July 9, 2008
James Bone in New York, Philip Webster and Richard Lloyd Parry in Lake Toya
The United States will force a vote this week to place UN sanctions on
Zimbabwe's leaders after Russia's new President joined other G8 leaders
yesterday in threatening "further steps" against Robert Mugabe's Government.
The decision to force a showdown in the 15-nation UN Security Council
followed two impassioned debates at the rich nations' G8 summit at Lake
British officials said that Gordon Brown, the Prime Minister, used shock
tactics to win support for a tough G8 statement refusing to recognise Mr
Mugabe's rule. He was said to have pulled fellow leaders aside to show them
a horrific photograph of a driver for Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for
Democratic Change who was brutally murdered last month. He told them that
every day the world failed to act, similar tragedies would follow.
The G8 members Russia and Italy dropped their opposition to sanctions,
breaking with the African Union and China.
"We do not accept the legitimacy of any government that does not reflect the
will of the Zimbabwean people," the G8 statement said. "We will take further
steps, inter alia introducing financial and other measures against those
individuals responsible for the violence," the leaders added.
Mr Brown said: "This is the strongest statement. It shows the unity of the
whole international community reflecting the outrage people feel about the
violence and intimidation and the illegitimate holding of power by the
"What we've agreed is that we will send a United Nations envoy to press for
change in Zimbabwe. And what we have also agreed is, financial and other
sanctions will be imposed on members of the Zimbabwe regime.
"To bring together Russia, France, Germany, Italy, America and Canada, all
the G8 countries, with Japan, in putting this statement forward shows that
the whole international community is now not prepared to accept an
Zimbabwe's Government called the G8 statement racist and an insult to
African leaders. "They want to undermine the African Union and [South
African] President Mbeki's [mediation] efforts because they are racist,
because they think only white people think better," said the Deputy
Information Minister, Bright Matonga. "It's an insult to African leaders."
Washington is asking the UN Security Council to place an arms embargo on
Zimbabwe and impose a worldwide travel ban and asset freeze on Mr Mugabe and
13 other ringleaders of election abuses in the country.
The US proposal would also require the UN to name its own special
representative in the country, effectively sidelining the current mediator,
Although Russia signed up to the G8 statement, Moscow's UN Ambassador called
the US push for UN sanctions excessive and suggested that Moscow might still
block the resolution. "We should make it clear that the Security Council is
not about to enter into the whole realm of mediating elections, or judging
elections," Vitali Churkin, Russia's UN representative, said. South Africa,
also a council member, repeated its opposition to the proposed UN sanctions.
"The African Union has said categorically that we do not need sanctions
against Zimbabwe," Dumisano Kumalo, South Africa's UN representative, said.
"Right now the problem we have is that these sanctions will create more
complications." US officials said they had the nine votes necessary to adopt
a resolution in the council, provided neither Russia or China exercised
their veto power.
"There is broad agreement that the council cannot be indifferent to what has
happened. Action is required," said Zalmay Khalilzad, Washington's UN
Ambassador. "There are differences of view on exactly what should be done.
There are some that argue only political pressure is needed. We are of the
view that we have been there and done that - and failed to get results.
"We believe if one is serious about impacting the situation - given the
record we have had with Mr Mugabe - we need to add pressure to incentivise
Mr Mugabe," he said.
The UN's second-in-command told the Security Council yesterday that the
worsening food shortage in Zimbabwe could leave 5.1 million people "at grave
risk". Asha Rose Megiro, the deputy secretary-general, called for the speedy
creation of a mediation "mechanism on the ground" - diplomatic code for
beefing up the mediation effort with a UN role.
"It is clear Zimbabwe will have to go through a political transition
bringing together its people around a common project," she said. "It will
also need a process of national healing and reconciliation that should
include wideranging and participatory national consultations." She added
that the Secretary-General was concerned that violence could spread across
The Associated PressPublished: July 8, 2008
OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso: Zimbabwe's foreign minister said Tuesday that
President Robert Mugabe is ready to form a unity government with opposition
But Simbarashe Mumbengegwi remained vague on the role that the country's
opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai might play.
Mumbengegwi said the way forward is for Mugabe to form "an all-inclusive
government where all the political parties take part."
Mumbengegwi spoke in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, for a meeting
Tuesday with Burkina's president - a member of the U.N. Security Council.
In New York, the 15-nation council met Tuesday to discuss Zimbabwe, and
French and U.S. officials said a majority of Security Council member
countries support a proposal to sanction Zimbabwe and freeze Mugabe's
assets. But they also said Russia warned it might veto the plan.
A vote on a U.S. draft resolution calling for sanctions over
state-sanctioned election violence in Zimbabwe is expected later this week.
Tsvangirai has said he would not participate in talks about forming a
governing accord with Mugabe's government unless an additional mediator was
appointed besides South African President Thabo Mbeki. Tsvangirai has called
on Mbeki to step down from his mediation role, saying his refusal to
publicly criticize Mugabe amounts to appeasement.
In Japan, the Group of Eight leading nations branded Mugabe's recent
election illegitimate and promised to take measures against those
responsible for the violence that prompted Tsvangirai to pull out of the
race. G-8 leaders agreed to send a U.N. envoy to help resolve the crisis,
but there was no mention of U.N. sanctions.
Mugabe has shown little sign of yielding power after 28 years as president.
Despite international condemnation, he went ahead with a one-candidate
election last month after Tsvangirai withdrew because of a wave of violence.
Mugabe declared himself the winner and was inaugurated for a sixth term as
By Africa correspondent Andrew Geoghegan
Posted 1 hour 28 minutes ago
Zimbabwe's Opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has denied
reports that it has agreed to resume talks with the regime of President
The absence of diplomatic progress in the crisis has prompted G8 leaders in
Japan to seek more sanctions on Zimbabwe's Government.
Zimbabwe's state-controlled media reported that the MDC had agreed to
negotiate with Mr Mugabe's ruling party Zanu-PF.
But the MDC has rubbished those claims and maintains that leader Morgan
Tsvangirai will only participate in talks if the Mugabe regime ends the
violence directed at Opposition supporters.
It also wants South African President Thabo Mbeki replaced as mediator.
Mr Mbeki also appears to be struggling with his credibility at the G8
meeting in Japan.
G8 leaders are seeking more sanctions against the Mugabe regime despite
warnings from Mr Mbeki that such a move could lead to civil war in Zimbabwe.
By Blessing Zulu
08 July 2008
Efforts to bring Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and opposition leader
Morgan Tsvangirai together for power-sharing talks could receive a fresh
impetus following the Group of Eight summit in Japan when Tanzanian
President and African Union Chairman Jakaya Kikwete and AU Commission
Chairman Jean Ping arrive in Harare for discussions including South African
President Thabo Mbeki, Tsvangirai told VOA on Tuesday.
Reports from Pretoria said Mr. Mbeki has come up with a draft proposal that
has been circulated to all concerned parties.
Under the Kenyan-style deal, Mr. Mugabe would continue as president and
Tsvangirai would become prime minister, while rival opposition leader Arthur
Mutambara and former finance minister and presidential hopeful Simba Makoni
would receive top cabinet posts.
Tsvangirai told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that
no talks will take place until Kikwete and Ping arrive in Harare in the
Correspondent Benedict Nhlapho reported from Pretoria that South Africa on
Tuesday urged Zimbabwe to establish a government inclusive of all
stakeholders, saying the country's problems cannot be solved under current
Meanwhile Western nations seemed likely to be able to pass a United Nations
Security Council resolution imposing sanctions on President Mugabe and other
top Harare officials. A vote on the U.S.-drafted resolution for sanctions is
expected later this week.
"Yes, we think" nine of the 15 votes needed to approve the resolution are
lined the French ambassador to the U.N., Jean-Maurice Ripert, told
reporters. "It's obvious there is global support for tougher measures."
Strengthening that view was the briefing to the Security Council on Tuesday
by U.N. Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro, Tanzanian foreign
minister until last year.
Migiro, who observed the African Union summit in Egypt last week, told the
council Mugabe's re-election in an election widely condemned as illegitimate
"has the potential to affect regional peace and security in profound ways."
Migiro added: "This profound crisis of legitimacy is further compounded by
the paralysis of state institutions. There is currently no functioning
parliament. Civil society has been silenced and intimidated," Migiro
concluded. "The principle of democracy is at stake."
The proposed U.N. sanctions include an international arms embargo and a
freeze on the personal assets of Mugabe and 11 other top government
officials whom the U.S. believes played a key role in using violence to
intimidate Mr. Mugabe's opposition.
African Union leaders at the Group of Eight summit adopted a resolution
urging dialogue in Zimbabwe, but they did not directly criticize Mugabe or
The AU leaders said they were "deeply concerned" about the situation - but
their only commitment was to support "the will" for a unity government.
After briefing the Security Council, Migiro emphasized that Mugabe must
negotiate a political solution with the opposition and Tsvangirai, who
dropped out of a June 27 presidential run-off election citing
state-sponsored beatings and killings of his supporters.
Political analyst Rejoice Ngwenya told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's
Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the G-8 resolution supporting U.N. action was
important because it sent a clear message to Mr. Mugabe that the entire
world is watching Zimbabwe.
By Jonga Kandemiiri
08 July 2008
The Zimbabwean opposition formation led by Morgan Tsvangirai said a party
driver whose body was discovered this past weekend on a farm in Beatrice,
south of Harare, will be buried Wednesday in Mhangura, his town of origin in
Mashonaland West province.
Joshua Bakacheza's decomposing body was found after his colleague Tendai
Chidziwo, who survived the same attack, provided information as to his
The two were abducted on June 25 while helping the widow of a slain MDC
activist move from Harare's Mabvuku suburb to Kuwadzana, another capital
Armed men in three trucks blocked their way and took the two men to Beatrice
where they tortured, then shot them both in the head.
Chidziwo survived and crawled from the scene, then was picked up by a good
Samaritan who brought him to the Avenues Clinic in Harare where he spent a
week in a coma.
MDC Information Officer Luke Tamborinyoka told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri
that the ruling ZANU-PF party's militia is now attacking the victims of
political violence in hospitals.
Elsewhere, the Zimbabwe Peace Project said in a report that police in Gokwe,
Midlands province, on Sunday impounded an ambulance which had gone to
transport victims of political violence from the Gokwe-Chireya constituency
to hospitals where they could be treated.
Sources at Gokwe Hospital said a team from Doctors Without Borders was
denied access to victims of violence when its members attempted to visit the
hospital last week.
Wall Street Journal
Blockade Is Weighed,
But It Could Endanger
Workers in Zimbabwe
By MARGARET COKER
July 8, 2008 5:05 p.m.
BEITBRIDGE, South Africa -- As the United Nations Security Council weighs
sanctions against Zimbabwe, a powerful group already squeezing President
Robert Mugabe is divided on whether to unleash more of its vast economic
leverage against his regime.
The Congress of South African Trade Unions, or Cosatu, a 1.8-million-member
organization and a key political base within South Africa's ruling African
National Congress party, has for a decade engaged in low-volume protests
against Mr. Mugabe. This spring, public opinion in South Africa swung
further in Cosatu's direction when port workers, members of one of the
group's 21 affiliates, blocked a Chinese ship laden with arms for landlocked
Zimbabwe from offloading the weapons in South Africa. Other African
countries quickly supported the action, forcing the ship back to China.
The action, along with the violence of this year's Zimbabwean election
campaign, pushed the ANC to take a public stand against Zimbabwe's leader
for the first time. That shift left South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki
alone in his support for his longtime friend.
Despite that victory, Cosatu is balking for now at a broader economic
embargo. Its radical wing has pushed for shutting down the border crossing
here in Beitbridge, a low-slung, muddy town on the Limpopo River that is one
of the busiest trade corridors in southern Africa.
South Africa is Zimbabwe's biggest trading partner, and Zimbabwe receives
approximately 65% of its imports through Beitbridge. Much of Zimbabwe's
exports -- platinum and gold -- heads toward world markets through the
crossing. Union leaders say a blockade here could deny Zimbabwe its main
source of much-needed foreign exchange. That could cripple the government
and bring about Mr. Mugabe's downfall.
But union leaders also worry that such an action could backfire. Some of
their union colleagues in Zimbabwe were rounded up and jailed during the
arms-shipment standoff. Retaliation by Mr. Mugabe against Zimbabwe's workers
and opposition supporters could be more severe if any South Africa union
action started to bite.
"We regard ourselves as a revolutionary trade union in regard to social and
trade issues. Zimbabwe, for us, is a moral issue," says Randall Howard, the
secretary general of South Africa's Transport Workers Union. The group is
the Cosatu affiliate whose workers led the April port strike in Durban that
stranded the Chinese ship.
"But blockades, sanctions?" Mr. Howard adds. That's "a complex situation."
South African domestic political considerations are also at play. Jacob
Zuma, whom Cosatu members helped elect as the new ANC president late last
year, has been an outspoken critic of Mr. Mugabe, in marked contrast to Mr.
Mbeki, whom Mr. Zuma beat in the party race.
Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai pulled out of a runoff with Mr.
Mugabe last month, citing violence and intimidation. His party, the Movement
for Democratic Change, says government supporters killed 110 of its members.
Mr. Mugabe has blamed the opposition for the violence.
After Mr. Mugabe declared victory, the African Union, a political alliance
of African states, called on him to share power with Mr. Tsvangirai. The two
have agreed to negotiate, but each wants to be named the senior member of
any unity accord.
President Mugabe's reputation has plummeted from that of an icon of African
liberation since he took control in 1980, as thousands of political
opponents have been killed, gross national product has been halved, and the
average life expectancy has dropped to the world's lowest.
Western diplomats, who say they will recognize only a government led by Mr.
Tsvangirai, are now scrambling for a way to force out Mr. Mugabe, who has
ruled Zimbabwe for 28 years. A draft Security Council resolution under
consideration would slap sanctions against him and 12 senior members of his
Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front party and the heads of his
security forces. The measures would bolster a three-year-old U.S. travel and
economic ban against 120 ZANU-PF members.
But some persuasive voices inside South Africa are calling on the country's
trade unions to take matters into their own hands in order to force Mr.
Mugabe out of power.
"Mugabe is a monster who kills his own people. The way [to deal with him] is
to strike the artery keeping his regime alive," says Blade Nzimande, the
general secretary of the South African Communist Party. The party and Cosatu
make up the left wing of the ANC.
Mr. Nzimande was among 300 union members in red shirts who gathered Saturday
morning at Beitbridge. Cosatu organized the demonstration to protest Mr.
Mbeki's refusal to adhere to the group's call to denounce Mr. Mugabe. Mr.
Mbeki was meeting at the time in Zimbabwe's capital, Harare, with Mr.
The crowd sang worker songs interspersed with anti-Mugabe and anti-Mbeki
slogans. But amid their chanting, at least 30 trucks carrying corn flour,
construction materials and fuel rumbled down the two-lane highway and across
the border to Zimbabwe.
Business links between Zimbabwe and South Africa are tight. At least two
dozen top South African companies operate in Zimbabwe, and some 60% of
companies listed on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange are South African. An
economic blockade against Zimbabwe could hurt South African workers --
another factor in Cosatu's hesitation.
"Social tension is just below the surface here. We want to be sure that we
analyze all repercussions for policies before we adopt them," says Cosatu
spokesman Patrick Craven.
Mr. Craven says the union would adopt stronger actions toward Zimbabwe if
colleagues at the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions asked for their help. So
far, the ZCTU has stayed silent on the issue of an economic blockade, as has
Mr. Tsvangirai, himself a former union leader.
The ZCTU is holding a general meeting July 12 to discuss future strategies,
according to Lovemore Matombo, the umbrella group's president. Meanwhile,
Mr. Matombo awaits trial on sedition charges, scheduled for July 30. He was
arrested during the Chinese-arms action.
Although Zimbabweans didn't plan the embargo, they supported it. Speaking in
a telephone interview from Harare, Mr. Matombo said that many of his members
are too brutalized by Zimbabwean forces to organize effectively. That is why
he will push his group to support stronger international intervention,
despite the short-term pain that a blockade or other action could cause to
"We are beaten and defenseless. It's up to the international community to
help us," says Mr. Matombo. "It's very significant what Cosatu is doing. I'd
call on them not just to close [Beitbridge] once, but keep it closed."
Write to Margaret Coker at email@example.com
By Patience Rusere
08 July 2008
A worsening humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe could lead to civil strife if
not addressed, an official of the National Organization for Non-Governmental
Organizations said Tuesday.
NANGO Information Officer Fambai Ngirande said political violence and a
surge in the number of internally displaced people has compounded the
humanitarian crisis once dominated by food shortages - though more than 3
million people in city and country currently need food aid.
Ngirande told reporter Patience Rusere of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that
the extent of the crisis is hard to measure as aid NGOs have been cut off
from large areas of the country.
United Nations News Service
Date: 08 Jul 2008
The crisis in Zimbabwe, which has been beset by months of deadly violence
and witnessed the recent holding of tarnished elections, not only represents
a 'moment of truth' for democracy on the continent but also poses a
'challenge to the world,' Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro said
'When an election is conducted in an atmosphere of fear and violence, its
outcome cannot have a legitimacy that is built on the will of the people,'
she told the Security Council today, as she briefed the 15-member body on
the recent African Union Summit in Sharm El-Sheikh. 'Consequently, the
principle of democracy is at stake.'
President Robert Mugabe was sworn in for a sixth term after being declared
the winner of the 27 June run-off, in which he was the sole candidate.
Violence and intimidation directed towards the opposition forces had led to
the withdrawal of Morgan Tsvangirai, the candidate of the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC).
Ms. Migiro stated that the 'flawed' elections produced illegitimate results,
adding that 'the seriousness of the situation and its possible consequences
has the potential to affect regional peace and security in profound ways.'
The polls were held despite calls for a postponement until proper conditions
could be put in place. In addition, she pointed out that the lack of
national observation 'stripped' the elections of a critical measure of
transparency and credibility.
'It is of note that the three African observer missions present on the
ground issued unequivocal condemnations of the electoral process and its
results,' said the Deputy Secretary-General.
'This profound crisis of legitimacy,' she said, is made worse by the
paralysis of state institutions, a civil society that has been intimidated
and silenced, a crippled economy and severe shortages of food and basic
'It is clear that Zimbabwe will have to go through a political transition
bringing together its people around a common project,' she stated. 'It will
also need a process of national healing and reconciliation that should
include wide-ranging and participatory national consultations.'
Both the ruling ZANU-PF and MDC parties have agreed to dialogue to resolve
the current political impasse, and talks are ongoing, under South African
mediation. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has backed the AU's call for the
establishment of a mechanism on the ground to support the mediation efforts.
Ms. Migiro stressed that while the world mobilizes to support a peaceful
solution to the crisis, the Government must protect its citizens - who have
been subjected to deadly violence and a worsening humanitarian situation
since the first round of elections was held on 29 March - and to stop the
She also called for the perpetrators of crimes to be held to account,
emphasizing that the victims of the recent violence deserve justice. 'The UN
stands ready to play its part in supporting such a process,' she pledged.
Bulawayo, 8th July 2008
I attended a meeting of supporters recently and asked them why they were so
down? I said we could look back on the last six months and record a number
of major achievements. We can say that we won the elections on the 29th
March, we have won the media war, we have won the diplomatic war and
reunited SADC for our cause and now we have the great majority of the AU
leadership rooting in our corner. That's quite a bag!
Mugabe by now must know that what he bought for himself and Zanu PF on the
27th June is in fact a nasty concoction of things that are reacting in all
sorts of unexpected ways. His Presidency has not been recognised and he
leads a regime that has lost all its credibility. The ensuing media blitz
has revealed every detail of his nasty plot to rig the election and to beat,
maim and traumatize our entire population. He has become an embarrassment to
Africa and the meeting of the G8 leaders in Japan this morning revealed how
damaging that can be to the wider interests of the continent.
By behaving as he has, he has destroyed the credibility of his closest
friends and condemned many to an uncertain future on the run from the law.
Included in his list of casualties is Thabo Mbeki who now carries the
rotting carcass of Zanu PF around and he cannot escape its foul odor. Any in
South Africa who thought that they were immune from the contagion must be
watching the floodtide of Zimbabwean refugees crossing the Limpopo with
apprehension. If this tide is not halted and reversed they know full well
what will follow.
Just to compound his problems, Mugabe's thugs have not yet woken up to the
fact that the situation has changed "out there " and are continuing to obey
their orders to kill, maim, displace and intimidate. The picture of a young
MDC activist who was abducted two weeks ago and was found this morning
outside Harare says it all - he was shot twice and then his body burned
beyond recognition. We only found him because his companion survived a shot
to the head and crawled 6 kilometers to a road and fell into a coma from
which he has just recovered and could tell us what had happened.
I remember this young man because he came to my house several times to
collect material for his Province. I can tell you I can hardly write about
this stuff without tears.
So when Mr. Mbeki arrived in Harare on Saturday and sent a message to Morgan
Tsvangirai requesting him to attend a meeting with Mugabe, Mutambara and
Ncube, he was mystified? On what basis was this meeting being held, he
asked, what was the agenda? What about our preconditions? No answers - he
refused to be drawn into yet another diplomatic trap and be used by Mbeki at
the G8 summit in Japan. MDC will not recognise Mugabe as the legitimate Head
of State in Zimbabwe, we will not talk to Zanu PF until the present campaign
of violence directed at the general population and the MDC in particular is
halted and arrangements made to meet the needs of those affected.
On Monday the G8 leaders and 7 African Heads of State spent 3 hours
discussing Zimbabwe. What a tragedy that when we have such urgent global
needs that require addressing, we have to spend valuable time on a
delinquent regime in Zimbabwe. Still the mere fact that the most powerful
leaders in the world, together with the key African leadership, spent so
much time on the issue must encourage us. It would have reinforced the
decision by the African Union last week to get talks underway with the
Parties in Zimbabwe so that a political resolution of the crisis can be
We spent Friday and Saturday working on our approach to the negotiations
that are coming and cleared what our preconditions are and what our stance
in the talks will be. We received a very positive report from those who
attended the AU summit and felt that we were at last in a strong position
when it came to talks. Certainly the pressure on Mugabe and Zanu PF has
I have always said that the key to any resolution of the crisis here is
South Africa - it alone has the power to be able to dictate to Zanu PF and
if they did so they would get compliance immediately. This was the case in
September 1976 when South Africa eventually had to confront Ian Smith with
the harsh reality of his position. It could be the same today.
I really do not think South Africa has any alternative now but to facilitate
dialogue between Zanu PF and the MDC and when necessary to tweak Mugabe's
tail. As for us, we really can force the issue by simply withdrawing from
the process when unacceptable demands are being made on us. There can be no
resolution of the crisis without our participation, no way forward and the
status quo is just not tenable in any way.
The economy is now in an advanced state of meltdown - major business
organisations are closing down or halting operations. The administration is
collapsing and it has become impossible to maintain even the most basic and
essential of services. This, coupled to the continued violent physical
assault on the MDC and the people is driving people out of the country in
unprecedented numbers threatening the stability and security of all our
neighbors. This simply cannot go on for much longer, a solution has to be
found or the consequences for the whole region will be dire.
Inflation continues to accelerate fed by the activities of the Reserve Bank
and the State. It is now almost impossible to operate in local currency -
the price changes are so frequent and significant that locals simply cannot
afford what little is available and supplies are dwindling. We are surviving
on cross border shopping trips to find essentials.
There is plenty of evidence that those in power continue to loot the country
and take as much out as they can - they are clearly nervous about the future
and are trying to lay aside what they can find here. If you are one of the
select few who have access to the Reserve Bank you can now by a luxury car -
brand new - for the price of a single cigarette.
Last Modified: 08 Jul 2008 Our Zimbabwe blogger describes the chaos of everyday banking and shopping.
Every day makes another one of your worst nightmares into reality as Zimbabwe
rushes closer to total collapse. Banks have started taking 6 zeroes off our accounts because their computers,
software and accounting systems can't cope with all the digits anymore.
Compounding the chaos of the zeroes is the maximum limit on cash withdrawals
imposed by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.
By: Channel 4 News
I am writing this letter by hand as the electricity is off again; it may only return in 16 or 20 hours time.
As I write I am listening to BBC world radio and am horrified to hear that men carrying shotguns and wearing army clothes and balaclavas have raided temporary refugee shelters in Ruwa and Gokwe.
Men, women and children - already on the run from political violence and with nowhere else to go, have been attacked. It feels as if a Darfur type situation has come right into our back garden and as the violence escalates, the world watches.
It seems absurd to write about money when people are being slaughtered by uniformed men just a few kilometers outside of the capital city but perhaps it is the money crisis that will finally close everything down in Zimbabwe.
One desperate 82-year-old man told me he hadn't eaten for two days
and had no food at home because all his money seemed to have disappeared from
Almost as soon as Mr Mugabe was sworn in for his 6th term as President, everyday banking and shopping got dramatically worse as prices moved into hundreds of billions and calculations went into trillions.
As if getting your head around all the digits wasn't bad enough, the banks have not made the removal of zeroes common knowledge, or even common practice, and so panic, confusion and despair are the order of the day.
Unless you fight your way to the front of the hundreds queuing in the banks everyday and actually ask how much money you've really got in your account then you are none the wiser because maybe they've taken off six zeroes, or maybe they haven't!
One day your bank statement will show you having $1bn (nine zeroes) and the next it may have dropped to $1000.
One desperate 82-year-old man told me he hadn't eaten for two days and had no food at home because all his money seemed to have disappeared from the bank.
The $8trillion (12 zeroes) that he had (worth about 50 British pounds) had suddenly plummeted to $8m and this wasn't enough to buy anything at all - not even one single loose sweet.
For people on life-preserving medication, this disastrous cash
regime imposed by the Reserve Bank has literally turned into a matter of life
We are only allowed to draw out $100bn a day and while this sounds like a vast fortune, in reality it's only enough to buy a 500gram packet of hard biscuits.
For people on life-preserving medication, this disastrous cash regime imposed by the Reserve Bank has literally turned into a matter of life and death.
Queuing for 90 minutes to withdraw her maximum daily limit of cash, a 72-year-old pensioner told me that the $100bn withdrawal enabled her to buy just three single blood pressure pills.
Because inflation is now well over one million per cent, most shops and businesses have stopped accepting cheques now.
By the time a cheque is deposited and cleared by a bank it is worth a fraction of its original value and so without cash and without cheques we face each day with exhaustion and fear, wondering how long we will be able to survive this.
Last Modified: 08 Jul 2008
Our Zimbabwe blogger describes the chaos of everyday banking and shopping.
Every day makes another one of your worst nightmares into reality as Zimbabwe
rushes closer to total collapse.
Banks have started taking 6 zeroes off our accounts because their computers,
software and accounting systems can't cope with all the digits anymore.
Compounding the chaos of the zeroes is the maximum limit on cash withdrawals
imposed by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.
Monsters and Critics
By Jan Raath Jul 8, 2008, 15:07 GMT
Harare/Johannesburg - As the leaders of the Group of Eight (G8) rich nations
meeting in Japan Tuesday discussed - but failed to reach agreement on -
possible sanctions against Zimbabwe, the economic woes of the southern
African country continued to deepen.
The state-controlled Herald newspaper reported that one of the country's
main banks had closed its automated teller machines (ATMs) because they
could not cope with the large numbers of zeroes in the sums of cash they
The Herald, which usually refrains from reporting news that casts President
Robert Mugabe's regime in a bad light, also reported that one of Zimbabwe's
main bakeries had stopped production.
The reports reflect the dire straits in which Zimbabweans find themselves as
the daily foraging of the masses for food grows increasingly desperate.
Annual inflation hit an unofficial 9 million per cent in May, while one US
dollar is now worth 25 billion Zimbabwe dollars.
The highest-denomination banknote, the 50 billion dollar note, is just about
enough for a 750 ml bottle of beer, if you can find it. Retailers say that
Natbrew, the country's monopoly brewer, has also stopped production.
Lobels Bakeries, one of the few bakeries that had still been turning out
300,000 loaves a day until Monday, sent 1,200 workers home on paid leave
after running out of flour last week, said operations manager, Cydwell
Chitewe said Lobels could not afford to continue production because the
state forces bakeries to charge 440 million dollars for a loaf that costs
800 million dollars to produce.
British-owned Barclays bank announced that its ATMs were no longer able to
dispense cash because it had not been able to configure the software to cope
with the recently-issued 5 billion, 25 billion and 50 billion dollar notes.
'Our system can only take a certain number of characters. If the characters
exceed the capacity, a data overflow will occur, which, in simple terms,
means 'error',' said a spokesman.
The situation has been compounded by a shortage of cash following a decision
by German company Giesecke & Devriant to stop supplying banknotes to
Zimbabwe's central bank, under pressure from Chancellor Angela Merkel's
Stocks of food in shops have, meanwhile, dropped to new low levels.
Apart from some fruit and vegetables, a large Bon Marche (good value in
French) supermarket in Harare had only packets of puffed maize snacks on its
shelves Monday, spaced several centimetres apart to combat the impression of
Last week, police in urban areas forced companies to drop their prices,
resulting in frantic scrambles for cheap goods that went on sale again
almost instantly on the street, at hugely inflated prices.
To the long queues that form daily in front of ATMs and bakeries now comes a
third - the queue for airtime cards for the state-run mobile phone service,
now also in short supply,
'This is a terrible country,' said Richard Chibaya, an office manager. 'It
now costs me 100 billion Zimbabwe dollars a day to catch the minibus home.
It is madness.'
Some analysts see the slow choking of the economy as the only real threat to
the authority of 84-year-old Mugabe, who was sworn in as president for
another five years in June, following elections he alone contested.
G8 leaders meeting in Japan failed to reach agreement on sanctions on
Zimbabwe, with a Russian official saying Russia was opposed to such a move.
Opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai,
whom the West says should head any powersharing government, has refused to
hold talks with Mugabe until state-backed militia violence against his
supporters ends and an AU envoy is appointed.
'It cannot go on like this for much longer,' said one economist, who asked
not to be named. 'We are nearing the point when the whole bangshoot closes
down, where the money is totally worthless and it makes no sense to
manufacture or sell anything.'
'When that happens, Mugabe is in big trouble. He will lose the loyalty of
the security apparatus that is keeping him in power,' the economist
Catholic Information Service for Africa (Nairobi)
8 July 2008
Posted to the web 8 July 2008
The former Catholic Archbishop of Bulawayo and foremost critic of President
Robert Mugabe, Pius Ncube, plans to return to his country to be with his
Christians "even if it means death", he said at the weekend.
Archbishop Ncube has been in England since last June. He resigned from his
post following accusations, which he admitted, that he committed adultery.
Independent Catholic News quoted the archbishop as telling parishioners on
Sunday that he had been in England to "pray, study and rest", but that "a
shepherd must be with his flock, even if it means death". The congregation,
which included a number of Zimbabwean refugees, burst into spontaneous
applause at this news.
Archbishop Pius told churchgoers who greeted him after Mass that since he
had been in the UK, he only ate once a day since "in Zimbabwe many eat only
once every three days."
During his homily, the archbishop focused on the theme of humility and the
need for prayer. He said: "In our first reading today, more than 500 years
before Jesus was born, Zechariah foresaw that there would be a Messiah.
Jesus is that King who is going to bring peace to the world, but he is a
humble king, riding on a donkey. Usually kings used to ride on horses. Jesus
says that it is the humble people who are builders of peace."
Jesus, born into poverty, humbled himself. The first people who heard about
him were the shepherds. "God comes close to the vulnerable."
It is the proud people who are destroying the world. "When Hitler spoke, he
shook up people. But what did he bring? War. 40 million people perished in
the Second World War, because this man was so full of himself and so full of
pride. Stalin was a proud man. Mao Tse Tung a murderer responsible for the
death of 70 million people during the war in China.
"Pol Pot. Mugabe. Our president who got into power by hook and by crook, and
this time we hear during the election he changed the results, and went
around beating up people, shooting some of them. And he has forbidden the
non-governmental organisations to give food to those people who supported
the opposition. That's pride."
Archbishop Ncube proceeded to give the examples of Princess Diana, Mahatma
Gandhi and Nelson Mandela as some of the humble leaders who touched the
world. "Let us all walk in the way of humility. Only that way can we bring
peace and happiness to our world."
Tuesday, 08 July 2008 12:50
The hospitals in and around Harare have been inundated with babies and
Children who have been affected by the violence.
Children with broken legs,arms, children with severe injuries in need
of your help. These children and babies have been separated from their
parents / siblings / guardians through no fault of their own.
In order to help these children, the hospitals are in desperate need
These and any other items you think might be useful, can be dropped
off at 6 Arundel Road, Alex Park, or 3 Pluto Close, Chisipite, for
distribution to the hospitals. Thank you for your help. It will be greatly
appreciated by the children of Zimbabwe.
By Christopher Hope, Home Affairs Editor
Last Updated: 2:32PM BST 08/07/2008
A Robert Mugabe supporter who is said to use a newspaper column to attack
Britain and the West is receiving tens of thousands of pounds a year of
Today the Ministry of Justice said it was investigating the affair as a
"matter of urgency".
Peter Mavunga, 54, allegedly uses his column in the pro-Mugabe Harare Herald
newspaper to attack the Zimbabwean dictator's opponents and rant against the
UK and the West.
Yet it was reported today that Mr Mavunga earns £25,000 from British
taxpayers as a court probation officer for the Ministry of Justice.
One UK-based opposition activist said: "It's rich that he criticises the
British Government yet is happy to make a living working for them."
Anti-Mugabe campaigner Dumi Tutani, 38, who fled to London in 2001, added:
"Mavunga is putting down the country that offered him sanctuary. He knows he
can say what he likes because this is a democracy.
"If he's such a big fan of Mugabe's, why doesn't he return to Zimbabwe to
Mr Mavaunga is thought to have come to Britain to study journalism in the
In his column Mr Mavunga is said to have claimed this year's rigged polls -
in which Government mobs killed dozens of opposition workers - were "held in
an atmosphere of peace and tranquillity".
Last week, Mr Mavunga, who lives in Newham, East London, allegedly accused
one woman of lying about her torture to win UK asylum and said: "It was the
sort of story that helped shape and reinforce attitudes of people in
In April, he reportedly branded opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai's MDC
"liars and hypocrites" and added: "They've become so used to lying that it's
part of their vocabulary."
Mr Mavunga declined to comment when challenged by the Daily Mirror about
this role at the Harare Herald.
A spokesman for the Probation Service said today: "These views have been
expressed in an individual capacity; these are not the views of London
Probation. We are looking into this as a matter of urgency."
Mr Tsvangirai won March's elections but Mr Mugabe demanded a re-run, which
he won unopposed after violence forced his rival to quit.
Christian Science Monitor
Leadership matters, but the rights of citizens are more important than the
By Michelle Gavin
from the July 9, 2008 edition
New York - As the crisis in Zimbabwe deepens, the international community -
and particularly African leaders - can play a significant role in saving the
important Southern African country from political and economic implosion.
African governments have been reluctant to challenge Zimbabwean President
Robert Mugabe. For many years they seemed to prefer to defer to his
liberation leader credentials. In some quarters, this reluctance has been
amplified by a sense of discomfort with opposition standard-bearer and
former trade union leader Morgan Tsvangirai. Much of the international
dialogue is focused on the power struggle between the two.
But while it is true that the presidential runoff election brought
Zimbabwe's crisis to a boiling point, the struggle in Zimbabwe is not
actually about these two men, and the real question before the international
community is not whether to support Mr. Mugabe or Mr. Tsvangirai. It's about
acknowledging that the people of Zimbabwe have civil and political rights.
Keeping Zimbabwe's citizens at the center of the debate would buck a
disturbing trend in African elections. It can also create space for more
effective international action. Too often, African elections are discussed
as if they are held for the candidates, not for the voters.
In the lead-up to last year's flawed elections in Nigeria, I listened to a
senior election official complain about the tardiness and even the
cleanliness of voters, suggesting that they were an impediment to a
hassle-free electoral exercise. His contempt for voters was reflected in the
often chaotic conduct of the election itself, which left many Nigerians
disenfranchised and has spurred numerous ongoing legal challenges.
Just a few months ago in Kenya, extremely dubious vote-tallying procedures
marred a close election between incumbent President Mwai Kibaki and
challenger Raila Odinga, triggering serious civil conflict with region-wide
In the end, a power-sharing arrangement heroically brokered by Kofi Annan
ensured that both men and their inner circles attained positions of power,
but it's not at all clear that the Kenyan people got much beyond a respite
from explosive postelection violence.
The bloated power-sharing government certainly provides rewards for party
stalwarts, but it is ill-equipped to address the underlying grievances
relating to land tenure, income inequality, and corruption that fueled the
unrest. The needs of political elites were accommodated, but the needs of
the Kenyan people may well go unmet.
In Zimbabwe, the government's long delay in announcing election results
after the May 29 elections raised the question - just whose votes were
Apparently the electoral commission, which is controlled by the ruling
party, felt that the count of the public's vote was information for private
After mobilizing and deploying the ruling party's machinery of repression
and intimidation to punish Zimbabweans for failing to hand him a victory,
President Mugabe announced that no vote tally could ever spur him to leave
The current regime seems to consider a successful electoral process as one
big, expensive government rally - a celebration of themselves, rather than
an opportunity for Zimbabweans to exercise some control over their own
Of course political leadership matters, and those contending for victory at
the ballot box usually represent real and sizable constituencies. But it's
important not to lose sight of the fact that the rights and aspirations of
the citizens are much more important than the personalities contesting the
To do the right thing, African governments and regional organizations don't
have to choose between Tsvangirai or Mugabe or any of the other politicians
waiting in the wings. After all, that's not their call to make. Instead,
they have to prioritize the dignity and rights of the Zimbabwean people.
That means that the unity government solution favored by many African Union
members must be transitional in nature, and negotiations to get there must
have at their core a clear, enforceable path to free and fair elections,
real transparency, and accountability in government.
But shifting the focus to the Zimbabwean people, as a first step, starts
with acknowledging that the current government of Zimbabwe has no legitimate
claim to power and no standing to dictate the terms of a power-sharing
negotiation, regardless of the sham runoff result.
That's not an attack on Robert Mugabe. It's a show of support for
Michelle Gavin is an adjunct fellow for Africa at the Council on Foreign
Robert Dreyfuss Tue Jul 8, 10:48 AM ET
The Nation -- In the latest issue of Time magazine, Samantha Power -- the
author of A Problem from Hell and a former adviser to Barack Obama --
proposes a radical solution for the crisis in Zimbabwe. Her solution needs a
thoughtful reply, because in my opinion it's dangerously misguided. [See
http://www.zimbabwesituation.com/jul4a_2008.html for the articel]
Power rose to fame by proclaiming the importance of preventing genocide in
failed and failing states, and her book (subtitled "America and the Age of
Genocide") is focused on that hellish problem. But she wouldn't be so
important were she not a formative adviser to Obama's still-evolving
worldview. Her book has lengthy chapters on Cambodia and Rwanda, among
others, but its real focus has been the shattered remnants of Yugoslavia,
where President Clinton and NATO intervened with force in the 1990s.
In her Time essay, "Saving Zimbabwe," Power counterposes what she calls two
extremes: "hand-wringing ... multilateralists" who want to use diplomacy and
"constructive engagement" to deal with Robert Mugabe and "consequence-blind
militarism by zealous moralists who call for regime change by force." Thus,
she neatly sets herself up as the Goldilocks of the happy middle.
In a nutshell, Power's plan is for the Zimbabwean opposition to "set up a
government-in-exile and appoint ambassadors abroad -- including to the UN."
That would force the United Nations to choose between Mugabe's rep and that
of the opposition of Morgan Tsvangirai. She wants to challenge the world to
take sides between countries that support the March 29 vote that was won by
the opposition and countries that accept the rigged, June 27 action by
Mugabe to perpetuate his rule.
One by one, those African and Western leaders who claim to be disgusted with
Mugabe should announce that they bilaterally recognize the validity of the
March 29 first-round election results, which showed the opposition winning
48% to 43%, though the margin was almost surely larger. The countries which
do would make up the new "March 29 bloc" within the U.N. and would declare
Morgan Tsvangirai the new President of Zimbabwe. They would then announce
that Mugabe and the 130 leading cronies who have already been sanctioned by
the West will not be permitted entry to their airports. ...
If "the U.N." is disaggregated into its component parts, Mugabe's friends
will be exposed. "June 27" countries will be those who favor electoral
theft, while "March 29" countries will be those who believe that the
Zimbabweans aren't the only ones who should stand up and be counted.
Sounds good, right? But here's the problem. Not every country in the world
is ready for an all-in showdown over Zimbabwe. Many countries in Africa,
including South Africa, are worried about the political, economic, and
military consequences of forcing the issue. Just yesterday, at the G-8
meeting in Japan, Western leaders foudn themselves pitted in direct
opposition to African leaders over Zimbabwe. Here's the Toronto Globe and
Mail on the subject:
Group of Eight leaders yesterday pushed the heads of African nations to take
strong steps toward forcing Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe out of power,
exposing divisions between major developed countries and Africans, who
raised fears that tougher action might tip the volatile country into civil
African leaders expressed frustration with the situation in Zimbabwe, but
also called for caution. Last week, a split African Union conference opted
not to censure Mr. Mugabe.
The union's leader, Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete, told reporters that
the Africans believe the solution is a government that includes Mr. Mugabe
and the opposition.
I'd say that Africans' fears of civil war (and close-to-genocidal
bloodletting that could follow) are realistic. And it's by no means clear
that Russia, China, and other world powers who are suspicious of US and
Western efforts to topple regimes they don't like would go along with
Samantha Power's plan. So her plan to carve up the world into "March 29"
countries and "June 27" countries is a recipe for disaster, and it could
result in creating animosity, division, and bloc vs. bloc rivalries that
could undermine the possibility of diplomatic solutions for the war in Iraq,
the showdown over Iran's nuclear program, the North Korea issue, and others.
Power says correctly that the situation in Zimbabwe involves "ruthlessless
and savagery." But it hardly rises to the level of genocide. (That doesn't
stop Nat Hentoff, a libertarian, human rights activist who writes for the
Moonie-owned Washington Times from calling Mugabe "the Hitler of Africa" and
describing him as "satanic.") If her idea works for Zimbabwe, why not apply
it to a couple of dozen other countries around the world? What if the
Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood declared itself a government-in-exile for Egypt,
Syria, and Jordan? Why not back the Cuban-American National Foundation as
government-in-exile for Cuba? Why not apply it to the 'Stans, to Russia? Why
not back efforts by revanchists in Taiwan to declare themselves the
legitimate government of China? (Oops, we tried that for a while, didn't
Though Samantha Power is motivated not by imperial designs but by a moral
imperative, her solution for Zimbabwe is the perfect example of democracy
promotion run wild. The long-suffering people of Zimbabwe will eventually
get justice. Mugabe is in his mid-80s and won't be around forever, and when
he dies the military gang around him is likely to disintegrate. In the
meantime, perhaps Thabo Mbeki of South Africa and other African leaders can
damp down the violence by persuading Mugabe and Tsvangirai to accept a
coalition government. Til then, let's not make things worse.