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No progress at regional Zimbabwe summit: MDC

http://ca.reuters.com

Mon Jan 26, 2009 11:16am EST

By Stella Mapenzauswa and MacDonald Dzirutwe
PRETORIA (Reuters) - A regional summit aimed at pushing Zimbabwean President
Robert Mugabe and the opposition to implement a power-sharing deal has made
no progress, an opposition official said on Monday.

The agreement is seen as a chance to prevent an economic collapse that could
put added strain on neighbors which already host millions of Zimbabweans who
fled in search of work and, more recently, to escape a deadly cholera
epidemic.

An official of opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) said the 15-member regional SADC bloc summit had not persuaded
the rivals to implement the power-sharing deal signed last September.

"We are worlds apart. If we were (inches) apart we are now miles apart," the
MDC official told Reuters.

Mugabe and Tsvangirai signed the agreement in September but have failed to
agree on control of cabinet posts, with neither side showing any sign of
compromise.

"Questions concerning Zimbabwe are continuously being raised in capitals and
streets of Africa, with the expectation that the Zimbabwean leadership of
all persuasions, under the aegis of SADC, will resolutely resolve the
impasse with decisiveness and statesmanship," South African President
Kgalema Motlanthe told the summit. "I trust that we will not fail them."

Mugabe, in power since 1980, and his ZANU-PF party have urged the opposition
to join a unity government but say they will not hesitate to form one
without them.

Mugabe is expected to seek approval from regional leaders at the summit in
Pretoria to form a government alone if need be.

Western leaders want Mugabe to step down and are pushing for a democratic
government to embrace economic reforms before billions of dollars in aid is
offered, but he has resisted their calls through several rounds of
negotiations.

In Brussels, the European Union stepped up pressure on him on Monday by
adding 27 individuals and 36 firms to a sanctions list and calling for a
probe into Harare's diamond industry, EU officials said.

LAST CHANCE

A Zimbabwean deputy minister billed Monday's summit as the last chance for
rescuing the power-sharing pact, viewed as the best hope for Zimbabwe, where
prices double every day and cholera has killed nearly 2,900 people since
August.

"The way forward soon after this summit, whether there is an agreement or
there is no agreement, President Mugabe is going to form a cabinet," deputy
Information Minister Bright Matonga told South African public broadcaster
SAFM radio.

He said Mugabe would try to leave room for Tsvangirai if he decided to
change his mind, but not for long.

Tsvangirai says ZANU-PF is trying to sideline him and wants control of
powerful ministries such as Home Affairs. He says no deal is possible unless
party activists are released from jail.

Within the SADC bloc, Zambia and Botswana have taken a tough line on Mugabe,
but other members favor a more diplomatic approach with the man they still
revere as a liberation hero.

Botswana's President Seretse Khama Ian Khama, one of Mugabe's toughest
critics, attended the summit after boycotting one in August.

Without a political settlement, it is unlikely sanctions imposed on
Zimbabwe's leadership by Western countries will be lifted.

(Writing by Michael Georgy; Editing by Marius Bosch and Katie Nguyen)


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SADC summit making no progress on Zimbabwe crisis

http://www.swradioafrica.com

By Lance Guma
26 January 2009

SADC leaders and representatives met in South Africa Monday to try and break
the deadlock over a unity deal signed by ZANU PF and the MDC in September
last year. It's the 7th time the leaders have met for either full or other
smaller meetings, in their ineffective attempts to resolve the crisis which
erupted after disputed elections last year. A Reuters report late in the day
quoted an MDC official saying the talks were failing to make any progress in
resolving outstanding issues. 'We are worlds apart. If we were (inches)
apart we are now miles apart', the official from the MDC told Reuters.

First to meet around 10am were the leaders of Swaziland, Angola and
Mozambique, who make up the defense and security committee of SADC. The
troika, as it is called, met South African President Kgalema Motlanthe ahead
of the main summit and its thought they presented their own report on the
crisis. Former South African President Thabo Mbeki, who brokered the deal
last year, was also present at the meeting. Around 12pm the regional leaders
had a group photo taken and the summit proper began after 2pm and was
supposed to have concluded with the release of a SADC communiqué around
6:30pm. But Newsreel understands closed door meetings at the Presidential
Guest House in Pretoria only began around 6.00pm, and so it was unlikely the
summit would stick to the scheduled time frame.

Last year Botswana's President Ian Khama boycotted a similar SADC summit, in
protest at the way Mugabe was violently re-elected. He argued that; 'The
authorities in Harare, under the present circumstances, should not be
represented at the political level at any SADC summit as that would be equal
to giving them legitimacy.' This time Khama attended and his presence was
sufficient to worry Mugabe of the potential for a heated meeting. Reports
suggest on Friday that Mugabe sent close ally and confidant, Emerson
Mnangagwa, to meet Khama's envoys in Chobe, Botswana in a bid to ease the
tension before Monday's summit.

Almost 4 months after the signing of the unity deal no government has been
formed, with Mugabe refusing to relinquish control of the most powerful
ministries and doing everything possible to show he is not sincere in
sharing power. Even a hurriedly put together meeting between Tsvangirai and
Mugabe last week Thursday, ahead of the summit, could not break the impasse.
Mugabe's aides took turns to issue statements insisting Zanu PF had made
enough concessions and would go it alone, if the MDC refused to join the
government.

The MDC meanwhile are insisting on an equal share of power that does not
relegate them to junior partners. So even before the summit began chances of
it succeeding looked doomed from the beginning.


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South African police use violence to break up Zimbabwean protest

http://www.swradioafrica.com

By Violet Gonda
26 January 2009

South African police used undue violence to break up a peaceful Zimbabwean
solidarity protest, on the day regional leaders gathered for the emergency
summit in Pretoria on Monday.
The recently launched Save Zimbabwe Now! Campaign had been given permission
to hold a solidarity rally at a park opposite the Union Building - the
office of the South African President.
Emily Wellman, one of the organizers, told SW Radio Africa that about an
hour and a half into the demonstration the crowd of about 600 people
spontaneously crossed the road and went up the steps of the Union Building
and began singing.
She said there was no violence, no shouting or screaming or provocation,
because they knew they did not have permission to be there. Wellman said:
"The police asked us to leave once or twice and then opened fire with rubber
bullets, which resulted in over 600 people having to scramble down the
stairs which are very steep stairs."
Shoes, handbags and babies' blankets were left behind as terrified
protestors ran for their lives. The Save Zimbabwe Now! Campaign said several
people were injured and seven were taken to hospital.
"The reaction from the police was completely over the top. People were
singing and dancing when police started firing rubber bullets. This type of
intolerance is part of the culture which must be changed - not only here in
South Africa - but across the SADC region," Richard Smith from the Zimbabwe
Solidarity Forum Secretariat said in a statement.
Meanwhile South African Authorities refused to accept a petition from the
campaign.  Eight delegates had tried to hand over the document for the SADC
leaders at the President's Guest House - the venue of the emergency SADC
summit on Zimbabwe. But they were carried off in a police van and later
taken back to the rally. The group included Kumi Naidoo, the Honorary
President of CIVICUS, who is entering the sixth day of a 21 day hunger
strike in solidarity with Zimbabweans.

The group had wanted to deliver a memorandum asking for 'decisive action
from SADC to acknowledge the extent of the humanitarian crisis in the
country, and stop tacit support of the Mugabe regime'.  They also want
regional leaders to investigate the allegations of torture and human rights
abuses in Zimbabwe.


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Clinton "very concerned" by Zimbabwe impasse

http://www.ft.com

Mon Jan 26, 2009 7:19pm GMT

By Sue Pleming

WASHINGTON, Jan 26 (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is
"very concerned" by Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's refusal to reach a
power-sharing deal with his opponents and wants South Africa to put more
pressure on him, the State Department said on Monday.

State Department spokesman Robert Wood said Clinton, the former first lady
and senator from New York, was "very focused" on the political stalemate in
Zimbabwe and was looking at what could be done to ease the crisis.

"We're very troubled by the fact that the Mugabe regime refuses to negotiate
seriously with the opposition," Wood told reporters.

"Senator Clinton is very focused on this issue. She is very concerned about
it. Obviously we are going to be reviewing the situation in southern Africa
to see what we can do," he added.

Zimbabwe's economy is in ruins with runaway inflation and a cholera epidemic
has killed nearly 2,900 people since August.

Regional leaders meeting in South Africa this week have failed so far to get
Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai to implement a power-sharing
deal.

Mugabe and Tsvangirai signed an agreement in September but cannot agree on
control of cabinet posts, with neither side showing any sign of compromise.

Wood urged the SADC (Southern African Development Community) regional bloc,
and particularly South Africa, to do more to get both sides to reach an
arrangement.

"We have encouraged South Africa to do as much as it can to put pressure on
Mugabe to do the right thing. But to date, Mugabe does not seem to have any
interest whatsoever in bringing an end to the crisis," he said.

"The regime has no interest in its own people, it has no interest in trying
to bring about good governance and democratic government," added Wood.

Last Friday, Clinton called South Africa's foreign minister but Wood had no
information about that call or whether Zimbabwe was raised during their
conversation.

The Bush administration's strategy was to increasingly isolate Mugabe by
imposing more sanctions on him and other senior officials backing the
veteran president, who has been in power since 1980 in Zimbabwe.

Asked whether the Clinton team was planning a new approach to Zimbabwe, Wood
said the Obama administration was reviewing the overall situation but
declined to give details.

The European Union stepped up pressure on Mugabe on Monday by adding 27
individuals and 36 firms to a sanctions list and calling for a probe into
Harare's diamond industry. (Editing by Anthony Boadle)


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Robert Mugabe threatens unilateral government

http://www.telegraph.co.uk

Robert Mugabe's regime has threatened to form a government on its own, which
would repudiate the power-sharing agreement with Zimbabwe's opposition.

By Sebastien Berger in Pretoria and Peta Thornycroft in Harare
Last Updated: 5:54PM GMT 26 Jan 2009

The threat came even as a summit with the Movement for Democratic Change was
being held in South Africa to try to save the process.

Beleaguered Zimbabwe's political leaders and representatives of regional
governments gathered at Pretoria's presidential guesthouse for the latest in
a series of summits since the agreement was signed last September.

Mr Mugabe arrived in a Mercedes limousine with its curtains drawn, and did
not say anything as he entered the building.

Almost 3,000 people have died of a cholera epidemic in Zimbabwe, millions
need food aid and the economy is collapsing, but the power-sharing process
has been stymied by disagreements over how it will work, epitomised by Mr
Mugabe's unilateral allocation of cabinet ministries last year.

In Harare, Bright Matonga, Zimbabwe's deputy information minister, said:
"This summit is the last summit that is going to discuss this issue of an
inclusive government.

"If it does not work today, definitely when the president comes back here,
he has to form a new government with or without Morgan Tsvangirai [the
leader of the MDC].

"He will obviously try to leave room for Tsvangirai so that whenever he
changes his mind ... but that is not going to be for too long."

If fulfilled, the threat would see the final collapse of the power-sharing
deal, and Mr Mugabe's Zanu-PF party appears to be laying the ground to try
to blame the MDC for its failure. Some of its neighbours in the Southern
African Development Community, who are losing patience with the long drawn
out process, appear to be effectively complicit in the strategy as they have
been piling pressure on the MDC to drop its objections.

But the opposition has signalled that it would not cave in, even though it
has few plausible options.

The European Union announced that it was expanding the list of individuals
and companies targeted for sanctions, but the measures have had little
effect in the years they have already been in place.

"Only the people that have an inalienable right to decide their course and
their destiny," said Tendai Biti, the MDC secretary-general, ahead of the
Pretoria summit.

"For the record, it is Mugabe and his acolytes who have been responsible for
the castration of Zimbabwe's manhood. It is not so-called sanctions that
have created the phenomenal decline of this economy to levels unheard of in
modern economics.

"It is not Tsvangirai who is frustrating the consummation of the unity deal
but rather Mugabe himself. We are not so naive as to allow Zanu-PF to trap
us in the cul-de-sac of their sterile processes."

In Harare, the regime is doing its utmost to constrain the opposition.
Officials took Jestina Mukoko, a human rights campaigner facing terrorism
charges, to hospital in leg irons more than a week after a court ordered her
release.

At the weekend an MDC rally was banned in Chitungwiza, a suburb south of
Harare, where a 45-year-old shop owner said Mr Tsvangirai should sign
because "it will be to his advantage that he will be incorporated into the
new government rather than remaining an opposition leader".

He added: "It will be a new horizon and will ease political tension between
MDC and Zanu-PF."

But a 70-year-old retired headmaster disagreed: "I don't think that Mr
Morgan Tsvangirai should sign unless power is equally shared or Mugabe will
carry on as he did for the last 29 years."


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SADC has failed Zimbabwe - Skelemani

http://www.thezimbabwetimes.com/?p=10462
 

January 26, 2009

phandu-skelemaniPhandu Skelemani, Botswana’s Foreign Minister.

HOT SEAT interview: Journalist Violet Gonda interviews Phandu Skelemani the Foreign Minister of Botswana

(Transcript of a SW Radio Africa broadcast on January 23, 2009)

Violet Gonda: Today I have the pleasure of welcoming the Botswana Foreign Minister, Phandu Skelemani on the programme Hot Seat, talking about Botswana’s position on the crisis in Zimbabwe. On Monday, SADC is holding an emergency summit on Zimbabwe in South Africa, so I first asked what we expect from the regional body in light of this upcoming meeting.

Phandu Skelemani: We hope that this time around both the Zimbabweans and SADC will take a firm stance and once and for all resolve what appears now to be a problem which is just dragging on. So we look forward to a firm resolution with SADC telling the rest of the Zimbabweans particularly the leadership that enough is enough. They must form a government at least; otherwise they should go back to the people and hold a ballot box.

VG: Right, what has been your assessment though, if you can just briefly tell us your assessment of how SADC’s role has played out since September last year?

PS: Well as we have said before, we at SADC have failed the people of Zimbabwe. We have simply failed to tell the leadership, the political leadership in Zimbabwe that what they are doing is wrong, it is undemocratic and that they ought to respect the people and do everything with the people as the priority. That SADC has failed to do, so SADC has virtually achieved nothing in respect of Zimbabwe. It is unfortunate but it is true.

VG: Why is that so Mr Skelemani, why is it that SADC is failing to deal with this problem, why hasn’t it succeeded?

PS: My opinion is that too many of the leadership in SADC feel some kind of obligation towards Mugabe, probably because he has been such a good freedom fighter which we don’t deny, but we think they’re confusing the part played by Mugabe during the liberation and the part that he wants to play now when he has subjected himself to the will of the people. That is the reason. SADC is divided and is divided because we simply don’t put the people first but rather an individual and that is unfortunate.

VG: Now you seem to, and by you I mean Botswana, seems to be a lone voice in SADC in terms of siding with the people of Zimbabwe. Do you know any other countries in the region that are vocal or that have criticised the Mugabe regime?

PS: I don’t think it’s a question of people criticising the regime, it’s a question of people telling the truth as they see it. Those who – at least appear to us - to think that what is happening is wrong are not probably what you might call vocal, but I think the stance of the late President Mwanawasa was quite clear. Zambia was quite clear that what Mugabe was doing was unacceptable and he spoke out. Recently I think other people in private have spoken out but since they haven’t spoken out publicly, one is careful not to be naming names.

VG: What are the sort of things that they speak about even though it is behind the scenes?

PS: Clearly that what Mugabe is doing is wrong, that he can’t pretend to act as if he won an election because he didn’t, that he should be more accommodating than he appears to be doing. That is where the problem is and the last ridiculous thing – that he thinks they should have two ministers in charge of a ministry just because he knows that is the ministry he abuses. It is not acceptable. It is ridiculous, that is what everybody should have told him, that the rest of the people - in public, they accepted let’s experiment, let’s have two ministers. How that can function, even in theory I think is silly.

VG: So what do you see happening this coming week because press reports say that it is highly likely that SADC will finally accept that it has failed and finally hand the matter to the African Union? Do you see this happening?

PS: I don’t think SADC should hand the matter over to the African Union. SADC should tell the Zimbabweans that they had better form a government that is going to function. If they don’t, SADC should then tell the leadership, tell Mugabe that ‘look if you people can’t agree don’t expect SADC to come and prop you up’. We love the people of Zimbabwe too much to allow a dictatorship. It is undemocratic; it’s as simple as that. If Mugabe and his compatriots don’t want to agree then SADC must tell them straight away that they are not going to get the support of SADC. The AU is not going to do anything because what can the AU do if SADC fails, if SADC doesn’t take a position? Can the AU take a position which can be implemented without SADC? Does it mean then that SADC will have to be forced by the AU to take a position? So SADC must take a position in the first place and then ask the AU to help implement that position.

VG: Some actually feel that it is going round and round and they say what can we expect from the African Union especially when those in SADC are the same people that are actually in the African Union? So seriously, will anything new come out of any of these two bodies?

PS: Unless SADC takes a stance and then the AU endorses that, I’m afraid I don’t think anything is going to come out of it. Don’t you think the same round and round story until everybody is dizzy and meantime the Zimbabweans are dying.

VG: What about (Thabo) Mbeki’s mediation efforts?

PS: I think the former president of South Africa tried his best. Whether his best was actually the best is debatable but I think he tried. He has not succeeded and probably it’s time to see if after Monday nothing comes, whether we should not have a different approach. Help Mbeki with somebody else who has stature, to add value.

VG: On that issue, I wanted to ask you, why does SADC continue to keep Mr Mbeki on as mediator especially when the MDC has repeatedly said he is not an honest broker?

PS: Well up to now you know there were expressions of dissatisfaction on both sides - although Zanu-PF did not express in the same way as the MDC. We felt that if both sides don’t appear to be too happy it must mean that Mbeki is doing something right but obviously we couldn’t tell the Zimbabweans not to have Mbeki as long as they felt he could broker a peace deal. But clearly if one of the parties felt that enough is enough then obviously SADC should think again. It’s no use to keep Mbeki there if in fact one of the parties has lost total faith. We can’t continue in that way. But I haven’t seen, I’ve only heard of the dissatisfaction of Morgan Tsvangirai and his party but I haven’t seen what he has said in writing which will then be public.

VG: Now you were mentioning earlier on that perhaps it will be time for someone else to take over, who do you think will be an honest broker in Zimbabwe or to deal with the Zimbabwe situation?

PS: That’s a tough one. I don’t want somebody totally new that’s why we have gone along with Mbeki mediating because he knows the problems. I think what we need, if it is possible, is to have somebody going in with Mbeki and not allowing Mbeki to be the only one. I think that was a mistake in reflection. In retrospect it probably would have been wiser if right from the meeting, the first meetings, Mbeki even as president, had been given some other people, either from the UN or the AU itself, to help him broker the peace. But of course, that is merely crying over spilt milk. We have to look forward and find somebody probably from the UN; there are people who have been sent actually to help Mbeki, except that they haven’t been active as far as I know.

VG: People continue to die in Zimbabwe while politicians continue to play these games and while SADC keeps on calling for these endless meetings. Now the Kenyan Prime Minister, Raila Odinga and also people like Bishop Desmond Tutu have actually called for military intervention. Do you see military action for humanitarian purposes as a reality?

PS: Well I’m always against military action. First we have to answer the question – who are we going to be fighting? We should be careful because if you go in and attack Zimbabwe you could get everybody being angry because they see themselves as a Republic being attacked. So we would have to be very careful who we are going in to fight. Military action should be really the last resort. We have said and I have personally said that if we deny Mugabe petrol so that his army cannot move around and brutalize people I’m sure his hold on Zimbabwe would collapse and would collapse within three weeks. All this suffering would be now a thing of the past. But everybody thought – ah we can’t do that. So I’m not totally in favour of the proposal by the Prime Minister of Kenya and the Reverend Tutu. I think we should be very careful - even if they can say who we are going to be attacking – are we going in to remove Mugabe as a person and what do you do with the rest of the people who support him? Do we have the ability? Do they know what is happening on the ground in Zimbabwe? It’s a huge and dangerous step. I would want one to explain to me because if you are going to go in and end up killing innocent people, I don’t think that is right, although innocent people as we speak are dying actually.

VG: On the other hand, if you do deny Robert Mugabe petrol as you’ve just said, is it really Mugabe who suffers, or is it the innocent masses?

PS: Well as far as petrol, the innocent masses now they need food. At the time we spoke about cutting him off petrol, there was no cholera. So inaction has brought in more complications. But I still believe that if you did that the people would probably suffer for another two weeks. It’s better that they do that than just to hang on aimlessly and endlessly and we’ll be talking the same thing when the winter sets in, in June. Whereas if you starve him and he can’t move until there is going to be a reaction from some of the armed forces and Mugabe would know that. I’m sure he will come to the table.

VG: Now let’s move on to this other issue – the allegations of banditry activities in Zimbabwe and your country has actually been accused of training ‘Zimbabwean bandits’ to overthrow the Mugabe regime. What can you say about that?

PS: Well as you know, the accusation is ridiculous. I think Mugabe and his cohorts know very well that it is a lie, that we are not training anybody. If we were training anybody they would have long come - at our invitation - to point out where we are training these people. To parade the people who have been trained. You can’t train 250 people and they just disappear into thin air. It is not possible, it is a lie. It is a figment or as I suspect, it’s a diversion. He wants everybody to be thinking about Botswana being very bad towards its neighbour so that we don’t talk anymore and concentrate on the bad things he is doing. He is using his usual diversion tactics.

VG: But the regime says it actually has footage showing the Zimbabwe individuals and has actually shown this video to SADC. Have you seen this and if so, what is the nature of the videos?

PS: (chuckles) it’s silly. You can get a video of me sitting in a small little room, small little box, and what does that tell you? My suspicion is that those are probably Zanu-PF, either CIO or supporters masquerading as having been trained, because one of the things he should be able to do is to allow those people to come to SADC and give evidence. They’ve not been able to do that. Anybody could concoct that kind of story. And anyway, we were never allowed to even question those people, not even in Zimbabwe. So if they’re confessing - as alleged - why can’t everybody else see them confessing? Why are we being shown pictures where you can’t tell where the question, accept we are sure that person is in prison? What would you do if you are put in prison and you’ve been tortured sufficiently and you think your survival is in telling a lie so that you don’t disappear? That’s what we think is happening.

VG: So what response have you made to SADC about this?

PS: Now we have submitted our position to SADC. We are waiting for SADC to call us to formally present our case and to be allowed if necessary to question those Zimbabweans who, it is very unlikely that they will be free to speak the truth. We are waiting for SADC; we have given them our written reaction and we hope we’ll be given the opportunity to present that report and elaborate so that the matter can be put to rest. I don’t think any sane person can believe the allegations.

VG: Scores of civic and political activists are actually in prison right now on these terrorism charges, but how come SADC hasn’t really pushed for the release of these civil and political activists who have said in court that they were actually tortured to make these submissions?

PS: That is one of our problems at SADC that we react after such a long time, after things have gone totally wrong, after people have died, because everybody seems to be giving Mugabe and his people some credit which I don’t know understand why and on what basis. In SADC as I have said – and I don’t expect them to make any demands on Mugabe because they think he having been a liberation hero must continue to be respected as a liberation hero when now he is no longer performing as a hero but a total despot.

VG: Mr Skelemani, Zanu-PF and other critics actually accuse you of supporting the MDC and say you have been sheltering Mr Morgan Tsvangirai, what can you say about that?

PS: Well that’s another silly allegation. We’ve not been sheltering Tsvangirai not more than we would shelter Mugabe himself if he ever felt insecure and crossed the border into Botswana. He would be surprised; we would give him the same treatment. We are not going to throw him into jail, nor are we going to throw him back to Zimbabwe if he feels uncomfortable. We simply don’t do that. And as it happens, Tsvangirai went back, didn’t he? So what kind of sheltering was this? Are we supposed to have thrown him away when he came and we thought for his own safety and for a better approach to the Zimbabwe position he should remain and consult outside? He’s been consulting other people not just Botswana and the other countries haven’t thrown him out. So why are we being accused of harbouring him when we have done nothing other than being civil.

VG: I was going to ask that, what is the nature of your relationship with Mr. Tsvangirai?

PS: Our relationship with Tsvangirai and MDC is the same as our relationship with Mugabe and Zanu-PF. They are both Zimbabweans, we want to help both of them to resolve the impasse in Zimbabwe. We don’t take sides. If our view is regarded as taking sides then we are very sorry but we are not going to apologise! Right things are right whether people think we are supporting so and so or not supporting so and so. We can’t give in just because people think that what we consider right seems to tally with what the MDC maybe demanding. That’s the nature of things. Tsvangirai is not our blue-eyed boy; he is not our favourite any more than Mugabe is.

VG: Is it true that the summit on Monday will be held in South Africa because Mugabe refused to hold it in Botswana - which is the home of the SADC Secretariat?

PS: That part I don’t know, I don’t know whether he refused. What I do know is that by the time we were told that the summit will be held it was too late for Botswana to arrange. As you might be aware, in Gaborone where we would normally hold such a summit we have very few beds. Even if it’s a one day affair, the Heads of State should be given rooms where they can refresh before they go into a meeting and we couldn’t find - we would not have been able to find enough hotel rooms to accommodate the Presidents. We have nothing against Mugabe personally but his politics. But if he doesn’t want to come to Botswana, well that is his problem. He is the one who has the problem not Botswana. Botswana doesn’t have a problem with him coming and negotiating with his compatriots in Botswana. We are open.

VG: With the kind of accusations that are coming from Zimbabwe, from the Mugabe regime, some will ask how do you maintain diplomatic relations with a country that is spoiling for a fight?

PS: All the more reason why we should maintain diplomatic relations. We want lines of communications to remain open so that if the need be, we can communicate. We are not on strike against Zimbabwe. We know that somebody, whether we like it or not, actually is in physical control and really to cut your nose to spite your face is silly. We don’t want to do that. Our relations are with Zimbabwe, not Mugabe.

VG: But what you said earlier on about the sort of pressure that you would support, you mentioned denying Mugabe petrol, now some people would say wouldn’t it also increase pressure if Botswana was prepared to cut diplomatic ties with the Mugabe regime or even recall your Ambassador in protest?

PS: Right - you assume that Mugabe is a reasonable person. That his attitude towards what is happening is that of an ordinary person? He is not. You can imagine - if we closed our embassy, what does he lose? Nothing! But what we then lose ourselves is that we would not be able to learn on a daily basis what is happening in Zimbabwe. We will have denied ourselves the opportunity to communicate when it is necessary and I think that is not a line that should be taken lightly.

This business of recalling Ambassadors, you do it with a country that has some respect for law and order. I don’t think Mugabe and Zanu-PF are in that group. Not at the moment, no. Remember recently, we had to use these lines of communication to send help to Zimbabwe, to ask them what medications they needed, and what purification agents did they need for the water to fight the cholera. If we had recalled and chased away the Zimbabwean ambassador we would not have been able to do that. Because we have kept the lines of communication open, we have been able to do that and we have sent help to Zimbabwe.

VG: Right, and on the issue of the humanitarian crisis, what has been the impact of this on Botswana?

PS: Well it’s continuing it’s terrible. More and more Zimbabweans are coming over. They of course are hungry people and you can’t chase them away. Our responsibility is increasing. We have to look after those who have crossed our borders to see whether they are genuine refugees or pretenders. It’s a situation we’d rather not have, but what can we do? We can’t chase away people who are running, who we know are running because there is great suffering in their own country. We just have to ask the international community to help us however the community can.

VG: How long do you think you as Botswana will be able to contain this humanitarian crisis without a solution in sight, the humanitarian crisis that is spreading to your country?

PS: I don’t know frankly how long we can maintain the position but there is no alternative. We can’t go and cut the border because the people will cross any area when they can, and so as I say, we can only hope that the international community will come and help us to help the Zimbabweans who have crossed into Botswana, who keep on crossing into Botswana. And I hope that the international community is geared to do that as a long haul.

VG: Many human rights organisations have actually described what is happening in Zimbabwe as genocide and even the Physicians for Human Rights last week issued a report saying that Mugabe has become a global threat. What are your thoughts on that? Is what’s happening in Zimbabwe, can it be considered genocide?

PS: I’m afraid I can’t disagree with that description. Unless somebody told me genocide means taking a gun and actually shooting the person. But if you starve people to death deliberately because you are putting in place programmes which don’t work or you are doing nothing to prevent people from dying unnecessarily, I think some people would describe it as genocide. But you know it’s genocide against all Zimbabweans, it’s a crazy situation.

VG: Minister Skelemani, President Barack Obama took a shot at despotic leaders. He said people who starve their own people and worry about their own legacy and that America would not tolerate any of this. Do you see a new role for the Obama administration in actually helping to resolve the Zimbabwe crisis?

PS: Yes I think if America brings her weight to bear on this issue we could move a step further, we could move closer to a resolution and I hope that America is going to do exactly that. You need somebody to be brave. Somebody with muscle and America I think has the muscle. If only SADC would also cry out for help and not pretend that SADC is able to do anything, then I am sure that President Obama would be able to act and help us help Zimbabwe.

VG: How would you respond to people who say why is it people like yourself and other upcoming African leaders, like Prime Minister Raila Odinga, who are pro-democratic, why do you still want to stick to these old and archaic institutions like SADC, like the African Union and people ask why can’t you form parallel structures that are based on good governance and democracy?

PS: Well the question will be asked as to whether when you do that, you still remain democratic. It’s not an easy thing. I don’t think you can just dismantle SADC because the present generation of leadership seems to be in favour of a leader who has lost credibility. I think you must understand that SADC is not just made up of the present leadership, the present leadership will come to pass and we still hope that, you know, good men and women will see sense and tell the Zimbabwean leadership to stop playing games when people are dying. It’s not the institutions as such. Those who are in the position of influence right now, who probably, should be ‘told it’s time they went, it’s time they go’. That is why we say that if we examine and found out why is Mugabe holding on to power and dealt with that issue, then we would have Mugabe out of the question and Zimbabwe would be a (inaudible) member of SADC, as it is as a republic except it has no leadership that is recognised in terms of civilised rules.

VG: Zimbabweans who are frustrated with these endless talks are actually calling on the MDC to pull out of the talks and also because Mugabe is not negotiating in good faith. What are your thoughts on that?

PS: Well the MDC should be the judge of when and whether to pull out. It can’t be Botswana. Botswana doesn’t have the mandate of the Zimbabweans. We leave that to the MDC to decide. If they think that the end of the road I’m sure they will say so and they will withdraw and we’ll respect their decision but we can’t be the ones to tell them to withdraw. I think that would be going too far.

VG: And a final word Mr Skelemani?

PS: The final word really is a wish - that for once can SADC please stand up. Stand up and ensure the implementation of the spirit of SADC, the spirit of the AU and the UN and stop the carnage, the genocide as people say, in Zimbabwe. By speaking out they need not say or do anything except speak out firmly, tell the Zimbabwean leadership, tell Mugabe that if they continue like they are doing then SADC is not going to support him in any way. I think they should come out loud and clear and demand that fresh elections, presidential elections should be held in Zimbabwe because that would end this nonsense!

Violet Gonda: Thank you very much Mr Phandu Skelemani.

Phandu Skelemani: Thank you


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Mugabe, Tsvangirai held secret meeting

http://www.mg.co.za

HARARE, ZIMBABWE Jan 26 2009 13:21

Zanu-PF leader Robert Mugabe last week acceded to a secret meeting with his
rival, pro-democracy leader Morgan Tsvangirai, Zimbabwe state media reported
on Monday as Southern African leaders were about to meet on the Zimbabwean
crisis.

The Herald, controlled by Mugabe's Zanu-PF party, said the meeting took
place at Tsvangirai's request, and was held on Thursday at Zimbabwe House,
one of Mugabe's official residences in central Harare.

It said Mugabe appealed to Tsvangirai to be sworn in immediately as prime
minister in terms of the stalled power-sharing agreement between the two
rivals.

The newspaper said Mugabe told Tsvangirai that he should "accompany him
[Mugabe] over the road to State House", the government's ceremonial and
diplomatic reception residence that lies opposite Zimbabwe House, "to be
sworn in as prime minister". Tsvangirai rejected the plea, the Herald said.

The power-sharing agreement, signed on September 15, proposes Mugabe as
president and Tsvangirai as prime minister.

The disclosure came as a summit of regional leaders on the stalemate in the
implementation of the agreement, was about to convene in Pretoria, South
Africa.

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) is meeting to try to bring
Mugabe and Tsvangirai, head of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), the
winner of national elections in March last year, to make concessions on
their opposing positions that would allow the proposed joint "government of
national unity" to start working.

Until now, Mugabe's spokespeople have bluntly denied that Mugabe would agree
to Tsvangirai's request for a tête-à-tête to break the deadlock, following a
failed SADC mediation attempt in Harare on Monday last week.

Mugabe's officials have said such a meeting would serve no useful purpose.
Observers say Mugabe's accession, and his appeal to Tsvangirai to be sworn
in there and then, is an indication of Mugabe's urgency for Tsvangirai to
agree to implement the power-sharing deal.

Tsvangirai has refused to be sworn in until Mugabe agrees to share Cabinet
and government positions equitably, and to release dozens of MDC and civic
rights activists arrested and tortured by Mugabe's secret police since
October last year. Mugabe has dismissed the demands.

Observers say that Mugabe's accession to talks underline his awareness that
he needs Tsvangirai's presence to lend legitimacy in the proposed new
transitional government, and is an apparent acknowledgement by the
84-year-old despot that he cannot go ahead unilaterally.

MDC officials were not available to comment on the meeting.

However, a minister in the Zimbabwean government said Mugabe would form a
government after Monday's SADC summit with or without a deal with
Tsvangirai.

"This summit is the last summit that is going to discuss this issue of an
inclusive government. If it does not work today, definitely when the
president comes back here, he has to form a new government with or without
Morgan Tsvangirai," Deputy Information Minister Bright Matonga said.

"The way forward, soon after this summit whether there is an agreement or
there is no agreement, President Mugabe is going to form a Cabinet, 15
Cabinet ministers, eight deputy ministers of Zanu-PF," he said in an
interview on public broadcaster SAfm.

"He will obviously try to leave room for Tsvangirai so that whenever he
changes his mind ... but that is not going to be for too long. He will then
come to join the all-inclusive government. There has to be a government
whether there is MDC or not," he said.

Zim police stop opposition rally
Meanwhile, on Sunday Zimbabwean police called off an opposition rally in
Harare, prompting accusations of political interference on the eve of the
SADC summit.

Opposition spokesperson Nelson Chamisa said leaders of the MDC had organised
the rally to update members on their position headed into the talks taking
place on Monday.

In an interview on Sunday, chief opposition spokesperson Tendai Biti said
the banning of Sunday's rally was evidence that Zanu-PF held his party in
"total contempt". Biti, in South Africa for Monday's talks, said Zanu-PF's
attitude left little reason to hope the summit would produce a breakthrough.

The Mugabe government's position was laid out on Sunday in an editorial in
the state-owned Mail newspaper, which accused the opposition of being
"intransigent".

Human rights activists say Mugabe's government has stepped up its crackdown
on free speech and dissent in recent weeks.

But a police spokesperson says Sunday's rally was banned because of the
danger of violence among opposition factions.

Chamisa dismissed that as "ridiculous" and said police were acting on
Zanu-PF orders. "I don't know where the excuses they are giving are coming
from," he said.

The Zimbabwean Mail editorial on Sunday accused the opposition of trying "to
see to it that the September [unity government] accord does not see the
light of day without them openly pulling out of the accord".

Biti said the opposition was prepared to compromise, but had already given
up significant ground -- including accepting that Tsvangirai would not be
president. He repeated opposition calls on Mugabe's fellow African leaders
to deal with him more decisively.

EU tightens sanctions
On Monday the European Union tightened sanctions on Mugabe's government over
growing frustration about human rights abuses and the political situation,
EU diplomats said.

EU foreign ministers, meeting in Brussels, made the decision to add 26
Zimbabwean officials and 36 companies to the EU's visa and assets freeze
blacklist to pressure Mugabe to share power with Zimbabwe's opposition. The
additions raise the number of blacklisted Zimbabwean people and companies to
203. For the first time European-based firms are included.

The EU introduced sanctions against Mugabe's regime in 2002 to protest the
country's poor human rights record and lack of democratic reforms.
Blacklisted officials are barred from travelling to EU countries, and
blacklisted companies cannot do business in the 27-nation bloc.

Entering the talks, British Foreign Minister David Miliband said the EU
remained "resolute" in supporting the Zimbabwean people's "call for
change". -- Sapa-DPA-AP


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Zimbabweans Anxious About Their Future as Summit Convenes in South Africa

http://www.voanews.com

     

      By Peta Thornycroft
      Harare
      26 January 2009

On the eve of a Southern African Development Community (SADC) summit in
South Africa, President Robert Mugabe banned a first Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC)party rally Sunday. Many people in the streets around the
capital city, mostly MDC supporters, hope that their leader Morgan
Tsvangirai will be able to join a unity government.

Many people in the dormitory town Chitungwisa, on the southern edge of
Harare, did not know the MDC rally had been planned for Sunday. Their leader
Morgan Tsvangirai had already left for South Africa to attend the SADC
summit on the Zimbabwe crisis.

The summit will decide, one way or another, whether an inclusive government
is possible. Mr Tsvangirai says there are still outstanding matters.

However many people are anxious for him to join the government, for a
variety of reasons.

A 45-year-old small street shop owner in Chitungwisa did not know a rally
had been planned, nor that it was banned but he still wants Mr Tsvangirai to
join the government.

"He should sign, yes, becasue it will be to his advantage," said the
shopkeeper. "He will be incorporated in the new government rather than
remaining a mere opposition leader. It will be a new horizon for the people
of Zimabwbe.

He said many people were tired of the political tension whch has continued
for the last eight years between the Zanu PF party of President Robert
Mugabe and the MDC, led by Mr. Tsvangirai.

"It will reduce political tension between Zanu PF and MDC because Tsvangirai
will become the prime minister and obviously the prime minister is a
respected person and the president is a respected person and the other
people in cabinet are aslo respected people so it will reduce tension," he
said.

A 38-year-old nurse and mother agreed. She is worried about schools opening
Tuesday. The opening was delayed by two weeks because the state could not
get last year's examination results marked.

"Yes I think he should definitely sign," she said. "Because the talks have
waited long enough and we need the two parties to agree so that the country
can move forward. I think forming the government would speed up the
education sector because schools are about to be oepened and I think he
should go on and sign and get into government."

She said many people feared that if there was no inclusive government Mr
Mugabe would form his own, and then call elections. The MDC has a one seat
parliamentary majority but Mr Tsvangirai beat Mr Mugabe in the first round
of the election last March, but dropped out of the run-off citing violence
against his supporters which left more than 150 dead.

She said if the MDC had to face fresh elections, this would cause people
problems.

"That is quite tricky considering that we have people's lives at stake
because there was a lot of battering last year in June and the climate has
not yet recovered so I think it will take a couple of years," said the
nurse.

However a 70-year-old retired headmaster, now living in Chitungwisa believes
Mr Tsvangirai is not being offered enough power in an inlcusive government
and should stay out until he has equal power with Mr Mugabe.

"I don't think that Mr Morgan Tsvangirai should sign unless the opposite
side agrees to his demands because sharing you have to share equally," said
the headmaster.

He said even though the power sharing negotiations, which followed a
political agreement last September, had gone on for a long time and that
people's expectations are high, Mr Tsvangirai should not accept second best.

"High time or no high time this is a deal which calls for equal sharing," he
said. "How can he join when one does it on his own and he is being taken
like a passenger in the train which doesn't make sense? That's the way I see
it."

On several commuter buses around the city all passengers from various walks
of life condemened Mr Mugabe's rule which they say had ruined their lives.

None could say what the MDC could or should do if it didn't join an
inclusive government.

Zimabwe political scientist Eldred Masunungure said last Friday that Mr
Tsvangirai had no choice but to join the inclusive government as the MDC did
not have an alternative strategy.

Cholera deaths are now almost 3,000, close to an African record, with more
than 50,000 infected.

Most parents say they expect teachers will not turn up for school Tuesday
becase they do not have enough money from their salary, still paid in
Zimbabwe dollars, to get to work.


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Zimbabweans have little hope for unity talks

http://www.swradioafrica.com

By Tichaona Sibanda
26 January 2009

As the SADC summit to resolve the deadlock of forming an inclusive
government got underway in Pretoria on Monday, many Zimbabweans were
wondering just how long it was going to take before regional leaders do
something about the crisis.
The process to form an inclusive government has been limping along for
nearly four months. The talks have been plagued throughout by mistrust,
threats and most importantly, Robert Mugabe's intransigence. For instance
police called off an MDC rally in Chitungwiza on Sunday, showing clear
political interference on the eve of this crucial regional summit.
MDC Secretary-General Tendai Biti described the ban as evidence that ZANU PF
held his party in 'total contempt.' He said ZANU PF's attitude left little
reason to hope the summit would produce a breakthrough.
Mugabe has facilitated a culture of fear and hate among Zimbabweans. But as
leader of ZANU PF for 35 years he has successfully convinced his followers
of his indestructibility and it has become impossible for his cronies to
imagine Zimbabwe without him. It is also impossible to imagine Zimbabwe at
peace with Mugabe still head of state.

The people of Zimbabwe have suffered a decade of economic collapse and
political repression under Mugabe. The country suffers from an 80 percent
unemployment rate and an inflation rated that is the highest in the world.

Once Africa's second most prosperous and developed country after South
Africa, it is now in the closing stages of economic collapse, with millions
of migrants pouring into neighbouring states and a cholera epidemic that has
also crossed the border with the migrants.

At the root of the country's problems is a corrupt political elite that has,
with considerable regional support, behaved with utter impunity for over a
decade. This elite is determined to hang on to power no matter what the
consequences, lest it be held to account for the genocide in Matabeleland in
the early 1980s and the wholesale looting of the country that followed the
violent 'land reform' that has continued since 2000.

Political analyst Isaac Dziya says the crisis has dragged on because of the
pride and intransigence of Mugabe. He said Mugabe's demise'could remove the
principal stumbling block to dialogue between ZANU PF and the MDC'.

He added: 'You will be surprised the solution to the crisis will be found
quickly if Mugabe was not part of the equation. Lack of trust between him
(Mugabe) and Morgan Tsvangirai has been a fundamental sticking point along
the road to peace.'

The summit in Pretoria is supposed to find a solution to the political
impasse, but millions of Zimbabweans now view these meetings as useless
'talk shows.'

'I'm doubtful a solution will be found today. The mediator has been
employing the same strategy, to force the MDC into a forced marriage since
the crisis, so yes definitely I have my doubts,' said Bekithemba Sibanda, an
MDC activist in Johannesburg.

Another activist, Bernard Munduru, who spent the day protesting close to the
summit venue in Pretoria, said it would be a miracle if an agreement was
'ever' reached by both parties.

'I'm a very optimist person but as long as you have a discredited person
like Thabo Mbeki there, don't expect any miracle,' Munduru said.

An MDC MP told us the only new thing from this latest summit is that
Botswana President Ian Khama will have an opportunity to be face to face
with Mugabe and give him 'a piece of his mind.'

'This might make a difference with the other summits, but I will tell you
that people in my constituency have long lost trust in the SADC bloc,' the
MP said.

Most analysts are forecasting that this summit will again end in failure.
But they say impetus for progress may come from South Africa, which
currently holds the chairmanship of SADC. Pressure is growing for President
Kgalema Motlanthe to get tough with 84-year-old Mugabe, as leading voices in
South Africa accuse the regional body of being responsible for the
stalemate, and all the problems that continue.

Besides Presidents Motlanthe of South Africa and Khama of Botswana, others
who attended are Armando Guebuza of Mozambique, Rupia Banda of Zambia,
Hifikepunye Pohamba of Namibia, Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili of Lesotho
and Themba Dhlamini of Swaziland.

On Monday last week, the Presidents of South Africa and of Mozambique tried
to mediate between Mugabe and Tsvangirai, but the 12-hour meeting ended
'inconclusively.'

But if SADC fails to find a breakthrough African leaders have promised to
resolve the crisis once and for all, during the AU summit in Addis Ababa
later this week.

African Union Commission Chief Jean Ping said over the weekend that AU
leaders were committed to finding a solution to Zimbabwe's crises, and would
take definite steps during their meeting from the 1st to 3rd  February.

No one knows how the AU would persuade Mugabe to share power, when everyone
else has failed.


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EU tightens Zimbabwe sanctions, freezes firms' assets

http://www.eubusiness.com

26 January 2009, 19:13 CET
(BRUSSELS) - EU foreign ministers Monday tightened sanctions on President
Robert Mugabe's government in Zimbabwe, freezing the assets of companies
based in British tax havens for the first time.

Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg, whose country holds the rotating
EU presidency, said the ministers had stressed that "the current regime is
directly responsible for the suffering of the people in the cholera-hit
nation.

The ministers meeting in Brussels condemned in a statement "the ongoing
violations of human rights, in particular the abduction and detention of
those exercising a democratic right to express opposition to the regime and
of those defending human rights."

The European Union "views with particular distress the escalation of the
humanitarian crisis including the cholera epidemic," the statement said.

The epidemic has killed nearly 2,800 people and infected more than 50,000.

The ministers decided to add 26 more names of people close to the regime or
their families to a travel-ban list, bringing the number to 203.

The amount of companies whose assets in Europe must be frozen was increased
sharply from four to 40 and for the first time European-based firms are
included.

According to EU sources, all 18 of the European company names added are
based on British territory, including tax havens Jersey, the Isle of Man and
the British Virgin Islands, though the complete list was not to be published
until Tuesday.

British Foreign Secretary David Miliband told reporters that a number of the
companies cited "actually belong to one person or are actually one company."

However, sources said the enlarged EU blacklist now includes a number of
companies listed by the United States in November.

Among those is the Breco Group and several of its affiliates as well as
Corybantes, Echo Delta Holdings, Masters International, Piedmont, Scottlee,
Timpani Ltd and Tremalt.

According to the US treasury department, all the targetted companies are
linked to tycoon John Bredenkamp, whom it described as "a well-known Mugabe
insider involved in various business activities, including tobacco trading,
gray-market arms trading and trafficking, equity investments, oil
distribution, tourism, sports management, and diamond extraction."

The EU ministers voiced concern at "the growing trade in illicit diamonds
that provide financial support to the regime," condemning also "the violence
inflicted by state-sponsored forces on diamond panners and dealers."

Entering the talks, Miliband said the EU remained "resolute" in supporting
the Zimbabwean people's "call for change".

Zimbabwe has been in political limbo since elections last March, when
opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai won a first-round presidential vote and
his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) seized a parliamentary majority for
the first time.

The MDC victory was greeted with a wave of political attacks that Amnesty
International says left more than 180 people dead -- mostly opposition
supporters.

Citing the violence, Tsvangirai pulled out of a run-off election in June,
allowing 84-year-old Mugabe to claim a one-sided victory rejected by Western
powers.

Former South African president Thabo Mbeki brokered a power-sharing deal
signed in September, but the rivals have yet to agree on how to form a unity
government, while attacks and arrests of MDC members have continued.

Southern African leaders gathered in Pretoria Monday in a renewed bid to end
Zimbabwe's political crisis amid a fresh threat by Mugabe to form a
government without arch rival Tsvangirai.

General Affairs and External Relations Council (GAERC)


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Zimbabwean tycoon faces EU crackdown

http://www.ft.com

By Tom Burgis in Johannesburg and Tony Barber in Brussels

Published: January 26 2009 19:18 | Last updated: January 26 2009 19:18

The European Union is to order a freeze on Tuesday on the assets of
companies controlled by John Bredenkamp, the Zimbabwean tycoon accused by
the US of helping to prop up Robert Mugabe's regime.

Several European officials and diplomats told the Financial Times that
Bredenkamp companies would be among the 36 added to a list of businesses
subject to sanctions. It was unclear, however, whether the Zimbabwean's name
will appear on the list of individuals facing sanctions - which would mean a
travel ban as well as an asset freeze.

EDITOR'S CHOICE
Zimbabwe power sharing talks to resume - Jan-25
Impasse over Zimbabwe unity regime deepens - Jan-20
Mugabe in unity talks threat - Jan-18
Tsvangirai to return to Zimbabwe - Jan-16
Zimbabwe security forces on 'high alert' - Jan-12
Western calls have little impact on Zimbabwe - Dec-22
The decision is a blow to Mr Bredenkamp, who was ranked as one of the
richest men in the UK in 2002 with an estimated fortune of £720m. He has
made the UK his home and has based a number of his businesses there.

Although he has no interests in the US, late last year the Treasury placed
several companies controlled by Mr Bredenkamp, including those that form
parts of Breco, his Harare-based private equity group, on its sanctions
list.

An associate, who asked not to be named, said the EU sanctions "will throw
up a lot of questions and a lot of problems" for Mr Bredenkamp, whose
lawyers are working on an appeal against the US decision.

In a letter to the Financial Times last year Mr Bredenkamp denied any links
to the Mugabe regime, saying that he had not met the president for more than
20 years.

The UK Home Office declined to comment on whether his status would be
affected by the EU move. Mr Bredenkamp is currently in southern Africa.

Foreign ministers from the 27-member bloc meeting in Brussels on Monday
resolved to place on the sanctions list "additional persons and entities
that are actively associated with the violence or human rights infringements
of the regime".

The latest additions, which come into force on Tuesday, include 18 UK-based
companies, marking the first time that European groups have been punished
for their dealings with President Mugabe's government.

The EU ministers also sought an investigation into illicit diamond sales in
Zimbabwe, which they said supported the regime.

The Europeans place the blame for the political paralysis in Zimbabwe and
its increasingly serious economic and humanitarian crisis squarely on Mr
Mugabe and his allies.

On Monday, the octogenarian president attended a summit of regional leaders
to discuss the political stalemate in the country and the prospects for a
power-sharing deal.

Amid increasing violence against his opponents, Mr Mugabe has clung to power
since he was defeated by Morgan Tsvangirai, the opposition leader, in
presidential elections in March. While the pair remain deadlocked on how to
share power, the economy's implosion accelerates, alongside a cholera
epidemic that has claimed more than 2,000 lives.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2009


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FACTBOX - Sanctions on Zimbabwe

http://uk.reuters.com

Mon Jan 26, 2009 10:50am GMT

(Reuters) - The European Union added individuals and firms to a sanctions
list on Zimbabwe on Monday and called for a probe into Harare's diamond
industry.

Below are details of sanctions and restrictions in place against Zimbabwe.

* VISA BANS AND ASSET FREEZES:

-- The United States first imposed sanctions in March 2003 and later widened
them to apply to about 250 people accused of undermining democracy. The U.S.
sanctions also bar Americans from engaging in any transactions or dealings
with them. -- In July, the Treasury Department said it would seek to freeze
assets of 17 Zimbabwean enterprises. The United States also threatened in
September to impose new sanctions against President Robert Mugabe if he
reneged on a power-sharing deal.

-- The European Union imposed a visa ban on Mugabe and 19 top officials in
2002 because of Zimbabwe's treatment of observers sent to monitor
presidential elections.

-- The number was later expanded and last month, the EU added 11 more names
to the list of 160 Zimbabweans, including Mugabe, who are banned from
visiting the bloc.

-- On Monday, the EU added a further 27 individuals and 36 companies to the
list of banned allies of Mugabe because of their links to suspected human
rights abuses, EU officials said.

-- The sanctions list now includes for the first time companies registered
in the EU, including in Britain, diplomats have said, without naming the
firms.

-- Australia said in December it would impose financial and visa
restrictions on four extra companies and 75 more people who are known
supporters of Mugabe's government. The move means 258 Mugabe supporters face
bans on travel to or through Australia, and restrictions on financial
transactions involving Australia.

* ARMS EMBARGOES:

-- The United States has a ban on transfers of defence items and services,
and a suspension of non-humanitarian government-to-government assistance.

-- The European Union has an embargo on the sale and supply of arms and
technical advice and of equipment which could be used for internal
repression in Zimbabwe.

-- The embargo also prohibits technical and financial assistance related to
military activities.

-- In September, Canada banned arms exports, freezing the assets of top
Zimbabwean officials and banning its aircraft from flying over or landing in
Canada.

* DIPLOMATIC ISOLATION:

-- The Commonwealth group of mainly former British colonies suspended
Zimbabwe in early 2002 on the grounds that Mugabe had rigged his re-election
and persecuted his opponents. Zimbabwe formally withdrew from the 54-nation
group in 2003 after the suspension was extended indefinitely.

-- The International Monetary Fund suspended technical assistance to
Zimbabwe in 2002 over its failure to clear arrears and address its dire
economic and social crisis.

-- It has averted expulsion by making small payments towards clearing
arrears.

-- Britain's Queen Elizabeth has stripped Mugabe of an honorary knighthood
awarded in 1994.

* SPORT:

-- A 2007 cricket tour of Zimbabwe by Australia was cancelled on the orders
of Australia's government.

-- Cricket South Africa, which had been one of Zimbabwe's strongest backers,
suspended domestic agreements with the Zimbabwe Cricket Union last June.

-- Days later, the England and Wales Cricket Board cancelled Zimbabwe's 2009
tour of England under instructions from the British government. The ECB said
it had suspended all bilateral arrangements with Zimbabwe Cricket.

-- The International Cricket Council said on July 4 that Zimbabwe had agreed
to skip the 2009 World Twenty20 in England to end a deadlock over demands
that the African nation be suspended.

Sources: Reuters/EU//www.state.gov


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Cholera crisis expected to worsen as Red Cross pull-out feared

http://www.swradioafrica.com

By Alex Bell
26 January 2009

The International Red Cross has warned it could be forced to suspend its
cholera-relief activities in the coming weeks, because of a critical lack of
funding - a move that will likely see thousands more Zimbabweans at risk of
the deadly epidemic.

The official death toll in the country is fast approaching the 3000 mark and
relief efforts from charity groups such as the Red Cross and Doctors without
Borders have been critical in trying to contain the disease. Red Cross
volunteers have been helping communities by providing clean water,
sanitation, treatment facilities and by running cholera awareness campaigns.
Workers have also been in action trying to restore water treatment sites in
city centres to allow clean water to once again flow, a move that is key to
fighting the cholera spread.

But despite such efforts, the cholera crisis is still expected to get worse
and the infection rate, that has officially reached more than 50 000 cases,
is unlikely to slow down. Medical experts working on the ground in Zimbabwe
have already voiced fears that the number of cases will rise far beyond the
'worst case scenario' of 60 000 cases, predicted earlier this year. Such
fears are likely to be realised with the cessation of relief efforts by the
Red Cross, whose cholera appeal is 60% under funded.

Matthew Cochrane from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red
Crescent Societies explained on Monday that the cholera appeal launched in
December had only generated 40% of the US$9 million needed to fight the
disease. Cochrane emphasised that there was only enough funding left to
continue efforts for the next four weeks and described the situation as
'dire'.

Head of the appeal and the Red Cross disaster management co-ordinator, Farid
Abdulkadir, on Monday echoed Cochrane's concerns saying the situation calls
for 'desperate measures'. He explained that Red Cross teams in Zimbabwe had
already reached 50% of the organisation's target of 1.5 million people at
risk of cholera. But he expressed fears about what will happen if the Red
Cross is forced to suspend it's efforts in the coming weeks.

"The people we've already been able to reach will on some levels be
protected," Abdulkadir said. "But if we run out of funds it will
dramatically reduce the number we could have reached before this disease
peaks."


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Cholera in Zimbabwe - latest figures up until 25 January 2009

http://www.sokwanele.com/thisiszimbabwe/
 

January 26th, 2009

Graph showing cholera cases in Zimbabwe

This graph (click to enlarge), based on data circulated  by the World Health Organisation (WHO), shows cholera cases and deaths up until 25 January 2009. The increases in both are climbing daily.

For example, on the 23 January, 1368 new cases were added and 59 deaths were recorded. A day later, on the 24th, a further 1906 cases of cholera were added along with 21 more deaths.  On the 25th, 655 new cases were added with an additional 26 deaths. Far from improving, the cholera crisis is still spreading and growing.

On the 25th, a cumulative 53,306 cases of cholera in Zimbabwe had been recorded, resulting in 2872 deaths.

Most alarming, this graph and the data it reflects, is likely to underestimate the real scale of the crisis in that it will not include those people who died before they were able to access medical care.


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Worst-case cholera scenario getting worse


Photo: WHO/Paul Garwood
Treating cholera
JOHANNESBURG , 26 January 2009 (IRIN) - Zimbabwe's worst-case cholera scenario, as predicted by the World Health Organisation, is likely to be surpassed within a few weeks and there are still about two months of the rainy season left.

In December 2008 the WHO said cholera cases could balloon to 60,000 before the rainy season ended in March 2009, but Gregory Härtl, spokesman for the organisation's Epidemic and Pandemic Alert and Response office in Geneva, told IRIN that as of 25 January, 53,306 cholera cases and 2,872 deaths had been recorded since the outbreak began in August 2008.

Cholera, an easily treatable waterborne disease, thrives in poor sanitary conditions and is expected to remain a feature until Zimbabwe's rainy season subsides.

The Herald, a state-owned daily newspaper, trumpeted in its 26 January edition that cholera was on the "retreat" in the capital, Harare, but cautioned that "Cholera is still present in the city, especially the southwestern suburbs, and any relaxation in our guard and our efforts will see the caseload explode."

However, Härtl said the conditions causing Zimbabwe's cholera outbreak remained in place. "The systemic underinvestment in water and sanitation infrastructure and the health system ... These conditions will not change overnight."

Zimbabwe's cholera death toll has now exceeded the number of people who have died from the disease in the entire African continent over several years: in 2001 (2,590 deaths), 2003 (1,884), 2004 (2,331) and 2005 (2,230), according to the WHO. Figures for 2006, 2007 and 2008 were not available.

Africa had 4,610 cholera deaths in 2000, and 4,551 in 2002.

Cholera spills in to the region

The disease has also spread to neighbouring countries. South Africa's Health Minister, Barbara Hogan, told a local television station that the country's cholera outbreak was a consequence of the spread of the disease from neighbouring Zimbabwe.

''Trans-border infections have been recorded and cholera is becoming endemic (recurrent throughout the year) in most affected countries''
According to local media reports, between 15 November and 24 January, 5,696 cases were diagnosed in South Africa and 36 people died.

The South African National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) notes on its website that the disease strain in both South Africa and Zimbabwe is Vibrio cholerae O1 serotype Ogawa biotype El Tor.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in its regional update on 23 January 2009 that nine countries in the Southern Africa region were reporting cholera cases: Angola, Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

"Trans-border infections have been recorded and cholera is becoming endemic (recurrent throughout the year) in most of the affected countries," OCHA said.


[ENDS]

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]


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50 days in captivity for Zimbabwean human rights defender

26 Jan 2009 16:17:00 GMT
 
220999 logo
Jestina Mukoko, leading Human Rights campaigner in Zimbabwe in detention since early December
Jestina Mukoko, leading Human Rights campaigner in Zimbabwe in detention since early December
Trocaire
Jestina Mukoko, a Trocaire partner and leading Zimbabwean human rights defender, was abducted from her home in Harare, Zimbabwe on December 3.

Despite a High Court judge ruling that she and her two colleagues, who were also abducted around the same time, should be freed and transferred immediately to hospital to receive medical attention, they remain imprisoned.

Ms. Mukoko has now been in captivity for over fifty days in Chikurubi maximum security prison, notorious for overcrowding, filth and disease.

Jestina testified in court on Thursday 15th January for the first time since authorities seized her. During her appearance, she told of how she was forced to kneel on gravel for hours on end. She was also beaten on the soles of her feet with rubber truncheons during interrogations.

Jestina wept on the stand in a Harare courtroom as she recounted her ordeal.

"I was abducted, kidnapped, tortured and assaulted," she said. "The experience was frightening. I would not wish it upon anyone." Her lawyers, from the organization Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights - another Trocaire partner organisation - are working around the clock to have her released and to get her access to medical attention.

"The fight to have Jestina released is a constant uphill battle," said Justin Kilcullen, Director of Tr?caire. "A number of judges have already refused to hear her case citing technicalities and have forced her lawyers to resubmit papers through very cumbersome procedures. All of this just ensures that Jestina and her colleagues continue to remain in detention in appalling conditions."

Jestina 's case has been referred to the Supreme Court by the magistrate's court at her lawyers' request, as they are arguing that the State cannot prosecute her until the numerous infringements of her constitutional rights have been properly redressed - unlawful deprivation of liberty, torture and inhuman and degrading treatment while detained, denial of pre-trial rights [no reason given for arrest, no access to lawyers or relatives], denial of protection of the law [the report of her abduction not investigated by police, and her abductors not prosecuted].

As this is a constitutional case, it will be heard by five Supreme Court judges. The hearing will be open to the public, but the date has still not been fixed although the Chief Justice has already ruled the case is urgent.

Mukoko's lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa said she hoped the Supreme Court will treat the matter as urgent."We do hope the constitutional court will hear the matter urgently because she actually is in custody and that she continues to be denied access to medical facilities," said Mtetwa.

Tr?caire is urgently seeking the support of the public to secure the release of Jestina and her collegues.

"We are asking people to contact their TD or MP to insist that the Irish and British governments put pressure on the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the African Union (AU) to speak out against the actions of the Zimbabwean government and to demand the release of Jestina and her colleagues," said Mr Kilcullen.

We also urge supporters to take our online action at trocaire.org/takeaction."

He continued, "Jestina, our friend and partner, has become a symbol of a suffering nation, a nation imprisoned by a devastating lack of responsible leadership over the past decade."

"This seems set to continue as on January 19 Robert Mugabe and the opposition failed yet again to reach agreement over power-sharing talks."


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Council Conclusions on Zimbabwe


Source: European Union (EU)

Date: 26 Jan 2009

2920th GENERAL AFFAIRS Council meeting - Brussels, 26 January 2009

The Council adopted the following conclusions:

"1. The situation in Zimbabwe has deteriorated in a manner that stands in
stark contrast to the duties and responsibilities of Governments, according
to global and regional standards and charters, not least the SADC principles
and charters. The victims of this misrule are the Zimbabwean people. The
Council condemns the regime for its ongoing failure to address the most
basic economic and social needs of its people.

2. The Council views with particular distress the escalation of the
humanitarian crisis including the cholera epidemic that has taken the lives
of so many Zimbabweans and that threatens the health security of the
neighbouring countries and of the region as a whole. The Council reiterates
its deep concern at the continued deterioration of economic and social
conditions in Zimbabwe.

3. The Council reaffirms the European Union's commitment to the Zimbabwean
people through a substantial and long-standing programme of humanitarian
aid. The Council demands full respect for the principles of humanitarian aid
and, in particular, respect for the principle of impartiality and equal
access to humanitarian aid for the entire Zimbabwean population. It
underlines the importance of a response by the international community to
the humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe and the urgent needs of the country.

4. The Council considers that only in the context of a durable, equitable,
political solution can the economic, social and humanitarian crisis in
Zimbabwe be fully addressed. It calls on SADC, the African Union and states
in the region to pave actively the way for a truly representative democratic
government reflecting the will of the Zimbabwean people expressed in the
election of March 2008. The Council urges stakeholders to comply with the
power sharing agreement. It condemns the ongoing violations of human rights,
in particula the abduction and detention of those exercising a democratic
right to express opposition to the regime and of those defending human
rights.

5. The Council has decided to extend, for another year, the Common Position
on restrictive measures against Zimbabwe. It has further decided to add to
its list of persons and entities subject to those measures additional
persons and entities that are actively associated with the violence or human
rights infringements of the regime.

6. The Council notes with concern the growing trade in illicit diamonds that
provide financial support to the regime. In this context, it also condemns
the violence inflicted by statesponsored forces on diamond panners and
dealers at Marange/Chiadzwa. The Council supports action to investigate the
exploitation of diamonds from the site at Marange/Chiadzwa and their
significance in possible financial support to the regime and recent human
rights abuses. It calls on the Kimberley Process to take action with a view
to ensure Zimbabwe's compliance with its Kimberley obligations.

7. The Council reaffirms that the European Union stands ready to support the
economic and social recovery of Zimbabwe once a government reflecting the
will of the Zimbabwean people has been formed and shows tangible signs of a
return to respect for human rights, the rule of law and macroeconomic
stabilization."


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China MP calls for Bona Mugabe's deportation

http://www.zimbabwemetro.com

Local News
January 26, 2009 | By Metro Staff Writer
Emily Lau, a Chinese Member of Parliament , on Sunday called for the
deportaion of Robert Mugabe's daughter Bona Mugabe at the University of Hong
Kong, and said her father's regime is "obnoxious".

Bona Mugabe, 20, enrolled under an alias at the University of Hong Kong in
the autumn.

Australia last year deported eight students whose parents were senior
members of the Mugabe regime, saying it wanted to prevent those involved in
human rights abuses giving their children education denied to ordinary
Zimbabweans. The United States and the European Union have imposed sanctions
on Mugabe's ruling clique, including asset freezes and travel bans.

Asked about Miss Mugabe's admission, a University of Hong Kong spokesman
said: "We believe that education should be above politics and young people
should not be denied the right to education because of their family
background or what their parents have done."

A university official, who asked not to be named, said most students were
unaware of the presence of Miss Mugabe, who has gone to Zimbabwe for the
Chinese New Year holiday.

When she returns to Hong Kong, the university would "keep a watchful eye
more from a student life perspective", the official said. However, the
source added: "We are aware of the impact and significance of this. After
all, he is a dictator, no one will deny this - but education, frankly, is
above politics."

Law Yuk Kai, director of Human Rights Monitor in Hong Kong, said: "A child
who has not done anything wrong should not be asked to take the burden of
the wrongs of their parents - and in accordance with international human
rights, the interests of the child should be our first principle."

But he added: "If the money she is spending was siphoned off the ordinary
people, there is a problem. Just like other members of the international
community, Hong Kong should do its part in imposing sanctions."


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Emelia Ndoro, "We fear an outbreak here would be a big disaster"


Photo: IRIN
Little protection from the elements
HARARE, 26 January 2009 (IRIN) - Emelia Ndoro, 32, lives in an unplanned settlement in Epworth, 20km east of the Zimbabwean capital, Harare. With the rainy season now underway, she fears the spread of cholera in the community, and the possibility that her three-roomed mud house could collapse.

"I have lived in different informal settlements over the past eight years and the rainy season always comes with many problems for all dwellers in squatter camps.

"The inside of my shelter is damp because of the heavy rains ... My neighbours nearly sustained injuries after their shelter collapsed while they were inside. They have moved to another part of Epworth, where they hope to put up another structure.

"There have been many cases of diarrhoea; with the national cholera outbreak we are experiencing, we fear an outbreak here would be a big disaster.

"I'm only human and want to live in a decent structure one day, with all the comforts and peace of mind of staying in a formal settlement.

"[In the meantime], as you may be aware, there are a lot of power shortages in urban Harare, and we raid nearby farms to poach firewood, which we sell. The downside to that is if you are caught by the farm guards, they don't even bother charging you with a fine. They just beat you up."


[ENDS]

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]


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Stop supporting 'passive genocide' in Zimbabwe - Catholic priests

http://www.3news.co.nz

Tue, 27 Jan 2009 7:18a.m.

Southern African leaders must stop supporting Zimbabwe President Robert
Mugabe or accept complicity in a "passive genocide," Catholic bishops from
the region said Monday as the European Union increased sanctions on Mugabe
and his supporters.

Protesters calling for Mugabe to step down converged near the presidential
guesthouse where Zimbabwe's opposition leader and nine African heads of
state including Mugabe were holding an emergency summit on Zimbabwe's
political crisis. Police fired rubber bullets at them as they tried to
gather in front of South Africa's capital building.

A police spokesman, Capt. Julia Claassen, said police fired at what she
called an illegal protest after some of the 1500 protesters threw stones at
officers and blocked roads.

Claassen said seven protesters were treated for minor injuries and no
arrests were made. Emily Wellman, a spokeswoman for one of the groups that
organized the protest, said seven people were injured and an unknown number
arrested.

The bishops said in a message to the heads of state that Mugabe must step
down immediately and southern African officials "must stop supporting and
giving credibility to the illegitimate Mugabe regime with immediate effect."

"Failing this, (Southern African) leaders accept complicity in creating the
conditions that have resulted in starvation, displacement, disease and death
for ordinary Zimbabweans. This is nothing short of passive genocide," the
bishops said.

The European Union added 26 officials and 36 companies to a blacklist
freezing assets and barring travel in Europe, which now totals 203 people
and 40 entities - many of them also blacklisted in the United States.

Two EU officials said most of the companies on the blacklist were fake firms
used to funnel money to prop up Mugabe's government and supporters. The
officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized
to speak to press on the issue.

State Department spokesman Robert Wood said Secretary of State Hillary
Rodham Clinton is reviewing what more the Obama administration can do to
help

"We're just very concerned about the behaviour of Mugabe," he said. "It
appear to us that the regime has no interest in its own people; it has no
interest in trying to bring about good governance and democratic
government."

Zimbabwe has been virtually without a government since a presidential
election last March in which opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai won the
most votes. Tsvangirai pulled out of a subsequent runoff against Mugabe
because of brutal attacks on opposition supporters.

Mugabe and Tsvangirai agreed in September to form a coalition government but
have failed to agree on how to share Cabinet seats and leaders at the summit
were expected to press for a deal.

The stalemate has distracted leaders from a growing economic and
humanitarian crisis, with millions of Zimbabweans dependent on international
aid groups for food and medical care and a cholera epidemic killing nearly
3,000 people and spreading to neighbouring countries.

The regional Save Zimbabwe Now campaign sent a statement to the summit
warning that political violence was again on the increase in Zimbabwe,
quoting witnesses who have fled the country in recent days reporting "the
resurgence of familiar patterns of victimization by state forces and
militias and revenge attacks on suspected activists and their families."

AP


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Momentum Builds for Zimbabwe Intervention

http://www.commondreams.org

Published on Monday, January 26, 2009 by OneWorld.net

by Ida Wahlstrom

WASHINGTON  - Calls are growing for the international community to do more
about Zimbabwe, and now global human rights leaders including Desmond Tutu
are engaging in a "relay fast" and other nonviolent acts to pressure
neighboring countries -- particularly South Africa -- to support the
Zimbabwean people's struggle for democracy and human rights.

"SADC and African governments must act resolutely to protect the people of
Zimbabwe who are being subjected to a passive genocide. The suffering of the
people of Zimbabwe cannot be ignored any longer," says the Save Zimbabwe
Now! Coalition in a petition calling for immediate action to resolve the
East African nation's political, economic, and humanitarian crises.
In addition to the petition and fast -- which human rights leaders including
CIVICUS's Kumi Naidoo and Nomboniso Gasa of the South African Gender
Commission are joining for 21 days apiece -- Save Zimbabwe Now! has launched
letter writing campaigns and will hold public meetings and rallies
throughout Southern Africa.

The coalition of human rights activists is demanding that the regional
economic alliance South African Development Community (SADC) and African
political leaders abandon the notoriously fruitless policy of "quiet
diplomacy" toward Zimbabwe.

Instead, they say, the SADC and other continental powers should staunchly
condemn the political violence and the Robert Mugabe regime's violation of
regional and international treaties and conventions on human and democratic
rights.

One such treaty is the Memorandum of Understanding, signed by Mugabe's
ZANU-PF party and the two factions of the leading opposition MDC party
paving the way for talks to resolve the country's political impasse.

The international community must also address Zimbabwe's crippling
humanitarian crises: primarily widespread food scarcity and hunger, the
near-collapse of the country's health system, and the cholera and AIDS
epidemics, the Coalition says, adding that Zimbabwe's neighbors in
particular must provide humanitarian assistance and refuge to those fleeing
the country.

"The act of purposefully going without food is also symbolic. It recognizes
the worsening food shortages in Zimbabwe, and the deepening humanitarian
crisis. It acknowledges the (mis)use of food as a tool in the ongoing
political turmoil. Most importantly, it expresses solidarity with the people
of Zimbabwe, as many struggle to meet the most basic of daily needs -- 
food," said a written statement released by Save Zimbabwe Now! earlier this
week.

Tutu, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 for his efforts to help
end apartheid in South Africa, believes international activist pressure can
yield results for Zimbabwe too. "If we would [only] have more people saying
'I will fast,' maybe one day a week -- just to identify myself with my
sisters and brothers in Zimbabwe," Tutu pleaded on South African radio
recently. The 77-year-old archbishop will be going without food one day a
week until the Coalition's demands are met.

Save Zimbabwe Now! is also calling for a halt to the government's intense
assault on civil and human rights activists, marked by a series of
abductions and torture of those criticizing the government.

New Mediator Needed?
Many of Save Zimbabwe Now!'s demands are directed at the SADC, but some
human rights groups are so disappointed with the regional body's efforts to
date that they are suggesting the African Union (AU) take control of
mediation efforts in Zimbabwe.

"During the recent Citizensâ€TM Continental Conference held in Addis Ababa,
Ethiopia...the participants called upon the African Union to formally
recognize that the SADC mediation is challenged and has not achieved the
desired results and that the resolution of the Zimbabwean crisis should be
done under the direct authority of the AU," wrote the 16-member Zimbabwe
Human Rights NGO Forum in an email to supporters Wednesday.

Human Rights Watch, which is based in New York and monitors abuses around
the world, agrees. "Ongoing human rights abuses have not ceased and those
responsible have not been held to account," the group said Thursday, calling
on the African Union to "insert itself formally into the mediation process
and set basic principles, specific human rights benchmarks, and timelines
for resolving the crisis."

Human Rights Watch also urged the AU to suspend Zimbabwe from the grouping
of nations if -- within a specific time frame -- it does not meet specific
human rights and good governance benchmarks.

The African Union will begin a week-long summit meeting in Addis Ababa
Monday.

Call to Americans

Zimbabwe- and U.S.-based groups are also urging Americans to stand up on
behalf of Zimbabweans.

Following a December holiday visit to his home country, Washington, DC-based
Zimbabwean Briggs Bomba relayed to reporters the requests of civic leaders
and activists in Zimbabwe.

Groups like Zimbabwe Crisis Coalition, Women of Zimbabwe Arise, Zimbabwe
Peace Project, and Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights all need help spreading
the word about the problems Zimbabweans are facing, said Bomba, who works
with the nonprofit pressure group Africa Action.

Indeed, noted Bomba, campaigners in Zimbabwe believe human rights defender
Jestina Mukoku finally surfaced after more than three weeks of disappearance
only because of intense international pressure from human rights groups
around the world.

The grassroots and community organizations that Bomba connected with in
Zimbabwe are also strapped for funds to enable basic operations such as
accessing and sending e-mails and traveling to connect with other
organizations and provide services within the country.

These groups "bring an important perspective and feeling to the table and
are absolutely vital to the democratic and social justice struggle in
Zimbabwe," said Bomba. "They are severely crippled by lack of basic
resources for communication, transport, and other needs."

Ordinary Zimbabweans Make Their Plea

The idea for the global hunger strike was born when activists from South
Africa were in Zimbabwe in December to produce a film about the struggles
faced by everyday people and local community organizing groups.

The short video features ordinary Zimbabweans, church leaders, trade
unionists, community workers, and human rights lawyers, suggesting that
immediate and decisive action from South African leaders and the wider
international community is needed.

"Here we are not free. We do not get enough food to eat. We do not get
enough clothing. We do not get any care at schools. We do not get
comfortable at home. When we wake up, we do not get any food to eat. We only
get water and go to school," said one young person interviewed in Part I of
the film (see video below). "Water does not give us strength to learn," he
added. "There are not doctors at the hospitals. We need doctors also. We
need teachers -- we need qualified teachers."

The film, entitled "Time 2 Act," can be viewed below and will be distributed
to the leaders of South Africa, the SADC, the AU, and South Africa's ruling
party the African National Congress, said the producers.


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Judges: nickels, dimes in regime's pockets?

http://www.zimbabwejournalists.com

26th Jan 2009 11:34 GMT

By Chenjerai Chitsaru

IN the seminal gangster movie, The Godfather, the head of one of the Costra
Nostra Families complains to Don Corleone why he doesn't allow them to use
the influence of "the judges and politicians he keeps in his pocket like so
many nickels and dimes".

Judges everywhere are susceptible to accusations of making judgments on
immoral grounds - after being bribed by influential, rich defendants or
their families. Don Corleone was assassinated in the film, perhaps
graphically displaying the consequences of disappointing the expectations of
a Mafia associate.

In Britain last year, there was a controversial case:  a relative of the
former fascist leader, Oswald Mosley, appeared in court, charged with
engaging in bizarre, sado-masochistic  sexual acitivites which shocked some
of the Britain's strait-laced society.

The motoring executive sued a newspaper which went to town with the story,
earning itself a libel suit from the Mosley tycoon. A judge ruled in his
favour, fuelling the wrath of  most newspaper editors, who were  steamed up
about the verdict, accusing the judge openly, of setting a precedent which
might encourage other rich ,but sexually deviant personalities to get away
with their bizarre practices, even if they were considered  seriously
illegal enough to warrant a court case.

In Zimbabwe today, it must be enormously difficult to predict how far the
current debate on the integrity of the country's judges will go.
If Robert Mugabe's regime, cornered mostly in its own self-constructed
political cage, had its own way, the debate would get nowhere fast.

The integrity of the judiciary has been under the microscope since Mugabe
forced out the first black chief justice, Enock Dumbutshena, way back in the
1990s.

Dumburtshena then formed a political party to challenge Mugabe's Zanu PF -
and got nowhere. The microscope developed into a magnifying glass when Chief
Justice Anthony Gubbay, as erudite a legal mind as Dumbutshena, was also
forced to quit.

In both instances, there was a matter of principle involved: the accusation
was that the judges would not bend to Mugabe's bidding.
The current debate was inflamed by Judge President, Rita Makarau, a relative
of Mugabe, who laid into her fellow judges for not being exemplary in their
duties. Joining the debate was  the little-known group called, Youth In
Politics Trust, who placed a full-page advertisement in a newspaper, with
the headline JUDGES SHOULD  REMAIN HONEST TO BE RESPECTED.

"Judge President Rita Makarau, in her statement at the opening of this year's
High Court legal year, blasted some judges for allowing politicians to
compromise them."
She spoke in the presence of four judges.

The advert says the judges did not deny the charges."because there is clear
evidence that the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe has made donations to the judges".
The donations are said to include plasma televisions, luxury cars, houses,
cash payment of school fees for children and generators, "among other
 things".

By now, nobody with any shred of knowledge on Zimbabwean politics would be
surprised or even shocked at Zanu PF's attempts to "bribe everybody" into
voting for it, or to ignore its malfeasance.
This is a regime whose ambition since independence was to get everybody of
any influence whatsoever into its pockets like so many nickels and dimes.
This extended to Parliament, where there are facilities for the MPs which
may or may not have persuaded some of the opposition legislators to ease up
on their criticism of the ruling party.

Many cynical analysts have always wondered why, a few years ago, the MDC's
attempt to impeach Mugabe fizzled out without so much as a whimper. It's
arguable if the action would have succeeded, but there are some observers
who believe that, carried to its logical conclusion, the impeachment attempt
would have left Zanu PF and Mugabe with bloody noses.

By now, even the Sadc leaders, some of them young enough to be Mugabe's
children, must appreciate that the 84-year-old nationalist will do anything
at all to remain in power - including granting them their wildest wishes.

There has been, for a while, sentiment among analysts that the judiciary is
the only bastion of democracy left in the country, apart from the opposition
in Parliament. And there has been much evidence that not all the judges are
wiling to do Gushungo's bidding in exchange for fancy TV sets.

But when a judge ruled in favour of Associated Newspapers, publishers if the
independent Daily News, a few years ago, there was so much heat from the
government and Zanu PF he fled to South Africa.

That display of Mafia-like fury sent the property signal to other judges -
as had been anticipated: you defy Zanu PF at your own peril.

There are a number of former judges whose opinion of The Bench under Chief
Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku is less than flattering. Chidyausiku succeeded
Gubbay, having cut his teeth as a Mugabe loyalist as chairman of the
ill-fated Constitutional Commission.

That abortive plan to amend the constitution "the Zanu PF way" was foiled by
a referendum verdict orchestrated by the National Constitutional Assembly
(NCA) whose chairman was the same man now Mugabe's No. l nemesis, Morgan
Tsvangirai.

What will the judges particularly those who must feel guilty, do after
reading the Youth in Politics Trust advertisement?  These are hard economic
times, even for the judges, with their almost obscene perks. Yet they must
all have international considerations to weigh before deciding that what is
essential for them today is, not to be seen to be carrying out their duties
faithfully and sincerely, but to make money before the  Mugabe gravy train
crashes, as it is bound to, sooner or later.

The role of the RBZ in softening the judges' principled stand against a
government committed to bribing the world to applaud its stand, is bizarre -
if you are unaware of its other equally outlandish actions in favour of the
Mugabe regime.

Incidentally, it is difficult to understand why Gideon Gono would, in all
honesty, see his role as acceptable internationally. Can you imagine other
central bankers congratulating him heartily for supporting a regime which
has garnered such a reputation for political perfidy?

Cynics tend to worry about the stubbornness of the Mugabe regime to resist
any attempts by the MDC to accede to some of the opposition demands.

Is there a deliberate plot to so disillusion and discourage the MDC , in the
end, they may accept the Zanu PF formula because to continue to resist would
plunge the country down an abyss from which it might not emerge for decades?

There is real fear that Mugabe and Zanu PF are prepared for this - to
destroy the country -  if it means they retain their hold on power, even of
a country with nothing of any material importance to itself, its people and
the rest of the world.

Then you would have to wonder what it is they are trying to conceal from the
rest of the world. What is it that we have not been told about what Zanu PF
has done to this country?

On the facer of it, an inclusive government with Mugabe and some of his
people in top positions is not so difficult for the people to accept- as
long as the MDC has the clout to decide such vital matters as law and order,
finance and the media.

But it would appear that Zanu PF and Mugabe are determined that any final
agreement must result in the MDC eating crow, in recognising that Zanu PF is
still top dog, still calling the shots, still holding all the aces - that
nothing has changed, except the MDC has cabinet ministers, but cannot
determine the destiny of the country, unless with Zanu PF's say-so.

Basically, this is why a settlement has been long in coming. Zanu PF wants
even the MDC so conduct itself like "so many nickels and dimes:" in Zanu PF's
pockets.


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Another good kicking

http://www.zimbabwetoday.co.uk/

How South African police follow the example of Zimbabwe's uniformed thugs

Johannesburg, Monday, January 26

It's as well that we Zimbabweans are accustomed to being beaten and shot at
by the forces of law and order in our country. Because exactly the same
treatment is being meted out to us here in the heart of supposedly lawful
South Africa.

I came to South Africa at the weekend to cover the extraordinary summit of
South African Development Community (SADC) leaders, who are meeting in
Pretoria today to once again consider the vexed question of Robert Mugabe's
stranglehold over Zimbabwe.

What I witnessed was police brutality on a scale I had previously only seen
on the streets of Harare. Clashes between demonstrators and police ended
with various highly respectable individuals being taken away in police
vehicles, and ten protestors rushed to hospital with injuries caused by
rubber bullets.

The trouble began when a protest march, organised by a coalition of South
African and Zimbabwean civil society groupings and intended to bring
pressure on the SADC leaders to end the stalemate in Zimbabwe, reached the
Union Buildings, which house the office of President Kgalema Motlanthe.

The marchers numbered about 1,500, and some of the more adventurous stormed
into the building, singing, waving flags and shouting slogans. The police
replied with volleys of rubber bullets which sent hundreds of demonstrators
running for cover.

Among those injured was a boy of about 17, who was hit in the head with a
rubber bullet and lay on the ground bleeding profusely. He was able to give
me his name, Trsut Nyathi, before he was taken away to hospital, where I
later learned his condition was stable.

Meanwhile a delegation from the Save Zimbabwe Now! campaign, a new
initiative under the auspices of CIVICUS, the civil society based here in
Johannesburg, attempted to present a memorandum to the extraordinary session
of SADC, asking for an end to tacit support of the Mugabe regime.

Eight of the delegation, including Kumi Naidoo, president of CIVICUS, were
arrested, bundled into police vehicles, and driven away.

I have to point out that the high-handed and violent official reaction only
lasted for a short while, compared to similar events in Zimbabwe. But no
doubt the South African police will learn quickly from their more
experienced colleagues north of the border.

Posted on Monday, 26 January 2009 at 18:33


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Letter from America

http://www.zimaction.com

 

  January 26, 2009

  If Zimbabwe talks fail SADC/AU must  push for new elections

  During her inaugural speech  before the Senate Secretary of State Hillary
Clinton announced the three pillars of the United States foreign policy,
collectively known as  "smart power ."  Mrs. Clinton said the United States
would use its diplomatic, defense and developmental strength in its foreign
policy.

  Mrs. Clinton mentioned Zimbabwe as one country where she said the United
States will seek to end the autocratic regime of Robert Mugabe.

  Earlier President Barack Obama, and in obvious reference to Mugabe regime,
said

  " To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the
silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but
that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist."

  Mrs. Clinton elaborated on Obama's speech by adding that the United States
will seek partnerships and priorities in dealing with the world's problems.
She said the United States cannot solve all the world's problems alone and
will have to take into account its state of economic recession.

  The United States ambassador  to the United Nations, Dr. Susan Rice, also
said the United States will work tirelessly to confront Mugabe in order to
bring the suffering of the  Zimbabweans to an end.

  A common theme in the Obama administration's policy is that the US will
form partnerships, particularly with countries in southern Africa, to effect
a meaningful transitional government in Zimbabwe.

  It is highly unlikely that Obama's policy on Zimbabwe will be
significantly different from that of his predecessor, George Bush.

  What is likely to emerge is an even more robust and proactive diplomatic
effort to bring pressure not only on Mugabe but on SADC and the African
Union.

  Today, SADC heads of state will meet in Pretoria, South Africa's capital
city, to try to broker a government of national unity implementation
agreement in Zimbabwe.

  The United States will follow the deliberations with great interest and
some involvement, possibly in form of financial incentives to support the
fragile government of national unity should MDC leader, Morgan Tsvangirai,
be satisfied his demands have been met and sign the agreement.

  Unless the SADC commits itself to a paradigm shift away from its
traditional cozying up to Mugabe and unless SADC demands real and meaningful
concessions from Mugabe, the Pretoria meeting today will be a big yawn for
Zimbabweans.

  What is essentially blocking a chance for a government of national unity
is the fact that Mugabe has refused to agree to an equal sharing of
strategic ministries. He grabbed for himself all the ministries of home
affairs, defense, local government, justice, foreign affairs, and
information. In addition Mugabe has appointed all provincial governors and
reserve bank governor and attorney general.

  The only compromise, if it can be called that, Mugabe was willing to make
was sharing the ministry of home affairs.

  Former president Bush's policy on Zimbabwe was spearheaded by his
undersecretary of state for African affairs, Jendayi Frazer, whose fiery
rhetoric brought shivers down the spines of the Mugabe regime.

   Zimbabweans hope that the Obama policy on Zimbabwe will build on the
existing approach, and not allow it to be watered down in any way.

  At the end of last year, the Bush administration was reportedly
considering a number of options to escalate its political, economic and
diplomatic push to bring pressure to bear on Mugabe.

  This should precisely be where the Obama administration must begin. It
must look at additional measures that can be taken over and above the
existing targeted sanctions against the Mugabe regime and its top bras.

  But Obama's policy of partnership stresses the active involvement of other
parties, notably SADC and the African Union.

  Both SADC and the African Union have scheduled meetings this and next
week.   The Zimbabwean crisis will hang like an albatross over both the SADC
and AU necks.

  If SADC and AU fail to resolve the Zimbabwean crisis, this will signal to
the international community that Africa is incapable of dealing with the
crisis. It will make a mockery of the outbursts, especially by the Ugandan
and South African representatives at the United Nations Security Council
that Africa is capable of resolving the Zimbabwean situation and that the
western world must stay out.

  Both SADC and AU will lose credibility in being active and effective
players in dealing with African problems. They will just become another
extension of the widely discredited Organization of African Unity which
failed dismally to play a meaningful role in addressing and solving the
continent's problems.

  The task now rests with Botswana, Kenya, Ghana  and possibly Nigeria, who
have taken a more critical attitude towards Robert Mugabe, to try to lobby
their  counterparts at either, or both, SADC and African Union  meetings to
take a tougher position and role in bringing pressure on Mugabe.

  If there is no breakthrough in efforts to form a government of national
unity, SADC and AU must insist on new elections supervised by SADC/AU and
the United Nations.

   Mugabe will obviously refuse new elections  under regional and
international supervision because he benefitted from  rigging the last
elections, even though the rigging was not entirely successful.

  For their part, Zimbabweans have their backs against the wall because of
the nose-diving economic and social conditions in the country.

  With all the indicators of a failed state now visible - the collapse of
everything -Zimbabweans have no excuse whatsoever for their reluctance in
engaging in mass protests and civil disobedience.

  The collapse of the worthless Zimbabwean dollar must be the last straw for
Zimbabweans. It must surely have brought the Zimbabweans to the edge of
their tolerance and indifference.

  On one hand, Zimbabweans earn their wages in the worthless Zimbabwean
dollars, yet they are required to pay for virtually all of their goods and
services in foreign currency!

  Faced with this massive dollarization, the ZANUPF propaganda that Zimbabwe
will never be a colony again is an idle and laughable hogwash!

  Zimbabweans owe it to themselves and future generations to not only
liberate themselves from the evil clutches of the Mugabe dictatorship but to
also leave a legacy of a prosperous nation, the rule of law, freedom and
democracy for future generations.

  To do so Zimbabweans are duty bound to stand up against Mugabe and tell
him they are reclaiming their country. Zimbabwe does not, has never, and
will never belong to Mugabe and ZANUPF. What has happened is Mugabe and
ZANUPF have stolen Zimbabwe through fraudulent elections, violence and the
militarization of the state.

  History and future generations will judge Mugabe regime harshly for
failure to uphold democracy and human rights.

  But the same history and future generations will judge Zimbabweans harshly
for failure to take advantage of missed opportunities for civil disobedience
and mass protests.


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New health fees; Residents` access to health barred!

…as Cholera and poverty wreak more havoc across the country.

 

23 January 2009

 

If Harare residents and Zimbabweans at large had a wand of magic or a choice at least; they would end all sicknesses but the fact that they occur naturally and involuntarily leaves them at the mercy of the twisted ‘politics of survival’ maneuverings of a desperate and failed defacto authority, the Mugabe ‘Government.’ The Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) finds it stomach-turning that Public Health has been effectively privatized (through the introduction of the new hard currency fees) amid the socio-economic malaise that has drastically increased poverty among the residents. The average Zimbabwean has been denied access to health as the ZANU PF ‘government’ takes desperate measures to keep its ‘Titanic of chronic failure’ afloat.

 

The Government hospitals which together with Council clinics were given the nod to charge in hard currency (but still accept the valueless Zimbabwean dollar with the charges determined on a daily basis), charge patients a hard-to-come-by US$40=R 400 (equals to ZW$ quintillions at parallel market rate) for consultation only and massive US$70=R700 a night for in-patients. A Caesarean operation requires a flat fee of a whopping US$150=R1 500 while scans cost around US$80=R800.The Harare City council has pegged consultation fee for adults at US$5 a visit and US$3 for children Antenatal care booking charges for expecting women are pegged at US$50 and family planning method seekers pay an average of US$2 per service.

 

Most low income earners who make the majority of the Zimbabwean population still earn far below US$ 1 per month, lower than the least charge for any service rendered at the Government hospitals and council clinics. The health charges set are therefore exasperatingly out of reach of the generality of residents and have turned public facilities into private ones and condemn residents to more suffering. The health charges are tantamount to fundraising to prop up the failed ‘government’ and broaden the looting base for the Mabhizas, Ribatikas (ZANU PF Senator and Councilor who were recently arrested for allegedly defrauding the state of more than US$ 10 000), the charges are prohibitive, and should be reversed.

 

Meanwhile the hard currency craze has seen massive profiteering and nuances of lack of accountability in public and private sectors. CHRA would like to urge the ministry of Health, the defacto Government and all other public and private service providers to stop ripping off citizens and uphold principles of justice and due fairness in discharging their mandate and in their businesses respectively. CHRA will continue to advocate for transparency, professionalism, and quality municipal and other service(s) delivery.

 

  

Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA)

145 Robert Mugabe Way

Exploration House, Third Floor

Harare

ceo@chra.co.zw

www.chra.co.zw

 Landline: 00263- 4- 705114

Contacts: Mobile: + 263 011862012, 011 923 204 0912 653 074, 0913 042 981, or email info@chra.co.zw, and admin@chra.co.zw

 

 


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Comment from a correspondent



The only way that the South African Government will come to its senses and
the force the issue on Zimbabwe , is if FIFA gets a flea in its ear over the
risk of Cholera spreading from Zimbabwe and '' posing a very real threat to
the 2010 Soccer World cup tourists  ''

Its your trump card , and it would be worth your while to contact friends in
the international soccer fraternity , as well as the tourism industry to
'openly express concern about the situation in Zimbabwe and very
specifically the contagion effect of Cholera and its threat to tourists
visiting SA ''

 It would also be a good idea for lobbyists to get the British , American
and European Union Governments repsrentatives in SA to start making noises
about a possible ....  Travel Warning..... due to Cholera .

Many counties in OECD such as Japan , Canada , etc will follow suit , and it
could be a diplomatic coup .

Its essential that lobbying is done in Europe by Soccer authorities . If
FIFA comes to the party , of course that would be ideal .

This risk of losing the host status , will get so far up the SA Governments
nose that it will react swiftly , and drop Mugabe like a ton of bricks .

With about 60 weeks to Go to the World cup , the time to turn up the tempo
is now .

South Africa regards the WC as its chance to show the world the Africans can
stand up as equals in this world , they cannot allow its to be threatened or
allow it to fail or be moved to Australia .

Anything that threatens the holding of the Soccer WC will give SA  wakeup
call , and you can be certain that they too are fed up with Mugabe . He is
80- something years old, surely the region can let him go and stop
supporting him . If Mugabe is seen as a threat to the hosting the WC , then
they will react .

We sit here in New Zealand and get the most horrendous stories coming out of
Zimbabwe , and continue to be astonished at the SADC and AU intransigence
over its support for the brutal Mugabe regime .

It may be also worthwhile to do what Mugabe had done so well over the years
, and 'make' a story about the risks to tourists of contracting Cholera in
the areas 'near Zimbabwe 's borders ', such as Kriger Park for example .

Here in New Zealand , where tourism is a major source of national revenue
and pride, its always an outrage when a tourist is threatened , robbed ,
injured or becomes ill or lost  . It may be a good idea to have a story
about a sickly young German tourist to suspected to have contracted Cholera
while visiting Kriger Park near the Zimbabwe border. This could be used as a
pretext to explode the whole Cholera risk in the context of the WC . The
story  will of course make it into the German and Swiss papers, and Sepp
Blatter will be forced to respond.

Good luck , its probably your last chance and your trump card

Regards

K

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