|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
Robert Mugabe is pulling out all the stops to ensure that he wins the presidential elections due in Zimbabwe before next April.
Electoral laws have been proposed which will effectively deny the vote to hundreds of thousands of young people without jobs, who are invariably opposition supporters.
Foreigners have been told that they will not be allowed to send monitors to the elections and only civil servants - susceptible to government control - will be accredited.
There's no way that Mugabe will lose the election. And even if he does lose the vote, he won't give up power
And more new laws are in the pipeline to stop independent journalists from writing stories which do not meet with official approval.
The opposition Movement for Democratic Change is being vilified as a "terrorist organisation" and officials warn of a US-style "war against terror".
The low-level campaign of intimidation against MDC activists, especially in the exposed rural areas, is continuing - as is the confiscation of land belonging to white farmers who are accused of supporting the opposition.
Self-styled "war veterans" were recently allowed to rampage through the second city of Bulawayo attacking whites and other suspected opposition supporters unmolested by the watching police.
The 77-year-old Mr Mugabe and his advisors are laying, one-by-one, the foundation stones of a very high wall around State House.
Zimbabweans who want change, buoyed by the MDC's strong showing in the June 2000 parliamentary elections, are losing hope.
"There's no way that Mugabe will lose the election," says one long-suffering Harare resident. "And even if he does lose the vote, he won't give up power."
The Financial Gazette newspaper reports that Mr Mugabe is building underground bunkers at State House in case the elections descend into civil war.
And the MDC has not yet come up with any answers.
Their 56 members of parliament are unable to block the controversial legislation, however much they huff and puff.
Meanwhile, the economy continues to suffocate in the absence of foreign aid and investment.
Workers are being laid off by the day and with inflation officially running at 98%, bread and even the staple food, maize-meal, are becoming luxuries.
A multi-screen, state-of-the-art cinema complex on the outskirts of Harare has had to close down because it can no longer get the foreign currency to import films from Hollywood.
Some lucky people, mainly with good connections, are benefiting from the distribution of farmland, so that even if they do not have a job, they can at least grow their own maize.
MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai was taken to court for warning that if Mr Mugabe does not step down, he would be removed from power by force. The charges were dropped but this could well be an accurate prediction for Zimbabwe's future.
With Mr Mugabe at the helm, there is no prospect of a reversal of Zimbabwe's economic fortunes.
The biggest challenge is to earn some foreign currency in order to pay for essentials such as oil and electricity, not to mention computers, vehicles and food imports.
International investors and donors are the fastest way of getting hard currency into the country but both groups will continue to steer well clear of Harare if Mr Mugabe rigs his way to victory.
"Frightening," is how one Zimbabwean describes the prospect of another six years of Mr Mugabe's rule.
Earlier this month, a group of civic organisations attempted to stage a "mass protest" at the new electoral laws but it fizzled out when a meagre 50 protestors turned up.
Riot police flooded Harare city centre and potential demonstrators knew that they were risking lungfuls of tear-gas, rubber truncheons and a night in the cells.
But as Zimbabweans become more hungry, they will also become more angry.
If they feel that they have no chance of changing the government through elections, there will come a point when they feel violence is the only answer.
Just as black nationalists, led by Mr Mugabe, felt in the 1970s with regard to Ian Smith's white minority government.
Even if he manages to hold onto power next year, ultimately, Mr Mugabe's carefully-laid brickwork will crumble to dust.
But he seems determined to drag his country down with him.
Zimbabwe court orders Mugabe to relax voter rule
HARARE, Dec. 3 — The Zimbabwe High Court ordered the government on Monday to
relax a voter registration rule after the opposition challenged it, saying
the regulation was aimed at favouring President Robert Mugabe's re-election
High Court Judge Ann Goora held an urgent hearing in her chambers and
issued the order on Monday, court officials said.
''The court issued an order with the consent of both parties whose
effect is that the rule on the kind of documents required for
voter-registration should be relaxed,'' opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) lawyer Innocent Chagonda told Reuters.
The rule stipulated that urban voters produce multiple documents to
prove their residency. The order would relax that to allow witnesses,
landlords' letters of introduction and post-dated envelopes to prove
residency, he said.
''We managed to get an urgent hearing on this matter because the
voter registration (which began on November 19) ends on December 9, but we
are looking at challenging all the other new rules,'' Chagonda said.
The MDC said the stringent proof of residency rule was designed to
disenfranchise millions of voters in urban areas, where Mugabe's ruling
ZANU-PF party lost heavily to the MDC in last year's general parliamentary
The government is also denying voting rights to millions of
Zimbabweans abroad, saying it does not have the capacity to process them.
But the MDC -- whose leader Morgan Tsvangirai is expected to give
Mugabe the stiffest challenge of his long career -- says all the rules are
meant to bolster Mugabe's chances in the presidential elections due by
The 77-year-old Mugabe maintains the elections will be free and fair,
and says he has never cheated in a poll since he came to power when the
former Rhodesia gained independence in 1980.
But he says there is a Western-backed plot to topple his government,
and has entrusted the administration of the entire elections to the
government-appointed Electoral Supervisory Commission.
His government refuses to allow local independent observers to
monitor the elections and has banned private organisations from conducting
Mugabe's ZANU-PF narrowly won last year's parliamentary elections
despite a violent campaign blamed on the ruling party which left at least 31
The Zimbabwean government says some Western powers, especially
Britain, are working for Mugabe's defeat in revenge for his controversial
drive to seize white-owned farms for redistribution to landless blacks.
Britain and other Western states deny the charge, saying Mugabe wants
to divert attention from a crisis he has created
Daily News - Feature
They are using a wedge to divide the wageless
12/3/01 11:05:54 AM (GMT +2)
Candid Talk with Masola waDabudabu
THIS one is to show that the people of Matabeleland now matter. Like pawns
in a game of chess, they are now being used for dirty political moves. They
are now being used to clean up the political stalemate. It could only be a
matter of time before the people of that wretched part of the country are
used in a checkmate move. As a prelude to the Bulawayo mayoral elections, I
emotionally wrote about the people of Bulawayo being the King-makers or
King-killers. I had a point.
That point is now being seriously put into operation by those who know that
it will work for them. The starting point has been the open sponsorship of
the new Zapu by the State media. So much prominence is being given to Zapu.
That prominence is much more than the original PF-Zapu was ever showered
with. I can only recall that the most pronounced prominence PF-Zapu was ever
afforded during its days was for the purpose of demonising it. Now, Zapu is
being given the prominence that is supposed to nurture it into a great force
in Matabeleland. It would not have been maliciously suspicious if such media
prominence was equally extended to all political parties.
It would make political sense if such prominence was proven true on the
ground. It would make sense if such overzealous reference to Zapu by the
State media was supported by an overwhelming response from the electorate.
The truth is that a wedge is being put into operation. The wedge shall be
used to divide the mainly wageless people, if at all it succeeds. Zapu! I
have never seen the new Zapu in action. I have never seen its support base
doing what a major player in politics would normally do.
I have never seen Zapu supporters supporting their party the way the State
media claims. I have yet to hear of the usefulness of the new Zapu to
society as a whole. All I have heard is the quest for a federal system by
the troika. The troika consists of the three prominent members of the party.
Besides the three, I have never heard anyone else being quoted by the media,
not even their wives. A plot to divide the people has been put into place.
The State media is playing the most crucial and perhaps the most cruel part
in that division of the people. They are giving undue attention to a
nonentity in the hope that it will become a giant. It is like trying to
create the Titanic from a canoe. There is a lot that needs to be done.
There is a lot that the State media has to conjure up a Zapu the political
giant they wish it could be. The State media has to buy out everybody from
Zanu PF and the MDC to support Zapu. That is a tall order indeed. Imagine
the task at hand in trying to persuade all war vets in Matabeleland to
support Zapu! That is political bigotry the media will be asking the
erstwhile gentlemen and ladies to undertake. Then there was the angry talk
from esteemed gentlemen that Zapu was no longer a force to reckon with.
That angry talk was from highly placed chefs from the original PF-Zapu. The
gentlemen tried hard to dispel the existence of the new Zapu as a divisive
plot. Now the gentlemen have gone silent. They are waiting on the sidelines
for the success of plan "A" which is the assault on the people's unity by
the State media. In their silence, the gentlemen who used to scorn the
formation of Zapu are agreeing that it is better to save their skins through
the division of the people. Now we are made to recognise the imagined
existence of a giant called Zapu. The giant is said to be gaining ground
that was lost by PF-Zapu due to the Unity Accord of 1987.
The Unity Accord does not matter anymore. What matters is the survival of
the status quo. If unity really mattered, the State media would not so much
be giving the divisive coverage to the new Zapu. The State media would be
pouring hot coal on the feet of the Zapu executive as a nuisance to the
well-being of the people. Alas, the State media is helping Zapu to keep
dividing the people on tribal lines.
The very State media that silenced Khayisa Ndiweni is now giving him free
air play as if he was Hondo ye minda. Excuse me for being emotionally
attached to Matabeleland. That is where I hail from. I have seen
Matabeleland lose because of division. I have seen Matabeleland face a war
of words and a war of guns over the very issue of separatism. I have stayed
in Matabeleland and experienced the pain of being unwanted.
I can extend my happiness to Zapu for being wanted by the State media. For
the first time after a very long time, Matabeleland in general and Zapu in
particular have mixed their ingredients well. Now tongues are wagging as the
State media prepare themselves for a gastronomic feast of unlimited
proportions. The feast is to celebrate the imminent division of the people
Once the people of Matabeleland are divided, the battlegrounds will
naturally shift to "home turf". I hope you are not metaphorically deficient
as it might be! I hope you understand figurative speech! I hope you will not
be cowered into a bunker thinking that war is coming. It shall not be a real
war where soldiers fight fierce battles. There might be a few deaths, but
then those deaths will not matter much as they will be explained away with
great oratory and eloquence.
Meanwhile, as Zapu makes surprising inroads in Matabeleland, the people of
Matabeleland will be making inroads to their doom. Once a new king is made,
the people would have to pay economically for not rendering their support to
Caesar. I shall always recall the year 1985. The people of Nkayi were
visited for an election campaign. They were asked to "please vote for me. If
you vote for me, I shall come back to thank you. If you do not, I shall
still come back to ask you where you are now!" In their conservativeness,
the people of Nkayi and the rest of Matabeleland voted for PF-Zapu in that
As fate had it, they remained firmly attached to the meanest end of poverty
and neglect by those who were supposed to provision as rulers. Caesar only
demands what is his. As we go to church, we then give to God what is His!
The people of Matabeleland have for some time been itching for a party that
will receive recognition from the State media. Now the State media has given
them that party.
Daily News - Leader Page
Blow enemy away by persuasive fear of democracy
12/3/01 11:19:34 AM (GMT +2)
By Norman Reynolds
THE deliberate and illegal attack on the MDC building in Bulawayo by a Zanu
PF mob ushered and protected by the police is yet another act of escalating
and vicious State violence against the rights of citizens.
It is certainly used to cow citizens and to provoke the opportunity to
declare a State of Emergency, at least in that city if not the province. The
leader of the MDC, Morgan Tsvangirai, did the right thing. He went onto the
streets and he told MDC followers not to be drawn into the Zanu PF trap.
As President Mugabe raises the stakes, what Tsvangirai called "the end
game", so it will be increasingly difficult to restrain MDC followers from
retaliating against the increasingly naked and arrogant abuse of State
MDC followers and all citizens unhappy about the destruction of their
country need the means to feel empowered to counter the deep sense of being
rendered powerless on the way to being disenfranchised.
Otherwise, their fears and hatred will spill over in damaging ways. All
citizens remain witnesses and many horrific affidavits have been written and
collected. A new government will have to address the illegal and violent
events that have taken place since Mugabe was defeated in the referendum on
the draft constitution last year.
The MDC has said there will have to be a Commission of Inquiry to handle the
past so that the country can concentrate on picking up the pieces and
reconstructing a democratic society and working economy for all. This will
take place after the Presidential election or, if Mugabe avoids it or
"steals" it, whenever the inevitable change of power comes.
The Southern African Development Community, African leadership and the
international community, perhaps led by Britain with funds in service to the
United Nations, must now announce that it will support morally and in kind,
including with international jurists, such a Commission of Inquiry.
South Africa should name its likely team, as should other countries like
Nigeria and past close friends of Zanu PF, like the Scandinavian countries
who know the pain of being let down so thoroughly, with Nelson Mandela as
There are many names that will reassure Zimbabweans as their government
intensifies its assault upon their rights and increasingly upon their
persons. In the meantime, I suggest that the people of Zimbabwe adopt
something akin to Gandhi's Satyagraha (non- violence movement) and Martin
Luther King Jnr's civil rights movement.
Not easy. It does take great discipline and patience. Citizens can, for
instance, rush to every event of State violence carrying pen and paper,
big-sized paper, to quietly, openly and in mass formations record every
detail of thuggery and of illegal action by the police and army, the secret
service and party thugs.
They should then compile all they have learnt about who, what rank, name,
residence, village, mother and father, office address and vehicle and submit
dated copies for formal acceptance and deposit to any useful authority:
legal offices, chiefs, churches, companies and the international community.
More than that, they, seeing the pattern of wilful destruction clearly and
most now having been rendered unemployed, should quietly and systematically
visit every office and home to meet, to record, to question and to remind
the persons and the families of those who hold public office that the people
are not silent, cowed or stupid, but loyal, informed, energetic and
determined to protect, to preserve and to rebuild the democratic edifice of
Also to inform that things will change and that they will have to answer.
Here the regional and the international communities must not let them down,
but back them by broadcasting support to and building the role of the
Commission of Inquiry.
The people can go on to suggest that there are loyal actions persons who are
caught up in the corruption of their jobs can undertake that undermine the
authority or effectiveness of those above them and render illegal actions
ineffective, even nakedly embarrassing.
People who hold public office can "switch" sides secretly, can issue wrong
or confusing instructions, can pull out the telephone, can inform the
"enemy" as to where and when to be with paper and pen, who should be
visited, where the parents of political thugs live and other acts of
confusion. Citizens need to occupy public space, to sing, to be seen, to
keep creating and using "hot" catchy phrases like "What would happen if they
called a bogus election and no one came?" or, if they had to be counted,
"Spoil all the ballots as the way to demand fair and free elections!"
The people need to draw and to display a thousand kinds of public mockery,
serious information and education in a tidal wave of clandestine activity,
to "Go to war by other means". "Friendly" parties could drop tonnes and
tonnes of paper and pens and "Prestick", protected inside plastic folders
together with loads of information, from the air, even from across the
Denmark was overrun and occupied by the Nazis during in the Second World
War. When the Germans began to hound and to arrest Danish Jews, the Danes
dressed and did what they could to appear Jewish in order to confound the
So Zimbabweans can all join the so-called "war veterans" and Zanu PF to
confuse and to transform those gangs from the inside. They do not have to
vote that way! There are just 100-odd short days to go.
Citizens of Zimbabwe should steal the initiative, occupy the moral high
ground, expose the cracks, build the means to act, be magnanimous ahead of
the Commission of Inquiry, and be democratic heroes.
The enemy is vicious, on its last legs, scared and, at its core, few. Blow
it away by love and record keeping and by instilling the persuasive fear of
Daily News - Leader Page
Chapfika report amounts to censure of President
12/3/01 11:18:39 AM (GMT +2)
One of President Mugabe's most ruinous traits is stubbornness.
He simply will not listen to anybody. No matter how sound other people's
advice or point of view might be, for as long as that point of view does not
coincide with his own, he will dismiss it angrily as "nonsense" because he
appears to have long ago convinced himself that he is the fountain of
And on the rare occasions that he appears to see reason, as he did when he
addressed the nation expressing his acceptance of the people's verdict
following his government's humiliating defeat in last year's referendum on
the draft constitution, it will only be the cunning of a boxer who feints
with the right to deliver a killer blow with the left.
The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) are bound to have
memories of this cunning in their patient dealings with Mugabe which could
not be fond ones by any stretch of the imagination. His public announcement
at the burial of Clement Muchachi that the IMF-authored economic structural
adjustment programme was now dead and buried was, in fact, an act of only
putting into words what his attitude towards the programme had been all
along from the day he "accepted" it.
Although his government had pretended to have embraced the programme since
1990, in reality, it was stillborn. One of the main aspects of that IMF
prescription meant, among other things, to bring down inflation, narrow the
Budget deficit and improve the country's balance of payments position.
It meant the government had to cut down on its reckless spending by reducing
the size of the Cabinet and the bloated civil service. Although some
efforts, albeit half-hearted, were made to reduce the civil service, Mugabe
has done precious little to address the widely criticised issue of his
outsized government. The hangers-on in his government are simply too many
for this small country to sustain, and Mugabe has been told this by
economists both within and outside our borders.
Mugabe's preposterously large Cabinet of no less than 23 is the same size as
the British Cabinet which runs an economy which is infinitely bigger and
more thriving and governs a population more than four times our own.
Over and above that, his government is also burdening the taxpayer with
almost as many deputy ministers, who never stand in for their ministers, as
well as eight provincial governors, who are absolutely irrelevant because
they duplicate the work of provincial administrators.
From these figures, it is quite clear even to someone who has never studied
economics, that even at the peak of this country's economic performance -
and right now the economy could not be worse - Zimbabwe can hardly sustain a
government of this size without resorting to printing money and fuelling
inflation as is happening now. And yet Mugabe, who is said to have a degree
in economics, seems abysmally ignorant of that simple fact. It is a great
relief, therefore, that a parliamentary committee, fortuitously chaired by a
Zanu PF MP, has tabled a report which bluntly tells Mugabe that Zimbabwe's
persistent Budget deficits are caused by a bloated government which is too
large in relation to the size of the country's economy.
In his report to Parliament last week, the chairman of the Budget, Finance
and Economic Development Committee, David Chapfika, told his colleagues in
the House: "Persistent Budget deficits suggest that the size of the
government is too large in relation to the performance of the economy."
We earnestly urge the President to take serious note of this statement
which, by all accounts, amounts to public censure. If he will not act on
this report, chances are that even if God Himself came down to command him
to do so, Mugabe would ignore that command.
MP awaits ruling over public violence case
12/3/01 10:53:15 AM (GMT +2)
From Our Correspondent in Masvingo
JUDGMENT in the case of the Chiredzi South MP, Aaron Baloyi, charged with
public violence involving ethnic clashes in Jeka village in Chiredzi in the
run-up to last year's parliamentary election, was postponed last Friday to 3
Baloyi appeared before Godwin Chizhande, a Masvingo magistrate. The State is
alleging that Baloyi incited a group of about 400 people from Jeka village
under Chief Chilonga in Chiredzi to assault all Karanga-speaking people in
the area, claiming they were settled on foreign land.
The State alleges that after the MP's remarks, scores of Shangani people
armed with sticks, stones and spears, attacked livestock belonging to Watson
Makwara and other Karanga-speaking people.
Baloyi is alleged to have ordered the villagers to destroy all property and
settlements of Karangas.
He allegedly ordered everything belonging to the Karangas razed to the
The villagers, allegedly acting on his instructions, uprooted newly planted
crops and attacked several people and livestock.
The MP, on $1 000 bail, pleaded not guilty, saying the charges were intended
to tarnish his image ahead of the 2000 parliamentary election.
But he does not deny addressing the villagers on the day in question.
Mirirai Shumba appeared for the State, while Cosam Chuma of Chuma, Gurajena
and Partners legal practitioners, represented Baloyi.
Mudede fails to clarify voter registration requirement
12/3/01 10:46:52 AM (GMT +2)
By Columbus Mavhunga
TOBAIWA Mudede, the Registrar-General, yesterday failed to cite the section
in the Electoral Act which requires his office to ask for proof of residence
from citizens registering for the presidential election scheduled for early
In an interview Mudede said: "This has been the requirement here and all
over, but people are now crying foul because they think we intend to cheat.
"We are following the Electoral Act and the Local Authorities Act since the
same voters' roll will be used in the municipal elections."
Contrary to his assertion, this has never been the case since the
introduction of the Executive Presidency in 1987 for which elections for the
six-year presidential term were held in 1990 and 1996.
Mudede told a news conference on Wednesday, his office was within the law to
demand proof of residence from potential voters for the presidential
Asked to clarify the new requirements when the whole country converts into a
single constituency for the presidential election, Mudede said: "We cannot
allow the law of the jungle to prevail. We are very liberal here.
"I have been to Mauritius, to the UN and people always ask me why we allow
laissez-faire to prevail here." But David Coltart, the MDC shadow minister
of justice, said the Electoral Act was clear on what is required for one to
qualify to vote. You only need to be 18 and a Zimbabwean to qualify to
register," said Coltart.
"Asking for a proof of residence is illegal. We will see what we can do
Many lodgers have been turned away after they failed to produce proof of
residence. In the rural areas prospective voters have to be accompanied by
their headmen. But critics have said most headmen are loyal to Zanu PF.
Last week, the opposition MDC received complaints from over 150 people in
Mberengwa East alone, who said their headmen had refused to register them as
voters. Meanwhile, the meeting which had been scheduled between the Justice,
Legal and Parliamentary Affairs committee and Mudede, over the proposed
amendments to the Electoral Act was postponed to next week due to lack of a
Security guards use teargas canisters to assault students
12/3/01 10:44:41 AM (GMT +2)
THE secretary-general of the University of Zimbabwe (UZ) Students
Representative Council, Tapera Kapuya says he was assaulted by university
security officers on Tuesday, sustaining a deep cut on the head.
The same officers then arrested him, he said.
Kapuya was arrested together with 10 other students for paying tribute to
the late Lameck Chemvura, the student thrown out of a moving passenger train
last Saturday by rowdy soldiers.
Kapuya said efforts by students to hold a demonstration against police
brutality were thwarted by UZ security officers who threw teargas canisters
"They hit me on the leg with a teargas canister and threw more canisters to
where I was and beat me up with batons and a sharp object," he said.
Kapuya, who has nine stitches on the head, was detained at 9.30am on Tuesday
at Avondale police station and taken to Harare Central police station where
he was detained until 1pm yesterday.
The other 10 students were detained at the same police stations, but they
were released at about 12 noon yesterday without being charged.
"We were told that the police would proceed by way of summons and we were
not taken to court," said one student.
The students said they were allowed to see their lawyers and Kapuya was
denied access to medical treatment despite bleeding from the head. All the
detained students failed to sit for their end of semester examinations, due
on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
"We will file criminal charges against Mcloud Tarambiwa, the chief security
officer who gave instructions for the security officers to assault us," said
Meanwhile, Lameck Chemvura, was buried on Wednesday afternoon at Samanga
Village near Hauna Growth Point in the Honde Valley.
Innocent Mupara, the suspended student leader, said the university
authorities refused to release the Great Hall for a memorial service for
Chemvura or to provide transport for the burial ceremony.
"We feel the army needs to be accountable for State brutality and we will
work hand in hand with civic organisations to condemn these acts of
brutality," said Mupara.
This is the second case of a student being killed at the UZ in less than two
years. Batanai Hadzizi was allegedly murdered by UZ security guards on 9
Uleria Mude, a student at the UZ died in the 13 July 2000 stampede at the
National Sports Stadium during a South Africa-Zimbabwe soccer match
From The Daily Telegraph (UK), 3 December
Mbeki is urged to get tough with Zimbabwe
Johannesburg - President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa sought to distance himself from the worsening situation in Zimbabwe yesterday when his spokesmen suggested that he had toughened his attitude towards President Robert Mugabe. A leading national newspaper in South Africa, The Sunday Times, reported a significant change in policy under a headline "Mbeki Turns Up the Heat On Bob". Mr Mbeki's advisers said he had "abandoned the kid gloves approach to Mugabe". They also said Mr Mbeki had tried to strengthen the regional task force on Zimbabwe, the principal diplomatic vehicle being used by Zimbabwe's neighbours. But while the story was given prominence in South Africa's leading Sunday newspaper, there was little substantive proof of the claim. "Someone in South Africa is worried about the devaluation in the rand and is trying to distance the country from Zimbabwe," a diplomat said. "There will have to be more substance before this is taken seriously." Diplomats said Mr Mbeki had yet to take any significant policy initiatives against Mugabe's regime, preferring a softly-softly approach. Last week Mr Mbeki was challenged about his position on Zimbabwe at a meeting with members of the international press but refused to give an answer when asked if he thought Mr Mugabe was still fit to lead Zimbabwe.
While Mr Mbeki's advisers have pointed out to him the disastrous effect Mr Mugabe is having on investor confidence across the entire region, Mr Mbeki seemed reluctant to criticise Mugabe personally. Mr Mbeki often speaks publicly about the residual racism among Western leaders and he is believed to attribute a large part of the criticism of Mr Mugabe to that. But with his advisers there is clear frustration that South Africa has not drawn a clear enough line between itself and Zimbabwe. The crisis in Zimbabwe is currently casting a shadow across South Africa and the entire region as no leader seems willing to put serious diplomatic pressure on Mr Mugabe. Opposition leaders in South Africa have called for "smart sanctions" to be imposed on Mr Mugabe and his cronies. This would involve banning them from international flights and restricting their ability to use bank accounts in South Africa and elsewhere. Asked about this policy initiative, Mr Mbeki said he had not given the matter "any thought".
From BBC News, 3 December
New challenge to Mugabe
Civil rights activists in Zimbabwe have threatened to launch a campaign of civil disobedience in January unless the government implements political reforms and ensures next year's presidential election is free and fair. The chairman of the National Constitutional Assembly, Lovemore Madhuku, announced the move after a meeting of the NCA, which is a coalition of local churches, unions and human rights groups, on Saturday. He said the government should expect mass protests and work boycotts if it rejected a new constitution drafted by the NCA. President Robert Mugabe has predicted he will win a convincing victory at the election, due before the end of March, while the opposition accuses him of changing electoral legislation in his favour. An estimated 2,000 people attended Saturday's meeting on the proposed new constitution, which stipulates the separation of powers between a non-executive president elected by parliament and an executive prime minister elected by popular vote. The new constitution would also abolish the death penalty for treason, though not for murder. "We think we need change of the constitutional framework before you can go into an election, and we want to make that point in January," Mr Madhuku said.
The BBC's Rageh Omar reports from the South African city of Johannesburg that the NCA meeting shows resistance to Mr Mugabe's rule is not confined to his political opponents, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). "This weekend's threat of a widespread national campaign of disobedience by civic organisations has highlighted other focal points of disaffection to the current Zimbabwean government policies," he says. The Zimbabwean authorities last week briefly detained Mr Madhuku and 32 other NCA members when they tried to demonstrate against new election rules they consider undemocratic. The MDC has accused Mr Mugabe of trying to steal victory by changing the electoral laws in his favour. The opposition is outraged by a bar on postal voting for millions of Zimbabweans living abroad voting and rigid new rules demanding multiple proof of residency for urban voters. It has launched a campaign to persuade millions of its supporters living in South Africa to return home and claim their right to vote. The MDC estimates that about 3m Zimbabweans live there and most are opposition supporters. "You must fight for Zimbabwe," MDC Deputy President Gibson Sibanda told a rally in Johannesburg on Sunday. "You must go home and claim your voting rights. We want you to prepare yourselves to go back and vote."
From ZWNEWS: The proposed amendments to the Electoral Act are due to be tabled in Parliament on Tuesday by Justice Minister Chinamasa. If you would like a copy of these amendments, please ask. They will be sent as a Word attachment to an email message - size 80Kb, or roughly twice the size of the average daily ZWNEWS.
From Business Day (SA), 3 December
Diplomats invited to Zanu congress
Harare - Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has invited diplomats in Harare to attend his ruling Zanu PF's annual congress to be held in Victoria Falls in two weeks. Zimbabwe has also invited a committee of Southern African Development Community (SADC) ministers to visit the country on December 10 to assess progress in its land reform programme, the state-run Sunday Mail reported yesterday. Mugabe's foreign affairs ministry extended its invitation to the diplomats for the congress scheduled for December 14. "The ministry wishes to advise the heads of diplomatic missions who will be able to attend the opening session of the conference to make their own travel and accommodation arrangements," the invitation said. Diplomats interviewed said they would not attend the congress. "Most of us will not be attending because we know that the government will use the congress to get political mileage," said one diplomat. "What they are trying to do is divert the attention of the world away from Zimbabwe's pressing internal problems. They are beginning to feel the pain of international isolation," he said. Diplomats are forced to attend Zanu PF gatherings. In 1999 diplomats were compelled to attend its congress where Mugabe gave them a roasting, warning those who did not support him they would be recalled. Observers said from past experience, the gathering would provide a grandstand platform for the Zimbabwean leader and his party, which is desperate for a fresh mandate to lead the country for another six years. Observers said a slew of rhetoric and wild attacks on adversaries could be a major feature of the congress. At a tree-planting ceremony at the weekend Mugabe scoffed at threats of international sanctions. He accused his rival Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of Movement for Democratic Change, of being a puppet of former colonial power Britain.
From The Zimbabwe Standard, 2 December
Soldiers loot beef
Some top officers of the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) have been suspended from work for diverting to the black market beef destined for soldiers fighting in the Democratic Republic of Congo The Standard has learnt. Military sources said agents from the Zimbabwe Military Intelligence Corps based in Lubumbashi, had recently intercepted an army truck carrying a 10-tonne beef consignment and had arrested the crew. The beef, which had no invoices attached to it and is believed to have cost millions of dollars, was on its way to a lucrative black market in the DRC where payments are made in US dollars. The racket was unearthed following a spate of thefts of army food rations which had prompted the intelligence unit to investigate.
The Standard understands that several army officers implicated in the scam have been suspended pending the results of the investigations. "The soldiers told the intelligence team that they were being sent to deliver the loot to the DRC black market and were given instructions not to include the loot amongst the rest of the consignment being delivered to the soldiers," said the source. "This is just the tip of the iceberg as there are many things happening in the army in the DRC which involve the chefs," the source said. Army food rations to the DRC, where Zimbabwe has deployed an 11 000 strong force, are transported via rail, air and road. The Standard understands that there is massive looting of rations destined for soldiers in the DRC.
Zimbabwean troops have been fighting in the DRC since 1998 helping to prop up the Joseph Kabila regime which is involved in civil war with the rebels backed by Rwanda and Uganda. Contacted for comment, the defence spokesperson, Colonel Mbosini Gatsheni refused to discuss the matter. "I do not want you asking me about it. You should put your questions in writing to my office. I have not received a report on that matter." Last month, a report by the United Nations team implicated Zimbabwean soldiers and senior Zanu PF officials in the looting of the DRC’s mineral wealth.
From The Zimbabwe Standard, 2 December
"I’m coming home," says Thomas Mapfumo
Chimurenga music king, Dr Thomas Mapfumo, has assured his followers that he will be coming home for Christmas. Mapfumo yesterday told The Standard from his United States base that although the current political climate in Zimbabwe was a hostile one, he was still coming home, dispelling Wednesday’s story by the state-controlled Herald newspaper that he would not be staging his traditional Christmas bira. Said Dr Mapfumo: "Munyika medu munonetsa nenyaya dzepolitics. (Our country has a lot of political problems.) I have heard a lot from my relatives living in Zimbabwe but that won’t stop me from coming home. Handina mhosva yandakapara saka hapana chandinotya. (I have not committed any crime so I have nothing to fear.) People out there who think I am afraid of someone or something, are wrong." Mukanya said plans for the launching in Zimbabwe of his album, Chimurenga Rebel, were at an advanced stage. The album is likely to contain the hard hitting lyrics that have come to be expected of him.
The Commercial Farmers Union (CFU), which represents the majority of white farmers, said the decision taken on Monday was unexpected and confirms an interim decision taken by the court last month.
The ruling removes the last remaining legal obstacle preventing the government from processing claims to white-owned farms.
Zimbabwe's land reform programme has been marred by violence since government supporters, calling themselves war veterans, began occupying white farms 18 months ago demanding that they be redistributed to landless blacks.
An estimated 1,700 white-owned farms have been occupied over the past 18 months, and police have largely failed to stem the accompanying violence.
Last year the Supreme Court ordered the government to end violence on white-owned farms.
But three new judges have been appointed by President Mugabe since then.
Last month, the country's Land Acquisition Act was amended so that white farmers could be forced off their land with immediate effect.
Zimbabwe's economy is already in crisis, blamed largely on the land reform programme, which has massively disrupted farming activities.
The World Food Programme is due to begin a huge relief operation this month to feed over 500,000 Zimbabweans who face hunger or starvation.
Zimbabwe's president is also coming under increasing pressure to hold free and fair presidential elections due by March next year.
South African President Thabo Mbeki's patience is reported to have worn thin after growing increasingly frustrated with the worsening political and economic situation in Zimbabwe.
But South Africa remains opposed to sanctions.
The United States is expected to impose targeted sanctions on Zimbabwean leaders this week.
And Europe is moving towards similar sanctions by the end of January.
Former South African president, Nelson Mandela, expressed his support for his successor's tougher stance, saying it is not too late to ensure a fair election in Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe's leading state-owned newspaper, the Herald, has accused Mr Mbeki of betraying President Mugabe and joining a Western plot to overthrow him.
From The Times (UK), 4 December
Zimbabwe accuses Mbeki of knifing it in the back
Johannesburg/Harare - Diplomatic relations between Zimbabwe and South Africa hit a post-apartheid low yesterday after Harare accused President Mbeki of conspiring with Britain to overthrow President Mugabe’s Government. In an unprecedented editorial in the Herald newspaper, the official mouthpiece of Zimbabwe’s ruling Zanu PF party, Mr Mbeki was denounced for "betraying" Zimbabwe by saying that the situation north of the Limpopo River was deteriorating rapidly and would worsen further if presidential elections due by April were not seen to be free and fair. The newspaper accused Mr Mbeki of making statements that "neatly dovetail into Britain’s grand plan for a global coalition against Zimbabwe".
In a series of statements widely regarded as marking a break with Pretoria’s previously quiet diplomacy, Mr Mbeki had accused Mr Mugabe’s Government of denying voters their rights and attempting to suppress the media. "In a situation in which people get disenfranchised, in which people get beaten up so that they don’t act according to their political convictions, there can’t be free elections," Mr Mbeki said. It was seen in South Africa as his most forthright criticism yet of Mr Mugabe’s Government. Conceding that international attempts to rein in Mr Mugabe’ illegal seizure of white-owned land had largely failed, Mr Mbeki said: "The situation is not improving at all. If you had elections in Zimbabwe which were not seen by the people as legitimate, then you’d end up with a situation worse than it is now."
Mr Mbeki’s tougher stance followed a series of telephone conversations with Western leaders in which he was urged to step up the pressure on Mr Mugabe. The declining value of the South African rand, the loss of investor confidence in southern Africa and the steady stream of Zimbabweans seeking refuge in South Africa have added to the pressure on Mr Mbeki. The New National Party, which recently agreed a power-sharing deal with Mr Mbeki’s ruling African National Congress, called on Mr Mbeki to withdraw all support from Mr Mugabe to ensure that he was not re-elected. "Mugabe has become a total liability that South Africa can no longer afford," the party said. Nelson Mandela, the former South African President, backed Mr Mbeki’s change in policy. "It is quite clear now that Mugabe has not listened to (Mr Mbeki), and that is why (he) is getting tough," Mr Mandela said.
The Herald’s editorial was accompanied by a lengthy front-page report with a headline that declared "Mbeki’s Shock U-turn". Inside the newspaper was an analysis of the ANC’s new "strange bedfellows" relationship with the NNP and a verbatim transcript of the statement to the House of Commons last week by Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary. "Conspiracy", read the headline. None of the rambling commentary was attributed to Zimbabwe Government officials. However, it is common knowledge that Mr Mugabe’s information department routinely scripts the Herald’s reportage and comment. Yesterday’s blast of vitriol against South Africa could only have been done under the supervision of Jonathan Moyo, the Information Minister, diplomats said. "Such betrayal is difficult to stomach," it said. "What crime has Zimbabwe committed against its rich and powerful neighbour to deserve a knife in the back?"
From ZWNEWS, 4 December
President Mugabe flew to Spain yesterday. Spain will assume the rotating presidency of the European Union from Belgium, whose six-month term ends in January, and analysts say that this trip may be an attempt to try and repair the damage resulting from Mugabe’s storming out of a recent meeting in Harare with top EU foreign affairs officials and politicians. Reliable reports suggest that Mugabe also managed to fit in a consultation with a top Spanish eye specialist while he was there.
No such luxury for Mugabe’s political opponents. Fletcher Dulini-Ncube, who is the MDC Treasurer, and MP for the Bulawayo Lobengula-Magwegwe constituency, is now entering his third week in detention. He was one of those arrested in the swoop on dozens of MDC officials following the murder of Bulawayo war veteran Cain Nkala. Dulini-Ncube is an insulin-dependent diabetic. He has been refused adequate insulin supplies or medical attention, and has been subjected to a brutal regime of all-night interrogations since his incarceration. As a result, he now has severe problems with the sight in one eye, and failing sight in the other.
The continued detention of Dulini-Ncube, and all the others arrested in connection with Nkala’s death, is now totally without justification. The only evidence which the government was able to bring against any of the accused was the confession of two MDC drivers, who were paraded on state-owned TV implicating MDC officials in Nkala’s murder. The two witnesses last week retracted their confessions in court, saying they were forced to make them after torture by the police. Members of Nkala’s own family have placed the blame for Nkala’s death squarely on the ruling party Zanu PF, and other members of the war veteran's association.
From News24 (SA), 4 December
Setback for Mugabe
Harare - The Zimbabwe High Court ordered the government on Monday to relax a voter registration rule after the opposition challenged it, saying the regulation was aimed at favouring President Robert Mugabe's re-election bid. High Court Judge Ann Goora held an urgent hearing in her chambers and issued the order on Monday, court officials said. "The court issued an order with the consent of both parties whose effect is that the rule on the kind of documents required for voter-registration should be relaxed," opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) lawyer Innocent Chagonda said. The rule stipulated that urban voters produce multiple documents to prove their residency. The order would relax that to allow witnesses, landlords' letters of introduction and post-dated envelopes to prove residency, he said. "We managed to get an urgent hearing on this matter because the voter registration (which began on November 19) ends on December 9, but we are looking at challenging all the other new rules," Chagonda said. The MDC said the stringent proof of residency rule was designed to disenfranchise millions of voters in urban areas, where Mugabe's ruling Zanu PF party lost heavily to the MDC in last year's general parliamentary elections. The government is also denying voting rights to millions of Zimbabweans abroad, saying it does not have the capacity to process them.
But the MDC - whose leader Morgan Tsvangirai is expected to give Mugabe the stiffest challenge of his long career - says all the rules are meant to bolster Mugabe's chances in the presidential elections due by April. The 77-year-old Mugabe maintains the elections will be free and fair, and says he has never cheated in a poll since he came to power when the former Rhodesia gained independence in 1980. But he says there is a Western-backed plot to topple his government, and has entrusted the administration of the entire elections to the government-appointed Electoral Supervisory Commission. His government refuses to allow local independent observers to monitor the elections and has banned private organisations from conducting voter education. Mugabe's Zanu PF narrowly won last year's parliamentary elections despite a violent campaign blamed on the ruling party which left at least 31 people dead. The Zimbabwean government says some Western powers, especially Britain, are working for Mugabe's defeat in revenge for his controversial drive to seize white-owned farms for redistribution to landless blacks. Britain and other Western states deny the charge, saying Mugabe wants to divert attention from a crisis he has created.
From Reuters, 2 December
Mugabe faces foreign criticism
S. African president abandons support of Zimbabwe president
Harare - President Robert Mugabe faced growing foreign pressure on Sunday as South African President Thabo Mbeki apparently distanced himself from him, and the United States appeared close to imposing sanctions on Zimbabwe. At home, Mugabe’s opponents threatened to launch a series of mass protests to force him to accept constitutional reforms, and critics denounced a media bill which they say is meant to curb press freedom ahead of presidential elections. However, Zimbabwe’s Sunday Mail newspaper reported that Mugabe had invited a regional ministerial committee to audit progress made on his controversial land reform program. The December 10 visit by the six-member team from the 14-nation Southern African Development Community comes amid reports that Mbeki has been pressing for a special meeting of the SADC task force on the Zimbabwe crisis.
Critics say Mugabe has largely ignored a Nigerian-brokered agreement that his government signed in September to end often violent invasions of white-owned farms by his supporters, but his ministers say the government is respecting the accord. "The invitation of the committee is said to have been inspired by a growing recognition that since the Abuja agreement the fast-track resettlement program has gone on well according to the laws and constitution of Zimbabwe," the Sunday Mail said. But others on the continent appear unconvinced. South African government officials said Mbeki is making it plain to Mugabe he should no longer expect his protection and must work to end a crisis threatening the economies of his neighbors. "He (Mbeki) wants Mugabe to know that he should not expect protection any more. Up to now we have rallied behind him," one senior official told South Africa’s Sunday Times newspaper. A senior official in Mugabe’s Zanu PF party said: "We in Zanu PF believe these remarks cannot be true because if they are, then that would be quite sad. President Mbeki, more than anyone else, knows too well that this region and our country in particular was economically and militarily destabilized by apartheid," the official told the Sunday Mail.
Zimbabwe’s private Standard newspaper reported on Sunday that the U.S. House of Representatives was likely to pass a bill this week imposing travel and investment sanctions against Mugabe and his associates for allegedly sponsoring political violence in the country. The Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Bill was endorsed by the Africa sub-committee of the House International Relations Committee last Wednesday, and the Standard quoted sources in Washington saying the bill should be passed by the full house on December 4. On Saturday, Mugabe told a rally his land seizures would continue "with or without sanctions." Mugabe, 77, has been in power since the former Rhodesia gained independence from Britain in 1980 and is expected to face the stiffest challenge of his career from Morgan Tsvangirai of the Movement of Democratic Change in next year’s elections. The MDC nearly defeated Mugabe in general parliamentary elections last year despite a violent campaign blamed on the ruling Zanu PF which left at least 31 people dead.
On Sunday, a coalition of Zimbabwean civic groups campaigning for a new constitution said they would present Mugabe a draft democratic constitution by Christmas and call for mass protests in the new year to force him to adopt it. "We are dealing with a dictatorship determined to hang onto power through hook and crook, and we have no option but to try all kinds of protests to be heard," Lovemore Madhuku, chairman of the National Constitutional Assembly, told reporters. Others launched attacks on a news media bill the government plans to launch. Zimbabwe’s Standard newspaper said the bill, which threatens jail terms for journalists who violate new regulations, largely bars foreign nationals from working as correspondents in the country and comes with a strict licensing system, amounted to "absolute madness." "Should the bill be passed into law in its present form, then clearly a major showdown is in the making between the government and the independent press," the newspaper said.
Comment from Business Day (SA), 4 December
Checkmate Day approaches for former 'People's Hero'
If only President Robert Mugabe had left office before the 1990 presidential election, as was rumoured widely in official circles at about that time, he would today be a big African hero probably in the same league as luminaries such as Nelson Mandela. Notwithstanding his brutal suppression of dissident activity in Matabeleland in the early 1980s and his expedient flirtations with socialism, Mugabe had then by and large managed to steer Zimbabwe on a path to relative prosperity. With the country having just come out of a bitter bush war, and under pressure from blacks to deliver the democracy dividend overnight, Mugabe surprised his detractors and rose to the many political and socioeconomic challenges he had inherited from Ian Smith's white minority government.
On the one hand, he showed great statesmanship by espousing reconciliation where many whites expected him to seek retribution and on the other, saw to it that his reconstruction and development programme raised the quality of life of ordinary Zimbabweans. And as popular as Madiba is in SA, it is fair comment to say that in the early to mid-1980s Bob was arguably more popular among his people to the point of being hero-worshipped as a demi-god. His strong pan-African sentiments, his liberation credentials and his uncompromising stand against the then tough-as-nails apartheid SA which had harassed and humiliated prominent regional leaders such as the late Samora Machel of Mozambique also made him one of the most eminent African leaders of that time.
Unfortunately for Zimbabwe's aging and ailing leader, when his time to leave office comes - which does not appear to be too distant a prospect given the ever deteriorating situation in the country - Zimbabweans and historians alike will only be left with the memories of a bitter old man who allowed his big ego and pride to get the better of him and ruined a once-promising country. Unable to pick his successor inside his ruling Zanu PF party, it was the same ego that led to Mugabe changing his mind about retirement and deciding to contest the 1990 presidential election against a former secretary general of his party, Edgar Tekere. Although he won that ballot, his political standing was now destined to go only one way down.
A naive and overenthusiastic embrace of stringent economic and structural adjustment programmes prescribed by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank caused the early damage to the foundations of his rule. The public groans from the resultant steep increases in the prices of basic commodities subsequently precipitated into calls for his retirement and ouster. And unable to come to grips with the dramatic fall in his political fortunes, Mugabe's desperate attempts to reinvent himself as the "people's hero" - a tag he wore for a decade with much pride - have become increasingly bizarre and oppressive. With the Zimbabwean economy in freefall; law and order in the country breaking down alarmingly; and with presidential elections due early next year, Mugabe faces the real prospect of being defeated at the polls by one of his former followers, Morgan Tsvangirai of the Movement for Democratic Change. But as checkmate day approaches for the 77-year-old leader, his administration is predictably going to ridiculous ends to stem the tide. For instance, the state television broadcaster has now borrowed from CNN and imprinted the slogan "Fighting terrorism" in red at the bottom of the main evening news bulletin. Of course, the terrorists are the opposition and the media.
In addition, Mugabe has announced plans for a range of oppressive measures meant to keep the opposition at bay. These include making the carrying of identity cards mandatory under laws enacted during Smith's reign; introducing media legislation designed to give the government blanket controls over news reporting in the country; and disenfranchising hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans through an act that outlaws dual citizenship. And as if this were not enough, Mugabe plans to bar Zimbabweans not resident in the country in the last 12 months from voting in the 2002 presidential poll. This move is clearly designed to deny the opposition up to a million votes from mostly illegal immigrants eking out a living in SA and who are decidedly anti-Mugabe and Zanu PF. While it is premature to say that Mugabe is now down and out, what is clear is that whether he wins next year's ballot or not, the end-game of his long rule has begun.