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Zimbabwe journalist murdered 'over leaked Tsvangirai pictures'

Independent, UK

By Daniel Howden, Deputy Foreign Editor
Published: 04 April 2007

A local journalist suspected of having links to Zimbabwe's opposition has
been found murdered following an escalation of the government's campaign of
violence and intimidation.

Edward Chikombo, a part-time cameraman for the state broadcaster ZBC, was
abducted from his home in the Glenview township outside Harare last week.
His body was discovered at the weekend near the village of Darwendale, 50
miles west of the capital, The Independent has learnt.

There are concerns in Harare that the killing may be linked to the smuggling
out of the country of television pictures of the badly injured opposition
leader Morgan Tsvangirai after he was beaten up by police on 11 March.

A former colleague of Mr Chikombo said: "It's not clear whether the murder
was a message to the media or a political killing." The footage of Mr
Tsvangirai leaving a Harare courthouse with a suspected fractured skull, and
then lying in a hospital bed, provoked a storm of international criticism of
Robert Mugabe's regime. Journalists for the state broadcaster routinely film
news as it happens in the country but cannot use the footage in heavily
censored bulletins. Some pictures do find a way out of the country and in
the past staff at ZBC have been sacked or harassed under suspicion of
selling it to foreign broadcasters.

The government has banned both the BBC and CNN from reporting from Zimbabwe
and any unacc-redited journalist faces a two-year prison sentence.

Since taking power in 1980, Mr Mugabe has nationalised media outlets and the
last independent voice disappeared with the recent closure of the Daily
News. Local journalists are forced to work undercover for international
outlets while accreditation papers are routinely refused to organisations
seen as hostile.

Eyewitnesses saw a group of armed men abduct Mr Chikombo last Thursday. His
captors drove a silver pick-up truck of the same make used in numerous
similar abductions during a sustained three-week terror campaign targeting
government opponents.

The pattern of abductions and punishment beatings has become a terrifying
nightly ritual in Zimbabwe, where scores of opposition activists and their
relatives have been attacked by gangs using unmarked cars and police-issue
weapons. The government has refused to confirm or deny its involvement in
these "hit squads" but Mr Mugabe has spoken of the police's right to "bash"
the opposition and of "terrorist acts" by opponents.

Another local journalist, Gift Phiri, a senior reporter for the exiled The
Zimbabwean newspaper, was detained and beaten by police on Sunday. Mr Phiri
was picked up near his home in Sunningdale, in Harare. His lawyer, Rangu
Nyamurundira, said his client had been badly beaten while in custody. "When
I saw him, Gift could not sit down as he had been very badly beaten on his
back and his buttocks. He told me four policemen, including the chief
superintendent, had tortured him for hours.

"One of them pinned him to the floor with his boot, while the others beat
him with an assortment of a baseball bat, metal handle and a police baton."

Shortly after his arrest Mr Phiri was accused of throwing petrol bombs at
police stations but that charge was changed to, "practising as a journalist
without accreditation".

Mr Phiri's newspaper confirmed that he had applied for accreditation but had
received no response.

Meanwhile, a British journalist, Alex Perry, has left Zimbabwe after his
arrest and release, Time magazine confirmed yesterday. He was detained for
apparently entering the country without official media accreditation. Mr
Perry, the South Africa correspondent for the news magazine, was arrested in
Zimbabwe on Saturday, apparently for entering the country without official
media accreditation. He was freed on Monday night by Zimbabwean police after
paying a small fine.

Time said in a statement: "Time correspondent Alex Perry was briefly
detained while on assignment in Gwanda, Zimbabwe. He has since been released
and is no longer in the country."


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Lovemore Matombo: Mugabe's brutal repression will not break us

Independent, UK

I was arrested and tortured. This is the price workers in Zimbabwe pay
Published: 04 April 2007

Zimbabwean workers are staying away from work today, as they did yesterday,
because our economy is in tatters, and our proposals for reform have been
ignored.

I know that British people who care about the workers of Zimbabwe - and the
many Zimbabweans who have fled to the UK - will be demonstrating outside the
Embassy of Zimbabwe on the Strand this lunchtime, and I thank them for their
commitment to our just cause.

Zimbabwe has an inflation rate of more than 1,700 per cent, four-fifths of
the workforce are unemployed, and life expectancy has plummeted to just 37
years because of starvation and disease. Ordinary Zimbabweans can no longer
afford to buy the basic necessities to feed ourselves and our families.

For those who can work, the average minimum wage for a Zimbabwean is
Z$90,000 (£182) a month, but a family needs at least Z$938,000 to pay for
necessities - barely enough to buy bread, let alone provide for their
families. A pint of milk recently rose in price from Z$10,000 to Z$17,000
overnight.

The Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, Nicholas Goche,
is an example of the shameful behaviour of the Government of Zimbabwe. He
has been quoted saying he has been giving his farm workers a paltry Z$10,000
a month.

It's difficult to explain what this means in monetary terms, because the
official exchange rate of US$1 to Z$250 is a joke - unofficially, the
exchange rate is closer to US$1 to Z$7,000. In that light, the Zimbabwean
Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) demand for a minimum wage of Z$1 million
looks more realistic.

People often ask me how ordinary Zimbabweans are coping with this situation,
and the sad answer is that increasing numbers simply aren't. One in four
Zimbabweans has left the country. Others have returned to the land, scraping
a living or, sometimes, starving.

But the trade union movement is still alive and still fighting for the
rights and livelihoods of ordinary Zimbabweans. Our general strike this week
has shown that we are unbroken, despite the brutal repression of the current
regime.

In September 2006, the leadership of the ZCTU was arrested for participating
in a peaceful protest for jobs, for measures to counter hyper-inflation, and
for greater access to medical treatment. I was among those arrested,
tortured and denied access to medical treatment. This is the price that
workers in Zimbabwe pay for the right to demonstrate for a living wage.

We subsequently issued the Mugabe Government with a list of proposals to
make life more bearable for workers in Zimbabwe. We have been ignored by the
Government, so we have been forced into action.

We have already experienced threats and raids on our offices to intimidate
us into calling off the strike. ZCTU staff have been beaten up and our
flyers, files and video tapes seized. The government has tried to mislead
Zimbabweans by placing false stories in the media suggesting that our action
has been called off. They claim we are engaged in politics. The only
politics that we are engaged in is the politics of the stomach, politics
that will ensure that workers earn a living wage.

Falsely accused of fomenting violence, we have urged our supporters only to
stay away from work, not to demonstrate in the streets, because of the
brutal attacks they would face from the security services.

Despite all this, we must take action - the violence of the security
services is nothing compared to the violence of hunger, poverty and disease
that ordinary Zimbabweans suffer every day. We are sustained by the support
we have received from workers around the world - from Britain and the rest
of Europe, from the Americas, from Asia and the Pacific, and especially from
our colleagues in Africa. The South African and Nigerian trade union
movements in particular have stood with us whenever we have needed their
support, and their action demonstrates that the failure of their leaders to
stand up to Mugabe does not reflect the views of ordinary Africans. Those
trade unionists have experienced dictatorial regimes and have proud
traditions of fighting for freedom.

Whatever the regime does in response to our general strike, we will continue
to struggle for workers - we have already announced that there will be a
national action every three months from now on until the situation in the
country improves.

We believe in a better Zimbabwe, where our people are prosperous, healthy
and free, and we will not stop fighting for that.

The writer is president of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions


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'Back Zimbabwe protest' call

The Guardian

Press Association
Wednesday April 4, 2007 5:08 AM

Workers across the UK are being urged to demonstrate their support for a
national strike in Zimbabwe to highlight the effect of the "crippling"
economic climate on ordinary members of the public.

Employees in London were called on to join a lunchtime demonstration outside
the Zimbabwe Embassy in the Strand, where vigils have been held for more
than four years to complain about human rights abuses under president Robert
Mugabe's regime.

The TUC and campaign group Action for Southern Africa (Actsa) said people in
this country should protest against the "violence and torture" meted out to
trade unionists in Zimbabwe.

The strike has been called over the state of the economy in Zimbabwe, where
inflation has soared to 1,700% and unemployment has reached 80%.

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: "Zimbabwe's people are suffering
from Mugabe's appalling economic mismanagement, corruption and brutal
repression.

"They are standing up for their rights, and we must stand with them."

Lela Kogbara, chairman of Actsa, said: "As with every oppressive regime,
women and workers are left bearing the brunt. Join us as we stand in
solidarity with the people of Zimbabwe in their struggle for peace, justice
and freedom."

Kathryn Llewellyn, head of campaigns at Actsa, added that workers attending
protests in Zimbabwe were now being "branded" after being beaten up by
police and other officials.

"We are disgusted by the news that state bullies are now branding helpless
protestors after having beaten them. This relentless state violence is
despicable and must be opposed.

"We stand in solidarity with the general strike and call on people to join
our demonstration outside Zimbabwe House."

© Copyright Press Association Ltd 2007, All Rights Reserved.


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Fearful Zimbabweans heed warnings to boycott strike

The Star

Many too afraid of losing their jobs in harsh economic environment

April 04, 2007 Edition 2

Cris Chinaka

Fear crippled a national strike called by Zimbabwe unions as workers,
companies and shops heeded government warnings to continue with business in
an economy verging on collapse.

President Robert Mugabe's government says the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade
Unions (ZCTU) called yesterday's strike as part of a plot by the main
opposition Movement for Democratic Change to oust it, and promised tough
action against any open protests.

The ZCTU said the two-day stayaway action was spurred by Zimbabwe's economic
crisis, which has seen inflation soar to more than 1 700% and left most
workers struggling to pay their bills and feed their families.

The government sent a helicopter patrol winging over the city while riot
police patrolled central Harare, but there were few visible signs of
increased police presence in industrial districts and townships.

Journalists who drove around Harare's industrial areas early yesterday found
many firms operating as usual, and the normal hordes of unemployed waiting
outside factories seeking employment.

Banks, offices and shops were also open in the city centre and a journalist
in Zimbabwe's second largest city, Bulawayo, said many businesses there
appeared to be operating normally.

"Zimbabweans are very risk averse, and in this case they are unsure of the
benefits of the stayaway, but very sure of the possibility of the wrath of
the state," Eldred Masunungure, a political commentator, said.

The ZCTU says workers want a minimum wage of Z$1-million (R28 600) and for
the government to resolve an economic meltdown and increase access to Aids
drugs.
The ZCTU accused authorities of intimidation, but said the job boycott was
successful.

"Considering the (beatings) and intimidation we have witnessed recently,
(the strike) has been quite successful," ZCTU president Lovemore Matombo
told reporters.

"It has been more effective in industries were some workers have stayed at
home," he added.

Matombo said earlier he hoped workers would risk open defiance to protest
against an economic crisis that has seen the country battle the world's
highest inflation rate, unemployment of more than 80% and frequent shortages
of food and fuel.

An executive at a Harare clothing factory said almost all his 50 employees
had turned up for work, and one of them, Dickson Mapara, said they feared
losing their jobs in such a hard economic environment.

"I understand what the ZCTU is trying to do for us . but things are so hard
I cannot afford to lose this job, and although I get very little, I cannot
afford to get nothing at all," he said as some of his colleagues shouted at
a reporter to get off the premises. - Reuters


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'We're suffering too much, Mugabe must go'

The Telegraph

By a Special Correspondent in Harare
Last Updated: 1:41am BST 04/04/2007

††††† Deep in the maize fields of rural Zimbabwe, where President Robert
Mugabe once led the "liberation struggle" against white rule, even lifelong
supporters of the 83-year-old despot are crying for him to go.

††††† Voices of dissent used to be heard only in the cities and among the
Ndebele minority of the south.

††††† But Mr Mugabe now faces criticism - albeit whispered and furtive -
from people who have spent their lives swallowing his propaganda.

††††† "People are feeling the pinch, everyone is feeling the pinch and there
is only one person to blame, Mugabe," said one 34-year-old, who illegally
trades foreign currency.

††††† Like everyone else who spoke to this newspaper, he was too afraid of
reprisals to give his name.

††††† "My elderly mother, her friends in the villages, the fighters in the
liberation wars, they are now suffering too much and they know things must
change."

††††† advertisement
††††† Factories, shops and offices fell silent yesterday as a two-day strike
began in Zimbabwe. It was called by the trade union movement, supposedly to
protest over the calamitous state of the economy, but in reality to call for
Mr Mugabe's departure after 27 years in power.

††††† But the strike was patchily observed. In the capital, Harare, most
shops and businesses opened as usual. In the second city of Bulawayo, the
strike was more effective.

††††† Yet hopes for change were high when The Daily Telegraph toured
Zimbabwe. In the marketplaces of Mbare, a rundown township in Harare,
vegetable salesmen said their businesses were collapsing.

††††† "We have the produce to sell, but the costs are now too high for
people to buy it," said one man who gave his name only as James.

††††† "It is Mugabe who led us into liberation, but now he is killing us. He
must go," he said, nervously scouting the market for eavesdroppers or
informers. Minutes later, hundreds of street vendors selling sugar scattered
as a police patrol swept the township. Mr Mugabe banned these small-scale
traders from working last year, effectively denying them even a meagre
living.

††††† "This cannot continue. People have nothing to feed their families. We
cannot stand it," said one sugar seller. But Mr Mugabe has been anointed as
the ruling Zanu-PF party's candidate for next year's presidential elections.
If he wins another five-year term - which is almost certain - the way will
be clear for him to stay in power until he is 89.

††††† Mr Mugabe has suffered one small reverse. He had planned to postpone
the elections altogether until 2010 and keep the presidential term unchanged
at six years. His colleagues appear to have forced him to retreat on those
minor points - but the old despot has once again been given a new lease of
political life. Southern African leaders meeting in Tanzania failed to
condemn his campaign of repression.

††††† "They call him the wily old fox and he's shown that yet again. Now
there is no chance he will step down," said a white farmer who is among
thousands who have lost their land. President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa,
chosen to mediate between Mr Mugabe and Zimbabwe's weak and divided
opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change, disagrees. Asked by
the Financial Times if Mr Mugabe would eventually retire peacefully, Mr
Mbeki said: "I think so. Yes, sure."

††††† There is talk in Harare that Mr Mugabe, having won next year's
election, will then retire and hand over power to an anointed successor.
This scenario may be Zimbabwe's only hope.

††††† "Once Mugabe has gone, the outside world will be happy again to deal
with Zimbabwe," said a businessman closely linked to Zanu-PF.

††††† "We will see donor money coming again, the International Monetary Fund
will help us. This is what we need, and the only thing in the way is
Mugabe."


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Interview: human rights lawyer Alec Muchadehama

New Zimbabwe


SW Radio Africa's Violet Gonda talks with Alec Muchadehama, the ubiquitous human rights lawyer who seems to be involved with every legal case of human rights activists arrested by President Robert Mugabe's regime:

Last updated: 04/04/2007 15:34:28

Broadcast on Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Violet Gonda: Working as a human rights lawyer representing political detainees in Zimbabwe has become quite a challenge. As the Mugabe regime continues itís crackdown on opponents, abducting victims from their homes and hospitals, lawyers are increasingly spending more of their time in High Court making urgent applications to access their clients.

In many of these cases detainees are deliberately being starved, tortured and denied medical treatment. My guest on the programme Hot Seat today is lawyer Alec Muchadehama who has represented a variety of activists in the pro-democracy movement.

Welcome on the programme Hot Seat Mr Muchadehama.

Alec Muchadehama: Thank you very much.

Violet: Now let us start with what is it really like working as a human rights lawyer in Zimbabwe right now?

Alec Muchadehama: Itís quite challenging, I think that is what I can say because as you might know, a lawyerís allegiance is virtually to the laws of Zimbabwe and his job is basically to represent his clients to the best of his ability and there is really a limit to what a lawyer can do in terms of executing his duties. One normally goes to Court, obtains Court Orders then execution is done by other people.

But, what we have experienced in the short while is extremely challenging circumstances where for instance, if you find; even from long back like starting at 13th September 2006 when the ZCTU members were assaulted right through to the arrest of Morgan Tsvangirai, Arthur Mutambara, Lovemore Madhuku and others, and even currently, the arrest of Ian Makone, (MP) Paul Madzore and the others who are in custody.

You find that what we used to brag about as Lawyers for Human Rights was our reaction time. We normally got to the scenes between five to ten minutes of receiving instructions to attend a particular case. But, what now happens is that if you try to follow up on any case that is arising during this time and you go to a police station and ask who has been arrested and why theyíve been arrested and where they are and so on, the first thing that you are met with is some feigning of ignorance by the police who will be claiming that they do not know where the clients are, and they are not responsible, they are not investigating them and so forth. So you have that first challenge of even locating where the clients are.

And, what the police are now doing is that instead of taking them normally to the police station nearest where they have been arrested from, they scatter these people. In the last instance where Morgan Tsvangirai and others were arrested you find that some of the accused persons were detained at Nyabhira, some at Selous, some at Borrowdale Police station, some at Braeside, some at all over in and around Harare. The idea being that it must be extremely difficult for us to locate these clients. And, the police, they will be a connivance among the whole organisation that lawyers must not know where these clients are. So that again becomes problematic.

But apart from that, when it comes also the question of even when you come to know; by whatever means; as to where the person will be detained and so on, the police will again deny you access to see the client so that you interview them to take the normal details of who their names are, what they have been arrested for, whether they need anything immediately, including advising their relatives and so on. And so, because you will not be able to see them, we get stuck right on the first hurdle as to how do you represent a person who has not given you instructions, and who you do not know what they have been arrested for.

So, as a stop gap measure, we then rush to Courts; normally the High Court in this case; on an urgent basis, and we know for certain that those detained in custody will be assaulted by the police. And, part of the reason why the police will be scattering them and denying us access is so that they continue to assault them without us knowing. By the time we see them we see more injuries than the person themselves. So we rush to the High Court seeking basically those things, firstly access to our clients so that we see them, we talk to them and find out what is happening.

But also, to seek orders to enable our clients to be treated at medical institutions because, like I said, invariably they will have been assaulted by the police in a very bad way, within a way such that barring us having to represent them, we would be more worried about really whether they are going to live or not. So you become worried about that aspect that really they have to be referred to hospital.

Apart from the question of injuries and the need to get to hospital, there will also be the aspect of food which I think is a basic necessity in life. But when they get arrested they are not given food, either because at the police station there is no food or because deliberately the police will be starving these accused persons. So again, we apply for such orders. And, apart from that, we also ask that those that are arrested be taken to Court as soon as possible because we know that if we donít include that the chances are that the police will detain those accused persons for as long as they want. Right now we have a situation where one of the accused persons has spent over two weeks in police custody when we were being denied access and notwithstanding the Court Orders, the police were still continuing to detain them.

Violet: So you know, you seem to be representing a lot of people, what cases are you working on right now?

Alec Muchadehama: Right now we have cases in which mostly MDC activists are being accused of bombing certain sites around the country. There is also the issue of a journalist who is also accused of bombing places in conjunction with the MDC.

Violet: and how often are you in Court then?

Alec Muchadehama: Oh these days almost on a daily basis we are in Court. Either we are in the High Court applying for their release or being taken to Court or medication or food. Or, we are at the Magistrates Court applying for bail or we are handling trials for those cases whose dockets will have been completed. So itís really a daily thing for us here.

Violet: Now the MDC had said that at least 200 activists had been arrested (countrywide) this past month with many unaccounted for. What is your estimation of those who have been arrested in the last few days, alone?

Alec Muchadehama: For those that have been arrested I think so far at least fifteen are supposed to be appearing in Court, at least in Harare for a fact. And, of those that are appearing in Court when one looks at the charges you will find that the charges really have nothing in relation to those people. In other words, there is no connection between the people who are arrested and the so called charges or the bombings that are being talked about. So you really wonder why these people are being arrested at all.

And, as you are correctly pointing out, most of them are actually being arrested, they sit then in custody, some are released, some are re-arrested and the police are now on an arresting spree. They raid people and just arrest randomly and wantonly, beat them up, trump-up false charges and so on. So itís a real, I donít know whether itís a campaign or something else, but itís so widespread that really no one is safe because the police can simply arrest you and lay false charges and even in some instances drag you to Court and oppose bail.

Violet: And itís also reported that that some of these activists that were arrested this past week were severely assaulted in custody and had to be hospitalised but that the police later abducted them from hospital and re-arrested them. Can you confirm this?

Alec Muchadehama: Indeed, we actually talked to those people who were arrested and they were also examined by medical practitioners; qualified medical practitioners. And, all of them confirmed that they were assaulted by the police; not ordinary assaults; they were brutalised, tortured both physically and mentally. They have even been threatened with death. And, when they go to hospital it will be through the Court Orders, which we would have obtained in the High Court.

On Saturday we managed to place others at the Avenues Clinic by the consent of the State and the Court so ordered that those people had to remain at the Avenues Clinic for treatment under the guard of the Prison Services. But itís very sad that the Prison Doctor and some other superiors from Prison and other nameless and faceless persons then came in the middle of the night, abducted these people and then dumped them at the cells at Harare Remand Prison without treatment at all. And, when they were abducted they were actually in the process of being treated at the Avenues Clinic and some were being given sedatives, others had X rays being taken, others were being examined by doctors and so on. But all that was disregarded when they were adducted and taken to Harare Central Police Station.

Violet: How many were they?

Alec Muchadehama: Figures were, before this happened, were about nine.

Violet: So, are they still in custody?

Alec Muchadehama: Yes, they are all still in custody and all of them, when I talked to them today, they said they still needed treatment and this treatment is not being administered at Harare Remand Prison and we have not been advised of any reason why this is so.

Violet: Now, Mr Muchadehama, what about these serious allegations against these Opposition activists. Now the police accuse your clients of bombing police stations and other sites around the country. What evidence do they have linking them to these so called attacks, bomb attacks?

Alec Muchadehama: I would clients were just taken from their homes in the middle of the night at about 2.00am taken from bus stops, from shops and so on, because the police have a list of who is an MDC activist and who is not. And you can see the trend that the idea is not that they have proper suspects to arrest. All they are interested in is if you are an MDC activist in a particular area and you are a bit politically active then you must have been responsible for the bombings. So they just raid your home, make you a suspect, lay false charges, assault you, force you to confess and so on. So, itís really not a question as to - there is no coincidence here, the targets are known. You just look for an MDC activist, arrest and say Ďyou bombed the train in Marimba or you are the one who petrol bombed the Zaka police stationí. For these ones (in Harare), those that are appearing in Court today and tomorrow they are alleged to have bombed Zaka Police Station, to have been responsible for the bombings which happened in Gweru, Mutare and so on. How can that be?

Violet: You know, as a human rights lawyer in the last month alone are there any cases or is there any case that you would say left you with a lasting impression?

Alec Muchadehama: Ah, nearly all of them are quite shocking. You would imagine that the arrest of Morgan Tsvangirai in the cells, they had really not done anything, they had not done anything really, but they were just assaulted. And the burial of Gift Tandare; I had represented him before and only to hear that heíd been shot in Highfield. And we had actually talked to the witnesses who were near him when he was shot and the story when it came in the press and through the police and so on, it was so distorted and full of lies, that he really deserved better even in death.

And the abduction of his body from Doves Funeral Parlour to the rural areas there - it is really something that was unheard of. That they could actually abduct dead bodies simply to prevent some perceived political gathering at which things were going to be said which they didnít like. I think that one particularly stands as something, which I really did not expect.

Violet: You know it must really be frustrating for you running around and working in this kind of situation or this kind of environment, why do you carry on?

Alec Muchadehama: Ah I think I have stopped being frustrated and I have just said letís do it and see what happens. Who knows, perhaps someone one day might actually listen and see that really human beings ought to be treated like human beings. So we try to make the point as meaningful as we can so that the judges or whoever cares to listen will listen. In any event, we believe in what we will be doing, we think that we are doing the right thing and in an innocent and civil way and our clients have done nothing wrong; they deserve to be treated humanly.

If they are innocent they deserve to be acquitted and if they have not committed any offence they shouldnít be arrested and when they are arrested they are supposed to be treated humanely. So those are some of the points that we will be making as opposed to really having to do nothing about it, because if people do nothing about it the situation here is such that the police are really trying their best to do whatever pleases them or please their masters or whoever has sent them. So I think if people who are looking at the case objectively, whether it is members of the public or the police or anyone else I think they will be able to judge for themselves as to whether, despite the challenges that we are facing, are clients are correct or incorrect.

Violet: Do you ever worry about your personal safety?

Alec Muchadehama: Ah I donít have to worry about that. If I start worrying about that then I might as well cease being a lawyer or get employed in a bank or something because once you start worrying about those things you start getting terrified and so, and remember, this is happening to everyone, no one is safe. No one can say that because me Iím not involved in this case therefore I am a safe, it doesnít work like that. And I believe that really there is nothing special about me, if it happens it happens, just as it is happening to our clients and it can happen to anyone.

Violet: But have you or your colleagues ever been threatened?

Alex Muchadehama: Ya, many of my colleagues receive anonymous calls from people threatening to deal with them if they continue on their path. Some have been threatened with disappearance; their names are always mentioned by the police as people who work for the Opposition and who have ceased to become lawyers and turning themselves into politicians and so on. But this is just naming which is unnecessary. A lawyer is a lawyer and they can adopt various tactics of protecting their clientís interests.

Violet: And is there a very clear demarcation between those who are on the side of the Government, you know in terms of the lawyers, or those who are against? Or you just take the cases you are given, whether they are political?

Alec Muchadehama: Ah, thereís no such distinction which is there. Like any lawyer you just take the cases as they come without even looking where it has come from, who has given you instructions and so on. So you we donít look at that.

Violet: Earlier on you were talking about how victims are denied food in detention, how they are denied medical treatment, how you spent most of your time in the High Court making urgent applications to access your clients. Does this mean that the legal system is now a bit of farce now, where affidavits are just thrown out like that and where the police donít even comply with High Court Orders?

Alec Muchadehama: Yeah, that it the pity really, that even if you get these Court Orders the police totally disregard them. That the police ignore Court Orders is now legendary in Zimbabwe. One of the reasons why they do that is that they know very well that if they disobey orders nothing is likely to happen to them and therefore they can actually do it with impunity. Where they carry on like that and no one is really enforcing the contempt procedures, to say that because they are in contempt we really want to demonstrate that the Court doesnít like that. So, the Courts again have really not taken a stance against police officers who disobey Court Orders. So the police are actually now, they know that, that the Courts are not serious, they are not really worried about their orders not being obeyed. So they carry on like that and this is a trend which has developed.

Violet: So do you think Judges are under pressure?

Alec Muchadehama: Ah, I wouldnít know what they are under, but what I know is that they donít appear to be worried about their judgements being disobeyed.

Violet Gonda: So what would you say is the general state of affairs of the legal fraternity?

Alec Muchadehama: Ah, working as a lawyer these days is quite a challenge I can say. I wouldnít urge lawyers to give up or to throw their hands into the air and so on. I would even say letís continue trying and letís make those submissions in a proper way and letís try to assist our clients without fear of favour and stick to what our responsibility is and to really look at the law and to do it with a clear conscience that our allegiance is to the law and to no one else. And once we focus on that and that background, I think there would be no problem. These other problems about people disobeying Court Orders and the system operating like it is, it is a passing phase, but history will record that at least for those that tried, they tried to make a difference.

Violet Gonda: No, thank you very much Mr Muchadehama.

Alec Muchadehama: OK.

Audio interview can be heard on SW Radio Africaís Hot Seat programme. Comments and feedback can be emailed to violet@swradioafrica.com


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Elderly and Abandoned

The American Spectator

By Hal G.P. Colebatch
Published 4/4/2007 12:07:39 AM
The following letter from a British lady in Zimbabwe appeared the other week
in the London Daily Telegraph:

"Recently an official from the British Embassy in Zimbabwe visited a local
retirement home to answer questions from the elderly residents. She was
asked what plans had been made, given the current political violence and
looming threat of civil war, to evacuate the remaining 12,000 British
citizens, most of whom are elderly people.

"She said no plans had been made and that in the event of further violence
and fears for the residents' safety, 'you would have to make your own
arrangements to get out.'

"How exactly would we manage to do this? I am 71 (and still, by the way,
working owing to the country's economic disaster) and my mother is 97.

"We could not afford the airfares even if we could get seats, and those of
us who are still fortunate enough to own vehicles could not obtain the fuel
to reach the border as it is both expensive and scarce.

"My father and his three brothers died fighting for Britain in the last
world war. I wonder how they would feel about this causal attitude of the
British Government where their descendants' lives are concerned?"

NO PLANS? GIVEN THE STATE of Zimbabwe this letter should, perhaps, have
caused a degree of shock. However, it is part of a pattern that has been
becoming more obvious for several years. The British community in Zimbabwe
appears to have been treated with callous indifference by the British
government in the last few years as Mugabe has destroyed the economy,
violated civil rights wholesale and victimized whites, and as his regime has
deteriorated towards chaos and civil war.

Previously, back when Zimbabwe still had something like an economy, it was
possible for resourceful people there who could not export their assets
otherwise to buy an aircraft, fly it out, and sell it. But the Britons
trapped there today are a particularly helpless minority not only because
Mugabe's annihilation of the Zimbabwean economy has made their assets
completely worthless -- so that even the physical means of escape are denied
them (a plight they share with black Zimbabweans) -- but also because those
with the means to get out have largely gone, and those that are left are for
the most part impoverished and more-or-less helpless old people without the
support of families. The grotesque idea comes to mind of caravans of
octogenarians trying to trek across Africa looking for help and safety.

Technically, a lot of them are not, or are no longer, British. And thereby
hangs a tale: towards the end of 2001 Mugabe enforced a decree that British
passport holders in Zimbabwe had to formally renounce their British
citizenship, even if this had been simply inherited through parents, or lose
Zimbabwean citizenship and voting rights (whatever they are worth). This
gave rise to as poignant vignette: as these people lined up at the British
High Commission, many of them elderly and in tears, a British official was
reported as shouting at them: "You had six months to do this and you have
all left it to the last minute. The staff have to have a break and a cup of
tea!"

This apparent readiness by the British government to abandon its own people
to their fate is bad enough. Remember how Israel, with less than a tenth of
Britain's resources, beginning in 1977 airlifted out of danger, and gave
refuge and Israeli citizenship to, a community of about 15,000 Ethiopian
"Falashas," who it was decided were of Jewish origin? The contrast is
glaring.

BUT THERE IS WORSE. Quite shocking reports emerged of active discrimination
against Zimbabwean whites by the Blair government: people who had plainly
resigned their British citizenship under duress were not allowed to resume
it, and were made to pay 11 times the official rate for British passports.
The Foreign Office, when questioned about this, said it was trying to
"maximize income" from the Zimbabwean consulate! This was also forcing the
whites concerned to use black-market pricing, and thereby break Zimbabwean
law and give the deranged dictator a pretext to arrest them.

It seemed, as time went on, that British citizens could be persecuted,
robbed and murdered apparently with impunity by the increasingly insane
Mugabe regime, the persecution extending to the victimization of Zimbabwean
policemen who displeased the dictator by providing elderly British farmers
with extra blankets at night when they had been arrested on trumped
up-charges and held in a cold cell. The white-owned farms which were
previously the mainstay of Zimbabwe's economy have been expropriated, a
major factor in the present economic collapse and increasing starvation. Of
course, these elderly British are, in a ghastly sense, privileged and
fortunate in modern Zimbabwe in having lived so long. Under Mugabe black
life-expectancy has gone from 60 to 38 years.

Journalist David Blair pointed out some years ago that the age of the
remaining white victims gave this persecution a particularly horrible
aspect: "Their average age cannot be under 65. The young have gone, the
grandparents remain."

OF THE 12,000 BRITISH PEOPLE remaining in Zimbabwe, it is estimated that
about half are aged pensioners (except that Zimbabwean inflation and
economic collapse has made their "pensions" worthless). Many are World War
II veterans or the widows of veterans. Private charities, such as "Zimbabwe,
A National Emergency" are trying to help them, but it appears the British
government is doing nothing and has no interest in doing anything. (It is
spending about $20 billion, so far, on the London Olympic Games, however.)

The first big wave of white persecutions by the Mugabe regime, beginning in
2001, was the first major foreign-policy crisis, with large numbers of
British lives at stake, for the Blair Government. Mugabe had shown his
colors (which he had never bothered to hide much anyway) as a terroristic
tyrant by the genocidal massacres of many thousands of Ndabele people
previously. Prime Minister Blair and the Foreign Secretary, both then on
holiday, left the matter to a junior Foreign Office Minister, Baroness Amos,
who said and, as far as one could tell, did nothing whatsoever. In January
2002, she told the Today program that "in different parts of the world we
see different countries turn to bad leadership and bad politics, and we've
seen that coming in Zimbabwe for some years and it's a tragedy." That was
it.

A plea by Prince Charles, who reportedly wrote privately to the Prime
Minister's office asking that the British people trapped in Zimbabwe be
helped, was apparently ignored. With the situation now desperate and
complete chaos and civil war in Zimbabwe looking nearer every day, the stage
is being set for a particularly cruel and unnecessary criminal tragedy.

Hal G. P. Colebatch, a lawyer and author, has lectured in International Law
and International Relations at Notre Dame University and Edith Cowan
University in Western Australia and worked on the staff of two Australian
Federal Ministers.


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When thieves fall out

Pittsburgh Post Gazette

Robert Mugabe plays out his last act as dictator and destroyer of Zimbabwe
Wednesday, April 04, 2007

By Gwynne Dyer

It will take a while yet, but the long and brutal reign of Robert Mugabe in
Zimbabwe is probably nearing its end. Not because of the democratic
opposition at home, whose members are regularly beaten up and sometimes
killed by the regime's police. Not even because neighboring countries in
southern Africa are at last putting pressure on Mr. Mugabe to go. But just
because his own partners-in-crime have decided that it's him or them.

The key moment arrived last December, when for the first time the senior
ranks of the ruling Zanu-PF Party stood up to Mr. Mugabe and refused to
accept his proposal to postpone the next presidential election from 2008 to
2010. It was typical Mugabe salami tactics -- give me two more years, and
maybe I'll decide to resign in 2010 -- but this time it didn't work.

In that case, said Mr. Mugabe, I'll run for president again in 2008 (which
would keep him in the presidency for his 90th birthday in 2014).

Given the speed with which Zimbabwe's economy is collapsing and its
population fleeing abroad, seven more years of Mr. Mugabe and it would not
be worth inheriting power there -- so Mr. Mugabe's potential heirs within
his won party have begun to rebel.

All that has followed -- the vicious assaults of opposition leaders by Mr.
Mugabe's police in mid-February, the South African government's decision a
week ago to start talking to Mr. Mugabe's Zanu-PF rivals and Zimbabwean
opposition leaders, and the emergency meeting of the leaders of the
14-nation Southern African Development Community in Tanzania on March 28 --†
is a response to this new perception that Mr. Mugabe doesn't have long to
run.

"I have been to these [southern African] summits and I know that behind
closed doors they are brutally frank," Mr. Mugabe's former information
minister, Jonathan Moyo, told The Guardian last week. "They will remind
Mugabe that he told them he would retire at the end of his term in 2008 ...
They will tell Mugabe that his rule in Zimbabwe is dragging down the whole
southern African region." None of that got into the meeting's closing
communique, which ritually expressed solidarity with Mr. Mugabe, but Mr.
Moyo is probably right, because Zimbabwe is becoming a blight on the region.

Inflation in Zimbabwe, at 1,700 percent, is the highest in the world (the
next highest, Burma, is only 60 percent), and average income is less than a
10th of South Africa's. Ten years ago Zimbabwe was seen as the bread basket
of Africa, and it earned ample foreign exchange from exports of tobacco and
other cash crops; now it cannot feed half its people, and the tobacco crop
is down by four-fifths.

There are an estimated three million Zimbabwean economic refugees in South
Africa (two-thirds of the country's working-age population), and they are
the main support of those left at home, because unemployment in Zimbabwe is
80 percent or more. Zimbabwean life expectancy is now the lowest in the
world: 37 for men, 34 for women.

Then there is the unbridled brutality of the police force, the official
contempt for the law, the propaganda that blames all the failings of the
regime on foreign imperialists plotting against it -- it's not exactly the
image that southern Africans want for their region.

On the whole, southern Africa does not fit that image. From South Africa to
Tanzania, most of the governments in the Southern African Development
Community are democratically elected and law-abiding. Most economies are
showing good growth, and nobody is starving. But it is a well-known fact
that people in other continents have difficulty in telling one African
country from another and that investors are the most ignorant of all.
Zimbabwe's multiple failures take up more space in the international media
than news about all 13 other members of the development community combined,
and so the neighbors' patience has run out.

In fact, it ran out some time ago, but being realists about the nature of
politics in Mr. Mugabe's Zimbabwe, the other southern African leaders saw no
point in publicly demanding change. Now, however, there is blood in the
water. Mr. Mugabe managed to bully Zanu-PF's central committee into
nominating him for the presidency again last week, but everybody knows that
two major factions in the party want him to quit. That has opened the door
for others to demand change as well.

The main contenders for the succession are not without sin.

Emmerson Mnangagwa was state security minister when 25,000 members of the
minority Ndebele tribe were murdered by the regime in the 1980s for
supporting the wrong political party. Vice-President Joice Mujuru is the
wife of Solomon Mujuru, a former army chief who became very rich thanks to
his involvement in illegal land-grabs during the seizure of all the farms
owned by white Zimbabweans.

The ideal outcome would be an alliance between Zanu-PF dissidents and
Zimbabwe's democratic opposition in a transitional government leading to
free, internationally supervised elections. The reality may be a good deal
messier, because the Old Man doesn't know how to let go. He has just
imported 3,000 "security personnel" from Angola to stiffen his own police,
who are deserting in droves and going to work in South Africa as security
guards because inflation has made their wages in Zimbabwe almost worthless.

But one way or another, Robert Mugabe's long misrule has reached the
beginning of the end.

††††† Gwynne Dyer is a London-based journalist and military historian
(www.gwynnedyer.net).


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Defiant Mugabe hops to Far East

Zim Online

Wednesday 04 April 2007

By Farisai Gonye

HARARE - A defiant President Robert Mugabe left Harare on Tuesday for the
Far East, ignoring a national job stayaway called by trade unions to protest
economic hardships they blame on his government.

Mugabe also skipped a crucial meeting of his ruling ZANU PF party's inner
politburo cabinet and that was supposed to fine-tune plans for next year's
presidential election in which he will stand after successfully suppressing
discontent from party rivals who wanted him to retire at the end of his term
next year.

Party insiders, who spoke to ZimOnline on condition they were not named,
said they too were unaware of details of Mugabe's trip or even which country
exactly he was visiting, with some speculating the 83 year-old leader might
have gone to seek urgent medical attention.

ZANU PF spokesman Nathan Shamuyarira said Mugabe would return at the weekend
but refused to disclose further details on his trip which he said was
private.

"The visit is private, so the details are equally private. He will be here,
Sunday latest," said Shamuyarira.

The ZANU PF spokesman said the politburo would still go ahead and make
recommendations on how next year's presidential and parliamentary elections
should proceed. The recommendations shall be forwarded to the government for
implementation.

Mugabe, Africa's oldest ruler, outfoxed his opponents, managing to secure
ZANU PF's endorsement for another run for the presidency at a key central
committee meeting in Harare last Friday.

Many had anticipated that the central committee would not endorse Mugabe's
candidature and force him to retire.

Critics and some party colleagues blame Mugabe for being the biggest
stumbling block to Zimbabwe's economic revival, a charge he denies. -
ZimOnline


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Zim police, soldiers will be held to account: UN

Zim Online

Wednesday 04 April 2007

††††† Own Correspondent

††††† JOHANNESBURG - A top United Nations human rights official on Monday
called on Zimbabwe security forces not to shoot anti-government protestors,
warning them that those who used lethal force against civilians would be
eventually held to account.

††††† In a statement released to the media, Philip Alston, the UN Special
Rapporteur on extrajudicial executions said soldiers and police officers who
complied with orders to shoot protesters will be held to account.

††††† "Under international law, widespread or systematic attacks against the
civilian population are crimes against humanity.

††††† "Members of the police and military who comply with orders to gun down
demonstrators will eventually be held to account," said Alston.

††††† An opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) supporter, Gift
Tandare, was shot and killed by the police last month during anti-government
protests in Harare's Highfield working class suburb.

††††† Two other opposition supporters, Nickson Magondo and Naison
Mashambanhaka, were also shot and seriously injured by the police during
Tandare's funeral wake in Glen View working class suburb.

††††† Major Western governments and some African countries condemned the use
of deadly force by Mugabe's state agents. But Mugabe has publicly defended
the police, accusing the opposition of seeking to violently oust him from
power.

††††† Alston said the Harare authorities had shown a total disregard for the
need to balance "the rights to political participation" and the need by the
government to maintain public order.

††††† "Full, independent investigations must be undertaken as soon as
possible," said Alston. - ZimOnline


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U.S. urges Americans in Zimbabwe to take precautions

International Herald Tribune

The Associated PressPublished: April 3, 2007

††† Text Size

WASHINGTON: The U.S. Embassy is urging American citizens in Zimbabwe to
avoid any large gatherings, including political rallies, and to choose with
care the bars and nightclubs they visit, particularly in the high-density
suburbs.

A message sent to the American community in Zimbabwe on Wednesday said
Zimbabwean Republic Police (ZRP) raided an upscale nightclub in Borrowdale,
detaining more than 80 people and beating several.

"The ZRP is increasingly using excessive force including in enforcing a
widespread closure of bars and beer halls in the southern high-density
suburbs," it said.

Tensions in Zimbabwe have been high since police violently broke up a prayer
meeting last month, detaining and severely beating government opponents.


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Zimbabwe Mediator Mbeki: No Regime Change, But Transition Ahead

VOA

††††† By Blessing Zulu
††††† Washington
††††† 03 April 2007

South African President Thabo Mbeki, appointed mediator in the Zimbabwe
crisis last week by Southern African Development Community leaders, said his
first concern is to ensure that the next elections that are held in Zimbabwe
be free and fair.

In an an interview published in the Financial Times of London on Tuesday,
Mbeki said that although "regime change" does not figure on his agenda, he
does expect that President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe will eventually stand
down.

"We don't have a big stick," Mbeki told Financial Times reporters, meaning
that he did not intend to force a change in Harare through intervention,
military or otherwise.

He told the newspaper that he would try to restart informal discussions
between Mr. Mugabe's ruling party and the opposition, hoping to pave the way
for presidential and parliamentary elections less than a year from now in
March 2008.

Mbeki's comments on Zimbabwe elections tacitly contradicted the communiquť
issued at the SADC summit, which asserted that elections in Zimbabwe since
2002 have been free and fair. The elections drew wide criticism for alleged
voter intimidation and ballot fraud by Mr. Mugabe's ZANU-PF party,
particularly in isolated rural communities.

He acknowledged that Zimbabwe's electoral process was flawed, "but we do
have to get Zimbabweans talking so we do have elections that are free and
fair."

International Relations Secretary Eliphas Mukonoweshuro of the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change faction of Morgan Tsvangirai told VOA that he
would welcome a negotiated settlement and would concede defeat if elections
are free and fair.

Mbeki spokesman Mukoni Ratshitanga told VOA that the negotiation process was
well under way, noting that the secretaries general of the two MDC factions
had met with officials from Mr. Mbeki's office two weeks ago.

Johannesburg-based independent analyst Obri Matshiqi told reporter Blessing
Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that Mr. Mbeki's latest comments
indicate that despite its seeming support of Mr. Mugabe, SADC has hardened
its stance on the crisis.


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Missing will

USA today
Posted at 12:20 AM/ET, April 04, 2007

Worlds away in Africa, another dictator is getting away with murder and
more. Zimbabwe's leader, Robert Mugabe, 83, has no central role in U.S.
security. But the abuses he is perpetrating on his people have reached a
level of inhumanity that cries out for condemnation and for his removal.
Mugabe has become an extreme caricature of a despotic African dictator.
Zimbabwe has 80% unemployment and 1,700% inflation. Opposition leaders are
beaten and murdered, and starvation is on the rise. Among his abuses: razing
shantytowns, leaving people without homes. Despite some sanctions, he has
taken to taunting the West. "Nothing frightens me, not even little fellows
like Bush and Blair," he said recently.

True enough, Bush, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and other major Western
leaders are preoccupied with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Zimbabwe has
little strategic or economic significance. Their military intervention is
unlikely, and there are few more sanctions they can impose. But they can
prod other African countries to step into the breach.

To date, the efforts of African leaders have been disappointing. But there
are some signs of hope.

Protests in Zimbabwe have been gathering momentum. One of Zimbabwe's top
Roman Catholic clerics, Archbishop Pius Ncube of Bulowayo, is calling for
mass peaceful demonstrations, even if it means standing "in front of blazing
guns." Last month, opposition leaders led demonstrations. Several were
beaten by police and one died, stirring outrage at home and around the
world.

Until now, Mugabe has been able to count on his ZANU-PF party because its
members get the best jobs and perks. But with the economy collapsing, even
ministers can't find school fees for their children. Dire economic problems
caused by Mugabe are deepening, and fast.

But since 2000, Mugabe has seized, and handed to supporters, most of the
white-owned farms that were the backbone of a once-prosperous economy. Their
subsequent collapse has helped push Zimbabwe into its downward spiral.

The hope is that Zimbabweans will overthrow Mugabe - and that when they do,
the outside world, particularly South Africa and other African countries,
will rush in to help.

Trusting dictators is sometimes needed in the short term. As both Musharraf
and Mugabe show, it's a dangerous long-term plan.


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Lawyer seeks journalist's release

New Zimbabwe

By Torby Chimhashu
Last updated: 04/04/2007 10:19:02
LAWYERS representing Gift Phiri -- a reporter for the Zimbabwean newspaper
published from London and distributed in Zimbabwe -- say they been barred
from seeing their client who is still detained by police despite an expiry
of the legal detention period.

Phiri, who was heavily assaulted in police custody on Monday following his
arrest on Fools Day is still in custody and police have indicated they want
to apply for an extension to his detention.

Rangu Nyamurundira, Phiri's lawyer, said he has been barred from seeing the
newsman.

"I have been denied access to Gift. I don't know of his condition. Those who
brought him food said he looked stressed. Police have indicated to me that
they
will apply for extension of his detention," Nyamundira said.

Phiri is being charged for practising without a licence and writing
falsehoods under the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act. He
could be jailed for up to two years or fined if found guilty.

Under Zimbabwean law, police are bound to send an accused person to court at
the expiry of 48 hours. A warrant for further detention which is for up to
96 hours can only be granted if police need more time to continue
investigations.

Police can only hold suspects for a period up to 21 days if they have
committed an economic offence as prescribed under the Evidence and Criminal
Procedure Act (under Presidential Powers).

Nyamundira said he was preparing an urgent High Court application to force
the
p olice to release Phiri or send him to court.

The Zimbabwean reporter was unable to sit, walk or support himself after the
assaults by detectives from the Law and Order Section on Monday evening, his
lawyer earlier said.

"He was beaten on the buttocks, back and on the soles of his feet by police
using baton sticks. He told me he was forced to sign a warned and cautioned
statement in which the state is alleging he is practising journalism without
accreditation and writing falsehoods," lawyer Nyamundira said.

Phiri was arrested on Sunday afternoon while drinking with friends from the
same neighbourhood at Sunningdale shopping center.

In February 2006, Phiri was waylaid on his way home and heavily assaulted by
suspected state security agents using knuckle-dusters.

Phiri becomes the fourth journalist to be assaulted by police in as many
weeks
following savage attacks on Luke Tamborinyoka, Tsvangirai Mukwazhi and
Tendai Musiyazviriyo.

The trio was brutally beaten by police while covering a prayer meeting by
civic groups and members of the fractious opposition MDC in the poor
township of Highfield on March 11.

Tamborinyoka was recently beaten and tortured, again in police custody.


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Zimbabwe feared to slide further in abyss

Kuwait Times

Published Date: April 04, 2007
By Susan Njanji

Zimbabwe's political and economic crises are set to deepen further following
a decision to have octogenarian leader Robert Mugabe, already in power for
27 years, seek a new term in elections next year, analysts said Saturday.
The ruling Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic-Front (ZANU-PF)'s top
decision makers decided in Harare on Friday that despite growing domestic
opposition to

Africa's oldest leader, he would stand again for elections next year.
Commentators say the decision spells disaster for the southern country whose
economy is already on its knees and could see a rise in political unrest.
"It's a very serious decision which signals a sure direction towards the
continuation of economic collapse and will deepen the political crisis,"
said constitutional reform activist Lovemore Madhuku. Eldred Masunungure, a
university of Zimbabwe political scientist, said everything depended on the
policy decision the leadership adopts, "but if it is business as usual,
clearly it will be disastrous... it means the country will slide irrevocably
down the drain." There will be "a total collapse which will see popular
unrest in the country", said Madhuku. "The fear is that there will be so
much unrest that the country will break down ... to the levels we have seen
in some west African countries where they have had civil wars," he added.

"Disaster is in the making. It will accelerate the economic meltdown," said
the secretary general of the Zimbawe Congres of Trade Unions (CTU),
Wellington Chibebe. Opposition within Zimbabwe has soared in recent months
with inflation now the highest in the world at 1,730 percent and forecast by
the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to climb up to 4,000 per cent by year
end. Four out of five people are out of work and live in abject poverty. The
economic woes have driven millions out of the country with the CTU
estimating that half of the the country's 13 million people are in the
diaspora, with at least three million in nearby South Africa.

Commentators fear political unrest will worsen, although there are
indications that even if re-elected, the 83-year old might not complete his
term. According to the state-run Herald, ZANU-PF is also proposing
contitutional reforms that would enable parliament to elect a successor if
an incumbent president fails to complete his term due to death, or steps
down. If he wins a new term next year, Mugabe, who has ruled the former
British colony since independence in 1980, would remain head of state until
the age of 89. "The political landscape will be very nasty in terms of
violence and elimination," said Chibebe.

"At the moment they are beating up people, but their extent of desperation
will soon see them start shooting people," said Madhuku, who earlier this
month was badly assaulted by police, along with the opposition MDC leader
and dozens of others. Mugabe, who has been widely blamed by the West for the
arrests and assaults of his opponents and critics, said the group asked for
the beating because they provoked the police. While there have been
rumblings of discontent within ZANU-PF towards Mugabe, no-one put their head
above the parapet to challenge his nomination during the lengthy debates at
the party's headquarters in the capital. The cash-strapped government is
also expected to take care of an expanded house of assembly after next
year's elections, following ZANU-PF's central committee approval of plans to
increase the number of lawmakers from 150 to 210. - AFP


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Mugabe's ghost haunts SA's 2010 World Cup project

Zim Online

Wednesday 04 April 2007

By Nigel Hangarume

HARARE - A senior South African football official has expressed concern over
the political tension in Zimbabwe saying the crisis could become the next
question on South Africa's suitability to host the 2010 World Cup.

The official, a member of South Africa's World Cup Local Organising
Committee who did not want to be named, spoke as the international community
rounded on President Robert Mugabe for his violent repression against the
opposition.

"A lot of questions have been raised about our preparedness to successfully
host the World Cup, but we had not expected Zimbabwe to worry us," the South
African official told ZimOnline.

"But we are worried and we hope the political situation will calm down
because the World Cup is not for South Africa alone but our neighbours and
the whole of Africa as well."

He said only 2010 Local Organising Committee spokesman Tim Modise could give
an official comment, the reason he didn't want to be named.

Modise was yesterday unavailable for comment as he was said to be in a board
meeting in Johannesburg.

Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai at the weekend
warned South Africa President Thabo Mbeki that failure to quickly resolve
the Zimbabwe crisis would cast a shadow over the 2010 World Cup.

Mbeki was appointed mediator in the Zimbabwe crisis after a Southern African
Development Community extraordinary summit in Tanzania last week.

"That pride (for Africa to host the 2010 tournament) will turn to shame if
the World Cup is blighted by the inability of Africans to solve the Zimbabwe
crisis," said Tsvangirai, whose brutalisation and that of other members of
his party at the hands of state security agents has drawn widespread
criticism against Mugabe.

In February, South Africa had expressed pleasure with Zimbabwe's progress in
preparing for the 2010 tournament.

Zimbabwe, expecting economic benefits from the World Cup, has set up a
sport, tourism, image and communication taskforce that it also hopes will
help reverse the country's pariah status.

South Africa has indicated it will not be able to accommodate the 300 000
visitors expected for the World Cup, leaving its neighbours to capitalise
for their own economic benefits.

However, the political tension in Zimbabwe could keep potential football
tourists away.

Besides crumbling infrastructure and services, the country is also
struggling to fund fuel, power, drug and food imports due to a serious
foreign exchange crisis, while the provision of clean water has also been a
major challenge. - ZimOnline

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