The ZIMBABWE Situation
An extensive and up-to-date website containing news, views and links related to ZIMBABWE - a country in crisis
Return to INDEX page
Please note: You need to have 'Active content' enabled in your IE browser in order to see the index of articles on this webpage

Tenth petrol bomb attack in Zimbabwe: Report

Monsters and Critics

Apr 2, 2007, 6:51 GMT

Harare/Johannesburg - Unknown attackers in Zimbabwe threw petrol bombs at a
store belonging to a businessman with links to the ruling ZANU-PF party,
reports said Monday.

The attack on Gumbas Wholesalers in downtown Harare on Saturday night
damaged office equipment worth 150 million Zimbabwe dollars (600,000 US
dollars), state radio said.

'I am surprised by such action because Gumbas Wholesale offers reasonable
prices and valuable service to people in spite of the political divide,'
former ZANU-PF MP Christopher Chigumba, the owner of the store, was quoted
as telling the official Herald newspaper.

It was the tenth petrol bomb attack in three weeks of mounting political
tensions.

State media and President Robert Mugabe's government blame the attacks,
which have also targeted a passenger train and police stations, on activists
from the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) led by Morgan Tsvangirai.

The opposition party has dismissed the accusations, blaming the attacks on
state agents bent on tarnishing the opposition to justify a government
crackdown on its officials.

At least eight MDC officials arrested in police raids on their homes and the
party's headquarters last week were expected to appear in court Monday.
Lawyers and doctors say the group has been severely assaulted while in
police custody.

2007 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Mbeki warns Zimbabwe foes on conditions

Business Day

02 April 2007

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

PRESIDENT Thabo Mbeki is confident new mediation could help resolve Zimbabwe's
political crisis, but warned that neither that country's government or
opposition should attach conditions to the talks.

Mbeki, named last week by the Southern African Development Community (SADC)
to promote dialogue between President Robert Mugabe and the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), told the SABC western calls for
tougher moves on Zimbabwe were misplaced.

"As a region we are quite convinced that the only way to solve the problem
is the direction we have taken," Mbeki said.

The US said African nations "fell short" in putting pressure on Mugabe at a
special summit in Tanzania last week, which saw the SADC call for an end to
sanctions against Mugabe's government and a new political dialogue.

Tensions in Zimbabwe have risen sharply in the past two weeks after police
arrested and beat MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai and other activists in a move
that spurred widespread international condemnation.

Mugabe's ruling Zanu (PF) party on Friday formally endorsed the 83-year-old
leader as its candidate for presidential elections next year, a move that
could see him extend his rule over the country into a third decade.

Mbeki, who has tried and failed to facilitate dialogue between Mugabe and
the MDC in the past, said he believed all sides in Zimbabwe agreed that
political talks were the best way to address the crisis.

"Both MDC groups - the one led by (Morgan) Tsvangirai, and the other by
(rival MDC faction leader Arthur) Mutambara - have not complained to us.
Mugabe and Zanu (PF) have not complained," Mbeki said.

Tsvangirai's MDC has warned it may not participate in next year's elections
if Mugabe is a candidate, accusing him of rigging a series of previous
elections.

But Mbeki said such preconditions would do little to improve the situation
in Zimbabwe, where an accelerating economic collapse is increasing political
tensions.

"If people have issues to raise, they should raise it in the context of
discussion," he said. Reuters


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zim teenagers in shock after disco raid

The Star

April 02, 2007 Edition 2

Harare - A police crackdown in Zimbabwe has moved into well-to-do
residential suburbs in the capital, where scores of teenagers have been
detained in a raid on a popular disco.

Several had to be treated for shock after at least 100 were taken in two
police buses to the feared downtown central police station from the Glow
nightclub in Harare's affluent Borrowdale district on Saturday.

Witnesses said some of the teenagers - both blacks and whites - were hit
with riot batons and slapped by paramilitary police who said they were
clamping down on alleged underage drinking.

Others were allegedly not carrying identity cards required under security
laws.

The raid came after police shut bars and beer halls in poor townships in an
undeclared curfew during a surge in political tension after police violently
stopped an opposition-led prayer meeting in Harare on March 11.
Keith Murray (20), a witness at the nightclub, said about 20 paramilitary
police armed with automatic rifles and batons stormed into the nightclub and
forced revellers to sit on the dance floors in silence.

The raid was the first on upmarket bars and clubs patronised by the nation's
dwindling white community.

Meanwhile, nine opposition activists who were to be charged with attempted
murder and illegal weapons possession all required medical attention for
injuries suffered since their arrests, doctors and medical staff at a
private facility said. - Sapa-AP


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Journalist held as Zim crackdown continues

The Star

April 02, 2007 Edition 1

Peta Thornycroft and Peter Fabricius

The South African correspondent for Time magazine was arrested in Zimbabwe
on Saturday and was still in custody last night, apparently for entering the
country without official media accreditation.

And several opposition activists who had been injured in police custody were
abducted by state security agents from their Harare hospital beds late on
Saturday.

Police also detained scores of teenagers in a raid on a disco in Harare on
Saturday night.

Zimbabwe's crackdown continued unabated at the weekend despite last week's
Southern African Development Community summit, where President Robert Mugabe
was told he should stop assaults on opposition politicians, according to
South African officials.
Time journalist Alexander Perry, a British citizen based in Cape Town, was
arrested in Zimbabwe at or near the Beit Bridge border post, and was being
held in Gwanda, about 200km to the north, sources said. - Independent
Foreign Service and Sapa-AP



Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

'This so-called quiet diplomacy is hogwash'



Chris McGreal
Monday April 2, 2007
The Guardian

Zimbabwe's forthright archbishop grudgingly concedes that he might have gone
too far in urging people to pray for Robert Mugabe's death. Not that Pius
Ncube wouldn't still like to see it happen. It's just that the archbishop of
Bulawayo feels his call two years ago "to pray that God may take him [Mr
Mugabe]" was "misinterpreted". So these days he sticks to telling his flock
to pray for the Zimbabwean president's downfall. "Some people say that as a
Christian pastor I have no right to ask for someone to die. They said it is
trying to force God to do my will. They say that is as good as murder. Some
people are narrow minded, so now I'm asking people to pray that he falls,"
he said.

There was a time when the archbishop was not nearly so outspoken about Mr
Mugabe because most of Zimbabwe's Catholic bishops thought they should not
wade into politics. But as the repression grew in Zimbabwe, and ordinary
people were driven deeper into poverty, Archbishop Ncube emerged as one of
the most strident critics of Mr Mugabe, calling him evil, cruel and a
murderer. Now the bishops have followed his lead with their uncompromising
pastoral warning that the violent suppression of opposition politics,
rampant corruption and economic collapse are driving the country toward an
abyss.
Mr Mugabe's response has been to describe Zimbabwe's first black archbishop
as a "halfwit". The state press has called him a "neo-fascist extremist
rightwinger" who is "peddling British policies". But Archbishop Ncube is
almost as scornful of some of those who would also like to see an end to the
regime. He has called ordinary Zimbabweans "cowards" for not being willing
to lay down their lives to get rid of Mr Mugabe. He describes Morgan
Tsvangirai, the opposition Movement for Democratic Change leader severely
beaten by the police earlier this month, as "useless". And Thabo Mbeki, the
South African president, who has been reluctant to criticise Mr Mugabe, is a
"damned fool".

The archbishop is co-chair of the Solidarity Peace Trust, which has exposed
the systematic political violence against the regime's opponents. The
60-year-old archbishop expects there will be more bloodshed before Mr Mugabe
is brought down. He favours peaceful defiance of the kind led by Archbishop
Desmond Tutu against apartheid but says he expects the government to respond
with force and that he is ready to stand before "the blazing guns". The
problem is to mobilise others to do likewise.

"The idea of dying for your country was something valuable in western
countries. We haven't grasped the idea of laying down your life. The people
are cowards. I was hoping the politicians would do it but it seems they
don't have any convictions," he said. "We must torment and harass the
government. Zimbabweans are a bit lethargic and we find ourselves caught
with our pants down."

The archbishop emerged as a pre-eminent critic of the government in part
because of the failures of a weak and divided opposition. Mr Tsvangirai may
be heralded abroad as the brave face of defiance after the severe beating he
endured by Mugabe's thugs earlier this month. But the archbishop says the
MDC leader is part of the problem. "Morgan has been useless," he said.
"There was hope that the MDC would gradually lead people to a new
government. I think people have lost confidence in Tsvangirai doing it
alone. He seems to have very little backbone. Some people think he would be
as bad as Mugabe because he is power hungry." But then a flicker of hope
emerges "Although Tsvangirai has many faults he might just get rid of
Mugabe. If he becomes another Mugabe then we will kick him out."

The archbishop's preference for facing down the regime has left him scornful
of less confrontational tactics, particularly the "quiet diplomacy" of Mr
Mbeki, who was last week appointed by regional leaders to negotiate a path
to free elections in Zimbabwe. "This so-called quiet diplomacy is hogwash.
It means people perish. If it weren't for the western world feeding through
the World Food Programme, I think one-third of Zimbabweans would be dead by
now," he said. "Mbeki can be so unreasonable and illogical. You can't
persuade Mugabe to leave. He has to be forced out."


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Corrupt, greedy and violent: Mugabe attacked by Catholic bishops after years of silence



Senior Zimbabwean clerics call for new constitution
MDC members arrive at court with severe injuries

Chris McGreal in Harare
Monday April 2, 2007
The Guardian

Zimbabwe's influential Roman Catholic bishops have abandoned a long-standing
reticence to criticise Robert Mugabe, damning his government as "racist,
corrupt and lawless" and likening the struggle against it to the country's
liberation war against white rule.
The pastoral letter, read out in churches yesterday, denounces "overtly
corrupt" leaders for using "ever harsher oppression through arrests,
detentions, banning orders, beatings and torture", days after Mr Mugabe said
that his opponents deserved to be "bashed".

The Catholic bishops' conference letter warns that Zimbabwe is heading
towards a "flashpoint" but appeals for "peace and restraint" in protests
ahead of a two-day general strike called from tomorrow. The letter said
young Zimbabweans "see their leaders habitually engaging in acts and words
which are hateful, disrespectful, racist, corrupt, lawless, unjust, greedy,
dishonest and violent in order to cling to the privileges of power and
wealth".
The bishops say the seizure and redistribution of white-owned farms over
recent years, the centrepiece of what Mr Mugabe portrays as his campaign to
liberate Zimbabwe from the vestiges of colonialism, has enriched the elite
but done little to help the poor. They conclude that the white settlers who
once exploited what was Rhodesia have been supplanted by a black elite that
is just as abusive.

"It is the same conflict between those who possess power and wealth in
abundance, and those who do not; between those who are determined to
maintain their privileges of power and wealth at any cost, even at the cost
of bloodshed, and those who demand their democratic rights and a share in
the fruits of independence; between those who continue to benefit from the
present system of inequality and injustice, because it favours them and
enables them to maintain an exceptionally high standard of living, and those
who go to bed hungry at night and wake up in the morning to another day
without work and without income; between those who only know the language of
violence and intimidation, and those who feel they have nothing more to lose
because their constitutional rights have been abrogated and their votes
rigged," the letter says.

The bishops back calls for a new constitution "that will guide a democratic
leadership chosen in free and fair elections".

Although the Archbishop of Bulawayo, Pius Ncube, has been outspoken in his
criticism of Mr Mugabe, Zimbabwe's Catholic bishops have largely remained
silent until now. Some supported Mr Mugabe, others believed that the church
should not involve itself in politics. But they have been under growing
pressure from their congregations to speak out.

Government hit squads have abducted and beaten hundreds of opposition
activists over recent days. The police have also apparently been involved in
assaults. Nine members of the Movement for Democratic Change arrived at a
Harare court on Saturday with severe injuries after four days in police
custody. Two were taken to hospital on life support on the orders of a
magistrate, over police objections, but were later returned to prison.
Officials accuse the activists of petrol bombings of police stations, a
supermarket and a train in a "terror campaign" that the opposition says is
perpetrated by government forces to provide a justification for arresting Mr
Mugabe's opponents.

Zimbabwe's president not only justified the assaults on his opponents -
including the severe beating of the MDC leader, Morgan Tsvangirai - he also
warned there would be more violence. "Of course he [Tsvangirai] was bashed.
He deserved it.... I told the police: 'beat him a lot.' He and his MDC must
stop their terrorist activities," he said.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zimbabwe president digging in

UPI

HARARE, April 1 (UPI) -- Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe is maneuvering to
fend off the open political opposition of his deputy and her husband.

Mugabe denounced Vice President Joyce Mujuru and her husband Solomon
Mujuru -- the former head of the army and one of the nation's richest
people -- on television last month after they let their ambitions be openly
known, the Times of London reported Sunday.

The couple reportedly had complained of Mugabe's "paranoid delusions" about
a military coup when they met with South African Deputy President Phumzile
Mlambo-Ngcuka.

There have been unconfirmed reports that Solomon Mujuru has met the leader
of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change to discuss a national unity
government in a post-Mugabe era -- and has talked with the Zanu-PF politburo
about the need for Zimbabwe to re-enter the international community, the
newspaper said.

Mugabe has gotten the Zanu-PF's central committee to nominate him for
president in next year's election. He also has countered the Mujurus by
trying to nationalize the Marange diamond mine in which Solomon is a major
investor.

"I have 83 years of struggle, experience and resilience and I cannot be
pushed over," Mugabe said.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Light at end of tunnel?

The Star

April 02, 2007 Edition 1

Politics, it is often said, is the art of the possible. Last week's SADC
extraordinary summit perhaps illustrates the art of the seemingly
impossible - to find some way to persuade President Robert Mugabe that he
must go.

It has been clear for several years now that Mugabe's rule has grown
increasingly authoritarian and dictatorial. His continued tenure as
president of Zimbabwe now verges on the downright dangerous. The economy has
collapsed, the rule of law is a charade, freedom of speech and political
activity are virtually non-existent.

The vast majority of Zimbabwe's people are desperate for jobs, for change,
for hope. For the first time since the end of the liberation war there is
evidence that people are being driven to violence.

No matter how Zanu-PF tries to downplay these incidents and to publicly
criminalise the MDC, the fact remains that these are the first signs of an
incipient civil war. It is against this background that the recent SADC
summit must be viewed.

Hopes were perhaps too high for some meaningful change in direction to take
place, but on the face of it nothing seems to have changed. A clearly
jubilant Mugabe clapped his hands in the air as he left the Kilimanjaro
Hotel declaring it "an excellent meeting". If anything, he seems to have
been strengthened by this summit rather than chastened.
The meeting was, however, significant. The SADC finally admitted there is a
crisis in Zimbabwe . which it has up to now been reluctant to do. There was,
according to some observers, some tough behind-the-scenes talking. It is
clear that Mugabe had to be prevailed upon strongly to even allow mediation
between himself and the MDC.

Zimbabwe is now clearly President Mbeki's problem. As the most powerful
leader in the region, the SADC has tasked him to led this mediation. The
SADC also sent a strong message to the West that Africans would solve their
own problems. Now, led by President Mbeki, they must act.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Hanging On

The New Yorker

by Philip Gourevitch April 9, 2007
One Sunday afternoon last month, members of Zimbabwe's opposition party,
Movement for Democratic Change, were gathering-for a prayer meeting, they
said-when President Robert Mugabe's security forces descended on them,
firing tear gas, water cannons, and bullets. One person was killed, and at
least fifty others were injured after being taken into custody. When the
M.D.C. leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, a former trade-union activist, arrived at
the police station, Mugabe's men repeatedly bashed his head against a wall,
then detained him, too. Mugabe has always been rough with the M.D.C., a
party formed eight years ago to challenge his dictatorial powers, and
Tsvangirai has been arrested and knocked around many times before, but this
time he was badly disfigured and his skull severely lacerated. These are
actions that most dictators would cover up, but several days later Mugabe
held a public rally to commend the police for their use of force, and to
warn Tsvangirai and his followers that they could expect more violence. True
to his word, Mugabe unleashed his goons on a nationwide rampage that
resulted in hundreds of his opponents and critics being dragged from their
homes and offices and beaten.

The shamelessness of Mugabe's brutality-and his gloating pride in it-aroused
the attention of the international press and diplomatic corps. But the story
of Zimbabwe's violent misrule and national degradation is not a new one.
Mugabe, who is eighty-three, came to power in 1980 as a leader of the long
and bloody liberation struggle against the white-supremacist regime of Ian
Smith's Rhodesia, and he has always used his hero's mantle as cover for
terrorizing his opponents, real and perceived. He has murdered thousands of
his people and deprived the rest of meaningful freedom. In the process, he
has transformed one of Africa's most prosperous and promising countries into
one of the poorest and weakest on earth.

Zimbabwe's inflation rate is already more than seventeen hundred per cent,
the highest in the world, and the International Monetary Fund warns that it
could exceed five thousand per cent by year's end. Unemployment is around
eighty per cent, and the average income is less than a dollar a day. With
chronic food shortages and no medical system left to speak of, life
expectancy has plunged from sixty years, in 1990, to less than thirty-seven
years (the shortest anywhere), while the infant-mortality rate has increased
by more than fifty per cent. Not surprisingly, as many as three million
Zimbabweans-a quarter of the population-have fled the country. Yet last week
Mugabe's information minister, Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, declared, "There is no
crisis whatsoever in Zimbabwe."

Mugabe has sworn that he will not relinquish power before his hundredth
birthday. He is obsessed with the fiction that he is Zimbabwe's legitimate
leader, and his assault on his nation-an attempt to control his people by
squeezing the life out of them-has steadily intensified since the emergence
of the M.D.C. He seems to be punishing Zimbabweans just for considering that
he could be replaced. But Mugabe, who is as clever as he is crude and
perverse, blames his opponents for the unrest. According to his rhetoric,
they are terrorists and agents of white imperialism, and whatever hardship
the country may be enduring is the price of its ongoing fight for freedom.
"The opposition is always calling for change, change, change," Mugabe said
at his mid-March rally. "I am not pink. I don't want a pink nose. I can't
change. I don't want to be European. I want to be African." Tsvangirai, at
the funeral for his murdered colleague, said of Mugabe, "I think he needs
psychiatric help."

Since 2002, Mugabe has faced censure and sanctions from the United States
and Europe, but he treats these rebukes as badges of honor. (One consequence
of America's diminished authority since the invasion of Iraq has been that
bullies around the world feel emboldened to scorn the West; Mugabe likes to
tell his critics to "go hang.") He has also been able to take comfort in the
fact that African leaders have supported him, even as he insults them by
insisting that his thuggery and his many failings are the expression of his
African authenticity. South Africa, the regional power, has for years touted
a policy of "quiet diplomacy" toward Zimbabwe-a euphemism for silently
indulging Mugabe's crimes and giving him a stamp of legitimacy when he has
stolen elections. Why South Africa should provide this service is a matter
of speculation. No doubt, President Thabo Mbeki and, to a degree, his
predecessor, Nelson Mandela, don't want to dishonor a fellow liberation
leader. Yet they have dishonored themselves by failing to stand up to an
oppressor who is as contemptuous of his people as Ian Smith was.
Still, last week, when Mugabe was summoned to account for Zimbabwe's plight
at a meeting of the region's heads of state in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, it
was widely reported that he had exhausted his neighbors' indulgence. Given
the gratuitousness and the extremity of Mugabe's latest fits of violence,
coupled with the fact that thousands of refugees were braving the
crocodile-infested Limpopo River to enter South Africa illegally, the
prevailing story in the press and among diplomats was that the dictator was
finally approaching his endgame. Even if that were true, there is no obvious
way to prepare a democratic succession of power. The resilience of the
M.D.C. is impressive, but it is a weak party, inexperienced and internally
divided, and the only alternatives are rival factions within Mugabe's
Zanu-PF Party, which are controlled by his old enforcers-former leaders of
the Army and the security forces-who have grown immensely rich in the course
of the country's impoverishment.

Mugabe, meanwhile, remains defiant. He has begun campaigning for another
term as President, and as he left for Dar es Salaam his police surrounded
M.D.C. headquarters and again detained Tsvangirai and other members of the
Party's leadership. Mugabe said that he was looking forward to the
solidarity of his fellow African leaders, and he flew home boasting, "We got
full backing." They did ask him about Tsvangirai, and Mugabe reported, "I
told them he was beaten but he asked for it." The meeting concluded with the
leaders appointing Thabo Mbeki to encourage dialogue between Mugabe's
government and the opposition, and issuing a call for Western governments to
lift their sanctions, while demanding nothing in exchange. "He will continue
to tell the West to go hang," Mugabe's spokesman explained, but it was
obvious that it was Zimbabwe that was being left to the gallows. ?


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zimbabwe's Downward Spiral

catholic.org

4/2/2007 - 6:12 AM PST

Church Calls for Good Governance

By Father John Flynn

ROME, APRIL 2, 2007 (Zenit) - Church concern over the political and economic
situation in Zimbabwe is growing. After the government increased violence
against political opponents, Archbishop Pius Ncube called on Zimbabweans to
protest the state's actions, the Associated Press reported March 22.

"We have to stand up against this oppression," the archbishop of Bulawayo
said at a meeting of clerics, activists and diplomats.

In early March, Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of Zimbabwe's main opposition
party, was hospitalized after being beaten by police after his arrest at a
rally, the London-based Times newspaper reported March 13. The leader of the
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) was arrested along with dozens of
opposition officials, rights activists and clerics.

In addition to political troubles, the economy is in jeopardy. Recently, the
governor of the nation's reserve bank, Gideon Gono, admitted that he had run
out of funds, reported the Guardian newspaper March 1.

In testimony before the parliamentary committee on defense and home affairs,
Gono said there was no money to buy vehicles for the police or to print
passports. Electricity supplies and transport are also at risk, he said,
with little currency available to finance the operations.

A report published March 5 by the International Crisis Group, a
nongovernmental organization, provided a grim overview of the country's
situation. The political environment is in a state of flux. President Robert
Mugabe's current term of office is scheduled to end next March. Mugabe, 83,
has governed Zimbabwe since 1980. He has not made an official commitment to
retire.

Turmoil

In fact, Mugabe has expressed a desire to extend his time in office until
2010 by means of a constitutional amendment, supposedly in order to
harmonize the dates of presidential and legislative elections. This proposal
is being resisted both by the opposition MDC party and by elements within
the president's own ruling party, the Zimbabwe African National
Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF).

His prospects could, however, suffer due to the country's economic woes. The
International Monetary Fund predicts that inflation could pass 4,000% by the
end of this year. Salaries of most public officials are below the poverty
line, and a new round of home and business demolitions is being planned,
according to the International Crisis Group's report. A similar demolition
program in 2005 displaced around 700,000 people.

The report explained that Zimbabwe's economy shrunk by 40% between 1998 and
2006. The country's gross domestic product is expected to shrink a further
4.7% this year. Unemployment is now at the 80% level.

By mid-2005, income per capita fell to 1953 levels, a fall greater than that
experienced during recent conflicts in countries such as Ivory Coast and
Congo.

According to government data, 80% of the population in Zimbabwe was already
below the poverty line in 2002.

Life expectancy is one of the lowest in the world, at 36.6 years. According
to 2005 statistics, 20.1% of the population 15-49 is affected by HIV/AIDS.
This is among the highest infection rates in the world.

Call to dialogue

The news agency Fides published a joint statement March 22 by the leaders of
Zimbabwe's Christian Churches. The declaration was signed by the Zimbabwe
Catholic bishops conference on March 17. The statement spoke of a situation
in the country of "extreme danger and difficulty."

"Yet, it can also be turned into a moment of grace and of a new beginning,
if those on all sides who are responsible for causing the crisis repent and
heed the cry of the people," the bishops added.

The declaration confirmed support for legitimate political authority, but at
the same time stipulated that this power must not be abused through recourse
to violence, oppression and intimidation.

"We call on those who are responsible for the current crisis in our country
to repent and listen to the cry of their citizens," the bishops stated. At
the same time, they asked the people of Zimbabwe for "peace and restraint
when expressing their justified grievances and demonstrating for their human
rights." The declaration concluded with a call to dialogue to resolve the
crisis and build a democracy that respects the rights of every citizen.

Shortly before, on March 13, the South African Council of Churches (SACC)
published a statement calling attention to the grave situation in Zimbabwe.
The SACC is composed of 26 member churches and associated para-church
organizations, and represents the majority of Christians in South Africa.

The SACC drew attention to the human rights violations in Zimbabwe and the
fact that church leaders are being harassed by the police.

Eddie Makue, the secretary-general of the SACC, also accused authorities of
attempting to cause and exploit divisions within the churches in an attempt
to "divide and rule," and to stifle opposition.

"The inhuman actions of the Zimbabwe security forces are rapidly closing the
options open to the people of Zimbabwe in finding amicable resolutions for
the many challenges confronting this troubled nation," warned the SACC.

Regional impact

The statement also commented that the chaos was causing a massive migration
of Zimbabweans to other countries in the region, overwhelming the capacity
of relief services operated by the churches.

As a result, the situation in Zimbabwe is threatening to destabilize the
entire region.

Regarding the action of other countries in the region, Archbishop Ncube
recently criticized the South African government for failing to put
sufficient pressure on Zimbabwe.

According to a report published March 20 by the Voice of America radio
service, the archbishop said South Africa is in a good position to put
pressure on Zimbabwe. But, he said, the South African government is merely
watching.

A March 22 report by the London-based Financial Times newspaper observed
that southern African governments have traditionally favored a policy of
"quiet diplomacy" regarding Zimbabwe. Recently, however, Zambian President
Levy Mwanawasa called for a new approach.

"Quiet diplomacy has failed to solve the political and economic meltdown in
Zimbabwe," he said. Mwanawasa likened the situation in Zimbabwe to "a
sinking Titanic whose passengers are jumping out to save their lives," in
reference to the millions of citizens who have fled the country.

Nevertheless, a meeting held Thursday by the 14-nation Southern African
Development Community (SADC) regional bloc opted to continue a low-profile
approach. The summit, held in Tanzania to discuss the situation in Zimbabwe,
merely agreed that South African President Thabo Mbeki should try to mediate
in the political crisis in Zimbabwe, the BBC reported Thursday. Mbeki will
try to arrange talks between Mugabe and the opposition.

It remains to be seen if Zimbabwe's president will listen to his neighbors.
Just prior to the meeting, police surrounded the party headquarters of the
Movement for Democratic Change in the country's capital, Harare, Reuters
reported Wednesday. The police briefly detained MDC leader Morgan
Tsvangirai, along with other party officials.

Also on Thursday, the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and
Madagascar (SECAM) published a statement on Zimbabwe. The declaration
followed a meeting of the standing committee of SECAM, held in Accra, Ghana.

"The situation in Zimbabwe is not the result of a natural catastrophe or
only of adverse international conditions," the statement noted. "It is
largely self-inflicted. It is a crisis of moral leadership and of bad
governance."

"We strongly appeal to the government of Zimbabwe, in the name of Jesus, to
immediately stop the violence," declared SECAM. The statement also called
upon the country's political leaders "to be fair, just and compassionate in
governing their people." An appeal that, many hope, will not fall on deaf
ears.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Scribe arrested as Mbeki expresses optimism over Zimbabwe

zimbabwejournalists.com

2nd Apr 2007 01:59 GMT

By a Correspondent

HARARE - Police in Zimbabwe have arrested Gift Phiri, the Chief Reporter for
the London-based The Zimbabwean newspaper as the country's security forces
continue with their crackdown on the opposition and independent journalists.

Phiri was arrested Sunday afternoon by four police officers just outside his
Sunningdale home. His lawyer, Alec Muchadehama was frantically trying to
locate him last night.

Wilf Mbanga, the Editor of The Zimbabwean said the police had confiscated
Phiri's computer and cell phone.

"He is currently being held by the Law and Order Maintenance section at
Harare Central," said Mbanga. "We fear greatly for Gift's safety."

It is not yet clear why the police have arrested Phiri but many assume it is
for the stories he writes for the Zimbabwean and other media publications
that are based outside the country. This is not the first time that Phiri
has been arrested by the police.

This is the second time he is being arrested for his journalism work.

The Association of Zimbabwe Journalists in the UK (AZJ-UK) condemned Phiri's
arrest and called on the Zimbabwe government to allow his lawyer free access
to his client.

"It is sad that the situation in our country continues to deteriorate with
journalists being harassed and arrested for merely doing their job," a
statement from the association said. "We believe such arrests are meant as
warnings to other independent scribes that this is what can happen to them
if they continue to be critical. Ultimately journalists also end up being
weighed down upon by court processes resulting in many starting to censor
themselves for their own safety."

Police in Zimbabwe have in the past few weeks been abducting, beating up and
allegedly torturing opposition activists with the information ministry going
out of its way to threaten journalists to steer clear of the armed forces
story and writing "negative" stories about the situation in Zimbabwe.

The Zimbabwe government recently issued a warning to journalists writing for
the international media from here saying the government may be forced to act
against them if they continued to "peddle lies" about the situation in the
country.

Riled by piling international pressure following the March 11 arrests and
severe assaults of opposition activists, including MDC president, Morgan
Tsvangirai and the killing of an activist by the police, the government,
castigated journalists writing for UK-based publication, in particular Peta
Thornycroft and Jan Raath.

The Media and Information Commission threatened to deal with the journalists
whom it said were being used by the West to pursue the US "regime change"
agenda by portraying Zimbabwe as a country on fire.

A statement from the ministry of information said the Zimbabwe government
"therefore, advises these reporters, who include Peta Thornycroft and Jan
Raath, to stay clear of the security forces, indeed to shun an opposition
politician who has been deep-throating them. Should this not stop,
Government may be forced to act against them and the politician".

Earlier in the year, Bill Saidi, an award-winning editor who with the weekly
Standard newspaper, received a bullet in the post after publishing a cartoon
depicting soldiers comparing their paltry salaries.

Zimbabwe is one of the 10 worst places in the world in which one could work
as a journalist. Tough media laws have seen many a journalist leaving the
country and the industry to safeguard their lives.

Meanwhile South Africa's President, Thabo Mbeki is reported to have
expressed optimism that he would succeed in mediating in Zimbabwe's
political crisis following last week's SADC meeting in Tanzania to discuss
the ongoing crisis.

Mbeki said: "We are always optimistic. I think everybody in Zimbabwe
recognises the fact that there are problems, that these problems need to be
solved and the fact that it needs a united response of the people of
Zimbabwe."

The South African leader has been criticised for his softly softly approach
towards the Zanu PF government. Many believe Mbeki can play an important
role in helping bring back democracy and the rule of law in Zimbabwe.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Cricketers yet to be paid for cup games

zimbabwejournalists.com

2nd Apr 2007 01:24 GMT

By a Correspondent

Zimbabwe's cricketers, home after their early exit from the World Cup, have
been told that they will not get paid until June. The match fees were
US$2000 (1000) per game plus US$500 for a half-century.

It will also be June before the players start getting their salaries in
foreign currency. The players are paid in Zimbabwe dollars, and with the
currency losing value daily, the salaries have been effectively reduced to
nothing.

What makes it particularly hard for the players is that their contracts
contain a clause stating that they will be available for all matches
organized by Zimbabwe Cricket.

This effectively means that they cannot play club cricket in England this
season. If any of the players joins an English club, ZC will almost
certainly withhold the money for breach of contract.

ZC managing director Ozias Bvute knew that some players would join clubs in
England after the World Cup and were likely not to return.

The inter-provincial four-day Logan Cup is due to start in April, and a
number of A-team tours have been planned as the country prepares for a
return to Test cricket in November.

"We have been told that we cannot join clubs in England," said a player who
would only speak anonymously, "but at the same time we will only get our
money from the World Cup in June. This means we will be stuck here until
June, and if we join clubs in England we will lose all our money as we would
have breached our contracts."

Zimbabwe Cricket are believed to be in the red, already operating on an
overdraft with a large amount of the World Cup money having been spent
before it has even been received.

. Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul-Haq has hit back at local media and rejected
match-fixing claims after his team's shock World Cup exit and the murder of
coach Bob Woolmer.

Inzamam, in his first press conference since the traumatic events, said it
was "unfair" to talk about match-fixing. "The team had been playing and
winning matches. There were no such comments. Now they are spreading such
rumours," he said, referring to comments by former players.

Pakistan lost their opening match to the West Indies by 54 runs before a
humiliating three-wicket defeat at the hands of Ireland on Mar 17.

The following day, Woolmer was found strangled in his hotel room. Woolmer's
death has sparked one of the most complex murder investigations in Jamaican
history. It also triggered speculation about possible links to match-fixing
and illegal betting.

The Pakistan team was finger-printed and provided DNA samples, with Inzamam
among three members of the entourage questioned twice.

A downbeat Inzamam lauded Woolmer's services, calling him "a great man and a
very sincere and dedicated coach". "The media did not provide the support
and encouragement the players needed," he said. "I was blamed for everything
as if I was running the cricket board and dictating the selection
committee."

Meanwhile Pakistan Cricket Board chief Nasim Ashraf said that two senior
police officers would leave for Jamaica tomorrow to join investigations into
Woolmer's murder. "I have no doubt that our players are innocent," he added.

He also revealed that the existing contracts system will be replaced by
performance-based deals. He said the move was designed to reduce the
influence of the players and to hand power back to the management.

"A new contract system will be put in place within the next 90 days," he
said.

Ashraf also revealed that a three-man review committee would be set up to
examine Pakistan's performance in the World Cup.

The Telegraph


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

State Dept. Daily Press Briefing March 30, 2007


Monday, 2 April 2007, 11:16 am
Press Release: US State Department
Daily Press Briefing
Sean McCormack, Spokesman
Washington, DC
March 30, 2007

Excerpt:

QUESTION: What can you tell us about Zimbabwe and the latest that's happened
there? Anything?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, they did have -- the SADC did have this meeting and
they issued a statement out of it. I think it's safe to say that we would
have wished for something a bit stronger out of the SADC and taking a little
bit more firm stance vis- -vis what's going on in Zimbabwe. We can take
heart, however, from the fact that they actually did have this summit
meeting and they did get together to at least discuss the issue of Zimbabwe,
if they didn't necessarily take the actions that one might have hoped that
they would take.

QUESTION: Do you think that President Mugabe has been emboldened by the sort
of fairly mild response? For example, his ruling party today adopted a
motion to hold elections in 2008 and endorsed Mugabe as their candidate. So
that -- you know, I'm not saying it's directly (inaudible) or anything else,
but it appears that it's not really having any impact at all -- this
international pressure that you're putting on.

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, you know, I can't speak to what their calculations are.
Clearly he has become very intransigent in the face of a lot of
international pressure. That doesn't mean that you let up on the
international pressure. I think that it makes it all the more important we
continue to focus the spotlight on the kind of behavior that is being
demonstrated by President Mugabe as well as his government. It's sad, it's
outrageous, and certainly we hope better for the Zimbabwean people. And we
already have sanctions in place, so it's really a matter of looking at what
else we might do with the international community, and part of that effort
is to work with states in the region to get them to increase the pressure
because some -- the situation obviously in Zimbabwe can't continue as it is.
This is an economy that is in complete ruin and there's real suffering
that's ongoing as a result of the decrease in the level of human rights as
well as democratic rights in that state.

QUESTION: Are you reaching out to South Africa to ask them to do a lot more?
On the flip side, they of course fear that if they're too strong in their
response that they'll have a flood of refugees. I mean, that's one of their
problems. But are you reaching out to them and asking them to do more or --

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, we've encouraged them to do everything that they
possible can. There's always a delicate balance between applying the
international pressure and the concern for the humanitarian situation of the
people that might possibly be affected by it, in this case the Zimbabwean
people. So key to whatever solution is arrived at in Zimbabwe is going to be
the efforts of South Africa as well as others of Zimbabwe's neighbors.

QUESTION: You said yesterday and perhaps the day before that you wanted SADC
to make clear to Mugabe that his behavior was unacceptable.

MR. MCCORMACK: Right.

QUESTION: Did they fall short, fall short?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, they fell short.

QUESTION: Fell short?

MR. MCCORMACK: Fell short.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

How Mugabe will seek to stay in power at all costs



Silence Chihuri

President Robert Mugabe may have yet again gotten the all-important
endorsement of his party as flag-bearer in the impending presidential
election, but the octogenarian statesman is fully aware that he is far from
being embraced by the generality of Zimbabweans. There is obviously no doubt
that Mugabe will seek to depend on all the unorthodox means at his disposal
to keep his waning political fortunes afloat. The stakes are just too high
for Mugabe to take any chances even though this is an outright lose-lose
situation for him.

ZANU PF as a party has the democratic right to choose and agree on the
presidential candidate to represent them in the elections and on the same
token, the people of Zimbabwe also have the inalienable democratic right to
chose a leader of their choice without coercion or the threat to their
lives. But history has it that Mugabe will be employing maximum use of force
and dirty so as ensure that he scraps through and the following are some of
the examples of how he may seek to go about it. Immediately he may start by
another internal purge from within his ranks because events of the past few
weeks demonstrated a rebellious atmosphere in the ruling party and Mugabe
would normally seek to calm the storm from within first.

A purge is definitely looming and even thought Joyce Mujuru may be largely
left alone, Mugabe will torture her by putting right at the forefront of his
campaign bandwagon. Mujuru will be made to campaign for Mugabe in the
forthcoming elections and if she is really made of that steel then that is
when she will have to show he mettle. The service chiefs will also be
summoned to swear a new oath of allegiance should none of them get the chop
because there may have been sown a few seeds of mistrust due to the recent
events. From within Mugabe will then expand his consolidation of power and
set up the course for the election campaign that in no doubt will be his
last but most difficult. It will be very difficult for Mugabe this time
because he is not carrying his entire party in the manner that he has done
before and the outlook nationally is as gloomy as never before. It is a real
political mountain to climb for the "young old man."

Already, the announcement that parliamentary seats will be raised from 150
to 210 (House of Assembly) and 66 to 84 (Senate) is the clearest indication
that the con machinery at the heart of ZANU PF electoral survival is already
at work. Obviously what they intend to do is to sub-divide all the rural
constituents into smaller and winnable fiefdoms because the ruling party
still commands support in the communal areas. The urban areas will be
largely unaffected by this latest demographic nonsense because there the
ruling party is fully aware that the MDC continues with its significant
hold. It is the rural constituencies that will be decimated so as to
capitalise on the concentrated support there. It is called hook and crook.

Everyone can see that there is neither logic nor agency for the redrawing of
the constituent boundaries and increasing the number of parliamentarians
most of whom have only effected marginal improvements to the present
constituencies is not going to better the lives of Zimbabweans in any way.
The obvious and undesired result out of all this will surely be an
exacerbation of the burden on an already overstretched fiscal being of the
nation. We have not even seen the gains brought about by the newly
established senate that was also controversially bulldozed through against
all common sense, yet the clueless government is already mooting the idea of
expanding the legislative arrangements. But those who can put one and one
together can see through the veneer of the ZANU PF hogwash because it is all
political nonsense at best and at worst, it is the dangerous survival
instincts of a dying dictatorship.

The next phase will be the stepping up of violence and intimidation of
political opponents. The idea of increasing the players in the field is also
another ploy by Mugabe to make sure that there will be an increased number
of those who will be towing the party line. This means that consequently,
more people will be seeking to ensure that he in-turn, wins the presidential
elections. The meaning of this is that overall, there will be heightened
tension and the amount of residual violence through clashes of supporters
will be increased. Mugabe has nothing to lose here although common sense
would point to a man who also has nothing in it for himself because he will
be damned if he loses and even more so if he wins by stealth. Mugabe should
surely be coming to terms with an actual scenario of "dying in power"
because one way or another he is going to die, politically that is, because
even if he may not meet his natural death as a result of these coming
elections, his political demise is much more certain than ever before.

Mugabe will ensure that the campaign efforts of his opponents are
systematically frustrated through bureaucratic stifling as well as the heavy
handedness of the marauding so-called law enforcement agents. The usually
denial of access to venues of campaign rallies and the uneven access to the
state media apparatus will never be rationalised. The national television,
radio, and newspaper services will continue to be abused by the government
for their undeserved benefit at the expense of fellow politicians from the
opposition. There will be so many odds against the opposition forces but
their greatest weapon is the mass anger that only waiting to be tapped and
applied against the establishment. The opposition will simply need to be
united and then rally the nation behind them because the people are
evidently tired.

Also up in the sleeve of the regime would be rigging of the elections. By
deploying his charges right there at the ballot centres where Mugabe would
be seeking to steal victory through the usual systematic manipulation of the
electoral process. This time there has to be more vigilance and the
slightest thwarting of the polling agents especially those representing
opponents from the unhindered execution of their duties should be actively
protested against. Mugabe's rigging establishment will be out in full force
to try and see how they can gift him with an undue victory because there is
something in it for these people as well. These are the same people who have
been eating off the system and they owe it to that disgraceful system to
preserve it, and they will seek to preserve it even from an imminent
downfall.

The calls for a new constitution may not necessarily benefit opposition
forces in this coming election because the process is complicated and as it
is now, quite bereft of time. The regime will ensure that the constitutional
process if ever kick-started, would be prolonged, protracted and could
potentially last for the entire duration of the election campaign and that
would ensure minimum benefit to the opposition forces. This is a regime that
is so dependant on foul play to frustrate fair play and this time will be no
different. One way to circumvent such potential manipulation of the
constitutional process would be to make only key amendments especially to
those significantly sticking points to the current constitution.

There may be need to look at the electoral provisions especially how the
current constitution favours the ruling party through extortionate
allocation of parliamentary seats vis a vis appointed versus elected
members. This obviously gives the ruling party an unfair advantage and
defeats the whole essence of electing people to parliament. The issue of the
repressive media laws such as POSA and AIPPA, and the undemocratic
regulations pertaining to holding of political meetings and rallies, all
these could simply be repealed in a targetted as opposed to a wholesale
manner. The elections could also be held on the premise that who ever wins
them and forms the next government would undertake the constitutional
process from wherever it would be left. This is because a constitutional
process is not a simple process and it is one that should never be rushed
because it will revisit the country in a nasty way.

People may say that a new draft constitution is already complete but not
everyone has seen it and most people don't even know what it looks like or
what it contains, or what it does not contain. IF the document were truly
ready then this is the time to make it available to the people of Zimbabwe
for a preview because such advance insight will do no harm at all to process
that in any case, would be supposed to be done in the open. People would
need to acquaint themselves with the new document and study it so as to make
an informed decision when they endorse or reject it in a referendum.

It is one thing to call for a new constitution before the next polls, but
the fact that we are now talking of months rather than years to go to the
elections would even make it all time sensitive. People should never
overlook the time factor in such a complicated national process.

Silence Chihuri writes from Scotland. He can be contacted on
silencechihuri@hotmail.com

Back to the Top
Back to Index