 2008 20:16
IN a week that the State media admitted giving currency to faked
documents, the British Embassy in Harare said the alleged letter from the
British Prime Minister to MDC leader, Morgan Tsvangirai and printed in The
Herald on 17 April, was a forgery.
“No such letter, or wider correspondence, exists,” said an embassy
“It reflects this regime’s desperation that Zanu PF and
State-controlled media have resorted to faking documents for crude
propaganda purposes, and not for the first time.”
The statement said The Herald continued to peddle the lie that the
economic and social meltdown in Zimbabwe were caused by external factors.
Zimbabweans were experiencing ever greater hardship as a direct result
of the policies being pursued by the Zimbabwean government, the statement
European Union-targeted measures imposed a visa ban and asset freeze
on President (Robert) Mugabe and 130 named individuals.
On Thursday two weeks ago, The Herald published what it claimed was a
letter from Gordon Brown, offering Morgan Tsvangirai assistance in effecting
The paper suggested Sadc leaders’ recent summit in Lusaka had been
held at the behest of the British.
Brown told the UN in New York recently Zimbabweans sent a strong
message of their commitment to democracy four weeks ago.
“No one believes, having seen the results at polling stations, that
President (Robert) Mugabe has won this election,” Brown said. “A stolen
election would not be a democratic election at all.
“The United Kingdom stands solidly behind democracy and human rights
for Zimbabwe and is ready to help Zimbabweans build a better future.
We are increasingly concerned at reports of beatings and violence
being unleashed against electoral officials and opposition supporters.
The EU and G8 are also united in their condemnation of violence and in
their calls for the results of the presidential election to be released.”
Ten days ago The Herald owned up to knowingly publishing forged
documents purporting to be written by MDC-Morgan Tsvangirai
Secretary-general, Tendai Biti.
Its defence was they were being widely circulated on the Internet.
The Zimbabwe National Editors Forum (Zinef) said the so-called Biti
Memorandum was in the same class as some of history’s most notorious
forgeries such as the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
“If newspapers could knowingly publish a false document of this sort
and pass it off as true, that would reflect a shocking abuse of the public
media,” it said.
Last week Nelson Chamisa, the MDC spokesperson, complained the
government was resorting to crude propaganda being distributed on the
streets of Harare and Bulawayo by Zanu PF and their agents and calling for
violence against the regime and its supporters.
”A pamphlet is being distributed today (Thursday) purporting to come
from the Movement for Democratic Change and advocating violence against
members of Zanu PF and the destruction of their property and businesses,”
“The MDC has never advocated violence in any form. We disassociate
ourselves from the content and purpose of these pamphlets and call on our
members and supporters to continue to observe our peaceful non-violent means
of democratic resistance to the illegal regime led by Robert Mugabe.”
Saturday, 26 April 2008 20:13
BULAWAYO — Renewed invasion of commercial farms by Zanu PF militia and
war veterans took a sinister twist last week when a former police officer
reportedly led touts in invading peri-urban plots.
Matabeleland North, like most provinces, has been in the grip of
political violence blamed on Zanu PF supporters angered by President Robert
Mugabe’s dramatic rejection in the 29 March polls.
But the violence had been confined to rural areas and commercial farms
where war veterans, helped by soldiers, have reportedly beaten up perceived
It emerged last week that several plot holders in the Trenance area on
the outskirts of Bulawayo have been caught up in the violence.
One plot-holder, Moses Sivalo Moyo, who lost a bid for the Bubi-Umguza
Senatorial candidate for the MDC-Morgan Tsvangirai, was on Wednesday left
for dead by so-called war veterans.
Moyo narrated his ordeal at his plot in Umguza, as he nursed a broken
rib and multiple lacerations.
He said he was lucky to be alive after a gang of five touts and the
former police officer pounced on him.
“I have been farming in this area for a very long time and I
co-existed with my white neighbours,” he said.
“When they were forced out at the height of the land reform programme,
we agreed that I would graze my cattle in their paddocks.
“There are people who tried to invade the paddocks and my plot in
2002, but they left without doing any damage.
“Last week, people claiming to be war veterans, led by an
ex-policeman, came here saying they had come to take over the plot and I
told them to go away because I am also a war veteran.”
Moyo, an ex-ZIPRA combatant, said he was furious when, on Wednesday,
he found them vandalising paddock fences.
“They said I was a front for the white farmers, before they ordered me
to remove my cattle,” he said. “I refused and that is when five of them
started beating me all over the body with their fists.”
A request for medical attention for Moyo at a local clinic from
Sauerstown police indicated he sustained severe injuries.
He spent a day at the clinic and now walks with difficulty.
“The only police officers who came here are those we went to collect
from the police station,” Moyo said.
“Despite the fact that they said they know the former policeman as
their former colleague they have not made any arrests.
“He is always loitering at York House in the city centre and some of
those people are known touts.”
The so-called war veterans had left the farm by Friday but Moyo said
his family was living in fear that they would return.
The former policeman could not be reached for comment.
Police spokesman, Wayne Bvudzijena was also not available for comment
as his mobile phone was unreachable.
By Kholwani Nyathi
Saturday, 26 April 2008 20:08
ZIMBABWE Union of Journalists (ZUJ) president Matthew Takaona was
recently severely assaulted by soldiers in Chitungwiza and was treated and
discharged at the Avenues clinic for injuries sustained during the attack.
Takaona, his brother Hector and dozens of other patrons at Chikwanha
hotel were assaulted after nine armed soldiers descended on them.
Takaona said he and his brother arrived at the hotel and were startled
to see patrons scurrying out but before they realised what was going on two
soldiers ordered them to lie down.
Takaona said: “We tried to talk to them but they threatened to shoot
us if we resisted. First, they beat my brother with sjamboks.
They kicked and punched him, accusing him of being a sell-out.
“Then they came to me and beat me, accusing me of being an MDC
supporter going around town boasting of having defeated Zanu PF.”
As Takaona and his brother were being assaulted, seven other soldiers
had trapped and imprisoned other patrons and were beating them up.
After the attack Takaona said they were both asked to get up and empty
their pockets and surrender all their cash.
Takaona said he was appalled by the violent conduct of the army and
all other incidents of violence all over the country
“The fact that these soldiers violated us and many other patrons is
infuriating,” Takaona said. “Mugabe and his government must end these human
“This madness and retribution must stop. If these attacks are
happening in towns and cities, I shudder to think of the situation in the
rural areas. We, as ZUJ, condemn these human rights violations.”
By Bertha Shoko
Saturday, 26 April 2008 20:04
WHEN 55-year-old Manyika Kashiri retired to bed last Tuesday he did
not suspect anything unpleasant would happen to him that night.
He thought it would be another night without incident, anticipating
restful slumber with no nightmares.
But at midnight Kashiri was awakened by a loud bang at the door and
the shattering of window panes as stones rained on his house.
Peeping through the broken windows, Kashiri said his heart sank as the
whole homestead was surrounded by machete-wielding invaders.
Some wielded stones, iron-bars, knobkerries and logs.
There were 50 war veterans and Zanu PF youth militia loyal to
President Robert Mugabe, demanding to know why he had voted for the MDC in
the 29 March elections.
“They demanded I come out or they would destroy the whole house. I
remained in the house for a while.
But as I feared the stones might hit my terrified grandchildren, I
gave up,” said Kashiri of Chigumbu Village in Uzumba, in Mashonaland East
He decided to go out to confront the enemy and was immediately struck
on the forehead with a log as he stepped out of the house.
“As I staggered from the impact, one of the attackers hacked my leg
and I fell down.
They started beating me all over the body.
One of them picked a rock and tried to crush my head with it, but I
moved a bit and it hit me on the shoulder.”
As he recounted his ordeal last Wednesday afternoon, blood was still
oozing from fresh machete and axe cuts on his legs, arms and the bruises all
over the body. He could barely walk.
Kashiri said as the “Zanu PF thugs” were attacking him, his four
terrified grandchildren, two of them aged four, were crying, as they watched
He said he had no doubt the sight would haunt them for the rest of
The attackers only left after Kashiri passed out. He believed they
thought he was dead.
Before leaving the scene, they took his cellphone and a licensed
shotgun secured in a cabinet in the house.
Kashiri regained consciousness in the early hours on Wednesday and was
carried by his wife, Colleta, to Katiyo business centre, 12km away.
“I walked but when I was in pain she would carry me on her back.
It was a painful experience for both of us,” he said. He is being
treated at a private clinic in Harare.
Kashiri said he would not return to Chigumbu village in Chief Nyajinha’s
area in the immediate future, as he still fears for his life.
After being discharged from the clinic he said he would stay with his
children in Harare until “someone knocks sense into Mugabe’s head”.
Kashiri reflected briefly on the attack on him and other opposition
supporters. “If Mugabe didn’t want opposition he should have declared the
country a one-party state. I don’t see the logic of holding elections under
Kashiri said he had not reported the attack to the police because “it
is no use”. He claimed the police often arrested the victim of such attacks
In three days last week, the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human
Rights (ZADHR) treated more than 80 victims of organised violence and
torture in Harare alone.
MDC claims 10 of its supporters have been killed, 3 000 internally
displaced while over 800 homes have been torched since the elections.
The doctors said most of the cases go unreported. “Some of the
reported physical and psychological wounds will take a long time to heal and
will require much care and attention,” ZADHR said in a statement on
By Caiphas Chimhete
Saturday, 26 April 2008 19:59
PLAYERS in the hospitality industry are seeking approval from the
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) to pay their professionals in foreign
currency as the sector battles to retain critical staff ahead of the 2010
World Cup in South Africa.
Standardbusiness heard last week that the industry had lost key staff
to neighbouring countries such as South Africa and Botswana which offer
Reports of an exodus of staff in the food and beverages sectors were
confirmed by industry insiders last week. Most workers were not lasting for
a year in their jobs, it was reported.
Cornelius Nyahunda, Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe president
confirmed at least six corporations in the industry had sought approval from
the central bank.
“A couple of players have made application to the Reserve Bank to pay
part of the salaries in foreign currency,” he said.
The identities of the players could not be ascertained last week as
members in the sector kept a tight lid on their operations.
But there were reliable reports while the members had sought the green
light from the RBZ there was one sticking point: how would the employees pay
The move by the hospitality industry to pay salaries in foreign
currency is prevalent across all sectors of the economy in a bid to stem the
brain drain of key professionals.
The national airline, Air Zimbabwe has started paying some of its
professionals in foreign currency.
South Africa and Botswana have accommodated Zimbabwean professionals
fleeing the economic meltdown.
An inflation rate of 165 000% and a shortage of basic goods have made
living in Zimbabwe a perennial struggle.
Nyahunda said refurbishment at most hotels was well on course.
The hospitality industry employs over 40 000 and is positioning itself
to reap the benefits of the 2010 World Cup soccer showcase in South Africa.
MATCH, FIFA’s accommodation company, requires 55 000 rooms for the
2010 World Cup.
South Africa has said it would provide 35 000, leaving a deficit of 20
000 to be shared by other countries in the region.
By Ndamu Sandu
Saturday, 26 April 2008 19:55
ORDINARY Zimbabweans are reeling under the effects of the current
political crisis which has forced the prices of basic commodities to soar
beyond their reach.
Since last month’s elections, consumers have woken up, daily, to new
prices. In some cases, the prices go up twice a day.
Production of basic commodities is slowly grinding to a halt as
industry, crippled by the political crisis, lacks enough foreign currency
to buy the vital raw materials.
Average income-earners told Standardbusiness last week their pay
could no longer cope with daily price hikes, forcing them to do without
basic everyday needs.
“These days, I cannot afford to buy bread for my family,” said
Misheck Mashoko, an accounts clerk. “We eat vegetables without cooking oil
A loaf of bread now costs $100m, up from $4m in February, a 2kg packet
of sugar costs $500m while a 10kg packet of maize-meal is going for $300m.
A bar of wash soap sells for $200m while a medium size tube of toothpaste
goes for $250m.
The workers’ average salary is $1.4m a month which means that most
Zimbabweans today cannot afford to buy the five basic commodities on their
basic monthly earnings alone.
Praise Gwaze of Kuwadzana in Harare called on Zimbabweans to stage a
“Haiti scenario” on President Robert Mugabe, to force him out because he had
failed the nation.
“But my fear is that Mugabe would rather kill the rioters than
resign,” said Gwaze. “He would order soldiers to shoot to kill. What do you
expect from a person who refuses to release the results of an election after
discovering he has been walloped?”
Haiti Prime Minister Jacques-Edouard Alexis was forced out office by
the Caribbean island’s lawmakers after a week of riots over soaring food
The prices had shot up 40% in the last year because of the global rise
in the price of fuel for crop planting, tending, harvesting and
Most of Haiti’s 8.5 million citizens live on less than US$2 a day and
are dependent on imports and humanitarian aid for rice and other staples.
The Zimbabwean situation is more depressing. It is estimated that over
three quarters of the 12.5 million people live on less than a US$1 a day.
Moreover, unemployment is at over 80 percent.
Independent economic analyst John Robertson said the prices of basic
commodities had risen by more than 1 500 percent in the past year.
With inflation at over 165 000% — the highest outside a war
situation — the prospects for price stability remain a pipe dream.
Robertson said the price hikes were a manifestation of the collapse of
the manufacturing industry, resulting from poor government policies.
He said the forced price slash of last June and the raids on foreign
currency accounts by the government had virtually halted production by most
“Manufacturers can’t produce because they cannot import what they need
to produce goods. So the few goods available are in high demand,” said
Cross border traders, now the major suppliers of basic commodities to
supermarkets, buy foreign currency on the black market to be able to import
“So when the exchange rate changes, the prices change too. If they
didn’t do that, then they wouldn’t be able to import again.”
Zimbabwe — once the breadbasket of the southern African region — has
endured an economic meltdown since the chaotic land reform programme of
2000, spearheaded by war veterans and Mugabe’s youth militia.
By Caiphas Chimhete
Saturday, 26 April 2008 19:46
FALCON GOLD, one of the country’s leading gold miners, says it has
diverted capital meant for exploration and development programmes to sustain
operations due to non-payment of money earned from gold delivered to
Greg Hunter, the board chairman, said in a statement accompanying the
15 months ending 31 December 2007 audited results, the move had limited the
development programme to expand mining operations.
“The anticipated exploration and development programme to expand
mining operations has been limited, as most of the capital earmarked for
expansion and exploration has been diverted to sustain operations, due to
the part non-payment of US$ earned from gold lodged with Fidelity
Refineries,” he said.
In the 15 months ending 31 December 2007, Falgold produced 419 kgs of
gold, down from 511 kgs in the previous year.
Falgold’s predicament — getting their money for the sale of gold —
confronts most players in the mining industry whose operations have been
affected by inadequate funds.
This has resulted in low production at the mines.
Gold production has been plummeting over the years as the four major
gold producers — Falgold, Metallon, RioZim and Mwana Africa — face a myriad
From a peak of 27 tonnes in 1997, gold production fell to an all-time
low of 6.8 tonnes last year.
The decline in gold production has raised fears Zimbabwe might fail to
maintain its membership to the London Bullion Market Association (LBMA).
A loss of LBMA membership would deprive the country of exclusive
privileges to sell bullion directly to the international market.
LBMA licences gold refineries globally to trade on the world market.
Hunter said although the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) had
periodically reviewed the gold support price during the period under review,
the review lagged behind average international price which peaked to US$830
an ounce by the end of the year.
He said the received revenue continued to be adversely affected by
unrealistic exchange rates applied to the US$ based revenue and low support
“The RBZ pegged the US$/Z$ exchange rate at 30 000 for most of the
year whilst the Old Mutual Implied Rate was 5 034 117 by the end of
December.” he said.
On gold support price, Hunter said the RBZ was on average paying a
support price of $10 billion per kilogramme by the end of 2007.
“The average effective gold price received for the year equated to
$1.2 billion per kilogramme,” he said.
Hunter said the continued operations of the mine was dependent on the
ability to secure timely receipt of revenues outstanding from the RBZ and a
regular review of the support price of gold.
Falgold is 85 percent owned by Central African Gold, which has
interests in Ghana, Botswana and Mali.
RBZ had not responded to questions sent to their office by Friday.
Saturday, 26 April 2008 18:06
A couple of weeks ago it was the 40th anniversary of the assassination
of Martin Luther king Junior.
He remains relevant even for generations that never knew him largely
because the great injustices and
oppression of his days which he confronted with nothing more than
exemplary moral courage to take a stand against unjust power.
Those injustices still continue to mutate not only in the US but
across the world.
That’s why the words and example of martin Luther King Junior continue
to echo as a source of inspiration to all those who speak truth to power.
One of his many quotable quotes that I like is: “evil triumphs because
good men refuse to speak up”. Good
people must speak up in the face of injustice no matter the
consequences .Their obligation is not just to speak up it must extend to
taking whatever action one is able to.
Zimbabwe and President Robert Mugabe is a situation we cannot in all
good conscience continue to pussyfoot about anymore.
It is indefensible that one man, no matter his contribution to the
country, should be holding the
people to ransom.
I know that a tree does not make forest.
I am quite aware too that Mugabe alone is not responsible for the
There are many interests hiding behind him.
It is even conceivable that in spite all the rhetoric and masochistic
belligerence that the old man has become an executive prisoner trapped
in a power system he pioneered which now has him cornered without escape
This kind of structu- ral analysis is important but it risks
underestimating human agency and individual responsibility.
Its primitive determinism may even be used to justify any situation
rendering intervention impossible.
If individuals are not important why do we have heroes and heroines?
Why do we have leaders?
We are neither zombies nor automatons who behave in a predetermined
Choices are made and unmade by human beings therefore accountability
is first and
Mugabe is no longer part of the problem of Zimbabwe: he is now the
The choice that he makes or not make can either help resolve the
crisis or accentuate it.
If he decides to step down there will be nobody who will force him to
remain in office.
The fact that he has not taken that option is a deliberate personal
choice just as his one-man contest for candidacy of the party has always
been his choice.
It is simply wrong and unacceptable that nearly a month after the 29
March election the result of the Presidential contest is yet to be declared.
Meanwhile there is a recount of the declared Parliamentary results!
Even those who were willing to overstretch their good will to Mugabe must be
finding it ridiculous or running out of excuses.
Some of them continue to beg the issues further by forcing parallels
with other botched elections.
They point out that it took six weeks and the Supreme Court to declare
George W Bush President of the USA in 2001.
Why should an avowed Pan-Africanist leader vomiting all kinds of
anti-imperialist attacks be defended by Washington’s non-standard?
They also point at the two months it took before the final results of
the 2005 controversial elections in Ethiopia could be released.
I am surprised they are not even saying that Mugabe is better than
Meles Zenawi who jailed those who defeated his party! Why should Africans al
ways judge themselves by looking down instead of looking up to higher
Other people’s bad manners and the hypocrisies of others should not
justify the mischief making by Mugabe and his hirelings.
They have now shot themselves not just on the foot but all over the
body by this syndicated circus.
Whatever the outcome now they are losers because most reasonable
people haveconcluded that they have tampered with and are still tampering
with the result.
Even if they declare the MDC as winners people will still say it is
because of delayed shame or fear of
It is sad that Mugabe who is probably one of the better (if not the
best) prepared leader for the job should end like this.
He has seven degrees (not honorary) for goodness sake!
Saturday, 26 April 2008 17:56
IT has often been said that even if he maintains his iron grip on
Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe’s greatest challenge is the economy which he can
never turn around.
But whilst the shattered economy has devastated the country and its
people, it hardly affects Mugabe and his acolytes directly.
If there is one thing that worries him though, it is the lack of
legitimacy that he now faces.
The Mugabe regime has an ambivalent approach toward the law.
For a man who holds two law degrees and is surrounded by lawyers
Mugabe finds it hard to ignore the power of the law.
He knows it provides the basis for challenge against his authority and
has tended to overlook or stretch it when it matters.
But he also craves legitimacy and therefore tries hard to create a
veneer of legality over his actions. In so doing, he hopes formal legality
will confer legitimacy to his actions.
The recent election provides a stark illustration of the regime’s
catastrophic approach toward the law.
On the one hand, the government is prepared to use the law and legal
institutions such as the judiciary and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission in
order to maintain power.
On the other hand, it is prepared to disregard and manipulate the law
when it does not suit its interests.
That the regime has continued to resort to the law when it might as
well dispense with it and rule by force shows a desire to place the cloak of
legality over its actions in the hope that this will confer legitimacy.
Direct force outside the legal structures would totally erase that
veneer of legality and legitimacy.
For example, the self-serving interpretation of the Constitution by
the government that the Cabinet which Mugabe dissolved prior to the 29 March
election, nevertheless, continues to have constitutional authority is an
attempt to create a cloak of constitutional legality.
This, in turn, is designed to serve as justification for continuing to
exercise power. It does not matter to them that the claims to legality are
What then explains Mugabe and Zanu PF’s approach toward the law?
History is replete with instances of oppressive regimes seeking to
clothe their actions with the apparel of legality in order to claim
legitimacy to exercise State power.
For example, both Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin were notorious for
the “show trials” conducted in the 1930s and 1940s. Although the “show
trials” were politically motivated, they did claim the aura of judicial
legitimacy because they were conducted in open courts and were carried out
under the law.
Of course, this judicial legitimacy was a sham because the system was
Central to their approach, however, was a narrow understanding of
legality leading to a very limited interpretation of legitimacy.
For them to claim legality of their actions, it was enough that the
laws were passed by a recognised authority.
It did not matter that the judges were compromised, that the lawyers
were persecuted and that laws were unfair and devoid of key values
underpinning a normal constitutional order.
This, in many ways, is no different from the approach taken by the
Although keen to claim legality, the interest is not in the substance
or values but simply the form and structure of the laws.
It is sufficient for them to claim legality on the basis that the ZEC
is a constitutional body that is exercising its powers under the law; that
matters are brought before the courts and that legislative provisions are
invoked to justify the delays to the electoral process.
Why do such regimes insist on legality?
Why do they worry about legitimacy?
It is because even a thief eventually craves to be recognised as the
legal and legitimate owner of the property that he has stolen.
He will do everything to create a veneer of legality and legitimacy
over the property.
Ultimately, he wants people to believe and recognise him as the owner
of the property, notwithstanding the defective circumstances appertaining to
History shows that the basis of legitimacy of a government has evolved
over the centuries.
In ancient times, the basis of legitimacy was underpinned by belief in
the existence of divine will.
In some cases legitimacy was based on some rational or moral basis
deriving from Natural Law.
In those cases, legality and legitimacy were derived from the
government’s conformity with Natural Law.
In modern times, the legality and legitimacy of government’s exercise
of power primarily derives from the Constitution.
That is why it is regarded as the supreme law to which all laws and
actions of the government must conform.
There is an inherent “social contract” between the government and the
citizens that the former will conform to the Constitution in order to
exercise government power.
And where the government fails to meet its part of the bargain, its
legitimacy is severely eroded.
This is the context in which it can be said that Mugabe’s government
is facing a crisis of legitimacy.
It is because it has failed to meet its part of the “social contract”
as contained in the Constitution and its underlying values.
The legitimacy of exercising governmental power derives from winning a
The elections were held on 29 March but results have been inordinately
delayed and indications are that the incumbent is unwilling to give up
Its current legitimacy is therefore highly questionable.
But the government also knows that in the modern world, the sources of
legitimacy go beyond the national boundaries.
There are a number of international safeguards of legality and
legitimacy at international law which derive from international agreements
and conventions created under the authority of bodies such as the United
Nations (UN), African Union (AU), Southern African Development Community
It is important to conform to these rules and values to gain
acceptance and recognition as a legitimate government within the community
A clear example of the influence of such bodies on legitimacy of a
government was shown in Togo in 2005 when the Economic Community of West
African States (ECOWAS) led efforts that resulted in the withdrawal of Faure
Gnassingbe who had been illegitimately installed as leader by the military
after the death of his father Gnassingbe Eyadema.
Not even attempts to change the Constitution to provide a veil of
legality could confer legitimacy to his installation.
SADC leaders can learn a lot from this episode.
Mugabe craves acceptance and recognition on the international stage.
His ability over the years to participate freely at the UN, AU and
SADC has been vital to his claims of legitimacy.
At present he cannot do that and isolation is growing.
Instead, it is his bitter rival, Morgan Tsvangirai who is leading the
line on the diplomatic front.
There are increasingly indications that Mugabe’s cosy relationship
with African leaders is becoming more uncomfortable.
It is for this reason that the diplomatic offensive by Tsvangirai and
MDC on the international scene has been a very important and effective
I have written in these pages before that the MDC needed to learn the
language of African politics and it is notable that it is now fluent in this
Until now, Mugabe and Zanu PF have hoodwinked most of Africa by using
the cloak of legality in order to claim legitimacy.
Unfortunately, some, like President Thabo Mbeki of SA are still being
hoodwinked by this cloak of legality.
But it does appear now, that besides the shambled economy, the other
great challenge for Mugabe and Zanu PF is the crisis of legitimacy which
they cannot ignore for long. Unlike the economy, this one hits them directly
and it must be painful to live with for no amount of wealth can buy
That is why they are now calling for a Government of National Unity —
it is an attempt to re-purchase that legitimacy through the MDC.
Dr Magaisa is based at The University of Kent Law School and can be
contacted at firstname.lastname@example.orgThis e-mail address is being protected
Saturday, 26 April 2008 17:52
IN the 51 years that Africa conquered colonialism, not all its leaders
can be said to have performed with exceptional, distinguished, scintillating
or Nobel Prize-winning heroics.
Only four have won the Nobel Prize for Peace — Albert Luthuli, Anwar
Sadat, Nelson Mandela and Kofi Annan, when he was Secretary-General of the
The Nobel Peace Prize was inaugurated in 1901.
Sadat, mowed down in an assassination in Cairo in 1981, joined a
number of his peers, consigned to untimely rendezvous with The Maker, by
their own countrymen.
Others died of natural causes, although to say Nigeria’s obnoxious
Sani Abacha passed on in that fashion would probably draw howls of protest
from Mother Nature herself.
Still others died in exile, driven out of their countries for almost
the same reason: a diabolical disregard for human life when it concerned
their desire to hang on to power until they dropped dead.
It’s probably unfair to single out our race for this infamy. After
all, Julius Caesar wasn’t an African.
My argument has always been that, after achieving independence,
tackling poverty should have been every African leader’s priority: not
ensuring nobody else ever took over from them — or launching their own
programme for personal enrichment.
Still, among world leaders with fatal flaws have been many Africans.
So, we don’t have a monopoly.
For many of us, alive at the glorious moment when the Gold Coast
became Ghana, most of the hopes of an Africa flowing with milk and honey,
its people enjoying unbridled freedom from want and oppression, recede, ever
so slightly, every time an African leader displays naked contempt for
President Robert Mugabe is seen by his worshippers as the all-time
champion of all their rights — to life, liberty and the pursuit of
happiness. To others, he is the antithesis of that image.
His rejection by the people on 29 March was eloquent testimony to his
having outlived his welcome.
Today, it is fair to say that, among many of his peers, he has come
very close to forfeiting whatever respect and regard they had for him, after
he plunged his once much-admired country into penury.
After 28 years of running his country into the ground, largely through
an arrogant disregard for even the most elementary tenets of democracy, he
finally got his comeuppance — a stunning defeat at the polls on 29 March.
On the one side are African leaders and ordinary people who still
revere him as the freedom fighter. On the other, are those, both leaders and
ordinary folk, who see him as the typical African despot.
After an election in which the majority told him loudly that he had
run out of time, he, with customary arrogance, told them they had another
think coming . .they hadn’t seen the last of him.
Today, almost a month after the elections in which he could be said to
have bitten the dust, he remains president and his party is still the
ruling, ruining machinery that it has been for the last 28 years.
What will it take to dislodge him?
A political tsunami from the gutsier element of the Southern Africa
Development Community (Sadc), or a sudden awakening among the lily-livered
element of that same Sadc, of the extent to which he has pulled the wool
over their eyes?
Both elements could conspire, in a benevolent way, to make Mugabe an
offer he can’t refuse.
It could be to ask him to step down graciously and let the real winner
of the presidential stakes reap his just reward.
It could also be to let him propose a peaceable end to the crisis, as
long as it allowed for a firm, final exit for him.
It would be unthinkable for anyone to propose a solution in which he
could play any crucial role whatsoever.
He had 28 years in which to apply his supposedly vast intellect to
solve our seemingly intractable problems, among them poverty and a rickety
health delivery system.
If he couldn’t do it then, what miracle cure could he provide now,
when the country is virtually penniless, with its status as a pariah, giving
off such a stench of decay only those without a sense of smell dare go near
Why is Julius Nyerere not cited often as a leader who, once he saw his
mistake, decided to save his country and his legacy by stepping down?
It’s not intolerant to say the last person this country needs at its
helm today is Mugabe.
The man is a jinx we don’t need.
Saturday, 26 April 2008 17:46
THE MDC-Morgan Tsvangirai should refuse to entertain suggestions of a
run-off because initial poll returns showed that their candidate had more
votes than Zanu PF’s, which explains the inordinate delay in announcing
results of the presidential election.
But the MDC-MT should also reject the idea because to agree to a
run-off would lend legitimacy to Zanu PF’s charade.
It should refuse because they were winners — that’s what the results
posted outside the polling stations said.
The outcomes of the recounts appear to confirm no significant
departure from the original tallies.
Above all, the MDC-MT should spurn the idea of a run-off because
scores of people have been tortured, displaced, lost their life-time
possessions and others killed in anticipation of a run-off.
There can no longer be justification for an election run-off in the
face of continued loss of lives, destruction of property and widespread
internal displacement of people.
Conditions for holding a free and fair election given such a volatile
environment no longer exist.
The MDC-MT can help end further bloodshed by unequivocally stating its
boycott of Zanu PF’s proposed run-off.
Zanu PF wants to behave as if it is still the critical player in
Zimbabwean politics. On 29 March voters passed a verdict and it wasn’t Zanu
PF and its candidate who were entrusted with the mandate to lead this
Zanu PF also claims that no one has died as a result of politically
motivated violence on the scale of 2000.
That is a startling admission for a party that has been in denial
since the days of Edgar Tekere’s Zimbabwe Unity Movement.
But if there are no people who have died and there is no violence
against MDC supporters, why doesn’t Zanu PF allow a fact-finding mission by
an international commission, preferably led by SADC to come and establish
whether murders, abductions, torture and widespread destruction being
spearheaded by military officers supported by Zanu PF militias and officers
from the Central Intelligence Organisation are a figment of the MDC’s
In the face of persistent denials by Zanu PF, the MDC should begin
compiling the names of the people spearheading the current wave of
politically motivated violence and the areas where these atrocities are
being committed with a view to bringing the perpetrators to justice.
These tormentors need to know that while they may enjoy immunity from
prosecution under Zanu PF, in the future they will be held accountable.
It is one of the most potent of weapons innocent people brutalised by
Zanu PF’s supporters have in their possession.
There is a pattern of violence that has preceded or followed every
election held in this country and those responsible should not be allowed to
get away with their murderous activities.
They must begin to appreciate that there is a cost involved and that
they will pay it, sooner or later.
Documenting evidence of the current political violence is essential
because memories and the scars will fade.
The MDC-MT initiated something along these lines but the exercise must
continue, whether or not the details are published soon after the crimes are
Breaking the Silence, the report on the Gukurahundi atrocities is a
vital document on the perpetrators of the 1980s massacres of villagers in
the two Matabeleland provinces and the Midlands.
A similar exercise on the ongoing violence would be critical in the
quest for justice by victims and survivors of the atrocities.
The contempt for ordinary people by Zanu PF continues to plunge to new
depths. This is evidenced by the creation of torture bases in the provinces.
However, the will of the people cannot be broken that easily. Justice
Facts Don't Lie
Saturday, 26 April 2008 18:33
THERE is a well known swing song that has the lines: “It ain’t what
you do,/ It’s the way that you do it,/ That’s what gets results.”
Cde Bright subscribes to this approach, but with the modification that
what gets results is the way that you spin it.
He hastens to add, however, that facts are facts and facts can’t lie
about themselves, even if they wanted to do so.
On the other hand, he concedes that sometimes facts are stranger than
The Fiddler is now in a position to reveal exactly all the deplorable
details of the great election plot, code “Paid to Win”.
Much of this information is gleaned from a top secret document penned
by the Secretary General of the Movement for Dogged Colonialism who cleverly
forged his own signature in a clumsy fashion so as to throw people off the
Particularly for slow learners, it is necessary to recite all the
sordid details of this dastardly conspiracy to undermine our sovereignty and
recolonise the country.
It all started with an intensive course in table manners and
appropriate etiquette conducted at Buckingham Palace.
This was attended by the leader of the opposition and his family.
The objective of the course was to groom the family on how to conduct
themselves when a malevolent force, commonly known as Brits, had installed
the leader as the lackey head of government.
The next stage involved duping the ruling party into holding an
This election was duly held but the outcome was most unacceptable.
Not only had the opposition won a majority of the parliamentary seats,
but it also seemed it had won the presidential election, but this was not
certain as there was an understandable reluctance to reveal the results of
However, everyone now knows that the clenched fist party would have
won a landslide victory had it not been for the machinations of Brits.
Brits had played some extremely dirty mind games with voters.
They told them that the Queen of England would provide them with
riches beyond their wildest dreams, riches even above the current rate of
inflation, if they voted for the opposition.
Little did these people know that the ultimate objective of this plot
was to hand back every scrap of land to pale skinned individuals in order to
allow them to engage in the highly subversive activity of agricultural
All the dispossessed whites had been mobilised and given artificial
arms so that they could invade the farms and drive off all the settlers.
Thus were otherwise patriotic Zimbabweans corrupted into spoiling the
party by voting for the wrong party.
But that was not all.
Brits gave the opposition huge amounts of money to bribe presiding
officers so that they would miscount the votes to ensure that the opposition
The election agents and observers who witnessed and verified the count
were also bribed to turn a blind eye to this process of miscounting.
The clenched fist party thus had unassailable grounds for refusing to
accept the result of an election that had been so shamelessly rigged.
It was not at all a matter of being a sore loser; surely a reputable
party would concede defeat in these circumstances.
Instead it would do what the clenched fist party did — it would demand
that votes be recounted for as long as it took to arrive at the right
In the meantime, as the popularly elected government, it would get on
with the vitally important task of governing to ensure that the country
would continue to experience the incredible growth and progress that it had
experienced under its wise leadership.
But the clenched fist party had to contend with a concerted campaign
of destabilisation by the party that should have lost the elections had it
not been for the malign influence of their backers.
They would stop at nothing to undermine the legitimate government.
The party that should have lost constantly committed treason by
wrongly claiming to have won the election.
Even worse, members of this party went around attacking and injuring
one another so that they could falsely claim that peace loving cadres of the
only legitimate party were perpetrating this violence.
Faced with such subversive activities, it was forced to apply not only
the rule of law but the full force of the law.
To combat this threat to peace and order, and an imminent invasion
threat from Brits, it reluctantly procured lots of Chinese weaponry.
The Fiddler can happily report that the vicious plot has now been
foiled and we can all sleep peacefully at night.
What this demonstrates is that when we fail to speak out loudly
against what is happening in our country, we all become collaborators of the
evil deeds that are being perpetrated.
But by raising our voices against such evil deeds, we can prevent them
Mugabe Is The Problem
Saturday, 26 April 2008 18:31
I find it incredible that Zanu PF, as a political organisation, does
not realise that Robert Mugabe is now a huge liability to the party.
Its loss of popularity is because no one wants Mugabe anymore.
Let's Boycott Chinese Goods
Saturday, 26 April 2008 18:29
CHINA has not lifted a finger to signal its displeasure at the
escalating violence since the 29 March elections.
There is a wave of internally displaced people, fleeing the rural
areas because they dared to vote differently.
If China is happy to send arms of war to a regime intent on waging a
war against its own citizens, I suggest we encourage people power to have
the last word.
Consumer groups and the non-governmental organisations must mobilise
their members to boycott Chinese goods and products.
Let the ordinary people, the victims of the regime have nothing to do
with a country aiding and abetting their brutalisation.
For the first time, Zimbabweans can begin to understand why the
conflict in Sudan continues to escalate.
China is fuelling the suffering of fellow Africans, while pretending
that supplying weapons of war to rogue regimes is “normal trade”.
'The Four Horsemen Of The Apocalypse'
Saturday, 26 April 2008 18:26
THE horrible events presently happening in Zimbabwe suggest that the
four horsemen of the Apocalypse have taken up permanent residence in that
The Zimbabwe government’s total disregard of criticism, displays an
arrogance and audacity beyond belief.
Indeed, it seems Zimbabwe’s military junta and ruling party are
determined to stretch international and regional tolerance levels to
unprecedented and unimaginable lengths.
The question everyone is asking both inside and outside of Zimbabwe is
for how much longer can this rogue regime continue its murderous, violent,
corrupt and destructive behaviour without meaningful censure?
It is common knowledge that the quiet diplomacy being shamelessly and
slavishly practised by African leaders is nothing but a diplomatic posture
for inactivity and procrastination, bordering on tacit support for the
History recalls Africa and the world watching the systematic murder
of the Tutsi minority in Rwanda, and unbelievably Africa and the world watch
again as a similar and monstrous sequel of events unfolds in Zimbabwe and
Out of Zimbabwe has come a clear and concise warning by the leaders of
all church denominations, of a deliberate campaign by the ruling Zanu PF
party that could reach “genocidal” proportions.
Zimbabwe’s respected church leaders have spoken out, and Africa and
the world must stop watching, and wake up and act now to stop the madness.
Guildford, Surrey, UK
Don't Let Mugabe Hold Zimbabwe Hostage
Saturday, 26 April 2008 18:21
I am greatly pained by what is happening in my country. I am worried
that the promise of change is in danger of suffering a stillbirth.
It is a great irony that Zimbabwe celebrated its “independence”
anniversary on 18 April.
The advent of independence in 1980 was supposed to herald the
beginning of a new era — an era of tolerance, democracy, hope, freedom,
justice, and equality, among other things.
Mugabe’s rule for the last three decades has tragically illustrated
that the revolution that ushered him into power was a false revolution.
Zimbabwe is anything but free.
The “liberator” has turned into a ruthless and uncompromising tyrant.
Zimbabwe’s recently held elections have turned into a farce, with
Mugabe exerting undue pressure on the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC)
not to release the results.
Rural areas are filled with the so-called war veterans, the “green
bombers”, the military and other party and security functionaries engaged in
a systematic terror campaign to exact “revenge” on the rural population for
“having voted the wrong way”.
Mugabe’s peers in the region convened an emergency meeting in Lusaka,
Zambia under the auspices of the Southern African Development Community
The Communiqué released afterwards came out with nothing new.
It is interesting to note that a beaming President Thabo Mbeki walked
hand in hand with a Mugabe soon after his arrival at Harare Airport — hardly
the demeanour of a neutral and honest broker.
From the above, it is clear that Zimbabwe is in the throes of a huge
Mugabe and his party are openly trying to subvert the will of the
It is hoped that the deployment of Zanu PF militias, war veterans and
the military, and the ongoing terror campaign plus additional rigging will
then result in a “convincing victory” for Mugabe.
I believe that there is a lot of merit in Tsvangirai’s claim that he
won the election outright, which explains why the result was not released in
the first place, otherwise I do not see the reason why Mugabe would delay
the release of Presidential elections in which he gets a second chance in a
The world must speak with one voice.
They should tell Mugabe that they do not believe his tired mantra of
the crisis in Zimbabwe being about a bilateral dispute with Britain stemming
from the land issue.
They have told Mugabe that they do not believe his diatribe and
invective directed towards Britain and the opposition MDC.
They do not believe that the MDC is a puppet, and they do not believe
that voting for it will result in Zimbabwe being a British colony again.
In fact, they think that Mugabe insults their intelligence greatly.
Even rural folks saw his lies for what they are.
There is a lot of irony about the fact that he speaks about
colonization by the British yet he has now given virtually everything to the
The man is out of touch with reality.
African leaders have to step up and join the world and speak with one
They have to show that African lives do matter, that Africans also
value human rights and dignity, and equate a value to these norms that is at
par with the rest of the world.
Africa and its leaders cannot fold their arms about Zimbabwe and only
speak in situations of perceived injustices against the West.
They should tell Mugabe that they are aware that he is interfering
with ZEC, and they will not recognize his charade.
If this does not happen it is clear that Zimbabwe is destined for an
The ray of hope is that Mugabe has nothing to offer, and things can
only get worse.
Ultimately, every politician has their own Waterloo if they fail to
heed the winds of change.
Ian Smith and his ruthless regime, armed to the teeth, fell. Apartheid
was finally dismantled in South Africa, Hitler’s regime fell, Idi Amin
finally ran away.
There can be no doubt that it is now end game for Mugabe.
Recounting The Counted
Saturday, 19 April 2008 19:59
A fair selection system will naturally include a process of recounting
your chickens before they hatch.
No one in their right mind could possibly object to this process.
Regrettably, however, there are people around who have entered into an
advanced state of mental incompetence, either by over-indulgence in fomented
vegetable matter or by prolonged exposure to Western neo-colonialism.
Such delusional persons will, without hesitation, rush to court to
raise captious objections to this process.
They will waste valuable court time that could be far better spent on
farming activities by making ridiculous submissions such as that you should
only be permitted to recount your unhatched poultry if you have not only
counted them first, but have also announced how many unborn chicks you have
Equally fatuous will be their claim that the result of the first count
must be announced as quickly as possible, rather than treating the count as
a closely guarded state secret.
The judge will, of course, laugh out of court such baseless
contentions and rule that the official body in charge of this process must
have an absolute discretion to do what it likes, when it likes, whether
others like what it is doing and the pace at which it is doing it.
Now that we have demonstrated the undoubted need for a recount, it is
important to provide careful instruction on the method that should be used
when carrying out the recount.
This is necessary because the counters messed up so badly the first
time around. The same mistakes must not be made during the recount.
One basic error was to treat the count as requiring a simple
arithmetical process of adding up the agreed figures to arrive at a total.
The mathematical principles that apply to a recount are substantially
different from those applicable to a count.
With a recount, the basic formula that should be used is Z=X+E+M. Here
Z is the party that must win; X is votes actually received; E is extra
ballots erroneously omitted; M is even more extra ballots kept in reserve in
case they are needed to tip the balance.
The extra and even more extra ballots can be derived from a variety of
sources, such as dead people and people who are entitled to vote more than
A second formula should also be used to make sure that the process is
completely above board.
This is as follows: L=X-D-M. Here L is the party pre-destined to lose;
X is the number of votes actually received; D is the number of its votes
that have mysteriously gone missing, using a prestidigitation technique
known as Now you see them and now you donâ€™t; M is the number of further
votes that may have to be disappeared should this be necessary.
At the conclusion of this process there is an obligation to inform the
party who is claiming to have far more hatched chickens than the winner that
it is sadly misguided and should accept that it is a perennial loser, and
should not compound matters by being a sore loser.
Its imperialist backers should also be told to keep their filthy
mouths shut, instead of trying to invent a crisis when Thabo has told
everyone that there is none.Â
So, let no one make false allegations there was industrial strength
rigging. The legal protections are foolproof and absolutely guarantee that
the whole process will be squeaky clean and fantastically fair.
The problem lies not in the process but in unrealistic expectations by
anyone that they can harvest more chickens than jongwe. Surely everyone
knows by now that only the party which is able to extract refined diesel
from a stone can have a legitimate right and duty to rule the roost forever.
The detractors must be re-educated as soon as possible and it is
reassuring that re-educators have been dispatched to every part of the
country to engage in gentle persuasion which often results in self-inflicted
The best way to reform misguided persons who have false hopes and
dreams is to subject them to the same sort of treatment that was meted out
to King Tantulus who was surrounded by water and fruit that was just out of
This may prove somewhat difficult, however, as both these commodities
are in short supply, and even if they are available they are unaffordable.