April 5, 2008
Jan Raath in Harare
In Mbare township, almost exactly 28 years ago, I stood and trembled as an
exultant, raucous mob surged down the road towards me. Minutes before,
Robert Mugabe and his Zanu (PF) had been announced the victors of 1980’s
This week, as final results from parliamentary elections revealed defeat for
Mr Mugabe and his party, I was in the same spot. This time there was no
revelry. Women hurried past with buckets of water on their heads. A lunatic
was declaiming passionately from a rubbish heap on the pavement. I wandered
over to a banana-seller. “Are you happy now?” I asked. “Of course,” he
replied softly. “Tiripanyanga” — Shona for “We are in control”. A car swept
past, its hooter blaring in lone celebration.
In the queue at the bakery, a man said: “Change was inevitable.” About six
of us, complete strangers, shook hands warmly, but that was all.
The night before, some friends had been drinking in the townships. There was
a police roadblock outside the hotel in Highfield. They took no notice of
us, a group of whites. The bar was deserted except for two men playing pool
and one drunk. “This is a Zanu (PF) bar,” said the drunk. Then he whispered:
“But change is coming. Don’t say it loud.”
Another dive in Warren Park was half full with people watching Liverpool
play Arsenal on a TV screen so green that it was almost impossible to see
anything. As I asked why no one was celebrating, a convoy of vehicles
carrying riot police passed at the bottom of the street. “Because of them,”
came the reply.
“Also, we are waiting for the big one. Then we party big time.”
People are still buttoned up. The parliamentary victory is satisfying, but
“he” is still there, radiating menace. Only when it has been announced that
he has lost the presidential vote will the mask slip, so deep is the
mistrust and fear that he will suddenly declare himself the winner and wreak
But the fear was evaporating. Every day that passed made the situation
harder to reverse. Outside Harvest House, the MDC’s headquarters in the city
centre, a crowd of 100 swaggering young men was lounging among cars parked
three deep across the road — they have become a permanent feature of Nelson
Mandela Avenue over the past three days. A week ago they would have been
bludgeoned and scattered by a riot squad.
On Wednesday night six uniformed policemen, a couple of them armed, came
into the City Bowling Club, a scruffy bar frequented by white, mostly older,
boozers. They sat down at the counter, bought beers and, as they warmed to
the clientele, were bought more. “They don’t have the stomach to go into the
streets and shoot people,” one drinker said. “Rather drink with the people
than shoot them.”
Mr Mugabe’s ban on international media is failing: the BBC, supposedly out
for the past six years, and Sky are here, and CNN and NBC are following.
Bright Matonga, the blustery Deputy Information Minister, is turning into
Zimbabwe’s Comical Ali.
But by the end of a momentous week, the farce was turning into tragedy. On
Thursday night armed riot police barged into a suburban tourist lodge,
looking for “illegal journalists”. Two of them are still in custody.
Yesterday morning several hundred men, aged between 20 and 40, marched
through the centre of town, not demonstrators but men being mobilised.
Desperate rural young men like this, you give a couple of million Zimbabwe
dollars, a meal, some beer and they will become a pack of murderous dogs for
Everything was back to where it was. The dread, the not knowing, the
helplessness, the imminence of an unpredictable, violently deranged power.
The people knew this could happen and they have kept their joy for another
Updated:21:43, Friday April 04, 2008
Writing from the northern suburbs of the Zimbabwean capital Harare, one Sky
News viewer, name withheld, tells of everyday hardship as the country waits
anxiously for election results.
"Depressing, depressing, depressing.
Everyone here feels Mugabe is going to succeed in retaining power.
His cavalcade of motorbikes, cars, troop carriers and an ambulance passed
through this area at 10am and returned at 5.45pm.
Why we should think he would concede power I can't imagine.
Most of us remember a referendum on the constitution in 2000 which he lost.
When he appeared on television he sounded so statesmanlike saying that he
would accept the will of the people, and then the farm invasions started.
We have had no electricity all day and no water.
The electricity has now come on but the water will be off for several days.
Where I work this is the fifth week with no water. We have a well at the
bottom of our garden and water has to be hauled up by hand.
There is no bread in the shops, nor flour to make it.
The only way I can get sugar is to buy it at black market prices on the
Mealie meal is very short, expensive and unobtainable in the shops.
And this is a man and his so called government that thinks it can run a
We feel battered and can't believe that things can improve.
In fact they can only get worse now."
Fri 4 Apr 2008, 19:56 GMT
HARARE, April 4 (Reuters) - A Zimbabwean court will on Saturday hear an
application by the country's main opposition party to force election
officials to release results from the March 29 presidential election, a
party official said on Friday.
"It will be heard at 10 tomorrow morning (0800 GMT Saturday)," said Nelson
Chamisa, spokesman for the Morgan Tsvangirai-led faction of the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC).
"We want an urgent release of the results, within 4 hours of the court
order," Chamisa said.
Zimbabwe elections officials have released results from the parliamentary
election but failed to say anything about the presidential poll. (Harare
The other rumor, though unsubstantiated, is that "Bob" is busy filling bags of currency as he raids the treasury. The suggestion is that he will leave the country. This would be great for Zimbabweans in many ways. Yet if he does this, there are major concerns that he will not leave a single Zimbabwe dollar for the country's recovery. This is when the global community, that includes The International Red Cross and the United Nations, must develop a plan to help this country become stabilized.
None of this will happen without some global pressure to get Mugabe out of office. This is the time when other African leaders must take a stand to support the will of the people and not stand mute in support of their comrade. Enough. How do we teach these countries to step up to assist the people of Zimbabwe?
There is widespread fear that the election will be rigged in a run off. I don't think it is going to happen. Too many people voted the man out of office. Too many people know and talk that they must have change in this county if the people of Zimbabwe are going to survive. When I talk about survival, its not "survival" you think of here in the United States; instead, Zimabwean's survival entails avoiding starvation and/or death. How will they stop the hemorrhaging of people over the borders?
Yesterday I was told that Mugabe only truly got 46 parliament seats instead of the 97 that are listed. As we all struggle for information and if this vote will again be rigged on the 19th, I know for sure one thing: There will be violence. The people of Zimbabwe have such pent up rage on how Mugabe has treated them that many want to force him to stay in the country, to make sure that he pays for his atrocities.
If Morgan Tsengarai becomes the new President of Zimbabwe, it is his plan to keep Mugabe in the country as well. His agenda will include having Mugabe pay for his atrocities, not only for the ruthless beating of himself but also for his close allies that were tortured and killed.
We are getting a lot of messages about Simba Makoni joining forces with Morgan...and this is truly good news. With Simba Makoni getting at least 8 percent of the vote (approximately) there are people who love him and trust him. We cannot forget how his candidacy split some of the key allies in the current administration and helped create the unstoppable rift. The idea of Morgan Tsengarai and Simba Makoni joining forces as a team brings excitement. Those two men can create a new beginning for this tyrant ravaged country.
Most importantly, some of those in exile are already talking about going "home". They are excited about the inevitable change in their country and the National Unity they feel is happening. They are excited about the loss of seats to ministers that harassed NGO's and women's group. The Minister of Women's affairs, Gender and Community Development, Oppah Muchinguri, was apparently trounced in the vote. This is good news to organizations who have sought assistance from the government on human rights abuses.
We are all watching the situation in Zimbabwe closely. If the dictator is truly going to fall, there needs to be quick and prolonged action. Now the international community must come together to help eradicate the AIDS epidemic, to provide food and medicine...and get the country planting crops. Things could change again, in the time it takes me to post this blog, but I still can't help but think there will be more than seeds being planted in this country soon.
April 5, 2008
The former Foreign Secretary remembers how Mugabe became president of
If you want to understand this week's events in Zimbabwe, a little history
might be helpful. For it demonstrates how the responsibility for what has
happened in that country over the past two decades lies firmly with Robert
Mugabe and the decisions he has made.
The past terrible few years raise questions about how President Mugabe came
to power. Was the Lancaster House agreement - which brought an end to the
civil war in Zimbabwe and allowed for the victory of Mugabe - a mistake? I
am convinced that it was not.
When I became Margaret Thatcher's Foreign Secretary in 1979 the
Rhodesia/Zimbabwe problem was near the top of my in-tray. It had bedevilled
successive governments ever since Ian Smith unilaterally declared
independence in 1965 and set up a white-minority government. It had soured
Commonwealth relations and damaged our relationship with some of our closest
allies. The election of 1979, under a constitution that gave
disproportionate power to the whites, which brought Bishop Abel Muzorewa to
power was not recognised as legitimate by any other country, except South
Africa, because Joshua Nkomo and Mugabe, the main rebel opposition leaders,
were not allowed to take part.
Towards the end of 1979, however, the situation had changed. Nkomo felt that
time was not on his side. He wanted a settlement as soon as possible. The
Muzorewa Government and the whites in Rhodesia were fighting a war against
the rebels that was draining the economy and which could not be sustained
for much longer. The South Africans, who were supporting the Muzorewa
Government, were finding the burden too great. The frontline states
surrounding Zimbabwe all had reasons for wanting a solution; Zambia was the
host to Nkomo's army, an imposition which they wished to end.
However, there was one person who did not feel it necessary to press for a
settlement - Robert Mugabe. He felt that his Zanu guerrilla group was
winning the war and that he would become Zimbabwe's leader.
Despite this, it seemed that it was worthwhile to have at least one more try
to settle the problems at a conference to be held in London. I did not think
it likely at the time that the Lancaster House conference would succeed.
There were a number of difficulties to be solved. There was the
constitution, the elections and perhaps the most difficult of all, the land
question. There was no way in which the whites in Zimbabwe would be prepared
to accept the compulsory purchase of their farms. What was agreed to in the
end by all parties was that willing sellers should be paid a fair price for
their land and that the British and Americans would be prepared to finance
As the conference was reaching its end, it became clear that, albeit
reluctantly, Nkomo and the Muzorewa/Smith Government would be prepared to
accept the agreement on the table. Zanu, the Mugabe party, was not prepared
to do so. He thought that, since they were bound to win power, election or
no, success would be theirs without an agreement.
Presidents Nyerere of Tanzania and Machel of Mozambique pressurised Mugabe
to accept. Privately, President Nyerere made it plain to me that he would
not accept the result of any post-settlement election unless Mugabe won it.
In the event, as was wholly predictable, Mugabe won the 1980 election
easily. The prospect of a Mugabe Government was worrying, since he was known
to be a Marxist and had made incendiary remarks about what would happen if
he gained power. The quietly spoken Mugabe worried me: he was secretive,
seemed not to need friends, mistrusted everyone. Devious and clever, he was
an archetypal cold fish.
Christopher Soames, a man of great good sense and the Governor of Southern
Rhodesia, developed a close working relationship with Mugabe. A big and
friendly man, Soames was able to persuade Mugabe that an orderly transfer of
power and a tolerant attitude towards those who had been his enemies would
be the right way forward. Mugabe's Government started tolerably well. Having
seen food shortages while in exile in Tanzania and Mozambique, he knew it
would be counterproductive to seize the well-managed farms of the whites.
Nonetheless, we were never certain which way Mugabe would jump; I just had a
dreadful feeling that he would leap in the wrong direction. In the end,
Mugabe has proven to be a textbook example of Acton's dictum about how power
If there had been no agreement in 1979 the war would have continued, many
more people would have been killed, and Mugabe would, in the end, have won
both the war and the presidency. Economic devastation would have come much
earlier. There can be no doubt that the election of Mugabe in 1980 reflected
the majority opinion in Zimbabwe. For all that has followed we did the right
thing, the only thing that could be done back then.
So much for history. Now the future beckons. It will take a long time to
restore the prosperity which that beautiful country once enjoyed. Yet the
people of Zimbabwe are resilient. It says a great deal for them that,
despite threats and intimidation, the recent election seems to have
overthrown the Zanu-PF majority in Parliament.
Strictly speaking, this is now no longer our business, but a great many of
us will feel that we still owe the people of Zimbabwe, who have been through
such desperate times, all the help we can give them. Although Mugabe tries
to paint Britain as a colonial foe, we should feel no embarrassment for our
role in Zimbabwe's recent past nor about doing all we can to assist its
people today. And those of us who remember the country as it once was can
only condemn the selfishness and folly of the man who has brought this
Lord Carrington was Foreign Secretary, 1979-82, and chaired the Lancaster
By Daniel Howden in Harare
Saturday, 5 April 2008
Robert Mugabe began his last-ditch fight to stay in power in Zimbabwe,
sending his self-styled "war veterans" to march ominously through the
capital, Harare, yesterday, silently taunting the country with the threat of
a return to the violence and intimidation that has characterised previous
After a marathon meeting of Mr Mugabe's inner circle to discuss the biggest
crisis of his 28-year rule, the ruling party endorsed him as their candidate
for what is set to be an explosive run-off vote for the presidency. And in a
sign of just how far "Comrade Bob" was digging in his heels, his Zanu-PF
party vowed to contest the results of 16 parliamentary seats – enough to win
back the majority that it had lost for the first time in Zimbabwe's history,
according to official tallies from the electoral commission.
A five-hour session of party bigwigs concluded yesterday with the
84-year-old Mr Mugabe being put forward to take on his rival Morgan
Tsvangirai. "We are down but not out," the party secretary, Didymus Mutasa,
said afterwards. "Absolutely the candidate will be Robert Gabriel Mugabe –
who else would it be other than our dear old man?"
The run-off would be held at a date to be determined by the electoral
commission, Mr Mutasa said. This appeared to suggest that the second round
would not be held on 19 April – the requisite three weeks after the first
round of elections – heightening fears that the ruling party would use the
extra time to rig the ballot.
"It's like hunting a buffalo," said one opposition official. "Even if you
kill him with the first shot he keeps running at you. And if you just
fatally wound him, then he will hide in the bush and wait to ambush you
before he dies."
Last Saturday's vote for change was still officially being counted while the
regime was vowing to fight the next round with 100 per cent of its forces.
Although the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) had been hoping that the
school teacher-turned-guerrilla fighter would opt for the "graceful exit"
being offered him in secret talks brokered by regional diplomats, opposition
leaders remained confident they could defeat Mr Mugabe.
Almost one week on from its most important elections since independence in
1980, the Mugabe regime was attempting to extract one final ounce of
political capital from the liberation struggle that gave him his legitimacy.
The sight of the "liberation war veterans" on the streets of Harare was like
scenes from a recurring nightmare for many in this bankrupt country. These
were the feared men from the bush war who helped end white minority rule,
but have been reincarnated as a paid militia, deployed to terrorise
political opponents or carry out land invasions. In a sign of the changing
times, the 400-strong veterans' parade had its own police guard – an
acknowledgement from authorities that they have lost control of the cities
that voted overwhelmingly for the MDC.
Whipping up the anti-colonial rhetoric that has become Mr Mugabe's trademark
and setting the tone for what is expected to be a bitter contest, The Herald
newspaper, the mouthpiece of the regime, accused the MDC of being a front
for white farmers keen to take their land back from poor black Zimbabweans.
And the war veterans were quick to jump on this bandwagon. "It now looks
like these elections were a way to open for the re-invasion of this country
[by the British]," Jabulani Sibanda, the veterans' leader, told a press
conference. "These are all provocations against us freedom fighters."
Mr Mugabe's decision to tear up gradual land reform eight years ago and
force commercial farmers off their land is widely credited with destroying
the agricultural sector on which the economy relied. Much of the prime
farmland has been handed out through a vast system of patronage. The
beneficiaries of this colossal corruption include the upper echelons of
Zanu-PF and the chiefs of the army, air force and police who have been the
most hawkish in refusing to accept an MDC victory. Yesterday, this inner
circle lined up behind him at the Politburo to endorse him yet again.
Six days after Zimbabweans voted for their president, official results have
yet to be released, and the opposition last might filed a lawsuit, asking
the courts to force the release of the tallies. According to independent
projections and leaks from the ruling party, Mr Tsvangirai has secured a
significant first-round lead over Mr Mugabe but has fallen narrowly short of
the 51 per cent needed to avoid a second contest. Sources close to the
electoral commission told The Independent that all parties had agreed to a
recount of the presidential poll, which would take place in a locked room in
the presence of a single official from each of the candidates' parties.
Ominous signs of what the regime might be planning were revealed this week
in overnight raids by the security forces on opposition offices and the
arrest of two foreign nationals, who police said were working as journalists
Zimbabwe's 'Comical Ali'
* Zimbabwe may have discovered its own Comical Ali. Saddam Hussein's chief
propagandist would, even as the US-led forces were approaching Baghdad,
emerge to spin the good news about the triumphs of Saddam's forces. Even
after Zimbabwe's ruling party lost the parliamentary election this week,
Bright Matonga, above, Zimbabwe's former deputy information minister, has
continued to insist Zanu-PF is fully in charge, and "is the future". Before
being appointed minister in 2005, Mr Matonga ran a state-owned bus company
called Zupco but it folded. He was charged with corruption shortly after
being appointed deputy minister for allegedly soliciting kickbacks in a
tender to purchase a fleet of buses. The case did nothing to harm his
Saturday, 5 April 2008
Just when we thought the die was cast, we are plunged into a period of
tragic uncertainty. Of course, in Robert Mugabe's world of
self-preservation, everything had to be anticipated.
But while the 84-year-old fights for his political life in a presidential
run-off only one thing is certain; Zimbabwe's continued slide into squalor
With militant war veterans vowing to fight tooth, nail and claw to defend
"national sovereignty", foreign investors will stay away. Investors already
in the country, but put off by new insane empowerment laws as well as the
devastating macro-economic framework, will keep their projects dormant. That
means business stagnates in the mining sector, a potentially rich sector,
after land seizures destroyed the mainstay farming. And if Mr Mugabe rigs
his way to victory, these investors will inevitably all flee the country.
In fact, existing investors face a bigger risk. After having seized almost
all white land, Mr Mugabe' company nationalisation law now offers him the
best possible patronage options. A vigorous implementation of this law ahead
of the run-off as a vote-buying gimmick is very likely. Mr Mugabe has
already threatened that British firms in the fuel, financial services and
mining sectors will be the first to be targeted. They have to give at least
51 per cent to local black people to stay in the country.
The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe's money-printing presses will remain at work as
he seeks to reward supporters. Inflation, pegged at just above 100,000 per
cent, will inevitably assume even higher levels. Don't expect this to worry
Mr Mugabe. While civilised leaders elsewhere will quit office in the
national interest, never expect this of Mr Mugabe. The more he ruins
Zimbabwe, the more he clings to power.
And so Zimbabwe awaits what will probably be its bloodiest pre-election
period. Never take Mugabe's war veterans for granted. Prior to the 2000
elections, they raped young children as punishment for their parents
supporting the opposition. After having soundly lost the first round of
voting, there is no way Mr Mugabe can win a free and fair second round. He
will have to rely on the war veterans to do the bidding for him. Expect more
acts of cruelty against the long-suffering people of Zimbabwe.
If ever there was a time Zimbabweans needed the help of the international
community to save them from their savage tyrant, that time is now.
Saturday, 5 April 2008
This time last week, the people of Zimbabwe were voting in parliamentary and
presidential elections. The omens for a free and fair election were not
good. Reports abounded of polling stations set up in the middle of nowhere,
mysterious piles of superfluous ballot papers, and intimidation of
opposition candidates. President Robert Mugabe had been shown on television
presenting lavish gifts, such as new cars, to individual voters; it did not
take much imagination to see such largesse as an inducement to vote in the
required way, courtesy of the ruling party, Zanu-PF.
Seven days on, it is clear that, despite all the precautions taken by the
President and his circle, these elections did not run according to the
time-honoured Mugabe script. It was four days before the official results of
the parliamentary elections were declared. When they were, they showed a
narrow victory for Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change. After
28 years in undisputed power, Zanu-PF had lost control of the legislature.
The results of the presidential election have still not been released, even
though these votes should, in theory, have been simpler to count than the
ones for constituency MPs. The longer any election authority takes to
publish the count, the more suspicions are likely to be raised – and that
goes for any country, not just Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe. In this case, logic
would suggest that the presidential result should mirror that for
Parliament, though a voter's personal loyalty to one or other of the
candidates might skew the figures a little one way or another.
The responses of the rival camps, however, have been telling. Zanu-PF said
nothing at all until yesterday, when its leading Politburo met for several
hours and agreed a statement of support for Mr Mugabe, should he contest a
run-off. Why, whether and when there might be a run-off were fundamental
questions that the party did not address. The MDC, for its part, has said
that Mr Tsvangirai took 50.3 per cent of the vote, which would give him
outright victory without the need for a run-off.
An independent, non-party, projection gave Mr Tsvangirai 49 per cent,
compared with 42 per cent for Mr Mugabe. However humiliating this result
might appear to a president used to winning by fair means or foul, it would
obviously be preferred by Mr Mugabe, as it would leave him the legitimate
option of a run-off. Whether he would win such a contest, however, seems
unlikely – without resort to illegal and intimidating measures.
The fear must be that Mr Mugabe, even at 84, and his frightened entourage
will stop at nothing to hang on to power. There were reports yesterday of
troops massing in areas of the country regarded as MDC strongholds; the
party's headquarters were ransacked, and two foreign journalists were
detained. Such preparatory moves do not bode well for a revival of democracy
in Zimbabwe or for an eventual peaceful transfer of power.
There are reasons to hope, however, that intimidation and brute force may
yet be avoided. First, because whatever efforts were applied to manipulating
or rigging the vote last Saturday, they were not enough to secure a
first-round victory for Mr Mugabe; more than half the voters chose an
opposition candidate for MP. Second, because the army top brass has yet to
show its hand; it could be decisive in resolving a stalemate that could
quickly escalate into a crisis. And third, because the opposition has
conducted itself so far with commendable restraint and respect for the law.
The MDC says that it will ask the high court to order the release of the
poll results. Its request should be granted without delay. That result,
flawed though it may be, will offer the most reliable signpost as to what
the parties should do next.
Chris McGreal in Harare
Saturday April 5 2008
Men like Happy Mariri and Ishmael Dube could now be called war veterans
against Robert Mugabe.
It wasn't always that way. The two men, sexagenarians who have already lived
nearly twice as long as the average Zimbabwean can expect these days, once
fought alongside Zimbabwe's president against white rule in Rhodesia in the
1960s, and endured years in jail as terrorists.
Dube went on to serve as an intelligence officer for Mugabe's presidential
office. Mariri worked to keep alive the dreams of the war veterans for jobs
and land. But now they are looking towards what they describe as a second
liberation, this time from Mugabe after 28 years of authoritarian, and
sometimes bloody, rule.
"I went to war to free our parents who were subjugated by the whites in
Rhodesia," said Mariri. "We wanted a Zimbabwe where we took the jobs of the
whites, that kind of simple thinking. But we also wanted a Zimbabwe that was
free. The main objective was to usher in the era of the people of Zimbabwe
deciding what they want. That is not the Zimbabwe we see today."
Dube and Mariri lead the Zimbabwe Liberators Platform, an organisation of
16,000 war veterans who really did fight in the bush, unlike many younger
men who have acted as a Zanu-PF militia to terrorise the opposition.
Mariri joined the liberation forces in 1965, was captured three years later
and was sentenced to hang. He was released after 11 years in prison, just
before independence. Dube took up arms in 1966 at 18. He was jailed a year
later and served 15 years. "We're virtually the origin of the armed
struggle," said Mariri.
But after a decade or so of Mugabe's rule, the pair turned against their
leader as the values they fought for were subordinated to the interests of a
narrow clique that has led the country to disaster.
They shake their heads as they reflect on how, three decades after the
freedom struggle, some people long for the whites to return, not to rule but
to grow food.
Like many Zimbabweans the pair are torn between expectation and fear.
"Mugabe was never going to give up power easily. We know that too well,"
He added: "Mugabe has generated so much hatred from people. That's why they
created these militias as institutions of murder. There was genocide in
Matabeleland. That couldn't have taken place without the direct orders from
the top. There are certain crimes that cannot be pardoned, crimes of
If Mugabe is to be called to account it will have to be Zimbabweans who do
it. The killings in Matabeleland were in the early 1980s, long before the
jurisdiction of the international criminal court.
The Movement for Democratic Change has sought to reassure Mugabe by saying
he will not be put on trial and will be allowed to go into a comfortable
retirement as an honoured liberation fighter.
But first the MDC has to get him out.
Dube doubts that Mugabe can survive for long even if he struggles on. For a
start, he said, Zimbabwe's leader can no longer rely on the loyalty of the
foot soldiers of the security forces. "The generals up there have been given
so much money they don't know what to do with it. But the ordinary soldiers
have nothing, nothing.
"My discussions with people still serving in the army and the intelligence
services is they realise that he can't win a second round. People will come
forward who didn't vote before because they will say this is our chance to
get rid of the monster."
Mariri is uncertain about what Zimbabweans will do if Mugabe hangs on to
power. "Zimbabweans are a peaceful lot. But put them against the wall and
it's hard to say what they would do. Go back in time and you have to ask
yourself what made Zimbabweans go to war" against the white Rhodesian
regime, he said. "At a certain point you'll be surprised what Zimbabweans
Meanwhile, local journalists await possible news conferences in the lobby of Harare's luxurious Miekles Hotel.
"It is too quiet — it does not seem like the MDC [opposition Movement for Democratic Change] even won anything," says Mudiwa, a local cameraman.
"No one cares about the parliament — we just want the sekuru [old man] to step down," Mudiwa says of President Robert Mugabe.
Most local journalists like Mudiwa capture photographs, video footage or written statements in Zimbabwe to sell them for a lucrative sum to eager foreign news services.
For now, learning the truth seems to be the hope of every Zimbabwean. But rumors travel through the air and fabrications are printed in the national newspaper. As a result, many people here have to create their own version of what is actually going on.
Meanwhile, on Thursday evening, numerous hotels in Harare were raided.
Barry Bearak, a New York Times correspondent, was detained by police. Bearak was found at the York Lodge, located in Newlands, a suburb 20 minutes outside of Harare, the capital. Reports of his arrest were confirmed by New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller in an article in the paper on Friday morning.
"Sometime you are lucky — other times you are not," says a cameraman from Al-Jazeera, the television network headquartered in Qatar. "We are all looking for information here and it's not easy."
Al-Jazeera is one of the few broadcasters allowed into the country and was granted access, after it met stiff application requirements. One of the requirements was a $10,000 accreditation fee.
The network has the support of Zimbabwe's leading local media entrepreneur, Supa Mandiwanzira, founder and owner of Might Movies, a fully functional studio space that sends daily footage to foreign news agencies around the world.
"Supa is doing Super," cameraman Mudiwa says. "He is one man that is enjoying all of this."
At the end of each hourly broadcast, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission says that the logistical difficulties of compiling all the results is a large task, and then thanks the public for its patience as this process continues forward.
But on Friday afternoon, a Politburo (aligned with the ruling ZANU–PF political party) meeting was held, where a declaration of a runoff was announced.
"He [Mugabe] should be allowed to leave in a nice way," says an election observer from West Africa. "He is the father of the country."
That said, unofficial results leaning in favor of the MDC presidential contender, Morgan Tsvangirai, suggest that Mugabe is no longer the people's choice.
Mudiwa echoes that feeling: "It is not the time to be too generous."
ABS CBN news
WASHINGTON - Zimbabwean authorities are still holding two Americans,
including a New York Times reporter covering the election, while two other
US citizens have been freed, the State Department said on Friday.
State Department spokesman Tom Casey, who declined to release the names of
those held because of US Privacy Act concerns, called for their immediate
He said US consular officials had visited the Americans, jailed on Thursday.
"They have not been mistreated ... as far as I am aware," said Casey. "They
were picked up for no legitimate reason."
The New York Times said its reporter, Barry Bearak, who is based in
neighboring South Africa, was taken into custody from his hotel in the
The other American is a senior program officer with the National Democratic
Institute, a US organization that monitors elections worldwide and promotes
The institute said Dileepan Sivapathasundaram was arrested on Thursday at
After more than 22 hours during which authorities said he was not being
held, Sivapathasundaram was finally tracked down to Harare's central police
station where US diplomats and Zimbabwean human rights lawyers were briefly
allowed to see him on Friday, the institute said.
"NDI requests the immediate release of Dileepan Sivapathasundaram, a United
States citizen. ... The Institute also calls on the Zimbabwe government to
ensure his safety and safe passage from the country," the group said in a
The two released Americans either had left or were shortly due to leave
Zimbabwe, said Casey, who gave no other details.
Casey said violence, intimidation and crackdowns following the election,
whose results are still not known, would not solve Zimbabwe's problems.
He reiterated strong US concern over the delay in the release of official
election results in a poll last Saturday that put President Robert Mugabe's
28-year rule in question.
"Every minute and every hour that the Zimbabwean Electoral Commission delays
releasing official results, gives everyone that much more reason to suspect
that they are doing so not for legitimate vote-counting purposes but
possibly to open the door to some abuses of the system or some chicanery,"
"Those results must be released now and then have the process moved forward
on what those results show."
Zimbabweans wait anxiously for presidential election results
Isaac Hlekisani Dziya
Published 2008-04-05 08:16 (KST)
Defiant President Robert Mugabe has outraged Zimbabweans and the
international community by defying the very constitution he pledged to
uphold when he took his oath of office, which stipulates that election
results must be announced within six days.
Notwithstanding the defiance, the opposition Movement for Democratic Change
has said it will challenge the delay in producing the results, which is part
of Mugabe buying time to mobilize ex-combatants and militias to start
beating people into voting for his ZANU-PF.
There is already a precedent for this. When Zimbabweans voted against his
referendum in 2000, he sent the same ex-combatants and militias on an orgy
of violence against innocent urbanites and villagers.
How can he insist on a run-off when we have not even had the results
announced officially by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission? The chairperson
of the ZEC, a High Court judge appointed by Robert Mugabe, has been in for a
hard time already.
ZANU-PF's politburo met in Harare today and came out with a decision to go
for the run-off, which has not yet been announced by ZEC. The plan
ostensibly is to counter Western imperialism and re-colonization through the
MDC, which Mugabe accuses of planning to take back the farms confiscated by
ZANU-PF and hand them back to whites when it comes to power.
The MDC has been very clear in saying that two wrongs do not make a right
and will not take back any productive farms. Any farms that are
underutilized will be reviewed for reallocation.
We understand that some people in Zimbabwe and in the diaspora are
collapsing through anxiety. Zimbabweans are tired of living in suspense and
in exile and need a new clean start.
ZANU-PF's militant ex-combatants are being drafted under the leadership of
Jabulani Sibanda to try and regain face and also intimidate people into
voting for the octogenarian Mugabe, whose own fellow politburo members have
accused of having lapses of concentration in meetings.
Zimbabweans are no longer proud to be Zimbabweans as their so-called
sovereignty has meant much suffering under the leadership of Mugabe.
Zimbabweans are tired of being intimidated by the military, the Central
Intelligence Organization (CIO) and the police. Zimbabweans want to be free
to associate with whomever they want in the great wide global community
without being accused of being puppets of the west.
Tsvangirai and peace-loving Zimbabweans will defy Mugabe's unrelenting
actions as being akin to the last kicks of a dying horse. By denying the
Zimbabwean populace the election results, Mugabe has given his opponents the
MDC ammunition to fight harder and educate and inform their supporters of
his true colors.
Mugabe and his colleagues want to enjoy immunity from criminal prosecution
proceedings, thus they hang in there as the die-hards they are with
Tsvangirai has already shown the hallmarks of a statesman as he said there
would be no retribution, but rather a time to reconcile and rebuild. ZANU-PF
and its police force have actually precipitated violent assaults and arrests
on MDC supporters.
ZANU-PF has been the center of political controversy in Zimbabwe as it
believes that only its ideology should prevail. The liberation war
credentials seem to make them believe that they have a greater right to be
more Zimbabwean than the common Zimbabwean person who never held a gun or
ever went to the liberation struggle and are the great majority.
Mugabe and ZANU-PF will vigorously campaign to hold on to their ill-gotten
gains at the expense of the common Zimbabwean. Tsvangirai's bid is to ensure
social and economic equality for all Zimbabweans regardless of political
affiliation, and thus is amenable to finding common ground with the
opposition despite the ill-treatment they got form ZANU-PF. Tsvangirai is
gunning for a nation that upholds equality and justice for all Zimbabweans.
Zimbabweans are yearning for rights rather than privileges.
Tsvangirai and the Zimbabwean people are demanding an economy that is better
managed, and that does not place its citizens under fear of retribution for
holding a different political opinion.
Zimbabwe's Mugabe is not bothered by trampling on minority rights and has
frequently advocated crushing anyone who opposes his philosophy, both within
his own ZANU-PF and the MDC opposition.
Mugabe has a myopic understanding of the opposition, which he accuses of
being puppets of the west. The MDC, however, would want to cooperate with
the both the East and the West where its associations find the best
advantage of the people of Zimbabwe.
Last Updated: 12:12am BST 05/04/2008
There are "greedy elements" inside Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for
Democratic Change who, once in parliament, will behave in exactly the same
manner as Robert Mugabe's corrupt Zanu-PF party, senior politicians in
Zimbabwe claimed yesterday.
Some of the critical politicians, from Zimbabwe's second city,
Bulawayo, asked not to be identified, fearing that they could become targets
for intimidation as the country awaits another round of the presidential
Mr Tsvangirai's MDC has been accused of using violence against
opponents during the campaign.
This week, a young worker from another opposition party was stabbed,
allegedly by Mr Tsvangirai's supporters, and lies critically ill in
Bulawayo's Mpilo hospital. This follows beatings and intimidation of Mr
Tsvangirai's political opponents over the past 18 months.
Trudy Stevenson, a 62-year-old former MDC backbencher, was taken to
hospital after an attack by Mr Tsvangirai's followers.
According to Paul Themba Nyathi, a local civil rights lawyer and
independent political candidate, the "thuggish behaviour" of Mr Tsvangirai's
supporters has largely escaped the attention of observers and the press
"because the big prize is still to rid the country of Mugabe and his
He pointed to the autocratic attitude struck by the opposition
leader - his followers now refer to him as President Tsvangirai - and
questioned the quality of some of the MDC's newly elected MPs.
"Tsvangirai's followers seem to be saying to themselves that they can
never win an election unless they behave like Zanu-PF. So they are behaving
like Zanu-PF - and they win elections by beating people and by using the
crudest methods of intimidation," said Mr Nyathi.
Among Mr Tsvangirai's new MPs is the representative for Bulawayo East,
Thabitha Kumalo, who was arrested three times during the campaign, once for
drunk and disorderly conduct and twice for tearing down opponents' posters.
Mr Tsvangirai's competence has also been questioned. On Wednesday, the
MDC released its unofficial tally of the presidential poll, claiming that
their leader had won outright with 50.3 per cent of the vote.
In fact, the MDC made an elementary mathematical error. Their own
figures showed Mr Tsvangirai winning 49.1 per cent of the vote, with Mr
Mugabe taking 43.8 per cent, leaving 7.1 per cent for Simba Makoni, the
independent candidate. In 2005, the MDC split acrimoniously into two
factions who ended up competing against one another for almost half the
parliamentary seats and dividing the opposition vote.
David Coltart, the former shadow justice minister who was elected to
the Senate this week, said the split had handed Zanu-PF victory in at least
"Had we competed together it is obvious we would have won a clear
parliamentary majority and Tsvangirai would have easily cleared the 50 per
cent needed to win the presidential election," he said. "This is because
Morgan Tsvangirai has failed to rein in the greedy, self-interested elements
of his party."
Mr Tsvangirai's MDC opponents - called the Mutumbara MDC after their
Oxford-educated leader Arthur Mutumbara - won only nine seats nationally but
hold the balance of power in the House of Assembly.
IT is usually impossible to avoid hearing the former Liberal Prime Minister
Malcolm Fraser apportioning blame for the world's problems on his most
recent Liberal successor or the Great Satan, the United States, but in
recent days he has held his counsel. This despite the fate of his former
friend Robert Mugabe, the Butcher of Zimbabwe, who Fraser, more than any
other Western leader helped to power has been strangely silent.
As the former PM's biographer, Philip Ayres has written: ``The centrality of
Fraser's part in the processes leading to Zimbabwe's independence is
indisputable. All the major African figures affirm it.'' Further, he quotes
Mugabe no less, as saying of Fraser: ``I got enchanted by (Fraser), we
became friends, personal friends ... he's really motivated by a liberal
philosophy.'' It takes a bloody-handed murderer to know a supportive liberal
when he sees one.
While Fraser, beloved of the latte left, was an early Mugabe backer, he was
not responsible for sustaining him in power for the past 28 years. The
surviving unfortunate Zimbabweans can thank the great power China for
providing their hated leader with the capital and weapons which he used to
ruthlessly keep them suppressed.
Fraser, like the current Australian Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, was
enamoured of himself and most particularly so when he was strutting the
world stage. But as a small-l liberal Fraser was moved more by emotion than
sensibility and in pandering to the warmer, wetter side of the political
divide, sacrificed Zimbabwe's millions to the monstrous Mugabe.
Of the current crop of living dictators, few can match Mugabe's record for
destroying a prosperous people through a constant series of deliberate
actions designed for the most part to keep him in power. As has often been
said, Mugabe managed to transform Zimbabwe from the bread basket of Africa
into the basket case of the continent. He did so to the applause, initially,
but over a long period of time, of Western liberals who cheered his land
reforms which saw efficient white farmers driven from their farms, and
sometimes tortured and murdered, while their properties were handed over to
so-called ``veterans'' of the guerilla war which saw the end of Ian Smith's
post-colonial rule of the former Rhodesia.
In small-l liberal eyes, white is always bad and black is always good.
Hence, Mugabe's actions in stealing land from white farmers while burning
their homes around them was seen as bringing a form of crude justice to
those who would perpetuate colonial exploitation. That black Zimbabweans
would later starve without work or shelter because the farmers who had
sustained their families had been murdered was not part of the liberal
equation. And throughout the rape of Zimbabwe, Mugabe and his upper echelon
of cronies flaunted their power indulging in public extravagances with
fleets of new model Mercedes cars at their command and, in Mugabe's own
case, the national airline at his beck and call.
According to the most generous estimates of the United Nations, the exodus
of white farmers triggered by Mugabe's anarchic land redistribution
campaign, which began in 2000, crippled the economy, and ushered in
widespread shortages of basic commodities. After rigging the 2002
presidential election to ineffectual international condemnation, his ruling
ZANU-PF party used fraud and intimidation to win a two-thirds majority in
the March 2005 parliamentary election, allowing it to amend the constitution
at will and recreate the Senate, which had been abolished in the late 1980s.
Operation Restore Order, embarked upon in 2005, resulted in the destruction
of the homes or businesses of 700,000 mostly poor supporters of the
opposition. Price controls placed on basic commodities last year send
inflation to the world's highest inflation of more than 100,000 per cent
while an HIV/AIDS epidemic contributed to a steep drop in life expectancy.
Those who examine the record and ask how this all came about will find that
Fraser, and those who share his impractical view of this imperfect world,
had a prime role and have a lot to answer for. As Mugabe's final hours are
played out, and Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai considers the enormous
task of rebuilding the shattered nation while managing the expectations of
its desperate people, Mugabe's own future must be considered.
Perhaps Malcolm Fraser could offer Mugabe the hospitality of his home. After
all, he owes the shattered Zimbabweans something beside an apology for
assisting their torturer on his rise to power.
By Tichaona Sibanda
4 April 2008
A senior member of the MDC said their immediate task on taking over power
would be to carry out a land audit to get a fair analysis of the land
situation, before they decide their next course of action.
In the last two days there has been a media onslaught from the state
controlled press saying the MDC was planning to reverse the land
redistribution exercise. The media claimed that white farmers who were
displaced during the bloody exercise were returning to reclaim their farms.
But Sam Sipepa Nkomo, the newly elected MDC MP for Lobengula in Bulawayo,
rubbished the reports saying it was part of Zanu-PF’s propaganda to portray
the MDC as a party with an agenda for whites.
‘The truth is we have an agenda for Zimbabwe, we never said that we want to
bring back whites, bring them from where. Where are they grouped?’ asked
The MDC legislator said Zanu PF is trying to hold on to power by advancing
useless propaganda. He reiterated that the MDC policy on land was very
‘The Land Commission will give us an answer to all that needs to be done. It’s
main task would be looking at who has what land and how they’re using that
land,’ he said.
Once the bedrock of the economy, the agricultural sector was destroyed by
Mugabe’s disastrous land policy, that saw white owned farms violently
invaded and taken over, before being redistributed to the regime’s cronies.
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